No Country for Old Men (2007)

Masterfully shot and acted (TLJ’s weary and witty ETB was my fav), with captivating violence and cat-and-mouse thrills, but it’s the film’s unique dramatic framing that really makes it stands out: namely, its perfect bookends (from the reluctant “OK, I’ll be part of this world” to dreams of warmth and light in “all that dark and all that cold”) and fascinating use of distance throughout (the slow pace, the open landscapes, the lack of interaction between main characters, the removed villain).

Ad Astra (2019)


Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe. (IMDb)
The at times brooding, at times exciting, but always compelling premise of space/self-exploration, combined with the appreciably contemplative pace, breathtaking atmosphere/visuals (heh), and solid central performance could’ve made this a mesmerizing experience if it wasn’t for the ultimately underwhelming and sometimes cliche voice-over ruminations, climactic encounter, and main character arc (the initially reserved and enigmatic Roy feels more like the typical generic leading man by the end).
7/10 (Good)


Batman Forever (1995)


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)


Men in Black 3 (2012)


Agent J travels in time to M.I.B.’s early days in 1969 to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history. (IMDb)
The key to this film’s success is that Brolin as a young Agent K is marvelous and has the same entertaining chemistry with Smith’s J as TLJ did. The future-past mash-up, meanwhile, adds both extra fun to the dynamic as well as hints of intriguing character work (“What happened to you man?”; see also the final reveal). Stuhlbarg’s manic Griffin and Clement’s delightfully over-the-top villain (see his hilarious interaction with his past self) are great secondary characters that fill things out.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Men in Black II (2002)


Agent J needs help so he is sent to find Agent K and restore his memory. (IMDb)
Just didn’t click this time around. The combination of Jay’s naivety and bravado in the first made for lots of laughs; here, the former is gone and a cocky vet just isn’t as funny as a brash rookie. Kay’s also gone for half the flick, so that doesn’t help. It’s not bad, per se, and there are some good moments (see the locker colony, and the cheeky reveal at the end) but annoying villains, an empty “romance” (I can’t even call it that seriously) and a lame plot linger more than anything else.
6/10 (Mediocre)


Men in Black (1997)


A police officer joins a secret organization that polices and monitors extraterrestrial interactions on Earth. (IMDb)
The sci-fi concept is uniquely nuanced (aliens aren’t all good or all bad) and well established (“Why the big secret? People are smart.” “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals”) but as a whole, smartly stays just goofy, gross fun throughout, complimented by the classic central odd-couple and comedy that goes beyond one-liners (see Jay and fellow testers trying to make themselves comfortable), though it has plenty of those too: “No, Elvis is not dead. He just went home.”
7.5/10 (Really Good)


Double Jeopardy (1999)


A woman framed for her husband’s murder suspects he is still alive; as she has already been tried for the crime, she can’t be re-prosecuted if she finds and kills him. (IMDb)
Sloppy writing makes for a few plot holes even for a casual viewer, and the titular premise comes to an awkward climax, but Judd’s refreshing action star–a doesn’t-give-a-fuck fugitive mom on a mission (“fuck your curfew!”)–is a blast to watch, whether she’s driving cars off of ferries or conning her way into expensive dinner parties. Jones’ sarcastic and persistent parole officer on her trail adds some good humour, while a noticeable stringed soundtrack helps conjure up some emotion.
7/10 (Good)

Volcano (1997)


A volcano erupts in downtown L.A., threatening to destroy the city. (IMDb)
There’s some moderately engaging disaster-action here (the volcano in the city premise is certainly unique) with decent visuals for its time, but little else: Jones, Cheadle, and Lynch are decent but most of the minor characters are poorly acted and the attempts at humour, sentimentality, character development, and related side plots are embarrassingly weak. With virtually no supporting script for its only mediocre main disaster storyline, Volcano is ultimately a very forgettable flick.
5.5/10 (Poor)