Monday, July 10, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Spider-Man has had a pretty complicated movie history in the last fifteen years having six movies, three actors, and two reboots you can see where the confusion comes from.

However, in Civil War Spidey has been successfully established in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with promise of another trilogy on the way. And while most people loved his appearance in Civil War, could Tom Holland carry a whole film to himself?

Having watched this movie, I'm fully on board with Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. No disrespect at all towards the previous actors, but I do think that Holland does an excellent job with this character. He had that nerdy frantic personality, constantly wants to help people, and still has that room for growth in future movies. Moving forward, we'll see Peter during his high school years, which is where some of the best Spidey stories take place. In the past, the movies were always in a hurry to get Peter out of school, but here it takes its time to see the character change and improve in his skills. Holland plays the part of a teenager perfectly well and you're fully invested with his character. Another thing they do well is making his life as Peter just as epic as his life as Spider-Man. A huge plus for this movie.

Michael Keaton plays the main villain here and he does a good job. Marvel movies don't have the best villains overall, but Keaton does stand out. I appreciate that the movie shows his past and how he became an arms dealer alien technology. He doesn't overplay this part, but just manages to give you enough menace to make him a threat, yet you completely understand where he's coming from. I also appreciate that they show him having a sense of honor to his family, his cohorts, and even to Spidey.

Other Characters:
This movie knows how to do supporting characters extremely well. 
Peter's friend, Ned has a great partnership and chemistry with Holland;

Marissa Tomei as Aunt May was fun to watch and how she's far more aware of Peter's actions than what she lets on.

It was great to see Tony Stark and Happy Hogan again as the mentor/student relationship with Peter. Again, great interactions done in a natural way.

Liz was a fun love interest that doesn't have any sappy moments. It's fun and even cute to see her with Peter. And the twist that happens with her in the movie had great mounting tension.

It was great to see several villains show up prior to most of them having powers/skills. Nice seeds planted for sequels in the potential Sinister Six.

Final Thoughts:
While I do love the previous five movies, I have a huge passion for this movie. Everything moves at a smooth natural place, the action and character moments keep you invested, and the dialogue is realistic and charming. Overall, it was a great optimistic feel good movie. I think it was a smart decision to play this a teenage comedy without any of the cliques that features a superhero. It's lighthearted approach was needed after the emotional weight from both Civil War and Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2. I for one highly look forward to the rest of the trilogy and the crossovers that Spidey will have.

Next Time:
War of the Planet of the Apes.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman has been in comics for almost eighty years now. While she's had several interpretations in both comics and television, up until now, she's never had a live action film.

Last year, Gal Gadot played Diana in Batman vs. Superman. She was one of the few things I enjoyed about that film (read my review for more details). I was intensely looking forward to watching Wonder Woman this year! However, just like with many of us, I've been burned by the last three DC movies. Will DC finally make a good film in their expanded universe?

Main Characters:

The characters are handled well here. We learn all about Diana's origin, and while I'm normally not a fan of origins, this movie did a great job of holding your interest.

Gal Gadot now has more time to flesh out Diana and does an excellent job with her! Not only does she convince you of how tough she is under pressure, but she also shows her empathy and compassion for humans all throughout the movie. This is something that people often forget about her, it's that while she was always a warrior, she was also always a diplomat and willing to help others.

Chris Pine plays Steve Trevor, and I did like him here. This was a tricky character to pull off, because he's often seen as annoying in both comics and shows. Here, comes across as a charismatic man of action. Personally, I could do without the romance between him and Diana, but it doesn't hurt the film.

Ares is a one that I'm a little mixed on. On one hand, I like the actor that played him and how he was presented. On the the other, I think he was a little shoved in at the last minute and while his fight was cool, it reminded me too much of the Doomsday fight from BvS. Even though the "twist" may have been a little obvious, you can tell they wanted to do something different and they put sincere effort into him. Out of the recent villains that we've had, he's the best one and though he has room for improvement; it shows that DC is going in the right direction for their villains.

