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Gary Dowell

Professional film critic, journalist, Byronic hero.
Gary Dowell has written 563 posts for movie ink™

Movie review: “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part”

Almost everything is awesome in Mike Mitchell’s (Trolls) obligatory sequel to Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s breakout 2014 animated feature. The gags are still fast, furious, and often deeply referential; the animation still impressively blurs the line between CGI and super-convincing stop-motion; and the songs are still maddeningly catchy — especially the one titled aptly … Continue reading

Movie review: “Destroyer”

It’s a shame that Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer was released in during the last week of 2018, lost in the shuffle of holiday blockbusters and awards fodder. A sun-washed yet grimy and nihilistic slow-burn neo-noir doomed to obscurity, it boasts one of Nicole Kidman’s most compelling and fearless performances. She goes all-out as alcoholic, dissolute LAPD detective … Continue reading

Movie review: “Aquaman”

Perhaps the most comic-booky of comic book movies to hit the screen since Superman (1978), Aquaman is rough around the edges but nevertheless an enjoyably silly ride that unabashedly embraces the cheesiness and weirdness of its world and runs — er, swims — with it at full speed. It doesn’t hurt that charismatic Jason Momoa is … Continue reading

Movie review: “Mary Poppins Returns”

There’s more than a spoonful of sugar to be had with Disney’s sequel to Mary Poppins (1964), which is content to play it safe with a rehash of the original’s plot and equally derivative musical numbers. Nevertheless, it’s an bubbly concoction that goes down easy, and the adolescent target audience isn’t likely to nitpick. The borderline remake … Continue reading

Movie review: “Halloween”

Halloween wasn’t exactly the first slasher flick when it hit the screens in 1978, but John Carpenter’s low-rent classic established the template for the sub-genre. It’s been a rocky road since then, with countless knock-offs and remakes littering its wake. Even though they’re treading well-worn ground, writer-director David Gordon Green and co-writers Danny McBride and … Continue reading

Movie review: “Bad Times at the El Royale”

Much as he did with The Cabin in the Woods, writer-director Drew Goddard (The Martian) has taken a hoary old premise and re-invigorated it with deft plot twists (often delivered with shocking, sudden violence), black comedy, and genre satire. Bad Times at the El Royale plays like a long-lost Agatha Christie potboiler by way of Quentin Tarantino. … Continue reading

Movie review: “Venom”

You’d think a movie about a down-and-out reporter who teams with a cannibalistic blob of space goo to become a super anti-hero would be fun, especially now that comic book flicks are getting a tad more experimental. Alas, director Ruben Fleischer (Gangster Squad) and screenwriters Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner, Kelly Marcel, and Will Beall attempt to combine the … Continue reading

Movie review: “The Predator”

The Predator is best watched with expectations checked. Writer-director Shane Black engages in cinematic cannibalism, lifting numerous tropes from past installments, as well as falling back on some of his go-to moves, up to and including a precocious moppet (twist: this one’s autistic), a squad of bad-ass soldiers (twist again: they’re all insane), and a … Continue reading

Movie review: “The Nun”

After the runaway success of the Conjuring movies and the Annabelle killer doll spin-off sub-franchise, a movie based on the demon nun of The Conjuring 2 must have seemed like a no-brainer. Sadly, there are indeed no brains to be found in The Nun. Director Cory Hardy (The Hallow) falls back too often on predictable jump scares … Continue reading

Movie review: “The Happytime Murders”

Despite what the hype would have you believe, The Happytime Murders is not the most inappropriate puppet movie ever made (Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles still retains that honor). There is a lot of fluff wrapped around its hard-boiled innards, but somewhere in there is also a gleefully raunchy subversion of film noir and an … Continue reading

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