Tag: Action

The Dark Tower

Outside of the realm of superheros and already established franchises, The Dark Tower film was probably one of the most hyped and anticipated films to come out for some time.

I first heard about the book series in high school, but it existed long before I was at that level. I never touched it because hey, Steven King does scary things, and I didn’t do scary things. But in recent years I thought about adding it to my list of books to hit in the next few years, as I do love long franchises, especially if they are done, not leaving the reader wondering if the final books will ever happen.

The Dark Tower had years of development hell if I recall, for maybe a decade. Different directors, scripts, actors, whatever. But having it come out finally with two top notch actors at the lead sounded great!

It just started to sound a lot worse when people learned that it was meant as a follow up of the successful franchise, and not the successful franchise itself.

Guns
Initial thoughts? This needs way more guns!

In this section I’d love to tell you about, the film and everything it is about. But it is really hard for me to to describe a plot when the plot itself feels so incomprehensible for most of the film.

I know it starts with a boy, Jake (Tom Taylor), who is young and having weird recurring dreams that make him piss his pants. Not literally. All the people around him say that it is trauma from the death of his dad a year or so ago, but they are consistent, similar, and freaking him out.

They have some dude wearing black (Matthew McConaughey) really wanting to destroy some tower somewhere, and a Gunslinger guy (Idris Elba) not wanting him to do that thing.

And in the simplest way, that is the plot. But it involves a parallel universe or shadow realm, magic stuff, disaster stuff and monster things. And some how the kid is key to it all, because YOLO.

Also starring Ben Gavin, Claudia Kim, and Jackie Earle Haley. Other people too, but I think they’d rather I didn’t lump them in this review as well.

Black
Final thoughts: This still didn’t live up to my gun potential.

What a fucking mess. Or a goddamn mess. I am not sure what kind of mess this film ended up being.

If I had read seven or whatever books in this series before watching this movie, would it have been better? I don’t even know. I can’t actually imagine a big budgeted film coming out that requires that much investment in books to understand it. The movie definitely attempted to explain some things. Why else have some kid thrown into the story if not an exposition device for the viewers?

But I still have no earthly idea what I watched. Once it started doing its silly other world stuff, the film just jumped off the rails and my mind was gone. Extremely poor plot and writing aside, it also was very unattractive to look at. The CGI was awful. The movie was loud and tried to fill itself with cool sequences instead of just good movie.

I mean. I am trying really hard to remember cool or especially bad moments in the film. Something that stands out. But when your movie is 100% trash, well, then it just looks like trash.

0 out of 4.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

What a promising film franchise to fall from grace so quickly. I quite enjoyed the first Maze Runner film, and I was excited for where it was going. I was also excited because they said the final book would only be one film, not broken up like other bad franchises.

Except the sequel, The Scorch Trials, was awful and repetitive. I have been told it deviated far from the book, unlike film number one, and it shows given it seemed to lack any direction or reason for existing.

And on to the final film, The Death Cure! Which was supposed to come out last year, but the star got hurt early into filming. He was hurt in March, 2016, and from his injuries, recovery time, and other commitments, the filming didn’t continue until March, 2017. A whole year delay! And now we are given a January release, where you know they don’t really give a shit about what they are dropping.

Oh, young adult dystopian book gods. This is the final piece of the final film to finish, as the others along the way either ended with a whimper or ended before they could end. Or in The Fifth Wave’s case, it was dead on arrival.

No matter what, remember that after it, it will all be over for at least two years before something else tries to recreate the Twilight and Hunger Games crowd.

Gun
Before Newt can shoot, he turns into a Final Fantasy character.

This third and final film is set sometimes after the second, months even. The resistance arm has been destroyed for the most part by WKCD, with several people getting taken including Minho (Ki Hong Lee), thanks to Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) switching sides, again. But don’t worry, if the Right Arm wants to do anything, it wants to destroy WCKD, run away to safety, and save Minho. Just Minho. Literally who gives a shit about the rest, if they get saved and aren’t Minho then they are not done.

So Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Brenda (Rosa Salazar), Frypan (Dexter Darden), and even Vince (Barry Pepper) and Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) try to save Minho. They don’t, they save 40 other kids, whoops. But doing so they find out they are headed to the Last City, somehow protected from the Cranks and the infection, where WKCD has their headquarters. A final showdown, to save Minho? Sure, why not.

