Deadpool

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cvkqtaoukaagbhs

[Spoiler-free]

This is a movie that understands itself, sets a reasonable goal, and achieves it.  That may seem like faint praise, but considering that many movies miss that mark, it’s actually quite an achievement.  Deadpool isn’t revolutionary, but it has all the elements necessary to meet fans’ demands and keep them thoroughly entertained.

Element #1: Humor
Deadpool is “The Merc a Mouth.”  He is supposed to be a talkative, joking wise-ass, lovable and irritating at the same time.  Ryan Reynolds nails it, and the rest of the cast/movie tone is good too.  The jokes run the gambit from dick jokes and potty humor to gallows humor and 4th-wall breaking.

Element #2: The 4th Wall
One of the traits that sets Deadpool apart from so many other humorous and/or anti-hero characters is how he breaks the 4th wall, a trait alive and well in this movie.  The 4th wall is broken frequently, and other movies by Fox and/or Ryan Reynolds are skewered in the process.

Element #3: R-Rating
Look, blood!  People get shot and stabbed and blown up, and there’s actually blood and gore to accompany it!  And there’s skin: full-on frontals of naked women, man-butts, and even a faint penis cameo.  There are sex scenes – yes, plural – and torture scenes too.  Captain America would not approve of this movie.

Element #4: Romance
In the comics Deadpool is not a complete stranger to romance, and the love story they chose for this movie works surprisingly well.  I’m not a fan of typical “chick flick” romances, but this is more realistic than sappy, striking a nice tone that actually made me care about it rather than wishing it would just end already.

I think this movie may make production companies rethink their PG-13 vs R stances.  Deadpool proves that if done right, you can have your chimichangas and eat them too.

Rating: 8.5/10

USA_Today_Podium

Debate time!  There are some debates revolving around the Deadpool movie that I feel the need to jump into.

1.) Deadpool is a poor parody.
This argument says that Deadpool is out to skewer traditional comic book movies, that it’s supposed to make fun of them and do something totally different, but then falls flat or is actually hypocritical because it falls into some of the same tropes it’s making fun of.

Yes, the character Deadpool makes fun of a lot of comic book tropes, namely because he’s aware that he’s in a comic book and therefor has more awareness of said tropes.  And yet, Deadpool is a comic book character, just one in a large, traditional comic universe.  So while he is able to make fun of it, he’s destined to have a number of similarities with traditional comic book characters/stories.  He’s just supposed to give you a wink and a nudge, acknowledge what you’re thinking, and have fun with it.

2.) Deadpool isn’t the first rated-R comic movie.
Apparently some people are mad that so many are praising Deadpool for being rated-R because there are other rated-R comic book movies that came before it.  My response: Deadpool is the first FUN rated-R comic book movie.  Of the earlier rated-R comic book movies I’ve watched, the only one I found somewhat enjoyable was V for Vendetta. 300 was nothing but a mindless testosterone-fest, and Watchmen was an overhyped, pretentious load of bulls*** that took me 2 attempts to finish.  And every older R-rated comic book movie I can think of is serious, dark, and/or depressing.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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ForceAwakens

I’ll start with a short, vague review, then dive into spoilers after the warning.

There are a number of very familiar elements in this movie.  They can bring waves of nostalgia, or they might feel a tad lazy or maybe even desperate, like the movie is saying “Love me, love me!”  Different people will have different reactions, and my reactions to them were mixed.

There’s a fair amount of humor in this movie, definitely more so than any other other Star Wars movies.  Some of it was pretty good too, and made the whole theater chuckle.  Other parts, while still funny, felt unnecessary or like they didn’t quite fit.

Also mixed were the characters.  The leads’ roles were solid, and most of the side characters were decent, but at least one prominently advertised supporting role was unexpectedly disappointing.

The jist?  It was good, but flawed.  Interesting, but not amazing; a plain, solid good.  If you go in expecting a nerdy religious experience, you may be disappointed.  Keep your expectations at a normal level and you should enjoy yourself.

