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A.A. Dowd

A.A. Dowd


A.A. Dowd, or Alex to his friends, is a writer and editor based in Chicago. He has held staff positions at The A.V. Club and Time Out Chicago, and is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Cailee Spaeny applies makeup with a hand mirror.

Priscilla review: The anti-Elvis by Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola peers into the gilded cage again with her Priscilla Presley biopic, starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi.
Jessica Biel looks terrified in a car.

Platinum Dunes polished horror’s grimy past for a new generation

Twenty years ago, Platinum Dunes remade almost every major horror classic from the '70s and '80s. Are the Michael Bay horror remakes as terrible as fans say?
Three teen sit and stare in horror in Final Destination.

Is Final Destination the best horror franchise we have right now?

With five movies and counting, the Final Destination series remains as ghoulishly entertaining as ever.
Robert De Niro sits in a car and talks to Leonardo DiCaprio, who leans against it.

Killers of the Flower Moon review: Scorsese’s monumental new epic

Martin Scorsese reunites with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro for a devastating adaptation of the David Grann bestseller Killers of the Flower Moon.
Uma Thurman wields a samurai sword.

20 years ago, Quentin Tarantino geeked out with Kill Bill

Twenty years ago, Quentin Tarantino returned with the wildly entertaining East-meets-West revenge epic Kill Bill.
A monk-like android sees a hostile drone shift emerge from the clouds in the distance.

From Godzilla to The Creator, Gareth Edwards makes beautiful doomsday blockbusters like no one else

The Creator joins Rogue One and Godzilla on the list of beautiful blockbusters by director Gareth Edwards, the poet of downbeat multiplex movies.
Dwayne Johnson and Seann William Scott take a sweaty walk together.

20 years later, The Rundown is still The Rock’s best action-hero role

Dwayne The Rock Johnson delivered his most likable star turn in The Rundown, which turns 20 this week.
Mel Gibson looks casually menacing behind a desk

The Continental review: John Wick is less fun without John Wick

Keanu Reeves is sorely missed in Peacock's unsatisfactory TV prequel to John Wick, The Continental.
Sonar-like rings emanate from Spider-Man indicating his spidey-sense tingling.

20 years ago, Spider-Man swung onto MTV and changed the Marvel superhero forever

MTV's Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, starring Neil Patrick Harris as Peter Parker, deserved better than the single 13-episode season it got.
David Duchovny interrogates Peter Boyle

With just a few episodes, writer Darin Morgan changed The X-Files forever

Chris Carter's classic TV show The X-Files, which turned 30 this week, hit new peaks of tragicomic brilliance in the six episodes written by Darin Morgan.
Archie Madekwe sits behind the wheel of a race car.

Video game adaptations are huge, but will we ever see a great one?

With The Last of Us, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and Gran Turismo, video game adaptations came of age in 2023, but they didn't transcend the genre.
Marvel's heroes charge into battle in Avengers: Endgame.

Superhero movies aren’t events anymore

From Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to The Flash, superheroes have underperformed in 2023. Will Blue Beetle and other comic book movies suffer the same fate?
Jamie Lee Curtis stares with horror through a round window at the masked face of Michael Myers.

The Halloween franchise should have ended 25 years ago with Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Twenty-five years ago, Halloween H20 did the legacy sequel thing long before, and better than, the recent trilogy by David Gordon Green.
Dracula surveys his prey from above the deck of the ship

The Last Voyage of the Demeter review: Dracula by way of Alien

Adapting just a few pages of Bram Stoker's novel, The Last Voyage of the Demeter puts an entertaining new spin on the most famous vampire of them all, Dracula.
A giant shark swims up to a tiny diver.

Meg 2: The Trench review: Toss this bucket of chum

Jason Statham returns to defend the world from giant, prehistoric sharks in The Meg 2: The Trench, an even-worse thriller that fails to do that premise justice.
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Franz Rogowski sensually dance.

Passages review: Ira Sachs’ portrait of a romantic scoundrel

Franz Rogowski plays a magnetically selfish lothario in Ira Sachs' compact drama, Passages.
Lili Taylor holds a match up while staring down into a dark basement.

How James Wan reshaped modern horror with Saw, The Conjuring, and Insidious

From Saw to Insidious to The Conjuring, the Aussie director James Wan has an uncanny ability to launch hit horror franchises.
A possessed Sophie Wilde turns sideways with a very spooky grin on her face.

Talk to Me review: scary party-game horror from A24

The Aussie horror movie Talk to Me has a great premise, but a disappointing second half blunts its scares.
Arnold Schwarzenegger aims a rocket launcher out of a car window.

Why is it so hard to make a hit Terminator movie again?

Every Terminator sequel since T2 has been a commercial dud. With the advancement of special effects and the rise of AI, why can't the Terminator series succeed?
Cillian Murphy stares through a small window at an atomic blast, his face illuminated by light.

Oppenheimer review: Christopher Nolan’s staggering atomic opus

Christopher Nolan returns with a towering, troubling 70mm biopic about the Father of the Atomic Bomb, Oppenheimer.
Sam Neill stares down the mighty T. Rex in "Jurassic Park."

Does Jurassic Park reveal a guilty confession from Steven Spielberg?

The 1993 sci-fi film Jurassic Park works as both an entertaining blockbuster and a revealing confession about the damage Steven Spielberg did to modern movies.
Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell turn around in a small car, looking concerned.

Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One review: Accept this mission

Tom Cruise returns once more as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One, the latest entry in Hollywood's most reliably entertaining franchise.
Harrison Ford looks very tired as Indiana Jones.

Indiana Jones and the perils of sequelizing Steven Spielberg

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is the latest example of how hard it is to make a sequel to a Steven Spielberg movie.
A dying woman crawls across a desert in an upside down shot

Irrational horror: How Skinamarink, The Outwaters, and Enys Men remystify the genre

Skinamarink, The Outwaters, and Enys Men bring some welcome irrationality back to a horror genre that is too obsessed with blunt metaphors about past trauma.
On the left, Brad Pitt stares in fear. On the right, Cillian Murphy stands alone in a deserted London.

The decade of the dead: How 28 Days Later, World War Z, and zombies took over pop culture

Released 10 years apart, 28 Days Later and World War Z offered similar prophetic visions of global outbreak that make them more resonant in a post-COVID world.
The Maximals in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts from Paramount Pictures

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review: This prequel needs more Bayhem

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a prequel that streamlines the Michael Bay style into anonymous spectacle.
Caitlin Stasey smiles, unnervingly.

Smile review: A cruelly scary studio horror movie

There are traces of It Follows and The Ring in Parker Finn's diabolically effective horror movie Smile.
Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana fall in love on Pandora.

James Cameron’s sci-fi epic Avatar returns to theaters, but has its magic faded?

James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar returns to theaters13 years after it broke records. Will audiences still care?
Florence Pugh and Harry Styles make for a photogenic couple.

Don’t Worry Darling review: through the suburban looking glass

Despite the chaos of its press tour, Olivia Wilde's suburban Twilight Zone fantasy Don't Worry Darling starring Harry Styles is controlled to a fault.
Colin Farrell walks with his donkey in The Banshees of Inisherin.

The best films of TIFF 2022

From a surgical documentary to a Korean thriller to the triumphant return of Daniel Craig's Benoit Blanc, these were our favorites films of TIFF '22.
Gideon Adlon and Beth Million are in grave danger.

The slasher Sick is a highlight of TIFF’s Midnight Madness

This year's Midnight Madness program at TIFF includes a slick slasher, a prequel to a horror hit, and another V/H/S/ anthology of horror.
Zac Efron can see that war is hell in The Greatest Beer Run Ever.

Zac Efron goes to Vietnam in the shallow comedy The Greatest Beer Run Ever

In his follow-up to the Oscar-winning Green Book, director Peter Farrelly makes another bid for middlebrow prestige with The Greatest Beer Run Ever.
Brendan Fraser looks to his side in The Whale.

The Whale review: Brendan Fraser can’t save this histrionic drama

Brendan Fraser's sensitive performance is the chief highlight of Darren Aronofsky's limp drama The Whale.
Paul Dano and Michelle Williams watch The Greatest Show on Earth.

The Fabelmans review: an origin story of Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg plunges into his own childhood with the twinkly-tragic memoir The Fabelmans.