Movies You Watched in November 2013
Ben Lott
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Mason
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This is a geeklist to discuss the movies you watch throughout the month of November. Please feel free to post them as you see them, or if you prefer post a summary of all films at the end of the month. Also you can comment and discuss freely as others talk about films they've seen.

Enjoy...

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1. Board Game: Ender's Game: Battle School [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:11850]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


The structure of this film is very familiar. It is kind of a Harry Potter tale which, to be fair, was written decades before Harry Potter. A young man is drafted into a space army and is forced to shoulder responsibilities that we would never expect from someone so young in this day and age. He exceeds expectations and then is supposed to lead an entire army in order to win a war for our world. They tell the story nicely as we slowly see the development of Ender and how he is brought up through the ranks of this military organization. Interspersed in there are a handful of tales about the past and how Earth reached this point, but not much time is spent on the science and technology. The training feels a bit draconian at times as the kids are put through harsh physical, mental, and even emotional tests. It makes for a good story, and certainly kept the audience entertained from start to finish. However that finish is a bit unsatisfying. I understand that there are several books in the series, so perhaps they are setting up for sequels, but it kind of left me wanting more. Still the overall message of the movie was well presented and genuinely made you think about how we look at war in this day and age.

One of the struggles with films where kids are thrust into adult roles is the fact that, let's be honest, most young actors are pretty terrible. Luckily they did a fairly good job of casting in this movie. Asa Butterfield is a bit emotionless, but I think that is intended as part of his character, and you can certainly see how he could earn the respect of others around him despite his age. The other notable young actor is Hailee Steinfeld as Petra. She continues to build on the great work she did in True Grit proving that she will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. I will say that a few of the heavies/bullies were hard to take seriously, because their anger felt over-the-top. As for the adults, I think Harrison Ford was the most notable. He has the gruff, experienced, war veteran vibe down and his fight with Ender at the end shows just how much emotion he's hiding behind that stoney veneer. Ben Kingsley comes off more like a Mr. Miyagi type of mentor, which suits his acting style even if it seems a little odd considering his role in the film. Finally I should mention Nonso Anozie as Sergeant Dap. He was the biggest miscast of the film. He is downright silly as a drill instructor, to the point where I wanted to chuckle every time he tried barking orders. It made him easier to like later when Ender kind of befriended him, but I think this could have been accomplished with an actor better suited to the role. Everyone else was barely there, they had a role but I found them kind of forgettable.

The special effects were superb. I'm not sure if the zero-G training was all done with wire work or what, but it flowed very naturally to the point where it felt real. The simulated space battles were amazing, and I think perhaps I should have seen the film in 3-D to get the full effect because even in 2-D it felt like you were there. So all this praise I've piled on you might expect that I would rate it higher, yet I just wasn't blown away by the movie. It was good, quality entertainment but it didn't do anything that I haven't seen before. The acting was good, not great. The character development was good, not great. In fact, aside from the great visuals, that pretty much sums up the whole film: Good, but not great. Perhaps if I had read the book in the past this would touch on some emotional memories from my younger years, but I just didn't have that emotional connection. I can still recommend Ender's Game as a sci-fi adventure that most of the family should enjoy. Not every film has to be an artistic masterpiece to be passed down through the ages, sometimes you just want something fun, and I think you'll find that here.
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2. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.32 Overall Rank:5]
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Chestermere
Alberta
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Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

For the first movie that I've seen in two months, I went back to an oldie but a goodie.
I hadn't seen this in more than 25 years, and I enjoyed it more this time around, what with my age gaining wisdom and all of that. It is a funny show but truly scary how plausible most parts of it are.
Sellers was brilliant, of course, but George C. Scott cracked me up every time he was on screen.

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3. Board Game: The World Turned Upside Down [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
Ronster Zero
United States
California
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Upside Down

An interesting movie where two people fall in love on twinned worlds with gravities that pull in opposite directions. An interesting sci-fi twist on the age old love movies where two people are separate from each other. While I would say this movie is no academy award winner, I did find it interesting. The way the two twin worlds interacted with each other and how Adam went about finding his lost love and convincing her to fall in love all over again was worth the watch. We found this on Netflix and were surprised that we all watched the movie to it's conclusion.
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4. Board Game: Avengers Mighty Battle [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Andy
United Kingdom
Manchester
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The Avengers

In preparation for going to see Thor: The Dark World, my wife and I re-watched The Avengers with a friend. Even after repeated viewing, I still find this to be one of the best superhero movies ever.

