Playing with Time

Doctor Strange

Marvel continues to add characters to its ever growing character pool. But Doctor Strange reaches past space, and reality and pulls in something spiritual.

Stephen Strange is annoying jerk who is a genius with medical injuries. When his arrogance break his body he must find a way to return to level of perfection he once was. He travels vast distances thinking he will be magically healed but he learns from The Ancient One about how to manipulate space and reality. Strange starts to see that is an integral part into the survival of humanity especially when a former students steals spells about affecting time, the only taboo to these people have. Along with the few survivors of his dojo, he must save the world from being absorbed into a dark dimensions.tilda-swinton-benedict-cumberbatch

Doctor Strange is a lot like Deadpool in the fact that it is highly overrated by critics. It has a decent story but it fails to really delve into any true motivations and character development. While Benedict Cumberbatch plays a great intellectual, he is no action hero. The movie works because The Ancient One, played marvelously by Tilda Swinton kicks, major ass and is truly the action star of the film. Mads Mikkelsen works well with the action but he can’t keep his accent straight. I’m not sure why they didn’t just let him speak in his normal voice.

Doctor Strange is up in your face about changing time and realities. Critics love these overly CGI sequences saying it’s visually beautiful. But halfway into the movie, it spends more time trying to dazzle us with CGI instead of the story. It starts to do what I had feared Inception would do by letting special effects over take the story. The good news is that by the end, sequences start to find a good balance between spectral and meaning. Strange ends strong after a sagging middle.

Strange adds a metaphysical layer to the Marvel universe but it needs tweaking to truly break unto the cerebral.

 

 

 

 Arrival

 Arrival is cerebral and doesn’t depend on the typical alien bang, bang shot ’em up to carry the story. It’s the actual idea of using an alien language to communicate with the aliens that propels the story

Louise Banks (Amy Adams) lives alone with wine and memories but when an alien spacecraft lands, she is asked to help unravel the mystery of their language. With the help of a team of scientist including Ian Donnely (Jeremy Renner), she must decode the alien’s purpose for coming to Earth. Their language is not like the human language at all so the team must not only translate the language they must learn the vocabulary all while world military leaders breathe down their neck.

arrival-mit-jeremy-renner-und-amy-adamsArrival is more subtle with its time manipulation than Doctor Strange. Louise is lost in her own personal time loop and each memory she recalls has direct connection with something said or done in the present. By the end of the movie, each scene makes sense and is it tied (almost) neatly with a bow. Plus the conclusion packs an emotional wallop.

Arrival also acts as a modern day fable about global community. The movie looks at the violence and fear that breaks out when countries start keeping scientific knowledge from each other. The answer lies in working together to solve, not just the mystery of the aliens, but also the issue that plaque humanity.

Arrival is well written, well directed and well acted. It’s a quality movie film that makes you think and gets your emotions flowing.

Home Away From Home

This latest book adaption is great fun and a classic Tim Burton piece. I had wanted to read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children  by Ransom Riggs since I hear of it. I read the first two chapters and then promptly lost it; I was so sad! So I am unable to tell you how close it is to the book. But that’s fine because I love this whimsical film in its own right.

After Jake’s grandfather dies, he discovers clues to a mystery that spans space and time. Following an address from a post card sent to his grandfather, Jake finds Miss Peregrine and her Home for Peculiar Children. As he learns about the residents and their unusual abilities, he also learns about the dark side of being peculiar. His friends are trapped in a time loop to keep them safe from the Hallows, a malicious enemy who kills peculiars for everlasting humanity. Jake is the key to their survival but can he make the sacrifices required of him?1280_miss_peregrines_home_for_peculiar_children_eva_green

The story follows the children with the titular Peregrine taking a back seat to their story. This is a coming of age tale about a group of children who never age. Asa Butterfield manages to make Jake a real person (so much more than he ever did for Ender but that’s another thing entirely). Ella Purnell with gorgeous Targaryen hair leads the group with love and respect as best an older sister good. But this doesn’t mean the adults don’t make their mark. Eva Green, Samuel Jackson, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench, Allison Janey and Terence Stamp all add to the world with character with characters as varied and unusual as the children. In fact, I have decided that Jackson does his best work as a villain.

The film is classic Burton. Dark but funny. Serious but sweet. HIs as his signature style wraps around the peculiar children and their world. His visual palate is perfect partner for the world based on trick and creepy photography. The films deliver exactly what I had imagined from reading the two chapters of the book.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is classic Burton and deserves a spot in your DVD collection. It’s a fantastical story that will be fun to relive over and over.

