Cary Darling

Cary Darling
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
4/5 98% Us (2019) The chills in "Us" don't come from the gory and the gruesome but, as in Peele's "Get Out," from his playing with the notion that the scariest moments come from inside us. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2019
2.5/5 69% Triple Threat (2019) "Triple Threat" does not deliver on its kinetic casting promise. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2019
4.5/5 94% Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano) (2019) The corrosive effects of the drug trade have been brought to tragic life on screens both big and small so often that there doesn't seem much new could be said on the topic. That's where the film "Birds of Passage" vividly proves otherwise. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 14, 2019
3.5/5 86% The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019) While "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind," which Ejiofor wrote based on the bestselling memoir by Kamkwaba and Bryan Mealer, is thoroughly predictable and holds few stylistic surprises, it maintains interest thanks to the strength of the performances. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2019
4/5 90% Furie (Hai phuong) (2019) The next time Jennifer Garner wants to do an action movie like the flavorless "Peppermint," she could take a few lessons from Veronica Ngo, the explosively charismatic star of the head-cracking, bone-breaking Vietnamese martial-arts slam-o-rama "Furie." - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2019
2.5/5 40% Donnybrook (2019) Tim Sutton's artfully directed but self-important downer of a movie that's meant to be some sort of Grand Statement about life among dispossessed whites in rural, Midwestern America. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
4/5 No Score Yet Tejano (2018) An entertaining blast of Texas noir that nods toward the work of the Coen brothers, Quentin Tarantino and fellow Austinite Greg Kwedar's 2016 low-budget thriller "Transpecos" as well as "Breaking Bad." - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 11, 2019
4/5 89% Capernaum (Capharnaüm) (2018) "Capernaum" overcomes its built-in clichés to forcefully tell a story as urgent as the latest breaking-news bulletin. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 6, 2019
3.5/5 64% Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) It's "I Know What You Did Last Summer" with a better cast and an MFA degree. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2019
3.5/5 90% The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) It's often quite funny, the effects are satisfying if not out of this world, and its message that we should ally with those with whom we disagree to defeat the larger evils in this world is meant as much for adults as kids but it's never too heavy-handed. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 23, 2019
3/5 67% Swing Kids (2018) "Swing Kids" is such a dizzying, anachronistic mash-up of genres and cultures -- tap-dancing musical, violent war movie, social-justice drama, and slapstick comedy -- that it deserves respect, even if it falls short as it strains to cover all these bases. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
4/5 97% Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) The animation captures a comic book's sense of engagement and imagination but the visuals never overwhelm the story. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
5/5 96% Roma (2018) Cuarón has made a roster of impressive films...but "Roma," though perhaps not as immediately accessible, is his masterwork, a heartfelt evocation of a time and place that celebrates the unsung and the unheard. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 3, 2018
4/5 94% Burning (Beoning) (2018) This absorbing, if fitfully frustrating, portrait of love, obsession and jealousy is rarely less than fascinating. It's also a fine showcase for Steven Yeun ("The Walking Dead"), who proves he's much more than a Happy Meal for zombies. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 27, 2018
3/5 84% Creed II (2018) "Creed II" steps inside the ropes under the heavy weight of expectations, is not as nimble and has put on some pounds around the middle. Yet while the film doesn't get heads ringing like the first one, it's still able to go the distance. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2018
3.5/5 65% Jonathan (2018) This intriguing and skillfully wrought indie science-fiction tale has the feel of a low-key "Black Mirror" episode. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
4.5/5 94% Wildlife (2018) "Wildlife" is the kind of movie whose low-key hush could get lost in all the buzz over the big-name, holiday-season releases. Sometimes, though, it's the quiet ones who make the most noise. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
4/5 91% Widows (2018) Powered by an understated performance by Viola Davis, "Widows" shows what can be done within the boundaries of the expected while delivering something unexpected. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
3.5/5 89% Prospect (2018) The defiantly lo-fi "Prospect" is a smartly entertaining throwback that doesn't need a Marvel movie's worth of CGI to make its point. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2018
4/5 64% Rampant (2018) Tthe swashbuckling, bloodthirsty South Korean film "Rampant" is a rollicking genre mash-up that's what you might get if Hamlet were being chased by the undead for two hours. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 31, 2018
3.5/5 78% Mid90s (2018) Not a lot happens in "Mid90s" but as a slice of teenage life, it feels almost like a documentary from that time, full of well-observed - if foul-mouthed and sometimes dangerous - moments that ring true. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2018
4/5 87% First Man (2018) While it celebrates the struggle and technological marvel that was Apollo 11 without resorting to empty histrionics, it's also a well-wrought character study of a man whose tight-lipped demeanor belied the emotional turmoil roiling beneath the surface. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 9, 2018
4/5 97% The Hate U Give (2018) Ultimately, "The Hate U Give" is a life-affirming rebuttal to apathy, despair and surrender. It's also one of the year's most important films. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 4, 2018
2/5 No Score Yet Golden Job (2018) "Golden Job" is just a generic heist movie that wants to fuse the clever camaraderie of "Ocean's Eleven" with the turbo-charged swagger of "The Fast and the Furious" movies, yet the sum ends up being decidedly far less than its already predictable parts. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 27, 2018
3.5/5 86% The Sisters Brothers (2018) A frequently aimless but ultimately rewarding take on brotherhood and bonding amid the itchy trigger fingers and lust for quick riches of the California gold rush. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 26, 2018
