The philosophical/hypothetical question "Is it better to kill a certain number of people if twice as many people will be killed otherwise?" gets the big screen treatment in The Belko Experiment.  This movie, written by James Gunn, takes a dark (and sometimes darkly comic) look at what people will do when given an impossible choice.

It's a strange start to the day for the employees at Belko Industries.  On the way to the office building in Bogota, Colombia, armed guards search every vehicle and turn away the locals.  We get to know some of the 80 employees there: romantic couple Mike (John Gallagher Jr.) and Leandra (Adria Arjona), responsible boss Barry (Tony Goldwin), awkward and creepy guy Wendell (John C. McGinley), maintenance men, the stoner employee, the hostile woman, etc.
Things get much worse when steel walls rise up and seal everyone in the building, and all communication with the outside world is cut off.  A voice over the office intercom tells the people that they have to kill two people, or four people will be killed.  The employees nervously think it's a joke, until four people's heads explode.  It turns out that when the company put tracking chips in people's skulls in case of kidnapping, they were really explosives that can be detonated by remote control; the company also has cameras all over the building to spy on the employees.  The voice on the intercom then gives an ultimatum that's the basis for most of the movie: The employees have two hours to kill 30 people, or 60 people will die.

The employees react to this in different ways.  Mitch doesn't want to kill anyone and focuses on escaping.  Barry gets a bunch of people and arms them, to do what he thinks must be done.  Some people hide, some arm themselves (with kitchen and office supplies), and everyone has to decide what to do as the deadly deadline gets ever closer...
The Belko Experiment is a basic yet enjoyable big-budget B movie.  The characters are fairly generic, but that's largely the point: to see how they react in this suddenly homicidal experiment.  The movie could have used more dark humor, but it certainly delivers plenty of bloodshed --first accidentally, the deliberately -- as the characters face the demand put on them.  While The Belko Experiment could have done more with its dark premise, it's still entertaining.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch



There are times when bad or silly movies have good soundtracks.  Batman: The Movie (from 1966) was every bit as campy and goofy as the TV series, but its music works quite well.  Batman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack has all the music from the movie, plus a few extra songs.

Composed by Nelson Riddle, the songs on Batman: OMPS have a very jazzy feel to them.  The 29 songs from the movie are all based on scenes from the movie; one can tell the plot of the movie just from reading the track listing.  It's easy to recognize the songs focusing on the villains -- the Penguin's waddle, Catwoman's seductive side, etc.  -- and elements of Neil Hefti's Batman television show theme creep into many of the songs.  (That theme is one of the three bonus tracks on the album.)

The music on Batman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will never be jazz classics, but it is a fun, breezy album that's fun to listen to.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch



With Hugh Jackman taking on the role of Logan/Wolverine one last time, it makes sense that Logan is a pretty bleak movie.  This is a very atypical superhero movie that works pretty well.

It's been several years since the last X-Men movie, and the world is a pretty depressing place.  No mutants have been born in decades, and the X-Men are gone.  Logan has his own problems: He doesn't heal as quickly as before, his frequent coughing indicates some deep health issues, he needs glasses to read, and he may be an alcoholic.  He also takes care of Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who needs medication to stay focused and has seizures that can paralyze (or worse) people in his vicinity.  Logan works driving a car, saving up enough money for him and Charles to sail away.  Charles is also helped by Caliban (Stephen Merchant), a sun-sensitive mutant who can track other mutants.

Things change when Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), a cybernetic hunter who leads a bunch of similarly enhanced mercenaries called the Reavers, wants Logan to find "the girl" and deliver her to him.  It turns out that she is Laura (Dafne Keen), a young mutant with healing abilities and metal claws much like Logan has -- as well as a near-feral combat rage.  When her rescuer is killed, Logan becomes a reluctant hero once more, avoiding the Reavers and traveling with Laura and Charles to Eden, a location near the Canadian border where Laura can meet up with other young mutants.
I give Logan credit for eschewing bright spandex costumes and simple solutions for this created world.  Hugh Jackman is terrific, as usual, as Logan seeks a simple life in the face of all his problems, yet winds up a hero again.  Dafne Keen is quite good as the quiet, sullen teen who seems to be on the same path as Logan once followed.  And Patrick Stewart is fine as the much older, profanity-spewing former genius who still has hope in the future for mutants.  Stephen Merchant doesn't have much to do as Caliban, and Boyd Holbrook is a very dull, bland villain.

It'll be interesting to see whether there are more X-Men movies, or if Laura becomes X-23, the successor to Wolverine.  In the meantime, Logan is a fitting (if somewhat flawed) swan song for Wolverine -- or, rather, Logan.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch