*½/**** starring Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Tom Hardy written and directed by Christopher Nolan
by Walter Chaw The bits of Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk that are good are so good. The bits of it that are bad are just awful. I'm a Nolan fan. The only films of his I don't like are his remake of Insomnia and his much-lauded Inception, which is so emptily pretentious that it creates a vortex in the middle of the room and sucks the air right out of it. Though a lot of people accused Interstellar of doing that, there's a real heart in there. It's a bad science-fiction movie, but it's a great movie about fathers and daughters. (Not unlike Contact.) In other words, I have defended Nolan against charges of his being all of empty spectacle. I think his brand of operatic proselytizing works exactly right for the Batman character, who does the same and has the same sense of self-worth and wounded entitlement. I think The Prestige is a nasty, ugly, fantastic piece of genre fiction. Dunkirk is like a cornball version of Memento; that is, a Memento that is neither a noir nor a down film but just as much of an endurance test. Also, it's puffed-up full of itself, and it's about one of the most well-told tales of British pluck in WWII. It's going to win many awards because the people who give awards generally reward movies like this. It's like an adaptation of a Silver Age Amazing War Tales comic book.
*½/**** starring Grant Davis, Davi Santos, Ben Baur, Ajiona Alexus screenplay by Carlos Pedraza, based on the novel by Jay Bell directed by David Berry
by Alice Stoehr Musicals bloom from effusive emotion. When Catherine Deneuve strolled down the streets of Cherbourg, when Judy Garland hopped on a St. Louis trolley, their yearnings were too intense to merely be spoken. They had to be sung. In Something Like Summer, newcomer Grant Davis stars as Ben Bentley, a Texan teen and aspiring singer who's heartsick (like Deneuve and Garland) over a boy. But his sweetheart Tim, played by Davi Santos, is a "good-looking jock," as Ben puts it--closeted, Catholic, and deeply ashamed. After a few sub rosa liaisons, the two bitterly part ways. The film cuts to a dim, empty theatre, where Ben sublimates his sorrows into a cover of the break-up song "Barely Breathing": "I know what you're doing," he warbles. "I see it all too clear." While Deneuve had Jacques Demy and Garland had Vincente Minnelli, Davis has first-time director David Berry, who stages the handful of musical numbers with minimal panache. No dancing, some haphazard camera movement, the actor emoting on a stage. Later, handheld close-ups will peer at Davis during his halting rendition of "La Vie en rose." (He sings it in a Parisian café, the Eiffel Tower shining through a nearby window.) The soundtrack includes a couple of new compositions alongside songs originally by Regina Spektor and Ne-Yo, many of them intercut with bland montage, none of their lyrics especially salient to the story. Cohesion and spectacle both receive low priority versus the endless reams of plot.
**½/**** starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller written by Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves directed by Matt Reeves
by Walter Chaw There are two problems that plague War for the Planet of the Apes. The first is that this far along into a franchise, it becomes a real burden to deal with the lore of eight (is it eight?) previous instalments; the second is that Rise... and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, this sequel's two immediate predecessors, are so subtle and intelligent that there's a real danger now of being too "on the nose" in trying to keep up with them. That co-writer/director Matt Reeves is able to wrangle both tigers to the extent that he does speaks to his skill. That he's not able to entirely avoid a mauling speaks to the near-impossibility of the task. What was before an elegant parable of race and tribalism, dehumanization and Turing empathy tests, is now well and truly a blockbuster franchise product. It's good, don't get me wrong, but it's obvious, transitioning from a very fine, elegiac western like a late Ford or an any-time Anthony Mann into, by the end, first a broad and winking take on Apocalypse Now, then a carefully-narrated Moses allegory. Consider a moment where the ersatz Kurtz, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), speaks to our chimp hero Caesar (a motion-captured Andy Serkis) about the cost of vengeance and the sacrifices made during war that allow him to paint himself as Abraham even as he transitions into Pharaoh. Everyone's fantastic in the scene; the problem is that its expository payload is mainly meant to set up the Charlton Heston film that started it all. Too, it confuses the characters of its parables in such a way as to suggest, uncomfortably, a connection between Jews and their persecutors, and a concentration camp/Egyptian slave narrative involving the persecution of apes for cheap labour only adds to the confusion. Oh, also, they're building a wall that Caesar calls "madness" that will solve nothing.
