I took my sweet time getting to the theatre on this one, especially after each spoiler-free headline I caught was incredibly divisive – I mean, to think that the prequels could be considered canon over Last Jedi? It’s like everyone’s taking crazy pills. In lieu of the screaming, I thought I would talk out the good and bad of the latest in the franchise. If you don’t want spoilers, I’ll just tell you that I liked it – other than that, read no further.
The Thing That Made Me Literally Say “What the f*ck?” Out Loud
Yes, I am talking about Leia revealing her Force powers. I don’t believe that there was any doubt that she had some sort of Force ability (considering her bloodline) but some sort of hint within the film series would have been nice. Sure she didn’t have any Jedi training, but we could have seen her meditate or something like that.
Otherwise, having her Superman to safety so dramatically was utterly ridiculous. And personally, I think it would have been more appropriate if she had died then and there – hear me out:
Much of Kylo Ren’s character development is hindering on his internal conflict (okay, so he’s the embodiment of internal conflict) – I personally loved that moment of hesitation which lead to someone shooting Leia before him. If she had died, the audience would know that he would have had to live with the fact that he did not kill her in the end, furthering his self-doubt.
Now that I think about it, Kylo probably doesn’t know that she survived, so better yet, he still knows that he hesitated. There will always be doubt, but more on him later.
Finn’s Storyline / The Rebels
For the most part, Finn’s plot felt like busywork. Arguably the disastrous chain of events could be blamed on Laura Dern’s character, Admiral Holdo. Though I do believe that she was mostly a foil to Poe Dameron, to prove that there is benefit to strategy over impulse, it would have been most beneficial for her to maybe, I don’t know, explain this plan to him? Maybe it was just hubris on her part, like she had something to prove?
However, because the true Rebels made their own plans, we got to see a different side of the war, which I appreciated. Being that the main plot is so caught up in light v. dark, it was nice to see neutral parties, as well as how other parts/people of the galaxy is affected – and thanks to Finn and Rose, a new generation of rebels are inspired.
Unfortunately, a lot of this is lost in an overdrawn chase sequence. Additionally I dug Rose as a character, but the romance angle near the end seemed like too much too fast (not a fan).
The Death of Luke
Many folks took umbrage to how Luke met his end. After all, this was the greatest Jedi in the galaxy, and he Force-projected himself to death. Thematically, I thought this worked. The showdown with Kylo was incredibly satisfying, and Kylo knows that he could not best Luke in the end. Furthermore, Kylo has no idea that Luke actually died, so he lives on in legend.
I actually enjoyed everything with Luke – the angst, the bitterness, and ultimately the redemption. Many also hated the fact that he tried to kill young Ben Solo – but it was a subconscious fleeing doubt and nothing more – a misunderstanding that he had to own up to. I also almost cried with happiness when puppet Yoda came back to teach Luke a final lesson. So with his demise, I have to agree with Rey: he was finally at peace, and knew that everything was going to be alright.
I have mixed feelings about him. As a character, it’s great to have such a conflicted villain. On the other hand, his denial and outbursts are just childish and annoying. I want to see him use his failure to empower his rage – to own his mistakes to do better, to indeed let the rage flow through him – some confidence, goddammit. What do we have instead? Doubt and brooding. Lots of brooding.
Sure, he’s following Vader in letting his fear turn to anger, but if I recall, we didn’t really like Vader’s transition that much – it was better when we just knew him as a mysteriously powerful, unstoppable force. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tragic villain, but they have to be a rare combination of well-written and well performed to gain a sympathetic audience.
Obvious marketing ploy is obvious. However, the porgs weren’t nearly as annoying as I expected them to be, and their origin is actually quite charming. The crystal foxes didn’t really bother me either – I took more offense at a salt-coated planet, but that’s just me.
Final Thoughts: Legends Among Us
I think there’s something wonderful about the common theme of inspiring legends as well as belief. I really like that no matter what, Kylo will always be wrong: even after utter destruction, the stories will always endure, and so will hope. Even though the film ends on the note of “out-with-the-old,” the legends will remain at the core.
Roughly a year ago, Kevin Smith released Tusk into the world. Though it was not received kindly, behind the scenes of the grotesque adventure was an entirely different scenario – a time of family bonding and friendship, as it were. After seeing his daughter and her best friend behind the clerk’s counter, Smith was inspired to weave a new story just for them.
And what a tale it is.
Yoga Hosers stars Harley Smith and Lily-Rose Depp as Colleen McKenzie and Colleen Collette, respectively. These two sophomores love to hang out, jam, and practice yoga. The only thing spoiling their precious youth is their part-time job at the local convenience store Eh-to-Zed.
One fateful day, everything changes for the Colleen Coalition: they are unexpectedly invited to a Year 12 Party! OMG! 😂
Frankly the first half-hour of the movie is pedantic teen nonsense with some Smodisms tossed in – but when Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp reprising the role) steps in, things get really weird, and so much more fun. What begins as a teen romp snowballs (heheh) into a cascade of B-movie mayhem, with bratwurst Natzis. Bratzis.
This film was a family affair – chocked full of cameos (including both the girls’ families), references and easter-eggs. It’s obvious everyone was having fun on this one. Needless to say I am still looking forward to the final chapter of the True North Trilogy, Moose Jaws (which is like Jaws, but with a moose).
Though the intentions were good, this portrayal of teenage girls was painfully pandering, to the point of being embarrassingly condescending. Also are undergrads trying to get into senior parties still a thing? (Was it ever a thing?)
Considering this was aimed towards modern teen girls, but features 80’s/90’s references, it’s hard to figure out who this movie’s really aimed at.
The “What the f*ck?”
Is it weird that I thought the bratzis were strangely adorable? …Did you know that is the same voice he uses to speak to his dogs? (Coincidently, Smith’s dachshund, Shecky, also makes a cameo.)
In all, this movie’s pretty fun. Dumb, but fun.
Thirteen years ago, a generation was taught when things get tough, just keep swimming. Now we learn of the origin of these sage words – yes, the truth is finally revealed about our favorite forgetful fish. Turns out she just kept swimming.
Dory’s search for her family lands her (joined by Marlin and Nemo) at California’s Marine Life Institute, home of a bunch of new merchandisable characters, namely a grumpy Pacific octopus (sorry, “septopus”) named Hank (voiced by Ed O’Neil). With the help of new and old friends, Dory finally finds the answers she’s always been looking for – at least, when she remembers.
Amidst the overbearing sentimentality is genuine fun and sweetness – though it’s hard not to see that Finding Dory and Toy Story 2 are pretty much the same movie. In fact, every Pixar film is just the hero’s journey, isn’t it? Well, whatever works, I suppose – it’s not like it’s a bad thing…it just gets a little underwhelming.
Despite what could be considered a hindrance, I think the mentioned sweetness pulls through on this one. I mean, sure I also mentioned it’s over-sentimental, but this quality is presented in a manner that is neither annoying nor pandering. It’s a lovely tale about family, friends, forgiveness, and of course, disability advocacy.
On that last note, I discovered that some audiences took umbrage with the treatment of some certain characters – namely a sea lion named Gerald.
I guess the thought is that though some of the characters were teased for their disabilities, they ultimately proved a greater point – namely Becky the loon – Gerald was a simpleton who was no more than the butt of some jokes. (And surprise surprise people were offended.◔_◔ I only learned about this when I was trying to find a picture of him.)
Personally, he unnerves me. And ultimately, my opinion is as follows: we don’t know Gerald. He could be a vicious baby killer or the sweetest sea critter since those cuddly otters. We also don’t know his relationship with Fluke and Rudder (the other sea lions). Heck, we hardly even know Fluke and Rudder. So what I guess I’m saying is please just calm the frack down.
In summation, Finding Dory is as charming and sentimental as one would expect, so if you’re a fan of Nemo you’ll probably really dig this as well – just be sure to stay after for some extra closure. Personally, I found the preceding short, Piper, to be much more charming – after all, less is more.
Yes, finally, despite the drama and scandal, Bryan Singer, the director of the only two good X-Men films has returned! Finally, thanks to the power of time paradoxes, we can quite literally forget all about The Last Stand. Though, unfortunately, it is cannon as far as some things are concerned – but we’ll get to that later.
This time the team is in the year 2023, where mutants are hunted down and forced into internment camps, as are the humans who aid them. Now it is up to the remaining X-Men to travel back in time to prevent these atrocities from ever happening, that is, if their future selves can survive in the meantime. Disclaimer: I have never read the comics pertaining to any of these film – just a head’s up.
Considering how this franchise has been going, it’s definitely safe to say that Days of Future Past is a step in the right direction (following First Class, of course). Future Past is chocked full of characters and well-paced action sequences that we’ve all come to know and love, as well social commentary on injustice and equality.
And as always, there are a few new cast-members to join the crew – my vote goes towards Peter Maximoff aka Quicksilver (Evan Peters). Despite the cheesy commercials, I think Quicksilver’s scenes are probably the coolest sequences of this film – definitely close to being on par with Nightcrawler’s X2 opener.
My main issue with this film is the villain, Boliver Trask (hooray Peter Dinklage!). I understand that anti-mutant politicians/corporations are not that unusual as far as villains go, but usually there’s some sort of deeper motive behind our villains. For instance, take William Stryker of X2: he had a personal vendetta against mutants after his mutant son caused his mother to end her life. Trask is just an arrogant asshole. I get that he’s concerned about the extinction of the human race, but I felt that his obsession came out of nowhere.
Speaking of “out of nowhere,” how did Charles survive after his obliteration in The Last Stand? He was just some sort of channeled consciousness in the stinger at the end, and then fully materialized in the stinger after The Wolverine – how does that work? It’s not like he returned to his body because if memory serves, it was dissipated. I think I’d rather see the movie where Charles’ consciousness enters a comatose patient and then his physical appearance changes over time. Or surgery. Something. Anything. I guess it really doesn’t matter now, does it?
Days of Future Past is a solid action film. Amidst the booms and pows come times of existential quandary and reflection. The bit between the two Charles’ is probably one of the best pep talks I’ve seen in a while. Now, if we could only flesh out the baddies a bit more, we might have had another X2 on our hands. Oh well, there’s still Apocalypse to look forward to.
Final Grade: B+
Yeh know, I really wish Darren Aronofsky directed this one as originally planned – R-rating and everything. I mean, can you imagine how warped this would’ve gotten? Or how poignant for that matter? Too bad, didn’t happen.
In this sixth installment of the X-Men franchise, Logan is faced with his actions from The Last Stand, i.e. haunted by visions of Jean Grey in negligee – hey, that rhymed – as well as flashbacks to his war days, mainly witnessing the bombing of Nagasaki. Coincidentally, he is called back to Japan when he learns that the officer he saved back in the day is dying and wants to say farewell. Bait-and-switch! The dying man, Yashida, is offering a chance for Logan to give up his cursed life of immortality if he helps him become immortal. Logan declines this offer, and then the plot thickens with the kidnapping of Yashida’s granddaughter and yakuza and ninjas and stuff. Oh, and this crazy Viper chick comes in and weakens Logan’s healing factor. Significantly.
This movie could have been awesome, considering that the idea of Wolverine (an anarchic anachronism of sorts) entering a land of honor and tradition has many-an-opportunity for character arcs and development. I didn’t even read the comic and I could figure this stuff out. Instead, we’re given preposterous fights on bullet trains, ostentatious ninjas, lots of rain and samurai romanticism. Not to say that there isn’t some development, but it takes a long time to get to what little there is – I’d be distracted too if all sorts of loosely explained things were flying at me.
Speaking of which, I’ve got a bone to pick with the Viper/Yashida plot: how exactly is Logan’s healing factor extracted from his skeleton? Also, why not kidnap him when Viper had him all doped up to stick the bug in his body? How did those little bugs work – slow, continuous toxin release? I personally hate long villainous dialogue, but if you’re going to suspend my disbelief at least give me some sci-fi mumbo-jumbo to go on. Also, why did the Viper lady take her skin off? The consistency of her abilities kind of went over my head a little. …And are side-flips really the best method for stealthy ninja transport?
I have to admit, other than the cinematography, the best part of the whole feature was Hugh Jackman’s performance. You can tell he was giving it his all in this one: prime physical condition, tortured demeanor – this is a point in Logan’s life when he is worn and weathered and wants to wander off alone like a dying dog, and he makes you believe it. It’s just a shame everything else kind of fell apart around him.
Lackluster but not totally awful, it was still better than Origins.
Final Grade: B-
(Seriously, Jackman’s performance is this movie’s saving grace – oh, and the stinger’s pretty cool. I’m stoked for Days of Future Past.)
I realize that I never actually released a review V/H/S, perhaps because I saw it a bit too late. I’ll be honest, I liked it. I thought it was a cool idea for a new genre of found-footage films. And I really dig short stories. This isn’t to say that V/H/S was perfect (seriously, how does a Skype conversation end up on a tape?), but it was most certainly enjoyable and worth seeing. I think these films have an appeal similar to that of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. Nostalgia a little there? Anyway, when I found out that a sequel was in the works, I was pretty excited.
All I have to say is, I hope you like zombies. Much like its predecessor, we’re dealing with about five stories. Three of the five, including the overarching narrative, feature their own version of the undead. Whoop-di-doo, I’ve never seen a zombie before. Keep in mind, I have nothing against zombies, but they’re such a typical go-to these days. When dealing with short stories, be a little creative, you know? It’s okay to get a little weird.
In fact the weirdest this movie goes is with the segment Safe Haven, in which we observe the investigation of an Indonesian cult. Solid setup I admit, but when shit hits the fan, man does it fly. We go from John Carpenter to Sam Raimi in 0-to-60 – all due respect to both directors, but you know what I mean. Pre-ball-dropping, I think it’s fair to say I enjoyed Safe Haven and Slumber Party Alien Abduction the most due to story and execution. Though I do give kudos to A Ride in the Park for a neat idea.
Other than that, zombie scares. And whatever rehashed spook this is –
All things considered, this is seriously a lackluster sequel. It’s far more goofy than creepy, and it substitutes any actual scares for brief moments of intensity. The best I can come up with for this is “it’s okay.”
Final Grade: C+
Alright folks, Kirk and his crew is back for another adventure – this time with baddie Benedict Cumberbatch as a new adversary. Okay, as it turns out, he’s not that “new.” I’m not going to spoil anything, so this review will be a bit shorter than it really should be – I’ll say right off the back that it’s worth seeing.
Minus a substantial amount of lens flares, this installment’s very much like the first: we have terrific performances by an incredible cast, combined with nods to the original series. Only this time, there are a lot more explosions to interrupt any moments of interesting dialogue.
Without giving too much away, I would like to note and perhaps forewarn audiences that again, like the first, we’re dealing with alternative timelines here. This in mind, the climax, though well-acted, distracts those who understand the reference. Which is to say, it’s really good, but played off much goofier than it was probably intended to be.
On the upside, we do get more of the side characters, namely Scottie and McCoy. That being said, a the character troupe as a whole felt a lot more dynamic, almost fraternal in a sense. This heightened the risk of Kirk’s actions splendidly.
Star Trek Into Darkness presents a well-rounded story sure to keep anyone on the edge of your seat. It’s classic sci-fi brought to the now. But I’m afraid with this amount of bangs, glitz and CGI, JJ might be closely breaching Michael Bay territory.
Final Grade: A-
I’m just going to say it: there is no better way to kick off the summer movie season than checking out Iron Man 3. Forget everything that the second one did to you – 3 takes everything back to where it should be and then gives you some more. And also forget everything about Tony Stark being all dark and foreboding – really considering the whole wormhole thing in Avengers, I don’t doubt he’d have a little of the PTSD, but I’ll get to that later. Before I gush, I’ll warn some people off with a minor spoiler alert. Got it? Okay, let’s have fun.
Okay, so basically Avengers happens and now Tony’s a little screwed in the head – so now he hobbies away making prototype upon prototype of Iron Man suits. Meanwhile, a terrorist by the name of Mandarin has been setting off strings of explosions around the US, but lack of forensic evidence has authorities scratching their heads. When Happy, Tony’s lead security, gets caught in the crossfire, it’s go-time. Oh, and there’s friction with Pepper because Tony’s been a little on the kooky side, with the suits and the insomnia and all that angsty jazz. But like I said, can you blame the guy?
As if it wasn’t all about Tony before, this time it seems as if his recklessness finally caught up to him (don’t worry, he’s still oh so delightfully reckless). I’m not sure if he really needed three movies to do this, or if I can blame him. I mean, he does have a lot of baggage, so I think this psych-profile business was a great way to meld the Iron Man franchise with Avengers.
