Friday, August 25, 2017

Tough Guy Cinema: ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK

This is going to be a new ongoing series highlighting tough guy films. The selection of movies will be based on what my local Alamo Drafthouse programs. This blog is completely unaffiliated with the popular theater chain. Their programming inspires me to write about older films, classic movies. Revisiting movies on the big screen is fun, and in most cases essential.

As I've mentioned on my blog before, I am a huge John Carpenter fan. I was a fan of his movies before I even began to notice he was the director. If I remember correctly it wasn't until I was a teenager that I put two and two together that the filmmaker directed a bunch of movies I loved! Watching HALLOWEEN for the first time with one of my childhood friends (also a movie buff and Carpenter fan) was the movie that started this revelation. I quickly wanted to revisit every John Carpenter film!

My friend and I started our John Carpenter renaissance on the eve of DVD. At the time VHS was so cheep and my buddy snagged a copy of Carpenter's first film ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. That day Carpenter became my favorite filmmaker.

My earliest memory of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK was seeing it on cable. It's been so long that I cannot remember, but my educated guess is that the U.S.A. Network was the channel it played on the most? I also remember the poster at a young age, probably from the video store?

While channel surfing, occasionally I'd see bits and pieces of the movie. I always thought that ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK was a scary movie (probably because how dark the film looked and that I was 5 years old) so it never stayed very long before changing the channel. It must have been something about how The Duke's henchmen looked. And there is that scene early in the film where a woman gets pulled underground by a bunch of hands. No Thanks!

It was years later when I watched the film in its entirety, renting it from my local video store.

My impressions were mixed. The story was awesome, but the film itself looked really dated (the VHS copy was in pretty poor shape), and I laughed at a lot of the acting. That being said, Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken was awesome! I loved that there is this running joke in the film that everybody thinks he was dead. If I had to guess, this sounds like a BIG JAKE influence. Now that I think about it,there are a quite a lot of John Wayne and Howard Hawks tributes/influences in the Carpenter and Russell films!

For those that don't know, in the year 1997 crime in the United States has reached an all time high. Manhattan Island in New York City is now a penal colony. There is no law enforcement presence inside the island. Once you enter you can never leave.

One the way to global peace conference, Air Force One crashes lands in the prison while ejecting the leader of the free worlds escape pod. The president is immediately held for ransom. Enter Snake Plissken.

Pliskin has 24 hours to save the president so that he can present his speech on time.

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK maybe dated here and there, but the film (and character) is still a classic! The films musical score is still fantastic as well!

The night was almost perfect but Alamo's pre-show before the movie was highly disappointing. A perfect opportunity to showcase some amazingly cheesy knock-off trailers, it didn't happen. They didn't even show trailers for other John Carpenter films? What we got instead was some lame short of a guy spitting water out of his mouth?

Redemption is coming thankfully with the announcement of the BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA Dinner Party next month. I cannot wait!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

DETROIT

As I sat watching Kathryn Bigelow's new film DETROIT I couldn't stop thinking about her other films THE HURT LOCKER and ZERO DARK THIRTY. Her new film completes this kind of Docudrama trilogy. Or maybe not? The Docudrama might be Bigelow's thing from now on?

While watching DETROIT I also kept thinking about the documentary THE THIN BLUE LINE, and even Kurosawa's RASHOMON (me and my cinematic mind). But mainly I kept thinking about how gifted Kathryn Bigelow is as a filmmaker. Her eye for detail is amazing! Once the movie started I could not blink. And I became a fly on the wall during the raid at the Algiers Motel.

DETROIT opens up with how the riots started. A welcome home party for a couple of Vietnam vets gets crashed by the police because the building did not have a liquor license. Weak, but I guess that's 1967 for ya! So Detroit's finest fill 3 paddy wagons full of African Americans and send them off. The excessive act sets off the riots leaving Motor City a war zone.

Some time has passed but there is still unrest and a curfew, state police and national guard are helping city police.

In the first act of the film there are three storylines going on:

Three racist police officers are out on patrol, and one of them shoots and kills a defenseless looter. His superior turns the case to the DA.

Next we meet a young man pulling a triple shift working as a security guard to protect a grocery store. This character, played by John Boyega (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, ATTACK THE BLOCK) stole the show for me. His character Melvin Dismukes brings a level headedness to all the terror and chaos happening in the film. Expect to see a nomination come Oscar time

And lastly we meet a group of young talented singers called The Dramatics. They are just about to perform in front of their biggest crowd yet, when all of a sudden the police shut it down because of some rioting. Because of the chaos the group shack up at the Algiers Motel.

Larry, lead singer of the group and his friend Fred meet two lovely young ladies (maybe hookers?). The four of them go back to the room where the ladies are staying. Turns out that the room already has a party going on. Things get tense when a young gentleman gets distraught at all the racist police. Trying to scare some of people in the room by making a point, he shoots off a starter pistol.

A block or two away police and national guardsmen think they are under attack by a sniper. Back up is called and the racist cops we met earlier take the call (uh-oh). And being a hero, Dismukes locks up the grocery store and goes to help (uh-oh again).

The raid on the Algiers Motel takes place in about the middle of the film, and it is without a doubt the strongest act in the movie. Here is where Bigelow's background in genre filmmaking comes into play. The raid is intense and you feel like you're watching a horror movie!

Unfortunately, DETROIT starts to become a little long in the tooth in the third act of the film. It's still a good movie but the trial of the 3 police officers just felt off? Or maybe it was the fact that I had a feeling how badly things were going to end with a jury of all white people deciding the fate of the officers! And when it got to the end of the film I started to think to myself "There was no 'Based On True Events' title card at the beginning of the movie"? Odd?

My only complaint about the film is that I wish it was based more on true events. The end of the movie states that there just wasn't enough evidence in the Algiers incident, and they had to dramatize most of it. If the filmmakers were able to accomplish this I think DETROIT would have been even better! With that being said, the fact remains that 3 young black men were murdered and no justice was found!

Now you know why I thought of films like THE THIN BLUE LINE and RASHOMON.

DETROIT is Highly Recommended!!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

THE DARK TOWER

Where to begin? Well, for starters I should be thankful that I'm not a fan who has waited years for a film adaptation of the book series. To those folks I feel your pain. Lots of stuff that I've loved as a kid has been adapted to the big screen that just didn't translate well. THE DARK TOWER feels like a massive step backward in film adaptation? A film based on a 7 book series mashed together in 97 minutes? Are you kidding me? Boycott SONY!

Fans of Stephen King's beloved fantasy series deserved better. THE DARK TOWER beckons a 7 film franchise much like Harry Potter. If the books had more of a general King audience appeal to them, the Harry Potter treatment may have happened?

The original plan was a feature film followed by a television series; that'd be 4 movies and 3 T.V. shows. That idea sort of got dumped and slightly changed. The plan as of now (which will die on the vine come Monday) is 1 film and 1 show.

In anticipation for the movie I stared reading 'The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger'. I was instantly hooked! Seriously, I could have finished the book in a weekend, but ya know, movies and such.

Talking with a fan of the book series it was clear I didn't need to finish the book before the movie. I was reminded the film is a sequel to the book series. What a cool concept, a blank slate so that fans won't be upset at whatever the movie doesn't get "right".

Seeing that I am a newbie to the series it'd be difficult to explain the plot of what exactly is going on. Right now all I know besides the film is there is a man named Roland chasing another man across the desert. It's hinted at that this struggle has been going on and on for ages.

IMDB says: The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O'Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

So the Man in Black is trying to destroy the Dark Tower, that way nothing can stop evil entering the world(s). In our world, known as Keystone Earth, a boy named Jake has dreams of Roland, Walter, and a place called Mid-World. He illustrates his dreams and one day stumbles upon a doorway leading to land of his dreams.

Jake quickly meets Roland, the Gunslinger. After talking about his dreams and showing him a drawing of the Man in Black, the two embark on a quest to save the universe. Walter learns of Jake and captures him to aid in destroying the Dark Tower. Will Roland save Jake and finally defeat Walter, the Man in Black?

The verdict is still out on if I think THE DARK TOWER sucks. I've seen worse this year, I think? it's really going to be painful if I have to rewatch THE MUMMY and compare. My feelings as of right now are that THE DARK TOWER is just such a forgettable film. I did a double feature the night I watched it, and by the time I drove to the other theater I completely forgot about THE DARK TOWER.

I can't be as upset or mad as fans of the books, but there we're some things about the movie that down right pissed me off! The thing that has been bugging me ever since is that pretty much every action sequence takes place at night. And why are the action scenes at night you ask? Because the budget was so cheep that special effects took a back seat. I counted 3 action sequences shot at night (probably filtered to look like evening). Somebody that doesn't watch very many movies might think this is okay? But for seasoned moviegoers it's a clear indication that the films budget just wasn't there for special effects.

Final thoughts, for the fans sake I really really hope that one day THE DARK TOWER gets an awesome screen adaptation. I'm holding out for the television series to redeem the movie, but who knows at this point? Right now THE DARK TOWER is a rental at best.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

ATOMIC BLONDE

What if JOHN WICK opened up with the 'Boogyman' himself in a interrogation room? We fade in on a bruised up face of John, and a couple of police detectives asking him "Okay, start from the beginning."? The movie would be pretty boring. Yes, the movie would retain all the amazing action but the stakes are now zero. This is my biggest issue with ATOMIC BLONDE.

Maybe it's too much of a nitpick; but seriously, during every action scene I knew she was going to make it out alive. Unlike in JOHN WICK where I was on the edge of my seat wondering if the title character was going to survive or not? Part of it was because Wick had a death wish.

In ATOMIC BLONDE I found myself not caring because the audience knows she's going to make it out alive. That being said, I loved every action scene in the film! Director David Leitch knows how to direct action. The era of Paul Greengrass/shaky cam action is over, and good riddance!

Besides the great action set pieces, the look of the film is beautiful. Set in 1989, ATOMIC BLONDE really felt like an Eighties movie. I definitely got a Michael Mann vibe, and maybe even Walter Hill!

The only throwback quality that I thought missed the mark was the film's soundtrack? Don't get me wrong the music choices were excellent! I just thought that the execution of said songs were off a bit? Maybe BABY DRIVER spoiled me to much?

One last good thing I liked about the movie was that ATOMIC BLONDE just didn't feel like a JOHN WICK clone. Instead we get a spy movie! Good move on Leitch's part! I guess the trailers hinted at it and I just wasn't paying close attention?

Here's what IMDB says:

An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

I really don't feel like getting into spoilers because the plot of ATOMIC BLONDE is kind of a mess. No more a mess than say SPECTRE, but a mess nonetheless. My saving grace in piecing together the plot was only due to the fact that I've seen a lot of movies. Probably a cop out on my end, but it's true. I figured out who Lorraine was 5 minutes into the film. And the bad guy is pretty predictable.

In the end so what, because the action was cool. I paid to see Charlize Theron kick ass for 2 hours, and I felt that I got my money's worth.

And I cannot wait for ATOMIC BLONDE 2: JAGGED LITTLE KILL (ya know, the Nineties)! Because maybe in that one she won't be telling a story how it all went down, that way the stakes can be a higher!

In all honesty I will probably be seeing ATOMIC BLONDE in the theater again just because I am a fan of the action choreography and the director. It's a dream come true for me that we are finally getting American action films like this! 2017 is shaping up to becoming a great year in the action genre. It's dumb as all get out but I'm including xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE in that roster.

Final thoughts, ATOMIC BLONDE is highly recommend for fans of stylish films and action movies. Do not miss it in the theater!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Horror Show: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

The Horror Show is a new monthly post I'm going to try based on Alamo Drafthouse showcasing horror films once a month. We'll see how this goes? They are just starting out, so the movies might be slow going at first, let's hope not! My intent is to tell you the reader about the experience. Which will be even more cool once the theater gets their 35mm projector up and running!

Last week one of my dreams came true, I got to see the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET on the big screen! Now, you're probably thinking "Hasn't this guy reviewed that movie before"? Yes I have. In that review I mainly went on and on about how I thought the film was a classic, but mentioned more than once that Part 3 was my favorite. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS is still my favorite. This time around I'm going to try and focus more on the original and say a few things about watching it on the big screen at Alamo Drafthouse!

Let's start with the pre-show shall we! The 30 minutes before showtime was more than I imagined it would be! They showed music videos from DREAM WARRIORS, THE DREAM MASTER, and THE DREAM CHILD. I always get a kick out of watching the Dokken video with Freddy in it. The song Dream Warriors sucks but the best part is Freddy waking up from a nightmare, which is the band's music video. Classic! The other music videos were pretty forgettable; however, seeing The Fat Boys was pretty nostalgic.

Another highlight of mine was seeing those old Freddy Trivia hotline commercials. I remember in Jr. High always wanting to call the number but me and my friend could never get our parents permission. The thing was probably an overpriced scam anyways?

Instead of ELM STREET trailers they showed this promo about how DREAM WARRIORS was well on it's way to breaking VHS rental records. Or maybe it was purchases? It was at this moment that I felt that the pre show was a little too catered for the third film. I guess it makes since because that was the peak of the franchises popularity.

On with the movie!

By now all of you should know what A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is about. You've got child killer Fred Krueger haunting the teenagers of Elm Street because their parents murdered him in a house fire. But the main thing is how do you stop a killer who attacks you in your dreams? That's what remains scary about the first film. Writer and director Wes Craven knew what was scary.

The film is still scary but after seeing it as many times as I have, there's nothing really frighting about it anymore. Well except for the bloody body bag being dragged across the school hallways, that still gives me the chills! With that being said, seeing A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET on the big screen made the whole experience immersive. Everything is larger than life. For lack of a better word it made the dream world more nightmarish.

Watching the film on the big screen I noticed things I hadn't before. Like in the climax when Nancy is looking for Freddy and sho picks up Tina's crucifix, you can see Rod's switchblade. I realize it's plain as day but for the fist time (I believe) I noticed Nancy picking up her boyfriends bloody headphones. I've had to have seen that before, and just forgotten?

The audience was fun and into the film! This wasn't a movie party so the strict no talking and no cell phone policy was in place. I didn't notice very much screams from the audience which I found odd? Maybe it was a full house of die hard Freddy fans? But what I did notice was the chuckles due to some bad acting and bad dialogue. Heather Langenkamp who plays Nancy just isn't the best actress. An opinion like that is pretty blasphemous seeing that Nancy is the most iconic Elm Street kid. And I want to stress that the character is the best thing about the film. It's just some of her line deliveries are down right bad/hilarious!

Nancy had a few laughs from the audience but nothing compares to her mom! I have only seen one good performance from Ronee Blakley, she did an amazing job as a country western singer in the film NASHVILLE. Everything else I've seen her in she is pretty terrible. In ELM STREET, I really think she didn't give a crap about the film. The audience was rolling almost every time she uttered a line of dialogue. I laughed too, but was also getting embarrassed for her.

I've mentioned it in my first review, but my favorite thing about A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is worth repeating.

My favorite scene is the climax of the movie. We see a montage of Nancy setting traps all around her house for when she pulls Freddy out of her dream and into the real world. I think that's what I like most about the Nancy character. She fights back! It's easy to write off these slasher movies as 'women in peril' films, but not this one, not A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Dream becomes reality more and more as the film progresses. I could be wrong, but I really think that from the moment Nancy's boyfriend dies and till the end of the movie, it's all a dream. All that work rendering Freddy powerless was for nothing because pulling him into the 'real' world was still just a dream. Of course I could be completely wrong on this, or am I?

In conclusion, I am thrilled beyond measure that I got to see one of my favorite slasher flicks on the big screen! The only thing that would've made the night better was a 35mm print? I honestly believe that's coming! In the meantime, I plan on seeing more old favorites (maybe even some new ones) at the Alamo Drafthouse Horror Show!

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

The year had to have been 1999, or somewhere around then? A couple of friends of mine got me 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY on DVD for my birthday. It was my favorite DVD for awhile. In heavy rotation there were three movies I'd play endlessly; ALIEN, THE MATRIX, and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

The timing was just right for some reason? I think I was just becoming interested in film, the movie buff was born. My curiosity with 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY was the DVD cover. What was that astronaut in awe of? What did the astronauts find on the moon? All those questions were answered in digital video and Dolby Digital sound!

I was in awe from the second the film started! A black screen with classical music playing, no stars just darkness. The music faded out and the MGM logo appeared. Then the most famous music from the film started, Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss. This time though there was space; along with the Earth, Moon, and Sun. It probably sounds cliche but that choice of music is still awesome to this day!

The film is about the evolution of humanity. Million of years ago during the Dawn of Man, aliens (or something else) nudged the process of evolution along by placing the Monolith on Earth. Man was born. Flash forward to say, 2001 (heh)? In the space age humankind discover a signal on the surface of the moon. It's another Monolith, and therefore another leap for mankind. 18 months later a crew is heading to Jupiter in hopes of contact with another Monolith.

On board the space vessel Discovery One, Dr. Frank Poole and Dr. Dave Bowman are in charge while the other cosmonauts are in cryo-sleep. Assisting the ship and it's crew on the quest is a state-of-the-art computer called H.A.L. 9000. The advanced computer alert Frank and Dave to a antenna that will soon malfunction. The antenna is disconnected only to discover that there will be no malfunction? H.A.L. 9000 concludes that his error must be a human one? Thinking there is something wrong, the two men decide to disconnect H.A.L. The computer becomes self aware and kills Dr. Poole.

Dr. Bowman successfully shuts down H.A.L. and continues the mission to Jupiter. Arriving at the plant Dave tries to make contact with the Monolith. In doing so leads him on a voyage into Beyond the Infinite!

If you've never seen 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and thought my plot synopsis is too spoiler heavy, don't worry I've ruined nothing. There is definitely deeper meanings going on in the film than what I just described to you. The film is more about a cinematic experience rather than traditional storytelling.

For those of you who have seen the film and either hate it or just don't get it? I feel you. There was a time when I'd hate this movie! Why is everything so slow? Where is the plot? As I mentioned earlier, I think the timing for me was just right? And watching on DVD felt important to me.

Director Stanley Kubrick has made a science-fiction masterpiece that still holds up today!

It had been a good 18 - 20 years since the last time I saw the film. A couple of weeks ago the Alamo Drafthouse showed the film on the big screen. The theme of their theater is 2001, so it was fitting that during their grand opening they showcased the movie! Finally getting to see 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY on the big screen was a dream come true. It's weird, the movies 2 hour and 30 minute runtime went by like a breeze! I must have been that much into it.

Two weeks later, and I'm still into it! The other day I ordered some Russian science-fiction films and I'll be reviewing one of them shortly.

In conclusion, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY isn't my favorite film of all time, I just marvel at it every time I watch it. !f you like real science-fiction (STAR WARS is space-opera folks) and have never seen 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY do yourself a favor and watch the film immediately. It'll be an experience you'll never forget!

Friday, July 28, 2017

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

Imagine if you could eating a bowl of Lucky Charms but without any cereal and only the marshmallows. That's how I'd describe seeing VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS for the first time. After two bites you're probably done, and you might be sick...or have diabetes?

