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- The Fan: An unimpressive riff on Fatal Attraction (with celebrities!) that, while very well-shot, took itself too seriously and was often rather narm-y. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial "Remembering Tony Scott, Part 2", a retrospective of the late Tony Scott's career.
- 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 pandering Continuity Porn, making the ostensible point Soap Opera-level crap, and barely 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 Potter lore 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 infamously bad 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, "still 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 Trust episode "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- part episode 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.
- Fantastic Four (a potential reboot): Devoted a three- part episode 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".
- 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 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: "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 Formula Romantic 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 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 Good episode 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.
- Final Destination 5: "If you're trying to watch this for any reason other than to see what kind of crazy crap they'll use to kill people this time well, in that case you shouldn't be watching Final Destination 5 to begin with." Overall, if you're looking for a decent movie to see in the doldrums of August, you could do a lot worse, but don't expect any real changes to the series' formula (though he did find the ending to be a hell of a twist).
- 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.
- Flashpoint: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but 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 multiverse Crisis 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 Florida Project: Didn't review it, but in his 2018 Academy Awards preview, he said that he loved it and that of the Best Supporting Actor nominees, he'd have given the award to Willem Dafoe for this film, though he predicted (ultimately correctly) that the Oscar would go to Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
- 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.
- Ford vs. Ferrari: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but 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 was waiting until two weeks after Father's Day to release a film seemingly so hyper-targeted at the tastes of middle-aged dads.
- 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 Trust episode "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's basically one long gunfight is enough to get him interested ("now that's economical storytelling!"), as is 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's not 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 make it very fun for its modest aims and running time.
- Fright Night (1985): A really good film that deserves its status as a Cult Classic, with Bob lamenting the fact that it seems to be falling into obscurity. He particularly liked its combination of old-school vampire rules and mythology with contemporary 1980s sensibilities. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of its remake
- 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 Hell It Came: 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 Picture Schlocktober special for 2013, and in the In Bob We Trust episode "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. The
- Frozen: It's 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's been 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 Intermission editorial 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: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. He's interested in seeing how Disney follows 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 has been a closely-guarded secret.
- 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.
- Fullmetal Alchemist (2017): He criticized nearly everything about it, from how it called every bit of Applied Phlebotinum in the story "Alchemy" to its lifeless acting, negligible plot progression, nonsensical storytelling, dearth of personality, the fact that it was a Compressed Adaptation of the prior manga and anime versions of the same story, to a tremendously silly and over-the-top yet boring ending sequence. All he had to say in its favor were that it had some Visual Effects of Awesome and nice costumes, and even the latter was a backhanded compliment, being accurate to the source material but terribly impractical. He felt it to be a rare case where Continuity Lockout might actually make the experience of watching the adaptation more tolerable. He said it couldn't hold a candle to the Live-Action Adaptations of anime and manga coming out of Japan and gave it a star and a half.
- 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.
- 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: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. He detailed how it has 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 have 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's excited to see how it finally turns out.
- Geostorm: Hasnt reviewed it yet, 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 stars Gerard Butler are only cherries on top.
- Getaway: A decent idea on paper that could have been a great car chase flick in the vein of Vanishing Point, but terrible execution drags it down. The casting of Selena Gomez as a tough, streetwise hacker chick is as laughable as it sounds, while the bland, repetitive action does nothing to liven up the proceedings. He also opened the review with a discussion about teen pop stars suddenly becoming more adult as they get older, saying that this has been going on since Elvis Presley's appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in The 50s and that we should stop being shocked by it.
- Get Out: Before he reviewed it, he named it his fifth most anticipated film of 2017. The plot, which is basically The Stepford Wivesnote 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 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
- 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 Good short 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 Trust episode "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 Trust episode "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 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 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 Trust episode 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 3: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Ghosted". 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 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, he 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. He also lamented the fact that he was still having to discuss Ghostbusters in 2019 due to controversy once more swirling around it, calling it a "monkey's paw" wish that he 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 Trust episode "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. Slaughter As Himself, rather than a different character.
- Ginger Snaps: "Have you ever looked at a bad movie [Jennifer's Body] and thought, 'Man, I wish I could see a good movie version of this'? Well, in this particular case, you can!" Didn't review it, but he mentioned it at the end of his Surrogates review.
- 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: 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.
- God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it his fourth least anticipated film of 2018. He finds the series, and the output of Pure Flix Entertainment in general, to be ridiculous, heavy-handed, and downright mean-spirited moralizing designed to pander to the persecution complexes of conservative Christians, and nothing he saw in the trailer for this got him to change his opinion.
- The Godzilla films: He's a lifelong fan of the series, stating that it's the very first geek property he remembers truly loving. The week that the 2014 reboot came out, he began a two-part Intermission editorial going over every film in the series. He found Godzilla Raids Again to be underwhelming, but his opinion on the '60s films ranged from unequivocally loving them at best (with King Kong vs. Godzilla and Mothra vs. Godzilla being his two favorites) to liking them at worst (he even found Son of Godzilla tolerable), overall calling the '60s the Golden Age of the series. He felt All Monsters Attack to be the beginning of a Dork Age for the series with its overuse of Stock Footage, with the '70s films being So Bad, It's Good at best.
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 Global Warming, 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 Picture episode "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): 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, but all of that was small potatoes compared to what really compelled him to give it a 10 out of 10: 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 Classic B-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.
- 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.
That same week, he did an Intermission editorial, Gone Girl and When Good Movies Happen to Bad People, that discussed both Gone Girl and Fincher's earlier film Fight Club. Without spoiling anything, he fears that, much like Fight Club did, Gone Girl will attract a Misaimed Fandom from some truly obnoxious misogynists who see in the film's plot twists everything they hate about women, while missing the film's bigger message about how people act in front of society versus what they are really like.
- 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.
- Good Morning, Vietnam: "Probably still the all-time champ of 'find a story-excuse for him to just do his stand-up act for most of the movie' comedian-vehicles." It was the first hint of Robin Williams' wide acting range, and also exemplified why he was regarded as the chief transitory comedy star between the Darker and Edgier 1970s and exuberant 1980s. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies", a retrospective on the late Williams' career.
- The Grand Budapest Hotel: Didn't review it, but discussed it in an Intermission, and at the end of 2014 he named it one of his top ten movies of the year. It mixes Wes Anderson's usual whimsical, handmade style with a melancholy tone that gives it genuine depth.
- 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 Water in 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 Greatest Showman: He thinks that the real P. T. Barnum was a scumbag, comparing him not-so-subtly to Jordan Belfort and Donald Trump during the review, and that wound up coloring the rest of the film for him, feeling that it missed a chance to explore who he was (a warts-and-all biopic of the man likely would have been much better, as, for all his faults, Barnum lived a very interesting life) instead of valorizing him with a lightweight family musical. Worse, the rest of the film is as Strictly Formula as they come, with straw men expressing valid critiques of Barnum, the title song being the only one that was all that memorable, and not even Hugh Jackman's great performance as Barnum being enough to elevate the proceedings. He gave it one star and called it "complete trash", his sixth-least favorite film of 2017, and something that not even P. T. Barnum would have tried to sell with a straight face.
- 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 Mission to Save Princess Peach!: Discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Do the Mario! (Again)". It's a So Okay, It's Average kids' anime film of The '80s among many; it owes its Cult Classic status among Super Mario Bros. fans mostly to its "lost" status and the sheer awfulness of the later live-action British/American film. It is fairly faithful to the game, albeit using its characters very differently from how Nintendo would take them in future games. Bob observed how it was the first work ever to try to give this mass-media juggernaut-in-the-making a backstory, having sprung from a game that didn't exactly have one, calling special attention to its depiction of Nintendo's mascot as a gamer himself. He disliked the character of Kibidango/Prince Haru, though, on the grounds that he was betrothed to Peach, the Mario brothers' role in the story being only to bring him to her and beat the Big Bad for them. It's easy to see why it was lost: its only distinguishing feature is that its main characters would become world-famous.
- 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 Conspicuous CG.
- The Green Berets: Didn't review it, but he mentioned it in the Big Picture episode "Pop! Goes the 'Ganda, Part II" as a rare piece of anvilicious post-World War II American popular culture meant to stir up Patriotic Fervor — in this film's case, as support for The Vietnam War. He still thinks it sucks on its own merits despite liking plenty of other John Wayne movies.
- 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.
- 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 hipster Punk Rock band not taking a bunch of neo-Nazis seriously as a threat until it was too late) wound up feeling way too topical that year.
- Green Zone: Gets points for being audacious enough to try and make a left-wing version of Rambo, but loses those points for being boring while delivering a very simplistic version of the events leading up to the Iraq War. Bob also goes 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).
- The Grey: Bob called it "the first great movie of 2012", a hard-nosed "man movie" that provides crowd-pleasing thrills without giving viewers an easy ride or insulting their intelligence. He argues that director Joe Carnahan has the potential to be the next great action director à la Ridley 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.
- The Grudge (the 2019 reboot): Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019, saying "Aw, damn it, I thought we were through with these!" The original Ju On and Grudge films were among the few movies that actually scared him, he thought the franchise had ended with Sadako vs. Kayako (whose mere existence merited a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer), and he doesn't think they can really bring anything new or interesting to the table.
- Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever: Didn't review it, but he mentioned it at the end of his After Earth review, having just realized why the cat was known as "Grumpy," and asked why the meme needed its own movie.
- 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 Picture episode 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 Picture episode 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 still print 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 Metal Jack 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 II (2009): It's Halloween In Name Only and has an incoherent tone that's all over the place, but damn if it's not a fresh and original take on the series, combining Slasher Movie tropes with real-world Serial Killer mythos while examining the media's role in such crimes. It doesn't work all the way through, but it's easily the best film in the series since the 1978 original (though that may be damning it with faint praise), and much better than most other horror remakes thanks to Rob Zombie's singular, if flawed, vision.
- Halloween (2018): 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.
- 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.
- 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 Concept Subverted 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 Potter films 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.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Much of what he has to say about its predecessors applies to this film, too. He thought it was good, but still used his review to make fun of the Love Triangle that took up the middle of the film.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: Regards the film itself as a bit anticlimactic, and containing a couple of Adaptation Induced Plot Holes, but feels it works a lot better as an extended climax to the entire series, and that, if youve seen all the previous movies, you're practically obligated to see this.
- The Hateful 8: 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.
- The Heartbreak Kid (2007): Didn't review it, but in the In Bob We Trust episode "Top 10 Worst Remakes Ever", he listed it at number seven. The only thing interesting about it is its twist on the plot of the original 1972 film, and beyond that, it's little more than a lame attempt by the Farrelly Brothers to recapture their '90s Glory Days by recycling the raunchy humor of There's Something About Mary long after it had gone stale.
- 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): 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 Conspicuous 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 Dump World 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).
- The Help: While it's not a bad movie (he feels that Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer deserve Oscar nods for their performances), he sharply criticized it for inserting a White Man's Burden plot into the Civil Rights Movement. "Rosa who? Martin Luther what? Nah, it was that chick from Zombieland who really got the freedom ball rollin'!" Didn't review it, but he mentioned it at the beginning of his Fright Night (2011) review, then thoroughly dissected the Unfortunate Implications in his weekly editorial.
- Hercules: Discussed how the old Italian movies rested chiefly on their Estrogen Brigade for their popularity and appeal. On the 1983 movie by Cannon starring Lou Ferrigno, he described it as "so bad, yet bad in such a completely, uniquely, one-of-a-kind, what-the-hell-were-they-thinking way" that it took him two Big Picture episodes to describe it. It's chock full of Big-Lipped Alligator Moments that must be seen to be believed, does a very poor job of explaining its plot and makes mincemeat of Classical Mythology, yet it's strangely watchable. A few years later, in the In Bob We Trust episode "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 eight.
- Here Comes the Boom: "The Adam Sandler-produced movie with Kevin James as a teacher becoming an MMA fighter is a more thoughtful and uplifting movie about saving troubled students than the 'saving troubled students' movie starring two Oscar nominees.note Mull that one over for a bit." Didn't review it, but he mentioned it at the end of his Argo review.
- 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.
- Hide and Seek: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. It's yet another Creepy Child supernatural horror film trying to copy the success of The Sixth Sense, with jump scares galore, What an Idiot! decisions on the part of the main characters, derivative stylistic choices, and a third-act twist that you'll probably figure out less than halfway into the film. He gave it a 3 out of 10 and said it's only worth watching for Dakota Fanning's performance and for those who want to see Robert De Niro slumming it.
- Hider In The House: Talked about how the idea of Gary Busey in your house is a simple yet effective setup for a horror film, and how its distributor's financial problems have kept it on The Shelf of Movie Languishment. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "Space Invaders".
- 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 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: 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.
- 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 banned 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.
- House on the Edge of the Park: Called it a ripoff of The Last House on the Left and an excuse to show horrible things being inflicted on, and by, horrible people. He also found the twist at the end to be "groan-inducing." Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial "Test Your Might: Round 2", a discussion of "extreme" movies.
- The House With a Clock in Its Walls: It was a Cliché Storm of a modern, kid-friendly fantasy adventure film (the fact that it's based on a book that helped invent many of those cliches notwithstanding), but it's still a pretty decent one that earned two stars. He ranked it as better than the adaptation of The Spiderwick Chronicles but not as good as the adaptation of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, praising it for a great cast (especially Cate Blanchett) but taking off points for uneven storytelling and an anticlimatic finale. The big twist here was that this film was directed by Eli Roth, a filmmaker best known for R-rated splatter flicks committing Genre Adultery, and he brought some of those sensibilities to this film; unfortunately, the PG rating he was working with meant that, without being able to fall back on gorn and shock value, his limitations as a director were far more apparent.
- 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 heavy-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: 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-dated Shrek 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.
- 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 done better before, 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 Scout Ted 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 (2019 film): its release had been canceled led to a Big Picture episode, "The Big Misfire", in which he criticized Universal for doing so. 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. He thought that canceling 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 Too Soon justification for doing so was disingenuous given how many action movies filled with guns they and other studios regularly make. 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. News that
- 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 Star-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.
- I Am Legend: Didn't review it, but in his Game Overthinker episode "AfterMass", he used it as an example of the kind of negative effect that the "Retake Mass Effect" movement could have on gaming. To wit: what was a pretty good survival-horror film for most of its runtime was completely ruined by a Focus Group Ending that was put in because test audiences loudly criticized the original Downer Ending which fit the film's themes and tone a whole lot better as too depressing.
- I Am Number Four: Bob found the first hour to be torture, with a woefully miscast protagonist and a horribly generic Teen Drama storyline, but felt that a killer third act saved it from being a waste of his time. Overall, it's worth watching if you're in the target audience, with Bob comparing it to the '80s live-action Masters of the Universe movie in terms of teenage Wish Fulfillment fantasies.
- Ice Age: The first film was a really good, well-written kids' movie, with great voice actors (especially Ray Romano as the woolly mammoth Manny) and a surprising amount of depth and weighty subject matter that isn't often seen in modern children's entertainment. The sequels, on the other hand, are So Okay, It's Average and fairly inconsequential, being relatively funny on their own merits but never measuring up to the original, feeling more like sitcom spinoffs than successors. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of the fourth film
- Ice Age: Continental Drift: Reviewed it solely because nothing else came out that week, meaning that his review was much shorter than normal. Bob feels that, by this point, the series has run out of gas entirely; despite having a lot of talented voice actors involved, everything just feels pointless. The subplot involving Manny's Bratty Teenage Daughter is particularly cringeworthy. However, the funnier bits and self-deprecating nods to the last movie's implausibility save it from being truly bad.
- I Declare War: In the Game Overthinker episode "Stop Talking to Me About Ludonarrative Dissonance", he talked about the film's narrative hook of juxtaposing a group of kids' playground war games, "fought" with sticks and fruits for weapons, with the Rambo-esque fantasy that was playing out in their heads. He uses this as an example of how games should be striving to engage players as opposed to immersing them, saying that, if a game is fun, then players will use their imagination to immerse themselves.
- I, Frankenstein: It's not the worst movie about Frankenstein, which, really, is not saying much. It's essentially a poor man's Underworld that spends too much time on building its Cliché Storm mythology when it should have been fleshing out its cast, with Bill Nighy's Large Ham villain being the only interesting character. While Aaron Eckhart is likable in a Bruce Campbell sort of way as the protagonist, his character is a one-dimensional tough guy and the writing doesn't do him any favors. Bob wanted to like this movie as an adolescent-fantasy B-Movie like Underworld and Resident Evil, but overall, it doesn't even work on that level.
- Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS: The mother of all Nazisploitation flicks. Bob also finds it funny that this grisly film shot on the same prison camp sets once used by Hogan's Heroes. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial "Test Your Might", a discussion of "extreme" movies.
- Immortals: A "crowd-pleasing, gonzo action movie" that, while lacking in narrative depth, more than makes up for it with its over-the-top, fetishized style and ridiculous violence. Bob wishes that more mainstream action flicks took stylistic chances like this rather than embracing the same cookie-cutter macho fantasies.
- Inception: Overwhelmingly positive, calling it the best non-Pixar movie of the summer and the best movie of Christopher Nolan's career, though he noted that the plot may come off as rather emotionally cold due to its focus on story over Character Development. Coined the description "James Bond meets Freddy Krueger". As for fears that the Lowest Common Denominator wouldn't "get it", he cites The Matrix and District 9 in that, if there's enough fireworks, you'll be too busy having fun. Over the years, he's maintained it to be a showcase of Nolan's strengths as a filmmaker that tempers most of his weaknesses (especially in comparison with Interstellar, which he felt did the opposite), its themes about the power of logic and how emotion can threaten that lining up well with what is essentially a heist thriller.
- The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: A movie that should have been far funnier than it is. It's too insubstantial for him to call it bad, but given the talent involved, it should have been a lot better than mediocre. How the main character Took a Level in Jerkass is never explained, and his characterization is all over the place, as is the film's tone. Worst of all, most of the jokes just aren't funny. You'd be better off going to an actual magic show.
- The Incredible Hulk: Didn't review it, but in the Big Picture episode "Ranking the Marvel Movies", he declared it to be his second least-favorite Marvel movie, finding it to be an "adequate, but unspectacular" action movie.
- The Incredibles: Called it one of the best Pixar movies ever made, if not the best, even if the Ayn Rand allusions in Brad Bird's later film Tomorrowland cast some of its messages in a more unfortunate light. Didn't review it, but he discussed it while talking about its sequel...
- Incredibles 2: Before he reviewed it, he named it his ninth most anticipated film of 2018, albeit with a caveat. While he loved the original film, he felt that Bird had fallen into something of a Dork Age since, as evidenced by Tomorrowland and Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. That said, having loved the original, he was sold on the sequel. In his review, he called it a disappointment, saying that it felt like an Incredibles sequel that might have been thrown together quickly to make a quick buck rather than the product of nearly fifteen years' worth of waiting and definitely on the low end of Pixar's filmography. It didn't have that many clearly identifiable problems, instead just feeling "airless and uninspired" and generally So Okay, It's Average, lacking a singular story to keep him invested and instead jumping around between subplots that generally amounted to little. It was still funny and the animation was as beautiful as ever, but that wasn't enough to stop Bob from giving the film two and a half stars and saying that it wasn't worth the wait. He also noted that Bird seems to have an obsession with Objectivist themes about the weak and small-minded holding back the naturally superior, and joked that somebody at Disney ought to give him a hug before he goes off and builds Rapture.
- Independence Day: Did a special Fourth of July episode of Really That Good about it. He notes the Critical Dissonance that went on with this film both then and now, with professional film critics regarding it as everything they hated about junky, disposable, overhyped disaster movies, its box-office success being treated as all but a sign of the apocalypse. A big part of what made the film a hit, Bob argued, was its universality allowing it to appeal to just about every audience under the sun the design of the aliens and their ships deliberately evoked the most iconic images of such (flying saucers, The Greys) that everybody would recognize, while the characters are likewise incredibly arch to the point of almost being action figures played by human actors. But it takes them all in unique directions, giving them extra layers that subvert their clichéd exteriors: the Action Hero is a black guy from Los Angeles played by a rapper, the rugged, handsome war-hero President has people questioning his image, the crazy redneck was in a mixed-race partnership and is raising his partner's children, the mother figure is an exotic dancer, etc.
This extends to the general themes of the film, which Bob explores by looking at director Roland Emmerich and examining how many of his films were simultaneously popcorn blockbusters and "message movies". In this case, the message is one of unity and optimism, of humanity coming together, overcoming their differences, and rising up to defeat a grave threat. This produces a film that was, despite being named after and released around an American holiday, paradoxically the least overtly patriotic and most truly 'global' blockbuster Hollywood has ever made, something that becomes readily apparent in Bill Pullman's famous Rousing Speech that seems to be less about America as a nation and more about "America" as an ideal. The film's Creator Provincialism at times undercuts this theme, but it doesn't come close to ruining it. Between all that and the fact that it's simply a damn awesome action movie, he argues that it's stood the test of time so well thanks to a backlash against The War on Terror in the Turn of the Millennium, especially the Darker and Edgier blockbusters that came out of that period.
- Independence Day: Resurgence: Called it "the emptiest, most passionless big-scale blockbuster" in years, Emmerich's worst film since his Godzilla, and a clear example of him and everybody else involved clocking out and not caring. He feels that a sequel was always a bad idea, as by design, it would have to dispense with one of the original's greatest strengths: whereas the first film gave no characterization to the alien menace, allowing it to treat them like a natural disaster and thus put the focus on the human characters, this one has to give some sort of explanation, backstory, and lore to the aliens to explain why they're coming back. As a result, what the film does provide, which is mostly just Space Opera boilerplate, just distracts from the human characters. The film does have a couple of good ideas, one being to have a group of college-age young adults who have grown up knowing only a 'post-1996' world as major characters, and another being a subplot concerning one of the 1996 saucers landing in Central Africa and deploying ground troops that necessitate a decade-long war to defeat. However, it squanders the former by having these kids be mostly bland, uninteresting, and underdeveloped in favor of the returning characters, leading to the entire human side of the story being a wash, and the latter by relegating it to a subplot. Even the special effects and production values feel cheap, a shock given how the first film redefined blockbuster spectacle. Overall, it's such a terrible film, and such a disgrace to the original, that he later listed it as the second-worst film of summer 2016 and the fifth-worst of the year, summarizing his thoughts on it by showing a clip of William Hurt in A History of Violence asking "How do you fuck that up? How do you fuck that up?"
