Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Animated Spice Girls Superhero Movie?

So I can't say that I was a Spice Girls fan, but their popularity in the 1990s was unavoidable. They took pop music by storm as I growing up. I remember "Spice World" was a movie that came out in 1997. It was panned by critics but I don't really remember its box office intake. I couldn't imagine what fans felt when the girls broke up in the early 2000's. I figured "Spice World" would be a movie of its time and we'd never see anything like it again from the Spice Girls.

Today, there is a massive demand for superheroes. So, I suppose that it doesn't surprise me that we are going to get a Spice Girls movie where they will voice superheroes?

Yep. It's apparently happening.

All five spice girls have signed on their likeness for the animation as well as their voices for this superhero movie. There are no other details at this time.

Did anybody ask for this? Even the old Spice Girls fans? Anybody?

Review: "A Wrinkle In Time" is a mismatched quilt featuring spectacular visuals and miscast actors.

A Wrinkle In Time Review
When I was in fourth grade, my teacher taught us Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time and I also got my first case of reading Roald Dahl it was a pretty strange year for reading during that school year. I don't know how many of you read A Wrinkle In Time and if you did, if you remember it. But was actually a pretty creepy book and there was a strange feel that I am sure was entirely for children to read. That's not to say that I didn't find the story fascinating, because I certainly thought the book was that. There was an interesting blend of the fascinating, the captivating and the strange all in one story and just how blissfully L'Engle blended science with religion. It was an amazing story, but it was an odd story and while I dreamed of seeing a movie version of it, I never really knew if it would work.

There are those who do argue that any book can be adapted into a movie. But after Zack Snyder's "Watchmen" and now Ava DuVernay's "A Wrinkle In Time" I think that there are some books in this world that are impossible to properly adapt. There was something about how L'Engle used language in her original book that was a blast to read, but I could never picture it translating to a bigger screen and I seem to be dead-on in that regard. Snyder and DuVernay made two wildly ambitious movies and there are some great moments and great ideas in both films. But both also ultimately feel limp as experiences. 

If you never read A Wrinkle In Time its a coming-of-age story (of sorts) about Meg Murphy. A teenager who is really beginning to materialize into the adult she is going to be. She's tip-toes the line between being a pain for her teachers and being a great student and she's never really been the same ever since her father mysteriously disappeared. Soon, she is visited by three incredibly strange women who transport Meg, her supernatural brother and the equally mysterious Calvin across the universe. Meg eventually finds her father and breaks him free by the bonds of The IT, a powerful evil entity.

I had never heard of Stormy Reid before seeing this movie, but I can see that she is a bright young performer. She brings an undeniable sweetness and an organic vulnerability to Meg Murphy. If Reid is planning on acting as a full-blown career then be prepared to see her name in many things in the unforeseeable future. She brings lots of talent to her first major role and she can believably play smart and resourceful. Young girls will go see this and feel empowered that someone so young can be so smart and so powerful with their reasoning. Because that's not always the case for children in movies, and Reid brings her A-game to the role. Charles Wallace, Meg's brother, is possibly one of the creepiest children in the history of popular culture, and Deric McCabe is equally powerful here. He brings Charles Wallace to an amazing life here and there were moments where I was downright shaking as he shambled about.

There is also something special about how DuVernay handles special effects in the film. In this day and age, it seems almost impossible to see something new. It seems like visual effects supervisors seem to pull from the same bag of tricks, showing us the same type of effects over and over again. There are visual effects moments in this film that redefine the incredible and DuVernay truly does something new with the visuals here. It's amazing to behold. Much like Peter Jackson created a believable, lived-in world with Middle Earth in "Lord of the Rings," DuVernay has created a wholly original world.

I wish I could say that Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey are great as the Miss's, but I think each of them is willfully miscast here. When Witherspoon's Mrs. Whatsit appears, it should have been creepy, but she seems to be overacting here and every beat is distracting. Mindy Kaling seems to be unable to do anything outside of her wheelhouse, and her Mrs. Who is a dud. Then there is Mrs. Which and Winfrey seems to be unable to really hide her Oprah persona at all in this movie. Sure, she displays a great degree of warmth in the role, but its too much Oprah and not enough otherworldly essence, which I thought was a mistake.

You can either shoot yourself in the foot or come off like a genius when you fill your movie's cast up with A-List actors everyone has heard of. Sometimes, you can run the risk of your movie feeling like an actor's catwalk instead of an actual movie. In this movie, Zach Galifinakis appears, and so does Michael Pena. And Chris Pine, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw and David Oyelowo and Andre Holland. Each and every one of them is more of a distraction than a big casting by DuVernay. None of them really display much past their usual personas that it feels like a lot of hot air. Not trying to say that I don't like any of those actors, because I definitely do, but I much like raw acting in a movie instead of movie stars behaving like movie stars.

