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Recap / Bob Chipman Film Reviews Number To B

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  • 12 Strong: It boggled his mind that they'd try to make and release a gung-ho action movie about the Afghanistan War in 2018, but this film did just that, in the process feeling like an Unintentional Period Piece from 2003. Worse, this was enough of a Cliché Storm to be bad even in the Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie subgenre (itself not known for quality films), and it seemingly tried to avoid being at all different, downplaying even the sole noteworthy difference of the protagonists riding on horseback against an enemy force using tanks in a 21st-century war. As such, it earned one star, with Bob saying that it felt like it was made on autopilot. He also opened the review with a condemnation of its thanks to Vladimir Putin for having supposedly tried to warn America about 9/11.
  • 12 Years a Slave: Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in a very difficult role, and the villains, while hammy, are also chilling in their cruelty. Director Steve McQueen (Director)’s inexperience at helming an Epic Movie shows a few times, but otherwise, Bob named it a runner-up for his list of the best films of 2013. He also spent much of the review discussing the film in comparison to Django Unchained, in that both films are about the dehumanization of Antebellum America-era slavery yet this film is much bleaker than that film’s revenge fantasy. He compares this to the Saw films as both use the hook that their respective protagonists have no escape.
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: Bob argues that, whatever Michael Bay’s intentions were, it was impossible to make this film apolitical given how politicized the real-life Benghazi tragedy had become. Regardless, he considers it a superior film to the comparable American Sniper, another recent war movie that right-wing media promoted heavily, in that, while it’s not a particularly great film, it still serves as a high-caliber display of Bay’s genuine action chops. He refers to it as “Black Hawk Down: The All Money-Shots Version,” with Bay’s chaotic style serving the story well in how the soldiers are thrust into a situation where they can’t tell the good guys from the bad and have little idea what’s going on. However, its attempts to avoid politics cause it to suffer from a lack of dramatic weight, to the point where Bob wished that Bay had fully indulged in the angry ‘stab in the back’ version of the story promoted by the Fox News Channel et al., just to give the film a compelling villain beyond a horde of mooks and a mere obstructive bureaucracy. Regardless, it’s still worth a watch for action junkies.
  • 13th: Didn't review it, but at the start of 2020 he named it one of the ten defining films of The New '10s. In its examination of the history of racism both during and after the Jim Crow era, it became one of the decade's most influential documentaries, one that served as a wake-up call for many White Americans in the wake of Donald Trump's election by showing that, contrary to the "post-racial" hopes of many liberals, racism never went away as an animating force in American society.
  • 1917: He recommended it, describing it as "if Ernest Hemingway made Hardcore Henry", though he admitted that he had a hard time explaining why he'd recommend it to someone who wasn't already drawn in by its one-take action movie gimmick. He compared it to an exceptionally well-made war shooter, with its big action scenes comparable to quick-time events and boss battles all while the viewer's perspective never leaves the side of its two protagonists. It was more interested in the visceral feel and intensity of battle than greater emotional resonance, which he found a relief after many films that felt obliged to drape their "thrills for the sake of thrills" in either ironic humor or the fantasy and sci-fi genres. He gave it a 7 out of 10 and said that it would likely appeal to the kind of action buff who bemoans the dearth of these sorts of grounded, no-nonsense action movies in theaters.
  • 2 Guns: It starts off with a clever hook — two undercover cops working together who don't know that the other guy is also a cop — and has two very well-cast leads in Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, who play off each other very well. However, the rest of the movie is just all right and not all that interesting, epitomizing the disposable dump month action movie/star vehicle. Only worth watching for fans of its stars.
  • 21 Jump Street: An extremely funny movie. It’s one of those ideas for a TV series adaptation that sounds like it should have been an awful idea from the get-go, but directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller (who Bob considers the kings of “making good movies out of stupid ideas”) somehow managed to make it work. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill proved to be a surprisingly good comic duo, and overall, it’s a great comedy. Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it in his Casa de mi Padre review, noting that he reviewed that film instead of this one because Casa was trying something unique. He discussed it further in his review of its sequel …
    • 22 Jump Street: One of the rare comedy sequels that manages to live up to the original, largely through an abundance of post-modern meta humor about sequels themselves and a will to explore the nature of sequels. The bromance between Tatum and Hill is just as good as it was in the first film, and the fact that the film builds on and tests that relationship and allows it to drive the story is a huge part of what makes it work.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey: Didn’t review it, but in the Big Picture episode “Is The Hobbit Too Long?”, he cited it as proof that not every scene in a movie must drive the plot forward. Many scenes in this film have little bearing on the plot, instead serving to get viewers into the mindset of its protagonists.
  • 2012: The so-called “Mayan prophecy” the film’s based on may be BS, but it still gave Bob everything he could possibly want out of a large-scale, end-of-the-world disaster movie. He loves to see stupid stuff like the destruction of landmarks, cheesy family drama, and improbable escapes in movies like this, and Roland Emmerich can really do it. It knows what kind of movie it is, and it delivers in spades. He thinks the difference between a ‘good’ silly blockbuster like this and a ‘bad’ one like Transformers comes down to the technical proficiency of the director: rather than engaging in ‘stylish’ rapid cutting and Jitter Cam to wage war on the viewers' senses at the expense of coherence, this film maintains a uniform, coherent style that looks downright beautiful on screen.
  • 300: Called it “a flawlessly constructed monument to dumb” in that, while he found it to be an incredibly stupid film, he couldn’t deny that it was a great action film that passed every test it set itself with flying colors. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of its sequel …
    • 300: Rise of an Empire: It’s more thoughtful and interesting than the first film, though he hesitated to call it better as such. Still, it makes for a great action movie unto itself, with Bob giving special kudos to Eva Green one of the best Dark Action Girl villainesses he’d ever seen in a movie like this, to the point where she often overshadowed the rest of the film. He also notes that the entire film feels like a response to the Unfortunate Implications of its predecessor and of Frank Miller’s writing, with its endorsement of Athenian democracy and criticism of Spartan society as depicted in the original, along with the fact that two of the three main characters (including the villain) are women vis-à-vis the original’s Rated M for Manly attitude.
  • 42: A movie that “feels like it could have been made by a machine.” If you know the story of Jackie Robinson and have seen any other movie about baseball, you know exactly what to expect from this film, and you’d be exactly right to expect it. It’s competently made, but Harrison Ford’s great, larger-than-life performance as the Brooklyn Dodgers’ owner is all that elevates this film above being another So Okay, It's Average inspirational sports movie.
  • 6 Underground: It was among the purest expressions of Michael Bay's style as an auteur filmmaker that Bob had ever seen, particular in terms of its themes, which he compared to "The Boondock Saints but for the Davos WEF attendees" in its lionization of the super-rich cutting through the red tape and taking matters into their own hands to solve the world's problems — a position and premise that he found to be extremely questionable on a moral level, even if he admitted that it wasn't so different from many of the superhero movies that he loves, and grudgingly admired Bay for his full-bore commitment to this worldview. The utterly bonkers action scenes, another trademark of Bay's, complemented the film's ideology remarkably well, with Bob calling it Bay at the most over-the-top he'd been since Bad Boys II, especially in how he refused to shy away from the bloody violence and collateral damage inherent to the action scenes. It was a bit too long, not quite as clever as it thought it was, and suffered from one-note characters beyond Ryan Reynolds' protagonist, but it still earned a 7 out of 10 and a recommendation as a "fun but kinda troubling watch".
  • 800 Bullets: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. It was a hybrid of a "running off to join the circus" family adventure movie and a hard-R-rated Black Comedy, and he loved it, giving it an 8 out of 10 and embracing its Affectionate Parody of violent Spaghetti Westerns. The only knock he could think of was that he felt that the depiction of the Kid Hero's villainous corporate-suit mother fell into some invoked misogynistic stereotypes of working women, and even then, she wasn't portrayed entirely unsympathetically.
  • 9: Bob found this one to beinvoked So Okay, It's Average despite the breathtaking animation, filling the otherwise short review out with an explanation of the difficulty of producing commercially viable adult-oriented animated films and a vent against hardcore anime fans who insist that only the Japanese film industry can do this.

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: Nothing can change the fact this is “a gimmicky joke of a movie,” and it has some problems with third-act pacing and the action scenes all seeming to blend together, but it’s still a worthwhile watch, helped along by the fact that it plays its central premise as a straight-faced piece of historical fiction rather than an extended gag. He also found it interesting to see a movie that paints the Confederates not only as villains, but downright monsters at that.
  • The Accountant: “Basically an autistic-superhero movie” that Bob gave two stars, though he invited fans of any of the cast members to give it two and a half if they wished. He didn’t think it was an outright bad movie, and he commended its sincere efforts to avert Hollywood Autism, with Ben Affleck’s underplayed performance as the title character (his somewhat limited acting range actually helping this time) going a long way towards so doing. All the other performances are very good as well, but the subplot following two U.S. Treasury agents trying to discover the real identity of Affleck’s character undercuts that great character work by using twists for twists’ sake, with only the climactic one feeling like information the movie needed to withhold.
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: It’s a quintessential “comedian star vehicle,” a film that’s thin on plot but big on laughs, courtesy of its star Jim Carrey being allowed to do his routine with little standing in his way. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “When Jim Carrey Ruled the World,” a retrospective of Carrey's '90s career, along with its sequel …
    • Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls: Even though many people remember it as a case of sequelitis, Bob still liked it. He noted how, with the original, the studio didn’t realize just how popular Carrey was thanks to In Living Color! (especially among kids who were too young to be watching that show) until the film became an unexpected big hit, and so with the sequel, they essentially made a “raunchier-than-usual kids’ movie” to try and grab that young audience again.
  • Act of Valor: The action scenes are amazing, thanks in no small part to the fact that the U.S. Navy was directly involved in its production, ensuring realism and authenticity instead of phony Hollywood machismo. Unfortunately, the talkier, non-action bits aren’t nearly as good, with several ‘movie-like’ moments that break the film’s sense of realism and some mediocre acting from the active-duty Navy SEALs in the lead roles. Military buffs will love it, but most others would probably have been better served by a straight documentary. In addition, both within the review and in the following week’s Intermission column, he rebuked the widespread concern that the film was a jingoistic, pro-war propaganda piece/recruitment tool, saying that it was no worse in that regard than any number of recent Hollywood action films, and that people on both sides read too much politics into popular culture.note 
  • Ad Astra: It was precisely the kind of film he should have hated, a hard science fiction deconstruction of space adventure stories that stripped out all the idealism and portrayed space travel as fundamentally not worth it, and the people who romanticize it as antisocial and unconcerned with actual human beings. The fact that he liked it anyway was a testament to its quality, and to him a sign that it succeeded purely on the strength of its technical merit and emotional stakes without relying on invokedheavy-handed moralizing. The plot was utterly wild and truly unpredictable, and while it suffered from Ending Fatigue and a plot driven by Literal Metaphor, he ultimately left the theater feeling satisfied, thanks to a great performance by Brad Pitt as the protagonist and solid direction by James Gray. He gave it a 7 out of 10 and said that, while it wasn't a fun movie, it was still an engaging one.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies,” a retrospective on the late Williams’ career. His occasion for citing it was that Williams’ cameo as the King of the Moon stood out as particularly strange even in the filmography of an actor who played strange roles frequently.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: Devoted an episode of Good Enough Movies to it. It's an Andy Kaufman-esque "what the hell am I watching?" meta parody of serialized pulp adventure stories and comic books, particularly of the experience of picking up a random book only to find that you're in the middle of a long-running story and have no idea what's going on — hence all the fake Mythology Gags, Call-Backs, Worldbuilding, etc. in service of a Myth Arc that doesn't even exist outside of this movie. The other big part of the joke is parodying the ridiculous sci-fi melodrama of a lot of these stories by telling it in the form of a legitimate movie with credible, big-name actors delivering these lines with a completely straight face — something that seems a lot less silly today in the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which does pretty much the exact same thing for real and has become a global pop culture phenomenon. Given how weird the movie is, especially for the time, it's no surprise that it bombed in its initial theatrical run, nor is it a surprise that it was eventually Vindicated by Cable and found its fanbase that way.invoked
  • The Adventures of Tintin (2011): Great directing, great action, and the best use of performance capture technology in filmmaking history yet make a very worthwhile watch. Bob also comments on how the mere fact of the film’s production, what with it being a big-budget adaptation of a property that’s never been big in America, shows Hollywood’s growing recognition of the power of non-American moviegoers.invoked
  • After Earth: “M. Night Shyamalan might really want to look into a change of careers.” Bob confessed to some Bile Fascination for this movie,invoked but overall, he considered it incredibly boring to watch, an ego trip for both Shyamalan and Will Smith that's among the worst of both their careers. He spent a good chunk of the review laughing at the film's dumber moments (namely, one of the main characters being named Cypher Raige) while criticizing the film for having a plot structure that felt more suited to a video game than a film, including using a few arbitrary gameplay tropes. Also, both Will Smith and his son Jaden give incredibly dull performances here, with Will’s famous charisma nowhere to be seen and Jaden totally out of his depth as an Action Hero, and the film’s backstory about humanity leaving Earth That Was is underused and feels superfluous. At the end of 2013, he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year.
  • AKIRA: Feels that it’s a perfectly serviceable cyberpunk action film, nothing more, nothing less, and that most of its popularity comes from it being invokedmost Americans’ first ‘real’ experience with anime rather than its own merits. In one of his “Intermission” columns, he offered some tips on how to do the American remake properly, with his final tip being “just don't do it” — an argument that he doubled down on several years later in the In Bob We Trust episode "Bob Fixes the Movies", a discussion of four Troubled Productions that were going on at the time. That said, if they do make an American adaptation, one avenue that he does think would be worth exploring would be to set it in the ghetto with a mostly non-White cast, arguing that Americanization doesn't necessarily have to mean White-washing and that many of the story's thematic components (blighted neighborhoods, militarized police, youth gangs run amok, kids being chewed up and spit out by "the system") are deeply associated with urban minority poverty in the US, providing what could be fertile ground for a unique sci-fi blockbuster.
  • Aladdin: While the songs and villain were great, the hero is neither compelling nor likeable, “but two out of three ain’t bad.” Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies,” a retrospective on the late Williams’ career; he noted Williams as the voice of the Genie is the main reason people remember this film as well as they do.
    • Aladdin (2019): Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019. While casting Will Smith as the Genie was an admittedly creative choice (even if Williams will probably still be the First and Foremost actor in the role), he was far more skeptical about Guy Ritchie directing given his then-recent track record. When he reviewed the movie, he gave it 5 out of 10 and called it "an average film, existing more as a tribute to the original than as a movie in its own right"invoked, one that was at least better than Dumbo from two months earlier, and that was at its best when it wasn't just copying the original. He found the second-act Romantic Comedy interlude to be quite charming, thought that Smith's Genie was surprisingly one of the best parts of the movie when he played him as Hitch (and, conversely, cringeworthy when he tried to imitate Williams' more manic humor), and hoped that playing Jasmine would be Naomi Scott's Star-Making Role. On the other hand, Ritchie's direction was surprisingly flat, Mena Massoud and Marwan Kenzari failed to impress as Aladdin and Jafar respectively, and the introduced political subplot that painted Jasmine and Jafar as analogues for Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump respectively was the sort of thing to which he had reluctantly resigned himself by then.
  • Alex Cross: A terrible movie that can’t even bring itself up to being entertainingly awful, with the clean-cut Tyler Perry unconvincing as an Action Hero (though he could have been much better in a more conventional mystery drama) and Matthew Fox delivering a laughably one-note and over-the-top performance as a villain who feels like he came out of a comic book, not a relatively grounded police movie. At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his ten worst movies of the year.
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010): While it works in bits and pieces, and the art design, special effects and score are amazing, ultimately it fails spectacularly to come together as a whole movie. Bob felt that, story-wise, it was a mess that tried to shoehorn the Random Events Plot of Lewis Carroll's novel into a ‘good versus evil’ narrative reminiscent of a Merchandise-Driven cartoon from The '80s — something that someone like Terry Gilliam or Alan Moore might have done as a spoof of the Hollywood system.
  • Alien: He recommended, in a "How to Fix" episode of In Bob We Trust, that by this point (after the release of Alien: Covenant) the only way to salvage the franchise would be to just make the Alien the good guy. With overexposure having greatly reduced the fear invoked by what was once one of the scariest monsters in horror, all that's left to do is go the Godzilla route and have a xenomorph as the hero. His story idea: Weyland-Yutani attempts to launch a xenomorph breeding program that goes horribly wrong, leaving an adolescent xenomorph queen running around slaughtering evil scientists, security, and corporate suits in a "Die Hard with an Alien" scenario. Bonus points if you can have Weyland-Yutani recruiting the Predator to fight back against the xenomorph, making it an Alien vs. Predator reboot as well.
    • Alien: A masterpiece of minimalist horror that he holds up in contrast to its sequel, Alien: Covenant, in terms of how not every film is served well by having a mythology. In this film, the titular alien served as a distillation of every fear its audience had about what lies beyond the stars, hence why the film was titled simply Alien and not Xenomorph, and while there was world-building regarding the ship (the Nostromo) that the characters were on and the corporation (Weyland-Yutani) that they worked for, these were meant to serve the plot rather than the other way around.
    • Alien: Resurrection: Hasn't reviewed it, but he did say that, while it didn't really work, it is fun to watch as basically "the fanfic version of an Alien movie".
    • Prometheus: Called it a smart and well-made (if not great) sci-fi/horror film without any serious flaws beyond some clunky transitions between the three acts, with the lead actors all turning in great performances and the Abusive Ancient Astronauts idea being a rather scary thought (if hardly original by this point). However, he couldn't help but feel underwhelmed, which he attributes to how the internet has created a movie-geek culture where everybody knows everything about the behind-the-scenes details of a film (a subject he had discussed in the prior week's Intermission editorial). He went in knowing that the film was a prequel to Alien, which colored his expectations of the project and prevented him from enjoying it on its own merits. His opinion had cooled in the years since, the film frequently coming up in his later reviews as a go-to example of an Idiot Plot. However, when he brought it up in his review of Alien: Covenant, he remarked that he still kind of liked the film, even if it wasn't a particularly good one, seeing it as a big-budget, star-studded remake of one of the many sleazy, B-grade Alien knockoffs that came out in the '80s.
    • Alien: Covenant: "I don't give a shit about where the fucking Alien comes from, and neither should you." The film's attempt to explore the origin of the Xenomorphs is one of those things that should have been conceptually interesting in its exploration of the idea of a capricious creator who doesn't understand human morality, but it fails to follow through on the bigger ideas it brings up and winds up as just a rote Mad Scientist story that just happens to be set in the Alien universe, and it destroys the mystique surrounding the Xenomorphs in the process. Ridley Scott's beautiful direction is wasted on a story that isn't compelling in the slightest, while Michael Fassbender (who Bob regards as one of the most overhyped actors in Hollywood) is awful in both of his roles and the rest of the cast (save for Danny McBride, oddly enough) is just So Okay, It's Average and forgettable. He gave it one and a half stars and said that, given that only two Alien movies out of eight have been any good, it may just be time to put the franchise on ice.
  • Alien vs. Predator: Didn't review it, but he mentioned his thoughts on it in the In Bob We Trust episode "Stop Trying to Make Us Like the Predator". He liked this film, even in spite of how stupid he felt the plot to be, mainly because it seemed to understand how stupid it was and that it was merely an Excuse Plot to get xenomorphs and Predators fighting each other. On the other hand, its sequel Alien vs. Predator: Requiem misunderstood this, attempting to be a 'serious' horror movie that fleshed out the Predators' backstory and winding up a dreadful mess as a result.
  • Alita: Battle Angel: invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it an honorable mention for his most anticipated films of 2018... and a dishonorable mention for his least anticipated films of the year.note  The digital augmentation of the title character's face was admittedly odd, but he was interested in seeing how it played out on screen, while the casting of a large number of Black and Latinx actors in an anime adaptation presented a unique twist on the "Whitewashing" controversy that typically accompanies such films. That said, Robert Rodriguez was very hit-or-miss as a filmmaker, seeming to be more interested in making movies than in ensuring they were any good; when he's actually invested in the material, he's made some knockouts, but his bad movies are usually very bad. While he was interested, he couldn't help but be reminded of the Ghost in the Shell remake.

