Archive for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Category

Sharknado 5: Global Swarming

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The pop culture phenomenon SHARKNADO blows into town this summer… and this time, the shark-infested storms pick up wind as the world braces for the inevitable – a global shark takeover. Will our chainsaw-wielding hero Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) and partner in crime April Wexler (Tara Reid) save the world from this jaw snapping-nado…again?

What people are saying:

“The basic premise has remained resolutely the same: scenes of C-grade actors getting chomped to bits by D-grade CGI sharks mixed together with enough jokey references to other, generally better movies to allow film buffs to distract themselves.” 1 1/2 stars

“Somehow, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming pulls the franchise back from the brink and returns it to what it’s supposed to be: fun to watch.” 4 stars

“Long time Sharknado fan. Give to Ian for committing to his character. But each one gets worse than the last. Robot April is beyond silly, right wing leaning comments, the utter lack of chemistry between the family members, and cringe worthy one liners. One saving grace are the landmarks becoming weapons. At least that was well done. Loved Sharknado 1-2. Somebody should’ve suggested stopping after Sharknado 3-4.” 1 1/2 stars

“A welcome surprise after the previous 2; It manages to be much better paced, and, similarly to the second one, it embraces total constant absurdity and manages to be one of the more entertaining of the series.” 3 stars

“This movie continues further into be so horrible, ridiculous, and stupid that is entertaining, enjoyable, creative, and glorious. Not the best, but great. Sharknado was originally a cheesy shark movie with a tornado, but this franchise has gone berserk. All hell breaks lose in this movie, but I love how this ends and cant wait for Sharknado 6, this movie honestly seems like a set up for sharknado the final chapter or something. This movie was hilarious and great with all it’s bad movie elements, but it is obvious they acknowledge that and go for it. I still like the story somewhat and the characters even though it is mostly ridiculous.” 3 stars

Advertisements

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Thrust into an all-new adventure, a down-on-his luck Captain Jack Sparrow finds the winds of ill fortune blowing even more strongly when a crew of deadly ghost pirates led by an old rival, the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea…including him. His only hope of survival lies in finding the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that gives its possessor total control of the seas.

What people are saying:

“Dead Men Tell No Tales isn’t as good as the first three films, but it’s better than the fourth film…it has mostly good performances, and a couple of great ones. It has fantastic visual effects, lots of humor that works, a lighthearted feel and sense of fun, and many terrific action set pieces to make your eyeballs pop out.” 4 stars

“Is this really only the fifth entry in the Pirates film franchise? It feels like the 50th. Except for Javier Bardem, who brings a dollop of fresh mischief to this paycheck party, Dead Men has all the flavor of rotting leftovers.” 1 star

“Dead Men Tell No Tales found its way back to the original Pirates movie, but lacked anything fresh. Jack was back (mostly), but the movie’s two new protagonists (Carina and Henry) feel like the B-team compared to Will and Elizabeth. The plot and finale also struggled to live up to the quality of the original’s. A fun movie that is better than Pirates 3 and 4 for sure.” 4 stars

“I’m a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. But even with that bias, I have to admit this is a pretty mediocre movie. There’s no plot, really: the whole movie is basically a couple of groups of people chasing each other to get to the Trident of Poseidon first, which will allow its possessor to rule the seas. Since a slow chase on the oceans is not enough to fill 2+ hours, we get a bunch of throwaway exposition on irrelevant backstory stuff related to bad blood between Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and Jack Sparrow. There’s not much humor, no real plot twists or surprises, and certainly no creativity or depth to the dialogue. There are some large-scale fights/battles, but since it’s CGI, it’s all rather sterile and uninvolving. Bardem and Depp do make the most of their scenes, but that’s about it. Let’s hope the next installment brings more of the fun and inventive storytelling that made earlier POTC films so much fun.” 3 stars

“What else can be said about the latest movie in the long in the tooth Pirates of the Caribbean movie series. In this installment: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Feminist Diaries, a never before mentioned undead pirate is trying to kill Johnny Depp (in his return to Captain Jack to pay his alimony) . Jack needs to find a never before mentioned artifact to save himself. Luckily he encounters a belligerent sharped tongue shrew of a woman, who woman-splains for two hours. Along the way we meet yet another of Jack’s relatives , and get cameos and supporting roles from various cast members. Jack Bardem as Jack new nemesis was quite good. The new couple was trash. The effects, as always were spectacular. The undead shark scene was something the Sci-Fi channel wishes it could do during shark week. Unfortunately the movie is weighed down by more ‘disney diversity’. As usual all the men are dumb, and the women are smart. All the men (almost) are bad, the women are good. The men are weak, the women strong. Men are coward, women brave. Plus the movie is far two violent for younger kids. Summer trash.” 2 stars

