We review films. You see films. You need to know where to see those films. You may want to know what we thought of those films. Here’s where you can read what we thought of the film you’re about the see. Click on the film links to read THE FULL BYT REVIEWS.
Aquaman shows that someone at DC finally learned the most important lesson of superhero films: no one wants to spend over two hours in a theater with a bunch of characters they wouldn’t go to get beers with. -Trisha Brown
Queen’s bestselling album is Greatest Hits. Their second bestselling album, Greatest Hits II. Bohemian Rhapsody, fittingly, is a film made for the greatest hits, a checklist of Wikipedia moments and musical biopic cliches that the film doesn’t seem to realize are cliches. Playing the fabricated EMI executive Ray Foster, Mike Myers states, “Let’s stick with formulas. Formulas work.” Despite the way that Queen clashes with Foster and his way of doing things, Bohemian Rhapsody falls right into the biopic as countless other have before. -Ross Bonaime
The bar is incredibly low, but Bumblebee is without a doubt the best Transformers film so far. But what’s truly impressive and shocking is that Bumblebee is actually an enjoyable, cohesive story with solid action, great jokes, and genuine emotional moments. -Ross Bonaime
Every few years or so a humanist film about neglected street kids in poverty-stricken parts of the world makes an appearance around Oscar season, fully equipped to pluck at your heart strings and have you nervously shuffle in your seat, as you consider your astronomical privilege. Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and Garth Davis’s Lion (both coincidentally starring Dev Patel as the ripe version of said child) come to mind, though neither will fully prepare you for the seemingly apocalyptic devastation that Lebanese director, Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum, brings to the table. Let me tell you, the Patel double feature is practically feel-good next to the punishing reality exposed in Capernaum’s brutal tale of neglect and abuse set in the refugee crisis hotbed of the Beirut slums. -Beatrice Loayza
Nearly five years ago, in these very pixels, I had this to say about Paweł Pawlikowski’s film Ida:
If I am hesitant to say Ida is a great movie, still interpret that as praise – greatness is hard to come by, and more often than not identifiable only after time has eroded the more plentiful but less durable artifacts of culture that clog our vision.
Ida went on to win America’s Most Patronizing Film Award, and now I’m here reviewing Pawlikowski’s follow-up, Cold War, which has already collected the best award a movie can win, and I’m overwhelmingly tempted to say about this film exactly what I said about Ida. -Max Bentovim
With Creed II, Stallone undoes the goodwill that Coogler brought to this new take on the franchise by once again making himself the center of the story, and losing the series’ exciting sense of personality. -Ross Bonaime
Destroyer is the most joyless film I’ve seen in a long time. That’s not a bad thing – the misery in Destroyer drives the present and is the lens through which we view the past, making it nearly as much of a central character as Nicole Kidman’s haunted cop. -Trisha Brown
You may recall the killer in the Saw films wanted his victims to develop a newfound appreciation of life. Through elaborate mazes and puzzles, all of which involved torture and bloody consequences, they would learn that existence is precious thing to be savored. This idea squarely belongs in the aughts, a period where safety, security, and torture were the biggest issues in Western politics. The new high-concept thriller Escape Room has its roots in the Saw films, and also low-budget cult hits like Cube. It complicates its simple premise by partially implicating the audience: like the cameras watching the desperate characters, we are voyeurs who delight in the danger the characters find themselves. -Alan Zilberman
The second installment of the Fantastic Beasts saga is a tremendous disappointment. Much of this comes down to the story, a garbled mess of ideas connected by tiny rubber bands back to the evil Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp. The cutest little beasts cannot save this ship so long as its captain, author and screenwriter J.K. Rowling, is setting her legacy ablaze. -Vesper Arnett
Lanthimos is not a subtle director. His misanthropy almost rivals Kubrick, but he has more in common with Peter Greenaway, an English filmmaker who used high society and garish production values to expose the raw ugliness lurking underneath. Like Greenaway, Lanthimos skewers these characters in an unsparing way, except he sometimes lets his camera linger long enough so we can briefly empathize with everyone’s misery. Some of his metaphors are heavy-handed, too: Anne loves rabbits, for one thing, and their position in the frame practically blares what we are supposed to think of the action. That heavy-handed commentary is infrequent, unlike the director’s other work, so The Favourite succeeds as the nastiest high stakes workplace comedy you’ll see all year. -Alan Zilberman
The folks in the climbing community are not like regular people. They look at the face of a seemingly insurmountable cliff and see something to dominate, often at great risk. And within that community, there are are some folks who takes risks too dangerous for the mainstream. Alex Honnold, the subject of the new documentary Free Solo, is one of those people. He doesn’t just want to climb mountains; he wants climb them without the assistance of ropes, using only his hands, feet, and a handful of chalk. Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, this film is about a seemingly impossible athletic feat. It treats Honnold’s goal with awe and urgency, but there is more to it than that. Chin and Vasarhelyi are keenly aware of the danger involved, so the film also serves as an exploration of obsession and risk. -Alan Zilberman
