CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE review

Unlike a lot of kids, I actually never read the books this movie is based on. Can’t exactly explain why. I always had an interest, but I never made the time or any real effort to read them. So, to be completely honest, I have no idea what they were about. I actually assumed it was about a little kid with superpowers who saved older kids from whatever was terrorizing them.

I see that the movie is very different from my preconceptions. It looks like it’s about two kids who are notorious pranksters. One day, they go too far and their mean principal threatens to keep them apart in separate classrooms to prevent their diabolical schemes. Genuinely afraid to be apart, they hypnotize their principal via ridiculously random magic ring into believing that he is the kids’ personal superhero creation, Captain Underpants, who goes around fighting crime and monsters that don’t exist, until a real threat comes along for him to save the day.

I have to admit… I don’t think this looks good. I mean, I can appreciate DreamWorks keeping the animation the same style as the books, but man, I do not buy these voice actors as kids. Even if the movie happens to be really good, which I’m not holding my breath for, Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch will distract the living daylights out of me for how much they do not sound like kids. Look, I know Hart is a short dude with a high pitched voice, but he still doesn’t sound like a kid. He sounds like a high-pitched voiced adult. But hey, I’ll keep my mind open. DreamWorks has done amazing work in the past. But for every few great films, they’ve got one bad one too. Initial thoughts are: not a good movie.

But let’s take a look at the voice talent. As previously stated, we have Hart (THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS [2016], GET HARD [2015], GRUDGE MATCH [2013], and upcoming films JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE [2017] and RIDE ALONG 3, due out… who knows when), Middleditch (THE BRONZE [2016], THE CAMPAIGN [2012], TV show SILICON VALLEY, and the upcoming GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS [2019]), as well as Ed Helms (VACATION [2015], THE LORAX [2012], and THE HANGOVER [2009]). In support, we have Nick Kroll (SING [2016], and TV shows THE LEAGUE and PARKS AND REC), Jordan Peele (STORKS [2016], WANDERLUST [2012], and TV show KEY AND PEELE), and Kristen Schaal (THE BOSS [2016], and TV shows BOBS BURGERS and THE LAST MAN ON EARTH).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing is David Soren, known for TURBO (2013). Penning the screenplay is Nicholas Stoller, known for STORKS, MUPPETS MOST WANTED (2014), and THE MUPPETS (2011). Finally, the composer for the score is Theodore Shapiro, known for COLLATERAL BEAUTY (2016), INFINITELY POLAR BEAR (2014), and DIARY OF A WIMPY KID (2010).

Overall, not terribly thrilled to see this, but here’s to hoping it’s better than it’s letting on.

This is my honest opinion of: CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE

(SUMMARY)

Harold (Thomas Middleditch) and George (Kevin Hart) are a pair of kids who are the best of friends. They make comics together, their favorite creation being the crime-fighting Captain Underpants, and try to have as much fun as possible. This isn’t easy when they’re at school, which is run by their evil principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms). They combat his authority by pulling off pranks. He’s been unable to get them in trouble due to a lack of proof. However, the inevitable happens and the two boys are about to be separated into different classes. In an act of desperation, Harold attempts to hypnotize Krupp using a magical toy ring… and it miraculously works. They turn Krupp into their comic creation Captain Underpants and he gets loose, trying to fight crime with super powers that he doesn’t have.

(REVIEW)

While I wasn’t wholly wrong about this movie, I’d be lying if I said was completely right. It’s no Kung Fu Panda or How to Train Your Dragon, it’s perfectly fine for what it is: a harmless kids movie.

Because the movie is painfully clear that it’s meant for kids, the humor is exactly that: kiddie humor. So most of the jokes aren’t especially funny. It’s just tolerable. Thankfully, DreamWorks had the foresight not to go all NORM OF THE NORTH (2016), but keeps the humor pretty innocent. I think maybe there was one fart joke that wasn’t too bad, and a surprising lack of potty humor. Instead, the jokes are pretty much what you’d expect them to be. The kids hypnotize their principal into turning into their undergarment clad superhero and laugh at him as any kid would, and the guy acting all goofy. Again, thankfully, it’s written in a way that isn’t annoying. It’s not written funny, for the most part, but it’s not obnoxious.

Even the plot has been kind of done before. Not the superhero bit, of course, but the whole, “We’re fun-loving kids in a school that hates fun and we’re the rebels who want the rest of the kids to have fun too.” MIDDLE SCHOOL (2016) did that and you can argue that FIST FIGHT (2017) did it too to a degree, albeit it’s the teachers struggling to deal with unruly teens. Give the movie some credit, that’s not the focus of the story and they do segue into a more exciting story. But even that’s been done before too: unleashing a goofy adult that young people need to rein in and pretend they’re related, like in JUMANJI (1995). Once again though, it could have been worse.

The movie also does try to have a moral at the end: find something to laugh at yourself about. I can’t lie, I like that moral and it’s pretty unique in a kids movie. The problem is that the rest of the movie doesn’t really back it up. The movie starts off about pranks and learning to lighten up, then it turns into a silly superhero movie, and it’s only at the end where the moral is brought up. But even then, it’s not really enforcing its moral. The kids are still laughing at the teacher’s name and spent a good chunk of time making fun of it in a self-made comic book they made. These kids never make fun of themselves or point out their own flaws. So the moral is completely confused and ultimately pointless.

Is there anything that’s funny? Well, I did like a few jokes in the beginning. You might recall from the trailer when the two kids try to leave their principal’s office only for him to press a button and then a high tech lockdown initiates, preventing their escape. By the end of the dramatic lockdown, George says, “Wow, that’s an expensive door.” But this is followed up with Mr. Krupp smugly saying something like, “Do you like it? I had a choice to spend school funding on a magnetically sealed door, or keep the theater-arts department open. I think I made the better choice.” I admit, I laughed at that. There’s another sequence where, if I remember correctly, Captain Underpants has turned the entire front of the school into an amusement park of sorts and Harold and George are like, “What do we do?! We have to stop this!” A shot of kids having fun goes by and then you see Harold and George going through a sugar rush, clearly enthralled by the festivities at some point. And pretty much anything when Professor Poopypants comes in. Yup, Kroll steals the show on this one. One line that just came back to me was when Poopypants has got these kids in a bind and he’s about to sap their ability to laugh at anything, the kids try to appeal to his good nature by saying something like, “Dude, you gotta lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself,” or something to that effect. And then Poopypants exclaims, “Oh really, Oprah?!” Again, I laughed quite a bit on that one. There’s also this running gag with this lady on hold. That was funny too.

That’s… kind of it, actually. It’s not like a good DreamWorks movie like How to Train Your Dragon where adults could go in without kids and get something out of it. No, you’d want to bring your kids for this one. It’s a movie for them and it works fine for what it’s supposed to do: keep ’em entertained, which it will do effectively. The animation is fine, and fast-paced, so it’s never boring. It’s colorful and competently made, so it’s not completely devoid of imagination. Personally, if you wanted to see a better version of this that both kids and adults would enjoy, LEGO BATMAN (2017) is the way to go. But if your kids are itching to see it, go ahead, it’s harmless and not painful to sit through. But if you’re an adult hit with nostalgia who grew up with the books unlike me, I’d say wait for a rental. It’s not exactly worth a theater viewing. Not bad, not that good, just… meh. I’m not the target demographic, so it is what it is.

My honest rating for CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE: 3/5

Captain-Underpants-New-poster

WONDER WOMAN review

Oh man is there a lot to say about this.

So, as many of you know, I’m not much of a comic book reader. So I can’t say I know anything comic-related about Wonder Woman. I’ve never even seen the 70’s TV show of the character. I grew up watching the animated TV shows JUSTICE LEAGUE and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. That was the extent of my knowledge. I was also a fan of the animated movie that came out, WONDER WOMAN (2009) and even owned the DVD. What can I say, Nathan Fillion is a favorite of mine.

But as anyone can tell you, a live-action movie has been in production hell for years. Again, for those of you that don’t know, Wonder Woman was about to get the big screen treatment with now geek-god Joss Whedon at the helm. A list as long as travel time on the 405 freeway of who would play the character was being considered, but the project was ultimately killed off. Whedon would obviously go on to do great work with Marvel, but keep in mind, this was around the year 2007! Maybe even earlier than that! Holy crap, it looked like we’d never see this superhero brought to life outside of animation. Hell, Hollywood tried to get yet another live-action TV show of Wonder Woman off the ground back in 2011 starring Adrianne Palicki and Elizabeth Hurley, but that was so critically thrashed that not even one episode was ever aired.

But thanks in large part to the success of MAN OF STEEL (2013), Warner Bros. and DC comics were ready to ride the waves that THE AVENGERS (2012) started and wanted to get their own cinematic universe created, culminating into a Justice League film. Despite BATMAN V SUPERMAN’s (2016) financial success, it was horribly beaten down by fans, and it was around this time that DC would get a huge overhaul in their infrastructure and a new team of creators would be carrying this franchise forward. Though that would mean little to BATMAN V SUPERMAN’s messy and senseless story and wasted potential, many couldn’t deny that Wonder Woman’s brief appearance was arguably the saving grace of the film, and I am totally in agreement.

Fast-forward past SUICIDE SQUAD (2016), and it’s mixed popularity, we are given a kind of last hope for this series of films and I have to say, much like the rest of the movies that came before, I am pretty excited for this, and early reviews and ratings sure have me riding on high hopes. I want this to be good guys. I want to love this movie. I really do.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring as the bad-ass Amazonian warrior princess is Gal Gadot (KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES [2016], FAST & FURIOUS 6 [2013], DATE NIGHT [2010], and the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE [2017]). Although I can’t say I’m her biggest fan, in that I’ve only seen so much of her work and she’s barely had a starring role to really showcase her talent, I am perfectly fine with her as Wonder Woman. No, her résumé isn’t spotless of bad movies, but she’s not usually the reason why. I look forward to seeing her performance here and 100 percent support her. At her side is the ever amazing and charming, Chris Pine (STAR TREK BEYOND [2016], JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT [2014], and THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT [2004]). What can I say about the man? He’s funny. He’s awesome. He can perfectly play comedy and drama. I love his work… moving on. In support, we have Connie Nielsen (3 DAYS TO KILL [2014], GLADIATOR [2000], TV show THE FOLLOWING, and the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE), Robin Wright (EVEREST [2015], UNBREAKABLE [2000], TV show HOUSE OF CARDS, and the upcoming BLADE RUNNER 2049 [2017]), Danny Huston (BIG EYES [2014], animated film JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX [2013], and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE [2009]), David Thewlis (ANOMALISA [2015], HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN [2004], and TV show FARGO), and Ewen Bremner (T2 TRAINSPOTTING [2017], AVP: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR [2004], and TRAINSPOTTING [1996]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Patty Jenkins, known for MONSTER (2003). Penning the screenplay is Allan Heinberg, known for TV shows: seven episodes of GREY’S ANATOMY, eight episodes of THE O.C., and four episodes of SEX AND THE CITY. Composing the score is Rupert Gregson-Williams, known for HACKSAW RIDGE (2016), BEE MOVIE (2007), and HOTEL RWANDA (2004). Finally, the cinematographer is Matthew Jensen, known for FANT4STIC (2015), CHRONICLE (2012), and eleven episodes of TV show TRUE BLOOD.

Overall, STOKED! I needn’t say more.

This is my honest opinion of: WONDER WOMAN

(SUMMARY)

Diana (Gal Gadot) is the Princess of the hidden island paradise of Themyscira, raised around an all-female elite class of warriors, trained by the greatest of their warriors to be the best in the off chance that their greatest adversary, Ares, the God of War, should ever return. However, everything changes when a mysterious aircraft crashes into Themyscira’s ocean, carrying an American spy named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), pursued by German forces. Despite victory against them, Steve is taken prisoner and reveals that he’s fighting in a war, a great war supposedly to end all wars. While Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) believes it’s simply the natural chaos that men bring, Diana believes that it’s Ares influencing the war. Taking weapons and armor, she takes Steve back to his war as long as he promises to take her to where the war is at its most intense.

(REVIEW)

YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAH!!! About damn time, DC!

Yes, folks, this is an awesome movie. A legitimately good film. I’m not just saying that because I’m lying to myself. No, I really do think this is one that shouldn’t be missed.

Right off the bat, the movie does a great job of world-building the Amazon world. Themyscira is a beautifully designed island and really does feel like a paradise. The gorgeous scenery alone almost feels like a character in itself, thanks in no small part to the wonderful cinematography. But more than that, once they introduce the Amazon warriors, you’re immediately enthralled by them. These women are pure bad-asses and in no more than two minutes, you know you’d never want to get on their bad sides. A detail that I found particularly remarkable in this brief introduction is just how good the extras look. No, I’m not talking aesthetic beauty, I’m talking about how these extras actually look like they’re having intense sparring matches. You know how in almost every great sword-fighting movie that it’s always intense thanks to great stunt-work and choreography? It looks like that’s what’s happening with these extras. Each sparring match looks intense and probably took a great deal of time to perfect and look great on screen. So believe me when I tell you when I look at an eight-year-old Diana (Lilly Aspell) looking at the warriors in awe, trying to mimic their fighting techniques, I’m right there with her, and I’m a twenty-eight-year-old grown-ass man… er, mostly grown-ass. Bottom-line, this intro is awesome.

But it’s not just pure, unrelenting action with no character. Quite the contrary, every character is simple, but easy to identify. Young Diana wants to train just like the rest of her Amazonian sisters, but her mother won’t allow it, believing that no threat will come their way in their lifetime… however long that is. Yeah, it’s never made clear if these women are immortals or just have really long life-spans, but whatever! No one cares! But of course, Hippolyta knows that her daughter has a strong will and eventually concedes that if she must be trained, then she must be trained to be better than the greatest of their warriors. And who better to train her just for that than their greatest warrior, Antiope (Robin Wright). I feel like in a lesser script, they could have easily made Antiope a reluctant teacher, jealous of Diana’s eventual combative prowess. But maybe that’s the cynic in me because you see that she has long desired to train Diana and even trained her in secret before her mother found out, eventually caving in to both of their desires to see her become a warrior like them. Even when Diana is an adult, she’s clearly a great warrior, but still has enough to learn.

Oh, and don’t worry, these ladies aren’t just here for practice fighting either. They get their moment to shine as an army right as soon as Steve arrives. German forces find Themyscira and invade the shores in pursuit of the American. They start bungee jumping off the side of cliffs and ride in on horseback, arrows flying like a cloud of locusts, a fair number of Germans are killed. But even the Amazons aren’t invincible as a few of them get killed too, which does feel like a loss that carries weight. I mean, these are warriors through and through. To be taken down by a projectile weapon that you can’t see just like an injustice (no pun intended). But at the same time, you know that these are warriors who know the score and know that death is a possibility, so there’s even this subtle sense of pride that they’re going out doing what they do best. I do kind of wish that this sudden realization of how advanced mankind’s weaponry has grown since their last encounter with men would be more of a shock to the Amazons post-battle, but I guess that wouldn’t have kept the story in focus, so it’s probably for the best that it becomes a cliff-note to be ignored, so no brownie points lost.

Honestly, I could probably go on forever talking about everything on Themyscira. But there’s a ton more to talk about and it’s also worth geeking out over.

How about the lady of the hour… or the, two and a half hours? Gadot is phenomenal as Wonder Woman. Despite never having read the comics, it’s pretty clear that if you’re going to make a Wonder Woman movie, she needs to stand for justice, strength, independence, compassion, and probably a myriad of other adjectives and adverbs that I don’t know about. Well, I would say this movie did all of that justice. She understands that this war has taken lives of noncombatants and wants to be a part of ending it. But when she gets up close and personal to the carnage, both outside and inside of the fighting, she’s horrified. She spends half the movie being kept away from the direct conflict and constantly told no. So when she, Trevors, and their ragtag team arrive at the trenches, and Diana is faced with a woman who begs her for help, which would entail storming No-Man’s Land across German machinegun fire into a German-occupied town. Of course, Steve tells her that it’s impossible to cross and that no man can do it. Aside from my mind immediately turning to LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (2003) and realizing that bad guys are defeated by grammatically political incorrectness, Diana says, “Nuh-uh, bitch, I ain’t no man. I’m Wonder Woman. This is what I do.” I… might have paraphrased a bit. In any case, this is the scene that many will be talking about because it’s such an awesome piece of runtime. She deflects bullets with her bracers and stands her ground as an unrelenting barrage of machinegun bullets pepper her shield as the Allied forces charge behind her and they take on the German forces, pushing through and saving the nearby town. It’s the first time we see Wonder Woman in her full garb and it’s about as bad-ass as you can imagine. This piece of superheroism should be remembered big time.

But more than her bad-assery, Diana is still a person who takes time to understand the world that she’s stepped in to. Or, maybe it’s more accurate to say that she hesitantly accepts the way things are. I don’t think it’s quite as well done as it was in THOR (2011), as Thor simply accepts the way things people do what they do, whereas Diana can complain a little bit. Not to the point of annoyance, thankfully. Her motivations are understandable, but there is that impatience that rubs me in the wrong way. But only a little, so I don’t really dock points for that. Still, she plays along, is respectful of customs for the most part, and only challenges the norm when the need is truly understandable.

I’ve only known a couple takes on the character of Steve Trevor. There’s the World War II version from JUSTICE LEAGUE the animated TV show, and there’s Nathan Fillion’s take in the animated movie WONDER WOMAN, which took place in the present day. It’s pretty clear that Trevor’s character is always a cocky and joking kind of guy, but still fiercely committed to his causes and beliefs with an unshakable conviction. If I were to hazard a guess, he’s basically the DC equivalent to Captain America if he were a supporting character. But I have to say, this is probably the best iteration of the character that I’ve seen yet. If there was anything I disliked about the animated film’s version is that he does attempt to get Diana drunk in order to get lucky. I don’t know, every other version seemed to be a gentleman and knew better than to make neanderthal decisions like that. Granted, it was probably unintentional and he was simply too drunk to think clearly, but it’s still kind of a weird moment for the character. Pine’s Steve Trevor is more akin to the animated show’s iteration. He’s a gentleman, funny as hell, charming, and kind of a dork. I mean, it’s a character we’ve seen before and seen Pine play before, but he’s so good at it that it never gets stale. To me, it makes sense that everything he and Diana go through would create this bond that would ultimately lead to a romance. It’s not forced and it feels very organic. They don’t always agree on their respective methods, but they both want to end the war and want the senseless killings of innocents to stop.

The supporting characters are hit and miss. Bremner’s Charlie is the most standout. He’s a drunken sharpshooter who is the comedy relief, but it’s revealed that he suffers from PTSD. And even though this is obviously been done before in just about every war film to exist, Charlie is such a likable kind of fool that when you see that vulnerability in his eyes, Bremner really sells it and you empathize with him. The others get the shaft a little bit. Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui) is the well-meaning flirt and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) is the Native American of the group. Beyond that, they don’t really have a discernible set of personalities that will make them all that memorable. Luckily, they’re not annoying, so you don’t hate seeing them on screen, so I let that go.

