GET OUT

The less said about this, the better (for those who haven’t seen it). I will say it’s crazy, it’s over the top, it’s got twists I didn’t see coming, and even some comic relief. Not your average horror film and well, well, well worth seeing.

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DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

Longtime Ditko fan though I may be, I never got into this comic book. Strange was a total-Ditko creation. Stan Lee came on later. I loved the art but found the stories hokey. Did like this film, though. Some of the effects are mindbending. Cumberbatch brings the right amounts of suavity and arrogance to the character and the pacing kept my finger off the FF button (well, except for the fight scenes). Ditko should have got credit for some of the art direction as well.
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THE MAGNIFICENT 7 (2016)

Okay, the first question is “Why?” The 1960 version, from its iconic cast to its rousing score, is nearly perfect. The remake ups the violence and creates a more politically acceptable villain (i.e., a white businessman instead of a Mexican bandito). Sarsgaard’s villain is a flat, mustache twirling psycho murderer, whereas Eli Wallach’s Calvera was mostly looking to keep his men fed.

But the worst change is making it personal. The charm of the original was that the 7 were dinosaurs with little call for their skills and looking to earn a few bucks. When Calvera captures them, he doesn’t kill them because he’s afraid all their friends will cross the border looking for revenge. The sad irony here is that these guys have no friends up north. All they have are the bonds forged with each other as they worked with the peasants on defense. And lo and behold, they’ve become invested in the village. The remake gives Denzel’s Chisolm a personal reason to gather the 7, which strikes a false note at the end.
Wisely, they kept some of the iconic lines, like, “I have been offered a lot for my work, but never everything.” And “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”

Vincent D’Onofrio (not one of my fave actors, as a rule) is a hoot here; he and Pratt look like they’re enjoying themselves.
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HITMAN – AGENT 47

I never played this videogame so I can’t make comparisons. I like mindless action at times and this had plenty of action with minimal mind. Lots of borrowings from (homages to?) other action films. If you want to feed your eyes while your brain idles in neutral, you could do worse.

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PAN

I’m not saying I enjoyed this simply to be contrarian. I truly did. Perhaps all the bad reviews made me expect a bomb but Pan turned out to be spirited fun. I didn’t recognize Jackman as Blackbeard, nor Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily. One fly in the proverbial ointment was the portrayal of James Hook. I can buy him being a good guy and Peter’s ally in the past (an interesting twist, in fact) but trying to make him an Indiana Jones/Han Solo clone (even down to the nick-of-time return after a supposed desertion) did not work. Wrong actor, perhaps. Too dark for little kids, however.

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THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

I’m not sure why this got such bad reviews. Yes, it has a stereotypical Cold-War plot, but that’s just an excuse to put the characters through their paces. It dances along with some laughs here and there and looks gorgeous (so does Alicia Vikander). A popcorn movie, fer sher. If you demand more from all your movie watching, skip this. If you don’t mind a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously, this is for you.

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