NO SPOILERS: Film Review: Avengers Endgame

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Everybody ok?  Whew, we all made it!  Although I must confess, that wasn’t THAT bad of a dead zone (January-April) as it could’ve been.  Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of clunkers: Us, Glass, Captain Marvel, What Men Want, Up, and Alita.  I only saw Captain Marvel because I don’t like wasting time, money, or sitting with other people in mediocre or less than films.  But we did get a couple of nice surprises with Shazam (Welcome back, DC.  It only took you 4 films not including Wonder Woman since TDK trilogy to get respectable) and Fighting With My Family.  But for now: bring the bar into your lap, keep all cell phones in your pocket, and keep all hands and feet within the cart.  Hold on lady, we go for a ride!

I always circle one film on the summer calendar as my, “CAN’T WAIT” (Bart Scott impression) film.  Last year was IW, this year is Endgame.  Honorable mentions to Toy Story 4, John Wick 3, and Spiderman: Homecoming.  This is the 2nd straight year that the “summer blockbusters” begin with an absolute megaton warhead.  Last year, Avengers: Infinity War took the world by storm with an airtight plot, non-stop awe inspiring action scenes, and the snap that sent kids crying out of the theater.  Thankfully, the Russo Brothers were wise enough to film both IW and EG back to back so we didn’t have to wait but one calendar year to the day to see how they wrap up the saga.  So let’s get into it!

It’s a Thanos, post-snap world we’re living in.  The Avengers want to get back the Infinity Stones so they can undo the mass genocide which saw friends and love ones disappear into ash like an anti-smoking PSA.  They track him down and learn that Thanos has destroyed the stones so his work can’t be undone.  Bogus.  Fast forward ahead 5 years where we find the Avengers have split up but still keep in touch.  Tony Stark has a child with Pepper Potts who is quick witted and charming as he is, surprise.  Bruce Banner has found a way to become half Hulk, half Banner all the time and it makes for some pretty funny moments.  Suddenly, Ant Man reappears from the Quantum World where he has a pretty big surprise: he’s figured out time travel.  Hey everyone, let’s go back in time to get the stones before Thanos got them.  Just one problem: Stark is quite happy surviving the snap and enjoying life as a dad, living in a log cabin.  Going back in time can undo this current happiness and he doesn’t want to risk it.  Don’t worry, he changes his mind so the plot can proceed.  Next comes rounding up Thor, who has taken to living in New Asgard with a few buddies and a lot of extra pounds, thanks to beer and pizza.  Thor is also not thrilled about losing to Thanos and reliving that memory.  Don’t worry, he also changes his mind.  And lastly; we find Hawkeye has also lost his family and now lives as an assassin, killing off bad guys and not wanting to do anything else.  Don’t worry, he too, changes his mind.  Now that we’re all a big happy family again, the Avengers all go back in time to very familiar former films to find the stones.  And pay attention on how time travel is possible, they do crack a few jokes how time travel isn’t done like it is Back to the Future.  I must confess, I did feel the end of the first act was dragging a little bit but right at that moment, act 2 kicks it up a few notches.

And of course, when you go back in time, you’re going to find a younger Thanos on his original quest to procure the stones.  Joining him are Gamorra and Nebula who still believe in their father’s quest.  Of course, they catch wind of the Avengers plan and plan to intercept them before they outfox ol’ testicle chin Thanos.  What’s really cool with this second act is very Back to the Future 2 ish: the crew goes to previous films to get the stones: the Tesseract during the first Avengers film, Vormir and Red Skull, etc.  It’s fun to see them not interact with their younger selves.  What else is cool are the tertiary characters we’ve seen in other films also make reappearances which will bring a knowing nod or smile to your face.  I won’t spoil my favorite scene with an old character and the closure that occurs but man, it REALLY goes Back to the Future-ish and is really fun to witness.

No shocking revelation here, act 3 is FUCKING INSANE.  The final battle scene sent shivers right up the ol’ butthole.  It is GLORIOUS and you WILL be on the edge of your seat those last 20-30 minutes for sure.  I mean, WOW.  This is going into the pantheon of best final battle scenes in film history.  So many characters are involved and I daresay we see the best Captain Marvel stuff here vs her own disappointing film.  But make no mistake, people die in this film.  And I promise one of them will get you a bit teary eyed.

