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Making Dallas Even Better

In Ridley Scott’s Thrilling The Martian, Science Is a Superhero

Facing the prospect of dying of starvation on another planet, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) explains his far-fetched survival plan in a video log entry: “I am going to have to science the shit out of this.”

That single line encapsulates both the intellectual bent and winning humor of The Martian. Director Ridley Scott’s highly entertaining film revels in the pleasures of watching brilliant minds craft solutions to seemingly impossible problems. Rarely has math looked so heroic — or been so much fun.

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Sicario Descends Into the Moral Chaos of the Drug Wars

In the parlance of the unwinnable war raging along the bloody borderlands of the U.S. and Mexico, “sicario” means “hitman,” a profession in high demand among the nihilistic drug cartels and — in a sure sign of a battle with no moral victor — the government operatives tasked with fighting them in this grim thriller, one of the year’s best films.

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It Has Potential, But The Intern Needs Some Work

On the surface, the concept at the heart of The Intern seems like a sensible experiment — hiring retirees as interns at trendy high-tech firms for their old-fashioned business expertise. Yet such an idea also seems implausible in today’s corporate environment, and that’s something to which this workplace comedy seems completely oblivious, even if its […]

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Emmerich’s Stonewall Doesn’t Set the Bar Very High

Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster movie wasn’t intended to be that way. The filmmaker known for Hollywood blockbusters such as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow eschews his usual explosions and visual effects in Stonewall, which aspires to be a heartfelt coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the gay-rights movement in New York during […]

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Despite Some Laughs, Sleeping With Other People Has a Fear of Commitment

Taking a slightly more scenic route down a generally familiar path, Sleeping With Other People is marginally more inspired and original than most other raunchy romantic comedies these days, but not in a way that makes a lasting impact next to its genre predecessors. Several one-liners in hit the mark, although the acerbic screenplay by […]

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Black Mass Is a Boston Crime Story We’ve Seen Before

“Truth is stranger than fiction” is an idea to which I’ve never subscribed. I assume that those who believe it to be a truism simply haven’t read enough great stories in their lives. Case in point: Black Mass, which is based on a book about the real-life dealings of FBI Agent John Connolly with Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger.

Much of the trouble for director Scott Cooper’s adaptation is that Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning 2006 film The Departed fictionalized several of the key elements of the Bulger story, kicking up the double-crossing several notches. By comparison Black Mass is flat and lifeless.

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As Chess Movies Go, Pawn Sacrifice Is Kind of a Rook

Cue the chess puns and metaphors all you want, but Pawn Sacrifice is more about what happens off the board than on it. Sure, it’s a fairly straightforward chronicle of the classic 1972 world championship chess match between American prodigy Bobby Fischer and Russian nemesis Boris Spassky. But underneath the surface, this mix of biopic […]

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Shyamalan Overstays His Welcome During The Visit

The answer: Found-footage horror flicks and M. Night Shyamalan. The question: What was popular at the movies more than a decade ago and has strained to keep its relevance since then? Indeed, the combination of filmmaker and technique doesn’t pay dividends in The Visit, a low-budget mix of frights and laughs that fails to be […]

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