    When it came out, he called it "kind of a mess" between its Ending Fatigue, its meandering story, and the clash between James Cameron and Rodriguez's respective styles... but at the same time, all that, combined with its shameless anime style, also made it "kind of awesome" and drove him to call it a Cult Classic in the making for its compelling, teen-girl-oriented madness, comparing it to Jupiter Ascending, Dune (1984), and Excalibur. Whatever one might say about the plot and the writing, the film also looked spectacular, with some of the best special effects he'd ever seen and the production values seeming to discipline Rodriguez's worst tendencies as a filmmaker and bring out his best. The cast was excellent (save for a wooden Keean Johnson as the Love Interest), especially Rosa Salazar as the "Precious Moments Terminatrix" Alita and the bevy of character actors Rodriguez often brings to his films. He gave it a 7 out of 10 and said that there was probably an unserved audience out there who would positively adore it, and praised it for at least trying even if it didn't stick the landing.
  • Allied: “Well, shit. This was pretty damn good. You know what would’ve made it even better? If they hadn’t given away the big second-half twist in the trailer.” It’s an entertaining Genre Throwback to 1940s–’50s wartime romances that Brad Pitt, an actor who exudes that sort of classic Hollywood leading-man appeal, seems like he was born for. Knowing the big twist about Marion Cotillard’s character going in did detract from it somewhat, however, and it could have stood to be longer so it had more time to flesh out the plot and characters. Even so, he called it a very solid and well-made film, giving it three stars and a recommendation.
  • Aloha: Highly disliked it, calling it a symbol of how far Cameron Crowe’s career has fallen since his Glory Days. Its main problem is that everything feels like a subplot, with no central story to drive the film: it’s simultaneously about the construction of a rocket site in Hawaiʻi, the romance between Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone’s characters (the latter being a thinly-written Manic Pixie Dream Girl at that, a criminal waste of Stone’s genuine talent), Cooper’s reunion with his remarried ex-wife played by Rachel McAdams, and any number of other plot threads that go nowhere. It’s an utterly disjointed mess that apparently suffered through a Troubled Production, complete with Executive Meddling in a failed attempt to salvage it, and it shows.
  • Alone in the Dark (2005): Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. It gets off on the wrong foot immediately with an Opening Scroll that winds up spoiling multiple moments that the film itself seemed to have framed as twists, and it doesn't get a whole lot better from there. He doesn't think Uwe Boll is a completely incompetent director, as he executes individual scenes pretty well, but it all falls apart in how they're brought together, leaving a story that's nearly incomprehensible (and would have tipped over that line but for said title crawl). He gives it a 1 out of 10, but doesn't blame Boll exclusively for the movie's shortcomings, as the source material's story, like those of many other successful games since the late '90s, is incredibly derivative of any number of contemporaneous popular movies, and taking away the gameplay that helped distinguish it makes the Follow the Leaderinvoked nature of the plot that much more obvious.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man Series: Hated it from the get-go and declared his loyalty to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy as the definitive live-action Spider-Man, seeing the rebooted franchise as a symbol of all of the worst trends in Hollywood blockbuster moviemaking. Years later, after the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Spider-Man: No Way Home referred back to plot points from this film and its sequel and caused something of a reevaluation of them, he compiled his previous essays and videos on them into a lengthy episode of The Bigger Picture, stating that "it still sucks" and that his opinions had not changed one bit in the years since.
    • The Amazing Spider-Man: invoked “A rancid, terrible, stiflingly inept, torturous-to-sit-through piece of s*** whose every second of its unforgivably long running time feels like the worst kind of passionless, cynical, mechanical, soulless, assembly-line, commercially focused corporate filmmaking — precisely because it is the worst kind of passionless, cynical, mechanical, soulless, assembly-line, commercially focused corporate filmmaking.” Bob had been dreading this film for over a year before it came out, since it was put into production for the sole purpose of allowing Sony Pictures to hold onto the Spider-Man film rights and prevent them from reverting back to Marvel — who, by that point, would likely never give them back. (Ultimately, Marvel and Sony would end up sharing the rights.) The result didn’t even meet his rock-bottom expectations, irritating him so much he made two Escape to the Movies episodes that week to discuss all his problems with it.

      All that kept him from hating it as much as Green Lantern (2011) was that he found it just too boring and lazy to stay continuously angry at it, what with it completely recycling the origin story that Raimi’s Spider-Man did far better just ten years before. Most of the ‘new’ twists and wrinkles it inserted into the plot and the character of Peter Parker either ruined the character’s mythology, shamelessly ripped off Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and/or Twilight, came off as Contrived Coincidences, or (often) all three, while the action and special effects were bad and the villain’s motivations, personality changes, and behavior made absolutely no sense. (He did later admit, however, that a Twilight-style teen romance about a girl who falls for a hunky, brooding superhero, told from the perspective of the Gwen Stacy figure, would probably be a cool idea for a different movie.) It was bad enough to make him miss the “emo Peter Parker dance” from Spider-Man 3. It may not have been the worst movie he’d seen in 2012 (though at the end of the year he did list it in his bottom ten), but to him, it was easily the most contemptible.

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

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

      Later, he returned to it in the Intermission editorials “How Can Sony Pictures Save Spider-Man?” and “Looking Back at This Summer’s Movies” to discuss the film’s box-office disappointment. He argued that, despite its respectable opening weekend, it still wasn’t impressive for a film that reportedly cost $200-$250 million even before marketing costs were factored in, especially given that Marvel, not Sony (who made the film), controlled the merchandising rights. The fact that, the following weekend, it lost the box-office crown hard to the low-budget, R-rated frat-boy comedy Neighbors must have only added insult to injury. He felt that Sony was stuck between a rock and a hard place with Spider-Man — if they kept making Spider-Man movies, they risked audience burnout and zombification of an already-diluted brand, but if they stopped, they lost the rights to one of their last semi-successful franchises, likely forever. He also offered several ideas for how to make a better Spider-Man movie in the future. In 2017, when Sony struck a deal with Marvel to share the rights, he returned with a new Intermission editorial, "I Told You So", in which he outright admitted that he would "be insufferable about this for a good long while" due to his glee that Spider-Man would finally come to the MCU, though he admitted to some trepidation, fearing that the taint of the Amazing movies might hurt the success of Spidey's MCU homecoming.
  • Ambulance: invoked It was Michael Bay's return to the big screen where his movies are best enjoyed with a film that may not have quite been the best in his filmography, but was certainly the "most 'Michael Bay' movie" he'd ever made: an exercise in sensory excess and broad heroes and villains that never overstayed its welcome and let viewers know from the get-go exactly what they were in for. It felt like "the best action movie of 2005" in how it gleefully embraced the tropes of pre-MCU action thrillers, with straightforward plotting and characterization, a solid cast, the sort of practical effects and stuntwork that Bay has long excelled at, implausible medicine that only added to the fun, and little fat. He called it "a genuine wings-and-beer party movie" that he had a blast with, and gave it an 8 out of 10 and a recommendation over just about everything else in theaters at the time (save for Everything Everywhere All at Once).
  • America: Imagine the World Without Her: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2014 he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year, calling it a Documentary of Lies that utterly butchered the history it claimed to be teaching viewers about to grind its ideological axe.
  • American Assassin: Didn't review it, but at the end of 2017, he named it his second-least favorite film of the year. His description of the movie's plot was accompanied by a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer about its ridiculous premise, which he felt was cooked up by somebody watching too much Fox News in the early '10s, and he summed it up as "an even stupider version of the Jack Reacher movies."
  • American Hustle: “Like an SNL sketch they forgot to bring the jokes for.” Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2013 he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year, finding it inauthentic, mediocre, and hugely overrated, and arguing that David O. Russell has been on a downward slope creatively ever since The Fighter.
  • American Made: He said that it left so little impact on him that he all but forgot everything that happened in it just two days after he first saw it. It squanders the interesting real-life story it's based on, and not even a good, charismatic lead performance from Tom Cruise can save a paper-thin storyline that depends more on cameos from famous figures in the Iran-Contra scandal than anything. It earned two stars and little more than a shrug.
  • American Pie: He hates the series with a passion, considering it nowhere near as funny, edgy, or insightful as people proclaimed it to be, then or now. Didn’t review any of the films, but he mentioned them in his review of The Raid Redemption, discussing why he chose not to review the fourth film, American Reunion, which had come out that week. (He did see Reunion, mentioning at the end of said Raid review that he thought it terribly generic and overly reliant on cameos from the old films and 1990s pop culture references, and at the end of 2012 he named it one of his ten worst movies of the year.)
  • American Sniper: He spent a good chunk of the review discussing the question of whether or not it’s still too soon after 9/11 to review a film about The War on Terror solely on its own merits without being affected by the cloud of what had happened, mainly because he thought that, despite this being the sort of film that he really wanted to like and which was hard to criticize for that reason, he still felt that it “kind of sucks.” He found it to be empty, pointless, and shallow, with Clint Eastwood’s Signature Style of matter-of-fact lack of pretension doing the story a great disservice. It’s little more than a boring presentation of the life of Chris Kyle that offers no perspective on his character, his actions, or even the war wherein he fought, let alone anything that one couldn’t learn in a far superior manner either by watching a documentary or by reading his autobiography. At the end of 2014, he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year.

