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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.

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.

Ant-Man: Movie Review

After the complete let down that was Avengers: Age of Ultron, my inner-Marvel-self was riding low. After Iron Man 3 I didn’t think I could ever be so disappointed in a Marvel movie, but Age of Ultron proved me wrong, so admittedly the bar was low going in to Ant-Man.

Who the hell is Ant-Man? How does it play into the grand scheme of things? Can Marvel succeed with a no-name franchise?

But alas, Marvel also managed to pull Guardians of the Galaxy out of the deepest, darkest corner of the comic book archives and turn it into a massive success. I was hopeful.

If you too are humming and hawing about seeing Ant-Man, don’t. It’s a good movie and you’ll enjoy yourself. Here is what made Ant-Man a great movie.

Piece of the Puzzle

Ant-Man isn’t some random Marvel movie orbiting around the Avengers in the far off distance – like Guardians. It fits snuggly into the MCU where it rightfully belongs, and it keeps reminding you throughout the entire film.

Like any intriguing story, Ant-Man starts with a prelude – taking place decades before the events of the movie itself. It methodically weaves itself into the other franchises such as Iron Man, Captain America, and Agent Carter. You start to realize that Ant-Man has been a part of the story all along, you just didn’t know it.

The bald guy is always the villain.

We get some fun guest appearances from an aging Peggy Carter, and a still-kicking Howard Stark (played by the same actor from Iron Man 2, John Slattery). At one point in the movie that was featured in the trailer, Paul Rudd even says “I think we should call the Avengers”, putting all the cards on the table.

Running with the Big Dogs

I often find myself thinking Marvel = Avengers and Avengers = Marvel, and anything else is secondary and can’t possibly live up to the hype. But Guardians of the Galaxy and the Daredevil series on Netflix both proved me wrong, and Agents of Shield and Agent Carter aren’t too shabby either.

Ant-Man definitely exceeded my expectations. It was a well written movie, with great casting, and it had that special Marvel recipe of the perfect blend of action and humor that has made the franchise so successful.

What’s this? An Avenger in the flesh? Gasp you should.

It’s clear that Ant-Man and his allies will play an important role in the story to come, and I think it’s safe to say that as a movie series it will be a successful money maker and an audience pleaser. Ant-Man might not have the same wow factor as Iron Man or Captain America, but it’s no slouch either. Whereas Iron Man started out with a bang and then fizzled out into the butt of the series, I think Ant-Man will follow in the footsteps of Captain America, starting off small and really gaining some traction and popularity in its second installment like Cap did with Winter Soldier.

Paul Rudd Kills It

I’ve always liked Paul Rudd. From Clueless, to 40 Year Old Virgin, to Role Models, Paul Rudd always did a fantastic job of playing a very relatable character. He’s likeable, but that’s an understatement. Molly Young from NY times described Rudd best when she said “You can add Rudd to any movie, and the movie will taste better. He is the MSG of actors.”

He’s not Schwarrzenegger, he’s not Jason Stathom, he’s not Liam Nesson, and he’s not Daniel Craig. He’s the Joe Schmoe of action heroes. Rudd is completely out of his element, both as a hero, as the lead role, and especially as the titular character, and perhaps that’s what makes him such a good match for Scott Lang.

Yes, an actual scene from the movie of Paul Rudd working at Baskin Robbins.

 

He’s not buff like Thor, holier than thou like Captain America, self-loathing like Bruce Banner, or self-important like Tony Stark. He’s cool and mellow and inviting and most of all humble, both as a character and as an actor.

You can tell Paul Rudd is counting his blessings to be counted among the Marvel roster, and he brings that charm and appeal to his role. You can’t help but root for the guy.

Unburdened

Part of what annoyed me about Age of Ultron is that there was just too much shit going on. We had Avengers, and mutants (but don’t tell Fox), and Hydra, and killer robots. Infinity stones, flash backs, a ton of new characters and a story that quite frankly made no sense. First they’re fighting Hydra, then they’re all fighting themselves, then they’re fighting bad robots, then they team up with a good robot. What the hell was Avengers 2 even about?

Ant-Man started off with a clean slate. It lets you focus on and enjoy the movie without worrying your pretty little head about the nuances of the MCU or an overly complicated story. There were some direct references to the other movies, but they were in passing.

There also weren’t 85 characters fighting for screen time. You have Scott Lang, Hank Pym, Hank Pym’s his hot daughter, a villain, and a Stan Lee cameo. That’s it. No kale, no acai, no quinoa, no gluten-free dietary restrictions. Ant-Man is the burger, fries, and a coke of Marvel movies you’ve been waiting for, and it’s fucking delicious.

Conclusion

Long story short, Ant-Man was a very fun and entertaining movie. Despite the fact that it can stand on its own two feet, it still makes itself integral to the MCU moving forward and laid some fun Easter Eggs *cough* Spiderman *cough* in the process.

The story was interesting. The characters were fun. The dialogue was snappy. The CGI was believable. The villain was a recycled Obadiah Stane from Iron Man 1. There was plenty of action and humor, and the swear words sprinkled in there will go right over children heads, so feel free to bring them along for the ride.

Ant-Man will definitely make it to my DVD/Blu-Ray collection when it comes out on video. If you need something to feed your nerd addiction until next summer, Ant-Man should fill you up just fine. I highly recommend Ant-Man for all audiences, you won’t be disappointed!

The Gallows: Movie Review

Yesterday we got last minute free tickets to see The Gallows last night at the Regal theater in downtown San Diego. We were there, along with every person from Comic Con, apparently.

