Thursday, May 30, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters Is More of a Pauper Among Modern Monster Movies

The greatest enemy Godzilla can never seem to defeat is not King Ghidorah nor Biollante nor Baragon. No, it's boring human characters, even the rightfully iconic 1954 Godzilla movie that introduced the world to this gigantic lizard couldn't evade the problem of having the majority of its human characters be dull. Why they don't just let Godzilla and the other monsters take the spotlight in these movies, I'll never know, but here we go again with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which ramps up the amount of monster mayhem compared to Godzilla (2014) but ends up devoting way too much screentime to an overstuffed cast of disposable humans.

Patrick Rarely Rivets But It's Also Rarely Worse Than Harmless. Plus, It's Got a Cute Pug!

I love all dogs in general (I don't know if you've heard, but dogs are good, Brent), but there's no question that pugs are my absolute favorite breed of pooches on the planet. More movies really should take the time to make sure their stories heavily involve this specific breed of doggo, can you imagine how much more tolerable, say, Bohemian Rhapsody would have been if it had given Freddie Mercury an adorable pug sidekick? This means Patrick, a new family movie from director Mandie Fletcher, was starting off on the right foot (paw?) with me by fixating its entire plot on a pug by the name of Patrick.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

In Laman's Terms: What Exactly Had Led To The Modern Monster (Movie) Mash?

One perfect shot from 2018's monster movie hit Rampage
In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

The last decade has seen a major resurgence in the presence of high-budget monster movies at the domestic box office. Previously the terrain of foreign cinema and B-movie drive-in's, today, the monster movie is a go-to source to deliver spectacle for audiences and drum up plenty of money for studio executives. In the last eleven years or so, everything ranging from Pacific Rim to The Meg to Rampage have managed to crack $400 million worldwide while Legendary Pictures has created one of the few non-Marvel cinematic universes that's actually taken off with the MonsterVerse, a franchise that currently consists of Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island and this Friday's Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Bram Stoker's Dracula Is A Sexually Charged Piece of Cinema That Makes For A Delightful Watch

Bram Stoker's Dracula is one horny movie. It's so horny you might as well call it a crash of rhinos. It's so fixated on getting it on that one is surprised some James Brown tunes don't pepper the soundtrack. Director Francis Ford Coppola has assembled an A-list cast and some extraordinary production design, not to mention Bram Stoker's iconic source material, to create a vivid erotic fever dream about the one, the only, the vampire called Dracula. That description is meant to be a compliment, Bram Stoker's Dracula has refreshingly no inhibitions about what it wants to be is and fully embraces any opportunity to revel in both sex and hamminess, frequently at the same time.

A Private War Is the Best Kind of Biopic Drama In How Well It Explores the Humanity of a Historical Figure

It feels like the grim tone of A Private War was always gonna be a barrier to it becoming a widely-seen domestic box office hit but it's still a pity this feature came and went in such a quick fashion back in November 2018. Topping out at only $1.6 million, A Private War was one of the worst-performing wide releases of 2018 and one of a number of recent releases from Aviron Pictures (alongside Serenity and After) to go belly-up at the box office. As everybody knows, though, box office grosses are not an exact barometer for quality and A Private War is actually a well-made war drama that deserved far more attention than it got.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Bodacious Booksmart Brings Bevy of Brilliant Belly-Laughs


It's the last day of High School for Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), long-time best buddies who have put their noses to the grindstone and spent all their time in High School studying in the hopes of getting into the best possible colleges. But on this day before graduation, Molly realizes that all the other kids in their school who spent so much time partying also managed to get into good colleges. There isn't much time left for them as high schoolers, so Molly and Amy decide to step outside of their respective comfort zones and go to a party for the first time. Sounds like a simple plan, but getting to that party is going to be far more of a trek than they could have ever imagined.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Disney's Never Had A 2010s Memorial Day Box Office Hit Like Aladdin While Fellow Newcomers BrightBurn And Booksmart Underperform

Note: all figures discussed in this article are three-day weekend estimates. Four-day Memorial Day weekend box office grosses are not discussed here.

The past few months, I’ve been convinced that Aladdin would end up being Disney’s big summertime box office misfire, which just goes to show you that there is one universal truth in this world: I know nothing. Aladdin ended up surpassing all expectations with a whopping $86.1 million bow, the sixth biggest three-day bow for a Memorial Day new release ever. It’s also the fourth-biggest opening weekend for a live-action Disney remake, only The Jungle Book ($102 million), Alice in Wonderland ($116 million) and Beauty and the Beast ($174 million) did better. It’s also the second-biggest opening weekend ever for Will Smith, only Suicide Squad had a bigger bow for the actor. This $86.1 million bow means Aladdin had the biggest opening weekend for a 2019 movie that isn't set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and means that Disney has three biggest opening weekends of 2019.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Ides of March Is A Shallow Exploration of American Politics That Wastes So Many Talented Actors


George Clooney is a great actor. He's usually always a charming presence in whatever he pops up in but he's especially stellar playing more troubled characters that serve as a subversion of his movie star persona, like in Up in the Air or in his outstanding voice work in Fantastic Mr. Fox. He also seems like a decent fella in real life and his 2005 directorial effort Good Night and Good Luck was a well-made piece of historical drama cinema. All of that being said, Clooney's attempts to direct and/or star in films that have some kind of sociopolitical message in the 2010s (Suburbicon, Money Monster, even Tomorrowland) have been a big o'l miss, Clooney always ends up being a part of films that have really nothing need to add to the conversation, they just add surface-level observations at best and downright nonsensical takes on real-world problems in the worst instances like Suburbicon.

Aladdin Is No Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland But It Still Falls Short of Being Something Magical

If you've seen Disney's original Aladdin movie, you've basically seen the new live-action Aladdin feature from director Guy Ritchie, albeit with more inspired animation and exciting musical sequences. To be fair to this new Aladdin movie, it is probably one of the least offensive entries in this series of live-action remakes of animated Disney movies as it lacks the distracting editing of Beauty and the Beast or the repugnant visual sensibilities of Alice in Wonderland. It's inoffensive, sporadically entertaining but even entirely disregarding comparisons to the original Disney film, it's still a strangely empty exercise despite being a Disney musical directed by the man who brought the world Snatch.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Train to Busan Is A Poignant Ride You Won't Want To End

Our current golden age of horror movies doesn't just apply to American horror features like Get Out, A Quiet Place or Hereditary, plenty of recent pieces of foreign horror cinema have also contributed to the onslaught of modern-day high-quality horror fare. Among the very best of those horror films, foreign or otherwise, is Yeon Sang-ho's Train to Busan, a 2016 zombie tale that I finally got around to watching for the first time last week. I'll be forever kicking myself for not discovering this title far sooner. It's been so long since a movie left me so constantly holding my breath in sheer dread and terror. Why did I waste time watching CHiPS when I could have been experiencing Train to Busan??

The Hole In The Ground Stars Out With Promise Before Fizzling Out In A Ho-Hum Finale


Sarah (Seana Kerslake) and her young son Chris (James Quinn Markey), like so many horror movie protagonists before them, have decided they need a break from city life and move out into the countryside. Some more down-home living will do them both good Sarah figures. They've barely unpacked their bags before some strange events begin to occur in their new home. First, while looking for her son in the nearby woods, Sarah stumbles onto a gigantic hole in the ground. Then, after she finds Chris near that aforementioned hole in the ground, her son begins to exhibit strange pieces of behavior that are the total opposite of his normal personality. An old woman in her neighborhood once claimed that her son was replaced with an evil doppelganger and was dismissed as a loon. Could she have been onto something? Could that same scenario have befallen Sarah and Chris?

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

In Laman's Terms: Six Animated Disney Movies That (Probably) Won't Be Getting Live-Action Remakes

In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

Come this Friday, the newest in an onslaught of live-action remakes of classic animated Disney movies arrives in the form of Aladdin. It's not the last one of its kind we'll see in 2019 either, with The Lion King, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Lady and the Tramp all on the way in next six months while 2020 will deliver Mulan and Cruella. There's no end in sight for Disney's new excuse to print money (so long as it doesn't star Dumbo, at least) but even Disney is bound to have limits in terms of just how much of its library of animated classics it'll turn into modern-day live-action blockbusters. Below, I've compiled six animated Disney films the studio probably won't be turning into live-action movies anytime soon, the first of which is...

