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Vacation group shot
New Line
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‘Vacation’ Review: This Sad Sequel Truly Is a Road Trip from Hell

Full disclosure: I missed the last 10 minutes of Vacation. Last night’s press screening started 20 minutes late, then began without any sound, which lead to a 10 minute delay to correct the technical difficulties. With an unbreakable engagement elsewhere, I had to sneak out right before the very last scene. So take this review with as many grains of salt as you’d like. If you think those final minutes might recontextualize everything that came before to transform a generally miserable comedy into a beacon of transcendent hilarity, so be it. Having sat through the previous 90 minutes, I’m of the opinion that nothing short of the long-lost missing footage from Orson Welles’ Magnificent Ambersons could have redeemed this dreadful film.

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Magic Mike XXL review
Warner Bros.
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‘Magic Mike XXL’ Review: Just Like Riding a Pony

Magic Mike was a movie about strippers trying to make ends meet in the midst of the Great Recession, the difficulty of modern romance, and the dangers of drug use. Magic Mike XXL is a movie about strippers stripping. And not a whole lot else.

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Inside Out
Pixar
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‘Inside Out’ Review: A New Pixar Masterpiece

It’s been at least five years since the last great Pixar film (or more, depending on your feelings about Toy Story 3). In the interim, they produced a series of sequels — some quite entertaining, but few as transcendently beautiful as the original concepts that turned the studio into the most dependable brand in all of Hollywood. Their latest effort, Inside Out, isn’t just a return to form; it surpasses almost all of their previous classics. It is, from start to finish, one of the best films Pixar has ever made.

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Universal
Universal
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Weekend Box Office Report: ‘Jurassic World’ Has the Biggest Opening of All Time

Everyone knew that Jurassic World was going to open big, but no one saw this coming. The fourth film in the beloved dinosaur-centric franchise had the second biggest domestic opening of all time, the biggest June opening of all time, and, with $511 million worldwide, the biggest international opening of all time. It also broke a bunch of records that we’ll get to in a few minutes. This was supposed to be the summer of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Unless something goes horribly wrong, this is officially the summer of Jurassic World.

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jurassic-park-review-pic
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‘Jurassic World’ Review: The Park Is Open and Full of Dumb People

When all you care about is money, bad things happen. That’s the message of Jurassic World, where greedy theme-park executives hoping to spike attendance engineer the “Indominus Rex,” a genetically-modified dinosaur that immediately turns on its creators and runs amok. Designed as a cautionary tale about the dangers of building a meaner, badder monster purely for the sake of profits, Jurassic World works equally well as a cautionary tale about doing the same thing in movies. All of the rationalizations provided by Jurassic World’s employees — “Consumers want them bigger, louder, more teeth.” “Somebody’s gotta make sure this company has a future!” — could have been taken directly out of the mouths of the studio executives who approved this gene splice of a reboot and a sequel. Their creation — the Indominus or the movie, there’s basically no difference — is as advertised; huge, mean, and visually striking. But this experiment is not without consequences.

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Spy Melissa McCarthy
20th Century Fox
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‘Spy’ Review: An Empowering but Uneven Female Spy Spoof

Paul Feig’s The Heat took a genre that has traditionally belonged to men — the buddy cop movie — and gave it a female twist. Feig’s new movie, Spy, does much the same thing, this time for spy films, a world that has long been by, about, and for dudes and their power fantasies. Spy explicitly subverts the genre’s typical gender dynamics by casting Melissa McCarthy as a lowly, desk-bound CIA analyst named Susan Cooper, who has spent her entire career in the shadow of a glamorous James Bond-esque spy (Jude Law) and then finally gets her opportunity to step into the spotlight and become a full-fledged field agent.