Crime Legend

Tom Hardy is the king of films. He easily moves between block buster and independent movies trying new things and taking roles that interest him. He doesn’t play the Hollywood games but still managed to get nominated for an Academy Award. Hardy is more than just a pretty face or some eccentric that other actors shun; he is amazingly talented and incredibly versatile.

Legend is a crime thriller based on the lives of the Kray twins and their organized crime in East London during the 50’s and 60’s.Told in the voice of Frances Shea, who would become Reggie’s wife, the movie chronicles their relationship, the relationship of the two brothers, and the many crimes the twins commit.

He has played comic book characters, battled a dystopian future without much dialogue, and proved that you can enjoy a movie featuring just one man driving a car. Often the movies themselves cannot live up to Hardy’s performance but they are worth viewing to watch this amazing man sharpen his craft. Legend may only skim the surface of the plot, but Hardy dives deep into these characters proving that he is a master of his craft. Both of his twins are very different and you almost wouldn’t believe they were the same person. They had their own voice, their own walk and their own way to reacting to others.

Unfortunately, this is one of the movies doesn’t live up to his performance. Like Child 44 and The Regnant, these films fail in their story telling and Hardy is the best part of the movie (except for The Reverent; the cinematography gives Hardy a run for his money). Legend doesn’t delve deep into the Kray brother. It seems to gloss over their emotions and true motivations. The majority of characters fall flat as they aren’t written with enough depth for the actors to work with these actors include the Doctor himself Chris Eccleston and the up and coming Taron Egerton). The Twin’s story seems to be a truly thought provoking story but the script only skitters across the surface.

If you are renting a Tom Hardy movie this weekend, I encourage you to go The Drop, probably Hardy’s most underrated movie.

An Atypical Thriller

Movies featuring special needs characters always end up being tear jerkers. It’s rare to find a feel good or even a thriller that deals with people who are non-typical. When these characters are in movies like this they are usually secondary and stereotypically and overly dramatic versions of what people with these issues really are like. The Accountant does a great job integrating someone who is different and enmeshing them in a thrilling fantasy world.

the-accountant-5Christian Wolf (and his plethora of aliases) was diagnosed with autism at a young age back at a time where society was even less accepting of those that were different. His mother wants to do everything to help her son succeed life but his father sees his son’s issues as weakness. As his father tries to eradicate these weaknesses by putting Christian and his brother through a variety of trials that will affect them the rest of their lives, his mother leaves the family because of the lack of help for her son. Christian is now an accountant using his talent for math and organization to have a semblance of a normal life. But he hides his true work like he hides his autism negating his work with mob bosses and drug cartels to the background and keeping his head down. That is until he goes to work for Lamar Black and uncovers a money laundering scheme that puts himself and his coworkers in danger. Christian uses his certain set of skills to protect her and solve the puzzle.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Accountant. As someone who has studied and worked in the field of autism for over a decade, I was worried how they would portray the main character and his developmental disorder. Luckily, it seems that the writer, directors and actor were truly aware of what autism entails and how it often manifests. The entire movie was entirely respectful not negating it to an unrealistic role in his life nor over blowing it for dramatic affect. Affleck does a great job with the character and does well portraying a high functioning autistic adult.

The rest of the cast shines as well. Iconic actors such as J.K. Simmons, Jean Smart, Jeffery Tambor and THE ACCOUNTANTJohn Lithgow add powerful depth. While Smart and Tambor have minimal parts, it’s always great to see their face on the big screen. But the best parts of the movie feature Affleck and Jon Bernthal, an up and coming heavy hitter. The two have major chemistry and their interactions are imbued with a variety of emotions. Bernthal is an amazing actor, and I look forward to seeing where his career takes him.

The plot seems farfetched in the trailer but the movie smooths things out nicely. The movie spans Christian’s entire life featuring flashbacks to his youth and the defining moments of his life. It builds a complex story about family and nature vs nurture. Stories that seem to run parallel entwine and most often come full circle. The movie features two promenade twists (only one in which I saw coming early on) that answer any questions that the movie brings up.

Well researched, written, and acted, The Accountant is a fun thriller that changes the way we see movies with nontypicallly developing characters. Now if Affleck would just continue to make these kinds of movies instead of the Batman movies.

 

Summer Movie Swing Part 2

Independence Day: Resurgence

Available on BluRay and DVD Oct. 18

The movie has garnered a lot of negative attention from critics but it is a pretty good action movie and the ending magnifies the movie in tone and scope

This summer both Hemsworth brother get the spotlight (Chris steals the show while Liam is the new generation of leading men). Liam is the handsome face of the new American generations (with the required darkness of course). He joins a team of returning cast (including Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman) and newbies (Sela Ward, Jesse T. Usher) that are awesome combination of past and present (but be prepared to say goodbye to some beloved characters)independence-day-resurgence when the next threat hits. Earth has been planning for the aliens return and has used the alien’s technology to benefit the entire planet. As the movie opens they are working one a new weapon while an elite team of pilots are getting ready for just about anything. Their patience is rewarded when the mother ship comes home. But what we haven’t anticipated? Earth wasn’t to the first to be attacked by these monsters.

Many critics have killed Resurgence which surprises me. It’s pure Hollywood Action Movie Recipe and manages to produce a capable action flick. I must agree that it doesn’t live up to the original but it has all the same pieces: great action, characters you like, and a final outlandish attack (there’s even a pretty moving speech). I enjoyed the action and was interested in where the alien’s history will take us.

Resurgence is notable because it is the perfect sequel/reboot. There is the passing of the crown to the younger generation while honoring those that came before. Integrating characters from the first movie and having several of them survive is a key in keeping the franchise consistent but their rolls make it easier for the new characters to become center stage. Viewers get to say goodbye and hello without feeling cheated (unlike other recent reboots).

I was unhappy with the forced franchise set up. As the plot develops there is no doubt that the franchise could continue so it was rather tacky and cliché as the ending is set up for an ensured sequel. I guess, at this point, Hollywood hasn’t had time to learn from Divergent. I’ll see the sequel (if the producers decided this one made enough money), but don’t expect it to be as good as the first or even as good as this one.

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Suicide Squad

Available on BluRay and DVD Dec. 13

Suicide Squad gets a few things right and a few wrong. It’s nowhere near the best comic based movie this year and it is not the worst.

Suicide Squad follows a group of villains who have been put together to fight the new growing supernatural threat in the world. In the wake of Superman the government is scared and somehow letting lunatics out to fight those like him is a great idea. When Enchantress (one of the squad’s own) goes berserk, the team is called out for their trail one. The team proves they can battle the forces of evil while being (mostly) evil themselves.suicidesquad

Suicide Squad is the best when it’s using its sound track to personify the characters and getting viewers into the mood for a good ass kicking. The music gives death to the many one dimensional characters. That’s not to say they are all one demission. Diablo is the most compelling of the stories and we do get flashbacks into what Harley Quinn once was and a small look into what actually motivates her.

The writing of the characters isn’t the only problem; casting cripples character like Deadshot and Flag. No matter what Will Smith thinks, this was an ensemble movie and his desire to push his leading man status down our throats harms the movie. Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag is the poor man’s Tom Hardy, literally. After Hardy left the project (I knew there would be problems with this movie when he walked out), the production set out to find someone who could be Hardy and since that’s impossible, ___ is slammed between a rock and a hard place. Outside of the Human Flame, the best characters are regulated to a just a few lines; Boomerang and Croc get to make a few wisecracks and stand around taking up space instead of being integrated into a cohesive team. I would have rather have seen more of them and less of characters like the Joker.

Ah, Jared Leto, the most controversial of all of this. He was a horrible Joker playing him as a strung out meth head who paraded around as a mob boss. It was painful to watch and you just waited for his over-the-top scenes to be over. Everyone involved wanted Joker to be different and he is, in fact, very different but no one bothered to ask if it was any good.

Suicide Squad is an entertaining romp that needs a lot of fine tuning before its next foray.

 

Ghostbusters

Now available on BluRay and DVD

Ghostbuster also reboots an old story. The Ghostbusters crew dedicated the movie to original writer and star Harold Ramiz but the movie doesn’t live up to the Ramis’ reputation.

A team of estranged researcher reunite when a local historic location has shown evidence of haunting. While the team easily sees through the gimmicks, they suddenly find themselves face to face with real ghosts. The two must expand their team (including their research assistant, an outspoken subway work, and a model of receptionist) to get to the bottom of the disturbance. And they quickly find that it’s not isolated. New York City has a ghost problem!

