The Last Jedi? Maybe.

Star Wars is back and the professional critics are all over it like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert. I however am less impressed than many of them. Don’t get me wrong here friends, this is a good movie and well worth the trip to the theater.

As this is opening day, I will spare you all any spoilers. This movie like its predecessor will make some key revelations that I will shield you from in this review. What I can say is that this movie, also like its progenerator, will check off a series of scenes. It’s like Disney said, be sure it has, this, this, and this…

  • Epic scene with the Millennium Falcon being chased through narrow passages and TIE fighters exploding as they try to follow: check
  • Rebels sneaking about an “empire facility” to shut down the evil ‘whatchamacallit’: check
  • Battle scene with good guys in Falcon gunner chair, blowing up bad guy fighters: check
  • Light and Dark side characters each trying to turn the other: check

I feel the same way about this film as the Force Awakens, two years ago. Good film, well done, seen it before. 7 times before, in fact. I’ll ask the same question I asked in my review of “awakens”. “Is there not an original idea left in the universe”?

Disney is simply regurgitating the same old plots over, and over, and over. They are using the exact same scenes, over, and over, and over again with just minor setting changes. I suppose it works, right? The Force Awakens did nearly a BILLION dollars domestically and over $2 billion worldwide. Who are we the fans to argue with that?

The Last Jedi is more of the same and it is well done. But what if Lucas had let Disney do the prequels? Those three films Phantom, Clone, and Revenge, could have been the best of all nine films. You see, the prequel films lacked a cohesive story, had sketchy dialog, and perhaps the worst romantic attempt in the history of film . BUT the settings in all three prequel films were nothing less than masterpieces. The attention to detail in the worlds, the scope of the cinematography, the whole feeling of place, was vastly superior to these new efforts from Disney.

In the end, the better story and dialog will win out over the pretty pictures, and that is exactly what is happening here. My point is that why the hell can’t Disney give us both. They are more than capable, yet they fall short here. These first two movies appear to be play it safe efforts to retell the same tired tale and collect on that $4 billion they paid Lucas for the rights. Disney could have given us fresh and inspiring movies for the ages, and instead they give us just enough to keep us complacent. Just enough to ensure we show up again in 2019.

So far in my opinion the best movie Disney has given us out of the Star Wars franchise was Rouge One. We’ll just have to see how the Han Solo origin story movie pans out next year.

At the end of this movie there is a scene that suggests Disney will continue the stories of the Jedi into a new generation of characters after completing the Lucas based films with Episode IX in 2019.

On an anecdotal note: Mark Hamill delivers his funniest moment in the Star Wars franchise with a scene where he tries to help Rey understand the “force.” That may go down as one of the funniest scenes in Star Wars history. The audience unloaded the laughs like we were watching a comedy romp.

Overall this movie lands in the middle just like Awakens, I think I like this latest effort a bit more than Episode VII, just a bit.

Here they are in my highly subjective order:

  1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980 ★★★★★
  2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, 1977 ★★★★★
  3. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, 1983 ★★★★☆
  4. Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, 2016 ★★★★☆
  5. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, 2017 ★★★★☆
  6. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, 2015 ★★★★☆
  7. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999 ★★★★☆
  8. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 2005 ★★★☆☆
  9. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 2002 ★★★☆☆
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Will History place Elon Musk next to Henry Ford?

Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line, he did however use it to mass produce automobiles and fundamentally changed the world forever. Elon Musk certainly did not invent the electric car. In fact electric cars were around in the days of Henry Ford and the earliest times of the automotive industry. But Elon Musk and his fantastic company, Tesla has me thinking the internal combustion engine is taking its final gasps of air, soon to find itself alongside the Brontosaurus, Chariot, and Abacus.

Tesla is best known for its luxury sedan, the Model S. This car has managed to overcome many issues and is now a top selling high end luxury car. It has a variety of trim and power levels from $70,000 to around $100,000. They have since launched a small luxury crossover SUV as well.

Tesla has three new vehicles very recently. The Model 3 which is their first foray into the “entry-level” car market. The Model 3 starts at $35,000 but with government incentives ends up at a fairly pedestrian $27,500. That car however is not really ground breaking as it’s competitors from both Ford and Chevrolet are well matched.

Tesla has announced two vehicles that have my attention firmly focused on the ash heap of gasoline. Mind you I am not trying to push the mighty internal combustion engine into its grave. I do so love the roar of an American pushrod V-8. But these two vehicles are more than just intriguing, they are mind bendingly real and it is something I thought was still a decade or more away.

First, Elon Musk announced his companies introduction of an all-electric semi-tractor truck. Yes my friends, a “Big Rig” hauling truck capable of towing the DOT maximum 80,000 lbs. The truck will have 500 miles of range and will accelerate from a dead stop to 60 mph fully loaded in 20 seconds. Could clean and quiet big rig trucks be on our highways, right now? Yes more or less.

But what was just as amazing and was announced at the Truck presentation is Tesla’s new flagship supercar. Tesla has a sexy supercar that in one sweep has cleared the record books. This car has knocked the 1200hp Hennessy Venom of the perch as fastest accelerating production street car in the world. It is not even close, the Venom and it’s million dollar price tag will rocket you from a dead stop to 60 mph in just 2.3 seconds. Tesla roadster? 1.9 seconds. This new car also knocked Dodge of the top of the podium for fastest street production car in the 1/4 mile. The Hemi Challenger Demon did a 9.65 second run in factory trim. Tesla? 8.8 seconds. The new roadster from Mr. Musk is also expected to have a top speed exceeding 250 mph, placing it in rarefied air among the legends of car culture. Here’s the really amazing part… what, fastest, quickest isn’t enough? Not for Tesla apparently, because the new roadster will go 620 miles on a single charge. Now let’s be clear this is a supercar and it does have a super price. But it is cheaper than most Ferrari or Lamborghini models and will smoke those into dust all while whispering along under library approved noise levels. This is the ultimate eco-car that destroys super cars or hyper cars on its way to a Sierra Club rally.

We have often been told you can’t have it all, pick your poison slow and pokey Nissan Leaf or Rocket Ship destroyer of worlds fast car. Elon Musk says, “Bullshit” because you can apparently have it all. For 200 large you can cruise for 620 miles sipping light loads of electricity with a big fat zero emissions. When that cocky Lambo starts riding your ass, you can show him what warp drive looks like and disappear on his horizon. Yes you will be that guy… making that other guy seek a new form of compensation all while saving the planet from some form of eco-disaster brought about from burning fossil fuels in cars. Oh and get this, after your done dusting the Lambo’s dingle, you can pick up your two kids at school, yes it’s a two plus two. WTF just happened?

The internal combustion engine is about to be replaced by the very thing it replaced 100 years ago. Wow circle of life, Mufasa was right 😉

So will history place Elon Musk alongside Henry Ford? Hell yes it will. ‘Merica.

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Justice is Served!

First of all, never mind the professional critics because they all suck. Well, they suck at reviewing super hero movies at least. The professional critics had this movie on Rotten Tomatoes as a smelly 27% fresh. Metacritic has a score of 47.  OK gang it is not the Avengers and it falls short of the greatness of Wonder Woman, but it is way more fresh than 27%

Justice League is way better than Dawn of Justice. It is however not as good as Wonder Woman. Nor is it going toe to toe with the best Marvel Studios efforts. But ladies and gentlemen, Warner Brothers took off the gloves and gave us a bare knuckle winner with Wonder Woman and Zack Snyder seems to have learned his lesson from the poorly crafted Dawn of Justice. Although Joss Whedon took over direction at the end due to a family crisis for Zack Snyder. DC is ready to rise and whether you prefer Marvel or DC we all win in the end.

Dawn of Justice was a mess. I liked Batman’s bad ass kill Superman suit, that was cool, but we don’t see it in this film because, well, Superman is dead, remember. Oh yeah they killed Superman in the last movie.

What we do get is more of Ben Affleck’s well portrayed mature Batman / Bruce Wayne and a lot more of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Ok, let’s be clear on this one particular point : Gal Gadot is rocking the shit out of the Wonder Woman role. She continues to impress as Diana Prince and if she appears in a movie as Wonder Woman the movie is automatically at least 50% fresh just with her awesome presence on the screen. Read my Wonder Woman review here for more details on that. This movie is more of the same from Ms. Gadot, and that my friends is a big bonus.

Justice League has a cohesive plot. This is something every movie SHOULD have but Dawn of Justice, did not. This story isn’t really all that great, but it does connect the Amazons, Atlantians, and Humans together.

The plot is a predictable basic evil alien/god type baddie hell-bent on destroying the Earth, yada, yada, yada. So how does this thing go from yada, yada, to a warm applause from the audience at the end. Well, aside from Wonder Woman it is our three newbies: First, Ezra Miller. This young man was charged with portraying Barry Allen, AKA the Flash. This is one of those I’m not sure whether it was the acting or the direction, but it was a bit of both most likely. This kid lights up every scene he appears in and the movie can’t be only 27% fresh? Seriously. They seem to be treating Barry Allen a bit like they did Spiderman in Civil War and even a bit in Homecoming. He’s the new kid, rookie, etc. In awe of the legend of Batman.

Now some people don’t like the new Barry Allen. In fact many don’t like him. Maybe they wanted Grant Gustin from the excellent CW TV show, The Flash. But there was no way to really tie him in and Gustin’s Flash is too serious. This film needed some comic relief and he delivers here.

What of Aquaman? Jason Momoa actually is good in this role. This is definately not the Super Friends clean cut version of Aquaman. He is quite the spectacle. I liked him and how about that torpedo swim speed? How does that work? Mamoa’s take on the Aquaman is not only interesting but he is rather diverse. He is Stern, Heavy Handed and then later relaxed and even funny. He pulls off the transitions seamlessly. Nice job Khal Drogo 😉

I like Cyborg. We get very little backstory at all on any of these characters added into this film. The Flash didn’t really need an introduction, but we could have had a better understanding of how Cyborg came to be. They tossed that together like a cheap salad. Ray Fisher is admirable in the role and the character is a plot mover. I hope we see more of Cyborg in the future.

Justice League isn’t going to knock down any of the top films on the list, but it is much better than Rotten Tomatoes 27% from the “Pros”.

One thing on the negative and this is a pretty big blunder. Batman is supposed to be the leader and in this movie he is not the central focus of the “League” at all, aside from bankrolling it. As good as Affleck was in Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice, which he and Gal Gadot saved from stinking up the theater, he is under utilized here and a bit cold. He isn’t the tactical minded, super detective we expect from Batman. Rather he is portrayed as battle weary and even a bit self doubting. He does however make the hard call at an important plot development point and pushes the others to fall in with the plan. Overall, I still like Affleck as the Batman and even more as Bruce Wayne, but I may be among the few. This wasn’t all on Affleck, the character was written this way. This is more on Mr. Snyder.

There was some really good material to work with and Justice League missed out on opportunities to go from good movie to great movie. I did like the movie and do recommend seeing it in the theater.

Stay for the after credits, a short scene with Flash and Superman and then all the way to the very last credit to see a very important foreshadowing scene. Stay to the end.

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There’s no stopping Ragnarok

The Thor movies have not exactly been my favorite Marvel movies. Ragnarok however is the best of the three in my opinion. It seems the team at Marvel Studios decided to go a little less serious and give us a film more akin to Guardians of the Galaxy. The lighter tone makes for a fun romp.

The cast of actors in this film is rather spectacular as well. Sure, Sir Anthony Hopkins has appeared in the previous two incarnations and is again in this film. But we get a full dose of Jeff Goldbloom and Cate Blanchett to thicken the sauce on the marquee. That’s three best actor/actress Oscars between Sir Anthony and Ms. Blanchett.

Goldbloom is perfectly cast as the eccentric sadist overlord of Sakaar. I always liked Jeff and he deliverers here in Ragnarok. As for Ms. Blanchett she serves as the primary antagonist in this movie and she is up to the task.

We get some Karl Urban aka Bones in the reboot Star Trek as well. His part is small but a critical element in the plot development. We get a bit of a Doctor Strange cameo that is rather entertaining.

Overall this movie has some very funny sequences to compliment the action sequences. Director, Taika Waititi does a masterful job of blending the sequences together and the two plot lines that merge towards the end of the film. This is Mr. Waititi’s biggest effort ever and he should do rather well. This movie has enough pure entertainment value to carry it deep into blockbuster status. It isn’t likely to threaten any of Marvel’s juggernaut productions as far as box office numbers go, but it should do well.

It is hard to put my finger on any one thing I really like about the movie, but the sum of its parts make a great show. I never felt lost in the story line, the flow was good and the mix of humor, action, and darkness was near perfect. This movie does not take itself nearly as serious as the other two Thor films and that works here where we have a great number of characters to follow.

I will not offer any spoilers here, but I will say that Thor will emerge at the end of this film more powerful than we ever thought. He will likely be a big part of the Infinity War movie. I am looking forward to that and 2018 is just around the corner 🙂 Check the updated movie list with the tab above.

Justice League in two weeks, holy super friends reunion, Batman!

 

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The Defenders Have Assembled

Netflix released the whole Defenders mini-series on the 18th of this month and I decided to try a full series single session binge. Well, I failed; I watched the first six and then finished up the next day. The series is eight episodes and they refer to it as a mini-series which to me implies it’s a one-off. Yet the ending, which I will not spoil today, is nebulous enough to suggest more Defenders could be in the future.

Now comic fans may take some exception to this cast of heroes since the original “Defenders” in the Comics were Doctor Strange, Hulk, Namor, and Silver Surfer. According to sources at Marvel, quoted by a number of news outlets, “there was no apprehension..” regarding the change in lineup. It could be that Silver Surfer and Namor are controlled cinematically by 20th Century Fox which would make a Defenders movie or TV series more challenging to tie in with the MCU. That said this group of New York City based characters made sense. Marvel and Netflix meshed them together brilliantly and made enough references to the Avengers events in NYC to blend it all quite well.

Netflix delivered amazing content with Daredevil and Jessica Jones. These two series were absolutely fantastic. They followed with Luke cage and Iron Fist which were also very good, but somehow they were a notch under the first two efforts. All four of those series were well tied in and this has become a trademark of all things Marvel. They are really good at tying together the whole Marvel Universe across all media platforms. I think that is a large piece of the reason they have become one of the heaviest hitters in Hollywood.

The Defenders could have been, and may actually be the culmination of the overarching evil plot that was permeating the background in Daredevil and Jessica Jones and moved to the foreground during the Iron Fist. I’ll have to assume that readers have seen the four series leading up to this new Defenders show. The Hand is veiled in mystery during the bulk of the first three shows and becomes the primary antagonist in Iron Fist. This was done brilliantly as the Iron Fist gives us an origin story for the title character and an origin story for the mysterious Hand.

I said I would not offer spoilers but I will say this, Madam Gao is just one finger of the Hand. This show will provide us with a view of the other four ‘fingers’. Compared to the two seasons of Daredevil and the one full season of Jessica Jones, I am not convinced this show has bested them but it is nearly as good and is certainly an equal to Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

There is a great deal of satisfaction having a crescendo to all the weaving of story lines and seeing the plots of four shows and some 65 episodes of content come together. I am quite pleased with the secondary characters in this show. Jessica Henwick is outstanding as the Colleen Wing. I have mentioned that Misty Knight and Claire Temple are excellent supporting characters in these shows and again in Defenders.

I was disappointed in the lack of screen time for Foggy Nelson and he was a much more serious character and lacked the ‘Foggy Funny’ comic relief we got in Daredevil. They underplayed him as well. I love Hogarth, the character is classic American lawyer and played by Carrie-Anne Moss.

We have a newly introduced Character, Alexandra that is absolutely brilliant. She is portrayed by Sigourney Weaver who is nothing short of excellent in giving us masterful peek into the mind of a diabolical villain that she makes almost likable. At 67 years old, Ms. Weaver still has the chops to pull off a lead role. She was solid in this eight episode series.

The nagging question I have is simply this: Will we get more ‘Defenders’?

We will get a third season of Daredevil which is filming now. It’s good to be a fan these days 🙂

Here is the trailer just in case you haven’t… wait: seriously, you haven’t started watching this yet?

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The Iron Fist, the last key to the Defenders

I am finally catching up on my Marvel Universe on Netflix. I am about half done with Iron Fist. I do like this show but it doesn’t seem to feel quite as good as previous shows, Dare Devil, Jessica Jones, or Luke Cage. It is however up to snuff as a solid effort by the Netflix team and Marvel. These four series are nicely tied together and there is one overarching character that ties them all together. It’s similar to how Marvel used the Phil Coulsen character in the movies to tie all of them together before launching the Avengers in 2012 except Netflix is giving us a lot more screen time for the braiding of the four shows. Yes, friends you already know it’s Claire Temple, the super hero healer that has played a significant part of all four series.

Our villain is also someone we have seen in the other series as well. She was first in the background and has slowly come more and more into focus as the primary baddie. This of course is our 400 year old “witch” Madam Gao of the Hand.

I don’t feel like this show is as well written as the others primarily in the dialog. Frankly the dialog is a bit weak sauce. Our action and episode flow however is nicely done and the weaving of the other three shows story lines is effective. I am on episode nine and the show is starting to really glide well, so by the time I binge the last 4 episodes I’ll have a better idea how it rates against the other three shows. So far I like Dare Devil and Jessica Jones about equally and then Luke Cage followed by Iron Fist. May no mistake all four shows are very good indeed and Netflix makes it all too easy to watch.

The Defenders is already done and will launch later this month. I am really looking forward to that my friends!

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Spidey Swings into Action Again

We got a teaser for this new Spiderman in the Captain America: Civil War movie and I certainly felt like the kid was delivering as Peter Parker, AKA Spiderman. Spiderman: Homecoming opened today across America and early reports are solid on reviews and pretty tasty at the box office as well. As usual this opening day review will not have any spoilers.

So first I have to get a little Aunt May business taken care of. After Civil War I definitely mentioned that casting Tomei as Aunt May was a major league shift away from casting older almost grandmotherly figures in the role. Now many people were a bit upset to see the younger and sexier version of Aunt May. STOP right there. It is and always has been AUNT May not Great Aunt May. Parker is 14 years old when he makes the appearance in Civil War. There aren’t too many Aunts in their 70s with nephews but fourteen years of age. Marisa Tomei is 52 years old and even that is a bit older than average for a mother of a fourteen year old. Remember Aunt is a parent’s sister or in the case of Peter Parker, sister-in-law to his deceased mother. Tomei is really a much more logical age for an Aunt character than either Rosemary Harris who was 75 in 2002 when Spiderman was released or Sally Field who was 66 when The Amazing Spiderman was released. Seriously, Tomei is my age and both my children are in their 20s and I was in my 30s when they were both born.

Now an interesting thing happened in this movie with Aunt May versus the small bit part she had in Civil War. In the scene where Tony is on the couch flirting with May and Peter walks in… awkward… Marissa Tomei had her hair down and was definitely a rather alluring sight. Clearly, Tony was all over that 😉 That was not like any aunt may I have ever seen in the comics or movie screens. In this new ‘Homecoming’ they dial the sexy down quite a bit. Spidey’s aunt looks very ‘auntly’ and although Ms. Tomei’s sexy is hard to roll back, it was nowhere near as flaunted in this movie. So maybe the Spidey fans that like Aunt May as the classic nurturing grandmotherly type versus the club-hopping hottie in black dress won over the team at Marvel Studios with their fan mail rants. After all in the comics May was always a silver-haired older gal. Now let’s be clear, you ain’t gonna make Marissa Tomei look grandmotherly for at least another ten years, but they did go more librarian and less short skirt and heels, this time ’round.

So the first problem with Spiderman in general is the Spiderman fatigue syndrome. Yes friends since that fateful day in 2002 when Spidey flew across the silver screen and into our hearts and souls, he has appeared in seven films. It’s a dose of Spidey every other year on average. That is a lot of web cartridges.

This movie is fresh in the sense we get a guy that can really pull off the I’m 15. Both Maguire and Garfield were a bit unconvincing as teenagers. “No really, I’m just fifteen”. This Peter Parker looks like a high school underclassmen. I do like Tom Holland in this role. I look forward to more Spidey in the future and that’s a good thing since he inked a deal for four more appearances including a pair of solo films to complete the trifecta.

You will see Michael Keaton joining the rare group of actors to appear in both a feature Marvel Film and a Feature DC film. Of course Mr. K. AKA ‘Batman 1989’ is on the bad guy team this time. This movie is very much centered on Peter Parker and Spiderman with supporting characters remaining in supporting roles. This is a big tall order for a young 21-year-old actor who has to carry the load for the movie. He carries it rather well. Tony Stark, Captain America, Aunt May, and the classmates from Mid Town Tech are true supporting cast members. Tom Holland is on the screen in the majority of scenes. Bravo Kid, you did good.

The movie itself was a solid show that entertained and stayed on target. It was a pretty basic plot with a screenplay that was only a little better than adequate. This movie doesn’t suck you into the story like Wonder Woman did a few weeks ago. Marvel counters the rather ‘typical’ plot with their special brand of funny, and excellent dialog. Marvel can turn stale corn into moonshine and moonshine makes you happy. The formula works and Homecoming is yet another couple of hours a proof.

I am hoping that Tom Holland and the future directors in the next four films he is signed to do, will develop Peter Parker / Spiderman in to the wise cracking superhero we all know and love. I have no doubt he is up to the task. The future of Spiderman appears to be in very capable hands. BTW of course stay for the after credits, two scenes one early in the credit roll the other at the very end will make you laugh.

The top ten is safe after my morning screening, but this latest web crawling adventure scores very well none-the-less.

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See The Wonder, Detective Comics is Back!

I saw Wonder Woman Thursday night and I will start off by saying Warner Brothers pulled a rabbit out of the hat. The metaphor fits in more than one way. But in this case it is about going back to old school. Rabbit out of the Hat is a classic magic trick for the ages. This film may not quite be one for the ages, but it is done in classic style.

This movie did something that so many films today fail to do. They decided to go back to the timeless idea that a good movie should always tell us a good story. Storytelling is a lost art in Hollywood these days, what with all the explosions, fake blood, super aliens, and wise cracks, that allow a good movie to get away with a wobbly story. But a great movie can not be great without at least a solid B+ story.

