Friday, December 7, 2018

Avengers 4 trailer is here...and the official title is...

It was back in October 2014 when Kevin Feige announced the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Three. He announced we'd get movies like "Doctor Strange" and "Thor: Ragnarok." He told us "Black Panther" and "Captain Marvel" and "Captain America: The Serpent Society" were on the way. By the end of the night, even that was a huge joke...leading the official announcement of "Captain America: Civil War." There was even an announcement for an "Inhumans" movie that never happened. But the biggest announcement of that night was announcing "Avengers: Infinity War" and at the time we'd get "Infinity War: Part I" in 2018 and "Infinity War: Part II" in 2019.

Since then, Marvel has done some course correcting. They made room for "Spider-Man" and more "Ant-Man." They took "Inhumans" out. They bumped "Black Panther" to a different release date. Things have been moving along and we finally got to "Avengers: Infinity War" last year. Which ended on a crazy cliffhanger. Long before the release of "Infinity War," Marvel announced that the fourth Avengers film would not be Part II. That the fourth film would have a style and story of its own. The title has been kept secret, for almost a year. I was kind of baffled. Infinity War ended on a cliffhanger, of course this is Part II even if they didn't want to call it Part II.

Speculation went into overdrive. What will the movie be called? Some said "Infinity Gauntlet" following the stories in the comics. Some suggested "Annihilation" and even "Endgame" became popular. Well, everyone that guessed "Endgame" ended up being correct. It was announced with the first teaser trailer that "Avengers 4" is officially called "Avengers: Endgame" and it will be arriving in theaters on April 26th, 2019. I can't fucking wait.

Some Marvel fans have been picky about this trailer. I get it, even if I wholeheartedly disagree. They are called "TEASER TRAILERS" for a reason. They are meant to tease, and I think it certainly did that. None of our surviving heroes are in a good place. Stark is stuck in space, presumably with Nebula, and he's running low on food, oxygen and morale. Back on Earth, Banner, Black Widow and Cap are all crying and distraught. Their Avengers building in upstate New York all but abandoned. Thor wears street clothes, looking sad. We only see Thanos' armor hung like a statue to be canonized and worshipped. While we see only his arm, still donning the destroyed Infinity Gauntlet, walking around his planet. There are absolutely no action pieces, and there is real not indicator of where the storyline is going to go. I was a little disappointed to see no sign of Rocket either.

But we DID see Hawkeye, but he's not Hawkeye anymore. He's in his full Ronin gear, and he's looking sad. The main theory that I am sure is correct is that Hawkeye's family that we met in "Age of Ultron" disappeared after Thanos' snap, which of course led Hawkeye to mentally snap. But man, does he look cool in his Ronin garb.

No sign of Captain Marvel either, but I am sure Marvel will release a full "Endgame" trailer in March, presumably sometime after the release of her movie on March 8th. Rest assured though guys, Brie Larson is set to appear in the fourth film. Nick Fury didn't call her for no reason.

I love this trailer. I love that we finally got something. Its small, but its breaking the internet faster than Wreck-It Ralph did. It's setting a huge tone and I can't wait to discuss what else happens, what the story will be and what certain scenes mean. (There is a big theory going around that the Scott Lang we see in the trailer isn't really Scott, but a Skrull) So have fun hatching those and Marvel has done it again.




Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Review: "Ralph Breaks the Internet" doesn't necessarily break the first film, but its still good

Ralph Breaks The Internet Review
"Wreck-It Ralph" was a fun little awesome movie. Its no surprise it rang so true to many people. It was a clever take on video game culture and the tropes that have materialized from it, and that's saying something coming from Disney Studios. There were some fun parodies of classic video game characters. All of this was swept into an engaging story for people of all ages told with characters that stole hearts. Sure, the movie just boiled down to a typical Disney "Be a good person and eat your vegetables" fable, but the fun and characters ultimately won me over. They seemed like they won over tons of people. Plus, the left and right slugs to the video game world was fun to see too.

So of course we get a sequel, and while its six years later, its clear that there is still gas left in this tank. The film has been doing well at the box office so far. But money has never been an issue with me, I don't care how much money a movie makes. All I care about is how good a movie is. So...how good is "Ralph Breaks the Internet?" Overall, its pretty good. I don't know if I would call it a better movie than the first, but "Wreck-It Ralph" almost felt one-of-a-kind. I would have loved another movie dealing with video game culture, but perhaps they told all the story they could with that venture. And the only other option was to tell the story they present here.

The movie picks up in real time. Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are still the best of buds. They love playing in their designated video games. But Vanellope in particular is getting tired of the same thing every day. These fictional games our main characters inhabit are supposedly old and these characters have seen everything. All hidden tracks, all hidden characters, there is no more maps to clear, no new territory to discover and no more Ermacs. Ralph wants to help his bored friend, so he is able to create a new race course in Vanellope's racing game. While Vanellope loved Ralph's efforts. Ralph accidentally breaks down Vanellope's game and the arcade owner shuts the game down. Leaving all of the characters from Vanellope's game "homeless." The arcade needs a certain amount of money to fix the game, money the arcade doesn't have. 

So Ralph does what we usually see in these Disney movies. He goes on an adventure to get the money. By trying to make money on the internet. Because we all know how hard and frustrating that can be. As much as the first film was a comment on video game culture, Disney does a great job commenting on the internet. Sometimes, surfing the net can feel like the digital wild west, that's exactly what the internet looks like in this movie. A big, loud, free-for-all and its all overwhelming to Ralph and Vanellope, just as it can be overwhelming to anyone whose never used it before. I really dug the look of the inside of the internet in this movie.

The voice work is top-notch here. Our favorite characters from the first film, voiced by Jane Lynch, Jack McBayer and more. Gal Gadot and Taraji P. Hensen give voice to two newest characters, Gadot voices a character from an online video game and Hensen gives voice to an algorithm of a YouTube parody, and they do wonderful work here. Fans of all things Disney will have a fun time with the characters and their voices. The scene in the trailers where Vanellope meets every single Disney Princess features voices from nearly all the original movies, even going back years. There is also a scene where Vin Diesel voices Baby Groot, and Stan Lee snuck in one last cameo. So there are little things that people will soak up and enjoy.

The thing is, this story is really no different from the first film. Ralph, whether he's trying to do good or do bad, ends up just breaking stuff. No matter how hard he tries, he ends up ruining good things for those he cares about. Then he learns his lesson and he has to repair the damages he created. Sure, he's not concerned about being a villain anymore. But now he's trying to be a good friend, and how that can consume someone under circumstances. The film resolves itself using the spine of the first film as a blueprint. 

The film is certainly very clever once again and I am sure many people of all ages will find something to enjoy here. But underneath it all, its just another sequel. Albeit an enjoyable one.

FINAL GRADE: B

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Review: "Bodied" is the most original, most daring, and one of the absolute coolest movies of 2018!

Bodied Review

In a world where our local movie theaters are bombarded with superhero flicks, book adaptations, true stories that aren't true and movies based on something your grandpa liked when he was six, its hard to push for originality. Its even harder when the studios are more business-oriented than they've ever been in history. If you want a movie that's even remotely original, you really have to work to find it. Don't get me wrong, I have truly liked a lot of the movies that fit those descriptions above. But over-saturation of anything in the market isn't good for it. Film will only stagnate if studios refuse to try anything new. If you are willing to do that legwork, it can be big fun for you as an individual. I had one of those experiences today. 

I am kind of surprised that "Bodied" isn't getting the mainstream big weekend opening I think it deserves. Its a movie being produced by Eminem, and you'd think that he could create a decent brand name for himself. He is one of the biggest rap stars in the business right now, for better or for worse and his name could easily sell tickets. I think a movie about rap battles could do fairly well in a movie theater too, I mean, who remembers just how popular "8 Mile" was at the time in 2002?

"Bodied" was directed by Joseph Kahn and at first, I thought Kahn was really starting to branch out into new territory. And truly he is, but he is beginning to create a visual signature that is very much him. He is beginning to punctuate his movies with his own unique style and I can't wait to see how his career progresses. You may know Joseph Kahn. I was ready to write him off in an early age with the awful "Torque" that came out around 2004. Then he made a short film adaptation of Power Rangers, which you can bootleg online for free without going to prison if you know where to go. Its badass but its weird watching it because badass isn't necessarily how I'd ever describe Power Rangers. Kahn really got on my radar though with 2012's "Detention" and if you haven't seen that movie yet, oh my God are you missing out. Its another film that just feels original, almost like punk rock. It's a John Hughes-esque teen movie wrapped in an alien invasion with a character that feels like they should be in "The Fly" with Jeff Goldblum. On paper, it doesn't make a lick of sense, but its so confidently brilliant that you will hand yourself over to it.

Joseph Kahn has made yet another weird masterpiece in the form of a rap battle social satire. Again, I would have never guessed that rap battle and social satire would go together. But when you take time to think about it, of course it makes sense. Rap music has always been smothered in social ques and history, why would it be any different now? It isn't just about rap battles though. Calum Worthy plays Adam and Adam is a college student at Berkeley. He is writing his thesis paper on using the n-word in rap music and to research, he goes to a rap battle competition. He somehow gets wrapped up in rapping at the battle himself and he quickly swept away in his research, and also battling on his own. 

The movie is pretty reminiscent of "Fight Club" in some ways. There is a dark tinted cinematography that really highlights the themes of the movie. We also watch as Adam slowly falls down this strange rabbit-hole of a world where anything goes, where you can say anything in order to win a battle. If you are a racist, sexist, asshole in a rap battle, does that mean you are a racist, sexist asshole in real life? Does your rap battle persona a reflection of who you are as an individual? For a movie based on its concept, I think people will really be surprised just how deep "Bodied" cuts and just how clear-eyed it is in its convictions.

Its a movie that plainly states that context matters. That's important, because its driving me nuts today. We are living in a world where everyone gets offended by what somebody says or what somebody does and in most cases, its all false reaction. We are not taking time to really research and understand what others say and do, we simply do the simple task and read a headline or look up a carefully curated quote and think we have all the answers based on tall tales and half truths. We are living in a world where a person of power literally said truth isn't truth. This should scare us all but at the same time, it should remind us that the context of what someone says or does matters and that's what we should be looking for in our news, other media and everywhere now.

I will say that Calum Worthy can act and he sure as shit can spit some game. In fact, the movie is filled with rappers I've never heard of but who can give up some decent performances. Charlamagne tha God, Dumbfoundead, Big T, Daylit...I've never heard of any of these guys. But they sure can act. To be honest, the only guy you'll recognize is Anthony Michael Hall, and he does good work here. I love it when casts of complete unknown come together and rip shit up in the best possible way. Which is exactly what happened here.

YouTube Originals have made a gigantic leap forward this year. I have yet to watch a single episode of Cobra-Kai but I hear its amazing. "Bodied" is freaking amazing too. Absolutely unlike anything playing in cinemas right now. A defiant original, and showcases what Hollywood has forgotten over the years. How originality and creativity will always triumph over familiarity.

FINAL GRADE: A+

Review: "The Grinch" is a fun little update.

The Grinch Review

I recently rewatched the 2000 "The Grinch" movie, the one where Jim Carrey pretty much disappeared into the role of the Grinch. That snobby, green monster who pesters the Who's of Whoville and isn't a big fan of Christmas. The film that was directed by Ron Howard. I remember it was one of the worst reviewed movies of that year. When I originally saw it, I was in 5th grade and I remember seeing it in a sold out theater. I still think the make-up is beyond effective. But it is kind of a goofy movie, although I am not sure its still one of the worst movies of that year.

The Grinch story is pretty straightforward story. There is a place called Whosville, and the Who race of that town LOVE Christmas. They spend many a time decorating, buy, selling, wrapping, cooking, baking, all-things Christmas. There is also a Wh- or whatever The Grinch is, there's a green monster who lives in a cave-of-sorts on the outskirts of Whoville and he despises Christmas. So much so that he plans to steal the holiday away from the Whos. His plan is successful, but instead of feeling despair, the Whos embrace what the holiday actually means, which changes The Grinch's feelings on the holiday as well. It's a story we know and it is easily digestible.

Illumination doesn't really try to reinvent the wheel here. They've certainly added content that, if I remember correctly, wasn't in the original story by Dr. Suess or the original 1966 animated film. The film features the same exaggerated, cartoonish animation we've come to expect from the studio. There is a lush, colorful quality to it that is quite beautiful. Just like the "Despicable Me" movies. Movies like this come out to appease the children. They will love the animation, they will love the goofy nature of the movie, they will love the laughs. 

I'm sure all audiences will get a kick out of it. I for one, laughed quite a bit throughout the film. There are a bunch of funny situations in the movie. Benedict Cumberbatch's voice work is, as expected, incredible. Cumberbatch has got one of those voices that would be perfect for the character, and trust me, he uses it well. He helps set the fun mood of the entire movie. The scenes added to the movie are set in order to make you laugh. This is a movie that aims only please.

Because of that aim, its really hard for me not to recommend it. Its a great holiday movie and a wonderful movie to watch with your family this season.

FINAL GRADE: B

Bigger Captain Marvel trailer

Last night during Monday Night Football, Marvel dropped a longer "Captain Marvel" trailer. Oh man, is really awesome. We get a bigger glimpse of Carol Danvers, and watching her in action with her powers is pretty sweet. It looks like she takes on an entire galactic fleet of some kind by herself, and like I said, its freaking cool.

We get some glimpses of Samuel L. Jackson, looking eerily young thanks to today's CGI, Annette Benning and Jude Law. We learn that Skrulls are going to play a big role in this movie, as the trailer opens with Captain Marvel fighting an old woman. It also looks like the movie will take place during the Kree-Skrull War, a very popular storyline from Marvel comics. Where Earth got caught in the middle of a space war between two alien empires. If you've been watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." then you've already learned a little bit about the Kree from that show. They also appeared in the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie.

I have to say that this looks really cool.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

I say the Avengers 4 trailer is imminent. I just don't know how soon.

The new year will be upon us shortly, and with it a new slew of movies we look forward to devouring in the upcoming year. One of those movies that we are all hotly anticipating is, no doubt, "Avengers 4." We know it won't be called "Avengers 4" but that's the working title right now. In October 2014, it was announced that "Infinity War" would be two parts, but after some work, Marvel told us that they are two separate stories and that "Avengers; Infinity War" will just be Infinity War and the fourth Avengers film would have a separate title. Even though its said that the main antagonist will once again be Thanos.

I am not going to tapdance around spoilers. The movie came out in April, it seems like nearly the whole world saw it in theaters. Its available to buy on DVD right now. If you are reading this, you've most likely seen the movie. There's a reason why Thanos is returning. Since "Thor: The Dark World" Marvel has been teasing the Infinity Stones and the gauntlet, a powerful resource that allows the user to become a god. Since 2012, Marvel has teased Thanos, and made it clear he's looking for the stones. In the comics, Thanos collects the gauntlet, the stones and kills half of life in the universe. In the movie, he did exactly that. He collected the stones, he snapped his fingers. Now half the universe is gone and the heroes who are left are now wallowing in their defeat. Whatever happens in "Avengers 4" our heroes are getting some payback.

Information has been abysmal at best. We don't even know the title of "Avengers 4" yet because it would spoil the movie according to Marvel. We usually get a new Marvel movie in May, and so we usually get the trailer for the movie the November before. Fans have been patiently waiting for a trailer to hit this month, and yet it hasn't happened yet. Marvel President Kevin Feige has said that we will get the "Avengers 4" trailer before the end of the year. But people want it now. There is also another piece to this puzzle. Marvel will release a prelude comic, giving a small preamble of events before the movie leading up to the May release. The first prelude comic is being released on December 5th 2018. That's next week. There has been a prelude comic book for each MCU movie. We will have to know the title by then right? The comic book is going to have the title of the movie on it, right? Usually, a trailer is released before the prelude comic, so fans can get a taste of what to expect. Will Marvel release this prelude cold turkey?

There was a special event last night. Avengers Directors Anthony and Joe Russo hosted a special screening of "Avengers: Infinity War" last night with a Q&A with the directors afterward. When that was announced, fan theories went into overdrive. Everybody was sure we'd get a trailer yesterday. Everybody was sure people in attendance of the event would see the "Avengers 4" trailer. Or, at the very, very least, get the mysterious title. Here's what happened according to someone who was in attendance last night:




Man. Now that's what I call secrecy. There was absolutely no discussion of "Avengers 4" at all!

And...there was this...




I'm sure fans in attendance of last night's events were pissed. Hell, even I can't wrap my head around the point of getting the directors together for a screening of a movie everyone's seen already if they weren't going to dish something about "Avengers 4," literally what's the point? No new information on "Avengers 4." No trailer. No title. Nothing. And the revelation that we didn't get the trailer last night (as you all know) and we won't get it today at all. The Russo brothers are really keeping their fanbase on pins and needles. I know there is outrage everywhere on social media. Many fans were so sure we'd get the trailer by today. Now that's not even a possibility.

My guess? It will drop Friday or sometime over the weekend. With the prelude comic coming out on the 5th of December, I would be surprised if we DON'T get the trailer by the weekend. I will also be surprised if we get no trailer and they release the prelude. Maybe they will release the trailer, title and prelude comic all on the same day. All I know is, it isn't 2019 yet, so technically nobody has lied yet.

But I'd be lying if the suspense isn't killing me...

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Review: Kurt Russell dazzles in the ordinary "Christmas Chronicles"

The Christmas Chronicles Review
If Netflix has proven anything in 2018, its that they are really starting to push their budgets towards some big material, and they are really starting to draw some big, exciting names into their playhouse. I still really love "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" by the Coen Brothers. I never would have guessed that the Coen Brothers would make something for a streaming service, but never say never, huh. Not only that, but their movie could very well end up in the Oscar race, which would be big for the streaming service. We are also getting "Roma" and "Mowgli" later this year, and those feel a little bit bigger than average for the streaming service. They seem to be moving forward in a big way, making some ambitious choices.

I can see that even more with "The Christmas Chronicles," a big-budget Christmas spectacle. A movie that has a dozy of a Kurt Russell performance in it. Its a movie you can curl up on the couch with your whole family to watch. Which I am sure will appeal to many. There are moments of laughter, and moments of sincerity. Its the perfect type of movie to watch with your family this year. And when you don't have to brave the cold weather (the snow and the cold sure came early in the Midwest this year), and when you don't want to pay so much for movie tickets and snacks, this can be a wonderful alternative.

I'm sure kids will find much of it funny. What will parents think? Well, I am sure it depends on the adult in question. Some may think its a Disney Channel movie that's a little quirkier than usual. Darby Camp and Judah Lewis play Kate and Teddy Pierce. They are two siblings who have had a happy home for many years, that happiness is rattled with the sudden death of their father. Teddy, the oldest, becomes a rebellious sort, and a bit of a juvenile delinquent. Kate is still very much wrapped up in the magic of Christmas, simply because it makes her think of her father so much. One night, the two are home alone as mom has been working much harder to support her children. When Kate thinks she sees Santa Claus, the siblings hatch a plan to capture him at their house when he comes down the chimney.

Sure enough, they capture Santa Claus, and after some running around chasing him through their neighborhood, Santa has lost his reindeer and is sleigh. The problem is Santa, played by Kurt Russell, has only a few hours left in order to deliver the rest of the presents around the world. If he fails, people will begin not to believe in him. A non-belief in Santa Claus led to the Dark Age and some other darker moments of our history, so Santa can't stress enough how important it is. So he enlists the help of the Pierce children to find his items.

The movie that follows is pretty straight forward. Like I said it plays like a Disney Channel type movie. Even a kind of Halmark type episode. All of the movie's big themes are easy to follow. The big reveals can be seen a mile away. There is nothing that is going to surprise the audience here. Even the ending cameo is easy to pinpoint. What makes the movie fun is just how much fun Kurt Russell is having as Santa Claus. It's pretty clear that he's having a ton of fun, so the audience goes along with him. This is a Santa Claus that will steal a sports car to catch up with his reindeer. This is a Santa that knows your history and thoughts. He will tell you what is a myth about his mythology and what is fact. It's a fun, modern interpretation. Had the movie focused on this different Santa and not brought in the cliche storyline with the children, I think the movie would have been stronger overall.

But let your families decide this film's history in the family movie pantheon. This could be a big step forward for Netflix and I can't wait to see what others think of this one.

FINAL GRADE: C