Will Smith and Martin Lawrence Return for a Fourth Round in the Franchise and Continue to Deal with the Challenges of Aging in a Young Man's Game.


This Experimental Slasher Flick puts Audiences Literally In-Step with the Killer and Features Some of the Most Gruesome Deaths in the Genre's History.


Director George Miller Returns to the Wasteland with a Full-Fledged Epic that Balances the Titular Character's Story with the Bombastic Vehicular Mayhem.


This Latest Installment in the Planet of the Apes Franchise isn't Necessarily Bad, but is Probably more of a Forgotten Chapter in the Franchise Mythology.


Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt Kick-Off the Summer Movie Season with a Big, Fun, and Funny Action-Packed Adventure that Fully Delivers on its Promises.



Denzel Washington is sixty-eight years-old and will be sixty-nine this December. I can recall taking note of this fact when writing about the previous Equalizer films as Washington was about to turn sixty shortly after the first premiered. In the last decade Washington, arguably one of our greatest and most charismatic actors, has not only made his first trilogy of films in the Equalizer movies, but has also been busy making character studies with Dan Gilroy, directing August Wilson’s Fences, as well as starring in Shakespeare adaptations with a Coen brother while sprinkling in a few other excursions like Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven re-make and John Lee Hancock’s The Little Things

While eight films in nine years may not seem like the actor is slowing down this most recent decade's worth of work compared to the previous mark some notable shifts in Washington's frame of mind. From 2003 to 2013 Denzel starred in a total of thirteen films, nine of which were first categorized as action movies. Not only was Washington more active in general, but he was choosing more physically demanding projects and while it’s obvious why the actor would want to slow down the older he gets this Equalizer franchise has shown us Denzel can still pull it off when he wants. This all to say, The Equalizer 3 is shockingly slow in its pacing and even when the action ramps up, it is limited. Whether this is to give Washington’s Robert McCall a break as well, because Fuqua wanted a steadier final act for his hero, or simply so that the (somewhat anticlimactic) payoff felt more rewarding after a long stretch of quiet, I’m not sure. Either way, this “choice” doesn’t do so much for the quality of the film as this third and final installment is again a rather by-the-numbers genre picture elevated only by having an actor of Washington’s caliber at the center to carry it.


Commercials are meant to convince and are often made to be compelling in order to do so. I've been emotionally affected by plenty of life insurance ads over the years, but Gran Turismo takes things to another level in what is essentially a two hour and fifteen-minute endorsement of the Sony, PlayStation, Nissan, and Gran Turismo brand as a whole. To dismiss this as little more than an advertisement would be a mistake though as Gran Turismo is arguably the way in which Hollywood should be operating and approaching tentpole films in 2023. Utilizing the brand as an excuse to hire interesting directors such as Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium, Chappie) who can handle the logistics of these large productions while adding his unique stamp and essentially earmarking a genre movie around said brand is a win/win situation. In this capacity, not only do all of these companies get to slap their names all over everything in justifiable ways, but the creatives are given license to do things like take a shot at making their own sports movie that, while still adhering to the hallmarks of the genre, is not only well-executed, but more importantly - both convincing and compelling. 

And Gran Turismo is very well-executed. The visual prowess and scale of the film not only sell the stakes and intensity of the sport in question, but also on Blomkamp's skill as a director in what is easily his best film since his 2009 debut. Josha Stradowski is immediately set-up as the villain and main adversary of the piece as the former employer to David Harbour's once promising racer, Jack Salter. Orlando Bloom is a Nissan marketing guy who comes up with the scheme to pull in the best simulator racers to see if they can compete in real-world scenarios. Bloom's character hires Salter as the gamer's trainer which introduces us to Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) a dedicated GT player who has a complicated relationship with his father (Djimon Hounsou) regarding his passions. All of these elements putting in play the underdog arc, the mentor/student relationship that slowly builds to an unbreakable bond, the father/son reconciliation, and hell - they even throw in a romantic interest (Maeve Courtier-Lilley) for good measure.


A true blue (literally) origin story that is so aware of its own expectations and limits they actually work the “it’s the journey, not the destination” stuff into the movie itself. If what’s important is that we’re on this journey together though, Blue Beetle at least knows how to lather the charm on top of its otherwise paint-by-numbers story. Having the ability to separate itself from the mess that is the current DCU doesn’t hurt either, but it is how director Angel Manuel Soto (Charm City Kings) separates his film stylistically - whether indicative of James Gunn’s universe or not - combined with the appeal of the core family unit that makes this well-worn tale worth investing in. 

