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It's been a while since I've been to the movies, but I've been catching up a bit and have three to report on this week...

I was completely taken by surprise by World War Z, the new zombie movie produced by and starring Brad Pitt. I'm not a zombie guy. Don't go to those sorts of movies, and have never watched "The Walking Dead" on TV. (Though I hear it's great.) But for some reason, World War Z intrigued me, and I was rewarded for my interest - it is one of the best movies I've seen this summer, and is a genuinely suspenseful thrill ride of a movie with something serious on its mind.

The set-up is simple. Some sort of virus is turning people into zombies, the plague is highly contagious, and Brad Pitt is the former UN investigator tasked with finding out the origin of the virus so that an antidote can be found. But the first 20-25 minutes of the movie, I have to tell you, provide nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat anxiety ... and World War Z hardly lets you down from there as Pitt's character travels the world under increasingly treacherous conditions to find a solution. It is a really, really good movie...and one that uses special effects for narrative reasons, not just to create bigger and bigger disasters.

The ending is a little pat for my taste, but I think that's because they were unsure if they'd have a chance to make a sequel. But that is a small caveat. Go see World War Z on a big screen. It's worth it.

I am less enamored with The Wolverine, the latest in a series of movies featuring Hugh Jackman as the Marvel Comics mutant with big claws and the power of immortality. This one takes place almost completely in Japan, and it has a samurai thing going for it that made it sort of interesting to me.

It is actually the best super hero movie made this summer, in part because it actually has a kind of small scale to it - no cities are destroyed, and Jackman manages the feat of making this totally unreal character anchored in a kind of real world angst. In the end, it is sort of silly, and the bad guy is totally predictable. But it is better than most movies of this ilk, that is saying something.

Finally, I saw The Way, Way Back which is a wonderful little comedy/drama made by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who scripted The Descendants, one of my favorite movies of this and any year.

The Way, Way Back essentially is a coming of age story ... the main character is Duncan (Liam James), a sullen 14-year old who is dragged on a beach vacation by his divorced mother (Toni Collette) and her obnoxious boyfriend (Steve Carrell). There are scenes that are actually hard to watch, as these two actors convincingly two of the poorest excuses for adults and parents that I've ever seen.

But Duncan finds some solace at a local water park, where he meets up with Owen, the carefree owner played by Sam Rockwell in an outstanding comedic performance. Owen hires Duncan to do odd jobs, and Duncan begins to define himself and gain some confidence, little by little. On the face of it, this isn't anything special - except that it is delivered with charm, savvy writing, expert acting, and a real sense of place. I liked it enormously. And Rockwell ought to be a much bigger star than he is.

I do have to say that I'm looking forward to the fall movie season ... the movies will get a little more serious, and maybe there will be less of the comic book stuff.

Here are two trailers of movies I'm really looking forward to:

Monuments Men, directed by and starring George Clooney.

Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks.

Can't wait.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

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