Film Review: Same Boat

It’s that old story: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy turns out to be a time travelling assassin and the girl is his target. Now what? As it turns out, Same Boat does a surprisingly good job of finding the balance between a kitsch self-aware low budget comedy and an actually engaging and watchable movie. Yes, that reveals some of my bias towards modern indie comedies! Much of what works on…Read More

Film Review: Blumhouse’s The Hunt

The concept behind The Hunt is an ingenious one: what if radical members of one political group kidnapped and then hunted members of the diametrically opposite group? Kind of The Hunger Games, but with Elites versus Rednecks, Liberals versus Deplorables, Red versus Blue, you get the idea. Not The Hunger Games, though, something more akin to the classic Japanese horror thriller Battle Royale (Batoru Rowaiaru); it’s people versus people, not people versus the system. When…Read More

Film Review: The Invisible Man

In the classic 1933 horror film The Invisible Man, Dr. Jack Griffin (memorably played by Claude Rains) embodies the mad scientist. He figures out a way to become completely invisible, but, as luck would have it, goes insane along the way. The film is ostensibly about this murderous wack-job of a scientist but it’s just as much a warning on the dangers of science and unfettered research. The latter is, of course, a theme that…Read More

Film Review: Color Out of Space

One of the first horror writers, H.P. Lovecraft created an entire world of dark, twisted tales that featured terrifying beasts and unrelenting nightmare situations. There’s no redemption, no neat endings, just a perverse, cynical view of humanity and the greater world around us. His greatest creation was the beast Cthulhu but through his many novels and short stories, he created an entire Lovecraftian world. Miskatonic University, Dunwich, Arkham, Innsmouth and Kingsport are all familiar to…Read More

Film Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

1951. WWII is finally over, but the Cold War is just beginning. NATO has been established to balance the Soviet Union threat to Europe and, on the other side of the planet, the Korean War has everyone worrying about communist threats to the West. In the midst of this escalating tension, science fiction writer Harry Bates publishes Farewell to the Master, a hopeful story about an alien who comes to Earth to share a message…Read More

Film Review: Passport to Pimlico (1949)

Over a hundred years of cinematic history, some studios have emerged as leaders of a specific genre. No discussion of horror films would be complete without inclusion of Hammer Films, for example. For classic postwar comedies, UK-based Ealing Studios similarly gained a reputation for its series of popular British comedies. Their top films include Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Ladykillers (1955), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Man in the White Suit (1951),…Read More

Film Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Let’s just start with the TLDR: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a good sci-fi film, but it’s not great. Yes, they manage to wrap up a lot of the storylines left unfinished in the sprawling series that started way back in 1977 with Star Wars: A New Hope, but between trying to offer a neat ending and weaving in endless fan favorite characters, lines and scenes, the overall film ends up a bit…Read More

Film Review: Jumanji: The Next Level

Zathura: A Space Adventure, the 2005 sequel to the original 1995 Jumanji, proved to be a rather weird story, erring on the side of intense and frightening rather than funny and ingenious. The original Jumanji featured the mad antics of Robin Williams, making it tough to remake, but 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a surprise hit for Columbia Pictures, earning a solid 87% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Always charismatic Dwayne Johnson headed a…Read More

Film Review: Little Joe

What if you woke up and your friends, family and neighbors had been replaced by replicas that looked the same, but had a few oddities and some changed behaviors? This question has fueled countless sci-fi stories, from classics like the brilliant and paranoid Invasion of the Body Snatchers (watch the 1956 original, the 1978 remake misses the point of the story) to Blade Runner, where the replicants are “more human than human” (is Deckard a…Read More

Film Review: The Irishman

You may still think of Netflix as a streaming video service, but it’s really become a movie studio with most of its emphasis on episodic storytelling. It’s all about the original content, with a foundation of streaming subscribers to help pay the bills. Last year’s surprise hit Roma suggested this evolution and one of the standout films of 2019 is also from Netflix Studios: The Irishman. Directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring splendid performances from…Read More

Film Review: Midway

The Battle of Midway was a major turning point in World War II. Prior to the December, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the US had a distinctly isolationist stance, merely watching the chaos of Hitler’s Germany invading country after country in Europe and Japan attacking all of its neighbors. One of the first scenes in the new film Midway has Japanese Admiral Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa) warning American Lieutenant Commander Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) that…Read More

Film Review: Terminator: Dark Fate

There’s something primal and entirely rational about our fear of a relentless hunter. You can shoot them, you can throw them off a cliff, you can run them over with a truck, but they’re going to keep coming. There is no way to stop them and if their goal is to kill you, well, you’re dead. That was the underlying premise of the hugely successful 1984 film The Terminator and its even better sequel Terminator…Read More

Film Review: Zombieland Double Tap

There’s something about zombies that has captured our collective attention in this era of stark contrasts. Perhaps it’s that the zombies serve as a metaphor for the other, those people who don’t agree with you, who have starkly different and often abhorrent beliefs, values and lifestyles. Surely they can’t be thinking adults and believe what they’re espousing! Whatever the case, even 133 episodes of The Walking Dead hasn’t slowed down our undead shuffle to the…Read More

Film Review: Mary

While it’s possible to set a horror movie in a big, wide open space, the claustrophobic feeling of confinement is an important ingredient of many stories and films in the genre. If you can’t escape, how can you avoid the horrible fate that awaits you? Heck, there are horror films literally set inside a coffin where the protagonist wakes up and realizes they’re buried alive. Doesn’t get more confining than that! That’s also why I…Read More

Film Review: Gemini Man

Just to dispel any confusion up front, lead character Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is not a superhero in this film, drunk or otherwise. Though you wouldn’t know it given that director Ang Lee has offered up what can only be considered an homage to bad 80’s action films with a laughably indestructible protagonist. Brogan’s so tough, so single minded and so astonishingly good a sniper that a mysterious group affiliated with the Defense Intelligence Agency…Read More