The Cabin in the Woods: Dont let anyone tell you anything about this movie. Just mark your calendar and make damn sure you do not miss it. Believe the hype. Its a triumph of horror and comedy that succeeds where others have failed by going whole-hog with its meta-narrative ideas, and its the best film Bobs 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 films 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 Intermissioneditorial, 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 Carreys few duds during his 90s hot streak, and one that Bob thinks hasnt improved with age, due to Carrey not having much of a character to play as well as a poorly-conveyed Aesop about television. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his Intermissioneditorial When Jim Carrey Ruled the World, a retrospective of Jim Carreys 90s career.
Caddyshack: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Copped Out (Part II)", specifically to discuss how it popularized one of the biggest trends in Hollywood comedy in The '80s, the All-Star Cast in a Four Lines, All Waiting plot structured like a sitcom. Thanks to its Troubled Production, a lot of the teen Coming-of-Age Story that the film was originally built around was thrown out save for the bare framework in favor of focusing on the usable material: that of a bunch of comedians being funny, such that their supporting characters were elevated into the film's central ensemble. He also dismissed virtually all of the invokedFollow the Leader comedies that came after it trying to copy its formula, saying that most of them are only remembered invokednostalgically for a handful of funny bits and nude scenes from then-popular Ms. Fanservice actresses of the time. He brought it up again in his Really That Goodepisode on Adam Sandler's films, discussing how the things that audiences connected with the most (the things that, thanks to the aforementioned troubled production, got the focus in the film) heralded the decline of the more intellectual, National Lampoon-style comedy of the '60s and '70s and the rise of much broader, more anarchic sensibilities in film comedy.
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 Dutycinematic 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.
The Call of the Wild (2020): Like the book it was based on, this was a Rated M for Manly wilderness epic driven largely by a great sense of style, one that earned an 8 out of 10 and Bob's recommendation. The CGI wisely went for a stylized look designed to evoke old wilderness paintings instead of photorealism, which allowed it to dodge the Uncanny Valley, especially where its dog protagonist was concerned, and instead fully indulge in Scenery Porn. The narrative largely pared down the invokedValues Dissonance of Jack London's writing but kept the essentials, including its more esoteric touches, producing a charming and entertaining film that will likely wind up in regular rotation in a lot of middle-aged dads' houses.
Cannibal Ferox: Just about everything going on is in the worst possible taste, but I cant say it isnt effective. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his Intermissioneditorial Test Your Might, a discussion of extreme movies.
Cannibal Holocaust: invoked 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 for the purpose of shock value. He believes that, while it was well-made on a technical level and its satire of "mondo" shockumentaries might have had a point, it plunged into hypocrisy by indulging in the very same sins that it was criticizing in those films. He also noted how the Italian film industry that produced the film was, at the time, built on Exploitation Films that played Follow the Leader with the Hollywood blockbusters of The '70s while upping the ante with the sex and violence, and how mondo films, many of which were staged for the cameras, were the Logical Extreme of that trend. Regarding the then-upcoming video game adaptation, he had little hope for it, saying that, while the potential for a quality satire was there just like it was with the movie, the video game industry as it existed in 2020 was about as ethical as the Italian film industry of 1979, so he wasn't getting his hopes up for anything more than trashy exploitation. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial editorial "Test Your Might", a discussion of extreme movies, and in the Big Picture episode "Cannibal Detox".
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's 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 Pictureepisode "Ranking the Marvel Movies", he named it his third-favorite Marvel movie.
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 Marvels main heroes fight each other.note Oh, and for the record, Tom Holland was a great Spider-Man, and Spider-Man: Homecoming is undoubtedly in good hands. Even if Bob still prefers Tobey Maguire, he's decided that, at this point, it's pointless to keep comparing every new take on the character to Sam Raimis films. 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 Pictureepisode 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 Darkhorse 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 didnt 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. Its an easy shoe-in for award season. Reviewed it in the Intermissioneditorial Captain PhillipsSympathy 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 WarIN 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 Trustepisode "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: Didnt 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 treated 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 dont live in the past. It was simply a damn good period romance, only with two women as the lovers, and Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara both delivered great performances as said lovers. At the start of 2020, he named it one of the ten defining films of The New '10s and "the defining romantic drama of the decade" for how it managed to combine steamy eroticism with forward-thinking framing and a charmingly old-fashioned love story.
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 Spaceks performance in the title role is amazing. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his review of its remake.
