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Director: Travis Knight Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. Running Time: 114 minutes


For over a decade, the Michael Bay-inflicted Transformers movies have been a force for evil in the film world, a miserable exercise in corporate-asset churnery, a film series propelled by millions of dollars but decimal points of inspiration, a world-view that seemingly looked up to the US military and down on absolutely everyone else. First Shia Labeouf, and later Mark Wahlburg, the eejit ids of everything these films stand for (which is to say, nothing), ran and yelled and gawped through a swampy succession of increasingly convoluted and visually overwhelming CGI, and most any of the many watched it got nothing from it at all except for their hearts to be hardened, left for hours to stew in their own cynicism when faced with stupidity and sneers writ large in IMAX 3D; lazy mean-spiritedness blown up to overwhelming size. Merely not being that makes Bumblebee more than a breath of fresh air. It’s more a vital grasp of any air, wonderful oxygen gulped into screaming, scratched lungs that have been poisoned something noxious. On its own merits though, Bumblebee with its spirit, its optimism, and its creative enthusiasm, storms far, far ahead of everything else in the series so far, less a spin-off than a strike-out, a knock-out blow to its inferior predecessors, floating and stinging like, well you know.

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Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber Running Time: 117 minutes


The suggestion that we have hit a saturation point with superhero movies has become an increasingly pointless gesture in film criticism. One might as well say that Hollywood has hit a saturation point with making money, and the idea has always carried a degree of ignorance, or arrogance; a dismissive view of a form of storytelling whose domination of the comic book medium is closer to reaching a century than a saturation. The people are here for superhero movies, and the future for the genre isn’t to die out but to make sure they speak to all the people; growing and changing and embracing the vast potential of the medium to show superheroes, their powers and their capacity for good in exciting new ways. Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse does all this and more, with a confidence, enthusiasm and joy, all of which put it firmly in the conversation for best superhero movie of the year.

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