Captain America: Civil War

The third Captain America film cements the series’ place at the top of the Marvel movie food chain. While the first Iron Man is hard to beat, later installments haven’t been up to snuff. You liked the Avengers films better? Good news: Captain America: Civil War is a better Avengers film than either of Joss Whedon’s entries. It’s also arguably the best film of the Cap series. Captain America: Civil War Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd, Chadwick Boseman Review: 4.5 stars (of five) The story...

The Jungle Book

The remade Jungle Book should suck. We’re conditioned to expect a childhood heroes and myths to be ground into cynical action-and-effects bonanzas of the sort that would steamroll over the charming, gentle animated musical from 1967. And the opening—with young Mowgli running...

Deadpool

Well, that was so much better than I expected. The latest Marvel movie to hit theaters is Deadpool, from the Sony pictures slate that has included mostly lackluster X-Men movies, diminishing returns on Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four flicks that have ranged from not–good to last...

Hail, Caesar!

The newest Coen Brothers comedy is a weird mix. The film got hearty laughs in a few places during my screening, but when the credits rolled after a rather abrupt ending, there were widespread gasps of “What?” “Huh?” and “What the fuck was that?” The trouble is that the Coens are...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is about two things. It is about a new generation of reluctant or unexpected heroes pulled into a cosmic battle of good and evil, and it is about the futility of engaging in that battle. In creating new heroes, director/co-writer J.J. Abrams and the greater Disney machine do a good job. Our two main heroes include a young woman whose origin vaguely echoes Luke Skywalker’s, but who has more grit than any of our original heroes. And then they humanize a stormtrooper and give us the potential for a fascinating story about identity and the creation of the self. (That these heroes are a woman and a black man,...

Carol

Director Todd Haynes takes two excellent actresses and surrounds them with a great supporting cast and a perfectly realized world in which to showcase the performances. It feels natural to say that the best thing a director can do if he’s got a good script and Cate Blanchett is to just...

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

The good news is, it’s over. The bad news is, you’ve got to endure two and a half numbing hours to get to the finish line. (My advice: Screw the finish line. Life is too short for this.) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (or Hunger Games 3.5, if you like) gives us the second half, more or less, of the third novel in this trilogy, and it hews closely to the source material. It’s interesting that, while the original novel was not exactly thrilling literature, the story’s flaws were not nearly so evident on the page as they are on the screen. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Director: Francis Lawrence Starring:...

Spectre

In the fourth James Bond outing for Daniel Craig, and the second for director Sam Mendes, the filmmakers are clearly trying to pull out all the stops, but the trouble is, they’re the wrong stops. Spectre has what we want from a Bond movie: A lot of action as our super-spy attempts to...