Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
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
Midsommar (2019) Dan Lybarger Aster paces Midsommar languidly, but he doesn't waste the film's long running time. EDIT
Posted Jul 5, 2019
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Dan Lybarger Curiously, the movie is at its most enjoyable when it forgets that it's about a superhero. EDIT
Posted Jul 5, 2019
Toy Story 4 (2019) Piers Marchant It might not reach the heights of earlier installments, with little of the madcap inspiration that propelled the earlier films, but it still manages to arrive at a satisfying enough endpoint. EDIT
Posted Jul 5, 2019
87/100 Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Piers Marchant The ever-smiling Annabelle might seem demur, but that little hostess can throw a hell of a party when she sets her mind to it. EDIT
Posted Jun 28, 2019
82/100 Yesterday (2019) Dan Lybarger [Richard] Curtis never resolves how Jack deals with calling the Beatles' songs his own, and the film drags as Yesterday struggles to make Jack's guilt more entertaining. Thankfully, Patel can sing the Beatles' songs with conviction. EDIT
Posted Jun 28, 2019
81/100 Shaft (2019) Dan Lybarger [Tim] Story clearly isn't aiming for posterity with this one, but simply telling a dirty joke successfully seems like a lost art. EDIT
Posted Jun 14, 2019
77/100 The Dead Don't Die (2019) Piers Marchant [Jim] Jarmusch's proclivities have always leaned toward such lightly affecting material which has also endeared him to his faction of fans. For everyone else, though, it doesn't leave much to look at. EDIT
Posted Jun 14, 2019
78/100 Men in Black: International (2019) Dan Lybarger [Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth] read off each other like books in Thor: Ragnarok, but Matt Holloway and Art Macum's script concentrates more on recycling effects from the first movie instead of finding ways to maximize the duo's formidable chemistry. EDIT
Posted Jun 14, 2019
88/100 Double Lives (2018) Philip Martin Sparkly and sad, Non-Fiction is a witty movie about the existential crisis facing readers and writers with some casual French adultery mixed in. EDIT
Posted Jun 7, 2019
78/100 The Tomorrow Man (2019) Karen Martin No doubt this effort is well intended, but the details are too distracting to hold it together. EDIT
Posted Jun 7, 2019
77/100 The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) Dan Lybarger It's like watching a cat tear into a rolling ball of yarn but not nearly as entertaining. EDIT
Posted Jun 7, 2019
75/100 Dark Phoenix (2019) Piers Marchant One thing this story should never have been is perfunctory, but here, with [Simon] Kinberg's second miserable attempt, that's exactly what he's accomplished. EDIT
Posted Jun 7, 2019
76/100 Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Piers Marchant Moving at constant breakneck speed, [Michael] Dougherty's film lacks even basic lucidity or continuity. EDIT
Posted May 31, 2019
78/100 Ma (2019) Piers Marchant Apart from a truly absurd script, director Tate Taylor's film performs ungainly political gyrations -- asking us to root against a survivor of sexual abuse and humiliation for trying to gain (albeit misplaced) revenge on her attacker. EDIT
Posted May 31, 2019
78/100 Aladdin (2019) Dan Lybarger Because the new film's magic carpet is following in the flight plan of its animated ancestor, it can't reach new heights on its own. EDIT
Posted May 24, 2019
90/100 Booksmart (2019) Piers Marchant [Olivia Wilde] creates a fricative bond between the two young women that feels genuine -- they are each other's biggest and most supportive fans. EDIT
Posted May 24, 2019
76/100 A Dog's Journey (2019) Dan Lybarger A Dog's Journey takes a little time to explore ways that dogs can help people in ways we are only now beginning to understand. Learning how they can literally sniff out tumors is frankly more interesting than a plot recycled from a soap opera. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2019
72/100 The Sun Is Also a Star (2019) Dan Lybarger It's almost as if Russo-Young and editor Joe Landauer sat in the cutting room with a stopwatch making sure each smooch or long walk lasted long enough to ensure a 100-minute running time. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2019
82/100 Red Joan (2018) Philip Martin Unfortunately there's nothing about Red Joan that feels believable, other than [Judi] Dench's rather complicated portrayal of a woman who might only be discovering her own motives. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2019
88/100 John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum (2019) Piers Marchant At its best, the [John] Wick films offer a visual, violent fantasia, with the indefatigable Wick dispatching hitman after hitman in often comically creative ways. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2019
74/100 Tolkien (2019) Dan Lybarger The production is handsome, and the cast seem committed, but their characters don't change enough to make the story move. EDIT
Posted May 10, 2019
90/100 Amazing Grace (2018) Philip Martin What the film provides is proof of how thrilling she was in the moment, and her gobsmacking effect on the witnesses who, time and time again, the camera catches in unabashed awe. She's shockingly good. EDIT
Posted May 10, 2019
87/100 Hail Satan? (2019) Philip Martin You don't have to embrace the Satanic Temple to understand that it ought to have a place at the American table and that it serves as a corrective to certain tribalistic assumptions. Its members have a role to play as devil's advocates. EDIT
Posted May 10, 2019