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Recap / Bob Chipman Film Reviews M To O

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  • Machete: Even without its underlying message, it's one of the best action movies of the year. However, its angry, unsubtle righteousness regarding its subject matter makes it that much better. It may have been riffing on the ham-handed social justice messages of '70s blaxploitation movies, but it still felt like Robert Rodriguez's most substantial film to date. Discussed it in his reviews of this film and its sequel …
    • Machete Kills: In the Intermission editorial "Winter Is Coming", he said he was looking forward to it as a trashy breather from the prestige pictures of the fall, though he wonders how it can top the first one. When it came time to review it, he said it was "just as much fun, not as much impact," disappointed that it lacked the first film's angry tone and ultra-gory violence but otherwise enjoying himself with a "fun goof" at the movies. He particularly praises the cast, calling them great both on a meta level and with regards to how they serve the film itself.
  • Machine Gun Preacher: "Whatever the real Sam Childers may or may not be, we can now add 'deserving of a better movie' to the list." While the true story it's based on is admirable and inspiring, overall Bob found the film itself to be a mess that was too in awe of its subject matter to be able to tell a good story.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: An awesome return to form for the series after a thirty-year hiatus, and one of the best action films and dystopian sci-fi films of the modern era. The action effortlessly combines old-school stuntwork with modern special effects to produce an exhilarating, hard-hitting thrill ride, and while Tom Hardy fills the shoes of Mel Gibson well, it's Charlize Theron who steals the show as the film's real and strikingly original hero, Furiosa. As such, he appreciated that it carried forward the conceit from Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome that Max is really just a Supporting Protagonist (albeit a very good one). It's also a surprisingly thoughtful film given its genre and subject matter, with the undertones of its story containing a harsh takedown of hyper-macho militarism. Bottom line: believe the hype. At the end of 2015, he named it his seventh-favorite movie of the year. At the start of 2020, he named it one of the ten defining films of The New '10s, not just for its influence on the action genre but also for how it managed to pull off an alchemy that many other films that decade tried and failed at: the gender-swapped reboot in which a new female protagonist takes the reins.

    A couple of weeks later, he came back to it in the In Bob We Trust episode "Blurry Road", where he described how, in anticipation of this film's box-office duel with Pitch Perfect 2, many film journalists had been ready to write stories about the battle between the lighthearted, female-focused musical comedy and the violent, male-focused action flick and what either film's success or failure meant for the future of Hollywood — only for that narrative to get turned upside-down once they actually saw both movies. The film that appeared on the surface to be a 'dude-bro' Power Fantasy instead won acclaim for its themes of female empowerment and critique of the culture of machismo, while the 'girl power' comedy was criticized for its fairly retrograde fat jokes and racial humor. From this, Bob drew the conclusion that, while it's certainly possible to read too much into a movie, such exploration of the films that you view can deepen your enjoyment of what you like.
  • The Magnificent Seven (the 1960 original): A great Western, but not a perfect one, not to be regularly cited alongside The Dollars Trilogy, The Searchers, or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and certainly not the deepest film ever made. What made it a classic was more the performances than anything else, particularly Yul Brynner in what was probably his defining role, as well as an excellent soundtrack and theme song. "It's a great song, but it's a song you're allowed to cover." Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of its remake …
    • The Magnificent Seven (the 2016 remake): It's one of the few remakes of classic films that doesn't seem like a terrible idea, partly because the movie it's remaking was itself a remake of Seven Samurai (which, in fairness, is still the greatest version of the same story) and wasn't a perfect film in its own right. It follows the original in going for crowd-pleasing spectacle, but might as well be a Marvel movie otherwise given its Five-Token Band (racially and ability-wise) and how it goes that much further than its forebear in aiming to please. Antoine Fuqua's direction is rock-solid, but given his track record with good, unapologetically Rated M for Manly blockbuster movies like Training Day, Tears of the Sun, and The Equalizer, the biggest surprise is that he waited this long to make an actual Western. The All-Star Cast act their hearts out, the movie looks great, and the script is the kind of BS-free cowboy antics that mostly ended after the 1960 film. It can't touch Open Range or Unforgiven in the pantheon of modern Westerns, but he gave it three and a half stars and said, "It will kick your ass harder than just about any blockbuster we got this summer."
  • Maleficent: "A movie planned by committee but hijacked by a lunatic." He couldn't say that it was a genuinely good movie, finding it to have a whole slew of problems with plot in the second act when it tried to follow the story of Sleeping Beauty and pulled back from its substantially Darker and Edgier tone. However, it was certainly an unforgettable one. When it was being its own movie, it was a genuine treat, with Angelina Jolie's hammy, "Mae West meets Vegeta on bath salts" performance being absolutely perfect and the story going utterly balls-out crazy in how it reinterpreted the mythology of Sleeping Beauty; Bob compared it to a Disney version of Kill Bill or a Rape and Revenge movie.

    A couple of weeks later, he came back to it in a (spoiler-heavy) Intermission editorial to reevaluate his opinion of it. He claimed that, while he still personally found the film to be a mixed bag, he hadn't given the film its due in his original assessment, probably because he wasn't part of its target audience and was judging it on very different terms than those people were. Seeing the film a second time with an audience composed mostly of mothers and their children, he noticed how nearly all of the older women in the crowd reacted to many pivotal moments in the film very differently than he did. Years later, when reviewing its sequel, Mistress of Evil, he seemed to have come around on it, calling it one of the better Disney Live-Action Remakes that, through its strongly revisionist take on the source material, wound up being among the most interesting of them.
    • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil: Called it a "wickedly subversive dark fairy tale" and "Disney's most gloriously weird franchise", anchored by another outstanding Villain Protagonist turn by a campy, gothed-up Jolie. The villain this time was a metaphor for internalized misogyny instead of the patriarchy, and the narrative went in some delightfully strange directions in the second and third acts that massively expanded the series' universe. Keeping Maleficent herself offscreen for long periods did little to dilute her sheer presence throughout the film (and made sense from a character perspective), and it also helped give the film room to flesh out its supporting cast. He gave it a 7 out of 10 and praised it for the risks it took that mostly paid off, even if he slightly preferred the original.
  • Mamma Mia!: "Bottom line — bad, bad, bad!" He called it "suitable only for use as an interrogation technique", and opened his review with a rant against jukebox musicals in general. The plot can basically be summed up as "surprise, your mother's a whore!" and felt more like the backstory for an '80s sitcom or a bad Saturday Night Live sketch than a feature film, there's barely fifteen minutes of plot and characterization between the musical numbers, the actors felt lost, the ABBA covers were mostly forgettable, and the production values felt extremely cheap. The one good scene, Meryl Streep's deeply moving cover of "Slipping Through My Fingers", merely made him hate the rest of the film that much more for how little it seemed to be trying. The best he could say about it was that it was a milestone for gender equality, in that it proved that women could now have shallow, base, spectacle-driven blockbusters just like the men did. Years later, he discussed it further in his review of its sequel, having not changed his opinion on the film in the slightest but seeing his old review of it as something of an Old Shame due to its Slut-Shaming and preponderance of off-color humor instead of actual, substantive criticism.
    • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: Before he reviewed it, he named it his fifth least anticipated film of 2018. "It's a prequel to Mamma Mia! set to ABBA's less popular songs. [Beat] Next!" When he actually reviewed it, he said that it was slightly better than the first and while it suffered from the same problems that hold back every other Jukebox Musical from being genuinely good, the story and production values were a significant step up from the first one. However, the fact that they used all the most famous ABBA songs in the first one meant that this film had to rely on the band's less-memorable deep cuts, meaning that, while it was better as a movie, it was worse as a musical. He gave it two stars and called it forgettable, but harmless.
  • Mandy: If you go in expecting the sort of "Nicolas Cage live-action Metalocalypse episode" that this was marketed as, you'd probably be disappointed, as it was more of a dark, unsettling, drug-fueled mood piece than a gonzo action movie. The plot was flimsy to the core, but it succeeded incredibly in crafting a cast of miserable people whose Character Development came through background details more than anything, all with an incredible degree of stylization in the direction, music, and Heavy Metal aesthetic. It was bound to be polarizing, but he still enjoyed it, gave it three stars, and named it his seventh-favorite movie of 2018.
  • Manhunt (2018): The plot is incredibly convoluted, but otherwise, it's a great throwback on John Woo's part to his earlier, more energetic and weird work in Hong Kong action cinema, even if it's not quite a return to his Glory Days. It sometimes feels "off" in how it combines Woo's Signature Style of low-budget, analog action with modern production values and tricks of the trade, such that the action can feel too "clean" at times compared to similar films of his, but the action is still up to Woo's usual standard, especially the farmhouse fight and an absolutely outrageous finale. He also singled out Woo's daughter Angeles as the Ensemble Dark Horse in the cast for her performance as one of a pair of sister assassins. He gave it two-and-a-half stars and said that it was pretty good by the standards of Netflix's original offerings, and recommended it to anybody who was already a subscriber.
  • Maniac (the 2013 remake): Didn't review it, but in the Big Picture episode "Summer's End" he cited it as one of his top ten movies of summer 2013. It breathes new life into the seemingly played-out slasher genre by telling the story from the killer's perspective, and a terrifying performance by Elijah Wood as the titular maniac and an unflinching brutality make this one of those films that you'll never forget however hard you try.
  • Mank: It was Netflix gunning full-steam ahead at invoked Oscar gold with a film about vintage Hollywood made by an acclaimed director with an All-Star Cast (led by Gary Oldman as a Sophisticated as Hell, self-destructive screenwriter) in a deliberately anachronistic visual style... and yet, despite its subject matter being right up Bob's alley, he didn't find it all that good. Oldman's epic Large Ham performance as Herman J. Mankiewicz was amazing to watch, and the production values were absolutely impeccable, yet the liberties it took with the facts of Mankiewicz's life, especially in how it embraces Pauline Kael's controversial argument that he and not Orson Welles was the real creative force behind Citizen Kane, were so absurd that he spent the whole movie expecting an Unreliable Narrator twist that never came. This wouldn't have been a problem, if not for the fact that the film's target audience was film geeks like himself who would've known enough about the real Mankiewicz to pick out the inaccuracies. Worse, the mangling of history was done in such a way that it felt designed to deliver a message and invoke Values Resonance, which only brought the film to a screeching halt. Overall, he gave it a 5 out of 10, calling it stylistically gorgeous but thematically shallow.
  • Man of Steel: "Or, as it's known around my house, Please Don't Suck, Please Don't Suck, Please Don't Suck, Please Don't Suck." Before it came out, he discussed his thoughts on it in the Intermission editorials "And Who, Disguised as Clark Kent", "The Uncertain Future", and his analyses of the film's trailers. He felt that it was a good idea to go back to Superman's origin story — even though everybody knows it, it had been 35 years since it was last depicted on the big screen. He also felt that the film should take advantage of Superman's effective invincibility and go for broke with the action scenes, as well as bring some genuine romance and sex appeal to the character, which are reasons why he was excited about Zack Snyder's involvement with the film but discouraged by Christopher Nolan's. The first trailer's Nolan-esque tone had him worried, as does Warner Bros.' historic track record of having a hard time making good films based on their non-Batman DC properties, but the second trailer raised his spirits.

    When it came time to review it, he called it "solid but profoundly problematic," his enthusiasm about Snyder being perfect for the material and fears about Nolan being all wrong for it both being confirmed. It failed when it came to plot and writing, largely due to Nolan and David Goyer's love of intricate plot mechanisms and over-explanations that, in this film, only weigh down the plot and go nowhere. They seem to miss the point of Superman/Clark Kent as a character completely, turning him into a combination of a '90s Anti-Hero and their take on Batman, with Bob calling this "a Superman movie for people who never liked Superman." On the other hand, he felt that it was "damn near a masterpiece" when it came to Snyder's eye for great visuals and action, and the cast largely rises above the material (particularly Michael Shannon doing an amazing General Zod). Overall, while he hopes the inevitable sequel finds much better writers and throws out this film's Darker and Edgier attitude, he still recommends it.

    Over time, however, as he rewatched the film and thought about it, his opinion soured dramatically, and he concluded that his initial review was far too generous. He discussed his reasons why in the Big Picture episodes "Man of Tomorrow" and "The Big Letdown", and the Intermission editorial "Super Dark" (warning: spoilers). He criticized what he felt was a nearly unrecognizable depiction of Superman, including the decision to have him break his Thou Shalt Not Kill rule, and worried about the omnipresence of Darker and Edgier attitudes in modern blockbusters. He argued that, while a better film (like Nolan's own The Dark Knight) could have overcome these problems, Man of Steel’s glaring storytelling problems and lack of understanding of what it wanted to be only made them stand out more. He named it the most disappointing film of summer 2013 and his least favorite film of the entire year, insisted that people writing Superman stories were supposed to try harder, and said he wasn't all that enthusiastic for a sequel.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: He gave a lot of coverage to the film before its release — in his Big Picture recap of the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, in his Intermission editorial "World's Finest", in the Big Picture episodes "Batfleck" and "Junk Drawer 2014", in a Screen Rant editorial, and in an In Bob We Trust episode. He felt that Warner Bros. was Dramatically Missing the Point of all the criticism that Man of Steel had gotten, and that simply throwing Batman into the next Superman movie would only reinforce the underlying problems with the last film's Darker and Edgier attitude. The announcement that there would be an R-rated director's cut only reinforced his concerns, making him fear for the content of the actual film itself and wonder if superhero movies weren't going down the same road to ruin that ultimately destroyed the comic book industry. He also felt that their plans for the film were all wrong without Wonder Woman, though he dropped that complaint after it was revealed that she would indeed appear in the film. Lastly, he had utter disdain for Jesse Eisenberg's take on Lex Luthor, feeling that the trend of making supervillains a knockoff of either Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg is completely played out, and also painfully dated with a real-life supervillain running for President of the U.S. at the time of the film's release.

      That said, the mere idea of a "Batman versus Superman" movie, cynical business practice though it may be, still grabbed his attention, while the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman caused his anticipation to jump for a number of reasons (and left him wondering why so many other people hated it). He concluded that a Batman/Superman crossover will likely have the two of them fighting at some point, given both Man of Steel’s example and the longstanding dark attitude of recent Batman films and comics alike. He was also perfectly fine with Doomsday being relegated to a throwaway last-act villain in the DCEU, having never found the character at all interesting in the first place, with all the neat stuff about his killing Superman coming after his role in it. He also reacted to the news of Dwayne Johnson being cast in a role (which later turned out to be Black Adam) to argue that he might actually make a great Lex Luthor. He feels that having his character be a fitness nut on top of being a super-genius would mesh well with the Post-Crisis incarnation of the character as a self-made businessman who resents the very idea of Superman, seeing him as someone who never had to work for what he has.

      When it came time to review the film, however, he was aghast at how much it infuriated him and released a brutal, vitriolic takedown, calling it "a full-blown, top-to-bottom, all-encompassing disaster" among many more colorful, hyperbolic, and scatological descriptions. He compared it to a real-life Springtime for Hitler gambit, one created by somebody who hated superhero movies and could spend $400 million on a film designed to embody everything wrong with the genre in an attempt to kill it stone-dead, and the fact that the basic blueprint for this film and the future of the DCEU made (on the surface) perfect sense from a business standpoint made it downright baffling how everything went wrong. Its attempt to combine Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman (the first comic he considers good but overrated by fanboys and the second he outright dislikes for wasting such a monumental event on a painfully literal Generic Doomsday Villain and the equally painfully meaningless "mystery" in the Return of Superman arc) produced a convoluted-yet-simplistic plot that chickened out on the bigger ideas it tilted at, seeming to be more interested in trying to set up the DC Extended Universe than in telling a coherent story of its own while wandering into some very unfortunate territory in its themes by virtue of its sheer incompetence. There were so many awful moments that they all started to blend together, though if he had to point to three scenes that truly exemplified everything wrong with the film, he'd go with the franchise-baiting video file scene, the "save Martha!" scene, and worst of all, Bruce Wayne's Nightmare Sequence. The production design was visually ugly, and Snyder's direction and the idealized hypermasculinity on display was Testosterone Poisoning in all the worst ways, with Bob calling it "the bastard offspring of Robert Mapplethorpe and Vince McMahon". His suspicion about Eisenberg making for a terrible Lex Luthor was confirmed, calling him one of the worst comic book movie villains of all time due to his "quirky" characteristics that don't mean anything even though they are evidently supposed to, inconsistent motives and overdone, unrealistically far-reaching Evil Plan that made no sense, and Henry Cavill and Amy Adams get off little better — Cavill ends up playing Superman as overly aloof and absent and the screenplay bends over backwards to cringeworthy degrees to accommodate Adam's Lois Lane in the story. The only joy he could mine from the film was a perverse fascination with watching Warner Bros. enter panic mode, as the tentpole they expected to hold up a massive franchise and years' worth of blockbusters turned out to be a total disaster. He has called it not only his least favorite film of 2016 by a long shot, but also possibly the most disastrous Hollywood film to that point in the 21st century, viz. the disparity between the talent and budget assembled for the film, its historic noteworthiness, and the amount of hype behind it versus the quality of the finished product.

      Bob would later make a special one-off, three-part "Really That Bad" episode to explore the movie's failing. He wondered if Snyder, despite his admiration for the director's previous work, was simply wrong for the material from the outset because of his invokedMisaimed Fandom for Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, his general fanboyism for The Dark Age of Comic Books, and his apparent Objectivist views that clash with the altruistic Superman ethos. Bob also criticizes how the movie tried to have its cake and eat it by making its title characters Not as You Know Them yet relying on familiarity with them for its emotional weight to carry, and especially that Snyder didn't seem to understand what Deconstruction involves or even have a point to it. The movie's flaws can be best encapsulated by the overhyped, lackluster fight between Batman and Superman. Instead of delivering either over-the-top spectacle or insightful character drama, Snyder instead simply lifted the imagery of The Dark Knight Returns from the Bat Power Suit to Superman's hyper-masculine physique without realizing that the source material's style was designed to satirize the two characters, not to iconify them. Ultimately, the movie represents everything wrong with the shared cinematic universe business model and why the DCEU failed where the MCU succeeded.
  • Man of Tai Chi: Chose to review it because (A) nothing interesting came out that week, and (B) it's the directorial debut of Keanu Reeves, whom Bob considers to be one of the most interesting big-name actors in Hollywood. The plot is a martial arts movie Cliché Storm, and Reeves' inexperience as a director shows with the film's pacing issues, but the film makes up for it with some incredible and brutal fight scenes and choreography. Plus, it comes with an interesting third-act twist that makes the time-worn "martial arts death match tournament" plot seem at least somewhat plausible for once.
  • Man of the House: " of those bad comedies that probably lost any chance it had to be any good the moment someone decided 'it can't not work!'" Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. To the film's credit, the idea of Tommy Lee Jones as a Texas Ranger forced to shack up with ditzy sorority sisters is a good one, but it proceeds to go about that idea as lazily as possible, with all of the characters being horribly underwritten, Jones' character coming off as a creep given his preoccupation with the girls' skimpy outfits, and there are barely enough good jokes to fill a two-and-a-half-minute trailer. He gave it 2 out of 10, its only redeeming value being for fans of bared female flesh — and if he wanted that, he could watch porn.
  • Man on Fire: One of Tony Scott's most successful and visually aggressive films, which Bob calls the blueprint for Taken. He also notes the Unfortunate Implications of its caricaturing of its Mexican villains. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial "Remembering Tony Scott, Part 2", a retrospective of the late Scott's career.
  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote:invoked The story of its near-mythic Troubled Production was probably more interesting than the film itself, which came off like Terry Gilliam retreading themes he'd explored better in his earlier films. Still, it's decent on its own merits, with Jonathan Pryce being the comic standout as a mad actor who believes himself to be Don Quixote and the film getting a lot of mileage out of exploring the classism and paternalism that often comes with romanticized visions of medieval Europe, even if the smaller budget and scope put a spotlight on Gilliam's shortcomings with crafting fleshed-out characters (especially female ones). Overall, it got 6 out of 10, with Bob saying it was worth watching if only to see the product of twenty-five notorious years of Development Hell at last.
  • The Man with the Iron Fists: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in an interview with the film's director and star, The RZA (in the Intermission editorial "Enter the 36th Chamber"). They discussed why Hong Kong martial arts movies were so popular in black inner-city America, as well as The RZA's experiences working around China's Culture Police (the film was shot in Shanghai) and how his experience mediating the clashing egos in the Wu-Tang Clan prepared him for a film shoot.
  • The Many Saints of Newark: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it an honorable mention for his most anticipated films of 2020 on the strength of it being a prequel to The Sopranos with a great cast behind it.
  • The Martian: "Holy fucking shit, does it feel good to love a Ridley Scott movie again." Bob called it the best movie he'd seen so far in 2015 (a meaningful compliment in early October) and Scott's best film since the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven, a movie where everything, from the writing to the direction to the acting to the soundtrack, comes together and simply works — and what more appropriate meta-narrative for a film about how characters overcome their predicaments in that very way? To its credit, it realizes that its title character, the Insufferable Genius astronaut stranded on Mars, can be an ass at times even with Matt Damon's incredible performance, and it solves this problem by putting just as much focus on the people back on Earth trying to bring him home. The result is a love letter to the pursuit of knowledge that avoids the pitfalls of similar recent films about space travel (citing Gravity’s "tacked-on personal growth narrative" and Interstellar’s "pseudo-spiritual bullshit" as specific examples), and while he admits that he's incredibly biased towards that sort of thing, he feels confident that this is a legitimately great film even discounting his own views. At the end of 2015, he named it his favorite movie of the year.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: He's a big fan, and has reviewed all of its cinematic entries released so far. In commemoration of Avengers: Infinity War, he released a video listing his most and least favorite films and TV shows in the MCU. Many of his reviews are gushing, but he doesn't hesitate to criticize things about it that don't work, with the TV shows in particular being a mixed bag for him. Not every entry is a masterpiece, but none of them is outright bad,note  and he believes that the franchise has developed an efficiency that would allow it to overcome any that were; the sheer lack of outright bad movies is sometimes spooky for him, but he has noted that after Spider-Man: Homecoming was (in his opinion) not that great, he has stopped actively wishing for underperforming in the Marvel machinery. Bob also considers it the best possible way to do a shared cinematic universe business model, maintaining that the general lack of invokedContinuity Lockout and emphasis on making its entries good movies first, part of a larger whole second means each film has the potential to shine on its own merits, while the Character Development between the big team-up movies ensures that the broader narrative is richer in said team-up movies such as The Avengers (2012) and Captain America: Civil War. He also views its grounding of inter-film connectivity and world-building in post-credits scenes, organically-integrated cameos, and random background references to be the best possible way to do so, and feels that failing to grasp this is a big part of why the DC Extended Universe and the Dark Universe haven't enjoyed the same success.

