Joel has written 63 reviews for films rated ★★ .

  • The Turning

    The Turning

    ★★

    A retelling of Henry James' classic novel the Turn of the Screw, 2020's the Turning just can't stand up against the classic story even if the visuals are strong and Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard and Brooklynn Prince bring great performance but the story relies on jump scares, dreamm sequences and other horror cliches to fill out the running time and the ending really felt like act two when it should have had a more engaging finale.
    The Turning had some…

  • Greed

    Greed

    ★★

    Greed is a satire on how the 1% live and the class system and how the rich control those below them while also being a commentary on how the system is broken but it never effectively succeeds at either goal.
    Greed has a stacked cast with Steve Coogan stealing every scene he's in(even though he is annoying in most of his scenes-it is kind of the point) and Isla Fischer, Asa Butterfield and Stephen Fry turning out some good performances…

  • Beneath Us

    Beneath Us

    ★★

    Beneath Us is a thriller about illegal immigrants seeking work from a rich couple that prove to be more than they seem. The story does have some decent story ideas as well as some unnerving scenes that ramp up the tension well (despite a lot of the acting not being stellar Lynne Collins being over the top any time on screen, but being a decently despicable foe for the young workers) and interesting twists and turns.
    The failure of the…

  • Strange But True

    Strange But True

    ★★

    Strange But True is an odd movie because it feels like two different movies poorly pieced together with good actors giving some bland performances.
    The story follows  Philip ( Nick Robinson) who receives a visit from his deceased brother’s former girlfriend that leads the family on a journey of self discovery and the past. Amy Ryan and Greg Kinnear play Philip’s parents but really aren’t given much to work with and a result they both come off as mundane in…

  • Ne Zha

    Ne Zha

    ★★

    Ne Zha is a Chinese animated fantasy film filled with myth and lore and history that can be confusing at times. The action looks sleek and the animation style is quite beautiful to look at. The story has a lot of twists and turns for different characters that it becomes hard to follow what character’s goals  are impacting the overall dilemma the film raises. 
    There is some compelling drama which keeps the story engaging with themes of belonging and family…

  • Daddy's Home 2

    Daddy's Home 2

    ★★

    Daddy's Home 2 and Bad Moms Christmas are essentially the same movie: The parents of the leads(Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg) come home for Christmas and hijinx ensues. Unlike Bad Moms 2, Daddys Home brings cringeworthy humor, bad performances and chemistry from the leads and manages to be more offensive than anything.
    Mel Gibson is more or less being himself but he's bringing the best performance here as his sarcasm is at least relatable even if he is given some…

  • Ferdinand

    Ferdinand

    ★★

    Ferdinand is an animated movie about a bull named Ferdinand, voiced by John Cena, raised by a young girl as a pet who gets returned to the bull ranch he was born at and must make his way home.
    John Cena is charismatic in his role as Ferdinand and his connection to the girl is endearing but unfortunately that is only a small part of the film as they are quickly separated. The rest of the movie is full of…

  • Father Figures

    Father Figures

    ★★

    Ed Helms and Owen Wilson costar in a comedy about two brothers who set out on a journey to find their father. The story breaks up into several different stories where the brothers go from father potential to the next as they try to discover the truth with Terry Bradshaw, JK Simmons and Christopher Walken cameoing in the film. Ving Rhames and Katt Williams also star in small roles with Williams's role feeling shoehorned in just to try and get…

  • Downsizing

    Downsizing

    ★★

    Alexander Payne, director of Descendants, Sideways and Nebraska, directs a film about a world where people have been shrunken down to prevent overpopulation.
    The premise seems fun and quirky and Downsizing works best when it's focusing on the world bending aspect of the world they live and in that respect it is fun and inventive. The film soon evolves into something political and often too preachy as it takes its aim at global warming among other things and gets lost…

  • Paris Can Wait

    Paris Can Wait

    ★★

    Have you been clamoring for a film about a rich white woman who travels through Europe eating at fancy places while a man tries to seduce her? Well then, this is the film for you. There's really not a lot to say about this film. A road trip film where a married woman(played by Diane Lane) travels with a business associate(Arnaud Viard) of her husband(in a cameo role by Alec Baldwin) as he tries to seduce her by taking her…

  • Despicable Me 3

    Despicable Me 3

    ★★

    The continuation of the Gru storyline from the previous films, the Despicable Me films seem to have nowhere new to go and are just rehashing things for nostalgic sake. So why not bring in a villain that is just a throwback to 80s culture(played by Trey Parker) in the continuation of the lets bring back the 80s thing everyone's doing now.
    The voice acting is still top-notch as ever but the story is too predictable and often trying too hard…

  • The House

    The House

    ★★

    There's two kinds of Will Ferrell movies to me: The comedy that takes a simple premise but really nails the humor and Ferrell and Co are just running on all cylinders(Anchorman,Talladega Nights and Step Brothers to name a few) and the comedies that had fun premises but are just poorly executed and poor screenwriting(Daddy's Home, Casa de Mi Padre and Semi-Pro as proof) and The House definitely falls into the latter.
    The story of a suburban family having to get…