4/5 No Score Yet The Great Battle (2018) What's not to like when there are weapons with such names as malevolent wood, siege tower and wolf teeth striker? When, after an attack is launched, one character matter-of-factly says, "quite intense," audiences will know exactly how he feels. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 19, 2018
3.5/5 86% A Boy. A Girl. A Dream. (2018) Qasim Basir's melancholic mood piece, "A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.," certainly has its pretensions...But to get caught up in its impressive stylishness is to miss the larger point of finding strength through human connection. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 12, 2018
2.5/5 12% Peppermint (2018) An efficiently made but predictable and very violent "Taken"/"Death Wish" revenge-apalooza that does little new with the formula. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 6, 2018
4/5 92% Searching (2018) "Searching" is like a refreshed web page, a new take on something woefully familiar. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 29, 2018
4/5 52% Papillon (2018) The result is a film with much of the same appeal as "The Lost City of Z." Let's hope it doesn't have the same fate. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 22, 2018
2/5 22% Mile 22 (2018) "Mile 22" looks like what happens when someone on a jittery Red Bull jag decides to make a movie at 2 a.m. after fast-forwarding through "The Bourne Identity." - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 16, 2018
3.5/5 79% BuyBust (2018) When "BuyBust" finally combusts, it's often simultaneously spectacular and disturbing. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 10, 2018
2.5/5 45% The Meg (2018) All those who like their summer movies as big as the Pacific and as dumb as a bucket of sand will appreciate "The Meg," a sometimes ridiculously entertaining, if forgettable, killer shark movie. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 8, 2018
3.5/5 97% Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018) Cruise once again shows that being 56-years-old is no barrier to being an action hero while the movie itself proves that being a summer blockbuster cash cow that doesn't veer wildly from the unexpected doesn't have to be uninspired. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 25, 2018
4.5/5 93% Sorry to Bother You (2018) A politically charged, love-it-or-hate-it, speculative-fiction fantasy that ruthlessly skewers and satirizes the modern age while also being darkly absurdist and brutally funny. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 11, 2018
4/5 40% One Night Only (2016) But what really makes One Night Only work is the chemistry between Kwok and Yang, because, despite the gangsters and guns and the prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold cliche, it's a surprisingly effective and moving love story. - Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 5, 2018
2.5/5 54% The First Purge (2018) Unfortunately, despite a strong start and some action-movie pleasures throughout, "The First Purge" is a little too heavy handed, routine and ridden with logic problems to make its points stick. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 5, 2018
3/5 48% Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) It wouldn't be a surprise to discover that the film wasn't based on a script but a schematic, a blueprint for everything Hollywood desires in popcorn-crunching entertainment during the dog days. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 21, 2018
3.5/5 88% American Animals (2018) Takes a mild curiosity from a long-ago news cycle and elevates it into something singularly fascinating. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 13, 2018
4/5 93% First Reformed (2018) The latest film from pugnacious director/writer Paul Schrader is as austere and revelatory as a church confessional...It's a bleak portrait of a man in the midst of a spiritual breakdown that is only slightly undone by its rather unsatisfying conclusion. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 7, 2018
4/5 89% Hereditary (2018) "Hereditary" is closer in tone to the likes of "The Babadook," "It Follows," "A Quiet Place" and "It Comes at Night," where the dread and fear come not from what you see but what you think you might see. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 6, 2018
3.5/5 77% Believer (2018) Lee Hae-Yeong's gripping retelling of Johnnie To's "Drug War"...stands on its own and is different enough from the original to make it less a clone and more of a genuflection. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 6, 2018
4/5 68% On Chesil Beach (2018) "On Chesil Beach" is PBS-tasteful in its approach, but its power rests in a restraint that makes what it builds to all the more moving. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 4, 2018
3/5 70% Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) It's tantalizing to wonder what the film that Miller and Lord would have been. Might it have offered a promising glimpse of what a less boilerplate "Star Wars" might look like? - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted May 16, 2018
3/5 85% Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Just when it looks as if all hope is smothered under the heavy weight of fan expectations [and] a reported $300 million budget, it comes roaring to life with a wake-'em-up battle on the fields of Wakanda and a quietly spectacular, sobering ending. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 24, 2018
4/5 94% Foxtrot (2018) A despairing work that's not quite as gripping as its predecessor, "Foxtrot" still manages to make a powerful statement about the unintended side effects of living in a constant state of war. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 4, 2018
3.5/5 95% A Quiet Place (2018) "A Quiet Place" is the one film where, if you are surrounded by popcorn-crunching, cellophane rattling and cell-phone-chatting neighbors, you will wish these monsters were real. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 3, 2018
3.5/5 90% Isle of Dogs (2018) Wes Anderson "Isle of Dogs" is such a feast of illustrated imagination and subtle wit in its depiction of an exiled canine kingdom that the idea of a life lived under the heavy paw of our pooch overlords doesn't seem like such a bad one. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 27, 2018
3.5/5 67% The Cured (2018) At its best, it has the provocative cunning of a "Black Mirror" episode. Unfortunately, "The Cured" becomes less cerebral and more predictably action-oriented in its third act . - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 21, 2018
1.5/5 44% Pacific Rim Uprising (2018) "Pacific Rim Uprising" is a lot like the city-crunching monsters it stars: big, loud and as dull-witted as Homer Simpson roused from a medically induced coma. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 21, 2018