Category Archives: Movies

Wonder Woman: Movie Review

When Batman v. Superman was first being advertised I was probably more excited at the prospect of the movie than I was about any other comic book movie to date, with perhaps the exception of Captain America 2 and 3 (Winter Soldier and Civil War). Wonder Woman had been teased as a character that would be fighting alongside the Caped Crusader in some of the final trailers just before the films release. This raised my interest but still wasn’t my selling point for BvS. Then when I saw BvS in theaters for the first time I was so incredibly impressed with Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman that she was one of my favorite aspects of the movie. So much so that the then Wonder Woman movie which was still over a year out movie made it on to my must see list for 2017.

While I admit I still enjoyed Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad, none of them were great movies like can be said for some of Marvel’s MCU offerings. The bad part of a movie setting the bar so high for a genre is that it’s almost impossible to reach. The bad part about setting a bar so low is that you can’t help but trip on it, and even when you manage to make a decent movie it’s easy to fall victim to the “well of course it’s a good movie, look what we’re comparing it to” attitude. I worried that would happen with Wonder Woman.

Lucky for me, that didn’t happen. Yesterday my fiancé and I saw Wonder Woman in theaters and I was impressed. I mean thoroughly impressed. DC finally spent some time on a movie and didn’t just rush it into theaters. This movie was thoughtfully put together with a good story, a good set of characters, solid plot, great acting, good pace, and above all else, good action.

I love the slew of comic book movies we’ve enjoyed over the past decade and a half but even I can admit that we run the risk of genre fatigue at the rate these movies are being popped out. Wonder Woman was a much needed breath a fresh air in a genre that was starting to become stagnant.

We can talk about what this movie is, but I think it would be a better idea to first talk about what this movie is not.

It’s not boring. Not even a little. Nor is it rushed. The movie has a great rhythm. They don’t spend too much time on the origin aspect, nor do they rush through it (I’m looking at your X-Men Origins Wolverine). This porridge is juuuuuust right.

It’s not a testosterone fest. I love me some action. Daredevil season 2 has some of the most badass fight scenes to ever grace the television set and that’s great if you want to watch two men kick the snot out of each other. But this movie is different and while Wonder Woman no doubt kicks ass her fighting style is more fluid than it is brutal. She’s quick, she’s graceful, she’s always on point, and she still hits like a ton of bricks. There’s no Civil War chest pumping, no Batman brooding.

It’s not a chick flick. Just because it’s got a female lead doesn’t make this movie a slouch, or make it a chick flick. Diana Prince brings a new perspective to what it means to be a hero. Yes, a more womanly based approach that we’re not used to seeing, but a valid one. Fellas, this is not a movie meant to trick you into seeing an action movie that ends up turning into a romantic comedy.

It’s not a SJW shit flick. This movie is not trying to shove some anti patriarchy, man hating, women rule boys drool propaganda down your throat. It’s not. Don’t worry that you’ll get dragged into this movie to be told how evil you are for having a dick.

It doesn’t look CGI heavy. I say look because there’s no doubt this movie used a ton of Hollywood magic but the movie still appears very clean. The CG is not in your face, it’s very subtle. Basically, this movie wasn’t Avatar. It wasn’t Transformers. It didn’t make your eyes bleed.

It’s hard to believe that the DCEU could make a legitimately good movie. While none of the other three films were commercial flops by any metric, they just weren’t great movies. The DCEU up to this point has been a hot mess, and considering that no movie studio, not even the successful Disney / Marvel studio has made a comic book movie with a female lead, it seemed like very dangerous territory for DC  to venture into. But it looks like a female lead and a female director we’re exactly what the doctor ordered for this studio and wow, did it work.

So here’s what we got. This movie had a good amount of action and it progresses with the movie as Diane comes into her own, with the realization of what she is, and what she’s capable of doing. There are many different types of action sequences with scenes so ranging they feel like they came out of Troy, Captain America Winter Soldier, and Saving Private Ryan.

The casting was great. The best of any DCEU movie so far. Gal Gadot is absolutely beautiful, I mean just stunning (and a much better pick than Ronda Rousey). She can pull off the warrior princess, but she can also pull the sophisticated, elegant Diana Prince. Whether she’s flaunting a dress, a pea coat, or a sword and shield, Gadot steals whatever scene she is in. Remember, this is her second debut as Wonder Woman in just over a year and I have high hopes for her third debut in November’s Justice League.

I heard Chris Pine’s character as being the ‘damsel in distress’ and that’s far from the truth. This wasn’t about one gender being helpless, and the other having to save them. This movie illustrated that men and women have different qualities that can augment the other. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor struggles to find the balance between duty and conscience that most men do. At what point do you abandon orders and do what you know in your heart to be the right thing? Diana Prince helps him to see that morality and duty don’t have to be mutually exclusive. At the same time, Steve Trevor tries to teach Diana that things are not always as simple as black and white, and sometimes you must get your hands dirty to clean up a mess.

Robin Wright did a great job as Antiope. Wright is elegant, sexy, poised, and poisonous as Claire Underwood in House of Cards, but she is straight rugged in her role as a badass Amazon warrior. Her role was short lived, but certainly memorable.

David Thewlis as Ares, the god of war was a bit of a surprise to me, so it might be a bit of a spoiler to you. But IMBD has him listed in the role, so the cats already out of the bag.

Danny Huston does a good villain, and he performed as expected as General Ludendorff, the main protagonist of the first two acts of the movie. Fox Studios botched his role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (as they did most of the entire movie) so it was nice to see him get a role suitable for his abilities.

Wonder Woman will not be a movie soon forgotten. This movie easily gets an 8/10 score from me, and will be the first movie from the DCEU that I care to own on Blu-Ray. Here’s hoping that Gal Godot is not acted out, and can pull off this character a third time in just a year and a half with this fall’s Justice League. I expect this movie will do commercial well. Just like children’s movies result in the parents having to buy a ticket, this movie will probably draw not just the usual male comic book movie crowd, but their wives and girlfriends (if those dorks have any). If you want an action and adventure movie to jump start your summer, I recommend this over Disney’s seafaring five-quel.

Go see Wonder Woman. And bring your wife and kids too.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2: Movie Review

Last night I saw an early screening of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as part of a 3D double feature of GOG1 and GOG2 back to back. While I am not a huge fan of wearing the 3D glasses, watching both movies back to back certainly was fun and really added to the experience of the second movie. While the sequel certainly time skips a couple years or so, it doesn’t feel like. Right from the beginning you get that gangs all here vibe. Even with that annoying kid who kept kicking my seat, the movie just felt right.

Director James Gunn did a wonderful job with the sequel. That’s doesn’t sound like much but in the world of sequels, sequels of sequels, pre-quels, and side-quels, it’s really easy for a story to get run out. So the simple fact that this was a good sequel is actually a huge freaking deal. We’re so used to sequels and reboots that it’s easy to get jaded, and some Marvel titles are among the worst offenders. I’m looking at you Spider-Man. But fear not, this is a sequel that lives up to the hype of it’s predecessor.

It wasn’t a runaway better sequel like Dark Knight was to Batman Begins, or Winter Soldier was to Captain America 1, but GOG2 was at the very least on par with GOG1. And considering how good the original was, saying this movie was “good enough” is actually a huge complement.

There were a lot of similarities and a lot of differences in this movie, some of which are splitting hairs.

Family

Whereas Guardians was more about friendship, this movie was more about family. Everything from the way the group interacts as a whole and how individual members interact with one another, to how they perceive satellite characters and the world around them. Peter Quill and Gamora have an ‘unspoken’ burgeoning romance and assume a sort of paternal and maternal role in the group, which is hilariously referred to in the mid-credit scenes.

Everyone misses the family they lost, or never had to begin with. Quill’s heartbreak over his mom and his frustration with not knowing his father plays front and center most of the movie. It also focused a lot on his relationship with Yondu. Gamora tries to reconcile her relationship with her estranged and murderous sister, Nebula. Drax misses his wife and child. Rocket who has never had a real family struggles with learning how to embrace his new adoptive family. And Groot… well… ha… you’ll just have to see the movie for yourself.

We see the Guardians start to function as more of real team or family unit, as opposed to ‘a bunch of guys running around shooting guns’ to quote Steve Rogers. In Vol. 1 they were for the most part winging everything. Vol. 2 gives us a well-oiled albeit argumentative machine. The guardians have hit their stride and saving the world is all part of the routine.

Humor

Everyone knew this movie was going to be funny. If the original movie didn’t clue you off, the marketing campaign should have made it abundantly clear this movie was going to have you laughing, but the ads didn’t do the movie justice. This movie delivers the laughs. Chris Pratt needs no introduction to comedy. Bradley Cooper’s Rocket of course brings foul mouthed comedy and that was no shocker.

To my surprise, Dave Batista’s Drax the Destroyer stole the show in terms of pound for pound comedy. Drax had me about to cough up a lung I was laughing so hard.  But don’t worry, you’re beautiful on the inside.

The jokes and moments are too many to list, but if you want to laugh, go see Guardians 2, you won’t be disappointed.

Heart

What you probably didn’t expect was that this movie has some serious heart. More so than any other movie I’ve seen in a long time, and certainly more so than any other comic book movie. At one point in the movie I was borderline crying. Like seriously, about to cry.

This wasn’t some thrown together chemistry like that awkward ‘romance’ between Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley in Pirates. James Gunn very carefully laid the framework for real characters you could relate to, and real connections you can commiserate with, and the actors did an amazing job making this all believable. When the characters laugh, you laugh with them, and when they cry, you feel it too.

This is what makes GOG2 so much more than just ‘another comic book movie’. This isn’t just thrashing and shooting and blowing shit up, even though that does happen too. There’s a huge reservoir of emotion beneath the surface. The movie is galactic in scale but it doesn’t have to be. It wouldn’t make any difference if took place in Nebraska. GOG2 wasn’t using eye boggling graphics and CGI scenes as a crutch for good story telling like some other movies starring robots. Guardians stands firmly on two feet with the cast, story, and directing alone. The graphics are just a welcomed bonus.

Graphics

But yeah, about ‘dem graphics. Like I said before, I don’t like wearing those 3D glasses but if you can spare a couple bucks to see Volume 2 in 3D it’s certainly worth doing at least once. The graphics in this movie really are something else. Avatar was incredible when it came out for it’s vibrance and surrealism. Guardians 2 is incredible for it’s vibrance and realism. Despite the fact that I know none of this stuff is real, it actually feels real. One particular scene that takes place on the ‘planet’ Ego comes to mind, where Disney/Marvel literally made a planet in outer space and synthesized their own new alien vegetation just to film this scene. I’m pretty sure. Like 99% sure that was actually filmed on an alien planet….

I swear to God if you kick him one more time I’ll sue Disney.

Soundtrack

Everyone had to be looking forward to the soundtrack and movie score. The retro 80’s esque band poster and the amazing soundtrack of the first movie had me curious to see what the sequel had in store. It definitely had some nice tunes, specifically Fleetwood Mac, but sSadly this is the one aspect of the movie that was not as good as the original.

Summary

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cheer, you’ll get an adrenalize rush. This movie has everything you need. It had everything you liked about the first movie without feeling redundant. And it has a bunch of really cool new stuff without feeling avant-garde and forced. The cast as expected did an amazing job turning a ragtag bunch of Marvel’s bottom of the barrel characters and turning them into generations of memorable heroes and millions of dollars of brand merchandizing for Disney.

It might not sound like I’m singing praise for this movie because I keep likening it to the first movie. Because I don’t have to. Guardians of the Galaxy was, in my opinion, one of the best movies ever made, and this movie is equally good, if not just a tad better. So if you know how much I loved the original, that alone should tell you how great I thought Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 really was.

I give this movie a 10/10. Run, don’t walk, to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Beauty and the Beast Live Action Movie Review

As a kid I really enjoyed the Beauty and the Beast Disney cartoon. Almost everything about the film was great, from the music, the animation, the amazing scenery and backdrops, and the incredible job Disney did with the ‘Tale As Old As Time’ ballroom scene which perfectly blended still frame and computer rendered animation and to this day still stands the test of time.

Character wise there was something for everyone. Lumiere was hilarious and charming and pushed the story along. Mrs. Potts was endearing and lovely. Chip was playful. Cogsworth was the Winney the Pooh Rabbit and kept things grounded. Lefou was comical relief, and Gaston in my opinion stole the show. I pretty much liked everything about the movie except the primary titular character – Belle.

This new live action version of Beauty and the Beast pretty exaggerated the few things I disliked about the animated movie, and ruined the things I enjoyed.

Belle was already a pretentious, stuck up, gold digging bitch in the original but at least she lived up to the name, and was amazingly beautiful (ya know, for a cartoon).

Emma Watson is lovely, pretty, and cute as a button but I wouldn’t define her as classically beautiful. And if you didn’t like Belle before, you’re not going to like her now. She’s ruder, more pretentious, and more stuck up than ever before except now she’s just a weensy bit less beautiful and doesn’t sing as well.

This movie really went out of its way to paint Gaston as a bad guy. You might be thinking, wasn’t Gaston already the villain of the first movie? And I would respond, no, no he wasn’t. Not convinced, read my blog from Jan 2015, The Cold Hard Truth About Beauty and The Beast. In the animated film, Gaston and the village legitimately thought that Belle’s father, Maurice, was insane and that’s why they had him committed to the asylum. In the live action movie, his motivation was changed entirely to extorting Belle to marry him. It’s as if Disney thought “the lead straight, white, male was villainy enough in the original, so we reaaaalllly need to drive the point home this time”.

There was also possibly some anti-gun sentiment injected into the movie. In the animated version Gaston used a bow and arrow when he confronted the Beast. In the live action this was changed to a pistol. Because, ya know, guns are bad mmmm’k.

The new film pretty much slaughtered the barroom ‘Gaston Song’ which was one of my favorites from the original. LeFou gave people in the bar money to convince them to sing along in praise of Gaston even though in the cartoon, everyone in town legitimately likes Gaston and doesn’t need to be bribed. And they got rid of Gaston’s awesome three-shot-musket scene!

The remake didn’t seem like a live action movie as much as it did a play that just so happened to be filmed. That might seem like the same thing to many people but there is a difference in that plays have more flare and drama. Everything from the impassioned inflections to the wardrobe to the action is intentionally dramaticized, and would seem awkward in a movie, especially a live action movie. There is a reason for this. In plays, not all the audience has the same view. However a 6 foot actor cannot be blown up for viewers in the back. To accommodate audience members in the far back, the characters have intentionally simple wardrobes with glaringly obvious colors, and disproportionately large props that will make them easier to discern from long distances. Since filmmakers can zoom in on a specific character when the scene calls for it, the overly simplified opera style wardrobe looks out of place, and almost cartoonish in live action films.

Basically, while the animated film was visually stunning, the live action film was visually unappealing. I disliked how the movie looked.

The pace of the new film was also very fast. There was hardly a moment to soak it all in before moving to the next scene. I think Disney felt they could get away with this because there isn’t much to think about if you’ve already seen the animated 1991 film. I didn’t like that Disney presumes you’ve seen the animated film. After all, that was close to 20 years ago and a huge part of the target audience probably wasn’t even alive when that movie was made. Even so, as someone who has seen the original countless times, I like for a movie to stand on its own two feet and not be dependent on another film when it’s not part of some greater franchise (ala Marvel’s MCU).

And not to be ‘that guy’ but it did seem a little weird that about 20% of the villagers/cast were black. The story takes place in 1700’s France, and not only that, 1700’s rural France. It just seemed forced. I won’t call it full blown historical correctionism because after all, this is a made up story about singing dishware but there is still a historical context, and just as you wouldn’t expect to see a 20% white populace in 1740’s Beijing, you wouldn’t expect to see that many black people in 1740’s Europe.

I don’t usually give bad reviews of movies and TV shows as you can see from my past reviews. I have what many would consider to be a low bar when it comes to cinema, but I really did not like this movie. It wasn’t fun. The songs you know and love weren’t as good. New songs you don’t know and won’t enjoy were introduced which no one is ever going to sing. The characters lacked that certain something, that je ne sais quoi from the animated film that made them so likeable. For a Disney movie this sure felt a lot like a B Studio production both in terms of final product and project foresight.

I give Beauty and the Beast (2017) a 3/5 and really don’t care to ever watch it again.

Step aside Belle. There’s a new best princess in town, and her name is Moana.

Doctor Strange: Movie Review

I saw Doctor Strange two Fridays ago. While it was definitely a good movie, well made, it definitely didn’t have me jumping out of my seat begging for more.

In a cinematic universe such as Marvel’s MCU, where the audience have come to expect larger and larger action sequences, a movie with relatively mild action and no explosions barely registers as a blip on the radar. That doesn’t mean that Doctor Strange was in anyway a let down. Marvel has beat the action movie drum long enough and I think they have come to terms with the fact that it may be time to try a new route, and Doctor Strange is definitely their biggest step in this new re-branding.

With over a dozen movies already released, plus five television shows, it was only a matter of time before Marvel started recycling some of their material. Doctor Strange to me seemed like a blend of Iron Man and Thor: The Dark World. They combined the character development and personal tale of Tony Stark with the overall story and tone of TTDW.

Meet Dr. Stephen Strange. A very successful, highly educated, self-absorbed dick who doesn’t respect his coworkers or those closest to him, and seemingly has no family to speak of. He’s a 1%er who drives expensive German cars, lives in a New York penthouse, and thinks he’s just God’s gift to man. Sound familiar? Let’s push forward. Said character gets into a horrible accident that physically maims him, and threatens his ability to return to his former life. Desperation and necessity beget progress, and our antagonist discovers their true calling.

Moral of the story: Don’t text and drive. Or maybe DO text and drive and then after dodging paralysis you might end up getting magical powers and your own movie!

The story moves like Thor: The Dark World in that the main antagonist isn’t trying to conquer the world, he’s trying to destroy it, himself included. There’s also a lot of instant teleporting from one place to the next. In TTDK this was caused by the convergence, and our hero was constantly swooping from one place or dimension to the next in the midst of battle. In Doctor Strange, our hero and company chase and are chased by the villains from one portal to the next, hop scotching across the city and world in Scooby doo fashion.

And that’s pretty much the movie. Despite the mystic allure of the movie and the exotic aroma the advertising gave off, the movie itself is pretty straight forward. It was pretty easy to follow. The story was linear with no detours. No twists. No turns. No tangents. The people you thought were good were good, and the bad guys were actually bad. No fake Mandarins or Obadiah Stane gotchas.

Pretty much everything you thought was going to happen, happened. An 8 year old could have guessed how the story was going to end after the first 20 minutes. Again, I am not trying to smack down the movie. It had great acting, great casting, great wardrobe, setting, effects, dialogue, etc. and the expected MCU quips to keep you chuckling. It just wasn’t grade-A original like Iron Man, Winter Soldier, or Guardians.

There isn’t anything bad to say about this movie. There also isn’t anything to brag about. Marvel made a solid, entertaining movie that will easily turn a profit, result in plenty of children’s toys and nerd swag, and which will bridge the gap between Civil War and the next Avengers installment and keep the MCU franchise churning forward.

Would I watch Doctor Strange again? Sure, why not. Would I purchase the DVD? Naw, but it would be a cool Christmas present maybe.

Post Script

One small grievance I have is not necessarily with this movie, but with what I consider to be an anachronism on Marvel’s part. Way back when, two and a half years ago in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Hydra agent Jasper Sitwell while being interrogated by Cap, Falcon and Black Widow spilled the beans on Zola’s plan for world domination and in the process rattled off a few names of people that would be targeted for death by the helicarriers once active. Among those names was Stephen Strange aka Doctor Strange. At first glance I suspected that perhaps the events of Doctor Strange actually took place prior to the events of Winter Soldier and that this was simply a slightly out of place side-quel that Marvel would simply weave back into the fold.

Viewers dorkier than I noticed that in Doctor Strange there were awards dated 2016 which confirmed the story itself takes place in current times, and several years after the events of CAWS.

So then what’s the deal with Sitwell name dropping Stephen Strange years before he was the sorcerer supreme of Earth?

Well, some people have supposed that Zola’s algorithm didn’t just find people that are currently problematic to Hydra but that might be down the road, and that Stephen Strange simply fit the bill as a potential pain in the ass. Possibly. But of the 7 billion people in the world who could pose a threat, I find it odd that Sitwell- a high ranking SHIELD and Hydra member would recall an apparent nobody by heart, especially when neither Cap, Black Widow, nor Falcon would know who the hell Stephen Strange even is. Sitwell name dropped Bruce Banner because the hulk at the time of CAWS was clearly on Hydra’s radar and was someone anyone in the world would likely have known by name, an additionally was close friends with the Avengers. To immediately follow up Bruce Banner with an apparent nobody??? I call bullshit.

This boils down to three theories:

  • Jasper Sitwell for whatever reason memorized the name of some random d-bag doctor no one knows or cares about. (unlikely)
  • Stephen Strange was already the sorcerer supreme of Earth at the time of CAWS (my guess) and someone at Marvel *oops forgot* about the earlier name drop, and messed up in Doctor Strange (also my guess)
  • It was simply an innocent Easter egg not intended to be anything more than a crowd pleaser (annoying, and not like Marvel to do)

At this point it really doesn’t matter, but it did irk me the night I saw it in theaters.

Batman v Superman: Movie Review

This has been the hardest movie for me to write a review about. Not because it was a horrible movie – it was a great movie – but because of the controversy and fanatic backlash that was thrown against it before it even hit the theaters.

Considering this is the first time ever that the two most popular and beloved comic book heroes in history would share the silver screen together, it’s amazing that Batman v Superman has had such a huge cloud of doubt surrounding it. If Marvel was able to turn heroes with no prior mass recognition like Iron Man, Thor, and Guardians of the Galaxy into hits, then surely Batman and Superman, the two most recognizable characters in existence should be an easy sell. It seems like this movie has been anything but.

Because of the magnitude of the movie, and because the trailers gave away very little about the movie (compared to Deadpool for example), it’s hard to do a review about the film and say why I loved it so much without also spoiling many of the finer points. Fair warning, this review does contain some minor spoilers.

The most important thing I took away from the movie is that you should forget everything you think you know about Batman and Superman. The closest source material I could think of is the graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns and the two-part animated film of the same name. Aside from those amazing pieces, this movie does not feature the Batman and Superman you grew up with and are accustomed to.

Paradigm Shift

According to the dictionary, a paradigm shift means a “fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.”  What I loved about BVS is that the movie took a lot of liberties with the characters and sort of reimagined their roles. Zack Snyder recognizes that we live in a different world than we used to, and a vastly different world than existed when the two titular characters were created in 1939 and 1938 respectively. As such, Zack Snyder created a paradigm shift in this DC Universe where the things we accept as fact – specifically as they relate to Batman/Bruce Wayne – are no longer the case.

Batman and Superman are no longer simply squaring off against bank robbers and cat burglars. These days our world has to contend with darker realities like human trafficking, drug cartels, pedophilia rings and terrorism. As the troubles we face evolve, so too do our heroes.

But as every cause has an effect, every effect has a cause. BVS shows you how changing the smallest of details about a character’s backstory can result in massive consequences and change of path. As time goes on, the gap between one path and the other widens, and the differences in outcome are glaring.

In 2005’s Batman Begins, a young Bruce Wayne witnesses his mother and father get gunned down outside the opera, and just before they get shot Thomas Wayne pleads with the assailant and tries to pacify the situation, ultimately getting killed despite his efforts. BVS begs the question, what if instead of trying to resolve the situation without violence, Thomas and Martha Wayne went down swinging? Even if they were still murdered, how might this one little detail impact a young, impressionable Bruce Wayne? And as time went on, how might this affect Batman?

The result, as explained by BVS, is a tougher, hardened, more forceful and less compromising Batman.

(Almost) Impeccable Casting

Bruce Wayne / Batman

Ben Affleck will impress even the staunchest of Batfleck doubters with his incredible performance of the Caped Crusader. This is an older, wiser, experienced Affleck, playing an older, wiser, battle hardened Bruce Wayne, and the pairing could not have been any better. While Christian Bale was a good placeholder in the ever revolving door of actors to don the cape and cowl, Ben Affleck actually fills the role and the suit. The result is a Bruce Wayne that you can actually relate to, and a Batman that is as physically intimidating as he is absolutely terrifying.

This is not your grandpa’s Batman. Not at all. In fact this Batman would curb stomp  Bale’s Batman, and then eat Tom Hardy’s Bane for dessert. I love Batman but one thing that always irked me about him wasn’t that he brooded, but that he always brooded. The guy was always a morose, mopey bastard, and at a certain point you want to say “dude come on. Your parents died like 30 fucking years ago. You’re a grown ass adult. Get over it already”. Or as Carmine Falcone put it…

Snyder and Affleck bring us a revised Bruce Wayne. One who is known to occasionally indulge in a night cap, flirt with women, swear, and dare I say it actually enjoy himself. This is a Bruce Wayne who actually gives a shit about the business his family started and seems to care about its success, its future, and its employees and their well-being as if they were an extension of his family.

Clark Kent / Superman

Henry Cavill brings a routine performance. Honestly, how complicated of a character is Superman? It’s not a hard role to mess up. Just be annoyingly good and one dimensional. But I will say this, Cavill was fit for the role visually and he brings the physical prowess that was sorely lacking when Brandon Routh played the character in 2006’s Superman Returns.

Also like Batman, this version of Supes actually has some spice added on. He has some backbone and cojones. He argues with his boss, he says fuck all with authority, and the man gets down with his lady and doesn’t care if the neighbors below complain about a leak in their ceiling. Just like Bruce Wayne, I like that Clark Kent actually has a personality this time around, and that for a change he doesn’t come off as a total boy scout.

Diana Prince / Wonder Woman

Granted her role in the story felt a little forced, I think the casting was fantastic. Gal Gadot is undeniably gorgeous but despite not being ‘roided out she did have a sort of effeminate brawn about her character. A sexy swagger. A bombshell femme fatale. And although she sports a dress like the finest of women, she can also throw down with the best of men. Gadot fits the role perfectly and I am genuinely interested in seeing her in the upcoming films, both standalone and Justice Leagues.

It’s also worth noting that I am very happy that Rhonda Rousey didn’t play Wonder Woman. Just saying.

Lois Lane

Meehhhh. Amy Adams just doesn’t do it for me. She’s pretty but she doesn’t have that va-voom look that Lois Lane is known to have. Plus the role has historically always been a brunette/raven. This is one of the few areas I am having a hard time breaking from the source material. I was a little annoyed at her character’s total disregard. She would run off to do a news piece in some godforsaken part of the world only to need to be rescued by Superman. Her character kind of reminds me of those American idiots that Travel to places like North Korea and Iran. That sort of entitled, let others clean up my mess type of shit that is all too prevalent these days.

Alfred Pennyworth

Again, amazing casting choice. Jeremy Irons is an amazing new take on Alfred. Instead of a butler, he’s more of a trusted confidant. He’s Lucious Fox meets security engineer meets best friend. This interesting amalgamation of roles, instead of the tried and tested man servant is a nice change. Alfred is as important in Batman’s crusade as Batman himself and this is an Alfred who is equipped to help Batman tackle the modern age technologically and morally. I am also interested to see Bruce and Alfred’s chemistry later in the franchise.

Lex Luthor

This is the one that ruined it for me. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was just horrible. The big thing was the age. Lex being so young that he could be Bruce’s son was different. And Lex is usually at least semi intimidating. He’s got nowhere near the stature of Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent, but he at least looks like he could throw down, and he often does.

This version of Lex Luthor is more creepy than intimidating and it’s hard to take seriously. While watching the movie I thought this Lex was like a creepy, maniacal take of Mark Zuckerberg, which finally occurred to me while writing this blog that Eisenberg actually did play a creepy, maniacal version of Mark Zuckerberg six years ago.

Spoiler alert, Lex goes to jail at the end of the movie so maybe when he appears in the next Justice League he’ll be prison ripped and toughened up and finally come off as a force to be reckoned with. But as of right now, I’m glad his character is confined to a jail cell and off screen.

The Batman

BVS felt more like a Batman movie with Superman in it, than a joint movie, and I think that’s a good thing. Batman movies sell and people can’t get enough of him.

Having grown up watching Batman it’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of a Gothamite to whom Batman is merely an urban legend. Imagine growing up in Gotham hearing stories of a bat creature terrorizing the criminal underworld. Never knowing if it’s a man or a monster. Imagine being a criminal in Gotham wondering if tonight’s the night you cross The Bat.

This movie reminded me how fucking terrifying Batman actually is. I won’t give it away but there was nice scene in the movie where I actually jumped back at the sight of Batman. It reminded me of something out of Jeepers Creepers.

Playing Catch Up

The big thing about this movie is that it felt a little rushed at times. DC is desperately trying to play catch up with Marvel and I hope they don’t expend all their energy on the first lap. DC did in two movies with BVS, what Marvel did in six with Avengers. BVS is only the second installment in the DC Extended Universe and were bombarded with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor and poked in the eye with Cyborg, Aquaman, and the Flash – and this wasn’t even a Justice League film.

The difference however is that neither Batman nor Superman need an introduction. Everyone already knows who these characters are so the movie hits the ground running. I do however hope they pause to explain a little more about Wonder Woman and offer more of an origins story for some of the other, lessor known characters that will be brought on screen or future adaptations.

Left Hand v Right Hand

Perhaps the one thing that bothers me the most about this movie is that DC currently has half a dozen other cinematic universes going on at the same time.

  • DC Extended Universe (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman)
  • Gotham
  • Arrowverse (Arrow, Flash, Constantine)
  • Supergirl
  • Plus a whole slough of animated universes such as the basic television animated Batman series
  • The New 52 animated movies

And all of this comes right on the heels of the Nolan trilogy to boot. It will be little hairy to follow all the various storylines simultaneously, especially for people who are new to these characters. I like what Marvel has done by streamlining all of their live action titles into a single, cohesive world. Let’s hope DC and Zack Snyder have a game plan.

Summary

All things considered I thought Batman v Superman was a great movie. It was different. It was edgy without trying too hard. It took a lot of risks (a la Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy) and I can certainly appreciate that. Zack Snyder has a real eye for converting comic book and graphic novels into live action movies with taste, and with real flare.

Perhaps I am wrong in saying this but Snyder also seems to have a history of a lacing his movies with a conservative undertone, which again, I really like. Either that or he chooses to make movies based on stories with conservative undertones, such as Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchman (Rorschach), Man of Steel, and now this film which had root in Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, a writer who also infuses his work with conservative undertones.

The movie rocked. You’ll probably enjoy this movie if:

  • You can’t stand that Superman is such a boy scout
  • You can’t stand that Batman is always moping around and never enjoys himself
  • You love Batman but cannot for the life of you understand why he takes such a limp wrist approach to characters like the Joker who have killed hundreds of people
  • You want to see Batman cuss
  • You want to see Batman get some giggity
  • You want to see some bad ass fight scenes

So I guess I like this movie for what it is, as much as I love this movie for what it’s not. And that is that it’s not the same old crap over and over again. A lot of people might not like the liberties DC took with these two archetype characters, but if you want the same old same old, you’re welcome to continue watching your Nolan Batman trilogy. For those of you daring for something new, this is the movie to see.

I would give this movie a 9/10, but because of Jesse Eisenberg and the rushed pace, I give the film an 8/10. It was thoroughly enjoyable and a very refreshing take on time tested characters and plotlines. I will no doubt purchase this movie when it comes out on Blu-Ray and I highly anticipate the next installment in the DCEU.

Movie review: Deadpool

I had been waiting for Deadpool since Fox officially announced they would make it back in 2014. I was waiting before then, since the idea of a Deadpool movie first came about in 2009 when a horrible rendition of the character appeared in Fox’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the shittiest X-Men movie in the franchise to date. In fact, XMOW was so shitty Fox literally made a sequel where they go back in time to undo the events of the movie, effectively making it non-canon.

Look two faces right of Wolverine, and who is that?! Gasp, you should! Reynolds as Wade Wilson the first time, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

As tangential as that may have sounded, it wasn’t. It’s the shittiness of Fox’s earlier comic book movie endeavors that produced the colossus (ha, get it?) of a movie that is Deadpool.

Deadpool is a wisecracking mercenary who has healing powers similar to Wolverine, and who uses swords, knives, guns, and chimichangas to hilariously kill his way through life. He’s also cognitive of the fact that he’s a comic book character and often “breaks the fourth wall” meaning he addresses the audience directly.

Fox’s 2016 Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds as the titular character Deadpool / Wade Wilson. What you may not know is that is technically the second time Reynolds portrayed the character. As previously mentioned, Reynolds played a version of the character, albeit a very much under done and poorly written version, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So that fact that Fox doubled down and went balls out to make a solo, R-Rated comic book flick about a character known for cussing up a storm and killing people actually got me a little hard.

If you haven’t seen Deadpool, SEE IT. Based on how many records it’s broken it’s hard to imagine there’s a soul left on this earth who hasn’t seen it. Ya know what, if you’ve seen it already, go see it again, smart ass.

Lets be honest, Fox took a bigger gamble with Deadpool than Marvel/Disney did with Guardians of the Galaxy. Which do you think is easier to market to children, talking raccoons in talking trees, or burn victim, foul mouthed, sex addicted mercenaries?

The movie was everything I expected and much more. It wasn’t just the above. Despite cramming in the character’s core persona and mythos, they managed to make the character relatable in and out of the spandex. Wilson talks like us. He walks like us. He drinks like us. He loves like us. He jokes like us. He’s not a choir boy, and he does fuck up every once in a while, but despite the fuckups he’s still a good guy, not a villain. And just like all of us, sometimes bad things befall him, for no wrongdoing of his own. And this movie did a fantastic job of showing what extremes a good people will go to in order to save themselves, and more importantly to better the lives of those we love.

Despite how much I love Marvel and their titles like Iron Man and Captain America, Wade Wilson is 10x more relatable to the audience than Tony Stark or Steve Rogers.

I don’t need to review this movie. The movie was great, and honestly you should see it. The only, and I mean only bad thing about the movie that I say actually has nothing to do with the movie itself. It has to do with the marketing. Fox was so worried about filling seats that they over marketed it. Leading up to the movie there were so many different teasers, trailers, clips, commercials starring Deadpool and viral marketing that by the time I first plopped my ass in the theater seat, I felt as if I had already seen the movie. And to be honest, I kinda did. Spend 20 minutes on YouTube and watch all the aforementioned and you’ve basically seen the movie. But just because I got filled up on Costco free samples doesn’t make the movie any less enjoyable.

Despite having blown most of its load in it’s advertising campaign, I still thought Deadpool was an amazing movie, and it definitely did not disappoint. It was funny, no, it was gut wrenching hilarious. On several occasions I thought I needed a respirator because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, which is sort of ironic once you’ve seen the movie. I particularly loved the jab about KFC sporks, especially since I thought I was the last person on earth to remember the fabled tool of the ancients. Just as Deadpool riddles his enemies with bullets, the entire movie is riddled with dick and fart and sex jokes and Mexican food. Comical jabs abound. The film has plenty of in your face comedy, but it also has tons of more subtle comedic moments that you have to pay attention to in order to appreciate. Tonally, the movie felt a lot like Archer.

The movie played very fast and loose with the whole breaking the fourth wall bit. Reynold’s Deadpool not only did so, but the movie also was self-aware and made plenty of references to out of movie productions that Reynolds and his former co-stars had participated in, such as Green Lantern, the Blade series, and the overall X-Men­ franchise even going so far as to name particular actors like Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, and Hugh Jackman.

It also goes without saying that the movie had plenty of action. Which is interesting now that I think about it because despite centering around a guy with swords and knives and things that go boom, the movie put comedy in the drivers seat, drama in shotgun, and action in the backseat. The X franchise was so dry and dull and comedy-less with over the top action that it was refreshing to see a change of formula. Deadpool, besides his healing, really doesn’t have “super powers”. He can’t fly or control the weather or shoot red crap out of his eyes or lift the entire Golden Gate Bridge. He can run, jump, and shoot, and he does ‘em all with style. This is definitely not an action movie the likes of Michael Bay.

Most of all, I am happy for Ryan Reynolds. He seems like a nice guy who just kept getting shafted career wise. Everyone loved him in Waiting and Van Wilder, but as iconic and memorable as those roles were they probably didn’t pay too well. Blade 3 was okay, but nothing compared to Blade 2. Then he had a series of mega flops like Green Lantern and R.I.P.D. So it’s great to see him getting a stab at a role that’s finally on par with the weight his name brings to a movie.

If you want a hilarious movie, with relatable characters, excellent dialogue, a healthy dose of action, the occasional insensitive remark, and a possibly CGI’ed super suit, then this is the movie for you. Or if you’re just tired of apocalyptic (irony again!) superhero movies.

Creed: Movie Review

It’s 9:53pm, I just got home from a sneak preview of the upcoming hit, Creed, the latest movie in the decades long running Rocky series. Yes, I said the upcoming hit, because this movie truly delivers.

