Entertainment Weekly killed "Dunkirk" for me. Not because the review written by Chris Nashawaty was negative or turned me off in any way, but because it went too far toward the other extreme. On Tuesday afternoon, the headline on EW.com proclaimed the film to be "Easily the Best Movie of the Year So Far." So I went into the film expecting nothing less than unquestionable excellence, something that would make me forget all about "Logan" and "John Wick: Chapter 2" and all my other favorites of 2017.
In this era of remakes and reboots and other words to describe digging up long-dormant franchises, the revival of "Planet of the Apes" has turned out to be one of the best surprises. It would have been so easy for things to go wrong with these movies: they could have been too silly, they could have taken themselves too seriously and become unintentionally silly, the special effects could have been unconvincing, the special effects could have been so convincing that they fell into the Uncanny Valley.
For most of "Spider-Man: Homecoming," I didn't see why the movie was getting so much praise from critics. I didn't like Tom Holland's take on Peter Parker aka Spider-Man, I was underwhelmed by the villain Vulture (Michael Keaton), I was annoyed by almost all of Peter's friends and classmates, and the action, development, and conflicts were completely standard for the superhero genre. In fact, they were overly familiar because we've had so many Spider-Man movies already and we have a good idea of how the character operates.
"Despicable Me 3" barely contains any of the franchise's trademark Minions, and the little we do get isn't really related to the rest of the movie. It's as if the people at Illumination Animation almost let a "Despicable Me" movie into theaters without any Minions - the horror! I personally can't stand the Minions, mainly because of the way they talk, and was glad to see them kept to a minimum this time around. Just my luck, the movie in this series that uses them the least is the one that is most lifeless otherwise, which implies that they should have been used more to punch things up.
You're probably expecting me to trash this movie. And make no mistake, it deserves to get trashed. Its script is horrendous, its editing is a joke, its jokes are painful, and all the metallic whooshing and clanging get old real quick. It's the same collection of complaints I always have about the "Transformers" movies. But I can't work up too much ire for this movie for the simple reason that at this point I'm just too numb.
"Cars" is probably the most unpopular arm of the Pixar universe. The first film was only moderately well-received, the sequel was the first eligible Pixar film not to be nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, and the two "Planes" spinoffs (which are from a non-Pixar branch of Disney) are direct-to-DVD-quality garbage. To be clear, I liked the first two "Cars" movies and I don't think Pixar has ever made a "bad" movie, but I don't know why they're dead-set on expending this franchise when they keep hitting a wall with anthropomorphic vehicles.
"The Mummy" is the first official entry in the "Dark Universe," a franchise where Universal aims to revive its classic movie monsters and have them mingle. Think of it as a variation on the Marvel and DC Extended Universes. I have to wonder if The Mummy as a character is the best entry point for this series. Isn't The Mummy kind of low-tier for this big of a role? Probably the only reason we're getting The Mummy instead of power players like Dracula or Frankenstein's Monster is that "Dracula Untold" and "Victor Frankenstein" flopped so badly.
It was a poorly-kept secret that Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) was going to be a part of last year's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." That didn't stop her from getting a huge reaction when she finally appeared. It wasn't even that the movie used her well, people just loved "that moment when Wonder Woman showed up." Demand for Wonder Woman was high, as if people already knew she had more to offer than the current incarnations of Batman or Superman. That demand was well-founded, because Wonder Woman's story is easily the best of the widely-disliked DC Extended Universe.
I've found that the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies benefit from low expectations. Take the original, "Curse of the Black Pearl" from 2003. At first, it seemed like a bad idea to invest so heavily in a pirate movie (two words: "Cutthroat Island") based on a Disney theme park ride (three words: "The Country Bears"). But the movie pulled a huge upset and proved the naysayers wrong: it was funny, it was exciting, Johnny Depp got an Oscar nomination for playing the mischievous Captain Jack Sparrow, and it made a ton of money.
I've never been the biggest fan of the "Alien" franchise, including the original film from 1979. Maybe it's because I've been raised on movies that rip it off, or maybe it's because that big surprise scare was spoiled for me long before I saw it, but I see it as little more than characters skulking around a spaceship waiting to be picked off like in any number of unimaginative horror movies. So I'm probably not the best candidate for "Alien: Covenant," which, after the misguided highbrow affair that was 2012's "Prometheus," gets the franchise back to its glorified-slasher-movie roots.