It has a great cast, who turn in fantastic performances, especially Tom Hiddleston as the super-villain, Loki. There are some great mid-reel match ups between the heroes, as befits characters with such big egos, and the final battle is truly amazing (it would make a great videogame boss battle, of the style I've been enjoying lately in Darksiders).

There's a fair bit of humour too, which adds to the enjoyment and serves to ground the movie a little and give it more of a broader appeal.

I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.
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5. Board Game: The Hammer of Thor: The Game of Norse Mythology [Average Rating:5.04 Overall Rank:15387]
Andy
United Kingdom
Manchester
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Thor: The Dark World

As a birthday treat for my wife, some friends took us to see Thor: The Dark World at the local IMAX.

Thor was probably our favourite of the Avengers prequel films, and I'm pleased to say that Thor 2 did not disappoint in the slightest.

Once again there is a brilliant cast, including Hemsworth; Hiddleston; Portman; Skarsgård; Russo and Hopkins who reprise their roles from the first movie. They are joined by Christopher Ecclestone (formerly a Doctor Who, amongst other things) as Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves, who seeks to plunge the 9 realms into an eternal darkness. Ecclestone is brilliant in the role, but felt slightly under used and his character a touch under developed, compared to Loki in the previous film.

As I felt with the recent Superman movie, where we got to see more of Krypton, it was great to see a lot of more Asgard, having that realm and its inhabitants fleshed out a bit more. We also got to see a little of the other realms too.

The story feels quite character driven, as Thor and Loki flesh out their relationships with each other, and with Frigga, their mother and with their father, Odin. There are also some nice plot twists as a result. However I did have a few issues with the plot in places... where it felt a bit too 'convenient'.

There's no shortage of action though, with some excellent set pieces and Hemsworth looks more comfortable wielding the Hammer, Mjolnir.. though, with the convergence, he manages to confuse it a few times, as it tries to fly off out of the atmosphere to catch up with him.

Add in a healthy dose of humour, most of which is very funny, though some does fall a bit flat, and you've got a pretty good formula for a super hero movie. Highly recommended.
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6. Board Game: Space: The Game that Defies Gravity [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
 
Jason Lott
United States
Cheverly
Maryland
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I've moved away from long reviews and now just do really short ones on Twitter instead. Here's what I had to say about Sandra Bullock and the movie Gravity, which we caught this past weekend:

Quote:
GRAVITY: Cuarón created a visually staggering masterpiece that will leave you breathless, grounded by Bullock at the top of her game. #SeeIt


(Sorry I can't figure out how to embed the tweet properly.
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7. Board Game: Atlas Adventures [Average Rating:4.73 Unranked]
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Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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Cloud Atlas

Hey! It isn't all old movies on the movie channel!

I've been wanting to see this for some time, and I recorded it on my DVR this past weekend. Last night there was nothing on, so the wife and I decided to watch.
I'd heard that it was confusing as hell but we were both pretty much enthralled for the bulk of the show once it got going.
Awesome make-up and costumes (not something that I normally start with!) and beautiful settings, there was much to love despite my dislike of most things CGI.
The story was, well, confusing as hell, but it didn't matter.
We both loved it, and gave it
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8. Board Game: Thor [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:4362]
Alex H.
Germany
Berlin
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Weellll, where to start.
The first Thor was a lighthearted entry in the Avenger-prequels. It worked because it didn't take itself too seriously. I still think it's one of the weaker entries in the franchise.

The Dark World, while not a total miss, it certainly is a near miss. The plot is generic and mostly mediocre - sometimes just bad. Mr. Hemsworth does a decent job inpersonating the Thunderer and Stellan Skarsgard is great (again) as the nutty prof. Tom Hiddleston received much praise for his Loki and rightly so. Natalie Portman - who I generally quite like - sucked. Who also sucked was the villain. He is as flat a character as they come, his dark elves seemed pretty harmless and his über-weapon... well, let's keep it spoiler-free. Suffice to say, it was disappointing too.
On a five star scale I'd rate this a mediocre
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9. Board Game: The Hammer of Thor: The Game of Norse Mythology [Average Rating:5.04 Overall Rank:15387]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


In an effort towards full disclosure, I didn't really like Thor. To clarify I'm not just talking about the first movie, but the character in general. By and large the idea of Asgard being a real place and the Norse gods being real people just feels out of step with the rest of the science fiction world of Marvel comics. I didn't hate the first Thor movie, but it was definitely my least favorite of the Avengers origin films. However, he was used well in the Avengers, so I had high hopes that they would make something awesome out of his next solo film. Of course then they started releasing trailers showing that it would take place extensively in the magical land of Oz. Oops, I mean Asgard. This had me slightly less excited. Yet my wife, who tends to like the Avengers movies, was very anxious to see Thor: The Dark World (mostly because she has a crush on Chris Hemsworth.) So I went to see it with very mixed emotions, mostly hoping it wouldn't stink. Luckily, it didn't, so let me elaborate on why.

The cast is largely the same as the first Thor film. Chris Hemsworth somehow manages to be likeable despite the over-the-top accent and silly dialogue. Natalie Portman has still failed to prove to me she can act. She is utterly unconvincing as a genius like her character Jane Foster is supposed to be. She's just Padme with a laptop as far as I can tell. On the flip side Stellan Skarsgard is 100% on target as the nutty professor. Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo are great at playing the dad nobody wants and the mom everybody wants, respectively. Now as for the villains, they are really hard to talk about. Through a combination of makeup and CGI they struggle to be very expressive. I feel for any Christopher Eccleston fans that hoped to see a brilliant performance and were left with the white faced dark elf that did nothing but scowl for 2 hours. We won't even talk about Thor's gang of misfits who are all completely forgettable and uninteresting. That only leaves one major character to talk about, and he outclasses them all. Tom Hiddleston is just brilliant as Loki, and he genuinely lifts up every scene he appears in. In fact if they had renamed this film Loki: The Dark World and spent more time focusing on Loki and less time with Thor and his buddies I might consider this one of the finest Marvel films to date. Yes, I'm going overboard but that's how impressed I was with Hiddleston. He made me laugh, he made me cry, he made this movie at least 1 full star better than it would be without his presence.

The downfall of Thor: The Dark World is the confusing plot. To be fair, the overarching plotline about the dark elves is quite simple, and I didn't need that spelled out any further (because Odin explained it nicely in the first 5 minutes of narration.) There are just so many smaller details that make no sense. Somehow the Bifrost is restored and in full working order, after Thor destroyed it in the last film. Then they go into this whole aligning of worlds nonsense, which apparently causes lots of wacky gravity anomalies on Earth but nowhere else. And the climax has some of the most shaky, unexplained science of all. The whole thing just felt rushed and thrown together. I guess questioning the science in a movie where Norse gods make-out with astrophysicists is stupid, but I just wish it all had a little more grounding in an established reality. My only other complaint would be that early in the film I found myself getting a little bored. It took a bit before anything really started to happen. Yet when the action came it was quite enjoyable. There were also a number of funny moments, and I was satisfied with the overall entertainment value. This didn't change my opinion of Thor, he's still my least favorite of the movie Avengers, but it was an improvement over his first solo film and I'll be interested to see what they will cook up next.
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10. Board Game: Ferris Bueller's Day Off Board Game [Average Rating:1.00 Unranked]
Larry Welborn
United States
Anderson
South Carolina
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Last night I introduced my kids to Ferris Bueller's Day off. I had not seen the movie in at least 20 years so I was interested to see if it held up.

It did. Much laughter from me, my wife and kids. The language was a little rougher than I remembered but my kids are 12 and 11, so I doubt they learned any new words.

Both kids really liked the movie but were disappointed that we didn't find out what happened to Cameron.

Recommended as a cute comedy for a family movie night although you probably want to wait until your kids are at least 10 or so, longer if profanity offends you.
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11. Board Game: Catching Fire: Seeds Of Rebellion [Average Rating:5.30 Unranked]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


Let's get right to it. I really enjoyed the entire Hunger Games trilogy of books, and I was definitely disappointed with the first Hunger Games movie. There were 2 big reasons I disliked it. First it felt like they spent a lot of time on insignificant details and, as a result, lost a lot of the emotional depth the film needed. Secondly, the shaky handheld camera was distracting and downright nauseating. Thankfully, a new writing team and new director means that Catching Fire had none of these problems. In fact it was a great sequel that actually improved on the predecessor and has me excited about what will come next.

They finally allow Jennifer Lawrence to experience more real emotion in this film. She genuinely made me tear up a couple times because she wears her emotions on her sleeve this time around. Josh Hutcherson is very likeable as Peeta, and you can see why Katniss actually starts falling for him a little in this film. Liam Hemsworth as Gale, however is superfluous. I know in a post-Twilight world it makes sense for the studio to play up the 2 suitors vying for the female protagonist, but nearly every scene with Gale could be easily cut without losing the story. I think I'd call the forced love triangle my only big thumbs-down in this film. The cast of other victors are really good. I particularly enjoyed Sam Claflin who gave a very passionate performance. Philip Seymour Hoffman was also a good casting choice and he does a good job with Donald Sutherland of showing just how vicious the Capitol government can be.

By and large it was what this film did not do that impressed me more than what it did. They were willing to cut unimportant moments from the book. An entire scene was summed up in just a few looks. We didn't need to meet every single victor, just the ones Katniss would actually interact with. It kept the film interesting and engaging without slowing things down unecessarily. There were a number of nods to things in the book, little things in the background which were kind of cool, almost like hidden Easter eggs. I think the only thing I missed seeing was Haymitch's back-story getting fleshed out a bit more. However that's a minor complaint in what I thought was a majorly good film. Catching Fire seriously gets the franchise back on track and should satisfy anyone who enjoyed the books or the first film. It is one of those rare cases where the sequel actual outshines the original, and I loved it.
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12. Board Game: Duel in the Dark [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1873]
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Watched DUEL over the holiday weekend - Spielberg's first for-the-big-screen director's role (1971). Very good movie, Dennis Weaver does a good job in the role. I think about this movie whenever some idiot in a truck cuts me off on the highway, though fortunately it's never gone THIS far.

No question, this would be done very differently if it were made today. I'm surprised it hasn't been re-made, Hollywood's not shy about rehashing things.

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13. Board Game: Police Precinct: The Heat [Average Rating:7.71 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.71 Unranked]
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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The Heat


I like Sandra Bullock, but a little Melissa McCarthy goes a long way for me. That said, this movie was pretty much what I expected. My wife liked it more than I would normally expect, considering the amount of profanity in the film. It was enjoyable, but not really memorable. To be honest, I barely remember the details of the story a week later.


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14. Board Game: Whack & Slaughter [Average Rating:7.78 Unranked]
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Alberta
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Slaughterhouse-Five

"A 1972 film based on Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name."

Quite interesting. I'd heard positive things about the novel and I was curious so I watched the film which was being showed on the 'oldies' (TV) station.

I didn't know that it was about a WWII vet who was in Dresden during the bombing. But it was really about post-traumatic stress, obviously.

I think I'd give it one thumbsup, or to put it another way.
And, at least part of one of the stars is for Valerie Perrine's tits. googoo
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15. Board Game: Noteability [Average Rating:4.51 Overall Rank:16579]
Reinis Butans
Latvia
Riga
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In November I watched a lot more movies than I normally do. 16 in total.

Behind the Candelabra
The Young Victoria
Riddick
Stir of Echoes
The Name of the Rose
The Pianist
Shame
The Ghost Writer
Signs
The Langoliers
Angel Heart
Death on the Nile
Ten Little Indians
Night on Earth
Mama
The Skeleton Key

I marked with a the movies I had rated 8+ and with the ones that were 5-

On average 6.96 IMDB Rating VS 6.69 MY Rating is quite usual.
The biggest differences were The Name of the Rose (7.7 VS 5.0), The Langoliers (5.9 VS 8.0).

My problem with The Name of the Rose was that while the whole idea seemed interesting, the execution could have been better. I did not believed the characters even though I liked the creepy wipe that was put on. Also in movies with so contradicting views from mine I hope to find at least some sort of explanation of how it all could be justified - there must be reason.

The Langoliers was a memory from past for me, which I had wanted to rewatch for a while now. On most cases these old time favorites come out as disappointments - it was not the case for me with Langoliers. I had the same enjoyment of the atmosphere as I expected and the plot with it's characters was great.
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16. Board Game: Las Vegas [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:480]
Gregory Amstutz
United States
Chula Vista
California
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I am the eye in the sky, looking at you. I can read you mind. I am the maker of rules, dealing with fools. i can cheat you blind. And I don't need to see anymore to know that....
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My wife and I went to see Last Vegas Not bad. Not quite great, but not bad. Robert DeNiro was kind of flat most of the movie, but Kevin Kline was fantastic! Yes a little on the raunchy side at times, but still very entertaining. In a surprising reaction, I found aging, but still beautiful, Mary Steenburgen infinitely more attractive than any of the young "eye candy" types that you normally associate with Vegas, so the main character's infatuation with her was totally believable. What was most amusing though is that my wife and I were apparently the youngest people in the theater, and there was quite an abundance of wheelchairs, walkers, canes, etc in use by the other patrons.
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17. Board Game: Worlds of Heroes & Tyrants Card Expansion #1: Frozen in Time [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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FROZEN



Appropriately, we watched this movie while vacationing in brrrrr-cold Connecticut for Thanksgiving week.

My girlfriend treated her nephew and nieces to it and I tagged along (of course!).

FROZEN looks very pretty in the big screen, and I imagine it would do as well on 3-D showings (I'm gimmicked out by now). Its plot is more unpredictable than most animated films, and its female characters do not rely on their male counterparts to overcome obstacles, challenges and enemies. Actually, there's one classic Disney trope that's refreshingly side-stepped towards the end.

BRAVE was a tribute to mother-daughter relationships, but it was a bit scattered and frankly, the daughter was a bit of a spoiled, unapologetic brat. FROZEN is a tribute to sister-sister relationships, and it does it in a wonderfully warming way, despite its title.

Most of the songs are good, and for WICKED fans, they'll get to hear Idina Menzel belting it out in the memorable "Let It Go".

Kristen Bell finally got her dream of voicing a Disney princess and she does it joyfully and energetically.

The comic relief animals/familiars this time are Olaf the Snowman and Sven the reindeer. Olaf was just okay for me, but I seem to be way in the minority. Everybody else I've talked to or read their review, absolutely loved him. The reindeer is serviceable, but perhaps a bit too similar to TANGLED's adventurous horse, which was funnier.

I give it an 8.5 out of 10 for a slightly rushed ending, but it can easily be a 9 if I stop being cynical and all grown-up.

Go watch it and enjoy some hot cocoa afterwards in the company of family and/or friends, because that's what Disney movies should always do, make you want to spend more time celebrating with your loved ones.
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18. Board Game: Gravity Trap [Average Rating:5.46 Unranked]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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I made it out to the movie theater for a movie and a 3D one to boot.

Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney was recommended to me by a friend while at a board game convention in early November. I knew the movie had been out for a number of weeks because I had an article in the newspaper about the character Sandra Bullock plays being from Lake Zurich (a nearby suburb) and what news that was.

My friend convinced me that this was one to see in 3D and that much would be lost on the small screen of my TV. He was right. There was some action, but this was a nice space romp watching things float by. The 3D did not seem forced and very natural. Glad I ventured out.
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19. Board Game: Ship, Captain, and Crew [Average Rating:5.20 Unranked]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Captain Phillips

Even though it seemed to me it was a bit longer than it should have been, it was great and tense. I liked the introduction of the attackers and obviously Tom Hanks is going to be present at next year's award ceremony, especially because of those last 15 minutes.
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