Fantastic Four is a fantastic flop

Review of Fantastic Four, Directed by  Josh TrankFantastic Four will go down in infamy with The Green Lantern and Ben Affleck’s Daredevil as a great big superhero fail. It’s too campy to be taken seriously, and not campy enough to be so-bad-it’s-good. Maybe if I were still in Jr. High I’d enjoy lines like “It’s clobbering time” and eat up spoon-fed truisms about how heroes are only strong enough when they stand together. Maybe, but I’m not. Given the current flourishing of the superhero genre … [Read more...]

Terminator Genisys Promises New Beginnings

Review of Terminator Genisys, Directed by Alan TaylorThe year is 2029. John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against the machines, launches a final assault against Skynet and its time machine. Although Skynet is destroyed, the machines successfully send a T-800 back to 1984 to kill John’s mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). To protect her, Kyle Reese is also sent back. Thus begins the fifth installment of the Terminator series. This latest film is quirky with its h … [Read more...]

Interstellar rages against the dying of the light

Review of Interstellar, Directed by Christopher NolanIn true Christopher Nolan fashion, Interstellar delivers a story unlike anything we have ever heard. It follows certain cinematic tropes, of course, finding a comfortable place in the sci-fi genre, but even after last year’s outer-space hit Gravity, and even given the cultural prevalence of Star Wars and Star Trek, Interstellar charts its own course. It is the closest thing our generation will have to a 2001: A Space Odyssey.The film a … [Read more...]

The Giver keeps on giving

Review of The Giver, Directed by Phillip NoyceAs a book, The Giver has been remarkably generous. A Newbery Medal winner that has sold 10 million copies, the book has given millions of children their first chance to interact with questions that have plagued human beings for centuries: Which is more valuable: freedom or security? Should human life ever be discarded? What is love?Now, movie-goers will get to receive the magic of The Giver. Despite some changes, the movie is faithful to the … [Read more...]

Earth to Echo Doesn’t Carry Far

Review of Earth to Echo, Directed by David GreenCute, but not enough to overcome its one-dimensional story, Earth to Echo is a poorly executed homage to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The tale has been told before: young friends discovering an alien lifeform only to be caught up in a rescue mission to send it back to its interstellar home, all the while facing evil adults trying to stop them. The young friends are Tuck, Alex, and Munch who spend their last night together following a signal on their … [Read more...]

Ignore The Signal, It Means Nothing

Review of The Signal, Directed by William Eubank A cross between District 9, The Blair Witch Project, and X-Files, this new sci-fi thriller tries and fails to create something inventive. Nic Eastman (Brenton Thewaites), Jonah Breck (Beau Knapp), and Haley Peterson (Olivia Cooke) are three friends in the long tradition of trios--Nic and Haley are intimate while Jonah plays the lovable third wheel. The three MIT students are taking a road trip to drop Haley off in California for what appears … [Read more...]

Child-Like Wonder at E.T.

E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial, directed by Steven SpielbergThe only thing better than watching E.T. when you are five years old is watching it with a five-year-old. Rewatching Steven Spielberg’s tale of a gentle alien trying to get back home with the help of a fatherless boy and his friends--some three decades after I had last seen it, this time with my kids--was movie magic.Here is a rough transcript of my son’s running commentary.“What’s this movie? Is that a spaceship? Is this Star War … [Read more...]

Blade Runner’s Vision of Hell

Blade Runner: The Final Cut, directed by Ridley ScottWhat is hell like? The Bible gives us images of unquenchable fire and a smoke that goes up forever. But C.S. Lewis opted for a different metaphor in The Great Divorce: a drab town where it is always dark and mostly empty. Hell, in Lewis’ depiction, is a failed city: a place of crowded loneliness and frustrated aspirations.I thought of Lewis’ hell as I rewatched Ridley Scott’s 1981 dystopian masterpiece, Blade Runner. The film takes plac … [Read more...]

Edge of Tomorrow both numbs and entertains

Edge of Tomorrow, directed by Doug LimanEdge of Tomorrow is one of those films that does not have a single original element but manages to combines all of its tropes in a way that is nonetheless entertaining. In this case, the pieces are Groundhog Day (repeating day), Ender’s Game (humans vs. aliens), and the Halo video games (supersuits and cool weapons). At the center of this coward-to-manhood tale stand proven action star Tom Cruise and the oddly-cast but compelling Emily B … [Read more...]

Best X Ever

X-Men: Days of Future Past, directed by Bryan SingerI imagine the birth of X:Men: Days of Future Past was the result of blatantly cynical studio scheming. Some years ago a bunch of studio executives at Fox probably held a secret huddle to plot the future of the X-Men franchise. The trilogy--including the well-received X-Men (2000) and X2 (2003), and the widely-reviled X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) had been successful, though not spectacularly so, grossing $1.2 billion over three movies. … [Read more...]