Archive for the Superhero Films Category

Thor: Ragnarok

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two years after the Battle of Sokovia, Thor has been unsuccessfully searching for the Infinity Stones, and is now imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur. Surtur reveals that Thor’s father Odin is no longer on Asgard, and that the realm will soon be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarök, once Surtur unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that burns in Odin’s vault. Thor defeats Surtur and claims his crown, believing he has prevented Ragnarök.

Thor returns to Asgard to find his brother Loki posing as Odin. Thor forces Loki to help him find their father, and with directions from Stephen Strange on Earth, they locate Odin in Norway. Odin explains that he is dying, and that his passing will allow his firstborn child, Hela, to escape from a prison she was sealed in long ago. Hela had been the leader of Asgard’s armies, and had conquered the Nine Realms with Odin, but had been imprisoned and written out of history after Odin feared that she had become too ambitious. Odin subsequently dies, and Hela, released from her imprisonment, appears. She destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, and when Thor and Loki attempt to flee through the Bifröst Bridge, she pursues them and forces them out into space to die. Hela arrives in Asgard, destroying its army and the Warriors Three; resurrects the ancient dead who once fought with her, including her giant wolf Fenris; and appoints the Asgardian Skurge as her executioner. She plans to use the Bifröst to expand Asgard’s empire, but Heimdall covertly steals the sword that controls the Bridge, and hides away with the rest of Asgard’s citizens.

Thor crash-lands on Sakaar, a garbage planet surrounded by wormholes. He is captured by a bounty hunter named Scrapper 142, and taken to serve as a gladiator for the planet’s ruler, the Grandmaster, with whom Loki has already become ingratiated. Thor recognizes 142 as one of the Valkyrior, a legendary force of female warriors who were killed defending Asgard from Hela long ago. Thor is forced to compete in the Grandmaster’s Contest of Champions, facing his old friend the Hulk. Summoning lightning, Thor almost defeats the Hulk but the Grandmaster sabotages the fight to ensure the Hulk’s victory. Still enslaved, Thor attempts to convince Hulk and 142 to help him save Asgard, but neither is willing. He soon manages to escape the palace and finds the Quinjet that brought Hulk to Sakaar. Hulk follows Thor to the Quinjet, where a recording of Natasha Romanoff makes him transform back into Bruce Banner for the first time since Sokovia.

The Grandmaster orders 142 and Loki to find Thor and Hulk, but the pair come to blows and Loki forces her to relive the deaths of her fellow Valkyrie at the hands of Hela. Deciding to help Thor, she takes Loki captive to prove her goodwill. Unwilling to be left behind, Loki provides the group with the means to steal one of the Grandmaster’s ships. They then liberate the other gladiators who, led by Korg and Miek, stage a rebellion. Loki attempts to betray his brother to gain a reward from the Grandmaster, but Thor anticipates this and leaves him behind, where Korg and the gladiators soon find him. Thor, Banner, and 142 escape through a wormhole to Asgard, where Hela’s forces are attacking Heimdall and Asgard’s citizens. Banner becomes the Hulk again, fighting Fenris, while Thor and 142 battle Skurge and the resurrected warriors. Loki and the gladiators arrive to help, and the citizens board their large ship; a repentant Skurge sacrifices himself to allow their escape. Thor, facing Hela, loses an eye and then has a vision of Odin that helps him realize only Ragnarök can stop Hela. While Hela is distracted, Loki locates Surtur’s crown and places it in the Eternal Flame. Surtur is reborn and destroys Asgard, seemingly killing Hela.

Thor and the others escape with Asgard’s remaining citizens aboard the Grandmaster’s vessel. Thor, crowned king, decides to take his people to Earth. In a mid-credits scene, they are intercepted by a large spacecraft. In a post-credits scene, the Grandmaster encounters a group of his former subjects, who are still rebelling.

REVIEW:

It seems of all the Avengers, aside from Hawkeye, Thor is the biggest butt of all the jokes, mostly on the internet, but a few time in the movies. With his two films, the right tone for the character just could not be locked down. Perhaps Thor: Ragnarok will be the one to solve this dilemma and give us a solid film for such a major Marvel character.

What is this about?

Imprisoned, the almighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

What did I like?

Hela good.

Marvel has been churning out great films, some better than others, since the MCU started. With that said, there is a complaint that seems to be universal among fans and critics. Villains in the Marvel universe just aren’t strong, aside from Loki. Well, Hela has come in and made a name for herself. Not only did she destroy Thor’s hammer, but she took over Asgard, brought and army back from the dead, is pretty much indestructible, and we were given some development to her character. What more could you ask for in an evil, malevolent being…I’m looking at you Ronin the  Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy)!

Dark World resolution. Thor: The Dark World was not universally loved. It seems as if Marvel wants us to forget about it with as little reference there is to it. Whether you think it was god or bad, the ending of the film needed to be resolved in some way. Loki was masquerading as Odin while the real Odin is apparently on Earth. Thor finds out about this and…well, he’s none to happy. As a matter of fact, this leads to the plot device of this film, now that I think about it. Guess it won’t be forgotten, anymore…at least the final scene.

Individuality. Heimdall has been a pretty badass character in these films…when they give him the chance to do something other than stand guard at the Bifrost. Relieved of his duties, he now saves Asgardian refugees from Hela’s wrath. We also get some interesting individual moments from Thor and Hulk, both of whom have taken a backseat to Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow in the Avengers movies.

What didn’t I like?

Surtur. Hela is the big bad of this film (no offense, Grandmaster), but there is another major foe that bookends the film, Surtur. Now, I have a couple of things to say about this guy. First, his design looks like some cheap CGI, but at least its better than Dormammu was in Doctor Strange. Second, as major a force this guy is in the comics, you’d think he would have been more important to the film, perhaps something related to Hela, not counting that “fight” they have at the end. Also, Enchantress could have been brought in and that would have made Skurge’s presence make sense.

New powers. As I mentioned earlier, and you no doubt have seen in the trailers for this film, Hela destroys Thor’s hammer. I was under the impression that Thor’s powers came from his hammer, as was he, apparently. Turns out the hammer was just a way to channel his powers, as Odin tells him. Now, without his hammer, he seems to have developed new powers. The question is, will he keep these new powers, or will they be forgotten come the next film? Also, if he had all this power, why is it just now showing? Seems to me there would have been at least a hint of it before conveniently showing right as Hulk is about to smash his head in.

Hulk. Speaking of Hulk, can we get a definitive decision on his intellect? Sometimes it seems like there is a brain up there and then there are times when he seems like a petulant child. Hulk is a gamma-fueled rage monster with immense strength. Imagine a hyperactive child with that? Oh the horror!

Final verdict on Thor: Ragnarok? Well the lighter tone makes a huge difference! The comedic back and forth between the characters makes a much more entertaining picture than watching them all brood and barely interact. Also, Jeff Goldblum’s over the top Grandmaster would only work in this type of film. The bright colors, bad ass action, and excellent story have many thinking this is one of the best Marvel films of all time. Yes, this is good, but I need to see it again before I can rank it. So, yes, I do recommend this very highly. Perhaps even check it out twice!

4 out of 5 stars

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Justice League: Gods and Monsters

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In an alternative history Zod is Superman’s father, Batman is a vampiric Man-Bat, and Wonder Woman is the child of Ares, God of War. When these dark heroes form an alliance, the question everyone asks is will they save the world, or rule it?

What people are saying:

“Another solid entry in the DCU line, Justice League: Gods and Monsters works best as an entrée into what should be a fascinating and highly entertaining series of its own.” 4 stars

“I did not like anything about this film. I’m not a comics book expert but have read DC comics growing up. I viewed this expecting to see the classic justice league or at least a re-boot of the characters. Instead I saw completely different characters I’ve never seen before & didn’t understand why. There was no explanation or mystery that unfolded it was simply confusing & boring because these versions of the classic Batman, super woman, super man just weren’t interesting at all. If your a die hard fan I’m guessing you would like this film if your only familiar with the main story lines for these characters you’ll probably be disappointed, even though the actors seem to do well with what they were given.” 1 star

“This wasn’t as bad as I was lead to believe. I kinda dug the skewed take on the DC trio. Superman (Son of Zod & Lara El), Wonder Woman (New God grand-daughter of Highfather). and Batman (Kirk Langstrom, a vampire created by science) take on a warped William Magnus & his Metal Men. It was pretty damn good.” 3 stars

“Wow! Dark, disturbing alternate universe “superhero” movie that is definitely not for kids. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are all evil, calculating, violent arms of the federal government and not in the Bizarro way but something completely different. The Justice League is a sinister monument in the middle of the city. Eerie. This unholy alliance is tasked with solving a mystery when a number of key scientists are killed in spectacular ways. Not just any scientists but those that would have been Antman, Ironman and Dr. Freeze in the normal universe. I’ve always wondered in the back of my mind what would happen if a true superhero were to live amongst us. Would they want to dominate us? Shepherd us? Both scenarios are disturbing and this movie explores those options in dramatic and sometimes bloody detail. Lex Luthor said it best, “Unassailable power is never to be trusted.” Dark, compelling, violent – highly recommended for those who’d like a different take on superheros.” 5 stars

“I love pretty much all the animated hero shows that matter, and I was riveted for this. Is it good? I dunno, but I LOVED it. Too much blood and violence? I’m a grown man, I can take it. Honestly, the whole “nobody ever dies” idea is a bit of a stretch. When a building is destroyed, I’m going to bet at least one person doesn’t make it out alive. In a time of constant remakes and reboots, this is a refreshing and well-executed original story line set in an alternate universe. Not for the kids, but if this is what WB Animation is up to, I say “more, please.” 5 stars

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Following the Battle of New York, Adrian Toomes and his salvage company are contracted to clean up the city, but their operation is taken over by the Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.), a partnership between Tony Stark and the U.S. government. Enraged at being driven out of business, Toomes persuades his employees to keep the Chitauri technology they have already scavenged and use it to create and sell advanced weapons. Eight years later, Peter Parker is drafted into the Avengers by Stark to help with an internal dispute, but resumes his studies at the Midtown School of Science and Technology when Stark tells him he is not yet ready to become a full Avenger.

Parker quits his school’s academic decathlon team to spend more time focusing on his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man. One night, after preventing criminals from robbing an ATM with their advanced weapons from Toomes, Parker returns to his Queens apartment where his best friend Ned discovers his secret identity. On another night, Parker comes across Toomes’ associates Jackson Brice / Shocker and Herman Schultz selling weapons to local criminal Aaron Davis. Parker nearly drowns intervening, and is rescued by Stark, who is monitoring the Spider-Man suit he gave Parker and warns him against involvement with the dangerous criminals. Toomes accidentally kills Brice with one of their weapons, and Schultz becomes the new Shocker.

Parker and Ned study a weapon left behind by Brice, removing its power core. When a tracking device on Schultz leads to Maryland, Parker rejoins the decathlon team and accompanies them to Washington, D.C. for their national tournament. Ned and Parker disable the tracker Stark implanted in the Spider-Man suit, and unlock its advanced features. Parker tries to stop Toomes from stealing weapons from a D.O.D.C. truck, but is overpowered and trapped inside the truck, causing him to miss the decathlon tournament. When he discovers that the power core is an unstable Chitauri grenade, Parker races to the Washington Monument where the core explodes and traps Ned and their friends in an elevator. Evading local authorities, Parker saves his friends, including his fellow classmate and crush Liz. Returning to New York City, Parker persuades Davis to reveal Toomes’ whereabouts. Aboard the Staten Island Ferry, Parker captures Toomes’ new buyer Mac Gargan, but Toomes escapes and a malfunctioning weapon tears the ferry in half. Stark helps Parker save the passengers before admonishing him for his recklessness and taking away his suit.

Parker returns to his high school life, and eventually asks Liz to go to the homecoming dance with him. On the night of the dance, Parker learns that Liz is Toomes’ daughter. Deducing Parker’s secret identity, Toomes threatens retaliation if he interferes with his plans. During the dance, Parker realizes Toomes is planning to hijack a D.O.D.C. plane transporting weapons from Avengers Tower to the team’s new headquarters. He dons his old homemade Spider-Man suit and races to Toomes’ lair. He is first ambushed by Schultz, but defeats him with the help of Ned. At the lair, Toomes destroys the building’s support beams and leaves Parker to die. Parker is able to escape the rubble and intercepts the plane, steering it to crash on the beach near Coney Island. He and Toomes engage in an open confrontation that ends with Parker saving Toomes’ life from his own unstable equipment, and leaving him for the police along with the plane’s cargo. After her father’s arrest, Liz moves away, and Parker declines an invitation from Stark to join the Avengers full time. Stark returns Parker’s suit, which he puts on at his apartment just as his Aunt May walks in.

In a mid-credits scene, an incarcerated Gargan approaches Toomes in prison. Gargan has heard that Toomes knows Spider-Man’s real identity, but Toomes denies this.

REVIEW:

With all the success Marvel has had with the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), they could not say they truly were a success story until there was a Spider-Man film under their wing. With Sony holding the rights to the character (not to mention the Fantastic Four) hostage, many were wondering if we would ever see the day when Spidey would grace the big screen in the MCU…then we saw Captain America: Civil War. Now, Spider-Man: Homecoming aims to take that character introduction and flesh out a third cinematic version of Peter Parker. Hey, at least this one is age-appropriate, right?

What is this about?

Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark, Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.

What did I like?

Fun. Audiences and critics have been noticing something in superhero films (and TV shows). A lack of fun! Think about how bright and vibrant Superman is and now think about what we were forced to sit through with Man of Steel. Somewhere along the way, our superheroes stopped being beacons of hope, and turned into examples of how to brood. Spider-Man has not been exempt from this curse. Toby Maguire’s version started out pretty good, but couldn’t keep it up. I never cared for Andrew Garfield or his take on the character, so I won’t waste time on him. Tom Holland brings a fresh take to Spider-Man in that we haven’t seen him as a high schooler, at least not an age appropriate high schooler. With that, the fun and innocence that Stan Lee intended for the character is front and center, as are the awkward moments of being a teenager. Again, this is what Stan Lee envision when he first created him, not some attitude having, puffy haired, British string bean who ruins the character of Peter Parker.

We know the story. Look, if you don’t know the origin of Spider-Man by now, either through comics, cartoons, Watchmojo.com, Wikipedia, or whatever, then chances are you either don’t care or just haven’t bothered to learn yourself something. With that said, I join the billions of fans who saw this and noticed the absence of Uncle Ben’s murder. As a matter of fact, it isn’t even mentioned! We are more than aware than Ben gets shot and its Peter’s fault, but in the last 5 Spider-Man movies, we have either seen this happen or been privy to a bevy of flashbacks so that we can relive the scene ad naseum. Thank goodness the 6th time they got it right and didn’t include anything about the murder…though I do hope in future films we get something on what happened. I’m mostly curious as to who they’ll cast as Uncle Ben to pair with Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May

Cap must’ve needed the money. One of the best cameos in the picture is Captain America doing PSAs. While I was laughing when Cap showed up in these videos, I couldn’t help but wonder why he was doing them. Did the government make him? Is he just being a good guy and attempting to help the youth? Just some thoughts that popped in my head. I’m sure that I am just overanalyzing and  these were nothing more than a funny thing to include in the film.

What didn’t I like?

Homage or ripoff? About halfway through the picture, there is a scene where Spider-Man has to use all of his strength to hold two halves of a dissected boat together. As I was sitting there watching him strain, I couldn’t help but recall the train sequence in Spider-Man 2 when Toby Maguire is called on to use all of his strength to stop the train. Many people have noticed this comparison and now I must ask…is this an homage or a ripoff? I see it more as an homage, personally. The scene in question is from what is arguably the best Spider-Man film to date, so why wouldn’t you bring something from that great film into this new version? Also, if it was a ripoff, I think we’d have a seen something involving the subway, I’m sure.

What a shock! Shocker is one of my favorite in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. I can’t tell you why, but I have this affinity for him. Maybe it’s the Texas connection?!? At any rate, I was over the hills with excitement when I heard the announcement he was going to be in this film. Then I saw him and my jaw dropped. This is not Shocker. He doesn’t even really don the costume, save for the sleeves on his jacket. How is it we can get nearly every detail right with superheroes, but for the villains they just seem to wear similar colors to their comic counterparts. I wonder why that is!

A change will do you good. My first introduction to the Vulture was as an elderly gentlemen who was running part of the criminal organizations in NYC. Obviously, there are some differences between that idea and the one we see on the screen. Most importantly, the family man version of the character remained intact. So, why would I not like the change in history? Well, just this week, some promotional photos were released for Deadpool 2, specifically images of the mutant, Domino. I bring this up because she’s quite the curvy wonder in the pics, it is the sudden realization that she is now to be played by an actress of color…complete with afro and some weird face that causes her to look like a dog. What is the reason for this change? No real reason, they just wanted someone of ethnicity to play a character who has plae white skin.

Final verdict on Spider-Man:Homecoming? This is the superhero film we’ve all been clamoring for. It has action, humor, sci-fi, crime, and even a love story. What is there to not like? While Marvel and Sony are sure to fight over who gets credit here, really it is the fans and moviegoers that win. Do  I recommend  this? Emphatically yes! The cons are few and the pros are many. Go check it out!

5 out of 5 stars

 

Batman vs. Robin

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

When Batman finds himself under attack by his own son, Damian (Robin), he at first suspects the hand of Ra’s Al Ghul behind the treachery, but then comes to see that the boy may be controlled by a mysterious and murderous society known as the Court of Owls.

What people are saying:

“More a mash-up of two of the most highly regarded Batman stories in the last 20 years than its title implies it stands alongside the best efforts of Warner Bros. Animated.” 4 1/2 stars

“This could of been the next red hood movie, if they would of stuck to just one story, but instead they shove all these storys all together instead of focusing on batman and the owls. Court of owls /night of the owls was a great stoty and would of been fine on its own, but they just shoved all these other plots in and it just didn’t work. They even took some of the best scenes from the book and cheapened them, like making that intense amazing maze part of the story and turning into a quick drugged dream thing.” 1 star

“The story itself was good, not the best but not the worst I’ve seen. The kid was just annoying at first, but it got better as the story progressed. I do think it could have been a lot better, the storyline they used had more potential but it wasn’t bad. As far as content. Definitely not for kids, I wouldn’t even say 13 and up, i’d say older. Lots of blood, violence, even a straight up massacre. Some of the language and the sexual content was unnecessary so be aware of that if you are looking at this for children. ” 3 stars

“The anticipation of the eventual fight between Batman and Robin is palpable. With all the talented voice actors bringing in realism of the character’s conflicts, it’s hard not to enjoy.” 4 stars

“Not good, this is actually a terrible adaptation of the court of owls comic storyline. The way they reworked it with Damian Wayne was just terrible, and the story line goes out of its way to make batman seem incompetent. It would have been better if they had just straight up done a court of owls animated movie and skipped out the son of batman stuff for two reasons. The first being the aforementioned batman incompetence like batman sending a ten year old boy into the wilderness on his own, stupid, or robin solving the doll maker crime before batman, lame. Then of course the second being that Damien is the most annoyingly pig headed, and truly unsavory robins ever created, plainly put he’s just unlikable and really petulant through the whole film. Spent the hour and twenty minutes on count down waiting for the torture to end.” 1 star

Wonder Woman (2017)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In present day Paris, Diana Prince receives a World War I-era photograph at the Louvre and recalls her childhood. Raised on the island of Themyscira, the land of the Amazons, the child Diana dreams of becoming an Amazonian warrior but her mother Queen Hippolyta forbids it, telling her the story of how Ares the god of war corrupted mankind and killed all the other gods except Zeus. With the last of his strength, Zeus left the Amazons a weapon capable of destroying Ares if he ever returned. Diana nevertheless disobeys her mother and is secretly trained by her aunt Antiope.

As a young woman, Diana rescues pilot Steve Trevor after his plane crashes off the coast of Themyscira. The Amazons engage and kill the German soldiers in pursuit of him, but Antiope dies protecting Diana. Interrogated with the Lasso of Truth, Steve reveals that he is an Allied spy in World War I and has stolen information from a weapons facility in the Ottoman Empire run by German general Erich Ludendorff, whose scientist Doctor Maru is producing a new, deadlier form of mustard gas. Certain that Ares must be responsible for the “war to end all wars,” Diana defies her mother’s orders and leaves Themyscira in search of him with Steve.

In London, Steve delivers Maru’s notes to his superiors at the Imperial War Cabinet, including Sir Patrick Morgan, who is trying to negotiate an armistice with Germany. Steve believes Ludendorff will complete and use the gas regardless of an armistice, and Diana concludes Ludendorff is Ares himself and slaying him will end the war. With Sir Patrick’s blessing, Steve and Diana travel to the front lines to stop Ludendorff, accompanied by Steve’s team: spy Sameer, marksman Charlie, and smuggler Chief. Arriving at the Western Front in Belgium, the group’s progress is halted by enemy trenches, until Diana pushes alone through the German lines, rallying the allied forces behind her to liberate a village from German control. Diana and the team celebrate the freedom of the villagers, and Diana grows close to Steve.

Learning that Ludendorff will attend a gala at a nearby castle, Steve infiltrates the party and is followed by Diana, who intends to kill Ludendorff. Steve stops her to avoid jeopardizing the mission to destroy the chemical stores, and shortly after Ludendorff uses the gas to bomb the nearby village. Diana is devastated that Steve interfered, blaming him for the loss of life. In rage, Diana pursues Ludendorff to a complex where the gas is being loaded into a bomber to attack London. Diana fights and slays Ludendorff, but is stunned when his death does not stop the war. Sir Patrick appears to her, revealing that he is the true Ares; he tells her though he has encouraged them to destroy themselves, humans themselves contain the dark impulse to make war.

As they fight, Ares attempts to convince Diana that humanity does not deserve to be saved, and reveals that she herself is the weapon of Zeus: his last child. As Ares overpowers Diana, Steve hijacks the bomber containing the gas and sacrifices himself to incinerate it at a safe distance. Inspired by Steve’s selflessness and his final words, Diana dedicates herself to defending mankind and summons her power to finally destroy Ares and spare humanity. In London, the team solemnly celebrates the end of the war.

In the present day, Diana writes to Bruce Wayne thanking him for the photograph of her and Steve and reaffirms her mission to keep protecting and guiding mankind

REVIEW:

We’ve had solo films from Green Lantern, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Superman, Batman, etc., but one of the biggest superheroes has been missing from the big screen. Even in the small screen adaptations we don’t get this particular hero. Well, the wait is over, we finally have a solo film for the 3rd member of what was once known as DCs “big 3”. Will Wonder Woman do this character justice, or continue the downward spiral that has been the dark, depressing, DC films?

What is this about?

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when a pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers and her true destiny.

What did I like?

Color. Believe it or not, this is a DC comics film that uses color, rather than just black, gray, and muted variation of what are supposed to be colors. With the exception of Suicide Squad, we haven’t really gotten much in the way of color from these guys. Most of that blame is on Zach Snyder’s head, but it looks like we’re going another direction. Just look at the difference in Wonder Woman’s costume in this film and in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The design is more or less the same, but the red and blue pop more in this one. Then we have the lush landscape of Themyscira, greens, blues, and other actual colors as far as they eye can see. The scenes in this land are almost like a giant F-U to what has been happening in the DCEU.

On your own. Something that I’ve noticed with DC films, both live action and animated, is that Batman pops up in just about all of them. If he doesn’t then there is an Easter egg related to it, such as a Wayne Enterprise tower, truck, etc., or history is retconned so that he can be there. Well, unless he can go back to World War I, that won’t be the case with this film. Wonder Woman is allowed to stand on her own and become a character we can all love (or hate). Yes, there is a connection to Batman/Bruce Wayne, but that is part of the connecting arc DC is trying to do in making (rushing) the cinematic universe they are building.

War. The comparisons to Captain America: The First Avenger cannot be avoided. Major superhero who hasn’t been brought to the big screen because everyone thought they would be too cheesy. Film is set in wartime. Hero is helped by team of military mercenaries. Do we see the pattern here? What interested me, though, about how they did this is the selection of World War I. Not many films are made about WWI for some reason. If nothing else stands out about this film, the period in which it is set surely will.

What didn’t I like?

Scum and villainy. I believe it was last summer, when the hype was stating to pick up about this film, that I was reading an article about Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery and how they would be perfect for the big screen. Admittedly, I don’t know much of her rivals outside of Ares, Cheetah, and Giganta. That said, I have no qualm with Ares as the big bad, though I wonder if a different actor would have been better suited for the god parts. My issue is with Dr. Maru and Erich Ludendorff, neither of which we seemed to get much in the way of development. As it turns out, Ludendorff was a real person (obviously his powers in this film are false). Dr. Maru, though, seems like there is an interesting story there involving what happened to her face, but we got none of that.

Themyscira. You would think with all the money the filmmakers spent in making Themyscira look as great as it did, they would actually spend more than 5-15 minutes on the island. Green Lantern did the same thing. Oa was a sight to behold, but we barely spend anytime there before being whisked away to Earth. For the sake of the plot, though, I understand why not much time was spent on Themyscira, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it!

On the lighter side of things. Can this be? Was that? No way! I do believe there were some jokes in this film and not everyone was brooding! *GASP* You know what I didn’t like about this, though? Diana’s naiveté. Here we have a woman who knows nothing of the outside world. This should be comedic gold in most situations. I wish they wouldn’t have been so serious with most of her situations and given us some laughs before we got to the serious action stuff in the 2nd half of the picture.

Final verdict on Wonder Woman? Well, for an origin story it delivers everything we need to know about this character, including how that picture from Batman v. Superman came to be. With that said, I feel as if we still don’t know much about her. What I mean by that is, at the end of the first Captain America, we knew who Steve Rogers was and felt for him as we went down into the ice. With this, Wonder Woman just seems like a female superhero they are throwing out there to make the feminists happy. That said, I did enjoy this film. Do I recommend it? Yes, very highly! However, if you want a solid origin of the character, check out Wonder Woman, the animated feature from 2009. I believe it was just re-released.

4 out of 5 stars

Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2014, Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Baby Groot are renowned as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign race, has the Guardians protect valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional monster in exchange for Gamora’s estranged sister Nebula, who was caught attempting to steal the batteries. After Rocket steals some for himself, the Sovereign attacks the Guardians’ ship with a fleet of drones. The drones are destroyed by a mysterious figure, but the Guardians are forced to crash-land on a nearby planet. The figure reveals himself as Quill’s father, Ego. He invites Quill, who is accompanied by Gamora and Drax, to his home planet, while Rocket and Groot remain behind to repair the ship and guard Nebula.

Meanwhile, Ayesha hires Yondu Udonta and his crew, who have been exiled from the greater Ravager community for child trafficking, to recapture the Guardians. They capture Rocket, but when Yondu shows reluctance to turn over Quill, his lieutenant Taserface leads a mutiny with help from Nebula. Taserface imprisons Rocket and Yondu aboard Yondu’s ship and executes his loyalists while Nebula leaves to track down and kill Gamora, whom she blames for all the torture inflicted on her by their father, Thanos. While imprisoned, Rocket and Yondu bond. Groot, together with Yondu’s loyalist Kraglin, frees Rocket and Yondu and they destroy the ship and its crew as they escape, though not before Taserface tips off the Sovereign fleet.

Ego explains he is a god-like Celestial, an immortal consciousness that manipulated the matter around it to form the planet with itself at the core. Forming a human guise, he traveled the universe to escape his loneliness and discover a purpose, eventually falling in love with Quill’s mother Meredith. Ego hired Yondu to collect the young Quill after Meredith’s death, but the boy was never delivered and Ego had been searching for his son ever since. He teaches Quill to manipulate their Celestial power. Nebula arrives at Ego’s planet and tries to kill Gamora, but fails and the pair reach an uneasy alliance when they discover caverns filled with skeletal remains. Ego reveals to Quill that in his travels he planted seedlings upon thousands of worlds which can terraform them into new extensions of himself, but they can only be activated by the combined power of two Celestials. To that end, he impregnated countless women and hired Yondu to collect the children; Ego killed them all when they failed to access the Celestial power. Ego forcefully uses Quill to activate the seedlings, which begin to consume every world. Quill fights back after Ego reveals that he deliberately caused Meredith’s death, as his love for her distracted him from his purpose.

Ego’s pet empath, Mantis, grows close to Drax and warns him, Gamora, and Nebula of Ego’s plan just as Rocket, Yondu, Groot, and Kraglin arrive. The reunited Guardians reach Ego’s brain at the planet’s core, and fight the Sovereign’s arriving drones. Rocket makes a bomb out of the stolen batteries that Groot plants on Ego’s brain, while Quill battles Ego with his newfound Celestial powers to allow the other Guardians to escape. The bomb explodes, killing Ego and causing the planet to disintegrate. Yondu sacrifices himself to save Quill, who now realizes Yondu did not deliver him to Ego in order to spare him from the fate of Ego’s other progeny, and that Yondu was Quill’s true “daddy”. Having reconciled with Gamora, Nebula still chooses to set out and attempt to kill Thanos. The Guardians hold a funeral for Yondu, which is attended by dozens of Ravager ships, acknowledging Yondu’s sacrifice and accepting him again as a Ravager.

In a series of mid- and post-credit scenes, Kraglin takes up Yondu’s telekinetic arrow and control fin; Ravager leader Stakar Ogord, inspired by Yondu’s sacrifice, reunites with his ex-teammates; Groot starts growing back to normal size, exhibiting typical teenage behavior in the process; Ayesha creates a new artificial being with whom she plans to destroy the Guardians, naming him Adam; and a group of uninterested Watchers listen to their informant discuss several experiences on Earth.

REVIEW:

Let the summer blockbuster season of 2017 begin! First film out the gate is Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2. Like just about everyone, I still don’t know much about the Guardians. Since the release (and success) of the first film, they have had an increased presence over at Marvel, including an animated series. Will this sequel justify the success they’ve had or are they just a fluke?

What is this about?

Set to the backdrop of ‘Awesome Mixtape #2,’ Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand.

What did I like?

What an Ego. The villain this time out is Ego, the Living Planet, whose origin has been changed slightly so that he is the father of Star-Lord. Now, with a name like Ego, you can just about assume the kind of personality he has to have. Well, who better to get than Kurt Russell, someone who has played a few pompous characters in his day (just watched him a couple of days ago in Sky High). I also must mention the creative things the effects department did to show him as the living planet, such as the face on the planet, talking energy, etc.

Too cute. At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, Groot sacrificed himself to save the team. As the credits are rolling, we see that he is a sapling living in a flower pot (and dancing to the Jackson 5). Well, this film is set shortly after the first one and Groot is a little older. Let’s not be naïve, here. The filmmakers made him that age to sell merchandise. He’s just so cute! That aside, he’s also vicious, as seen on Yondu’s ship, so be warned!

Source material. Speaking of Yondu, this is another character that I’m not too familiar with. I remember looking him up when the first film was released and seeing that giant fin on his head, wondering where it was in the film. The filmmakers must have had some fanboys pester them about said fin because they put it on him this time. I can’t say it is an upgrade, but I will say it is nice to see some adherence to the source material, rather than changing everything to make it more realistic, or whatever excuse studios have nowadays.

What didn’t I like?

Mixtape. A music connoisseur such as myself is sure to appreciate the diversity of the soundtrack, and I really do. However, in comparison to the collection used for the first film, this one falls short. The biggest reason for this is that there isn’t anything to catch the listener’s attention and bring them in. This mix needed something akin to “Hooked on a Feeling”, but doesn’t have it.

All that glitters ain’t gold. Aside from Ego, and a short Ravagers mutiny, the other villain in the film are a race of gold people, who believe themselves to be perfect, known as the Sovereign. I understand the reason they were after the Guardians, and like how they remote controlled their ships but, to be honest, they just became pests after awhile, especially during the climactic battle with Ego inside the planet’s core where they just show up and interfere while the Guardians are trying to defeat a God-like being who wants to terraform the universe in his image.

Why so serious. Unlike some of the other films in the MCU, the Guardians’ films have never been all that serious. Much like the Fantastic Four (are supposed to be), this is a team that enjoys what they do and doesn’t over analyze it or make every mission a political fiasco, etc., etc. That being said, I feel like this film got a little too serious in parts, particularly during the family parts (Star Lord and Ego and Gamora and Nebula). Yes, there is some conflict there, but those scenes were so serious that it felt like I was watching a different movie. Thank goodness both scenes were interrupted by someone crashing in and interrupting their dialoguing.

Final verdict on Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2? Truth be told, this is an entertaining film. It will make you laugh, cry, and maybe even sing. We get perhaps the most interesting Stan Lee cameo to date and a new character is introduced to us, played by Sylvester Stallone. All of the cast members return from the first film, and we may have gained a new guardian in the innocent, lovable Mantis. So, with all that in mind, do I recommend this? Well, it isn’t the surprise hit that its predecessor was, but I think that has more to do with expectations, but it is fun from beginning to end. I highly recommend it for all!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Sky High

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Will Stronghold — the son of two superheroes known as the Commander and Jetstream — is the only kid at Sky High who hasn’t developed superpowers yet, which means he may be relegated to the less-than-thrilling role of a sidekick.

What people are saying:

“With a crisp and snappy visual style and its smartly paced story, Sky High pulls an incredible feat in an age of dumbed-down kids comedies; it’s as down-to-earth as it is super.” 4 stars

“A surprisingly fun and humorous look at superhero tropes by way of a high school designed specifically for the gifted vigilantes’ offspring. Though some of the humor skews a bit too young and many of the movie’s visual effects are dated in the worse way, there’s plenty of wit and pointed comic book skewering to go around — making this one pleasant surprise of a Disney family flick.” 3 stars

“It’s Disney! Written by and for High School freshmen. If you can suspend your adulthood for an hour and a half you will enjoy it. A more entertaining story on a very similar theme is found in the comic “PS 238″ The protagonist is the son of two superheroes without any superpowers (except the knack for survival)…” 3 stars

“Though the film gives some good laughs, cool sequences, a great cinemontography, and a surprisingly original story, Sky High falls flat for me. I forgot the characters, I was often bored, the CG SUCKED, and was left thinking, “Eh.” 3 stars

“Sky High is one of Disney’s best films of this decade so far. I don’t know why a lot of people are comparing it to The Incredibles. It is not like that movie at all. It’s more like a cross between X-Men and Fantastic Four. Everyone had different superpowers. I enjoyed this movie. This movie did show a lot of references to other movies and TV shows based on comic books (like Wonder Woman, Batman, Spider-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). If you are in the mood for a good, family movie, watch Sky High.” 4 stars