Tag: Action

Top Gun: Maverick

Danger Zone? Take My Breath Away? Great Balls of Fire and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling? (Technically)

The original Top Gun had a pretty stacked soundtrack, especially when it had at least two very famous songs that were made for the movie. The latter two already existed, but damn it, we had pilots singing them, so they were memorable too.

I personally hadn’t seen the original Top Gun until a couple of weeks ago. And yet, I knew everything about what happened in the movie. I knew how it would end, I knew who would die (spoilers?), I knew how the volleyball would game. Top Gun has been completely culturally osmosised, which I am going to count as a word here. But really I wanted to finally watch it to make jokes like they do in Flight of the Conchords, how everything is like Top Gun.

Like a lot of people, I went in expecting the sequel film, Top Gun: Maverick, to be utter shit. Sequels several decades later, based on a movie that had a very weak plot, aren’t usually allowed to be good, let alone better. But I guess everyone agrees, Maverick is a better film than the original.

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Never get into a four way with jets. Unlike, I guess, you are a jet too?

Remember how Top Gun ended? Maverick (Tom Cruise) said he wanted to stay at Top Gun and teach pilots? Well, apparently that didn’t last long, because he became a test pilot instead, so he can fly experimental new aircraft. He has a need for speed. And for putting his life on the line. But its modern day, and he has to get on with the fact that most of the planes are going to be drones now, and they are wasting money on new pilot planes. Apparently Iceman (Val Kilmer) being one of the main admirals is the only reason he is still on the payroll.

But now he has to go to one final outpost. He has to go back to Top Gun, because he needs to train former Top Gun graduates, most of which are firsts in their class. The best of the best. Even though he crashed and burned as a teacher, he is the only one who they have available left to teach them, as the only one who has similar experience flying under these conditions. It is a complicated plan, to take out a nuclear bomb facility before it is turned online. It involves going fast and low, twists and turns, avoiding anti-aircraft missiles, and some tight up and down maneuvers at the end. Also they have to have two different direct hits on the target, with basically only two shots overall to get both hits. Great.

Maverick, reluctantly agrees, because he also doesn’t want to quit flying, not yet. And he can still have fun with this. But things will sour and overcomplicate when he finds out one of the pilots in the program is Rooster (Miles Teller), son of Goose, whom Maverick still feels responsible for his death even though he was cleared of wrong doing. And for sure, Rooster hates Maverick, and thinks he is going to not go on the mission, even if he has earned it, if Maverick pulls him for guilt.

Lives are on the line, guilt is in full force, and a 60 year old man is going to have to prove he can make some hard decisions this time.

Also starring Ed Harris, Glen Powell, Greg Tarzan Davis, Jay Ellis, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Lewis Pullman, and Monica Barbaro.

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Still legally obligated to post a mustache picture if they show up.

Is Top Gun: Maverick better than Top Gun? Yes. But you have to understand, and this will be hard for a lot of people. Top Gun is not a great movie. It can be memorable, and exciting for the time, but it technically wasn’t even a great movie in the 1980’s even if it made a lot of money. It was a propaganda tool, with a cool soundtrack, and a really, really, dumb plot.

So Top Gun: Maverick should be easily a better film. Does it rely on nostalgia? Yes, it starts off with Danger Zone again. I was worried all the main hits would be replayed, but they only did half of them. One of its issues was taking its time dealing with the fact that the first film ended with him going into teaching, and the sequel clearly not wanting that to be the case, so that he could come back decades later. They had to have him fail and run away, and some other suspicious backstory they crammed in with new actors/actresses over the run time of this film.

I will say, him becoming a test pilot definitely feels a lot more true to his character, so I will give the sequel that. Having to deal with the complicated decision of sending his former best friend’s son to his potential death, or refusing to let him go even if he earned it, was a great decision to grapple with. It did carry a lot more weight than I was expecting for this sequel film.

And yet, some of the decisions in the sequel feel hollow. After all, having a whole film where he is told he needs to know when to let go and to move on, when to let someone else to take the controls and fly, and his character struggling with that acceptance the whole film? Again, makes sense. Buuut, if they throw it all away for One Last Mission™ then did it really matter? It reminded me of the last Bad Boys movie, making something actually interesting with Martin Lawrence being a pacifist, just to get rid of it when convenient and make a generic action film.

Again, Top Gun: Maverick is better than its predecessor. The fight scenes are actually watchable, the maneuvers are exciting, and it is overall more entertaining. That does not make it a top tier film, just an okay entertainment flick.

2 out of 4.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the 49th film in the MCU. I mean, maybe, it is hard to say at this point. I ain’t keeping track anymore, and I don’t know how many Sony or Fox films get to count either.

I do know this is another one of those films with some spicy drama behind the stage. You may have forgot this by now, but Scott Derrickson, famous relatively new director of horror film classics like Sinister, was signed on to direct this movie. A horror guy! To do a marvel film! People got real excited over that concept. Is this gonna be scary as fuck?

No, because Derrickson left. And one of the writers. Over creative differences. Damn, he must wanted it more scary and Marvel said nope.

So what did they do? They confused us all and brought in Sam Raimi. Raimi is known for two things. His horror films (especially The Evil Dead trilogy), and for the original Spider-Man trilogy. This guy knows superheroes and horror! So what kind of film is this going to be? Regular superhero stuff? Horror superhero? Some wild ass shit Raimi dreamed in Michigan one cold morning? Who the fuck knows! It’s a mystery. Just like the Multiverse of Madness.