Wine Country Delivers A Vacation That's At Its Best When It Comes To Easygoing Comedy

Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey, Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer are the six leading performers of Wine Country. That's quite the roster of talented folks to headline a movie and Wine Country finds plenty of amusing comedy out of just the camaraderie of this troop of actors interacting with one another over a single weekend. Interestingly, though, the biggest problem with Wine Country is how it doesn't lean on such simple comedic pleasures enough. Instead, its story ends up leaning too hard on predictable conflict-laden storylines between the individual six leading characters that make one yearn for more grounded sequences of just these six performers trading witty dialogue back-and-forth. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Knock Down the House Is An Inspirational And Humanizing Exploration of American Politics

Let's not sugar-coat it, the last week of American politics has been a particularly vicious form of disheartening, which is saying something given how the last two-and-a-half years have been the physical manifestation of a nightmare. We need an ounce of hope wherever we can get it and goodness knows movies have always functioned as a go-to format for providing stories that offer up some hope to the world in times of crisis. For the Rachel Lears feature film Knock Down the House (which is now streaming on Netflix), hope is offered through a documentary that follows a quarter of female politicians looking to shake the status quo in American politics.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Cuts To The Emotional Bone With Its Harrowing Performances And Camerawork

When the Hayes Code, a set of restrictions placed on what could or couldn't be depicted in American cinema in order to "protect the sanctity of the family", fell in 1964, American cinema suddenly had a golden opportunity on its hand to explore darker and more adult-oriented storytelling that had been off-limits for decades now. Studios didn't rush to make the filthiest movies they could imagine, but they did start to test the waters with what exactly they could do under the heavily reduced amount of restrictions placed on their art form. Come 1966, the Mike Nichols directorial effort Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? would help push those boundaries with a movie that wasn't afraid to talk about grim matters that would have been unspeakable had it been made in the Hayes Code era.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Lynne Ramsay And Samantha Morton Deliver A Mesmerizing Portrait of Coping With Grief In The Excellent Morvern Callar

And so, having now finally watched Morvern Callar, I've seen all four of Lynne Ramsay's feature-film directorial effort. Though Morvern Callar might be the weakest of Ramsay's movies, that's a lot like saying that a specific Carly Rae Jepsen song is her weakest. Jepsen's songs, like Ramsay's directorial efforts, are just varying degrees of exceptional, there really isn't a dud in the bunch. This Morvern Callar is yet another impressive and harrowing piece of filmmaking from one of the best directors working today, one that sees Ramsay turning her artistic focus on people's mental-based struggles in the wake of tragedy onto the story of a woman grappling with her boyfriend's suicide.

Like Many of the Best Time Travel Tales, See You Yesterday Merges Sci-Fi With Intimate Human Experiences

There are plenty of drawbacks to Netflix's method of releasing its movies with little in the way of prominent promotion but it also has its benefits, most notably in how it can lead to the fun experience of a whole bunch of people across the world discovering and enjoying a new Netflix original movie and watching them spread the word about it across social media. Watching that word-of-mouth work to turn a previously unknown film into something everybody's talking is utterly fascinating to watch. If there's any justice in the world, the cleverly concocted time travel tale See You Yesterday will be the next Netflix film to receive that kind of treatment from audiences.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum Has "Excellent!" Opening Weekend As A Dog's Journey Goes Nowhere And Sun Is Also A Star Burns Out

In just one weekend, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum has exceeded the entire $43 million lifetime gross of the original John Wick movie. This guy really is worthy of his legendary reputation. Grossing $57 million this frame, John Wick: Chapter 3 nearly doubled the opening weekend of the second John Wick movie and scored the biggest opening weekend ever for a Lionsgate movie that doesn't belong to either the Hunger Games or Twilight franchises. It's been fascinating to see the John Wick movies grow from being a sleeper hit to being a ubiquitous element of pop culture capable of opening to such hefty box office figures. Needless to say, these impressive opening weekend figures ensure that we'll be seeing plenty more of Baba Yaga in the future.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Intruder Is Insultingly Forgettable


Scott Howard (Michael Ealy) and Annie Howard (Meagan Good) have decided to step away from city life and buy up a home in the Napa Valley so that they can raise a prospective family in a more serene environment. The humble abode they've purchased previously belonged to Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid), a widow who has spent decades taking care of this house that now belongs to the theory. See, Charlie Peck just won't leave the couple alone. First he shows up to mow the lawn, then he keeps popping up every day to do odd jobs around the house. Annie thinks he's harmless but Scott has a bad feeling about Charlie Peck that turns out to be more accurate than either of them could imagine.

