Batman Forever (1995)

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Batman must battle former district attorney Harvey Dent, who is now Two-Face and Edward Nygma, The Riddler with help from an amorous psychologist and a young circus acrobat who becomes his sidekick, Robin. (IMDb)
The dialogue is bad, and aside from Carrey’s typically enjoyable schtick, everything about the baddies is really bad too: the two-villain dynamic is awkward AF (I read afterwards that TLJ hated Carrey on set and you can totally tell), the brain-sucking thing is dumb, and the “useless henchmen” syndrome here is the worst I’ve ever seen. Kilmer’s brooding Batman is good though and the campy action-based plot is fun enough, featuring some cool cinematography (loved those zooms and skewed shots).
6/10 (Mediocre)

 

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Batman Returns (1992)

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Batman returns to the big screen when a deformed man calling himself the Penguin wreaks havoc across Gotham with the help of a cruel businessman. (IMDb)
The recurring secret vs. public identity dynamic for all four of the main players makes for some intriguing tension and drama (see Bruce and Salina’s battles and flirts; Shreck and Oswald’s campaign). Batman’s fall from grace is another compelling, if brief, plot thread. Unfortunately there’s still lots of cheesiness here too (see the penguin suicide bombers, penguin pallbearers, penguin duck boats?). The one-liners are hit (“life’s a bitch and now so am I”) or miss (anything by gross Penguin).
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Alien vs. Predator (2004)

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During an archaeological expedition on Bouvetøya Island in Antarctica, a team of archaeologists and other scientists find themselves caught up in a battle between the two legends. Soon, the team realize that only one species can win. (IMDb)
For a mid-2000s movie based on the idea of pitting villains from two different sci-fi franchises against each other, it’s not actually that cheesy. The sets look cheap and bland and the dialogue is mostly unmemorable, but the simple main plot is quite suspenseful (humans exploring an ancient underground pyramid in Antarctica while being hunted by two different alien species) and with its refreshing woman-of-colour lead it comes to an almost inspiring team-up climax that you don’t see coming.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Triple Frontier (2019)

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Loyalties are tested when five friends and former special forces operatives reunite to take down a South American drug lord, unleashing a chain of unintended consequences. (IMDb)
The music is strong, the editing is sharp, and the cinematography is sleek (lots of gorgeous wide shots of natural scenery). Isaac stands out among a solid cast and the plot is consistently engaging in its twisty mix of heist thrills and survival adventure. It’s the drama that doesn’t quite hit home: the characters are inconsistent, the moments of tension aren’t followed up on, and the thematic reflections on the morality of violence are uncomfortably weak (and ultimately undermined in the end).
7/10 (Good)

 

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

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A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles. (IMDb)
Keep it about Rick’s friendship with Cliff and him battling insecurity while trying to recharge his career and this would’ve been great; the leading men are excellent and the movie set scenes are engaging. Unfortunately this compelling arc is smothered by endless drawn-out scenes that do nothing but unload historical references (the pointless narration near the end is painful) and show off impressive production design. And so even the wild climax felt empty because nothing built up to it.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Logan Lucky (2017)

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Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. (IMDb)
Strangely slow-paced for a heist flick, and maybe a little meandering, but as it sinks in you realize that’s part of its unique, down-to-earth charm. The pace provides time to invest in the cast of quirky, blue-collar characters (steady Clyde and hard-luck, hard-working Jimmy have a great dynamic) and the heist is still lots of fun (the jail stand-off was a highlight). It may not have the flash and pop of a Rihanna hit, but it’s got the staying power and folksy warmth of a John Denver classic.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Ghost World (2001)

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With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man’s newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives. (IMDb)
The plot is loose and meandering but it’s no matter as the performances are strong (Buscemi as sad sack Seymour really shines), the indie quirkiness on point (see convenience store guy, art teacher), and the thematic threads thoroughly thought-provoking, as nostalgia, niche-dom, and the search for identity do battle with the uncertain future, capitalist suburbia, and loneliness in the post-high school void (“Just think, we’ll never see Dennis again… It’s actually totally depressing”).
8/10 (Great)