I would have loved to see an independent version of this story coming to life. One that wasn't tied down by the biases of a studio. I think the Disney brand kind of hurt this adaptation, because there is always a feel-good quality to much of Disney and I think that hurts what could have been a more decent adaptation. I think DuVernay took some big chances here, and I think some of those chances pay off. But sadly this just feels like more Disney fluff, which is not the feeling you should get from a "A Wrinkle In Time" adaptation. She picked a stellar young cast, and I can't wait to see what each of these young actors do in the future, and I am a bit baffled that its the veteran cast that fumbles the ball so dearly here. There is so much to love about this movie and yet so much that kind of stinks that is a lovely frustration of a movie. But I am curious to see what DuVernay does the next time she steps up to make a blockbuster.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Guess Who Will Turn Up in "Captain Marvel"

Over the summer, we learned a few things about Marvel's "Captain Marvel." This was going to be the first female lead Marvel film in the MCU. We also learned a few years prior that Academy Award winning actress Brie Larson would be cast as Carol Danvers, the woman who would become Captain Marvel. It was a great bit of casting and now we got some other tidbits.

The things we learned over the summer included that The Skrulls would appear. Which was a property thought to belong exclusively to Fox Marvel since the Skrulls are mainly a villain of the Fantastic Four. The film was also going to be set in the 1990's and would include Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Today, some big casting pieces were given, proving once more that we are going back in time. Today, Clark Gregg was confirmed to return as Agent Phil Coulson. Lee Pace was to return as Ronan The Accuser, the villain from "Guardians of the Galaxy." Djimon Hounsou, who played Ronan's right-hand man in "Guardians of the Galaxy" will also be returning.

In the comics, there was a huge Marvel story arc involving a war between The Skrulls and The Kree alien races, I wonder if we will get a little glimpse of that war? Ronan and Korath, who Hounsou plays, are both Kree aliens. So, I wonder if we will get a glimpse of that war? Even though the film is set in the 1990's, I wonder if the movie will begin to bridge the gap between the MCU movies and the MCU TV shows better? It's all certainly possible.

I can't wait to see it!

Review: "Pacific Rim: Uprising" reaches for greatness, but can't quite touch it.

Pacific Rim: Uprising Review
I loved the original "Pacific Rim" by Guillermo del Toro. It's a movie that was much superior than what was expected. I remember when the movie came out, it was dubbed "Transformers vs. Godzilla in a bathtub." While I personally laughed at this designation, it's also oversimplifying what del Toro did. Guillermo del Toro made a fun action movie with a personal edge and a little more to it than the regular summer action movie. I loved that we were thrown into a world where monsters came out of the ocean floor and attacked us. I love how the world adjusted to these invasions. I love the glimpses of the black markets and religions that generated out of the kaiju invasions. Del Toro put his personal signature on the movie, and as with all of his movies, he made it delightfully weird.

It's a tall order to make a sequel to any Guillermo del Toro movie without him writing the script or sitting in the director's chair. He is so delicate in the way he mixes the weird with the personal and the emotional that it's a very difficult task. Steven S. DeKnight made a name for himself, for me personally, at the beginning of the decade. "Spartacus" is delightful, yes it's also vulgar and vile, but its delightful. I take pride in owning every single season and go through a power run each year. I loved the show. And for all the sex, violence and cursing, it's a show that still had heart and soul. DeKnight also went on to create the first season of "Daredevil," a very different show compared to "Spartacus," but he did the same thing he did to "Spartacus" that he did for "Daredevil." Something the movie never got right, he gave Matt Murdock a soul, a reason to be a hero, a conflict to overcome. Now, in 2018, DeKnight makes his movie directing debut with this sequel.

"Pacific Rim: Uprising" is a movie filled with some good ideas. I am actually a little surprised by what works here. There are some story threads that were actually ripe for a good story for a sequel to this, and DeKnight is talented enough that he almost runs with it. He isn't afraid to get his weird on here, and if you are even going to attempt to imitate Guillermo del Toro, getting your weird on is a necessity. He's got a great cast to work with here, all of whom bring their A-game and the visuals are pretty good. Though I will say that they weren't on the level that they were in the first film. The thing is, once DeKnight feels like he's revved up his engine, he abruptly decides to turn off the car altogether and go back in the house.