The movie had some great parts but the biggest issue is that it isn’t Ghostbusters. The tone is not the ghostbusters2016image004same, the movie is super CGed and the only real connection is some icon images and gear. The movie would have been better standing on its own as a Ghostbusters inspired movie; the four ladies get together to bring back the old idea and gear and set up their own movie with tone and vision. The overly CGed world of this Ghostbuster isn’t scary at all and is just another C level reboot.

But there are some fabulous parts to the movie and those are the two characters that get the most laugh. Leslie Jones starts out as stereotypical hysterical black women but quickly she starts saying and doing what we as normal people think. The prime example is the “room of nightmares”; she refuses to go in a room of mannequins because she knows how it will end. But the move is propelled by Chris Hemsworth who gives his best performance ever as the dumb secretary that throws gender roles on its head. He is hilarious but turns on the gravitas in a heartbeat (it also helps he was allowed to use his own accent).

I’m not a Trump supporter (screw you Apatow), but I still believe the quality wasn’t very good. Hollywood stuck with a gimmick but lacked substance. Women are funny, especially when you let them be.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Available on BluRay and DVD Nov. 29

It is interesting that Hollywood is finally getting behind female centric comedies when other countries have been doing it for years. It’s hard to look at BBC comedy without noting the plethora of female comedians. AbFab’s returns continue to prove that women are funny and can pull the big screen attendants.

Edina Monsoon is desperate not it sink into oblivion and continues to struggle with her PR firm. She is always on the edge of the next big get or the next big trend but never fully lands. Eddie has finally lands something and it’s not good. When it is revealed Kate Moss is looking for a new PR director, Eddie accidently kills Moss in her scramble to get the position. Eddie and Patsy must escape before she can be crucified for the fashion world’s biggest death ever. But Eddie and Patsy don’t know how to do low key and their situation continues to sink and sink and get funnier and funnier.

English movies based on TV show like to recycle old materials from their shows (see Are You Being Served and Bean for examples) but AbFab is more subtle about how it does this. Instead of pulling whole gags from the series, running gags appear at every corner. Mother is still being verbally trashed; her nurse still thinks Eddie’s fat and Eddie has finally added a second verse to her “walking down the road” song! This is wonderful treats for long time fans without trying their patience. And as always, the movie is star studded with a variety of cameos from Game of Thrones Gwendoline Christie to the “really hot right absolutely-fabulous-the-movieartnow” Rebel Wilson. And, of course, there’s Lulu!

The movie largely secedes because Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley become Eddie and Patsy and they give it their all. They don’t inject anything PC into this character taking women’s issues as basis and then exaggerates them to the point of being funny. A movie about woman insecure about her weight is usually a Lifetime movie with a sad sound track. Instead Saunders takes Edina and makes her larger than life, and it is at that point we can connect to Eddie; while some of us may have done dumb stuff, none of us are as dumb as Eddie.

Many of today’s comedians such as Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham need to take note. It’s ok to be honest, foul mouthed and talk about our vagina without sinking to likes of their male counter parts. (I mean, I don’t want another Sausage Party from men let alone something like that from women. Ick. That genre of comedy should just die out.) Saunders and Lumley do it right, they do it real, and they do it with a lot more class.

 

Summer Movie Swing Part 1

Now You See Me 2

The trailer wasn’t strong for this second installment causing the movie to seem more spectacle than heist, but the film itself it’s actually a pretty good follow-up to its predecessor.

10NOWYOUSEE-master768A year after the original heist, The Horsemen are stalling for time, waiting for the right time to reappear after their original heist (sans one member who they just write off). Atlas is anxious to get back into the world even going behind Dylan’s back to talk to The Eye on his own. He is ecstatic when he receives a new mission: take down Owen Case and his all-seeing technology. But all does not go along their well thought out plan so they must out to trick the men who first tricked them.

The trailer captured some the biggest showy moments but the movie is more than just spectacle. There is character growth as each character shows them to be human and not just show men. The plot delves into the back story of Dylan, the almost mythical character that helps the team in the first film. The audience learns why magic is so important to him and his involvement with The Eye

The humor adds a great layer keeping things from becoming melodramatic. These moments are some of the best as tension is relieved through this humor for a great balance in mood. It’s a fun movie and worth the ticket price.

The Conjuring 2

Movies like The Conjuring intrigue me. I like things that are based on actual events but they often disappoint because the movies embellish. I have found that real life if often more scary than the clichés used in horror films. While the first movie was enjoyable, the second movie tries to up the ante but really just makes a spectacle of it.

In England, a girl is possessed by a ghost of a man that died at their home. Levitationhttps-%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fuploads%2Fstory%2Fthumbnail%2F12071%2FThe-Conjuring-2, teleportation and telekinetic events terrorize the poor family. The Warrens are called in to investigate before the church will perform an exorcism. But Lorraine brings personal baggage into the case keeping answers veiled.

The Conjuring isn’t scary unless you are awake at two in the clock in the morning and are envisioning the nun’s face next to yours. The movie depends on clichés of scary faces, creepy voices, and standard horror fare. While it is not gory (a plus), there isn’t much to distinguish this movie from the many that have come before it. While the first one kept afloat by great casting, this installment does not; it feels like a B movie peddled by Hollywood.

The one thing I did enjoy was the way the writers spun the Amityville Horror and the Enfield Poltergeist. T used hey used Lorraine to explain the portion of the cases that were documented hoaxes .The movie uses Lorraine’s personal issues with a spirit to explain why she feels the spirit is at both places. This allows the Warrens to have some credibility after backing the mockery that was Amityville. (While I know Amityville was faked as a publicity stunt, there is still a picture that was taken in that house that haunts me. I’m sure there are emotions from the family murder that hang in the air at that house.) But otherwise this movie is a dud.

X-Men Apocalypse

The third in the story of the younger X-men turns out to be a lot better than was anticipated. Overshadowing and making fun of X-Men 3, this story follows ten years after the events portrayed in Days of Future Past. Mystique is now a hero, Magneto has a family and Xavier’s school is full of students. But when the First Mutant is revived, the world changes for all whether on the side of good or evil.

x-men-apocalypseThe movie does have some problems. The love story of Scott and Jean is shoved down our throats from the beginning. Its makes the love story artificial and staged. The movie also depends too much on the two starlets who producers consider hot right now. Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress but her character has evolved from the comics to make her a central character only because Lawrence won an Oscar and draws in crowds. The tale of her and Erick is repeated over and over, and it’s boring. The addition of Sophie Turner does nothing for the movie. High off her role as an annoying (but now fan loved) Sansa Stark, she is cast as Jean Grey but brings nothing to the characters and gives the same stilted performance she gives in Game of Thrones. The movie finally remembers that it the relationship between Erik and Xavier that truly propel these line of stories and that’s where the best acting and most interesting arcs lie.

But there are a lot of things the film gets right including the relationship between Xavier and Moira, and Erik’s desire to be a normal person. The two best scenes feature appearance by some of the best characters of the X-Men world. Wolverine makes a cameo and the writers did well explaining his intense love for Jean. The second features Quicksilver and the Eurhythmics. Sweet dreams ARE made of this.

Fun, exciting and often meta, Apocalypse is one of the better of the X-Men movies. Not as good as the first film or First Class, it never the less stands on its own.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Tim Burton does not return for this installment but his vision of the world is alive and well. The writing, on the other hand, needs a coffin.

Through the Looking Glass creates its own story instead of taking from the source material. The Mad Hatter is dying and the only way to save him is to find his family; heAlice_Through_Looking_Glass_tea_240516_620_347_100 believes they did not die like he had originally believed. So Alice, fresh off a sea voyage and looking at disaster in her personal life, descends deep into imagination and time to save him. She must steal the Chrono Sphere from Time to find out what really happened to the Hatter’s family.

My first thought was this was supposed to be a movie about Hatter and would let Johnny Depp shine. But The Hatter is not Jack Sparrow, and his entire performance is subpar. As the movie unfolds it seems to be more about the Queens than about Hatter and his family drama. While it was interesting to see how the Queen of Hearts got such big head, the story drags.

The best sequences are those featuring Time. Sacha Baren Cohen is hilarious and great at character acting and he outshines Depp like a supernova. A semi-villain, Time is given only moderate screen time and not enough chances to break up the monotony of the film.

The only other thing that stands out is the Alan Rickman; but don’t get too excited. His butter fly gets two lines at the beginning of the movie. It’s rather sad that this was all there was. I still have not completely mourned for this great and Alice did nothing to help me.

Dead vs dumb

For Valentines weekend two big movies opened at the box office. You had Deadpool for the comic fans and millennials and then you had Zoolander oft forgotten but still worth your time I made a deal with my movie going partner: I would go to Deadpool the opening weekend as long as I got to see Zoolander 2. Here’s how the two movie stood up to expectations.

Deadpool-Jump-GunDeadpool has slowly been building steam. I was unexcited for another mediocre super hero movie. I had read some of the title character’s comics and enjoyed it but that didn’t mean I was running to the theaters. But early review came in and people loved the movie. It was so hyped up even Bettie White gave her endorsement. So I got excited about the movie and, honestly, this was the worst thing I could have done.

Deadpool follows a non-super hero as he avenges himself and his overly erotic lady love. Wade Wilson starts off as a violent, jerky mercenary that is diagnosed with cancer. In an effort to prolong his life and be with the woman he loves, he takes a dangerous treatment option. But that treatment turns sinister and he is turned into a mutant with insane healing powers. The down sides? His skin has been ruined leaving him literally scarred for life. Wade then takes up the mantel Deadpool hiding his hideousness behind a flashy costume while taking down the man who has changed his life.

In the first two minutes, I was convinced this would be the nest Guardians of the Galaxy (the best modern comic hero movies). The opening titles poke fun at what has become the predictable formula of these movies. It’s meta presence is sprinkled through out the film with many reference to Wolverine and Hugh Jackman. This jokes are perfectly timed and not over done. But the ,movie degenerates as it goes along. Part is the lack of faith buy the studio. The movie features third string X-Men whose characters were flat and one delusional. But the biggest issue is that the movie tries too hard to break the mold. The movie was raunchy, yes, but there were times were it was just offensive for offensive’s sake; it didn’t propel the story it just hurt it.

But over all the movie performs well. Ryan Reynolds is perfectly cast and does his best work when playing off other characters. In fact, he is a better leading man than several other movie heroes including Ant-Man. A future film with Cable (or heck Hawkeye but we can’t move across studios now can we?) will make better use of this banter as a anti-buddy buddy flick. Now that would be perfection.

Speaking of buddy buddy movies,Zoolander 2 shows us what happens when two perfect idiots get together. I am not a big Ben Stiller fan, but the original was too perfect not to love. The movie was ridiculous and stayed ridiculous (in a good way). It knew how to push the envelope with out knocking it off. It was laugh after laugh even after multiple viewings. So when they announced a sequel I was nothing but excited. The trailers didn’t disappoint; it was still just as ridiculous. It was going to be a great laugh. The movie met those expectations and I was more please with it than I was with Deadpool.

After a tragic accidents kills his wife and has his son taken away from him, Derek Zoolander has sequestered himself away. His pity party is crashed by Billy Zane who tells him he has been grieving for long enough and it was time to get back to work so he could get his son back. He is reconnected with Hansel who can’t stand him because the accident left Hansel scarred and ruined his carrier. But the two must put aside their issues and get to the bottom of why media stars are being killed.

Zoolander beats out Bill Pullman’s character in Ruthless People as the stupidest human635907104884099048-ZL2-12177R being alive. And it’s funny because this is a pooling of various idiotic statement people have actually made. When humanity’s various stupidity is put into one person, its collectively hilarious and believable. But that is all that is realistic about this. Every other event and plot point is exaggerated with great glee. For a time you are taken out of the violence and seriousness of the real world and get a chance to laugh. Here fictional male models ironically due what models are suppose to do: transport you to another place weather it is the runway, the visions in a fashion designers mind, or to a world were there is someone more stupid than Donald Trump.

The two movie are so polar that is it hard to compare them especially at what is a better movie. Zoolander made me laugh more and gave me just what I was expected. Deadpool didn’t meet my expectation but gave me some glorious shots of Ryan’s Reynolds butt.

The Force is Fit for Fans

n a world where sequels and prequels run rampant, it was as no surprise that Disney would bring back the Star Wars franchise. What was uncertain was the quality of the films would be produced. The Disney brand almost certainly lends to a viable sequel but fans were left with a taste in their mouth after the mediocre prequels from years before. Add J.J. Abrams (someone with good idea but usually ruins them when he executes them) and the trepidation for The Force Awakens was mighty.
While I understand not spoiling the story, I really don’t like not knowing what the story is about and the movie handles that in the first two minutes. Basically Luke has disappeared after a tragedy involving training new Jedi. Han and Leia have drifted apart; Han has gone back so a life of smuggling but Leia is still looking for her brother. Meanwhile, a new crop of heroes join in the pursuit of Luke: Rey, an orphan abandoned on Jakku, Finn a Storm Trooper who defects, and Poe Leia’s best fighter pilot who is instrumental in battle against The First Order. I’ll keep these spoiler free (I’ll save those till the very end past the photos).
The movie pays homage to the original three films. But this becomes one of the few drawbacks. The first fifteen minutes are pretty much recap of things that have been done in the originals. This quickly gets boring but doesn’t last very long. The movie quickly begins to stand on it own while blending past characters with future characters seamlessly. But you can create checklist of things from the originals and play a drinking game with it. A cantina? Take a drink. A villain with a screwy voice? Chug! The only issue is that the end but I won’t discusses it until after the cut.
With a strong story, The Force Awakens looks great. CGI and technology have come along way but it still visually feels like Star Wars. The characters are developed as the movie progresses with out falling back on stereotypes. Abram does not screw this up. This was a fear I had after Star Trek but here he doesn’t stray away from the things original fans loved but made it accessible to a new generation. Luckily, he doesn’t have to back up his work in the sequels; this won’t be like Alias, where after the second season everything went down hill. I thank Disney for this, for there dedication of not ruining the legacy.
If you’ve seen it, then we have SO much to discuss. Skip down to below the pictures and we’ll kick some ideas around. If you haven’t seen the film, move along there is nothing to see here.

HERE BE SPOILERS
Let’s talk that ending. While it was imperative to see Luke, condemning her travel to him into a five minute time span stinks of the issues that plaque the prequels. Plus, Luke never says anything to Rey when she finds him. This is the moment where he should have announced who her parents were. But nothing was learned or benefited by this exchange. The film could have easily ended with her getting the Millennium Falcon and taking off and then cut to Luke watching and waiting for her arrival. While this is a small issue, it could mean that the pacing for the next film will be ruined.
Parentage is a big issue. With Luke being the last Jedi, we knew that Kylo Ren and Rey had to be related to someone. They came right out about Ren to move the story with Han along. But the writers fed you bits and pieces as they went and overly hinted at her being Luke’s daughter. But could this be a red herring? I certainly think so. I believe that she will be another child of Han and Leia’s. Since twins run in the family and the fear of the force going to the Dark Side, it’s not a stretch to think that they separated her from her brother to keep her safe. What proof do we have in the film? There are two notable moments: the first being when Ren take off his helmet and the two share a charged moment. It wasn’t sexually and was more than just the force clashing between them; it was loaded with recognition and importance. Plus, they looked a lot alike. Next, you have Han’s paternal feelings for her. This is odd in the loner and its possible that he doesn’t know that she is that second child. This also repeats themes from the first films which The Force Awakens has done since the opening minutes.
And finally, I should address Han himself. Many people had no idea that he was going to die and have intimated that I had been spoiler spelunking before I went on opening night. This is outright insulting. In fact, I knew because Ford has been talking about it for YEARS. Just by reading interviews with him, I have known his desire for Han’s death and that it would happen this film. ( While, I don’t make fun of people who didn’t figure it would happened, I was pissed that people would throw hate my way.) But I knew this info before I knew that Han would be such a pivotal role in this movie. Han has arguably been the character that was the moving force in the franchise (the only other character we could argue would be the Darth man himself), and he continues to be so in the Force Awakens. I don’t say this to belittle the other characters. But it will affect the upcoming films. We now know that all the characters would show up in the next film (Star Wars often overcomes death, so this won’t be an issue), but what will the films be like without him as a driving force?
I look forward to the next film and am very annoyed that it will be so long before we get the next installment. But that does give us plenty of time to develop our fan theories.

All We Are Are Spectres in the Wind

Explosions, car chases and gun fights are a plenty as Bond slays an octopus and saves the word. Spectre is a fun ride with a succinct focus that tidily wraps up the Daniel Craig era.
Bond finds a link to an underground organization after a visit to Mexico city where his destruction makes the national news. This is critical mistake for MI6- the 00 Project is threatening to be disband as MI-6 takes over with a new system that watches everyone 24/7. Bond takes no head when, by the help of Q, he sneaks off toff after being grounded by the newest M. But what they don’t know that the previous M left a clue to her death behind. Bond will stop at nothing to avenge her and get to the bottom of Spectre and its intersection in his life.

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The is what viewers love about bond: foreign beauties, ridiculous stunts, and snappy one liners. But t the iconic lines of James Bond fall from Craig’s mouth like stale bread. It is hard to tell if it is the writing or the acting. Craig’s distaste at ever being Bond again is a good thing. This means we don’t habv to watch him an his route performance. As usual, he shows off his body but does nothing on the acting front. Christopher Waltz is great as the typical over acting villain, and Dave Batista has become this generations Tor Johnson. The true standout performance is Ben Whishaw as Q. He is witty, brave and often the humorous release for the film. Whinshaw is the best casting choice since Dame Judi Dench as M.
The plot is thin and shake which is typical of many of the films and the twist at the end you will have seen coming since early in the film. But it truly doesn’t matter. Bond films are known for the thrilling chase scenes and fights. Add in a shake of humor and the movie continues to entertain.
Happily, writers conclude the stories of the last three films forming a common thread for Craig’s time as Bond. This fourth film ties all of them together. Villains past and present have a story that is wrapped in a nice shine bow connecting some of the weaker movies together. Bond finally comes face to the face to the man he has been truly hunting since Casino Royale ending the latest leg of Bond films.
Walking out of the theater leaves a better taste in Skyfall (even if the theme song doesn’t ,measure up). Viewers and Bond get closure as the franchise looks to the future. Until the studio decides on what is next for fond, Spectre is a nice little meal to tide you over.

A Story with Ghosts in It

Guillermo del Toro’s latest film Crimson Peak has picked up a lot of hype as a horror movie. But what is Chrisom Peak exactly? And how does it stack up to his other works.

Edith was visited by the ghost of her mother as a child and it warned her from Crimson Peak. But that cryptic message becomes less of a concern as she grew into adulthood.  Edith must entertain the advances of her childhood friend Dr. Alana McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) and exotic stranger (Tom Hiddleston) with a bad reputation while being shunned as a female author.  After her father dies, she marries Thomas Sharpe despite his bad reputation. They join his sitter in their decrepitated manor England. Once here, the ghosts come back to warn of betrayal and murder.

crimson-peak-posterThe problem with Crimson Peak is that it’s not scary. I had read that it was supposed to be scary and was highly disappointed. There was some violence and gore but no scares. My friend had to point out that it was more Gothic horror than a traditional horror movie, and I have tried to see it in that light. While it helped my perspective of the story, it did not really help with my enjoyment of the film. Del Toro is a fanboy and all his best work emulates his influences and likes but most add his own touch and makes it his. This is a love song to Gothic horror stories but adds very little new ideas other than some horrific violence.  The movie is basically “The Woman in Black” combined with “The House of Yes.” Taking ideas, atmospheres, and stories from a plethora of sources (Poe, Bronte just to name a few) they are hodgepodged together with little subtlety. The writing treats us like children showing us that they are telling a version of Jane Eyre with Mary Shelley undertones. We have to guess nothing that happens as we know how these stories play out. It reminds you in exposition that it is a romance and it is a story with ghosts in it (seemingly to fight off the mislead advertising for the film). This is insulting to the viewers and lacks the nuance of so many of Del Toro’s past works.

Jessica Chastain steals the movie and too much time is spent on Mia Wasikowska’s naive and inspecting lead character that sees specters. It is Chastain that moves the movie forward, the one that gets to play a smart and fierce woman.  But as her character’s persona denigrates, her performance crescendos. The other actors can’t keep up with her Hiddleston and Hunnam are all passable but not overly inspiring. There characters just seem to be fuel for Chastain’s playground There is only one other character that stands out so some much.crimson-peak-jessica-chastain-hiddelston-mia-wasikowska-00063r

Luckily, like most of this genre, the house becomes a character in itself and all the visuals are stunning. The house looks like other you have seen before but the deterioration and the clay that leaks from the walls and floors like blood are eerily creepy. It is the clay that leads to any kind of f horror turning everything a bloody red. The red snow is insanely creepy and is more than just a metaphor for the horrors taking place inside the house. Alas, not everything is treated with such smart double dimensions.

Unfortunately, adverting by the studio cannot contribute to the issues with the film.  Many reading this will say I am wrong, that it perfectly emulates all the classics. This is also its down fall. We del Toro fans hunger for his next project, to see how he puts himself into things that we love how he brings it into our world. But this movie didn’t do that. So the literature fan in me will subside so the nerd girl within me can start pining for Pacific Rim 2.