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 Martian

By : Stephen Miller
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Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Aksel Hennie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Glover

Visually stunning, intellectually intriguing, and emotionally charged, The Martian is a fiercely appealing story of survival. It’s also director Ridley Scott return to form – jettisoning gravitas for entertainment, injecting heart into his pictures again.

It’s all based on Andy Weir’s wonderful best-selling novel. This is the type of adaptation authors probably pray for – smart, tight, and full of life, energy, tension, and humor.

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Screened Out – The Diary of a Teenage Girl

By : Stephen Miller
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Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgård, Chris Meloni

Despite some amazingly strong performances, a nail-biting premise, and a nifty, bohemian ‘70s style, Diary isn’t totally satisfying.

A general audience will feel like this movie is lasses-faire with the repulsive subject of pedophilia. Art film aficionados – especially people who love the daring, disgusting 2002 graphic novel this was based on – will feel the filmmakers didn’t push far enough. To avoid making a flick only strong-hearted film snobs would pay money for, Diary softens its subject and avoids the messier stuff. It refuses to take a stand – either shock the audience or present pleasant, moralizing entertainment.

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Screened Out – How to Train Your Dragon 2

By : Stephen Miller
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Voices of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchet, Djimon Honsou, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig

Let me start by saying – though this film is much, much darker than the slightly grim original – I still desperately want a pet dragon. That’s the magic of both stories; for children and adults alike, these animated wonders stir the imagination. HtTYD1 & 2 both possess fully realized worlds with engaging characters, stunning artwork, tight story arc, complex theme, and real emotion.

Thin, geeky Hiccup (Baruchel) and his lovely, playful dragon Toothless are now five years older. Muscle-bound Papa Stoick (Butler) is still the chief of their dragon-friendly Viking village Berk, but he knows he cannot lead forever. After Hiccup’s bravery bringing peace and cohabitation between the beasts and humans, his dad thinks Hiccup would make a perfect successor. Stoick deems it so, should he die.

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