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An almost two-hour long showcase for incredible special effects and several thrilling action sequences, "Kong: Skull Island" is an entertaining but ultimately forgettable adventure. There's not much a story behind the gorilla nor those who are trying to hunt him down, which makes the scenes involving the human cast members only tedious to sit through, even with Samuel L. Jackson in full-on "Snakes on a Plane" mode. That being said, when this movie trots out the monsters and has them do battle, the visual splendor is worth the price of admission.
Let's be honest - between the ubiquitous marketing campaign over the last two-or-so months and the fanatic cult popularity of its predecessor, it's easy to see why "Anchorman 2" had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, fans of the original needn't worry: it's not only poignant and at times acidly satirical about the nature of cable news and its motives, it's also really funny. Sure, it's uneven, somewhat juvenile and full of questionable plot developments, but then again, those are all complaints most people had about the first one anyways. "Anchorman 2" knows what it wants to be (read: it knows what its fans want it to be) and never strays too far from the blueprint that helped incorporate "I Love Lamp" into the cultural lexicon. It's kind of like visiting with old friends - Ferrell is at his buffoon-like best as Ron Burgundy, Paul Rudd and Dave Koechner remain obscene yet affable as sidekicks, and Steve Carell once again steals the movie with some of the most off-the-wall one liners of any comedy in the last few years. Kristen Wiig is also screamingly funny as Brick's equally braindead love interest. Just like titular character himself, I won't lie to you: I laughed almost non-stop for this movie's two hour running time. Fans of the original, and zany comedy in general, will most likely do the same.
PS: There's also more celebrity cameos than you can shake a stick at. It's actually impressive to see how many big-name stars McKay and Ferrell were able to coerce into participating in a climactic "battle scene" (those who have seen the original "Anchorman" will know what I'm talking about).
I don't generally dole out five star reviews, but this is movie that deserves any and all accolades it's been getting. "Gravity" is, quite simply, the best space movie ever made and should surface at Oscar time as one of the few truly great achievements this year in cinema. I won't spoil the story for anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of seeing it yet (the trailer gives a nice sense of that already), but I'll point to three things that stand out for me. First, the cinematography, and the design of a lot of long takes, is superlative; the first shot of the movie is unbroken for about twenty minutes. In the middle of space. It's pretty damn incredible. The special effects, working in tandem, are also some of the best ever seen on the big screen. Cuaron and his post-production staff have made it seem that you're actually floating in space all with the characters, instead of witnessing something you consciously recognize as above-average CGI work. Finally, there's Sandra Bullock's performance. Not only is it the best performance of her career, but it's most likely the best performance of any actress this calender year. The emotional affect she's able to communicate through breathing and the slightest of facial movements is so focused and intense I forgot this was the same woman who used to be shamed among movie pundits for her choice in disastrous rom-com roles. I'll be shocked if she doesn't win the Oscar for Best Actress. But enough reading - you owe it to yourself to see this on the biggest screen you can find. And yes, see it in 3D. And prepare to be amazed.