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'sUnderworld 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.
Ill Be Gone In The Dark (the HBO adaptation): Discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Binge-a-Thon 2020: Complex Women", about films to watch during the COVID-19 Pandemic quarantine; here, he discussed Based on a True Story films about women succeeding in hostile male-dominated fields. At its core, this documentary series was about the idea of survivors of abuse and attempted murder learning to see closure as just the start of a long process of recovery, one that came back around on the people involved with the investigation in how the death of Michelle McNamara, the investigator who solved the case of the Golden State Killer, still haunts her widower Patton Oswalt. He liked how it refused to cast judgment on McNamara even as the darkness of what she was investigating consumed her life and ultimately destroyed her, instead depicting her as someone who approached the True Crime genre not in the sense of seeking to learn a lesson from the evil in the world, but instead seeking to teach it a lesson: namely, that it cannot hide.
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 BondmeetsFreddy 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 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 Ageinvoked 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?"
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'sDario 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 Japanesetokusatsu 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 MSTingPower Rangers, which for his money was reason enough to feature it.
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 Storyin 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".
The Interpreter: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. He found it minimalistic to a fault, saying that it "does very little, means even less, and expects to be congratulated for these facts" between its lack of suspense and thrills, talented actors wasted on invokedspeechifying, and a plot that sounded like it was written by a suburban yuppie on a Rage Against the Machine bender. He gave it a 4 out of 10 for basic competence but called it a snooze beyond that.
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 Intermissioneditorial), 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.
The Invisible Man (2020): Called it "uneven but ambitious and effective" and gave it a 7 out of 10. It wisely avoided the mistakes of the Dark Universe, Universal's previous attempt to revive their classic monsters for the 21st century, in favor of just a simple, straightforward horror movie that took the Broad Strokes of the original story and did its own thing with them. At its most basic level, it was a very well-made sci-fi spook show with smart writing and characters, creative special effects, and a great buildup of tension, and writer/director Leigh Whannell skillfully used that story as an on-the-nose metaphor for Domestic Abuse and gaslighting. That said, it didn't perfectly thread the needle between its campy, '90s-style B-Movie thrills and its handling of more serious issues, producing some Mood Whiplash as two "pretty good movies" failed to come together into a whole greater than the sum of their parts, and the fact that the villain was invisible made some of the action scenes look unavoidably silly.
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 Intermissioneditorial, 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 Irishman: invoked Another great Martin Scorsese crime drama, one that he gave an 8 out of 10 and called a great swan song for this sort of "mob movie", though he wouldn't have expected anything less. It lacked a lot of Scorsese's usual flourish and whimsy, painting a very deglamorized portrait of The Mafia that portrayed it all as utterly pointless, the main characters looking back on it with shame as opposed to the nostalgia of GoodFellas or Casino. Its take on history (particularly how it connects the Kennedys, the Mafia, and Jimmy Hoffa, based as it was on Charles Brandt's controversial nonfiction account I Heard You Paint Houses) was very speculative, but it told that story extremely well, courtesy of a great cast of Scorsese regulars and its seamless, much-ballyhooed use of CGI to de-age them. He also made a side note opining that the fracas over Scorsese's criticism of the Marvel Cinematic Universe had gone too far, and that, while he disagreed with Scorsese's take, he felt that he of all filmmakers was more than within his right to make it (even if he did get in a light jab at him for his voice role in Shark Tale). At the end of 2019, he named it an honorable mention for his list of the year's best films, saying that, even if it didn't grab him the way that other films did, he could still recognize great craftsmanship when he saw it.
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 Baitbiopic 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. Later, however, he felt that he had been too kind to this film in his initial review, calling it his least favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe film. He felt that the second act dragged, 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 Intermissioneditorial "Let's Watch the Iron Man 3 Trailer" and Big Picture episode "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 from start to finish.
The following week, in the Big Pictureepisode "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's version of the Mandarin, saying it was both unexpected and smart while producing a very memorable character and story arc.
Irréversible: 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.
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 the 1986 King's Creator Thumbprint sometimes works against it, and it 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).invoked
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 seenChapter Oneto understandChapter 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 story, instead of a two-year one. He gave it a 3 out of 10 and called it "a wash."invoked
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. In his 2018 Academy Awards preview, he pegged Janney (correctly) to win Best Supporting Actress. While some flat direction and unconvincingStunt 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 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 StuAuthor 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-eraDisney 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.
Jaguar Lives!: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode on invokedSo Bad, It's Good action movies to watch during quarantine. While Joe Lewis may have been an excellent martial artist, that did not translate to being able to headline an action movie by any stretch of the imagination, and this film demonstrated that remarkably well.
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 Bob sees as: (1) proof that Darker and Edgier and James Bond just doesn't mix well, (2) about as bad a Bond film as Diamonds Are Forever, and (3) the point where the Craig era's copying of the Bourne series got out of control. 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 surprisingly 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 had run itself into a ditch creatively. It was 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 necessary prep work, resulting in a plot that made zero logical sense and whose twists he could see from miles away. Between that, a supporting cast that was either bland or criminally wasted, and action scenes that he found forgettable at best, Bob ranked it next to Die Another Day and Never Say Never Again as one of the worst films in the James Bond series.
No Time to Die: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but at the start of 2020 he declined to put it on his list of his most anticipated films of 2020, largely because of how much he disliked Spectre.
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 to which he doesn't believe anybody could make a good remake or sequel. He thinks everyJawssequelsucked 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.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich: He gave it a 7 out of 10 and praised it for its hard-hitting look at the Epstein case, without sinking into either the morass of "trash TV" (as its fellow made-for-NetflixTrue Crime doc Tiger King did) or the conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein's death and who he was allegedly connected to. It managed to take truly grisly subject matter and keep it tasteful rather than turning lurid or sensationalized, sticking to the documented facts of the case while putting the focus mainly on Epstein's victims and their stories of how he exploited his wealth and power, and on the subject of his suspicious death, it focused less on who (if anyone) might have done it and more on how justice was denied. He couldn't exactly recommend it, but he still said it was worth seeing.
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 terrific 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 "Uh, Bob, you actually do have to say more on that." 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.
Jojo Rabbit: He enjoyed it and gave it an 8 out of 10, comparing it to both The Producers and a mix of "Wes Anderson but with human warmth and South Park but with actual thoughtfulness". It used its comical portrayal of Adolf Hitler as a young German boy's Imaginary Friend to highlight just how childish and dorky a lot of the Nazis' mythmaking and ideals really were, rooted in Hollywood History, mysticism, power fantasies, and simplistic "good vs. evil" narratives straight out of a young-adult action-adventure story that had little to do with reality, but undoubtedly appealed to both little kids and manchildren — something he'd go into more depth on in the Big Picture episode "Don't Be Stupid, Be a Smarty", while drawing some parallels to modern fandom culture. It walked a fine line between "daring and relentlessly charming", and he admitted that it wasn't for everyone given the deliberate contrast between the film's lighthearted tone and the very real horrors of the Nazi regime, but its great cast and its willingness to take big risks in order to make its point ultimately put it over the top.
Joker (2019):invoked Before he reviewed it, he said in the Big Picture episode "Stop Me if You've Heard This One" 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 emulateTaxi 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, already on the edge, and could be pushed well over the Moral Event Horizon by just one bad day.
A month before it was released in America, just after its rapturous reception at the Venice Film Festival, he contemplated its possible stateside reception in "We Live in a Society". 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 justifypeople with terrible politicsbeing 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, in "The Shilling Joke", he touched on these themes again and 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 this episode 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, much of the joke might be on 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 biggest 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.
