Cool New York City detective John Shaft is back again in, you guessed it, Shaft, with a modern update that goes completely sideways in all the wrong ways. This Shaft is a bad mother all right, and it'd be better if he just shut his mouth.
I mean, whatever with the “X-Men” movies. It’s hard to even rent an opinion on the discrete strengths and weaknesses of a franchise that has devolved to the point of Dark Phoenix, a lavishly brutal chore nearly as violent as the Wolverine movie “Logan,” and a movie featuring more death by impalement and whirling metal than all the “Saw” movies put together.
Known for her lovable roles in "The Help" and "Hidden Figures," Spencer goes dark and sadistic with an enthusiastic glee, her signature smile (and those bangs!), and she creates one of the most memorable horror villains in recent history. She makes "Ma" worth it.
The script’s quippy streak could’ve used better jokes. But this is one franchise that doesn’t feel fished out or exhausted or exhausting.The monsters, Toho studio classics redesigned but faithfully so, are pretty swell and monumentally destructive.
As stand-alones, some of these work better than others. Director Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” came off as a real movie unto itself, as did Kenneth Branagh’s sincere, well-acted “Cinderella” (I was in the minority on that one). Aladdin, though, feels pointless. It’s cinematic karaoke. It’s an ice show without the ice.
The whole schtick of these movies is the treat-motivated, not-quite-getting-it doggie voice-over, performed by Josh Gad, and it lightens the film. But going dark and emotional makes the film work better than the prior two.
In The Sun is Also a Star, Russo-Young swirls together sun-dappled selfies, luscious skin, urban grittiness and hip-hop beats, the aesthetics perfectly matched to emotion. She creates a heady, knee-buckling mood that nearly conceals the weaknesses in story and performances.
Too often Tolkien lumbers up to its big moments, such as the preposterous climax involving the title character scrambling around the western front, calling out his schoolmate’s name. Fact or fiction isn’t the issue. Either way it plays like hokum.
While the world and the characters of "Detective Pikachu" are incredibly fun, the story within that world suffers. Most of the exposition is provided in flashback-style holographic recreations, and the action sequences are so inane, chaotic and incomprehensible that you may find your mind wandering to grocery lists rather than the film's stakes.