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Avengers 2 review
Marvel
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‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Review: Joss Whedon Assembles an Inspiring Blockbuster

There’s a lot to like about Avengers: Age of Ultron, but the coolest thing about it is the way it reclaims the comic book part of the phrase “comic-book movie.” Rather than using these characters to do something “edgy” or “adult” or “important,” or sanding down their quirkier edges to appeal to as broad and mainstream an audience as possible, Age of Ultron doubles down on its source material’s geeky origins.

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Cinderella review
Walt Disney Pictures
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‘Cinderella’ Review: This Old Fairy Tale Still Has Some Magic

The name “Disney” brings to mind images of fair princesses, charming princes, magical fairy tales, and simple happily ever afters. In recent years, though, Disney has begun rethinking their classic properties, and releasing more thematically complex versions of their famous films. Sleeping Beauty became Maleficent, which turned a wicked witch into a sympathetic anti-hero; a whole mess of fairy tales turned into Into the Woods, where happily ever after preceded a whole bunch of death and tragedy. The ranks of Disney Princesses grew to include women like Merida, the bow-slinging heroine of Brave, and Anna and Else from Frozen, who rescued each other from an prince, rather than the other way around. Every value and concept that Disney had established and reinforced through decades of repetition was seemingly up for reconsideration and revision.

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Category: movie reviews Tags:
Chappie
Columbia
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‘Chappie’ Review: Highly Artificial, Limited Intelligence

The technology in Neil Blomkamp’s movies is so fully realized and intricately detailed that it feels like another one of his characters. Now Blomkamp’s made Chappie, a film where that’s literally true in the form of a police robot given the gift of human consciousness. The result is one giant metaphor for itself; a story of the world’s first true artificial intelligence and how it is almost corrupted by violence, presented in a movie where any semblance of serious consideration of what it means to be alive is drowned out by gunfire, explosions, and macho posing.

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Category: movie reviews
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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