Logan

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2029, no mutants have been born in 25 years. Logan’s healing ability has weakened and he has aged; he spends his days drinking and working as a limo driver in El Paso, Texas. In an abandoned smelting plant in northern Mexico, he and mutant tracker Caliban care for nonagenarian Charles Xavier, Logan’s mentor and founder of the X-Men. Charles, a psychic, suffers from a brain disease that causes him to have destructive seizures unless controlled with medication; a seizure a year earlier killed seven mutants, leaving Logan, Caliban and Xavier as the last of the X-Men.

Gabriela Lopez, a former nurse for biotechnology corporation Alkali-Transigen, tries to hire Logan to escort her and an 11-year-old girl, Laura, to Eden, a refuge in North Dakota. Logan reluctantly accepts, but finds Gabriela killed. He is confronted at his hideout by Gabriela’s killer, Donald Pierce, Transigen’s cyborg chief of security, who is looking for Laura. Laura has stowed away in Logan’s limo, and has powers like Logan’s. She, Logan and Charles escape Pierce and his Reavers, but Caliban is captured and tortured by Pierce into tracking Laura.

A video on Gabriela’s cellphone shows that Transigen created Laura and other children from mutant DNA samples to turn into weapons; Laura was created from Logan’s DNA. As they proved difficult to control and Transigen had found an alternative, the children were to be killed, but Gabriela and other nurses helped some of them escape.

In Oklahoma City, Logan discovers that Eden appears in an X-Men comic in Laura’s possession, and assumes it is fictional. The Reavers arrive, but Charles has a seizure and incapacitates everyone in the vicinity, except for Logan and Laura, who kill the attackers and inject Charles with medication, and they flee. Dr. Zander Rice, head of Transigen, arrives to help Pierce.

Logan, Laura, and Charles help farmer Will Munson and his family after a traffic incident and accept an offer of dinner at their home. Logan drives off enforcers from a corporate farm harassing Will. Rice unleashes X-24, a Transigen clone of Logan, who murders Charles and Will’s family, stabs Will, and captures Laura. Caliban sets off grenades, killing himself and several Reavers while injuring Pierce. Logan fights X-24, but is outmatched. Will pins X-24 with his truck, but dies from his injuries. Logan and Laura escape with Charles’ body.

After burying Charles, Logan passes out. Laura takes him to a doctor and persuades him to take her to Eden, where they find Rictor and other Transigen children preparing to cross to Canada. Laura finds an adamantium bullet Logan has kept since his escape from Weapon X, which he once considered using to commit suicide. Logan decides his job is done and chooses not to accompany them, much to Laura’s dismay.

The children are captured by the Reavers. Logan takes an overdose of a serum given to him by Rictor that temporarily strengthens his physical and healing abilities. With Laura’s help, he slaughters most of the Reavers, but the serum wears off. As Pierce holds Rictor at gunpoint, Rice tells Logan, who killed Rice’s father years ago while escaping from Weapon X, that no new mutants were born due to a Transigen virus that Rice created. Logan shoots Rice dead and attacks Pierce. X-24, enraged by Rice’s death, fights Logan. With their guards distracted, the children kill Pierce and the remaining Reavers. Rictor uses his seismic powers to flip a truck onto X-24. X-24 frees himself and impales Logan on a tree branch, but Laura shoots X-24 dead with the adamantium bullet. Before he dies, Logan tells Laura not to become the weapon she was made to be, and Laura finally tearfully acknowledges him as her father. After his burial, Laura turns the cross on his grave on its side to create an X, to honor him as the last X-Man and then departs with the other children.

REVIEW:

Ever since he first appeared on the big screen, way back in X-Men, fans worldwide have longed to get that raw, uncut Wolverine that is more akin to what we see in the comics, rather than what we’ve seen in shows like X-Men: The Animated Series. Logan looks to be the film to finally accomplish this. Let us find out if the goal was achieved.

What is this about?

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X, somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world, and his legacy, are upended when a young mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces.

What did I like?

