Midwest Film Journal

Midwest Film Journal is not a Tomatometer-approved publication. Reviews from this publication only count toward the Tomatometer when written by the following Tomatometer-approved critic(s): Aly Caviness, Evan Dossey, Nick Rogers
Rating Title/Year Author
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Evan Dossey Another shambling 1990's I.P. gets its shot at relevance, but this unfunny and ultimately dull attempt makes you wonder how so many talented artists made something so lame. EDIT
Posted Feb 13, 2020
2.5/5 Les misérables (2019) Nick Rogers A David Ayer-ish cop movie crossed with the Dardennes brothers' social dramas sounds like a dynamic do-over of Victor Hugo's blueprint. While it's not that kind of Les Miz, the feeling is somewhat the same: You've seen this before, and better. EDIT
Posted Feb 11, 2020
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) Aly Caviness Birds of Prey is totally liberated from the garbage that came before it, aiming an eff-you glitter bomb directly at the patriarchy. EDIT
Posted Feb 7, 2020
Horse Girl (2020) Evan Dossey Solid performances and a good atmosphere can't save Horse Girl's descent into frustrating abstraction. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2020
2.5/5 The Rhythm Section (2020) Nick Rogers Blake Lively brings her snub-nosed energy and director Reed Morano brings her visual hallmarks of harried headspace. But whatever groove this initially intriguing revenge thriller finds collapses into a glum, generic dig-two-graves backbeat. EDIT
Posted Jan 31, 2020
Taylor Swift: Miss Americana (2020) Evan Dossey Whether Swift is practicing good praxis overall is up for debate, but at least she's not staying silent anymore. EDIT
Posted Jan 31, 2020
5/5 Parasite (2019) Nick Rogers We see what we want. We want what we see. Woe unto the collateral damage we leave. There may be no more original schemes, but the best movie of 2019 is more fascinated by original sins and the shapes they take in the here and now. EDIT
Posted Jan 30, 2020
4/5 Tremors (1990) Nick Rogers It's hard to not grin and give in to the buoyant, boisterous, bloody and, yes, brainy energy here -from cockamamie camera placement to practical effects and editorial rhythms that sometimes recall Sam Raimi at his rowdiest. EDIT
Posted Jan 30, 2020
Last Christmas (2019) Aly Caviness The combined charms of Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding do a lot to ground the film in a place that feels real and not too quirky. EDIT
Posted Jan 30, 2020
2/5 The Turning (2020) Nick Rogers You feel some creative condemnation trying to claw its way through the clumsy, commercially minded circumspection. But an awareness of tangible ghouls doesn't keep it from focusing on tired ghosts and gotchas. Might've made a great P.J. Harvey video. EDIT
Posted Jan 24, 2020
The Gentlemen (2020) Aly Caviness The Gentlemen wishes it were Ritchie's return to form, but after a decade of big-budget misfires, it can most generously be described as Tarantino-Lite. EDIT
Posted Jan 23, 2020
Jangsa-ri 9.15 (2019) Evan Dossey Decent action sequences can't bring much meaning to this tepid, miscast melodrama. EDIT
Posted Jan 21, 2020
Troop Zero (2019) Evan Dossey Hard to fault such a sweet and well-meaning approach to misfit kids finding their people, but "Troop Zero" ultimately feels a little too self-aware for its own good. EDIT
Posted Jan 21, 2020
Harriet (2019) Evan Dossey Disappointingly shallow approach to a complex and interesting life story. EDIT
Posted Jan 21, 2020
Disturbing the Peace (2020) Evan Dossey Guy Pearce gives it his all, but can't quite bring what this low-rent heist flick needs to become genuine schlock. EDIT
Posted Jan 15, 2020
Bad Boys for Life (2020) Evan Dossey Destined to be the un-watched disc in a Wal Mart value-pack. An overly safe sequel that lacks the inventiveness of its predecessors. EDIT
Posted Jan 15, 2020
2.5/5 The Wave (2019) Nick Rogers Gille Klabin's vividly rendered scenes of psychotropic freakouts prop up the been-there, ripped-that bong-hit philosophizing of Carl W. Lucas's screenplay. "The Wave" is never a bad trip per se -just one you wish would go a little more far out, man. EDIT
Posted Jan 14, 2020
2/5 Underwater (2020) Nick Rogers Kristen Stewart gives it her all, and there's an attempt to flesh out Norah's tragic past. But all you can glean through absurd sound is she had a BWOMP that went BWING before she WOOSHED into this job. "Underwater" looks and sounds like a car wash. EDIT
Posted Jan 10, 2020
4.5/5 Joker (2019) Sam Watermeier Sparse on special features save one that offers on-set glimpses into Joaquin Phoenix's unpredictable performance, which carries the intimate, intoxicating character study. EDIT
Posted Jan 9, 2020
4/5 Just Mercy (2019) Nick Rogers We've seen these tactics before, rarely with such skillful or soulful confidence. It's more interested in rigorous characterization than self-congratulatory social justice storytelling and Destin Daniel Cretton sidesteps every temptation to show off. EDIT
Posted Jan 8, 2020
Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui (2004) Evan Dossey The height of Bionicle Lore. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2020
Three Christs (2017) Evan Dossey A long-delayed heartwrencher that twists real-life events into something questionable. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2020
