Mulan (1998)

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I had never seen Mulan.  When it was in theaters, I was not interested.  However, I know that there is a live action version coming from Disney soon, so I had put it on my list to see.

Plus, one of my favorite actresses, Ming-Na Wen, who I just love as Agent Melinda May on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, voiced Mulan in the animated version.  I did not originally know that.  Ming-Na Wen is being included in the 2019 Class of Disney Legends.  Congrats to Ming-Na Wen.

I found Mulan on Netflix today and I figured that I should watch it before Disney pulls the film from the streaming service to put on their own Disney Plus later this year.

Mulan is the story of a young girl who, in an attempt to save the life of her father, impersonates a man and trains as a Chinese warrior to help stop the marauding Huns.

We have seen this type of story before, but Mulan resonates today more than ever.  With the emergence of powerful female characters such as Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, Mulan stands out as a leader of the female hero.

In fact, Mulan is the hero of this story from the beginning right through to the conclusion.  The third act really shows her ability to think her way through the problem and to put herself on the line for China.

There is a great voice cast to go along with Ming-Na Wen.  Eddie Murphy is Mushu, the talking dragon whose job was to be the guardian of Mulan and make sure that her family’s honor was not tarnished.  The late, great Miguel Ferrer played Shan-Yu, the villainous Hun looking to take over China, S.D. Wong voiced Shang, the newly appointed captain responsible for Mulan’s training. Harvey Feinstein is one of Mulan’s fellow soldiers named Yao (though this was a strange voice choice).  Pat Morita was the Chinese Emperor.  Donny Osmond and Lea Salonga were the singing voices for Mulan and Shang.

Of the songs, the only real memorable one to me was Donny Osmond’s I’ll Make a Man out of You, which takes place during the training montage.

The film goes very fast, and it does feel as if there is a scene or two that should have been included.  Perhaps another encounter with the Huns before the special snow fight.  Still, the flow of Mulan felt tight and maybe another scene would have messed with the timing.

It really was a great film with a great message.  It was long overdue to have seen the classic.

vintage

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John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

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The first John Wick was such a pleasant surprise.  Keanu Reeves’ career had slipped into a rut as the actor was starring in films that were not very good.  The arrival of John Wick brought him back to doing movies that were well received and entertaining.

John Wick Ch. 2 was good, but did not reach those heights.

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum falls somewhere between those two.

In Chapter 3, John Wick is on the run, trying to avoid all of the assassins in New York after he killed a member of the shadowy assassin guild named the High Table, John Wick was declared excommunicado and a huge bounty was placed on his head.

The bounty forced Wick to take drastic steps to attempt to get back into the good graces of the High Table.

Now, the story here is about as basic as you are going to get.  There are a bunch of assassins and hitmen chasing after John Wick and John has to kill them all in exceedingly dramatic and inconceivable ways in order to survive.  That’s about it.  Despite the film’s attempt at world building with its mysterious High Table or its rules and regulations that the assassins must follow, there really isn’t much more to the movie than that.

However, the action in this movie is so great you do not focus on the film’s narrative shortcomings.  Some of the action scenes are ridiculous, but they know they are and audience members can embrace that fact.  I found myself laughing several times at the results of the viciousness and I was shocked at what they showed me.  The action scenes are filmed with a ton of style and the violence level is way up there.  It is brutal and the choreography of these fights are astounding.  It makes for some serious thrills.

Unfortunately, there were some parts near the end that I found a bit boring, almost tedious.  There are only so many action sequences that I can see before I need something more, and Parabellum was approaching that limit.  Thankfully, most of the action is done so well and is so original that the stretches where I found the film dull were short and did not take away from the overall enjoyment of the movie.

Keanu Reeves plays John Wick perfectly.  There may not be a better character for Reeves to play.  He hits the action beautifully while delivering the humor well too.

Ian McShane returns as Winston, manager of the Continental, and brings his normal gravitas.  Halle Berry’s role was short but impactful.  She definitely had some back story that I would not have minded learning about as the film progressed and she made a nice companion for John Wick.  Two LOST alums were here with Lance Redding resuming his role of Charon, the concierge of the Continental, and Saïd Taghmaoui as the Elder of the High Table.  The character I enjoyed most outside of John Wick was the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) who returned from previous installments and had Fishburne chewing up scenery all around him.  Seeing Fishburne and Reeves together once again was a cool treat.

The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon)  was an emissary of the High Table who arrived on the scene to dole out punishments for the last movie’s rule breakers.  She was not very engaging of a villain and seemed to exist merely as a plot point between Wick and Winston.  Zero (Mark Dacascos) made for a much more compelling villain, almost a John Wick opposite and the conflict between Wick and Zero was entertaining.

I would have liked more story than what I got, but the action made up for that with some amazing choreography and thrilling, violent imagery.  John Wick clearly is being set up to continue the franchise so hopefully they can find that nice balance between action and story.  Until then, let’s blow some heads off.

3.9 stars

 

Breakthrough

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I have never liked any of the Christian faith movies that have come out over the years. The main reason was that it always felt as if the characters’ faith was the only thing that mattered and that these characters were pushing their faith with a hammer.  No subtlety at all.  I have never wanted to downgrade anyone beliefs but many of these faith movies, as movies, are nearly unwatchable.

Today, for Mother’s Day, I took my mom to Breakthrough, a film that I had avoided since it was released in April for that very reason I mentioned before.  However, I figured mom would like it so I took her to it.

I will say that it was probably the best Christian faith movie I have seen because it allowed its characters to be real characters who just happen to have faith in God and not one-dimensional people spouting their personal beliefs.

This movie is based on the true story of John Smith (Marcel Ruiz), a young teen who fell through an icy Missouri lake in 2015 and spent 15 minutes under water before being pulled out by search and rescuer Tommy Shine (Mike Colter).

John was rushed to the hospital and was near death, but his mother Joyce (Chrissy Metz) was a powerhouse force of nature and insisted that her son would recover.  Even at a point where it appeared that the doctors and nurses had given up finding a pulse, Joyce refused to let go.

Here is the strength of the film.  During his hospital stay, characters were allowed to doubt, question and be angry.  Even Joyce was shown to be out of control.  Those people who expressed doubt were never demonized by the movie and, in fact, the film went out of its way to show that Joyce’s angry dismissals of these people’s thoughts were unlike her and were inappropriate.  That surprised me.

Even the film’s pastor, Jason (Topher Grace) was allowed to speak to John’s father (Josh Lucas) in a real way.  It is not just “pray and all will be okay, trust in God” etc etc.  Pastor Jason, in that conversation, told John’s father that he had doubts about John’s survival, but anything was possible.  This felt like a real conversation that would be held with real people.

And I especially loved the ending when, SPOILERS- I guess, John recovered, and there was some resentment directed toward him, wondering why he was saved while others were not.  That was even more interesting of an approach to me, and I would have liked for the movie to expand upon that more than it did.  Just the inclusion of those moments was a step in the right direction though.

Mike Colter’s character even expressed that he did not believe in God, and he was allowed to be a real person who showed confusion over the fact that he believed he heard someone direct him to where John was in the water.  This internal conflict was never officially resolved, just like it most likely would not be in real life.

Now, there are plenty of problems with the film as well.  I mean, some of the acting was average at best, the story became extremely melodramatic several times (don’t get me started on the giant sing-a-long pray session outside John’s hospital window) and there were times where the movie felt too movie-of-the-week-like.  Still, the main performances were strong and just the fact that these characters were written like real people of faith and not just propaganda for Christian faith is a definite positive.

Plus, my mom loved it.  So there is that.

3.1 stars

The Hustle (2019)

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You may not know this, but the new film The Hustle is a gender swap remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Starring Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway, the movie tells the story of two female con artists who wind up in the same city and discovering that the city may not be big enough for the two of them.

There have been some scathing reviews for this movie.  I may not have found it great, but I did not hate it as much as many of the critics seem to.  Don’t misunderstand me though… this is not a good movie.  It is one of those meh films that have some okay moments but could have been better.

Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson are fine here, but neither really excels with their characters.  Hathaway is the rich and snooty con artist and Wilson is more of the down home girl who uses the same shtick on everybody.  While we get a few flashes of likability with Wilson’s character, there is little to cheer for in Hathaway.  In fact, there is almost zero character development for wither lady, with the little glimpses we get tossed aside at the end for a nonsensical finale.

The story bounces around with Hathaway first trying to get rid of Wilson from her city and then the two ladies going against each other in an attempt to can the wealthy tech guy Thomas (Alex Sharp).  It is during this time frame where Wilson pretends to be blind for a significant part of the film and is fairly offensive while doing it.

Once again, as with last week’s Long Shot, if a film is funny, some, if not most, of its flaws can be ignored.  Unfortunately, there is little humor here and what is funny turns out to be fairly cliched.  Both female leads are passable, but both have given considerably better performances in their careers.  The story is truly a mess and one wonders why we needed this remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in the first place.  Sure it is not as bad as Rotten Tomatoes is suggesting, but it is not near fresh either.

2.6 stars

Tolkien

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The new biopic features the story of the young years of EYG Hall of Famer J.R.R. Tolkien and the lead up to his writing of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

This biopic deals with Tolkien as a youth and how he formed a group of friends at school who would become the basis for the Fellowship from his novels.

I enjoyed watching how these four students came together despite differing backgrounds and class over their shared love for the arts, even though some of them had to hide that love from parents.  The interactions with the foursome was great as you really see how strong a connection these four boys had leading to their lives as young men.

We also get shots of Tolkien during World War I, when many of the images of the horrific battles with dragons and monster and the evil of Sauron would come into view for the author.

There is a love story between Tolkien (played wonderfully by Nicholas Hoult) and Edith (Lily Collins).  The love story was not my favorite part of the movie as it felt more like a distraction from what the movie really was about and that was about how J.R.R. Tolkien wound up creating Middle Earth and all the wild language that goes with it.

In fact, the scenes with Hoult and his professor (Derek Jacobi) were some of the most compelling of the film and I would not have minded more of those.  The scenes in World War I were very moving as well as the Germans were clearly cast as the evil hordes of Mordor.  Some of the CGI here was really well done and beautiful to look at.

I was quite engaged by the film Tolkien and I enjoyed the story it was telling.  While I may not have loved the Edith parts, I thought Lily Collins was very good as Tolkien’s lady love.  The relationship between the four boys that lead to such an inspiration of artistic creativity and a friendship strong enough to survive almost anything is the best part of the movie.

3.7 stars

Poms

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Rah Rah

Poms had its moments, but there were some problems as well.

Martha (WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME..err sorry), played by Diane Keaton has cancer and is moving into a retirement community to die.  However, once there, she meets a crew of characters of old women who spark that desire for her to don that cheerleading outfit once more.

Yes, that is what I said.

The premise may be ridiculous, but the cast is great.  Diane Keaton brings way more to this plot than you would expect.  Jacki Weaver is the standout of the cast and steals every scene she is in.  Pam Grier shows off her sexy side in a severely under written character.  And, while Alice (played by Cheers’ Rhea Perlman) may have murdered her husband, the movie plays it as a joke so it’s okay.

Every cliche imaginable in this type of underdog movie is in play.  We have the mean, overbearing community leader (Celia Weston) who is out to get the cheerleaders, the young mean girl cheerleaders who bully everyone, the bumbling cop (Bruce McGill) who drives around in the golf cart, the initial attempt to perform only to fail, the break up only to reunite, the son who won’t let his mom join in… I mean, they are all here.

I will say that the ending surprised me and I respected the film for going there.  I had never thought that they would go where they did.

Another problem I had with the film was with Diane Keaton’s character.  When she first moved into the community, she wanted no part of anybody, including her neighbor Jacki Weaver.  She even called Cop Carl on her.  However, I blinked, and suddenly, Jacki and Diane are best buddies and sharing wine with each other.  There seemed to be no reason why suddenly they were BFFs.  It made the first part of the movie feel false.

Of course, the film depends on a ton of suspension of disbelief, which is fine.  That does not bother me, but I do wish there was some attempt to ground the film into some reality.  It goes to a crazy level and I have to go with it to follow.  Fortunately, these actresses are good enough to elevate the material.  As I said, especially Jacki Weaver, who I found very fun and original in Poms.

Poms is a perfectly decent movie, if you just want to laugh at some nice actresses trying to be funny.  The story is nothing new and most of the film is predictable.  Still, there is a feeling of friendship among the crew and you get that feeling as an audience member too.  So it has some redeeming qualities.  It is a middle of the road movie.

2.9 stars

 

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

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Pi-ka, Pi-ka.

Okay, Detective Pikachu was fine.  Thing is… it was not made for me.

