Spider-Man: Far From Home

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

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

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

Gyllenhaal
Oh my god, he is so dreamy.

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

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

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

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

mysterio
Who was this movie about? Mysteriooooooooo.

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry Gyllenhaal. Please do more hero work.

3 out of 4.

Glass

Surprise, its M. Night Shyamalan! He has been on a bit of an upswing lately. After he did The Visit, which was better than expected. And after he did Split, which was really great thanks to acting performances and of course, a surprise sequel.

Now, with Glass, we find ourselves with a trilogy no one would have expected a few years ago. Split works really well as a sequel to Unbreakable, maybe more so because no one expected it to be a sequel.

Unbreakable still holds up today, as a slow origin story and realizing that one might be something greater than everyone else around him. With Glass he has quite a task. Can he fully combine these two films, and bring about some sort of resolution? Because I don’t think anyone is expecting it to continue after Glass, into some just Shyamalan franchise of supers. An update is what we want, not a never ending story.

But hey, I am willing to change my mind should this be awesome.

Door
“Yo lady. Check that door. It’s glass, isn’t it?”

It turns out, that the more I talk about really what goes on in this movie, the more I might accidentally give away in terms of it its plot. As of now, Kevin Crumb and company (James McAvoy) have created the Beast and are causing havok, doing their own thing. Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) is returning to her regular life, and is in a better home situation.

Dunn (Bruce Willis) runs his own security business, while also spending time looking for people to help, and right now, The Beast. His son (Spencer Treat Clark) is now grown up, but still on his side and his “tech base guy”.

Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) has been in a mental hospital for some time, and his mom (Charlayne Woodard) is still alive! And we also have Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) as a psychiatrist, who has a very specific niche.

Also starring Luke Kirby and Adam David Thompson as workers.

Ceiling
What a climatic battle of super people! Wait

First of all, I think general audiences are going to HATE Glass. We have the potential ending of a franchise, two superhuman forces coming to collide. Is it going to be an epic game of cat and mouse? Is it going to be a huge brawl after huge brawl? How is he going to make it feel realistic like Unbreakable?

No, nothing like that. Instead, most of what I imagine people will suspect is going to happen really quickly, and the other 85% of the movie will be something you did not expect. I know I didn’t, but I didn’t see a trailer and so went in with my own regular expectations.

Now I am not saying where it went was bad, it was just extremely weird and unexpected. Specifically, Paulson’s character I really hated, and yet, we were supposed to hate her. There was just other things off with it. The situation she was in, her conversations, they didn’t feel natural so it took me out of the realism they were going for.

This is a lot more than anyone bargained for. And for a lot of the film, I was still sort of digging it. I didn’t think the direction was bad. But the ending. The ending is a mess of “twists” and what felt like a never ending movie. This movie at 129 minutes feels like its three hours. It is very slow paced, and feels like there are multiple regular ending spots.

McAvoy is still fan-fucking-tastic. What we wanted was to see more of his sides, and I lost count, but I think we get to see the rest of his many faces. We get a lot of long shots of him going between his voices, and it is great to see the many transformations.

Samuel L. Jackson is not utilized enough, Bruce Willis looks great (and old) but is too quiet and also under utilized. We need more updates, damn it. It was great to see Clark and Woodward back after so long, replacing them would have been lame.

And finally, I am pretty sure the timing is really off in the movie. It sounds like they said it took place only 3 weeks after Split. Did it? No idea. But if so, then all this talk of 19 years is bullshit, unless Split took place in the future compared to when it came out. And if Glass is only 3 weeks later, from a few years ago, some of the references made don’t make sense. Damn it, I hate it when timelines are confusing and characters can reference songs that aren’t out yet.

Let’s end the review on this note. Again, Glass is weird, it tries to do something different. It succeeded at being different. And I don’t think people will be happy with that difference.

