Posts in 2 STARS
REWIND REVIEW: The Lion King

Anyone who seeks to own this version of The Lion King is doing so with a “how did they do that?” curiosity. The technical brilliance is its biggest selling point. That interest is answered very well by this disc release. Unlike its Pixar and Marvel offerings, Disney compiled a legitimate look into this re-imaginings wholly revolutionary bells and whistles. This movie will look gorgeous on your high-end television at home.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: The Lighthouse

Nothing about this place, its natural topography or its man-made constructs, looks, sounds, or feels comely. The disquiet is palpable. All the atmosphere is there in Robert Egger’s torturous and pin-pricking thriller. The unfortunate struggle is that the suspense ends there. There is not enough compelling story, mystery, or perversion to fill or overwhelm this eerie environment. All of the portending, however attuned it is to its sense of art, registers as pretentious.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Gemini Man

Ang Lee’s new actioner Gemini Man is the cinematic embodiment of the figure of speech “chasing your tail.” A reminder from The Free Dictionary, defines that idiom as “to take action that is ineffectual and does not lead to progress” and “refers to how a dog can exhaust itself by chasing its own tail.” Boy, is that ever this movie. You have a multiple Academy Award-winning filmmaker chasing a technological benchmark that the industry cannot match. And you have a lead actor exhausting himself (and us) literally, instead of just figuratively, chasing his own tail.

Read More
REWIND REVIEW: Toy Story 4

I should rename this section from “Late Homework Excuse” to “Inciting a School Riot” for my participation with the June release of Toy Story 4. I saw the film early for press, covered a fun family event at Navy Pier, and was very unimpressed by the final product. My review was one of the initial wave of four that broke the Rotten Tomatoes perfect 100% Tomatometer score for the movie. The trolling comments and death threats followed and I wrote about that experience. I didn’t want to be that guy, but I just couldn’t call this sequel worthwhile trying to follow the near-perfection of Toy Story 3.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: The Goldfinch

Normally, the book vs. movie argument centers around missed opportunities. The majority lament becomes about the necessary condensing and trimming executed by writers and filmmakers that shaves too much of the nuanced essence from the sprawling story of the written page. With The Goldfinch, a different effect occurs. Given a longer running time than most movies already and all the patience in the world, any additions of extra depth and detail to the film adaptation would not help. What is already present is bloated, sluggish, and ineffectual. That’s an odd circumstance to say the least. Talk about a movie that should have stayed a book.

Read More
REWIND REVIEW: Aladdin

All the desired diversity in the world paled to who could possibly follow the late Robin Williams? The Genie is the ticket to more than just wishes when it comes to this reboot’s success. That laborious task was given to Will Smith. Folks, he is a hot, baking sun of swagger! Will has not been this loose and free since Men in Black 3 seven years ago. Aladdin reminds us how much of a consummate showman the 50-year-old is and always has been. Will has a style, energy, and stage presence all his own, and he saves this entire movie from sandy ruin.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: The Red Sea Diving Resort

Ari likes define the risky propositions in this movie as having one of these two outcome feelings. Sadly, the movie itself wobbles between the same. Entertainment comes easy in this Netflix-backed programmer and yet with consequently little attention paid to the predominantly off-screen annihilation of an ethnic group. Reality like that makes the glee hard to take. We live in an era where we can do better than solely bravura. Good filmmakers and creative powers can aim for challenging movies that address vital history and still entertain.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Toy Story 4

For each movie or chapter at hand, one has to consider if there is a worthwhile story to tell, one that can justify this new effort being a true necessity.  The key word there is worthwhile.  To more specifically judge a sequel in that regard, one has to look where it came from and where it is going.  Toy Story 4 indeed attempts to advance characters and chooses trajectories, but then look backward and forward and ask about value and placement.  Despite the immense talent shining from the recording studio and the animation workshop, the traits and choices of Toy Story 4 lack being worthwhile.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Men in Black: International