- Indiana Jones:
- Raiders of the Lost Ark: Discussed the film in the Big Picture episode "What Would Indy Do?", specifically the famous scene where Indy just shoots an Elite Mook wielding a sword rather than getting into a grueling battle with him using his whip. He argues that the reason why this scene worked and has been so widely imitated since (using examples from Punisher: War Zone, Die Hard, and the Marvel movies for comparison) is not just because it's a perfect encapsulation of all of Indy's Lovable Rogue qualities, but because it's the sort of meta-humor that takes the questions audiences were asking and answers them the same way that they would.
- Inferno: Bob describes both this film and the adaptations of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon books in general as an excuse for Hollywood A-listers who are otherwise unquestionably above the material to get together, goof off with pulpy stories, and produce entertaining popcorn movies. It's the definition of So Bad, It's Good, earning two and a half stars on the strength of its stylish direction (which he compares to a poor man's Dario Argento), a great cast, and an overall feel that he compares to "sitting in a bar room with the world's drunkest community college professor" in how it provides a good time while making the viewer feel smarter than they actually are.
- Infra-Man: The first foreign Spiritual Adaptation of the distinctly Japanese tokusatsu genre, it's frenetically paced and has at best an Excuse Plot. Bob, however, forgives that thanks to the amazing choreography and his appreciation for the genre. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in two In Bob We Trust episodes eighteen months apart: first in his 2015 Schlocktober special, and second in "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), wherein he named it at number three. In the latter case, he said it was MST3K's best shot at MSTing Power Rangers, which for his money was reason enough to feature it.
- Inglourious Basterds: The marketing campaign is highly misleading as to what the film is actually about, painting it as a typical Quentin Tarantino bloodbath instead of the spy thriller that it actually is, but it's still a great film on its own merits. It's the culmination of Tarantino's movie geekery, an exploration of the power that cinema has over people for both good and ill. And for those complaining about the Moral Dissonance of the heroes' actions: "Nazi uniform makes anything the good guys do to you 'okay.' It's an ironclad rule of filmmaking."
- Inherent Vice: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2014 he named it one of his top ten movies of the year. It takes a stereotypical Los Angeles crime drama and throws in the twist of everybody involved being so high on whatever they could get their hands on that they have no clue what the hell is going on, and it's amazing to watch.
- Inside Out: A masterpiece that stands proudly as Pixar's best since WALLE, even with a derivative plot that often feels like "Toy Story in a girl's head!" It tackles some heavy themes with the weight and thoughtfulness that they deserve, the visual style offers a great contrast between the vibrant world inside Riley's head and the more realistic one that Riley lives in, and while there's definitely some comic relief (it is Disney/Pixar, after all), it's still an emotionally wrenching experience. Highly recommended, albeit with some tissues on hand. At the end of 2015, he named it his eighth-favorite movie of the year.
- Insidious: "Proof that the Saw guys weren't one-trick ponies after all." He called it "sharp, fun, and joyfully scary" and loved its use of "old-school spook show tropes" (which shouldn't be as scary as they are, a testament to the film's quality) rather than graphic special effects or "cheapjack trickery". He particularly loved the fact that its protagonists were actually left the house almost immediately, even if it didn't do them much good in the long run. Later on, he also called the series one of the last 'old-school' horror franchises in the sense that the films defined themselves through things like recurring characters, continuity, and a distinctive visual style. Didn't review it, but he mentioned it at the beginning of his review of Your Highness, and went into further detail in his reviews of its sequels.
- Insidious: Chapter 2: In the Intermission editorial "Winter Is Coming", Bob expressed his excitement for it given his love of the first film, though he wondered how they were going to pull off a sequel given how the first film ended. When it came time to review it, he said that its biggest problems are that it largely feels like an extended third act for the first film, while its exploration of the ghost's backstory and use of worn-out horror clichés sapped a lot of the tension and mystery from the film. Furthermore, while most of the cast is rock-solid, Patrick Wilson's Bumbling Dad persona, which worked so well in the first film, isn't really well-suited to the more menacing direction that his character takes. Still, it's an effective film, and much better than one would expect for a horror film released in September.
- Insidious: Chapter 3: Feels that the series may finally be running out of steam, as while this film has fewer of the second one's most glaring problems, it's also the most 'conventional' film in the series thus far, with the mythos growing increasingly muddled and a lot of the scares fairly predictable if you've seen the last two. It still works, largely thanks to Lin Shaye as the "discount Doctor Strange" heroine Elise and a well-realized finale, but Bob wonders how long the series can keep going.
- Insidious: The Last Key: The best in the series since the first (which Bob applies to the film and its villain), it gets three stars and a recommendation for upholding its predecessors' reputation for being the 'fun' modern haunted-house franchise relative to The Conjuring movies. He also notes that this installment brings its franchise's theme of haunting as a metaphor for generational trauma to the foreground through how it tells Elise's backstory and that, due to its unyielding emphasis on technical competence, this was one of the few movie franchises from which he could tolerate multiple prequels (this being the sequel to Chapter 3, a prequel to the original, leading directly into the first film).
- The Internship: "That was so bad, I think I'll switch to Bing." It has no real jokes outside of its 'wacky' premise, the leads Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are outshone by their co-stars at every turn, and its idea of what the tech industry is like is rooted more in the days of AOL than Google. Speaking of Google, it feels like that company bought and paid for this film, with the work environment shown here being made to look like the best place in the world to have a job. Overall, it's on par with Wild Hogs and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell among the worst comedies Bob's ever seen in theaters. Reviewed it in the Intermission editorial "Intern-Minable".
- Interstellar: Called it an attempt to make a Steven Spielberg-esque science-fiction film that just didn't work, largely because it was originally written with Spielberg himself in mind as the director before Christopher Nolan came aboard. The big plot twists are either easy to predict or simply stupid (on which he goes into further, spoiler-filled detail in that week's Intermission editorial), while the film's striking visuals of alien worlds and outer space are undercut by frequent infodumps that stall the film and exist only to show viewers that, yes, the writers did their homework on this stuff. Most of all, however, Nolan, despite turning in extremely impressive work on a visual level (which kept the film from being outright bad), was easily among the directors most ill-suited to take on such a project, given that his famously clinical directorial style clashes badly with the film's emotional, humanistic core; the result feels like an alien trying to understand human emotion. He gave it two and a half stars, saying that it's only worth watching for its visuals, its solid cast, and as a curiosity for film geeks, and at the end of 2014 he named it one of his twenty least favorite movies of the year.
- The Interview: "This is what we're all getting worked up over?" He said that it was "a decent enough comedy," with good performances (especially from Randall Park as Kim Jong-un) and a solid, if predictable, buddy-comedy premise, but one that's going to be remembered more for the controversy that surrounded it rather than its own merits, and that said controversy is more a symbol of today's 'slacktivist' social media activism than anything else. He gave it three stars, saying it's worth watching for fans of Seth Rogen and James Franco, but it wasn't worth starting an international incident over.
- In Time: Highly recommended. It's more interested in ideas than plot, and it's not quite as good as the director's previous film Gattaca, but it's still well-made and extremely relevant.
- I Origins: At the start of his review of Lucy, when discussing that film's pseudoscience (which he felt to be mostly harmless), he used this film as an example of a new release that was far more harmful in its employment of bad science as a key component of its plot and message, calling it "an obnoxious, anti-science, reason-hating screed" that "repackages intelligent design as hipster New Age orientalism." He discussed it further in that week's Intermission editorial, where he said that it was insufferably twee, pretentious, and trite on top its questionable message, with a plot that plays out in an incredibly obvious manner, complete with an interview between Bob, director Mike Cahill and star Michael Pitt, where the latter two seemed to be fumbling for words trying to defend the movie. At the end of 2014, he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year.
- The Iron Lady: Meryl Streep is great as usual, but the film suffers from a refusal to examine its subject matter in any real depth, instead taking a by-the-numbers 'greatest hits' approach to Margaret Thatcher's government that leaves those who don't know much about the time period out in the cold. Bob ultimately found it to be a mediocre Oscar Bait biopic that will only appeal to fans of Thatcher her detractors will likely leave the theater with steam coming out of their ears, and those who don't know or care about her won't be impressed by the film.
- Iron Man: Loved it. It's a kick-ass movie on its own, but what truly made it great was that it was a property that had never been adapted before, meaning that it didn't have the weight of previous adaptations on its shoulders. That, and Nick Fury. The only real issues it had were a rather uninteresting villain and a disappointing final action scene. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Ranking the Marvel Movies" (where he named it his sixth-favorite Marvel movie out of nine), and he was compelled to mention it in his review of its sequel
- Iron Man 2: Initially, he liked it even more than the original, saying that, instead of changing the winning formula of the first film, it instead fixed only the parts that needed fixing (like the original's lackluster third act), allowing it to bear the weight of the much higher expectations that it had. However, later on he felt that he had been too kind to this film in his initial review, saying that it was his least favorite of all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. He felt that the second act tended to drag, feeling like "narrative wheel spinning" that was only there because of the need to build up to The Avengers, and that Whiplash was a boring villain. While it wasn't a bad movie, he felt it was only So Okay, It's Average and didn't fully work as a film, and that the stellar cast was the only thing that really saved it.
- Iron Man 3: Discussed his thoughts on the film in his Intermission editorials "Let's Watch the 'Iron Man 3' Trailer" and "The Uncertain Future". After The Avengers, he felt that it would be difficult for Marvel to return to smaller-scale films that focus on one superhero at a time, and will have to offer something very different from that film.
When it finally came out, he thought it was easily the best Iron Man movie yet and the best individual film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Captain America. It's great as a sequel to both Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, and as a standalone film in its own right, with Shane Black's direction (reuniting him with Robert Downey Jr. after Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) helping to make it stand out and the plot being surprisingly dark and subversive for a mainstream superhero film. The fight sequences compare well to classic Jackie Chan movies with their improv action, and Gwyneth Paltrow manages to be a standout in an amazing cast. The success of this film offers solid hope that Marvel knows what it's doing with "Phase Two" of the MCU. In the Big Picture episode "Summer's End", he listed it as one of his top ten movies of summer 2013, at the end of 2013 he named it a runner-up for his list of the best films of the year, and in the Big Picture episode "Ranking the Marvel Movies", he named it his fourth-favorite Marvel movie and the only Iron Man film that was great all the way through.
The following week, in the Big Picture episode "The Big Spoiler: 'Iron Man 3'", he discussed the film's big twist compared to the comic-book storylines it was based on. He discussed how a faithful adaptation of the Mandarin would not only run into Unfortunate Implications due to the character being based heavily on Yellow Peril iconography, but says it would have been too similar to Doctor Doom or a James Bond villain to be all that interesting. Without spoiling anything, he loved the twist that Marvel pulled with the MCU version of the Mandarin, saying it was both unexpected and smart while producing a very memorable character and story arc.
- Iron Man 4: Discussed the possibility of a fourth film in the Intermission editorial "Is It Really the End of the Iron Age for the Marvel Movies?", where he talked about a number of ways that the Iron Man films could go on without Downey, who had then-recently announced his desire to leave the series.
- Irreversible: A grueling film that's impossible to 'enjoy' properly, chiefly due to its infamous and chilling rape scene. The manner in which the film runs its scenes in reverse chronology makes for an interesting commentary on how Manipulative Editing can affect our perceptions of events on-screen if you have the stomach to sit through it a second time. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial "Test Your Might: Round 2", a discussion of 'extreme' movies.
