Tom Hiddleston

Kong delivers without monkeying around.

This guy really needs to hold on tighter.

I’ll admit that I was more than skeptical when Kong: Skull Island was first announced. A new King Kong movie, really? Peter Jackson’s 2005 version still felt fresh in my mind, perhaps because it’s been playing on TV so often. But Kong: Skull Island was supposedly a different type of Kong movie. It was gonna be more modern, more action-oriented, and part of a larger monster movie series (see MonsterVerse). That all sounded nice and dandy but I wasn’t going to believe it until I saw it. Then, I saw it. I saw it in IMAX 3D. And whaddya know, it’s really good. Kong: Skull Island delivers just about everything you’d expect from its marketing campaign and PR promises. The action is exciting, the special effects are fantastic, the acting is non-distractingly serviceable, and there’s nothing else to it. As pure cinematic escapism, Kong: Skull Island reigns king. 

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All brawn and little brain, but still…all brawn, glorious BRAWN!

Thor readies himself for action.

Thor readies himself for action.

Kenneth Branagh, who directed the first Thor movie, stepped down from the director’s chair and left it to Alan Taylor, who has quite the resume — including credits directing episodes of Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and The Sopranos.  Thor: The Dark World is therefore very well directed; the action scenes are easy to follow and filled to the brim with marvelous visuals.  There’s nothing technically problematic about Thor: The Dark World, either.  All the pieces fall into place to create a very fun superhero tale.  But what’s missing is that extra uniqueness that made Thor a surprising success.  Chris Hemsworth as Thor was definitely part of that box office attraction, but, in my opinion, Branagh’s handling of Shakespearean themes (familial betrayals and royal tensions) helped Thor really separate itself from the rest of the superhero fare.  Thor: The Dark World lacks that maturity.  Instead, this film relies on explosive adventure and playful Whedon-esque humor to carry the full load.  It succeeds at the blockbuster surface level, but it fails to carry over its predecessor’s dramatic character arcs (except for Loki – -as always… damn, Tom Hiddleston is good.)

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Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson in THE AVENGERS

starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow

written by: Joss Whedon (story and screenplay), Zak Penn (story)

directed by: Joss Whedon

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference

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Sarah Jessica Parker and Jeremy Irvine in WAR HORSE

War Horse

starring: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, Tom Hiddleston, David Kross, David Thewlis

written by: Lee Hall and Richard Curtis

directed by: Steven Spielberg

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence.

The Adventures of Tintin

starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost

written by: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish

directed by: Steven Spielberg

MPAA: Rated PG for adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking.

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