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Joshua Starnes

Joshua Starnes has been writing about film and the entertainment industry since 2004 and served as the President of the Houston Film Critics Society from 2012 to 2019. In 2015, he became a co-owner/publisher of Red 5 Comics and, in 2018, wrote the series "Kulipari: Dreamwalker" for Netflix. In between, he continues his lifelong quest to find THE perfect tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich combination.

One of the side-effects of the recent supremacy of superhero films has been the ways they have been stretched and mutated to encompass other styles and genres, sometimes successfully (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and sometimes not (Thor: Love and Thunder). In the process they’ve tended to ignore the built in themes and subtext of …

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“I love money,” Ernest Burkhart says several times in Martin Scorsese‘s adaptation of David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon. “The only thing I love more is my wife.” Whether Ernest’s duplicity is for himself or for his audience, he is certainly lying to someone. In the world of Scorsese it is impossible to grasp …

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Kenneth Branagh‘s (Death on the Nile) adaptations of Agatha Christie’s famed Belgian detective get closer and closer to the real intent of the man (and his creator) the further they stray from the original lock step cause and effect of the original creations. Moody and paranoid, A Haunting in Venice pays superficial homage to a …

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Heartwarming and exciting but also overstuffed and tripping over its own feet, Blue Beetle is a frequently charming, frequently frustrating attempt to re-write (or at least re-aim) the classic superhero narrative and intermittently succeeding. When it does succeed it flies high, pulling in pieces from successful forebears like Spider-Man and Iron Man and spinning them …

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Confident and competent, Neill Blomkamp‘s adaptation of the popular racing game is a 100-minute commercial for Sony which still manages to have more under the hood than you would expect. Treading the well-covered ground of the sports film, the Gran Turismo movie isn’t interested in re-inventing either that genre or the video game adaptation; merely …

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Mission: Impossible idealizes Tom Cruise and his willingness to commit increasingly-dangerous stunts the way Mission: Impossible idealizes Ethan Hunt and his willingness to save the world. The series is a frequently-amazing vehicle for both, filled with spectacular set pieces and the perception that if those are delivered on the rest of the film can be …

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Joy Ride, Adele Lim‘s extended road trip through China, is an enticing meditation on the complexity of identity within the immigrant experience that is unfortunately saddled with banal modern comedic tropes that undercut rather than enhance the journey. The phrase ‘immigrant experience’ itself seems overused at this point, a short-hand attempt to quantify a reality …

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It’s easy to put charismatic actors in a romantic setting and let them quip at each other. It’s difficult to make anyone care for them or their plight or generate genuine charm. It’s easy to create gags that tug and pull at the edges of societal norms, aiming to shock through sheer outrageousness. It’s difficult to resist …

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It seems hard to believe that everything that could be coaxed out of a world-spanning story of giant alien robots battling for supremacy has been even across seven films, but here we are. The newest attempt to revive the Transformers franchise remixes and regurgitates a lot of the pieces from the previous films, attempting to …

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Alternately exhilarating and hysterical, The Legend of Vox Machina expands its ambitions in its second season, delving deeply into its sprawling cast’s backstory and dramatically upping the stakes at the cost of pace and having emotional beat land. The animated adaptation of the popular Dungeons & Dragons live play Critical Role spent its first season …

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Like its unliving namesake, M3GAN is a vault of truly terrifying ideas — about who is raising our children in the modern age and what our apathy of their experience could turn them into — wrapped up in so much plastic and synthesized entertainment the horror within remains hidden and impossible to see. While M3GAN …

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Roughly halfway through the 192-minute running time of Avatar: The Way of Water we watch young Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), the semi-messianic miracle child of Weaver’s previous character Dr. Grace Augustine, staring at a crab hole under the water, lost in the miracle of nature to the point all conception of time and space has faded away. Why …

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Simultaneously explorative and deeply reductive, Andrew Dominik’s adaptation of Blonde delves as deeply into Marilyn Monroe’s (Ana de Armas) battle between her public and private personae as anyone ever has, but the film only manages to find tired Freudian pop answers beneath the sediment. Joyce Carol Oates’ semi-biographical novel (Order Now) provides a moderate starting point, turning …

Read More about Blonde Review: Ana de Armas Is Marilyn Monroe

The first thing to be said about Zach Cregger’s Barbarian is that you can’t really talk about it; to say too much about it is not just to spoil its inherent surprises but to reduce its actual power. It’s a cinematic version of Fight Club, less of an actual narrative and more akin to a …

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Like the moral of a fable, filmmakers have been trying to capture the ephemeral fantasy of the fairy tale on screen for as long as motion pictures have been an art, and for just as long, they’ve turned good stories bad in the attempt. The stylized and heightened reality fairy tales naturally attract the visual …

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Pretty, lighthearted, charming, and as fleeting as its namesake, Bullet Train is also a pointless exercise in action filmmaking from 25 years ago but has little to offer today. Filled with nameless, unformed characters thrown back in and forth in time in a constant struggle to provide both context and surprise, Bullet Train‘s inability to …

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