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San Andreas 1
Warner Bros.
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‘San Andreas’ Review: Seek Cover From This Dumb Disaster Movie

The classics of this genre featured danger and destruction on a scale a guy could wrap his head around; a hijacked airplane, a skyscraper on fire, a capsized ocean liner filling with water. But when you live by spectacle, you die by it too. And so the disasters got bigger and bigger, one movie trying to top the next, until it became an arms race of planetary devastation. One movie blows up the White House, the next one washes it away in a tidal wave. Where do you go from there? An exploding tidal wave? At this point, if your disaster movie isn’t eradicating a large portion of the globe, don’t even waste your time.

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Cinderella review
Walt Disney Pictures
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‘Cinderella’ Review: This Old Fairy Tale Still Has Some Magic

The name “Disney” brings to mind images of fair princesses, charming princes, magical fairy tales, and simple happily ever afters. In recent years, though, Disney has begun rethinking their classic properties, and releasing more thematically complex versions of their famous films. Sleeping Beauty became Maleficent, which turned a wicked witch into a sympathetic anti-hero; a whole mess of fairy tales turned into Into the Woods, where happily ever after preceded a whole bunch of death and tragedy. The ranks of Disney Princesses grew to include women like Merida, the bow-slinging heroine of Brave, and Anna and Else from Frozen, who rescued each other from an prince, rather than the other way around. Every value and concept that Disney had established and reinforced through decades of repetition was seemingly up for reconsideration and revision.

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The Lazarus Effect
Relativity
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‘The Lazarus Effect’ Review: This Resurrection Horror Thriller Should Have Stayed Dead

How many times in your life have you snuck up on someone and scared them? Three, maybe four times? The Lazarus Effect is the kind of horror movie where people do that constantly. It’s basically their standard greeting; instead of “Hello!” they jump on people from behind, sometimes while wearing pig masks. It doesn’t make much sense, but they’re not doing it because it’s logical — they’re doing it because this is a bargain basement horror film and you take the scares wherever you can get them.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service
20th Century Fox
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‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ Review: The Goofy James Bond Throwback You Didn’t Know You Needed

For decades, people have made fun of Roger Moore. Moore starred in more James Bond movies than anyone else, but his entire twelve-year, seven-film run is widely regarded today as a goofy, cartoonish disaster. After Moore retired from the role following 1985’s ‘A View to a Kill,’ the Bond franchise refocused, growing darker and more serious. Now 007 belongs to Daniel Craig, who’s as stern as Moore was cheeky. Craig’s Bonds (and the Jason Bourne movies that helped inspire their solemn tone) have been so hugely successful, that there is an assumption that over-the-top spy movies like Moore’s wouldn’t work in 2015. ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ proves they can.

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Fifty Shades of Grey
Universal
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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Review: A Vanilla Movie About Kinky Sex

Christian Grey is an unusual guy. He’s the world’s most eligible billionaire bachelor and an enormously powerful businessman. He’s an avid jogger, an exceptional piano player, and a licensed helicopter pilot. He also really like the color gray. He wears gray suits and ties, drives a gray car to his gray office building (which is called Grey House) under gray Seattle skies, where his assistant dresses in—you guessed it—gray. (For the record, his office chairs are white but the couches are gray too.) And, oh yeah, he’s into kinky sex, including bondage, spanking, and domination.

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Jupiter Ascending
Warner Bros.
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‘Jupiter Ascending’ Review: The Wachowskis Descend Into Sci-Fi Silliness

Episode 415 of ‘Seinfeld’ was called “The Movie,” and it ended with Jerry delivering a monologue about the guy in every group of friends who can’t follow the plots of films and invariably spends them whispering confused questions to their seatmates (“Why did they kill that guy? I thought he was with them? Wasn't he with them? Why would they kill him if he was with them? Oh, he wasn't with them. It's a good thing they killed him!”) ‘Jupiter Ascending’ turned me into that guy. If you can explain the plot of this baffling movie in all of its intricacies, you are either a genius or one of the Wachowskis who wrote and directed it. It’s hard to believe that a movie that contains this much exposition could also be this confusing, but it does and it is. Something went horribly wrong here.

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