Of course, while in the city they find out that there are other resistance groups around, one led by a Lawrence (Walton Goggins) who is super close to turning into a Crank, but has a serum supply. And oh, hey look, there is Gally (Will Poultier)! Long time no see, dick buddy. Anyways, there new goal is to break into an unbreakable city, get their boy Minho back, then escape into the wind to be immune on a beach somewhere. Whether or not Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) and Janson (Aidan Gillen) get dealt with would just be bonus.

CIty
Ah yes, those buildings are currently in tact, so I declare it a city!

For those who don’t want to be spoiled, let this paragraph be the last thing you read. Basically, this film is the bee’s anus. Some characters do actions with zero motivation or reason to these actions. The heroes literally care about only saving one person for the most part. The heroes are a bunch of jerks and are generally wrong. There are many sacrifices that are unnecessary. And it is so goddamn long and disappointing.

But while watching this movie, I knew I needed to be specific. I knew I needed to talk about certain things that pissed me off and they constitute spoilers. So here we go, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Let’s start with the baddest bad guy, Janson, who really wants to kill Thomas but is still charismatic and calm. Except for at the end when he decides to shoot and kill Ava Paige for no reason. Literally, they were still on the same side with the same goal, to get the cure from Thomas, and Janson kills her. She and him are friends. But he is sooooo bad that he kills her, only to make the ending more chaotic and stupid.

And really, in terms of bad guy actions, that is the only real super bad guy action. Because it turns out that WKCD was right all along. They wanted to get a cure from the immune people. They knew it could be done, they just needed the right people. In the second film they clearly went about it the wrong way, but Teresa, still a good guy (?) just wanted to make sure all the Cranks could be saved and everyone else. And guess what! She totally could make a real cure from Thomas’ blood, who had special blood because he was lucky, and he didn’t have to get tortured or anything for it to be made.

But who gives a shit about that. Nope, WKCD gets destroyed. Teresa dies sacrificing herself for Thomas, when there was no reason for her to sacrifice herself. And all for what? For Thomas and the good guys to run off to a beach and start their own community…while the rest of the world becomes Cranks and die off? Holy fuck. Thomas is a character who gives no fucks about saving the world, just himself, and the community act like this is a great thing that they did in the end. When the other option was to HELP THE WORLD they HELPED THEMSELVES instead.

Speaking of good bad guys and selfish heroes, the death count in this and the last film are pretty big, especially when a war is raged in the city. The city is the WKCD headquarters, but it is also a lot of other regular people just doing their own thing. So all of these people get fucked over in this giant fight, when only one place should be the real target. And none of it had to happen if Thomas just sort of realized and done the right thing.

On that note, if his blood really was special and had the cure, how the fuck did WKCD not know it before hand? He literally worked for them before he went into the maze, with Teresa. If they suspected immunity, they should have had him undergo tests, and the whole film series really doesn’t make sense at that point. They would have had the cure early enough to get it various places, save even more lives, and Thomas would have been glad to do it.

But no. Beach. Safe. Fuck the world. End of film. I am glad to know that the second film is very different from the book, because it means it must be true of the third film and third book as well. I want to read the series just to see how much worse these films ended up being in retrospect.

0 out of 4.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

I had absolutely no intentions of watching The LEGO Ninjago Movie earlier in the year. When this and The LEGO Batman Movie were announced, I honestly wasn’t too fond of either idea, but this idea less so because I don’t know what the fuck a Ninjago is. It is one of their brands, but never anything I touched, so who cares.

I just wanted a real sequel to The LEGO Movie more than anything, so these off shoot films were very “whatever” on my radar.

And then I ended up being so disappointed in the Batman film and animated films in general that I needed to give Ninjago a chance. I needed to check every crook and nanny to see if all the animated films were bad. And you know what? I think this one was hated right out of the gate, with people who had very similar thoughts to mind.

No one wanted to give Ninjago a chance, which is why there hasn’t been a lot of hype for the film. And yet it, in my mind, is the better LEGO film of 2017.

Group\
Featuring so many members of Silicon Valley also had to be intentional.

In the city of Ninjago, normal city things occur, bakers, bread buyers, bread eaters, you name it. There is a giant volcano near by across the bay, and in it lives Garmadon (Justin Theroux), a four armed evil ninja mad man who wants to take over the city, become its mayor, and rule it with his man evil fists. He is a big pain, always destroying things, bu he never wins thanks to a group of young teenagers with attitude.

You see, there is a protective ninja force in town! They have Mechs that can help them stop Garmadon every time. They all have cool elements too: The Fire Ninja (Michael Peña), The Lightning Ninja (Kumail Nanjiani), The Water Ninja (Abbi Jacobson), The Ice Ninja (Zach Woods), The Earth Ninja (Fred Armisen), and The Green Ninja (Dave Franco). Yes, the power of Green. Sucks even more for The Green Ninja, besides his lame element, because his dad actually is Garmadon.

