Bilal: A New Breed of Hero

Bilal: A New Breed of Hero gets to be the first animated film released in America in 2018! Yay Bilal!

It gets to go up there with the likes of great films like…Norm of the North. Oh goodness, that is not a good list at all.

From the occasional trailer, Bilal looks like the sort of animated film that might actually have a unique and interesting plot. But because it looks so terrible, it also will have no one wanting to go out and see it.

Kid
Still good to have non white people in animated films.

Our story is of course about a kid/grown up dude, named Bilal (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). He wants to be a great and wonderful warrior when he grows up. But for now, he is just a kid, with his sister (Cynthia Kaye McWilliams) and mother. And then their little home gets attacked. His mother is killed, and the kids are sold into slavery.

He has to become a hard working slave, getting whipped, growing up with nothing. All of that jazz. Eventually he is sold to the richer trader around, Umayya (Ian McShane), who is of course ruthless and dickish. He has a son that is a similar age who decides that he does not like Bilal having opinions or morals. Every time he stands up for another, Bilal gets knocked down again.

This is based on a real story, meaning it is at least a famous story in some parts of the world. Whether the events are real or not, who knows.

But I think you know that Bilal is going to Gandhi this shit up until everything works out nicely, right?? Right.

Also featuring the voices of Thomas Ian Nicholas and Mick Wingert.

Evil
¨Damn slaves, not just being emotionless obeying robots!”- Him, probably.

I have written a lot about good and bad animated films over the last year, unfortunately more of them have been bad. This is my first look at animated films of 2018 and frankly, it definitely disappointed me on many levels.

Again, this could be an amazing story by giving us different cultures, strong willed characters and not falling into silly tropes. It it is trying to appeal to the family, not just the kid. But it just seemed to drag on and on.

And honestly, the animation style did not help. The film constantly looked like a cut scene of a PS2 game, and it made watching it feel already dated.

This is not the best start animated films in 2018 could have wanted. Not by a long shot.

1 out of 4.

Tour De Pharmacy

A couple years ago, I saw an ad for 7 Days in Hell while using HBO and I was instantly drawn in. I had to watch that movie RIGHT AWAY and review it ASAP. It looked magicial, and really, it was.

I didn’t know it was so short, only 40 minutes. I didn’t know it was to poke fun at the ESPN documentary series. But I went in, it was short, but I still called it a film and had an okay review.

And now years later, I saw an ad for Tour De Pharmacy. This time I was older, a bit wiser, a bit smarter, and a bit less repetitive. I knew what I was getting in to, and thus I was excited. Why can’t lightning hit twice?

Bikes
And look, we have more athletes now than a single tennis match!

Tour De Pharmacy tells the story of the 1982 Tour De France, and all of the bizarre happenings that occurred during the race. Including the first time that someone died on the race!

Due to plot reasons, a lot of bicyclists in the race ended up getting eliminated really early on, as it turned out they paid bribes in order to avoid being drug tested. Like, a lot, a lot. As in, only five bikers remained.

We had Slim Robinson (Daveed Diggs / Danny Glover), nephew of Jackie Robinson, who wanted to be the first black athlete in some sport, so he was the first black athlete to compete in the Tour De France! There was Adriana Baton (Freddie Highmore / Julia Ormond), the first woman to compete in the race, but no one knew it at the time, as she pretended to be a man in order to qualify. There is also Marty Hass (Andy Samberg / Jeff Goldbloom), who is actually the first African to compete in the race. Yes he is white, and was an aristocrat, and it pisses off a lot of people that he has taken that first away.

The other two members of the pack were Juju Pepe (Orlando Bloom), a native Frenchman and actual famous bike rider, and Gustav Ditters (John Cena / Dolph Lundgren), a giant muscle man who didn’t fit the normal physiques that one would expect from a bicyclist. Along for the ride is Rex Honeycut (James Marsden), a journalist who will bike alongside the pack, in order to give in person interviews as the race happens!

This also features a slew of other actors, some playing themselves, to tell the story of the 1982 Tour De France: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kevin Bacon, Lance Armstrong, Maya Rudolph, Mike Tyson, Will Forte, and narrated by Jon Hamm.

Cena
The more arm muscles have, the faster you go on a bike. It’s fucking science!

If you liked 7 Days in Hell, you will like this movie! If you didn’t, you won’t. Pretty simple. Of course, a whole mess of you might not have seen the first one, so I still have to talk.

Honestly, this is just an absurd parody movie, I love it. It is short, so some of their jokes and moments don’t ever get to go into depth, and that is probably where it excels. After all, there is only so much stupid stuff they can throw in it before a viewer might get tired of it all. I think it was just the right length and zany to amuse the shit out of me, possible amuse the shit out of me over multiple viewings.

Now, despite that? Yeah, there are still some dull parts as well. The film even comments on it, as there were long boring stretches in the actual race that caused viewership to drop tremendously, in the fictional recounting. Making it meta and commenting on the progressiveness however, still didn’t do it for me.

Also, well fucking done Lance Armstrong. His role as hidden informant was a joke that just kept on giving, it surprisingly never got stale. All of the cameos were pretty funny.

Tour De Pharmacy is a relatively smart and quick laugh thrill ride, with only a few moments of slowed traffic to catch your breath.

3 out of 4.

Suicide Squad

I wasn’t always scowling at Suicide Squad. When they first announced it, well, I guess I had to google it just to find out what it was. Villains having to save the day. Sure, alright, cool.

What really made me excited is that Tom Hardy was signed on to play a role in the film! It was stoked. Then he left. Oh, okay. But then they got Jake Gyllenhaal to replace him! Oh shit, yeah! Good going! And then he turned it down as well. Fuck. What in the. Okay okay, then they got Joel Kinnaman, which does nothing for me. But I didn’t get annoyed at the film yet.

No, what really killed me is that during filming there were almost daily “leaks” from the set, or quick glimpses from a random persons twitter, or whatever. Too much hype can really bring down a ship, and I hate a constant bombardment of advertisements. Not only that, but of course we have Jared Leto as his edgy Joker, maybe as the villain, maybe on the team, I have no clue. I just know that he was “method acting” and kept giving all of his cast mates shit, playing pranks and what not, to get into character. Honestly, he sounded like he was being an asshole.

That is what made me frown and choose to ignore the pre-screening. That is why I didn’t want to wait hours just to see it. I knew it would wait. I don’t care how good the trailers for it were, because Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman both had amazing trailers and yet they were disappointments. So that is where I am coming from for this film.

Katana
So here is a non asshole character and a non asshole actress, giving someone a new asshole.

The US Government is starting to get scared. What if another Superman shows up, but this time, he isn’t friendly? They need to have a task force to bring them down, preferably some of their own strong people who are under their control. Well, they don’t have any, or at least they don’t have any that they can force to work for them. So Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), vague government official, decides that their team will be made up of criminal metahumans, who they have leverage over and who they can kill without too much of a worry.

So she gathers her team. Like Deadshot (Will Smith), who never misses. Like Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who…looks like a human crocodile for some reason. There is El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a former gang member who can control and make fire, but has since atoned for his crimes. Someone named Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) who can…throw a boomerang really good and piss people off? And Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), who has actually no powers at all and really shouldn’t fit this metahuman role they are crafting.

But that is just one prison. She has the mystical heart of the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), an ancient being trapped in an archaeologist’s body who has to obey her commands. Her main field officer, Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) is in love with her as well. And there is Slipknot (Adam Beach), who can apparently climb anything, where his climbing is metahuman levels or something. Finally, there is Katana (Karen Fukuhara), who wields a sword that captures the soul of those it kills. She isn’t even a baddie, she is just helping out while occasionally avenging her husband’s death.

Either way. Shit quickly goes down right after forming the team, good timing. And they are forced to help out of course to clean up a mess that is basically started thanks to the team forming in the first place. Hooray!

And yeah, Ike Barinholtz plays a dick guard, David Harbour a random government official, and some Jared Leto Joker nonsense.

Captain Boomerang
And drinking on the job, I guess that is Boomerang’s other power.

Suicide Squad ended up being a mess of a movie, from beginning to end. The characters, the plot, the pacing, all come together beautifully to make this disaster of a film.

