the rise of skywalker review

There was so much promise in the new Star Wars trilogy. A young, fresh, likable cast of characters was brought in to interact with classic characters. The legacy lived on. The excitement was palpable, and even when missteps were made, there was a real sense that we were experiencing blockbuster filmmaking at its finest. And that makes Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker all the more heartbreaking. What started so promisingly with The Force Awakens and reached exciting heights with The Last Jedi ends in almost unthinkable disappointment. What should have been the big, triumphant conclusion to the Skywalker Saga has instead ended with plenty of sound and fury signifying nothing.

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The Expanse Season 4 Spoiler Review

The Expanse fans weren’t the only people who rejoiced when Amazon saved the much-loved series from SYFY’s cancellation; the cast and crew, who have a strong bond with their fans, were ecstatic as well, and eager to take the show to new places. “It’s exciting for us as actors and also for fans to get a new version of their favorite show,” Dominique Tipper, who plays Naomi Nagata on the series, told /Film. “Obviously it still has all the things you know and love, and the characters you know and love. But there is a widening of perspective.”

Tipper’s description is an apt one—The Expanse is thriving in its new home. Not only has Amazon Prime Video given the show significant promotion in the lead-up to the drop of Season 4 on December 12th (a day earlier than advertised, no less), but also in terms of the quality of the actual show. If you haven’t watched the new season yet, check out /Film’s non-spoiler review from a couple weeks ago, which explores why this season is just as good as the ones before it, if not better. 

If you watched all ten episodes, however, read on for a spoiler-full take on some of the major occurrences of the fourth season. This is your final warning: spoilers abound below, so read on at your own risk.

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bombshell review

Megyn Kelly was a minor Fox anchor before she shot to nationwide fame with the polarizing declaration that Jesus Christ was a white man. It wasn’t the most auspicious way to achieve national celebrity, but Kelly would soon take advantage of it by positioning herself as the conservative feminist opponent to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Despite being an avowed non-feminist, Megyn Kelly more often than not was positioned as some kind of conservative feminist figure — whether it was against Trump during the 2016 elections, or whether it was when Fox News was upended by the sexual assault allegations against its CEO, Roger Ailes. And Megyn Kelly finds herself positioned as a sort of feminist hero once again, this time by the fictionalization of the Fox News controversy, Bombshell.

Directed by Jay Roach (Trumbo), Bombshell seeks to tell the story of the Fox news controversy surrounding Roger Ailes, who resigned from his position as Fox News CEO in 2016 following a slew of sexual harassment lawsuits filed against him by several Fox News female anchors, from the perspective of the women. It’s a sticky subject considering the reputation Fox News has gained as a conservative propaganda machine that aims to stir up resentment against minorities and progressive issues. But on the other hand, it seems like a timely and powerful subject to tackle during the height of the #MeToo movement. In Roach’s hands, it ends up being about neither.

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The 2017 film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ended quite definitively for a brand extension. A quartet of teenage heroes, having survived the experience of being sucked into the video-game version of the mysterious and malevolent Jumanji, take a bowling ball to the 90s-era game cartridge in the hopes of ensuring that it never bothers them again. But Welcome to the Jungle was an unexpected smash hit two holiday seasons ago, grossing nearly a billion dollars worldwide. So of course Sony has brought the world of Jumanji back for a follow-up film, Jumanji: The Next Level. Yet what felt surprisingly charming two years ago now feels a good deal more desperate.

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Knives and Skin Review

If you filtered a classic character-driven film like The Last Picture Show through a giallo color palette and infused it with impending dread of a horror flick, you’d get something that looked a lot like Jennifer Reeder’s Knives and Skin. The writer-director begins her film with a missing girl, the inciting incident for any number of genres, and lets it spiral away outwards organically. It’s a thriller, a bit of noir, a lot of coming-of-age tale, always small-town domestic drama. To Reeder’s immense credit, her film glides forward with an aura of mystery but never feels like genre mix-and-match.

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Little Joe Review

Maybe it’s the success of TV’s Black Mirror, maybe it’s just the general state of the world, but it feels a bit like we need our high-concept science fiction delivered to us in purely dystopian form. Technological advances are inherently suspicious, the conventional wisdom seems to suggest. Our humanity alone might not be enough to save us. It’s oddly comforting, strange as it sounds, to come across a film like Jessica Hausner’s Little Joe, which takes the form of an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style horror film but dares to suggest that perhaps the things we fear aren’t quite as ominous as they appear.

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The Walt Disney Company sure does love dogs. Some of its flagship animation studio’s most popular films are all about dogs, from Lady and the Tramp to 101 Dalmatians. And last month, when Disney+ went live, it did so with a live-action remake of the former title. (There’s a Cruella De Vil-focused live-action remake arriving soon in theaters.) Later this month, Disney+ will premiere a new reality show called Pick of the Litter, all about real-life doggos. Disney! They love dogs. Not that you need further proof, but you can also consider this month’s Disney+ Original film, Togo, a perfectly decent if unremarkable real-life drama all about man and his best friend. 

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The Aeronauts Review

The Aeronauts is designed to dazzle, both visually and in terms of its time-hopping storytelling structure, yet its impact is as wispy as the air that its hot-air balloons soar through. In what feels like the umpteenth true-story drama of the 2019 awards season, The Aeronauts is a moderately handsome production without actually being dramatically involving. As often as the film takes to the air, its earthbound scenes are dry and dull, giving off the vague whiff of dramatic leftovers.

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Richard Jewell Review

A long time has passed since Clint Eastwood directed a movie that wasn’t ostensibly about the quiet, undersung heroes of the American fabric. It’s been nearly a decade since he directed a film that wasn’t, in some way, inspired by true events. (That would be the forgettable 2010 supernatural drama Hereafter.) In the intervening years, Eastwood has directed films about war heroes, savior pilots, a trio of young men stopping a horrific attack from occurring overseas, and now another story of a common hero beleaguered by bureaucracy. Richard Jewell focuses on a man whose heroism was quickly flipped into villainy by a scornful government and media, yet it’s only the characters on the sideline who are of any dramatic interest.

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Nightcrawlers Review

This review contains minor spoilers for the documentary Nightcrawlers.

Making a documentary about addiction or mental illness without being exploitative of the subject can be a tall order. By and large, Stephen McCoy’s Nightcrawlers manages to pull it off. While that may be because McCoy quickly becomes the subject of his own documentary, it’s worth at least acknowledging the care that he shows to the strangers he films. 

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