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Focus image
Warner Bros.
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‘Focus’ Review: Welcome Back, Movie Star Will Smith

It’s been a decade since Will Smith was “Will Smith” onscreen. Sure, he’s made movies in the last ten years; science-fiction pictures, dramas, comedies. He even played Satan, once. But none of them riffed on that classic Will Smith persona that everyone loves; the infectious charm, the seductive smile, the cocky but casual swagger. (What’s that? Men in Black 3? No, they never made a third Men in Black. You must be confused.)

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Category: movie reviews
Fifty Shades of Grey
Universal
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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Review: A Vanilla Movie About Kinky Sex

Christian Grey is an unusual guy. He’s the world’s most eligible billionaire bachelor and an enormously powerful businessman. He’s an avid jogger, an exceptional piano player, and a licensed helicopter pilot. He also really like the color gray. He wears gray suits and ties, drives a gray car to his gray office building (which is called Grey House) under gray Seattle skies, where his assistant dresses in—you guessed it—gray. (For the record, his office chairs are white but the couches are gray too.) And, oh yeah, he’s into kinky sex, including bondage, spanking, and domination.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service
20th Century Fox
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‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ Review: The Goofy James Bond Throwback You Didn’t Know You Needed

For decades, people have made fun of Roger Moore. Moore starred in more James Bond movies than anyone else, but his entire twelve-year, seven-film run is widely regarded today as a goofy, cartoonish disaster. After Moore retired from the role following 1985’s ‘A View to a Kill,’ the Bond franchise refocused, growing darker and more serious. Now 007 belongs to Daniel Craig, who’s as stern as Moore was cheeky. Craig’s Bonds (and the Jason Bourne movies that helped inspire their solemn tone) have been so hugely successful, that there is an assumption that over-the-top spy movies like Moore’s wouldn’t work in 2015. ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ proves they can.

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Category: movie reviews
Project Almanac 1
Paramount
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‘Project Almanac’ Review: Found Footage Goes Back to the Future

Woe be unto humanity if teenagers discover time travel. That’s the main takeaway from the entertaining new found-footage thriller ‘Project Almanac,’ in which a quintet of adolescents find a time machine, and do exactly what a bunch of adolescents would do if they found a time machine: Party, prank, and screw around with no thought to the consequences of their actions. These kids know and cite ‘Looper’ and ‘The Terminator,’ but the movie they should have paid attention to was ‘The Butterfly Effect,’ because they seem caught off-guard when their innocent misadventures in the timestream begin to ripple out in dangerous ways.

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Category: movie reviews
American Sniper cooper
Warner Bros.
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‘American Sniper’ Review: Clint Eastwood’s Aim Is Off With This Disappointing War Film

I wonder if Chris Kyle was a Clint Eastwood fan. ‘American Sniper’’s marketing materials describe Kyle as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” but before his military career, Kyle was a cowboy. He wore a hat and boots, and even carried a six-shooter. Eventually, he gave up the cowboy life and decided to serve his country. He was a gifted marksman and trained to be a Navy SEAL. But even as a soldier, Kyle never lost that cowboy swagger—or that sense that someone has to venture out into the frontier and protect the American way of life. That’s what Kyle learned from his father—who raised him to be a “sheepdog,” a watchful protector in a world of sheep and wolves—and from watching violent Westerns like the ones that made Eastwood a major Hollywood star.

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Blackhat Hemsworth
Universal
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‘Blackhat’ Review: The Mann-liest Hacker Movie Ever

On the list of uncinematic activities, computer hacking has to rank near the top, somewhere between small-business accounting and taking a nap. It’s tedious, static, and solitary work, and what little’s interesting about it is largely incomprehensible to those without advanced degrees in computer science. In a lesser filmmaker's hands, a hacker movie like ‘Blackhat’ would be terminally boring. But ‘Blackhat’ is in the hands of Michael Mann, and that means it’s also stylish, moody, and punctuated by intense action scenes.

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The Battle of the Five Armies Bilbo
Warner Bros.
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‘The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies’ Review: Give Me Back My Precious (Time)

Having gone on an unexpected journey and endured the desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson’s bloated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ finally comes to ‘The Battle of the Five Armies,’ which is less of a climax to this trilogy than a distended epilogue. After spending two movies and 330 minutes building up the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) as the ultimate antagonist, he’s eliminated from the story completely in the first ten minutes. He’s literally gone before the title appears onscreen.

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Dumb And Dumber To Jim Carrey bird
Universal
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‘Dumb and Dumber To’ Review

Reunited and it feels so dumb, with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels back as Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne.

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Category: movie reviews
X Men Days of Future Past review
20th Century Fox
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‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ Review: A Time Travel Movie That Somehow Makes Sense

Even though the story behind ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ has been around for 33 years now, the idea of a superhero movie meshed with a movie about time travel seems, let’s say … daunting. Especially for a superhero franchise like X-Men, which is known for having a lot of superheroes.

It’s just that it’s hard enough to make a big-budget superhero movie make sense (as the so very recent ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ taught us) -- and adding the cinematic equivalent of pai gow (at least, nothing confuses me more than pai gow) to this whole equation seemed like kind of a bad idea. I mean, how many time travel movies make sense in the first place, beyond the ‘Back to the Futures’ and the ‘Loopers’ and the ‘Primers’ of the word? And none of those movies have dozens and dozens of mutants to keep track of their whereabouts.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Trailer Final
Sony Pictures
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‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ Review

Most of what I know about complex science comes from comic books, so forgive me if my understanding of quantum mechanics is a little off. But, I think it can mean that particles can exist in two states simultaneously. 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2,' a film loaded with such half-understood notions of difficult scientific concepts, is a quantum movie. It manages to be both awful and entertaining, frequently at the same exact time. The script is ludicrous, even by summer blockbuster standards. The characters behave irrationally and without motivation and the story makes lengthy, frequent pit stops into dull backstory. But, for every moment of tedium and confusion there is a tiny explosion of joy. Director Marc Webb just barely ties this collision of half-baked ideas together in a sticky Spidey bow.

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