    He discussed the film further in a Big Picture episode a few weeks later. He clarified that his reasons for disliking the film were exogenous to its politics, while discussing how the film and its success had become a cause célèbre for pro-military conservatives, and how liking or criticizing it had essentially become a political litmus test of ‘patriotic True Americans versus seditious, left-wing Hollywood.’ He also argued that the film was so successful partly because it filled a niche after the Iraq War, making a conflict that seemed to have served no purpose from beginning to end feel more palatable for a nation that affords a great deal of respect to its soldiers, allowing viewers to project upon it (through its thematic emptiness) a narrative where that sacrifice meant something in the end.
  • The Amityville Horror (2005): Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger, in which he also discussed the original film. He called the original "a defiantly routine haunted house pic" that only stood out because of its Based on a True Story premise, which he regards as Based on a Great Big Lie anyway. The same 'what's the point?' feeling of the original applied to the remake, which falls victim to many of the same faults in how it rips off virtually every supernatural horror movie under the sun, past and present, only without the novelty of the 'true story' going for it. He dismissed it with a 2 out of 10.
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Called it “a straight-up modern comedy classic” and one of the funniest films ever made, due to its surreal zaniness and utterly random humor that always came out of nowhere to surprise him. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Winter Is Coming,” and in his review of its sequel …
    • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: It’s nowhere near as good as the first film, having been doomed from the start by the fact that any attempts to replicate the original’s random humor would have been impossible simply because it is a sequel. Its two biggest issues are its ham-handed attempts at satirizing TV news and the fact that its many disparate plotlines never seem to coalesce, almost feeling like a series of Web shorts strung together into a loose story. However, it’s still one of the funniest films of the year and earns a firm recommendation for that alone, even if it has to exist in the shadow of a classic; Bob compares it to Ghostbusters II in this regard.
  • Angel Has Fallen: invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019. He wasn't a fan of either of its predecessors, Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen, finding them "tiresome and dreary", and he said that Gerard Butler ought to fire his agent for this and many of his other post-300 films. He opened his review by asking why the hell he still had to watch and review these movies, with this film boasting some of the worst action in a franchise not really known for quality action scenes, politics so neck-deep in right-wing paranoia as to be unintentionally laughable, and an otherwise capable lead performance from Butler that's dragged down into the muck by everything else (while ignoring some interesting directions it could've taken his character). He gave it a 3 out of 10 and compared it to a bad CBS show, saying that it didn't even rise to the level of So Bad, It's Good like its predecessors did in their more violent moments and telling everyone to see Ready or Not (2019) instead.
  • The Angry Birds Movie: In a Game Overthinker episode released after the trailer came out, he said that he found it ridiculous that Angry Birds, of all games, was getting one of the biggest video game movies of all time, before so many other classic franchises did (even though he thinks the game itself is quite good).
    • The Angry Birds Movie 2: Didn't review it, but he named it one of his twelve least anticipated films of 2019, saying simply that this film's existence would mean having to rewatch the first one, which he remembered only as "not being very good". He ultimately chose not to review it, because there was only a month of beach weather left and he had better things to do with his time, so he reviewed The Bravest that week instead.
  • Animal Crossing: The Movie: Didn't review it, but he named it the sixth-best video game adaptation ever made. There's not much more to it than its "soothing, hypnotic, mellow" feel, but given that that's the mood that the games are designed to capture, it's a must-see for fans, especially with all the characters and in-jokes.
  • Annie (the 2014 movie): Didn't review it, but he discussed it (along with the original Little Orphan Annie comic strip) in the Big Picture episode “Orphan, Black?”note  He felt that the original 1982 film adaptation wasn’t that good, so he doesn’t have a problem with this remake, nor does he have a problem with it having a mostly Black cast (including Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie and Jamie Foxx as the father). He also discussed the original comic’s conservative, pro-capitalist tilt and often fantastical adventures and characters versus the 1977 musical’s left-wing message (which he compared to the Starship Troopers film’s repudiation of the book) and more grounded take, along with the ’82 version’s attempts to incorporate elements of both.
  • Annihilation (2018): While it seemingly strove to be deeply divisive, Bob came down as liking it, as it struck him as a combination of Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris, Ken Russell, and Swamp Thing in how it brought together a meditative, "thinking person's sci-fi" story with lurid genre thrills, as befitting the filmmaker who made Ex Machina. It's one of those movies that is more about the journey than the destination, with Alex Garland's direction, Natalie Portman's lead performance, and the visual design (described as "a Lisa Frank trapper keeper designed by H. R. Giger") selling it superbly, and while it does ultimately provide answers to the big questions at the center of it, those answers are of secondary importance to the metaphors at work within the story. Garland occasionally lets the contrast between the lush setting and Body Horror happening therein go into out-and-out Mood Whiplash, the second act is a touch overlong, and Genre Savvy viewers can probably guess the climax well in advance, but it's still quite thrilling. He gave it three stars, recommended it, and named it his ninth-favorite movie of 2018.
  • Anomalisa: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2015 he named it an honorable mention for the best films of the year.
  • Anonymous: He used his Intermission editorial “Shaken Up” to examine the conspiracy theory that the film was based on. He didn’t review the film itself, but his thoughts on it were mostly positive, calling it “deliberately-paced, fiendishly smart, [and] luridly ribald,” and saying it’ll appeal to fans of The Tudors or the Elizabeth films. In his Really That Good episode on Independence Day, he used it again as a jumping-off point to explain his interpretation of Roland Emmerich’s artistic motivations: making rousing, melodramatic epics that doubled as “important message” movies.
  • Ant-Man: Before it came out, he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Wrights and Wrongs.” He thought that director Edgar Wright’s departure from the film due to Creative Differences was a great loss for both Wright and Marvel, and he’s worried about some of the details that have emerged, but he didn’t think it was the disaster that it had been made out to be. He compared the resulting backlash against Marvel to that against companies like Apple, Google, and Pixar, arguing that the main root of the backlash was in how Marvel seemed to have betrayed its carefully-crafted, geek-friendly brand image by reminding its fans that, at the end of the day, it’s still a movie studio. He also thinks that Wright’s status as a fellow geek had something to do with it, noting there was no similar backlash when Patty Jenkins was fired from Thor: The Dark World. Concerning the non-geek journalists who complained about it, he feels that it (along with their distrust of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general) had to do with their belief in The Auteur Theory, which he regards as having its good points but being far from a universal means of analyzing film (especially big, studio-driven Hollywood films).

    When it came time to review it, he really liked it, finding it to have succeeded at meeting its comparatively small-scale goals more than Avengers: Age of Ultron did with its lofty ambitions, even with that Troubled Production. In a landscape of increasingly bloated superhero movies, including many of Marvel’s own, Bob felt this, a film that’s light on plot but big on laughs and personal drama (he compared it to a beefed-up version of a 1990s Disney film that might have starred Robin Williams), to be a breath of fresh air. He did find the first hour a bit slow, and Evangeline Lilly’s character didn’t get nearly enough screen time (even if he did enjoy the resulting meta-joke about Marvel’s long-time reticence to give the spotlight to a female superhero), but he still felt the overall film to be one of Marvel’s better standalone efforts. At the end of 2015, he named it an honorable mention for the best films of the year.
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp: It toned down the humor of the first movie in favor of a greater focus on action and story, which made Bob feel that it had lost some of its identity, though he still enjoyed it. The plot often felt too convoluted for its own good, but the action scenes were MCU highlights (the shrunken van chase especially felt like a demo reel for a Hot Wheels movie) and both Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly delivered great performances. He gave it three stars and said that, while it felt like it was trying a little too hard, he'd take that any day over a movie that didn't try at all. He also opened his review telling MCU fans to stop trying to figure out where this movie falls in the timeline (especially in relation to Avengers: Infinity War), saying that it will make sense after the post-credits scene and that treating popcorn blockbusters like homework is never fun.
    • Ant-Man 3: Hasn't reviewed it yet, but he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Thanos", specifically the casting of Jonathan Majors in a then-unnamed role in the film rumored to be Kang the Conqueror. He was not enthused, as he found Kang to be a very uninteresting villain, little more than a generic Conqueror from the Future whose possession of Time Travel technology produced a ton of invoked Fridge Logic and whose stories often relied on technobabble and Continuity Porn. One thing he was interested in, however, was how the casting of a Black actor as Kang might be a clue about Marvel's plans going forward, as one of the many bits of lore piled onto Kang over the years is that he is a distant descendant of Reed Richards — which might indicate that Marvel is planning on a new adaptation of The Fantastic Four with a Black Reed.
  • Antebellum: Before he reviewed it, at the start of 2020 he named it his third most anticipated film of the year, saying that it looked like "a heavy trip" with its mysterious plot rooted in the horrors of plantation slavery. In his review, he firmly recommended it, especially for Janelle Monáe's lead performance, though he had to put most of the review behind a spoiler warning because he felt that it was impossible to explain what worked and what didn't about the film without at least hinting at the mechanics of its Plot Twist. The first act is filled with a lot of brutality and violence, much of it sexual and directed against Monáe's character, in a way that can feel very off-putting, but the action and righteous anger of the third act made up for it in his book; he compared it to a "Black bourgeois Death Wish, but where Charles Bronson is Soledad O'Brien" in its Wish-Fulfillment fantasy. It helped that it was a very stylish and visually inventive film on top of it, one that grabbed him on a visceral level as well. His biggest problem with the film was with the twist, specifically the fact that it was a twist at all, stating that the film would have been better off if it had been up-front about what it was about from the start and that it felt disjointed otherwise. As it stood, the first and third acts of the film felt like two very different movies, like a version of Schindler's List that suddenly turned into Inglourious Basterds halfway in. Overall, however, he liked it, and gave it a 6 out of 10 while calling it "much more interesting than a lot of other things less flawed."
  • Apocalypse Now: Didn’t review it, but in the Big Picture episode “Is The Hobbit Too Long?”, he cited it as proof that not every scene in a movie must drive the plot forward. In this film’s case, the sheer length of the movie served to wear viewers down, making them feel like Captain Willard and his men as they slogged their way to Colonel Kurtz’s camp.
  • Aquaman (2018): Before Bob reviewed it, he named it his tenth least anticipated film of 2018. By then, Warner Bros. was just doing damage control on the DC Extended Universe, and he expected this film, shot before Justice League stumbled into theaters to a collective shrug, to be the last visible symbol (and a very visible one) of that Off the Rails franchise before they moved forward with their attempt to fix it. He finds Jason Momoa to have remarkably little charisma and screen presence given his status as The Big Guy, and while James Wan is a talented director, at this point even he probably couldn't save a movie that would likely only add another layer of tarnish to Aquaman's reputation. When he reviewed it, however, he said it was "either the best bad movie, or the worst good movie, of 2018." He was on board with it for Wan's beautiful direction, its foresight to pair Momoa with castmates who can act better as much as possible while allowing him to rest on his natural charisma, and its total and refreshing lack of shame about what it was — which about made up for its overcomplicated plot coupled with a rather simplistic and often contradictory storyinvoked, overabundance of Backstory, and Mood Whiplash. He gave it three stars and compared it to the 1980 Flash Gordon movie (to use what he admitted was a overused reference for people like him) as silly genre films based on old properties go.
  • Argo: An “exciting, engaging spy thriller” that avoids the trap that many films about the film industry fall into (i.e. becoming an excuse to indulge in inside jokes about Hollywood), instead wisely putting the focus squarely on the rescue mission that drives the main story. It’s not very showy, but the lack of such theatrics works to its benefit. He opened the review giving a Cliffs Notes version of the Iranian hostage crisis and how it affected American politics. Later, in the Intermission editorial “Gold Bugged: Mea Culpa,” he discussed how nearly every major professional film critic, himself included, had missed this film as a potential Oscar contender.
  • Armageddon: Didn't review it, but in his review of First Man, he called the first half of it (before the characters actually go into space) and the ending as his third-favorite Michael Bay movie after Bad Boys II and Pain & Gain, citing its great cast, one of Aerosmith's better ballads, and its lack of pretense about the sort of Summer Blockbuster it is and insisting that it's better than people give it credit for.
  • Army of the Dead: It was too long and suffered from invoked Ending Fatigue and Mood Whiplash, but it was still Zack Snyder's best movie in a while, confirming Bob's belief that the DC Extended Universe was a poor sandbox for Snyder's talents. Its fairly predictable plot was buttressed by Snyder playing to the mix of action-packed excess and on-the-nose mythological/pop culture allusions that has always been his greatest strength, the actors all seemed to realize that they were in a live-action Call of Duty: Zombies match and played their roles accordingly (with Dave Bautista and the female cast in general, especially Tig Notaro, singled out for praise), and the idea of semi-intelligent Elite Zombies who act like orcs was a cool one even if it felt like the film didn't follow through on some of the cool things it seemingly foreshadowed. It didn't seem to know when to end, however, and it left behind plot holes as it did (including seemingly forgetting about an important character during the climax); this was a movie that Bob felt should've been either a tight, ninety-minute action/horror flick or a sprawling miniseries with room to breathe rather than a two-and-a-half-hour Epic Movie. Overall, he enjoyed himself with the film despite its faults, and gave it a 7 out of 10 while saying that, when it worked, it really worked.
  • Arrival: He describes it as a film that wants to be “the thinking man’s Alien Invasion blockbuster,” and while its premise may sound insufferable at first glance, a nuanced screenplay that avoids Black-and-White Morality helps make it a great movie, succeeding where Contact (a film with a similar premise) failed by putting its money where its mouth is and actually being smart rather than pseudo-intellectual. Couple that with a great cast led by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and you have a solid film that Bob gives three stars and describes as feeling like a very good episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), though without spoiling anything, he said that the ending felt like it was “a little too clever for its own good.”
  • The Artist: He liked it on a superficial level, but he didn’t love it like so many other critics and moviegoers did (though he understands why many of them loved it). He found the story and characters to be rather shallow and overly reliant on its gimmick, and the film overall to be deeply rooted in rom-com conventions and not quite as intelligent as it thinks it is. He felt its Academy Award for Best Picture to be wholly undeserved.
  • Assassination Nation: invokedIt's the sort of niche, hard-to-market indie film that tends to crop up around early-mid fall, and like many such movies, it's the sort of film that nobody is really ready for no matter how much they think they might be. It was a righteously furious action thriller that combined the basic setup of The Legend of Billie Jean, the aesthetic and characterization of Spring Breakers, the Burn Book scene from Mean Girls, the ultraviolent satire of The Purge, and a massive dose of unsubtle, Trump-era feminist rage to produce a film driven by style and metaphor even at the risk of falling into plot holes. It was a brutal film, its violence meant to be legitimately shocking rather than entertaining even as its characters treated violence with the flippancy of a Quentin Tarantino movie, and it boasted a spectacular cast led by Odessa Young as the nominal heroine of the Four-Girl Ensemble at the center of the film. While he felt that the direction was sometimes too stylized for its own good, and that the mystery of the hacker's identity was given too much weight compared to the damage his actions caused, he still gave it a three-and-a-half-star recommendation and said that, while it was undoubtedly a divisive affair, he expected it to resonate quite well among its teenage/young adult target audience (especially young women). At the end of 2018, he named it his tenth-favorite movie of the year.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): He entered this movie expecting it to suck from beginning to end, and it did. It plays the silly premise of the game franchise deathly straight with no sense of fun, it focuses on the least interesting element of the series’ mythos while draining any tension from the scenes in the Animus, the characters are ciphers matched by the amazingly flat performances of its otherwise very good cast (except for Michael Fassbender, “who mugs his way through this shit like he thinks he’s gonna morph into Daniel Day-Lewis at any minute”), it looks bad on its own, and the editing is awful, which Bob sees as a sign of Executive Meddling in an attempt to appeal to the action crowd. Unable to muster even a sense of righteous anger at this misguided production, and understanding why it was dumped against several surer blockbusters to die a quick commercial death, he gave it a half-star out of four.
  • The A-Team: Called it a fun action flick, enhanced by the characters’ marked enjoyment at all the cool deeds they get to do, i.e. ‘not every character needs to be Batman.’
  • Atlas Shrugged Part I: Takes a book full of deep political philosophy and genre-bending sci-fi, and only covers the dull introduction while Bowdlerising many of the edgier parts of Ayn Rand’s belief system. The result: a boring film that feels like it was made for TV, and which could have been far better, especially given its production history.
  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!: Devoted an episode of his 2020 Schlocktober special to both it and the franchise as a whole. It was one of those films that endured largely through its title alone, something so self-consciously cheesy that it became a byword for cheesy sci-fi horror B-movies — which was the entire point, given that it was a parody of those sorts of movies in which, instead of the hyper-competent government of its '50s forebears, the soldiers, cops, and agents battling the titular threat were instead the Obstructive Bureaucrats of '70s cinema. Beyond that, it mostly had one joke, a '50s B-grade monster plot in which the monsters were completely ridiculous on purpose, but it was a joke told well enough and in enough different ways that it didn't wear out its welcome. It was effective as both a Horror Comedy and a family-friendly kiddie matinee (some invoked cringeworthy racist jokes aside), and its discovery by trash cinema connoisseurs Michael and Harry Medved turned it into the Sharknado of The '80s, a Cult Classic among the emerging So Bad, It's Good film fandom. Regarding the franchise as a whole, he generally liked most of the films, and found it rather nice that the whole thing went down without any bad blood over things like rights issues, credit, or whatnot, as is so often the case with low-budget genre filmmaking.
    • Return of the Killer Tomatoes!: Put into production thanks to the first film getting a invoked Colbert Bump from Muppet Babies (1984), it wasn't as good as the original, but it was still enjoyable, and knew exactly what kind of movie it was. Its success took the franchise down the natural route for any successful '80s property with a young fandom, a Merchandise-Driven Saturday Morning Cartoon.
    • Killer Tomatoes Strike Back!: Probably the worst film in the franchise, a tepid neo-noir parody best known for its lead actor going on to future Reality TV "fame" and for a really terrible joke about Mike Tyson's Domestic Abuse of Robin Givens.
    • Killer Tomatoes Eat France!: An improvement over the last film that sent the franchise out on a decent note, its plot a parody of The Man in the Iron Mask and French culture in general that provided plenty of laughs.
  • Atomic Blonde: The trailers had been marketing this as a Distaff Counterpart to John Wick, and while it delivered on that front, it had more than that. The main plot of the film was a fairly conventional Spy Fiction story that thought it was smarter and more interesting than it actually was, but it was redeemed by Sofia Boutella serving as an excellent Love Interest for Charlize Theron's protagonist, their relationship serving as the human core for Theron's character and the film as a whole (to say nothing of how the film, a hard-edged action thriller, treated a female-on-female romance so matter-of-factly), even if its resolution felt a bit trope-y. That said, the action was what makes this movie, with Theron proving to be an exceptionally badass action heroine who thoroughly averts Beauty Is Never Tarnished, and many scenes looking so spectacular on screen that they are likely to be referenced, homaged, and imitated by other action movies for years to come. It may be "just a few meters shy of genuine greatness", but he still gave it three stars and said that there's "not much to it, but what's there is good stuff."
  • Attack of the Super Monsters: Less a film than it was a translated collection of a few episodes of a Japanese toku series called Dinosaur War Izenborg. It’s weird even by Japanese standards, combining live-action monster/robot rumbles (done with laughably obvious Off-the-Shelf FX), anime human characters that fit all the stock anime/toku archetypes, and creepy Incest Subtext, but it’s watchable if you’re into that kind of stuff. He also discussed the practice in the early days of home video of importers translating foreign (often Japanese) cartoons, toku shows and monster movies and releasing them Direct to Video. Discussed it in his 2012 “Schlocktober” special.

    A few years later, in the In Bob We Trust episode "Keep Circulating the Tapes" (a list of ten movies he'd most like to see riffed on a hypothetical twelfth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000), he mentioned it in his number-five entry, which was a relatively obscure bad animated movie.note  Alongside it as other such possibilities, he suggested a poorly dubbed Jim Terry or Harmony Gold anime film or the Gumby movie. (Ultimately Rifftrax, one of MST3K's Spiritual Successors, would tackle this film in 2020.)
  • Attack the Block: Loved it. While he didn’t review it, he recommended it on several occasions in his contemporaneous reviews, comparing it to old-school “John Carpenter high-grade B-Movie ass-kicking” during his episode on films that were Not Screened for Critics, and arguing that it was incredibly deep for what is essentially a B-grade monster flick. At the end of 2011, he listed it as one of his top ten movies of the year.
  • Audition: Discussed it in a Big Picture episode on its director, Takashi Miike. He described it, an arthouse horror film that became a breakout international sensation, as a Black Sheep Hit for Miike, one that caused Western film critics unfamiliar with his body of work to stare in slack-jawed horror at just how screwed up the rest of his movies could get.
  • August: Osage County: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2013 he named it one of his ten least favorite movies of the year. His reaction to the film the moment he heard about it was an unenthusiastic “oh great, it’s that time of year again,” and he compared the result to “Caucasian telenovela Cheez-Whiz”, with dramatic revelations that fell flat and otherwise talented actors hamming it up with terrible Midwestern accents to the point of embarrassing themselves.
  • The Autopsy of Jane Doe: A long-awaited return from the director of The Troll Hunter that's proves that he's a genuine talent rather than a One-Hit Wonder, with Bob giving it three-and-a-half stars and calling it "one of the most original and satisfying horror movies in a long time." It's a scary, straightforward film that doesn't overstay its welcome or rely on cheap scares, with Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch both delivering outstanding performances as the father-son mortician protagonists, their job description helping to answer the common horror movie question of why they don't just leave the creepy morgue where the film takes place. He couldn't go into further detail without inviting spoilers, though he did say that the plot is pretty easy to figure out after a certain point, the only real flaw he could think of.
  • Ava: Called it "a by-the-numbers assassin thriller where an absurdly overqualified cast" that felt less like a real movie than it did a feature-length demo reel for an actor or filmmaker eager to prove their ability to make an action espionage flick. Technical competence wasn't enough to excuse a invoked Cliché Storm of a Spy Fiction plot, the end result ultimately boiling down to a 4 out of 10 for a film where there wasn't a lot to really criticize, but not a lot to praise or even talk about either.
  • Avatar: Ultimately very positive. He notes that while the plot itself isn’t original, it helped in keeping the audience immersed in the fantastic world-building and theme-driven story. He also lampshades the fetish potential behind it, noting that DeviantArt will probably go nuts with the movie and compares Neytiri to Jessica Rabbit as potential fetish material.
  • The Avengers (2012): He'd been hotly anticipating and hyping up the very idea of it ever since The Stinger at the end of Iron Man. As explained in the Big Picture episode “Future Assembly,” he’s particularly excited about the possibility of shared continuity becoming part of the DNA of moviemaking, just as it is for comics and, to a lesser extent, television. However, he recognizes that it could easily have some serious pitfalls, and he later came back to this subject (in his Intermission editorialAvengers: The Down Side of Up”) to say that Hollywood has drawn the wrong lessons from the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, continuity being among them.

    When it finally came time to review it, he loved the hell out of it, saying that it was a great film on its own merits and a downright miracle given what it took to make the film possible, and felt it was the new standard against which all future comic book movies will be judged. It marked the first time that a movie of its kind had managed to bring the full “comic book” experience — the sprawling storylines, the disregard for genre, the massive cast — to life on the screen without being too timid or serious. Much of the credit goes to writer/director Joss Whedon, whose experience with Buffy and Firefly has made him an expert at handling these kinds of large casts and group dynamics, and who takes a simple, straightforward main plot and manages to elevate it head and shoulders above nearly anything like it. A few years later, he came back to the film in an episode of Really That Good to expand on what he said in his review. He argued that what made it a truly great film was that it was about the characters and their interactions rather than the action, taking the themes of friendship and unity found in many Silver Age comics and building the entire film around them. This elevates the action scenes more than the cinematography or special effects ever could (though those too are great on their own), and more than makes up for the film’s flaws (which are admittedly numerous). He also argued that this film, and the MCU in general, is the sort of thing that could only have become a mainstream phenomenon in the Internet age, when it became much easier to follow the concept of a shared universe between movies. Marvel was merely the first company to figure out how to do it, and more importantly, they made proving that it could work the entire crux of the film. At the start of 2020, he named it the defining film of The New '10s. While it wasn't even the best of the Avengers movies (let alone the best Marvel movie), it was still impossible to deny the manner in which it completely reshaped Hollywood cinema in its image on a level comparable to Star Wars. It and the broader MCU also reflected the ethos of the times, refashioning superheroes less as vigilantes and more as peacekeepers, emphasizing both individual achievement and collective action in equal measure, and celebrating bonds of friendship and camaraderie over blood, family, and nation.

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

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

      On the spoilers side,invoked the ending was a massive downer and impressively audacious Wham Episode that may or may not have reduced several children watching the movie in the same movie theatre as him to tears, with Bob saying that only a movie with supremely-solid box office expectations like Infinity War itself could afford to go out on such a note. He understands why the inevitability of Spider-Man, Black Panther and Doctor Strange coming back could hamper someone's ability to invest in the stakes of the sequel, but personally he was still deeply emotionally-affected by moments like Peter Parker's death scene because they were very well-acted scenes and he personally lays his stakes on in-the-moment execution rather than the ongoing meta-narrative. As a side note, he was delighted by the Red Skull's surprise return — it didn't make any sense for him to be where he was, or know what he did, but nevertheless Bob's glad he's still around, and was sorely tempted to give the film a full four star rating just for having him in it. Finally, his In Bob We Trust video "You Are Being Too Hard On Star-Lord" was devoted to the scene where Peter Quill unintentionally released Thanos from Mantis' embrace, conceding that it was an in-universe fuck-up but adding that a lot of people in real life weren't being fair to Quill due to the circumstances leading up to that scene and encouraging them to take it easy on him.
    • Avengers: Endgame: invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. One way or another, this was going to be another Wham Episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and anybody with any interest in the franchise was going to see it if only to know who made it out alive. When it came time to review it, he gave it an 8 out of 10 and described it as pure fanservice for longtime MCU fans, and later named it an honorable mention for his favorite films of the year, saying that it would've made a Top 15 list of his even if it didn't make his Top 10. It was the first movie in the series to feel as if it depended on prior knowledge of the other films as opposed to a standalone story that had Easter eggs for the fans, between a second act that was almost a Clip Show of the franchise's greatest hits (in a good way) and a climatic superhero throwdown that was jam-packed with show-stealing cameos from both MCU veterans and newer characters getting their chance to shine. It worked well as both an action movie and an ensemble character drama about how the characters coped with the aftermath of Infinity War, with Karen Gillan being the surprising MVP in the cast as the one who had to carry numerous major and heavy scenes. He called it both a great swan song for the "old" MCU and a promising showcase for its future, even if it was kind of shaggy and unwieldy in spots. He went into more, spoiler-filled detail in the following week's Big Picture episode, "Avengers: No, Really — Now What?"]], describing where the MCU could go moving forward while highlighting various bits of Fridge Logic that he noticed.
  • Awakenings: Another great completely straight Robin Williams performance, this time also proving he could play second fiddle (in this case, as a doctor who’s revived Robert De Niro’s character from a coma). Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies,” a retrospective on the late Williams’ career.

