Black Panther (2018)

The movie was absolutely fantastic. Hands down one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Full disclosure there will be a lot of similarities in this review to the review for Star Wars The Last Jedi and that is because a lot of white privileged crybabies are whining in their basement.

Let’s start with the negative aspects, there isn’t another one right this second. Yep, that is the only negative I could come up with.

The actors are all great, they were believable and intense (even better than Star Wars, yes I know that is sacrilege). To be honest the least favorite role I saw was Martin Freeman’s CIA agent. Compared to the intensity of everyone else

The plot was absolutely great. I don’t want to go in too much detail so not to spoil it, but the story kept going and didn’t feel too slow or too fast. It gave both room for actual speaking parts for more then just the lead man, there seemed to be a very strong woman’s presence and I loved it.

The special effects we all knew were going to be stunning, so it doesn’t really get too much surprise from me.

I did have some weird encounters about the movie after it was over.

One of my “friends” said it sucked because he couldn’t identify with anyone in the movie but Martin Freeman and his character sucked.” I just stood there dumbly listening to this person who had only recently said there is plenty of representation for people of color in movies, and that it isn’t a big deal if there is only one character your skin color.

I asked him who his favorite character was in Lord of the Rings, and he loved Gimli. I asked him why could he identify with Gimli, another species, who has no basis in reality, but not with any of the wonderful actors on the screen. I knew I made my point when he stomped off saying “F*** Y** Lucky”.

I thought the movie was so great on all levels. Not just the standard technical direction/acting/SFX but on giving marginalized people a voice. I hope there are a lot more. I will buy the tickets the same day they come out.

The good: Everything you could imagine, most importantly it was all the cast, not just the stars.

The bad: The whiny neckbeard whiners. They just came out of the basement long enough to harass people and then they will disappear again. Someday they might learn they have to share, then maybe they will join us here in reality.

SW: The Last Jedi (2017)

I loved the entire movie, and probably for the same reason that so many neckbeards hated it.

There may be slight spoilers, so read beyond this at your own peril.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely things they could have done better. Interactions that lasted a little too long or felt just a little off. However, the whole of the movie is far better then the parts say it should be. There are so many parts that are so good. However this review has to stay short so I will only cover four.

I love the fact that it destroyed the whole Skywalker bloodline as being the center of the movie and universe. The fact that Rey supposedly is not anyone special, that her family were just drunks means you don’t have to be a Solo or a Skywalker to have the Force choose you or to be able to wield it. Some say that isn’t what the movie says, but I just leave the example of the child at the end using the force to pick up the broom.

I love the fact that Kylo Ren is an obvious stand in for the whiney alt-right man babies. He whines about the same things and throws the same kind of fits. His callous disregard for Rey being uncomfortable with him being shirtless is just one small, tiny example that encapsulates the alt-right self-importance. The whole crying about remaking the empire sparks that same MAGA concept the racists/sexist crowd in real life spouts. It is perfect movie model of real life.

I also am ecstatic that it destroys the expanded universe of Star Wars. I am sorry everyone, but I am old enough to have read those books when they came out but the vast majority of them SUCKED. I mean absolutely sucked with no redeeming quality. I am glad to sacrifice the few good things to get rid of the rest of that garbage. I like that Disney is making a clean slate to entertain and tell a story about that universe, especially once SW IX is done.

However, the final part and best part is making space for people who aren’t white males as heroes and as the center of the story. This is coming from a white male, I am damn tired of the same old tired stories that don’t give everyone else a chance in the spotlight. I can easily watch and love something that has women, alternate orientations, and people of color as the stars. I can identify them as someone to look up to. This benefits everyone, gives us a richer field to choose movies from and puts everyone on the same footing.  I look forward to more of this and I will happily spend my hard earned money supporting these ventures.

The good: The wide range of actors and actresses, the opening up of the universe, and just about everything SJW this movie does.

The bad: There were little things that bothered me, but nothing any other movie would have done. The biggest bad of this is having to wait 2 more years for SW IX.

Justice League (2017)

I went in expecting it to really suck, but it wasn’t that bad.

Don’t get me wrong, it is nothing compared to Wonder Woman, or any of the Marvel things that are happening, but I do have to say it managed to be better than Batman v Superman.

Now, remember that I also kind of liked (but kind of didn’t) Suicide Squad so my taste is not the normal movie critic.

I liked the new characters, Flash and Cyborg seemed interesting, and both had a good feel. I loved the new take on the Flash, and his immediately volunteering to join sort of underscored his whole character. Meanwhile Cyborg was brooding in the beginning but became fairly mellow by the end

The movie itself felt the same dark dark dark grim dark of BvS in places, then in other places it felt less serious about itself and was able to be watched easier. I think this is where you seek Zack Snyder at first, and Joss Whedon in the others.

What this movie did show me was that Zack Snyder shouldn’t be directing any of these. I am definitely for a dark comic book universe, but Patty Jenkins proved DC doesn’t have to be dark with Wonder Woman, and Joss lightened up Justice League enough that it shows Zack’s view isn’t beneficial for the universe.

Now, there are huge holes in the movie you could drive a semi-truck through, but overall it was worth it and I would see any subsequent movies as well.

The good: The chemistry with the characters is there, even Superman. The less serious tone really benefitted the movie as well.

The bad: So many plot holes, acting issues and most importantly showing that Zack Snyder should not be directing these movies.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The best Thor movie yet.

Thor has always been a difficult franchise for me. I like Marvel, I do think Chris Hemsworth is a decent actor, but the character didn’t work for me. Not in the Avengers movies and definitely not in the Thor standalone movies. Too dour, too serious, the character isn’t a lot of fun except for a few one lines. That is until this movie. He was fantastic. The humor bordered on too much, but never crossed that line of being too silly.

The rest of the movie was pretty good as well. I liked having Hulk/Banner in the movie. I believe Marvel is underutilizing Mark Ruffalo and it was great to see him involved. I also enjoyed Scrapper 142 as a person who surprises Thor with her origins (won’t say more for spoilers) and of course The Grand Master was awesome. How can people not love Jeff Goldblum. He is one of those people I could watch an hour of him just talking. I absolutely loved the storyline on his planet, the gladiators and the revolution.

Sadly the part I didn’t like was about Hela and the whole Asgard part. This part felt less fun, less interesting and seemed mostly a way to move around the pieces in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She wasn’t interesting and I absolutely hated her outfit. That being said, it is fortunate they seem to spend more time dealing with Hulk/142/Thor on the scrap planet with The Grandmaster. It was pretty awesome.

The one other thing though that this underlined was the way Marvel ignores women. So many little cameos in the movie, and the one little tiny thing involving Black Widow just reminded me that we haven’t seen  a Black Widow movie, she gets less screen time then any of the others (even the Scarlett Witch, but she doesn’t even get her own movie). I am not sure what the problem is with Marvel, they have the Black Panther coming up (and I am going to be there first in line to see it) but still no women led movies.

The fact that D.C. has them beat on this just confuses me even more.

That being said, the movie was great. Definitely in the top 5 Marvel movies for me and the best Thor movie period.

The good: Action packed with a lot of fun moments. It was great to see Hulk/Banner as well, but Thor definitely made it his movie.

The bad: The part in Asgard was not in sync for me with the rest of the movie, and the whole movie underscored Marvel’s issues with female lead roles.

Of course I will see the next one, and I like his short hair better.

The Foreigner (2017)

The best Jackie Chan movie I have ever seen.

The trailer lies a bit. It gets the basics right. Jackie Chan plays a father who lost his daughter in a bombing and who wants the names of the people responsible. Pierce Brosnan is the Irish governmental member whom he goes after.

However, the trailer is misleading in how it portrays the movie itself. The trailer relies on Jackie’s known acrobatics, insinuating its another “John Wick” style action movie. It is not that at all, it is closer to a spy thriller.

There is a lot more drama, emotion and realism in the movie. People get hurt, the fight choreography seems more realistic and grounded. What you see in the trailer is the only real Hong Kong action you get. The movie does a fairly good job following Jackie Chan, but it also focuses a lot on the IRA, Pierce Brosnan and the UK police. Definitely has more of that spy feeling, with political manipulation and intimidation.

The good: Jackie Chan does great in this drama, and Pierce Brosnan is the most interesting I have seen him in a decade. The story is tight and keeps moving forward.

The bad: The view of the IRA is a little black and white for me, not really portraying why they fight, but just that they are killers. They do mention “the Troubles” but then again this is probably how western media portrays other groups that are believed to be resistance fighters/heroes to one side, and terrorists to the other.

I am glad I saw this, and I hope they stay true to the story and don’t make it a “franchise”. Some stories are better off being told once.

The Babysitter (2017)

Release Date: October 13, 2017

A fantastic comedic horror movie, once again showing how Netflix handily beats out the bigger movie companies.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS

The story is pretty straight forward, a boy just entering teen years who is picked on by bullies and who is afraid of everything.

Cole is surrounded by a lot of people including his parents who love him, but are distant. A close female friend that encourages and supports him. Then there is Bee, the babysitter who is attractive, smart and loves spending time with him. It is unfortunate that he is then surrounded by a satanic cult, and large tarantulas.

The movie is fast paced. Shortly after you learn to like Bee, you learn to hate her about as much as Cole accidentally learns that Bee leads a Satanic cult, intent on drinking blood, praying to Satan and killing Cole.

The Satanic Cult is priceless. I loved Max, the bad guy quarterback (played by Robbie Amell, first cousin of Stephen Amell who plays Arrow). John was also a great character, wanting sex, but screaming a lot when trouble happens. Unfortunately I wasn’t as impressed with the two other women in the cult, not because they were bad actresses but because of their roles.

I cannot express how much I loved Max being a murdering satanic cultist chasing Cole, who stops and shows Cole how to defend himself against bullies. I won’t say anymore, but that scene is the high point of the movie for me.

The movie is directed by McG, the same person that brought us Supernatural, and you can see his influence. The movie feels like something that could happen in the Supernatural world.

The good: Everything about this was good. I especially enjoyed the back and forth between Cole and Max.

The bad: That it was over in less than 90 minutes (actually that is probably good, they didn’t let it drag).

This just shows why I will almost always watch anything done by Netflix. Even with a few stinkers, Netflix usually supplies what I look for.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Not as good as the first, but still very entertaining

Recreating the exact feeling of the original movie will never be possible. It was a new take on old things and that is what made it different. However, this movie was pretty darn good anyways.

There were new characters introduced, and while I personally wasn’t as enticed by the American brand of Kingsman, overdone cowboys with even worse names then the Kingsman. Even so I felt it was fairly funny. The storyline itself was similar to the first movie, but did have some interesting twists that included implying the horribleness of capitalism and a very pessimistic view of our government.

There was a sex scene I was uncomfortable with, but I don’t think it was rapey or as bad as others  have talked about. The other item I disliked happened at the beginning of the movie and involved two close friends of Eggsy. I don’t want to spoil things so I wont say anymore, but I was disappointed we didn’t get to see more about them in this movie.

While I said it isn’t the same height of fun as the first one, it was a good, solid, funny spy movie. Not in the same class as Atomic Blonde, but they weren’t trying for that anyways.

The good: Funny, great fight scenes and I am fond of the Eggsy/Merlin interaction.

The bad: The American stereotype was pretty basic, I wish they could have done more to either make the Statesmen from somewhere more traditionally Old West, or switch the character types out to something more Southern.

I am definitely in for future movies for this series.

It (2017)

Absolutely worth seeing.

I am a bit biased, I have always liked Stephen King’s books, and his movies. Yes, even the horrible ones. I do love the original tv series with Tim Curry, but Bill Skarsgard is just as good, but in a more horrific way.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS!

 

The first thing you have to know, this is only half the book. This is the kid portion of the story. They have already hired the writer and are starting the sequel which is supposed to be the adult story. They even ended the movie with a “chapter one” meaning they knew they were going to do it.

So let’s focus on the kids. They are all great, including the mouthy Finn from Stranger Things. The acting was great, the stories for each kid were interesting, and horrifying in their own ways (especially Henry and Beverly’s, yes even the bad kid Henry had an interesting and almost heart breaking childhood).

The effects were great, but they didn’t lean on them too much, a lot of darkness, a lot of charging attacks, but nothing so horribly CGI that it would jar. Although the greatest effect was Bill Skarsgard himself. The voices he could make, the looks he gave, especially the intensity, were the most horrifying thing in the movie.

The directing was great too. They cut the story down, made it lean by doing something I wasn’t sure about, only covering half the book. They also got rid of the group sex scene from the book, definitely made it less skeevy that way. All the decisions I saw made the movie better.

I rank it up there with Kubrick’s the Shining as one of my favorite King movies.

The good: Everything. The acting, directing and of course the source material.

The bad: I did feel like I was missing something, but that is because I have read the book and watched the mini-series and it felt strange to not have the adult half of the story. It was a good choice, and that bad is on me, but it was the one thing that made me hesitate.

GO SEE IT!

Dunkirk (2017)

Overhyped, and ultimately a disappointment.

It is great to see a World War II movie come out this year. It is even better that it isn’t American centric. I love my country, but we have made it this idea we won World War II by ourselves which isn’t the case.

The movie has some pretty spots, taking the story of three groups that intertwine. The first group about British Spitfires (fighter planes) trying to give some cover, and engaging with German air force. Resulting in Tom Hardy having the only interesting action in the movie.

The second story about a small civilian ship as part of the armada of civilians coming to rescue the trapped soldiers and the story that unfolds when they pick up a soldier from a sunk ship.

Finally the third story is about two soldiers trying to survive on the beach, and wait for the rescue coming from the civilian ships.

It was interesting that all three stories occurred over different period of time but ended together. The fighters story was within an hour, the ship within a few hours, and the soldiers within a couple of days. I think this could work in other movies, and I suspect this will spark a lot of copycats for that style. We will hate this just as much as other niche storytelling styles within a few years.

The problem is there is actually very little story. It is hard to see that because the story keeps jumping around, but when you step back the story itself lacks anything. I have seen documentaries on Dunkirk that had more story. I don’t know if there was never a full story, or if maybe the story got lost when Nolan was trying to break it up to fight the weird timing, but either way it is pretty barren.

I cared nothing about the soldiers at all, Nolan provided nothing for the audience to care about. Tom Hardy was interesting, but that was because of him, not because the story gave him anything. The only story I felt a little compelling was about the civilian ship, its crew of two teens and an older man and how they handle picking up a survivor. Even this story though was lacking on details and when you step back you wonder where the other half of the story went.

I will admit the possibility that the hype was so big that my expectations may be too high. I was told huge action sequences, and I didn’t see that. This isn’t Saving Private Ryan, or The Battle of Britain even. It was fairly boring for me, and I can really like slow movies. The movie has a short run time, but I was still looking at the clock before it was over.

The good: It is an interesting way to tell a story, and it is nice to see a non-American based World War II movie.

The bad: The pacing was slow, very little action or story, and very overhyped.

This is a movie I would recommend if you are a die hard World War II fan, but even then wait until it hits Netflix.

Atomic Blonde (2017)

So close to being great, but that said it is still a good movie.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS!

The good parts overall are the actors. Charlize Theron is great in it. I think she makes a great action star. I think it is far past the time that they put women in those same roles. She outdoes the last several James Bond movies. The supporting actors are great too, even Mcavoy, whom isn’t my favorite actor. The story itself is a good one. However, it is a lot more “spy” movie then John Wick type action movie the trailer lets people see. I was happy to see Sofia Boutella in the movie as well, I liked her playing the Mummy in the Mummy earlier this year and it is good to see that movie won’t be an albatross around her neck.

The action itself is good. It is gritty, dirty fighting. Ms. Theron is beaten, and in turn beats people back. I felt the slow exhaustion as a fight wears on seems about right. As the movie progressed her bruises didn’t go away, her aches didn’t stop and even makeup couldn’t cover it all up. Also, her and the use of keys is pretty awesome and gross at the same time.

It feels weird to see a “period piece” movie that involves the same year I graduated high school. I guess that just shows me how old I am getting. However, the period piece may be the problem a lot of people have. The setting was East and West Berlin in 1989, the Soviets and the Allies are in constant struggle in the shadows. The problem I see for others (I didn’t have it myself) is connecting with the time period, the wall, and just the overall ambience. Like I said, I liked it. I just suspect the period might not be everyone’s style.

The pacing however was the part I didn’t like. This could be once again because the trailer was cut in a way that this was a John Wick style fight movie, when it was paced differently. I couldn’t even say the pacing was good for the story it was trying to tell. There were times that the movie felt way too long and slow. That is the part of the movie I think dragged everything else down. Maybe the most recent spat of movies has made it harder for me to enjoy this, but I think it was probably just not pacing well for itself. It would have lulls in weird spots, then bits of action, then back to a slow period.

The good: The acting was great, finally time to see another kick ass female main character.

The bad: The pacing dragged everything else back. Reduced it for me from great, to merely good.

I would see a sequel, but hopefully they would learn from that pacing.