Endgame is just as close to perfect as you can draw it up.  This film should be a lynchpin of discussions when it comes to tying up any kind of film or TV series.  Every thing is buttoned up nicely and a few comic book nods occur throughout and at the end of the film. I daresay it’s time we start the conversation of having the Russo brothers of the greatest comic book film directors alongside of Christopher Nolan.  Winter Solider, Civil War, IW, and Endgame…none of those films are below an 8/10.  All of the reviews I’ve read had this 3/4 stars, 4/5 stars, 9.5/10, 97%.  And they’re all right.  IW was so good, it was going to be almost impossible to match.  But Endgame does just that.  This is an absolute masterpiece and unlike last year’s snub, should ABSOLUTELY be involved in the Best Picture discussion.  Because we all know IW was MUCH better than Black Panther.  And this year, there is no distraction for a Marvel film of this caliber to be denied.  My ONLY knock is it did drag a TAD, maybe knock off 5-10 minutes and then this baby is a flawless pearl.

I give this a 9/10 and will definitely see this again in the next few weeks.

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Double Dip Film Reviews: Pet Semetary and Shazam!

Yep, been a little while.  But don’t blame me, blame the slop we’ve been forced to sit through since the new year:  

I watched “Aquaman”, meh.  I did see, “Fighting With My Family.”  Enjoyed it and a nice chunk was the few scenes the Rock was in.  Vince Vaughn also solid in this.  Those are words not many people have written in over 10 years.  Also saw “Captain Marvel.”  Look, it wasn’t as bad as some people made it out to be but it certainly wasn’t good.  And the only thing missing was Samuel L Jackson wearing a postman’s uniform in that film.  Cause he mailed that shit in, big time.  The jokes failed, big time.  But they had the best Stan Lee cameo, big time.  

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Honestly is the best policy, except when it comes to dealing with your wife.  I had no desire to see the new Pet Semetary film.  Never read the book, never saw the original film.  But the reviews were coming in much more positively than I expected.  I also expect the Stephen King remakes will be held to a higher caliber as It was fantastic.  So here we go:

Louis Creed (Jason Clarke of the unfortunate Terminator: Genisys) is moving his family up to the country.  Wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and kids Ellie and Gage (Jete Laurence and Hugo Lavoie) along with their cat, Church which is short for Churchill.  No reason given for naming the cat after a Gary Oldman character.  The house the family move into happens to be adjacent to a creepy pet cemetery.  Next door lives Jud (John Lithgow from the evergreen Harry and the Hendersons) who just may know what exactly is going on with said cemetery.  

Cue things going bump in the night, premonitions, the usual suspects of horror films.  Poor Church decides to go one on with a tractor trailer and ends up like a Mortal Kombat Fatality victim.  Neighbor Jud (who would ever saddle their kid with that name) suggests that burying the cat beyond the pet cemetery may benefit the Creed family.  Well guess what?  That’s an Indian burial ground past the cemetery and good ol’ Church just happens to cash in on 1 of the 9 lives.  Although he looks like he just spent all night raging at a fraternity party and ripping off 14 straight wins in beer pong.  Oh wait, that was me, 20 years ago.  

I’ll bet you, gentle reader, that you think that even though that Church may not be the same lovable feline he was before the resurrection.  And you’d be right.  He hisses and scratches more people than a 14 year old girl in a lunchroom brawl.  And then this of course, sends everyone into a panic and more bad things start to happen.  Apparently, one of the major events was changed from the book to this film and yes, King gave his blessing for the change.  And now we’ve crossed into spoiler territory so I shall now circle the wagons.

This film is enjoyable, it delivered what it promised.  Gave me a few jumps, not any cheap scares.  Foresaw most of the ending but the very end, didn’t see that angle.  I did wish they better explained the scene with the procession of children wearing pet masks and why they were doing it.  Otherwise, it’s a fine and fun watch.  Must you see it in a theater?  Not a must.  Will you feel disappointed after dropping $15 on it?  I don’t think so.  

6.5 out of 10

 

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DC Films is like the Sword in the Stone.  Many people tried pulling out the sword without success as DC has pumped out poor film after mediocre/decent film.  Man of Steel, Justice League, Suicide Squad, Batman v Superman…all awful.  Wonder Woman was fine, Aquaman was meh.  And now we have, Shazam.  The guy anyone barely remembers from the Justice League cartoon but had one hell of an entrance.  Now DC drops this into our collective laps, hoping this bird flies after being thrown out of the nest instead of crashing to earth. Avengers: Endgame is out in 3 weeks, this is their only chance to get a hold of something until the Joker comes out in fall.  How does it fare?  Let’s go to the videotape!  