    In the In Bob We Trust episode "The Disney Conspiracy", he thinks that a big part of why this series has won the affection of film critics, despite the old stereotype of popcorn action movies being ill-regarded by such, is because of a paradigm shift in film criticism in the 21st century that affords more respectability to unabashedly populist, mass-market films like these — a shift that can also be seen in the music world during that same time with the emergence of "poptimism", the growing critical respect for and attention paid to pop music. He discussed this further in the Big Picture episode "Old Man Yells At Crowd",note  specifically how this fact had created a generational divide in Hollywood among both journalists and filmmakers, exemplified by Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola's then-recent criticism of the MCU as not being "real" cinema. He believes that the backlash against the MCU is because its serialized model is completely unlike anything else in Hollywood, especially the model of the '70s New Hollywood that, for decades, has been synonymous with "good movies". He also argues that that the rise of the MCU is less a cause of the transformation of Hollywood than an effect of the new technology that has actually transformed Hollywood; the reason why he feels there are so few big-budget movies about criminals, cops, lawyers, and family drama nowadays is because of the explosion of cable and streaming in the 21st century offering so many more options for viewers, and that the rise of the superhero blockbuster is simply Hollywood adapting by delivering the kind of spectacle that you can't do on a TV budget.

    At the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic forcing Hollywood to postpone nearly all of its big movies in 2020, he devoted the Big Picture episode "The Year We Had No Heroes" to how this affected the MCU specifically, noting that 2020 was the first year since 2009 without an MCU movie releasing in theaters. Along with the damage done to the lives of millions of people who worked in the entertainment industry, he also saw a degree of Dramatic Irony in it: just as Americans watched the institutions they trusted fail them over and over again during the pandemic, the superheroes literally did not show up to save the day in their entertainment either. He was also infuriated by the people who, for various reasons (many of which he felt were invoked unsavory), seemed to relish the absence of superhero movies due to the pandemic, feeling that, for all their purported concern about the plight of the working class and the power of major media corporations, their decision to actively spurn one of the most commercially successful film franchises in history was about as anti-populist as it got.
  • Mary Poppins Returns: Found it "really pretty delightful" once he let himself get swept up in it, largely due to how it managed the trick of recreating the magic of the original Mary Poppins film even if it undoubtedly lived in its shadow and lacked some of its depth. Everything ranged from good to great, with only a few superfluous moments, and Emily Blunt pulled off the seemingly impossible task of living up to and matching Julie Andrews' legendary performance as Mary Poppins. That said, he wondered how it would play for people who weren't nostalgic for the original, noting that it seemed to be aimed at an older target audience than the twenty- and thirtysomethings that Disney's other live-action remakes were oriented towards. Nevertheless, he gave it three stars and called it a good sequel to a great movie, saying that anybody who watches it will have a really good time.
  • The Mask: A fun little action-comedy, with Jim Carrey's usual comic routine augmented by CGI to great effect (even if the effects haven't aged particularly well). A young Cameron Diaz was also a sight to behold here. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial "When Jim Carrey Ruled the World", a retrospective of Carrey's '90s career.
    • Son of the Mask: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. It's the sort of movie that makes critics wonder if their work is really necessary, a stinker that anybody with any taste can smell from a mile away. It takes the lazy route of making a sequel, copying all the original's gags while telling a story that seems like it's convoluted for the sake of it.note  The film transgresses the line between harmless slapstick and Family-Unfriendly Violence in a way that only proves just how hard slapstick comedy is to do well, while the plot is garbage and Jamie Kennedy is very much a Poor Man's Substitute for Jim Carrey. He gives it 1 out of 10 and says it's even worse than it looks.
  • The Master: Probably going to wind up as Paul Thomas Anderson's least popular movie due to the fact that it's also his least showy and visually elaborate, lacking many of the memorable scenes, moments and setups that make the rest of his filmography so popular with mainstream moviegoers. It's a shame, too, because it's at least as good as There Will Be Blood, with Joaquin Phoenix delivering his best performance to date. And no, despite what you may have heard, it's not the anti-Scientology hit piece that everybody expected it to be — though it does take a few digs at the movement, the Cause feels like it could be a stand-in for any abusive cult and not necessarily a specific one.
  • The Matrix: Devoted an episode of Really That Good to the film. It's up there with Star Wars as one of "the most over-analyzed, over-discussed, obsessively over-picked-apart" films since A New Hope came out that wasn't a derivative work, largely because it was one of the first big Hollywood movies in a while that had any depth and intelligence to its exploration of big ideas.note  Its style and aesthetic, inspired by video games, anime, and Hong Kong Heroic Bloodshed films, also utterly revolutionized action movies to such a degree that the action genre can be neatly divided into 'pre-1999' and 'post-1999' periods, the latter period being when geek culture fully invaded and took over the genre. He notes that the likes of Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity, a crew of black-clad tricksters and martial artists who run around causing chaos and murdering authority figures as part of a plot to bring down the system, likely would have been the villains in many action films made during the "beefcake era" of The '80s and early '90s. Coming out of the milieu of the Lowest Common Denominator Summer Blockbusters of The '90s, a film where the Action Heroes spend their time between the big shootouts and kung fu fights discussing complex philosophical themes was unlike anything that anybody had ever seen.

    Going deeper, he finds that a big part of why The Matrix was so popular was because it spoke to the youth of the '90s as much as Easy Rider did with the burned-out counterculture of The '60s, taking the apathy and ennui that many young people had towards the stability of the time and fusing it with the emerging technology of the internet to carve out a radically new vision of the future. Its basic message about the world being an impossibly big place that chews people up and operates by its own bizarre logic is one with near-universal appeal to angsty teenagers and college kids who think that life is stacked against them, and far from dumbing the film down, this is actually a key reason why the film works so well. At its core, it is a Wish-Fulfillment fantasy with an adolescent sensibility that acts as a validation of everything its target audience believed about both themselves and the world at large, set as it is in a world where knowledge is quite literally power and where that knowledge can be used to reshape the world in one's own image. This conceit also acts as a surprisingly effective translation of some very old-fashioned philosophical concepts, ranging from Buddhism to gnosticism to transcendental meditation. Flowing logically from this are the film's LGBTQ2 themes, particularly in light of The Wachowskis having both come out as transgender since then. It is easy to read Neo's story — alienation from the broader world, discomfort in his own skin, escape in online communities, and persecution by Agent Smith, a paragon of traditional masculinity who tauntingly addresses him by his old name Thomas Anderson — as a reflection of the anxieties of many closeted transgender people.