What’s old is new again. Many years ago, Charles Xavier and Logan first met. While their relationship hasn’t always been the best, you can tell from the beginning that there was a mutual respect between them. That respect is perhaps why we find Logan as a sort of caregiver for Xavier. Sure, some may say this is done just to give Stewart one last shot at being the professor, which may have been rue before Disney bought the rights last week, but that’s a whole different post altogether. As we watch these two in their old age, severely slowed down due to the passage of time, wear and tear on their bodies, and various ailments, it is good to see their friendship last all these years, even when one has to change the other’s adult diaper!

Bloodsport. Go read a Wolverine comic, especially one released in this day and age. Logan does not hold back with the spillage of blood. As a matter of fact, I remember when I was growing up, I had to hide my Wolverine comics because my parents thought they were too violent and that I would turn into some mass murderer or something. Unless you count the endless lives I’ve ended in video games, I haven’t hurt a fly! Back on topic, though, we finally get to see Wolverine kill people with blood squirting out. This seems like a small thing to non-comic fans, but if you know truly know the character, its a huge thing, tbh. Also, we are privy to a bit more of the berserker rage that made Wolverine such an unstoppable force. Such a shame we had to wait for the last film to get all this.

Comic relief. This is a dark and serious film. As such, it was nice to get a few moments of levity to lighten the mood. Most of these came from Caliban, played by comedian Stephen Merchant. When I saw this casting,  I questioned it, but it makes sense now. Not only does the guy fit the character’s description, but he also provides a few much needed jokes in dire situations.

What didn’t I like?

Sabretooth? One of the antagonists is a clone of Logan, a younger, more powerful version of Logan, with a healing factor that hasn’t been slowed down. He actually makes for an interesting enemy. What I wonder is if he was originally supposed to have been Sabretooth. Wearing all black and with his hair cut the way it is, I was reminded of Liev Shrieber’s Sabretooth from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, you know that movie that everyone seems to hate for whatever reason.

Another family. At a point in the film, Logan says something along the lines of “bad things happen to good people who get attached to me.” A few scenes later, a family that has taken him, X-23, and Professor X in for the night is under attack. What is my problem with this? I guess it just feels a bit like the old couple in the first Wolverine film. They were just doing what was right, being good human beings, and found themselves 6 ft under. I guess the writers just wanted to take the bloodlust R-rating as far as they could and kill everyone just because they could.

Like father, like daughter. Ever daughter has certain mannerisms that they take from their parents, that’s just nature. X-23 is a clone of Logan, though, so she really takes after him. I don’t know much about her in the comics, but I do know she has a violent temper and is a bit of a loner, just like her “father”. What’s wrong with this? I guess I just expected something more from the film version. Not necessarily a sassy teen with attitude, we got that in X-Men: Evolution, just something other than a silent assassin type that speaks very little, broken English.

Final verdict on Logan. People have been praising this film as the best superhero film since The Dark Knight and that it is sure to be a game changer for the genre. I can see why people would think this, but for me, this was just a very well made conclusion to Wolverine’s story and, with the Disney acquisition of the X-Men rights, sets up perfectly for a reboot of the character, whether through X-23 or bringing someone else in as Logan. That said, this is a beautiful, powerful film that will tug on your heartstrings in a couple of places. You feel the consequences in this picture more than any of its predecessors, perhaps because we’ve known these characters for so long. Do I recommend it? Yes, very much so! If for no other reason than to see Stewart and Jackman play these characters for what they have said is the final time.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Innerspace

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

PLOT:

A hell-raising Navy test pilot (Dennis Quaid) is miniaturized for a top-secret exploratory journey inside a laboratory rabbit — but is instead injected into the body of a high-strung nebbish (Martin Short) who works as a supermarket clerk. Co-starring Meg Ryan, Innerspace is like The Fantastic Voyage with a laugh track. Short’s twitchy physical comedy is a marvel to behold.

What people are saying:

“A manic, overstuffed blend of sci-fi, comedy and romance, Innerspace nonetheless charms, thanks to Martin Short’s fine performance and the insistent zaniness of the plot” 3 1/2 stars

“Though the film plays like a mix of exhilarating adventure and smart comedy, it’s deepened by the notion that little Quaid is floating around inside Short’s body sinking hooks into things, ripping open veins, triggering stomach acid, and the like.” 4 1/2 stars

“Have I seen better movies…yes but not by much. For what was available at the time the visual effects are amazing (CGI wasn’t a big thing when this was made). And it has enough comedy to keep everyone interested. Basically Short and Ryan steal the show was they try to get a chip back that Quaid needs to reenlarge before his air supply run out. Just rent this and thank me later. ” 4 stars

“A fast-paced pastiche of ‘shrinking’ in scifi, an alcoholic Navy pilot gets trapped in the body of a loser Safeway clerk. More of an action-adventure comedy than anything else, it’s entertaining without being much more.” 3 1/2 stars

“I was sort of hoping to give this five stars, since it was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Looking at it as an adult, I think the first act is very strong, it has a lot of good jokes and action scenes (and really fantastic special effects), and Martin Short actually does quite well at both being funny and playing an actual character instead of a walking gag (sorry, Martin Short, but you tend to do the latter). The movie gets kind of directionless in the second act, though. Tuck and Jack are in the middle of a crisis, so they escape back to Tuck’s apartment and…get drunk and dance around. What? Also, Tuck’s pod seems to teleport to whatever part of Jack’s body would be most useful to the story and/or a gag; the story’s climax for him happens in Jack’s stomach, but then he’s somehow in Jack’s lungs a minute later. That sort of thing happens over and over; there’s very little concern in the script for the amount of time it would take him to get from one place to another. After meandering a good bit, the movie picks back up as the final act comes around. It’s still all very silly, of course, but it’s hard not to root for the heroes. It’s not a favorite of mine anymore, but it’s still a fun way to pass two hours.” 4 stars

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Resistance fighters led by General Leia Organa evacuate their main base when a First Order fleet reaches the planet. After the fight, the Resistance vessels jump into hyperspace to escape. Leia reprimands Poe Dameron for a successful but costly counter-strike, while Supreme Leader Snoke reprimands General Hux for his failure to block the evacuation. Hux, however, is tracking the Resistance and a long pursuit begins, with the Resistance relying on their spaceships’ mobility and shields to survive while their fuel supplies dwindle. During one battle, Kylo Ren hesitates to attack the lead Resistance ship after sensing the presence of his mother Leia on board. TIE fighters destroy the bridge of the ship, killing many Resistance members. Leia is incapacitated, leaving Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo in command. Disapproving of their leaders’ passive strategy, Poe, Finn, BB-8, and mechanic Rose Tico embark on a secret plan to disable the First Order fleet’s tracking device.

Having arrived on Ahch-To with Chewbacca and R2-D2 aboard the Millennium Falcon, Rey meets Luke Skywalker. Luke refuses to teach her in the ways of the Force because of his past failure when teaching Kylo, even after learning of Han Solo’s death. Unbeknownst to Luke, Rey and Kylo begin communicating with each other through visions. Prodded by R2, Luke eventually agrees to initiate Rey in the ways of the Force, but also reveals his failures as a Jedi Master. Luke and Kylo give Rey differing accounts of the incident that swayed Kylo toward the dark side of the Force, and Luke to his hermit life. Unable to convince Luke to join the Resistance, Rey leaves Ahch-To without him to confront Kylo. Luke sees the ghost of Yoda, who destroys the Ahch-To Jedi temple for him and tells him that failure is the greatest teacher.

Holdo reveals her plan to discreetly evacuate the remaining Resistance members using small transports. Believing her actions to be cowardly and risky, Poe instigates a mutiny. Finn, Rose, and BB-8 recruit the computer pirate DJ at a casino on Canto Bight, believing that he will be able to help them disable the tracking device. They infiltrate the lead First Order ship, but are captured by Captain Phasma, but BB-8 manages to escape. Meanwhile, Rey lands on the same ship, and is seized by Kylo Ren, who takes her to Snoke. During a losing confrontation with Snoke, Rey tries to turn Kylo to the side of the Resistance. Snoke reveals that he controlled the mental connection between her and Kylo as part of a plan to destroy Luke. Ordered to kill Rey, Kylo instead kills Snoke. Rey and Kylo work together to kill Snoke’s guards. Kylo asks Rey to rule the galaxy with him, but Rey refuses, and asks him to join the Resistance. Using only the Force they struggle until Rey is able to escape. Kylo declares himself as the new Supreme Leader.

Having recovered, Leia neutralizes Poe and allows the evacuation to begin. Holdo remains on the main ship to provide cover, as the others escape to an old Rebel Alliance base on planet Crait. However, DJ reveals the Resistance’s plan to the First Order, and the evacuation transports are targeted with heavy losses but Holdo rams the command ship and its fleet at light-speed to stop the barrage. BB-8 frees Rose and Finn, who escape after defeating Captain Phasma, and join the survivors of the evacuation. When the First Order arrives, Poe, Finn, and Rose lead a charge with old speeders, but take heavy fire. The Falcon arrives and draws the TIE fighters away, while Rose saves Finn from a suicide mission to destroy the main enemy cannon, which then blasts a hole in the Resistance fortress.

Luke appears and confronts Kylo alone, giving the surviving Resistance fighters time to escape. Kylo strikes Luke with his lightsaber, but learns that he has been fighting a projection, and Luke is still on Ahch-To. Luke defiantly tells Kylo that he will not be the last Jedi, as Rey clears a blocked tunnel behind the base so the remaining Resistance fighters can escape.

On Ahch-To, Luke’s body vanishes as he dies. The remaining Resistance fighters escape aboard the Falcon. Leia reassures everyone that the rebellion has all that is needed to rise again. On Canto Bight, one of the children that helped Finn and Rose escape wields a broom like a lightsaber and a Resistance ring is shown on his finger.

REVIEW:

The day has finally arrived! All of us Star Wars fans have been patiently awaiting the sequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens since its release a couple of years ago and now, with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it is finally here. Theories have been rampant regarding what will actually happen to certain characters; who will live and who will die, that sort of thing. As the next chapter in the epic saga, let’s see if it lives to the legendary status of the “holy trilogy”

What is this about?

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

What did I like?

Carrie-ing on. About this time last year, we lost Carrie Fisher. Speculation abounded following her passing how her death would be handled in the film. Would she be killed off? Perhaps digitally altered scenes? A memorium at the end of the film in her memory. Not to spoil anything, but her character is handled with respect and reverence befitting the princess. On a personal note, when she first appeared on the screen, it was emotional, but only because of the fact she is no longer with us, not because of anything that happens to her.

Snoke bomb. In The Force Awakens, Supreme Leader Snoke was built up to be a figure similar to Emperor Palpatine in the original saga. I, and I am sure many others, was looking forward to getting more from him, both in terms of character development, backstory, and seeing why he is the so-called Supreme Leader. Some questions still remain, but two things are for certain after watching this afternoon. First, he is no Palpatine and second, we still don’t know who he is! That aside, at least we saw more than a hologram of him and were witness to his mastery of the Force.

New direction. One of the biggest complaints about the Force Awakens was that it felt like a remake of Star Wars and, because of this, many feared this film would be a reboot of Empire Strikes Back. Admittedly, there is a similar feel to Empire, but this one stands on its own and sets the franchise on a course for a new direction. Some of us die-hard fans from the original days aren’t happy with it, but it is what it is.

What didn’t I like?

Joke’s on Luke. For years now, Mark Hamill has been a very popular voice actor, with a resume too long to list in the small space. Needless to say, his biggest role, short of being Luke Skywalker, would have to be the voice of the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series (and many of the properties that followed). When Luke spoke, I could help but hear the Joker, rather than Luke Skywalker. I am not sure if this is how Hamill’s speaking voice sounds now, or if this could just be my personal affinity for the character. It would have been nice to hear him sound closer to what he did in the holy trilogy, though i know time and all those voices he has done have ravaged his vocal chords, so that’s a pipe dream.

Amor. Once Finn is re-established as a character and it appears he is running off to save/warn Rey about something, we are introduced to Rose. Now, Rose is a very sweet girl who lost her sister at the beginning of the film. As time goes on, we learn more and more about her until she sacrifices herself to save Finn. As she lay there near death, she professes her love for Finn and kisses him. W…T…F?!? First, there was absolutely no chemistry between these characters until then. Second, it seemed like we were going to get a Finn/Rey romance. Third, this whole subplot could have been cut and no one would know the difference. Why was this love story forced upon us?!?

More Death Star. A common complaint about the entire Star Wars saga is how in every film we get the Death Star. Well, no Death Star this time…sort of. While there isn’t a full-fledged battle station, there is a battering cannon based on technology from the Death Star. Can we not get away from that thing? Yes, it was awesome at first, but not it is just becoming a nuisance!

Final verdict on Star Wars: The Last Jedi? This one feels like they managed to get the balance of new and old, managing to make the film feel like a true entry into the Star Wars universe and also show casualties and consequences. Old friends come and go, new friends are made, and we are even introduced to some new creatures and younglings along the way that may be the future of this franchise years down the road. While I liked the film, I don’t love it. Something just didn’t make me jump up in my seat for this. Perhaps in another viewing, I will have a different opinion. That said, i do highly recommend this to any and all. Action, adventure, comedy, deceit…what else could you really want in a film? Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Thor: Ragnarok

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW:

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

What is this about?

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

What did I like?

Hela good.

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

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

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

What didn’t I like?

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 stars

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A year has passed since Eggsy Unwin and the spy organisation Kingsman saved the world from Richmond Valentine’s neurological wave broadcast, and he has since taken his late mentor Harry Hart’s title of “Galahad” and is living with Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden. One day, on his way home, he is ambushed by Charlie Hesketh, a former Kingsman trainee who lost his arm and vocal cords to the explosive microchip that was triggered during the Valentine incident. Eggsy loses Charlie and his henchmen in a car chase across London, but Charlie’s severed cybernetic arm hacks into the Kingsman servers through the car’s computer system. While Eggsy dines with Princess Tilde and her parents in Sweden, a volley of missiles destroy the Kingsman headquarters and wipe out Roxy and all of the Kingsman agents in Britain.

Being the only surviving agents, Eggsy and Merlin follow the Doomsday protocol, which leads them to “Statesman”, a secret American organisation posing as a Bourbon whiskey distillery in Kentucky. There, they discover that Harry survived the gunshot by Valentine a year earlier, but is suffering from amnesia. Eggsy and Merlin are briefed by Statesman head, Champagne, about a secret terrorist organisation called “The Golden Circle” and start their mission by following Charlie’s ex-girlfriend Clara Von Gluckfberg. When Statesman agent Tequila develops blue rashes, he is replaced by agent Whiskey as Eggsy’s partner. Eggsy manages to plant a tracking device inside Clara, but his revelation of his mission to Princess Tilde strains their relationship. After several failed attempts to cure Harry’s amnesia, Eggsy brings in a Yorkshire Terrier puppy that resembles Harry’s late dog Mr. Pickle and threatens to shoot it, triggering the return of Harry’s memories.

Poppy Adams, head of world’s largest drug cartel posing as a pharmaceutical company, broadcasts a message telling the world about a toxin she laced within every recreational drug available, which causes users to, at the first stage, develop blue rashes before progressing through mania, and then paralysis and ultimately, death. She also demonstrates the antidote on a captive Elton John and offers it to the world if the President of the United States ends his country’s War on Drugs and makes her organisation immune to all convictions. The President decides to take advantage of the situation to kill every junkie in the world and has every affected user quarantined, including his Chief of Staff, Fox. Eggsy, Harry, and Whiskey head to the antidote factory in Italy after intercepting a phone call to Charlie by Clara. Eggsy manages to steal an antidote sample, but it is broken by Whiskey during an ambush by The Golden Circle’s henchmen. During the gunfight, Harry shoots Whiskey in the head, as he suspects that Whiskey is playing both sides, but Eggsy saves him with the same alpha-gel used to save Harry. Princess Tilde calls Eggsy in a state of mania, revealing that she has the blue rashes before falling into paralysis. Eggsy, Harry, and Merlin discover the location of Poppy’s hideout, “Poppy Land”, in Cambodia and fly there to steal the remote control for the antidote drones.

Upon their arrival at Poppy Land, Eggsy steps on a land mine but is saved by Merlin, who sacrifices himself while taking the lair’s guards with him. Eggsy and Harry storm through the lair and Eggsy kills Charlie while Harry destroys Poppy’s robotic guard dogs with the help of Elton. They secure the briefcase with the access code to the drones and inject Poppy with a more potent dose of her toxin, and she gives them the password before succumbing to a heroin overdose. Before they can activate the drones, they are stopped by Whiskey, who, having previously lost his wife to crossfire from two drug users, is revealed to be working alone to ensure that all drug users are eliminated. Eggsy and Harry engage Whiskey in a grueling fight at Poppy’s diner before forcing him through Poppy’s meat grinder. They release the antidote drones, saving millions of lives around the world.

In the aftermath of the incident, Chief of Staff Fox has the President impeached for conspiring to commit mass genocide on the drug victims. Champagne announces that Statesman has acquired a distillery in Scotland to help rebuild Kingsman. As a means to avoid the confusion of two Kingsman agents using the codename “Galahad”, Champagne offers either Eggsy or Harry the agent title of Whiskey, but they decline and Statesman tech support Ginger Ale steps in to take the role. Eggsy marries Princess Tilde, and Tequila moves to London to work for Kingsman.

REVIEW:

In 2015, Kingsman: The Secret Service hit the big screens and  took the world by storm. Almost immediately, a sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, was announced and greenlit. Now that this the latter has hit theaters, it is time to decide if the wait was worth it.

What is this about?

When the Kingsman headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that tests their agents’ strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world, something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy.

What did I like?

Hit the ground running. One thing I can’t stand about action film is when they take forever to get going. Let’s be honest, no one goes to an action flick excited to hear dialogue. We go for the stunts and explosions, am I right? The filmmakers happen to feel the same way as I do, because the opening scenes of this flick are a car chase through London with Eggsy fighting off his would be attackers while not trying to destroy half the city or kill innocent bystanders. What a way to start!

Ham and Eggs(y). In the last film, we were introduced to Eggsy and watched him go from street thug to debonair gentleman. By the time this flick rolls around, he has become much more comfortable in his skin, as it were, and seems to be relishing in the role of being a Kingsman. Of course, having a hot, Swedish royal as your girlfriend doesn’t hurt, now does it? The thing that really gets me, though, is how even through his transformation, Eggsy can still go back and ham it up with his bros.

Everything’s retro. I am a big fan of things retro. WWII era stuff is my preferred era, but when it comes to overall aesthetic pleasure, that honor is bestowed upon the 50s. Julianne Moore’s villainous CEO character, Poppy Adams and I are kindred spirits in this regard. She used her vast resources to create a 50s utopia among the Ethiopian mountains, or wherever it is that she was, exactly. What’s not to love about a place like that?

What didn’t I like?

The sweeter the Berry. Hard to believe Halle Berry won an Academy Award not that long ago, huh? The recent string of flops she’s had makes one wonder if she was given that statue just because she got naked in Monster’s Ball. I have had a crush on her, since Boomerang. Her role as Ginger Ale (wasn’t she called Ginger in her Bond movie?) reminded me of her character from that flick with her shy confidence and all. The glasses just made her more attractive, btw. All that said about her looks and resume, Berry was wasted in this role, unless they do something with her in the future. I heard a couple of rumblings about a spin-off for the Statesmen. Should that come to fruition, than I will change my opinion that she’s wasted, and replace it with they were just building her up, but until that happens…IF it happens, I can’t be happy with what I saw from her.

Foreshadowing? A president who would rather ignore the needs of the people for the good of a few. Hmmm…who does this sound like? As evil as Poppy is, the woman went all Sweeney Todd and was grinding humans for food, the argument can be made that the president is the real villain of this film. I can’t say exactly why without spoiling part of the film, but let’s just say, if you made a mistake and it were up to him to help you fix it, well, you’d be s.o.l….just like the current waste of space up there in the White House.

Give it away. In the last film, Colin Firth’s character was shot, at point-blank range, in the eye and killed. Even though he was a big reason that film was successful, the filmmaker’s killed him off. When the sequel was announced, there was speculation about how/if to bring him back. Twin brother, flashback, decoy, etc. were all ideas thrown around and I think they made the right decision with how to bring him back, though I think they messed with his character a bit. All that aside, my gripe is with the fact that he appears in the trailer. His return should have been as big a surprise to us in the audience as it is to Eggsy and Merlin when they see him but, because he appears in the trailer, that element of surprise is no longer there. Good job, marketing team, you screwed us out of a major surprise!

Kingsmen: The Golden Circle doesn’t seem to have the same magic as its predecessor, but that may be just because of raised expectations. Remember, we had none for the first film. As you see, I have a few gripes with this flick, including its use of Elton John, but there is plenty of praise to go around, as well. One thing that I think hurt this film that didn’t hurt the first is the rise of ‘R’ rated movies. When the first film came out, the violence and language was highly praised, but now it just seems like an everyday thing to see in films. So, with all that said, what is my final verdict? This is definitely a must-see, but if you want to wait a week or two until the hype dies down, that’s fine, just make sure you check it out!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars