Matthew Lickona

Matthew Lickona
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Matthew Lickona has been a staff writer for the San Diego Reader since 1995, and a film critic for the paper since 2010.
Publications: San Diego Reader

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
1/5 58% Aladdin (2019) There are efforts made, whether through good faith or just market savvy, to update Princess Jasmine into a people's champion who might prefer ruling to romance. Enough to make you wish the Disney people had gone whole hog and just called it Jasmine. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
2/5 97% Booksmart (2019) Dever and Feldstein's friendship and chemistry provide the film with both its chief appeal and dramatic engine, and the winning pair make Booksmart a film that's very easy to like. But it's less easy to believe. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
2/5 91% The Biggest Little Farm (2019) A splendid commercial - as opposed to argument - for small-scale biodiversity as an effective operative principle for a family farm in Southern California. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 17, 2019
1/5 72% All Is True (2019) Ultimately, it's a bit on-the-nose, and the disconnect between Shakespeare's genius for character and his befuddled attempts at personal relationships makes for a man too bifurcated to believe, as if the fire that gutted the Globe also burned his brain. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 17, 2019
1/5 89% John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) It's rather like when Bond films went from Sean Connery to Roger Moore. Plenty of people will find this copacetic. A few will grouse about what's been lost: a touch of the real amid the merely fantastic. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 17, 2019
3/5 97% Hail Satan? (2019) The question mark in the title of Penny Lane's documentary on The Satanic Temple is integral to the story she's telling...a fine, thought-provoking effort. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 10, 2019
1/5 66% Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) For a while, the first live-action Pokemon movie's achievements are enough. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 10, 2019
3/5 50% Tolkien (2019) Tolkien casts a delicate spell: it's not difficult to imagine some viewers proving utterly impervious to its peculiar magic. But some others will be enchanted and even transported by its charms. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 10, 2019
3/5 67% The White Crow (2019) Not exactly a warts-and-all artist biopic. It's more an account of the way that the artistic spirit is a wart, a strange affliction that besets certain people even as it fascinates others. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2019
1/5 81% Long Shot (2019) It may not work as a movie, but as a love story, it's got great appeal. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2019
2/5 72% Stockholm (2019) Budreau states at the outset that the true story he's working from is absurd, and it's clear that he relishes that absurdity: yes, lives are being threatened throughout and powerful feelings are at play, but this is a strange and amiable comedy at heart. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2019
2/5 95% Avengers: Endgame (2019) The MCU will go on and on, but this chapter - and the American pragmatism vs. American ideals bromance that drove it - have well and truly come to their "Excelsior! Nuff said!" moment. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 26, 2019
2/5 45% Mary Magdalene (2019) It's a well-meaning, good-looking effort - but those elements don't necessarily make for good watching. One needs to be in the mood for this sort of thing. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2019
1/5 44% The Chaperone (2019) Between the speakeasies, the orphanages, the sexual energy, and the general air of corset-loosening, the movie should throb and thrum. It doesn't. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2019
2/5 72% Teen Spirit (2019) You go to the fair, you get your cotton candy, you know what you're in for: nearly unadulterated sweetness that melts into nothing almost as soon as you take it in. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2019
2/5 84% Ramen Shop (Ramen teh) (2019) A food movie that depends very heavily on personal taste. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2019
1/5 83% The Brink (2019) Aside from Bannon's own weird magnetism - it's fascinating to see the way he attracts some as strongly as he repulses others - there isn't much reason why this isn't a magazine article instead of a movie. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2019
1/5 57% Pet Sematary (2019) Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer spend waaaay too much time going for tension-building walks through creepy places and not nearly enough developing the stories that would have made this Stephen King adaption put the screws to the soul. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2019
2/5 66% Storm Boy (2019) It feels honest and alive, however modestly so. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2019
1/5 90% Shazam! (2019) Director David F. Sandberg remains a horror guy at heart (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation), and the ping-ponging between yuks and yikes leads to a pretty nasty case of aesthetic whiplash. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2019
1/5 57% The Highwaymen (2019) Director John Lee Hancock (The Founder) mounts a valiant effort to stretch a solid genre picture into an American epic with the tale of two ex-Texas Rangers who get pressed back into service...to stop the popular murder couple Bonnie & Clyde. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
0/5 31% Mapplethorpe (2019) How do you hew so close to biopic conventions -a dutiful recitation of this event happened, this fame arrived, that tragedy struck, etc - when you're dealing with an artist whose whole raison d'etre was finding beauty at the extreme edges of things? - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
1/5 94% Us (2019) The result is bloody but weirdly bloodless, a sort of thinky exercise in horror filmmaking. There's more juice in the laughs here than the scares. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
4/5 95% Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano) (2019) There are numerous echoes of The Godfather, notable among them the way market forces, exemplified by the drug trade, can work to destroy the old ways of doing things, and the old bonds that preserve both family and the civilization it supports. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
3/5 95% Transit (2019) Maybe the place is the point - the story notes that Marseilles is a port city, and "ports are places where stories are told." Stories of survival and escape, but more often, of frustration and heartbreak. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
1/5 78% Captain Marvel (2019) The film may be about women breaking their shackles, but the lead actress feels kept in check for much of the picture. Humor winds up being provided by Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury, heart by Lashana Lynch's Maria Rambeau, and pathos by...well, it ain't Larson - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 8, 2019
2/5 91% Furie (Hai phuong) (2019) Notable finally for making the most of its limited resources: trying mightily to squeeze as much juice from a moped chasing an outboard skiff along a rural river as a Bond movie might have gotten from a superbike zipping after a speedboat through Venice. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 1, 2019
2/5 80% Ruben Brandt, Collector (2019) Writer-director Milorad Krstic pads out what probably should have been a fascinating animated short - about an art therapist who is himself tormented by nightmares featuring characters from famous paintings - with drawn-out bits of ludicrous action. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 1, 2019
2/5 91% How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) DeBlois struggles mightily to connect the resolution of one storyline to the resolution of the other, and it proves to be an overwhelming task. Still, it's a painless watch, with plenty of visual oohs and emotional aahs, and will surely leave fans happy. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 22, 2019
0/5 69% Happy Death Day 2U (2019) Rothe mugs and emotes for all she's worth, which is something, but her effort only highlights the desultory character of everything around her. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
2/5 76% Never Look Away (2019) Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's ambitious three-hour pre- and post-WWII epic has the rare and curious distinction of opening with a villain-speech that's actually supposed to inform your experience of the film. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
1/5 91% 2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Animation (2019) Pixar's longtime domination of the animation world takes its toll, as generational rifts and/or personal neuroses are what gets treated here. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
1/5 85% The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Exhausted, and exhausting. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
1/5 89% Tito and the Birds (Tito e os Pássaros) (2018) Makes good use of its combination of oil-paint backgrounds and precise-pencil characters but rather spectacularly fails to stick the landing. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2019
0/5 38% Glass (2019) There are a few thoughtfully placed cameras and thrilling moments - Bruce Willis vs. a door, for one - but they're not nearly enough to make this self-conscious live-action comic book worthwhile. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2019
3/5 92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) Heart-thumping: the passion on display is of all sorts, a steady flame against the cold. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2019
1/5 89% Capernaum (Capharnaüm) (2018) A film that explicitly argues against bringing children into the world under difficult circumstances while relying for its narrative hook and dramatic effect on the heroism and resilience of a child brought into the world under difficult circumstances. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2019
1/5 71% Narcissister Organ Player (2018) Narratively, the mask stays on. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2019
1/5 40% The Upside (2019) As part of its story, The Upside strives to make the case that opera is worth loving; it might have done well to borrow from the pathos and passion that help make it so. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2019
1/5 65% Aquaman (2018) But oh, those action sequences: this is what the Tron sequel should have looked and sounded like. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
1/5 79% Mary Poppins Returns (2018) The real problem is the film's failure to do its own magic and give life to what's on screen. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
2/5 99% Free Solo (2018) Is it strange when the wholehearted pursuit of a singular and spectacular achievement inspires pity and fear more than awe? - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2018
4/5 100% They Shall Not Grow Old (2019) An achievement, an experience, and a remarkable tribute. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
2/5 93% The Favourite (2018) There are no heroes in The Favourite; there are only sad creatures driven by their various needs. There is, however, a morbid morality to the proceedings, one in which decadence is its own punishment. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
1/5 63% Mary Queen of Scots (2018) If it's not quite a success, at least it's an ambitious failure. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
2/5 96% Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable (2018) The whole thing plays like a well curated museum exhibit - a retrospective to counter and/or complete the one held shortly after his death in 1984. The material is worth seeing, but doesn't really demand a big screen. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018
2/5 84% Creed II (2018) Ryan Coogler, having gone on to bigger and bigger things, steps aside and lets relative newcomer Steven Caple, Jr. do the job of mixing the beats of Rocky III and Rocky IV into a smooth groove for the son of Apollo Creed (Michael B. Jordan). - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018
2/5 89% Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) Best of all, the directors don't shy away from the ending their story demands. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018
1/5 89% Studio 54 (2018) The movie tries hard to make the story of the club's rise and fall emblematic of an era, but in the end, it's about a couple of old friends from the neighborhood who got lucky, got greedy, and got caught. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 16, 2018
1/5 90% A Private War (2018) While it occasionally pulls away from Colvin to let the nightmarish inhumanity of war provide power and feeling, it all too often relies on juiced-up expressions of humanist heroism. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 16, 2018