- Isle of Dogs: It's a Wes Anderson movie both like any other (his Signature Style is so well suited to animation that Bob was surprised he had only done it once before, with Fantastic Mr. Fox) and unlike them (on paper, it seemed like it could have just as easily been another Ice Age movie), and it works well enough to earn three and a half stars. The set-up and its execution are very dark, mature, and clever for a family film, the Stop Motion makes everything looks terrific and realistic (in an Andersonian way), and several members of his usual Production Posse give great vocal performances as the dog protagonists. Most of the review, however, dealt with the stylistic choice of the heroes speaking American English and the villains un-subtitled Japanese; Bob thought it came just short of sliding into Unfortunate Implications, though he could see why other viewers might disagree.
- It (1990): A film that doesn't hold up well in hindsight outside of Tim Curry's great performance as Pennywise, and one of the rare horror films whose remake is, without question, the better film. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of said remake...
- It (2017): He was pleasantly surprised that this update was as good as it was. It solves the seemingly intractable problem of how to film one of the most seemingly unfilmable stories of Stephen King, a writer whose highly detailed and descriptive style already does not lend itself well to the screen, by focusing entirely on the storyline of the protagonists as children and saving the concurrent thread of them as adults for a sequel. Though it bears the 1986 King's Creator Thumbprint in good ways and bad, and feels largely familiar by now (especially coming right on the heels of Stranger Things), it's stupendously well-directed and acted, with Andrés Muschietti acquitting himself astonishingly well for a second-time feature film director, Bill Skarsgård's Pennywise being uniquely his own, and the mostly-newcomer child actors proving highly capable at handling mature drama. He gave it three and a half stars, calling it one of the best horror films of the year and one of the few good King horror adaptations (alongside Carrie (1976), The Mist, and The Shining).
- It: Chapter Two: Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. He loved the first one, and while he had his reservations over what a film composed entirely of the "awkward parts" of It would look like, he was intrigued to find out. When he reviewed it, however, he found it to be a big disappointment because one had to have seen Chapter One to understand Chapter Two and this film wasn't even very good. The All-Star Cast playing the Losers as adults felt inauthentic (and the characters themselves became basically caricatures), Pennywise wasn't nearly as scary, the reveals about the mythos fell into the trap of being silly and uninteresting, and it ill-advisedly and unsuccessfully tried to make the audience feel like there was a 27-year Sequel Gap, matching the adaptation style, instead of a two-year one. He gave it a 3 out of 10 and called it "a wash."
- It Comes at Night: As somebody who's getting tired of most modern post-apocalyptic stories, he really liked this film for its deconstruction of many of the genre's tropes in the form of a tense Psychological Horror film, though he couldn't go into much detail without risking spoilers. He gave it three stars and compared it to a feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt in the best way, even if he admitted that its slow pace and lack of obvious scares may turn off some viewers.
- I, Tonya: While the trailers did a great job selling the Black Comedy tone of this film (a biopic of Tonya Harding that focuses on her infamous rivalry with Nancy Kerrigan), they didn't do so well at conveying the sadness and anger that runs through it as well, framing the manner in which Harding became a media punchline as pop culture "punching down" at somebody whose life had already been a Trauma Conga Line before then, and whom it saw as a white-trash Lower-Class Lout who had no business in a "sophisticated" sport like figure skating. The film firmly establishes Margot Robbie as a superstar (as if walking away from Suicide Squad with her career unscathed wasn't enough indication), with her delivering an Oscar-worthy performance that makes Harding into a figure you can't help but sympathize with even if what she did went beyond the pale, and her performance is matched only by Allison Janney as her monstrous Stage Mom, a performance that, in his 2018 Academy Awards preview, he pegged (correctly) to win Best Supporting Actress. While some flat direction and unconvincing Stunt Double work for the skating scenes held it back, he still gave it three stars primarily for Robbie's performance.
- It's Alive: A film that many people know more by reputation than by having actually seen it. What makes it work is the fact that it plays its Enfant Terrible plot completely straight rather than for camp value, and never actually tells the viewers why the monster baby turned out the way it did, though the hints that it does drop are chilling. The final scene was particularly memorable. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Moviebob's Forgotten Monsters".
- Jack and Jill: Didn't review it, but he mentioned it offhandedly in his Artist review as the other extreme to The Tree of Life on the spectrum of artistic ambition in which his then-subject was occupying the 'golden mean', and again in his Pixels review as the main reason why the latter film is 'only' "the worst Adam Sandler movie where he's not doing a stupid fucking voice affectation."
- Jack Reacher: It's completely ridiculous, but it doesn't pretend to be realistic, and Bob got some laughs about Tom Cruise being too short to fit the Character Shilling his title character got from the other characters. Also, casting Werner Herzog as the villain was inspired. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of its sequel
- Jack Reacher: Never Go Back: " should have taken its own advice." It looks and feels cheaper than its predecessor, which he attributes to the fact that its production relocated from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans and didn't even bother with California Doubling. The plot about Reacher trying to clear murder charges against his would-be Love Interest (played by Cobie Smulders, whose surprisingly good Action Girl turn was the only thing Bob liked about this film) fits into the books' Rule-Abiding Rebel standard: have a story about corruption in the US military by having all the corrupt parties be Private Military Contractors, not the actual military. Meanwhile, the long, glacially paced cross-country chase scenes make less sense here than he assumed they did in the books. It doesn't even try hard enough to be offensively terrible, and he can't decide which would be worse. He gave it one star, saying simply, "Nobody needs to see this."
- Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: A film that's stuck between trying to reinvent Jack Ryan as a Jason Bourne-esque character and remaining faithful to Tom Clancy's books, leading to a boring, half-assed mess that messes up both of those. The fact that Ryan is essentially a Marty Stu Author Avatar for Clancy meant that the filmmakers didn't have much to work with in the first place, but even then, the action is dull, the villain's Evil Plan and some of the plot devices are cartoonish and impossible to take seriously like the film wants you to, Chris Pine once more makes for a dull lead, and Keira Knightley has almost nothing to do.
- Jack the Giant Slayer: A bad piece of trash that, unlike parts of the similar Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, never becomes entertainingly So Bad, It's Good. The story feels like an unused outline for a Renaissance-era Disney fantasy movie, it has an overly complicated mythology for a movie adapted from a fairy tale, and its disparate elements don't mesh together it can't seem to decide if it wants to be a gritty reboot of Jack and the Beanstalk or a family adventure movie.
- The James Bond films: He's very old-school in his tastes concerning the series, preferring the more over-the-top films of the Sean Connery and Roger Moore eras with their exotic locales, crazy gadgets, and memorable villains. For a long time, he felt that the Daniel Craig films didn't feel like 'true' Bond films, given how he feels that the main purpose of the franchise has long been to pull the viewer into a particular world, and that the Craig films lost a lot of that. Skyfall, however, made him change his mind.
- Casino Royale (2006): A "legitimately awesome movie", even if it felt like it had less in common with Bond than it did with Batman Begins and The Bourne Identity. As such, he views it as having foreshadowed many of the problems with the Craig era, arguing that, while a back-to-basics reboot/origin story was exactly what the series needed at that point, its lack of the traditional Bond identity burst into full bloom with Quantum of Solace and Spectre. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his reviews of Skyfall and Spectre.
- Quantum of Solace: A "pointless slog" that, to Bob, proves that Darker and Edgier and James Bond just doesn't work well together, viewing it as the point where the Craig era's copying of the Bourne series got out of control. He considers it about as bad a Bond film as Diamonds Are Forever. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his fall 2012 preview while discussing Skyfall, as well as in his reviews of Skyfall and Spectre.
- Skyfall: Not only is it a great action movie, but it's Craig's first Bond film to feel like a true Bond movie as well, successfully combining the atmosphere and plots of Bond films past (Bob compares it to "James Bond vs. the Joker") with the more grounded feel of Casino Royale. It manages to pull the three Craig films into an origin trilogy that elevates the last two films by association, and Sam Mendes, given his background with dramas, is startlingly adept at shooting a big-budget action movie, avoiding the pitfalls into which so many other such films fall.
- Spectre: Disliked it profoundly, arguing that the Craig era of Bond films has run itself into a ditch creatively. It's a pure ripoff of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, both in terms of lifting its plot from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and in terms of trying to pull the past three (mostly unconnected) films into a broader universe without having done any of the prep work needed to execute it, resulting in a plot that makes absolutely no logical sense and whose twists can be seen from miles away. Between that, a supporting cast that's either bland or criminally wasted, and action scenes that he found forgettable at best, Bob ranks it next to Die Another Day and Never Say Never Again as one of the worst films in the James Bond series.
- Jaws: Hasn't reviewed it, but in a "How to Fix" episode of In Bob We Trust, he pointed to it as one of the films that he regards as untouchable from a remake or sequel standpoint. He thinks every Jaws sequel sucked because the first movie exhausted the premise's potential. The only possible route he can see for a new Jaws is a post-modernist one, in which Amity Island has rebuilt its tourism industry around sharks in a manner not unlike Salem, Massachusetts, and even then, the resulting film would probably be So Bad, It's Good at best.
- Jennifer's Body: Completely hated it, devoting most of the review specifically to bashing Megan Fox, while claiming that Diablo Cody's Signature Style of 'hip' slang was almost unbearable. He later came back to it (at the end of his Surrogates review) to say that Ginger Snaps did the same story much better.
- Jersey Girl: Considers it the movie that marked the beginning of Kevin Smith's decline as a filmmaker, arguing that its failure both ended the critics' favorable perception of him and arguably wounded his confidence in his ability to make films not connected to The View Askewniverse. He also discussed its unfortunate connection to the romance between stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, the media burnout of which likely contributed to the film's hasty editing to trim down Lopez's role and its disappointing box-office performance. He doesn't think it's as bad as its reputation suggests, but still finds it to be disposable. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "The Fall of Kevin Smith, Part III."
- Jobs: Called it a "sycophantic hagiography" of Steve Jobs that either glosses over or attempts to justify a lot of the real man's character flaws. The difference between this film and The Social Network, a film that he sees this as a pale imitation of, is that the latter seemed to recognize how silly its subject matter was, while this film seems to fully buy into Jobs' cult of personality. Reviewed it in the Intermission editorial "Based on a True* Story".
- John Carter: It's all right, but given the revolutionary legacy and long shadow of the books it was based on, it should have been a lot better. Great action scenes and what should be a star-making performance by Lynn Collins as the Action Girl female lead are undermined by a miscast Taylor Kitsch as the protagonist and a seeming desperation by the filmmakers to avoid the novels' pulpy roots, often mangling the story in the process.
- John Wick: Called it "a Slasher Movie turned inside-out" where the killer is the hero, and a really, really good example of the stylish 'unstoppable badass' action movies that were big in the '90s, with Keanu Reeves being perfectly cast in the title role — albeit with way more blood than any of those films had, which he later (in his review of the third film) described as a key part of the series' appeal. He also found it to be a great example of how to do World Building right without needless exposition, letting us learn about its organized crime universe just through the presence of its supporting cast (made up of a 'who's who' of character actors) and the actions they undertake. He gave it four stars, calling it "a can't-miss for hard action fans."
