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      Lisa Johnson Mandell

      Lisa Johnson Mandell

      Tomatometer-approved critic

      Movies reviews only

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      Rating T-Meter Title | Year Review
      The Little Mermaid (2023) There is comfort to be found here, and pure childlike delight. We can set the burdens of the world aside for a few hours and immerse ourselves in a world of creativity, color, music and imagination. There are far worse ways to escape. -
      Read More | Posted May 26, 2023
      Fast X (2023) When you stage a car chase scene in the beginning that involves a flaming giant bowling ball bomb smashing through Rome, it's exhausting trying to sustain that type of velocity through the entire film. But Jason Momoa's fabulous villain makes it worth it. -
      Read More | Posted May 19, 2023
      Book Club: The Next Chapter (2023) Surely you weren’t expecting Academy Award worthy performances from a lighthearted comedy about a group of 65+ besties on a roadtrip to Italy? What you can expect is a great excuse for a girls’ night out and a craving for pasta and Prosecco. -
      Read More | Posted May 11, 2023
      Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) With just the right amount of comedy, drama, sentiment, action and a soundtrack full of well-placed rock classics, writer/director James Gunn has reached a cosmic balance. -
      Read More | Posted May 05, 2023
      Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. (2023) Although coming of age has changed inconceivably over the 50 years since the book was published, a film reminding us that this too shall pass, and that kindness is always the right choice, is needed now more than ever. This movie is a gift to all ages. -
      Read More | Posted Apr 26, 2023
      Renfield (2023) Sure, the plot could have been stronger and less Swiss cheesy, but most movie goers will be grateful that it’s just 93 minutes in length. Director Chris McKay seems to have a firm grasp on how much an audience can take without being overly engorged. -
      Read More | Posted Apr 13, 2023
      Air (2023) It’s safe to say Ben Affleck has once again proven himself to be one helluva director. And he did it without using flashy special effects, breathless action scenes, jump scares or dragons. Air is simply a good story well told. -
      Read More | Posted Apr 07, 2023
      Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) A Monty Python meets Game of Thrones mashup that draws you in and keeps you laughing, regardless of the fact that you have had no idea who all those D&D super fans in the audience next to you are dressed like. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 30, 2023
      A Good Person (2023) Director Zach Braff had the advantage of recruiting the transcendent Florence Pugh and all time great Morgan Freeman to tell his story. If they couldn't give his film weight, nothing could. Nothing did. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 24, 2023
      John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) It seems director Chad Stahelski has infused this film with balletic but brutal choreography, bone dry humor and savvy style. That, plus Keanu Reeves et al cast a surprisingly scintillating cinematic spell. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2023
      Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023) No one wants to see the venerable Dame Helen Mirren get body slammed. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 18, 2023
      Creed III (2023) Jordan is responsible for the film’s trials as well as its triumphs. While he unapologetically embraces myriad cinematic cliches, he also stages scintillating boxing matches, which is not easy when the audience knows full well who’s going to win. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 03, 2023
      Cocaine Bear (2023) It's far from the outrageous horror comedy viewers anticipated, but it's not unbearable.  -
      Read More | Posted Feb 26, 2023
      Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (2023) This is the film that's supposed to usher in the next phase in the Marvel Universe? It's a weak attempt to establish Kang the Conquerer (Jonathan Majors) as the next super villain of Thanos-sized proportions. Kang (and Majors) deserve a better launch. -
      Read More | Posted Feb 17, 2023
      Magic Mike's Last Dance (2023) It isn't the most profound plot ever conceived, and character development is at a frustrating minimum. But is that what we’re looking for in a Magic Mike movie? What we’re after is thrusting, gyrating masculine pulchritude, is it not? -
      Read More | Posted Feb 17, 2023
      80 for Brady (2023) The women are at their best, and if Brady seems a bit out of his league, that's okay. In real life, would you expect a superlative pro football player to be in his element surrounded by four lusty grannies? -
      Read More | Posted Feb 03, 2023
      Lonesome (2022) Lonesome is an experimental mash-up using the 20s as its canvass for the occasional dip into 40’s musicals and 60’s New Wave. It’s a clunky but charming “meet cute” movie that, at just an hour long, is worth a look for hopeful romantics. -
      Read More | Posted Jan 18, 2023
      M3GAN (2022) Readers of Kazuo Ishiguro's brilliant Klara and the Sun will wonder if director Gerard Johnstone used it for inspiration, then added amusing social commentary and big laughs. There's nothing wrong with that. -
      Read More | Posted Jan 08, 2023
      Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) Cameron is one of the few directors who can hold an audience for over three hours. The world he’s created is lovelier, livelier and more vivid every minute. The plot has enough twists, turns, themes and action to keep you captivated throughout. -
      Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2022
      Babylon (2022) Just in time for the holidays! A relentless barrage of defecation, urination, regurgitation, ejaculation, fornication, asphyxiation, masturbation, exploitation, humiliation and overstimulation. -
      Read More | Posted Dec 16, 2022
      Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) There are few franchises where the followup exceeds the original, but director Rian Johnson seems to be getting better with franchise age. The multilayered Glass Onion is more fabulous and even more fun than its predecessor. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2022
      The Fabelmans (2022) Without depending on flashy special effects, extreme violence or major shock value, The Fabelmans is already a classic, relying on superlative storytelling and master movie craftsmanship. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2022
      Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) The weight of the story is unfairly placed on the narrow shoulders of T'Challa's brainy little sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, who just doesn’t have the gravitas to sustain the movie for its unwieldy two-hours and 41 minutes. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 11, 2022
      Black Adam (2022) Characters and audiences are relentlessly pummeled by lightning bolts, fiery jolts and villainous dolts with such intense abandon that thumbs start subconsciously twitching for a fast forward button. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 24, 2022
      Ticket to Paradise (2022) Together Roberts and Clooney just manage to pull off a romcom coup—the wattage from the stars’ charm alone could melt Vladimir Putin’s icy heart. It’s more than enough to overcome a painfully predictable plot. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 21, 2022
      Amsterdam (2022) Amsterdam is a quirky, convoluted, comedic thriller with a game cast of A-listers, most of them giving intriguing performances that are refreshingly unlike anything we've seen from them before. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 07, 2022
      Don't Worry Darling (2022) It’s a riveting psychological thriller in lovely, lush and lascivious wrapping. Regardless of the noise surrounding it, Don't Worry Darling stands firmly on its own shapely legs. -
      Read More | Posted Sep 23, 2022
      Blonde (2022) This two hour, 46 minute long film is the cinematic equivalent of the 748 page novel upon which it is based: both contain a mercilessly prevaricated chain of violence, abuse and assault, reducing Marilyn to little more than a tragic victim. Why? -
      Read More | Posted Sep 18, 2022
      Confess, Fletch (2022) Confess, Fletch comes across as mildly amusing rather than uproariously funny. In fact, it comes across as mildly just about everything. And that’s not quite enough in this age of constant content barrage. -
      Read More | Posted Sep 15, 2022
      The Woman King (2022) A bold film that defies stereotypes and cliches, circumventing the obvious and giving us surprises and plot twists. Flawed human heroes without supernatural gifts, fighting evil and their own shortcomings to achieve a common goal—what a concept! -
      Read More | Posted Sep 12, 2022
      Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) The plot is simple, without being caked up with complicated characters and plot points you’ll never fully grasp unless you’ve read the trilogy or graphic novels. It's a a beautiful bedtime story for grownups. -
      Read More | Posted Aug 26, 2022
      Beast (2022) Not even the mighty Idris Elba can fight off the attack of a silly script and sloppy storytelling. -
      Read More | Posted Aug 22, 2022
      The Gray Man (2022) It's impossible not to be highly entertained by the super star cast clearly having the time of their lives, the explosive action scenes and the savvy directing skills of the Russo Brothers. -
      Read More | Posted Jul 23, 2022
      Nope (2022) If you're into strong performances and creepy images masterfully shot, this is your film. But if you're looking for suspense, jump scares, a coherent plot and motivation that involves more than an Oprah money shot, will you find it here? Nope. -
      Read More | Posted Jul 22, 2022
      Take the Night (2022) Take the Night is less a thriller and more a crime caper that delves deeper into both sides of the equation and family dynamics. No one’s motives are mysterious but it’s still a gripping enough story to keep your attention. -
      Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2022
      Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) You know how some superhero movies take themselves so seriously you long for a moment of comic relief? Well here I longed for a moment of dramatic relief. But Taika Waititi gets away with the frantic pacing, always delivering tons of good, gregarious fun. -
      Read More | Posted Jul 08, 2022
      Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (2022) It's alternately riveting, amusing and hard to watch. Never before have we seen such a compelling portrayal of a middle aged woman’s sexuality. -
      Read More | Posted Jul 02, 2022
      Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022) Who can help but giggle at the antics of Kevin, Stewart, Bob and Co.? Those three are the greatest comedic trio since the Three Stooges. And they’re squishier! -
      Read More | Posted Jul 01, 2022
      Elvis (2022) A kaleidoscopic, immersive experience in a story many of us have not heard before, making every one of its 159 minutes riveting. That’s no easy feat. -
      Read More | Posted Jun 23, 2022
      Lightyear (2022) It seems a somewhat half-hearted attempt better suited to streaming only on Disney+ than a big event theatrical release. What we have here is a perfectly serviceable, if not stupendous animated feature. From Pixar, we expect more. -
      Read More | Posted Jun 15, 2022
      Peace by Chocolate (2021) As expected, comedy comes from the fish-out-water situations and the language barrier—but it’s never disrespectful or stereotypical. -
      Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2022
      Swap Me, Baby (2022) Swap Me, Baby is a raunchy and goofy but heartfelt sci fi rom com with lots of fun and colorful energy throughout. -
      Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2022
      Jurassic World Dominion (2022) The plot is full of holes big enough for a brontosaurus to breezily breech. -
      Read More | Posted Jun 10, 2022
      Top Gun: Maverick (2022) A big, brash and brawny movie jam packed full of the excitement and charisma fans have been waiting for. -
      Read More | Posted May 27, 2022
      Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022) Of course fans of the series will see the plot twists coming a mile away. That's half the fun. We feel satisfied knowing that we're so familiar with this family we can foresee their every move, perhaps the way we wish we knew our own kin. -
      Read More | Posted May 19, 2022
      Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) The mad dash through the multiverse in the first act is wildly creative, but once the characters start prolonged visits to the alternate universes ad nauseam, they start to lose their intrigue. This could be one of Marvel's lightest and darkest films yet. -
      Read More | Posted May 06, 2022
      The Duke (2020) The music, the cinematography, the directing by Roger Michell and the consumate performances all harken back to kinder, more sentimental times when cinema focused on story, character and relationships, and got it all in under two hours. -
      Read More | Posted May 06, 2022
      The Bad Guys (2022) Rookie director Pierre Perifel has created a lively and colorful reality thats highly engaging and entertaining. With 15 books in the source series, its highly likely well be returning there in the not too distant future. -
      Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2022
      The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) It really doesnt matter whether or not you figure out the meta plot twists before the endits just a pleasure watching actors who look like theyre having the time of their lives on the big screen. That translates to big fun for audiences as well. -
      Read More | Posted Apr 20, 2022
      The Northman (2022) This is cinematic storytelling at its finest. Drawing from Norse and Icelandic myths, it's also unmistakably Shakespearean in theme. While it's magical, mystical and symbolic, it's not confusing. I admire and appreciate that. -
      Read More | Posted Apr 20, 2022
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