1.5/5 1917 (2019) Nick Rogers A soldier asks: "Do you know where we are?" Keeping with the "Grand Theft Auto: Écoust-Saint-Mein" aesthetic, you can guess which rock-song retort rolls through your mind. Full of empty razzle-dazzle, "1917" has as many dimensions as noticeable cuts. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2020
3.5/5 Mike Wallace Is Here (2019) Nick Rogers Wallace says he wouldn't want the same sort of beam turned on him that he trained on so many. Regardless of your thoughts about rules of the game he helped establish, you'll be glad this film reverses that golden rule to offer insights on an icon. EDIT
Posted Dec 28, 2019
2.5/5 Bombshell (2019) Sam Watermeier Bombshell tells an important, timely story about women in a clumsy way, likely because it's written and directed by men. EDIT
Posted Dec 23, 2019
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Evan Dossey "The Rise of Skywalker" brings the sequel trilogy's characters to a stirring emotional conclusion that befits the franchise as a whole ... while also offering a gratifying and delightfully bizarre denouement. EDIT
Posted Dec 18, 2019
Slaughterhouse Five (1972) Evan Dossey About as close an adaptation to Vonnegut's humanist triumph as possible. A moving work despite its flaws. EDIT
Posted Dec 17, 2019
A Hidden Life (2019) Evan Dossey A mesmerizing contemplation about faith, family, and life itself. Malick's best in decades. An unshakable experience. EDIT
Posted Dec 17, 2019
4/5 6 Underground (2019) Nick Rogers Stupid. Offensive. Generally indefensible. Glorious. Another of Michael Bay's distinctly prodigious entertainments in which he continues to outdo himself & it's as much his own meditation as "The Irishman" was for Scorsese or "Roma" was for Cuarón. EDIT
Posted Dec 15, 2019
2.5/5 The Two Popes (2019) Nick Rogers Flirts with the best films about faith for its first hour. Then screenwriter Anthony McCarten's anodyne, awards-chasing approach kicks in and reduces what could've felt like a wave crashing on Catholicism's beach to a tide that's neap and cheap. EDIT
Posted Dec 11, 2019
Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) Evan Dossey Beyond the character comedy, The Next Level has a disappointing reliance on big CGI setpieces that are cumbersome and beside the point. EDIT
Posted Dec 10, 2019
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019) Evan Dossey The weakest entry in the series feels like it's running on autopilot and introduces some problematic new elements of the mythos. EDIT
Posted Dec 7, 2019
Richard Jewell (2019) Evan Dossey Solidly entertaining thanks to good performances. EDIT
Posted Dec 7, 2019
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) Aly Caviness Is it a blatant cash grab from Warner Brothers or a creative return to an expansive world we all knew J.K. Rowling couldn't abandon entirely? Of course it's both. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Aly Caviness A middling expansion of the Star Wars universe with more style than heart. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) Aly Caviness Dead Men Tell No Tales does nothing new and is exactly what you expect -- and that is perfectly okay. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
The Mummy (2017) Aly Caviness Absolute garbage from beginning to end. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
The Beguiled (2017) Aly Caviness Beautiful to behold but ultimately leaves the viewer unsatisfied. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Wonder Woman (2017) Aly Caviness Wonder Woman brings joy and compassion to the DC Universe. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Disney's Descendants 2 (2017) Aly Caviness Disney fan fiction in excessively vibrant living color, but man, if it isn't delightful. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Tatterdemalion (2017) Aly Caviness A haunting examination of folklore and isolation. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
The Florida Project (2017) Aly Caviness Sean Baker's latest is an achievement in empathy. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Aly Caviness You'll leave profoundly annoyed rather than quietly impressed. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Thelma (2017) Aly Caviness An intense treatise on loneliness, repression, and control. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
The Shape of Water (2017) Aly Caviness A fairy tale as universal as it is weird. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Call Me by Your Name (2017) Aly Caviness A timeless and sumptuous tale of the rarity and fullness of love. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Thor (2011) Aly Caviness Thor changed everything. Thor gave us a universe. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Annihilation (2018) Aly Caviness Annihilation is a shining example of what scifi can be when the narrative hinges on one woman and the world-altering decision she must make: Do I save my world, or not? EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
A Wrinkle in Time (2018) Aly Caviness For every grown-up woman who needed this movie when they were 12, there is a girl who is still growing up and will see herself in Meg. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Tully (2018) Aly Caviness Tully brings to unvarnished life that being a mom isn't always magical. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019