- John Wick: Chapter 2: He named it his second most anticipated film of 2017, saying that anybody who's seen the first one should understand just why he's looking forward to its sequel. He repeated that sentiment when it came time to review it, opening his review with "it's another John Wick movie, I don't have to say another damn thing!"note The genius of both this film and the first was that, while John Wick was portrayed as supremely badass, all the fighting was shown to leave him worn-out and tired by the end (which Reeves sold exceptionally well), making it a Run the Gauntlet experience that the sequel had no problem escalating by simply throwing wave after wave of equally-badass killers at him. The result is a film that easily lived up to the original in terms of being an amazing action movie experience, even if it lacked the surprise of the original and didn't have any scenes that stood out as much as its nightclub shootout (though the museum scene here came close). He gives it three-and-a-half stars and called it "as good as movies like this get".
- John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum: Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019, largely on the strength of its predecessors. In his review, he said that it aimed for the best of its predecessors' worlds, the first one's non-stop action and the second one's greater focus on Character Development, and did so more or less successfully. The action scenes he figured would likely be impossible for any film that year to beat, starting strong and only topping themselves from there. Scenes that would've been show-stopping climaxes in other films are here just more awesome action sequences out of many as the film marches to the finish line. It also boasted a great supporting cast, particularly Asia Kate Dillon as the villains' henchperson and Halle Berry as John's Distaff Counterpart and ally, the latter making Bob wish that Berry did more action movies as opposed to chasing critical respectability for so much of her career. That said, while he liked how the film used its action as a metaphor for John's struggles with grief and depression, with him literally fighting to stay alive so he can continue to mourn the loss of his loved ones, he felt that the film could've weaved that metaphor into the story much better as opposed to just having John say it out loud, and that overall, it was a fairly shallow film that mistook the illusion of depth for the real thing. He gave it a 7 out of 10 and recommended it to anybody who was a fan of action movies, saying that, while he was mildly disappointed, that was only because there was so much that was awesome about the film that the parts he didn't like only stuck out that much more.
- Joker (2019): Before he reviewed it, he devoted several Big Picture episodes ("Stop Me if You've Heard This One", "We Live in a Society", and "The Shilling Joke") to it. He said that the idea of doing an origin movie for The Joker as a prestige drama in a world without Batman or the rest of his Rogues Gallery sounded like something that a Sketch Comedy show might come up with as a parody of Hollywood. While he liked the idea and cast and thought the trailer looked fine, it felt like one of the countless "ordinary guy gets pushed to the breaking point" thrillers that have tried to follow in the footsteps of Taxi Driver, just with a recognizable comic book villain as the guy in question. In particular, he worried that making the Joker into a good guy, or even a sympathetic Anti-Villain, would ruin the entire point of the character and the mystique surrounding him; one thing he felt that The Killing Joke got right was in portraying the Joker not as an average Joe who went over the edge after one bad day, but as somebody who was probably always a bastard and already on the edge if just one bad day could push him over.
A month before it was released in America, just after its rapturous reception at the Venice Film Festival, he contemplated its possible stateside reception. On one hand, it could get Oscar nods for Joaquin Phoenix as Best Actor and/or Best Picture, and Bob himself was willing to cut Warner Bros. some license to experiment and make comic book movies that didn't conform to the tropes of the traditional superhero movie. On the other, people could see it as another regrettable case of a film seeming to justify people with terrible politics being terrible in a year that had seen more than its share of violence motivated by terrible politics (and would probably attract a badly Misaimed Fandom comparable to those of many of Martin Scorsese's films, which clearly inspired Joker). That being said, the fact that it seemed like both the people praising the film and those criticizing it seemed to bring up the same points about it had him worried, since those points indicated that the film would head in precisely the direction that he hoped it wouldn't.
Just before the film opened, he talked about how it had become an unexpected cause célèbre for some of the people who bemoan 'Political Correctness Gone Mad', spurred by some of director Todd Phillips' comments in interviews (which he also noted was a Flip-Flop of God). His ultimate takeaway from that was the reminder that, notwithstanding what looked like very real attempts to say something, Joker was still made with the intention of making money and Warner Bros. likely figured there was No Such Thing as Bad Publicity in that people touting seeing it as a revolutionary act would drive them to buy tickets to see it. In short, the bulk of the joke might be on some of that Misaimed Fandom.
Ultimately, he was extremely disappointed when it came time to review it, calling it "a movie that has nothing to say but somehow still won't shut up." It was technically well-made but an absolute mess when it came to its narrative and the themes and message it was trying to convey, squandering Phoenix's great performance, its gorgeous retro production design, and all the potential of its premise while thinking itself to be far deeper and more insightful than it was. He compared it to a pop culture mashup T-shirt where the inspiration began and ended with the Rule of Cool (in this case, a Joker movie done as a Scorsese-style crime drama), one that struggled to find a coherent dramatic through-line or a driving motivation or characterization for the Joker. Its use of its '80s New York-inspired setting felt shallow and clashed with elements of the plot, like it was there simply to remind the viewer of older, better films, while the supporting cast (especially Zazie Beetz) was wasted and the various disparate story elements (particularly the two big ones, Arthur Fleck's slide into becoming the Joker and the rise of a populist movement in Gotham City) never gelled together into a cohesive whole. He gave it a 4 out of 10 and said that, while he wished studios would take more risks with superhero movies, this was an enormous misfire. The following week, he spent the Big Picture episode "Punchline" going into more (spoiler-filled) detail on the plot and what he didn't like about it.
- Jumanji: It's not bad, but not a classic, and Bob suspects that it's remembered as one more for how strange it is than anything. It's a lot darker and more downbeat than many people remember it being, especially by the standards of an effects-driven kids' fantasy movie, with Robin Williams playing more in his dramatic mode than his comedic one. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of its sequel...
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: It has a fun premise (high school students from different cliques and backgrounds are thrust into video game avatars that reflect the opposite of who they are), and is funny and entertaining enough as a lightweight action-comedy, with Jack Black and Karen Gillan stealing the show. Unfortunately, nobody involved seemed to be striving for anything more, and it's practically an In Name Only sequel in terms of having little to do with the original beyond the basic conceit of a game (a board game in that film, a video game in this one) coming to life. He gave it two stars and said that "it's more forgettable than bad, but if you skip it, you won't have to bother forgetting it." Almost a year later, however, in the Big Picture episode "MovieBob Was Wrong", he came back to it to say that he had severely underrated it at the time, praising it for its great cast and its parody of video game logic while saying that a lot of its best qualities didn't really come through for him until he rewatched it. He used that as a jumping-off point for how people's attitudes and viewpoints can change and evolve over time, sometimes radically, and how the Internet, which has left a paper trail of everything that people have said and done in their lives, has made it nearly impossible to express one's viewpoints honestly without being branded a hypocrite for contradicting something they'd said previously.
- Jupiter Ascending: It's a gorgeous-looking film, but one where most of the big ideas and world-building feel like they'd been left on the cutting room floor, leaving the rest of the movie feeling uninvolving and thematically empty. Bob left the theater anxious to see a Director's Cut of the film. He also noted the plot's similarities to the Wachowskis' The Matrix. Overall, he gave it two and a half stars, recommending it for its visuals and for die-hard fans of the Wachowskis but little else.
- Jurassic Park: It's a movie franchise that Bob finds has redone its story (going back to a dinosaur zoo as an excuse to engage in Finagle's Law and have dinosaurs chase people) a few too many times. As such, while he doesn't think the sequels are nearly as bad as the Jaws ones, he was amazed (as discussed in his review of the fifth film Fallen Kingdom) that it took until that movie to make a truly different movie.
- Jurassic Park: He views it as a great film and one of the better works in Steven Spielberg's resume, but not an unassailable classic, calling it a "member of the Three-Star Spielberg Club" whose status as one of the greatest films of all time is due to the Nostalgia Filter of people who grew up in the early '90s. He applauds the film for Spielberg's technical skill and for its amazing special effects, but when it comes down to it, he still prefers older dinosaur/monster/prehistoric movies like One Million Years B.C. and King Kong (1933).
- The Lost World: Jurassic Park: Didn't review it, but he brought it up in his Intermission editorial "That One Part Was Awesome", in which he touched on the best parts of a few big movies he didn't like (said part being T. rexs rampage through San Diego, for The Lost World). He thought it was sloppy and phoned-in, but still an off-his-game Spielberg did better than some other filmmakers might have done even if they tried. In his review of Jurassic World, he added that while the action sequences in general were good, the plot was mean-spirited.
- Jurassic Park III: Didn't review it, but in his flashback review of The Phantom Menace he said that film, like Jurassic Park III, was just another technically fine but thinly written Hollywood blockbuster among many. He reiterated this sentiment in his review of
- Jurassic World: Before its release, he discussed his thoughts on the trailer in the Big Picture episode "Dinosaur Exodus" and the special Escape to the Movies episode "Trailer Park". He felt that the film's premise was what the second movie should have been, and loved the idea of the old, "natural" dinosaurs fighting the new hybrid dinos. He also strongly disagreed with the idea that the film should represent what dinosaurs really looked like (i.e. it's pretty much the consensus opinion among paleontologists that most of them had feathers), as, while it would have been scientifically accurate, they wouldn't look nearly as cool as the more reptilian, dragon-like dinosaurs for which the series is famous. He does admit, however, that it's silly to oppose feathered dinosaurs for that reason (even if he still cheekily thinks he's right), using the subject as a jumping-off point for discussing the difference between many people's nostalgia and preconceptions of history and what we actually know about various time periods. And as for the shot of the raptors running alongside Chris Pratt, he thought it looked badass no matter what people said.
When it came time to review it, he compared it to Aliens in the sense of it being a much bigger and badder version of the first film, a decision that he felt to be questionable, finding the film to be so fast-paced that the first act was almost lost in the shuffle. Still, the film is so absurdly silly (especially with Chris Pratt's Marty Stu hero) that it almost makes up for it, with director Colin Trevorrow playing both its story and its message with a winking self-awareness that Bob felt to be a huge breather in a world of Darker and Edgier summer blockbusters. There were times when he feared that this light, flippant tone was being used to cover for truly shallow writing, but overall, he gave it his firm recommendation as a fun, big-budget B-Movie that wasn't the least bit ashamed of what it was.
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: Before he reviewed it, he named it an honorable mention for his most anticipated films of 2018. He loves dinosaur movies, he loves disaster movies, and he was set on seeing this no matter how stupid it admittedly looks. When he reviewed it, he praised director J.A. Bayona's "go-for-broke visual imagination" that incorporated a remarkable Tear Jerker moment, the "literally apocalyptic setup" of destroying Jurassic World, the attempt to make the dinosaurs the heroes, and the Universal Horror-esque elements. However, he thought the last of these was underused, didn't like that it only teased Dr. Wu's potential "dinosaur soldier" story again, and didn't see why Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard were respectively repeating Owen and Claire's characterizations straight when they were a joke in World. He gave it two and a half stars, saying he enjoyed it but not enough to overlook its failure to meet its own potential, and began his video review with forty seconds of himself over footage from its trailer culminating with himself saying "I have now been in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for as long as Jeff Goldblum has."
- Justice League (2017): When the DC Extended Universe was in its infancy, he discussed the idea of this film the Big Picture episode "Enough with the Batman, Already!" He thought Warner Bros. was worrying too much about trying to fit Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy in with the movie and that they not only could, but should slack off on Batman, using him mainly as a way to get butts into seats rather than rehashing the character's arc. After all, audiences had just had a surge of high-quality Batman-related media in the form of both movies and video games, and there was a big risk that audiences could suffer Bat-burnout if Warner Bros. tried to use the Justice League movie to reboot the franchise.
