Movie Reviews

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These aren't all the movies I've watched, they're just often ones that I felt enough about to review. That's not all good or bad. There are movies I liked more or less, but they were just expected, and something that I didn't seem to be motivated enough to write on. One of my favorite movies was 6th Sense, but I wasn't going to say anything about it, because of spoilers.

Contents

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

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We went and saw 10 Cloverfield lane. On Rotten Tomatoes it was getting a 90/84% -- so the kiddies and reviewers really liked it. I liked it, but it had Hitchcockian pacing. My wife didn't at all. One reviewer summed it up perfectly, "If Hitchcock had ever directed an episode of The Twilight Zone, it might have looked something like this." I could tell you more about it, but it would all be spoilers. So this a movie best to watched without any taint.

13 Hours

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A documentary by Michael Bay? What is this world coming to? While it seems like an oxymoron, and there was plenty of explosions and some jitter-camera effects, it was more Saving Private Ryan and true to history than anything Oliver Stone or Michael Moore has done, and those are called documentaries. And it was a good motive, and mostly historically accurate based on the people that were there. So worth seeing, if you want to see an action film based on real life events.

The Accountant (2016)

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I went and saw "the Accountant". Rotten Tomatoes gave me low expectations with a 51% reviewer rating, but the 86% audience score gave me some hope that it wouldn't be horrid. It was a completely watchable semi-action thriller. In fact, it's probably the best Assassin with Aspergers film you'll see all year. Think Rain-man meets The Professional, without the academy award performances, and half the intensity, and a little more shlock and clichéd.

After Earth (2013)

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Reviewers seemed to hate it (11% approval). But it was much better rated by viewers (36%). And I thought it was about as good as the Star Trek movie. Not as good of action, or even pacing, but the story was much more unique. And made some effort to be original with their view of Tech Advances, and coming up with original lines. That isn't to say it was great. It was obviously a way for Will Smith to help his son advance his mediocre career.

Arrival (2016)

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A good but slow “first contact” sci-fi thriller, written about a cunning linguist who slowly discovers how to communicate with aliens. The movies style is very first person, and doesn’t explain a lot as you go — you have to let them leak reveals in dribs and drabs. It gets there, but it’s certainly no Independence Day or Aliens action sci-fi film. There was some Hollywood clichéd stereotyping, but the larger arch of the story made up for it.

Atlas Shrugged (Movies) (2011)

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I recommend it with reservations. How much you like it will be influenced by how much you liked the Book (and how high your expectations are). Basically, it's long-winded Animal Farm or the inverse, what happens if the producers stop producing. Ayn Rand never believed in saying in a sentence, that which could fill a chapter, and the movie follows suit by taking a Trilogy to fill out a 90 minute storyline. Not as bad as the Hobbit at that, but it's certainly not an action flick.

Bad Teacher (2011)

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It certainly won't be up for any awards or offer many surprises. But it wasn't quite AS bad as the reviews. If you go in expecting a shallow plot, a few laughs, and fluffy stoner humor -- and that's exactly what you get. I wouldn't exactly recommend it, but it was an excuse to ride to a theater and better than top-chef reruns.

Batman v Superman (2016)

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It wasn't as bad as I'd imagined it would be. But it wasn't good enough that I'd voluntarily pay to see it either. So between the 27/68 reviewer to viewer ratio on Rotten Tomatoes, I leaned more towards the reviews, but not AS harsh. It would be something to watch if you were bored on an airplane. And it is a setup for "the Justice League", hence the subtitle of "Dawn of Justice".

Battle L.A. (2011)

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Deeper than Independence Day, has a plot, but still, "another Alien invade earth" total shoot 'em up movie. Since it is L.A., I'm always kinda rooting for the Aliens to win. In the end, it didn't pound on every cliché, and fi you go in with low expectations, it should easily exceed them.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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My wife’s birthday, and she wanted to see Beauty and the Beast, though I wanted to go too: the live action version of an animated classic was sort of on the must see list. It did not disappoint. It got a 71% by reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes but 85% viewer scores, and the reason both were that low is likely that the snowflakes were melting over traditional gender roles, and others got bent over some gay references. Puhlease.

