“Madness” isn’t far off the mark

I saw Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness Friday and I was a bit worn out by the end of it. The movie doesn’t have a very long run time, checking in at just over two hours. It just has a lot of multiverse, time bending, mind blowing sequences that tire you out as you follow Doctor Strange though some very strange places. From this point onward, there is a spoiler alert. I will avoid major plot leaks for those that have yet to screen this film, but some are unavoidable as I make my way through the analysis of this movie.

Through the first half of the movie I was really into it. This was looking like a top shelf Marvel production. The second half however kind of fell apart. The movie has a lot of action and the sequences can be genuinely dizzy at times. I felt like the traditional Marvel comedy breaks and ‘down time’ were a bit few and far between for the amount of hectic scenes that keep your brain buzzing. This film is also chuck full of plot holes even for a super hero film. I might also suggest that the younglings stay at home for this one, it is rather dark and the violence levels are treading into Frank Castle territory. There was no shortage of movie fake blood, and little was spared.

Wanda Maximoff is in this film and ultimately is the primary antagonist. You will figure this out in the first third of the film. Elizabeth Olsen is absolutely crushing it in my opinion as the Scarlet Witch. She is rather striking as the Scarlet Witch being both beautiful and exceedingly menacing. Director Sam Raimi does a great job working the scenes with Scarlet Witch keeping the classic comic book sexiness for the character while also leaving zero doubt that you do not want any part of her wrath. Meanwhile Ms. Olsen pulls off the devil incarnate evil witch and can flip on a dime to the loving caring and compassionate mother she has created in her own mind. For me Olsen carries the whole movie from mediocrity to excellence all by herself.

Cumberbatch delivers a similar Stephen Strange as before and does so well enough. I like the interactions they created for Dr. Strange in the multiverse. This movie does show us a transition in character for Stephen Strange who becomes a little less of a personal asshole and a bit more humanitarian by the end of the film.

In a major plot moving series of scenes, the Scarlet Witch is attempting to capture America Chavez a trans dimensional traveling character. She ends up in a universe in which Doctor Strange is dead and the powers that be are called the Illuminati. This is composed of Captain Marvel, Captain Carter First Avenger, Mister Fantastic, Professor X, Black Bolt, Baron Mordo who in this universe replaced Strange on the ‘council’. Professor X, Mordo, and Mister Fantastic appear to be doplegangers of our universe, but Captain Marvel is a different person entirely actually Carol Danvers friend, Maria Rambeau, and Captain Carter is our Peggy Carter but she took the serum instead of Steve Rogers in this universe. Hmm, Elizabeth Olsen and Haley Atwell in the same movie! That’s good for a couple of places higher on the list right there 😉

Anyway Doctor Strange warns them of the intense power of the Scarlet Witch but they are rather dismissive suggesting they will handle the witch as they lock up both Strange and Chavez. Cockiness proves fatal as the Scarlett Witch rather effortlessly wipes them out. Yes even Captain Marvel! The Scarlett Witch is about as powerful a character as you can have in comics. Literally capable of repelling Captain Marvel levels of hero, without much concern.

The second half of the movie is a bit busy and less entertaining than the first half. What will become apparent is that the Scarlet Witch is the most powerful MCU character to date. Jean Grey with the Phoenix Force might be stronger, but she has yet to appear officially in the MCU.

The movie seems to be decently true to the comics with the usual Hollywood plot “tweaks”. You should stick around for the credit scenes there are two, one shortly after the movie the other at the very end. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is worth the ticket price for sure but compared to the all time greats of Superhero movies it falls well short of glory. I will say that I am glad Marvel signed Elizabeth to a multi-movie deal because I want more of this amazing character and Ms. Olsen’s delicious portrayal.

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Here it is, Webslinging Fanboys

Well some three months after it’s theatrical release I finally got round to watching Spiderman: No Way Home. This one is a lot to take in. Seriously, there is a whole bunch of things happening and the movie manages to keep a thousand things spinning around with out getting lost. So that’s good, right?

This is the third Spiderman collaboration with Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios. Only Marvel can have three spidermen on the screen at the same time with five supervillains and make the whole thing dance. This however was no waltz in the moonlight. This movie moves fast and furious and had few moments to catch a breath.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I will issue this one time warning, there will be SPOILERS here. So this movie is yet another setup for phase four of the MCU. This phase is all about that multiverse action. Multiple universes separated by time and space and now we see that time and space can be a bit fragile. We continue to kill off characters however with ties to the “Tony Stark era” of Marvel and that is unfortunate but obviously inevitable. I have to get something off my chest here, and I already warned you about spoilers because I’m goin waste deep in them here. Aunt May is dead! Yes, for three months I stayed away from reviews of No Way Home, and I was taken unaware with the dramatic end to the 21st century hot version of Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). So sad, all of my unmarried multiverse counterparts could totally be hitting on that Aunt May 😉 Now I get that this is a major character development plot line point similar to the death of uncle Ben in the Toby Maguire films. But Marisa Tomei is young enough that she easily could have continued on as Aunt May for the foreseeable future. Is Tom Holland coming back in future Spidey films? Seriously he is the best Spiderman live actor EVER and at age 25 he has plenty of time ahead as a ‘youngling’.

OK enough of that, the dastardly deed is done. So Otto and the Goblin are back portrayed by the original actors and three, count them, three spideys the others played by Maguire and Garfield no less. The Multiverse was the perfect plot line to tie together the fact that Spiderman has had more reboots than a 1990s PC. Very nice and clever work here as Willem Dafoe once again rocks the shit out of the Goblin. In cinema I think Dafoe’s Norman Osbourne/Green Goblin is the best Spiderman villain yet and one of the best in the whole MCU (if we are officially including the early Sony characters in the MCU, which I think we have to as Marvel made this film for Sony… so they’re canon now).

Other than having my brain fried with all the angles in this film which were meticulously blended into a movie that seemed to flow well, I have no complaints… well except for killing off hot May. At the end there was still a little something missing. Again I may have a slight case of Marvel fatigue, but the post movie buzz was not as palpable as some of the other greats on the all time list.

That all disclaimed, there is little holding this film back from the lofty heights in the top half of the first page on that aforementioned all time list. Everyone seemed to crush it in this effort and the the whole thing flowed with a consistent plot, albeit with the usual superhero plot holes, to a crescendo at the end. But it really felt like a swan song for the franchise in a way. Seriously parading through the legendary characters of the franchise Willem Dafoe as Goblin, Alfred Molina as Otto Octavious, all three Spideys, the classic Marvel movie connections tying the Sony classics to the MCU… brilliantly done. I have no issues with any of the billed cast in the movie. I thought they all were very good, Jamie Foxx pulled off a believable ‘Electro’ and I felt the conflict of the character in his performance. Dafoe and Molina on their A game, and as I said before Holland is the best live action Spiderman/Peter Parker ever. The icing on the soft and moist cake was the return of J. Jonah Jamieson portrayed by J.K. Simmons.

This film is just another billion dollar baby from the gang at Marvel Studios, fatigue or not, call me a glutton, more please.

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The Batman

Ok, I know, I’m supposed to review “Spiderman: No Way Home.” I already told the tale of woe about missing it during the holidays and I have just not gotten around to seeing it. BUT my eldest son wanted to see Batman and I never miss a Batman movie op, so I saw Batman this weekend. I won’t have any big spoilers but I will presume that you have seen the trailers and know which characters are in the film.

I’ve been wondering about this a new Batman being separate from the newly established “Justice League” bunch. But this is a little more like the first Christopher Nolan film “Batman Begins” in that Bruce Wayne is a bit grittier. I was very concerned about Robert Pattinson a former vampire of sorts known internationally for his role in the “Twilight” series. But enough about vampires in love let’s talk about the Bat shall we?

Pattinson is quite good behind the mask but less believable as Bruce Wayne. But this is not really his fault, as clearly this Bruce was written to be darker and even more brooding than most films have him. There is a scene where he needs to play the “role” of the sole Wayne family heir and dresses up a bit. He doesn’t pull off Bruce Wayne well in my opinion. This film spends very little time in the high society circles so I can forgive the lack of Wayne decorum from the young and trouble Bruce. Batman Begins however was dealing with a similar situation and they gave us a very believable Bruce Wayne.

This film spends most of its time as a detective drama and that is spot on for Batman, you know Batman, the world’s greatest detective a product of DC aka Detective Comics 😉 By now you know the primary villain is the “Riddler” and this the early stage Riddler with the early stages of development, is not yet the criminal mastermind. He is off to a hell of a rookie year as he baffles the bat and manages to unleash a pretty epic catastrophe on Gotham City. Paul Dano’s Riddler spends much of the movie obscured from the camera and is not really a big scene stealer, but near the end we see him in the full light of day…err dark and gritty Gotham night, and Paul delivers a convincing psychopath.

Pattinson was better than I expected and the Director, Matt Reeves pulled off a well done film if not one than ran the clock a tad on the long side. That aside we are given a well done weaving of many of Gotham’s legendary villains tied together nicely and interwoven into the Riddler’s mad scheme. They are not just tossed in like cabbage in a cheap salad, but all play an internal part in the Bat solving the case. The villains in the Batman comics are among the greatest villains of all time, and I feel like they got the respect they deserve int his movie. Sure Penguin is under developed, but he will likely be back.

I was delighted with the cast in this film. This wasn’t a who’s who of the A-listers in Hollywood, but we got quality peeps playing quality roles. So we know our leading man, how about the leading lady. The Batman has always had a quasi love interest in Catwoman, Selena Kyle this go round is played by Zoë Kravitz. I like this Catwoman and she provides plenty of Catwoman’s trademark sex appeal but also is extremely believable in the role of a fighter using cat-like reflexes and martial prowess to defeat larger and stronger enemies. Ms Kravitz was good here and I must say I look forward to a return to this role if Warner Brothers decide to bring a sequel. They allude to it at the end of the film. Kravitz gives us a gritty, sexy, compassionate, character who’s tendency to slide away from lawful behavior is totally forgiven. Bravo Ms. Kravitz. She is the daughter of legendary musician Lenny Kravitz by the way, in case you are wondering 🙂

Warner Brothers is one of the studios pushing a lot of woke politics in their movies and TV. They literally chased me away from their TV shows in the DC universe. I don’t watch movies and sports to be preached at from the likes of Hollywood which contains some of humanities most wretched souls. You know, people like Harvey Weinstein for example. Anyway, this movie avoids the politic divisiveness and hatred with just a couple of veiled moments of wokeism.

The best part of this film was the police drama angle with a very ‘procedural’ approach. We will be exposed to the possibility that the shiny reputation of the Wayne family may have some dirty little secrets to tell. We were first shown this less than lustrous point of view in the 2019 film, The Joker. Bruce has to dive into this potential reality of his family legacy and the other characters ensnared in the Riddler’s master plan fall into the Wayne family legacy as well. This part of the plot was rather brilliant actually. Sure it’s a Batman movie, so there has to be lots of punching, car chasing, and explosions. There are plenty of those, but this plot was well weaved and the characters for the most part fit really well into the story. In the end Batman solves the case but not entirely as sometimes is the case in the comics. Batman recognizes too late that there was more to the Riddler’s mad scheme, and at the end becomes the hero rather than the vigilante detective, and that was excellent ending.

I was told that Batman’s gadgets and utility belt were sub par and rudimentary. I disagree with that sentiment. In this movie Bruce has yet to get involved with the Wayne Enterprises legend, Lucius Fox. But his gadgets are still awesome, come on guys this is a “young bat.”

Matt Reeves gives us the Gotham we all expect, it is grimy, filthy, and corrupt as hell. The visuals from the foreground to the background give us a Gotham we can feel dirty in. We get a solid performance by veteran actor Jeffery Wright playing the good cop in a bad town, Jim Gordon. This is early in the Batman timeline he is still just Lt. James Gordon. We have Colin Farrell as the opportunistic Penguin. Not as dashing as the umbrella clad Burgess Meredith of the 1960s TV show nor the wretched freak show delivered by Danny Devito in Batman Returns (1992). This Penguin will likely return in a sequel and hopefully he can rise to the occasion. We get Carmine Falcone played extremely well by actor John Turturro. This may be the best Falcone I have ever seen on the silver screen or TV. I bought that gangster vibe lock, stock, and barrel.

By now you may be wondering why I haven’t brought up Alfred Pennyworth. Well Andy Serkis does a good job as the venerable Alfred but I can’t decide where he lands on the all time Alfred list. I’ll have to see the movie again and work it out. Maybe I’ll bring it up in a future Batman themed article.

I mentioned earlier that this film seems to set up a sequel and the newly elected young and seemingly compassionate Mayor Bella Reál played by Jayme Lawson should return in a sequel. Will this charming and lovely young mayor make real progress in Gotham or will she become entwined in the corruption that is so famous in G-town. Enquiring minds want to know.

So this Batman film was better than I expected and will find itself nicely perched on the top half of the left hand page of the list of best superhero films, but as good as it is, it doesn’t rise to the level of the first two films from Christopher Nolan, nor is it in that upper echelon in the top 10, but it is solid and well worth the price of admission. BTW I stayed to the bitter end to watch an after credit scene that turned out to be a bit of a joke on us viewers. You don’t have to stay because there isn’t much there, but I will avoid the spoiler just in case you want to hold back that bathroom break a little longer. This is a THREE hour film.

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The Eternals sets up MCU Phase 4

Yes I know it was released a few months ago, but I have been less enthused with Hollywood productions of late, so I eventually get around to watching the MCU films.

I know a huge movie was released at Christmas, Spiderman: No Way Home. I was going to see that film between Christmas and New Years with my son, Nolan. I got super busy that week so he went and saw it on his own. I will get round to it soon.

OK, now on to the Eternals. I watched this film last night and went in “cold turkey.” I hadn’t read any reviews, hadn’t really heard anyone talk about it, so I feel like I got a really good screening as if I had seen it on day one.

So I have mixed feelings about this movie. It ran a bit long at 2:37 but never really wore out its welcome. That is hard to do so they get kudos for that. For me, I never really studied the Marvel Eternals and Celestials so I was only vaguely familiar with the characters. I feel like I am much more familiar now with what they are all about and again that is a plus for the film. This movie is literally setting up all of Phase 4. This story begins as a good guys vs. bad guys, Eternals vs Deviants respectively, but later divulges and unknown truth that alters the perception of what was an absolute truth and shows a much more relative gray reality.

If you are interested in this new phase of Marvel movies, this is a MUST see film. We are watching the buildup to the next great universe ending antagonist now that Thanos is gone.

I really liked the cast of characters as a menagerie of eclectic personalities. This was used very effectively in the Guardians of the Galaxy and it works well here too. There wasn’t a huge amount of “star power” driving the cast, the best known actor being Angelina Jolie playing ‘Thena’ for which I felt she was more than adequate in the role. The next best known actor was Kit Harrington who became rather famous in the role of ‘Jon Snow’ in Game of Thrones.

The Eternals are like a Dungeons and Dragons adventure party, The Healer, The Rouge, The Heavy Fighter, The Wizard, etc. It works well actually. Although SPOILER ALERT: At several points the ‘healer’ Ajak, played by Oscar Nominie (Frida, 2003), Salma Hayek is shown healing horrific wounds to the other Eternals after intense battles. Later she dies and yet the remaining Eternals continue receiving equally ‘lethal’ wounds and somehow are just fine in the next scenes. Hmm…

Comedy relief scenes, sometimes compilations throughout a story arc, are one of Marvel’s greatest assets both in the paper comics and the silver screen. The Eternals certainly taps into this methodology well and we get some excellent dialog exchanges and side stories that intervene on the intensity and lighten the film to great effect. The star of this aspect is rather clearly ‘Kingo’ portrayed by actor Kumail Nanjiani. (Kumail will appear in the upcoming Star Wars mini-series Obi-Wan Kenobi). Later in the film we are treated to a look at how the Eternals, now hiding in plain sight living among people, have faired since the fall of the Mayans when they thougth they had killed the last of the Deviants. Each of the Eternals had their own “life” and we get a peek at how they have spent those years. None of them had as much fun as Kingo. no spoiler here, but Kingo’s last 100 years are hilarious.

My favorite exchange though is a subtle one between Ikaris and Thena where Angelina Jolie makes it memorable not for the actual words, but the entire tone, facial expression, and sultriness in her retort: Ikaris: “You’ve never had to fight ME.” Thena: “No, but I’ve always wanted to.” My favorite actor was Gemma Chan portraying Sersi, who was able to deliver the most empathetic character on the screen and follow that to the conclusion as she rises to lead the Eternals after the SPOILER ALERT: death of Ajak.

Disney couldn’t help adding the usual wokieness to the movie, but it isn’t actually up in your grill with it. More like a passive nod so it didn’t feel like it pushed a narrative unrelated to the actual story. Overall the movie is a B minus affair and falls into a mediocre spot on the list.

In related news, Angelina Jolie reportedly turned down an offer to portray Thena in a solo movie. That’s disappointing as I though she played the character rather well.

Also I mentioned the upcoming Kenobi series for Star Wars and should mention that Disney+ released another excellent Star Wars show: The Book of Bobba Fet, which is outstanding! As an added bonus one of my absolute FAVORITE actress is a primary character in that show, Ming Na Wen. She makes everything she appears in better.

I’ll be back soon with a review of Spiderman: No Way Home.


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Hawkish on Hawkeye

Well I am rather pleased to report that I am caught up on the Hawkeye series on Disney + and it has been rather good actually. The first episode was excellent, truly top drawer stuff. You really aren’t 100% sure where the hell we’re going, but you have a good time getting there. There is a rather tangled web of things happening and the series keeps you in the dark. In this case it is a good thing as this is a bit of a mystery for the first several episodes.

