Posts filed under Movie Reviews

Avengers: Infinity War REVIEW

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Sorry James Cameron, comic book movies are here to stay. For a while at least. 
Avengers: Infinity War hits the ground running and pulls no punches. I will go as far as to say that this is the greatest ensemble comic book movie to date. At a run time of a little over two and a half hours, the movie never stagnates and uses every second to the fullest. Contrary to the second two LOTR films in the trilogy, Infinity War never feels like multiple separate movies going on at the same time. All the individual stories serve the larger story and introduction between worlds are fluid and cohesive. 

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In a movie with such an enormous cast I was concerned that maybe some characters would be only on screen for a moment and I was mostly wrong. In a trend that seems to be recurring with the MCU a couple of folks were MIA (one which was expected) but someone from the past shows up and filled me with much joy and excitement... but that's all I'll say about that.
As I stated before, Infinity War is packed beginning to end with content and every character is given their time on screen. Each character serves a purpose and no one ever feels like they are there just because it's expected. Every moment these heroes have spent on screen in this movie and before was building toward the finale of this movie.

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The story was so well executed that if you told me that this was this first film written and they worked their way backwards with each film, I'd believe it. There is not one scene that could be removed in this Rube Goldberg machine of a movie that is the end result of perfect cinematic universe building. A fitting crescendo to a nerdy symphony ten years in the making! 
I wouldn't only recommend you see Avengers: Infinity War, I would recommend you see it twice or even thrice. It is that enjoyable. 


Below is the link to the SPOILER riddled Parking Lot Review I did with fellow Reservoir Geek, Doug Bashore immediately after seeing Avengers: Infinity War. If you've seen the movie or don't mind spoilers, enjoy!

 
 
 
Posted on April 28, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Super Troopers 2 REVIEW

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The problem with comedy sequels is far too often the second movie relies on material from the first movie too heavily. Take The Hangover 2 for instance; it is improbable that the exact same group of people would have the exact same experience twice but in different locations. The third movie was a departure from formula and was far superior to the second. Then you have a Bill and Ted situation wherein the second movie is vastly different from the first and it fails at the box office. An example of a well executed comedy sequel is 22 Jump Street; a sequel that is so aware of itself, it has many funnier moments than the first but makes the first necessary in order to enjoy the second.
Super Troopers 2 pulls off a bit of all three but never to the point in repeating itself to where it comes off as annoying or a waste of time and never dependent on the success of the first film. The story is another investigation into drugs (fitting as they are law enforcement) but this time set in Canada making it a fish out of water scenario. No character is underutilized and even the throwbacks to the first film feel natural and fluid to the story. 

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Something that makes this sequel special is that the entire core cast, outside of the Broken Lizard crew, returned. Brian Cox is used well throughout and is let loose with his comedic talent, a side we don't always get to see from the often serious actor. Even in the first Super Troopers he never went as far into the deep end of the comedy pool as he does here. Marisa Coughlan returns for a couple of short scenes as Ursula from the first movie showing that her relationship with Foster is still in full swing. As to not spoil anything I will keep my lips closed for any further mentions of cameos. 
Super Troopers 2 is not only a good sequel but a good movie. It's sequel status is improved more over by the fact that the second doesn't necessitate the first. Sure there are a few jokes and references but never to the point of the "most annoying noise in the world" from Dumb and Dumber. It's a fun time and a very enjoyable comedy. 
You won't be disappointed that you saw it. Maybe even make it a double-feature with the first. I don't care. What am I your dad?

To hear what we thought about Super Troopers 2 right after we saw it, click the picture below to listen to our SPOILERY episode of Parking Lot Review!

 
 
Posted on April 21, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Isle of Dogs REVIEW

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It’s no secret that I’m a Wes Anderson fangirl. If there’s a Wes Anderson-esque post or meme on social media, friends tag me. There’s a Wes Anderson Week on Instagram every year and I play along with images of symmetry, family, nostalgia, and overhead shots (do yourself a favor and start following #wesandersonstyle). I once dressed a vintage portrait to look like Royal Tenenbaum for a party room with those Reservoir Geek guys (you heard of them?). What can I say? The man’s got a style I can’t help but admire.
Despite my love for Mr. Anderson’s work and all the inspiration it affords me, I have to confess that I went to see Isle of Dogs with great trepidation. Why? To be honest, Anderson’s last two films, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom, weren’t my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still great… they just aren’t my favorite. But they aren’t my least favorite, either. That would be Fantastic Mr. Fox. Hence my sense of trepidation.
Anderson’s previous undertaking of an animal stop-motion film was charming and stylistic, but it was derivative and it just didn’t click with me. I was worried Isle of Dogs would be the same, albeit with an original story this time around. From what I’d read online as the film was being made, I wondered if Anderson could successfully navigate such a cultural departure, not to mention focusing on an entirely different species, from his usual work. I am so happy to report that my fears were unfounded because, doggone it, I absolutely loved Isle of Dogs.

