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 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.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a documentary about farming. In fact, the actual story of Apricot Lane would be fascinating to watch. The problem is that Chester’s only interest is to tell half-truths about his own success. Farming is a costly business, for example, yet Chester completely glosses over his start-up capital and income streams. We also know from interviews that the farm tested his marriage, to the point John and Molly almost separated. You wouldn’t know that from watching this film, since it presents the “Old McDonald” version of what happened. -Alan Zilberman
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
The newest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel, is a fun and family-friendly adventure flashback to the 90s, before the creation of the Avengers superhero team. The film is based on the Marvel comic character of Carol Danvers, and is likely to be the first introduction for many filmgoers. It’s both fun and slightly safer than it could be. At its root it’s about empathy, and that’s something we definitely need more of today. -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
The Hustle doesn’t really have anything to say about gender or make any big changes that subvert expectations for anyone who saw the Steve Martin-Michael Caine-starring film from 1988. The Hustle seems almost to just swap genres, change names accordingly, and add a few improvisations and call it a day. Yet The Hustle still has its charms in this almost completely unnecessary, beat-for-beat remake. -Ross Bonaime
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
Directed by Tina Gordon, the new comedy Little is at a relatively interesting crosswords between funny and simply “okay.” -Vesper Arnett
What is frustrating about Long Shot is how it tries to have its cake and it eat, too: politics are significant plot point, and yet some ads avoid mentioning that part of the story altogether. Most of its comedy is apolitical, to the point where it could have been about a CEO and a business reporter, so the film suffers halfhearted attempts at finding common ground only lead to a major identity crisis. -Alan Zilberman
Even though Roman is completely antisocial at the start of the film, The Mustang has a ton of heart at its center. Roman becomes a horse girl so quick it’s a wonder what he could have accomplished if he never committed crimes and was able to raise his daughter. It’s a story that is all too common to have a firm answer and a happy ending. But for just a few minutes, there is still light. -Vesper Arnett
They say that the year’s biggest films are critic-proof. What’s the proof of even reviewing Avengers: Endgame when it’s abundantly clear that scores of MCU fans will buy a ticket? I kind of feel that way about Non-Fiction, a gentle film from Olivier Assayas. Audiences will either tune into its frequency, or they won’t. This film is extremely French, in the sense that the characters get more worked up over intellectual debate, and not who is having an affair with who. In the strictest sense, this film is a comedy. There are funny lines, and Assayas affectionately satirizes his characters. In a broader sense however, this is an anthropological sketch. You may not know a single word of French, but you’ve probably been to a dinner party like the ones in this film. -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
For DC’s first superhero film that doesn’t directly correlate with the Justice League since 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, DC has released Shazam!, a comedic take on the genre that plays like Big, but if Tom Hanks turned into an adult superhero. Instead of showing that DC can branch out of their murky action wheelhouse, Shazam! shows that DC is just as bad at comedy and lighthearted fare. -Ross Bonaime
Director Ry Russo-Young has a really unique vision on telling teenage stories on film, especially translating YA books to movies. While her previous turn (the darkly funny If I Fall) in this genre feels more fluid, she pulls special moments out of her young actors. She also plays with how NYC is seen on film in really interesting ways, sometimes nostalgic and familiar or unfolding like a hidden secret. She truly is a director to follow. Unfortunately, Tracy Oliver’s script falls into trite and stilted territory where you want it to feel intimate. – Diana Metzger
In a summer full of films centering around toys, with Child’s Play and Toy Story 4 on the horizon, UglyDolls gets the season off to a horrible start. UglyDolls features a story about how being different is actually a wonderful gift, yet the film itself is a collection of tried-and-true rehashed animation tropes in a bland package. UglyDolls doesn’t just assume the old adage that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” but also ascribes to the idea “if it’s broke, that’s fine, too.” -Ross Bonaime
With Get Out, Peele showed a clockwork symmetry. Every piece had its place, every choice had its payoff. Us, by comparison, is overtly about symmetry, and yet the threads don’t quite hold up as well. Yet Us isn’t a sophomore slump by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, Peele is flexing an entirely different muscle, with a sloppy uncertainty, confusion and terror that inherently works for the story Peele is trying to tell here. Everything within Us has a question associated with it, and yet not all these questions are answered. If Get Out had a very clear, straightforward message, Us is the follow-up that will have audiences dissecting Peele’s every decision and intention here. If knowing the entire plan in Get Out made it horrific, the unknowable in Us is even more terrifying. -Ross Bonaime