Late as it, and as tired as I am, I’m not going to bed tonight until I get this review wrapped up. Most of the time when I go to the movies, I sit down, kick back, sneak in a beer to relax a little, then ride home and don’t think a whole lot about the last two hours.

Not this movie.

This time I sat down, kicked back, snuck in a beer, and never got around to drinking it. I didn’t want to relax. I didn’t want to lose my edge. Creed was so damn enjoyable the only way I wanted to watch it was stone cold sober. You know how EDM sucks so bad you need to be drugged out of your mind to tolerate your own existence while listening to it? This movie was the exact opposite.

The story centers around Adonis Creed, son of famed belated champion boxer Apollo Creed. Yes, the same Apollo Creed that squared off against Rocky Balboa. Given that Rocky IV is now 30 years old it should come as no spoiler to anyone that he died in the ring during an exhibition match against Drago, a Russian cyborg.

Young Adonis grows up knowing who his father is, but never tells anyone and prefers to go by his mother’s maiden name to prevent unwanted attention, and fades away into the noise of life. With his mother and father both deceased, he is raised by the state and develops some aggression. Some years later an older Adonis works a desk job in Los Angeles, moonlighting as a backdoor boxer. Adonis doesn’t wait for fate, he pursues it, and moves to Philadelphia with the sole purpose of befriending an exhausted Rocky Balboa. Through a series of (very well written) events, one thing leads to another and Adonis ends up biting off more than he can chew, coming face to face with the legacy of his family name.

This scene will get your blood pumping.

If that seems cliché, it’s only because I can only give away so much information without spoiling the movie. Adonis did not want to piggy back off of the fame of his father’s name. Similarly, the movie could have easily polished up a recycled B-list script, piggy backed off the success of the Rocky franchise and titled this movie Rocky 6, or Rocky: New Beginning, made a couple million and called it a day. Again, not this movie. I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of detail that went into this movie, from the story, to the script, the acting, the casting, the setting, and most importantly how this new story artfully wove itself into the existing canon. Creed very easily fits into the legacy, but would also be entirely enjoyable having never seen a Rocky film in your life.

Something I have been waiting to blurt out is that Michael B. Jordan knocked this role out of the park, or I should say the ring. Apparently his comic book action adventure Fantastic Four totally flopped in theaters both critically and commercially this year. After having watched Creed, I in no way attribute whatever failure Fantastic Four was to Jordan’s performance.

Something about Jordan’s portrayal of Adonis just feels right. From the moment the audience is introduced to the character, he latches on to and grows on you. I’ve seen a bunch of the recent fighting movies like Warrior, The Fighter, Southpaw, and although those are good movies, the characters are all kinda meh. You root for the guy, but only because you sort have to root for the main character, right? In Creed you genuinely want to root for the guy. Michael B. Jordan plays the role so well you forget you’re watching a fictional movie and start to feel like you’re a fly on the wall of a real person’s life, and his character is so damn likable you just want to reach into the screen and give the guy a hug. He was orphaned, is prone to fighting, and portrays that well without the stick-up-his-ass stench that makes it hard to warm up to characters like Tom Hardy’s in Warrior. I appreciated that Adonis wasn’t a walking stereotype. He wasn’t the brooding, he wasn’t angry, he wasn’t depressed, he wasn’t down on his luck, he wasn’t a rebel. He was a true to life character with a real, believable balance of emotions and personality traits that is damn hard to find in a modern cinematic character. I hope to see more of Jordan in future films.

Sylvester Stallone featured more heavily than I thought he would. From the advertising it seemed as though Stallone would cameo in the movie for a few minutes, have a second or two in trailer to create some buzz, put his name on the billboards to draw crowds, and then be all but absent in the film. Instead he had a very fair amount of screen time, and performed a very important supporting role to our central protagonist. Stallone is also more known for his iconic roles than for his acting prowess, but this may have very well been his best performance ever. The famed actor brought real heart and passion into his 6th and possibly last portrayal of the Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa.

Rounding out the cast was Tessa Thompson as the beautiful Bianca, who despite playing the again “cliché” love interest to Adonis Creed, is a very strong, modern, female role. The movie would have suffered a huge void without her, and she made a great addition to our family of characters. I loved that she wasn’t the typical nagging female character I’ve grown to loath. Lori Grimes from Walking Dead, Madeleine Swann from Spectre, Margaret Schroeder from Boardwalk Empire. Haven’t we had enough of these nagging anchors that call themselves women? Thompson as Bianca was a breath of fresh air, and reaffirmed that you can be a strong woman, and still be beautiful, kind, and loving, without being annoying, or a lesbian.

As do most of the movies that I love, Creed has real heart. I almost cried. I laughed more than I expected to. I commiserated with all the characters. The fight and training sequences were so intense and heart pounding my hands were sweating, my heart was pounding, my legs were shaking, and my hairs literally stood on end. Never since the original Rocky has a fight movie pumped you up so much. The movie was fresh, but it had plenty of nostalgia. True to form, what Rocky movie would be complete without a montage? And this movie managed to pull it off without the cheesy 80’s garb.

Creed was more than a sequel, it was a heart felt and worthy addition to the Rocky franchise.

 

Now, shall I be so bold… It is my opinion that this was the best movie of 2015. This was the best movie since Winter Soldier. And get this… Creed was the best movie in the Rocky franchise. I will probably see this movie once more in theaters, I will buy this on DVD, and I will anxiously await a sequel.

I give this movie a 10/10. Go see Creed in theaters, you will not be disappointed.