• Death on the Nile

    Death on the Nile

    ★★

    We've spent the last three nights watching "Death on the Nile" -- the 1978 extravaganza, the 2004 Suchet Poirot, and this, the newest edition.

    My family rarely agrees on much, cinematically. We don't agree on which of the three is best. But we all agreed that this one was the worst.

    To be fair, there are a number of interesting ideas here, but they are drowned in the movie creators' love of their vision, brandishing a creative ego bigger than…

  • Death on the Nile

    Death on the Nile

    ★★★★½

    The Suchet rendition of this Christie tale adheres much more closely to the book, with Poirot both puzzling out the mystery and knocking down the numerous red herrings and distractions from the central murder. It adheres to the story more faithfully than the 1978 Hollywood production, suffering only from a 90+ minute run time, which rushes some of the characterization and subplots. I like it better than the Ustinov rendiction (just as I like Suchet's portrayal of the principal better), but I can also understand it feeling a bit too complex and compressed for the time slot allowed.

  • Death on the Nile

    Death on the Nile

    ★★★½

    The cast-of-Oscar-winners follow up to the similar effort with "Murder on the Orient Express," only with Peter Ustinov taking up the role of Poirot in a bit-too-robust fashion. Beautiful production values, astonishing cast, and a ripping tale that telegraphs a bit too much in places, and smooths out details from the original story to fit a final drawing room confrontation. Still, entertaining, as much for the characters as for the plot.

  • City Beneath the Sea

    City Beneath the Sea

    ★★½

    Peak Irwin Allen TV melodrama, with a ton of recycled props (and recycled actors), and some SFX that betray the limits of the era / budget ... but it's still plenty of fun times, from the (obviously painted wood) gold bricks to the goofy underwater elements.

  • When Worlds Collide

    When Worlds Collide

    ★★★

    Such a George Pal film, from the ambitious (if too often budget-constrained) visuals, to the framing of the tale as a morality play (complete with Biblical passages and heavenly choirs). Plenty of fun, but the characters are little more than tropes (concerned astronomer! skeptical astronomer! heartless rich guy! doughty pilot! established but nowhere nearly as engaging romantic competitor!). The story (coming immediately post-WW2) has little to say than that when people band together selflessly then they can achieve great things, but selfishness can be disastrous for all.

    An SF landmark film, worth a watch, if not frequent rewatching.

  • The Andromeda Strain

    The Andromeda Strain

    ★★★½

    Neatly done adaptation of Michael Crichton's best-selling novel, well-adapted from the technogeekery of the original which plasters on so many layers of verisimilitude, it's hard to tell where the SF aspects leave off.

    In some ways, TAS is Jurassic Park, only with horrifying crystalline bacteria rather than dinosaurs. You've got human hubris trying to find new life forms, leading to terrifying death. You have a guy heading up the key government program who is convinced he has everything covered, as…

  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    ★★★★

    When I got out of this movie, I tweeted, "This is the comic-bookiest movie I have ever seen. Both in (mostly) good and bad ways." And, the next day, that's still true.

    "Doctors Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is a very (shall we say) strange movie. It is filled with arguably too many characters, but the important ones all get a fair amount of screen time and agency. It is filled with horror (none of it too horrific), and…

  • Carol for Another Christmas

    Carol for Another Christmas

    ★★★

    This Joseph L. Mankiewicz production from a Rod Serling script could very well be an extended Twilight Zone episode as, riffing off of Dickens' classic tale, we see Daniel Grudge -- a wealthy American whose loss of a son in WW2 has made him bitterly isolationist -- learn the need for involvement in and compassion for the rest of the world. From the past deaths of soldiers fought in wars when folks "stopped talking," to the horrors of post-war Hiroshima,…

  • True Lies

    True Lies

    ★★★½

    So ... yeah, this movie is terribly problematic in its take on gender and marital relations. It takes every trope about how husbands and wives and men and women interact and (sometimes literally) weaponizes them. Aspects of the movie played for humor (Harry's handling of his suspicions of Helen's infidelity; Harry's actions once he learns the truth) come off as ... well, emotionally abusive, to say the least.

    That said, as a James Cameron spy-action thriller, this movie is top-notch.…

  • Loki

    Loki

    ★★★★

    On rewatch, I enjoyed this even more than the first go-around, perhaps because I could stop oohing and aahing and pay attention to the story.

    Loki has always been one of the best villains in the MCU, precisely because he's been one of the most approachable and relatable. Cynical and sly, but also desperate for approval. Vain, but fragile. Apparently self-possessed and confident, but constantly failing through his own hubris -- and, perhaps, his own desire to fail, knowing himself…

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

    Spider-Man: No Way Home

    ★★★★

    Spider-Man: No Way Home is a complicated film, on one level. There are multiple fight sequences, but also a lot of talking sequences, some big passages of time, some thorny conundrums that get handwaved aside, and some that last until the bitter end.

    The last SM movie ended with Peter Parker being outed by Alex Jones fill-in J Jonah Jameson, both as Spider-Man and (thanks to Mysterio's shenanigans) as the murderer of Mysterio and the wreaker of havoc across London.…

  • Injustice

    Injustice

    ★★★½

    The most asked question in any super-hero forum is always -- "Would X beat Y?"

    "Injustice," with its setup for a super-hero-on-super-hero match-up certainly scratches that itch. Once it's clear that nobody is safe from the threat of death, every battle takes a new turn.

    "The Killing Joke" posited that anyone -- from Jim Gordon to the Batman himself -- was just one bad day away from descending into the depths of Joker's homicidal madness themselves. "Injustice" tests and agrees…