The Rage: Carrie 2: Huh. Never thought Id 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 was largely a beat-for-beat remake of that film didn't help, hewing 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, but Peirce showed none of her usual style, and the film moveed far too quickly for its own good. Furthermore, Chloë Moretz was too charismatic for her Carrie to be convincing as a beaten-down loner, while the films attempts to make Margaret more sympathetic clashed with the fact that she was a psychotic villain. It at least looked good, but it was otherwise a bore, and he recommended (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 its one of Pixars lesser films, with one-note characters and low stakes that are hard to get invested in, he feels that its 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 its about NASCAR, with all the culturalbaggage 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. Didnt 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 Ive seen in years. It manages somehow to mine astounding levels of hilarity out of just two real jokes Will Ferrellplaying a Mexican, and the cheesy production values of Latin American telenovelas without ever coming off as offensive or insulting to the shows its parodying (or their fans). Its 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.
Castle Freak: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode paying tribute to the recently-deceased filmmaker Stuart Gordon. It may not be much more than The Shiningin a castle with a monster instead of ghosts, but it was still pretty good. He noted how Gordon had free rein to make whatever movie he wanted provided invokedit had a castle and a freak in it, largely because Full Moon Features had already presold the film on the title and the poster.
Cats: invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019. "Weve managed to put off having to suffer through a movie of this for 37 years, but now its finally upon us." His review was no kinder; the blurb on The Escapist read that "all of the other good cat puns were taken already, so [I'm] here to tell you Cats is pretty barking bad." He regards the original musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber as spectacularly, Zardoz-level weird, and its success a sign of just how weird Broadway in general can get, and so adapting it into a film was always going to be a challenge, the only question being how bad the resulting movie would wind up. Losing the "irony distortion field of musical theater" sucked out all the charm and plunged the result, with its horrifyingly CGI'd mo-cap performances, straight into the Uncanny Valley. It was also too boring to enjoy on a So Bad, It's Good level, the production being too polished and self-serious, the art design coming across as much more dull than it probably seemed on paper, and the Bile Fascination of the "world's highest-budgeted softcore furry porn" wearing off quickly. He gave it a 3 out of 10, and the only reason it wasn't lower was because the singing and dancing were acceptable. He didn't even include the customary scenes from the trailer in his review, instead using scenes from the 2017 Chinese comedy Meow because he didn't want to make viewers have to watch any more of Cats.
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.
Chappie: He called it an ambitious, earnestly crafted film thats 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 hell 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 doesnt have many real ideas that he didnt already use in District 9, hes 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's Angels (2019): Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Pictureepisode "Sex Sells — Who's Buying?" While he found the film overall to be just decent, calling it inoffensive but not particularly memorable, the way in which it modernized the TV series intrigued him. Instead of the Male Gaze that both the show and the 2000 film and its 2003 sequel embraced, this version opted for the Female Gaze, putting less emphasis on T&A and more on glamorous fashions and feminist Wish Fulfillment in a manner not unlike the heroines of many TV soap operas, albeit with more guns and gadgets. In a way, he found it to be a Distaff Counterpart to the James Bond and Rambo movies, which put forward their titular protagonists as the kind of guys that their male target audience would like to be. He also noted how some of the more reactionary corners of the film geek community attempted to bash the film's writer/director Elizabeth Banks for comments that seemed to slam the big superhero franchises and blame them for the film's box-office failure (he personally blamed the studio for opening it against Ford V Ferrari, "everyone's dad's new favorite movie"), only for it to turn out that those comments were made before the film even came out and her actual comments afterwards largely accepted the fact that it bombed.
Child's Play: He looked back on the series upon the announcement of its seventh installment, Cult of Chucky, and in the Big Picture episode "Toys, Gory" before the release of the 2019 remake. He described 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 and still running strong in its original form. Charting the series' evolution, he saw 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 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 decent film due to some fun kills and one-liners and an over-the-top finale that felt like a low-budget prototype for Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Child's Play 3: The point where the original trilogy ran out of gas, with a forgettable human cast, a finale that copied 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 was 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, some great kills, and Jennifer Tilly's Tiffany making for a great Distaff Counterpart to Dourif's Chucky. Depending on how he's feeling, Bob favorite film in the franchise is either this one or the original, and it's not hard for him to make an argument either way.
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 transgenderism, 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) remained 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.
Cult of Chucky: One of his favorite films in the series, simply for how nuts it was, and in his opinion, the best argument out there against the idea of doing a remake.
Child's Play (2019): Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019. As much as he loves Aubrey Plaza, this film looked like little more than a cash-in on the part of the studio given its release on the same day as Toy Story 4, especially with Chucky's origin now being a "smart" toy that goes haywire rather than a doll possessed by a Serial Killer's ghost. Furthermore, it was unrelated to the still-ongoing film franchise (which Mancini was turning into a TV series), and as such, even if the film turned out good, he'd still have a problem with it because the original creators got screwed over. In his review, he said that it came close to being a really good sci-fi horror movie, only to be held back by the need to be a Child's Play movie as well. The setup, in which an AI home assistant's interactions with a moody, disgruntled teenage boy, combined with compromised AI safeguards, turn it into a killing machine, was clever and satirical in a manner reminiscent of a good Black Mirror episode, and it followed through with both the horror elements and the production values. Unfortunately, the fact that the AI assistant in question inhabited the body of an '80s children's doll stuck out like a sore thumb and produced plenty of Fridge Logic, and the "new" Chucky felt like a pale imitation of its predecessor. He gave it a 4 out of 10 and said that, while it was breezy entertainment and he looked forward to director Tyler Burton Smith's work going forward, overall it didn't come together.