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Run, don’t walk, to the nearest bad joke store for more zingers! 

This film assumes you have seen two things by now, so I am going to as well. WandaVision and Spider-Man: No Way Home. The former is far more important too, so get your 9 half hour episodes on.

This film also takes place in some generic time frame, because they fucked up the years of these things being released. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has now been invited to Christine’s (Rachel McAdams) wedding! And it definitely isn’t to him. He fucked that shit up. Oh well.

But in the life of a hero, there is always danger, and sure enough, some shit starts flying around. That is where Strange meets America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), being attacked by a giant tentacled eye monster! No name for this film, I think it is copywriter. Eventually Strange and Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong) find out that Chavez is from another universe, and get more information about the multiverse. She can travel between them, it is her power, and there is a demon or something after her hoping to steal that gift for their own personal gain.

Shit. What’s a former Sorcerer Supreme to do? Especially when there is evidence of a different Stephen Strange and knowledge that he wasn’t fully on the up and up. Guess it is to enlist the help of some strong entities, and protect her before some universes collide.

Also starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Elizabeth Olsen, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Also more people, but shhh.

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Is this a horror screen shot? Is this fantasy? Is this porn? 

It was very hard to go into this movie without comparing it to Everything Everywhere All At Once. An indie film that could, it is chugging along and everyone is loving it. I loved it! It came out before Doctor Strange 2, and dealt with multiverses, even though a lot of people knew about this one years ago, it still snuck out ahead. Is there room for two multiverse based movies?

Well, Everything Everywhere All At Once had a lot of work to do. It was DENSE as all can be, it had to pack a lot in to tell a complete story while dealing with other universes and going fully bananas. This MCU film has the benefit of dozens of films and TV shows ahead of it to carry various amounts of emotional investiture, to tell its multiverse movie, and it really shows.

Surprisingly, TMoM doesn’t go as bananas as one would expect. I thought it would go through a lot of weird places, and we’d see cameos every few minutes. Fan service sells right now. Which random former Fox properties could show up?! But it didn’t do that, outside of a quick trippy fast montage, similar to experiences in the first Doctor Strange. In reality, this film sticks to only three universes for the most part, which is a bit surprising. It is like in Wreck-It Ralph, when you thought he would get to go to so many different fun video games, then just went to one for a little bit and then spent a lot more time in a candy world than you thought he should. The number of multiverses visited does NOT approach banana levels.

But the ones we do get deliver a lot of fun and interesting concepts. The implications for the future are all there in the film, which are sort of standard now, and a little bit infuriating. For example, the first credit scene is interesting, but how it is shown right after the last scene of the film makes it a bit jarring. Is it minutes later? Is it not? Who knows. The second credit scene is worth every penny though.

HOW ABOUT THE HORROR? IS THERE HORROR?

Yes, I am happy to say, Raimi was able to get some creepy horror things into this. Dark hallways, enemies that won’t stop. Body horror in various levels. We got death in this movie, and some of them are quite shocking and gruesome. We got death which also means dead bodies. Raimi loves to use dead bodies. Some of the dynamic angles he used for just zoom ins to faces and doors felt very Evil Dead-ish as well. You can tell he was behind the film overall, and I love it when there is obvious director influences. Especially in the mega corporations of Disney.

I will say that I thought Scarlett Witch was underdeveloped, but Olsen did a lot with the little she had to work with. There is stark stark difference here between Wanda now and Wanda in WandaVision. I know we had the credits scene of the TV show, but we still have to fill in some gaps on our own to get Wanda to the level she is in this movie. I think she has powerful scenes, but I also know, they could have been better.

At this point, I don’t even know what the next MCU film is. But I do know I am gonna watch it, and statistically, I will find it okay or better, so go on, keep the churn coming. I am not full yet.

3 out of 4.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Nicolas Cage. Is he a man, or an aberration? Is he a great actor or a bad actor? Many people have struggled with this question for decades, and it is a question that has brought Abed down to his knees in humility.

Regardless of what you think about Cage, you have certainly heard of him. A lot of people have strong opinions about his acting and his choices, especially recently. He has been in some straight to DVD nonsense, but that is also generally known to be due how one of his financial advisors screwed him out of money and he was stuck paying the bill with his wallet missing. But in the last few years, the bad choices have seemed to drift into weird and interesting choices. Wally’s Wonderland, where he plays a literal silent protagonist and speaks not a single word of dialogue. Mandy, and all of the fucked up movie that is. Pig, a surprisingly amazing drama that looks like a John Wick rip-off that does so much more.

And then I heard about The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. The first description blew me away with what it wanted to do. I knew I had to see it. I went out of my way to watch what I felt were the most essential Cage films I hadn’t yet seen before in my life, leading up to this movie. Just to catch more references and have a better frame of mind for this NickCage-fest. Give me your weird ass films. I need them.

I. Need. Them.

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The different people seeing this film. One who knows and likes Cage movies, the other very confused at who Nick Cage is.

What does a magnificent actor need to do when he finds himself under appreciated and maybe even mocked by friends and fans alike? When your debts are piling up, when your family won’t talk to you, and you see a big film break coming up that will revitalize your career as a major player? After all, maybe the big break will you get you bigger roles, and more clout, (not that you went anywhere), and you can go into the tail end of your career flying high.

