mother! early reviews

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Darren Aronofsky’s mother!)

Darren Aronofsky’s talents extend beyond his gripping filmmaking, inspiring intense debate among those who watch the finished product. His latest film, mother!, is starting to inspire the loudest debate of all: those who have seen the film (whether or not they’ve walked out before it ended) are fiercely divided among those who love it and those who helped give it a CinemaScore of F this past weekend. Technically, a lot happens in mother!, but there’s not exactly a plot or character arcs on display (neither of which, of course, are necessary). The film does bear similarities to many of Aronofsky’s previous films, from Black Swan to Noah, but it’s still very singular. What else could you call a movie where a massive group of people devour a newborn baby?

Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. To attempt to answer the question at the core of mother! — to wit, what the hell is this about? — it’s worth exploring the multiple allegories that present themselves throughout.

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Stephen King's It Reviews

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Andy Muschietti’s It.)

How do you make a good Stephen King adaptation? That’s apparently a hard question to answer, since there are far more bad King film adaptations than good. More often than not, it seems filmmakers only latch onto the Stephen King brand – they figure if they make something that attempts to be scary and slap King’s name on it, the audience will come. That’s likely true, but the audience won’t come back again.

Last weekend, Andy Muschietti’s big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It defied expectations – expectations that were already trending positively – and took in the largest opening weekend at the box office in horror movie history. This success isn’t just the result of the King name brand – if it were, we’d still be talking about the Dark Tower film adaptation instead of consigning it to the dust. The success of It is the result of supremely positive word-of-mouth. The trailers were edited well enough to drum up buzz, and then early reviews were overwhelmingly positive. The hype just kept on building.

And that’s because the movie is good. And more than that, it’s a good Stephen King adaptation.

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Defenders Group

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: the first season of Marvel’s The Defenders.)

When the entire world needs saving, the Avengers are the team you probably want on the job (if this particular world exists in the MCU, that is). But when the local neighborhood needs protection, maybe it’s time for some smaller fish to spring into action. Enter The Defenders, the latest Marvel show to drop onto Netflix for fans to binge over a weekend and then swiftly forget about.

There was a time when a series like The Defenders would feel like a major event, yet there’s a curious lack of excitement revolving around the project. Perhaps it’s become harder to be enthusiastic about an event like this when every form of superhero entertainment is treated like an event now. In other words, it’s become exhausting.

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The Dark Tower TV show

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: the big screen adaptation of Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower.)

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and The Dark Tower movie followed. Bringing Stephen King’s fantasy-epic series to the big screen has been a highly-anticipated dream for many fans of the books. Long have they desired to see the realm of Mid-World realized on the silver screen; to see the adventures of Roland Deschain brought to life. And now that that day has finally come, the results are crushingly disappointing. Because The Dark Tower is one of the most frustrating types of films: it’s neither excellent nor atrocious – it just is. A middling, often lazy film that just sort of lays there like an old, threadbare carpet.

It’s time to travel once again around the wheel and figure out just why this film is such a misfire, and how badly it forgets not only the face of its father but also the very source material that brought it into existence.

Spoilers follow, of course.

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Dunkirk Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.)

In Christopher Nolan movies, the clock is always ticking.

Time is a precious commodity, and it’s also a luxury that the characters who inhabit Nolan films do not have. With his tenth film, Dunkirk, Nolan applies his favored ticking clock narrative to its fullest, crafting arguably his best film, or at least the film that most exemplifies his considerable talents. It’s also in a way a rebuff of the criticisms that have dogged many of his films up until this point – if you thought some of Nolan’s films before Dunkirk were too exposition-heavy, here is a film with almost no exposition to speak of. If you believed his previous movies lacked emotion or feeling, witness this: a film that is relentlessly tense and harrowing, concluding with a moment of perfectly rendered emotional triumph. It seems hyperbolic to throw the “masterpiece” designation around so soon after a film is released, but if Nolan’s Dunkirk isn’t officially a masterpiece yet, time may eventually fully reward it that distinction. The clock is ticking.

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Spider-Man Homecoming Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The hype is real — Spider-Man: Homecoming is definitely the best Spider-Man movie made to date. The film, which stars Tom Holland as a fresh-faced Peter Parker, gives us our best version of the character as well as the most realistic, most diverse on-screen version of Queens in a Spider-Man film. There are a ton of positives with this film, as well as some food for thought, so without further ado, let’s get into it.

Spoilers ahead.

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The Handmaid's Tale Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: the first season of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.)

There’s no denying that The Handmaid’s Tale is powerful. Its story of a distinctly American dystopia in which women’s rights are oppressed and their bodily autonomy is stolen by a totalitarian government is gripping and timely, with more real-world implications by the minute. But it is a TV show, and “powerful” can only take a series so far.

The Hulu show inevitably had to make some deviations from the Margaret Atwood novel upon which its based, transforming The Handmaid’s Tale from a dismal cautionary tale into a more conventional, hopeful sci-fi thriller. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it presents a whole new host of problems for the show to deal with in its confirmed second season.

Spoilers ahead for the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale.

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house of cards season 5 spoiler review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: season 5 of Netflix’s flagship series House of Cards.)

Can we take a minute to bow down to Robin Wright? The Oscar-nominated actress was last seen as Antiope on the big screen annihilating a bunch of angry male villains donning a big ole smile and golden warrior gear like a badass in Wonder Woman. Though she was only in the movie (which, in case you haven’t heard, is now the biggest blockbuster from a woman director ever) for a few memorable scenes, her presence encapsulates everything that movie represents: strength, femininity, and command.

The same can be said of Wright’s performance in season 5 of House of Cards, now streaming on Netflix.

Spoilers begin right here.

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mummy

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy.)

Bad news: The Mummy has risen from the tomb, and it stinks! Universal Pictures bet big on the first film in their “Dark Universe” – a cinematic universe meant to capture the magic of the Marvel movies. The studio was hoping that the surest way to success was to take characters they already owned and fit them into an uninspired action movie formula. The results are stunningly inept. Just how did this film go so wrong? Let’s excavate this monster and get to the bottom of it all.

Spoilers ahead.

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it comes at night spoiler review

Trey Edward Shults’ It Comes At Night opens today and while it’s not the movie being sold in the trailers, it’s an exceptional piece of work. Tense and unsettling and bleaker than bleak, it’s going to rattle nerves of audiences everywhere this weekend. And everyone who sees it is probably going to have a lot to talk about.

Alex Riviello and Jacob Hall certainly did. Unable to get the film out of their minds, the two of them sat down to talk about the movie in spoiler-filled detail.

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