Rating: 7/10

SpoilerAlert

First, I must discuss a role that really disappointed me: Captain Phasma.  I was really looking forward to Captain Phasma!  I was envisioning a kick-ass (albiet potentially evil) female in a not-skimpy, not-ridiculour outfit.  In fact, by just looking at Captain Phasma, you’d never even know she’s a woman.  So what went wrong?  What you see of her in the trailers is basically the entirety of her screen time in the movie.  I’m serious.  She had may 3-4 lines, and was in the movie no more than 5 minutes.  Plus instead of being kickass, she seemed almost pathetic thanks to the scene where she deactivated the shields without a fight at the prompting of our somewhat bumbling heroes.  It ended up feeling like they stuffed the character in just so they could sell Captain Phasma merchandise.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the meat of the story.  The enemy is building a giant, planet-destroying piece of tech.  Someone gets their hands on info that can help defeat the baddies, and the info is put into a droid.  The droid wanders around a desert and runs into an unsuspecting character, dragging them into the mess.  Said character discovers they have Force abilities, sees their mentor-figure killed, and confronts a Dark Side user.  Oh, and after the shields are dropped, rebellion pilots attack the giant death ball, trying to hit a specific point.

Sounds familiar, you say?  That’d be because it is.  Don’t get me wrong, some familiarity is good, and I enjoy some nostalgia, but I just basically summarized the whole movie, and without character names, it just reads like a mashup of the original “Star Wars.”  At what point does nostalgia and honoring the source material become laziness?

Now for one of the major twists.  Han Solo’s death was something some people didn’t expect going into the movie.  It did have emotional consequences, but I’m not sure if it’s the ones the writers were aiming for.  You could see it coming as soon as Solo stepped onto that catwalk, so the obviousness of the setup and the length of the scene diminished the impact; there was no gasp-worthy moment for me.  I was disappointed in loss of a fun screen presence though, because I enjoyed Harrison Ford’s acting.  The bigger impact for me was my attitude towards Kylo Ren: it condemned him.  I’m not interested in his struggle anymore, he just needs to go die in a fire.  If it was supposed to cement him in our minds as a villain, then the scene worked, but that means they better not expect us to continue to sympathize with him.

A character you can sympathize with?  Finn.  Poor guy basically spent his whole life in Stormtrooper-land, but still had enough heart to realize some of the things the First Order was doing was not cool, and he had enough of a spine to run away.  Sure, he’s no dashing knight or cool Jedi – Rey’s the Jedi, but I’ll get to that next – but once you consider his background, you realize he is brave.  Unfortunately the movie ended with him having sustained what I think was a serious back/spine injury, so we have to wait until the next move to see just how advanced their medical technology is.

Rey is the baby Jedi!  Yes, the female lead is the Force-user, contrary to what the trailers would have you believe.  This mostly makes up for the Captain Phasma mess.  She is not a damsel in distress waiting for rescue, and in fact gets herself out of at least two scrapes without assistance.  Once she realizes she can use the Force, she picks it up very quickly, which is one of my few complaints: she figures it out too quickly.  In the space of what I think is literally one day, she goes from thinking she’s an ordinary person to using Jedi mind tricks and Force-pulling stuff.  At that rate, what do they need Luke for?  Give her a week to practice and she’d be Master level.

Other characters: Poe was cool, BB8 was freaking adorable.  A pink R2 unit was supposed to make a brief appearance, but I didn’t see it; did you?  As far as writing/acting is concerned, Kylo Ren didn’t suck like I feared he would.  Overall the actors did a good job, though there were a couple I feel need a bit more experience to really polish their skills.

The ending is basically a cliffhanger, so maybe the sequels will smooth ver some of the bumps in this movie?  We shall see.

Inside Out

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InsideOut

Pixar to me is synonymous with animated “kid” movies with a surprising amount of depth.  You know, movies like Wall-e and Up; kids will enjoy the animation and basic story, but the full emotional depth will only be grasped by adults.  Inside Out is a new film to add to that list.

The idea is that people’s emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust – are personified and influence/control their actions from a control room in the brain.  Riley is the main [human] character the movie follows, and she is dealing with moving to a new state and the emotional upheaval it entails.  Joy is the lead emotion, normally in charge of the control room, but after a mishap she and Sadness end up outside of the control room and must navigate their way through the Riley’s mind and find their way back.  Meanwhile, it’s up to Anger, Fear, and Disgust to keep things running.

Guess what?  I liked this movie, and I liked it a lot.  My inner child appreciated the bright colors and other visual eye candy.  I liked how even the less-developed emotions still had some depth to them and were not completely one-note.  I liked the casting; Lewis Black as Anger was a perfect call, but Phyllis Smith’s Sadness was the surprising stand-out.

