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Dear Flixster Community,

After seven fabulous years with you all, we are sorry to let you know that we're going to be retiring the Flixster Community site on September 30, 2014. Please note that you can still access your ratings, reviews, and quizzes on Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes using your same login. We have had so much fun building this community with you.

Thanks for all the memories,
Flixster

Top Box Office


  • The House with a Clock in Its Walls

    The House with a Clock in Its Walls (PG, 2018)

    In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award (R) winner Cat... read more
  • A Simple Favor

    A Simple Favor (R, 2018)

    A SIMPLE FAVOR, a stylish post-modern film noir directed by Paul Feig, centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy blogger who seeks to uncover ... read more
  • The Nun

    The Nun (R, 2018)

    When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows ... read more
  • The Predator

    The Predator (R, 2018)

    From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home in Shane Black's explosive reinvention of the Predator seri... read more
  • Crazy Rich Asians

    Crazy Rich Asians (PG-13, 2018)

    "Crazy Rich Asians" follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu (Wu) as she accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Golding), to his best friend's we... read more
  • White Boy Rick

    White Boy Rick (R, 2018)

    Set in 1980s Detroit at the height of the crack epidemic and the War on Drugs, WHITE BOY RICK is based on the moving true story of a blue-collar fathe... read more
  • Peppermint

    Peppermint (R, 2018)

    Peppermint is an action thriller which tells the story of young mother Riley North (Jennifer Garner) who awakens from a coma after her husband and dau... read more
  • Fahrenheit 11/9

    Fahrenheit 11/9 (R, 2018)

    Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 11/9" is a provocative and comedic look at the times in which we live. It will explore the two most important questions of... read more
  • The Meg

    The Meg (PG-13, 2018)

    A deep-sea submersible--part of an international undersea observation program--has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extin... read more
  • Searching

    Searching (PG-13, 2018)

    After David Kim (John Cho)'s 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours ... read more

More Movies In Theaters


  • The House With A Clock In Its Walls & Michael Jackson's Thriller In IMAX

    The House With A Clock In Its Walls & Michael Jackson's Thriller In IMAX (PG, 2018)

    No information available.
    In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award (R) winner Cat... read moree Blanchett star in THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, from Amblin Entertainment. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town's sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead. On the heels of the Michael Jackson Diamond Celebration and leading into the Halloween season, IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX) and the Estate of Michael Jackson are partnering to break new ground by digitally re-mastering Michael Jackson's Thriller 3D into IMAX (R) 3D for the first time ever.
  • Life Itself

    Life Itself (R, 2018)

    As a young New York couple goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create rev... read moreerberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes in Life Itself. Director and writer Dan Fogelman ("This Is Us") examines the perils and rewards of everyday life in a multigenerational saga featuring an international ensemble including Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Olivia Cooke, Sergio Peris- Mencheta, Laia Costa, Alex Monner and Mandy Patinkin. Set in New York City and Carmona, Spain, Life Itself celebrates the human condition and all of its complications with humor, poignancy and love.
  • Unbroken: Path to Redemption

    Unbroken: Path to Redemption (PG-13, 2018)

    Based on Laura Hillenbrand's bestselling book, UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION begins where the hit movie Unbrokenconcludes, sharing the next amazing cha... read morepter of the unbelievable true story of Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini. Haunted by nightmares of his torment, Louie sees himself as anything but a hero. Then, he meets Cynthia, a young woman who captures his eye-and his heart. Louie's wrathful quest for revenge drives him deeper into despair, putting the couple on the brink of divorce. Until Cynthia experiences Billy Graham's 1949 Los Angeles Crusade where she finds faith in God and a renewed commitment to her marriage and her husband. Now, her most fervent prayer is for God to help Louie find the peace and forgiveness he so desperately needs. UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION brings to life the rest of this powerful real-life story of forgiveness, redemption, and amazing grace.
  • Assassination Nation

    Assassination Nation (R, 2018)

    High school senior Lily and her group of friends live in a haze of texts, posts, selfies and chats just like the rest of the world. So, when an anonym... read moreous hacker starts posting details from the private lives of everyone in their small town, the result is absolute madness leaving Lily and her friends questioning whether they'll live through the night.
  • Christopher Robin

    Christopher Robin (PG, 2018)

    In the heatwarming live action adventure "Disney's Christopher Robin," the young boy who loved embarking on adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with a... read more band of spirited and loveable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.
  • Mission: Impossible - Fallout

    Mission: Impossible - Fallout (PG-13, 2018)

    The best intentions often come back to haunt you. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT finds Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team (Alec Baldwin, Simon Pe... read moregg, Ving Rhames) along with some familiar allies (Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan) in a race against time after a mission gone wrong. Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, and Vanessa Kirby also join the dynamic cast with filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie returning to the helm.
  • The Wife

    The Wife (R, 2018)

    After nearly forty years of marriage, JOAN and JOE CASTLEMAN (Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce) are complements. Where Joe is casual, Joan is elegant. W... read morehere Joe is vain, Joan is self-effacing. And where Joe enjoys his very public role as Great American Novelist, Joan pours her considerable intellect, grace, charm, and diplomacy into the private role of Great Man's Wife. Joe is about to be awarded the Nobel Prize for his acclaimed and prolific body of work. Joe's literary star has blazed since he and Joan first met in the late 1950. THE WIFE interweaves the story of the couple's youthful passion and ambition with a portrait of a marriage, thirty-plus years later--a lifetime's shared compromises, secrets, betrayals, and mutual love.
  • Operation Finale

    Operation Finale (PG-13, 2018)

    Fifteen years after the end of World War II, Israel's intelligence agency Mossad and security agency Shin Bet - led by the tireless and heroic agent P... read moreeter Malkin (Isaac) - launched a daring top-secret raid to capture the notorious Eichmann (Kingsley), who had been reported dead in the chaos following Nazi Germany's collapse but was, in fact, living and working in a suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina under an assumed identity along with his wife and two sons. Monitoring his daily routine, Malkin and his operatives plot and execute the abduction under the cover of darkness just a few feet from Eichmann's home. Determined to sneak him out of Argentina to stand trial in Israel, Malkin and Eichmann engage in an intense and gripping game of cat-and-mouse.
  • Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

    Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (PG, 2018)

    In Sony Pictures Animation's Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, join our favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster ... read morecruise ship so Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else's vacation at the hotel. It's smooth sailing for Drac's Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka, who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind.
  • BlacKkKlansman

    BlacKkKlansman (R, 2018)

    From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero. It's the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (John David Washingto... read moren) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime. Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream. Produced by the team behind the Academy-Award (R) winning Get Out.

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Top In Theater Reviews


  • The House with a Clock in Its Walls (PG, 2018)

    Who could have guessed that splatterhouse horror director Eli Roth (Hostel, The Green Inferno) was t... read morehe right candidate to helm a children's movie that hearkens back to the 90s era of Disney Channel? The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a whimsical and enjoyable family movie that is definitely made primarily for those under the age of twelve. It features a young boy (Owen Vaccaro) going to live with his uncle (Jack Black) who is a warlock and where the neighbor (Cate Blanchett) is a witch. He learns magic, self-confidence, and the legend of the hidden clock that may or may not trigger a doomsday. The 1950s house itself and its magical elements is practically another character in the movie and there's a cheerful sense of discovery throughout, with a dog-like armchair, a topiary griffin, and a stained glass window that keeps changing. The school scenes could have been trimmed entirely, especially when you consider our main kid had enough motivation to try and bring his departed mom back to life. He didn't need to impress a bully at school because he wanted a friend. Black (Jumanji 2) is charming as ever and a natural with children. The visuals are colorful and fun. The signature weird and icky details Roth adds made me smile, like pumpkins that vomit pumpkin guts as a weapon. Kyle Maclachlin (TV's Twin Peaks) plays an evil wizard who wants to end the world after seeing the horrors of the Holocaust. That's a dark implication for a "children's movie," and I appreciate that the film allows for the existence of darkness, which also includes unvarnished appearances of the occult and a red-eyed demon. How about that? The House with a Clock in Its Walls is an entertaining fantasy adventure for families whose kids like to tip-toe into spooky material but aren't quite ready yet for the harder edged PG-13 scares.

    Nate's Grade: B
  • The Meg (PG-13, 2018)

    The film is quite fun for the better half of the duration, only the formulaic conclusion annoys the ... read moremost. The scenes out at sea are the most interesting, the ones where the crew are attempting to track the monster. The biggest letdown will be the rating, the film needed to be scary and sadly this will be a big budget fun movie, nothing more. Jon Turteltaub was the incorrect director for this film, they needed someone with vision and less corporate filmmaking, anyone could have made the movie he did. The cliché modelled plot distracts when it should be embracing the craziness of the plot. This is a big shark from the bottom of the ocean and from what I hear only models some of the elements from the novel. It was a fun film and not very scary. Will there be a sequel? I hope not, but there are worse films gaining sequels year after year. 17/08/2018.
  • The Meg (PG-13, 2018)

    - by fb733768972
    Until films like Sharknado put a new spin on shark attack movies, Jaws was the best there was and ev... read moreer will be. With the recent release of The Meg, I didn't have any hopes that it would come anywhere near the original, nor should anyone reading this, but if you're looking for a dumb movie to check out this summer, you can definitely do worse than The Meg. It's not exactly a good film by any means, but it's perfectly fine to turn your brain off every now and then in order to be excited by a film that has zero cleverness. Here's why I believe The Meg may impress you in terms of excitement, but only if you know what you're getting yourself into.

    Discovering that there is more to the ocean than just what people have seen (which is already ridiculous, to begin with), a team of divers go to the depths that nobody has in the past. Learning that there are larger-than-life creatures living down there, one of them escapes, in the form of a giant Megalodon shark. Attacking everything in its path as it tries to prey on the weak, this film becomes the dumb blockbuster you would hope it would be, but not soon enough.

