Thursday, May 23, 2019

Terminator: Dark Fate Trailer

The first two Terminator movies were a lot of fun. They had the energy of Schwarzenegger, a cool concept, some pretty nifty action pieces for the mid-1980s and early 1990's, they presented a future that looked scary. Then in the sequel, they made a villain via Robert Patrick which was equally scary. Also, the special effects were pretty cool, remember for the time that is. They are great movies, movies I love quite a bit.

The third film is fair. Its nothing special but I also don't think its a complete disaster like some people. There is some corny dialogue and Schwarzenegger really leaned into it, but it is cool to see where John Connor ends up by the end of the film, that's the most exciting material in the third film. I wish I could say I liked the other films in the franchise, I wish I could recommend the Terminator series at large. But the truth is, I can't. There is a massive downshift in quality after the third film and it seems like the series has only gone downhill from here.

We've arrived at "Terminator: Dark Fate" the whatever number movie this is in the franchise, and I have to say, it looks okay? It looks fine? Yes, its awesome that Linda Hamilton is back as Sarah Connor. Yes, its cool that James Cameron is producing the film, and hopefully that means that he believed in the vision created here, and maybe that means we'll finally get a good movie. But for now, because I feel like I've been played like a fiddle for years, I can't get too worked up to see this quite yet.




 Even the action seems like its going through the motions.

I will keep an open mind like I always do, but for right now this has LOTS to live up to.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Trailer



This already got a seven minute standing ovation at Cannes today (or yesterday)

Can Quentin Tarantino do any wrong? Any whatsoever?

I'm beginning to think not.

Review: "John Wick 3" lands every single shocking punch

John Wick 3 Review
It seems like years ago when we saw John Wick (Keanu Reeves) pull Daisy the dog out of her kennel, a promise of a brand new happy life away from his wife who died of cancer. Wick was a former hitman. He met the woman of his dreams. He wanted out of the business. His handlers agreed, but at a price. Wick had to perform one last hit, a hit meant to be a suicide mission. His handlers didn't think he'd survive, but alas he did. Then something happened that we never see in movies like this, his handlers let Wick retire, asking the underworld never to bother him again. For some reason the lead handler never told his hotheaded son. His son had an altercation with Wick which lead to Wick's dog being murdered during a home invasion. Wick got his revenge, then had to kill his way back out of the life.

When we pick up with Wick on his third adventure, he seemingly hasn't stopped running with the dog he rescued at the end of the first movie. In the second movie, Wick kills a member of the High Table; a high-ranking cabal of assassins. There is now a $14 million bounty on Wick's head, and he tries to meet a member of the High Table on the other side of the world known as The Elder (Said Taghmaoui) to get the bounty waived, if he can survive to get over there that is.

The "John Wick" movies have always been relentless action movies, and I'm sure that is how they are going to stay, until the franchise no longer makes money. They stick out because of the high kinetic energy of the action scenes. Not to mention a group of all-star actors who make this movie better than it ever needed to be. This third chapter in particular includes Lawrence Fishburne, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Asia Kate Dillon, Mark Dacascos, Jason Mantzoukas, Robin Lord Taylor as well as my favorite martial artist at the moment Yayan Ruhian. That list of actors includes returning members of the franchise as well as new members, and like I said, they give it their all. They make sure this franchise counts, but they never bottle up the notion that they are having loads of fun. 

But of course the star of this franchise is still Keanu Reeves. I don't know if it was the character he was drawn to or what, but Reeves is doing some of the best work in his career. Yes, I include Nero there too. He's never seemed this alive, this rabid to doing work. I have always thought Keanu Reeves was one of those actors who seemed half-asleep in all of his movies, but there is something about Wick that has woken him up, and he's been leaving a blazing trail ever since. At this point, I can't imagine anybody else in this role except him.

It seems the action evolves with each new movie. Part of the fun of sitting down to watch each new John Wick chapter is to see how the action changes. The first two had lots of shootouts and this third film is special due to its hand-to-hand, close quarters combat. The fights have become incredibly and impeccably visceral, and they could very well rival those of "The Raid" series from Indonesia.

If this ending has anything to be concerned with, this series isn't going anywhere anytime soon. As long as the acting stays sharp and the action stays solid, this franchise isn't going anywhere.

FINAL GRADE: A   

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Review: "Climax" is both a gift and a curse in equal measure

Climax Review

By mere coincidence, I have now seen two new 2019 movies that both begin with a close-up on a TV surrounded by pop culture that gives the audience clues for what they are about to watch. The first one was "Us." As I sat in the theater to watch "Us" back in March, I did have a good cackle to myself when they did their TV close-up scene. It was funny to see the spines of VHS "The Goonies" and "C.H.U.D." and "The Man With Two Brains" and if you know those movies, its funny to reflect on how they played into Jordan Peele's thinking. It is an odd coincidence that Gasper Noe starts his film the exact same way. We see a TV watching audition tapes for dancers contending to join a dancing troupe. Surrounding the TV is a copy of "Suspiria," a copy of "Eraserhead," a copy of "Possesstion," a documentary about schizophrenia and so much more, and yes it all plays into the darkened nightmare Gasper Noe has planned for you.

If you dig international cinema, you have probably heard of Gasper Noe. He is a crazy misanthrope from France, and whether you like or dislike his movies, they stick with you. The film that put him on the map (for better or for worse) was "Irreversible" from 2002. Anybody who doesn't watch foreign movies probably knows just how notorious this movie is. Whether the smashing of someone's head with a fire extinguisher or the most disturbing, graphic and heartbreaking sexual assault ever, "Irreversible" isn't a movie you forget. Despite the imagery, it is a profound character study on we are powerless to stop our futures, and how precious time is. "Enter The Void" is a visual dream, and also highlights the weird strengths Noe possesses. I haven't seen his third film yet, but it sounds like a typical Noe movie.

His fourth film is "Climax", and much like Noe's previous movies, it speaks in the language of nightmares. But its also a hypnotic fairy tale, even from the beginning. After the TV scene with the dancers, we begin to see each dancer, and each dancer has their own style, their own mastery of a particular style of dance. Its a very interesting way to get to know the characters without any spoken words at a time. The actors are not giving words, they aren't delivering through exposition, they are telling us who they are through their dance moves. Its a bold choice and it throws us into the world of dance. Or I should say, the world of this dance troupe. The troupe has got together for a rehearsal at an abandoned school. Not only is there bumping music and dancing, but there is some after-rehearsal drinking of sangria.

Nobody knows at first that somebody has laced the sangria with LSD. That's how the movie plunges you into nightmare mode. There is a kind of "whodunit" mystery as the dancers try to figure out who among them did this to them. But when a pack of unhinged, anxiety-fueled dancers on LSD trying to solve a mystery goes about as well as you could possibly fathom that it does. And right away, Noe smothers your face in the filthy of the idea. A dancer urinates on the floor, an alleged pregnant dancer gets her stomach kicked multiple times, and at that point, Noe is just getting started. Although oddly enough, I will say this, this is probably the tamest movie Gasper Noe has ever created, and if you have any interest to the guy, this would be the perfect gateway into his career.

Most of the cast is comprised of dancers who have never acted before. The most recognizable face in the movie is Sofia Botella, who was the villain in the first "Kingsman: The Secret Service" movie and she was also in the new Mummy. The overall cast does a pretty good job selling the idea that the people all got accidentally hooked on LSD. While we don't see what the dancers are seeing, we see how their bodies begin to acclimate to the drug. For a movie that was inspired by films like "Eraserhead" and "Suspiria," I figured we'd be in for some trippy imagery. But honestly, ask yourself, what is scarier? Seeing the images of an LSD trip or watching somebody wig out DUE to an LSD trip?

I will say that despite the madness that descends on these wry dancers, it does feel overly-long watching these dancers fall further and further down the Rabbit Hole. But perhaps that's the point. The movie looks like it was made on one continuous take, the uneasy coloring of each scene, the throbbing music, is all enough to make you feel like you are there experiencing all of this with them. But if you really can't get much feeling at all watching a bunch of people screaming to themselves, well you are probably going to wonder what the point of it all was.

Gasper Noe is such an imagery artist that there are moments that have stuck with me throughout the movie and even when you love or hate the movies Noe makes, it seems like they stick with you no matter what. The movie stops in various places to show quotes. One reads "Life is a collective impossibility," another reads "death is an extraordinary experience" and another reads "existence is a fleeting illusion" and all three of those quotes haunts the movie in some way. This is one of the few Gasper Noe movies that wasn't boo'd out at Cannes last year, so I guess that has that going for it. With all the information presented, I will let you decide if this sounds like a great idea or not.

FINAL GRADE; C

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil trailer



A sequel no one asked for to a movie no one asked for. Hooray!

Midsommar Second Trailer

Only Ari Aster could take bright lights and colors and still make them creepy.

I did read the script for this a few months ago, and the thing I hoped for the most was that not much, if anything at all, changed from script to movie. The script I read was written two years ago, and that means there could have been an avalanche to a handful of rewrites. Thankfully, that doesn't look like the case. Perhaps A24 has given Aster some great freedom in bringing his visions together and now I am as rabid as I was a few months ago.




These trailers have been stunning, just stunning. July can hurry up and get here now!

Monday, May 13, 2019

"It: Chapter Two" trailer

So I am not entirely sure why this movie is being called "Chapter 2" because unless there is some serious editing or a big plan I am not aware of, there isn't going to be any other chapters after this. When Stephen King wrote the book, there was a time involving kids and a time when the kids grew up to fight Pennywise again. Because they didn't do a good enough job killing him as children. That was the story. So putting it in chapters seems funny.

This new trailer is longer than usual. We get a nice long look at an iconic scene from the book. Beverly Marsh visits her old home upon returning to Derry. There is an old woman who lives there and invites her in. Long story short, the old woman is Pennywise in disguise, in the books Beverly was afraid of the old witch from Hansel and Gretel and her old home eventually begins to look like the sweet house from the book. Also, in the book, the tea she drinks is actually shit. Literal shit. Because you know, Pennywise lives in the sewers and all. In the trailer, Bev makes a strange face after taking a sip of the tea, so I wonder if they left the shit in the movie?

The trailer is very affective and I am curious to see how they end it. According to interviews, tons of iconic stuff from the book is getting put into this new movie and I think fans are going to be blown away by what they are about to see.


Review: "Long Shot" is a perfect mix of raunchy and romantic

Long Shot Review
We all have that one that got away. That person who you fell hard for, the one that could have possibly changed the entire trajectory of your life had you just asked them out. Our lives are just a series of moments and how we react to those moments defines who we are. We rarely get second chances in anything, so we usually have to get it right the first time, and we sometimes don't even know what that first time is, and how to even get it right.

Seth Rogen plays Fred Flarsky, a journalist who is down on his luck after being released from his employer after a shady article. By chance, he meets an old flame while out with his new employer. That old flame is Charlotte Field, played by Charlize Theron. Field just so happens to be the Secretary of State. When they were young, Field babysat Flarsky, and Flarsky developed a huge crush for his babysitter. So much so that he worked up the courage to kiss her. This led to an embarrassing set-back that changed his life forever and he never got a chance to see Field afterward, until then. Field is Secretary of State for President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk, funny as always) who has decided to go make a career in Hollywood instead of run for a second term, which leaves the door open for the 2020 election, and Field is planning on running. She hires Flarsky to write her speeches after reading some of his columns, which may spark a romance.

Of course, this starring Rogen, Theron, Odenkirk and even O'Shea Jackson Jr, this isn't the ordinary romantic comedy. Sure, it may be structured like the typical romantic comedy. But allow me to assure you that its anything but. This is the raunchiest comedy to come out in awhile. As Flarsky takes the job to write the speeches, him and Field reconnect. They get to know each other, trying to pick up where they left off. They eventually discuss more personal stuff and take their relationship to the next level. The sex scenes feature some of the dirtiest humor I've seen in awhile, but it was kind of welcoming. I thought the R-rated raunchy comedy had died, apparently it was only on vacation. With Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron in the charge (and she's actually slyly funny when given the chance) this becomes better than average.

The work done by Rogen and Theron is really what keeps the thing going. Sure, they are surrounded by a great supporting cast. There are plenty of great actors who pop up here and there, but the focus is on Rogen and Theron, and they keep you laughing. As far as Rogen's persona is concerned, well you are either in or your out at this point. Most comedy guys stick to a routine, for better or for worse. Rogen isn't reinventing himself here, so if you don't like his style, he isn't going to redeem himself. I personally find him funny, so it didn't bother me. Charlize Theron continues to prove that she can literally do anything she wants, all the power to her.

Bonus points are rewarded to June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel who play Field's staffers. They appear as typical antagonists towards Flarsky, the type of characters we usually see populating this kind of comedy. But their characters get a couple of twists, and they are flat out funny. They take characters who are rather one-dimensional and breath life into them and the results are spectacular.

For a sub-genre that has played it safe and has repeat itself many times over the years, "Long Shot" feels like fresh air. A glass of cold water after spending a month on a desert plain. Its a goofball time, and it turns on the sleaze to high volume in some places. But if that comedy works for you, this is something to catch ASAP.

FINAL GRADE :B+

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

HBO's "Watchmen" trailer

Okay, so this isn't movie news, but HBO is releasing a series based on the "Watchmen" graphic novel. For anybody who doesn't know, "Watchmen" was a graphic novel written by Alan Moore in the 1980'S, and it kind of blew comic book material wide open. It was a story that helped usher in a "darker" age for comic books, but it won many major awards. It allowed people to treat comic books like real literature, to take it seriously. It is widely regarded as a wonderful piece of work. Its one of those stories I actually deemed unfilmable.

The only person to try is Zack Snyder, and while he gave a valiant effort and while his cast did what they could, something felt off about it. It shouldn't really have looked like a regular comic book movie and all the green-screens and slow motion action scenes felt like they didn't belong, it felt a disjointed as a story. Its just that the whole endeavor felt off. It took a long to get the movie off the ground and it still just felt off.

The HBO series isn't an adaptation of the movie, but a sequel to the book. I think at least, the information is very minimal at this point. Telling from the trailer though, it looks like a world that takes place after Rorschach's journal is published in the New Frontiersman. Plus Adrian Veidt is played by Jeremy Irons, so it has to be a much later period in the timeline. It looks like the journal has inspired a militia. The trailer really doesn't give much story away, but its high on Easter Eggs




I am a huge fan of the book, and I guess I am curious to see where this leads.

Monday, May 6, 2019

My Entire Take on The Infinity Saga

"Avengers: Endgame" continues to climb at the box office. They say it could surpass "Avatar"

But, that really doesn't matter to me. I've loved movies with poor box office results, I'd still love this franchise if it made no money at all. This franchise has pushed a button in me that no modern franchise filmmaking has in a long time, and that is something special.

I am sure at this point, you may be feeling a little fatigued by the overabundance of praise being leaped onto this film. It's partially because its a franchise that is truly first of its kind. Hollywood is hungry for some of that shared universe money, but Marvel is the only one that's really getting it right and staying persistent. It's also partially because we generally love great stories and part of a good story is an end. It's tough to get an ending this days, it seems our pop culture is required never to end, because money speaks louder than creativity, and as much as people say they are sick of something, that something still manages to make money. So who is really at fault there? Thinking of "Avengers: Endgame" from beginning to end, from the first "Iron Man" movie to this latest Avengers tale, it makes me appreciate "Endgame" much more, and it shows off just how well structured it all was.

I have one more post to give. This will be the last time I mentioned this stuff until July, and then until we finally get some concrete plans for the future. I wanted to put all of my Marvel Cinematic Universe reviews all in one place, so you can easily come and find them. Just so you can have them all in one spot from beginning to end. I reviewed pretty much all the releases in a timely manner when I started my blog in 2013, then last year I went back and reviewed all the movies that came out prior to my blogging days as a sort of warm-up to the release of "Infinity War." Now, they are all in one spot. So you know my perspective on the whole story, from beginning to end.





























Phew, what a bunch of words.

And now...after some serious thinking. I have ranked all 22 films so far in the MCU. This is just my dinky opinion, so please don't bark at me if I don't prefer your favorite film.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Black Panther
3. Avengers: Endgame
4. Avengers: Infinity War
5. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
6. The Avengers
7. Iron Man
8. Captain America: Civil War
9. Guardians of the Galaxy
10. Captain America: The First Avenger
11. Thor: Ragnarok
12. The Incredible Hulk
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Ant-Man
15. Thor
16. Doctor Strange
17. Captain Marvel
18. Iron Man 3
19. Avengers: Age of Ultron
20. Ant-Man & The Wasp
21. Iron Man 2
22. Thor: The Dark World

I've written hundreds and hundreds of words on my love of this franchise, now its history's turn to show just how powerful piece of art it really is. I'm officially done in print with this chunk of the universe. I can't wait to see what's next.

Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer



There is a big indicator for me, one that blinked in my eyes like oncoming headlights, and it was a signal to me personally. It was a promise that superhero movies are going to continue to evolve and get weirder, they are going to continue to embrace all of their comic book roots. Honestly, I couldn't be happier.

In 2019, it seems really weird to think that nineteen years ago, the first "X-Men" movie hadn't quite been released yet, but I read that studio execs were shit-talking it behind filmmakers and actors backs. They were ready to write it off completely after it bombed at the box office. It was going to bomb, right? The only superheroes we'd really seen onscreen up to that point were Superman and Batman, and the popularity of both of those franchises heading into the new millennium was up for debate. While yes, Blade was a comic book character, those movies were always more of the realm of action and horror, and not so much of the superhero variety. The business was very hesitant about superheroes at that point, and the idea of making a superhero movie was a practical joke. "X-Men" did make money though, then "Spider-Man" made money in 2002. It was that one-two punch that really hit the ground running, making studios believe that superheroes could be box office smashers.

Today, superheroes are common place. We've seen various origin stories of our favorite heroes. We understand what makes each hero different. We've seen serious takes on these characters and we've seen more family-friendly fare. We've seen adaptations of most characters from the leading comic book distributors; DC and Marvel. But on the other hand, we've seen some deconstructionist fare along the way too. Its come to the point where I don't think there are many superheroes in print left who don't have a movie or TV show on the air now. So much so, that they've gone completely mainstream. You don't need to be a comic book nerd to get these characters anymore, to understand them. It's funny looking back on many of the early superhero movies, because they feel so small in scale. Its funny watching the first X-Men movie and watch Iceman only use his powers to cool people's drinks, then fourteen years later he is turning his entire body into ice and creating that little ice surf thing he does in the comics. We've come a long way.

Now that we've come so far, its time to figure out how we keep the audiences coming back. We had to earn the comic book weirdness that seems commonplace now. No way in hell would a movie like "Infinity War" or "Endgame" or "Into The Spider-Verse" work twenty years ago. It took time to get here, and while many thought that the last twenty years of watching superheroes come to life was the perfect time to be a fan of this stuff. I disagree. Whatever is coming next, that's going to be the best time. Because we are going to see this little sub-genre totally unhinged. The new Spider-Man movie is playing with the Multiverse and that is a spectacular and mightly ambitious place to take Spider-Man. But Marvel has firmly earned our trust. They take the silliest of ideas and wring development and emotion from them. No doubt, they will do the same here.

I am very excited to see how Spidey bounces off Nick Fury. I am curious to see how Jake Gyllenhaal handles Mysterio and just how different Mysterio is going to be from his comic book counterpart. No matter what, this looks great.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Sonic The Hedgehog trailer

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This might be old news at this point, but I finally watched the trailer for the upcoming "Sonic The Hedgehog."

I remember a decade ago, my older brother put the original Sonic The Hedgehog on our Wii and we played quite a bit. It is, retrospectively, a very silly game. There is a blue hedgehog that lives on an island. He collects coins. He fights a mad scientist with a weird mustache. Its a very silly idea for a game, which is why it works so well in game form. Perhaps that's why so few video game adaptations work as movies.

Jim Carrey is playing that mad scientist named Doctor Eggman, and he is hamming it up in the trailer the only way Carrey knows how to do. I wish this movie leaned into that absurdity a little bit more, because it could probably work better overall. I don't get when a movie similar to this gets made, they have to pair the title character with a human. Usually studios do this for normalcy, or because they want the audience to identify with somebody. But look, not everybody can make "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" In fact, its been proven very few can. So I am not sure why they continue to try.

This looks fairly by-the-numbers.

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Deep Dive Into The Spoilers of "Avengers: Endgame"

So yesterday was pretty fun. Especially since I finally got to see "Avengers: Endgame." The spoiler free review I wrote was nice, but I felt like I barely talked about the film itself. "Avengers: Endgame" is one of those movies where you really need to discuss the text in order to really appreciate its achievements and lament its failures. So let's take a deep dive into spoilers, huh?

The Plot
I felt yesterday that I could barely talk about the plot of the movie without giving away some major twists of the film. Also because it feels like there are two movies at play here. Like I said yesterday, the first half could be described as a comic book episode of "The Leftovers." The heroes are trying to figure out how to find Thanos. While investigating, they find energy waves similar to those found on Earth after Thanos' snap on another planet. So Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Banner, Rocket, War Machine, Nebula and Captain Marvel (who just got to Earth after bring Tony Stark and Nebula home) pay Thanos a visit. Stark is still recovering from his weak state from space, so he doesn't come along. When the find Thanos, he admits to destroying the stones, an act that nearly killed him. There is absolutely no way to revert his snap. In Thor's anger, he kills Thanos. Not a bad twenty-minute movie, huh? Time to go home?

Except the movie picks back up five years later. Stark and Pepper are finally married, and have a daughter named Morgan. Thor has brought the remaining Asgardians home (all of whom apparently escaped Thor's original encounter with Thanos) and are living in a fishing community in Norway. Among the survivors were Valkyrie, Korg and Miek! We finally catch up with Hawkeye, who lost his family to the snap, and has become a ruthless vigilante, basically punishing criminals for not turning to dust, while so many innocent, decent people did. The rest of the Avengers are just trying to cope, something that's been hard five years later.

Did you see "Ant-Man and The Wasp?" Good. Remember during the mid-credit scene when Hank Pym, Janet Pym and Hope send him into the quantum realm and then get dusted by Thanos' snap so they can't bring him back? Well, Ant-Man finally escapes the quantum realm. While he's been gone for five hours, he quickly notices that Earth has passed five years. He realizes through his time in the quantum realm that time travel is possible and that they can travel back, retrieve the stones and reverse Thanos' snap that way. It takes some convincing to Stark, the best mind who can actually create a time machine, onboard. But he does join his old team.

The next half of the movie feels like a Marvel Cinematic Universe greatest hits CD. The Avengers split into teams and go around time collecting the stones. We relive scenes from the first "Avengers" movie from 2012, "Thor: The Dark World" from 2013 and "Guardians of the Galaxy" from 2014. We also see stuff in a much different light. Its also a fairly shameless character walkway, as we see various characters from the MCU popping up here and there. The plot device that referred to in my review yesterday was in fact time travel. Time traveling seems to work differently in the MCU and while everything is well-explained, it basically says that the current timeline will change or be tampered with as long as The Avengers return all the stones after they done using them. Even though the Avengers fail here and there to get the stones. It's a very, very, very convenient explanation to the use of time travel without any of its affects we've seen throughout pop culture, a defining "take your cake and eat it too" explanation. But "Avengers: Endgame" was so ambitious and so relentlessly entertaining that I can shake off the messy time travel explanation. I've been a diehard fan of this series, and perhaps that's why I am able to meet this movie halfway with its few flaws. Not only was this a true culmination of the first twenty-two films of the MCU, its a celebration of the franchise.

Blink and you'll miss them
Would it really be that big of a spoiler to tell you that the good guys DO collect all the stones? This is a superhero movie, "Infinity War" was "Empire Strikes Back" so obviously "Endgame" works like "Return of the Jedi." The Avengers are successful eventually in getting the stones. Stark makes his own gauntlet and they agree to have Hulk try to snap all the dead back, since he's strongest and the stones are powered by a type of gamma radiation. Hulk nearly dies, but he pulls it off. Not before 2014 Nebula takes the place of present-day Nebula and uses the Avenger time machine to get Thanos and a massive army to attack Earth. Thanos, armed with a giant sword, brings his Black Order (remember, they are from 2014, so they weren't dead yet) as well as the Chitauri (who the Avengers fought in the first Avengers film), The Outriders (who they fought in Wakanda in Infinity War), The Sakaarans (who were enemies in Guardians of the Galaxy) to Earth to get the stones.

When all hope seems lost, we see all too familiar golden circles appearing behind Captain America. Not only is Doctor Strange bringing in all the heroes who got dusted in Infinity War (Star-Lord, Mantis, Drax, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Falcon, Bucky, Groot, Scarlet Witch and Wasp) but Wong brings many of his fellow sorcerers to the battle. Black Panther brings Okoye, Shuri, M'Baku and a massive Wakandan army. Valkyrie brings an army of Asgardian soldiers, along with Korg and Miek. Also the Ravagers come to help fight. Oh and Pepper Potts finally suits up as Rescue, a Mack suit Stark made for her. If you thought certain heroes meeting for the first time and the giant battles in Infinity War were awesome, just wait until you see nearly every hero and secondary character the MCU has to offer all in one scene, fighting a massive battle.

I can't explain the scene to save my life. In fact, I want to see the movie again just so I can really focus on the scene. The movie throws so much at you in its final twenty minutes that it literally is mind-boggling. I will say that the scene is so cool that I wish we got more people in. Where's Stakar Ogord and his Ravagers team? Where's Nakia? In the comics, Nick Fury enters big battles with a gun bigger than he is, where was that? Hell, I would have even taken Sharon Carter. There will definitely be a conversation had with Marvel fantics about what would have been even more badass to see, regarding this big battle scene.

He is worthy
There's that great scene in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," after Stark throws a big party. All the Avengers are sitting around Thor's original hammer, the Mjolnir. They all take turns trying to pick it up, see if they are worthy. They all fail miserably. Captain America, however, nudges the hammer. But he doesn't lift it. Many people have said that Cap isn't worthy. This is something I've been arguing against for years now. You are either worthy of the power of Thor, or you are not. There is no middle ground. Cap wouldn't be able to nudge it if he wasn't worthy. But he knows deep down what this power means to Thor, and how seriously he takes the responsibility. He'd never want to show-up one of his friends, so Cap has been pretending not to be worthy this whole time.  That is precisely why he's Captain Freaking America, because he makes decisions like that. Captain America was worthy of the hammer in the comics, he's used it many times in the books. I knew it was only a matter of time before movie Cap finally picked it up. In "Avengers: Endgame," Thor and Rocket travel back to "Thor: The Dark World" to collect the reality stone. While there, Thor gets his mjolnir back. At the end of the movie when Thanos attacks, Iron Man, Cap and Thor fight Thanos before all the other characters show up. In this three-on-one fight, Cap FINALLY PICKS UP MJOLNIR. Thor happily blurts out "I knew it!"

So did we, Thor. So did we. Finally after years and movies waiting for it. We finally got it.

It really is all connected
Since 2013, many networks have worked on television shows that take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We have got "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." on ABC. "Agent Carter" ran for two seasons also on ABC. Netflix had shows about Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and The Punisher. Hulu currently still has "The Runaways" going. Finally, Freeform still has seasons of "Cloak and Dagger" running. All of them taking place in the greater universe with the movies.

That interlocking continuity never felt like a two-way street though. In the shows, sometimes a minor character from the movies would guest-star, or a name from the movies would get dropped. Or certain things from the movies would affect aspects of a show. But he shows never seemed to affect the movies. For the longest time, many fans thought they had been duped. Maybe these shows don't really take place in the greater MCU.

Well, that can be officially put to bed now. Stark and Cap time travel to a S.H.I.E.L.D. base in 1970 to gather the Space Stone. While there, Stark has a run in with his dad, Howard Stark, before he was born. Its an oddly beautiful scene. But the geekiest part was that the actor who plays Edwin Jarvis, the Stark family loyal butler, is the same actor who played the character on "Agent Carter" for two seasons. (James D'arcy is the actor's name) For the first time in these movies, a TV character and actor have crossed over from TV show to movie. It is finally a two-way street. I can only hope that there will be a greater connection between the shows and the movies going forward! It really is all connected, and not for marketing reasons!

Life, Death and The End
The film's epic final battle finally comes to an end when Stark uses the stones to make Thanos and his army disappear. He is successful and Thanos finally dies, with all life he took throughout the universe restored. The rub though, and this is when things got really emotional, is that using the stones mortally wounded Stark and while Spider-Man and Pepper all have final moments with Stark and as his fellow Avengers look on in dismay, Stark dies. The scene, as well as the funeral scene afterward, had many people in my theater (including me) tearing up and crying. I've read about crying in may auditoriums all over the place. Robert Downey Jr was the face of this franchise for many years. It rebooted his career, he got the MCU off and running. Not only that though, but he set the tone for the style of the MCU as a whole. This entire franchise owes so much to Robert Downey Jr and the great work he did bringing Iron Man to life. Believe me, everyone was feeling it in the theater.

Before the battle, Hawkeye and Black Widow go to retrieve the Soul Stone from Red Skull. If you remember from Infinity War, you must sacrifice a soul for a soul. That is why Thanos brought Gamora to get it, he had to kill her in order to get the Soul Stone. We know how close Hawkeye and Black Widow are to each other. No, their relationship was never romantic, but they were such tight friends, they were practically siblings. But Red Skull makes it clear that they won't get the Soul Stone unless one of them dies. Hawkeye and Black Widow fight to jump off the legendary cliff. Ultimately, its BLACK WIDOW who makes it all the way down. (I guess it makes more sense now that her solo movie coming soon is going to be a prequel.) I have to say, Scarlet Johansson grew on me over the years. I actually dreaded her casting in 2009 when it was announced she'd play the character. I never cared for her much as an actress, and I vastly preferred Emily Blunt for the character. I think as ScarJo has played her, she has grown as an actress. Now, I can't imagine anybody else in the role. She did magnificent work, and I even got teary eyed as Hawkeye mourned her death.

After the battle and Stark's funeral, all seems to be going back to normal. Captain America agrees to take the stones and Thor's hammer back in time to before they took them, so that nothing damages their timeline. The thing is...Cap never comes back. Falcon and Winter Soldier spot an old man sitting near where they are. They see that its an ELDERLY CAPTAIN AMERICA. Now, some people thought this plot point didn't make sense, that its out of character for Cap, that it contradicts "Agent Carter" as a show. But Cap does indeed go back in time to have a life with Peggy Carter. The life he never got. He finally went and got that dance. It seems they married.

Now, Cap doesn't do this because he's "selfish" or any of the other names he's been called on the internet. The death of Stark struck a cord with him, and he says he decided to take his advice. He goes back for the only girl he ever loved. We also don't know what date he got back to her, SO it may not have contradicted anything we saw on the show, we will never know since it got cancelled.

"But wait, Shawn, will Cap really just sit around and watch HYDRA infiltrate SHIELD?" Well, telling from how time travel works in this movie, it seems since its future Captain America, going back, technically he beat HYDRA, helped save the world countless times and ALSO went back and got the girl he always wanted. Like I said above, "take your cake and eat it too." This scene clearly isn't working for everyone. Yes, this ending is a little rough around the edges. But you know what. Captain America has been a man out of time. He served in World War II and fell in love with a girl. He had to fly a plain into ice in order to save the world. He didn't get to be with that girl he fell in love with. He woke up 70 years in the future. He was a man out of time. He never quite fit in. Then he found out his best friend was manipulated by terrorists, that his country's defense apparatus was compromised. He's made decisions that nearly left him friendless. All while never finding true love. After all of that, Cap deserved a happy ending more than just about any other character. So even though its a flawed ending for Cap, I am so glad it was a happy one.

Also, this is happening in the future...
Yep. He passed his shield to Falcon!

There was no mid-credit scene to this film and not much set up to other movies. I mean sure, Falcon will be the next Captain. Thor appointed Valkyrie as Queen of the Asgardians and has joined The Guardians of the Galaxy in space (imagine how awesome "Guardians of the Galaxy 3" is going to be knowing this information) but that's basically it. This really felt like absolute completion to a story starting eleven years ago.

As the last few scenes play out, it is clear that the time travel stuff will make your head hurt if you think about it too much. It was weird watching Peter Parker go back to high school, catching up with Ned like nothing happened. All the while Ant-Man's daughter Cassie is five years older. It's weird that Nebula killed her past self with no consequence. We also do see Loki escape 2012 New York with the Space Stone, which prompts Stark and Cap to go back further in time. But you know what? Perhaps these are set ups for other stories. Perhaps these points will be examined in the future, we just don't know it yet. We don't know what Spider-Man will be up to once he returns this summer in "Far From Home." So for now, I am going to relax and see if anything really does come of this. If nothing does, well, superheroes have been time traveling, bending time and reality for decades. With little to no consequence. So you know what, I give the movie a little leeway. Ultimately, this is massively entertaining movie. The characters still feel perfect. The movie is ambitious, and it took some risks. I give credit for that. It is still a great blend of humor and drama and only the Russo brothers can uniquely create. I left the theater satisfied. There is no perfect movie, even the classics have some flaws or things I feel I'd do differently. So for me, I can't get too caught up in something as abysmal as how time travel works. Maybe if somebody finally gets around to inventing a time machine, maybe I'll feel differently. Point being, this was a great season finale to this first giant chunk of MCU storytelling and I look forward to the future. No matter what it looks like!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Review: A SPOILER-FREE look at "Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame Review

October 2014. A month and year that has taken up major bandwidth inside the confines of my brain. That was the month and year Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced the Phase Three slate of Marvel Cinematic Universe films. We saw that we'd getting sequels to Captain America, Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy. We heard we'd be getting introductions to new characters like Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and The Inhumans. No doubt the big announcement was we'd be getting a one-two punch of "Avengers: Infinity War." Part One was to come out in 2018 and Part Two was to be released in 2019. It made perfect sense at the time. We got a glimpse of Thanos during the mid-credits of "The Avengers" in 2012. Then the Infinity Stones got mentioned in "Thor: The Dark World" in 2013. Comic fans no doubt put two and two together, figuring out what we'd eventually be in for.

I would dream about the next five years and how this story would play out. The films of Phase Three creating an outline of detail leading up to Thanos challenging Earth's Mightest Heroes. Sure, the Phase changed a bit. We got an unexpected sequel to "Ant-Man." Once Sony began sharing rights to Spider-Man, he got a movie. Then the Inhumans movie turned into a TV show I'd rather not remember. It also seemed the quality of the Marvel Cinematic Universe only got better. All of this leading up to a point where Thanos collected all the Infinity Stones, snapped his fingers, and just like that half of life in the universe got turned to dust. That was 2018, and the in the year that followed, long time fans could only theorize how this story would end. Eventually the Part II got dropped and "Avengers: Endgame" became the title, a reference to a line Doctor Strange says in "Infinity War." There was a great marketing campaign for "Avengers: Endgame" where only very little of the three hour runtime got used in the commercials. Theories, rumors and "leaks" were abundant on the internet. Everybody curious as hell to see how this would end.

I saw "Avengers: Endgame" today. Now that I've seen the movie, I am having trouble putting words together to describe my experience. It was the movie I thought I'd see, but also not at all the movie I thought I would get in equal measure. It was a movie I didn't realize I needed, but a movie I am glad that I got. That probably doesn't make any sense, but like I said, words fail me at the moment. What I can say is that I didn't anything this good could have come from this idea. I figured the end result of this whole Infinity Saga wouldn't work both commercially and creatively. But somehow it has. The Russo Brothers, directors of both Infinity War and Endgame, stuck the landing. They were able to find story, character, theme and development in a gigantic superhero story, a story which in someone else's hands would have been a bunch of noise and chaos. They deserve big kudos for making this out with something respectable made. "Endgame" is a movie that is a tad rough around the edges, but the pros overwhelming outweigh the cons. "Endgame" is a movie that breaks it back to please the audience, but it never sacrifices story and character in the process. The audience is the winner, no doubt, and as I read people are going to the theater for seconds, this should be a nice box office take for Marvel and Disney.

Specifics on plot have been scarce at best. But essentially, merely weeks after Thanos snaps his fingers. The remaining heroes are trying to find a way to find Thanos (Josh Brolin) and get some revenge. I remember writing my original review of "Infinity War," and I had mentioned that it felt like a superhero episode of "Game of Thrones." Much of the first half of "Endgame" feels like a superhero episode of "The Leftovers," there is plenty of focus on the fallout that Thanos created. I liked that the movie paid a little attention to the world was affected by the snap.

But if you think "Endgame" is just some kind of psychological drama and character study, fear not. There is plenty of spectacle in "Endgame." I am not going to get into spoiler territory here, but the movie shifts quite a bit in its second half. I plan to write a more spoiler-heavy article tomorrow. But if you haven't seen the movie yet by chance, just know that the movie delivers on every possible comic book level. There are moments I've been dreaming of seeing forever, and I finally saw them today, and that's awesome. I will say that the movie is a little rough around the edges as it concludes. There is a plot device used in the second half of the movie that is tricky. No matter how you use it, its tricky to pull off in storytelling. Whether in movies, books, TV shows, what have you. But I believe the movie did what it could with the device.

It seems redundant to mention the talent in the movie and go over each character and how well the actors portray these characters. I've spent eleven years with these characters and these actors. They have forever imprinted on these characters. There won't be a single conversation regarding these characters in the future without bringing up these actors. Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlet Johannson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillen all continue to throw themselves at these roles. Josh Brolin continued to be satisfying villain, one of the best of the series by far. These actors deserve all the credit for believing in this world and making the most of their time onscreen.

After eleven years and twenty-two movies, I am happy that Marvel Studios and the casts and crews bringing this epic journey together have stuck the landing. Special congratulations goes to everyone that could make this happen, and for this franchise to still have so much steam left to give is a miracle. The only other franchise I can think of with 20+ movies is the James Bond series and as much as I love that series, not all of the Bond movies work. Whether these MCU movies are good or great, they all work. Most franchises fizzle out at movie three or four. So again, I am impressed how much has been accomplished here. Like I said, it may not all add up at the end, but I don't want to sound nitpicky and I can only hope superhero filmmaking will be as ambitious as this in the future.

It's been a wonderful 11 years, now let's make it 11 more.

FINAL GRADE: A

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Gemini Man trailer

Well, even though "Avengers: Endgame" had its world premiere last night, and there have been spoiler-free reviews beginning to pop up online, something else seems to be grabbing hold of people's conversations today.

"Gemini Man" definitely looks interesting. A clone of some type of assassin is hired to kill the person he was cloned from. At least I think its a clone. Maybe not. One version of the character is younger than their counterpart. Which is the most absorbing reason to watch the trailer. It literally looks like you are looking at young Will Smith and older Will Smith who both somehow ended up in a movie together. It is a trippy, trippy trailer to look at. When the Marvel movies use CGI to de-age actors, I can see the trickery, slightly of course. When the Star Wars movies brought entire actors back to life, I could easily see the trickery. I can't see the trickery in the special effects I am looking at here. I don't see a single shred of movie magic. That is bracing to me.

I do have a little pause though. The movie is being made by Ang Lee, a director who sadly hasn't blown me away ever. The movie is also produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and I've been wonder where the hell he's been for the last decade or so. The movie has a few ups, it's not a sequel, its not based on a piece of random nostalgia. It looks like something that is brand new on all fronts, and that perks my interest at least. I will definitely be curious to see this in a theater, just to get lost in the special effects. I really hope the movie is good too.


Review: A look at the year's most controversial film, "Leaving Neverland"

Leaving Neverland Review
I firmly believe that "Leaving Neverland" will be the year's most controversial film. In fact, its left me stranded and devastated. This is going to probably be a shorter review because of it.

Before we really dig in, let's get something straight. This isn't a film about Michael Jackson. This is a movie about Wade Robson and James Safechuck. These two men were once dancers for Michael Jackson when they were young boys. They performed at his concerts. They sometimes went on world tours with him. Both boys became very close to Jackson throughout their formative years. Michael Jackson treated the boys like family, treated their families like family. They would even stay in the same room as Michael Jackson on his tours. They would spend the night has his Neverland Ranch. According to the men, Jackson would sexually assault the boys when they were alone. Before and after his early 90's trials of sexual assault from Jordy Chandler. While Robson and Safechuck never came forth with these allegations, they seemed to have put a damper on their lives, putting it in the most obvious of terms.

I am going to tread as carefully as I can in this review. As always, there is bile being spewed on all sides of the fence. There are dancers that have removed Michael Jackson music from their routines because of this documentary. Both Robson and Safechuck have received death threats due to this documentary. The last few years have been a whirlwind, it feels like every man even vaguely connected to show business has been accused of sexual assault or harassment and its divided our nation. It has sprouted two extremes; blindly believing the victim or blindly believing the accused. When in reality, there should be a balance to that. We should gather evidence, listen to everyone, keep an open mind, lose any sort of bias, make sure evidence and discussion make sense. Then reach a conclusion. Yes, I know the justice system isn't perfect. Jurors are human beings and sometimes they make mistakes. But there is no other way to deal with these things. It seems like "Leaving Neverland" is the ultimate representation of this back-and-forth.

The movie is essentially four hours of these men, and their families talking about their experiences with Michael Jackson. The focus is on Robson and Safechuck in particular. They get into rather graphic detail of spending the night at Jackson's house, spending time alone with Jackson in their hotel rooms. Both Robson and Safechuck aren't shy about admitting that they had extremely graphic sexual relationships with Jackson, and Jackson himself seemingly manipulated these young boys into thinking this was normal. The parents were, as they usually are in these crime documentaries, oblivious to what was happening. Their children were spending time with Michael Jackson, charity working, King of Pop, there is no way he'd be a creep right? 

The stories by Robson and Safechuck are so harrowing that its very easy to want to believe them. The thing is, the documentary is ONLY their accounts. Its hard to really get to the bottom of a case like this when the perpetrator is dead and already beat a case similar earlier in their life. So all we have are these accounts. There is really no other evidence to back the claims of these men. These men are definitely convincing, as are their families. But at the end of the day, the naysayers will keep on naysaying because this whole documentary is four hours of stories without a shred of evidence. It's a typical documentary designed to tug at your heart strings in order for you to get reaction.

But despite the design of the documentary, that doesn't automatically mean that Robson and Safechuck's claims are wrong. Which is why this documentary is such a great snapshot of what's going on in our country right now. We want to believe victims, even if their cases supply no evidence. We want to protect the innocent, even if their stories don't add up. How you feel about "Leaving Neverland" will depend solely on what you believe from it, which is kind of frustrating. If documentarian Dan Reed really wants me to completely believe that Micheal Jackson sexually assault these men in their formative years, I need more than just a harrowing, graphic story. It would have been much stronger overall had their been more evidence to back these claims.

Or did the documentary supply more evidence? Only in a subtle way? There are videos of Michael Jackson walking and being photographed holding hands with different children, including young Robson and Safechuck, which is strange behavior from a grown man. There were also the other allegations that got public attention. Alas, do these little tidbits prove anything? Again, it depends on what you believe and what you get from the material. I wish Dan Reed just gave us more to chew on, more to absorb. No two ways about it though, I think it is safe to say that Michael Jackson was a manipulative asshole to these kids. Sexual allegations aside, he made these young boys feel important, like he was their best friend. They didn't need a thing in the world except Michael. The thing is, he made new "best friends" every few months and it seemed like Robson and Safechuck were all cast aside, and never called unless Michael needed them. So on that level, Michael Jackson treated some boys like shit at ages when they were remarkably vulnerable. But is that a crime exactly? 

Like I said, I wish we got more to judge here. I wish we had more to look over. I would never try to say that these guys are wrong, or they lied. Because there's just not enough evidence here for that either. That's the problem on all accounts, there just isn't enough of anything here.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Monday, April 22, 2019

A look at the "Child's Play" remake

First of all, I got to say, that is a great, old-school poster.

The trailer for the movie itself? Well, there is definitely some good and bad stuff. I really don't understand the continued need to remake everything that was scary from yesteryear. Although its a trend that has been going on since I was in high school, its a trend nonetheless and something that has had mixed results at best. This remake has a fun cast, including Aubry Plaza, Tim Matheson and Brian Tyree Henry. Not to mention I am sure Mark Hamill will have a blast voicing Chucky. It looks like they have come up with some creative ways to kill people. Connecting the doll to an app just seems like a real lazy way to throw an update into the movie and doesn't really portray the character in any kind of new light, but I guess, what else could they really do?




The original Child's Play really creeped me out, we'll see how this remake does.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Let's talk about those five minutes of Endgame

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR "AVENGERS: ENDGAME" READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

I am self-aware enough to know that I am completely impatient when it comes to movies. I am a greedy Augustus Gloop, a bitchy Veruca Salt who can't keep her hands to herself. That is both a pleasure and a curse. Because there have been times when I've spoiled entire movies and entire TV shows for myself. 

In recent memory, I can't think of another movie so heavily guarded as "Avengers: Endgame." We know the movie is going to be three hours long, and we also know that Disney is only pulling footage from the first twenty minutes for ALL of its marketing and trailers. This is why we've only seen the same few scenes in all the commercials. That's been driving some fans up a wall, but after how Infinity War ended, are we really surprised? There is some big stuff that is going to take place in "Endgame" and while the franchise will continue, it is going to look different after this movie. The internet has been a funny place to be the last year, because there is always some anonymous person on some website who knows some person close to production, and they give away "leaks," which are really just fan theories in disguise. They are funny to read, funny that anybody honestly believes them. Its also funny that some people have threatened to take bets with those who don't believe them. Nothing spells a commitment to lies like taking bets on some fan fiction, eh?

This past week though, something legitimate hit the internet. I know that its legit because it was taken down almost immediately. I had to scour the internet for days, and when I finally found this footage, it was taken down with hours of me watching it. That's how you know its legit. For a couple of days, somehow five minutes of "Avengers: Endgame" leaked on the internet. Its tough to watch, it looks like a bootleg of a bootleg of a bootleg. The audio tracking is way off. But its clearly footage from the upcoming movie. The only reason I watched it is because I found out that no major deaths are spoiled in this five minutes. Its literally just five minutes of fucking awesome shit. I love fucking awesome shit. So why not take a peak at some fucking awesome shit?

The footage is way too hard to find at this point, so if want to know what I saw, I am going to post it below. In my own words. If you don't want to know, stop scrolling now. This is only for people who meddle in spoilers. So if you read below that is on you.

We are getting into spoiler territory now. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ THAT, DON'T SCROLL DOWN.


































































I'm serious, its time to talk about the leaked five minutes!

























5....

4....

3...

2...

1...

There were rumors of what would happen in "Avengers: Endgame," still referred to as Avengers 4, the weekend after Infinity War came out. What the rumors dispersed was that the surviving Avengers would try to find a way to reverse Thanos' snap. Tony Stark will make it back to Earth, and once he gets back, he begins to design his own Infinity Gauntlet. So that he can use the stones to reverse the snap himself. This will require the remaining heroes to go back in time to various other points from other movies to get the stones. The stones would eventually disappear from Thanos' gauntlet and he'd go after the heroes. Also in these rumors, Banner and Hulk would "merge" creating Professor Hulk, which is essentially a Hulk monster with Banner's intelligence still intact.

Well, according to the five minutes that leaked online, those rumors are on the money. The first thing we see is a Hulk in a full purple costume (an image that leaked online a year ago) also sporting reading glasses. This Hulk is speaking, full sentences, not that broken English Hulk usually uses. He's having a fun time with Thor (who has grown long hair and A LONG beard) and Rocket. Also in this scene, I am 100%  sure I saw Korg, the blue rock alien we met in "Thor: Ragnarok" no sign of his best friend Miek though. How Korg got to Earth and Avengers HQ remains to be scene. In these early moments of the footage, it looks like the heroes are working on ships and those matching outfits we've seen in the trailers.

The next big scene shows them in the battle of New York from the very first Avengers movie. It was really hard to tell what they were saying, but Captain America, Professor Hulk, Iron Man and Ant-Man were formulating some kind of plan. The scene after this showed post-Infinity War Captain America fighting the 2012 Avengers Captain America. I'm sure 2012 Avengers Captain America probably thinks that post-Infinity War Captain America is some illusion from Loki, so it will be interesting to see how that unfolds.

The next scene shows Hulk putting on an Infinity Gauntlet, with what looked like all the stones. You can tell its a Stark gauntlet too, because its got that signature crimson on it. Toys have already spoiled a "Stark Gauntlet" already, so this scene didn't really surprise me. But it looks like even the mighty Hulk is having trouble containing the power of the Infinity Stones. This Stark gauntlet seems to be hurting him.

The next scene was the last bit of footage, and man its a doozy. We see Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America fighting Thanos on a distant planet. Thanos is fighting with a big ass sword! Thor has his Stormbreaker. But here's the craziest part....CAPTAIN AMERICA IS WIELDING THE MJOLNIR! I'm guessing Thor got his old hammer back through time travel and sure enough, we finally see that Steve Rogers is in fact worthy. This is something I've been arguing with people for the last four years. In "Age of Ultron" Rogers nudged the hammer. But he didn't lift it. That point I knew he'd lift it eventually. He did in the comic books and you aren't just a little worthy. You are either worthy to lift Thor's hammer or you're not, there is no middle ground. I knew that nudging would pay-off in a movie in the future, and now it finally has. Captain America is shown single-handedly kicking Thanos' ass. He's armed with both the Mjolnir and his shield. 

The next big doozy comes next. We see Cap starring down a massive army lead by Thanos. Cap appears to be alone when we hear "on your left." Fans of "Captain America: Winter Soldier" will know what that means. We suddenly see a portal behind Cap. (looking very similar to a Dr. Strange portal) and out of the portal comes Black Panther, his sister Shuri and Wakandan fan-favorite Okoye. After a dramatic beat, Falcon comes flying out of the portal too. So we do learn that eventually the heroes will collect all the stones and reverse Thanos' snap. The next scene is very quick, but we see every character you can think of lining up behind Cap. The footage is blurry, and the scene is dark, so I couldn't make out everyone. But I definitely saw Drax, Star-Lord, Thor, Iron Man, Teen Groot, possibly Wasp, Wanda, Spidey. That's just for heroes. Captain America, after 20+ movies, finally says "AVENGERS ASSEMBLE" and the army of heroes charges. We see lots more than just heroes though, it looks like a huge army of Wakandans (perhaps the Wakandan troops that got dusted?) all charge towards Thanos and his army. We see a pegasus fly by, and I don't mean some fancy spaceship, I mean a literal, mythological pegasus fly by. With a person riding it. That has to mean Valkyre. We see a bunch of people in suits fly by. Could be Iron Man and War Machine. But there seemed to be more than two. Gwyneth Paltrow confirmed on her Twitter that she's suiting up as Rescue in this movie, so perhaps one of them is her. And maybe Iron Man has called on his Iron Legion to help in the battle. After we see those suits fly by, we see Scott Lang as Giant Man running towards the army. We also see a bunch of spaceships flying toward's Thanos' forces, who is flying these ships remains to be seen. 

Thanos has a pretty crazy army himself. Full of Chitauri, possibly more Outriders. Also his Black Order seems to be alive somehow. So whatever this battle is, its going to be FUCKING INSANE!

The next scene shows Iron Man and Spider-Man embracing and having some sort of heart-to-heart. Soon after we see Captain Marvel, taking down Thanos' personal ship all by herself. We see her floating with her signature pixie cut hair. 

End footage.


So I think its pretty safe to say that this movie is going to throw the kitchen sink at us. This is going to be large on every aspect imaginable. We are only a few more days away. I can't wait to see these moments and more, on a great big screen with perfect audio!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Review: New Hellboy will make you miss the days of Del Toro

Hellboy Review

Guillermo del Toro got the ball rolling with Hellboy on screen in 2004. I really like that movie. But "Hellboy: The Golden Army," that is a movie that is the prime definition of a movie that was much better than it needed to be. It is easily one of my very favorite sequels. The summer of 2008 and was a money fest. So it was easily for less recognizable titles getting lost in the shuffle, but that is too bad, because that is a great, great sequel. It was weird, because del Toro set up a crazy story for a potential third movie. He also, roughly a year ago, put a Twitter poll allowing people to vote whether or not they wanted to see his third movie. Weird, because after his poll came back overwhelmingly in his favor, it was decided the whole series would be rebooted.

We got David Harbour stepping in for Ron Perlman. We got Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane and Sasha Lane. It certainly feels like a Hellboy movie. It has a dark sense of humor. It is shockingly violent in some parts, and eerily dark in others. I think there was potential to make an interesting Hellboy movie with this cast. But this new film commits the cardinal foul. It all feels like a big fat, "been there, done that."

It was the same problem I had when Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 4" was halted at Sony and they rebooted the franchise with Marc Webb at the helm. Re-watch Raimi's film closely, and then watch the two films Webb made. Sam Raimi had a unique vision for his Spider-Man stories, and it looked like Webb was trying way too hard to imitate what had come before, even though his story was a reboot. If you watch all those movies in a row, it feels like the same universe, except the leads are different. That and well, "The Amazing Spider-Man" movies have a much worse quality to them.

That's how I feel when I watched Neill Marshall's "reboot" of "Hellboy." David Harbour looks way too much like Ron Perlman. I don't know if that was intentional. It couldn't be, this is a redo, so how could it be intentional? What's also weird is that Harbour seems to be trying too hard to channel Ron Perlman in his performance. He never takes the steps to make the character his own. Something that actually disappointed me, because Harbour is a great actor. The ritual that brought Hellboy to earth looks so similar to how it does in the first movie, that there is barely a difference. I am also convinced that the B.P.R.D. building from del Toro's franchise was reused in this franchise.

We've seen three different versions of Batman on film so far. In Michael Keaton's movies, Christian Bale's movies, and Ben Affleck's movie, even though the origin of Batman is the same, they all feel different. There is very little that separates this new Hellboy from the old, so why even reboot? Its like they don't even want to try. I wish this wasn't my only complaint though. The special effects on display are rancid, just terrible. Milla Jovovich is a beautiful woman, and she's given some memorable performances, but sometimes she can lose it. This is a time when she lost it, and I never thought she was a very convincing villain. Then there's the plot. My god, my god the plot. It tries to play so closely to what we saw in the 2004 film while also trying to do something different, and it ends up like a messy painting. There is such a tug-of-war going on that I can't believe this even got greenlit.

There was a big opportunity that was missed here, and it makes me sad. You'd think coming off an Oscar win, del Toro would have had the muscle to do what he wanted, to finish his "Hellboy" story. But I guess, sometimes those things don't work out. We are all poorer for it. This new "Hellboy" will not become a cult classic, del Toro's movies will. This will hit the bargain bin at Wal-Mart the second its released on bluray.

FINAL GRADE: D