Archive for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Category

The Dark Tower

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

PLOT:

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

What people are saying:

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

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

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

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

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

Justice League

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

PLOT:

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

What people are saying:

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

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

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

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

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

Ant-Man and the Wasp

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW:

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

What is this about?

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

What did I like?

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

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

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

What didn’t I like?

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

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

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

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

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

Tomorrowland

Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

From Disney comes two-time Oscar (R) winner Brad Bird’s riveting, mystery adventure “Tomorrowland,” starring Academy Award (R) winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world-and them-forever.

What people are saying:

“It’s important to note that Tomorrowland is not disappointing in the usual way. It’s not another glib, phoned-in piece of franchise mediocrity, but rather a work of evident passion and conviction. What it isn’t is in any way convincing or enchanting.” 2 stars

“An aggressively optimistic script admonishes the lazy and irresolute and urges humanity to end war and save the environment; the proselytizing burdens an already onerous plot.” 2 stars

“Fantastic! I hope this movie inspires more of our younger generation to create and explore. The message was sensational! If more people stopped listening to the depressing, action news network maybe they would begin to use their minds for something greater. I applaud this movie. Shame on those who continue to destroy our world by destroying our heart and minds” 5 stars

“Although i found the movie to be very complicated to follow plot wise and story wise especially for a disney movie, the movie itself was quite thrilling to watch due to the beautiful scenery, the good acting, and the philosophical message that it holds in the end of the movie” 4 stars

“The first 35 to 45 minutes was pretty darn good, and would’ve been great if done in half the screen time. Sadly, it quickly becomes mind-numbingly apparent that the reason for the loooooong opening stretch was because they were trying to stretch all the way to the ending. Yep, no story in the middle on this one. (And very few characters to hang it all on.) Worse, the ending is a formulaic snoozefest, complete with evil genius monologue followed swiftly by butt-kicking of said evil genius. If your constitution for vomit inducing endings isn’t ironclad, then make sure you have a bucket handy. Bright spots: Clooney, Laurie, and Robertson work wonders with the script, turning in three fine performances, but it’s Raffey Cassidy who steals the show—an utter joy to watch every second she’s on the screen. (500 extra sadness points for the actors bring their A-game to a script in search of a story. 1,000 extra-extra sadness points to whoever thought substituting some heart-string pulling at the end would make up for everything.)” 1 star

Solo: A Star Wars Story

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW:

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

What is this about?

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

What did I like?

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

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

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

What didn’t I like?

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

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

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

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

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

Fullmetal Alchemist

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the country of Ametris, Edward Elric and his younger brother Alphonse live in the rural town of Resembool with their mother Trisha while self-learning alchemy at a young age. When the brothers commit the taboo act of Human Transmutation to resurrect Trisha after she dies of illness, it backfires and they suffer the consequences via the Law of Equivalent Exchange: Edward loses his left leg, while Alphonse is dragged into the Gate of Truth. Edward then sacrifices his right arm to save his brother’s soul and bind it to a suit of armor via a blood seal, later replacing his missing limbs with “automail” prosthetics. Edward later receives an invitation by Colonel Roy Mustang to join the military so he can research a means of restoring Alphonse’s body. After becoming a State Alchemist with the title “Fullmetal Alchemist”, accompanied by their childhood friend and Automail mechanic Winry Rockwell, Edward begins his quest with Alphonse to find the legendary philosopher’s stone which could repair their bodies.

Years later, Edward and Alphonse confront a cultist named Father Cornello, whom they believe is using a philosopher’s stone to recruit the people of Liore. As Mustang arrives to personally handle the situation, Edward exposes Cornello while the stone is revealed to be a fake. After reaching East City and spending the night at the home of Major Maes Hughes and his pregnant wife, the brothers are provided with lodging when Major General Hakuro introduces them to Shou Tucker, a bio-alchemy authority who obtained his State Alchemist credentials by creating a talking chimera. As the brothers become fast friends with the man’s young daughter Nina and their dog Alexander, Tucker suggests Edward to find Dr. Tim Marcoh as he created a philosopher’s stone prior to going into hiding. Alphonse remains behind to be examined by Tucker, who causes Alphonse to question his existence, while Edward and Winry head to Marcoh’s last known whereabouts.

Though Marcoh was murdered by Cornello’s benefactor Lust as he and Winry find him, Edward acquires the man’s notes and asks Hughes to decipher them while unknowingly alienating Alphonse to keep him safe. Hughes later makes a horrific discovery from his investigation and ends up being killed by Lust’s associate Envy, who assumes Mustang’s form to frame the colonel for the murder. Edward manages to escape being interrogated with help from Mustang’s aide Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye, using what he could deduce from the notes to investigate the clandestine Fifth Laboratory. At the same time, after revealing the new talking chimera that he created from Nina and Alexander, Tucker forces Alphonse and Winry to accompany him to the Fifth Laboratory, where they find Edward as he verbally realizes that the Philosopher’s Stone is created from humans.

Tucker confirms Edward’s realization, justifying their respective actions of selfishly manipulating life before Lust kills him while revealing herself as a homunculus. After Lust cryptically hints of her group’s reach in the government and an upcoming event that Edward has a vital role in, Hakuro reveals the Mannequin Soldier homunculi and gets killed when he prematurely activates them. Mustang has Riza and their men keep the Mannequin Soldiers from flooding out of the laboratory while he confronts Lust and Envy, killing the former while ripping her philosopher’s stone core from her body. While Mustang gives Edward the stone so he can restore Alphonse, Edward instead uses it to appear before his brother’s body and promises to find another way to restore him. Edward then returns to his reality to reaffirm Alphonse’s existence to him. Sometime after, as Gluttony mourns Lust’s death, Envy is revealed to have survived Mustang’s attack but has been diminished to its true parasitic form as a result.

REVIEW:

I can imagine that if you are reading this you have at least some knowledge of the adventures of the Elric Brothers. if you aren’t familiar with these boys, well, i can tell you that this film doesn’t necessarily need prior knowledge going in, unlike the other Fullmetal Alchemist (animated) films did. With this being the first foray into live-action, let us delve into what works and what didn’t with Fullmetal Alchemist, shall we?

What is this about?

The plot takes place at the beginning of the 20th century, in a reality where alchemy is real, extremely developed and respected. The plot features brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric who, after attempting the forbidden technique of human transmutation, suffer the consequences. Alphonse loses his entire body while Edward loses his left leg. Edward then sacrifices his right arm to save his brother’s soul by attaching it to a metal suit of armor. Edward is then given mechanical prosthetics known as “automail” in place of his missing arm and leg. Upon acceptance into the State Alchemists, he is given the nickname “Fullmetal Alchemist”, all while searching with Alphonse for the legendary philosopher’s stone, that will repair their bodies.

What did I like?

Bring me to life. As someone who watched both iterations of the anime, it was a real treat to see that the filmmakers didn’t try to change anything to the general audience, but rather stayed as close as possible to the source material. Perhaps this is a Japanese thing, because other films like this have employed similar tactics, unlike here in the US where filmmakers feel they have to change so much of a character and/or story just to make it “grounded”. Some reviews I have read called this a living cartoon, as if that is a bad thing!

Familiarity. Not only does this feel like the anime brought to real life, but the costume and character design are something to take note of. For instance, Ed’s iconic red coat is unmistakably there. Al’s armor, Lust’s nails, Gluttony’s rotund physique, the military’s uniforms’ etc. Anyone who has watched even 5 minutes of the anime will be able to recognize what this is, and that’s a major plus in my book, especially for a film that is probably not going to reach a mainstream audience very easily.

Action. Two things always stood out in the anime, especially the first iteration, comedy and action. Now, i would have liked for there to have been more comedic scenes, the action is pretty nice. The feel of Ed, Al, and even Col. Mustang doing their alchemy whilst fighting off hundreds of mindless mannequins is def a climactic fight to be seen. There are other places where the action scenes are done nicely, as well.

What didn’t I like?

Asian-washing. Here in America, there is a long history of whitewashing. I think the most recent instance came with Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell. Why do i bring this up? Well, every actor in this film is Asian, much like every actor in the Harry Potter films is British. This isn’t a problem, per se, but when i look at the manga and anime versions of these characters, i don’t see Asians (except maybe some mix in Mustang’s genealogy). Ed and Winry are supposed to be blonde, almost to the point of being the perfect specimens for Hitler’s “supreme race”. Most everyone else in the cast is your usual dark-haired variety. I may just being too picky, but as much as they brought this straight from animation cells to the big screen, i would have liked to have seen more accurate casting, but i respect that they went with an all-Asian cast.

Cliff notes. This seems to be more in line with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood than the original anime, though there are a few times it switches back and forth. What i found interesting is how they tried to fit some 6 seasons, give or take, into a 2 hr movie. What we ended up with is i think 3 or 4 major storylines and they were cliff notes versions of those, meaning we got the main parts, but characters, subplots, etc, were taken out for time purposes. I personally think the Shou Tucker/Nina saga could have been given more time, also more time should have been given to Maj. Hughes. These are 2 storylines that are a gut punch to viewers in the anime, but not so much in live action. Then again, i felt the same way when i watched them in Brotherhood, as opposed to the original, so it may have something to do with the source material they used. Either way, i feel as if too much was crammed in to this film for its own good.

Ouorboros. The homunculi have been a major part of FMA lore since the beginning. However, I didn’t feel the actress cast as Lust was a good choice. I wasn’t lusting after her! They needed to enhance her curves somehow to really make that character what she needed to be, looks-wise. Don’t get me wrong, the woman is gorgeous, but when i think of Lust, i see more of a Jessica Rabbit type, rather than Victoria’s Secret model. The other homunculi, we only get Envy and Gluttony for this one, are acceptable, though i wish we would have had a chance to see more than just a tease of Gluttony’s true self and not even a trace of the annoyance that is Envy.

Final verdict on Fullmetal Alchemist? As i stated in the opening, i don’t think many non-FMA fans are going to be interested in this, especially with is being made overseas (the threat of subtitles scares Americans!) That said, it is obvious this was made for the fans…the people that will actually enjoy it. Yes, there are plenty of flaws with this film, from casting, to over reliance on CG, to blah, blah, blah. However, if you put that aside, turn your brain off and just sit back and watch, one can enjoy the pleasure that the filmmakers put into making this, and it is sure to increase your enjoyment…then you can bitch about all the things that are wrong. Also, in the English dubbed version we get the original voices of Ed and Winry, so that’s a bonus! Do i recommend this? For fans of the series, yes, but to the casual or non-fan, meh…you probably won’t appreciate it as much as the rest of us.

3 1/4 out of 5 stars

Avengers: Infinity War

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Having acquired the Power Stone from the planet Xandar, Thanos and his lieutenants—Ebony Maw, Cull Obsidian, Proxima Midnight, and Corvus Glaive—intercept the spaceship carrying the survivors of Asgard’s destruction. As they extract the Space Stone from the Tesseract, Thanos subdues Thor, overpowers Hulk, and kills Loki. Heimdall sends Hulk to Earth using the Bifröst before being killed. Thanos departs with his lieutenants and obliterates the spaceship.

Hulk crash-lands at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City, reverting to Bruce Banner. He warns Stephen Strange and Wong about Thanos’ plan to kill half of all life in the universe; in response, Strange recruits Tony Stark. Maw and Obsidian arrive to retrieve the Time Stone from Strange, drawing the attention of Peter Parker. Maw captures Strange, but fails to take the Time Stone due to an enchantment. Stark and Parker pursue Maw’s spaceship, Banner contacts Steve Rogers, and Wong stays behind to guard the Sanctum.

In Scotland, Midnight and Glaive ambush Wanda Maximoff and Vision in order to retrieve the Mind Stone in Vision’s forehead. Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson rescue them and take shelter with James Rhodes and Banner at the Avengers Compound. Vision offers to sacrifice himself by having Maximoff destroy the Mind Stone to keep Thanos from retrieving it. Rogers suggests they travel to Wakanda, which he believes has the resources to remove the stone without destroying Vision.

The Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress call from the Asgardian ship and rescue Thor, who surmises Thanos seeks the Reality Stone, which is in the possession of the Collector on Knowhere. Rocket and Groot accompany Thor to Nidavellir, where they and Eitri create an enchanted battle-axe capable of killing Thanos. On Knowhere, Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, and Mantis find Thanos with the Reality Stone already in his possession. Thanos kidnaps Gamora, his adoptive daughter, who reveals the location of the Soul Stone to save her captive adoptive sister Nebula from torture. Thanos and Gamora travel to Vormir, where Red Skull, keeper of the Soul Stone, informs him the stone can only be retrieved by sacrificing someone he loves. Thanos reluctantly kills Gamora, earning the Stone.

Nebula escapes captivity and asks the remaining Guardians to meet her on Thanos’ destroyed homeworld, Titan. Stark and Parker kill Maw and rescue Strange. Landing on Titan, they meet Quill, Drax, and Mantis. The group forms a plan to remove Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet after Strange uses the Time Stone to view millions of possible futures, seeing only one in which Thanos loses. Thanos arrives, justifying his plans as necessary to ensure the survival of a universe threatened by overpopulation. The group subdues him until Nebula deduces that Thanos has killed Gamora. Enraged, Quill retaliates, allowing Thanos to break the group’s hold and overpower them. After Stark is seriously wounded by Thanos, Strange surrenders the Time Stone in exchange for Thanos sparing Stark. Thanos departs for Earth.

In Wakanda, Rogers reunites with Bucky Barnes before Thanos’ army invades. The Avengers, alongside T’Challa and the Wakandan forces, mount a defense while Shuri works to extract the Mind Stone from Vision. Banner, unable to transform into the Hulk, fights in Stark’s Hulkbuster armor. Thor, Rocket, and Groot arrive to reinforce the Avengers; Midnight, Obsidian, and Glaive are killed and their army is routed. Thanos arrives and despite Maximoff’s attempt to destroy the Mind Stone, removes it from Vision, killing him.

Thor severely wounds Thanos, but Thanos activates the completed Infinity Gauntlet and teleports away. Half of all life across the universe disintegrates, including Barnes, T’Challa, Groot, Maximoff, Wilson, Mantis, Drax, Quill, Strange, and Parker. Stark and Nebula remain on Titan while Banner, M’Baku, Okoye, Rhodes, Rocket, Rogers, Romanoff, and Thor are left on the Wakandan battlefield. Meanwhile, Thanos recovers on another planet.

In a post-credits scene, Nick Fury transmits a signal as he, Maria Hill, and others disintegrate. The transmitter displays a star insignia on a red-and-blue background

REVIEW:

The moment has come! The big payoff! The reason we have sat through seemingly endless Marvel Cinematic Universe films, though they have all been enjoyable to varying degrees. 10 years in the making, complete with developing an entire universe, setting up some high stakes, and teasing us with the big bad, Avengers: Infinity War has arrived! Will it be the payoff all of us comic nerds, as well as the general public have been expecting?

What is this about?

As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

What did I like?

Spread the wealth. From the moment this film was announced, it was clear that the cast was going to be huge. What we didn’t know was how the balance of screentime would play out. Would we get a heavy dose of Iron Man and Captain America, while Hulk and Dr. Strange are relegated to what amounts to glorified cameos? I can assure you that is not the case. Every character that we have been introduced to in the MCU to this point, with the exception of Hawkeye, Ant-Man (who has his own sequel coming later this summer, which takes place before this film, apparently), and a couple of others who i can’t think of at the moment, is included in this film. While not all time on screen is equal, each character is allowed to show their strengths and why we have grown to care about them over this time.

Mad Titan. Yesterday, I saw Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2 and, while he was good as that character, he feels more at home as Thanos. That’s not to say Brolin can’t play a cyborg mutant from the future, or that he should always seek out roles where he is a delusional psychopath with delusions of grandeur who has a strange misconception of what kind of balance the universe needs. Rather, he just seemed to have more fun as Thanos. I think he even said so himself. I can’t blame him. One the one hand, he could be a really strong time traveling cyborg who has to listen to Deadpool all day or be a universal titan that is nigh unstoppable. The latter seems to be the better option. As far as his plot is concerned, i think this is one of Marvel’s stronger villains. I won’t spoil it for you, but he does lay out and execute his plans with precision, rather than dawdle and monologue the way some earlier MCU villains have done (some in his employ).

Impact. The impact of the MCU has been felt ever since the first Avengers was released and other studios started taking notice of universe building. Now, if you notice there are many duplicators and imitators. DC has come the closest to recreating the formula, but something just isn’t right with them. When all is said and done with this film, though, the way it ends is sure to make a lasting impact on fans and probably moreso on those that aren’t fans. I can’t go into much detail about it without dabbling into spoiler territory, but i can say that something happens that will send shock waves through the audience, as it is something no one saw coming.

What didn’t I like?

Short end of the stick. Earlier, i mentioned the enormous cast and how not everyone was given equal screentime. For some reason *COUGH* ego*COUGH*, Iron Man gets the majority of the screentime. Meanwhile characters such as Bucky (Winter Soldier), Black Widow, Nebula, etc. have maybe 5 min on screen. In Nebula’s defense, she was a prisoner being tortured by Thanos for most of her time. This brings me to Black Panther. He, and the nation of Wakanda, play an important role later in the film, but that is all we get. Some have speculated that since this was filmed before the release of Black Panther, the studio had no idea of the impact that film would have and thus didn’t give T’Challa much to do in this film. There is an argument to made there, but my point is many characters, both major and minor didn’t receive as much time as they could have because of the amount of characters in this film. I’m not saying there were too many, just that, and I’m going to sound like Thanos here, ironically, more balance needs to be brought.

Offspring. Unless you are a fan of the comics, then you probably have no idea who Thanos’ “children” were. Myself, not being up to date on Thanos’ history, didn’t know who they were, either. Apparently, they are, much like Nebula and Gamora, the last children from worlds Thanos has conquered and destroyed who now serve him. That little bit of history doesn’t mean much, other than explain why they are fighting so hard for this big purple guy. They view him as their father and will do anything  for him. The way they seem to be portrayed in the film is equivalent to Stormtroopers, mindless clones who only serve one purpose.

Ground support. Granted, there isn’t much they could do and i just went on about too many characters, but i can’t help but think that the Defenders (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones), the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , along with anyone else that could help out with this (Inhumans, Deathlok, etc.) The world is in danger! I find it hard to believe that these heroes/anti-heroes would just sit idly by, especially Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. (note…i have not been watching this season). Real talk…the only reason none of these guys are making an appearance is because Marvel is desperately wanting to keep the MCU away from the Netflix universe. Don’t ask me why. It makes no sense!

Spoiler alert. This isn’t a complaint against the film, but rather internet culture. As you know, i am nearly a month late getting to see this. Life/work kept me away from the theater. In this day and age, spoilers are very hard to avoid, especially when you are in a Facebook group for comic book and movie nerds. However, i believe it was the Sunday after the film’s release that i was checking out the Venom trailer and had the film spoiled for me. How was it spoiled? Well, right as the trailer is about to end, some @#%$!^ inserted a 10 second clip of himself telling the world what happened. I ask you…who does that?!?

Final thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War? Man, what a ride! The emotional roller coaster this film takes you on from the opening beat down of the Asgardians, to the triumphant return of Steve Rogers (that entrance was…wow!), all the way to the events that happen in the second half of the film are sure to keep one on the edge of their seat. There are some things that could be cut as well as some scenes that probably should not have been cut. All in all, though, i had a great time watching this and can’t wait for the next one. Do i recommend it? Yes, very highly!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars