Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Star Wars : The Last Jedi and Next Let Down

The Star Wars franchise is a piece of American Culture at this point. It has stood the test of time and is loved by many. Even as divisive as they are, the prequels are still respected as being part of the franchise. J.J. Abrams and Disney continued the story with The Force Awakens and now the franchise is as popular as ever. After time has passed, I don't think that film is as good as the money it made. I like some of the new characters, but it is pretty much a carbon copy of A New Hope.

 In every one's defense, the hype around Star Wars is more than any director can truly overcome. Rian Johnson is now tasked with continuing the story in The Last Jedi. The trailers are intense and misleading. The look and tone appear very different and they are. It is the most anticipated film of the last two years and now we see if it lives up to the hype.

 The film begins with General (Princess) Leia and her small group of Resistance on the run from the First Order. Hoping to draw others to her cause, she sends Rey to find her lost brother Luke. It is her hope that the last of the Jedi can restore balance to the galaxy and rally others to their cause. Rey is tasked with not only bringing Luke back, but also with training her to understand the power that has woken inside of her. In the meantime, Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren also have plans for her and Skywalker.

  Those are the basics and I am still trying to come to grips with how I feel about the film. Carrie Fisher is great and there are some great emotional moments. There are so many questions that were asked in The Force Awakens. Rey's parentage and who Snoke really is being two of the biggest ones. There have been two years worth of fan theories floating around. All of them wrong and most of them better than what the film delivered. It feels different than your previous Star Wars films did. I need to see it again, but until then here we go....

    The film looks fantastic! It is a gorgeous piece of film and deserves praise for that, if nothing else.
 Snoke does demonstrate his power, but his story doesn't go at all the way it is expected to. I expected so much more and this film does not carbon copy Empire Strikes Back in the way The Force Awakens copied A New Hope. Part of me wishes this film did.

    We do get introduced to new characters. I like Rose, who becomes Finn's new companion. Her brief story has heart, but her and Finn's mission is a useless story point. It is through them that we meet DJ (Benecio Del Toro) on the casino planet. His character is useless and isn't tied to any characters in the past. At least the film doesn't lead us to believe that. Laura Dern has a solid role. The movie does a great job hiding her allegiance where Poe is concerned.


    Kylo Ren comes across better in this movie than the last. His duel with Rey left him scarred more than just physically. He is still dealing with killing his father and it has certainly changed him in several ways. The conflict with him, Rey, and Snoke is good. I did like the dynamic between Kylo and the villains. He and Hux are both power mongers. Watching them play against each other is fun.  Sadly, Captain Phasma is again wasted.

  Luke Skywalker is the man! Mark Hamill is the star of this movie. He is Luke. He gives a great performance and we do get a very different Luke. He is clearly tortured, but there are moments of the farm boy that we remember. We are given a sense of his vulnerability and how powerful he actually is. While I loved seeing Luke, the movie toyed with me a lot where he is concerned. There is a great Leia moment. I like where they went with him, but then I am TRULY disappointed with the end arc of the character. We have some great Luke moments, but I feel liked they missed the mark with him.

 I like the new characters. I like the fact that Star Wars is back on the big screen. I don't like that it feels like Disney is more concerned with profitability than doing justice to the characters that built the franchise. It has more humor than I expected. Most of it works, but there is some that becomes tedious. The over all story has some issues. I like the cast, but not the direction. I wish  some of the spoilers and theories were real.  I think some of them would have played better than the film that we got. People will love this I'm sure. It will make money, but to me this movie suffers in the story arc department. I am not crazy about the overall path, but I don't make those calls.
People who say it is the best Star Wars since Empire, need to take a hard look at that statement. I didn't hate it. I certainly didn't love it.  I left disappointed, but I would recommend people see it and draw their own conclusions. The Force is strong with this one, but not nearly as strong as it should have been.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Justice League: Not The Avengers, but Thankfuly Not Batman V Superman Either

    Justice Leagues is a film that has been under pressure since it was announced. It is a movie that cannot escape controversy. Depending on the day, Ben Affleck is or isn't staying on as Batman. Zack Snyder has lost all creative control. Jos Whedon was brought in for re shoots. All of this stuff is not fake news. The problem starts with Batman V Superman being so bad and Wonder Woman being so good. Warner/ DC cannot afford another failure. While I cannot say that Justice League is not on the same level as The Avengers, it is a definite step in the right direction.

   The world is mourning Superman. Crime and chaos are on the rise. Batman is discovering that something bad is on the horizon and is working on putting a team together to stop it. He gets help from Wonder Woman, who has some inside knowledge of threat, and the two of them set out to recruit Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg. The team has to work together and hope that they can defeat the world conquering Steppenwolf without the help of Superman.

   Let's talk about what worked. The team and their chemistry. When the team is together, it is fun to watch! The interactions between the characters is really good. They all have their moments to shine and we get an idea of who they are. Sure we'd like more back story of each of them, but much like Wonder Woman it will come in another movie. We get a glimpse of Atlantis and it comes across better than I thought it would. The pace is good in comparison to Batman V Superman and it does leave you wanting more.

There are some things that do not work. The beginning has it's cool moments, but it is also very choppy. I feel like an extra 20-30 min would really have helped out the story and eliminated this. It also heavily swallowed in C.G.I. The character C.G.I. is OK, especially with Batman. The elimination of the, "super 'stache," is awkward. The film underwent heavy re shoots and it took time. Henry Cavil is filming the latest Mission Impossible and is contractually obligated to keep his mustache. Meaning they had to digitally remove it from the film. It leaves Clark looking a little awkward. Steppenwolf is another C.G.I. throw away villain, but is serviceable for the story. I would rather have seen more practical effects used.

Gal Gadot is still fantastic as Wonder Woman. She is gorgeous and really looks comfortable in the role. We get a slight follow up to her origin story even though it is a little off with continuity. She is a great character and it by far still the tent pole of this universe. The scenes between her and Bruce Wayne are fantastic. There is chemistry there and it would be nice to see it followed up on down the road. Cyborg also fits well with the context of this story and Flash has some great moments. Ezra Miller is good, but I still prefer the TV version of Barry Allen.

Ben Affleck is the best Batman to ever grace the screen. It is not up for debate. The look is still perfect and he really adds another level to the character. I hope that he stays in the role and does the forthcoming Matt Reeves planned trilogy. He is a fan boy with this character and it shows. He has probably already bailed on the role and it's just not public yet. That is very unfortunate if it is truly the case.

Where this movie shines the brightest is Superman. It is the third time we have seen Henry Cavil as the Man of Steel and it by far his best outing. The suit is brighter and it should be. His personality is more like the character and it definitely works. Man Of Steel had it's flaws and Batman V Superman was just a whole new level of awful. It took only one small moment in the film to give me goose bumps. It was less than four seconds of screen time that made me want to jump out of my seat and cheer! This is the Superman that we deserve and it doesn't disappoint.

Stay for the two post credit scenes. One of which is golden the other I struggled with. They had opportunities to erase a mistake and they didn't. Justice League isn't perfect. It is not garbage either. It suffers from the fact that it's predecessor was so bad and it is forced to build on those bad decisions. It gets more right than it does wrong. I enjoyed this two hour trip through the DC Universe. If left me wanting more and it's good moments are enough to overcome its mistakes. Fun, but flawed and worth the watch.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Thor: Ragna- HELL YEAH!

    Marvel has done it again! There are some that say their films are boring and follow the same pattern. Thor: Ragnarok is unlike anything else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has characters you love and some new ones that will do nothing short of entertain. It is by far the best movie in the Thor trilogy. It will leave you wanting Avengers: Infinity War more than you already do. When it comes to Thor: Ragnarok, believe the good word of mouth you hear.

 Thor begins with our hammer wielding hero searching for his father and trying to make sense of the destructive visions he saw in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. He returns to Asgard, discovers his brother is alive, and heads to earth. With a little help from Dr. Strange he finds Odin and something far worse.
Hela The Goddess of Death has returned to enslave Asgard and the Universe. His hammer destroyed, his father gone, and his world overtaken. He finds himself marooned on a strange world searching for a way to save his world.

 Thor gets a new look and a new attitude. Everything about this movie works. They explain things that were left unexplained. The entire situation is dire, but the comedy plays and plays well. Thor is funny. It is light hearted for having such a serious set of circumstances looming. We also find out if the hammer truly makes the man. We get Easter eggs to some comic favorites, meet new characters, and get a Thor that is elevated to a higher level. His chemistry with Loki ( Tom Hiddelston) is on point and great to watch again.

 It was good to see Dr. Strange again and we get just enough to remind us how much we liked him. It is Thor's movie, but we definitely feel the scope of the Marvel Universe. We get a refresher of the past and a reminder that there are very bad things on the horizon.

 Kate Blancett is the best Thor villain since Loki. She is a threat and doesn't have any redeeming qualities. She is bad just to be bad and that works. She is the primary antagonist in the film. Jeff Golblum's Grand Master is the other bad in the film and is a lot of fun. He and Kate both make the most of their roles and it shows. Goldblum's campiness and Blancett's seriousness fit nicely in this one.

  We finally find out where the Hulk has been. The trailer doesn't even scratch the surface of how good the arena fight is. Hulk is a lot of fun and was the perfect addition. It is still Thor's movie, but we get enough Hulk to make it worth while. They incorporate a little Planet Hulk from the comics and it fits perfectly. The gladiator world of Sakaar introduces us to some fun characters . One who might have stole the show.

 Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie is fantastic! The biggest complain was her looking nothing like her comic counterpart. You won't even notice. There is a nod to the comic version, but Tessa owns this. She is a great example of a casting change for the better. She is a strong female character who can hold her own with Thor.

Thor and his, "revengers," have a pretty epic adventure. It's packed with a couple of moral lessons. It takes Thor in brand new direction and opens the door to the bigger universe. It is by far Hemsworth's best run as the character. His new friends are great and fitting in the Hulk is a win. Two end of credit scenes. One of which sets up the future and the other was kind of a waste of time. Thor: Ragnarok is anything but. It is a little Guardians of The Galaxy, a little Flash Gordon, and a lot of fun! Believe the hype!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bigger Than Just The Knee

 I thought long and hard about what to say and certainly whether or not I post this. I feel like it's going to drive me crazy if I don't. I have said this before at least a dozen or more times, I do not understand why racism is still such a problem in 2017 America? I cannot fathom that the color of skin is still such an issue. It is. As someone working in the media, I see some of this from a lot of different perspectives. It is at the heart of what has caused professional football players to #takeaknee.

In the last year, a large portion of the media has been hard on our government's current administration. There are times when the current administration has not done any favors for itself. There are more than a few instances where the media has looked to find a negative issue. Make no mistake, I tried to be optimistic, but I would be lying if I said I was a fan of the current president. The problem goes back to an election that provided two very unlikeable candidates. Sorry Katy Perry and three quarters of Hollywood, but it is the truth. All of the people who thought it would be a funny if Trump actually got elected, are we all laughing? It sure doesn't seem very funny. The "Trump Train," is the most divisive thing this country has seen in awhile. Make no mistake, President Obama had his haters. They just were not on this level. Unfortunately, Trump has done little to mend the hate.

Puerto Rico and parts of the continental U.S. are recovering from natural disasters. Those issues combined with the volatile leader of North Korea being a threat and another attempt at health care repeal about to fail, the NFL is under attack by a president that has the temperament of a 12 year old boy. Calling them S.O.Bs? He continued to tweet about it this morning! You would think that job would provide better things to do.  I would be lying if I said that I didn't mind the kneel during the anthem. I completely understand the reasons behind it and appreciate the peaceful protest aspect of it. One of my problems comes from the fact that I feel like it is the wrong method. It is isolating a large chunk of the audience that it is trying to make aware of the issue. It has also become the issue of focus as opposed to what the protest is about. I have heard some people in the military say that they don't mind. I have heard others say that they are offended. I think it is unfortunate that people threaten to boycott the NFL because the message has turned from one of equality to kneeling at the anthem. Again, not the best choice of methods. Make no mistake, there is racism in this country. There is police brutality and it all needs to go away.

 The President of The United States used to be a title that commanded respect. This president has done very little to earn the respect of the people. Yes with the title comes a certain level of it, but his actions have done little to warrant it. The leader of the free world shouldn't be wasting time on Steph Curry, the NFL, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or the media. I go back to my twelve year old boy statement. This president and both sides of the media have caused our nation to be more divided than I ever thought I would see.

It's time to piss some people off.

 It seems like this all started with Trayvon Martin. Sure it has been going on for longer, but that seems to have been the catalyst for a lot of it. Looking at just the facts of the case, Trayvon wasn't the angel he was made out to be and picked a fight with the wrong person. That person turned out to be galactic piece of human garbage. Trayvon didn't have to physically get involved with Zimmerman.He chose to do so and paid the ultimate price. It is unfortunate that a 17 year old kid had to die, but there are lessons to be learned from this.

 On the other side of the coin, Eric Garner didn't deserve to die. Daniel Pantaleo is an even bigger piece of human garbage than Zimmerman is. I don't believe all police are bad, but I do believe that there are cops who shouldn't have a badge. That scumbag was one of them.  Police are supposed to serve and protect. They shouldn't abuse. Eric Garner was clearly the victim of a horrible cop that gave a bad name to the blue.

 There are countless incidents like the two I mentioned. We need to accept the fact that not all black people are criminals. We also need  to accept that not all police are bad. I wouldn't want to be a cop in today's America. I can only imagine the fear that must come with being a young black male. It doesn't get better until both sides stop expecting the other to be or do something bad.

 I don't think people are looking at the bigger picture. In some ways, we are causing things to be come more divided. As someone who works in the media, we are doing a terrible job of uniting and a fantastic job of dividing with the things we post and the words we choose. What happened to character mattering more than skin color?

I am really over ESPN. I am not going to go into the context of Jemele Hill's latest incident. I personally don't like her work for the same reason I don't like Teddy Bruski's. They both seem to have a giant chip on their shoulder for different reasons. I get that ESPN is trying to show more diversity, but I don't think it's working. Unless you want to change your name to the, "Urban Sports Network," you might want to rethink the current strategy. Bomani Jones, Jemele, and Michael Smith don't carry mass appeal. They isolate large portions of your audience. Bomani paired with someone like a Ryen Russillo is probably a great show. You get two different perspectives and can learn from both. It also would make a statement by having two people of different color and backgrounds discussing issues in the sports world. Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless didn't count. They are just as polarizing as the personalities I mentioned above. Although they won't admit it, older white males learned  more about black culture from the late Stuart Scott than they will ever admit. He and Rich Eisen were a solid paring. Two points of views, from likable personalities, that are equally represented on the same show. Something the current afternoon show completely lacks.

 I am getting sidetracked from the message.

 My biggest problem is,"different rules for different people." That needs to change! We are all striving for equal treatment regardless of skin color. So start making it equal. If I, as a white person, would have called Barrack Obama, who I liked as President, a Black Supremacist or Muslim Terrorist, I would lose my job no questions asked. Anyone would. Yet somehow, Jemelle is still very much employed. I get that it's tough for her being a woman. I can only imagine the struggle as an African American woman. I hate to censor people, but don't be part of the problem. She has been in the media long enough to know what you can or can't say. Know your audience. She has a position that would allow for her to help unite people yet she causes more division. From here, she and the president have something in common. It seems all of free speech is making a bad issue worse. For the record, I have agreed with less than 3% of what our current president has said about pretty much anyone or thing.

As white people, we have to stop letting the portion of our community feel they have superiority based on color.  We need to be accepting of all people and their beliefs. Black people need to stop the black on black violent crime. You don't paint the best picture of yourselves as a community. It also makes police nervous. It might not be a fair assessment, but it is a real one. Perception is reality to a large amount of people. Change the perception. Change the reality. It doesn't happen overnight. The countless protests that have turned violent don't help. The anthem kneel is peaceful, but found to be disrespectful to some. I know, can't win them all.

We need to separate ourselves from the personal beliefs when it comes to certain things. The protesting to get Kapernick a job! Are you kidding me?! The NFL is a business. They consist of 32 owners who don't want the distraction that comes with Colin. If one of them did, he would have a job. End of discussion. End of protest. Bullying is wrong. Even if you use it to get someone work. The work should come on merit and character.

Let's try and wrap this up.

 The kneel at the anthem is a peaceful protest, but it is becoming the issue and the message is getting lost. I don't like it, but I accept and respect that an issue is being brought to the table. These players are trying to make people realize that social injustice is an issue. They might be overpaid millionaires, but they are not trying to disrespect the flag. To some it is coming across that way. Again, peaceful or not, I wish there were a different method. The country has some real problems. The problem starts with us. The Charlottesville incident was disgusting. It doesn't, however, represent all of this country. Seeing the #AMERIKKKA being used is shameful. That doesn't help either! It certainly doesn't speak for the majority. Remember when I said to stop making things worse by what we say or text?   We only get one chance to live in this world. We can be part of the problem or the solution. This president doesn't appear to be the one to help so maybe it's time to start with yourself.  Think about what you text or tweet. Be open to what others have to say even if you disagree. Take the chip off your shoulders. Be better human beings to each other. Have conversations with people. You don't need to know their life story, but a few words and you figure a few things out. Fix your own yard before you tell your neighbor how to fix theirs. At the end of the day, we all laugh, cry, dream, and hurt. Regardless of the color of our skin, we are all human.

Friday, July 21, 2017


   Things happen and I used to talk about them. I am not on the air as much as I used to be so I tend to blog more when I need an outlet. Chris Cornell and now Chester Bennington. I am not one to quote facts, but the suicide rate is the highest it has been in thirty years. I am by no means an expert and can't begin to know what was going on in the heads of Chester, Chris, or the hundreds of other people less famous that saw it as an answer. I thought long and hard about what to write and while I wanted something positive, the world isn't all sunshine and rainbows.

  I have lived a colorful lifestyle. I've lived with and been around alcoholics all of my life. Had my affair with drugs, dealt with abortion, bullied and been bullied. I seen highs and lows as most people have. We all have different ideas of what those are. I have been touched by suicide on a personal level more than once. I don't know what goes through any one's head. I am not sure if anyone can, but since yesterday, I have heard so many things. People calling it selfish because of those left in the aftermath. There is some truth to that. People saying they should have seen it coming based on his music. Maybe. People who have said they should have fought a little harder and people who say that there's always someone to talk to.  I am not here to tell anyone they are wrong. Here is what I can offer.

  We live in a world where people are very self absorbed. Walk past anyone and there is a good chance that their head is buried in their phone. Most of us have jobs that dominate a portion of our lives. There are things we don't notice. Life hits hard and sometimes people lose the will to take those hits. It is very easy to feel lonely.

  People build their lives around their careers and the person they love the most. When you lose both or they don't end up being what you wanted, it can be a tough blow to take. It can look like someone has everything, but they might not have the things they need the most. So they should talk to someone right? What happens when there isn't anyone to talk to? Not everyone wants to talk to a stranger. These days your friends are not always there.

 Social media has become away to share how we feel. I used to be a much more private person before it became intertwined in our lives. In the last couple of years, I have posted my fare share of depressing content. I heard a lot of, " stop being such a downer." Employers look at socials and people don't want that. It is true, but does that mean someone buries the pain? Maybe.  Not everyone can do that or can only do it for so long.

  Life has away of pushing people in different directions. You might not be out of some one's mind,  but you can be out of their sight. I used to see the stats of how holidays are the worst time of year for addicts and people who battle depression. It is true. When someone you've spent every holiday with someone for several years and they are not there, it is realty tough.

  Time is a beast. We don't get a lot of it. When you lose a job or end a relationship, you think about time a lot. It can feel like you haven't done much with yours and you can lose your sense of purpose. It can become a very dark place.  When you get to that place and your friends decide they don't want to be around because you are depressing, who do you talk to? It doesn't make your friends bad people. It can make you feel like a burden to everyone. People have lives, but it does hurt when your phone stops ringing. It also stings when you feel like you are being called out of pity. That is probably not the case, but we live in a world where perception is reality.

  Suicide is a selfish act. There is truth to that, but what happens when the person who does it can't find a version of themselves that they are happy with? I don't know everything. I just pretend like I do, but I do know that the need to feel like you matter is huge. I battle that one every day. I am certainly not encouraging suicide. I think every one battles their demons differently. Some of us are able to push the dark thoughts back and keep fighting for one more day. Some of us believe that it will get better, but the longer the fight for better goes on, the less strength we have.

   I had a friend once who almost took his life. Things were not going his way in high school and this was before the You Tube and  Social Media. He hated his home life and had no sense of direction. He had already tried God, but that isn't the answer for everyone. He had no sense of direction or felt like there was a purpose to his life. He told me that he drove out to a lake that was near his house and stared at the water for hours. I know the lake. I have spent many a night there clearing my own head. I rarely did that in January though. He said he was looking for any reason to keep going and he heard a car drive by playing Nirvana way too loud for that time of night.  He never really thought of, " Heart Shaped Box," as a suicide prevention song, but it worked. My friend remembered how much he loved music. He remembered that he had a bit of a rebellious streak and figured sticking around to piss people off would be his anchor.

   I lost touch with the kid. We all go in different directions and become different people. That is life. Life is a tricky thing. Not all of us have the one we want. Sometimes no matter how much we try, we can't build the life we want. We reach out to God, but he won't always answer on the time table that we want him too. When we don't get the answers we want or realize life is passing us by, we start measuring time. Some of us can look and say we still have a lot of life left to live. Some of us just want the bell to ring and the fight to be over. I am not sure if it is selfish. It's not for me to say. Every one's pain is different.

  People will preach to tell someone you love them before it is too late and it is a good message. Some people mean no harm, but will become caught up in their own lives and lose touch with people who need them the most. It doesn't make them bad people. It doesn't mean that they should shoulder blame. I think the purpose to this was simply to say that everyone has a different fight. We all have the ability to change the outcome, but we can't always do it when we'd like.  There are those people we can easily understand and other that we will never understand. Just remember that everyone is different and has their own set of feelings and emotions. My advice is to not think that you fully understand what is going on with anyone because you never know.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Spider-Man: A Pretty Good Homecoming

  After a long wait, Marvel cut a deal with Sony and it's flagship character is finally under the Marvel Cinematic Universe banner. Spider-Man has come home. A new actor, s ton of trailers featuring Iron Man, and enough hype for 10 franchises. The expectations and pressure are there, but does the film live up? Yes and no.

   Shortly after his return from Germany and the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker has to figure out life. The balance between school, his social life, and his blossoming career as the crime fighting super hero, Spider- Man. The Avenger's battle with alien invaders has left it's mark on the city. Peter discovers a new villain who is selling alien weapons and putting the city in danger. In order to prove that he is ready to be an Avenger, Spider-Man sets out to save the city.

 I will be in the minority, but I wasn't blown away by Marvel's take on Spider-Man. I loved Tom Holland. I felt like he really nails Peter Parker. He was great in Civil War and he really follows through here. His interactions with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Happy Hogan (John Favreau) are some of the best moments in the film. I was a fan of Andrew Garfield in the last couple of films, but Holland gets better material to work with and delivers.

 Michael Keaton is quite possibly the best Spider-Man villain yet. I love the way he becomes the Vulture. It fits with the universe Marvel has created and makes complete sense. Toomes is a really well rounded character. I love that Keaton has the ability to make you like him even when he is bad and borderline crazy. I wish the actually called him Vulture in the film, but oh well.

 One of my problems with the movie is the, "Breakfast Club." Peter's friends in school. I understand that it was meant to have the tone of teen melodrama, but I wish the characters were less annoying. Zendaya's, "Michele," is never likable. She gives a bit of a nod to a character that I HOPE she doesn't become. Liz (Laura Harrier) feels like she is there so they didn't have to go the Gwen Stacy route again.  Ned ( Jacob Batalon) was mildly entertaining at first, but gets old pretty quickly.

 The part of the cast that bothered me the most was Tony Revolori. The actor does nothing wrong, but he is almost as badly miss cast as Flash Thompson, as Jessie Eisenberg was Lex Luthor. Flash is a jock. Flash is bully. Yes they get the bully right, but Flash is not a short alternate for an Academic Decathlon team. He is a full blown jock! I applaud the racially diverse cast, but come on! Get the core of the character correct. I expected more from Marvel.

 There is a large group of people dubbing this Iron Man 4, but I am happy to say that it isn't. Iron Man is great and fits into the movie well. Stark is a central plot point, but he doesn't over power the film. He is in the movie just enough to not upstage Spidey in his own film.

     Peter Parker is learning to be Spider-Man. I feel like the Stark suit is actually too much. I am not a fan of the new suit the comics have shifted too either. Spidey is smart, but he doesn't need 584 possible web shooter combinations. I really like him in the sweat suit version of the costume. There are definite plot points that I won't spoil for him wearing it. It is clearly a nod to the Scarlett Spider and that is just cool.

   My biggest problem with the movie is the same in most of the Spider- Man movies. SPOILER ALERT .......LAST CHANCE TO STOP READING................OK YOU WERE WARNED .....

I am sick of Spidey's enemies figuring out who he is. The character can keep his secret identity for years in the comics, but can't go two hours in a movie without them being figured out. I know eventually some of his enemies know, but it took a little longer than the first conflict. I know that I am nit-picking, but COME ON MAN!!!!

All in all, I like Spider-Man: Homecoming. It was fun. I love the way it fits into the bigger universe. I am glad that they didn't tell another origin story, but I did miss Uncle Ben and the quote. Marissa Tomei as Aunt May takes some getting used too also. There is a lot to love about the film, but I feel like there are some places that it misses the boat. Welcome to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Spidey. You will fit right in. I hope you next outing gets better because this one was good, but just not epic.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Transformers :The Last Knight ....and God Willing The Last of This Franchise

   Where do I even begin? I was a lot kinder than most to Michael Bay when it comes to his previous attempts at The Transformers. I easily forgave Bumblebee being a Camaro and not a VW Bug. I was cool with Optimus Prime and the red flames. I tolerated Shia Labeouf through the first three movies, but it is really tough to give this one a pass.

   I am NOT a Michael Bay hater. I loved the first one. It made me feel like a kid again. The second was just garbage and the third, despite what so many think, was my favorite in the franchise. I was OK with Age of Extinction, but it just ran too long. We now arrive at The Last Knight and I want to like it so very much, but it just has too many problems to make it a good movie.

In the time of King Arthur, a drunken Merlin discovers a crashed Transformer ship and a weapon of incredible power that bonds to his DNA. The Transformer knights help Arthur and Merlin bring peace to the land and entrust man with the care of the weapon. Meanwhile in the not so distant future, humans and Transformers are at war. Lennox (Josh Duhamel ) is back, but this time not fighting along side of the robots. He is helping another team hunt them down. Cade (Mark Wahlberg) is an outlaw doing his best to protect the few remaining Autobots. Optimus Prime is gone. Megatron is presumed dead and the robots are without a leader. While saving a young girl (Isabela Moner), Cade stumbles across an ancient weapon that could destroy the earth. He is recruited by an English Lord (Anthony Hopkins) with historical knowledge and a professor (Laura Haddock) who is believed to be able to find the ancient weapon. They must form an unlikely alliance to save the world from Optimus Prime and his creator.

  I don't know where to begin. The Last Knight has so many issues. One of which being the reveal of the title character. I don't mind Wahlberg's character, but he suffers from a very convoluted story. The movie has too much going on. The Arthurian stuff is cool, but it could be a stand alone movie rather than being crammed into this one.

 It is clear that they are setting up a Bumblebee solo movie. He gets the most screen time of any of the Transformers. The biggest complaint of this franchise has been the robots taking a backseat. They take more of a backseat in this one than they ever have before. In some places, it feels like they were forced back into the story. That is just one of the glaring problems.

  The film makes nods to characters from the first three and it was just wasted. Simmons (John Tuturro) has what amounts to a glorified cameo. It was just a waste of time. It was cool that they brought back Josh Duhamel, but it too was a waste of his character. We even get a nod to Shia Labeouf and it was slightly amusing.

 Transformers: The Last Knight attempts to borrow from the 1986 animated movie. We get introduced to the creators of the Transformers, but instead of Quintessons we get Quintessa. It just isn't the same. Unicron is also attempted, but it too is a fail. I won't spoil the end plot, but it simply makes no sense. It violates the continuity of the other films. The other films that had the same director.

We are introduced to Hot Rod who was the, "star," of the animated version. He is also wasted. I absolutely hated the French accent. I feel like Bay did it just to give a finger to fan boys. We get no flames, he is mostly black and orange, and doesn't even have the character's personality. A bad redesign and yet another wasted character. I guess Judd Nelson's career is at such a high point that he couldn't be bothered to voice the character again. That is sarcasm. Thick sarcasm.

 We now come to the two things that bothered me the most. Spoilers ahead and I will not hold back. In age of Extinction, Megatron became Galvatron.  He shows up here as Megatron with absolutely no explanation of how or why? We aren't clued into his redesign. We get nothing. He also has a moment where he,"negotiates," with Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and a team of lawyers for the release of his, " crew." A moment that looks like it is blatantly ripped out of Suicide Squad complete with character title cards.

  The star of this franchise is Optimus Prime. I love that Bay gets Peter Cullen to voice him. The problem here is two fold. First his redesign from Age of Extinction is awful. The sword and knight look doesn't play. I like my Prime looking like a semi truck and laying waste to robots with a big cannon. It ain't happening here. The second problem and this is the biggest one, he is barely in the movie! The Prime turning bad is a let down and he only has a couple of good moments. He too is lost in the convoluted story.

 This movie simply tries to do too many things and only does a couple well. The money wasted on CGI for baby dinobots and a robot butler could have been put to better use. Michael Bay has said that this will be his last and that is probably for the best. There is life left in the property, but it needs a fresh approach. This movie goes on forever and never satisfies at the end. It is not as bad as the second one, but it is better served on Netflix or DVD. It isn't the worst movie of the summer, but it is anything but it won't be transforming into a big hit either.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Mummy: Mission Set Up A Sequel

 Universal is bound and determined to create a cinematic universe based around monsters. This was supposed to start a few years ago with Dracula: Untold. It didn't go so well. I never thought Dracula was a bad movie, but we live in a world where money talks. If you don't make enough, your story will not continue on the big screen. Fast forward a few years and they try again. This time with a fresh take on The Mummy. In this one, there is no Brendan Fraser insight. We get Tom Cruise and that should be considered a trade up.

Our movie begins in Iraq, where all Egyptian horror tales get there start. OK not really, but there is a reason for it and it makes sense in the contents of the story.  Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his partner (Jake Johnson) are charged with a long range recon mission, but they are greedy. Cruise comes into a possession of a map that leads to treasure. They come under attack and the battle leads to an ancient tomb being unearthed. Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) shows up to reclaim her stolen map from cruise and explores the tomb. It is determined to be the tomb of ancient Egyptian princess named Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). A long with her comes a curse and her promise to destroy the world. Morton and Halsey set out to stop the princess and free himself from her curse. They are aided by a secret organization, led by Dr. Henry Jeckel (Russel Crowe), charged with policing the worlds monsters.

 It is a fresh take on the story. Ahmanet is a different type of mummy and unfortunately gets lost in the story. She does a great job of being scary. She has a cool back story and a much improved look. There are similarities in the powers that we have seen before, but the curse is very much new. The potential for her to be terrifying is there, but it never fully comes to be.

 Russel Crowe's Dr. Jeckel / Mr Hyde plays well, but we don't get enough of him. We never learn if he is on the side of good or bad. The organization is pretty cool. We get lots of nods to a bigger world, but again it is not fully fleshed out. There some great moments, but we just don't get enough depth with them.

   The actions scenes are what you would expect from Cruise. The plane scene from the trailer is well done and so are most of the fight scenes. It is not Cruise's fault, but we just don't get enough character development to determine how we feel about him. The best part of the character arc comes at the end of the film and again sets up future movies.

   Every universe has a starting point. The Mummy happens to be the beginning of this one. It doesn't mean this is a bad movie, but it also isn't enough of a movie. It feel very small for all of the big effects. The story is just OK. It is a fresh attempt and a good start, but it just spends too much time setting up the future. The characters suffer a bit and the story sometimes gets lost. It isn't quite where I wanted it to be, but it is better than I expected.