My feeling we're so mixed the first time I watched the film. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. The visual effects are amazing, but I knew deep down that wasn't the only thing good about the movie? Talking about VALERIAN to a friend at work I began to hate the film. I made up my mind that it wasn't very good. My thoughts on the film were put to rest.

A few days later I received some Russian science-fiction films in the mail. After watching the film SOLARIS, I started to think about VALERIAN again. The two films could not be further from one another, but they are both science-fiction films, and I've been on a big kick for the genre ever since watching 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY on the big screen for the first time ever!

I noticed that this week was the final time that Alamo Drafthouse was going to show VALERIAN in 3D. And 3D is the ONLY way to experience the film. So I decided to see it in the format one last time. If you love the film, then by all means 2D it on home video. But, your first experience must take place in Three Dimension.

VALERIAN probably isn't going to make my Top Ten list this year, but I sort of love the film after watching it a second time.

This film continues to get mixed reviews. And there is no middle ground, either you love it or hate it. My favorite criticism has been comparisons to the Star Wars Prequels. I find that kinda funny, and my disagreement will consist of me saying that VALERIAN is what George Lucas was trying to accomplish with those first two prequels. To me the movie was THE PHANTOM MENACE done correctly. If that's even a thing?

So you're probably thinking what the heck is VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS anyways? Something original? That's what I thought at first, but I was wrong. The film from visionary filmmaker Luc Besson is adapted from a French graphic novel published in the Sixties. And come to find out, the comic was very influential to films like Star Wars.

Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of my favorite comic book store, and when I go there I'm going to ask them if they can order me a collection of the source material! I'm curious on how well Besson adapted the material? Even on the first viewing I loved how the viewer is dumped into the universe. No boring origin of Valerian and Laureline in the academy, instead we get a day in the life adventure of this interstellar team.

IMBD lays it all out pretty simply: A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

And that's all you really need to know about the plot of VALERIAN. If you're thinking it sounds pretty generic and been-there-seen-that, you wouldn't be wrong. But sometimes film is about the journey rather than the destination.

Probably my only criticism of the film is that while I adore it's lack of pointless exposition dumps, VALERIAN could have used some? I found myself confused in the mythology of it all. Another thing I found distracting was the guy who played Valerian, Dane DeHaan and his choice to sound like Keanu Reeves? I swear it's not just a coincidence!

Despite how great I thought the two leads in the film were, my favorite character is probably Bubble, a shape-shifting alien played by pop star Rihanna.

But of course, my favorite thing about VALERIAN is how the film looks! The best way I can describe the production design of this movie is to imagine a Roger Corman science-fiction film with a $200 million dollar budget! If you're a Corman fan, I think you know what I'm talking about.

By now you already know if VALERIAN is a movie for you, with all the criticism available to watch or read on the web zone.

In conclusion, if you love pulpy science-fiction then I highly recommend VALERIAN. Just please watch it in 3D if you can!

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

My Spider-Man comic book collection isn't that impressive. I started collecting the Web Slinger books in the early nineties well into the mid-nineties. There were a couple of gems during that time, for instance I have the full Todd McFarlane run on 'Spider-Man', and I have the first Appearance of Carnage. Other than that, the stories in my collection of books is nothing special.

But getting that first issue of 'Spider-Man' #1 was when I fell in love with the character and started getting serious about comic book collecting! I hope my dad never reads this but some days after school I'd read some of his old issues of 'The Amazing Spider-Man'. And when I say old issues, I mean the early ones. That's all I'm going to say.

Reading the current and old issues Spider-Man became my favorite superhero. A ranking that would continually go back and forth between him and Batman. And like any fan of Peter Parker the reason he was my favorite was because of the continuous balance of fighting crime, school, having a social life, and making it home in time for supper!

It's strange that in the 9 years I have been blogging about movies, not once have I posted about a Spider-Man film? So here's a quick summery: I like SPIDER-MAN, love SPIDER-MAN 2, and I thought SPIDER-MAN 3 was just okay. Venom was lame and I hated the third act of the film. But, I did like the soap opera with Peter and Mary Jane.

It's hilarious how Sony has basically left the two THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN movies out to dry. Those films I think we're just a sad mistake. There is things I like about both of them: Andrew Garfield did a pretty good Peter Parker, but after seeing what Tom Holland has brought to the role, Garfield is in last place. I like how they introduced a romance with Peter and Gwen Stacy. And lastly I thought The Lizard was cool. That fight in the high school was pretty cool!

Now on to what I liked about THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2: His suit looked awesome!

I really didn't care for THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. Not only did the movie feel like a rushed production but for some odd reason Sony tried to change Peter's origin story? The story presented his powers as some sort of family destiny? Lame!

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 performed pretty bad at the box office and I think after a year or two turned to Marvel Studios for help. This news got me so pumped! Finally, Spidey was coming home!

Still to this day my favorite scene in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR was the introduction of Spider-Man. Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-Man all on the silver screen together, comic book movie bliss! I cannot wait for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR! Disney showed off some footage at D23, and the description is the film I have been dreaming about since Thanos made an appearance in THE AVENGERS.

So what did I think of SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING? I loved it! It's the best live action iteration of the character in my opinion. SPIDER-MAN 2 is still my favorite film of the franchise, but HOMECOMING represented the title character the best.

I love that the new film doesn't give us a third Peter Parker/Spider-Man origin story. Instead we the audience are plunged right into the first year of Parker's new powers.

Eight months after the events of CIVIL WAR, Peter Parker is biding his time as the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man while waiting for the call from Tony Stark to join The Avengers. Meanwhile, some low-level bad guys become arms dealers selling Chitauri tech-based weaponry. After thwarting an gun deal, Spider-Man begins to get in a little over his head. After his first encounter with the Vulture, Parker is left for dead drowning in a pond. An Iron Man drone saves him, with Stark giving him a warning/advice to stick with catching bicycle thieves.

But like a good teenager, Parker doesn't take his advice and further investigates the arms dealers. After a incident putting innocent lives at stake, Tony Stark takes Spider-Man's suit away. After getting "grounded" Peter decides to focus on school and a social life. But now he's become too involved with the Vulture and his arms-deal operation. With power comes great responsibility, as Parker dons his old suit to thwart Vulture one last time.

Sony along with Marvel Studios really hit it out of the park with SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. This time around nothing felt like a rewrite for SPIDER-MAN 4. And if it was there, I couldn't tell?

