Denis Villeneuve's Grand and Gorgeous Epic is as Insightful about Sincerity and Strategy as it is Engaging on the Broad Levels of a Big-Budget Studio Blockbuster.


Matthew Vaughn has Officially become a Director of Diminishing Returns with this Overstuffed and Laughably Corny Slog of a Spy Caper.


This Trip back to North Shore High Justifies itself by still being Sharp in its Observations of Vacuousness.


Writer/Director Cord Jefferson’s Feature Debut Splits the Difference Between Searing Satire and Emotional Family Drama Coming out a Winner in Both Respects.


Emma Stone is Daring and Mark Ruffalo is Hilarious in this Surreal Fever Dream of Philosophy and Attempting to Understand our Nature through Unorthodox Methods.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the most confounded I’ve been by a movie in some time. I don’t know how to process it completely. As a fan of writer/director James Gunn, his first film, and a massive fan of GotG Vol. 2 (as in it’s absolutely the best non-Avengers film in the MCU) I had high hopes for the gang’s swan song. Unfortunately, this final time out with this configuration of the Guardians - at least upon initial viewing - is an incoherent, repetitive, sensory overload so grating that any attempt at emotional resonance is rendered moot. 

From the minute Will Poulter’s underdeveloped and underutilized Adam Warlock arrives to decimate the titular team it seems clear Gunn took his screenplay out of the oven a few drafts early. The character of Warlock (who was heralded as a Christ-like figure in the second film) is presented as a clown mere minutes after almost annihilating the Guardians with little to no effort. The contrast could work, sure, but it's not developed in any recognizable fashion as Gunn was clearly more interested in the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), a mad scientist of a man whose abusive yet paternal tendencies certainly fit the writer/director’s running themes in these movies, yet the High Evolutionary's arc feels as stock as the template Gunn uses to close out his trilogy. Iwuji also likes to yell. A lot. 

When I say template, I'm of course referring to the one where a main character becomes incapacitated, and the movie then spends the rest of its runtime sending his friends who desire to save them on countless missions to locate countless McGuffins required to in fact save him. I realize many a genre flick rely on these kinds of plot devices as a way of propping up their bigger thematic ideas through easily accessible checkpoints, but Gunn feels above this and that he chose to go out leaning on such a structure would only seem to suggest that the script and, as a result, everything afterward was not necessarily ill-conceived, but more feeble in the way James Gunn movies are typically bold and affecting. 


Crackling with an uncontrollable energy from the get-go, Matt Johnson’s embellished (and that’s being kind, it seems) docu-drama telling the origins of the BlackBerry is the latest in a line of movies this year where what was once product placement is now the whole point. We all know the eventual products these movies center around will become a success at one point or another and in different capacities, but BlackBerry isn’t so much about how the product came to be or even the impact of it, but rather the impact on the people behind its creation, success, and downfall and how not only the world, but those lives were forever changed because of it. 

Johnson and co-screenwriter Matthew Miller know audiences don’t necessarily care about the thought process that birthed the smartphone and they correctly assume audiences understand the impact it has had negating any need to try and encapsulate the seismic cultural shift that occurred because of this invention spearheaded by Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) and Doug Frigan (Johnson). Instead, the film then becomes about the corruption of dreamers by the ability to obtain the dream. In the film, Glenn Howerton’s raging, narcissistic, intelligent, but insane and insanely arrogant Jim Ballsillie (pronounce that as you think it should be, not is, for best results) is brought in to conduct the business portion of the equation that engineers like Lazaridis and Frigan were fumbling. Through this partnership we see so many dimensions of what can be gained from aggression as well as what wounds are bore because of it; what heights can be reached from ambition as well as what heights might be missed if there is no drive to accompany it.