Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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. […]

An open question for which I would honestly and none-snarkily beg for an answer: could anybody who likes up-and-coming actress Shailene Woodley – and a quick peek at the internet promises me that there are many of you – please explain why? Is it a The Spectacular Now thing? Because I still haven’t seen that. […]

There’s nothing, as I recall, specifically wrong about The Hunger Games, the massive smash hit that sent a brand-new franchise into the stratosphere early in 2012. There’s also nothing specifically right about it – it’s a perfectly satisfactory piece of consumer product with some smart casting choices and a humongously forgettable script. While its first […]

An earlier review of this film can be found here. A couple of years ago, I encountered the argument somewhere on the internet – I cannot find it again, alack, for it is a difficult thing to search for and not encounter porn – that long tracking shots are an inherently masculine act of cinematography. […]

On an artificial structure miles above the planet’s surface lives a population of idle, comfortable elites, enjoying the very finest technology and living in what you might as well call paradise. On the planet lives a miserable, ground-down population of working class grunts who slave to keep the elites’ world funtioning, without ever getting 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: the genealogy of Pacific Rim rather obviously includes the kaiju eiga, Japan’s legendary giant monster movies spanning the last […]

There is literally zero reason for This Is the End to work as well as it does, and I say this as someone who has entire run out of anything except for sullen tolerance for at least three members of its six-man lead ensemble. For anybody that can hear the name “James Franco” and not […]

There’s nothing respectable at all about beating up on a 14-year-old in print, and it is the inalienable right of Jaden Smith to be 14 years old, something that most of us were at some point. But this leaves us at something of an impasse, because Smith is the chief problem with After Earth, a […]