Thursday, December 17, 2015

Star Wars : The Force Awakens a Franchise

    There may not be more hype associated with any series of films more so than Star Wars. The fan base is rabid, cannon has been written since the first film hit theaters, and the characters are all household names. George Lucas reinvigorated the franchise with his prequels which were largely disliked by hardcore fans. Now J.J. Abrams is tasked with making us the force be with us again. 

30 years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire at the end of Return of The Jedi, a new threat rises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of Heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance now led by Leia Organa. The galaxy is in turmoil and one of the biggest questions looking is the location of Luke Skywalker who has all but vanished. 

 Let me start by saying all of the expanded universe cannon is tossed aside. Forget what you think you might know. The film has the feel of the original trilogy. It is filmed with more practical effects and that is a good thing. I have love for the prequels, but Lucas fell in love with all things digital. 

  The beginning of the film introduces us to the new characters. In their eyes, Han and company were just legends or fairy tales. It makes sense considering the time that has passed. Poe, Finn, and Rey all seem to mimic the original heroes in their own ways and only time will tell if they can become as loved. It is not your parent's Star Wars with a touch of your parent's Star Wars. 

 The galaxy also faces a new threat in the form of the First Order. The villains again sort of mirror their predecessors. Captain Phasma is pretty intense and the scope of the army is massive. Kylo Ren is the new evil Jedi, but to me was a let down. The story behind him is interesting. It's all relative. Literally. In comparison to Darth Vader and Darth Maul, he just falls short. I am sure he is supposed to do just that. The one thing that the prequels gave us was incredible Jedi versus Sith battles. 

 It is great to see Han Solo and Chewbacca back! It makes the movie, but also is what made me mad about the movie. I wasn't crazy where they took this. I wish we would have gotten more interaction with the original cast. I understand what they did, but I saw it differently. People will probably like the arc, but to me it was not enough of the old. We got a taste and not a meal. I can't say more without spoiling. 

 The story of Luke is set up well and it made me long for the next chapter. Make no mistake this is a great film. It has more positive than negative going for it. I just wish it were more of a continuation over reboot. J.J Abrams did well. He made me feel like a kid again and for that I thank him. The journey back to a time long ago, in a galaxy far far away, is a great trip. The force is strong with this one. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Creed : More than a Name or Sequel

 How do you make a beloved movie character from the seventies and eighties and make him relevant again? Bring in a younger generation and put a completely different spin on it. Creed does that and more. Rocky is done with boxing and living a quiet life alone. He stays away from the sport until the son of his biggest rival and best friend begs him to train him.

 Michael B Jordan is Adonis Johnson. The illegitimate son of the legendary Apollo Creed. As an up and coming boxer, he lives in his fathers shadow and gets no respect. After deciding he cannot make it in the L.A. boxing scene, he travels to Philadelphia. He finds Rocky Balboa and asks for help. Adonis sets out to create his own legacy while helping Rocky realize that there is still fight left in him.

The boxing scenes are fantastic. The best thing they could do was get real life boxers to play the movie fighters. The fights are intense and Jordan got in great shape. It holds on to a lot of the magic that the original Rocky had. I cannot say it is as emotional, but it certainly tries. Rocky is pretty much where we left him and the arc of the character feels right. Stallone still makes you love the character, even in his seventies. He is also smart enough to leave the boxing to the next generation.

 The film does have a few plot holes, but not enough to make you dislike it. Apollo died in 1984 so Adonis would be a little past his prime, but it still works. Rocky's son is no where to be found and the sickness element plays too quickly. Creed is not Rocky 7. It is a step in a different direction and it works. It reminds us that life isn't about how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. Creed is a new legacy that I hope we see continue.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Martian : Bringing Home a Great Movie!

 It's rare that movie that isn't super hero or controversy based gets a lot of buzz. It is even more rare when it doesn't come in the summer or the holiday movie season. This week The Martian hits theaters. Based off a book and starring Matt Damon it hopes to give viewers a whole new look at the mysterious red planet and a whole different idea about being stranded.

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must science his way to survival on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and the brightest minds on the planet work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue.

