Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

First and most importantly: the title of A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon can be parsed as a meaning-carrying phrase in English, and is thus a substantial improvement on its 2015 predecessor, Shaun the Sheep Movie, whose title is a syntactically incoherent mash-up of nouns. This is, I’m a little sad the say, one of […]

If the whole point of a movie is that it follows the narrative logic of a video game, I wonder: does that mean that giving that film a “the same thing only with a few purely cosmetic tweaks” type of sequel actually counts as a strength? This question arrives on the back of Jumanji: The […]

There’s one main reason any film gets a sequel: because some producers got a bit of money, and want to get a bit more. And for the great majority of sequels, that’s where it stops, which is why so many of them are such joyless retreads, doing the same thing but bigger and louder (or, […]

House of 1000 Corpses is an energetic, lively movie, but it is also a substantially dysfunctional one, better-suited for demonstrating writer-director Rob Zombie’s all-encompassing love for the horror genre than for working as an audio-visual narrative object. It’s the kind of first feature that a filmmaker needs to get out of their system so they […]

We are now at the seventh film of the Conjuring Universe, and by this point, the films have established a formula as reliable and unyielding as a religious ceremony. They are not “stories” to be “told”; these movies are enacted. So how in God’s name is it that Annabelle Comes Home works so well – that […]

With John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski and his team at 87Eleven Productions have achieved one of the rarest and most impressive feats in Hollywood filmmaking: they’ve made a trilogy (for now) in which every film has improved upon the one preceding. And 2014’s John Wick wasn’t any kind of low bar […]

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 […]

Making one PG-13 slasher film that’s actually enjoyable to watch is impressive enough. Making two of them would probably require divine intervention. So it’s surely the right decision that, in crafting a follow-up to 2017’s startlingly fun and effective Happy Death Day, returning writer-director Christopher Landon would elect to use the slasher form more as […]

In a marvelous decade for low-budget indie sci-fi, the writing-directing team of [Aaron] Moorhead & [Justin] Benson still stand out for making some of the most offbeat genre films out there. They’ve gone-three-for-three now on films that start out as a low-key character dramas about two people who like each other a lot but are […]

In the short period of time that Mission: Impossible – Fallout has existed out in the world, the claim “it’s the best action film since Mad Max: Fury Road” has gone from being a fun bit of hype-raising and a useful comparison to a lifeless cliché to a symptom of unmitigated critical groupthink, and yet […]

Over the course of 19 features, the interconnected productions of Marvel Studios have perfected the art of quality control: there is an extremely narrow band of not-too-good and not-too-bad that the films consistently hit. But there’s never been a point when the quality was quite as controlled as with Film #20 in the Marvel Cinematic […]

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is pretty well dumb across the board, but there is one respect in which it’s kind of so unexpectedly smart that I absolutely have to assume it’s on purpose. And that precise combination of “almost entirely dumb, but smart in just enough ways that you can see the filmmakers peering through […]