Despite Garmadon being out of his and his mom’s (Olivia Munn) life since he was a baby, everyone knows he is the son of Garmadon and teases him non stop, because his Ninja identity is a secret. This enrages him of course, along with his anger at his dad and the fact that they never truly win. Despite the warnings of their master (Jackie Chan), the Green Ninja tries to use the ultimate weapon against Garmadon, which ends up putting the city at an even bigger risk without hurting Garmadon.

Fuck.

Now the Ninjas are going to have to find the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon, and discover how to be real ninjas without relying on Mech technology, in order to save the city, defeat Garmadon, and you know, be better people.

Bad
The story about his extra pair of arms is actually a funny one, you see….

Does the Ninjago movie have a lot of ninja stereotypes? You betcha. Does it focus on only one main plot point of the lost father/son relationship? Of course. Does it rely heavily on jokes about this relationship, bringing them up again and again? That’s another affirmative.

I believe those would be the reasons it is getting some pretty sad reviews overall. And yes, relying on one line of jokes through the majority of the film is a problem. But the good news is, it is more than just that line of jokes, they are just mostly pushed to the side or hidden in the background. In all of these LEGO movies there is a shit ton going on at all times, including quips from various characters, some without real names. And they carried the film for me.

I could have done without what felt like a long montage about learning how to throw. But the conversation about not knowing how to throw early on was amazing. And so on and so on. I found a lot of the characters to be quite amusing and thought they did well as a martial arts parody film.

But more importantly, the size and scale of this movie was appreciated. This movie is probably better to me because of comparing it to Batman. But Batman was too big. It had its own world that was unfortunately overstuffed, intentionally, so much that the had to bring in 20 or more characters to make the joke. But in Ninjago we have a handful of important characters dealing with issues in their city and not relying on outside pop culture references to tell this story.

In fact, this is one of the few reviews where I didn’t have to end my middle section with “Also starring!” and a huge list of people I couldn’t easily fit in to the plot description. It is a nice, self contained story, that amused me over the small run time. And that is why I can put it above so many other animated films this year.

3 out of 4.

Hostiles

When you think of Hostiles, you think of a group of angry people. Knowing that this movie is set as a western, with cowboys and American Indians, it sort of brings Pocahontas to mind. I know, it wasn’t cowboys, but close enough. And famously in that movie we had the song Savages. Throughout history, generally Savage was used when the “white” side ran into natives in another land. But in this song, they both saw each other as savages! Equality because both sides were different and didn’t trust different things.

Except you know, the part where in Pocahontas, the white people were actual terrible invaders and the bad people and that was it. So they tried well, but still failed in that regard.

Anyway, I think of that song when I hear Hostiles (and probably also for the movie Savages). Going into it, I assumed that every side and every new character was probably a “hostile” individual, and that no one should be trusted or given a gun.

Gun
When everyone is this aggressive, you just need to have the gun out at all times.

Set in 1892, we find ourselves in the Western United States. The Civil War is over, but the Spanish-American war had not yet happened. Soldiers at this point didn’t have a lot of responsibilties. Mostly keeping the peace, in forts across the country.

Captain Joseph J. Blocker (Christian Bale) has been in the army for about 25 or more years at this point. He has seen and done a lot of things. He was at Wounded Knee not to much longer before. And he hates the Native Americans. He h as seen what they have done to “honest, Americans” and is disgusted by that fact. Hell, most of his career has involved killing them or rounding them up, but he also has only done what he is told.

And now he is being told to do something unthinkable. He has to return Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family (Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher, and more) to their homeland. He has been imprisoned for seven years and it has been long enough, especially since Yellow Hawk has the cancer. It has turned into a big deal for their government to send him home to die with his people and forgive past crimes, hell, even the president has signed off on it. The press are involved!

Blocker doesn’t wan this job. And it will be his last one before retirement. He has his crew (Jesse Plemons, Jonathan Majors, Rory Cochrane, Timothée Chalamet), he had his weapons and supplies, and he had a terrible mission.

And along the way he will also pick up Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike) a very recent widow who lost her family and house to a group of Native American horse thieves, and (Ben Foster) a former soldier, turned prisoner for doing unthinkable crimes and trying to run, who needs delivery to a fort for a court marshal.

Also featuring others, like Stephen Lang, Peter Mullan, and Robyn Malcolm.

Gun
Shit, everyone gets a gun in this movie.