This is a movie whose target audience was the Pokemon fans who have grown up with the “Gotta catch’em all” attitude.  Those people who know the difference between Bulbasaur and Charmander.  I have a passing knowledge of Pokemon which is to say, I know Pikachu, Charizard and that duck one.  I know the Weird Al polka song, Polkamon.  Other than that…

That does not mean this is a bad movie.  In fact, I liked it fine.  I just believe that people who know the franchise more would have enjoyed it more.

In Detective Pikachu, Tim (Justice Smith) comes back to Ryme City when he hears that his deadbeat father had died.  He meets up with his father’s Pokemon, Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) whom he could understand.  To the rest of the world, Pikachu could only say “Pi-ka, pi-ka” but Tim could hear everything he said.  The pair team up to try and discover the truth behind what happened to Tim’s father.

Of course, Pikachu has amnesia, which is one of the laziest contrived plot devices imaginable, and this one, when the truth does come out, makes even less sense.  The whole amnesia angle is a drag on the story.

The best part of the film is easily Ryan Reynolds.  He does a tremendous job of bringing Pikachu to life with his voice work.  He is funny and full of life and his connection with Tim was strong.

The story itself was decent too, as the whole thing had a noir feel to it.   There was a mystery to solve and, although they do not really let the audience play along, it was compelling enough.

Bill Nighy had an important role as one of the leading Pokemon supporters and a huge businessman.  It is always fun to see Ken Watanabe in a movie too.  Unfortunately, most of the movie’s other actors are, let’s say, average.

There is a funny scene with Pokemon Mr. Mime, which, unfortunately, had been spoiled by the trailers.  I think that could have been a laugh out loud moment in the movie if I had not already seen it a few months ago.

I was not much of a fan of the third act overall.  I can’t go into much detail about the parts I disliked without going into spoilers so I’ll just say that the third act had several things that I was not wild about.

Overall, the film was fine.  It was not as great as I had thought it might be, but I did not hate watching it.  Ryan Reynolds is all kinds of charming and is worth the price of admission alone.

3.2 stars

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

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There was some controversy about this film because of the portrayal of serial killer Ted Bundy, by Zac Efron, which was claimed to put the monster in too much of a positive light.  After watching the film on Netflix, I do to understand that criticism.

Yes, Zac Efron played Ted Bundy with a flare.  but that was very much the case for Bundy.  He was a charismatic man who used his good looks and his chemistry with young females to find his victims.  To be honest, that made this portrayal of Bundy all the more frightening because there are times in the film where you believe what he is saying.  His protests of innocence were lies, we know that, but the performance is so likable that you can understand why Bundy was able to do what he did.

And there is no doubt that the man was a manipulative monster.  You see that in the performance here, so, in my opinion, there should be no controversy here.

Zac Efron, however, deserves a ton of credit as this may be the best performance I have seen from him.  In fact, I questioned the ability for Efron to play Ted Bundy, but he does a magnificent job of it.  The relationship between Bundy and the woman he seemed to love, Liz (Lilly Collins) felt like the real deal despite Bundy’s use of it as a cover or a way to look normal.  Liz’s journey of her belief in Ted was a perfect example of the power Bundy had over women.  One wonders how Liz was able to survive all those years as Ted Bundy’s girlfriend.

The secondary cast is solid here with Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment, John Malkovich and Kaya Scodelario, but none of them have enough to really stand out.  This is Efron’s film and he is up to the task.

True crime fans will enjoy this biopic as we get to see a side to evil that we normally do not get to see.

3.8 stars

Long Shot

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There are going to going to be several films this weekend that are blown out of the water by the second week of the juggernaut known as Avengers: Endgame, which is part of the business.  However, there is one new film opening that deserves so much more than getting snapped out of existence.

Long Shot, a political comedy/rom-com, starring Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron is much better than I expected it to be and deserves to do better at the box office than it is, I’m afraid, it is going to do.  It is a touching, very funny fantasy that tells the romance between the Secretary of State and an out of luck journalist admist her campaign to become President of the United States.

i called it a fantasy because some of the things that happen in the story simply are so unrealistic when it comes to politics in this country that you have to suspend your disbelief multiple times.  However, the film is so charming and well written/ acted that those moments did not bother me.

i have never been a huge fan of Seth Rogan, as I have never enjoyed the drug comedy that he seems to excel within.  And, while there is some of that in Long Shot, it is kept at a minimum and are actually quite funny.  Being funny is the cure for most anything.

Both Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron are really strong in this film and they display a surprising amount of chemistry.  If you are talking about an onscreen couple, Rogan and Theron are not necessarily the first pairing you would come up with and yet it works well.  You believe that their relationship is coming from a place of realism, which is quite a feat considering all of the connotations that it might bring with it.

The film is definitely deserving of its R rating as it tends to lean toward more risqué comedy, including one important scene caught on video, that shocked me.  I was shocked that they were blessed to show the scene.  But again, while the comedy, at times, is certainly leaning toward the racy kind, it is always funny, and some jokes can be forgiven if they are funny.

However, there are many other comedic elements here than just the sex and drug parts.  The comedy includes real moments between two characters who feel real despite the unreal setting that they find themselves in.

There are thinly veiled some jokes at the expense of FOX News including a character who, again, clearly seems to be an amalgam of Ruppert Murdock and Roger Ailes.  And the President of the United States is played by Bob Odenkirk (from Better Call Saul) and there are comparisons to be made to President Trump, yet there are not as many jokes directed toward Trump as you might think.  There is even a scene where the ideology of Rogan make him look like the uncooperative one.  It almost is a cry for working across party lines.

Long Shot works on many levels and had me laughing consistently.  Jonathan Levine directed this film, which is right up there with another of my favorite Seth Rogan film (also directed by Levine) 50/50.  This film is great counter programming, and you should really try to squeeze a showing into your weekend schedule around your next viewings of Avengers: Endgame.  That is what I did.

4.3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avengers: Endgame

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Don’t worry.  I will not spoil anything that happens in the movie.

I will stick totally to my feelings on what I witnessed tonight.

For 21 previous movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had been building to this finale, much like a television series might.  Everything was heading toward Avengers: Endgame.

I cannot imagine any way they could have crafted a better conclusion.

It was joyous.

Some might claim that the first act is slow, but, to me, this is where much of the heavy lifting of the characters takes place and I find that stuff fascinating and fabulous.  The inclusion of character moments and development is what the MCU has been about since that time Tony Stark got tossed in the cave and those moments are every bit as important as the action beats.

The middle act is original and mind bending.  Such a tremendous use of the trope that I am not going to tell you about.

And the third act is, quite possibly, the greatest third act in any super hero movie ever made.  The last hour was filled to the brim with absolutely EVERYTHING I wanted from this movie.  I had tears streaming down my face from the shear joy I was experiencing.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo delivered their fourth Marvel movie (Winter Soldier, Civil War, and Infinity War preceding this) in the most unbelievable fashion.  They have to take their place among the Mount Rushmore of MCU creators, up there with Kevin Feige.

There were so many brilliant performances in this movie, but I can’t tell you any specific ones because it might spoil something and you really should go into this with as little knowledge as you can.  The trailers were beautifully done.  They spoiled virtually nothing.  Heck, they were remarkably sparse with details.

There were only two things that I would have bet money on happening, and they both happened.  I won’t tell you what they were, but they fit beautifully with the story telling that has been going on for the past 10+ years.

No post credit scene, but there is some sounds at the very end that were familiar.

Some might complain about the 3 hour and 2 minute run time of the film, but I found it perfect.  It flew by and by the end, I so wanted more.

The film has so much packed in it, I think it demands a second viewing (if not multiple viewings) to see everything that is there.  I know I have my ticket for viewing number two tomorrow and I may see it a couple more times before the weekend is out.

There were several moments where I literally cried out in excitement.  A couple of times I pumped my fist.  It was amazing.

I was sick this morning, but I knew that I would not let that stop me from seeing this movie (which I saw in IMAX).  I babied myself through the morning and afternoon and felt okay when I took off for Davenport.  Sitting in my seat, there were moments when I did not feel great physically.  However, I persevered and, by the end, I was feeling better than I had all day.

Avengers: Endgame was mind-blowing.  I will probably have to write a spoiler post at some time about the film just to get it out, but for now, go see Avengers: Endgame.  It is truly an epic.

5 stars 

Ant Man and the Wasp (2018)

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We are down to the final movie in the EYG MCU Rewatch, Ant man and the Wasp.  I am not including Captain Marvel as it is still in the theaters and it does not look like I will have the chance to get to it again before Thursday night and my viewing of Avengers: Endgame.  So this is the final rewatch.

Paul Rudd is excellent as Scott Lang, the somewhat bumbling hero who is under house arrest for his adventures during Civil War.  Evangeline Lilly is Hope Van Dyne, playing the Wasp.  Michael Douglas resumes his role as Hank Pym, Hope’s father and the original Ant Man.  These three actors really work brilliantly together and they are the biggest reason why this movie is as effective as it is.

The villain Ghost is one of the better villains around.  She is actually more than a villain as she is just trying to save herself from dying from her Quantum exposure.  Ghost may have a future in the MCU as a hero (Thunderbolts, anyone?)

This film was taking place prior to and during the events of Avengers: Infinity War.  Of course, there are some important things that happen here for Endgame, mostly in the post credit scenes.

The humor here works well and Paul Rudd never fails to deliver his lines in a funny way.  Paul Rudd’s imitation of Michelle Pfeiffer is a highlight of the film.   We also get more goodness with Michael Pena’s Luis and his way of telling the stories.

Pant Man and the Wasp was hurt by its placement in the year.  Marvel already had released Black Panther and Infinty War in 2018 and this film was smaller and more personal.  These characters are worth the time.

 

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Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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Here is the big one.

Avengers: Infinity War, what Marvel Studios has been building toward for 19 movies.  Everything led to this point and it surely did not disappoint.  It was my number one movie of last year.

I did not expect that the film would go where it went, leaving us all wondering what is going to happen when Avengers: Endgame premieres this week.  So many questions brought up by this movie and so much emotion.

I’ve heard people claim that you cannot watch Infinity War without seeing the previous movies in the franchise.  I am not sure I totally agree with that, but, if you have seen these other movies, your experiences is considerably deeper than it would be without.  That is 100% for sure.

Avengers: Infinity War expects you to know who most of these characters are and to know why they do things, because there are so many things that are happening, they do not have time to recap it all.  It feels very much like the old giant events that would happen in comics such as The Infinity Gauntlet or Secret Wars.  They are telling you a story with characters that you already care about.  Just because this is unprecedented in Hollywood does not mean it is a bad thing. I expect the same type of situation for Endgame.

I also get tired of the “no stakes” and “fake deaths” cries.  Characters come back from the dead all the time in comics.  That is part of the genre.  I hear one online personality in particular complain about Marvel always pulling the fake deaths and I get so tired of hearing him run his mouth.  Especially when he does not complain when the same thing happens in other comic book movies.  Coming back from the dead is a staple of the genre and will happen.  Having said that, who knows what Endgame is going to do with the dusted characters.

Infinity War is so great.  Every character has his/her moment.  I’ve seen people complain about a lack of Captain America and some of the other original Avengers, but it is clear that they are getting their due in Endgame.  Even still, we get some awesome moments from them.  Cap catching Thanos’s hand is just a boss move.

Thanos is unbelievable.  I literally did not think of him as a CGI character until late in the film.  The CGI on Thanos is so amazing that I am very insulted that Marvel Studios did not win an Oscar for it.  Josh Brolin brought that character to life and he is truly the main character of Infinity War.

The whole Hulk/Bruce Banner story arc is fascinating too.  I am anxious to see where this goes from here.

Avengers: Infinity War is epic.  It spans the universe and takes us on a trip that gives us remarkable emotional stakes and pays off 19 movies in 10 years with shocks and surprises.  Anyone who tells you they know how this is going to end is just lying or a d-bag.

This is my favorite Marvel Studios movie… for at least another three days .

 

paragon

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Black Panther (2018)

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Director Ryan Coogler’s three time Oscar winning film, Black Panther, the first Marvel Studio movie to be win an Academy Award, is the next movie in the EYG MCU Rewatch.  Black Panther was a culturally significant release that became more than just a movie for a group of people who had been underutilized in super hero films, finally providing representation for an entire race.

Black Panther made over 700 million dollars domestic at the box office, surpassing even the domestic haul of Avengers: Infinity War, and reaching 1.3 billion worldwide forever shattering the myth that a cast, mostly black, could not be a money making blockbuster.

Black Panther was not solely about the titular hero, played with a royal flair by Chadwick Boseman, but also about the land, history and culture of  Wakanda, fictional home of our hero.  The movie, as well, brought a serious feminine power to the screen as Black Panther introduced Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s sister, the Dora Milaje, the female royal guard led by Okaye (Danai Gurira), a Wakandan spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and the Queen of Wakanda (Angela Bassett).

The film is one of exclusion, but it does not rest on that.  It is a film about lineage and what it means to be king, and the challenges that face such a position.  It questions even its innermost theme as it progresses.

One of the most significant ways Black Panther questions itself is through the plight of the film’s main villain, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).  Although his methods are clearly villainous, the audience can understand and relate with Killmonger.  There is a natural tragedy to the character that almost has you rooting for him.  Add to the story the amazing performance of Michael B. Jordan and you have one of the best villains in the MCU.

While the cinematography and the look of Wakanda is absolutely gorgeous, some of the action and fight CGI leaves something to be desired.  In particular, the third act fight between T’Challa and Killmonger was visually disappointing.

It was about the only flaw in an otherwise outstanding movie.  It sets up Wakanda as a location vital to the future of the MCU for years to come.

paragon

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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“Come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.  Hammer of the Gods.”  – Led Zepplyn, “The Immigrant Song”

Ah aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah aah

The third Thor in his series is the next film in the EYG MCU Rewatch.  Thor: Ragnarok takes a distinctly different look at the characters in the Thor world.  This is mainly thanks to the direction of director Taika Waititi.  His blend of humor and cleverness fit perfectly with Thor.

Waititi brought Odin’s banished daughter Hela the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett) back to Asgard, and she went about killing everyone.  She is really built up by basically dispatching and murdering the Warrior a Three with almost no trouble.

Meanwhile, Thor and Loki wound up on the planet Sakaar.  Thor winds up the prisoner of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldbloom) and ends in a coliseum as a gladiator facing the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in the Contest of Champions.

The Thor-Hulk dynamic is one of the best parts of the movie as it turns into a bit of a buddy movie.  Ruffalo and Hemsworth work well together and have great chemistry and humor together.  Of course, after several movies together, Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Loki are comfortable and wonderful every time they share a scene.

Tessa Thompson is introduced here as Valkryie.  She is an epic addition to the cast as the tragic heroine who has succumb to drink and scavenging on Sakaar.

There are people who hated the fact that the storyline of Ragnarok, which is the legend of the destruction of Asgard,  was treated as an afterthought in comedy movie but that did not bother me at all.  Some claimed that Thor did not show emotions over the loss of his father and eventually Asgard.  This also did not bother me because it was clear he was bottling up his feelings to get through.  We see a scene with this idea during Avengers: Infinity War.

Thor: Ragnarok is weird and original and different than any other MCU movie.  It is fun and full of energy.  Hopefully there will be future installments with Taika Waititi at the helm because this was fabulous.

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Spider-man: Homecoming (2017)

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Underoos!!!!

The line was originally from Civil War, but it appears in the opening video diary in Spider-Man: Homecoming which is a very funny and sweet way to start this film off. It immediately establishes our hero, Peter Parker, is a young kid, and that is the key to the latest variation of Peter Parker.  He is a young kid.

Previous Peters were played by men in their upper 20s and early 30s, but Tom Holland is like 21, but looks younger.  Peter is in high school and he looks it.  Marvel was going for the vibe of a John Hughes movie with Homecoming and it definitely feels as such.

I loved this version of Spider-Man.  It is the first real version of how Spidey should be.  With Marvel Studios making a deal with Sony to use Spider-Man in the MCU films, we have Spidey as he should be.

The film benefitted from the exceptional work Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes, the Vulture.  Keaton not only was menacing, but he was able to create a character who was relatable to the audience because understand why he did what he did.  And he acted the heck out of the scene in the car with Peter in the backseat.

Marvel uses Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark as a mentor for Peter and a way to show that Spider-Man exists in the same universe.  They do not overuse Downey Jr.  It never once feels like Iron Man’s movie, which some people thought it would be.

I’m a bit torn by all the spider suit tech in the movie.  It feels a bit overused, as if he is just a junior Iron Man instead of Spider-Man but it is a minor gripe.

Zendaya is an interesting prescience on screen and I like her as a possible love interest for Peter.  Jon Favreau is a fun addition as Happy Hogan, and Marisa Tomei makes a much hipper and cool Aunt May.  Jacob Batalon’s Ned gives Peter a friend and a confidant and he gives the audience a voice in the story.

Homecoming is either better than or even with the best Spider-Man movie ever, Spider-man 2.  Hopefully, the upcoming Far From Home will be as good as this.

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