Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Called it "a Doctor Who meets Pokémon mashup rewritten into a tangential Harry Potter prequel" that feels like a bad fanfiction and another sign of the dark side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's popularization of modular franchises. The movie's biggest problem is that its most interesting story, which featured Katherine Waterston as a great "Hermione meets Agent Carter" heroine and a bevy of highly watchable supporting players, is relegated to a B-plot until the end while Eddie Redmayne's bland protagonist, whom Bob likens to "a Frankenstein's monster of Tumblr bait" in how he comes across as a ripoff of The Doctor, takes up most of the running time. He gave it one and a half stars, calling it a bad movie that contained the seed of a good movie but never realized its potential until the ending.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: It doubled down on the first movie's mistakes by introducing still more uninteresting characters, replacing narrative with exposition and panderinginvokedContinuity Porn, making the ostensible point Soap Opera-level crap, andbarely being about magical creatures or the misdeeds of Gellert Grindelwald; he gave it the satiric alternative title "Eddie Redmayne and the Confusing Bullshit Nobody Cares About". He gave it half a star and called it the worst prequel he had ever seen, a disgrace to even the worst of the original Harry Potter films, and a symbol of everything wrong with the Shared Universe model of blockbuster filmmaking to be recognized alongside the previous year's remake of The Mummy, such that he wanted to apologize to every inferior prequel he'd ripped to shreds in the past. Later, in the Big Picture episode "Mischief Managed", he said that it was his least favorite film of 2018, comparing it to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in terms of attempted franchise-builders that audiences and critics alike rejected. He heavily criticized Warner Bros.' plans to try to recapture the lightning of the original films with a Modular Franchise, especially given his low opinion of most of the Harry Potterlore that wasn't connected to Hogwarts, making him wonder why they and J. K. Rowling didn't just go with a "next generation" story set there instead.
Fantastic Four (2015): When the trailer first premiered, he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "Fantastic?" He felt that the film was a disaster waiting to happen, between the bad buzz surrounding it, the lack of marketing until just six months before its release, and the fact that, going by the first trailer and the director's statements about the film, it bore almost no resemblance to the source material, looking like a Fantastic Four movie In Name Only. When it came time to review it, he hated it on almost every level he could think of (except the halfway-decent cinematography), saying that it was 20th Century Fox's worst superhero movie yet (dethroning X-Men Origins: Wolverine for that Medal of Dishonor) and even worse than the infamouslybad films it was rebooting. Every performance is awful, the film's version of Doctor Doom is a disgrace, the story is plodding, stupid, and has no reason to be as brooding as it is, and the special effects and overall production values look cheap and flimsy. Even people who just wanted a dumb action movie wouldn't get what they were looking for — Michael Bay's Transformers films actually got an almost-positive comparison because they also had bad screenplays and weak stories but, in Bob's words, "invokedstill make money because explosions". However, as he was expecting it to suck from day one given its well-publicized Troubled Production, his tone from the start was resigned rather than than passionately infuriated by it, disappointed with everybody involved for making such a lazy film.
The following week, he came back to it in the In Bob We Trustepisode "Fantastic Four Sucks Now What?" to discuss the aftermath of the film's bombing with critics and moviegoers, the sort of filmmaking disaster that gets tell-all exposés written about it. Along the way, he spoke at length about how the movie deals Marvel made with various Hollywood studios before they themselves took to making movies are now forcing those studios to make cheap, dirty films to hold onto the franchise rights lest the rights revert back to Marvel (which their corporate rival Disney now owns), and how he not only hopes Fox gives Marvel the Fantastic Four rights back, but sees a plausible way for it to happen (basically 'what if Marvel and Fox traded the X-Men television rights for the Fantastic Four movie rights?').
Fantastic Four (a potential reboot): Devoted a three-partepisode of In Bob We Trust to exploring how he would reboot the franchise (for a second time) if the rights were to return to Marvel, with the characters now existing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The biggest problems it would face are the "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny factor, with most of the innovations that the Fantastic Four brought to comics having since become part and parcel of both superhero comics and superhero movies, and Values Dissonance, with the Four possibly being just too goofy for modern audiences to take seriously. As such, he recommends tackling both problems head-on and making them integral parts of the story. His pitch: in the post-credits scene for the next Marvel movie, an experimental Kennedy-era spacecraft splashes down in the Hudson River, with Ben Grimm, the Thing, punching his way out as a crew of Marvel superheroes, some of whom recognize the ship, looks on. The film itself opens in 1961 with a retelling of the Four's origin story (Reed Richards and his crew break into a launch facility to commandeer a spaceship for an experiment), albeit with their accident not only giving them superpowers, but sending them to The Present Day as well. This produces a Fish out of Temporal Water story as the Four, in their original, kitschy, early '60s Nuclear Family personas, struggle to adjust to life sixty years later with varying degrees of success, with Reed forced to adjust his old-fashioned Standard '50s Father outlook while the rest of the Four embrace the greater freedom and more permissive attitudes of the present day. Stylistically, the film would indulge in a retro-futurist aesthetic lifted from '60s sci-fi and pop culture that Bob compares to "Marvel meets Mad Men".
As for the villain, he recommends not using Doctor Doom, the classic antagonist to the Fantastic Four in the comics, right out of the gate. To use him in the first movie would risk doing a disservice to both him and the Four, and he'd be better saved for the sequel much like how Nolan's Batman films didn't use The Joker until The Dark Knight. Instead, he'd use Philip Masters, the Puppetmaster, as the first villain that the Four take on, crafting a story about Philip and his daughter Alicia (once again serving as Ben Grimm's Love Interest who undergoes a HeelFace Turn upon realizing the depths of her father's villainy) running a startup 'brand management' firm that ostensibly seeks to help the Four craft their image, establish themselves as superheroes, and get up to speed on the new world they're in. It turns out that Philip is secretly manipulating them, staging the Four's media-ready fights against various C-list members of Marvel's Rogues Gallery while estranging Reed from the rest of the team, with an endgame of killing Reed Richards and Sue Storm and elevating Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm as the most marketable — and most easily manipulated — members of the Four. The Four and Alicia figure out Philip's goal and defeat him (in a battle that sees Philip controlling robot versions of the Avengers in order to get some traditional Puppetmaster action in there), with the Four realizing the power of teamwork and how much stronger they are together, and Reed in particular culminating his arc of learning to not be too controlling by defeating a villain who represents the embodiment of such.
After that, he plans out a potential franchise, with four films focused on each of the Four. Doom comes in with the second film, the aging, absolute ruler of a secretive, North-Korea-in-Europe dictatorship with a long-standing grudge against Reed dating to the '60s. His efforts to ruin the Four's day cause Johnny to lash out and cause an international incident as he attacks Latveria himself over the objections of the US government and the rest of the Four, forcing Reed, Sue, and Ben to go over there and save him while Johnny learns a lesson about selflessness and his rash behavior. Doom is defeated but survives, to become a recurring villain for other Marvel heroes to face. The third film, focused on Sue, would introduce the Love Triangle between Reed, Sue, and Namor the Sub-Mariner and would see Marvel tackling a steamy romantic story with Reed and Sue, while Johnny and Ben get the bulk of the action scenes as they fight Namor. Finally, the fourth film, focused on Ben, would have the Mole Man as the villain as a foil for him (both being people who turn their backs on a world that thinks they're grotesque), and as a ready source of monster mooks for Ben to punch in the face. As for Galactus, he thinks that a world-destroying doomsday villain like that should be reserved for one of the Avengers movies and not a Fantastic Four standalone, though the Four would of course play a role in fighting him.
The Fast and the Furious: He used to dislike the series. He still feels that The Fast and the Furious (2001) was either So Okay, It's Average or outright bad depending on how he's feeling at the time, and only successful because of macho, gangsta-wannabe teenage boys who idolized Vin Diesel, who he regards as a non-entity in terms of screen presence and charisma. He called 2 Fast 2 Furious "a weaksauce cousin to the Bad Boys movies," The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift better than the first two only due to its lack of connection to those films, and Fast & Furious "dull as hell". However, he, like many critics, started coming around once the films began embracing their crazy action set-pieces rather than taking themselves too seriously. The addition of Dwayne Johnson, a genuine Action Hero, to the franchise was a much-needed antidote to Diesel, and the gaps in narrative logic are easily forgiven on account of the Rule of Cool. He also praises the series for being one of the strongest and most unlikely bastions of racial and gender equality in Hollywood. After all, what other blockbuster action franchise has the guy who, in any other such film, would be the White Male Lead as only one character in an ensemble of men and women of many ethnicities, each of whom is him- or herself a complete and compelling character?
Fast Five: Felt that it was a couple of cool (but not spectacular) car chases bookending an over-long, boring story that's too caught up in phony machismo, taking way too long to get genuinely good. He also expressed surprise at how the franchise was still going strong for a whole decade.
Fast & Furious 6: The first film in the series that Bob enjoyed unironically. It's a phenomenal action movie that, while silly and dopey, never overstays its welcome, and possesses more depth than the rest of the series put together. The stunts here are amazing, and unlike the last movie, the action here is nonstop rather than being loaded at the beginning and end with a dull second act in between. In the Big Picture episode "Summer's End", he declared it one of his top ten movies of summer 2013.
Furious 7: "Not as good as 6, but still about as much fun." The series, like many other long-running franchises, has fallen into self-parody at this point (a process that Bob felt took so long that few people noticed), but he argues the films work far better than they used to now that they're treating their stupidity like a feature rather than a bug, exploiting it for some Crazy Awesome stunts.note He feels that F&Fs making self-parody films works much better than Jaws 3D and Superman III did, because the Jaws and Superman filmmakers had proved they could make good movies that were still reasonably serious. He does fear that the series may be running its course, with the characters starting to blend together and the action now so ridiculous that the only way they can top themselves is to go straight-up sci-fi with the eighth film. Still, as a fun action movie that doesn't actively insult the viewer's intelligence, it comes highly recommended.
The Fate of the Furious: invoked"Still a good time, just maybe not as great of a time this time." The story was pretty junky thanks to a large number of potentially intriguing story ideas that either went nowhere or simply made no sense, while the absence of the late Paul Walker blew a big hole in the cast's dynamic and chemistry, with the attempt to make Diesel into the new lead never working out. He gave it two and a half stars and said it was still worth watching for the stunts and the action scenes, but unlike the last two movies, it never transcended expectations to become something amazing.
Hobbs & Shaw: It was a good Fast & Furious movie in everything but name, albeit a slightly more comedic buddy cop-flavored version thereof reminiscent of Mission: Impossible minus the self-seriousness. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham had great chemistry as the leads playing riffs on their public personas and most famous roles, the rest of the cast acquitted themselves well, and it had some of the most proudly meatheated Testosterone Poisoning ever seen in a big-budget action movie. He gave it a 7 out of 10 and said that, while it wasn't exactly a smart movie, it wasn't trying to be anything more than just a fun, late-summer action flick, and it did that remarkably well.
Fences: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2016 he called it his seventh-favorite film of the year. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis give great performances, and it successfully combines the intimate feel of the stage play with the greater scope afforded by the medium of film.
Fever Pitch: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. Him being from Boston gave him something of a personal connection to this film, mainly by virtue of the fact that all of his Red Sox-loving male neighbors and their dogs seemed to have seen it despite it being the sort of Strictly FormulaRomantic Comedy that they'd normally avoid like the plague. It has some fun jokes and a solid soundtrack, and Drew Barrymore makes for a likable female lead, so if you're in the mood for a run-of-the-mill rom-com, you can do worse. Beyond that, though, he gave it a 5 out of 10 and recommended it only as a rental for Sox fans (who'd be better off rewatching the documentary Faith Rewarded).
The Fifth Estate: The film stumbles in comparison to what stands as the great 21st-century-computer-geek movie, The Social Network, and the fact that the story of Wikileaks is still ongoing means that the film can't really come to a proper conclusion. However, it's still a nice diversion, and Benedict Cumberbatch is wonderfully hammy as Julian Assange. Bob describes the film as a cautionary tale about how overzealous idealism (in this case, that of many "hacktivists") can clash with how the world actually works. He also goes into detail on the divide between the summer and fall movie seasons, particularly how summer blockbusters often go out of their way to be apolitical while the subject matter of fall films tends to revolve around heavily political topics. Reviewed it in the Intermission editorial "Fifth Estate, Third Rail".