  The majority of the movie is Matt Damon on Mars. He has to grow crops on a planet without water or oxygen. We become engrossed in his struggle. Mars is four years away from the next launch mission and he doesn't even have enough food for one. The science of his stay is cool, but the movie paints an incredible picture of how hard it is to communicate. The shots of Mars look amazing and Damon does a great job of keeping the audience entertained by himself. 

   The supporting cast is strong. Jeff Daniels is great as the head of N.A.S.A. and after the Newsroom, is believable in the role. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michale Pena are also really good in their respective roles.  It's a beautiful film and is definitely one to see on the big screen. I could really only find two real issues. I don't feel like we got a real look at how crazy the isolation would have driven Damon's character. The other problem is length. I feel like it could have been about a half hour shorter. Beyond those things, no complaints. It certainly worth the watch!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Not Even Close To Fantastic 4

You're a large movie company. You've attempted to create a profitable franchise out of a classic comic book. It didn't go like you planned. You're about to lose the rights to the characters. What do you do? Reboot and rush a film into production. Grab a young director and in typical Fox fashion, change too much about the source material. All of that happened and once again ladies and gentlemen we get the Fantastic Four.

    The character names are the same, but a lot has changed this time around. This was always considered a cheesy comic, but it was about heart and family. The characters are central figures in the Marvel Universe. Reed Richards and Dr.Doom are two of the greatest minds in the universe. The new movie gets that part right and that's about all it does right.

    It's a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel's original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy. (C) Fox

    In the comic, they fly into space and experience cosmic energy. This time they teleport to another dimension. This is an OK twist. It's acceptable. The science behind it is cool. The talents of the team are introduced and it is nice. It does a nice job of showing how the teams talents are all necessary. Wait a minute. Ben Grimm is just thrown in so no it doesn't. 

   The cast is really pretty good. Miles Teller is solid Reed Richards. Kate Mara is a serviceable Sue Storm. Jamie Bell has very little to do. He doesn't compare to Michael Chiklis as the Thing in the previous version. Chiklis captured the heart and voice of the blue eyed rock monster. Michael B. Jordan took a lot of fan boy bashing, but is a great Human Torch. Toby Kebbel is a very charismatic Victor Von Doom. All of them suffer from one problem. The horrible script and bad directing.

   The biggest travesty of this version of the Fantastic Four is Dr. Doom. He is one of the greatest villains in the Marvel Universe and once again he is bastardized. He is a brilliant, but ruthless dictator. He is powerful and merciless unless you watch this film. He is a smart, but jealous outcast who rather that wear armor gets fused in metal. He isn't dangerous. Just stupid in this film.

   What's worse is the film went though re-shoots. Early word leaked that doom was a computer hacker and the Internet exploded. I actually think Fox listened and tried to fix it. They failed. Again. If you watch, you can see that they did intend for him to be a hacker. I have said it over and over again. Superhero films are only as good as their villains and once again Dr. Doom is just Dr. Dumb.

    The costumes are stupid. The Thing needs pants. The film is saved by it's great special effects. Oh wait, no it's not. The effects are lame. They are cartoonish and no where close to summer blockbuster level.  Josh Trank was fired from directing one of the new Star Wars movies and after seeing this, thank God.  Marvel cancelled the comic book so that it didn't have to embrace this movie. That alone should tell you everything you need to know about this travesty. I hope Fox learns from this, but let's be honest. They won't. Maybe one day we'll see Marvel's first family get the treatment they deserve.
That day is definitely not August 7th 2015.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

      Mission Impossible and Fast and Furious have a lot in common. They are both franchises that get better with age. It is tough to reinvent and top the amazing stunt sequences in both franchises, but they keep doing it. Tom Cruise at 50 plus is still on point as Ethan Hunt. You can tell he has fun doing these and they put the effort into the story. Tom is one of the most polarizing actors in Hollywood, but he turns in more quality films than garbage. The latest Mission is one of the best yet.

  1.   The IMF is now disbanded and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise)is disavowed and a new threat --called the Syndicate -- soon emerges. The Syndicate is a network of highly skilled operatives who are dedicated to establishing a new world order via an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Faced with what may be the most impossible mission yet, Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), a disavowed British agent who may or may not be a member of this deadly rogue nation.  Hunt and his team must avoid the C.I.A., British Intelligence, and save the world from it's most dangerous threat he's seen. 

   Everyone has seen the trailer with Cruise on the plane. The plane stunt is cool, but the movie goes next level with the rest of the sequences. The water tank is incredible and Rogue Nation has one of the best chase sequences filmed in recent years. Cruise does all of his own stunts and these are impressive. I didn't think you could top the building stunt from the last film, but they managed to do it. The film is more than just stunts. The story is on point. The right amount of twists, drama, action, and comedy. 

 The cast gels. Jeremy Renner is a star on the rise. He stole the show in Avengers earlier this summer and is definitely a bright spot in a movie that has a lot of them. The old cast mixes well with the new and Cruise is the glue that keeps it together. Good story. Incredible stunts. Great cast. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is an intense , but fun ride. It proves again how some franchises get better with age. See it in XD. A film like this is made for the best digital sound and picture. The sixth installment has already been green lit and it is a mission that I will certainly accept. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ant Man- Big Block Busters Come In Small Packages

   Once again Marvel attempts to take one of their heroes that isn't a household name and strike gold. Fan boys will recognize that Ant-Man is one of the corp members of The Avengers. The Marvel Cinematic Universe plays out a little differently. This time he gets a solo outing and attempts to carry his own film. Gaurdians of the Galaxy wasn't a household name either and it worked out pretty well. Can Marvel strike gold with their small hero?

 Paul Rudd plays a different version of the title character with Michael Douglas as a retired version of the more familiar comic book version.  Forced out of his own company by former protégé Darren Cross, Dr. Hank Pym  recruits the talents of Scott Lang   a master thief just released from prison. Lang becomes Ant-Man, trained by Pym and armed with a suit that allows him to shrink in size, possess superhuman strength and control an army of ants. The miniature hero must use his new skills to prevent Cross from perfecting the same technology and using it as a weapon for evil.

   Ant- Man is a lot of things. It's a heist movie, it's a comedy at times, it's adventurous, and still finds places to be very faithful to it's source material. Pym in the comic version, creates Ultron. The film universe takes a different spin. He's a retired scientist/super agent. Marvel makes this work pretty well. His adventures are told in flashback and are built into the world of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. Pym is faithfully painted as one of the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe.  They handle Wasp well even though we never really meet her. Yellow Jacket is cool, but we don't see enough of him in action. The little we do see works. The best part of Ant Man is Ant Man. Paul Rudd might be an unlikely hero, but he really pulls it off. In the same way RDJ personifies Tony Stark, Rudd does Lang. 

     The whole cast is pretty good. Douglas still has the swagger to play Pym. He brings enough arrogance to the role and seems to have fun. Corey Stoll from House Of Cards is a lot of fun. He's direct, evil, and has little likability. Evangeline Lily doesn't do much, but stick around for the post credit scene. She will have more to do sooner than later. Lang's heist crew also provide some refreshing comic relief. 

   It's a little Honey I Shrunk The Kids and that isn't a bad thing. The cameos are on point. Agent Carter, The Falcon, comic book references, and a few iconic places. Ant Man does a great job of setting it's place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It never takes itself too seriously and that might be one of it's flaws. It's pretty good. I kind of compare it to Thor: The Dark World or Iron Man 3. Certainly watchable, but not one you will watch over and over. I am a little tougher because I compare them all to Winter Soldier. Ant Man is good for taking a few small steps to a even more expanded universe. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Pedestals. We have been putting people on them for years. Little boys start with super heroes and continue into man hood wearing other men's names on their backs. Girls do it with dolls, boy bands, and movie stars. These are not bad habits. We all need heroes. We need people to admire and strive to be like. It can make us better people if we let it.

  Social media has given heroes and celebrities more power that they should be able to have. Fans do what their heroes tell them. Sometimes that is a good thing, but most of the time it isn't. Social Media has allowed too many people the wrong voice. We are malicious, see what we want to see, and are usually way off base. We love our heroes, but we love to see the mighty fall. We put them on those pedestals, but look forward to the time that they come down.

 Bill Cosby was an icon to a lot of people and not all of them are black. If you grew up watching The Cosby Show, you saw the ideal family. They had problems , but they stayed together and worked out their issues. Cosby taught us to love Jello Pudding and allowed us to enjoy clean humor. He couldn't be a monster. Could he?

 Jared Fogel was the fat kid that taught us all a thing about weight loss. His story put a sub franchise on the map and gave normal people everywhere goals. He is awkward, but likable and people related. They bought into what he sold and have been for years! Jared is the mid-western guy next door. He couldn't be a monster. Could he?

  In the case of Cosby, was it always there. We just choose not to see it. The people we believe to be good cannot possibly do things that are so bad. We are a nation that turns a blind eye to lots of things. Almost Cosby's words. We forgive domestic violence because a person has talent. We condone drug abuse because we like some one's music. We look past horrible things because we think we know someone. The reality is that we don't know them. We see them, admire them, and make them a part of our lives. We do not know them. They are paid entertainers. They are not always worthy of the place we put them. 

  Once upon a time, this country believed in the concept of, "innocent until proven guilty." We have successfully reversed that. Now, we must always prove our innocence. I don't know Jared Fogel. I have met him 10 or 20 times and interviewed him a few times here and there. I don't know what he is like behind closed doors. He is caught up in a situation that one of his employees started. I don't know if Jared is guilty. People believe that where there is smoke there is fire. There might be. Time will tell and if the Subway guy is one of the worst kinds of monster, then I truly hope he pays for what he may or may not have done.

  Jared is already destroyed. He is cooperating. He hasn't been charged, but he is done. His name is destroyed. The court of social media has pegged him something he may or may not be. He will not be asked to do appearances and whatever good work he might have done is tarnished forever. I wouldn't be shocked if Jared ends up in a very dark place someday soon.

  Christian's believe that we shouldn't worship false gods and there is a truth to that. I think that we need heroes. We need someone to try and relate to. I think we need people to show us that we can be more than what we think we can. Those are good things. What we have to remember is the pedestal. The higher we put someone up there, the longer and harder the fall.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


So let’s talk Terminator! The franchise has had its share of issues.  The first two are iconic. The third one is forgettable at best and the fourth got more press for Christian Bale’s rant than quality of film. Here we go again, a much older Arnold and younger recast of the first films iconic characters. Is there still gas in the tank or are we better off just watching the original.

  The future is controlled by machines. Humans are on the verge of extinction, but one man teaches them to fight back. John Connor leads the resistance to wipe out the evil machines led by the super computer Skynet. The war is ending and the machines are losing, but Skynet creates time travel and sends back a terminator to kill the mother of its enemy.  John Connor sends back the lone soldier Kyle Reese to protect her. Stop me if you’ve seen this before. Things get interesting when we deal with time travel. This film gives a new take on the original story. 

What works is Arnold! He plays an old, but not obsolete cyborg. He delivers and they use his age well in the story. The special effects are on par and the robot fights are great. Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones is a good Sarah Connor, but it’s tough to knock what Linda Hamilton did. Jai Courtney is a star, but I don’t think he’s found that role yet. He is ok as Kyle Reese, but Michael Bien still owns the role. That being said, I still really liked both of them. Good chemistry with Arnold and they seemed to handle the pressure of their characters pretty well.

What didn’t work? John Connor as he villain! It’s not a spoiler. If you have seen the trailers, you already know this. I like his crazy version of a terminator, but I don’t like the savior of the human race as the bad guy. I am not knocking Jason Clark, but I would have liked seeing this version of the terminator be something other than John Connor.

 The time line thing is still a little convoluted, but it is fun to watch. The nods to the original and its first sequel are fantastic. It is by far a better take than we have been given recently. It was fun to watch and fits nicely into the summer movie season. I hope it gets a sequel because I would like to see where they take things next.  One thing is for sure, if a sequel is green-lit, I’ll be back!

Monday, June 22, 2015


I cannot believe I am taking the time to actually blog about this, but it is Sunday night and I am bored. Marvel Comics has struck gold in recent years. Their cinematic universe is on fire and they have characters that are global icons. Today this little nugget of news dropped: 

Big news, True Believers. The New York Daily News reports that, in the aftermath of Marvel's summer blockbuster series Secret Wars, Miles Morales will take center stage as the face of the company's relaunched Spider-Man title. The new series will be led by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli, who created the character in 2011, and will effectively replace the Spider-Man titles that were recently cancelled in the run-up to the event.
The decision to bring Miles to the fore reportedly comes as a response to calls to bring Miles to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man, will still be behind the mask for the upcoming Spider-Man reboot, Marvel is taking the opportunity to make Morales that much more important to the iconic superhero's mythos, especially as it continues to strive for diversity. "Our message has to be it’s not Spider-Man with an asterisk, it’s the real Spider-Man for kids of color, for adults of color and everybody else," Bendis told the paper.
 It's not the real Spider-Man. The real Spider-Man is Peter Parker. The  news that he the character in the movies cannot be black or gay is accurate. Peter Parker is neither because that isn't the way he was created. Sorry. I am not looking to come across as insensitive, but when does this crap stop? 
 I am not knocking the character. I agree that we need heroes that are not just heterosexual white dudes, but stop with the mixed message. Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, and countless others are already heroes and role models for young kids. It has nothing to do with their skin color. It has everything to do in the way in which those characters are written to carry themselves. 
 I agree that there should be multi-racial and homosexual heroes, but here is an idea. Create one!!! Teach kids to use their minds and stop recycling and changing old ideas. The changing of a flagship character is sending the wrong message. Take a look at the world. The fact that we have become so ridiculously politically correct is part of the problem. 
 I don't have a problem with the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man existing in the same universe. I have a problem with the Marvel execs high five-ing themselves over what they think is the right idea. Our heroes are who they are because of what they do. Their skin color should never define them. Lesson not learned Marvel. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015


     The original Jurassic Park really impressed movie goers. The effects, given the time, were considered amazing. It changed the way we looked at movies and left people with a pretty good impression of the franchise. It's two sequels did anything but. Hollywood is keeping with it's trend of reviving things over new concepts. Here we are twenty two years later and we are going back to the world of computer generated dinosaurs.

 Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark interest in the park. A genetically engineered dinosaur that is truly the apex predator. Owen Grady is on the island to work with velociraptors and does his best to protect them from the impending military use. Enter a couple of young children trapped in the middle of the chaos and we are deep into Jurassic World. 

  The look of this film is incredible. The dinosaurs look real and the wow factor is still there. The film does a great job in not only referencing, but paying tribute to the original. Chris Pratt is a superstar. Make no mistake about it. There are rumors that he could be the next Indiana Jones and he really should be. He is by far the coolest character in the movie. 

  It's a movie with monster fights, drama, the right amount of comedy, and a decent pace. The franchise is definitely back. It quickly makes you forget about the other failed sequels. It has a good feel and sets up the next adventure. Jurassic World is everything a summer blockbuster should be. Get some popcorn and see it on the big screen. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


    Marvel has been hitting home runs for a few years now. There is a lot of hype and expectations riding on The Avengers: Age of Ultron. It has a large cast, familiar characters, and incredible fan base. Now we finally get to see if all of it is enough to strike more box office gold.

   The team is immediately together mopping up the events after Winter Soldier. Their hunt for Loki's missing scepter has concluded and they are enjoying some downtime. Stark and Banner begin attempting to create an artificial intelligence and accidentally release a great evil into the world. The team once again must save the world. New enemies become allies and old allies hope the Tony Stark is smart enough to create something that can save the world before it;s too late.

  James Spader is Ultron and he is magnificent. The right amount of attitude mixed with humor. I think die hard fans will appreciate the way Spader brings him to live though it is only his voice. The one flaw with Ultron is familiarity. If feels like we get a little of the same old same old. Large amounts of robots that look like Iron Man. They serve no purpose other that being fodder for the Avengers.

  The Vision is well known among comic fans, but will be new to the casual movie goer. The character is tough to translate into the semi-realistic world that Whedon created, but they do an amazing job. Paul Betany looks fantastic and the character it by far one of the coolest in the film.

  In the majority of his movies, it's Robert Downey Jr. who steals the show. He certainly holds his own, but this is kind of Hawkeye's movie. The character is fleshed out more and given something more to do. He shows slightly more humor and is given a bigger role on the team. We don't know what his future will become, but hopefully we see him back.

 Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch make their debut in this one. Their back stories are altered, but they play well into the story. The downside is they come at the expense of screen time of some of the bigger characters.

  In the end, the movie is filled with characters, Easter eggs, and teases of what's to come for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Avengers: Age of Ultron has a lot to live up to. The first one will always hold a special place. There is something about seeing all those characters together at once on screen that is magic. This go around, their is still magic. It's big, plot driven, and a lot of fun.