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 52% 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 32% 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 95% 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 94% 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 90% 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 82% 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 68% 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 90% 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 86% The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Exhausted, and exhausting. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
1/5 93% 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 37% 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 41% 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 78% 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 88% 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
3/5 96% Border (Gräns) (2018) Director and co-writer Ali Abbasi's film is a murky, unsettling watch - but however unsettling, it remains gripping and affecting, its viscerality covering for its occasional elisions. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 16, 2018
1/5 37% Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Dash it all, even the devoted will likely struggle with the reams of expository talk and gobs of unearned feeling and scads of largely pointless beasties, plus some just plain lazy visuals (looking at you, magic cats). - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 16, 2018
3/5 94% Wildlife (2018) Mulligan trembles like a souffle on the verge of collapse, and her unfortunate son can do little but watch and listen and do his best to grow up much too fast. Truth be told, it's his story - but it's Mulligan's movie. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 9, 2018
1/5 64% Rampant (2018) Also muddled: the sense of place, the sense of stakes, and the sense of zombie power and peril. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2018
2/5 98% Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) Melissa McCarthy's bid for dramatic cred is just nasty enough to be enjoyable, thanks hugely to Richard E. Grant's gleeful turn as a dimwitted but high-spirited end-of-the-line party boy who befriends our heroine just as she touches bottom. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2018
2/5 78% Mid90s (2018) It's hard to tell if Hill is boldly refusing to adopt a point of view regarding dysfunction and its discontents, or if he just isn't quite sure what to make of it. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 27, 2018
2/5 78% Black '47 (2018) Director and co-writer Lance Daly tells a blunt-force story in blunt-force fashion, draining the color from both landscape and denizens, and spelling out details in dialogue where he thinks it might be helpful. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 27, 2018
4/5 70% The Happy Prince (2018) It's a passion project that never devolves into mere passion; a sober (if loving) look at an inebriated soul. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2018
2/5 75% Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) Careful framing, mysterious characters, slow builds, violent surprises, and a dynamite parade of very nearly on-the-nose songs from the mid- to late-1960s - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 12, 2018
1/5 92% The Old Man & the Gun (2018) If Clint Eastwood's barely reformed killer was Unforgiven, Robert Redford is unrepentant in this love letter to...Robert Redford. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 12, 2018
1/5 87% First Man (2018) Ryan Gosling's impassive visage must have the gravitational pull of a black hole, because Chazelle can't seem to keep his camera from being pulled loose from its moorings and drawn in thisclose for more than one or two scenes at a time. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 12, 2018
2/5 86% The Sisters Brothers (2018) For every revelation woven into the action, there's a bit of obvious philosophizing to remind you of the real point here. (It sure ain't the gunplay, though the way the six-guns spit sparks is fun to look at.) - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 5, 2018
0/5 29% Venom (2018) The Venom symbiote requires a perfect match to bond with its host; otherwise, the host is doomed. The Venom movie plays like a midnight horror that has invaded a superhero movie, and while there are some laffs to be had, it's far from a perfect match. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 5, 2018
1/5 89% A Star Is Born (2018) If 2011's The Artist was an homage, this is more of a burlesque, a hot mess of a movie that takes its dramatic cues from the camp excesses of the drag queens among whom our hammered hero finds the lucky Lady. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 5, 2018
2/5 99% Science Fair (2018) High marks for skill and clarity of presentation - it's a real crowd pleaser. But if you want to win Best Documentary in Show, you need to push a little harder - take a risk, and hope you've convinced the audience to pay attention. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 28, 2018
3/5 97% I Am Not a Witch (2018) Even if writer-director Rungano Nyoni's film were a lesser achievement - less unsettlingly complicated, less bitterly funny, less bluntly sad - it would still have the witch truck, one of the great cinematic images of this or any other year. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 28, 2018
3/5 95% Blaze (2018) Ethan Hawke continues scratching his artisty itch by directing and co-writing a biopic of Blaze Foley that feels as raggedy-shambling, jumbled, and sad (but secretly thoughtful and impressive) as the country music oddball himself. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 21, 2018
2/5 64% Lizzie (2018) When the time comes for the famous axe and whacks, Lizzie reveals itself as more Greek tragedy than murder mystery - a depiction of feminine ferocity and ingenuity in the face of injustice. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 21, 2018
3/5 71% The Apparition (L'apparition) (2018) The result is something rare: a genuinely engaging cinematic treatment of faith, one that offers revelations even as it casts a gimlet eye on Revelation. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 14, 2018
1/5 85% A Simple Favor (2018) Director Paul Feig doesn't seem able to decide whether he's making a slightly outré crime comedy, a blithely twisted relationship thriller, a brightly lit horror melodrama, or maybe an arch meta-take on all three. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 14, 2018