Friday, May 17, 2019

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum See's The John Wick Series Continuing To Slay

What a wonderfully out-of-nowhere creation this John Wick series has become.  Not based on any pre-existing source material, the first movie was quietly filmed in 2013 and didn't start its marketing campaign until two months before its October 2014 debut. It was flying so far under the radar yet it ended up becoming a sleeper hit and deservedly so, it was a blast of an action movie that made good use of both Keanu Reeves and well-shot action sequences. Nearly five years later, John Wick has turned into a full-blown saga that continues onward with John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum (that title is the worst thing to emerge from this series) and manages to maintain the level of quality that made the first two movies such joys.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mrs. Miniver's Historical Bona Fides Are More Intriguing Than Its Own Characters

As the Turner Classic Movies pre-movie introduction helpfully clarifies, the historical context for Mrs. Miniver is utterly fascinating. This American financed movie set near London was released in the summer of 1942 but had been in production for well over two years beforehand. This meant the film was constantly being tinkered with, even after whole scenes were shot, to keep the movie relevant to what was going in this worldwide conflict. This likely resulted in a tumultuous process of filmmaking but it did manage to also result in a movie that resonated deeply with both general moviegoers and famous world leaders of the era.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

In Laman's Terms: The Live-Action Dog Family Movie Is Back! In Pog, Er, Josh Gad Form!

American pop culture loves to dig up popular things from the past so it shouldn't be surprising to see stuff from the 1990s like Pokemon come back in modern forms attempting to capitalize on nostalgia. Even with that being such a go-to method for printing money, though, who would have thought that the 1990's craze of live-action dog family movies, sometimes featuring dogs "speaking" by way of celebrity voice-overs, would be making such a resurgence at the tail end of the 2010's? After lying dormant for most of this decade, 2019 has delivered three new entries (including this Friday's A Dog's Journey) in this subgenre and it's doubtful they'll be the last modern-day entries in this genre.

Rafiki Is A Wondrously Crafted Romantic Tale In Every Way

Kena (Samantha Mugatsia), the lead character of Rafiki, is a teenager in Kenya who lives a seemingly normal life. She's working towards becoming a nurse in between helping her father, John Mwaura (Jimmy Gathu), who is running in a local election. His primary competitor, Peter Okemi, has a daughter named Ziki (Sheila Munyiva), that captures the attention of Kena and the two begin hanging out. It isn't long before they realize they share a romantic attraction to each other, which is an issue since homosexuality itself is outlawed in Kenya. But societal disapproval, as well as the disapproval of their rival parents, be damned, Kena and Ziki are in love and the two of them bring out the best in one another in the time they spend together.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Meek's Cutoff Is A Western Deconstruction Like No Other

As Meek's Cutoff opens, director Kelly Reichardt makes it apparent this movie will be adhering to a  transcendentalism style of filmmaking. Some of the core tenants of this filmmaking style, namely prolonged extended takes concentrated on minimal activity, turn out to be a perfect way to capture the experiences of the lead characters of Meek's Cutoff as they gradually make their way across the American frontier to an unspecified locale that's supposed to provide them all with prosperous riches. This is a journey that's arduous and slow with little in the way of actual progress to speak of so it's fitting that Reichardt opts to capture this voyage in a filming style that places an emphasis on slower pacing and minimalism.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Beyonce: Homecoming Is Both An Exhilarating And Insightful Documentary

If somebody's still puzzled as to why Beyonce Knowles-Carter has become such a phenomenon in the modern-day pop culture scene, Beyonce: Homecoming, a feature that captures Beyonce's 2018 Coachella performance, should provide a handy-dandy summation for why exactly she's risen to such a legendary status in the modern era. Just the crowd's reaction to watching her perform live alone should say why Beyonce has become a pop culture force to be reckoned with. Many of these audience members don't get their experiences properly represented frequently in music nor does music often tell them explicitly that they are amazing because of the traits that society ostracizes them for. Self-empowerment anthems are common in American pop music but Beyonce takes that format and skews it through the lens of black culture and especially through the lens of black women empowerment to create self-empowerment anthems that don't just resonate with people but are quite unlike anything else we've ever seen in music.

Katherine Hepburn Delivers Top-Shelf Work In The So-So Feature Morning Glory

Morning Glory is a film that covers a mighty familiar storyline. It’s a yarn about a girl from a small town who comes to New York City to fulfill her dreams of stardom, which was a well-worn cinematic narrative even in 1933 (its initial year of release). However, an extra layer of meta-importance is injected into the feature by way of it being an early star vehicle for Katharine Hepburn, who would receive her first Oscar nomination for Morning Glory. We’re not just watching a fictional character ascending to stardom in Morning Glory, we’re also watching Hepburn do the exact same thing.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Avengers: Endgame Continues To Top Box Office While Detective Pikachu Is Super Effective With Biggest Video Game Movie Opening Weekend Ever

Chris Evans in an image from Avengers: Endgame
For the third weekend in a row, Avengers: Endgame was on top of the domestic box office, though it did fall a sharp 57% from last weekend for a third-weekend haul of $63 million. That's a much bigger third-weekend drop than usual for early summer Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (Avengers: Infinity War dropped only 45% in its third weekend), but it's doubtful anyone at Disney is complaining since that still gave Endgame the fourth biggest third-weekend in history and took it to $723.4 million domestically, making Endgame the third-biggest film of all-time domestically after just 17 days of release. It's also accumulated just under $2.5 billion worldwide as of this weekend, putting it just under $300 million away from toppling Avatar to become the biggest movie of all-time worldwide.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Lynne Ramsay Kicked Off Her Directorial Career In A Masterful Fashion With Ratcatcher

Sometimes, a director debuts with a film that manages to totally capture the elements that would come to define their work as a filmmaker. In the case of Lynne Ramsay, her recurring exploration of the internal mental perspectives of her lead characters is evident not just somewhere within her first feature film, Ratcatcher, but in its very first opening scene! Ratcatcher opens with its lead characters, James Gillespie (William Eadie), twirling round and round with a curtain covering his face. Noises of idyllic sounds of children laughing and playing emanating from within the mind of James are heard as he continues to play with the curtain until they're abruptly cut off by his mother ripping the curtain off of James and warning him of the dangers of wrapping his head up in a curtain.

The Third Man Is A Constantly Riveting Feature That Brilliant Subverts Norms of the Noir Genre


One of the many wonderful things about watching The Third Man for the first time was discovering it belong to one of my favorite subgenres of world cinema, post-World War II movies. I am utterly fascinated by non-American features that explore life directly in the wake of World War II, it's a perspective that was never covered in my public education experience and getting to explore the various perspectives of foreign countries in the wake of this worldwide conflict through the lens of cinema has been eye-opening. Bicycle Thieves, Tokyo Story, Drunken Angel, so many good stories have been told about people trying to move on with their lives in the wake of all the events of World War II and The Third Man is one of the most thrilling entries in this subgenre.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu Has A Messy Script But Lots of Delightful Pokemon Antics

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu does not begin with the titular hat-wearing critter, rather it starts with  Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a young twenty-something living out a mundane life working for an insurance firm in a small town. That quiet existence is upended when he gets news that his distant father has been killed. Tim heads off to Ryme City, a city Tim's dad lived in where humans and Pokemon live in harmony together, to simply say good-bye to his deceased pops, but those plans change when he discovers a talking Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) in his dad's apartment, one that is convinced Tim's dad was embroiled in a larger conspiracy he and Tim now must solve.

