Film Mini-Reviews

In 2016, I began writing mini-reviews of every feature film I watched and, in 2018, I decided I’d post them here.  These reviews are all short, sweet, and spoiler-free.  I only write mini-reviews for films that I am seeing for the first time, so every film on this list is one that I first saw in 2016 or later.  As a film student, I obviously watched loads of films before 2016, which explains why a lot of classics like Citizen Kane, King Kong, and The Godfather are absent from here.

I also have a rule that I won’t write a review for any film unless I watch all of it, so sometimes I’ve forced myself to persevere to the end just so I could comment on how bad I thought a film was.  Check back and scroll through titles often because new reviews will be added all the time.  I’m currently uploading over 200 reviews that I’ve written over the last 2 years and then will also continue adding new ones as I watch more films.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Nothing really worthwhile here.  Yeah, it manages to be pretty tense at times, but the ending was stupid and I have no idea what it has to do with Cloverfield.  John Goodman really brought his A-game with that performance though; good for him.

(2 / 5)

12 Strong (2018)

This film feels like it doesn’t know if it wants to be a war movie or an action movie. The action in the film is entertaining, although it probably isn’t all that realistic.  Considering it’s a true story, I won’t complain about the plot too much.  Meh.

(2.5 / 5)

Absolute Power (1997)

Very solid. Well written in general; there were some great one-liners and such in there.  Eastwood seemed a bit old to be doing most of the stuff he was doing in this one, but ok.

(4 / 5)

Aftermath (2017)

Not so good. There wasn’t anything wrong with the story per se; it just wasn’t told well.  Arnie was a poor casting choice because he just didn’t have the emotional range necessary for the part he played.  The true story is way more interesting than the film.

(2.5 / 5)

All the Money In the World (2017)

This is one of the least thrilling “thrillers” I’ve seen in a while.  Almost none of the characters have any personality or chemistry with one another and the movie itself feels soulless as it slowly and aimlessly drudges along.  I suppose we’ll never know for sure, but I actually don’t think the re-casting/re-shoots had much of a negative effect on the film; Plummer’s performance fits just fine. Hell, Mark Wahlberg feels more out of place, and he’d been there from the beginning.  Competent, but uninspired.

(2 / 5)

Annihilation (2018)

I’ve heard it described as being too “intellectual” for mainstream audiences… Hahahahahaha, no it’s just a crap movie.  I swear the story logic in this self-important mess is atrocious.  I’ll admit the ending is interesting, but not nearly enough to redeem the film in any way.

(2 / 5)

Anomalisa (2015)

I’d say it was great if the whole movie had been more like the first half.  The second half just started getting too weird for me and I feel like the message got lost.  On a technical level though, it’s truly remarkable.  I’d consider it worth checking out, especially if you like stop-motion animation.

(3.5 / 5)

Arrival (2016)

Eh…  I think I appreciate what it was trying to do, I just don’t think it did it very well.  It also had this dark, dingy, desaturated look I really didn’t care for.

(2.5 / 5)

Baby Driver (2017)

It’s not bad.  The story itself is pretty bland and derivative and, if given to a less talented director, it would have ended up a forgettable film.  But, Edgar Wright was able to really work his magic on this one and turn it into something fairly entertaining and original.  Still though, many aspects of the script are questionable or just blatantly stupid.  I guess you could say it’s a forgettable story that’s told in an unforgettable way.

(3 / 5)

The Bad Batch (2016)

A bad movie with a great setting and some good ideas sprinkled here and there.  Considering the potential this movie had, they chose to tell a really dumb story.

(2 / 5)

Batman: The Movie (1966)

Even dumber and cheesier than I would have expected, but in a good way.  There’s definitely a distinct charm to it and the special effects are legendary.

(3.5 / 5)

Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Meh.  Emma Stone and Steve Carrell were both well cast and did a great job.  There’s nothing explicitly wrong with the movie per se, it just made me feel like I’d rather be watching a documentary.  For a movie about tennis players, there was surprisingly little tennis shown on screen.

(2.5 / 5)

Ben-Hur (1959)

It hasn’t aged as gracefully as other biblical films of the era and the plot, although very epic and grand, is pretty questionable (the story seems to go on tangents that don’t always serve the same thematic purpose).  It kinda feels like a fanfic of the Bible.  The chariot race is excellent of course and there is surely a lot to enjoy about this film, especially the lavish production design.

(3 / 5)

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

This is a very “sex, drugs, and rock n roll” type of movie, but beyond that, there isn’t much of value here.  It’s just all over the place and the editing is really awkward.  The crazy ending comes completely out of left field.

(2 / 5)

Black Dynamite (2009)

This movie certainly has its moments, but it’s not quite goofy and over the top enough to be as consistently entertaining or quotable as you’d probably expect from this type of film.  It’s kinda like the film doesn’t have a lot of good jokes or gags so much as the film is a joke in and of itself.  Michael Jai White gives a great performance, especially considering he isn’t just playing Black Dynamite, he’s also kinda playing the actor who plays Black Dynamite.  The movie does a great job at mimicking the look, sound, and feel of a cheap blaxploitation film from the 70s (gotta love those awkward zooms).  So, if you’re a fan of the genre, it’s definitely worth at least checking out.  Otherwise though, it’s unfortunately kinda forgettable.

(2.5 / 5)

Black Panther (2018)

I don’t hate the MCU, I just think very few MCU films have been particularly good or even bad for that matter.  Most of them are just passively neutral and the factors that keep them in that small window of averageness tend to be reoccurring ones. I really can’t be expected to ignore the fake-looking and over-present visual effects, the conveniently bloodless deaths by bladed weapons, the blandness and predictability of the plot, the action scenes which just feel like a kid smashing toys together, and the sometimes cringe-inducing attempts at “timely” humor.  Am I talking about Black Panther or the MCU in general?  Yes.  Ultimately the only thing I can really fault Black Panther for is being a Marvel movie and all the trademark sterility and blandness that comes with that.  The best attributes of this movie (like the coolness of Wakandan culture and of Black Panther’s costume design) are mostly things I’d give more credit to the original comics for, honestly.  In the company of many other similar films that are mostly just variations of “okay,” this one doesn’t really stand out much.

(3 / 5)

Black Snake Moan (2007)

It was pretty meh.  Sam Jackson, Christina Ricci, and Justin Timberlake were all interesting to watch, but the movie just felt kinda weird and not necessarily in a good way.

(3 / 5)

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Pretty great actually.  This is one of my favorite additions to the “Ryan Gosling quietly staring at things while being lit in an artsy way” genre.  It was a beautiful looking movie for sure and I think it told an overall good story that really built upon the original and didn’t feel forced in the slightest.  The only big issue is that the third act really seemed to fall flat compared to the rest of the movie.  The climactic scene feels like a minor set-piece that will lead into an epic climax rather than being the climax itself.

(4.5 / 5)

Blindness (2008)

Really dark and disturbing.  Not bad though, albeit some moments were unrealistic.  I also feel like the film left a few too many things unexplained.  I get ambiguity can be a good thing, but too much of it just feels like lazy writing.

(3 / 5)

Blue Hawaii (1961)

It’s an Elvis movie, so I expected a small scale and light-hearted film that isn’t exactly a cinematic masterwork but still has a genuine charm to it because… ya know, it’s Elvis.  Well, that’s pretty much exactly what I got.  It had the added benefit of being set in Hawaii, so the scenery and culture showcased in the film made it all the more pleasant to watch.

(3.5 / 5)

Blue Ruin (2013)

Decent flick.  Nothing “brilliant” per se, but a very solid low budget revenge thriller.  It’s very brutal as well; the violence was realistic and well done.

(4 / 5)

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

This movie feels like the first draft of something written by a 13 year old boy who saw a few Quentin Tarantino movies and decided “hey, I can do that.”  Sure, some of the dialogue is good and the killings and gore are creative and well-executed if you’re into that sort of thing, but just about everything else is lazy, cheap, tedious, or just plain stupid.  There is no satisfaction to be had with this film, it’s just boring as hell.

(1 / 5)

Borg McEnroe (2017)

Well, it certainly wasn’t bad.  Gudnason’s performance in particular was incredible; his resemblance to Borg in both appearance and persona is uncanny.  For a movie that bounces back and forth in time, it never felt confusing or like it was taking away from the story.  I think this is because everything shown had a purpose and was shown at the right time.  This was a very serious movie from beginning to end, and I think it could have used a bit of levity.

(3.5 / 5)

Born to be Blue (2015)

Going into this film, I knew very little about Chet Baker. Coming out of it… I still know very little about Chet Baker. For a biopic, this film provides minimal insight other than “his life was troubled… for some reason” and “he liked heroin… a lot.” Even though it isn’t all that insightful, Ethan Hawke’s performance is the best thing about the movie by far.

(2 / 5)

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

I really wanted to like this movie, but it ended up being quite disappointing.  Vince Vaughn was terrific in the film and he absolutely disappeared into the role.  The practical effects during scenes of violence were a nice thing to see, despite being kind of cheap looking and cheesy in some spots.  The problem with this movie is the plot; it’s just chock full of holes which constantly had me thinking “wait, why didn’t they just do this?” or “well, that would never happen.”  In particular, the circumstances leading to the protagonist’s incarceration were very poorly thought out.  Many of the holes and lapses in logic were things that didn’t have to be done the way they were; the same story beats could have been accomplished in a way that would have been more believable.  It’s really a shame, because this film certainly had the ingredients of a good movie, but that’s just not what ended up on the screen.