On the upside, there’s plenty of humor – casual and otherwise – to offset the heaviness and remind viewers that this is indeed a comic book movie. Also with director Shane Black behind this (who you might recognize for this gem), you know you’re in for an action/comedy treat.
The thing is though, I think I found a lot of things funnier than I should have. I was really digging the intensity of Mandarin’s videos…until he said “Amurica.” He had a presence, but he wasn’t at all intimidating – like when he threatened a man, it just seemed like deadpan humor. As silly as it was, Ben Kingsley’s performance is nothing less than enjoyable.
Then this happened. I lost it a little. This is really more of an example of the comic-book aesthetic of the film, but you would think that little perk would come into play later. Speaking of which, what was going on with the credits? Why did I just watch a montage of franchise highlights? Regardless, whatever you do, stay til the end. It’s worth it.
So is this really the end? I mean, things seem pretty definitive, but since there’s another Avengers on the way, who’s to say about Iron Man? I hope they don’t ruin a good thing. Seriously, great job guys.
Final Grade: A-
Ah yes! I finally got some time to go out and see something new! At first glimpse of Oz I’ll admit I was fascinated, but then when I witnessed Zach Braff’s voice coming out of an animated monkey, I sighed as heavy sigh of lost dreams – but really how did this fantasy epic fare? Not that great. Sorry, but I can’t properly dissect this one without a few spoilers.
We open up with Ye Olde Time Kansas, circa 1905 – even though I really don’t think we needed that date there, but whatever. Also, a simple black and white filter does not due the concept justice – why not film with slightly lower quality equipment? Why can’t you help us believe this is older without telling us? Anyway, I’m nit-picking.
We meet Oscar, or “Oz,” your womanizing charlatan of a circus performer, on the run from a pissed-off muscle-man. In his magic indestructible hot air balloon he is whisked off into the wonderful world of Oz, where his arrival had been foretold by the former king. There he meets three magical witch sisters, Theadora (Rachel Weisz, who’s obviously the bad one), Evanora (Mila Kunis, neutral until scorned by Oz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams – gee, now what’s her alignment again?)
Naturally Oz’s adventures follow what has now become the traditional Oz norm – healing a girl he couldn’t help in Kansas, realizing the importance of friends, all that good stuff. So with this magic and whimsy we’re forgetting one important thing: Oz is a terrible human being. Which is funny, because given the ending of the original we forget that Toto was totally supposed to get put down, either that or it’s assumed that Elmira Gulch died in the twister – so we forget all the bad things if we’re given one really good thing.
Sure sure, in the end he does right by defending the good people of Oz against the wickeds, but he also lied to them, using his circus tricks. And according to Glinda, that’s totally okay, as long as they have hope and something to believe in. What kind of message are they trying to teach us here? It’s okay to lie to people as long as your intentions are good? There was so much room for character development, but I really can’t help to believe that Oz was still in it for the glory, not the good – and I guess that does come full circle with the original film, being that Dorothy calls him out on being a jerk, but there’s so much room for improvement. (Also, where were the ruby slippers? If you’re going to have tie-ins and references but not the slippers, why bother?)
Oz wasn’t that bad, though – aesthetically this film was fairly impressive, though I think a mix of some actual critters would have been appreciated, but perhaps that’s just me. I know it’s supposed to be a dream world of magic, but if it only looked organic, then it would have been spot on. Which reminds me, let’s talk about the makeup.
I guess it’s an unspoken rule that in a green-screen world there is little room for makeup application, which is to say there wasn’t much in this movie – not that it really needed it, but I think they should of focused more where it counted. Specifically, I’m talking about our wicked witch, Theadora.
You see those eyebrows? They never move. In fact, the only thing that moves on her face freely is her mouth. I know they were trying to make her look as malicious as possible, but those painted eyebrows just look like a bad face-lift. She doesn’t look scary, she looks goofy. Again, so much potential here and completely anticlimactic.
Oz the Great and Powerful should have been much better than it was. There were some neat ideas here and there and a bit of originality, but in the end, this trick falls flat. Ignore the man behind the curtain folks, he’s really not that interesting.
Final Grade: C+
Welcome welcome to Superhero Sundays, where I discuss the good, the bad, and the awesome about various superhero franchises. This is something that I’ve been toying around with for a while, so let’s see how this goes shall we? Feel free to comment and what-have-you – I’m not the biggest comic reader, so I’m just looking at the movies as well as possible series. I know, I know, they’re not exactly film, but this is my blog so I do what I want. I thought I’d start off with Batman because he has always been my favorite hero: he’s mysterious, intelligent and really just an average guy with awesome resources. He’s a character caught in two worlds and torn by his past. He also had the craziest and most interesting villains. Okay, without further ado, let’s get down to some Batman.
The Good: Batman, Batman Returns, and the Nolan adaptations
I love the two Burton films and the Nolan movies because they are so starkly different but at the same time, well done and well developed. When Burton was addressed to direct Batman in 1989, production companies were apprehensive at first, because a) this would only be the young director’s third feature film, and b) he wanted Micheal Keaton, a comedian of all actors, to be Batman. Well, to me it looks like there wasn’t much to worry about. The construct of Gotham City and the Caped Crusader quickly departed from the campy 60’s technicolor dance party to a stylishly drab and dreary urban-goth drama, while still keeping familiar elements – i.e. Joker’s personality straight out of the comic books while his chaotic schemes remain terrifying. And Keaton did a good job at being Bruce Wayne, maybe he was a more awkward Batman, but he remained a dynamic, conflicted character. And I know some people would disagree with me about my stance on Batman, but it is what it is, and the 1980s were a time of much craziness and even more Prince.
Having earned his own liberties for the second movie, you can tell he had all the stops pulled out for Batman Returns (1992). There were actually three villains in this one: Catwoman, Penguin, and Max Shreck – the middleman. Though this many villains has proven messy before, I think this combo gave Batman a great run for his money. This after all was the film that expose Bruce Wayne’s double-identity to a world of new issues, as well as his place in Gotham.
To be honest though, I think my favorite aspect about this movie is the villains, especially Catwoman. As the audience we get enough time to see her side of the story and get into the mind of this severely damaged character. She is a vigilante turned antihero and we empathize with her journey. As a whole Batman Returns tells a strange and wonderful story of power, identity loss, love, revenge, and utter madness.
Now, Nolan’s movies on the other hand, I’m not going to go into as much detail about – which doesn’t make them any less important, it’s just I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said. I’ll make it brief: Batman Begins is an apt beginning to a gritty reboot with enough psychological turmoil in combination with action to keep all audiences hooked; The Dark Knight shattered Bruce’s beliefs and brought a new terror to Gotham; The Dark Knight Rises, though it wasn’t my favorite, still served as a great ending to the legend – Bruce was challenged by his people and then rose to protect them. Gritty, epic, real. That’s it.
The Bad: Damn you, Joel Schumacher.
Batman Forever and Batman and Robin have happily remained the horrid stain on a great franchise. At first Batman Forever seemed innocent enough, until you realize that you’re not in Vegas but Gotham City. And I really, really, wanted to like Jim Carrey’s Riddler. I truly did. But just the combination of his mugging, with Tommy Lee Jones’ embarrassing contribution (which also threw me off because Harvey Dent was played by Billy Dee Williams in the original), it’s just a hot mess. It was just a bizarre and messy turn from the previous two.
Then, of course, there was Batman and Robin. There’s no way I can cover everything that’s wrong because not only would that take too long, but also because I don’t think I could top Nostalgia Critic on this. I mean, if you really need a recap as to why this movie took Batman down a few pegs, look no further:
Sure these puns are so bad they’re awesome, but I’m not counting irony points. But as for something truly awesome, here we go.
The Awesome: The Animated Series
What makes Batman: The Animated Series so awesome? Well, how about everything for starters. The animation is gorgeous, as is the score, and the stories are amazing. The series only lasted 3 years, but it was enough time to encompass some incredible stuff. I know it also spawned a feature film, which I still have yet to see but I hope to eventually. It was a show fit for people of all ages and it still holds up today – thank you Hub and Toonami Aftermath. If you grew up watching this you had a great childhood. If you didn’t, you can still catch up. Life’s pretty sweet that way.
So this was my shot at Superhero Sundays – I hope you were entertained. Next Sunday, everyone’s favorite Kryptonian.