The Darkest Minds

C+ | PG-13 |
With basic-cable production values and an exceedingly generic story, "The Darkest Minds" is the latest teenage dystopian fantasy film based on a trilogy of young adult novels in which a girl learns sh...

Christopher Robin

C | PG |
Disney's "Christopher Robin" is not a biography of Christopher Robin Milne, the boy featured in his father A.A.'s "Winnie-the-Pooh" books. There was a movie last year, "Goodbye, Christopher Robin," th...

The Spy Who Dumped Me

C+ | R |
The two main characters in "The Spy Who Dumped Me" are ordinary women who get caught up in international espionage and turn out to be -- what are the odds? -- pretty good at it. They shoot villains wi...

Mission: Impossible — Fallout

B+ | PG-13 |
Tom Cruise has been starring in "Mission: Impossible" movies for 22 years, and his character, un-killable super-spy Ethan Hunt, has been on the job for about the same length of time. Hunt isn't an arc...

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

B- | PG |
"Teen Titans Go! To the Movies," the very meta big-screen adaptation of the Cartoon Network series "Teen Titans Go!," is about a quintet of adolescent superheroes seeking to earn the same respect thei...

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

B- | PG-13 |
"Mamma Mia!" was a badly written headache based on a badly written live musical, adapted for the screen by the same people who had staged it on Broadway, who leaned on the show's built-in fanbase like...

The Equalizer 2

B | R |
At the end of "The Equalizer" (2014), you probably thought everything that needed equalizing had been taken care of. Wrong, dummy! "The Equalizer 2" has non-equalized things up the wazoo, just waiting...

Unfriended: Dark Web

C+ | PG-13 |
"Unfriended: Dark Web" has no connection to 2015's "Unfriended" except that they adhere to the same format: Both unfold in real time entirely on someone's computer screen via their Skype sessions, Fac...

Blindspotting

B+ | R |
“Blindspotting” is an explosive racial comedy, a love letter to Oakland, and a jumpstart to the movie career of its star, Daveed Diggs, who co-wrote the screenplay with co-star Rafael Casal. Directed ...

Skyscraper

C | PG-13 |
How you gonna hire one-legged Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to insect the safety features of your spectacular new Hong Kong high-rise, then let bad guys set the building on fire and threaten The Rock's fa...

The Night Eats the World (French)

B+ | Not-Rated |
••• "The Night Eats the World" ("La nuit a dévoré le monde") has a different mood from most zombie films, which proves to be refreshing. It's less mayhem-oriented, quieter, more drama than horror (th...

Sorry to Bother You

B | R |
It would seem rapper and activist Boots Riley watched a few Michel Gondry movies ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Be Kind Rewind," etc.) and decided to make a whimsical, alternate-reality sa...

Ant-Man and the Wasp

B | PG-13 |
As those still weeping over "Avengers: Infinity War" will tell you between muffled sobs, there's big doin's afoot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But none of that matters in "Ant-Man and the Wasp," ...

The First Purge

C+ | R |
The question we had when "The Purge" came out in 2013 was: Wait, how does this work? In this near-future version of America, there's a 12-hour period set aside each year during which all crime is lega...

Uncle Drew

C | PG-13 |
"Uncle Drew," a basketball comedy directed by Charles Stone III ("Drumline," "Mr. 3000"), ought to be about the title character, a septuagenarian who was the best street-ball player in New York in 196...

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

D+ | R |
In "Sicario: Day of the Soldado," the grim, unpleasant sequel to the 2015 film that grappled with the morality of the drug war, there is no more grappling. What was once an ethical quagmire is now a h...

The Catcher Was a Spy

C | R |
"The Catcher Was a Spy" begins with onscreen titles telling us that after the Nazis split the atom and put Dr. Heisenberg on the job of developing a bomb, the U.S. sent a Jewish baseball player-turned...

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

C- | PG-13 |
Bad news, everyone: dinosaurs are boring now. People were so preoccupied with whether they could make a fifth "Jurassic Park" movie, they didn't stop to think if they should. "Jurassic World: Fallen K...

Incredibles 2

B- | PG |
When "The Incredibles" came out, in November 2004, it was Pixar's sixth movie and only about the ninth superhero movie in the modern era (which archeologists agree started with "X-Men" in 2000). Focus...

Tag

C+ | R |
"Tag" turns an outrageous-yet-true story into one that's just outrageous, with details that couldn't possibly be true. Based on a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, it's about five men in their late 30...