Patty Jenkins gives us simple, but well thought out story and presents it with emotion, humor, superpowers, explosions, and of course bloodthirsty Germans, gotta have that right 😉 Wonder Woman doesn’t try too hard to be all things, like Batman v Superman did. We all know how well that worked out. No, Warner Brothers went to the age-old well of storytelling that all of us have always enjoyed dating back to our earliest memories. “Hey Grandpa, tell me story about the olden days…”

And so they did. They went back a hundred years so grandpa had to tell a story that his grandma told him, methinks. This did not need to be a super hero movie featuring one of the greatest of all comic book characters to be good. The story was good. This is a period piece and WB did an excellent job of immersing us in the WWI era. Industrial Age London comes alive with reasonable period costumes and all the modern trickery that made the city of London look like that smelly, smokey shit hole it was in 1917.

The story they give us, was well done, not fantastic, not the greatest ever told, but a solid well spun tale. While telling us a story about the malleable soul of man and the nature of what we are, we also get a story about a great war with a decent bit of historical value, and a diabolical plot by a powerful antagonist. We get a nice twist in the story and a villain we don’t expect. We get some superhero kick ass, we get a little Shakespearian drama, we get a fair amount of funny, and Patty Jenkins pulls off making Wonder Woman look so epic all the time. Just standing there she looks like a boss.

This was a really great story. I am not certain why they went to WWI instead of WWII but that’s OK because I was getting a little tired of all the Nazis over there in the Marvel Universe. A little classic ‘Kaiser’ was a nice change of villainous scenery.

As I predicted in the last article, Ms. Gadot delivers. She has it all, the class, the grace, the style, and when needed the ultimate bad ass complete with a full shot of intense. She is regal and she is a frickin’ boss on the battlefield. What the hell more do we need than that?

Chris Pine continues to impress me. He plays the same character in this film as he does in Star Trek and he even has the same rank 😉 But he gives us a fine performance as the mortal hero to contrast our demigod title character.

At the end of the film I did feel they made her just a tick too powerful. My beef with Superman has always been that he is basically God and of course they created Kryptonite to give him a weakness. Diana gets a little too close to the Kryptonians on the power meter, but that is a minor issue that is quite forgivable.

I would ask you to sit through the entirety of the movies long credit roll so you can see the epic Bruce Wayne after credit scene, but there isn’t one so stay if you want. If the 42oz soda is calling you to the restroom, it’s safe to go, I stayed and there was no after credit scene.

My friends this film isn’t the best superhero movie, but what I really like about it is the storytelling; this is great storytelling. The movie had some holes and they probably left some stuff on the cutting room floor that should have been left in. With a 2:21 running time though, I understand the cuts. We are left with a nice clean origin story in a historical context, and all the great superhero stuff needed for a great superhero movie.

This is the best DC movie ever made not featuring the Bat. DC is back and they mean business. Sure, there are many little gripes I could write about, but I won’t, because I left the theater with a buzz like I did when I was ten years old and grandma spun a wild yarn about the olden days. Hollywood needs to give us a lot more movies like this.

(dedicated to my paternal grandmother who did indeed spin wild yarns of yesteryear to a wide-eyed little grandson and later on a young adult grandson. Esther Sager – 1897-1992)

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Wonder Woman: Maximum Anticipation

Picture of Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman 2017

After seeing Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman in the under achieving film, Batman v Superman, I have had an increasing level of anticipation for the long-awaited big screen presentation of the Wonder Woman origin story. In last year’s near miss, Batman v Superman, two things kept that picture from a toilet flush; Ben Affleck hit a soaring home run portraying an older and wiser Bruce Wayne / Batman and Gal Gadot shattered my worries about whether she could be Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot seems to relish the role of Wonder Woman. In the small part she had last year and the trailers for the June 2nd Wonder Woman movie she IS definitively pulling off the role. No live action version of Wonder Woman has ever really hit the mark, will 2017 be different? I do hope so.

Adrian Palicki dressed as Wonder Woman

Adrian Palicki as Wonder Woman. 2011 TV movie.

This is a movie that has been in the works for over ten years. There have been many “suitors” for the role in other efforts including Adrian Palicki who has proven after the fact, her on screen badass potential from her efforts in Marvel’s Agents of Shield. But she really doesn’t pull off the whole Wonder Woman image well and the TV movie sucked. Rileah Vanderbuilt portrayed her in the excellent 2013 internet short movie.

picture of Wonder woman

Rileah Vanderbuilt as Wonder Woman, 2013

Warner Brothers has continued to push the feature film further out, until now as they can begin assembling the ‘Super Friends’ of the ‘Justice League’. The comparisons to Linda Carter’s epic TV portrayal of this comic classic are inevitable. No comparison can be made however as the TV show was made during the heavy insulated era of FCC blindfolds and quasi censorship of television. Linda Carter portrayed more of a girl scout Diana Prince rather than the immortal Demi-God she is. The FCC shackles will not apply and therefore cannot stop Warner Brothers from giving us the Wonder Woman we all deserve.

Wonder Woman was the creation of a man who was well outside the conventional thinking in 1940. Yes I said 1940! William Moulton Marston was a psychologist and the inventor of the polygraph machine. Yep, the lie detector. He was outside the conventional thinking of the day in that he embraced some very liberal social and relationship ideas that are pretty wild even by 21st century standards. He was into submission and bondage, he believed that women should rule the world, and he had a polyamorous three way live in relationship with his wife and mistress who remained ‘partners’ after Marston’s death in 1947. In 1940 women were by no means the liberated force in society they are today and this made Marston an outsider in his day and a very early adopter of women’s liberation ideas.  Marston however gave us the first real super-heroine and a pretty good role model for girls. The notion that women can do anything a man can do in this modern world was an unspoken idea until Marston and others like him broke that mold. The world is a better place without idealistic shackles placed on anyone. Read about Marston here.

His Wonder Woman creation was never presented in the comics quite like he envisioned. In all honesty it is a good thing as she may have never been the 76 year old success story we love and adore today. She has had a revision in each of the four traditional “ages” of comics. She made her debut in December of 1941, the “Golden Age” of comics. In the 1960s, the “Silver Age” of comics she was rewritten with a Greek mythological background. She was tweaked again in the “Bronze Age” of comics, the 1970s that led us to the campy but still good TV series with the ever gorgeous Linda Carter portraying her on the ‘tube’. She was revised in the “Modern Age” back in the late 80s. The 21st century adaptation of Wonder Woman which largely draws on the 1987 reboot, is my personal favorite because she isn’t the love princess of Marston design but rather she is the Amazon demigod badass she was always destined to become.

Despite the revisions to his character idea, Marston’s mark will forever remain on this, the greatest of heroines in the every age of comics and one of the very best super heroes of ALL TIME. The lie detecting “lasso” his tribute to his own invention and the bracelets which were inspired from those worn by his live in mistress, Olivia.

The movie looks very promising and Warner Brothers official trailer is shown below.

 

Warner Brothers has an opportunity to kick rival Marvel Entertainment in the teeth with this film. They also have a history of strike outs on the silver screen. The looming question is, “which will this latest installment be?” Thus the “anticipation.” I have had many words of concern over who is selected to play Wonder Woman. I have opined in great detail. I was a bit worried when Gal Gadot was selected for the Batman v Superman movie, but she squarely laid to rest any and all concerns about her ability to portray one of my all time favorite super-heroes.

comic book, wonder woman

Wonder Woman in the modern age comics

This movie will succeed or fail on the script and the director beacuse Gal Gadot will no doubt secure a lasting impression on all of us as Wonder Woman. Gadot is legitimately tall, and unlike Linda Carter (who I adore by the way) she has a ferocity and intensity in her that is what I always believed Wonder Woman should have. Even with the believable Warrior she pulls off, she yet retains the regal aura that Linda Carter had as well. Look at the ‘Modern Age’ comics and see how Wonder Woman is drawn with intense and fierce facial expressions, yet in her alter ego Diana Prince she is warm, soft, and feminine. Gal Gadot pulls it ALL off, quite well in fact. The only thing missing is the “blue eyes” that are ever presnet in the comics over the entirety of her 76 year run. I can live without that since Gal is crushing it every where else.

I do so truly hope that Warner Brothers doesn’t screw the pooch on this movie. All the chips are riding on this and the success of the upcoming Justice League film is on the line here. I am sure Ms. Gadot will knock it out of the park, lets hope Patty Jenkins whose primary credit is Directing the 2003 crime drama, “Monster” is up to the task. This will be her biggest directorial effort ever as this film’s budget is FIFTEEN times more than “Monster.”

This is the last of the buildup movies for the Justice League. The Justice League is going to have the four primary DC characters, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. We already have Henry Cavill’s mediocre Superman from two previous films, Affleck’s AMAZING Batman, Gal Gadot’s likely outstanding Wonder Woman, and the future Aquaman portrayed by Jason Mamoa, best known as Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones. We are briefly introduced to Aquaman at the end of Batman v Superman and will see him again in the ‘Justice League’ origin story later this year. He has a feature film slated for next year.

I am very excited about this Wonder Woman movie but I may not be able to see it until Sunday the 5th as I have a big out-of-town weekend starting on June 2nd. I will try to catch a Thursday night (late June 1st) showing. I have high hopes for this movie and I can’t remember having more anticipation for a comic book movie since Christopher Nolan’s epic, ‘Batman Begins’ back in 2005. Let’s hope Wonder Woman, 2017 goes the way of Batman Begins, and not the way of the “Green Lantern, shall we?