We have a new character that is sort of a defacto apprentice for Hawkeye, young Miss Kate Bishop. Through a series of events Kate becomes involved in the conspiracy and a target of a few bad guys. Clint Barton tries to protect her from said baddies. Actress Hailey Steinfeld pulls off the impetuous to the point of annoyance with a lovable and hard to get mad at persona, in the role of Kate Bishop. Kate is also very talented with a bow and arrow.

This series is unraveling a deep criminal conspiracy and that helps build a convincing story arc. The show tends to suck you into the narrative and lets you feel the mystery and conspiracy by not telling you too much as things unfold. I really am getting a bit hawkish on this series and look forward to new episodes each week. I would suggest watching Black Widow before starting the Hawkeye series as the movie ties into the show.

I will be reviewing some other great content on streaming services including Amazon’s fantastic ‘The Expanse’ now in its sixth season. Star Trek Discovery is in its fourth season and is still interesting. Netflix also is running a new season of the Witcher, that I found to be better than the critical reviews last year.

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Did Black Widow make any Widows recently?

It has been so hard to keep up with the Marvel verse lately but I did finally get round to watching the lovely and talented Scarlet Johansson make her title character debut in a solo Marvel film. I have been severely beaten down by Hollywood’s incessant politicization of nearly everything they make. So now I am less eager to take the beating. I haven’t even starting watching Hawkeye yet on Disney+.

Well I am rather pleased to report that the Black Widow movie was rather well done and seemed to keep its distance from unrelated political issues. In fact in my humble opinion it may have over achieved. I had modest expectations for the film, despite my fondness for the character and my genuine belief that Ms. Johansson has absolutely deliver the goods in the role through several Marvel movies. Disney has just had a hard time focusing on the basics that made Marvel Films so damn good. This one, was back to the fundamentals, for the most part.

I will say I am rather disappointed in the first section of the movie that is intended to give us some backstory on one Natasha Romanoff AKA the Black Widow. Actually this part of the film is well done and even exciting. The undercover in Ohio scenes were touching at points as well as exciting as things go to shit for the “family.” But after all that clears out we are left with a “21 years later” and we are more or less back into the timeline of the Marvel Films. We didn’t really get to see her ‘develop’ into the master assassin we all know and love today. Oh well we do get some real intel on the dastardly dealings of the diabolically evil General Dreykov and his Red Room as the plot makes its way to the climax.

The movie does zip around a bit to various destinations around the world, kind of like a James Bond movie but the time zone changes are sometimes abrupt and not well explained. That’s a minor annoyance, but I hate when I have to start thinking about things that should have been clear from onset.

Overall Black Widow was a good film, not great, but good. It had a few parts where it could have used a break in the action particularly early on, but Disney/Marvel did a real good job on some of the comedic dialog. This is something Marvel has always excelled at from the paper comics to the silver screen, and Widow does not disappoint here. The interactions with Alexei Shostakov AKA the Red Guardian and their ‘surrogate’ mother Melina Vostokov are alone hilarious but further interactions between Romanoff and her ‘surrogate’ sister, Yelena Belova continue throughout the film and are also well timed and funny. I never noticed what a ‘poser’ Natasha was until Yelena pointed it out 😉

Black Widow won’t take down any titans on the all time list but it isn’t stinking the place up either.

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A New Shield Bearer – And More fun than a Barrel of Lokis

It’s been a long while since this blog posted anything, yikes, March!

Disney Plus has continued to push high quality content through their popular streaming service and Marvel has been a big part of the material. Since Wanda-Vision, they released both the “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “Loki” since I last wrote about Wanda-Vision.

Falcon and the Winter Soldier was very good, not nearly as creative as Wanda-Vision nor as good in general, but it was a nice splinter off the comics concept of multiple people carrying “the shield.” Disney was unable to help themselves dipping into political themes with veiled messages as well as overt messaging with political ideologly. They must think that is a winning strategy, I think it is a loser. We do not need to divide people any more than they already are. Marvel, Star Wars, and other great franchises serve as a uniting experience when the ideologues stay out of the script.

Falcon and Winter Soldier was well executed high quality cinema and it was pretty dark on themes. Our “villain” was well developed and believable. She was rather dastardly in her quest for the greater good at the expense of the innocent. But her age, and cause made her empathetic rather than a bête noire or abomination. Our actors in the leading role return form the feature films and are both well vetted, well acted, and well scripted. This series was my least favorite thus far among the Disney Plus Marvel themed content. It is still worthy of watching and by no means is it not a top tier production. 3 stars.

Loki just finished up here last week. I am not super familiar with the timeline alt versions of Loki and I do not want to spoil anything here for those that have yet to see the full season. I am torn between Wanda-Vision and Loki as which is my favorite Disney Plus Marvel show. They are both interesting because of the style and the storyline not being typical Marvel formulaic. Wanda-Vision started in a 1950s sitcom and morphed its way through several decades as a faux TV show, and that was fun. Along the way we got some really good entertainment. Loki is similar. I like the Art Deco themes used through out the season with a style and ambience I absolutely love. The scenes inside the TVA were awesome. I am an Art Deco fan boy so I was over the moon at the TVA. I even sent in a resume. I want to work there 😉 Loki gets even sillier than Wanda-Vision which was a tad more ‘serious’. But actor Tom Hiddleson pulls off Loki like he actually IS the God of Mischief. He never gets old and never fails to entertain us. And how about Mobius M Mobius with his weird Jet Ski fetish, played by none other than Owen Wilson. Owen Wilson adds a full star to anything he plays in 🙂 The show is a little hard to follow early on if you are unfamiliar with this more niche branch of Marvel, but it gets clear what’s going on around episode three or so and it is never dull or boring. The dialog is sharp and at times rather witty, the acting is solid as well. 4.5 stars.

Loki will be back for a second season as well as Falcon and Winter Soldier. Wanda-Vision is a one and done but there will likely be some sort of spin off utilizing Agatha Harkness who was brilliantly portrayed by actress, Kathryn Hahn. Lot’s of good stuff headed our way over the next few months including, Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye.

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WandaVision Elevates the Game of Marvel

Disney + has the gloves off and they are kicking ass and taking names. It doesn’t hurt that they have two of the biggest movie franchises in the universe under their control. After watching two seasons of the Mandalorian and raving about that, I moved on to the next Disney + special series; Wandavision.

There will be no spoilers here so if you have not seen it yet, worry not, but right after reading this you certainly should light up your TV and start.

This is a take on the superhero genre the likes of which I have never seen before. I believe Disney – Marvel are breaking new ground. That is saying something, since Hollywood has been regurgitating old material for the last few decades and Marvel has had one hell of a great run these last 15 years or so.

Wandavision starts off a little weird, in that you are not sure what the hell is happening, why it is happening, or how it is happening. But it is happening, and it is so well done and well written, that you will likely get hooked on the story arc like many did when ABC launched the series “Lost.”

This series was a HUGE gamble for Disney because it cost $225 million to produce and that equates to the most expensive per episode television series ever made. They deliver the goods and you may feel compelled to tip them. This is great stuff. Wandavision will have your head twisted in a pretzel gnawing at the plot.

The show opens within the setting of a 1950s sitcom and will seemingly progress through the decades with twists and turns in the development of the story. Again I am remaining spoiler free here, but Disney gives us some genuine entertainment value even for those who are not keen on the actual superhero genre. This is not the typical formula as it blends a little conceptuality with movies like ‘The Truman Show’ and ‘Pleasantville’. The show is not those plots per se but have some of the theme elements that give this show a real dynamic angle. This show is a good mix of Marvel action, Disney fun, and some cerebral conditioning.

As has been true throughout Marvel’s amazing run that started with Ironman in 2008, this show ends with lead ins to the potential future movies and shows that might spin off the events of these episodes.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are next up.

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The Snyder Cut

Well the so called ‘Snyder Cut’ has been released on HBO Max and Zach Snyder finally deliver’s his private take on the Justice League. Officially the film is called, “Zach Snyder’s Justice League.” This was not your typical directors cut my friends. This was literally twice as long as the theatrical release. So how was it? Take a look at the Super Hero leader board.

This film shows us quite clearly that the Justice League story really needed to be told in two movies, like Marvel did with Infinity War and End Game. Zach Snyder decided to give us a little classic 1930s action with a movie that clearly could use an intermission, especially for those sucking down the 32oz beverage. This movie eclipses the run time of the legendary “Gone With the Wind” by a couple of minutes.

I am surprised at how many comments are out there about the run time, as if it is a big deal. Marvel gave us nearly SIX effing hours of screen time to tell the final tale of the Avengers. Yes it was that long. 160 minutes for Infinity War and 181 minutes for End Game. I’ll help you with the math, That’s 5 hours and 41 minutes for the two.

Zach Snyder’s Justice League is NOT too long and in fact aside from natural breaks for the restroom, the movie never overstayed its welcome. This is what Justice League should have been in 2017, either a two film split or better yet this four hour masterpiece.

Justice League in 2017 gave us a bunch of underdeveloped characters. Wonder Woman at least had her origin film done a few months earlier, but Aquaman’s film had yet to be produced, there was no Flash back story film, and Cyborg in the original Justice league was just dumped in with no development at all. It was a hot mess of cutting room floor mistakes and a lack of post production vision by Joss Whedon who came in after Zach Snyder stepped down to tend to the loss of his daughter Autumn.

This is hands down the best multi-hero character collaboration film DC has ever done. Zach gives us the film in full IMAX format which is not a wide screen format. The film is presented in a form factor that is reminiscent of Pre-HD television. That is fine by me but of course my 65 inch Sony 4k TV had to yield 40% of its screen area to those dreaded letterbox voids.

Zach Snyder tells the whole story here. We get what feels like a rewrite of the Batman that was really poorly written in the original. Of course it is just editing, but it is really good editing, because I felt a difference in Bruce Wayne’s disposition, for the better. In this we get that forceful leader of the Justice League we all know he is. We get a great back story and development of not only Cyborg, but Victor Stone and his father. We don’t get the full development treatment for Barry Allen, but it is much more than we got in 2017. This film takes the time to tie up all the sub plot elements into a cohesive final showdown. 

Like the original, his film doesn’t give us too many light hearted moments. It is still a dark and dreary movie. Barry Allen provides most of the comic relief in this movie just as he did in the first go round, but since we get more of Barry this time, we get a little more funny moments as well. 

I still think Ben Affleck pulls off the older batman really well, can’t seem to get why there are Affleck as the Bat haters out there. Henry Cavil is better as Superman as well. Much of the scenes of course are the same or similar to the original, but clearly Snyder did a better job in post production than did Joss Whedon, because Cavill is definitely better this go round. Wonder Woman well what can I say, It’s no secret, I’m in love with Wonder Woman, so she was perfect… again. I also feel like Jason Momoa as the Aqua-man in this new cut was even better than last time. This movie delivers a whole lot of epic super hero scenes, and takes the time to give us several spectacular entrances with capes and hair blowing in the breeze of badassery. These are the little things that were left on the cutting room floor last time but give you some super hero sizzle in this one. 

Zach Snyder: you sir, delivered the goods, Bravo.

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Tom Brady: He just won’t go away. Kind of like my grudges.

I have not wrote about football in quite awhile, but Tom Brady is about to start in his 14th conference championship game. Only four NFL franchises have been to more Conference Championship games than Tom Brady, please note I wrote “franchises”.  There are only four NFL franchises that have more playoff wins than Tom Brady. The Patriots have 37, The  Cowboys have 35, The Steelers have 35, The Packers which is a 100 year old franchise, have 34, and Tom Brady an individual player has 32. The next best player behind him? Joe Montana with 16 postseason victories.

Anyone who knows me, knows I share no love for Tom Brady. I am and have always been, a sports grudge keeper. I do not believe in holding grudges in general… except in SPORTS 😉 I have been known to hold these grudges for years, even decades. These grudges against players and or teams date back to my middle school days. When I begrudged the Broncos for stealing a conference Championship victory from the Raiders with the help of the officials in 1977. This keeping the Raiders from a repeat trip to the Super Bowl. I had to root for Dallas in that Super Bowl, yech! I didn’t actually hate the Cowboys at that point in my life, that would come a year later. And Brady, a man not even born yet when I first began my NFL grudges, would find himself in my crosshairs one day.

The longest grudge I hold is now well over 40 years. To this very day I hold a grudge against the Dallas Cowboys. This grudge is not due to any one game, any one player, or coach. No I hold a grudge against the Cowboys because in 1978 they produced a highlight film in which they presented themselves as “America’s Team.” That single act of pomposity alone wasn’t really what got under my skin, in fact I don’t think I ever saw the film. It was the fact that the sports media and eventually the mainstream media perpetuated the name giving it a semblance of truth. The Dallas Cowboys were a great team in the 1970s, but they were not America’s team, they were not my team, for nearly every one outside of Texas, they were the other team. Every time I heard them presented as “America’s Team” I wanted to throw my shoe through TV screen. And I still do 42 years later.

