• Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II

    Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II


    "This isn't summer camp for dinosaur freaks!" With Mechagodzilla, Rodan, and a new version of Godzilla's offspring all onscreen, this is the first Heisei era film that resembles Godzilla's 1970's run—it's essentially "Terror of Mechagodzilla" for a new generation. Director Takao Okawara ("Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon") returns from the previous installment and I'll give him this: while he may not have a knack for human drama, he sure knows his way around a miniature cityscape—meaning Okawara is most engaged during…

  • Godzilla vs. Mothra

    Godzilla vs. Mothra


    The end of the year is fast approaching, friends...meaning I've got to make some progress on the rest of Godzilla's Heisei era if I want to finish it before 2024! "Godzilla vs. Mothra: Battle for Earth" feels like the first entry in the Heisei series that's not particularly continuity-heavy, meaning you can drop into this one without having seen "Return of Godzilla" or the titles that followed and simply enjoy it as a standalone Godzilla movie featuring the fan-favorite kaiju…

  • Apocalypto



    Had not seen this since theaters and I want to call this rewatch revelatory. This feels like Terrence Malick and Michael Mann collaborating on a horror/action survival film; you feel the many influences at play here ("Last of the Mohicans," "Apocalypse Now," "First Blood," and more), and it has that post-"Lord of the Rings" sense of scale and grandeur that Hollywood isn't really able to summon anymore, but on another level "Apocalypto" is resolutely its own animal. Mel used the…

  • Taken 2

    Taken 2


    EuropaCorp trash about the Western power fantasy of being able to go into someone else's country, wave a gun in their face, and tell them to "Get lost." (Less of a fantasy these days, given the absolutely diminished state of the West). So trash, yes, but watchable trash, to the point that I can almost tip "Taken 2" a generous 3-stars, but once you stop to consider that this arrived almost ten years after "The Bourne Supremacy" and four years…

  • Taken



    Was halfway shocked to return to this one after so many years and realize, hey, there was a legit reason this was a runaway hit in theaters and launched the next 15+ years of Liam Neeson's career as a gravely-voiced, ass-kicking retiree. (Also a surprise to go back to this one and be struck by how YOUNG Neeson looks here, at least compared to recent fare like "Memory" and "Blacklight").

    It almost goes without saying that "Taken" is nothing but…

  • The Equalizer 2

    The Equalizer 2


    The first "Equalizer" is about a lonely guy who's really polite to his coworkers and spends much of his free time reading books on public transportation, so I definitely had a bit of 'Wow, This Is Literally Me' syndrome while rewatching that first installment...except, of course, I'm not a secret bad-ass with CIA training capable of killing a man with a single shot glass. (As far as you know).

    In the sequel, Denzel is now a Lyft driver, which is…

  • Oppenheimer



    Was not my intention to take almost a month to get around to seeing Christopher Nolan's latest in theaters, but it's a testament to "Oppenheimer" that I arrived to it after weeks and weeks of praise and hype...and I still found myself bowled over by the movie. The one thing that I wasn't prepared for, despite skimming much of the online discourse: I want to call this Nolan's first horror film. The moments that are lingering with me the most…

  • Godzilla: Final Wars

    Godzilla: Final Wars


    Is this a good Godzilla movie? No, probably not, as the Big G receives what feels like a scant twenty minutes or so of screentime. Is it a ridiculously fun action movie from the director of "Versus" and "Azumi," with peak PlayStation 2-esque aesthetics that could have only come from the early aughties? In my estimation, yes. We've got motorbike riding, martial arts-performing mutants garbed in X-Men-like uniforms; "Invasion of the Body Snatcher"-style aliens that never blink and dress straight…

  • The Equalizer

    The Equalizer


    I underrated this when I first watched it on Blu-ray back in 2015, perhaps because it wasn't the post-"Taken" actionfest I was expecting and instead offered a lengthy runtime, a very deliberate pace, and a slowburn reveal of Denzel Washington's character and his backstory. Rewatching it now, I tend to feel that "The Equalizer's" decision to take its time is closer to a virtue, in that it puts the focus front and center on Washington's stone cold performance—and means that…

  • Ballistica



    "Ballistica" is basically what happens when a bunch of people who loved "Equilibrium," watched too much of Fox's "24" and played too many Splinter Cell video games, manage to rub a few dollars together and decide to make a CIA action flick with a stuntman-turned-actor in the lead. In other words, this is supreme DTV action trash of the highest order. The film introduces the world to 'ballistica,' a variation on gun fu that suggests you can be encircled by…

  • Cross of Iron

    Cross of Iron


    There's 'ice cold' and then there's 'James Coburn dressed in a German army uniform ejecting a spent magazine from a machine gun in slow motion.' Talk about an image that screams: do not mess with this MFer. I'd long wondered what kind of tact "Cross of Iron" would take in telling a story from the POV of German soldiers in World War II, but Peckinpah keeps the focus on the Russian front (meaning we never see Americans in the line…

  • Fear Is the Key

    Fear Is the Key


    One of the most 70's movies to ever 70's. If you'll allow me to trot out a familiar saying: the less you know going into this one, the better. By that I mean, don't even bother to read the synopsis on the Criterion Channel—it gives away far too much, and part of the pleasure of "Fear is the Key" is that it turns into an entirely different movie every 15 minutes or so. You think you're watching a hopped up…