Fifty Shades of Black: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2016 he named it his ninth-least favorite movie of the year. It's a waste of the Wayans' talents that completely misses the opportunity to comment on how movies about sex and sexuality so rarely feature black casts, instead settling for being "a slapdash send-up" of
Fifty Shades of Grey: The first film that Bob reviewed after leaving The Escapist.note "Heh, like it was gonna be that easy to get rid of me." He found it to be an absolutely awful movie even by the very low standards of what's basically softcore porn, with a terrible, meandering script, uninspired direction, a leading man with no charisma or screen presence, characters who made no sense, and a portrayal of BDSM culture and relationships in general so misguided that it would have been offensive had the film had any substance. It's not even a particularly sexy film, with its sex and bondage scenes coming off as more laughable than hot, and its two leads having zero chemistry. The only thing that surprised him was that anybody expected it to be any good, or even to have anything worth talking about. In his opinion, it would have been better off if it had gone all-out and embraced the cheesiness of its lurid, sleazy subject matter and source material like any number of classic erotic films, rather than play it all so safe and 'respectable' like it was ashamed of what it was.
Fifty Shades Darker: Didn't see it in 2017, the year it came out, because he had the option to pass on it at the time and took it, which prevented him from putting it on his list of the worst films of 2017. By the time he reviewed its own sequel the next year, he had seen it
Fifty Shades Freed: "Ninety minutes of married fucking... oh boy!" He has a hard time really hating on this series given that it never aspires to deliver anything more than shameless Wish Fulfillment fantasies for horny soccer moms, but he can't even get into it on that low level. It's a surreal display of Porn Without Plot that had him repeating his criticism of the first film: that it probably could have been good, or at least fun, if it embraced its campiness in a manner not unlike the Fast & the Furious films (only with actual sex scenes) instead of taking itself way too seriously, which winds up turning it into "the most boring, limp, and lifeless film ever to feature this much gratuitous nudity." He gave it one star and said that, while it's not the worst thing ever, he might have been more entertained if it was.
Fight Club: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "'Gone Girl' and When Good Movies Happen to Bad People", where he brought it up in comparison to another David Fincher film, Gone Girl, which had just come out at the time. He talked about how what was arguably the film's biggest fandom wound up being among the very people it was mocking, who embraced Tyler Durden's messages about reclaiming masculinity completely unironically, even though the film was a deconstruction of those ideas that painted Tyler and his followers as complete idiots. He briefly came back to it in his Really That Goodepisode on The Matrix, comparing it to that film as a fellow work of late '90s counterculture rebellion. He admits that, when he first saw the film, he bought right into Tyler's message and saw him as a Magneto-like Well-Intentioned Extremist who had good ends but awful means, but as time went on and his own views evolved, he increasingly came to recognize Tyler as utterly monstrous from start to finish, and the entire film a scathing, no-holds-barred takedown of his worldview.
The Fighter: The world didn't really need another inspirational boxing movie in the vein of Rocky, but when it's this good, one can forgive it. Christian Bale steals the show with the best performance of his career, and Bob (who is from the Boston area) was totally convinced by the film's portrayal of working-class Massachusetts. He also discusses why so many Oscar Bait movies get released during the holiday season when nobody's in the mood for those kinds of films.
Fighting with My Family: It was a fairly conventional sports flick that did a fair bit of sanitizing of its subject matter, but Florence Pugh's performance as Paige elevated it, as did the spectacle of the world of WWE that the film is set in, making it as much a showbiz movie as it is a sports movie. Overall, it earned three stars and a recommendation as a good time at the movies even for those who aren't wrestling fans.
Final Destination: Found the first movie to be an amazingly imaginative and original change of pace for the horror genre so, of course, they had to run that idea into the ground with sequels.
Finding Dory: Calls it the inverse of the usual Pixar formula in that, while the studio is famous for making films with stories that are a lot darker than they look on the surface, this one is a film whose tone is a lot more lighthearted than its subject matter would suggest. The Marine Life Institute looks like it's the sort of place that will turn into a major source of Surprise Creepy in the third act of a usual Pixar film, but it never does. It's probably for the better that the film plays out like this, though, as had the film spent much longer dwelling on its actual themes it might have gotten way too dark for children in any case. He discusses how the film expands on Finding Nemos themes of living with disability, taking Dory's forgetfulness (which is Played for Laughs in both that film and this one) and giving a layer of Ascended Fridge Horror and poignancy to it by revealing that she's actually suffering from short-term memory loss. Overall, it's not as good as Finding Nemo, but it's still a very good movie that tries something quite different from the original and makes it work, in which regard Bob compares it to Monsters University.
First Man: Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling doing a film about Neil Armstrong's journey to the moon was about as perfect a pairing of director, star, and material as Bob could think of, and the result was one of Gosling's best performances and the first Chazelle film that really clicked for him. While the film's two initial narrative arcs, concerning Armstrong's grief over losing his daughter to cancer and his stoic commitment to the Apollo mission, never really seemed to mesh, its real narrative arc, concerning him rediscovering his faith in science and human ingenuity after doctors failed to save his daughter, absolutely worked. While he admitted that he was an easy mark for this subject matter, he still found it worthy of three-and-a-half stars and named it his fifth-favorite film of 2018.
First Reformed: Called it the "gritty reboot of Captain Planet" by way of Paul Schrader that he didn't know he wanted. Its story, about a priest who'd lost his faith only to discover a new fire-and-brimstone worldview in the form of radical environmentalism, may sound similar to Schrader's Taxi Driver and Hardcore at first glance, but while the Broad Strokes of the story do fall into that wheelhouse, the film otherwise proves to be something else entirely. At its core, it's an actor's showcase, with Ethan Hawke delivering a magnificent performance as the protagonist, Amanda Seyfried finally getting a meatier role that lets her do more than just let her eyes do the acting, and Cedric the Entertainer's crooked megachurch pastor making for a surprisingly nuanced figure. He gave it three stars and said that it fell short of greatness but was still firmly recommended (though, by the end of 2018, he had considered it his eighth-favorite movie of the year), as long as you make sure to do something uplifting after watching it in order to get out of the funk that it will likely put you in.
The Flash (2022): He discussed it in the In Bob We Trust episodes "Flashpoint for Batfleck?" and "How to Fix the DCEU". He sees a lot of really fun and bizarre possibilities in this film, but most of all, he sees it as an admission on the part of Warner Bros. that they botched the opening act of the DC Extended Universe, backed themselves into a corner, and they intend to use a multiverseCrisis Crossover to set things right. With this film, it feels like they're testing the waters for a soft reboot, one that gets rid of things that people didn't like about prior films while introducing new concepts and seeing how audiences react to those. It could also be a backdoor way to recast Ben Affleck if the rumors are true about him leaving the franchise, introducing a new Bruce Wayne/Batman as an Alternate Universe version of the character who becomes the main Batman later. The concept he came up with for how he'd do this film largely hewed to these ideas, with The Flash using his powers to travel through time and the butterflies he leaves behind laying the groundwork for the 'new' DCEU, though such wouldn't be the focus of the story and would only come up at the end of what would otherwise be a mostly self-contained, straightforward film (albeit with plenty of Mythology Gags for longtime DC fans). While he fears that this film might set a horrible precedent for other studios making superhero movies, he's interested in seeing how this one, at least, turns out.
The Fog (the 2005 remake): Didn't review it, but in the In Bob We Trust episode "Top 10 Worst Remakes Ever", he ranked it number six. It's a disgrace to the original 1980 film by John Carpenter, which Bob has long thought underrated; the only reason he thinks the remake isn't more widely reviled is because it's so bland that most people forget about it before it has even ended.
For Love of the Game: Sam Raimi's most "out there" movie in terms of it being the last thing you'd expect him to direct (a light, modest, coming-of-middle-age drama?). It's still a good movie, though, and a great Father's Day gift. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "Sam the Man - Part II", a retrospective of Raimi's career.
Force: Five: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode on invokedSo Bad, It's Good action movies to watch during quarantine. The plot was "team of commandos sent to a martial artist's island to take him out" action movie boilerplate, save for the fact that all of the heroes were "the martial arts guy".
Ford V Ferrari: Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019, calling it "The Godfather for gearheads" and saying that the only thing puzzling about it for him was why 20th Century Fox didn't release a film seemingly so hyper-targeted at the tastes of middle-aged dads on Father's Day weekend. In his review, he called it a thoughtful historical drama that explored the intersection of business, masculinity, struggle, emotional growth, creativity, and competition in the American psyche... and also a friggin' awesome "man's man" film about cool cars, the making and racing thereof, and all-American grit, such that he spent the review alternating between his normal "critic voice" analyzing the nuances of the film's story and characters and that of a Bawstin bro in a leather jacket gushing over all the cool stuff and macho swagger that the movie was packed with. It was an extraordinarily well-made film with a deep, insightful, and funny story, lots of great racing action, and a nuanced exploration of masculinity that avoided falling into toxicity. He gave it a 9 out of 10 and called it one of the year's best films, and at the end of 2019 he named it his fourth-favorite film of the year.
Fortress (1992): Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode paying tribute to the recently-deceased filmmaker Stuart Gordon. It may not be a particularly smart or insightful film, but it had lots of entertaining sci-fi action on a bigger budget than one would normally expect from a film such as this, so it's hard to go wrong.
Four Lions: An audacious and hilarious satire in the vein of Mel Brooks that works best in the contrast between its bumbling main characters and the horror of what they are planning to do, while giving viewers a surprisingly deep look into the mindset of a terrorist. However, some of the British pop culture jokes might be lost on American viewers, and director Chris Morris' background in TV comedy is obvious.
Foxcatcher: An intriguing exploration of masculinity and privilege gone wrong, as well as a great actor's showcase for Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and an unrecognizable Mark Ruffalo. He gave it three and a half stars, recommending it for anyone looking for a dark, low-key drama.
Frankenstein Conquers the World: Didn't review it, but in the In Bob We Trustepisode "Keep Circulating the Tapes" (a list of ten movies he'd most like to see riffed on a twelfth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000), he named it at number six. He cited its generally bizarre plotting and incongruously human-looking kaiju monster as his reason, though he noted that it or its sequel War of the Gargantuas would be, by default, the best movie in that subgenre MST3K had ever featured.
Frankenweenie: All of Tim Burton's usual strengths and weaknesses his solid eye for style and mood, his unsure hand with narrative and plot are on full display here. This film does far too little to capitalize on the big ideas it raises, instead becoming a more conventional riff on classic monster movies, and the main story is fairly unfocused. However, its still one of Burtons better films, with Bob arguing that Burton is at his best when he has a personal connection to the material (e.g. in this case). The basic concept of remaking Frankenstein (1931) with a boy and his dog is still golden, even with all the fluff added to pad the film to feature-length. He also discusses the irony of how Disney rejected Burtons original Frankenweenie short in the 80s for being too dark and creepy, only to fund a big-budget remake of it (with the creepiness cranked Up to Eleven, mind) decades later once Burton became a superstar. Reviewed it in his Intermission editorial "Old Dog".
Free Fire: Before he reviewed it, he named it his sixth most anticipated film of 2017. The premise of an entire movie that was basically one long gunfight was enough to get him interested ("now that's economical storytelling!"), as was the 1970s Boston setting and the writing team behind it (Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump, makers of Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England, and High-Rise). When he reviewed it, he gave it three stars; he wouldn't have complained had it just been an Excuse Plot for director Wheatley to show that he'd learned a few gun choreography tricks from John Woo or had "a similarly elaborate mastery of spatial geography," but it went in a pleasantly offbeat direction. He praised it for its painstaking detail, both in its recreation of its setting and its hyper-realistic depiction of the messiness of gunfights among Stupid Crooks (save the lone woman involved). It wasn't as thematically weighty as past Wheatley-Jump collaborations, which seemed to have been a deliberate choice, but great performances from Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, and surprisingly enough, Armie Hammer made it very fun for its modest aims and running time.
Fright Night (2011): "One vampire, no sparkling, great summer movie." Even though it's just cashing in on Twilight and the nostalgia appeal of the original film, it's still a pretty good movie that holds up well compared to the original, with great performances, lots of humor, and everything that one could want from a vampire horror flick. In particular, he praised it for being smarter than the usual splatter film and for being the first "modernized" horror remake he'd seen that actually feels modern beyond just moving the setting into the present day. The only thing that didn't really click with him was the new version of Peter Vincent; while David Tennant gives a great performance in the role, the character (updated to a Criss Angel-esque magician) feels like he wandered in from a different movie.
From Beyond: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode paying tribute to the recently-deceased filmmaker Stuart Gordon. He called it "gooey and weird and a little scattershot" and not quite as good as Gordon's other H. P. Lovecraft adaptation Re-Animator, but he still recommended it for fans of that movie as a great, gory reunion of its cast and director.
