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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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HH2
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‘A Haunted House 2′ Review: A Live Blog

'A Haunted House 2' did not screen early for critics. On Thursday, I received an email from my editor suggesting that I pay to see 'A Haunted House 2' at a movie theater on Friday morning. I tried using the "but I haven’t seen the first ‘Haunted House'" excuse, but that seemed to have little to no impact on this request. Who knows? Maybe it’s hilarious? On Friday morning, I purchased a ticked for the 10:45 a.m. screening of 'A Haunted House 2.' While watching, I kept a running diary of the events that transpired. It was a fairly miserable experience. Here’s how all that went:

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Transcendence Trailer
Warner Bros.
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‘Transcendence’ Review

When I was a young man and the Internet was new, I made the same joke every time I dialed-up and heard those dissonant, scratchy tones. “Chhhhhhh-CHHHHHH-Chhhhhh” my modem would bray, and as soon as there was silence I'd turn to whomever was in the room and conspiratorially say, "all right, we're in."

'Transcendence,' the first feature film directed by Christopher Nolan's longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister, is two straight hours of that “all right, we're in,” with (slightly) updated peripherals. Featuring more technobabble than a middling episode of 'Star Trek: Voyager,' Rebecca Hall and Johnny Depp star as husband and wife computer geniuses who, along with artificial intelligence labs across the country, are attacked by a band of “neo-Luddite” terrorists.

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Captain America 2 review
Marvel
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‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review

Whereas Tom Hanks' Captain Phillips talked, finessed, sweated and went into shock to rescue his crew, Chris Evans' Captain America jumps onto a hijacked boat from a helicopter without a parachute. His liberation of a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel captured by international terrorists involves flinging himself across the deck; a human pinball with terrorists as his easily neutralized bumpers. Make that a super-human pinball, because as much as Steve Rogers maintains his golly shucks good nature, he is, after all, a Marvel superhero and he's here to save the day in the most preposterous and camera-ready fashion that's possible. Welcome to 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'.

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Dom Hemingway Review
Fox Searchlight
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‘Dom Hemingway’ Review

The story of ‘Dom Hemingway’ is a familiar enough one – a tough-talking safecracker endures years in jail, thanks to keeping a locked jaw when it comes to the involvement of his mastermind boss, only to be let loose to commit one last job and do right by his family – but Richard Shepard’s energetic and entertaining spin on what could be just another genre picture, along with star Jude Law’s bold and amusing performance as the eponymous antihero, make ‘Dom Hemingway’ a heist film with its own unique heart.

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Category: movie reviews

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