At the end of 2019, when discussing his favorite films of the year (a list that this film very emphatically didn't make), he predicted that it would likely fade out of the popular memory in a couple of years, comparing it to how he used to love The Boondock Saints only to return to it years later and see it as shallow. He elaborated on this in the Big Picture episode "Bottom Text" after it received eleven Academy Award nominations that, save for Best Original Score, he felt were entirely undeserved. That said, he also argued that, far from being an underdog in the Oscar race, it stood a good chance of winning big. Despite his own negative opinions on it, it was still a box-office smash, it got mostly (though not unanimously) good reviews, it had a passionate and devoted fanbase, it was made in an era where unironically enjoying comic book movies was no longer taboo even among highbrow film journalists, and most importantly, it was pure Oscar Bait in its Genre Throwback to gritty '70s New Hollywood dramas elevated by a good, showy performance from an actor with a history of Award Snubs from the Academy. He felt that all the talk of how "transgressive" it was, and how its award-season triumph would represent a bold, countercultural stand, was nothing more than marketing hype from the well-oiled Hollywood machine that served to distract from genuine controversies at the Oscars that year, particularly the various films, actors, and filmmakers who themselves got snubbed.
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 had a fun premise (Ordinary High School Students from different cliques and backgrounds are thrust into video game avatars that reflect the opposite of who they are), and it was 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 was 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.
Jumanji: The Next Level: It was more of the same as before, but it delivered where it mattered and earned a 7 out of 10, though he wondered how much of his positive review was him over-correcting after the previous film grew on him after his mixed review. The Excuse Plot was even more Played for Laughs than last time in favor of keeping the focus on the characters, once more the film's best element thanks to its great cast, particularly Dwayne Johnson proving he can play more than just the Hollywood Action Hero (his take on an old man transplanted into his body was very distinct from the nerd-in-a-wrestler's-body he played before, and just as good) and Awkwafina serving as the Ensemble Dark Horse as a parody of Asian video game heroines.
The Grudge (2004): While he did like it (as noted above), he felt that, despite having the same director as the original, the changes made fundamentally altered the context for the worse. Whereas the original film was set in what was framed as an ordinary suburban home, this version, by following an American protagonist living in Japan, played up the exoticism to the point of detaching the audience from the setting.
The Grudge (2020): Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019,note It ultimately came out in 2020. saying "Aw, damn it, I thought we were through with these!" and that he didn't think this new version could really bring anything new or interesting to the table. He concurred in his review, saying that it "kind of croaks" and that, while it was technically well-made and tried to earn its scares through proper build-up rather than cheap shocks, it failed on the most important level that any horror movie could: it didn't scare him. To be sure, it had atmosphere to spare, but he was too distracted by the clumsy writing, whose otherwise solid attempts to Americanize the setting were undercut by Canon Welding with the original Japanese film that produced nothing but Fridge Logic. He gave it a 4 out of 10 and called it a quintessential January movie, one that wasn't aggressively awful but had no compelling reason to exist.
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.invoked
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 its story and 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 looked. 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 Goldblumhas."
Justice League (2017): invoked When the DC Extended Universe was in its infancy, he discussed the idea of this film the Big Pictureepisode "Enough with the Batman, Already!" He thought Warner Bros. was worrying too much about trying to fit Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight films in with this 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 reboot the franchise via the Justice League movie.
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 threefalsestarts 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 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 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.
Two years later, in the Big Picture episode "One Art, Please", he discussed the heavily mythologized "Snyder Cut" of the film, the version that Snyder was rumored to have nearly finished before he left and was replaced with Whedon. He doubted that it would be released (though he wouldn't be totally surprised if they did eventually release something), in no small part because, since Snyder left the production before the reshoots and post-production work, the Snyder Cut existed only as a rough "assembly cut", and making a finished film out of it would have required having to redo a lot of expensive special effects work for alternate versions of scenes that existed only as raw footage — and furthermore, Snyder reportedly had three different cuts that he showed to studio executives. That said, he would have personally loved to see the footage even as an assembly cut, if only to see What Could Have Been, even if he didn't think it would be that different from the theatrical cut. The news that HBO would indeed be financing the completion and release of Zack Snyder's Justice League for their HBO Max streaming service prompted another Big Picture episode, "Surprise Cuts", about it. He noted the irony that, even though the fans clamoring for the release of the Snyder Cut were understandably jubilant, the circumstances — namely, that HBO would have to spend $30 million on post-production to make it into a finished film — discredited a key tenet of their argument, that Warner Bros. had the Snyder Cut just lying around and was withholding it for nebulous reasons. Regardless, he was happy that Snyder would finally get to put together his cut of the film after all he went through making it, and bemoaned how the argument came to be dominated by the most Vocal Minority who saw the cause in terms of a war against the Disney and Marvel style of superhero movies.