Book of Henry (2017)

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Book of Henry is not everyone's "cup of tea". Basically, a precocious genius Henry (and his younger brother, Peter) are being raised by their perpetually self-absorbed and immature Mom (Susan), when Henry witnesses the symptoms of abuse, he decides that since the system is broken and unjust, that he'll create some of his own justice, and sets in motion his rube goldberg perfect crime.

Being that I was a genius kid (who held myself back in school because I too felt that socialization with kids my own age was more important that "academic accomplishments" as measured by a system that I felt wasn't very fair or wise), and I also had a somewhat self-absorbed Mom, was on the receiving side of abuse (and so had an over-developed sense of justice): thusI could relate to the teasers on this movie. While is was getting only 25% approval from reviewers, it was getting 71% by audiences (and I tend to associate more with audiences than reviewers): so I went to see it. It was interesting. I liked it more than most will, but that still puts it as barely better than half the movies I'll see this year. And that, only because it was at least somewhat original, despite how hackneyed everything felt.

Blade Runner (1982)

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Some movies hold up better as a memory, than in rewatching them. Blade runner did that for me. It wasn't bad, and was iconic for its day. But it's nearly 2019 and I'm not sure how they thought we were going to advance that fast, or how mega-buildings would look 50 years old, only 27 years in the future. It was also wrong on a lot of futurism. But it's both entertaining for its day, and a great story and visual today. If you don't mind a bit of noir. The sequel (2049) took all the worst parts of the first (plodding, dark, self-indulgent: visually and plot-wise), with none of the freshness. It was an hour longer than it needed to be. So while won't be the worst movie I see all year, it won't break the top 20 either.

The Blind Side (2011)

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Really good movie, better than the 66/85 on Rotten Tomatoes (in my opinion). Best of this list of 2011 flicks, by far.

Some people got bent about the cliche's of white family saving a black kid, or the black kid turning out to be a star athlete. (Playing to some stereotypes). And there is that. But this one is more or less a true story. Race is a part of the story, mostly in overcoming different worlds -- but it's more just a human interest story about how people from dramatically different realities can impact each other (in good ways).

Bond:Skyfall (2011)

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Nice retro-Bond almost complete reboot. Definitely worth the price. (93/86 on Rotten Tomatoes). I was getting tired of wall-to-wall action filled with more and more absurd stunts, and this reboot back to having some plot, backstory and depth (at the sacrifice of absurd stunts) was a pleasant surprise.

Bond:Spectre (2015)

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Some reviewers whined that it was a nostalgic backslide, as if that's a bad thing. Viewers disagreed and liked it. Since I was a viewer, I was in their camp. The Daniel Craig reboot was far better than any in the last 20 years, with mostly believable action, and a lot darker tone like the books.

Bridge of Spies (2015)

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A good, slow, historical drama-thriller type movie. Almost a monologue. While based on real events, Hollywood took liberties with the timeline/truth (as usual).

Captain America: Avenger (2011)

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Rented two movies this weekend. I picked Capt. America -- wasn't bad for a Alternate Universe Steam-punkish Super-Hero flick. You have to like the genre, but if you're looking for a Buck Rodgers type retro-futuristic super-hero / alternate universe kind of film, you'll like it. If that doesn't sound appealing, then save your redbox money and watch something else. For me, it was worth every penny of the $.99 spent, but not a penny more.

Dark Night Rises (2012)

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Saw Dark Knight Rises. I thought it was good (or slighly better than OK), but a lot less than I hoped for. My wife hated it. It got 87/90 on Rotten Tomatoes. At least it wrapped up the story arc / trilogy nicely -- but I far preferred the first two, they were darker and more nightly.

Deadpool (2016)

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This tied for my favorite Marvel movie with Guardians of the Galaxy -- though you couldn't find two more polar opposite films on the planet. This was more sort of Dogma meets Kick-ass, with an X-Men backdrop (along with 2 X-Men I've never heard of). And actually, it feels a little out of place in X-Men Universe: like watching Disney characters doing porn. But it works.

Deepwater Horizon (2016)

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The short version is that I liked it as entertainment, but didn't as a movie about a real event. As entertainment it was pretty good -- but it was a little too Hollywood'ed for the people that were there, and they're working on their own documentary of actual events, instead of heroes and villains. If you want to see an entertaining thriller type movie about a drilling ship where you already know the ending: this will probably be the best one of those you see all year. But if you want to see what really happened in any more depth than listening to Noam Chomsky lecture you on the evils of capitalism, then you might be disappointed.

Doctor Strange (2016)

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In fact, it would have been the best this year, if not for Deadpool way back in Feb. It merged the Matrix, Mysticism (eastern), and Marvel (maybe a little bit of inception thrown in). Basically a mind/reality bending martial arts film. And that’s it, it’s sort of a rehash and mishmash of a few stories that you’ve seen before — but it’s so derivative, that it’s unique.

Dunkirk (2017)

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This wasn't bad, but it was a bit of mismanaged expectations. Many will go in expecting a Historical War and action movie -- what they'll get is a vignette movie telling 3 different stories, with overlapping timelines. A British soldier pooping and fleeing from the pending german advance (over a week), a British guy with a boat coming to save them (over a day), and a RAF pilot (over an hour), and how those stories intersect. If it sounds overly complex, it is, but the stories individually aren't bad -- the same with the movie.

Elysium (2013)

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Matt Damon does space propaganda for Obamacare. Other than the incongruities, lack of plot, and sanctimonious smug lessons, it was almost interesting. The visuals weren't bad. Reviewers liked the preachiness, but the 67/58 felt a little generous to me.

Fantastic Beasts (2016)

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I’m not a huge J. K. Rowling or Harry Potter fan: I found the movies entertaining enough. Normally, Harry Potters get caught up in the tech of magic, and the heavy ensemble cast of characters. This had more plot. So I liked it... for the genre.

Fast and Furious 6 (2013)

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I always thought the movie was named after Vin Diesel's sex life: he's fast, and she's furious. But no, it's about cars, just like the first 5. The first one was kinda fun as an homage to the tuner culture, each one after that just keeps getting progressively more absurd as they go on in the franchise, trying to milk the gullible for another dime bag. If you're not OK with that, then this isn't your movie. My wife loves the series, so I know way more about it than I wish I did.

Flight (2012)

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OMG that was like Leaving Las Vegas without the happy ending. I can't believe it got 77/75% good reviews? We often disagree on what makes a watchable movie. Other than the fact they didn't get anything right technically on flight operations (or know how fly an airplane)... and I had my wife (the Flight Attendant) saying, "That's WRONG!" for any sequences that involved crew. It was a rehash of a rehash. And one with kind of an obnoxious message.

The Grandmaster (2013)

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Rode to watch this on my new electric bike. In some ways the ride was more interesting than the movie. But it was not bad for a subtitled film. I enjoyed it for the novelty/rarity of watching these, but those aren't for everyone. There's a reason I went on my own, and left my wife at home. It was a shallow scan of Yip Man's life (one of Bruce Lee's instructors). If you want to see a mode modern-classical Asian-feeling martial arts saga, that's not just about the fight scene's, this was a good one.

Green Lantern (2011)

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OK. Completely predictable, simple plot, nothing too racy. But nice effects, and entertaining. Great for kids/teens. I preferred XMen much more and Thor a little more to it, but those were both really good for the genre. So worth the money if you like the genre.

The Green Room (2016)

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I'm not a huge fan of the horror genre, at least not the slasher type films -- this is old style non-slasher horror, and one of the best ones I've seen in decades. It earned its 88/84 on Rotten Tomatoes. I wouldn't want to mismanage expectations too high. But it's a very solid normals meet neo-Nazi skin-head type horror-suspense film.

Hanna (2011)

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Saw it. Meh. I was expecting something between kick-ass and born identity. Right idea, but a lot slower and nothing vaguely related to a surprise. I wouldn't rate it as bad, and I don't feel ripped off for my $7. But I think the reviewers definitely mismanaged expectations. It got 77/66 on Rotten Tomatoes, and I think the 66 was a little high. I would have been perfectly happy to wait for video or see it on a plane going somewhere. A friend summed it up as: "I was looking forward to a 17 year old kicking ass and raging all over the place. Instead they spent over half the movie being all touchy feeling and focusing on the 'plot'. Normally, that wouldn't be bad, except there was no plot." The first 20 minutes were definitely the most entertaining.

Inside Out (2015)

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I dragged my wife to see this, as I do many/most Pixar movies. This one was strong on originality, a little slow in the middle, with some neat messages, and empowers parents to talk to kids about their emotions and feelings more. It was my least favorite of the Pixar Genre, but that's still pretty good.

In Time (2012)

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Better than expected. If you go in expecting a bad Timberlake film, and then you'll be pleasantly surprised when you get a mediocre one. A cliché'd plot and premise (oppressed poor, fighting for minutes more of life, in a caste oriented future). Despite the not-subtle premise, there was more depth, character development, well done visuals/directing and better acting for yet another robin hood meets the hydraulic empire type movie.

Into the Woods (2014)

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We went and saw this for XMas. Imagine Mama Mia, with better singers and worse music, done to 4 original (darker) versions of fairly tails, then an extra 30 minutes of filler to tie it all together at the end. Fairy tails are too dark for young kids, and not enough action for older ones. It was a swing and a miss.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

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Saw it. Liked it. Thought it was better than any other Ironman, and gave more backstory. 3D was done well, as were the visuals. Did well on Rotten Tomatoes (79/79). Tony Stark always hit me as an annoying douche. He still is, but you at least have some empathy, and see him trying to realize there are other people in the world. They give him personal struggles, and that gives him more depth.

Jason Bourne (2016)

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Matt Damon is a flaming douchebag and hypocrite, but is not the worst actor that ever became popular. This one is better than the rest of the series (other than the first), and the series started good, and had been declining ever since. It's 55/66 reviewer/audience score seems about right. You probably won't hate it, if you want an absurd action film. But it isn't great.

Jobs (2013)

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Hollywood has this attitude that fiction is more interesting than real life. It is more interesting to people that don't care about the truth as much as they care about shallow entertainment and becoming more misinformed about a topic or person. I'm not their audience, and this movie wasn't made for me. Walter Isaacson's book was pretty good, but flawed. This movie omitted the former and exaggerated the latter.

John Wick 1 & 2 (2017)

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Honestly, as someone with a bit of training in both combat shooting and martial arts, the first movies gun-fu scenes were the best I've ever seen in the movies, and the behind the scenes stuff shows that Reeves really put in the time to get trained and took it seriously. I watched it for the shooting (and martial arts), and it was the best ever at the first: in an over the top sorta way.

Jungle Book (2016)

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I wasn't that interested in seeing the new live-action Disney Jungle Book: the original books being creepy and dark, with singing. But it was all the rage in India,so I checked Rotten Tomatoes and it was a high 95/92% approval, and I figured, I might as well see it, for social value. It was over-rated, but not bad.

Life of Pi (2012)

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One long, slow movie -- but probably one of the best and most touching movies of the year for me. This kind of movie is why I'll suffer through mediocre movies until the end, in the hopes that they have and ending and message as worthy as this. My wife doesn't have the patience, and 9 out of 10 times, a slow movie results in a bad clichéd ending. But every now and then, you get redemption. This was that movie for me.

London/Olympus has Fallen (2016)

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We went and saw the Olympus/London has fallen set. Die Hard in the WhiteHouse, and Die Hard on the run. You don't watch for believability, but for good ol action. We don't know why they're doing it, or care. Some squealed ray-cism (because the bad guys weren't white), but yawns. It's an action flick and someone's gotta be the bad guys.

The Lone Survivor (2014)

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Really good for a Hollywood war movie. Still tarted up in a few spots, but at least warriors in tough situations was recognized, without too much of the usual Platoon type craziness or sociopathy that Hollywood usually has to inject. Just a lot of folks in shitty situations, doing the best they can.

Man of Steel (2013)

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You can't trust Reviewers. They gave this a 56%, and gave Star Trek an 87%? (82/92 by viewers). Star Trek: into Darkness (e.g. Wrath of Kahn) was derivative and it didn't have to be. While this threw in a lot of original twists and new ways to tell the story, which was harder to do. So I give Man of Steel writers a LOT more credit for story than the latest Star Trek Movie.

Mission Impossible
Ghost Protocol (2011)

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Reviewers liked it more than viewers, which is unusual for action films, where it's usually the other way around. This replaced the ensemble cast in a caper film, with "Look at me, I'm Tom Cruise/Ethan Hunt", but since I'm not a fan of overly complex caper films, this kind of worked, once we get past the obligatory mocking.

A Monster Calls (2016)

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One of the best movies, I've seen all year. (I caught this on HBO in 2017).

It's a bit of a downer, using tragedy to remind people of what's important in life -- but the messages are beautiful and on-target, if you can handle a movie that's showing the human spirit through the trials that life (and death) throws at it, and a child's shock and frustrations at the powerless of human condition.

Mummy (2017)

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The Mummy got lousy ratings at 16/43 (Reviewers/Viewers) on Rotten Tomatoes. While I wouldn't exactly call it good, I'm not sure it stank quite that badly either. It sort of the opening salvo in Universal's, "The Dark Universe", which is basically Frankenstein (+Bride of), Wolfman, Dracula, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Creature from Black Lagoon. All the old horror film classics. This one tries to modernize the story, and use a big action name (Tom Cruise) as a douchebag (not a stretch). But there while it was horrible, there was a lot for snowflakes to get offended by.

Rise of Planet of the Apes (2011)

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Not bad. Predictable but entertaining. I don’t usually like remakes — but this prequel worked well.


Redstate (2011)

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Wife rented Redstate because it was a Kevin Smith movie and she thought it might be funny. Wow. Not funny. Not good drama. Just depressing homophobic religious serial-killers get taken out by the even worse government.

Only about one movie a year (or less) gets my stinker award: this earned one.

Salt (2011)

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This movie wasn't worth its salt (despite the 62/59 it got from Rotten Tomatoes). Sometimes it's the little plot devices that annoy in movies like this, in this move it's all of them. More cliche's than a Piers Anthony book. Less depth than a playboy centerfolds interview. The ham-handed dialog of an Arnold movie: without the humor. If Mystery Science Theater 3000 did action flicks, they would pick this one to pan. It probably wasn't the worst movie of 2011, but it would take work to guide low enough where people would come out thinking, "it wasn't THAT bad'.

The Shack (2017)

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This isn't about a basketball legend, it's an introspective about the origins of faith and religion (specifically Christianity). The Shack is a story about loss and suffering. It is about the arrogance of holding on to anger/resentment, and judging others (or judging God) with your partial understanding of everything around you — it is a reminder about letting go and forgiving. Good people die. Bad people sometimes get away with it. Most people have burdens you can’t understand. Stop judging: resenting others for their flaws and failures is a waste of both your time. Accept who they are (warts and all), and either let them in, or avoid their toxicity — but pick a path and move on. While I'm an atheist, I liked the messages.

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

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I can't believe this was highly rated on RottenTomatoes (87/90%). On a 1-10, I'd give it a firm 3.5. It wasn't quite, I threw up and left bad -- but if it was any more derivative, it would have had TJ Hooker and Wesley Crusher busting bad guys in their Red and White Gran Torino, with Fred the Cockatoo cracking one liners at the end.

Star Wars: I-VI (Links)

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I'm not going to do rehashed reviews that covers the basics: Lucas is a hack that ruined the series after Episode V, and stuff like that. It wasn't THAT bad, it was just a shallow shell of what it could have been, if George was deeper than a kiddie pool. These are just some links to amusing theories, links and info around the movies, instead of staring into them (and reviewing them) directly.

Star Wars VII
The Force Awakens (2015)

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This movie seems to be a vehicle not only for rampant merchandising of goods by Disney, but also a vehicle for people to peddle their rants and opinions about the movie and everything else -- like cynical observations about that merchandizing, or how derivative this movie is (failing to observe that's true of 98% of what comes out of Hollywood). Viewers were mostly happy, which makes sense, while derivative, it wasn't bad.

Star Wars: Rogue One (2016)

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For me, this was the best movie in the Star Wars franchise. Called Rogue One because Episode 3.5 was a bit awkward. But while I liked it, I was never a super-fan of the genre. It was always a bit campy, inconsistent, and they lost me at the Ewok orgy, and I almost tuned out completely at Jar-Jar. But despite being shallow escapism, it wasn’t bad shallow escapism: I liked the effects and wanted to see how the story arcs progressed. This one closed a lot of arcs, and was well done to boot. The best of the pretty good.

Steve Jobs (2015)

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A fictionalized drama-mentory retelling of Steve Jobs life, by an ultra-Liberal director (Aaron Sorkin). Reviewers preferred it more than audiences +13% (86/73). While the dialog and story is the best of the rash of Steve Jobs pseudo-biographies, this one captured the spirit of many things better, while getting too many actual facts wrong. It would have been great, if only they were fictional characters.

This is the end (2015)

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This was "Left Behind", as re-written by some stoner-slackers, and starring Hollywood Narcissists, starring and mocking themselves. Foul, crass, occasionally some funny one-liners. At least it isn't pretentious and the purpose is to make fun of Hollywood types. While funny, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more if I was 20 years old and drunk or stoned while watching it. (Which describes the enthusiasm of the college aged audience I saw it with). As a fifty something, I felt it wasn't bad, but there were many movies in the foul-mouthed genre that I preferred (Up in Smoke, Porky's, Dogma, the Hangover).

Thor (2011)

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Went and saw this (rode over). Wasn't horrible. Wasn't deep or great. Lots of backstory, and really predictable dialog -- but I didn't go expecting the 6th sense or anything. And actually the lack of over-action throughout the entire movie made it better than some crazy, flying place-to-place non-stop movies that just tire you out. It will keep the kids entertained. So for pretty fluff, with some action, it was good. I don't know if I'd give it the 77/76 it got on Rotten Tomatoes, but if you want a super-hero movie, it probably won't be the worst one you'll see this year.

The Tourist (2011)

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I was hoping Depps acting could counteract Jolie's. I didn't like any of the characters, and figured out the plot in about 5 minutes. It was an action, drama, romance, thriller that managed to achieve none of the above for me. Watch it if you're stuck on a plane, but there'd have to be very few other options before I'd recommend it. My wife liked it more than I did. But I didn't hate it. To me it was like neopolitin ice cream: it isn't great ice-cream... but it's still better than no ice cream at all.

Tower Heist (2011)

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We went and saw Tower Heist: surprisingly, not horrible

Amusing, cliché, and about as believable as Beverly Hills Cop, but some funny lines and entertaining.

Better than the movie of the week on TV. (A lot better than Red State was). If you go to a matinee with low expectations (as I did), you'll walk away feeling you got more than your money's worth.

Waiting for Superman (2011)

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If you're looking for a slowly paced, poorly supported documentary that trashes the American School system with all the lack-of-balances of "An Inconvenient Truth" director can muster, then this will be the best option for the year.

The premise is the failure of the American school system, as told from a far left-of-center director, which will go for tugging at the heart-strings (and person interest stories), instead of offering facts and data to support them.

What's your numbers? (2011)

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I did my husbandly duty of seeing the chick-flick (romantic comedy) with my wife... and it made Something about Mary or a Kevin Smith dialog seem G-rated. Funny movie, with some real hysterical lines, and quite a bit better than I expected... but very adult shock-humor type jokes.

Plot, with the help of her man-whore neighbor, the lead character (Anna Faris) browses back through the past 19 mistakes she's made (failed relationships) and ponders if she missed, "the one". It works, if you like the crass humor genre.

Whitehouse Down (2013)

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On one hand, it's just a younger prettier version of Die Hard in the WhiteHouse: Campy one liners, predictable plot, humor, actions, and entertaining. I would say, if you ignore the primary story-line, it's a pitch-perfect 4th of July film. On the other hand, you can't ignore it. They beat you over the head with it, then drags it's corpse around for 3 days. It's not a bad movie for watching on a plane, but if I'm not trapped, I'm watching something else.

Wolverine (2013)

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I went and saw Wolverine. This review tries to give it more existential depth than I think it deserves: e.g. the movie was more cliché than it deserved. Every superhero (superman especially) had the reluctant hero who wants to change who and what he is, but ultimately has to accept his lot in life (even if it is for eternity). Which is almost how long it took to get to the point. Not horrid, but too much teenage angst for an immortal.

Wonder Woman (2017)

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Wonder Woman was a cheesy over the top 70’s TV show with Linda Carter. DC and Warner Brothers do their best to go after the Marvel Franchise with Gal Gadot playing the hero. Reviews are audiences gave it a 92/92 on Rotten Tomatoes, and it quickly exploded to $600M in sales, so I figured I should see it. And while it as good, it wasn’t quite as good as its sales numbers or reviewers would have me believe.