A Christmas Story: Devoted a special Christmas episode of Really That Good to discussing and analyzing the film. Bob describes it as a film thats better known through Pop Culture Osmosis than anything thanks to it serving as basically background noise on TV around Christmas, arguing that its 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. Its nostalgic for its early-1940s setting, but its 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 films narrator. He calls the films use of first-person narration one of the rare times when its worked well and served the film, enhancing Ralphies job as the Audience Surrogate in the film and lending subtext to many scenes that the characters alone couldnt provide. This subtext indicates that the events of the film marked a major turning point in Ralphies 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 its strongly implied that the film takes place in 1940, and that this Christmas is the last one before Pearl Harbor. This makes Ralphies nostalgia for the good old days that much more poignant, as its 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 Americas shifting stance on gun culture, its 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 didnt really need to be a found footage movie, and it doesnt take many narrative risks, but otherwise its 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 hes 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 Hedid.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: A reasonably good fantasy movie, though not as good as the last twoentries, mainly because the book its based on wasnt 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.
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. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his review of Riddick, along with its sequel
Riddick: Pretty much a remake of Pitch Black in all but name, which isnt 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 its focusing on Riddick himself (despite Diesels 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 Sackhoffs character being a lesbian is handled in an extremely tasteless manner.
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 worrisome aspects of the real-life American tech industry, Bob thought it completely squandered the ample 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 thought 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. He called 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 inHong 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 Hardon 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 originals cheesy human drama and the remakes total lack of same keep them from joining the upper ranks of their respective eras great blockbusters. The remakes 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 Trustepisode Top 10 Worst Remakes Ever, he put it at number eight, saying it wasnt 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 films 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, thats about as much as he can say without potentially ruining the experience (though if youve read anything about it, theres nothing new hes 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 Pictureepisode Skin Deeper), deserves an Oscar. The films 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 itll 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 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 doesnt quite click. That said, its still a very engrossing film on a purely visual level, and quite funny on top of it. Its a good sequel that doesnt live up to its great predecessor, but if you have kids, its still worth your time.
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.
Color Out of Space (2020): Before he reviewed it, he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Cage, the Elephant", about Nicolas Cage (who had just starred in this film) and how, despite his talent, his Hollywood pedigree, and the laundry list of great movies he'd been in over his long career, he had become a joke about ridiculous overacting. When it came time to review it, he called it an excellent adaptation of a story that invokedmany had thought unfilmable due to its esoteric and cosmic nature, ironically by giving it a dose of humanity of the sort that H. P. Lovecraft often struggled with. By getting him invested in the family at the center of the story and making him genuinely care about them, he found that the film made the graphic horror that befell them sting that much more painfully, even if he admitted that some purists would likely take issue with the changes. Cage also gave the sort of performance that only he could, one that meshed well with the out-there events of the film, and the character he played was complex in his human failings. He gave it an 8 out of 10 and said that, while it wasn't interested in much more than a simple, old-school horror movie, it succeeded admirably at that goal. He also discussed Lovecraft's infamous racism and how it informed much of his work, describing him as a version of a talk radio pundit who also had a gift for fantastical prose and saying that, even as someone who sharply rejects Lovecraft's entire worldview, reading his work is still a fascinating look into the mind of someone so gripped by hate and fear that it drove him mad.
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, paradoxically, "possibly the most uplifting and life-affirming movie of the year" in a year that really needed uplift.
The Commuter: It's about the best one can expect from a January action movie starring Liam Neeson: predictably plotted but well-directed and acted. While the biggest action set pieces at the end of the movie are 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 (2011): By Krom, is this piece of shit awful. Later, in the In Bob We Trustepisode Top 10 Worst Remakes Ever, he listed it at number ten, calling star Jason Momoa one of that rare breed of non-actor whos incapable of turning charisma into screen presence and saying that, given its otherwise good supporting cast, they shouldnt have screwed it up this badly.
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. Doesnt really need much more review than that. Its one of the best haunted house movies in years, elevated by the care that went into making it. Didnt review it, but he mentioned it at the end of his review of Red 2, and in the Big Pictureepisode Summers 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 didnt 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 allow 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 the 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 was a good movie, giving him hope that the attempt to make a Modular Franchise out of The Conjuring might work 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 turned out pretty good, even if Annabelle: Creation remained the best Conjuringspinoff. 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 StormExcuse 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 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 Latine moviegoers and led it to miss a major 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.
Annabelle Comes Home: He didn't see the point to making this a midquel in the franchise (chronologically, it precedes only The Conjuring II), he still disagreed with the philosophy behind it, and he knew what to expect from a Conjuring-adjacent movie by now. However, it worked well enough for him to give it 7 out of 10, thanks especially to the relatively well-drawn characters — for example, it was the first ensemble horror piece he could name where none of them was designed as an out-and-out Hate Sink. It's not much more than a cross betweenWhen a Stranger Calls and Poltergeist that's just there to play on screens until the true Conjuring 3 comes out (and he called out the movie's marketing for falsely suggesting that it wasThe Conjuring 3), but regardless, it worked well enough.
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 Pattinsons cold emptiness makes him perfect for the role, and its one of those films that simply washes over you. Very good. Didnt review it, but he discussed it at the beginning of his Lawless review.
Crash: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. He called it a very good movie that came tantalizingly close to greatness, only to blow it through the very same plot machinations that brought it so close to begin with, to the point that he felt somewhat cheated. Still, on its craftsmanship alone, he gave it an 8 out of 10 and a recommendation.
Crawl: invoked"I paid for alligators, I got alligators." It's a simple film that played out as a cross between a Disaster Movie, an Old, Dark House thriller, and a one-act, two-character stage play, and it did everything right. You'll probably see the story beats coming, but its tale of a father and daughter forced to work out their differences in order to survive was still effective, thanks in no small part to rock-solid performances by Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper. Alexandre Aja has proven himself talented at these sorts of horror movies at both the serious end of the spectrum and the more comedic end, and here, he walked the line between the two, delivering on all the gnarly killer alligator set pieces promised by the trailer without slipping into Self-Parody or Fridge Logic. One could easily read a Climate Change metaphor into the plot, but it was likely unintentional on the part of the filmmakers, the film otherwise being "a lean, no-bullshit, no-padding piece of genre filmmaking" that earned a 7 out of 10, even if he predicted "between five and seven direct-to-Redbox sequels of varying quality over the next few years."
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.
Crimson Peak: Didnt review it, but at the end of 2015 he named it his ninth-favorite movie of the year. Its 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 Toros 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 Scotts best film. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his Intermissioneditorial Remembering Tony ScottPart 1, a retrospective of the late Tony Scotts 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.
Cutey Honey (the Live-Action Adaptation): Devoted the Big Pictureepisode 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 its 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 mature works with the original Cutie Honey manga.
Dagon: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode paying tribute to the recently-deceased filmmaker Stuart Gordon. He called it an "Up to Eleven splatterfest" that marked Gordon's return to the H. P. Lovecraft well with a loose adaptation of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", a film that earned his recommendation as long as one didn't eat anything while watching it.
Danny the Dog: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger, under its American title of Unleashed. Its action-packed trailers aside, this was a big departure for Jet Li, who gave an excellent performance in a "serious" role where his action chops, while present, weren't in the spotlight; he compared Li's reliance on facial expressions and minimal dialogue here to that of Clint Eastwood in his old Spaghetti Westerns. He also praised the brutal fight choreography, which didn't make him wish it was possible for a human to kick ass like that so much as he was afraid that someone could, and Bob Hoskins' performance as a truly monstrous villain. He gave it a 9 out of 10 and recommended it most of all to those who might dismiss martial arts movies sight unseen.
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.
The Darkest Hour: Spent the opening of his Final Destination 5 review mocking its premise, saying that he didnt 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 Crystal: Age of Resistance: Didn't get a proper review episode, but he made his (incredibly positive) feelings clear in a Big Picture episode of the subject. He's a proud fan of the 1982 Cult Classicinvoked on which it is based, and is delighted by this worthy prequel series. In his own words, it is "a miracle of technical filmmaking, a triumph of tone-blurring, genre-defying dark fantasy storytelling", and called it one of, if not the best, nostalgia-driven revivals of a 1980s intellectual property.
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 Bales 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 films 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 Ledgers death) as it did with its own merits as a film.
The Dark Knight Rises: Disappointing, but not crushingly so. Its a good movie, but far from a fitting sendoff for Christopher Nolans Batman trilogy. Banes not a particularly interesting villain (though hes 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 weeks Intermissioneditorial Knightfail).
On the other hand, the score is excellent, Nolans 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 Bobs recommendation. Three weeks later, he did a Big Pictureepisode, 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 Burtons Batman. Bob also discusses how it emerged from Sam Raimis failed attempts to make a film adaptation of The Shadow, and how it drew as much from Universal Horror as from its pulpy inspiration. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in the Intermissioneditorial Sam the ManPart I, a retrospective of Raimis career.
Dark Shadows: Its far from Tim Burtons return to form, but its 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 hipsterManchild) 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. Its 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, its 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 Intermissioneditorial Dont 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 Gunwith cars, though thats not bad, as director Tony Scott and star Tom Cruise make a very intense and interesting, if melodramatic, film. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his Intermissioneditorial Remembering Tony ScottPart 1, a retrospective of the late Scotts career.
DC Animated Universe: In his Big Picture episode "Binge-a-Thon 2020", a list of films he recommended for binge-watching during the coronavirus lockdown, he praised the animated films and TV shows in the series for their consistent quality, with surprisingly few clunkers given how long it had run for.
DC Extended Universe: Bob likes the characters from the source material well enough, hence why he so often found himself wishing that the movies were far better. He'd gladly praise aspects of them that worked, but for a long time, he had little more than contempt for their unlikablereimaginings 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 was that Warner Bros. seemingly tried to play catch-up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe without understanding why it worked 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. In the Big Picture episode "Crisis Actors", he held it up in sharp contrast to Warner/DC's superior superhero offerings in every other medium, from television to animation, while arguing that its main problem was its lack of consistency. Unlike Marvel, he felt that the DC brand wasn't a guarantee of quality, and for every instant classic like Shazam! or flawed-but-enjoyable film like Wonder Woman or Aquaman, there was a stinker like Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, or Justice League.
That said, the DCEU eventually turned a corner with him sometime in 2019, as noted in the Big Picture episode "How DC Got Its Groove Back".Aquaman, Shazam!, and Birds of Prey all impressed him, he was looking forward to Wonder Woman 1984, and while he personally didn't like Joker, he admitted that a lot of other people liked it a lot more than he did. He argued that the roots of the DCEU's second wind ironically lay in what Warner Bros. initially promised would be its greatest strength, that it would focus less on Shared UniverseWorld Building like the Marvel films and more on giving creative freedom to filmmakers to make the kinds of superhero stories they wanted to. While this philosophy was seemingly left by the wayside during the abortive first phase of the DCEU's development in favor of doing a Darker and Edgier version of the Marvel approach guided by Zack Snyder's vision, it came back in force once that attempt floundered, leading to a number of unique superhero films that felt radically different from one another and were interesting to watch all the same. In his opinion, the best decision that Warner Bros. made with the DCEU was giving up on directly competing with Marvel in favor of being the weird "alternative" brand in superhero movies. Another element that he saw in the DCEU's rebound was that they had broken out of the bubble of the hardcore comic book fanbase, arguing that Snyder's films represented the unshackled id of a fandom that was still nostalgic for the worst excesses of The Dark Age of Comic Books while the DCEU's greatest successes came by instead appealing to mass audiences.
Dead Heat: Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his Big PictureSchlocktober special for 2013. Its cheesy and has a Kudzu Plot, but its 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 its 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. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in the Intermissioneditorial Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies, a retrospective on the late Williams career.
Deadpool (2016): He doesnt 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 isnt 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 Wades wife and helps build the surprisingly heartfelt love story at the center of the film. He calls it a film thats 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. Its 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, youll 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-Heroarchetype 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 Darkhorse 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.
Deadpool 3: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode on how he felt Disney might go about integrating the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unlike the X-Men, Deadpool is a character who he thinks is never going to be brought into the MCU proper due to his raunchy nature, but at the same time, the demand for a crossover will be great. His idea: a Marvel Zombies movie in which Deadpool fights zombie versions of the MCU's superheroes.
Death on the Nile (2020): Hasn't reviewed it yet, but at the start of 2020 he named it his most anticipated film of the year. He absolutely loved Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, and he'd been waiting for this film ever since it was teased at the end of that one, especially since he finds Death on the Nile to be a more interesting story to begin with.
Dead Snow: The same director [as Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters] also did this movie, which is a lot better. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his review of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Death to Smoochy: Didnt really give his own thoughts on the film itself, but noted it was one of Robin Williams darkest roles ever. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in the Intermissioneditorial 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 hes seen, and that it was unfairly overlooked when it came out. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his Intermissioneditorial Remembering Tony ScottPart 2, a retrospective of the late Tony Scotts 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.
Destroyer (1988): Devoted an episode of his 2020 Schlocktober special to it. It was a late-period '80s Slasher Movie that stood out mainly for its Stunt Casting of NFL star Lyle Alzado, one of the last great violent, intimidating "berserker" players in football, and the kills made heavy use of such, with him eschewing the novelty weapons of other slasher villains in favor of violent beatdowns to kill his victims. Anthony Perkins was also memorable as the director of the Film Within a Film. The rest of the film wasn't that great, unfortunately; the plot was a generic grab-bag of ideas from various slashers and "movies about making movies", and while Alzado had a ton of charisma, it was also clear that his health was declining when he made this (he suffered lifelong health problems from steroid abuse in his NFL days, and ultimately died of brain cancer in 1992). That said, it was rather novel, and worth a watch for those looking for an offbeat '80s slasher.
Destroyer (2018): 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. Its an entertaining meta take on The Breakfast Club that doesnt 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 hadnt had the misfortune of opening in limited release the same weekend that The Cabin in the Woods came out. He discussed it in his Intermissioneditorial 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 its awful. Bob calls it one of the dumbest movies hes 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 hed 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, its a rather good, charming introduction to Bollywood cinema for American audiences, maintaining its unique charm while still feeling like a big blockbuster.
Die Hard: Hes discussed the series several times, including in the special Escape to the Moviesepisode 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, hes 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 thats 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 McClanes all-American, blue-collar hero was a personification of a lot of the cultural cheerleading with which Reagan was identified. The films 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 Citycop 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 movies only real flaw endogenous to itself: the very thin, retrograde, and ultimately boring characterization afforded to Johns 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 decades later given America's changing stance on activist policing, and (2) invokedhe's fed up with people callingDie Hardtheir 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 had 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 McClanes Calling the Old Man Out about Johns 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.
Dirty Harry: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "The Survivor", calling it "the beginning of movie cops' evolution from general peacekeeping good guys to dark embodiments of cultural paranoia and vigilante revenge fantasy". At the same time, however, it was the Unbuilt Trope version of many such films that followed, portraying Harry Callahan as an asshole and quite possibly a psychopath who just so happens to be the right man for this job, the fact that someone like him was the right man for the job being used to drive home the film's near-apocalyptic portrayal of inner-city crime run amok. He noted how the film was meant to provide invokedcatharsis for audiences fed up with what they felt to be ineffectual police during a period when crime seemed to be getting out of control, especially amidst the Zodiac murders that the villain was based on, which were still ongoing at the time and seemed to many Americans a symbol of the downward spiral of the nation's cities.
Magnum Force: Brought it up in "The Survivor" to talk about how its villains were Cowboy Cops who represented all of Harry's worst tendencies taken to extremes, and how it contributed to a softening of Harry's image into a more conventionally heroic figure in the later films.
The Disaster Artist:invoked He felt this to be only okay and solely 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 overrepresented 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, however, thought the biggest obstacle to it being great was that it seemed like it would say new and insightful things about the nature of creativity, drive, the filmmaking process, following one's dreams, and/or Wiseau himself, but didn't. He gave it two and a half stars and called it "a worthy successor to Bowfinger" among Movie-Making Mess movies that disappoints insofar as it aspires to be Ed Wood.
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) didnt 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 didnt 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 films presentation of such is rife with Fridge Logic to boot. Reviewed it in the Intermissioneditorial 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 Tarantinos 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 WarSouthern 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 Djangos mentor. He first discussed it in his Big Pictureepisode 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 Pictureepisode Is Django Racist? to discuss the controversy over the films 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 Sleep: He gave it a 10 out of 10, calling it "dark, spooky, [and] deceptively deep" and one of the best films of 2019 — though to be fair, a big part of why he loved it so much came down to very personal reasons. It was a movie that shouldn't have worked, largely because The Shining was such a Tough Act to Follow that merely trying to do a sequel took serious guts, and the fact that writer/director Mike Flanagan (for whom Bob hoped this film would become his Breakthrough Hit) actually managed to pull it off was unreal. It wisely saved the fanserviceShout-Outs to The Shining for the third act while serving as more or less its own film before then, distilling the central arc of the book to Danny fighting to overcome his father's demons and not fall down the same path — a story that hit especially Close to Home for Bob, such that he wound up going off-script for over half the review to talk about it. And on top of that, it was an extremely well-made horror film in its own right, with Flanagan once more proving himself a modern master at this kind of low-key, melancholy horror. At the end of 2019, he named it his second-favorite film of the year.
Doctor Strange (2016): Compared it to looking at a blacklight poster on uppers: its pretty and youre having a good time, but youve also got a nagging sense that maybe somebody brought the wrong drugs to the party. Its 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 Marvels high standards, then hes 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.
Dolittle: "The argument that maybe not every insufferably whimsical early 20th century British children's literature property needs to come back as a $175 million+... one of these." He questioned the very idea of making this film in the first place, not only because the original books had fallen out of popular memory beyond the Pop-Cultural Osmosis of their premise (that, and they're also filled with a lot of invokedold-timey racism) but because the most successful adaptation took virtually nothing from the books beyond that basic premise. The January release amid reports of a Troubled Production did no favors for his expectations, either. While he tried to be diplomatic, he still said that "this really, really sucks" in the kind of way that only a truly, disastrously misguided film production can, even if he couldn't bring himself to truly hate a harmlessly inoffensive kids' movie about funny talking animals. The story felt like a Random Events Plot, the action scenes were disjointed, Robert Downey Jr.'s mugging (especially his weird accent) felt like a bad ripoff of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, most of the performances whipped between sincere and snarking as if they'd been recorded at different times with different tones and focus (likely because they were), and the climax tried to hit a half-dozen emotional and story beats at once and fell completely flat at all of them. He gave it a 3 out of 10 and said that it almost made him wish that Downey had done another Sherlock Holmes movie instead (even if he very quickly took back the very suggestion).
Dolls: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode paying tribute to the recently-deceased filmmaker Stuart Gordon. He called it underrated, a film that's not as gory as Gordon's other films and which was overshadowed by the Puppet Master series but is still one of the best takes on the Killer Doll premise he'd seen
Domino: One of those movies that many people consider to be either one of Tony Scotts 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'Niques mixed-race categories. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his Intermissioneditorial Remembering Tony Scott, Part 2, a retrospective of the late Scotts career.
Don't Breathe: [a] bright spot in an otherwise lackluster movie season. Its 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 its not enough to kill a movie that Bob still gives three stars in the end.
Downton Abbey: invoked As someone who had admittedly never seen the TV series that it serves as a continuation of but was intrigued by its premise, he found it engaging even despite it being primarily made for longtime fans. Much of the fanservice and call-backs flew over his head ("so this is what it feels like"), which he thought was why he was more invested in the side of the story surrounding the housekeepers, as that was where most of the new-for-the-film plot threads came from. That said, he definitely got the witty dialogue, sharp performances, and gorgeous production design, which convinced him to give it a 7 out of 10 and a recommendation even for newcomers to the series.
Dracula Untold: A bad movie that could almost have gotten away with it. He disliked the film, but he couldnt 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 films 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.
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 à la John Milius that were seemingly designed to court controversy. That said, the film felt strangely sanitized in those regards compared to Zahler's 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.
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 Intermissioneditorial Sam the ManPart II (a retrospective of Raimis career) to say that he might have overrated it a bit when it first came out.
Dredd: Pretty damn awesome. Go see it, it deserves it. Didnt 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.
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 its 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. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in his Intermissioneditorial When Jim Carrey Ruled the World, a retrospective of Carreys 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. Its little more than a cash-in on the originals continued popularity, a bland retelling of that film that does nothing to justify its existence. Most of those involved seems like theyre 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 Harrys 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 mainly remember isolated parts of it and its general idea. 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.
Dune (2021): Hasn't reviewed it yet, but at the start of 2020 he named it his sixth most anticipated film of 2020 (it has been delayed to 2021 since, however). He thinks that the book may well be unfilmable, but given the long and weird history of film adaptations, he's excited to see how Denis Villeneuve's attempt turns out.
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.
Early Man: Lamented the fact that the studio decided to open it againstBlack 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 generations 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 youve seen those movies before, the way it plays out still works, whether youre in the target audience or a grown adult.
Edge of Darkness: While he notes that it follows the Mel Gibsonyou killed my family revenge-movie formula to a tee, its still a very good, mature thriller that doesnt 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 Cruises 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.
Edmond: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Pictureepisode paying tribute to the recently-deceased filmmaker Stuart Gordon. He described it as a mix of Joker and Falling Down that didn't pretend to have anything more to say than just a "guttural howl of emasculated resentment at modern society", and was a better film for it. Even though, in hindsight, it proved to be an early sign of writer David Mamet's more belligerent right-wing politics, it was still a very well-made example of such thanks to Gordon's direction.
El Camino: It set itself the tall task of making a postscript to the Breaking Bad universe without Walter White, a uniquely compelling Villain Protagonist within that show's universe as much as outside it, and Bob found that it mostly succeeded, giving it a 7 out of 10. Appropriately, Aaron Paul (reprising his role as Jesse Pinkman) showing Jesse's Character Development very well was the main selling point, such that he made not one but two in-film Genre Shifts work, and it introduced mostly relevant new information without overdoing Continuity Porn. It wasn't as good as Destroyer or Hell or High Water among contemporary neo-Westerns, but it still worked as a lean, unpretentious outlaw-on-the-run story.
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 then-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. He wished it was better than it was due to how ambitious it was, its Kudzu Plot and tonal issues between its police 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.
Elysium: In his Intermissioneditorial 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 didnt quite live up to District 9 (which was a veryTough Act to Follow), its 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 Copleys 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 Trustepisode 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 didnt blame people for wanting to boycott the film over Cards involvement in the production, especially because it wasnt 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 havent 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 endings shock and punch. Its admittedly technically well-made, but its otherwise a bore.
