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Films Discussed By Moviebob / Films Number To E

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  • 10 Cloverfield Lane: Called it an excellent film, comparing it to a feature-length, slightly-bigger-budgeted episode of The Twilight Zone and heaping praise upon its acting (especially John Goodman), directing, and suspense. He laments how its title and its association with J. J. Abrams’ marketing will cause people to miss what he feels to be a genuinely worthy film underneath.
  • 12 Strong: It boggled his mind that they'd try to make and release a gung-ho action movie about the Afghanistan War in 2018, but this film did just that, in the process feeling like an Unintentional Period Piece from 2003. Worse, this was enough of a Cliché Storm to be bad even in the Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie subgenre (itself not known for quality films), and it seemingly tried to avoid being at all different, downplaying even the sole noteworthy difference of the protagonists riding on horseback against an enemy force using tanks in a 21st century war. As such, it earned one star, with Bob saying that it felt like it was made on autopilot. He also opened the review with a condemnation of its thanks to Vladimir Putin for having supposedly tried to warn America about 9/11.
  • 12 Years a Slave: Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in a very difficult role, and the villains, while hammy, are also chilling in their cruelty. Director Steve McQueen’s inexperience at helming an Epic Movie shows a few times, but otherwise, Bob named it a runner-up for his list of the best films of 2013. He also spent a good chunk of the review discussing the film in comparison to Django Unchained, in that both films are about the dehumanization of Antebellum America-era slavery yet this film is much bleaker than that film’s revenge fantasy. He compares this to the Saw films as both use the hook that their respective protagonists have no escape.
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: Bob argues that, whatever Michael Bay’s intentions were, it was impossible to make this film apolitical given how politicized the real-life Benghazi tragedy had become. Regardless, he considers it a superior film to the comparable American Sniper, another recent war movie that right-wing media promoted heavily, in that, while it’s not a particularly great film, it still serves as a high-caliber display of Bay’s genuine action chops. He refers to it as “Black Hawk Down: The All Money-Shots Version,” with Bay’s chaotic style serving the story well in how the soldiers are thrust into a situation where they can’t tell the good guys from the bad and have little idea what’s going on. However, its attempts to avoid politics cause it to suffer from a lack of dramatic weight, to the point where Bob wished that Bay had fully indulged in the angry ‘stab in the back’ version of the story promoted by the Fox News Channel et al., just to give the film a compelling villain beyond a horde of mooks and a mere obstructive bureaucracy. Regardless, it’s still worth a watch for action junkies.
  • 2 Guns: It starts off with a clever hook — two undercover cops working together who don't know that the other guy is also a cop — and has two very well-cast leads in Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, who play off each other very well. However, the rest of the movie is just all right and not all that interesting, epitomizing the disposable dump month action movie/star vehicle. Only worth watching for fans of its stars.
  • 21 Jump Street: An extremely funny movie. It’s one of those ideas for a TV series adaptation that sounds like it should have been an awful idea from the get-go, but directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller (who Bob considers the kings of “making good movies out of stupid ideas”) somehow managed to make it work. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill proved to be a surprisingly good comic duo, and overall, it’s a great comedy. Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it in his Casa De Mi Padre review, noting that he reviewed that film instead of this one because Casa was trying something unique. He discussed it further in his review of its sequel …
    • 22 Jump Street: One of the rare comedy sequels that manages to live up to the original, largely through an abundance of post-modern meta humor about sequels themselves and a will to explore the nature of sequels. The bromance between Tatum and Hill is just as good as it was in the first film, and the fact that the film builds on and tests that relationship and allows it to drive the story is a huge part of what makes it work.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey: Didn’t review it, but in the Big Picture episode “Is The Hobbit Too Long?”, he cited it as proof that not every scene in a movie must drive the plot forward. Many scenes in this film have little bearing on the plot, instead serving to get viewers into the mindset of its protagonists.
  • 2012: The so-called “Mayan prophecy” the film’s based on may be BS, but it still gave Bob everything he could possibly want out of a large-scale, end-of-the-world disaster movie. He loves to see stupid stuff like the destruction of landmarks, cheesy family drama, and improbable escapes in movies like this, and Roland Emmerich can really do it. It knows what kind of movie it is, and it delivers in spades. He thinks the difference between a ‘good’ silly blockbuster like this and a ‘bad’ one like Transformers comes down to the technical proficiency of the director: rather than engaging in ‘stylish’ rapid cutting and Jitter Cam to wage war on the viewers' senses at the expense of coherence, this film maintains a uniform, coherent style that looks downright beautiful on screen.
  • 300: Called it “a flawlessly constructed monument to dumb” in that, while he found it to be an incredibly stupid film, he couldn’t deny that it was a great action film that passed every test it set itself with flying colors. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of its sequel …
    • 300: Rise of an Empire: It’s more thoughtful and interesting than the first film, though he hesitated to call it better as such. Still, it makes for a great action movie unto itself, with Bob giving special kudos to Eva Green one of the best Dark Action Girl villainesses he’d ever seen in a movie like this, to the point where she often overshadowed the rest of the film. He also notes that the entire film feels like a response to the Unfortunate Implications of its predecessor and of Frank Miller’s writing, with its endorsement of Athenian democracy and criticism of Spartan society as depicted in the original, along with the fact that two of the three main characters (including the villain) are women vis-à-vis the original’s Rated M for Manly attitude.
  • 42: A movie that “feels like it could have been made by a machine.” If you know the story of Jackie Robinson and have seen any other movie about baseball, you know exactly what to expect from this film, and you’d be exactly right to expect it. It’s competently made, but Harrison Ford’s great, larger-than-life performance as the Brooklyn Dodgers’ owner is all that elevates this film above being another So Okay, It's Average inspirational sports movie.
  • 9: Bob found this one to be So Okay, It's Average despite the breathtaking animation, filling the otherwise short review out with an explanation of the difficulty of producing commercial adult-oriented animation films and a vent against hardcore anime fans who insist only the Japanese film industry can do this.

    A 
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: Nothing can change the fact this is “a gimmicky joke of a movie,” and it has some problems with third-act pacing and the action scenes all seeming to blend together, but it’s still a worthwhile watch, helped along by the fact that it plays its central premise as a straight-faced piece of historical fiction rather than an extended gag. He also found it interesting to see a movie that paints the Confederates not only as villains, but downright monsters at that.
  • The Accountant: “Basically an autistic-superhero movie” that Bob gave two stars, though he said fans of any of the cast members should feel free to give it two and a half. He didn’t think it was a bad movie, and he appreciated its sincere efforts to avert Hollywood Autism, with Ben Affleck’s underplayed performance as the titular accountant (his somewhat limited acting range actually helping this time) going a long way towards so doing. All the other performances are very good as well, but the part of the movie following two U.S. Treasury agents trying to discover the real identity of Affleck’s character undercuts that great character work by using twists for twists’ sake, with only the climactic one feeling like information the movie needed to withhold.
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: It’s a quintessential “comedian star vehicle,” a film that’s thin on plot but big on laughs, courtesy of its star Jim Carrey being allowed to do his routine with little standing in his way. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “When Jim Carrey Ruled the World,” a retrospective of Carrey's '90s career, along with its sequel …
    • Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls: Even though many people remember it as a case of sequelitis, Bob still liked it. He noted how, with the original, the studio didn’t realize just how popular Carrey was thanks to In Living Color! (especially among kids who were too young to be watching that show) until the film became an unexpected big hit, and so with the sequel, they essentially made a “raunchier-than-usual kids’ movie” to try and grab that young audience again.
  • Act of Valor: The action scenes are amazing, thanks in no small part to the fact that the U.S. Navy was directly involved in its production, ensuring realism and authenticity instead of phony Hollywood machismo. Unfortunately, the talkier, non-action bits aren’t nearly as good, with several ‘movie-like’ moments that break the film’s sense of realism and some mediocre acting from the active-duty Navy SEALs in the lead roles. Military buffs will love it, but most others would probably have been better served by a straight documentary. In addition, both within the review and in the following week’s Intermission column, he rebuked the widespread concern that the film was a jingoistic, pro-war propaganda piece/recruitment tool, saying that it was no worse in that regard than any number of recent Hollywood action films, and that people on both sides read too much politics into popular culture.note 
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies,” a retrospective on the late Williams’ career. His occasion for citing it was that Williams’ cameo as the King of the Moon stood out as particularly strange even in the filmography of an actor who played strange roles frequently.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: Devoted an episode of Good Enough Movies to it. It's an Andy Kaufman-esque "what the hell am I watching?" meta parody of serialized pulp adventure stories and comic books, particularly of the experience of picking up a random book only to find that you're in the middle of a long-running story and have no idea what's going on — hence the amount of fake mythology gags, call-backs, world-building, etc. in service of a Myth Arc that doesn't actually exist outside of this one movie. The other big part of the joke is parodying the ridiculous sci-fi melodrama of a lot of these stories by having it be told in the form of a legitimate movie with credible, big-name actors delivering these lines with a completely straight face — something that seems a lot less silly today in the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which does pretty much the exact same thing for real and has become a global pop culture phenomenon. Given how weird the movie is, especially for the time, it's no surprise that it bombed in its initial theatrical run, nor is it a surprise that it was eventually Vindicated by Cable and found its fanbase that way.
  • The Adventures of Tintin: Great directing, great action, and the best (though still not perfect) use of performance capture technology in filmmaking history yet make a very worthwhile watch. Bob also comments on how the mere fact of the film’s production, what with it being a big-budget adaptation of a property that’s never been big in America, shows Hollywood’s growing recognition of the power of non-American moviegoers.
  • After Earth: “M. Night Shyamalan might really want to look into a change of careers.” Bob had some Bile Fascination for this movie, but overall, he considered it incredibly boring to watch, an ego trip for both Shyamalan and Will Smith that's among the worst of both their careers. He spent a good chunk of the review laughing at the film's dumber moments (namely, one of the main characters being named Cypher Raige) while criticizing the film for having a plot structure that felt more suited to a video game than a film, including using a few arbitrary gameplay tropes. Also, both Will Smith and his son Jaden give incredibly dull performances here, with Will’s famous charisma nowhere to be seen and Jaden totally out of his depth as an Action Hero, and the film’s backstory about humanity leaving Earth That Was is never properly utilized and feels superfluous. At the end of 2013, he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year.
  • AKIRA: Feels that it’s a perfectly serviceable cyberpunk action film, nothing more, nothing less, and that most of its popularity comes from it being most Americans’ first ‘real’ experience with anime rather than its own merits. In one of his “Intermission” columns, he offered some tips on how to do the American remake properly, with his final tip being “just don't do it” — an argument that he doubled down on several years later in the In Bob We Trust episode "Bob Fixes the Movies", a discussion of four Troubled Productions that were going on at the time. That said, if they do make an American adaptation, one avenue that he does think would be worth exploring would be to set it in the ghetto with a mostly non-white cast, arguing that Americanization doesn't necessarily have to mean white-washing and that many of the story's thematic components (blighted neighborhoods, militarized police, youth gangs run amok, kids being chewed up and spit out by "the system") are deeply associated with urban minority poverty in the US, providing what could be fertile ground for a unique sci-fi blockbuster.
  • Aladdin: While the songs and villain were great, the hero is neither compelling nor likeable, “but two out of three ain’t bad.” Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies,” a retrospective on the late Williams’ career; he noted Williams as the voice of the Genie is the main reason people remember this film as well as they do.
    • Aladdin (2019): Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019. While Will Smith as the Genie was an admittedly creative choice (even if Williams will probably still be the First and Foremost actor in the role), he was far more skeptical about Guy Ritchie directing given his recent track record. When he reviewed the movie, he gave it 5 out of 10 and called it "an average film, existing more as a tribute to the original than as a movie in its own right"invoked, one that was at least better than Dumbo from two months earlier, and that was at its best when it wasn't just copying the original. He found the second-act Romantic Comedy interlude to be quite charming, thought that Smith's Genie was surprisingly one of the best parts of the movie when he played him as Hitch (and, conversely, cringeworthy when he tried to imitate Williams' more manic humor), and hoped that playing Jasmine would be Naomi Scott's Star-Making Role. On the other hand, Ritchie's direction was surprisingly flat, and Mena Massoud and Marwan Kenzari failed to impress as Aladdin and Jafar respectively.
  • Alex Cross: A terrible movie that can’t even bring itself up to being entertainingly awful, with the clean-cut Tyler Perry unconvincing as an Action Hero (though he could have been much better in a more conventional mystery drama) and Matthew Fox delivering a laughably one-note and over-the-top performance as a villain who feels like he came out of a comic book, not a relatively grounded police movie. At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his ten worst movies of the year.
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010): While it works in bits and pieces, and the art design, special effects and score are amazing, ultimately it fails spectacularly to come together as a whole movie. Bob felt that, story-wise, it was a mess that tried to shoehorn the Random Events Plot of Lewis Carroll's novel into a ‘good versus evil’ narrative reminiscent of a Merchandise-Driven cartoon from The '80s — something that someone like Terry Gilliam or Alan Moore might have done as a spoof of the Hollywood system.
  • Alien: He recommended, in a "How to Fix" episode of In Bob We Trust, that by this point (after the release of Alien: Covenant) the only way to salvage the franchise would be to just make the Alien the good guy. With overexposure having greatly reduced the fear invoked by what was once one of the scariest monsters in horror, all that's left to do is go the Godzilla route and have a xenomorph as the hero. His story idea: Weyland-Yutani attempts to launch a xenomorph breeding program that goes horribly wrong, leaving an adolescent xenomorph queen running around slaughtering evil scientists, security, and corporate suits in a "Die Hard with an Alien" scenario. Bonus points if you can have Weyland-Yutani recruiting the Predator to fight back against the xenomorph, making it an Alien vs. Predator reboot as well.
    • Alien: A masterpiece of minimalist horror that he holds up in contrast to its sequel, Alien: Covenant, in terms of how not every film is served well by having a mythology. In this film, the titular alien served as a distillation of every fear its audience had about what lies beyond the stars, hence why the film was titled simply Alien and not Xenomorph, and while there was world-building regarding the ship (the Nostromo) that the characters were on and the corporation (Weyland-Yutani) that they worked for, these were meant to serve the plot rather than the other way around.
    • Alien: Resurrection: Hasn't reviewed it, but he did say that, while it didn't really work, it is fun to watch as basically "the fanfic version of an Alien movie".
    • Prometheus: Called it a smart and well-made (if not great) sci-fi/horror film without any serious flaws beyond some clunky transitions between the three acts, with the lead actors all turning in great performances and the Abusive Ancient Astronauts idea being a rather scary thought (if hardly original by this point). However, he couldn't help but feel underwhelmed, which he attributes to how the internet has created a movie-geek culture where everybody knows everything about the behind-the-scenes details of a film (a subject he had discussed in the prior week's Intermission editorial). He went in knowing that the film was a prequel to Alien, which colored his expectations of the project and prevented him from enjoying it on its own merits. His opinion had cooled in the years since, the film frequently coming up in his later reviews as a go-to example of an Idiot Plot. However, when he brought it up in his review of Alien: Covenant, he remarked that he still kind of liked the film, even if it wasn't a particularly good one, seeing it as a big-budget, star-studded remake of one of the many sleazy, B-grade Alien knockoffs that came out in the '80s.
    • Alien: Covenant: "I don't give a shit about where the fucking Alien comes from, and neither should you." The film's attempt to explore the origin of the Xenomorphs is one of those things that should have been conceptually interesting in its exploration of the idea of a capricious creator who doesn't understand human morality, but it fails to follow through on the bigger ideas it brings up and winds up as just a rote Mad Scientist story that just happens to be set in the Alien universe, and it destroys the mystique surrounding the Xenomorphs in the process. Ridley Scott's beautiful direction is wasted on a story that isn't compelling in the slightest, while Michael Fassbender (who Bob regards as one of the most overhyped actors in Hollywood) is awful in both of his roles and the rest of the cast (save for Danny McBride, oddly enough) is just So Okay, It's Average and forgettable. He gave it one and a half stars and said that, given that only two Alien movies out of eight have been any good, it may just be time to put the franchise on ice.
  • Alien vs. Predator: Didn't review it, but he mentioned his thoughts on it in the In Bob We Trust episode "Stop Trying to Make Us Like the Predator". He liked this film, even in spite of how stupid he felt the plot to be, mainly because it seemed to understand how stupid it was and that it was merely an Excuse Plot to get xenomorphs and Predators fighting each other. On the other hand, its sequel Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem misunderstood this, attempting to be a 'serious' horror movie that fleshed out the Predators' backstory and winding up a dreadful mess as a result.
  • Alita: Battle Angel: invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it an honorable mention for his most anticipated films of 2018... and a dishonorable mention for his least anticipated films of the year.note  The digital augmentation of the title character's face was admittedly odd, but he was interested in seeing how it played out on screen, while the casting of a large number of black and Latinx actors in an anime adaptation presented a unique twist on the "whitewashing" controversy that typically accompanies such films. That said, Robert Rodriguez was very hit-or-miss as a filmmaker, seeming to be more interested in making movies than in ensuring they were any good; when he's actually invested in the material, he's made some knockouts, but his bad movies are usually very bad. While he was interested, he couldn't help but be reminded of the Ghost in the Shell remake.

    When it came out, he called it "kind of a mess" between its Ending Fatigue, its meandering story, and the clash between James Cameron and Rodriguez's respective styles... but at the same time, all of that, combined with its shameless anime style, also made it "kind of awesome" and drove him to call it a Cult Classic in the making for its compelling, teen-girl-oriented madness, comparing it to Jupiter Ascending, Dune, and Excalibur. Whatever one might say about the plot and the writing, the film also looked spectacular, with some of the best special effects he'd ever seen and the production values seeming to discipline Rodriguez's worst tendencies as a filmmaker and bring out his best. The cast was excellent (save for a wooden Keean Johnson as the Love Interest), especially Rosa Salazar as the "Precious Moments Terminatrix" Alita and the bevy of character actors Rodriguez often brings to his films. He gave it a 7 out of 10 and said that there was probably an unserved audience out there who would positively adore it, and praised it for at least trying even if it didn't stick the landing.
  • Allied: “Well, shit. This was pretty damn good. You know what would’ve made it even better? If they hadn’t given away the big second-half twist in the trailer.” It’s an entertaining Genre Throwback to 1940s–’50s wartime romances that Brad Pitt, an actor who exudes that sort of classic Hollywood leading-man appeal, seems like he was born for. Knowing the big twist about Marion Cotillard’s character going in did detract from it somewhat, however, and it could have stood to be longer so it had more time to flesh out the plot and characters. Even so, he called it a very solid and well-made film, giving it three stars and a recommendation.
  • Aloha: Highly disliked it, calling it a symbol of how far Cameron Crowe’s career has fallen since his Glory Days. Its main problem is that everything feels like a subplot, with no central story to drive the film: it’s simultaneously about the construction of a rocket site in Hawai'i, the romance between Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone’s characters (the latter being a thinly-written Manic Pixie Dream Girl at that, a criminal waste of Stone’s genuine talent), Cooper’s reunion with his remarried ex-wife played by Rachel McAdams, and any number of other plot threads that go nowhere. It’s an utterly disjointed mess that apparently suffered through a Troubled Production, complete with Executive Meddling in a failed attempt to salvage it, and it shows.
  • Alone in the Dark (2005): Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. It gets off on the wrong foot immediately with an Opening Scroll that winds up spoiling multiple moments that the film itself seemed to have framed as twists, and it doesn't get a whole lot better from there. He doesn't think Uwe Boll is a completely incompetent director, as he executes individual scenes pretty well, but it all falls apart in how they're brought together, leaving a story that's nearly incomprehensible (and would have tipped over that line but for said title crawl). He gives it a 1 out of 10, but doesn't blame Boll exclusively for the movie's shortcomings, as the source material's story, like those of many other successful games since the late '90s, is incredibly derivative of any number of popular movies, and taking away the gameplay that helped it stand out makes the Follow the Leaderinvoked nature of the plot that much more obvious.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man: “A rancid, terrible, stiflingly inept, torturous-to-sit-through piece of s*** whose every second of its unforgivably long running time feels like the worst kind of passionless, cynical, mechanical, soulless, assembly-line, commercially focused corporate filmmaking — precisely because it is the worst kind of passionless, cynical, mechanical, soulless, assembly-line, commercially focused corporate filmmaking.” Bob went into the film having dreaded it for over a year, since it was put into production for the sole purpose of allowing Sony Pictures to hold onto the Spider-Man film rights and prevent them from reverting back to Marvel — who, at this point, will likely never give them back. The result didn’t even meet his rock-bottom expectations, irritating him so much he put out two Escape to the Movies episodes that week to discuss all his problems with it.

    All that kept him from hating it as much as Green Lantern was that he found it just too boring and lazy to keep him continuously angry at it, what with it completely recycling the origin story that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man did far better just ten years before. Most of the ‘new’ twists and wrinkles it inserted into the plot either ruined the character’s mythology, shamelessly ripped off Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and/or Twilight, or (often) both, while the action and special effects were bad and the villain’s motivations, personality changes, and behavior made absolutely no sense. It was bad enough to make him miss the “emo Peter Parker dance” from Spider-Man 3. It may not have been the worst movie he’d seen in 2012 (though at the end of the year he did list it in his bottom ten), but to him, it was easily the most contemptible.