From Hell It Came: invokedThe Values Dissonance in its portrayals of South Pacific islanders and women is laughable from a modern standpoint, as is the film's monster, which might have been interesting on paper but just looks silly on screen. The result is a film that practically defines the '50s B-grade monster movie. He also discusses America's fascination with "Polynesian" culture in the '50s and early '60s, the result of American servicemen coming back from the South Pacific after World War II. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Big PictureSchlocktober special for 2013, and in the In Bob We Trustepisode "Keep Circulating the Tapes" (a list of ten movies he'd most like to see riffed on a twelfth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000), he named it at number one.
Frozen: invoked It was a damn shame that the ads for this film were so misleading as to what it was actually about, because it was far better than the lightweight DreamWorks ripoff that it was marketed as. It was the best movie Disney had made since Mulan, a modern update and critique of their Renaissance Age princess/musical formula that breathed new life into it without falling into the trap of turning into something like Shrek. The story and character dynamics, particularly the relationship between the sisters Elsa and Anna, were amazing, and the film never lost sight of this, with its musical numbers, comedy, etc. all serving the story rather than the other way around. Idina Menzel was also amazing as Elsa, and while Kristen Bell's performance as Anna was often stereotypically "Disney Princess" almost to the point of parody, in the context of the film it worked brilliantly. At the end of 2013, he named it one of his ten favorite films of the year.
That same week, he also wrote an Intermissioneditorial dissecting the film's plot and further outlining the reasons why he loved it. Without spoiling anything, he felt that the film's big twist and the direction that the third act took were not only among the best "gotcha" moments in the history of children's movies (he said that future versions of The Nostalgia Critic will remember it as a touchstone for kids of this generation), but that it was modern Disney explicitly repudiating a lot of the more questionable messages of their Renaissance Age canon, calling Anna and Elsa the first "feminist" Disney Princesses and Elsa especially a potential gay icon in the making. On a similar note, in "To Spoil or Not to Spoil?", he used Frozen as an example of how film critics treat spoilers in films, pointing out that the fact that Hans was the villain was a closely guarded secret, while Elsa's story and how it fitted as a gay metaphor was the subject of articles and headlines from day one.
Frozen II: Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. He was interested in seeing how Disney was going to follow up a smash hit that surprised even them with just how much of a turning point it became for the studio's animation division, especially given how much of the story had been a closely-guarded secret. When he reviewed it, he said that there was no way it was gonna live up to the original given how much of a lightning-in-a-bottle thing it was, but it still wound up "shockingly good" and earned an 8 out of 10. The plot and mythology felt like a winter-season Disneyfication of any number of Final Fantasy games, and he more or less welcomed the resulting Genre Shift into a fantasy epic that wasn't afraid to take the series and the characters in new, sometimes dark directions, even if he felt that Kristoff and the new characters got short shrift. And while there weren't any musical numbers as instantly memorable as "Let It Go", the music too was very good. He also made fun of Disney for attaching itself to LGBTQ+ rights causes only when it's convenient, in this case continuing to play Hide Your Lesbians with Elsa even though the queer subtext is more unmistakable than ever.
Fruitvale Station: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2013 he named it one of his ten favorite films of the year. He briefly details the real-life incident that the story is based on, and between that subtext constantly hanging in the background and an amazing lead actor in Michael B. Jordan, what emerges is a film that is "rough, gripping, and tough to watch" and especially potent given how the sorts of Police Brutality incidents that the film is based on are still happening all too frequently.
Fury: "A good, brutal war movie that breaks the mold." It takes a basic World War II movie story and stands out by subverting it and taking it in some very dark directions, going against the style of many 'old-fashioned' war movies by portraying its heroes as average Joes doing dirty work rather than idealized images of patriotism. Not only does it have some standout action scenes and a great leading performance by Brad Pitt, it's also a great exploration of the dark side of war and how it changes and dehumanizes soldiers. He gave it four stars, saying that, while it wasn't a masterpiece, it was still the best action film in theaters at the time.
Gamer: Nice to see a movie about video games that doesn't demonise games and gamers, but still a waste of your time and money. Don't bother.
Giant Monster Gamera: It was a pretty blatant but still enjoyable Godzillaclone that stood out mainly for its child protagonist, seemingly in recognition of the target audience of many '60s kaiju films, and the various unusual tricks that Gamera had up his sleeve beyond just stomping around Tokyo and breathing fire. He noted that the former quickly became Gamera's main gimmick, as he was portrayed as a Friend to All Children in the sequels.
Gamera: Super Monster: The final Showa-era film, he found this to be dreadful, a mess of Stock Footage of prior films so bad that he understood why Noriaka Yuasa, the creator of the Gamera franchise, decided to kill the character off just so that he would be spared the indignity of another sequel.
Gangster Squad: Bob had been looking forward to this movie thanks to director Ruben Fleischer (maker of Zombieland; he hoped this would make up for 30 Minutes or Less) and its great cast, but instead he got a mess of bad decisions, shallow characters, some questionable performances, and a story that feels rushed and meandering. He attributes some of this to the film's hasty editing in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting, but many of its problems run much deeper than that. It tries to combine old-school gangster movie tropes with the feel of a modern action movie, ultimately failing at both and coming off as derivative of countless other, better gangster flicks.
Gemini Man: Didn't review it, but he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. He detailed how it had long been one of the most famous unfilmed scripts in Hollywood and how, over the course of its twenty-year production history, countless action stars had been attached to it, only for it to always be hamstrung by the fact that the special effects needed to de-age the protagonist were never quite there... until now. With Ang Lee and Will Smith involved, he was excited to see how it finally turns out.
The Gentlemen: A quality invokedWin Back the Crowd effort from Guy Ritchie after a number of disappointments, one in which he went back to his roots with a comedic British crime caper to great effect. The plot at times felt a bit too on-the-nose and cute about itself, and some of its edgier humor felt less organic and more like Ritchie had something to prove, but Matthew McConaughey's Smug Snake villain performance was a highlight, Charlie Hunnam gave a career-best performance (even taking into account Sons of Anarchy), and Ritchie was still one of the best in the business at this kind of movie. He gave it a 7 out of 10 and said that Ritchie still had it.
Geostorm: Didn't review it, but he named it #8 on his list of ten 2017 films that he most expected to suck. The behind-the-scenes stories of its heavily Troubled Production, which saw two years and $15 million worth of reshoots to make it not suck while original director Dean Devlin (Roland Emmerichs longtime collaborator making his directorial debut) was replaced with Jerry Bruckheimer and the director of 1995s Judge Dredd, were enough to sink his hopes for the films quality. The ridiculous plot (terrorists hijack a Weather-Control Machine to assassinate the President) and the fact that it starred Gerard Butler were only cherries on top.
Get Out (2017): Before he reviewed it, he named it his fifth most anticipated film of 2017. The plot, which is basically The Stepford Wivesnote Or, for those of you who dont acknowledge the existence of anything cultural produced before the 1990s, Disturbing Behavior. with racism instead of patriarchy, was one of those things that Bob was surprised hadnt been done yet, and the fact that it was made by Jordan Peele only had him more interested. When he reviewed it, he gave it four stars and called it the best film he had seen by that point in 2017,note It was released in the United States that February 24. beginning the review by gushing over its uniqueness as a great film that was also a directorial debut, and as a distinctly African American horror movie. What made it great was that, unlike most Hollywood movies about racism, which he sees as at least partly intended to make modern liberal white audiences feel superior for being on the correct side of Values Dissonance, this movie says much more by having its stable of antagonists be seemingly consciously non-racist Bourgeois Bohemians rather than obvious bigots. As a narrative benefit, making the racism subtler also meant giving the slow build of tension more room to get under viewers skin. Furthermore, whereas he thought The Stepford Wives lost a step in its third act once the protagonist and audience learned the full truth, Get Out is just as effective as a straightforward survive-the-bad-guys horror film as it is as a topical thriller. At the end of 2017, he named it his second-favorite movie of the year, calling it "the movie of 2017" and Peele an heir apparent to George A. Romero and Rod Serling, and in his 2018 Academy Awards preview he named Peele first among equals out of his three favorites (the others being Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water and Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird) to win Best Director.note Del Toro won Best Director. At the start of 2020, he named it one of the ten defining films of The New '10s for how it managed to fuse old-school B-Movie horror, Black Comedy, and biting social commentary.
Ghostbusters (1984): After leaving The Escapist, he devoted the first episode of his show Really That Good to discussing this film and why he loved it. What he feels makes it truly great is that the film's humor and plot both work, independently of each other. On one hand, the central story and mythology were good enough to stand on their own even without the jokes surrounding them, while on the other, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Dan Aykroyd also brought their comic A-game and made what would have still been a hilarious movie with compelling characters even if the plot was forgettable. As it stood, the two sides reinforced each other, and the film pulled off a high-wire act of being very funny without letting the humor detract from the real stakes in the story. Despite some Values Dissonance (which he felt was ameliorated by context) and some underdeveloped supporting characters like Zeddemore and Janine, he found it to be very close to perfect. He later came back to it, in a Really That Goodshort subject released after the announcement of a second reboot helmed by Ivan Reitman's son Jason Reitman, to discuss where it succeeded and its 2016 reboot failed, particularly in terms of how modern blockbuster filmmaking disincentivizes plot structure.
He also examined the film's themes and subtext. He described the story as one where science and ingenuity (represented by the Ghostbusters) take on religion and superstition (represented by the ancient god Gozer) and defeat it comprehensively, making it feel like something of a reaction to the rise of the Christian Right and the wave of Religious Horror at the time. He also looked at its populism and rejection of a chosen one narrative in favor of the Ghostbusters being self-made, working class heroes who vanquish the things that go bump in the night through their own tools and talent, which he felt was the real reason why the film has resonated so much with kids since its release (more than just the monsters, ghosts, and laser blasts).
That said, as discussed in the In Bob We Trustepisode "Is Ghostbusters Really a Franchise?", when he revisited the film in 2016 (just before the reboot came out) he was surprised as to how its stature in the modern pop culture seemed far smaller than he remembered it. While Gen-Xers like himself who were kids when it first came out cherished it as a classic on the level of Star Wars (something that he feels was one of the driving forces behind the backlash against the reboot), many other people that he spoke to about it, both older and younger than him, seemed to regard it as just one great comedy from an era that produced many great comedies, ranking it alongside films like Caddyshack, Animal House, National Lampoon's Vacation, and The Blues Brothers instead. He attributes at least some of this to the fact that its first sequel was the animated series The Real Ghostbusters, a show that, while a hit with kids and still beloved by those who watched it, didn't register at all with adults. He feels that nostalgia for The Real Ghostbusters may well be hamstringing attempts to make a good Ghostbusters sequel, as the dream sequel of many fans, one that combines the original movie with the cartoon despite their radically different tones, would be all but impossible to make.
Ghostbusters II: Called it "shit-awful" and "the Independence Day: Resurgence of its time", and held it up as an example of why remaking or otherwise revisiting Ghostbusters on the big screen was a bad idea in the first place. After all, if the original cast (two of whom were also the screenwriters) and director of the original film couldn't make a sequel that lived up to the original, then anybody else would have an even harder uphill battle doing the same. He also cited it in "Is Ghostbusters Really a Franchise?" as an example of how, while the fans of the original who then grew up with The Real Ghostbusters came to see Ghostbusters as a franchise, the films' creators didn't see it that way, made evident by how this film was basically a soft reboot of the first in all but name. Overall, given how this film turned out, he considered it a relief that they never made a 'proper' Ghostbusters III, given that, in all likelihood, it would have been either a bunch of over-the-hill actors doing yet another retread of the original or a 'next generation' film starring a group of 'hip' teen stars.
Ghostbusters (2016): Before he reviewed it, he discussed his thoughts on the trailer in an editorial for Screen Rant, in an article written after James Rolfe's declaration that he wouldn't be seeing the film, and in the In Bob We Trustepisode "Ghostbusters: Why Get So Angry?" He thought it looked terrible, both because remakes of classic films rarely work well (especially when the original was as much a lightning-in-a-bottle thing as the original Ghostbusters) and because the trailer was one of the worst he'd seen in a very long time, wasting a talented cast on what looks like Adam Sandler-grade pratfalls. That said, he considered the idea of doing the remake with an all-female lead cast to be among the few inspired decisions in the production, calling it "the best possible version of a really fuckin' stupid idea", partly because it prevents the obvious comparisons to the cast of the original, partly because the women they cast were essentially a 'who's who' of some of the best comedians (male or female) working then, and partly because it could have been used to add some interesting subtext to the story. He laments how the film (going by the trailers) seems to be squandering all of this and fears that it will likely set back the representation of women in Hollywood blockbusters by several years, even invoking Catwoman (2004) and Elektra as likely precedents from the last decade. Overall, he feels that singling out the all-female lead cast for criticism not only holds some very uncomfortable undercurrents (especially given that many past remakes of classics looked just as bad before they came out yet weren't targeted with nearly the same vitriol), but makes it harder to criticize the film on its own merits without being viewed as sympathizing with ragingly sexist assholes and getting dragged into the broader internet culture wars. It's a film where, regardless of its ultimate quality, he feels it will be impossible to review honestly and objectively for at least five years, when all the controversy has faded.
However, when he came around to review it (in his first review for Geek.com), he was pleasantly surprised, even if he still felt that it paled in comparison to the original and that remaking such a film was still a bad idea. The first two acts were very fun, combining a talented cast with strong comedy that rarely failed, and the characters, particularly Patty and Holtzmann, were much more likable than the trailers had indicated. The final act was where most of the movie's issues came from, as he found the main villain to be too one-dimensional to be threatening (even if he liked the basic idea for him), and the editing caused most of the plot around this point to feel rushed.note Ironically, as such, despite being called Ghostbusters, it has more in common with another early-1980s Bill Murray/Harold Ramis vehicle, Stripes, a film that was hilarious in its first two acts but fell apart once the plot took over in act three. The action sequences were serviceable, but didn't have enough character to add weight to the film's story. Overall, Bob gave it three stars, said that the hate directed towards the film was way overblown, and expressed his hopes for a sequel that had a stronger story that the characters deserved, calling it remarkable that the film turned out decent at all. He later returned to the film in another In Bob We Trustepisode wherein he said that, while his opinion on the film hadn't changed, he did feel that making the film a sequel rather than a reboot, with the surviving original cast members returning in their original roles, would have softened much of the fan backlash and strengthened the central plot considerably. That said, if they do make another film, he feels that it ought to be a sequel to this film that (A) fixes its main story weaknesses (he tossed around a number of potential plot ideas), (B) doesn't rehash its character dynamic (which was Ghostbusters II's worst shortcoming), and (C) doesn't try to connect it to the originals, arguing that that ship has sailed and that trying either to recreate the original films' villains or connect the two universes through comic book-style "IP management as storytelling" temporal mumbo-jumbo would be a disaster.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife: invoked Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episodes "Ghosted" and "Backward, to Go Forward". He noted that all the planning and hype around this film felt like the polar opposite of that around the 2016 reboot, explicitly playing to nostalgia to the point of hiring Jason Reitman, son of the first two films' director Ivan Reitman, to direct. He thinks that the "Ghostbusters meets Stranger Things" premise sounds fun, even saying that the 2016 movie likely wouldn't have faced the backlash it did had it used this premise. On the other hand, the first trailer left him wondering where the sense of humor was (to the point where it lacked even the iconic theme song), arguing that its seeming reverence for the original missed the fact that said original was also a famously irreverent comedy. It was for this reason that he declined to put it on his list of his most anticipated films of 2020, feeling that the trailer went overboard with nostalgia to the point where it felt like invokedpandering. He also lamented how a misstatement by Jason Reitman wound up merely enflaming and polarizing the fanbase, illustrating that the controversy surrounding the 2016 reboot could still repeat itself — and that he'd once again have to discuss Ghostbusters due to controversy swirling around it, which he called a "monkey's paw" wish and compared to Stantz accidentally conjuring up the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Ghost in the Shell: It's both a classic cyberpunk story and one of the few anime works that he feels manages to break out of the otaku ghetto in the West, but it's also one that suffers badly from "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny syndrome, its influence having caused over two decades' worth of sci-fi stories, from The Matrix to Ex Machina all the way to even Zootopia, to copy so much of its story and style that it can now feel derivative in the genre it blazed a trail in. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of its Hollywood Live-Action Adaptation...
Ghost in the Shell (the American adaptation): The aforementioned "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny problem turns out to be this film's Achilles' Heel, especially given that it does nothing to expand on the source material, instead offering a lifeless retread of things that both the original anime and quite a few of its imitators have done better. Scarlett Johansson was fine as the Major, even if the role felt like a gift-wrapped opportunity to be a Japanese actress' Hollywood breakout, but the character was so thinly-written in this version that he's actually kind of grateful that it wound up getting whitewashed and allowing that unknown actress to dodge a bullet. (Likewise, without spoiling anything, he felt that the film missed a golden opportunity to comment on and satirize the sort of whitewashing it was being criticized for, instead merely giving ammunition to its critics in that regard.) He gave it two stars and called it a film that might have been more enjoyable had it been an out-and-out fiasco rather than painfully mediocre.
Ghosts Can't Do It: Didn't review it, but in the In Bob We Trustepisode "Keep Circulating the Tapes" (a list of ten movies he'd most like to see riffed on a twelfth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000), he named it at number seven. While he didn't want to see MST3K do partisan political comedy for its own sake, he couldn't help but wonder how the show would make fun of Donald Trump, who had then-recently become the President of the United States, and his Golden Raspberry Award-winning cameo As Himself in this movie. He also observed that even then, the movie still had a plot so dumb he had to append a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer to his description.
The Gift (2000): Finds it to be overrated and one of Sam Raimi's lesser efforts, especially compared to his other later-career films. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "Sam the Man - Part II", a retrospective of Raimi's career.
G.I. Joe: Discussed rebooting the film franchise in a "How to Fix" episode of In Bob We Trust. The big problem with adapting G.I. Joe to the big screen is that the canon is pretty difficult to pin down, with the G.I. Joe force's capabilities varying greatly between the comics and the animated series — and that's before you get into the Early Installment Weirdness with COBRA having originated as an anti-government militia group. His idea: have the Joes as a small, clandestine force that exists across the branches of the military and intelligence services and answers only to the President and a select few others, composed of the rogues and loose cannons of the armed forces in order to explain the colorful personalities and Mildly Military nature of the organization.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: This movie was enjoyable, surprising even Bob himself. He lays the praise singularly on the fact that the movie acknowledges its roots (unlike Transformers: ROTF or Star Trek) and does its best to keep things mostly within that territory. It's a very goofy film with a lot of Adaptation Decay and a mess of a plot, but it gets the tone of the '80s cartoon right, and that produced a very fun time at the movies for him.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation: In the Intermission editorial "The Uncertain Future", he said that the film's sudden delay from June 2012 to March 2013, whatever the reason may be, was a bad omen for the prospect of it being a good movie. When it came time to review it, he called it a letdown due to its smaller scale and lower budget. Its toning down and dropping of the first film's more fantastic elements doesn't make sense given that it still tries to maintain continuity with that film, and it also reduces the fun factor. They also missed a golden opportunity to have Dwayne Johnson playing his pro wrestling persona as a Shout-Out to the cartoon featuring Sgt. SlaughterAs Himself, rather than a different character.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011): The directing and filmmaking quality were as great as one would expect from a David Fincher film, and he felt that Rooney Mara's version of the title character was more fleshed out than Noomi Rapace's "Terminator who shops at Hot Topic" from the original Swedish adaptations (though he also enjoyed that version of Lisbeth). Ultimately, though, its story had several major weaknesses, all of which traced back to the source material, which Bob (admittedly removed from the book's Swedish context) regarded as overrated and comparable to "a late '90s Ashley Judd vehicle written by Dan Brown." It was still good, and he recommended it as long as one didn't go in expecting it to be great.
The Girl in the Spider's Web: It lacked the "pitch-black, socially conscious sleaze" of Stieg Larsson's original trilogy and the movies based on them, instead being a fairly middle-brow Action Girl spy thriller with only the veneer of such laid on, though Bob wondered if this really hurt the film all that much, given that he felt that Larsson's books always had an undercurrent of him apologizing for their more misogynistic tropes by reworking them into a feminist revenge fantasy. Unfortunately, while Claire Foy's take on Lisbeth Salander was as good as Rapace and Mara's before her, here it felt like the filmmakers weren't trying with the other elements of the story, with the plot being far more boring than it should've been (especially given its gonzo plot description) and Fede Álvarez's work behind the camera being surprisingly flat. A few good action scenes, especially a knockout opening that was far better than he felt the rest of the film deserved, weren't enough to save a mediocre, boilerplate film that earned only a 3 out of 10.
The Giver: "[I] almost missed seeing this movie, but it's easy to see why." He only reviewed it, three weeks after it came out, because it was the middle of the Dump Months and literally nothing new came out that weekend, and he spent a good chunk of the review analyzing why it failed at the box office. It suffers badly from "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny syndrome, as many of the young-adult dystopia tropes that the original book popularized have since been done countless times by other books and their film adaptations, while its attempts to take the book's mostly symbolic story and play it totally straight backfire and produce a great deal of Fridge Logic. He'd recommend skipping it, but looking at the box office returns, he figures that most people already did just that.
Glass (2019): invoked It suffered from many of the same faults as his lesser films: an overly-long runtime, a stilted story structure, Fridge Logic, pretentious writing that veers into So Bad, It's Good territory, and (from Lady in the Water) M. Night Shyamalan's egotistical attacks on his critics, in the process falling victim to the same Randian overtones that bedeviled other recent attempts at deconstructionist superhero movies. All that was before he got to the utterly bonkers finale, which dropped a pair of plot twists that were staggering even by Shyamalan standards. That said, while it utterly failed to deliver, it felt as though "failing to deliver" was what Shyamalan set out to do, deliberately confounding audiences and critics before pulling the rug out from under them. He gave it two-and-a-half stars and had no idea what to make of it, but said that it was a film that was worth paying attention to anyway.
God Bless America: It's a bit of a mess, coming off as overly preachy, awkwardly plotted and having more ideas than its tiny budget can provide for, though Bob still liked it due to its passion and how brutally honest it was. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial "Bless This Mess", where he interviewed the film's writer and director, Bobcat Goldthwait.
God's Not Dead: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2014 he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year. The very premise of the film was enough to get him to hate it, but what pushed it over the top for him was just how inept it was as a film, failing even to hammer home its anti-atheism message in favor of meandering all over the place with a tangle of meaningless subplots and cameos. "Not to belabor a gag, but this movie was holy s***."
God's Not Dead 2: Didn't review it, but he brought it up in his Silence review as a film that displayed the polar opposite of that movie's very cynical attitude towards organized religion.
The 1985 reboot was a return to form, with subsequent films in the late '80s/early '90s "Heisei Era" also being pretty good, if a bit strange and often a bit too informed by American blockbusters. The late '90s/early '00s "Millennium Era" was a definite step down, with several films that were either mediocre or flat-out weird, but just as it seemed that the series was becoming a Franchise Zombie, Toho capped it off with Godzilla: Final Wars, an excellent Grand Finale for the franchise.
He discussed the franchise further in the Big Picture episode "Know Know Godzilla" the week that Godzilla: King of the Monsters came out, talking about how the metaphors that Godzilla stood for evolved over the course of the series, from the atomic bomb in the original movie to American military power in the following Showa-era films to punishment for Japan's sins in the Heisei and Millennium eras to Climate Change, the 2011 tsunami, and the failures of the bureaucracy in Shin Godzilla.
Gojira (the original 1954 film): While he does like it for its "dirge-like march-to-Armageddon pacing" and acknowledges its impact, he views it as an example of Early Installment Weirdness for the franchise in the long run, and he doesn't rank it among his favorite Godzilla films. He prefers Godzilla movies when they're being silly and over-the-top as opposed to dark and serious.
Godzilla (1998): Dignified in his series retrospective with just three words: "This movie sucks." A couple of years later, in the In Bob We Trust episode "Top 10 Worst Remakes Ever", he ranked it at number three, saying that the design for Godzilla was terrible, the script was just as bad, and for a Roland Emmerich movie coming right off the heels of Independence Day, it was oddly boring.
Godzilla (2014): In the Big Picture episode "The King of Meh-Sters?", he spoke of his skepticism about the film due to its advertising and pedigree. He hated Gareth Edwards' previous film Monsters, he was put off by the Darker and Edgier tone, and while the trailers looked good, they lacked any "hell yeah" moments to get him pumped to see it. When it came time to review it, he said that it was "almost good" and "if it weren't for all the other human characters, [this] would be a perfect monster movie." The film's actual portrayal of Godzilla exceeded his wildest expectations, and the final battle almost made the whole movie worth it, but to get there, the film spent the first two acts meandering with a protagonist who was both incredibly generic and very poorly acted, wasting a whole bunch of more interesting side characters and stories in the process. It really wanted to be like Jaws with its slow buildup to the monster, but whereas that film made the buildup and characters interesting in their own right, this film utterly failed at doing so. At the end of 2014, he named it one of his twenty least favorite movies of the year, arguing that its kick-ass finale failed to make up for the boring, drab movie that came before it.
