The unsolved mysteries of Us are more exciting than maddening. It’s a movie you come out of on fire with questions, a movie you find yourself attempting to explain or have explained to you by total strangers before you’ve even left the theater.
Despite the production’s team of scientist consultants, the physics in The Wandering Earth is probably a lot of hooey. But the film’s world building, which takes up much of its first third, is undeniably novel and fascinating. Rarely does a film brag such a technocratic heart.
Like last year’s "Ralph Breaks the Internet," the movie evolves into a parable about toxic masculinity and the danger of mistaking darkness for depth, but Lego Movie 2’s frequent flips to the real world subject its underlying text to a scrutiny it can’t bear, and take the fun out of reading between the lines. Lord and Miller have always known what they’re doing, but here it feels like they need you to know it, too.
In its portrayal of black athletes and their families navigating a system that both depends on them and abases them, High Flying Bird is a low-key act of subversion that just happens also to be a sleek, entertaining drama.
Neither movie is perfect, and each underlines the other’s flaws, but if you’re watching one, watch Fyre, which is both less self-righteous and less inclined to punctuate its insights with Family Guy clips.
It’s also hard not to judge it against the movie it might have been. In 2000, Unbreakable felt like an anomaly, a superhero movie that steered clear of camp and dug into the genre’s bedrock. It could have been thrilling to extend that approach into 2019, where superheroes storm the multiplex on a monthly basis, and there’s no longer a need to laboriously explain the culture behind them. Unfortunately, it seems that laborious explanations are the part Shyamalan likes. He’s the evil mastermind detailing his plot for world domination, knowing that the villain’s monologue is a terrible cliché but unable to resist the urge.
All Is True does not work as a film, but as a memorial to a writer whose shadow we are still working in today, and an expression of yearning to know who he really was, it has an odd vitality that cannot be completely dismissed.
Welcome to Marwen is a tragedy, not because of how Mark’s story ends, but because it’s the work of a filmmaker who’s never been more sure of his craft, and never less connected to anything resembling actual human experience. The movie’s underlying theme is that fantasy is an escape from the real world that can help people return to it, but it doesn’t seem like Zemeckis is ever coming back.
Wan not only embraces the inherent silliness of a hero whose signature power is talking to fish; he revels in it, finding the childlike awesomeness at its core. You can still see every plot beat coming from miles away, but it feels like destiny rather than repetition, the fulfillment of a promise every movie makes and few deliver on.
So how did this happen? Who is Cheney? How did he amass such power? What were his motives and goals? Any work about him—a book, film, play, or whatever—needs to deal with these questions. Vice does so shallowly and evasively.
This 21st-century installment of the Mary Poppins story depends perhaps a bit too much on our lasting goodwill for the first one. But it also provides enough pleasure on its own to leave us hoping it won’t be 54 years until that familiar prim figure makes her next appearance through an opening in the clouds.
After a solid decade of Marvel movies modeled on the same template, it’s a thrill to watch one that’s allowed to find its own rhythms, to play with form and content without contorting the plot to fit in a minor character who might become important five movies from now.