Disney's Plans For 20th Century Fox Are Coming Into Place And They Aren't Pretty

This week, a more concrete picture of what exactly Disney has in place for 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight came into light by way of an updated schedule for upcoming Disney theatrical releases and a comment made by Disney head Bob Iger regarding how many annual releases we can expect from the new version of 20th Century Fox. Let's first talk about the more light-hearted news regarding release date changes for upcoming 20th Century Fox movies before we move on to the more pressing matter of the substantially smaller release slate we can now expect from what used to be one of the biggest movie studios on the planet.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Brings The Weird And Also Plenty of Entertainment

In the first decade of the 21st century, there was a trend (one not exclusive to just this era of filmmaking) wherein a number of pieces of popular literature got adapted into American feature films that basically just took the title and core concept of their source material (if even that) and tried to create a film that could emulate the financial success of other popular films. The Golden Compass, for instance, became a Lord of the Rings knock-off, and The Lightning Thief got turned into a watered-down Harry Potter clone. A feature film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was released in the middle of this era and you'd think this adaptation of the famous Douglas Adams novel would be another example of Hollywood taking distinct source material and creating a forgettable feature film adaptation out of it.

Despite Starring Two Acting Legends, Fracture Is Criminally Forgettable

Now that he's spent the 2010's working with the likes of Denis Villeneuve, Damien Chazelle and Shane Black, it's hard to imagine an era where Ryan Gosling would star in a disposable courtroom thriller like Fracture. But this hunky leading man of very few words did just that back in 2007 in between two movies, Half Nelson and Lars and the Real Girl, that saw him deliver two of his best performances. Those two motion pictures became more of the norm for Gosling going forward whereas Fracture, as the years go on and on, looks more and more like a strange anomaly for one of the most fascinating modern leading men in American cinema.

Wild Nights With Emily Asks If The Real Emily Dickinson Would Please Stand Up


Last week, I did a double feature at my nearest arthouse theater that consisted of Little Woods and Wild Nights with Emily, the latter being a feature chronicling under-discussed parts of Emily Dickinson's life, including her romantic relationship with a woman named Susan. In between the two movies, I struck up a conversation with an employee of the theater who noted how there had been many instances of people walking out of Wild Nights with Emily because the overt presence of Lesbianism caught people off-guard (apparently, a similar problem plagued The Favourite at the same location months earlier). Apparently, people constantly tried to ask for their money back and complained that the movie was inaccurate because "[Lesbianism] didn't happen back then".

In Laman's Terms: Why Are Video Game Movies So Cursed?

In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

Today, I shall deliver a hot take so fantastically scalding hot that it shall stir up eons of controversial social media discourse. Hold onto your seats folks for this cutting-edge hot take: most video game movies have been bad. Limiting ourselves to live-action American film adaptations of video games, this subgenre really has been the pits ever since it kicked off with twenty-six years ago with Super Mario Bros., the rare piece of Mario-branded pop culture to be an out-and-out flop. Since then, the amount of notably video game movies has stacked up like pancakes on a Monday morning at Ihop. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Assassin's Creed, anything Uwe Boll directed, the mind reels at how many bad pieces of cinema have emerged from the video game movie subgenre.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The 160-Minute Runtime of Nashville Flies Right By Thanks To How Well-Made It Is

Welcome to the Bi-Centennial Celebration of America. The year is 1976 and everyone is gearing up to celebrate 200 years of existence for the United States of America. Nashville follows the lives of a wide assortment of characters in Nashville, Tennesse over the course of a few days, with one of the key unifying elements across this bevy of storylines being that a controversial political figure is preparing to give a speech in this Southern city. Among the people we follow over the course of Nashville are singer Linnea Reese (Lilly Tomlin), her husband Delbert Reese (Ned Beatty), rocker Tom Frank (Keith Carradine) and so many others. The cast is so dense that it includes Jeff Goldblum showing up in an assortment of dialogue-free appearances as a figure only referred to in the credits as The Silent Tricycle Man.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Mikey and Nicky Dives Headfirst Into A Grim Tone With Exceptional Results

We begin Mikey and Nicky in media res. Something has gone horribly wrong. Nicky (John Cassavetes) is alone in a hotel room profusely sweating after learning a hit has been put out for him. There's only one person he can turn to: his life-long friend Mikey (Peter Falk). Considering they've been pals since childhood, Nicky gives Mikey a ring and asks him to come to the hotel room and help him out of this jam. It isn't long before Mikey arrives and tries to talk Nicky down from his hysterical state. The two proceed to create a plan for Nicky to leave town, but before he can do that, Nicky insists the two friends spend the rest of the night in New York City doing whatever comes into his head.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile Wastes Interesting Casting On A Lackluster Script

Nobody would have ever suspected Ted Bundy (Zac Efron) of being anything but just a handsome fella with a Volkswagon bug. Why would they? On the outside, he seems like a perfectly pleasant person who leads a serene life with girlfriend Liz Kendall (Lily Collins) and her daughter Molly. But then everything changes once Ted is arrested on charges of kidnapping and murder. Ted maintains his innocence in the face of so many accusations and tries his mightiest to evade police custody in escape attempts that eventually lead him to be arrested on further charges of grisly murders. On the surface, Bundy would never have been anyone's idea of a serial killer but it turns out he's been committing crimes fitting of the title of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.

