Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

The original Planet of the Apes movie series started with one of the very best science fiction films of the late 1960’s, starring Charlton Heston as an astronaut who has mysteriously travelled hundreds of years into a future Earth where simians are ascendant and mankind are chattel. The sequels became increasingly awful, however, and by the fifth installment, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the story had become truly excruciating. The box office numbers…Read More

Why Does Hollywood Produce So Many Sequels?

Every time I talk about movies with friends or even acquaintances the question comes up of why there are so many reboots and sequels coming out of Hollywood. Well, “question” isn’t the right word, because it’s more of a criticism and complaint. You’ve probably felt it too: Why can’t Hollywood make original movies with new, contemporary characters? There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon, but the best way to understand the thinking of the…Read More

Film Review: Wonder Woman

Let’s start right out with the good news, film fans and comic book geeks: Wonder Woman is good. Really good. Possibly one of the best and most exciting films of the summer. As already shown in the otherwise dull and tedious Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot brings a great energy and strength to an iconic character and she’s terrific in this new movie. Yes, this also means that DC has finally figured…Read More

Film Review: Alien: Covenant

The formula is easy to figure out: a bunch of rough-and-ready spacers trapped in an enclosed space with a big, scary alien creature that’s only interested in one thing: eating them. This formula has not only worked for five previous Alien movies with small variations, but for countless other horror/sci-fi films too. Though much debated, it’s the original 1979 film Alien that offers the purest vision of this storyline and it not only set the…Read More

Film Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

There are some film directors who have such a strong imprint on their films that regardless of the story, you know what kind of cinematic experience you’re in for when you walk in the theater. Michael Bay loves his explosions. Quentin Tarantino loves his ultra-violence (yes, with a nod to A Clockwork Orange). And Guy Ritchie? He loves his style. His oeuvre encompasses some of the coolest, most visually striking films in the last decade, including…Read More

Film Review: The Circle

There’s a really great film to be made about the journey we as a society are taking from private lives to a more digital, more public life where “information wants to be free” and we laud people like Julian Assange as cultural heroes for exposing the secrets of government agencies. Unfortunately, The Circle is not that film. Ostensibly based on the hero’s journey of Mae (Emma Watson), a young, blue collar Northern Californian worker, the…Read More

Film Review: Displacement

There are few themes in science fiction cinema that are harder to get right than time travel. It’s ridiculously complex because of all the built-in paradoxes. Travel back in time to fix something and you might inadvertently prevent your parents meeting and falling in love. Have a character in the movie try to explain what’s going on and things just get exponentially more confounding. That’s the fundamental problem with the indie time travel film Displacement. It…Read More

Best New Films to Netflix, May 2017

I haven’t written about what’s leaving and what’s coming to Netflix in a while, but let’s be honest: Netflix has so much content, it can be hard to realize that the catalog changes on any given month anyway. Particularly now that it’s so aggressively producing its own unique content, both movies and engrossing TV series. Still, let’s have a look at May, 2017’s big list. Leaving Netflix There are some really good movies leaving Netflix…Read More

How Dolby Cinema is Changing The Theater Experience

While home theaters have come a long way in terms of offering up a surround sound experience, there’s only so much you can do with three speakers plus a subwoofer. Okay, that front soundbar might have three speakers within it, front left, front center and front right, while the two back satellite speakers are rear left and rear right, but still, one big advantage that a movie theater has over even the most well equipped home is…Read More

Film Review: Ghost in the Shell

It’s the future and we’re all cybernetically enhanced human beings. Whether it’s a replacement limb, better eyesight, or even neural access to the Internet, everyone’s jacked in and everyone’s just a bit anxious about how far humanity can go. At what point does an enhanced human become a robot, not human at all? For Ghost in the Shell lead character Major (Scarlett Johansson), this is a highly personal question as she learns that her brain was…Read More

Film Review: Life

The premise of the new sci-fi horror thriller Life clearly borrows from two other excellent sci-fi thrillers Alien and The Andromeda Strain, and, like both of those, delivers a tense cinematic experience that keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat, guessing about the outcome up to the final scene. The action all takes place on the International Space Station, crewed by a team of six specialists who are focused on capturing and analyzing soil samples…Read More

Film Review: Hidden Figures

Watch enough movies about the space race and you’ll be convinced that Americans got off the planet and ultimately to the moon through the efforts of a lot of nerdy white guys with flat-top haircuts. It took way too long for the USA to get men and women of different ethnic and racial backgrounds into spaceships, but it turns out that behind the scenes, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs were powered by a lot…Read More

Film Review: Passengers

You’ve been woken up from your cryopod 90 years early on a 120 year journey from Earth to the distant colony world of Homestead II. And you’re alone. No crew, and none of the other 5,000 passengers on the spaceship are conscious. What do you do? Denver-based mechanic Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is the only conscious person on the massive deep space ship and he has no idea why his pod decided it was time for…Read More

Film Review: Morgan

There’s precious little that’s new and provocative in the sci-fi thriller Morgan, but its still sufficiently well-assembled that it’s worth a watch, albeit on HBO, Netflix or Redbox. The production team tried to deliver a dark commentary on humanity and genetic engineering, but the big reveal was so obvious that it might as well have been explicitly stated in the first reel. The story has a nameless corporation sponsoring the creation and nurturing of genetically…Read More

Film Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Producing a series of films where each is a sequel of the previous is tricky enough, but slipping new films into an older series so that they begin and end at logical points yet tell a story all their own is extraordinarily difficult. And that’s exactly what director Gareth Edwards does with the terrific new Star Wars film Rogue One. The third film in the Star Wars saga, Revenge of the Sith (2005) ends with…Read More