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Why does the Galaxy Always Need Saving…

Somebody has to do it. Marvel has a team in Guardians that seems to have amazing on-screen chemistry. Whether that is a credit to actors, director, music, or a bit of all of that, it worked in the first film and works again here in “Volume 2.”

Since this movie is ‘fresh off the boat’, I’ll avoid any spoilers. There are things that really make Guardians 2.0 really work and a few things that drag it down towards mediocrity; “towards” that is, not to. That is an important distinction in favor of this second James Gunn effort on behalf of the Marvel Galaxy.

Those of you familiar with my totally bias and heavily subjective movie reviews of all things super hero-ey, you know that I have the opening installment of Guardians of the Galaxy at the lofty perch atop the list of comic themed movies. I will say early and right now, that the top five positions on the chart are safe. To ply the archives of my Guardians past comments here are the two reviews and the epiphany, post screening, post Blu-Ray,  and the announcement a New King is Crowned.

But that safe haven is not because ‘Vol. 2’ isn’t a great movie, it is just that the first movie had such a strong impact. It was the ‘came out of no where’, type of feeling. This one doesn’t benefit from that initial awe. It is very difficult for a sequel to a groundbreaking type movie to better the original. It happened in Star Wars as Empire Strikes Back overcame the ‘been there, done that’ with excellent dialog and fantastic character chemistry. Oh and a “I am your Father” deal at the end didn’t hurt either.

Guardians Vol. 2 has a lot of that. Like its progenitor, this movie uses an excellent sound track, fabulous score, and even manages to work the lyrics of the songs into the plot! Brandy the one hit wonder by Looking Glass has been a bit a trivia I was proud to have stashed in my gray matter; but it’s forever ruined. Kurt Russell has released it to the universe and now everyone knows it, but do they have it on vinyl? I do 😉

OK, I brought up ‘Kurt Russell’ and I have to talk about K.R. What a stud! And without mentioning any spoilers there is a scene, and it is not just a fleeting scene, but a series of images and action of what appears to be a young Kurt from way back in the day. We’re talking Escape from New York young. We saw Disney do a pretty creepy Princess Leia CGI de-aging in Rogue One but this was brilliant. Seriously they nailed that shit down. I thought the moment I saw it that it was old footage from K.R.’s Disney youth acting days somehow merged into the movie or something. But it was a wonderful combination of a young actor with some similar facial features, some excellent make-up and a dash of CGI. Bravo, quite possibly the best de-aging ever.

So Russell plays a God-like being that is deeply connected to this franchise and serves to provide some additional back story on our galactic saving protagonist. Kurt pulls it off well. Like the first movie, this one does not take itself too serious. The movie is filled with classic comedic setups and most of them are well executed. There are however, more than a couple of forced moments to grab a chuckle.

James Gunn doesn’t break any barriers in bringing us this story and in fact the plot is reaped from a well tilled field. But a predictable plot can be overcome with well-timed humor, a fair amount of destruction, and solid character building revelations. We get all of that in Volume 2 and a two scene cameo with Sly Stallone!

In the first installment I thought Rocket had the most funny lines, but this time I think the trophy goes to Drax. He was hilarious and the dialog and delivery for his funny moments were perfectly done. The movie has a few scenes where the warm and fuzzy touchy feeling is a little thick in light of the comedic approach. It even tries to have a poignant moment near the end, but Drax takes the edge off any tear inducing possibilities with a well timed funny that in itself is telling a story about what could happen to him in the closing of the trilogy. This movie, like the first is very funny throughout, and who doesn’t like a good laugh? Regarding the laughs, this movie seems to try and tap a little too much into the more adult humor like Deadpool did. But this is not an R rated movie and having more penis references than any two Marvel movies combined is over the top. Parents bringing young ones based on the experience in the first might be a little perturbed, but the first one wasn’t really a Pixar film either 😉

I don’t know if this latest Guardians will hold up like the original, but I do know that it will hold up. Once again Marvel has sent a fly ball into the stands to straight away center. I didn’t feel like the music and the moments were as well infused as they were in Vol. 1 but they were still very well done. The movie flows well, the action sequences get a little frantic at times but again never quite overdone for this type of film. This is a solid performer and it lands well in its debut on the All Time Super Hero Movie List.

All of this is building towards an epic finale of sorts called “Avengers: Infinity War” and the Guardians will be apart of that for sure. That film is due out in 2018. This year we see a new Spiderman and Thor movie, early 2018 the Black Panther makes a modern screen debut all leading to Infinity War where I presume Thanos will emerge as the primary bad guy.

Be sure to sit through the credits all the way to the very end. Never mind that you will see an after credit scene shortly after they start to roll, then another, then another, there will yet be another at the very end an it is a Stan Lee classic.

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