The week after he reviewed it, he discussed it further in the Big Pictureepisode "Go Go Godzilla Hoping for Better Blockbusters." While he didn't care for large sections of the film, he was glad that it was doing well at the box office, more for what it represented than for its actual quality. Part of this was borne out of the hope that it might inspire more studios to take chances on big-budget 'auteur' projects from indie directors, even if Bob personally has little faith in Gareth Edwards in particular as a filmmaker. The other reason was that, even though it failed to pull it off due to its poor story and characters, the basic idea of making a 'slow burn' blockbuster action film in 2014 was a huge risk that, financially at least, seems to have paid off, with Bob hoping that it inspires Hollywood to take similar creative and narrative risks with such films.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019, saying that it looked like a welcome return to the kaiju battle style of Godzilla movie that he prefers as opposed to the 2014 film's Darker and Edgier take, which left him fairly cold even if he could appreciate what Edwards was going for. When it came time to review it, he absolutely loved it, to the point of spending thirty seconds of the review just freaking out and gushing over how awesome it was and spending another thirty seconds playing with kaiju action figures on camera in order to demonstrate what he felt was the only acceptable review he could give. It learned from the mistakes of its predecessor and wasted no time getting straight to the giant monster action, its Excuse Plot in the first act serving only to bring the movie to that point; he called it "the big-budget Godzilla movie I used to dream about getting as a kid". Michael Dougherty's direction was a standout in how it captured the truly epic feel of the monster battles, with Bob comparing it to the breakout films of Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson in how it would hopefully propel him to the A-list of blockbuster filmmakers, and the production values were top-notch all around. All of that was small potatoes, however, compared to what really compelled him to give it a 10 out of 10 and the honor of being his favorite film of 2019: the fact that it knocked him flat on his ass and kept him there with its distillation of everything he loved about these sorts of movies. "Long live the king."
A couple of weeks later, he did a Big Picture episode, "There Goes Tokyo", on its box-office disappointment (in the US, at least) and the Critical Dissonance it received. He feels that the big problem Godzilla faces is that it's never been an A-list franchise outside Japan; in the West, the older films were mostly screened at drive-ins and on late-night creature features, consigning them to the status of Cult ClassicB-movies without the kind of mainstream respectability given to other "genre" franchises that did their business in American theaters. For this reason, he believes that doing Godzilla films as $200 million tentpole mega-blockbusters merely sets them up for failure, as grateful as he was that he at least got to see such a film. He also felt that most critics who dismissed the film as empty spectacle completely missed its story, in no small part because they focused on the human characters even though it was the monsters, who all had their own defined personalities yet didn't communicate the way humans do, who were its real heroes and villains.
Godzilla vs. Kong: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but at the start of 2020 he named it his second most anticipated film of the year. He loved its predecessor, and was thankful that this was already in production when that film failed at the box office, especially since the only thing that could've made that film better was a gorilla. He found himself hoping that audiences didn't sleep on this one too.
Gone Girl: Called it a "fantastically suspenseful thriller" and one of the best movies of the year, giving it four and a half stars. It's an excellent deconstruction of marriage and family, the sensationalist tabloid media, and the legal system, and it's one of David Fincher's best films in a very long time. The entire cast is incredible, with Ben Affleck a standout as the lead and Rosamund Pike in particular enjoying what ought to be a Star-Making Role for her, and even Tyler Perry was great. Unfortunately, he couldn't say much else without dropping some pretty big spoilers all of the above is taken from the first ninety seconds of the review. At the end of 2014, he named it one of his top ten movies of the year.
GoodFellas: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of The Master as an example of a film that critics and mainstream moviegoers love for two very different reasons. Critics love the direction, the acting, and the tone of the film, but your average moviegoer loves it for its swaggering gangster machismo and for the brutal Pistol-Whipping scene.
Grandma: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2015 he named it an honorable mention for the best films of the year.
Gravity: The premise (which he calls "Open Waterin space") had him interested, as did Alfonso Cuarón's presence as director. When it came time to review it, he said that it was as amazing as everybody had been saying it was. The plot is thin, with Bob referring to it as "eighty minutes of falling out of the sky", but it is amazingly well-done and gripping, with Cuaron showing off his less-recognized skill at shooting thrilling action scenes, and both George Clooney and, surprisingly, Sandra Bullock making for great leads. The only things that really threw him off were what he felt to be some unnecessary backstory and a sudden bit of Magic Realism towards the end that came out of nowhere. At the end of 2013, he named it one of his ten favorite films of the year. He wonders, however, if critics would have been as open to praising such a film had a director less acclaimed than Cuarón made it, noting that the film is pretty much all action.
The Great Gatsby: Suffers from many of the same problems that plague Baz Luhrmann's films in general, namely "artifice for the sake of artifice" that strips the characters of the depth that they had in the original novel. That said, the film does an excellent job of making Jazz Age decadence look intensely glamorous on screen, Leonardo DiCaprio makes for an excellent Gatsby, and it succeeds where other adaptations failed by throwing viewers directly into the mindset of its characters. Overall, it's a fun time, as long as you don't think about how much better it could have been. In the Big Picture episode "Summer's End", he listed it as one of his top ten movies of summer 2013, and the end of 2013 he named it a runner-up for his list of the best films of the year.
The Great Outdoors: Devoted an episode of Good Enough Movies to it, saying that he finds that it's often unfairly compared, sight unseen, to John Candy's previous family-vacation-gone-wrong comedy hit Summer Rental. This film is essentially "a feature-length sitcom" with no real theme beyond the class conflict between Candy's Chet and Dan Aykroyd's Roman, but in its meticulous assembly of minor details, it always feels authentic, especially in the more mature-themed dialogue that he sees as upstaging the slapstick for pure comedic value (though the latter is pretty good unto itself). He also recalls having loved the Fun with Subtitles scene with the raccoons raiding the Ripleys' garbage as a kid. If this movie has any major flaws, it is that Annette Bening (in her Hollywood debut) is underused, especially vis-à-vis what people remember and the stature of her very similar (albeit less comedic) "rich yuppie wife" performance in American Beauty.
The Great Wall: Before he reviewed it, he discussed it in the In Bob We Trust episode "The Great Wail". He said that its premise sounds like something "you make up in order to make fun of stupid movie premises", which caused him to spend a year looking forward to it even before the trailer came out in the hopes that it would be So Bad, It's Good. The bulk of the episode, however, is about the controversy over the casting of Matt Damon in the film and the resulting allegations of "whitewashing" in order to pander to a Western audience. While he normally agrees with criticizing this when Hollywood productions do it (citing the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the American Ghost in the Shell adaptation as an example), he finds this instance to be more complicated because this film comes not from Hollywood, but from the Chinese film industry with mostly Chinese audiences in mind as its target audience. He uses this as a jumping-off point for a discussion of how most of the debate over race and pop culture in the US ignores non-Western perspectives almost entirely, and how Hollywood's century-long dominance of the global pop culture has made having white actors into a stamp of prestige for films made in non-white countries like China, a phenomenon that he felt was at work in this instance. Overall, he finds it ironic that the Chinese film industry's big "coming out party" in terms of making a blockbuster that can compete with Hollywood's best has to rely on Hollywood talent at the expense of its own native actors to get anybody else to pay attention to it.
He reviewed the movie six months later, when it was released in America. He gave it two and a half starts, calling it a silly and disposable but fun movie, more important as a cultural artifact than as a narrative. Despite being superficially an easy setup for the nth similar Mighty Whitey story, it depicts the Chinese characters as more communitarian and thus more heroic than the European Audience Surrogate characters played by Damon and Pedro Pascal. Otherwise, it's well-shot and Bob hopes Jing Tian's performance as the film's true hero proves to be her Star-Making Role, but the story about the Great Wall of China's "real" purpose as a barrier against lizardlike aliens is as ridiculous as he expected, and the villainous aliens are rendered in CG.
Green Book: He didn't dislike it as much as he thought he would, largely due to the performances by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, but it was still "softball award-season pablum" whose entire purpose was to be the sort of "issue movie" that existed less to challenge audiences and more to pat them on the back for having overcome the problems of the past, all while pretending that those problems no longer exist today and that we should all just move on. That said, as treacly and insufferable as he felt that its message could get, he thought that its basic premise of "My Cousin Vinny teaches Carlton Banks to get his blackness back" mostly hummed along fairly well, and its big finale felt earned. Overall, as already-dated as it felt, he felt that viewers could do worse when it came to this sort of movie. Years later, in the Big Picture episode "Oscars So Transparent", he attributed the Academy Awards' announcement of new rules on behind-the-scenes diversity and inclusion for awards eligibility to this film's Best Picture win (especially invokedoverBlack Panther) provoking considerable backlash, seen as it was as a White Man's Burden story that was out of step with public opinion. He felt that the announcement was a We Care decision that ironically ran into the same problems as the film, using tokenism to deflect from accusations of racism without really changing anything.
The Green Hornet: Its laid-back tone and sense of humor keep it from being a bad movie, but overall it's forgettable, with bad 3-D and none of its elements coming together into a cohesive whole.
Green Lantern: He despised it, ranking it alongside Batman & Robin, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four movies, Steel, and the first Transformers movie amongst the most badly "mishandled geeky sci-fi properties". It angered Bob so much, he forwent his usual opening so he could skip straight to ripping it apart. The story is a Cliché Storm of superhero story elements (and a poorly assembled one at that), the special effects look unforgivably cheap given the film's huge budget (Hal Jordan's CGI costume being one of the worst examples), Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively both give awful performances, the failed attempts at drama consist mainly of crappy ripoffs of Top Gun, the Green Lantern Corps is completely wasted, the relationship between the villains and the main characters is given no setup until an hour into the film and that's just what Bob could fit into five minutes.
Months later, he revisited it to discuss the extended Blu-ray version (and, by extension, the trend of "extended cuts" of films on home video). He felt that, while it corrected one of the film's problems (namely, it explains Hal's connection to Hector Hammond), in so doing it only highlighted the film's Unfortunate Implications regarding its portrayal of alpha-male culture versus intellectualism.
Green Room: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2016 he named it his sixth-favorite film of the year. He praises it as a nasty, hardcore, badass, edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller with a great leading performance from the late Anton Yelchin, while noting that the story of the film (about a hipsterPunk Rock band not taking a bunch of neo-Nazis seriously as a threat until it was too late) wound up feeling way tootopical that year.
Green Zone: It got points for being audacious enough to try and make a left-wing version of Rambo, but lost those points for being boring while delivering a very simplistic version of the events leading up to the Iraq War. He also went off on a tangent about America's sense of importance in the world, and how, whether it's as the hero or the villain, it's always portrayed as a direct cause of whatever is happening in the world (and never a minor player).
Gretel and Hansel (2020): He was pleasantly surprised and gave it an 8 out of 10, even if it did mean he couldn't use all the jokes he had prepared about dark fairy tale movies sucking. A retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story done as a horror movie, it fused its grounded setting with a "waking nightmare" vibe and a lot of retro horror style to great effect (Bob compared it to a mashup of The Witch and Mandy by way of Roger Corman), even if it didn't really put any interesting twists on the story beyond diving into the witch's backstory. Alice Krige was also a highlight as the Wicked Witch, managing to make that seemingly hackneyed villain archetype legitimately scary again.
The Grey: Bob called it "the first great movie of 2012", a hard-nosed "man movie" that provided crowd-pleasing thrills without giving viewers an easy ride or insulting their intelligence. He argued that director Joe Carnahan had the potential to be the next great action director à laRidley Scott or Michael Mann, and that one scene in particular involving heights was the first time in years where he had to close his eyes in fear during a movie.
Greyhound: Called it a pure "dad and granddad movie", and one that he expected to be a invokedKiller App for Apple TV+ on the strength of it being the kind of "they don't make 'em like that anymore!" war movie that a lot of older men love. The story was "all boat, no bloat", laser-focused on the Navy ship and crew at the center of it without any fat, such that he imagined the production having had an elderly veteran on set at all times to berate them into sticking squarely to that focus. This was not a criticism, as it was a very good version of that kind of movie, with great direction, a great cast led by Tom Hanks (who also wrote it), and the aforementioned streamlining also applying to the film's editing and pacing and ensuring that it was constantly moving and holding viewers' attention. He gave it an 8 out of 10 and said that, even as somebody who knew little about naval warfare, he had no problem getting invested in it.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Said that this film, an action-comedy that he compared to Firefly featuring an anthropomorphic raccoon and a tree-person as two of the main characters, was the riskiest thing that Marvel Studios has done since it started the MCU in the first place. After the teaser trailer came out, he devoted a Big Pictureepisode to examining it while explaining the backstory of the characters and their universe.
When it came time to review it, he loved it, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, himself included. It felt like a throwback to the fun blockbusters of the '80s and '90s, with a rich world, great characters, lots of heart, and a sense of humor that felt like, of all things, classic Robert Altman (particularly M*A*S*H). It was also, paradoxically, both packed with more in-jokes and continuity nods than any of the other Marvel films and the most accessible film in the MCU to newcomers, with the film and its characters wisely never letting Continuity Porn take over the story. While the film's jokey feel occasionally threatens to derail it, especially towards the end when the stakes go up, the quality of its characters and world holds it together admirably. At the end of 2014, he named it his favorite movie of the year.
The following week, he did a Big Pictureepisode discussing the unusual stinger at the end of the film and the character who appeared in it. The fact that the film used the scene for one last big joke was perfectly in keeping with its sense of humor, especially given that character's roots in the edgy, irreverent Underground Comics of the '70s, essentially pranking millions of moviegoers who had been trained to sit through the credits of superhero movies expecting some game-changing new character or plot revelations that will come into play in the sequels. Furthermore, the fact that Marvel decided to include him, of all characters, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, given his checkered past in movies, is pretty much an end zone dance on their part, an example of them telling the world that they can make a movie out of anything and stillprint money with it.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: He named it his fourth most anticipated film of 2017, with him interested in seeing if the novelty of the amazing first film manages to hold up in the sequel. When it came time to review it, he said that it did, in fact, pull it off. Marvel successfully overcame one of its biggest Achilles' heels (direct sequels to their films inevitably wind up feeling like Sophomore Slumps in comparison to the originals), mainly because, instead of spinning its wheels with world-building like Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World did, it instead took the opportunity to tell a smaller and more personal story with its characters. Returning writer-director James Gunn's excellence at character-driven storytelling paid off handsomely here, giving the story real stakes and some surprisingly heavy themes without sacrificing its sense of humor, producing a film that's about as good as the original even if it lacks the "new-franchise smell" and relies a bit too much on call-backs to it. He gave it three stars and said that, since people were probably going to see it anyway, they might as well do so. At the end of 2017, he named it his seventh-best movie of the year, though he admitted that the death of his own father that year probably played a role in why the film (which pursues its predecessor's themes of True Companions as surrogate families) made as great an impact on him as it did.
The Guyver: Prefers the first live-action film over the second one, which he finds to be boring. The first film had a great sense of humor about itself, and features a memorable scene of Mark Hamill turning into a giant bug, so what's not to love? Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Moviebob's Forgotten Monsters".
Hacksaw Ridge: Before he reviewed it, but he discussed it, together with Sully and The Birth of a Nation (2016), in the In Bob We Trust episode "The Artist and the Art", about three 2016 fall-season prestige films that found themselves Overshadowed by Controversy due to the real-life circumstances of their creators (in this case, director Mel Gibson, whose entire career post-2006 might as well be the definition of Overshadowed by Controversy). He uses this to go into a discussion about the idea of separating the artist from the art when it comes to judging a work on its own merits, arguing that, while seemingly noble, this is a terrible way to review a film, as it not only ignores how a film fits into a creator's wider body of work, it can also cause critics to miss the intended point the creator was trying to make as well as any Reality Subtext that may be lurking beneath the surface. In this case, knowing that the famously traditionalist Catholic Gibson directed this film makes its religious message and exploration of martyrdom and masculinity that much clearer, as Gibson has frequently visited these themes throughout his career as both an actor and a filmmaker.
When he reviewed it, he gave it three stars, calling it the purest expression of Gibson's religious convictions yet turned into a film; while it's not as good as Braveheart, it's much better than The Passion of the Christ. It's clear that Gibson considers the important part of his filmmaking style to be conveying his faith-based message, but his real passion is in lovingly depicting Gorn (he calls the movie "Full MetalJack Chick") and, fittingly, this film's war-movie stock characters only seem to become human once they bleed. As focal characters go, this director could hardly have hit on a real-life figure closer to his own heart than Desmond Doss (whose portrayal by Andrew Garfield seems an act of creative penance itself after the Amazing Spider-Man movies). More than anything, Gibson's sincerity and maintained grasp of narrative carry the project forward, and while Bob recommends seeing it, he also recommends "bring[ing] your barf bag."
Halloween (2007): The first half was an excellent film that did a great job exploring the series' mythology and its characters' backstories. Unfortunately, the second half, an abbreviated remake of the original film, completely fell apart, perhaps making this the first example of a horror remake that sucked due to it hewing too closely to the original. Didn't review it, but he was compelled to discuss it in his review of its sequel
Halloween (2018): invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it his third most anticipated film of 2018. On top of the creative team involved, including John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis returning to do more than just collect a royalty check, he was interested in the fact that it was a soft reboot of the series that disregarded everything after the first movie, including the plot point of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode being brother and sister. When it came time to review it, however, he gave it two stars and described it as a movie that "should have been great but only [rose] to 'good enough'". He said that it fell into the same trap that even the best Halloween sequels ran into: it tried to build upon a movie that was extremely stripped-down and left no real room to build upon at all. As good as the cast and the creative team behind it were, it ran into the problem that, by dispensing of all the baggage that the series had built up over the years (an admittedly good idea on its own), it left itself with no real way to explain why Michael is still coming after Laurie Strode and her family. It felt as though the writers had some interesting ideas for the franchise that were left on the sidelines in favor of making a more conventional Slasher Movie (he wouldn't be surprised to hear stories about reshoots and production difficulties coming out in the future), and as a result, even though many of the individual pieces worked on their own, the film as a whole felt directionless.
Halo Legends: Bob makes it clear he's contemptuous at best about the Halo franchise at large, though he finds that a few of the shorts rather interesting, particularly the ones that deviate the most from the normal Rated M for Manly tone of the series.
Hamilton: Devoted a Big Picture episode, "Monumental", to it. He felt that it easily lived up to the hype and was a "hell of a show" even if he admittedly doesn't have much of a background in theater, which is why he ultimately chose not to do a proper review of Disney+'s release of the recording of the stage production (that, and most of the discourse around it had already covered virtually every topic he could've touched on). He felt that the release of said recording in the summer of 2020, amidst a nationwide protest movement over racial injustice that was increasingly turning its attention to reevaluating various historical figures and the racist skeletons in their closets, lent it a degree of invokedValues Resonance that it lacked in 2015, as Hamilton's revisionist portrayal of the Founding Fathers, with Alexander Hamilton as a progressive hero and Thomas Jefferson as a reactionary villain, made it very much in tune with the zeitgeist of the times. As such, even though it was conceived as a celebration of Obama-era liberalism, its message about national mythmaking and who we choose to celebrate, combined with its unmistakable Patriotic Fervor, gave its story new meaning in 2020.
The Handmaiden: Didn't review it, but he called it his favorite movie of 2016. It had the right ingredients to make a good movie, and it uses them even better than Bob expected, producing a Genre-Busting work of what, without spoiling anything, he can describe only as "everything-and-the-kitchen-sink virtuoso filmmaking" whose every element is vital to its excellence.
The Hangover: Loved it, despite it being the kind of 'dude-bro' movie that he usually hates, saying it was worth owning on DVD to watch over and over again. Didn't review it, but he was compelled to mention it in his review of its sequel
The Hangover Part II: Conversely, he hated the sequel, calling it a cash grab that lazily rehashed the original's story and jokes while throwing in a ton of Unfortunate Implications and failing to understand what made the first film work.
The Hangover Part III: "DON'T ASK." Didn't review it, but he mentioned it at the end of his Fast & Furious 6 review, leaving the strong implication that he hated it.
Hanna: "Proof that the Bourne movies probably wouldve been a lot better if you simply replaced Matt Damon with a little girl." Its premise sounds like a parody of Bourne (a teenage girl caught up in a morally ambiguous spy game?), but it pulls it off with a straight face, a great cast, and awesome music. Didn't review it, but he mentioned it at the beginning of his Your Highness review, and at the end of 2011 he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters: A one-note joke that isn't that funny in the first place and which gets old by the end of the first act, its few good parts (the troll, the R-rated violence, Gemma Arterton's badass heroine) not enough to save it from being bad. Bob also finds it pretty messed up to see a movie where medieval witch hunters are portrayed as the heroes, given the real-life atrocities they perpetrated, and between that, the heavy violence against women, and the fact that Gretel came across to him as a Faux Action Girl, he felt it to be more than a bit misogynistic.
The Happening: The spot is mostly about M. Night Shyamalan and the increased egocentricity in his films. Bob thought this had the trappings of a good film, and felt it to be Shyamalan's best since Signs, but that it was still boring and too heavy-handed and narmful, while cribbing too much off Shyamalan's previous works. Discussed it in his review and, years later, in the Intermission editorial "Nightfall", a retrospective of Shyamalan's career.
Happy Death Day: There wasn't much more to it than "Groundhog Day as a Slasher Movie," and Bob had little to say about it beyond that it's just north of So Okay, It's Average. He commended the villain's simple-yet-effective look and noted the uniqueness of the main character being an Alpha Bitch who must redeem herself to keep from getting killed time and again, even if she was the type of character who usually placed highest in the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality in such films, and felt that Jessica Rothe's lead performance was much better than it needed to be and helped elevate the film into something memorable. He thought it could have done more with its premise, but against the usual crop of cheap October horror releases, it stood out as better than it should have been. It got two and a half stars and a mild recommendation. His opinion of it improved as time went on, however, to the point where he was dreading a sequel because he thought that the filmmakers did virtually everything they could have with the first movie.
Happy Death Day 2U: It ignored all of his advice on how to make a good sequel to the first movie, from the fact that it was made in the first place to how the plot was now built around explaining the mechanics of the "Groundhog Day" Loop — but it actually pulled it off, largely through just how radically different it was from its predecessor, recognizing that it couldn't make the same premise work twice as a horror movie and instead becoming a sci-fi comedy in the vein of Bill & Ted or Ghostbusters. He gave it three stars and a recommendation for both its inspired ideas and for turning out surprisingly poignant, though he recommended that the filmmakers not press their luck with a third movie.
Happy Gilmore: Discussed it in his Really That Goodepisode on its star, Adam Sandler, noting that many fans often considered it his best film. This was where he felt Sandler really developed his most common screen persona, that of The Everyman who mocks the hypocrisy of the unusual, exotic spaces he enters and "calls it like he sees it", in this case the world of professional golf specifically and pro sports in general. Not only did he feel that this persona was closest to Sandler's real-life personality, he also felt that it was the one that brought out his best performances. Here, in keeping with Sandler's shtick of putting a child-like spin on adult humor, his character's observations also felt specifically like the kind that a little kid would make about sports, with Shooter McGavin framed as an asshole father figure.
The Happytime Murders: "I... thought it was funny?" He was surprised by the scathing critical reception this film received, even with its seemingly Critic-Proof premise, suspecting that it was because, unlike similar films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Sausage Party, it didn't use its High ConceptSubverted Innocence premise as a launch pad for any sort of deeper commentary. Instead, it was a film built around one real joke (Sesame Street-style puppets dropped into a '90s-style neo-noir mystery and engaging in R-rated debauchery) repeated in different contexts, more like The Naked Gun or Police Academy in its approach to parody versus satire, but it's a joke that doesn't wear out its welcome, thanks to solid direction from Brian Henson (son of Jim) and excellent puppeteering work. There were many places where it could've gone above and beyond but chose not to, such that your response to the film will likely mirror your reaction to the trailer, but he didn't regard that as a real knock against the film given that it was still a very funny comedy, one that earned three stars.
Hardcore Henry: Called it "a (slightly) more polished version of a student film handed in by the class troublemaker" in that it felt like an excuse for a bright young filmmaker to just cut loose and go completely balls-out with every cool idea he had. It takes its influence by violent First-Person Shooter games to the breaking point, from the Excuse Plot to the boss battles to the protagonist being an utter cipher whose face we almost never see, and it's an utter feast for the eyes. It's probably gamers who are going to get the most from this film's Affectionate Parody of those sorts of games, though without spoiling anything, the third-act plot twists reminded him of Spec Ops: The Line in terms of its deconstruction of various gaming tropes and how players are motivated to keep going, albeit a fair bit less venomous and more lighthearted than that.
Harry Potter: Taken as a whole, the film series is very, very good, one of the grandest accomplishments in cinematic history, and quite possibly the defining movie franchise of the Turn of the Millennium. However, in the Big Picture episode "The Boot, Part Two", he said that most of the individual Harry Potterfilms are quite disposable, varying wildly in quality and not holding up the way that individual entries in other series (like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe) do. In particular, the films from Chamber of Secrets through Order of the Phoenix come off as filler (though he does regard Prisoner of Azkaban as the point where it started Growing the Beard), with one only needing to watch the beginning and end in order to understand the plot. He ascribes this to the fact that the films were being made before the book series was finished, and argues that a reboot of the series would flow a lot better and have far less filler now that the most important story beats are known.
The Hateful Eight: Another high-caliber effort from Quentin Tarantino, who Bob describes as quite possibly the only filmmaker working in Hollywood today who has the talent to use racism, sexism, and gross-out humor in a satirical manner without crossing the line into indulging in such himself. Without spoiling anything, he calls the film "mean, nasty, utterly uncompromised visionary filmmaking" that, over the course of its increasingly depraved story, is practically daring viewers to cheer for what they're witnessing, taking scenes that ought to be cathartic for the audience and twisting them into something horrifying. At the end of 2015, he named it his fourth-favorite movie of the year.
Haywire: Gina Carano makes for a great action heroine (and is Bob's pick to play Wonder Woman), and the high-caliber supporting cast is a treat to see in a movie like this. Overall, recommended. Didn't review it, but he mentioned it in his Red Tails review.
Heaven Is for Real: He was impressed by the production values and the All-Star Cast they managed to get for this film, which are much better than what he's used to seeing in Christian films, but he found himself confused as to what it was actually supposed to be about. The main 'crisis of faith' story arc made little sense to Bob, given that it shows that the father and the townsfolk already believe everything Colton Burpo is saying about God and heaven; why would God choose to deliver His message in small-town Nebraska where everyone is already a devout Christian? The result is a disposable, junky film that, to Bob, didn't even feel like proselytizing so much as it did a pep rally for Christians, and served as a poor demonstration of the story it's supposed to be based on (of which he was already admittedly suspicious). At the end of 2014, he named it one of his twenty least favorite movies of the year, calling it little more than an infomercial for both the Burpo ministry and for various Sony products.
Heavy Metal: Doesn't see why it's become a pop-culture icon, outside of the fact that it came out before the Internet was huge and bare boobs were tough to find back in those days. Still worth checking it out if only to get the references in that one episode of South Park.
Hellboy (2019): invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019. He lamented that Guillermo del Toro never got to make a third Hellboy film and finish his trilogy, especially given that, despite Neil Marshall directing and this version being Truer to the Text of the comics, this film still "look[ed] about as flat and generic as one might have feared." When it came time to review it, he said that "it suck[ed] entirely on its own merits" even without comparing it to its predecessors. It felt like an idea for a sequel that was awkwardly turned into a reboot, and then crafted with more care given to the money shots that would impress people in trailers and at Comic-Con than to the story or characters. It lacked the craftsmanship of either the del Toro films or the original comics, the production values (especially the CG) felt shockingly cheap, the R rating felt like it was there more to show audiences how "edgy" the movie was with F-bombs and gore than to serve a dark tone, and its convoluted plot, overly reliant on near-constant Info DumpWorld Building and Shout Outs to other Mike Mignola characters, felt like an unintentional parody of comic book continuity and Modular Franchises, like a version of Buckaroo Banzai that actually took its backstory seriously. He gave it one star and told everybody not to bother, saying that the del Toro films did everything that this one tried to do far better and that only some decent makeup effects and action scenes kept it from being completely unwatchable.
Hell Comes to Frogtown: Even though it's not quite as good as it sounds, it's still a very unique and watchable film that stands out amidst the Mad Max ripoffs of the '80s. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Don't Watch Dis-Topia, Watch Dat-Topia", a discussion of five dystopian films he felt were better than The Giver (which he reviewed that week).
Hereditary: "<takes off sunglasses> ...That scared the bejeezus out of me." It was one of the best examples of the modern trend of "arthouse" horror films that combine down-to-Earth human drama, psychological horror, and viscerally shocking imagery, fusing all that with a Genre-Busting, post-modern approach that weaved in and out of many different subgenres of horror and played around with the audience's expectations for all of them, such that he couldn't go into much detail on the actual plot past the basic first-act setup. The whole cast was excellent, particularly Toni Collette and Alex Wolff, and its seemingly safe appearance masked a twisted and downright devilish core. He gave it three and a half stars and said "check it out if you dare."
Hidden Figures: "Wow, this was really good and it didn't even need to be." The subject matter, a biopic about three black female mathematicians for NASA in The '60s whose major contributions wound up being overlooked by history, would have made this a good and worthwhile film even if it had been technically only So Okay, It's Average. However, it goes above and beyond and delivers a genuinely compelling drama in its own right, combining the expected beats of this sort of movie with quality craftsmanship that makes even the mundane parts of the film interesting, resulting in a film that had Bob leaving the theater feeling both informed and inspired. While its likely destiny is to become a staple of basic cable reruns and School Study Media during Black History Month, it's probably the best example of that sort of film he could picture, earning four stars and pretty much zero complaints.
Hillbilly Elegy (the film adaptation): Called it "the white version of a Tyler Perry movie" and an "overwrought, undercooked, meaningless, and empty yet somehow also ponderous and groaning-under-the-weight-of-its-own-supposed-thematic-heft invokedaward-season aspirant", a film that tried to tell a serious, moving story but instead wound up unintentionally hilarious with its treacly melodrama. The memoir it was based on may have been a right-wing polemic about rugged individualism and how the poor had only themselves to blame for their lot in life, but at least its politics offered something to talk about and provided a general theme to J. D. Vance's narrative, whereas the film thoroughly sanitized them and found itself without an anchor. The characters all came across as inauthentic "redneck" caricatures (especially Glenn Close as Vance's grandmother, in a role that felt like blatant pandering to the tastes of Academy voters), and the story often felt either mean-spirited or overly saccharine, often in the wrong places. He gave it a 2 out of 10 and called it one of the worst movies of 2020.
Hitch: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. It's a rare modern Romantic Comedy that's told from the male perspective, specifically that of the male romantic partner's sidekick, and when the film is focusing on the great interaction between Will Smith's titular "date doctor" Hitch and Kevin James' schlubby nerd Albert, it truly shines. It's when the film tries to pair up Hitch with Eva Mendes' gossip columnist trying to figure out who the "date doctor" is, turning it into a fairly boilerplate rom-com in the process, when it starts to fall apart, especially when that story becomes a Malignant Plot Tumor in the third act. The two stories work against each other, requiring Hitch to be a fundamentally Nice Guy when interacting with Albert but for Mendes' character to see what he does as creepy, which renders Mendes incredibly unlikable (he thinks that she should have been an outright villain instead of Hitch's Love Interest). Still, he'll take half a good movie, especially in the romantic comedy genre, and he gave it a 6 out of 10.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. Somewhat paradoxically, it managed to successfully adapt a book that many had regarded as unfilmable and simultaneously demonstrate that the book was, in fact, unfilmable. Namely, instead of translating the actual text of the book and Douglas Adams' jokes, this was a film that sought to capture the spirit of Adams' writing, and he felt that it pulled it off, even if he expected diehard fans to take issue with the changes. He gave it an 8 out of 10 and said that, separated from the source material, it made for a very fun homage to Adams.
The Hitman's Bodyguard: A bad movie that showed no signs of the character drama that made the original draft of its screenplay so well-regarded, with Bob opening the review saying that the film was so generic that he had to struggle to find enough material to do a full review. Instead, it had Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, two actors who are far better than this, slumming it in their respective stock personas, clichéd character dynamics between the two, a Captain Obvious Reveal to explain their antagonism, and an utter lack of awareness as to what its best qualities were. After the momentary amusement of seeing (admittedly well-shot) American action-movie beats playing out in picturesque Holland wore off, there was almost nothing there. He gave it a star and a half and called it "frustratingly competent", in that it wasn't bad enough to be So Bad, It's Good yet was otherwise completely disposable.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: It could never be as amazing as The Lord of the Rings, but Peter Jackson has once again managed to craft a great fantasy epic. By expanding on the source material's fairly straightforward plot with material from some of J. R. R. Tolkien's other books (including the Rings books and Unfinished Tales), and by pumping up the action and fight scenes, it provides an optimistic start to what looks to be another great trilogy. At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year. Later on, though, in his review of The Desolation of Smaug, he detailed some of his problems with it, namely that some of the action scenes felt overly long and showy, and that the story doesn't seem to get far despite it being a very long film.
As for the controversy over the decision to shoot the film in 48 FPS rather than the industry standard of 24 FPS, Bob waited until the following week's Big Picture episode "Frame Rate" to discuss it. Regarding its application in this film, he says that the technology isn't yet perfect (it produces an Uncanny Valley effect that makes the props and sets look more like the artificial constructs that they are) but has a lot of potential, and that the film's worth seeing once in that format just to see what everyone's talking about.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Much better than the last film, to the point where Bob started to notice a lot of the first film's problems a lot more after watching this one. It's a lot more assured and well-paced than the last film, the actors and action scenes are great, and the film's connections to the Rings trilogy work far better this time. However, everything now rides on how well the third film can wrap everything up. At the end of 2013, he named it a runner-up for his list of the best films of the year.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: It goes heavily against the message of the original book in its buildup to and portrayal of the titular battle, but Bob didn't find that to be a particularly bad thing, largely because Peter Jackson is really good at making those epic fight scenes look awesome. Overall, the Hobbit trilogy isn't as good as the Rings movies, with Bob agreeing with the common assessment that it was bloated, unnecessary, and pretty stupid, but it's still plenty of fun. Overall, he gave it three stars and a recommendation as a lightweight action-fantasy epic.
Hobo with a Shotgun: An incredibly faithful homage to the not-so-classic output of Troma and The Cannon Group that rises above its inspiration thanks to its dark humor, its sense of humanity, and one of Rutger Hauer's best performances. He opens the review by examining the trend of Genre Throwbacks throughout the last several decades, and shudders at the thought of some of the horrifying directions that this can take in the coming years.
Holmes & Watson: invoked Reuniting Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in roles that played to their types may have sounded like a great idea on paper, but the result was a film that utterly wasted their talent and wound up as one of the worst of both their careers, and certainly the worst thing they've done together. The jokes felt like either bad improv or a poor man's version of Tim & Eric, barely even bothering to do anything with the idea of a Sherlock Holmes parody (especially given the character's recent resurgence in popularity) except half-heartedly recycle jokes from Ferrell and Reilly's older, better films. It was a poorly-made film on top of it, with phoned-in cameos from actors who should have known better, flat visual and set design that did nothing to liven things up, and a general feeling that it was stapled together in the editing room to produce something halfway coherent and releasable. He gave it a 2 out of 10 and said that the only reason it wasn't the worst film in theaters in the last week of 2018 was because Welcome to Marwen was still playing on a few screens.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode paying tribute to the recently-deceased filmmaker Stuart Gordon. It may seem like invokedGenre Adultery for Gordon, a filmmaker best known for graphic horror, to write a family comedy for Disney, but anybody who knows his background will immediately recognize his touches in its family-unfriendly violence. He also noted how Gordon was originally supposed to direct as well, but had to drop out of the project due to illness, and how Robot Jox and The Pit and the Pendulum were his "back to work" features.
Hook: A deeply flawed, tonally uneven movie that he feels would have been forgotten far sooner had it not been for Dustin Hoffman's surprising interpretation of Captain Hook and the fact that "Robin Williams was in fact the only possible choice to play a grown-up Peter Pan." Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies", a retrospective on the late Williams' career.
Horror Noire: An insightful look at a subject, the place of African Americans in horror movies, that's usually handled with either condescension or hacky Black Dude Dies First jokes, providing Bob with both a list of films to check out and a new appreciation of films that he already liked, the mark of any good documentary about movies in his book. He also appreciated its lighthearted touch in discussing its subject matter, and its acknowledgment that not all of the films it was talking about were good, as opposed to the dry, high-brow tone usually seen in such films. He gave it an 8 out of 10 and recommended it for any horror fans.
The Horrors of Malformed Men: A movie so gruesome and depraved that it's still effectively invokedbanned in Japan, which, given that country's standards for what constitutes depravity, is truly saying something. The '60s special effects are dated, but it loses little of its visceral impact. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial "Test Your Might", a discussion of "extreme" movies.
The Host: Didn't review it, but in the Big Picture episode "Next Light", he said he was excited for it in spite of its Stephenie Meyer pedigree, mainly because it was written and directed by Andrew Niccol, the maker of Gattaca and the (in his opinion) underrated In Time. Later, in the Intermission editorial "Host Haste", he argued that, while Meyer was an unquestionably bad writer, and that The Host fails for many of the same reasons that the Twilight series did, some of the criticisms levied at Meyer (including some that he had given, admittedly) went over the line, comparing it to the "outsider art" phenomenon. At the end of 2013, he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year.
Hostage: Called it Bruce Willis' last truly great film and a better Die Hard film than the last two Die Hard sequels, and that it was puzzling why this didn't do better at the box office. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "Space Invaders".
Hotel Artemis: It felt like an entire movie made out of the World Building from the John Wick films with a third-act action blowout for a payoff, and on the basis of those minor ambitions, it genuinely worked. It was short enough that it never wore out its welcome, the characters and sci-fi noir attitude were interesting enough to keep the movie flowing even as he wondered when things were going to get violent, and overall, he gave it three stars as an "unpretentious oddity" that didn't aspire to do much beyond assemble an All-Star Cast for a weird little crime thriller, but succeeded at what it set out to do.
Hotel Rwanda: The first review he ever wrote. He felt that most of the hype about the film being an extremely depressing "black Schindler's List" was true, though he didn't fully get the hype, saying it was merely good instead of excellent. Its goal of educating Americans about the Rwandan genocide can come off as fairly preachy, while the PG-13 rating makes it feel like it's holding back, with a lot of the horror of the death squads roaming the streets undercut as a result. However, when the film focuses on Don Cheadle's hotel owner protagonist being The Man, his performance elevates it above what could have been a cheesy Made-for-TV Movie and into near-greatness. He gives it a score of 7 out of 10.
Hotel Transylvania: "Actually pretty good." It's got the feel of an old-fashioned character comedy with little in the way of plot, but it's still a funny, solid, well-acted film with a clever premise. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of The Master.
Hot Tub Time Machine: Described it as "really, really, really funny", though couldn't really go into detail without ruining the movie and the jokes. He then talks about how awesome Chloe is for the Les Yay and how a new Back to the Future movie would suck.
Howard the Duck: He doesn't think it's quite as bad as its reputation suggests, but he still thinks that, between its poor special effects, its bad case of Mood Whiplash, and its infamous Inter Species Romance scene, it didn't do justice to what was otherwise a pretty cool "Underground Comix meets Marvel superhero" character, and that it could go for a reboot or remake. He views it as a counterpoint to the then-recent hit Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of both films being symbols of the "Monday-morning quarterbacking" of the Hollywood press. Whereas Guardians success proved to Hollywood that Marvel Studios and Disney can seemingly make anything a hit, even a film with a talking raccoon as one of the main characters, this film was George Lucas' first big failure, proving that the man who made Star Wars and Indiana Jones wasn't infallible after all, and after it bombed it became one of those films that everyone claimed they saw coming. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episodes "The Boot, Part One" and "What the Duck?"
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the 1966 TV special): Didn't review it, but he discussed it and the 2000 film in his review of the 2018 adaptation of the story. He argued that this version of it, by adapting a very short book as a half-hour TV special with a few musical numbers to bring up the runtime, was probably the best that an adaptation of it could be, and that a feature-length version would invariably suffer from having to stretch things out to ninety minutes — a problem faced by both attempts to make such a film. He also felt that, contrary to the more modern revisionist take that it's one of Dr. Seuss' weaker stories and is remembered mainly for the ending and the animated special, The Grinch still holds up as one of his best, largely because of the inherently subversive nature (especially back then) of focusing a children's Christmas story around a guy who hates the holiday season and wants to ruin it for everyone.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the 2000 film): It suffered from needless Adaptation Expansion by giving an unnecessary backstory to the Grinch and adding a invokedheavy-handed anti-consumerism allegory, and Bob said that the only reason it was a hit and is still remembered is because, as a high-profile holiday film, it's one of those movies that inevitably goes into rotation at the end of every year.
The Grinch (2018): It automatically beat out the 2000 film by virtue of mostly sticking to the book and avoiding its predecessor's divergences from it. Unfortunately, it didn't have anything with which to fill time instead, save for the most saccharine and edgeless sort of cartoon humor, a heavily sanitized Grinch who's presented as bored and depressed instead of a cool, malicious villain, a waste of Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, and a twist that everybody will see coming within ten minutes, causing the film to be just forgettable instead of "memorably awful" like its predecessor. He gave it two stars and said that "it could've been worse, but don't you hate having to settle?"
How to Train Your Dragon: invoked Didn't review it, but he mentioned it in passing (calling it "the dragon movie") in his (negative) review of Shrek Forever After as part of a tirade about how sick he was of DreamWorks Animation films in general. He initially said "it was OK", but at the end of the review encouraged parents to take their kids to go see it instead of Shrek Forever After if they have to take them to see something and it was still showing in their area. He later discussed it in his review of its sequels, his opinion on it having improved with time. He spoke about how this film, together with Kung Fu Panda, was widely seen as a turning point for DreamWorks Animation, proving that they could make legitimately good movies and not just rely on the Shrek formula over and over again, and saying that, while they weren't quite up to the standard of Pixar at its best, they were still better than the instantly-datedShrek films or the obnoxiousness of Illumination Entertainment.
How to Train Your Dragon 2: Surprised him with its Coming of Age storyline and with some of the directions it took with its story, particularly with how the "big twist" spoiled in the trailers was actually far from the biggest trick this film had up its sleeve. He really liked it overall and found it to be a great sequel, his only real complaints being with the villain and a few of the side characters.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World: He said that it was about as good as the last two films, though he was happy that they opted to make this a Grand Finale since he didn't see where the franchise could go from here. He gave it three stars and recommended it as a satisfying conclusion for fans of the series, saying that it was at its best with its excellent character work and its surprisingly good action scenes, though it faltered whenever it focused on its thinly-written villains or tried to add any real stakes to the story.
Hubie Halloween: It was no challenger to It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, but it still made for a very welcome new entry in the canon of family-friendly Halloween movies and the best Happy Madison-style comedy Adam Sandler had made since his '90s Glory Days. It was very much in the classic Sandler mold of being largely an excuse for Sandler to engage in goofy, mildly edgy but still good-natured humor for ninety minutes while providing plenty of room for his buddies to make cameos, almost like a nostalgic throwback to his classic comedies made for his older fans looking to show their kids a family-friendly movie by one of their favorite childhood comedians. It had the usual issues with Netflix comedies in terms of feeling a bit too long and having an uncertain tone and too many extraneous supporting characters, but Sandler was a blast in the title role, the plot was engaging, and it felt like everyone involved went the extra mile with the humor. (Also, as someone who grew up near Salem, Massachusetts, Bob felt that the film nailed its portrayal of what that town is like around Halloween.) He gave it an 8 out of 10 and said that it will likely endure as a "just scary enough" kids' Horror Comedy that gets regular airplay every October.
Hugo: A very good film that has some of the best use of 3D in history, and should definitely be seen, but which ultimately falls short of greatness for reasons that Bob couldn't explain without spoiling the whole movie. About halfway through, the film changes from a Dickensian children's fantasy film into a biopic of visionary French filmmaker Georges Melies, told from a child's point of view. It's a good twist, but it's clear that this part of the film is where Martin Scorsese was focusing most of his attention, and once it reaches that point the scenes with Hugo feel tacked on, given that his story is wrapped up by this point.
The Hunger: Called it groundbreaking in terms of its visual style and its depiction of female sexuality, especially as early as 1983. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial "Remembering Tony Scott - Part 1", a retrospective of the late Tony Scott's career.
The Hunger Games: A "cheap, generic and lifeless" film with a plot that's been donebetterbefore, ridiculous stupidity on the part of its villains (who really shouldn't be keeping their underclasses perpetually trained for combat), an inability to mine the social commentary it sets up, and production values and action scenes more in line with a 1990s Nickelodeon pilot than a big-budget feature film. Only worth watching for fans of the book or the actors involved. He also makes fun of the characters' funny-sounding names throughout the review, a tradition that he keeps up in his reviews of the sequels. He does admit, however, that Katniss Everdeen is a much better role model for girls than Twilights Bella Swan and that it's refreshing to see young people being fans of a work that even touches on the themes of media manipulation, authority, and economic injustice that The Hunger Games does, even if the films' execution leaves a lot to be desired.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Between its cast and director, it held a lot of promise that it could have fixed many of the first film's problems, but it turns out to be very anticlimactic and disappointing. It's better than the first film, but not by much. Furthermore, the visual shorthand the film uses for its heroes and villains creates a lot of Unfortunate Implications (he refers to it as "Sailor ScoutTed Nugent versus San Francisco") and serves to undermine its social commentary, sending the exact opposite message it was intending.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1: Cutting the movie into two parts was a terrible idea, leaving this one overstuffed with filler and only about a half-hour's worth of real substance, but even so, it made for a pretty good first half to what was, up to that point, the best film in the series. While it took too long to get moving, it wisely put the books' satirical themes front and center rather than leaving them in the background like the last two movies did, while also delivering really good action scenes and getting into the nitty-gritty of the uprising against the Capitol in a fairly deep and exciting way. He gave it three stars, arguing that it was the movie that finally got him on board with the series and excited to see how it ends.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2: By this point, he had the impression that the series' audience had effectively abandoned it, and rightfully so, since this movie simply wasn't very good.
The Hunt (2020): invoked Before it came out, he did a number of videos on it and related subject matter, which he later compiled into the Bigger Picture episode "The Other Huntergate". To start, news that its release had been postponed in the wake of a pair of back-to-back mass shootings saw him heavily criticize Universal for doing so, saying that pulling its release in the face of outrage by conservative media only guaranteed that the Streisand Effect would come into play, and that Universal's ostensible Distanced from Current Events justification for doing so was disingenuous given how many violent action movies filled with guns they and other studios regularly make. He thought that the film looked like it could be decent, especially with Craig Zobel directing, and that, while he disagreed with its politics, the apparently satirical nature of the film did attract his interest. Furthermore, he found it ironic that the conservative audiences that might have otherwise embraced the film wound up being the ones most outraged over it due to a mistaken assumption by Fox News pundits of who its heroes and villains were supposed to be.
When it came time to review it, he called it an "almost-great topical horror satire and a invokedstar-making action-hero turn for Betty Gilpin... that decides to totally undermine itself for no good reason." The action scenes were excellent, the film was well-paced and had next to no filler, it had a great sense of humor about itself, he loved how it killed off many of the more recognizable actors first so as to upend audience expectations, and Gilpin made for an excellent Action Hero, one who he compared to Kurt Russell in Escape from New York and Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead II in how she took what seemed at first glance like a walking Action Girl cliche and elevated it with a great performance that sold her character as a legitimate, unforgettable badass. Unfortunately, he felt that the plot twists at the end completely ruined the film, such that he only gave it a 5 out of 10. He liked the satire of the film's political angle (rich liberal assholes hunting conservative assholes for sport) and the message it was trying to send, but without spoiling anything, he felt that the final twist completely wrecked that message by copping out on it and pandering to an imagined "moderate" audience. He found himself wishing that the film had taken the side of either the hunters or the hunted and staked its flag either way, or even portrayed everyone as awful and let the audience get its rocks off on watching them kill each other. "Jokes don't have 'hmm...' lines, they have punchlines."
Hustlers: It wasn't exactly as good as GoodFellas because, well, nothing else is, though he did heartily call it "the GoodFellas of stripper movies." It hewed to the same template of the 'rise and fall of a criminal' story as any number of other movies and TV shows that have done it before, but it was still very smart, sexy, emotionally affecting, and well-made and acted. It was one of the rare films that depicted women working in The Oldest Profession as three-dimensional human beings with agency of their own, while Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez gave two exceptional performances — he hoped the former would be her invokedStar-Making Role and predicted the latter would get an Oscar nomination. He gave it an 8 out of 10 and eagerly told people to see it, whether you're looking for an empowering feminist tale about female criminals or just want to see a movie starring a bevy of gorgeous women in full Ms. Fanservice mode.