Review: Danny Boyle, Ewan McGregor return for another hit in “T2 Trainspotting”

The 1996 cult classic "Trainspotting" was released 12 years prior to director Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire" and three years before star Ewan McGregor became a Jedi. Based on Irvine Welsh's acclaimed novel, its scuzzy, rough-around-the-edges aesthetic fit its energetic, seat-of-your-pants vibe. It holds up as a surreal, vibrant, sometimes horrifying look at youth, friendship and drug culture in 1990s Edinburgh.Trading raucous energy for a creak in the bones and reckless opt … [Read more...]

Review: “Beauty and the Beast” charms, never fully enchants

Disney's recent trend of remaking its animated classics has been successful because of the studio's ability to find new angles on beloved tales. "Cinderella" added a dose of compassion and was anchored by a fantastic performance by Lily James. "Jungle Book" found new notes of menace and adventure. "Pete's Dragon" brought soul to a silly, slapdash story. This approach has allowed these live-action remakes to stand proudly alongside, and sometimes above, their animated predecessors.But what do … [Read more...]

Review: The LEGO Batman Movie

See, Zach Snyder? Batman can be fun.Since  Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" plunged the Caped Crusader into morally dubious territory in the 1980s, Batman has been defined by a grim aesthetic. Tim Burton made him a tortured weirdo; Chris Nolan a grounded-but-haunted vigilante. "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" depicted him as an angry dudebro, branding his symbol into thugs' flesh and trying to kill Superman. He's become pretty one-note.Sure, Batman's always been a character t … [Read more...]

Review: Don’t Breathe

"Don't Breathe" is a late summer surprise, a superbly crafted genre piece thick with suspense and light on mercy. It's best seen in a packed theater, with a crowd that screams and laughs as director Fede Alvarez doesn't so much play them like a piano as beat them like a drum.Set in Detroit, the film is about three friends trying to fund their escape from the city through burglary. One is the son of an alarm company worker and they steal the codes to enter the homes, careful to only take p … [Read more...]

Review: “Finding Dory”

Five years after its release, "Cars 2" still instills dread in Pixar lovers. Never mind that the studio's other weakest films ("The Good Dinosaur" and "Brave") are both original works, and that the "Toy Story" followups have been lauded as some of the best sequels ever. What most people think of when they hear about returning to a beloved Pixar world is Mater the Tow Truck zipping through Japan and making pee-pee jokes.It's why the idea of a "Finding Nemo" sequel made me uneasy, especially … [Read more...]

“Popstar” brings the jokes, lacks the bite

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters about some comedies is whether they made you laugh.I can say upfront that "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" did, often very hard. The movie throws every gag it can think of at the wall, and a surprising number stick. Lonely Island's digital shorts were the funniest and most subversive thing about "Saturday Night Live" for several years, and "Popstar" generates laughs that are just as big, even if it lacks their bite and focus.For the u … [Read more...]

Review: “Weiner” is fascinating, frustrating look at scandal

At one point in the new documentary "Weiner," when disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner is asked a question by the crew filming his failed mayoral bid, he snaps that the point of a fly-on-the-wall documentary is that the fly doesn't talk.That moment sums up the success and limitations of "Weiner." The filmmakers have unprecedented access to one of the decade's most surreal scandals,  yet the subject's constant attempts to control his image keep him at a remove, even with the camera a … [Read more...]

Review — Captain America: Civil War

It might be hard to have a coherent conversation with me about "Captain America: Civil War."I say that not because the latest Marvel movie doesn't have depth, skill or resonance; it's the rare superhero movie with all of those things. Rather, I think calm discussion is going to be difficult because my typical comments to friends and family have gone along these lines:"It's so good! There's a scene where Ant-Man [SPOILER REDACTED] and then Spider-man [SPOILER REDACTED], and it's awesome! … [Read more...]

“God’s Not Dead 2,” Persecution Boogaloo

First, the good news: "God's Not Dead 2" is almost kind of good. It is, in fact, an easier sit than "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." The sequel to 2014's surprise faith-based hit tempers some of its predecessor's angrier tendencies and features characters who look more like people I've actually met.Unfortunately, the film is hampered by the same persecution complex, which robs its main plot of logic and clouds the more compelling stories at its fringes.The film's protagonist is G … [Read more...]

Review: “10 Cloverfield Lane”

There's very little that "10 Cloverfield Lane" has in common with "Cloverfield" on a narrative or aesthetic level. Matt Reeves' 2008 found footage movie followed a group of twenty-something New Yorkers in the wake of a monster attack. The new film, which producer J.J. Abrams has called a "blood relative," is a more classically filmed thriller, more interested in creating claustrophobic tension than showcasing large-scale destruction.Yet there is a thematic similarity to the films, which both … [Read more...]