Bad Times At The El Royale

I have never had a bad time at a place called an El Royale. Just saying, for some sort of context. I haven’t been to any El Royales as far as I know. So neither good nor bad times have been had at any El Royales. I am an El Royale virgin. Or at least, I was before I saw this movie, Bad Times At the El Royale.

Alright, now that the nonsensical first paragraph, overall this felt like a movie that would be really enjoyable. I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the cast of characters and thought it could have some really fun and interesting scenes.

After seeing so many duds lately, and great films, I needed something that would just be entertaining. I really wanted this to fill that genre gap in my movie watching schedule.

Dancing
It did fill a Hemsworth sized whole in my heart. And that is a very large whole.

At the El Royale? Well, it used to be a happening spot. Lively nights, plenty of guests, and a lot of raunchy shenanigans. This hotel is on the border of Nevada and California. So it has a more expensive and classy side and a gambling side. A side for all the types who may want to visit. Now the hotel is almost in rambles. The front desk is basically just one person (Lewis Pullman), who also is the cleaning man, the bartender, and everything. A one man show.

And tonight? There will be some guests. We have Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), a potential singing star who has a secret. We have Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who seems to be losing his mind, and a man with a secret. There is (Jon Hamm), someone who really wants the Honeymoon suite, because he has a secret. There is the vulgar and unfriendly (Dakota Johnson), who clearly has a secret.

A lot of secrets, and a lot of bad stuff coming together. How are Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, and Nick Offerman involved in the plot? Well, that’s a secret.

Raining
I’M SORRY. DID YOU THINK THIS PICTURE SPACE WOULD BE GIVEN TO SOMETHING THAT IS NOT SHIRTLESS?

Did you know that Bad Times at the El Royale is over 140 minutes long? Shit, this might as well be a Marvel movie at this point. Now of course if a movie is engaging and fantastic, the time doesn’t matter. BT at the ER is in fact entertaining with some cool scenes. It has nice songs/soundtracks to encompass the scenes. It is told out of order from multiple perspectives to help unravel the mysteries and keep things fresh. It is really impossible to guess where it is going and how it will end. And yet, it also feels way too long.

Sure, different perspectives is fun, but that does mean we have to see some scenes multiple times. And there is a lot of backstory at times that are cool for building characters, and at the same time, not always necessary.

I really enjoyed Hamm in this film. He was a combination of some of his previous roles and it was definitely a good fit for him. Potentially it can be used as an audition for an eventual super hero! Johnson was acting like someone completely different in this film and it was refreshing. Erivo knocked it out of the park for me in the film, she was the real star, in so many talented ways. And hey, Pullman was interesting as the, well, lobby boy. I actually thought it was maybe Tom Holland pushing some boundaries for most of the movie.

BT at the ER is a fun film, a different film, a Quentin Tarantino lite film, and one that will please a lot of fans. Especially those of Hemsworth. It just needed a lot more editing and maybe a more focused outcome by the end.

2 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.

Ghostbusters

Let’s get one thing straight. No one will take this review seriously. No one can take any review for Ghostbusters seriously. For the last 1-2 years, this film has been dragged through the mud of the internet. From director, to casting choices, to posters, to trailers. Everything has been heavily scrutinized and a lot of it met with extreme backlash.

Like it or not, biases exist in so many forms they are possible to escape. Even when I try and watch a movie by ignoring the trailers, ignoring plot summaries and more, I am still slightly affected by it by recognizing people in the cast and comparing it to their own past work. And that is a subtle bias. When you hear nothing but negative things about something for a long time it will take a toll on you.

What I am NOT saying is that the toll will be the same way to everyone. But extremes will happen and are bound to happen. People very well may end up actually hating this movie, but if they dislike it, they will be called sexist or misogynists or probably Moonboy for all I know. If you love the film, you will be seen as maybe some social justice warrior, liking it to high levels just as a counter to the hate. And both of these things are potentially true. Some people hate it for sexism, some people love it to counter the sexism. But also some people just won’t like it and some people will love it regardless of either.

This intro I wrote before seeing the review, but of course you can already see my rating. So when I say no one will take this seriously, I just mean that it is impossible for anything anyone says about this film to be taken with a grain of salt, outside of actual personal experiences and opinions.

Hemsworth
Am I sexist if I make my first picture of just him with no one else?

The year is current year, and Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is up for tenure at Columbia university now for some hardcore physics stuff. She has to be careful to not embarrass the university in any way. So when Ed Mulgrave (Ed Begley Jr.) pops up to talk about a book she wrote a long time ago about Ghosts, things get awkward. Her co-author, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) is working at much lesser university on paranormal related sciences and she put their book on Amazon to make some extra income. She is now working with an engineer, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and they are developing some sweet new technology.

Once they find out that Mulgrave runs an old museum/house with a potential ghost, they hop over to find out, and yep, there is a ghost! Their video goes viral on YouTube, Erin loses her job and they decide to start researching these ghosts full time. They soon meet another scarier ghost in the Subway, where they also meet Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). Patty isn’t a scientist, but she offers them a vehicle so they let her join the train. They also get a receptionist, Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), who is really damn stupid but good looking and the only one to apply.

Long story short, this asshole unsocial dude, Rowan North (Neil Casey), is using his own devices to ramp up paranormal activity in the area, hoping to unleash a huge amount of ghosts to begin the apocalypse. Fun!

Also featuring Andy Garcia as the Mayor of NYC and Cecily Strong as his assistant, Michael Kenneth Williams and Matt Walsh as members of Homeland Security, Zach Woods as a tour guide, Karan Soni as a Chinese food delivery man, and all* of the original Ghostbusters cast as cameos. The biggest cameo is Bill Murray as a ghost skeptic.

Steams
Ah there they are, not crossing streams and all.

Here’s some background. I did not grow up with the Ghostbusters movie in my life. I didn’t see the first film in its entirety until just a few weeks ago. I knew what happened in it roughly, I knew quotes, I saw bits and pieces, and I of course knew the song, but I never really saw it. Similarly, I still have never seen Ghostbusters II, only because I didn’t own it to watch it. So it isn’t something that helped define my childhood full of nostalgia.

Coming from that background, thinking the original Ghostbusters movie was only okay, I also have to say the same about the sequel. Both are comedies and meant to be comedic in nature, but rarely did I find myself laughing. Maybe some smiles or cute moments and the surprise scare, but rarely a true laugh out of loud. But this isn’t a review of the old one, this is a review of the new film. Wiig and McCarthy were both playing relatively un-funny characters. That is because they had to be serious to really sell their passion. Their characters had a few jokes that were revisited and some slapstick but that is about it.

Jones and McKinnon were fine in their roles and a bit more interesting. They were the only characters that actually felt like they had personality and were generally consistent with those personalities. I can see why people find McKinnon’s character the funniest because, well, Wiig and McCarthy are just so drag in comparison. They should have had one less serious character and one more unique but not identical to McKinnon for more actual laughs. She did make me laugh a few times, but Hemsworth’s character did make me laugh the most. They made him stupid arm candy, a nice gender reversal, and they went so extreme with it that it was hard not to chuckle.

Outside of those three characters though the film just wasn’t that funny. Mostly slapstick and chaos.

Ghost
And now here is a ghost, now everyone is represented equally!

The film had a lot of wasted potential. They had Walsh and Williams as agents and they collectively maybe had three lines, they were no-name characters in the end and had no reason to be played by those actors. The cameos from the original cast were okay, but Murray was absolutely dreadful. He wasn’t even acting as a character in this film despite having multiple scenes. He came across as a guy bored out of his mind who was just getting a small pay check. It was embarrassingly bad.

The film was all over with its science as well. Like the original, they would say a lot of jargon that sounded cool but meant nothing out to anyone listening. Their stream weapons were inconsistent with how they worked, making the long final fight scene sort of odd.

And yes, the film was too meta about the message they wanted to send. They had to turn it into movie directly against the online (sexist?) haters as a sly joke. Years later they won’t make as much sense along with the other numerous pop culture references. But commenting about the hateful things people say on YouTube and the internet just took me out of the movie as the film collectively winked its entire screen at me.

But what do I know. I am a guy who gave this an average film. I have probably been biased on my own thanks to everything that has happened. Maybe I am just too afraid to give this a really positive or negative review, so I go into neutral obscurity hoping to maintain some level of unbias but still directly being influenced quite heavily. We will never know and this film or future films in the franchise will never be able to escape it.

2 out of 4.

* – No not Rick Moranis and of course not Harold Ramis.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

I was forced into watching the trailer for The Huntsman: Winter’s War and I was confused. Based on the plot and what I remember about Snow White and the Huntsman, my timelines started to hurt. It said it was a prequel, but if events in the trailer happened in the prequel, how did we even get the first film? That was my main concern going in.

But before we get to that, it is hilarious that this movie even exists. Right after the first one came out, there was talk about a sequel but about The Huntsman instead of Snow White. The point of the first film was to give us a strong female lead character, so to kick her out for the sequel is just amusing.

Of course, there was also the scandal with the director, Rupert Sanders, and Kristen Stewart, having an extra martial affair thanks to the film. I wonder why they weren’t invited back…

Queens
There can only be so many queens in one picture.

Before the incidents of the first film, our Evil Queen (Charlize Theron) was marrying king after king, killing them, taking their kingdom, and moving on. She also had a family, namely, a sister. Freya (Emily Blunt) had no magical powers as she hadn’t unlocked them yet like the rest of her family, but after tragedy, sure enough, she had ice powers.

Freya runs to the North after losing her kids and decides if she cannot raise a baby she will raise an army (actual line from the film). So she begins to conquer nearby villages and kingdoms, stealing their kids so she could turn them into her own personal warriors. Her Huntsmen, as she calls them.

That is where we get to meet Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), well, the kid versions of them. They are the best warriors, her cream of the crop, and they fall in love. But love is forbidden in her kingdom, for reasons. And if you remember the first film, you will remember that Eric was super drunk and depressed over the death of his wife Sara. It doesn’t take a genius to spoil what happens next.

Did I just spoil the whole movie? Nope. Because then it fast forwards to after the events of the first film. We have a prequel and a sequel. For the real plot of this movie, the magic mirror goes missing on its way to a Sanctuary to lock away its evil. So The Huntsmen is forced to go look for it to help end its evil. And on the way he has the help of some he-dwarves (Nick Frost, Rob Brydon) and she-dwarves (Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach).

Of course this might put him on a path to go against The Ice Queen, which is good since he hates her and all. Sam Claflin briefly resumes his past role and Sope Dirisu is also a Huntsman with speaking roles to make the cast more diverse.

Bow
You’re god damn right I’m reviewing The Huntsman and not showing The Hunstman in the pictures. #GirlPower

Off the bat, this film is definitely superior to the original, but it is still not a great film. The idea of having it as a prequel was weird to me as I couldn’t imagine a good enough story to take place pre-Snow White. And a sequel was weird because I imagined it would only dampen the point of the first film. So it did both and did the best it could to try to make a coherent story.

I have problems with the prequel, because if there is this terrible Ice Queen up North ravaging the country side, you’d think someone would mention it in the first movie. Maybe even that the Queen had a sister. The only part not shoe horned in is the fact that Sara was his wife and she dies. But even that was poorly done and didn’t seem like the type of thing that would drive him to years of depression and booze.

As for the sequel, yes it does cheapen the first film, but the first film was bad. The adventure wasn’t that great, the plans were still piss poor. The special effects were a bit better as was the humor, thanks to the dwarves and Hemsworth playing a happy Huntsman. The fight scenes in general were a lot better as well.

The film still suffers from a rushed ending with a lot of silly actions from the characters. I was pretty sure I heard the narrator say that Freya was betrayed by her sister early on, but apparently Freya didn’t know that? The betrayal came at the very end and the fact that it was supposed to be a surprise confused me.

Other minor notes: Yes, Blunt had to play someone emotionless, but it was terrible. Chastain and Hemsworth had great chemistry. Theron should not have been in this film. And this film has goblins, but these goblins are basically apes with horns with tar in their blood, reminiscent of fantasy trolls. Of course, the first film had a troll that was nothing like the fantasy troll, so they instead had to call them goblins.

The most ungoblin-y goblins I have ever seen.

2 out of 4.

Vacation

Oh hey, Vacation. A comedy series a lot of people look back with fond memories. Because it told the truth. Family vacations are terrible, but we all grin and bear it because that is just what you gotta do.

It is a concept most people can related to, and with nostalgia being the strong bitch that it is, it makes sense for there to eventually be more Vacation movies. Movies that capture the true American spirit: cramped in a car with people you already hang out with too much. At the same time, people assume that if you make a new version of something old, the old one gets tarnished or something.

Those people are dumb.

Which is why I do declare I will not make comparisons to the first Vacation movie. I will judge this on its own merits as a new comedy, that may have references to a previous movie.

Car Ride
And my noble steed on this ride will be a small car.

Vacation is not a reboot or a remake, it is a sequel.

Rusty Griswald (Ed Helms) is now grown up and has a family of his own! He is a pretty good pilot, but works for a shitty airline that only does short domestic flights, so he can spend time with his family. His wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate) is a stay at home mom, raising the two boys. The older one, James (Skyler Gisondo) is almost done with high school, very sensitive, plays the guitar. He constantly gets picked on by his much smaller younger brother, Kevin (Steele Stebbins), who is a dick and is into wrestling.

Well, they normally go out every year to a cabin in the woods, but Rusty realizes that everyone finds it boring. So he decides to change it up. A cross country road trip from Chicago to California to go to Walley World! Yeah! Rusty had fond memories of the park as a kid, despite that one film where a bunch of bad things happened. This time it is going to go right and they are going to ride the best roller coaster in the country. Damn it.

Of course shit goes bad. Their car is weird and European, white water rafting, bad hot springs, crazy truckers, thieves, and more. They also make a pit stop to visit Rusty’s sister, Audrey (Leslie Mann), who finds the idea of a trip ridiculous. She is also super wealthy for marrying Stone Crandall (Chris Hemsworth), who is a super attractive weather man. The only other real plot line is James constantly running into Adena (Catherine Missal), a girl on another road trip.

Vacation also offers a lot of cameos. Of course we have Chevy Chase, but we also have Ron Livingston, Michael Pena, Kaitlin Olson, Nick Kroll, Tim Heidecker, Colin Hanks (Apparently), Norman Reedus, Keegan-Michael Key, and Charlie Day.

Sorority
Most of my vacations ended up at a college strip fest as well.

Vacation ends up being different than its predecessor in many ways. For one, it is a modern comedy. So there is an industry regulated volume of a dick jokes that it needs to have in its film to make it to the big screen. This sort of thing isn’t always noticeable, because if they have a lot of varied other jokes, you usually don’t even notice all the dick jokes that are secretly hiding in the back ground. Unfortunately, if a movie is 95% dick jokes, they stand out like a sore…thumb. (You thought I’d say penis, heh heh heh).

So yes, it feels like Vacation is a one trick pony, where that trick is jumping over a bar that is floating about an inch over the ground. It would have been nice if they decided to raise that bar instead and make longer smarter jokes, but those are hard and require patience I guess.

Ed Helms just wasn’t interesting. A typical character in his wheelbarrow and it didn’t seem to offer anything new. There was some good interactions between the kids, and Applegate did a fine job.

Honestly, the reason I am giving this a passing rating is for two scenes. One, Four Corners monument scene was surprising and strangely funny. But more importantly, Charlie Fucking Day. This movie is borderline watchable for his scenes alone. Hysterical. High energy. Wet. Fantastic. Technically soon you can probably find the whole scene on Youtube, but I feel like the film should get some credit for featuring something so marvelous in its data innards.

Yep. Without Charlie Day this movie would have just been downright terrible. You don’t hear that phrased that often.

2 out of 4.

Blackhat

Welcome to Blackweek! Yes, that is the official name of the week, no you can’t make me change it.

It is simple. Every movie this week begins with Black. Part of the reason you may have realized is that in January, literally three movies came to theaters called Blacksomething. So all three of them are featured, plus two more! Boy, do I love me some theme weeks.

So we got Blackhat, a (shudder), January movie, one of handful of January movies I have yet to see. I was forced to see the trailer a long time before it came out, and was immediately turned off from it. It is a “hacker” movie but with more action than computers it looks like. It is directed by Michael Mann, which is a dude with a lot of followers for some reason. I can’t say I have any strong opinions on him one way or another.

But did I mention this movie had a terrible trailer?

Vest\
But a snazzy bullet proof vest.

Shit is going crazy everywhere. Some HACKER is hacking into technical mainframes of nuclear reactors and things and causing explosions. EXPLOSIONS! That is in China. In Chicago he is hacking into stock markets and changing the prices around. Oh man, we got a world villain here. So we need China to bring people over to investigate and work with the FBI. Yeah. So we got Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) who was put in charge. That is good. His old roommate was a really good hacker. Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), currently in prison for hacking related crimes. He is so good, you know. But now they need his help to get this other guy. Who are the we? Oh well, Chen’s sister, Chen Lien (Wei Tang). I have no idea how Chinese names work apparently. Also our FBI person, Viola Davis!

And then you know. Shenanigans. Terrorism. More and more explosions and action action action!

That is literally all I can say about the plot.

Here is some more characters. John Ortiz, Holt McCallany, Andy On. Eh. I’m done.

Down
We could easily make this a comedy if those escalators were going the opposite way.

My entire plot description wasn’t long so I will keep this part brief as well.

Blackhat wasn’t an entertaining movie. It wasn’t exciting action wise, character wise, or anything. It was a huge steaming pile of dull.

I was hoping it could actually be bad enough to find parts funny, but I didn’t laugh, just yawned. I mean, the entire thing is ridiculous as we already know, making some hacker also be an action star because why not. Of course they are involved. I think there is a really detailed plot description on Wiki. Read that instead of watching this movie.

Hemsworth is wasted. Wang was kind of interesting. Davis was giving us nothing new.

And yeah. Good start to Blackweek. With a yawn!

1 out of 4.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Do I even have to write an intro? Yes? Well. Fuck. Okay.

The Avengers was stupidly successful. I knew it would be in 2008 or so. Everything Marvel has done has been covered in molten gold, but in a good way, not a Game of Thrones way. So of course everyone is excited about Avengers: Age of Ultron. Honestly, I am more excited about the next Captain America movie and some of the new heroes like Black Panther and Doctor Strange.

But hey. Ultron is cool too. I will take what I can get before we get 3 Marvel and 3 DC movies a year, plus random other franchises.

Ultron
Cool to the touch that is. HA HA HA HA HA.
Shits crazy. If you haven’t seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet, then I can’t really help you. Spoilers on that front.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone, unless you watch the TV show then who knows. Hydra is fucking shit up. The Avengers have gotten together to stop them.

Our friends are all back, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

Remember the twins after the credits of the movie I just mentioned? Well, Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) are also thrown into the fray. An evil fray.

Here’s the important facts though. The Avengers get Loki’s staff back pretty dang quick. And using its power, Tony Stark wants to return peace to the world. He would love to disband the Avengers because he doesn’t want there to be a need for them. So he uses the staff to help begin to build some AI to help protect the world from more outside threats. Shit goes badly. We got a robot that wants to take out all the Avengers now. The Avengers bring threats. They are dangerous. Without them the world would be better. Tony accidentally made an Ultron (James Spader).

What? Is that not enough characters for you? Well fine. We have some other appearances of course, and I won’t tell you how big or small their roles are. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Heimdall (Idris Elba), and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). We also have newbie, Dr. Helen Cho (Claudia Kim), and of course Paul Bettany and ANDY SERKIS.

Thor
But Thor is my favorite so he gets his own picture, damn it.
For movies like this, there is no way I can get through these things without rambling and talking so much. So fuck it. Let’s go classic here. A simple pros and cons list of the movie. Well, a likes and dislikes. Yeah. And with fancy bullet technology!

Likes:

  • Hawkeye. They heard the complaints about him in previous films and they made sure he was an important character. A lot was added to him. He had probably two of the best lines, did cool things, and was fantastic. Everyone should love him.
  • Hulkbuster. Hulkbuster guys. Hulkbuster. Amazing fight.
  • The plot elements in the film are definitely related to the first Avengers. Characters decisions are constantly determined to make sure they don’t redo what was done in NYC.
  • Characters shared the screen. It wasn’t just a one man show and his friends. A lot of characters got a lot of screen time. Most of the new guys got their motivations and back stories. Everyone got to fight and everyone fought hard.
  • It wasn’t an exact repeat of the first movie. There are similar elements, but the threats feel different, the arguments are different, and the jokes are different.
  • They didn’t dick around in the beginning, it starts with action and goes quickly into Ultron time.

Dislikes:

  • Um. Ultron. I think. I mean. It is iffy. But from the many trailers, I expected him to be a bit scarier overall. He had creepy elements. Especially early on. But then he seemed to turn into a mostly joke cracking villain without the fear.
  • Vision. I liked him but I don’t think they did a good enough job explaining him or giving him more things to do. He felt a bit wasted.
  • Time. The movie is 140 minutes or so, but there are several times when the thing still feels rushed, especially in the 2nd and 3rd acts. There is a lot going on and a lot I liked, but some things made no real sense. Better explanation or more cutting would have helped a ton.
  • Love. There is a romance in this movie. It feels…forced and awkward the entire time. It helps lead to some of these moments where you’d like more explanation.

Also, under both categories I could say the Future. This movie does a lot to set up future movies. Future Thanos battle. Elements for the Black Panther movie. Elements for the next Thor and the Civil War (Although I thought they should have gone way stronger on that side). At the same time, this film kind of feels like a big stepping stone for the future instead of its own amazing event. Too much focus on the later movies, which we know the next many years for and not enough about Ultron.

Overall, AoU is really fucking entertaining. Make no mistake. It was a nice ride, and good action and all of that. The characters are the ones we love with new ones you will love as well. But I think it had enough disappointing aspects associated with it to make me not as excited as I had hoped. With all the set up, I think the Civil War movie will be the one that all this hype has been leading up to. Makes sense, because after it is when we start getting all the new characters outside of Ant-Man.

Go see it. Go see it multiple times. I will buy it as soon as I can for sure. But you know, not perfect.

 

3 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.

Rush

One thing I can say about Rush going into it, is that it sure had a lot of trailers. At least three, maybe more, in theaters. They were also very long. This gave me two thoughts.

1) There are a lot of events in this film that just seem like a more serious Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Dude gets burned, big rivalry, one is more foreign than the other one, lots of jealousy, comeback, whatever.

2) The trailers gave…a lot away. Sure, this is a real story, but I can tell you that most people do not know this story. It is different than Lincoln, in which we all know what happens. I am afraid I know everything that happens just from the trailers, which bugs me. Could be a cool story, but I want some mystery still you know.

Hemsworth
Besides the mystery wondering why someone with such lush hair could think about dirtying it up.

I was wrong. The trailers didn’t give a lot away, at all. Sure, some major points, but fuck, a lot happened in this film.

The movie takes place in the 1970s, roughly 70-76. In 1970, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) were both Formula 3 racers with big dreams to race in the Formula 1. Both outcasts by their family, they took different approaches to racing. James lived life every day as if it was his last, laughed in the face of danger, and burned out a lot on races. Niki was intelligent, not a risk taker, but good at driving. He was also a bit of an asshole, because he was honest, and cared most about winning.

Years later, both men were in F1 and constantly at the top of the pack, a fierce rivalry between the two, although both racers definitely respected each other.

1976 was the year when the most dramatic events occurred. Fiery crashes, a close finish for world championship, rain storms, disqualifications, you name it.

We also get some insight into their personal lives. Both had wives, James with Suzy (Olivia Wilde), Niki with Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara). Pierfrancesco Favino played the role of a teammate of Niki’s, and he rocked the mustache well.

Bruhly
Our other star? No lush hair for him, so they can cover it up more.

Holy fuck. I really do mean it, a lot happened in this film and in this rivalry, and I didn’t feel like anything was really spoiled. Sure, that think that happened to Niki? That was kind of spoiled, but that was a big selling point to the movie, and they hinted about it right at the beginning.

I don’t know a lot about F1 racing, but I didn’t have to in order to enjoy this film. Major props to Ron Howard, who’s last film was The Dilemma and well, lame. I felt the fear that those riders must have felt during those difficult races. The way it was all set up really put you in the drivers seat at times. The dialogue was also really great, for both main characters, and I could hear them talk all day.

I think Daniel Brühl was the better actor of the two, putting his whole self into the role, although Chris did fantastic as well. Doing research, I was even more shocked to find out that Brühl was the main character in Good Bye Lenin!, one of the few German movies I own over ten years ago. The film was very graphic when it came to the crashes, accidents, and deaths, so when Niki got injured, it was incredibly cringetastic, yet I could not look away.

But here is the most amazing thing about this film. How close it matches the reality. These events were widely filmed in the 1970s, so I was able to actually watch a lot of the final race, of the race with the crash. I watched these soon after the film, and literally, the film filmed them EXACTLY as they happened in real life. The accident was like, frame for frame recreated the exact same way. How fucking nuts is that? Every race, I have to assume, was equally as correct and not made up. It is mind blowing that Ron Howard went into that much detail, and I am in awe of that ability.

The overall film experience is why it got the review. Sure, some parts I wish they explained better, like the different tire types, and other terminology. I had to ask a friend for some clarification, but holy fuck. Rush was an experience.

4 out of 4.

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