    That said, Bob does see the film as one of his "problematic faves", to use terminology that admittedly carbon-dated the episode. Stripped of its deeper themes and characterization, the basic plot description can come across as ridiculous '90s edginess taken to over-the-top extremes that errs one time too many on the side of endorsing violence against the system and society at large, the dark side of the adolescent mentality that also underpins the film's best elements. Unlike, for example, Fight Club, another popular 1999 film based on similar themes, which deconstructs such Black-and-White Morality, The Matrix commits to it while keeping its message malleable and shallow enough that it can speak to just about anyone. He thinks this is also part of the reason why, despite the film's LGBTQ2 themes and the racial and sexual diversity of its protagonists, it has also attracted a sizable Periphery Demographic of rabid misogynists who infamously latched onto the Red Pill, Blue Pill scene as a rallying cry for their movement. Even though the film itself was written and directed by two trans women, and that scene is of "a black man telling a clueless white guy that he literally needs to get 'woke'", the film's text is too shallow to discredit that far-right reading; it's not a Misaimed Fandom. Even so, despite how poorly some elements of the film may have aged, the body of it still holds up as both an entertaining action movie and as a true auteur piece with many layers yet to be uncovered.
    • The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions: Discussed them as part of his Really That Good episode on the original film, breaking his rule against discussing sequels to his Really That Good subjects because he saw the two films as the Wachowskis responding to and deconstructing some of the Unfortunate Implications of the original. It all comes down to the infamous Architect scene in Reloaded. As poorly directed and acted as it is, it's still vitally important to understanding the franchise and the Wachowskis' vision, as it reveals the first film's entire adolescent moral architecture to be built on a foundation of sand and the heroes' rebellion against the machines to be just another layer of their control — a coldly calculated middle finger to everybody who bought into the first movie's message of rebelling against The Man. Bob goes so far as to compare Neo, as he's portrayed in that moment, to Kendall Jenner in the infamous Pepsi commercial that came out while he was making the video. It comes up throughout the rest of both films as well, which seem to go out of their way to portray the protagonists as misguided fools who don't care about the lives they're destroying in their quest to 'solve' what amount to First World Problems, culminating in Revolutions ending on a note of human-machine coexistence that flatly rebukes the message of rebellion of the first film. As genuinely flawed and uneven as both films are, he sees them as vital to expanding one's knowledge of the original film and its creators' intentions.
    • The Matrix Resurrections: Called it one of the better additions to the 2010s and 2020s trend of making 'nostalgia sequels' to Gen-X franchises for millennials that melded its text and metatext (in this case, "disillusioned elders of the Matrix generation" reminding themselves that social progress is not linear but that their past efforts weren't in vain), and ironically, it worked because the creators (mainly Lana Wachowski returning to direct it alone) knew it couldn't outdo the original and settled for just being good enough. As what amounted to a Clip Show and partial self-Fix Fic for the original trilogy, it was pretty good, but it was still about on par with the previous films insofar as it was much surer of its aesthetics than its narrative cohesion and hadn't a drop of subtlety in its allegory. What pushed it ahead of similar films was that Keanu Reeves delivered another surprisingly emotionally deep performance that reminded Bob of his work in Bill & Ted Face the Music and that Jessica Henwick got to show her own chops in a distinctly better overall production than Iron Fist (2017). He gave it a 7 out of 10 and called it an unexpected return to form.
  • Max Mon Amour: Discussed it in the In Bob We Trust episode "Kink Kong" as part of the run-up to the release of Kong: Skull Island, mainly for its Bestiality Is Depraved premise (a man finds out that his wife is carrying on an affair with a chimpanzee) and its use of such to satirize stereotypes of both British Stuffiness and libertine French sexual mores. It's a very funny movie, both for the outrageous lengths it goes with its premise and for how it applies that to a more conventional 'wacky animals causing chaos' formula à la Beethoven, and it's also got some great effects work for the titular chimp courtesy of Rick Baker.
  • The Maze Runner (2014): Called it one of those movies, to cite what he's aware is a cliché, that's "good until it's not". The first two acts aren't great science fiction, but they're pretty original and very well-made, especially by the standards of a YA adaptation. However, the film largely falls apart towards the end and becomes much more mundane, finishing off with a poorly-handled ending that served only to tease a sequel. Still, it got Bob's (lukewarm) recommendation and a grade of three stars as one of the better films in theaters at the moment, with him finding that the good parts were good enough to outweigh the bad.
    • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of The Death Cure, saying that he was pretty sure that half of what he remembered from this was actually from one of the Divergent films.
    • Maze Runner: The Death Cure: It's pretty much exactly what you think, a YA dystopia Cliché Storm that he called "not so much bad as it is dull and pointless". It spends too much of its first two acts on world-building that accomplishes little except to bloat the film, the important stuff is back-loaded into the finale, and the action scenes are fairly rote and unmemorable, serving as little beyond a demo reel for the film's young stars should they seek to do more action movies as adults. Worse, once the grand sweep of the story is laid out at the end, it only convinced Bob that the series should have been just one film. He gave it one and a half stars and called it a mediocre film that probably should have (and, if not for Dylan O'Brien's life-threatening on-set injury, likely would have) come out a couple of years ago when the iron was still hot.
  • Mazes and Monsters: A terrible attempt to cash in on the anti-Dungeons & Dragons moral panic of the '80s that feels like what would result from Jack Thompson writing and directing The Wizard. For his money, it's also the worst film ever inspired by D&D, including the infamous first official adaptation. Didn't review it, but he mentioned it in his discussion of Dungeons & Dragons adaptations.
  • The Meg: Said that it felt "like a movie from about fifteen years ago that somebody lost in a bunker, found, and decided to release today" in that it was a big Summer Blockbuster that wasn't at all self-consciously winking about the fact that it was basically B-Movie schlock on a nine-figure budget. Fortunately, it was still a fun movie in spite of itself. It takes its "Jason Statham vs. giant killer shark" premise and exploits it very well with both solid action and Statham delivering the kind of performance that only he can, and while it was fairly formulaic and bloodless (he wished it were rated R instead of PG-13) and had a fair bit of reverse-Mighty Whitey going with its heroic Chinese characters (as is not uncommon in these sorts of Hollywood-Chinese coproductions), it still earned three stars, with Bob calling it "a good enough version of exactly what it says it is."
  • Men in Black:invoked The first film was very good, combining a clever premise with a witty script that parodied the sci-fi blockbusters of the late '90s, all while remaining small-scale enough to avoid getting bloated and overstaying its welcome. Unfortunately, the second film ruined what could have been a promising franchise by recycling the first film's plot in a failed attempt to recapture its character dynamic rather than building upon its foundation. He feels that, at this point, rebooting the franchise with a focus on the rest of the agency would be the best idea. Didn't review them, but he discussed them in the Big Picture episode "The Boot, Part One" and in his reviews of the third and fourth films …
  • Meow: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Look What The Cat Dragged In" after showing clips of it in his review of Cats. He discussed how Hong Kong film comedy in general often skews very young, very broad, and very cartoonish, hence the decision to make a CGI-heavy family comedy about a very large cat in the first place, as well as how the film served mainly as a showcase for a special effects company. Save for a good joke about how cats have already conquered Earth by making humans pamper them (the plot concerning a race of feline aliens trying to Take Over the World), it's a invoked Cliché Storm of a family film that's no different from the kind of dumb films in that vein that Hollywood normally puts out, though he found it charming enough for little kids, especially those with parents who want to get them into subtitled movies.
  • Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen's best film in a long time, one of the best comedies of the year, and a great exploration of our current nostalgia-obsessed pop culture. Didn't review it, but at the end of 2011 he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.
  • Midsommar: Much like its predecessor Hereditary, this film left Bob wondering whether writer/director Ari Aster was "brilliant or full of shit" in how it combined a seemingly highbrow aesthetic with decidedly lowbrow sex and violence, in a manner not unlike the Italian giallo filmmakers who clearly influenced Aster — and also like Hereditary, its mix of inspirations produced quite an effective horror film. Its story won't really surprise anybody who's seen a horror movie about people getting sucked into cults, but he still gave it a 6 out of 10, calling it a mild Sophomore Slump for Aster but still worth seeing for its style.
  • The films of Takashi Miike: He devoted a Big Picture episode to his filmography, calling him "The Man of a Hundred Movies" for how prolific he is, especially at his height when he would make five or more movies a year, and how he has an excellent batting average for a filmmaker who cranks out movies so fast. He described Miike's filmmaking philosophy, rooted in the economics of Japan's "V-cinema" Direct to Video market, as building an entire film as leading up to a single invoked Money-Making Shot that would get people telling each other "dude, you have to see this!", hence his reputation as a master of shock value. He also discussed Miike's background as a member of Japan's nikkei community, ethnic Japanese people whose families had immigrated abroad and then returned to Japan only to be distrusted by their fellow Japanese for being too "assimilated" into foreign cultures, and how this led to a tradition of underdog protagonists in his stories. He noted how Miike, despite never fully abandoning his scrappy Exploitation Film roots, pivoted from shock horror and gangster films to more mainstream and even family-friendly fare (including Idol x Warrior Miracle Tunes!, a show that earned a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer) later in his career, demonstrating that he had the aptitude to pull off both to the point where he earned a whole new fanbase of tweens largely unfamiliar with his more graphic films.
  • Mindhunters: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. It was a predictable, ho-hum Slasher Movie dressed up as a Psychological Thriller, elevated only by the campy thrills of Renny Harlin's direction and the honesty it had with regards to the fact that the death traps were the star of the show.
  • Mirror, Mirror: "Probably gonna top a lot of 'year's worst' lists." Specifically singles out Julia Roberts' inability to carry the film as one of his biggest criticisms. Didn't review it, but he mentioned it during his Wrath of the Titans review.
  • Miss Bala: Despite a topical and progressive-sounding premise (e.g. an action movie about a Latina heroine battling cartel villains representative of toxic masculinity, all amidst a morally gray portrait of the Mexican drug war), it managed to completely squander any promise it may have had, and earned only one star. It failed as both a character piece and a sexy action thriller, its ostensible protagonist lacked any real agency, the plot got bogged down in convolution in the second act and felt more like an origin story for a franchise than a complete story in its own right, and its transformation into the action movie it promised during the climax felt like too little, too late.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series: invokedHe feels that none of the films ever rose above average, and he's never really understood why they're as popular as they are. While he thinks that the appeal to mass audiences of A-list actors saving the world through ridiculous explosions and stuntwork is obvious, he doesn't get why film critics also seem to enjoy this series, given that he finds it to be very mediocre in comparison to other contemporary action films (even a number of those made by people who have worked on these films). The only thing the movies really have going for them, the iconic Theme Tune, is taken from the TV series. The plots are threadbare, there are only a few memorable action set pieces across the entire franchise, and the actors are usually phoning it in — even Tom Cruise, normally acclaimed for these films, has done the same shtick better elsewhere, with Bob arguing that Cruise's continued embrace of the franchise represents a retreat from the promise he showed as an actor in The '90s. He holds up the Fast and the Furious franchise as a counterpoint to it, arguing that, while that series of dumb action movies eventually grew into its own with its forward-thinking worldview and unapologetic embrace of its camp appeal without losing its earnestness, this one is still the same plodding thing it was in 1996, owing its reputation more to nostalgia for the "good old days" of summer blockbusters than anything. In addition to his review of the sixth film, Fallout, he mentioned them in his "The Look Ahead" special on Escape to the Movies while discussing Ghost Protocol, later compared Ghost Protocol to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows in his weekly Intermission editorial "Double Vision", and did an In Bob We Trust episode on the series.
    • Mission: Impossible: Says that it's the only film in the series that had an actual story to it, and that was largely because it was Brian De Palma doing his Hitchcockian throwback style in the context of a big summer action movie, which ultimately didn't amount to much outside of the twist.
    • Mission: Impossible II: Felt that it was only memorable because it had the audacity to rip off the plot of Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious.
    • Mission: Impossible III: Argued that, by this point, the plots to these films had become such shallow excuses to get to the action that it outright turned the apathy regarding the story into a joke, the film never actually explaining what the MacGuffin is for or what it does.
    • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol: Felt that it "kinda sucks" and that it was let down by shallow writing and characters, to the point where he challenged viewers to tell him what the plots of this film and the next film, Rogue Nation, were without looking them up, but in this case, Brad Bird's eye for action saved it.
    • Mission: Impossible – Fallout: invokedThis film's dependence on audiences remembering characters and events from previous films became its Achilles' Heel, given his aforementioned problems with the series as a whole in that department. The inconsequential plot made it hard for him to care about it on anything more than a visceral level, and the plot twists often felt more like ass pulls pulled off to diminishing returns every time. That said, the action was some of the best in the series, especially in comparison to other action films released in 2018, and the cast was good (save for Henry Cavill, who Bob started to think wasn't just poorly directed by Zack Snyder when he played Superman), such that he gave it a three-star rating that, even at the time of the review, he felt he'd probably look back on as overly generous in hindsight.
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: Tim Burton's best movie in a while — and it's that much more impressive that the source material here was seemingly tailor-made for his sensibilities and he didn't screw it up as he did with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. Like Burton's best-remembered movies, it has big ideas, iconic characters, great atmosphere, and gorgeous visuals, but still has a shaky grasp on narrative cohesion. It's really just the same story as X-Men, and it even shares the formulaic plot structure of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and other similar properties revolving around superhuman children learning to use their powers for good: overlong, Info Dump-heavy first act gives way to truncated second act (thus abbreviating the audience's ability to get to know the characters emotionally), which in turn gives way to an all-out action-and-special-effects-heavy third act. Then again, the monsters used in this movie look genuinely amazing and every part is well-cast (Bob calls special attention to Eva Green as the titular Miss Peregrine and Samuel L. Jackson as probably the scariest villain in a big-budget Hollywood family film since Judge Doom). He gave it two and a half stars, saying, "[It's] a good movie that comes frustratingly close to being great, but on balance I'm recommending it."
  • Moana: "No, it's not as good as Frozen," but Bob liked it anyway, giving it three stars. Disney's embrace of Postmodernism from Tangled onward excuses how conventional this movie is otherwise, its story, character types, and music all being de rigueur for the studio by this point. He liked the minor tweaks to the formula very much, however: that the titular Disney Princess is meant to be an empowerment figure this time, that it's a story about an Indigenous Polynesian culture that depicts them very positively unlike too many of their past cinematic depictions, and its overall Aesop in favor of global citizenship, on which note he contended "a derivative setup was part of the point."
  • Monkey Shines: Devoted a "Schlocktober" episode of In Bob We Trust to it. It's not one of George A. Romero's best films, but it's certainly one of his most interesting, a great commentary on how society treats the disabled and often condescends to them. It's also quite effective as a horror film, taking its seemingly ridiculous "killer monkey" premise seriously and playing it out to its logical conclusion by way of a mix of a well-trained capuchin monkey and smart use of practical effects.
  • A Monster Calls: It's one of those movies that Bob hates having to review: one where you can tell that the people involved were genuinely trying to make a meaningful, thoughtful film with a powerful message, evoking classic family films like My Neighbor Totoro and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but still winding up with "an overblown, pretentious misfire." The setup is utterly saccharine, the manner in which the plot and messages are presented feels clunky, mechanical, and anvilicious to the point of robbing the film of all humanity, and the film's moral falls flat as a result. The only saving grace is that director J. A. Bayona is a highly competent visual technician, especially when it comes to the special effects. He gives it one-and-a-half stars and calls it "a bad movie doing an uncanny impression of a good one, but it wears off really quick."
  • Monster Hunter: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he named it an honorable mention for his most anticipated films of 2020, predicting that it would likely be "dumb as hell" but that he expected nothing less.
  • Monster-in-Law: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. He gave it a 0 out of 10 and named it an immediate candidate for the worst film of 2005, calling it "unfit for human consumption" and "an open wound on the skin of moviemaking" on account of Jennifer Lopez's character being a invoked Mary Sue, Jane Fonda's being a terribly-written White-Dwarf Starlet stereotype, both of them being insufferable, the film being built around them getting into screaming matches, and the token boyfriend character being a one-note Satellite Love Interest who contributed nothing to the plot.
  • The Monster Squad: Didn't review it, but in the Big Picture episode "The Boot, Part Two", he said it was good, but overrated by his generation, and doesn't hold up as well as similar movies like The Goonies. He says that it deserves to be remade, calling it one of those movies that's better remembered for the basic idea behind it than the actual execution.
  • Monsters: Hugely disappointed, feeling that the unlikable lead characters made it an utter slog to sit through.
  • Monsters, Inc.: Says that it and Finding Nemo are the Pixar films "least in need of a sequel". He also argues that it was their most subversive film until WALL•E, seeing the monsters' job of scaring children for their "fear energy" as a metaphor for the oil industry. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of its prequel...
    • Monsters University: It's not as good as the original, unavoidably lost a lot of heart by not being able to keep Boo around and in fact your enjoyment of it will likely be undercut if you've seen the original and its big reveal, but it's still a very funny movie, certainly better than another Cars film or the "noble misfire" that was Brave. Mike and Sully's Swapped Roles schtick was interesting, and he identified it as the movie's central gag. Randal's inclusion made him concerned the film-makers had forgotten the vile villain he was in the first movie, but fortunately his Start of Darkness side-arc is good enough for Bob's purposes. It's a great homage to '80s college comedies like Revenge of the Nerds (only a lot more G-rated, obviously) that doesn't quite knock it out of the park, but which still has some very funny and thrilling moments. The supporting players were adequate to requirements as well, but the best were the deceptively complex Dean Hardscrabble and Don Carlton, whose unemployed-guy-looking-to-retrain personality was "surprisingly topical".
  • MonsterVerse: Has reviewed each of its movies so far. While Godzilla (2014) wasn't up to snuff for the most part, he feels that the franchise invokedimproved its overall quality over time, with Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla vs. Kong both being solid films and him absolutely loving Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). Notably, Bob claimed during his Really That Bad video essay on Batman v Superman that the franchise's success proved that audiences will forgive a film's faults as long as it gives them solid entertainment, pointing out that enough of the global audience got on board thanks to them sticking the landing during the finale that the rest of the 2014 film's faults didn't matter.
  • The Monuments Men: A good movie, but one that fell short of greatness. Bob felt that a movie about the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Program during World War II was long overdue, and this film rises on the strength of its pedigree, its All-Star Cast led by George Clooney (who also directed), and its hearkening back to '50s/'60s WWII 'men on a mission' movies. However, its simplification of the story and an over-reliance on worn-out cliches keep it from rising to the heights to which it aspires. Reviewed it in the Intermission editorial "Monumental".
  • Moon: Didn't review it, but he discussed it at the start of his review of {MUTE}, calling it one of the best science fiction movies of the Turn of the Millennium. It boasted great production design, an outstanding star-making turn from Sam Rockwell, and, in hindsight, the best possible use of Kevin Spacey in a film (i.e. not actually having him on screen), and overall, it's the sort of debut that gets a filmmaker hailed as One to Watch; he laments how Duncan Jones, after a solid follow-up with Source Code, squandered all his promise on the WarCraft movie.
  • Moonfall: Called it a Genre Throwback to the non-superhero action sci-fi blockbusters of the '90s and '00s, with Roland Emmerich being the kind of filmmaker who can make this material work even at its silliest without resting on meta self-awareness, even if the best performances came from the actors who were clearly in on the joke. The plot was pure Emmerich Disaster Movie boilerplate played with complete sincerity, making for a "cozy, if not exactly celebratory, nostalgia trip" that ultimately wasn't enough to make Bob forget why this kind of movie went out of style in the first place (especially with an overreliance on CGI versus the practical effects that made Independence Day feel truly epic), but proved to be just goofy enough in how it invited viewers to turn off their brains for a good time that he gave it a 7 out of 10.
  • Moonlight (2016): Didn't review it, but at the end of 2016 he named it his third-favorite movie of the year. He thought it fulfilled Boyhood’s aspirations better by having things actually happen, not having to rely on "a long-form shooting gimmick", and commenting insightfully on "how our environment does (and does not) shape our performative manifestations of race, sexuality, masculinity, emotion, strength, and vulnerability."
  • Moonrise Kingdom: Called it "raw, exposed-nerve humanity" and a more affecting romance than any "grown-up" film that year. All of Wes Anderson's trademark strengths are on full display, helped along by the fact that the main characters are children, a natural fit for his sensibilities. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "Under the Radar".
  • Morbius (2022): He was blunt and to-the-point, opening his review with "it sucks, don't go see it, go see something else" and pretending to walk off before giving his actual review, which he ended halfway into the video so he could Leave the Camera Running for the sake of the ad revenue and occasionally ramble. It was a movie that everybody knew was going to be garbage from the moment they announced it, whose advertising made it look like garbage, and, to the surprise of nobody, turned out to be precisely the big, steaming pile of garbage they expected, the latest in Sony's desperate attempt to latch onto the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with what few character rights they had. It repeated all the mistakes of the Venom movies, but instead of Tom Hardy's performance to liven things up and make it a invoked So Bad, It's Good romp, this had Jared Leto underplaying his part and giving Dull Surprise as the title character. He didn't even bother to dignify it with a score, instead just telling viewers "don't watch Morbius. Don't contribute to the problem."
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he discussed his thoughts on it in the Big Picture episode "Next Light". Having looked up the books and spoiled the plot for himself, he wonders just how they're going to be able to put the first book's big twist on screen without causing a firestorm of outrage.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie: Didn't review it, but in the Game Overthinker episode "Going Hollywood", he cites it as an example of how to do a video-game-to-film adaptation right, adapting both the storyline of the series specifically and the mechanics of fighting games in general (basically, non-stop fight scenes that drive the plot forward). The only real problem it had was that it removed the one thing for which the games are best known, something that he felt could've been solved with a Hand Wave about the island granting its inhabitants a Healing Factor or Shang Tsung bringing dead fighters Back from the Dead after each fight. He discussed it again in a "How to Fix" episode of In Bob We Trust talking about a potential reboot of the films, elaborating on his thoughts about how to depict the graphic violence of the games without running out of characters (short version: he still likes the idea of the island being magic and healing the people on it). He later named it the fourth-best video game adaptation ever made.
    • Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge: It was at its best when it was telling a "ninja revenge" story focused on Scorpion, and less so when it tried to expand from there into a fighting tournament story. While the plot was dumb, it was "dumb in invoked exactly the way you want a Ninja movie to be", which was just what he was hoping for from a Mortal Kombat animated film (i.e. "excessively violent but excessively juvenile") even if its frequent Art Shifts meant that it lacked a singular, coherent aesthetic. However, the further it got from the basic plot of Scorpion vs. Sub-Zero, the more problems it had on a storytelling level, with most of the supporting cast being either dull or jobbed out. Overall, he gave it a 6 out of 10 and said that, while it was a mixed bag, it still gave him what he wanted such that he probably would've loved it if he'd seen it as a 13-year-old.
    • Mortal Kombat (2021): A film that unfortunately wound up invoked boring and mediocre despite its promise, especially since this was the sort of film that he felt needed to be either very good or at least So Bad, It's Good. The fight scenes were well-shot, it had all the gory, R-rated kills that one would logically demand from a Mortal Kombat movie (which he felt would make it Critic-Proof in the eyes of series fans), he appreciated how it put the ethnic diversity of the series' characters front and center, and it perked up during its more gleefully dumb moments (most notably when Kabal was on screen), but the plot was needlessly overcomplicated and focused way too much on lore at the expense of characters, narrative cohesion, and even action scenes, the main character was an empty cipher and a waste of his actor Lewis Tan's talents, and Sonya Blade's arc was cliched and ultimately gave her nothing to do. He gave it a 3 out of 10.
  • mother! (2017): It was "big swinging-dick show-off auteur filmmaking", a distillation of all of Darren Aronofsky's creator thumbprints into a single movie, to the point where it might well have been career suicide had he not already walked away clean from making Noah. It's also the sort of movie where Bob couldn't describe anything that happened after the first act except to say that it was "fucking nuts", the sort of thing that gets other, similar movies banned in various countries, as though Aronofsky watched The Neon Demon and decided that that film was child's play. It was exceptionally well-made on every technical level, with Jennifer Lawrence singled out for praise (especially after what felt like Money, Dear Boy performances in the last two X-Men movies and David O. Russell's late-period misfires), but it truly soared in the many themes it tackled head-on, from abusive relationships to how women suffer to support the dreams of the men in their lives. He gave it three-and-a-half stars and said that "I can't believe this exists, but I'm glad I saw it. At least once." At the end of 2017, he named it his ninth-favorite movie of the year.
  • Mothra: Discussed the series in the Big Picture episode "Queen of the Monsters". He talked about how the original 1961 film went out of its way to subvert many of the tropes of the emerging kaiju genre, specifically by having Mothra be a beautiful, elegant, and female-coded creature rather than a scary monster, with a plot that plays out like "King Kong turned inside out" in which she was the hero. From there, he had a laugh at how the American translators of Mothra vs. Godzilla, thinking that American audiences wouldn't take Mothra seriously, retitled it Godzilla vs. The Thing and cut trailers that didn't actually show Mothra, instead playing to Nothing Is Scarier to make the monster out to be even scarier than Godzilla. He felt that she was underused in the Heisei era of Godzilla films as a member of Godzilla's Rogues Gallery, but he liked the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy in The '90s for its High Fantasy trappings, even if he admitted that they skew heavily towards young girls and that they're fairly divisive among fans.
  • Mowgli: While he wanted to support this movie as much as anybody, especially given its invokedTroubled Production and first-time director Andy Serkis trying his hardest (even if he was also clearly gunning for the first Academy Award to be given to an actor playing a motion-capture character), the movie itself didn't work out. It had a great cast and a more daring premise than other adaptations of The Jungle Book and, of course, was buried partly by the monster success of Disney's most recent version. Even so, a combination of Executive Meddling and its own lack of polish sank this film: it was mostly flatly directed, it had a bad case of Mood Whiplash, the attempt at Darker and Edgier reimagining of the story didn't even go as far as Rudyard Kipling himself did in his last Mowgli story, the plot was different from The Jungle Book but very like any other jungle-set movie, and worst of all, the motion capture plunged headlong into the Unintentional Uncanny Valley with the faces of human actors obviously pasted onto the otherwise well-rendered animals. He gave it a star and a half, calling it no more than an impressive misfire.
  • Mr. Go: "Can somebody please bring [this film] to U.S. theaters? Pretty please?" Didn't review it, but he mentioned it at the end of his review of The Wolverine, and later went into more detail on it in the Big Picture episode "Super Monkey Ball", calling it "the craziest gorilla baseball movie you never saw." It was a mix of a movie about the Animal Athlete Loophole (in this case, a circus gorilla trained to hit home runs gets signed to a professional baseball team) and a special effects showcase for the production team behind it, out to show that they could do Hollywood-style CGI just as well as Hollywood itself, but what made it invoked truly bizarre and out-there was that it played out less like Air Bud and more like Moneyball, focusing on the off-the-field business politics surrounding the fact that there's a gorilla playing in the Korean major leagues. It also got a lot darker and more deconstructive than one might expect, from people questioning whether Mr. Go's trainer (a teenage girl) is actually communicating with him to the fact that somebody gets seriously injured due to the presence of a wild gorilla in a baseball stadium, even if it was still a family film at the end of the day. It was about as good as he could've hoped for given the kind of movie it was, and he found himself wishing they'd followed through on the Sequel Hook at the end.
  • Mulan (2020): invoked Before he reviewed it, he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Open Season II: Not So Fast", about the news that, amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic that had shut down American theaters, it would be the first Summer Blockbuster scheduled for 2020 to bite the bullet and go Direct to Video (specifically, becoming a premium-priced rental on Disney+) rather than be delayed to 2021. He felt bad for everybody involved with the film, not least of all director Niki Caro, whose first shot at making a big blockbuster action movie was now tainted by the direct-to-video stigma, which he suspected would not break down even amidst the pandemic causing a boom in streaming given that every other summer blockbuster has been pushed back to ensure that it goes to theaters.

    When he reviewed it, he called it pretty good, with a solid cast and action scenes that would likely be mind-blowing to younger viewers and definitely get the movie going once they kick in. However, he also found himself frustrated by it, as it was at its weakest when it was recreating the most important moments from the original, such that he found himself wishing for the musical numbers and Eddie Murphy's wisecracking dragon from the animated film to show up. He also found the changes made to the plot to turn it into a gender-flipped version of Star Wars, with Mulan as Luke and Xianniang as Darth Vader. Overall, he gave it a 7 out of 10, bumping his score up from a 6 out of 10 by the end thanks to a very strong finish. He also discussed the Disney Live-Action Remakes' place in film history as cultural artifacts, in this case of Disney's attempts to make more movies with female and non-white leads and expand their success in the Chinese market. The following week, he devoted a Big Picture episode to the myth of Hua Mulan and the controversy over whether or not she really existed.
  • The Mummy (2017):invoked He named it at #6 on his list of ten 2017 films that he most expected to suck. He feared it would be bad because the writing team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci had been behind bad Star Trek and Transformers movies, and the very idea of the Universal Monsters remade as a modern Modular Franchise bored him stiff just talking about it. The only thing that interested him about this was Sofia Boutella from Kingsman: The Secret Service playing the titular mummy. The review opened with a horrified "How did this happen!?!?" as he called the film a perfect object lesson in how not to set up a cinematic universe. Rather than follow the example of the MCU, still the only multi-film franchise to have done it right, the film makes the tedious exposition and world-building for future entries in the Dark Universe the main event, having hardly any interest in its title character despite Boutella trying her hardest to give a good performance in such an underwritten role. Instead, Tom Cruise was badly miscast as a complete blank slate protagonist who only exists to be The Watson as various people explain to him the world the Universal Monsters have been given to inhabit, and then the film had the nerve to act like an extremely vague tease that he'll be doing something in future films would get audiences hooked. The production also looked surprisingly cheap, though that could just be a product of first-time director Kurtzman's ineptitude in the job. He gave it one star and called it a ripoff of Army of Darkness that didn't realize that that film was meant as a comedy, the only good thing he had to say being that, if the Dark Universe continued in this vein (it didn't, much to his relief), it could have become a fascinating So Bad, It's Good train wreck. At the end of 2017, he named it his least favorite movie of the year, joking that it felt like Universal turned to Warner Bros. and asked "oh, you call that killing a franchise in the crib?"
  • The Muppets: Bob compares it to the recent reboots of The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks in terms of Human-Focused Adaptations of classic kids' shows, with one key difference: it doesn't suck. Instead, it's one of the funniest family films in a long while, and although it's not as good as the original Muppet Movie, it's still a worthy comeback for Jim Henson's classic characters. At the end of 2011, he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.
  • Murder on the Orient Express (2017): Adapting Agatha Christie's famous novel as a superhero movie may sound ridiculous, but that was exactly what happened — at least in the sense that it was a Comes Great Responsibility melodrama about a larger-than-life protagonist with a unique gift fighting for truth and justice (with director Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot taking on that role), not a frenetically edited, action-heavy mess like the then-recent Sherlock Holmes movies. While this version gave Poirot a character arc through which to work, otherwise it adapted the book faithfully, right down to the ending, which was all he could say about the plot without spoilers. It wasn't much more than a puzzle story about unpleasant characters trapped together in a confined setting, but it had Scenery Porn galore and Branagh's Poirot was a Large Ham to surpass his Hamlet — in a great way. While it was really a one-man show despite the All-Star Cast, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe, and Leslie Odom, Jr. nevertheless made their marks. It got three stars.
  • Mute: It's a throwback to Blade Runner that probably should have been made before somebody actually made a sequel to Blade Runner, as it probably would've felt more fresh, less derivative, and less problematic if Duncan Jones had made it as his follow-up to Moon instead of now. On the whole, it's a "flawed, but interesting minor work" that showcases Jones' technical acumen and skill with mood, characters, and Worldbuilding but suffers in terms of narrative structure, as its two story threads take far too long to fully come together and leave the film feeling like an intriguing Detective Drama that's needlessly interrupted by unrelated scenes designed to show off and flesh out its cyberpunk world. That said, the cast is excellent, especially Paul Rudd Playing Against Type as a sleazy asshole, and making Alexander Skarsgård's character Amish was a great way to have the Audience Surrogate be as clueless with the advanced technology on screen as the viewer, while also giving him character traits beyond his disability. Overall, he gave it two-and-a-half stars on the strength of its style over its substance.
  • My Spy: It was Dave Bautista following the Rated G for Gangsta path of countless action heroes before him by making a family-friendly action comedy pairing him up with a Tagalong Kid. He found it to be a really bad movie, even if the COVID-19 Pandemic slowing new releases to a crawl meant that he found it refreshing to finally watch a generically bad studio programmer again. Bautista's performance was the only saving grace and far better than the movie around him, whose writing felt like a lazy Random Events Plot, whose tone suffered from Mood Whiplash between its farcical comedy and the serious drama in Bautista's character, and whose jokes were frequently ripped off from better movies in this vein. He gave it a 3 out of 10 and said that one would be better served watching nearly anything else.

