Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Every critic has their blind spots. For yours truly, it’s action science-fiction. Just in the last decade, the subgenre has given birth to heart-pumping masterpieces like District 9, Inception, and Gravity and they’re the films I most consistently look forward to. (Two of my most anticipated movies this year, point in fact, were Valerian and the City of the Thousand Planets and Blade Runner 2049.)
As a result of loving the sub-genre so much, I can sometimes be dazzled into distraction in a way other genres aren’t able to. The only movies I generally lower my review ratings for tend to be action sci-fi, like Star Trek Into Darkness and Elysium, both of which dropped half a star between my initial reviews and second viewings.
All of which is to say I, like most in 2015, was a little too impressed by The Force Awakens. It’s a really good movie, don’t get me wrong. But I initially gave it 4½ stars and placed it on my Best Movies of 2015 list — a little undeservingly, I’ve come to see, as my rating for the seventh Star Wars entry has settled to an even 4 stars out of 5.
Photo: A24/Elevation Pictures
Wunderkind Steven Spielberg just released The BFG in theatres two weeks ago and filming is only a week underway on his next project, Ready Player One, but that isn’t stopping the director from planning the movie after the movie after. Continue reading
Photo: Tristan Cassel
After actress Rose McGowan publicly called out 20th Century Fox last week for X-Men: Apocalypse billboards depicting Jennifer Lawrence’s character being strangled, the studio has apologized for the ads and is in the process of removing them. Continue reading
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox
“At least we can all agree the third one is always the worst.”
So says a character in X-Men: Apocalypse, the latest actioner using mutants to hold a mirror up to contemporary society’s prejudices. It’s a dig at X-Men: The Last Stand, the third in Fox’s original trilogy and long considered to be the worst of the series. (Well, assuming you don’t count the abysmal X-Men: Origins — Wolverine.)
It’s not just X-Men: The Last Stand, though. While in most movie trilogies, the second entry in the worst, superhero trilogies are an anomaly. Since the first movie is usually bogged down by an origin story, the second movie is almost always the best — recall Superman II, X2: X-Men United, Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier — while the third is almost always the worst.
When 2011’s X-Men: First Class rebooted things, showing how the characters once played by Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Rebecca Romijn began, it caught people off-guard with how good it was. Days of Future Past, being the second movie, proved to be the best X-Men yet, topping the first in always every way. X-Men: Apocalypse is the third in this new trilogy. And you know what they say about the third one. Continue reading
Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
When it was announced to the world that the director of the seventh Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, would be J.J. Abrams, it made the most sense of anyone imaginable. The task of continuing arguably the most beloved film saga of all time — while also redeeming the collective disappointment of “the prequels” — was a fool’s errand, after all.
Of course, so was rebooting Star Trek in 2009, which Abrams handled with such deft aplomb that it resurrected the entire franchise. Abrams showed the perfect flair for paying respect to a series’ roots (which a new Star Wars movie is required, by nature, to do) while also being unafraid to take bold chances (which the three most recent Star Wars movies largely failed to do).
Perhaps most anticipated about The Force Awakens has not been what the exact plot would be or how new and old characters would intertwine but how well Abrams would do with the torch that Disney passed on, after George Lucas finally released his grip. The world can now release its collective breath. J.J. Abrams’ hugely successful rescue of the series represents the truest new hope for the saga since 1977 — and in more literal ways than you may expect. Continue reading
Photo: Roadside Attractions
This year, almost all the actors nominated for Oscars truly deserved the nods. Even so, there were many brilliant performances that didn’t get any attention from the Academy. These ten (listed in alphabetical order) all deserve just as much attention as the twenty actors ultimately nominated for Oscars this year.
Photo: CBS Films
After nearly 30 years of making movies, from the goofily comedic Raising Arizona to the Oscar-courting Fargo, the Coen brothers have attained a rare status nowadays: directors the general public pays attention for. “Coen brothers movies” aren’t released; they arrive.