Ricki and the Flash

The success of Ricki and the Flash rests largely on the shoulders of Meryl Streep—and those are mighty shoulders indeed—and founders on the shortcomings of Diablo Cody’s screenplay. Ultimately, it’s a fine portrait of the damage a rock and roll dream wreaks on a family, but it lacks any insight that would make the film a memorable addition to director Jonathan Demme’s impressive oeuvre. Ricki and the Flash Director: Jonathan Demme Starring: Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Kevin Kline, Rick Springfield, Audra McDonald Review: 3 stars (of five) Gotta give Cody credit for a tight script. The conflict is laid out in our...

Fantastic Four

The rebooted Fantastic Four movie shows that no one involved in its creation understands the Fantastic Four, superheroes, cinema, story, or joy. The previous pair of FF movies were a flawed attempt at adapting a colorful family of superheroes; this film renders its characters colorless, not a...

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is a surprisingly strong entry in a surprisingly strong series. This is the fifth Mission Impossible flick, and it’s surprising to look back and realize that the first one debuted in 1996. Possibly a key to its success is having run only five movies in nearly 20 years, while keeping the same lead actor and context (as opposed to Bond relaunches) in place. (The earlier films came out in 1996, 2000, 2006, 2011. The Bond series ran eight films from 1995 to this year’s Spectre. And in the Roger Moore era, averaged a film every other year for two decades.) Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Director:...

Ant-Man

Many expected Ant-Man to be Marvel’s first flop, but instead it debuts to strong reviews—and is arguably the best Marvel Studios movie yet, because it puts story and humanity ahead of action and special effects, which the higher-stakes suite of Avengers-related films can’t seem...

Terminator: Genisys

If you’re going to reboot a tired franchise mired in complex continuity, you want to go “back to basics.” The creators of Terminator: Genisys figured out a way to do that while upping the ante on confused continuity. In a fraying universe in which time travel has already caused an...

Terminator & T2

Badmouth on Demand: Days ahead of screening Terminator Genisys, I decided to rectify perhaps the most glaring omission in my science fiction background: I would finally watch The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. How did I miss these unavoidable ‘80s giants, especially as a viewer...

Dope

Dope is a delightful, subversive, heartfelt piece of cinema. Inventive, sharp, well-cast and well-directed, and able to balance real-world issues with a fearlessly over-the-top approach. It’s the best movie I’ve seen this year, and it particularly shines for being released on the same day as Pixar’s surprisingly corporate and uninspiring Inside Out. The story: Malcolm, a straight-A geek in Inglewood is facing college applications, with his eyes set on Harvard. Malcolm navigates the poverty, despair, and drug-fueled crime of South Los Angeles by rejecting it entirely: He and his two nerdy friends are obsessed with the...

Inside Out

Inside Out isn’t bad, it’s just not especially good—certainly not by Pixar standards. It feels like a creative studio going through the motions—checking off boxes to put together a story with the proscribed number of thrills, jokes, emotional moments and lovable characters to...