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From the opening credits until the final seconds, I was enchanted, both by the quietly humorous, though at times dark, story and the stunning cinematography. Written by Wes Anderson with two of his previous cohorts, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, along with newcomer Kunichi Nomura, Isle of Dogs tells the story of flu-ridden canines in a not-too-distant-future Japan who are exiled by the government to Trash Island. A young boy, Atari (aka The Little Pilot), risks his life flying to the island to rescue his beloved guard dog Spots; after crashing on the island, he encounters a ragtag gang of alpha dogs who agree (one of them, grudgingly) to help reunite The Little Pilot and Spots. And the hero’s journey archetype commences. But who exactly is the hero? I won’t spoil it for you.
The stop-motion in Isle of Dogs was effortlessly detailed and really quite amazing. It had no ambition to be cutting edge and lifelike, nor was it distractingly opposite and clunky. In between moments of wondering how many hours of production it took to meticulously shift and film every tiny movement, a cloud of cotton batting comically sufficed as the dirt kicked up in a (sometimes gruesome) dog pack scuffle. It didn’t take itself too seriously and it was perfect. My favorite stylistic touch in Isle of Dogs was the incorporation of Japanese 2D animation. Any scene visualized through a screen, be it television, radar, or messaging screen, was rendered in beautifully flat and stylistically opposite 2D animation. It was a wonderful juxtaposition that Anderson wouldn’t have been able to pull off in a live-action film and I loved it.

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Of course, there are plenty of signature Wes Anderson traits sprinkled throughout the film if that’s what you’re looking for: symmetry unleashed from the get-go; clever color schemes (the colors of Japan were bold and intense, while the colors of Trash Island were muted and dusty); an eclectic soundtrack featuring works by Alexandre Desplat, songs from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Drunken Angels, and jangly psychedelic folk rock vibes from The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band; and an ensemble cast of now-beloved Wes Anderson regulars: Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton, to name a few. Anderson newcomer Bryan Cranston was great as the gruff Chief, as was Koyu Rankin as the kind-hearted and determined Atari.
I went to see the movie with a group of friends and, afterwards, we all chatted about which dog was our favorite (mine were Oracle and Duke - he just likes to gossip) and which parts made us cry (because you’re gonna cry). Isle of Dogs is about unlikely friendships, despotic governments (you can decide how much you want to read into the politics), vulnerability, and perseverance. Most importantly, it will also make you want to go home and give your best dog buddy a scratch and if it doesn’t, you have no feelings. Or you just don’t like dogs and that’s okay, too...  I guess. While it didn’t quite knock out my first place Wes Anderson film (The Royal Tenenbaums, always and forever), Isle of Dogs made a quick leap to the top of the list. Two enthusiastic paws up.

 
Posted on April 7, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Sorry, Not Sorry Cinema: DEEP RISING

Because I love starting recurring columns, that never recur: here's a new one! Welcome to "Sorry, Not Sorry" where we'll discuss the horrible things we love....with no apologies.

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1998's Deep Rising isn't a great movie. It's not a bad movie. It's a meh movie. BUT for some reason I have to re-watch it: Every. Time. I. Find. It. Streaming. 

I can't tell you why, but like the people that made this movie, I'll try.

Upon each subsequent viewing I find more and more wrong with it, but alas, here we are. I just watched Deep Rising again this afternoon. I was scrolling through HBOGo just minding my own business, I see Deep Rising and I'm like "oh, that's cool, I'll add that to my watchlist" annnnnnnnnnnnd I'm watching it again.

It's kind of a monster movie. It's kind of an action movie. It's trying really hard to be a comedy. It does all of these things to varying degrees. 

The story goes like this:

There's this big cruise ship sailing about in a storm filled to the brim with rich people. There's this hot lady-thief there to empty the ship's safe. She gets caught and locked in the pantry. There are strange groans and growls coming from the sea. Suddenly something goes wrong...

A few miles away we find our rugged hero getaway-boat-captain shuttling his tiny boat's crew towards an unknown destination with a group of mercenaries on board. They run across the cruise ship after their boat is damaged and head aboard looking for a way to repair their ship. Something's not right. The vessel is deserted save for a few survivors. As they search for clues they find themselves being picked off one by one by something...blah, blah, blah.

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You get the gist. There's some crazy monster from the deep lurking about and this ragtag group of criminals and crew must find a way off the boat. The monster is...interesting. It's like a giant squid...thing. It'd be scarier if the digital effects didn't look like some PS2-era video game cutscene. The movie could have been soooooo much better if they had put that CGI budget towards some practical effects. This movie came out four years after Jurassic Park so there's really no excuse. Somehow that low-res look, however laughable, adds to the charm. There aren't really any tense moments, but there are spaces for them. They're trying. So hard. For instance, there a scene when one of the thief-ship's crew is trying to repair the damage (the massive 4x6 foot hole) in the side of their ship and is attacked/eaten. She's welding an angled piece of the hull to...nothing. She's literally just running the welder/blowtorch over the surface of the metal all while water (up to her waist) sloshes over her work surface. She hears that aforementioned groan from the ocean and we know her time has come, but all I can think about is how in the hell did she intend to fix that gaping hole! Maybe it was some kind of new fangled metal that you could just heat up and stretch to mend like Billy Mays' Mighty Putty. This isn't the only instance of "tension" during metalwork. At almost the same time our captain, now aboard the cruise ship, is heating up a pipe and banging on it, somehow crafting a part to repair his ship's engine. He's actually banging the roundness out of the pipe. Not quite sure what that's supposed to fix, but while he works the monster strategically picks off another couple of mercenaries. Somehow, I'm still invested.

The dialog might be the best part. What better example could I offer than the THREE times "___________, my ass" is used in the span of 90 seconds. "You know what badass sea-people would say to each other? 'My ass' after they hear something ridiculous." Later on, during some of that tense welding, we get this hilarious exchange: 

Hero Captain: What you got there?

Comedic Relief Mechanic: Peanut...

Hero Captain: Peanut?

Comedic Relief Mechanic: Peanut.

Hero Captain: Okay, peanut...

Comedic Relief Mechanic: [drops his peanut in the water] Shit!

Some gut-busting stuff, I know. For some strange reason though...I laugh, or maybe that's too generous...let's say a smile creeps across my face, but a genuine smile nevertheless. There's a certain lameness to every line delivered in Deep Rising, but it's the confidence with which they are delivered that earns that smile. Deep Rising is one hour and forty five minutes of Dad-jokes.

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The cast and crew of Deep Rising is a veritable smorgasbord of "hey, it's that guy!" guys. Stephen Sommers is behind both the camera and word processor on this one pulling double duty as writer and director. You might not know his name, but Sommers scored a pretty big hit the following year with The Mummy. He's still active in Hollywood having most recently directed Odd Thomas which I rather enjoyed. Treat Williams stars as our wisecracking hero captain. No one can deliver Dad-jokes like a guy that looks like a friend of your Dad's. I mean this sincerely: Treat is a reel treat (I think that was a Dad-joke). Famke Janssen stars as hot lady-thief and love interest to Treat Williams. Oh, did I not mention that they manage to shoehorn a romance into this sea monster madness? Yeah, love blooms on a corpse-filled boat. Director Stephen Sommers must have taken a shine to comic relief mechanic Kevin J. O'Connor because O'Connor makes an appearance in several other Sommers joints throughout the years. This love affair may have actually been sparked years before when O'Connor (and Famke Janssen) played a role in Sommers' Lord of Illusions. The cast is rounded out with Anthony Heald (Silence of the Lambs), Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Cliff Curtis (Sunshine).

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Deep Rising closes with *spoilers* our two lovebirds escaping to a "deserted" island in the middle of the ocean only to be greeted with the rustling of trees in the distance as something huge makes its way across the island. Deep Rising was so sure of itself that it went ahead and filmed a ready-for-sequel ending. It's that self confidence that makes me love Deep Rising. I feel like I was onto something with the Dad-joke reference. Deep Rising is the "Dad" of movies: it's not funny, it's not sexy, it's not exciting, but dammit, you love it anyway.

