‘Cloverfield Paradox’ pays lip service to science, turns into a familiar space thriller (Movie review)

“The Cloverfield Paradox” (which recently debuted on Netflix), the third installment of the loosely connected Cloververse saga, takes topical physics such as the recently discovered God Particle and the popular multiverse theory and smashes them into a movie that has little to do with science. Let’s just say it’s not going to pass muster with Neil deGrasse Tyson or Michio Kaku. But while the space station crew’s paranoia amid a series of disasters is familiar, there’s still fun to be had here if you’re in the mood (and if you already have Netflix, you saved money on a movie ticket this time around).

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‘Life’ is another ‘Alien’ ripoff – but it’s one of the better ones (Movie review)

It’s hard to review “Life” (March 2017) — which I recently saw via Redbox – without entering into apologia. It is undeniably in the “Alien” ripoff subgenre. But it strikes me as odd that “Gravity” (2013), for example, has a 7.8 on IMDB and “Life” has a 6.6. Both are about accidents on a modern-day space station, featuring all-star casts and a mission statement to be realistic. Maybe the monster in “Life” is the difference-maker in that rating, but to me, the monster is a positive, not a negative.

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Wondrous settings and epic monster fights shine, but ‘Kong: Skull Island’ also has depth (Movie review)

I didn’t know if we needed another “King Kong” reboot per se, especially since Peter Jackson’s 2005 version was pretty great. And there are indeed some been-there, done-that moments in “Kong: Skull Island,” which hit theaters in March and is now on HBO. But darn it, this is such an amazing-looking movie that I have been won over. It’s even better-looking than “Alien: Covenant,” which was likewise filmed in seemingly untouched areas of Australia, and it also shot in Vietnam and Hawaii.

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Preston & Child’s ‘Beyond the Ice Limit’ blends familiar sci-fi themes into a fun, but too shallow, ride (Book review)

After receiving “many thousands” of letters and emails asking for a sequel to “The Ice Limit” (2000) (as they recount in an author’s note), Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child finally go “Beyond the Ice Limit” (May 2016, hardcover; now in paperback). As those readers sensed, and as the authors realize in this 374-page novel, there is more story to tell – and it’s a good one that stirs up a lot of sci-fi thoughts and ideas.

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‘The Monster’ makes a case for old-school creature effects, human resiliency (Movie review)

If you can spare 91 minutes for a taut, tense horror flick, check out “The Monster,” which had a limited theatrical release last year and is now available on Amazon Prime. Starring an against-type Zoe Kazan (“Ruby Sparks,” “What If”) as mother Kathy and 15-year-old Ella Ballentine as daughter Lizzy, this riff from writer-director Bryan Bertino dispenses with the cheese and delivers a lot of scares for its relatively low budget.

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Engrossing ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ shows a different way to build a franchise (Movie review)

“10 Cloverfield Lane” — now available at Redbox — is one of those Mystery Mine Ride movies that are all too rare: a film that gives you a small taste of what to expect, but could go in just about any direction. The first movie in the franchise, 2008’s “Cloverfield,” also fit the bill. There was no particular reason to call it “Cloverfield,” except that it needed to be called something. The trailers and buzz pushed a mysterious must-see vibe, and the reputation of producer J.J. Abrams put people in the seats, but we didn’t know it would be a found-footage monster movie until we saw it.

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