Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Review: "Godzilla vs Kong" is everything you'd expect!


At this point, I am going to assume you saw and enjoyed "Godzilla" in 2014. If you haven't seen it, you should. If you have any interest in giant monsters tearing it up, check it out. I also hope you enjoyed "Kong: Skull Island" in 2017, and that you finally saw "Godzilla: King of Monsters" in 2019. If you haven't seen any of those and you are the target audience for these films, you should see them.

Other than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I'd wager to say this new "Godzilla Movie Universe" or whatever it s called, has been the second most successful cinematic universe so far. Possibly that "Conjuring" universe may be up there too, but this new line of Godzilla and Kong movies have sizable fanbase and they've all done decently at the box office. "Godzilla vs. Kong" is a bunch of fun, and if this is something you want, absolutely see it. You should know what you're getting yourself into. There is a giant lizard named Godzilla and there is a giant gorilla named King Kong and they are going to throw down.

For the first time in five years, Godzilla is attacking places on Earth, and nobody seems to know why. This prompts the world to begin hunting him again. Meanwhile, a company called Apex Cybernetics recruits some scientists to find out if Hollow Earth exist; which is supposed to be the birth place of all titans. Apex is looking for a power source for mysterious reasons. The scientist recruits Kong, who has been living on Skull Island under surveillance of the company Monarch. Because of Godzilla's sudden temper, and Kong being a helper to find Hollow Earth, this puts Godzilla and Kong on a crash course to fight one another. The thing is, there is always some kind of evil corporation in movies like this, right? Not everything is what it seems to be with Apex, right?

These new Godzilla and Kong movies have had solid human casts so far. Kyle Chandler and Millie Bobby Brown return from "Godzilla: King of the Monsters." They are both incredible actors who do good work reprising their roles here. They joined by new characters played by Alexander Skarsgaard, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Julian Dennison, and Demian Bichir. All of these actors do what they must and they put enough power in their performances to make the human emotion count.

But the real meat and potatoes of the film isn't the acting, right? You've come to watch two monsters wreak havoc on each other. Let me just tell you, havoc gets wreaked. There are some big Godzilla versus Kong battles in these movies and let me tell you its spectacular. The kaiju carnage is spectacular. The visual effects for these battles is absolutely stunning and if you've loved the action sequences in these movies thus far, get ready for the punches this movie packs. The visuals for Hollow Earth are also amazing. Hollow Earth is a mesmerizing, dangerous place. I can almost guarantee that this will be up for visual effects next year.

You know if you want this or not. If you want this, go for it. It's buckets of fun.
 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Heroes vs. Villains March Madness- Round Four Voting

 So...other than The Candyman. Everybody else literally got all of their votes. 

We are getting down to the wire now, folks. Happy voting. You have until April 1st for this round.


Friday, March 26, 2021

Heroes vs. Villains March Madness- Round Three Voting

ROUND TWO RESULTS: http://www.youmeandmovies.com/2021/03/march-madness-heroes-vs-villains-round.html 

ROUND THREE VOTING ENDS MARCH 29TH!

March Madness Heroes vs. Villains: Round Two Results


Round Two is over, and looking at my screenshots below, most of the voting was pretty lop-sided.










For Round Three, Batman and will take on Thor and Princess Leia will take on Samwise Gamgee. If that doesn't display franchise wars, I don't know what will. For TV heroes, The Mandalorian will take on Meredith Grey and Johnny Lawrence will take on Wanda Maximoff. As far as villains go, Darth Maul will take on The Witch King. Hela will take on The Candyman. For TV villains, Harley Quinn will take on Littlefinger. John Creese will take on Agatha Harkness. Voting for Round Three will end March 29th.

2020 Was Better Than I Thought: "Another Round" and "Minari" reviewed

 The year 2020 was a better year for movies than I originally thought. I am sure some people may disagree with that statement. The theaters were closed, the "big movies" of 2020 were mostly moved to 2021, possibly further. But there were so many great movies that came out. As with how most years work, there are movies that come out at the end of 2020, and don't get a major release until the next year. I have been catching up with lots of these releases as they have been coming out. I can honestly say that I would definitely put "Promising Young Woman," "One Night In Miami" and "Nomadland" on my top 20 of 2020.

I would also put both "Minari" and "Another Round" on that list too. 

There aren't too many years when I catch up with things, that my list looks incredibly different, but 2020 is definitely one of those years.

"Another Round" is an import from Denmark, known as "Binge Drinking." It stars Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chieffe from "Casino Royale"), Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, and Magnus Millang. These four actors play four teachers who are don't feel fulfilled by life anymore. Some of them are married, have families, don't have many struggles, but they just aren't feeling alive like they used to. So they hatch a plan together. They are going to plan to until their Blood Alcohol Content is 0.05 a day. They have read a scientific study that drinking to that BAC point each day can improve relaxation and creativity. They are reluctant to begin, but they all give in. Soon enough, they are much more relaxed and happier just drinking to and maintaining that 0.05 BAC each day.

"Another Round" begins as a silly comedy at first. They enjoy this experiment so much that they begin to drink more and more. Its all fun and games though, once the constant drinking leads to trouble at their homes as well as genuine alcoholism. The movie transitions well from a dramatic-comedy to a full on drama. All four actors do incredible work here, and Mads proves why he's really one of the best actors of his generation. While he's done many things here in America, he does lots in his home country of Denmark, and I've learned through the years that his range knows no bounds.

You may hear lots about the film's ending. Believe the hype around the ending. It's a beautiful, soulful ending and yes, easily the best of 2020. A valuable reminder that we get one life to live and its a beautiful, beautiful life. So be sure you feel alive every day.


While we are the sum total of choices, we are certainly groomed by circumstances beyond our control. "Minari" takes place in 1983, where a Korean immigrant family, The Yi's, move from California to Arkansas to in hopes of growing Korean produce to sell in Dallas. Jacob Yi, the father, played by Steve Yuen, is optimistic for his family's future. Monica Yi, the mother, played by Han Ye-ri is much less optimistic and they argue quite a bit about their future. Their youngest son David (Alan Kim), has a heart condition and Monica worries a lot about having the funds needed to provide what he needs for medical health.

"Minari" deals with family dynamics, the push and pull of American culture while also never letting go of the traditions and customs from the country you were born in. It's a movie about the decisions our families make have an impact on the lives in which their children become. Jacob is at first, unsuccessful in his farming, simply because its not something he's used to in rural America. Jacob eventually gets help from a local veteran named Paul. Paul is played by my merry surprise by Will Patton. A great character actor we just don't see enough of these days. Who delivers a potent performance here.

I am over-the-moon happy that the world is getting to know Steve Yuen, because he's an incredible actor overall and he does great work here. The Glenn you see on "The Walking Dead" TV show is much different from his comic book counter-part, but Yuen has always done a very good job on the show. He really came into his own with his work in "Burning," which is still one of the best movies from the 2010's. I am glad he is getting the recognition he deserves with his work here. He does tremendous work here in this movie. He bounces off of Han Ye-ri perfectly, who also does good work here. A couple who could fall apart at any moment if the wrong thing happens. Alan Kim and Noel Kate Cho play the family's children, and they are both fine young actors, and do very good here. As does Youn Yuh-jung is the grandmother, who is very crucial in certain moments of the film, and she does it well. This is a family of great performances, all adding to the drama.

Both of these films are worth your time and attention. So seek them out!

Monday, March 22, 2021

Heroes vs. Villains March Madness Bracket- Round Two Voting

 You get to vote until March 26th. Happy voting!


March Madness Heroes vs Villains First Round Results

                                       

First Round is over. What a battle its been. 

As far as movies go; Batman remains strong, easily taking Sonic out of the competition. He will be involved in a classic DC stand-off against Cyborg. Austin Powers, Thor and Prince Akeem also are advancing for the heroes, Austin Powers and Prince Akeem being upset wins, given seed. Princess Leia is advancing, as well as Clarice Starling and Samwise Gamgee, shocking nobody. For TV heroes, The Mandalorian continues his dominance, facing Ser Davos Seaworth in round 2. Father Gabriel Stokes, Meredith Grey, Lt. Columbo, Johnny Lawrence, Jim Hopper and Wanda Maximoff are all advancing as well.

