My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

This week focuses on three new films, released during 2024.


FURIOSA (2024)

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

What’s most surprising about the new Mad Max movie is that it’s worth the price of admission mostly for the acting, not the action.

The latter is certainly good at times, most admirable for its creative staging, but is far less grounded and “real” than FURY ROAD’s epic sequences, relying too much on CGI which makes it feel more like a video game than a movie. I’m astounded by George Miller’s imagination and he shows more creativity than all of Hollywood combined in just one film (STAR WARS creators should take note on how to world build and tell a compelling sci-fi adventure) but this time around he gets a little carried away with his ideas. They’re so high concept that he could only pull them off with a crap ton of computer graphics and that spoils some of what made his previous entries so good.

The performances on the other hand are captivating, the highlight of this experience. I was skeptical of Hemsworth in the trailers but he delivers big time in the picture. He’s a charismatic, demented man child wreaking havoc through the wasteland. Tom Burke steals every scene he’s in. The actor gives the picture the Mad Max energy it needed, channeling Mel Gibson from the 80s more than Tom Hardy ever did (or could). Burke is now on my radar of actors to watch. And Anya Taylor-Joy does good work here too. The whole idea of a Furiosa prequel bored me, mostly because Theron’s performances was the least interesting part of FURY ROAD. However, Anya does far more with the character. Her eyes and expressions, in a mostly dialog-less performance, recall the great silent film actors. She’s feral as Furiosa, a broken survivor of the wasteland.

It looks like FURIOSA isn’t going to do well commercially. That’s a shame. It deserves far more than most of the sequels, reboots, etc. because Miller does not repeat himself. Four movies into this franchise and he’s still showing us something new every time. Let’s hope they give him the money to keep going.

Watched at Majestic Theaters in Yakima, WA.



Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

It seems most new movies I see these days needed a rewrite or two. Their scripts don’t feel fully developed or lacking in oversight from producers with experience.

Such is the cast with ARCADIAN, an entertaining, creepy, but quite flawed and frustrating thriller that just his theaters. I can’t say it has a good concept; it riffs on other movies (of the 20th and 21st centuries) and has a very cool design for its creatures, though their unique look is all sight and no substance. Unlike most of the population, I was not a fan of A QUIET PLACE and therefore was rooting for this film to be better, especially since it features my favorite actor, Nicolas Cage. It comes out slightly better but makes some of the same mistakes.

For one, it’s guilty of making its characters do things for thrills rather than following the logic of the story world. Cage and his sons act in ways that are very hard to conceive for people who have been living with this situation for 15 years. If the movie changed that timeline to only three months following the beginning of this disaster, that small shift would make many of the scenes far more believable. As it is, the filmmakers are lazy (no surprise) and prefer to move the characters around like chess pieces but without respecting the rules of the game.

They’re also lazy in explaining the world and their monsters. I love mystery and ambiguity but you have to give the audience something. This film throws out a lot of ideas, including an undercooked environmental message, but none of them are developed. Everything is a red herring, from one of the heroes dissecting a creature to theories about their origin to a climactic moment with Cage that I (and my two friends who went to the theater with me) thought was going in a much more interesting direction. When we reach the end of this creature feature, we’re left with basically nothing new, nothing gained. Again, if the story was set a few months into the fight, I’d get it but fifteen years? It’s a poor statement about humanity saving itself…

Full of creepy thrills but light on story and ideas, ARCADIAN was an okay time at the movies. That’s it.

Watched at Cinemark Park Place in Tucson.



Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I’m glad to see Adam Sandler playing more dramatic parts and I’m grateful that Netflix provides a canvas for filmmakers/stars to take chances. And with that comes the reality that not all of those attempts will work as well as others. SPACEMAN is an excellent example of that possibility.

The well-meaning sci-fi drama is too one note. It has one mode, melancholy. All of its characters embody that vibe, from the humans on earth to the spiders in space to the titular protagonist. They’re all in the same key, which might sound good on paper but it doesn’t work on screen. SPACEMAN desperately needs some levity, some spark of humor or suspense to liven it up. It needed at least one character who played different notes. Instead, they’re all perfectly in line with the Max Richter score…

But I admire Sandler and his desire to do something different. He is good in SPACEMAN but the script and direction don’t allow him to be great. The movie also has some fantastic images, visuals that would have been even more powerful if the narrative had more strength.

Watched on Netflix