The Keystone Cops films: Devoted a Big Picture episode, "Cop Blocked", to them, while noting the timing of doing an episode on one of the most famous cinematic examples of "dimwitted, incompetent, hilariously inept mayhem-causing police officers" when widespread protests over Police Brutality across the US were making international news. He discussed how, in the early 20th century, big-city police officers did not command the respect of other authority figures like Western lawmen, special investigators, or private detectives, and were seen as invokedAcceptable Targets by the mostly working-class audiences who flocked to film in the silent era, many of whom had likely been hassled or harassed by the cops at some point in their lives. In his view, the push to paint law enforcement in a more positive light came from two sources. First, moral panic over salacious content in Hollywood films and the scandalous personal lives of actors and filmmakers led to police investigations of such, and as such, Hollywood started portraying police officers more heroically in order to get the police (who had been outwardly critical of the "bumbling cop" trope) to back off and be more willing to look the other way. Second, a separate moral panic over the rise of The Mafia at the height of the Prohibition era led to more support for the police as guardians of law and order, and Hollywood saw what its audience wanted.
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 packed into the first act to an otherwise terribly generic Dark Fantasy film. It bore 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.
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.
King of the Ants: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode paying tribute to the recently-deceased filmmaker Stuart Gordon. He described it as a predecessor of sorts to Breaking Bad in terms of its tone and its portrayal of the criminal underworld, and a film that marked the beginning of Gordon's late-period shift from horror movies to noir-style crime thrillers.
Kingdom of Heaven: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. It was a historical war movie that used The Crusades as an allegory for the modern War on Terror and the "clash of civilizations" narratives popular during that time, portraying both sides as driven by fanaticism and instead opting to Take a Third Option in favor of religious tolerance. It took an extremely talented filmmaker to make it work without it feeling invokedanvilicious, and Ridley Scott was the right man for the job, shooting great action and directing his cast well. Unfortunately, he felt (correctly) that the film had been cut to ribbons in the editing room, and held out hope for a Director's Cut. He gave it a 7 out of 10 and gave it credit for its themes, even if he expected later films to surpass it. He later made a mention of it in his Robin Hood (2010) review, recommending said Director's Cut over that film.
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 for nearly four years. 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 accomplished this, 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 all right, but only all right" 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.
Knives Out: invokedBefore he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. The All-Star Cast looked good, but he was most excited to see Rian Johnson go back to his murder-mystery roots, especially after The Last Jedi. When he saw it, he enjoyed it, calling it a fun, crowd-pleasing detective movie well suited to the holiday season and telling everybody to go and see it, though he did think some of his fellow critics were perhaps praising it a bit too highly, partly out of solidarity with Johnson against Internet trolls and partly because it was an original story without any franchise connections. Without spoiling anything, it was heavily imbued with Johnson's Signature Style of subverting genre tropes and playing with audience expectations, in this case inverting the whodunnit setup by revealing the killer early and then telling the story from their perspective as they try to outwit the detective, which he found to be a very clever twist that paid off with the creative directions the story took. He found the social commentary to be hit-or-miss and a bit tone-deaf, and the parts set outside the mansion to be inferior to the parts set within, but he still had a great time with it thanks to an excellent cast (especially Chris EvansPlaying Against Type as a bastard failson), and gave it a 7 out of 10. At the end of 2019, he named it his eighth-favorite movie of the year.
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 several 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.
Kung Fu Hustle: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. He called it "very possibly the funniest movie of the year, definitely the funniest so far, and likely tough to beat as the months go on", comparing it to Buster Keaton, Bugs Bunny, and Popeye in its brand of slapstick comedy fused with over-the-top Martial Arts Movie action and Chinese sensibilities. He gave it a 10 out of 10 and said that, even with its violence, it was still a great film to take a family to.
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, though 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.