Hostiles is a film that is just a little bit over two hours, but one that feels much longer. The first scene grabs you and the film refuses to let go the entire time. It keeps your attention by gripping characters, extremely great acting, authentic everything, and slightly terrifying plot.

It doesn’t keep your interest like a modern cartoon, by flashing shit at you every few seconds. No, the scenes are long, detailed, and showcase real human emotion. Hard decisions don’t just come naturally, but they are often decided in between scenes. But in this film, we have to watch actors think through their moral issues and figure out what they need to do. And on its own, that might not seem too appealing, but it just shows the amount of attention to detail that went into this film.

Scott Cooper directed this film and I will be honest, I haven’t really enjoyed anything he has directed before. That is from Black Mass, Out of the Furnace, and Crazy Heart. All films that are known for one reason or another, some good, some not so good. But none of them really reached me.

Hostiles reached me something fierce. Bale has a good chance of getting nominated. Watching Pike play such an unhinged character gave me flashbacks to Gone Girl, she does such work here as well. All of the other side characters are clearly their own individuals. The film kept me guessing with just how scenes would play out. The characters are complex individuals, so their actions won’t always be obvious from earlier in the film.

Hostiles is just a great film on all fronts. The soundtrack, the acting, the story, the pacing, the cinematography, shit, even the costumes. Westerns are rare, but it seems like every western we get is basically gold at this point.

4 out of 4.

Brawl in Cell Block 99

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is a great title. It is descriptive, while also leaving enough mystery to make you wonder. It highlights a single fight, which means it is a fight that should stand out in a movie that probably has a lot of fights. And it just has good letters. Those B’s are powerful, not a lot of B’S in movies lately, let alone multiple Bs.

This is brought to us by S. Craig Zahler, who gave us Bone Tomahawk recently. It was well known and received for being a slow, well acted western, with also one really gross death scene that really rattled people.

And this one is about prison! I am sure it will be perfectly quaint, although, not your average action film. Its run time is over two hours, so it better have a lot of story to tell in between punches.

Not99
This is not the titular brawl, just the Brawl in the Prison Yard.

Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn) is an honest working man, a bit of a tall muscular freak, but hard working. He is a tow driver, which makes below average pay. But he has been fired from that. And at home, he found out his wife, Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter), was cheating on him. He deals with his anger the only way he knows, and not on her. They agree to work through it, to go for a baby, and Bradley will go back to being a drug dealer (not a user), where his size and strength can come in handy.

And now, a year and a half later, everything is fine! They have a bigger house, a baby girl on the way, life is looking up!

Until Bradley gets a job he does not want to do. The thugs involved with the deal look like users. They look like no good people who will try and kill and steal and put him in the line of fire. He agrees reluctantly only because if he does that he will get three months off paid once his baby is born. See, even if the drug business has better parental leave than the USA!

Bradley takes the deal, things go south, and sure, Bradley is in prison. He is blamed for the deal going south of course, so he is told that unless he kills another prisoner, they will get someone to perform a very late term abortion on his wife, and his not yet born baby girl will, well, stay that way. The only issue is, this guy is in a much more extreme prison, so he has to “earn” his way there by going against his own morals and code and hurting people to save the ones he loves.

Also starring Dan Amboyer, Don Johnson, Geno Segers, Marc Blucas, Tom Guiry, and Udo Keir.

Prison
This is not the titular brawl, this isn’t a brawl at all!

While watching Brawl in Cell Block 99, I had two main thoughts: One, when are we getting to this brawl that they needed to emphasize in the title? and two, Vaughn is really carrying this power and weight in this role. I was intimidated by him and awed by him. They made his character smart, strong, and oddly moral. When you expected domestic violence, you got instead a calm rational human, who didn’t even yell. It was odd and satisfying.

Anyways, there are a handful of action scenes pre-brawl to entertain those who ned punching. Of course some of that is just people straight up beating up one person, some of it is Vaughn seeming like a super hero.

Okay okay, at this point I am stalling. Once the brawl started to happen, it got really tense as it first had to involve a breakout attempt. Watching our moral character beat up guards at a level of realizing he is doing wrong, trying not to hurt them too bad, while also doing it for his wife and unborn girl. And then the actual part that matters, well I HAD TO STOP WATCHING ONCE IT STARTED. IT GOT REALLY INTENSE, REALLY QUICKLY AND I COULD ONLY GAG AND COUGH AND SHRIEK TO MYSELF. After that, it wasn’t that bad BUT IT STILL GOT REALLY INTENSE.