Shazam is the story of Billy Batson, a 14 year old foster kid constantly looking for his mother whom he lost at a winter fair when he was 3.  Billy finds himself escaping bullies on a subway in Philadelphia (No, his superpowers aren’t avoiding white trash or mouth breathing Eagles fans) when he’s suddenly transported to a wizard, also a Shazam, seeking a replacement for his powers.  By yelling, “Shazam!”, Billy turns into the bigger and even older superhero.  The lighthearted approach of discovering Shazam’s superpowers as well as coming of life experiences with his fellow foster brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Glazer) pays off in spades.  The trial and error method while the boys upload their videos to youtube is quite humorous.  It’s kind of Deadpool-ish without the R rated dick jokes.  Not that I’m opposed to them by any stretch though.  What’s the second most important aspect of a superhero film?  Tits.  Just kidding.  Well, they never have those in films unless it’s Barb Wire which was nothing short of a method of torture outlawed by the Geneva Convention.  The villain, you chowderheads!  Mark Strong plays Thaddeus Silvana, one who was also was interviewed by the previous Shazam wizard but had failed the test.  He wants that power and goddamnit, he’s not stopping at nothing to get it.  Silvana enlists the help of the 7 Deadly Sins who are lizard-like that are named after the, ding, 7 deadly sins.  

Well, let’s give credit where credit is due.  This film breaks the streak of shitty/mediocre DC films not named Batman.  Bale, not Affleck.  C’mon, we’re civilized here.  This film is rock solid except for the final battle does lag a bit.  I also observed Batson’s foster family noticeably checks the multicultural boxes: Asian boy, Asian girl, black girl, Hispanic boy, Samoan dad, Hispanic mom, white girl, white guy.  This film hits all marks and finally correctly copies from the Marvel playbook.  Funny how DC has a better film out there now than Marvel does.  I’m MOST shocked that this made ~54 million opening weekend while Aquaman opened to 67 million.  This film is FAR superior to that bread sandwich.

7.5 out of 10 

Film reviews: Won’t You Be My Neighbor and Incredibles 2

We’re in mid-June, right in the sweet spot for summer film releases.  The last few years have had weaker slates of films.  How are we looking for summer 2018?  Pretty darn good, enough to keep you busy so you won’t have to pretend to give a shit about the World Cup.  Let’s stop the charade, people.  You only to claim to care about soccer during the world cup just to seem appeasing to Europeans and temporarily enjoying a sport primarily for 7 year olds.  

Avengers 3: Amazing

A Quiet Place: Solid

Deadpool 2: Solid

Solo: Fine 

I’ve heard Hereditary was excellent and Ocean’s 8 is surprisingly good.  And in the next few weeks:

Jurassic Park 34: Laura Dern’s crow’s feet look like she fought a raptor.

Sicario 2: A solid attempt to make us forget about the complete waste of time Benicio Del Toro was in Last Jedi.

This week, a documentary and a sequel blockbuster.  

Here I am, recreating the infamous shoe flip.35363327_10217446230854565_32544891347140608_o

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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Congratulations go to this film as the only trailer that made me tear up.  30 seconds in and I’m welling up like being stuck in a car with someone cutting Indian food fueled farts.  You see, Mr Rogers and Sesame Street formed my early years of TV watching.  Those shows as well as Card Sharks, Press Your Luck, and Price is Right.  I had a thing for Plinko, Barker’s beauties, and white trash getting excited about winning a 1984 Toyota Corolla.  Mr Roger’s Neighborhood was one of my childhood memories that always bring a smile to my face.  He always made you feel safe and appreciated.  Mr Rogers hit on social issues like Vietnam, RFK’s death, and racial harmony.  He even un-retired to discuss 9/11 for his audience.  If he were alive today, I could easily see him talking to children about lockdowns in schools.   He TRULY gave a shit about kids and their feelings as well as fears.  Mr Rogers is one of the celebrities that would break my heart if he was ever outed as a pervert, child neglector, or Eagles fan.  

The film begins as he embarks on his post college career, deciding to get into TV over seminary school.  Mr Rogers eventually became an ordained minister and one fun fact is everyone interviewed made sure to disclose he never shoved religion down your throat nor through his show.  But you can see from his roots that his dedication to helping kids navigate through childhood was second to none.  It didn’t take long for his show to make its way to the stratosphere.  One scene you just can’t help your lip from quivering is where a little girl comes up to him and says, “Mr. Rogers, can I tell you something?  I like you.”  And he says, “I like you too.”  You see him visiting with countless sick children and watching their unbridled joy as he pulls out his puppets to temporarily brighten their lives.

