Author: Beth McDonough

Beth’s Guide to ‘Super’ Dating

Fans of the comic book/superhero genre are bound to be delighted with the spring/summer movie lineup for 2014.  With the likes of Captain America, Spider-man, and Wolverine all headlining the most anticipated movies of the next few months, all of the women out there also have some serious eye candy to look forward to.  Ladies, even if you aren’t digging the superhero genre, please heed my advice and make the trip to the theater just to see these men in tights, literally.  In celebration of this wondrous occasion, I thought it fitting to share with you my own personal...

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Heaven is for Real

Overview: A Nebraska pastor struggles for answers after his son claims he visited heaven during an emergency surgery.  Sony Pictures Entertainment, rated PG, 100 minutes, 2014 Father and Son:  The best scenes in Heaven is for Real are when Colton (Connor Corum) is interacting with his father, Tony Burpo (Greg Kinnear).   After Colton recovers from his surgery and begins to relay some of his experiences in heaven, the roles of father and son begin to reverse.  Pastor Burpo begins to wrestle with his faith as he attempts to answer questions from both believers and doubters, who are all skeptical of his...

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The Wolverine

Overview:  Logan emerges from seclusion to travel to Japan in order to visit a dying man from his past.  2013; 20th Century Fox, rated PG-13; 126 minutes. Wolverine the Weary:  When Wolverine falls for the ladies, he falls hard, and this most recent installment introduces us to a man broken and battered as a result of Jean Grey’s death.  He’s constantly plagued with the visions and guilt left in the wake of his heroic act of putting his great love out of her misery to save the world.  He can’t die, and well, he’s just plain tired of being...

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Noah

Overview: In Hollywood’s latest attempt at a Biblical blockbuster, God spares one family in his decision to destroy the evil of mankind with a flood. Paramount Pictures; 2014; Rated PG-13; 138 minutes. A Tall Order:  Darren Aronofsky was wildly ambitious in recreating this tale.  The Old Testament story of Noah and his ark contains more faith-based and supernatural elements than most Bible parables, and to translate those to film requires a larger-than-life scale.  We’re talking about a guy who builds a gigantic boat that houses two of every animal in existence and a flood sent by the Creator to...

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Divergent

Overview:  In a postwar dystopian America, a teenage girl finds herself being hunted because she is unable to conform to a distinct personality type, a requirement in her faction-based community. Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate; 2014; Rated PG-13; 139 minutes. Who Are You?:  As Tris, Shailene Woodley brings to life a character who has no idea who she really is. Furthermore, Tris discovers that what makes her special is that she doesn’t really have a defined identity at all. Being Divergent means you’re a little bit of everything, or in other words, a well-rounded human being, which is frowned upon in this...

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Veronica Mars

Overview:  Veronica Mars abandons her new job offer at a prestigious law firm in New York to return to Neptune and her knack for sleuthing to help clear her ex-boyfriend’s name. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2014; Rated PG-13; 107 minutes. Return of the Marshmallow: Kristen Bell slips back into the role of Veronica Mars so seamlessly, it’s easy to forget we haven’t seen this character in seven years. Her acting experience since the show only benefited her in this current depiction of the snarky detective. This time around, she adds more depth to all of her usual quips and smirks. Kudos are also due to Enrico Colantoni, who reprised his role as Veronica’s dad Keith Mars, and maintained- even enhanced– our favorite onscreen father/daughter relationship. His struggle between enjoying having his daughter home and simultaneously wanting her far away from the black hole that is Neptune comes across as genuine.  Their playful banter is also a refreshing reminder of one of the best parts of the show. Return of the 09ers: Director Rob Thomas makes us feel like we never left Neptune. Logan in a uniform, Wallace, Mac, Weevil, even Piz. The gang’s all here. The onslaught of returning faces creates a sense of nostalgia all Marshmallows will appreciate.  High school reunion antics relay the well-known message that some people really don’t change in this town, especially in the 0909...

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Elysium

Overview: Matt Damon leads a crusade to the utopian Elysium in order to save himself and share the wealth with those left behind on a polluted, overpopulated Earth. TriStar Pictures; 2013; Rated R; 109 minutes. Identity Crisis: Elysium contains elements that make most movies work. It has a clear plot, star quality, decent action scenes, and a love story. Unfortunately, cramming in all of these elements is also what prevents this movie from being special. I can picture the brainstorming for this movie going something like this: “Hey, let’s have Matt Damon be the hero and battle against ‘the...

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Overview:  Katniss and Peeta are forced back into the thunder dome in the second installment of the Hunger Games franchise.  Lionsgate; 2013;  Rated PG-13; 146 Minutes. Girl on Fire:  2013 was the year of Jennifer Lawrence.  Rather than making the mistake of allowing herself to be defined by a single prominent role, she showed viewers her range immediately by taking on diverse roles between the first and second Hunger Games.   After she earned her respect as an adult actress with her award-winning performance in Silver Linings Playbook, it was hard not to wonder how seamlessly she could dive back into Panem as...

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Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Overview:  In George Lucas’ introduction to the Star Wars universe, an unaware farm boy (Luke Skywalker) reluctantly begins a destined journey to learn the ways of the Force in order to defeat the evil Galactic Empire. 1977; 20th Century Fox; rated PG; 121 minutes. The Beginning Of It All:  The Star Wars franchise has transcended generations of movie making, which is evident in the recent revival of the series as nearly the entire original cast is reuniting for Episode VII.  Although prequels have since been released, this movie is really where it all began.  A New Hope (originally just Star...

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Spider-Man

Overview: In Spider-Man’s big screen debut, a smart but shy high schooler is given great power and great responsibility when he is bitten by a radioactive spider. Columbia Pictures; 2002, Rated PG-13; 121 minutes The Young and the Restless: Spider-Man is unique to the superhero genre primarily because of his youth.  This film frequently reminds us that Peter Parker is really just a kid.  Even though he’s graduating from high school, Parker’s adjustment to his spidey senses and web slinging abilities is reminiscent of struggling through puberty all over again.  Sam Raimi excels in telling the story of Spider-Man’s...

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X-Men

Overview:  Two mutants are brought to an academy for exceptional youngsters and recruited to choose sides between two dissenting opinions on humanity. 2000; 20th Century Fox; Rated PG-13; 104 minutes The Crowd: Singer does an exemplary job of introducing us to a world of superheroes while maintaining the story’s focus and not allowing any one scene to become too crowded. It’s easy to cross into territory where too many characters to keep track of results in apathy toward all of them. X-Men succeeds in providing us with plenty of mutants to quench our superpower thirsts while still keeping the plot...

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The Avengers

Overview: We finally get to see Samuel L. Jackson rock an eye patch for the entire duration of a movie. An A-Team of Marvel superheroes unite to battle Thor’s brother and a horde of aliens; 2012; Rated PG-13; 142 minutes Whedonites Rejoice: Superheroes and Whedon…does it really get any better?  Joss Whedon has a distinct style of writing, full of witty banter, excessive dialogue, and pop culture references.  His proven skill in weaving multiple main characters together to allow each one to shine without letting any scene seem too crowded is well suited for this juggernaut of a movie....

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Argo

Overview: Ben Affleck directs, produces, and stars in a real movie about making a fake movie in his depiction of events that took place during the Iran hostage crisis. Warner Brothers; 2012; Rated R; 120 minutes. Argo Fuck Yourself:  Argo dominated the awards scene and every 2012 end of the year list.  By the time the Oscars rolled around, chances are you felt like you’d been beaten over the head with how great of a year 2012 was for Ben Affleck.  I am not Affleck’s number one fan, so I was annoyed and naturally skeptical when I finally settled...

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Overview:  In the second installment of the Hobbit trilogy, Bilbo, Gandalf the Grey, and their merry band of dwarves continue to face endless obstacles as they journey to reclaim their home, the most daunting of which is a gold digging dragon with some serious anger issues. 2013, Warner Bros. Pictures, rated PG-13, 161 minutes. Living in the Shadows:  Sometimes, I wonder if the reaction to the Hobbit trilogy would be different if it had been released prior to the original Lord of the Rings trilogy.  As I watch these Hobbit films, I can’t help but make mental comparisons along the...

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Overview:   Frodo and Sam are led by an unusual guide while everyone else begins to choose a side and prepare for the inevitable as the battle for Middle Earth continues in the second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  2002, New Line Cinema, rated PG-13, 179 minutes. I remember sitting in the theater watching The Two Towers for the first time like it was yesterday.  Although I enjoyed my first journey to Middle Earth in Fellowship of the Ring, particularly it’s breathtaking visuals and wide array of equally engrossing cast of characters, I wasn’t entirely sold on investing so...

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