  • Baby Driver: A film that made him glad that Edgar Wright got kicked off of Ant-Man to make his own film rather than get sucked into the Hollywood franchise machine, even if the plot was filled with amusing parallels to Guardians of the Galaxy. It's another one of those movies that Wright seems to specialize in, one whose pitch (in this case, The Transporter as written by Nicholas Sparks) makes it sound like it should absolutely suck but which turned out to be incredible, especially when you go back over it and look at the care and love that went into it. Not only does it include some of the best car chase and shootout scenes in recent memory, but Ansel Elgort made for a phenomenal protagonist, Playing Against Type as a character who is fairly inscrutable and slightly 'off' but is made all the more compelling for it, especially with the other characters' reactions to him. He gave it three and a half stars and predicted it would be one of the best films of summer 2017.
  • Bad Boys (1995): Describes the series as a whole, throughout its entire run, as a Genre Throwback to the buddy cop movies of The '80s that glamorized Cowboy Cop antics in the service of over-the-top action scenes, only here, both the cops were hip, funny Black guys. He also noted how the first film was originally supposed to star Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey and be a more straightforward parody of that type of action movie.
    • Bad Boys II: Calls it “Michael Bay's masterpiece” and the exemplar of his filmmaking and nihilistic style. It's "one of the most over-the-top, violent, and explosive films of its type", its themes mostly boiling down to "nothing matters, everybody sucks, but watch how awesome it is when I blow it the f*** up!" Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of Pain and Gain and...
    • Bad Boys for Life: It relied a bit too much on generation-gap humor with its portrayal of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence's characters interacting with the younger, more high-tech police team (who felt like they were being set up for a Spin-Off), the cartel villains were cliched, and losing Bay as a director meant that, barring one real standout action sequence, his sense of "Bayhem" was sorely missed. That said, the chemistry between Smith and Lawrence still worked, he liked the fanservice call-backs for fans of the series, and the new directors still turned in serviceable work. Overall, he gave it a 6 out of 10 and said that fans would likely be satisfied, even if it wasn't a must-see.
  • The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans: It’s certainly not at all forgettable for its Refuge in Audacity. He noted that Werner Herzog used Nicolas Cage’s Large Ham nature as the Villain Protagonist very well.
  • Batman (1989): One of the most influential superhero movies ever made, with a pop culture impact that Bob considers as great as that of Star Wars. He credits the film with proving to Hollywood that superheroes not named Superman could be huge box office draws, as well as launching Tim Burton’s career and having its influence loop back into comic books. On the other hand, he feels that the film itself is good but also deeply flawed and uneven, with large gaps in logic and it inaugurating several negative trends that plagued later Bat-movies, such as having stunt-cast villains who completely drive the story. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his Big Picture episode “Batman Revisited Part 1,” a retrospective on the pre-Christopher Nolan Batman movies.
    • Batman Returns: Called it “a much more extreme version of its predecessor,” in that the first movie’s good aspects — Burton’s artistic sensibilities, the set design, Danny Elfman’s music, and the action scenes — were better in this one, while its bad aspects became almost disastrous. Between the two movies, Bob feels that, while Burton made a pair of incredibly stylish Batman movies, he didn’t really “get” the character and his universe, finding that the story was the weakest components of both of Burton’s Bat-movies (particularly the second one, which he had greater control over). Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in “Batman Revisited Part 2.”
    • Batman Forever: After the backlash by Moral Guardians against the dissonance between Returns’ dark, twisted atmosphere and its kid-friendly merchandising, replacing Tim Burton with Joel Schumacher and going in a Lighter and Softer direction probably sounded like an excellent idea. The problem was that, by this point, Batman had become a Cash-Cow Franchise for Warner Bros., and so the emphasis was more on managing the brand than crafting a good film, the (now unavoidable) issue of stunt-cast, and often miscast, villains dominating the film without adding anything to it being among the biggest signs of this. That said, Bob still found it to be a good movie. He commended the film's Character Development of Batman/Bruce Wayne and felt that it set up a plausible new direction for the franchise, and he didn't really see how Schumacher ‘destroyed’ the series, given that Forever’s problems were many of the same that plagued the last two movies. If anything, he lamented how Schumacher's Bat-films completely overshadowed a career of legitimately good, eclectic, and interesting films for a generation of film and comic book nerds. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in “Batman Revisited Part 3” and the Intermission editorial “When Jim Carrey Ruled the World,” a retrospective of Jim Carrey’s ’90s career, and in the Big Picture episode "The Survivor", a tribute to Schumacher after his passing in 2020.
    • Batman & Robin: It was a really bad movie, with bad casting and production design, Mood Whiplash all over the place, and a terrible script that made even less sense than those of its three predecessors. It was a symbol of all that was wrong with big, empty popcorn blockbusters in The '90s, and especially the culmination of all the growing problems that had been plaguing this series. Contra the consensus that this was a toxic neutron bomb, however, Bob viewed it as So Bad, It's Good and compared it to movies like Flash Gordon and Street Fighter. If nothing else, it was important in film history for having spurred on the rise and growing importance of Internet film criticism, with all that came with that (including, perhaps, his own career).

      He thinks there are two major reasons why this movie is so viscerally hated while comparable turkeys like Showgirls are cult classics. First, the film’s campy, Lighter and Softer, almost Adam West-like take on the material clashed with the Darker and Edgier aesthetic that was popular in the Batman comics of the time — many Bat-fans felt (wrongly, in Bob’s opinion) that the 1960s Batman show had ruined the character, and that drawing from that well was tantamount to Canon Defilement. Second, and related to the above, he felt that there was also a homophobic undercurrent to the hatred of the film, given that many of the most vitriolic criticisms were against things like the nipples and codpieces on the protagonists’ suits and the aforementioned camp sensibilities as opposed to the film’s deeper narrative problems — particularly Unfortunate Implications when one considers that director Joel Schumacher was openly gay. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in “Batman Revisited Part 4.”
  • The Batman (2022): invoked Before he reviewed it, he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "The Dork Knight Rises", specifically the casting of Robert Pattinson as Batman. He argued that, looking at the history of the actors who played Batman, Pattinson was an extremely appropriate choice for the part, a Tall, Dark, and Handsome guy best known for playing a brooding vampire who had spent the decade since that critically maligned role becoming a genuinely good actor in acclaimed, smaller-scale films. He thought that the negative reaction that many fans had to his casting was a side-effect of the extraordinary hatred, out of proportion to its actual faults, that Twilight received from a large segment of young male geeks (himself included, admittedly) in the late '00s/early '10s, and that the decision to cast him as Batman suggested that the next film, whether consciously or not, seemed to be designed in opposition to the tastes of many of the most vocal Batman fans — tastes that, in Bob's opinion, were directly responsible for many of his problems with the DC Extended Universe, meaning that he fully embraced Pattinson's casting right out of the gate. In another Big Picture episode, "Obligatory New Batman Images Show", he discussed the reveal of what the Batsuit and Batmobile would look like. He was mixed on the Batsuit, but he loved the Batmobile, specifically how they were going with a regular muscle car instead of the massive tank from The Dark Knight Trilogy. Going by the Real Is Brown look and some other aesthetic similarities, he suspected that Matt Reeves was drawing heavily on Batman: Year One for inspiration, which he didn't find to be a particularly inspired direction given how many Batman stories have cribbed ideas from that book and his overall disaffection with Darker and Edgier takes on Batman, but he was still intrigued by how the film would turn out.

    When the first trailer premiered at the 2020 DC Fandome event, he discussed his thoughts in another Big Picture episode, saying that the trailer sapped much of his anticipation for the film. While it didn't look like a bad film, he still found it "tiresome" that they were again trying their hand at a Darker and Edgier Batman, a film that he felt as though he'd seen a dozen times before even discounting all the behind-the-scenes pitches and production lore he was familiar with. It looked like the kind of movie that he might've loved when he was a teenager, except he was now a 39-year-old man who'd long since come to see such material as boring and juvenile.

    When he reviewed it, he said it was overly long, suffered from Ending Fatigue, was weighed down by a Kudzu Plot that didn't really work as a mystery, and overall felt like an HBO Max miniseries that got compressed into a feature film. The dark and gritty detective movie tone also clashed with the more outlandish superhero elements, and while he appreciated its Internal Deconstruction of the Batman mythos, particularly the class issues inherent to the character (which he felt took guts given the audience the film was marketed towards) and the idea that Batman may not be as hyper-competent as he thinks he is, he felt that the film ultimately went only halfway in exploring those themes. (He went into more, spoiler-heavy detail on this in a Big Picture episode, "The Anti-Batman Batman Movie", the following week.) That said, it was a very well-crafted film on a technical level, with both Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz proving that they had the chops to handle an action movie like this, and while the David Fincher-inspired aesthetic felt "too cute by half" at times and some of the action scenes felt superfluous, he couldn't deny that the movie felt epic. Ultimately, while the film was better than he expected, he still found it to be "reheated, dressed-up leftovers" of other, better neo-noir thrillers (even if he admitted that younger viewers would probably be blown away by it) and gave it a 6 out of 10. He also opened the review by doing a parody of Batman's gravely-voiced, Rorschach-inspired narration, before cutting it out because even he was getting annoyed by it.
  • invokedBatman: The Killing Joke: Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the In Bob We Trust episode “Killing Junk,” together with the original story. He felt that, on paper, giving Batgirl greater Character Development was a good idea, given that one of the main criticisms of the comic it’s based on is that her character does nothing but suffer at the hands of The Joker to motivate Batman. Unfortunately, the development Batgirl does get in the movie is the worst of all possible worlds, making Batgirl look fundamentally incompetent and making Batman look like an utter creep given the power dynamics at play. He spends much of the episode analyzing the graphic novel, arguing that, while it still holds up passably as its own story, he can’t help but agree with Alan Moore’s Creator Backlash, feeling that much of the comic was shock value for its own sake. He argues that its stature as one of the greatest comic book stories ever written has more to do with the milieu of comic book culture then and now than anything; while a Darker and Edgier take on a “Batman versus the Joker” story was groundbreaking in 1988, it was so influential on later comic books that it suffered from "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny syndrome by 2016, making its flaws much clearer to fresh eyes. At the end of 2016, he named it his second-least favorite movie of the year.
  • Battlefield Earth: Didn't review it, but he discussed it in a special In Bob We Trust episode announcing his special Really That Bad episode about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He felt it to be one of a very few films of the early 21st century that failed so totally as art to merit a Really That Bad episode, alongside perhaps only the said BvS or The Passion of the Christ, and he couldn't deny that this was a bad adaptation of a schlocky novel. He chose not to review it for Really That Bad, however, because beyond just taking easy potshots at a bad movie for close to an hour, the only fragment of cultural context (the whole reason to make a Really That Good episode, and by extension, Really That Bad) in it is its connection to Scientology (the original book having been written by the movement's founder, L. Ron Hubbard) and its deep involvement in Hollywood. He had to admit that, for all its faults, the movie simply did not proselytize Scientology (which he dislikes as both an institution and a philosophy as much as anyone) enough to justify excoriating it on that level.
  • Battle: Los Angeles: He praises it for its realistic depiction of what a war between the Marines and alien invaders would actually look like, but felt that its underwritten plot and characters made it hard for him to care. It’s worth a matinee if you’re in the mood for a gritty war movie, but overall, he doesn’t recommend it. Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it in his Paul review.
  • invokedBattleship: “Pretty much every bit as bad as everyone kind of assumed it was going to be all along.” Bob had been hoping this movie would be at least decent, just so it could surprise everyone who thought it was a bad idea to adapt a board game into a movie (he tries to argue that there are no bad ideas, just bad execution). Its big problem is that its director, Peter Berg, had proved himself far smarter than the material for this film with his past movies Friday Night Lights and The Kingdom (2007), and his attempt to dumb himself down and make a Michael Bay-esque, empty-calorie popcorn blockbuster fails because he and the movie keep outthinking themselves, comparing it to the Urban Legend about the elite chef who couldn’t make a Big Mac. He did like the last twenty minutes and some of the cheekier nods to the board game (even if nobody utters “the line”), and was pleasantly surprised by Rihanna's performance, but it wasn’t enough to make this movie worthwhile. At the end of 2012, he listed it as one of his ten worst movies of the year.
  • The Batwoman (1968): Devoted an episode of his 2020 Schlocktober special to it. It was a pretty blatant Mexican cash-in on the success of the Adam West Batman TV series, one that fused superheroes, Science Fiction, lucha libre, Scenery Porn of its Acapulco shooting location, and lots of fanservice from the titular heroine (while still being very chaste about it), and while the talkier bits dragged it down, it still made for a fun "bad movie night" choice thanks to its heroine and its lavish feel that made it feel bigger-budgeted than it really was (at least when the monster wasn't on screen).
  • Baywatch (2017): It tried to apply the formula of the 21 Jump Street adaptation to something that this style wasn't cut out for, the original Baywatch TV series being a plot-free Jiggle Show as opposed to the campy buddy-cop action show that this film seemed to think it was. As such, the whole joke felt forced here, the film feeling like a toothless Shallow Parody that didn't seem to know what to do with what was otherwise a pretty good premise and a solid cast that's having fun with the material. It might have been funnier had it simply been a cheesy lifeguard beach flick and not gone out of its way to be 'ironic'. He gave it two stars and said that, if you've seen the trailers, you've seen the best of this film.
  • The Beast: Known mainly for its squickyinvoked Interspecies Romance, and a very sick movie to watch. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Test Your Might: Round 2,” a discussion of “extreme” movies.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild: Called it one of the best movies of 2012, combining Magic Realism, youthful adventure, outstanding acting (especially given that the two leads had never acted before), and social/political commentary that is always on point but never preachy, and effectively saying that it was the film that The Hunger Games wanted to be but failed. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Under the Radar.”
  • Beautiful Creatures: While he did like the film's Southern Gothic vibe and the Large Ham performances by Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, it does nothing new with its ‘light versus dark’ mythology, the ending is anticlimactic, and it carries some awkward anti-female undertones. He first discussed his thoughts on the trailer in the Big Picture episode “Next Light,” then reviewed it a week after it was released (nothing that week caught his interest).
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Casting Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers was one of those no-brainer decisions that sounded so obvious at first glance that it might have been the subject of a joke at Hanks' expense. The film could've easily stopped there, but it justified its existence beyond that (even with the existence of the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor?) by telling a deeper, more ambitious, and more nuanced story than the advertising suggested, with director Marielle Heller giving it a dreamlike, fantastical energy and the story hinting that there may be something more going on beneath the surface of Rogers' All-Loving Hero persona, even if it didn't explicitly state what that might be. He gave it an 8 out of 10 and said that, while it wasn't what he was expecting, he more than welcomed what he ultimately got.
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017): "What exactly is the point of this?" It's the first film in Disney's recent cycle of live-action remakes of their past animated films that felt like it was made simply to cash in on nostalgia rather than to add a new spin on the material, with the main changes to the story being to add new songs and smooth out plot holes more than anything. It's not a bad movie by any means; Emma Watson and Luke Evans both gave admirable performances as Belle and Gaston, the casting for the animate objects inside the castle was inspired, everybody's singing was good, and overall, it works well as an example of Disney basically making their own fan-film of the original classic. That said, the Beast himself didn't click with Bob, largely due to the uninspired makeup work, and the lack of anything new hurt it in comparison to its peers. He gave it two and a half stars and called it a "victory lap" on Disney's part in celebrating the original, though he suspected that other people will probably enjoy it more than he did. He also didn't understand why there was so much controversy over Josh Gad's gay take on LeFou, saying that most of it amounted to innuendos reminiscent of the portrayal of Smithers on The Simpsons with only the payoff making the subtext into text.
  • Ben-Hur (2016): Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2016 he named it his eighth-least favorite film of the year. He thought another Ben-Hur movie was ill-advised in the first place, and that this update “chickens out on all the most important aspects” of the classic does it no favors.
  • Benedetta: It was Paul Verhoeven making a trashy, big-budget nunsploitation Euroshlock flick disguised as a classier deconstruction of such, one that Bob explicitly compared to Showgirls in both its soapy plot twists and how lurid it got. In between its borderline softcore lesbian eroticism, it weaved in excellent production values (especially a great pair of lead performances by Virginie Efira and Daphne Patakia) and an in-your-face satire of religion in which the medieval Catholic Church is presented as a cynical political institution where the title character is The Only Believer, one that ultimately seemed to subvert its blasphemous surface trappings — though how much was hard to say, given Verhoeven's usual style. He gave it an enthusiastic 9 out of 10 and called it one of those films where you have to see it to believe it, and at the end of 2021 he named it his favorite movie of the year.
  • Beverly Hills Cop II: Didn’t so much discuss his thoughts on the film as opposed to its polarizing status among fans of the original, and how the sequel was more of an action project while the original was explicitly comedic. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial “Remembering Tony Scott—Part 1,” a retrospective of the late Scott’s career.
  • Big Daddy: Discussed it in his Really That Good episode on its star, Adam Sandler. The last film in Sandler's '90s hot streak, it was an "adult comedian vs. bratty kid" comedy in which Sandler played the Straight Man while the kid was the actual chaos agent, a far cry from his more outlandish performances in other films. Unlike many such films in its subgenre, the kid was as much the main character as Sandler was, almost as if in recognition of the fact that his target audience by that point was as much kids as it was adults. Whereas the marketing played up the idea of Sandler as a dad being a disaster, the actual film approached it from the perspective that it would be awesome for a young boy to have a guy like Sandler as his dad, not just because he's cool but because he'd actually make a good father.
  • Big Hero 6: Called it both a very good superhero movie and a very good Disney family film. The characters are amazing both in concept and execution, with great voice acting and writing that turns them into more than just caricatures, while the fact that their skills and powers are derived from their knowledge and intelligence also makes them great role models for kids. The medical robot Baymax is likewise an excellent character, especially in his interactions with the protagonist helping him overcome his issues with depression. The only thing that really lets it down is its short attention span; it’s not nearly long enough to tell its story properly, and so the superhero plot that makes up much of the back half of the film feels rushed. Still, he gave it four and a half stars, calling it a must-see for fans of both superheroes and Disney.
  • Big Trouble in Little China: Discussed both the original and the proposed remake in the In Bob We Trust episode “Let’s Not Remake This.” He discusses how the original was not just an Eastern-themed martial-arts action film, but also a comedy skewering Hollywood’s portrayal of Eastern cultures by having Kurt Russell’s buffoonish wannabe Action Hero character, Jack Burton, running around amidst the mostly Chinese characters of the film, pretending to be the hero, and finding himself horribly out of his depth while the actual hero (a Chinese man to whom Burton had been mostly serving as a sidekick) saves the day. He views the film as having been made at the last point in time when the tropes and stereotypes it was parodying were still common in popular culture, and that trying to redo the film today, especially seriously, runs the risk of being an unwelcome Genre Throwback rather than a satire given how these tropes have changed in the three decades since.
  • Bill & Ted: He loves the series, and always found it strange that, despite the affection that so many have for it, it never got run into the ground through Wolverine Publicity, merchandising, or endless repetition of quotes and memes the way that so many other "genre" films from its time have been.
    • Bill & Ted Face the Music: At the start of 2020, he named it his fifth most anticipated film of the year. "We're getting a third Bill & Ted with Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter both back. 'Nuff said." When he reviewed it, he called it an unpretentious, good-natured, and very funny comedy that successfully recaptured the feel of its predecessors. It was a bit on-the-nose with the foreshadowing of its big twist, but it was still "infectiously enjoyable, low-key fun", with Reeves and Winter both doing a great job playing off each other and various evil future versions of themselves, while Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine got to do a gender-flipped version of the first film's arc and did it very well. He gave it a 7 out of 10 and called it "most excellent", saying that, while it was fairly slight, it was well worth the wait and paid off big-time.
  • Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2016 he named it his sixth-least favorite movie of the year. While Bob praises Ang Lee for always aiming high, this is one of his misfires, with Vin Diesel’s pseudo-spiritual monologues from The Fast and the Furious applied to actual spirituality coming across as even less fun here than there — especially egregious in a production as full of Ham and Cheese as this.
  • Billy Madison: invoked Discussed it in his Really That Good episode on its star, Adam Sandler. He described it as the film where Sandler codified the manchild archetype that became his character type, in this case a Spoiled Brat failson who never went to school, and how he stood out from both the archetypal comedy protagonists of The '80s and the slacker heroes of other '90s comedies like Clerks. Regarding why the humor connected so well with children, he argued that, while the film was ostensibly about Sandler's character going back to school and having an awesome time, in practice it was really about how awesome it would be if Sandler went to your school for a week.
  • Bio Zombie: Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Big Picture “Schlocktober” special for 2013. It’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) by way of Hong Kong, albeit more comedic (he compares it to a proto-Shaun of the Dead), as well as a time capsule for that city’s youth/geek culture in the wake of the handover. He was impressed by just how much time the film takes to develop its characters before getting to the “good stuff,” though he feels that this probably had more to do with the film’s low budget than artistic intent. He also notes how the film’s non-Western take on the zombie genre diverged from American zombie tropes in a few key ways, particularly where guns are concerned. He also briefly discusses The Walking Dead, saying that both the show and the comic it’s based on are “okay,” but that they were wise to keep the zombies in the background and focus chiefly on the human drama.
  • The Birdcage: An Unintentional Period Piece given how far LGBT rights have come since it was made, but then again, Robin Williams and Nathan Lane gave great performances and deserve all the credit they’ve ever gotten for doing it. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in the Intermission editorial “Remembering Robin Williams Through Movies.”
  • Birds of Prey (2020): At the start of 2020, he named it his tenth most anticipated film of the year. He admitted that it could go either way, but he was excited to see what Warner Bros. had in store now that they realized that the DC Extended Universe was never going to compete toe-to-toe with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, instead embracing a role as the gleefully weird alternative to such and taking much bigger risks in the process. He also devoted a Big Picture episode, "A Little Bird Told Me", to outlining the Birds of Prey's backstory and history in the comics shortly before it came out.

    When he reviewed it, he gave it a 9 out of 10 and praised it as "a fucking blast of a movie" and "a raucous, deeply strange piece of punk rock pop art", comparing it to the films of Troma and Takashi Miike on a Hollywood budget. He was surprised that the studio was willing at all to let the filmmakers make this film the way they did, as a modern, feminist spin on old-school R-rated action-comedies set in their flagship comic book universe, but he was not complaining, thanks to a great cast led by Margot Robbie as what may be the invoked definitive Harley Quinn, its energetic if convoluted story, and excellent direction from Cathy Yan.
  • The Birth of a Nation (2016): Before he reviewed it, he discussed it, together with Hacksaw Ridge and Sully, in the In Bob We Trust episode “The Artist and the Art,” about three 2016 fall-season prestige films that found themselves Overshadowed by Controversy due to the real-life circumstances of their creators (in this case, writer/director/lead actor Nate Parker’s trial for rape and harassment in 1999). He uses this to go into a discussion about the idea of separating the artist from the art when it comes to judging a work on its own merits, arguing that, while seemingly noble, this is a terrible way to review a film, as it not only ignores how a film fits into a creator’s wider body of work, it can also cause critics to miss the intended point the creator was trying to make as well as any Reality Subtext that may be lurking beneath the surface. In this case, it ignores the effort Parker undertook to make the film due to his frustration with the preponderance of White Male Leads in Hollywood, and the comparisons one can draw to the Nat Turner slave rebellion that this film is based on — a lens that, ironically enough, could be just as easily turned around, given that Parker’s accuser was herself denied justice much like the slaves in Parker’s movie.

    When he reviewed it, he gave it two and a half stars, calling it “a decently entertaining, occasionally inspired work of historical melodramatic myth-making.” He touched on the same material in the aforementioned In Bob We Trust episode, and went on to liken it to the works of Mel Gibson, being stylish, violent, blunt, and owing much to religion. He thought the film was at its best when it threw caution and subtlety to the winds and went all-out in being a “Black 300” that told a heavily mythologized version of the story; Bob’s all for the ‘campfire’ version of history, especially given that, for the longest time, the story of Nat Turner’s rebellion had been Written by the Winners and only kept alive through those sorts of campfire tales told in the African American community, and he remained quite impressed that it actually appropriated the title of the pro-KKK silent classic. That said, the ‘respectable’ parts fell flatter because the characters are one-dimensional human avatars better suited to a rousing epic than a somber drama. It's frustratingly incomplete and more like The Patriot than “12 Years a Slave crossed with Braveheart” overall, though Bob admitted he loved the ending. He thought it was “absolutely worth seeing; just adjust your expectations accordingly.”
  • Birth of the Dragon: Despite being presented as a Bruce Lee biopic, it isn't one at all. The real protagonist, a fictitious White man played by Billy Magnussen, has no real reason to be so, especially given that Bob suspected that the character was based on Steve McQueen (who did train with Lee around the time), making Bob wonder why they didn't just make the character McQueen. Furthermore, the Artistic License – History positing that Lee and Wong Jack Man really didn't want to fight their legendary fight rubbed him the wrong way, as did the movie's portrayal of Lee as a borderline Jerk Jock. He gave it one star, said that its lone redeeming feature was the recreation of the fight itself ("if you only have to get one thing right, that'd be the one"), and later named it his tenth-least favorite movie of 2017.
  • Bit: If you've seen The Lost Boys or any other "vampirism as coming of age metaphor" story, you will probably figure out most of the basic story beats early, but where this film stood out was in showing how different that journey can be for different people. The heroine being transgender informed the story and lent it a lot of subtext, but wasn't the main focus, the film instead focusing on its exploration of its various characters and its vampire "rules" while telling a gripping story with a lot of twists and turns. The low budget hurt it a bit, and at times it felt more like the pilot episode of a TV series than a feature film in terms of its storytelling, but overall, it earned a 7 out of 10 on the strength of its cast, its understanding of its target audience, and its ambition.
  • Black Is King: Called it "[Beyoncé's] personal, way out there, trippy arthouse remake of The Lion King" and an afro-pop version of Fantasia that refused classification, regularly striding across the boundary between a feature film, a musical, and a collection of music videos while bearing the unmistakable mark of an auteur project on the part of Beyoncé. It was loaded with homages to filmmakers and artists past and present, and while at times it felt like a film that was invoked designed to be watched while high with someone's mom, it was still a very unique art piece of a sort that could only have existed thanks to the star power of its creator, and at its best it felt downright epic. He gave it a 7 out of 10.
  • Blackhat: By far the worst movie that Michael Mann has ever made and the closest that Bob feels Mann could have possibly come to tarnishing his otherwise awesome legacy as a filmmaker. It's a throwback to '90s hacker-thrillers like Hackers and The Net in all the worst possible ways, with Chris Hemsworth horribly miscast as an elite computer genius and the film employing ridiculous hacking tropes that were dumb even in the '90s and are just painful to watch played straight in 2015. All he liked about the film was that it was well-shot with a few great action scenes (par for the course for Mann), that Chinese actress Tang Wei did well as the Love Interest, and that the studio dumped it in January so Bob didn’t have to go through the pain of putting films by three directors he loved (the other two being Clint Eastwood's American Sniper and Ridley Scott's Exodus) on his "worst of 2014" list. He gave it two stars, calling it "cluelessly melodramatic schlock."
  • BlacKkKlansman: The true story that inspired the film was far enough out there already, and Spike Lee brought his Signature Style and irrepressible energy to the project (as he always does). It's played mostly as Lee's take on the Buddy Cop and Blaxploitation Parody genres, with romance and thrills to boot, until an ending that is clearly designed to make audiences think about how invokedHistory Repeats. Given that the true story wasn't conducive to a conventional three-act structure, the film wound up quite unwieldy, especially with its lack of a real ending, but it was still good enough to earn three stars and Bob recommended it as Lee's most "compulsively watchable" recent film and the sixth-best of 2018.
  • Black Panther (2018):invoked Before he reviewed it, he named it his most anticipated film of 2018. He believed that most film journalists didn't quite appreciate how big an impact this movie already had among Black moviegoers before it even came out, and he anticipated that its full impact afterwards could be comparable to that which the Wonder Woman movie had on female moviegoers. Seeing Afrofuturism brought to the big screen on a blockbuster budget was something that he didn't think mainstream audiences were quite prepared for, noting that, for all its formula, the MCU's blockbuster template left a lot of room for creativity in characters and aesthetics. When it came out, he called it "the best one of these since The Avengers" and "an immediate masterpiece of its kind" even save its importance in the broader pop culture landscape. More than just a superhero movie, it's a straight-up superhero epic about power, politics, and the structure of Wakanda's society and its place in the world; he frequently cited Star Wars as his best comparison for how this film felt in terms of its massive cast and universe. He especially praised Michael B. Jordan as the villain, finding him to be so good, especially in terms of how it allowed the film to tackle all potential Unfortunate Implications of the premise head-on, that it was enough for the film to get away with literally naming said villain Killmonger. Save for some minor Special Effect Failure and what he felt was a bit too short a runtime, he couldn't come up with enough substantial criticisms to stop him from giving it four stars and acknowledgement as his second-best movie of 2018. At the start of 2020, he named it one of the ten defining films of The New '10s for its status as a landmark for Black representation in Hollywood and how the White Male Lead didn't have to be the default, especially coming as it did as part of the Disney/Marvel machine.

    He also discussed it in a few Big Picture episodes. In "Polarity Contest" (the first episode of The Big Picture's relaunch), he discussed the Academy Awards' proposed new category "Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film" (which it decided not to introduce), for which he, like most people, saw Black Panther as the obvious frontrunner. He expected it to backfire on two fronts in its attempt to acknowledge that the best big movies could be as good as the best small ones (besides his opinion that it was really just a dumb publicity stunt for the Academy). He feared it would only reinforce the Sci Fi Ghetto and, worse, the Minority Show Ghetto: considering Black Panther's themes, it astonished and dismayed him that the Academy missed the Unfortunate Implications of potentially giving a largely Black-made-and-cast movie "what will unavoidably be seen as a literal 'separate but equal' Best Picture prize." Later, in "Best Panther", after it was nominated for the official Best Picture prize, he mulled its chances of breaking all the way Out of the Ghetto. While it wasn't even nominated for any directing, screenwriting, or acting Oscars, he was still rooting for it most out of the nominees and thought it just might win the big prize. He justified this hope by drawing on the Academy's history of giving Best Picture to the best example of the kind of movie Hollywood made best and pleased the most people, which now meant noticing superhero and other genre material, recognizing the contributions of minority populations, and picking films that weren't poisoned by association with creators considered troublesome. It didn't hurt, either, that by the (admittedly reductionist) measure of critical scores as measured by websites like Rotten Tomatoes, this was the best-reviewed Best Picture nominee for the 91st Academy Awards. He released "Oscars: Inanity War" the week before the Oscars to explain why he thought this movie deserved to be the first superhero film nominated for Best Picture (short version: it was thematically the richest superhero movie of 2018 and, unlike Avengers: Infinity War, its closest competitor, it's more recognizable as a classical tragedy when you strip away all the other trappings). Finally, after star Chadwick Boseman's untimely death, he explored his Short-Lived, Big Impact legacy in "Wakanda Forever."
  • Black Swan:invoked “Bottom line: do not miss out.” Bob was absolutely blown away, feeling that Natalie Portman really deserved her Oscar for her performance in this film. He begins the review speaking in a faux-stuffy-Brit accent listing all the reasons why he liked it, then drops it for the second half, in which he discusses the Les Yay and how enjoying such scenes isn’t necessarily shameful or objectifying.
  • Black Widow (2021): Before he reviewed it, he discussed it in the Big Picture episode "Russian Doll". He figured that this would be Scarlett Johansson's last outing in the title role and that Florence Pugh was being set up to succeed her in future MCU movies, and he was also intrigued by David Harbour as Red Guardian, who seemed like Marvel responding to audiences' embrace of "fat Thor" from Avengers: Endgame and creating a similar character, and the presence of the Taskmaster as the ostensible villain, especially given that Marvel hadn't yet announced who would be playing the character. This led him to suspect that it was Rachel Weisz's character Melina, the previous Black Widow, on the grounds that not only was the Evil Mentor twist a classic trope in movies like this, but having it be a Samus Is a Girl twist on top of it would be very on-brand for Marvel, especially given the heat they took over how they'd treated Black Widow in past films and how long it took them to give her her own movie. He also declined to put it on his list of his most anticipated films of 2020, largely because it was a smaller Marvel film that he expected to be good, but not great.

    When he reviewed it, he said that it turned out pretty damn good, as was to be expected for what was originally intended as a mid-tier Marvel programmer, such that it was hard for him to find much to say about it without repeating his praise and criticisms of past Marvel movies. He described the plot as "what if Lisbeth Salander was also Jason Bourne?" in its combination of the Bourne series' sci-fi super-spy plot and action scenes with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's gender politics, describing one of the film's running themes as meta commentary on how past MCU films had done Natasha Romanoff dirty. Pugh and Johansson had great chemistry together, with Pugh clearly being set up as Black Widow II, Harbour stole the show as a goofy, uber-Russian Large Ham who felt like he was having the time of his life, the film's version of the Taskmaster got both a nifty new origin story and a combat style that looked killer on screen, and while the third act relied too much on Ass Pulls, the cast ably sold it and it got surprisingly dark for a PG-13 mainline Disney/Marvel movie. He gave it an 8 out of 10 and said that "it could be more, but it's also more than enough." He also noted how Black Widow's invoked Ensemble Dark Horse status in the MCU played no small role in the rise of female-fronted action films in the late '10s and early '20s even as the character's own solo film was constantly held up first by backstage politics and then the COVID-19 Pandemic, such that there was a risk of "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny coming into play when her film finally debuted.
  • Blade Runner: It's a brilliant, genre-defining classic where everything came together just right. It's also a film that absolutely did not need a sequel, as it not only had three definitive endings that wrapped everything up, but the writers, actors, and filmmakers heavily improvised much of what elevated it from good to great. But, it got one anyway. Didn't review it, but he discussed it in his review of that sequel...
    • Blade Runner 2049: An unnecessary sequel to Blade Runner shouldn't have been good, but this movie was good, albeit not as good as the earlier movie. Not only did director Denis Villeneuve emulate the first film's dystopian atmosphere, he also emulated its text-versus-subtext balance. The big difference is that 2049 outright stops periodically for "an abbreviated episode of Black Mirror" to make characters' technological anxiety manifest, whereas Blade Runner relied much more on foreshadowing; still, all these vignettes avert the Wacky Wayside Tribe label because they're populated by interesting characters. The main plot doesn't finish as strongly as it had moved, because the twists were almost bound to come across as predictable and/or less good than their buildup. Still, it earns three stars, its performances, score, direction, and ideas all being good to great and the package not feeling as long as its 163-minute running time. He also opened the review with an Opening Scroll and voiceover homaging the first film mocking Hollywood's tendency to make "Nostalgia Sequels," i.e., sequels that are also essentially remakes of the classic movies on whose names they're trading.
  • The Blair Witch Project: He has always considered it as a decent lo-fi indie horror film, but he always knew it more for the media phenomenon that it created than as a standalone film; in that regard, he “thanks” it for paving the way for Five Nights at Freddy's. His learning just how much of a generational touchstone it was for ’90s kids made him feel really old. Meanwhile, he called it “a turn of ironic fortune” that Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 blew all the first film’s goodwill given the proliferation of Franchise Zombies in horror film. Didn’t review either of the first two films, but he discussed them in his review of the sequel …
    • Blair Witch: It started out looking like it would be something special, especially with how it portrayed its characters as actually prepared for a long trip into the woods, but it squanders its potential by mostly turning into a rehash of the first film with a Big Budget Beefup and only a few interesting twists here and there. It’s still a decent horror movie, though, with the writer/director team of Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard making a film that brings the scares in many ways. Overall, Bob gave it three stars, feeling that, while it could have been far more interesting than the glorified fan film/nostalgia trip that it was, it still worked on its own merits if you could separate it from the original film.
  • The Blind Side: “…a creaking, colossal piece of shit.” Bob despised this film for its agonisingly pandering White Man's Burden plot, absurd corniness in a film Based on a True Story, and ham-fisted attempts to deflect criticism by having the film’s Designated Villainsinvoked point it out in advance, as well as basically just being a safe, bland, boring, middle-of-the-road, committee-designed film that had absolutely nothing meaningful to say that wasn’t borderline offensive. Didn’t review it, but tore it to shreds in his Intermission editorial “The Bland Side.”
  • Blockers: It was a bizarre mishmash of several different types of films — a modern-day update of She's Out of Control, a Distaff Counterpart to Superbad and American Pie, an adult-oriented comedy in the Judd Apatow mold — but it wound up an enjoyable movie anyway. It's surprisingly progressive in how matter-of-factly it treats its teenage heroines' sex lives as something that isn't necessarily shameful, a message likely aimed at adult parents watching the film as much as teenagers, and while the plot and character arcs are predictable, it's a movie that's more about the journey than the destination. The film's main stroke of genius was that it basically took two takes on the same story, trimmed them each down to only the good parts, and then mashed them together into a solid comedy that wound up "doubly funny" from how lean it was, even if it wasn't laugh-out-loud hilarious. Between that, a great cast (especially John Cena as the earnest super-dad and Geraldine Viswanathan as his daughter, with Bob calling the latter a star in the making), and fun jokes that were smarter than they needed to be, it earned a comfortable three stars.
  • Blood Quantum: Called it "a 'greatest hits' of zombie movies" that was still eminently watchable due to how well it played those hits, even before getting into the unique twist it put on the genre. The cast, composed mostly of unknown Canadian First Nations actors, were all excellent, while the twist — that the tribal residents of a small First Nations reservation are the only ones immune to The Virus — was mined for some solid and interesting commentary on race relations without being invoked preachy, especially given the history of the relationship between Natives, Whites, and disease outbreaks. It wasn't just a somber arthouse film, though, as it was also interested in kicking loads of zombie ass, and on that front, it delivered "top-tier, no-bullshit, blood-splattering, gut-munching, gore-spewing, chainsaw-shotgun-samurai-sword-battleaxe-whatever-the-hell-else-they-got horror mayhem". It had great scares, plenty of gore, excellent effects work, a slew of well-developed and badass characters, and a plot that went to interesting places, as though the filmmakers felt that they'd never get a chance to make a movie like this again. He gave it a 9 out of 10 and called it one of the best films of the year and up there with Train to Busan as one of the best zombie films of the 21st century.
  • Blood Sucking Freaks: Takes the idea of the infamous Grand Guignol Theater in Paris to its logical extreme, and notable for being something that even Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman (who distributed the film) considers reprehensible. The special effects don’t hold up well, but it’s still a rough watch. Didn’t review it, but he discussed it in his Intermission editorial editorial “Test Your Might: Round 2,” a discussion of “extreme” movies.
  • Bloodshot (2020): "Universal Soldier crossed with The Matrix a few decades too late." He wasn't at all nostalgic for the age of '90s Anti-Heroes that birthed the comic book this film was adapted from, and as he expected, it wound up a invoked rather disposable B-Movie that played out like a more self-serious version of Deadpool. He liked the twist that it put on what was otherwise a fairly standard plot (especially given the comics' obscurity likely meaning that most viewers wouldn't know the twist going in) and felt that Vin Diesel gave a very good performance as the Shell-Shocked Veteran protagonist, but the action scenes didn't rise to the level of greatness even if they were competently done, and overall, it felt like a retread of any number of other contemporary sci-fi action movies. He gave it a 6 out of 10.
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: Discussed the film adaptation in the Intermission editorial “Artcore,” which was about how sexy European art films were, and still are, often used as Poor Man's Porn. He says that this attitude does a disservice to what are often very interesting films by causing people to miss the point and watch them just for the sex scenes, especially when, as in this case, said scenes serve the story rather than exist for titillation’s sake. He also discussed the controversy surrounding the film winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and how so many critics, in their focus on the film’s white-hot lesbian love scenes, are missing a more interesting story surrounding what was apparently a Troubled Production.

    On the film itself, he called it “one of the most provocative and intriguing films of the fall,” and said that was a must-see for any viewers who had arthouse theaters willing to show an NC-17 film in their area. Once the hype surrounding the sex scenes dies down, he feels that this will be remembered as a great love story unto itself. At the end of 2013, he named it one of his ten favorite films of the year.
  • The Bob's Burgers Movie: Compared it to The Simpsons Movie in terms of it being a bigger, more polished, feature-length episode of the show it was based on, and since "I happen to fuckin' love Bob's Burgers ... I fuckin' loved this movie." It had a lot of neat call-backs to the show, it deliberately made the increased stakes of its plot seem progressively sillier as it ratcheted them up as part of its joke, and while its narrative could feel disjointed at points, that wasn't enough to stop him from giving it a 10 out of 10 largely for the experience of getting to watch a 90-minute Bob's Burgers episode in theaters.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody: Called it "one of the most nakedly cynical creations I can remember play out" that wasn't straight-up Merchandise-Driven, a film made solely to put the music of Queen back in the spotlight, allow the surviving members of the band to engage in some petty score-settling, and enshrine Rami Malek as Hollywood's Next Big Thing. Malek's performance was legitimately great, and the climax of Queen's performance at Live Aid was one of the best concert scenes he'd ever watched in a movie, but to get there, he had to trudge through a Strictly Formula rock star biopic that played very fast and loose with actual history while telling the safe, pop-culture-enshrined version of the history of Freddie Mercury that only scratched the surface of who he was. The signs of its Troubled Production were visible all over it, and the fact that its original director Bryan Singer had been fired from the film due to a sex scandal was more interesting than anything that happened on screen. He gave it one-and-a-half stars and called it a gross disservice to the man and the music it was based on.
  • Boogeyman (the 2005 film): Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger. It starts strong with a great opening scene, and falls apart almost immediately thereafter, the only thing that impressed him being that it didn't go with a Split Personality twist like so many other subpar thrillers and horror films from that time. It's competently shot and paced, but otherwise the definition of So Okay, It's Average, lacking the ambition to do anything interesting. It gets a 4 out of 10.
  • The Book of Eli: Found the plot to be silly and overly reliant on literal Deus ex Machina — after all, if Eli is on a Mission from God, then he can’t lose, thus sucking out all the tension. Ultimately, the rest of the film is no different from any other After the End movie, though he thinks it was well-acted.
  • The Book of Henry: The premise is absolutely absurd, and while the film was technically competent in terms of the acting and Colin Trevorrow's direction, the characters never felt like actual human beings and the tone seemed to undercut the point it was trying to make constantly. However, Bob thought those things made the movie simply bad, not the sort of So Bad, It's Good "you have to see this" trainwreck that so many people had been calling it. He felt that people's utterly weirded-out reactions to this movie were because they treated it as a straight example of the "precocious wunderkind" subgenre instead of the deconstruction of such that it was trying to be. He gave it one star and cited Little Boy as a truly awful example of this sort of film.
  • The Boondock Saints: invoked Discussed the film in his review of the sequel, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, describing the film’s rise to cult classic status through DVD rentals and how it achieved infamy through the making-of documentary Overnight. (He also liked the sequel.) His opinion has cooled considerably since, though. He later came back to it in his list of his favorite films of 2019, describing it in the same breath as Joker in terms of "super-edgy but ultimately shallow movies you thought were brilliant when you were in your twenties not holding up at all to invoked a seriously embarrassing degree even a few years later".
  • Borat: Reviewed it in his early days as a blogger, giving it a 9 out of 10 and calling it the funniest movie of the year and "perhaps the most profoundly important foreign influence over American comedy since SCTV." Sacha Baron Cohen's titular character did a great job exposing the ridiculousness of all the various corners of American society that he poked into, while also serving up some hilarious set-piece gags. He discussed it further in his review of its sequel...
    • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: It grappled head-on with one of the main criticisms of the original film, that its use of ironic humor to satirize bigotry gave license to actual bigots to cloak their hateful beliefs in irony, and as a result, it will probably age a lot better than that film did. While it wasn't as outrageous as the first, it felt more like an actual movie as opposed to a feature-length series of sketches, and it got a lot of mileage out of its main satirical thrust of awful, reactionary attitudes like Borat's now being out in the open in much of the country instead of covered up the way they often were in 2006. The female lead Maria Bakalova also did a great job holding her own with Sacha Baron Cohen, with her character's feminist awakening over the course of the film turning into a large chunk of its emotional core. He gave it a 7 out of 10. He also found it funny, and a blistering indictment of the state of political filmmaking in the US in 2020, that Cohen starred in both this film and the much more serious The Trial of the Chicago 7 around the same time, and this film was the one that had more interesting things to say.
  • Born to Be Wild: “Monkeys and baby elephants in 3D? That works for me.” Didn’t review it, but he mentioned it at the beginning of his Your Highness review.
  • The Bourne Series: Bob’s never liked these movies, finding them to be lukewarm at best and having a hard time recalling anything beyond the broadest story strokes. The only thing stopping him from outright hating the series is the fact that, being from Boston, he’s always inclined to give Matt Damon the benefit of the doubt, and even then, he thinks Damon’s performances in this franchise are well shy of his best, finding Jason Bourne to be a poor man’s version of Christian Bale’s Batman minus the Batsuit. He attributes his dislike to the films trying to straddle the line between the action-packed ‘Martini’ and dark, gritty ‘Stale Beer’ flavors of Spy Fiction and “doing a weaksauce version of both,” with each side detracting from the other. He also felt that the way the films portrayed their all-American, military-industrial complex villains came off ultimately as telling viewers that the USA is so awesome and badass that the only thing that can threaten it is itself. He thinks so many of his fellow critics and moviegoers loved the series, and why it replaced James Bond as the defining spy movie series of the Turn of the Millennium, was because they allowed guilt-free enjoyment of macho, flag-waving Power Fantasy action films in the wake of 9/11 without having to worry about whether they would have suffered from being either too close to home or racially insensitive in their portrayal of terrorists. In this regard, he calls Bourne an “ersatz Jack Bauer figure for guilty liberals looking for a have-your-cake cop-out,” and finds the idea of the series being the “thinking man’s action films” to be mostly hogwash, with only the ending of The Bourne Ultimatum salvaging it in that regard. Didn’t review the first three films, but he discussed them in his reviews of the fourth and fifth films …
    • The Bourne Legacy: “Not bad, not great, but I guess it does the job.” The film’s big reveal was a great twist that really built the character, but then it abruptly ends at what feels like the end of the second act. It feels more like the pilot for a new series starring the new hero Aaron Cross than a Bourne movie. On the other hand, it moves at a rapid pace, and while Bob was never that interested in the proceedings (and had trouble remembering the story just six hours after watching it), he was never bored either — the action scenes are few but very well-shot, and Jeremy Renner has what it takes to be an action star.
    • Jason Bourne: Didn’t enjoy it. The film seemed to be trying to retcon itself into a blank slate status quo, but in doing so, it had managed to undo anything Bob found remotely interesting about the franchise in the process, resulting in yet another drab, bland Bourne film. The only good thing about the film’s other major plot was that Tommy Lee Jones got some good one-liners playing the villain, with the remainder being little but blatant pandering to hacktivists, forcing much of the action to take place in clichéd scenes with people on computers talking to each other through earpieces, leaving one good action scene that could have been great if the characters involved weren’t so dull. He gave it one star, hoping that this would be the entry that would cause the rest of the film world to dislike the series as much as he did.
  • The Boxtrolls: It’s mostly style over substance and not as good as Laika’s previous film ParaNorman, but it’s still well-made, especially on the visual front and in terms of its villain, and a good time for families and fans of Aardman movies alike. He gave it three stars. Reviewed it in an Intermission editorial the same week he reviewed The Equalizer.
  • Boyhood: Hasn't reviewed it, but judging by remarks from his Top Ten Movies of 2016 videos, he views it with contempt. The source of this contempt is that (A) it's a movie where nothing happens in itinvoked whose message appears to be "life happens", and (B) it tried to cover up its empty plot with a "long-form shooting gimmick" in place of an actual story or philosophy. He thinks Everybody Wants Some!!! and Moonlight did a much better job at handling the idea of a minimalist-plotted, fly-on-the-wall movie and that of a movie about how a person can be shaped by their environment and the people in it while growing up respectively.
  • Branded: “The worst movie of its kind I’ve been unfortunate enough to see since Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales.” Bob felt it to be one of the few movies that truly deserves what he feels to be an often-misapplied adjective, “pretentious,” coming off as a smug, stupid mishmash of Mad Men, They Live!, and The Stuff that thinks it’s a lot smarter and more important than it is without ever approaching its inspirations quality-wise. Most of the film consists of either boring, anvilicious monologues about the evils of consumerism, or scenes that break the cardinal filmmaking rule of Show, Don't Tell (and then often show it anyway), and without spoiling anything, its depiction of overweight people was extremely insulting. The only reason to watch it is for its snarking value. At the end of 2012, he listed it as the worst movie of the year.
  • Brave: In his Big Picture episode “Junk Drawer Rises,” he used the trailer’s clip of the seams on Merida’s fancy dress tearing open as she drew the bow as an example of how Pixar knows how to show rather than tell — in this case, showing how Merida is rebelling against the male-dominated world around her by symbolically destroying a symbol of femininity in the process of that rebellion. When it came time to review the movie (which he did in the Intermission editorial “Near Miss”), he found it to be a good, well-made movie that would have been considered great coming from any other studio, but given Pixar’s pedigree it should have been better. Notably, Pixar’s traditionally rock-solid storytelling chops feel wobbly here, with an overly long first act, many one-note comic relief characters, and the main plot only really getting going about halfway through the film. He attributes much of this to the film’s rocky (by Pixar standards) production cycle, with the creative team departing and being replaced during production, leading to what felt like a lot of loose plot threads.
  • The Bravest: invoked This was a willfully cheesy Chinese Disaster Movie that was pretty unapologetic about both its melodrama and its nationalist propaganda, but worked anyway, largely because those qualities were very well-suited to a straightforward movie about heroic firefighters saving the day. And on a pure technical level, it was up there with Backdraft as one of the best firefighting movies ever made, with excellent special effects that were lavishly presented and made the fire feel like a monster. He gave it a 6 out of 10 and wondered why its American distributors weren't giving it better promotion, given that it was the kind of foreign film that even Americans, who normally associate "foreign films" with cult films and the arthouse, would likely love.
  • Breaking In (2018): Bob thought this movie missed a good opportunity to do something unique with its plot, but he always likes seeing Gabrielle Union in a movie and expects this will do reasonably well as a Mother's Day-themed release. It's a passable "Die Hard In and Around Your Childhood Home" thriller with Union giving a good lead performance, but the plot and characters are incredibly pared-down and there's a lot of Faux Symbolism in place of depth. Also, it felt to him like it was all building to a tremendous climax until it didn't — thus, the problem is "missing pieces" rather than "missing story". Still, it's decent if disposable counter-programming between Infinity War, Deadpool 2, and Solo that's worthy of two and a half stars.
  • Brick Mansions: He has no problem with it being an American remake of District 13', since that film was itself a French remake of Escape from New York in all but name. As for the film itself, he liked the interaction and buddy-cop chemistry between Paul Walker and David Belle (the latter reprising his role from District 13), was very impressed by the RZA as the villain, and overall felt it to be a fun action movie that had a consciousness to it without beating viewers over the head with it. He also dedicated a good chunk of the review to eulogizing Walker, saying that he worked best when playing the Straight Man in otherwise over-the-top films. Reviewed it in the Intermission'' editorial “Paul Walker Fights Back from the Grave.”
  • Bridge of Spies: Didn’t review it, but at the end of 2015 he named it his sixth-favorite movie of the year, calling it a film that, when it inevitably hits cable in a couple of years, people are going to be shocked that they ignored when it first came out. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are a perfect fit for this sort of film about people embodying the values that America prides itself on, and they combine it with a great Cold War spy thriller to boot.
  • Bright: Didn't review it and noted that he didn't put it on his list of the worst movies of 2017 because he hadn't seen it. He eventually did see it and discussed it in his review of 2020's Onward, specifically in the context of the two films being Dueling Movies imagining what a medieval High Fantasy world would look like if it eventually advanced to the modern day. The difference was that Onward was actually good, while he found this film to be just dreary instead.
  • Brightburn: Before he reviewed it, he named it one of his fifteen most anticipated films of 2019. He's a massive fan of James Gunn (who produced the film, and whose brother Brian and cousin Mark wrote it), and the idea of Superman's origin story reimagined as a Creepy Child horror movie was intriguing — especially given how the marketing for this felt like a deliberate sendup/subversion of that for Man of Steel. When it came time to review it, he liked it, even though he felt that it could've been better. Its biggest fault came it how it ultimately landed on the "nature" side of the Nature vs. Nurture debate with regards to why its Superman Substitute Brandon was evil, as Bob felt that it was heading to more interesting places when it portrayed his actions as coming from the privilege and coddling he received from parents and authority figures who didn't recognize the warning signs until it was too late. Still, as a straightforward horror movie, it was well-made, brutal, bleak, and effective, such that he gave it a 6 out of 10. "It's worth the time, if you’ve got the time."
  • Broken City: One of those movies that often makes people say “they don't make ’em like that anymore” (Bob avers, saying that they just don’t make it to theaters anymore), a slow-paced crime drama/political thriller that feels like a Law & Order episode fleshed out into a feature film, and feels almost novel thanks to its lack of intense action scenes and its focus on characters and plot twists. It’s good, but not great, with superb acting and solid directing but also an uneven, blunt script that is bogged down by plot holes and unnecessary subplots.
  • Bullet to the Head: Going by the trailer, it looks like the movie that The Expendables desperately wanted to be: a love letter to macho ’80s action movies that doesn’t take itself at all seriously, and instead looks like great fun. He later came back to it, along with The Last Stand, in the special Escape to the Movies episode “Musclepocalypse” (because he felt that nothing that came out that week was worth reviewing) to discuss its failure at the box office and what that means for the action genre, particularly the sort of Rated M for Manly beefcake action movies that characterized The '80s and The '90s.
  • Buried: A tight, suspenseful thriller with a great performance by Ryan Reynolds whose distributors are treating it like a high-minded arthouse film (limited release, promotion to match) rather than the low-budget B-Movie it is, for some reason.
  • Burnt: “Yeesh. What a bucket of suck this thing is.”invoked It’s the sort of movie that’s almost tailor-made to check off every one of Bob’s personal pet peeves — it stars an actor who he finds to be good, but heavily overexposed, playing what’s basically his stock persona; the plot revolves around a jerkass Marty Stu whose arc revolves around him being so awesome at his job (in this case, being a chef) that all the supporting characters just have to learn how to deal with his being an asshole; and it portrays the protagonist’s raging asshattery as something that he’s earned the right to engage in due to how great he is. Furthermore, he finds that, while Bradley Cooper’s cocky public persona may have made him seem like a good choice for this sort of role on the surface, he lends it little depth or gravitas beyond that, and someone like Ryan Gosling or a young Bill Murray or Harrison Ford could have played a better version of this sort of “lovable asshole”.
  • The Butler: In the Intermission editorial “Winter Is Coming,” he said he was excited to see Forest Whitaker in another big lead role, as well as Lee Daniels (the maker of Precious) turning his eye for soapy melodrama towards The White House. He also discussed Oprah Winfrey’s involvement and some of the film’s strange and provocative casting. He reviewed it (and discussed the legal fight that led the film to be called Lee Daniels’ The Butler) in another Intermission editorial editorial, “Based on a True* Story,” where he said that the celebrity cameos were distracting and oftentimes poorly done, and that the convoluted plot too often consumed the film and its putative lead character. Later, in the Intermission editorial “Summer School—Part II,” he interpreted the film’s success as a sign that Hollywood is finally waking up to the untapped gold mine that Black moviegoers represent, rather than allowing hacks like Tyler Perry to have a virtual monopoly on that market.
  • Butt Boy: It was a hard movie to really describe, if only because of the invoked "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer he had to put in front of the plot description, but it was still one of his favorite movies of 2020. He compared it to "True Detective by way of Tim & Eric" in how it played its neo-noir story completely straight, but had the actual crime be something so ridiculous, and only barely acknowledged as such by the characters, that one couldn't help but laugh. Its secret was that, even if one were to remove fact that the Serial Killer is a guy who shoves entire live children up his ass, it was still a good crime thriller on its own, with Tyler Rice delivering a legitimately great performance as a just-barely-exaggerated Hardboiled Detective. As such, even though it was a one-joke comedy, that one joke was hardly the only thing propelling it, the "serious" parts being captivating on their own such that one can forget what the film is actually about — until that "something" comes back in force, delivering a sudden shock that makes them laugh again. He gave it a 9 out of 10 and called it "as close to perfect as something called Butt Boy with the premise of Butt Boy is going to get."