Sunday, February 18, 2018

Theatrical Review: 50 Shades Freed

Image result for 50 shades freed

Date: Saturday February 17 2018
Time: 12:20pm
Place: Cinemark Theater in Stroud Mall
Party: 3 (my mom, one of her friends from the community, and I)
Director: James Foley (I looked it up and he is the same James Foley who almost directed Purple Rain- he turned it down and suggested Al Magnoli who went on to do an amazing job with it)
Writers: EL James (novel), Niall Leonard (screenplay) (fun fact: they're married! mind=blown)
Composer: Danny Elfman
Anastasia Steele- Dakota Johnson
Christian Grey- Jamie Dornan
Jack Hyde- Eric Johnson
Elliot Grey- Luke Grimes
Mia Grey- Rita Ora
Taylor- Mark Martini
Jose- Victor Rasuk
Kate Kavanaugh- Eloise Mumford
Dr. Grace Gray- Marcia Gay Harden
Gia Matteo- Arielle Kebbel
Sawyer- Brant Daugherty (of "Pretty Little Liars" fame)
Prescott- Kirsten Alter
Boyce Fox- Tyler Hoechlin
Duration: 105 minutes (+3 trailers)

my review of the previous movies for those who are interested... then maybe you'll get an idea of what kind of review is about to follow
Opening comments 
A couple of firsts came with this movie.
First, my mom and I had someone else in our party this time. Funny that the other day, she asked if we should include my aunt (who saw all those sci-fi/superhero movies with us) and I said no... and then she comes back from happy hour and says one of her friends wanted to come. I thought for sure it was going to be super awkward, but we were driving in the car on our way there (hit a little traffic, but luckily missed nothing) and she made that same comment and we agreed.
I think what kinda helped was that she sat next to my mom and I was on my mom's other side and I was kinda reacting to the movie on my own without much conversation between us. The funny thing is that instead of us seeing it in our local theater (which burned down a few days after we saw "Despicable ME 3"), it was in a big movie house and yet, the experience was simultaneously being part of a large group and intimate. If that makes any sense...
I will say that I didn't care much for the TV promos for this movie... pretty much every one montaged all the scenes where Anastasia was answering to "Mrs. Grey" or saying to call her that... yet in the books, she wasn't so quick to adopt her new married name and it was a point of contention between them. And don't get me started on the use of that Demi Levato song, argh!!
As for the actual movie trailers...well, after traffic, and having trouble finding a parking spot (it felt like it was a Black Friday situation except I'd never been to the mall on Black Friday-- must be the President's Day weekend sales), we were stuck in line for a bit because people in front of us wanted to do more than just buy a movie ticket and go... what a pain... luckily a second cashier showed up to take care of us...
Anyway, we were in by the end of a trailer. One of the actors played Morgan in "The Mindy Project" (that was such a great show...). From there, there were 3:
Ocean's 8- Sandra Bullock is out on parole like George Clooney was and she's getting a group together to rob from a fashion show. Mindy is in the cast along with a lot of other bad ass chicks of various backgrounds. It looks like a lot of fun.
Book Club- it's about women in their 60's and 70's wanting to rekindle the sex in their lives after they read 50 Shades of Grey... this was the PERFECT trailer for this movie, I swear :P not sure if we'd see it in a theater because my folks are mad about something Jane Fonda was politically involved in years ago... but it'd be fun to see on HBO when it comes there.
Mamma Mia! 2- I'd heard about this, but had no idea how they could do another movie or what it's even about. I was afraid that Sophie had cheated on Skye with 2 other guys and she was in the same situation as her mom. It is actually following the model of the "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" sequel where they went into how Tula's parents met. The young girl in the trailers is actually Donna and how she met Sam, Bill and Harry and Donna and the Dynamos became a thing. A bunch of us are still mad about Meryl Streep's political comments, but we still like her in movies like this. It also appears that they recast Harry Bright cuz that does not look like Colin Firth. Too bad they couldn't recast Pierce Brosnan and get someone who can actually sing...
:sigh: much like I'd been doing all this stuff to put off doing some Prince-related writing (summing up why my favorite songs and albums are my favorites)... I'm putting off getting to this actual movie... it really wasn't that bad, but it's not Oscar-worthy cinema by any stretch of the imagination.
Book to Movie Adaptation
I did this for all the other movies, so I might as well do it now. I think this was a faithful adaptation. There were some R-rated details and uncomfortable dialogue that they did not put in the script... I think there was a scene during the honeymoon where Christian told Anastasia not to use the bathroom before sex because it'll make for a better orgasm. Something like that... although I've heard (not that I'd personally know- still a virgin and in no hurry to change that) you should do so after you have sex because it cuts the risks of UTIs.
And then... well, the trailers do spoil the fact that Anastasia gets knocked up, that's not giving much away... there is a scene towards the end of the movie where they do stuff in the red room while she's pregnant... seriously, WTF? Then he makes some other comment that just made me wanting to shout obscenities at him. But then again, I spent much of this book doing that. It's a strange thing, though, because my plan in life does not involve having children, yet whenever a man gets possessive of a woman and pregnancy is involved, I flip out on them. It's about her and the baby, it's not about you and your so-called "needs."
I don't know if it's that feminine instinct or I was really wronged by a man in a previous life... I've got a lot of weird opinions about a lot of random things. And there are some Prince songs I don't like to listen to because the lyrical content conflicts with those opinions... less than 10 out of 100's of songs...
Moving on... already WAY off topic.

The Main Event
Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey get married in a nice ceremony and there's a montage with the opening credits showing all their honeymoon exploits. (Which are more about collecting Pandora charms than sex scenes-- but they did manage to squeeze one in there... because why not?).
However, getting married has not deterred Christian from being possessive and controlling. If anything, it's gotten worse. I will give him the fact that Anastasia potentially winding up in a tabloid because her being bare-breasted on a nude beach... but everything else after that... there's a reason RED is the safe word here. A lot of red flags. As much as he is willing to compromise and he's compromised a lot over the last movie, there are still issues I have with him that will likely never go away.
Much of the movie is about the two of them adjusting to the married life, dealing with the underlying threat of Jack Hyde (Anastasia's former boss who attacked her in the previous movie) and an unexpected pregnancy.
For the sex itself... they did up the ante a bit compared to the previous movie.
It's like this... the first movie was about the two of them getting to know each other. Likewise, their sexual identity as a couple was still trying to find itself. The second movie brought more communication into the fray and this movie has more focus on the S&M bondge and such. Like it's a regular thing for them now and she's ok with it. And compared to the previous two movies, there were more sex scenes. At least one or two more that I can remember.
Not counting the honeymoon montage and one of those scenes where there's a look exchanged and the next scene she's asleep in bed...
1- handcuffs on her wrists and ankles... a bit of dialogue that was missing, though... in the book, after they finish, he's very apologetic to her because the handcuffs left marks on her skin and he'd been too rough on her... this is one of those points where the book harkened back to Twilight where Edward was really apologetic to Bella after they have sex because he left bruises all over her body. It bothered me how some people said that their relationship was abusive and that scene was an example of that. It was not intentional at all. Whereas I'm pretty sure the handcuffs were Christian's idea and he regretted it afterwards.
2- there's a car chase scene... a really cool one... and for whatever reason, Anastasia got such a high off that adrenaline rush that when they pull over into a parking lot, she climbs on top of him and they do it right there... I don't remember that scene in the book at all (the chase scene or the sex)... I don't know what everyone else was thinking, but I was kinda like "yeah, ok..." not really sure what to think. Also, the way it was shot and acted out, it was a little clunky and awkward. Almost like a scene from Showgirls where the actors were positioned in a such a way where there is no conceivable way that penetration could have occurred. Actually, there wasn't just one scene in Showgirls like that. (I hadn't seen the movie myself and don't plan to, but I had seen a couple of videos of people reviewing it or just pointing out all the CinemaSins committed)
3- the "frustration" scene where Anastasia actually uses her safe word... on the third book and it FINALLY happens... as she puts it afterwards, "that was not love, that was revenge"... I remember reading that scene in the book and cheering that she took a stand. But I don't remember it involving a vibrator. That was another of those awkward scenes to kinda watch. I have a feeling that it'd be the kind of scene where, if I was younger, my mom would send me out of the room and to come back when it's over. (That happened years ago when she was watching The Sweetest Thing and I think it was an oral sex scene... I think I saw it years later when I was old enough and she was the one on the receiving end).
4- well, let's just say this scene kinda ruined Ben & Jerry for everyone :P ... the only cliché that was missing out of it... the two of them were getting busy on a tabletop in the middle of the night... I was so waiting for the following scene to be the next morning and everyone was having breakfast at the same table... they had that "boob land" dialogue in the nude beach scene yet they couldn't push the super cheesiness of this movie to that extent?
Minus Ben & Jerry, that scene kinda made me think about a Prince lyric "I'd rather wait 'til everyone's fast asleep and do it in the kitchen on the tabletop"... "Shh" is such a great song if only for the guitar solos alone...
5- there's a montage that occurs in Anastasia's mind when she's musing over a cup of tea of them having sex...
I might be missing another, but that's the basic gist of it.
For the most part, though... the positions really didn't vary a whole lot... some might find that lame and boring... but I guess as far as the awkward vs. erotic debate goes, this movie probably has the most awkward sex scenes of the franchise. It's almost like they stopped caring about not hamming it up too much. They knew the material wasn't the greatest and just wanted to get through it.
I know this franchise is meant to be about... as Anastasia puts it in the second movie.. "kinky fuckery"... the best parts of it weren't about it so much as the villain.