  • National Lampoon's Vacation: Did an episode of Really That Good about it, and also discussed it in his review of its 2015 sequel/reboot. It's a laugh-out-loud hysterical film, largely courtesy of some of the best work that Chevy Chase had done in his career (probably second in his prime only to Caddyshack, and rivaled since perhaps only by his role on Community), the film wisely making the best use of his talents by establishing his character Clark Griswold as the film's comedic centerpiece. Bob compares Clark to Inspector Clouseau without the accent, a buffoon who's just smart enough to realize his own failings but still thinks he can fool everyone around him into thinking he's smarter than he is, with often hilarious results.

    From there, Bob jumps off into the film's broader themes. He called it a "bizarre animal of a movie", a bridge of sorts between the raunchy, anarchic comedy of the '70s and the more High Concept comedies of the '80s. More specifically, it's a dressing down of a lot of the Baby Boomer mythos of the Reagan years, personified in the slow breakdown of Clark Griswold as he and his family get put through increasingly harrowing situations and his "suburban dad" mask starts to slip. Here, he looked at John Hughes' original 1979 short story Vacation '58, a much darker version of the same story that was written as a vivid deconstruction of the readers' nostalgia for their childhoods in The '50s. Whereas non-white and female comics attacked such viewpoints for their foundation in privilege and how they masked the oppression that went on during that time, Hughes was tearing it down from the inside, from Clark's perspective as a member of the privileged class realizing that the system wasn't delivering on its promises of happiness. The film, on the other hand, serves as a reconstruction of that same nostalgia, acknowledging just how tacky and phony so much of the iconography of the '50s was, but having Clark, even with all his flaws, still manage to make it real for his family through sheer force of will borne of a desire to give them the childhood he never had.

    This reconstruction has a dark side to it, though. This comes through chiefly with the film's more uncomfortable gags, which often feel like scenes of the people who had the most to gain from the Reagan years (the white suburbanite Griswolds) touring through the parts of the country inhabited by those who had been uprooted by the economic shifts of the '80s (the black people in the ghetto, the dirt-poor redneck Cousin Eddie, the grandmother), and inviting us to laugh at their misfortune. Between that and its fairly flat, amateurish direction, Vacation isn't a perfect film. However, what it does right is easily enough to make it a classic that's far greater than the sum of its parts.
    • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: He discussed it briefly in the aforementioned Really That Good episode, mainly to talk about how it wound up eclipsing the original film in the public eye — a tall feat given how the original is itself still a beloved comedy classic. Whereas the original film was far darker and more biting, this one was sentimental and sincere, and its success wound up coloring people's perception of the original, especially as far as Clark's character was concerned. Without this film, Bob wonders if people would still be talking about Vacation today.
    • Vacation: It's a funny film with a lot of great gags, but it lacks a lot of the depth and weight that made the original such a classic, too often feeling like a Random Events Plot instead. Overall, it's good, but forgettable.
  • Natural Born Killers: Didn't review it, but in the Game Overthinker episode "'GTA V' Is Not A Satire (*Probably)", he used the film to demonstrate the difference between parody and satire. The flashback scene showing Mallory's upbringing, done in the style of a Married... with Children-esque sitcom, was a satire of how that style of television often trivialized the abusive events that happen to its characters by playing them for laughs.
  • Need for Speed: "If [this] is indicative of the kind of films Electronic Arts wants to make, we're in for a lot of bad movies." The story would be comically bad if it weren't so boring, between its caricatured villain, its grasping nostalgia, and its nonsensical plot, feeling like Torque with none of the So Bad, It's Good charm. Furthermore, Aaron Paul is awful as the lead, feeling like a poor man's Tom Cruise or Christian Bale and falling into the trap of TV actors who try and fail to transition to film. Even the practical effects do little to add to the film.
  • Neighbors (2014): "The most genuinely freakin' hilarious movie I've seen in a while." He called it the first great comedy of 2014, noting that, while the premise sounds like the setup for a '90s ABC sitcom or yet another frat-house sex comedy, it's far better than that. He attributes this to a great cast (particularly Zac Efron breaking out of his Disney Channel Typecasting) and the fact that it's a lot smarter and more nuanced than movies of this ilk usually are.
  • The Neon Demon: Didn't review it, but he called it the best film of summer 2016 and his second-favorite of the entire year, though he can't go into much detail as to why he loved it so much beyond a vague Take Our Word for It, describing the experience of watching it blind as "the year's best prank you can play on yourself".
  • Never Too Young to Die: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a Big Picture episode on invoked So Bad, It's Good action movies to watch during quarantine. He compared John Stamos' character in this film to Uncle Jesse on Full House, only meant to be taken seriously as a tough guy, and the result was why he felt that Uncle Jesse was played as a parody of that kind of figure. The gag of casting George Lazenby as the protagonist's father and making this an unofficial "Young James Bond" film felt like it was meant to launch a franchise that was never meant to be, and Gene Simmons' Big Bad felt like a transphobic caricature even by the standards of The '80s. That said, when it comes to cheesy '80s action vehicles, there's a lot to recommend/laugh at with this one.
  • The Nice Guys: Didn't review it, but he called it the second-best film of summer 2016 and his fourth-favorite of the year, listing off writer-director Shane Black's pedigree, the cast, and the film's premise before calling it "a badass, awesome trip of a movie" and asking why in the hell more people didn't go to see it.
  • Nightbreed: Its attempt to fuse schlock-horror aesthetics with much greater ambitions doesn't entirely work, partly because the film was butchered in the editing room but also because its dream-like writing clashes with its gritty, realistic style, as well as the fact that the special effects needed to realize Clive Barker's vision were beyond the technology of 1990. Still, the climatic battle between the heroic monsters and the evil humans makes it all worth it, and its use of the monsters as a metaphor for homosexuality, like a horror movie version of X-Men, still manages to come through despite the studio's editing. Overall, it gets an A for effort, especially given the state of the horror genre in the early '90s. Reviewed it in his Big Picture "Schlocktober" special for 2014.
  • Nightmare Alley (2021): A film that felt tailor-made for the sensibilities of its director Guillermo del Toro, in the sense of it being a lush Genre Throwback to both '40s Film Noir and '90s "neo-noir" that was more or less content to invoked play the hits while putting the real focus on its glamorous Period Piece setting and style. Anybody whose ears perk up at its basic description will probably love its outstanding production values and technical quality, though del Toro's love of artifice often ended up being its biggest weakness, unmooring the plot and its stakes from reality just a bit too much for its own good; he felt that a director with more grounded sensibilities might have given the film's dark storyline the nasty edge it needed to really put it over the top. Regardless, he still gave it an 8 out of 10 simply for the experience, saying that even a lesser-tier del Toro flick is still better than most movies that hit cinema, and at the end of 2021 he named it his fourth-favorite movie of the year.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: He discussed rebooting the franchise in a "How to Fix" episode of In Bob We Trust. One thing that always bugged him about the series even in its better installments is that, even though Freddy Krueger is a child killer, his victims were all teenagers. As such, if he were making a Nightmare film, he'd have Freddy murdering children in their dreams just as he did in life. As for concerns that it would be ripping off It, his response is basically "have you seen how much money It made?"
  • Night of the Lepus: Calls it So Bad, It's Good and a masterpiece of misleading advertising. He said that no joke he could make about it could be funnier than the film itself, so he just spent a third of his time showing clips of it. Didn't review it for Escape to the Movies, but he covered it in his "Schlocktober" special for The Big Picture.
  • Nine Lives (2016): Didn't review it, but he jokingly called it the best film of summer 2016, heaping hyperbolic praise upon it before finally bursting in laughter and admitting, "I'm just fucking with you!"
  • Ninja Assassin: The action scenes were awesome, but it's overall a Cliché Storm not worth caring too much about. It also doesn't do much to tell audiences why they should care about Rain even though this was clearly meant to be a mainstream American launch for the South Korean multimedia star.
  • Noah: He first discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Waterworks". He was looking forward to it due to the fact that it was Darren Aronofsky (a filmmaker of whom he's a huge fan) making a big-budget epic, and thought it was cool that a film about the tale of Noah's Ark would actually include much of the most interesting material in The Bible that myriad retellings of the story ignore. He also discussed the controversy surrounding the film due to said cool/weird stuff, and the studio's attempts to avoid alienating evangelical Christian viewers while still appealing to secular audiences, all the while hoping that a promising-looking film wouldn't become just another chess piece in the broader culture war.

    When it came time to review it, he called it "brave, bold, bizarre, and kind of brilliant," answering head-on all of the concerns people had about it going in while delivering an epic blockbuster in the tradition of Cecil B. DeMille meets Peter Jackson. It manages to combine being a religious film, an environmentalist fable, an action/disaster film, and even a psychological horror film into one excellent package that treats its characters and subject matter with a great degree of nuance and humanity. He also lamented how the rise of the Religious Right in the US has seemingly killed this sort of Biblical epic in Hollywood.
  • Nobody: "This year's top contender for the title of 'best movie that the worst guy you know will agree with you is one of the actual best movies this year'." It was the writer of John Wick and the director of Hardcore Henry coming together to make a movie that Bob described as being akin to how people like him remembered The Boondock Saints (a film he loved in college but which did not hold up for him on repeat viewing), a straightforward riff on Death Wish that adds a subtle deconstruction of its "dorky suburban dad turns out to be a super-badass" plot. The action and kills were spectacular and feel like a more Western-influenced take on John Wick's style, Bob Odenkirk made for a great Spiritual Successor to Die Hard-era Bruce Willis as the everyman protagonist, the film wisely acknowledged its lack of real stakes by making the plot less about the Russian gangsters trying to kill the protagonist and more about his inner turmoil over his "old self" coming back out, and it managed to be self-assured and unapologetic about its Power Fantasy without it turning toxic or spiteful as some kind of "anti-PC" statement. He gave it an 8 out of 10 and said that it was likely to have a long life as a perennial Father's Day classic, and at the end of 2021 he named it his ninth-favorite movie of the year.
  • Nocturnal Animals: He reviewed it only because nothing else came out that week, and gave it two stars. He found nothing overtly wrong with it, but it was "pretentious as all hell", with only the story of the novel within the film that Amy Adams' character was reading as the film's Framing Device mattering much (and that because Michael Shannon was basically carrying that part of the movie). He opened his review by calling the project competently made Oscar Bait, and he closed it by likening it to a supermodel: "…nice to look at, but almost deliberately off-putting and always seem[ing] vaguely contemptuous of you for looking at it." On the latter note, he considers it highly appropriate that fashion design legend Tom Ford wrote and directed this movie.
  • No Escape (2015): Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he discussed his thoughts on the trailer in the blog article "Welcome to Asia". He found the premise to be disgustingly racist and indulging in the worst Yellow Peril stereotypes in its depiction of everybody in its Southeast Asian setting as being out to murder the (white) main characters. He compared it, on a scale of "zero to Nugent", to "Nugent at a no-press-allowed CPAC fundraiser with those Duck guys."
  • invokedNo Good Deed (2014): "All screenings were canceled at the last minute, supposedly to 'protect a twist.' The 'twist' is that it's probably not a good movie." Didn't review it, but he mentioned it at the end of his review of The Zero Theorem.
  • Nomadland: It was The Grapes of Wrath for the post-Great-Recession, socially alienated malaise era of the 2010s, with enough of its own unique stylistic and narrative touches that it didn't feel like a naked ripoff. Director Chloé Zhao strikes a balance between gritty hyperrealism and meditative moments in nature, and the film builds just enough mystery around Frances McDormand's protagonist that, even though it's clear that personal tragedy destroyed her life, the journey is less about finding out what it is than about understanding her pain. He admitted that general audiences would likely have a "that's it?" reaction to the ending, but he blames all the expectations placed on it, with its small, intimate story, as a result of all the praise heaped upon it by critics and award shows making it seem like a much grander statement. He gave it an 8 out of 10 and recommended it as a beautiful snapshot of American life in the time of its creation. He also joked that it, a super-depressing Academy Award frontrunner made by a filmmaker who was on the cusp of helming a Marvel blockbuster, was a sign that, after the COVID-19 Pandemic, some things in Hollywood were starting to go back to normal.
  • The Northman: Called it an arthouse version of Conan the Barbarian that saw Robert Eggers, a filmmaker best known for moody, slow-burn horror, put his talents towards "just over two hours of artisanal-blend muscular bloodletting" that combined gritty historical realism, head-spinning Norse pagan mysticism, and a surprisingly straightforward fantasy adventure plot with an excellent cast and production values all around. As such, it was a film that he felt would be enjoyed by not only film and history geeks willing to pore over every detail, but also by those who just wanna watch a badass, extremely R-rated medieval action flick. The plotting was fairly predictable for anyone even moderately versed in the kind of classical myths it's rooted in, but this was an "experience first, narrative second" movie that he gave an 8 out of 10, calling it a "metal-as-hell, kick-your-ass version" of this sort of Action-Adventure flick.
  • No Strings Attached: While the rom-com formula prevented it from examining its themes in any real depth, Bob still found it to be a good movie, with a funny script, likable leads and a very welcome (given the subject matter) R rating.
  • The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: Before he reviewed it, he named it his eighth least anticipated film of 2018. Hollywood adaptations of The Nutcracker had a terrible track record to start with, and this one did not give him much hope that it would be any better, feeling like it was being released in 2018 simply because Disney had to bump the live-action Mulan movie back to 2019. When he reviewed it, he gave it a 4 out of 10 and found it to suffer from the get-go on account of being a Grimmified pseudo-sequel to a story that suffered from Mainstream Obscurity, with most people's familiarity with The Nutcracker being with the music and imagery of the ballet rather than the plot; as such, they'd be liable to find the film near-incomprehensible even before it got into its own needlessly convoluted story. It was simultaneously too weird and not weird enough, feeling like a Cliché Storm of Gothic fantasy films from recent years. Despite itself, however, he still found himself enjoying it on a gonzo, almost invoked So Bad, It's Good level, akin to Jupiter Ascending in how it played like Wish-Fulfillment for adolescent girls, and in that regard he imagined that the film would likely become a Cult Classic down the line. He was especially impressed by Keira Knightley's Large Ham performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy, which reminded him of a female Tim Curry in how she seemed "perpetually twenty seconds from literal orgasm".

