The Boston Globe's thumbnail review for Captain America says the movie "packs a powerful, but predictable, patriotic punch." How is that different from saying that it "packs a predictable, but powerful, patriotic punch?"
I'm curious about which construction you all think is the more positive, because this is a trick reviewers use all the time, choosing between
a powerful, but predictable, patriotic punch
a predictable, but powerful, patriotic punch
a powerful but predictable patriotic punch
a predictable but powerful patriotic punch
a powerful--but predictable--patriotic punch
a predictable--but powerful--patriotic punch
to hedge an opinion or (more frequently in our circles) to "say something nice" even when you don't feel particularly enthusiastic. But I'm not sure readers agree about which placement does what. I think that the second adjective generally has more of an impact than the first, but you could argue that the phrase set off by commas will be read more parenthetically and thus more readily dismissed. And if you don't use the commas, do the adjectives become equal?