Screened Out – Captain America: Civil War

By : Stephen Miller
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Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Brühl, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Chadwick Boseman, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, William Hurt, Viola Davis

Captain America: Civil War recognizes human loss. That’s a wonderful thing. Now we don’t just see empty cities crumble and cars explode. We know there is death – real and painful human collateral – as these heroes fight to save the Earth. This moral conundrum launches a war among The Avengers. It’s a painful a battle that pits onetime friends and compatriots against each other.

The Russo brothers – the directors behind Captain America: Winter Soldier – have the fighting, explosions, and entertainment. Yet much of Civil War isn’t repeated special effects. Mixed in are actually dialogue-heavy scenes. In fact, these are well written, clever scenes of a good length that help embellish character. Somehow, the Russos built on the convoluted mess of Age of Ultron. From that, they made a film that’s actually worth discussing.

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Screened Out – I Saw the Light

By : Stephen Miller
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Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Cherry Jones

I Saw the Light opens April 1.

There’s a fascinating question anyone who knows of Hank Williams asks. How did this small-town Alabama boy create so many songs that influence country music still today? This disorganized, two-hour biopic doesn’t answer that. It concentrates on the non-musical parts.

Writer Marc Abraham (Flash of Genius) fumbles his first time directing. Instead of the influences that shaped the artist, Abraham shows us the philandering, the drugs, the booze, and the dull stuff. Williams’ life was a typical country song, but that’s a boring film. How exactly he turned that messy life into memorable tunes remains a mystery.

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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 – Godzilla

By : Stephen Miller
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Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe

Let’s face it – the only reason we go to see a Godzilla film is that we want to see mass destruction! In Godzilla’s sixtieth year in the cinema, his story is a well-trampled path, but bring it on! We all want to have things set up so they can be spectacularly laid to waste – by aliens, by huge monsters, whatever – as long as very little is left standing at the end!

This twenty-eighth Godzilla film starts with a couple semi-dramatic beginnings – a creepy archeological dig in the Philippines in 1995, a nuclear facility meltdown in 1999. Then the dust settles for some small-scale soap opera with nuclear scientists Cranston guilt-tripping his bomb expert son Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass). Sonny boy gives it right back; he’d rather not be near daddy’s nuclear reactors, which are like a buffet for these giant lizards. The kid would rather quietly settle in San Francisco, where nothing bad could ever possibly happen.

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