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John Boot

John Boot is the pen name of a conservative writer operating under deep cover in the liberal media.
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Let’s Count Down the Top 9 Must-See Films of the Fall

Friday, September 5th, 2014 - by John Boot

9. Big Hero 6 (Nov. 7)

Disney’s big animated film of the season is a Japanese animation-influenced tale of a boy and his comically inept friend the inflatable robot who form an adorable team of superheroes and save the world. The combo of humor and action looks reminiscent of The Incredibles.

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5 Blockbuster Franchises That Should Learn from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by John Boot

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a darkly thrilling second episode of version 3.0 of the Planet of the Apes saga, a brooding tale about a desperate band of humans who survived a catastrophic plague. They live near a band of wary forest apes who just want to be left alone but are skilled with weapons and are harboring a bad-tempered would-be leader who is itching to start a war. Thanks to excellent special effects, a suspenseful storyline and bold, frightening action scenes, a 46-year-old series is now as fresh as if it had been dreamed up yesterday.

Here’s what some of the less successful blockbuster franchises that have overstayed their welcome could learn by waking up to Dawn.

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5 Lessons Other Blockbusters Should Learn from X-Men: Days of Future Past

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 - by John Boot

1. Time-travel movies are cool.

Jumping around in time creates challenges for screenwriters, but it also opens up more imaginative possibilities. Days of Future Past gets rolling in a nightmare sequence in 2023, when Terminator 2-like shapeshifting robots called Sentinels, created by humans to extinguish mutants, are mopping up a war that has nearly destroyed the planet. Only Wolverine (a character who is ageless, hence played by Hugh Jackman in both eras) has the healing capacity to withstand the bodily stresses of traveling back in time to 1973, to stop Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, in a surprisingly prominent role for the world’s hottest actress) from assassinating the scientist (Peter Dinklage) who invented the Sentinels. She was hoping to stop the Sentinels from coming online in the first place, but the other X-Men decide that her move was counterproductive. The plan is to pacify humanity and prevent all-out war by saving the Dinklage character. 

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5 Lame Superhero Sequels That Should Never Have Been Made

Friday, May 2nd, 2014 - by John Boot

More spandex. More stunts. More destruction. More incredible powers. More yawns. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 wouldn’t live up to its billing even if it were called The Adequate Spider-Man. Thanks to phoned-in, factory-produced efforts like this one, with each new superhero movie, super-fatigue threatens to become a super-serious problem. Here’s a look at the five most superfluous, extraneous, unnecessary superhero movies of the last five years.

1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Andrew Garfield’s cockiness makes you long for the sweetness of Tobey Maguire, and the script doesn’t help him at all by having Spidey issue jocular, punny one-liners as he’s battling goofy villains like Rhino (Paul Giamatti, giving a Nicolas Cage-level tutorial in how to overact), Green Goblin (a completely unscary Dane DeHaan) and the soon-to-be-notorious Electro (Jamie Foxx), a shockingly low-voltage clown who fires electricity out his fingertips. The romance between Peter Park and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, who has the brisk cuteness of a stage brat without ever making the audience fall in love with her) seems forced, and the gigantic special-effects sequences are all bluster and boom, no genuine drama. You’ve seen everything in this movie before. 

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5 Actors With Careers That Are Collapsing

Saturday, April 5th, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in July of 2013 as “5 Movie Stars Whose Careers Are in Trouble.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 40 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Even in Hollywood, you have to deliver results if you want to remain employed. Every year stars fall off the A-list — ask circa 2009 Nicolas Cage about that — and find themselves in a shame spiral of B-movies, supporting roles, and eventually television (sorry, Robin Williams, who will be appearing in the CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones, and as the dad, no less). Who is about to fall off the top of the perch?

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1. Tom Cruise

The success of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol less than two years ago gave his stock a bump, but apparently it was the stunts that were the star of that movie. In the three consecutive flops he’s made since — Rock of Ages, Jack Reacher and the aptly-named Oblivion – audiences didn’t even show up on opening weekend out of curiosity. Before Protocol, don’t forget, no one showed up for Knight and Day, Valkyrie or Lions for Lambs, either. Cruise is 51 years old, his boyish charm is finally gone, and he isn’t an action hero anymore. Audiences see him as their weird dad. He should give up on trying to rule the multiplex and start nosing around for more interesting roles like the one he had in Magnolia. Not that he’s fond of Paul Thomas Anderson anymore after Anderson made fun of scientology in The Master.

Next up: Fighting aliens next summer in All You Need Is Kill. Sure.

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4 Reasons Why You Should See Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - by John Boot

Marvel’s Captain America was one of the best superhero movies of the last decade, featuring an engaging Chris Evans as the 98-pound weakling who is transformed into a WW II fighting machine and, at the end, wakes up from a long nap to discover himself in contemporary America. The second go-round, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is nearly as much fun as the original, with a delightfully tangled plot, plenty of well-staged action scenes and a superb cast given reams of smart dialogue. Here are four reasons to salute Cap again.

1. The complexity.

Comic-book movies sometimes leave the impression that the writers are in a huge hurry to get from one action scene to the next, without worrying too much about what comes in between. The Winter Soldier, though, has enough plot for three movies, with a complicated back story gradually emerging about a nefarious historical plot reminiscent of that of the League of Shadows in the Dark Knight movies.

A legendary figure called “the Winter Soldier” is blamed for a rash of mysterious assassinations occurring over a long period of time, and though Cap derides the tale as a ghost story, he learns that the truth has much to do with his own personal history, dating back decades. Meanwhile, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has a much bigger part to play than in any previous film, as does Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), yet there’s also room to launch a new hero, Falcon (Anthony Mackie, who has an easygoing, likeable-yet-confident vibe that recalls the young Will Smith).

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The 4 Big Lies That Ruined The X-Men Movie Franchise

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in in July of 2013 as “How 4 Loony Leftist Lies Ruined the X-Men Movies.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Six movies into the X-Men series, it’s clear that this is the superhero franchise with the most overt and unapologetic leftist sympathies. As the series continues with The Wolverine, let’s review some of the most outrageously politicized elements of the saga. Here are the top four loony leftist lies that sneaked into the X-Men movies.

1. Animal rights trump human rights.

The Wolverine begins with the title figure (Hugh Jackman) living like a caveman in the lonely Yukon, where he can’t stop himself from fighting for justice and righting wrongs. He comes across a grizzly bear that’s been fatally wounded with what turns out to be a poison arrow. This kind of hunting may be poor sportsmanship and it may be illegal, but what Wolverine does is far worse: He finds the hunter in a bar, slaps him around and rams one of the man’s own poison arrows into the man’s hand, leaving him to die. Rough justice? No, that’s just murder. Sorry, X-Men, but hunters are not evil and a bear’s life and a man’s are not equivalents.

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Noah’s 5 Most Laugh-Out-Loud Qualities

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by John Boot

In the beginning, there was a void. Not a single major full-length Hollywood film had ever told the story of Noah and the Ark. Into the void stepped a man with an ego as big as the Cosmos: Darren Aronofsky, the auteur behind films like Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan. What Aronofsky did with Noah, though, might be called an epic fail.

Here are the five most laughable aspects of the strange $150 million would-be blockbuster.

1. The surprisingly helpful giant rock monsters.

Yes, you read that right. The key to Noah getting the Ark built is the aid of servant angels called “Watchers.” These celestial beings have been punished by God by being turned into 40-foot monsters made of boulders — fantastical creatures seemingly straight out of The Lord of the Rings — but redeem themselves by helping Noah build the Ark. (You can kill them, by the way, and when they die they ascend gratefully to heaven in a beam of light.) No one in the movie, in which Russell Crowe plays Noah, Jennifer Connelly plays his wife and Emma Watson plays a stray girl named Ila who gets adopted into Noah’s family, seems to think it the least bit unusual that these magical beings spring up to fulfill a prophecy, given to Noah in a dream, of the world destroyed by water to wipe it clean of human wickedness.

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5 Destructive Ideas Matt Damon Devotes His Movies To Promoting

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in August of 2013 as “The 5 Most Destructive Political Ideas in Matt Damon’s Movies.”  It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

This week Matt Damon hits theaters with the thinly veiled, pro-amnesty sci-fi parable Elysium. It’s a movie in which struggling Latinos stranded on a wrecked planet Earth 150 years from now plot ways to steal citizenship on a utopian space station called Elysium where the richest and whitest people have fled. This is all nothing new for Damon, who has pushed a liberal political agenda many times before. Here are the five worst political ideas that have been central to his films

5) The CIA is evil.

The 2006 film The Good Shepherd is loosely based on the early days of the OSS and the CIA, with Robert De Niro directing and playing a figure modeled on “Wild Bill” Donovan (the founder of the OSS, which became the CIA after World War II) and Damon starring as James Jesus Angleton, the CIA executive who befriended British turncoat Kim Philby.

The movie is a somber, depressing affair of a descent into darkness that amounts to a sort of Greatest Hits of anti-CIA liberals obsessed with such disappointments as the agency’s experiments with LSD and the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Though few outside the liberal establishment can see the wisdom in letting the KGB go unanswered during the Cold War, the film portrays the CIA as fatally morally compromised — a kind of cancer on the whole idea of America.

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6 Kids Films Filled With Green Propaganda

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in September of 2013 as “6 Animated Kids Movies with Annoyingly Intrusive Political Messages.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

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The animated children’s movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 lands in theaters this week [it's now available on Blu Ray] with a strange anti-food processing message: The bad guy wants to take adorable anthropomorphic animal-foods and feed them into his giant food processor to make energy bars.

Surprisingly, this movie is actually less obnoxiously political than lots of other offerings being sold to your kids. Here are five especially egregious examples of kids’ movies with intrusive political messages.

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009).

The original film took a fun kids’ book and loaded it up with political freight: it’s set in a struggling island town that hits a windfall when a young inventor named Flint Lockwood invents a machine that can turn water into food.

Before you know it, it’s raining meat and produce. Sounds like a resource-management problem: If it rained gold, would we figure out a way to profit from it or scream that doomsday has arrived?

The movie turns into a lecture on materialism, inviting us to see the connection between consumer habits and extreme weather/global warming. See, if we don’t get out of our big comfy SUVs and stop craving so much food, the weather-gods will plague us forever. Hollywood’s neo-Puritanism is alive and well. 

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5 Movies Shamelessly Ripped Off by Divergent

Friday, March 21st, 2014 - by John Boot

This week’s derivative new dial-a-blockbuster is Divergent, which stars Shailene Woodley (George Clooney’s teen daughter in The Descendants) as a teen girl living in post-apocalyptic Chicago, where the remains of society have amicably organized into five factions in order to survive against an unseen enemy outside the walls of the city. Watching the movie, which is based on a novel that sold when its author Veronica Roth was 21, is like browsing the shelves at the video store, because almost everything in it seems like something you’ve seen done better elsewhere. Here’s a partial list of films that Divergent ripped off/was influenced by:

1. The Breakfast Club and teen movies in general.

Divergent (as you’d expect of such as young author) is firmly anchored in a high-school conception of society, which is divided into brains (called “Erudites”), student-government nerds (“Abnegation”), jocks (“Dauntless”), special-needs kids who play in the dirt (“Amity”) and chronic truth-tellers (“Candor”). In Roth’s conception, what matters most is finding a clique to belong to because the untouchables of her society are the lost souls wandering the perimeter who have no “faction” at all.

Question: Who thinks about cliques as anything but a dumb high-school thing, much less an organizing principle for humanity?

Divergent even gives each clique its own limited color palette, with the brainiacs using cool blues, the jockish Dauntless in tight, athletic black gear and the rustic, gentle Amity in autumnal hues suggesting harvest time.

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5 Reasons Childish Liberals Love Their Hunger Games So Much

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in November of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to voice your favorites in the comments.

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Why does the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire excite today’s kids so much? Maybe because it plays to their childish views, which in many cases are interwoven with the central thinking of liberalism. Here are five reasons why childish liberals love The Hunger Games.

1) By spoofing yet glamorizing the media, it pretends you can have your cake and eat it too.

The Hunger Games thinks it’s a vicious satire of media-obsessed culture, particularly reality TV shows such as Survivor, which the movies literalize by imagining kids from around the country being brought to the decadent Capitol City to fight each other to the death for the amusement of TV watchers. But that satire has to be lost on the audience, which is attracted to the films for such spectacles as heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) riding a chariot into an arena filled with thousands of screaming fans in an amazing dress that lights on fire for extra wow. Media-saturated kids walk out of the film picturing themselves being treated as superstars for no reason except being randomly selected in a lottery.

What does all this have to do with politics? Liberals who, for instance, keep proposing minimum wage increases or tariffs to keep out foreign competition are forever blasting things that in reality they love and couldn’t live without, like cheap laborers to redo their fancy kitchens or mow their lawns.

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The Oscars in Review: 5 Highs and 5 Lows

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by John Boot

1. Lupita Nyong’o’s beautiful acceptance speech

In her very first film role, the newly minted Yale Drama School graduate snagged the role of Patsey, a slave who is regularly raped by a plantation owner. Nyong’o struck exactly the right tone when she said,”It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” she said. “And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance.”

Respect was one element that made her speech special; another was the evident excitement on the beaming 31-year-old Kenyan’s face. Nyongo’ was simply adorable, the big star of the evening.

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5 Reasons to Book a Non-Stop Ticket

Friday, February 28th, 2014 - by John Boot

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Liam Neeson is back in fine form with an old-school whodunnit packaged as an action thriller, Non-Stop. Fans of the over-the-top action style of Taken may wish it had more stunts and less Agatha Christie, but it’s a solid piece of entertainment. Here are five reasons it works:

1) The setup is grabby.

Neeson plays a down-at-heel federal air marshal with a bad attitude and a drinking problem (he takes a belt of whiskey before getting on the plane, then tries to order a gin and tonic when he’s on it) but a kindly way with children. It turns out he’s harboring one of those routine Deep Dark Movie Secrets, but his backstory does both make him easy to identify with and mark him with a possible red flag when, in the middle of a flight halfway across the Atlantic, he starts getting text messages informing him that someone on the plane is going to die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is wired into a specified bank account.

When people do indeed start dying — though none in a way that can be definitely tied to terrorism — air marshal Bill Marks discovers that security people on the ground have reason to believe he is the one hijacking the plane, for his own profit.

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4 Ways Star Trek: Into Darkness Shills for Surrender in the War on Terror

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in May of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

Some things about Star Trek apparently never change…

Leave aside the fact that the second episode in the relaunch of the Starship Enterprise should have been called Star Trek: Into Derpness. Try to get past the fact that Bones McCoy kind of looks like Dan Rather and speaks in Rather’s bonehead country-fried metaphors, or that Uhura keeps whining at Spock for not being a caring enough lover (what’d she expect when she started dating a Vulcan), or that the filmmakers don’t even pretend to come up with a valid reason to show curvy blonde actress Alice Eve (who plays a new character) in her underwear, or that a fratboy actor as lightweight as Chris Pine would have had a hard time nabbing a role as a private first class in a 1940s war movie.

Let’s get to the issue none of the liberal writers will touch: What does this movie tell us about Hollywood and the War on Terror? First, that la-la land thinks the war is over. And second, the filmmakers now feel the coast is clear to resume their normal anti-American propaganda.

The far-left stance of the movie is fairly overt. Things gets rolling with a terrorist attack in London launched by a mysterious rogue officer (Benedict Cumberbatch, whose acting is so superior to everyone else’s that it’s like watching John Gielgud do a guest shot on Friends). Wedged amongst the reams of techno-gobbledygook in the script, here are four ways the movie is infecting young minds with left-liberal rubbish. (Mild spoilers follow, but I’ll keep it vague.)

1) The Voice of Reason and Morality Warns that It’s “By Definition” Immoral to Kill a Known Terrorist on a Foreign Battlefield Instead of Bringing Him to Trial.

On a mission to hunt down the murderous Harrison (Cumberbatch), Spock (Zachary Quinto) tells the hotheaded Kirk (Chris Pine) that assassinating the terrorist — whose lethal acts Kirk and others have eyewitnessed — would be obviously wrong. Director J.J. Abrams and his team of hack screenwriters (Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof) are striking a stance on the demise of Osama Bin Laden so extreme that no one to the right of Michael Moore would dare utter it. But because the message is concealed in a noisy blockbuster, the filmmakers are hoping they can get away with it.

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5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

Saturday, February 15th, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in May of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists of 2013. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

As a general rule, it’s all fine and good for a comedian to be funny-looking. Zach Galifianakis is not only funny-looking, he’s hilarious-looking: He could be the lonely love child of Chewbacca and Rosie O’Donnell. But Zach G’s big problem is that, after four years in the spotlight as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after comedy stars, he still has nothing else going for him but the way he looks.

Here are five reasons it’s time to stick a fork in this meatball of an actor.

1) He Keeps Doing the Same Shtick.

Galifianakis is forever playing the same strange, foolhardy egomaniac whether in the three Hangover movies, Due Date,or The Campaign. In the completely unnecessary sequel The Hangover Part III he takes over starring duties as Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms step aside. But a little of Zach goes a long way.

Among his big moments are the one where the dudes are looking at a doll house modeled after the real house they’re about to break into to steal $20 million worth of gold and Galifianakis says, “We’re not gonna break into this house, right? This house is too small.” No one is that stupid, sorry.

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5 Reasons Tom Clancy Might Be Smiling at the New Jack Ryan Reboot

Friday, January 17th, 2014 - by John Boot

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Tom Clancy died last fall at 66, just as marketing was getting started for the new relaunch Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.  It’s a pity he didn’t get to see the new film, because it’s a strong followup to The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Clancy was gruff bordering on insulting when it came to previous cinematic adaptations of his work, but the new film isn’t based on a Clancy novel — it’s an original story using Clancy’s agile hero. Here’s why the thriller author might have given the thumbs-up to how it turned out.

1. It honors patriotism and the military.

The new Jack Ryan, Star Trek star Chris Pine, plays a marine who joins the service in honor of the 9/11 attacks, which he watches on a TV set while studying at the London School of Economics. Hollywood can barely treat 9/11 with a straight face, but the scene in which the world changes for Jack, who remains respectfully silent as his resolution builds, is powerful in an understated way.

When Jack joins the Marines in response and gets badly wounded in Afghanistan, the director (Kenneth Branagh, who also plays the Russian villain) captures some of the feeling of dedication and courage that it takes to volunteer for combat, and also respects the agonizing rehabilitation process Ryan must undergo when he returns stateside.

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5 Reasons Why Childish Liberals Love The Hunger Games

Friday, November 22nd, 2013 - by John Boot

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Why does the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire excite today’s kids so much? Maybe because it plays to their childish views, which in many cases are interwoven with the central thinking of liberalism. Here are five reasons why childish liberals love The Hunger Games.

1) By spoofing yet glamorizing the media, it pretends you can have your cake and eat it too.

The Hunger Games thinks it’s a vicious satire of media-obsessed culture, particularly reality TV shows such as Survivor, which the movies literalize by imagining kids from around the country being brought to the decadent Capitol City to fight each other to the death for the amusement of TV watchers. But that satire has to be lost on the audience, which is attracted to the films for such spectacles as heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) riding a chariot into an arena filled with thousands of screaming fans in an amazing dress that lights on fire for extra wow. Media-saturated kids walk out of the film picturing themselves being treated as superstars for no reason except being randomly selected in a lottery.

What does all this have to do with politics? Liberals who, for instance, keep proposing minimum wage increases or tariffs to keep out foreign competition are forever blasting things that in reality they love and couldn’t live without, like cheap laborers to redo their fancy kitchens or mow their lawns.

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2013′s Top 10 Oscar Contenders

Friday, November 15th, 2013 - by John Boot

The Oscars won’t be given out until March, but Oscar season is already well underway as studio flacks hold parties and special screenings intended to sway voters. The leading contenders so far are:

10 and 9. American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street

Both films make the list solely because of the track record of their respective directors, David O. Russell (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) and Martin Scorsese. Unlike all of the other movies on this list, these two haven’t been publicly shown yet. Scorsese is still editing his Leonardo DiCaprio-starring film about finance-industry debauchery and isn’t expected to be finished until the end of November.

Russell says his movie, which stars Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in a drama about a 1970s political scam, is almost ready. American Hustle is due in theaters Dec. 18, Wolf a week later.

Likely Oscar nominations: Best Picture?

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5 Reasons Why Thor Is a Second-Rate Superhero Franchise

Friday, November 8th, 2013 - by John Boot

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It’s been all of six months since the last so-so Marvel superhero movie, and yet here comes another weak entry: Thor: The Dark World. Despite the hype, this one is easily skippable. Here are six reasons why the Thor franchise is strictly B-list.

1) A hammer? Seriously?

Thor’s all-powerful weapon “mjolnir” is simply and literally a blunt instrument. What else can you do with a hammer except smash things with it? It’s not like flying, or the ability to cast webs out of your palms: It doesn’t open up a world of possibility.

A hammer is such a short extension of reach and force that Thor might as well just punch enemies in the face. And when he winds up the hammer by swinging it in super-fast circles he just looks as ridiculous as a character from an old Warner Brothers cartoon.

Superhero weapons are supposed to be deeply marinated in myth, not in cheap jokes, and yet you can tell from Thor: The Dark World exactly how seriously the writers take this supposed all-powerful item when Thor, on a visit to Earth, simply hangs the object on an ordinary coat rack. Isn’t the hammer supposed to be so heavy only Thor can lift it? Why doesn’t it rip the coat rack off the wall and maybe smash through the floor below it? 

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5 Cool Things About Escape Plan

Friday, October 18th, 2013 - by John Boot

With its dinosaur stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the new action thriller Escape Plan looks like a standard semi-trashy ’80s throwback flick. Guess what? It is. But guess what again? It’s actually pretty good. Here are five reasons why.

1) A cool concept.

Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a master breakout artist who, along with his partner (Vincent D’Onofrio), runs a profitable business that sends him, incognito, into a series of prisons that he then promptly busts out of. The idea is to expose the flaws in the prisons’ security plans and earn the partners nice consulting fees.

That idea yields a fun prologue in which Ray, who appears to be an ordinary inmate, gets in a prison-yard fight, is sent to solitary confinement and yet devises a way out by using the full range of MacGyver-tastic tricks. Did you know the film from inside the wax coating of a half-pint of chocolate milk can be used to obtain the secret security code of a maximum-security cell? I didn’t either, and maybe it can’t, but the details of Ray’s breakout are plausible enough for an action movie.

I especially loved the way he makes a sextant out of a pair of eyeglasses.

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4 Reasons Why Captain Phillips Is One of the Year’s Best Thrillers…

Friday, October 11th, 2013 - by John Boot

With the true-life maritime thriller Captain Phillips Tom Hanks has his best movie since Catch Me If You Can 11 years ago. Here are the reasons it works so well — and the reason its leftist politics cause it to fall into a trap while reaching for social significance.

1. Paul Greengrass.

The director of the second and third Bourne movies and United 93 is perhaps the reigning master of tense, absorbing, completely credible you-are-there cinema.

Captain Phillips is very much in that vein of breathless suspense. Vermonter Captain Richard Phillips was piloting the Merchant Marine vessel the Maersk Alabama off the Gulf of Aden when Somali pirates using simple skiffs were lurking in the waters looking for a lone ship they could pick off and hold for millions in ransom. Phillips himself endured a five-day ordeal, harrowingly depicted with Greengrass’s trademark quasi-documentary style.

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4 Ways Gravity Lives Up to the Hype — and 1 Way It Doesn’t

Friday, October 4th, 2013 - by John Boot

1) It’s not so much a movie as an all-consuming, mindblowing cinematic experience.

Director Alfonso Cuaron’s cinematographer and visual and sound effects teams have created an immersive 3D spectacle with few parallels in the history of moviemaking. Sound like hyperbole? You’ll be hearing a lot more along the same lines, because no film has ever made you feel space in all its awesome, terrible majesty like Gravity.

When Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, playing U.S. astronauts, get caught up in a debris belt and separated from their spacecraft and from one another, you’ll be spellbound by the scale of what they’re up against. When sound effects can’t be deployed (there is no sound in space, although there is plenty of it inside the helmets of the characters and inside the pressurized chambers of the various spacecraft they visit), a magnificently evocative musical score takes over, providing an approximation of what the catastrophic events the astronauts are witnessing might sound like on Earth, or in the imaginations of the overwhelmed characters.

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6 Animated Kids Movies with Annoyingly Intrusive Political Messages

Friday, September 27th, 2013 - by John Boot

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The animated children’s movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 lands in theaters this week with a strange anti-food processing message: The bad guy wants to take adorable anthropomorphic animal-foods and feed them into his giant food processor to make energy bars.

Surprisingly, this movie is actually less obnoxiously political than lots of other offerings being sold to your kids. Here are five especially egregious examples of kids’ movies with intrusive political messages.

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009).

The original film took a fun kids’ book and loaded it up with political freight: it’s set in a struggling island town that hits a windfall when a young inventor named Flint Lockwood invents a machine that can turn water into food.

Before you know it, it’s raining meat and produce. Sounds like a resource-management problem: If it rained gold, would we figure out a way to profit from it or scream that doomsday has arrived?

The movie turns into a lecture on materialism, inviting us to see the connection between consumer habits and extreme weather/global warming. See, if we don’t get out of our big comfy SUVs and stop craving so much food, the weather-gods will plague us forever. Hollywood’s neo-Puritanism is alive and well. 

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