This weekend at the movies, we’ve got a kaiju kerfuffle (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, starring Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobb Brown), a rockin’ biopic (Rocketman, starring Taron Egerton and Jamie Bell), and a creepy neighbor (Ma, also starring Octavia Spencer and Diana Silvers). What are the critics saying?
It’s right there on the packaging: Godzilla: King of the Monsters. What more could you want from a movie about a giant lizard fighting other behemoths for supremacy? Apparently quite a bit, according to the critics. While the film’s impressive cast of humans includes Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, Sally Hawkins, Bradley Whitford, David Strathairn, and Eleven herself, Millie Bobby Brown, the reviews say they don’t offer enough incentive for the story to detour away from the kaiju action. In other words, you know exactly what you’re getting with this movie, and whether or not that’s enough for you as a moviegoer will depend on how much you just want to sit back and watch giant creatures pummel each other. For some, that’s a dream come true; for others, it’s a yawn.
Music biopics aren’t a new phenomenon, but with the recent success of Bohemian Rhapsody — and Rami Malek‘s Oscar-winning performance — you can expect a few more to come down the pipeline in the near future. This year already gave us the Netflix feature The Dirt, focusing on hard rockers Mötley Crüe, and this week brings us Rocketman, a fantasy-tinged look back at the life of Elton John. Taron Egerton takes on the challenge of portraying John in the film, which traces his upbringing and musical career, culminating in his lifelong friendship with songwriter Bernie Taupin (played by Jamie Bell). It also happens to be directed by Dexter Fletcher, the same man who took over and completed Bohemian Rhapsody in the wake of Bryan Singer‘s dismissal from the project. Critics say Rocketman is an affectionate, entertaining portrait that benefits from Egerton’s powerhouse performance, John’s indelible music, and some inventive cinematic flourishes, and it should both please longtime fans and serve as a worthy introduction for neophytes.
Director Tate Taylor has employed the talents of Octavia Spencer in almost every one of his films to date, and in 2011, their work together on The Help earned Spencer an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Their latest collaboration, Ma, is their first thriller, and while critics don’t see any Academy Awards in the film’s future, they largely agree it benefits a great deal from Spencer’s presence in the central role. She plays Sue Ann, a lonely veterinary assistant who buddies up to a group of local teens by purchasing liquor for them and offering her basement as a safe space for them to party. Soon enough, the teens discover Sue Ann isn’t quite what she seems, and things take a sinister turn. Critics say Ma has a lot of potential that it doesn’t quite capitalize on, but Spencer is clearly enjoying herself, and her charismatic performance goes a long way toward making up for the story’s pacing issues and narrative problems. It’s a tad predictable, but the scenario is wacky and unusual enough — and Spencer is so fun to watch — that for some, it might just be worth the price of admission.
By leaning into the horror of it all, Swamp Thing swims deep into the trenches of this strange world and returns with a scary good TV show.
A smörgåsbord of heavenly imagery and irreverent hilarity, Good Omens works thanks to to Michael Sheen and David Tennant‘s very-nearly-holy (or maybe unholy?) chemistry — though, at only six episodes long, it’s a rare adaptation that may have benefited from being a little less faithful to the good book.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release