That is what is going though Nick Cage’s (Nicolas Cage) head. He has bills to pay, debts, and he can’t land the lead of a new film that he thinks will be a box office and critical success. But his agent (Neil Patrick Harris) had another gig for him, although embarrassing. He just needs to go to another country and go to some super fan’s birthday party. Make an appearance, talk to guests, and easy million dollars. Cage feels desperate, so he takes the gig, but he feels like he is going to also have to retire from acting, that he can’t keep up with the charade.

Of course when Cage gets down there, he makes things awkward. Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) is not just a super-fan, but he also wrote a script and wants Cage to star in a movie. Cage doesn’t know about that, and thinks that Gutierrez is a worker at the mansion. Not to mention that Cage gets intercepted by the CIA (Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz) because they believe Gutierrez recently kidnapped the mayor’s daughter, in order to threaten him before an upcoming election. Gutierrez is awkward, but is he a bad guy? Now Cage has to stay longer than expected, to check the compound, and become a spy, which is basically just acting anyways. Cage is probably the perfect person for this job. Sometimes it is easier to hide with a beacon on your face.

Also starring Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Lily Mo Sheen, Paco León, and Sharon Horgan.

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But really, I just want to watch Cage watch real movies with his fictional family. 

Surprisingly, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is not the zaniest film I have seen this year. Not even the weirdest. It didn’t even make me cry. All of those titles, at this point, would go to Everything Everywhere All At Once.

But this movie is still incredibly fun! I don’t know how to talk about it as someone who doesn’t know much about Cage, so I do apologize in that regard. But if you are familiar with his work and generally receptive to a lot of his films, I can’t imagine now appreciating this fictional version of his life. He pokes fun at his perceptions, while also playing hard into them. It is just so silly, it is infectious. Despite being a film that is a love letter to Cage, it doesn’t completely hog the spotlight, while giving shout outs to other great films in cinema history from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to Paddington 2.

Sure, the plot is pretty weak. It is going for meta humor so hard that it doesn’t always land. The CIA plotline, although necessary for the story, feels detracting by taking us away from the funnier moments, which is when Cage and Pascal share the screen.

This is one of those movies for people who love going to the movies. A movie that is mindless fun that doesn’t need you to turn off your brain in order to enjoy it. Cage is living his best life, and we are all just people in the world getting to witness this rebirth of his movie choices (not that he went anywhere), and this is a film about just having to learn to accept it. While not being one of the best movies ever made, it is an enjoyable one, and definitely a film we need in our lives during this time of weary and stress.

3 out of 4.

The Northman

Hey kids, do you love Spider-Man?

Then why not check out The Northman!? He does whatever the…cold North can? Hmm. Nope. This is not a super hero movie. This is just a movie about Vikings!

We don’t really get a lot of Viking movies. A lot of them are trash, remember Pathfinder? I unfortunately do. I wish I could forget. We are luck that the How to Train Your Dragons films are technically Viking inspired. But they are animated and they don’t do a super lot with the Vikings religion and atmosphere. They are cute, they are good, but they aren’t what you think about when you hear a Vikings movie.

We also very recently had the new Assassin’s Creed Valhalla game, to get people in the spirit. I don’t know if the God of War reboot counts as a Viking game, but it does deal with Norse mythology, so close enough. Not to mention we had several seasons of a Vikings show, which probably disappointed a lot of people without going too hardcore with it.

All of this to say, that time for something like The Northman to come out has been building up for a few years. And I know I was ready.

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This was me screaming like a giddy little school girl.

Set sometime before the year 1000, we start off in some Viking kingdom. The king of this land is King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) and he is a mighty warrior. His village often gets loot and slaves and plunder from their conquests. His son, Amleth (Oscar Novak), looks up to his father despite rarely seeing him. His wife, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) is loyal and true. And his brother, Fjölnir The Brotherless (Claes Bang), well…Let’s just say that he earned that title by betraying the King and killing him to take his kingdom. Damn Auvandil, sorry to see you go.

Luckily, Amleth is able to escape by boat. He promises to enact vengeance for the life of his father and rescue his mother, who was taken by Fjölnir. He just has to grow up and get strong. So, several years later, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) does just that. He was found as an orphan by another tribe, and eventually joined their elite wolf fighter unit, and he was a mighty warrior. But thanks to a prophecy, he was eventually told about how he could find Fjölnir and finally complete his vows.

He just now has to journey to Iceland. He pretends to be a slave. A big strong man like him? Yeah. He just does what Clark Kent does. He hunches his shoulders and looks down a lot. But this gets him to Iceland, so he can find Fjölnir, complete his promise, and fulfill his destiny.

Also starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Gustav Lindh, Elliott Rose, Willem Dafoe, Eldar Skar, and Björk!

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The face you make when you need this little weakling to avenge your future death. 

I think I need to talk about Robert Eggers. Outside of a few video shorts, Eggers has now directed three motion pictures. I think most people who have seen his work would agree he is hitting all of the right notes. The Witch was terrifying, unique, and really felt accurate to the area, which was a nice surprise. It helped introduce the world to Anya Taylor-Joy. The Lighthouse was an strong follow up, an impressive visual film with excellent performances from the leads. I didn’t love it as much as The Witch, but I recognized its ambitiousness. 

The Northman however just takes the ball that is already knocked out of the park, and he knocks it into another park. The Northman is a lot of things, except for boring. This is a film that the trailer does justice for, while still giving you very little of the story. It is a revenge flick. It is kind of like Hamlet. It is not just a straight action fantasy film, it has a lot of deeper and slower moments. The film is tense, and intense at various points. 