"Pacific Rim: Uprising" takes place roughly a decade after the first film. John Boyega plays Jake Pentecost, who is the father of Stacker Pentecost from the first film (AKA Idris Elba). The war is over, and Jake hits the black market, designing and selling Jaeger parts. The Jaeger was the big machine used to fight the kaiju. The kaiju were giant monsters that came out of the ocean floor after an underwater rift occurred. Jake accidentally runs into Amara (Cailee Speaney) who is building her own Jaeger. They are both captured and given a choice, prison time or Jaeger trainer. It's an easy choice, and they are off to the PPDC in order to train pilots of Jaegers.

The movie surprisingly takes its time setting up the characters and motives. There is no action in the first half hour or so of movie, which also wasn't something I expected. I expected a big, visual treat-fest all the way through. But the movie does take some time to set things up. John Boyega at this point, has perfected the reluctant hero and it seems like he's almost type cast as the guy who doesn't have the heroic courage until he can no longer make his own choices. He does it well though, can't take that away from him. He has good chemistry with Speaney, who surprises big time here and also Scott Eastwood, who seems to be willingly morphing into his father at this point. Charlie Day returns for this one, the only returnee from the first film. But he's much different here, as a corporate shill trying to create drone Jaegers that will make the original ones obsolete. He's completely different here, yet he still made me cackle.

Things get crazy when they start introducing rogue Jaegers and alien brains and in the middle of the movie, it seems like things are really starting to get going. But the film reaches a certain moment where it wants to stop telling a story. It gets to a point where it wants to stop dropping details. Where it wants to quit putting together ideas. Once the film reaches this point, it becomes your standard sequel. The movie boils down to a louder, bigger version of the first film, but always remaining a pale comparison of the former. The thing is, they had good ideas here, so why not explore them? Why introduce these ideas, then seemingly drop them for a "cashgrab" style sequel. Why set up a threequel when you already shot yourself in the foot?

It's always hard when people try to make a sequel to something they had no part of in the first place. But in this situation, I give DeKnight minor credit. He did what he could here, and he even strung up some good ideas. I am just a bit baffled that he didn't explore them in any significant way. Sadly, "Pacific Rim: Uprising" stands a good chance of just being another sequel, and that's disappointing all around.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

March Madness: Heroes vs Villains Four, round three

Sorry to be a day late, let's get right into this.

On the heroes side of things, there were some big surprises. Batman just barely defeated Marion Ravenwood, and Iron Man edged out Wonder Woman by only a mere few votes. They will face each other in the next round. Ferris Bueller took out Harry Callahan, and in a crazy chain of events, Shuri of "Black Panther "took out Rey of "Star Wars." Again, Shuri only won by a mere three votes, but hey, there's a reason why "Black Panther" is the top movie in America right now. For TV heroes, Arya Stark advances over Jessica Jones. Rick Sanchez edged out Daisy Johnson. Eleven defeated Worf and Rick Grimes took out Agent Dale Cooper.

For the villains side of the bracket, Saruman advances over Auric Goldfinger. Leatherface beat Regina George. Jafar loses to Erik Killmonger. And Kylo Ren was apparently just too powerful a Sith for Pennywise The Dancing Clown. For the TV villains, Lecter killed Killgrave. Simon just barely defeated Claire Underwood. The Borg surprisingly defeated Stringer Bell. Aunt Lydia got annihilated by The Night's King.

I meant to write this up last night, so I apologize for that. Because of this, this voting round will go until March 30th instead of March 29th. You can email me who you want to see advance or leave a comment in the section below.

Movie Heroes (Top Left Bracket)
Batman (1) vs. Iron Man (5)
Ferris Bueller (6) vs. Shuri (7)

TV Heroes (Bottom Left Bracket)
Arya Stark (1) vs. Rick Sanchez (12)
Eleven (11) vs. Rick Grimes (10)

Movie Villains (Top Right Bracket)
Saruman (1) vs. Leatherface (5)
Erik Killmonger (3) vs. Kylo Ren (2)

TV Villains (Bottom Right Bracket)
Dr. Hannibal Lecter (1) vs. Simon (4)
The Borg (11) vs. The Night's King (2)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Road To Infinity War: Ten Years of Marvel (Part Ten- "Guardians of the Galaxy" 2014)

Road To Infinity War: Ten Years of Marvel

Part Ten

Guardians of the Galaxy
I don’t know how many people remember when this project was announced, but it was quit the deal at the time. It seemed like too big of a risk at too fast a time for Marvel. Nobody was expecting some kind of space opera in the middle of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel fans predicted we’d see “Black Panther,” or “Doctor Strange” maybe. But “Guardians of the Galaxy?” Why would Marvel reach so far toward the bottom of their character barrel to dig them up? I mean, once people really started digging, they realized that they’d see a movie about a talking raccoon, and a Treebeard-like character who only said “I am Groot,” would characters that weird end up being entertaining?

As the film got further and further into development and production, everything around the world felt weirder and weirder. Many people thought that Marvel would drop the ball for the first time with this movie. Chris Pratt hadn’t particularly proven himself as a leading man yet (Granted, this was before the one-two punch of “The LEGO Movie” and this), and when looking at the rest of the cast; which included Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Djimon Hounsou, and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, I loved the casting but it didn’t seem like your normal blockbuster cast. That’s not particularly the cast you fill a movie with. What was Marvel thinking? The marketing for the movie was smart to not really give much of the film away, including the film’s overall attitude, no matter what the first trailer held. Could Marvel’s big bet turn into a winning hand?

The answer was yes, and that yes was huge. What looked like it was going to be filled with characters with ticks and mannerisms instead of genuine character development ended up the exact opposite. Every character was just right, in development and realization. The movie is fun, but it still makes the audience feel emotions. It still forced the audience to be at the edge of their seats. It still allowed the audience a challenge and a confirmation of their belief systems. Marvel proved on that weekend in late August in 2014 that they truly could do anything. They took a walking tree who only knew five words and gave it the most meaningful scene in the entire movie. They took that talking raccoon and made him a hilarious highlight. They took a character that made some very corny puns and gave him a powerful emotional arc. And they took a human with a close tie to his tape-player and made him a great character, while also launching the actor who played into a bigger career. No easy feat.

I’ve been told that there are no mysteries left in the world. Filmmaking isn’t structurally complicated, if you tell a story and make your audience care about the characters, you will be able to win them over. I think anybody can make a movie about anything and make it great, no matter what it is they are trying to produce. Getting your audience to fall for the characters and the story is key. James Gunn, who has been in charge of all things “Guardians of the Galaxy” since 2014, did an impeccable job of making the audience care for these characters. He also did a great job of telling a story that people would care about. He created some genuine stakes for the characters, but also told a story in a fun way. It’s not hard, and that’s the type of high that Marvel has been guiding itself with for more than a decade now.

What could have easily been just another “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” retread becomes something else entirely. I don’t think you could honestly look at “Guardians of the Galaxy” and honestly think of those two things. Sure all three of these stories take place in outer space, but just because a movie features a particular setting doesn’t automatically mean that it’s the same thing. I love that Gunn took a genre we recognize and did something totally different with it.

One of the obvious missteps is something I’ve discussed on this forum before. Lee Pace is a great actor, but Ronan The Accuser is a lame villain. He was given a fairy generic evil villain plot. He moans on and on about his backstory like some kind of WWE wrestler. He’s all talk and not much walk. Sure, the brief glimpses of Thanos in the film are well done. Further teasing the big showdown with the Infinity Stones that is about to payoff in roughly a month now. I liked Nebula and Karen Gillen did a good job here, I think she eventually got looser in the role, but that is to be expected in a first movie. Housnou is really good in his brief runtime in the movie. Benicio del Toro work as The Collector is genuinely haunting. It was amazing enjoying these performances on another viewing, But on another viewing, it becomes clearer and clearer how weak Ronan was, and just another name on a list of villains that Marvel could have done better.

But a weak villain won’t take away everything James Gunn accomplished with this movie. The best thing being was from this point on, I never second guessed Marvel. I never thought that they’d fail. No matter what their plan was in the future, no matter what their plan is moving forward after Avengers 4, it’s going to be good. It’s going to be interesting. They earned trust in a big way with the success of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Marvel has been delighting audiences ever since. Risks are great for business, no matter what. We don’t get too many risks these days. So if Marvel wants to start taking risks like this again, I sure salute it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Review: Eli Roth's "Death Wish" is yet another meaningless, needless remake.

Death Wish Review

If there ever was kind of a perfect time to remake "Death Wish" it would be right now.

After all, we are unfortunately at the head of yet another gun debate in this country. As always, I don't see any genuine change in sight. This will sadly play out as it always does, politicians and civilians will draw their lines in the sand, and savagely point fingers at the politicians and civilians on the other side of beach, claiming this is all their fault. I see very few people coming up with positive changes to this problem, just posting meaningless memes on their social media accounts and lots of ignorant name-calling. Even the independents in this country can't seem to really explain who they are and what they want.

The original "Death Wish" came out in 1974 and it starred Charles Bronson. I love the movie, and I wonder how many people would get it confused with a revenge thriller. The original "Death Wish" is NOT a revenge thriller, it's a vigilante movie. Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey, an architect with a wife and daughter whom he loves very much. One day at random, while Kersey is away from home, muggers attack his family in his home. His wife dies and his daughter is comatose. He goes to the police but they are no help. He buys a gun, learns how to use it and then goes into the night to kill criminals. He never kills the original muggers who attacked his family, in fact, we never see them again in the movie. This isn't about Kersey getting revenge. This is about a man trying to find a cure for the pain he's feeling. That painkiller was the gun he bought and the bullets he put into any criminal he could find.

