Mixed bag for Batman, Fresh and Chainsaw Massacre are a mess

The Batman a mixed bag
In a recent interview, Robert Pattinson admitted, like everyone who is only familiar with Batman through the movies, that he didn't realize the character was considered the world's greatest detective in the comic book world. Watching the latest big screen incarnation of the caped crusader, Matt Reeves' The Batman, you're likely to walk away wondering why he's known as such.

The fact the titular character has problems solving a simple clue is one of the many problems with this flawed but ambitious take on the pop-culture icon, a bloated large-scale production that resets the mythos, taking us back to the second year of the anti-hero's crime-fighting career. He has a lot to learn as he tries to track down The Riddler (Paul Dano), who's knocking off Gotham City's high-ranking public officials. He gets some help from Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), who has her own agenda concerning crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and the Penguin (Colin Farrell) who might be at the center of the mystery the duo is trying to crack. Far too dark visually, the film makes numerous mistakes, but on the whole, Reeves takes enough intriguing chances to make this iteration worth a look. In theaters.

Fresh not what it seems
Mimi Cave's Fresh is being promoted as a feminist treatise on the misogynist minefield that is modern dating. It's also something else – a tasteless, bloody horror film that wallows in the sort of conventions that give the genre a bad name.

Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a 20-something eager to meet someone of the opposite sex who's relatively normal. She meets Steve (Sebastian Stan), and despite some initial misgivings, gives herself over to this guy.  Her best friend, Mollie (Jojo Gibbs) warns her this guy is too good to be true - he's handsome, a surgeon and all-around nice guy - but Noa throws caution to the wind, agreeing to go on a weekend trip with Steve. Bad move, as her takes her hostage and she soon finds she's one of many captives her boyfriend is carving up, selling piece by piece to high-end pervs who consume it. (It's a meat market! Get it?) Once the tables are turned and the blood starts flying, Fresh reveals itself to be what it really is – just another over-the-top slasher movie. Streaming on Hulu.

Chainsaw a bloody mess
Of the eight sequels that have been made to the 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, David Blue Garcia's imaginatively titled Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the best of the bunch.  Keep in mind, that's a very low bar. The story – such as it is – involves a group of young influencers who go to an abandoned Texas town with the intent of revitalizing it.  Their dreams of a trendy burg with art galleries, trendy eateries and hip music are dependent on a group of investors, who are brought to town for a looksee on a party bus.

They have no idea what they're getting into as Leatherface (Mark Burnham), in hiding since the original murders 50 years ago, is on the rampage. He's not too keen on gentrification or that his mother's been evicted because of it. As for the violence Leatherface inflicts, it's not for the faint of heart.  Every decapitation, severing or hacking leaves little to the imagination. I must admit, I got a dark kick out of the movie's main set piece, as Leatherface invades the party bus and chainsaws the clueless millennials who think it's all a gag and are filming him on their phones. Gross, but cathartic. Streaming on Netflix.

About The Author

Chuck Koplinski

Writing for Illinois Times since 1998, Chuck Koplinski is a member of the Critic's Choice Association, the Chicago Film Critics Association and a contributor to Rotten Tomatoes. He appears on WCIA-TV twice a week to review current releases and, no matter what anyone says, thinks Tom Cruise's version of The Mummy...

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