(2 / 5)

The Bridge (2006)

I think I would have liked this film a lot more if the stories within it were presented with more structure and clarity.  Still, the unsettlingly voyeuristic nature of the film’s premise and execution is unforgettable.  Taking risks is an important aspect of the creation of art and the risks taken here make this the kind of documentary that really stays with you.

(3.5 / 5)

Brubaker (1980)

Decent. It does a good job showing just how brutal prison can be and how nobody cares about prisoners.  It’s a very powerful film and has what is probably one of the greatest “slow clap” scenes in history.

(3.5 / 5)

Cat Ballou (1965)

Surprisingly good!  This film is a very different kind of western.  It has a decent and original story that’s well told.  It’s funny and entertaining throughout despite feeling somewhat dated.

(4 / 5)

CBGB (2013)

It was ok. The main character was such a slob that he was kinda difficult to relate to, but seeing how bands like Blondie, The Ramones, and Talking Heads got started kept it interesting.

(3 / 5)

Chappaquiddick (2017)

It’s a competent, but not particularly remarkable or compelling dramatization of the true (?) story.  If you hate the Kennedys and think Ted is fully culpable, this movie lets you keep thinking that.  If you love the Kennedys and think Ted just made a mistake and then handled the fallout of it poorly, this movie lets you keep thinking that too.

(2.5 / 5)

Circle (2015)

Ultimately, it’s no better than its premise, but its premise is pretty good. It raises some interesting ethical quandaries and makes you think. The acting gets the job done, but don’t expect anything award-worthy. For better or worse, the film leaves just about no stone unturned when it comes to social commentary, some of which is eye-roll inducing in its heavy handedness and makes for some cringeworthy dialogue. Surprisingly though, none of that holds the movie back too much.

(3.5 / 5)

Clear and Present Danger (1994)

Despite not having much action, it manages to feel compelling all the way through. There’s some political bureaucratic tediousness, but it doesn’t disrupt the flow too much.

(4 / 5)

Coco (2017)

Being a Disney/Pixar movie, it’s pretty predictable and clichéd.  That being said, it does the formula, but it does it well.  It manages to be entertaining, funny, touching, and visually striking.  Just because it’s not unique doesn’t mean it’s not decent.

(3.5 / 5)

Collateral Beauty (2016)

Not so good, but had potential.  The plot… ugh, there’s a good story in there somewhere, but boy does this film suck at presenting it.  A bunch of great actors give lousy performances; a common symptom of poor direction. If this script had been given to a better director, it could have been tweaked enough to make for a pretty decent movie.  I did like some of the philosophy preached in the film though.

(1.5 / 5)

Colossal (2016)

A bad movie that wasted a great premise.  The characters were unlikable and their actions and motivations didn’t make any sense.  The monster stuff was all very well done, but I’d say it’s not worth subjecting yourself to the rest of the movie just for that.

(1.5 / 5)

The Comedian (2016)

The meh-est of mehs.  De Niro was ok as a comedian and seeing him onscreen with Harvey Keitel was entertaining.

(2.5 / 5)

The Commuter (2018)

It’s better than I expected.  The film starts off as a smart dramatic thriller with a great premise (I’d go so far as to say it has “Hitchcockian” vibes), but then it kind of devolves into a standard “Liam Neeson being a badass while trying to protect his family” action movie.  Not that this type of movie is a bad thing, it’s just that this film in particular didn’t need to go that route.  The slowly unraveling mystery creates enough tension on its own and I think the film would have worked better if it just stuck with being a low-key thriller.  Instead it turns out feeling like a great film trapped inside a good film; the end result is still positive, but there’s this lingering feeling that it could have been much better.  I’ve seen a lot of people compare this film to Non-Stop, and yes, they are quite similar.  Between the two though, I’d say this one is distinctly better.

(3.5 / 5)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Entertaining at times and has an interesting although incredibly far-fetched premise.  It’s cheesy as hell too, and not really in a good way.  Watchable, but just barely.

(2.5 / 5)

Crash (1996)

Promising concept, but it didn’t really feel like it had a point.  There wasn’t much of a plot, just kind of a collection of erotic scenes involving cars.  David Cronenberg has made some great movies for sure, but this isn’t one of them.

(2.5 / 5)

Criminal Activities (2015)

It really took a while to get going.  There was certainly some good dialogue and a few awesome scenes.  The film could have benefited from a more clearly defined individual protagonist.  The big twist at the end came completely out of nowhere; it wasn’t even really foreshadowed so it didn’t feel all that satisfying.

(3 / 5)

Daddy’s Home Two (2017)

This has gotta be one of the biggest comedy misfires I’ve seen in a long time, particularly considering the talent involved.  The only reason I bothered to finish this film is that some of the attempts at humor are so bad that it’s genuinely intriguing, like a wreck that you just can’t look away from.

(1.5 / 5)

Darkest Hour (2017)

A lot of historical dramas take the easy way out by just relying on the weight of the source material to carry the film. This one doesn’t do that; it’s obvious that a lot of effort was put into making this a good and entertaining film all around. Also, Gary Oldman’s performance is nothing short of brilliant.

(4 / 5)

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Ya know, it was decent I suppose.  Better than most superhero movies nowadays for sure, but not quite as good as I’d expect from a Deadpool movie.  The action was good, the characters were (mostly) good, the cinematography and overall presentation was good, the plot was okay.  Unlike the first film, there were times in this movie when I actually felt bored.  The thing that surprisingly bothered me was how inconsistent the humor was, which is one of the most important aspects of a Deadpool movie.  Many of the jokes here just didn’t land, overstayed their welcome, or were groan-inducingly dated or destined to become dated pretty soon.  This is all a matter of personal taste I suppose and, don’t get me wrong, much of the humor was totally on point, it’s just that a noticeable amount of it wasn’t, very much unlike the previous film.  Still, there are plenty of surprises in there, and most of them are good ones.  If I’m disappointed, I think that says more about my expectations than the film itself.

(3.5 / 5)

Death Note (2017)

Had potential, but nope.  There were some good ideas in the movie and I appreciate that they tried to do something different, but I feel like they chose all the wrong things to change.  L absolutely SUCKED in this movie.  The only thing I think they did right was Ryuk.

(2 / 5)

Death Wish (2018)

Screw the critics.  I heard one describe this movie as “vigilante dad rock,” and I’d actually agree, although I’m pretty sure they meant it in a bad way and I don’t.  It’s not as intense or serious as the original, but it’s not trying to be.  In fact, I’d say it’s different from the original in all the right ways and does a great job updating the story.  Sure, Bruce Willis phones it in a little, but you can tell he’s having a good time.  Eli Roth delivers a solid, albeit flawed, vigilante revenge thriller with a healthy (but not too excessive) dose of his signature brutality.  I’ve heard some accuse the film of having a “meatheaded message,” but the film really doesn’t take itself too seriously and so it has the kind of tone where you can take the message however you want.  If you’re in the mood for a gritty but fun action film, you can’t go wrong here.

(3.5 / 5)

The Descent (2005)

A genuinely scary and claustrophobic horror movie.  This one found a good work-around for the whole “cell phones ruin horror movies” thing and it stays tense throughout.  A bloody good time.

(4 / 5)

Despicable Me (2010)

I thought it was kinda stupid actually.  Really just a matter of being too over the top for my taste.  The minions were cool though.

(2 / 5)

The Disaster Artist (2017)

The source material is definitely the best thing about this movie; if it wasn’t a true story, I don’t think it’d work on its own terms. That being said, it’s definitely enjoyable, especially for fans of The Room. As the director and star, James Franco’s performance is definitely his greater contribution to the film. There was clearly a lot of effort put into recreating scenes from The Room, which makes for one of the more enjoyable aspects of this film.

(3 / 5)

The Discovery (2017)

A great idea that turned into an okay movie.  There’s nothing all that wrong with it per se, it just feels like almost every aspect of it (story-wise) could have been done better.  I think the script could have used just one more draft.  The philosophical questions posed particularly in the ending redeemed the film a bit, but only enough for me to consider it “worth watching.”

(3 / 5)

Doctor Strange (2016)

It was alright.  The spiritual/mystic elements were a welcome addition to the MCU and the visual effects were well done (albeit excessive at times) which made the film a real visual feast.  The story itself was sort of confusing and pretty banal.

(3 / 5)

A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Great premise, adequate execution.  I feel like Josh Gad wasn’t the best choice for the voice of the dog.

(3 / 5)

Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996)

This movie was actually much funnier than I expected and it did a great job at using a very visual and cinematic approach to comedy that’s lacking in so many films today.  It’s worth checking out if you’re into the types of movies it’s spoofing and in the mood for a good laugh.

(3.5 / 5)

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

I know people really love this movie, but honestly I found it super boring and I didn’t like it at all. I mean, it’s not a bad movie, but this seriously beat Dead Poets Society and Born on the Fourth of July for the best picture Oscar? Really?

(3 / 5)

Duel (1971)

This is a very B movie made by a very A-list director, but in the end it’s still a B movie. It’s no masterpiece, but Spielberg makes it work with his mastery of pacing and camerawork.

(3.5 / 5)

Eames: The Architect and the Painter (2011)

From a filmmaking point of view, the film is nothing special, but its subjects are fascinating.  A worthwhile documentary about two of the most influential people you’ve probably never heard of.

(3 / 5)

Eight Men Out (1988)

This film does a good job of really immersing you in a time and a place and I suppose, if you’re already interested in the subject matter, it doesn’t really do anything that would turn you off.  However, it doesn’t give you much of a reason to be interested either and doesn’t feel like it knows what it’s even about on a thematic level, so I personally find this movie rather soulless and boring.