SuperFly

B- | R |
"SuperFly," a modern-day remake of the 1972 blaxploitation classic -- about a successful cocaine dealer of color who wants to get out of the business -- is a straight crime drama, made by a music vide...

Hereditary

A | R |
Would you like to watch Toni Collette have a nervous breakdown for two hours? "Hereditary" is many things -- a haunting story about a disintegrating family, a masterfully directed nightmare by first-t...

Hearts Beat Loud

B+ | PG-13 |
With a hint of wistfulness to give it some weight, "Hearts Beat Loud" is a happy, sunshiny movie about saying goodbye, letting go, and collaborating with loved ones to make sick beats. It stars Nick O...

Ocean’s Eight

B | PG-13 |
Remember how Danny Ocean needed 10 friends (and then 11, and then 12) to pull off his heists? In "Ocean's Eight," his sister, Debbie (Sandra Bullock), only needs six collaborators (plus a seventh, eve...

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (documentary)

B+ | PG-13 |
I didn't grow up with "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" (or "Sesame Street," for that matter). We didn't have cable yet when I was that age, and our TV antenna didn't pick up the local PBS affiliate. Yet ...

Hotel Artemis

B- | R |
The "John Wick" movies have a hotel, The Continental, that's exclusively for assassins, where a code of conduct (e.g., no "working" on the premises) is strictly enforced. So fascinating is the society...

Adrift

C | PG-13 |
Remember the Robert Redford movie "All Is Lost," where he was stranded at sea? "Adrift," with teen-romance veterans Shailene Woodley ("The Fault in Our Stars") and Sam Claflin ("Me Before You") lost i...

Action Point

C+ | R |
If the absence of Johnny Knoxville's "Jackass" has left a concussion-shaped hole in your life, it may be partially filled by "Action Point," a juvenile comedy with Knoxville as the owner of a rickety ...

The Texture of Falling

D | Not-Rated |
At the risk of making it sound more interesting than it is, "The Texture of Falling" is a lurid, Portland-set meta-drama about a timid filmmaker named Louisa (Julie Webb) who starts dating a dull marr...

Upgrade

B+ | R |
"Upgrade" is an offbeat futuristic techno-thriller in the tradition of B-movies about scientists tampering in God's domain, made with enthusiasm (by "Saw" and "Insidious" creator Leigh Whannell) from ...

American Animals

B | R |
"This is not based on a true story," say the onscreen titles at the beginning of "American Animals." "This is a true story." A bold assertion, but writer-director Bart Layton, whose previous film was ...

Solo: A Star Wars Story

B- | PG-13 |
While I've always liked the original "Star Wars" trilogy, I don't have the depth of knowledge (i.e., memorization) that some do, so there are probably references in the Han Solo prequel, "Solo: A Star...

Kicking and Screening

A few names have been changed in this story, including those of the publicity firms. Legalities aren't the issue. Looking through it, there's nothing I wouldn't say to the relevant parties' faces or f...

Deadpool 2

B | R |
What distinguishes Deadpool from most other superheroes is that he swears, kills people, and breaks the fourth wall. That is also, of course, what distinguished the first "Deadpool" film from its doze...

On Chesil Beach

B | R |
Ian McEwan's novel "On Chesil Beach" and the movie based on it (which he also wrote) tell a story set in 1962 England that could only work as a period piece, for it is based on the premise that societ...

Book Club

D+ | PG-13 |
The imaginatively titled "Book Club," about four women in their late 60s whose love lives are rekindled by reading the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy, sounds like an extended advertisement for the boo...

Life of the Party

B+ | PG-13 |
You'll think you've seen "Life of the Party" before, or at least something very much like it: A dowdy, newly divorced mom goes back to college to finish her degree -- and it's the same college her dau...

Revenge

B | R |
••• The rape-revenge sub-genre has many entries, and everything about "Revenge" (including the title) sounds derivative until you get to the credits. How many movies on this topic were written and di...

Breaking In

C+ | PG-13 |
This week's "good enough, I guess, if you're not too picky" home-invasion thriller is "Breaking In," which offers the innovative twist of the bad guys getting inside and holding the kids captive while...

RBG (documentary)

B+ | PG |
Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg started to become a pop-culture icon a few years ago, when the court shifted rightward and she found herself writing more dissents -- scathing ones, often, on...

