Harmless (adjective): not able or likely to cause harm; inoffensive. Synonyms include safe, benign, mild, unobjectionable and unexceptional.
All of these words apply to Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, a harmless, safe form of entertainment that goes out of its way to be as inoffensive and unobjectionable as it can be, ultimately making the film feel benign and unexceptional. If I may, I would also like to add: unnecessary. Read Full Review
Walton Goggins has been a favorite actor of mine since he first broke onto the scene as Timothy Olyphant’s charismatic and calculated foil Boyd Crowder on FX’s Justified. Goggins brought rich depth and nuance to a character that wasn’t meant to last past the first episode, and he didn’t let any second of screen time go to waste, especially when he shared it with Olyphant, each able to bring out a brother-like camaraderie that intensified the other’s performance. Ever since then, whether it be in TV or movies, Goggins has yet to recapture that presence in the same way. Goggins is a thinking man’s actor, and so far this year, he’s taken roles (or been given them) in films that don’t need any brain cells to enjoy, such as Maze Runner: The Death Cure and Tomb Raider, and that trend doesn’t stop with Marvel’s newest film, Ant-Man and the Wasp. Read Full Review
There’s been some controversy recently about producers and studios claiming that some movies aren’t made for critics; they’re made for the fans. For me, this claim is just an excuse to produce films without any effort. If critics weren’t fans of film, why would they subject themselves to hours upon hours of their lives watching them? And if studios don’t want to receive bad reviews, they should stop rushing films into production and do what Pixar does and take the time to develop a good, solid story. On the other hand, everyone will bring their own personal experiences with them into a film. Where one person sees a masterpiece, another sees boring tripe. You’re never going to please everyone; all you can really do is make the best possible movie you can and let the chips fall where they may. Somoene’s opinion should never be mocked or ridiculed just because it doesn’t line up with yours. I know not everyone is going to like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the newest entry into the dino-centric franchise. Some will think it’s a retread of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, some won’t be interested in the cast, and some will say it’s nothing more than a cash-grab. And that’s fine. As for me, I enjoy an array of different types of films, and as both a critic and a fan, I thought Fallen Kingdom was a welcome addition to the franchise. Read Full Review
When The Incredibles first made their way to the big screen in 2004, I really enjoyed it, as I do all Pixar movies, but I didn’t seem to appreciate it the same way I did films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo. I’m not sure what it was, but there was something about it that didn’t quite click. Over the years, though, after several repeat viewings, the film has grown on me more, and I can appreciate what writer/director Brad Bird was able to accomplish. Fourteen years later, Bird returns with Incredibles 2, the long-awaited sequel to his superhero love song. Can it live up to what many fans of the original have been clamoring for? Or has the magic worn off due to the length of time it took to finally get this film off the ground? In many ways, it may be a little of both. Read Full Review
Don’t be fooled by high-caliber casts. When the advertising for a film focuses heavily on the well-known, and in some cases, incredibly talented actors, it doesn’t necessarily equate to a particularly good film. Case in point — Movie 43. This 2013 film boasted about its extremely big names that all came together to have a good laugh. The end result, though, was a disgusting mess of a film that had almost zero laughs, took their premises way too far, and didn’t know what to do with their all-star talent. I can’t say that Hotel Artemis is near as bad as Movie 43, but it spends so much time lamenting over the caliber of its cast, that it completely forgets to give any of the characters or the plot any meaningful substance. Read Full Review
Occasionally, it’s good to cleanse the blockbuster palette with a smaller movie that you’ve never heard of before, never saw a trailer for, and don’t know any of the actors involved. Sometimes, these types of movies can be brilliant pieces of thought-provoking art; other times, they’re mind-numbing snooze-fests. Beast, a British import filmed in and around the UK and distributed across the pond in 2017 (and originally titled Jersey Affair), falls somewhere between these two extremes. It has some very quiet, eloquent moments that keep you invested in the mystery that surrounds the plight of the characters, and yet, because its pace can be a bit on the slow side, and its message so subtle as to become confusing, it’s far more frustrating than exhilarating. Read Full Review
From the initial announcement that Han Solo was going to be given the standalone treatment, the film has been plagued with problems, both small (common, routine re-shoots) and large (replacing original directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord with iconic filmmaker Ron Howard). This news spurred the fires that the production was troubled and that the final product would be a complete mess. I never believed that; Ron Howard is too smart a filmmaker to let things fall apart under his watch. It’s said that Lord and Miller believed they were making a comedy, and though I respect their vision, I don’t think Han Solo is the right character for that. Yes, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is a sarcastic smart-ass who doesn’t take a whole lot seriously, but to put him at the center of a comedy, I believe, would have turned Han into a joke and diluted the essence of the universe as a whole. Read Full Review
I’ll say it – I’m not the biggest fan of Melissa McCarthy. Though I like her physicality and fearlessness, for me, she can come off as stubbornly obnoxious and loud, which can become grating, especially when she forces her brand to extreme heights. What helps keep everything balanced is a good supporting cast. When everyone around her is just like her, things can go off the rails real quick; when they are the complete opposite, or more subtle and subdued, it allows the audience a chance to breathe every once in a while. It’s sometimes easy to see which category the cast will fall based on the trailer, but other times, it’s not so clear, so I always keep my hopes on the lower end of the spectrum whenever going into one of her films. Luckily, McCarthy chose to tone everything around her down in Life of the Party, her newest team-up with director/husband Ben Falcone, making what could have been an insufferable noise fest into a sweet, funny slice-of-life comedy. Read Full Review
One player does not a team make.
But one player can have a major effect on the moral of a team, and for the 2011 Iowa City West High School volleyball team, that person was Caroline “Line” Found. When I first saw the previews for the The Miracle Season, I couldn’t help but think back to We Are Marshall, another inspirational sports film that saw a team and a community rise up among a major tragedy. The difference is that with Marshall, almost the entire starting lineup of the school’s football team perished in a place crash, so it would seem it would take a lot more to find the strength to rebuild a successful team than it would had only one player died. However, according to director Sean McNamara, Line was a spark plug — someone who lived life with no regrets and no filter; a young girl that had an amazing life ahead of her only to be cut short because of one simple mistake. It doesn’t matter that she was a single person, her presence alone elevated everyone around her, so when an accident took her away from those who looked to her for light, for them that was all it took to slip into darkness. Read Full Review
I’ve never read Ready Player One, the pop-culture-heavy book written by Ernest Cline (who shares credit on the screenplay with Zak Penn) for which the film is based, but when it was announced that Steven Spielberg would helm the big-budget adaptation, excitement hit 88 miles per hour. In most people’s minds (and hearts), Spielberg is the quintessential sc-fi/fantasy director of the eighties, so to have him direct a movie that would incorporate so many beloved references — a lot of which he himself had a hand in bringing to life — was a film lover’s dream come true. As time passed, though, and the anticipation wore off, some began to wonder: could Spielberg, who had grown more accustomed to heavy adult material in the past two decades (and failed to deliver on his fantasy adaptation of the beloved children’s story, The BFG) pull off the same magic he was able to deliver back in the heyday of what this respectable critic deems the best era of film, music and gaming? The answer to that question has been answered, and I’m happy to say it is a resounding — Yes he can. Read Full Review