I had to type in caps there to properly show just how freaked out this movie got very quickly. It ramped up several notches, and frankly I wasn’t ready for it. The high rating isn’t just for those scenes, but for the whole build up, for seemingly telling a unique story in a familiar location, and just how strong Vaughn was in it.

I should have known what I was getting into with the director, and next time I won’t be caught unawares. After all, the next film is called Dragged Across Concrete, which is extremely descriptive and I am already gagging in anticipation.

4 out of 4.

Bright

Bright was meant to be this big Netflix release at the end of the year, one of their first Blockbuster films. So of course they brought in Will Smith for this adventure.

And hell, they made it R, so we can get the killing, the swearing, and the boobs. Just going to go all out. They even did pre-screenings of the film for press! The night before it was on Netflix, sure, but they were trying.

And then everyone hated it. I heard a lot of things, like how it was meant to be the worst film of the year, terrible, whatever. So something I meant to ignore I was now contractually obligated to write about. Statistically, everyone who sees this review would have seen it by the time I publish this, which in my head is currently “whenever.”

Duo
“Say whenever again, I dare you.” – Samuel wilL. Smith.

In the year, I dunno, probably this one, in a city much like LA, we have one notable difference. Fantasy races also exist in our world, or at least just a few. We got elves, we got orcs, we got fairies, and as far as I can tell that is it. Sorry people who love dwarves. Two thousand years ago there was some Dark One that came and tried to destroy the world, the Orcs were on his side, the “good guys” won and the orcs were hated ever since, despite being citizens of the world as well. So they get shit upon by everyone.

Oh and magic! And specifically, magic wands which are super rare. The only people who can use the wands are called Brights, who are usually elves. Humans have been Brights in the past but it is like, 1 in a million chance of being a Bright. Oh, and the only way to know if you are a Bright is to try and use a wand, if you aren’t a Bright, you will explode. good times.

Now that world building is done, we have a cop duo, Daryl Ward (Will Smith) and Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), the only orc cop for diversity reasons. Also no one wants to work with Ward cause he is a dick, or moral, or something. Ward hates it, Jakoby just wants to be a good guy, and Ward recently got shot on a call as his partner was getting food, so he is angry a lot.

After thirty minutes of exposition and shit talking to the Orc, we eventually have the duo discover an actual wand, and an elf who is talking gibberish and warnings. Before they can turn everything over, they find out that a lot of people want the wand for their own power hungry ways, including other cops ready to sweep this incident under the rug.

So our duo has to run around town at night, protecting an elf and the wand, from groups who want it, or else maybe the world will end. Who knows!

Also starring Alex Meraz, (Noomi Rapace), Edgar Ramirez, Happy Anderson, Lucy Fry, Margaret Cho, and Veronica Ngo.

Trio
Elves are rich and elves are hipster druggies.

Was Bright the worst movie of the year? Hell no. In fact, not even the worst movie I have seen on Netflix as an “original film” this year. It doesn’t mean it is good, it is still bad, but it wasn’t dog shit terrible.

However, the intro is going to turn so many people off. It is going for a parallel of their world and our world’s view on races, but they put it to 11. The first 30 minutes or whatever is just people railing into the orc cop, from all sides, constantly. If you want abuse, you will get it, and by then people will have made up their minds. They get over it eventually, but it puts a bad taste into everyone’s mouth. It is far too heavy handed.

After that, it is only an okay story. Nothing too original, the fantasy elements are only somewhat there, and really, the ending is obvious. The acting is mediocre and the effects are also mediocre. So a mostly blah movie with a bad intro is of course, a bad grade.

The bottom line? Netflix wanted to turn this movie in to a franchise of films or a TV show (along the lines of the Marvel series) or something. And you know what? It probably still will. The world building is there already, they have a lot of room for other fantasy growth, and most importantly, they have a shit ton of people talking about this film.

I don’t know how Netflix in particular makes money from their movies/shows, given everything comes with the submission fee. But almost everyone I know has talked about watching this movie since it came out, due to the hype and the bad talk. So this movie probably put up amazing numbers besides the PR buzz. Expect more Bright in the future, whether you want it or not.

1 out of 4.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

¨It only took twenty years, but we finally have a Jumanji sequel…” said no one ever about this movie, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.

Especially since everyone of course remembers that Zathura: A Space Adventure totally exists!

But also because when this movie was announced, a lot of people got pretty angry. Saying things like it would tarnish Robin Williams´ legacy, that it was changing too many things, that it didn´t feel like Jumanji, and everything else. People seem to think that movie studios were sitting on this idea for years, just waiting for Williams to fall over so they could move on. Williams did not own the rights to Jumanji.