Avengers: Endgame Continues To Score With One of the Biggest Second Weekends In History While A Trio of New Releases Struggle

A spoilery image from the climax of Avengers: Endgame
Summer 2019 is now in full swing, with Avengers: Endgame having a second-weekend comparable to the opening weekends of past Marvel Cinematic Universe titles that have opened on the first weekend of May in the past. Grossing $145.8 million this weekend (only a few hundred thousand dollars behind the opening weekend of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Avengers: Endgame fell 59% from its opening weekend, a bigger second-weekend drop than the 55% drop of Avengers: Infinity War, which was to be expected given how much of Endgame's opening weekend came from its $60 million Thursday night gross. That $145.8 million gross means that Endgame had the second-biggest second-weekend in history, only behind the massive $149.2 million second-weekend of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Little Woods Is An Impressively Harrowing Directorial Debut For Nia DaCosta

In North Dakota, Ollie (Tessa Thompson) is struggling to keep her life together. She's in the last few days of her probation, she's looking to get a new job in the town of Spokane after she got out of the drug dealing business and she's trying to help out her sister, Deb (Lily James), and her nephew whenever possible. That's a lot for cash-strapped Ollie to keep track of and now she's got the added issue of her house being foreclosed on. Needing to get at least three grand so that she can hold onto the house, Ollie reluctantly decides to get back into the business of selling medication to the local townsfolk again while Deb grapples with suddenly discovering that she's pregnant.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Son of Godzilla Is A Goofy Trifle About Gigantic Monster Father/Son Bonding

The very first Godzilla movie is a relatively serious affair meant to provide social commentary on the dangers of nuclear power in the mid-20th century. Naturally, subsequent follow-up's would look at such a grim allegorical set-up and proceed to take the gigantic lizard monster into more goofy directions that would eventually involve Godzilla duking it out with a massive gorilla. I'm not sure anyone behind the original Godzilla feature could have predicted where the Godzilla saga would go tonally but Son of Godzilla shows that there is merit, albeit heavily flawed merit, in taking the Godzilla mythos in an unabashedly silly direction. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Free Solo's Outstanding Camerawork Is Nightmare Fuel For People With a Fear of Heights

If there's one job I'm just not cut out for, it's mountain climber. My vertigo kicks in if I go up a particularly high escalator, I can only imagine how distraught I'd be trying to ascend the side of a mountain. But there's plenty of people who don't just manage to actually climb up mountains, they excel at it and some even manage to do with without any ropes to provide protection for them. These climbers are known as free solo climbers and one of the most famous people in this field is Alex Honnold, the star of Free Solo, a documentary about his exploits trying to ascend the El Capitan rock formation over the course of two years. It's a monumental task with an equally massive level of risk attached to it but Honnold is not the kind of guy who just sticks to the safe and sound.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

In Laman's Terms: Avengers: Endgame and Hamilton Unearth The Humanity of Larger-Than-Life Icons

In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame and Hamilton follow.

I had the privilege of getting to watch for the first time two pieces of pop culture that I had been eagerly awaiting for a prolonged period of time. The first of these was Avengers: Endgame, a movie culminating eleven years of storytelling that I had been following ever since my Dad took me and my younger brother to see Iron Man in theaters all the way back in May 2008. The other was getting to see Hamilton on stage for the very first time, an experience I had been dreaming about endlessly ever since I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack for the first time just over three years ago. My anticipation couldn't have been higher for either Endgame or Hamilton and it turns out they both exceeded my wildest expectations, particularly Hamilton, which took on a whole new level of life in the format of a physical stage show performed by flesh-and-blood people.