The villains are… serviceable. While I really like the design of Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) with her prosthetic left-side jaw, I have to say that they’re something of a bore. Sure, their actions are the driving force of our heroes, the bad guys making all new gases that threaten hundreds of lives, but they themselves don’t leave an impact. Although, there is this one deliciously evil scene where Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and Dr. Maru meet up with some German generals or whatever, and when they disappoint him, he locks them in a room with a single gas mask and gases the entire room. Although, earlier we learned that their newest gas weapon eats through the masks. Dr. Maru exclaims, “That mask won’t help them!” But then Ludendorff says, “They don’t know that.” And then the two laugh maniacally and run away like a couple of kids that played a prank. It’s… bizarrely out of place. Neither character acted like that before this scene, nor do they ever act like that afterward. Once more, I’m letting this slide because the moment barely lasts a minute and… it was kind of funny.

As you’ve probably noticed throughout the review, I’ve mentioned some moments that I’ve let slip and don’t let myself dock any real points from the movie. I bet you think I’m just making excuses to give this movie a perfect score, aren’t ya? Well think again, you damn dirty nay-sayers!

Remorsefully, it’s not a perfect film. My itty bitty gripes are proof enough of that. But I do have some legit problems with the movie that I couldn’t let slide. They’re smaller problems, but still distracting enough to warrant a few eye-twitches. Some will remember in the trailer, there’s a scene with Diana wearing a blue dress in a gala with her sword sheathed in her back, and that bit was criticized for, “Does no one see that sword?!” Well, sadly, that scene is actually even stupider even with context. I suppose you could have made the very, very, very thin argument that she could have said that it was just a decorative piece in the shape of a sword’s hilt for fashion purposes, but… no, that thing sticks out like a sore thumb and you’re left wondering why this isn’t causing a panic. In fact, I’m pretty sure you can see another woman eyeing Diana’s dress from the back and for all intents and purposes should have seen the sword hilt. But no. They just… don’t.

***SPOILERS***

***

***

Also, I’m pretty sure I missed what the hell those pills that Ludendorff took were for. He takes these pills that make the inside of his skin glow silver, but I’m not sure if they really did anything. Were they supposed to make him immune to the gases they were creating? If so, why did he need to leave the room full of German generals that he killed? Were they supposed to give him super strength? It barely matters in the end because when Diana meets up with him, he’s killed off pretty quickly and in an anti-climactic way. So… whatever those pills did either didn’t work, didn’t work very well, or didn’t affect anything in the long run.

But by far the ultimate sin of the movie is this. We learn that Ludendorff wasn’t Ares the whole time like Diana thought, but in a twist, we learn that Ares was actually Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis) of the Imperial War Cabinet. They have an epic fight, as all climaxes need ’em in superhero movies, but what made me nearly scream at the screen was when we learn that the “God-killer” sword that Diana’s been wielding this entire time wasn’t actually the God-killer. Turns out, Diana’s heritage as a demi-god was kept from her and she’s the God-killer. Wanna know how we learn that? Because Ares doubles as the God of Dumb-asses because he tells her right her face that she’s the only one that can kill him! This is the same damn problem that I had with THE CONJURING 2 (2016). What kind of bad-guy with a weakness just tells the heroes how to kill them?! I said before in that review, so I’ll it here. A vampire isn’t going to tell you to open the blinds on a bright and sunny afternoon, a werewolf isn’t going to hand you a loaded shotgun with silver shells, the Wicked Witch isn’t going to beg for a yacht party in the middle of the ocean, and zombies won’t be wearing bulls-eyes on their foreheads while giving you advice on aiming accurately. So why is this turning into a trend?! You know if he didn’t open his gob, he would have won that fight. Or more likely and impressively, Diana would have fought him to a stalemate and he would have fled, while still keeping her demi-god status a mystery and we could have kept Ares on as a sort of nemesis for Diana in future solo films. But nope, like a dumb-shit he is, he tells her his weakness and she exploits it and kills him.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

Overall, this movie is definitely a must-see for everybody. Men, women, boys, and girls. Especially girls because not only is this the first female-lead superhero film, but it’s done such great justice for the character and I feel like there’s something that everyone can cheer for. It’s got a little bit of everything. Comedy, drama, romance, war, it’s a really good film. Sure, it could have benefited from a bit of tweaking in the script, but what few problems I have with the movie, both small and big, don’t hold it back any more than a German sniper holding back Wonder Woman from toppling a roof on him. I may have only seen it once so far, but I plan on seeing it again. Highly recommended at your biggest theater with your loudest screens, wherever it may be and I can’t wait to own this on Blu-Ray when the time comes.

My honest rating for WONDER WOMAN: a strong 4/5

UPDATE (MORE SPOILERS): I am changing the rating to a 5/5. I have officially seen the movie three times in theaters now and there’s one thing that tipped this over for me. When Diana and Steve are in the boat, sailing away from Themyscira, they have this bit where they’re talking about marriage. Steve’s line goes something like, “…to love, honor, and cherish ’till death do you part.” It took me three viewings to see the immense weight his final scene really has. After he sacrifices himself, Diana eventually flashes back to the words that Steve said during her ears-ringing moment. His lines go, “I can save the day, but you can save the world! I love you!” I feel like what makes this moment so fantastic is because even though it’s not a wedding happening, he’s breaking this preconception of marriage. Here’s what I mean. What is he doing right at that moment? He’s loving, honoring, and cherishing her, and death parts them. He even goes so far as to give her his watch, a band that wraps around an appendage… kind of like a… okay, I know I’m grasping at straws here to make this scene more powerful, but that’s honestly what I’m taking away from that whole thing and it’s so well-subtly backed that I can’t help but fall in love with this movie because of it.

wdwmn-1sht-main-dom-1-1494520285247_1280w

SLEIGHT review

Boy howdy is this movie getting some buzz. I mean, I don’t know the last low-budget indie film that was getting this raved about by critics, already claiming it to be the best superhero featuring a black hero. Jeez, guys. And yet, look at the early ratings from other sources. IMDb has it at a 5.4/10 (as of 4/26/2017), which is bad, and RottenTomatoes has it at a 58% (as of 4/26/2017), also not a good rating. So… who am I supposed to believe here?

The story looks like it’s about this street kid who performs magic tricks to earn a little money to get by and take of his little sister. But he gets involved with a bad crowd, it turns violent and deadly, and now he wants out. Turns out, his magic tricks may be super powers and he starts fighting back against those that threaten him. Were it not for the superhero angle, I’d swear this was another “from the ‘hood” story, so I personally am not super hyped for this.

Here’s the on screen talent. Starring, we have Jacob Latimore, known for COLLATERAL BEAUTY (2016), THE MAZE RUNNER (2014), and RIDE ALONG (2014). In support, we have Seychelle Gabriel (THE LAST AIRBENDER [2010] and TV shows SLEEPY HOLLOW and THE LEGEND OF KORRA), Dulé Hill (THE GUARDIAN [2006], and TV shows DOUBT and PSYCH), and Storm Reid (12 YEARS A SLAVE [2013] and TV shows CHICAGO P.D. and NCIS: LOS ANGELES).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing and co-writing is J.D. Dillard, known for short and unknown films. Dillard’s partner-in-pen is Alex Theurer, known for two episodes of INTERVENTION and short films. Composing the score is Charles Scott IV, making his feature-film debut. Congrats, sir. Finally, the cinematographer is Ed Wu, known for short films.

Overall, I can’t get behind the critics on this one and say that I’m hyped. I’m really not. I’ve one too many “from the ‘hood” stories that it just looks boring with a hint of pretentious. But maybe I’m wrong. I do love my superhero movies after all, so maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

This is my honest opinion of: SLEIGHT

(SUMMARY)

Bo (Jacob Latimore) is a nice kid. His parents passed away, but he’s doing what he can to take care of his little sister, Tina (Storm Reid). One way he makes money is through performing magic tricks on the streets. But unfortunately, he also does so by drug dealing for the local head honcho, Angelo (Dulé Hill). But as Angelo’s demands get Bo into more danger and asks him to do more harmful things, Bo is desperate to get out. After stealing drugs from Angelo, and Angelo finding out, Bo has to sell the drugs with interest: money Bo knows is a tall order. As the situation escalates, Bo needs to start making some hard decisions and possibly fight back.

(REVIEW)

Eh. It’s really not that special.

As previously mentioned, I’m not much of a fan of these types of stories. I could forgive it if the characters were at least interesting, but that’s not really what we have here. Don’t get me wrong, Latimore isn’t a bad actor here, but his character, Bo, is pretty dumb. First off, Bo didn’t sign up to hurt anyone. All he really does is sell drugs. He doesn’t carry a gun or any weapon on him. So why doesn’t he ever object to Angelo when he’s told to go on a stick-up? I’ll complain about Angelo in a minute, but I’m pretty sure that compared to Angelo’s other henchmen, who are brawny and psychotic, a nothing teenage kid doesn’t seem very imposing, nor would it be taken very seriously by his enemies. And a lot of the main conflict with the film is his fault when he steals drugs from Angelo. The man never gave me the impression that he doesn’t know how to look after his own shit, so why would Bo take that kind of risk? Desperation, I know, but that’s the story with every good-natured street kid who wants out of his shady employment, so he’s nothing new. So when things escalate and people he loves get threatened, I’m sitting here going, “Well yeah, you stupid shit, what did you think was going to happen?”

I promised complaints about Angelo, so let’s get to those. Despite that he’s a dude you clearly don’t want to screw with, I have a hard time believing that being the top drug hound in his neighborhood that he can’t afford more hired guns in his crew. I mean, from my memory, he’s got only two guys. You’d think he’d have more, or have the good sense to not bring in a kid with no experience in handling a gun, or really himself in a tight situation like that. It just seems silly and desperate, which strips away some of his imposing factor. He’s no Jack Nicholson from THE DEPARTED (2006), but he is saved by the fact that he is intimidating. I just won’t understand his need to arm a teenager on his missions.

None of the other characters fare much better. Holly (Seychelle Gabriel) is your generic romantic interest that supports him and Tina is the cute little girl who knows nothing of Bo’s activities. Again, she’s a goal for our hero, not a person with a clear-defined character.

How about the superhero elements? They seem a little out of place, actually. It’s entirely possible that this is one of those “suspense of disbelief” situations, but I couldn’t buy into any of what Bo was able to do. Some explanation. I had it wrong in my initial impressions from the trailer. I assumed that he did have superpowers, but used them to do magic tricks. I was very wrong. What he did was essentially put wires and a supercharged electromagnet in his arm, which allowed him to do the more impressive tricks, like moving chairs at a distance and making a metallic ring float without strings. We later discover that he was something of a genius in school, but due to his parents’ death, he had to drop out to take care of his sister. I don’t know about you, but I feel like the way they explain all this is both forced and a little too out there as far as execution of his “powers”.

I don’t think there’s much else to talk about. The movie, as a whole, isn’t wholly original, and there isn’t really a new spin on it that will stand the test of time. The actors are passable, even though their characters are bland or stupid, and the superhero toting is a little too out there for my taste to make sense, even in this established world. It’s not awful, but it’s not very good. I don’t recommend seeing it in theaters, or as a rental, but it’s not the worst investment of your time if you really want to see it.

My honest rating for SLEIGHT: a weak 3/5

Sleight-new-poster

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (transfer) review

These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015. Fun fact, this was my very first review, so… yeah, it sucks, but hey, I learned.

Honestly, I find it really hard to convey a proper feeling toward this movie. There’s so much that is better than the first film, and yet there is so much that is done worse, or is at least off-putting. Don’t get me wrong, ULTRON is by no means a bad movie, it’s very much worth the price of admission. I just feel like there’s so many head-scratching moments that the story feels disjointed.

Below is basically the summed up story of ULTRON. If you don’t want to know the story then skip the paragraph and head right into the review.

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR [2016], THE JUDGE [2014], IRON MAN [2008], and upcoming films SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING [2017] and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]), Chris Evans (GIFTED [2017], CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? [2011], and the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR), James Spader (THE HOMESMAN [2014], LINCOLN [2012], and TV show THE BLACKLIST), Elizabeth Olsen (I SAW THE LIGHT [2016], GODZILLA [2014], MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE [2011], and the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR), Paul Bettany (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, PRIEST [2011], LEGION [2010], and the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR), and so many more.

Written and directed by: Joss Whedon (MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING [2012], THE AVENGERS [2012], SERENITY [2005], and the upcoming BATGIRL, due out… who knows when). Composed by: Danny Elfman (FIFTY SHADES DARKER [2017], THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN [2016], and OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL [2013]) and Brian Tyler (THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS [2017], NOW YOU SEE ME 2 [2016], RAMBO [2008], and the upcoming THE MUMMY [2017]). Cinematography by: Ben Davis (DOCTOR STRANGE [2016], GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY [2014], SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS [2012], and the upcoming live-action remake, Disney’s DUMBO, due out… who knows when).

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

STORY (SUMMARY): The movie opens to the Avengers raiding a HYDRA base for Loki’s scepter. The Avengers are kicking ass, as they should be, and HYDRA sends out “the enhanced” (they aren’t mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) Pietro “Quicksilver” and Wanda “Scarlett Witch” Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen respectively) to slow down the Avengers. Kinda works, no one dies, but Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) infiltrates the base and gets some seriously ****** up shit happen in his head, compliments of Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlett Witch. Tony starts hallucinating that the Avengers are dead and the Chitauri successfully invade Earth and it’s all his fault. Fearful of this outcome, he and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) try to create an artificial intelligent being, the Ultron program, in an effort to render the Avengers needless and the world protected by a bunch of Iron Men. The program isn’t successful at first and they join the going-away party for Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Funny this and funny that, Ultron (voiced by James Spader) eventually comes alive. JARVIS (voiced by Paul Bettany) tries to reason with Ultron, but baby-bot decides to go all homicidal and “kill” JARVIS. Ultron takes possession of the most messed up Iron Man suit and reveals himself to the Avengers and escapes. Ultron recruits Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch to join him in creating a better world without the Avengers. However, he wants to make himself stronger by creating a new body made with the same material as Captain America’s shield, vibranium, the toughest metal on Earth. The Avengers come to the same conclusion and meet up with Ultron and his gang and a fight ensues. Again, the Avengers are beaten, bad guys escape, but not before leaving Stark a fun going-away gift: Scarlett Witch ******* with the Hulk’s mind and unleashing him on a city full of civilians. Everyone else is out of commission, trying to snap out of Wanda’s mind-*******, leaving Tony to break out the incredibly awesome Hulkbuster and the two duke it out in a glorious 5-10 minutes, making this fight scene one of the most memorable in all of Marvel history. Anyway, heroes recover and find themselves in Hawkeye’s (Jeremy Renner) secret home in the middle of nowhere. The Avengers infight for a bit, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) makes an appearance to raise the spirits of the beaten heroes and the Avengers go for broke. Meanwhile, Ultron is almost done creating his new body and the Avengers come around to stop him. They steal the mostly complete body, the Avengers convince Wanda and Pietro to switch sides. However, Tony and Bruce want to use Ultron’s would-be-new body for their own purposes, but in a different fashion. This causes a moment of disagreement with the others, a little fighting, and the body wakes up. Turns out, JARVIS wasn’t completely killed by Ultron, and inhabits the body, creating a new character, the Vision (Paul Bettany). He rallies the Avengers and they get ready for one final assault against Ultron, who has amassed an enormous Ultron-army and pretty much the rest of the film is ass-kicking after ass-kicking. Ultron is destroyed, a character dies, and everyone goes their separate ways, and a new team of Avengers is implied, consisting of Wanda, Vision, War Machine (Don Cheadle), and Falcon (Anthony Mackie). The end.

REVIEW: I reiterate, ULTRON is not a bad movie by any stretch of the word. It’s entertaining, action-packed, funny as hell, and incredible performances on all fronts.

What I loved. The characters are well-represented once more. Downey Jr’s comic timing is pitch perfect as always, Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers is honest and lovably naive, Hemsworth is charming and adorable, Ruffalo is dorky, Scarlett Johannson’s Black Widow is kick ass, Renner is honest and wise, just as you might expect. The real question I had as far as performances go, how was Taylor-Johnson and Olsen as Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch? Well, despite how well Taylor-Johnson did with the material given to him, he was sadly a relative throw-away character; wasn’t overly crucial to the story, despite the purpose he serves later on. Olsen’s character was given a bit more development, hence making her a more interesting character, but her character was more or less under-utilized. Yes, because of Wanda, the events of ULTRON basically get kicked in. But that means she’s more of a plot-device, rather than a full-fledged character. A shame, given that Olsen is terrific and here’s hoping that the inevitable CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR brings more character to her (not likely if you know the story of CIVIL WAR from the comics). James Spader was, as expected, wonderful in his role. However, there’s two things about Ultron that I didn’t like. The first was that the trailer made Ultron out to be this sadistic, self-aware machine that twists everything good and uplifting about the world (“no strings on me” an implication of freedom), and makes it horrifying. So many people thought ULTRON would be a dark and gritty movie, but Ultron ended up being almost a carbon copy of Loki. He was funny. I didn’t agree with this choice in character. In every incarnation that I’ve seen Ultron in, he’s always been a self-aware machine with a cold attitude toward the Avengers and all life in general. Not a sarcastic, wise-cracker. Plus, his motives and methods are painfully one-dimensional: save the world by destroying it. Seriously? Another villian who wants to destroy everything? Come on, Whedon, you’re more imaginative than that! How much better would it be if Ultron didn’t want to destroy the world because it wouldn’t accomplish anything? Don’t lie to us, dude, destroying something isn’t saving it unless you have something DEEP to say to us that challenges the audience, which he didn’t do. On the flip side, it wouldn’t be better if his motives were to RULE the world either. Why would Ultron want responsibility? Ultron would have been a more interesting character if he kept his focus on the Avengers. What if he didn’t even want to destroy them, but instead turn the world against them by showing that the Avengers create just as much destruction as an invading alien army, making THEM out to be the bad guys? Of course, that’s just me. Honestly, I would have been much happier with the character if he just wasn’t funny.

I don’t have all the issues in the world with the story, but it all kind of swings back to the character Ultron himself. His idea for world peace is destroying it. Yay, good for you, bro. Way to be. But, as seems to be a trend lately in movies for me, there’s that one moment, or line, or scene that just ******* ruins everything. When the Avengers fight Ultron, Quicksilver, and Scarlett Witch, they have a tussle of words before they fight. Thor says something like, “if you truly believe in peace, then let us keep it.” Then Ultron says, “You’re confusing ‘peace’ with quiet.” Uh… dude, Ultron, I am a 26-year-old server working in a movie theater as a server. I never completed college and graduated high school by the skin of my teeth, so why am I the one that has to point out that by destroying the world YOU’D BE MAKING IT PRETTY DAMN QUIET AROUND HERE!!! Also, not a fan of the whole Black Widow-Hulk romance bits. I feel like it’s just there to throw in a pointless love-story to shift gears every once in awhile without actually serving a purpose to the overall story of ULTRON. I know the Avengers in the comics do have romances in their stories, but these movies are short and need to tell a story. A series of comics may have the time to spark a relationship and spend a few issues developing that, but these movies are another story. They have to depart from each other, tell their own stories, two hour movies like these just shouldn’t have the time to go into pointless romances.

