Dark Phoenix

Oh X-Men, how much we weep for thee.

X-Men so bad now, they took X-Men out of the title.

X-Men so bad, they are trying to remake their previous worst main X-Men title with the same writer.

X-Men so bad, they make a movie called Dark Phoenix and don´t have Phoenix in the movie at all.

X-Men so bad, this movie killed the X-Men.

stranger
And no amount of Albinism can save it. 

X-Men: Apocalypse took place in the 1980´s, and this one takes place in the 1990´s and features no real aging of any of the mutants. That is the real superpowers here.

At this point, they are accepted by the public, a weird timeline indeed. And after the crew was sent into space to safe a spaceship disaster. And sure enough, some space dust gets absorbed into Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) making her feel all funny inside.

It turns out Xavier (James McAvoy) may have been lying to her about her past, and hidden some of her own memories from her. That makes her sad. And mad. And willing apparently to turn her back on all of the X-Men, even killing a few of them, just to showcase how mad she is.

Also aliens.

Featuring of various amounts Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Halston Sage, Brian d´Arcy James, Lamar Johnson, Scott Shepherd, and Jessica Chastain.

face
X-Men so bad, their faces are breaking and not the box office records.

X-Men so bad, they keep having their greatest enemy be themselves.

X-Men so bad, that kindness saves the day, like they are care bears.

X-Men so bad, this is not the first time actors have asked for their characters to be killed in order to leave the franchise.

X-Men so bad, that they used time travel to fix the bad movies and still made more bad movies (and time paradoxes).

X-Men so bad, they have failed multiple times to make a hero turning bad in no way compelling for the viewers.

X-Men so bad, they are their own Greek tragedy in terms of a rise and fall of successful films.

X-Men so bad, their film qualities would make a better roller coaster than anything at the Island of Adventure.

X-Men so bad, I put off writing this review for months due to complete and utter apathy.

0 out of 4.

Shazam!

Wham, bam, thank you maam, Shazam is crammed with ham, rams, and not giving a damn.

Since the DCEU has begun, it has looked very bleak. They have had great people to pick their movies apart to make fantastic trailers, and almost never lived up to them. The closest up to this point [coming from someone who will get around to seeing Aquaman…eventually] was Wonder Woman, which had an actual good story and visuals and felt great. Until the end where it decided it needed to go full DCEU with its final reveal/battle scene to end it pretty shitty.

But Shazam! No, they brought in Zachary Levi, and everyone knows that Levi is not serious. His face is too goofy for serious. He would need a beard for that. They are now going for a Superhero comedy. Marvel has those, and people like Marvel.

DC wants that Marvel money, damn it, so they are going to start with their former Captain Marvel himself.

Spark
And this time he´s also part Storm!

Billy Baston (Asher Angel) is your typical foster kid. He is mad at the world, he wants to find his real mom, and thinks it is easy to not care about the regular stuff in life, like school, homework, or bath time.

Long story short, Billy is found to be pure of heart by some ancient Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) and given some ancient Greek magical powers once he says the words Shazam! And he also becomes an adult (Zachary Levi), strong, and all of the basic super hero stuff.

His foster brother (Jack Dylan Grazer) also knows the truth about his new powers, and given his comic book knowledge, is there to help him through this change. Can they use these powers for good? Where are the villains?

It turns out the villain is Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), who has a kid was given the power but failed the test. This made him lose his family and since then he has spent his life looking for them, gaining wealth and power in the real world. He wants the power for himself, at whatever cost.

And you know, Billy just wants to find his mom, and be liked, and not care about any of this responsibility. Oh golly.

Also starring Faithe Herman, Ian Chen, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Grace Fulton, and Jovan Armand.

Drink
Got an adult body? Time to drink a lot of soda!

Shazam has a lot of heart and humor, things that seem to have been missing from the DCEU. And that extended universe has slowed, slowed down. I haven´t even seen Aquaman from last year, and Shazam is the only entry for 2019. The whole group of movies needs to rethink its existence and how to put out films that do not feel like crap on arrival (COA).

Levi is probably the perfect choice of kid in adult body and walks that line perfectly. It always brought a smile to my face and felt incredibly accurate.

The foster home was wonderful, and the sad scenes were the right level of sad. A lot of emotions in this movie.