Enola Holmes: invoked Gave it an 8 out of 10 and said it "deserves to be the next big Young Adult hit." He compared it to "Grey Gardens meets Batman" in both its protagonist, the 16-year-old sister of Sherlock Holmes, and its aesthetic, a mix of Victorian-era mystery and action with plenty of Breaking the Fourth Wall, and as far as an introductory kids' version of a Sherlock Holmes story goes, he couldn't have asked for much more. Its second act suffered from the bloat common to origin stories and would-be franchise starters like this, but Millie Bobby Brown made for an outstanding heroine who won him over instantly, and it refused to talk down to its young audience, imbuing its story with real stakes and darkness, making its villains a genuine menace, and having their Evil Plan be decidedly grounded in real-world issues. He also noted how the title character can initially seem like a Tumblr-bait Mary Sue at first glance with her hypercompetence and laundry list of skills and talents, until one realizes that they're all canonical characteristics of Sherlock Holmes himself, just applied to his teenage sister.
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, its a Power Fantasy almost perfectly calculated to appeal to the sensibilities of middle-aged dads, but its still a good movie despite itself. Sure, it can be preposterous, but its surprisingly deliberate pacing and Denzel Washingtons subdued, yet weighty, performance make it work much better than it should. He gives it two and a half stars, saying that, while its as junky as any popcorn blockbuster (the only difference being its older target audience), its 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. Didnt review it, but he discussed it in the Intermissioneditorial Don't Watch Dis-Topia, Watch Dat-Topia and in the In Bob We Trustepisode Dissed-Topia.
Escape from New York: Discussed both the original and the proposed remake in the In Bob We Trustepisode 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 Citya 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 Bobs 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 theyve 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 Snakes story.
Escape Room: He found it a typically lazy January thriller just looking to make money before Glass (2019) 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.
Eternals: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but at the start of 2020 he named it his fourth most anticipated film of 2020, saying that he couldn't help but admire Disney/Marvel for going big with the start of Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, adapting a famously esoteric comic book storyline in Jack Kirby's The Eternals.
Everly: A very good action film, with Salma Hayek making for a great action heroine and director Joe Lynchs 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 didnt hurt his enjoyment of the film too badly.
Everybody Wants Some!!: Didnt 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 thats simply about honestly-observed, amusing people be[ing] amusing. Its 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 theyre supposed to. Didn't review them, but he discussed them in his Intermissioneditorials Consequences and Sam the ManPart I, a retrospective of Sam Raimis career, and in his review of the first films remake.
The Evil Dead (1981) (the first film): What it lacked in polish, it made up for in enthusiasm and Raimis 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 Campbells charismatic and comic performance as Ash.
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 its 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 its being a balls-out, hard-R horror movie, its phenomenal. Its 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.
Exodus: Gods and Kings: Before its release, he devoted an Intermissioneditorial to the controversy over the fact that the film cast white actors to play everybody in Ancient Egypt. While he agrees that Hollywoods history when it comes to racial sensitivity and whitewashing is messed-up, films set in Ancient Egypt present a strange case since, given that areas legacy as a center of trade in that era, we still dont 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 films 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 werent all that engaging. He gave it one star, calling it one of the years greatest disappointments and another sign of Ridley Scotts 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 doesnt 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. Didnt review it, but he mentioned it in his review of The Rite.
The Exorcist: He feels that its 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. Didnt 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 wasnt 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 dont 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 Stallones 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: Yknow, it aint 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 thats much too slow, it delivers everything a fan of 80s action movies could want from a team-up of the genres greats.
Extraction: invoked Called it "a solid hard-R action movie" even if it felt like it lost something from premiering on Netflix instead of the big screen, the spectacle of which might have more effectively masked some of its faults. It was an effective showcase of Chris Hemsworth's Action Hero chops in a more grounded, non-MCU film, and its Genre Throwback to old-school action movies and firm rejection of the "Marvel aesthetic" (which felt like a conscious choice given how much of the production team came from Marvel) was unique enough to keep him engaged. The action scenes kicked ass and had plenty of Money-Making Shots that were enough to make him spill his drink, and between that and the jacked-up, machine-gun-toting nature of Hemsworth's protagonist, he called it "as close as anyone has come to capturing a Call of Duty game on film". The supporting cast too was excellent and managed to avoid getting outshined by Hemsworth, especially Golshifteh Farahani as his Mission Control and later Distaff Counterpart, who Bob hoped would get a Spin-Off of her own. He couldn't really call it much more than a distraction, but that was still enough to earn it a 7 out of 10 and a recommendation for action junkies.