Memory, from director Martin Campbell, is the latest in the seemingly never-ending slew of Liam Neeson action films. Its plot is as bare bones as they come as it spins its yarn of a dual narrative between Alex Lewis (Neeson’s hitman with a conscious) and an FBI agent (Guy Pearce) who crosses his path. The straightforward plot finds Alex (who’s battling the early stages of alzheimer’s) turning his gun on those who hired him after he’s contracted to murder a child. Meanwhile, Pearce’s Vincent forms a connection with the young undocumented victim of human trafficking that Neeson has spared.
For the briefest moment in Deep Water’s increasingly ridiculous tonal massacre of a climax, there’s a slight glimmer that something sort of unique may happen. However, the feeling is fleeting as the film’s ending simply confirms what we’ve already assumed through the previous hour and a half; not only does Deep Water not have any idea what it wants to be, but director Adrian Lyne doesn’t seem up to figuring it out himself. Instead, Lyne poses the question, “What if an erotic thriller was devoid of sexuality while also lacking any suspense whatsoever?” The jumbled and maddeningly awkward Deep Water is the answer and it’s not something that’s worth seeking out.
Turning Red’s core concept of a girl trying to control her newfound ability (or curse) and channel it for her and her friends’ benefit simply lacks the impactful emotional catharsis that is a signature of so much of Pixar’s previous work.
Matt Reeves’s dark and angsty noir take on Batman finally hits theaters this week following production hiccups and multiple release date changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Batman finds a young Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) struggling to make a difference in Gotham two years into his nocturnal crime fighting. Following the biggest drug bust in Gotham City PD history, a cryptic serial killer begins murdering Gotham officials and leaving notes at each crime scene.
Uncharted is successful enough as an action-adventure movie with decent chemistry between the leads. It’s biggest shortcoming is how often the film is forced to struggle to rise above its, at best, mediocre script.
Sometimes a formulaic romcom can be fun and other times it can be excruciating in its obviousness. Marry Me, the new romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, falls somewhere in the middle. The charm of Owen Wilson’s Charlie carries a little bit of cache when offset by the fame and spotlight of Lopez’s Kat. However, the film’s insistence on doing nothing unique with its concept and instead steering into the tropes of the genre is its ultimate downfall. Marry Me offers nothing to the romantic comedy canon that hasn’t already been explored to death in the late 90s and early aughts. It’s as formulaic as they come without much entertainment value.
Kenneth Branagh’s follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express finds Agatha Christie’s iconic detective Hercule Poirot entangled in a murder plot aboard a cruise ship on the Nile. Adapted from Christie’s 1937 novel, Death on the Nile is an exercise in laborious plotting, weak characterization, and astonishingly poor visual effects. As a murder mystery, it suffers from an overabundance of motives and red herrings that are too easily introduced and dismissed. While Branagh does bring some slight pathos and intrigue to his portrayal of Poirot in the film, it’s not enough to leave a worthwhile impression.
It’s been two and a half decades since Scream (1996) revitalized the slasher genre and changed the game for mainstream horror with a clever, meta script from Kevin Williamson brought to life by Wes Craven’s masterful direction. Scream ’96 was as much a twisted love letter to the horror genre as it was a slasher in its own right. And it garnered three sequels of varying (though all solid) quality. Now, the directing team behind 2019’s Ready or Not, Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett), have brought the Scream franchise back with Scream (2022), an endlessly clever and violent “re-quel” that honors Wes Craven’s legacy and shows reverence for the franchise he created with writer Kevin Williamson.
See for Me is a home invasion thriller with a unique spin. The lead character is blind and relies on a service app called See for Me, where an operator guides the user through their phone’s camera. It’s a fine enough hook for the film to start with but See for Me quickly shoves the concept aside for a more formulaic thriller. Sadly, what could have been an interesting entry in a tired subgenre turns into a dull limp to its expected finish line.
Eighteen years have passed since the Wachowskis concluded The Matrix trilogy and were met with varying degrees of disdain and disappointment from the fan base. Now, Lana Wachowski (sans sister Lilly) has brought audiences back into the Matrix with The Matrix Resurrections. With this installment, Wachowski reintroduces us to Neo and Trinity and some familiar (and not so familiar) faces as they find themselves once again at the whim of machine overlords who’ve imprisoned humanity in a simulated world.
Though it should be commendable and refreshing anytime new players are introduced to the MCU, the storytelling issues within Eternals (and the greater MCU formula itself) are oftentimes not enough to delay the inevitable. The truth is, Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought with it an undeniable sense of franchise fatigue.
Frank Herbert’s Dune is a highly respected work of science fiction that’s influenced storytellers for decades. The novel tells the story of Paul Atreidis, a young man who has visions of his destiny while his present is rife with conflict and danger as his House arrives at the nearly inhospitable planet Arakkis so they can assume control over the planet’s Spice (a hallucinogenic substance needed for interstellar travel) production for the Empire.
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster sets an intriguing pace from the start and carries the human side of the plot through the majority of its runtime. Despite holding back on introducing the titular monster until nearly the end of the film, Ghidorah still manages to be engaging by focusing on the human story without devolving into melodrama like films before it.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings brings the MCU’s first Asian superhero to the screen in a film that dazzles with elaborate set pieces and an energetic buddy energy between leads Simu Liu and Awkwafina. With impressive visual effects in its third act, Shang-Chi is certainly one of the MCU’s best looking films to date (outside of the colorful and vibrate Guardians of the Galaxy films). But even with fantastic action and visual effects, the film suffers a bit from origin story issues and, specifically, its handling of important exposition through inconsistent and repetitive flashbacks.