And it still had some awkward scenes. I thought the entire intro with the kid future villain was awkward. The other dimension or whatever with the powers? It looked cheap and fake. The ending had some cool fan service and implications for the future, but also didn´t have a lot of high stakes.

Strong made an okay bad guy in this one, with the board room scene in particular being a great insight to evil.

DCEU needs to realize this was a good start in fixing its image. Not every film should be like Shazam, that would not make sense. But to balance the humor with the dark, to not just be a gross CGI fest, and all of that? Here is hoping 2020 and onward is better.

3 out of 4.

Zombieland: Double Tap

Here’s the thing. Zombieland is ten years old, and ten year old sequels rarely succeed in terms of the original. My review for the first film is pretty dang old, and honestly, I don’t agree with it anymore. I think the first Zombieland is just okay. It has some humor, but for a movie named Zombieland, it doesn’t have a lot of zombies in it. The ending goes too long, wasn’t exciting, and relies too much on Bill Murray.

That means I was not looking forward to seeing Zombieland: Double Tap. It had everything working against it, except for a return of the main cast, who have all went on to do great films after Zombieland. In movies nominated for Oscars, and some winning them! Well, except for Abigail. She peaked a bit before Zombieland technically.

But despite the lack of interest, I still was somehow more interested in this than checking out the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. I figured that one could wait for DVD.


Also, let’s be clear, Kevin Smith wants to see this movie too. 
Ten years later, ten years older, and the gang is still together!

Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), hanging out, growing older. Tallahassee considers himself now a father figure to Little Rock, who just wants to be in a relationship. She is now finished with puberty, older and alone.

And Columbus and Wichita are officially a couple, but they are going complacent. They are all just getting old together, by coincidence, and failing to grow anymore. So time for a shake up.

Speaking of shake ups, Zombies have evolved a bit too, and the regular is going out the window. A newer, stronger zombie is about to be a threat, and they are kind of not on their A-game anymore.

Also featuring newcomers Rosario Dawson, Thomas Middleditch, Avan Jogia, Zoey Deutch, and Luke Wilson.


Pink. 

I hope these words don’t seem terrible again in ten years, but Zombieland: Double Tap really entertained me. It had jokes that hit me in the right spots, fun new characters (versus the lack of characters in the first film), great visuals (which the first film did excel at as well, I will admit), but more importantly, more zombies and zombie related violence.

Now I will admit, the ending to the last film is very similar. Suddenly, large mass of zombies, overly long action that doesn’t make too much sense, and miraculous saves. Nothing on the level of the dumpster from The Walking Dead, but still high up there. At least it is more creatively done than the first film.

I was most entertained by the scenes with Middleditch and Wilson interacting with our crew. There is one zombie fight scene as part of that that uses the camera extremely well, long action shots, using the building, and was led up to with plenty of good jokes to keep me giddy. Hell, they were playing Magic the Gathering as well, go nerd it up.

There is a lot of improvement in this film, and, dare I say, reason for us to have another film in the future with a little bit less down time in between films. Now that we are exploring the world better, and seeing other survivors, it opens up a lot more humor potential and produce easy (if not obvious) plot lines in the future.

3 out of 4.

Angel Has Fallen

I am sure you are all hoping to see Angel Has Fallen for the same reason I am hoping to see Angel Has Fallen. That’s right, for Radha Mitchell to return to her role as worrying wife of our main protagonist. She is the star from the first two films who always shined.

Well, bad news for the Rad-heads out there. She is not in this movie! She has been replaced with Piper Perabo, who you would recognize as one of the girls from Coyote Ugly. Replaced, and they were thinking we wouldn’t even notice! The nerve!

But in all honest, I liked Olympus Has Fallen enough, it was good. I thought London Has Fallen was really, really, bad. The last time a movie dropped that much with a sequel and then came out with a third film we were given Taken 3. And no one needs or wants another Taken 3 to occur.

computer
I hope they were Taken notes.

Taking place within two years of the previous movie, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is still protecting the president after the events in London. His health has deteriorated, lot of injuries in his body and spine, sort of addicted to pain killers too. But hey, he’s doing it for the job, damn it. Oh and the president changed. The former Speaker of the House and VP, Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) was elected president! No, Aaron Eckhart never died, just finished his term and went off into the night.

