Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: director Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword reminds us of the wide range of approaches that filmmakers […]

If you had asked me ten years ago, when Shrek the Third was farting its way through theaters, which major American animation studio I expected to be pushing the medium forward the most in 2017, between Pixar, Disney, or the Shrekmeisters at DreamWorks, I would have frankly looked at you like you’d just grown two […]

I would ask you, if you please, to consider the 1991 Beauty and the Beast, the crown jewel of the Disney Renaissance. What, pray tell, do you find to be wrong with it? Or let me rather put it this way: is there even one single image in that whole movie that generates the response […]

The Lego Batman Movie is not at all perfect, and in some particular respects its not-perfection strongly suggests that the returns on theatrical Lego movies are going to start diminishing pretty damn quickly (coming in less than eight months: The Lego Ninjago Movie). But it’s got this going for it: for the first time since […]

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 […]

Buried in Sing is the year’s most harrowing story of a married family life crushing the life out of the people involved. This children’s comedy about singing animals includes a subplot about a pig-woman who only wants out of life to have a chance to sing mediocre pop songs and have any other living soul […]

A Monster Calls will make you cry. I suppose I ought to qualify that in some way – it will make some of you cry based on certain life experiences you might have had, etc. etc. – but that barely seems correct. A Monster Calls will make you cry the same that that way that […]

The question is not the obvious one, “why would Kevin Spacey get involved in Nine Lives, a movie where his character falls into a coma, only to have his soul transfer into a Norwegian Forest cat named Mr. Fuzzypants, voiced by Spacey in a Garfield-esque inner monologue?” That part isn’t hard to figure out at […]

“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; […]