I wish I could say the 2018 remake of "Death Wish" was worth your time. I wish I could say it had something significant to say about our uneasy relationship with guns right now, hell I wish it had something to say about it at all. But from the direction by Eli Roth, working from a script by Joe Carnahan, I really don't know why I figured these two sensation junkies would even remotely try to dig deep with this text. I knew they wouldn't challenge their audience. What's worst is that, as a piece of pop culture entertainment, "Death Wish" fails on that front too. This is just your standard revenge fantasy with the "Death Wish" label slapped on it. The only thing that really ties itself back to the original film is that sly finger gun that Charles Bronson did right before the credits rolled. This is the most shameless example of cashing in on a name that I cant think of.

Instead of an architect, Paul Kersey is a doctor in Chicago, Illinois in this new film. He is played by Bruce Willis. Even though I have to admit that "played by" is an understatement. Willis lurches around this movie as if he has a hockey stick shoved up his rectum. Most scenes feature Willis making awkward faces, like he's a teenager who is constipated on the toilet. He doesn't look like he's enjoying himself, doesn't look like he undertook this project for any other reason besides money. He's got the same gloomy facial structure etched on his face throughout the whole movie. When Kersey's family is attacked, his wife killed, his daughter in a coma, just like the original, he never feels or looks like Kersey goes through any genuine change. He's suddenly bent on revenge because the script calls for it, not for any type of emotional development from the movie.

Instead of being a random attack, the bad guys in this remake target the Kerseys, and the film boils down to Paul finding the bad guys who wronged him and killing him. Sorry folks, but come on, I didn't spoil anything. We all know this is how this was going to go. Safe. Predictable. Missing the entire point of the original movie. Sure, Willis kills a drug dealer who hurt a young boy in a crossfire. Sure, he kills some carjackers because he was in the right place at the right time. But all this boils down to his killing those who killed his wife. This being a movie by Eli Roth, Willis' Kersey is more of a moral slasher, killing the bad guys in interesting ways, pumping up the sound mixing. The original film was so simple, and that was a reason to why it was so successful. There was something haunting plain about a regular man with a regular handgun killing so many muggers in New York City. Here, Willis is a just a brooding version of John McClane here.

Over the years, I've seen enough revenge thrillers to know how this thing goes. It's sad that Roth and Carnahan wanted to do something painfully ordinary instead of really digging like the original film did. Sadly, this "Death Wish" isn't even entertaining. I mean, technically, the film is well made. Rogier Stoffers really created an ugly grittiness with his cinematography. Ludwig Goransson's score haunts each scene and Mark Goldbaitt really knows how to punctuate Roth's action sequences. But the technical aspects of the film don't save it from its big problems. Elisabeth Shue is fine as the wife who dies, but any actress could do it. Dean Norris doesn't get nearly as much screentime as the detective from the first film did, and I think this film could have used more Norris, and finding out how a detective adjusts to a city with a killing vigilante in it. Norris is a great actor, and he's utterly wasted here. As is Vincent D'Onofrio who plays Willis' brother. He's got a stupid subplot which is the lynchpin to why the Kersey's are attacked, and its kind of a lame way to get the movie going. But D'Onofrio acts his ass off here and its slightly admirable.

If a classic movie is really good, what's the point in remaking it? If somebody got something so great the first time, how can you honestly be pompous enough to believe you can outdo that? Obviously its for money, and Hollywood has never put creativity before credit. "Death Wish" is a movie that just plain goes through the motions, with a lead actor who hasn't been himself since 2013. Eli Roth's obnoxious style has ruined another movie, and sadly, he had nothing of substance to say.


March Madness: Heroes vs Villains Four, Sweet Sixteen

Well, the first batch of voting is in. There have already been some big match-ups and now we are moving into the Sweet Sixteen. On the heroes side, Batman advances over Andy Dufrescne, Marion Ravenwood edged out over Caesar. Iron Man beat El, Wonder Woman beat Captain John Miller, Ferris Bueller beat Aslan, Harry Callahan just edges out Luke Hobbs, Shuri beat Eggsy and Rey beat Moana. For TV heroes, Arya Stark beat Jack Pearson, Jessica Jones took out Emma Peele, Rick Sanchez beats out Offred, Daisy Jonhson beats Steve Austin, Eleven beats Coach Taylor narrowly, Worf beats Cap. Ray Holt, Rick Grimes beats Olivia Pope and Agent Dale Cooper beats Black Lightening.

On the villain side of things Saruman beats Biff Tannen, Auric Goldfinger beats Alex Forrest, Leatherface narrowly escapes Dolores Umbridge, Regina George beats Nurse Rached, Jafar beats HAL 9000, Erik Killmonger advances over Anne Wilkes, Pennywise advances over Patrick Bateman and Kylo Ren defeats Ivan Drago. On the TV side of things, Dr. Hannibal Lecter beats the Christmas Critters, Killgrave beats The Penguin, Claire Underwood beats Amanda Woodward, Simon beats Clay Marrow, The Borg beats Killer Bob, Stringer Bell beats Damien Darhk, Aunt Lydia beat J.R. Ewing, and The Night's King destroyed Al Swearengen.

The following match-ups are as followed. Voting begins tonight and will continue until March 24th. You can email me your votes or comment on the comment section below.

Movie Heroes (Top Left Bracket)

Batman (1) vs. Marion Ravenwood (9)
Iron Man (5) vs. Wonder Woman (4)
Ferris Bueller (6) vs. Harry Callahan (3)
Shuri (7) vs. Rey (2)

TV HEROES (Bottom Left Bracket)
Arya Stark (1) vs. Jessica Jones (8)
Rick Sanchez (12) vs. Daisy Johnson (13)
Eleven (11) vs. Worf (3)
Rick Grimes (10) vs. Agent Dale Cooper (2)

Movie Villains (Top Right Bracket)
Saruman (1) vs. Auric Goldfinger (8)
Leatherface (5) vs. Regina George (13)
Jafar (6) vs. Erik Killmonger (3)
Pennywise (7) vs. Kylo Ren (2)

TV Villains (Bottom Right Bracket)
Dr. Hannibal Lecter (1) vs. Killgrave (8)
Claire Underwood (5) vs. Simon (4)
The Borg (11) vs. Stringer Bell (3)
Aunt Lydia (7) vs. The Nights King (2)

Have fun voting!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

"Sicario 2" Trailer

Over the weekend was my 29th birthday. It was a momentous occasion. I went to brunch with my parents and wife, saw a movie, got lots of cool stuff. Later in the evening, my in-laws came over for some ice cream and cake. They got me a movie trivia game for my birthday, and we spent part of the evening playing the game. Of course, yours truly killed it!

There was a question that came up regarding "Sicario," a movie from 2015 that I ended up loving more than I thought it would. While the film didn't make my top ten of that year, it was certainly in the running. I dug out the movie on Amazon Prime and closed my birthday watching it with my wife. It's still a brutally brilliant drug thriller that was much better than it had any business being. That's extra impressive since the film is quite a dark piece of thriller movie-making. I never would have ever guessed we'd be getting a sequel to the movie.

Hollywood, take notes, this is how franchise filmmaking should be working. We should be more sequels to movies like this instead of taking something like "50 Shades of Grey" and turning that into a franchise.

So no Emily Blunt this time, seemingly. But Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro return for another go, it looks like we are going to get some more stark drama from over the boarder.

"Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Trailer

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. I remember the puppets, the fun and colorful world that Mr. Rogers created and just how different it was compared to other children's shows. I watched Sesame Street and Barney and many other children's shows of the time. I always thought it was amazing that there were lots of shows for children that had to have make-believe creatures in the cast, just so the children in the audience knew that what they were watching was a children's show. While Mr. Rogers had his puppets and his make-believe world, its extraordinary what he pulled off when it was one-on-one with the children in the audience. That's what made him special.

I can hardly remember much from the show, so I was a little surprised by how this trailer affected me. There is a documentary coming out this summer about Mr. Rogers and how he was able to change the world, little by little, with his low-budget, low-tech television show for kids. It looks much better than I would have ever thought to give it credit for. The reviews out of Sundance, the annual film festival which this film premiered, have been outstandingly positive. It might do you good to keep an eye out for this one, whether you grew up with him or not.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Road To Infinity War Archives

If you've been reading my blog since January, you've noticed that I've been taking a look back at all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. This is all a build up to "Avengers: Infinity War" which will be a conclusion and an accumulation of several story threads playing out across the franchise. I've been such a big fan of this franchise that it inspired me to write this big piece.

What started as a one movie per week has changed slightly. And its not entirely my fault. Marvel Studios moved the release of "Avengers: Infinity War" to April 27th instead of May. So now, I don't have as much time to watch everything. But don't worry, I rewatch everything in time. Whether its two or three movies a week, I'll get it done.

Oh and I gave it a slight name-change, Marvel hardcore fans will like it.

Here is the series so far: Enjoy.

Iron Man

The Incredible Hulk

Iron Man 2


Captain America: The First Avenger

The Avengers

Iron Man 3

Thor: The Dark World

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Guardians of the Galaxy

I'll be updating this regularly! So check back periodically!

Review: "Tomb Raider" sets a new standard for video game movies, but is far from great

Tomb Raider Review
I say this much before we really begin this review. I like video games, but I am not a huge gamer. I don’t obsessively play for hours and hours at a time, movies are my thing and I spend more hours plucking away at movies compared to games, but I do like video games. I can see why video games never go over very well when they are adapted into movies. Character development is pretty thin on video games, but that’s actually okay. It comes with the territory, because since you are the one at the controls of a character in a video game, you kind of establish a piece of yourself on that avatar. So, it can sink or swim when a movie writer is asked to give a blank avatar a personality. Not only that, but video game adaptations have felt like an afterthought to studios since the beginning, so why would it end now? I never played any Lara Croft: Tomb Raider games, so I don’t have much perspective on them.

There was some dumb fun to be had in the first half of Angelina Jolie’s movie from 2001, and after the first thirty or so minutes, then it just became dumb. I actually have the movie sitting in my parent’s house in my hometown of Peoria, and I remember getting the movie as a teenager. I am sure that more for my attraction to Jolie then it was for anything in the movie. But the sequel, yeah, I barely could make it through that one. I never would have expected to see the movie being rebooted for a new franchise, and I honestly didn’t know what to think about it.

Out of all the video game adaptations I’ve seen, I have to say that “Tomb Raider” is my favorite. Now, does that mean it’s a great movie? Not necessarily. It just means that out of all video game adaptations made so far, I like this one the most. One of the highlights of this film is how they handle Lara Croft. First of all, Alicia Vikander came to play. It seems each and every new film she stars in is a mission statement for her, how can she push herself as an actress more and more? She’s already starred in a wide-range of films, like “Ex Machina,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” “Son of Gun” and “The Danish Girl.” Here, she does her own stunts, which is pretty impressive no matter who you are. Second of all, Vikander is playing a very vulnerable Lara Croft here. The film takes its time setting up this Lara Croft, doing everything she can to forget the passing of her father, to forget the inheritance she can have at any time. There is a good portion of the movie focusing on Lara being herself, something we don’t get a lot of in action movies.

You could kind of think of this as a “Batman Begins” version of Lara Croft, and that’s definitely something that appealed to me. While I don’t agree with this sentiment, there are many out there who are tired of the more kid-friendly superhero and franchise films coming out, and perhaps this will be more up your alley. There is a heavier, more stern tone to this film. Those seeking a fun Indiana Jones-like movie should keep trucking, because that’s not what got made. The vulnerability of Vikander’s Lara Croft is what sold me on much of this movie. She isn’t an invulnerable superhero here. She isn’t a great fighter at the beginning of the movie, in fact, she isn’t a great fighter throughout the movie. That gives her time to think things through, becoming a fighter as she goes along, studying herself and her environment. When she gets hurt, she doesn’t just pop back up like nothing happens. The movie takes its time for her to assess the situation, cry and heal. It’s a movie that isn’t afraid to take its time developing Croft as a character.

The story itself? Well, it’s okay. Lara finds a hidden compartment at her home belonging to her deceased father Lord Richard Croft (Dominick West) who leads her to a remote island in Japan that holds the tomb of an ancient witch who could kill people with her very touch. Seems like there is an organization called Trinity who is obsessed with finding ancient artifacts of destruction, and if Trinity finds this dead witch, bad things will happen. Fascinated, Lara goes around the world with Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) and of course Trinity is there, lead by the always awesome Walton Groggins. It’s okay. It gets pretty predictable pretty fast. There is a scene that lifts so shamelessly from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” that I kind of laughed. Lara goes around the island, fighting bad guys with little to no effort at all. For an island that is apparently dangerous to get off, they sure wrap things up effortlessly. For an action adventure movie that has roots in Indiana Jones, it’s an oddly passive experience.

One of my biggest pet peeves of modern movies is the over-abundance of franchise building. Simply put, it’s starting to affect the way movie storytelling is being told. The end of “Tomb Raider” doesn’t feel like the conclusion to a motion picture, but more like a finale to the first season of a television show. Movies aren’t TV shows though, and it’s starting to get a little annoying when movies don’t really conclude like they used to do. It’d be nice if a studio made a franchise movie without a sequel in mind, even if that is a part of the plan. Make sense?

But hey, Walton Groggins is appropriately slimy as the bad guy, and he isn’t necessarily the mustache-twirling baddie we come to expect in movies like this. If they decide to make more “Tomb Raider” movies, then I’ll definitely be in line. I like Vikander’s vulnerable Croft and I like how they’ve humanized the characters in this movie. There are moments that are big fun, I just hoped it went deeper with its characters and premise.


Friday, March 16, 2018

The Final "Avengers: Infinity War" trailer

It's been an interesting month regarding this movie. First Robert Downey Jr had a heyday on Twitter and he revealed along with Marvel Studios that "Avengers: Infinity War" will be released on April 26th instead of in May. Essentially its getting released worldwide on the same freaking day. That put me on cloud nine. Then this morning, we get the final big look at the movie before release, and once again, its a hell of a look.

Here's some thoughts:

-Those complaining about Thanos not wearing his helmet need not worry anymore. There are several moments of Thanos in his helmet and his familiar attire. It also looks like there is going to be some backstory on Thanos. I don't think he'll fall prey to the usual trouble with Marvel villains in film. I think they'll try to make him count as a villain, which will only make the movie better.

-Whatever battle is spiraling out of control in Wakanda is probably going to be amazing.

-Despite both being absent from all advertising, please don't fret, Hawkeye and Ant-Man are both set to return for this film.

-There is a side mission in the movie involving Thor, Teenage Groot and Rocket and I can't wait.

-Pretty sure Bruce Banner is inside the Hulkbuster armor and not Tony.

-Looks like there will be two big battles, one in space with Tony, Spidey, Doctor Strange and Star-Lord and one in Wakanda. Even though it wasn't introduced in "Black Panther," I have a hunch that the final Infinity Stone, aka the Soul Stone, is in Wakanda somewhere.

- Did Loki betray Thor, or save him by giving Thanos the Space Stone. And HOLY CRAP, Thanos crushed the Tessaract to get to the Space Stone.

- In the first trailer, Thanos punched out Iron Man in his armor. In this second trailer Steve Rogers (purposely not going by Captain America in this movie) catches Thanos' hand, in the gauntlet, WITH TWO INFINITY STONES INSERTED...and still catches Thanos' hand? Thanos himself looks shocked. Has Steve been tampering with something to give him more power?

I've been waiting ten years for this, I can't wait!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Heroes vs. Villains March Madness Four- Round One

Well, the third annual March Madness Heroes vs. Villains voting begins tomorrow. The first round that is. Here is how everything is going to play out...

Voting will begin on March 16th for First Round. Second Round voting will begin on March 21st. Third Round voting will begin March 24th. Fourth Round voting will begin March 29th. The Final Four vote will begin April 1st. The Final battle between the biggest hero and the biggest villain will commence on April 5th. You can vote by emailing me at You can also vote in the comment section below. If you'd like to vote via Facebook message, that's fine too, please just let me know in advance

You will have until tomorrow (March 16th) until March 24th to vote for the first round, you can vote once a day. Spread the word.

Movie Heroes (Top Left Bracket)

Batman (1)


Andy Dufresne (16)

Caesar (8)


Marion Ravenwood (9)

Iron Man (5)


El (12)

Wonder Woman (4)


Cap. John Miller (13)

Ferris Bueller (6)


Aslan (11)

Harry Callahan (3)


Luke Hobbs (14)

Shuri (7)


"Eggsy" Unwin (10)

Rey (2)


Moana (15)

Arya Stark (1)


Jack Pearson (16)

Jessica Jones (8)


Emma Peel (9)

Offred (5)


Rick Sanchez (12)

Steve Austin (4)


Daisy Johnson (13)

Coach Taylor (6)


Eleven (11)

Worf (3)


Capt. Ray Holt (14)

Olivia Pope (7)


Rick Grimes (10)

Agent Dale Cooper (2)


Black Lightening (15)

Saruman (1)


Biff Tannen (16)

Auric Goldfinger (8)


Alex Forest (9)

Leatherface (5)


Dolores Umbridge (12)

Nurse Ratched (4)


Regina George (13)

Jafar (6)


HAL 9000 (11)

Erik Killmonger (3)


Anne Wilkes (14)

Pennywise (7)


Patrick Bateman (10)

Kylo Ren (2)


Ivan Drago (15)

Dr. Hannibal Lecture (1)


The Christmas Critters (16)

Killgrave (8)


The Penguin (9)

Claire Underwood (5)


Amanda Woodward (12)

Simon (4)


Clay Marrow (13)

Killer Bob (6)


The Borg (11)

Stringer Bell (3)


Damien Darhk (14)

Aunt Lydia (7)


J.R. Ewing (10)

Night's King (2)


Al Swearengen (15)

You can vote by emailing me at, list all the people you want to see advance in the second round. Or you can post a comment in the section below. Have fun!