Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

A third review requested by Brian Malbon, with thanks for his multiple contributions to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. The 2005 motion picture version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is, as they say, neither fish nor fowl. It skips over enough of the details of the plot with little or […]

It’s not that Monster Trucks is “bad”, which would be comprehensible. It’s that it is enormously dispiriting. The kind of dispiriting that causes a film shot in the spring and early summer of 2014 to receive four different release dates before it’s finally quietly dumped into the hostile snows of January, almost two years after […]

Disney’s current wave of live-action remakes of its old animated films (or “live-action” in the case of 2016’s The Jungle Book) will have reached its fifth title by the end of the first quarter of 2017. And of those five films, Pete’s Dragon is the clear outlier in all sorts of ways. It is, for […]

It’s not just that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is my favorite Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back; it’s how damned easy it was for me to come that conclusion. Like, not a fraction of a second of hesitation. For those of you who just wanted the opinion & would prefer to […]

“The Empire Strikes Back is the darkest Star Wars film”, they say; “the Rebellion loses everything, Luke has an existential crisis, Han is gone”. Or, “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is the darkest Star Wars“, the say; “the whole galaxy is overrun by evil, the very flesh is burned off of […]

What we all know – and like most things we all know, it’s a simplification, but in this case not such an extreme nor indefensible one – is that George Lucas stuck the Ewoks into Return of the Jedi to sell toys. “Warrior teddy bears” isn’t the most all-time slam-dunk moneymaking idea, to be sure, […]

Princess musicals. That’s the ticket: Walt Disney Animation Studios just needs to keep on making princess musicals. You can set the starting point of Disney’s second renaissance under the guidance of John Lasseter wherever you want – with 2008’s Bolt, which was the first film for which Lasseter was chiefly responsible for overseeing its production; […]

We have, in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a first for the Harry Potter Cinematic Universe: a film with a running time of about two-and-a-quarter hours, telling a story that was designed to take about two-and-a-quarter hours to tell. This was a problem for just about every one of the eight Potter films […]

It’s not very hard to imagine a different version of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – only a slightly different version, even – that’s a wonderfully imaginative and full of no end of cinematic marvels. For a film that could be described, in fact very nearly demands to be described as “Harry Potter meets […]

The notorious dance party ending is a plague upon all animated films, but it is perhaps a particularly important element in the films of DreamWorks Animation; it was that studio’s 2001 Shrek that did more than probably any other individual title to cement the trope into place, and they’ve relied on it extensively in the […]

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a movie full of what they used to call “heart”. They still do, I guess, but in general I don’t know that “heart” is in terribly high regard these days. Generally speaking, movies that are long on heart tend to also be mildly awful, is the thing, and this is […]

He doesn’t get as much press or awards attention as Cristian Mungiu, but I dunno: Corneliu Porumboiu will always be “my” Romanian film director, somehow. His feature debut, 12:08 East of Bucharest is one of my favorite comedies of the 2000s and one of my favorite satires ever; and now, ten years later and with […]