M. Night Shyamalan is back at it again: Glass is a frustrating disappointment. It is the unexpected third film in a trilogy that began with Unbreakable, which was released almost 20 years ago, which was also the follow-up to his breakout hit The Sixth Sense. It’s really an achievement to have made this film boring, especially after the success of the second film in the trilogy, Split. -Trisha Brown
Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) prides himself on his talents as a bullshitter. He can talk his way into the hearts of New York power players, talk the police out of putting his friends in prison, and can convince others that he’s not racist, as long as he’s getting paid not to be. He can use a racial slur in one scene, then hang out with non-white companions in the next. Tony is a mess, covered in whatever food he ate last and childishly simple in both the way he talks and writes. Yet Tony can also be charming – a parallel talent for the bullshitter – and a man who stands for what’s right, regardless of prejudices. Green Book is a lot like Tony: it’s sloppy, it’s plain, and full of expected bullshit, but when it needs to lay on the charm, it can do so quite effectively. -Ross Bonaime
In the opening lines of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the narrator states, “The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.” To be fair, Seuss didn’t need to dig much deeper to tell his 69-page holiday classic, or the subsequent iconic 1966 animated television special. Illumination Entertainment’s third and best Seuss adaptation – following their Horton Hears a Who! and The Lorax – The Grinch does a decent job of patting out the original story, but these additions are still inserted into a mostly middling animated film. -Ross Bonaime
Falling in love is the easy part. There is excitement, discovery, and the palpable sense of mutual chemistry. What comes afterward is the hard part: a series of negotiations, betrayals, and apologies that are governed by an overarching need for mutual acceptance. If Beale Street Could Talk, the miraculous new film from Barry Jenkins, shows how the hard part is even harder in the United States where you’re black, effectively a second class citizen. In adapting a slim novel by James Baldwin, Jenkins avoids the trappings of “romance” for a drama that’s more sensuous, and more daring. -Alan Zilberman
Haughty, well-dressed, and operatic, Mary Queen of Scots would be noteworthy in another era of moviemaking. Hell, even five or ten years ago it might have been that late-season historical drama that looks formulaic, but still becomes required pre-Oscar viewing just so you know about the movie that cleans up in the artistic categories and an acting nod or two. -Benjamin Freed
Ralph Breaks the Internet shifts from the video game world into a much larger landscape and succeeds because of the more wondrous options at hand. Ralph Breaks the Internet is more complex than its predecessor, a richer, more emotionally powerful film that’s consistently smart, charming, and impressively funny. -Ross Bonaime
Roma is, on every technical level, marvelous in all the ways we expect and love from a Cuarón film. Shot in sumptuous digital black-and-white, the film is composed primarily of long shots that pan back and forth at their own almost-languid face, oftentimes not quite keeping up with its characters as they bustle about. The film’s composition strikingly contrasts the claustrophobic with the wide open, often pushing its characters and central action into the corner and letting its screen be dominated by rich, cacophonous tableaux. Roma strikes a tone that balances the understatedly comic with the ominous, a fragile feat that usually only the Coens can pull off with this much confidence.
But Roma never quite emerges from Cuarón’s mind. -Max Bentovim
We’re raised to believe that one of the few things we can’t choose in life is our families. But challenging that notion lies at the heart of Shoplifters, the latest by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda and winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. -Benjamin Freed
At this point, Spider-Man should feel tired and uninspired. But Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a vital, vibrant, and unique take on the superhero genre that breathes life not just into Spider-Man, but into superhero films in general.
However the development process went, the finished product is astonishing. Cooper, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Eric Roth (with an assist from William Wellman’s script for the 1937 original), has crafted a classic bit of Hollywood mythmaking that avoids so much of the stodginess that frequently drags down prestige studio fare. -Benjamin Freed
Even if it wasn’t a remake of the 2011 French hit The Intouchables, The Upside would still be a story that had been heard plenty of times before. This type of story about two socially, racially and economically different people finding friendship and common ground is a tale as old as cinema, and The Upside certainly doesn’t attempt to navigate around the cliches/tropes that have made this a reliable story to tell. But The Upside’s bland take on this tired idea makes it a mostly unremarkable addition in this tradition, a film whose release struggles are more interesting than the story at hand. -Ross Bonaime
Vice, made properly, would be a horror show. Instead, Adam McKay’s follow-up to 2015’s excellent and still-relevant The Big Short leans too hard on its stylistic flairs and saves its hardest punches for the viewer. There are gags abound, fourth-wall breakdowns, and constant reconstructions of Cheney’s (Christian Bale) most notorious deeds. But the film comes off as simultaneously under-polished and overcooked. -Benjamin Freed