To this end, Xolo Maridueña makes it easy for the audience to root for him as not only does he offer the aforementioned inherent charm, but he also plays Jaime Reyes as an earnest, bumbling goof. While I know nothing of the history of the Blue Beetle comics, the film positions Reyes as someone who doesn’t typically get the win and even when he does, it’s not pretty. This is seemingly meant to be symptomatic of the treatment of Latinos both in the realm of comic book movies as well as culturally, but while Maridueña and his co-stars - including Belissa Escobedo, George Lopez, and Damián Alcázar - bring a fun dynamic to the proceedings with the one fresh trait of the film being that it integrates Jaime's family into the world-saving plot it does this at the expense of fleshing out its titular hero.


In 2015 I took my one and only trip to the Toronto International Film Festival. At the festival I had my first encounter with a Ben Wheatley film. The guy was coming off a couple well-reviewed indie features I hadn't seen, but was premiering his Tom Hiddleston-fronted High-Rise at the festival that year. I remember coming out of that experience bored and thinking the film felt like something made with ideas loftier than its writer could convey and for an audience where such allegories were overlooked anyway. It wanted to be something it wasn't, in short, but come to find out eight years and five Ben Wheatley films later that it wanted to be something it couldn't; at least not with Wheatley at the helm. I don't like to straight dump on people or wholly place the shortcomings of a film on the shoulders of one person, but there was no reason to believe Meg 2: The Trench was going to be good, especially with Wheatley directing. 

In all honestly, Meg 2 isn't as bad as I feared and certainly isn't as bad as the tomatometer would lead you to believe, but it isn't the kind of so bad it's good or fun either. Opening with a prehistoric prologue followed by a needle drop of Queen and Bowie's "Under Pressure" I thought we might be headed in the right direction, but while we're immediately given shark bites and Jason Statham action the three man screenplay then slows to plot out the plot no one really cares about. Li Bingbing's character is immediately noted as having died two years ago, her daughter (Shuya Sophia Cai) is now being co-parented by Statham's Jonas and the girl's Uncle (Jing Wu) who is some type of scientist himself working for an environmental corporation that may or may not be evil (definitely is) that keeps a baby meg in an enclosed area for "research purposes".


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
is something we, especially myself and my millennial brethren, have seen done multiple times before, but this time it’s possibly been done the best we've ever seen it. Having been born three years after the first TMNT comics were released and the same year the more brightly-colored animated series debuted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a part of my life my entire life and hold a special place in my own sewer of nostalgia. The nineties movies (yes, even the third one) are a cornerstone of my childhood and yet, Mutant Mayhem might just surpass them on the sheer charisma of the cast and genuine camaraderie of our heroes. Not that those live-action features didn't have well-defined characters with interesting arcs, but they couldn't help but to feel a little stiff whereas here things are as natural and effortless as could be if not more so given we're talking about "turtle mutant karate teens". 

Effortless is maybe the key word here as everything in this latest animated incarnation - from the music to the execution of the age-old ideas and of course the animation style itself - feels effortlessly cool and surprisingly fresh. Director Jeff Rowe (The Mitchells vs the Machines) seemingly utilizes every tool at his disposal to emphasize the unrefined quality of our heroes and push that mentality to the forefront of the film. The style of animation will undoubtedly be compared to the Spider-Verse films, but in all honesty they each convey a different energy as Mutant Mayhem’s “rough around the edges” approach simultaneously lends the tone a bit more of an edge while still maintaining a child-like wonder as the turtles long to be part of a world that fears them. We can see the sketch marks, the incomplete outlines, and not only this, but the way the city, the sewers, as well as the people and/or mutants are depicted is far more raw - almost ugly - in a way we haven’t seen before. It’s not that the film itself is revolutionary, but what does feel so is how unconventional and hip they've managed to make a piece of IP and furthermore, the coming-of-age story it’s telling. Like, another TMNT movie could have very well felt played out and tired, but instead this feels very much akin to a "cool kid club" you'll want to be in on. A real statement on how much execution truly elevates.