Friday, April 12, 2024

'Arcadian' (2024) Movie Review

nicolas cage in the movie arcadian
Raising twin teen boys is a harrowing enough proposition, but when you have to raise twin teen boys in the middle of an end-of-the-world scenario, it’s even more fraught with peril. And sibling rivalry, and raging hormones, and dammit-dad-leave-me-alone-I’m-brooding. In this exact predicament is where Nicolas Cage’s Paul finds himself in Arcadian. Not only does he have to protect his sons, Joseph (Jaeden Martell, It, Midnight Special) and Thomas (Maxwell Jenkins, Lost in Space), from monsters that come in the darkness, he has to keep them from killing each other. No minor feat.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

'Blackout' Movie Review

a man about to turn into a werewolf
After messing with vampires and Frankenstein, in Habit and Depraved respectively, indie horror fave Larry Fessenden returns with his take on werewolves in Blackout. Set in a small town in upstate New York, painter Charley Barrett (Alex Hurt, son of William Hurt, which comes into play in one uniquely pointed way) makes his way through his last day in town, wrapping up loose ends, visiting friends one final time, and trying to right a few lingering wrongs on the way out the door. Complicating his exit, it turns out Charley is a werewolf and responsible for a number of recent deaths the elder powerbroker of this minor hamlet, Hammond (Marshall Bell), has chosen to blame on Miguel (Rigo Garay) despite a lack of evidence.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

'Road House' (2024) Movie Review

Jake Gyllenhaal in Road House
A big part of the charm of Rowdy Harrington’s 1980 cult classic Road House is, aside from Patrick Swayze kicking all the ass and being cool as hell while doing it, how straight-faced it plays everything. From lines like, “Pain don’t hurt,” to a monster truck pancaking a small Missouri town, to a world where bar bouncers are world-renowned celebrities, it’s all presented as very serious business.

Friday, February 23, 2024

'578 Magnum' (2023) Movie Review

Alexandre Nguyen looking dour.
There’s nothing quite like watching a movie missing much of the connective tissue between scenes to make you appreciate that facet that so often goes unnoticed and underappreciated. You may not always recognize the work it does, but holy hell, do you miss it when it’s gone. And that is a big, big problem with Vietnamese writer/director Luong Dinh Dung’s 578 Magnum. The film is, however, Vietnam’s official Oscar entry for 2023, and though there are definite highpoints, there are also gargantuan problems to skirt.

Friday, February 16, 2024

'Lights Out' (2024) Movie Review

Mekhi Phifer hugging Frank Grillo
Lights Out knows what you came to see. (And it's not the horror Lights Out.)You came to see Frank Grillo throw down. And throw down he does. Constantly. It’s also precisely the movie it advertises itself as, and while your mileage may vary, if this is your thing, this is very much your thing. It begins with a tactical running battle and moments later there’s a bar brawl. If that sounds like a good time, you’re in luck.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

'Land Of Bad' (2024) Movie Review

Hems-pocalypse Now!
In Land of Bad, Liam Hemsworth plays Kinney, an inexperienced communications officer embedded on an op with a hardened Delta Force team. Unqualified and in far over his head, he’s only there because he was the only one around for an urgent, last minute rescue mission. The reason Kinney was around when duty called? Because he missed a flight. He missed a flight because he had diarrhea. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

'Restore Point' (2023) Movie Review

a detective and a corpse
What if you could save your life at a certain point and, if you die unexpectedly, can then reset to that moment, like a video game? That’s the general idea of director Robert Hloz’s Restore Point, a slice of dystopian sci-fi. A solid, sturdy neo-noir, the film combines a twisting mystery and cool world building with an intriguing idea that plays something like Chinatown by way of Minority Report, both thematically and aesthetically. 