The cast is great! Tom Holland is now my favorite Peter Parker. He's brought something to the role that just captures the essence of the classic comic book character. By the time they reboot the franchise again I'll be too old to care, so I'm happy they finally got Spidey perfect!

Michael Keaton was great as always! Fans are saying he might be the best MCU villain since Loki, and I couldn't agree more! Keaton brings this blue collar attitude to the character that instantly identifiable with audiences. His origin I sympathized with and felt sorry for him and his crew. That's the making of a good antagonist when you feel/understand their motives. Keaton's performance might be my favorite thing in the film!

Another home run for me was the high school setting and Parker's classmates. I'm 40 years old so it's been a little while since I've seen a film set in school that I identify with. I don't want to spoil all the cool/funny moments, but director Jon Watts captured being a high schooler pretty perfectly.

In conclusion, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING got me pumped for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR! Only two more films before that one! Trust me, it'll be here before we know it. As for HOMECOMING sequels, I think the future installments are in good hands! What I don't trust is all the Spidey-verse spin-offs Sony has planed? So far things aren't sounding that great. Shouldn't Amy Pascal be fired by now?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

THE BIG SICK

Out of the 9 years I have been writing on the blog I maybe have reviewed only 3 or 4 Romantic Comedies? It's not that I don't like the genre, it's mostly because the movies themselves aren't worth writing about, let alone seeing? And let's face it, the Romantic Comedy genre has been bad for awhile. For the life of me I cannot remember the last good one I've seen?

Action and Horror films will always be my favorite, but I have a soft spot for Romantic Comedies. For years I have written numerous ideas for movies and have started but never finished a handful of scripts. All of them have been coming of age, tough guy, and horror stories. The most repeated constructive criticism I get from friends/peers is that I should write comedies. They are probably right, and I have enough 'real life' stories to make a pretty funny (or desperately pathetic) Romantic Comedy!

When I first heard about THE BIG SICK all I knew was that it stared on of the the guys from that SILICON VALLEY show and was produced by Judd Apatow. It was only after the five times (my fault) that I saw the films trailer going to Alamo Drafthouse, that I knew what the film was about. I wanted to see the film immediately at first, but then backtracked into waiting to rent it or catch on some streaming service. It's a good thing I decided to watch it in the theater because I love THE BIG SICK!

THE BIG SICK is co-written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, and it's directed by Michael Showalter. The film is loosely based on the true story of how Kmuail and Emily met and fell in love. In a brilliant move, Kmuail stars in the movie as himself. I wish Emily was in the film as well, but I'm sure there was reason why? However, the actress that plays Emily in the film was great. Before the film started there was a pre-show that had a interview with Emily V. Gordon, and after watching the film I think Zoe Kazan was a bit of perfect casting.

Without giving away too many spoilers, Kmuail is a struggling comedian who meets Emily after one of his sets. They hook up and eventually become a couple. Things start to become pretty serious, but unlike Emily, Kmuail hasn't told his parents about his new girlfriend yet. The reason is because of arranged marriage in his culture. This sparks a huge argument between the two and they break up.

A week or two later Emily gets real sick and Kmuail is the only one available to make a life or death decision. Emily is put in a medical induced coma to help fight a rare lung infection. Her out-of-town parents show up and back handedly thank Kmuail for everything he has done. Still in love with her, Kmuail keeps visiting the hospital despite Emily's parents feelings. Eventually the three of them start getting along with one another, helping the worry that a loved one and daughter are in the hospital.

Going into the third act of the film is a big spoiler so I'll stop right here.

It's rare that a Romantic Comedy gets any Oscar attention but you can believe me when I tell you that this film should at least get three nominations: One for Best Original Screenplay, the other one for Best Supporting Actress Holly Hunter, and this one might be a long shot but Ray Romano for Best Supporting Actor!

THE BIG SICK is a comedy but there is some serious drama going on and all the actors in this film knock it out of the park!

There are two scenes in the film that are my favorite: After a terrible decision of Emily's parents seeing one of Kmuail's stand-up sets, the three go back to Emily's apartment and bond. It's really touching. The second one is during a pretty dramatic family decision in the ICU waiting room. Holly and Ray bring it in this scene/moment.

To be honest, I was shocked by how much I liked this film. The main reason I decided to see it was because the film was directed by Michael Showalter. I have been a fan of his since the skit show THE STATE. I'm not going to say that this movie could have been directed by anybody, but it feels like Showalter took a backseat on this thing and just let the script come to life. This is not a complaint but rather a complement. I'd be interested in listening to a director's commentary to see what touches he added to Kmuail's and Emily's love story!

I highly, highly recommend THE BIG SICK!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

THE BAD BATCH

If IT COMES AT NIGHT was best described as THE WALKING DEAD without zombies, then THE BAD BATCH is MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and/or ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK without the high-octane action or President held for ransom. There's another movie I was reminded of but can't remember, I really need to write these reviews immediately after I watch them?

THE BAD BATCH is a post-apocalyptic film from visionary filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour. This is her second feature (as far as I know) and follow up to the critical acclaimed A GRIL WALKS HOME AT NIGHT. A film that is now on my list to watch!

When I first heard about THE BAD BATCH I quickly dismissed it as a VOD title, something I'd possibly catch on Netflix in the future. Then I saw on Facebook that Tim League (co-founder of Alamo Drafthouse) was distributing it under his company NEON. They released a film called COLOSSAL earlier in the year which I loved, so now I definitely was going to watch THE BAD BATCH!

For a film like THE BAD BATCH, one would typically have to see it on VOD at home. But, I was one of the fortunate few to see the film on a big screen. My city has an Alamo Drafthouse (brand new) and they specialize in showing independent films like THE BAD BATCH. Unfortunately, the audience for independent films is pretty slim in Springfield, MO. I think there were only 8 - 10 people in the theater watching it with me? The film only played a little over a week I think?

The Alamo has only been open about a month and is only operating half of their theaters, the end of July all 14 auditoriums will be running. Maybe then they play more independent films?

Much like IT COMES AT NIGHT, we're not given much explanation as to what's going on in THE BAD BATCH. Through some visuals we can see that the Bad Batch are branded and escorted to some sort of penal colony. Similar to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK but instead of a city, the Batch are dropped off in a desert wasteland. My guess is somewhere in Texas?

In the film we follow Arlen, who is brand new to this "prison". Almost immediately Arlen is attack by two hulking brutes in a golf cart. She wakes up to the terror that she has been captured by cannibals! Missing an arm and a leg, Arlen survives only to be food saved for later. Knowing her doom, Arlen successfully escapes the cannibals but passes out from the desert heat and is saved by mysterious drifter.

Five months later and Arlen is (almost) fully healed and residing in a town called Comfort. There is nothing special or peculiar (yet) about Comfort, it's a typical post-apocalyptic town. These scenes reminded of the video game FALLOUT 3 a little bit?

Feeling adventurous, Arlen goes outside of Comfort for a little bit of exploring. On her adventure she spots a golf cart and ends up killing a cannibal. In a heartbreaking moment (for me at least) the cannibal was a mother to a young child. The child follows Arlen back to Comfort.

Arlen is in for some big trouble when come to find out that the little girls father is a man named Miami Man, and is a bad ass!

Back in Comfort we finally meet the man who runs Comfort, The Dream. This is where the movie gets weird (in a good way) and becomes even more existential than it already was. In a nutshell, The Dream (played awesomely by Keanu Reeves) tells the town that key to comfort and the dream lies within. I don't remember exactly if that's what he said, I do know it's close enough.

The kid wanders off and runs into The Dream and his many wives. Arlen who seems like she doesn't want anything to do with Comfort or The Dream, leaves town. In the wasteland she runs into Miami Man who demands her daughter back or else!

This should be the moment that THE BAD BATCH is really good, but nothing ever really exciting happens. I wasn't expecting some big shoot out or action scene reminiscent of ROAD WARRIOR? There were even a few moments that I got bored. Arlen repeatedly leaving Comfort started to get on my nerves. With that being said, I kept getting sucked into the movie because of it's cultish appeal. It felt as if I was watching a lost cult classic from the Eighties?

In conclusion, I feel that I can only recommend THE BAD BATCH to movie buffs.

IT COMES AT NIGHT

For those that have seen Trey Edward Shults' IT COMES AT NIGHT, the question on all of our minds is, what exactly comes at night? Shults deliberately left in open to interpretation and has said that the title is a metaphor. I'm sure there are some who have seen the film have an exact idea what comes at night? Myself, I have no clue? My simple guess is nightmares, nightmares are the things that come at night.

This film has been getting a lot of praise among critics. The reaction is opposite with general audiences. The very same thing happened with last years THE WITCH. I haven't seen the film since the theater, but I liked THE WITCH. Now with IT COMES AT NIGHT, I am somewhere in the middle? I didn't love it but I also didn't hate it.

The critical praise of IT COMES AT NIGHT is a little overhyped in my opinion. In a nutshell, most critics like it because it arty. The director is a big fan of Kubrick, and it shows. Also, the 'less is more' approach is a big hit among the critics who love the movie.

In a multiplex full of studio driven movies with big stars, special effects, and boring exposition dialogue IT COMES AT NIGHT is a breath of fresh air! However, Trey Edward Shults went a little too carried away with 'less is more'.

The most simple way for me to describe IT COMES AT NIGHT is to label it as THE WALKING DEAD without zombies.

The film opens with a family killing one of their own because of some kind of disease. It is here that the movie is it's strongest. With little to no dialogue we're given information to move the plot along. I don't need some character or some voice-over telling me how or when the disease started.

The main character in the film is Travis, and it's his grandpa that they put down. He starts to have nightmares, and possibly insomnia. He probably doesn't sleep because of the nightmares?

In the middle of the night someone tries to break in their house. Paul, the father of the house drags the intruder outside and ties him to a tree. After a day of interrogation, Paul and the man whose name is Will make a deal. On the way to get Will's family the two are bushwhacked by two gunmen. This was my favorite scene in the film! I was on the edge of my seat thinking these guys are partners with Will. We never find out who they are or why they were out there because Paul kills them pretty quickly.

So now Will and his family move in and things go smoothly. This is right around the time I started thinking THE WALKING DEAD without zombies.

It's during a late afternoon of chopping wood that things start to get bad. Travis's dog sees something in the woods and goes after it. Paul refuses to have Travis chase after the dog. To avoid specific spoilers I'll just tell to the dog comes back a bloody mess. We're not told who brought him to the house/opened the door? People may or may not have been infected, and the psychological terror really amps up here!

At the time of writing this blog post/review, I really feel it's necessary to watch IT COMES AT NIGHT again? The aspects of the film that I wanted to heavily criticize I may actually like now that I think about it? Maybe the film is a brilliant slice of psychological terror!

In conclusion, I don't see IT COMES AT NIGHT making the list of my favorite films of the year, but I definitely want to check it out again.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

BABY DRIVER

Well, I think I've seen my favorite film of 2017! It comes as no real big surprise, because writer/director Edgar Wright is 5-0 in my book! All of his movies have been my favorite films of the year, except for one. THE SOCIAL NETWORK beat SCOTT PILGRM VS. THE WORLD in 2010.

This post/review of BABY DRIVER is a little late than I like, based on the simple fact that I want to watch the film a second and even third time (I've seen the movie twice now). That's one of the many aspects that I love about Edgar Wright's films, they demand multiple viewings! Not because they are hard to follow, but because they are so fun to watch! I am still catching jokes or seeing something new whenever I watch one of his movies. For the past few weeks I have been rewatching his filmography and I ended up watching THE WORLD'S END twice!

With his new film BABY DRIVER I did but didn't know what to expect? The reason I rewatched all of his movies before seeing this new one was because I wanted to get in the mind space of Wright. And I'm glad I did it! I was ready for BABY DRIVER!

A few days before the film released to theaters the soundtrack came out. Looking at the track list I marveled at the eclectic choice of songs. I almost bought the record, but I wanted the movie to be the first time I heard the music. The songs and music in BABY DRIVER are so good! It gives both GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY soundtracks a run for their money; okay, the second one at least?

The music and songs are practically a main character in BABY DRIVER, simply because our main character Baby (spelled B-A-B-Y) needs the music. It's his security blanket. As a viewer I instantly identified with this because I love music. You're probably thinking "who doesn't love music"? All I'm saying is that I'm the type of person who has to finish listening to a song in the car before I get out. When I think of movie ideas, I already have the soundtrack playing in my head. Get the picture?

The film opens with a glorious car chase scene, and Baby is the getaway driver. He's good at his job, but we quickly find out robbing banks isn't his cup of tea. Early on Baby got caught steeling some goods from a crime boss. To pay off this debt, Baby is always the getaway driver for jobs the crime boss sets up.

Before his penultimate job, Baby meets Debora, a waitress he becomes friends with. His mind is made up the moment he lays eyes on her that they are going to head west and never look back. But you know what they say about best-laid plains?

The crime boss is a man of his word, the debt is paid, but Baby is too much of a lucky charm and gets blackmailed into the next job. Tensions among the crew start to boil and Baby must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love, and freedom.

BABY DRIVER is currently my favorite film of 2017. It has everything and more in what I love about genre cinema. Tarantino is about to retire? that's okay, we've got Edgar Wright!

Normally in a post/blog like this I list of things I liked and didn't like. Instead of a hyperbolic list of things that I thought we're amazing, I'm going to write a few words about the thing that I think I love most about BABY DRIVER.

The thing that I think I like most about BABY DRIVER is how modern it is but not without being rooted in classic genre cinema! I love movies from the Seventies (almost as much as the Eighties). After watching the movie all I have been interested in is revisiting some of my favorite films from the decade. Good heist and tough guy movies.

Without giving away the ending I will say that the ending was excellent because it felt rooted in classic Seventies genre cinema. Edgar Wright has done his homework.

In conclusion, please skip whatever comic book movie or sequel you were planing on seeing this July 4th weekend, and see something fun and original.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

THE MUMMY (2017)

I love the Universal Monster movies from the 30's and 40's. Those films have an atmosphere about them that I still love to this day. So when I heard that Universal Pictures was bringing them back, I got excited. They announced that the resurgence was going be a cinematic universe. Okay? Whatever, just as long as the Monsters are coming back for a new generation to discover I'm fine with that. But, we're starting with THE MUMMY (again) and Tom Cruise is the star.

Tom Cruise? Now, I like Tom Cruise as an actor but this just felt weird? And weird it was, that first trailer was just awful! They fixed it the best they could a couple of trailers later, but the damage had been done. Instead of a monster movie it looked more like the Mission Impossible franchise just went supernatural?

Regardless of how low the Rotten Tomatoes score I was still going to see the film. I'm that much of a sucker when it comes to the Universal Monsters. When BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN comes out (2019?) I'll more that likely see it too. But after the domestic box office of THE MUMMY, I think Universal Pictures' Dark Universe is D.O.A.

Treasure hunter Nick Morton awakens an ancient princess from her crypt ("This is not a tomb, it's a prison"). The curse begins immediately as a murder of crows causes the airplane carrying the Egyptian coffin crashing to it's doom. Being the "hero", Tom Cruise, oops, I mean Nick Morton saves everybody but goes down with the aircraft.

Free from her sarcophagus, Princess Ahmanet sucks the life out of living things to regain her vigor. Meanwhile, Nick awakens in a morgue confused and apparently cursed. He learns from his treasure hunting partner Chris Vail ( who is also dead) that in order to break the curse, Nick must kill Ahmanet with some special dagger.

The good news for Nick is that he doesn't have to search for the Mummy because she will find him. After a chase and some tossing the protagonist around, a special team shows up and captures Ahmanet.

In some special disclosed location Nick meets Dr. Henry Jekyll. It's here where we the audience and Nick get a big exposition dump of what the heck is going on in the movie. And this is when I lost all interest in THE MUMMY. As a viewer I felt very insulted and robbed. If you thought IRON MAN 2 was terribly obvious in setting up the MCU, you haven't seen nothing yet!

I love the Marvel movies but their cinematic universe serialized storytelling has become the bane of franchise films existence. A childhood friend of mine loves BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. One of the many things he likes about that movie is that it's not a origin movie. Instead we're told a story with already established characters. My point in bringing this up is that I am getting extremely bored with serialized storytelling in blockbusters. The trend is becoming story small enough for one film stretched out over three (or more) films?

Studios are disguising box office returns with character development. If Tim Burtons' BATMAN was made today the third act of that film would now be the third movie. In terms of structure BATMAN is pretty solid! I haven't seen POWER RANGERS, but I've heard that they only become Power Rangers (in suits) at the end of the movie. We only see them once? The reason is not character development, the reason is milking the fans wallet. I'm ranting, so I'll wrap this up, all I'm saying is that you don't need one film stretched out into a "trilogy".

Bringing this back to THE MUMMY: maybe if Tom Cruise, the screenwriters, and the director just focused on Nick Morton vs. Ahmanet, then they might have had a better film? As awkward as it was bring in the Dr. Jekyll stuff at the end.

In conclusion, I don't expect THE MUMMY to be the worst movie I see this year, maybe the just the biggest disappointment?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

Last year when I went to go see ROUGE ONE, one of the trailers before the movie was a teaser for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. My first reaction was "They made a fifth one"? When the teaser played in front of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 I vocally displayed my disgust. The company I was with quickly told me the movie was getting quite the positive buzz. I didn't believe them.

One day hanging out with a good friend of mine convinced me to see the film. From the things my friend had heard about the movie it sounded like fun. But, the early positive buzz quickly got buried under a fair share of negitive reviews. I became very "on the fence" about seeing it, so I opted out of seeing it opening weekend.

Instead, I decided to watch the first three movies at home. It had been awhile since I'd last seen Gore Verbinski's PIRATES trilogy, so I made a weekend out of it. And let me tell you, you need a weekend. I had forgotten how long DEAD MAN'S CHEST and AT WORLD'S END were? Also, I forgot how much I liked the movies! Yes, they are both long and convoluted but I'd be lying if I say that I didn't soak it all up!

Here's where I may loose some credibility, it's just how my movie brain works sometimes, but to me the original PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN trilogy is Verbinski's STAR WARS of the open seas.

The enchantment of the Black Pearl reminded how mythic the Millennium Falcon was in the holy trilogy. I know he was more concerned about the precious "cargo" aboard the ship, but we know why Vader wanted the Falcon in EMPIRE! And in DEAD MAN'S CHEST, I loved the Flying Dutchmen! Davey Jones and his crew looked fantastic! I was quickly reminded of the awesome bounty hunters from EMPIRE! And finally, the opening action scene of AT WORLD'S END in my opinion is an homage to Jabba's Palace in RETURN OF THE JEDI!

Watching the first three films got me pumped for DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES that I decided to go ahead and watch the fourth entry, ON STRANGER TIDES. That movie killed my buzz. ON STRANGER TIDES is the definiton of a rushed film. 2011 was too soon to bring back Captain Jack Sparrow. Everything about the production felt bland. The Fountain of Youth is a great concept, but it's not supernatural enough and ulitmatly doesn't seem to fit in this franchise.

Needless to say I was exhausted after watching four films. I made the decision that I could wait till DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES hit Netflix, which would be about 6 months from now.