    He returned to the film in the following week's Intermission editorial “Conundrum” to discuss another problem he had with the film, the fact that plot threads that should have been resolved within the film itself to create a complete narrative were instead Left Hanging for the sequel. He felt that this was the dark side of the continuity-driven storytelling that Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe had popularized: it gives lazy screenwriters an easy way out of having to resolve major story points by simply promising that the film is the first in a franchise, and that the resolution is being saved for later.
    • The Amazing Spider Man 2: A few months before it came out, he devoted the Big Picture episode “Too Many Villains” to it. He doesn’t believe that having too many villains in one movie is a problem if they’re handled correctly, citing the henchmen and masterminds of Die Hard, the Dark Knight Saga, and many of the James Bond films as examples of how to do it right. Rather, the problem comes when the villains have little discernible goal or reason to work together besides defeating the hero, as in Batman Returns, for example. He still has little hope for this movie being good, going by how much he hated the last one, but he doesn’t buy into the complaint about having Electro, Rhino, and the Green Goblin all in one Spider-Man movie.

      When it came time to review it, he called it “the movie that broke MovieBob” and skipped his usual opening and theme music so he could just jump straight to the point. While he found it to be a marginally better movie than its predecessor, it infuriated him on a personal level in a way that that one didn’t, to the point where he left the theater sick of Spider-Man. He compared his experience watching it to staring into a Lovecraftian abyss at the future of blockbuster cinema, not a film so much as a cynical foundation for Sony Pictures’ new Cash Cow Franchise with nothing in the way of coherent plot or structure on its own, just a bunch of loosely-connected storylines haphazardly organized into the barest semblance thereof (comparing it to Iron Man 2 as such). It’s the realization of all his fears about Hollywood using continuity and franchises as an excuse to make movies that don’t work on their own, and the parts that he did like (the special effects, the action scenes) couldn’t come close to overcoming the parts he hated. He ended his review sincerely hoping that the film would be a Box Office Bomb that would destroy the franchise and the careers of everyone responsible for making it. At the end of 2014, he named it his least favorite movie of the year.

      Later, he returned to it in the Intermission editorials “How Can Sony Pictures Save Spider-Man?” and “Looking Back at This Summer’s Movies” to discuss the film’s box-office disappointment. He argued that, despite its respectable opening weekend, it still wasn’t impressive for a film that reportedly cost $200 million to $250 million even before marketing costs were factored in, especially given that Marvel, not Sony (who made the film), controls the merchandising rights. The fact that, the following weekend, it lost the box-office crown hard to the low-budget, R-rated frat-boy comedy Neighbors must have only added insult to injury. He feels that Sony is stuck between a rock and a hard place with Spider-Man — if they keep making Spider-Man movies, they risk audience burnout and zombification of an already-diluted brand, but if they stop, they lose the rights to one of their last semi-successful franchises, likely forever. He also offered several ideas for how to make a better Spider-Man movie in the future.
  • America: Imagine the World Without Her: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2014 he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year, calling it a Documentary of Lies that utterly butchered the history it claimed to be teaching viewers about to grind its ideological axe.
  • American Assassin: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2017, he named it his second-least favorite film of the year. His description of the movie's plot was accompanied by a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer about its ridiculous premise, which he felt was cooked up by somebody watching too much Fox News in the early '10s, and he summed it up as "an even stupider version of the Jack Reacher movies."
  • American Hustle: “Like an SNL sketch they forgot to bring the jokes for.” Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2013 he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year, finding it inauthentic, mediocre, and hugely overrated, and arguing that David O. Russell has been on a downward slope creatively ever since The Fighter.
  • American Made: He said that it left so little impact on him that he all but forgot everything that happened in it just two days after he first saw it. It squanders the interesting real-life story it's based on, and not even a good, charismatic lead performance from Tom Cruise can save a paper-thin storyline that depends more on cameos from famous figures in the Iran-Contra scandal than anything. It earned two stars and little more than a shrug.
  • American Pie: He hates the series with a passion, considering it nowhere near as funny, edgy, or insightful as people proclaimed it to be, then or now. Didn’t review any of the films, but he mentioned them in his review of The Raid Redemption, discussing why he chose not to review the fourth film, American Reunion, which had come out that week. (He did see Reunion, mentioning at the end of said Raid review that he thought it terribly generic and overly reliant on cameos from the old films and 1990s pop culture references, and at the end of 2012 he named it one of his ten worst movies of the year.)
  • American Sniper: He spent a good chunk of the review discussing the question of whether or not it’s still Too Soon after 9/11 to review a film about The War on Terror solely on its own merits without being affected by the cloud of what had happened, mainly because he thought that, despite this being the sort of film that he really wanted to like and which was hard to criticize for that reason, he still felt that it “kind of sucks.” He found it to be empty, pointless, and shallow, with Clint Eastwood’s Signature Style of matter-of-fact lack of pretension doing the story a great disservice. It’s little more than a boring presentation of the life of Chris Kyle that offers no perspective on his character, his actions, or even the war wherein he fought, let alone anything that one couldn’t learn in a far superior manner either by watching a documentary or by reading his autobiography. At the end of 2014, he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year.

    He discussed the film further in a Big Picture episode a few weeks later. He clarified that his reasons for disliking the film were exogenous to its politics, while discussing how the film and its success had become a cause célèbre for pro-military conservatives, and how liking or criticizing it had essentially become a political litmus test of ‘patriotic True Americans versus seditious, left-wing Hollywood.’ He also argued that the film was so successful partly because it filled a niche after the Iraq War, making a conflict that seemed to have served no purpose from beginning to end feel more palatable for a nation that affords a great deal of respect to its soldiers, allowing viewers to project upon it (through its thematic emptiness) a narrative where that sacrifice meant something in the end.
  • The Amityville Horror (2005): Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger, in which he also discussed the original film. He called the original "a defiantly routine haunted house pic" that only stood out because of its Based on a True Story premise, which he regards as Based on a Great Big Lie anyway. The same 'what's the point?' feeling of the original applied to the remake, which falls victim to many of the same faults in how it rips off virtually every supernatural horror movie under the sun, past and present, only without the novelty of the 'true story' going for it. He dismissed it with a 2 out of 10.
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Called it “a straight-up modern comedy classic” and one of the funniest films ever made, due to its surreal zaniness and utterly random humor that always came out of nowhere to surprise him. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Winter Is Coming,” and in his review of its sequel …
    • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: It’s nowhere near as good as the first film, having been doomed from the start by the fact that any attempts to replicate the original’s random humor would have been impossible simply because it is a sequel. Its two biggest issues are its ham-handed attempts at satirizing TV news and the fact that its many disparate plotlines never seem to coalesce, almost feeling like a series of Web shorts strung together into a loose story. However, it’s still one of the funniest films of the year and earns a firm recommendation for that alone, even if it has to exist in the shadow of a classic; Bob compares it to Ghostbusters II in this regard.
  • Angel Has Fallen: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019. He wasn't a fan of either of its predecessors, Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen, finding them "tiresome and dreary", and he thinks that Gerard Butler ought to fire his agent for this and many of his other post-300 films.
  • The Angry Birds Movie: In a Game Overthinker episode released after the trailer came out, he said that he found it ridiculous that Angry Birds, of all games, was getting one of the biggest video game movies of all time, before so many other classic franchises did (even though he thinks the game itself is quite good).
    • The Angry Birds Movie 2: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019, saying simply that this film's existence would mean having to rewatch the first one, which he remembers only as "not being very good".
  • Annie (the 2014 movie): Didn't review it, but he discussed it (along with the original Little Orphan Annie comic strip) in the Big Picture episode “Orphan, Black?”note  He felt that the original 1982 film adaptation wasn’t that good, so he doesn’t have a problem with this remake, nor does he have a problem with it having a mostly black cast (including Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie and Jamie Foxx as the father). He also discussed the original comic’s conservative, pro-capitalist tilt and often fantastical adventures and characters versus the 1977 musical’s left-wing message (which he compared to the Starship Troopers film’s repudiation of the book) and more grounded take, along with the ’82 version’s attempts to incorporate elements of both.
  • Annihilation (2018): While it seemingly strove to be deeply divisive, Bob came down as liking it, as it struck him as a combination of Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris, Ken Russell, and Swamp Thing in how it brought together a meditative, "thinking person's sci-fi" story with lurid genre thrills, as befitting the filmmaker who made Ex Machina. It's one of those movies that is more about the journey than the destination, with Alex Garland's direction, Natalie Portman's lead performance, and the visual design (described as "a Lisa Frank trapper keeper designed by H. R. Giger") selling it superbly, and while it does ultimately provide answers to the big questions at the center of it, those answers are of secondary importance to the metaphors at work within the story. Garland occasionally lets the contrast between the lush setting and Body Horror happening therein go into out-and-out Mood Whiplash, the second act is a touch overlong, and Genre Savvy viewers can probably guess the climax well in advance, but it's still quite thrilling. He gave it three stars, recommended it, and named it his ninth-favorite movie of 2018.
  • Anomalisa: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2015 he named it an honorable mention for the best films of the year.
  • Anonymous: He used his Intermission editorial “Shaken Up” to examine the conspiracy theory that the film was based on. He didn’t review the film itself, but his thoughts on it were mostly positive, calling it “deliberately-paced, fiendishly smart, [and] luridly ribald,” and saying it’ll appeal to fans of The Tudors or the Elizabeth films. In his Really That Good episode on Independence Day, he used it again as a jumping-off point to explain his interpretation of Roland Emmerich’s artistic motivations: making rousing, melodramatic epics that doubled as “important message” movies.
  • Ant-Man: Before it came out, he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Wrights and Wrongs.” He thought that director Edgar Wright’s departure from the film due to Creative Differences was a great loss for both Wright and Marvel, and he’s worried about some of the details that have emerged, but he didn’t think it was the disaster that it had been made out to be. He compared the resulting backlash against Marvel to that against companies like Apple, Google, and Pixar, arguing that the main root of the backlash was in how Marvel seemed to have betrayed its carefully-crafted, geek-friendly brand image by reminding its fans that, at the end of the day, it’s still a movie studio. He also thinks that Wright’s status as a fellow geek had something to do with it, noting there was no similar backlash when Patty Jenkins was fired from Thor: The Dark World. Concerning the non-geek journalists who complained about it, he feels that it (along with their distrust of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general) had to do with their belief in The Auteur Theory, which he regards as having its good points but being far from a universal means of analyzing film (especially big, studio-driven Hollywood films).

    When it came time to review it, he really liked it, finding it to have succeeded at meeting its comparatively small-scale goals more than Avengers: Age of Ultron did with its lofty ambitions, even with that Troubled Production. In a landscape of increasingly bloated superhero movies, including many of Marvel’s own, Bob felt this, a film that’s light on plot but big on laughs and personal drama (he compared it to a beefed-up version of a 1990s Disney film that might have starred Robin Williams), to be a breath of fresh air. He did find the first hour a bit slow, and Evangeline Lilly’s character didn’t get nearly enough screen time (even if he did enjoy the resulting meta-joke about Marvel’s long-time reticence to give the spotlight to a female superhero), but he still felt the overall film to be one of Marvel’s better standalone efforts. At the end of 2015, he named it an honorable mention for the best films of the year.
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp: It toned down the humor of the first movie in favor of a greater focus on action and story, which made Bob feel that it had lost some of its identity, though he still enjoyed it. The plot often felt too convoluted for its own good, but the action scenes were MCU highlights (the shrunken van chase especially felt like a demo reel for a Hot Wheels movie) and both Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly delivered great performances. He gave it three stars and said that, while it felt like it was trying a little too hard, he'd take that any day over a movie that didn't try at all. He also opened his review telling MCU fans to stop trying to figure out where this movie falls in the timeline (especially in relation to Avengers: Infinity War), saying that it will make sense after the post-credits scene and that treating popcorn blockbusters like homework is never fun.
  • Apocalypse Now: Didn’t review it, but in the Big Picture episode “Is The Hobbit Too Long?”, he cited it as proof that not every scene in a movie must drive the plot forward. In this film’s case, the sheer length of the movie served to wear viewers down, making them feel like Captain Willard and his men as they slogged their way to Colonel Kurtz’s camp.
  • Aquaman (2018): Before Bob reviewed it, he named it his tenth least anticipated film of 2018. By then, Warner Bros. was just doing damage control on the DC Extended Universe, and he expected this film, shot before Justice League stumbled into theaters to a collective shrug, to be the last visible symbol (and a very visible one) of that Off the Rails franchise before they moved forward with their attempt to fix it. He finds Jason Momoa to have remarkably little charisma and screen presence given his status as The Big Guy, and while James Wan is a talented director, at this point even he probably couldn't save a movie that would likely only add another layer of tarnish to Aquaman's reputation. When he reviewed it, however, he said it was "either the best bad movie, or the worst good movie, of 2018." He was on board with it for Wan's beautiful direction, its foresight to pair Momoa with castmates who can act better as much as possible while allowing him to rest on his natural charisma, and its total and refreshing lack of shame about what it was — which about made up for its overcomplicated plot coupled with a rather simplistic and often contradictory storyinvoked, overabundance of backstory, and Mood Whiplash. He gave it three stars and compared it to the 1980 Flash Gordon movie (to use what he admitted was a overused reference for people like him) as silly genre films based on old properties go.
  • Argo: An “exciting, engaging spy thriller” that avoids the trap that many films about the film industry fall into (i.e. becoming an excuse to indulge in inside jokes about Hollywood), instead wisely putting the focus squarely on the rescue mission that drives the main story. It’s not very showy, but the lack of such theatrics works to its benefit. He opened the review giving a Cliffs Notes version of the Iranian hostage crisis and how it affected American politics. Later, in the Intermission editorial “Gold Bugged: Mea Culpa,” he discussed how nearly every major professional film critic, himself included, had missed this film as a potential Oscar contender.
  • Armageddon: Didn't review it, but in his review of First Man, he called the first half of it (before the characters actually go into space) and the ending as his third-favorite Michael Bay movie after Bad Boys II and Pain & Gain, citing its great cast, one of Aerosmith's better ballads, and its lack of pretense about the sort of Summer Blockbuster it is and insisting that it's better than people give it credit for.
  • Arrival: He describes it as a film that wants to be “the thinking man’s Alien Invasion blockbuster,” and while its premise may sound insufferable at first glance, a nuanced screenplay that avoids Black and White Morality helps make it a great movie, succeeding where Contact (a film with a similar premise) failed by putting its money where its mouth is and actually being smart rather than pseudo-intellectual. Couple that with a great cast led by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and you have a solid film that Bob gives three stars and describes as feeling like a very good episode of The Twilight Zone, though without spoiling anything, he said that the ending felt like it was “a little too clever for its own good.”
  • The Artist: He liked it on a superficial level, but he didn’t love it like so many other critics and moviegoers did (though he understands why many of them loved it). He found the story and characters to be rather shallow and overly reliant on its gimmick, and the film overall to be deeply rooted in rom-com conventions and not quite as intelligent as it thinks it is. He felt its Academy Award for Best Picture to be wholly undeserved.
  • Assassination Nation: invokedIt's the sort of niche, hard-to-market indie film that tends to crop up around early-mid fall, and like many such movies, it's the sort of film that nobody is really ready for no matter how much they think they might be. It was a righteously furious action thriller that combined the basic setup of The Legend of Billie Jean, the aesthetic and characterization of Spring Breakers, the Burn Book scene from Mean Girls, the ultraviolent satire of The Purge, and a massive dose of unsubtle, Trump-era feminist rage to produce a film driven by style and metaphor even at the risk of falling into plot holes. It was a brutal film, its violence meant to be legitimately shocking rather than entertaining even as its characters treated violence with the flippancy of a Quentin Tarantino movie, and it boasted a spectacular cast led by Odessa Young as the nominal heroine of the Four-Girl Ensemble at the center of the film. While he felt that the direction was sometimes too stylized for its own good, and that the mystery of the hacker's identity was given too much weight compared to the damage his actions caused, he still gave it a three-and-a-half-star recommendation and said that, while it was undoubtedly a divisive affair, he expected it to resonate quite well among its teenage/young adult target audience (especially young women). At the end of 2018, he named it his tenth-favorite movie of the year.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): He entered this movie expecting it to suck from beginning to end, and it did. It plays the silly premise of the game franchise deathly straight with no sense of fun, it focuses on the least interesting element of the series’ mythos while draining any tension from the scenes in the Animus, the characters are ciphers matched by the amazingly flat performances of its otherwise very good cast (except for Michael Fassbender, “who mugs his way through this shit like he thinks he’s gonna morph into Daniel Day-Lewis at any minute”), it looks bad on its own, and the editing is awful, which Bob sees as a sign of Executive Meddling in an attempt to appeal to the action crowd. Unable to muster even a sense of righteous anger at this misguided production, and understanding why it was dumped against several surer blockbusters to die a quick commercial death, he gave it a half-star out of four.
  • The A-Team: Called it a fun action flick, enhanced by the characters’ marked enjoyment at all the cool deeds they get to do, i.e. ‘not every character needs to be Batman.’
  • Atlas Shrugged Part I: Takes a book full of deep political philosophy and genre-bending sci-fi, and only covers the dull introduction while Bowdlerising many of the edgier parts of Ayn Rand’s belief system. The result: a boring film that feels like it was made for TV, and which could have been far better, especially given its production history.
  • Atomic Blonde: The trailers had been marketing this as a Distaff Counterpart to John Wick, and while it delivered on that front, it had more than that. The main plot of the film was a fairly conventional Spy Fiction story that thought it was smarter and more interesting than it actually was, but it was redeemed by Sofia Boutella serving as an excellent Love Interest for Charlize Theron's protagonist, their relationship serving as the human core for Theron's character and the film as a whole (to say nothing of how the film, a hard-edged action thriller, treated a female-on-female romance so matter-of-factly), even if its resolution felt a bit trope-y. That said, the action was what makes this movie, with Theron proving to be an exceptionally badass action heroine who thoroughly averts Beauty Is Never Tarnished, and many scenes looking so spectacular on screen that they are likely to be referenced, homaged, and imitated by other action movies for years to come. It may be "just a few meters shy of genuine greatness", but he still gave it three stars and said that there's "not much to it, but what's there is good stuff."
  • Attack of the Super Monsters: Less a film than it was a translated collection of a few episodes of a Japanese toku series called Dinosaur War Izenborg. It’s weird even by Japanese standards, combining live-action monster/robot rumbles (done with laughably obvious Off-the-Shelf FX), anime human characters that fit all the stock anime/toku archetypes, and creepy Incest Subtext, but it’s watchable if you’re into that kind of stuff. He also discussed the practice in the early days of home video of importers translating foreign (often Japanese) cartoons, toku shows and monster movies and releasing them Direct-to-Video. Discussed it in his 2012 “Schlocktober” special.

    A few years later, in the In Bob We Trust episode "Keep Circulating the Tapes" (a list of ten movies he'd most like to see riffed on a hypothetical twelfth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000), he mentioned it in his number-five entry, which was a relatively obscure bad animated movie.note  Alongside it as other such possibilities, he suggested a poorly dubbed Jim Terry or Harmony Gold anime film or the Gumby movie.
  • Attack the Block: Loved it. While he didn’t review it, he recommended it on several occasions in his contemporaneous reviews, comparing it to old-school “John Carpenter high-grade B-Movie ass-kicking” during his episode on films that were Not Screened for Critics, and arguing that it was incredibly deep for what is essentially a B-grade monster flick. At the end of 2011, he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.
  • August: Osage County: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2013 he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year. His reaction to the film the moment he heard about it was an unenthusiastic “oh great, it’s that time of year again,” and he compared the result to “Caucasian telenovela Cheez-Whiz”, with dramatic revelations that fell flat and otherwise talented actors hamming it up with terrible Midwestern accents to the point of embarrassing themselves.
  • The Autopsy of Jane Doe: A long-awaited return from the director of The Troll Hunter that's proves that he's a genuine talent rather than a One-Hit Wonder, with Bob giving it three-and-a-half stars and calling it "one of the most original and satisfying horror movies in a long time." It's a scary, straightforward film that doesn't overstay its welcome or rely on cheap scares, with Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch both delivering outstanding performances as the father-son mortician protagonists, their job description helping to answer the common horror movie question of why they don't just leave the creepy morgue where the film takes place. He couldn't go into further detail without inviting spoilers, though he did say that the plot is pretty easy to figure out after a certain point, the only real flaw he could think of.
  • Avatar: Ultimately very positive. He notes that while the plot itself isn’t original, it helped in keeping the audience immersed in the fantastic world-building and theme-driven story. He also lampshades the fetish potential behind it, noting that DeviantArt will probably go nuts with the movie and compares Neytiri to Jessica Rabbit as potential fetish material.
  • The Avengers (2012): He'd been hotly anticipating and hyping up the very idea of it ever since The Stinger at the end of Iron Man. As explained in the Big Picture episode “Future Assembly,” he’s particularly excited about the possibility of shared continuity becoming part of the DNA of moviemaking, just as it is for comics and, to a lesser extent, television. However, he recognizes that it could easily have some serious pitfalls, and he later came back to this subject (in his Intermission editorialAvengers: The Down Side of Up”) to say that Hollywood has drawn the wrong lessons from the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, continuity being among them.

    When it finally came time to review it, he loved the hell out of it, saying that it was a great film on its own merits and a downright miracle given what it took to make the film possible, and felt it was the new standard against which all future comic book movies will be judged. It marked the first time that a movie of its kind had managed to bring the full “comic book” experience — the sprawling storylines, the disregard for genre, the massive cast — to life on the screen without being too timid or serious. Much of the credit goes to writer/director Joss Whedon, whose experience with Buffy and Firefly has made him an expert at handling these kinds of large casts and group dynamics, and who takes a simple, straightforward main plot and manages to elevate it head and shoulders above nearly anything like it. A few years later, he came back to the film in an episode of Really That Good to expand on what he said in his review. He argued that what made it a truly great film was that it was about the characters and their interactions rather than the action, taking the themes of friendship and unity found in many Silver Age comics and building the entire film around them. This elevates the action scenes more than the cinematography or special effects ever could (though those too are great on their own), and more than makes up for the film’s flaws (which are admittedly numerous). He also argued that this film, and the MCU in general, is the sort of thing that could only have become a mainstream phenomenon in the Internet age, when it became much easier to follow the concept of a shared universe between movies. Marvel was merely the first company to figure out how to do it, and more importantly, they made proving that it could work the entire crux of the film.

    He also said in “Avengers: The Down Side of Up” that this film was awesome enough to compensate singlehandedly for what he saw as an awful summer movie season. Most of the summer’s output ranged from good-but-disappointing to downright terrible in his opinion, with only a few hidden gems to liven it up, but it was possible for him just to go back and watch this movie again whenever he needed a great movie to see in theaters, and he’d forget about all the other crap. At the end of 2012, he listed it as the best movie of the year, and in the Big Picture episode “Ranking the Marvel Movies,” he named it his second-favorite Marvel movie, behind only Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: In his Big Picture recap of the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, he said that his interest in this film, already high to start with, shot through the roof when Ultron was announced as the villain. He compares it to “the Avengers versus the Terminator.” However, after being tremendously underwhelmed by Aaron Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen's performances in the 2014 Godzilla film, he got worried about it for the first time. He was also underwhelmed by the teaser trailer, saying that the second film in a series being Darker and Edgier is a hoary cliche and he sees nothing in it worth getting really excited about.

      When it came time to review it, he said that, while it wasn’t the instant classic that the first film was, it was still an excellent film and a must-see blockbuster. He compared it to The Godfather Part II in the sense that, while it felt richer and more substantial than the first film, the original still had more standout moments that will be remembered for a long time to come. The cast was great, having had years to settle into their characters and learn them like the back of their hand, while the action was spectacular and the protagonists’ focus on heroism and saving people was refreshing given Bob’s lingering issues with the destruction-filled climax of Man of Steel. The only serious flaws he found with the film were that much of Thor’s side story felt like it was cut for time, and that Ultron’s plan seemed too much like Loki’s in the first film, which felt strange given the very different motivations and personalities that the two characters had. Still, it’s a must-see that, if it suffers, does so only in comparison to the original. He seemed to have soured on it later on, ranking it in 2018 as his fourth least-favorite MCU film, saying that, while it wasn't bad, it wasn't as good as the first, and that it felt like narrative wheel-spinning to set up for Civil War (which he regards as the real "Avengers 2").
    • Avengers: Infinity War: invokedBefore he reviewed it, Bob named it his sixth most anticipated film of 2018. The quality would hinge on whether Thanos proved to be a credible villain after staying in the background for so long, but by this point, he had little reason to believe that Marvel would go wrong. When it came out, he reviewed it twice (one spoiler-free, the other nothing-but), gave it three and a half stars and released an In Bob We Trust episode to discuss a certain moment of it. He recommended it strongly as the logical conclusion to the Sequel Escalation started by the first Avengers, a film that took its basic formula and went bigger and badder with it to an almost unfathomable level. It wasn't as good as the first Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, or Black Panther, but it was still better than Age of Ultron and nestled within the upper echelon of the MCU. Thanos was highly effective as the Villain Protagonist of the film, with a remarkable logic to his actions and thoughts anchored by an excellent performance from Josh Brolin, which redeemed him from his less than impressive showings in earlier movies, but all the returning and other newly introduced characters were also great, elevating what he admitted freely was more an Excuse Plot than anything. Apart from finally having to engage in the MCU's long-deferred exposition about the Infinity Stones and the inevitability of a Broken Base regarding which characters fans would most like to see advance their major character beats in this film, he found almost nothing wrong with it.

      On the spoilers side,invoked the ending was a massive downer and impressively audacious Wham Episode that may or may not have reduced several children watching the movie in the same movie theatre as him to tears, with Bob saying that only a movie with supremely-solid box office expectations like Infinity War itself could afford to go out on such a note. He understands why the inevitability of Spider-Man, Black Panther and Doctor Strange coming back could hamper someone's ability to invest in the stakes of the sequel, but personally he was still deeply emotionally-affected by moments like Peter Parker's death scene because they were very well-acted scenes and he personally lays his stakes on in-the-moment execution rather than the ongoing meta-narrative. As a side note, he was delighted by the Red Skull's surprise return — it didn't make any sense for him to be where he was, or know what he did, but nevertheless Bob's glad he's still around, and was sorely tempted to give the film a full four star rating just for having him in it. Finally, his In Bob We Trust video "You Are Being Too Hard On Star-Lord" was devoted to the scene where Peter Quill unintentionally released Thanos from Mantis' embrace, conceding that it was an in-universe fuck-up but adding that a lot of people in real life weren't being fair to Quill due to the circumstances leading up to that scene and encouraging them to take it easy on him.
    • Avengers: Endgame: invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. One way or another, this was going to be another Wham Episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and anybody with any interest in the franchise was going to see it if only to know who made it out alive. When it came time to review it, he gave it an 8 out of 10 and described it as pure fanservice for longtime MCU fans. It was the first movie in the series to actually feel dependent on prior knowledge of the other films as opposed to a standalone story that had Easter eggs for the fans, between a second act that was almost a Clip Show of the franchise's greatest hits (in a good way) and a climatic superhero throwdown that was jam-packed with show-stealing cameos from both MCU veterans and newer characters getting their chance to shine. It worked well as both an action movie and an ensemble character drama about how the characters coped with the aftermath of Infinity War, with Karen Gillan being the surprising MVP in the cast as the one who had to carry numerous major and heavy scenes. He called it both a great swan song for the "old" MCU and a promising showcase for its future, even if it was kind of shaggy and unwieldy in spots. He went into more, spoiler-filled detail in the following week's Big Picture episode, "Avengers: No, Really - Now What?", describing where the MCU could go moving forward while highlighting various bits of Fridge Logic that he noticed.
  • Awakenings: Another great completely straight Robin Williams performance, this time also proving he could play second fiddle (in this case, as a doctor who’s revived Robert De Niro’s character from a coma). Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies,” a retrospective on the late Williams’ career.
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  • Baby Driver: A film that made him glad that Edgar Wright got kicked off of Ant-Man to make his own film rather than get sucked into the Hollywood franchise machine, even if the plot was filled with amusing parallels to Guardians of the Galaxy. It's another one of those movies that Wright seems to specialize in, one whose pitch (in this case, The Transporter as written by Nicholas Sparks) makes it sound like it should absolutely suck but which turned out to be incredible, especially when you go back over it and look at the care and love that went into it. Not only does it include some of the best car chase and shootout scenes in recent memory, but Ansel Elgort made for a phenomenal protagonist, Playing Against Type as a character who is fairly inscrutable and slightly 'off' but is made all the more compelling for it, especially with the other characters' reactions to him. He gave it three and a half stars and predicted it would be one of the best films of summer 2017.
  • Bad Boys II: Calls it “Michael Bay's masterpiece” and the exemplar of his filmmaking and nihilistic style. Its themes can be described as “nothing matters, everybody sucks, but watch how awesome it is when I blow it the f*** up!” Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of Pain and Gain.
  • The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans: It’s certainly not at all forgettable for its Refuge in Audacity. He noted that Werner Herzog used Nicolas Cage’s Large Ham nature as the Villain Protagonist very well.
  • Batman (1989): One of the most influential superhero movies ever made, with a pop culture impact that Bob considers as great as that of Star Wars. He credits the film with proving to Hollywood that superheroes not named Superman could be huge box office draws, as well as launching Tim Burton’s career and having its influence loop back into comic books. On the other hand, he feels that the film itself is good but also deeply flawed and uneven, with large gaps in logic and it kicking off several trends that plagued later Bat-movies, such as having stunt-cast villains who completely drive the story. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Big Picture episode “Batman Revisited Part 1,” a retrospective on the pre-Christopher Nolan Batman movies.
    • Batman Returns: Called it “a much more extreme version of its predecessor,” in that the first movie’s good aspects — Burton’s artistic sensibilities, the set design, Danny Elfman’s music, the action scenes — were better in this one, and the last one’s bad aspects became almost disastrous here. Between the two movies, Bob feels that, while Burton may have made a pair of incredibly stylish Batman movies, he didn’t really “get” the character and his universe, finding that both of Burton’s Bat-movies (particularly the second one, which he had greater control over) had their greatest weaknesses in the story department. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in “Batman Revisited Part 2.”
    • Batman Forever: After the backlash by Moral Guardians against the dissonance between Returns’ dark, twisted atmosphere and its kid-friendly merchandising, replacing Tim Burton with Joel Schumacher and going in a Lighter and Softer direction probably sounded like an excellent idea. The problem was that, by this point, Batman had become a Cash Cow Franchise for Warner Bros., and so the emphasis was more on managing the brand than crafting /a good film, the (now unavoidable) issue of stunt-cast, and often miscast, villains dominating the film without adding anything to it being among the biggest signs of this. That said, Bob appreciated how the film managed to develop Batman/Bruce Wayne as a character and set up a plausible new direction for the franchise, and he doesn’t really see how Schumacher ‘destroyed’ the series, given that Forever’s problems were many of the same that plagued the last two movies. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in “Batman Revisited Part 3” and the Intermission editorial “When Jim Carrey Ruled the World,” a retrospective of Jim Carrey’s ’90s career.
    • Batman & Robin: It’s a really bad movie, with a terrible script that makes even less sense than those of its three predecessors, bad casting and production design, and Mood Whiplash all over the place. It’s a symbol of all that was wrong with big, empty popcorn blockbusters in The '90s, and the culmination of all the growing problems that had been plaguing this series. Contra the consensus that this is a toxic neutron bomb, however, Bob views it as So Bad, It's Good and compares it to movies like Flash Gordon and Street Fighter. If nothing else, it holds a place in film history for having spurred on the rise and growing importance of Internet film criticism, with all that came with that (including, perhaps, his own career).

      He thinks there are two major reasons why this movie is so viscerally hated while comparable turkeys like Showgirls are cult classics. First, the film’s campy, Lighter and Softer, almost Adam West-like take on the material clashed with the Darker and Edgier aesthetic that was popular in the Batman comics of the time — many Bat-fans felt (wrongly, in Bob’s opinion) that the 1960s Batman show had ruined the character, and that drawing from that well was tantamount to Canon Defilement. Second, and related to the above, he feels that there was also a homophobic undercurrent to the hatred of the film, given that many of the most vitriolic criticisms were against things like the nipples and codpieces on the protagonists’ suits and the aforementioned camp sensibilities as opposed to the film’s deeper, independent, narrative problems — particularly Unfortunate Implications when one considers that director Joel Schumacher is openly gay. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in “Batman Revisited Part 4.”
  • The Batman (the upcoming film): invoked Hasn't seen it yet, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "The Dork Knight Rises", specifically the casting of Robert Pattinson as Batman. He argued that, looking at the history of the actors who played Batman, Pattinson was an extremely appropriate choice for the part, a Tall, Dark, and Handsome guy best known for playing a brooding vampire who has spent the decade since that critically maligned role becoming a genuinely good actor in acclaimed, smaller-scale films. He thought that the negative reaction that many fans had to his casting was a side-effect of the extraordinary hatred, out of proportion to its actual faults, that Twilight received from a large segment of young male geeks (himself included, admittedly) in the late '00s/early '10s, and that the decision to cast him as Batman suggested that the next film, whether consciously or not, seemed to be designed in opposition to the tastes of many of the most vocal Batman fans — tastes that, in Bob's opinion, were directly responsible for many of his problems with the DC Extended Universe, meaning that he fully embraced Pattinson's casting right out of the gate.
  • invokedBatman: The Killing Joke: Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the In Bob We Trust episode “Killing Junk,” together with the original story. He felt that, on paper, giving Batgirl some extra Character Development was a good idea, given that one of the main criticisms of the comic it’s based on is that her character does nothing but suffer at the hands of The Joker to motivate Batman. Unfortunately, the development Batgirl does get in the movie is the worst of all possible worlds, making Batgirl look fundamentally incompetent and making Batman look like an utter creep given the power dynamics at play. He spends much of the episode analyzing the graphic novel, arguing that, while it still holds up passably as its own story, he can’t help but agree with Alan Moore’s Creator Backlash, feeling that much of the comic was shock value for its own sake. He argues that its stature as one of the greatest comic book stories ever written has more to do with the milieu of comic book culture then and now than anything; while a Darker and Edgier take on a “Batman versus the Joker” story was groundbreaking in 1988, its massive influence on comic books since then means that it suffers from "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny syndrome in 2016, making its flaws much clearer to fresh eyes. At the end of 2016, he named it his second-least favorite movie of the year.
  • Battlefield Earth: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a special In Bob We Trust episode announcing his special Really That Bad episode about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He felt it to be one of a very few films of the early 21st century that failed so totally as art to merit a Really That Bad episode, alongside perhaps only the said BvS or The Passion of the Christ, and he couldn't deny that this adaptation of a schlocky pulp novel was badly made all around. He chose not to review it for Really That Bad, however, because beyond just taking easy potshots at a bad movie for close to an hour, the only real angle from which to approach it for the purposes of a Really That Bad episode would be to explore its connection to Scientology and its deep involvement in so much of Hollywood (the original book having been written by the movement's founder, L. Ron Hubbard). He didn't even see much to explore there, as the movie, for all its faults, simply did not proselytize Scientology (which he dislikes as both an institution and a philosophy as much as anyone) enough to justify excoriating it on that level.
  • Battle: Los Angeles: He praises it for its realistic depiction of what a war between the Marines and alien invaders would actually look like, but felt that its underwritten plot and characters made it hard for him to care. It’s worth a matinee if you’re in the mood for a gritty war movie, but overall, he doesn’t recommend it. Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it in his Paul review.
  • invokedBattleship: “Pretty much every bit as bad as everyone kind of assumed it was going to be all along.” Bob had been hoping for this one to be at least decent, just so that it could surprise everyone who felt it was a bad idea to adapt a board game into a movie (he tries to argue that there’s no such thing as bad ideas, just bad execution). Its big problem is that its director, Peter Berg, has proved himself far smarter than the material with his past films Friday Night Lights and The Kingdom (2007), and his attempt to dumb himself down and make a Michael Bay-esque, empty-calorie popcorn blockbuster fails because he and the movie keep outthinking themselves, comparing it to the Urban Legend about the elite chef who couldn’t make a Big Mac. He did like the last twenty minutes and some of the cheekier nods to the board game (even if nobody utters “the line”), and was pleasantly surprised by Rihanna's performance, but it’s not enough to make this movie worthwhile. At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his ten worst movies of the year.
  • Baywatch (2017): It tried to apply the formula of the 21 Jump Street adaptation to something that this style wasn't cut out for, the original Baywatch TV series being a plot-free Jiggle Show as opposed to the campy buddy-cop action show that this film seemed to think it was. As such, the whole joke felt forced here, the film feeling like a toothless Shallow Parody that didn't seem to know what to do with what was otherwise a pretty good premise and a solid cast that's having fun with the material. It might have been funnier had it simply been a cheesy lifeguard beach flick and not gone out of its way to be 'ironic'. He gave it two stars and said that, if you've seen the trailers, you've seen the best that this film has to offer.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild: Called it one of the best movies of 2012, combining Magic Realism, youthful adventure, outstanding acting (especially given that the two leads had never acted before), and social/political commentary that is always on point but never preachy, and effectively saying that it was the film that The Hunger Games wanted to be but failed. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Under the Radar.”
  • Beautiful Creatures: While he did like the film's Southern Gothic vibe and the Large Ham performances by Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, it does nothing new with its ‘light versus dark’ mythology, the ending is anticlimactic, and it carries some awkward anti-female undertones. He first discussed his thoughts on the trailer in the Big Picture episode “Next Light,” then reviewed it a week after it was released (nothing that week caught his interest).
  • The Beast: Known mainly for its squickyinvoked Interspecies Romance, and a very sick movie to watch. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Test Your Might: Round 2,” a discussion of “extreme” movies.
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017): "What exactly is the point of this?" It's the first film in Disney's recent cycle of live-action remakes of their past animated films that felt like it was made simply to cash in on nostalgia rather than to add a new spin on the material, with the main changes to the story being to add new songs and smooth out plot holes more than anything. It's not a bad movie by any means; Emma Watson and Luke Evans both gave admirable performances as Belle and Gaston, the casting for the animate objects inside the castle was inspired, everybody's singing was good, and overall, it works well as an example of Disney basically making their own fan-film of the original classic. That said, the Beast himself didn't click with Bob, largely due to the uninspired makeup work, and the lack of anything new hurt it in comparison to its peers. He gave it two and a half stars and called it a "victory lap" on Disney's part in celebrating the original, though he suspected that other people will probably enjoy it more than he did. He also didn't understand why there was so much controversy over Josh Gad's gay take on LeFou, saying that most of it amounted to innuendos reminiscent of the portrayal of Smithers on The Simpsons with only the payoff making the subtext into text.
  • Ben-Hur (2016): Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2016 he named it his eighth-least favorite film of the year. He thought another Ben-Hur movie was ill-advised in the first place, and that this update “chickens out on all the most important aspects” of the classic does it no favors.
  • Beverly Hills Cop II: Didn’t so much discuss his thoughts on the film as opposed to its polarizing status among fans of the original, and how the sequel was more of an action project while the original was explicitly comedic. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Remembering Tony Scott—Part 1,” a retrospective of the late Scott’s career.
  • Big Hero 6: Called it both a very good superhero movie and a very good Disney family film. The characters are amazing both in concept and execution, with great voice acting and writing that turns them into more than just caricatures, while the fact that their skills and powers are derived from their knowledge and intelligence also makes them great role models for kids. The medical robot Baymax is likewise an excellent character, especially in his interactions with the protagonist helping him overcome his issues with depression. The only thing that really lets it down is its short attention span; it’s not nearly long enough to tell its story properly, and so the superhero plot that makes up much of the back half of the film feels rushed. Still, he gave it four and a half stars, calling it a must-see for fans of both superheroes and Disney.
  • Big Trouble in Little China: Discussed both the original and the proposed remake in the In Bob We Trust episode “Let’s Not Remake This.” He discusses how the original was not just an Eastern-themed martial-arts action film, but also a comedy skewering Hollywood’s portrayal of Eastern cultures by having Kurt Russell’s buffoonish wannabe Action Hero character, Jack Burton, running around amidst the mostly Chinese characters of the film, pretending to be the hero, and finding himself horribly out of his depth while the actual hero (a Chinese man to whom Burton had been mostly serving as a sidekick) saves the day. He views the film as having been made at the last point in time when the tropes and stereotypes it was parodying were still common in popular culture, and that trying to redo the film today, especially seriously, runs the risk of being an unwelcome Genre Throwback rather than a satire given how these tropes have changed in the three decades since.
  • Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2016 he named it his sixth-least favorite movie of the year. While Bob praises Ang Lee for always aiming high, this is one of his misfires, with Vin Diesel’s pseudo-spiritual monologues from The Fast and the Furious applied to actual spirituality coming across as even less fun here than there — especially egregious in a production as full of Ham and Cheese as this.
  • Bio Zombie: Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Big Picture “Schlocktober” special for 2013. It’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) by way of Hong Kong, albeit more comedic (he compares it to a proto-Shaun of the Dead), as well as a time capsule for that city’s youth/geek culture in the wake of the handover. He was impressed by just how much time the film takes to develop its characters before getting to the “good stuff,” though he feels that this probably had more to do with the film’s low budget than artistic intent. He also notes how the film’s non-Western take on the zombie genre diverged from American zombie tropes in a few key ways, particularly where guns are concerned. He also briefly discusses The Walking Dead, saying that both the show and the comic it’s based on are “okay,” but that they were wise to keep the zombies in the background and focus chiefly on the human drama.
  • The Birdcage: An Unintentional Period Piece given how far LGBT rights have come since it was made, but then again, Robin Williams and Nathan Lane gave great performances and deserve all the credit they’ve ever gotten for doing it. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies.”
  • The Birth of a Nation (2016): Before he reviewed it, he discussed it, together with Hacksaw Ridge and Sully, in the In Bob We Trust episode “The Artist and the Art,” about three 2016 fall-season prestige films that found themselves Overshadowed by Controversy due to the real-life circumstances of their creators (in this case, writer/director/lead actor Nate Parker’s trial for rape and harassment in 1999). He uses this to go into a discussion about the idea of separating the artist from the art when it comes to judging a work on its own merits, arguing that, while seemingly noble, this is a terrible way to review a film, as it not only ignores how a film fits into a creator’s wider body of work, it can also cause critics to miss the intended point the creator was trying to make as well as any Reality Subtext that may be lurking beneath the surface. In this case, it ignores the effort Parker undertook to make the film due to his frustration with the preponderance of White Male Leads in Hollywood, and the comparisons one can draw to the Nat Turner slave rebellion that this film is based on — a lens that, ironically enough, could be just as easily turned around, given that Parker’s accuser was herself denied justice much like the slaves in Parker’s movie.

    When he reviewed it, he gave it two and a half stars, calling it “a decently entertaining, occasionally inspired work of historical melodramatic myth-making.” He touched on the same material in the aforementioned In Bob We Trust episode, and went on to liken it to the works of Mel Gibson, being stylish, violent, blunt, and hyper-religiously inspired. He thought the film was at its best when it threw caution and subtlety to the winds and went all-out in being a “black 300” that told a heavily mythologized version of the story; Bob’s all for the ‘campfire’ version of history, especially given that, for the longest time, the story of Nat Turner’s rebellion had been Written by the Winners and only kept alive through those sorts of campfire tales told in the African American community, and he remained quite impressed that it actually appropriated the title of the pro-KKK silent classic. That said, the ‘respectable’ parts fell flatter because the characters are one-dimensional human avatars better suited to a rousing epic than a somber drama. It's frustratingly incomplete and more like The Patriot than “12 Years a Slave crossed with Braveheart” overall, though Bob admitted he loved the ending. He thought it was “absolutely worth seeing; just adjust your expectations accordingly.”
  • Birth of the Dragon: Despite being presented as a Bruce Lee biopic, it isn't one at all. The real protagonist, a fictitious white man played by Billy Magnussen, has no real reason to be so, especially given that Bob suspected that the character was based on Steve McQueen (who did train with Lee around the time), making Bob wonder why they didn't just make the character McQueen. Furthermore, the Artistic License – History positing that Lee and Wong Jack Man really didn't want to fight their legendary fight rubbed him the wrong way, as did the movie's portrayal of Lee as a borderline Jerk Jock. He gave it one star, said that its lone redeeming feature was the recreation of the fight itself ("if you only have to get one thing right, that'd be the one"), and later named it his tenth-least favorite movie of 2017.
  • Blackhat: By far the worst movie that Michael Mann has ever made, and the closest that Bob feels Mann could have possibly come to tarnishing his otherwise awesome legacy as a filmmaker. It’s a throwback to ’90s hacker-thrillers like Hackers and The Net in all the worst possible ways, with Chris Hemsworth horribly miscast as an elite computer genius and the film employing ridiculous hacking tropes that were dumb even in the ’90s and are just painful to watch played straight in 2015. All he liked about the film was that it was well-shot with a few great action scenes (par for the course for Mann), that Chinese actress Tang Wei did well as the Love Interest, and that the studio dumped it in January so Bob didn’t have to go through the pain of putting films by three directors he loved (the other two being Clint Eastwood with American Sniper and Ridley Scott with Exodus) on his “worst of 2014” list. He gave it two stars, calling it “cluelessly melodramatic schlock.”
  • BlacKkKlansman: The true story that inspired the film was far enough out there already, and Spike Lee brought his Signature Style and irrepressible energy to the project (as he always does). It's played mostly as Lee's take on the Buddy Cop and Blaxploitation Parody genres, with romance and thrills to boot, until an ending that is clearly designed to make audiences think about how invokedHistory Repeats. Given that the true story wouldn't have been conductive to a conventional three-act structure, the film wound up quite unwieldy, especially with its lack of a real ending, but it was still good enough to earn three stars and recommendations as Lee's most "compulsively watchable" recent film and Bob's sixth-favorite of 2018.
  • Black Panther (2018):invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it his most anticipated film of 2018. He believed that most film journalists didn't quite appreciate how big an impact this movie already had among black moviegoers before it even came out, and he anticipated that its full impact afterwards could be comparable to that which the Wonder Woman movie had on female moviegoers. Seeing Afrofuturism brought to the big screen on a blockbuster budget was something that he didn't think mainstream audiences were quite prepared for, noting that, for all its formula, the MCU's blockbuster template left a lot of room for creativity in characters and aesthetics. When it came out, he called it "the best one of these since The Avengers" and "an immediate masterpiece of its kind" even save its importance in the broader pop culture landscape. More than just a superhero movie, it's a straight-up superhero epic about power, politics, and the structure of Wakanda's society and its place in the world; he frequently cited Star Wars as his best comparison for how this film felt in terms of its massive cast and universe. He especially praised Michael B. Jordan as the villain, finding him to be so good, especially in terms of how it allowed the film to tackle head-on all potential Unfortunate Implications of the premise, that it was enough for the film to get away with literally naming said villain Killmonger. Outside of some minor Special Effect Failure and what he felt was a bit too short a runtime, he couldn't come up with enough substantial criticisms to stop him from giving it four stars and acknowledgement as his second-best movie of 2018.

    He later discussed it in two Best Picture episodes. In "Polarity Contest", he discussed the Academy Awards' proposed new category "Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film" (which it decided not to introduce), for which he saw Black Panther as the obvious frontrunner. He expected it to backfire on two fronts in its attempt to acknowledge that the best big movies could be as good as the best small ones (besides his opinion that it was a dumb publicity stunt for the Academy). He feared it would reinforce the Sci Fi Ghetto and, worse, the Minority Show Ghetto: considering Black Panther's themes, it astonished and dismayed him that the Academy missed the Unfortunate Implications of potentially giving a largely black-made-and-cast movie "what will unavoidably be seen as a literal 'separate but equal' Best Picture prize." Later, in "Best Panther", after it was nominated for the official Best Picture prize, he mulled its chances of breaking all the way Out of the Ghetto. While it wasn't even nominated for any directing, screenwriting, or acting Oscars, he was still rooting for it most out of the nominees and thought it just might win the big prize. He justified this hope by invoking the Academy's history of giving Best Picture to the best example of the kind of movie Hollywood made best and pleased the most people, which now meant noticing superhero and other genre material, recognizing the contributions of minority populations, and picking films that weren't poisoned by association with creators considered troublesome. It didn't hurt, either, that by the (admittedly reductionist) measure of critical scores as measured by websites like Rotten Tomatoes, this was the best-reviewed Best Picture nominee for the 91st Academy Awards.
  • Black Swan: “Bottom line: do not miss out.” Bob was absolutely blown away, feeling that Natalie Portman really deserved the Oscar she received for her performance. He begins the review speaking in a faux-stuffy-Brit accent listing all the reasons why he liked it, then drops it for the second half, in which he talks about the Les Yay and how enjoying such scenes isn’t necessarily shameful or objectifying.
  • Blade Runner: It's a brilliant, genre-defining classic where everything came together just right. It's also a film that absolutely did not need a sequel, as it not only had three definitive endings that wrapped everything up, but much of what elevated it from 'good' to 'great' was heavily improvised by the writers, actors, and filmmakers. But, it got one anyway. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of that sequel...
    • Blade Runner 2049: It's genuinely good, over and above simply being better than an inherently unnecessary sequel to Blade Runner had any right to be, though he wouldn't call it as good as the earlier movie. Not only did director Denis Villeneuve emulate the first film's dystopian atmosphere, he also emulated its text-versus-subtext balance. The big difference is that this movie outright stops periodically for "an abbreviated episode of Black Mirror" to make characters' technological anxiety manifest, whereas Blade Runner relied much more on foreshadowing; still, all these vignettes avert the Wacky Wayside Tribe label because they're populated by interesting characters. The main plot doesn't finish as strongly as it had been moving, because the twists were almost bound to come across as predictable and/or less good than their buildup. Still, it earns three stars, its performances, score, direction, and ideas all being good to great and the package not feeling as long as its 163-minute running time. He also opened the review with an Opening Scroll and voiceover homaging the first film mocking Hollywood's tendency to make "Nostalgia Sequels," i.e. sequels that are also essentially remakes of the classic movies on whose names they're trading.
  • The Blair Witch Project: Regarded it then and now as a decent lo-fi indie horror film, but he always knew it more for the media phenomenon that it created than as a standalone film; in that regard, he “thanks” it for paving the way for Five Nights at Freddy's. Him learning just how much of a generational touchstone it was for ’90s kids made him feel really old. As for Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 squandering all the first film’s goodwill, he said it was “a turn of ironic fortune” in a genre where Franchise Zombies abound. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his review of its sequel …
    • Blair Witch: It started out looking like it would be something special, especially with how it portrayed its characters as actually prepared for a long trip into the woods, but it squanders its potential by mostly turning into a rehash of the first film with a Big Budget Beefup and only a few interesting twists here and there. It’s still a decent horror movie, though, with the writer/director team of Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard making a film that brings the scares in many ways. Overall, Bob gave it three stars, feeling that, while it could have been far more interesting than the glorified fan film/nostalgia trip that it was, it still worked on its own merits if you could separate it from the original film.
  • The Blind Side: “…a creaking, colossal piece of shit.” Bob despised this film for its agonisingly pandering White Man's Burden plot, absurd corniness in a film Based on a True Story, and ham-fisted attempts to deflect criticism by having the film’s Designated Villains hang lampshades on it in advance, as well as basically just being a safe, bland, boring, middle-of-the-road, committee-designed film that had absolutely nothing meaningful to say that wasn’t borderline offensive. Didn’t review it, but tore it to shreds in his Intermission editorial “The Bland Side.”
  • Blockers: It was a bizarre mishmash of several different types of films — a modern-day update of She's Out of Control, a Distaff Counterpart to Superbad and American Pie, an adult-oriented comedy in the Judd Apatow mold — but it wound up an enjoyable movie anyway. It's surprisingly progressive in how matter-of-factly it treats its teenage heroines' sex lives as something that isn't necessarily shameful, a message likely aimed at adult parents watching the film as much as teenagers, and while the plot and character arcs are predictable, it's a movie that's more about the journey than the destination. The film's main stroke of genius was that it basically took two takes on the same story, trimmed them each down to only the good parts, and then mashed them together into a solid comedy that wound up "doubly funny" from how lean it was, even if it wasn't laugh-out-loud hilarious. Between that, a great cast (especially John Cena as the earnest super-dad and Geraldine Viswanathan as his daughter, with Bob calling the latter a star in the making), and fun jokes that were smarter than they needed to be, it earned a comfortable three stars.
  • Blood Sucking Freaks: Takes the idea of the infamous Grand Guignol Theater in Paris to its logical extreme, and notable for being something that even Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman (who distributed the film) considers reprehensible. The special effects don’t hold up well, but it’s still a rough watch. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial editorial “Test Your Might: Round 2,” a discussion of “extreme” movies.
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: Discussed the film adaptation in the Intermission editorial “Artcore,” which was about how sexy European art films were, and still are, often used as Poor Man's Porn. He says that this attitude does a disservice to what are often very interesting films by causing people to miss the point and watch them just for the sex scenes, especially when, as in this case, said scenes serve the story rather than exist for titillation’s sake. He also discussed the controversy surrounding the film winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and how so many critics, in their focus on the film’s white-hot lesbian love scenes, are missing a more interesting story surrounding what was apparently a Troubled Production.

    On the film itself, he called it “one of the most provocative and intriguing films of the fall,” and said that was a must-see for any viewers who had arthouse theaters willing to show an NC-17 film in their area. Once the hype surrounding the sex scenes dies down, he feels that this will be remembered as a great love story unto itself. At the end of 2013, he named it one of his ten favorite films of the year.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody: Called it "one of the most nakedly cynical creations I can remember play out" that wasn't straight-up Merchandise-Driven, a film made solely to put the music of Queen back in the spotlight, allow the surviving members of the band to engage in some petty score-settling, and enshrine Rami Malek as Hollywood's Next Big Thing. Malek's performance was legitimately great, and the climax of Queen's performance at Live Aid was one of the best concert scenes he'd ever watched in a movie, but to get there, he had to trudge through a Strictly Formula rock star biopic that played very fast and loose with actual history while telling the safe, pop-culture-enshrined version of the history of Freddie Mercury that only scratched the surface of who he was. The signs of its Troubled Production were visible all over it, and the fact that its original director Bryan Singer had been fired from the film due to a sex scandal was more interesting than anything that happened on screen. He gave it one-and-a-half stars and called it a gross disservice to the man and the music it was based on.
  • Boogeyman (the 2005 film): Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. It starts strong with a great opening scene, and falls apart almost immediately thereafter, the only thing that impressed him being that it didn't go with a Split Personality twist like so many other subpar thrillers and horror films from that time. It's competently shot and paced, but otherwise the definition of So Okay, It's Average, lacking the ambition to do anything interesting. It gets a 4 out of 10.
  • The Book of Eli: Found the plot to be silly and overly reliant on literal Deus ex Machina — after all, if Eli is on a Mission from God, then he can’t lose, thus sucking out all the tension. Ultimately, the rest of the film is no different from any other After the End movie, though he thinks it was well-acted.
  • The Book of Henry: The premise is absolutely absurd, and while the film was technically competent in terms of the acting and Colin Trevorrow's direction, the characters never felt like actual human beings and the tone seemed to undercut the point it was trying to make constantly. However, Bob thought those things made the movie simply bad, not the sort of So Bad, It's Good "you have to see this" trainwreck that so many people had been calling it. He felt that people's utterly weirded-out reactions to this movie were because they treated it as a straight example of the "precocious wunderkind" subgenre instead of the deconstruction of such that it was trying to be. He gave it one star and cited Little Boy as a truly awful example of this sort of film.
  • The Boondock Saints: Discussed the film in his review of the sequel, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, describing the film’s rise to cult classic status through DVD rentals and how it achieved infamy through the making-of documentary Overnight. (He also liked the sequel.)
  • Born to Be Wild: “Monkeys and baby elephants in 3D? That works for me.” Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it at the beginning of his Your Highness review.
  • The Bourne Series: Bob’s never liked these movies, finding them to be lukewarm at best and having a hard time recalling anything beyond the broadest story strokes. The only thing stopping him from outright hating the series is the fact that, being from Boston, he’s always inclined to give Matt Damon the benefit of the doubt, and even then, he thinks it’s far from Damon’s best performance, finding Jason Bourne to be a poor man’s version of Christian Bale’s Batman minus the Batsuit. He attributes his dislike to the films trying to straddle the line between the action-packed ‘Martini’ and dark, gritty ‘Stale Beer’ flavors of Spy Fiction and “doing a weaksauce version of both,” with each side detracting from the other. He also felt that the way the films portrayed their all-American, military-industrial complex villains came off ultimately as telling viewers that the USA is so awesome that the only thing that can threaten it is itself. He thinks so many of his fellow critics and moviegoers loved the series, and why it replaced James Bond as the defining spy movie series of the Turn of the Millennium, was because they allowed guilt-free enjoyment of macho, flag-waving Power Fantasy action films in the wake of 9/11 without having to worry about whether or not they would have suffered from being either Too Soon or racially insensitive in their portrayal of terrorists. In this regard, he calls Bourne an “ersatz Jack Bauer figure for guilty liberals looking for a have-your-cake cop-out,” and finds the idea of the series being the “thinking man’s action films” to be mostly hogwash, with only the ending of The Bourne Ultimatum salvaging it in that regard. Didn’t review the first three films, but he discussed them in his reviews of the fourth and fifth films …
    • The Bourne Legacy: “Not bad, not great, but I guess it does the job.” The film’s big reveal was a great twist that really built the character, but then it abruptly ends at what feels like the end of the second act. It feels more like the pilot for a new series starring the new hero Aaron Cross than a Bourne movie. On the other hand, it moves at a rapid pace, and while Bob was never that interested in the proceedings (and had trouble remembering the story just six hours after watching it), he was never bored either — the action scenes are few but very well-shot, and Jeremy Renner has what it takes to be an action star.
    • Jason Bourne: Didn’t enjoy it. The film seemed to be trying to retcon itself into a blank slate status quo, but in doing so, it had managed to undo anything Bob found remotely interesting about the franchise in the process, resulting in yet another drab, bland Bourne film. The only good thing about the film’s other major plot was that Tommy Lee Jones got some good one-liners playing the villain, with the remainder being little more blatant pandering to hacktivists, forcing much of the action to take place in clichéd scenes with people on computers talking to each other through earpieces, leaving one good action scene that could have been great if the characters involved weren’t so dull. He gave it one star, hoping that this would be the entry that would cause the rest of the film world to dislike the series as much as he did.
  • The Boxtrolls: It’s mostly style over substance and not as good as Laika’s previous film ParaNorman, but it’s still well-made, especially on the visual front and in terms of its villain, and a good time for families and fans of Aardman movies alike. He gave it three stars. Reviewed it in an Intermission editorial the same week he reviewed The Equalizer.
  • Boyhood: Hasn't reviewed it, but judging by remarks from his Top Ten Movies of 2016 videos, he views it with contempt. The source of this contempt is that a) it's a movie where nothing happens in it whose message appears to be "life happens", and b) it tried to cover up its empty plot with a "long-form shooting gimmick" in place of an actual story or philosophy. Ultimately he feels that Everybody Wants Some!!! and Moonlight did a much better job at handling the idea of a minimalist-plotted, fly-on-the-wall movie and that of a movie about how a person can be shaped by their environment and the people in it while growing up respectively.
  • Branded: “The worst movie of its kind I’ve been unfortunate enough to see since Richard Kelly's Southland Tales.” Bob felt it to be one of the few movies that truly deserves what he feels to be an often-misapplied adjective, “pretentious,” coming off as a smug, stupid mishmash of Mad Men, They Live, and The Stuff that thinks it’s a lot smarter and more important than it is without ever approaching its inspirations quality-wise. Most of the film consists of either boring, anvilicious monologues about the evils of consumerism, or scenes that break the cardinal filmmaking rule of Show, Don't Tell (and then often show it anyway), and without spoiling anything, its depiction of overweight people was extremely insulting. The only reason to watch it is for its Snark Bait value. At the end of 2012, he listed it as the worst movie of the year.
  • Brave: In his Big Picture episode “Junk Drawer Rises,” he used the trailer’s clip of the seams on Merida’s fancy dress tearing open as she drew the bow as an example of how Pixar knows how to show rather than tell — in this case, showing how Merida is rebelling against the male-dominated world around her by symbolically destroying a symbol of femininity in the process of that rebellion. When it came time to review the movie (which he did in the Intermission editorial “Near Miss”), he found it to be a good, well-made movie that would have been considered great coming from any other studio, but given Pixar’s pedigree it should have been better. Notably, Pixar’s traditionally rock-solid storytelling chops feel wobbly here, with an overly long first act, many one-note comic relief characters, and the main plot only really getting going about halfway through the film. He attributes much of this to the film’s rocky (by Pixar standards) production cycle, with the creative team departing and being replaced during production, leading to what felt like a lot of loose plot threads.
  • Breaking In (2018): Bob thought this movie missed a good opportunity to do something unique with its plot, but he always likes seeing Gabrielle Union in a movie and expects this will do reasonably well as a "Mother's Day"-themed release. It's a passable "Die Hard In and Around Your Childhood Home" thriller with Union giving a good performance as the lead, but the plot and characters are incredibly pared-down and there's a lot of Faux Symbolism in place of depth. Also, he thought it felt like was all building to a tremendous climax until it didn't — thus, the problem is "missing pieces" rather than "missing story". Still, as disposable counter-programming between Infinity War, Deadpool 2, and Solo goes, it's entirely watchable and worthy of two and a half stars.
  • Brick Mansions: He has no problem with it being an American remake of Banlieue 13, since that film was itself a French remake of Escape from New York in all but name. As for the film itself, he liked the interaction and buddy-cop chemistry between Paul Walker and David Belle (the latter reprising his role from Banlieue 13), was very impressed by the RZA as the villain, and overall felt it to be a fun action movie that had a consciousness to it without beating viewers over the head with it. He also dedicated a good chunk of the review to eulogizing Walker, saying that he worked best when playing the Straight Man in otherwise over-the-top films. Reviewed it in the Intermission editorial “Paul Walker Fights Back from the Grave.”
  • Bridge of Spies: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2015 he named it his sixth-favorite movie of the year, calling it a film that, when it inevitably hits cable in a couple of years, people are going to be shocked that they ignored when it first came out. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are a perfect fit for this sort of film about people embodying the values that America prides itself on, and they combine it with a great Cold War spy thriller to boot.
  • Brightburn: Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. He's a massive fan of James Gunn (who produced the film, and whose brother Brian and cousin Mark wrote it), and the idea of Superman's origin story reimagined as a Creepy Child horror movie was intriguing — especially given how the marketing for this felt like a deliberate sendup/subversion of that for Man of Steel. When it came time to review it, he liked it, even though he felt that it could've been better. Its biggest fault came it how it ultimately landed on the "nature" side of the Nature Vs Nurture debate with regards to why its Superman Substitute Brandon was evil, as Bob felt that it was heading to more interesting places when it portrayed his actions as coming from the privilege and coddling he received from parents and authority figures who didn't recognize the warning signs until it was too late. Still, as a straightforward horror movie, it was well-made, brutal, bleak, and effective, such that he gave it a 6 out of 10. "It's worth the time, if you’ve got the time."
  • Broken City: One of those movies that often makes people say “they don't make ’em like that anymore” (Bob avers, saying that they just don’t make it to theaters anymore), a slow-paced crime drama/political thriller that feels like a Law & Order episode fleshed out into a feature film, and feels almost novel thanks to its lack of intense action scenes and its focus on characters and plot twists. It’s good, but not great, with superb acting and solid directing but also an uneven, blunt script that is bogged down by plot holes and unnecessary subplots.
  • Bullet to the Head: Going by the trailer, it looks like the movie that The Expendables desperately wanted to be: a love letter to macho ’80s action movies that doesn’t take itself at all seriously, and instead looks like great fun. He later came back to it, along with The Last Stand, in the special Escape to the Movies episode “Musclepocalypse” (because he felt that nothing that came out that week was worth reviewing) to discuss its failure at the box office and what that means for the action genre, particularly the sort of Rated M for Manly beefcake action movies that characterized The '80s and The '90s.
  • Buried: A tight, suspenseful thriller with a great Ryan Reynolds performance whose distributors are treating it like a high-minded arthouse film (limited release, promotion to match) rather than the low-budget B-Movie it is, for some reason.
  • Burnt: “Yeesh. What a bucket of suck this thing is.” It’s the sort of movie that’s almost tailor-made to check off every one of Bob’s personal pet peeves — it stars an actor who he finds to be good, but heavily overexposed, playing what’s basically his stock persona, the plot revolves around a jerkass Marty Stu whose arc revolves around him being so awesome at his job (in this case, being a chef) that everybody just has to learn how to deal with the fact that he’s an asshole, and it portrays the protagonist’s raging douchebaggery as something that he’s earned the right to engage in on account of how great he is. Furthermore, he finds that, while Bradley Cooper’s cocky public persona may have made him seem like a good choice for this sort of role on the surface, he lends it little depth or gravitas beyond that, and someone like Ryan Gosling or a young Bill Murray or Harrison Ford could have played a better version of this sort of “lovable asshole”.
  • The Butler: In the Intermission editorial “Winter Is Coming,” he said he was excited to see Forest Whitaker in another big lead role, as well as Lee Daniels (the maker of Precious) turning his eye for soapy melodrama towards The White House. He also discussed Oprah Winfrey’s involvement and some of the film’s strange and provocative casting. He reviewed it (and discussed the legal fight that led the film to be called Lee Daniels’ The Butler) in another Intermission editorial editorial, “Based on a True* Story,” where he said that the celebrity cameos were distracting and oftentimes poorly done, and that the convoluted plot too often consumed the film and its putative lead character. Later, in the Intermission editorial “Summer School—Part II,” he interpreted the film’s success as a sign that Hollywood is finally waking up to the untapped gold mine that is black moviegoers, rather than allowing hacks like Tyler Perry to have a virtual monopoly on that market.

    C 
  • The Cabin in the Woods: “Don’t let anyone tell you anything about this movie. Just mark your calendar and make damn sure you do not miss it. Believe the hype.” It’s a triumph of horror and comedy that succeeds where others have failed by going whole-hog with its meta-narrative ideas, and it’s the best film Bob’s seen all year up to that point. However, he recommends seeing the film before reading his review, opening it with a ninety-second warning that it was going to spoil the film’s big twist (even if it happens at the very beginning of the film and was partially given away by the trailers). A few weeks after he reviewed it, he did an Intermission editorial, “Re-Take the Cabin” (warning: huge spoilers), in which he discussed the film's Take That! at moviegoers (specifically horror fans) who demand cliché and formula rather than anything new. At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.
  • The Cable Guy: One of Jim Carrey’s few duds during his ’90s hot streak, and one that Bob thinks hasn’t improved with age, due to Carrey not having much of a character to play as well as a poorly-conveyed Aesop about television. 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.
  • Call Me by Your Name: A very good movie, though the big thing that Bob left the theater thinking about was that, in just a few years, it probably won't seem nearly as revolutionary, though it'll likely be for a good reason. When you get down to it, it's essentially a gay version of the erotic melodramas that helped establish European arthouse cinema across The Pond in the 1960s and '70s, and much like those films did with their frank and explicit treatment of sexuality helping to break down taboos in the post-Hays Code era, this film will likely do the same with its handling of gay sexuality, such that its greatest legacy will probably be to open the floodgates for a slew of Queer Romance films aimed at more mainstream audiences. It's a fairly simple movie that's more interested in characters than plot, but it's elevated by gorgeous cinematography, excellent performances (particularly a perfectly-cast Armie Hammer and a scene-stealing Michael Stuhlbarg), and a powerful ending. He gave it three stars and said it was worth the hype, and in his 2018 Academy Awards preview, he pegged its writer James Ivory to win Best Adapted Screenplay (which proved correct).
  • Call of Duty (the film adaptation): Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he discussed it in the In Bob We Trust episode "Bob Fixes the Movies", a discussion of four Troubled Productions that were going on at the time. He thinks that a Call of Duty cinematic universe is a bad idea that's about five years out of date, but he still thinks it can possibly work. However, instead of trying to adapt the stories of the games (which are little more than Excuse Plots anyway), he instead recommends trying to adapt the gameplay, making a war movie that's done entirely in first-person and puts audiences right into the heart of war.
  • Cannibal Ferox: “Just about everything going on is in the worst possible taste, but I can’t say it isn’t effective.” Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Test Your Might,” a discussion of “extreme” movies.
  • Cannibal Holocaust: Has only seen it once, and refuses to watch it again or to recommend it (even to fans of graphic horror/grindhouse films) due to its depictions of real wild animals getting brutally slaughtered. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial editorial “Test Your Might,” a discussion of “extreme” movies.
  • Captain America (1979): Jointly with its sequel, Captain America II: Death Too Soon, it's the worst Marvel Comics-based Made-for-TV Movie of the late 1970s and early '80s. If it never got mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000, he would understand why, since he doesn't want the Un-Canceled show to chase contemporary trends for the sake of same. Didn't review it, but in the In Bob We Trust episode "Keep Circulating the Tapes" (a list of ten movies he'd most like to see riffed on a hypothetical twelfth season of MST3K), he named it at number nine.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: He loved it. Video description was “Pretty much perfect in every way!” In the video itself, he elaborates “… it’s basically perfect, at least to the degree that it’s the most perfect Captain America movie I can conceive anyone having made.” It showed confidence in its material, and he found the Red Skull to be a great villain and Chris Evans’ take on Cap to be one of the best ‘good-guy’ superheroes in movies since Christopher Reeve’s Superman. At the end of 2011, he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year, and in the Big Picture episode “Ranking the Marvel Movies,” he named it his third-favorite Marvel movie.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: An Even Better Sequel, and possibly the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie but The Avengers (2012). Its brilliance is in dropping Captain America, the closest thing the MCU has to a paragon of moral righteousness, into a morally dark spy thriller and watching him upset the dynamic, the result being easily one of the most intelligent and thoughtful superhero films in a long while. Furthermore, not only is it great in terms of continuity with the rest of the series, it’s also a very good action movie on its own, up there with The Raid 2: Berandal as one of the best action films Bob’s seen all year. In the Big Picture episode “Ranking the Marvel Movies,” he named it his favorite Marvel movie, ahead of even The Avengers, and at the end of 2014 he named it one of his top ten movies of the year.
    • Captain America: Civil War: Calls it the best Marvel movie since The Avengers, and probably a better follow-up to that film than Age of Ultron was while also remaining an excellent Captain America film, such that he can’t decide if this or Winter Soldier is the better film. He notes how self-assured Marvel seems to feel at this point, comparing the film to a sweeps-week episode of a hit TV show in how it wheels out the big guns while remaining certain of more films to come. He admits it’s fueled by the Rule of Cool more than anything, but still manages to be a great film thanks to its great character work that helps elevate its superfluous plot. Steve Rogers and Tony Stark make for perfect foils for one another, and the whole supporting cast is afforded great moments of development, yet the film never loses sight of the fact that it is still Rogers’ story, all while deconstructing the audiences’ desire to see Marvel’s main heroes fight each other.note  At the end of 2016, he named it the ninth-best film of the year.
  • Captain Marvel (2019): invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019, not just for it being the first female-fronted film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but also for how it looks to be a major turning point for the story in setting up Avengers: Endgame. He also devoted a Big Picture episode to exploring the character's backstory, the rights issues that forced Marvel to keep the comics in production, how Carol Danvers became the defining version of the character, and what he saw as an asinine backlash against her and the movie driven largely by the most toxic elements of the fanbase — a backlash that he felt was mainly driven by fear that they were no longer the dominant force within superhero fandom.

    When he reviewed it, he called it "your basic Marvel origin movie, and one of the good ones", a very good action blockbuster that has most of the usual vices and virtues of Marvel movies. The pacing of the character drama, which he compared to a Sundance indie film, turned out to be a great fit for Brie Larson, with her and Samuel L. Jackson (not only de-aged with CG to his '90s self but also in his '90s action-comedy mode) having excellent chemistry together, and Lashana Lynch's Maria Rambeau wound up an Ensemble Dark Horse such that he found himself wishing she had more screen time. He also loved its twist on a major piece of Marvel mythology from the comics, finding it to be a bold and creative move and that, even if it didn't completely work, it was still more interesting than the obvious route they could have gone, and described The Reveal of who Annette Bening's character was as "god-tier trolling". The film's main stumbles came in the weak villains and in the World Building, most notably with the film ending on two action scenes that were excellent on their own merits but suffered in the context of the rest of the film. Overall, he gave it a 7 out of 10 and called it a film that he liked more as he thought about it, the mark of a good Marvel movie in his book.
  • Captain Phillips: Surprised and impressed that it didn’t go the obvious, sensationalized route and focus on the daring Navy SEAL rescue for which the real-life incident is most famous, as well as how it was “obsessively resistant to politics or symbolism” and refused to let them take over its story. Tom Hanks as the title character and unknown actor Barkhad Abdi as the pirates’ leader are excellent, their interplay coming off as both outmatched and equal, while director Paul Greengrass is one of the few people who Bob feels knows how to make the Jitter Cam style really work. It’s an easy shoe-in for award season. Reviewed it in the Intermission editorialCaptain Phillips—Sympathy for the Pirate,” and at the end of 2013 he named it one of his ten favorite films of the year.
  • Captive State: invoked Called it a mashup of District 9 and They Live that took itself far too seriously, digging into some big ideas with its "Iraq War in alien-occupied Chicago!" story but frequently held back by a Kudzu Plot and a twist that was telegraphed much too early. It wasted a pair of great lead actors in Ashton Sanders and John Goodman, frequently sidelining them for long stretches in order to focus on the plot of the resistance cell without meaningfully connecting their stories, such that, while the climatic sequence of the insurgent attack was the film's highlight on a technical level (he felt that it would've made for an excellent short film on its own), it fell flat within the context of the film as a whole. Between the passion that went into it, the little things it got right, and the fact that it was a rare mid-budget movie released in the blockbuster machine that was Hollywood in 2019, he really wanted to like this movie, but at the end of the day, he gave it just two stars and a recommendation only for those who already wanted to see it. He also opened the review with a tribute to the victims and survivors of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, which happened the day he published his review.
  • Captive Wild Woman: One of the least known parts of the Universal Horror cycle, it's slow and silly in the appropriate Mystery Science Theater 3000 way. It's not so famous because its plot hinges partly on what modern audiences would call Unfortunate Implications for the way it handled the racial ambiguity of its Mexican star, Acquanetta. Didn't review it, but in the In Bob We Trust episode "Keep Circulating the Tapes" (a list of ten movies he'd most like to see riffed on a hypothetical twelfth season of MST3K), he named it at number ten.
  • Carol: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2015 he named it his fifth-favorite movie of the year. He praised it as one of the first Oscar Bait films about LGBT rights that treats its protagonists as actual people, instead of using them as a vehicle for a story of doomed love designed to get modern audiences to feel good that they don’t live in the past. It’s simply a damn good period romance, only with two women as the lovers, and Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara both deliver great performances as said lovers.
  • Carrie (1976): One of the greatest horror movies ever made. Lurid and frequently campy as it was, it possessed an undeniable energy that makes it incredibly watchable, while Sissy Spacek’s performance in the title role is amazing. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his review of its remake.
    • The Rage: Carrie 2: “Huh. Never thought I’d be nostalgic for this huge steaming pile of crap.” Didn't review it, but he mentioned it at the end of his review of the remake of Carrie.
    • Carrie (2013): It was pretty much doomed from the start by comparisons to the original, and the fact that it’s largely a beat-for-beat remake of that film doesn’t help. It hews too close to its inspiration to come into its own as a new interpretation of the material. Bob was originally interested in it due to the involvement of Kimberly Peirce, a prominent female director noted for her fierce, unflinching style and someone who could have done interesting things with a premise so heavily rooted in metaphor over the puberty of a girl. Unfortunately, Peirce shows none of her usual style and the film moves far too quickly for its own good. Furthermore, Chloë Moretz is too charismatic for her Carrie to be convincing as a beaten-down loner, while the film’s attempts to make Margaret more sympathetic clash with the fact that she’s a psychotic villain. It at least looks good, but it’s otherwise a bore. You’re better off (re)watching the original. At the end of 2013, he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year.
  • Cars: While he agrees that it’s one of Pixar’s lesser films, with one-note characters and low stakes that are hard to get invested in, he feels that it’s not as terrible as most people make it out to be. As far as he's concerned, the reason why so many film geeks hate this film over comparable Pixar duds like Brave and The Good Dinosaur (even though he finds those films to be considerably worse than this) is because it’s about NASCAR, with all the cultural baggage that entails, rather than the geeky subject matter that Pixar films tend to embrace. He also explored its status as Pixar's Cash Cow Franchise, the movie whose merchandising essentially pays for all of their weightier, more experimental films. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his reviews of its sequels.
    • Cars 2: Despite being the first Pixar film to be a blatant cash grab, and Pixar not trying as hard this time, this was (due to the latter factor, ironically) a Surprisingly Improved Sequel. While failed attempts at sentimentality hindered the first film, the sequel simply forwent that and instead focused on being funny while sidelining Lightning McQueen, whom he considers bland, in favor of Mater.
    • Cars 3: It's shallow, but it succeeded as light entertainment by focusing on what works about the franchise, making a straight-faced sports movie that's easily the best film in the series. It returned to a popular thematic well for Pixar, namely that of older men fearing their obsolescence in the face of younger rivals, and without spoiling anything, it put a pretty nifty twist on that storyline. However, it was a bit too overstuffed with toyetic moments, the villain Jackson Storm was fairly one-dimensional, and most importantly, a lot of the Fridge Logic that's been building through these films came to a head here. Overall, he gave it two-and-a-half stars, giving it his mild recommendation even though he'd probably never watch it again.
  • Casa De Mi Padre: “One of the funniest damn things I’ve seen in years.” It manages somehow to mine astounding levels of hilarity out of just two real jokes — Will Ferrell playing a Mexican, and the cheesy production values of Latin American telenovelas — without ever coming off as offensive or insulting to the shows it’s parodying (or their fans). It’s also a film that could only have been made at the precise moment when telenovelas and Latino pop culture in general were just on the cusp of the American mainstream, not quite part of it but not quite obscure either. At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.
  • Cats (the film adaptation): Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019. "We’ve managed to put off having to suffer through a movie of this for 37 years, but now it’s finally upon us."
  • Central Intelligence: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of Set It Up, calling it the sort of not great, but "funny enough" mid-budget comedy that used to be Hollywood's bread and butter, elevated by Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart's comic chemistry.
  • Centurion: “Proof that making an action-oriented B-Movie doesn’t mean you also have to suck at it.”note 
  • Chappie: He called it “an ambitious, earnestly crafted film that’s also profoundly flawed,” being objectively a mess and unbelievably blunt with its metaphors and one-note villain. However, it still worked for him thanks to its energy and sincerity, with the titular Chappie winning him over (even though he admits he’ll likely be a Base-Breaking Character) and Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er giving surprisingly good performances for non-actors, even if the gag of them wearing their own merchandise and listening to their own music can get incredibly weird and silly. And while he feels that director Neill Blomkamp probably doesn’t have many real ideas that he didn’t already use in District 9, he’s still a very talented filmmaker on a technical level. At the end of 2015, he named it an honorable mention for the best films of the year.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Didn’t review it, but in his Alice in Wonderland review he said it was “Tim Burton’s worst movie. Easily.” Many years later, in the In Bob We Trust episode “Top 10 Worst Remakes Ever,” he ranked it at number one, calling it the nadir of Burton and Johnny Depp’s creative partnership in the ’00s. He doesn’t care that it’s Truer to the Text than Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, it gives an origin story for Willy Wonka that nobody wanted, and basing the character on Michael Jackson at the height of his “Wacko Jacko” years turns the film into an Unintentional Period Piece in the worst possible way given Jackson's death and subsequent reappraisal. It feels like a “conceptual art project” dedicated to making the most unlikable possible version of a beloved classic.
  • Child's Play: He looked back on the series upon the announcement of its seventh installment, Cult of Chucky. He describes it as having "grown from a one-joke premise ... to one of the horror genre's most sustainable brands, to a self-aware satire and back again", all while outliving its more famous Slasher Movie contemporaries without ever being rebooted. Charting the series' evolution, he sees it as mapping well to that of the horror genre as a whole over the years, from the tail end of the '80s slasher boom to the self-referential '90s and early '00s to the Darker and Edgier '10s.
    • Child's Play (the original film): invoked Calls it the best film in the original trilogy and one that still holds up today, mainly for the practical effects work and Brad Dourif's iconic vocal performance as Chucky, even if the third act is pretty blatant about ripping off the ending of The Terminator. He also describes how it began life as a more psychological horror story where, until the end, it was debatable whether the doll or the boy who owned him was the killer, only for it to be rewritten to have a more marketable slasher villain, with the main question being when the boy's parents were going to believe his story about a killer doll.
    • Child's Play 2: Pretty much a retread of the first film, only set in suburbia rather than urban Chicago. It's a classic case of Sequel Escalation of the sort that was common in the slasher franchises of the '80s and early '90s, with almost nothing new added to the story, but it's still a good film due to some fun kills and an over-the-top finale.
    • Child's Play 3: The point where the original trilogy ran out of gas, with a forgettable human cast, a finale that copies that of the second film to diminishing returns, and Chucky now a comedian first and a killer second. The only thing really notable about it is its connection to a real-life murder case in England that was dubiously claimed to have been inspired by it.
    • Bride of Chucky: A Win Back the Crowd installment that brought the franchise fully into The '90s with its visual style courtesy of Hong Kong director Ronny Yu, its goth affectations, a plot and sense of humor inspired by Natural Born Killers, and Jennifer Tilly's Tiffany making for a great Distaff Counterpart to Dourif's Chucky. While he prefers the original film, it's not hard for him to see why there are many fans who feel this to be the best in the franchise.
    • Seed of Chucky: Perhaps most notable for its campy, over-the-top showbiz plot, a sense of humor reminiscent of South Park's "jaded meta-snark", and its gender-fluid protagonist, the first time that LGBT themes really came up in the franchise despite its creator Don Mancini being gay. It's fairly dated nowadays, between its pop culture references and its Fair for Its Day handling of transsexuality, but it's fun to watch just for how bonkers it is.
    • Curse of Chucky: Essentially a Darker and Edgier "back to basics" story of the sort that many horror franchises got in The New '10s, albeit one that (in a great bit of fanservice) remains in full continuity with the older films rather than rebooting the franchise. It did its job of making Chucky scary again, and left Bob excited to see what the future holds for the series.
    • Child's Play (2019): Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019. It's unrelated to the still-ongoing film franchise (which Mancini is turning into a TV series), and feels like little more than a cash-in on the part of the studio, especially with Chucky's origin now being a "smart" toy that goes haywire rather than a doll possessed by a Serial Killer's ghost.
  • Chloe: If watching Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore having hot lesbian sex is your idea of a good time, then you’re probably already in line to see this, and you won’t be disappointed. Bob compared it to Mulholland Dr. as inappropriately-purchased art films go. Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it during his Hot Tub Time Machine review.
  • A Christmas Carol (2009): Hyper-literal adaptation + wacky slapstick and 3D antics = confused and unsatisfied Bob.
  • A Christmas Story: Devoted a special Christmas episode of Really That Good to discussing and analyzing the film. Bob describes it as a film that’s better known through Pop Culture Osmosis than anything thanks to it serving as basically “background noise” on TV around Christmas, arguing that it’s the sort of film where, while most people who have seen it can probably name all its iconic sequences, fewer can list them in chronological order. He feels that the reason it resonates with so many people then and now is because of its smallness, telling a very personal story about the minutiae of its characters lives without trying to frame them as part of a ‘bigger picture’ in some sort of morality play, while also giving its characters several degrees of nuance beyond just the stereotypes associated with their roles. It’s nostalgic for its early-1940s setting, but it’s honest about it rather than letting the Nostalgia Filter paint a rose-tinted portrait of the era, mining humor from the annoying elements of both the era and the holiday season that allows it to engage in earnest sentimentality without tasting like diabetes like so many other Christmas films and specials from the time. Speaking of the period, he also notes how the shadow of The Great Depression (which was just ending at the time) hangs over much of the film, with the Parkers’ Christmas celebration probably being the first time in at least a decade that they could afford and enjoy this sort of old-fashioned holiday.

