Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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 […]

Overhype is a deadly thing, and I don’t want to contribute to it. So let’s just leave it at this: if you’re on the fence about Mad Max: Fury Road, I think you should see it. Go now, and do not be overhyped. If you’re sticking around to find out why I think you should […]

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 […]

The best thing that I could possibly will myself to say about Divergent is that it was by whatever thin margin the more watchable of 2014’s two virtually indistinguishable post-apocalyptic YA adaptations about the Enormously Special Snowflake whose pluck and to-heck-with-your-rules-man attitude helps to knock the legs out from underneath an inscrutable and preposterously contrived […]

If nothing else, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 demonstrates with bleak efficiency that the director can only do so much. Francis Lawrence, making his second Hunger Game, still has all the chops he demonstrated with 2013’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and back further still to the 2007 adaptation of I Am Legend, […]

I foreground pee-drinking not because it’s fun to take cheap shots (which it is), but because the film genuinely cares that much. Pee-drinking is the first thing that happens. We get the scene-setting as a portentous but oddly tinny-sounding narrator invokes “The future. The polar ice caps have melted, covering the Earth with water. Those […]

Good sequels are rare; good sequels to prequels are rare enough that I can’t remember the last one prior to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which isn’t merely good, it’s in some ways outright terrific. In fact, not only is it a more than worthy successor to 2011’s surprisingly good Rise of the […]

There’s something especially annoying about a movie that veers between mostly good and very good for its entire running time, only to complete puke itself apart in the last few minutes. I present to you The Rover, writer-director David Michôd’s sophomore feature after his impressive but in many ways frustratingly commonplace crime thriller Animal Kingdom. […]