Oh, how time flies. This is my fourth year doing these “power rankings,” so most of you know the drill. I’ve watched enough movies at this point in the year to unveil my rankings, and I’ll continue to update this list as I watch more films until the end of December.
Going into Solo: a Star Wars Story, I had my own fair share of reservations due to production shakeups and even the very idea of this movie. Maybe you’ve heard this before: “No one asked for a Han Solo movie.” “Disney is ruining Star Wars.” “Jon Negroni’s YouTube channel is a disgrace.”
All of these points are valid, but for me, Solo happens to be a genuinely satisfying summer movie, and even one worth analyzing. In the video above, I give a spoiler-free review and analysis of the movie, spending most of my time discussing my personal baggage with Han as a character in the original trilogy, plus a lot of what you can expect overall from his adventurous origin story.
I don’t have children, so I have to imagine the new film A Quiet Place is far more frightening for a parent than it could hope to be for someone like me. It’s probably more impactful, too.
In A Quiet Place, most of the world has been eradicated. A young family of survivors has to live as silently as possible to avoid the blind, super-hearing creatures who prey upon anything making a sound. Danger is everywhere. The family can’t escape these bulletproof nightmares.
So the family perseveres by creating strict, logical rules. They communicate with lights and sign language. They walk barefoot. They make soundproof trails and play board games with cloth materials. The message is quiet, but it’s clear. To parents in any context, the world is a scary place, and every family has a set of idiosyncratic methods for raising their children. In this case, it’s playing a high-stakes version of “the quiet game.”
A Wrinkle in Time probably should have been an animated movie. Disney has had a better track record with animation when it comes to fantasy if we’re being honest, and it’s a shame to see a filmmaking team produce such a visually stunning movie trapped inside a vacuous bore of a screenplay.
It’s fair to say the target audience for Red Sparrow almost solely includes the latter half of Jennifer Lawrence fans undeterred by the grotesque odd-brain of mother! But at least mother! wasn’t this boring.
Watching The Shape of Water, I expected a wholly original story based on a simple premise. A woman falls in love with a merman. Instead, Guillermo del Toro’s film has a surprisingly familiar set of themes and ideas. Its originality lies in how it blends three core messages for the viewer to internalize.
The first message: the past is the key to the future. This scaly, unpredictable creature found in the Amazon is implied to be an ancient force of nature far removed from the technological advances of 60s Baltimore. Yet every character wants to use this creature as a device for unlocking the future. A competitive future. A future of scientific discoveries. Even a future of artistic expression.
The second message: the people who will unlock the future are the silent. The unseen. The meek will indeed inherit the earth. Finally, the third message: love is the purest way to unlock the future, bringing about our greatest talents. Love is our purpose.
We’re dependent on the government. We’re dependent on the military. We’re dependent on our soldiers. So when you put your faith and trust into the very entities that hold the key to your survival, it stings all the more when you experience the ugly side of America and war. Especially if you’re a soldier.
Richard Linklater has directed some of my favorite films of all time, so I didn’t hesitate to catch a viewing of his new film Last Flag Flying. It’s a spiritual sequel to The Last Detail, in that it tells a simple road trip story about three aging Vietnam War veterans in 2003.
One of those veterans (“Doc,” played by Steve Carrell) has recently lost his son to the horrors of the Iraq War. His fellow former marines (Sal, played by Bryan Cranston and Mueller, played by Laurence Fishburne) embark on a quest to help Doc bury his son at home in New Hampshire instead of at Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C.
“I’m not going to bury a marine,” Doc says. “I’m just going to bury my son.” If that sounds unpatriotic to you, then Last Flag Flying has you on its allegorical mind.