Infamous DC Comics character Harley Quinn (née Harleen Frances Quinzel) changes out of her manic pixie dream girl role for Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. This latest film in the DC Universe begins immediately after the Joker dumps Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). The end of their relationship marks the end of her protected status in the criminal underworld. Her singular goal — to ...Read MoreRead more
This adaptation of the 1927 H.P. Lovecraft short story stars Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner, who lives in a secluded area of New England with his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson), daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), and sons Benny and Jack (Brendan Meyer and Julian Hilliard). All Gardner wants to do is raise alpacas and enjoy some fine bourbon, but when a meteorite crashes onto his land one night, his plans go ...Read MoreRead more
Arley: THEY KILLED THE BLACK GUY!
(We’ve put all the deep dark secrets below a spoiler line at the bottom of the review.)
In Underwater, six people at the bottom of the Mariana Trench—Norah (Kristen Stewart), Rodrigo (Mamoudou Athie), Emily (Jessica Henwick), Paul (T.J. Miller), Smith (John Gallagher Jr.), and Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel)—try to reach safety after something destroys their deep sea habitat.
Arley: Okay. Overall I thought ...Read MoreRead more
Tim Pratt, via Twitter: Two things they got a lot of in Star Wars is droids and shit that don’t make no sense.
Josh: I liked it more than The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
Arley: Me too!
Josh: Good! I recognize that The Last Jedi was trying to do a lot more, storywise. But when I rewatched it I was bored by a lot of parts, like ...Read MoreRead more
I have been obliged to extensively revise the original draft of this review, because after rereading what I had said about the previous two Star Wars films – J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015 – review here) and Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017 – review here) – I found that on several occasions, I was saying the same thing I had said about one of ...Read MoreRead more
This review doesn’t need to lead with much of a recap, because you’ve seen it all before: evil AI sends a killer robot back in time to assassinate the future savior of humankind. Plucky human resistance sends a protector back in time to stop the killer robot (from the future!). Carnage. Mayhem. Explosions.
The difference this time is that the evil AI is called “Legion” instead of “Skynet,” the target ...Read MoreRead more
Simply put, Joker is the story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) and his transition from sadsack to supervillain.
Josh: Need we say more? Everyone already knows the gist of the Joker.
Arley: It’s important for people to know that this is not a Batman movie. You should not expect supervillain fights.
The film mostly delivers on what’s promised in the trailers: a one-man show about a violent clown. With striking ...Read MoreRead more
James Gray’s Ad Astra is the most recent example of the subgenre that I have called the spacesuit film, dedicated to realistic portrayals of space travel in the near future; and in keeping with tradition, it offers an ample amount of the breathtaking astronomical vistas and meticulously detailed spacecraft that audiences have come to expect in such films since Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) permanently transformed the ...Read MoreRead more
Chapter two of Stephen King’s epic horror story opens 27 years after the members of the Losers Club — Bev (Jessica Chastain), Bill (James McAvoy), Richie (Bill Hader), Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), Ben (Jay Ryan), Eddie (James Ransone), and Stanley (Andy Bean) — defeated Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgård) in 2017’s It. Now, evil has resurfaced in Derry ME, and the seven friends must return to their childhood town to… ...Read MoreRead more
Although it’s easiest to describe Brightburn as “Superman, but evil,” it’s a mistake to think of it as a superhero movie. It is, rather, a pretty straightforward horror movie. It stars Elizabeth Banks and David Denman as the Kent-like parents of Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn), an alien child they find in a crashed spaceship. They adopt and raise Brandon until he turns 12 and starts exhibiting unnatural abilities.
Arley: ...Read MoreRead more
Josh: Right off the bat — I really like this movie.
Arley: Fun movie! You should see it. See it in theaters.
The continuing adventures of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man! Peter Parker’s class goes on a science trip to Europe, where he plans to confess his feelings for MJ (Zendaya) at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Plans get derailed, however, when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up alongside the ...Read MoreRead more
It’s been 22(!) years since the release of Men in Black, a stretch of time that encapsulates three sequel movies and an animated TV show, and throughout it all the original film has held up as the strongest installment of the franchise. This latest, Men in Black: International, does not come close to being the strongest in the series, but nor is it the weakest.
International continues with ...Read MoreRead more
Godzilla: King of the Monsters has a lot of things in it that will please Godzilla fans, and plenty that will piss them off. It is a sequel to 2014’s Godzilla, which was directed by Gareth Edwards, and picks up shortly after that movie’s destruction of San Francisco and Godzilla’s subsequent disappearance. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler), who lost his son in the attack, wants Godzilla and all other “Titans” ...Read MoreRead more
Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla, King of the Monsters is not the worst Godzilla movie ever made, and when referring to the American films, that constitutes a high compliment; for after watching the first American Godzilla (1998), I personally thought that it was the worst Godzilla movie ever, until I watched the 2014 American Godzilla (review here) and concluded, somewhat controversially, that it was even worse. Nevertheless, any list of the top ...Read MoreRead more
Previously, on the Avengers: Thanos (Josh Brolin) used the Infinity Gauntlet to murder half of all living creatures in the universe. Surviving superheroes Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and sometimes Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) band together to get the Infinity ...Read MoreRead more
With a single magic word, troubled youth Billy Batson (Asher Angel) gains the ability to transform into a superhero adult (Zachary Levi) and back again. What follows is to be expected from teenage boys with new toys as Billy and his foster brother Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) test the limits of his comically enlarged body.
Josh: I laughed a lot at some of those scenes (I’d had a couple beers). ...Read MoreRead more
From Jordan Peele, writer and director of Get Out, comes Us — a new horror film following Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), and their two children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) as the family vacations in Santa Cruz CA, where something terrible had happened to Adelaide as a child.
Josh: That’s probably all we can say about the plot without giving too ...Read MoreRead more
It is the distant future: 1995. In this 21st installation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first female-led Marvel movie, Brie Larson plays Vers, a green blue-blooded member of the Kree, a technologically advanced race of aliens who value emotional control. Vers and her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) lead a Starfleet Starforce secret mission against the Romulans Skrull, a shapeshifting race that has been at war with the Kree ...Read MoreRead more
Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy (The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End) established him to audiences as a writer of Big Idea stories, eliciting comparisons to Arthur C. Clarke. The Wandering Earth (original title: Liu Lang Di Qiu) based on his novella of the same name, cements that reputation with a grand-scale, hard SF story that will appeal to fans of ...Read MoreRead more
For anyone dreading another Michael Bay explosion-fest, don’t worry. Other than a brief opening battle sequence, Bumblebee is mercifully free of the military porn that defined the five previous movies in the Transformers film franchise and, with a PG rating, follows a more family-friendly format. Set in 1987, Bumblebee follows the title character (briefly voiced by Dylan O’Brien) as he’s sent by Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) on a ...Read MoreRead more
With H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith is one of the major writers associated with the original incarnation of Weird Tales magazine. Of the three, Lovecraft has received the lion’s share of critical attention, from the essays regularly published first in Lovecraft Studies and now the Lovecraft Annual, to such book-length studies as Maurice Levy’s Lovecraft: A Study in the Fantastic and Robert Waugh’s The Monster in ...Read MoreRead more
Teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider and then develops superhuman abilities. Struggling to control and understand his powers, he returns to the underground site where he was bitten. He stumbles upon Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) and his lackeys hatching a diabolical plan. Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Chris Pine) shows up to stop Kingpin and when he runs into Miles he realizes that Miles is “just like ...Read MoreRead more
Josh: When we reviewed A Quiet Place earlier this year, I said that it reminded me of Josh Malerman’s book Bird Box. What do you think? Fair comparison? There are definite similarities: unexplained monsters come to town; humans have to give themselves a handicap in order to survive; there’s a pregnant woman at the forefront; save the children!
Arley: It’s different, but similar. Even though the filmmakers of Bird ...Read MoreRead more
Yes, I will admit, I would have preferred to see fewer brutal fistfights accompanied by the amplified sound of crunching lettuce and more leisurely attention to the imaginative underwater environments that mostly serve as backdrops for the film’s incessant free-for-falls; and yes, the film would have benefited from some judicious editing to reduce its two-and-a-half hour length to two hours. But overall, Aquaman qualifies as a successful superhero film, persuasively ...Read MoreRead more
Since Mary Poppins Returns was one of those rare films falling within my area of expertise that was of interest to my other family members, I watched it in the company of my wife and granddaughter, and I should report that six-year-old Serena Michelle Kong thoroughly enjoyed the film, explaining that she found it just as delightful as its esteemed precursor Mary Poppins (1964). And perhaps, that is the only ...Read MoreRead more
I must first admit that I enjoyed Christian Rivers’s Mortal Engines far more than I thought I would, and the film’s first hour definitely qualifies as a marvelous piece of entertainment. Unfortunately, this story about motorized, traveling cities starts to sputter and run out of gas as it progresses, at the precise time when the filmmakers evidently believed that they were ratcheting up the excitement to an even greater level. ...Read MoreRead more
We usually start these reviews with a summary, trying to give a sense of what the movie is about without spoiling any important moments. Spoiler: the storyline is too boring to be relayed. The plot is haphazard and unnecessarily convoluted. An honest synopsis would go something like, “random events strung together vaguely trying to look serious just so new magical effects can happen, plus a handful of magical creatures, often ...Read MoreRead more
When reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) investigates rumors that tech bro billionaire Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is running human experiments with alien symbiotes, Brock is infected by the symbiote named Venom (voiced by Hardy), which [battles him for control of his own body] [gives him a serious case of alien limb syndrome]. Drake’s security chief Treece (Scott Haze) pursues Brock through the streets of San Francisco in an attempt to ...Read MoreRead more
Some people may wonder why a science fiction film reviewer is discussing a completely realistic film about an actual man and his actual accomplishments. But I can offer a simple explanation: I am reviewing, reasonably enough, a remake of the film that won science fiction’s Hugo Award as the “Best Dramatic Presentation” of 1969: namely, “News Coverage of Apollo 11.” (For even though, as I have noted elsewhere, space travel ...Read MoreRead more
Somewhere in the Central American jungle, Army Ranger sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) encounters a crashed Predator escape pod. He loots it and later mails the alien’s high-tech helmet and wrist gauntlet back to the US.
Scientist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is taken to a secret government facility where the Predator from the crash (Brian Prince) is being held. The Predator breaks free and goes in search of its missing ...Read MoreRead more
Josh: So, about the title of this review. What do you think of, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” or is that too easy?
Arley: How about, “We’re gonna need a bigger shark.”
Josh: I was also thinking, “We’re gonna need a bigger beer.”
The Meg stars Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor, a diver whose rescue operation goes wrong due to an encounter with a mysterious creature, which scares him ...Read MoreRead more
If anyone is glancing at this review for advice on which films to see this weekend, my recommendation would be to avoid The Darkest Minds. For while it is competently executed and offers some superficial novelties, it is a film that most people have already seen several times, and since two similar franchises to be discussed have failed to generate expected sequels, it may be that many filmgoers are growing ...Read MoreRead more