But as many things that annoy me regarding Ultron, there’s just too much good to bring the film down completely. In fact, it holds it up quite nicely. The Hulk vs. Hulkbuster scene, amazing, the final fight against Ultron, so great because there’s such an emphasis on the Avengers actually running around saving people’s lives instead of going straight for the bad guy. Hawkeye shines as a quasi-mentor to Scarlett Witch and she becomes a bad-ass in her own right, the banter between characters, it all does it’s job well like you wouldn’t believe. Also, I’m more than ecstatic about Paul Bettany as Vision. He’s never seemed to have a long career of good movies under his belt (MORTDECAI, LEGION, TRANSCENDENCE) despite how wonderful an actor he himself is. I really hope the Marvel movies give him a solid character arc so we can really dive into Vision’s mind and showcase Bettany’s acting. Keep that ball rolling, guys.

Overall, this film is worth it. Oh yeah, is it worth it. But I can’t say that I love it. I really like it, compared to THE AVENGERS (2012) which I LOVED. If you’re a fan of Marvel, **** yeah, go see it.

A strong: 4/5

4529342-avengers__age_of_ultron_poster__fm__by_krallbaki-d8gdz0n

LOGAN review

Ahh, good ole X-Men. Time for me to gush.

For those of you that don’t know, I am not a comic book reader. I’ve only read so many in my life. It was just something I never really got into. However, I am a superhero fan, so I watch the movies religiously. The way that I’ve understood the relationship between the comic nerds and the movies is that they don’t generally like them. The characters aren’t faithful in either appearance, personality, or backstory. But for those who don’t read the comics, like myself, generally like the movies. They’re awesome, bad-ass, and who doesn’t love Hugh Jackman as Wolverine?

But as there’s far too many X-Men films to go through, let’s just talk about what this movie essentially is: a stand-alone Wolverine film. These are regarded as the worst of the X-Men films, and for good reason. For those of you that don’t know, the first was X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009). As far as the comic goes to my knowledge, Marvel Comics kept Wolverine’s origins in secret for decades. When the comic came out that revealed it, it was celebrated and beloved. However, when the movie came out, it was soaked in horrible writing, and a ton of stupidity. How does that happen? It’s Wolverine! The fan favorite of each other the films! I mean, Jackman’s fine for what he has to do, but there are horrible missed opportunities and terrible choices.

The second was THE WOLVERINE (2013). In my opinion this the second worst X-Men film, or tied with how bad ORIGINS was. At the very least, I remember ORIGINS was memorable… er, for all the wrong reasons, but memorable. It was horribly written, but the story made sense. It was a stupid story and it wasn’t very faithful to the comic counterparts, but it made sense for what it was doing. THE WOLVERINE failed in it’s very ideas. Taking away Wolverine’s healing powers should have provided the story’s core tension, but it never did. He got shot, he would still walk and be okay. So… taking his powers carried zero weight, especially if he was just going to get them back.

Well, now we have our supposed final outing for Jackman as the titular character. I say… despite history, this might be a pretty damn good movie. There is certainly some intense passion behind the project. Jackman took a pay-cut so the film could be rated R, for God’s sake! Taking inspiration from the popular comic book Old Man Logan, it looks like the X-Men are no more for whatever reason, and Logan’s watching after Professor X. They come across a young girl who’s escaped from some bad dudes who want her back and Logan takes her under his wing, likely to control her rage and anger. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for this.

http://www.slashfilm.com/hugh-jackman-logan-pay-cut/

Well let’s take a look at the talent on screen. Naturally, Jackman (EDDIE THE EAGLE [2016], THE PRESTIGE [2006], and seventeen years of X-Men films) reprises his role as Wolverine one last time. Er… supposedly. He says he’s open to more, so we’ll see what happens.

http://movieweb.com/hugh-jackman-more-wolverine-movies-deadpool-crossover/

In any case, it’s wonderful to see him back and I’m hoping to see the same ferocity that he’s always brought. Jackman is probably one of the most popular actors in Hollywood, and never mind his unbelievable talent, he’s unbelievably kind. What an awesome combo in a celebrity as high profile as he is! If this truly is his last outing as the character, he will be sorely missed, but here’s to a continued successful career! Sharing the spotlight for excitement is Dafne Keen (TV show THE REFUGEES) as Laura Kinney, a.k.a., X-23. For those of you that don’t know, in the comics, X-23 is basically a teen female clone of Wolverine, originally designed to fight against Wolverine himself. But she is eventually adopted as a daughter figure and the two share a unique relationship, and she eventually replaces Logan as the new Wolverine. Her popularity seems to be pretty checkered, from my experiences. Some, possibly the comic fans, don’t always like her. But I rather enjoyed her introduction in the TV cartoon X-MEN: EVOLUTION, and was one of my favorite characters in the video game MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3. I enjoy what she represents and the idea of who she graduates to become. As for Keen, admittedly, I imagined the character a little older. But she does seem to have a rage and aggression that mirrors Jackman’s, so I’m open to her performance, as there’s a strong possibility that she will be in future X-Men films, specifically the planned “X-Force.” Finally, we have Patrick Stewart (GREEN ROOM [2016], and TV shows STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and AMERICAN DAD!, and will be featured in the upcoming animated film, THE EMOJI MOVIE [2017]), reprising his role as elder Charles Xavier. What a surprise, if you ask me. He’s largely stayed out of the solo flicks, outside his uncredited appearance in THE WOLVERINE. And… foul-mouthed? Professor, language! What would Captain America say, you hooligan?! All kidding aside, I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s going on in this.

Now for behind the scenes. Returning as director and co-writing is James Mangold, known for THE WOLVERINE, 3:10 TO YUMA (2007), and WALK THE LINE (2005). I actually don’t have a problem with Mangold on the whole. As long as he has a hand in writing the movies he’s directing, like WALK THE LINE and GIRL, INTERRUPTED (1999), the better his films seem to be. YUMA was certainly a great film despite not having a hand in the writing, but THE WOLVERINE wasn’t written by him. So I imagine that he wasn’t too happy with the final product, or there were many things he’d like to have changed. He clearly knows how to direct, and since he’s co-writing this movie, I think it’s going to hold up much better than the previous films. Co-writing alongside Mangold are Michael Green and Scott Frank. Green is known for GREEN LANTERN (2011), writing in the 87th Academy Awards, and a few episodes of HEROES, and is slated to write the upcoming BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017). Frank is known for A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (2014), THE WOLVERINE, and MINORITY REPORT (2002). Composing the music is Marco Beltrami, known for THE SHALLOWS (2016), THE WOLVERINE, and UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION (2006). Finally, the cinematographer is John Mathieson, known for THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015), X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011), and K-PAX (2001).

Overall, this is pretty big and I hope to everything that’s holy and sacred that it’s a good movie. I’ll even kind of accept it if it’s just the best solo Wolverine flick… but I want that to say something! We’ve got some great talent behind this. Looking forward to it, can’t wait.

This is my honest opinion of: LOGAN

(SUMMARY)

The year is 2029. Logan (Hugh Jackman), once known as “Wolverine” in his X-Men years, is no longer with the X-Men, whom have been disbanded for a long time. In fact, mutants in general are on verge of extinction. Logan spends his time as a limo driver, he’s aged, so his healing isn’t what it used to be, drinks heavily, and he’s trying to save money for a boat. What for? He’s still looking after Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose mental health has declined atrociously, occasionally slipping into madness. When his condition worsens, he sends out a psychic shockwave that hurts and can potentially kill anyone in their vicinity. Hence the boat, attempting to live out their remaining years far away from everyone and everything. But this plan comes crashing down when he meets Gabriela Lopez (Elizabeth Rodriguez), a scientist desperate for help from Logan to take her and her mute daughter Laura (Dafne Keen) away somewhere, but turns her away. Then he’s approached by an agent, named Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), for a shady organization called the Transigen Project, who is looking for the two ladies. Refusing to help again, he finds himself face to face with Gabriela and Laura and agrees to take them away for a lot of money. Unfortunately, Pierce and his team of Reavers, mechanically enhanced human mercenaries, find Gabriela and kill her, but Logan manages to protect Laura, revealed to be a mutant to have an adamantium skeleton with claws and a healing factor. Who joins them, journeying to their prescribed destination. Secrets are learned, danger is met, and Logan wrestles with where his life has taken him, what it’s doing to him, and who exactly Laura is to him.

(REVIEW)

DISCLAIMER: This superhero movie is very rated-R. There is nudity, there is violence up the wazoo, and there is swearing. So, parents, do not take your kids to see this movie if you do not want them to be exposed to this stuff.

OH!!! OH SHIT!!! OH FUCK!!! I couldn’t tell you if I was reacting to all the awesome brutal violence or nerdgasming. I am also not ruling out that it is entirely possible I was doing both. Either way, YEEEEEAAAAAH!!! If you were waiting for a hardcore R-rated Wolverine movie, then bitches, you got your wish and it is glorious.

Let’s talk about the very selling point of this movie: the reasons for this adults-only rating. We’re not talking about a little extra blood here. In the opening sequence alone, an arms gets sliced off. I’m pretty sure there’s more than a few stabs that expose guts and rib-cages. I think a leg was sliced off too, but I might have missed that. Either way, this movie lets you know what to expect in the first five minutes and when the action kicks in, it’s pretty consistent. I mentioned that there’s nudity. Eh, it’s about one or two seconds worth of a tittie flash from a drunken prom girl or whatever, and that’s it. Just… squeezing a ceremonial boob into a movie that for all intents and purposes could have been left out. But who gives a shit? That’s not what made or broke the movie. It’s just there. But there is a lot of swearing. Nothing worse than “fuck” and its variances, but yeah, it’s there in full view pretty shamelessly.

Let’s talk about Jackman. Man, oh man, he brings his A+ game because a solid A is for pussies. He does everything right. Logan’s constant drinking from his traumatic experiences between DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and in the present day. His hostility toward everyone and everything. His paternal instincts slowly kicking in. His deep and undying loyalty to Xavier. It’s all perfectly executed in Jackman’s performance. You will cheer, you will cry, you will smile, everything you’d expect. And I love this depiction of Wolverine. Some grey in his beard, a single claw that won’t quite come out all the way that he tries to pull out, coughing up blood, and limping for much of the film. It’s so heartbreaking to watch. For seventeen damn years, Wolverine has been the reason for any fan of the films to see. His savagery, his brutality, but his capacity for caring, and to keep on walking like a mother fucking boss when some foolish dick-slice shoots him with gun. He’s the definition of bad-ass. So there’s this overwhelming sensation of sadness to see him whittled down so horribly. Even when he’s full on Wolvie and going ape-shit on some poor victim, he doesn’t lose his fighting spirit, but you can tell that each slash is taking its tole on him. This may be one of the best Wolverine performances we will ever see out of the character.

How about Stewart’s reprisal of Xavier? Almost the exact same thing can be said. A character that many fans of the films come to associate with wisdom, parental guidance, unabashed sense of helping one another only to end up with a mental degradation that is extremely dangerous. This is some pretty interesting stuff here, especially in relation to Wolverine. Xavier’s become senile and he’s not as in control of his powers as he used to be. While we’re never given details, we can assume that he’s accidentally hurt and possibly killed some X-Men when his condition started. The fact that he doesn’t seem to remember any of it is also pretty heartbreaking. He’s locked away in the middle of nowhere and has to take pills to keep himself from slipping too far and causing more harm. However, there is a question mark that’s looming over my head. When we’re first introduced to Xavier in this movie, he’s completely mad. He’s in a wheelchair, raving about stuff that’s not there, barely acknowledging Logan as he enters. But as soon as this… freak out is over, we never see that psychotic breakdown – pun… kind of intended – ever again. I mean, we get the psychic death-shockwave a couple times, but nothing like him just losing all sense of reality. But I hesitate to call this a legit problem, as it doesn’t take up too much time and the rest of this two hour flick forgives this small hiccup pretty quickly.

But now for arguably my favorite part of the movie, even moreso than Jackman, Keen as Laura, aka, “X-23.” Laura is as every bit as savage as Wolverine. She slashes faces off like a pro, foot-stabs bitches in the face, a war-cry that sent shivers down my spine, a worthy successor to Wolverine in every way. But more than that, she barely says a word in the movie. Most of her acting is strictly through her expressions and it works great. Whether this is the work of great direction from Mangold or natural talent from Keen, or both, makes Laura debatably one of the best written characters in all of the X-Men movies, period. How faithful she is to her comic counterpart, I’m sure I don’t know, but I’ve not always cared about how faithful a character is, so long as the character is well-written enough for me to get behind. While we’re clearly shown a little girl who was forced to grow up at the speed that her adult scientists forced her to, we’re never detached from what Laura is: a little girl. She wears pink sunglasses, she eats Pringles, she laughs and knows to have fun. It’s a constant game of tug-of-war between realizing that she is so young, but she’s still this force to be reckoned with. She’s very endearing and awesome all rolled into one. Mangold wants to make an X-23 solo movie in the not-so-distant future, and I am so down for that.

https://moviepilot.com/p/x-23-solo-movie-mangold/4082161

How about the story? Eh, when you get right down to it, it’s not very… out-of-the-box. Logan has to get Laura from point A to point B before the bad guys get her. So there’s sadly not too many surprises in that regard. But this is a very character-driven movie, so I don’t mind this too much.

I think my one real issue is their use of villains. They’re either shoe-horned in, comically over-the-top, or… pointless. So villain number one is Pierce, the leader of the Reavers. This guy loves mugging to the camera and for a movie so concerned about keeping itself grounded, this is the one distractingly lame character who chews the scenery. Always smiling and making passive-aggressive threats that are so heavy-handed. He reminds me more of a James Bond high school bully than a legit threat. I was never intimidated by Pierce and that’s a problem if his role is going to be so inclusive.

Villain two is Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant). He’s the one that’s shoe-horned in. Literally in the final ten minutes of the movie and his forced backstory is nothing to write home about. I could almost imagine his character completely cut from the movie and it’d work just fine.

***SPOILERS***

***

***

I could almost forgive all of that were it not for the “twist” villain: X-24, a genetic copy of Wolverine. This… just seems so silly. I won’t truly understand why this organization cares so much about making a duplicate of Logan. Granted, he’s a savage fighter with the ability to heal rapidly, but… yeah, the first X-Men movie’s Xavier said it best, “There are more powerful mutants out. Why is this one so special?” Nightcrawler can teleport. Shadow Cat can walk through walls. Magneto can bend metal and summon force fields. Hell, the Juggernaut is virtually unstoppable. I guess in earlier drafts of the script, Sabretooth was slated for an appearance. Fitting, considering it’d be the last outing for Wolverine. But instead, they opt for a Wolverine clone. I don’t know, I think I know what they were trying to get across here; more heartbreaking to see aged-Wolverine fighting a younger, primed version of himself than an equally aged Sabretooth. But I don’t know, that would have still been awesome and may have flowed more organically to the story than a clone. Again, for a movie so concerned about grounding itself in a more realistic setting, this seemed pretty silly.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

One would think that the very themes the movie is trying to tackle would provide the necessary conflict alone. Then again, an X-Men movie, a solo Wolverine movie no less, would be pretty pointless if he isn’t racking up a body count, so perhaps it’s simply that the villains aren’t as intimidating as the internal struggles Logan is faced with. But really, the more I think about it, the more minor my gripes are considering that there needs to be a villain for these characters to slice up.

In retrospect, this is truly the end of an era. Kind of like the ending to LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (2003). Whatever problems you might have with the ending, they can easily be forgiven. I choose to be very forgiving toward the flaws because Jackman’s final movie goes out with a huge bang and it really is a remarkable film. An end to a superhero character that defined “bad-ass” in the 2000’s, a farewell to the actor playing the role who brought such intensity and passion to it, and introducing an exciting new world and characters of the X-Men to explore. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am looking forward to seeing more of both X-23 and Keen in general.

Folks, I can’t recommend this movie enough. It’s a great send-off and it’s a great movie in general, definitely making up for the other failed solo films. We all wish Jackman well in his future projects, which I’m sure we’re all going to support. So stop what you’re doing and make time to see this. If you’ve been a fan of Jackman as Wolverine, of the X-Men, of superhero films in general, then this isn’t one to be missed. I saw it only once in theatres, but you bet your sweet bippy I plan to see it again and buy it on Blu-ray when it comes out. It’s worth it.

My honest rating for LOGAN: 5/5

loganimaxposter

DOCTOR STRANGE review

Marvel. Once upon a time, it was just a comic book company that gave the most memorable superheroes to grace the memories of multiple generations of fans. Well, it was inevitable that their famous characters would make it to the big screen and it’s been a hell of a roller coaster especially in the past ten years with the Avengers-related films, produced specifically by Marvel Studios, as opposed to Sony or 20th Century Fox.

It seems like only yesterday that the prospect of the original Avengers was too good to be true, but fast forward to today, we’re two movies in and a slew of other superhero films in between. Some of them never having been on the big screen before, like Thor, or Ant-Man. Well guess what? We have the latest pilot to a hero, Doctor Strange.

Once again, for those of you that don’t know, I’m not much of a comic book reader. I see these movies and might look them up on Marvel’s Wiki to get some idea of the character’s history and or future. So, I know next to nothing about this character, apart from the awesome animated film DOCTOR STRANGE (2007), which I imagine will be very similar to this film. Kind of already does minus the INCEPTION (2010) look to it, which I don’t think is a bad thing. In fact, there’s a lot of things going for it.

First off, the cast is incredible. Benedict Cumberbatch (ZOOLANDER 2 [2016], THE INTIMIDATION GAME [2015], and TV show SHERLOCK) as the title character looks fantastic and will most likely be great, as he’s always great… even if the movie itself is not. I’m looking at you, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS [2013] and definitely at you, ZOOLANDER 2. Anyway, looking forward to his performance. Tilda Swinton (HAIL! CAESAR [2016], THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL [2014], and CONSTANTINE [2005]), an acting wildcard, always known for her quirky and offbeat performances, but always leaving a fun impact on critics and audiences alike. A true chameleon in the performing arts and this looks to be no exception. But anyone else getting a “white chick Morpheus” vibe from her? Anywho… we also have co-stars Mads Mikkelsen (THE THREE MUSKETEERS [2011], 007’s CASINO ROYALE [2006], and TV show HANNIBAL), Chiwetel Ejiofor (TRIPLE 9 [2016], THE MARTIAN [2015], and 12 YEARS A SLAVE [2013]), Benedict Wong (THE MARTIAN, PROMETHEUS [2012], and TV show MARCO POLO), and Rachel McAdams (SPOTLIGHT [2015], THE VOW [2012], and THE NOTEBOOK [2004]).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing and co-writing is Scott Derrickson (DELIVER US FROM EVIL [2014], SINISTER [2012], and THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL [2005]), which makes me a little twitchy. He’s primarily known for horror films, and one horribly panned remake of a classic sci-fi film. A superhero movie seems a bit out of his league. Even the stuff he’s only written don’t seem to be anything special or worthwhile, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough. But if Derrickson as the director made me nervous, take a gander at what makes me downright frightened: three writers. Derrickson’s partners-in-pen are Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill. Spaihts is a newcomer with only two films under his belt, the critically panned THE DARKEST HOUR [2011], and the critically controversial PROMETHEUS [2012]. But he’s slated for a ton of projects in the near future, including the amazing-looking PASSENGERS (2016), THE MUMMY (2017), PACIFIC RIM: MAELSTROM (2017), and was announced to write VAN HELSING, due out… sometime in the future. Cargill is also pretty new, having only done the Sinister films with Derrickson. If I had to deduce anything, Derrickson and Cargill know each other and at least make the movies they want to see, but adding Spaihts could make the writing go either way and seriously make it choppy. Composing the music is the ever popular Michael Giacchino, known for ZOOTOPIA [2016], INSIDE OUT [2015], and a whole lot of J.J. Abrams’ projects. He’s also slated for ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY due out later this year, WAR OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017), and THE INCREDIBLES 2 (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Ben Davis, a veteran of Marvel (AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON [2015] and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY [2014]), and fantasy films (WRATH OF THE TITANS [2012] and STARDUST [2007]), so we can definitely expect this movie to look gorgeous, huge, and all around epic.

All in all, I’m super hyped for this, and early ratings only have me even more excited. IMDb has it at a 8.0/10, which is fantastic and RottenTomatoes has it at a 91% (both as of 11/2/2016), so this looks like a big winner. This is my honest opinion of DOCTOR STRANGE.

(SUMMARY)

Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant neurosurgeon. Cocky, arrogant, and self-centered, yet harmless enough. But after getting invited to a special engagement, he gets into a horrible car accident. He survives, but his hands are horrible damaged to the point where he will most likely never be able to perform surgery ever again. But Strange can’t accept that and is willing to try any surgery, no matter how expensive or experimental, whatever gets him back on track. But everything proves fruitless until he hears about a case about a guy who was paralyzed and one day was walking again. Speaking with the man, Strange is directed to a place called the Kamar-Taj, in the Himalayas, where the man was taught to walk again. Strange spends the last of his money and makes his way there and eventually discovers Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who leads him to The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), a supreme master of the mystical arts; magic. Turns out, Strange has entered this place of mysticism at a complicated time, as The Ancient One’s most talented pupil, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), became enamored by the power of The Ancient One’s long time enemy known as Dormammu, and seeks to give Earth to him for total domination. But Strange is there to heal his hands and get back to the way things used to be. But as the threats become closer and more direct, Strange must choose to become a sorcerer and help defeat the mystical evil that threatens the world, or turn his back on this new reality.

(REVIEW)

OOOOOOHHHHHH MYYYYYYYY GOOOOOOOD!!! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, where I even start?! AAAAAHHHHHH it was so awesome!

Okay! Composure! I got this.

Let’s start… like I always do, with the cast. Cumberbatch as Strange was awesome. He’s a slightly different approach to the 2007 animated version, who was more of a serious asshole, rather than a ego-centric likable jerk, but Cumberbatch is really nails everything. He looks great as the hero in the red cape and shining green gem. I bought him as a surgeon. “Please cover your watch.” Oh man, his comedic timing is pitch perfect. As per usual, Marvel movies are proving to be more competent comedies than actual comedies and Cumberbatch’s brand of fun is much welcomed. Beyond the funny moments though, he does very well with the more dramatic stuff too. There’s a scene where he’s in his apartment after his accident and Christine (Rachel McAdams), his former girlfriend, is trying to be supportive and take care of him, but Strange is a legit asshole to her. When he learns of the mystical dimensions, he’s seriously in wonder. Even when he’s training and asking questions, there’s never a sense of asking to respond, he’s genuinely trying to learn. It’s always an appreciative feat when they don’t make the learning-hero a whiny baby when he fails. Oh sure, you see frustration and a burning desire to scream and curse, even give up, but he never does. He keeps trying.

Swinton churns out a delightful performance as well. I feel like with every wise line, there’s a lingering punchline just waiting to happen. But more than that, you feel the frustration she has that her teachings have been called into question by one of her more gifted students and doesn’t want to train another. The threat of Dormammu is enough and now she has to contend with one of her own. Granted, her change of heart in training Strange is pretty easy, but you do see her having pride in his progress, her faith in his abilities.

McAdams as Christine Palmer is a wonderful little addition to the story as well. In fact, Christine’s dynamic with Strange is almost on par with that of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. They are so funny and work incredibly well off of each other. Granted, Pepper had a more involved role in Tony’s arch as a hero than Christine did for Strange, but they probably have the most entertaining “romantic” relationship since Tony and Potts. You could also make the strong argument that Christine’s character was pointless; write her out of the story and it would have progressed just fine. But as true as that might be, she’s still an enjoyable enough character to be fun to have around. Here’s to hoping for a more involved role in the future.

I’ve been hearing one or two professional critics out there calling the movie “familiar.” That’s very hard to argue, and in fact, I do not disagree. Having not read any other reviews out there in depth, I imagine one of those reasons is because this film is basically IRON MAN (2008). Really think about it. You have an ego-centric protagonist, brilliant in every way in his field of expertise, a beautiful blond woman that he works with and is sort of a lover, is in some way separated from his home to a foreign land, triumphantly returns home a changed man, all the while fighting an evil dude whose backstory involves betrayal, and has the same abilities as he does. This is what I have to say:

I do not care! In fact, I might prefer STRANGE over IRON MAN.

Here’s the thing, while IRON MAN is definitely a movie that any fan should appreciate the most (starting the Avengers-related films, as well as re-energizing Downey Jr.’s career), the visual spectacle alone makes STRANGE more worthwhile to rewatch. What is the climax of IRON MAN? Tony fights in the streets, and on a rooftop. While fine for the time, the movie is a little dated in that respect. I know a lot of critics and general audiences would prefer some variation – no destruction of cities – in their superhero movies, but… I kinda like that stuff. I like big, I like world-shaking. Unless a Marvel movie is going to not have that kind of destruction at the end, say like in CIVIL WAR (2016), then it has to do something unique with it other than have a half-assed excuse for a couple of characters to fight again, unlike in CIVIL WAR. At least with a city being threatened, you have built-in stakes. What were the stakes in the climax of CIVIL WAR? Tension between Tony and Steve? That’s been there since the beginning of the movie. What are the stakes in the climax of STRANGE? A city being destroyed. Not unique, but not unimportant.

Also, the opening of the movie is basically GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014); the bad guy making a dude’s head… not there anymore.

Speaking of bad guys, Mikkelsen unfortunately joins the ranks of bad and underdeveloped villains, but honestly, like a comically bad Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees movie, I’ve just gotten so used to it that I stopped caring. If we get a good one, sweet. If we get a bad one, that’s pretty standard now, so I’m not overly bothered by this (waste of Mikkelsen’s talent, though). And it’s never quite explained why Dormammu wants Earth so badly. If there’s infinite dimensions out there, what makes this very specific dimension the prize of prizes? Eh, again, comic book movie villain logic, I guess. Honestly, every single problem that I think most people will have with this film don’t really bother me. I sure have my questions, but… eh. Whatever.

Overall, I don’t think I can recommend this movie enough. I’d say this stands pretty well on its own and you don’t need to see the previous Marvel movies in order to understand it, though there might be a reference or two that might fly over someone’s head. It’s a wonderfully executed fantasy and action film, marinated in great performances, marred only by some of the trippiest and mind-screwing visuals since INCEPTION. Seriously, it’s like looking through a kaleidoscope the whole movie. Entertaining and engaging, this is probably one of the best superhero movies of the year.

My honest rating for DOCTOR STRANGE: 5/5

doctor-strange-comic-con-poster

Upcoming reviews:

SUICIDE SQUAD review

As many of you know, I loooove my superhero movies. So if you’re one of those folks who’s all like, “There’s too many of them now,” just know that I’m quietly judging you.

So let’s talk about the young DC cinematic universe that was kickstarted back in 2013 with the release of the Superman film, MAN OF STEEL. I loved this movie. I thought it was a more grounded take on the superhero and an update on the character himself. It did to Superman what Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN BEGINS did for Batman. It was an awesome flick. The second film in this universe was BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. Many of you might recall my review of the film: I didn’t think it was good. I thought Jesse Eisenberg was uninspired, so much of the story made absolutely no sense, the action could have been a ton better, and the ending ruined a lot of really cool future ideas that other reviewers that I respect brought to my attention, particularly the crossover review with Youtube’s Nostalgia Critic and Angry Joe. Check it out, it’s really funny.

It was a box office success, but it was brutalized by fans and critics alike. I won’t say it was completely awful, though. I loved Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman (for the most part), and Jeremy Irons as Alfred. But the backlash and unanimously negative opinions clearly went in one of DC’s ears and they kept that shit locked in so it wouldn’t go out the other. New heads were brought on board and most everything is proclaiming that these new guys will save the DCCU. Hell, already people are taking a huge liking to the trailer for WONDER WOMAN and the clips from JUSTICE LEAGUE that were previewed at ComicCon.

But for now, we have this addition. Everyone seems pretty split right now, don’t they? The critics don’t seem to like it, early viewings for fans seem to love it. Hell, did you know about the petition to shut down RottenTomatoes.com for their negative reviews of the film? Oh my god, I may not be the biggest fan of the site myself, they’re way too brutal on anything short of an art-house film, but I am a firm believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If critics don’t like a movie, then fine, critics don’t like a movie. It’s not the first time movie-goers have disagreed with critics and you can bet your asses it won’t be the last. All that truly matters to me is that your opinion isn’t as simple as, “It was just stupid. I don’t know why, it was just stupid,” or, “It was awesome! Because it was just fucking awesome!” Yeah, that’s not how expressing an opinion works. There’s always reasons why you like or dislike something, and in order for an opinion to really be valid, you need to come up with well-thought-out reasons for it. If you clearly express why, then you’re entitled to it. But just screaming in protest because you’re a petulant child isn’t expressing an opinion, it’s throwing a tantrum.

But now it’s time to address my initial thoughts of the movie. It reunites FOCUS co-stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie in the respective rolls of Deadshot and Harley Quinn. I love Smith and really enjoy Robbie’s work. This extends to the rest of the cast too. Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Viola Davis, and Cara Delevingne is a promising new actress. But what I’m really excited for within the cast is, you guessed it, Jared Leto as the Joker. Say what you want about his appearance (I admit, I had mixed feelings too), but there has never been a bad Joker in the history of the character. Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Mark Hamill, Kevin Michael Richardson, John DiMaggio, everyone’s brought their own unique and amazing flare to the character, and Leto has proven to be one of the wildest of wildcard actors that Hollywood’s got. This is what I’m seeing the movie for.

Even writer/director David Ayer doesn’t seem like a bad choice, what with solid works like FURY and STREET KINGS, the highly acclaimed END OF WATCH, and the bad but entertaining SABOTAGE under his belt, he actually seems like a director who knows what story he wants to tell and that he can bring something unique to the superhero franchise. So I guess I’m leaning more in the direction of this movie being good. I’ve not always agreed with critics and I’ve not always agreed with movie-goers, but I won’t know where I stand unless I see the movie, right? Is this band of misfits and criminals worth the price of admission? This is my honest opinion of SUICIDE SQUAD.

(SUMMARY)

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is a government official who’s rounded up some of the worst and most dangerous criminals in the world, including, but not limited to the deadliest hitman known as Deadshot (Will Smith), the Joker’s equally insane girlfriend and former psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the horribly mutated human turned part reptilian Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and others. But now, a disaster has struck the city. Archaeologist June Moone (Cara Delevingne) uncovered an artifact that held the spirit of an old witch known simply as The Enchantress. June accidentally opens the artifact and is subsequently possessed by her. The only way to control Enchantress is to hold her heart, which Waller found. But the control didn’t last as Enchantress manages to locate her brother and releases him onto the city. Aware of Enchantress escaping, Amanda attempts to destroy Enchantress’ heart, but isn’t fast enough as Enchantress’ brother manages to sustain her life. Unable to accept that humanity worships machines instead of them, Enchantress wants to create her own machine to dominate the world. Waller then assembles a squad of those dangerous inmates of her prison, led by the tough and patriotic soldier Rick Flag, who is also June’s lover, to do battle against Enchantress and her growing army of mutated humans.

(REVIEW)

Summed up, I went in with high expectations. It didn’t quite meet the expectations, but it didn’t fall too short of it. So I think the movie is okay leaning more in the direction of good, but it’s far from perfect.

I think I’ll start by addressing the proclaimed reason why I went in to the movie, Leto as the Joker. I don’t think this was a very good performance. Oh man, it was underwhelming. Yeah yeah, I know what I said, and I still stick to it. Leto isn’t bad per se, but… I don’t think it was a very inspired interpretation of the character. It felt like he was trying to convey Ledger’s performance. He whispers his lines, squeals others, screams a few, and occasionally laughs. In that respect, he’s almost like Eddie Redmayne’s character from JUPITER ASCENDING. I suppose it is interesting to finally see an on screen portrayal of him established as a crime lord inside his hideout and surrounded by his subordinates. I guess in some ways, I was also hoping that the way he was dressed, like a pimp, was just promotional images. Joker’s always had his purple suit. To see him dressed like he’s flaunting his riches feels a tad out of character. One would think that he would flaunt how much fun he’s having being him and being destructive instead of being this flashy and… traditional. But I find it hard to close myself off to Leto’s performance entirely. At the end of the day, his role in this is bigger than most may realize, but he’s still not a main character, really. He hasn’t been given the lime-light to let his insanity shine through. It’s entirely possible that the character was just written in without that kind of wiggle room. I’m keeping my reservations until Affleck’s solo Batman film comes out before freaking out. The true test of any Joker interpretation is how he interacts with Batman.

Now let’s talk about Harley Quinn. Don’t mistake me, I’m not about to judge the character for dressing skimpy. Harley’s been dressed that way both in the comics and the Arkham video games. What I do complain about is that she flaunts that too. I don’t know, I’ve read a lot of the INJUSTICE comics and Harley, while incredibly flirtatious, has never really flaunted her sexuality. She dresses the part, acts the part, but never flaunts the part. I guess it’s not much of a graduation and it’s probably a wonder why she’s never done it before, but… yeah, it’s a little too different for my taste. And isn’t Harley not supposed to be as crazy as Joker? If I recall, she’s simply obsessively in love with Joker and never took a dive in the chemicals that made him what he is. But I give credit to Robbie, when she’s not being obvious about her looks, she has the same mannerisms as every incarnation of the character I’ve seen. She’s playful, smiley, nuts, funny, and pretty bad-ass at times. I know I harped on that one aspect a lot, but I do overall think that she nailed the role. For future installments, a less sexual character would be welcomed. And I hate to sound like a high school teacher here, but… lose the gum. I thought the gum chewing was obnoxious and distracting.

Another standout was Enchantress. This is also a pretty mixed bag for me, but still leaning in the direction of liking. I thought the first design of her was great. She’s all ghostly and smokey, the glowing eyes, she looked really cool and creepy, like something straight out of a horror movie, and actually looks creepier than most monsters I’ve seen. Maybe taking a little too much inspiration from THE RING, but what doesn’t these days? I think one of the more creative aspects of her character is how she comes out of June when summoned. He blackened hand sort of just appears behind her hand, grabs it, and flips it over, and then it’s just Enchantress’ hand. Visually, I thought it was incredibly cool to watch that. Her second appearance… I don’t know, it sort of fell short in the “wow” factor. I know she’s supposed to look a little more regal, having once been worshiped as a god or whatever, but it’s a pretty forgettable look. But what sells the role as a whole is Delevingne herself. She plays dueling roles as June, a scared woman who is clearly afraid of Enchantress, but when she’s the witch, I have no problems accepting that she’s a force to be reckoned with. Her plans are generic, her motivations are generic, but Delevingne’s performance is pure gravity. She commands the screen with steel-piercing eyes and a voice that is just hypnotic. Delevingne is a phenomenal actress that gave a two dimensional character some serious kick-assery.

Smith is cool and funny as always, Davis is hardcore and intimidating, phenomenal casting on that end, Courtney is hilarious, Jay Hernandez as Diablo was surprisingly awesome, Kinnaman is unfortunately pretty generic, but everyone ranges from serviceable to entertaining, which isn’t really a bad thing. It’s a big cast and sadly, we don’t get to know certain characters too well, like Killer Croc. He’s there to be the muscle of the group (to be fair, he does have one amazing line in the bar scene). Katana is there to be the bad-ass Asian, but again to be fair, this is Karen Fukuhara’s only film under her belt, so… impressive work for a first time out. Very convincing performance despite so little to work with.

I do also have to say that the story is average. I’m not sure if this was some kind of dream project for Ayer or what, but while the characters he writes are pretty enjoyable, he does seem to toss an inspired story to the curb. A group of people try to stop a powerful being from taking over the world. Um… that kind of describes ninety-nine percent of all superhero movies out there. Even if you wanted to use the phrase, “band of misfits,” then I’d say, “GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.” Maybe that’s why a lot of people like this movie so much because, now that I’m thinking about it, this does seem to be DC’s answer to that movie. Not nearly as good, but still enjoyable and its own thing. Still, I didn’t get a real sense of danger or great stakes if they failed. I mean, it’s not like Batman, Wonder Woman, and Flash aren’t around to take on Enchantress. Speaking of which, where are those guys while all this is happening? For that matter, where was anybody? When did the city get completely evacuated? Who wants to bet that the events here won’t be referenced in any future DC movie? Oh well.

I can see why the critics hate it, but I don’t agree. I can see why fans love it, I don’t agree either. But I can see that everyone working on the project felt passion for it, as quite a few of the cast have spoken out about the critical reception. Most of those that have were upset, a couple have been level-headed. But everyone as of late when it comes to their adaptations have been taking things way too far. I don’t think it’s good form for cast and crew of a movie to be up in arms about critics’ opinions because rarely does anyone agree with them anyway. It’s the entertainment industry, it’s practically designed for the expression of and reaction to opinions. Just keep it grounded, folks. They’re just movies and comics. It’s fun to rave and rage about stuff, but let’s not attack, discriminate, or alienate those with different opinions. Pretty sure we have a couple of presidential hopefuls that’ll have enough segregative hatred to have us covered on that. No one made this movie to cause a war. They created it to bring people together to have fun and enjoy themselves for a couple hours. So let’s follow suit.

On the whole, I do think that the movie is kind of average, but I still enjoyed myself (the theme of the review). Some scenes dragged on for a bit, and some characters may be a little too different than previous interpretations, but I don’t regret seeing it. I had fun. I do recommend it, but don’t expect anything high concept or overly deep. It’s a fun, silly film and it’s worth the time and money.

My honest opinion: a strong 3/5

suicide-squad-movie-2016-poster

Upcoming review:

  • NINE LIVES
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jHA97HzhxE

Upcoming hopeful reviews: