‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Avatar’ (2001) (Book review)

“Avatar” (March 2001), the sixth original novel in the “Angel” line, isn’t exactly a surprising affair, but it does have a nice mix of original characters and insights into our heroes. John Passarella, who had previously penned the solid “Buffy” young-adult book “Ghoul Trouble,” proves that he knows his way around L.A. and the Angel Investigations office, too.

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Alicia Vikander, more serious tone result in a winning ‘Tomb Raider’ relaunch (Movie review)

“Tomb Raider,” a reboot of the film series based on the popular video games, follows the same plot structure as 2001’s “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.” But it’s a much better film because, quite simply (that’s easy to say on paper), it takes itself more seriously. This is perhaps a reflection of what audiences want nowadays. At the turn of the century, substance-free actioners were common – and boy are those two Angelina Jolie films light on substance and heavy on silliness — but now filmgoers appreciate a veneer of seriousness.

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All 15 ‘Jurassic Park’ stories, ranked (Movie, book and comic book commentary)

“Jurassic Park” might not seem like a candidate for lots of spinoff material – and indeed, the franchise has contented itself with blockbuster films as of late. (The latest, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” lands Friday, June 22.) But there have been enough comics released through the years to pad out a list of 15 distinct “JP” yarns. Here’s a ranking of every “Jurassic Park” story, from the worst comic books to the best of Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Oz: Into the Wild’ (2001-02) (Book and comic book reviews)

Oz served an important role on “Buffy” as a representative of a classic monster (the werewolf), Willow’s boyfriend, and a steadying presence among the Scooby Gang. But, despite the fact that Seth Green was the second-most-famous actor in the cast, there weren’t many Oz-centric episodes. When Green left the show in Season 4, it left a gap between “Wild at Heart” (4.6) and “New Moon Rising” (4.19) that felt rather empty. And even though the two episodes themselves are great, they feel like Willow episodes more so than Oz episodes.

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All 13 episodes of ‘Daredevil’ Season 1 (2015), ranked (TV review)

In retrospect, I was destined to be a huge “Daredevil” fan before finally getting around to watching Season 1 (2015, Netflix) of this Marvel Cinematic Universe series. Frank Miller’s 1980s comics that redefined Daredevil into a grim vigilante heavily influenced Eastman & Laird’s invention of one of my favorite comics: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Splinter comes from Stick, the Foot comes from the Hand, and the same ooze that gives Daredevil his heightened senses mutates the Turtles.

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Hollywood Noir’ (2001) (Book review)

“Angel” and hardboiled detective fiction are such a natural fit in book form that I almost wish every novel in the series used the style. But at least we have “Hollywood Noir” (January 2001), where Jeff Mariotte – in his second entry in the series – leans into the genre, while still writing a story that could only exist in the “Angel” world.

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‘Strangers: Prey at Night’ is a deliciously stylish follow-up to the 2008 thriller (Movie review)

“The Strangers” (2008), chronicling a couple (Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler) cornered in their rural home by masked psychopaths, is a beloved cult classic. One of my friends counts it as his favorite thriller of all time. If you’re going to tell the next chapter in this franchise, you better not wade in half-hearted. Luckily, director Johannes Roberts (“47 Meters Down”) dives in to “The Strangers: Prey at Night” (now available for home viewing) with a smart sense of style while also respecting the theme and mythology of writer-director Bryan Bertino’s original.

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An outsider’s take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (2018) (Movie review)

This blog series chronicles my first viewing of the complete MCU movie saga. I’ll examine each film under various categories that reflect popular discussion points. Next up is the 19th film, “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018):

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Don’t trust the trailer: ‘Game Night’ is a brilliant, laugh-out-loud comedy (Movie review)

Earlier this month, I reviewed “Annihilation,” a mediocre movie with a great trailer, and following it onto home video is “Game Night,” which somehow has an awful trailer but is laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who wrote last year’s sharp superhero film “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” smoothly transition to the director’s chair, wonderfully finding the humor in a script by Mark Perez (“Accepted”).

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