Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi has quickly risen up the ranks of directors that if they make a film, I will want to see it. I don’t even have to realign my values at any point. He already makes films that sound interesting to me, and then I find out he directed it and can get double happy! You know, like those rainbows!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, his last movie before Thor: Ragnarok, made my top of the year list for 2016.

Now this title of Jojo Rabbit doesn’t scream out anything on its own. Knowing it is about Nazis in WW2 does…not also make anything clearer. Those people going into this movie with a blank slate are going to be quite shocked at what they have picked, but lets be honest, how many people do you think would go into a movie with this title without any advertising?

dinner
This screenshot really just raises more questions than it answers.

Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is 10 years old, it is 1945, and he loves Hitler! Oh, he is also blonde haired, blue eyed, and in Germany as a German. He has grown up entirely in the Nazi hype, and hasn’t known anything besides the Third Reich.

His mother (Scarlett Johansson) is basically raising him on her own, as his father was sent off for the war effort years ago and is somewhere in Italy. He hasn’t been heard from in a few years, so he might be dead, maybe he ran away, who knows. But with his mom working, Jojo is alone most of the time. Sure he has a sort of best friend, Yorki (Archie Yates), but his real best friend is Hitler (Taika Waititi). Or at least his imaginary friend version who tells him how to be a man and how to live his life so he can please his family and friends.

He joins the Hitler Youth war effort. He dons the uniform. He gets a job and volunteers the best he can do at home. And yet, is it enough? Is his mom pleased?

Oh, and eventually he finds that there is a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in his house, with his mom’s permission. What is he to do? Turn her in? That would get his mom in trouble. No, he should study her, and maybe publish a book on his Jew findings.

Also starring Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, and Stephen Merchant.

Jew!
Ah! Jew behind you!

Jojo Rabbit is an unapologetic look at German youth during the final year of WW2. Why is it unapologetic? Well, it has nothing to apologize for. It should be noted first and right away this movie is not trying to glorify Nazi culture or upbringing in anyways. It isn’t trying to say there are fine people on both sides.

It does however highlight that people who were involved could be involved because they know nothing else, which sure, is true. It wants us to know about the German resistance groups who were killed trying to protect others, even when the country was clearly about to lose. Those in power wanted to “win at all costs” even if it meant taking out its citizens and throwing them in the path of the bullets.

Now obviously this is not a historical non-fiction story, but it does tell a unique story. The Jewish girl isn’t a magical other force to make Jojo see the wrongness of the actions, but just a piece of his own growth.

Every scene between Davis and Johansson was wonderful, especially the dinner scene, and one of the scenes in the middle. There was so much sadness in Johnasson’s character over her inability as a single parent to raise her boy the way she knew was right for fear of death for her and her family.

It is a powerful story about overcoming everything you have ever believed in, in the face of overwhelming evidence that you are wrong. It is a movie that tells us that people can change for the better.

And let’s not forget, Waititi is himself part Jewish, and that is why he decided to play Hitler. He figured it was the biggest insult he could give to an evil man.

3 out of 4.

Avengers: Endgame (Spoilers)

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

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

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

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

heroes
Together Each Achieves More.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 4.

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.

Isle of Dogs

Fantastic Mr. Fox came out in 2009. It was not my first Wes Anderson movie, but it was the first Wes Anderson movie I really, really loved. Not saying I hated everything before it, no. In fact, at that time, I only had seen one of his movies which was The Royal Tenebaums. I maybe saw it too young and was not ready for its quirks, and still haven’t seen it for redemption, but I didn’t love it. The fox though? Yes. Every one of his movies since then? Yes.

But this is something different and special. This is 9 years later, and another goddamn animated stop motion movie. Can he recreate the magic of Fantastic Mr. Fox but with Isle of Dogs? More talking animals?!

At least with his last one, it was based on a previous book. But this is a new idea, based on dogs, a culture that isn’t his, and a sort of throwback to a cinema that he loves. I was certainly excited again, especially given how much shit 2017 gave us for the animated category.