(2.5 / 5)

Election (1999)

Well, this movie is very different and I appreciate that, but I can’t say I find it all that enjoyable.  Reese Witherspoon gives a great performance and I can see what people like about this movie, but it feels like it doesn’t know exactly what it’s trying to be or who its audience is.

(2.5 / 5)

Elvis and Nixon (2016)

Surprisingly funny; great awkward comedy. Took a long time to get going though. Kevin Spacey was incredible as Nixon. Michael Shannon… I don’t know. He’s a great actor, I’m just not sure he was the right choice for Elvis.

(3.5 / 5)

The Equalizer (2014)

It’s basically John Wick, only not nearly as entertaining, original, stylish, or worth your time.  There are some scenes where the music feels quite intrusive and ruins what would have otherwise been an intense moment.

(2.5 / 5)

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

A worthy sequel; it’s surprisingly good.  I like how it deepens the lore of the franchise while giving us what is essentially a reversal of the plot of the first film.  It was cool to see Ricardo Montalban.

(3.5 / 5)

Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

This is one of those slice-of-life movies that’s just interesting enough to keep you watching all the way through, but nothing to ultimately write home about.  If you like Richard Linklater’s films, it’s worth a watch.

(3 / 5)

Eye in the Sky (2015)

Tense at times, tedious at others.  Overall, it’s a decent examination of the strategic and political side of drone warfare.

(3.5 / 5)

Fallen Angels (1995)

Eh.  I really liked the camerawork and visual style.  I wish more movies were shot this way with such a wide angle lens right in the middle of the action.  The things going on in the film weren’t very interesting to me and didn’t make much sense.  The characters and their relationships to each other also weren’t well established.  This movie was originally intended as a third story in Chungking Express and I think it shows.

(2 / 5)

Flash Gordon (1980)

A true cult classic.  It’s so cheesy and weird, but that just makes it fun.  The production design is actually very well done.  Timothy Dalton and Max Von Sydow are both a blast to watch.  This movie is nothing but a good time that will have you singing “FLASH! (pause) AAAHH-AAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!”

(4 / 5)

Flashdance (1983)

It was ok. The music was obviously good.  There’s a point where the main character becomes pretty unlikeable (slapping the dude, throwing a brick through his window), and the movie never really acknowledges that those were like, ya know… bad things to do.

(3 / 5)

Flatliners (2017)

It feels as though it begins with a lot of potential, but never really lives up to it. The “death” scenes are pretty bland and the horror scenes aren’t very scary.  That being said, it’s not bad; it just constantly feels very meh and unnecessary.

(2.5 / 5)

The Florida Project (2017)

It’s a decent slice of life film that surely feels “authentic” when it comes to the performances and it’s very well shot, but still leaves something to be desired in the narrative.  The focus is sort of on the harsh realities of the adult world and also sort of on the blissful ignorance of those realities in the childhood world, but never really commits to either, which I find unsatisfying.  I don’t think the ending is bad per se, but it would have worked a lot better had it been at least somewhat foreshadowed earlier in the film.

(3 / 5)

The Founder (2016)

It was alright.  A nice examination of what it really takes to achieve the American Dream.  I liked Nick Offerman’s character.

(3 / 5)

Friday the 13th (2009)

Well it beats Rob Zombie’s Halloween by a mile, but that isn’t really saying much.  Aside from having a somewhat unique structure, this film is pretty much just as unmemorable as any other contemporary cash-grabbing horror flick. If you’re a Friday the 13th fan it might be worth a watch, but if you’re anyone else it’s pretty skippable.

(2.5 / 5)

Game Night (2018)

The cinematic quality and presentation of this film is actually pretty good and feels like a lot of effort was put in to the shot composition and overall visual style. Rachel McAdams’ performance is also quite good.  The comedy? Not so much.  Most of the attempts at humor are really lazy and/or predictable and it brings the movie down a few pegs making it pretty boring at times.  The whole thing feels like a wasted concept.

(2 / 5)

Game of Death (1978)

Wow that was a terrible movie and in poor taste to cash in on Bruce’s death like that.  He really didn’t shoot enough to construct a reasonable story, so the result is just a mess.

(1 / 5)

Geostorm (2017)

This movie is pretty stupid.  It feels like a SyFy Channel original movie, but with a big budget and a complete lack of self-awareness.  I suppose there may be some “ironic” enjoyment to be had with this film, but more often than not, it’s just uninteresting.

(2 / 5)

Get Out (2017)

Is it different than other horror movies?  Yes and no.  Is it better?  Yes… and no.  It’s different in that it makes a strong effort to slowly build intrigue and scare the viewer in a subtle way that is more psychological than visceral.  The problem is that it utilizes and, in some cases, relies on a lot of stale horror tropes to do this (pointless jump-scares, dead cell phones, stupid cops, keeping characters in a situation they would have left immediately if they had any common sense, etc.).  It’s better than many other horror films in that a good chunk of the cinematic techniques are used well to create a tense and eerie atmosphere.  For example, the hypnotic sound design of the teacup being stirred is excellent.  It does a good job of gradually making you feel… uneasy.  I mean, any horror film that can creep the viewer out with a scene that’s set at an outdoor party in broad daylight is surely doing something right.  Where this movie really fails is the plot itself.  I can’t get into what’s specifically wrong without spoiling the film, so I’ll just generally say that it’s full of glaring plot holes and questionable logic, and the message (if there even is one) is so convoluted and unclear that it makes the whole viewing experience feel almost entirely meaningless.

(2.5 / 5)

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Fairly decent. It’s a bit heavy handed with the philosophy at times, but remains a solid sci-fi action flick nonetheless. Not the kind of thing you’ll remember years later, but… ya know, solid.

(3.5 / 5)

A Ghost Story (2017)

This is one of those films that people tend not to review so much as they pick a side (love it or hate it) and defend their position at all costs.  Really, people who loved it, you can’t love it and admit the pie scene was retarded?  Really, people who hated it, you can’t admit it had anything of value to say or that any of the filmmaking choices were clever?  Ultimately I dislike it, but I still consider it an “interesting” movie at least.  Let’s just say I wanted to turn it off halfway through, but I’m glad I didn’t.

(2.5 / 5)

Going in Style (2017)

This is one of those movies that’s exactly what you’d expect from watching the trailer.  It’s entertaining enough and doesn’t make any mistakes per se.  The main cast has great chemistry.

(3.5 / 5)

Good Time (2017)

After not really liking the Safdie Brothers’ previous film, Heaven Knows What, I didn’t go into this one with particularly high expectations, but wow… it really delivered.  Every actor in the film did a fantastic job, especially Robert Pattinson.  He sold that character so well that I never once thought of him as “that guy from Twilight.”  The soundtrack was pretty original and added to the tone of the film so incredibly well.  I do have one or two gripes with the plot.  Like, for example, there’s a twist around the halfway point that’s kinda predictable and something you’d expect from a much stupider film.  Also, having the main characters start the movie as bank robbers was a bad move I think.  It makes it harder the sympathize with the Pattinson character later on because, if he cared so much about his handicapped brother’s wellbeing, why would he involve him in a felony like that?  The story could have just as easily worked if they were merely small time criminals.  Minor plot issues aside, it was a pretty well made film that kept me engaged throughout.

(4 / 5)

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

It’s clear that a lot of effort was put into making this an artistic and creative work rather than just a factory-made product banking on intertextuality and nostalgia, which I appreciate.  Still though, I find the pacing to be a bit slow and the characterization rather inconsistent; sometimes Milne is a loving and good-natured father and sometimes he is cold and distant.  And speaking of “cold and distant,” despite being an emotional film, the complete lack of any affection displayed by nearly all of the characters is almost humorous.  I mean, perhaps this was intentional to show the coldness of Milne’s family dynamics, but jeez… not even a pat on the shoulder for your shell-shocked war buddy?  C’mon, British people.  What’s your deal?

(3 / 5)

Goon (2011)

Decent.  It presents itself as a dumb comedy, but has a lot of heart too.  The only real issue is that sometimes those two elements are difficult to balance.

(3.5 / 5)

Gorillas in the Mist (1988)

I feel like there isn’t much to say about it other than, if you like the subject matter, you’ll probably like the movie and, if you don’t, you probably won’t. Regardless, Dian Fossey is an interesting character who is portrayed very well by Sigourney Weaver and the gorilla effects are well done for the time.

(3 / 5)

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Eh…  It was depressing alright.  The characters and animation were well done, I just feel like the story could have had more to it.  It was kinda boring.

(2.5 / 5)

The Greatest Showman (2017)

It’s an entertaining spectacle of a movie; that’s for sure.  The music is decent and I guess you could say it pretty much delivers on all its promises, although it doesn’t really make any big ones.  The plot and characters aren’t bad or anything, but they leave something to be desired.  This is really one of those movies where what you see is what you get.

(3 / 5)

Gringo (2018)

This so-called comedy spends too much time being completely unfunny while it sets up a way too complicated story in which one of the major subplots doesn’t even need to be there.  But, after this incredibly tedious first act, the film spends the rest of its runtime gradually turning into something totally watchable, unpredictable, and even funny.  Charlize Theron gives a great performance as well.

(3 / 5)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Quite good! Maybe even better than the first. It’s another one of those movies that is annoyingly “dense” visually, but that’s really the only major fault I can find with it.  The characters are all so incredibly well written and acted!

(4 / 5)

Gun Shy (2017)

Despite the grossly misleading marketing (title, poster, trailer, taglines, etc.), whatever you do, don’t go into this thinking it’s an action movie. It’s not; it’s a farcical comedy and that’s all it is. Now that that’s out of the way, is it any good? Well, there’s a good movie in there somewhere. Banderas shines in an atypical role for him and many of the other characters have distinct personalities with loads of comedic potential. Much of the humor as well is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and you’d have a hard time calling this film unoriginal. This is a dumb movie, but it knows what it is and it doesn’t treat you like you’re dumb for watching it. On the other hand, many of the less obvious but still important things like the music, story logic, subplots, and some of the jokes feel lazy and rushed which really bogs the film down and will probably be what keeps it from achieving the “cult” status it might have been going for. Overall, it feels like either a bad movie that someone managed to salvage or a good movie someone managed to ruin.

(2.5 / 5)

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Pretty good.  I know the whole “war is hell” thing is played out, but this movie really did a great job showing that.  Doss’s story is one that needed to be told and it was told very well.  This is also one of those war movies that isn’t all serious and emotionally draining the whole time; there are quite a few entertaining moments.

(4 / 5)

Halloween (2007)

This is one of those rare films that’s horrible on almost every level.  The directing, casting, acting, dialogue, plot, camerawork, story logic, music choices, and pacing are all groan inducing or laughable at best and downright infuriating at worst.  There may actually not be a single thing this movie did right.  I don’t know how someone can love the original Halloween and other classic horror films of the golden age like The Wolfman and Dracula (as Rob Zombie supposedly does) without seeming to have learned anything about horror filmmaking from any of them.  Despite having some good actors at his disposal (Dee Wallace, Malcom McDowell, and William Forsythe) Zombie manages to get lousy performances out of all of them.  The guy is just an awful filmmaker; that’s really all there is to it.  Honestly, Halloween: Resurrection was better than this.  Yeah, the one with Busta Rhymes.  I’m serious.

(1 / 5)

The Handmaiden (2016)

I feel like it’s more weird and perverted than it needs to be to get the point across, but it’s quite good nonetheless.  There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns to keep things interesting.

(4 / 5)

Hardcore Henry (2015)

Quite a novel movie experience.  Some of the stunts/effects I honestly have no idea how they pulled off.  It’s a blast to watch.  It’s one of those movies that really gets better as it goes on.  My only real issues are that the first person perspective is a bit disorienting at times and I felt like seeing Henry’s face near the end was unneeded.

(4 / 5)

Hellfighters (1968)

Decent.  Definitely had an “old movie” pace and tone to it, but not so much that it ruined anything.  The fires were quite impressively done.

(3.5 / 5)

Hello, My Name Is Doris (2015)

Not so much. The story was alright, but the problem is with how they chose to tell it.  The tone feels very unbalanced.  This could have been good as a lighthearted comedy with some poignant moments or a sad drama with some funny lines here and there, but they tried to do both and it just didn’t work.

(2 / 5)

Hellraiser (1987)

Eh… not so much.  The practical effects and makeup are great, but the problem is it isn’t scary and the story is really boring up until the third act.

(2 / 5)

Hereditary (2018)

This film ruined my whole day; it’s great!  The horror isn’t cheap at all, it’s unsettling and really gets under your skin especially when viewed with an audience.  You could say this film is “artsy,” but thankfully only in ways that actually enhance the experience.  Everything shown either has a very clear purpose for being shown or at least feels like it belongs there.  Toni Collette is nothing short of amazing here.  In fact, all of the actors do a great job… except Alex Wolff.  My god, his lousy performance actually makes it hard to enjoy certain parts of the film. The way he cries in this movie is unintentionally funny.  Another thing that really gets in the way is the unconvincing CGI, particularly of things like flies and maggots.  It’s not used too often, but when it is, oh boy does it look fake and takes me out of the experience.  I didn’t hate the ending, I just maybe wish it was done or explained a little differently or something, I dunno…  Overall, this is one of the better horror films I’ve seen in recent years, but unfortunately still isn’t without flaws.

(4 / 5)

Hidden Figures (2016)

It was alright. The performances were pretty decent and it did a good job illustrating the absurdity of segregation.  I suppose it’s more effective if you don’t already know the true story.

(3.5 / 5)

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

As an action movie, it was bland and generic as hell.  As a comedy, it was pretty good.  It’s one of those movies that’s exactly what you would have expected from watching the trailer, so that’s a good thing at least.

(3.5 / 5)

Hostel (2005)

It’s ok.  Over the top, yet believable and with a slow buildup.  The practical effects are very well done.

(3 / 5)

Hotel Artemis (2018)

This movie has a cool and creative premise, an interesting and well-developed world, a great performance from Jodie Foster, and a narrative that doesn’t really make any big mistakes… and that’s about it.  Despite having a lot going for it, in the end, this film is kinda just “okay.” It’s not really an action movie, but the action there is isn’t anything all that special.  Kinda boring at times and overall forgettable, but not “bad.”

(2.5 / 5)

Hype! (1996)

This documentary about the late 80s to mid 90s Seattle music scene is really well put together and has a lot of character.  It’s practically required viewing for any fan of grunge music.

(3.5 / 5)

I, Tonya (2017)

This movie clearly tries very hard to make Tonya Harding a sympathetic character and it almost succeeds.  The film presents itself as though it’s telling a story based on multiple conflicting accounts of what happened from different perspectives, but it ends up not really doing that at all.  The acknowledged subjectivity of the storytelling and fourth wall breaks feel less like they’re part of the film’s overall style and more like they were just thrown in because “hey, it worked in The Big Short, right?”  Honestly, it comes off like an okay movie trying really hard to be an “Oscar” movie. Don’t get me wrong though, there is definitely enjoyment to be had here; Margot Robbie’s performance is pretty good and the film manages to be solidly entertaining all the way through.  Beyond that, it’s nothing particularly remarkable.

(3 / 5)

Ice Guardians (2016)

A surprisingly good documentary that really challenges you and makes a compelling case.  It felt a bit longer than it needed to be, but it kept me engaged the whole way through even though I personally am not all that interested in hockey.

(4 / 5)

The Invisible Man (1933)

It’s ok.  I don’t really see how this was ever considered a horror film.  I mean, the story is interesting and everything, but it’s not scary and doesn’t even feel like it’s trying to be.  The effects are well done and Claude Rains gives an excellent performance.  It’s another old movie that’s good, but really hasn’t aged well.

(3 / 5)

The Invitation (2015)

A pretty good horror film with a constant unsettling feel to it.  Despite most of the movie being just people in a room talking, it’s tense as hell.  It’s the kind of film that really keeps you guessing all the way through.

(4 / 5)

IT (2017)

In a genre of mostly crap, this film is as good as you should ever expect a mainstream contemporary horror film to be.  Pennywise is creepy as hell and the kids do a good job with their performances.  Each kid has an arc and we spend just the right amount of time with each of them.  Yes, it has a lot of jump-scares, but I’d say this film is an example of jump-scares done properly (for the most part).  The problem though is that the movie relies so heavily on them that it hurts the re-watchability quite a bit.  This film gets pretty cheesy at times, in particular with how over-the-top the bullies are (a common Stephen King trope), but it’s cheesy in a way that I personally find enjoyable.  There doesn’t feel like there’s much of a structure to the movie; kinda just “this happens, and then that happens, and then this other thing happens, and then it’s over, so go watch part 2…”

(3.5 / 5)

It Comes At Night (2017)

As a horror movie, it was a refreshing experience.  It felt very tense and the director’s use of tone was excellent.  I also liked how small scale it felt; this really added to the paranoia.  Some of the characters’ actions toward the end didn’t quite make a lot of sense, so it left a bad taste in my mouth, but overall the film was still a good one.

(3.5 / 5)

It Happened At The World’s Fair (1963)

It’s an Elvis movie, so I expected a small scale and light-hearted film that isn’t exactly a cinematic masterwork but still has a genuine charm to it because… ya know, it’s Elvis.  Well, that’s pretty much exactly what I got.  It had the added benefit of being set in Seattle, so that gave it an angle that I personally enjoyed more.  It’s very pleasant to watch, but ultimately it’s nothing more than a standard rom-com.

(3 / 5)

Jagged Edge (1985)

Glenn Close gave an amazing performance and the film definitely kept me interested throughout.  But I really didn’t like the ending, and not the infamous unintentional ambiguity of it either.  It’s like it primed me for a twist, but then didn’t deliver one which just felt massively disappointing.

(3 / 5)

Jailhouse Rock (1957)

It’s an Elvis movie, so I expected a small scale and light-hearted film that isn’t exactly a cinematic masterwork but still has a genuine charm to it because… ya know, it’s Elvis.  Well, that’s pretty much exactly what I got.  This is actually the first Elvis movie I watched and it definitely made me want to see more.

(3 / 5)

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

As much as you should ever expect of an action movie sequel: decent, but not as good as the first. It builds upon the lore nicely.

(3.5 / 5)

Journey to Greenland (2016)

Fairly good.  It’s a small movie that manages to do a lot.  I like how real the characters are and the setting, of course, makes it quite interesting and beautiful to look at.  A nice little character driven travel movie.

(3.5 / 5)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Surprisingly decent!  It starts off with a great premise and never lets the viewer down.  Being set within a video game gives this story a unique and always interesting set of rules that manage to stay logical and consistent. The humor is always on point here; almost none of the jokes feel lazy or dumb.  I never thought I’d say this, but Jack Black gives an excellent performance in this film.  In fact, the whole cast does a great job when you consider that they kinda have to play two characters at once (except Kevin Hart, who pretty much just plays Kevin Hart). The plot isn’t bad per se, but it admittedly leaves something to be desired and the visual effects are pretty lousy.  Still, this movie really doesn’t take itself too seriously, so I can forgive things like that to some extent.  I’m glad to see they really tried with this one and, while the end result certainly could have been better, it’s definitely as good as you have any business expecting a movie like this to be.

(3.5 / 5)

Kedi (2016)

It’s a poetic and heartwarming look at the street cats of Istanbul and the humans who care for them. It may feel repetitive at times, but it has a pretty short running time, so it’s hard to complain. The film is simple, but never dull and it’s pleasant and interesting all the way through.

(4 / 5)

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

I love the dark and disturbing yet awkwardly hilarious tone the director employs in this film, as well as in his other films (Dogtooth, The Lobster).  For me, this really distinguishes his work from that of other art-house filmmakers in a good way because his films never feel like they’re taking themselves too seriously.  The artistic choices made here all feel very deliberate and consistent with the rest of the film; nothing feels out of place or merely thrown in for the sake of being artsy.  I’ve heard this movie described as “depressing” but I don’t agree with that at all, because it made me laugh out loud quite a few times.  I wouldn’t recommend this movie to just anyone, but I definitely consider it to be a worthwhile watch.  As is the case with the director’s other work, I think that whether or not you’re going to like this film depends a lot on your sense of humor.

(4 / 5)

King Creole (1958)

It’s an Elvis movie, so I expected a small scale and light-hearted film that isn’t exactly a cinematic masterwork but still has a genuine charm to it because… ya know, it’s Elvis.  BUT, this time it was directed by Michael Curtiz, so I ended up getting something a little different.  Unfortunately though, what I got disappointed me.  It’s really a shame that the plotting of this film was so sloppy and full of holes because so many other aspects of it like the acting, directing, photography, and dialogue were so on point.  This one is often regarded as the best Elvis movie, but I just don’t know man…  It certainly could have been.  The Bourbon Street setting was pretty cool and this film features one of The King’s best performances as an actor.

(2.5 / 5)

Knight of Cups (2015)

I like Terrence Malick’s recent work a lot (Tree of Life, To the Wonder), but this one’s definitely my least favorite so far.  Despite having plots that are relayed to the viewer almost entirely visually and with voiceovers that offer insight into the emotional state of the characters rather than providing exposition, the previous two films I mentioned never really left me in the dark as to what was going on, who the characters were, and what their relationships to each other were.  This film, on the other hand, kinda did.  Hell, I wouldn’t even have known the main character was a screenwriter if I hadn’t read the back of the DVD case.  I think a big part of it was that there were just too many characters (cut the 6 women the main character gets involved with to 3 maybe?).  Despite thinking the film could have benefited from more narrative clarity, I still enjoyed it.  Visually, it’s beautiful and really takes you on a journey of the senses.  The movie kinda feels like if Californication were really artsy and introspective.

(3.5 / 5)

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Pretty good actually.  A fresh and interesting take on the Kong mythos.  Felt like The Lost World meets Apocalypse Now.  I wish there were dinosaurs though.

(3.5 / 5)

La La Land (2016)

Pretty good overall.  Good acting, great presentation, decent story.  The only real problem is that none of the music had any real staying power. This is a “musical” after all, isn’t it?

(4 / 5)

Lady Bird (2017)

Personally, I think I enjoyed the film more than I otherwise would have because it’s set near (and even name-drops) my hometown.  The film has a pretty consistently funny sense of humor and a distinct personality and the actors mostly all do a good job, particularly Saoirse Ronan.  Overall, I think “solid” is the best word to describe this film because at its worst, it isn’t so bad, but at its best, it isn’t all that remarkable either.  The only criticisms I have are that there are a few scenes that should probably have been cut because they really add nothing to the plot and the film presents itself as though it’s about Lady Bird’s tumultuous relationship with her mother, but that’s only a minor part of the film.  Its focus is much more broad than that; the story is more just generically about her growing up.  In fact, sometimes it feels a bit too generic and, in some cases, rather cliché.  Still though, if you’re in the mood for an entertaining coming-of-age film, this is a very solid example, just don’t expect a masterpiece.  Gerwig proves that, as a director, she’s one to watch going forward.

(3.5 / 5)

Last Flag Flying (2017)

This is a surprisingly good film about war with no actual war shown in it.  The performances in particular are outstanding and Bryan Cranston really steals the show.  The pace is slow and somewhat meandering for sure and it takes a while to get going, but thankfully this is one of those dramas that understands you need a little levity to avoid leaving your audience emotionally drained.  The only thing I’d really fault this film for is that sometimes it feels like it doesn’t really know what it’s about.

(3.5 / 5)

Lion (2016)

Pretty good overall!  The performances are outstanding, especially the kid.  I feel like certain things could have been presented with a bit more clarity, like for example how he goes about his search.  The emotional payoff at the end is incredibly touching.

(4 / 5)

The Lobster (2015)

This movie definitely isn’t for everyone; the absurdist humor and awkward tone will delight some and completely turn off others. Personally, I find it very enjoyable. As bizarre as it is, it all just works really well. I can safely say the story is unique and anything but predictable. The only real gripe I have with the film is that its best moments are in the first hour or so.

(4 / 5)

Logan (2017)

It was good. We really needed an R rated Wolverine movie; nothing beats claws to the face.  Had a lot of heart too.  Depressing yet hopeful, it was an excellent sendoff for Wolverine.  It was weird though that the kid just randomly started talking after having been mute for most of the movie.

(4 / 5)

Logan Lucky (2017)

Eh.  It’s one of those heist movies where the characters’ plan is really full of holes and has no shot in hell of actually working.  The revelations at the end redeem the film a bit, but ultimately not much.  There were some genuinely good performances from Daniel Craig and Adam Driver, but it’s still one of those films that made me feel like I’d just rather be watching something else.

(2.5 / 5)

Logan’s Run (1976)

The entire first half of this movie was pretty lousy. It got much better towards the end, but not enough for me to consider it any good overall. It’s cheesy and not really in a good way, just more in a not self-aware way.

(2.5 / 5)

The Lost City of Z (2016)

Maybe this was better as a book?  The movie felt kinda pointless, like what did he even discover anyway?  The performances and filmmaking were good I guess, it just felt like it was a story that really didn’t need to be told on the big screen.  I feel like I really wasted my time with this one.

(2.5 / 5)

Love, Simon (2018)

More like You’ve Got Male, amirite?  Anyway, the film isn’t bad, but it is pretty generic and predictable.  Maybe the filmmakers thought having a gay protagonist was enough of a risk, so they didn’t want to take any more.  Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s touching, sometimes it tries, but fails, to be one of those things… Honestly, this is a movie I find difficult to have any strong opinions about other than “the kids at this high school all look like they were ripped out of a Coca Cola commercial.”

(2.5 / 5)

The Love Witch (2016)

This one is a mixed bag. On a technical level, this film does an excellent job of emulating the Technicolor sexploitation thrillers of the 60s. The lighting, framing, costume design, editing, and acting all feel like they were lifted from that bygone era of cinema that was somehow classy and trashy at the same time. The story isn’t particularly good, but neither were the ones in the films this is paying homage to. The only thing that breaks the illusion is that this film feels like it can’t decide what time period it wants to be set in. The costumes, make-up, hairstyles, dialogue, male-female dynamics, and most of the production design would suggest 60s or early 70s. However the cars, some of the props (including cell phones), police uniforms, and the presence of female police officers make it seem more contemporary.

(3 / 5)

Loving Vincent (2017)

As you’d probably expect, this is an incredibly unique film with a great gimmick, but it also really delves into who Van Gogh was as an artist and as a person in a very Citizen Kane-like way.  However you saw him before watching this film, it’s almost impossible to not see him at least slightly different afterwards.  The film drags a bit in the beginning, but eventually finds its footing and, by the third act, becomes quite compelling.  Even if it didn’t have its gimmick, it would still be a good movie, which is refreshing.

(4.5 / 5)

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Meh.  It was alright, had its entertaining moments.  Felt like kinda just another unnecessary remake.

(2.5 / 5)

Magnum Force (1973)

Pretty decent. They did a good job of being similar to Dirty Harry without copying it.  An overall solid sequel.

(4 / 5)

The Man from Earth (2007)

This is one of those one-room movies that keeps you hooked throughout. It’s a very intellectual film that delves into some fascinating questions about mankind’s history, mortality, and purpose. Not exactly a light watch, but a compelling one.

(4 / 5)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Pretty boring and dated.  Despite being made in 1962, it felt like it could have been made 20 years earlier.  The ending was certainly good, but not enough to make the rest of the movie worth it.  It just hasn’t aged well I think.

(2.5 / 5)

Margaret (2011)

Well, it could have been at least an hour shorter for one thing. It’s also one of those movies where none of the characters seem like “real” people and a good chunk of the dialogue sounds like it was written by an alien who doesn’t understand how humans interact.

(2 / 5)

The Mechanic (1972)

Good for its time, but feels a little dated now.  The action and story were decent, but I just feel like there should have been a bit more to it; the running time was fairly short after all.

(3.5 / 5)

Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)

With a standard lazy sequel subtitle like “Resurrection,” you have no business expecting much from this film.  At times it feels like the most bland and generic cookie cutter action movie ever, but it still manages to have some entertainment value.

(2.5 / 5)

Midnight Express (1978)

Pretty great. It’s really hardcore, dark, and depressing.  Oliver Stone’s writing is where it really shines.  A hard film to un-see.

(4.5 / 5)

Midnight In Paris (2011)

Pretty decent. Some of it dragged a bit, but I get the point.  Definitely has the pacing, dialogue, and humor you’d expect from Woody Allen.

(3.5 / 5)

The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

I felt like this was one of those horror movies that took itself more seriously than it should have especially considering how dumb some of the logic was.  The ending was interesting, but not enough to make up for the movie being so stupid.

(2 / 5)

Millennium (1989)

Cheesy as hell and reeks of the 80s, but the time travel element of it was fairly well done and somewhat unique.

(3 / 5)

The Miracle Worker (1962)

For some reason, I went into this movie expecting it to be depressing.  Instead, it was one of the most uplifting and life-affirming cinematic journeys I’ve ever been taken on.  The performances by Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke are incredible.  The final emotional payoff feels so profound because of how well earned it is.  Believe it or not, I’ve not yet had the pleasure of being properly moved to tears by a movie, but none have come closer than this to having that effect on me.

(5 / 5)

Missing in Action (1984)

This is one of the most all-around “okay” action movies I’ve seen.  Nothing particularly bad about it, nothing particularly good.  I didn’t realize the degree to which Chuck Norris really has no charisma until now.  I don’t know why this guy got to make so many movies.

(3 / 5)

Moana (2016)

Alright. It’s kind of a standard cookie cutter Disney Pixar princess movie.  The Pacific island setting gives it a unique aesthetic.  The songs are nothing special.

(3 / 5)

Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

It was pretty meh.  While it was interesting to see how prevalent and rigid the social expectations were for women in the 50s, I don’t feel like the story itself was anything to write home about.  The art history aspect of the film kept it somewhat interesting though.

(3 / 5)

Moneyball (2011)

This just might be one of the best sports movies ever made, which is interesting considering it has comparatively little sports action taking place on screen and focuses almost entirely on the business behind it.  Aaron Sorkin’s excellent writing along with the Oscar-nominated editing really make this a thrilling and entertaining watch from start to finish.

(4.5 / 5)

Moon (2009)

Predictable, even to me.  Not as smart as it thinks it is.  Meh.

(2.5 / 5)

Moonlight (2016)

Disappointing, but not bad per se.  I like the concept and the overall presentation, I just feel like there’s a lot of missed potential.  In these types of movies, I think it’s very tempting to tell the story of someone’s life by bouncing around in time a lot, but this movie doesn’t do that, which I appreciate; it’s all chronological.  The acting is top-notch, but the characters and their relationships to one another feel unrealistic considering their circumstances.  I can buy a compassionate father figure who’s also the top drug dealer in town in a much less serious movie, but not so much in this one, which mostly presents itself as being gritty and realistic.  Plus, the drug addicted mother and the generic bullies only make the film feel more cliché (only this time it’s artsy!).  The main character is a very passive protagonist who doesn’t have much personality and many of the struggles he goes through are not properly developed.  It’s like the movie just tries to throw every adversity it can think of at the protagonist without putting much thought or care into how any of them serve the plot.  Showing us that somebody’s life is hard is not a story.

(2.5 / 5)

The Mosquito Coast (1986)

It was alright.  The Helen Mirren character kinda seemed useless.  This was a very different kind of role for Harrison Ford, which was nice to see.  I would have liked it to be more trippy and weird like Apocalypse Now or something, but maybe that’s just me.

(3 / 5)

The Mummy (1932)

Boring as hell, but nice and short so it’s hard to complain.  Karloff was great in it for sure, but I don’t think this has aged as well as some of the other Universal monster movies.

(3 / 5)

The Mummy (1959)

Not as boring as the original, but the story wasn’t as good either so I guess it was a wash.  It was nice to see my first Cushing and Lee team up though.  I know this doesn’t have anything to do with the content of the film, but I just wanna say the poster is one of my favorites for any horror film.

(3 / 5)

The Mummy (2017)

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha…  Oh boy, this movie was so impressively terrible.  Yeah Universal, good luck with that whole “Dark Universe” thing.  What were you even trying to do here?

(1 / 5)

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

There’s a lot of talent involved in this film, yet somehow it only manages to be “okay.” It creates an interesting mystery and does a good job keeping the audience guessing.  As much as I like Kenneth Branagh, his performance as Poirot in this film feels a bit self-indulgent.  I personally dislike the ending.

(3 / 5)

The Neon Demon (2016)

Overall I enjoyed it.  If you like Nicolas Winding Refn as a director, you’ll enjoy it too.  The visuals are truly stunning, maybe even more so than in Only God Forgives.  I feel like the ending was a bit too “out there” for its own good, so I left the film with a somewhat bad taste in my mouth.

(4 / 5)

Notting Hill (1999)

If I hadn’t already seen so many late 90s/early 00s rom-coms, this one might have impressed me.  But alas, that is not the case, so it fell into the same pit of predictability and cliche that so many others do.  It’s not a bad movie at all, just nothing particularly special.

(3 / 5)

The Number 23 (2007)

Another case of a good idea with meh to lousy execution.  It started off good, but just got stupider and stupider as it went on.

(2 / 5)

Paterson (2016)

I liked many aspects of this film, but I feel like it was a little too weird to get its “beauty is in the simple things” message across.  I was expecting it to be more “slice of life-ish.”

(3 / 5)

Patriots Day (2016)

Surprisingly well done!  It’s easy to take the lazy way out with these kinds of true stories, but this one turned out to be quite thrilling.  This is particularly impressive considering we already know the ending.  Shined a light on some unsung heroes too.  Marky Mark was pretty meh in it, but that doesn’t really hurt the movie at all.  I’m surprised that this film kinda just came and went.

(4 / 5)

Pelé: Birth of a Legend (2016)

This film makes use of just about every sports movie cliché imaginable, but it’s just so pleasant to watch and feels very “wholesome” (like a family film).  It plays out like a Disneyfied feel-good version of a “true” story rather than something you’d watch to gain nuanced insight into a person and their life.  It’ll make you smile, but not much else.

(3 / 5)

Peter Rabbit (2018)

If you go into this film with low or even meh expectations like I did, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised.  It could certainly be described as formulaic, but it’s refreshingly self-aware and I wouldn’t call it predictable; there are definitely some surprises in there.  The CGI is actually rather well done with the characters look convincing within their environment.  The animals have very lifelike fur and look as if you could reach out and pet them.  For better or worse, the humor is very “British.”

(3 / 5)

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Terrible, obviously.  It’s not quite as entertaining in its crappiness as I was expecting.  The film certainly has a lot of “so bad it’s good” moments, but more often than not, it’s just so bad it’s bad.  Still, I can see what people like about it.

(2.5 / 5)

Please Stand By (2018)

Dakota Fanning gives an excellent performance, but the film itself isn’t really anything all that new or engaging.  Meh.

(2.5 / 5)

The Post (2017)

It’s okay. If this film had been directed by anyone else, it would be just another boring historical drama, but it was directed by Spielberg, so it’s pretty watchable.  For better or worse, this film constantly feels very aware of the times it’s being released in.  The acting is good, but far from the best work of Streep and Hanks.

(3 / 5)

Power Rangers (2017)

God, this was terrible.  I remember when I first saw the trailer I thought it was a really well made joke; turns out it was just a really poorly made movie.

(1.5 / 5)

The Prestige (2006)

Very good actually.  Really makes you think.  The whole film is one great big magic trick.  Well… I did it; I found a Christopher Nolan movie I actually really like.

(4.5 / 5)

Psycho II (1983)

Yes, this movie exists, and you know what?  It really isn’t as bad as people say.  If you compare it to the original, of course it’s dead in the water.  However, if you compare it to the other slasher films of its day, it’s actually quite decent.  This is one of those “many years later” sequels that actually manages to justify its existence pretty well.  I didn’t like how they open with the shower scene from the original though, that’s kinda just asking for trouble.  It’s a tense and scary movie for sure and the violence is amped up a bit, but not so much that it feels gratuitous.  Anthony Perkins does a fantastic job reprising his classic role.  The twists aren’t bad, but there may be one too many of them.

(3.5 / 5)

A Quiet Place (2018)

It’s pretty clear that the unique and genuinely intriguing premise was the only risk this movie was willing to take because the plot couldn’t have been more formulaic and predictable.  Most of the jump-scares were obnoxious and could be seen coming from a mile away.  This is definitely one of those horror movies where many of the characters’ decisions feel like they were made to serve the plot by putting themselves in greater danger and one can’t help but spend much of the film asking “wait, why wouldn’t they just do this?”  All that being said, there is still a lot to like about this film.  It was very well acted and, while it was never really scary, quite a few moments were effectively tense. The opening sequence in particular did a great job of introducing the world and establishing just how dangerous the creatures in it are.  I guess you could say this is a film that succeeds in a lot of small ways, but fails in some pretty big ways too.

(3 / 5)

The Raid 2 (2014)

I found the plot a bit hard to follow and it felt like they kept introducing new characters without giving me time to care about them, but the downright badass action choreography and overall style made up for it.  I personally liked the first film more due to its simplicity, but I totally understand why people think this one is so awesome.

(3.5 / 5)

Rampage (2018)

This movie starts off like it’s gonna be fun and entertaining, but somewhere along the way it completely loses that.  I think the best way to briefly describe it is: generic and inconsistent.

(2 / 5)

Raw (2016)

It was a very gross movie to watch, involving a lot of animal stuff; makes sense though considering it’s set in a veterinary school.  It was a decent movie, despite being very “French.”  What I mean by that is, there was some stuff thrown in that felt too artsy and completely out of place, but it didn’t ruin the movie.  There were a couple moments that were genuinely shocking and one good scare.  This film does a great job at making you genuinely care about the characters.

(3.5 / 5)

Ready Player One (2018)

This film is an entertaining ride for sure that’s packed with (and to some extent depends on) pop culture references while still managing to feel fresh.  Its flaws, for the most part, all lie in the story logic and worldbuilding which fall apart the more you think about it.

(3 / 5)

Rising Sun (1993)

Decent murder mystery action film.  Connery was a blast to watch.  The ending felt ambiguous, but not exactly in a good way; it was just kinda unsatisfying.

(3.5 / 5)

Rocky Balboa (2006)

It’s much better than you’d expect.  The film really packs an emotional punch considering it’s the sixth film in the series.  I like the way the fight is shot to look like an HBO special; it helps add some realism to a franchise that had gotten too cheesy.

(4 / 5)

Rogue One (2016)

It didn’t disappoint me.  In many ways, it was exactly what I was expecting, but in other ways, it was much better.  The movie took a while to get going, but once it did, it was awesome.  The only real problems were that there were too many characters (nearly all of which were underdeveloped), the score felt lacking compared to the other films, and the attempts to digitally recreate actors were distracting at best and downright creepy at worst.

(3.5 / 5)

Rounders (1998)

An all-around pretty okay movie.  If you’re in the mood for a film about poker, you can’t go wrong here.  Despite Malkovich’s accent being a bit over the top, I wished he was in it more.  Also, the Edward Norton character caused a bit too much conflict to be believable, at least to me.

(3.5 / 5)

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Very good.  I liked how real and imperfect the characters were and Travolta specifically really gave an excellent performance.  This is one of the better examples of a slice of life or character driven film.

(4.5 / 5)

Sausage Party (2016)

I actually liked it more than I thought I would.  It served as an entertaining allegory about religion and the divisions it creates.  I’m not against profanity, but I think a lot of Rogen’s films don’t use profanity all that creatively or with much variety and this was no exception.  Also there was a massive orgy scene involving sentient food products, so you can’t go wrong there.

(3 / 5)

Scanners (1981)

It was alright.  The lead’s lousy acting actually bothered me.  I wish there was more of Michael Ironside.  Some of the sound design actually gave me a headache.  I suppose I get why people like it, but it wasn’t really my thing.

(3 / 5)

Scarlet Street (1945)

Unlike the other Fritz Lang films I like (Metropolis, M), this one actually feels like an old movie.  I think that’s because, with its lingo and sensibilities, it tried to be very current, which of course causes it to get dated rather quickly.  It does have enough twists and turns to keep it interesting though and Edward G. Robinson is certainly good in it.

(3.5 / 5)

Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

This has got to be one of the most remarkable music documentaries I’ve ever seen.  It’s best to go into this one as cold as possible, because it’s full of surprises.  An incredible story that is so well told.

(5 / 5)

Semi-Pro (2008)

This movie feels like what you’d get if you took all the worst Will Ferrell-isms and crammed them into one painfully unfunny package. At times, it actually feels like a spoof of a Will Ferrell movie.

(1.5 / 5)

The Shape of Water (2017)

Wow.  It really took me by surprise, but this movie is actually pretty bad.  If I were to fully articulate every reason it’s bad, this would cease to be a mini-review, so I’ll just try to cover the basics. The plot is ludicrous, even in the confines of the heightened “storybook” reality the film takes place in. I don’t care how much of a “fairy-tale” this is supposed to be; unless you’re making a comedy (which this film actually kinda feels like at times), a person’s suspension of disbelief can only stretch so far and the gaping plot holes in this film stretch it beyond its breaking point.  Most of the characters are one-dimensional and the characters that are supposed to be likeable aren’t.  Not only that, but the film doesn’t even give us much of a reason to be on their side. The film takes every opportunity (and then some) to remind the audience how evil the Michael Shannon character is without so much as a glimpse into his humanity and/or motivation for being so evil to the point that it feels farcical.  The lousy plot and characters are definitely the fatal flaws of this film, but trust me; there are plenty more where that came from.  I have no clue what could have possibly possessed the Academy to acknowledge this poorly written, self-important, and unintentionally hilarious drivel for anything… except maybe production design.

(1.5 / 5)

Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens (2016)

I still maintain that the first 3 were genuinely fun and enjoyable movies.  This one?  Not so much.  I guess you could say this is the one that “jumped the shark.”  They tried to cram way too much into this film and it ended up just being silly and not in a good way.

(2 / 5)

Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (2017)

At this point, I think it’s safe to say the series should have stopped after 3.  It just feels like everyone involved really phoned this one in.  Now this franchise is just relying on B and C list celebrity cameos and ripping off other movies.

(1.5 / 5)

Shin Godzilla (2016)

Pretty good overall.  Despite all the red tape and bureaucracy the movie focused on, it remained quite engaging throughout.  The special effects varied a bit in quality, but the destruction was always on point and damn did this version of Godzilla look menacing and genuinely scary.  Even the 1st form gave me the creeps.

(4 / 5)

Silence (2016)

I feel like this movie could have been nearly an hour shorter.  It’s a beautiful looking movie for sure and well acted.  It’s decent and makes you think, but definitely not one of Scorsese’s best.

(3.5 / 5)

Sing (2016)

Kinda like Trolls in that the music was good, but the movie itself wasn’t.  I guess you could say it was “pleasant” to watch, but felt very half-assed.

(2.5 / 5)

Sing Street (2016)

Quite good. A great and really fun coming of age movie.  The music is kick-ass.  The only problem I have is the main character’s actions and development as a musician and as a person feel a bit unnatural.  However, this movie really doesn’t take itself too seriously so it’s tough to fault it too much for that.

(4.5 / 5)

Sinister (2012)

Just another piece of cookie cutter horror shlock.  Half of the movie is just Ethan Hawke wandering around a dark house. Turn on a light maybe?  The ending is admittedly kinda cool, but not enough to save the movie.

(2 / 5)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

I liked what they were going for here, but it just felt like one of those adventure movies with too much going on.  The two leads didn’t have much chemistry and the best character by far was the Angelina Jolie one.  It was more fun to watch in black and white because it actually felt kinda like watching an old movie.

(2.5 / 5)

Snowden (2016)

Very well done!  Better at capturing the huge scale of the story than the documentary (Citizenfour).  Oliver Stone knows what he’s doing.  Some parts got overly technical, but it remained quite thrilling overall.

(4.5 / 5)

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

The movie itself?  Pretty well done.  One of the better recent MCU movies for sure.  Karen is better than Jarvis; I don’t care what anyone says.  Unlike most other films in the MCU, this one did a great job at making me care about what was going on and kept me invested throughout.  In part, I think this is because the filmmaking was so on point here.  Somehow this film managed to feel cinematic and “comic-booky” at the same time.  It also had what I think is the perfect overall tone for a Spiderman movie.  The characters?  Aside from Peter himself, most were poorly done.  If you’re gonna take a character from the comics and put them in your movie, for God’s sake, don’t change everything about them on the inside and out leaving nothing but their name.  I don’t have a problem with the fact that Peter’s best friend is a chubby Hawaiian kid who’s a tech nerd; I have a problem with the fact that you named him Ned Leeds.  Same with Flash Thompson.  And what’s the deal with Aunt May being played by Marisa Tomei?  Aunt May isn’t supposed to be hot, that’s just weird, dude.  Like I said though, Peter was handled very well.  Tom Holland gave a great performance in the suit and out and I’m actually looking forward to seeing more of him in the MCU.

(3.5 / 5)

Splice (2010)

It sucks.  Despite being scientists, the main characters behave incredibly unscientifically.  The plot isn’t believable, consistent, or even all that interesting.

(1.5 / 5)

Split (2016)

The best Shamalyan movie since Signs, which isn’t saying much I guess.  It’s one of those kidnapping movies where the victims behave really stupidly.  McAvoy is a blast to watch and the cinematography is excellent.

(3 / 5)

The Star (2017)

An animated children’s movie about the nativity story told from the perspective of the animals is a great idea and, if this film had fully committed to the whole “told from the perspective of the animals” thing, I think it could have been pretty good.  Yes, it is just another low-effort kid’s movie, but it feels like at least a few people working on this must have cared just enough to keep it from being entirely forgettable.

(2.5 / 5)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Impressively disappointing. Somehow this one film managed to undo almost everything great that The Force Awakens started. The plot went nowhere worth going, the humor was painfully off, the characters went through virtually no development, Luke was fundamentally ruined… I still can’t even believe Disney allowed this movie to hit the theaters. All the questions we had after TFA were either given mind-numbingly underwhelming answers or rendered completely irrelevant. And the worst part of it all was how the film dangled so many good ideas in front of the audience, only to yank them away just as we were getting our hopes up. Carrie Fisher deserved a better send off than this, and we all deserved a much better film. Ultimately though, it’s not “holiday special” bad as some people suggest, but rather just “prequel” bad. The franchise has been through tougher times than this.

(1.5 / 5)

The Straight Story (1999)

It’s a slow burn for sure, but managed to be a pleasant and worthwhile movie nonetheless.  The ending could have used a bit more… of something.  I don’t know what, but it just felt like, since the film was so slow, it would have been nice for the ending to have more of a payoff.

(3.5 / 5)

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

This is one of those 20-years-later sequels that’s definitely not as good as the original, but surprisingly decent and feels like they really tried.

(3.5 / 5)

Tangled (2010)

Meh, pretty standard Disney fairy tale movie.  Flynn was a good character.  I was glad they didn’t do that trope of making the horse behave like a dog.

(3 / 5)

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006)

Just dumb.  Fart jokes, pervasive and uncreative profanity, Jack Black being as Jack Black as possible…  This movie is stupid and I feel stupider for having watched it.  There was some good music and a couple good scenes I guess, but honestly you could just watch those on Youtube.

