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Captain Phillips review
Sony Pictures
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‘Captain Phillips’ Review

With piracy drama 'Captain Phillips,' Paul Greengrass ('Bloody Sunday,' 'United 93') has defended his ground as the go-to man for tragic, reality-based pressure-cooker films. The dude really knows how to get your palms sweaty, even when you kinda-sorta know how things are going to end up. Note to self: don't take your cargo ship through the Somali Basin if you don't have to.

Greengrass is also the director of the best two 'Bourne' movies ('Supremacy' and 'Ultimatum') and just as Matt Damon glided through those films as the steely, mixed-martial killing machine, Tom Hanks' center-seat performance here is a master class in keeping it cool.

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Machete Kills Review
Open Road Films
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‘Machete Kills’ Review

'Machete Kills,' Robert Rodriguez's follow-up to 2010's 'Machete,' ditches the grindhouse aesthetic and homage, and instead tries to emulate a late-'80s, early-'90s action flick -- basically, Rodriguez made the kind of movie he often makes. The result is an uninspired, joyless and oft-trashy exercise in self-indulgence. Rodriguez has spent his career making films the way he wants in his own backyard, and while you kind of have to admire the audacity of it all, the intent is questionable at best.

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Insidious Chapter 2
FilmDistrict
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‘Insidious Chapter 2′ Review

Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell return to the spooky fun house with 'Insidious Chapter 2,' marking Wan's second horror film release in as many months after this summer's surprise hit 'The Conjuring.' Unfortunately, the sequel gives diminishing returns as the scares are dialed down and the laughs (intentional and unintentional) are cranked way up.

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Category: Movies Reviews
Prisoners review
Warner Bros.
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‘Prisoners’ Review

Here's a tip. If you don't want people to think you are a child molester, pick out different frames than the ones Paul Dano wears in 'Prisoners.'

When neither Jake Gyllenhaal (as Detective Loki - yeah, you read that right) or his CSI crew can find any evidence that suspected molester Dano abducted two little girls that went for an unsupervised walk through a Pennsylvania suburb after Thanksgiving dinner, it's up to one of the two fathers of the girls - Hugh Jackman - to take matters into his own hand...

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Category: Movies Reviews
Riddick review
Universal Pictures
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‘Riddick’ Review

It should have been called ‘No Homo: The Movie.’

Vin Diesel, whose entire career feels like homage to the musclebound machismo of the 1980s, has possibly reached the peak – by which I mean, nadir – of his search for the meaning of virility. ‘Riddick,’ the overdue, and largely unwanted, third installment in Diesel’s first big film series, is so full of tough-guy overcompensation that it makes the ‘Fast and Furious’ movies seem like understated character studies by comparison.

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Category: Movies Reviews
Getaway review
Warner Bros.
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‘Getaway’ Review

It's clear from the start that 'Getaway' is not a good movie. The opening sequence is a mess of different video stocks and flashbacks, an easy tell that a team of editors tore out their hair trying to skip as much boring exposition while leaving the first scenes cogent. But once former race car driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) is behind the wheel of his stolen souped-up vehicle and is receiving crazy, destructive orders from the disembodied voice of Jon Voight, there's at least plenty of smashy-smashy to keep you occupied. The bad guy has some master plan – kidnapping Hawke's wife so that he'll be a mobile slave to his chaotic whims is part of laying the ground work.

But more than seeing traffic destruction on the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria (this month's production location low-bidder) there's a bigger catastrophe. Fifteen minutes into the movie, Selena Gomez shows up.

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Category: Movies Reviews
We're the Millers Review
Warner Bros.
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‘We’re the Millers’ Review

'We're the Millers' is a vexing film. It's just funny enough to keep from being truly bad, but too preposterous and predictable to be anything close to good. For every laugh there's something that will make you want to hurl an object at the screen. When it flubs, it flubs hard, allowing each of the four main characters a chance to embarrass themselves. And yet, if you wait 'til the next scene, there's the possibility that whoever just served up a would-be joke in a humiliating fashion will do something inspired. As such, 'We're the Millers' wins some respect for at least being a very odd moviegoing experience.

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Category: Movies Reviews
Elysium review
Sony Pictures
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‘Elysium’ Review

Here's one of my favorite jokes of all time. There's no punchline, it's just a sentence. "I've been rich and miserable, and I've been poor and miserable. And I'll tell ya: rich is better."

I don't know if this is what director Neill Blomkamp had in mind as the ultimate message of 'Elysium,' his visually stunning follow-up to 'District 9,' but beneath the dazzling spectacle, there isn't much else beyond that aphorism to cling to.

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‘Pacific Rim’ Review

As basically a three-word genre mash-up -- monsters vs. robots -- the announcement that Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures were making 'Pacific Rim' didn't really need to offer much more than just that siren-song simple idea. But it did, promising a big canvas for a big talent, the director Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro isn't a household name -- unless you live in Austin -- but he's the outsized outsider genius behind movies like 'Hellboy' and 'Blade 2' as well as films like 'Pan's Labyrinth' and 'The Devil's Backbone.' And while counting down to 'Pacific Rim,' I had the feeling that while it was nice to have someone spending $200 million to make what my inner 12-year-old would no doubt consider the perfect summer movie, my adult self couldn't help but be suspicious of anyone who'd spend that much money on a pre-teen's idea of the perfect summer movie.

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Category: Movies Reviews
The Lone Ranger review
Walt Disney Pictures
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‘The Lone Ranger’ Review

I loved 'Rango,' the last time Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski offered up a madcap spin on the Western. I basically enjoyed 'John Carter,' last year's Western-infused would-be space epic, which, not coincidentally, was the last time Walt Disney stock holders had to reach for a shaker of Tums.

However, 'The Lone Ranger,' this new spazzed-out Western from Depp, Verbinski and Disney, takes unusual and unlikely measures to ensure that audiences have a miserable time. There are momentary flashes of amusement, but it is jumbled, tone-deaf and uninteresting. If I wanted to be kind I'd call it dull and ephemeral, but there are long stretches that seem to strive to be annoying - almost anti-entertainment. The only thing 'The Lone Ranger' has going for it is a long life as to go-to description how not to make a blockbusters movie - this generation's 'Last Action Hero.'

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White House Down review
Sony Pictures
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‘White House Down’ Review

'White House Down' has the disadvantage of being the second 'Die Hard'-in-the-White-House movie of 2013 after 'Olympus Has Fallen,' and the advantage of being superior to its predecessor in every conceivable way. It's better directed, better written, and better acted. The action is better, with more impressive special effects; the production design is better, with a much more convincing replica of the White House; the camerawork is better; with clear, lucid images. Where 'Olympus Has Fallen' was grim and stern, 'White House Down' actually embraces the silliness of its premise. It's more exciting and more faithful to the 'Die Hard' formula. This is still basically a shameless ripoff popcorn movie, but it's a shameless ripoff popcorn movie popped to near-perfection.

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Category: Movies Reviews
World War Z Review
Paramount
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‘World War Z’ Review

The title is 'World War Z,' but I can think up two other letters: "O" and "K."

'World War Z' is okay because it zips along with the fury of a computer-generated cascade of fast zombies. 'World War Z' is okay because Brad Pitt is a great leading man, even if his character has no depth. 'World War Z' is okay because there is always a fatalistic draw to see our social order tumble and great cities reduced to cinders.

It is also, unfortunately, merely okay because there's nothing in this movie you haven't seen before.

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