For the villains side, Arthur Fleck for the movie villains continues his dominance. Dr. Evil, Hela and Syndrome were the biggest upsets in the movie villain bracket, advancing over their opponents. The Witch King and Amon Geoth are all advancing. For TV villains, Harley Quinn continues her dominance. Not too many surprises over at their side of the bracket.

I am building the second round voting poll right now.










Thursday, March 18, 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League IS better than Joss Whedon's Justice League. But does "better" mean "masterpiece?"

                                       

I've said it before, and I'll say one last time, the reason why "Zack Snyder's Justice League" exists should be reason enough to celebrate. It's great what can happen when the fans of something are listened to and they get exactly what they want. Most times, when studios buy intellectual property, we get what THEY think we want, instead of what we'd actually like to see. Sometimes its good and sometimes it is not good and that's the gamble of filmmaking. So it's great we are getting something rabid fans asked for. On an artistic level, its also great that a director got to fulfill the vision he had for a particular story and characters. Making something on your own terms is, surprisingly, not as common as you think. Not in mainstream Hollywood. So when an artist gets to unleash themselves on something that has been in their head for years, surely that's exciting.

For better or for worse, "Zack Snyder's Justice League" was going to be a lauded experience. There is a certain group of fans that got this movie made, and they are a very vocal group of fans. Fans that are unfortunately not very welcoming to other opinions. On one level I dreaded this day, but that toxic fandom is the fandom's fault, not the movie's fault. So I did want to know how Zack Snyder's four hour epic worked as a movie.

Much has been hyped about the four hour run time and the "R" rating. There has been equally lots of banter about how "Zack Snyder's Justice League" is this BRAND NEW MOVIE. But allow me to say that this is an oversell of sorts. The Justice League movie we got in 2017, that was finished by Joss Whedon after the tragic loss of Zack Snyder's daughter, was about an alien named Steppenwolf coming to Earth to retrieve the Mother Boxes in order to achieve world domination. So Batman recruits a bunch of heroes and resurrects Superman to stop him. "Zack Snyder's Justice League" is about...an alien named Steppenwolf coming to Earth to retrieve the Mother Boxes in order to achieve world domination. So Batman recruits a bunch of heroes and resurrects Superman to stop him. Sure, given the four hour runtime, HOW the story is told maybe "different." Sure, this time, Steppenwolf is retrieving the Mother Boxes for the evil Darkseid, which to put in simple terms, is DC's version of Thanos. Given this slight adjustment, Steppenwolf is much more of a character this time out, which is nice. When villains are given personality, it makes the stakes higher.

I don't think the movie gains anything by being rated "R." The restricted rating never means blood and cursing, at least not always. A movie with an "R" rating usually means its an adult movie about mature ideas. When you basically have the bones of the same story as before, but just told in a slightly different way, I can't say it elevates the material to being more adult. Despite what DC fandom will try and dress this as, "Zack Snyder's Justice League" is just like every Marvel movie and most modern blockbusters coming out these days. The good guys are trying to stop a bad guy from getting a glowing goober (remember Enter The Spider-Verse?). That's really all the story amounts to. If you think a movie is "mature" or "adult" simply because Cyborg and Batman say fuck a few times or because Batman impales a parademon, then I guess that means it earned its "R" rating, but this is very much an adolescent's version of an "R" rated movie.

Zack Snyder is just a film director in my eyes. There are movies by him that I've really, really liked. There are also movies he's made that make me scratch my head in bewilderment. He's not my favorite working in movies right now, but he's far from my least favorite. I've read enough of his interviews to know he loves these characters, and he thinks their awesome. I don't think that thinking something is awesome is enough license to adapt something, but he's got lots of heart. There are moments in "Zack Snyder's Justice League" that did make my heart swoon. First of all, Cyborg and Flash (and like I said above, Steppenwolf) are fleshed out as characters. That's important, because they are the only two members of the Justice League that we only know from this movie. You really get a feel for who they are as characters, and their motivations are fleshed out. Something that you simply can't get in a two hour movie.

