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  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World



    There have been two unfailingly consistent bright spots in the 20-plus years’ worth of animated theatrical features produced by Dreamworks Animation. The first is the 'Kung Fu Panda' series (2008-16), whose silly cartoon animals and underdog-sports-flick tropes conceal a trilogy of deliriously entertaining martial-arts films set in a richly textured mythic China. The second is the 'How to Train Your Dragon' franchise (2010-19), which, under the steady yet fanciful guidance of writer-director Dean DeBlois, has been revealed as…

  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

    1. Understanding.
    2. Mutualism.
    3. Liberation.

    Review later this week.

  • How to Train Your Dragon 2

    How to Train Your Dragon 2


    A relationship with an animal that is rooted in fear and pain is no relationship at all.

    This is essentially Dreamworks’ anti-dogfighting film.

    I adore HTTD1, but you can really see some of the seams animation-wise. Not so here. An aces bit of design and animation all the way.

  • El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

    El Bulli: Cooking in Progress


    Probably the best foodie documentary of the 21st century and practically NO ONE has seen it.

  • The Prodigy

    The Prodigy


    A glum, tedious, and predictable mashup of elements swiped from ‘The Bad Seed’, ‘The Omen’, and ‘Child’s Play’, enlivened only by the occasional freaky flourish. And then the third act takes a TURN, as they say, and GODDAMN. It doesn’t salvage or even measurably improve the film exactly, but it does make it feel less stale and less “safe”, and we can always stand to have multiplex horror that is less stale and less safe.

  • Happy Death Day 2U

    Happy Death Day 2U



    [Note: This review contains major spoilers for the 2017 film 'Happy Death Day'.]

    There’s a nagging irony pulsing at the heart of the 2017 horror-comedy sleeper hit 'Happy Death Day'. In that film, Louisiana coed Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) finds that she has been unaccountably damned to continually relive the day of her own murder – dying repeatedly at the hands of a mysterious, masked killer. Like Phil Connors in Harold Ramis’ now-beloved 1993…

  • Happy Death Day 2U

    Happy Death Day 2U

    [ 'Happy Death Day' - ( 'Scream' / 2 ) ] + [ 'Back to the Future' + 'My Science Project' + 'Weird Science' + 'Real Genius' / 4 ] + ['Rick & Morty' ^ (1/2) ] = 'Happy Death Day 2U'

    Review later this week.

  • Happy Death Day

    Happy Death Day


    Tree Gelbman will take out baby Hitler, prevent 9/11, stop Prince from ODing, and save us all.

  • High Flying Bird

    High Flying Bird


    "You see it, right?"

    One of the best screenplays Soderbergh has directed in ages -- courtesy of 'Moonlight' scribe Tarell Alvin McCraney -- and a cast that dives into the oh-so-cool rat-a-tat with gusto. Particularly Zazie Beetz, Sonja Sohn, and a never-better André Holland.

    I know nothing about sports, but I'd watch this ten times before I'd watch 'Jerry Maguire' once.

  • Goodnight Mommy

    Goodnight Mommy



    The most immediately impressive aspect of Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s chilling feature 'Goodnight Mommy' is how quickly the film conjures a buzzing atmosphere of wrongness from mundane raw materials. This is evident even before the title card appears. The film opens with a clip from the 1956 West German feature 'The Trapp Family', in which the eponymous clan sings Johannes Brahms’ lullaby “Good Evening, Good Night.” Standing alone, such wholesome treacle would be innocuous enough,…

  • The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

    The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part



    When Warner Animation Group (WAG) announced that it would (to exactly no one’s surprise) return to the glossy plastic well with a sequel to its critical and box-office hit 'The Lego Movie', it was perhaps inevitable that the result would be less appealing and invigorating than the 2014 original. After all, part of what made the first 'Lego Movie' such a delight was the left-field nature of its aesthetic and comedic success. Five years ago, the very concept…

  • How to Train Your Dragon

    How to Train Your Dragon



    [Note: This review was originally published at my personal film blog on 4/20/10. It has been slightly revised for clarity and style.]

    For over a decade now, Dreamworks Animation has been churning out 'Shreks', 'Madagascars', and various other talking animal mediocrities (anyone remember 'Shark Tale'?), jousting with Blue Sky Studios for a distant second-place slot behind American animation's reigning champion, Pixar. In 2008, Dreamworks managed its first genuinely good film, 'Kung-Fu Pand'a, a charming, marvelously…