May 23, 2022

Dinosaurs Truly Come to Life in New Docuseries “Prehistoric Planet” (Review)

There is something enticing about being given a window into a world we will never experience. Sometimes it can feel private, even perverse…but not when it comes to the dinosaurs.

Image courtesy of Apple TV+

Over fifty million years ago, these prehistoric creatures, both large and small, roamed the earth alongside the animals we coexist with today. Our knowledge of the dinosaurs has only continued to increase over the last centuries, and with technology advancing right alongside it, we’re now able to digitally render the gorgeous environments that dinosaurs resided in for an even better understanding of how they lived.

May 19, 2022

“The Valet” Proves the Traditional Rom-Com Still Lives (Review)

If you are a regular watcher of movies, you’ve undoubtedly seen your fair share of romantic comedies. After a while, you will start to pick up the tropes and typical story structure, and it becomes easier and easier to predict what will happen in any given movie. Sometimes, that can make rom-coms a chore, but in the case of The Valet, a remake of a French film of the same name, it actually makes the experience better.

Image courtesy of Hulu

Eugenio Derbez, best known to me as the music teacher from this year’s best picture winner, CODA, plays Antonio, a valet who gets roped into a Hollywood scandal by unfortunate circumstance: he crashes his bike into the car of movie star Olivia Allan (Ready or Not’s Samara Weaving), just as the paparazzi photograph her with the married man that she is having an affair with. Played by New Girl's Max Greenfield, the married man is a senator, or a councilman, or a realtor — I honestly couldn’t tell you which one — but to cover up the affair, he pays Antonio to step into the public eye and pretend to be Olivia’s boyfriend.

May 17, 2022

The Lenient Critic Podcast Episode 26: Moon Knight, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

It’s Marvel week here on the podcast, as Alice returns for back-to-back reviews of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Moon Knight. Plus, previews of upcoming releases and more of what we’ve been watching lately.

Dont forget to subscribe to the podcast and give us a rating on Apple Podcasts!

The Doctor Strange spoiler episode is coming next week!

May 14, 2022

“Senior Year” Brings Back the 90s Teen Movie, with a Twist (Review)

Getting older can be scary. I’m 19, so I don’t feel qualified to speak accurately on the fears of rapidly getting older without meaningful accomplishment, but it’s a subject that Senior Year, a new comedy straight from Netflix, takes in stride.

Image courtesy of Netflix

We’re first introduced to Stephanie Conway, an Australian immigrant who just wants to be one of the popular girls. It’s the late 90s, prime time of the Mean Girls-esque cliques, harmful stereotypes and popular teen movies that gave every impressionable schoolchild unrealistic expectations about high school. However, Senior Year is itself one of those high school movies, and Stephanie succeeds in her quest: she becomes the most popular girl in school, and by default becomes insufferable and rude to her supposed best friends.

At first, Stephanie is played by Angourie Rice (The Nice Guys, Spider-Man), finally getting the chance to use her native Aussie accent in a quasi-mainstream film! After a cheerleading accident, shortly before the completion of her final year of high school, Stephanie gets thrown into a coma that she only emerges from two decades later, now played by Rebel Wilson.

May 13, 2022

The Lenient Critic Podcast: Happy Friday the 13th!

Heath is back to discuss one of the most iconic film franchises of all time, and this time he’s brought Jonathan Watkins of CinemaSins with him! Heath, Jonathan and Rowan break down the first six films in the franchise, discuss what works and what doesn’t, and the humor that comes to define Friday the 13th by movie four.

May 10, 2022

“Operation Mincemeat” Tells an Unbelievable True Story (Review)

Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. Every instance of a bizarre, real-life occurrence not widely known or discussed is fascinating to me, which is why I’m grateful for the film medium: it gives a chance for these stories to be told in an accessible way, no matter what time period the stories are from. Films are something that most everyone can get behind.

Image courtesy of Netflix

This time, director John Madden (Oscar-nominated for Shakespeare in Love) is proving he has the chops to make a bona fide war movie — if you don’t count Captain Corelli’s Mandolin — with Operation Mincemeat, one of those fantastically weird war maneuvers that, despite all odds, was successfully pulled off. The curtain rises in 1943, as the Allies are attempting to disguise their upcoming invasion of Sicily. A deception effort, involving the deceased tramp Glyndwr Michael, was devised, in which Michael would be outfitted as the fictitious Major William Martin (later known as “the man who never was”) of the Royal Marines. Michael’s body was furnished with false documents purporting that Greece and Sardinia were the Allies’ true invasion targets in an effort to lure German forces away from Sicily.

May 8, 2022

Random Musings: “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”

The increasingly complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe ushered in an important new entry this week with
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and I didn’t have a chance to cover everything I wanted to in my review. Here are some other thoughts I had about the film that didn’t quite fit into the review — and keep in mind, there are major spoilers ahead.

May 5, 2022

Things Get Out of Hand in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (Spoiler-Free Review)

No Marvel film, aside from perhaps Avengers: Endgame, has ever had as much pressure as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has on its shoulders. It must follow up the satisfying multiversal madness from last year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, in addition to living up to fan expectations and delivering the mass amounts of cameos that enthusiasts are demanding.

Image courtesy of Disney

With all that weight, it would be a very difficult task to completely satisfy everybody — and I genuinely believe there’s an incredible movie buried in what we eventually got. What we did get, though, is far from terrible. In fact, I’m close to loving it, and a bit more careful consideration might get me there.

May 4, 2022

“Barry” Soars Even Higher in Season 3 (Spoiler-Free Review)

It's been three years since Barry was last on the air. Back then, the world was pandemic-free, HBO Max didn’t exist, and Bill Hader was only a two-time Emmy winner. Obviously, there’s been quite a shift in circumstances since 2019, but at least one thing remains the same: Barry is still one of the best shows on television, and the third season is a perfect reminder of that.

Image courtesy of HBO

Set in a shorter span than real-time, Season Three deals directly with the consequences and fallout of its predecessor, just as any good serialized show should. All of our favorite (and least favorite) characters are taking big steps in their lives, and I was absolutely thrilled to return to this entertaining world of hilariously heightened reality.

May 3, 2022

The Lenient Critic Podcast Episode 24: The Northman, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Chris Bakker is Chris back-er (I’m sorry) on the podcast to discuss The Northman and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, two massively bombastic films that definitely aren’t getting enough box office attention. He and Rowan also preview some upcoming blockbusters and talk about what they’ve been watching lately. 

Dont forget to subscribe to the podcast and give us a rating on Apple Podcasts!

And, if you’ve seen The Northman, here’s a bonus episode where we discuss it in detail!

May 2, 2022

An Interview with “Operation Mincemeat” Director John Madden

I had the opportunity to speak with director Oscar-nominated director John Madden about his new film Operation Mincemeat, which depicts a deception effort to keep the plans for the Allied invasion of Sicily secret during the Second World War.

Image courtesy of Netflix

Madden is an English director best known for directing the Academy Award-winning Shakespeare in Love, as well as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel. He was a fascinating interview, and I loved hearing his insight about the film’s historical subjects and the streamlined, dynamic nature of the dramatization.