Now that 21st Century Fox has become the property of Disney, one imagines that the nearly 20-year-old X-Men franchise will be rebooted* and integrated into the stunningly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe at some point in the next few years. It may be worth taking a moment, then, to pay tribute to the series of films that most closely approximated what it’s like to read comic books.
I don’t get it.
I mean, I get Detective Pikachu. The movie, that is. It’s not complicated, basically one part noir, one part cartoon, about a young man trying to figure out who killed his father, and why: a sillier Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, perhaps. I could talk about Justice Smith’s underwhelming performance as Tim Goodman or Ryan Reynolds’s amusing-but-tiring shtick as the voice of the titular yellow catlike Pokemon whose powers involve lightning, I think (it’s never really explained). Or about how something feels just a hair off with the computer animation; there’s an unreality when Tim pats Pikachu’s head, his hand seems to be resting just above it.
Shadow, the new action epic from Chinese director Zhang Yimou, is a bit slow to get rolling and likely inscrutable, politically, to the average American. Yet what it lacks in immediate gratification it makes up for in visual spectacle: from the set design to the action choreography to the costuming, Shadow is sumptuous and sensuous throughout.
Under the Silver Lake is the sort of movie I’m a sucker for. Overly ambitious and densely plotted and stuffed to the brim with ideas about modernity and pop culture and the meaning of it all, David Robert Mitchell’s follow up to the critically acclaimed It Follows never quite coheres into something solid enough to grapple with.
Why do we go to the movies? Strike that: Why do we use that locution, “to the movies”? Movie theaters are the physical locations to which we are going, after all. The phrasing itself is a bit anachronistic in the age of Netflix and Hulu and Prime and the Criterion Channel and Shudder and Vudu: the movies seem to come to us as much as we go to them.
Sure, it’s a comic book origin story, hot on the heels of one comic book origin story released four weekends ago and just ahead of another comic book origin story coming next weekend. But Shazam! is fun and funny, anchored by a charismatic actor who brings some childlike joy to a genre that seems unlikely to wear out its welcome anytime soon.