Side Characters:

There are some pretty cool side characters here with Etta Candy, Dr. Poison, and Steve's team. I just wish that Etta and Dr. Poison had more things to do in the film. I loved every time they were on screen, just wish there was a little more of it.

Final Thoughts:

It's certainly the best of the DC Expanded Universe so far and the best DC film since Dark Knight. It gives me a glimmer of hope that DC could learn from this example and put this type of effort in future projects. It's entertaining, worth watching multiple times, well paced, and well acted. It has some hiccups, but they're minor. This is a movie that I recommend and you won't be disappointed by.

Next Time:

Spider-Man Homecoming.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2

Well, here we have the first Marvel movie of 2017 and it's the sequel to a movie that everyone just flat out loves. How does the sequel compare to what happened before? 


Rest assured, this movie is wonderful and just does a great job with handling themes such as family and how you don't have to be related to become a family. It's not something you see so much in comic book films, at least not at this level. I do love how it wasn't heavy handed and just kept the right balance with the action and humor. 


I will say that the bare plot of this movie isn't really the best plot. Essentially, Star Lord meets his dad for the first time and adjusts to the consequences with it. Even though the plot is weak, that's okay because the characters are just fun to watch when they're with each other. This isn't a plot driven movie, it's a character driven one; and the benefit of that is you see how each character grows over time. The best examples of this are Rocket and Yondu. Overall this helps you to see them be an even better team and family.


New characters included Star Lord's dad, Ego, and his assistant, Mantis. Both are interesting additions to the movie, but I think more could've been done with both of them. Although I'm happy that everyone from the previous movie had more depth to them.


Final Thoughts:

If you loved the last movie, you'll definitely love this. It has the same emotions and tones from before and puts them in a new way that gives you action, heart, and humor. An absolute blast to watch.


Next Time:

DC. Fourth time's the charm, right? Let's see how you handle Wonder Woman. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Beauty&The Beast (2017) Review

Disney doesn't really have the best track record when it comes to live action remakes of their famous animated films. They kept trying to be edgy and flashy whilst completely missing what made the original great. That being said, I was initially skeptical when Disney announced one of my favorite Disney films was getting a remake. Even though Little Mermaid was a rebirth for animation, Beauty and the Beast did set the highest of standards with this art form. So much so that it was the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture! An incredibly high bar was set with movie, so did Disney deliver again? Only one way to find out!

Since both versions are extremely similar, I won't be covering plot summary. Instead I'll cover the differences between the two--which changes work and which ones didn't. 


Now, many people were uncertain when Emma Watson was cast as Belle, but she does a good job in this role. She has all of Belle's wit and charm that we fell in love with, but she does add a more inquisitive mind to this part by her asking more details about the curse and how she can help out. Her chemistry is good with everyone, especially with Kevin Kline as Maurice. Definitely one of the highlights of this movie.

Maurice: As mentioned, Kevin Kline has great chemistry with Watson, but his version is far less zany than his animated counterpart. I like this change, because we see more of his love for his family. Also have to give points that he stands up to Gaston, even though it backfired. Not to mention he had a part in helping Belle escape. 


Luke Evans as Gaston wasn't as fun to watch as the original, but he still did a good job. I appreciated how Evans shows how he manipulates the town to his advantage. However, I'm not keen on him attempting to kill Maurice. Gaston would only kill wild animals or individuals that he perceives to be wild animals. It's a small change, but I give it to original Gaston. 


I'm not going to get into the whole "controversial" issue with this character, but I'll just say that it's subtle enough. Besides that, I liked the other changes Josh Gad made here such as his friendship with Gaston, that he respects the town and his goofy nature is toned down. All of which made him a third dimensional character.


It's Ian McKellan. What else can I say?

He doesn't stray too far from the original, but they do add a far more "take charge" attitude when dealing with everyone. 


Ewan McGregor had a challenge with Lumiere by having a natural Scottish accent and playing someone with a heavy French accent that sings. Now, Jerry Orbach will always be Lumiere to me, but I don't hate McGregor. He still has plenty of his good qualities and does an acceptable job.

Mrs. Potts/Chip:

These characters are the closest to the first movie and Emma Thompson does a good job with being affectionate yet still tough. Chip still acts like rambunctious boy that we care about. 

The Beast:

Dan Stevens had a challenge by being almost entirely in motion capture and yet still give a convincing performance. Showing his life in the castle before the curse was a fantastic idea and giving clues about his parents was a plus. However, I don't think he quite nails all of the lines like Robby Benson does. I know Stevens is a good actor, so I think it was the direction he was given. Although I do love that this Beast is also a book nerd, so that he and Belle have more things to bond over.

Other Differences--

1. The Curse:

This movie manages to explain what the consequences of the curse is! It affects the memories of the local village, so no one knows anything about the Prince, castle or the staff. Because of this, Mrs. Potts' husband has no idea that he has a family until the curse is lifted.

Also, we know that the servants were turned into enchanted objects, but were still able to have their personality, speech, movement, and mind. But if Beast couldn't find love before the last petal fell, then not only would he be a beast forever, but all the servants would lose all humanity and become literal objects without any sentience. This led to an extremely heartbreaking scene near the end.

They also made it vague as to how long the curse has been going on, which disproves other questions. 

2. The Enchanted Book:

So, not only does Beast have a magic mirror that allows him to see anything, he also received a magic book that allows him to travel anywhere. This change was not needed at all. Belle and Beast use it to travel to Paris, where she discovers that her mom died of the plague when she was a baby, but that could've been said in dialogue. Also when she finds out Maurice needs help, she could've used the book to go there but she just rides the horse instead. I'm not a fan of this change, but it doesn't hurt the movie.


All the best songs are here, along with some new ones. I was happy that Maurice and Beast each have a song, but they are a little forgettable. All of our favorite songs sound good, but I do have to give it to the original voices more. Not saying the new cast is bad, but it's just a difficult act to follow. Regardless, they're still catchy for you to enjoy. 

Final Thoughts--

If you're a fan of the original, you have nothing to fear. Disney did a respectfully great job with this remake and clearly put a lot of thought behind it. All the plotholes from before have now been cleaned up and it was a joy to see everything in live action. But I'm going to give it to the original movie that told the better story. Those voices and acting choices really stood out to me. Everyone does a fine job here, but it just doesn't stick out to me as much. This is a solid A. This movie and the live action 101 Dalmatians are the two best live action remakes from Disney. Definitely go see it!

Next Time: Guardian's of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lego Batman Movie Review

Welcome to 2017, everybody! We have a great year ahead of us and we're starting the year off right with The Lego Batman Movie. 


As a spinoff of The Lego Movie, we see Batman at a lonely place in his life when he accidentally adopts Dick Grayson. Meanwhile, the Joker plans to make sure that Batman takes him seriously as a villain.


Will Arnett returns as Bruce Wayne/Batman and once again nails it with his performance. In previous Batman films, we saw him experiencing loneliness before, but not at this level. So it's refreshing to see character development from the over-confident solo act to being part of a team with people that care about him. At times he is far too abrasive and careless, but he does handle it with confidence and we see natural progression with his character. 


It has been twenty years since we saw Robin in a movie, and it's been far too long in my opinion. Michael Cera plays an extremely young, hopeful, and optimistic Dick Grayson that is reminiscent of the Burt Ward version of the character. This movie really shows how important Robin is to Batman by keeping him grounded and bringing joy in his life. Their chemistry is such a delight to watch and worth every moment.  

Barbara Gordon: 

It's also been twenty years since we saw Barbara Gordon and I love Rosario Dawson as this character. She starts off as the new commissioner of Gotham who wants to work with Batman. She is pretty capable of handling crime long before she becomes Batgirl, and even knocks some common sense into Batman.  Easily one of my favorite versions of Batgirl.

The Joker: 

Zack Galafinakis is great to watch as Joker. He has the zany elements of Ceasar Romero with the charisma of Jack Nicholson, but really most of the past Jokers are represented well in this movie. I enjoyed how this movie delves into the Batman/Joker dynamic and how it affects their respective psychoses. Not extremely in depth, but it's acknowledged at least in a comical sense. 


As with The Lego Movie, the animation is wonderful. The nice blend of stop motion and CGI makes all the scenes both simple and complex, not to mention all the character designs are done so that you're never confused by the characters. And that's not even getting into all the references! Oh my goodness, there are references to all versions of Batman over his 78 year history! With characters, lines, props, and scenes that cover all the movies, shows, comics, etc. So no matter what your favorite version of Batman is from any decade, it's here.

Final Thoughts:

If you loved The Lego Movie and you're a Batman fan, then you'll love this. It was an excellent 78 year anniversary tribute to all things Batman that anyone will enjoy. And it has the moral of not pushing people away out of fear of losing them. It's not a moral you see often in movies, so I was impressed to see this done in a subtle yet comfortable manner. I highly recommend this to anyone and it's easily one of the best DC films in quite some time. A great way to kick off 2017.

Next Time:

Beauty and the Beast.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Best&Worst of 2016

#21. Suicide Squad.
#20. Miss Peregine's Home For Peculiar Children.
#19. La La Land.
#18. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.
#17. Alice Through the Looking Glass.
#16. Legend of Tarzan.
#15. The 5th Wave.
#14. Finding Dory.
#13. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
#12. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
#11. The Shallows.
#10. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
#9. Jungle Book.
#8. Sing.
#7. Magnificent Seven.
#6. Me Before You.
#5. 10 Cloverfield Lane.
#4. Star Trek Beyond.
#3. X-Men: Apocalypse.
#2. Captain America: Civil War.
#1. Zootopia.

Next Time:
The only DC movie I'm legitimately excited about. The Lego Batman Movie!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

It's been awhile, guys. This time of year is difficult for the movies, but we do have one with which we can wrap up 2016. And believe it or not it's a Star Wars prequel. And it's actually good! Shocking, I know!

Set after the events of Revenge of the Sith, a group of Rebel fighters attempt to steal the plans of the newly constructed Death Star in order to give the Rebels a fighting chance for A New Hope. 


Jyn Erso: I like Jyn, but at times I thought her acting was a bit flat. However, I do greatly enjoy her character arc. We see her left behind at a young age, separated from her family.  Over the years she became more rebellious and was later recruited to be part of something bigger when it's revealed that her father, Galen, had a huge role in creating the Death Star. Watching this progression was entertaining, but just a bit rushed for my taste.

Galen Erso: One of the top engineers for the Death Star, Galen proves to be on the side of the Rebellion by playing the part of an Empire sympathizer. This is a nice change of pace from what's usually depicted of those who work in the Empire. It gives them a more emotional and human response for their actions and Galen does a great job of conveying this.

Chirrut Imwe: One of my favorite characters here! Even though he's technically not a Jedi, the movie suggests that he does have a connection to the Force and knows how to use it. Especially since this was during the time when most of the Jedi are nonexistent, it gives him an added depth that I didn't see coming and was pleasantly surprising. 

K-2SO: My other favorite character! A reprogrammed Imperial droid that aids the Rebellion is a fun idea and this movie takes full advantage of it! I really love his personality and dry humor. He reminded me of a snarky C-3PO. Excellent addition.

Characters that return are Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Darth Vader, and Tarkin. All different levels of cameos and fan service, sure but they do make sense given the context of the movie and while it's a treat to see them return, it doesn't take you away from the main plot.

I'll let you know that this film is slow at the beginning. It helps here since, for the most part, we have no idea who these people are and where their motivations lie. So while it has a slow start, halfway through it does pick up and it just doesn't stop until the end.

I would also like to say that as a prequel, it lines up perfectly with Episode IV concerning the events that need to take place and all the great easter eggs for fans of the main series. Nice touches.

Final Thoughts
This movie was actually pretty enjoyable. Now, I don't think it's as great as Empire Strikes Back or Force Awakens, but it's a nice, refreshing take on the series that's easily the best of the prequels, set in the same world and yet still separate from the Skywalker family being the focus. This was a pretty big gamble and I think they succeeded in this experiment. Gladly look forward to the next standalone films.

Next Time:
Best & Worst of 2016.