Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Two things first. One, War for the Planet of the Apes is an entirely excellent bit of popcorn drama, the first summer movie of 2017 (an important, subtly different thing than any old movie released in the summer) that I think has a fighting chance of still being passionately remembered 20 years hence, but having […]

It Comes at Night could be the title of a horror film, or of a pornographic parody of a horror film. In actuality, It Comes at Night is neither of these, though it’s not above pretending that horror might be in the offing. And if you’re willing to be flexible enough with definitions that a […]

My hat’s off to Resident Evil: The Final Chapter: it surely does seem to mean its title literally. When it’s over, the series mythology has been wrapped up nice and snug, and while it leaves the promise that there will be many more adventures to be had in this universe, it does so in exactly […]

Poor The Divergent Series. I mean it. You come into the world raring to be the new Hunger Games – made by the same studio no less, Lionsgate – with a new Hot Young “It” Actress to pin your hopes on, and then it’s all downhill after a kind of solid start. Eventually, you flare […]

It would be thoroughly disingenuous to claim that it’s obvious in hindsight that dividing Mockingjay, the third and most least-satisfying book in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy, into two different movies was a bad idea. It was, of course, always obvious that it was a bad idea. But it’s still nice to have proof of […]

If we were to start off by directly comparing Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials to 2014’s The Maze Runner – and why shouldn’t we? For here we are, with Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials just dropped there right in front of us with all its petulant awfulness, like something the dog did on the carpet, […]

A review requested by Kent H, with thanks for donating to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser.. Obviously, 1981’s Escape from New York is a transitional film in the career of director John Carpenter: his fifth feature (seventh if we include his television movies) is the one that finds him starting to really […]

A third review requested by Andrew Johnson, with thanks for contributing yet again to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. Personal anecdotes aren’t criticism, of course, but in this case the anecdote shall lead us to criticism, I promise. The thing is, when I was a wee cinephile, I was quite addicted to […]

A review requested by Frankie Shoup, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. I should like it very much if it were a bit easier to find any English-language resources on the reception granted to the 1988 anime feature Akira during its initial release in Japan. It was an […]

Making a sequel that significantly improves on a strong original is a feat that few enough filmmakers have ever achieved; asking those filmmakers to try their luck by doing the same thing twice in a row is clearly beyond reason. So it’s hardly a slight against Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome that it fails at the […]

Mad Max 2 is, maybe, the perfect sequel. And if you’ll let me pause on that very ebullient sentiment, a note on usage. The film is known by that title everywhere in the world except for North America; the original Mad Max had received a virtually invisible release in 1980, the victim of immensely poor […]

There’s no way around it: Mad Max is an astonishingly impressive movie. It was made for pocket change by a bunch of of amateurs: director and co-writer George Miller was a medical doctor, of all things, before he and producer partner Byron Kennedy made the short Violence in the Cinema, Part 1. And that was […]