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: Mission Impossible Fallout

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It’s time to face facts.  Tom Cruise is the greatest actor of our time.  He’s done it all except win multiple Oscars.  And films are the one medium that doesn’t need hardware to measure success.  Tom Cruise bats .800 in my book, he’s almost as successful as Emily Ratajkowski giving me a boner.  Cruise’s filmography is as impressive as the lack of cleanliness in a Taco Bell bathroom: Mission Impossible series, Collateral, Risky Business, Rain Man, Edge of Tomorrow, Minority Report, Eyes Wide Shut (Nicole Kidman is just magical) and American Made to name a few.  Daniel Day Lewis is amazing but he doesn’t have the rewatchability nor financial successes that Cruise has.  Same goes for DiCaprio but I’ll accept Tom Hanks as a viable contestant.  Early critic reviews had described this latest installment of Mission Impossible as the “Skyfall” or “Dark Knight” of the franchise.  Is it?  Let’s find out.

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, a much more entertaining version of Jason Bourne.  Hunt and his perfect multicultural team of Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg drop the ball in the film’s opening sequence by letting plutonium get away from them while the Syndicate (callback from MI: Rogue Nation) is trying to create bombs to nuke the world and start from scratch.  I think we should just start calling this plot line, “The Thanos Snap.”

Hunt runs into Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), MI-6 agent who he battled with in Rogue Nation, as she’s trying to stop Hunt from transferring Lane (also from RN) to the terrorists with the plutonium.  Action ensues, a lot of action.  You know how every MI film has at least one insane action sequence?  The climbing of the hotel in Dubai.  Climbing up an airplane during take off.  This film has at least 5 of those, “get the fuck out of here” moments.  Why does this film work so well?  Those insane aforementioned action sequences as well as a fantastic plot.  Different twists as well as this the first film in the franchise that calls back to previous films.  Hunt’s wife, Michelle Monaghan, from MI-3 returns in a pretty cool story arc.

The ONLY “knock” is this clocks in at 2.5 hours.  Does it drag?  Not one bit.  But some people are sticklers on time.  But the action and plot skyrocket this film as the best of the franchise.  So yes, this is indeed the Dark Knight and Skyfall of this series.  MI: FO is a goddamn tour de force and I shall probably see this again in the theaters.

I give it a 9.5, this film is damn near flawless.

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.