Everyone from Fred’s wife and kids to cast and crew talk about him in the highest regard.  Yes, he was “like that” all the time.  No, he wasn’t gay.  You can thank him for saving PBS by testifying in front of a cranky Senator and swaying him with an inspiring tale of the importance of children’s programs.  One story they didn’t breach is the tale of how his car was stolen but once the thieves realized that the car belonged to Mr. Rogers, they immediately returned it with an apologetic note.  After googling (the only way to verify anything by reading the top 2 entries), this story was never verified by any of his family or close friends.  Mr Rogers also never spoke of this incident.  

And this goes out to the MPAA: How in the flying fuck is this film rated PG-13?  I believe they said, “ass” once.  They showed clips of someone saying dick and bastard.  Some footage of the Vietnam War and they showed a picture of a crew member mooning the camera.  THAT gets a PG-13?  You people need to remove that eyelash from your nether regions and calm down.

This film is nothing short of nostalgic magic.  The opening theme song got me teared up.  Him visiting kids, changing his shoes and clothes, as well as talking about horrific events in the news make your eyes puff up.  And hearing, “It’s Such a Good Feeling,” to end the film had the tears flowing too.  I don’t believe in God whatsoever.  BUT if there was one person who should be canonized and is as perfect as a person you could create, it’s Fred Rogers.  The man truly inspires others, even in death, to be better and caring.  My daughter just turned 3 and she’s a rabid Daniel Tiger fan, an offshoot cartoon of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  And I can’t wait until to show her MRN reruns on youtube.  I’ll just have a box of tissues nearby, just like when I watch ET again for the 193rd time.  Now excuse me while I go watch Bloodsport and Commando to get this lump out of my throat.

Absolutely loved this film and have tissues at arms length, 9/10.

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Pixar has birthed an insane number of hits: Toy Story 1-3, Coco, Monster Inc 1 and 2, and of course, the Incredibles.  Besides Marvel, name a studio that has this high of a batting average.  I get it, each of those studios only release 2-3 films a year but when they do come out, it’s rarely below “good.”  14 years later, the sequel has come out with all of the main voices returning: Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter (her lisp is quite noticeable at times), and Samuel L Jackson.  The Incredibles are a family of superheroes and in this installment, they learn the baby of the family, Jack Jack, has not one but multiple superpowers.  Mom/Elasticgirl is tasked with joining a pilot program to help lift the ban on superheroes; financed and created by Winston Deavor and his sister, Evelyn, voiced  Saul Goodman and Catherine Keener.  Which leaves Mr Incredible to watch the kids while Mom is off fighting crime and enjoying her time in the spotlight.

I didn’t rewatch the first Incredibles before seeing this but I felt it captured all of the fun elements from the first one.  Watching Mr. Incredible play Mr. Mom is quite funny as well as helping his daughter, Violet, get over a boy standing her up is also quite amusing.  I found myself trying to figure out where the reveal is with the villain and the motive throughout the film instead of enjoying the ride.  Brad Bird, who also wrote and directed the first one, does a great job of the reveal and ends with a flourish.  

There’s no need to break this film down any further, you get exactly what you come in expecting from this franchise and studio:  a smart, well-written script infused with humor and leaving wanting more.  Although this film clocks in at just under 2 hours, it’s still a well paced ride.  My only ask is that they don’t wait another 14 years for Incredibles 3.  And they will as it’s grossed 180 million opening weekend.  Hear that?  That’s Disney executives high fiving over another money printing press is firing on all cylinders.

Fantastic watch, 8/10.

 

Film Reviews: Solo and Deadpool 2

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The Merc with the Mouth is back.  If you aren’t familiar with Deadpool, picture a taller Tucker Max in a red uniform as he slashes and shoots shit up.  This time, he’s back to save a pudgy British mutant whose name is, ahem, Fire Fist.  Yes, DP has a great laugh or 2 about it.  Ryan Reynolds reprises the lead role while Josh Brolin plays Cable, the time traveling badass hellbent on killing said Limey.  But first, we witness Deadpool’s love interest, played by “Gotham” hottie. Morena Baccarin, eat a bullet.  Deadpool wrangles with this loss throughout the film but not without his usual amount of zingers, barbs, and witty repartee.  As we saw in the first one, the Xmen are still trying to recruit him and yes, it’s more of Colossus and Megasonic Teenage Warhead.  Deadpool reluctantly joins the group in hopes of stopping Cable while hilarity ensures.  After being kicked out of the X-Men for extreme force, he creates his own superhero team…X-Force.  I’m not spoiling anything, you’ve all seen this in the commercials.

This films is more of the usual: DP incorporating campy music during fight scenes.  Ball busting on all sides, pulverizing the 4th wall and dropping a well placed self deprecating joke or crack about superhero films.  Cable is a fantastic villain (?) and Brolin handles this as well as he handled Thanos.  And yes, they do make reference to him playing both roles.  DP2 is funnier than the first and goddamn, the post credits scene is hysterical.  However, I felt this one dragged at times, especially in the end.  I liked this but slightly prefer the first one more.  I just felt the first one flowed a little better.  7 out of 10.

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And now, the film that shall be on everyone’s hit list for the summer, Solo.  Look, I came into this film with little expectation as I did with Rogue 1.  I walked out of R1, absolutely stunned how great it was.  The previews for Solo didn’t grab me but I said, what the hell.  Moviepass this one and then sneak into DP2 is a hell of a way to spend an afternoon.  Is this legit good or have we completely swung into the dark side of the Disney cash grab?

Han Solo joins Tobias Beckett (no relation to Samuel) and his crew of smugglers/thieves/rogue scoundrels to steal Coaxium (getting tough to come up with names for metals with all of these superhero films) for a gangster name Dryden Vos (played by Paul Bettany.  Good for him taking time out playing Vision and motor boating his wife, the lovely Jennifer Connelly).

Alden Ehrenreich plays everyone’s swashbuckling hero not named Kevin Gootee.  Apparently, those in casting didn’t care that Alden seems to be on the Tom Cruise scale of height.  When Emilia Clarke is damn near eye level to your hero, you might want to consider someone a bit taller.  I’ve read people trashing Ehrenreich’s performance and I think we have to cut the guy a little bit of slack.  Han Solo is one of the top film characters of all time and obviously, Harrison Ford killed it.  You just can’t replace someone of that ilk so you can’t expect someone to come in and take the baton with ease.

We get to see how that scruffy nerfherder and Chewbacca meet and I dare you not to smile when you see that walking carpet onscreen, especially during their witty banter.  There are obviously a ton of foreshadowing nods to the other films and a few inside jokes for uber Star Wars nerds, even a few music homages throughout.  And lastly, we get to see Donald Glover play Lando Calrissian and are shown how the 2 heroes become unlikely friends.  Glover is alright, let’s not break our arms high fiving him for his performance.  We get more sassiness from a robot, l7-37, and even some awkward man-robot sexual tension in this film.

And now the jury will read the verdict:  As I previously stated, I had set a low bar for this film.  And I walked out saying, “It’s fine.”  You’re not going to hate it as you hated episode 1.  But you sure as shit aren’t putting it in your top 5 of Star Wars films, that’s for damn sure.  I write this article on Sunday, May 27th.  The box office numbers are estimated that it made 83 million over the weekend and will hit 101 million on Memorial Day.  This should be the missive that the Disney executives take seriously.  You knew Disney viewed this franchise like Marvel, both money printing presses.  But fans don’t need filler until the next major Star Wars film.  One of my friends on FB said if this came out first, there would never be another origin story.  The success of Rouge 1 definitely opened Pandora’s box for these offshoot stories.  If Solo were to have done well, we would probably be subjected to more origin stories like: Mon Mothma, Salacious Crumb, and Wedge Antilles.  So let’s thank the masses they stayed home like it was the 4th Madea film.  I give it a 6 out of 10.

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“In a Quiet Place” was downright bonkers.  It’s the story of an alien invasion (I know, BTDT) BUT this type is different.  The aliens rely solely on sound to hunt the human race. John Kraszinski and Emily Blount have a family in upstate NY and they do everything in their power to minimize sound: walk on sand while barefoot, use sign language, as well as colored lights as signals.  Oh, let’s also mention Emily Blunt has to give birth while being as quiet as possible.  If you can still go see this in a theater, do it.  Because there is NO score to this film and hopefully you don’t have any assholes chew on popcorn or open cellophane wrappers during the movie.  It sounds corny but the quiet plays a HUGE role into the film as well your experience in the theater.  Loved it, it’s this year’s “Get Out,” in terms of surprise hit.  7 out of 10.

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“Avengers: Infinity War”…if you haven’t seen it, then you simply hate life.   The film hits the ground running as Thanos decides to stop letting all of the other super villains strike out by taking it upon himself to grab the Infinity Stones.  What’s the big deal?  One snap of the fingers after getting all 5 and then a simple snap of the fingers can cause half of  planets’ populations to die in hopes of slowing down the drain on planets’ resources.  I’d love to snap my fingers and have all improv comedians disappear as well as people who stand at the top of subway steps or in the middle of the sidewalk. BEST Marvel film of all and it has one of the dubious honors of being 2:30 long and at the end, you’re still wanting more.  9 out of 10.