Vera Farmiga

A semi-sequel to the Conjuring films and a direct sequel to Annabelle – in the head-scratching, over-convoluted chronology of the James Wan-produced Conjuring universe, Annabelle appeared up in movie theaters before Annabelle: Creation (even evil dolls deserve origin stories, apparently) –  Annabelle: Creation covered related key, mythology-expanding events that unfolded before Annabelle (making it a prequel to a prequel). Annabelle Comes Home finds the super-creepy doll (and demonic conduit) with the rictus smile and unblinking blue eyes front-and-center again, this time terrorizing Ed and Lorraine Warren’s (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) preteen daughter, Judy (McKenna Grace), her ultra-competent babysitter, Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) and Mary Ellen’s oddly death-obsessed best friend (forever), Daniela Rios (Katie Sarife) over the course of a single, inexplicably foggy night. Annabelle Comes Home delivers everything audiences loyal to the Conjuring universe have come to expect, up to and including the obligatory slow-build, slow-burn scenes punctuated by the appearance of a ghostly apparition, occasional jump scares (earned and unearned), and the periodic injection of cathartic humor to offset the potential grimness of the proceedings. (more…)

Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla reboot left moviegoers – and some, if not most, film critics – generally unfulfilled, wanting more, more action, more Godzilla, and more kaiju-on-kaiju action. Godzilla spent the majority of his self-titled movie’s running time offscreen, shown only tangentially as an after-thought. When he finally made it onscreen, it was only briefly. Even the climactic battle between Godzilla and a no-name pair of generic monsters disappointed. Godzilla won the crown and/or title, of course, but humanity lost, not just lives or property, but the claim of ownership or dominion over the earth and its resources (cue environmental/climate change theme). In the 2014 reboot, San Francisco took the brunt of Godzilla’s final battle. By the end, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands had lost their lives, but in the Godzilla-verse, the human cost of kaiju battles usually gets sidestepped or simply ignored. The spectacle is all, the human drama, if any, always a distant second. That, of course, isn’t so much a criticism as it is an observation that also holds true for the direct sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, an unapologetically dazzling 200-million-dollar love letter to the Godzilla-verse that’s spanned more than sixty years (and counting). (more…)