Tag: Benedict Cumberbatch

1917

When I got the invite first for 1917, I really just assumed I would ignore it. I try not to watch trailers, I try to avoid spoilers and go out of my way to research movies before I watch them. All I knew was that this was a war movie?

A war movie? In my 2019?! We just had Midway which was WWII (and I have not seen). I skipped one, why not skip this one as well? How can you wow me war movies?

And then a friend knocked some sense into me. He told me that this movie was done in real time. With the illusion of one continuous shout.

Hold my green apple Smirnoff ice, I’ve GOT to see this on the big screen.

trench
Words cannot describe the fear the audience will experience.

Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) is awoken one afternoon with urgent orders that General Erinmore (Colin Firth) needs him and one other for an urgent mission, time is of the essence. He chooses his buddy Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay), and they hope it is just a supply run mission to head back and bring more food for the troops. They are quite hungry.

Unfortunately, it is a lot more urgent than that. There is another British division in the woods outside of a nearby French village. They are planning on attacking the German troops nearby at dawn, who are supposedly retreating, but the intel has changed. It is a trap. And Blake has an older brother in charge over there, another incentive to get there in time.

Now these two men have to travel through trenches, across no man’s land, hope that the German’s in their area did retreat, then travel several miles over land and hopefully get to the troops before it is too late and 1,600 men get killed.

Also starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, and Richard Madden.

house
Two men, one note, no cups.

Roger Deakins is god and we are just living in his well defined cinematographic world.

Breath taking. Wonderful. Immersive. It is hard to explain. If any film had to talk about the dangers and realities of World War I, this is probably the film we need. Our delivery boys are not bad ass guys who take their revolvers and head shot Nazis left and right running down a field. Every potential threat is just that, a threat, and potentially the end of their journey.

I never can tell if they will make it out of their current predicament, and if so, will they be fully in tact along the way.

The smaller roles given to big names help give some gravitas to their situation. Also, so do the explosions, and the hundreds of extras, and the miles and miles of real sets built, and the natural lighting.

An ending scene where a runner is going across the battlefield, while bombs are going off and explosions is one of my favorite and tense scenes of 2019. Along with a nighttime scene, running through the village with fire, flares, and German soldiers. It is hard to pick which scene feels more intense, honestly, and that is a good problem to have.

I loved 1917, and it is something that should be discussed for years to come on how to just do every little thing right with a movie.

4 out of 4.

The Current War Director’s Cut

Here it is, boys. The time has truly come. A film has decided to come out and also be the “Director’s Cut” of that same movie.

Technically that isn’t all too rare. A lot of movies that come out are Director’s Cuts, they just don’t always advertise it. Usually if there is a DC available, it is home release, and it implies the studio or a producer had a final cut that was different from the director’s vision.

So what is going on with The Current War Director’s Cut? Well, Harvey Weinstein happened.

One of the main things Weinstein was known for, besides the sexual assaults and rape, was getting final edit on many movies. He wanted movies to go a certain way, and advertise a certain way, and go for awards with his permissions. He could be great at it, but it also bugged a lot of director’s at the time.

This movie was planning on coming out around 2017, hitting the festivals, and getting lukewarm reaction. Then the scandal. Then the selling off of properties. And our director got his movie back, edited his movie his way, and got to release it wide for the first time!

light
It’s basically the American dream, with a lot more sexual assault in the way.

Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch). An American celebrity if there ever was one in the late 1800’s. He was an inventor, an improver of older inventions, and someone who was business savvy. People loved him and he wanted to be loved. But when it came to the battle over how America would be hooked up to the grid for electricity, he was also quite dirty.

George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), known for being rich and helping develop breaks for trains for safety and efficiency, wanted to work with Edison, but he was shunned by the busy man. So he figured he could get into the game, help develop a new technology, and then Edison would want to merge ideas. Edison is not a merger, he is a take over kind of guy, a guy who doesn’t admit if he is wrong.

This began a big battle over the American landscape, accepting bids for their various forms of technology, with the goal to be providing power for the Chicago World’s Fair, and putting their product out there for millions. And of course we have a wildcard in Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), a foreigner, a genius, a man who saw the future, but couldn’t always get the funding or time to put all of his ideas to the paper.

Three men of influence, one goal, and a whole lot of shoddy tactics.

Also starring Katherine Waterston, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Holland, and Matthew Macfadyen as J.P. Morgan.

looks
You know that look in your eye when you see an electric candle for the first time last a few hours? That’s the look I want to give to my dinner every night.

I honestly went into this movie thinking the worst. The trailer was okay, the cast I enjoy, but the director’s cut notion prepared me for the worst. That’s weird. The buzz was not good.

But after watching it? I feel frickan’ amped. Westinghouse is so cool, and he is only a name I have seen mentioned and had no idea he was in this race. I figured this was a Tesla/Edison movie thanks to memes, but Tesla is way less important overall to this plot. Shannon does a good job of playing this quiet and seemingly noble entrepreneur.

After the film I was electrified to look up more information on these big three, to go beyond the quick facts I see on the internet. The movie felt accurate. It moved at a very quick pace, telling a historical pr battle with enough excitement to keep me on the edge of my seat. It flowed so well from scene to scene.

I have a love of historical films, especially ones that have good acting. Historical films that don’t get bogged down in being super serious, but still can tell not only a good story, but a story worth being told. A story with wattage. Alright, that’s a stretch.

Anyways, congratulations to Alfonso Gomez-Rejon for getting the movie he wanted to make. Oh, and by the way, he directed Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which made my top of the year list when it came out.

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.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

A few years ago, The Jungle Book remake came out, and people were confused or impressed or didn’t see it. One of the first “live action” remakes (whereas everything is still animated but one character basically) from Disney and it was a good way to test the waters with their technology and realism.

The problem is, there was another Jungle Book movie trying to come out before that one. It was to be directed by Andy Serkis, and yes, also mostly CGI, but also a lot of mocap technology, the same stuff that made Serkis famous. HE wanted to see those famous actors pretending to be animals, really getting into those characters.

And because of the Disney release, they decided to delay this one. Wait a couple of years, and release it fresh with new eyes. But The Jungle Book announced a sequel, which means there will never really be a time when there isn’t a Jungle Book movie coming out, so they just needed to get it out at some point. People rushed things, advertising potential was low, so they instead sold it to Netflix, so that it can hopefully just be successful there.

Poor Serkis, there is no way he wanted his movie to premiere on Netflix. And at some point they changed the title to be Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, because Mowgli apparently wasn’t good enough on its own.

Race
Mowgli and the four realms wolves.

Look, I know and you know, that you are not here for the plot. We know that a boy has his parents get all murdered by a mean tiger (Benedict Cumberbatch), so some wolves take him in and raise him. He is also watched over by a panther (Christian Bale), who is soft or something, and really wants the baby to not die, while also being pretty darn afraid of a tiger.

And occasionally, a bear (Andy Serkis) is around to give advice/teach/protect. The snake? Well the snake (Cate Blanchett) is less evil and more godlike, with a bit of an oracle-sense, she is there to be unnerving, not just looking for a bite to eat.

Anyways, the boy (Rohan Chand) tries to be a good wolf, not realizing he is actually a human, and you know, not die to tigers.

Also starring the voices of Naomie Harris, Jack Reynor, Peter Mullan, and Eddie Marsan. If you want other real people, Matthew Rhys and Freida Pinto are also notable characters who have more than just a voice.

Bath
When bathing, make sure you focus on your bare niceties.

Really, to have two movies based on the same source book around the same time, those movies better be really different. They need a reason to exist and not just because they wanted to see who can do it better.

And regardless of who had the idea first, or how pitch meetings went, this just feels like a competition to try and see who can do it better. I would like to do a big list of comparisons of the two and argue which is better, but I saw The Jungle Book years ago and don’t really want to make that sort of review. This film has more zoomed in looks at the animals faces, probably for mocap reasons as they created animals around acing faces. None of them looked like people creepily, but the mouth movements felt a bit more natural to have human words coming out of them.

But that doesn’t make the graphics better. I am having a hard time to really figure out which one counts as better, so just put the movies as good enough graphics. They are telling the same basic story too, except this one is a bit darker at times. The monkey scene in particular is really frightening, as are some of the chase scenes. The snake scene is more confusing than anything.

However, this film has problems. Namely, when Mowgli gets to the village. That isn’t the end of the movie, but maybe two-thirds of the way through it. Once that happens all momentum is dropped. The movie seemingly comes to a stop and just takes forever to move the hell on. It loses its steam and can never really gain it back, as most people then decide at that time to start checking their watches waiting for it to end.

Voices are fine, graphics are suitable, darkness is less appropriate for a family movie, and holy shit does it take awhile to just end. Easy pass, but since it is on Netflix, you will see it large and around for weeks, and sure, it will probably frighten your kids.

2 out of 4.

The Grinch

The Grinch would be the biggest Dr. Seuss effect on society if it wasn’t for that feline that wore head accessories.

Speaking of the Cat of the Hat, I have still never seen that live action movie. But it was supposedly terrible, so bad that that the Seuss family said no more live action films. Just animated. Which means that eventually we got to have The Lorax from Illumination Entertainment, a company normally on my shitlist, because they make shit to average films.

And despite seemingly having any Seuss thing to work with, they figured they could just do The Grinch again. Why? I don’t know. We have a successful animated 2D version, and a successful 3D live action version, so I guess we need another version, this time animated and 3D.

If it was a better company, I would be annoyed because they could have decided to do One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish instead. Maybe Tim Burton will tackle that one after Dumbo.

Snowman
One way to ruin Christmas is to teach the local youth about jerking someone else off.

Oh yeah, this is the section where I talk about the plot of The Grinch.

So uhhh, there is this place called Whoville, where all these Whooligans live in splendor and wonder. They are overtly happy and cheerful, and for whatever reason, they all enjoy the shit out of Christmas. Decorations, noise, presents, togetherness, food, you name it. Christmas is number one. Celebrations all month long.

But someone doesn’t love Christmas. No, he hates it. The Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) lives in a mountain outside of Whoville, alone and bitter, with his dog, Max. He just wants to be left alone, but he has to visit Whoville to buy food occasionally. Normally he hides up all December to avoid the festivities.

This year, however, he has to return and get involved. Because they are putting everything bigger, 3 times bigger at least, and that he cannot stand. He must steal this Christmas from them, to make them feel as sad as he does all the time. That will show those Whos who’s boss.

Also featuring Angela Lansbury, Cameron Seely, Kenan Thompson, Rashida Jones, and Pharrell Williams at the narrator.

Santa
That’s not Santa! Santa Claus is a black man!

There is only really one major point I want to harp on, so I will get to the quicker stuff first. The Grinch doesn’t seem mean, just sad and lame. The film felt too long, and featured what turned out to be an unnecessary reindeer plot to pad the time. And the backstory they gave to him paints the city of Whoville as a terrible place to be with a bunch of assholes, and also sort of makes his behavior completely justifiable. Great.

However, besides all of that, I have a question. Do you think the Whos in Whoville worship Jesus or believe in any sort of god? Because in the last two movies and the book, they have not made any references to Jesus or religion. They celebrate Christmas like Americans, the secular ones at least. Presents, Santa, food, and togetherness.

There are no mangers in Whoville! This is not Earth at all, it is its own planet or city or entity. Shit, maybe it is on a snowflake.

But not in this movie. The first sign was when a choir was singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in what was definitely a minute long and silly scene. It took me out of the movie. They had Angels on trees, which isn’t as bad. But then even later, there was a singing of Silent Night, another very religious song.

These movie makers are so out of touch with the material, that they are getting their own potential Christmas traditions mixed up with Whoville Christmas traditions and that is a problem.

Come on, you know it is true. A fundamental breakdown of this magnitude is either agenda driven, or a lack of intelligence, neither of which should be celebrated.

1 out of 4.

Avengers: Infinity War

I really don’t have to spend a lot of information on this intro, do I?

Avengers: Infinity War (originally called Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, but people were nervous about half movies, and now the next one’s title is a secret because of spoilers or something.

I was an ecstatic little girl when the first Avengers film came out, waiting for it as soon as the first Iron Man film finished. Since then, things have been a bit more middling. My reviews have generally always been positive, none of them ever received under a 2 out of 4, and some of which are maybe too highly rated. Not everything I am extremely excited for, but most I definitely have a higher interest.

Last year, no superhero movies made my top of the year list (although one of them was about a super hero, sort of). This year, I already had Black Panther as a 4. And yet this film, this one right here, has me just as giddy as the first one for so many reasons.

So let’s just get into it.

Group 2
Oh yeah, look at these folks. Maybe this is just Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

At the end of Thor: Ragnarok, we had a surprise for Thor and his crew. This film takes place right after that point. Bad news for the Asgardians, Thanos (Josh Brolin) is here. At this point he has one of the infinity stones, out of six total. His goal? To wipe out half of the life in the universe.

Now presumably this just means sentient life forms who walk around and have languages. I don’t think he has anything against puppies. Or plants. He isn’t doing it out of spite, he is calling it mercy. It is sort of his thing. He has been doing it manually with his own crew for a while, but he wants the stones to do it instantly, so that the survivors can flourish. You know, by having more resources, more space, less crime, whatever. He is a benevolent God.

It turns out some people have some issues with him wanting to do this though. And with two of the stones (that we know of) being on Earth, he is going to have to come crashing down, where a few people down there are decently strong and going to have to put up a little fight.

Starring every goddamn person ever. You know, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Benedict Wong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleston, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Idris Elba, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Chris Pratt, and Benicio Del Toro.

Also featuring some newbies, like Peter Dinklage and Carrie Coon! Two whole people! Wow! And some technically regular people like Gwyneth Paltrow and William Hurt. Damn, did I get them all?

Group
What is this a crossover episode?

What’s to say that isn’t already all over the internet?

Avengers: Infinity War is a fan pleasing romp across the universe, adding most of the cast we have come to love into a few surprising show downs, where the stakes have never been higher. It is certainly one of the darker and serious Marvel films at this point. People are going to get hurt, people are going to be sad, and people are going to cry. Well, maybe. I know I cried near the end, and almost another time before then.

Acting wise, a lot of the stars gave their A-game. Shout out to Cumberbatch who really felt like a leader of this group, despite being one of the most recent additions. Holland was brought in for his acting ability, and it really showed by the end. A lot of pain was on Evans’ face throughout the film. Hemsworth is so goddamn Thor-y, its fantastic, and I am glad we got so much of him in the last few movies. And finally, Saldana, who is normally a low point from the acting carried a lot.

Of course I also have to talk about Brolin as Thanos, a role we have been waiting for for years and it really paid off well. This is a goddamn villain right here. It is really great writing when you sympathize with someone who is trying to kill half of the universe.

I don´t entirely know where Marvel is going with its ending, but I do have a feeling I will be incredibly annoyed by it in the next film. I think they are going to take what they did great here and ruin it with the second part, but that is just a gut feeling.

Avengers: Infinity Wars has some of the best fight scenes and team ups yet, and is just pure fan service through and through while giving an incredible story as well. I wish this film was longer.

I don´t have to tell you to go see this one, I know you will, and I can´t see anyone who likes the series to be disappointed with this milestone achievement.

If there is anything to be disappointed in, it is Marvel´s poor decisions to not include their other people. I haven´t seen Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in forever, but it seemed to react to the movies but never impact them, but someone from there might have been involved. And the Netflix shows? Come on, there was stuff happening in New York. If the Netflix shows ignore this event (which they didn´t ignore the first Avengers movie…) then they are just making poor decisions.

Group
You’d think with three group shots I’d have gotten all the heroes. But nope.

4 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.

Doctor Strange

Feeling weird? Then you haven’t felt enough, yet.

I have been waiting probably at least five years for a Doctor Strange movie to grace our screens, holding onto every casting rumor. I was straight up distraught when it was pseudo announced that Joaquin Phoenix would play as the titular hero before casting fell through. I knew that he wasn’t the kind of guy to sign multi year deals and wouldn’t want to fully embrace being a super hero.

Which also explains why I was so excited when Cumberbatch was signed on. Given his role as Sherlock and what I have seen it just made since based on what I had seen of the character in other forms of media. Being a complete Cumberbunny helped of course as well, I’d watch him in basically anything.

Note, despite waiting for this film for years, I am not some weird expert on Doctor Strange. I first saw him in the 90’s Spiderman cartoon and just instantly thought he was pretty cool. Then I keep abreast on him every once in a while to see what kind of shenanigans he is up to and that is about it. That’s right, zero comics read with him as the lead.

Spirit Punch
This falcon punch gets you right in the feels.

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is about the world famous egotist and neurosurgeon, Stephan Strange. He is arrogant, cocky, and other words that mean those same things. But he is also extremely intelligent. One of those guys with photographic memory and all of that, so the cockiness comes with the territory. Well, these character flaws lead him to an accident, where his body is broken and his hands are practically shattered. Fuck!

Not being able to really bend your knuckles and stop your hands from shaking makes it hard to be a surgeon and his life begins to deteriorate. After chasing cure after cure, he finally submits based on a rumor of a past patient and heads to Nepal to find a mystical healing place called Kamar-Taj. There he meets The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), the Sorcerer Surpreme who eventually is willing to teach Strange the Dark Arts. He only wants to heal his hands, they want him to protect the world from other universes.

He also meets her second in command, Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and the master of the library Wong (Benedict Wong). Needless to say, his intelligence gets him far, but his attitude gets him into some tough situations, including dealings with Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former trainee who wants to take out the Ancient One and release the world into utter darkness. You know, the usual.

We also have Rachel McAdams as an ER doctor / sometimes love interest, Michael Stuhlbarg as a surgeon to be the butt of Strange’s jokes, Scott Adkins as generic bad guy fighter, and Benjamin Bratt playing basketball to remind us all of Catwoman.

Cape
Oh an the Cape is played by Andy Serkis.

Rarely do I make this recommendation, but with a movie like Doctor Strange it practically begs you to watch it on the biggest screen you can with those incredibly annoying 3D Glasses. It is just so goddamn pretty and there is so many details going on, it would be a shame for your eyes to have them all squished together and miss them. And yes, that means don’t download this in the future and watch it on your shitty laptop, damn it.

In terms of actual movie plots, this is a fun and interesting super hero movie. We are in a new direction! We finally have magic, something the MCU has been adamant in avoiding as much as possible (especially given the direction they took Iron Man 3).

Strange is certifiable jerk, asshole, and badass all in one. When I first heard their intention was for him to replace Iron Man as the face of the Avengers after Phase 3, I could only barely believe it, but after seeing the film it makes a lot of sense. I can’t imagine Downey Jr. surviving Thanos, let us just say that.

Wong was a fun addition, Ejiofor and Mikkelson’s characters could have been more fully fledged out, and Swinton was a unique choice as a Celtic Ancient One. Of course, we also have McAdams in here as a love interest, making this the FOURTH movie in her career where she is the love interest of someone who has time altering abilities. What a god damn oddly specific type cast. The other three are The Time Traveler’s Wife, Midnight in Paris, and About Time.

Doctor Strange is visually stunning, funny, and complete with amazing battle scenes and a decent ending. I will also note I almost flipped out over the mid credits scene in surprise. It isn’t the best super hero movie, but it is a damn good start and I can’t wait to see the character in future films.

Oh and a warning. It does feature the cringey line of “Forget everything you think you know,” a line that is literally never spoken by a real person ever.

3 out of 4.

Zoolander 2

Zoolander Zoolander Zoolander!

Fifteen years ish ago, I remember being a young impressionable teenager watching it for the first time. I laughed so much, so long. I quoted it so far for the rest of my life. It is probably one of my favorite comedies of all time and I am always in the mood for it. Hell, I remember putting in the DVD just to watch the Special Features Menu, because it was also hilarious. THE MENU!

The idea of a sequel has been kicked around for a long, long time. And yes, it has been delayed. But in this case, I am glad. If they forced a sequel, it would probably be shit. I expect they waited for a good script. I hope they waited for a good script.

Because it is clear that Dumb and Dumber To wasn’t waiting for the right script. They just got the idea, ran with it, and gave us a pile of shit. Please Zoolander 2, don’t be a pile of shit. Pleaaaase.

All
Bamblesport Cunnilingus was in it, so it can’t be completely shit!

Fifteen years ago, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) saved the Prime Minister of Malaysia with his Magnum look and changed the world of fashion forever. Mugatu (Will Ferrell), Katinka Ingabogovinanana (Milla Jovovich), and Evil DJ (Justin Theroux) went to jail! But bad stuff started to happen almost immediately.

Without spoilers, Zoolander soon found himself without his wife (Christine Taylor) and son (Cyrus Arnold), with Hansel (Owen Wilson) refusing to speak to him, and a laughing stock again in the world. So he left to become a Hermit, living alone in a cabin on a mountain.

Now, in 2016, he receives an invitation to Rome, by Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig), the new big fashion person. Derek, along with Hansal, are to star in a new campaign and revitalize their careers. Derek wants to do it to get his family back. Hansal wants to do it to run away from his problems, from being part of a family.

Also, a whole bunch of celebrities are being killed. Including Justin Bieber! When they die, they seem to have Zoolander’s classic look on their face. This investigation is being led by Interpol’s Fashion Police division, Valentina (Penelope Cruz).

And featuring Kyle Mooney as a fashion designer, Sting, Kiefer Sutherland and Susan Sarandon as themselves, Fred Armisen as an 11 year old boy, and the return of Billy Zane and Nathan Lee Graham as Todd.

Boobs
Zoolander’s hands are being played by Jerry Stiller.

Sure enough, Zoolander 2 is not as good as the first film, but in reality that was impossible. Humor was a different beast in the last 90’s and early 2000’s. If they went for a film with the exact same tone, it would most likely feel just dated.

But damn it, this sequel gave me Zoolander and Hansel back, and they are acting like they never went away. These felt like the characters, the movie was true to them, and they didn’t become warped caricatures. Well, maybe a little warped. But not terrible. I believed everything they did and said.

The film had a few unique laugh moments that had me in stitches. They rehash a lot of the old jokes, but it thankfully isn’t a majority of the film like how it felt for Anchorman 2. They come and go, sometimes they stick, some time they don’t. For instance, the Hansel being so hot joke? It was poorly placed and made it completely shit.

I would probably have given this a higher grade, for enjoyability and nostalgia, but the plot is almost incomprehensible. Looking back on it, trying to figure out character actions, none of it seems to make sense. I can’t even tell if Billy Zane is supposed to be a bad guy. It has a large conspiracy element like the first film, but this one is so badly done I can’t imagine how they thought it was a good idea.

And for the most part, the cameos were disappointing. The only two that had a large presence were Bieber and Sutherland. Everyone else was one joke and done, quite a shame.

Overall, you should definitely watch the film if you want more Zoolander. But you might not have to see it in theater.

2 out of 4.

Black Mass

Johnny Depp is the type of guy who is always working and trying out new bizarre characters. It gave him some early fame but lately people are getting tired of him. Mortdecai gets to be one of the worst films of the year, as people assumed it was just a mustache obsessed Johnny Depp playing Johnny Depp.

But then there was Black Mass. Based on trailers and word of mouth, we were told this would be Depp acting, playing a real character, and not the same old shit as before. Something new by technically making him play a more normal role! A sadistic mean and manipulative person, but a real guy nonetheless. No super annoying quirks, no autism, just a dude who didn’t mind killing people.

The acting was supposed to be so great that people were going to remember how great Depp could be when he gives a shit. I am sure he gives a lot of shit when doing his latest Burton film, but after awhile, it just looks like he has no more cares left in the world and he would rather just sit there and shit money. (Assuming they don’t flop, which they have been as well!)

Face
That’s the face I make when I shit normal things. Can only imagine other objects.

Black Mass is the story of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger (Depp), America’s Most Wanted criminal for a long time. You may have heard about him for many reasons. Or maybe you watched the documentary (or read my review of), Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, which was out a year or two ago on Netflix. It went over his crimes and the trial once they eventually caught the guy (spoilers), while the film version specifically only talks about his crimes for the most part until he started to hide elsewhere in the USA.

Like most crime movies, this one also takes place in the scariest city in the USA for people who like grammar, Boston. Bulger and his gang (some members played by Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, and W. Earl Brown) are criming up the streets and kicking butt. They basically control all of South Boston. But there are rivals, and there are conflicts of interest.

You know, like John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), when he returns to Boston, his home, but now a member of the FBI. He is friends with Whitey, despite the mostly common knowledge of his criminal activities. Eventually he convinces Whitey that he should become an informant, because there are other bad people out there who he can rat out to get them in trouble. Doing so, that would allow him to gain even more power on the streets, having the FBI in his back pockets. Oh hey, Whitey’s actual brother (Benedict Cumberbatch) is also part of the Massachusetts State Senate. Pretty sneaky stuff.

This becomes a win win. Whitey gains gang power, and the FBI catches a lot of bad guys. It isn’t until things get more and more violent that some people out there begin to get fidgety and want to bring in Whitey as well, because something very sketch is going down with his relationship with the FBI.

Also featuring Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Adam Scott, Kevin Bacon, David Harbour, Peter Sarsgaard and Corey Stoll.

Dinner
A gangster, an FBI agent, and a David Harbour walk into a restaurant…

I had a BlackWeek on my website, and I was most upset that Black Mass came out so much later than the other Black films. I was excited to see Depp back in greatness, although I think his role from Tusk and Yoga Hosers is actually pretty sweet.

And then I watched Black Mass and it all felt unoriginal. Just because I watched a documentary about Whitey doesn’t mean I remember a lot about him. The only thing I really remember was him being a rat and getting the other gangsters in trouble while he got away for decades. Black Mass should have been a nice companion piece to the documentary, giving us intense recreations of some of his worst work and making Whitey seem like a real person.

Even though I didn’t know about his individual crimes, the reason it felt unoriginal is just that it felt like every other gangster movie before it. Sure, plot wise it had the original true element of actually working with the FBI, because the real life plot is so silly no one accept it as something plausible in a fictional film. Stylistically, it felt the same. Elements of the film seemed to be bad recreations of Goodfellas.

Yes, the acting was there. Depp, Edgerton, Sarsgaard all did wonderful jobs. Cumberbatch sounded funny and I wanted more scenes with him because of it.

But I would hope that the film didn’t feel like the gangster films of the past and tried to make a truly unique experience for this real life story. I guess I could also be biased, because I also have recently seen Animal Kingdom (with Edgerton), and it was definitely a unique gangster film.

1 out of 4.