  We give Deep Rising 5 digested fingers out of five!!!

We give Deep Rising 5 digested fingers out of five!!!

Deep Rising is available for streaming on HBOGo.

Posted on April 6, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Ready Player One REVIEW

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The much anticipated, Ready Player One, came out this week. Being a huge fan of the novel by the same name, I had to see it. It did not disappoint….much.

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Don’t get me wrong, the movie is great. It is a visual masterpiece of 80’s nostalgia that will drop your jaw. However, it is wildly different than the book. Don’t let that keep you away though. Ernest Cline, the author of the book, was also one of the writers of the screenplay. This was made with his full support.

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Steven Spielberg was tasked with directing this film and he knocked it out of the park. Strangely enough, his works are heavily featured throughout the novel, but almost completely stripped away from the movie. I can only guess the reasoning is licensing issues or he didn’t want a movie that sounded like he was patting himself on the back the whole time.

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Ready Player One is set in the year 2045 if a future wrought with poverty and apathy. It’s so bad, society has chosen to spend the majority of their waking hours in a virtual universe created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) and Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg) called The Oasis. After Halliday’s death, a message was broadcast around the globe that told of a quest to find 3 keys hidden throughout the virtual world. Whoever should find the three keys wins the ownership if The Oasis and the fortune that comes with it.

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While the movie may be different from the book on virtually every level, I can see why they did it. For one, like most novels, it just impossible to cram everything into two and a half hours. Sadly, this removes the backstory from most of the characters. You just have to accept the situations and social dynamics for what they are, but never really know why. Second, while the novel reads great and keeps you immersed in its world, it really just wouldn’t film well. While I may not have been able to watch the story I wanted and was expecting to see, the story they told was great. In the end, I was satisfied.

  Click here to listen to the PSRR Parking Lot Review of Ready Player One.

Click here to listen to the PSRR Parking Lot Review of Ready Player One.

Posted on March 31, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Eli Roth's Death Wish REVIEW

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Before we get going on the review it should be noted that I am a huge fan of the original 1974 Death Wish starring Charles Bronson. After talking to a couple leaving the theater I was in and my buddy Ray Boyer from the Flick or Flop podcast, it seems that seeing Eli Roth's movie without seeing the original makes it a 'fun' movie. Unfortunately, I HAVE seen the original and seeing the new one was a nightmare for me.
Since there is so little I liked about this one I will get that out of the way. Vincent D'Onofrio and Dean Norris do an amazing job as the brother and investigating detective, respectively. Perhaps it seems that way because they are surrounded by such trash but I don't think it is. D'Onofrio consistently nails home run performances no matter the film and this is no exception. Okay, that's it for the good.

There's been a lot of theories that it is this movie that will bring Bruce Willis back into the good graces of the audience once again and after seeing it I can tell you, that is not true. Maybe if we had a toned downed, Sixth Sense type Bruce Willis that would be the case but we don't get that at all here. What we get is John McClain in a doctor's coat who acts a little meek-ish but is still built like a brick shithouse with a shaved head. 
Charles Bronson was an action star for many years but in the role of Paul Kersey played a very convincing father and husband. His first kill leaves him shook to the core and after shooting the would be mugger in the gut, Bronson's Kersey runs away and vomits in a state of shock. Willis's Kersey shoots a carjacker (who is driving the stolen car straight at him with the intent to harm/scare) in the throat causing him to wreck into a light pole. The accomplice (who before getting in the car fired at Willis) exits the wrecked vehicle, they then get into a shootout wherein Willis's Kersey wounds the man then walks over and shoots him in the head. After that murder he walks over the car and watches the driver gasp for air before finally succumbing to his wounds. Remember, Bruce Willis plays a doctor. Just saying.

Bronson is torn by his decision to take the law into his own hands whereas Willis cannot get enough of it. The only thing that would be less believable than Bruce Willis as a doctor is Bruce Willis being able to show any range as an actor. Not that he is incapable of it, just that something in him has broken. Like Pacino after Sent of a Woman, Bruce Willis no longer has the ability to play anything other than a badass after the fifth Die Hard. Made worse over, due to the fact that he is now in his 60's and has still yet to transition to the older strong man like Clint Eastwood or Tommy Lee Jones. 
Back to the movie, shall we. Eli Roth reels it back but there is still plenty of blood and guts for you, if that's what you are looking for. The kills in the movie have no real excitement or style, save for the auto-shop scene that hearkens back to the days of Roth's earlier films. The story is lackadaisical at the offset and doesn't really get moving well into the second act. Even after the murder and attempted murder it moves listlessly before Willis gets the motivation to become a vigilante. Oddly enough it isn't the killing of his wife or head-shot his daughter receives but a beating by muggers in the street that is the final straw for him to get going.
From that point it moves pretty quickly as he hunts down the men who ruined his life and spends one day "outsmarting" the cops. It's really rather boring to be honest. You don't really care about him or his family. The ham-fisted character building is as subtle as a one act play written by a ninth grader. It's just all together lazy and boring. 
A few nitpicky parts here:
-Bruce Willis is a surgeon in a hospital who leaves mid-operation when paged and goes to perform other surgeries. He never preps between rooms. 
-He rushes in to a room where a cop has been shot but the guy flat-lines, like right away. While comforting the officer's partner a nurse comes up and says, "The shooter is in the O.R. now". I've never worked in a hospital but I don't think that's how a nurse describes a patient to a doctor... When he's walking away the cop yells to Willis, "So you're gonna save that killers life?" and in an ADR'd line, a good thirty feet away, in a crowded and busy hospital, Bruce Willis responds "If I can" in a volume that would only register as a slight whisper.
-And most egregious; his daughter who has been in a coma for a month due to a gun shot to the head, wakes up with perfect hair and Bruce Willis says that she will get to go home in a week. They did surgery to remove a bullet from, what I can only imagine, is her brain, and she has her wits about her enough to be able to go home in a week. She does tell her uncle D'Onofrio that therapy has been going good. Whatever the hell that mean.

As a fan of the original, I suggest that you don't see this. Maybe if it's streaming somewhere down the line, but even then it's not worth it. Watch the 1974 Death Wish. It's amazingly well written, directed and beautifully acted. Bronson's performance is so layered and nuanced, it's shocking that he was not nominated for his role as Paul Kersey. In fact, watch Death Wish 5 and you'll be better off than watching this garbage. 
I knew it was going to be bad, I just didn't know it would be this bad.

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If you have not already heard it, you can listen to what our pitch for a Death Wish remake would be on Prequel.Sequel.Reboot.Remake. available here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Posted on March 3, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Gotham by Gaslight REVIEW

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Remember that time Batman hunted Jack the Ripper? If not then 1) you haven’t read Gotham by Gaslight, and 2) you, my friend, are missing out! The good news for those Batman fans among you who don’t go “full nerd” by reading the comics is that DC just released an animated version on Blu-ray and rental or purchase streaming platforms.

For my fellow “Full Nerds” who may have read the comic previously, a fresh story still awaits you. As the movie wastes no time establishing, this was not merely an adaptation of the original story but a new tale set in the same Victorian era. Usually I’d be the first to balk at straying so far from the source material, but the only thing wrong with the original comic was that there was not enough of it- this animated movie takes the time to flesh out what a Batman universe of the late 1800’s might be. That means a handful of appearances from the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery, none of whom appeared in the comic (aside from a brief mention of a repeat killer shown on a wanted poster to look an awful lot like The Joker). The addition of these familiar faces in the animated telling add a “Whodunnit” element to the plot where the source material did not leave much mystery.

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Gotham by Gaslight the comicbook hit shelves in 1989 and was the first time DC officially used the branding “Elseworlds” - a distinction invented for reimaginings of familiar heroes’ origins for "one off” purposes. The comic was written by Brian Augustyn and illustrated by the talented Mike Mignola; if the latter name sounds familiar it’s because he'd later go on to create Hellboy and the rich universe that surrounded him. Mignola’s art style was perfect for the project, accomplishing a huge amount with his almost minimalist approach; heavy handed on the shadows in which The Ripper would hide and the Dark Knight has always thrived.

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Almost 30 years later, Warner Bros made the perfect choice to parallel Mignola’s style on the animation side of things by using the equally concise character design of Bruce Timm, legendary artist behind Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and countless others. He serves as Executive Producer on the movie and his team took the same approach as in his earlier Batman work- a color palette working largely in blacks, perfectly echoing the darkness of the subject matter.

It’s worth pointing out that while it shares Timm’s streamlined designs of “The New Batman Adventures”, Gotham by Gaslight is a dark departure not intended for kids. The movie is rated R for language and violence, a necessary tone for a story where the antagonist is one of the most famous serial killers of all time.

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It would be impossible to further compare the book and film without spoiling one or both, but when the credits rolled, the new path this movie paved for it’s familiar title did not overshadow the enjoyability. Gotham By Gaslight is a steampunk-tinged murder mystery definitely worth checking out and one of DC’s better ‘straight to DVD’ features of recent years; a worthy addition to any Bruce Timm animation collection.

 

Posted on February 19, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Black Panther Review

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The formula for Marvel movies relies heavy on action, jokes and then story. There's nothing wrong with that and it's the formula we've all come to love and enjoy. Black Panther takes that formula, repositions the weight of each and gives you an incredible story with plenty of action and toned down comic relief. That is what makes this film so special in the MCU, it's a real drama that doesn't make you yearn for the next action scene. It lives up to the excited anticipation of it's release which earned it the highest grossing pre-sale tickets of any non-Star Wars movie.

Beyond being a super hero origin story, Black Panther is a story of forgiveness and a moving one at that. Since I'm not too big on giving away plot and story points on opening night, I'll leave it at that and get right to the construction of the film. 

Usually a movie with an ensemble cast will falter with some character development slipping through the cracks but not here. Despite having a huge roster of new characters for us (comic film fans, not comic fans who also enjoy film) everybody is almost completely fleshed out and it never leaves you grasping at clues to remind us of the relationship between each player. The development of each person and relationship is never shoehorned in either, it all develops rather organically. That is thanks largely in part to writer/director Ryan Coogler who is best known for saving the Rocky franchise with his film, Creed. The other thanks would have to go to the amazing cast.

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Chadwick Boseman delivers an amazing performance, as per usual, owning the character of Black Panther 100% but even more so when the claws are put away as King T'Challa. He proves that it's no wonder that he stole the show in Captain America: Airport Fight and pretty much anything else he is in. And not to be overlooked, he who is quickly becoming one of this era's greatest actors who absolutley immerses himself into the character he's playing, Michael B. Jordan performs Killmonger with the passion of Creed and the unforgiving evil of... I can't thing of a time where he was hateable... Human Torch (based solely on how terrible Fant4stic was). The rest of the cast was top notch and to mention them all would take up this entire review, one thing I will point out is that Martin Freeman's accent never slips to British but does go Fargo-ish a few time. Listen and tell me if you here it.

I have little to no complaints about Black Panther and that's not the high of just getting out of the movie talking. It is amazing and if it does not get a nomination outside of special effects, it will be a damn shame. Comicbook movies have a hard time getting nominated but this is among the ones that truly deserve the honor.  

Go see Black Panther. You will not be disappointed.  

 

(There is a mid-credit scene and one post credit scene. The latter is... Okay. It's a second tier MCU character, just a heads up.) 

Posted on February 16, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Review: Cloverfield Paradox

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So since first finding out about Cloverfield Paradox being on Netflix all on five hours ago, I've been jittery with excitement. If you read the celebration piece I did on the tenth anniversary of the original you know that the series has developed a special place in my heart. That is why I am so overjoyed to not only find out it would be available mere hours after the trailers premiere but that I am now here writing this review moments after watching it in all it's glory.

