Rogue One, A Fresh Take on Star Wars

I saw this movie last fall and for some strange reason, never wrote a review. Hmm, weird. Now the movie is out on BluRay and DVD and I get to watch it again. And so I did and here is the scoop. Some soft spoilers are ahead.

This story tells the tale of the Rogue One squadron that got the plans for the Death Star that were used to find the weakness in the ultimate weapon of mass destruction at the command of the evil Emperor. Buahahaha! At the conclusion of the original movie in 1977 these plans showed a flaw in the design that would allow a single well placed shot to cause a cascade reaction that would and in fact did destroy the whole station. That is a classic ‘Achilles Heel’ right there.

In the original ‘Star Wars, A New Hope’ we never really knew exactly how these plans conveniently landed in the hands of the rebellion. Rogue One shows us that it wasn’t “convenient” at all. Unlike the other Star Wars movies that focused largely on the primary characters and their ability to wield the mighty force, and of course Han Solo and Chewbacca who are just regular badasses, this new movie has very little “force”. For those expecting a whole lot of light saber duals, force pushing baddies away, and death grip force chokes from the dark side; you might be a little disappointed. You will get a tickle of that but this film is more about the rebels and not so much the Emperor or Darth Vader. The rest of us get to watch a fabulous, fresh new take on a tired old franchise.

Rouge One is a surprisingly good movie. One need not be a Star Wars fan to understand the plot nor follow the action and dialog. We will see some cheesy CGI used in a few select scenes, to make current aging actors look 40 years younger, yes my friends, the original Star Wars turns 40 this year! Holy Adult Diapers, Batman, how the hell did that happen? Well it did, so deal with it ūüėČ

Rouge One takes place just before the original opening sequence of Star Wars and the movie ends literally moments before the beginning of the original film. This is a nice tie in to the original trilogy without a lot of pomp and circumstance but rather a gritty tale of guts and determination. This film shows the ugly side of the rebellion in the sense that we see that the good guys sometimes have to do bad stuff for the cause.

I hope Disney decides to expand on this idea of the sub stories or Star Wars rather than try to do a reboot in the future after completeling Episode 8 this year and 9 presumably in 2 years. There are a great many of these stories that can be told. How about the story of Lando and how he acquired the cloud city, how he lost the Falcon to Han Solo “fair and square”. We could go back to the beginning of Chewbacca and Han Solo’s relationship. We could do a Boba Fett story, or even the story between Episode V and VI where Luke continues his training. He did jump from junior Padawan to pretty badass Jedi between those films. So many¬†possibilities and no need to reboot the franchise.

Rogue One delivers the goods, it’s not the best Star Wars movie ever made, but it is a fresh new look at a well developed franchise. Many didn’t like the Shakespearian end, I however did. Star Wars movies are well-known for their consistent plots that feature easy to identify good guys, obvious villains and usually a princess needs to be saved somewhere… yada yada yada. It’s like the plot of nearly every Disney animated movie ever made. Star Wars movies always have that classic ending where everyone lives happy ever after… at least until the next Death Star arrives.

But here comes Disney with Rogue One and there is no princess, no dashing leading man off to save her, no young learner finding his place at just the right time. None of that weak sauce that we have seen so many times we can quote the dialog in a movie we haven’t seen yet. Rouge One did not follow the mold, it is a ‘rogue’ Star Wars movie. Yes, I did just pun the living crap out of the title of movie. This movie had somewhat weak leads but the side characters were outstanding. The reprogrammed droid K-2SO is the Droid we’ve been looking for. He delivers the targeted and well timed humor to break up the darker and more action packed sequences. The two Jedi Temple guardians are outstanding as well.

One issue I had and I’m others did too; this movie bounces around from planet to planet quite often early in the film. That made the whole experience a little jolting initially and really nothing settles in until the end portion of the film that takes place in some Caribbean resort. They stuck around that locale for a while, now didn’t they ūüėČ You may remember I was hard on Force Awakens because I felt like the regurgitated old plot lines, and Rogue One regurgitated a fair amount of dialog. “Red One beginning our attack run… watch those towers and look out for fighters”. Yes this was almost verbatim from a New Hope. That’s OK I suppose, Rogue One is worth a look and I hope Disney feels compelled to take a few risks on future movies like they did on this one.

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Disturbingly Dark, Logan is Solid Cinema

Holy Cow! It’s been awhile. The last article I published on this blog was back in 2016. Well, I will say I have published dozens of articles on my other 11 blogs, so I have been busy ūüôā

I saw Logan today with my son, Nolan. Logan is not your typical Marvel character film. Logan of course refers to the one and only Wolverine, but this is no X-Men film. This film takes place roughly a dozen years from now and the world is a very disturbed and dark place indeed. I will not give any dangerous reveals to spoil your experience if you have yet to see the movie, so worry not. I will however say that this film departs from the Marvel model completely.

Yes, before you all head down to the comment section, I know that Wolverine is a character whose movie rights belong to 20th Century Fox. But Fox has made several X-Men and Fantastic Four themed films that at least tried to follow Marvel’s established comic book story lines. This movie is not a superhero movie, nor a comic book movie other than the fact that it features several Marvel characters. It is a departure from the status quo of these films, and a departure from the canned experience is not a bad thing.

This movie is very dark, bloody, and foul-mouthed. Not in a bad way, but in a way that children under the age of 14 are better suited without it. If you have seen the trailers you know there is a little girl, mutant with a certain set of skills that are eerily familiar. The story is that no mutants have been born in the last 15-20 years. We learn about why this is and how this little girl mutant came to be as the movie’s plot develops.

This movie doesn’t give us much in the way of comic relief, but it desperately needs some. It is the type of movie that makes you hope and pray the writers are wrong about the future. When I saw¬†Logan’s 2024 Chrysler, I looked at Nolan and said, “If this is the future, I want to go back” ūüėČ Damn that was an ugly car.

This film had a bit of the Terminator feel to it. The suspense was not intense like Terminator, but the darkness, and the persistence of the enemy and the feeling of being on the run permeated the film from beginning to end. This movie is not going to lift your spirits, not even a little.

The plot is a bit¬†thin but not so much that it bores you. The action sequences are intense but there are not many of them. The movie is heavy on drama, and unlike Guardians which didn’t take itself seriously at all, this film takes itself a little too serious perhaps.

It shows us an aged and feeble-minded version of the once great Charles Xavier. We see a Logan that has fallen into despair which is revealed immediately in the opening sequences.¬†Now that I mention it, the actual opening sequence to the movie has nothing to do with the movie at all and is in fact the funniest sequence in the film. Ryan Reynolds is involved and I’ll leave it at that.

In the end we are beaten down mentally as an audience and not necessarily in a bad way, but in a deep emotional way. This is a dark movie and the actors and director do a great job of depressing us. With only a few exceptions, every scene in the film is of a place you don’t want to be, a shit hole of sorts. There is a scene in Oklahoma City near a gambling casino that is somewhat cheery, but seriously, casinos are half exciting and half depressing, when you really think about it. And then there is the charming farmhouse that abuts the giant evil mass farming plant. And you get the feeling right away that whole thing will end up in a shit storm.

This movie is undeniably the darkest and most depressing film based on Marvel Characters I have ever seen. If Frank Castle had appeared in the film he might have cheered things up. That on the table, it is still a good film. This film is able to stand on the story and is not driven by the action sequences. Those action sequences are exciting and they are well done, but they don’t drive the story and they are not used as a crutch to prop up a bad script. The script is no masterpiece, but it works well enough. There is subtle and not so subtle underlying themes about aging, regrets, depression, greed, and so many of societies darkest fears. These are deep issues, and the film exposes us to all of them. Perhaps the director should have focused on just a couple of them.

This movie carries the R rating and it uses every bit of it. More so than Deadpool, I’d say. This movie however is no Deadpool. Overall, I felt like the film was a little light on production values. The budget for the film was $97 million which isn’t exactly a B flick, Take¬†Deadpool for example, that only had a budget of $58 million, and look what they did with it!

The movie has a certain sense¬†of finality, in that is takes place in the future and so it is not leading us into the next film like most Marvel themed movies do. It leads us to the potential for new characters and completely new story lines for some future movie series starting in 2025 or something like that. Who knows where it will take us, but it did drop us off at the ‘Prozac Tavern’ for a bit while we wait. Hey Bartender, make mine a double.

I still need to catch Lego Batman before it leaves the theaters. I bought Doctor Strange on Bluray, Tuesday, that movie was just as good,¬†the second time around. Take a peek at the updated movie list.¬†Logan isn’t busting any records but, it is on the left side of the chart, so that’s good.

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Happy New Year!

2016 is in the books. After a contentious presidential election, crazy after election shenanigans, and an overload of general purpose meanness, good riddance! But 2016 was not a total loss. For those of us engaged in the sport of movie going, Marvel, DC, Star Trek, Star Wars what a fabulous year it was indeed.

The loss of Carrie Fisher at such a young age was truly saddening so much so that her legendary mother, Debbie Reynolds followed her the very next day.

Looking towards 2017 let’s keep the optimism up shall we? We’ll have Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Guardians 2, Star Wars and much more. We shall have an interesting political year regardless of one’s personal political leanings as President Elect Trump, for better or worse, will be unorthodox and possibly even entertaining.

Here’s spit in your eye 2016, thanks for the memories, and here’s to a wonderful 2017. It would be hard to be any worse than ’16, but that is NOT a challenge, let’s just go for the good stuff in the coming new year.

Tonight, here in the ‘Couv’ we have snow showers in the forecast. If this forecast materializes it will be my¬†5th white New Year since I started keeping track of such things in 2002. May all the revelers around the world stay safe and sane whilst we ring in the New Year!

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There is Something Strange Going On…

imagesNolan and I went to see Doctor Strange for an opening day matinée on Friday. Marvel Entertainment continues to churn out good material from the vast library of characters still under their control.

Doctor Strange is a character well suited to help merge the physical universe of the Avengers with the more mystical/other worldly universe of Guardians and Thor. This is all building up to the huge crescendo that will be the Infinity War movie slated for some time in 2018.

Doctor Stephen Strange is portrayed by British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch does an admirable job playing the cocky and arrogant doctor and ultimately Doctor Strange. This movie was well done but fairly predictable. The plot was a little thin but well executed. The movie stays on track and does a good job establishing the title character.

As we learn early in development of the story, every one of the “sorcerers” will have a “relic” attach themselves to them. The relic that eventually binds to Strange is shown in a foreshadowing scene mid-movie. And it just fits the personality of the Strange and frankly Cumberbatch pulls it off well. He looks like he was destined for it.

I liked the world bending effects used in the many battle sequences and the movie is filled with that excellent dialog that Marvel has consistently provided across more than a dozen feature films. It finds it self comfortable just inside the top 20 on the all time list.

Be sure to stay all the way to the end of the credits… all the way! There is an early after credit scene that is funny and foretelling right after the main set of credits, then at the very end, after we know the names of all the “grips” and “gaffers” we get another very important after credit scene! So stay put and wait till the bitter end before leaving that theater. I know you sucked down that 40 oz soda, but hold it anyway ūüėČ

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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 ūüôā

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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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