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War & Animal Companionship in ‘Megan Leavey’

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(2017—Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite) High ★★★ (out of 5 stars) At first glance, combining the friendship of a human and a dog with the harsh realities of war end up manipulating the emotions in an unnatural way. Fortunately, the true story of Megan Leavey and her war dog Rex steers clear of sentimental overload. Their chemistry matches …

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‘Wonder Woman’ Resuscitates the DC Extended Universe

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(2017—Director: Patty Jenkins) ★★★ 1/2 (out of 5 stars) In 2016, Warner Bros. released Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (BVS) and Suicide Squad to get the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) underway. An intense storm of division between audiences and critics followed both films. Great pressure began to precede the next DCEU installment—the solo debut …

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‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’—A Rough But Overall Positive U-Turn for the Franchise

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(2017—Directors: Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg) Low ★★★ (out of 5 stars) Six years removed from the last installment of Pirates of the Caribbean and with another directorial shift (this time to the directorial team behind the 2012 Oscar-nominated historical drama Kon-Tiki), Disney, Johnny Depp, and company return for the fifth time to this fantasy swashbuckling …

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‘Alien: Covenant’—Michael Fassbender(s) Steals the Show

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(2017—Director: Ridley Scott) ★★★ 1/2  (out of 5 stars) (Potential spoilers below) 2017 marks the fortieth year in the career of celebrated director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, The Martian). Scott at the moment appears to devote the majority of his interests and seasoned talents in returning to the roots of Alien, his 1979 commercial …

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‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’—Legend Meets Excessive Style

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(2017—Director: Guy Ritchie) ★★ 1/2 (out of 5 stars) Director Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) tends to emphasize style over substance in his films. This remains the case with his latest work—Warner Bros.’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Ritchie tries to combine the classical nature of Arthurian legends with his trademark …

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’: A Spirited Comic Book Sequel

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(2017—Director: James Gunn) ★★★ 1/2  (out of 5 stars) The first Guardians of the Galaxy came out in August of 2014. It surprised many with its playful tone and the charisma of its ensemble. With James Gunn returning to write and direct, the sequel (subtitled Vol. 2) delivers the same characters and amps up the …

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The Perils of Corporate Omniscience: The Circle Review

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(2017—Director: James Ponsoldt) ★★ (out of 5 stars) One of The Circle’s first trailers, released last December, starts off with a modified version of the scene in which Emma Watson’s character undergoes an interview for a job at the titular Internet corporation. The interviewer presses her, “You’re most scared of…?” to which she replies, “Unfulfilled …

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Love in the Time of Genocide: ‘The Promise’ Review

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(2017—Director: Terry George) ★★★ (out of 5 stars) For much of his career, Irish writer-director Terry George drew from his experiences of the Irish “Troubles” to craft absorbing tales of perseverance in an oppressive landscape. This ranges from Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite getting framed and imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit in 1993’s …

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The Challenges of Parenthood: ‘Gifted’ Review

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(2017—Director: Marc Webb) ★★★ (out of 5 stars)   Parenthood is difficult, especially on where a parent should steer their young children, given the talents they have begun to show. Do parents raise their children in a conventional way or do they throttle them towards the first talent they recognize or one that runs in …

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A Pleasant Surprise: ‘The Case for Christ’ Stands out Among Christian Films

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(2017—Director: Jon Gunn) ★★★ (out of 5 stars) Preachy, typically fideistic stories with unrestrained acting and incompetent filmmaking are often the norms in Christian films. As such, they easily become the fodder of mainstream and high-brow filmgoers, discouraging Christians worldwide. Fortunately, this is mostly not the case with The Case for Christ, a biographical drama about …