**½/**** starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr. screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Eric Sommers directed by Jon Watts
by Walter Chaw A painfully adequate entry in the ever-expanding MCU, Spider-Man: Homecoming has the benefit of a brilliant young lead in Tom Holland and a fantastically-layered villain turn by Michael Keaton, but it bears the burden of all the films that came before it and all those yet to come. There's a lot of checking-off of boxes, in other words, with Homecoming reminding most of Ant-Man in that there seems to be a good standalone movie in here somewhere that keeps getting diverted into looking backwards and forwards. There was an episode of "St. Elsewhere" where a patient believed himself to be Mary Richards of the "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". Midway through, he spots Betty White, who had a recurring role on "St. Elsewhere", and calls out "Sue Ann!," the name of her character on "Mary Tyler Moore". Both programs were produced by MTM, by the way, the company founded by Moore and ex-husband Grant Tinker. To enjoy that episode of the show completely would require knowledge of the "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and its production company. It's a living example of the concept of post-modernism: a product based on nothing but itself and reliant entirely on the insular knowledge of a small group of fetishists. Such is the fire in which fandom is born, and Spider-Man: Homecoming is the natural product of that: an origin story that doesn't provide an origin because the previous incarnations of this story have provided it already; and film number 19 or 20 or something in a series that includes television shows and comic-book runs that, at this point, would require someone with absolutely nothing else to do to keep track of it. That's another fire in which fandom is born.
**½/**** Image A- Sound A- Extras B- starring Dax Shepard, Michael Peña, Rosa Salazar, Vincent D'Onofrio written and directed by Dax Shepard
by Bill Chambers I can't say I was surprised to see another movie based on a television series flop when CHIPS failed to earn back its meagre $25 million budget last spring. 21 Jump Street is the only recent one that's stuck, and that had star power behind it, as well as a stubborn presence in pop culture thanks to Johnny Depp. Plus--and this is important--it was good. CHIPS is driven by career supporting actors, and, like Baywatch after it, perhaps, is based on a show that people remember like the candy of their childhood: wistfully, but with reflex revulsion. And unlike when, say, The Flintstones came out (1994, the heyday of the TV-to-film adaptation), there's no rerun culture cultivating "new" fans of "CHiPS". If the title still produces a look of recognition in younger viewers, it's probably as a synecdoche for cop shows the way that "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza" are synonymous with westerns. The specifics--was there a guy named Porch or Punch or something?--have long since evaporated from the collective conscious. Such is the fate of most pre-prestige television in the age of cord-cutting and so-called "YouTube stars," but studios today lack the courage to be originators, preferring even the elusive clothing of a brand's ghost to sending a movie out into the world naked.
**½/**** starring Ansel Engort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jamie Foxx written and directed by Edgar Wright
by Walter Chaw Edgar Wright is a good filmmaker and a better fan. The things he likes, he likes better than other people. It makes him the perfect choice for a zombie movie, a buddy movie, an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-type alien-invasion movie, even a videogame movie. What Edgar Wright doesn't appear to be is the type of Sidney Lumet/Walter Hill, gritty 1970s action-film auteur he'd probably like to be. With his new film, he's going for Report to the Commissioner but coming up with The Super Cops--and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, except that straining for one impacts the effortlessness and unfiltered joy of the other. Baby Driver lands somewhere in the area of Peckinpah's The Getaway with its nasty rogue's gallery and Hill's The Driver with its enigmatic hero and his way with cars before sliding off the rails at the end, which feels like, of all things, the climax of Christine. Yet for a few effortless minutes at the beginning, it's something all its own, and it's delirious. It's the feeling you get when you first see Shaun of the Dead: like watching a favourite film for the first time again. I like that Wright loves all of these guys and their movies, but I wish he'd pick a lane. I admire his ambition and taste a great deal. But his far-ranging interests have made a disjointed mix-tape of this picture. It's the kind you make to impress instead of from the heart. For what it's worth, and it's not worth a lot, I just selfishly sort of wish he'd do more Cornetto films. How many flavours are there, anyway? At least seven, right? Let's get on that.
