X-Men Apocalypse on BluRay and A new Champ Up Top

917u3nefvql-_sx342_Yes it had its video release this month and of course true to form, I went out and bought it. You may recall I reviewed this film shortly after its theatrical release giving it favorable marks. It managed to stay in the top half of the all time list but nothing too spectacular. Additional screenings on my home screen have not really changed my position on the film. It’s a solid effort and a decent movie. In my first screening of the movie I really liked the dramatic entrance into the final battle by Psylocke as she splits a car in half. The second time I saw it though it looked kinda of cheesy. I think the first time it was all Olivia Munn delicious and the next time I was more critically watching the special effects. This is a good movie and I really like “prequel” versions of the X-Men. Although I think I might prefer the original Raven played by Rebecca Romijn. Everything I said in that first review holds up save for my over enthusiastic comments about Psylocke’s entrance into the final battle.

Now this next segment is sure to cause a stir among some of my readers. For a great long while the Avengers has enjoyed the top perch on the all time super hero movie list. It took a second screening of that film in 2012 for me to feel compelled to bump Batman Begins down a notch. But ultimately, that’s exactly what I did. Now I have watched the Avengers on BluRay numerous times since and I have watched the other top five films too many times to recount. I often feel I need to be “in the mood” to watch say Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman or even Christopher Nolan’s exceptional Batman Begins. And yes, some times I am just not in the mood for the Avengers. Yet there is a movie on this list that debuted in the top ten and seems to have slowly worked it’s way to the inner circle of masterpiece greatness. I have watched it more times than either Batman begins or Avengers yet those movies have been out for a long time. I have probably seen Batman (1989) more, but come on, that movie has been out for nearly 30 years now.

There is one film I am always in the mood to watch. I watch it about every 6 weeks. It is funny, well acted, has a fabulous soundtrack and a brilliant score, and doesn’t take itself too serious. Yes, my friends Guardians of the Galaxy is simply the best superhero movie of all time.

 

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Netflix Delivers Yet Again!

Last Friday, Netflix released the first 13 episodes representing season one of “Luke Cage”. This is now the third series they have done based on Marvel characters and the 4th season overall as Daredevil has two seasons. Daredevil was the start. I wrote about that show here and it was nothing short of BRILLIANT. Daredevil was followed by the Netflix original series Jessica Jones, about a would be hero turned detective with super strength and an intuitive mind. Both of these first two series were based in Hell’s Kitchen NYC and had some crossover content. Jessica Jones introduced us to the title character of this latest series, Luke Cage. Luke was in fact a pretty significant part of the plot in Jessica Jones. That show was also BRILLIANT. I reviewed Jessica Jones, here.

As we learned in Jessica Jones and the Marvel Comics of course, Luke Cage is the result of an experiment that went wrong yet created in him bulletproof skin and extreme strength.

Well true to Marvel form, when introducing new characters they build them into a contiguous story line and narrative before spinning them off. Luke Cage is set in Harlem NY and this ties into the end of Jessica Jones as we see leave Hell’s Kitchen (his bar in ruins) and he is humbly and quietly working “under the radar” at the close of that series. These shows all tie into the Marvel universe that is being portrayed in the Feature Films , ABC’s Agents of Shield and other current Marvel plot lines. It’s all so seamlessly integrated into the overall Marvel Universe story.

This new Netflix show follows the other two into the dark and gritty. Netflix likes to take this to the R rating level with edgy violence, some partial nudity in some saucy sex scenes, and R rated words including a widespread use of the “N” word. That latter usage however seems to be utilized well within the context of the story and is by no means used in an egregious manner. This is not a Wolf of Wall Street F-bomb type thing at all.

Simone Missick as Misty Knight

Simone Missick as Misty Knight

The first episode starts out really slow. DO NOT let that stop you from watching the rest of this series. This is 13 hours of content. The equivalent of five full length movies. The first episode and a half spends time developing our devious and delicious villains and the supporting characters that will complete the plot. The show does have a proper “conclusion” but also leaves several potential second season plot lines open through an ambiguous “end” to certain characters.  It is thus far as its two predecessors have been, BRILLIANT.

The characters in this series are complex and written very deep. You get to do this when you have thirteen episodes not driven by individual episodic success but by the collective content of the whole season. The writers get to dive into the development of these characters to a level you rarely find on regular television and even in the movies. Simone Missick is killing it as Misty Knight. Who she is veiled in the beginning so I will not give away who she is (Marvel fan-boys already know). 

Actress Alfre Woodard says 12 Years a Slave offers a truthfulness that we don't normally get in cinema.

Alfre Woodard as Black Mariah

The scenes are largely dark and ominous, but there are beautiful bright sunny scenes as well showing a vibrant Harlem community that works and plays in the foreground. The people go about their daily business despite the sinister activities lurking in the night and in the shadows. This show dives in to local politics better than any of the other Netflix series featuring Marvel Universe stories and perhaps better than any Marvel franchise ever has. This is a show with intellectual political villains as well as tradition “powered” evil villains. This villainy was so well done it literally carries the show.

Thus far we have two villains. The first is a politician, the second a gangster boss. The two are related and have an interesting relationship. These villains are well written and deeply developed within the first few episodes. They are not simple, single-minded villains. They are complicated and in some ways conflicted. They have a false sense of morality that permeates and clouds the things they do. As a side note: guess the age of actress Alfre Woodard, playing Black Mariah. No Googling… yeah, I did a double take on her birth date. 1952? Yes friends Harry S. Truman was still in office and Eisenhower had just been elected. Wow she looks fabulous for 63 years old. And she is all over this Villain role.

Our protagonist is equally complex. As best as my knowledge allows, this appears to be a pretty good adaptation of Luke Cage from the comics. Luke Cage was born in Harlem and ended up at one point in Seagate Prison and part of Stryker’s heinous experiments. There is some dialog at one point in an early episode where Luke is asked where he’s from, his response was initially, “Chicago”. Pops replies, “you ain’t from no Chicago” Luke then says “Savannah, Georgia”. Now this does not mean Luke was “born” there so the integrity of the Marvel universe remains intact. Was the “Chicago” answer an Easter Egg nod to the second adaptation of this character in 1992, who did hail from Chicago after leaving New York?

We will learn a great deal about Luke Cage’s origin story in a series of flashback memories. The director also utilizes flash forward and even uses the same flash forward scene twice before actually continuing the story from that point. An interesting but by no means novel use of the flash forward technique. Yet this is used in conjunction with the flashback style of origin story telling that helps us learn about Luke. Despite all this plot and narrative complexity, it just seems to flow well. It works.

This is another huge win for Netflix and yet another feather in the cap of Marvel Entertainment’s epic success story.

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15 years later…

Of course it is September 11th, 2016 and this marks 15 years since the fateful events of September 11th, 2001. The world is a different place in the “post 9-11” aftermath and terrorism is a real threat all over the globe.

The groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS are filled to the brim with hatred. Hatred so strong that it virtually corrupts their moral center. How can such hatred be contained within a human being? Hatred with enough vitriol to murder thousands is hard to comprehend.

Yet there it is out there. Dozens and even scores murdered in violent rampages in Europe, the Middle East and right here in America. All of this hate in the name of “God”. This is not the will of “Allah” nor the will of “God”, this is the will of fanatical mullahs in places like Iran and even some of our “allies” like Saudi Arabia.

It is time that we as a nation stand up and honor those who have died at the hands of these detestable, fanatical thugs and diplomatically force our Arab “allies” to deal with this internal problem. These issues are complex to be sure.

Some suggest we should simply stop doing business with the OPEC nations that harbor these terrorist groups. That however would simply move those oil resources to our competitors like China who is more than willing to buy up any and all oil contracts it can get. Would that be beneficial to America? I am not sure.

One thing I am certain about is that our policy regarding the “refugees” and immigration are in serious need of adjustment. America needs a strong border, but we also need a much less bureaucratic legal entry system. We need to make sure that people coming to the United States are vetted. Are they healthy from a communicative disease standpoint? Are they radicalized terrorists? Are they coming here for that world-famous American opportunity?

There are many “illegals” that have come to America with the best of intentions. Perhaps they tried the “legal” method and became disenfranchised with the ridiculous amount of red tape, BS involved in that process. They “sneaked in” and now work here in America contributing positively to our society. But our acknowledgement of those is no excuse to continue allowing this free flow of illegals. Always there are they who will perpetrate evil using the freedom provided to others. All of the criminals and bad guys coming across are using the good people who come here to cover their own bad will. Whether it is bad drug cartel thugs blending in with the well-intentioned, migrant workers or radical Islamic terrorists blending in with genuinely needy refugees; we must be vigilant in our protection of our sovereignty as a nation and the safety of our citizens.

America by all means should continue to be that ‘shining beacon of hope’ and should continue to offer opportunity to those whom have had it oppressively denied. For our nation has produced great people for whom were forced out of their native countries for racist, political, economic or religious reasons. They came to America and made great things from nothing. Greatness need not always be measured against iconic successes like those of George Soros, Sammy Sosa, or Arnold Schwarzenegger. It should be measured by the millions of immigrants that have come to America with nothing more than a few coins in their pockets and built families and friends, while making the daily contributions to our society that make the whole economic machine work.

This is a day of reflection about a tragedy of such magnitude it influenced the entire world for better or worse, and perhaps a little of both. Shall we not at least try to set aside petty political arguments that mostly amount to a big box of nothing, and focus on the humanity of our nation. Hold our leaders to accountability and move our nation in a positive direction that affords opportunity for all and maintains a rational level of security.

On this day some 15 years later we find our selves as divided as we ever have been. The ONLY people in America that win under the divisive conditions we face right now, are the Washington DC insiders who are mostly corrupt and flying it in our faces. That my friends has to stop, but without at least a little American unity it will not.

May God bless these, The United States of America.

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Suicide Squad Better Than Expected but…

ssThe latest installment in the Warner Brothers DC universe was in part a departure from the genre yet somehow still the same formula. Many of the “professional” reviewers were disappointed in the super hero genre similarities but I found it a positive. Clearly this film was more aligned with the Guardians of the Galaxy than say the Avengers. In Guardians we had criminals and misfits as the protagonists and in Suicide Squad we have super villains as more or less the “good guys”.

Many reviewers have panned this film, and I went in with serious reservations about how well this movie would settle in. Rotten Tomatoes has this movie horrible at 19% fresh, but the audience scores it rather ‘fresh” at 72%. Typical, as the snotty professional reviewers once again like our national politicians, are so out of touch with mainstream America, they wouldn’t catch a fresh film it chewed a hole in their ass. These are they that still rate Remains of the Day at 97% fresh. I saw that film in the theater in 1993. Yes Sir Anthony Hopkins was brilliant and Emma Thompson Oscar worthy, but that film will put an espresso junkie to sleep faster than a physics professor opening for Chris Rock at the comedy club. No one that wants to see an epic drama with a cast of knighted actors is going to see Suicide Squad. Ever since Marvel Entertainment hit a bases clearing bottom of the ninth home run with Ironman in 2008 and followed with the epic Avengers in 2012, everyone expects every other comics movie to be the Avengers. This is not the Avengers my friends, and it’s no Guardians of the Galaxy either.

Frankly, this is not a great movie but in all fairness, it is a pretty good movie. They did a nice job setting up the characters of this motley crew of truly diabolical villains. And the director had a rather tall order trying to put all of this together. He did fairly well all things considered.

The plot is thin and predictable, but this is an action movie so it’s fine; since when is a masterpiece drama plot needed to fill an action flick? We get a whole lot of crazy, we get explosions and gun-play, we get diabolical a devious, we get a great cast of mostly A-listers, what they hell do those Movie Critics want, seriously?

Let’s not forget how important the musical score is. Guardian’s of the Galaxy was a great movie, one of the best comic book themed films ever produced and a big part of that greatness came in the form of an amazing musical soundtrack. Suicide Squad has a fabulous soundtrack that rocks the house and the songs chosen seem to fit the scenes well.

margotenhanced-29198-1446073847-1The cast is pretty solid here. Margot Robbie absolutely crushes it as Harley Quinn. She is sexy, diabolical, and absolutely squirrel bait nuts. She steals scenes with her crazy and steals more with her sexy. They blend well to create a villain/anti-hero that is truly delicious. A solid ‘A’ performance for Margot.

The Joker is a more modern twist on the aged character that has been around for almost 80 years. I have always preferred the classic Joker but the more recent Jokers played by Heath Ledger and now Jared Leto is also popular among movie goers. This new Joker, like Harley, is bat-shit crazy. I felt like Jared delivered us a nice and nasty Joker and he gets a ‘B plus’ but he was a distraction to the movie rather than a player in it. This is no fault of the actor but a fault of the script. I think DC is trying to introduce us to the Joker for the upcoming Justice League film. Unfortunately he either needed more screen time and plot involvement or less screen time, maybe a cameo of sorts. As it is he just doesn’t fit in to the story well.

Will Smith is Will Smith and for that he gets a minimum of a ‘B’ just for being Will Smith. Deadshot is an interesting character and always has been. Smith plays him well as the most introspective and least “villainous” of the ‘squad’. Deadshot is a character that despite the cold-blooded nature of what he does, is the most thoughtful and sensitive of the bunch. Smith is truly more of an Anti-Hero than a Villain. Smith gets a ‘A minus’, this wasn’t a role that needed the acting chops of guy like Smith, but Will delivers, but perhaps a little less than he could have given us.

The big surprise for me was the ethically questionable but eats nails for breakfast tough, Amanda Walker. What a fantastic character DC gives us here. Amanda Walker is the establishment character that is the ‘boss’ behind the controversial project that spawns the ‘Suicide Squad’. This role was played with absolute authority by Viola Davis and is a wonderful character that I believe we will see again in future DC based films. Viola delivers a solid performance here and gets an ‘A minus’ as well.

This movie really doesn’t have any true “good guys”. It’s like American Politics, they’re all bad but some of them are a little less bad. In this case our Suicide Squad is a bunch a deranged fiends that come together under duress, to fight an even more sinister villain that threatens the whole world.

Like Batman V. Superman, the film is a little lacking in the comic relief. The dialog is fair to good but not up to the standards of greatness we have come to expect from Warner/DC’s arch rival Marvel Entertainment. In Batman V Superman we had a mess of a movie with one shining star in Ben Affleck’s amazing Batman/Bruce Wayne and a could have been shining star had she received more screen time, Wonder Woman. This movie however was not a mess. The plot was marginal but it flowed well and the story was easy to follow. I think any movie with a huge cast of characters needs a more simple plot so we can digest the enormity of character development. Here Suicide Squad succeeds, at least a little.

Director David Ayer gives us a moody film with a lot of conspiracy undertones and characters that for the most part we can feel. He liberally applies the free-cam style for action which is increasingly more common and I feel is starting to become over-used. That said, the overall film presentation is solid. The movie doesn’t really get us, the audience fully engaged in the story. It is just not a fluid experience. Again in this genre you can get away with that to a point. Where Batman V. Superman fell apart mostly on this very issue, Suicide Squad managed to stay intact despite the rough story.

Stay for the after credits as you will see a clear tie in to future movies in a special scene.

This is a movie that was better than I expected but my expectations were not exactly high. Take a look at the super hero movie list to see how it rates. You will notice that Batman V Superman dropped several notches on my list as I now have it on Blu-Ray and watched it again with my Batman bias under control.

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Summer Movie Season in Full Swing!

Star-Trek-Beyond-InsigniaSo summertime movies are popping up every week now. I just saw Star Trek:Beyond, today. I’ll write about that in a little bit. Next week Jason Bourne returns in what is promised as a conclusion to the tale of the badass spy with memory problems. A week after that the DC Comics, villains for justice epic, Suicide Squad will debut. I have my next couple of Fridays booked out in advance 🙂

Today, my son Nolan and I, both of us are pretty hard-core trek fans, went to see the new Star Trek film, “Beyond”. My son and I disagree a bit on this one, he rates it very high but I come in a little more moderated. Was it a good flick? Yep; it was good. Was it worthy of top five trek films of all time grandeur? Nope.

This Trek film had all the trademarks of the JJ films with more explosions than a Vancouver USA Fourth of July. It also had the luxury of already well-developed characters. This being the third installment of the alternate timeline, the movie goers have a good understanding who these people are and what they are all about. Although the characters are 50 years old, these alternate timeline versions had some nuanced differences that some did not approve of. I am fine with all of that.

The developed characters also allowed for more exploration into a plot that was not particularly spectacular, but pretty good. Unlike the last film, this one was not a JJ Version 2.0 of a classic trek film. The movie did advance us three years into the “5 year” mission that was the talk of the epilogue closing the Wrath of Kahn 2.0, er, uh, I mean, Into Darkness.

The dialog is pretty solid and Bones, Scotty, Kirk, Spock, and Uhura are fantastic. The actors seem to be comfortable in their roles and it shows in a fluid performance. We don’t see much of the late Anton Yelchin in the movie. It seems Pavel Chekov did not have a big role this time. The film was dedicated to him in the closing credits and there is also a tie in to passing of Leonard Nimoy earlier this year.

This movie is full of action and it really never takes a breath. Here is where Nolan and I disagree, he thought it was moderately packed with action. I guess I’ll have to have him watch “Remains of the Day” with Sir Anthony Hopkins so he can have a different benchmark from which to measure the speed of a movie.

Justin Lin who is known for directing the Fast and the Furious and for having a loose free camera on fight scenes was feeling quite at home with this effort. The action is broken up with pretty good comic relief in the form of classic quips between the characters. Many of the scenes are very darkly lit and that creates a bit of a dark mood even in some of the scenes that were not really that gloomy. Nolan pined for the over-abundance of lens flare from the two previous installments directed by JJ Abrams. There is a scene with the sun coming out from behind a planet in which a full dose of JJ flare is utilized, a reminder to us that he served as a Producer 😉

star-trek-beyond-sofia-boutellaWe have a great new female heroine in the movie. That is a welcome addition. I am greatly disappointed that Kirk did NOT hit on the hot alien hero babe. Because you know, he’s captain Kirk, that’s what he does. Overall I give this movie solid marks and you don’t have to be a franchise fan to enjoy the film. I’m feeling like it’s about a 7.5 on the ten scale and lands right in the middle of the pack of now 13 films. So here is a fluid list, depending on my mood, of the Star Trek movies ranked best to worst.

  1. 1982 : Star Trek II : Wrath of Kahn
  2. 1991 : Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country
  3. 1986 : Star Trek IV : The Voyage Home
  4. 2009 : Star Trek
  5. 1996 : Star Trek : First Contact
  6. 2013 : Star Trek : Into Darkness
  7. 2016 : Star Trek : Beyond
  8. 2002 : Star Trek : Nemesis
  9. 1998 : Star Trek : Insurrection
  10. 1994 : Star Trek : Generations
  11. 1984 : Star Trek III : The Search for Spock
  12. 1979 : Star Trek : The Motion Picture
  13. 1989 : Star Trek V : The Final Frontier

 

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The Apocalypse is Upon Us

x-men-apocalypse-launch-quad-posterNo spoilers here. This one is hard to judge. Part of me really liked it, but another part of me felt kind of ‘meh’. I am not really sure what to make of this film. I will say that in general I have enjoyed the new cast. I like that this is a bit of a prequel series rather that a straight up reboot.

There were Easter eggs everywhere and I am certain I didn’t catch them all. But nerds will have a field day with all the geekdom goodies hidden in background of those miscellaneous scenes.

Speaking of that, this movie spent a whole lot of time setting up the plot. Usually by the time the third flick rolls around in the life of a trilogy, the plot development is out the window and it’s all blades and badassery for two hours. Not so much here. At times in the first hour of the movie it moves a little to slow. Not “Remains of the Day” slow, but a bit pokey.

getSpeaking of blades, if you saw the previews you saw Psylocke. Why, why, why, was there not MORE of Psylocke? Seriously towards the end of the film I was thinking in my head and the voice of my thoughts was in fact the voice of Christopher Walken, “It could use a little more Psylocke, more Psylocke…” Seriously and that end battle entrance, like an effing boss! But there was too little, too late. Olivia Munn was delicious. She could not have been any cooler, well unless she wore a cowbell 😉

They have done a great job with Eric Lehnsherr in this series of movies. I think Mr. Fassbender is excellent as the young Magneto and he has been outstanding in all three of these prequel movies.

Sophie+Turner+Long+Hairstyles+Long+Wavy+Cut+IXvteCc95KKlAnyone that is a fan of Game of Thrones, will likely love Jean Grey in this movie. The ever so lovely Sophie Turner is cast as the fiery, literally fiery, redhead in the role. She even shows us a little touch of the Phoenix Force as well. Sophie Turner gets a lot of screen time and she looks fantastic and all, but she didn’t get any decent dialog. Oh who cares, have you even looked at Sophie Turner? She doesn’t even have to speak 😉

OK enough about the hot babes, the scene stealer in this movie was once again, Quicksilver. Evan Peters is not the sole reason for the theft of scenes. He does a fine job as Quicksilver, AKA Peter Maximoff. The writers and film makers just had one of those stars aligning moments in a few scenes featuring Quicksilver, especially the scene where he is saving a bunch of people from an exploding building. (No spoilers). If I ever create a top 100 superhero movie scenes list, this one makes the list and might even break in to the top 25. Oh, crap! Now I have to go off and make a damn scene list.

Well the movie is solid, I liked Captain America: Civil War better for sure, but this was a solid effort. Of the three prequel X-Men movies it is bringing up the rear, but the Rotten Tomatoes score is too harsh, it’s better than that. Take a look at the new ranking chart using the tab above or click here.

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It’s a Civil War!

civilOK this was a pretty awesome movie my friends. I will not have any spoilers in this brief initial response to my matinée screening at the wonderful Cinetopia. That GXL Dolby ATMOS 80 foot screen is brilliant!

This movie tackled some heavy subject matter and delivered some of the best action sequences of any superhero movie to date. One of the things that really makes Marvel so awesome is how every movie is connected effectively to the whole series of films. In this movie we all knew going in that a rift between Captain America and Tony Stark would open to a chasm. And it does; that’s not a spoiler because everybody knows that 😉 That rift began to emerge way back with the Avengers in 2012. Marvel has just been amazing with character development across a dozen or more movies.

This movie really brought some fantastic film making to the table. Not just superhero genre good, but ‘cinematically’ good. The Russo Brothers absolutely took this thing to the proverbial barn with well-balanced action and drama.

Part of the problem with these movies is the fact that there are so many films coming out featuring superheroes from Marvel, DC and other graphic novels and comic books. There is a bit of superhero fatigue that has dulled the experience just a little bit. That can make a great film like ‘Civil War’ seem like it’s less than the Avengers but may actually be better. I have been watching the older films lately and finding that some of that ‘buzz’ is gone. That simply means the novelty of the movie is lost and when measure purely against its cinematic qualities they are not as ‘awesome’ as I originally thought. All of that considered this film will find itself near the top of my chart.

The Russos generously employed that jerky-journalistic style of camera work in this movie. You know that hand-held camera. And lots of chase camera a-la-COPS. I liked it, but some of the action sequences were long enough that I felt a bit fatigued with that style. It was not so much as to detract from the quality experience of the movie, but enough to notice. It is kind of like J.J. Abrams and lens flare in the 2009 Star Trek. Just a little bit over played.

This was not Chris Evans best effort as the Captain. He was solid, but not as convincingly good as in the previous installments of Captain America or the Avengers. Robert Downey Jr. however, was a total stud, again. This was the deepest acting effort yet by Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. The character was written with a serious tone and deep conflict and conviction. He nailed it.

I think I am falling in love with Natasha Romanov. Seriously, I could watch a whole movie dedicated to Black Widow kicking ass. Even a 2 hour montage of every scene and ass whooping she has delivered since first appearing in Ironman 2. I’m not alone on this my friends, she manages to sneak into a lot of Marvel films 😉

The rest of the cast is the usual Marvel Good stuff. We will see the emergence of another marvel character not previously presented in movies. He is a badass. I am not telling who it is, no spoilers, remember?

Everyone knew that Spiderman would appear in this movie as well. This is one thing the movie did really well. Spiderman is secondary to the plot. He provides much-needed comic relief to this darker than average and more dramatic movie, darker at least for Marvel. Spiderman movie rights are actually owned by Sony, and Marvel had to get him on “loan”. That is no small affair. Intellectual property is closely guarded. Sony of course took advantage of an opportunity to introduce the new Spiderman for the upcoming movies beginning next year. And they get Tony Stark on loan for the new spidey flick. Tom Holland is just barely 20 years old and he delivers the goods as the traditional 1960s version of Peter Parker in High School. I am looking forward to next year’s release of Spiderman: Homecoming.

MV5BMTUwMjA3OTc3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTA1MzY1Mw@@._V1_UY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_I was delighted to see Academy Award winner, Marisa Tomei playing Aunt May. Yes Marisa Tomei. If you haven’t seen ‘My Cousin Vinny’, go watch it NOW! Wait until after you’re done reading this. Seriously you haven’t seen that? OK anyway, Aunt May has been played in the last two trilogy’s by older women. Sally Field is lovely but she was well into her sixties when cast in the second trilogy. Marisa Tomei is my age, she turns 52 later this year. Really a hottie Aunt May? Yep!

Sometimes it’s those little in-between scenes that separate the good films from the great films. There is a scene with Tony Stark and Aunt May that is simple, offers a subtly funny and partly awkward moment that was absolutely brilliant. The Russo Brothers don’t deserve credit for shooting it, they deserve credit for keeping it in the movie! Those are the kinds of scenes that often get cut and yet they are the kind of scenes that are memorable, despite having little to do with the plot development. Bravo!

This movie doesn’t have a clearly defined villain. And I like that, it works here. The movie’s plot develops nicely and offers a few twists and reveals. Captain America: Civil War does a few things great and everything well. I don’t see the same movie in the theater that often, but I will likely be seeing this one again. Oh and stay all the way to the bitter end of the credits. There are TWO after credits scenes one early in the credits the other at the very end.

Be sure to check out the updated superhero movie list.  This movie debuts in the top five on the all time list!

Also be advised Deadpool arrives on Bluray this Tuesday!

 

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The 2016 Election: Seriously America?

I will tread most cautiously on the subject of politics as even the strongest friendships can be tested in these treacherous waters. But this 2016 General Election cycle cannot go without comment.

This is the second time in a row that a two term VP has declined to run for the Presidency. Dick Cheney said all along he would not run for President, and he did not. Joe Biden was a little less certain over the years about his aspirations for the big office, but ultimately decided as well not to seek his party’s nomination. This left us for the second time in eight years with neither party having an incumbent in the field of candidates.

800px-Hillary_Clinton_by_Gage_Skidmore_2All of that is fine and well, but with the sole exception of Hillary Clinton, who saw these four as the final four? Don’t lie to yourself, this is weird.

Let’s start with the Democrats. Hillary Clinton is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination; this is not surprising as she is a well-known and extremely well-funded candidate. Hillary is the insider candidate for the DNC. There really never was more than two “real” contenders for the Democratic nomination and the two contenders are still contending. Bernie Sanders is still in this election and he is looking like win or lose, he’ll take it all the way to Philly. I never thought the little old socialist could get to the home stretch. That should tell America all it needs to know about Hillary Clinton. Bernie is picking up steam and I don’t think Bernie can actually go to the convention with more delegates than Hillary, but he could still win the nomination, especially if any of the scandalous issues surrounding Mrs. Clinton were to move from the background to the foreground.

She has an equal share of lovers and haters in the political world including those in her own party. She was the front-runner in 2008 and then out of clear blue sky came this relatively unknown guy with a very middle eastern sounding name… Barrack Hussein Obama, and the Democrats kicked little Hilly to the curb. America elected the youthful and charismatic man twice.

Bernie_Sanders_September_2015_croppedNow we are looking at another guy coming from out of nowhere. Bernie Sanders has a lot of experience but is pretty open about his socialist leanings.  He lacks the youthful good looks that Mr. Obama has, but Bernie is running what could be the least corrupt major ticket presidential campaign in decades. Regardless of your political party affiliation or your place on the left vs. right dichotomy, you just gotta admire the old geezer.

There is a genuine concern. If Bernie the Socialist gets the party nod and goes on to win in November, how on Earth will he live to the end of his term. I mean presidents age like dogs. He’s 74 years old and he looks every month of it. By the time he’s up for reelection he will have aged to an effective 103 years old. I have not seen him parade his 96-year-old mother around like John McCain did in ’08. Mrs. McCain is still alive and well by the way, at a ripe 104. His VP choice would be crucial.

Of these two remaining Democrats, I think I would actually take Bernie over Hillary. I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. In theory, Hillary is closer to me than the old man. And I would love to have a lady president. But not Mrs. Clinton. I just don’t trust her. I believe that electing a candidate that stayed away from all the dirty, filthy DC insider money, like Mr. Sanders has, would do more to strengthen our country than having the first woman president. Just sayin’. Besides, Bernie would never get his arch-socialist agenda passed in the Congress. Just ask Obama. The 44th President of the United States came into office on January 20th, 2009 and enjoyed a big, fat, and juicy super-majority of Democrats in the Senate and a comfortable margin of Democrats in the House of Representatives. He could not get Jack, Diddly, or Squat done. The Health Care Act was so screwed up by the time it was passed that no one could recognize it. The House of Representative are always on an election cycle and that means those that are located in swing districts are not going to sign on to anything too controversial regardless of party affiliation.

800px-Donald_Trump_March_2015OK, that brings me to the really weird part. Donald Trump is still the Republican front-runner in APRIL! WTF just happened. This guy has stepped on his junk more this month than Dan Quayle did in his entire political career. The Donald is still around and he’s in the effing lead. What is wrong with you people? Look, I like Donald Trump. If I were gonna create a new reality TV show he’s on the short list ‘right out the gate’. But President? Oh, hell no! Seriously? This idiot has an ego so large it exerts a gravitational effect on our tides.

Let’s build a wall and Mexico will pay for it. Yeah, because that is gonna happen. (please insert a heavy layer of thick and pasty sarcasm here). Bernie’s wild hair scheme of making college free for all is more likely than Mexico building us a wall. So I officially lost what tiny bit of political respect I had for Donald Trump at the debate that digressed into a diatribe of insults about sweat, ears, hands and other unmentionable appendages. Frankly Trump was baited by Marco Rubio who was equally unprofessional but both of those guys are middle-school age mental idiots.

America cannot afford to have a guy like Trump as President. He has no class, he really has no idea what the hell is going on. He is the classic guy that has far more money than brains. I don’t think the President needs to be the smartest guy, but he does need to have some class, common sense, and a general understanding of how the world works. George Bush and Barrack Obama were both polarizing figures as President, yet they both have all of those qualities I just mentioned. Mr Trump has none of them. Donald Trump comes off as a big business swindler, and that is not what we need right now.

800px-Ted_Cruz,_official_portrait,_113th_Congress_(cropped_2)Ted Cruz meanwhile just keeps poking at that Trump lead. Despite the results in New York, Cruz still has a shot at the nomination. He is not as much a surprise to me as Trump as far as being in this good a position, this late in the campaign. But the fact that a guy like Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, or Jeb Bush couldn’t be where Ted Cruz is now is surprising. Mr. Cruz is a very calm, and frankly Presidential figure. He has a reputation for being a bit hard to the right on Christian religious issues. But like Bernie’s crazy socialist ideas won’t sell in Congress, neither will 18th century Christian doctrine. I’m pretty sure that if Bernie wins we won’t be calling each other ‘comrade’ any more than we will be burning witches at the stake if Ted wins 😉 We have no worries from either of the second place candidates in regard to a potentially radical agenda. That won’t stop either sides efforts at fear-mongering.

Ted Cruz is a very smart guy, smarter than you need to be, to be President. He is a guy that has shown a great ability to talk to people with opposing viewpoints like few politicians I have seen in the last 20 years. That is a notable quality in this day and age of radical hate speech coming from our elected leaders. But does he have the grit and determination to topple the Trump machine. Believe me if this thing stays tight Trump will dive much deeper than he has. Can you even imagine what depths of depravity Donald would go to win?

Donald Trump has been bashing the RNC nominating process. What a moron. Here he is a guy who in all likely hood will have the most delegates at the convention. In a contested convention he could have still won, but now he has gone after the very party for whom he is seeking the nomination. Believe me when I say, if the RNC has any chance to bump him out, they will most certainly do it now that Trump has gone on the warpath against them.

Donald Trump is the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton. The DNC must be over the moon with Trump so close to the nomination. Trump still hasn’t released his tax returns. Hillary still has the whole email issue happening. By the time the conventions roll around we might just see a Ted Cruz vs. Bernie Sanders choice, as the corruption train that both the front-runners are riding may derail their campaigns.

All of that said, In the general election I think Trump beats Bernie but Hillary beats Trump. I think Ted Cruz can take either Democrat in a general election if he plays it tough enough in the final weeks leading to November. If Ted Cruz is the Republican nominee, I could see my self voting for him. He is far from ideal but of the four, he is the most “presidential”. If Bernie Sanders is running against Donald Trump I could see my self voting for the old socialist. Trump is just that repulsive. What a sad day indeed when a fiscal conservative is compelled to vote for a tax and spend liberal. If it’s Trump vs. Hillary I may have to end my life… OK, that was dark. But I seriously might have to vote for the bad hair candidate and hope he beats Hillary and then we can impeach him and let the VP take over.

What a frickin’ election. We’re doomed.

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Batman vs. Superman; Someone’s Getting Their Ass Kicked!

Ok before I dive into my “no spoilers” review of Dawn of Justice, I gotta remind you all that season two of Daredevil was released last week on Netflix and like the first season last year this new one is pretty epic! I watched all 13 in a three-day binge session and they went a little darker, yes darker and added some familiar Marvel characters to the show. They were wise to bring in the new blood slowly and the whole thing was a seamless and well executed second season. Bravo! Read my review from last year here.

v1Ok so the most anticipated superhero movie this year for me is Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Just to be clear, I went into this film with modest expectations. I left the theater with those expectations exceeded but this film doesn’t deliver the post screening buzz that Batman movies usually offer. Certainly the Christopher Nolan versions with Christian Bale as the Batman were outstanding. But this is not a Batman movie, per se. Furthermore I cannot fail to omit the fact that I am a total batman fan-boy and that may have some bearing on my opinion of the movie.

My expectation level was low because this movie was a really tall order. Warner Brothers is trying to do in two or three movies what Marvel did in eight. They are trying to build up to an epic Justice League film. Trying to do it quickly tends to be a recipe for failure. Remember Marvel spent copious sums of screen time tying in the various movies and characters so that a quality and smooth flowing Avengers film could follow. They had those awesome Agent Coulson after credits clips and other Marvel character tie ins at the close of those eight leading films. They were nothing short of very successful.

This film had only the Man of Steel predecessor to tie in. The movie does make some suggestions that the Batman has been around for quite some time in Gotham prior to the emergence of Superman. There is very little in the way of Batman origin story and none was needed for Superman as that was handled in the Man of Steel film.

The first 30 minutes of this somewhat long film is very good. We see some basic Batman origin flash backs to the death of his parents but mostly the set up sequences for the plot of the story. We see the rift between Batman and Superman develop nicely as the early segments of the movie unfold. About a third to halfway through things kind of unravel in the flow of the story. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it just loses traction. The last half of the film is a crazy action romp that seriously needs some pause points but gives us few.

One of the real nagging questions among the fan-boys of Batman was the decision to cast Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne AKA the Batman. They had similar reservations in 1989 when Tim Burton cast Michael (Mr. Mom) Keaton in the role. They were wrong in ’89 and they are wrong again in 2016. Affleck crushes it, seriously, he absolutely delivers as both Bruce Wayne and the alter-ego Batman. I think he may be the best overall Batman actor ever. Yes maybe even better than Christian Bale. WHAATTTT! Affleck is intense in this role. This movie script is nowhere near as good as the those from the movies directed by Christopher Nolan, but Ben takes what he is given and hits the long ball out of the park. Batman is a serious character. He is an intense character. Even in the campy 1960s TV show with Adam West, Batman was a serious type. Affleck captures the intensity of Batman and Bruce Wayne. You see it in his face. It may be as much a credit to the director as it is to the actor, but to whatever or whomever the credit is owed, he is Batman.

wwomanThe next fan annoyance was the casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Let there be no mistake I am very picky about Wonder Woman. She is the greatest female super hero ever and so I was also concerned. I even wrote a few stern editorials in the Evergreen Times in the old newsletter format regarding potential candidates for Wonder Woman movies that never materialized. Let me just lay to rest any and all concerns. Ms. Gadot is tall (5’10”). She has an authentically exotic look that certainly has the air of an Amazon Princess. She is a bit too skinny, but she has a very good aura of power and grace about her. As Wonder Woman she just rocks it. I like her in the role and whether or not another actress would have been a better choice, it doesn’t really matter because she did great. She isn’t in the movie much but when she is, she dominates the screen. Everything around her is a blur, you just focus on her. They did a great job with the camera work and direction on the scenes where Wonder Woman is fighting. It just felt epic when she was on screen. She commands attention and she gets it.

Henry Cavill as Superman presents the same problem we had with Henry Cavill as Super Man in Man of Steel. They wrote him too dark and nobody seems to like the “bad boy” version of Superman. That said, Henry Cavill should not take the heat for lousy character writing. But none-the-less, he does a piss poor job as Clark Kent in both movies. He just is not believable as Clark Kent at all. He’s not aloof or in anyway parallel to the Clark Kent in the comics or past films. Weak sauce.

Now let’s talk about Alfred Pennyworth, shall we? He has been portrayed by a series of fine British actors. Alan Napier, in 1966. Michael Gough played him in the Tim Burton directed Batman films, Michael Caine in the Chris Nolan films, Sean Pertwee has handled the character in the TV series Gotham. Jeremy Irons takes the role in this latest movie. I think I like Michael Caine the best. He is the best Alfred Pennyworth ever! Jeremy Irons however does an exceptional job in this film playing an Alfred clearly written to be in between the edgy and badass butler from Gotham than the more mild-mannered versions we have seen in the past. Jeremy Irons is a fine actor and does a good job. This Alfred is fine I suppose, but something was lacking that I can’t quite pinpoint.

Amy Adams is Superman’s best girl, Lois Lane. As much as I like Amy Adams… and I do like her 🙂 Lois falls flat in this movie. Lois lane was very well-played in the original Christopher Reeves films. Margot Kidder nailed the tough and stubborn Lois character. But again that character was well written, this Lois is not.

Lex Luthor was well acted by Jesse Eisenberg but yet again, the character was terribly written. If you want to see a textbook example of Lex Luthor, then look no further than Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns. Even the campy 1978 Superman with Lex Luthor played by Gene Hackman was much better than the raging lunatic written for Jesse Eisenberg. Lex is not a bad guy that lights the world on fire just to watch it burn. Lex Luthor has a plan, and his plan is not to destroy the world but to live like a king within it, often at other’s expense. He is clever and quite Machiavellian in nature, but also he is someone who can mingle with societies elite. This Luthor was written more like a nutjob, ala Joker or Riddler. WRONG!

You can see the theme I am building here. This was a good movie that could have been great if only it was better written. Oh well chalk that up as another near miss. But the movie’s sub-title is Dawn of Justice and we can see the build up to the Justice League. There is one point where Bruce Wayne accesses a file from Luthor Corp. and finds information on “meta humans”. We get a glimpse of what is to come in future movies and the ultimate DC clash of the Titans, a Justice League movie.

batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-ben-affleckSo this flick was good but not great. Watching Ben Affleck kick ass and take names as the Batman, being the billionaire Bruce Wayne, and doing it like an effing boss, makes this motion picture worth every penny of your time and admission price. I am not kidding, Affleck just kills it here!

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Breaking the 4th Wall while Making a Great Film

deadpool_ver10No spoilers here, just a little chat about a very BIG movie. This film is rated “R” and I might just spice up this review to match the rating… just a little.

20th Century Fox is not the first movie house to roll out a comic book themed film with an “R” rating but this is the very best of that ‘R’ bunch. In fact this film is so brilliantly well done, it is sure to land near the top of the superhero movie list.

So is the R rating justified? Oh, hell yes it is. This is not a film for children, frankly not even young teens. It is hard, it is edgy, it is filled with bloody violence, adult sexuality, and raunchy humor. But unlike many films that carry the “Restricted” rating this one avoids that trap that so many directors fall into; the gratuitous use of bad language and raunchy behavior that all too often corrupts a good picture. It’s like the director is thinking, “well, we got the ‘R’ let’s load up on T&A and screw any serious plot development or character building”. That is simply not the case here. The director uses the full extent of that R rating to show us the inner workings of the world of our character but keeps it well within the proper context. Just enough violence to show us, hey this is a violent guy in a violent world; and just enough skin to remind us, hey our anti-hero likes the ladies and the ladies like him. In the end this is a late inning home run with a couple on base. Yes, it is that good.

The film opens with an unorthodox roll of credits poking fun at the stars and marquee production personnel. It really seems that 20th Century Fox decided to listen to Stan the Man on this, because they nailed it… with authority. The movie is stuffed full of unadulterated, Easter eggs. You will have to see this thing like 10 times to catch all those juicy, little hidden nuggets.

So you know you want to ask… come on… I know what your thinking… Ryan Reynolds? AKA the Green Lantern. Green Lantern was not as bad as the reviews, but it was a tad on the stinky side; stinky in a cute wet-dog sort of way more than a steamy pile of excrement. But it was unpleasantly aromatic none-the-less. Mr. R pretty much lays to rest any and all concerns about his ability to drill to the heart of character and bring that bacon home; all sizzlin’ and shit. My God, Reynolds simply is: Deadpool.

For those that have followed this dark anti-hero on the pages of comic books in the Marvel-verse, you know he likes to break the fourth wall. At one point in the movie he will break the fourth wall while telling you he is breaking the fourth wall. These violations of space and time between audience and fiction are well done, frankly as well done as you will ever see. Did I mention that Ryan Reynolds nails the shit out of this role? Yeah, I think I did actually. OK just in case you weren’t paying attention, Ryan Reynolds nailed this fucker down. Hey it’s rated “R” if you are under 17 do not read this review without parental supervision 😉

So this is Ryan Reynolds best film. I know, that’s not really saying much. But this performance just might do for Reynolds what Tony Stark did for Robert Downy Jr. Yes, already, it’s that good. Half my readers just opened another window to load Fandango and get their tickets.

Morena-Baccarin-Sexy-photo-1How about our leading lady? Vanessa. As a character she is not that well-developed. Deadpool’s babe is someone we comic book fans already know. Yes it is Morena Baccarin, the one and same that has the heart of James Gordon in Gotham. But Vanessa shows us a much more saucy side of this stunning actress. She was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1979 and I’ll say right now, she could be the ‘Girl from Ipanema’. Look it up young-lings.

“She is tall and tan and young and lovely… The girl from Ipanema goes walking and when she passes, each one she passes goes ahhhh… When she walks, she’s like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gentle that when she passes, each one she passes goes, ahhhh

She’s kind of like that 🙂

So the movie is really good, but far from perfect. Our villain is portrayed by UK actor, Ed Skrein. Well there’s a novel idea, let’s make the bad guy British, they’ll never see that coming. Seriously? It’s fucking cliché already. That said the actor does an OK job I suppose, but as far as villains go this one definitely has a limp dick. As good as Reynolds and excellent Deadpool dialog is, the weak villain leaves a bit of a stain in the rug.

The villain’s right hand man… er rather woman is actually pretty cool. And if you don’t like Weasel, played by T.J. Miller, you are missing some cerebral software. This movie kept the cast on the skinny side and I think it really helps keep us focused on Deadpool. This was Ryan’s movie to make or ruin and no doubt, he and the writers deliver the goods.

20th Century Fox owns the rights to the whole X-Men cast and they bring us a couple of crossover characters in this movie. If you have seen the trailers, and I know you have, you already figured out that Colossus will make an appearance. Our man, Stan Lee gets a cameo, something the idiots at Fox omitted in the mediocre Fan 4 movie last summer.

Another character you will run into in this film is “Blind Al” played by actress, Leslie Uggams. Look this lovely lady up. She was born way back in nineteen hundred and forty-three and what a doll she was as a young lady. She still looks fantastic, she is in her 70s after all. Internet Movie Database, I love that site 😀

This film is all Ryan Reynolds. The guy is single-handedly the badass tough guy, blade wielding gun slinger, and comic relief all in one. The movie is dark and bloody yet never takes itself too serious. Almost like Kick Ass, only not as cheesy.

Stay for the credits, the closing credits are quite funny in themselves but there will be two small after credits scenes with Ryan Reynolds that you won’t want to miss. Got those tix ordered yet? Seriously? If not, WTF is wrong you? Go see it, now. Go ahead and check out the all time best super hero movie list by clicking on the tab above.

 

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