Category Archives: Movie Review

The Last Jedi: Mixed Bag of Missed Opportunities

***This Review is full of Spoilers. If you want a pristine experience, you should come back after you’ve seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Consider yourself warned.*** Perhaps I am old. Maybe I have moved finally and fully out of the hulking middle at which Hollywood takes aim. It is also possible I am just plain wrong. Of the three, I consider the last one the least likely. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (TLJ) was a pile of missed opportunities, punctuated… Continue Reading ››

Dunkirk: A Breathtaking Portrayal of a Beautiful Disaster

Turning the battle of Dunkirk into a film presents obvious challenges, for it was less a battle and more a retreat. Filming a strategic withdrawal that occurs at the beginning of a protracted war harbors no obvious moments of glory and only a muted climax. Christopher Nolan, the director and obvious driving force behind the entire production of Dunkirk, is more than up to the task. Dunkirk weaves three separate strands of narrative. The Mole (the soldiers on the beach… Continue Reading ››

Arrival is the Best Film I’ve Seen This Year

Director Dennis Villeneuve has crafted a masterpiece, a science fiction film that turns its gaze from the stars and into the corners of the human condition. Arrival deserves to stand alongside the best of the genre, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, Interstellar, Contact, and Blade Runner. As I’ve written before, science fiction is at its best when it holds a technical, metallic, polished mirror up to the viewer, so she might see herself more starkly and in sharp, painfully-detailed, relief.… Continue Reading ››

Just Trying to Compete with the Movies

As many of you know my Bereans colleague Mark Smith likes movies and likes to write movie reviews.  I am not so cool so I like books.  And on occasions I like to highlight some I like really well.  This time I have three.  And I apologize that you can’t go see the movie versions of these—I don’t think anyone would go at any rate. If you like economic methodology (who doesn’t), you’ll love this book.  It is a bit… Continue Reading ››

Captain America: Civil War is Superior

Captain America: Civil War represents the best of the Marvel Universe and American action films. It is far from a message movie, but CA:CW is grounded in the questions that have dogged our world for the past two decades. What is justice? What is truth? Can power and responsibility be exercised together? What is a bearable cost for principle? It is what superhero films ought to be: a window into our own reality, an escape that transports us into the here and… Continue Reading ››

Batman vs. Superman

(File this under the “better late than never” category.) Hollywood is comic book movies. Comic book movies are Hollywood. The fit seems both natural and perverse. Every film is about the suspension of disbelief. Graphic novels are visual representations that transition simply to the screen now that computer and traditional effects are strong enough to depict them. But, if we are honest, few comic book films strive to be cinematic art. For me, an excellent film has to provoke thought.… Continue Reading ››

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

      **SPOILER FREE PORTION** As I walked into Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I resolved to throw popcorn at the screen if: There was no famous word “crawl” at the beginning. Chewbacca died. Either Jar-Jar Binks, “Force Ghost” Anakin, or an Ewok appeared. Beyond that, my expectations were low, but as John Williams’ timeless chords poured over the starlit screen, I smiled, looked at my son, Caleb, and felt good. It was, unmistakably, Star Wars. Nostalgia, like the… Continue Reading ››

Inside Out: Pixar Rediscovers Originality

Inside Out is an anomaly. Think of all the qualities that comprise your typical animated film and here, and not for the first time, Pixar ignores most of them. Not only does it strain convention by taking place inside the main character’s head, but Inside Out also has a dearth of singing, slapstick, and cultural references. Like Wall-E, Inside Out is determined to be its own film and nothing else and, as art, it succeeds admirably. By directing Up, Monster’s, Inc,… Continue Reading ››

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The history of blockbusters is littered with poor sequels that were only sharp enough to pierce our expectations. These movies deflate. Like a beach ball that pops as soon as it touches the hot sand, we, the movie faithful, suckers that we are, are always in search of good times that are too rarely had. Jaws 2. Jurassic Park 2. The Matrix Reloaded. Ernest Saves Christmas. We go to sequels because we maintain the faintest hope the sequel will build… Continue Reading ››

Fury: A Film Worth Rediscovering

I am always giddy when war films are announced and open. Perhaps that emotion is not the most suitable one for a genre that wrenchingly reveals the best and worst of human nature, but I am what I am. War films have evolved dramatically since John Wayne was single-handedly defeating the Japanese in Flying Tigers and the Fighting Seabees. Wayne’s films were sometimes unvarnished portraits of patriotism, while more modern takes focus on the mixed motives of those at war, occasionally… Continue Reading ››