“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” Review

If you’re still wondering why superhero movies are still prevalent and prospering in the face of saturation, it’s because many of the Marvel productions are experimenting and venturing down paths less explored for superhero cinema. In a year where Marvel has already shattered expectations with tales of politics (Black Panther) and pathos (Avengers: Infinity War), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is very much the most daring in scope, visuals, characters, and storytelling. All of this not only makes this movie the best animated film of the year but the best superhero film as well. Continue reading ““Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” Review”

“Creed II” Review

Creed II has everything I did and didn’t want in a sequel to the Rocky spin-off. While it does present Adonis Creed with another tough boxing challenge and ties directly into his lineage for being the son of Apollo, it also slips too comfortably into the old Rocky movies. The punches are heavier, the stakes are higher, and character drama is amplified to the point of being a melodrama. And while it certainly gets the job done as a blood-pumping pleaser, it does show a bit of wear and tear that threatens to take the Creed franchise down a peg into the lesser Rocky territory. Continue reading ““Creed II” Review”

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” Review

Prequels are tough to get into when you’re aware of everything that will happen to certain characters. The Crimes of Grindelwald seems to be trying to overwhelm the audience with too much lore and characters, as though it were conjuring a distraction from the rather dreary and feckless fantasy. Perhaps you’ll find yourself so busy trying to piece together all the character histories you won’t notice how muddled its storytelling is. No? What if the movie threw giant cats at the screen?
Continue reading ““Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” Review”

“Overlord” Review

After having been beaten over the head with the absurdity of Nazi zombies in the likes of Wolfenstein and Dead Snow, along comes Overlord as the boldly brutal and earnest take on this odd little subgenre. It’s a bloody romp of bullets and monsters, yet never feels the need to come loaded with winks for the action. There’s enough trust that you’ll have fun with a half-faced Nazi villain and a kick-butt French villager brandishing a flamethrower.
Continue reading ““Overlord” Review”

“Venom” Review

What does a solo film about the Spider-Man villain Venom need to be a good film? After the trailer debut, I kept hearing the same things about the look of Venom, fans being excited that the movies had finally gotten the iconic comic book character right. Sure, in about a minute’s worth of footage, he looks great. It’s just the other 111 minutes to fill that the movie turns into a mess as sloshy and unstable as the very alien Symbiote that creates the anti-hero.
Continue reading ““Venom” Review”

“The Predator” Review

There’s something so unbelievably bonkers about Shane Black’s take on Predator that make it narrowly fun amid its messy hit-or-miss method. Rather than go for a more modern and serious retread of the classic action tale of gun-toting soldiers versus high-tech alien hunter, Black throws his picture so far deep into the pool of zany it should come labeled as a comedy, decked out with much winking in its silly banter and over-the-top gore. And sometimes, amid the massive mess of this nutty production, it works.
Continue reading ““The Predator” Review”

“The Meg” Review

The Meg is a B-movie creature feature that seems to be trying so hard to be average, never favoring a tone too serious or silly. It struggles to play it straight with its exposition of underwater research and horrific with the titular shark, but still wants to wink at the camera and have a laugh with a quip or two. A PG-13 rating for a bigger summer box office gross prevents any memorable kills or bloody terror. It’s this assembly that makes the movie more of a dry, by-the-numbers monster movie than a more campier version that pays homage to its lesser and goofier counterparts.
Continue reading ““The Meg” Review”

“Equalizer 2” Review

While it is fun to watch Denzel Washington lay waste to rooms full of assassins and pull off that ease of intimidation in his presence, he’s not exactly playing a character in Equalizer 2. He’s more like an action god that gazes down on the innocent and wicked, carefully choosing who to spare with gentle grace and who to execute with extreme prejudice. And while such a Superman story is held firm by Denzel’s strong performance, I wished his omnipotent powers were strong enough to cast aside a tired Jason Bourne ending for the film’s more engaging smaller skirmishes.
Continue reading ““Equalizer 2” Review”

“Skyscraper” Review

There I was in the theater watching Dwayne Johnson edge across a towering inferno, hundreds of feet in the air, and I’m not feeling that familiar giddy charm and thrill he exudes with nearly every action performance. Everything is present for a popcorn-chomper of Dwayne’s Die Hard, from a foreign-accented terrorist to daring stunts that leave Johnson as battered and bruised as John McClane. It should have been a light bit of brainless summer action but casual passivity of the structure left me wanting, especially as Dwayne gets lost in the dust of the flashier sequences, existing as more beef than brains.
Continue reading ““Skyscraper” Review”

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” Review

This is exactly what I needed. After the dense cultural aspects of Black Panther and the darker pathos of Avengers: Infinity War, there’s a refreshing break from the bleak with Ant-Man and the Wasp. There’s no painful conflict of a father trying to be a hero, nor a hugely tragic villain of messy plight for him to best. It’s just a light and bright spectacle of a summer blockbuster that has fun with its size-altering heroes and phase-shifting villains. You remember what fun was like in these movies, right? Before half the universe died in that last Marvel film?
Continue reading ““Ant-Man and the Wasp” Review”