When I saw the trailer initially I was actually a little bit excited. Getting sucked into a video game is not a new prompt. It has been done many times as one-off TV show episodes, entire shows have been based on them, and movies as well, but it feels like when it happens it is usually shit. And since I like a lot of these actors, I had a bit more hope for this one.

Group
A diverse cast of characters in a jungle, WHAT YEAR IS IT?!

Don’t worry purists, this film takes place in the same universe as the first Jumanji film! As it starts in the mid 90’s, boardgame found on a beach. However, board games are lame, so the kid doesn’ play it and goes back to his video games. So what’s an evil sentient-esque game supposed to do but morph into a playing system? That is how they will get the kids hooked.

Flash forward to modern times, and we have four kids, very distinct histories and likes, who end up getting detention at the same time. Spencer (Alex Wolff) is our nerd/video game lover, we have The Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) who is good at sports, Bethany (Madison Iseman) a popular cute girl addicted to her phone, and Martha (Morgan Turner) who also is nerdy but more reclusive. They have a task of removing staplers from hundreds of magazines in a basement, hooray child labor! They of course instead find this old video game, all agree to play, because fuck work, and lo and behold, they get sucked into a video game!

Now, they are all the avatars they chose as their characters. Spencer is now Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), good at everything, while The Fridge is Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), the backpack guy sidekick, Martha is now Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) a fighter good at fighting, and Bethany has become Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), an overweight cartologist.

They must work together to balance their strengths and weaknesses in their new bodies to save the jungles of Jumanji, and also, get themselves back home.

Also starring Bobby Cannavale, Rhys Darby, Nick Jonas, Marc Evan Jackson, and Colin Hanks.

Shock
The Rock showing emotion, WHAT YEAR IS IT?

As previously mentioned, most “jump into video game movies” are poorly made. Just look at the third Spy Kids movie. The problem with all of these films or tv shows is they just never seem to “get” video games. They make them awkward puzzle based challenges, but mostly a lot of…non gaming things. The closest we have to a movie understanding video games has been Edge of Tomorrow.

If there is anything you can say about Jumanji 2, it is that it at least understands video games. Our characters have multiple lives, sharing lives, strengths and weaknesses, there are obvious levels, there are boundaries, there are goals, NPCs, weird interactions. It feels like people interacting with a video game world for the most part, that is wonderful.

It is wonderful, until they contradict themselves. For example, one of my biggest issues with this movie is Dr. Smolder Bravestone. He has no weaknesses, and his strengths include Fighting, Strength, Endurance, Speed, and being Fearless. Yeah, he has a bunch. And all the characters in avatar form obviously have strengths or weaknesses that are not normal. But hey, Ruby can actually fight despite being weak in real life. And Smolder can run fast, jump high, and all that.

Except for apparently his Fearless trait. Because a recurring plot point is watching Johnson scream at the slightest and smallest of animals, running in terror, over and over again. It causes one of his deaths. It is such a ridiculous oversight, it really bugs me because everything else was on point and this one felt glaring.

Overall, the movie is just okay still. The video game aspects are fine, the plot is really week. It doesn’t have an overall sense of awe or wonder like its predecessors. Everything is of course just extremely CGI’d and action scenes, with too many of the scenes focusing on human bad guys instead of swell animal problems. We don’t even get natural disasters, despite the several plant or weather based issues that Jumanji gave us.

A fine film, it just still could have been a lot better.

2 out of 4.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

I remember when the first poster for The Hitman’s Bodyguard came out, everyone just naturally assumed it was a joke. There wasn’t prior knowledge of some mysterious Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson movie, just a poster and a lot of laughs. It was a parody of the poster for The Bodyguard, but you know, dudes. Hilarious.

And then a trailer came out and confirmed everyone’s worst or best fears. This movie was real, and it was an action comedy, and it might be amazing. It could be the next The Nice Guys for all we know, with two talented comedic leads who also know their way around an action movie. A perfect pairing, if you will.

Little did I know, technical issues would get in the way of a good laughing.

Gun
Joke about dicks and guns.

Michael Bryce (Reynolds) used to be one of the best bodyguards in the world. Dignitaries, foreign leaders, high CEO level people would hire him in dangerous situations to make sure they made it through safely, especially if someone wanted them dead. He was incredibly thorough with his work, always detailed, meticulously planning every job to ensure the best for his clients.