    Going deeper, he also looks at Ralphie, whose older self serves as the film’s narrator. He calls the film’s use of first-person narration one of the rare times when it’s worked well and served the film, enhancing Ralphie’s job as the Audience Surrogate in the film and lending subtext to many scenes that the characters alone couldn’t provide. This subtext indicates that the events of the film marked a major turning point in Ralphie’s life, turning the film into a Coming-of-Age Story (represented by him receiving a BB rifle for Christmas, a key sign of him growing from a boy to a man given the context of the ’40s). Furthermore, going back to the era, Bob notes how it’s strongly implied that the film takes place in 1940, and that this Christmas is the last one before Pearl Harbor. This makes Ralphie’s nostalgia for the “good old days” that much more poignant, as it’s the last Christmas he celebrated before the war turned America, and his life, upside down. In the end, for all the Unfortunate Implications of the Peking Duck Christmas carol scene (which he felt could have been removed entirely had they just dropped the Asian Speekee Engrish joke that ruined an otherwise charming moment), as well as the Values Dissonance of the Red Ryder BB gun being the central MacGuffin of the film considering America’s shifting stance on gun culture, it’s still a classic Christmas movie, one that Bob compares to It's a Wonderful Life as one of the greatest of all time.
  • Christopher Robin: invoked "Your kids are really gonna dig it. Just, uh, you know, tell them the theater gets really dusty at the adult eye level. Yeah." As a many-years-later sequel to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, it was one of those family films that hits harder for adult viewers than it does for their kids, who can have fun with it while the heavier plot elements fly over their heads and sock their parents right in the gut; he compared it to Hook in that respect. Said plot elements were fairly predictable and on-the-nose, and he got the sense that they were heavily sanded down from a more esoteric original script, but they still played very well in practice thanks to the film's unapologetic earnestness and warm, inviting visuals contrasted with the initial dreariness of the title character's adult life, pairing kid-friendly shenanigans with a very easygoing tone that was committed to Character Development. Pair that with a great cast (especially Jim Cummings returning as Pooh), and he found it to be "a low-key, deep-impact winner" that earned three-and-a-half stars as a warm, friendly contrast to the bombast of other family films that summer.
  • Chronicle: It didn’t really need to be a found footage movie, and it doesn’t take many narrative risks, but otherwise it’s far better than its February release date suggests. Bob calls it “X-Men for a post-Columbine world” with its combination of Teen Drama and superhero action, and it comes with a third act that stands as one of the best action sequences he’s seen, both for inventiveness and for emotional investment. He thinks that director Josh Trank will be getting a lot of offers to make big-budget superhero movies after this.note 
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: A reasonably good fantasy movie, though not as good as the last two entries, mainly because the book it’s based on wasn’t exactly the Hollywood-ready blockbuster adventure that the films thus far (including this one) have been. He spends much of his review discussing the giant elephant in the room that comes up in nearly every discussion of Narnia — specifically, C. S. Lewis’ religious beliefs and the way that they are presented in the books.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick franchise:
    • Pitch Black: Called it a decent riff on Aliens that likely would have been forgotten if not for the fact that it starred Vin Diesel just before he became the Next Big Action Star thanks to The Fast and the Furious. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his review of Riddick, along with its sequel …
    • The Chronicles of Riddick: Talked less about the film itself and more about how the film reflected Vin Diesel’s surprisingly geeky interests for an Action Hero.
    • Riddick: Pretty much a remake of Pitch Black in all but name, which isn’t all that bad, all things considered. The first act is by far the best thing in any of the films, and it works best when it’s focusing on Riddick himself (despite Diesel’s limited range as an actor). However, when the bounty hunters show up it turns into a subpar Aliens/Predator clone, with only David Bautista and Katee Sackhoff doing much to liven up the proceedings — and even then, the subplot surrounding Sackhoff’s character being a lesbian is handled in an extremely tasteless manner.
  • Cinderella (2015): Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2015 he named it an honorable mention for the best films of the year.
  • The Circle (2017): It's an inadvertently self-parodic techno-thriller whose attempts at social commentary earned comparisons to a pair of bad Michael Crichton novels, Rising Sun for a portrayal of its high-tech corporate villains (in this case, Silicon Valley instead of the Japanese) that it doesn't realize is utterly cartoonish, and State of Fear for its utter stupidity. Given the many dark sides of the real-life American tech industry, Bob thought it completely squandered all that potential in favor of showing an all-encompassing generic tech company ("Facebook if it was organized like Google and run by Steve Jobs"), such that he predicted it would eventually become a camp classic among tech workers. Even worse, without spoiling anything, it cast its protagonist's attempts to rise above her dead-end Flyover Country roots in just about the worst light possible. He admits Emma Watson gave a fine lead performance given the material, her imperfect American accent notwithstanding, but it wasn't enough to save the film overall from getting one star and recognition as his ninth-least favorite movie of 2017, calling it "the kind of bad movie that can only only be made by talented people" giving their all to total nonsense.
  • City Hunter: Devoted an episode of Good Enough Movies to it. He noted how it was a loose adaptation of an anime/manga property that had a big following in Hong Kong, and how Jackie Chan regards it as something of an Old Shame. Despite being called City Hunter, it is more accurately described as "Die Hard on a cruise ship," but its great stunt work and action scenes, and remarkably good acting for such a ridiculous plot, help it overcome its case of Mood Whiplash and the Values Dissonance of some homophobic comedy that really shows its age. The film's Signature Scene of several characters reenacting characters and moves from Street Fighter II is rightly regarded as such (and is actually even funnier in context as the rest of the film has absolutely nothing to do with the game), and it's a good snapshot of what Hong Kong audiences in 1993 wanted from their own blockbusters (in contrast with Chan's and John Woo's more famous early films, which were so because they strove for greater global appeal).
  • Clash of the Titans (the 2010 remake): Discussed both the original and the remake in his review of the latter. He felt that both films were So Okay, It's Average, though the original is slightly better chiefly due to its great monster effects, describing the remake as "a C-plus remake of a B-minus film." Both films have cool action and effects, but the original’s cheesy human drama and the remake’s total lack of same keep them from joining the upper ranks of their respective eras’ great blockbusters. The remake’s Rage Against the Heavens plot, however, did solve the Deus ex Machina problem often faced by adaptations of Classical Mythology. His opinion on it seems to have soured since then, as during the In Bob We Trust episode “Top 10 Worst Remakes Ever,” he put it at number eight, saying it “wasn’t good at all.”
    • Wrath of the Titans (sequel to the remake): Slightly better than the last film, but not by much, with the Jitter Cam ruining several of the action scenes and meshing poorly with the film’s ancient Greek setting. He also notes how the Clash remake was one of those blockbusters that made a ton of money but was quickly forgotten, and gushes about how awesome The Raid: Redemption was and how much Mirror, Mirror sucked.
  • Cloud Atlas: One of the best films of 2012. The fact that such an audacious and unconventional project was made at all was impressive enough, but the fact that it was made as a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster that worked is miraculous. However, that’s about as much as he can say without potentially ruining the experience (though if you’ve read anything about it, there’s nothing new he’s going to spoil), so he recommended those who might be interested in the film to go to see it before watching his review.

    The makeup on the actors to let them play characters of different races and genders in different time periods, while remaining recognizable and without being offensive (which he discussed further in the Big Picture episode “Skin Deeper”), deserves an Oscar. The film’s editing, telling six separate stories of different genres and bringing them together into a cohesive whole, is equally amazing. The directors (all three of them) deliver some of the best work of their careers, making a visually stunning film with great performances from everyone involved. Bottom line: its structure means it’ll be very much a divisive film, but either way, you should see it just so, at the very least, you have something amazing to talk about at the watercooler. At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Said it was a “really great little movie,” a highly imaginative parody of disaster movies that caught people by surprise because it wasn’t made by Pixar (back when that studio was still seen as untouchable) and thus didn’t have a lot of hype surrounding it. He compared it to Ghostbusters, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Back to the Future, and Evolution as great sci-fi family comedies go. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his review of its sequel …
    • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2: Not as good as the original, lacking its more mature wit and heart in favor of a broader parody of Apple and modern tech culture that doesn’t quite click. That said, it’s still a very engrossing film on a purely visual level, and quite funny on top of it. It’s a good sequel that doesn’t live up to its great predecessor, but if you have kids, it’s still worth your time.
  • Cloverfield: Didn’t review it, but in the Big Picture episode “Mystery Bonks,” he cited it as an example of J. J. Abrams’ skill at Viral Marketing, turning an otherwise straightforward found-footage kaiju film into a great big mystery.
  • Coco: "Well, this was just delightful!" It was a fairly humble and familiar movie by Pixar standards in terms of its ambitions, but it pulled off those ambitions so perfectly that he honestly couldn't find much to discuss about it. It had great characters, gorgeous visuals, a voice cast at the top of their game, and plot twists that won't surprise any grown-ups watching, but will still be a treat for both the kids and anybody who just wants to enjoy a good story. The film's use of its Mexican setting and culture as the backdrop made all the difference, not only bringing some welcome diversity to the Pixar lineup but also adding extra punch to the story by weaving it around the rules and traditions of the real-life Día de los Muertos holiday. It was just as refreshing for him to see a modern Western animated film that didn't feel Merchandise-Driven, with none of the supporting characters coming across as an obvious ploy to sell toys like the Minions. He gave it three-and-a-half stars and called it Pixar's best film since Inside Out, one that may fly under some people's radars now given Disney's love of franchises but is likely to build its following over the years. In his 2018 Academy Awards preview, he pegged it (correctly) as a shoo-in for Best Animated Film.
  • Colossal: He gave it four stars and called it "fucking awesome" and "one of the coolest things anyone has ever done with a monster movie", saying it would probably make his top ten list at the end of 2017 (he did, in fact, name it his third-favorite movie of the year) and that people should go out and see it right away. However, he couldn't go into more detail as to why without spoiling it. Without giving anything away, the manner in which it managed to meld its two concurrent, and seemingly irreconcilable, plots was genius and managed to avoid the trap of turning into "smarmy hipster genre parody", while Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis delivered phenomenal performances as two very messed-up individuals. It's also a superb commentary on abuse, self-hatred, addiction, depression, and transcending all that pain, such that he called it "possibly the most uplifting and life-affirming movie of the year."
  • The Commuter: It's about the best one can expect from a January action movieinvoked starring Liam Neeson: predictably plotted but well-directed and acted. While the biggest action set pieces at the end of the movie are far more contrived than necessary, that doesn't stop the movie's momentum. It does its job, and while he admitted that of Neeson's collaborations with director Jaume Collet-Serra (another solid professional who specializes in making better-than-average B-grade genre movies, though he does wish they would make truly good films), he enjoyed Run All Night and Non-Stop more, he gave it two and a half stars.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982): Still holds up today, and remains John Milius’ best movie. Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it in his Fright Night (2011) review, along with its remake …
  • Conan the Barbarian (2011): “By Krom, is this piece of shit awful.” Later, in the In Bob We Trust episode “Top 10 Worst Remakes Ever,” he listed it at number ten, calling star Jason Momoa “one of that rare breed of non-actor who’s incapable of turning charisma into screen presence” and saying that, given its otherwise good supporting cast, they shouldn’t have screwed it up this badly.
  • The Conjuring Universe:
    • The Conjuring: “[This movie] got an R rating from the MPAA. It was shot to be PG-13. No nudity. Limited blood. But was still given an R. For being ‘too scary.’ Doesn’t really need much more review than that.” It’s one of the best haunted house movies in years, elevated by the care that went into making it. Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it at the end of his review of Red 2, and in the Big Picture episode “Summer’s End” he called it one of his top ten movies of summer 2013.
    • Annabelle: On the other hand, its 2014 spinoff/prequel made his list of the worst films of 2014. (He didn’t review this, either.) He thought the Annabelle doll was one of the original movie's least interesting aspects, and giving it its own film went about as badly as he expected. Even if you grade it on a curve to account for the fact that it's a cheap cash-in sequel, it's still terrible.
    • Annabelle: Creation: Before he reviewed it, he named it #9 on his list of ten 2017 films that he most expected to suck. He had no hope for it being good because it was a follow-up to an awful movie that still made money because of its low budget (thus guaranteeing a sequel). However, when it came time to review it, he wondered, "Where did this go right?" as it defied his (admittedly low) expectations. Despite every indication that the film would be an absolute disaster, packed as it was with every trend in modern Hollywood filmmaking that he was sick to death of by that point, it still managed to be a good movie, giving him hope that the attempt to make a Modular Franchise out of The Conjuring might not be a bad move after all. The characters were all compelling and well-developed, making most of them young children excused most of the Too Dumb to Live moments, the plot offered some neat twists and turns, and the rest of the film focused less on the titular doll itself (one of Annabelle's many mistakes) than on using it as a conduit for spooky horror movie mayhem. Overall, it got three stars and a recommendation, with Bob saying that it's not a great movie but it is still a scary one that's worth a night out.
    • The Nun: invokedWhile The Conjuring is a Tough Act to Follow, this film managed to turn out pretty good, even if Annabelle: Creation remained the best Conjuring spinoff. It had a great, atmospheric setting, a largely standalone story where the connections to the Conjuring franchise (especially to Ed and Lorraine Warren, whom Bob considers a pair of hucksters) existed only in the fluff, and strong, stylish direction from Corin Hardy, enough to make up for a Cliché Storm Excuse Plot and the distracting casting choice of Taissa Farmiga (seemingly designed to create comparisons to Lorraine, played by Taissa's sister Vera in the mainline Conjuring films, that are never paid off). He gave it two-and-a-half stars and gave it a light recommendation as goofy horror fun.
    • The Curse Of La Llorona: invokedThe La Llorona legend was an appropriate addition to the Conjuring universe, but the film utterly botched the execution. It tried to remove as much of the legend's Mexican roots as possible to the point of coming off as xenophobic, which was baffling given how this film was seemingly marketed to Latinx moviegoers and led to a major missed opportunity to explore additional subtext concerning immigrants' relationships with their countries of origin. The titular ghost, meanwhile, was the Conjuring universe's most boring and generic villain yet, with little going for her beyond jump scares while her powers and motifs were ill-defined and seemed to change as the film saw fit. He gave it half a star and ended the review by asking viewers not to see one of these Conjuring spinoffs for a change.
  • Constantine: "To hell with The Passion, THIS is my kinda ultra-violent Catholicism movie!" Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. As someone who's admittedly never really followed the Hellblazer comic it's based on, he loved it, starting from its badass take on a Hollywood Exorcism, and he especially loved seeing all the stuff he learned in Catholic school used in an action film for a change as opposed to a horror movie. It's all incredibly silly, but he gave it 8 out of 10 simply because it worked for him on a primal level.
  • Cosmopolis: Runs a bit too long, but Robert Pattinson’s cold emptiness makes him perfect for the role, and it’s one of those films that simply washes over you. Very good. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it at the beginning of his Lawless review.
  • Cowboys & Aliens: Called it “dull and lifeless,” two adjectives that he felt should not apply to a movie with such a premise. He felt that the characters were little more than Western movie caricatures, and that it could have gone far deeper with the historical irony of people in The Wild West being exterminated and driven from their land by a foreign, technologically-superior invader — especially given that Native American characters featured into the plot. He ended the review by telling viewers to seek out Attack the Block, another just-released Alien Invasion movie, instead.
  • Crazy Rich Asians: Before he reviewed it, he named it his fourth most anticipated film of 2018. On top of getting the chance to see some great Asian actors show off in the sorts of leading roles that they don't usually get in Hollywood, he just thought that the plot sounded like a lot of soapy, campy fun. He ultimately had a great time with it and gave it three stars, calling it a well-made Romantic Comedy that put a fresh spin on a timeworn Fish out of Water tale, "a gender-swapped, class-conscious culture-shock take on the Meet the Parents formula." While the male lead was something of a Satellite Love Interest and the film didn't really live up to the "crazy" part of the title, its dramatic core, the interaction and tension between Constance Wu and Michelle Yeoh's characters, was handled perfectly, as was the comedy, particularly Awkwafina as the heroine's best friend and Plucky Comic Relief.
  • Crimewave (aka The X, Y, Z Murders): Compared it to Sin City, only without the Unfortunate Implications of Frank Miller’s writing. Bob also mentioned how The Coen Brothers wrote the film and how Sam Raimi hoped to use it to break out of his post-Evil Dead Typecasting as a splatter film director. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Sam the Man—Part I,” a retrospective of Raimi’s career.
  • Crimson Peak: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2015 he named it his ninth-favorite movie of the year. It’s anchored by two great performances by Tom Hiddleston breaking out of his Marvel Typecasting and Jessica Chastain playing a great Large Ham villain, as well as a visually arresting style and a sleazy, lurid story that fires on all cylinders, producing what he calls “one of the most original and energetic experiences of the year.” He feels that it, along with many of Guillermo del Toro’s other films, is going to grow into a Cult Classic in the years to come.
  • Crimson Tide: Called it “a stone-cold pop-drama masterpiece” and Tony Scott’s best film. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Remembering Tony Scott—Part 1,” a retrospective of the late Tony Scott’s career.
  • A Cure for Wellness: "It's disgusting. I liked it." This was very much a polarizing movie, with Bob estimating that half the people who see it will probably demand a refund and nominate it for the worst film of the year, and the other half will fall in love with its "perversely fascinating nightmare imagery". Either way, this is a film that will get a reaction out of you, for better or worse, not unlike The Neon Demon on a much larger scale (he admits, however, that his bare-bones description of the film's premise may make it sound more like Shutter Island). Like many Gore Verbinski movies, it's incredibly bloated and self-indulgent and doesn't really work from start to finish, but the depraved extremes that it plumbs make up for its technical narrative faults, Fridge Logic, and falling prey to the problem common to its subgenre of how the eventual ending explanation "deflat[es] all the preceding weirdness". He gives it three stars and an enthusiastic recommendation as a bold, original Gothic Horror flick of the kind you'd think would be impossible to make in twenty-first-century Hollywood.
  • Cursed: "Moviebob to Universe: You can please stop with all of the you-asked-for-it ironic/karmic signs already, we get the idea. The '90s are over." Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger, calling it a relic of a bygone age of postmodern teen horror that he never liked even at its height in the '90s, much less by 2005. It held promise with a solid cast, a good director in Wes Craven, and FX work by Rick Baker, but it squanders it all with an incredibly predictable plot, cardboard-cutout characters, Conspicuous CG for the werewolves, a lack of gore to meet a PG-13 rating (and then sell an unrated edition on DVD), and the marks of its Troubled Production all over the place, with the only worthwhile element being Milo Ventimiglia as an Armoured Closet Gay Jerk Jock. Even Baker's practical effects, while solid, feel phoned in. He gives it a 3 out of 10, calls it the sort of movie that's likely to make many film geeks' lists of the worst horror films ever made for years to come, and tells readers to go watch Ginger Snaps instead.
  • Cutey Honey (the Live-Action Adaptation): Devoted the Big Picture episode “Real Cutie” to it. He finds it to be one of the best attempts at translating the style of anime to a live-action film, even if it’s extraordinarily absurd and looks totally ridiculous as such. He also discusses the influence of Go Nagai, the creator of the original manga and anime, on the Japanese animation industry, particularly on the Super Robot Genre with Mazinger Z and on more ‘adult’ works with the original Cutie Honey manga.

    D 
  • The Darjeeling Limited: Didn't review it, but he brought it up in his review of Isle of Dogs (as "that one on the train in India") when discussing the accusations of cultural appropriation that have been leveled at Wes Anderson. He referred to it as Anderson's weakest film, one that was "indefensibly unfortunate in hindsight" and probably the film where the criticism of Anderson on that front probably carries the most weight.
  • Darkest Hour: Didn't review it, but in his 2018 Academy Awards preview he predicted (correctly) that Gary Oldman would win Best Actor for his role in this film. While he thought the movie was kind of cheesy, the makeup work to turn Oldman into Winston Churchill was spectacular, and by then, he'd gone so long without an Oscar that the Academy might have felt that it owed him one, if only as a Consolation Award for years of Award Snubs.
  • The Darkest Hour: Spent the opening of his Final Destination 5 review mocking its premise, saying that he didn’t know whether to be offended or impressed by the fact that "somebody pitched, greenlit and produced an entire movie of guys shooting guns at, running away from, and getting grabbed up by nothing."
  • The Dark Knight: Enthusiastically positive, to a point where he compared most movies to it for a few years. At the time, he counted it as one of the three greatest superhero movies ever made, the others being Superman: The Movie and Spider-Man 2, and while his opinion on it has slightly diminished since then, he still finds it to be an excellent film. Flaws that would have crippled lesser films (Christian Bale’s gravelly Batman voice, a wobbly third act, one of the worst-looking Batman suits ever) became only minor quibbles due to how amazing the rest of the movie is. Later, however, in the blog post “The Dark Knight Fades,” he noted how the film’s place in the popular consciousness as a genre-defining classic, which pretty much everybody at the time felt was assured, never really came to be. He feels that its smash success and transformation from a mere blockbuster into an ‘event’ arguably had as much to do with a perfect storm of great hype (from a well-respected preceding film to a series of great trailers to Heath Ledger’s death) as it did with its own merits as a film.
    • The Dark Knight Rises: “Disappointing, but not crushingly so.” It’s a good movie, but far from a fitting sendoff for Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Bane’s not a particularly interesting villain (though he’s certainly unique), and its presentation of its themes feels Anvilicious and suffers from the problem of telling rather than showing, but its biggest problems lie with its messy story structure. It feels like two movies welded together, with the shift at the halfway point making the first hour of the movie feel like a waste of time, and it possesses several major plot holes and poorly-thought-out plot twists (which he discussed in the following week’s Intermission editorial “Knightfail”).

