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Coherence

This is listed as science fiction on imdb, but that isn't quite right. I mean, it is sci-fi, considering that it deals with things like mysterious astronomical phenomena and the sort of physics that can make your head hurt if you look at it too closely, but it isn't just sci-fi. The only special effect is the comet in the night sky, which is very pretty but also the thing that's causing all the trouble.

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Em peeks around the corner, seeking to find herself.

Noah

Someone asked me yesterday if I'd liked the movie, and I had to say I wasn't sure yet. I'm still not quite sure, actually, though that may be partly because, though I wasn't sure what to expect, I certainly didn't expect rock monsters. I'm no biblical scholar, but I'm pretty sure those aren't even in the Apocrypha. All right, technically they're fallen angels, but they look like rock monsters and they can get pretty mean.

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The ark as geysers appear to help the flooding along. Thar she blows!

Divergent

Oh, the things people will do in a near-future, post-apocalyptic world just to keep the peace. First the Hunger Games, now this -- a society built on forcing people to choose a faction to join when they're sixteen or so, because all sixteen-year-olds know exactly what they want out of the rest of their lives and never ever change their minds.

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Tris gets a tattoo.  I mean, gets her mind read.

300: Rise of an Empire

There's a scene in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray, lamenting his fate at the local bar, reminisces about a really great day he once had in Tahiti. "Why can't I live that day over and over and over?" he asks, plaintively. So if I have to watch the same movie over again, why couldn't it at least be one that I actually liked the first time around? Like Gravity, maybe. Heck, at this point, I'd take The World's End.

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Artemisia wonders where all the good men have gone. Hint: She killed them.

Robocop

It will shock no one when I mention that I haven't seen the original Robocop movie, or indeed any of the sequels or TV series it inspired. One of these days I'll sit down with a list of all those movies you're supposed to see before you die and my Netflix account and see how far I can get. I am informed, however, that this version is both less bloody (it's PG-13, after all) and less cyberpunk than the original, and Detroit actually doesn't look like such an awful place to live even before Robocop is on the job.

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Alex stares at his new hand and his old, trying to tell left from right.

I, Frankenstein

Since the zombie movie craze seems to be dying down -- no pun intended -- it's apparently time to move on to other sorts of undead. I suppose you could argue that Frankenstein's monster was the very first zombie, but somehow that never quite feels right, does it? He didn't crave brains, after all, and he couldn't make more zombies by biting people, either, so he's more like his own category, really.

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When the scary undead guy asks for his book back, just give it to him.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, 2013 Edition

There seemed to be fewer options for Bad this year, but also fewer options for Good, so I'm not entirely sure that this is a good trend. I hated to pick on movies like, say, Carrie, which were disappointing but at least seemed to be making every effort to be good films. I wouldn't exactly go as far as an A for effort, but it seemed mean to actively pan them. Read on to see who the winners (and losers) were:

The Good:

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The Return of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, 2013.

47 Ronin

While 'realistic' isn't going to be one of the adjectives featured on the Blu-ray cover, the story of the 47 Ronin actually is real. It does not, however, involve demons, haunted woods, or people turning into dragons, as this movie would have you believe. It also didn't take place in ancient Japan, despite what the opening voice-over says. The eighteenth century was a while back, admittedly, but it won't count as ancient for quite some time yet.

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The witch preparing to drop in for a visit. Note the creepy mismatched eyes.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Now it's easier to see how they managed to pad the book out to three movies -- they not only added in Legolas, they wedged in a romantic subplot... and a very unlikely one, too, let me add. Of course, any overt romance in a Tolkien novel is unlikely, so whenever you see it in a movie adaptation you can be pretty sure it was added in later by command of some studio executive.

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Close up of the eye of Smaug.  Not a sight for the faint of heart.

Hunger Games: Catching Fire

This time, as well as being bigger, grander, and more expensive than the original Hunger Games, the sequel is also darker and more depressing. I guess it's a bit like the Harry Potter franchise in that respect -- as the kids grow up, the situations get more grown-up, in the worst sense. But anyway, it must be a lot easier to get all the actors back when the first movie was wildly successful, and that seems to have been the case here, since everyone who didn't die is back.

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Katniss and Peeta on fire for their grand entrance. Well, some like it hot.
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