Reviews

Finding Dory REVIEW

Finding Dory (2016)

Hank the octopus is a particular standout. Hank’s squash-and-stretch movements push computer animation to yet another high-water mark, and his mad skills are highly entertaining — so entertaining, in fact, that I kind of wish the movie had been about him.

The Conjuring 2 REVIEW

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Wan goes bigger and splashier here than in the first Conjuring. Metaphorically splashier, I mean; it’s not very bloody, but it’s bloody scary, thanks to Wan’s skills and some shrewd choices by Chad and Carey Hayes, the screenwriting brothers (both Christians) who wrote both films.

Last Days in the Desert REVIEW

Last Days in the Desert (2016)

García takes his time in the early scenes, allowing us to ease into the rhythms of this eremitic phase in its protagonist’s life. A spiritual journey can’t be rushed; the mind and body must submit to long hardship for the spirit to attain its goal.

Captain America: Civil War REVIEW

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Civil War also demonstrates that the right way to do a “versus” movie pitting heroes against one another is by building relationships — and tensions — over time, then allowing characters to fall out over meaningful practical and personal issues.

The Jungle Book REVIEW

The Jungle Book (2016)

Like Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella last year, The Jungle Book offers a lavish new reimagining of a beloved story, blending elements from the original literary source material with the classic animated Disney version.

Bicycle Thieves (The Bicycle Thief) REVIEW

Bicycle Thieves (The Bicycle Thief) (1948)

Relate the plot of Bicycle Thieves in a few sentences, and a person who had never seen the film might be forever haunted by it.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice REVIEW

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman is even more charged with theological language and iconography than Avengers: Age of Ultron. Even the Good Friday opening may not be an accident.

Brooklyn REVIEW

Brooklyn (2015)

Brooklyn is what seems like an increasingly rare gift: a film about the drama and discovery of an ordinary human life: about love and loss, sorrow and self-discovery, in a story that for once is not overshadowed by some deep injustice or extraordinary human conflict.

The Young Messiah REVIEW

The Young Messiah (2016)

The Young Messiah is an impressive achievement of Christian imagination, a work that does one of the noblest things a Bible movie, or any literary adaptation, can do: It brings persuasive emotional and psychological depth to characters and situations that were either hidden or else so familiar we may have trouble seeing them at all.

Risen REVIEW

Risen (2016)

Risen might be the only Jesus film in which we first encounter Jesus on the cross, already dead or nearly so.

No Greater Love REVIEW

No Greater Love (2009)

Filmmaker Michael Whyte actually lived across the square from the monastery for years without realizing it was still occupied. One day he heard the monastery bell calling the sisters to prayer.

Stations of the Cross REVIEW

Stations of the Cross (2014)

Stations of the Cross is among the most insightful and devastating cross-examinations of religious fundamentalism that I have ever seen, certainly in a Catholic context. The film is not an attack on faith or religion, but an examination of how faith goes wrong.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens REVIEW

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

I smiled and laughed through much of the film. Why don’t I love it more? Why did The Force Awakens make almost no lasting impression on me?

Spotlight REVIEW

Spotlight (2015)

We cloak the monstrous in euphemisms. We call it “unspeakable” or “unthinkable” — designations that are accurate simply because in using them we make them so. In Catholic circles a dozen years ago, one sometimes heard about “The Crisis”; later it became “The Scandal.” We all knew what these terms referred to, but did we really know?

The Peanuts Movie REVIEW

The Peanuts Movie (2015)

The Peanuts Movie comes billed as being “From the imagination of Charles Schulz,” and, almost astonishingly, it pretty much is.

Witness REVIEW

Witness (1985)

There is not a wasted or unnecessary shot in Peter Weir’s Witness, or a superfluous line of dialogue. Like the great barn-raising scene late in the second act, the film’s construction is both efficient and unhurried, functional and beautiful.

Aladdin REVIEW

Aladdin (1992)

Disney’s Aladdin does more than give Williams an opportunity to let loose the comic giant inside him: It offers the Disney animators perhaps their greatest creative challenge, and inspiration, in over half a century.

A Nightmare on Elm Street REVIEW

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Nightmare’s surreal scares go beyond most slasher fare by evoking an irrational world in which normal rational defenses don’t apply.

Fantastic Four REVIEW

Fantastic Four (2015)

The negative buzz around the new Fantastic Four is so radioactive you could almost expect to develop superpowers just by reading about it. Ah, but that’s old-fashioned talk. In the 1960s radioactivity was mysterious and eldritch, capable of producing all manner of hulks and spider-men and what have you. In the 1950s you could even get godzillas.

Shaun the Sheep Movie REVIEW

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)

The world of Shaun the Sheep puts a smile on my face before anything even happens.