      On the other hand, the score is excellent, Nolan’s wizardry behind the camera keeps the film looking great, and Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are standouts in an All-Star Cast that is rock-solid all around. Given the massive buildup in terms of both the previous films and the hype train for this one, it should have been awesome, and falls well short of that goal. Still, it earns Bob’s recommendation. Three weeks later, he did a Big Picture episode, “Holy Spoilers, Batman!”, that took a spoiler-filled look at the various plot twists in the film, and how it drew far more influence from the Batman comics than the past two films.
  • Darkman: The best of the films to come out of the early-’90s pulp hero boom in the wake of Tim Burton’s Batman. Bob also discusses how it emerged from Sam Raimi’s failed attempts to make a film adaptation of The Shadow, and how it drew as much from Universal Horror as from its pulpy inspiration. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Sam the Man—Part I,” a retrospective of Raimi’s career.
  • Dark Shadows: It’s far from Tim Burton’s return to form, but it’s far better than his last couple of movies. Despite being a structural mess, the film still somehow works thanks to how game the cast (particularly Johnny Depp) is for the material.
  • The Dark Tower (2017): "Ughhhhhh ... so, it's, uh, it's already August." Bob called it "an inscrutably unique disaster," comparing it to The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones in terms of botched Urban Fantasy adaptations, trying (and failing) to compress the vast mythology of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series into a 95-minute movie. The production values felt cheap and by-the-numbers, the plot was a Cliché Storm that did nothing with the source material, the world-building was more about sequel-baiting than anything, and while Idris Elba was well-cast as the protagonist, Matthew McConaughey seemed lost as the villain, while the Kid Hero was more annoying than anything. It went by quickly enough that it didn't get tedious, but overall, it wasn't even the fun kind of bad, with Bob giving it one star, bemoaning its wasted potential, and naming it his fourth-least favorite film of 2017.
  • Dave Made a Maze: The eponymous Bigger on the Inside maze is a rather obvious metaphor for artists' self-involvement, and it doesn't explore it as deeply as it could have, but it's executed well with great effects and solid acting, making for a fun grown-up (or at least hipster Manchild) take on The Goonies. Like many modern independent comedies, it's more concerned with being quietly likable than gut-bustingly hilarious, and the Magic Realism and elements of outright horror, as well as the presence of a indie filmmaker character who, refreshingly, isn't as obnoxious as such movie characters are, buttress it as such. It struck him as the result of a retool of an abandoned pitch for a Community feature film. He gave it three stars, and recommended it as a high-concept indie movie that doesn't wear out its welcome.
  • Daybreakers: Absolutely loved it. He opened his review throwing professionalism to the wind and simply gushing about the film, comparing it to “Godzilla vs. Voltron” in terms of awesomeness. It’s one of the most violent, blood-soaked, and straight-up hardcore vampire movies in years; he dubbed it the “anti-Twilight” in terms of how it stuck to the “traditional” vampire rules and genre tropes while also exploring them. Furthermore, it’s also a very intelligent and funny sci-fi/horror flick that he compared to RoboCop and District 9 as such, using vampires as a commentary on peak oil, building a very fleshed-out world that many TV shows take a whole season to create, and moving at an excellent pace with great characters. Years later, he recommended it in the Intermission editorial “Don’t Watch Dis-Topia, Watch Dat-Topia,” a discussion of five dystopian films he felt were better than The Giver (which he reviewed that week).
  • Days of Thunder: Pretty much Top Gun with cars, though that’s not bad, as director Tony Scott and star Tom Cruise make a very intense and interesting, if melodramatic, film. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Remembering Tony Scott—Part 1,” a retrospective of the late Scott’s career.
  • DC Extended Universe: Bob likes the characters from the source material well enough, but he's not a fan of these movies by any stretch. He'll gladly praise aspects of it that work — the better ideas from Batman v Superman and Wonder Woman (2017) as a whole, for instance — but besides that he has little more than contempt for its unlikeable reimaginings of the heroes in its movies, the poor choice of storylines to adapt, the blatant and glaringly poor special effects, the invokedcrummy casting choices and especially invokedthe behind-the-scenes agendas being pushed. Especially contemptible in his view is that Warner Bros. are seemingly trying to play catch-up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe without understanding why it works so well, rushing to their own prize fight and team-up events without taking the time to engage with and develop the individual main characters within their own continuity. As a fan of the heroes and villains being adapted, he wishes they were better and doesn't like doing negative reviews of them, but he can't pretend it's okay if it's not.
  • Dead Heat: Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Big Picture “Schlocktober” special for 2013. It’s cheesy and has a Kudzu Plot, but it’s Crazy Awesome personified, largely due to the gore and the presence of SNL vet Joe Piscopo as one of the leads. Bob also longs for the days before the current boom in zombie-related media when the few zombie films that did come out were more unique.
  • Dead Poets Society: While it’s inspired far too many wannabe-Cool Teacher movies, Bob finds that this holds up reasonably well, with Robin Williams proving his ability in a completely 'straight' role. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies,” a retrospective on the late Williams’ career.
  • Deadpool (2016): He doesn’t love Deadpool as a comic book character, in either his original, serious-yet-sarcastic form or his modern, totally-off-the-wall form, and finds that he works best mainly in small doses — and argues that this is why the movie worked as well as it did. Deadpool really isn’t in it all that much (large chunks of the film are flashbacks to Wade Wilson before he became Deadpool), and the film uses him sparingly, yet effectively, being just as willing to take the piss out of him as he is willing to take the piss out of everything around him. The whole cast is perfect, with Ryan Reynolds (for whom this is an eagerly-embraced penance for Green Lantern) as the Merc with the Mouth and Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead stealing the show, while Morena Baccarin also turns in an excellent performance as Wade’s wife and helps build the surprisingly heartfelt love story at the center of the film. He calls it a film that’s good fun, though not great, and in fact actively seeking to avoid greatness so that it can get away with more of its zany, raunchy humor. It’s practically tailor-made for adolescent boys who are just learning about how awesome!!! sex and violence are, but if you can enjoy a good, R-rated snark at modern superhero movies, you’ll probably enjoy this.
    • Deadpool 2: "If your delivery is good enough, I guess you can tell most of the same joke twice." While it's a more inconsistent film than the first one, Bob found it to be a funnier movie, largely because it was willing to be less affectionate and more pointed in its parody of the superhero genre. Bob's not a fan of Cable, feeling that he's a ridiculous, overly-grimdark-to-the-point-of-farce one-note character who never found a way to reinvent himself post-Dark Age of Comic Books like Deadpool did; however, he did like his portrayal in this movie by Josh Brolin, feeling the film made him work by writing him as a brutal send-up of the '90s Anti-Hero archetype who was also a compelling and fully-realised character unto himself, anchored by a solid performance by Brolin and good use of his traditional dynamic with Deadpool. Zazie Beetz' Domino was an Ensemble Dark Horse who served well as the utter antithesis to everything about Cable, and while he still wasn't fully sold on the sincerity of Deadpool's arc, he most definitely was sold on the story he was involved in about trying to stop a teenage boy from turning into a murderous Super Villain, calling it the sort of story that the main-series X-Men films ought to be telling instead of trying to copy The Avengers. That said, while the jokes were still hilarious, they often came at the expense of narrative cohesion, leading to a second act that felt overstuffed. Still, it was good enough to earn three stars and a recommendation for anybody who liked the first one, and even some of those who didn't.
    • Once Upon a Deadpool: He opened by saying that it "presents a unique set of challenges" to him as a film critic, given that strictly speaking, it's neither a new film nor an old one, but a re-edited, PG-13 cut of Deadpool 2 that adds a Framing Device involving Fred Savage while cutting all the violence and profanity. His ultimate takeaway from it was that it demonstrated just how well Deadpool's brand of humor, mixing '90s Anti-Hero action with cartoon logic and meta-parody of the superhero genre, still holds up even with all the R-rated content removed, illustrating why the character became so popular beyond just a small demographic of 'edgy' teenagers. That said, he felt that the re-edit could've gone further with its main joke of being both Censored for Comedy and parodying the standards for film censorship, and that it didn't bring much new to the table for those who'd already seen Deadpool 2. He gave it a 6 out of 10 as, basically, a self-aware TV edit of Deadpool 2, recommending it for hardcore fans as a curiosity and for those who'd already seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
  • Dead Snow: “The same director [as Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters] also did this movie, which is a lot better.” Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his review of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
  • Death to Smoochy: Didn’t really give his own thoughts on the film itself, but noted it was one of Robin Williams’ darkest roles ever. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies,” a retrospective on the late Williams’ career.
  • Death Wish (2018): Before he reviewed it, he named it his sixth least anticipated film of 2018. He thinks that Eli Roth's (considerable) filmmaking talents have never really translated well to this sort of action film, while Bruce Willis looked like he was sleepwalking through the trailer. Overall, it looked more like one of the crappy Death Wish sequels than anything, missing the deconstruction of the Vigilante Man concept present in the original film (and especially the original novel) in favor of the sort of Exploitation Film that the world could have done without in 2018. When it came time to review it, it was as bad as he expected, earning just half a star. Its message and politics were so shallow, and seemingly went so far out of their way to say anything meaningful, that its uncomfortable dog-whistles felt more like dishonest pandering than a sincere attempt to send a message, which the original film at least tried to do (however profoundly Bob disagreed with that message). Furthermore, Roth's direction was incoherent and seemed disinterested in the material, while Willis was "almost comically miscast" as Paul Kersey. The brutal kills (Roth's stock in trade) were the only times it showed signs of life, making him wish that the rest of the film had gone all-in on the "slasher superhero cleaning up the mean streets" setup that it promised.
  • Déjà Vu: Bob enjoyed this film, saying that it had a very cool sci-fi concept and one of the more inventive chase scenes that he’s seen, and that it was unfairly overlooked when it came out. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Remembering Tony Scott—Part 2,” a retrospective of the late Tony Scott’s career.
  • Demon Seed: Said it was the only good film adapted from a Dean Koontz book (as well as the weirdest), and laments that it got lost in the mid-’70s shuffle of Demonic Possession flicks and sci-fi movies. He also longs for the time in film history between The Twilight Zone and Star Wars when you could take a fantastic Speculative Fiction premise and play it with a completely straight face. Didn't review it for Escape to the Movies, but he covered it in his “Schlocktober” special for The Big Picture.
  • The Desperate Hours: The Trope Maker for the ‘home invasion’ genre that stands out due to its All-Star Cast and director. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Space Invaders.”
  • Destroyer: His review came out a month after he originally saw it and he gave it three stars. While its distributor's intention was clearly as Oscar Bait for Nicole Kidman (doing another case of Beauty Inversion), he also noted it could attract a big mainstream audience if they got to see it. The action is cathartic and realistic (as are the sets), Kidman's character is psychologically fascinating, and while he admitted the Twist Ending struck him as gimmicky more than anything when he saw it first, he warmed to it after some thought.
  • Detention: “… an awful poster, but the movie is kind of amazing. Not on your radar? Fix that.” It’s an entertaining meta take on The Breakfast Club that doesn’t fully succeed in its satire of teenage life, but Bob still enjoyed it immensely, finding it much smarter and more coherent than it appears on the surface. It also gets points for accurately reflecting contemporary high school life rather than feeling Two Decades Behind. If only it hadn’t had the misfortune of opening in limited release the same weekend that The Cabin in the Woods came out. He discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Kids Today,” then did a proper review of it two weeks later jointly with Lockout (it was a slow week).
  • Detroit: Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal took a big risk in shooting a movie about Police Brutality the way they would a war movie, but they pulled it off without descending into hoary cliches or Unfortunate Implications. That said, their detached, procedural tone can make the events feel too impersonal, lacking much in the way of humanity, character depth, or anything to say about the film's subject matter beyond presenting it as-is. As a result, it merely feels like the film is stating the obvious rather than making a meaningful statement about why all of this is bad. "It packs a punch, but it doesn't wound, it only bruises." Even so, the film soars on a technical level with great direction and acting, especially when it's presenting its grisly subject matter to the audience. He gave it two-and-a-half stars and said that, while there's little to it beyond its surface message, that message still stings thanks to excellent presentation.
  • Devil: “Devil should not be booed and maligned because of the tangential connection to M. Night Shyamalan. No, Devil should be booed and maligned on its own merits, because it’s awful.” Bob calls it one of the dumbest movies he’s ever seen in theaters, with an invokedIdiot Plot that makes no sense if you think about it for more than five seconds, as well as cheap scares and a total lack of suspense.
  • Dhoom 3: As the first Indian film he’d ever reviewed, Bob spent a lot of the review discussing the tropes of Bollywood cinema and how this film became the first Bollywood movie to be really successful in the American market. As for his thoughts on the film itself, its embrace of its cartoon logic and complete disregard of the rules of genre help to make its broad caricatures and ridiculous Black and White Morality a lot more bearable and even fun, and Aamir Khan is great as both an Action Hero and as a ‘serious’ actor. It was also interesting seeing Chicago being grossly misrepresented by foreign filmmakers the same way that Hollywood often fails to do much research on foreign cultures and locales. As active shortcomings go, meanwhile, the romantic subplots are on the shallow side and its portrayal of a mentally handicapped character runs into serious Unfortunate Implications. Overall, though, it’s a rather good, charming introduction to Bollywood cinema for American audiences, maintaining its unique charm while still feeling like a big blockbuster.
  • Die Hard: He’s discussed the series several times, including in the special Escape to the Movies episode “Musclepocalypse,” in his review of the fifth film A Good Day to Die Hard, and in an episode of Really That Good devoted to the first film. Concerning the series in general, he’s used the success and critical praise of the first three films to argue that nobody should see action movies as Critic-Proof, since professional film critics can tell a good action movie the same way they can tell a good movie in any genre. And since he knew people were going to ask, Bob ranks the first film as the best in the series, followed by the third, the second, the fourth, and finally, the fifth, regarding the first two sequels as decent and the latter two as godawful.
    • Die Hard (the original 1988 film): He calls it “the most influential action film of post-1970s Hollywood,” as nearly every American action film since has either been "Die Hard" on an X or a reaction to it. Nearly every character, from the leads to the lowliest henchmen, stood out and served as an interesting spin on what were then stock characters in these sorts of movies. Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber (his Star-Making Role, and deservedly so) was one of the greatest villains in action movie history, carrying a mountain of presence and conveying an aura of suspicion, evil, and something just slightly ‘off’ simply through his appearance and mannerisms (making the twist that Hans is "more ordinary than he seems" that much more fun and subversive). Bruce Willis, meanwhile, was very much an outside-the-box pick for John McClane because he was known as a schlubby comedy actor at the time, but that very fact made him work as the ‘anti-Action Hero,’ giving him an everyman, populist quality as a contrast to the musclebound Hollywood Action Hero archetype popular at the time — and paving the way for everyone from Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington, to Liam Neeson. The dialogue is insanely quotable and the direction turns what one would expect to be a bleak thriller about a hostage crisis into a fun action movie without lowering the real stakes at play, mainly by showing the audience everything that’s going on without showing that to the characters.

      Digging deeper, he also examined how the film came out of the Reagan years, and how John McClane’s all-American, blue-collar hero was a personification of a lot of the cultural cheerleading with which Reagan was identified. The film’s setting plays into this, with McClane feeling out-of-place in several ways: amidst the wealthy revelers, in Los Angeles around Christmas (a holiday associated popularly in America with snow and winter, two things that New York City cop McClane immediately notices L.A. lacks), and in Nakatomi Plaza, a symbol of Japanese corporate power at a time when people in the U.S. were fretting widely about that. His character, then, boils down to a very old-school, old-fashioned ‘cowboy’ hero coming in to save the ‘new’ America of the time from, basically, itself. This informs the movie’s only real flaw endogenous to itself: the very thin, retrograde, and ultimately boring characterization afforded to John’s wife Holly. Even so, he found Holly to mar only slightly what was otherwise a near-perfect action movie that delivers an astounding thrill ride. He has a couple of other minor complaints that aren't the movie's fault: (1) Al Powell's backstory is less sympathetic given America's changing stance on activist policing, and (2) invokedhe's fed up with people calling Die Hard their favourite Christmas movie, which he concedes may have soured some people's opinion of it.
    • A Good Day to Die Hard: He forgot most of the plot details almost as soon as he left the screening. The series has become a Franchise Zombieinvoked by this point, this film being easily the dumbest and least interesting in the series and a disgrace to its namesake. The action feels cheap, with little use of the Russian setting and the bad CGI looking jarring against the practical effects and stunt work, and John McClane feels more like a Terminator than the everyman hero that made the series so refreshing in the first place. Also, Jack McClane’s Calling the Old Man Out about John’s absence from his childhood rang very hollow to Bob given the events of the prior films. Overall, it barely rises to the level of being a worthwhile watch for Willis completists. At the end of 2013, he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year.
  • The Disaster Artist: He felt this to be only just good and exclusively for the hipsters who venerate The Room as a So Bad, It's Good anti-classic, and thinks that this film got so much buzz because that crowd is decidedly over-represented in modern film journalism and criticism. It's well-made and acted, with James Franco's Tommy Wiseau impression being the main reason to see it, even if it is "a really good Saturday Night Live impression" more than a three-dimensional characterization and a performance that he didn't feel was worthy of an Academy Award nomination like some critics had been saying. He couldn't call it great, however, because it just didn't comment in great detail on the nature of creativity, drive, the filmmaking process, following one's dreams, or even on Wiseau himself, even though it hints at so doing early on. He gave it two and a half stars and said that, as Movie-Making Mess stories go, this is much closer to Bowfinger than Ed Wood in terms of quality.
  • District 9: Next to Up, Bob said this was possibly the best movie of summer 2009, finding it to do everything the previous blockbusters of the season (most notably the Star Trek reboot) didn’t — namely, combining kick-ass action sequences with the sort of “big idea” sci-fi storylines at which the old Star Trek movies excelled. He was very grateful that Neill Blomkamp got to make this (a feature-length adaptation of his short Alive in Joburg) instead of a Halo movie.
  • Divergent: Hated it, saying that it made The Hunger Games (a series he didn’t like that much in the first place) look like high art. He found it to be formulaic to a fault, falling into the same trap as a lot of YA dystopian fiction in using its post-apocalyptic society as a ham-handed metaphor for high school cliquishness, and this film’s presentation of such is rife with Fridge Logic to boot. Reviewed it in the Intermission editorial “‘Divergent’? More Like ‘Why-Vergent,’” and at the end of 2014 he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year.
  • Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino’s “most grounded, unironically affecting, and human film since Jackie Brown.” Bob attributes this to the fact that its subject matter — the brutality of slavery in the pre-Civil War Southern US — needed no embellishment to come across as something out of an Exploitation Film, which, combined with the fact that the film seems to be singlehandedly making up for a century of films ignoring this history, provides it with a weighty sincerity. Jamie Foxx gives his best performance since Ray, Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a grotesque subversion of the cool, charismatic villains of many recent action films, and Christoph Waltz does a great, multilayered performance as Django’s mentor. He first discussed it in his Big Picture episode “Junk Drawer Rises,” and at the end of 2012 (three days before he published his review) he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.

    A couple of weeks later, Bob revisited the film in the Big Picture episode “Is Django Racist?” to discuss the controversy over the film’s copious use of the N-word. Not only does he feel that those complaining are Dramatically Missing the Point of the film, focusing on a superficial detail rather than broader themes, he also states that they are greatly underestimating Tarantino and taking his “hyperactive film geek” public persona at face value. The genius of this film is in how it takes The Wild West, one of the most self-mythologized periods of American history, and juxtaposes it with the contemporaneous slavery.
  • Doctor Mordrid: Until the Marvel Cinematic Universe came along, this was easily the best Doctor Strange movie anybody could have expected. Appropriately, Full Moon Features made this film in its usual, continuity-heavy style, and made it work despite having just lost the film rights to the official Doctor Strange. The only real problem with it was that it ended very abruptly, seemingly before it got to the third act, and he was surprised Full Moon didn’t milk Doctor Mordrid for all he was worth. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his In Bob We Trust “Schlocktober” special for 2016, a few days before he reviewed …
  • Doctor Strange (2016): Compared it to “looking at a blacklight poster on uppers: it’s pretty and you’re having a good time, but you’ve also got a nagging sense that maybe somebody brought the wrong drugs to the party.” It’s a quite good movie, though at this point, he expects no less from Marvel Studios. It perfectly captures the psychedelic feel that made the character a hippie icon in the ’60s and ’70s, between its outrageous special effects and its Eastern-inspired New Age elements, and for that alone, he gives it a firm recommendation. He just wishes that the rest of the film fell into that same ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ groove rather than conforming to the Marvel-action-movie template. While the fight scenes were incredibly inventive and stunning to watch, they also hurt the pacing and made it feel like the film was rushing through the world-building to get to the spectacle, in the process relegating Rachel McAdams’ character to a Satellite Love Interest and putting a spotlight on the Orientalism of the source material without doing much to subvert it. Overall, the film gets three stars for being a good movie that comes close to greatness but never quite makes it, though if this is what passes for mediocrity by Marvel’s high standards, then he’s not complaining.
  • A Dog's Way Home: invokedCalled it a textbook case of So Okay, It's Average, to the point where he felt uncomfortable reviewing it at length because of how little there was for him to talk about and because it wasn't really a film made for either him or his target audience. In fact, he wound up devoting a third of the review to its trailer alone, which had become something of a meme among film journalists and enthusiasts for how it looked almost like an unintentional parody of a sappy 'dog movie' that gave away everything about it up to and including the ending. It turned out, however, that the trailer wasn't entirely forthcoming about what the film was about; Bob described it as "a family-friendly, English-language remake of White God" in how it actually played out, particularly in its handling of prejudice against pit bull breeds. It wasn't a great movie, but he still found it fascinating as a time capsule of American society in the late 2010s, one that he gave a 6 out of 10 and a recommendation for anybody who's into these sorts of films.
  • Domino: One of those movies that many people consider to be either one of Tony Scott’s worst films or one of his best, with little in-between. Bob falls into the latter camp, calling it a “rough, nasty, punk rock fever dream of a movie,” calling special attention to the scene with Mo Nique’s mixed-race categories. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Remembering Tony Scott, Part 2,” a retrospective of the late Scott’s career.
  • Don't Breathe: “…[a] bright spot in an otherwise lackluster movie season.” It’s a damn good horror movie, with a great performance by Stephen Lang as the “evil Daredevil” villain and an excellent sense of claustrophobic tension. Even when the big twist removes the sense of moral ambiguity and casts one of the characters as the clear villain, it still serves the story as it becomes clear that much of the first act was about laying down the geography of the house for the second act. It starts to falter with its false endings and an additional twist that felt like it was just there to shock, but it’s not enough to kill a movie that Bob still gives three stars in the end.
  • Downsizing: "In case you were ever wondering what the word 'insufferable' would look like if adapted into a feature-length film." Despite a great cast, a director who he loved, and an interesting premise, this wound up one of the most disappointing films of 2017, earning one-and-a-half stars for squandering its cool setup on smug, heavy-handed satire and moralism that was written back in the 2000s and absolutely felt like it. Hong Chau's character especially was one of the low points, feeling like "an almost shockingly out-of-date stereotype" and wasting a talented actor in the process, and only Christoph Waltz's great performance provided much in the way of redeeming value, such that he found himself wishing that Waltz's character was the protagonist. His video review also contained a Running Gag where he was shrinking down to the size of the film's characters, the pitch of his voice getting ever higher in the process.
  • Dracula Untold: “A bad movie that could almost have gotten away with it.” He disliked the film, but he couldn’t bring himself to hate it, thanks to it having a certain level of pulpy B-Movie charm that, had the film been R-rated, might have redeemed it. Luke Evans is also an appealingly charismatic action hero, and the film’s Gothic medieval style, while not exactly original nor as well-done as other films, looked good up on screen. However, the film felt like it had been butchered in the editing room, as though the arcs of several supporting characters had been cut from it along with most of the lurid bloodshed and sexiness, and consequently, it never quite gets off the ground. Overall, he gave it two stars, recommending it as a pre-Halloween matinee but little else.
  • Drag Me to Hell: The best horror film in years, with Sam Raimi keeping on form by using his trademark tone (that of a horror/humor mix seen in carnival ghost trains) and his love of ’30s and ’40s film. Several years later, though, he came back to it in the Intermission editorial “Sam the Man—Part II” (a retrospective of Raimi’s career) to say that he might have overrated it a bit when it first came out.
  • Dragged Across Concrete: It was an S. Craig Zahler movie in every way, warts and all: a crime thriller plot blown up into an Epic Movie, smart dialogue and characters, a heaping helping of graphic grindhouse violence and Rated M for Manly bravado, and reactionary politics a la John Milius that were seemingly designed to court controversy. That said, the film felt strangely sanitized in those regards compared to his past indie efforts Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, as though his limitations as a filmmaker were starting to show. He gave it a 5 out of 10.
  • Dredd: “Pretty damn awesome. Go see it, it deserves it.” Didn’t review it because there was no showing for critics the first week, and when it was released later he was at the Escapist Expo, but he mentioned it in his reviews of Resident Evil: Retribution and The Master.
  • The Dressmaker: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2016 he named it his fifth-favorite film of the year. It’s a Genre-Busting, unpredictable, uniquely Australian, and yet still easy-to-love Black Comedy, anchored by a great Kate Winslet performance.
  • Drive: Great movie, with Bob calling it a better, arthouse version of The Transporter, and proof that so-called “guy movies” can be intelligent without sacrificing their coolness. However, he recommends seeing it “before it’s ruined by douchebags claiming Ryan Gosling as their new god.” He first mentioned it at the end of his Straw Dogs (2011) remake review, then did a proper review of it two weeks later (he felt that none of the movies that came out that week was worth his time), and at the end of 2011 he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.
  • Dumb and Dumber: One of the greatest comedies of the 1990s, with Jim Carrey giving one of his best and most unusual performances, and the Farrelly brothers proving themselves as comic talents in the making. It was as simplistic, silly, and stupid as its main characters, but it was still hilarious thanks to Carrey and Jeff Daniels’ great onscreen chemistry, as well as how it dispensed with all pretense, gimmicks, and High Concept and just made a straightforward ‘two idiots on a road trip’ movie. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “When Jim Carrey Ruled the World,” a retrospective of Carrey’s ’90s career, and in his review of its sequel …
    • Dumb and Dumber To: “The nostalgia flashback nobody needed, dull and lifeless and — yes — too dumb to enjoy.” It’s little more than a cash-in on the original’s continued popularity, a bland retelling of that film that does nothing to justify its existence. Most of those involved seems like they’re just doing it for the paycheck and holding back rather than going all-out like in the first film (except Rachel Melvin, the girl playing Harry’s daughter, who Bob thought gave a hilarious performance), and most of the jokes are either stolen from the original or are hopeless attempts to prove We're Still Relevant, Dammit! He gave it one and a half stars, telling people to stay home and watch the original and other ’90s Farrelly brothers comedies instead, and at the end of 2014 he named it one of his twenty least favorite movies of the year.
  • Dumbo: He referred to it as one of the installments in the Disney Animated Canon that doesn't quite hold up upon rewatching it, one where people more remember parts of it and the general idea of it than anything else. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of its live-action remake...
    • Dumbo (2019): Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019, saying that it looked like yet another cookie-cutter, late-period Tim Burton movie that would likely stain a Disney animated classic on top of it. When it came time to review it, he admired the audacity of the plot (which he called "Dumbo 2: BioShock") but found himself wishing that they remembered to make a good movie on top of it, finding the cinematography to be ugly and cluttered, the story to be incoherent and thinking that it was more interesting and had more going on than it actually did, and the progressive social and economic message (including a villain who could be read as a parody of the Disney corporation) to be deeply insincere. He gave it one-and-a-half stars and called it the worst of the Disney Live-Action Remakes.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The only redeeming factor is Jeremy Ironssupremely hammy performance as the Big Bad. The fact that its sequel, Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God,note  premiered on Syfy says all that needs to be said about this film’s quality. Didn’t review them, but he mentioned them in his discussion of Dungeons & Dragons adaptations.
  • Dunkirk: While some will likely clamor for this movie to pile up Oscars and complain ad nauseum if it doesn't, Bob didn't think it quite reached those lofty heights. Still, he gave it three stars, calling it "a perfectly solid military procedural drama" whose subject matter (a landmark moment in twentieth-century British military history) lends itself well to Christopher Nolan's style. What he thought made it work the most was the All-Star Cast, with special credit to Mark Rylance's performance as Dawson the yacht skipper, who near-singlehandedly made the film almost humanistic. That, and the paucity of dialogue in its action, helps compensate for the fact that it was rated PG-13 in America, which at times made him think it was "a little too bloodless and sterile to be fully immersive." Nevertheless, Nolan obviously lavished his abundant technical skill on this movie, and he recommends seeing it on the biggest screen available.

    E 
  • The Eagle (2011): Bob was “bored stupid” by it, to the point of snoozing off during the review. While it has nothing truly bad, it has nothing truly good either, with one-dimensional characters, bland action scenes, and a story that’s been done many times before and better. As for claims that professional critics like him are out of touch with the average moviegoer, having seen so many movies that they become jaded, he responds by saying that ‘it’s good if you don’t know any better’ shouldn’t be a mark in a film’s favor.
  • Early Man: Lamented the fact that the studio decided to open it against Black Panther, because he found it to be one of those movies that's inevitably going to be Vindicated by Netflix after bombing in its theatrical run. It's one of the most "charmingly old-fashioned" animated films he'd seen in a long time, in both its claymation style courtesy of Aardman Animations (one of those geeky '90s properties that he's surprised hasn't become more mainstream since, even in the hipster sense) and its lighthearted slapstick sensibilities, and it pulls it off on the strength of its dry British wit. It's no classic, with a lot of the humor being very old-school Looney Tunes-esque stuff and some of the jokes about British football culture likely to fly over American viewers' heads, but that didn't stop it from being an entertaining, family-friendly sendup of sports movies that earned three stars from Bob.
  • Earth to Echo: Called it this generation’s ET or The Goonies, successfully combining the feel of such films with thoroughly modern-day sensibilities. Even though the plot is derivative and easy to predict if you’ve seen those movies before, the way it plays out still works, whether you’re in the target audience or a grown adult.
  • Edge of Darkness: While he notes that it follows the Mel Gibson ‘you killed my family’ revenge-movie formula to a tee, it’s still a very good, mature thriller that doesn’t go too over the top, feeling like a modernized Mickey Spillane movie. Plus, whatever one may think of him as a person, Gibson is still a good actor, and he played his role well.
  • Edge of Tomorrow: Found it to be a very good (even if not quite great) movie. He especially liked how it seemed to play off Tom Cruise’s controversial public image, casting him as an utterly unlikable asshole and then killing him over and over again before he redeems himself, while arguing that he delivered a great performance that practically made him cool again. Emily Blunt is also great as the hard-assed Action Girl, and it makes its basic story conceit (a "Groundhog Day" Loop applied to a sci-fi action flick) work very well.
  • El Chicano: Called it "a Latino version of The Punisher" and said that it reminded him a lot of Boyz n the Hood (which he brought up due to the recent passing of its writer/director John Singleton), if not in its transcendent quality than certainly in its spirit, in the sense of it being a Hollywood film made by a member of a minority community seeking to tell a story that was rare in Hollywood. Its ambitions made him wish that it was better than it was, its Kudzu Plot and tonal issues between its cop drama first half and its vigilante/superhero movie second half holding it back from greatness, but its sincerity and (given its budget) surprisingly good production values made it worth a watch. Overall, he gave it a 6 out of 10 and said it was worth checking out if it was playing nearby.
  • Elle:
  • Elysium: In his Intermission editorial “Winter Is Coming,” he said it looked badass and was enthusiastic about it being made by the director of District 9. He edged this movie (released in America on August 9, 2013) into a discussion of films slated to come out in fall and winter simply because of how excited he was for it. When it came time to review it, he said that, while this film didn’t quite live up to District 9 (which was a very Tough Act to Follow), it’s still great, serving as both a killer action movie and a thought-provoking (albeit fairly anvilicious) Science Fiction film, with special praise for how its many plot threads interact and Sharlto Copley’s performance as Kruger. In the Big Picture episode “Summer's End”, he listed it as one of his top ten movies of summer 2013.
  • The Emoji Movie: Before it came out, he named it at #5 on his list of ten 2017 films that he most expected to suck. It looked like nothing more than a vehicle for Product Placement for app makers, and even knowing about it months in advance, he still couldn't quite believe that it was actually being made. While he didn't review it, he did later make an In Bob We Trust episode on the scathing critical reaction to it. While he did think it was pretty bad when he got around to seeing it (the film having not been screened for critics), calling it "generic-looking, shallow, derivative, stiflingly unfunny", and "almost as bad as you'd assumed it would be" and later naming it his fifth-least favorite film of the year, there really wasn't much that he thought could have made for an interesting, full-length review, much less the creative insults and proclamations of apocalyptic doom for Hollywood that his fellow critics came up with. It was just a regular bad kids' movie, more comparable to The Smurfs, Minions, or The Boss Baby than the Baby Geniuses movies, and he felt it was being treated like the latter because it gave critics a golden target upon which to project all their disapproval of the 'kids these days'. It didn't have nostalgia going for it with its subject matter, nor did it have any sort of Parental Bonus in its humor or thematic content, and it presented modern teens living their lives around their phones as a simple fact of life rather than trying to make some kind of point about it.
  • Ender's Game: Bob got his personal views towards Orson Scott Card out of the way first, saying that he didn’t blame people for wanting to boycott the film over Card’s involvement in the production, especially because it wasn’t a particularly good movie. It suffered from "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny syndrome thanks to the number of other works that have borrowed key elements of its source material in the last three decades, so when this film proved itself to be just a checklist adaptation, it disappointed because it needed to be more. Furthermore, it telegraphs its Twist Ending to the point where even those who haven’t read the book can see it coming, and without spoiling anything, the spectacle-filled way the climax is portrayed on screen really detracts from the ending’s shock and punch. It’s admittedly technically well-made, but it’s otherwise a bore.
  • Enemy of the State: A very good late-’90s paranoid thriller, but looking back, it’s something of an Unintentional Period Piece. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Remembering Tony Scott—Part 2,” a retrospective of the late Scott’s career.
  • Entourage: The mere thought of a film adaptation caused him to react (at the start of his Warm Bodies review) with a horrified “What did I do to deserve this?”
  • The Equalizer: “A near-perfect dad movie.” Like many other recent action movies with older protagonists, it’s a Power Fantasy almost perfectly calculated to appeal to the sensibilities of middle-aged dads, but it’s still a good movie despite itself. Sure, it can be preposterous, but its surprisingly deliberate pacing and Denzel Washington’s subdued, yet weighty, performance make it work much better than it should. He gives it two and a half stars, saying that, while it’s as junky as any popcorn blockbuster (the only difference being its older target audience), it’s still a fun time.
  • Equilibrium: Felt it to be a better adaptation of The Giver than the actual film adaptation. He felt that it succeeded where that film and many other dystopian films (especially those in the young adult genre) failed by focusing more on the loss of art and culture as opposed to an anvilicious moral message and metaphors for high school life, as well as how much thought it put into world-building while still obeying the rule of Show, Don't Tell. Oh, and besides adding some really badass action for good measure, it does so by extrapolating from its premise, a world where emotions are outlawed and suppressed, to create a legion of elite, emotionless killers who use applied mathematics to calculate the most efficient way to defeat their enemies with both martial arts and Gun Kata. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Don't Watch Dis-Topia, Watch Dat-Topia” and in the In Bob We Trust episode “Dissed-Topia.”
  • Escape from New York: Discussed both the original and the proposed remake in the In Bob We Trust episode “How to Fix the Escape from New York Remake.” He thinks remaking Escape from New York is a terrible idea, as its satire of how myopic mid-twentieth-century urban planning made New York City a hellhole by The '70s and The '80s is too much a product of its time. Likewise, remaking its sequel Escape from L.A. is ill-advised because Los Angeles only worked as a shorthand for inner-city blight in The '90s. In Bob’s opinion, it would be better to make an homage or a second sequel that turns the premise on its head and is set in a run-down, forgotten Flyover Country smack-dab between the prosperous East and West Coasts, with the satire carrying shades of Demolition Man in its portrayal of the high-tech and (seemingly) enlightened and utopian cities (where Snake Plissken could find himself feeling out of step) versus the fallen Middle America they’ve left behind — a far better extrapolation of a dystopian future from modern America than a remake caught up in the preoccupations of 1981. This hypothetical Escape from America would also be a natural stepping stone to an Escape from Earth, which both Kurt Russell and John Carpenter have posited as an endpoint for Snake’s story.
  • Escape Room: He found it a typically lazy January thriller just looking to make money before Glass came out. Every scene used the premise in the most generic, Literal-Minded way possible and every apparent plot twist turned out to be invokedThe Un-Twist, which was the only reason it would not be instantly predictable to people who had already seen, for example, the Saw films or Cube. It didn't even try to build audience interest, jumping to outlandish scenarios too early, revolving around characters who were completely uninteresting, and not giving the events anything approximating a theme, which was simply stated by an antagonist at the end. He gave the movie a 2 out of 10, the only faint praise he could give it being for Deborah Ann Woll's underused performance and the fact that it acknowledged its lazy gimmick as such.
  • Everly: A very good action film, with Salma Hayek making for a great action heroine and director Joe Lynch’s roots in the horror genre showing in just how brutal and grotesque the film gets. The Mood Whiplash between grisly action scenes, dramatic moments, and borderline slapstick absurdity might turn off some viewers, but Bob loved it, comparing it to a Western version of a Takashi Miike film. All that kept it from greatness in his mind was that he found the ending to be anticlimactic, but it didn’t hurt his enjoyment of the film too badly.
  • Everybody Wants Some!!: Didn’t review it, but in his list of the best and worst films of the summer of 2016, he called it his favorite film of the year to that point, and lamented that it having come out in March disqualified it from the list. He made up for it at the end of 2016 by naming it the eighth-best film of the year, calling it a great Spiritual Successor to Dazed and Confused that’s simply about “honestly-observed, amusing people be[ing] amusing.” It’s a distillation of every college hangout movie ever made, with all the fluff removed and a story that felt way more profound than it had any reason to.
  • Evil Dead (the original trilogy): Bob feels that, while the films themselves are horror masterpieces (particularly the first one), the series’ success may have done lasting damage to the horror genre, causing a wave of gore-soaked comedies that put slapstick and FX gags above actual scares and paving the way for the generation of moviegoers that laughs during legitimate horror films because they think they’re supposed to. Didn't review them, but he discussed them in his Intermission editorials “Consequences” and “Sam the Man—Part I,” a retrospective of Sam Raimi’s career, and in his review of the first film’s remake.
    • The Evil Dead (1981) (the first film): What it lacked in polish, it made up for in enthusiasm and Raimi’s talent behind the camera, producing, arguably, one of the most important indie horror films ever made.
    • Evil Dead 2: The moment where the signature styles of both Raimi and the Evil Dead series truly crystallized, combining graphic horror and slapstick comedy into a great funhouse experience. He particularly praises Bruce Campbell’s charismatic and comic performance as Ash.
    • Army of Darkness: One of the most insanely quotable movies ever made, and an utter blast to watch, with Bob calling it an antecedent to ’90s adventure shows like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess (both of which, incidentally, Raimi produced).
    • Evil Dead (2013) (the remake): Its similarity to the (intended-to-be-) gritty first film rather than its more comedic and better-known sequels will likely throw some viewers off, but it’s still a good enough movie to justify its existence with more than just fanservice. It has its ‘off’ moments, particularly when it comes to Character Development (or lack thereof), but when it’s being a balls-out, hard-R horror movie, it’s phenomenal. It’s one of the best mainstream horror movies in recent memory, with Bob comparing it to the remake of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) in the sense of it being a big-budget remake of a No Budget exploitation film that still manages to do justice to the original.
  • Ex Machina: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2015 he named it an honorable mention for the best films of the year.
  • Exodus: Gods and Kings: Before its release, he devoted an Intermission editorial to the controversy over the fact that the film cast white actors to play everybody in Ancient Egypt. While he agrees that Hollywood’s history when it comes to racial sensitivity and ‘whitewashing’ is messed-up, films set in Ancient Egypt present a strange case since, given that area’s legacy as a center of trade in that era, we still don’t know what the ancient Egyptians looked like ethnically, and they were likely extremely diverse. He was, however, somewhat troubled by what seemed to be the film’s racial/ethnic ‘coding’ in having the villains look swarthy and ‘foreign’ and the heroes look traditionally white.

    When it came time to review it, he regretted that so much controversy had been thrown around a movie that wound up being terrible as opposed to good or even decent. He called the film “the Eleventh Plague,” a total misfire whose self-seriousness kept it from rising even to the level of So Bad, It's Good. It fails as a religious film, as an Epic Movie, and as a blockbuster action film, containing flat acting and dialogue and next to no Character Development, with the few twists that the film took on the Exodus story all feeling incredibly dopey. The talkier scenes in the film seemed to exist only to fill time before it gets to the effects-heavy recreations of the Ten Plagues of Egypt and Moses parting the Red Sea, which, while visually impressive, again weren’t all that engaging. He gave it one star, calling it one of the year’s greatest disappointments and another sign of Ridley Scott’s ongoing Dork Age as a filmmaker, and at the end of 2014 he named it one of his twenty least favorite movies of the year.
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose: Called it the low point in the history of exorcism movies (a genre he doesn’t like to begin with), saying that it “plays out like a drunken game of Clue where the solution is ‘God, in the barn, with a plan.’” Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it in his review of The Rite.
  • The Exorcist: He feels that it’s the only film ever that managed to pull off the task of making the exorcism ritual look compelling on screen … and its success meant that audiences had to spend several decades watching lesser filmmakers trying (and invariably failing) to recapture that magic. Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it in his review of The Rite and in his Really That Good episode of the original Ghostbusters, in which he cited it as one of the religiously tinged horror movies the later film was setting itself up to ‘topple.’
  • The Expendables: Hated it, calling it one of the worst action movies in recent memory, and accusing it of pandering to nostalgia for its stars’ prior, better films. The whole thing comes off feeling like a poor imitation of the 1980s action flicks that it desperately wants to be like, with the action scenes and deaths all being rather unmemorable and tame — a grave sin for a film like this. The fact that this film was a hit while Scott Pilgrim vs. The World flopped became a major Berserk Button for him for weeks after the fact. Also, he strongly rejects the idea that the era of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, et al. was a golden age for the action genre, feeling instead that action movies improved as choreographed fight scenes and gunplay replaced big dudes in muscle shirts beating and blasting the snot out of Mooks.
    • The Expendables 2: He had to wait a week to review it because it wasn’t screened for critics (instead reviewing ParaNorman that weekend), and when he finally saw it, he hated it even more than the first one. While the original (directed by Stallone) at least felt like a bad ’80s action movie, with most of the action scenes having at least some payoff, this one lacks even that, feeling as though nobody involved even tried to put any effort in. In his opinion, the Expendables movies don’t seem to realize why ’80s action movies were so watchable and remain so popular in the first place, taking themselves way too seriously rather than relishing in the inherent cheese of their inspiration (like Machete or Hobo with a Shotgun) or trying to elevate the genre (like Stallone’s own Rambo a few years prior). At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his ten worst movies of the year.
    • The Expendables 3: “Y’know, it ain’t bad. How about that?” After three tries, they finally got the retraux ’80s action style down and made a decent (even if not great) movie, living up to the promise that the first two films held but failed to deliver. It tells an interesting story that finally addresses the obvious elephant in the room with the series, the fact that the stars are all well past their prime, while having a massive amount of fun (especially in the third act) in a way that puts the last two films to shame. Aside from a second act that’s much too slow, it delivers everything a fan of ’80s action movies could want from a team-up of the genre’s greats.

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