    The cast is filled with talented actors/actresses, from Jason Statham to Li Bingbing, everyone delivers solid enough performances for this type of film. That being said, the unlikely pairing of young Shuya Sophia Cai and Jason Statham was easily the highlight of the movie in my eyes. Their fun chemistry throughout the course of the movie is what kept a smile on my face. The humanity is definitely present here, but you go into a movie like this to see awesome shark action, and although it's not as crazy as it could be with an R-rating, it still delivers some very cool sequences.

    Many viewers will be going to see this film in order to witness Statham going toe-to-toe with a giant shark and I can say with confidence that there are moments that will surely give you satisfaction. Sadly, the climax itself doesn't feel long enough in comparison with the very drawn-out build-up to that point. On top of the slow build-up, the characterization of everyone is very one-note and quite frankly, forgettable.

    From Rain Wilson to Cliff Curtis, even though they deliver solid performances, the characters throughout this film are incredibly predictable. The people you don't think will make it, don't, and vice versa. There isn't a single moment of real tension, because you can see everything coming from a mile away. The visual effects make up for the dumb characters and ridiculous premise, but it really isn't enough to warrant a recommendation in the end.

    The Meg is held up on a pedestal by the numerous talents throughout the cast and the action itself is awesome when it does come into the forefront, but it was too little, too late, at least for me. If you want to check out a fun action flick with Jason Statham fighting a shark, then I would absolutely recommend it for that, but if you're looking for another film as great as the original Jaws, I would look elsewhere. I would be lying if I said I didn't have a bit of fun watching this movie, but as a whole, it really does feel like a lazy attempt to sell a giant shark film to an audience. As a film this movie is terrible, but due to the fact that it knows exactly what it's trying to be, it's watchable. That's not really a recommendation, but if that sounds like something up your alley, I'd say give it a shot.
  • The Meg (PG-13, 2018)

    Ever since Steven Spielberg's Jaws cemented the concept of a Hollywood blockbuster, sharks have been... read more synonymous with the summer movie season. Just last year a small-scale indie thriller, 47 Meters Down, was a breakout hit with a planned sequel on the way (they ignored my obviously brilliant suggestion of naming it 48 Meters Down, thus proving each additional entry would move the depths a measurable increment of peril). People love them some killer shark movies and the bigger the better. Well it doesn't get much bigger than The Meg, a movie with a monstrous prehistoric Megalodon shark approaching 75 feet long (that's one half of 47 Meters Down, if you think about it). The Meg has enough awareness, payoffs, and fun to stay afloat and be a better B-movie.

    Deep under the Mariana Trench, a team of deep-sea scientists has discovered a new habitat previously cut off by man. From here emerges the Megalodon, a ferocious predator that has no earthly competition. The team seeks out the help of Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), a one-man rescue squad who had a run-in with The Meg in his tragic past. The science team must rescue its trapped members, track and evaluate the shark, and prevent the ancient beast from feasting on the locals in the South China Sea.

    This is a big stupid shark movie about a big stupid shark, and The Meg provides enough fun to at least warrant one trip out into the water. It's a monster movie that follows a well-worn formula of discovery, containment, escalation, and then all-out large-scale disaster. I appreciated that the succession of events followed enough of a logistical cause/effect relationship that allows the audience to better suspend disbelief and stay within the movie's agreeable wavelength of campy thrills. This is the kind of movie that introduces a family of whales only to mercilessly kill them off screen as passing shark food. It's the kind of movie that knows we want to watch Statham punch sharks in the face. There's genuinely more shark action than I was expecting and the action sequences have been given consideration to maximize their popcorn thrills. I am used to recent shark movies that hinge on the threat of the shark as an aquatic Boogeyman, on the peripheral and always threatening to return. With The Meg, once the shark is loose it's a constant presence and persistent problem. There is one moment where our hero has to shoot a tracking device into its dorsal fin. He has to get close while also not disturbing the water and calling attention to himself. It's a well-engineered and developed suspense sequence that takes advantage of the fun possibilities at play. There are more moments like this that exemplify a degree of thinking and development than sloppy, slapdash CGI mayhem.

    This is a major co-production with China and it's easy to tell. It's a $130 million Hollywood hybrid with an inclusive cast, global danger, and the havoc wrought on the human population this time are Chinese beach dwellers running in panic. The co-lead is Chinese star Bingbing Li (Transformers: Age of Extinction) who is set up by literally every character to be the romantic interest to the dashing Statham. Even the man's ex-wife is on the same mission, trying to hook these two up. Statham banging this single mom is the key to bridging these two market forces together, apparently.

    Speaking of the man in question, Statham (The Fate and the Furious) is dependable and irony-proof no matter the absurd film scenario. He provides the audience a reliable anchor amidst the genre silliness, plus gratuitous shirtless beefcake shots. He can say the most ridiculous lines of dialogue with a straight face and make you believe it. He's also great with children. Some of his best moments are his interactions with little Meiying (Shuya Sophia Cai), the young daughter of Li's character. Statham is so charming and natural around children, and he's able to coax instant chemistry with a child actor. Why hasn't somebody given Statham a Rock-_b_style family vehicle where he acts alongside a precocious group of kids? What if he's an over-the-hill action star helping a group of kids make their own amateur movie? What if he's an ex-special forces agent-turned-birthday party magician trying to fish out a hidden target? What if he's a retired movie star trying to coach a pair of kids how to get their parents back together? I never knew I wanted this.

    There's enough of a knowing awareness that let me know the filmmakers understood the goofy kind of movie they were making. It's not exactly turning to the camera and winking but it feels like it's nodding at you, asking you to play along. This is exemplified in Rainn Wilson's (TV's The Office) character Morris, the outspoken billionaire who founded the whole science station. He's general comic relief in a movie about a giant shark because The Meg doesn't treat the shark as comic. After discovering the creature, the science team is ready to take things slowly and cautiously, and Morris flatly screams that we have no time for slow here. When Jonas jumps into the water to take on the shark, it's Morris exclaiming how awesome it is. The best example is when one of the lead scientists takes a moment to bemoan the overreach of science in a "what have we done?" speech, and Morris just throws up his hands and walks away grumbling, disinterested in listening to any self-serious yammering. Morris kept amusing me because we were repeatedly alike in our commentary and requests for this film experience.

    Even with scaled-down expectations, The Meg is still a monster movie that probably needed to be campier or more frightening to be a better movie (I gave the same diagnosis to Krampus). It's a fun film that understands what a genre audience wants, though it could have pushed further and found ways to subvert those expectations or given us more mayhem. This isn't a tiresome so-bad-it's-good-but-it's-still-bad genre wankfest like the tacky Sharknado movies. It's also not the delightful, campy, gory B-movie that is Deep Blue Sea. It's a monster movie that has a sense of amusement and doesn't waste time pretending to be too serious even when the professorial characters are given to lament. It achieves a middle zone that satisfies enough of your cravings but not fully hitting them.

    Not quite as enjoyably dumb as the earlier Rampage, The Meg is still a relatively silly, splashy monster movie with solid thrills, action development, and a good sense of what its core audience demands and how to go about fulfilling that promise. Statham and company plow ahead through the genre shenanigans and make it out the other end bloody yet unscathed. My biggest criticism is that I wanted more; more camp, more carnage, more knowing nods, the kind I got in abundance in last year's gloriously entertaining Kong: Skull Island. It gave me enough of a tantalizing preview of the better movie it could have become. Still, The Meg is a slice of summer escapism that gave me enough thrills, laughs, and satisfaction to leave me wanting more but mostly content with what I ultimately got.

    Nate's Grade: B-
  • The Predator (R, 2018)

    It's been 31 years since the first Predator strutted its camouflaged self onto the big screen and be... read moredeviled Arnold Schwarzenegger and company. Since then the dreadlock-sporting intergalactic sportsman has become a familiar vaginal face to movie audiences around the world. One of those company deaths in the original movie was none other than Shane Black, years before the writer/director became a bankable Hollywood commodity. Black is going back home to revive the dormant franchise with The Predator, a big-budget sequel/reboot that aims for the stars and falls far, far too short.

    An alien spaceship belonging to a rogue Predator crashes on Earth, scattering important debris. Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is a black ops sniper and the only surviving member of his team who happened to be on site when the ship crashed. The government says he's crazy and transfers him onto a bus filled with other mentally disturbed military vets who call themselves "the Loonies" (Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera). A tough-talking government agent, Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), seeks out a biological specialist, Dr. Brackett (Olivia Munn), to examine their interstellar prize. At the secret lab, the Predator breaks free, Dr. Brackett chases after the specimen, and she teams up with the "Loonies" to track down the alien. After his initial Predator encounter, Quinn mailed the alien helmet and other evidence to his son, Rory McKenna (Jacob Tremblay), a young boy with autism who cracks the alien code and becomes the target of a Predator, a Super Predator, and the government.

    The Predator is a supremely messy movie, often feeling like two separate screenplays inelegantly stitched together, one a big bloody action thriller, the other a winky Shane Black vehicle with a cavalier, macabre sense of humor. It doesn't quite work because the movie can't fully settle on a tone, or a direction, and thus it keeps providing glimpses of the many versions of the kind of movie it could have been instead. I'll openly admit to being a Shane Black fan when he embraces his sly instincts, command of genre, and ribald wit (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a modern comic masterpiece; The Nice Guys is... pretty good), so the Black touches were my favorite part especially because they stood out the most. I enjoyed the characters entering into scene-breaking asides, like Dr. Brackett questioning why the alien would be named a "predator" given its behavior is more akin to a hunter or a fisherman, and Traeger shrugging, "Yeah, well, we took a vote and 'predator' was cooler. Right guys?" Or when a character is being held at tranquilizer gunpoint and mocks the danger, only to be tranqued point blank in the eye, killing him. Or a bully suddenly getting drilled by the defense mechanisms of the Predator helmet and murdered. It's these moments that kept me most entertained, demonstrating Black's unique voice that can take genre filmmaking within a studio sphere and turn it on its head with a devilish grin. If The Predator had been more a Shane Black vehicle than a Shane Black studio reboot, then perhaps the final product would have risen above the mediocrity that sinks it.

