Let’s be frank. At this point, five movies of Michael Bay-directed robotic mayhem into the franchise, most potential moviegoers don’t need me or anyone else to tell them whether or not to see Transformers: The Last Knight. As the last two installments both topped the billion-dollar mark at the global box office—the first has the smallest take at $709 million—this may well be the most “critic proof” franchise in all of franchise-dom. It basically prints money regardless of brutal reviews. And when this one dominates the box office, it’s sure to be the latest bullet in the studio’s “movie critics don’t matter” gun. (Despite earlier this summer when they placed the blame for the underperforming Baywatch and Pirates of the Caribbean: Johnny Depp Earns a Paycheck squarely at the feet of those fun-hating critics they didn’t make the movies for anyway.)
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Monday, June 19, 2017
Are you mentally prepared for xXx 4? Well, ready or not, it sounds like it’s headed our way, so start thinking of what renegade shit you’d like to see Vin Diesel do now that we’ve watched him ski through a jungle.
Friday, June 16, 2017
After debuting at Cannes last month, Jung Byung-gil’s Korean revenge action film The Villainess is getting ready to roll out to the public. At least in Asia. Check out this badass new trailer and try not to drool on your keyboard.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
I admit, I’m a sucker for the “like Groundhog Day but…” knockoff. Okay, maybe not Before I Fall, but Edge of Tomorrow is boss. Before you lob sub-par examples my way, know I’m on the hook for Happy Death Day, a slasher take on the live-the-same-day-over-and-over trick. This new trailer looks kind of awesome.
Jean-Claude Van Damme has had a weird career. He’s been a huge star, been the butt of jokes, resurrected and reinvented himself a handful of times in a variety of ways (think both JCVD and Jean-Claude Van Johnson among others). He’s dabbled in directing, most notably with 1996’s The Quest (where the goal is to acquire a big, gold dragon that has no name beyond the “big, gold dragon). His only other turn at the helm is something of an oddity, languishing on the shelf for years, though it’s finally seeing the light of day under the moniker Full Love, and there’s a new trailer for you to check out.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Jenee LaMarque’s The Feels starts out looking like it’s going to be a lesbian version of Bridesmaids or The Hangover. Like those films, it’s bursting with raunchy humor, heavily improvised, and set during a bachelorette weekend. There’s booze and drugs and all manner of pre-getting-hitched shenanigans. But it’s also sweet and earnest and I got misty at places I legit didn’t expect. And all of this from one of the few (maybe only?) movies primarily about the female orgasm.
Monday, June 12, 2017
Another Seattle International Film Festival has come and gone. That means I spent the bulk of the last six weeks (preview screenings start well before the 25-day festival gets rolling proper) working full time at my day job then spending every available free moment in a movie theater, waiting in line outside a movie theater, or at a computer writing about what I watched inside a movie theater (or, to be honest, sitting on my couch as there are more and more screeners every year).
Friday, June 9, 2017
So some of you, like me, are way into long-lost, shot-on-video oddities that spring forth from the minds of lunatics. You know who you are and you know what I’m talking about and if you don’t, you probably don’t need to read any further, because the movie we’re about to discuss, Jungle Trap, isn’t for you.
For a space mission that never happened, Apollo 18 has a unique place in pop culture. It’s been the name of a record, a videogame, an indie rock band, and less-than-stellar found footage horror movie. Now it’s the subject of faux-documentary, The Landing, which screens at the Seattle International Film Festival.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
For a stretch of The Mummy, Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton asks over and over, “That’s really your plan?” like he just can’t believe it. And that’s essentially my reaction to Universal’s latest attempt to kick off their “Dark Universe” where they reboot all their classic monster movie properties with modern action spectacle trappings. 2014’s Dracula Untold was a failed first endeavor, and I can’t help but wonder if this uninspiring re-launch will meet a similar fate.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Like Hitchcock with a nasty streak, Argentinian director Rodrigo Grande crafts a tight, vicious crime thriller with At the End of the Tunnel. With a twisting, turning, rigidly constructed plot that shifts and evolves over the course of the movie, this is a dark, tension-heavy throwback of the kind we see woefully few of in modern times.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Grim, bleak, desolate. These are just a few accurate words to describe It Comes at Night, the moody new slow-burn horror joint from writer/director Trey Edward Shults (Krisha). An unrelenting apocalyptic mood piece about how people cope with the end of the world, vagaries and uncertainty abound, and the oppressive downer nature is certain to crush the spirit and will to live of many a viewer. Which means it’s my kind of bummer.
Gillian Robespierre reteams with Jenny Slate, star of her debut feature Obvious Child, for her follow up, Landline. Likeable and fun, though less inclined to stick to the ribs, the story follows two mid-1990s sisters (Slate and Abby Quinn) who discover their father (John Turturro) is cheating on their mother (Edie Falco as good as she’s ever been).
Monday, June 5, 2017
Taylor Sheridan won acclaim for writing recent crime dramas Sicario and Hell or High Water, which afforded him the chance to direct his own script, Wind River. Beginning with a murder of a young woman on an isolated Indian reservation, the story follows a tracker (Jeremy Renner), grieving his own loss, as he helps a newbie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen), stalk the killer. As he says, he “hunts predators.”
Friday, June 2, 2017
Fred Beckey is something of a myth, a legendary “dirtbag”—think a vagabond ski bum for the mountaineering set—who sacrifices everything to climbing. Normal people don’t know his name, but the hardcore speak of him with reverence and awe. It’s difficult to live up to such hype, but when we meet the man himself in Dave O’Leske’s documentary, Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey, he more than lives up to the billing.
It’s easy to look at director Bob Byington’s Infinity Baby as a prototypical “film festival” movie. Shot in black and white, featuring a who’s who of indie movie staples, it’s at times unbearably twee, rides a quirky concept to the point of distraction, and is far more in love with its own wit than it should be—Onur Tukel’s script isn’t nearly as clever as it thinks it is. That’s not to say there aren’t merits, because there are, but much of the first half borders on insufferable.
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Here’s the bad news: Wonder Woman is a flawed superhero origin story. Now that we have that out of the way, the good news is that it’s mostly awesome, finally brings one of the greatest comic book characters ever to the big screen after more than 75 years, breaks up just a little bit of the boys’ club that is contemporary superhero movies, and is easily the best thing the DC Extended Universe has produced thus far.
Catherine Bainbridge’s documentary, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, examines the oft-ignored and overlooked contributions of Native Americans to the history of popular music. (Hint: It goes way deeper than the dude in the headdress from the Village People.)