Friday, February 2, 2024

'She Is Conann' (2023) Movie Review

“Let me tell you about the days of high adventure.” If your first impulse upon hearing this line from Conan the Barbarian was to giggle and go, “heh, high,” then have we got something for you. While you don’t necessarily need to be high to watch Bertrand Mandico’s She is Conann—and to suggest it can only be enjoyed or appreciated while on drugs denigrates a rowdy, curious slice of experimental cinema—it certainly won’t damage the experience should the viewer be a slight bit elevated. This seriously has future cult-fave midnight movie stamped all over it.

Friday, January 26, 2024

'Miller's Girl' (2024) Movie Review

Martin Freeman flirting with Jenna Ortega

Say what you will about writer/director Jade Halley Bartlett’s debut feature, Miller’s Girl, and we’ll get to that in a moment, this movie truly understands the cinematic power of cigarettes. Smoking looks cool and dammit, people look hot smoking—even if I don’t want to be around them afterward. Something as seemingly innocuous as offering a light becomes encoded with erotic subtext, they’re an excuse for characters to isolate themselves and break apart from the prying eyes of the crowd and exchange secrets, or hell, they offer an excuse for the camera to linger on a character’s mouth. 

Thursday, January 18, 2024

'I.S.S.' (2024) Movie Review

Ariana DeBose is an astronaut.
The hardest movies to write about are the ones that are fine, the ones that are just kind of okay. Where there’s nothing specifically wrong with them, where there aren’t glaring, slap-you-in-the-face flaws or problems, but also where there’s nothing particularly engaging, memorable, or otherwise noteworthy. And that is the exact place where director Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s extraplanetary thriller I.S.S. lives. It has a strong cast doing solid work, seamless special effects, and a decent amount going for it. But the finished product is little more than a shrug and there’s not much to say beyond, “It’s fine.”

Thursday, January 11, 2024

'The Beekeeper' (2024) Movie Review

jason statham looking grim
We’re barely into 2024 and so far, the new movie releases have twice returned to the guy-with-a-mundane-job-who-used-to-be-a-government-agent well. First came Renny Harlin’s The Bricklayer and now star Jason Statham and director David Ayer have thrown their hat into the ring with The Beekeeper. (The Custodian feels the obvious next step.) Bigger, badder, and wilder than the Harlin joint, this plays like deep EuropaCorp trash filtered through a lens of mean-spirited American animosity and excess. The result is relentlessly absurd, but also absurdly entertaining. It's utter nonsense, but fun nonsense that’s in on the joke (to an extent), and even funnier because everyone plays it straight faced. 

Friday, January 5, 2024

'Mayhem!' (2023) Movie Review

nassim lyes hits a dude with a pool ball
When you have a checkered past, a new, idyllic life complete with a pregnant wife and newly minted hopes and dreams, and are a badass fighter, you know you’re utterly, absolutely screwed. Cinematically speaking of course. Such is the case for Samir (Nassim Lyes), the protagonist of Mayhem!, the latest violent offering from director Xavier Gens (The Divide, Gangs of London). Vicious and all kinds of mean, this offers up a dark, brutal slice of fantastic action for those so inclined.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

'The Bricklayer' (2024) Movie Review

aaron eckhart in the bricklayer
It makes a great deal of sense that Renny Harlin’s The Bricklayer was once earmarked as a Gerard Butler vehicle. Butler remains a producer, while Aaron Eckhart takes the role of former spy Steve Vail, and does a passable growly, grumble-voiced tough-guy mutter. Though admittedly, without Gerry’s sweaty macho charisma, the finished product loses some oomph. The plot is pure dumbed-down airport-novel espionage with little investment, stakes, or suspense, but thanks to a brisk pace and action that whips damn hard, this offers up an entertaining thriller that scratches a specific itch.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The 50 Most-Anticipated Movies Of 2024

a kid eating popcorn in a movie theater
Since we’ve already taken the time to look back on the year that was 2023, it only makes sense to now turn our gaze forward, toward the cinematic future. With that in mind, here are my top 50 most-anticipated movies of 2024.