**½/**** Image A- Sound A Extras C+ starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick directed by Daniel Espinosa
by Bryant Frazer If you're going to steal, they say, steal from the best. It almost works out for Life, which borrows the fundamentals of its premise from Alien--hostile, shape-changing lifeform let loose in the confines of a spacecraft grows larger and more powerful as it eats its way through the crew--and rides that pony for a good forty-five nerve-jangling minutes before running out of oxygen. Alien's setting was an interstellar mining vessel that doubled as a haunted mansion, with long hallways, high vaulted ceilings, and other shadowy spaces where the boogeyman could wait for his prey. Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick lose some of those gothic atmospherics by setting their story on board the International Space Station, since it imparts a more sterile, sci-fi feel. Moreover, in what's arguably a more brazen case of cinematic larceny, director Daniel Espinosa, best-known for the 2012 thriller Safe House, swipes his anti-gravity stylistics from Alfonso Cuarón, opening the film with a single, very long, VFX-heavy take that sends the camera around in gentle swoops from character to floating character as the space station itself tumbles slowly around its axis.
****/**** starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning written for the screen and directed by Sofia Coppola
by Walter Chaw Sofia Coppola tells Romanticist versions of one transitional moment in her life. She turns it in her hand to see where the light catches it. Her films are examinations of the liminal field between girlhood and womanhood, littered with casualties and trenches, the one left behind and the other ahead, maybe eternally out of reach. Her moment is immortalized one way in father Francis Ford Coppola's decision to cast her as the main love interest in The Godfather Part III, a late replacement for Winona Ryder. Sofia's failure, and her father's betrayal of her by failing to protect her from it, is traumatic, though perhaps not much more than any adolescence--just public, cast into the collective, as it were, for the wolves to worry. It is one of a select company of misfires that is almost universally known. Sofia immortalizes the devastation of her experience in movies that speak, lyrically, to the tragedy of coming-of-age for a young woman. Hers is as coherent and important a body of work as any contemporary filmmaker's, made more so, perhaps, by her status as the only woman director in the United States permitted to explore an elliptical, unpopular theme across several projects.
***/**** Image A Sound B- Extras A starring Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Fisher Stevens, Lorraine Bracco written by Rafael Moreu directed by Iain Softley
by Sydney Wegner When a baby is born, a universe of possibilities opens wide in front of them. They don't yet know how to move or talk, but they hold within them the capacity for good or evil and everything in between. No matter what, parents look at their children in those first moments of life and think, Here in my hands I hold a doctor, a scientist, a legendary artist, a Nobel prize winner, an Olympic gold medallist. Despite my own failures and shortcomings, I have given birth to a life that may manage to overcome all the shit I will put them through to become someone infinitely greater than myself. Maybe it will influence the lives of millions to make the world a better place. Though parents have a great effect on how they turn out, ultimately they are their own unpredictable and uncontrollable person. We know they'll change something, that they will affect the people they come to know, that this one small thread they represent will alter the vast human tapestry in some way. Of course, we always hope it will be for the best.
**/**** screenplay by Kiel Murray and Bob Peterson and Mike Rich directed by Brian Fee
by Walter Chaw I don't understand very much about the Cars universe. I don't understand its rules. Do the sentient cars feel pain? What part of them needs to "die" in order for them to die? The implication is that the voice actor needs to die, but even then the Paul Newman-voiced "Doc" is resurrected (along with Tom Magliozzi's "Rusty") in Cars 3 through the miracle of old voice outtakes and flashback sequences. It raises questions about sentience in a Blade Runner sort of way. It invites speculation that this is all a post-apocalyptic nightmare in which our "smart" cars have either outlasted, or outwitted, their primate creators. I wonder, too, about how they reproduce, as these films have always been clear that there are "children" in this universe. Or are they like child vampires: wizened monsters trapped in infant chassis? When I look at a sentient ambulance in this one's central "Flesh Fair" demolition-derby sequence and how its patient bay is built for a human-sized customer and not a car, well...it raises questions. And let's talk about the idea of a demolition derby in a film populated entirely by thinking, feeling cars. What would the human equivalent to this be? Thunderdome? It's worth a conversation, though it's not the conversation Cars 3 wants to have.
***½/**** Image A Sound A Extras B+ starring Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane written by Derek Kolstad directed by Chad Stahelski
by Bryant FrazerJohn Wick: Chapter 2 opens, somewhat incongruously, with shots from a Buster Keaton action sequence projected on the side of a midtown Manhattan office building. Make no mistake: That's not homage--it's a declaration of principles. Hell, it's a boast. A master of stunts, sight gags, and visual effects, Keaton was perhaps the most sophisticated silent filmmaker when it came to truly understanding and exploiting cinematic space--the magical Méliès, maybe, to Chaplin's more grounded Lumière. For much of film history, his influence was felt most vividly in movie musicals, where the athleticism of Gene Kelly, especially, seemed to call back to Keaton's knockabout screen presence. In the 1970s, the best musical action on screen was happening in Hong Kong, as Bruce Lee's lethal martial arts style laid the groundwork for Jackie Chan's more broadly comic (though no less precisely conceived and executed) fighting style. Chan was no fan of guns, but John Woo developed a balletic, two-fisted style of gunplay while imagining romcom mainstay Chow Yun-Fat as an action hero in the Clint Eastwood mold. That brings us more or less to John Wick, as director Chad Stahelski and the army of drivers, stunt coordinators, military veterans, tactical firearms consultants, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructors who helped turn Keanu Reeves into a precision-tuned killing machine assert their legitimacy as heirs to a tradition that began in the days of hand-cranked cameras and nitrate stock.
ZERO STARS/**** starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz screenplay by Lucia Aniello & Paul W. Downs directed by Lucia Aniello
by Walter Chaw Going by the trailers, I thought Lucia Aniello's Rough Night was going to be a distaff Very Bad Things--which in the grand calculus of things would've been a very good thing. Peter Berg's masterpiece of bad behaviour and karmic vengeance is uncompromising, hilarious, vicious, and at least five or six years ahead of its time. (1998 was not kind to it.) The problem with this genre is essentially Judd Apatow, who, though fitfully funny, infects his pictures and their imitators--of which this is one--with a thick strain of conservative morality. His movies climax in marriage and monogamy and the very restoration of society. Very Bad Things ends with paralysis, death, and half-life; Rough Night ends by excusing everything, making sure everyone is friends and cool and shit, and explaining away why it is that the truly noxious character at the centre of it all is the way she is. Spoiler: it's because her mother is dying of Alzheimer's and she's trying to give her a rosy picture of her...you know what, never mind. Above and beyond any ugliness embedded in the film's premise and execution, the exploitation of this disease for some sort of moral reclamation is the ugliest. It's completely unnecessary. It's noxious.
Hello, we recently turned twenty. That means we've been around as long as "Gunsmoke" was. That means we're old enough to play Aunt May in the next Spider-Man reboot. That means if you started watching a Hobbit movie when we started it would just now be wrapping up. Of course, Hobbit movies didn't exist then; them's were halcyon days.
***/**** Image A Sound A Extras D+ starring Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth screenplay by Justin Haythe directed by Gore Verbinski
by Walter Chaw Gore Verbinski's A Cure for Wellness is lurid unto beautiful, exquisite pulp, just barmy enough to attract a cult and just smart enough to deserve it. The central conceit is that humans are only really good as biological filters for pollutants; in place of the batteries of The Matrix, the film sees people as distilleries for some sort of immortality potion. The process kills them. I learned when I was young that rabies is a kind of fear of water: its sufferers die of thirst even surrounded by water. The old, rich, white/white-collar victims of A Cure for Wellness entomb themselves in an alpine sanatorium invested in hydrotherapy in hopes of feeling, you know, better. Their sickness is of the soul, alas. The irony of the water cure offered by their ostensible saviours is that the patients become desiccated, mortally. There seems to be a message in there about how the illness of soulless acquisition is self-inflicted, and the amount expended in solution only exacerbates it. Money is bad. The making of it is incestuous, perverse, and insatiable. It's a strange thing to say in a movie that cost a lot of money, but the point is well taken. Especially now.
*/**** starring Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe screenplay by David Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman directed by Alex Kurtzman
by Walter Chaw It took me a while but it finally clicked about an hour into Alex Kurtzman's hilarible The Mummy that the whole thing wasn't a really bad movie, but a really bad videogame in bad-movie form. It has the same alternating cadence of leaden exposition drop, interminable and hideously- animated/performed cut-scene, and standard FPS-strictured gameplay culminating in a boss fight. Envisioned as the launch for Universal's "Dark Universe" franchise (in which the pantheon of classic Universal Monsters are given gritty action reboots, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-style), it finally functions as a first-generation "Resident Evil" port in which the dialogue, for what it's worth, was written in Japanese, translated into English, and performed by 64 pixels stacked on top of each other. Awkward doesn't begin to describe the desperation with which all involved try to seductively reveal/hide their Dark Universe™ Easter eggs while hobbling from one big, button-geeking, CGI-hobbled moment to the next. Look, behind those dust zombies: it's Dr. Frankenstein's lab!
**/**** Image B+ Sound B Extras B starring John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist screenplay by Parnell Hall directed by Douglas Cheek
by Bryant Frazer Fondly remembered in cult circles as a surprisingly well-acted low-budget horror diversion, this Reagan-era creature feature boasts a roster of game performances, a plethora of vintage locations from the days when New York City was scary enough by itself, and, of course, that title--one of the most vivid and ludicrous acronyms in film history. A CHUD, as any red-blooded FANGORIA subscriber could have told you many months before the movie itself made its way to their hometown, is a cannibalistic humanoid underground dweller. OK, it's not the most elegant acronym. For one thing, if the underground dwellers are cannibalistic, does that mean they eat humans, or just other humanoids? And if they do eat humans, doesn't the fact that they are merely humanoid mean they're not technically cannibals after all? But forget all that. Cannibalistic. Humanoid. Underground. Dwellers. What else do you need to know?
***/**** 2011 Diamond Edition Blu-ray - Image A- Sound B+ Extras A- 2017 Anniversary Edition Blu-ray - Image A- Sound B+ Extras A- story direction Perce Pearce and story adaptation Larry Morey, from the story by Felix Salten supervising director David D. Hand
by Bryant Frazer Bambi is just 70 minutes long, but it's one of the more versatile features in the Disney canon. It's a cute circle-of-life story, sure, populated by talking rabbits, nominally sweet-smelling skunks, and wise old owls (not to mention the adorable chipmunks that the owl, for some reason, hasn't preyed upon). But look what else is going on in this slice-of-wildlife film: an attempt at an animated nature documentary; a tract in opposition to sport hunting; and the impetus for generations of children to weep in terror at the prospect of losing their mothers.
**½/**** starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston screenplay by Allan Heinberg directed by Patty Jenkins
by Walter Chaw Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman gets it. I knew it the instant Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), stationed in a trench on the Western Front some time in the last days of the Great War, decides not to let people she could be saving die, and climbs into the poignantly-named "No Man's Land." "No Man's Land," right? But maybe a woman's. The fight choreography isn't very good here, but the film is less about that than it is about why we fight. It asks that question a lot. At the moment of crisis, once Wonder Woman realizes who she is and defines herself as a hero, she declares that she fights for love. It's more courageous to say something like that, baldly and unashamedly, in this, our age of sophisticated, sardonic, superior detachment. That's why I cried when she climbs into battle in an unwinnable conflagration, because, you know, this is the DC movies harking back to the Christopher Reeve Superman to present us with a nostalgic view of superheroes, from when they cared a lot about us. When they fought for love and not Byronic self-actualization or to avenge some petty slight. When our heroes believed in us, more than we believe in ourselves. When they were, in fact, the best version of who we wanted to be.
½*/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras D starring Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell screenplay by Van Robichaux & Evan Susser directed by Richie Keen
by Bill Chambers Dick joke, dick joke, vamp, vamp, dick joke, vamp, soapbox, gag reel. That's the stalwart formula of modern comedies, because why wouldn't it be? People love dicks--pics, jokes, presidents--and the rude jazz of improv and a message that turns junk food into a healthy smoothie. People love smoothies. And bloopers? Are you shitting me? Second only to sliced bread. I have this theory I'm workshopping about social media making everyone believe they're a comedian and therefore threatened by anything that might be funnier than they are, turning studios into peddlers of junk comedy. This feels somewhat complementary to another pet theory of mine, which I've mentioned before in these parts, that digital filmmaking precipitated comedy's decline the way that video ruined pornography: by making the genre more purely exploitative of the talent, at the obvious expense of artistic discipline. Why craft a punchline when the camera can run indefinitely while you look for one? Anyway, Fist Fight is shit.
*/**** starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Geoffrey Rush screenplay by Jeff Nathanson directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg
by Walter ChawPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (hereafter Pirates 5) is stultifyingly boring, which is interesting because lots of stuff happens in it, constantly. It's guilty of a kind of antic, Brownian motion that suggests all of the repugnance inspired by a bivouac of army ants and none of the creepy sense of underlying order. It's like watching stirred tea: brown and insensible. Just like. Consider the first major set-piece, in which our jolly Roger, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, starting to look like those leather bags you find at Himalayan shops), conspires with his truncated crew to steal a giant iron safe and ends up stealing the entire bank. The entire bank, savvy? Compare it against the brilliance of the train sequence in 2013's The Lone Ranger to appreciate exactly how underestimated that film was, and exactly how estimated this one is. There's a team of horses, a little person, a building being dragged through an island town, shit flying everywhere, and Capt. Jack doing Buster Keaton if Buster Keaton weren't an artist and were, instead, an aging actor most of the audience is beginning to suspect is playing himself now. Later, there's a cameo by Paul McCartney and, you know, same, same. The posture is rock 'n' roll when really it's one of those "Top of the Charts" cover compilations gamely put together by the house band. It sucks. If it makes you feel cheated, well, you were.
Howling II: ...Your Sister is a Werewolf Howling II: Stirba - Werewolf Bitch ***/**** Image A Sound B+ Extras A starring Christopher Lee, Annie McEnroe, Reb Brown, Sybil Danning screenplay by Robert Sarno and Gary Brandner, based on the novel Howling II by Brandner directed by Philippe Mora
by Sydney Wegner Let's get this out of the way first: Howling II--a.k.a. Howling II: ...Your Sister is a Werewolf, a.k.a. Howling II: Stirba - Werewolf Bitch--is a mess, an entity that refuses to be judged on any conventional, objective scale. Though originally intended as a comedy, the studio sliced it up to come across as more of a horror movie, and the bizarre result is a tone that changes with each scene. Half new-wave werewolf erotica, half Hammer horror, Howling II's themes of grief and rebirth and female sexual empowerment swirl together in a campy, indecipherable whirlwind. Just as things begin to approach being scary, they're kicked right back down with a novelty wipe effect or a cartoonish facial expression. Christopher Lee, playing werewolf hunter Stefan Crosscoe, was allegedly so appalled by the acting of his co-stars that he spent much of his time offscreen trying to flee the planet using only the power of his mind. You can feel the ennui behind his eyes with every line delivery, yet the attention he commands is undeniable. In a way, his performance is a microcosm of the entire film. The opening shot finds Lee suspended in a sea of stars, reciting werewolf legend from a book, and that is probably the most normal thing that happens in Howling II. It's ridiculous, it's stupid; it's occasionally embarrassing and endlessly fascinating.