Phase 4 shows the MCU is running on empty

No, I’m not being paid by Warner Bros. or DC to write this.

Honestly, for the longest time I rejected this notion. Marvel Studios had a really good track record here at this site. Aside from “Thor: The Dark World,” most entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe received a 3 out of 5 or higher from yours truly.

For those who may not know, that’s enough to get a “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes. That was true right up through the summer of 2019.

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REVIEW: ‘Secrets of Dumbledore’ entertains, but is far too disjointed

This new “Fantastic Beasts” movie just reminds me the last “Harry Potter” came out more than 10 years ago, when I was still in college. Where does time go?

While there’s been some time since “Harry Potter” ended, though, the Wizarding World is carrying on. The latest franchise installment is the third entry in the “Fantastic Beasts” saga, with Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) still posing a threat to the magic nations.

In response to the Grindelwald threat, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) recruits a team including beasts expert Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), American charms professor Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), Scamander’s brother Theseus who’s an elite dark wizard catcher and WWI veteran Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). Dumbledore has to rely on this team, as there’s a spell preventing him from battling Grindelwald directly.

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REVIEW: ‘The Batman’ is a brilliant caped crusader story

Some of the best elements of the “Batman” interpretations by directors Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan are melded into the new crime epic featuring the Dark Knight.

In director Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” Robert Pattinson stars as Bruce Wayne, who spends his nights out in Gotham City as the caped crusader. The film picks up with him meeting with Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) after a night of fighting criminals to consult on a murder case.

The victim is the city’s mayor, and the suspect is the Riddler (Paul Dano), who leaves behind haunting clues. The killing sets Batman on an investigation, where he partners with Gordon and a cat burglar, Selina (Zoe Kravitz). The investigation brings him in conflict with the city’s underbelly, with the likes of the Penguin (Colin Farrell) in his way.

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REVIEW: ‘Space Jam’s’ New Legacy is mostly lousy

Do you love Warner Bros.? And I mean really love Warner Bros.? Then do I have the movie for you.

Warner Bros. has brought back its “Space Jam” concept, this time swapping His Airness with King James. In this film, Lebron James is having trouble connecting with his son Dom (Cedric Joe), who’s more interested in video game design than basketball, something that the NBA star isn’t excited about.

The future hall of famer gets a crash course in video games, though, when he visits the WB studio, which has a proposal for him to star in their movies through a program created by an artificial intelligence named Al G. Rythm (Don Cheadle). When James turns the idea down, Al G. Rythm is upset and decides to bring both Dom and James into the digital realm. where he challenges the NBA player to a game of basketball, against video game characters his son invented.

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REVIEW: The Devil went down to ‘Conjuring’ and it wasn’t a good time

The totally not con-artist Warrens are back in another movie about a demonic possession that really happened and wasn’t made up.

Yes, there was a lot of sarcasm in that lede.

The eighth film in the “Conjuring” cinematic universe takes place in 1981 with Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) assisting in an exorcism of a young boy. In the process of the exorcism, the demon possessing the boy is transferred to a man assisting in the situation, Arne (Ruairi O’Connor).

During the altercation, Ed suffers a heart attack and is taken to a hospital. When he recovers, he warns of Arne’s possible possession, but it’s too late. Arne commits murder on his landlord and is arrested by the police. Facing a potential death penalty sentence, the Warrens begin an investigation into the possession to try to prove in court that it was a demon that caused the murder.

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REVIEW: ‘Tom and Jerry’ is a total loss

“Tom and Jerry” were never my favorite series of classic animated shorts. With this movie, though, I had hope that maybe a modern take on the characters could result in a fun family flick mixing live action with animation.

I was so, so wrong.

As the title suggests, this follows the well known cat and mouse duo of Tom and Jerry. The film starts off with the two now living in New York City. In the Big Apple, Jerry is considering where he’d like to live, while Tom has a dream of being a piano player and has been working on his craft in Central Park. The two eventually run into each other, though, and a bit of chaos ensues.

Eventually, through a series of events, Jerry finds himself at a fancy hotel and decides to settle down. At the same time a young woman who’s looking for work and is known for hustling, ends up getting hired at the hotel just as it’s ready to hold a celebrity wedding. The woman, Kayla (Chloe Grace Moretz), starts the job and is soon tasked with getting rid of Jerry, as the hotel’s reputation can’t handle a mouse being there. To help the situation, she enlists Tom to help.

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REVIEW: Excessive techno-babble makes ‘Tenet’ tiresome

Having nearly three fourths of the dialogue in your movie be scientific terms and concepts doesn’t make your movie smart.

“Tenet” follows a character simply known as The Protagonist (John David Washington). A spy who appears to work for the American intelligence apparatus, Washington’s character is assigned a mission where he has to investigate weapons that defy time.

For example, the spy is shown bullets that are inverted, which means they move backwards in time. On his mission, the Protagonist is assisted by a helpful contact named Neil (Robert Pattinson). As the mission continues, the Protagonist discovers the main person associated with the weapons is Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh). To get close to the arms dealer, the agent begins speaking with Sator’s wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki).

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REVIEW: ‘Scoob’ doesn’t have full charm of classic series, but still satisfies

The latest big screen adaptation of “Scooby Doo” isn’t flawless, but it was a refreshing cinematic experience after those terrible live action pictures from the 2000s.

The first minutes of “Scoob” serve as an origin story, showing how Shaggy (Will Forte) met his dog and best friend Scooby Doo (Frank Welker). A short time later, they meet three other kids, Fred (Zac Efron), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried) and Velma (Gina Rodriguez). After the group uncovers a plot involving a fake haunted house, they continue hanging out and become Mystery Inc.

The movie then shifts to the present day where the crew is finding more success, but Shaggy and Scooby are feeling left out. When the two get separated from the other three, they get roped into a mission to save the world by the hero Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) and his robot dog Dynomutt (Ken Jeong). Eventually, the combined Blue Falcon squad and Mystery crew have to team up to take down the villain Dick Dastardly.

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Monday Movie Report: WB pushes back ‘Batman,’ shifts schedule

A new “Batman” film and other pictures in development under the Warner Bros. umbrella are being pushed back because of the coronavirus.

According to Variety, WB has altered its plans for “The Batman,” a prequel film to “The Sopranos” and a picture titled “Many Saints of Newark.” Most notable is “The Batman,” which stars Robert Pattinson and was set to hit theaters June 25, 2021.

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REVIEW: ‘Teen Titans’ on the big screen is plenty of fun

It’s no secret that Hollywood today is mostly dominated by films adapted from comic books featuring superheroes. And while most of the films in the genre have been above average lately, it remains a category of movies ripe for comedy.

Enter “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies,” which spends nearly its entire hour and 30 minute runtime taking aim at superhero films, mostly under the DC Comics banner. For the most part, it ends up being a success.

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