We got rid of our TV provider about a year ago. Needless to say, I can feel a bit like a hermit sometimes. I had not heard about this movie even once 24 hours before seeing it. Not a single commercial on TV, or radio, or the web or social media. Nada. Zilch. As we sat in the seats waiting for the movie to start, I leaned over and asked “So what’s this movie about?”

Horror movie buffs are the worst. I mean really. They are so jaded by horror movies that they aren’t even scared of them anymore, which makes me wonder why they even watch them, or why they proclaim to enjoy them. Their goal is to dominate horror movies by not being afraid – not to enjoy them. For this reason, a horror movie buff is a horrible person to get reviews from about horror movies.

Quick confession… when it comes to horror movies, I’m a big baby. Like no joke. So that makes me the absolute best person to write a horror movie review because they still make me shit my pants. If I’m not afraid of a horror movie then you know it sucks.

I don’t know if this is a spoiler, because I said I haven’t seen a single trailer for this show. So just in case, EARMUFFS. The story is about a high school play. 20 some years ago a student actor died in a school play called The Gallows when a part of the set malfunctioned. Then fast forward to today, and the same school is setting out to finally re-do the play, but hopefully, ya know, without a student dying this time.

The jock who is set to play the lead role gets cold feet the day before the performance, so he and two friends break into the school at night to sabotage the set, so that the play is forced to be cancelled.

Long story short, they get stuck in the school, scary shit happens, there’s screaming and panicking, and naturally every electronic device the teens have with them has a battery life of 20 minutes. Side note: Who the hell breaks into a pitch black facility without a flashlight? My battery dies after 10 minutes of plants vs. zombies. This could have been a horror movie. Or it could have been a documentary about the failures of the American school system for producing such idiots.

Either way, I thought the movie was really freakin scary. The movie doesn’t blow its load in the first 20 minutes, which I liked. It lets you settle into your seat and laugh and joke and forget you’re in a horror movie, and then it slowly gets darker and creepier, adding to the experience.

There were a couple scenes where the entire audience screamed in synch.

And, there were a few times when I was the only one who screamed, and was totally shamefaced.

The cast was great. They actually looked the part. I am glad we’re out of the 90’s where high schoolers looked like 30 year olds with boob jobs and steroid abuse problems. Oh, and we got to meet the cast before the screening which was pretty cool too.

My typical “would I watch it again” or “would I buy it” metric doesn’t work with horror movies because I have never purchased a horror movie or watched one voluntarily. But I can say that The Gallows was definitely a good scare, and it would for sure scare me again if I ever grew the balls to watch it again.

That being said, I give The Gallows a 9/10 for scariness, and I think you and a group of friends would have a blast seeing it together.

John Wick: Movie Review

If you’re like me, you saw the commercials for 2014’s John Wick and thought “dang that looks kind of cool” and naturally never got around to seeing it. Maybe it’s because I don’t have TV service and therefore live under a rock, but I don’t recall much advertising. It got added to my mental “to watch list” and I forgot about it until I saw it at the local Red Box the other day when I ended up renting No Good Deed.

Well the very next day Good Deed was back in the box and $1.50 later I was on my way home with John Wick in my left hand, Major’s leash in the right hand.

In the Bourne series, Matt Damon introduced the world to hurting people with seemingly harmless objects, like ballpoint pens, books, and towels, as seen here.

In the Taken series, Liam Neeson introduced us to the art of finding people, punching them in the throat 18 times, and then killing them.

Well get ready for a movie that will show you a whole new, awesome way of kicking ass as Keanu Reeves tears through New York City’s underbelly with new and innovative ways to use a pistol! I figured Shoot ‘Em Up had covered every conceivable way to use a pistol but that movie was straight up cheesy.

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John Wick with a pistol.

Keanu Reeves as John Wick is a legitimately awesome and intimidating character. Reeves is dry as ever, what else would you expect. But he’s dusted off the Matrix and was able to also portray a man who is funny, caring, angry, and grieving. Rounding out the cast are Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters (the Allstate mayhem guy), Adrianne Palicki, and for just a brief moment Ian McShane and John Leguizamo.

The movie itself had the tone of Constantine, with elements of Taken and Boondock Saints all sort of hodgepodged together, with a dash of Sin City. When it comes to my personal taste in movies, the darker and grittier, the better. If it’s not rated R, it’s not worth watching.

In a nutshell Reeves plays a retired assassin who traded in his career for a white picket fence. Shortly after his wife dies (of natural causes) he crosses paths with the guy who got his dick cut off from Game of Thrones, and he descends back into his former life of violence and confronts the local Russian mafia head on in a fight to the death. Russians make such good villains, don’t they?

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John Wick with a the Kel-Tec KSG shotgun.

The movie had a ton of violence but it was tastefully done, and wasn’t just thrown in there to fill time. The movie also had a sense of humor. It wasn’t the laugh out loud type of comedy, but there are plenty of instances that have you chuckling to yourself muttering “that’s classic!”

There isn’t much to say of the movie in terms of story. I wouldn’t give it an A for originality, but despite the over done former-badass-becomes-badass-again storyline, they managed to squeeze water out of rocks and make a genuinely entertaining movie that doesn’t feel like all the others.

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John Wick with the venerable AR15, in evil matte black guise.

To be honest, at first I thought it was going to be one of those flicks that looked cool in the trailers but where the movie itself would utterly disappoint. Sort of like the entire X Men series.

Truth is I was utterly mistaken. If you like action movies or crime dramas, then you have got to see John Wick! And if you’re done thawing out from the winter you can waddle your way over to the local Red Box and get a copy. You won’t be disappointed!

I would absolutely see this movie again. I give John Wick an 8/10.