Archive for the Superhero Films Category

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

 

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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

Suicide Squad

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the aftermath of Superman’s death, intelligence officer Amanda Waller assembles Task Force X, a team of dangerous criminals imprisoned at Belle Reve Prison consisting of elite hitman Deadshot, former psychiatrist Harley Quinn, pyrokinetic ex-gangster El Diablo, opportunistic thief Captain Boomerang, genetic mutation Killer Croc, and specialized assassin Slipknot. They are placed under command of Colonel Rick Flag to be used as disposable assets in high-risk missions for the United States government. Each member has a nano bomb implanted in their neck, designed to detonate should any member rebel or try to escape.

One of Waller’s intended recruits is Flag’s girlfriend Dr. June Moone, an archaeologist possessed by a witch-goddess known as the “Enchantress”. Enchantress quickly turns on Waller, deciding to eradicate humankind with a mystical weapon for imprisoning her. She besieges Midway City by transforming its populace into a horde of monsters, and summons her brother Incubus to assist her. Waller then deploys the squad to extract a high-profile mark from Midway, which is reported to be under a terrorist attack.

Harley’s homicidal lover, the Joker, finds out about her predicament and tortures Belle Reve Security Officer Griggs into leading him to the facility where the nano bombs are made. There, he blackmails Dr. Van Criss into disabling Harley’s bomb. On approach, the squad’s helicopter is shot down, forcing them to proceed on foot to their target. Boomerang inaccurately convinces Slipknot that the bombs are a ruse to keep them in check; Slipknot attempts to escape and Flag kills him via his nano bomb, while the squad is attacked by Enchantress’ minions. They eventually manage to fight their way through to a safe room, where they learn that their mark is Waller herself, who is attempting to cover up her involvement in Enchantress’ siege.

The squad escorts Waller to a rooftop for extraction, but the arriving helicopter has been hijacked by the Joker and his men, who open fire on the squad while Harley climbs aboard upon Dr. Van Criss disarming the bomb. However, Waller’s men shoot down the helicopter, and Harley falls out while the Joker is presumed dead, after which Harley rejoins the squad. Alerted to Waller’s whereabouts, Enchantress’ minions arrive and kidnap her. Deadshot finds Waller’s confidential files and learns the truth about Enchantress. Flag is then forced to confess the truth, causing the squad members to abandon him. With Waller compromised, Flag relieves the squad of the mission, but chooses to continue. Realizing they have an opportunity to prove themselves, they soon rejoin him and locate Enchantress at a partially-flooded subway station. Killer Croc and a group of Navy SEALs, led by Lieutenant GQ Edwards, go underwater to plant a bomb underneath Incubus. El Diablo embraces his abilities and manages to distract Incubus long enough for the bomb to detonate underneath, killing them both as well as Edwards.

The remaining squad members battle Enchantress together, but are ultimately defeated. Enchantress offers to fulfill their deepest desires in exchange for their allegiance, and Harley feigns interest in order to get close enough to cut out Enchantress’ heart. Killer Croc then throws explosives into Enchantress’ weapon and Deadshot shoots them, destroying the device. Flag takes Enchantress’ heart and crushes it, finally freeing June from the curse. Waller, still alive, emerges, and the squad members are returned to Belle Reve with ten years off their sentences. All but Captain Boomerang are allowed special privileges. The Joker, alive and unscathed, breaks into the penitentiary and rescues Harley. In a mid-credits scene, Waller meets with Bruce Wayne, who agrees to protect her from the backlash against her role in Enchantress’ rampage in exchange for access to the government’s files on the expanding metahuman community.

REVIEW:

With all the superhero movies out there today, shouldn’t we start having some that put the spotlight on the supervillains? That is what the idea behind Suicide Squad is, I believe. No matter what side of the fence you are on regarding this film, you can’t deny that it brought some new characters to the big screen. Regardless of that fact, though, one must wonder if this worth the time to watch or would it be better to just find clips on Youtube.

What is this about?

In this thrill-packed visit to the dark side of the DC Comics universe, a covert government organization drafts a team of jailed supervillains to carry out black ops missions in return for clemency.

What did I like?

Harley. A lot of people don’t know or don’t realize that Harley is actually a pretty young character. She was created originally for Batman: The Animated Series and gained so much popularity that she was written into the actual comics. Now you see her almost as much as you see major Batman adversaries such as Joker, Penguin, Riddler, etc. When I saw that Margot Robbie was set to play her and saw her costume, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. At least we got the easter egg with her in the jester outfit, though. Also, Robbie is doing her best to keep the Jersey accent that Harley is known for, and I can appreciate that. Now, the chemical bath thing, I’m not so sure about, but I can let that slide.

No longer in the Arrowverse. I think it was in season 1 or 2 of Arrow that audiences were given a fairly decent take on Floyd Lawton, otherwise known as Deadshot. Just as we were starting to get used to the guy, they kill him! Turns out that was so they could have him for this film. Truth be told, I like Will Smith’s version better, as a person. As the character, I would go with the guy from the tv show. Still, Smith stepped out of his comfort zone a bit and played a villain, and he deserves kudos for that (and not dragging his no-talent son into this with him).

Amanda Waller. This is the second time Amanda Waller has been portrayed on the big-screen. Third if you count that chick that play her on Arrow. In Green Lantern, she was played by Angela Bassett, but I didn’t get the villainous vibe from her there. In this film, Viola Davis plays her and it very much feels like she would shoot you in the face as well as shake your hand. The duplicitous nature of this character is what makes her so interesting and I am very glad they really played it up in this film. Hopefully we’ll get more of her in future DC films.

What didn’t I like?

Killer Croc. I’m not the biggest fan of Killer Croc. The only time his character has really impressed me is in the first Arkham Asylum game where he chases you through the sewers. I know its just a game, but that was some terrifying stuff when I went through it the first time. The main reason I don’t like this Croc has to do with his design. I’ve always preferred him to be more of a giant reptile type creature, rather a normal size dude with bad skin. They could’ve at least done something about making him more of a threat height wise.

Cholo. The whole film has this L.A. gangster vibe that I wasn’t feeling. A couple of characters can fit that mold, such as El Diablo, but everyone didn’t need to be tatted up throwing around gang signs and whatnot. The Joker is the worst culprit! I know this is Jared Leto’s interpretation of the Joker. More power to him! The whole tatted up, slicked back hair, and the silver grill…nuh uh! These things are not the Joker! That’s some cholo mess right there!

Just put the mask on! Once again we have a case of a major star cast as a character who wears a mask 99% of the time, but refuses to wear it except for a couple of scenes. Smith’s excuse in the film is that “people die when I wear it.” This is coming from an assassin! WTF?!? Put the damn mask on and be Deadshot, or find another role! I’m so tired of these diva actors who are “too good” to wear a mask because they think we won’t see their face!

Final thought on Suicide Squad? I didn’t expect to like this, to be honest with you. I had heard bad things when it was released this summer and, coupled with my busy schedule, just didn’t bother going to see it back then. Finally getting a chance to watch it tonight and I have to say that I enjoyed myself. If those reshoots they did were to add some action and comedy in, then I’m all for it. Had this film been another ultra-serious, brooding, dark film like everything else DC has put out, im likely to have jumped off a bridge! With that said, do I recommend this? Believe it or not, yes I do. This isn’t a cinematic masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it worth a watch.

4 out of 5 stars

X-Men: Apocalypse

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

En Sabah Nur, a powerful mutant believed to be the first of his kind, rules ancient Egypt until he is betrayed by his worshippers, who entomb him alive. His four lieutenants die preserving him. Awakening in 1983, he believes humanity has lost its way without his presence. Aiming to destroy and remake the world, he recruits Cairo pickpocket Ororo Munroe, who can control the weather, and upgrades her power.

In East Berlin, shape-shifting mutant Raven investigates an underground fight club and discovers mutant champion Angel, who possesses a pair of large feathered wings on his back, and Kurt Wagner, who can teleport. Raven rescues Kurt and employs the services of black marketeer Caliban to transport him to America. En Sabah Nur recruits Caliban’s enforcer, Psylocke, who leads him to Angel. En Sabah Nur enhances both their powers, transforming Angel’s wings into metal.

Alex Summers discovers that his younger brother Scott is manifesting a mutation for shooting optic beams. Alex takes Scott to Professor Charles Xavier’s educational institute in Westchester County, New York, hoping that Xavier and Hank McCoy will teach him to control his abilities. Scott meets the telepathic and telekinetic Jean Grey, and the two develop an attraction. Raven brings Kurt to the institute. En Sabah Nur’s powers cause disturbances around the world, leading Xavier and Alex to consult with CIA agent Moira MacTaggert, who has been researching the legend of Nur.

In Communist Poland, the metal-controlling mutant Erik Lehnsherr lives with his wife and their young daughter, Nina. He uses his powers to save a coworker, prompting the militia to capture him. When they murder Erik’s family, he retaliates by executing them. En Sabah Nur later approaches the devastated Erik and takes him to Auschwitz, where Erik’s power first manifested. Erik destroys the camp and joins him.

En Sabah Nur remotely accesses Cerebro, a brainwave-amplifying device Xavier uses to locate mutants. Through it, he forces the telepathic Xavier to make the global superpowers launch their entire nuclear arsenals into space to prevent interference with En Sabah Nur’s plan. He and his new lieutenants arrive at the mansion and kidnap Xavier. Attempting to stop them, Alex accidentally causes an explosion that destroys the mansion. Peter Maximoff, having learned that he is Erik’s son and hoping that Xavier can help to find him, arrives just in time; he uses his super-speed to evacuate the students before the explosion destroys the building, but Alex is presumed dead. Colonel William Stryker’s forces subsequently capture Hank, Raven, Peter, and Moira, and take them to a military facility for interrogation. Scott, Jean and Kurt follow covertly, and liberate their comrades using Stryker’s mind-controlled and brainwashed experiment Weapon X, whose memories Jean partially restores.

At En Sabah Nur’s behest, Erik uses his powers to control the Earth’s magnetic poles, causing death and destruction across the planet. En Sabah Nur plans to transfer his consciousness into Xavier’s body, and use Xavier’s power to enslave every person on earth. Xavier secretly sends a telepathic distress call to Jean, and the others travel to Cairo to battle Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur) and his horsemen. They rescue Xavier, but he loses his hair as the process nears completion. Angel is defeated and incapacitated in the battle. Erik and Ororo are persuaded to turn on En Sabah Nur and, with the help of Scott, they keep him occupied physically while Xavier fights him telepathically in the astral plane. Finally, Xavier encourages Jean to unleash the full extent of her powers, incinerating En Sabah Nur, killing him for good. In the ensuing chaos, Psylocke flees.

Xavier and Moira rekindle their relationship. Erik and Jean help reconstruct the school, but Erik refuses Xavier’s offer to stay and help teach. Peter decides not to tell Erik yet that he is Erik’s son. Hank and Raven train new X-Men recruits Scott, Jean, Ororo, Kurt and Peter.

In a post-credits scene, men in suits visit the Weapon X facility to retrieve data on Stryker’s mutant research, including an X-ray and a blood sample marked “Weapon X”, on behalf of the Essex Corporation.

REVIEW:

Bryan Singer is the man who brought the X-Men to the big screen way back in 2000 and many give him credit for jump starting the superhero movie boom (though I’m sure Blade has a solid case). Now that he’s back, expectations are high for X-Men: Apocalypse. Does this film live up to those lofty expectations? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

Bearing the ominous moniker of Apocalypse, a legendary mutant comes to life after thousands of years and resolves to impose an oppressive new world order. With humanity’s fate at stake, the X-Men team prepares for an all-or-nothing showdown.

What did I like?

80s. As a child of the 80s, of course I’m going to be a little partial to films that are set in that era. The fashions, the music, even a marquee featuring Return of the Jedi and characters talking about Empire Strikes Back (with a slight jab at X-Men: The Last Stand). This could have very well been set in modern day, but I don’t it would have worked as well. Same goes for if it was set in the near future.

Be gentle, it’s my first time. We’ve seen Professor X, Magneto, Beast, Mystique, etc. on-screen plenty of times, but this is the first time for the likes of Psylocke, Archangel, Apocalypse, etc. There are literally hundreds of X-Men, we don’t need to keep seeing the same handful. Now, its up for debate about whether these characters were any good, but hey, give them time and we’ll see what they can do.

Foreshadowing. There is a scene where Professor Xavier is fighting Apocalypse on the astral plane and he calls in Jean Grey, a telekinetic in her own right, for reinforcements. When she engages in the battle we are treated to her full power and the energy around her is shaped like a bird…a phoenix, it would see. If this is foreshadowing for a future film based on the Dark Phoenix saga, I’m all for it (hopefully they’ll do it right, this time). If not, then it was just a nice visual easter egg.

What didn’t I like?

Loss of power. My first introduction to Apocalypse was in the 90s X-Men animated series, where he was portrayed as a true being of unspeakable power. Since then, from what I’ve read in the comics, he’s only gotten more powerful. While he does have a fair amount of power, I never felt like he was nigh unstoppable. Basically, he was just a step above Magneto. This is a guy that was supposedly there at the very beginning and his power theoretically grows every year, so why does he feel so unintimidating? Maybe it is the Ivan Ooze look they gave him?

Phoning it in. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the way Mystique has been portrayed on film. Don’t get me wrong, a half naked Rebecca Romijn or Jennifer Lawrence is perfectly fine, but the paint and scales, not so much. With Lawrence, she just looks like she’s wearing blue grease paint and doesn’t seem comfortable in the role. Also, it seems as if the bigger her star has become, the less interested she has been in playing this role. Many other critics and reviewers have said it, but she looks like she is just in this for the paycheck and to honor her contract. There is no enthusiasm or life in her performance. If we get another film with this universe, she either needs to step it up or the directors need to find someone else who gives a damn!

Too soon? I know we’re like 9 movies into the X-Men franchise, but it was recently rebooted with X-Men: First Class. This brings me to question whether it is too soon to bring in a major foe such as Apocalypse in, at least without more of a buildup. The average movie goer knows little to nothing about Apocalypse, and that’s if they took a few minutes to read some Wikipedia articles on him. I don’t know. I guess part of me is just wishes they would have gone with another adversary like the Hellfire Club or the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants while the seeds were planted for a big Apocalypse entrance. Instead we get a story involving a villain that we have no connection to, other than a quick backstory at the beginning of the film.

Final verdict on X-Men: Apocalypse? Well, it gave us an X-Men story that wasn’t reliant on Wolverine, so there is that. The new versions of Jean, Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, etc. aren’t given anything to really endear themselves to the audience or make us forget Halle Berry, Famke Jensen, James Marsden, etc. The action is engaging and the effects are what you have come to expect from this franchise. So, do I recommend it? Yes, but this is not the best film in the franchise, so keep that in mind. Still, it is worth watching once or twice, so there you go.

4 out of 5 stars