Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

If Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a tour of fantasy-land (who else thought their feelings seemed stuffed with baubles like gift-bags from a theme park?), The Chamber of Secrets is like accidentally wandering into the maintenance closet. Something is disenchanted by it, and I can think of no harsher criticism, to call something squinty that once was wide-eyed.

Mary Poppins Returns

When Mary Poppins pops out on stage in stockings and Mia Wallace hair I was reminded of some Mary Poppins-themed miniskirt ensembles I saw in a shop window in Disney Springs. From then on, I was half-afraid of the Banks home staging a rendition of the sexy maid porno situation. I’m fairly certain Andrews’ version would have scoffed the scanty jollity of this number in particular. I’m positive that author P.L. Travers would have wept.

Alien: Resurrection

Alien: Resurrection is not unified by its cynicism as Robocop was. It’s not a satire of us, but just a satire of Alien movies. It’s never boring and that’s actually something, in the realm of fourth entries. The reason this film is in the category of “Everyone Else is Wrong” is not because I think it’s good, but because I don’t know what people were expecting.

Alien 3

I’m aware that Alien 3 had a troubled development and a schizophrenic screenwriting cycle, all documented to any reasonable human’s satisfaction on Wikipedia. But if the result had been miraculous, Fincher would have reaped the credit as a directorial miracle worker. Blame is now the price of that possibility.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

If Raiders was a backyard adventure where we put on our explorer’s hat and went bucket-and-shoveling out into the woods for buried treasure, The Last Crusade is like watching a home movie of it. It’s still got the same gee-whizz endearment but in a “boy, don’t we look silly” kind of way.

The Thing (2011)

The Thing’s lack of a stable form worked for Carpenter, who was able to squeeze a pure and palpable uncertainty out of never knowing who or what the Thing exactly was. But in Heijningen’s version, it seems to be more a matter of horror tradition than the transcription of a bold idea.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

The title card of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, blazoned in its pulpy font across the opening dance act of shimmering waists at club Obi Wan, was the moment a great movie became a brand. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, Indy’s adventures were born as serials, each entry a new exotic locale, another damsel, another sidekick, a new hellish fortress to conquer with a whip-cracking grin.