Kenneth Branagh's Thor had a certain playfulness that pitted the ultra-serious world of Asgard, land of the Norse gods, against 21st-century USA. Now director Alan Taylor has taken the reins of the franchise and, with Thor: The Dark World, drains the fun from it.
The story is the time-honored trope of the martial artist who must decide between selling his abilities for money or using them to pursue spiritual goals. Can he find his way back to his own values once he's gone over to the dark side of raw capitalism?
I heard a lot of critics sniff at the inclusion of Richard Curtis' About Time in this year's New York Film Festival. The same cadre, no doubt, uses Curtis' Love, Actually as an example of what's wrong with romantic comedy.
You could think of Aftermath as a Polish version of 12 Years a Slave: a film that exhumes a shameful chapter in its nation's history which some people would just as soon leave buried, rather than confront.
Ridley Scott is one of those overrated directors who, every once in a while, puts together a hard-edged, lean little film that just delivers the goods. The Counselor, unfortunately, isn't one of those efforts.
We are in the midst of a bumper crop of bio-docs: documentaries focused on single figures who have wound up on the wrong side of history and who seemingly want the chance to get their side of the story on the record.
Bookstores are dying, reading scores are plummeting and the quality of entertainment sinks like a stone, weighed down by the receding interest of Gen-X and millennial audiences in any form of entertainment that takes too long to watch or too much attention to absorb.
Machete, which turned veteran character actor Danny Trejo into a leading man, was a wild and wildly violent action-comedy, a spoof of exploitation films of the 1970s. So, obviously, is Machete Kills. How much of a spoof?
Based on the title character's book recalling the 2009 incident -- in which an American cargo vessel in the Indian Ocean was captured by four Somali pirates -- Captain Phillips puts you right in the middle of the action and never lets you go.