(2 / 5)

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

I think I’ve become numb to the MCU.  Sure this movie had its moments, particularly with its sense of humor, but it really felt like a chore to get through.  It’s safe to say I enjoyed the promotional material (trailers, posters, etc.) quite a bit more than the actual movie.  The visuals were generally pretty good and I think Jeff Goldblum was the best part of the movie.  It isn’t bad per se, but it is just another drop in an ever-growing sea of mediocre superhero movies.

(2.5 / 5)

Thoroughbreds (2017)

Kudos to whoever edited the trailer for this film because they managed to take a boring waste of time movie and make it look like a fun and quirky instant cult-classic. On a technical level, the filmmaking is on point and the film certainly has a distinct and consistent feel to it, but the content itself along with the characters are just so uninteresting.

(2 / 5)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

A fantastic film!  Its premise is one that really could have gone either way, but boy did it deliver. The film works so well because the characters have such depth and complexity to them and the story is never dull or predictable.

(4.5 / 5)

Timecrimes (2007)

A consistently engaging film for sure.  I don’t say this often, but the time travel in this movie actually makes a lot of sense and what’s happening is relayed to the audience in a very direct and easy to understand way.  It’s a smart movie, but not one that you have to watch multiple times to understand.

(4.5 / 5)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Way more complicated and hard to follow than a movie should be.  Perhaps it was good as a book, but it doesn’t translate on screen very well.

(2.5 / 5)

Too Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995)

The best thing about this movie is definitely the performance by the three leads. Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo all disappear into their roles (although the hair, makeup, and flamboyant clothing certainly helps). Other than that, it’s still a sweet and entertaining little movie that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be much more than that.

(3 / 5)

Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable (2017)

Well… it’s fake.  The film presents itself as a real documentary about a real oceanic discovery, but it’s not; it’s essentially just a promo for some artist’s new exhibit.  Not that every fictional film that presents itself as authentic is automatically bad.  It’s just that, with this one in particular, the only thing that made it engaging was how fascinating the discovery was, in a sort of “truth is stranger than fiction” type of way.  So, if it is fiction, that kinda just makes you feel like the movie is a waste of time.  If a story is unbelievable, but true, then it’s a pretty interesting story, but if a story is unbelievable and made up, then it’s just a lousy story.  On a technical level, it was certainly well faked though.  I’ll give them that.

(2 / 5)

Trolls (2016)

The music was good… the movie wasn’t.  Felt very half assed.

(2 / 5)

Trouble With the Curve (1989)

Eh… it’s okay. The cast does a great job.  If you’re already interested in the subject matter then you’ll probably enjoy the movie, but it’s not really anything all that special.

(2.5 / 5)

Turner & Hooch (1989)

A fairly decent, albeit predictable, comedy. The dog has a lot of personality and is fun to watch.

(3 / 5)

Unacknowledged (2017)

If you’re going to watch only one UFO documentary, this just barely falls short of the classic Chariots of the Gods as the one to pick.  Where Chariots of the Gods dealt with the archaeological and historical evidence of extraterrestrial visitation, this documentary focuses on the more contemporary evidence, featuring accounts from military officials, declassified documents, and so on.  It has all of the most credible sources jammed into one nice package that’s really well put together.

(4.5 / 5)

Under the Sun (2015)

This film definitely gets tedious at times, but it’s unlike any other film about North Korea I’ve seen in that this one feels more like a narrative film than an informative documentary.  Considering the strict limitations the North Korean government put on the photography, the filmmakers did a great job capturing the hopelessness of the situation.

(3 / 5)

Unleashed (2016)

If you thought the premise was cute, you’ll think the movie is too.  It definitely doesn’t disappoint, but it doesn’t really go above and beyond either.  Justin Chadwick actually did a great job with all the cat mannerisms and such.

(3 / 5)

Urban Cowboy (1980)

A nice little vignette of an interesting culture.  Felt a lot like Saturday Night Fever, but country western themed and less serious.

(4 / 5)

Valerie and her Week of Wonders (1970)

This is a difficult movie to review.  One person might say it’s a surrealist fairy tale with dream logic that’s an allegory for coming into womanhood and another might say it’s just artsy fartsy nonsense thrown together as an excuse for showing underage nudity.  I wouldn’t tell either of those people that they’re wrong.

(2.5 / 5)

Valley of the Dolls (1967)

It’s one of those old movies that makes sense why it was such a big deal at the time, but feels like kind of a chore to get through now.  It wasn’t until about halfway through that I even found myself getting invested in the story.  Ultimately, it was worth watching, but just barely.  I could totally see this one getting a remake.

(3 / 5)

The Vanishing (1988)

Wow, this movie was actually quite engaging.  It’s very easy to screw up the payoff on these kinds of films, but this one really delivered.  This is an excellent, albeit slow paced, thriller.

(5 / 5)

Viva Las Vegas (1964)

It’s an Elvis movie, so I expected a small scale and light-hearted film that isn’t exactly a cinematic masterwork but still has a genuine charm to it because… ya know, it’s Elvis. Well, this one was a bit low on the charm. The jokes and gags were just not that funny, the musical numbers were pretty meh, and the movie in general didn’t feel like it had much of a soul.

(2 / 5)

Wakefield (2016)

Might have been better as a short story because it was definitely an interesting idea, but I feel like it could have been executed much better.  The main problem is that the protagonist is such a dick.  Also, many of the details surrounding his plan don’t make any sense.

(2 / 5)

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

It does a decent job at spoofing the musician biopic genre. Much of the humor is lowbrow, but it never feels “stupid.”  The songs are cleverly written, and definitely chuckle-worthy.

(3 / 5)

Walker (1987)

A very uneven film.  Entertaining at times and boring at others.  The intentional anachronisms were an occasional novelty, but felt too randomly placed and inconsistent to really have much of an impact on the film as a whole.

(2.5 / 5)

The Warriors (1979)

Pretty great! I like how straight forward it is; it really doesn’t bullshit around. This is one of those movies where there really isn’t a single dull moment. It’s poignant where it needs to be, campy where it wants to be, and downright awesome the rest of the time. A new favorite of mine for sure.

(5 / 5)

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

Good idea for a movie, mixed execution.  On one hand, it does a good job making the viewer feel disturbed despite very few actual disturbing images.  On the other hand, the order in which the story is told and the unrealistic family dynamics take away from the experience.

(3 / 5)

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

Pretty decent actually and with a unique premise for the time period; this film was kind of a spiritual predecessor to the meta self-awareness of Scream.  It was a slow burn though as the horror was more subtle and psychological, so I could see how, as a “Freddy” movie, it would have been disappointing to some.

(3.5 / 5)

Wind River (2017)

A very solid and straightforward gritty thriller with an interesting setting.  This is quite a dark and joyless movie, but I suppose that’s expected given the subject matter.  While there aren’t exactly any big surprises, it still manages to be effectively tense.

(4 / 5)

The Witch (2015)

The costumes, cinematography, production design, and acting were all exceedingly good.  It felt like all the effort in writing the screenplay was funneled directly into making the dialogue sound authentically 1600s-ish because the story itself really could have used some work.  There was clearly a lot of effort put into building atmosphere and tension, but I don’t feel like it ever delivered on it.  Save for one or two genuinely creepy moments, the film wasn’t even scary.

(3 / 5)

Wonder Woman (2017)

It was pretty ok.  It feels like just another average run of the mill superhero movie, but with an added kick.  The film had some good moments like the No Man’s Land scene, but it also had kind of a dumb third act.  The best film in the DCEU so far, although that isn’t saying much I suppose.  Also, Wonder Woman has one of the best and most memorable theme songs of any cinematic superhero in recent memory.

(3 / 5)

The Woodsman (2004)

Wow, I didn’t know Kevin Bacon was so adept at nuanced and subtle acting.  Very good character study with an unlikely protagonist and it’s surprisingly tense too.

(4 / 5)

The Wraith (1986) 

Basically, it’s The Crow, but with street racing, over-the-top Tromaesque villains, a scifi aesthetic, and an atmosphere and soundtrack that reeks of the 80s.  The plot is kinda dumb and doesn’t make much sense, but the campiness keeps it entertaining.  This overlooked gem is a great flick to watch late at night with a bunch of friends and a tub of popcorn.

(3.5 / 5)

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

I feel like this one really messed with some of the pre-established canon and it kinda ruined Storm.  As a movie on its own, it was ok I guess.

(3 / 5)

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

It was ok. Wolverine in particular was a blast to watch in this one.  The story didn’t have any major holes per se (although the time travel thing was a bit iffy), but the movie as a whole had this constant mildly underwhelming feel to it.

(3 / 5)

X-Men: First Class (2011)

A worthy prequel.  I think it messed with the canon a bit, but as a movie on its own, it was decent. Considering it was set around the Cuban Missile Crisis, the stakes at the end didn’t really feel as high as they should have.

(3.5 / 5)

Your Name (2016)

Since all my criticisms have to do with the plot, and this film is an easy one to spoil, I’m going to do my best to articulate them without spoiling anything. During the setup of this story, the characters find themselves in fantastical circumstances, but they don’t behave in a way that any rational person would, which plants the seeds of major plot holes that develop later on as the story unfolds. If these characters had behaved realistically, much more information would have been revealed much earlier than the writers would have wanted it to. Much of the drama in the story comes from the fact that a character doesn’t know something that there is no excuse for them not knowing, save for narrative convenience. This really killed the suspension of disbelief for me. It’s a shame because virtually every other aspect of the film (the animation, the visuals, the music, etc.) is done so well.

(2.5 / 5)

Zoom (2015)

Meh, ok I guess.  I really liked the meta premise, but I just wish it was used to tell a better story.

(3 / 5)