Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug had every reason on Earth to be clearly and significantly better than The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but it’s much closer to being a dead heat. This ends up being far, far more depressing than An Unexpected Journey was in isolation, for there was still hope after that movie. […]

You can just about watch an era snuff itself out with Clash of the Titans, the final film for producer Charles H. Schneer and effects artist Ray Harryhausen (who also took a producer credit on what is frequently held to be the great labor of love of his career), and the first of those men’s […]

As was true for a great many people born at the end of the 1970s or beginning of the 1980s, I suspect, Army of Darkness was the first film in the Evil Dead trilogy that I saw, by a margin of several years. For this exact reason, there’s always going to be a slightly abashed […]

The very best thing I can think to say about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is this: it has left me with absolutely no reason to assume that 2013’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is going to be half as much of a slog. If nothing else, that sequel’s title, in relation to the […]

My primary objection to the massively successful, award-winning, generation defining The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003’s conclusion to the film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s multi-volume fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings, is not an original one, nor a clever and insightful one, nor a […]

“But Jackson was just following Tolkien’s lead!” one might say. No. In fact, Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings as a six-part narrative, bound for convenience in three volumes, and it was partially Jackson & Company’s efforts to force it into a three-part structure that gave the films some of their narrative problems. But […]

The task of making a cinematic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s gargantuan, six-part fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings that was, on the one hand, comprehensive enough that it didn’t feel like a rushed and perfunctory illustration of plot points masquerading as a dramatic narrative while also being, on the other hand, a manageable object […]

Every Sunday 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: the new Pixar film Brave is, above and beyond any other considerations, a blow-your-brains-out gorgeous CGI depiction of the […]

Poor Brave. It could have survived, and thrived, as just an animated family-friendly adventure movie. Instead, it has to be a Pixar movie, and not just a Pixar movie, but the Pixar movie that had to come out right after Cars 2 and prove one of two things, according to your tastes: either that Pixar […]

Wrath of the Titans is a better film than 2010’s Clash of the Titans: I was going to say “a better film in all respects”, but that is not true. In the intervening years, and without any gonzo CGI popcorn epics to keep him sharp, Sam Worthington has become an even greater liability as an […]

As the most prolific filmmaker currently living, Miike Takashi has probably done just about everything a director can do at least once, making statements about his authorial personality almost totally meaningless. This is not enough to shame me out of making just such a statement, which is that one of the things Miike does an […]

There are two ways we can think of Immortals. The more satisfying is to compare it to its two most obvious antecedents, 300 and Clash of the Titans, and think to oneself, “Holy balls! That was made by a filmmaker who doesn’t fumble about like a goddamn rodeo clown! GENIUS!” The other way is to […]