As the DCEU developed, he came back to name it #1 on his list of ten 2017 films that he most expected to suck, and discussed his thoughts further in the In Bob We Trust episode "Flashpoint for Batfleck?" and in a "How to Fix" episode. The DCEU had done little for him outside of Wonder Woman (2017), and he saw no indication at all that this film would reverse the trajectory of a franchise that was three false starts deep, especially given that it seemed to be repeating all their mistakes. He said "it looks just like the Justice League movie that wouldve been greenlit a week after the first X-Men opened, and it wouldve looked terrible then, too, for all the same reasons." Going by the trailers, it had the same overwrought tone as its predecessors, a generic MacGuffin-hunt plot by all indication, and characters who looked ridiculous, while he saw giving Zack Snyder creative control over the franchise as having been a terrible idea in hindsight. The film's Troubled Production, particularly Snyder leaving the reshoots to Joss Whedon as a result of his daughter's suicide, didn't help matters any. He thinks that George Miller's idea for a standalone Justice League movie serving as the launch pad for the DCEU might have been the better move.
When it came time to review it, he said that it was better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice but it was still comparable to Suicide Squad in terms of quality, earning the same star-and-a-half grade and third-place ranking on his list of the worst movies of its year that that film did. In other words, it was about what he expected given both its troubled production and the franchise it's part of. He might have called this movie So Okay, It's Average if not for its bloated budget and the disservice it does to its iconic characters, with most of them being annoying (Jason Momoa's Aquaman especially having zero screen presence), thinly written, or (in Ben Affleck's case) looking like they were just waiting to collect their paychecks. If anything, it's probably even less interesting than Batman v Superman, being just a boring, middle-of-the-road corporate vehicle rather than a raging dumpster fire where one could spend hours dissecting everything that went wrong, this film's makers having seemingly gone out of their way to avoid even the possibility of another disaster like that even if it meant stripping the film of all substance beyond wisecracks, action scenes, heroic poses, money shots, and a plot ripped off from The Avengers. The post-production hatchet job done on the lighting and color palette made the film look downright ugly, calling attention to mountains of Conspicuous CG to the point where he compared it sincerely to Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. While it provided some cheap thrills as an empty popcorn blockbuster, its many faults carried the day.
- Kick-Ass: It greatly simplified and sanitized the story of the original comic, but in doing so it removed a lot of Mark Millar's worst excesses and injected the story with a degree of humanity that allowed it to hold together much better. The casting and characters were perfect, the extreme, Troma-esque violence was shocking to see in a movie like this, and it was hilarious. Bottom line: it kicks ass.
- Kick-Ass 2: A lot of what Bob said about the original (particularly in terms of it being better than the source material) also applied here, earning his recommendation as one of the summer's better action flicks. The lack of Nicolas Cage was sadly noticeable, but the supporting cast (particularly Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars & Stripes and Olga Kurkulena as Mother Russia) largely made up for it, while he also appreciated its embrace of Silver Age heroics (especially in light of Man of Steels Darker and Edgier tone) and the interplay of its "sick, dirty, and vile" sense of humor with its otherwise light tone. If he had any real problem with it, it's that the story was more predictable this time around, losing some of the original's chaotic energy. However, Bob later vehemently retracted his positive assessment of the movie, claiming it was "horrible" and that his review was "about the wrongest Ive ever considered myself in hindsight."
- The Kid Who Would Be King: As long-awaited second directorial efforts go, this was very different from Attack the Block in Joe Cornish's nascent filmography, but still a very good kids' movie partly because it commits to being a kids' movie without overdoing the Parental Bonuses. The great acting was its greatest asset (especially Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of Andy, as the Spielbergian Kid Hero and Angus Imrie as the young, clownish Merlin), its main battle sequence was perfectly targeted to young proto-film geeks (such that he predicted the movie would make many children into film geeks), it deftly melded Arthurian mythology with contemporary social commentary to craft a story about young people battling an apocalypse caused by grown-ups, and it communicated its ideas very well for unabashedly light entertainment, even approaching The Last Jedi as a Genre Deconstruction — albeit likely more palatable to Arthurian devotees than that movie was to certain Star Wars fans. He gave it 8 out of 10 and called it the new generation's The Last Starfighter or The Goonies.
- Killing Them Softly: A character-focused exploration of the banality of criminal life that can seem slow, but that's the entire point. The acting and directing are uniformly excellent (even if it can feel that Brad Pitt is just playing an evil version of his Ocean's Eleven character; not that Bob's complaining), and while its politics and background commentary on the recession may come off as pretentious, Bob commended the bluntness and sincerity with which they were presented.
- Kill List: "You should see this movie but I can't tell you why." Didn't review it, but he mentioned it in his double-review of Detention and Lockout.
- King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: Before he reviewed it, he named it #10 on his list of ten 2017 films that he most expected to suck. It was a film that nobody asked for, yet another Darker and Edgier reboot of the King Arthur mythos that was meant to launch a six-movie franchise, and it was directed by Guy Ritchie, who hadn't made a good movie since 2008's Rock N Rolla. He expected this would amount to 2017's version of 2016's Ben-Hur remake, and indeed, after seeing it, he gave it one star out of four and the same eighth-place ranking on his list of the worst movies of its year that he gave that film. It was at its best when Ritchie was free to play to his strengths, making what was basically one of his usual London Gangster flicks only set in The Dung Ages, but sadly, most of that was reserved for the first act to what turns out to be a terribly generic Dark Fantasy film. It bears little resemblance to the classic mythos beyond a few surface elements like the sword Excalibur and the characters' names, instead cribbing influences from both Robin Hood and The Dark Knight Trilogy for a punishingly boring story so needlessly convoluted that he had to spend over a minute and a half just recounting it. Furthermore, it was an ugly film to watch and few of the actors left much presence (except for Jude Law as the villain and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), with the worst offender being "human charisma vacuum" Charlie Hunnam as the lead.
- The King of Comedy: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Stop Me If You've Heard This One", mainly to note how it's often said to have inspired the takes on The Joker from The Killing Joke and the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Make 'Em Laugh", both of which portrayed him as a failed comedian who takes his bitterness out on the world by turning to supervillainy. He also described it as an underrated gem in Martin Scorsese's filmography, especially for Jerry Lewis' performance.
- King Kong (1976): Discussed the film's Troubled Production, the publicity stunt/debacle in which the producers claimed to have actually built a life-size King Kong robot, the manner in which Universal tried to enforce its dubious claim to the King Kong copyright, and how the film's climax, moved from the Empire State Building to the then-new World Trade Center, is now pretty hard to watch. Overall, it's not a very good movie, trying to imitate the epic disaster movies of the time but just feeling rather dull. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his 2012 "Schlocktober" special for The Big Picture.
- King Kong Lives: A bad movie, but more enjoyable than the '76 remake to which it's a sequel, thanks to such crazy moments as the Gulliver's Travels-esque heart surgery scene and the romance between a pair of 50-foot gorillas. He also notes how producer Dino De Laurentiis had an obsession with creating his own answer to Jaws, trying to turn his King Kong remake into a franchise. Discussed it in his 2012 "Schlocktober" special.
- Kingdom of Heaven: Didn't review it, but he made a mention to it in his Robin Hood (2010) review and said you should watch this film's Director's Cut over over Hood.
- Kingsman: The Secret Service: Bob felt that it suffered from a wildly inconsistent tone that practically turned it into a walking contradiction, what with the clash of director Matthew Vaughn's playfulness and the nihilism of Mark Millar (who wrote the comic the film was based on), that of the film's Working-Class Hero Eggsy proving himself to the snobbish, aristocratic Kingsman agents and the film's wholehearted embrace of said aristocratic snobbery, and that of the film's graphic violence and raunchy sense of humor and its attempts to be heartfelt and serious. He also found it to contain an anti-American undercurrent that bordered on the comical, especially as far as its boorish Silicon Valley villain was concerned. Still, he felt that Taron Egerton and Colin Firth were great as the leads, and that Vaughn proved himself once again to be an excellent filmmaker when it comes to this sort of "Troma on a bigger budget" action. Overall, while its glaring weaknesses keep it from becoming a classic like Vaughn and Millar's previous collaboration Kick-Ass, its high points are so high that they redeem it overall, making it a very fun trip to the movies. This was the last film he reviewed for The Escapist. At the end of 2015, he named it an honorable mention for the best films of the year.
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle: He compared it to Men in Black II in terms of sequels that fail to live up to their predecessors' potential, instead settling for recycling the same old story beats even at the expense of undercutting the arcs the characters had in the originals. It was a better film than Men in Black II, to be sure, a "basically serviceable, here-we-go-again sequel" that will appeal to anybody who liked the original, but it didn't offer a really compelling reason for audiences to care, lacking the first film's thematic core of Eggsy's journey and its juxtaposition of the Kingsmen's elitism with the villain's Kill the Poor plot. Furthermore, even though it continually tried to top the first film's set pieces, it never really pulled it off, while some of the sex gags were too sleazy for him to find funny. That said, the cast and the action were still solid, with Julianne Moore especially stealing the show as the villain. He gave it two and a half stars, saying "it's alright, but only alright" and a letdown from the original.
- The King's Speech: Bob found it to be little more than pandering (though admittedly well-made) Oscar Bait, even going so far as to make his review of it into a "How to Make Oscar Bait" instruction video.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Describes it as Robert Downey Jr.'s real Career Resurrection as opposed to Iron Man, and said it was fitting that writer-director Shane Black reunited with Downey for Iron Man 3. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of Iron Man 3.
- Kiss Me Deadly: Discussed it in an episode of Good Enough Movies. Between its deconstruction of its own source material (Bob compares it to Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers in that regard) and its Darker and Edgier tone, it never really found its audience among moviegoers and critics in The 50s, but today, it's worth watching as a film that strips away the Hollywood gloss from the Hardboiled Detective, with Ralph Meeker's thuggish portrayal of the pulp literature hero Mike Hammer elevating this film above many of its B-Movie Film Noir peers. It's a knuckle sandwich of a movie that's about as dark as a film like this could get under The Hays Code, and without spoiling anything, its massive Genre Shift halfway through both made for a very creative way around the censorship of the time and provided what felt like a fittingly apocalyptic end for the sleazy underworld the film took place in.
- Knight and Day: Nothing objectively wrong with it it's got good actors with good chemistry, a breezy pace, and fun action and stunt work and if you're looking for ninety minutes of escapism, it'll fit the bill admirably enough. But Bob felt it was bland and formulaic, having seen more movies like this than he can count, and uses that as a launch pad to explore the disconnect between professional critics who see tons of movies and 'normal' moviegoers who don't. Since there's not much more he can say regarding this movie, he decides to spend the second half of the review discussing The Smurfs movie.
- Knives Out: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. The All-Star Cast looks good, but he's most excited to see Rian Johnson going back to his murder-mystery roots, especially after The Last Jedi.
