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  • Avengers: Age of Ultron

    Avengers: Age of Ultron

    ★★★

    There's some stuff in this film I really like (including the "I Got No Strings" schtick by Spader, and The Vision character) -- it's a Whedon movie through and through, tone-wise -- but also might be one of the least emotionally affecting films in the MCU.

    Its main problem (aside from eye candy like the opening fight sequence, which feels almost like a cliche of itself) is mainly how scattershot/disjointed it can feel. Scarlet Witch's powers (different than the comic,…

  • A Monster Calls

    A Monster Calls

    ★★★★½

    My thoughts haven’t really changed much since the first viewing, although I think now having seen Bayona tackle dinosaurs in “JP: Fallen World,” I have to say that his emotional sensibilities + cinematic chiaroscuro really don’t contribute much to the action picture genre (unless he gets better writers) but really thrives in terms of nuanced exploration of internal dramatic landscapes projected on outer reality. Coupled with Velasquez, “A Monster Calls” seems a story that better gels with his natural gifts.…

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  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    ★★★★

    Whether the reverberations of Lucas' first trilogy here are viewed as a homage and bridge between the old and new or as a lack of imagination will depend on one's personal tastes and the long-term intentions of the creative staff.

    There is a LOT of "The Force Awakens" that echoed things we've seen before. Some of the settings seem awfully familiar even if given other names, and from a high-concept level there's not much of a plot (First Order AKA…

  • Army of Darkness

    Army of Darkness

    ★★★★

    ... and yet another jump in Raimi's comedy-horror. Army of Darkness actually has a script and a plot, even if it's rather uncomplicated -- get the book, stop the army, get sent back to one's own time. Maybe the best way to summarize it is to say Army of Darkness actually has a story versus a handful of funny incidents, and all the actions and humor is in service to the story. Raimi also improves on his ability to pace…