They explain that the Suicide Squad is set up to stop a Superman like being from dominating the world and battling him with other superhumans. Sure, fine. Now explain why Harley Quinn, described entirely as a wild card, on the team? Why is Captain Boomerang? The only ones that seem to have any amount of actual power and ability are the Enchantress, whom yes, is the main villain, and El Diablo, who barely uses his powers. Deadshot and Katana have some sort of powers or gadgets that make them above average, and Killer Croc is basically a mutant, but they are all just really good fighters. And what in the fuck, Slipknot? Can climb anything? Not even power based, but using gadgets? A complete waste of a character and has no purpose in this film (and the filmmakers must have known that).

Harley Quinn is actually in this film just so we can have a Joker connection. When I say “for whatever reason,” the reason ends up being so the writers can move the plot forward without thinking things through. She is there just to be chaos and her character has no point. Sure she is a scene stealer, because they give her the camera time and the personality. And she magically has a cell phone so that the Joker can intervene as well, how helpful.

Katana is an interesting character. The Enchantress should have been an interesting character. El Diablo was an interesting as fuck character. Captain Boomerang was very amusing and should have been able to do something in this movie to not feel so pointless. But these characters are not expanded upon enough, because it is not actually an ensemble film. It is all Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Amanda Waller.

El Diablo
I picked these three as my pictures as the more interesting characters who didn’t have a lot of time to be important.

So the pacing is also whack. Bad things start happening in Midway City (certainly not New York City). Big portals, scary stuff, mass death. And we find out before they get to the big baddie that it has been three days since it has started. Three days! So little fucks given from anyone in the world, including The Flash and Batman, which are established characters in this film and movie universe.

When they show up and finally confront our villain, oh hey, their spell had just finished and now the world can be destroyed. Your timing is terrible, unless they decided to just wait to finish it until their loved ones were all dead first.

There could have been a good movie in Suicide Squad. It needed to not have earth ending events though, given the people we know who could have saved the day. It needed small scale disasters that actually made sense for the team to accomplish. It needed to not have such a messy plot and so many unnecessary flash backs. And it certainly didn’t need repeat what BvS ended up doing. Killing off a character and ending it with a just kidding. Two films in a row in the same universe? That is far worse than Marvel.

1 out of 4.

Trumbo

Trumbo! The great white buffalo! Of the main acting awards, this is the final film I needed to see to complete the categories.

I missed it when it came out in November, because, I dunno, I was busy or something. I didn’t care to see it. I figured it wouldn’t get nominated, no matter how much I like Bryan Cranston.

But hey, he did get nominated for best actor. And with a mustache! It is basically what Johnny Depp was doing with Mortdecai. That is the movie in 2015 he wanted to win Best Actor for right? I can’t think of any other film.

Erm. Trumbo! True story! Communists! Time to party! Red Party.

Bribe
That’s a communist joke and damn it, that is probably a communist dress too.

Back to Trumbo, or Dalton Trumbo (Cranston) as everyone everywhere calls him. He lives a good life. He is one of the most successful writers in Hollywood. He has contracts with movie studios to write exclusively for them, meaning that his family can live a nice life. That is of course his wife (Diane Lane), main daughter (eventually Elle Fanning) and two other kids who we don’t care about.

But he has a secret. A very vocal secret. He cares about the rights of the workers. Any workers technically, but specifically the Hollywood workers who don’t make money and should make more instead of the Hollywood fat cats. He is a…a…a…COMMUNIST. And there are a bunch of them too. This is now the late 40s and people are starting to get afraid of the Commies, thanks to the Russians and the coldness of their threats. So they try and round up all the communists in Hollywood and KILL THEM! No, not kill them, but black list them. Refuse to let them work in movies ever again. After all, if they are writing their movies, they could be putting subliminal communist things into mainstream America and fuck us from the inside! That would be terrifying.

And Trumbo is about how this man and his friends decided to try and fight for their first amendment rights. And to work despite the blacklist through aliases, friends, or by boldly ignoring the threats of others. Guess how many Oscars Trumbo won while black listed? Three. He was basically penning the “Fuck The Police” song well before the boys in Straight Outta Compton.

And of course we have more people in this movie: John Goodman and Stephen Root are brothers who make a shit ton of B movies. David James Elliott plays JOHN WAYNE. Louis C.K. is a fellow writer commie, Alan Tudyk is a fellow writer, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is a prison man, and Helen Mirren and Michael Stuhlbarg fuck some shit up.

Press
It is rumored that Cranston was able to grow out the ‘Stashe in just 3 minutes.

Despite my wildly successful movie watching lifestyle, I am super behind on almost everything before 1990. I only barely have the 80’s covered, and everything before that is pitiful. So if I can watch a modern movie telling me about movies back in the day, I consider it a win. I have never seen Roman Holiday or The Brave One, but you bet your ass I have seen Spartacus. Getting to hear behind the scenes stories of how these films were written and what they had to do to hide Trumbo’s name was fascinating. It is probably the sexiest thing I have ever heard of when talking about 1950’s Hollywood writers.

Cranston gave a pretty good performance. I am not willing to call it incredible. I saw a lot of Cranston that I have seen in other roles, and I never really saw someone other than himself. I didn’t feel like he ever fully transformed into the man he was playing, not even when he was sitting in the bathtub. I can say it was my least favorite of the Best Actor nominee performances, and would probably rather someone like Steve Carell or Mark Ruffalo from Infinitely Polar Bear.

C.K. and Lane both did excellent jobs with their supporting characters, although Lane wasn’t given a lot to work with.

Story wise, again, there were a lot of interesting moments, but I will say I got confused a few times at a lot of the extra characters, who they were supposed to be, whose side people were on, and just why they were relevant. There are a lot of extra characters here with important roles, too many to list and name, and yeah. I can’t remember most of them. Thankfully it was only small bits of confusion and I could still easily grasp the main points of the story.

3 out of 4.

Concussion

Head injuries are serious things. Because your brain is your most important organ. You can’t survive without your brain, so things that hurt your brain are literally the worse. And vague things like concussions become scary nightmares.

These may sound like facts, but that is because your brain is telling you they are. If you asked any organ what was the most important organ in a body, they would name themselves. What games are you playing, Brain? Making us do shit to appease you? I’m on to you.

So, Concussion. A film about head trauma and the NFL. The NFL supposedly didn’t like this movie to protect their players from hearing about the probably brain problems they may have in life. Yay controversy. It definitely sells tickets.

Science
Science used to sell tickets on its own merit.

Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) is a smart man, and you should most definitely listen to him. He has like, seven degrees, both PhD and masters levels. He is smarty smarty smart. And he is generally a coroner, finding out big mysteries as to why people die.

Omalu ends up getting quite a strange case in his current city of Pittsburgh. Mike Webster (David Morse) is a famous ex-center for the Steelers, loved by everyone in the city, and now he is dead. He was having some issues near the end, going a bit crazy, alienating his friends and family.

Needless to say, Omalu spends a lot of time figuring things out. His brain had deteriorated and no one could explain it. Eventually, science happens everywhere, and he determines it must be due to the thousands of small (And large) blows to his head. Blows accumulated through youth play, high school, college, over a decade in the NFL, and of course practices for all these things. He had tiny concussions and they lead to problems most people just described as early Alzheimer’s.

This is bad news for the NFL, so they ignore the crap out of his results, make him seem like a liar, and bury him in the media. Yay PR machines.

Also featuring Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Eddie Marsan, Mike O’Malley, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Luke Wilson.

Doctor
He is making that face because Luke Wilson is playing Roger Goodell.

Speaking of selling tickets, to promote this movie, Columbia promised free tickets to any NFL players who wanted to see it in theaters. After all, they have a lot of twitter and instagram followers, so that is free press. I have two problems with that. One, NFL players make shit tons of money, even the bench riders. They can afford a movie ticket. And two, they should have offered it to High School or College players, people who make no money from the sport and are young enough to get out of it if they are truly worried about saving lives with this film. Columbia went for the cheap and shit route.

Now, the good news about this movie is that Will Smith actually acts. He isn’t just playing a cool version of himself or an action version of himself. He is playing a foreign (African) doctor, who doesn’t care about football or American things, just science. It was great to watch him actually try after seeing Focus and v.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie fails to live up to its subject matter or potential. According to news reports, the NFL was involved heavily in the editing of this film. The filmmakers didn’t have rights to NFL press reports or team names/logos, or any of that. In order to make it seem more realistic, they wanted all this in the film. So they had to offer concessions and leave parts out in order to get the logos. So the NFL helped make this film and now they don’t get attacked as hard.

Do they still look bad? Sure, but they come across as unrealistic cartoon villains, not actual bad real live people. The film doesn’t go strong on the science, strong on the PR campaign, strong on anything but Smith’s accent. And now we are left with a mostly boring and pointless film that won’t change anyone’s minds when they are facing potential millions.

1 out of 4.

Annie

Welcome back to Musical Week!

The realest reason for Musical Week is that this December had two musicals coming out only a week apart, which meant I only had to find 3 more. Into The Woods was yesterday, and Annie is today!

When I first heard there was an Annie remake, I was mostly indifferent. I didn’t know if we needed a new one, but hey okay. But when I heard she wouldn’t be a tap dancing ginger, but a BLACK GIRL? I was still mostly indifferent. At least there was a change for the remake so that it wasn’t just rehashed material. It would allow them to do a more modern version, not one set in the way back early times.

But then I saw the first trailer. I knew something was weird and different and off from it. And it is an unfortunate change. But one I will clickbait tactic and wait to talk about at the end of the review.

Rooftop Dance
And it isn’t just that when I do this dance, I always look like I have to take a pouty poop.

Little Orphan Annie (Quvenshane Wallis). No, wait, fuck that. She is just a foster kid, not an orphan. She has parents, she just doesn’t know who they are or when they will be back for her. She just knows that maybe, one day, she will see them on a Friday night at a local Italian restaurant eating cannolis.

But while being chased one day by some jerks, she falls in the street and almost gets run over! But thankfully, a man is there to pick her up and chastise her. That man is Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), the owner of a NYC based phone company that is hugely successful, so he is totally rich, and he is also running for mayor! He isn’t doing that great though. He is super behind. Well, footage goes out of him saving Little Foster Girl Annie on the internets, which gives him a bump up. His campaign manager (Bobby Cannavale) convinces him that if he temporarily takes Annie in and make him seem more charitable.

Annie is a free going individual who understands this is just for publicity, and she is cool with that. Getting to live in a rich house for a few weeks? Hells yeah. She doesn’t want him for a dad anyways, she wants her real parents, who will totally come eventually. Maybe tomorrow even. Or the tomorrow after that.

What could go wrong? Also featuring Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz, David Zayas, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Stephanie Kurtzuba.

Finale
No, trust me, I counted them. Definitely 76 trombones.

Let’s talk about…pop music. Some of it is good, a lot can be bad, even more of it is catchy. That is what this version of Annie is, for the most part. Just pop music broadway. And that is my major complaint. The songs don’t feel as natural as musicals usually strive for. It didn’t have that extra bellow or personality behind the notes that made me care about the lyrics and not just nod my head to a tune. Kids in general like all kinds of music, so a different sound to all of the sounds doesn’t feel warranted.

This is the second thing I have seen Wallis in, the first being Beasts Of Southern Wild, which I kind of hated. She is fine as Annie. She really is. She has charisma and she is charming and she carries that strong independent feeling with her the whole movie.

Everyone else? Ehhh. Byrne did decent. Diaz only annoyed me.

And Foxx. Come on, Foxx. I know you can sing. I remember Gold Digger quite vividly. Was your role in that song fake? I am starting to believe it. You had passion in your lines and feeling in your voice. Every song with Jaime Foxx is terrible. His voice is ridiculously soft for most of them, so I felt like I had to strain to hear him and there is just nothing of substance behind any of them. I kind of felt he was just talking his lines. Maybe they accidentally put in the mumble take? They are just down right terrible.

But you know what bugs me the most? The finale, when they re-did Tomorrow? Despite how terrible I thought the music was in the movie and thus how bad the movie was, it still made me tear up. Just a little bit. Great lyrics can do that. Balloons help.

So who is to blame for this? Will Smith and Jay-Z. They are producers, must be their fault.

1 out of 4.

Pompeii

How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

That is the question I ask myself, heading off to see Pompeii. But first, maybe some back story!

When I was an undergrad, I majored in Geology and History, with a focus on Ancient Rome. Clearly, the perfect crossover for research on both subjects would be in Pompeii, Italy, where Mt. Vesuvius exploded in 79 AD, wiping out an entire city and basically freezing them in place like statues. It is perhaps my FAVORITE historical event ever and I have been waiting forever for a movie version of it.

Unfortunately, Hollywood has churned out a few “historical” tales lately and they have been some of the worst movies I have ever seen. I am looking at you, The Legend Of Hercules! So, no, I don’t know how I will be an optimist about this.

Eko
Mr. Eko, why must you die in everything?

Hmm, where do we begin? The rubble or the sins? The sins of course! The rubble is the second half!

Pompeii is a strange movie in that we already know how it ends. Everyone dies right? Huge explosion. It is sort of like a disaster movie, but also a historical film. They have an advantage here too, where they can kind of just tell any story they want to and then end with everyone dying and no one can say they are wrong.

In this story, a Roman Senator, Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland) in 62 AD takes out an entire Celtic village who were showing resistance for a trade route, with his bodyguard Proculus (Sasha Roiz). Well, they missed a kid, who later gets caught my slavers, and 17 years later he is now a really good fighter. He was trained as a gladiator, because why not.

As luck would have it, this Celt, Milo (Kit Harrington) is packaged up from his small time market and sent to the bigger leagues in Pompeii! There a lot of coincidences happen, such as meeting the fair Cassia (Emily Browning), basically a Pompeian princess. Her parents (Jared HarrisCarrie-Anne Moss) want to expand Pompeii with Roman money, so they have to put on a show for a senator, which just so happens to be Corvus.

So, Milo is in the same city with the people who murdered his whole tribe! Too bad he has to also fight Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who is about to earn his freedom if he gets one last victory.

Oh, and of course, while all of the human stuff is happening, Mt. Vesuvius decides to get its boom boom on and explode for a ridiculously long time, causing a lot of destruction. During the climactic finale, the walls kept tumbling down in the city that we learned to love. There were great great clouds that rolled over the hills, bringing darkness from above.

Then a lot of people died.

Sutherland
Oh look, Kiefer is in a movie where shit is going down in less than a day. Huh.

I was left to my own devices to really analyze this movie.

So let’s start with the story! Gladiator redemption is always a nice story to choose, just like in Spartacus and Gladiator. Most of those movies give our heroes a lot more time to work with, in terms of training, and battles, and eventual redemption, so time was the real enemy here given the explosive finale. I think it did a decent job at conveying it all quickly, with the appropriate motivation for most of our main characters. The battle scenes themselves were generally pretty awesome, although some felt a little bit too close to Gladiator.

The effects from the volcano were also decent, not amazing, just decent. During the ending, it became more of a hindrance as there were possibly “too many effects” going on at once, that it all felt choppy and a bit blurry, so that was disappointing.

In terms of acting and dialogue, it kind of went all over the place. A few scenes felt repetitive and the quick love didn’t feel right to me. Sutherland appeared to actually be acting in this movie, so he stood out more than normal playing the pompous jerk.

I think it would have been a sexier movie if they added some other historical relevant material. Maybe a cameo involving the only real story we know associated with this eruption with Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger.

Overall, Pompeii didn’t blow me out of the water as much as I hoped it would. I am also grateful that it didn’t poop all over the walls either. I plan on visiting Pompeii in my life, hopefully sometime in the next year. When I get there, I hope I can just close my eyes and have it almost feel like I have been there before. But until then, I can only speculate and use this film as a source for how it might have felt.

Eh. Eh oh. Eh oh.

2 out of 4.

Thor: The Dark World

I have a confession to make. I really really enjoyed the first Thor movie. I enjoyed it far more than everyone else I know.

It gets a lot of negative attention compared to the other Phase 1 Marvel films, and personally I disagree. I enjoyed it probably the third most out of all of the films, after The Avengers and Iron Man. It had comedy, it had action, it had Norse mythology, and well, it had Thor. Like a lot of people my age, I first heard about the God of Thunder from watching Adventures in Babysitting, which lead to discovering the Marvel version. I think that film was received as well only because he wasn’t as well known as the rest of the Phase 1 heroes.

So, Thor: The Dark World has an upward battle to climb.

lOVERS
“But we will make that climb, together, brother!” – Loki, in a very specific genre of Thor fanfiction.

This film takes place just as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is proving why he deserves the “Mighty” adjective, by bringing peace again to The Nine Realms after the Bifröst was destroyed in the first film. He has been very busy, and could not return to Earth except for exceptional circumstances for that reason.

Unfortunately the Convergence is about to occur, where the nine realms line up perfectly. It happens every 5000 years, and causes all of the realms to be a bit wonky, creating portals to each other and messing with gravity/physics. It has also awakened an old threat, King Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) of the Dark Elves, who tried to destroy the universe at the last Convergence. He used an ancient magic source called the Aether, which has been hidden for thousands of years. But guess who found it? Oh that meddling Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her team (Kat Dennings, Jonathan Howard)!

At the same time, monarchy based drama in Asgard is occurring, as Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Frigga (Rene Russo) are planning on making Thor the next king, given the recent actions of Loki (Tom Hiddleston). But Thor’s love for a mortal is worrisome, and a cause for concern that he might be focusing too much of his attention on just one realm.

It isn’t too bad for Thor I guess. He just has to save his very fragile love from the powers of the Aether, watch out for Loki while he is imprisoned in Asgard, deal with potential enemies on all sides, and try to stop an ancient race from destroying the universe. Probably just another Wednesday for him.

Thor: The Dark World features a whole lot of other actors, including the returns of Sif (Jaime Alexander), Heimdall (Idris Elba), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and The Warriors Three (Ray StevensonZachary LeviTadanobu Asano). Well, Asano really wasn’t in this movie much, and Levi replaced Josh Dallas, but hey, Stevenson is still there! Also introducing Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the second in command to Malekith.

Puddies?
Also, the Dark Elves in general reminded me of really strange Putties.

One thing I learned from watching Thor: The Dark World is that Chris Hemsworth definitely helped cement himself as the only man who can play the God of Thunder. Over the summer, huge contract negotiations were taking place between Hemsworth and Marvel, the latter who claimed that they don’t need him in The Avengers 2:Age of Ultron, they could just hire someone else, and refused to budge. Well, eventually they budged, thanks to the help of Robert Downey Jr., so presumably both sides reached a worthwhile agreement.

Thor: The Dark World more or less gave me everything I wanted in a sequel movie, expanding on a lot of areas that the first film established. It still has the same level of comedy, so we aren’t just dealing with a serious space fantasy drama. The chemistry between Hemsworth, Portman, and Hiddleston is electric, allowing the story to flow just a little bit better. The film also takes place a lot more off Earth compared to the first film, allowing the use of new landscapes and helping separate the franchise from the rest of the Avengers movies.

The does come with a downside, however. With a lot of the film set off world, we are given many more scenes that are heavily CGI’d in order to create the scene, which gets tiresome after awhile. I’d like more of it to be grounded in areas that aren’t created by green screens.

My biggest issue from the film actually has to do with the editing. I found the scene transitions really distracting, as on more than one occasion it felt like we were cut far too quickly to another scene, almost cutting off lines by the characters. We weren’t always allowed the appropriate time to even acknowledge what was just said, before having to focus our attention elsewhere. It made the pace of the film seem a bit off to me, and not what I would expect from a film at this scale.

Most likely Thor: The Dark World won’t get anywhere as close to touching the amount of money that Iron Man 3 brought in. I hope that doesn’t detract Marvel Studios from eventually bringing us more Thor outside of The Avengers.

This film had an excellent amount of drama, action, and comedy to help create a fantastic theater experience, but has some technical aspects that distract me from giving it that perfect rating overall.

 

3 out of 4.

Bullet To The Head

You gotta shoot ’em in the head. It is the only way to be sure. It is definitely a great statement for anyone who finds that they are stuck in an action movie or video game! Bullet To The Head takes that message and runs with it, basically making a whole movie around that simple(?) life rule.

Booze Hound
Another is to always bring your own booze to the bar.

Our “hero” is named Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) and — hey, wait, no, come back here. Yes his name is stupid, but let’s give him a chance. He isn’t really a hero, he is a hitman who has had problems with the law his whole life, all over the country. But now he lives in New Orleans, and just completed a job with his partner Louie (Jon Seda). But when they go to get paid, it is a set up! Louie is left dead, and Jimmy is left mad.

Turns out the guy they killed was an ex cop too. A scum bag, but still former cops have former partners, and his is Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) who has flown in to investigate. But all he can find on his own is Mr. Scumbag up there, who shoots more people in the head than there are provinces in Canada. These two drastically different individuals have to team up to get retribution, but it will be pretty hard when they can’t stop shooting each other as well.

Also starring Christian Slater and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the bad guys, Jason Momoa as hitman, and Sarah Shahi as the daughter.

Vikings
Oh fuck yes, axe fight.

Surprisingly enough, Bullet To The Head is based on a french graphic novel and not a dream by Stallone. I had a lot that I disliked about the movie, and found them exemplified by what the men in charge had to say about it.

“[This] is exactly the type of fast-paced, universally themed project that suits our business model” – Production team. Unfortunately, the movie felt pretty slow. An awful lot of time was given to a plot that wasn’t good, meaning tons of downtime in between fight scenes. Half of these “plot scenes” consisted of Stallone being racist towards Kang. Fun fact, the graphic novel had a white guy, but they brought in Kang to appeal to a wider audience, so all of that specific acist dialogue was just for the movie.

Stallone had enough control over the movie to fire the original director because the director’s version of the film was darker than Stallone had wanted. This left us instead with a strange action movie (that had no problem killing/exploding dozens of men) with Stallone trying to be funny while transitioning between fights. Too bad the humor didn’t work for the most part.

Aside from that, there are other problems I had with the characters themselves. Adewale was a land tycoon, who claimed to never trust people who didn’t do things for money. Those are his last words, as he yells them to a man who is actually killing him (gasp) for the money. Completely nonsensical.

I actually liked John Momoa as the other hit man. His actions didn’t seem to fit his character description, but at least he had interesting fight scenes.

I found myself laughing more at the ridiculousness of scenes that were supposed to be serious, and fighting off sleep during the rest of the film.

1 out of 4.

Faster

For world building purposes in movies I generally like it if the characters have last names. Just makes it feel more “Real” to me, or at least gives the false impression that they spent some more time working on the plot.

But sometimes, movies can say fuck character names in general and go a more simpler route. For Faster, we get characters like Driver, Cop, and Killer! Yeah! Fuck names!

Faster Car
Guess which name he gets!

Dwayne Johnson is…the driver. Yes. Correct. He gets out of prison at the start of the movie, and he is mad. So mad that once he gets out of the gate (of course on an abandoned desert road?) he just starts running. He runs to a car, drives said car, and then kills a telemarketer. Damn.

Mike Epps plays the guy who got him the car, and with that car, a list of names of people who helped put him in jail. He was double crossed after a heist with his brother. They shot him in the head! But it ricocheted around his skull in one way, out the other, avoiding his brain, so somehow he survived.

At the same time, the cops Carla Gugino and Billy Bob Thornton (who is of course about to retire) are looking for him/trying to figure it out. Also also Oliver Jackson-Cohen plays the Killer, who is (re?)hired to kill the Driver, before he enacts revenge on all of the people who have mostly changed their lives around.

Like Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who is now a traveling Evangelist. And the last name on the list. But who actually shot him and failed at being an assassin?

BBT
And why does BBT look so sad when he is about to retire?

The movie is a pretty simple plot, so it will have to rely on at least decent acting or surprises along the way to keep interest. It kind of delivers on small scales. I think I have heard of people surviving shots to the head the same way. Maybe I have heard of that just in movies though.

I think the ending was decent given the premises too, was acceptable. I also liked that they tried to give the other non-Rock characters some story lines too. I really didnt like BBT or the other cops involvement though. Felt like a weaker plot line of the movie.

But hey. The movie is called Faster. What can you expect. Its not like they are going to one up it with an unrelated movie called Fastest, right?

2 out of 4.

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