Film Review: “M3GAN” (2023)

“Well hold on, I thought we were having a conversation here.”

The Princess Bride (1987)

There are no human skeletons in M3GAN, but there are robot, Terminator-esque humanoid skeletons, which we can count. Also, it’s a fine, darkly comic rendition of Chucky mixed with AI gone horribly wrong in ways that would have been obvious to anyone but the characters in the movie, all told with the wonder of a screwed up child.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The film does surprisingly little to set up the Battle Angel Alita vs Chucky vs M3GAN crossover film that we know is coming.

Film Review: “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” (2022)

“Don’t you know that I’m dead inside?”

Brave Fencer Musashi (1998)

There are various instances skeleton imagery and one character who becomes a skeleton in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Also, it’s a kinetic quest western that recaptures some of that Shrek 2 magic in the franchise and provides yet another gorgeous showcase for DreamWorks’ new, superior, and anime-inspired 2D/3D animation style.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The connections to Shrek are more concrete than in the last one, to say the least, so perhaps Shrek 5 is looming on the horizon. Sorry, I mean 5hrek

Film Review: “Avatar: The Way of Water” (2022)

Hamlet (1599)

James Cameron pulls Moby Dick, Free Willy, and Chrono Cross philosophy into his sci-fantasy Fern Gully sandbox spectacle, descending back into the depths of the ocean where he belongs to tell an effective, safe story about family that looks fantastic.

Avatar: The Way of Water has only ONE skeleton, but it’s the best looking computer generated, high frame rate skeleton you’ll ever see.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The indelible cultural footprint left by the first Avatar is people saying the first Avatar hasn’t left any indelible cultural footprint.”

Film Review: “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (2022)

“This is your last chance to back out.”

Succession (2021)

There are no skeletons in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

A bigger, slightly broader yet still clever variation of the original, itself a variation of the Agatha Christie form, which is itself a variation of a variation on a variation, etc. etc. layers and onions. Daniel Craig is once again a fountain of put-on southern hokum.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The setting and some of the shots of it are so James Bond it just had to be on purpose. Also, Angela Lansbury (spoiler) plays Among Us. It may have been the last thing she did before passing.”

Film Review: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2023)

“Your brother is dead, but he isn’t gone.”

A considerate, political potboiler honoring the brilliant shadow that stands over it. A refreshing pivoted superhero origin story. The Furious 7 of the MCU.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The opening sequence is some of the most emotional and sneakily meta filmmaking that I’ve seen in a long while. I can’t imagine we’ll ever achieve the heights of emotion present in the first ten minutes in the MCU ever again. It is powerful, for it is born from the connections we make between fiction and reality.”

Are there skeletons? No 😦

Film Review: “Bullet Train” (2022)

“You put peace out in the world, you get peace back.”

A high-speed, creative force of anime energy with chill shades of Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. A bottle actioner of memorable characters, Chekov’s Guns and a welcome reverence for Thomas the Tank Engine.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The Lost City / Bullet Train Cinematic Universe begins here.”

Skeleton count: 0

Film Review: “Thor: Love & Thunder” (2022)

“Another classic Thor adventure! Hurrah!”

Thor: Love & Thunder is lovable and… thunderable? It rides those good time Ragnarok vibes and adds some emotional tonal shifts to tell a story about reconnection and the care we demand of and give to others. Above all else, Natalie Portman (and Jane Foster) gets the superhero story she deserves as The Mighty Thor and the villain is a sympathetic, creepifying Christian Bale. I just wanted more of him.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I liked it when the giant goats screamed.”

Skeleton count: 0 human skeletons, but one big alien skeleton that probably counts as like 7 human skeletons

Film Review: “Jurassic World: Dominion” (2022)

“Jurassic World? Not a fan…”

A Force Awakens style adventure to cap off a series rather than begin it. A blatant and unashamed appeal to our nostalgia, our thoughts and concerns made meta through Ian Malcolm’s golden voice. Dinosaurs dinosaur.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “All we needed was Dennis Nedry’s howling ghost exacting revenge on Dodgson to make this thing perfect. Was Wayne Knight busy?”

Film Review: “Top Gun Maverick” (2022)

“No wife. No kids. No one to mourn you when you burn in.”

A film about my dad made for my dad and yours. For the Robert Perilli Sr. in all of us. Tom Cruise’s recognition of the passage of time. A perfect legacyquel that retains the spirit and sexy Tony Scott style shots of people giving thumbs ups and signals while planes go whirrr of the original and adds a counterpoint to the macho, dated bravado  of the 1980s.

And planes go zoom!

My VHS cover pull-quote: “What would your call sign be? Rooster? Hangman? Maverick? Mine would be Rubberneck cause I’d always be looking around screaming ‘I don’t know how to fly a plane!’ I just want to design a neat helmet.”

Film Review: “The Northman” (2022)

“At the Gates of Hel, I will meet you.”

A traditional, brutal tale of revenge crafted with care and threaded with beautiful Eggers weirdness throughout. Alexander Skarsgard is an Adonis of an authentic Viking man-wolf who screams and howls at the audience and we love him for it.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “A worthy werewolf movie… A howling good time!”