Anaconda (1997)

anaconda

Snake Charmer

As an avid fan of killer-animal movies, one thing I’ve learned is that they are shockingly easy to fuck up.  For every Deep Blue Sea there are a dozen Shark Nights, for every Alligator countless Primevals.  But within the pantheon of trashy creature features, my favorite has to be Anaconda.  The movie has never enjoyed the warmest of receptions – its critical response was mixed at best, and it’s often used as a bad-movie punchline – and it’s not hard to see why.  It’s unapologetically cheesy, old-fashioned, and lowbrow.  But I believe that Anaconda’s true intended audience is the die-hard fans of its genre, and for those of us in that group it’s an absolute corker. Continue reading

The Host (2006)

the host 3

Heart and Seoul

I will admit to taking some petty pleasure in being able to say that I knew about Oscar sensation Bong Joon-Ho all the way back in 2007, when I went to go see The Host at the age of 15Though not an obscure indie by any means – its budget was over ten million dollars, and it broke South Korean box office records – it received a limited release here in the states, and certainly wasn’t a household name among foreign movies of the time.  With Parasite getting unprecedented media attention, I thought I’d look back at Bong’s unconventional monster movie. Continue reading

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic world fallen kingdom

Those of you who read my Worst of 2015 know that I was no fan of Jurassic World.  Among its greatest faults was its insistence on bludgeoning its audience with slavish callbacks and references to the series’ first installment.  Jurassic World’s follow-up manages to escape the shadow of its revered progenitor, but creates new headaches in the process. Continue reading

Rampage

rampage

Video game film adaptations haven’t had the best track record.  They’ve been historically maligned by critics; some justly (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is, in fact, that bad), others unjustly (Mortal Kombat remains a 90s camp classic).  Now we have Rampage, based on the classic giant monster arcade game, being marketed as “the best-reviewed video game movie of all time.”  But despite this dubious designation, Rampage can barely be called an adaptation.  It deviates from and adds so much to its narratively sparse source material that it’s essentially its own beast.  Continue reading

A Quiet Place

A quiet place

During his heyday, Alfred Hitchcock coined the term “the ice box scene,” which refers to a movie scene whose plot issues become apparent to the audience sometime after the fact.  A Quiet Place could be described as the ice box movie – thoroughly watchable in the moment, but logically wanting when given any serious thought.  Continue reading

The Shape of Water

shape of water

It’s impossible to get mad at a Guillermo Del Toro movie.  Even his misfires, like the forgettable Crimson Peak and generic Mimic have a creative spark to them that seems increasingly rare in modern Hollywood.  He’s a man who clearly loves what he does, even managing to put his artistic stamp on prefab properties like Blade II.  But The Shape of Water is his vision through and through, for better and for worse. Continue reading