I don't know why, but I kept calling Jack Hyde "Eric" in my head... maybe cuz he reminds me of Eric from "True Blood" despite not having seen much of it... or cuz his actor's name is Eric... but yeah, the threat of them coming after them felt really real. And the adrenaline involved with that was a good high. Not to mention it means something interesting is going on.
There were a few laughs during the movie at some inappropriate times (never during the sex scenes, so that was good), but there were some good timed laughs. One of them was when Jack gets reprimanded by the bodyguards and they say how they don't have anything to hold him. Anastasia says that they have things to use... it's like... yeah, we ALL know what she's talking about. And it's a good use of that equipment for sure.
However, the ultimate climax of the movie... it maybe borrowed a little too much from Twilight... the female protagonist having to meet someone dangerous and keeping their movements secret from everyone else they care about... but it was a good conclusion to this. And Anastasia gets to have one more bad-ass moment I had to cheer for- even if I was the only one in the theater to do so. (The Twilight movies really did not give that to Bella at all and that's a tragedy... she's much better a character than she's given credit for, I think).
Beyond the sex and the action, this movie is ultimately character driven and it's about our two main characters and their relationship. They're not going to buy into it unless you feel invested in them. Some people aren't, but I am for some odd reason I really can't explain. I just hang on the edge of my seat (despite knowing what happens) to see where things go with them.
The biggest issue I had with Christian Grey throughout the books boiled down to his overreaction over Anastasia's pregnancy.
But the way it comes about in the books, maybe I was reading too much into things, but I was under the impression that someone at work was purposely not fielding calls from Anastasia's doctor to her about certain appointments and that's how she missed getting her birth control shots.
However, in the movie, she gets sick and sees a doctor and just finds out she's pregnant and just simply forgot to go for her injections. And then Christian loses his shit over that.
:sigh: see, this is my big issue... somewhere in the 2nd book, he makes a comment that he hates condoms and has her see a doctor to get a certain kind of birth control that is a monthly injections. If this relationship is ultimately his idea, why the hell is it her responsibility to be on birth control? If it was a mutual thing that both of them did, that'd be something else... but him losing it with her just infuriated me. In the book, they were having sex practically every chapter. Not so much in the movies, but really... all that sex, what do you expect is going to happen?
Not in the book, but in Breaking Dawn part 1, I also took issue with Edward's reaction to Bella wanting to keep her pregnancy. Because this human-vampire hybrid baby was practically killing her, he said that they were supposed to be partners after being married and she had decided without him to take herself away from him forever. Men (living or undead) can be real jerks sometimes when unplanned pregnancies occur and it just infuriates me.
But when the two of them (back to Anastasia and Christian) talked about it and she really gave him a piece of her mind about his overreaction to what happened... that was just so good on her. I was proud of her just telling him how she felt and not letting him off the hook for his behavior.
That was something that the third person in our party admired to. She said how she kinda didn't like the actress in the previous movies, but she really liked how she stood up for herself. In a world that has become so about girl power and women being able to stand up for themselves... not a lot of the movie really speaks in favor of that, but there were scenes like this that supported it. And I thought that was good.
Not sure of what any of the songs were, but there were some really good songs in the movie. And of course, I got a little emotional when "Love me Like you do" made a comeback at the end in a very predicable fashion... I just love that song so much and I had since put it to a figure skating montage. Not someone I have romantic feelings for, mind you, but his skating just kept coming to mind when I listened to it to the point I just couldn't avoid doing it. It's not as good as the montage I did with a Depeche Mode song (which really told a good story through the footage I used), but it went all right.
As for grading this movie...
I guess I'll give a B+.
There were some good points in the movie I really liked, but there were some low points where I either hated Christian Grey or just thought the sex scenes were awkward to watch. Or just really bad cheesy dialogue.
One thing he did that I liked... after doing something that made me very unhappy... Anastasia commented how she never got to spend time with her friends anymore. The next scene, her friends get to come with her on a weekend getaway and she gets some good time with them. And somewhere in between, Ben & Jerry becomes the third party of a three-way. I'm not the type of girl who needs to get a pint to eat my feelings about things, but it will be a while before I get myself another pint :P

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Movies [that I saw]

As hard as it is to believe that this year is finally over, it's even harder to believe how few movies I wound up seeing. Not just in theaters, but also on HBO or other random TV networks.
I don't know if this past election had anything to do with (it does put a damper on things when so many people are acting like having a President Donald Trump is the end of the world...) or less accessibility to a local theater (the one I'd done countless reviews at burned down earlier this year) or this year's movies sucked... but I just wasn't feeling it this year.

So, of non-theatrical releases I saw this year, the best were:

  • Breakfast at Tiffany's
I'd been waiting at least 5 years to see this one and it was totally worth the wait. My parents kept saying how much of a flake Holly Golightly is, but Audrey Hepburn played her so well. While it might not be the best thing to live your life the way she does (not so much the call-girl thing, but making your life into a fantasy), it was something I wish I could pull off. There's a certain romance about it.
  • Sully
Tom Hanks was so good in this. While I thought the whole premise (not just in the movie, but real life as well) is completely ridiculous, how the FAA and other agencies grilled Captain Sully and treated him like a criminal because he chose a water landing that ruined a perfectly good airplane... but halfway through, when things were starting to look up, the movie got even better. And it oddly wasn't as long a movie as you'd think, considering it was a bio-pic.
  • Hacksaw Ridge
I'm not big on war movies or movies that run a little on the long side... but this was one exception. I had planned to watch only an hour and go to another movie... I just couldn't look away. I had to find out what happened with Andrew Garfield as this conscientious objector. And damn, he was good. 
  • Hidden Figures
This movie deserved all the praise it got and probably more awards than simply nominations. #GirlPower
I'd never seen Empire, but I know what a bad-ass Taraji B. Henson is as Cookie. And it was kinda cool to see her in a complete opposite role than her most famous. All the girls were so good in this. I don't know what it is about Kevin Costner, but when he does roles like this where he has some authority or does something to stand up for someone else... or maybe he's just easy on the eyes. I don't know. But really enjoyed this one.

So for theatrical releases... I was under the impression that I didn't see that many this year. Then I completely spaced on the fact that I saw "Sing" AND "La La Land"-- I guess it's easy to forget that when they were technically 2016 releases.

  1. Sing
  2. La La Land
  3. 50 Shades Darker
  4. Lego Batman
  5. Beauty & The Beast
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  7. Wonder Woman
  8. Despicable Me 3
  9. Leap!
  10. Lego Ninjago
  11. Thor: Ragnorak
  12. Justice League
  13. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Oh wow, 13 movies?! Goes to show how much I was paying attention to this...

As far as theatrical experiences go, La La Land was the worst. I mean, our little local theater wasn't perfect, but that wasn't its finest hour. 3-4 times throughout the movie, the sound got so foggy that you couldn't make anything out. But thankfully, it was a musical, so you didn't need all the dialogue to get what was going on.
Best theatrical experience: Star Wars-- because everyone got so involved with it and was totally into it. It's movies like this that are why people go out to movies. You cannot get this same thrill from seeing it on your phone or your iPad. It's getting out of your house, into a room with dozens of other people and everyone shares the same experience for 1-2 hours.

Overall, a few of these much hyped movies were disappointments.
Guardians of the Galaxy-- it was maybe trying a little too hard to be like the original and some jokes fell flat.
Thor-- trying to capitalize on what made the first Guardian's movie so good while trying to find its own niche in the Marvel Universe (when it's been overshadowed by every Iron-Man and Captain American movie)
Beauty & The Beast-- I'd been looking forward to this from the moment the first trailer was released. I will admit that it did fall short in a couple spots. But it did a lot right- Emma Watson as Belle, nobody could have done it better. Ewan McGregor as Lumiere- not bad for someone not familiar with the original movie. And of course Josh Gad as LeFou... way to steal the show, Olaf! Loved it.
And of course Justice League-- I mean, I didn't particularly care to see this movie, but I figured I'd check out the so-called "competition"... I didn't need to worry too much. I'm just putting it here because I'm sure a lot of DC fans were disappointed by it.

50 Shades Darker...yeah, I liked it. You want to make something of it?
It's not the type of movie I'd fight tooth and nail to defend. It's nothing to do with the sexual content turning me or anything like that. I just enjoyed it overall. If anything, it was worth seeing for Dakota Johnson doing this character much better than she was presented in the book and the moment when Marcia Gay Harden gave Kim Basinger that right hook.

There were 5 animated movies this year. Two were Lego related. Nearly all of them were ones my sister really wanted to see. And because I'd seen so many Marvel and book related movies I saw with my mom and my aunts, it's only fair that she gets to pick the movies every once in the while.
Batman and Lego Ninjago had their points where I was really on board. Of the two, Batman probably has more re-watchability, but I liked that Lego Ninjago kinda took the Lego franchise into a different place.
Leap! was a bit of a disappointment in places. Particularly with the villains. Kate McKinnion as the stage mom was WAY over the top to the point there was zero logic. Her own daughter accepted our protagonist as her superior, but her mom goes on a rampage that involves her saying "Hammer Time!" in the middle of a time period when the Eiffel Tower was still being built. (And for the record, I still say "hammer time!" whenever the occasion calls for it... almost like I can't help myself)
Despicable 3-- I loved the 80's references and the fact the villain was a former child star of that generation. I don't think that angle has been pursued in a movie before. But after a while, I couldn't help but wonder if all the references were out of appreciation for the decade or making fun of it because everyone else does. (As a die-hard 80's fan, I really hope it was the former)
Sing- by far, was the winner of all the animated movies. It introduces so many great characters that you'll want to return to see again and again. I can only hope that the sequel does right by it and it doesn't fall short the way so many others have.