What does all of this really have to do with Brady and the Patriots? Well context is important so read on. Back in 1997 John Elway finally found himself on a Broncos team that had some depth to the roster and some weapons on offense. As a life long Raiders fan, the Broncos don’t garner my affection. But in January of 1998 John Elway and the Denver Broncos found themselves in another Super Bowl. This would be John’s 4th trip to the big game following three losing efforts years earlier against the Giants, Redskins, and 49ers. I held onto to that grudge from the conclusion of the AFC Championship game in January of 1978 for a full two decades. I’d like to think my grudge played a role in keeping the Lombardi trophy out of Denver, but I don’t think I’m quite that powerful 😉 That did not stop me from publicly lifting the grudge in an article published right here in the old paper version of this blog. On Monday, January 19th, 1998 I wrote an article titled: “After 2 Decades, I Finally Forgive.” I go on to recount the events of that fateful day in 1978 and discuss why a lifelong Raiders fan would forgive the Broncos. Well in short, the Broncos are still a hated rival, but the sports media seem to feel quarterbacks need to win Super Bowls as a prerequisite for being among the best to play. I think this is a bullshit premise on it’s face. Fran Tarkenton never won a Super Bowl, neither did Dan Marino. Both of those guys are still among the best to ever play the game, frankly both of them were better than four time Super Bowl Champ, Terry Bradshaw. I did not want a QB that had dealt so much devastation to my Raiders to go down as a “pretty good QB” I wanted him to be remembered as a guy that won games, was pretty clutch, and could throw a football through a brick wall. That way I could feel a little better about all of Elway’s wins against my beloved team. Now with Rod Sager’s grudge released, Elway went on to win back to back Super Bowls, punching his ticket to a first ballot entry to Canton in 2004. Gee, maybe I am that powerful 😉

So now we are getting to the Brady part of this tale. There are two reasons I hold a grudge against Tom Brady. First is “The Tuck” one of many legendary plays involving the Raiders over the decades. This time the play went against Oakland and just about everyone in the football universe knows the Raiders were royally screwed by the officials on that play. As it ended up: instead of a game ending fumble it was an opportunity for Brady and company to steal a win in the snow. Those Raiders almost certainly would have won the Super Bowl; that team was stacked! Tom’s solid play in relief of injured Drew Bledsoe, led coach Belichick to replace Bledsoe as the permanent starter. Bledsoe was one of my favorite players. Now that’s two reasons to hate on Brady! As the years went on and Brady continued to pour on victories and championships I started to hate more on Belichick especially with the scandals of spying on the Jets and deflate-gate. The Patriots quickly replaced the Cowboys as my most hated franchise. Well clearly my grudges are not that powerful anymore, because Brady has six Super Bowl rings. That guy is on his way to needing Super Bowl thumb rings.

This weekend Tom Brady will lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that went 7-9 last year with solid QB Jameis Winston, to the NFC Championship game against the Packers at Lambeau and Aaron Rodgers at QB. I like Rodgers he is one of my favorite players, but deep down, I am rooting for Tom Brady. How is this even a thing? ‘Tuck’it Tommy B’ can’t get no love from me! It’s a little like what happened with Elway. Now you might be thinking, Brady has the rings, he doesn’t need any more, right? Well, yes… sort of.

Brady is already being crowned by the sports media as the G.O.A.T. which as you probably know in our acronym heavy world, means: greatest of all time. I don’t think so, not yet. If I have to listen to the Brady sycophants chanting: GOAT, GOAT, GOAT, for the rest of my effing life, I’d like to at least believe it… a little.

Look at this 2020 season. The Patriots sans the ‘Tuckster’, went 7-9 this season and missed the playoffs after a 12 win season with Brady last year. It’s not like they had a chump behind the center this year. They had the excellent Cam Newton back there. Jeez, that guy led the Panthers to a Super Bowl recently! In all fairness, I’m not convinced Newton is a good fit for a Belichick team, but he is a damn good player. So maybe Tom is the “real deal” and Belichick is the pretender. Maybe Bill will need to dig into the cheat bag to pull off a winning season without Tuck boy on the roster.

What is up with Brady? How can he still be so good after 20 seasons? I think he made a deal with the devil. Seriously, he still has movie star good looks, a super model wife, and the real possibility of running out of ring fingers. He is on a quest to wipe out every passing record on the books. He threw 40 TDs this year on a team that went 7-9 last year. He was tied for 2nd in the league for TD passes and third for yardage. This man is 43 years old! If Tom Brady can lead this Tampa Bay team to a Super Bowl in his first year on the roster, it becomes nigh impossible to deny him some G.O.A.T. action. So here I am some 19 years after the Tuck play, releasing my grudge against Tom Brady, and refocusing it entirely on Bill Belichick and the Patriots 😉

I am looking forward to Sunday’s matchup because I really can’t lose in this game. If Rodgers wins I’m happy because I like Aaron, If Brady wins I’m OK with all the GOAT talk. Win / Win.

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