Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Age of Spider-Man: a Spider-Man Homecoming review

I spent a great deal of time before Spider-Man Homecoming came out declaring loudly why I was going to hate this film. Some will say that I was over the top and overly dramatic with my opinion and blew things way out of proportion and you would not be wrong. I think initial anger at a trailer will never lead you to your true opinion and I often tell people that I rewatch films multiple times solely because I know my opinions will change on a film the more times I view it.

Having watched the film now I can honestly say I’m not going to tell you it’s a bad film simply because that is untrue. You can go into a film and force yourself to hate it but that isn’t going to give you an unbiased view of it. Though I had many pre-viewing ramblings about the film and its issues I can tell you that the reasons I knew I was going to be unsatisfied with the final product are true even after watching it.

I predicted that my problems with the film were going to be that they stuck Spider-Man in High school again and that they were also making him a pseudo-sidekick to Iron Man. Very much so, these two things stick out as a problem, yet despite these plot points I will still tell you that this is a wonderful film and you should go see it. In fact in my opinion there was really only 1 terrible scene in the whole feature.

They end up recreating a scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off then show the actual scene they are copying on someone’s TV before continuing to copy the scene. I feel like you just don’t need to show your reference work in-movie and it struck me as a bad idea. (I’m getting off topic, hold on)

I think what I’m experiencing for the first time is that this is no longer my era. I had my Spider-Man growing up. He was and still is my favorite hero. He was a college student who was working multiple jobs just trying to make ends meet and not succeeding very often. As with many long lived superhero figures they go through different times and ages. The Spider-Man I read as a kid, his time has passed. Maybe Spider-Man needs to be a High schooler again; maybe he does need to be Iron Man’s apprentice. I don’t know, I’ll never tell you I understand kids these days.

Somewhere out there is a kid who is watching this film and is excited to see his version of Spider-Man up on the big screen. I can’t fault a film for not giving me my version amongst the hundreds of versions that are already out there. There are a lot of things I actually really like about this film and really enjoyed getting to see. 

I’ve had a lot of people tell me lately that I’m never satisfied or happy with films or television and I tell them that can’t be true because I love film so much. Yet I haven’t put out a review in a really long time and it was mostly because I found myself really unsatisfied with movies lately. I wasn’t finding my muse to talk about them. I think I need to really change my perspective on how I view films and go about reviewing them. (Hence the reason for a long-winded speech instead of the usual fanfare)

I probably would have previously given a poor review based on it missing what I want out of a Spider-Man film but I don’t think that is fair. Out of sheer irony I realized I was becoming J. Jonah Jameson, calling this Spider-Man a menace. This is a very good film and you should go watch it. I think it’s great that Marvel and Sony were able to make a deal to get this film green lit. I don’t think we would have gotten another solid Spider-Man out of Sony without it and I'm excited to see what becomes of the property in the future. 

I’m not sure when my next review will be but I hope that it will be a shorter timelaspe than this last one.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Top 10 Dark Lords of Magic

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE! I bet you thought I forgot all about you and had moved onto other things…..well I try to write when I can……but it would pain me to no end if I forgot to do my Halloween Holiday special. So here we are….what to do…..if only I could make a list appear like magic…..and to heck with all that build up, here are my Top 10 Dark Lords of Magic! (not really doing a great job with the rules on this one but let’s role with it) Before I start here are a few honorable mentions:
-Loki (Thor)
-Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd (Power Rangers)
-Jareth the Goblin King (Labyrinth)
Now onto the main event:

10-Wicked Witch of the West (Wizard of Oz)

Nothing quite beats a classic villain (and nothing quite feels as satisfying as snubbing every single Loki fan than by stating that the Wicked Witch is better). To be fair here, the Wicked Witch has everything that Loki can’t really accomplish. She has a kingdom, a legion of loyal warriors (or at least scared enough not to question) and she can even write letters in the sky with her broomstick. It really is hard to say that she doesn’t have everything….I mean other than ruby slippers or a questionable weakness to water.

9-Dormammu (Doctor Strange)

Now you face The Dread Dormammu! Not saying that Doctor Strange doesn’t have a wide range of recognizable villains, but at least some people are mildly aware of Dormammu. Ruling upon a plane of existence forged entirely out of dark magic with an appearance that would drive some insane, Dormammu wages war on our dimension but is regularly bested by the Sorcerer Supremes. Despite this, Dormammu is an ageless being and if he cannot beat Earth’s Sorcerers through combat he can always beat them through…the waiting game. Fear in terror as The Dread Dormammu patiently waits for old age to take you down. BWAHAHA!....or something.

8-Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

I know what you’re thinking ‘but the new film showed she was a good character all along and that she had been horribly wronged’ and to that I say I’m not talking about the new film I’m talking about the original Disney character the one who would curse you with all the powers of Hell! I loved Maleficent in this movie. She is literally evil for the sake of being evil. The only reason any of the events happen is because she got snubbed a birthday party invite. Whimsically evil.

7-The Lich (Adventure Time)

“THE LICH KING IS NOT FUNNY’ is probably the best lines ever written about this character. In a series that can go from absolute nonsense to OH MY GOD EVERYONE IS DEAD in two seconds flat really has The Lich to thank for that. Every single time this character appears someone either dies or something in the series is changed dramatically. Little is known about the character other than he was somehow spawned from the bomb in the Mushroom War. The Lich is solely driven towards the end of everything. In a show that is about nothing, The Lich is one of the few plot movers but always in the most terrifying of ways.

6 -The White Witch (Chronicles of Narnia)

Jadis, better known as the White Witch, is very similar to the Wicked Witch. She has a kingdom, legions of followers who are more afraid than loyal, but the true difference between the characters comes entirely through power. The White Witch was able to cast the land of Narnia into a 100 year winter, ruling over the land with a terrifying might. Most notable is her wand which has the ability to transform anyone to stone. Thank god we have super magical Lions and prophecy children to make things right….as you do.

5 -Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars)

And to the large group of people who stood up immediately to protest, I have this to say: we’re all entitled to our own opinions and I think that Jedi and Sith qualify as space wizards… there. With that in mind I would be absolutely remised if I didn’t include the Emperor. Darth Sidious has a heck of an all-encompassing, slow-burn, take over the entire universe schemes, but I think it says a lot when we realize his plan ended up working. He did take over the galaxy with absolute power for many years. If he was a bit smarter with his apprentice he would have continued to rule for many more years.   

4 -Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter)

‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’ ‘You-Know-Who’ ‘The Dark Lord’ or better known as Tom, is one of the wizarding world’s most devastating dark wizard. When people are even too scared to say your name, for fear of being cursed somehow, is a good sign that you’re a pretty powerful warlock. If I really had to think of one major fault to good ol’ Voldy it’s that he found out about a prophecy to end him and decided to go out of his way to stop the prophecy from happening. Look…trying to stop the prophecy from happening always makes it happen…….it’s like a finger trap that way.

3 -Ganon (Legend of Zelda)

Or better known now as Ganondorf, is an incarnation of the Demon King, Demise, who will ALWAYS reincarnate eventually. As far as curses go having a never ending warlock re-incarnate every few years is a pretty potent one. When you think about magic users the first thing that comes to mind is rather studious book-ish types who prefer to spend their hours locked away in a library tower. Alternatively, Ganondorf is a hulking beast on the battlefield, and at times literally IS a beast when he takes on his demonic boar form.

2-Morgan le Fay

When we think about dark magic users one of the first characters that came to mind was Morgan le Fay. This character has been adapted time and time again. Sometimes they don’t even tie in the King Arthur stuff and just have a really powerful sorceress named Morgana. Possibly Arthur’s half-sister, possibly Merlin’s apprentice; Morgan le Fay has been around long enough that were just not sure which interpretation is correct. An icon of the dark wizard trope, there is no denying that Morgan le Fay belongs at the top of this list…is what I would have said were it not that I felt there was ONE who stood above them all.

1 -Sauron (Lord of the Rings)

“Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne. In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to Rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I am familiar with the extensive back-history of Tolkien’s epic fantasy series, nor am I going to pretend that I fully understand everything that is going on, but I cannot deny the power of Sauron. From my brief delves into the story-at-large, I understand that Sauron isn’t even the first evil to appear, but I did grow up watching the film franchise and loving every second of it. Maybe someday I will dive deeper and have a better comprehension of the events going on but for now I cannot imagine putting Sauron anywhere else on this list…..he is…precious to me…… precious……..

….And with that bit of silly melodrama out of the way, I bid you all a Happy Halloween! 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Let's Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

Let’s not lie to ourselves and say we don’t like the X-Men. Marvel sure seems to have a beef against them. They’ve been trying to underplay their uncanny band of mutants left and right. I don’t know if the rest of you have been paying attention but the recent storylines being published ranges from finding a new cure for mutants to a virus that is killing them as well as making them infertile. At the same time Marvel has been up-playing Inhumans as the new mutant across most of their mediums. Unfortunately, they have a very hard pill to as they are slowly coming to realize no one really cares about the Inhumans hence the reason why no one really knows who they are, whereas the X-Men have been one of your strongest brands for over 50 years. I know Marvel wants the rights back from Fox but that doesn’t mean they should try to kill of one of their best franchises. Whereas the media blackout from Marvel regarding the Fantastic Four might’ve worked (the film being bad didn’t hurt either), the X-Men franchise is still beating strong and with a wealth of wonderful storylines to adapt will keep doing so for quite some time. So with that rant out of the way, how did I feel about the new film?

The Negative

This film draaaaaaaaaaaaged really badly. The movie is about 2 and a half hours long and it just feels like it. I think it was a problem with the pacing as I felt like I was watching the same standing around discussing scene over and over again just is various different locations. The main villain himself didn’t do much for the vast majority of the flick but that made sense because he was an unstoppable powerhouse who whenever he actually did something it was to a massive scale and terrifying. Apocalypse should have won but for film convenience he regularly sat back and did very little. I feel like the film would have been better if we had one massive exposition scene and then just got on with things quickly.

The Positive

I just can’t stay mad at this film. As an X-Men fan this movie was filled to the brim with wonderful nods to the fans. I fear these things will mean very little to the average film-goers but for me it truly made this film fantastic. Little things like getting to see Cyclops wear his iconic blue uniform for the first time, or finally getting a proper adaptation of Wolverine’s Weapon X harness made the kid-nerd in my explode in excitement. The very fact that we got an adaptation of the Apocalypse storyline in film alone made me extremely excited. Superhero films for the longest time only wanted to be taken seriously and attempted to only adapt some of the more feasible storylines or even worse change things so that they could be taken more serious. I have been overjoyed with the fact that superhero films are now adapting some of the weirder sides of their comic book counterparts and even better the audiences are loving it. Something like this or Guardians of the Galaxy would never have seen the light of day during the early 2000’s when superhero films were just starting to take off again.

In Conclusion

It does my nerdy heart good to see films embrace superheroes and comic books for what they are, a wild ride into the fantastic. I’m very curious to see what will become of the X-Men franchise now that the prequel trilogy is over. Sure the series has had a few flops but if they keep up this momentum, I’m certain that the X-Men franchise will never die, despite how Marvel wishes to break it before getting it back under their thumb. 4.5 out of 5.

Let's Review: Ratchet & Clank

I am a huge fan of the Ratchet & Clank franchise. I am one of many that grew up playing these games and always thought that it should be adapted to the big screen. Someone out there certainly heard us as this film finally got enough steam to be made. Though my fears now wash over me as I know that the vast majority of video game to film adaptations are usually quite terrible. In fact, I am finding it a bit hard to list one that actually did well. At the same time its Ratchet & Clank, how terrible could it be? ……Let’s review Ratchet & Clank.

The Negative

I have never seen a film that quite missed the point as badly as this one. I almost want to say no one actually played the games whoever made this film yet it was Insomniac Games that actually helped produce this.  Many of the tropes of the series were just plan gone or looked at as weird. The two main characters honestly don’t even have that much dialogue with one another as they are separate from each other for most of the film, because the film thinks it’s weird that Clank would ride on Ratchet’s back like a backpack even though that is the video games ENTIRE modus operandi. The movie also over looks some of the most basic aspects of the games such as grind rails. How amazing would an action sequence where Ratchet goes across grind rails fighting enemies would have looked had it been on the big screen? That doesn’t even go over the fact that I’m entirely certain Ratchet uses his signature Omniwrench twice. I felt like I was watching a Zorro film where they decided that he never used a horse because that would be too weird and stopped him from using his whip but thank god he pulled out his sword twice. Everything that makes the games fun and exciting were simply gone from this movie.


The Positive

What do you really want me to put here. The story was so-so and bare minimum reusable garbage that regularly flies out of the mouth of Hollywood. For how awesome Ratchet and Clank can look in video games the CGI on this outing was okay at times but you could tell when they avoiding exceeding their animation budget. The voice acting of the original cast members of the game were good, even though the film tried to drown them out among famous actors (many of whom did not give a great performance). I’m sorry I may be getting into overly cruel territory but this film really disappointed me.

In Conclusion

This film was bad. As a fan of this franchise I am neither happy this film got made nor am I pleased that I got to see it. This film was just devoid of everything that makes this series great and I am truly upset that this will turn many new possible fans away from this great series, even worse it might convince producers that people are no longer interested in seeing more games come out. All in all this was a bad turn out and I’m worried about what this might mean for the future of this dynamic duo. 0.5 out of 5.  

Let's Review: The Jungle Book

I think it’s interesting that Disney is on a massive live action adaptation kick lately. In a time in film when everyone is complaining about remake after remake, Disney is still pushing ahead with this. Even then this latest stream of live action Disney remakes has had some good and some bad. The trailers for this movie looked good but I honestly wasn’t sure what I would be walking away with. Let’s review The Jungle Book.

The Negative

I feel like the CGI was 50/50. It’s really hard to describe the type of stylization they used for all of the animals in the film but it was like photorealistic without ever ignoring the fact that what we were looking at was CGI. I was always aware of the fact that what I was watching was probably all green screen. Certainly many of the main character models were very solid; I have to praise the Baloo model in particular, as it was certainly a standout for the film.

I really didn’t care for the fact that they turned one of the best lines from the book into an oddly propaganda speech in the movie. The Law of the Jungle is used less as unspoken words to live by and more a rehearsed oath that characters rather unenthusiastically speak multiple times in the film. The movie even pokes fun at it when Baloo calls it out for being propaganda (even though he too recites it unenthusiastically by the end of the film). It simply felt like one of the best lines wasn’t really understood and instead got repeated to the point where it hardly meant anything at all.

The Positive

The best thing going for this film is the amazing voice cast they got to play these iconic characters. If Disney was going to drag this story out of their vault “one last time” they at least did it with voice actors who could perfectly re-create the characters that we love. Bill Murray as Baloo and Ben Kingsley as Bagheera are both wonderfully performed. I had two concerns with the film and that was Christopher Walken’s King Louie and Neel Sethi’s Mowgli. Luckily both performed wonderfully and really stood out in the film. Competent child actors are really hard to find but Neel Sethi did an amazing job as Mowgli.

In Conclusion

The film is another solid adaptation of The Jungle Book and unfortunately that’s about it. I’m worried that in Disney’s rush to readapt all of their properties to live action they are simply going to just rehash all of the old storylines instead of trying to explore something new within these stories. I feel if you are going to adapt something again you should try to adapt it in a way that sheds new light on different aspects otherwise what was the point in doing a new feature altogether? 3.4 out of 5.

Let's Review: Deadpool

I’ll be entirely honest when I say that this film had me worried. As a Deadpool fan I had already been massively disappointed by his appearance in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film; and I know for a fact that I’m not the only one.  Like most characters in fiction, Deadpool has a special place in the hearts of the fans and we want to see the character given the proper adaptation that he deserves. From the interviews you could tell that the people running this project had a passion for this character and that can mean all the difference. So did Deadpool disappoint every fan’s dreams again? Let’s review Deadpool.

The Negative

The villain was sorely underdeveloped. I can’t exactly blame them either. Deadpool’s tone has the ride the edge of being a crude comedy while also retelling some of the darker aspects of the character. Deadpool certainly has some skeletons in his closet and the overly dark nature of such things would have been ill fitting in the tone that the film was going for. Having a villain that was mostly nondescript certainly didn’t hurt as it was easy to have the villain simply be a villain for evils sake. Though I do wonder what kind of film could have been made had we flipped the coin and sought to adapt the character’s darker nature instead.

Some people will never be happy. Certainly I’ve been on both ends of this sword before, but they did have to change certain aspects of Deadpool’s story in order to allow it to flow better as a cohesive plotline for the film. Now I’ve never been one to shy away from saying that the source material is better (which it is) but the changes made here really aren’t that bad considering the end result. I’m saying that I understand if certain fans will feel jaded but I for once was not affected by the changes made.

The Positive

The reason the changes didn’t really bother me is because as fans we got WAY more than I was every expecting to receive. Despite having to change certain aspects of the story I have never seen a more pure adaptation of a comic book character than with this film. What we got was the character Deadpool in a movie and I could not have been happier. Even better the film also adapted a great deal of Deadpool’s personal side characters, which is something even the video game didn’t do. Little touches like that certainly proved to me that this was a passion project by the producers and it really paid off for them.

Not only was this a good superhero film, it was also one of the best comedies I have seen in a long time. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard in a theater. Between the opening credits sequence that went out of its way to insult everybody who had worked on this film to the series of 4th wall breaks where Deadpool addressed us all personally, I was simply overjoyed to see that the tone of this character was captured so magnificently.

In Conclusion

This was by all means a really good film, a film that I will probably find myself re-watching multiple times over the years whenever I feel like I need a good laugh. I’m sure I stand with many in the awe and wonder that allowed this film to be made so perfectly for the fans. Even if you are not a longtime fan of Deadpool, I highly recommend checking out this film as it will certainly try its hardest to get you there. 4.9 out of 5.

Let's Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Anyone who knows me knows that Star Wars is my favorite movie. I absolutely love this franchise and my excitement as well as my expectations were incredibly high before this movie came out. I honestly didn’t hate the prequel films, sure they weren’t as good as the original trilogy but what could really beat those films. I knew without a doubt that I would love this new film just like all the other Star Wars films before it. Was I right? Let’s review Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

The Negative

I didn’t like it……..well that’s not entirely fair nor is it entirely true. As with a lot of movies in my library I eventually come around on the film after a few more times viewing it, but I will admit that my initial reaction to the film was disappointment. I feel like The Force Awakens is missing some special ingredient that will allow it to stand out in the Star Wars franchise. The film is almost a complete copy of Episode IV: A New Hope and I know I am certainly not the only one that feels that way. Now just being a copy of Episode IV isn’t really that bad in its own right, you could copy worse films. What makes this a bad thing is that the film honestly doesn’t have any moments that truly define it as its own. For as much as fans gripe about Episode I, it at least had the amazing Pod Race sequence and the stunning 3 way lightsaber battle at the end. Episode VII suffers from not having any really jaw dropping action sequences. The starfighter segments are just sort of there and the lightsaber battle at the end is undoubtedly lackluster.

I think this wouldn’t have been a problem if the film’s plot was more original but it just feels like sequences we have seen done better before. I think the film was so desperate to get us back to that galaxy far far away that we knew and loved from the original trilogy that it forgot to be really distinctive in any way or fashion. The film brought back practical effects but many of them didn’t look particular good or stood out too much. We brought back John Williams, but aside from a few notable pieces most of the soundtrack just felt like re-hashes of the old series. This is my overall problem with Episode VII, it’s not a bad film by far but it’s unimaginative, unoriginal, and uninspired. Now being within the Star Wars pantheon of films, being the most indistinctive is probably one of the worst things to be known for and it feels even worse knowing that the rich expanded universe was discarded for a reused plotline.

The Positive

Now that I’ve gotten that rant out of the way, let’s talk about what I do walk away from this movie with. I think Episode VII did in one movie what the Prequel series couldn’t do in 3, have memorable characters. All of the new main characters have distinctive personality quirks and personal goals that make them all stand out wonderfully. This was a major problem in the prequels where the majority of the characters were incredibly bland and lifeless. I am significantly more excited to see what becomes of these characters far more than I would anyone from the prequel series.

In Conclusion

Like many films I feel like my opinion on them waxes and wanes as time goes on and I figured that given enough time I would eventually come to enjoy The Force Awakens. Actually the thing that helped me the most was going out and buying a massive visual encyclopedia that let me divulge into every little secret the film had to offer (I really shouldn’t be asking for a massive exposition speech). I enjoy the film but I also think it might be one of the weaker outings Star Wars has to offer. When I think about the Star Wars films I think about how each of them brought something new and fantastical to this already rich world, while Episode 7 certainly adds to this already rich universe it also feels like not enough.  3.7 out of 5.