Bad Samaritan

C+ | R |
There are two premises in "Bad Samaritan," one that drives the plot and one that explains the villain's motives. They are middling premises, better than some you've heard, less creative than others. T...

Overboard

C | PG-13 |
Any remake of the 1987 Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell "romantic" "comedy" "Overboard" would have to reverse the genders. A single father of three rowdy boys tricking a rich, mean amnesiac woman into believi...

Tully

B+ | R |
Diablo Cody's screenwriting career started with a pregnant teenager named Juno. She returns to the subject of maternity with "Tully," but there's a crucial difference this time: Cody has three kids of...

Let the Sunshine In (French)

B | Not-Rated |
"Let the Sunshine In," the latest film by French auteur Claire Denis ("Beau Travail," "35 Shots of Rum"), is made for two groups of people: fans of Claire Denis's elliptical, even baffling style; and ...

Avengers: Infinity War

B- | PG-13 |
You can go crazy trying to understand the thinking of people who make and sell Hollywood blockbusters, but what they've done with "Avengers: Infinity War" is fascinating. It was filmed concurrently wi...

Super Troopers 2

B- | R |
Experience has taught us not to get our hopes up about long-awaited sequels, especially sequels to films whose charms were obscure or quirky to begin with. (It's hard enough to catch regular lightning...

I Feel Pretty

C | PG-13 |
There are some good ideas and thoughtful insights buried in the very messy "I Feel Pretty," a comedy about female self-image that is unsure of its own identity. Directed by screenwriters Abby Kohn and...

Traffik

C- | R |
You can tell "Traffik" is a serious movie about scary things because it's spelled with a "k." "Traffic," who cares? But "traffik"?? Watch out! Written and directed by Deon Taylor ("Meet the Blacks"), ...

Truth or Dare

C | PG-13 |
It's laudable to convert harmless childhood games into horror premises, but "Truth or Dare" does it with such rote blandness that the movie is actually less suspenseful than a real game of truth or da...

Rampage

C+ | PG-13 |
"Rampage" is one of the better video-game-based movies, a low bar that it clears only by forsaking the entire premise of the game. The mid-80s arcade hit had one objective: with a giant gorilla, giant...

Beirut

B | R |
Few actors are better suited to play a diplomat than Jon Hamm, and the erstwhile Don Draper brings his gregarious A-game to "Beirut," a compelling espionage flick directed by Brad Anderson ("The Machi...

Blockers

B | R |
It is a time-honored tradition that teens in movies make pacts with one another to lose their virginity, but seldom are those teens female girls of the young lady gender! That makes "Blockers" differe...

Chappaquiddick

B- | PG-13 |
Based on the infamous 1969 incident in which a young woman drowned after a probably-drunk Sen. Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge into a pond, "Chappaquiddick" is unusual for a docudrama in that i...

A Quiet Place

B+ | PG-13 |
As a proponent of the "shut up and watch the movie" school of thought, I have a special fondness for films that actively encourage silence. The tense and thrilling "A Quiet Place" does it by putting i...

You Were Never Really Here

B+ | R |
Some movies provide so much vivid detail about a character that you could practically write a biography. Lynne Ramsay's mesmerizing "You Were Never Really Here" (based on Jonathan Ames' novel) is a di...

Movie BS #400: ‘Ready Player One,’ ‘Isle of Dogs,’ ‘7 Days in Entebbe’

Not only is this Ep. 400, it's also the eighth anniversary of Ep. 1! The only effect that my new not-going-to-press-screenings status will have on Movie B.S. is that we moved the show to Mondays inste...

Ready Player One

C | PG-13 |
"Ready Player One" is set in a future where people spend most of their time in a virtual-reality world called OASIS that allows them to play games and have adventures in whatever fictional settings an...

Seeing movies like a civilian again

I'm no longer going to press screenings. I'll tell you the whole story later (of course there's a story) , but first let me explain how this changes things vis-a-vis my reviewing movies: Hardly at ...

Ismael’s Ghosts (French)

B- | R |
There are no literal hauntings in "Ismael's Ghosts," a wry, lyrical, but often plodding drama from director Arnaud Desplechin ("A Christmas Tale"), only metaphorical ones. Freewheeling French filmmake...

Pacific Rim Uprising

C | PG-13 |
You remember, of course, how a breach at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean produced a gateway through which extra-dimensional Godzillas entered our universe and wrecked our cities, and the only way to s...

Sherlock Gnomes

C+ | PG |
You know what happens when you come up with the title first and then try to build a movie around it? You get uninspired nonsense like "Sherlock Gnomes," a sequel to "Gnomeo & Juliet," which I didn...

Unsane

B- | R |
Steven Soderbergh's latest film, the shrewd, exasperating psychological thriller "Unsane," is one of his experimental projects, shot entirely on an iPhone. It looks awful -- harsh, garish, cheap, like...

7 Days in Entebbe

C | PG-13 |
Hijacking an airplane was trendy in the 1970s, and evidently not very hard. The incident recreated in "7 Days in Entebbe," from 1976, was at least the 40th hijacking of the decade, perpetrated by two ...

Love, Simon

B | PG-13 |
"Love, Simon" is the first film about a gay teenager's coming out ever distributed in wide release by a major studio. We've seen mainstream films with queer youth as supporting characters, and numerou...

Tomb Raider

C+ | PG-13 |
Say what you will about the new "Tomb Raider," it shows a tomb being raided less than 20 minutes after it starts. It's actually a false tomb with a secret room hidden under it, and it's not raided so ...

I Can Only Imagine

B- | PG |
First recorded in 1999, MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine" is the best-selling, most-played contemporary Christian song since the invention of the radio, written by a Texan named Bart Millard who fell int...

A Wrinkle in Time

C | PG |
Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time," first published in 1962, is one of the most beloved young adult novels not to have already been turned into a movie (except for a 2003 TV version that nobody, ...

The Death of Stalin

A- | R |
Armando Iannucci has written and directed two films in his career, and they’re both among the best political comedies ever made. First there was "In the Loop," an extension of his British TV series "T...

Thoroughbreds

B+ | R |
The well-bred teenagers in the audacious dark comedy "Thoroughbreds" are Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke), affluent Connecticut girls who used to be friends, drifted apart a few years ...

The Hurricane Heist

B- | PG-13 |
The dream of the '90s is alive in "The Hurricane Heist," a skillfully made formula flick that in a previous era would have starred someone named Skeet or Keanu as the ordinary joe who helps a federal ...

The Strangers: Prey at Night

C | R |
The home invasion thriller, once a sparsely populated sub-genre, has proliferated in the 21st century, perhaps reflecting our growing fear (note the simultaneous rise of the cyber-thriller) that there...

Mohawk

B- | Not-Rated |
••• The Civil War gets all the attention when it comes to 19th-century American conflicts, but what about the War of 1812? "Mohawk," a contemplative bloodbath by Ted Geoghegan ("We Are Still Here"), ...

Death Wish

C | R |
The way the "Death Wish" remake starts, you think it's going to be exactly what you feared/hoped it would be. We're in Chicago (not New York this time), hearing a flurry of news reports about gun viol...

Red Sparrow

C | R |
Eventually, the cold and pitiless "Red Sparrow" is about a young Russian woman who becomes a spy and gets tangled up with a CIA operative running a counter-mission. It takes a while to get there, thou...

Every Day

B- | PG-13 |
Like a lot of fantasy romance premises, the one in "Every Day" is creepy if you think about it, so don't. This affable adaptation of David Levithan's young adult novel, directed by Michael Sucsy ("The...

Game Night

B+ | R |
The very funny "Game Night" belongs to the comedy sub-genre of People Think They're Pretending But It's Actually Real, a class that includes such fine entries as "Three Amigos," "Galaxy Quest" and "A ...

Annihilation

B+ | R |
What we know at the beginning of "Annihilation" is that a lighthouse was struck by a projectile that fell from the sky (seldom a good omen) and that Natalie Portman, in hospital clothes, is being inte...

Samson

D+ | PG-13 |
"Samson" is a rather enjoyably bad (but still bad) Old Testament adaptation starring beefy Neanderthal Taylor James as the long-haired Israelite strongman who murders numerous Philistines with God's a...

Early Man

B- | PG |
Perhaps you get excited when you hear that Nick Park, creator of the beloved "Wallace & Gromit" movies (plus "Chicken Run"!), has directed and co-written a new claymation film about cavemen, calle...

Black Panther

B | PG-13 |
"Black Panther" is a bold entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not (just) because there are hardly any white people in it but because there's almost nothing connecting it to the other films. Apart ...

Fifty Shades Freed

D | R |
"Fifty Shades Freed" (the title is nonsense) is the story of an entitled snob who marries a snob-in-training who enjoys being treated like garbage, apparently. None of their behavior, separately or to...

The 15:17 to Paris

C | PG-13 |
If you have been exposed to more than a second of advertising for "The 15:17 to Paris," Clint Eastwood's dramatization of the 2015 terrorist attack thwarted by three Americans, you are aware that the ...

Peter Rabbit

B- | PG |
Nobody involved with "Peter Rabbit" seems to have been taking it very seriously, which has pros and cons. On the one hand, it's cheeky and vaguely self-aware, turning the vegetable-thieving rabbit (vo...

Movie BS #393: ‘Hostiles,’ ’12 Strong,’ ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’

We also talk about "The Howling" (1981), which we'd never seen before. 0:00 - Hello, we're back from Sundance but here's a little more about Sundance, plus a Dogcat cameo 4:10 - Not much happening...

Winchester

C+ | PG-13 |
The Winchester Mystery House is a real place in San Jose, Calif., built in 1883 and expanded upon by its owner, Sarah Winchester, who married into the rifle-making family and inherited much of its wea...

My 2018 Sundance Film Festival Diary

MOVIES: "American Animals" "Arizona" "Assassination Nation" "Beast" "Blindspotting" "Clara's Ghost" "An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn" "The Guilty" "The Happy Prince" "Hereditary" "Juliet,...

The Death Cure

B- | PG-13 |
The "Maze Runner" trilogy has turned out to be a pleasant surprise among adaptations of post-apocalyptic book series aimed at young adults (of which there are astonishingly many) (books, I mean, not y...

12 Strong

B- | R |
It's going to take a few more years, but someday the movies about 9/11 and its aftermath will outnumber the movies about World War II (which at least had the decency to END, you know?). "12 Strong," b...

Forever My Girl

C | PG |
"Forever My Girl" is too innocuous to be "bad," but it certainly belongs to the category of mediocre, wholesome, vaguely Christian movies with country soundtracks that they're hoping people will watch...

Den of Thieves

C+ | R |
Christian Gudegast, writer of "A Man Apart" (2003) and "London Has Fallen" (2016), makes his directorial debut with "Den of Thieves," and it's everything he's been building toward as a creator of gene...

Mom and Dad

B- | R |
••• Brian Taylor, who co-directed the "Crank" movies, "Gamer," and "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" with fellow adrenaline junkie Mark Neveldine, strikes out on his own with "Mom and Dad" demonstra...

Proud Mary

C+ | R |
"Proud Mary," about Boston crime families battling each other, is a film at war with itself. One faction really wants it to be a throwback to '70s blaxploitation, with Taraji P. Henson as a gun-slingi...

Paddington 2

B+ | PG |
If you missed "Paddington" three years ago, you missed one of the most thoroughly delightful children's movies in recent memory, about an anthropomorphic Peruvian bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who come...

The Commuter

B- | PG-13 |
If it's January, Liam Neeson must be punching people (or wolves). In "The Commuter," directed by regular Neeson wrangler Jaume Collet-Serra ("Non-Stop," "Run All Night"), the people who need punching ...

Insidious: The Last Key

B- | PG-13 |
First of all, the number of sequels with "Last" or "Final" in the title that have actually turned out to be the last one is vanishingly small, so don't take "Insidious: The Last Key" at its word. Fran...

2017 Films: Miscellaneous Data

Based on my own research. Additions and corrections welcome (@ me), will update accordingly.   Total wide releases (600+ theaters): 155 Sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, and franchises:...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2017

For the 14th year in a row I kept track of what I watched and read and report it now to you, if you're interested. If you're not interested, you can skip this. I'll never know! MOVIES I watched 339 ...

Patreon 2017: The Reckoning

We've just finished the second full year of my Patreon campaign, wherein patrons pay $1 (or more) per month and I review as many films as I can. With gratitude for everyone who has contributed, I offe...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2017

So. 2017. How about that? This was the year that I started switching to saying "twenty-seventeen" instead of "two thousand seventeen." I expect to be fully converted to the "twenty-" system by the end...

Everything I Wrote in 2017

With the birth of Crooked Marquee, where for some reason I am the editor, this year I scaled back my writing for other sites and concentrated on that one and this one (the one you're reading now, Eric...