Jared Leto's Joker probably has as much screen time as he did in "Suicide Squad." But I have to say, that all those Leto haters after "Suicide Squad" are going to shut right up after they see him here. This is the Leto Joker we deserved. Remember watching "The Dark Knight" being fixed on Heath Ledger in every scene? Same thing in the Joaquin Phoenix movie and even the 1989 Batman? Well, Leto's one scene in this movie, you won't be able to pay attention to anything else. Jared Leto is fucking amazing in his one scene. Yep, you read that right. He's amazing. Leto has always been a great actor. Sometimes, a script stunts you as a performer. Leto delights here, just delights. This is a version of the Joker I'd pay to see over and over.

I've always liked Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and I've always liked Ben Affleck as Batman. Yes, its true, Ben Affleck is a fine actor. He's a good Batman. When he's working from a good script, he's a terrific performer. Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck together are always great to see in this movie. I'd happily pay for a Ben Affleck trilogy with J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, and yes, unleash Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke. All of these actors show up in this movie in some form and I enjoyed all three of them. The various supporting cast is all very good here.

It doesn't matter if you are watching the 2017 Joss Whedon film or the Zack Snyder's version, there are mechanics to the story telling that never win me over completely. I don't understand why Batman goes from Superman's main enemy to calling him a symbol of hope dramatically because his mother shares his mother's name. While Steppenwolf's personality is an improvement this time, his lack of personality from the 2017 film was given to Darkseid. Darkseid is such an ordinary supervillain in this film. He wants to conquer Earth because he's a conqueror and that's what he does. End of character. Plus, the design of Steppenwolf, Darkseid and the parademons is so heightened and cartoonish that I never found any of them threatening. Sure, you could say the same thing about Thanos and Marvel villains. But the difference is that the Marvel movies are so self-aware that I buy that world. When you have a story about a bunch of superheroes stopping a supervillain from using the Mother Boxes and make this dreary film and take it overly-serious, well that comes off ridiculous. It comes off even more ridiculous when you add a bunch of poorly rendered blood effects into the action scenes, just to justify that "R" rating.

Oh and Martian Manhunter showing up? He has two small scenes and that's it. Not the exciting introduction you'd want by any means. He's not featured in any of the big or important scenes in this movie. He shows up to talk to himself then talk to Bruce Wayne, then he flies away. Nothing exciting sadly.

So in the end. It's the same story as the first film. I wouldn't really call this a "new movie." But if you've read Snyder's interviews since 2017 and read his plans for the Justice League trilogy he pitched to WB many years ago, you can see where this story was headed in his brain. So I guess that's kind of cool. I would say given the Knightmare extended scene in this movie that I'd be down to see what else Snyder had in mind for this story and characters. So I guess for that reason alone, you can count this as a win. The action scenes are longer. Some of the characters are more fleshed out. There is so much exposition due to the long run time that you may sometimes mistake the screenwriter for George Lucas. But other times, the dialogue is better than the previous movie. The story really has time to breathe instead of bulldozing through development due to the shorter run time.

"Zack Snyder's Justice League" is definitely the Justice League movie I will return to for pleasure. But is it a masterpiece? I don't think I'd give it that high a praise.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Heroes vs. Villains March Madness is here! VOTE TODAY

 Here is the first round of voting for this years new edition of Heroes vs. Villains March Madness. It is set up like last year. I have created a survey style voting bracket, so you can vote easily. You will have until the 21st! Happy voting. Spread the word, share with friends and family!

Be sure to use the scroller directly next to the survey in order to answer all questions pertaining to the vote!


Monday, March 15, 2021

MARCH MADNESS: HEROES VS. VILLAINS IS BACK

                                      

Guess what's back, back again!

Since 2015, I have conducted a "Heroes vs. Villains" entertainment bracket every March as a way to celebrate it being the month it is, as well as the March Madness that is so famous this time of year. Instead of basketball though, I pit some of the most popular, coolest heroes and villains from movies and TV to battle it out for superiority. Over the years, we've seen superheroes, super-spies, cops, soldiers, and just, plain good-hearted characters face off against supervillains, dark lords, monsters, vampires, and all forms of evil. It's been fun watching the votes go down and this year won't be any different!

Last year, our final four were Batman, The Mandalorian, Arthur Fleck and Harley Quinn, which just goes to show were our pop culture is at this very moment. Will these characters reign supreme again? Or will the new challengers listed below make their mark? Batman has won all but one competition, can he win again? 

It's all up to you. Starting March 17th, I will once again post a bracket using Google Documents, and you will be able to vote right here on the site. Why I didn't just do this the first few years is beyond me, forgive me for being not very tech-savvy. But I want to make it as easy as possible to vote, which is what will happen here. Voting will begin on March 17th 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. 

Here's who is competing this year, listed by seed:

MOVIE HEROES

  1. Batman (Batman films)
  2. Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings)
  3. Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars franchise)
  4. Thor (MCU)
  5. Joe Gardner (Soul)
  6. Laurie Strode (Halloween franchise)
  7. Clarice Starling (Hannibal franchise)
  8. Black Canary (Birds of Prey)
  9. Cyborg (DCEU)
  10. Elizabeth Swan (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise)
  11. Prince Akeem (Coming To America franchise)
  12. Austin Powers (Austin Powers franchise)
  13. Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Deadpool films)
  14. David Dunn (Unbreakable franchise)
  15. J.J. Gittes (Chinatown)
  16. Sonic The Hedgehog (Sonic The Hedgehog)
TV HEROES
  1. The Mandalorian (Disney+ The Mandalorian)
  2. Wanda Maximoff (Disney+ WandaVision)
  3. Johnny Lawrence (Netflix's Cobra Kai)
  4. Michael Burnham (Paramount+ Star Trek: Discovery)
  5. Father Gabriel Stokes (AMC's The Walking Dead)
  6. Lt. Columbo (NBC's Columbo)
  7. Jim Hopper (Netflix's Stranger Things)
  8. Billy Butcher (Amazon Prime's The Boys)
  9. Ser Davos Seaworth (HBO's Game of Thrones)
  10. Beth Harmon (Netflix's The Queen's Gambit)
  11. Atticus Freeman (HBO's Lovecraft Country)
  12. Ted Lasso (AppleTV+ Ted Lasso)
  13. Meredith Grey (ABC's Grey's Anatomy)
  14. Lt. Terry Jeffords (NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
  15. Stargirl (CW's Stargirl)
  16. Harvey Birdman (Cartoon Network's Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law)
Movie Villains
  1. Arthur Fleck (Joker)
  2. Amon Goeth (Schindler's List)
  3. The Shark (Jaws franchise)
  4. The Witch King (Lord of the Rings trilogy)
  5. Bride of Frankenstein (Bride of Frankenstein)
  6. Steppenwolf (DCEU)
  7. The Candyman (The Candyman)
  8. Darth Maul (Star Wars franchise)
  9. Buffalo Bill (Hannibal franchise)
  10. Dr. Robotnik (Sonic The Hedgehog)
  11. Hela (MCU)
  12. Dr. Evil (Austin Powers franchise)
  13. Mr. Glass (Unbreakable franchise)
  14. Syndrome (The Incredibles)
  15. Kaonashi (Spirited Away)
  16. Amy Dunne (Gone Girl)
TV Villains
  1. Harley Quinn (HBOMax's Harley Quinn)
  2. Agatha Harkness (Disney+ WandaVision)
  3. John Creese (Netflix's Cobra Kai)
  4. Beta (AMC's The Walking Dead)
  5. Petyr Baelish (HBO's Game of Thrones)
  6. Commander Fred Waterford (Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale)
  7. Reign (CW's Supergirl)
  8. Katherine Pierce (CW's The Vampire Diaries)
  9. Bobby Axelrod (Showtime's Billions)
  10. The Hormone Monster (Netflix's Big Mouth)
  11. Constance Langdon (FX's American Horror Story)
  12. Head Six (Syfy's Battlestar Galactica)
  13. Hush (CW's Batwoman)
  14. Randall Flagg (Paramount+ The Stand)
  15. Livia Soprano (HBO's The Sopranos)
  16. Mumm-Ra (Cartoon Network's Thundercats)
Voting begins in a couple days. As always, have fun all!

Monday, March 8, 2021

Weekend Movie Round-up

 Because movie theaters aren't quite open to full capacity yet and because the studios are taking their time and being cautious about their releases, watching new movies at home has been a new normal for the last year now. It's crazy to think its been a whole year of COVID-19 and I'm hoping everyone can get the vaccine as soon as possible. No matter what happens, we are still getting new films at home, and its working so far as an alternative to the movie theater. 

"Coming to America" is one of my favorite films of all time. Any time a sequel is made over 30 years after the original came out, I am always cautious. I want so bad to like "Maverick" when it comes out, but there is also some hesitation. It's easy to be away from something so long that the new result doesn't live up to expectations. "Coming 2 America" is not better than the original, but that's okay. It's still wildly entertaining.

Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Louie Anderson, James Earl Jones, and Shari Headely all return from the previous film. Akeem is still a prince, but his father is close to death. Because Akeem has fathered three daughters, the royalty is at risk of reverting to another royal family once they marry. Unbeknownst to Akeem, but known to Semmi, Akeem hooked up with a girl in Queens (Leslie Jones) and fathered a son (Jermaine Fowler). Akeem and Semmi return to Queens, New York to track down his son. Akeem is successful, and his son comes back to Africa with him, and learns the fine art of becoming a prince. But his son is his own man, growing up in America, and he's got his own ideas for his new country and newfound royalty. Which could butt heads with Akeem's long lasting tradition.

"Coming 2 America" definitely features some sequel-idis, it features many of the same story threads from the first films. But it does a good job of updating for a more modern world. The original cast fits right back into this world, are all very funny revisiting their roles. The additions of Fowler, Jones, Tracey Morgan, Trevor Noah and Wesley Snipes add to the movie as well. Being PG-13, it isn't nearly as raunchy as the original film, but the film is able to side-step much of this with aplomb. What's clever is the movie feels raunchy at times without ever really tipping into that kind of humor. If that makes sense at all.

It's hard sometimes to really tap into the magic of something old. But sometimes, that doesn't really need to happen. There is plenty of fun to be had with "Coming 2 America," and it was really enjoyable to see these characters I love once again.

The "Groundhog Day" affect is quickly becoming a cliche in this business. We are seeing quite a few movies these days of people repeating the same day, over and over again, determined to break the cycle. Because this isn't a new idea, for me I like to see how entertaining something can be, and how it can play with expectations. I'm looking at execution over originality, and I have to say "Boss Level" is a mostly satisfying action thriller.

Frank Grillo is an actor I have admired for sometime now. I think he's been ripe for a leading role for quite awhile now. I am glad director Joe Carnahan gave him a chance, because Grillo proved that he can lead with the best of them. In "Boss Level," Grillo plays Roy Pulver. A typical ex-military, alcoholic who has an ex-wife and a child he barely knows. Every day he wakes up to shady people trying to kill him. There is a playful attitude to "Boss Level," as Roy is continually narrating his life, trying to piece together this mystery, spewing corny joke after corny joke to anybody who will listen. This definitely feels like an 1980's action movie made in 2021. 

A ton of fun actors make their way through this film. Including Naomi Watts, Mel Gibson, Michelle Yeoh, Ken Jeong, Annabelle Willis and Will Sasso. Also look for Rob Gronkowski in a particularly funny cameo and Frank Grillo's own son Rio playing his son in the movie. Joe Carnahan is like Michael Bay, so get ready for a bunch of crazy mayhem and characters that could only exist in the movies. Like many other Carnahan movies, he over-extends his plot for no reason. Sometimes the film feels a bit overly-long and acts as if its trying too hard to be clever, something Carnahan hasn't got over quite yet. But there is still plenty of fun to be had here.

I also caught "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run" It is thoroughly ridiculous.

I am able to catch quite a few movies since so much is getting released at home. So expect big reports like this in the future.

Friday, March 5, 2021

That's a wrap on WandaVision (SPOILERS)

                                               

THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS PERTAINING TO THE DISNEY+ MINI-SERIES "WANDAVISION" YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

That's a wrap on "WandaVision." The new mini-series that premiered on Disney+ roughly nine weeks ago. The mini-series revolved around Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and basically chronicled what she has been up to since all of our favorite Marvel heroes defeated Thanos and brought everyone back to life. After The Battle For Earth (which is what the final battle in "Avengers: Endgame" is referred to, on its Wiki page at least) loved ones who got dusted were reunited, and some of the heroes died. Vision sadly was unable to return due to the sad timing of Thanos' snap. Wanda felt like one of the very few who lost everything and gained nothing in return. She was determined to deal with her grief, so she used her unbelievable power to create her own reality in a sleepy town of Westview.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, and which was hotly debated on social media, the first few episodes definitely threw people off. Why are Wanda and Vision living through old school sitcoms? Who is controlling all of this? Somebody within the universe is watching too? Who is it and why? There was definitely some fun to be had in those first few episodes, and I'm not sure everybody got the joke. But it did all make sense by the end. 

If "WandaVision" was about anything, it was about grief. How we can sometimes turn to nostalgia in order to restrain the pain of whatever is making us grieve in the first place. We learn that as Wanda and Pietro were growing up, they had a poor but happy home. She grew up watching DVD's of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Bewitched." That was her family bonding time, and of course she would hold on to those precious memories when trying to cope with the pain of missing Vision and her brother. We can't wear nostalgia as armor though, that will slowly tear us apart, just as it did Wanda on the show. Someone I follow on Twitter called WandaVision "The Good version of 'Ready Player One.''' While that might be funny, when you think about it long enough, it makes perfect sense.

One of the things "WandaVision" definitely benefitted from was the weekly episode release. Something that seems foreign in a binge TV world. That set up worked for the show, rather than against it. Since each ending made the audience guess about next week. Kathryn Hahn is definitely someone from the comic books, but who? WHOA, Evan Peters who played Quicksilver in the Fox "X-Men" movies...is now playing him again now?!? What does this mean! Monica Rambeau? I know that name from somewhere! WHOA, WANDA'S KIDS HAVE SUPERPOWERS! There was always something to talk about each week, which added to the fun. 

Overall, and this is the comic book nerd in me talking so take it as you will, but the answers to these questions could sometimes be underwhelming. When they introduced Wanda's children, and the break-neck speed at which they grew in this show, I thought Young Avengers may be on the horizon. But in order to release the people of Westview from her spell and in order to stop Agatha Harkness (more on her in a bit) Wanda had to do away with the reality she created for herself. That means that Vision and her children disappeared. Sadly, if Young Avengers ever happens (which seems not that far-fetched since we have already been introduced to Harley Keener and Cassie Lang in this universe) it'll be without Speed and Wiccan. Too bad. While Evan Peters showing up as a character he played in X-Men, the reason as to why he was Quicksilver here may have disappointed some viewers. Obviously, messing with the multiverse is on the horizon with the MCU, but it doesn't start here. Evan Peters is basically the end of a joke and nothing more.

One of the biggest strengths of this show has been Kathryn Hahn and her fabulous work as Agnes, and the slow introduction of her being Agatha Harkness. Agatha Harkness was an evil magic-user from the comic books who has ran into all sorts of characters in the comic books, Wanda included. In the show, she wants to absorb Wanda's power. Because, yes, while this show did explore all sorts of themes, its a superhero show at the end of the day. Of course there's a Big Bad that Wanda was destined to take care of. Like I said, Hahn was great here, and I am glad that Agatha doesn't die, leaving the door open for her character to return in some form.

I equally enjoyed Teyonah Parris' work as Monica Rambeau. The daughter of Maria Rambeau, whom we met in the "Captain Marvel" movie in 2019. We find out that Monica was one of the many people who got dusted from Thanos' snap, and she re-materializes in hospital, where she was staying due to her mom's health. She comes back to learn that Maria died of her health complications, she volunteers to enter the mysterious force field created by Wanda, agreeing with SWORD, an organization created by her mother. (Apparently since the 90's, even though somehow this is the first we are hearing about it) Monica Rambeau already has powers and I'm sure we will learn more about those powers sometime in the future, because the finale today made it clear that Monica isn't going anywhere soon. I like Teyonah Parris a lot and I look forward to seeing more of her in the future.

Those are all the big comic book characters introduced. The BIG CAMEO that Paul Bettany kept teasing the last few weeks ended up being just smoke and mirrors. The final episode today is a pretty big spectacle and little else. Personally, I am not sure nine episodes were needed, but those missing the big superhero fights were satisfied. Some people like that the final episode wasn't a big cameo fest, while others were expecting someone big to show up. It just goes to show that we have to let go of our expectations with these pieces of entertainment. Sometimes people ruin things for themselves because they are always holding onto rumors or things they hear or read on the internet and they treat it like the Holy Word and we can't do that. Wanda's future is going to be pretty crazy, suggests the final credit scene of this last episode, personally after her journey here, that's all I needed. This was an overall very enjoyable mini-series. Disney proved that Marvel could be cool on their streaming service and now I'm excited for "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" even more.

Monday, March 1, 2021

The award shows are weird this year

                                             

Amazing that the 2021 award season is just now kicking off at the time every year where its usually winding down. But you thank COVID-19 for that.

I didn't watch the Golden Globes last night. I read the winners list this morning. I know Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted and knowing them, I am sure they did really well. The older I get, the more cynical around awards I have noticed I get. Sure, I am a little interested to see who pompous Hollywood likes to give their golden statues to, but that's all it is, it's pompous Hollywood self-congratulating themselves. I know there fans of these ceremonies and people who specifically like the kinds of movies that the award's season covers, and I don't mean to judge what they like. You are more than okay to like the movies you like and enjoy the awards season. The older I get though, the more I think the conversations around award circuits is limited. I detest the idea that certain filmmakers will make an "Oscar-bait" movie. Because honestly, doesn't that make awards redundant? I don't like that entire genres and entire types of films are ignored because the subject matter isn't enough for the award circuit. It all drives me nuts more and more.

2021 awards are going to be even weirder this year. For some reason, because of COVID, the awards got pushed back this year. COVID may have made the business cautious, to be safe over being sorry, and I understand that completely. But I don't get that the measure of a year really goes kapoot. They were successfully able to work around it. It was postponed and many actors, from what I saw, received their awards from home last night. Good move, for sure. But including 2021 releases when we should be focusing on the year 2020. Each year has their own mix of great moments from film and television and I think if you are going to pick what the best of each year was, it has to be set within that year.

"Judas and The Black Messiah" is a wildly great movie. I gave the movie a great review. Movies that great usually don't come out this early in a year. If its such an early anomaly, why is it being caked in with a bunch of 2020 titles. Don't get me wrong, I am glad Daniel Kaluuya is getting recognized for his work in this film. But it almost feels like an unfair advantage against a sea of 2020 films filled with great performances that got pushed to side for a 2021 movie.

I don't remember these awards being categorized by a year and three months, they are the best of the year, so we should focus on the year in question. That year is 2020.

I feel like this isn't a COVID issue and I don't understand why it happened. It makes the whole season of awards very weird and I don't know how this will affect the future of these ceremonies.

Oh well. I've spoken my peace on the subject. Now I am going to start figuring out who will appear on my annual Heroes vs. Villains March Madness bracket!