Archive for the Action/Adventure Category

The Dark Tower

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

There are other worlds than these. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, the ambitious and expansive story from one of the world’s most celebrated authors, makes its launch to the big screen. The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

What people are saying:

“I’ve been told that The Dark Tower books are jam-packed with dense plot, wonderful characters, and a sprawling mythology – which is what made the movie so hard to make for all these years. Well, the solution seems to have been to just scrap all that and release a shockingly short 95-minute movie that just kind of glosses over everything to the point that has any meaning or purpose” 2 1/2 stars

“Elba, eyes narrowed, brow furrowed, delivers a one-note performance of weary stoicism, while McConaughey fails to embody evil incarnate, though he does at least display the odd flash of malevolent wit.” 2 stars

“What an abomination. Any resemblance between this and the Stephen King novels that inspired it(?) is purely coincidental.Elba is the best thing in it and I admire his ability to stay in character instead of running screaming from the set. Poor CGI, disjointed story,strained dialogue, indifferent acting other than the three leads, it’s a hodge podge of the worst B movie traditions. Tedious and boring. King deserves much much better.” 1 star

“Going into the movie without knowing the story it was quite entertaining. If you just enjoy the movie rather than worrying about low reviews you will likely enjoy it. decent story about good vesus evil.Several really great action scenes and you actually care bout the two main actors. Well worth a rental.” 4 stars

“I don’t know why people complain about non-compliance with a book. You read to stoke YOUR imagination. Do you expect a director to please everyone else who read it? Thus we come to the quality of the movie–never read the books. This is above average for the genre. McConaughey is so brilliantly evil. Elba and the boy bond beautifully. Well paced and written, the story line worked for me as presented. Better than 20 hours and six films of Hobbits, etc. to get the story. It’s a well done and entertaining movie.” 4 stars

Advertisements

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

It’s back to the 1960s as Batman and Robin spring into action when Gotham City is threatened by a quartet of Batman’s most fiendish foes–Penguin, The Joker, Riddler and Catwoman. This time, the four Super-Villains have combined their wicked talents to hatch a plot so nefarious that the Dynamic Duo will need to go to outer space (and back) to foil their arch enemies and restore order in Gotham City. It’s a truly fantastic adventure that will pit good against evil, good against good, evil against evil… and feature two words that exponentially raise the stakes for both sides: Replicator Ray. Holy Multiplication Tables!

What people are saying:

“It’s both a subtle jab at more dour versions of Batman in the mythology and acts as a stamp that marks West’s version as a cunning and capable character.” 4 stars

“What’s this? A DC Original Animated Movie that is smartly written, fun, and captures the spirit of what it’s adapting? Not simply a extended episode serving as a homage to the original 60’s series, but actually a true Batman ’66 feature-length adventure. Sure, the returning cast members may sound their age- but they sure sound like they’re having the same kind of fun they had back in the day. And they thought Batman couldn’t be thing way again.” 4 stars

“Once you get past the voices, which are of course noticeably older or replacements for those that have passed on, you can settle into a film that perfectly captures the spirit of the 60’s show while adding in some clever commentary on Batman interactions that have appeared since. The animated medium allows for the proceedings to be on a much bigger scale, and while that counts against it towards the end when the runtime starts to go on a little too long (it’s about four episodes worth of the TV show and might have been better sticking to its standard two-part, 40 minute story format), it does use the extra time to wrap up a character arc from the show. It’s this tendency to go beyond its remit, as well as its razor-sharp script and contagious sense of fun, that makes it easy to recommend to Batman fans old and new alike.” 3 1/2 stars

“Let’s take just a second: Adam West has been Batman off and on for 50 years. That may be type-casting, but when fans think of Batman, The Caped Crusader, the name that comes to mind after Bruce Wayne is Adam West. Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders reminds us all why Adam West is the best Batman. It brings back everything we liked about the series. This is pretty much a sequel to the Batman ’66 film. The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman have teamed up again to take over Gotham and ultimately – the world! There are jokes about three Catwomen. Commissioner Gordon sports his trademark mustache. There are cool things here in animation that would burst a live-action budget as far as special effects. There is one questionable joke that for me fell flat. Your mileage may vary. Make no mistake: this is The Bright Knight, a far different Batman than what we have seen since 1989. There is a sequel coming, with William (Captain Kirk) Shatner as Two-Face. Hopefully this will develop into a franchise – maybe a true return for the Caped Crusaders!” 5 stars

“There’s a joy impossible to deny. It’s crafted by a team that can hardly contain its adoration for the material. That love is so apparent it might win over a new generation.” 4 1/2 stars

The War Wagon

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

John Wayne and Kirk Douglas spend half of The War Wagon trying to knock one another off and the other half working shoulder to shoulder. Settling an old score with avaricious mine owner Bruce Cabot, Wayne plans to steal a $500,000 gold shipment from his enemy. Douglas, at first hired by Cabot to kill Wayne, goes along with the robbery scheme. Also in on the plan is Howard Keel, superbly cast as a world-weary, wisecracking Native American (it’s the sort of part that nowadays would go to Graham Greene). The titular war wagon is the armor-plated, Gatling-gun fortified stagecoach wherein Cabot’s gold is transported. Thus the stage is set for a slam-bang finale, and director Burt Kennedy isn’t about to disappoint the viewers.

What people are saying:

“…that comparative rarity, a Western filmed with quiet good humor. It is also a point of departure for John Wayne, who plays a bad guy for just about the first time in his career” 4 stars

“John Wayne (in his 162nd film) joins forces with Kirk Douglas in this revenge Western that propagates rather dangerously vigilante justice, a theme Clint Eastwood will carry to an extreme in the Dirty Harry pictures.” 3 1/2 stars

“The expected clash of two headliners in the same Western is not as apparent as expected, it plays out as a mildly amusing adventure with Douglas’ lighter approach helping to offset Wayne who is as ever unchanged in another gunfighter role.” 3 stars

“This is a “caper” film, about what would be a heist in other circumstances. Since the ethics of the perpetrators are those which should have made the authorities make the robbery unnecessary, their act is justified in this situation. This noir western is a bit slick-appearing at some times; but it is physically attractive, has a good cast portraying colorful and somewhat desperate characters, and a strong theme song. Dimitri Tiomkin supplied the very capable score; and Burt Kennedy did a solid job of directing throughout. The very appealing storyline concerns Taw Jackson, played ably by John Wayne, who returns from prison to get back what he can from Bruce Cabot, who stole his ranch and framed him. All he can do is to recruit a group of “mission fighters”, beginning with the man who had shot him 5 years earlier, Lomax, played by dynamic Kirk Douglas-and raid the “war wagon”–his enemy’s vehicle for transporting gold, a Gatling-Gun-equipped armored stagecoach. Taw’s team includes a drunken young dynamite expert he met in prison Robert Walker Jr., Keenan Wynn who is insanely jealous of his young wife, Valora Noland as the wife, Levi Walking Bear in the charismatic person of Howard Keel, his liaison to needed Indian allies, and more. Gene Evans, Joanna Barnes, Ann McRea, Terry Wilson and Frank Mcgrath are among those also doing good professional work in this interesting narrative. Only Noland is a bit weak in this cast. There are some humorous lines and interesting character moments as Wayne assembles his group and plots an attack worthy of “The Dirty Dozen” or “Where Eagles Dare”, involving trees that fall at the right moment, Indians faking an attack as a diversion, dynamite used to block off access to a bridge, and a log that swings down and opens the rolling piggy bank violently. What happens after this successful robbery leads to a compromised denouement and ending; but the film is vividly put together, professionally mounted and decently scripted by Clair Huffaker from his own novel. The film stands as a reminder of what any well-made film about an ethical central character can provide relative to any un-ethical and not-fictional man’s story competing for a cinema viewer’s attention. Moments such as Wayne’s visit to his ranch and his talk with the man who stole it, the recruiting of Lomax, the relations of the group, and the raid itself are all memorable. Underrated and always visually interesting.” 4 stars

“Fun tongue in cheek Western that survives an initial slow start to be entertaining afterwards throughout. Both John Wayne and Kirk Douglas do great and have tremendous on screen chemistry together. Their friendly,competitive rivalry that mirrors their off screen persona’s. Works extremely well and carries what would have otherwise been an average western. Even though they had their differences in real life, such as politics, you can tell they had a real respect for one another, and this movie does a good job of capturing that. One of the few roles that put the Duke on the wrong side of the law. Let down by the Western scenery, but was impressed with Howard Keel. I liked it but seeing Wayne and Douglas jell as well as they did makes me wish they could have joined together for a better Western. Good but unspectacular movie is highlighted by a hilarious bar room brawl and an extremely catchy theme.” 3 1/2 stars

Justice League

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes–Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash–it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

What people are saying:

Justice League… has been conceived, in each and every frame, to correct the sins of Batman v Superman. It’s not just a sequel—it’s an act of franchise penance. The movie… is never messy or bombastic. It’s light and clean and simple (at times almost too simple), with razory repartee and combat duels that make a point of not going on for too long” 4 stars

“A turgid film that thinks it’s more important than it really is bringing together characters that haven’t been given much in the way of individual support so far, making them feel tacked-on.” 3 1/2 stars

“Another tremendously lazy and incoherent mess of a film. If the idea of 2 hours of green screen doesnt turn you off immediately, the total lack of pacing, acting ability, and visual appeal certainly should.” 1 star

“Entertaining, yes, but one can’t shake the feeling DC is still trying to play catch up with Marvel. Also of note is that while there is a noticeably lighter tone to this film, they actors/characters still do not seem to be having fun. Don’t get me started on Henry Cavil’s upper lip!” 2 1/2 stars

“This movie is a lot better than it has gotten credit for, and personally I think it’s the best of the 5 films in the DC Extended Universe so far, but it’s still hard to not view it as a knock-off of “The Avengers”. The plot of both films is the exact same – a group of superheroes form a team to stop an extraterrestrial villain and his army of creatures from conquering the world, but is not executed as well here. Having said that, I guess if you’re going to rip a film off, you may as well rip off a good one, as this ends up being mostly entertaining. The cast of the DCEU continues to be fantastic, specifically newcomers Ezra Miller (Flash) and Jason Momoa (Aquaman). I thought Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Ben Affleck (Batman) weren’t quite as charming as in prior films, but Henry Cavill continues to shine as Superman. He is the only Superman actor in the same league as Christopher Reeve. There are a few really good moments, including a scene which showcases how much of a beast Superman is, and a humorous scene where Aquaman falls victim to Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth. The villain is unfortunately weak, partly due to being completely CGI. I’m guessing we won’t get a sequel, as this was the lowest grossing DCEU movie, despite it supposed to be a culmination movie of sorts and the “biggest” one in the series. Ultimately, it is a good movie, though doesn’t really meet expectations after all of the build-up.” 4 stars

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1987, Janet van Dyne / Wasp shrinks between the molecules of a Soviet nuclear missile, disabling it but becoming trapped in the sub-atomic quantum realm. Hank Pym / Ant-Man raises their daughter Hope believing that Janet is dead. Years later, former criminal Scott Lang takes up the mantle of Ant-Man and discovers a way to both enter and return from the quantum realm. Pym and Hope begin work on repeating this feat, believing they may find Janet alive. Lang and Hope also start a romantic relationship and begin training to fight together as Ant-Man and the Wasp, until Lang secretly helps Captain America during a skirmish between the Avengers in violation of the Sokovia Accords. Lang is placed under house arrest, while Pym and Hope go into hiding and cut ties with Lang.

Two years later, Pym and Hope briefly manage to open a tunnel to the quantum realm. Lang receives an apparent message from Janet with whom he is quantumly entangled. Despite having only days left of house arrest, Lang decides to call Pym. Hope kidnaps Lang, leaving a decoy so as not to arouse suspicion from FBI agent Jimmy Woo. Seeing the message as confirmation that Janet is alive, Pym and Hope work to create a stable tunnel so they can take a vehicle to the quantum realm and retrieve Janet. Hope arranges to buy a part needed for the tunnel from black market dealer Sonny Burch, but Burch has realized the potential profit that can be earned from Pym and Hope’s research and double-crosses them. Hope fights Burch and his men off, until she is attacked by a quantumly unstable masked woman. Lang tries to help fight off this “ghost”, but she escapes with Pym’s portable lab.

Pym reluctantly visits his estranged former partner Bill Foster who helps them locate the lab. The ghost restrains Lang, Hope, and Pym when they arrive, and reveals herself to be Ava Starr. Her father Elihas, another former partner of Pym’s, accidentally killed himself and his wife during a quantum experiment that caused Ava’s unstable state. Foster reveals that he has been helping Ava, who they plan to cure using Janet’s quantum energy. Believing that this will kill Janet, Pym refuses to help them and the trio manage to escape.

Opening a stable version of the tunnel this time, Pym and Hope are able to contact Janet, who gives them a precise location to find her, but warns that they only have two hours before the unstable nature of the realm separates them for a century. Burch learns their location from Lang’s business partners Luis, Dave, and Kurt, and informs a contact at the FBI. Luis warns Lang, who rushes home before Woo can see him breaking his house arrest. This leaves Pym and Hope to be arrested, and for their lab to be taken by Ava.

Lang is soon able to help Pym and Hope escape custody, and they find the lab. Lang and Hope distract Ava while Pym enters the quantum realm to retrieve Janet, but the pair end up fighting Burch and his men which allows Ava to begin taking Janet’s energy. Luis, Dave, and Kurt help apprehend Burch, so Lang and Hope can stop Ava. Pym and Janet arrive safely from the quantum realm, and Janet voluntarily gifts some of her energy to Ava to temporarily stabilize her.

Lang returns home once again, in time for a now suspicious Woo to release him at the end of his house arrest. Ava and Foster go into hiding. In a mid-credits scene, Pym, Lang, Hope, and Janet plan to harvest quantum energy to continue helping Ava. While Lang is doing this in the quantum realm, Pym, Hope, and Janet all disintegrate

REVIEW:

Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War and with the way Luke Cage seems to be headed, it is way past time for something a little lighter to cleanse our palette of all this darkness in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Enter Ant-Man and the Wasp. Much like its predecessor, this is perhaps the most comedic of the MCU films, but what worked once doesn’t always work a second time. How will things pan out this go ’round?

What is this about?

In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father. As he struggles to re-balance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he’s confronted by Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym with an urgent new mission. Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from their past.

What did I like?

Wasp. At the end of Ant-Man, it was teased that Evangeline Lily’s character would suit up and become the Wasp. Already shown to be a capable fighter, the thought of her kicking butt and taking names had everyone, especially those fans of Lost, Iron Man 2. salivating. Well, i can officially say that does not disappoint. I was telling someone earlier that she kicks ass on the level of Black Widow when we first meet her in If you don’t believe me, just check out her scene in the hotel or during the car chase as she is saving the lab. Oh, and for those that care about that sort of thing, she looks great in her suit, but not once is it brought up, save for a “i like your suit” comment.

Daddy/daughter day. For all the laughs, hi-tech gizmos, action, peril, and what have you, the thing that works the most about this film is the relationship between Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd, and his daughter. The warmth and caring he shows to her through out the film warms your heart and the love she shows for her father, despite the fact that he is an ex-con and a superhero is amazing. On the topic of fathers and daughters, there is a similar level of love and respect shown by Hope van Dyne, played by Evangeline Lily, towards her father throughout this whole ordeal and going back even to the last film.

Ghost in the machine. I’ll be honest with you. I had to look up the character of Ghost, because i had never heard of her before. As it turns out, she is actually a him in the comics, and though this character has her own set of issues and a mean streak, she’s nothing compared to the psychopath in the comics. What i like about what they did with this character in the film is how tragic they made her backstory. Something Marvel has been doing with their villains, of late. The audience can really relate to the pain she is going through and understand why she hates Hank Pym.

What didn’t I like?

What’s that, Sonny? Ghost is fine antagonist for this film. She has a tragic backstory, complete with ties to our main character, her plan is nefarious enough that it just might work, and she has a bloodthirsty streak that is sure to bring her back to our attention at some point in the MCU. So, with a great villain like her, why do we need this guy, Sonny? My friends over at doubletoasted.com figured it out in their review of this film. He and his gang are there for the car chase scenes. As i was watching this film, that is about all they were good for, save for the one scene with the truth serum.

Post credit. These MCU movies have become known for their mid and post credit scenes. In the theater where i watched this, no one moved after the credits started rolling, except this one bitter couple who kept saying something about it needs more Black Panther. So, what is my deal with the post-credit scene? I have no issue with it at all, other than it was given away in the trailers! For Pete’s sake, these scenes are meant to be special. How can that happen when the studio is giving them out like shots at a frat house party?

No storytime. Michael Pena’s character, Luis, was a big reason the first film was such a hit. His stories were golden! So, what do the filmmaker’s decide to do with him this time? Take away his stories! WTF?!? It takes a non truth serum truth serum, you have to watch the scene in question to understand, to get him to tell us a story. One he started going, all felt right. So tell me, why is it that we weren’t able to get this in the first place?

Final verdict on Ant-Man and the Wasp? This is a film that appeals to everyone, action junkies, sci-fi nerds, feminazis, families wanting to watch a movie together, even ants cane get something out of this. That said, i didn’t quite get same feeling i got from the first film. This isn’t necessarily a rehash, but it doesn’t have the feel of a movie event as the first film seemed to have. That really is my biggest complaint about this flick, though. Do I recommend it? Yes, very highly! So, check it out when you get the chance!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

Incredibles 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Family, Movie Reviews, Pixar, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Three months following Syndrome’s defeat, the Parr family – Bob, Helen, Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack – continue operating under their superhero identity, the Incredibles. After unsuccessfully preventing the villain Underminer from robbing Metroville Bank, the authorities become concerned over the level of damage caused by the incident. As a result, Rick Dicker informs the Parr family that his department’s “Super Relocation” program is being shut down, forcing supers across the world to permanently adhere to their secret identities. Soon thereafter, Bob and Helen, along with family friend Lucius Best – the superhero Frozone – are contacted by Winston Deavor, a superhero fan, telecommunications tycoon, and owner of DEVTECH, who proposes a publicity stunt to regain the general public’s support of supers.

Helen Parr, considered the least-destructive of the supers, is selected to undertake the stunt by openly fighting crime in New Urbrem, under her old identity of Elastigirl. As part of the plan, Winston provides the family with a new home, to which Bob offers to take care of the kids while Helen is away. During her absence, Bob discovers that Jack-Jack has various super powers, but struggles with controlling the family’s infant. Seeking help, Bob takes Jack-Jack to Edna Mode, a family friend and superhero-costume designer, who agrees to help upon seeing the baby’s superpowers in action. Helen meanwhile confronts the Screenslaver – a mysterious villain who hijacks screens in order to project hypnotic images that can brainwash civilians.

After rescuing an ambassador from the Screenslaver’s clutches, she manages to defeat him, only to find that he is no more than a pizza delivery man, who has no recollection of what he did. While attending a celebration of the Screenslaver’s defeat at the Deavor’s, Helen realizes that the pizza delivery man was being controlled by hypno-screens within his goggles. Before she can alert anyone to this, Winston’s sister Evelyn Deavor overpowers her and brainwashes her with Screenslaver’s goggles glasses. Evelyn reveals herself to be the mastermind behind the Screenslaver – seeing supers as a threat to humanity’s independence, she sought to undermine her brother’s mission, and plans to brainwash the world’s leaders so that they cannot re-legalize superheroes. Evelyn then manages to lure Bob and Lucius into a trap, and place them under her control with brainwashing glasses.

Avoiding the same fate as their parents, Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack, whom Edna had outfitted with a super-suit, sneak aboard the Deavor’s ship to rescue their parents, as the world leaders meet for a hearing on supers. After freeing their parents and Lucius, the group reveal Evelyn’s plan to the assembled leaders. A battle on the boat ensues, threatening to crash the ship into New Urbrem. However, the group manage to stop it, while Helen apprehends Evelyn when she tries to make an escape. Following the incident, the Supers Relocation Program is reinstated in response to the group’s heroism, making supers legal once again.

REVIEW:

There have been some long-awaited films to be released in the past 12 months including, but not limited to Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Star Wars : The Last Jedi, etc. None of these come anywhere near the anticipation for Incredibles 2. 14 years we have been waiting for this sequel…14 years!!! Will this be worth the wait or a major letdown? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2”–but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transition for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again–which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

What did I like?

Right where we left off. Every now and then we are privy to a sequel for a film that was released some 5, 10, 15 yrs prior. While it is great to see these characters, and in some cases actors, again, the feeling just isn’t the same…even if they move the story forward and age with the actors. The brilliant thing about animation is that these characters don’t age (I read they did think about aging them in an early meeting, though). The only difference in this cast over the past 14 years is the voice of Dash is a different actor, for voice change reasons and the guy that was agent Dicker retired and passed away. Once those holes were filled, it was easy to come in and pick up right where The Incredibles left off. Literally, they pick up in the same scene that ends the first film!

Jack-Jack of all trades. There has been a real emphasis placed on marketing the baby, Jack-Jack. Can you blame them, though? The kid is cute, has a seemingly unending array of powers, and there is a fight with a raccoon that steals the show! If this moves forward with another film, I am interested to see where they go with him and his powers. One theory is that he’ll stop being cute, rebel against the family, and become a supervillain. Meh, I’m not much a fan of that theory, but this kid does need to be reigned in a bit. Strangely enough, he seems to have a rapport with Edna…maybe that will lead to something?

Comedy. Let’s face it, outside of the Guardians of the Galaxy films and Ant-Man, superhero films are serious business (Marvel does throw in jokes here and there, unlike the brooding, depressing DC Universe). I don’t know why, but I was afraid this film was going to go in that direction as well. Instead, there are plenty of jokes to go around. Pixar may be known for tugging on the heartstrings primarily *COUGH* Up *COUGH*, but leave us not forget they know how to make an audience of all ages laugh, too, something they succeed with in spades with the film. Situations with Jack-Jack, Bob learning new math, the character Voyd’s nervousness around Elastigirl, etc. All the jokes land and make for a thoroughly entertaining film.

What didn’t I like?

Feminism. Over the course of this blog’s history, I have made it no secret that I am no fan of feminism. Everyone should have equal rights, sure, but don’t shove your agenda down my throat, or say I am a bad person because I prefer seeing a damsel in distress once in a while. The level of feminism in this film isn’t bra burning, stop shaving your armpits, listen to 90s era lesbian grunge, for lack of a better term…blame the ladies I went to college with…but it does reek of trying to put the focus on Elastigirl and shove her down our throat. I’m ok with that, except for the fact that we for a good chunk of her in the last film. If you wanted to give us some girl power, why not put the focus on Violet, which some of the film was, or make a new super, which they did and i’ll get to her next. Hell, even give some more with Edna, even though she doesn’t have powers, one gets the feeling she could do some damage. All in all, though, in this day and age where is seems to be a crime to be male, let alone a straight male, this film took the easy road and pushed all the guys to the back of the bus.

Voyd the other supers. We saw in the last film that all the supers were killed, either by horrific accidents, which Edna Mode blamed on capes, or by Syndrome’s robots. As one generations falls, another one must rise. Enter a new group of supers. Most are forgettable, tbh, except for Voyd. I have two issues with the new guys. First, all of these powers are what we’ve seen a billion times, electricity (Black Lightning), telekinesis (Jean Gray), super strength (Mr. Incredible), flight (Angel), and the one that did stand out was an old man whose acid reflux allows him to spit lava! *SIGH* Second, Voyd is a great character. Her fangirling over Elastigirl almost made me want her to turn on her, but that would be a rehash of the first film in some respects. I do think they could have dialed her back a bit or given her compatriot supers some more time to develop personalities. I don’t think the electric dude said anything outside of introducing his powers when we first meet him!

Seen it all before. There is a misconception that this is the exact same film, just with the genders reversed. That isn’t the case. For instance, the villain isn’t anywhere near as strong a characters as Syndrome. There is a twist that comes before the last act, which you can probably see coming a mile away, but it doesn’t affect a character like you would think. Elastigirl isn’t hiding her superhero assignment. Blah, blah, blah All that said, there are more things in common with the first film that I would like for there to be, such as the main plot of one going out to be super, while the other stays home and takes care of the kids. If that was done for familiarities sake, then ok, but if it took Brad Bird 14 years to come up with that perfect story, I am highly disappointed.

The Incredibles is my all time favorite Pixar film. I have waited as we have had a sequel, and a prequel, to just about every Pixar film that was released before (and after) 2004. Not all of them have been good, some have been an obvious cash grab, and others were just horrible, but Incredibles 2 delivers. Is it as good as its predecessor? No, but let’s look at the superhero landscape and people’s general attitudes since the original was released. There has been a definite shift. That being said, I highly enjoyed this film and look forward to watching it again, and again, and again. My only real issues are that the Underminer got away and there are now 2 blueprints for how to do a solid Fantastic Four film for whichever studio ends up getting the rights. Do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! Stop reading and watch it multiple times with the whole family!

5 out of 5 stars

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On the shipbuilding world of Corellia, orphaned children are made to steal in order to survive. Han and his lover Qi’ra make an escape from the clutches of a local criminal gang. They bribe an Imperial officer with a stolen sample of coaxium, a powerful hyperspace fuel, in exchange for passage on an outgoing transport, but Qi’ra is apprehended by their pursuers before she can board. Han vows to return for her and joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet. When the recruiting officer asks for his family name, Han says he has no family, and is alone, so the recruiter gives him the surname “Solo” in his documents.

Three years later, Han has been expelled from the Imperial Flight Academy for insubordination. While serving as an infantryman during a battle on the planet Mimban, he encounters a gang of criminals posing as Imperial soldiers led by Tobias Beckett. He tries to blackmail them into taking him with them, but Beckett has him arrested for desertion and thrown into a pit to be fed to a beast – a Wookiee named Chewbacca. Able to understand Chewbacca’s language, Han persuades him to work together to escape their confinement. In need of extra hands, Beckett rescues them and enlists them in the gang’s plot to steal a shipment of coaxium on the planet Vandor-1. The plan goes awry when the Cloud Riders show up with their leader Enfys Nest, resulting in the deaths of two crew members, Rio Durant and Beckett’s wife, Val, and the destruction of the coaxium.

Beckett reveals he was ordered to steal the shipment for Dryden Vos, a high-ranking crime boss in the Crimson Dawn syndicate. Han and Chewbacca volunteer to help him steal another shipment to repay the debt. They travel to Vos’s yacht where Han finds Qi’ra, who has joined Crimson Dawn and become Vos’s top lieutenant. Han suggests a risky plan to steal unrefined coaxium from the mines on the planet Kessel; Vos approves but insists that Qi’ra accompany the team. She leads them to Lando Calrissian, an accomplished smuggler and pilot who she hopes will lend them his ship. Han challenges Lando to a game of sabacc, with the wager being Lando’s ship. Lando cheats to win but agrees to join the mission in exchange for a share of the profits.

The team boards his ship, the Millennium Falcon, and heads for Kessel. After reaching the planet and infiltrating the mine, Lando’s droid co-pilot L3-37 instigates a slave revolt. They use the confusion to steal a consignment of coaxium, but L3 is severely damaged and Lando is injured during the escape. With the help of L3’s navigational computer, freshly hotwired into the ship’s systems, Han pilots the ship along a dangerous route through an uncharted maelstrom to elude an Imperial blockade. The Falcon, badly damaged, lands on the planet Savareen to process the coaxium.

During a confrontation with Enfys, who has tracked the team from Vandor, Lando flees in the Falcon. Enfys explains to Han that she and her crew are not pirates, but rebels trying to prevent the syndicates and the Empire from gaining power. Han becomes sympathetic to their cause and tries to trick Vos, but Beckett has already alerted him to the double-cross. Vos sends his guards to kill Enfys, but the Cloud Riders overpower them instead, leaving Vos defenseless. Having anticipated Vos’s strategy, Han tries to take the coaxium, only for Beckett to betray Vos, escaping with it and taking Chewbacca hostage. Qi’ra kills Vos and sends Han after Beckett; once alone, she contacts Vos’s superior, Maul, to inform him of the mission’s failure and claim Vos’s position within the syndicate. She avoids telling him of Han’s involvement, instead blaming everything on Beckett.

Han catches up to Beckett and confronts him. Han shoots Beckett first before he can shoot him, and with his dying words Beckett tells Han he made the smart choice. Qi’ra leaves in Vos’ yacht, while Han and Chewbacca turn the coaxium over to Enfys. She offers Han a chance to join the rebellion against the Empire; when he declines, she gives him one vial of coaxium, enough to buy a ship of his own. Han and Chewbacca locate Lando and challenge him to a rematch in sabacc, once again wagering the Falcon. Han wins, having stolen the card Lando was keeping up his sleeve in order to cheat, and he and Chewbacca leave for Tatooine, where a “big-shot gangster” is putting together a smuggling operation.

REVIEW:

Han Solo has long been a fan favorite, but we have never really known much about him, how he partnered up with Chewbacca, won the Millennium Falcon, etc. Part of this mystery is what has made him such an endearing character, but there is also that part of all of us that wants to learn more about his past. This is what Solo: A Star Wars Story sets out to accomplish. Was the goal met?

What is this about?

With the emerging demand of hyperfuel and other resources, Han Solo finds himself in the middle of a heist alongside other criminals, where they meet the likes of Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian in an adventurous situation exposing the criminal underworld of the Star Wars saga.

What did I like?

Kessel run. In Star Wars, one of the first things out of Han Solo’s mouth is how he made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. When we meet Lando Calrissian in Empire Strikes Back, he also alludes to it, if I’m not mistaken. For something that is such a major bragging point, one would think we’d have seen it. Hell, i had no idea what the Kessel run was until halfway through this film. I was thinking it was some kind of race, a la Cannonball Run, so I am very pleased to learn what this was and see it actually happen.

All hail, Khalessi. Every review of this film that i have heard and/or read is praising Donald Glover’s performance as Lando Calrissian, and with good reason. With Han, the jury seems to be split, though. I want to speak about Emilia Clarke. First off, Solo better back up off my future wife!!! Second, anyone that has seen an episode of Game of Thrones is more than aware of the acting chops this young actress has, but one thing that hasn’t really been put on display are her action chops. Sure, she starred in the last Terminator film, but who actually watched that? If she keeps making these blockbuster films, she is sure to be one Hollywood’s “it” girls. Some would say she is more deserving that most of the current crop.

Bring the fun. Surely by now, you have heard of the massive backlash against The Last Jedi and most of the cast and crew. If you haven’t, go look it up on YouTube, or google some of the insane things the rabid fan have said while hiding in their parents’  basement eating hot pockets and breathing heavily through their mouths. For me, I feel these films dubbed “the new trilogy” are too dark and serious. Somehow, the makers of this film remembered that the original films may have had some dark themes interspersed with exciting action, but there was also fun and levity in there as well, something these new films seem to forget.

What didn’t I like?

Language barrier. This whole time we’ve been under the impression that Han and Chewbacca just understood each other. Well, throw that assumption away because, according to this film, Han speaks Wookie. Now, i will give the film credit for introducing that aspect of their relationship because it explains how they got together in the first place. However, they way  they bring it up in their initial meeting and it is never mentioned or used again is what i didn’t like. No, we didn’t need to hear Han butchering the Wookie language (it is explained that he isn’t a Wookie linguist), but perhaps gradually show the growing relationship and understanding of the two, rather than two Wookie lines and bam, they can understand each other perfectly.

Cat scratch fever. I was just made aware as i was setting this review up that the character of Dryden Vos was originally to be played by Michael K. Williams, but was recast with Paul Bettany because of scheduling issues. My problem has nothing to do with Bettany nor does it involve some comparison of the two actors. My issue is with the look of the character. Had Williams been able to return to the set for reshoots, we’d have seen a true alien life form, much like we are used to seeing in this universe. Instead, we get Bettany who appears to have had a run in with a lion, tiger, or something along those lines. I guess if this was a last minute addition, i could understand it was a quick fix, but given all the money that this production has, surely something more imaginative could have been done. Unless this was a case of Bettany not wanting to sit in the make up chair for hours on end as I’m sure he has to do to play Vision in The Avengers films.

Low stakes. Through no fault of its own, this picture is flawed. How so? Well, no matter how perilous situation they were put it, we all know nothing is going to happen to Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian, as they appear in the holy trilogy. Much like every character in Rogue One was killed off because they weren’t in the actual films, we have the same scenario here. As much as I liked Lando’s droid L3 and the Emilia Clarke’s character Q’ira, we know what fate awaits them, whether it is in this film or beyond. This is a problem with prequels, you can’t really give the audience a heart attack because of a situation involving the main character because it is already known they survive.

Final verdict on Solo: A Star Wars Story? Something amazing is happening with the Star Wars franchise here in the last few years. We’ve had 4 films. The 2 that continue the main story have been well-received, but reaction has been average at best, most of that coming from The Force Awakens. The other 2 films, this and Rogue One, exist outside the main story, weren’t super hyped-up (personally, I was avoiding this film) and yet, they have been some of the best films in the franchise since the holy trilogy. I could list a laundry list of complaints about this film and end up typing all night, but instead the thing that is most important to know about this film is that is has everything we have come to love about the Star Wars franchise, action, comedy, romance, adventures in space, characters we wish we could be, aliens, etc. For that reason I say this is a must-see!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars