Charles has written 19 reviews for films rated ★★½ .

  • Surf II

    Surf II

    ★★½

    As far as live-action gross-out cartoons go, this one has way more barf and forced feminization than expected.

  • Judas and the Black Messiah

    Judas and the Black Messiah

    ★★½

    Beautifully shot, but was a series of highlights instead of a coherent vision that gives us the broad strokes of Fred Hampton without ever making him a person. Kaluuya's fighting with a really rough accent throughout.

  • John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

    John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

    ★★½

    The movie’s rhythm and flow are as tired as John Wick’s character seems to be in its opening scenes. 
    Busy in the way the other two weren’t, plotty in a way that exhausted me. Worse, action beats were repeated over and over, stripping it of the weird, vicious glee of its predecessors.

  • Alpha

    Alpha

    ★★½

    Gorgeous nature photography and a story that goes exactly where you expect it to. 

    Kodi Smit-McPhee’s transformation into Lukas Haas continues unabated.

  • Aquaman

    Aquaman

    ★★½

    This movie does the most, then does 25% more. Exhausting but that almost feels like it’s the point?

    Give James Wan an aquatic horror movie.

  • Halloween

    Halloween

    ★★½

    After introducing a dialog about the impact of violence on victim and victimizer, Halloween (2018) runs out of things to say. 

    The kills are suitably 2018 brutal (one character complains that Meyers’ ‘78 rampage wasn’t all that worth getting worked up about, seemingly performing an end-run around modern viewers’ complaints). That’s pretty much all it’s got going for it, though.

  • The Haunting of Hill House

    The Haunting of Hill House

    ★★½

    Here’s the thing about a prestige drama where you’ve conditioned the audience to watch the edges of the frame for the umpteenth jump scare: they’re not paying attention to the self-absorbed and painfully white protagonists in the center of the frame. 

    Garish, loud, and overlong, it’s too treacly to be affecting drama and too busy to be effective horror.

  • The Exorcist III

    The Exorcist III

    ★★½

    What a sad, misshapen thing. The first third is this beaten-down, nihilistic serial killer thriller, the next third, lengthy expository bridging this movie and the first, and the last third studio mandated exorcism shenanigans from another movie entirely.

  • BlacKkKlansman

    BlacKkKlansman

    ★★½

    A series of confused symbols, too much sympathy for the cops, and really superficial representations of both white supremscists and the complicated folks at the center of Black revolutionary thought. 

    It’s a movie made to lend comfort to white audiences that they’re not those kinds of racists.

  • Truth or Dare

    Truth or Dare

    ★★½

    Or, Blumhouse’s It Follows: Loud Edition. 

    Shot flatly and lacking either sort of personality or specificity (ex.: multiple characters discuss another’s “medical school interview” rather than bothering to name one). 

    It’d have gotten more mileage out of focusing on horn dog Ronny and the bros from his frat.

  • The Spy Who Dumped Me

    The Spy Who Dumped Me

    ★★½

    The weight of all the very serious and visceral action undermines what should be a silly-raunchy comedy with two incredibly charismatic actresses. But it’s more often than not jarringly violent. Plus, the bland Brit love interest just hangs around, spoiling the rapport of Kunis and McKinnon.

  • Ant-Man and the Wasp

    Ant-Man and the Wasp

    ★★½

    Fun, but the comedy beats felt... off? At least Michael Peña’s still an MVP in these things.