Tag: Action

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.

Dune

Ah, is it happening now? Finally? The Dune movie?

Oh okay. Well, I got two Dune related stories to tell then!

The first is when I first heard about the book when I was in early High School. I was working that summer as a camp counselor, and one of my friends talked so fondly of the book Dune and wanted us all to read it. He never relented and eventually wanted to read it out loud to us one night to show how good it was. I was definitely asleep by the second page, woken up, and then again by page three. Nice.

Story two? Oh yeah, I actually saw the other Dune movie, in theaters, a few years ago, knowing nothing about the plot. It was a very strange experience, a weird film, but probably worth it on some level for pop culture history.

I have not been waiting on my knees for this version to come out, but I do like Denis Villeneuve films for the most part. The only one I didn’t love was Blade Runner 2049, which was visually pleasing, but a story I didn’t care about at all. Hmm, that was a sequel to a film from the 1980’s. This one is a movie remake that was first done in the 1980’s. I hope there is no more similarities.

nose
Definitely more sand in this movie than Blade Runner 2049. 

We are still dealing with humans in this movie, don’t worry, it is just set like 8,000 years in the future.

House Atreides is our heroes? Well, at least our main family of character. They are some level of nobility and GREAT NEWS. They have been granted mining rights of the Spices from Arrakis. The Spices are the key to faster than light travel and longer life, and they can be rich from doing this.

The prince (?) Paul (Timothée Chalamet) has been having interesting dreams that seem to come from that planet, featuring a girl (Zendaya) that he can’t get out of his thoughts. Paul can also do mental suggestive thought things to make people obey him, which is cool. His dad (Oscar Isaac) is leading the convoy to Arrakis and his mother (Rebecca Ferguson) is mostly just trying to make sure Paul is ready to take over some day.

Needless to say, once they get to the planet, there are more shenanigans than they imagined. Stuff happens, people fight, people die, and sand worms.

Starring a whole lot of other people too, and even with 2.5 hours of screen time, a lot of them still don’t get a lot of screen time but might get more later? Well, if they didn’t die. We have Babs Olusanmokun, Benjamin Clémentine, Charlotte Rampling, Chen Chang, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Stellan Skarsgård, and Stephen McKinley Henderson.

worm
This book invented sand worms right? Not Beetlejuice?

Ah yes, Dune, clocking in at 2 hours and 35 minutes. Is that enough time to tell some epic story that was 412 pages long? [Editor’s note: Wait, 412 pages long only? That is it? The audiobook is only around 21 hours?] Well, if you ask Villeneuve then that answer is heck no. Apparently he only agreed to do it if he could do two full movies and not cram it into one. Oh okay.

But…but…They didn’t really make this into a two part film? If they did, they would have likely filmed them at the same time. They would have officially made this movie called Dune: Part 1. [Editor’s Note: This movie is called Dune: Part 1 only on the film itself near the start, but not on any advertisements, or posters, or just…officially]. And you know what? A regular film going customer shouldn’t have to look for interviews with the director and others to see that this movie is only just half of a story. I think I saw one where someone involved said it feels like a complete story still, but I have determined that to be a lie.

This movie definitely just ends in what feels like half of a story. And part of that is extremely frustrating given how long it feels like it takes to just get to the planet itself. It is not like I had a watch to look at the whole time, but it is a significantly large percentage before our characters go to the desert land to start learning and doing desert stuff. So to me, this film feels dragged out. You know, like The Hobbit films.

Just a quick note. I am okay with the concept of two part films. Sure. But the parts should still feature complete arcs and feel like storyline elements were resolved and natural enough and not just cliffhangers or, worse, plateaus that gradually decrease over time. Lord of the Rings film feel like three complete films despite one overarching story. Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Part 2 and Hunger Games Mockingbird Part 1 and Part 2 both feel like one film’s worth of plot badly stretched over two.

I am now worried Dune will feel like that, IF the second part gets made. I certainly don’t feel appreciative that the film producers are using such guilt riddled tactics to ensure they make enough money so that their story could be finished, when they could have also just trusted their product enough to make the films and release them when appropriate. If they don’t ever release another one, then we won’t get a full film. If they do release another one, then we likely get one full film over two movies with arguably a lot of filler.

But yeah, sure, it is pretty.

2 out of 4.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

And now, presenting, the 25th film in the MCU series, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Of course, definitely the hero you imagined would be in this chain of movies eventually.

For fans of Marvel movies, they should be stoked. We get more representation, a richer group of deep cut heroes, and of course, potentially a fix for the “The Mandarin” plot of Iron Man 3. Fix is a weird word, and I still find it hard to talk about Iron Man 3. The Mandarin twist was terrible for people who like the comics, but it was a great twist from a regular movie going point of view. But still, despite the problematic nature of that villain, it was disappointing that he wouldn’t ever make it into the MCU.

You know, until now, but fixed in the best way they could.

3D
Do movies come out in 3D anymore? Did the Pandemic kill that?

For over a thousand year, the ten-rings have been around at least, giving one man (Tony Leung) immortality and great power in China. He used it for the quest for more power, and building up an organization, and a life without worry. But he wanted more. He wanted to discover the location of a mystical lost city, supposedly blessed by the gods, named Ta Lo. There he met Li (Fala Chen), whom defeated him for the first time, and they fell in love.

The village abandoned, they had two kids, and now, decades later, Shaun (Simu Liu) is living his best life alone in San Francisco, being a parking attendant with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina). Their high school friends are confused by their relationship, or lack there of, and why they are seemingly wasting their life away. But hey, they are having fun, and that is important.

But what is that? Assassins? After his jade necklace his mom gave him a long time ago? Turns out, much to Katy’s surprise, that Shaun can really fight like an ultimate badass, and he has been hiding it from her. Looks like Shaun is getting dragged back into a past he wanted to escape from and forget.

Also starring Meng’er Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Wah Yuen, Florian Munteanu, Andy Le, Ben Kingsley, Tim Roth (maybe?), and Benedict Wong.

rings
Orange and blue colors for an action film shot? How original!

Can Marvel still make me care about more and more superheroes? The answer is a resounding yes!

To answer my inquiry above, this is an interesting movie to arguably be a direct sequel to Iron Man 3, but it closes off some of the open stories from that film in an exciting and worthwhile way. By having an artifact for over a thousand years helping shape parts of human history, it had the potential to feel ret-conn-y but it made its limited use seem overall plausible. If the villain gets to be the dad of this story, it feels like it is earned and respected their relationship, and the waves that it has gone through over the decades. That’s right. Another strong Marvel villain.

Liu is a wonderful lead, both in terms of his acting and his physicality that he brings to the role. Awkwafina works extremely well here as well, although just about her character, whereas the sister, played by Zhang, brings a different interesting angle for a powerful woman fighter into this universe.

One minor bug I had, and this is true about every movie that does it, is when they have very specific flashbacks (in this case, 1996), and then come back to present and literally tell us it is the present day. Normally, that is already annoying, because in a few years that makes less and less sense. If it is supposed to be 20 years ago, say it, don’t let it mesh over time. However, this film has to take place in like, 2023 I imagine? Based on everything, it is after Thanos’ snap had been reversed, so it isn’t even present day now.

A bigger complaint is a trope that this film did, that I don’t know the right name for. But if 90% of the film is spent towards trying to prevent this one irreversible bad thing from being happened (door open, something summoned, spell cast, etc), and then it actually happens at the end? Well, it gets resolved very quickly and then we wonder if it actually was worth all this effort this whole time. At least with Infinity War, the bad thing happened, and then it wasn’t fixed for a long time.

This doesn’t take away from the incredible choreography, effects, fighting, and new characters for us to swoon and simp for. I am excited for what he can actually bring to the future of these franchises, and I want more. Give me that diversity. (Also me, I don’t know if Eternals will be my type of film, but that is a later story).

3 out of 4.

The Tomorrow War

When do you all wanna go? Tomorrow? Sure. Tomorrow will never be here, so that works, I am a fan of procrastinating war.

Unfortunately, The Tomorrow War has nothing to do with procrastination, although it uses something procrastinators wish they have.

See, this is a war that takes place somewhere in the future, not the present. You know, like the concept of tomorrow! So this is a war with time travel, but it shouldn’t be anything like whatever the fuck was going on in Tenet.

Back to procrastinators. Don’t you wish you had a time machine to go back and slap yourself into doing something before a project got overwhelming? Hells yeah.

soldiers
I said slap, not shoot, what the fuck dudes. 

It was a day like any other day. People were doing sports watching on the TV, and then…and then…a large portal appeared from nowhere. A human lady came out and so did a lot of soldiers. They had a message. They were in a war in the future, against aliens. And they were definitely losing that war. A war that was going to kill every remaining soldier. So they needed help, recruits from the past, so that they could have more people for fighting. Oh shit.

Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is just a science teacher during all this, but sure, he was in the military before. But retired now. The war first asked for the actual armies around the war, and then volunteers, and then sure enough, drafts happened. Not everyone was eligible to go to the future. They had to be scanned and matched with the history of the future, to make sure bringing that person to the future (and them potentially dying) wouldn’t alter the future in a way that ruins everything.

Dan has a wife (Betty Gilpin) and little girl (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) but sure enough, draft bells still came to his doorstep, and he was enlisted. Each term is only meant to be a week long, after about a week of training. If they survive, they get automatically sent back to their time line, richer, and won’t be picked again. But in Dan’s group, everything gets messy. They are sent to the future without full training, so it is up to him and one other to keep his team of mostly untrained people slightly together to help out the best they can, and they are thrown right into the fray.

Can they save the future?…By fixing the past? And stuff?

Also starring Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Sam Richardson, Jasmine Matthews, Edwin Hodge, Keith Powers, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Mike Mitchel.

ages
It is like we are glancing at the strangest Parks and Rec and Chuck crossover ever.

A sci-fi action movie has a lot of easy potential to just turn into a generic action flick with stranger weapons or people being killed. A lot of films have done it. The movie has to say something, or offer some nice twist. Give me something good to eat, a famous children’s rhyme once said.

To break down this film, I would say I did enjoy the beginning, the first arrival, the draft, the logic, the training. And even when they were first sent to the future. But real quick after that first sort of mission, it went real hard into generic pewpews for me. There were some plot scenes that mattered, but for a film that is 140 minutes, a not so insignificant chunk of it it doesn’t do a lot for me. However, the ending? I did enjoy the ending/final act/set piece of the movie. It took it away from the plot of the rest of the film, settings changed, and it gave me a fresh look on the action and the events and by then, it featured mostly just characters I could care about.

The ending saved the whole thing for me, that was trending pretty average in the middle, almost towards bad. But at this point, I think The Tomorrow War is actually a movie I could imagine watching (shock) a second time!

Pratt has perfected his twist of an action star on us, although I still prefer him to be a bit more goofy. I haven’t seen Strahovski in awhile, and I am bit disappointed that Gilpin was just given a generic house wife role. More importantly, with the time travel element, it never became confusing. The rules were pretty straight forward, and I don’t believe they broke any of them in getting to the end of the story.

We haven’t had a big rush of new sci-fi action films lately, or at least ones that were big enough for people to notice (I saw a few indie sci-fi action duds). Is this thing on par with films like The Thing or Starship Troopers? Nah. But it has a straightforward enough message and is entertaining in its own rights, so it is by far a passable entry into this genre.

3 out of 4.

Occupation: Rainfall

See my interview with the director/writer of the movie here!

A couple of years ago, a film called Occupation released out of Australia. It starred Australian actors, was directed and produced by Australians, and hell, surprisingly, was shot and set in Australia. It was so Australian, a rugby match played a pivotal part of the film. Mmmm, non American sports.

Well, it was hit with relatively big success for an independent film about an alien invasion and a small community coming together to fight the scary aliens away.

And now we have the sequel, set a few years later, starring the same people, and also coming out a few years later. Hey, it is wonderful when that works out like that. Occupation: Rainfall is updating us on the war, years later, with more explosions and pew pews.

snow
Posing before shooting is the coolest thing you could ever do. 
For real though, aliens invaded, but they aren’t like, that much better than humans. Yes, their guns and ships are better, but they weren’t able to take over the entire world. Last time was saw one community stand up really well on their own against them (and probably had a small force to try and take them out, they weren’t Sydney). But it turns out, a lot of places in the world were able to shoot them and take them down.

So where do we find our heroes now? Well, still in Australia, still working together, but with more tech. And hey, they got some alien deflectors now. They got aliens who are giving them intel and helping them strike back and go for bigger and badder tactics. And they all have responsibilities over larger amounts of people. It is nice they didn’t get fully swept up in the bureaucracy of defending their planet.

Before their issues were about just finding loves ones, but now we have to worry about the survival of the species. And hey, we got some other countries people helping us this time! Will this be the end of the alien scum, will our heroes finally lose, or will neither happen and will we get a third film?

Starring Dan Ewing, Temuera Morrison, Daniel Gillies, Lawrence Makoare, Mark Coles Smith, and Jet Tranter. Also featuring some newer bigger names like Ken Jeong and Jason Isaacs.

space
Yep, looks like they got all the lasers and pew pews right here.

The first Occupation film, from my point of view, was surprisingly well done. This was based on my already low expecatations however of an indie film trying to recreate a bigger budget film with clearly not the names or budget behind a normal big budget movie. It was solid, but it did stall out and feel a bit generic in action department by the end. So with the sequel, they are given some bigger names, the same cast and crew, and a lot more money to do the bigger bangs, more aliens, more ships.

And does the sequel deliver on that front? Yes for sure, they amp up everything in this franchise being made from the ground up.

However, with that being said, and with real tactical things being done in the movie, and betrayals and twists and action, it will be great for those who want that in a movie. But I always want something more in my action film and this one doesn’t seem to deliver it to me on that level. It is, unfortunately, chock full of the sort of action that would put me to sleep. The tension created didn’t transfer over to me or put me on the edge of my seat in any way. I did care a little bit about the story elements, and whether some would live or die, but that wasn’t enough for me to fully care about the final results.

I won’t take away the technical achievements this movie has made though. With a bigger budget, it still wasn’t astronomical, and they did a lot with what they had, just like the first film. And the crisp new cameras really help you get immersive in the final polished piece. But from start to finish, I couldn’t tell you after the fact what action scenes happened in this or the first film, and I would describe them all relatively similar because unfortunately none would stick with me.

2 out of 4.

Army of the Dead

Zachary Theodore Snyder, you have been in the news a lot lately you have.

What, with your cuts of movies, and your…well, family problems that are very sad and that sucks. But you have been mostly in the news because of other properties that aren’t your actual doing. Sure, Justice League did suck, but don’t worry, the Zack Snyder’s Justice League still wasn’t that great either, and much longer in mediocrity.

What happened to the Zack Snyder I used to know ,the one who did his own work? (Technically, I never knew that Snyder. I learned about him with 300, so I have only known him as someone who adapted graphic novels/comics to film, and I liked them. Heck, I liked Sucker Punch, which was basically his only original film at that time, not based on another property.

So I am here for a chance for Army of the Dead. His own Zombie flick, not a sequel like his Dawn of the Dead, which I most definitely did not ever watch.

gun
Should I go back and watch all the classic zombie films? Nah, let’s just shoot them from my memory.

Shit! Zombies!

They actually use the word in this movie, and that is nice, because a lot of films with zombies don’t. Anyways. Some Area 51 army dudes are transporting secret cargo between facilities, and have a stupid little accident that flips their vehicle and opens it up. And what is inside? A zombie! A smart, strong, fast zombie (Richard Cetrone), who kills the guards, makes a few zombies, and sets his sight for the place with the lights in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas baby!

This film takes place a few weeks after these events, with the city not only completely overrun with Zombies, but thankfully also walled off from the outside. There are communities outside the city, a lot of lost lives, and America might go and just Nuke it to deal with this threat before it gets out.

But one casino owner (Hiroyuki Sanada) wants his money out of there. So he hires a team to get his money, offering them a lot. They just have to go get in, hack a safe, get the money, and repair a helicopter in the city to fly out of there. And he picks Scott (Dave Bautista), a man who survived Vegas already and has shown capabilities. So he gets a team, including his daughter (Ella Purnell) accidentally.

Also starring Tig Notaro, Matthias Schweighöfer, Raúl Castillo, Samantha Win, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahunt, Nora Arnezeder, Theo Rossi, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, and Michael Cassidy.

zombie queen
Oh you are so lovely, my zombie queen, and so…slightly blurry. 

Army of the Dead has a lot of zombies in it. Not the most zombies I have ever seen in a film. Shit, did you see World War Z? There were a bunch of zombies in that one shot. But we got types of zombies! Regular zombies, dehydrated zombies, smart/armored zombies, maybe robot zombies, shit we got a Tiger Zombie. Zombies for days, and all breeds. I am not some Zombie purist who thinks the only good type of zombie is one that shambles and is brain dead. It doesn’t really matter to me, because zombies are made up so who cares what anyone does with them?

This is a strange opinion for me to take, given the whole film critic thing, but despite having some plot issues and strange edits, the interesting take of zombies in an interesting scenario won me over in the end, as an entertaining flick.

The film has a lot of strange additions to the plot, and hints about what is to come, and not all of them take hold. For example, the piles of zombies who just need rain to be rejuvenated. Does this film feature rain at all? Hell no. And frankly, the ending is extremely insulting, with the sequel set up, purely based on the time the character has during it, compared to what we already know about zombies earlier in the film. It doesn’t make sense in the context of this film, but it could probably make sense with even more backstory or science behind it, which likely future ones would work on doing.

That doesn’t mean things are okay! But also, some of these things are red herrings and mysterious at the same time. The ending is incredibly clunky, and a lot of that is probably attributed to the fact that Tig Notaro replaced Chris D’Elia entirely after the film had been shot, due to his sexual assault/harassment history. I can’t remember exactly what, but it wasn’t that good. Given the problems with that, a lot of this is better than anticipated.

This world created had a lot of potential, and the moments that I enjoyed far outweighed the slower moments, the ending, and any plot awkwardness.

Bring on more smart zombies, I say.

3 out of 4.

Thunder Force

“Shit we better get into that super hero genre game” – Netflix, probably, after losing their Marvel Shows. They didn’t want to get bamboozled again, so they figured they would just buy a movie by someone who was making their own. Enter Ben Falcone, ready for his next bi-yearly (usually) basic comedy starring his wife, Melissa McCarthy.

Their last film, Superintelligence, made my worst of the year list. I don’t remember fully how the other ones did, but I don’t recall it ever being met with high amounts of laughter or praise either, so there is that. 

Honestly, based on the cover of Thunder Force, it just seems like a movie they would put out entirely to make fat jokes with their heroes? I fucking hope not. I can hope they can do better than that overall. But I still wouldn’t put it past them given the people involved with it. 

steal
Pickle jokes too. Definitely gotta have some pickle jokes. 

Back in the 80’s, some sun shit happened, that gave some people super powers! Unfortunately, this only went to people who would be classified as sociopaths, which wasn’t a good thing for anyone out there. They were named Miscreants, and began to take a toll on society, and make things unbearbale. 

At this time, young Lydia and Emily became unlikely friends. Lydia was crass, but protected Emily, who was smart. Emily’s parents were killed by Miscreants, and she had to live with her grandparents. Emily dreamed of one day figuring out how to give powers to the good guys, and that was her life goals.

Decades later, these two eventually grew apart. Now barely functioning as an adult, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) is an adult construction worker and has nothing important to say about her life. Emily (Octavia Spencer) is rich, a scientist, a mom, and really close to getting some super powers. Once they get reconnected, unfortunately, Lydia gets given the special juice to make her super powered, so now she is in the experiment. Their first goal is to just control these powers, but stopping crime seems like a necessity. In fact, the Chicago mayor election is happening, and one of the Miscreants, The King (Bobby Cannavale) has been in charge of the city to put a leash on the other super powers, but he doesn’t like the idea of any sort of super heroes trying to stop them, or him. 

Also starring Jason Bateman, Pom Klementieff, Melissa Leo, Taylor Mosby, Marcella Lowery, Melissa Ponzio, and Ben Falcone, of course. 

science
Actual footage of Cerebro trying to find more Melissa’s to put into this movie. 

This film doesn’t really need a long in depth review to fully understand it, I imagine, but I will still go for it for a bit. First off, on the fat joke department, there was only actually one, which was surprising. I think I only laughed at one joke the whole film, a dinner scene freak out about sea food, because it was a good set up with the characters. At the same time, that scene was very slow and messed a lot with the pacing of the film. Why add that romance at all to the story? Not enough filler?

I was hoping as these two ladies were costars that it would feel like Spencer was getting a bit out of these supporting actress roles where she is there just to help the protagonist realize their true potential, or some shit. But it doesn’t. Despite the costarring, she still feels like second fiddle to McCarthy’s character, and thus is just supporting the crass member of the team into being the star. They also decided to do almost nothing with her powers. One gets super strength, the other can turn invisible and then…taze people. That is about it. Weak.

McCarthy’s character isn’t just annoying, but I have to wonder why she didn’t get powers as a kid. Her character, although not fully a sociopath, is a huge asshole. When this is a movie about good people getting powers to stop crime, but one of them isn’t really good? It is very uncomfortable. McCarthy’s character is showboaty and egotistical. She also uses her powers to get free food from places that were just getting robbed? Like. It left a big sour taste in my mouth, as she prevented a robbery, while then technically robbing at a smaller scale. 

This film has very low stakes, and these people who have superpowers rarely act like sociopaths. Is this something that affected the whole world or Chicago? Because in 20-30 some years, I would expect a whole lot more bad stuff going on than just mostly normal Chicago with the occasional gas station getting robbed. What is happening else where? Actual bad stuff? 

Low concept, low thought out film, but thankfully the humor isn’t completely bottom of the barrel. 

1 out of 4.

The Paper Tigers

What a year for martial arts films it has been!

We have The Paper Tigers, which this review is about and …!

Oh I think that is it so far? I definitely haven’t reviewed any more. There might be some out there I guess. We still have a lot of year left, so there is time.

But the good news is, I liked The Paper Tigers, so even if it is the only martial arts film that releases this year, I can still say it is a good year for martial arts films.

standoff
If there shadows fought separately, this would be the best martial arts film year. 

The Paper Tigers were a feared (not like, for your life, but feared like in awed) group of martial artists, trained by Sifu Cheung (Roger Yuan). Why were they feared? Because the trio never lost. That means in an official bout, of one on ones, or even in a trio match where the best 2 out of 3 wins. So there is some wiggle room there, but overall, they have never lost as a team, and they were gonna go far.

But then, their ages got older, joints got achier, and life got harder. Danny (Alain Uy) used to be the strongest of them, now he has a corporate job, a kid and is getting divorced for being so distant and a bad father/husband. Hing (Ron Yuan) has lost his hair, gotten fatter, but hasn’t lost his humor, and Danny (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) has his own dojo, but has still softened up in his age, despite still training daily.

Their lives come together again when they find out that their Sifu has died and have to go to their funeral. There is some mystery in their lives that made them drift apart, but when they determine that it is likely that their Sifu was murdered? Well, now they are going to have to investigate together to avenge his death. And if it means getting back into fighting shape in order to battle some more youthful fighters, then so be it.

Also starring Peter Adrian Sudarso, Yoshi Sudarso, Gui DaSilva-Greene, Raymond Ma, Matthew Page, Ken Quitugua, Jae Suh Park, and Joziah Lagonoy.

old men
Tea breaks are important for training. And dum dums. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into The Paper Tigers, as it began with a few kids starting training, and then followed up with a montage of them training and getting older, in home movie formats, before we get to the modern day. We got to see these kids grow up and train and get swole and fast, and become champions. It was up up and up for them, for us to get juxtaposed with our protagonist as an adult and trying desperately (and failing) to find a parking spot.

Because that is the major theme of this film is getting old and honoring your past. Reconciliation with your past as well, fixing mistakes, in order to grow as a person.

But also, martial arts!

The Paper Tigers I was able to find funny and emotional at the same time. It never made me cry, but the emotions did run rampant near the end, because the final fight scenes had some high stakes. You really pull for the protagonist, even after finding out he hasn’t been the best of a stand up guy lately, because like all great husbands, they start off as fixer uppers and we can see them become great! (That is a joke, please do not be in a relationship with someone to fix them up). I did like his relationship with the son by the end, when he realized he was doing wrong, and when he became more serious.

The main characters are all really exciting to cheer behind, purely because they have weaknesses and struggles. Entirely relatable, even if you cannot do any sort of martial arts. The fight scenes are well shot as well, visible, and amusing at points as well.

The Paper Tigers is the best martial arts film this year. So far. And I have no idea if we are getting any more, but this one you might have never heard about before now is definitely recommended.

3 out of 4.

Wrath of Man

“Is Guy Ritchie finally back?!”

That is the question I ask myself every time I am about to watch a new Guy Ritchie film. I believe the last time he was actually “back” was when he did The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and I wouldn’t define his Sherlock films as really back either. So maybe he has been off for over a decade for the most part. Taking on strange projects. Nothing that feels like a Guy Ritchie film based on the movies he gave us in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

I could list his many duds, but it is unnecessary. You all know it is true. Duds or okay films or weird sell out films.

But is Wrath of Man, with his favorite actor ever, his return to his roots? This is what we want, after all.

security
Are these security guards? Nope. Killers.

Hill (Jason Statham) is just a regular average guy, who has done some security work in the past, looking for a new job. He is going to be a security officer who rides in an armored car that picks up and drops off large quantities of money. It is a dangerous job apparently, because people really love to steal from armored cars.

The company he works at now, that he barely qualifies for, is known for having good trained officers and not getting robbed as much, so they get the big business. But when a crew takes out their drivers and steal from them? Well, the drivers are now more shook. So Hill joins them at a strange time. But he quickly puts the stop to another robbery, bad ass incarnate and all, and becomes a hero to them.

But why, why did he join, and what connection does it have with the robberies?

Also starring Eddie Marsan, Niamh Algar, Laz Alonso, Chris Reilly, Holt McCallany, Rocci Williams, Josh Harnett, Jeffrey Donovan, Scott Eastwood, Deobia Oparei, Raúl Castillo, and Andy Garcia.

construction
Is that a construction worker? Nope. A killer.

Maybe…maybe Guy Ritchie is back?

I left Wrath of Man liking it, and it did have a lot of similarities to his earlier work. We didn’t just get the good guys point of view, we got the bad guy point of view as well. Hell, our good guy isn’t really a good guy either. This is about different tiers of bad guys, and some good guys who also get involved. It has betrayal, many named important people getting killed, and it is told non chronologically.

It is also a relatively simple story, given the situation. The only leap of faith we have to take is a society where armored cars get robbed all the time.

It was nice to have the scale be relatively small with so many people being typical bad guys. Criminals vs criminals is the type of action film I can get behind. Especially if one is technically doing some good, even if for selfish reasons.

I don’t think there is anything inherently special about Statham’s “acting” here just like his other work. The twists are pretty simple to determine. It was nice to see various people in the random roles throughout the film. And you can even see Post Malone as Robber #6. If that appeals to you as well.

3 out of 4.