The mechanics of how the mind-world worked were probably my favorite part.  It was very clever, and it’s obvious that a lot of time and thought went into it.  As you watch it, chances are you’ll go, “Yeah, that is how it would work.”  You’ll probably wonder how your mind world would look, and after the movie you’ll end up talking about you own emotions like “My road rage and allergy to stupidity must mean Anger is in charge.”

This was a fun, surprisingly smart movie.  Even though I appreciated the message of Up, I actually would rank Inside Out above Up as it has less of the bittersweet feelings , but still had emotional depth.  I’d recommend it to pretty much anyone.

Rating: 9.5/10

Mad Max: Fury Road

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MadMax

I have not seen the original Mad Max movies, and I didn’t plan on seeing this one.  It looked like a dick flick; you know, movies you’re more likely to enjoy if you have a dick.  The 300 and Clash of the Titans are movies I classified as dick flicks, because despite how much my guy friends like them, my final impression of both was “blah.”  I figured that Fury Road would be nothing but cars, fights, explosions, and the occasional sexy and/or scantily clad woman.

Feel the testosterone flow through you.

Feel the testosterone flow through you.

The guys at work raved about Mad Max, but it wasn’t until my uncle said he wanted to see it that I changed my mind.  My uncle’s movies taste more closely match those of movie critics’ than the average moviegoer, so I doubted he’d go see a movie if he’d heard it was a dick pick.  So I gave the movie a chance.

It surprised me.  Yes, there is a lot of action and fighting, and some testosterone and scantily clad women, but while I may still classify this as a dick pick, I actually enjoyed it.  It’s not groundbreaking, and some things were just silly, but assuming you judge it one what it is – a summer popcorn action flick – then it shouldn’t disappoint.

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Considering that I haven’t seen any of the other Mad Max movies, Fury Road does a decent job of setting up the world.  Something happened – possibly mankind itself – that made the world start dying.  As resources became scarce, law and order broke down, and most of mankind is shitty and at least partially crazy.  So now we have an excuse to have a bunch of people drive around the desert in cannibalized cars, jumping between vehicles and throwing explosives at each other.

There are a lot of things that have to be taken with a grain of salt.  The idea that the world has spiraled down this far, but there’s still a large enough and reliable enough gas supply to keep all these vehicles running seems silly.  People swinging from poles between cars is silly.  In a war/attack convoy, having a vehicle dedicated to some drummer dudes and a guy playing an electric guitar is very silly.  And yet, the silliness is part of the fun.

Ridiculous, but looks cool.

Ridiculous, but looks cool.

Part of what saved this movie for me is the female characters.  The “plot” is that the Big Bad’s concubines are trying to escape him and get to safety, and need help.  But the female characters in this movie were more than just pretty props.  Furiosa was tied with Max for main character and was capable of being a badass.  The concubines’ actresses were doubtlessly chosen for their looks – supermodels in a dystopia doesn’t make sense, but that’s part of what makes dick flicks – and their characters weren’t fleshed out, but the lines they did have helped to highlight different mindsets that might exist in such a world.  They did more than scream, faint, trip at [in]convenient times, and/or have sex with the main character, which is all I  would expect from a dick flick, so that was an unexpected bonus.

No fainting flowers, kthnx.

No fainting flowers, kthnx.

If anything, I feel that Max was kinda upstaged.  By the end of the movie, I was more invested in Furiosa and Nux (the War Boy) than I was in Max.  The emotional scene he had towards the end fell flat for me.  It’s kinda sad when the main character is upstaged.

For a movie with a lot of action and not a lot of dialogue, Mad Max: Fury Road was surprisingly good.  Not something I’d buy, or necessarily feel the urge to watch again, but it was worth watching the first time and shouldn’t bore you if you decide to repeat the experience.

Rating: 7/10

Rock on.

Rock on.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

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AgeOfUltron

[First part is spoiler-free, then spoilers after the warning]

I was so excited about this movie.  I loved The Avengers, and I greatly enjoy most Marvel movies, so I figured this would be a sure hit.  I splurged on the viewing, reserving a seat at the dine-in theater as soon as tickets were available.  I met up with some of my friends, I bought something other than the cheapest option on the menu, sat back, and was ready to be amazed.

So was I amazed?  Well…

AngryMob

Time out!  I didn’t say it was bad!  Drop your pitchforks, back away from your keyboard, and let me explain.