Well, on a totally normal fishing weekend, some vans unleash a large army of tiny drones. The drones are not there to go pew pew, but BOOM BOOM, as they are kamikaze drones that pack a big explosive punch when they crash. So technically they are like, really smart missiles only, with cameras.

And these drones lay waste to the secret service people, but end up ignoring Banning. They also fail to get the President, who instead gets knocked into a coma, thanks to Banning’s work.

Unfortunately for Banning, the crime was filled with evidence to make it not only look like he did it, but that he took money from Russia to do it. So now he is the most wanted man for this crime, and despite his innocence, he figures he needs to elude the law and run around until he can prove his innocence that way.

Also starring Piper Perabo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Nick Nolte, Danny Huston, and Tim Blake Nelson.

assassin?
Baptisms have gotten more intense in this world.

Angel Has Fallen is better than London Has Fallen! I feel like this rarely happens. A movie has a terrible sequel, and then goes for a third film that is actually better. It’s not better than Olympus Has Fallen. Angel is still a pretty stupid movie, but it is more entertaining and follows a good moral code.

A lot of times when we get to the “oh man, they were set up and framed and now all their friends are after them!” part of a franchise, things take a weird grey area. In some movies, the “hero” then kills everything in his or her path to prove their innocence, even if it is colleagues from the FBI/CIA/Shield/Secret Organization. So they do a bunch of bad illegal things en route to prove their innocence. I am happy to say that this does not happen here. He kills only the bad organization, and goes out of his way to not harm the good guys who are just told to bring him in.

It is really an awkward thing to have to look out for.

Again, this movie is stupid. Plenty of terrible tactical decisions set up just to make the movie longer / more intense fight scenes, instead of just resolutions to our problems. The bad guy motives halfway through the film stop making sense when it is clearly time to give up. The introduction of Nolte’s character came out of left field with no reason to assume he’d be a character for three movies.

However, the action is better, the plot is a little bit better (not a lot, little), and it has plenty of entertaining scenes along the way. The twists and turns are extremely easy to guess, so it almost seems insulting to leave certain reveals so late in the film as if we weren’t paying attention.

And most importantly, it is miles above London Has Fallen. That’s all we really care about.

2 out of 4.

Captain Marvel

Here we are, the first “marvel” film of 2019, and maybe the last of them to be reviewed. Whoops.

Now technically, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a Sony movie. And maybe this will come out before Avengers: Endgame. It depends on if it finally breaks that damn record. I’m trying to hold out.

But let it be known, that damn it, I saw Captain Marvel opening weekend! I just didn’t write a lot in the spring and I am catching up. It’s not out of hate, or sexism, or anything like that. It is just I don’t want Disney to profit off of my reviews if I don’t get invited to see them early anymore.

Brie
Yes, this website is why Disney makes so much money. 
Kree good. Skrulls bad. That’s what Vers (Brie Larson) was taught. She is a warrior in the Kree kingdom, following the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening), trying to protect the galaxy and the universe. Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) is her mentor, and commander of their group of super soldiers. He looks out for her, but she is having problems unlocking her potential.

Either way, they know they need to stop the Skrulls. They can change shape and pretend to be other people! Anyone might be a Skrull, and it is important to have secret phrases to deal with the threat. Threats like Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), leader of the group of Skrulls and a threat to the Kree way of life, and other planets! They go to a planet, pretend to be the citizens, slowly take over, and boom, their planet.

This battle takes them all to planet Earth. It is important to note this is 12-13 years before the events of Iron Man, before Y2K wrecked house. And Vers, when she gets to Earth, is going to have even more memory problems than before, and has to work with local human security, like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) pre-eye patch, in order to stop the Skrull threat and unlock her true potential.

Also starring Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Lashana Lynch, Algenis Perez Soto, and Rune Temte.

Skrulls
I don’t know why they’d want to shapeshift. They don’t like green? Elphaba-syndrome much? 
Captain Marvel is fun and entertaining while also introducing a lot of backstory into the MCU. I bet you never knew you wanted to know how Nick Fury lost his eye, but once that question is answered, you’ll never be the same.

