Film Review: Annihilation

Most genre films are trapped in their formula, a sequence of tropes and cliches that leave you confident you understand what’s about to happen next and unsurprised by the Big Twist ending. Science fiction is no different, and there are so many films that take place in a future that’s ripped right out of Blade Runner or on a space station “inspired” by Alien or in the midst of an epic space battle that’s just…Read More

DVD Extras Review: “Blade Runner 2049”

I’ll admit it, I loved Blade Runner 2049. It’s no surprise, I think the original dark Ridley Scott movie Blade Runner is one of the best sci-fi films ever made and even when it was released loved its grit and texture, the surprisingly lyrical dialog and the imaginative noir-inspired sets and setting. And I’m not alone; it’s clear how much Blade Runner inspired the genre every time another movie or TV show — like Altered…Read More

Film Review: Maze Runner: The Death Cure

There’s an entire category of films which I call teen dystopia cinema. You’ve seen some of these movies, I’m sure, whether it’s The Hunger Games, Divergent, City of Ember, The Golden Compass, The Mortal Instruments, The Fifth Wave, and, of course, The Maze Runner. Maybe it’s simply because teens make up such a large percentage of the movie-going public that this is such a popular theme. Then again, odds are good that we adults are…Read More

Film Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

The line between gaming universes and reality has always been a bit fuzzy, whether it’s the 70’s angst some parents felt towards their children playing D&D and being adversely influenced to more modern video games that make us all raving maniacs. Prior to the introduction of engaging computer and video games, stories that blurred the lines revolved around board games. The imaginative original 1995 film Jumanji revolves around three children who are pulled into the…Read More

Film Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The great Star Wars saga last ended on a dark note at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens [my review] with scrappy rebel fighter Rey (Daisy Ridley) having finally found the semi-mythic Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in his remote island hideaway. The Rebel Alliance was in a shambles and the Empire was clearly on the ascendancy with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) as heir apparent to its new incarnation, The First Order. In the latest…Read More

TV Review: “Knightfall” on The History Channel

One of the great joys of studying history is that there are so many fantastic and exciting stories left untold. The bravest of heroes, the most cowardly and despicable of backstabbing conspirators, the obsessive greed of despots and the nobility of commoners, all captured in the pages of history. From both a historical and religious perspective, few groups are more interesting than the Knights Templar, however, whose exploits have been mostly hinted at or obliquely…Read More

Movie Review: The Shape of Water

Rarely does a film grab me from the very first frame, pulling me into a world of imagination and wonder, offering up a compelling, fascinating and peculiar story, but that’s exactly the experience of watching the brilliant film The Shape of Water. It’s best described as “phantasmagorical” and is a love story between a lonely cleaner at a creepy Cold War research facility and a creature from the Amazonian jungles. But there are so many…Read More

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

The original 1982 film Blade Runner is one of the darkest, most existential and most profound movies in the entire science fiction genre, a landmark that has influenced all science fiction since. Set in the future, it takes place in a perpetually dark, urban world where off-planet work is so hazardous that replicants, synthetic, genetically engineered humans, have been created to help humanity spread to the stars. Until the most advanced of them, Nexus 6 units,…Read More

Movie Review: Flatliners

What happens when you die? Is there a bright light, a tunnel and you travel to your heavenly or hellacious destination? Or do you have your entire life flash before your eyes cinematically as you head towards the eternal judge St. Peter? There are few more profound questions in all of philosophy and religion than the mystery of life after death. No surprise, lots of films have been made that touch on this theme, including…Read More

Movie Review: Infinity Chamber

Film critics end up on a lot of movie distribution lists and some days it can be overwhelming how many invitations we receive to watch indie, direct to video, or even direct to streaming movies. There are plenty of movie festivals too, so that even the most banal of films can get some big screen time and garnered a few positive reviews. But are they all good? Do they all break new ground or offer…Read More

Movie Review: Rememory

Are we simply the sum of our memories? That’s a problem, if so, because our memories are inevitably tainted and altered by events that happen subsequent to any given point in our lives. Which leads to the question: can you trust your memories? Those are the key questions underlying the indie sci-fi thriller Rememory, and they’re darn interesting to consider. More provocative, however, is a device that lets you relive memories, an invention that also…Read More

Movie Review: The Dark Tower

Based on a popular sci-fi / western / horror / fantasy series by uber-author Stephen King, the film The Dark Tower is as much of a sprawling incoherent mess as you’d expect with a series that doesn’t neatly fit into a single category. It’s also good entertainment and worth watching, with lots of Easter eggs referencing other King properties, some hidden, some on flashing neon signs. King treads familiar ground with the basic story: Jake…Read More

Movie Review: 1944

There’s an inherent level of absurdity to any war, decisions made and tactics created that make sense back at HQ but are horribly out of kilter with the reality of the man in the trenches. Films like Catch-22 have captured this in a comic way, but the darker, gritty Estonian war drama 1944 shows another side of World War II that few people know: Estonia was first seized by Russia early in the war, then…Read More

Movie Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is one of those movies you’re going to appreciate a lot more the second time you see it. With a hefty running time of almost 140 minutes, there’s a lot to the narrative that makes no sense until you finally arrive at the last reel and things come together. Before that, however, it’s a master class in computer graphics and visual effects that might veer into video…Read More

Movie Review: Dunkirk

If you’re only going to watch one war movie, this is the one to see. Focused on the evacuation of over 330,000 soldiers from the Dunkirk beaches in World War II, the movie Dunkirk brilliantly tells the story of what Winston Churchill aptly called “the miracle of Dunkirk”. From the opening scene, Dunkirk is relentless, with a pounding soundtrack and both audio and visual effects that will leave viewers wide-eyed and caught up in the…Read More