Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
A decade's worth of superhero movies goes out with a big, stupid grin on its face.
One would hope that a film franchise with as much money poured into it as the DC Cinematic Universe would rage, rage against the dying of the light. Yet here we are, limping towards the end of a slate of superhero flicks marred by terrible reviews (Shazam! 2), controversy (The Flash), or sheer too-little-too-late-ness (Blue Beetle). As the superhero genre continues to flag in a year of duds, DC's set for a reinvention, a clean slate courtesy of former Marvel it-boy James Gunn and co-head Peter Safran. Before they can wipe the board and start all over with the label's slate of classic capes, though, there's a few rounds left in the last guy's chamber to fire off. That's what Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom feels like, easily the least objectionable of the DC films to come out in 2023. Problem is, that's not saying much.
A sequel to Aquaman should have been a slam dunk: Director James Wan's 2018 take on the King of Atlantis was a welcome breath of neon-soaked pop art in a franchise studded with Snyderesque dourness, leaning into the innate silliness of an underwater take on Flash Gordon. Jason Momoa is as effortless a casting as you could imagine for DC's hardest-to-pin-down superhero, brimming with giddy frat-boy energy. At its best moments, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom leans into its star's goofiness and even lets it infect some of the rest of the cast. But there's no escaping the feeling of weariness, both for a cast and crew who are just repeating the novel beats of the first and an audience that's just plain starved for something new. Continue Reading →
Let's face it: At this point, you're either in for the overamped, Saturday-morning-cartoon lunacy of a Fast and Furious movie or you're not. Building from its humble roots as a 2001 street-racing Point Break riff to the gargantuan action tentpole it's after a whopping ten movies (eleven if you count Hobbs & Shaw), the series has built quite the convoluted lore over the decades. There are dead characters who come back to life (Sung Kang's Han), living characters who can never come back because their actors are no longer with us (see: Paul Walker's Brian), sworn enemies who join the familiar just one film later. It's dudebro soap opera, fueled by nitrous oxide and every weird, bonkers thing the filmmakers can think to do with a car. Continue Reading →
Little Nemo is a property rife for play. The dream world of Slumberland is vast, its rules deliberately obtuse — it’s a wonderland full of slippery dream logic where its only limit is a child’s imagination. That Netflix’s spin on the 100-year-old tale should feel so dull and bloated is only the beginning of its problems. Continue Reading →
When I first heard the announcement of a new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s magnum opus Dune, I think I might have groaned and said, “God, not again.” Even with the cult followings that Lynch’s now-disowned 1984 version and SyFy’s plodding 2000 miniseries have amassed, there has yet to be a version that had the kind of mass appeal that gets butts in seats. Continue Reading →
Director Brian Andrew Mendoza and Jason Momoa go back way before their newest collaboration, the Netflix feature Sweet Girl. Not only did Mendoza serve as the cinematographer for Momoa’s 2018 action vehicle Braven, but Mendoza has also produced several other Momoa projects and even made a small appearance in the actor’s 2011 Conan the Barbarian movie! Unfortunately, their rich history together doesn't inspire a greater level of depth (or basic entertainment value) in the latest entry in the Netflix DTV action world, Sweet Girl. Continue Reading →
Zack Snyder's Justice League
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a good movie. Its cast brings the famous DC superhero team to life through performances that range from reliably solid to very strong. Its action is clear, creative, and in a few places downright stupendous. Its thematic work is interesting, both on its own and in the greater context of its long and winding road to existence. There are multiple moments that qualify as full-on fantastic filmmaking, sequences that successfully connect western superheroes to the larger-than-life feeling of mystical Arthurian lore. To put it simply, I like it. I like it a bunch. Continue Reading →