Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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 […]

There’s an elegant symmetry at play here. One could argue, I’d say with very little effort, that no superhero movie released since The Incredibles debuted in November 2004, has improved upon it.* And now, finally, something has, and it’s Incredibles 2, a very long-delayed follow-up that’s also one of the most wholly satisfying sequels in… […]

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: after an eleven-year break, Ocean’s Eight revives the finest heist movie franchise in all of cinema. The perfect opportunity […]

I have mentioned, once or twice in the past, my theory that superhero franchises are uniquely likely to produce sequels that improve upon their predecessor. And I’ll stick by it, while noting with some annoyance that the 2010s most visible superhero franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, seems largely resistant to this trend. For here we […]

Paddington 2 is the safest, most satisfying kind of sequel.  If you liked 2014’s Paddington – and if you didn’t, you should know that I am instantly a little bit suspicious of you – you will almost certainly like Paddington 2, because it is almost entirely the same movie. The biggest single difference is that […]