In an alternate timeline, where Penner told a different writer about his idea, we may have an okay movie. There are kernels of good ideas here and there in the version we got has nothing else to offer. The Bye Bye Man makes no sense and goes out of its way to make sure you never really understand what the Bye Bye Man is or how he works. I get that he's a wrinkly man in a hooded robe with a bad CGI dog, but beyond that, I really don't know. Nothing else is much better as our lead and his girlfriend are terrible actors as are everyone but the librarian (who was kind of okay), the effects are awful, the pacing is off the wall, and the script is offensively bad. Penner himself plays the worst character, an offensively bold stereotype of a gay florist. There isn't even much to make fun of as a "good bad" movie. It can be semi-creepy at times, but on the whole it isn't worth the hour and a half.
Onward is a post new generation Pixar movie, which means that its goal appears to be painfully average in every way. The animation is pretty great most of the time, but the character models don't quite hit the early Pixar bar. There were times where the scenery looks almost life-like, but anything else isn't nearly as good. The story is kind of boring with far to many obvious set-ups, forced conflict, and a very unsatisfying ending, but the biggest issue with Onward is the two leads. I love Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, but neither one really meshes with their character and there was zero chemistry between them (or anyone else really). Adam (from Your Movie Sucks) mentions in his review that it feels like they wrote the lead characters for different actors than we got and it 100% feel that way. I really hate Jack Black, but Barely is clearly a Jack Black character and Pratt feels like he's doing a poor Jack Black imitation. Holland can act, but he doesn't bring anything to Ian. I'm assuming that Disney execs said "No one is going to see a movie just because Jack Black's voice is in it; he isn't big enough. Who do we have on the Disney payroll? My daughter likes that Spider-Guy; let's get him. What about Metal-Man? No, Robert Doweny Jr costs too much. Oh, my son likes the Justice League of the Space, can we get the squirrel or the tree? Well, what about Batista? Fine, I guess Space Lord will do." I wasn't invested in anything they were trying to do: the world building is half-assed, the humor is a big miss, and there are far too many lulls in the flow of the story. Onward feels like a good attempt from Illumination, but it's not great as a real movie and even worse as a member of Pixar's catalog.
Spy Kids is a very 2001 movie: the CGI is just awful, the child actors suck, the plot is unreasonably confusing, everything is so stupid, and it comes off like the general feeling creating this movie is "Screw it, it's a kids' movie, no one cares." There are so many plot holes that it makes the story hard to follow and what I can follow is just nonsensical. I love the idea of a kids' movie about children with spy training kicking butt, but they don't really kick butt and I'm uncertain if they have spy training. They've been skipping school and they reveal to their parents that they are spies, but am I supposed to connect that they have been receiving spy training outside of their parents' knowledge and also never remotely suspected that their parents were spies? Who is training them then and why? Plus, they have some random bits of gymnastic ability and the boy can mimic voices, but they are hardly spies. Sure, kids aren't going to be as concerned with the plot, but is I'm not sure there is enough interesting stuff going on to keep them on the line. I think they think Spy Kids is a funny movie, but the only bit that got me (other than the laughably bad CGI and dialog) was a poop joke and they got a shock reaction for the multiple times where they tease that they are going to use profanity, but stop just short. Spy Kids is okay, but it reeks of 2001 and it should probably stay there.
It's a little ironic that the first AvP felt like a hybrid of an Alien and a Predator movie and AvP:R features a hybrid Alien/Predator but feels like a generic alien (lowercase "a") invasion movie. I didn't hate everything about AvP, but it did have little flairs of what I liked about the Alien series and the Predator series. AvP:R stars the titular beasts of both series, but at no point did I ever catch a glimpse of what I liked about either series. Everything was very cliche and predictable, I couldn't possibly care about the characters any less, and any flying vehicle or vessel or any kind looks absolutely terrible. I wasn't ever bored, but the plot just doesn't make sense and I was more than ready for it to be over at all times. I did like some of the gorier shots and the knock-off some people I didn't expect them to, but none of it would entice me enough to watch it again. The Alien and Predator series both act like these movies don't exist and it wouldn't be a bad decision if you did too.
I unashamedly love the first Frozen. As an almost 30 year old man, I recognize that I'm not the core audience for these films, but the first had so many bright spots. Frozen 2 is slightly above room temperature. The biggest problem is that their just isn't enough plot for an entire movie here and what we do get is incredibly weak and doesn't have any real narrative thrust. The voice-acting is still all great and the vocals on the songs are stellar, but we again run into the problem of songs only existing for exposition dumps. Frozen 2 adds even more filler songs an honestly, filler everywhere. We have entire sequences that only exist to get to a song that we don't need. The actual plot really should have been a short, like Toy Story does. There isn't 100 minutes of real narrative story here; there is maybe 30, perfect for something like Toy Story That Time Forgot or Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation. The little story we do get is poorly done and the bulk of the story is just Elsa; it's like 65% Elsa, 40% Anna, 5% Kristoff and none of it is particularly interesting. Else has important, serious business to take care of, Anna thinks she needs to go too even though she has no abilities of any note and is just a huge liability, and Kristoff tires to propose for 100 minutes. Elsa is easily my favorite character, so I didn't mind her getting most of the screen time, but they absolutely waste Kristoff. I understand that they really want to push the Girl Power element of the Frozen Franchise, but they cut out everything Kristoff was in the first movie to make him a clumsy goof who is bad at being romantic or whatever. Without spoiling the big events of the plot, I can say that it makes no sense and really only raises even more questions and it ends with a terrible decision for Arendelle and the series as a whole (should it continue). The first Frozen could have but out the rock troll people and been almost perfect; Frozen 2 doesn't even need to exist. It doesn't further the story or even answer the questions that it raises. I liked spending more time in Arendelle and getting more of a glimpse at the things beyond its gates, but they could have done three or four shorts and sold that as a Blu-Ray. As disappointed as I was with this sequel, I'll certainly watch another, but I really think that they (again) finish on a note that should end the larger series and leave the space open for shorts or spin-offs, but please, no more rock troll guys!
The Haunting of Hill House is hard for me to rate. On one hand, we have really great performances from almost the entire cast; even the kids did very well and I was never reminded that these are all actors ad none of this is real. The sets were really good too, whether it was the funeral home, the rehab center, or the titular Hill House, everything has well designed and as realistically creepy and unsettling. On the other hand I essentially finished only because of the whole sunk cost fallacy and the blind hope that maybe they can right the ship. Every paranormal movie essentially gets to create its own rules for how ghosts and such work, so I can't really complain about the realism of how they chose to write their rules. I will say, however, that their rule book is bullshit and the stupidest fucking mess I've ever read. I won't spoil anything, because the incredibly slow and arduous unrevealing of the mystery is really the only the story has going for it, but I found it to be purposefully obtuse and cheap. They are trying so hard to create a mind-fuck story with the constant flashbacks and (maybe) dream sequences and we never really know if people are really seeing things, if it's just stories they are replaying in their head, if it's hallucinations or if it is just that the writers are trying to give us a visual while someone is being told a story. 85% of the story is just a family drama. It's a compelling drama and the characters are great, but we were pitched and promised a horror and we barely get that. the other 15% is easily the worst part. They do a fair job creating a sense of unease, but literally every unveiling garnered a response of "Really? Fucking really? That's their explanation?" One of the last one makes sense, but one particular one really made me physically angry; it's just so nonsensical, stupid, and unrealistic even for a movie about ghosts. This did not need to be a 10+ hour series and they certainly didn't deliver on the impression of horror. If we cut out all the bullshit, we could have a solid four episode mini-series about a family dealing with loss. I really wanted to love Hill House and they have all of the pieces to make a great show, but they fucked it all up. The cast was outstanding and aside from child actor with a very minor role, everyone gave Oscar worthy performances. The ghosts and ghouls or whatever they actually were looked pretty bad, but the Hill House set looked great. If they gave the pieces to a different writer and director, Hill House could be a classic, but I hate what Mike Flanagan did with them.