Where does Glass go wrong?
Not in ticket sales, certainly. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film is thus far the highest-grossing American film of 2019. But despite the money it’s raking in, the film has generated a mixed reception – it currently stands at 37% of Rotten Tomatoes, with some reviews calling it one of the director’s biggest disappointments. And having now caught up with the film, I can understand why.
Continue reading “The Cracks in “Glass””
I can state without unwarranted cynicism that the idea for producing a “Lego Movie” probably did not stem from the need for artistic fulfillment. As with many cartoons that feature cute, kid-friendly, endlessly marketable leads, it was greenlit by a studio that wanted to sell toys. But it was thanks to the perfect team of thinkers and dreamers – led by the writing/directing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller – that 2014’s The Lego Movie turned out to be as excellent as it was, featuring terrific laughs and exploring poignant themes about imagination and growing up.
Continue reading ““The Lego Movie 2”: Blocks Fit Together, But Never Quite Click”
Every year brings with it a new plethora of superhero films, and 2019 is no exception. At last count, studios have an estimated 827 comic-book movies (give or take) scheduled for release this year, and who can blame them? 2018 saw four superhero flicks – Black Panther, Aquaman, Incredibles 2 and Infinity War – make over a billion dollars each, which means that Hollywood will continue producing such films until the sun eats our planet for breakfast.
Continue reading “The Complete History of Shazam! and Captain Marvel (Part 1)”
It’s no secret that I love a good Disney discussion, and the Internet offers no shortage of opportunities. Yet despite the multiple debates about the studio’s animated adventures, some films are unfairly downplayed or even ignored. When discussing the new wave of great Disney Animation films, for instance, fans are quick to champion the virtues of subversive princess stories like Tangled and Frozen, or other genre-bending adventures like Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia. All fine films, to be sure, and all deserving of their accolades. But few seem to mention the film which arguably kicked off the current “Disney Revival.”
Continue reading “How “Bolt” Revitalized the Disney Formula”
[Writer: Josh Singer | Director: Laura Innes | Aired: 2/9/2005]
“The document is just the beginning.” – Lessig
I’m a sucker for titles with double-meanings, and “The Wake-Up Call” has a doozy. The name refers here to the late-night/early-morning call that the President receives during a national emergency. But it also refers to the recent metaphorical wake-up call – mapped out in the purposeful “365 Days” – to the Bartlet administration at large, which is now in its final year and must determine how to end on a high note.
Continue reading “West Wing 6×14: The Wake-Up Call”
[Writer: John Wells | Director: Alex Graves | Aired: 1/26/2005]
“I lived the opposing arguments.” – Santos
It’s impossible to envy the position John Wells was put in during the summer of 2003. Not only had he been left to take charge of one of the most lauded and award-winning dramas of the era, but he’d had no direct involvement with the series beforehand. That the series didn’t immediately collapse into a pile of ash and broken dreams with the Season Five premiere was something of a miracle.
Continue reading “West Wing 6×13: King Corn”
In the introduction to last year’s installment of my annual “Best TV Shows” series, I lamented the fact that television had grown so voluminous in its content, and so fragmented in its appeal, that great shows no longer stood out the way they once did. Competitive-minded producers, sensing the need to stand out in an increasingly crowded field, have birthed countless shows designed to appeal to smaller and smaller demographics. And while some of these little-watched shows have been quite good, most of them… uh, no longer need to be.
Continue reading “The 10 Best TV Shows of 2018”
I don’t consider myself an expert on great film. Great TV, yes. Great animation, sure. Great comics, kinda, so long as they involve powerful people in tights. But the world of cinema is too wide and varied for me to get a firm handle on, at least thus far.
Continue reading “The 10 Best Films of 2018”
It’s that time of year again. The time when all the uppity and pretentious critics all hunch over their desks and type out their picks for the best films/shows/books/albums/games/celebrity pratfalls of the last 12 months. As a somewhat uppity and pretentious critic myself (albeit one who doesn’t hunch, for posture purposes), I’m all too eager to join the fray. I’ll be posting my “Best Films of 2018” piece next week, with a “Best TV Shows of 2018” article following shortly after.
Continue reading “10 Great Pop-Culture Books of 2018”
In the hallowed halls of Marvel Comics, past Thor’s hammer, behind Cap’s shield, and just to the left of Wolverine’s adamantium claws, sits the great Spider-Man vault. In it are contained the thousands of stories – both print and screen – centered on everyone’s friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. Spidey has starred in countless comic books, a dozen TV shows, and has had kicked off three different film franchises since the dawn of the new century. Forget market saturation – he’s webbed up the market like one of his arachnidan equivalents, and refuses to set it free.
Continue reading ““Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is the Best Animated Film of the Year”
On Wednesday, the Academy announced that Kevin Hart would host the 2019 Oscars. On Thursday, Hart announced that he would not, in fact, be hosting.
What happened? Some folks had dug up some of Hart’s old tweets and stand-up bits (from around 2010, before his Hollywood breakout) in which he made some homophobic jokes. These tweets quickly spread across the Internet, and a backlash quickly grew against the Academy. Said Academy told Hart to apologize, and although he at first balked (saying that he’d come clean about these jokes in the past, and has changed his tune in the years since), increased pressure finally forced him to acquiesce, and he stepped down from his Oscar-hosting role.
Continue reading “Why the Twitter Mob Keeps Winning”
The Internet is a fascinating and endlessly engrossing compendium of knowledge, allowing anyone to receive any sort of information at any time. There is no limit to the amount of eye-opening facts one can learn from surfing the web, and…
Wait. That’s not right.
Continue reading ““Ralph Breaks the Internet” is a Sweet, Self-Mocking Success”
As I’m writing this, we’ve just come off Halloween, the second-scariest holiday of the year. Now it’s time to move on to the first: Election Day. Yes, as those of you who watch cable news, browse online media, or stare at any screen for more than eight seconds a day probably know, America’s next annual election will be held November 6th. It is a “midterm” election, a term I assume is designed to diminish the already low voter turnout of college students.
Continue reading “My Thoroughly Accurate Predictions for the 2018 Election”
Note: I originally wrote the following as a thesis paper in May 2016. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I’ve decided to share it on the main site, with slight modifications for clarity. The piece contains spoilers for both the novel and the first Blade Runner film. It does not contain any spoilers for Blade Runner 2049, which did not premiere until 2017.
Continue reading “Book vs. Film: Do Androids Dream of Blade Runner?”
On Wednesday, Keira Knightley (appearing on an episode of Ellen) mentioned that she forbade her daughter from watching certain Disney films. Cinderella was on the banned list, because, as Knightley explained it, the protagonist “waits around for a rich guy to rescue her.” The Little Mermaid was also frowned upon because of its purported message – as Knightley put it, “Do not give your voice up for a man.”
Continue reading “In Defense of the Disney Princess”
Rather belatedly, here is the final quarter of my CW history piece. Assuming any of you need a refresher, here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. But if you’re all caught up…
Continue reading “A Brief Unauthorized History of The CW (Part 4)”
I can say with some degree of certainty that Venom is not the worst Marvel film of the decade.
Continue reading ““Venom” is a Symbiotic Mess”
Located in the deepest recesses of the Warner Bros. vault are ninety years’ worth of animated entertainment, just ripe for the plucking, the cherishing, and the repurposing. The Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts. The Hanna-Barbera TV library. Too many DC Comics adaptations to name. Outside of Disney, perhaps no corporation has as wide and diverse an array of animation as Warner does.
Continue reading ““Smallfoot” is a Fake News Allegory, with Snow Monsters”
When it comes to the Emmy Awards, I’ve long held two mindsets. The Jekyll in me wants to root for the nominees I love, and cheer whenever a lesser-known gem takes home the gold. But the Hyde in me is urged to snark my way through the ceremony, mocking the self-important Hollywood types who’ve devoted a dry and often artless night to congratulating themselves.
Continue reading “2018 Emmys: The Revolution that Wasn’t”
[Writer: Mark Goffman | Director: Andrew Bernstein | Aired: 1/19/2005]
“Everyone’s walking around here like we’re finished.” – Leo
There are certain oddities and inconsistencies of The West Wing which must be accepted in order for us to appreciate the show’s finer aspects. The unexplained disappearance of many side characters (did Mandy just get lost on her way to the Sit Room?). The occasional character inconsistencies and continuity errors (pretty much everything involving Zoey Bartlet). The fact that election years are staggered two years against real-life elections (although if they occurred during leap years, as happens in reality, I suppose this episode would have been distractingly titled “366 Days”).
Continue reading “West Wing 6×12: 365 Days”
[Writer: Eli Attie | Director: Chris Misiano | Aired: 1/12/2005 ]
“How do you wanna go broke? As the brown candidate, or as the American candidate?” – Josh
Politicians, despite what cable news may tell us, are not props. They are as human as you or I. They have hang-ups and flaws and quirks and foibles. They have favorite foods and favorite films and families they occasionally get to see.
Continue reading “West Wing 6×11: Opposition Research”
Teen films aren’t as popular as they used to be. The high school genre had its heyday once upon a time, with a renaissance kicked off by the infectiously enjoyable Clueless. Amy Heckerling’s witty comedy (which I reviewed a while back) set off a wave of teen-centered cinema that sparked turn-of-the-century films like Bring It On and 10 Things I Hate About You, before things climaxed in the genre-bending Mean Girls. But in the years since, widely-released teen films have fallen by the wayside, with only the occasional exception (Easy A, The Duff) to shake things up.
Continue reading ““To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is the Best Teen Film in Years”
It should come as no great shock to longtime readers of this site that I loved Teen Titans Go! to the Movies.
Continue reading “The One Problematic Scene in the “Teen Titans” Film”
To the average blockbuster franchise, longevity is often viewed as anathema. Too many times have we seen a film debut to widespread critical and audience acclaim, then get bogged down by increasingly weaker sequels, each more desperate to ride the coattails of the original’s success than the last. The original Superman films, The Pink Panther, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ice Age – all unfortunate examples of what happens when you let a good thing last too long.
Continue reading “All the “Mission: Impossible” Films, Reviewed”
Warning: The following review contains spoilers for Incredibles 2. Proceed with care.
Pixar sequels usually spend a long time in gestation. It was 11 years between the release of the second and third Toy Story films. Then it was 12 years between Monsters Inc. and Monsters University. Then we waited 13 years between Nemo and Dory. And now the studio has broken its record yet again, with a 14-year gap between The Incredibles and Incredibles 2.
Continue reading ““Incredibles 2”, Though More Ambitious, Never Quite Matches the Original”
I was born the same year that Jurassic Park was released in theaters. It was a strange time, or so my mother tells me. Dinosaurs were everywhere – on shirts, mugs, window decals, and Weird Al covers. I was lucky enough to escape the prehistoric merchandising onslaught – my parents never forced me to wear a T-Rex onesie, and none of my plush toys were modeled from the Mesozoic. (Unless you count Barney. But I don’t, nor will I ever, count Barney.)
Continue reading “The “Jurassic Park” Trilogy Didn’t Know When to Go Extinct”
My first experience with acapella music came early in my tween years, when I dug up some old tapes labeled “non-instrumental.” Running them through the recorder, I at first didn’t believe it – those background voices sounded too similar to standard-issue drums and bass guitars. But I quickly caught on to the beatboxing and legato vocals that accompanied each song, and became fascinated by the concept – an entire orchestra composed of nothing but the collective human voice.
Continue reading “The “Pitch Perfect” Trilogy Gave Acapella a Much-Deserved Spotlight”
[Writer: Bradley Whitford | Director: Chris Misiano | Aired: 1/5/2005 ]
“Am I wrong to want to set the record straight? No pun intended?” – CJ
If you’ve been following these reviews for a while, you’ve probably noted that I don’t like The West Wing placing its politics front and center. The show is at its strongest when it points the magnifying glass at its characters, with policies and procedures functioning mainly as story fuel.
Continue reading “West Wing 6×10: Faith Based Initiative”
[Writer: Debora Cahn | Director: Leslie Linka Glatter | Aired: 12/8/2004 ]
“This is the back room.” – Leo
During the teaser sequence of “Impact Winter,” Annabeth and Josh discuss the upcoming press briefing, which will occur during “Take Out the Trash Week.” Annabeth asks Josh if he’s interested in doing the press briefing in Toby’s absence, but Josh swiftly declines, noting what a powder keg the press room can be.
Continue reading “West Wing 6×09: Impact Winter”