Niels has written 8 reviews for films rated ★★½ .

  • The United States vs. Billie Holiday

    The United States vs. Billie Holiday

    ★★½

    Andra Ray is sublime as Billie Holiday; she elevates the film every time she’s on-screen. 
    Lee Daniel’s direction is too matter-of-factly, and the staging of the story too haphazard to let us connect to it.

  • Pelé: Birth of a Legend

    Pelé: Birth of a Legend

    ★★½

    Endorsed by the man himself, this 2016 documentary now featured on Netflix is a nearly 2-hour long highlights reel that tickles my football/soccer heart without ever rising to be an equally artistic feat. 
    Though it covers Pelé as the star, idol and icon that football/soccer fans remember, the film does little to expand on the man behind the myth, tiptoeing around meaty subjects as if it’s unwilling or unable to tackle them. While the sport fan in me appreciated the…

  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

    National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

    ★★½

    The follow-up to National Lampoon’s Vacation is little more than a continuation of the same characters and the same type of silly comedy that audiences had fallen for six years prior. 
    Sure, it’s still fun to watch Chevy Chase make things complicated and awkward at every turn, but none of his efforts feel as fresh, or as polished as they once did, even if they are set against the backdrop of the holiday season. 
    Aside from its terrible lack of…

  • The Dead Don't Die

    The Dead Don't Die

    ★★½

    An occasional metaphor and a rare funny exchange cannot save this tedious and largely uninspired exercise in the satirical (and political) horror genre. 
    George Romero did it best decades ago, giving audiences something to fear when the undead came out from their graves to eat the living. 
    The film’s saving grace is the cast. The straight-faced Bill Murray is, per usual, perfectly apt for satire. The equally unmoved and unimpressed Adam Driver has the best lines in the film, but…

  • The Secret Life of Pets 2

    The Secret Life of Pets 2

    ★★½

    Unfocused, unremarkable and mostly unfunny. The second installment of The Secret Life of Pets shines only when it shows these talking animals behaving like “normal” pets would. 
    Note: don’t miss the end credits and the small collection of wonderful heart-warming animal home videos.

  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters

    Godzilla: King of the Monsters

    ★★½

    So much talent goes to waste here. The latest Godzilla falls prey to godawful writing.

  • Glass

    Glass

    ★★½

    Glass is what happens to a filmmaker who continues to believe in himself despite ever diminishing returns. It’s not that Glass is M. Night Shyamalan’s worst feature (that title will forever remain with The Happening) but, for the first time, his failures have now managed to cheapen the satisfaction I once felt when watching two of his better efforts: Unbreakable and Split. 
    In Glass, Shyamalan teams up with Bruce Willis again. Having made two good films - the career-best The…

  • Under the Silver Lake

    Under the Silver Lake

    ★★½

    The film tries to get at depression over a broken heart at an oblique angle. It succeeds mostly at the end, after we’ve spent a lot of time chasing clues about a murder mystery that offers an unsatisfactory resolution. I preferred David Robert Mitchell’s previous film: It Follows.