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 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: He said it wasn't as bad as its reputation, but still not good. 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 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.
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 Here he also discusses how Ridley Scott wanted to make this movie before he made Blade Runner but made that movie first. While Scott set out to make solid genre works, with Runner he ended up using a script that somehow transcended its origins; not so here. 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 Princeof Darkness, and you have a rightful Cult Classic.
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 around 2016. He left thoroughly underwhelmed, as the movie makes the odd choice of being basically a feature-length apology for the Values Dissonanceinvoked 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.
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 it 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.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special: No joke, it was a well-made animated special that was clearly put together by longtime Star Wars fans and which everyone in the family could enjoy, from kids and casual fans looking for light entertainment to diehard Star Wars devotees poring it over for Mythology Gags and embracing its Take Thats at various controversial plot points from The Rise of Skywalker. The fact that it took place in an Alternate Continuity from the "main" Star Wars universe also freed it to have a lot more fun with regards to the franchise's canon and Disney's brand management thereof, which he felt had been one of the main anchors around the neck of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, while at the same time, it did a great job employing one of the better ideas from the sequel trilogy, that of the new characters being metaphorical "fans" of the events of the original trilogy. Overall, it was fairly predictable, but it was still a cute charmer that he gave a 7 out of 10.
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.
Lesson of the Evil: Discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode on its director, Takashi Miike. It's a movie that, thanks to its plot about an Evil Teacher who shoots up his school, will likely never receive any sort of official Western release. He also noted how, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that school shootings were virtually unheard of in Japan, they became popular subject matter for teen-oriented horror movies and manga in the 2000s, largely through exposure to American news stories about the massacres across the Pacific.
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.
The Lighthouse: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2019 he named it his sixth-favorite film of the year. Willem Dafoe's performance as a crusty old lighthouse keeper should have been reason enough to attract people to it, but it was also a seriously weird (and awesome) head-tripping Psychological Horror adventure with a liberal dose of Magic Realism that he thought would detract badly from the experience if explained much further.
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.
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.
Little Women (2019): Gave it a 10 out of 10 and called it his third-favorite film of 2019 and the best of the many adaptations of Louisa May Alcott's novel, comparing it to Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of The Godfather in how it transformed the book from "a memorable page-turner into a sprawling epic." As somebody who'd always liked Alcott's novel but never quite loved it, he felt that writer/director Greta Gerwig managed to finally make it click for him why so many of the women in his life were such huge fans of it, taking a story with a fairly small scope and making it feel as propulsive as any number of blockbuster action movies and crime thrillers while recontextualizing what had been matter-of-fact plot turns and Character Development in the book into impactful twists. From top to bottom, it was just an incredible film, thanks to an outstanding cast and Gerwig's excellent direction and writing that seamlessly imbued modern sensibilities into a classic 19th-century story without it ever feeling forced.
Live by Night: Despite seeming to check off all 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 kinda sucks", perhaps because Affleck was the wrong creator for it. 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 Affleck's solid direction and acting were insufficient to elevate his weak script and thinking it might have been better (or at least more fun) had Affleck 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 Hitinvoked 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 Pictureepisode "The Lone Ranger: What Happened?", discussing the film's Troubled Production, and in the Intermissioneditorial "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 and that bad movies would proliferate regardless.
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 to boot.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Didn't review them, but in the Big Picture episode "Binge-a-Thon 2020", a list of film series he recommended for binge-watching during the coronavirus lockdown, he praised these films as some of the best manga adaptations and samurai action movies ever made.
The Longest Yard (the 2005 remake): Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. He gave it a 5 out of 10 and felt that it declawed what worked about the original film, Bowdlerising it to a PG-13 and stripping out its cynicism in favor of "inspirational sports movie" clichés. The jokes more or less worked but weren't all that memorable, and Adam Sandler's protagonist was frequently outshined by Burt Reynolds as the mentor, Reynolds' Remake Cameo casting and the man still being a convincing "tough guy" at his age merely shining a bigger spotlight on how miscast Sandler was as an NFL player.
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 Badepisode 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 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 & 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 ten percent 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.