‘Get Out’ is a creepy, thrilling and eye-opening piece of social commentary

"Get Out" (now available on pay-per-view streaming) is the latest example of how a horror movie can be an effective vehicle for making a social statement. When I read the Amazon description that notes the race of the characters – a Caucasian girl brings her African-American boyfriend to meet her parents at their lake house – I hoped that was merely the starting point, because I wanted a few good scares more than a message. Race does end up being central to the story, but in such a sneaky way that I ultimately rate "Get Out" a near-masterpiece of "Twilight Zone"-esque storytelling.

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Wolverine trilogy goes out on top with unshackled ‘Logan’

"Logan" (now available on streaming) is the most unconstrained "X-Men" film so far, and – not coincidentally – it's also the best of the saga, which stands at 10 movies and counting (plus one TV show, with a second on the way). I'm a fan of the franchise, but with a lot of my "X-Men" reviews, I have caveats: I say it's good considering how many characters it tried to cram into the story, or it's good considering that it was trying to please a mass audience.

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'Terminator' flashback: 'Terminator Salvation' movie, novelization and comic book (2009)

The very first "Terminator" spinoff materials – the Now comics – explored the Future War, but aside from flashbacks/flash-forwards, it took another two decades for the Future War to be explored on screen. This makes "Terminator Salvation" (2009) stand out among the saga's screen incarnations, even though the plot points and themes will be familiar to readers of the spinoff materials, particularly Dark Horse Comics' early 1990s work.

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‘Manchester by the Sea’ a brutal tale of loss and recovery

There are safe tear-jerkers, like TV's "This Is Us" (where we kind of chuckle at the fact that it makes us cry), and then there are brutal ones, like "Manchester by the Sea" (2016, now streaming on Amazon Prime), the first film from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan since 2011's bizarrely underrated "Margaret."

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10 movies I wouldn’t mind seeing this summer

These are 10 movies I wouldn't mind seeing this summer:

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

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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Ricky Gervais’ old ‘Office’ humor still lands in ‘Life on the Road’

Following up on BBC's "The Office" – which aired back in "Two Thousand and cough-cough" (actually 2001-03) – Ricky Gervais finds there's still plenty of room to pound the joke into the ground in "David Brent: Life on the Road" (released last year in the U.K., and now available on Netflix). Although there are some viewers who feel the punchline already landed in "The Office," I enjoy a joke being stretched out till it becomes funny again, and that's what happens in "Life on the Road," which impressively adds more layers ... well, to the one layer.

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16 years before ‘Riverdale,’ there was ‘Josie and the Pussycats’

The Archie Comics gang debuted in 1941 and still hold their place as American high school archetypes. They made the leap to cartoons in the '60s, to a TV movie in 1990 ("To Riverdale and Back Again") and to a live-action series in the mid-'90s ("Sabrina, the Teenage Witch"). Those adaptations were tame and straightforward. But recently, creative types have found that the Archie material and characters can provide a solid foundation for modern social commentary, with a more serious comic line launching in 2015 and the murder mystery TV serial "Riverdale" debuting last month on The CW.

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Movies and TV shows I’m looking forward to in 2017

Here are 10 movies and TV shows I'm looking forward to as a new entertainment year begins:

"Riverdale" (TV show, Jan. 26, The CW) – "Archie" – as in Betty, Veronica, Jughead, et al, from the comics – isn't the hippest idea for a TV adaptation, but throw in some murders and this could be a fun romp that launches new stars. Camila Mendes, as Veronica, particularly looks like a breakout, and it'll be nice to see "Beverly Hills, 90210's" Luke Perry return to the tube as Archie's dad.

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‘Star Wars’ flashback: ‘The Clone Wars’ movie (2008)

Disney's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is getting a lot of buzz, an odd contrast to the last time a "Star Wars" film outside of the numbered episodes premiered. In August 2008, I mentioned "The Clone Wars" movie to friends, and they responded with "There's a new 'Star Wars' movie out?" Although it was a wide-release film, there wasn't much of a marketing push behind it, because George Lucas decided fairly late in the game to release the first four-episode arc of the new TV series as a "movie."

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