Honestly, I was surprised at so many moments of the plot. Big strong Amleth finds his uncle pretty early on in the film, I was assuming that it would be over fast. But the set backs that occur are not expected. They do make sense, and it just helps build up some of the bigger events, while still allowing teases along the way.

The Northman is just such a visually stunning film. It is gorgeous, and we get to see many different scenes and locations. There are some battles and scenes that take place in night, with unfortunate authentic lighting, but it isn’t a majority of the film. It is a film that wants to be seen. 

All of this build up from Viking properties have given me what, frankly, is probably the best movie about Vikings ever made. I don’t think Eggers can keep up this pace. He might have to retire before Marvel has him make a film where he has no control in the output. 

4 out of 4.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

I knew I wanted to see Everything Everywhere All At Once when I saw the poster for it. It is full, vibrant, and wild. I didn’t care what the plot was. The title was good. The poster was good. Harry Shum Jr. from Glee was in it. Let’s go, I’m sold, let’s do it.

But then I saw that it was directed by The Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert). They have only directed one feature film together before this one, and it was Swiss Army Man.

Swiss Army Man was easily one of my favorite films of the year it came out, and was in my top 50 of the decade. It was wholly unique, unlike anything else I had seen before. It took a ridiculous topic and made it WORK. It should be talked about more in cinema circles, honestly.

If that is what they could do on their first try, I was damn near giddy to see what they would do with an ambitious title like Everything Everywhere All At Once.

EYES
The third eye really brings up the extra levels of power.

Everything. A lot is happening to Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh). She is trying to run a laundromat. She is trying to have a Chinese New Year party for the surrounding area and community. Probably an idea to help their laundromat which isn’t doing great. And they are being audited by the IRS and have an important meeting today to show their receipts and prove their business expenses. Her father (James Hong) is here visiting and judges her family and everything about her.

Her husband (Ke Huy Quan) is a nice guy, but he seems a bit bumbling and she has to be the serious one to solve the problems in her eyes. Her daughter (Stephanie Hsu) is struggling with feeling accepted. She has come out as gay and Evelyn has said she is fine with, but refuses to tell the grandpa because she may be secretly ashamed. Evenlyn is also constantly nagging on her daughter, to fix things that aren’t actually big issues.

Things seem to be imploding on Evelyn today. And things get more intense at the IRS building. Because at some point she finds herself in a closet, suddenly an instantly. Her consciousness going between the Evelyn at the desk and the Evelyn in the closet. It seems like it is her husband talking to her, but he claims he isn’t her husband. He says she is needed to help save the universe. Shit is getting bad, and she might be the last hope.

Oh well, just pile that onto Evelyn’s plate why don’t you.

Also starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., Brian Le, and Andy Le.

hot dog fingers what about them
I will not be taking questions at this time over this image.

I put off writing this review for so long. Not because I didn’t like it, because I loved it, I did. But because I knew I wouldn’t have the words to do it justice. I didn’t even know how I would go about describing the plot, because I didn’t want to give that much away. I decided to watch the trailer and base it on that, and still told a lot less information than the trailer, so I am comfortable on that front.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is a masterpiece of cinema, that about sums it up. It is an incredible DENSE film for the subject matter, and it doesn’t hold anything back. A common complaint I give for films is when they “don’t go hard enough” and this movie goes hard enough. It goes off the deep end real early on, and gets the viewer to catch up along the way, not boring us with exposition to explain things necessarily before they happen. The actual beginning feels like it is going to be a stressful movie similar to Uncut Gems, but when it gets supernatural, the stress levels are amped up significantly.

It switches between so many time lines and events, and molds things into one that if you don’t pay attention you will be lost. And I love that. I love that the film rewards the audience for paying attention, for looking for clues, and for treating us like we are capable humans of following a narrative.

I can’t say I understand every movie, or that I even fully understand this one, but I get enough of it to love it and want to see it more than once. It is not going to be a movie for everybody, and likely the weirdest film I will see this entire year. It is a shame it is coming out so close to Dr. Strange 2, which will also go for some similar multi-verse themes. But I think Everything Everywhere All At Once will stand up on its own, and it will likely go a lot farther than a Disney backed super hero movie.

Finally, Yeoh is the main character of this film, and she does an amazing job, a character unlike one she ever really plays in my eyes. But Quan and Hsu are a big part of the heart and soul of the film. Because in the end, it is still a very touching family film, and like lots of other films recently, dealing with generational trauma and overcoming the sins of our ancestors. I hope to see big things from Quan especially in the future.

4 out of 4.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

They call him Sonic! Cause he is faster than sound, he’s always jumping around.
Blue hedgehog Sonic! With Incredible speed, he’s moving his feet.

The inevitable has finally happened, we have been given Sonic the Hedgehog 2. And hey look, it doesn’t have a subtitle. How nice of it to name itself after the second game exactly, while also having a poster look very similar to the game cartridge.

The first film, which released right before pandemic things, came out to VOD services faster as a result, and was one of those early bright spots for movie watchers with families, along with Trolls: World Tour and Onward. And for sure, the film did fine, especially when compared to other video game movies. After they fixed the CGI monstrosity that was the original, they put a pretty good story, despite the increased human elements to the plot (which every film always has to do). I was relatively excited to see what they would do with a sequel, and continuing on with the franchise.

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How annoying would drinking anything with froth be with that ‘stashe?

Set…some amount of time after the first film, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is still hanging out in Green Hills and living a calm life of quiet. Except when he goes to random cities to attempt to fight crime real quick, causing damage in the process. Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) are now surrogate parents for him, and want to steer him into good decisions, to make sure he uses his great power responsibly. They also wish he could have any friends that are similar to him.

Good news! A fox with two tails shows up, and his nickname is Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), and he is here to warn him of a threat. Oh okay, bad news. Crap. It turns out Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) has found a way to get off of that mushroom planet. With the help of a strong Echidna nicknamed Knuckles (Idris Elba), they have returned to Earth. Robotnik wants revenge on Sonic, and Knuckles has his own reason to hunt down the hedgehog.

Can. Sonic. Become. A. True. Hero. And save the day, again? With a bigger threat than the last time?

Also starring Natasha Rothwell, Shemar Moore, Adam Pally, and Lee Majdoub.

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Oh yeah, here is an image of the film’s stars doing some exciting standing.

Honestly, as expected, the sequel to this movie was mostly just okay. Here are some plusses though! For those who are big fans of the game series, this film has a lot more references to the series and its lore than the previous film. It is jacked up with more. Including special moves between the various characters. The Chaos Emerald and its various parts. And a couple more that I won’t say for spoilers, but were very exciting for the audience. The last credit scene in particular, despite being really predictable, made the audience behind me go crazy with excitement. I hadn’t heard sudden cheers so loud sine Avengers: Endgame.

I also like that they were able to better downplay Marsden/Sumpter’s involvement by having more Sonic characters show up. They now got less screen time, which is preferable. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t what anyone cares about in a Sonic film. Carrey, however, could play Robotnik for 10 more movies and I won’t get sick of him. I hope his mustache gets bigger and bigger with each subsequent film.

Schwartz continued to be excellent as the Sonic voice (and I was surprised that they put in a Parks and Recreation reference due to him, but I loved it). It was awesome that Tails was voiced by his current voice actress, and Elba as Knuckles brought a lot of sexy to the role that he claimed he wasn’t going for, but still happened. Knuckles as a character was strange. Because we know he isn’t really the bad guy. So we know his arc will change in the movie. But at one point he became basically Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy with how he handled things literally, but yet it still felt funny.

The plot itself is the weaker elements. I still think there was far too much of a human element. The Hawaii scenes felt like filler, waiting for it to get to the good stuff. I don’t care about the government and its response to Sonic. That was last movie, move on. It didn’t have a lot of action sequences for something that should have had quite a few. A lot of them also feature prolonged chase scenes. Maybe that is just because of Sonic needing to be a speed force, and thus a lot of chases. But several of them involve him being in or driving a vehicle. I am not here to watch a fast running creature drive a truck. What? Why would Sonic do that?

Sonic the Hedgehog excels when it goes into the gaming lore and references, and lets us down when it focuses on the human characters and their drama.

2 out of 4.

Morbius

Ah yes, the expanded Spider-Man universe from Sony. They have been talking about this for years. Remember the announcement of an Aunt May movie? That was back around the time as Andrew Garfield Spider-Man. But now that Venom has been slightly successful, and Tom Holland has been wildly successful, Sony is under the impression they are doing something right and going to milk the fuck out of the Spidey-universe.

After all, we got teased a lot of villains in Spider-Man: No Way Home. And we have heard the casting announcements. Besides Morbius, we have a Kraven the Hunter movie coming out. Now a Madame Web film. Rumors of the a Sinister Six film, maybe Spider-Gwen, maybe a Tobey Maguire Spider-Man 4. Sony is exploring all options.

The only issue is…Sony is historically not great at making these movies without Marvel’s help the last decade. Venom: Let There Be Carnage seems to be a strange case, since it was a decent film, just still had some awkward B-movie comic book feels to it. Sony likes to rush things with their Spider-Man movies. Sure, Morbius was pushed back several times, including this year for some “reshoots”. But just because it was going to be a January movie initially doesn’t mean it has to feel like a January movie, right?

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If you need some blood, cutting the PALM OF YOUR HAND is one of the worst places. What the hell?

Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) has one big problem. He has a really rare blood disorder. Which one? Uhh, a rare one, that is what. It has no cure. And it seems to require a blood transfusion three times a day in order to keep surviving. That is rough. He has had it for most of his life, but he was really smart, so he got sent to a smart school, and got his PhD by 19. Hey, life is short for him, I guess, better go through it fast. His friend/pseudo-brother is Milo (Matt Smith), who happens to be super rich too, with the same disorder. Michael plans to cure their disease, at any means possible, and Milo is gonna fund that research.

So how are they going to do that? Well, apparently by experimenting with vampire bat DNA. Because they are the only mammal that has evolved with the ability to consume blood, something something made up science, Morbius wants to put the bat DNA into his DNA to see if he is cured! He had to go to South America to get a bunch to bring back to NYC, you know, for science. And then he does the experiment, with his fiancé and lab partner, Dr. Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona), which is a few ethics problems rolled into one.

The experiment goes painful, and it works, I guess. Well, he does have his eyes and skin change color, his teeth somehow grow into fangs, and he can’t control his instincts. He now wants to kill all these random dudes with guns, not Bancroft, draining them of their own blood quickly. He can also…fly? Sort of? And see bullets in slow motion? And some strange level of echolocation-punch. Wow, what a surprise. But don’t worry, the range ends, and then he is back to normal. But stronger looking, less frail, and actual color in his skin. Until his body starts to deteriorate back into his normal frail self, unless he eats more blood.

How does he control the more-Vampire looking version of himself? I guess he just concentrates really hard. Milo wants the cure too, so he forces it upon himself, and sure enough, he is more evil than Morbius, so Morbius wants to cure him and put a stop to it, while cops and others are trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

Also starring Jared Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Al Madrigal, and Michael Keaton, for a little bit.

running
Get yourself some bat-DNA. Makes you get all ghoul-y. 

Since 2015, there have only been two worse comic book based movies than Morbius, based on my humble reviewer opinion of course. Fantastic Four and Suicide Squad. But Morbius is bad in a different way. Morbius is bad because it attempted to be dark, moody, and serious. Instead it gave us a rushed plot, terrible characters, vague science, and just nonsensical plot elements.

For the umpteenth time, yes, this is a fantasy film where things don’t reflect reality. But it is still based in our reality, and uses a lot of rules. I know vampires aren’t realistic, but this film has powers that still don’t make sense. They never even attempt to explain how getting some bat DNA allows Morbius to weirdly fly. Not sure if it is just a gliding with style mechanic? And part of it feels like teleporting? But they just pop on some purple blurs around him, and he can now go wherever he feels like through the air. The echolocation elements aren’t consistent. Apparently he can not just do it for almost an entire city, he can focus in on a specific thing he wants to hear, and only hear that to find his prey. I feel like echolocation in NYC at a powerful scale would be maddening, but what do I know.

Vague/undefined powers always piss me off in these sorts of things. That is one of my biggest complaints about the “snake mutant” in The Wolverine. Hell at one point, Morbius just yells and apparently commands thousands of NYC bats to come to him, and he controls them to attack. But also, we all know they aren’t vampire bats. That is why he had to go to another continent to get the bats. Why would his vampire bat genes let him control random fruit and cave bats, that are all different species? Is there a bat quality that let’s an alpha bat command the rest of the bats? What if Spider-Man could just scream and have spiders show up? That would be frightening.

But for the rest of the movie, the plot is nonsensical as well. For a quick “joke”, the kid who grows up to be our rich villain is called Milo, because that is what Michael wanted to call him so he wouldn’t get too close, I guess. And now everyone just calls him Milo? He goes by that officially as an adult? Like. Why? Just have him be named Milo. Unnecessary complication for no payoff. There is no real reason why Milo would turn out to be a ridiculous jerk when he is in this now Vampire-like form, versus Michael who can just control it better? Is it a smart thing? I will admit, the movie was going so poorly I was going in and out of sleep at one point, but I am pretty sure they never explained it. Nor did they explain the transformed self really outside of some emotional balance. I can buy a weird DNA thing permanently changing one to look different. But to constantly having your body shifting between these forms, changing color, growing fangs, whatever, without the use of any sort of magic, just science/DNA is uncomfortable in the universe they have set up.

By the time the movie was over, I was glad at its short run time. The ending is still abrupt. It doesn’t really make sense as a stopping point for where we are at the films plot, but okay. So then they saddled on two credit scenes, the only scenes that feature Michael Keaton. I think these will count as spoiler free, just in case you are worried. The first is, uhh… fine. It doesn’t make sense based on what was established in Spider-Man: No Way Home however, and officially this film shouldn’t even be connected to it.

But the second one? It was just so…dumb. Did they film it in one take and say that was enough? Why was the delivery of both characters so bad? Why would Keaton’s character even bring up that name? Why would the other character nonchalantly agree, despite definitely having no clue what the hell Keaton’s character is talking about? It is so, so, bad. The rating of this movie was teetering between a 1 and a 0 at that point, and those two scenes were enough to figure out where this one needed to go.

0 out of 4.

Uncharted

Wait, Uncharted is finally out!? The first Uncharted video game came out in 2007, and almost immediately was there talk of turning it into a movie. Like, people writing a script and all of that. Heck, in 2009, the second Uncharted game came out. One of my favorite video game commercials of all time was during a series of Sony commercials where people would give questions and concerns to Sony executives. It is more hilarious now with how the graphics stand out in today’s terms, but hey, they were pushing that movie angle hard.

So, fifteen years later, the movie is now released. So many script re-writes, producers, and directors were put onto the picture. Various people asked to star in it or with an interest to star in it, the most famous example being Nathan Fillion, who ended up being in a fan made short film for Uncharted. Even Mark Wahlberg was attached to be the main character. Personally, I wish it got made in time for the Bruce Campbell as Sully rumors were out, but that is because I generally want Bruce Campbell in most of my movies.

In the latest iterations of the film, that was supposed to come out in 2020 (but director dropping again and pandemic), Tom Holland was supposed to play “Young Nathan Drake” and it be a prequel to the game series. Based on the movie we got, that is sort of how this movie does play out. But honestly, it just feels like mostly regular aged Nathan Drake, not even young Drake anymore.

My own experience with the game franchise is I did finally play the first one after the third game was finally out. I maybe played it for two hours. I thought I was getting a Tomb Raider like game with a lot of puzzles and sure, some bad guys. I didn’t realize that honestly, it was about 95% a shooting game, with ammo scarcity issues, and people hiding behind crates and barrels, sprinkled throughout dungeon crawling with treasure and explosions. Damn shooting games, not at all my idea of entertainment.

guns
Aw yeah, gun holsters, I bet he will shoot everyone, just like the games.
[Editor’s Note: This statement unfortunately isn’t accurate.]

The actual film opens up in the middle of action, then we get a flashback of the actual start, until we get back to the action. Oh okay.

But Nate (Tom Holland) used to be an orphan (I guess he still is?), with his older brother Sam (Rudy Pankow), but Sam got into more trouble than Nate, so he had to go on the run from the LAW. And since then they have been apart, but Sam still sends Nate post cards. They did thievery, they loved history, and apparently that is all that we really need. They wanted to be treasure hunters, and discover things from the past that were long forgotten or long hidden.

But now, we got some asshole coming up into his place of work, acting like he knows him. Victor Sullivan aka Sully (Mark Wahlberg), who wants to hire Nate for an upcoming job of his. Specifically to locate the gold that Magellan allegedly found when his team was the first to sail around the world in the 1500’s. It is rumored they found it and never gave it to the family who financed their voyage. Oh, and what is this? Sully apparently knows Sam, with picture proof, and that Sam is missing. That is the real way to get Nate involved.

Along the way they are going to have to break some crimes though. And discover ancient tombs and catacombs to find hopefully ancient treasure. The Moncada family, led by Santiago (Antonio Banderas) is also involved on this chase for treasure, as they hope to finally get what was long promised to them.

Also starring Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Steven Waddington, Pingi Moli, and Tiernan Jones. Also with a small yet obvious cameo from Nolan North, the original voice of Nathan Drake.

boats
Almost all of the nice promo shots are of them on a damn boat. 

Uncharted as a film seems to pretty dang charted, so to speak.

It feels like Tomb Raider, and Dora, but with more dead people than normal I guess. Dead by stabbings, and crushings, and fallings. Did you know that Nathan Drake only fires a gun in one scene, and he misses every bullet? I guess they were trying to capture my personal experience as I was a bad shot in that game. But I didn’t have alternate ways to deal with the enemies, unfortunately. It is beyond strange to me to make a game that anyone would classify as a shooting game, and then not have a lot of shooting. That is one of the top three main components. The other two being Sully jokes, and treasure hunting.

I will point out that Holland is definitely doing some acting in this movie. I was afraid he would just feel like Spiderman. But his voice is a little different, less high pitched. His character still fights a bit more agile than one would expect. Unfortunately, the very first scene, which features physics only used before in video games and that one Hobbit scene. It felt like I was intentionally being trolled into watching a Spiderman without the costume film.

Overall, I think the ACTION scenes were the worst part of the movie. I am sure the crates and the ships on planes were probably parts of the video game. But both of those scenes felt so CGI heavy. The crates became additionally boring to watch for the same reason. Having it start the film didn’t help either, as it became broken up and unbelievable. The ship scenes were…fine, but they made those same ships endure a lot of damage without miraculously falling apart despite the 500 years of decay.

Another negative takeaway would be the puzzles themselves. There are clues, and hints to do all these things. And when the characters figure them out, I don’t feel a big sense of pride in them because they don’t feel like well crafted riddles or hints. “Oh that is the answer? Oh okay…” that is my constant feeling.

And honestly, I don’t like that they made Banderas’ character out to be a bad guy. He did do a bad thing in the movie, within his family, but his family wanting the treasure that they were promised? I mean, not the worst motivation.  If the treasure can be traced back to a specific country the top option is return it to them, obviously, but if not, then why not their family?

None of this is coming from bitterness of not getting to see Bruce Campbell either. It is just another generic action film that is based on a video game that disappoints. This seems like a bit of a shocker since how much the games “felt like movies” at the time.

I barely played the games, so I can’t tell how accurate it is, minus the lack of guns. I can tell that it was a good bit boring, it tried to have too much set up for future films, and I did fall asleep leading up to the auction scene.

1 out of 4.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Ready for that new movie, Spider-Man: All the Hype in the World?

Oh, it is called No Way Home. Fine, that is fine. It could have also just been called “Print Money for us Please” because a lot of people are going to see this movie and they are going to see it fast. This is arguably the most excited people have been for a movie since Avengers: Endgame. After all, in our last Spider-Man movie, we were given a very strong credits scene. [Note: I hated that this was a credit scene. That scene was really important for the film. It made the ending really work. The fact that it was “credits” scene and arguably less important really bugs me]. It helped build up the hype.

I personally am hoping that this movie does…something to help establish what the actual fuck Marvel (even if Sony is helming this film like always) is doing with their time. If I see one more “Present Day” tag line in the MCU this year I will lose it. No one has any clue when any of these movies are taking place, because they all are in the future based on the Thanos Snap.

Is this one in 2024? 2025? Who knows. Will the movie know? Doubtfully.

JUMP
Is she enjoying this ride? 
Spider-Man: No Way Home takes place basically right after the end of Long Way Home. Mysterio’s last trick. Telling everyone Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) identity and blaming the bad stuff on Parker.

Now everyone knows! Now everyone knows about his friends and his girlfriend (Zendaya) and that causes issues. Some still love him, some now hate him. Some just want to make his life miserable. Hell, it is even affecting his ability to get into college. Because they know his name, and they aren’t sure if they want that publicity or trouble. Is he a MURDERER?

Needless to say, Peter feels like shit about this. And he hates it more that it is affecting those who love him and he loves in returns. So he wants things to change. Maybe time travel? Maybe people can just forget the whole thing happened? Maybe magic can be involved?

Well, once magic gets involved, and potentially unstable magic at that, it seems like the reality Peter knows is not going to be the same forever. Time to face old villains for the first time.

Also starring some other people you know from these movies. Tony Revolori, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove, J.K. Simmons, Benedict Wong, and Hannibal Buress. Also (checks trailers to see what is and isn’t a spoiler) Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Rhys Ifans, and Jamie Foxx!

Anyone else? Maybe! Maybe we also get other villains played by Paul Giamatti, Dane DeHaan/James Franco, or Topher Grace? Maybe we get villains in the last two movies showing up, like Michael Keaton and Jake Gyllenhaal. Will we have past Spider-Men like Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire? Will DONALD GLOVER appear as old Miles Morales?

Doc Ock
This isn’t a spoiler, this is the main advertisement! 

Spider-Man: Oops! All Villains! edition. Frankly, I wondered if this would feel crowded. Crowded is what they were going for after all. And arguably, crowded villains helped kill the last two Spider-Man franchises. “But no! This time we will do it better!” And how is that? By giving us previously established villains so we don’t need an eight hour movie. Sure, it requires a five film commitment, but they figure if you are watching these new ones, you probably already committed to the over 20 that is the MCU at this point.  So why not five more, assuming you didn’t already have them?

It works though. For those without the previous films, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I can’t get myself in that headspace. It is a risky move, and a ridiculous move, but damn it, trying new stuff is one of the reasons I watch movies. To see those that make risks, and this film is so risky. I don’t care what the past has told us, MCU printing their name on it doesn’t always guarantee success. Having a likable cast can help a lot.

This is the most emotional we have seen Holland as our web crawler before, and that includes the time when he didn’t feel so good in outer space. From the villains, Molina brings the same despair and anger he had before. Foxx felt better and more confident than the shit they gave him in his original. Ifans/Church were very underutilized, in more ways than one. I just assume the actors couldn’t really be involved that much with the film.

But Dafoe? Holy shit Dafoe. He has had like, twenty years to forget how to be the Green Goblin, and I was honestly worried about him the most. I know he is a fantastic actor, but even early on into his scenes in this one, I was skeptical, but that dude NAILED IT so hard. That is some real good review writing right there. What an absolute madlad he is. Why did they kill him off in that first film? So sad.

Honestly, people will get mad at me if I say much more. So in order to keep things vague and mysterious, I will. Let’s just say, I cried once, and it is not likely a moment you would fully expect. There is obviously an early credits scene, and an end credits scene. Feel free to leave early after the first one, in my opinion. The post credits scene is trash.

4 out of 4.

Encounter

How the heck did the poor assistant from Nightcrawler become such an acting force?

Well, Nightcrawler was a great movie, so it makes sense that every person involved has some greatness, even if the character is weak in comparison to the lead.

Riz Ahmed is a great actor, and putting on a show for us these last few years. We had Sound of Metal, and now we have Encounter, where Ahmed is at the lead, and putting a whole lot of himself into these projects. I am all here for it, let Ahmed be the next, well, Jake Gyllenhaal. Always excellence in every movie, no matter how silly or weird the character. Looks like he really was his apprentice in Nightcrawler after all…

pecks
But getting those muscles was probably on his own.

Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed) is a father and a military man. He has two kids (Aditya Geddada, Lucian-River Chauhan) and they mean the world to him. Maybe?

Speaking of the world, thanks to his top clearance and years of service, Malik has information that the Earth is undergoing an alien invasion, right now! But instead of big space ships, lasers, and humanoids, these aliens are tiny, bug like parasites. They can enter your body, and go into your brain, taking control of your life, feeding off of you. They want to take over the human race! You can tell if someone has an alien parasite by looking at their eyes, very clearly.

Well, Malik really doesn’t want his kids to get taken over, and he wants to protect them at all costs. So he leaves his home to find his kids and take them on a surprise road trip, in order to bring them to safety in the middle of nowhere. The less they are around possibly infected individuals, the better. There he can teach them survival skills that he learned through the military, and maybe they can survive this thing.

Unless. Of course. He is making this all up. Is he? Did he just kidnap his kids, or is he saving them from a very real threat? Guess that is the question here.

Also starring Octavia Spencer, Janina Gavankar, and Rory Cochrane.

kids
“How do I teach these keeeeds…how to survive an apocalypse?”

You all know me, Gorgon Reviews, and know that movies where a parent tries to do anything to protect their kids really get to me. They tear at my heart strings so easily, it is like taking candy from a baby not being protected by an adult in their life. So of course I am invested in a story about a man trying to react during the opening part of an alien invasion, with classified information not many people would know about.

And yes, I also put that maybe this whole thing was a lie and there are other big issues going on. That is not some sort of spoiler, that is honestly really apparent that it is a potential direction this movie might take. Because if it is early on in an invasion, with parasitic sized creatures invading human host and taking over their lives, anyone making that claim would be seen as crazy and ignored, that is a fact.

This is not a movie that keeps it vague enough the entire time that you will get to the credits and not know if the invasion is happening or not, they make it pretty straightforward certainly by the halfway point. And none of the mystery going away deters from the simple plot though. Of a man, trying to protect his kids. A man who has gone through a lot, knows a lot, and is doing what he thinks is the best thing he can do.

I loved the emotion between Ahmed and the two sons. The younger one was appropriately annoying and acted exactly like I imagined a kid would of his age. The older kid made some surprising decisions, but they were very strange circumstances so I don’t think I could relate. I was surprised at some of the action pieces in the second half, especially with the “other brothers” in the small group of abandoned homes. It was a tense scene that helped show us that our main character was very gifted at what he trained to do and also cared about other people and didn’t want anyone to get too hurt.

Encounter is unconventional in the story it is telling, but still one worth seeing at least once. And once again, featuring very strong acting from Ahmed in the lead.

4 out of 4.