    Much of that mediocrity comes from the middling plotting, mostly after the first act. For a solid half hour, I think Black has something promising, having set up the various characters and gotten them to intersect and go on the run together as a merry band of outlaws and amateur alien hunters. Once the "Loonies" break free with Dr. Brackett is where the movie loses its sense of direction. The plot just stumbles from one set piece to another, rarely with good reason. One minute they're running away from a Predator creature and the next they run into an apparently unlocked high school building rather than flee in cars and RVs. Most of the plot movement follows little Rory, first reaching him before the bad men do, then rescuing him from Predator dogs, and Predator, and then he's kidnapped by the bad guys, then he's hunted by the Super Predator and I'm tired. This kid is a spectrum-walking, spectrum-talking plot device (more on that below). It feels decidedly odd to have a super sniper paired with a renegade group of mentally disturbed and dangerous military castoffs and instead of them primarily hunting and killing a space alien they are rescuing a little boy with special needs. It would be like having a Tarantino rouges gallery teaming up to teach a child how to read. It feels like a misapplication of the character dynamics onscreen, which again gets to my central criticism of the final film feeling too much like separate movies in conflict. The studio elements (supportive yet feisty ex-wife, autistic savant, Predator dogs) feel too obvious.

    The action is serviceable with a few dandy practical gore effects. There's a nasty, visceral quality of the action that proudly wears its R-rating as a badge of honor, as a PG-13 Predator movie would be a disservice to the universe's most fearsome hunter (the first Alien vs. Predator was PG-13; I suppose acid and florescent blood are less traumatic to be seen gushing from hacked limbs?). The action gets a lot more boring once the Super Predator is introduced, an eleven-foot all-CGI monstrosity that needed a bit more work. Beforehand the Predator is a combination of makeup and practical effects, allowing longer interaction with its environment. I enjoyed the Predator breaking out of the lab. I did not enjoy the team taking on the Super Predator at night in the middle of the woods because it decided to go... sporting. Seriously, the second-to-last action set piece has the flimsiest formation. Rather than accomplish its mission, the Super Predator invites all the humans to one more game, though the alien acknowledges that "McKenna" is their only true champion. It devolves to jump scares in the spooky woods, but hey, at least characters can start being eliminated (some of them so abruptly that it's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it exit). There are touches throughout the action that keep things lively before ultimately succumbing yet again to the freefall of the project's creative dissonance.

    The actors are enjoyable but I felt bad they weren't given more. Holbrook (Logan) is consistently upstaged by his eccentric band of compatriots, but only Jane, Key, and Rhodes get any personality. The other guys are just kind of there. I don't think I laughed once at Key's (Netflix's Friends from College) many, many wisecracks. The Tourette's syndrome tic given to Jane (TV's The Expanse) is rarely funny, and yet Black goes back to it again and again (the adolescent kid behind me in my theater thought every profanity was the funniest thing ever committed to film). The actors glide by on Black's signature macho, cocksure _b_style, clinging to every new quip like a lifeline. Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse) has a few fun, feisty moments but is still basically featured as The Girl. Tremblay (Wonder) is making me rethink my evaluation of him after Room. The best actor in the movie, by far, is Brown (Black Panther) who has a malevolent charm that connects most fluidly with Black's sensibilities. Even his self-satisfied laughter made me laugh.

    We need to talk about the film's views on autism (there will be some spoilers in this paragraph, so skip ahead if desired). Rory McKenna is of that kind of Hollywood Autism, the kind we see on TV (The Good Doctor) or of classic movies (Rain Man). It's the designation of autism as a gateway to super powers (never mind that having savant abilities only impacts ten percent at best). Whatever, it's an unrealistic depiction in an age of better, more nuanced depictions of mental health and disabilities. Where The Predator gets crazy is when Dr. Brackett offers this nugget: "You know many people think autism is just the next step in human evolution." No. Nobody thinks this. As someone who has worked extensively with children with autism, this is not a thing. I'm not saying by any rationale that those with autism are lesser by any means but they're no more the next stage in human evolution than any other condition. Ask a person with autism if they feel like the next stage in human evolution, like an X-Men mutant. What makes matters worse is that Black confirms this strange notion when the Super Predator, surprise surprise, was most impressed with Rory McKenna and not his big bad dad. The Super Predator plans to take the kid back to, presumably, harvest his autism DNA so the future predators will... know how to fly their spaceships that they already know how to fly? I don't know.

