Screened Out – Ghostbusters

By : Stephen Miller
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Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey

From the get-go, this reboot of the original Ghostbusters faced questions of legitimacy. The ‘80s classic – though not perfect – is so well loved. The other, uglier spirit haunting this relaunch was the sexist question as to whether female comics could carry the franchise as well as the males did in the first. (We’ll pretend the late-’80s sequel doesn’t exist…)

Well, fear not the unknown, people. The women are wonderful. (Apparently you don’t need a penis to be funny…). Also, the last 45 minutes of this film are excellent. The scenes leading up to the big finale, though, are wispy and dismissible.

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Screened Out – The Huntsman: Winter’s War

By : Stephen Miller
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Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Nick Frost, Liam Neeson

Given that these movies are really only about effects, costumes, and fights – not good, solid, emotional storytelling – Winter’s War could’ve been worse. It also could’ve been much, much better.

Let’s start with the fact that everything is motivated when an ice queen, Freya (Blunt), bans love. She can control the weather (like Ice Man meets Game of Thrones) but she’s pretty stupid when it comes to human nature. She may steal people’s children and raise them as her own – into super-soldiers – but her ideas are so flimsy and her character so flat that even her subjects must laugh behind her neurotic back.

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Screened Out – In the Heart of the Sea

By : Stephen Miller
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Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Ben Wishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Charlotte Riley, Tom Holland

Captain Ahab made some bad choices in relentlessly pursuing that notorious white whale. Ron Howard made some bad choices in his filming of the “real” story behind Moby Dick.

It’s not that ITHOTS is a bad film, per se. In fact, many a casual filmgoer will like it. Unfortunately, filmmaking is about making decisions, and a good many of them here don’t make any sense whatsoever. When looking for specificity in moviemaking, you will find a lot lacking in Howard’s approach.

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Screened Out – Avengers: Age of Ultron

By : Stephen Miller
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Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Edris Elba, Andy Serkis, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Voice of James Spader

The only thing that will save many, many a comic book fan from hating my guts is that this film is going to make a kabillion dollars. Nothing I say will stop that. These fans will use the box office as some sort of rebuke when I state that Age of Ultron isn’t very cohesive, intelligent, or engaging at all. Sure, this flick has lots of fights and explosions, beautiful people in tight costumes, and a few cute lines. It’s also bloated, overcrowded, choppy, illogical, and shallow.

In fact, this latest iteration of the Avengers’ world – the seventh film – is damn lucky it has such loyal fans. It’s also fortuitous that most of the other films were much more entertaining than this. Without these previous superpowers behind it, there’s no way Ultron would even make back its $250 million dollar budget.

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Screened Out – Blackhat

By : Stephen Miller
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Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Lehom Wang, Wei Tang

At one point, director Michael Mann seemed unstoppable, with Thief, Heat, Collateral, and The Insider. Miami Vice and this film are doing major damage to his reputation, especially his ability to pick engaging projects. Blackhat is a paranoid techno-babble thriller – purposefully confusing and full of nonsense and dread – barely made better by Mann’s directing.

Some moments – like digital animation of a virus spreading through a computer system – are beyond cheesy. Plot points are ridiculous; if the cyber-terrorists’ overarching plan is correct, they’d never call attention to themselves by first blowing up a Chinese nuclear reactor.

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Screened Out: Rush

By : Stephen Miller
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Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s a movie to get your engines revving.

Formula 1 racing makes NASCAR look idiotic. Instead of a bunch of heavy muscle cars constantly running around in circles, Formula 1 has twists and turns, sex appeal, meticulous engineering, lightning-fast strategy, and adult immaturity with a gloss of worldwide chicness.

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