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  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    ★★★½

    My worst fears were repeatedly confirmed in the first half hour, a blatant and honestly kind of pathetic fan-service highlight reel of the first film which delivers more of the same, but worse. Much to my surprise and delight, however, once this terribly overlong film got out of its own way, it turned into a fun science-fantasy film, delivering far more pulp-action sensawunda than any Star Wars prequel (or even legacyquel) to date.

    This is possibly the most “comic book”…

  • Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    ★★½

    I remember watching this opening day and liking most of it, the (occasionally literally) maudlin emotional core of it in particular. But I also remember walking home from the theater, winding my way through the paths of Central Park, and struggling to verbalize what I actually enjoyed about the film without heavy caveats. In the end I tapped out a perfunctory one-line review on my phone before I was even out of the park, on the assumption that I’d revisit…

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  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    ★★★½

    Hey. Remember that thing you like? They made more, and they didn’t screw it up this time. They went back to the original recipe.

    Boy, did they ever.

    The Force Awakens doubles down on the series’ talismanic repetition of phrases and situations, to the point that it might as well be a remake of the first film. Unfortunately, it’s a sequel, and the weakest moments in the film are easily those featuring the original trilogy cast. (To be blunt, having…

  • Ex Machina

    Ex Machina

    ★★★★

    A gorgeous display of minimalist style, and minimal substance, in a film as limited as the week-long Turing test that is the basis for its plot.

    I’m an antisocial nerd over-reliant on an inflated measure of my own intellect, who dabbles in non-specific contempt for the human race. The cold and distant aspects of Kubrick or Nolan films are frequently the only things I find tolerable about them. I loved this movie, and I find that disturbing, because it has…