Author: Phil Brown

Phil Brown is a film critic, comedy writer, and filmmaker who can be found haunting theaters and video stores throughout Toronto.

The Shape of Water Review: Making A Monster Movie Romance

Guillermo Del Toro used to save his arty genre movies for his subtitled productions and make pure genre nonsense in Hollywood. That split is over. The Mexican maestro’s latest American production is one of his most complex and moving outings to date. Of course, it does have a monster in it—that’s just how Del Toro rolls. It’s a magnificent monster as well, in many ways his take on the classic Creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s also spliced with the fairy tale romanticism of Amelie, cold war paranoia, empathetic identity politics, and some of the most beautiful filmmaking to hit ... Read more

Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 (Switch) Review: The Block Justice League

They say Lego games are all the same—and they’re right. TT Games’ juggernaut of a pop culture-hopping franchise found a formula at some point in the PS2 era and essentially haven’t changed it since. That makes the release of every Lego game slightly less exciting than the one before. However, Lego Marvel Super Heroes just might have been the peak of the genre back in 2013. So when the sequel rolled around, I couldn’t help but approach it with curiosity and hope. What I got back was indeed plenty of the Lego and Marvel fun that I craved as well ... Read more

Five Of The Finest War Films: Five Movies, Five Wars, Five Perspectives

War. What is it good for? According to the song, absolutely nothing. However, it has been responsible for decades worth of riveting cinema. The War Film is a genre founded on military propaganda that has grown into something far more complex. The greatest war movies offer their filmmakers a chance to flex their directorial muscles in ways that show off a skill with spectacle and visceral cinematic artistry while also offering resonant commentary on the human condition through our most devastating of actions and tragedies. It’s a rich genre filled with brilliant artistry and harsh truths, one that sadly continues ... Read more

The Disaster Artist (2017) Review: Making A Great Movie Out Of The Worst Movie

Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is possibly the most watched and discussed independent American film of the 2000s. In our irony-obsessed age, that doesn’t mean it’s good though. Far from it. The magnum opus by the mysterious Wiseau is arguably the worst movie ever made and one that achieved cult status from those who gleefully giggle away at it’s ineptitude. Wiseau has emerged as an odd pop culture icon out of the wreckage of The Room and it’s behind the scenes tales that grew into Internet folklore. It was almost inevitable someone would make a movie about him. Thankfully, that movie ... Read more

Coco (2017) Review: A Magical Odyssey of Death and Family

Coco is a Pixar movie. That means it has a formula. There’s a uniquely colourful world featuring an outcast who enters that world on an adventure in order to learn the value of family and believing in himself. We’ve been there before. Pixar has been there before. I guess they call it formula. The trick is how well the animation studio uses that formula in a new world, and the world of Coco is so gloriously imaginative and colourful and funny and creepy and weird that it’s easy to get lost in. It’s one of the best movies they’ve ever ... Read more

L.A. Noire Review (Switch)

L.A. Noire may not have sold in big numbers when it was released in 2011, but it made a mark. Using what was at the time fairly ground-breaking motion capture technology for facial animations, the game was a milestone for allowing actors to become a vital part of the storytelling process in gaming. Sure the faces seemed creepily lifelike when slapped on the dated character models, but hey! It was something that we’d never seen before, which is a rare treat in gaming. The game maintained a cult following after its initial, somewhat lacklustre release. Enough so that Rockstar decided ... Read more

Justice League (2017) Review: An Epic Superfriend Mess

After months of rumours and reshoots and directorial replacements and CGI-shaved moustaches, Justice League is finally here. Given that comic book nerds have craved this movie for generations, it’s amazing how little fanfare surrounds the release. It’s clear everyone involved isn’t pleased with how this turned out, often even deriding the state of Warner Brothers’ hastily commissioned DC cinematic universe during promotional interviews. So it comes as no surprise to see that the movie is a mess and a disappointment. There’s a chance that Zack Snyder once had a plan for a decent Justice League movie to follow up Man ... Read more

Murder On The Orient Express (2017) Review: An Old Timey Mediocre Murder Mystery

On a certain level, you can’t help but wonder how yet another production of Murder On The Orient Express even exists in 2017. It’s not as if audiences have been begging for more Agatha Christie content in recent years or that there’s suddenly been a massive revival in drawing room mysteries to explain why a studio would want to make a blockbuster version of Christie potboiler. It likely exists as a big expensive Kenneth Branagh ego trip, surrounded by a bunch of famous friends as cover. This thing shouldn’t have made it through the studio system at all, especially as ... Read more

Disney Buying Fox Might Not Be A Bad Thing

Yesterday the movie news cycle was hit by a juggernaut of a reveal. Apparently, behind closed doors, Disney has been negotiating to buy 21st Century Fox. The motivations why are obvious. In recent years the House of Mouse picked up those itty bitty Star Wars and Marvel franchises and the last remaining fragments of both movie universes are still lingering over at Fox (oh and they also added Avatar to Disney World and guess which studio owns that). Obviously, Fox isn’t too keen to give up their big fish properties, so the logical solution for a massive multibillion-dollar organization like ... Read more

Thor Ragnarok Review – Thor Gets Good

Despite the glorious success of the MCU over the last nine years, there has always been one franchise that’s been a bit of a slog. Sure, shove Thor into an Avengers ensemble and the guy will rattle off some good one-liners and throw down in a few fight scenes, but when it comes to his solo outings, Thor has consistently been a bit of a let-down. There are a few reasons why. First of all, there’s the Superman problem that the god (or alien in this continuity, I guess) is just way too powerful to ever face much of a ... Read more

Jigsaw Review – Some More Saw Silliness

14 years ago a plucky Australian director named James Wan (Insidious, The Conjuring, and the majesty that was Furious 7) created the graphic dismemberment mystery Saw franchise and seven years ago it mercifully ended with Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. However, if we learned nothing from Freddy and Jason and Chucky and their ilk, it’s that you can never keep a good horror icon down. So now, in 2017 with no new horror franchise around to claim the coveted Halloween weekend release slot, Jigsaw has returned. There are no distracting numbers to dissuade viewers from entering a continuity-flaunting series at ... Read more

Time to Cut the Chains? Defending The Saw Franchise

After a seven-year gap, a new Saw movie is hitting screens this weekend for Halloween. But it’s not screening for critics in Canada. Fair enough. That was true of the last four chapters as well. This series wasn’t exactly a critical darling. In fact, it was typically panned and held up as an example of everything wrong with horror during the sensationalistic-titled “torture porn” era. Here’s the thing though, I’m actually disappointed that I won’t get to review Jigsaw. It’s not in some cynical frustration that I won’t get to vent out a vicious review either. The dark and dirty ... Read more