‘La Llorona’ doesn’t stand out, never wanted to

Oh god, she looks so bad! Why does she look so bad! Images courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

3/10 The Curse of La Llorona doesn’t go far enough. It’s the same tame, predictable movie-product the Paranormal Activity/Insidious/Conjuring super-brand has been churning out for more than 10 years now, this one vaguely Mexican-themed.

In 1973 Los Angeles, because everything in this series absolutely must be set in the mid-late 20th century, Child Protective Services case worker Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) mourns for her recently dead husband with their two children, Chris and Samantha (Roman Christou and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen). Grief and increased parenting workload affects her work, a fact which only adds to her distress.

After a strange case that ends in the drowning of two children and their delinquent mother, Patricia Alvarez (Patricia Velásquez), claiming the involvement of the supernatural, the Gates family is haunted by a powerful door lord called La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez), the weeping woman, a ghost in Mexican folklore who murdered her own two children in life and was cursed to walk the Earth looking for others to take their place.

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‘Hellboy’ is drunk, but tries valiantly to not go home

I really don’t understand why they went with the “grow horns out and end the world” scenario again. Your core audience here, the only people who are going to show up for this, remember a much better version of this plot point in the 2004 adaptation. Images courtesy Lionsgate.

2/10 Hellboy isnt’ just terrible. It’s stylishly terrible.

In Tijuana, Hellboi (David Harbour), a half-demon known as the world’s greatest paranormal investigator, is forced to kill Esteban Ruiz (Mario de la Rosa), a colleague and drinking buddy who had been turned into a vampire. Hellboi is troubled at the ease with which Ruiz was written off once he became a monster. He carries this with him into his next mission in England, where the blood queen Nimue (Milla Jovovich), a fifth century witch who was dismembered by King Arthur, threatens to cover the land in a second plague.

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‘Pet Sematary’ bland

Images courtesy Paramount Pictures.

3/10 As the credits begin to roll for Pet Sematary, what sounds like the opening riff of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” begins to play, and for a moment, I love it.

It’s a bold choice. Movies have mostly moved away from traditional end credits songs, instead opting for overtures based on the original score, so going with a song here would already be an out-of-fashion choice. But to go with not just a song, but a famous song, a soft, light-hearted song that at once clashes with the bleak film and echoes its message – literally, “Don’t Fear the Reaper” – something so perfect, so on-the-nose and so ironic at the same time, it’s a spectacularly cheeky thing.

Then I realize it’s a cover of The Ramones’ “Pet Sematary,” a song written specifically for the 1989 adaptation and re-made specifically for this 2019 version, and my excitement abates. But more importantly, I suddenly realize that quickly-dashed excitement for a song that doesn’t even end up playing is the first emotion I’ve felt during the entire 101 minute film.

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DC’s gleeful ‘Shazam!’ is the best Marvel movie in years

Images courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

8/10 Less than a month after the hotly anticipated Captain Marvel flew onto screens, Warner Bros. and DC have released a significantly better Captain Marvel movie in Shazam!

In 1974, a young Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong, Ethan Pugiotto as a child) is transported to the Rock of Eternity, where Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), the last of an ancient circle of wizards who protect humanity from the Seven Deadly Sins, searches for a successor who is pure of heart to carry on his watch. Sivana is tempted by the sins and cast out of Shazam’s magical realm. Years later, in present-day Philadelphia, Sivana finally finds the incantation to force his way back into the Rock of Eternity. He absorbs the sins’ power and leaves the decrepit wizard for dead.

Having searched for years for a worthy successor and finding none, and with the world now at immediate risk, Shazam is forced to pass his powers on to the next child he sees – rough-around-the-edges foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel). When Batson says the wizard’s name, he is struck by lightning and becomes Captain Marvel a nameless superhero who can’t say the title of his property out loud without turning back into a child (Zachary Levi). It’s all fun and games for the next hour or so until Sivana seeks out the young hero.

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Fucking seriously?

 

The Rise of Skywalker? What?

I’m trying to imagine a more lame title. Titles have never been Star Wars’ strong suit – it’s 20 years later, and I still don’t know who the phantom menace was supposed to be, but at least it was cool to say.

Disney Star Wars has always been stingy with its trailers, but this is getting to the point of self-satire. This is a 123 second trailer, and 15 seconds of that are spent on a completely blank screen. Another 15 seconds are spent on an eternal shot of a completely empty desert landscape.

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