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Archive for 'Films'

Steady As She Goes: A Review of Star Trek Beyond

Special to Locus Online


To a remarkable extent, Star Trek Beyond is a film designed to appeal to aging fans of the original series [yet] also includes ample doses of the explosions, fistfights, and chaotic chases that are said to most entertain young filmgoers, though these scenes invariably bore and confuse this no-longer-young reviewer. It is thus a film that is likely to appeal to a wide variety of audiences, albeit for different reasons.

The Fogeys of July: A Review of Independence Day: Resurgence

Special to Locus Online


Although I was bored and appalled by the original Independence Day (1996), and utterly baffled by its tremendous popularity, I somehow found its belated sequel to be surprisingly engaging, even moving, despite some obvious issues in its logic and plausibility. Perhaps it is simply a better film than its precursor, the theory that merits some extended exploration.

Alice the Great and Powerful: A Review of Alice Through the Looking Glass

Special to Locus Online


The visual effects are regularly creative and engaging, and there are lines here and there that might make you laugh, but overall, anyone looking for 153 minutes of entertainment on this Memorial Day weekend would be best advised to read, or reread, Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) instead of watching this film, which borrows its title but none of its unique wit and charm.

“No One Stays Good in This World”: A Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Special to Locus Online


It should be obvious by now that I disliked this film’s approach to Superman and Batman and generally did not enjoy watching it; yet, after two hours of routine violence and tedious exposition, there comes a time when this misbegotten film suddenly sputters to life and becomes a satisfying viewing experience — and that is when a third hero, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), finally appears [and] for the first time in the film, we are presented with a hero that we can actually like.

A Divergent Hunger Maze Game: A Review of The 5th Wave

Special to Locus Online


I really didn’t enjoy watching The 5th Wave, though it is hard to explain why, for by any conventional evaluation, it qualifies as a well-crafted diversion, not unlike many successful films of the recent past. Perhaps the problem is that the film is artfully following an overly familiar, even an exhausted pattern…

“It’s Gravity Meets Night of the Living Dead!”:
A Review of 400 Days

Special to Locus Online


My title describes how one imagines writer-director Matt Osterman might have pitched the idea of 400 Days, in a stereotypically succinct fashion, to skeptical Hollywood executives. Like many pitches, no doubt, it is not entirely accurate, for there are few if any specific plot similarities between this film and the referenced classics. Yet the pitch would be broadly defensible, inasmuch as 400 Days begins like a realistic depiction of near-future astronauts and devolves into a standard-issue horror film.

Actually, the Force Is Sleepwalking: A Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Special to Locus Online


It would be virtually impossible to not enjoy a film that is so visibly striving to replicate all of the elements that made the original films so appealing…. The problem is that while one can praise to the stars the immense talent that went into the making of this film, it is hard to discern much creativity in either its design or its execution.

Rebels Without a Clue: A Review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Special to Locus Online


In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, one can definitely detect echoes of the points I have already extracted from the previous films — that young people today regard themselves as victims of adult mistreatment, yet they also want adults to solve all their problems, simply because young people are inherently and amazingly wonderful — but I will shift my attention to other, more novel, messages in this generally entertaining but occasionally disappointing film.

‘A Huge Moment for NASA’ … and Novelists: A Review of The Martian

Special to Locus Online


Ridley Scott’s The Martian is the best film I’ve seen in a long, long time, and it can be enthusiastically recommended as involving and uplifting entertainment. … Still, even while sincerely enjoying the film, I also felt a certain sense of ambivalence. For it was clearly and regularly trying to persuade me to believe something that is not true.

An Un-Amazing Story: A Review of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Special to Locus Online


The makers of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials have taken a reasonably inventive and innovative novel and transformed it into a less inventive and less innovative film. They might profitably recall that science fiction novels often become popular precisely because they are offering their audiences something different. It is not a comment that one can make about this science fiction film.


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