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.

Film Review: Black Panther

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Black Panther has taken the world by storm, both the film and the cologne.  To be frank, I had no desire to see this film.  I also had no desire to see Ant Man and Dr. Strange and was pleasantly surprised by both.  I also had no desire to see Batman V Superman and the first 2 Thor films and hated them all.  I wasn’t familiar with Black Panther growing up; he was as tertiary as Ant Man and Dr. Strange so why make an entire film about him?    It opened on Rotten Tomatoes at 99%; which made me afraid that with today’s racial climate, people would inflate their scores to come off as “woke” and not racist.  Is white guilt playing a role in the success of this film?  Is this going to get the female Ghostbusters/Wonder Woman treatment?  Who shot first, Han or Greedo?  Clearly Greedo shot first and missed and any of you who think otherwise is wrong.

Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to Wakanda, his home country in Africa, after the death of his father in Captain America 3.  Wakenda sits on a treasure trove of Vibranium, the same stuff his suit and Captain America’s shield is made of.  They’re a technologically advanced nation although they hide their success right in plain sight to blend in with the other African nations.  T’Challa becomes king of Wakanda and has his family that supports him in many ways.  His sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), plays Q to Panther’s James Bond.  His mother, (Angela Bassett) is queen of Wakanda.  Daniel Kuluuya (Get Out) plays T’Challa’s best friend and solider.  Panther also has an army of kickass women soldiers that protect him, including his ex, Lupita Nyong’o.  We learn that N’Jobu, Panther’s uncle, was killed while stationed on Earth.  Enter Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan), Panther’s cousin; who is hellbent on revenge for his father’s death and through military training, will stop at nothing to kill T’Challa and take over as King of Wakanda.  Killmonger wants to supply all suppressed minorities around the world with the Vibranium and technology so they can no longer be the little guy.

Are there nods to any of the other Marvel characters?  Very, very few.  Andy Serkis reprises his role as Klaw, an arms dealer who fought off the Avengers in Cap 3.  Other than that, no other call backs to the other Marvel films except the end credits which I won’t spoil.  Now, for the social themes.  A lot of people are talking about the female empowerment in this film.  Those lady bodyguards do kick ass and it’s not contrived one bit.  It’s completely believable and they’re a welcome mixture of action and comedy.  Director Ryan Coogler does a fantastic job of portraying African rituals and pride while spinning the tale of Black Panther.  I’ve seen a lot of people post on social media this is the best comic book film ever.  It’s not.  I’ve seen some people post that Killmonger is the best villain in a comic book film ever.  He’s very, very good but c’mon, not the best.  Heath Ledger as the Joker will be damn near impossible to unseat and I’ll even throw Magneto, Green Goblin,  and Vulture (Michael Keaton) in that group of untouchables.  Is this film as a masterpiece like others pain it to be?  No.  I felt that it drag a tad here and there.  The action was solid, the plot flowed smoothly, and the jokes worked.  But it’s damn solid and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And I’ll bet that you will as well.

Score of 7.5/10

Movie review: Deadpool

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Here we are, Valentine’s Day weekend and what USUALLY comes out this weekend in the theaters are lazy romantic comedies (How to Be Single.  Can we just throw a saddle on Rebel Wilson already?) or sequels that no asked for (Zoolander 2.  My streak of not seeing Ben Stiller movies is intact since I wasted 90 minutes on that piece of donkey shit, Tower Heist.)  Thankfully, the prodigies at Marvel studios picked a perfect time to drop their first superhero film of the year (Captain America 3 and XMen Apocalypse come in April and May) and Marvel opens with a hit.  

For those of you who haven’t completely blocked Wolverine: Origins out of your minds yet, you’ll recall Ryan Reynolds was in that film, playing Deadpool.  You’ll also remember how that abortion of a film mutilated (pun intended) a perfectly good character and didn’t let Reynolds do the wisecrackin’ for more than 10 minutes until they literally sewed his mouth shut. Thankfully, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick let Reynolds do what he does best, crack wise while even shitting on Wolverine: Origins and Reynolds’s other shitbag superhero “effort”, the Green Lantern.  For those of you not familiar with Deadpool, think Van Wilder (Reynolds breakthrough film) who cuts off bad guys heads.  The self-deprecating humor works as does some of the other dick and fart joke material.  Hey, that’s the character!  Some film reviewers get tight assed about that and that’s why no one takes the majority of them seriously.  You mean to tell me nearly EVER 18th century period piece gets at least 3.5 stars out of 4?  No thanks, sometimes people just want to laugh and watch shit blow up.  

Obviously, this is the origin story and Reese and Wernick do a great job of telling it efficiently.  They also bring Colossus from the Xmen as well as Negasonic Teenage Warhead.  I had no idea who she is and apparently, she was short lived in the comic book.  I felt the addition of Colossus and NTW didn’t bring anything to the table; it felt like an obvious tie in for the future Xmen films.  So that’s pretty much it for any superhero crossover discussions.

What I liked:

Reynolds jokes are fucking hysterical, couldn’t tell you the last recent film (or even comedy) I LOLed that much.

The flow was perfect, everything wrapped up nicely in 100 minutes.

This is by FAR, the best Stan Lee cameo you’ll ever see.  Not even close

This is by FAR, the best Marvel end credit scene, EVER. 

What I didn’t like:

Probably the weakest villain in a superhero film I’ve ever seen.  He’s the consistent English bad guy you’ve seen in every action film, ever.  I’m not familiar with the Deadpool comic book and maybe this guy is the Joker or Magneto of Deadpool but if he is, snore.  No charisma, nothing remarkable at all.  

Gina Carano plays Angel Dust.  I had no idea who she was; she wasn’t explained at all except she’s strong.  Nothing substantial about her either…moving along.

The Colossus and NTW addition seemed like a good idea on paper but weren’t orchestrated properly.  It feels contrived and by the end, you don’t care when they show up in the final battle.

This is the first rated R Marvel studios film (the first rated R comic book film was Blade) and it deserves it.  Plenty of violence, cursing, and nudity…just what a growing boy or girl needs.  Congrats also go to TJ Miller for finally landing a role where I don’t want to punch him in the face.  

I totally dug Deadpool but I think it will rank 3rd of this year’s Marvel films.  And that’s not a shot at Deadpool, I just have super high expectations for Cap 3 (seriously, the trailer is fucking bonkers and Cap 2 was goddamn amazing) and XMen Apocalypse (trailer again is bonkers, Singer is directing again, and this is Marvel’s crown jewel for a reason.)

I give it a 7/10, it’s totally worth 15 bucks but no need for IMAX or 3D.  And drag your gf/wife to this because honestly, do you want to see Rebel Wilson clogging up a movie screen?  She’s just biding her time until Melissa McCarthy passes over the “annoying fat girl who farts/burps/says inappropriate things” crown.