One thing you cannot deny either Tessa Thompson or Chris Hemsworth is personal chemistry. Their magnetism and appeal are automatic, especially when combined together. We’ve seen Thor: Ragnarok and their work in other places. However, that’s not always enough. The material has to have chemistry too to allow the starry elements to combust. This tangential revival doesn’t have it. Tessa and Chris might glow like radium, but Men in Black: International is an inert gas, fleeting and faint.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

After Gareth Edwards rebooted the legendary Japanese sea monster for a modern audience with a stern seriousness and hefty scope that destroyed all previous campiness connected to the character, this Michael Dougherty-helmed follow-up burns up all of that renewed credibility right away within the first half-hour on through to the exhausting end. Where’s the blame? That would be the humans because the behemoths really come out to play. Bad quippy comedy, nonsensical plot trappings, and unimportant character inclusions are the true weaknesses that defeat these monsters.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Aladdin

Disney and Sherlock Holmes series director Guy Ritchie aimed admirably with an “ambitious and non-traditional” take employing minority casting against whitewashing and colorism. Those skin-deep improvements are progressive, but who are we kidding? The color that mattered most was blue. All the desired diversity in the world paled to who could possibly follow the late Robin Williams? The Genie is the ticket to more than just wishes when it comes to this reboot’s success.

Read More
OVERDUE REVIEW: Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns is the cinematic equivalent of a very pleasant British greeting. The film is completely courteous and undoubtedly well-meaning. It presents itself with manicured poise and a dress-to-impress sense of style. It aims to please and presents the proper success. The movie makes kind contact and bows nicely before you. Mary Poppins Returns is the nicest hat-tip possible, but then is gone as soon as it arrived. It’s merely a grand gesture and not more than that.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Wonder Park

The new animated family flick Wonder Park offers an imagined world of roller coasters and amusement built with as much love as they are creative engineering. The principles of STEM support the cinematic chain lift hills before the drops take audiences through inversions and turns of family feels. Like the railed, ridden inventions it depicts, Wonder Park has clever ideas and solid foundations, but too many trim brakes, suspensions, bumps, dead spots, and other hits of filmed friction slow the glee and weaken the poignant pillars attempted.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Glass

Injections of high interest and good graces were attempted by attaching the hope of the present to an old hit of the past. The big Unbreakable reveal that elevated the otherwise uneven Split is wasted in miscalculations to the point where Glass can be weaken a portion of that first film’s favor. The monotony replacing ambition pushes viewers to be ready for washed-out despondency.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody lives and dies through the vitality of its lead performer. Emmy winner Rami Malek gives a smashing performance that should skyrocket him into the Oscar conversation. He and the film thrive when the volume is turned up and the microphones are on. It withers when it stifles that provocative heat. What should and, frankly, deserved to be a line-blurring and envelope-pushing affair of affairs is, to borrow a pair of friends’ terms, “straight-washed” into something “puritanical” instead of free, open, and, most of all, potent. Allowing something this hot to go lukewarm is a cinematic crime.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Venom

For the purpose to sell tickets, this proper villain is touted to be an response to the world having enough superheroes. The resulting film debunks its marketing by reducing Venom into a do-gooder and carnival attraction opposite of that claim. Never once does your heart pump a little quicker from tension. Never once do any hairs stand up in fright in the presence of what should be a complete badass. Those deficiencies shouldn’t happen with Venom.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: A Simple Favor

Putting the women in charge instead of the men in this modern landscape, Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor had the dreamy cast and pulpy source material locked in to invigorate the subgenre. Instead, the Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters comedy specialist and Nerve screenwriter Jessica Sharzar couldn’t help themselves. Satire is their aphrodisiac and they brought it to the wrong bedroom. Kinky and quirky can be fun, but that mix is tenuous at best. Watching A Simple Favor devolve from intrigue into incompetence is like pouring chocolate sauce over a sizzling steak.

Read More