Dogs
Can I have all of these doggos? Please tell me no doggos actually die.

Set in the fictional future of some world that is similar to our own, we have to go to Megasaki City to find our story. In this city, the new mayor, Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), is from a family with a long hatred of dogs. They are cat people and want to get rid of dogs forever! Well, that is great, because these dogs are gaining some sort of dog virus and snout flu, which has the ability to transfer over to humans! He declares that all dogs in the city must be sent over to Trash Island, in order to quarantine them until a cure can be found. Speaking of cures, Professor Watanabe (Akira Ito) thinks he is really close to getting a cure and hopes everyone will wait. But mobs be mobbin’, yo. And the dogs start getting sent that very night.

And now, a few months later, the island gets a non furry visitor. Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin), a young boy who is ward of the mayor, has crashed a tiny plane in the island, in hopes of finding his old dog Spots (Liev Schreiber) location. Although dogs cannot speak any form of human language, we the viewer are happy to note that the film translates their language into English! Yay!

He finds a group of alpha dogs to help him on his quest. These dogs include Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray), and Duke (Jeff Goldbloom).

Can these dogs find the missing dog for this little human boy? Can they also cure the dog flu, and put an end to this corrupt mayor? Well, maybe. I don’t know. Or if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.

Also starring the voices of Courtney B. Vance, Tilda Swinton, Yoko Ono, Ken Watanabe, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, and F. Murray Abraham.

Sling
The human has thumbs so he can do some interesting things with them.

I loved, loved, loved Isle of Dogs. A lot, very much so. Before I get into those details, lets talk about the controversy.

You see, there is a lot of talk of white savior complex, cultural appropriation, and more going on with this movie. It is set in a fictional future dystopian-esque Japan, or at least one city in Japan. And coming from a place of white privilege and all of that, I can honestly say I really don’t see it at all. The white savior thing just seems like it would be assumed by people who read a plot outline, not watched the film, because it is no where close to the normal problematic levels. The other issues I just also really can’t see well. I can’t say that they aren’t true, because I certainly don’t speak for Japanese people or their culture, but I can say that I didn’t really get that vibe at any point, and didn’t affect me negatively either for this movie.

Back to the film! Holy shit dogs!

What a totally immersive story. There were little quirks here and there that could remind you of it being a film, especially when it came to the various translation methods, but I just wanted to live there and run around and frolic despite all of the bad things that were going down. The dogs in particular all have their own personality and jokes that surround them, for good quick laughs.

I really enjoyed that I couldn’t understand the entire film. The Japanese characters spoke Japanese, and didn’t always have a reason to be translated or subtitled, and during those times, well, if you knew Japanese you could follow 100%. The audience was required to watch the facial expressions and to hear obvious key words to make sure we could follow. It was great to not get everything super dumbed down.

Isle of Dogs is an interesting adventure, a unique tale, and a story that just seems to have so many tiny perfect details that it would be fun to watch over and over again. Until though, I will just settle for a rewatch of Fantastic Mr. Fox.

4 out of 4.

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell came out a whole year ago, March in 2017. The oldest film on my list of things I should have totally seen last year. And reviewed. And this time there are just no excuses.

I mean, it came out on DVD and Redbox in the summer. Plenty of time to catch up to it. The only reason I didn’t see it was straight up apathy.

I didn’t see the original anime, but the controversy behind it makes sense. Good old white girl playing an incredibly Japanese role. Well, she is a robot, but that barely makes it okay. I went into this film not too stoked, but hey, maybe it is pretty.

Bodysuit
This is the strange robot nakedness that gets certain jollies off.

In the future (!), humans have started to add robot parts to their bodies. Or special programs. Things to make them stronger, smarter, better eye sight, whatever. Normal helpful things. But one corporation decided to go further. They made an entirely awesome robot body, all the strongest best technologies. They just need a human brain to put inside of it to make it work.

Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) is almost killed in some cyber terrorist attack, her body mangled beyond repair, but she is still alive. Heck, her parents were killed in the same attack. So Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) think she is a perfect subject to put into the shell, to keep her alive.

And they can’t just let anyone be in this fucking amazing body. They decide to make her part of the counter-terrorism force. To hunt down crime and put a stop to it with her sexy robotic body. Basically, a sexy RoboCop.

Anyways, Mira doesn’t remember a lot about her past. But she is now going against a hacker with her small team, so you know she is totally going to get mind fucked.

Also starring Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano, Michael Pitt, Chin Han, and Peter Ferdinando.

Asian
Sort of hard to find an actual Japanese element in this film at times.

Sure, yeah, Ghost in the Shell is a pretty film. Not like gorgeous as fuck, like Blade Runner 2049, but not ugly either. Instead, it is mostly just a mass of CGI and lights and technology. It is technically pretty, but it feels empty. Like…like a shell of a movie.

In terms of plot, it is very hard to follow and specific. It is certainly not entertaining. It feels like a goddamn chore to get through it. I obviously watched it in the comfort of my home, so I was able to pause it and do other things multiple times, because I didn’t want to just pass out throughout the whole film.

I wanted to sleep during the movie, but I knew I needed to know how bad and pointless it was.

Another film that wants to be deep, most likely shitting on the source material all the way through it, and just feeling like a waste of time. How much of a waste of time? Well, less than two hours thankfully. But this film is a travesty to science fiction.

0 out of 4.

Sing

Sing is the last animated film I need to review that is a major US release!

I will be honest that I wasn’t really looking forward to Sing at all. It is the fourth anthropomorphic animals major release this YEAR (After Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootopia, and The Angry Birds Movie), in a year where we also had regular talking animal movies as well (Finding Dory, Storks, Ice Age: Collision Course, Norm of the North, The Secret Life of Pets). Fuck.

Basically everything is about talking animals this year. Moana and Kubo and the Two Strings aren’t fully about that, and that might be why they are my favorite two of the year. The only really big animated films I can think of are Trolls (talking magic things) and Sausage Party (talking food). 2016 wasn’t the most creative film year, and it is sort of a huge let down for animated films.

Oh but wait! This isn’t a talking animal movie! This is a singing animal movie. With a lot of popular songs being sung by animals, reminding me of recent very bad animated jukebox musicals. Please be better to me 2017.

Disappointment
The face you make when your realize Cars 3 is coming out in 2017.

Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is a koala bear who fell in love with the theater as a kid. With the help of his father, he earned enough money to buy the theater and produce shows for hundreds more to fall in love with! But now, years later, he is far in the red, unable to pay his crew, or the bills, or his loans. He is friends with Eddie (John C. Reilly), a lamb son of a rich family, but even they won’t bail him out now.

But he has an idea! Singing competitions are all the rage, so he wants to host a local one, only featuring regular people that they all know and want to show off their talents. He will give the winner a $1,000 prize and hopefully get enough money to get back in the black. But his assistant (Garth Jennings) accidentally puts a $100,000 prize, putting the whole town into a frenzy and driving up expectations through the roof.

And our contestants are of course all over the map. There is Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a stay at home pig mom of 25 kids with a husband who is overworked. Johnny (Taron Egerton), a gorilla from a crime family who doesn’t really want to steal. Meena (Tori Kelly), a young elephant who has extreme stage fright. Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a old timey street musician mouse who just wants money and fame. Ash (Scarlett Johansson) and Lance (Beck Bennett), a hedgehog teenage rock duo, but Lance doesn’t want to share the singing spotlight. And of course Gunter (Nick Kroll), a German pig who has no fears when it comes to his body.

Who will win? Who will get screwed over? Who will die?!

Also featuring the voices of Nick Offerman, Peter Serafinowicz, and Rhea Perlman.