You'll excuse any over gushing as I am still on my Cloverfield high. Since this review is coming out so soon after it's release I will do you the kindness of leaving any spoilers out (less the one Netflix pulled with the snapshot from the film).
Paradox is incredible. There, I said it. It hearkens back memories of films like Paul W. S. Anderson's Event Horizon, Danny Boyle's Sunshine and to a certain extent the Barry Levinson's Sphere. It contains all the magic of extreme isolation with suspense at the hand of a mysterious outsider who's choices are as suspect as the isolation itself. Unlike those films Paradox mixes in corresponding events on Earth which parallel the fear happening on board the space/ocean vessel where our heroes are trapped.
As far as the franchise goes, this installment seems to be the one that is most closely related to the original Cloverfield. One could look at this film and believe that it's the direct cause of the events that took place in New York. Not only is this movie from the same family but also the same genus as well. Though I do like 10 Cloverfield Lane, Paradox is what I was hoping it would have been. 
The cast is comprised of stars like Miss Sloane's Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Selma's David Oyelowo, Captain America: Civil War's sad dad Daniel Brühl and, my personal favorite, IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd. O'Dowd of course steals the show whenever he is on screen with his very understated comedic relief and Mbatha-Raw does an amazing job leading the film with so much intensity and compassion your heart aches for her. 
The film is the feature length directorial debut of Julius Onah who, I don't think I am to bold to declare, has a very bright future ahead of him. What better film than this for him to wet his feet with? A huge experiment in film distribution that, based on social media reaction, is an absolute hit and we have not the last of. A move so bold and that could have potentially backfired in the faces of Netflix and JJ Abrams. Imagine if they had pulled a stunt like this with a movie like Bright? My God...

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My only criticism of this and the entire Cloverfield franchise is that it leaves you wanting a direct sequel. I promised to be spoiler free and I will uphold my end of the deal here but when the movie ends, your mouth will be agape. You will more than likely do as I did and rewind the last 30 seconds to watch it again in all it's glory only to see the end credits roll while acknowledging to yourself that you will never get an answer for what the hell you just laid eyes on. Then rewind it again. 
Do yourself a favor and watch the movie now. Even if you already have. I know I will but for now, sleep (it's past midnight and I have work in the morning).

Posted on February 5, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.

Groundhog Day - 25th Anniversary

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In 1993 Groundhog Day (not "Groundhog's") was release, not on February 2nd but ten days later in fact on the 12th. For many it was a unique and brilliant story, myself included, but for Richard A. Lupoff it was a blatant rip off. Lupoff is the author of the 1973 short story 12:01PM and his story contains the same time-loop plot device where in a person keeps repeating the same hour of their life until they can resolve the issue. That story is far more bleak leaving the protagonist dead at the end only to have the hour start over again. The fun fact about 12:01PM is that less than a half year after the release of the beloved Bill Murray flick, Jonathan Silverman appeared in a Showtime Channel film version of the aforementioned short story.
So displeased was Lupoff that he considered suing Columbia Picture but eventually decided against it, thanks to the advise of his legal team. So with that mess all behind us, Groundhog Day was cemented as a landmark film that inspired so many others. 

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Below I've featured just a small sampling of the films inspired by the Groundhog Day plot devise, if I was to mention the episodes of television, this list would be endless. I would be remiss if I did not mention the amazing wonderful sixth season episode of X-Files entitled Monday. You can find it wherever X-Files is streaming. *Cue Sonny and Cher*

From teenage sex comedy to horror to murder mysteries to multiple dramas, the Groundhog Day treatment has been covered by all genres and, with the exception of Happy Death Day, it is always treated like an original idea. Listen, I'm not going to pretend I saw all these movies, I'm not sure anyone would pretend to have seen Premature, but I have seen my fair share. I'm a sucker for time travel. Source Code is amazing with a wonderful cameo by Scott Bakula who actually says his Quantum Leap catchphrase. Live.Die.Repea... or is it Edge of Tomorrow? It's a solid action film AND Happy Death Day is way better than it was perceived to be. If you get a chance, check it out. It even mentions Groundhog Day by name. I am sad to admit that I did see some of Naked, a remake of the Swedish film Naken and it was terrible.  

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Groundhog Day isn't just a great time travel movie, it's a great movie. Though it is the same short span of time repeated over and over, Murray's Phil growth as a human is among the finest ever told on the screen and the finest development any character has ever gone through in a 24 hour period. Obviously, I'm kidding about the 24 hours as Phil's journey takes, according to director Harold Ramis, 10 years (and according to some film nerds, upwards of 34 years). 
The film never falters and though deep and saddening at times, it never makes light of the desperate life Phil is burdened with. It's not only well written, directed and acted but it's beautiful to look at. Harold Ramis was at the top of his game with Groundhog Day and he made it all seem so effortless. 
Even though it is now a quarter of a century old, Groundhog Day still holds up. All the jokes still land, the story still has relevance and it still feels unique and special despite all the copies. Groundhog Day will be enjoyed by your children, their children and their children. It's just that good.

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Happy 25th Groundhog Day!

 

Posted on February 2, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.