Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
85/100 Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) Dan Lybarger Much of what's fun about Kasdan's video-game-set updates to Jumanji is that he relies as much on his performers as he does on the special effects. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2019
82/100 Richard Jewell (2019) Philip Martin Richard Jewell is a wasted chance, a ham-handed and self-congratulatory bit of agitprop. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2019
90/100 The Irishman (2019) Philip Martin It's about the lies we tell ourselves, our equivocations and delusions. So maybe Frank is making all this up too... EDIT
Posted Dec 10, 2019
90/100 Marriage Story (2019) Philip Martin Every marriage is a black box with its works mysterious even to those intimately involved.... When sharp tools are employed, there will be blood. EDIT
Posted Dec 10, 2019
75/100 No Safe Spaces (2019) Philip Martin No Safe Spaces isn't designed to engender debate or honestly engage the very real problem it purports to investigate. It's self-serving and obvious. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
87/100 Honey Boy (2019) Philip Martin There are few movies that feel as honest, and as genuinely brave, as this one. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
89/100 Dark Waters (2019) Piers Marchant The film's relatively strict adherence to the facts, rather than Hollywood award-bait hokum, makes it something close to essential viewing. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
80/100 Queen & Slim (2019) Dan Lybarger [Lena] Waithe and [Melina] Matsoukas would like to "print the legend" as John Ford put it in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. In this case, the legend seems underdeveloped, and the real world reminds us this wouldn't happen off-screen. EDIT
Posted Dec 2, 2019
90/100 Knives Out (2019) Piers Marchant The film is a magician's trick so thoroughly satisfying, you have no choice but to give in to its mischievous entreaties. You won't have a better time in the cineplex this year. EDIT
Posted Dec 2, 2019
84/100 Frozen II (2019) Dan Lybarger Frozen II has several delightful moments, but it seems unlikely that it will stay put in viewers' minds quite like the first installment did. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
83/100 The Warrior Queen of Jhansi (2019) Philip Martin Unfortunately, the film works far better as an educational tool than as entertainment, with production values far below the norm for the sort of Hollywood action movie this film aspires to be. EDIT
Posted Nov 15, 2019
80/100 Charlie's Angels (2019) Piers Marchant Despite her best efforts, the characters barely rise above their cardboard TV roots, sending a mixed message to the young female viewers [Elizabeth] Banks is hoping to inspire. EDIT
Posted Nov 15, 2019
86/100 Dolor y gloria (2019) Philip Martin It is [Pedro] Almodovar in a minor key, and it takes some getting used to. EDIT
Posted Nov 15, 2019
88/100 Ford v Ferrari (2019) Piers Marchant On the whole, it's surprisingly effective, the kind of film people who have no idea about cars, racing or the delicate mechanics of a small block V8 can still come away from having been thoroughly entertained. EDIT
Posted Nov 15, 2019
73/100 Midway (2019) Dan Lybarger While the actors earnestly try to look horrified or determined by the potential doom coming their way, the Nintendo Wii-level images ruin the illusion. EDIT
Posted Nov 8, 2019
81/100 Last Christmas (2019) Dan Lybarger Perhaps if [Emma] Thompson, [Paul] Feig and company had given Last Christmas more of a winter chill or biting wit, it might have had a more welcome place under the Christmas tree. EDIT
Posted Nov 8, 2019
88/100 Jojo Rabbit (2019) Piers Marchant The New Zealand director somehow, inexplicably, keeps hitting the right notes to make his peculiar composition work EDIT
Posted Nov 8, 2019
85/100 Doctor Sleep (2019) Piers Marchant [Steven King] might not ever appreciate that his personal redemption story was turned into something so deeply pitiless and provocative, but as this new film inadvertently further proves, there's only one masterpiece here, and it certainly isn't his. EDIT
Posted Nov 8, 2019
88/100 Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) Piers Marchant In short, we have the makings for a genuinely entertaining action flick, that seems to know its place in the pantheon, breaking just enough new ground to stay fresh, but still largely in keeping with the best the series has offered before. EDIT
Posted Nov 1, 2019
86/100 Motherless Brooklyn (2019) Dan Lybarger For a movie about a seemingly dry topic like urban development, it's a fascinating look at how the social sausage of government is made. EDIT
Posted Nov 1, 2019
80/100 Harriet (2019) Dan Lybarger Despite being anchored by a terrific performance from Cynthia Erivo, Harriet lacks the focus and the narrative drive to do her story justice. EDIT
Posted Nov 1, 2019
89/100 The Lighthouse (2019) Piers Marchant It doesn't have the succinct terrors of his first film but it offers much of the same kind of unsettling tropes, set against an even more pitiless locale. EDIT
Posted Nov 1, 2019
80/100 The Current War (2017) Dan Lybarger As it stands, The Current War ably captures how a 19th-century dispute led to how we use electricity today. The story of the people who made that possible has yet to be told properly onscreen. EDIT
Posted Oct 25, 2019
73/100 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) Dan Lybarger There's nothing magical about substandard writing. EDIT
Posted Oct 18, 2019
77/100 Gemini Man (2019) Piers Marchant As a Hollywood analogy, Ang Lee's film would seem to have some interesting juice with which to work, but the script largely ignores its own metaphoric possibility, in search of more foolish thrills. EDIT
Posted Oct 11, 2019
82/100 Judy (2019) Dan Lybarger Renée Zellweger has Judy Garland down; effortlessly imitating the Wizard of Oz star's delivery and mannerisms. But had the film consisted simply of Zellweger bellowing show tunes, it might have been more substantial. EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
83/100 Joker (2019) Piers Marchant There's... a strong sense that Phillips is brandishing this bleakness as a kind of affect, like the rich kid who wears his brand new black leather jacket to a punk show but only after intentionally scuffing it against the grill of his Bentley first. EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
87/100 Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019) Philip Martin [Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice] does take us on a rich, nostalgic journey that will be received as a bittersweet valentine by old fans and might introduce newbies to a remarkable artist who refused to stay in her lane. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
86/100 Abominable (2019) Dan Lybarger If [Jill] Culton's plotline is routine, her handling is sincere and occasionally charming. The protagonists are consistently endearing, and Culton does create some delightful eye candy built around Chinese landmarks. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
70/100 Running With the Devil (2019) Dan Lybarger Despite featuring gunplay, nudity, illicit drugs and a setting that crosses two continents, Running With the Devil feels more like a leisurely, chemically enhanced stroll. EDIT
Posted Sep 20, 2019
86/100 Official Secrets (2019) Philip Martin It should be said that all the actors do well here. And the screenplay is responsible and economical in boiling down the complex issues the movie tackles. It's a fair, understated film about things we ought to care about. EDIT
Posted Sep 20, 2019
87/100 Ad Astra (2019) Dan Lybarger If the emotions or ideas in Ad Astra aren't comfortable, they are thankfully not dull. [James] Gray creates a consistent sense of danger and makes the tormented Roy just sympathetic enough to get an audience worked up about his fate. EDIT
Posted Sep 20, 2019
79/80 Downton Abbey (2019) Piers Marchant [Downton Abbey] feels like a singular, lengthy TV episode, only one that must present its myriad plot complications and enact their solutions in one contained vessel. EDIT
Posted Sep 20, 2019
85/100 Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) Philip Martin It's pretty much what you might expect it to be based on the poster and trailer, a mildly edgy vehicle that positions [Jillian] Bell as an unconventional, sometimes unlikable but generally accessible vessel for the audience's empathy. EDIT
Posted Sep 13, 2019
88/100 David Crosby: Remember My Name (2019) Philip Martin What David Crosby: Remember My Name feels like is an elegy. Crosby understands the end is near and that he is bound to leave behind unrepaired relationships and financial messiness. He's trying to fix it, but there's just not enough time. EDIT
Posted Sep 13, 2019
83/100 After the Wedding (2019) Philip Martin Basically it's a soap opera performed by over-qualified actors. If you have a weakness for gasp-inducing melodrama, you'll like it. Otherwise you might appreciate the work of the performers. EDIT
Posted Sep 6, 2019
82/100 Ready or Not (2019) Dan Lybarger [Samara] Weaving projects just enough steely resolve to make viewers believe she could survive an armed standoff with no weapons of her own. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2019
87/100 The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) Philip Martin Corniness aside, The Peanut Butter Falcon is good-looking with a solid ensemble cast and a legitimately inspiring message. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2019
88/100 The Nightingale (2018) Philip Martin While on one level I think it's clearly a first-rate work of art, it's the very definition of a hard watch. It demands your attention even as it repels you; watching it feels like trying to push the like poles of magnets together. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2019
86/100 Good Boys (2019) Dan Lybarger Credit The Office writing alumni Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky with pulling off an astonishing balancing act. Without careful calibration, Good Boys would be more stomach-churning than amusing. EDIT
Posted Aug 16, 2019
88/100 Blinded by the Light (2019) Piers Marchant Fortunately, Blinded by the Light has the talented and extremely charismatic [Viveik] Kalra to carry it through. Because of his geniality, we want the best possible outcome for him, even as the film bends over backward to give it to him by the end. EDIT
Posted Aug 16, 2019
88/100 Maiden (2018) Philip Martin Maiden transcends the rousing underdog sports story genre and offers an intriguing look at a stubbornly persistent sporting culture; one characterized by mindsets as outdated as its technology. EDIT
Posted Aug 9, 2019
72/100 The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019) Dan Lybarger In more subtle hands, the story could have been a winner. EDIT
Posted Aug 9, 2019
87/100 The Farewell (2019) Philip Martin With a sparkling ensemble cast, The Farewell explores questions of individual identity and cultural divides and arrives at the conclusion that we mightn't be so different after all. EDIT
Posted Aug 9, 2019
86/100 Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) Dan Lybarger Thankfully, I can report that the new live-action, big-screen adaptation of the long-running animated series, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, is unexpectedly delightful. EDIT
Posted Aug 9, 2019
90/100 Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (2019) Piers Marchant [Quentin Tarantino] captures so much of that place and era, set very precisely in a seven-month window of 1969, it hearkens back with a nostalgia that feels absolutely earned. EDIT
Posted Jul 26, 2019
85/100 Wild Rose (2018) Dan Lybarger Like a good country or blues song, Wild Rose sounds familiar and heartfelt. EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
80/100 The Art of Self-Defense (2019) Piers Marchant One potential downside to making a comedy this low-wattage is its stated banality. You might think you've created something underplayed and quirky, but it can just as easily settle into forgettable. EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
90/100 Stuber (2019) Piers Marchant Beyond [Joe] Talbot's studied filmmaking, the real revelation here is [Jimmie] Fails, playing, essentially himself, always more difficult than it sounds. EDIT
Posted Jul 12, 2019
Judd Apatow: The Return (2017) Karen Martin Apatow's confident, yet self-deprecating delivery of relatable tales focusing on fatherhood, social media, and growing older make for a comfortable get-together that feels like catching up with a long-lost friend who's skilled at amusing those around him. EDIT
Posted Jul 8, 2019