movie review

What a throwback in time—literally as one of filmdom’s most awesome monsters is resurrected for what is a fresh take on a timeworn genre. King Kong, or just Kong here, has been around since the silent films, but just when you think you’ve seen it all, the fog bank enshrouding Skull Island parts and the fun begins.

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‘Logan’

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart

Directed by: James Mangold

Rated: R

 

This franchise might be aging, but don’t count it out. At least, not with this installment that is equal parts brutal and poignant to the point that, hold on, tears might be shed. Fair warning, X-Men fans.

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That’s a wrap, although not without an unprecedented bit of controversy when the wrong envelope was, well … if you don’t know by now. Then you probably don’t care. Let’s just say it was a moment that will live on in Oscar history for all the wrong reasons. To recap: Casey Affleck, despite some last minute scandals involving sexual harassment suits, held off Denzel Washington in the Best Actor category. The other big ones went as predicted, right up to “La La Land” being announced as Best Picture.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for me, anyway. Not the Christmas holidays, but the annual Oscar ceremony coming up this Sunday, Feb. 26, on ABC beginning at 6 p.m. Year after year, I hang in there through the bloated three-hour-plus running time filled with superfluous silliness while celebrities in their designer gowns and tuxedos suck up to one another as the precious gold statuettes are doled out.

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Peter Berg, the director and one of the writers of this film, seems drawn to tough, real subject matter. In a short time, he’s put out the war story “Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon” about the BP oil spill in the Gulf, and now this, which is a ripping, tense account of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013.

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If I want to indulge in some Christmas treats, I’d prefer the real thing over this treacle. It’s like having high fructose corn syrup via an IV. Unpleasant, and, definitely not good for you. This movie shamelessly tugs at your heart, something it has no business doing, even if Will Smith is trying for an Oscar nomination — again. So, fair warning: I’m about to go all Ebenezer Scrooge on this one.

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Recalling that J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series became darker and darker as the sequels wore on, don’t be surprised if you find that same element in this latest, promising new world created by the famed author. Directed by David Yates (who directed the last four “Potter” movies), this is Rowling’s first screenplay, and its flaws can’t override that these “Beasts” and their collector, Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) will have a lengthy run as at least three or four more films are in the works.

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Director Denis Villeneuve heads for the stars after the drug-fueled border wars of “Sicario” early this year. Even that movie, filled with violence and an unrelenting tension, was in its own way understated, a hallmark of this director’s style. So, too, is “Arrival,” a thoughtful, almost meditative movie that is as much about the limitations of the heart as it is about the outer limits.

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From the sublime “Sully” to the idiotic “Inferno,” it just proves that when Tom Hanks is good, he’s very good. But when he’s not, well, he’s usually playing super sleuth Robert Langdon, the hero of Dan Brown’s bestselling novels.

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This movie has already had the misfortune of serious bout of trailer fatigue. I can’t recall sitting through movie previews in the last three months and not seeing this one. And, no surprise, the two-hour version isn’t any better than the two-minute version. I leave my opinion about trailers on the cutting room floor for now, so let’s get back to the Joneses, which begs another question: Why do the couple in question always have to be named Jones?

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