Wonder Woman-- while it didn't keep my attention the entire time, it was one of the stand-outs this year by far. Not just because it's a female lead, but just overall. For me, the super hero genre is starting to wear thin just a bit and this brought some much needed new energy back into it.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep Justice League completely afloat. At least for me.

One thing that kinda sets this year apart for me being as into movies as I've become... it's the first year as an RDJ fangirl that I did not see him in theaters once. Not just superhero movies in general, but I'd been so over all the Spiderman movies. As good as I've heard this new one is, I just wasn't feeling up for it. Not even having Tony Stark as part of it was enough incentive to get me to a theater.
I hope that next year, not only the next Avengers movie is better than everything this year, but he gets to do more movies away from Marvel. Particularly with Team Downey- he and his wife Susan got this production company together and put out "The Judge" and it did well. I know their goal was not to go by deadlines, but I'd like to see something else come out of it. Hopefully this year or next. And that I'll be able to get to a theater that's showing them :P

I'd go through and give my top 5 movies in order... I'm just not sure if I'm up for it...

Wonder Woman
Star Wars

I think that's my top 3, though...

As far as movies are concerned, I hope next year is just a little better.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

[Spoiler-Free] Theatrical Review: Star Wars Episode VIII- The Last Jedi

Date: Saturday December 16 2017
Time: 10am
Location: Cinemark Theater in Stroud Mall
Party: 3 (my mom, sister and I)

Writer/Director: Rian Johnson
Composer: John Williams

Luke Skywalker- Mark Hamill
Princess/General Leia Organa- Carrie Fisher (RIP 2016)
Rey- Daisy Ridley
Kylo Ren- Adam Driver
Poe Dameron- Oscar Isaac
Finn- John Boyega
Rose- Kelly Marie Tran
General Hux- Domhall Gleeson
DJ- Benicio Del Toro
Vice Admiral Holdo- Laura Dern

Duration: 151 minute (+ many trailers... 8)

Opening Remarks

Only a movie like this could get me to downtown Stroudsburg this early on a Saturday. Especially when I was up a little late the night before and I had a harrowing drive home from work cuz people were going 20 miles an hour because of 2 measly inches of snow. :sigh:
Anyway, totally worth it. I definitely didn't want to wait too long because I didn't want to hear any spoilers about this one.
I think the only time I caught any spoilers for a movie was accidentally walking in to see the end of Sherlock 2... almost a year of anticipation ruined cuz I got to the theater too early and I've never gotten over it.

The theater had a few open patches throughout the main stadium seating section, but not many for three people, so we took the back row of the "orchestra" section. Roughly the same area where my mom and I saw The Judge back in 2014.

So yeah, those are two rather blatant RDJ references, but the coincidences just kept popping up. I actually had a dream about him last night where we were talking stuff and we had a nice chat. But when I asked Robert when he was going to do any non-Avenger movies, he was evasive about it. Pretty much said that being in the Marvel movies still feels like the best Halloween ever.
And coincidence again... I saw the trailer for the new Avengers movie for the first time today. Among many others... so many dang trailers! and commercials! This 10am movie wound up becoming an 10:20 movie.


Spiderman- Into the Spider-verse

I have no idea what the hell is going on with this one. It's animated. We're following a young black teen Spider-man and we see him talking to who appears to be an older Peter Parker, asking how many there are. Dude, what the hell? Why does there have to be multiple Spider-men? It makes the whole storyline of Peter Parker randomly being bitten by a radioactive spider totally pointless. Because it makes him less special.

Early Man
I saw the movie poster for this by the ladies' room and I was saying how we'll see the trailer in the next couple months. Nope! More like the next couple minutes... it's by the same people behind Wallace & Gromit so we have an all British cast. The Stone Age meets the Bronze age, cavemen vs. Vikings (I think??). And how this tribe of cavemen had this thing of hunting rabbits. But with people like Eddie Redmayne, Timothy Spall and so on in this, how can it not be good?

Every Day
Man, after seeing this trailer, I said "I have to read this book"... I somehow get the feeling that movie won't be quite as good as the book, but it's a really cool idea. And I'm sure that the LGBT crowd will love it too because all kinds of relationships come into place. Basically, it's about a girl and another person who wakes up as a different person every day- and each person happens to be someone that this girl knows. Sometimes they're a guy and sometimes they're a girl and the main girl falls in love with this person's soul. So many possibilities, but one thing is clear- it's going to be a tearjerker at the end and it's going to probably suck, but I'm willing to take that risk.

Jurassic World- Fallen Kingdom
I'm afraid the movie is going to get so hyped that by the time it comes out, it's going to be kinda disappointing. I just know my dad is super excited about it and there are very few movies he gets THIS excited about. The two of us had seen every one of these movies in the theater, so that tradition will for sure continue.
The story here seems to be that the island is going to be destroyed by a volcano eruption and Owen and Claire have to try to save all the dinosaurs. Lots of crap happens and we have an Ian Malcolm cameo where he says his most famous line from the original movie "Life will find a way." Well, we shall see, won't we?

Yikes, they're hyping up this Dwayne Johnson movie as much as San Andreas and it's probably just as doomed to fail. It's kinda like Mighty Joe Young meets King Kong meets genetic engineering and we have to save a city from being taken over by mutant animals.

It takes place in 1170 BC in Israel and it's about the Biblical figure infamous for his hair. No idea how this is going to turn out, but at quick glance (and it was a very short quick trailer), they may finally do a Biblical movie where people can't complain about it being whitewashed. If anything, the next movie demonstrates that movies are more diverse than they've ever been

A Wrinkle in Time
I'd heard this movie was coming because Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling are among the cast members. I know it's based on the Madeline L'Engle children's book (which I've never read). It looks a lot more epic than the book entails. It's about this girl whose dad is with NASA and he supposedly disappears and she may discover where he's really been this whole time. The visual effects look amazing and I have no idea what is going on. Maybe with more time and more promotion from the large cast of characters, it'll become more clear

Avengers: The Infinity War

This really was the last trailer they showed- I'm not slotting it last for any special emphasis. But yeah, I think Thanos is coming to Earth looking for the other infinity stones to put on his gauntlets. The Vision has a stone on his forehead and it may be taken away from him. I see Loki, I see Doctor Strange, Black Widow is blonde for some stupid reason (dude, this character is a redhead, you can't bloody change that!)... and maybe Captain America has been off the radar for a while because they seem to be welcoming him back kinda how Superman was welcomed back in the Justice League movie, except Steve Rogers grew his hair out a bit.
Seriously, it looks like EVERYONE in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to be here and lots of crap is going to happen. There isn't much dialogue, more narration, so I don't know what's going on. I just know there were only a couple of Tony Stark/Iron-Man screenshots and when he's out of his armor, Tony just looks lost and confused like his PTSD from Iron-Man 3 is coming back and he can't handle it.
I mean, I'd almost welcome him being killed off because I'm dying for Robert to do some other projects... even though I'm kinda over Tony Stark, it would still be sad to lose him.

Ok, I'm done. Now for...

The Main Event

In a nutshell- Episode VII was about finding Luke Skywalker and the Resistance rebels destroying yet another version of the Death Star.
This movie, Episode VIII is about the aftermath of the former and the Resistance fighting to survive to fight another day while being actively pursued by the First Order.

The way this movie was put together, it almost felt like the subsequent Star Wars movies after the original. The crew is split apart and we're following 3 different groups of characters.
We have Rey on that far-off planet trying to convince Luke Skywalker to rejoin the Rebellion (or in this case, The Resistance) and she's also having several via-the-Force conversations with Kylo Ren.
We have Finn and his new comrade Rose, who are going to another planet to find a code-breaker to help disengage the tracking device that's allowing the First Order to pursue Resistance ships.
And we have Poe Dameron trying by all means necessary to buy them the time to do so.
Of course, we also have a few scenes where we're following the bad guys. General Hux and Supreme Ruler Snoke (who we get to see "in the flesh" in this movie... opposed to a hologram in the previous installment)... but we really care more about the good guys, right?

So, I had one wish for this movie after seeing the previous one... GIVE OSCAR ISAAC MORE SCREEN TIME... the previous movie had him either in the cock pilot or simply M.I.A. after his ship crashed on Jakku (good on him lobbying with J.J. Abrams to not kill off his character and they basically rewrote the movie because of him... after seeing him play a couple of not-so-nice roles, I was really glad what they gave him here).
And boy was my wish granted... couldn't be happier.
The guy is pretty reckless as a pilot, but damn, he's so good at what he does. Of course, that does land him in hot water with authority, but characters like him are always great when they're done by charismatic actors like him. Some pretty hilarious moments. But the best part was where Leia and her Vice Admiral mutually agree about him in their last scene together.. I wish I remembered the exact dialogue, but it was pretty much saying how much of a rebel he is, but despite that, they like him.

Kylo Ren still has a bit of a temper on him and that does come into play. (Particularly in the last battle scene- one of the best scenes in the movie by far and I'm sure people are already talking heaps about it). But we also get to see more of that vulnerable side of him that's conflicted. He and Rey have these odd conversations that randomly start happening, where she learns what happened to him and Luke's Jedi Temple and there seems to be a chance they'll be allies. How things go down, though, it's hard to predict. Even going into the final movie, I don't know how it's going to go and that's kinda exciting.
Some people who saw the last movie complained about him not being threatening because we see him without the mask. Supreme Ruler Snook actually has a bit of dialogue a lot of those people could agree with... don't bother with the helmet because he comes off as (again, I can't remember the exact dialogue) a child wearing a mask.
Domhall Gleeson (son of British acting great Brenden Gleeson) returns as the First Order general, so full of snark, but it's kinda funny how his authority gets undermined throughout this movie. Each person gives him their unique dose of that.

Former Storm Trooper Finn finds a new partner in Rose, whose sister was involved in the big battle scene at the beginning of the movie. She's a new character and in some ways, the heart of the movie. She and her sister came from the very same planet the two of them are visiting to find the code-breaker and we learn how they came from some sad circumstances where they were basically weapons test subjects as children. She's a prime example of why things need to change in the world, why the Resistance exists in the first place. The code-breaker they wind up meeting is played by Benicio Del Toro and like with many of the characters he plays (although I only have his Bond villain to go by personally), you never really know what to expect. Either way, it makes things interesting.

Going by the Empire Strikes Back, I was sure this movie would have a cliff-hanger ending. Throughout the final battle scene (where the Resistance evacuates to another planet with an abandoned rebel base), there were at least 3 moments where I thought the movie would end and I was oddly ok with that. But the way it does, it's not a cliff-hanger, but we are still left wondering how the hell the good guys are going to completely defeat the bad guys.
But in the same fashion as Once Upon a Time (a show I'd been meaning to do a write-up on because I decided last season was my final season. I want nothing to do with it without Emma Swan and certainly not after the previous season finale broke my heart a million times), you always have to have hope...

I'm not giving anything major away, but Luke Skywalker does get involved (with everything that's happened, why wouldn't he?) and it is absolutely epic.
The movie is extremely character-driven and you kinda need to care about these characters to be invested. While it stays true to the mythology of the original trilogy, there are moments of humor that have a modern feel to them. Meaning that they are a little over the top and obvious and sometimes they're self-deprecating.
But this audience really enjoyed this movie. There were laughs at the right times. A couple moments had some cheering because a character got what they deserved. There was even a moment where the movie went dead silent and I heard people making some random comments throughout it, so into it. And of course, we all clapped at the end, because, why wouldn't we? Ultimately, it's movies like this that are the reason why the theater experience exists and why it will never go. Nor should it.

Grade: A
(You can't beat the original and never will... but this was better put than the previous one, which I enjoyed, but there were areas where I thought it could be better. With this one, I have a feeling I'm just going to be finding new things every time I watch it. And sometimes, that's the best part of revisiting movies, other than seeing old friends again) 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Theatrical Review: Justice League

Date: Sunday, November 26 2017
Location: Cinemark Theater at Stroud Mall
Time: 12pm
Party: 3 (my mom, aunt and myself)
Director: Zach Snyder (of 300 and Watchman fame. I know him as the writer/director of SuckerPunch. The rest of the world probably knows him for Batman vs. Superman)
Writers: Chris Terrio (of Argo and Batman vs. Superman fame), Zach Snyder and Joss Whedon (TRAITOR!)
Composer: Danny Elfman (it's been a while...)
Batman- Ben Affleck
Superman- Henry Cavill
Wonder Woman- Gal Gadot
The Flash- Ezra Miller
Aquaman- Jason Momoa
Ray Fisher- Cyborg
Lois Lane- Amy Adams
Steppenwolf- Ciaran Hinds
Duration: 120 hours (+7 trailers)
Opening remarks
Well... it finally happened. I thought this movie would never happen cuz- cmon- you can’t get Superman and Batman together in one movie. They’re just too huge.
But yeah the movie happened. Trying to capitalize on the popularity of the Marvel universe of superhero movies. The question is- is DC so late to the party with this movie that nobody cares for these movies anymore. Wonder Woman got the pot brewing again but perhaps this movie is a step backwards- depending if critic reviews and box office totals matter to you.
It was a full but not satiated theater. We got good seats with no tall people in front of us and we were in middle of the action. Some time the crowd laughed and they actually applauded at the end. Not ravenously but out of respect for a job well done. Or at least they found it enjoyable.

There were so many I had to write them down on my phone so I wouldn’t forget any.

Black Panther
Like all marvel movies the action and scenery is fantastic. As a movie though I’m not sure if it holds a lot of interest for me. I might wait for the critics to sound off on this one. (As much as I don’t trust them half the time they were my deciding vote about seeing Wonder Woman.)

The Commuter
I saw Liam Neeson and I’m like “oh no it’s not another Taken movie is it? That family needs to never leave their house again). But nope it’s another Liam Neeson thriller- this time Vera Farmiga seems to be the sociopath he needs to cooperate with and then defeat. (She’s such a good psycho- I know this for a fact). With her in this movie, just maybe, it won’t be another cliched effort from this guy.

It’s kinda like Mighty Joe Young meets genetic engineering/alien artifacts meets King Kong. Dwayne Johnson (who has been freaking everywhere lately- at least he’s not John Goodman) is a man who has a friendship with an albino gorilla. Not only is this friendship tested when the gorilla finds some sort of technology in the jungle and mutates into a giant, but there are other hostile animals also infected and involved. Considering this is from the same people behind San Andreas, I’m not holding my breath.

Pacific Rim Uprising
To fight giant aliens invading a city apparently you need giant robots. I knew this movie was coming from the Microsoft Surface commercials. Although later in the trailer, I thought it might be Halo. Except I think that world was post apocalyptic and they weren't giant robots. Either way, another pass.

Tomb Raider
Heard about this one as well. Geesh Alicia Vankander won an Oscar and all of a sudden she’s everywhere. Brie Larson too but that’s another movie.
Do we really need to resurrect this franchise? I didn’t like it the right time but I also don’t care a lot for Angelina Jolie.

A Quiet Place
This movie looks creepy as hell. The trailer is shown with no dialogue and no sounds except music that builds until the end.
Supposedly real life husband and wife John Kraskowski and Emily Blunt and their family live in a cabin in the woods and can’t make a sound cuz if they do they’ll alert a terrifying creature. :shudder:

Deadpool 2
I almost forget all about this one LMAO.
Yeah it’s a funny teaser trailer where Deadpool does his best Bob Ross inspiration. Keep an eye on the painting and how it changes.
Then we get a major flurry of activity and footage I can’t make heads or tails of. Anyway- the only movie out of these I’m excited for.

Considering how few movies I’d seen this year (in theater and at home) I hadn’t been excited about many movies at all lately.

The Main Attraction
Yeah... there are different parties involved but like the Avengers movie, the earth is under attack from alien forces and superheroes need to come together. Except the villain is an ancient being from another dimension that dates back as far as the Amazons (like Wonder Woman) and Atlantans (like Aquaman). And instead of S.H.I.E.L.D. it’s Bruce Wayne getting everyone together.
Some participants (like Aquaman and newly created Cyborg) are unwilling at first but everyone eventually comes together.
And there’s also a plot about resurrecting Superman cuz they apparently can’t do this without him.
Good news first: Ezra Miller (who I know best as Patrick from “The peeks of being a wallflower”) is great as The Flash as the token young guy still getting to know his newfound super powers. He had some hilarious jokes and one scene where he ate a whole pizza pie. My aunt said he needs to eat a lot. Considering his powers it’s easy to see why.
Cyborg was the reluctant participant, nearly into his transformation and we get a good back story how he was a promising athlete and tragedy befell him. But as a result everyone he knew but his father believe he’s dead.
There’s also a funny running joke (not that kind of running- although the flash is involved) how he keeps trying to fist bump Cyborg but the timing is never right.
Wonder Woman is maybe the glue holding everything together. Not just the group but the whole movie. She still feels like a breath of fresh air. Not as naive as she was in her origin movie (clearly a lot has happened between those events and her cameo in Batman vs Superman- which I still haven’t seen but maybe should to fill some gaps for myself) but yeah, Gal Gadot is great.
Of course I’ll keep with the avengers comparisons and maybe it’s cuz they’re both female but she kinda occupies the same field as Black Widow. But I like Wonder Woman more right now- I’m still kinda mad that they put her and hulk together as a possible romantic pairing just cuz the avengers apparently HAVE to have one. (No, it doesn’t...)
Then Aquaman gets involved cuz the villain paid him a visit in his home world as well... my compliments to the writers on this... I was so terrified when this villain visited his world and wonder woman’s that their entire families would be massacred cuz that’s what the cliche is. They didn’t. And I am so grateful cuz that just would have been painful. Especially after falling for the Amazons in the Wonder Woman movie. Not to mention they are bad asses and if they were all killed, it totally would have taken that away.
There, the compliments end. And I hate to say it but the issue lies with Ben affleck playing Batman. It just feels like nobody can play that role anymore. One too many recasts. (At least the kid from Gotham is still nailing a young Bruce Wayne- although not liking the destructive teenager story arc this current season has).
And I don’t really care for Ben affleck that much. Argo was maybe the one exception even though it was a long ass movie that had too many low boring points.
So it looks to me like Ben Affleck is getting this group together not Bruce Wayne and he made one comment how the aliens are going to affect climate change and ocean levels will raise. (Of course he says this to Aquaman and he doesn’t mind that... he adds that waters will also boil). Ugh! You and Leo, just shut the hell up! Do your jobs as actors and leave the politics out of it.
Also he goes toe to toe with Wonder Woman about how they respond to grief of lost loved ones and he said she couldn’t lecture him cuz she didn’t get over hers for years. Yeah, dude, but she eventually did. You haven’t and you’re insensitive to the fact she can’t bring hers back.
Once Superman is back in the mix, not as much screen time but maybe that’s why I thought he was good. Although it is kinda pitiful that the justice league can’t do this without him. The avengers have a demi God in Thor but he doesn’t contribute nearly as much as Captain America does and he isn’t as strong as him or Superman (although he is pretty strong- since he goes through punching bags pretty quickly).
But yeah all the action in the finale is great and it’s really cool how something the villain says throughout the movie winds up being his undoing.
It’s only a 2 hour movie but it felt like it took SO long to get there.
And as interesting as some of these character arcs are, I really don’t care enough about any of them to feel invested. That’s kinda what summed this all up for me.

Grade: B