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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Films that need to be removed from AFI’s top film list and films that should be added.

So here are the films I think that should be removed on the AFI top 100. I’ve seen 54/100. Either they’re not good or don’t hold up. The link to the list I’m referring to is in the comments.

Keep in mind that some of these films may be very good, just not amazing in my eyes. Some just don’t hold the test of time. And just because some of them have social issues doesn’t mean they’re great. Also, you may have enjoyed some as a child/teenager and it doesn’t mean you still have to hold it in high regard now. Lastly, I’ll define something as great if you have seen the film at LEAST 3 times and/or own it.

Here are the ones that should be removed:
1. Casablanca-solid but doesn’t hold up.
3. Citizen Kane- see above.
8. Schindler’s List- It’s very good but c’mon, you’re not re-watching this film. 
15. 2001-Hated it. Never saw this on drugs and if you need to be high to see this, it’s not good.
17. The Graduate-Good but again, do any of you own it or have seen this multiple times?
31. Maltese Falcon-solid but does it hold up? No.
34. Snow White-definitely doesn’t hold up. Not in my Disney top 20 and this has nothing to do with the animation.
35. Annie Hall-I know I’m in the minority but I hate this film. Just not funny whatsoever.
36. Bridge over the River Kwai- Good but not top 100
39. Dr Strangelove-Ambien, Aziz Ansari, or this. You decide.
42. Bonnie and Clyde-Mediocre at best.
50. Lord of the Rings-enjoyed it but definitely not top 100.
51. West Side Story-nope, nope, and nope.
53. Deer Hunter-it’s fine and I think the Russian roulette scene is what put this film on the list. Otherwise, it’s nothing remarkable.
62. American Grafitti- absolutely boring, couldn’t finish this film. Put Diner in this same category except I finished Diner…begrudgingly.
64. Network-fine but not top 100. Social issue film
68. Unforgiven-very good but not top 100.
70. A Clockwork Orange-Just because it was off the wall for the time doesn’t mean it should remain on the list. It’s fine but not list worthy.
76. Forrest Gump-I’m just bitter that this film beat Shawshank and Pulp Fiction in 94. But this film is also fine, not list worthy.
81. Spartacus-Definitely doesn’t hold up, couldn’t finish during a recent rewatch.
83. Titanic-Get the fuck out of here.
84. Easy Rider-Insanely boring. Great soundtrack but a big collection of nothing. Social issue film.
89. 6th Sense-Please. I called this ending out in the theater when I saw it. You’re not rewatching this except one time after you want to see how he never directly talks to Willis. Overrated.
92. Goodfellas-Just kidding, this film is flawless.
96. Do the Right Thing-Very good but not top 100. Definitely a social issue film.
97. Blade Runner-The Emperor’s New Clothes, I just don’t see it.
100. Ben Hur-Also doesn’t hold up.

 

And now, films I believe should be on the AFI top 100. If you disagree with a selection, don’t be a queef and just say the pick sucks. Offer another film instead of the one.

1. Aladdin-Next to the Pixar films (toy story 1 is currently on the AFI list), this is the best Disney film, ever.
2. Alien/Aliens-I prefer Aliens but fully acknowledge the first was groundbreaking.
3. Back to the Future-Go ahead, find me ONE person that hates this film. Good luck.


4. Good Will Hunting-Won multiple awards and hits a ton of emotional points throughout the film.


5. Heat-First film with DeNiro and Pacino doing scenes together and it doesn’t disappoint. One of the best gun battle scenes in film history.


6. JFK-Plenty of awards and noms. And it also made America restart their curiosity of the JFK conspiracy.


7. LA Confidential-One of the best crime dramas and also scooped up a bunch of awards, including Basinger and screenplay.


8. Naked Gun/Airplane-I prefer Naked Gun ever so slightly and there needs to be comedies on this list. Those films have non stop LOL moments and these films are daily quoted.


9. Terminator 2-one of the few times the sequels is better than the first. Groundbreaking technology at the time and this story is fantastic. Again, find someone who hates this film. And if you don’t get a little teary eyed when he lowers himself into the molten steel, you’re not alive.


10. Usual Suspects-See LA Confidential and one of the best endings I’ve ever seen. Spacey and best screenplay winners


11. Untouchables-Connery wins best supporting in the tale of Al Capone. DeNiro as Capone, brilliant.


12. Bronx Tale-And for those of you that want social issues in films, here you go.


13. The Dark Knight-This film is an 7 by itself, Ledger makes it a 10. Even the biggest anti-superhero people admit this is the one which is the exception.


14. The Matrix-More revolutionary technology and what an insanely original story. This one sure makes you think..


15. Halloween-Best horror film ever that isn’t shock-centric and what a score. I daresay this is better than the Exorcist.


16. Whiplash-I think this the BEST film in the last 10 years. JK Simmons destroys as an asshole jazz teacher and he won for doing so. This script is magnificent and EASILY should’ve beaten Birdman.

Honorable mentions that I could make an argument for but I’m sure would get shot down:

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade- my favorite of the trio. And Raiders is on the AFI list so this isn’t a stretch.
2. Glengarry Glen Ross- If you like acting tour de forces, this film is for you. Take the names out of this film and you have a decent script. But Pacino, Lemmon, and obviously Baldwin chew up the scenery and make this fantastic.
3. Commando-Just kidding but goddamn, I love this film and have a huge soft spot for 80s/90s action films with a hint of cheesiness.
4. Die Hard- Find me someone who hates this film. Best Xmas film of all time!

5. Caddyshack- My favorite film and it is one of the most quoted films of all time.  Still holds up and is fucking hilarious.

 

Favorite sports films, let’s hear ’em!

Football – Any Given Sunday. Fuck you, this film is solid.
Basketball – Teen Wolf. I know everyone is supposed to put Hoosiers but I didn’t like it. Hell, I could even put in Space Jam here.
Baseball -Major League or Field of Dreams. Flip a coin
Hockey – Miracle. 2nd place: Goon. Slap Shot is overrated.
Boxing – Rocky 1-3. Cinderella Man is HORRIBLY underrated.
Gaming – Tron Legacy
Racing – Rush. Forgot about this one, good call JA and NC.
Martial Arts – Bloodsport. Any other answer is wrong.
Golf – Caddyshack!!!! Tin Cup is boring, don’t even think about it.
Murderball – Murderball
Professional Wrestling – The Wrestler
Horse Racing – Seabiscuit
Documentaries-King of Kong
Poker-Rounders
Pool-The Hustler and Poolhall Junkies

Film Review: Ready Player 1

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There are between 1-3 films I have circled every year that I absolutely cannot wait to see.  This year, it’s Avengers: Infinity War, Sicario 2 and Ready Player 1.  One is an obvious superhero sequel, the other is a sequel to what should have been nominated for best picture.  And that leaves Ready Player 1, which  is one of my favorite books of all time.  If you’re not familiar, you need to do so reallllly quickly.  It’s the story of a Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a young man who along with millions of other of citizens, take on a challenge to find a digital “Easter Egg” in the OASIS.  The OASIS is a VR world which is as real as you want to make it.  The winner of the challenge presented by recently deceased creator of the OASIS, James Halladay (Mark Rylance), wins his fortune and control of the OASIS. And of course, there is an evil CEO, Nolan Sorrento, (Ben Mendelsohn) who will stop at nothing to control OASIS. Halladay is a Bill Gates type who grew up in the 80’s, addicted to video games and films from the time.  All of his challenges have to do with both video games and films so turn the nostalgia factor on full blast.  Steven Spielberg directs this film and who better to take us down that road.

Parzival was initially against “clanning”; which is nerd speak for others joining is eventually joined by lady crush, Artemis,  ninjas Sho and Daito, and his best friend, Aech.  They call themselves, “The Top 5,” and they all mesh together quite well and especially when their real identities are given.

There are an absolute shit load of references, characters, and nods to films/video game characters throughout.  You’ll go crazy trying to keep track of whom and what you saw but I’ll give you a few: Goro from Mortal Kombat, Chun Li from Street Fighter, Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, Robocop, the baby Alien, and even caught a Jack Slater from Last Action Hero reference.  Wade Watts’s OASIS character, Parzival, even drives the DeLorean from Back to the Future with the KITT from Knight Rider lights in the front.  Movie nerds and video game nerds, rejoice.  Scoring the film are 2 juggernauts from the 80’s, John Williams (if I need you to tell you what films he’s worked on, deport yourself) and Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future trilogy).  And you’re going to hear a TON of nods from their previous films in the score.  And you will smile.

So let’s do the eventual annoying “book to film” comparison.  The book was amazing because Wade had to play Joust with one of the guardians for the keys.  Wade also had to do “film syncs”  scenes from War Games and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  In the film, they don’t do either.  The first challenge is a race, the second is a scene within, “The Shining.” And the third is playing, “Adventure” on Atari.  I wish that Spielberg would’ve chosen different challenges, including doing the film syncs.  I know that would’ve brought the same charm and allure that the book brought.  My other biggest complaint is that one of the “Top 5” die in the book but Spielberg pulls the typical “everything ending is a happy one.”  Spielberg kept a ton of the book’s integrity (also noted that RP1 writer Ernest Cline did co-write the screenplay) by tweaking a few things, like the Zemeckis cube.

This film is good and you will get sucked into it without question.  The ongoing references and nods within the score will always keep an ear to ear grin.  But those 2 omissions are glaring ones and major points are deducted for such.  Otherwise, it keeps close to the book and Spielberg does his best work in over a decade.  It will also be the perfect excuse to get your kids researching the great films and games I/we grew up on.

The book is a 10, the film is a 7.