But eventually, one of his clients got shot despite doing everything right. This put him on the straight spiral downward. A bodyguard is only as good as his rating, and letting a client die puts a hamper on your rating. So now he is a mess of a man, doing shittier jobs. He still does them well, but his heart isn’t into it anymore.

An ex lover, Amelia Roussel (Elodie Young), who works for Interpol one day shows up at his door needing help. It turns out they have in their custody Darius Kincaid (Jackson), one of the greatest hitmen known to man, with incredible aim and very ruthless. He isn’t being charged with a crime, but he is being brought in as a witness against Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), a tyrant being charged with crimes against humanity. Apparently Kincaid did a few jobs for him, so he has the inside scoop and is the only person alive who can testify to the deeds.

So of course people want Kincaid dead. And it is going to take an expert to get him there safely, while also dealing with his reckless behavior. Unfortunately, these two gentlemen are also bitter enemies, with Kincaid being the one who killed Bryce’s man those years ago. Oh how will they put this rivalry behind them?

Also starring Salma Hayek, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Tine Joustra, and Joaquim de Almeida.

Explode
The more explosions the better, I guess.

I’d love to give a real review of this movie. I’d prefer if I saw it in perfect conditions to really judge or appreciate the film, but alas, I did not.

The screening I saw had very jacked sound quality. Early on it was terrible. Everything that made a sound was louder than the dialogue, so it started off hard to follow. Later on it got better, but it turns out it was just due to less explosions. By the end, it was again an inaudible mess of just sounds and hard to decipher words. It was fucking pointless.

And I have to judge the movie entirely by this fact. Because I am not going out of my way to see it a second time to see if it was fluke. The people working didn’t say it was a mistake and try to fix it. We just got wrecked and they didn’t care, so I didn’t care either. I didn’t know when I would ever publish this review, because it feels pointless. But hey, I published my review of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which had even worse issues in my theater, so why not just rail against this movie?

Hayek was fantastic in this film though. She stole the show. Good on her.

1 out of 4.

Thor: Ragnarok

Okay, Thor: The Dark World was sort of bad. I was caught up in Marvel hype at the time, but I still stand by my original Thor rating.

I love the god of Thunder, and I want Chris Hemsworth to be in many more movies, so I just ooze out happiness towards him, hoping everything is great and falling in love. Except for Blackhat. And The Huntsman: Winter’s War. And Ghostbusters. Okay, so lately Thor is all he has going for him outside of Rush (is it the four letter word theme?!).

But that is not why I am excited about Thor: Ragnarok. I am floor to the wall excited thanks to Taika Waititi.

Who? The indie film New Zealand director who gave us What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople (one of my top films last year). This man is so good at his craft, bringing natural humor and an adventure out of little. The fact that he was given a Marvel film to helm, to put his own spin on things, blows my minds, and honestly, I just could not fucking wait.

lightning
Basically, Thor is now full on Rayden.

Ragnarok takes place sometimes after the events of other movies. Thor (Hemsworth) is roaming the stars, leaving Midgard (Earth) behind for a bit in their squabbles, as he makes sure life around the Realms is swell. He is having nightmares about Asgard falling in flames, and he would rather not have that happen to his home.

After dealing with threats, he returns to Asgard and finds it complacent in the suffering of the realm. Heimdall (Idris Elba) is missing. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is clearly Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in disguise, not actually dead like everyone assumed. But that is only the beginning of the issues.

It turns out that Thor has an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who has been imprisoned by Odin for some time. She is set to return, to return Asgard to a machine of death and destruction to conquer the cosmos. The Asgard of the past was a scary place, everyone would prefer peace time now, but it is hard for that to occur when she shows up on their doorstep, stronger than the other Asgardians and willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.

Thor and Odin are expelled from their realm, with mixed results. Odin would like to survive and run, while Thor would prefer to get out of his new reality, defeat his sister and finally claim the throne he has denied in the past. I mean, he has to, or else everyone will die or something.

We get a few new characters into the story, including the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldbloom), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Skurge (Karl Urban).

Also featuring the Warriors Three (sort of) (Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano), the voice of Clancy Brown, Rachel House, Taika Waititi (he is in his own movie, yes), Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a few cameos to keep on your toes.

War
This is probably what I would wear if I got into LARPing.

Thor is such an odd character to make films about. The goal is to make sure the films have their own unique feel to them and are not a generic action superhero film. This means that Thor gets to go to other planets and realms, but not like the Guardians of the Galaxy, as his is more solo based and war based. GotG is more bad dudes all around.

Years ago this was being noted of being a sort of Road Trip Marvel film, which is not a very apt description. We get to see different areas, different people, at various amounts, while Thor deals with his friends and family tearing itself apart. Unfortunately like a lot of those films, some areas spend too much time, seemingly drag on, when the viewer might just wish it to move its ass along eventually. Namely, the trash planet with the gladiators. Sure, some cool stuff happens there. Some sweet characters. But damn it, get going, get out, let´s get this plot going!

And there is a lot of cool stuff in this film! Thor at the end of the movie is a complete badass, finally rocking out in such an epic way that it feels like a Thor makeover, and I don´t just mean his hair. Hulk is given a decent amount of screen time and gets to show off. Loki is around, which is okay. Hela likes to throw spikes or whatever, and I guess she is strong doing that. Heimdall finally has a purpose in these movies, but still not a lot of purpose. And cameos!

Then there are questions like: Where is Lady Sif? She is a major part of the Thor crew, but she is basically replaced with Valkyrie and we are supposed to be cool with it? (She could not make the filming time, and they just ignored her existence. The Warriors Three at least had parts though).

The questions brought up at the end of The Dark World with Odin/Loki were really quickly dealt with as well. TDW had a very ominous ending and I have been waiting many years for this to come about and it was a disappointment.

Again, the film has tons of fun moments. It does a lot of things right, and it is quite hilarious and badass at various points. It is just a bit too long, rushes through the better things, drags at others, and ignores characters without a good reason.

3 out of 4.

Atomic Blonde

Atomic! Blonde! Atomic Blonde! Two words that are powerful, in very different ways, and together make something…about the sum of their parts.

It is a new action mostly film, with promises of sleek designs and fights, with a banging sound and wall to wall fun. It is also being noted as female John Wick, or something like that.

I figured Atomic Blonde would be some cool agent nick name, but it isn’t mentioned at all in the film, so really the title is just…mostly random. Strange, but it wouldn’t be the first time it is done. Sort of a call back to 80’s action films in that regard.

Wall
What a big goddamn symbol of separation. And a wall, there is a wall also in this shot.

In November, 1989, the Berlin Wall was a literal and figurative collapse of the separation between East and West Germany, reuniting the country for the first time in decades. But in this world, it almost never happened.

An MI-6 British operative gained access to a file in a watch that had information on every hidden operative on both sides of the Cold War. It would be devastating for anyone to get their hands on it, as they would gain a big advantage over the others. It getting out might also prolong the Cold War, when it is so close to finishing for once.

And then that operative was killed before he could bring it home, putting it in the hands of a Soviet soldier, who didn’t run back to his country, but is trying to get paid the big bucks for the information. So the UK sends in a new agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), to find the file before it gets in the wrong hands. They also want her to find information on a double agent, who is secretly leaking information to the Soviets. And all of this quickly, before the Cold War heats up.

She is sent with information to trust no one, not even their pseudo informant, David Percival (James McAvoy), a man who has been working both sides of the wall to gain intel to gain power and prestige. But he is also her only hope to really starting to crack the case. They also need to find Spyglass (Eddie Marsan), a code name for an East German intelligence officer who helped make the list and is the only one really with that information.

The majority of the story is told after the events, with Lorraine retelling it back at headquarters, to a head British dude (Toby Jones) and a member of the CIA (John Goodman).

Other bodies in this film include James Faulkner, Roland Møller, Sofia Boutella, Bill Skarsgård, Sam Hargrave, and Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson.

Cover
Man, having a big head of hair and covering your face really helps input a stunt double.

Coming from a person who didn’t find John Wick or its sequel to be perfect films (although wonderful cinematography, and wonderful action), this did not feel up to the same quality that John Wick gave us. But I am not going to compare it to John Wick, that wouldn’t be fair.

Theron was fine as our lead. A very distant protagonist, she had a lot of secrets in her head, and they showed her definitely to be a bad ass. There was an incredible scene that maybe went on 10 minutes as a long take with several fights and sequences that just felt like it would never end. It was wonderful.

But it lacked a whole lot more in the story department. It should have tried a simpler plot, instead this movie gets tangled up in its own threads, and doesn’t give a completely sensible final product. Twists and turns are one thing, but if they end up at the finale and feel forced and a bit of a let down, then the movie just ends with a pitter.

The average review isn’t just for the ending, but mostly for how the story just failed to get me involved in anyway. There were secrets, but ones I rarely cared about. I didn’t try to look for hints, because I knew they would be mostly red herrings.

But the soundtrack was definitely banging. And again, some of the fight scenes were just extremely well choreographed, so if that is all you care about, you will have a good time. I just think who cares? Big deal, I want more.

2 out of 4.