A cute male-group-dynamic movie, effortlessly watchable. To fully deliver on its premise of a literal “who’s the best man among us” contest, though, it needed to have higher stakes.
The third installment in the loose Cloverfield franchise does everything wrong: where the first two movies were genre-defying bottle stories with interesting characters battling mysterious circumstances, this is a garden variety sci-fi flick where the cast have little to do except repeat the same heavy-handed, over-explaining expositions to each other. It adds insult to injury that the franchise has now been cursed with an eye-rolling magical back story that can be used to justify anything and everything. What can you say about a movie set in the future, on a space station, with an existential premise, where the plot hinges on the presence of a HANDGUN.
It's as good an action/sci-fi movie as has ever been made, and on top of it, it's a subversive, complex, yet highly entertaining examination of the cost of social order. It has held up beautifully over the past 15 years, and in retrospect, it's one of the best movies of the 1990s.
It's perfectly fine for a movie to have an elusive core, to not be about anything in particular. But when that is the case, it should at least populate the screen with enough varied ideas to invite engagement. The Master is a claustrophobic, one-track tale(?) and so the overwhelming emotions it invokes are befuddlement and, often, boredom.
The titular Master is very mildly based on Scientology's L. Ron Hubbard, and references that spell this out do the movie no favors,…