Netflix’s Murder Mystery Review

This is a non-spoiler review for Murder Mystery, which premieres Friday, June 14 on Netflix.

Calling Murder Mystery the best Adam Sandler film in years is faint praise*, for sure, but that doesn't change the fact that, overall, it's a sturdy and scenic romp anchored by some nice chemistry between Sandler and co-star Jennifer Aniston. Yes, there are even a few genuine laughs.

*not counting Sandler starring in Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories, naturally

Maybe the reason this project stands a bit taller than other Sandler Netflix offerings (aside from Aniston being a fun co-lead) is that Murder Mystery didn't start out as a Sandler film. In development since 2012, this film, penned by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, The Amzing Spider-Man), once had Charlize Theron and director John Madden attached. A few years, and talent shuffles, later and we're now given a grandfathered-in Happy Gilmore production that still maintains some of its original zest.

Continue reading…

Toy Story 4 Review

From the outset, Toy Story 4 seemed like a terrible idea. After the sublime send-off that the third film gave Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang, the thought of revisiting the franchise almost a decade after that crowd-pleasing finale felt like a cynical cash-grab - one that risked tarnishing the legacy of a practically perfect trilogy. There were production delays, release date changes, and “creative and philosophical differences” that caused the film’s writers to quit the project - all pretty glaring red flags.

Continue reading…

Shaft Review

It’s been almost 40 years since moviegoers were introduced to the action hero John Shaft, played by Richard Roundtree in three trailblazing movies and one short-lived TV series. Heroic, revolutionary and confidently, powerfully sexual, Roundtree’s version of the character became a cultural icon, thanks in no small part to an unforgettable, Oscar-winning ode to his awesomeness, composed and performed by Isaac Hayes.

In the decades that followed there have been two attempts to revitalize the motion picture franchise. The late, great John Singleton cast Samuel L. Jackson as Shaft’s nephew in the exciting 2000 reboot, which skillfully balanced the action and social commentary inherent to the character, and yet somehow it never yielded a proper sequel.

Continue reading…

Men In Black: International Review

Men in Black: International isn’t a reboot, but it acts like one. The original movie’s plot beats are out in full force here: a young recruit is paired with an aloof, experienced agent and immediately gets embroiled in a world-threatening mystery that centres around a landmark built for a World’s Fair. There are chrome guns, cars with red buttons, fist-sized aliens and Frank the Pug. If any of the core characters from the original were actually in this, they’d probably make a quip about how familiar all this is. Yet somehow, in spite of all of that, International manages to fundamentally misunderstand practically everything that made the original film so endearing, and so enduring.

Continue reading…

Netflix’s I Am Mother Review

Even at the edge of extinction, some things about humanity will never change, like the rocky road of coming-of-age. An unnamed girl may be raised in a doomsday bunker by an android called Mother, but despite never having met another teen, her path to maturity is nonetheless marked with recklessness and rebellion. To know who we might become, we first must call into question all we know and have been. And in I Am Mother, a teen girl known only as Daughter will change the future of mankind when she challenges the only world she's ever known.

Directed by Grant Sputore, I Am Mother begins in a labyrinthine "population center," in which 65,000 human embryos are in cryogenic stasis. This will be a place for mankind to repopulate, following the world-ravaging horrors of an "extinction event." But for now, the only one wandering its halls is Mother, who selects a single embryo to develop in an artificial womb. Mother (voiced in a whisper by Rose Byrne) sings the Dumbo lullaby "Baby Mine" over a charming montage of Daughter's childhood. She grows before our eyes. There she is as a toddler, lumbering about the cold halls. There she is cuddling a toy rabbit as she cozies up to Mother's charging station. One particularly touching moment shows the child bedecking her robot parent with colorful stickers of smiling animals. Years later, when Daughter is a stern-faced young woman, a few of these stickers remain, visually reminding the audience of a simpler time, when they were mother and daughter, and that was all the girl need know.

Continue reading…

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Review

If you’ve always wondered what your pets are up to when you’re not around, you’re in luck, because The Secret Life of Pets was a very funny movie about just that subject, and you can watch it any time you want. The Secret Life of Pets 2, on the other hand, is a mediocre retread of the original, with a few good gags but very little reason to exist, aside from temporarily distracting children and putting their parents to sleep.

The adorable lapdog Max, voiced by Patton Oswalt (taking over from Louis C.K.), thinks his life is just about perfect. He and his dog roommate Duke (Eric Stonestreet) are as happy as could be with their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper), until she meets a nice guy and has a baby, Liam, which proceeds to make Max a nervous wreck. At first he’s afraid the baby will hurt him - which it often does - but then he develops an affection for Liam, and he becomes absolutely terrified that anything will hurt the child.

Continue reading…

Framing John DeLorean Review

I’m particularly drawn to the story of John DeLorean, seeing as how I owned one of the DMC-12 sports cars that bear his name for over a decade. From that experience, I can assure you: rumor, innuendo, myth, and straight-up falsehoods followed John Zachary DeLorean, his company, and his elegant stainless steel-body, gullwing-door cars for years after his death in 2005. Framing John DeLorean offers a compelling, balanced account of both the transcendent accomplishments of the Detroit legend as well as his catastrophic personal and professional failures – told through a clever mix of interviews with those closest to him, real-life archival footage, and dramatic reenactments with Alec Baldwin playing a spot-on DeLorean.

Continue reading…

Dark Phoenix Review

Although not the trainwreck some may have feared given its mostly lackluster trailers, Dark Phoenix nevertheless brings the long-running X-Men franchise to a close in a messy and muddled fashion. The film is marginally better than the previous telling of the Phoenix saga, X-Men: The Last Stand, and it’s certainly better than the bloated and excessive X-Men: Apocalypse, but Dark Phoenix is still a disappointing finale for this nearly 20-year-old series, as Disney assumes ownership of the X-Men characters from Fox going forward. (Yes, let’s acknowledge that The New Mutants is still the final X-related Fox-produced film left for release next year.)

Continue reading…

Here’s What It’s Like to Pilot the Millennium Falcon

Note: IGN has been in the business of reviews for more than a decade, but to our knowledge, we haven't reviewed a theme park ride before now - so consider this an experiment for us as much as you, with the caveat that we have no existing reviews to compare it to, and that your own experience will undoubtedly be colored by what you enjoy most about theme park rides, so we encourage you to visit the park and experience it for yourself if you can! Also, according to the Disney press materials, the ride's official title is Smugglers Run with no apostrophe, and yes, it bothers us grammar nerds too.

This review has been updated (5/30) with more details on the visuals of the ride and a quote from one of the producers on the use of Epic's Unreal game engine. For more from the new Star Wars land, check out all the familiar characters and creatures you can expect to see, and the best Easter eggs we found at Galaxy's Edge.

Continue reading…

Deadwood: The Movie Review

Deadwood: The Movie premieres on HBO on May 31 (8:00 p.m. ET/PT).

Roughly 13 years after HBO canceled the award-winning series, Deadwood finally gets the proper conclusion its creators, cast, and fans have long awaited in the form of a feature film. And while it wouldn’t be considered one of the best episodes of the series, this movie is nevertheless a fitting and moving farewell to Deadwood and its cast of verbose but rough-hewn, morally complex characters.

Set a decade after the events of the final episode, Deadwood: The Movie picks up in 1889 as South Dakota becomes the 40th state in the Union. A U.S. Senator has come to town to commemorate this momentous occasion … George Ambrose Hearst (played with sinister resolve by Gerald McRaney), the same rich and powerful villain who lorded over Deadwood in Season 3.

Continue reading…