Review: Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ is a deeply-layered, uber-ambitious genre movie

“Blink, and you might miss it” is the great, contradictory nature of horror. Spontaneity is an on-ramp to FOMO when watching a scary movie; there’s a reason the genre is so closely associated to images of multiplex audiences practically peeling back their eyelids like they themselves are the target of the flashing knife, the pouncing boogeyman, the black-magic spell being cast.

For as long as we’ve been terrified by the nightmarish images conjured up by Hollywood’s twisted minds, we’ve been equally as enamored. Our hands can be cages in which we’d gladly cut ourselves off from watching what unfolds on-screen, but – to borrow from the same metaphor – our fingers are also the bars. And some deep-rooted force is typically victorious at encouraging us to bear witness.

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Review: ‘Captain Marvel’ a nearly wholly underwhelming MCU origin story

It’s fair to say that “Captain Marvel” – the 21st entry in the franchise to rule all franchises, and in many ways its most pragmatic – is arriving at a bit of a crossroads for this ever-blossoming superhero saga 11 years after it began.

More accurately, it itself is the crossroads; another origin story for another superbeing whose name hadn’t been uttered in over 40 hours of films, and yet the story of a hero with pre-ordained expectations of the highest order, thanks to a post-credits stinger, a pager and a logo that sent the Internet into a frenzy last April.

With “Captain Marvel,” our MCU overlords ask us to forget, if for a couple hours, about half of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes being reduced to dust, and instead shift our gaze to Kree and Skrulls, a disorienting story that feels three steps ahead of the audience in the worst of ways, and Carol Danvers’s introduction as already one of the MCU’s most charismatic figures in spite of it. The miracle of overcoming one of the more ill-advised MCU narratives in recent years isn’t quite achieved, but the superhuman strength on display in the last bits of the movie by its titular hero should have Thanos sweating. Continue reading →

Review: ‘Yardie’ is an underwhelming directorial debut from Idris Elba

The director’s chair being filled with established actors is becoming an increasingly popular card for Hollywood to pull these days, albeit with wildly varied results.

Up until this point, the reception to those efforts in a way mirror the novice auteurs behind the camera; Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” – perhaps you’ve heard of it? – garnered near-universal acclaim to the tune of multiple Academy Award nominations. It’s a beloved film, much like its director-actor was before its release.

On the flip side, another actor still working under the radar despite having collaborated with the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson, Denis Villeneuve and Steve McQueen quietly directed one of the most intoxicating films of 2018. But Paul Dano’s “Wildlife” was, to a similarly strange degree as its director, seemingly never meant to break into the cultural consciousness in a meaningful way, despite the praise heaped onto it by critics.

So it will be interesting to see how Netflix’s audience responds to “Yardie,” the enticing-but-jumbled directorial debut from Idris Elba, when it’s released on the streaming service in mid-March. Though if merit has any say, it may struggle to hold the attention of movie-watchers. There’s a restlessness at the heart of the film, but in the end that attitude does little more than throw crime, familial drama, music and a sprinkling of Jamaican lore into a pot to create something of underwhelming taste.

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Review: Mads Mikkelsen tries to escape the worst of winters in ‘Arctic’

Much like the immediate outlook of its unlucky characters, the details are stark in “Arctic.”

In Joe Penna’s pulls-no-punches survivalist drama, the seemingly skyscraper-sized “SOS” carved out in deep snow; the remains of a grounded, battered plane that looks like it’s flown through hell and back; and the pop of red of a winter coat breaking a seamlessly, blindingly white winter panorama are impossible to miss—the foundation for a story of clenched-teeth resilience that doesn’t lend itself to rose-tinted inspiration so much as explore the prickly grittiness of how we respond when pushed to our absolute limits, and ultimately beyond.

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