    The Predator is part sequel, part reboot, part Shane Black genre riff, part muscular R-rated action movie, part chase movie, and part Hollywood mishmash. Apparently the film underwent extensive reshoots as well, retooling the entire third act, which seems obvious in hindsight and only magnifies the disconnect between the central story elements. Shane Black's signature elements are but glimmers of what could have been. It needed to be more of a genre send-up of 80s-action farce, or a more straight-up action movie, or something where the plot generally made sense and had characters we liked. Was Shane Black playing a joke on the studio? The Predator will probably be most known for editing out a real-life sexual predator, or from its dreadlocked alien dog being domesticated after getting shot in the head, or its depiction of autism, or anything that isn't really the entertainment level of a mediocre rehash. Check out Predators instead.

    Nate's Grade: C
  • Crazy Rich Asians (PG-13, 2018)

    Somewhere, Anna May Wong is crying tears of joy.

    What a charming romantic comedy this is,... read more and how fantastic is it that it also has a nearly all-Asian cast, breaking the molds these actors are usually poured into.

    I loved the strong female characters, starting with lead, Constance Wu, who turns in a great performance. She shows real range in several scenes, including those with her mother and her boyfriend's mother. What an empowering character as well - smart, kind, honest, and graceful. Michelle Yeoh is also very strong, and with depth in her character - not simply a tiger mom; she is cool and calculating, but we see her caring moments, her conflict, and the way she was treated by her own mother. Apparently she pushed for these extra dimensions to her role, and the film is better for it. Her lines challenging Wu's character ("You will never be enough") are delivered like icepicks.

    Lisa Lu is also excellent as the grandmother, and this is a nuanced character as well, starting off so sweet and seeming to make a connection with Wu, but gradually unfolding to something else, the depths of which were a little surprising. It was so nice to see this 91 year old actress. Gemma Chan is brilliant when she tells off her philandering husband, and makes it clear their marital problems aren't due to their differing backgrounds, but his weakness. Tan Kheng Hua as Wu's mother is in a quieter role, but shows a strength and dignity, and when she reveals her backstory, it's powerful.

    The men are a little overshadowed but not outdone, especially Henry Golding, who is suave, forthright, and endearing. And hooray that Asian masculinity is acknowledged. The scene he has with Wu in the morning, where she studies him shirtless and says 'hubba hubba' prior to him jumping on her is nice. The scene on the plane, where he tries to talk to Wu from the other aisle, while trying to get through people fumbling with the overboard bins, is rom-com gold.

    In comedic roles, Awkwafina and Nico Santos are funny, and light up the screen in every scene they're in. My favorite was the one where they comment on clothes that Wu is trying on. ("I'm not sure if it's working or if she looks like a clown's tampon." "On a heavy day" ... among several others). I could have lived without all of the antics of the 'crazy' characters - Jimmy O. Yang (who you may recognize from 'Silicon Valley'), Ronny Chieng (The Daily Show), and Ken Jeong (The Hangover(s)) - but it was nice to see them, and they provide a few comic moments as well.

    The 'rich' aspect also initially put me off, as there is a great deal of opulence and extravagance, but I came to terms with it. Firstly, it is central to the story, with the woman from a more humble background involved with the scion of a wealthy family. It also shows an aspect of life so counter to the stereotypical, humble roles Asians have often been confined to. Lastly, all of the wealth is juxtaposed with Constance Wu's character, and her mother's. Though 'Americanized' and on the surface seeming to pursue her own passion as an individual, in the end, we see that Wu embodies kindness and self-sacrifice far more than this family living in luxury, who are in some cases overly concerned with their image, and in others, boorish in their wild partying and materialism.

    Director Jon M. Chu gives us a lot of razzle dazzle in what he puts up on the screen, but my goodness that wedding scene is truly memorable. It's enchanting, ethereal, beautiful, and so sweet, accompanied by a cover of 'Can't Help Falling in Love' by Kina Grannis. The entire soundtrack is a joy for that matter, with a mix of Chinese and American songs, covers, and musical tones. There are some who are dismayed because the film doesn't give us enough 'real Asian' culture, and instead is 'too Hollywood'. It's obviously not a documentary or an attempt to cover all aspects of a very diverse culture or a place like Singapore, but I think it should be appreciated for what it is. There are elements of Asian culture in everything from little details in the sets, to symbolism in the Mah Jong game, to the gap that sometimes exists between Chinese and Chinese-Americans. I also loved the celebration of the food, and the warmth of that scene early on in the Singapore food stalls.

    At the end of the day, it's a romantic-comedy, which along with comedies often face an uphill task in winning over critics, weary of the formulas often employed (and yes, they're used here too). It's also got an Asian cast, which because of the novelty, puts it under a microscope. Personally, I liked the sweetness of the story, and despite the genre and materialistic overtone of the context, found it had depth. I also liked that it was a step forward, and hope it's followed by more steps forward.
  • Crazy Rich Asians (PG-13, 2018)

    Crazy Rich Asians is a frothy mix of familiar 90s romantic comedy cliches and tropes but now with an... read more all-Asian cast and Asian culture given a dignified spotlight. Thanks to the strides in representation, it makes the familiar feel fresh again. This is a very Pretty Woman princess fantasy story of an ordinary woman, Rachel Chu (the great Constance Wu) falling in love with a rich man who then whisks her away to his rich family home out of country and introduces her to the world of the cloistered elites, ex-girlfriends, and hangers-on and their disapproval. Much of the conflict hinges on her feeling accepted by her man's scowling, scary mother played by the formidable Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The two-hour running time mostly consists of a lot of blandly nice people. I think enough of these supporting characters could have been consolidated or eliminated to give more space to characters that matter. The film reminded me, in some regards, of the 50 Shades series where we jump from scene to scene to celebrate the extravagance of an elite life_b_style of luxury. It's intended to alienate Rachel and contrast with her humble, hard-working, honest sensibilities, but after two or three of these, I don't think it's quite having that effect. Wu (TV's Fresh Off the Boat) is a charming, loveable lead, and the film has fun, colorful characters played by Awkwafina (Ocean's 8) and Ken Jeong (The Hangover trilogy), who amazingly doesn't overstay his welcome. The production design and costumes are sensational and might even get some Oscar attention. Crazy Rich Asians is a fairly formulaic but pleasant enough movie, and the fact that an all-Asian cast rom-com is slotted as a summer movie is a positive sign. The end results are a fizzy fantasy repackaged but still entertaining and without a sense of pandering.

    Nate's Grade: B-
  • The Predator (R, 2018)

    - by fb733768972
    The Predator franchise isn't something that's remembered fondly by filmgoers, but rather the origina... read morel on its own. For that reason alone, I didn't have many expectations when going into this latest installment, other than the fact that Shane Black wrote and directed it. He has been a favourite filmmaker of mine for quite some time. He has always been known for adding a friendship storyline to his films, so I was curious to see what he would do with an ensemble. While I can't quite say I had a blast with this movie, it's a fine addition to the franchise and fans of Shane Black's _b_style will probably get a kick out of multiple moments. Personally, this movie didn't really work for me when looking at it as a Predator film, but it was an average outing for Shane Black as a whole.

    After Quinn (Boyd Holbrook) goes toe to toe with a creature, he is able to escape with elements of this "newly discovered" race. Being discovered by a little boy in Rory (Jacob Tremblay), he accidentally calls their race to Earth. From there, as you would expect, chaos ensues and death definitely occurs. In terms of the action involving the Predator, I never found that anything new was brought to the table. Sure, there are a few very clever moments in which blood is utilized, but the Predator itself was as generic as ever. That being said, there are a few aspects of the movie that worked against that notion.

    Never in my life would I think I'd look at a franchise that's known for testosterone-fueled men and say that the best part of a sequel is a little kid. Jacob Tremblay has always proven himself to be a fantastic young actor, and not only does he give his all here, but he, along with Boyd Holbrook, are the true standouts in terms of characterization and performances in general. If you find yourself cringing at times, just know that a great scene with Rory or Quinn is on the horizon. Sadly, aside from Olivia Munn, this cast isn't given enough to do here. There are quite a few times where it felt as though they were present for the sole purpose of providing comedic relief, which leads me to my biggest complaint about this movie as a whole.

    The Predator is a hilarious movie. Yes, I found myself laughing pretty hard on multiple occasions, but that was the film's largest downside in retrospect. The Predator franchise has been known for the cheesy action and light-hearted dialogue, but this movie was a straight up comedy at times, while the action seemed like it was trying to come off as genuine and trying to provide the audience with stakes. This contrast didn't quite work for me and I found myself scratching my head on multiple occasions. The action was fun and the comedy was great in certain moments, but those two specific elements felt like they belonged in a different film.

    In the end, Shane Black has directed a fun blockbuster, if it wasn't called The Predator. If this movie had swapped out the Predators and replaced them with a different alien race, I think people would've been able to look at this film like a solid alien action/comedy from Shane Black's creative mind. Instead, this movie is a showcase of his talents, while being a very muddled and lukewarm addition to this franchise. As I mentioned, there wasn't anything new brought to the table here for this universe. From the score to the overall execution of the action, everything felt very familiar. I had fun watching this movie for what it was, but the meshing of the aforementioned elements just didn't quite work for me. I left this film disappointed, but still having had a decent experience.
  • The Nun (R, 2018)

    It's amazing to me that The Conjuring series has become a literal billion-dollar franchise and in on... read morely four cost-effective movies. Rare is the film franchise that births spin-offs so readily, but The Conjuring has already introduced two Annabelle movies, one Nun film, and an upcoming Crooked Man feature. It's almost as if any supernatural creature given a minor spotlight in the James Wan-produced series is destined for greater things. It's like the Conjuring universe is a pipeline to stardom for America's next big malevolent demon. I'm thinking the Conjuring 3 could spend 30 seconds on some tall tale about a haunted plunger and it would be spun off into its own franchise within a year, tops. The Nun is the fifth film in the series, the second spin-off film, and probably the movie with the least amount of narrative substance given its starting material. It's a mixture of old horror staples and exorcism mumbo-jumbo, and it's also not half bad.

    In 1950s Romania, a small abbey is being haunted by an evil presence that had been confined behind a door that ominously warned, "God ends here." A nun has committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. Father Burke (Demian Bichir) is called by the Vatican to investigate the strange happenings. He teams up with a local nun-in-training, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), and a traveling merchant Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) who first discovered the dead nun's body. The sisters inside the abbey are behaving oddly and it's not long before our characters realize they're trapped in the abbey with something wicked looking for a human host to escape.

    There's not really much to the plot of The Nun so the emphasis comes in the realm of atmosphere, unsettling visuals, and unnerving set pieces. The investigative process with our priest and nun-in-training doesn't amount to many revelations, and the information won't be new for the audience considering this specific demon Valak has been seen in two other Conjuring-related movies now (maybe three?). It becomes a haunted house thriller and, like the earlier and much ballyhooed Hereditary, a movie of moments. So your mileage will vary depending upon how affected you are by the atmospherics and imagery. With The Nun, I felt like the visuals were built upon more rigorous Catholic religious iconography and a foundation of decades of accumulated exorcism film imagery. Plus the very design of the titular nun is just super unsettling by itself, let alone placed in a spooky setting with spooky lighting. Director Corin Hardy (The Hallow) finds visually pleasing and distressing imagery that he emphasizes for better effect, like a team of faceless nuns standing in formation, or a tormented boy with a snake that slithers out of his screaming mouth. It's not subtle in the slightest but credit for not relying upon an inordinate number of jump scares for its chief spooks. In the realm of schlocky horror, The Nun is actually a little restrained when it isn't being ridiculous, but it's the kind of ridiculous that makes you laugh and anticipate the next scene rather than check your watch. Again, your mileage will vary, but I enjoyed the theatrics and imagery more than the overrated Hereditary.

    This brings me to the biggest head-scratcher in the movie that would have seemed designed to ensure audience investment. I had no idea Taissa Farmiga (TV's American Horror Story) was going to be in this movie let alone the co-lead of the movie. As soon as I saw her face I leaned forward, newly intrigued. My working assumption was that the younger Farmiga was going to be the prequel version of the character played by her older sister, Vera Farmiga (yes, they're sisters and not mother/daughter). Suddenly this made her character that much more interesting and created a direct connection from the events of the nuns to the larger Conjuring universe, providing a back-story for the Warrens to lean upon. It also allowed me to transfer my feelings for the character onto Taissa Farmiga, making me care far more about her well-being as she creeped around dimly lit corners than if she had been any other woman in a habit in a bad place. The fact that The Nun had so effectively hidden Taissa Farmiga's presence from the marketing made it feel like an intentional surprise, something to let the audience know the filmmakers weren't skating by. It raised my opinion of the movie and my enjoyment from scene-to-scene.

    And then I found out Taissa Farmiga's Sister Irene is a separate character from Lorraine Warren. Huh? Of all the young actresses in the world to select, choosing the literal younger sister of Vera Farmiga, who looks strikingly similar, feels far too intentional to be coincidental. Why isn't she just the younger version of Lorraine Warren, setting her up for a life of hunting the supernatural after this formative experience? She's even presented as a nun in training and not a full-fledged bride of Christ. Even the decades in age difference would add up. It's not like you're playing that close to the facts of the case when it concerns the Warrens who, by modern accounts, are considered frauds by many. Come on, James Wan. Come on Conjuring universe. What are you doing here? The solution was right within reach and you deliberately ignored it.

    The Nun is a moderately entertaining movie subsisting on strong production design, exorcism iconography, and solid performances from capable actors. It's not really more than the sum of its parts but, for me, there were enough effectively creepy moments and punchy images that won me over by the end of its 96 minutes. If you're a fan of the Conjuring series, or particularly demonic possession/exorcism movies, then you'll likely find enough entertainment to be had, even if the filmmakers absurdly decide not to have Taissa Farmiga play the younger version of an already established central character. Was this a late-in-the-game rewrite to absolve her of her connection to Vera Farmiga? I'm happy for anyone connected to the production to contact me and clear this up (after my surprising conversation with a key creative on Sherlock Gnomes, I'll just start openly asking for clarifying correspondence from Hollywood filmmakers now). The Nun in essence does just enough to be silly or scary when needed and possibly worth a watch for horror fans. Now about that haunted toilet plunger. I may have a pitch ready if you're open to it, James Wan. After all, what's scarier than a broken toilet?

    Nate's Grade: C+
  • Crazy Rich Asians (PG-13, 2018)

    The visuals are stunning while the conspicuous consumption is numbing. Good cast and an entertaining... read more plot line. Could have done without the gay character being a stereotype. Singapore looks amazing. Bone up on the strategies of mahjong to understand the showdown between mom and fiance. In this day and age can someone dating for a year not know the person whom they are seeing...google him! (8-25-18)