Reviews

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales REVIEW

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Even skeptics of the franchise must admit, I think, that the Pirates of the Caribbean films have generally aimed higher and been smarter than might have been expected.

Alien: Covenant REVIEW

Alien: Covenant (2017)

To succumb to a regrettable but practically inevitable coinage, Scott wants to make the world of Alien great again — to remind us all what was so terrifying nearly four decades ago about being in space where no one can hear you scream.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword REVIEW

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

However Arthur himself is depicted, the Arthurian hero (be it Gawain, Bedivere, Perceval, Lancelot, Galahad or Arthur himself) is a man who stands for an ideal or a cause … If you can’t manage this much, you aren’t reinventing the myth — you’re simply committing an act of cultural vandalism.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 REVIEW

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Here’s the thing: You haven’t even seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 yet, but you’re already an incipient fan, aren’t you?

Jesus of Nazareth REVIEW

Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

After the four Gospels, if one text is more influential than any other in the tone of Jesus of Nazareth, it might be the Vatican II declaration on the Church in relation to non-Christian religions, Nostra Aetate, a watershed document in Jewish-Catholic relations.

The Case for Christ REVIEW

The Case for Christ (2017)

The atheists and nonbelievers in The Case for Christ don’t have horns and tails, or even mustaches for twirling.

Grand Illusion REVIEW

Grand Illusion (1937)

Asked what he was trying to do in Rules, Renoir is reported to have said, “I don’t care.” With Grand Illusion, it may not be much easier to say what he’s trying to accomplish, but there is no doubt that he cares.

Ghost in the Shell REVIEW

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Scarlett Johansson is becoming — no, at this point it’s safe to say she is — the default Hollywood poster girl for transhumanism.

Beauty and the Beast REVIEW

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Can a realistically computer-rendered French gilt bronze candelabra be debonair? Jaunty? Rakish, even?

Kong: Skull Island REVIEW

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

The MutoVerse is ramping up to a Godzilla vs. Kong rematch, and in due course Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah will presumably all take turns fighting one another, culminating in something like the airport set piece in Captain America: Civil War, with everyone against everyone else, only with Mutos instead of superheroes.

Logan REVIEW

Logan (2017)

Stewart gives us a brittle, confused Xavier somewhat akin to his elderly Picard from the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And Jackman, who has invested even more in Wolverine than Stewart has Xavier, gives his most complex, conflicted performance to date as a battered, weary, despairing warrior longing only for oblivion.

The Shack REVIEW

The Shack (2017)

Like many popular sensations, from Titanic to Twilight, from Dan Brown to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, The Shack is easy to rip apart if one has a mind to.

The Great Wall REVIEW

The Great Wall (2017)

The Great Wall is one of those movies that is more interesting for what it portends and the discussion around it than for what is actually onscreen. Not that what is onscreen, in the most literal sense, is bad or uninteresting.

The Lego Batman Movie REVIEW

The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

Despite the villainous full-court press, Batman’s victory is so assured that no one is even worried about it. Clearly, something subversive has to happen to kick things out of superhero-movie business as usual and challenge Batman to his core. Would you believe … a giant swirling energy portal in the sky?

The Leopard REVIEW

The Leopard (1963)

One comes, like these Redshirts, as a cultural sightseer to The Leopard, with its palatial grandeur, replete with lavish, painterly images of the bygone glory of the Italian aristocracy: already in their own day semi-mythological figures, as we see in a vignette in which Father Pirrone, tries to explain to the common people the mysterious ways of the nobility: “They live in a world apart, not created by God, but by themselves.”

Paterson REVIEW

Paterson (2016)

For the second year in a row, my favorite film is a winning love story named for an urban area more or less in my backyard.

Passengers REVIEW

Passengers (2016)

If you had to cast two Hollywood actors to watch being all by themselves in a luxury starliner on a doomed 90-year voyage to a planet they will never live to see, you might just pick Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. In a way, that’s the problem with Passengers, or where the problems begin.

Silence REVIEW

Silence (2016)

When 17th-century Japanese authorities in the time of the Tokugawa shogunate found it necessary to send the colonial powers of Europe packing and their European Jesus with them, they didn’t just shatter the missionaries’ bodies. They shattered their narrative.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story REVIEW

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

All this raises a question: When is a Star Wars movie not a Star Wars movie?

Spirited Away REVIEW

Spirited Away (2001)

No film in Miyazaki’s oeuvre haunts me like Spirited Away. One reason is the evocation of a seemingly impenetrable, incalculable world with rhythms and rituals that seem all the more opaque and unnerving because they are routine and transparent to those that are of that world.