‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ is possibly the best in the series

‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ continues to up the ante for spectacular set pieces. More importantly, this is the fourth script penned for Tom Cruise by McQuarrie, who understands how to maximize Cruise’s particular skill set. Their collaboration, along with stunning cinematography and a solid supporting cast, makes this, arguably, the most entertaining entry in the series.

A ‘Vacation’ in Hell

It’s taken almost seven months, but one movie has finally emerged from the dreary pack as the worst of 2015. That film is ‘Vacation,’ and it’s absolutely dreadful.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ sacrifices fun for action, with mixed results

The Avengers clicked with both Marvel fans and general audiences because we loved watching these massive egos clash for the first time. It was the perfect blend of action and attitude, and its mastermind, Joss Whedon, was handed the golden ticket to Marvel’s keystone franchise. The long-awaited sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, shows the strain of trying to be bigger-and-better while still indulging the subtle pleasures of its predecessor. It succeeds, just barely, on the strength of a talented cast and our fondness for these characters. Still, it’s a decidedly somber affair that will turn off casual fans, and it stands as the most impersonal, and arguable weakest installment of Marvel’s vaunted “Phase Two.”

‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2’: Because money!!!

“This shit’s pretty flat, bro.” So sayeth the rudest man in the world, who just happened to be sitting behind me at the screening for Hot Tub Time Machine 2. He began the evening sitting in front of me; deliberately stealing a seat marked ‘Studio Representative’ so he could talk to the beautiful publicist. Shockingly, she rebuffed his drunken advances. “Whatever, bro,” he dismissively burped, and then ambled to the seat behind me. Yes, he’s the guy who calls both men and women ‘bro.’ He’s also the guy who talks through the entire movie, eats handfuls of popcorn with his mouth wide open (ostensibly, so he can still breathe), and kicks the back of the seat like a bored child. In other words, he’s the target audience for Hot Tub Time Machine 2. It’s a bad sign, then, that he laughed a grand total of two times during the entire film. That was exactly two more times than I laughed.

‘Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children’ is a muddled but ultimately worthwhile successor

When the teaser for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children first burst upon the scene in the fall of 2003, it would have been a staggering understatement to say fans were excited. In fact, fans of gamings flagship fantasy series were positively chomping at the bit for any new information regarding the sequel. The teaser was sparse but the morsels it did offer gave the public some pretty major bits, such as a recut of Sephiroth burning Nibelheim, shots of Vincent, Barret, and Tifa, and the return of the Turks, all scored to a new version of the iconic One Winged Angel theme from FFVII’s final battle. Was Square setting the bar a bit too high right out of the gate? Just how could they possibly match the insane hype they were already building almost two years prior to release?

‘Dumb and Dumber To’ isn’t too bad

Once upon a time, the Farrelly Brothers constructed sight gags capable of reaching new heights (or depths, as the case may be). Right about the time Brett Favre was murdering comedy in There’s Something About Mary, however, they abandoned their bread and butter in favor of a “comic spaghetti” approach. Meaning, they throw as many gags at the wall as possible and see what sticks. Thanks to the comic chemistry of Carrey and Daniels, Dumb and Dumber To is just sticky enough to justify its existence.

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