Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

I’m not going to go around calling 2016’s The Secret Life of Pets a good movie, because it ain’t. At best, it’s a mid-tier film for Illumination, the animation studio best-known for those damn walking yellow Tic-Tacs with the prominent butt cheeks. Considering that Illumination’s top tier only just surpasses “affable mediocrity”, its middle tier […]

Pragmatically, Disney’s new version of Aladdin only had one bar it absolutely had to clear, and it clears it. While this is anywhere from the sixth to the eleventh entry in this unkillable cycle of live-action remake nostalgia jobs, depending on how you count them,* it’s only the second one based on one of the […]

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: Disney revives the evergreen “Arabian Nights adventure” genre with their new remake of Aladdin. The studio’s original 1992 version […]

(Almost) 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. Last week: Pokémon Detective Pikachu represents the first time that the beloved video game animals called Pokémon have appeared in […]

Look deep inside your heart, consider the matter as bloodlessly as possible, and confront the question of whether a movie can be “objectively good” in the first place, and we must ask ourselves, is Pokémon Detective Pikachu (the lack of a colon in that title makes me sad in my heart) actually a good movie? […]

One wishes to never have to say anything negative about a Laika film. The company only exists because multi-billionaire Phil Knight, founder and former CEO of Nike, is an indulgent father, and his son Travis wanted to run an animation studio; it’s been a possibility with every new feature that this might be the one […]

There’s a movie hiding not very deep at all into Shazam! that is exactly what the superhero genre needs right about now: something stripped down and intimate, a bright little character comedy about how kids love superheroes and fantasise about being them and then one gets a chance to be one in actuality. But using […]

Wonder Park is about the importance of never giving up your imaginative spark, and always following whatever weird, idiosyncratic passion is yours and yours alone, and in the process showing the world something incredible that it has never seen. That this message is attached to this movie has broken my irony meter so hard that […]

The question that must be answered by a movie titled Arctic, and I daresay the only question: does it seem to be extremely cold? And this is something that the 2018 Icelandic thriller of that very title can answer with an emphatic yes. The cinematography, by Tómas Örn Tómasson, is sublimely severe and unyielding, capturing […]

One need not enjoy watching the films produced by Marvel Studios over the past eleven years (as I do not) to acknowledge that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, if nothing else, unfailingly consistent. Producer Kevin Feige rules with a heavy hand, and if that means that it’s almost impossibly rare for one of his movies […]

Nine years ago, How to Train Your Dragon became the first film to demonstrate that DreamWorks Animation could be more than The House That Shrek Built; the first film to eschew the lazy pop culture references, music cues and shticky jokes based on celebrity personae and just go out and make a rich-looking, emotionally resonant […]

Producer-writer James Cameron has been nurturing a screen adaptation of Kishiro Yukito’s manga series Battle Angel Alita almost since it was first translated into English in the 1990s. And this is perhaps why Alita: Battle Angel – the every-so-slightly-worse-named feature that has finally emerged from that years-long dream – feels so much like a film […]