Gunpowder Milkshake Reviewed: Derivative, If Somewhat Engaging, Actioner

Bullet time squared.

If you threw Kill Bill, John Wick, and maybe Atomic Blonde into a blender, maxed out on pulverizing the ingredients into a thin gruel, and then emptied the results into a screenplay program, it’d come out looking and sounding a lot like writer-director Navot Papushado’s (ABCs of Death 2, Big Bad Wolves) latest film, Gunpowder Milkshake. A derivative actioner notable both for centering its unoriginal narrative on a female assassin and a rare star turn for Karen Gillan (Jumanji, Guardians of the Galaxy), Gunpowder Milkshake doesn’t belong in the same conversation as…


We might be closer to the end than the beginning of a global pandemic, but that won’t stop the steady stream of post-apocalyptic stories set in post-pandemic worlds like Sweet Tooth, a better-than-good, possibly great comic book panel to streaming screen adaptation of writer-artist Jeff Lemire’s acclaimed fantasy series for DC’s now defunct Vertigo imprint. Lemire’s original, 40-issue series ran from 2009–2013 (a revival began last November), but it’s no less prescient or relevant almost a decade later. Pandemics may come and go, but pandemic-related, post-apocalyptic fairy tales are apparently forever, especially if the stellar Sweet Tooth is any indication…


Movie Review: “Let Him Go” Delivers a Solid Mix of Drama and Genre Thrills

The estranged family that brunches together …

Pop culture-wise, the Western genre’s relevance has faded over time, but for Kevin Costner, a throwback movie star and Oscar-winning director, it represents a figurative second home, a genre where he can explore, examine and dissect varying iterations of masculinity, from the playful, Hawksian charms of Silverado thirty-five years ago, the physical, emotional, and mental toll of the Civil War in Dances With Wolves five years later, to a weary, middle-aged gunfighter exhausted with the violence of the American West in Open Range seventeen years, through…


MOVIE REVIEW: “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” Delivers the Withering Satire We Need Right Now

The mask goes over your genitalia, not under it.

America under Trump has a lot to answer for and Sacha Baron Cohen, the British-born comedian and satirist, is back to make us pay. And in the unexpected, semi-anticipated return of Cohen’s singular creation, Borat Sagdiyev, the fictional Kazakhstan reporter who became a real-life pop-culture figure, pay we most definitely do, expiating our sins or the equivalent thereof in a loosely connected sequence of gags, jokes, and various other attempts at humor, always at the expense of the venal, ignorant, narcissistic Americans who either voted for Trump…


MOVIE REVIEW: “The Invisible Man” Deftly Reinvents H.G. Wells’ Titular Character for the #MeToo Era

Elisabeth Moss’ character takes a breather in the rain from an invisible tech-bro’s gaslighting endeavors.

It might seem like a distant, half-forgotten memory now, but three years ago, Universal Studios introduced their one-and-done “Dark Universe” with The Mummy, a generic, CGI-heavy, spectacle-driven franchise starter that unequivocally tanked with critics and audiences despite a $150-million-dollar budget and action-star Tom Cruise in the lead, non-mummy role. Weeks before The Mummy arrived in multiplexes, Universal touted a slew of name-brand stars, including Javier Bardem as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s Monster and Johnny Depp as H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man, to headline future entries in the…


MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Birds of Prey (and the Fantabalous Emancipation of Harley Quinn) Delivers Ultra-Violent Excess Along With an Anti-Patriarchy Message

Finally, the gang’s all here. Now let’s prey.

Little positive came out of 2016’s inexplicably popular Suicide Squad, Warner Bros./ DC’s dubious attempt to commercially exploit second-, third-, and fourth-tier no-name comic-book characters with the exception of Margot Robbie’s live-wire portrayal of co-creators Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s singular peroxide-blonde, pig-tailed creation, Harley Quinn (aka Harleen Quinzel). Robbie made the same conclusion about Quinn, using her newfound clout to push Warner Bros. to both greenlight a spinoff with an extravagantly long subtitle (in parentheses, no less), Birds of…


MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Dolittle’ Gives Robert Downey Jr. His First, Post-MCU Mega-Bomb

Dolittle and his animal buddies, together again (for the last time).

Post-MCU, Robert Downey Jr. could have done anything, up to and including an early retirement from the acting profession. But actors are exhibitionist, sometimes even narcissistic, by nature. To paraphrase Descartes’ famous dictum, if they’re not projected on a giant multiplex screen, a 4K home theater system, or performing in front of a live audience, they don’t exist. Sometimes that means taking the Michael Caine or Samuel L. Jackson approach to their careers, appearing in 3–5 films a year for several decades, but more often than not, it means…


MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Underwater’ Delivers B-Movie Thrills and Chills on An A-Level Budget

Time for some virtual reality video-game fun.

Filmed almost three years ago, but left in distribution limbo partly due to the Disney Industrial Complex’s apparently welcome takeover of 20th Century Fox’s media assets and ultra-toxic co-star T.J. Miller’s public breakdown and humiliation amidst on-set harassment allegations on Silicon Valley, Underwater, a rare, not entirely unwanted, addition to the underserved “aquatic horror” sub-genre arrives in multiplexes during the coldest, cruelest month of the year (i.e., January). …


MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Cats’ Delivers One of the Most Misguided, Misconceived Wannabe Blockbusters in Recent Memory

It only gets weirder and weirder from here.

Calling Cats, Oscar-stealing director Tom Hooper’s (The Danish Girl, Les Miserables, The King’s Speech) big-screen, $100 million adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running Broadway/West End stage musical, an abomination, a blight, a plague against cinema that signals the end times — aside, of course, from the White House squatter’s daily depredations on the American public and the world stage — might sound like hyperbole, but sometimes hyperbole isn’t just warranted, it’s absolutely necessary under the circumstances. Long considered unadaptable for its vignette-heavy structure, emphasis on…


MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Gives Fans Exactly What They Wanted, If Not What They (We) Needed

Staring semi-seriously into the CGI-distance is a talent, not a skill.

If a sub-Reddit crammed with only the most vocal, vituperative, entitled Star Wars fans (hereinafter, the “fandom”), suddenly gained sentience, stepped off a screen, and decided to pen a Star Wars-related screenplay, the result would closely mirror J.J. Abrams’ (Star Trek Beyond, Star Trek, Mission: Impossible III) fan service-filled, fan-pandering return to the Disney- owned and -operated franchise, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the “last” entry in the Skywalker Saga that began 42 years ago with Star Wars (“A…

Mel Valentin

Writer/editor for hire. Member: SFFCC, OFCS.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store