Pigs
Pigs are people too, and are tired of being dance shamed.

Sing is the type of film that will give you exactly what you expect. Animals, being human like, and singing pop songs. And if that is all you need to go on to enjoy a film, then you will be in for a treat. If you want something with a bit of more substance to its plot, you will be saddened and only a little bit toe-tappy.

The lessons of the film tell us to follow our dreams, no matter how many bills you wrack up, loved ones you hurt, and lives you ruin. It will all hopefully work out in the end.

McConaughey’s character seems to be a sort of more family friendly and desperate version of his character in Magic Mike. MacFarlane plays a rat who is so annoying right off the bat that I have no remorse for his character at any point in the movie. On top of that, they never resolve that characters plot line at the end. I assumed it would be an after credits scene but we were left with nothing.

Johansson as a hedgehog, Witherspoon as a pig, and Egerton as a gorilla all worked (but it took me awhile to accept the last one, because the gorilla look and clothing just felt off). I was most surprised by Egerton’s singing voice, but it isn’t the first time he impressed me this year.

Music wise, it didn’t seem to click or work until the end. And it damn well better by that point, when they put on their show and resolve all of their issues through the power of singing in public. Everyone feels like a winner. At the same time, I wonder what the entire purpose of the film was. A small story, no real steaks or issues to worry about, Sing becomes an easy movie to make on account of how easy it can merchandise.

A few of the trailers really gave away most of the bigger moments. I am most annoyed by the teaser trailer though, that decided to showcase a ton of different animals singing different songs. That is basically directly out of the film, with little editing and no more substance. We only get to see a lot of diversity for a little amount of time. And the worst part about that scene, the try outs, is they didn’t even try to make it seem realistic by having different people sing the songs. Instead it was jut playing the actual songs over their quick and quirky cast. What a let down.

If you give me an animal singing song, I want a unique voice singing that song, damn it. If I wanted to actually hear the song, I could always just use the internet myself. No amount of scantly dressed rabbit will make up for it.

2 out of 4.

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: The Winter Soldier before 2016 was the best Marvel movie to date. It was solid all around, had the best action, the biggest stakes, and was nearly perfect. Before that, Captain America: The First Avenger was probably the second most solid solo film of Phase 1, behind Iron Man and also behind The Avengers.

Despite the resounding success of Captain America films and the Russo Brothers at directing, I was worried about Captain America: Civil War. Like, really really worried.

First of all, it is one of the only full plot lines I have actually read the comics for, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Second, I had seen a few trailers and I was worried about a lot of things. If the trailers gave too much away. That the plot felt forced (unnatural) and the big fight between the two groups would be cheesy. That the previous films didn’t set things up enough for the resentment to be believable.

A huge list of worries. I only need to state them out clear so I am not shown to be a fanboy. Especially after Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, I was ready for disappointment.

Shield
And no matter what happened, I would be Team Cap all the way.

This movie will make more sense if you saw Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. I assume you did, because come on, Marvel.

The film actually starts out, after some flashbacks, in Lagos, Nigeria! Some current avengers (Captain America (Chris Evans), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)) are staking out important buildings, looking for Crossbones (Frank Grillo). Needless to say, not everything goes perfectly and some civilians get hurt. Namely, a group of missionaries!

Based on those events, the events in NYC, in Sokovia, and more, the world has decided to stand up in unity and demand action. Over 100 countries have signed the Sokovia Accords, which states that the Avengers will now only act if they have permission from a UN Panel, and of course, have to act if they deem it necessary. A few of the Avengers agree with these accords. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is feeling guilty and War Machine (Don Cheadle) is on his side. Hell, even Vision (Paul Bettany) feels it is necessary to avoid problems in the future.

But not Captain. He has trust issues with these sorts of groups now, and doesn’t want to be forced to step aside if he sees wrong doing, or be forced to do something he sees as wrong. So he doesn’t sign the papers. The papers are led by the King of Wakanda, T’Chaka (John Kani), who is especially pissed that their primary export was used to make Ultron. And sure enough, more bad things happen. Apparently The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is at it again!

Fuck, so much shit. Captain believes Bucky is just brainwashed and wants to protect his old friend and not let the government kill him. So yeah, there is some conflict here. Captain and a few others agree to help him out, to get to the bottom of all of this, while the other guys have to stop them for negligently doing bad things to the UN and other officers. Fuck, who is right, I don’t know?!

Also featuring the return of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp). And of course, introducing Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, and Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo. William Hurt plays the Secretary of State and Martin Freeman as the head of the UN Avengers Council thing.

Shield2
Shit Spider-Man, why do you gotta go and steal my boy’s shield like that?

Captain America: Civil War is two and a half hours long, but I found myself wanting more. I needed more. More of everything! I could spend the next 500 words just comparing it to BvS, but that wouldn’t be a review of this film, it’d just be a shitty comparison. So I will keep it short: Civil War did a lot of things right that BvS did not.

Civil War turns out to be a fanboy’s wet dream. The action is incredible throughout most of the film. For each and every spout of athleticism, you can understand the fight. There aren’t a thousand quick cuts or shaky cameras. You will not only see well choreographed fighting skill sets before your eyes, but each character fights true to their persona and powers, so no one ends up fighting the same. Of course, a lot of heroes end up fighting and battling with other heroes. We also get tons of team ups you haven’t seen before. All of this creates for some intense scenes with a whole lot of fan service.

Now now, I know what you are thinking. If basically everyone is a good guy with future films, the tension can’t be real. Well, for the most part you shouldn’t expect people to die. Because it is a comic book movie and all that reason. I am not saying people don’t die, but I am saying for sure a lot of people do get hurt, both physically and emotionally. This is not a movie that wraps up everything with a nice big bow, it changes the future landscape of the films…much like The Winter Soldier did.

On another note, Civil War doesn’t go the obvious route throughout the plot. It didn’t go the typical Marvel movie route. It didn’t just keep escalating the odds to ridiculous levels. It had emotional backing behind it, on every side and even on the villain side. Some can complain that the villain is too calculating, but when I compare his plan to someone like Lex Luther’s (fuck I did it again), his makes a lot more sense without ridiculous stretches.

Shield3
Thank’s Black Panther. You are clearly just aggressively giving the shield back here.

Now here, allow me to hype things.

Black Panther HYPE! What a great introduction to this guy. He was shown to be strong, agile, moral with conflicting issues given his royal upbringing. His inclusion in this film was well written and explained, along with why he chose to fight. He is in this film a bunch, more than most of the other Avengers. I am so excited for this eventual film and future roles.

Spider-Man HYPE! Spider-Man was in this film a lot more than I expected as well. We got to see him as Peter Parker a bit as well for an introduction. His fighting was very spider like, along with his normal combat quips. They also showed his age really well, when compared to the old ass fuckers on the team, giving a clear and distinct gap in knowledge bases and general attitude.

Future films HYPE! I can’t wait for more. Like I said originally, I wasn’t looking forward to Civil War. After BvS, I certaintly wasn’t looking forward to Suicide Squad. All of my hopes were riding with X-Men: Apocalypse, which I don’t see as being good as the last two, and Doctor Strange, which I am pretty excited for. But now I have higher hopes for the future of Marvel films. Higher than I already anticipated.

On a final note, despite the large cast and significance of the plot, Civil War was worthy of being called a Captain America film. It wasn’t just Avengers 2.5. His characters was largely the focus of the film, but at the same time he wasn’t a simple protagonist. Chris Evans is GOAT, hooray movies.

4 out of 4.

The Jungle Book

This is Disney doing a live action remake of one of their old animated films. Nothing new about that of course. The Jungle Book has already had a live action remake once (it’s bad), and it is based on an older story, so they wanted to get theirs out there quickly.

But did you know about the other Jungle Book movie, Jungle Book: Origins? The one directed by Andy Serkis to showcase new motion cap technology? I had thought that one was supposed to come out this year, to get all doppleganger film-y and all. But nope, its release date was October of 2017. And just because this one is getting such good ratings, they pushed it back to October of 2018.

Sucks for that Jungle Book. Especially since I am pretty sure it was announced first and it is already in post production now, we just have to wait 2.5 years.

Unless it gets pushed back again. Because this film, the Disney Jungle Book, already has announced a sequel. It is like Disney is just trying to screw over poor Andy.

[Editor’s note: Since writing this but before publishing, Serkis’ movie has now been renamed to just Jungle Book, probably increasing future confusion. But at least it won’t sound like a prequel anymore.]

Bear
Oh well Andy. Hakuna Matata or whatever it is that bears say.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi), the poor little man-cub, was abandoned in the Jungle when he was but a toddler. The noble Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), a black panther, discovered him and felt pity. Even though Man is a danger to the jungle, he was but just a cub and would die on his own and he needed a family of his own. So he brought Mowgli to the wolf pack. There he could learn to be a wolf and there would be a shit ton of wolves to help protect them.

The wolf pack leader, Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) agreed to take him in, but really he was raised by Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) as one of her cubs.

But eventually the ferocious tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) finds out about Mowgli’s existence. He hates Man and knows what they can do, so he needs to be killed before he destroys them all. He threatens the wolf pack and eventually it is decided that Mowgli needs to be taken to the closest man village to protect him. So Bagheera agrees to take him there.

Of course that doesn’t work. A nice tiger attack separates the two of them, and Mowgli has to live on his own in the Jungle. Mowgli now has to survive on his own, when big ass boa constrictors (Scarlett Johansson) are trying to eat him, even more big ass Orangutans (Christopher Walken) are capturing him, and bears (Bill Murray) are trying to befriend him for food help. Oh that last one isn’t too bad.

Also Sam Raimi and Jon Favreau voice a couple animals, how neat.

Snake
Trusssssssssst meeeeeeee, it is very neeeeeeeeat.

The Jungle Book is another modern movie where literally every main character is voiced by a very famous person not known for their voice work. There are some cubs and minor animals with who the hell knows voice people, but for the most part we are squandered in celebrities. And not every celebrity with a unique voice makes them great at voice work. Robin Williams has an obvious voice, but each character was unique and special. Not every character felt unique and special.

Let’s start with the good voice actors. I really liked Elba, Nyong’o, Johansson and Kingsley. At least Johansson is known for one voice work (Her), but everyone else seemed to bring some passion and heart into their voice. I hated Kingsley’s Bagheera at first, but I grew into it and it felt natural. Elba was the real powerhouse here as Shere Khan and was a voice to be reckoned with.

On the other hand, Baloo the bear just sounded like a lazy Murray in a bear suit. And of course King Louie as Walken was just all over the place. It turned what should have been a scarier scene into a joke, because it is Walken’s voice and he didn’t change anything about it.

Speaking of voices, I was worried from the trailers that everyone would sound like they were just in a recording studio as they did their lines, but the post-production guys did a good job of making everything natural.

As for one final complaint about voices, this film suffers from animal talking inconsistencies. They are in a Jungle and everyone can talk and understand each other? Cool. It isn’t just Mammals either, because we have the snake joining in the fun. But you know who cannot talk? Elephants for some reason. They only make Elephant noises. Bees only buzz, and about 800 monkeys just squeak and shrill, despite the orangutan singing and yelling. This might seem like a minor complaint, but that is the sort of lack of forethought that just creates a technically confusing universe. Give me all, or give me none, but don’t give me arbitrary rules that make certain animals just into animals.

The visuals and animation for the animals were extremely top notch. Everything for the most part felt realistic, outside of one stampede scene, and I have no complaints from that. The jungle itself was also a diverse and beautiful setting and it made viewing the film a great experience.

And sure, I liked that they included a few of the original songs. They did feel out of place and didn’t sound as great as the cartoon, but still keeping them was a nice touch.

The Jungle Book is a great adaptation, but it could have been the BEST adaptation if they went for top tier talent and consistency.

3 out of 4.

Hail, Caesar!

Fuck yes. I am hyped. I am beyond hyped. I am too hyped.

I am hyped because I am excited to see Hail, Caesar!, potentially the first great movie of the year. We are out of January, and things can start to look up, if only for a little bit.

But hold the fucking phone. Two years ago, on the first Friday of February 2014, a different movie came out that I was super hyped for. That was The Monuments Men. I assume everyone knows that The Monuments Men ended up being one of the most disappointing films of that year, given that it had such an excellent cast and potential, but it was entirely squandered.

And George Clooney starred in both of them. Arguably there is more talent behind the scenes this time, but he has let me down before almost two years to the day.

So I am going in a bit timid. Excited, hoping for the best, but weary nonetheless.

Cloon
BUT CLOONEY IS THE GREATEST ACTOR OF ALL TIME.

In the 1950’s, Hollywood was a rough place. It was chaotic. There was no CGI. The sets were big and the egos were bigger. Heck, people were talking and singing in movies now. In color. Everything is splashy and outlandish.

Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a man who loves his wife and kids and is a devout Catholic. But he is a hard ass and he knows what needs to be done. He is one of the heads of Capitol studios, the biggest studio in Hollywood, and he is a fixer. He works long hours, looks at the film dailies, and make sure everything goes according to plan. That means makes sure the actors are where they are, finding replacements, protecting the image of everyone working there from a potential disaster. He is a one man wrecking crew, but like, the opposite of wrecking, because he saves everything.

So when Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) goes missing from his set of Hail, Caesar!, a giant historic epoch of a Roman general who met Jesus before he was crucified and became a believer, Mannix was on the case.

Mannix will also have to deal with a western actor being forced into serious drama (Alden Ehrenreich), the acclaimed director who cannot stand it (Ralph Fiennes), a singing swimming starlet whom is pregnant but unmarried (Scarlet Johansson), gossip columnists (Tilda Swinton), and maybe leaving this job behind for a similar, better paying, easier job in the tech industry. He doesn’t have to worry about Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) though, he’s perfect.

Also featuring Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Veronica Osorio, and Alison Pill. They all basically have only one scene. But Heather Goldenhersh has a bunch, still minor.

Mermaid
Every good film has a mermaid in it.

Oh you Coen brothers. You sly devils. I originally watched the trailer for Hail, Caesar! assuming it would be a period peace film. I love Ancient Rome things, and I would love it if they decided to put their hats into that ring. But it wasn’t about ancient Rome, it was about Hollywood and many film genres of the 1950’s. They decided to go meta with it, allowing multiple story lines and themes, providing a bit of satire along the way.

Well, I still hope in the future they give me a movie about Ancient Rome with George Clooney in it. I will be wait. Thankfully, Hail, Caesar! was a great movie to watch to help pass the time.

H,C! was hilarious. It really had my funny knee in stitches. I might be getting some of that terminology wrong, but I giggled quite hard many a time. In particular, I loved the religious round table, the scenes between Ehrenreich and Fiennes, and the song and dance numbers. Ehrenreich killed it in this film, despite still being relatively unknown. He has the same sort of vocal twang he had in Beautiful Creatures that made me so happy, so I was glad to hear it again.

Brolin did a nice job of carrying the film, although his character felt like a lot of his previous roles. Clooney and Tatum were also swell.

What can I say? The Coen brothers are a great team. They know how to write together and direct together. They consistently put out high quality entertainment, even though not everything is a guaranteed hit, you know there is a good chance it will at least still be zany.

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.

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