- Kong: Skull Island: It's a movie that he "expected to like and ended up mostly liking", on account of the premise alone ticking off all his boxes for a cool adventure flick and then delivering on that promise. It may not be a great film, with quite a few moments running headfirst into Fridge Logic, but it's still a well-made and highly enjoyable B-Movie, succeeding where the 2014 Godzilla reboot failed by allowing itself to cut loose and have fun with its premise. It's got a great cast (especially John C. Reilly as a stranded World War II-era naval pilot), and its '70s Genre Throwback style helps it stand out in a pack of giant monster movies that usually draw their influence from either vintage Japanese kaiju flicks or from Jurassic Park, even if its big-budget spectacle means that it often lacks the low-budget charm of its inspirations. He gave it three stars and called the sort of movie he'd probably have fallen in love with and watched a thousand times as a kid.
- Kubo and the Two Strings: Gave it three and a half stars, calling it "a miniature masterpiece you must experience in theaters" and up there with Coraline as the second-best film Laika has made (ParaNorman being number one). It's a movie that should have been a disaster, a case of Laika trying and failing to imitate the style of Studio Ghibli and letting their twee sensibilities get the better of them, but they pull it off and deliver one of the best films of 2016, and certainly the best animated film. Even if the narrative could have stood to be more original, Laika's traditional strength when it comes to the visual flair of its stop-motion animation produces a film that's as stunning as anything they've ever made, and the voice cast is all-around amazing. He later listed it as the fourth-best film of summer 2016 and the tenth-best of the year, telling everybody to go see it already and not let it turn into another Acclaimed Flop that's only later Vindicated by Netflix.
- Lady Bird: Didn't review it, but in his 2018 Academy Awards preview, he pegged the film's writer/director Greta Gerwig as one of his three picks to win Best Director that year, even if he thought that she really deserved Best Original Screenplay. While he thought the film itself was "good, but slight", he thought that Gerwig's background as an actor-turned-filmmaker would play well to Academy voters.
- Lady in the Water: Marks the nadir of M. Night Shyamalan's ego-tripping, which results in a mess that stands as one of his worst films. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "Nightfall", a retrospective of Shyamalan's career.
- Lakeview Terrace: Not bad, but still basically a B-Movie about an interracial couple dueling with a bigoted, possibly psychotic neighbor who happens to be a police officer, 'goosed' by making the villainous bigot a black guy. Well-performed and subtle up to a point, but hard to distinguish from any other potboiler but for the hooks.
- La La Land: Another piece of well-made Oscar Bait, for the bulk of its running time Bob thought this was worth two and a half stars, but the showstopper ending briefly pushed it up to three. He thought it was very fun to watch while it was running, if something of a showbiz-romance Cliché Storm that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play very well, but never especially memorable and since it's a musical and homage to The Golden Age of Hollywood's musicals, its Fatal Flaw is that that extends to the songs as well. Still, he thinks it's considerably better than the similar The Artist.
- The Last Airbender: It's not as bad as you've heard, but it's still not good at all. Its biggest problem is that it tries to compress the entire mythology and first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender into a ninety-minute feature film with no distillation, producing a film that, while ambitious and downright beautiful, is an total disaster when it comes to narrative and pacing, spending far too much time in exposition rather than moving the story forward (he compares it to Hulk as such). It's worth a watch just for the cinematography, special effects, and action, but Bob cannot recommend it otherwise. Years later, in the Intermission editorial "Nightfall" (a look back on M. Night Shyamalan's career up until After Earth), Bob admits that he was too kind to this movie in his initial review, and calls it "the go-to example of how not to adapt a property to the screen."
- The Last Boy Scout: An entertaining "guy movie" that combines Tony Scott's signature style with '90s values and cynicism. 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 Last Dragon: Devoted an episode of Good Enough Movies to the film, describing it as a blaxploitation take on Hong Kong martial arts movies that was rooted heavily in the era's fandom for the genre among young, urban African Americans. In his opinion, it's at least as good as films like The Karate Kid (1984) or Jean-Claude Van Damme's earlier work, thanks to well-made fight scenes, an excellent villain, a great soundtrack, and a story that manages to synthesize a typical martial arts movie plot with a surprisingly deep and ahead-of-its-time exploration of urban black culture and identity. It may not be a perfect movie, but it is still a standout martial arts film and (admittedly by default) one of the best black superhero movies ever made.
- The Last Stand: It's good, and if you liked Arnold Schwarzenegger's past action movies, you'll probably like this one too. Bob didn't feel that there was enough to say about it to justify a full review, though, so instead he briefly discussed it at the start of his Broken City review. He later came back to it, along with Bullet to the Head, in the special episode "Musclepocalypse" (he felt that nothing that came out that week was worth reviewing) to discuss its failure at the box office and what that meant for the action genre, particularly the sort of Rated M for Manly beefcake action movies that characterized The '80s and The '90s.
- The Last Starfighter: Discussed a possible remake in a "How to Fix" episode of In Bob We Trust. It's a film that really should have gotten a sequel back in the '80s, and he'd still prefer to see a sequel over a remake. His idea for one set in the modern day, acknowledging the massive shifts that video game culture has undergone since the original came out, involves the Big Bad Xur creating his own video game training program inspired by modern shooters, with Alex Rogan, the old-school arcade starfighter, taking on an Evil Counterpart who serves as a personification of the worst elements of modern gamer culture.
- Latitude Zero: Didn't review it, but in the In Bob We Trust episode "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 four. He says it's generally considered one of Toho's better non-Godzilla movies of The '60s, and likens it to The Land That Time Forgot from the show's then-recently released eleventh season, but with crazy Japanese fashion sensibilities and a supporting turn from, surprisingly, Cesar Romero.
- Lawless: Far from original as gangster movies go, and probably destined to live forever in late-night rotation on basic cable, but the solid cast (particularly Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, and even Shia LaBeouf) helps elevate the film. It's the kind of unoriginal yet solidly entertaining movie that makes the late summer Dump Months bearable.
- Legend (1985): Discussed it in an episode of Good Enough Movies. He calls it a difficult movie to describe to people who haven't seen it, since the plot is basically a distillation of the 'average' fairy tale elements,note so a mere story summary might sound underwhelming. As predictable and underwritten as its plot might be, the points are put to very good use — but then, it's also a bit of an Excuse Plot, and the film is best remembered as a visual experience/mood piece, at which it succeeds with ease. (Even though it was released in 1985, Bob observes, the visual effects still hold up beautifully today.) Combine that with solid-to-good acting, especially from a young, very well-cast Tom Cruise as Jack and Tim Curry as the Prince of Darkness, and you have a rightful Cult Classic.
- The Legend of Hercules: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2014 he named it one of his twenty least favorite movies of the year. The only thing he remembered about it was Scott Adkins in a woefully underused supporting role, and he wonders if Dwayne Johnson didn't personally fund this movie to make his own Hercules movie look better by comparison.
- The Legend of Tarzan: While confused about who exactly was asking for another Tarzan movie, Bob entered this one cautiously optimistic, since it at least made more sense than some of the other nostalgia properties getting reboots now. He left thoroughly underwhelmed, as the movie makes the odd choice of being basically a feature-length apology for the Values Dissonance of the original Tarzan stories, as if the crew went into the project assuming it would launch a massive MCU-esque franchise if only they got the uncomfortable stuff out of the way at the start. Margot Robbie was the only cast member who felt like she was trying; Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz seemed bored in their respective roles, and Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan was a black hole of charisma. It only comes to life during a few bits so bizarre that they seem as if the screenwriters were trying to find out if anyone was actually reading the script. Overall, you're better off just going to Finding Dory (again).
- The Legend of Zelda: Discussed a possible film adaptation in a "How to Fix" episode of In Bob We Trust. He feels that a lot of Zelda and Nintendo fans have a tendency to overthink the games as "Nintendo's Lord of the Rings" even though it's never been a particularly epic series in his eyes. As such, instead of emulating The Lord of the Rings for a Zelda movie, a smaller-scale fantasy adventure à la Ridley Scott's Legend (the film that's often said to have inspired the games) would work a lot better.
- Legion: Unimpressed, seeing the whole "Our Angels Are Different because they're badasses" concept as incredibly overdone.
- The LEGO Movie: Not only was it an awesome movie, but Bob was simply amazed at how Phil Lord & Chris Miller managed to pull off what this film did in a big-budget family adventure film. Without spoiling anything, he said that the third-act reveal as to what the film was actually about would go down as one of the all-time great kids' movie twists, and one that truly pushed the film over the top from "really good" to an out-and-out masterpiece, especially with its mockery and slap-down of Serious Business as applied to children's toy properties. The cast was also a treat, with Will Arnett's portrayal of Batman especially not only a great parody of The Dark Knight Trilogy, but one that meshes superbly with the film's broader themes. At the end of 2014, he named it one of his top ten movies of the year.
- The LEGO Batman Movie: He named it his seventh most anticipated film of 2017, and when he reviewed it, he called it "an instant near-classic" and "the best movie to emerge from under the DC Comics umbrella since 2008, at least." The first LEGO Movie's version of Batman was one of his favorite characters in that film, and the thought of Warner Bros. proudly making an extended piss-take on the version of Batman that's shown up in their live-action DC Extended Universe films was too good for him to pass up. The finished product was exactly what he expected on that front; while it could have just coasted on having all the characters be made of LEGO blocks and used that as the joke (which it did do quite a bit, the only real fault he had with it), much of it was specifically devoted to being a Deconstructive Parody of the Darker and Edgier Batman that's been the norm since The '90s, with a visual aesthetic lifted straight from the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher era of Batfilms and a plot that was partly about Batman getting over his angst. He gave it three-and-a-half stars, calling it "charming, funny, and a real winner."
- The LEGO Ninjago Movie: Bob had fun watching this movie and gave it three stars on the strength of its characters and solid voice cast, it being even more visually creative than its predecessors, and that it kept mining humor from everything being made of toys, even if the storytelling was weaker than past films. It helps that it was also a Ninjago adaptation that didn't bring Continuity Lockout with it, and made for a better Power Rangers movie than Power Rangers (2017). On the other hand, he felt that making a Self-Parody of a LEGO property took the movie just up to the thin line between cuteness and cynicism about the whole enterprise. He also noted how every LEGO movie up to this point was about neglectful father figures in some way, making him wonder if somebody behind the franchise may have been using these films to work out his daddy issues vicariously.
- The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: By this point, he was convinced that Lord and Miller could do no wrong, as they pulled off a good sequel to a film whose ending seemed actively resistant to getting a sequel. He admitted that it likely wouldn't be received as well as the first one, chiefly because, without spoiling anything, it seemed to be going for bigger, more complicated ideas that younger audiences might not be prepared to grapple with. Regardless, everything that worked for him about the first film worked just as well here, especially Chris Pratt and Tiffany Haddish's characters, such that he gave it an 8 out of 10. A few weeks later, he went into more detail on it in the Big Picture episode "Plastic Fantastic", specifically concerning one of its plot twists, which he found to be incredibly bold for any movie (let alone an animated family film) in how it took one of Hollywood's go-to wells for satire of American life — namely, the use of Stepford Suburbia, Political Correctness Gone Mad, and mainstream pop culture as shorthand for shallowness and inauthenticity versus the gritty, flawed, and 'real' protagonists — and turned it squarely on its head.
- Leprechaun: Found that the films got progressively better from the first (which was So Bad, It's Good) through the fourth (Leprechaun 4: In Space), that the fifth (Leprechaun in the Hood) was pretty average and couldn't live up to the fun of its premise due to its low budget, and that the sixth (Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood) did everything the fifth didn't. What made the films work and stand out was Warwick Davis in the title role, who was always a blast to watch even when the series was at its worst, as well as the fact that the series took off just as Mystery Science Theater 3000 was popularizing an ironic appreciation of So Bad, It's Good movies. Didn't review the first six films, though he did an overview of the series for his St. Patrick's Day special "Intermission" editorial, and discussed the series further in his review of the reboot of the series
- Leprechaun: Origins: "It was a slow week, okay?" The worst film in the series, which is really saying something. There is absolutely nothing about it that makes it stand out from the hundreds of other cheap slashers out there, and the new take on the Leprechaun has none of the personality that Warwick Davis brought to the table, instead being reimagined as a monster so generic that there was really no point in casting Hornswoggle in the role.
- Les Misérables (2012): What worked great on Broadway is nearly unwatchable in the context of a feature film. While Anne Hathaway was amazing (even if it's one of the most blatantly pandering Oscar Bait roles he's ever seen) and most of the songs were good (except, notably, Russell Crowe's singing), the direction was a trainwreck, and the compression of Victor Hugo's sprawling novel renders the characters one-dimensional and reduces the story to what feels like a Cliffs Notes version. At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his ten worst movies of the year.
- Liar Liar: A film that could have been just one joke run into the ground, but which succeeded because Jim Carrey gave one of his best comedic performances ever and made that joke funny over and over again. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial "When Jim Carrey Ruled the World", a retrospective of Jim Carrey's '90s career.
- Life of Pi: "One of the most frustrating movies of the year." It looks stunning, especially in 3-D, but the film is undone by a main character who Bob found to be extremely annoying, comparing him to that friend everyone seems to have who always wants to show others how interesting and quirky he is. On top of that, without spoiling anything, he found the film's big twist to be self-indulgent pseudo-philosophy. Still, the visuals alone make the film worth at least one watch, as long as you can tune out whenever the main characters start talking.
- Lights Out (2016): Didn't review it, but in his Don't Breathe review, he said it preceded that film as a solid little horror movie in a deeply disappointing summer.
- Lincoln: Didn't review it, but in his Intermission editorial "Thinkin' Lincoln", he called it not only a great film, but also one of the most radical political dramas Hollywood has ever made, especially coming from the usually milquetoast Steven Spielberg, of all people. It takes what many would think of as rather sleazy politics (dirty backroom deals, double-crosses, Loophole Abuse) and holds it up as the real reason why America was able to make so much progress, a far cry from the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington plot of the one honest politician cleaning up Washington. He compares it to Ocean's Eleven in its portrayal of Abraham Lincoln as a Magnificent Bastard in getting slavery abolished, instead of the idealized picture of Lincoln that many were expecting. At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.
- The Lion King (2019): If you liked the original movie, then you'll probably like this, because this was practically the exact same movie except done with modern, photo-realistic 3D animation and a new voice cast. The computer animation and production design were nothing short of impeccable, with Bob comparing them to Jurassic Park in the impact they had and how they couldn't help but be awe-inspiring even in fairly mundane scenes. Its Nature Documentary aesthetic did take something out of the musical numbers and the emotions expressed by the characters, with both now more reliant than ever on the voice actors' performances, but the fact that the film pulled it off at all was impressive enough. He gave it a 6 out of 10 and called it an interesting experiment that was still pretty good, hoping to see how its style might be applied to an original story.
- Live by Night: Despite seeming to check off all of Bob's Author Appeal boxes at first glance (it's a Ben Affleck movie, it's about Boston gangsters during the Prohibition era, its story weaves themes about racial and religious oppression), it's surprisingly poor, and Affleck turns out to have been the man in contemporary Hollywood least suited to being screenwriter, director, and star of this film. The story strives to be The Epic but turns out to be a Kudzu Plot, this despite the absence of multiple key plot threads that were apparently removed when Warner Bros. realized the film would be "a January write-off." The narrative introduces and discards so many themes that a longer movie or even a miniseries would have been necessary to explore them all with the depth they deserve. He gave it two stars, saying the solid direction and acting (which are to be expected of Affleck by now) were insufficient to elevate the weak script and thinking it might have been better had it been worse, wishing that Affleck had made the self-indulgent ego trip that this could easily have been rather than something so dull.
- Lockout: A decent throwback to mid- to late-'90s sci-fi/action thrillers like Soldier and Escape from L.A. It would have been a lot better, though, if Americans didn't get a butchered PG-13 cut that takes out all the brutal violence, which, in a film like this, is really the only selling point. He reviewed it in a double review with Detention the week after its release.
- Logan Lucky: "Huh. Good movie season started early this year." This was, to use an old film critic cliché, "the sort of movie they just don't make anymore", an old-fashioned, Southern-fried action romp in the vein of Smokey and the Bandit that, if marketed properly, should have been a Sleeper Hit in middle America rather than the niche indie flick its distributors tried to sell it as being. Steven Soderbergh combined the plot of Ocean's Eleven with Good Ol' Boy protagonists and a blue-collar setting to great effect, the film mining both its humor and its poignancy from the fact that its main characters, while appearing to be dumbass redneck caricatures on the surface, are much smarter than they seem, armed as they are with an in-depth understanding of how their broken-down communities (fail to) operate. Channing Tatum and Adam Driver were great as the protagonists, but Daniel Craig stole the show as the explosives expert Joe Bang, a character almost wholly unrecognizable from James Bond that demonstrated just how good an actor Craig is. Bob gave it four stars, called it his favorite movie of summer 2017 (and, later, to even his surprise, named it his favorite film of the year outright) and encouraged everybody to see it, whether they were middle Americans wanting to see a positive representation of the heartland or just people who wanted to see a damn good movie, even if, like him, they seemed to be as far from the target audience as possible.
- The Lone Ranger (2013): "A spectacular misfire, a failure on every conceivable level of moviemaking." He hated it so much that he filled the review with unmarked spoilers and prefaced it with a disclaimer that this was the better to discourage people from seeing the movie. Johnny Depp in redface as Tonto was just the first of multifarious terrible decisions that, to Bob, represented yet another symbol of everything wrong with blockbuster Hollywood moviemaking. It's an insult to its source material that almost seems ashamed of the association, spending a good chunk of its running time mocking it he called it even worse than the 1998 Godzilla, Dragonball Evolution, Transformers 2, and The Dark Knight Rises as such and it's so much Darker and Edgier than said inspiration without rhyme or reason, it makes Man of Steel, at the time the chief touchstone for criticizing such film updates of family-friendly classic characters, look like nothing. The protagonists come across as doofuses and nutcases, the plot is one Ass Pull after another and feels ripped off from Pirates of the Caribbean, and worst of all, the film is simply boring. At the end of 2013, he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year.
After the film had become a certified Box Office Bomb, he returned to it in the Big Picture episode "The Lone Ranger: What Happened?", discussing the film's Troubled Production, and in the Intermission editorial "Summer School - Part I", a postmortem of the summer 2013 movie season. He thinks most of this film's problems trace back to Johnny Depp as Tonto, arguing not only that this film's version of Tonto was more offensive than the one from the radio and television shows (whose actor, at least, was Native American) despite being made more than seventy years later, but that the decision to put such a character in the film, played by Depp, was emblematic of the broken logic that seems to govern Hollywood. Besides shamelessly recycling the Pirates of the Caribbean formula in the hopes of having lightning strike twice, Disney allowed Depp to run rampant with his eccentric character decisions for the same reason, and what worked in Pirates crippled this film. He expected that, if Hollywood learned any lesson from the creative and financial disaster of this film, it would be to treat it as another Genre-Killer for The Western, which dismayed him, as he saw it more as an indication that audiences' love of Depp may be running out.
- Lone Survivor: Called it the sort of bad movie where "the realization that it's a bad movie kind of sneaks up on you." It had all the elements needed to make for a really good action movie a solid action director (Peter Berg), a great cast, and a thrilling Based on a True Story plot about a botched Navy SEAL operation but it meanders and never comes together. The way Berg shoots the film makes it feel like an endless parade of lurid brutality and Cruel and Unusual Deaths taken to the point of Torture Porn, as though the most noteworthy and badass thing about the SEALs is their ability to withstand abuse and pain, and it greatly clashes with the film's otherwise reverent, pro-military tone. While the plotline in the third act does liven it up, it's too little, too late. The result is a film that's incredibly unpleasant to watch, and fairly lifeless on top of that.
- Looper: The same people who recommended Dredd to him (a film that he loved) are also recommending this, which he takes as a call to go see it. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of The Master.
- The Lorax: Bowdlerising one of Dr. Seuss' darkest stories a bit was probably necessary in order to sell it to kids and avoid "Old Yeller conversations" on the way home, but not when it completely misses the point of the book, chickening out on its socially conscious message and refusing to criticize its viewers. It indulges in all of the worst clichés of family cartoons, to the point where Bob was Rooting for the Empire just so he wouldn't have to put up with the heroes' annoying shtick. The fact that it featured Product Placement for an SUV was particularly insulting. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his "Intermission" editorial "Unless", and at the end of 2012 he listed it as one of his ten worst movies of the year.
- The Lord of the Rings: In his Really That Bad episode on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he suggested that the trilogy as a whole would be a great candidate for an episode of Really That Good if not for the massive, unpaid workload it would require on his part. With there being three films that are each well over three hours long even before one gets into the extended cuts, it will likely be a very long time before he makes that episode, if ever, even if he thinks it would be a good episode.
- The Lords of Salem: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2013, he named it a runner-up for his list of the best films of the year.
- The Losers: A safe, generic actioner that's been done better many times before, and plays the cheeseball, '80s and '90s action movie formula so straight that one would think it was a parody, but it sadly isn't. The only reason to see it is so you can sneak into a better, R-rated movie.
- Love and Other Drugs: Proof that the Hollywood Romantic Comedy formula doesn't have to suck. Unlike many films of its ilk, this one is completely frank and honest about the sexual urges that drive many relationships, giving audiences a visceral connection to its two sexy romantic leads that the average PG-13 "Chick Flick" doesn't have.
- The Love Guru: Liked the character of Guru Pitka and thought the film was at its best when lampooning New Age pseudo-Eastern spiritualism, but felt that the rest of the film (apart from Justin Timberlake, of whom he admits grudgingly that he's a fan) was a dud, and that it's the worst film of Mike Myers' career.
- Loving Vincent: It's good and interesting not just because it's "like Citizen Kane but for a troubled artist who was also a real person," but because it was made in an incredibly unique way — all by filming 65,000 oil paintings painted over six years by 125 people emulating Vincent van Gogh's Signature Style. Furthermore, it was that much more charming for being such a staggering technical achievement in the service of a somber semi-Alternate History van Gogh biopic focusing on the last few years of his life. While the performances and story are solid, though admittedly unspectacular, the production alone makes it a landmark as the first fully painted feature film. He gave it three stars and later named it an honorable mention for his favorite films of 2017.
- Lucy: The fact that the film is based on the "we only use 10% of our brains" myth is laughable, but he didn't have as much of a problem with it as others did, comparing it to other sci-fi works that used made-up science to tell a story or deliver a message. Furthermore, the film is otherwise resolute in its message that science and knowledge in general are good for humanity overall, using that bit of pseudoscience only as a MacGuffin to get the plot rolling, while the film's trashy, fast-paced, legitimately awesome action-movie feel keeps it from becoming pretentious. Ultimately, he views it as a companion piece to Maleficent in terms of being a forward-thinking, female-fronted action film that, while flawed (it felt a bit too lightweight for him), was still fascinating.