2 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Animated 2018

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Animated 2018! Basically, all of the animated movies of 2018 that didn’t get their own review.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Animated 2018

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

First up is the only third film in a franchise in the group, but there are a few unnecessary sequels as well. And in terms of unnecessary things, this is near the top. This film doesn’t relaly have any redeeming qualities. It is very clear right from the get go what a twist would be, so instead of milking it, they give it away early as well.

The real twist is tricking you to give money for this terrible, terrible movie. The ending features a several minute long dance battle, from various artists, and then an even longer Macarena dance party. Yes, that Macarena. Were they paid to have it featured so prominently, has it been too long outside of our pop culture sphere? It seriously had to milk this scene so hard, as each main character needed to be shown doing the dance, and then group shots, and then tons of tourists, and every person everywhere, with extreme body movements to highlight their awkward appearances. It was one of the worst endings of a movie this year, so well done Hotel Transylvania 3. Please stop now.

0 out of 4.

Group

If only Van Helsing was successful hundreds of years ago, none of this would be here today.

Incredibles 2

Next up is a sequel people have actually been wanting forever, and Brad Bird said only when he had a worthy script, and apparently that meant 14 years later. Real time, not the movie time, as it takes place right after the first movie. And I honestly thought he should have waited longer. This film just feels so uninspired by me. I really didn’t need to see moments after they finished the first film, leaving me at the same exact point except we have a baby with changing every power nonsense. I could have used years later, more developed.

This plot feels too similar to the first. Still people are afraid of supers, but instead of the man going out to fight, its now the lady. The plot twist was once again obvious, so it didn’t do much for me. In 2004, Superhero movies were shit, so The Incredibles stood out as a beacon of hope for things to come. Now Superhero films have been able to elevate their game, bring a whole lot more exciting things, and this film more or less stayed the same. My mind checked out by the end, and it felt like too little too late.

2 out of 4.

group

Babies are hard to care for. Hialrious!

Ralph Breaks The Internet

This sequel is a lot sooner after the first film, to maximize off of its success. However, this felt like a rushed piece of movie that relied on current style jokes only to work, which is going to doom it in the long run. This movie is by Disney, who wanted to flex their expansive collection and throw in all of the princesses and more in an internet hub world to make people giddy, almost as counter to Ready Player One , another nostalgia heavy film. Except this one combines nostolgia with extremely current, so we get memes, we get current popular websites, and it is going to do what many modern comedies do: fade into obscurity in a few years.

It is still nice to look at, and the ending is totally weird, but honestly, they made Ralph into such a shit in this movie. In the first film, he was tired of being a bad guy, who tried to do the right thing, but from his good intentions some bad still happened. In this film, he becomes selfish and straight up almost gaslighting Penelope into staying, and going out of his way to be a dick, whcih causes the problems. He felt like an extreme nice guy. “I did all of this for you, and now you want to leave!? Love me!” These are not the traits to be highlighting in our animated heroes, even if he learns his lesson. He still needed to not be such a dick.

2 out of 4.

group

Ha ha ha ha screaming goats ha ha manipulation ha ha ha free will.

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

This movie is an awkward one, as it had a small release, not a big studio, and looked like absolute shit. Letting us know it is based on a true dog from World War I doesn’t make this feel any less uncomfortable the whole time. In highlighting what a dog did, with most likely extreme examples that might not have happened, we downplay the hell out of actual soldiers in the war who died. I don’t know if anyone is still alive from that war, but I know they would definitely not like this movie iteration.

It was a terrible war, and not saying we can’t make kid versions about the war. But it didn’t do a good job of really informing the details of the war, so it isn’t really educational. Instead, it is a super pup movie, who has a soldier friend, who saves everybody. It is so soft and basic it just feels like a waste of time. Cool, at least one dog in a war was given the title of sergeant. Please don’t trivialize the war at the same time.

1 out of 4.

group

Yo dawg, just no.

Sherlock Gnomes

For those of you who did not see Gnomeo and Juliet (which I will assume is everybody), it was lawn gnomes, but the Romeo and Juliet story line. And for whatever reason, they got Elton John on board with it, and a lot of his hits were either background, or the tune of his songs with different lyrics. It was uncomfortable. So yeah, let’s do a sequel. But a different story. Completely unrelated, except also being British in nature.

Now, if you are like me, you assumed okay, new story, new hero and will just be gnomes. But no, they think we really like the pair from the previous movie and it is still really about them, with also a mystery and extra characters. And despite the first being a big movie about their romance and getting together, this one is also about how Gnomeo is a shitbag who won’t let his woman do her own things, so he has to be insecure and they should not be a couple. More bad things for kids, really. Also, what the fuck is this Shelock plot line. I haven’t seen Homes & Watson yet, but this has got to be the worst year for that poor detective in hundreds of years. Straight up I will let you know, at some point, Watson is found to be part of the bad guy plot as well, because they want something new. Get out of here.

Oh yeah, and still, Elton John music.

0 out of 4.

group

Here are four characters no one ever has, or will, care about.

Smallfoot

This is one of those movies I had completely dismissed before watching it. It looked like an Illumination movie, and they are generally godawful always. But it isn’t that! It is Warner Bros, who is known for Lego Movies and Storks (and that’s it right now). Knowing Storks, I wasn’t excited either. But strangely enough, Smallfoot had a lot going on for it. It had pretty good lead acting and some fun characters. It dealt with a serious topic about dealing with religious doctrination, from many angles. It didn’t say blindly follow, or screw all of it and get rid of it. There were layers to the plot.

I didn’t know it had songs in it either, so when they started I was a bit turned off, but for the most part they are really great. Even when one had to take the riff from Under Pressure, it completely ran with the premise and made it into something wonderful. Shit, the music was dope. I laughed. Now the ending did have a lot of problems, it got clunky and a bit off. But for the most part, Smallfoot is a solid film and better than most of the animated films this year. I’m looking at you, Disney and Pixar.

3 out of 4.

group

Who really has the small feet in this situation, WB, Disney, or Pixar?

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies

And finally, we have a movie that came in a summer and I actually heard a lot of good things about. I heard it was hilarious. I heard I didn’t need to watch the show to like. I watched the first Teen Titans a few times, and it seemed quality. The Go version looked like, and maybe even smelled like trash. And it turns out, their movie seems to go with my preconceptions of the show.

Let’s make this clear. I didn’t laugh once. It had a few fart and potty jokes in it. It had a group of five people but it could not at all let them all be the stars, despite it being a team film. Clearly, a movie about Robin wanting a movie about himself will be more about him. Fine. But the other four are barely used. Cyborg is used a lot more, then Beast Boy, and our girls are rarely mentioned or get a line it seems. It is also a surprise musical, with some tunes being nice.

But what makes this movie insufferable is its over reliance on meta humor and current meme standards. We get it. Its a movie about making a super hero movies. We got superheroes in it, and they are hilarious. It just went all these terrible directions and never felt like something I would ever want to watch. It is like an idea someone made on an internet message board, and for whatever reason, a studio executive was drunk and actually listened to it. Yeah, a movie about making movies. But fart humor. And not showcasing all of the members of the team. And repeated jokes. Yes. God awful.

0 out of 4.

group

God awful.

Overall, I am not surprised that three of these films got the lowest rating. I am surprised at how much I disliked Teen Titans though, could never imagine that poor of a film. I figured Sgt. Stubb would have been worse. I am surprised at the mediocrity from our big studios and how good Smallfoot ended up being.

Some of these films will make the worst of the year list, none will make the best. If you wanted quality animated films from this year, from America, check out Isle of Dogs and Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

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

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

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

Gun
Joke about dicks and guns.

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

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

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

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

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

Explode
The more explosions the better, I guess.

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

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

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

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

1 out of 4.

Kong: Skull Island

I find it very odd to see a lot of hype for the movie Kong: Skull Island. King Kong has happened over and over in film’s history, and given everything I know about the internet, they hate reboots, reimaginings, and remakes of other films, so they shouldn’t care about this one.

But alas, here we are. I don’t have too many fucks to give about it of course, after King Kong 11 years ago. Overly long and it didn’t really do anything different.

I guess this one is bringing in some hardcore CGI and bigger acting names. Maybe that is it. Or people are freaking out over the potential of a Godzilla and Kong showdown in the future. Needless to say, if this film doesn’t do anything different, I will probably be mostly annoyed.

People
I don’t care about context, these two people are not dirty enough.

Kong: Skull Island makes sure you get to see a giant ape really early in the film, when two crashed World War II pilots land on the island, start to fight, and then he shows up. But this isn’t set during that war, this is actually set in 1973, during the end of the Vietnam war.

Bill Randa (John Goodman) is some sort of scientist, who believes there is a lot to discover on this skull island they have found in the South Pacific. Ancient civilizations have talked about it, there are constant storms that surround it, but he wants a mission to explore what has never been explored. Let’s call it a geologic mapping mission. With a military escort.

He is able to gather a team. He has his own crew, a geologist (Corey Hawkins) and a biologist (Tian Jing), along with some extra scientists from another company (John Ortiz, Marc Evan Jackson). They have a legendary British explorer to help explore the jungles, James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who is in it for some money. A prize winning photojournalist, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who helped show the truth about Vietnam to the public. And of course a helicopter team lead by LTC Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and Captain Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell), straight out of ‘Nam.

Most of them assume it is just a real exploratory mission. But really, Randa has an agenda and believes to be giant monsters on this island, and he wants to bring an end to them. They’ve got weapons of many sizes. Unfortunately, when setting off seismic blasts to detect the crust, they wake up these beasts on the island, and they do not like having explosions all over the place. Spread out over the island, the crew has three days to make it to the north side before they can be rescued.

Also featuring John C. Reilly, and a whole lot of soldiers: Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, and Eugene Cordero.

Japanese
Turns out this Kong film has a lot of Japanese influence.

At its heart, Kong: Skull Island is an action adventure flick that wants to show us giant animals fighting some dudes with bombs. Which on its own could be enough for most of the people who want to see it. I will say there are some scenes that look a bit awkward based on CGI usage. It doesn’t always mesh well. But the more pure CGI scenes like Kong fighting with the giant lizards look amazing.

The film also doesn’t pussy foot around Kong. We get to see him in the first few minutes. Within 15 more we are on the island and Kong totally fucks up the helicopters putting our characters in a perilous situation. We get a lot of Kong and they don’t tease him out.

You know what we don’t get a lot of? Character development. Basically every character in this movie is weak on that level. There is no gain. They don’t change. Well, some of them die. We have exactly one character who people will care about and does change and that man is played by John C. Reilly. His character is wonderful, an amazing addition to the film, and worthy of praise.

But Kong: Skull Island is just going to be a interesting film that could have been a lot better. With its post credit scene trying its best to imitate The Avengers it leaves some hope for the future. But have to hope they improve the scripts first.

2 out of 4.

I Am Not Your Negro

2016 was a big year for documentaries detailing the African American experience. From the Netflix release of 13th which is incredibly powerful and up to date and O.J.: Made In America, an epic documentary detailing the most famous trial of the 20th century along with race relations in LA at the same time.

But there was a third documentary that was making a significant amount of buzz. I Am Not Your Negro I first heard about because it was nominated for a Spirit Award (along with the previous mentioned two), but one I had a hard time trying to find. It was a much smaller movie and is only released a few places in the United States.

At its heart, it is about James Baldwin, a famous writer in the 50’s through the 70’s about racial experiences in America, and yes, I never heard of him before this documentary. It is a bit about his life and the life of three other African Americans, Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers (another civil rights activist). All three of those men were assassinated for their beliefs, in a span of five years in the 1960’s.

It is based on an unfinished book by Baldwin, Remember This House, which had only 30 or so pages of notes. It was going to be telling a history of the United States of racism, through their lives and their accomplishments, and what it means to be a black person growing up in the US with the knowledge that these men were killed for being black.

Not your nything
If anything I learned about Baldwin, a very interesting and influential man!

I Am Not Your Negro is an incredible ambitious project, one that could say a whole lot about the world back then and the world right now. It is also narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, because who doesn’t want to hear his voice.

And I can recognize the words and story as powerful. But I will admit they did not resonate with me as much as the two documentaries mentioned on top. It didn’t amplify my life experience, probably because I am super white.

But it doesn’t mean I didn’t think it was right. I thought it told a story that should be said. It is just one that is hard to fully relate to unless you are in the right state of mind.

If you want more after 13th or O.J.: Made In America, go for this one. But don’t let this be your starting point on the subject and let it only amplify the other stories told that year.

3 out of 4.

The Legend of Tarzan

The Legend of Tarzan came out in the coveted July 4th weekend, because…well, I don’t know why.

I guess generic action movies might make bank then. Well, it hit better than expected levels, given that it opened against The Purge: Election Year and The BFG, so there wasn’t a lot of real competition. It still failed to reach a positive number to break even given its extremely large budget and shit reviews.

And I avoided it because it just seemed extremely unappealing. It had that mostly-CGI lens behind it all, attempting to give a new retelling of an old story. It just made a lot of people shrug at its existence and ignoring it, not giving any fucks.

It is the sort of film that gives the bad name to summer blockbuster.

Fight
If we make it modern, we have to make it darker and edgier.

This takes place in Africa, during British colonial rule, specifically the Congo. Apparently the Belgians are close to bankruptcy, trying to bring roads and trains to the Congo, to get that sweet natural resource money. He sends down Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to secure the diamonds down there, but they are ambushed by a tribe, and the chieftain (Djimon Hounsou) will let him have the diamonds if they can bring him one man. You know. Tarzan

Turns out this story takes place after the normal Tarzan stories. Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) is now living in London with his wife, Jane (Margot Robbie). He finds out they want to send him down to the Congo to check on how things are going, as a sort of diplomatic trip, but Tarzan doesn’t want to go. Too dangerous. He is convinced by an American, George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), to go because he believes that the Belgians are abusing the Congo people as slaves in order to build developments, and Williams wants to find out.

Then of course eventually a raid happens, a trap! Jane is captured! Tarzan escapes with Williams! And they have to get her back, put a stop to the bad guys, and have some good old fashioned monkey fights.

Also featuring Jim Broadbent as the Prime Minister.

Group
If I asked who represents Africa and who represents America here, would you know without context?

Reimagining a beloved character isn’t the worst thing ever. It can require creativity, but it always feels like a cheap story nonetheless. They are requiring the public to have certain thoughts and opinions on a subject so that they can be blown away. Reimagining so that a villain is a hero is usually shit. Reimagining in a modern context is usually lazy. But what about telling the story after the story? That can provide some interesting stories to discuss how things have changed and how the character continues their life in the world.

And theoretically, that is what this story is about. It could have led to amazing things! But you know what it led to? Tarzan, going back to the jungle, swinging on vines, fighting people, teaming up with apes, and standing shirtless rain or sun. What we got is a very standard Tarzan story, despit the premise of a different sort of Tarzan story.

And don’t worry. For those saying “Hey! It is different because we don’t see him growing up as a kid with the apes, learning to swing, meeting Jane for the first time!” Nope, we still get that. Because just in case you are unaware of Tarzan, they have flashbacks for us. Baby and young Tarzan. And meeting Jane. That makes this a regular Tarzan movie, plus some extra. You should definitely feel ripped off.

In addition to all of that, it looks terrible when they have to go full on CGI. The big fights with the apes. Swinging on the vines. Just background jungle scenes in general. It has a darker tone too.

I don’t want to compare this to The Legend of Hercules, because that film is definitely a far worse overall movie (and this one is at least coherent). But they are clearly going for the exact same market here, and that is probably the reason it has been so dumbed down and made so pointless.

The Legend of Tarzan is a waste of time, but not the worst thing in the world.

1 out of 4.

The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino is a crazy sunuvabitch.

He has passion, you gotta agree with that. He loves movies and wants movies to be real. Christopher Nolan and him are some of the only reasons film is even relevant anymore.

Tarantino had a lot of problems leading up to The Hateful Eight. Like when his script was leaked before they even began filming, causing him to cancel it completely. After awhile, he apparently changed some things and did it eventually.

He also wanted to film the whole thing on 70mm film, but barely anyone had a projector that could play it. So he decided to just provide free cameras to almost a hundred movie theaters across America, just so people everywhere could see his film in the vision he had in his mind. I can respect that, but I also think he is a single man on a mission to move a mounain. So we will see if his lunacy gets us anywhere. Until then. H8FULL8.

Snow
“Replace more parts of words with numbers, I dare you.”

Set a few years after the end of the Civil War, and thus, after Lincoln’s assassination, The Hateful Eight is about a group of would be killers, maybe killing each other.

Namely, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell), rocking the same facial hair he had in Bone Tomahawk, is bringing a bounty to Red Rock to get executed. Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a very bad murderer and she has a $10,000 bounty on her head, dead or alive. Well, Ruth brings them in alive, because they deserve to have justice done to them. By hanging. Hanging justice. He is nicknamed The Hangman.

Unfortunately, they are currently racing against a mighty big blizzard and his driver, O.B. (James Park) is hoping to get him to Minnie’s Haberdashery before it hits so they can have a place to stay until it all melts. Along the way though, he runs into Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a bounty hunter with his own set of bodies heading to the same place. He is able to get a ride. But they also run into Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), son a Rebel leader who claims he is going to be the new Sheriff of Red Rock!

But when they got to Minnie’s, Minnie wasn’t there. She apparently was away to visit relatives and left Señor Bob (Demir Bichir) was left in charge. Other patrons included Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), a British literal Hangman, Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), a cow puncher visiting his mom, and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern), from the Rebel side looking to bury his son.

Ruth thinks someone is lying. He thinks someone here is not who they say they are and looking to free Daisy and kill all the witnesses. People are lying, and now everyone might die because of it.

Also featuring some less hateful people, Dana Gourrier, Gene Jones, Zoë Bell, and Channing Tatum.

Roth
Tim Roth is actually just playing the real life Christoph Waltz.

The Hateful Eight feels like a play, and I love plays. It is definitely the best part of the film and it is why I might want to watch it over and over. The action is of course another big part, graphic and very violent once it gets going. Not as violent or crazy as his previous films, but it is still pretty up there.

The 70 mm version of the film, which is what this is based off of, did not feel too long at over 3 hours. It went quickly because there was rarely a dull moment. And hell, an intermission meant I could buy a drink and not torture myself for two hours refusing to leave my seat. The overture was a nice touch and of course the music throughout.

The film is tonally different over its two halves and I wasn’t as excited during the second half. The whole thing is set up as a mystery as to who is a liar and a cheat. Without spoiling, let’s just say the whole thing let me down. It was unexpected surely, but not in a good way. There were still some great acting moments in it, and some of the scenes were very tense, but damn, it just wasn’t that sexy of a reveal.

I cannot say for certain of the 70 mm actually added a lot to the film, it’d be hard to without seeing both versions. I believe the digital version is about 20 minutes shorter including the intermission, but I have no idea what they’d cut out of it.

Not Tarantino’s best work, and worst of his most recent films, but still quite memorable and worthy of multiple viewings.

3 out of 4.

Chi-Raq

I may be the only one excited about this film.

I heard about Chi-Raq a few months ago, and like most people, I assumed it would be some sort of Iraq spiritual movie. Chi. Get it?

No, it is Chicago. Okay, a movie comparing the violence and unrest in Chicago to Iraq. After all, Spike Lee is directing it, and that sounds like something right up his alley.

But nothing I have said should make me excited about the film. I hate Chicago (Hockey reasons), and I’ve only seen like three of his films: He Got Game, Inside Man, and of course, the shitty Oldboy remake. However, it is also a modern retelling of the Greek play Lysistrata. As an Ancient History major on my spare time, and lover of Greek plays, the idea became immediately intriguing and something I knew I had to see.

SLJ
SLJ wearing snazzy suits was reason number 2.

Chicago, the land of death. More people have been murdered in that one city than the American deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan since the wars have started. That should be a big deal, but it is ignored. That is why residents of the South Side have started to call it Chi-Raq, because it is a war zone out there and every body is dying.

In this fictionalized version of the city, the war is between two main gangs, the Spartans (purple) and the Trojans (orange). The leader of the Spartans is a rapper, whose stage name also happens to be Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon, don’t get lost on me yet), who people love. The leader is of the Trojans is a guy nicknamed Cyclops (Wesley Snipes), who only has one eye of course and a sexy studded eye patch.

But they aren’t the stars. No. Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris), the most attractive woman in Chi-Raq who also happens to be dating Chi-Raq. They will make beautiful babies some day. But Lysistrata starts to get tired of all the gang violence. She has to watch a mother grieve (Jennifer Hudson) over her dead 6 year old daughter who was accidentally hit during a drive by. She has to live with the fact that her boyfriend might have done it. And thanks to the same sage advice from a neighbor, Miss Helen (Angela Bassett), she realizes she has her own weapon that she can use to sway public opinion.

Yeah. We are talking about her body. No peace? No pussy. Lysistrata gathers her friends (Anya Engel-Adams, and more) and gets with Indigo (Michelle Mitchenor), the main lady friend of Cyclops. She wants them to put their differences aside and fight for change. They don’t allow any sex until the gang violence is over. They will get all the women in Chi-Raq involved. They will even get the prostitutes. They are doing it to protect the babies and their future. And hell, fuck it. They want World Peace, while they are it. And to prove their point, they also will take over a national guard armory in their city to show they fucking mean business. By not fucking.

Sex.

Also starring a lot more dudes. Harry Lennis is the police chief, D.B. Sweeney the mayor, David Patrick Kelly a general, John Cusack the main local priest, Steve Harris the leader of the Knights of Euphrates, Dave Chappelle a strip club owner, and Samuel L. Jackson our narrator and in the “Chorus” role.

Lyst
Booty booty booty booty rockin’ nowhere.

Spike Lee might have out Spike Lee’d himself, as Chi-Raq is potentially the Spike Lee-iest thing he has ever created. It is so out there and original while being a modern retelling of a Greek play. It is amazing that I can say something like that and it totally make sense in the context in the film.

A majority of the dialogue in this film flows like poetry, complete with rhyming words and just being so fucking smooth. It was full of music and full of style. I want to have a copy of the script immediately, just to read some of the word again. I will buy this movie in the future and always watch it with subtitles, just to get the full impact and appreciate the cleverness of it all.

I hope beyond everything that Teyonah Parris gets nominated for a Best Actress award for this film. She owned the shit out of it, her presence on camera made you always focus on her and she nailed it. Some people might write off this film as just some “Sex movie” but it is a sex appeal film and not just one giant soft core porno. Parris is not afraid of anything from this film, tackling the hard subject matter in all the different ways.

Chi-Raq has all the same messages from Dear White People, but in a way that strangely makes it more relatable (not on a college campus). It is also incredibly modern, including references to every Black male shot that made political news, but also the Charleston shootings (which was in June this year) and Sandra Bland (July this year). Typing it makes me realize how long ago that was technically, I could have swore they were only two months ago. But eh, still modern as shit.

Original. Fun. Serious. Spike Lee.

4 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.

1 2 3