  • Oblivion (2013): Impressive visual design and solid direction can't save a bad movie that felt like "five or six M. Night Shyamalan screenplays smushed into one." Without spoiling anything, the film telegraphs that something is wrong from a mile away, it's derivative of other, better sci-fi films, the twists pile up and produce a mountain of Fridge Logic, and the Love Triangle is annoying. Bottom line: if you want a visually stunning but nonsensical sci-fi movie, rent Prometheus instead. He also analyzes Tom Cruise's career trajectory, describing it as a string of reactions to insecurity.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?: One of the greatest films that The Coen Brothers ever made, even if it's to blame for digital color-correction and, with it, the annoying trend of the Orange/Blue Contrast. Didn't review it, but he mentioned it in his Intermission editorial "Consequences".
  • Ocean's 8: Before he reviewed it, he named it his tenth most anticipated film of 2018. He liked the cast and the director, he thought that the formula (less about plot and more about concept, such that he was surprised that they didn't make an all-female Ocean's movie earlier) was hard to screw up, and he bemoaned how it was preemptively bashed by "the shut-in woman-haters' club" for allegedly sullying the Ocean's Eleven franchise, even though all of them were basically Vacation, Dear Boy excuses for famous Hollywood A-listers. In short, it just looked like a fun movie in the same vein as its predecessors. He got what he hoped for when it came time to review it, calling it a "breezy comic mood piece" and giving it three stars. He praised the All-Star Cast for Playing Against Type throughout (save for Helena Bonham Carter, who still does what she does best), and noted that, oddly enough, it felt more like the original '60s Rat Pack version of Ocean's Eleven than the remake series by Steven Soderbergh, in that it was less interested in plot mechanics than it was in the glamour of the heist and the character dynamics of its cast. He saw this as partly due to Technology Marches On (a lot of the planning in those films is now easily done in seconds by Rihanna's hacker character) and partly due to Gary Ross recognizing and playing to his strengths and weaknesses as a director versus Soderbergh; on that note, he felt that the filmmaking was the one thing holding the film back from going above and beyond.
  • Okja: It's far darker than its setup of 'a girl and her pet genetically-engineered super-pig' implies. It's also another Genre-Busting effort from Bong Joon-ho of The Host (2006) and Snowpiercer fame that satirizes both the Corrupt Corporate Executives whose company left the titular Okja with Mija, the human protagonist, and their Animal Wrongs Group opponents. By siding squarely with Mija and Okja, who just want to live in peace together, though, it is also the Spiritual Antithesis of South Park's "'everybody sucks' hipster nihilism." It's not quite as good as the sum of its parts — most of the adult actors were apparently instructed to play broad caricatures, a move that works well in about half the cases and backfires badly for the other half (especially Jake Gyllenhaal as an activist who evokes an "evil Steve Irwin") — but Bob gives it two and a half stars and a recommendation for fans of ambitious experimental films who can forgive when they don't hit all their marks.
  • The Old Guard: It was an old-school sci-fi/fantasy action flick with a great cast, well-rounded characters, standout action scenes, and tight plotting that didn't overstay its welcome or end on a needless cliffhanger. It could easily be summed up as "Highlander invoked meets Call of Duty", and what it lacked in originality it made up for in the care that went into its production, skipping a lot of the boring parts of the Worldbuilding while keeping the stakes low enough to prevent the story from getting too sprawling for its own good. The main characters being immortal did take some of the stakes out of the action, and a third-act plot twist raised questions that he wished the film focused more on, but beyond that, he gave it a 7 out of 10 and said that he'd happily watch a sequel.
  • Oldboy (the 2003 original): Talked about how it became famous due to its brutal fight scenes and its final twist. While it was a great film, he didn't mind the idea of a remake as much as some other people did, as a lot of its material was so culturally specific to South Korea that it could get in the way of American viewers' engagement with it. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of its remake …
    • Oldboy (the 2013 remake): He was looking forward to this film chiefly due to Spike Lee's involvement, as even his worst films tend to at least be interesting to watch. However, he found it to be boring and dull in spite of all of its attempts to be shocking. None of Spike Lee's Signature Style was on display here, and it felt like it was just going through the motions. Furthermore, the film's attempts to copy the original's most iconic moments and story beats lose their punch and suffer from Fridge Logic due to the change in cultural context; Bob cites the dumplings clue and the famous hammer scene in particular as examples of this.
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. Quentin Tarantino's films are always, at the very least, provocative and get people talking about them, and this looked no different, especially with Hollywood's resident Meta Guy making a movie about the sordid history of Hollywood itself. He opened his review with a score of 9 out of 10 accompanied by a spoiler warning, since he felt he couldn't discuss what he loved about the film without at least alluding to a number of important things that happen during its runtime. It was at once the most "Tarantino" film that Tarantino had ever made in the sense of it being so troperiffic and rich in nostalgia for the man's particular cultural fixations, and the least "Tarantino" film of his in that, up to a point, the period Hollywood setting meant that these references felt more organic, and the characters more authentic, than anything else in the filmography of a filmmaker known for his celebration of artificiality and kitsch. He compared it to a "languid hangout" in which Tarantino gets to take the viewer into a bygone era of rising and fading stars, before suddenly turning into what was bound to be among the most controversial films of 2019 with its late-in-the-game Plot Twist. This was the only part where the film didn't earn his rapturous praise, due to the fact that this twist, which would've been shocking coming from any other filmmaker, simply felt like Tarantino up to his usual tricks here, even if it flowed logically from the broader themes of the film as a whole. He said that, while it wasn't Tarantino's best film, it was probably his most human.

    invokedLater he returned to it in a Big Picture episode, "Does Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Cross The Line?" in which he discussed some of the controversial aspects of the film.note  Bob didn't really offer an opinion on these things, except to say that there were reasonable arguments being made on each front, but he felt a definitive answer to these issues was impossible. Instead, he noted that the film demonstrates why Historical Fiction can be hard to deal with (i.e. that it requires the audience to confront how much they take for granted about real history) and that he was glad the discussion of the movie had at least remained civil.
  • One Hour Photo: Bob's favorite of the three 2002 movies wherein Robin Williams played a villain (the other two being the Black Comedy Death to Smoochy and the Oscar Bait-y Insomnia). Didn't review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial "Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies", a retrospective of the late Williams' career.
  • Ong-Bak: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. Even a casual fan of martial arts movies should seek it out, because it is one of the best films of its type. Taking the plot of the sort of film that's often set in medieval China and transplanting it to modern-day Thailand allows it to explore a whole new angle, as Tony Jaa's Country Mouse character finds himself lost in the big, modern city of Bangkok, culminating in a theme of melding Thailand's traditional past with modernity. You don't really need to pay attention to the plot to enjoy it, though, thanks to amazing action and fight sequences done with great stuntwork and choreography that breaks from Hong Kong's Wire Fu tradition to impressive effect.
  • Only God Forgives: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2013, he named it a runner-up for his list of the best films of the year.
  • Only the Brave: Movies about firefighters are something that he's surprised aren't more common, given that their job is practically tailor-made for Hollywood spectacle, though he figures that the difficulty of working with fire (either for real or with CGI) may have something to do with it. That said, this movie, while Strictly Formula in its characters and story beats (he calls it "The Perfect Storm but with firefighters"), is remarkably solid, with the film making great use of Miles Teller in particular by giving his character an arc practically designed to exploit audience distaste for him. He gave it three stars and a recommendation as a perfect 'dad movie'.
  • Onward: Before he reviewed it, he named it his ninth most anticipated film of 2020, mostly for Pixar's involvement and its unique premise: that of a High Fantasy world that had gradually evolved into something like our modern, technological world where all the legends are ancient history. He ultimately found it "imperfect but endearing" and gave it a 7 out of 10. It was clearly aimed as much at adult fans of Pixar as it was at their kids given how its plot mashed up '80s Amblin films with fantasy adventure stories, it actually handled its Worldbuilding with some depth rather than just using it for cheap gags, and fantasy fans will love all the invoked Shout Outs. The characters were all great even if they weren't all that original, with Octavia Spencer's manticore restaurant owner being a highlight. The only real flaw was admittedly a pretty major one, in that the film didn't really know what to do with the character of the protagonists' father despite how central he was to the story.
  • Orca: The Killer Whale: Not only the best of the many Jaws ripoffs of the late '70s and early '80s, but also a good movie in its own right, albeit a completely crazy one. It combines a highbrow Nature Documentary style, with tons of footage of killer whales and a great score by Ennio Morricone, with a gory '70s exploitation/monster movie vibe, the two going together surprisingly well. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his 2012 "Schlocktober" special for The Big Picture.
  • The Other Guys: Pretty funny, but it never really adds up to anything, and it's been done better before. He also goes into an analysis of the roots of the "buddy cop" genre.
  • Ouija: "Just another formulaic and dumb horror movie." He reviewed it a week after it came out only because nothing was released on Halloween weekend, what with everyone being out partying and trick-or-treating. While quite a bit of material could be mined for a horror movie about a Ouija Board, and this film starts with an intriguing idea, it then proceeds to rip off other, far superior ghost stories, blowing its big twist early and proceeding to follow a by-the-numbers Cliché Storm plot with little passion and stupid characters. Worst of all, it's just not scary, with lousy kills and an assortment of jump scares and ghosts that have, again, been done better many times before. He gave it one star, telling people not to see it unless they're absolutely desperate.
  • The Outpost: Gave it a 9 out of 10, calling it a conventional but well-made Afghan War movie boasting a great cast of "tough guy" actors (led by Scott Eastwood in what might've been a invoked Star-Making Role in a flashier film), a character-driven first half that avoided either sanitizing its characters or going overboard in portraying them as un-PC macho men, an action-packed second half that nailed the sweet spot between authenticity and video game-style thrills without feeling like another Black Hawk Down ripoff, and a transition between such that knocked him out of his seat. It was a fairly shallow film beyond its War Is Hell message, but he didn't really mind that.
  • Over the Moon: It was one of the better attempts by a non-Disney animation studio (in this case, Shanghai Pearl Studio, who historically worked with DreamWorks Animation) to imitate the Disney Renaissance-era animated musical formula, one that earned an 8 out of 10. While its story was fairly predictable and could get convoluted at times, and the dissonance between Chinese and Disney fairy-tale logic did produce some invoked Fridge Logic, it was otherwise an example of Strictly Formula done right, a film that set out to do its own take on the Disney animated musical and more or less pulled it off with flying colors. Not only did it successfully replicate the look of such films with its beautiful and inventive animation, it more importantly hit their emotional core as well with its story, especially with its lively supporting cast and Phillipa Soo's performance as the Ambiguously Evil Chang'e.
  • Overlord (2018):invoked "Well, that was pretty fuckin' cool!" It was a straightforward, unpretentious, and well-made "Inglourious Basterds meets Re-Animator" action-horror B-Movie that may have had way too much artifice draped over it with one of J. J. Abrams' usual 'mystery box' marketing campaigns, but did what it set out to do so well that Bob struggled to find much to say about beyond telling people to see it if they were into this sort of movie. The cast elevated the material, the action was top-notch whether it was the war sequences or the monster fights, the story beats were well-paced and trusted the audience's ability to easily figure out what was going on, the tone walked the line of being self-aware without dipping into winking sarcasm, and overall, it was "as pure fun as R-rated pulp shoot-em-ups get." He gave it three-and-a-half stars and said that he might go back and see it three or four more times because it gave him so much bang for his buck in terms of entertainment value.
  • Oz the Great and Powerful: An "unabashedly old-fashioned family blockbuster" that's a great fit for Sam Raimi's retro style, feeling at times like a big-budget, family-friendly version of Army of Darkness meets the original The Wizard of Oz, and which succeeds at every point where Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland went wrong. Grown-ups are going to figure out the plot twists pretty early, but it can still be quite shocking to see a Hollywood blockbuster go in the directions that this film does. The cast is great — James Franco's hipster persona goes perfectly with his sleazy con artist protagonist, while Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, and especially Mila Kunis are all at the top of their game as the witches. He could even tolerate Zach Braff as the voice of Oscar's monkey sidekick. Throw in some absolutely stunning CGI that's used for more than just flash, and you have an incredible film whose only real flaw is the lack of songs (because what is a Wizard of Oz prequel without musical numbers?). At the end of 2013, he named it a runner-up for his list of the best films of the year.

    Bob also doesn't find much wrong with the fact that it's not following Wicked’s mythology, given that L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, himself wrote a long series of Land of Oz novels with often-contradictory mythologies that Wicked was itself throwing out.