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.
Ever since Disney discovered they could essentially print money by making live-action versions of their animated films, these remakes have fallen into two categories. On one hand, there’s the incredibly faithful remakes – Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Jungle Book – which just recreate the stories that are already known into a realistic form. On the other, there are the films that try to show a different side to these stories, or at least add a few new layers. Maleficent turned one of Disney’s biggest villains into a sympathetic abuse survivor, and 2016’s Pete’s Dragon was a sorely needed update to a film that already felt obsolete.
Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin remake ends up being a little bit of both. Aladdin knows it has to hit all the beats of the original that it’s audience loved, but Ritchie and co-writer John August also flesh out these characters, craft a more in-depth world, and make some nice changes that makes Aladdin more than just a shot-for-shot remake. -Ross Bonaime
Like taking a red velvet cupcake to the dome (and throwing away all journalistic credibility!), the newest entry in the Blumhouse Cinematic Universe is a sugar shock straight to the brain. This is the third Annabelle (drink every time you read the name Annabelle) spinoff from The Conjuring franchise, and if you thought they’ve run out of ways to repackage her origin story, you’re dearly mistaken. Annabelle Comes Home adds another layer to the surprisingly rich history of our new favorite haunted doll. While 2014’s Annabelle served as a prequel for The Conjuring, taking us into the twisted cult filled darkness of the late sixties, 2017’s Annabelle: Creation was a prequel to the prequel, dragging us kicking and screaming into the 1940’s (and later 50’s) when Annabelle was created by a dollmaker. -Kaylee Dugan
Like President Kennedy’s famous proclamation “We choose to go the Moon,” the new documentary Apollo 11 sounds simple in its purpose. Using archival footage and audio, director Todd Douglas Miller and his team recreate the voyage undertaken by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Within that simplicity, however, is an audacious technical marvel of imagery, sound, and nonfiction storytelling. There simply has never been a documentary quite like this. As an assembly of archival footage, it is a massive undertaking. In terms of cinema, it is breathtaking real-life thriller. This film will help ensure that no generation ever forgets just what was accomplished that fateful July. -Alan Zilberman
Last year, Avengers: Infinity War came packed with a certain amount of inevitability. The entire film built up to an obvious conclusion, one that was sure to be reversed, and gave the impression that Marvel now had the ability to second guess any choice they made from now on. A year later in Avengers: Endgame, Thanos (Josh Brolin) states more than once, “I am inevitable,” addressing his destiny of murdering half the universe. Like Infinity War, it should be obvious that Endgame is heading towards an inevitable conclusion for anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yet Endgame is anything but inevitable, full of surprises, quieter, dark moments and fan service that makes the last 21 films of the MCU worth the time and effort. In a time when superhero films are an inevitability, Avengers: Endgame shows that there can be satisfying closure even in the never-ending Marvel factory.
Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart is a truly outstanding achievement, and not just because it capitalizes on the best elements of the teen comedy genre. It is far and away one of the best of the decade: timely, self-aware, and full of talent. It’s stacked from back to front, and may even be too full of strong qualities. -Vesper Arnett
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
Social media has already divided itself into two camps regarding Michael Dogherty’s (Krampus) follow up to Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (2014). Where you land, it seems, depends on whether or not you liked Edwards’ tension-heavy take on the classic kaiju, which was relatively restrained in its monster showcasing. For those frustrated with Edwards’ lack of monster mashing, Godzilla: King of the Monsters will be a step up. -Beatrice Loayza
Being an assassin is tough enough without John Wick as your target. That’s a guaranteed loss. In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum we find out just how much Wick wants to live when vengeance is not the driver. Keanu Reeves’s Wick is still the Baba Yaga of nightmares for his enemies, but now there is a $14 million bounty on his head. Though it’s not dissimilar to the previous films in the John Wick trilogy, it lacks some of the consistency of the first. When we root for Wick, we expect a level of ridiculousness that is met over and over, even allowing for humorous moments. It does not disappoint in that regard, but the story is too thin to justify the length. -Vesper Arnett
The rent in San Francisco is absurd. Just how bad is it? Curbed recently reported you can rent a bunkbed – not even a whole room – for $1,200 a month. My friends lived in a handsome two bedroom near Oracle Park where it cost $4,000 per month, then they had to leave when their landlord increased the rent to $6,000 per month, and that was seven years ago. Director Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco is acutely aware of what these prices are doing to a vibrant city, except it is not about housing policy. It is about friendship, family, and community. -Alan Zilberman
Late Night is fundamentally a workplace rom-com, and anyone who saw, say, The Devil Wears Prada, will see the obvious similarities. Just as Andy Sachs did to Miranda Priestly, Molly will find a workplace ally in her powerful female boss’s right-hand man (Denis O’Hare, playing Katherine’s executive producer), get entangled with the office’s resident hot guy (Hugh Dancy), and ultimately win over her colleagues when her ideas prove more effective. -Benjamin Freed
Leonard Cohen’s obituary was not published until a couple days after the 2016 presidential election, an event so seismic that many are still reeling from it. It is also possible that Cohen’s fans did not properly process his death: important things were on their mind, and that year already saw the deaths of David Bowie, Prince, and more. Marianne & Leonard: Word of Love, an intimate documentary about the singer and his lover, offers an appropriate goodbye. Director Nick Broomfield involves himself in the story, indulging in revisionism of the 1960s, and yet the film’s more emotional arc is ultimately more poignant than that. -Alan Zilberman
Beyond the black suits, aliens and a few nods to the earlier films, Men in Black: International is indistinguishable from what made Men in Black such an incomparable and fun idea in the first place. -Ross Bonaime
Like Hereditary, Ari Aster’s feature debut, death casts a shadow over Midsommar. I’m not talking about the typical death in horror, where its grisly context and circumstances are the focus. Aster’s sense of mortality is recognizably human: his characters grieve in extreme, relatable ways. It is unclear whether this is Aster’s cynical way of upping the stakes of his film, or just the way his mind works, but Midsommar’s emotional realism is important since what ultimately happens is so unseemly and appalling. If Hereditary is the scarier film, then this one is far more disturbing. -Alan Zilberman
In only the second attempt to make a live-action adaptation of a Nintendo game, Pokémon Detective Pikachu nails quite a bit of what people have loved about Pokémon for years. Yet in a game that mostly revolves around capturing hundreds of creatures, story isn’t the biggest draw in the Pokémon franchise, and that shows in Detective Pikachu. While world construction, character animation and a general understanding of what makes this franchise exciting to fans is present in Detective Pikachu, it’s the lackluster and confused story that keeps the latest video game adaptation from bucking the trend of unfortunate video game movies. -Ross Bonaime
One of my favorite videos on YouTube is one where Elton John is giving a concert that’s also half lecture, and the actor Richard E. Grant asks him to improvise a song based around instructions for his oven. Aside from John’s ability as a piano player, the video highlights his preternatural songwriting ability and the cheeky humor that would define his career. Rocketman, the new film about Elton John, also understands these qualities are what make him unique. Unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, a cliché-ridden biopic that features some Queen songs, this film is more of a traditional musical. Every major character sings, and while the storytelling beats are depressingly familiar, the film’s sense of theatricality adds a welcome sense of energy. -Alan Zilberman
While a lot of the jokes are sharp and the pets are adorable, the biggest problem lies in the fact that where The Secret Life of Pets really focused on Max and his struggles to make room for another dog in his home, The Secret Life of Pets 2 feels it must service the entire collection of characters introduced in the first film (while adding in more—like a Tiffany Haddish-voiced shih-tzu, which feels undeniably crafted after her personality). This sequel now is more like an ensemble sitcom where there are A, B, and C plots that eventually (and a bit haphazardly) converge at the end. -Diana Metzger
The name “Shaft” immediately conjures up memories of the past, like Richard Roundtree in 1971 walking down a NYC street to his Isaac Hayes theme song. Shaft is an iconic and important character, but he’s also a product of his time. Even 2000’s Shaft feels far older than it is, especially with Samuel L. Jackson’s John Shaft II making statements like, “It’s Giuliani time!” while cocking a gun. Yet 1971’s Shaft and 2000’s Shaft at least come off like time capsules for those periods. In the third film to earn the simple title of Shaft, again there is another Shaft, but both Roundtree and Jackson both reprise their roles of earlier generations of Shaft. For the first time though, Shaft as a character doesn’t feel like a time capsule of this day and age, but rather, an example that maybe the older Shafts should have stayed in the past. -Ross Bonaime
Where Endgame closed somberly, Far From Home swings back toward the frothiness that made its predecessor, Spider-Man: Homecoming, such a pleasurable near-diversion from the otherwise rigid confines of the Marvel series. Simply, Peter Parker and his friends are trying to have fun again and reclaim the teenage years lost when Thanos dusted them out of existence. -Benjamin Freed
Stuber is a simple but funny movie. Its overall idea is strongly reminiscent of a scene from Deadpool, which features Deadpool’s favorite cab driver takes him to some of his most important missions. It’s about as violent as Deadpool too, and definitely comparable to Collateral, the Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx vehicle (pun intended).
If Stuber went less for the hard-R rating, it could’ve considered other ways to fill time than blowing away just about every bad guy they encounter. The plot is thin, but the dedication to every silly one-liner (“You give people glocks instead of love”) is commendable. They also save a dog. Saving dogs is all the rage now. It’s fun to watch Nanjiani bounce off Bautista, and because the filmmakers are seemingly aware of the limits of a premise like this, the movie is short, around 90 minutes. -Vesper Arnett
Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) has no reason to exist. In Toy Story 4, this creature made of kindergarten classroom trash has achieved sentience, walking around and existing in a world that didn’t ask for him. The same could be said of Toy Story 4. Pixar’s first film series could’ve easily ended with the last installment and its tidy wrap-up, a happy ending for all involved. With Toy Story 3, these characters said goodbye to their beloved owner Andy, but with Toy Story 4, Woody (Tom Hanks) and friends find their own self-importance, their own reason to exist, and in doing so, create a sequel that is as essential as any other film in this series. -Ross Bonaime
The new semi-musical film Wild Rose follows a troubled woman whose lies constantly prevent her from reaching her potential. For fans of country music, stories like this are often the biggest draw, and Wild Rose does not disappoint. Jessie Buckley is perfectly cast as Rose-Lynn, a Scottish ex-con with a dream of moving to Nashville to pursue a career in country music. Buckley embraces the “wild” Rose, who exudes irresistible energy in all that relates to her music, but is seemingly lost as a result of her selfish behaviors. Not only is Buckley a great singer, she also is an excellent actor. -Vesper Arnett
If The Beatles never existed, wouldn’t our culture and history be indescribably different today? Would the Queer Eye hosts be referred to as “The Fab Five”? What would Ferris Beuller dance to on a parade float? Who hosted “Shining Time Station” before George Carlin? Would The Life of Brian exist? Would I Am Sam exist? What about Tropic Thunder? What happened to Mark David Chapman? Did the Manson murders happen? If they didn’t, what’s Sharon Tate up to? -Alan Zilberman