Danvers is a great and strong as fuck character. It has been awhile since we got a character that seemed like they could destroy the world if they wanted to. She has powers comparable and potentially surpassing Thor, Hulk, and Dr. Strange, who I’d put as the biggest three in the MCU. Scarlet Witch should be higher, but they have more downplayed her actual abilities while talking them up, and odd choice. But Captain Marvel has the power and the talk. She will fuck up all the shit.

Like a lot of other recent solo movies, this one failed to feel like it did a lot different than the other previous 20 movies to warrant a higher grade. 3s are great, and better than the occasional 2 these MCU movies can make.

Again, more importantly, this adds the Skrulls to the MCU, which are going to allow some bigger huge storylines in the future, especially if they want to kill more superheroes and it be okay.

3 out of 4.

Avengers: Endgame (Spoilers)

Here we are, months after the release of Avengers: Endgame, and I am now ready to post a review. Why the delay? Several reasons!

One, my review when it came out would not mean a damn thing. Who cares? Everyone who wants to see it will go see it, and I wouldn’t convince any one on any side to change their mind. No one was on the fence.

Two, I wanted to wait for it to beat Avatar‘s record. I don’t think it has yet, but I’m tired of waiting. It will break it will silly re-releases, so pretty disappointing.

And three, if I waited a long time, I could do a review with spoilers! Something I have never really done before. A spoiler review can be more specific, and hey, people can agree or disagree. So let’s get on it.

heroes
Together Each Achieves More.

Endgame takes place almost immediately after the events of Infinity War. Half the population is gone, many heroes. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is trapped in space. People are sad. But once Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) shows up, and they get their coordinates on, they all rush over to fuck over Thanos (Josh Brolin) and kill him. Hopefully also undo what he did. And it turns out they can’t. Infinity Stones are broken and gone, nothing can be done except sadness.

Five years later? Life is weird. Heroes are now fat (Chris Hemsworth). Hulks are now Professor Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Captain America (Chris Evans) is just trying to help people. But once Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is able to escape finally from the Quantum Realm, he is disgusted by what has occurred, and has ideas on how to fix what was undone. You know. With Time Travel.

Also starring…everybody. Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Letitia Wright, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Jon Favreau, Hayley Atwell, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Cobie Smulders, Sean Gunn, Winston Duke, Linda Cardellini, Frank Grillo, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, James D’Arcy, Jacob Batalon, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ty Simpkins, Robert Redford, Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Lexi Rabe, Ross Marquand, Kerry Condon, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ken Jeong, and Stan Lee

villains“Is that all you got?” Thanos, about the last paragraph, probably.

So sure, I gave Avengers: Endgame a 4 out of 4, despite being a non-perfect movie. Because it is an emotionally satisfying film. I cried, I cheered, I seized up with anticipation, I was serviced so much as a fan. It was a blast and the three hours flew by. The final battle had so many nice moments that were cool and can still be talked about today.

When Captain America was about to say Avengers Assemble, I remember bouncing in my seat for over 10 seconds, grabbing my wife’s arm and just ready to explode. That moment was necessary. It was beautiful.

And of course we lost characters, finally. Steve, despite feeling plot holey, got to live his regular life for once and die once his life was finally over. Tony sacrificed himself for the greater good, to finally fix all of his wrongs. Natasha had a fun suicide battle with Clint that we all knew were coming, and yet, the result was surprising given future movie’s coming out.

Most characters felt like they were given their proper moments to shine and showcase their power, especially the first big three of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. The throwbacks to previous films and their first fight in Avengers were nostalgic wet dreams.

And sure, a lot of might not be desired. Some newer, strong characters barely got screen time. Captain Marvel was mostly wasted (and despite the fun of the ladies of Marvel moment, it felt awkward because we know she needed zero help). Dr. Strange was left to be a defensive wizard. Of course a lot of this was done because these characters will have more time to shine in the future and are not mid swan song, but it technically also didn’t feel natural/necessary.

Honestly, a lot of the time stuff was silly. It probably could have been shortened a good amount, but again, it featured a ton of fun moments and also gave us the entrance for Loki’s future television show.

Torches were passed, heads were rolled, and franchises collided and will be changed in the future. I just hope this five year advance is handled with care and has a real significance to it. Spider-Man: Far From Home touched on it, but it didn’t go really in depth with it still. I am afraid they will mostly ignore these ramifications later in just a few movies.

Also I should note the forced disconnect of the TV shows and the movies is frustrating. All of the Netflix drama and Agents of Shield ruined us from having even more fun moments. I blame Ike.

4 out of 4.

Guest Review: The Lion King (Chris Smith)

1994’s The Lion King is one of my favorite movies of all time. Anyone who knew me as a child will tell you I watched it constantly. I remember having to buy a second VHS copy due to wearing the first one out. Because of this, I of course had high expectations for Disney’s remake.

These “live-action” remakes Disney has been making recently have varied wildly in quality. Some have been quite good (The Jungle Book). Some have been awful (Beauty and the Beast or Alice in Wonderland). Some have been bizarre (Maleficent). I regret to say that The Lion King is unfortunately one of the bad ones.


Simba can restore the pride lands, but he cannot restore this dumpster fire.

First let’s start with the positives, because there are a few. Timon and Pumbaa are delightful, maybe even more entertaining than in the original. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen nearly break their backs carrying the film from the minute they come on screen. Some of the other supporting characters are also fun. John Oliver is great as Zazu, while Alfre Woodard does a lot with little to work with as Sarabi. The hyena characters were expanded upon and given a truly sinister edge that I liked a lot.

The music (with some glaring exceptions) is also very good, capturing the same spirit of the original film, but with a cool spin. “Hakuna Matata” and the new expanded version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” were especially good.

Scar was also a highlight. He carries the appropriate amount of menace and I enjoyed the added bits of backstory give to him. Chiwetel Ejiofor is clearly going for a more Shakespearean bent to the character and I think it works well.

Lastly, the effects are gorgeous. The vast majority of the film is photorealistic and looks as if they just took a film crew to Sub-Saharan Africa to film. However, this is a double edged sword, and leads me to the negatives.

circleoflife
Clearly the best moment and all down hill after this.

Hoo boy where to begin? So let’s start with some nitpicks and go from there. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” is set during the day. That might not sound like a big deal, but it took me completely out of the movie. The whole time the song was playing (and the recording itself is great) I couldn’t stop saying to myself “But it’s broad daylight…” It’s the title of the song! One of the most famous love songs in Disney history! How do you make that decision?

Be Prepared” is just completely butchered. It’s very clear that when people heard it was being left out and people complained, they hastily put it in last minute. The tune is bad. The rendition is bad. The whole sequence is really bad and is the exact point in the film where I started to turn on the film completely.

There is also an original song here from Beyonce. I like Beyonce as an artist, but this song just completely sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s also not that good, especially by her standards.

I won’t get completely into plot details, but some changes made here and there are very odd and take some emotional power away in key scenes.

Lastly, but most importantly, the truly fatal flaw of this movie is also one of its strengths: the effects. Somewhere in pre-production, a decision was made by someone to make this movie truly photorealistic in every way, including the animal faces, so that at times it appears you’re looking at a nature documentary. For some scenes, such as the iconic (and still great) “Circle of Life” scene, this works amazingly well. However, the minute any dialogue scene occurs, especially ones requiring a lot of emotion, this decision literally kills the movie dead. Now I know it’s possible to animate realistic animal faces to show emotion. Disney themselves did it in their Jungle Book remake a few years ago. Here, the lack of expressiveness, especially with the lion characters, is definitely a purposeful decision.

The problem is that because the lions aren’t shown being that emotional, the voice actors are clearly having to tone down their performances to match. This is most clearly heard with James Earl Jones, where the difference in emotion between this film and the 1994 film is just staggering. Some of the actors still manage ok. Jones is still Jones so he’s not bad. Ejiofor manages a lot with subtle voice inflection. Donald Glover does a decent job. But for the most part, the lion characters fail to properly convey the weight of what we’re watching. The big test for me is the film’s ending. The original Lion King’s ending never fails to give me goosebumps. With this one, I felt nothing. That is nothing short of failure.

In short, go rewatch the original film this weekend instead. You’ll have a far better time.

2 out of 5.

Stuber

I imagine that if you want people to enjoy your movie, if you think you have made a fine piece of art, that you realize you need to convince them to spend money and go to see it. So you need posters, advertisements, interviews, screeners, whatever.

And part of the equation just has to be a good movie name. Something long an exciting, something that is visually appealing, just anything, right?

Stuber does nothing for me as a title. Nothing positive.

It screams like a movie I’d want to actively avoid, if I was a normal consumer. Only reason this review exists is because I was invited to watch it. If it was up to me, I would have probably avoided it forever, just on the title alone. Clever joke potential or anything aside, I just hate hate hate this title.

drive
Sitting up front? That means they feel DTT. Down To Talk.
Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is an Uber driver and a clerk at a sporting goods store. Yeah, big player. He isn’t even a great Uber driver, which is just his side gig to make more money. He is going to start a woman’s only spin cycle class with his BFF, Becky (Betty Gilpin), whom he is of course in love with.

Vic (Dave Bautista) has spent many months, years even, trying to bring down a drug kingpin named Teijo (Iko Uwais) in LA, bringing in the hard stuff, that heroin. After tragic events, he escapes and he still has to spend all of his waking moments thinking about Teijo. This puts a strain on his relationship with his daughter (Natalie Morales), and everyone in his life really.

Also he is getting old, and losing his eyesight. So he wants to get LASIK, which is great, minus the being blind-ish a few hours after the surgery. And that is of course when Teijo is finally able to get caught again, doing a big drug bust. Aw shucks. Good thing his daughter just taught him about Uber to get to her art show.

Also starring Karen Gillan, Mira Sorvino, Jimmy Tatro, Scott Lawrence, and Steve Howey.

sex
I often contemplate teaching my driver sex moves because I assume their lifestyle.
Now that I have seen the movie and I am past the title, I have to admit, the movie itself also does nothing for me.

Excessive violence can be okay, but the amount of excessive violence in this film never felt believable. It could be partially because of the cop’s blindness for most of the film, but he never feels like he is a great cop, detective, anything. He is a big body that can look intimidating, but Bautista never seems to really match the role given.

On the other side of the coin, Nanjiani is also goddamn terrible. It’d be one thing if he was some sort of perfectionist character who needs that 5 star rating to keep it perfect. But holy shit, he is a bad uber driver and it makes the whole thing uncomfortable. Since he is playing such a passive character, it is hard to root for him throughout the film, just so he can show some growth by the end. But the character is just insufferable for most of it.

In Stuber, the twists are lazy, the violence is easy, and the message is missing. Don’t be a bitch? Go excessively towards your goals at all costs? I have no idea. I just know it was a waste.

1 out of 4.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

First, Jake Gyllenhaal was announced to be Mysterio. Then they said it was only a rumor. Then they confirmed Gyllenhaal for Mysterio! Could it be? One of my favorite young-ish actors playing my favorite Spider-Man villain? Is this the best time line?

Well, real life tells me no, this is not. But Spider-Man: Far From Home is the end of Phase 3 of the MCU after the very big Avengers: Endgame. It knows it can’t be as big as that last movie, so it needs to something unique to close out the phase, to bring some aftermath closure.

But lets talk more about Gyllenhaal. First of all, this is not his first time playing a superhero! A lot of you have forgotten, but after Vincent Chase starred in the mega-hit Aquaman in the 2000’s, he decided to go against his contract and not film the sequel Gyllenhaal stepped in  and it was okay. But a lot of people don’t do good in their first superhero role. Just ask Ryan Reynolds!

Gyllenhaal
Oh my god, he is so dreamy.

Events after Endgame are wrecking with everyone’s lives. Some people grew for five years, others are in a changed world. A few of our heroes are now gone forever (really though?) and others need to step up. And Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is now still in high school. Can he be that hero? Can he be the new Iron Man?

Eh, life is hard, and the world is safe for now. So let’s go on vacation. It’s summer. He needs to grieve, he needs to be a kid, he needs to put Spider-Man for awhile. He wants to woo MJ (Zendaya) off of her feet in Paris. Paris?! Yeah, a school trip to visit science places in Europe, with his best friends and frenemies. Good, no villains in Italy.

What’s that? Weird large elementals, destroying parts of Europe? Apparently they came from some other dimension. Maybe some time warp after all the infinity nonsense? All we know is that Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) has fought these elementals before, seems to be able to defeat them, and came from an Earth that killed his entire planet. Sad times. Maybe he can be our new Iron Man?

Also starring Angourie Rice, Jon Favreau, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Marisa Tomei, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove, Tony Revolori, and of course, Jacob Batalon.

mysterio
Who was this movie about? Mysteriooooooooo.

Spidey, Spidey, Spidey. What cha gonna do? What cha gonna do when they rely on you?

Far From Home does not pull as close to as many punches as Endgame, and not even on an emotional level. I didn’t cry. It was a relatively safe movie, very local, and on its own doesn’t fully feel like a closure to Phase 3. It does help explain some of the post-snap snafu and that is nice. It moves Peter’s story on and that is nice.

What it does well is when it goes really full Mysterio. This master illusionist going off on illusions was really cool. That is something comics and cartoons can do with ease, but in a movie? Well, it worked well. I wish we got to see Bruce Campbell do it in the 2000’s, but that is okay. Gyllenhaal was great in what he needed to do, but it is not his best acting either.

Now I have a big gripe with the mid credits scene. No spoilers. It is probably the best mid or post credit scene in this films history. It is amazing. And it is important. It really should have ended the main film pre-credits and not be seen as an extra. I know all of the credit scenes count as the film, but for purists, really, give me that moment before the credits role. Let the closure be real. Don’t make it extra.

Spider-Man: Far From Home will do well, and honestly, probably should have come out a little bit later. People are still riding a post Endgame high. Their endorphins have not been superhero reset, and overall it is a decent superhero movie without reaching the better heights.

Sorry Gyllenhaal. Please do more hero work.

3 out of 4.

Men In Black: International

Before I get too far into this review of Men In Black: International, I will remind you of what could have been. What we were promised and then what was taken away from us.

In the mid 2010’s, we were told that we would get a cross over movie with 21 Jump Street and the Men in Black franchise. It seemed so absurd and brilliant at the same time, I know I loved it. It would work out so nicely, it would help get MIB back on its feet and be crazy territory for Jump Street. It was somehow original to smash two things that already existed together. But plans fell through, and we instead just got another MIB.

Now the first MIB will always hold a place in my heart, whereas the sequel will always be forgotten. And the third one felt like a good return, missing some great details, but definitely on the right path. But it clearly didn’t lead to more, as this is a sort of reboot/reimagining anyways.

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Suck it aliens, its blasting time. 
When Molly (Tessa Thompson) was a little girl, she saw an alien. Well, something cute landed near her house and in her room. And while her parents were getting the eye wash sequence from some dudes wearing darks in the street, but she was safely asleep upstairs. Since then, she was determined to be the best person she could be. Smarts, athletic talent, whatever it takes, to work with these soldiers in suits because the truth is so goddamn out there and she wants to meet goddamn aliens.

Ahem. And one day, she finally tracks them down, surprisingly. And Agent O (Emma Thompson) sees she has gumption, so she takes her in on a probationary setting. And then send her far away to London where shit is going weird. Agents H (Chris Hemsworth) and Agent High T (Liam Neeson) are kicking ass, and she is going to maybe get to the bottom of it.

While also learning a lot about aliens and kicking butt herself of course. Oh I hope nothing is going on wrong in Europe.

Also starring Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Furguson, and Rafe Spall.

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Some would say this is just a movie of progressively bigger guns being shot. 
Unfortunately for everyone involved, and especially true for us watchers of fine cinema, this addition to the franchise feels more like the sequel than the first film. And I do mean that in the forgettable sense, because if I wanted to talk about this film with other people, I would mention a few negatives and struggle to talk about any great moment.

They desperately wanted an alien to be a sidekick in this movie, of which Nanjiani was the voice, and it went over about as well as any sidekick that merely exists for laughs. They JarJar’d him.

Early on during fight scenes I noticed a few errors in the scenes, with characters being in the wrong place based on the cut and it seemed to happen way more than normal. Shit, I almost never ever talk about the editing, as it would be something I don’t notice. And it never really gets better.

This is the sort of film where the comedy mostly falls flat, the action falls flat, only one alien life form seems to be unique and interesting, an ending that is resolved very quickly despite the perceived threat, and of course plot twists that anyone can determine early on. The type of twist that is “Oh, it is setting it up for this twist. I wonder how this is a red hearing now?” And then… stick with the obvious twist the whole time.

None of the actors and actresses of this film stick their head above the rest enough to save the movie, and it is instead just a film I wish didn’t end up existing in the end.

1 out of 4.

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