A few days later I met my friend again at Barnes & Noble. We talked about geek stuff that we normally do, but we mostly discussed the PIRATES franchise. He had seen DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES twice already and said that I should see the film! This is why I take a critic's opinion and RT percentage with a grain of salt. My friends recommendation got me pumped again. Don't get that confused with me thinking I am about to witness the greatest summer movie of 2017? If I decided to see DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, I knew pretty much what to expect.

So upon my friends recommendation I watched PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, and I liked it. It's not as good any of the Verbinski films, but it's a whole lot better than the garbage that is ON STRANGER TIDES.

For the fifth adventure of Captain Jack Sparrow we have Henry Turner (all grown up now), son of Will Turner looking for Poseidon's Trident. Legend has it that the trident can break any and all curses of the sea. Henry finds the trident and no longer will his father be bound to captain the Flying Dutchman.

Aboard a British vessel pursuing a pirate ship Henry meets Captain Salazar, a ghost of the sea trapped in the Devil's Triangle. To save his own life Henry tells Salazar he knows Jack Sparrow. Salazar wants revenge and Jack's famous compass.

Henry finds Sparrow, and with the aid of young scientist Carina Smyth, our three adventures are off to find Poseidon's Trident

The movie was entertaining but like I said not as good as any of the original trilogy installments. For a fifth film in a franchise I am amazed that the special effects are still awesome! Captain Salazar and his crew are pretty creepy.

And yes, Johnny Depp is adding nothing new to Captain Jack Sparrow. But you know what, I love slapstick and Depp delivers in that department!

Here's what I didn't care for:

The characters of Henry Turner and Carina Smyth are pretty bland. In someways I am not surprised because this has been a problem since the sequels. In DEAD MANS CHEST and more so in AT WORLD'S END, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan became cardboard for the most part. And in ON STRANGER TIDES those supporting characters we're even more cardboard and completely forgettable.

This next complaint is a spoiler so if you're wanting to see the movie stop reading and go see it, I recommend it.

My final complaint is Captain Barbossa. It has nothing to do with Geoffrey Rush's performance, it's great every time! My problem is that they killed off his character, again. Yes, I am sure it is because this film is meant to be the last one. But you all know as well as I do that if DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES makes a lot of money then they'll make another one. And I'm sure they'll bring back Barbossa, again?

Oops, one more complaint. The post-credit scene completely contradicts the film. How can Davey Jones come back all octopus like when all the curses of the sea have been broken? Maybe it was just a nightmare? Yeah, of course it was...

In conclusion, I recommend PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. If you're a fan of the franchise then you've probably seen it. If you were turned off by the last film, give this one a shot, it's a well earned redemption. And do I think this should be the last adventure of Captain Jack Sparrow? Yeah, I think it's time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL.2

Consider me shocked that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie? I was certain a film with a sentient tree and talking raccoon was going to be the first Marvel Studios dud. But, all that changed once I saw that first trailer! Director James Gunn making a Dirty Dozen-esque film about a group of Space-Mercenaries saving the galaxy from a genocidal maniac, count me in! Lo and behold GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY became my favorite film of 2014!

To say that my expectations were high for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL.2 is the understatement of the year. I'm just happy to report that the anticipated sequel did not let me down. At the time of writing this post my only complaint of the film is that it might be a little too long? A third viewing will determine if I'm for certain.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 takes place what seems like only a few months after the events from the first film. The rag-tag group of space mercenaries doing odd jobs to help the galaxy. Star-Lord and friends are helping a race called the Sovereign (who are too pretty to deal with matters that might make them dirty) fend off an alien creature that loves to feed off of the Sovereign's precious batteries.

This action sequence kicks off the movie, but director James Gunn does something brilliant. Much like the original film, the sequel opens with a music/dance number. But this time it's on a whole other level. While the Guardians are fighting the alien in the background, Baby Groot is dancing to music in the foreground. It's just the joyous thing ever! I have two theories/opinions about this opening. First, it's just a throwback to the opening of the first film? Or, it's the films mission statement letting the audience know that they are in for a fun-filled comic book movie ride, in true Marvel Studios fashion!

The battery-eating monster creature is defeated and the Guardians are rewarded, but Rocket takes some batteries for himself. The Sovereign are slighted by this and demand nothing less than death. Outnumbered, the Guardians face certain doom until a mysterious figure appears and saves them.

The mysterious savoir is a man named Ego, who claims to be Star-Lord's father. Peter decides to go with Ego, but brings along Gamora and Drax in case something bad goes down. Rocket, Groot, and prisoner Nebula stay with the ship while Rocket repairs it. So sticking with second movie tradition, the team splits up.

Meanwhile, Yondu and his Ravagers are having a good time at a interglatic brothel. The Sovereign show up and offer a reward for the death of the Guardians. Yondu accepts the offer in his typical fashion, and by that I mean you know he's not going to just straight up kill the Guardians of the Galaxy. He'll scheme another plan, you just know it.

Back on Ego, Peter is getting to know his father but nothing is as it seems and something sinister is afoot. Yondu's plans backfire when Nebula escapes and captures him and Rocket. Can they get free and reclaim their ship in time to help the other Guardians of the Galaxy?

Man, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 rocks! I still think the first film is better, but just barely. Until I saw WONDER WOMAN it was easily my favorite comic-book movie of the year. Taking a page from successful sequels like THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KAHN, director James Gunn gets it right!

He ups the ante without the film feeling too over-bloated. And he expounds on some character conflicts developed in the first film.

I love the sisterly rivalry between Gamora and Nebula. It's so fun and heartbreaking at the same time. Thanos better be careful of these two come AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR!

And of course I loved Kurt Russell as Ego! It was sad to see him play a bad guy (oops spoiler), but he's so damn fun playing a villain! Check out DEATH PROOF to see what I mean. Kurt has always been one of my favorite actors, so seeing him in the MCU puts a smile on my face.

But the best thing about GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 was Yondu. He was my favorite character in the first film, so it was awesome that his role in VOL. 2 ended up being important and stealing the show!

As I mentioned earlier, my only complaint with the film might be the length? A third viewing is in order to see if I really feel this way or not. The second time we were on the front row of IMAX 3D. It was bad, but not quite terrible? So as you can tell, a third time is a charm. And here in a few weeks my town is getting a new movie theater, a Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to be exact! And you can bet your bottom dollar if they are showing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, I'll be in attendance with a pint of my favorite Stout!

In conclusion, if you haven't yet, see GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2! But if you love comic-book movies, then you probably already have!