Like I said, I loved the first Avengers movie.  Seeing all those characters together on the big screen was like magic.  I think that is part of what made it so grand though; it was the first time I had seen a movie take so many main characters and bring them together in one movie.  Since the Avengers had already been assembled in the first movie, Age of Ultron didn’t have that going for it.

Pacing was a bit problematic.  There was a lot of action; during the Hulk vs Hulkbuster scene, I actually felt a bit bored/tired.  The movie had some slow parts, but they didn’t properly counterbalance the action and fast pace of the rest of the movie.

However, Age of Ultron is still a good movie.  The core cast is back, with a couple of new additions.  Some characters got some much-needed development, particularly Hawkeye.  In The Avengers, poor Hawkeye spent most of the movie brainwashed.  Between that and his lack of screen time, he was almost an extra in The Avengers.

Don't worry Hawkeye.  Your time is coming.

Don’t worry Hawkeye. Your time is coming.

In Age of Ultron, Hawkeye starts to find his niche.  He doesn’t have superpowers or loads of money, but you learn that he does have something different to bring to the table.  Black Widow also gets some development, but Hawkeye steals the show in that arena.

Ultron was not what I expected.  I figured he’d be one-note, straight dark and psycho.  He was bad, yes, and crazy, but he also had some humorous lines and familiar-but-fun motives, putting him above the likes of Ronin, Malekith, and Justin Hammer.

Wait, that's not Ultron?  Close enough.

Wait, that’s not Ultron? Close enough.

There were some things I didn’t buy in the movie, or that seemed a touch off, but overall it was quite good.

Final Rating: 8/10

Now, I will enter spoiler territory to dissect some of my issues with the movie, and some of my favorite parts.  If you haven’t watched the movie, stop reading and come back later.

SpoilerAlert

The movie reveals that Hawkeye is married, and that he has a house out in the country where his two kids and pregnant wife live.  I’m torn about this reveal.  It positions Hawkeye to be the most human of the Avengers, with the most in common with the average person the Avengers are supposed to be protecting, so it does give him a nice perspective to bring to the table.  On the other hand, I didn’t buy the idea of a house being so secret that neither Tony Stark nor Ultron knew about it, unless they just hadn’t bothered to look.  Plus, Hawkeye’s country house, 2.5 kids, loving and understanding wife, and assorted other domestic bliss just seems too perfect, especially for a member of an internationally known crime-fighting organization.

Marvin

I am still left torn about Black Widow.  I want to like her.  I really, really do.  But Scarlet Johanson’s portrayal of her just seems so… wooden.  I always envisioned Black Widow as being the ultimate femme fatale: sexy, exotic, alluring, and able to kill you without breaking a single perfectly manicured nail.  ScarJo’s Black Widow is just… not that.  They tried to evolve her character in this movie by giving her a romantic interest in Banner.  I get the reasoning she gave for being attracted to him, but I feel Black Widow would’ve more confident/assertive in pursuing him, and I don’t think she would’ve stayed as visibly upset for as long as she did.

I do like that they didn’t have her try to pick up Thor’s hammer though.  Because if she tried and couldn’t move it, some fans would’ve been pissed since in at least one series of comics, she can move it (and gets a cool Asgard suit too).

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There were some other minor things.  Like, at the end of Iron Man 3, it seemed like Tony was done with being an Avenger, but here he is Avenger-ing again.

So what about the things I liked.  Let’s start with Scarlet Witch.  This is a comic book character I was very interested to see adapted to the big screen.  And I must say, I am very glad they didn’t try to give her a headpiece; I hate her comic costume headpiece.

SWitchHeadpiece

BreadCat

Scarlet Witch’s accent was meh, and I’m not sure about her mind-fuckery powers – I don’t remember her having those, but I’m not a hardcore comic fan – but I was just glad to see her.

Vision was surprisingly awesome.  I knew almost nothing about him going into the movie, other than the fact that he wasn’t human and was green and purple.  The green and purple part had me worried; how could that not look dumb?  But it worked, and Vision was a very dignified character, making the “Well, I was born yesterday” line at the end perfect.  It was nice to see Paul Bettany in front of the camera.

Speaking of, did you all realize that Klaw was Andy Serkis?  I’m so used to him doing motion capture roles, I didn’t recognize him when I actually got to see him using his own face in a movie.

This dude is Gollum (LotR), Caesar (Planet of the Apes), and King Kong.

This dude is Gollum (LotR), Caesar (Planet of the Apes), and King Kong.

The humor was great.  There was no single, gut-busting moment like the Hulk/Loki scene in The Avengers, but there were many lines and scenes I thought were quite funny:

  • Cap scolding Iron Man for cursing, then everyone ribbing Cap about it.
  • Iron Man saying “great talk!” and then one of the guys he shot saying “No it wasn’t!”
  • Black Widow saying “Beep beep!” while driving a motorcycle through a crowd.
  • Ultron saying something to the effect of “They took the rarest metal on Earth and made a frisbee” (referring to Cap’s shield).

I am a fanfic reader.  I tell you that to tell you this: there were scenes where the writers were teasing fanfic fans.  The writers and the cast know about the fanfic; hell, they talked about the fic term “sciencebros” on Jimmy Kimmel!  So they know about it, and the fanfic community knows that they know about it, and now the movies are deliberately teasing us.  Don’t believe me?  Next time you see a scene where you think the bromance is just a tad much, remember it’s for the fanfic community.  And we love it.

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So the movie didn’t have quite the same magic as the first, but it was still fun, and a bit like coming home.  I look forward to phase of Marvel movies.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

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KingsmanBlog

The Awesome:
– Posh Ass-kicking = Tickled by the idea of well-dressed, well-spoken people kicking butt and being awesome?  You’re in for a good time.

The Good:
– Fun = It’s fun.  It’s not dark, and even when it’s trying to be serious, it’s not that serious.  It’s pretty light-hearted and fast-paced, and has some good humor too.

The Bad:
– Main Character Hallpass = The main character does things that would be unbelievable, but the audience/movie gives him a hallpass because he’s the main character.  If you really start thinking on some of these scenarios though, it can make you go, “huh?”

– Plot Hole = The twist/reveal at the end is fun, but if you give it some thought, you realize it’s also probably a plot hole.

Verdict = Doesn’t need to be seen in a theater, but worth the watch.  There is blood and violence, but it’s not of the gore-and-entrails-horror variety; it’s more humorous/purposeful.  There is also nudity, but all you see if a back and a butt; not very scandalous.  Overall, an entertaining watch.

Jolly good show.

Jolly good show.

!!! Spoilers Below !!!

Okay, now for the spoilers that will elaborate on the two “Bad” points I felt the movie had.

– Main Character Hallpass = As Eggsy is fighting his way through Valentine’s base, and again when confronting his mother’s abusive boyfriend, he is shown to have amazing fighting skillz.  How?  When did that happen?  Yes, he was in training/testing for a while, but not long enough to gain that level of skill.  Also, in a base full of super spies and spy tech, trainee Eggsy was the only one to notice that Arthur was a traitor/bugged?

– Plot Hole = Arthur is revealed to be in league with Valentine.  Once Arthur joined up with Valentine, why wasn’t he trying harder to sabotage the Kingsmen’s efforts to stop him?

The Imitation Game

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Hello ladies, gentlemen, and sloths, and welcome to my blog!  I have decided to take some time out of my slothful days to attempt this blogging thing.  As you may or may not be aware though, sloths are slow and sleepy, so do not expect updates to be frequent or regular, although I was certainly try to make them so.

That being said, I am going to review a movie.  Watching movies and TV are popular hobbies of the sloth population, myself included.  On today’s agenda: The Imitation Game.

TheImitationGame

Bias: I love Cumberbatch.  I am a Cumbercookie (Cumberbatch doesn’t like the term “Cumberbitch”).

The Good:

  • Good Acting = Cumberbatch nailed it, and Kiera Knightly was surprisingly good.  The supporting cast also did a good job.
  • Characterization = The portrayal of Turing is a genius, and perhaps a touch Autistic, was enjoyable.  It was done so viewers could understand and sympathize with such a character.
  • Tension = The movie managed to take something that could be very dull – a bunch of educated people sitting in a room for months/years trying to break a code – and make it interesting and exciting.

The Bad:

  • Questionable Accuracy = I’ve read articles saying that Turing wasn’t so quirky/isolated, and was more out about his sexuality.  I’ve also read that Turing didn’t really create the machine, but revamped/improved it with significant help from Gordon Welchman, none of which was mentioned in the movie.

The Other:

  • The Feels = There are a couple of sad moments, one of which actually made me tear up.  I thought it was well done, but I know some people don’t like sad parts in movies.

Verdict: Enjoyable and thought-provoking.  Even if it isn’t accurate, it will make some people – like myself – curious enough about Alan Turing that they may research him further.  Definitely worth the watch.