Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Streaming Spotlight: In the Loop – Movie Review

It’s good to know satire about political dysfunction is always topical.

In the Loop starring Tom Hollander, Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison, Anna Chlumsky, Mimi Kennedy, James Gandolfini, and directed by Armando Iannucci. In the Loop is a political satire about the leadup to a war between the United States and an unnamed Middle Eastern country. This 2009 film is obviously meant to make fun of the events leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The movie is fast paced and extremely well written. I had a smile on my face for the duration of the film. Fans of Veep should check out the movie because it has the same vibe, probably since the director was the creator and showrunner for the first four seasons of the show.

The writing of the script is the star of the film. It is fast paced and if you blink you might miss a quip or sarcastic phrase meant to poke fun at a character or situation. Not one single main character in the film is likeable in the end. Each is horrible in one form or another, and are only looking out for themselves in the end. It’s what makes politicians and those who work for them so loathed by the general public. These individuals are only looking out to extend their careers, instead of doing what is right. When they do make a stand in the film it is only because they have been backed into a corner or it serves their political end game. The movie perfectly captures this aspect of the characters and the decisions they make forces the story into hilarity. The planning for the war is founded on lunacy. The story has the perfect amount of satirical whimsy and it’s not a stretch to think some of these hyperbolic scenarios happen to a lesser extent in real life.

While each character in the film is reprehensible the performances are fantastic. Peter Capaldi as the foul-mouthed communications secretary steals the movie. His tirades are hilarious and perfectly integrated into the movie. The way his character maneuvers within the story is also well done. When he is on the ropes politically in the film he finds a way to weasel out and come out on top, or just to save his skin. What he does is horrible, but it works for the movie. Chris Addison and Anna Chlumsky are the main staffers to the politicians in the film. They are trying to move up or just keep their bosses in line so they continue to have a job. Neither of them in the long run is very likeable due to their actions, but they are probably the most relatable and sane characters in the film. The other standout is James Gandolfini who has a smaller role but he steals the screen every time he is in a scene. His character doesn’t want to go to war, but still talks tough to those around him. His one scene with Peter Capaldi was the highlight of the film. Tom Hollander is an actor I’ve started to notice pop up with more frequency lately. He’s great in everything I’ve seen and he was good as the bumbling politician who can’t seem to get out of his own way. The movie truly is an ensemble film with nearly everyone doing a great job.

The only downside to the movie is some of the jokes fall flat, and their might have been just a few too many clever insults in the story. They never get tiresome, some just don’t land as well as others do in the film. I can see some not liking how the film is shot. It’s similar to a long episode of television and might throw some off with its style. I personally didn’t mind because of the story being told, but I could see it being a complaint for the movie. The fact ever character is unlikable  also might be a complaint.  There isn’t anyone to root for, and all the characters make bad decisions. This is one of the things I found most enjoyable about the movie, but I could understand not liking the fact there is no true hero to the story. There wasn’t much not to like about the movie, and I could see myself watching it again because of how well the story is told.

In today’s political climate sometimes it’s good to just laugh at the sheer lunacy of it all. In the Loop provided this for me with how everyone is basically faking it until they make it in the story. If you have Netflix and enjoy great satire give it a watch. If you are a fan of the television show Veep I would think this is a must watch. I’ve only watched a few episodes of the show but like what I have seen, and think I might binge through it all because of my enjoyment of this movie. Let me know if you have seen In the Loop and what you thought of it. If you haven’t is it something you might check out? Like share subscribe and all that fun stuff. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ghost in the Shell - Movie Review: A Shell of a Film

Well, at least it looked great.

Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek, Michael Pitt, Peter Ferdinando, and directed by Rupert Sanders. The film is an adaptation of the graphic novel and anime movie of the same name. I went into this film blind never having read or seen the anime. The story is set in a future where robotics are part of everyday life. Individuals augment themselves with cybernetic parts to become hybrids of machines and man.  Scarlett Johansson’s character, Major, is the first complete robotic hybrid where the entire body is machine and only the mind is human. Ghost in the Shell tries to look at the complexities of what makes people human while also telling a mystery of where Major came from. The film unfortunately doesn’t succeed in doing either.

Let’s start with the positives for the movie. The film looks absolutely stunning. Ghost in the Shell’s design is nothing short of brilliant, and it’s what got me to go see the movie from the trailers. The city scape with the holograms all around the city looks fantastic. The movie has a very 80’s futuristic vibe, probably because original graphic novel came in 1989. It looks somewhat like Blade Runner, but it has more of an empty world. The starkness of the world ends up being another issue. There are hardly any people in the world. There are a few street scenes with Major walking around with a good number extras, but when there is an action scene on the street, or when she goes to an apartment building it is empty. There are zero other people on camera except those participating in the scene.  This leads to the feeling of a dead world, instead of one populated with people. It goes back to the movie being an actual shell itself. Maybe this was the point the filmmaker was trying to make, but if so it didn’t come across well.

The action in the film is another bright spot. Scarlett Johansson is no stranger to action, and she does well again here. Here performance overall is good, but the character development in the story is a problem. With the lack of character growth, the good action isn’t enough to be engaged in the movie. Each piece of action is exciting, but there isn’t enough to offset the lack of pacing. The character Aramanki who is the lead of section nine seems interesting. He has a great small action piece towards the end of the film, but it doesn’t mean much for the story because he hasn’t been developed. He apparently is supposed to be an impressive and terrifying government agent, but there is little to nothing to establish this fact, other than he is the lead of the agency. The action he has is great, along with everyone else who is in the film. The issue is the action wasn’t enough to make the film enjoyable overall.

The goal the story Ghost in the Shell was trying achieve seems to have missed. If the film was supposed to be just a fun science fiction action movie with an interesting protagonist it didn’t deliver because there wasn’t enough action. The movie also takes itself too seriously for this to be the main purpose of the story. The film seems to want us to examine what it means to be human, but the character of Major isn’t developed enough for us to care if she is human or not. Maybe it is in the anime and graphic novel, because the framework for this concept is in the movie, it just isn’t executed. One thing which always bugs me in films is the fade to black, and cut to one year later, which they do in this film after Major awakens in her new body. After the jump in time she is suddenly an amazing operative going on missions. They could have shown some struggles and training scenes which would have given some development of how she adjusted to her new body. Instead we are dropped into what her life is like with no context of how she got there.

The story overall is strangely paced and not put together well. Again, maybe for those who know the source material it made more sense, but for a person jumping in it didn’t There is a scene close to the start of the story where Major takes an action and others object to it. They object, and yet they don’t really try to stop her and the scene is strangely shot and acted. It seemed like there should have been more resistance to her attempting the action, instead of the jilted, wait stop no don’t do that which ends up happening in the scene. There are many instances of this in the film were an event should be meaningful for the story, but the lack of buildup or the execution is lacking. There doesn’t seem to be any heart or soul in the movie. There is a good story in this material, the framing for it is in this film. The movie just forgot to execute on the actual substance.

Ghost in the Shell while fun to look at and entertaining when action is happening was a letdown overall. I can’t imagine fans of the original source material being happy with this result, and I don’t think those who aren’t will appreciate it either. The film is not worth seeing, but if it’s on cable for free you might try to wade through it. The movie could have been good because of the content being discussed, but it missed the mark. I think I’m going to check out the original anime to see how it’s executed. Comment and let me know what you thought if you saw Ghost in the Shell, and what is another good anime I should watch since I haven’t seen any. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Life – Movie Review: No, This is Not a Venom Prequel Film

There has probably never been a more attractive Astronaut crew on the international space station.

Life: starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya, and directed by Daniel Espionosa. Life is about the discovery of an Alien lifeform from Mars. The crew brings the form out of its hibernating or static state from the Red Planet. This then causes the creature to go on a destructive rampage on the International Space Station. You can either view its actions as trying to preserve its own life or maliciously trying to kill all those aboard the station. The movie has a terrifying premise which has been done before, but it’s still done effectively in this film. Life is a fun, tense, and suspenseful ride which is best enjoyed without thinking too hard about some of the leaps in logic it takes towards the end of the film.

The story is simple for the movie. The group of Astronauts on the space station are tasked with retrieving a capsule with soil samples coming back from Mars. An unmanned expedition on the planet found biological material on the surface. The probe picked up the samples and brought it back for the scientist to examine. While researching the cells Bakare’s character, Hugh, gets them to reanimate. Things then go sideways when the life form starts to grow and protect itself. What follows are the dilemmas the Astronauts must face in trying to survive while also protecting Earth from the Martian. The best part of the film’s story is the juxtaposition from hope and wonderment at the start of the movie to sheer terror at the end. The human race found proof of life from another planet, only to then wonder if things may be left better if undiscovered.

The story presents characters who each have different reactions to how they view the Martian based on their job at the station.  All the performances are good with Jake Gyllenhaal a standout as always. If you have seen the trailers for the film you may have some preconceived notions about what is going to happen with him, but the story keeps you guessing, for at least the first part of film. There isn’t much for any character to do in the movie except be terrified of the Alien. I’m surprised they were able to pull in Reynolds and Gyllenhaal together with Ferguson, who is also a star on the rise, for this film. Reynolds plays his usual quippy funny self, and does it well as always. It’s hard not to like the guy. Personally, I would like to see him try a more dramatic role again, like he did in Buried, but these roles seem to be working for him. Ferguson does a good job as well, but again there isn’t much for her character to do other than give some exposition and float away from the creature. She does have some voice over work as well, which might annoy some, but I didn’t think it took away from the story. Bakare’s character, Hugh is probably the most interesting and the one who feels the most for the Martian in the movie. There is a decision he makes towards the end which I don’t think fits the story and it is one of my issues with the latter part of the film.

Enjoyment for Life is going to predicated by how lost you can get in the story. The second half of the film caused issues for me because I didn’t buy into some of the events which happen on the Space Station. Having just a cursory knowledge of NASA or other space agencies processes causes the story falls apart. If you have no knowledge of how things work on the ISS it will help enjoyment for the film. I was taken out of the story by not being able to believe the events unfolding on the station. The actions the characters take towards the last half of the movie also seem unneeded and are used to just propel the narrative instead of making actual sense for true astronauts. Their actions fall into the generic stupid horror movie trope. What makes it worse in this scenario is these people are supposed to be extremely smart scientist who should know better.  Being able to get past these story elements will be the difference in loving the film or just simply liking it.

Overall the film does provide some killer tension and had me on the edge of my seat countless times. Being in the vacuum of space also adds another scary element to the movie, and it is used well. The character design of the Martian is also awesome and as the tension in the story grows so does the scariness of the alien. The deaths in the film are all well done and some truly horrifying. If you get your kicks from watching horror films then Life is a must see. The movie delivers on being a scary suspenseful sci-fi horror, but depending on how much you can get past the logical leaps at the end will affect your overall enjoyment. The film is worth seeing either in the theater or on rental, and I would watch it again if it was on. The horror elements alone would be able to hold my attention for repeat viewings.

Comment and let me know if you have seen Life. If you haven’t let me know your favorite Martian invasion film.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauty and The Beast (2017) – Movie Review: The Animated Story Realized ...

I’ve owned three Disney movies in every available format. Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, and Beauty and The Beast. You are darn right I saw this on opening night.

Beauty and The Beast; starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Cline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and directed by Bill Condon. Beauty and the Beast is the remake of the classic 1991 Disney animated film. It recaptures all the magic of the previous movie and adds to the overall story. I was blown away with Beauty and the Beast and how the movie translated the animated version into live action. The movie takes CG and live action characters and retells the story to near perfection. If you are a fan of the original, and don’t mind some subtle changes, then there is very little to be disappointed in the live action Beauty and the Beast.

The performances across the board were all great and each actor captured the spirit of the characters found in the animated version of film. Emma Watson was brilliant as Belle and found the perfect amount of quirkiness and determination the role demanded. Watson’s Belle may have been even more fearless than the animated version and the added backstory about her mother was a welcome addition.  She held the entire film together and did a great job of interacting with CG characters for the film. Dan Stevens was great as The Prince/Beast. The added backstory for his character was also welcome. I personally would have welcomed even more about his past and how he ended up the cold heartless prince at the start of the story. The hints were enough to keep the story on pace and more wasn’t needed, but I would have welcomed spending more time in the world. The CG was also well done on The Beast, which I get may not be the most popular opinion, but it worked well for me and sucked me into the movie.

The CG and voice performances for the castle staff was also spot on. The only one I found slightly off was the dresser. A character which I was worried about from the trailers was Lumiere voiced by Ewan McGregor. From the trailers I wasn’t sure his accent was going to be believable in the film, but he was fantastic. He provided some of the funniest lines in the film along with Ian Mckellen’s Cogsworth. Their comedic relief was just as good as the original and in some spots better. The characters were different enough from the originals to stand on their own, while still paying respect to what came before. Which goes for all the cast in the film. Each one can stand on its own and is different enough to separate from the animated classic. Both films are magical and both can be separated on their own with the performances.

The show stealers for the film are Luke Evans and Josh Gad. Every scene they are on screen together as Gaston and Lefou is fantastic. Luke Evans is the perfect real life representation of the animated pompous self-absorbed narcissist. Gad as the trusty sidekick Le fou was hilarious and the added moments of character are a plus to the movie overall. I did think film was going to go in one direction towards the end with Gaston, but it didn’t end up playing out. It probably would have been too big of a departure if they would have gone this way, but I would have enjoyed it. It was a joy to see these characters in live action and I had smile firmly on my face whenever they were on screen. Gaston is the perfect character to hate, and Luke Evans did a great job in getting this across.

I might be looking at Beauty and the Beast with nostalgia filled glasses, but I didn’t find anything glaringly wrong with the movie. There are small things to nitpick; like one of the very last lines of the film seems out of place, or the shot with Belle overlooking the village at the start seems like Sound of Music, but this is about it. I could see some not liking the changes from the original, but for me the added backstory helped flesh out the characters more than the animated version. I’ve heard some grumblings about Watson’s singing and her being autotuned. I’m no signing expert and her performance drew me into the story on all fronts. The pacing of the film was spot on and there wasn’t a lull during any point of the movie. Besides the small nitpicks there isn’t anything I would change for the film.

The live action Beauty and The Beast did exactly what I wanted the movie to do. It stayed true to the original source material, but was different enough in character performances and added backstory to stand on its own. Fans of the original classic will be swept away with the story. The movie is a must see in theaters, and one I will go back to the theater and see again. Beauty and the Beast is a classic, and the live action version still lived up to this name.

What did you think of Beauty and the Beast? Did it meet your expectations or did it disappoint? What live action remake are you most looking forward too or least looking forward too if you don’t like these remakes. Comment and let me know. Like share subscribe and all that fun stuff. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Star Wars Rebels S3E17 Secret Cargo Review (Spoilers): A Rebellion United

Episode seventeen for season three of Star Wars Rebels, Secret Cargo, introduced Mon Mothma to the show. The episode starts with the crew of the ghost waiting to deliver fuel to another transport. The mission is shrouded in secrecy and the crew isn’t sure exactly what they are doing in the system. The crew has to fend off a probe droid which comes into the system, but doesn’t stop the droid before it gets a signal off. The droid we soon find was looking for the ship Mon Mothma was aboard. The Senator delivered a scathing speech on Emperor Palpatine and went on the run. Mothma needed the fuel from the Ghost to try and make it to the secret Rebel Base on Dantooine. After an attack on the convoy Mon Mothma is forced onto the Ghost and the crew is tasked with getting her to safety.

Secret Cargo was another extremely strong episode for this season of Rebels. The entire second half of the season has been some of the strongest of episodes in the entire series. The show might be better served in cutting down the number of episodes to focus more on these types of episodes instead of some of the filler found in the first half of the season. Secret Cargo provided a vital element to the overall canon of the Star Wars universe by showing how Mon Mothma left the senate and united the different Rebel factions under one banner as the Rebel Alliance. This story was an interesting one to see and fit perfectly for an episode of Rebels. The actress who played Mon Mothma in Rogue One reprised her role in the episode and did a great job. She provided the right amount of weight to the performance and was really well served in the episode. Hera was another focal point for the episode and it was interesting to see the dynamic between her and Mon Mothma.

One thing Rebels has always seemed to do extremely well is space action, and this Secret Cargo did not disappoint. There a few space battles littered throughout the short twenty-two-minute episode and each one was well done. The only complaint for the battles was how high powered the show made the Tie Defender. The showrunners might create and issue in cannon by making such a ship so powerful and then it never shows up during Empire or Return of the Jedi. Other than this all of the fights between the Imperials and Rebels were extremely well done and exciting. Having some of the fights take place in the nebula was another great aspect and something never shown before in Star Wars. It was a nice touch to show how Hera used the Nebula twice to outsmart the Imperials.

An issue with throughout all of Rebels is how the Imperials have never been menacing, except for the Vader and the Inquisitors. Kallus in the first season was one example where this wasn’t the case, but all others have been bumbling idiots. This usually means the crews missions have no stakes because they are going to succeed against the inept Empire. This episode was the opposite of this. Thrawn had Hera and the Ghost dead to rights. His plan worked brilliantly, it just was bested by Hera using the Nebula to get away. Their seemed to be stakes in this episode, and only great improvising allowed the Rebels to escape. If Thrawn were at the battle he would have positioned the Star Destroyers differently so the Nebula wouldn’t have had an effect.  Thrawn will more than likely have poor things to say to the governor and admiral who led the attack. Having Thrawn in command of the Imperials makes them more effective and the stakes are increased when they face off, which has been missing from episodes of Rebels in the past.

The only other small nitpick other than the overpowered Tie Defender was the unneeded exposition telling the audience about the nebula twice in a short twenty-minute episode. It wasn’t needed, but since Rebels is supposed to be for kids it wasn’t a horrible. I think kids who watch Rebels wouldn’t have needed the reminder and could have figured out why Hera had the Y-Wing fire at the nebula. Two minor nitpicks in an otherwise fantastic episode which expanded the lore of the Star Wars universe and advanced the overall story for the show. Hopefully the trend of the great second half of the show continues until the season finale. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Logan – Movie Review: Hugh Jackman’s Final Performance as Wolverine Deli...

Takeaway the claws replace and give Logan guns and this becomes a Western.

Logan, starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Brody Holbrook, and directed by James Mangold. Logan is Hugh Jackman’s supposed last turn as the iconic Wolverine. The movie takes place in a near future in which most mutants have died and no more have been born. Logan is caring for an aging Professor Xavier when a young girl enters their life and forces them onto the run. The trailers for Logan have given this much story, and if you haven’t seen the film yet experience it before knowing more than this. Logan’s marketing team gave the right amount of tone and story to get people excited for the film without giving anything away for this amazing movie.

There isn’t much wrong with Logan. The story goes places not many comic book films have gone before, and uses every bit of its R rating to good effect. The film is an emotional roller coaster and it plays on the fact many have been fans of Hugh’s performances for the past seventeen years.  He doesn’t disappoint in what might be his last appearance as the character. Logan finally delivers a solo film worthy for Wolverine. It has everything we have come to expect from the character. Logan is the reluctant hero who is troubled by all he has seen and done. He’s afraid to get close or help in fear of losing something again. He still feels a deep connection to Professor X and their relationship is a key component to the entire narrative. It is also Professor X who pushes Logan to look after Laura when she shows up. Xavier knows Logan needs the connection to help him continue to want to live in a world which consistently beats him down.

The story does draw Logan out of his shell to where he does want to engage with Laura and protect her.           Dafne Keen is stunning as the young mutant X-23. She nearly steals the entire film with her performance, in which she doesn’t talk for most of it.  She is able to convey her emotions through action and her eyes and they speak loudly. Dafne’s performance next to Hugh’s is my favorite part of Logan. Her raw emotion during certain scenes was truly remarkable. I don’t know how much she was actually used for her action sequences, but those were stunning as well. Jackman of course delivers in his action scenes, and it was interesting to see an older slower Logan in this film. For most of the movie he struggles to come to grips with this fact. The only throw away character in the film is the villain played by Brody Holbrook. He’s fine and serviceable, but he doesn’t add too much to the movie. The character doesn’t need to add much for the story which is told. He’s there to drive the plot forward, and does a good job in this function. The villains are the weakest element in the story, but their part doesn’t need to be strong for the story to be effective.

There are a few small nitpicks with Logan, but not much to complain about. The pacing of the story does slow down at one point towards the finale. A few scenes in this sequence where both cute and touching, but didn’t add much to the film overall. One or two could have been cut out to pick up the pace and get to the final fight. There is also a minor plot hole towards the last part of the film as well. No spoilers, but it has to do with how the bad guys approach the final fight. They should approach it one way, because of things said in the film, but approach it in another. In the end it is a very minor nitpick for a film and story executed nearly to perfection. Logan is also extremely violent, and because other X-Men films haven’t been this brutal it may be a slight shock to some just how far Mangold takes the violence. It wasn’t something which bothered me, but I could see if you were used to a standard X-Men film how it might have been a shock to the system. It also might be a slightly disturbing to see a young girl perform such brutal acts, but her violence and actions serve an importance to the story. Logan couldn’t save her without Laura helping to save herself.

Needless to say Logan is well worth seeing if you are any kind of comic book fan or have been a fan of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. It is worth seeing if you are a fan of old school Western films in general. It very much pays homage to some of those stories. I’ll be seeing Logan again in theaters to take in the story. It is well deserving of a second viewing.
Let me know what you thought of Logan if you have seen it. If you have is it the best Super Hero film to date? I still think I put The Dark Knight above it, but I don’t know what else tops it at this point. If you haven’t seen it will you? Comment and let me know. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Alien: Covenant Official Trailer - Thoughts.

The first Alien Covenant teaser trailer seemed to show a movie very reminiscent of the original Alien. It looked to take place on a ship and have the crew being hunted by an Alien. It was tense and well done. The first full length trailer looked to show a movie similar to Prometheus. The crew of the Covenant lands on a new world and have to fight off the Xenomorph on the planet. 

Tying this trailer to the short prelude which was released last week gets me excited for Alien Covenant. It gives just the right amount of story about the crew and why they traveling to another world. It also showcased some amazing action and terror with the Alien. This is probably what Ridley Scott should have tried when making Prometheus. I liked Prometheus and the universe building it accomplished, but the second half of the film was a bit of a mess. 

The visuals of the movie look stunning, as most Ridley Scott films do. The world looks amazing, and creepy. I want more world building found in Prometheus. More information about the Engineers and why they created us, and why they created the Aliens would be welcome. Scott might shy away from this since Prometheus wasn't a hit, but if he finds the right balance in this film it should be successful. The world building wasn't the issue in Prometheus, it was the way the horror elements came about which seemed strange. 

New colonies are always dangerous. The story of Alien Covenant could easily follow the same type of story of the lost colony of Roanoke. I don't think anyone from this film can survive, except maybe David the Robot. He could survive and have the corporation cover the deaths up so other colonies still move forward. Whatever the story the trailer looked fantastic, and might be the first Alien film to be a financial and critical success in years. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Kong: Skull Island 'Rise of the King' Trailer Thoughts

This is the best Kong Skull Island trailer to date. It didn't give anything more from the story that hadn't been shown, except for a little bit on Tom Hiddleston's character. There was some more action with Kong, which has ultimately sold me on the film. 

Kong Skull Island still may not be a good movie. It looks like a fun popcorn type summer blockbuster being released in the beginning of March. If the movie nails it's fun tone, it should be a good time at the cinema. What I worry about is if the movie is going to take itself too serious at some points, and try and balance this with a weird John C. Reilly character. 

Reilly's appearance in the first full trailer gave me pause on the film. He seemed completely out of place for everything else displayed in the trailer. It was a weird shift in tone from the breif clips shown before. This is still the case in this trailer. Reilly seems to be in a totally different movie than everyone else. His character may make total sense in the film, and not be out of place, but going on the trailer it still has me worried. 

What sold me on this trailer was the action with Kong. The scenes with him fighting the skull creatures looked amazing. In the end this is what you want out of a King Kong movie, Kong destroying things. It also seems Kong will have a relationship with Brie Larson's character, which makes sense in the lore. 

If Kong Skull Island can strike the perfect balance of fun action with a good story and not get too campy with Reilly's character this could be a fantastic movie. Either way I'll be seeing it on opening weekend. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Get Out – Movie Review: Meet The Parents Gone Horribly Wrong

I think there are more Windows Phones in this film than have been sold in the last two years.

Get Out starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, LilRel Howery and written and directed by Jordan Peele. Get Out has a simple premise. A girlfriend brings her boyfriend home to meet her parents for the first time. The catch is Chris, the main character, is black and is meeting his girlfriend’s white parents for the first time. From here the story starts to get weird, and frankly terrifying. The interactions Chris has with everyone at the parent’s house increasingly get stranger and stranger. For a freshman effort at directing Jordan Peele knocked it out of the park by telling a compelling story through film.

Pacing. Get Out has nearly perfect pacing. A good thriller/horror film needs to draw tension and suspense and add it throughout the story to reach a satisfying conclusion. Jordan Peele does a masterful job in telling this for this particular story.  The cold open sets the stage for where the movie will eventually conclude, but then transition to the normal relationship between Rose and Chris is done well. The music Peele selects for the first opening scenes sets the perfect tone. Each subsequent interaction and scene builds the tension for the story. The story is also sporadically interrupted with scenes with LilRel Howery’s TSA agent character who is friends with Chris. These scenes where well placed in the film and added just the right amount of levity to the movie. There is one scene in particular which seemingly poked fun at the overall premise of the film. It was the funniest scene in the film and was at the perfect place in the story. The movie is simply well made and it is a truly effective suspenseful horror film.

Along with the story all of the actors do a great job in the movie. Daniel Kaluuya in particular is fantastic as the star. He holds the entire movie together with his performance. The emotion he conveys with his eyes is extremely well done. Allison Williams as the girlfriend has an understated performance for most of the film, but delivers overall. Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford are great as the creepy parents. Catherine Keener in particular has some great spooky scenes as the therapist mom. The entire cast adds to the movie and each performance enhances the film. Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel have relatively minor roles, but their characters have a presence in the story. All of the characters, however minor, have depth and feel realized for their place in the film.

There is a deeper social aspect to Get Out as well. Just watching the film on a surface level works, but the social commentary is hard to miss. The message doesn’t hit the audience over the head, but it is there. Peele did a good job of leaving the message he was trying to convey open to interpretation. He had an idea of what he wanted to get across, but I think all people can relate to and find different meanings in the story told. There is some backlash for the film, either from the universal praise from critics, or because of its subject matter. For me the hype was real and I enjoyed every aspect of the movie, and the subtle social commentary.

The only negative I saw in the film was the ending scene. It was the only moment of levity that didn’t really match the overall tone for the film. I did chuckle at one of the jokes during the last part, but the end just was a little out of place. It was a slight wobble on the landing in an otherwise perfect routine. This is just a small nitpick in a movie I enjoyed and could see watching again, which isn’t something I say about a horror film. It is very much worth seeing, and if you can get out to the theater to watch I would recommend it in this setting. Horror isn’t a genre I usually go out and watch, but I would probably also buy this film. The overall storytelling and characters are good enough to enjoy on multiple viewings. It is a little early in the year to be talking Oscars for 2017, but hopefully Peele gets a small amount of buzz for best screenplay this year. Get Out at the very least deserves to be in the running.

What did you think of Get Out if you saw it? Is the nearly universal praise the film is receiving getting you interested if you haven’t seen it? Comment and let me know. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Superhero Film Fatigue – Is it a Thing?

If we count Lego Batman 2017 will have eight superhero films based on characters from DC and Marvel comics. 2016 had six. Are people getting tired of these yet?

Over the past couple of years, the idea of superhero film fatigue has started to pop up. The prevailing sentiment is there are too many superhero films in cinema today and eventually the movie going public will reject the films being put out by major studios. There are two different camps to break this into. Those who are film fans, cinephiles, or movie snobs and the general movie public. The cinephiles are getting tired of numerous superhero movies which come out every year. The general movie going public, as of yet, has not.

Personally I consider myself both. I love superhero films, and movies in general. For me I haven’t become fatigued by the numbers of superhero films coming out, and think Marvel films in particular continue to put out better and better films. One can argue Marvel has a formula and they don’t take enough chances, but what they do is introduce new genre stories to new superheroes which keeps the films fresh and entertaining. The general movie going audience seems to think the same thing, because each movie they release continues to make money.

The almighty dollar is what is going to determine how long the superhero movie craze continues. If people continue to support the movies the major studios are going to continue to produce them. Last year had the most superhero films released to date and each one, even the ones panned critically, made money. Four out of the six released made over seven hundred million dollars. From the general movie going audience there is not fatigue. In 2015 there were only three releases and two did well. Fantastic Four bombed, but it is the only outlier from the last four years. If you look at 2014 totals every single release made over seven hundred million dollars. While 2016 had a couple which only grossed over five hundred million worldwide those films either had a poorer reception critically in the case of X-Men or had a lesser known superhero like Doctor Strange.  All the films for the past four years, except one, have made money. There will many more superhero films in near future due to this.

There could be a tipping point where the public does become fatigued by the sheer number of superhero films. This also ties into the quality of the films. Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad both made Warner Brothers money, but if Wonder Women and Justice League are not received well critically the general public may not be sucked in.  Wonder Woman is also a period piece, which may turn some off if it doesn’t do well out of gate critically. Justice League will make money, but how much will also be based on the initial reception. If these films don’t do well and have some of the same issues as Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad they will make less than either of those films did. Marvel however with the quality of their films will continue to make money until they fail. Each new film they have coming out this year looks fantastic. Guardians, Thor, and throw in Spiderman, even though it’s a Sony release, all look great.  If for some of these aren’t spectacular and Justice League and Wonder Woman are bad, then audiences may start to shy away in 2018. However, with The Lego Batman movie already making over 170 million worldwide in two weeks and Logan’s early positive critic reception, the superhero craze is likely to continue in full force for the next few years.

As a person who loves all types of movies I can understand those who think independent and mid-level films are getting pushed aside for the blockbuster releases. I don’t think it’s the case, because there are still hundreds of films coming out each year which are not based on comic book superheroes. As someone who likes both I’m perfectly happy with the current state of cinema. There will eventually be a tipping point and the amount of superhero films will diminish, but the genre is never going to go away. Comic books have been around nearly as long as cinema itself, and these types of stories with advancing technology is here to stay.

How many superhero films per year is too much? Do you think there will be an eventual decline in the money these films make? Comment and let me know. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Trailer Thoughts

I really don't know what to think about Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. On the one hand I love Guy Ritchie as a filmmaker. His unique style always has fascinated and entertained me. The Sherlock Holmes films, especially the first, where a fun twist on the character, and Man from UNCLE was underappreciated. This King Arthur film though just doesn't look good from this trailer. 

The first trailer to come out at last year's comic con was good, and gave me hope for a film which went through massive reshoots. The movie was supposed to come out last year and was delayed because of some bad test screenings. With this in mind I've been somewhat skeptical of the film. 

Arthurian stories have been told thousands of times and Ritchie's style doesn't necessarily mesh well with the time period.  A new interesting take on old stories is always intriguing. With the films struggles and this trailer not hitting the right note I'm not sure this film will be good.  A different look on an old legend  is welcome, it just has to thread a thin needle to be impressive. 

It could also be the strange song choice found in the trailer. I love Led Zeppelin, but it doesn't make much sense to put their song in a movie about King Arthur, even if it is just for the trailer. The song doesn't seem to match the tone for the movie.  Maybe it will, but it could also be one reason I wasn't impressed with this trailer. 

Let's hope the reshoots and this trailer aren't an indication for the quality of this King Arthur retelling, but to quote another franchise, I've got a bad feeling about this. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Star Wars Rebels S3E15 Legacy of Mandalore Review (Spoilers): Are Mandalorians Bad Shots Too?

The possibilities episode fifteen of season three of Star Wars Rebels, Legacy of Mandalore, open up are extremely exciting and intriguing. Legacy of Mandalore is a continuation of the last episode, Trials of the Darksaber.  It has Sabine Wren traveling back to her ancestral home to try and convince the Mandalorians to join the Rebellion. Since Sabine betrayed the Empire and ran away from Mandalore going back has consequences. Her return forces her Mother to alert Gar Saxon of her arrival with Kanan and Ezra. The episode ends on an interesting note, with Sabine not returning with Kanan and Ezra. She decides to stay and help take control of Mandalore. This could either signify Sabine is done as a main character in this show or Mandalore might play a bigger role next season.

Overall the episode was good. It wasn’t as emotionally impactful as the previous, but it did provide interesting backstory between Sabine, her mother, and brother. The episode provided information on Sabine’s Father who is being held as a political prisoner on Mandalore. His presence on the main planet was another reason Sabine’s mother was forced to call Gar Saxon when Sabine showed up. It was good to see Sabine stand up to her Mother and Brother. She wanted them to understand why she ran away, and it seemed her mother understood the reasoning.  The story was a good continuation from the previous episode and showed the potential of a new Mandalorian storyline independent of the Rebels show.

Legacy of Mandalore opened up possibilities. Dave Filoni is a big fan of the Mandalore and has done the most to expand their lore and purpose. Having Sabine stay behind to try and unite Mandalore could be the start of a new show. Sabine is one of the most popular characters, so having her exit the crew doesn’t make much sense unless there is going to be a spinoff. Filoni has left being the overall showrunner for Star Wars Rebels to work on other projects, and a new show focused on Sabine and Mandalore would make sense. To hedge my bet next season could also focus more on Sabine and Mandalore and if they get involved with the Rebellion. There may not be enough material for a show to just focus on Mandalore. A new show could focus on the reunification of Mandalore, and on Mandalore after the fall of the Empire. It could focus on Sabine’s role in forming of the New Republic. If Sabine doesn’t come back into the main show it might alienate some fans if another show announcement isn’t upcoming with her as the start.

Many fans could be upset from the implications that Sabine is leaving the show. For me it opens up many possibilities for the character to move forward. My biggest issue with the episode was some of the action. This is surprising since the show usually has fantastic action scenes. The fight in the main room between all the Mandalorians, Ezra, and Kanan was laughable with the amount of close quarters shots not hitting their marks. I’m all for the joke about Stormtroopers not hitting their targets, but Mandalorians too? It’s not a big deal, and is just a small nitpick overall, but it is a bit of a head scratcher. The only other small nitpick was the use of Ezra. When he isn’t the focus in the episode the character falls back on annoying traits and unfunny jokes. If fans are behind Sabine leaving the team, then overall it was a very successful episode.

The big revelation of Sabine not being a part of the main team is the crux of the episode. There might be arc’s in the show just focusing on her, or a new show, but it is a departure. Sabine and Hera might be the two crew members who survive close to the Battle of Yavin. Hopefully we soon see the results of Sabine’s departure from the team. Maybe the Mandalorians will come to the Rebellions aide and help them escape the attack on Lothal, or save them from Thrawn when he attacks Chopper base. Whatever the case the show is entreating a different phase with Sabine leaving the team.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Halfway Through Watching The West Wing

I missed watching the West Wing when it first aired. Watching Television on Thursday nights in college wasn’t high on my priority list. Current events and its availability on Netflix have caused me to go back and watch the political series.  The long campaign last year and the start of this year have made me a little demoralized in the idea of our government and politics in general. The idea of holding political office for the purpose of trying to work for the good of people is the ultimate noble ideal. The show highlights this aspect of governmental service. It shows the honor it is to serve in the White House and for an honorable man who is trying to do what he thinks is best for the United State of America.

I’m not saying anything new to anyone who watched the show when it was on television. The show, written and created by Aaron Sorkin, has his patented quick witted style and dialogue. I’m currently watching the fourth season which was his last on the show and I’m interested to see if I can notice a change for the fifth. There is very little in the show that I’m not enjoying. The only small parts which don’t interest me are the relationships between the staffers. The dating relationships don’t interest me. I’m watching the show for the politics and how the White House might potentially work.  When the show is at its best is when it is solving a crisis or working on trying to get a policy passed. Showing how hard it is to pass a law and the compromises they must make is true to politics. The same can be said of the foreign issues the President must face during his time in office. Each crisis or issue the team faces are hard and no easy decision usually presents itself, but the conviction of trying to do the right thing drives the compass of the show.

The idealized premise of the show is based in the nobility of those who work for President Bartlet. Right now with everything going on in the current White House, it’s nice to watch a show about the nobility of service. I don’t want to get into a political debate about what is happening currently, or about how things have been broken in Washington. This show while fictionalized gives me hope people who do work for the government can do it for a noble cause for helping. This may be na├»ve, but trying to make a difference to make the country a better place to live is the ultimate goal for politics. This gets lost in the mix much of the time, but I’m glad I can escape to a show to make me feel just a bit better about the country I live in. If I want to feel bad I can just turn on the news or watch House of Cards. I look forward to going through the rest of the show and probably will go back and watch it again, just to get the high of watching an idealized noble person serving in the White House. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Star Wars Canon Gap: What Does Lucasfilm Have Planned Between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi?

There is a current gap in Star Wars new canon. There have been no new stories taking place between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. This time period provided some of the best stories from Legends, like Shadows of the Empire. To date the comics and books have focused on either the time between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back or after Return of the Jedi. There are numerous stories which can be told between Empire and Return of the Jedi focusing on how Luke and Leia planned on getting Han back, and how Luke grew in power. This is a time period which should be explored more in canon, and its absence might mean Lucasfilm has something big planned for the time period.  

The biggest announcement or plan could be a standalone Star Wars Story film set between the two episodes. Another war story focusing on other Rebellion battles could be exciting. I don’t think Lucasfilm would do another film centered around the Death Star. However, a film about the Bothan’s getting information back to the Rebellion about the second Death Star would interest me. This could be an idea greenlit after some time has passed for Rogue One They could do a movie on how Lando infiltrated Jabba’s palace and learned about the organization. If Donald Glover is cast in the universe, they may as well use him.  I don’t know if this could be a full film, but a movie focusing more on the underworld of the Star Wars universe would be welcome. There is little reason for their not to be more canon material in this time period, so them holding off for a film announcement might be one reason why there is a lack of content.

Books and comics should be coming for this time period if they aren’t going to announce a film. The comics have been running for almost three years in the main line, and eventually the amount of stories set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back are going to reach a tipping point in believability. There is only so many adventures they could have had between the first two movies to be believable. The comics should make a jump, and hopefully it happens in the next year or so. Books should also start to explore the story about how Luke grows in power during this time. A reason the story group is reluctant to tackle this time period might be because of how well regarded Shadows of the Empire is held by fans. The story group may have ideas about adding a story similar to this to canon, but are reluctant because of backlash. They could just reintroduce Shadows back into canon, but I doubt they will do this either. It would cause too much confusion where there is already confusion to begin with. I doubt they are afraid to tackle this time period canonically, but it could be another reason why there hasn’t been books or other media.

The time period between Empire and Return of the Jedi is also lacking Han Solo, which is a selling point to many fans of the universe. The lack of Han during this time period is probably why they didn’t start new stories set between Empire and Return of the Jedi, but with his death in Force Awakens and him getting his own standalone film they could start adding stories. The most interesting would center around how Luke gained power and created a new lightsaber. The creation of his green saber should be the focus on one entire novel. I would personally love a film about this time focusing on Luke, but I doubt this would happen with so many adventures and films already centered on the last Jedi.

This is a time period which should be explored, because it is set during some of the heaviest fighting between the Empire and Rebellion. The Rebellion were at their strongest, and so were the Empire. Maybe a new animated show is in the works and will start during this time period and go through the events of Return of Jedi. If Star Wars Rebels is only going to be on for a few more seasons this would make sense. Dave Filoni is working on a new project, and maybe this would be it. Regardless of what new canon is created for this time frame, it is a gap which should be addressed. There is too much story between the two episodes not to be told.

Comment and let me know what stories you would like to see set between Episode Four and Five. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie – Movie Review: Joker and Batman’s Relationship Ex...

An animation spoof superhero kid’s movie using Legos.  Yep, we now live in a world where that exists.

The Lego Batman Movie, starring the voices of Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, and directed by Chris McKay. The Lego Batman Movie tells the story of origins of the Bat-team and how Batman goes from a loner superhero into accepting help from others, done in hilarious fashion. The animation is top notch and continues the great work from Warner Brothers animation featured in The Lego Movie.  Lego Batman is a fun enjoyable movie which can be enjoyed by everyone.

One of the highlights from The Lego Movie was Batman and the spoofy take the film delivered on his character. The Lego Batman movie takes the same premise and spreads it over 90 minutes, and surprisingly gives the character an arc and growth. The Batman in the film has to learn to accept to accept help from others, and face the fear of letting people get close to him. It’s a fairly standard story, but when adding in all of the Batman mythology it takes the spoofing of the character to another level. The interactions between Alfred and Batman are some of the best in the film and they have a few of the best jokes. The way the film plays up the ridiculous premise of a rich orphan boy who fights crime for attention, but at the same time keeps everyone away was executed perfectly.   
The team building and the character interactions are the best parts of the movie. Barbara Gordon voiced by Rosario Dawson stole the movie for me. She had some of the best spoof jokes about the character of Batman and his overall job performance. The montage with her introduction was great, and it was the perfect way to integrate her into the movie. The entire setup for the film was well done and very well paced.  Dick Grayson voiced by Michael Cera was also perfectly cast. Cera did a great job in Sausage Party last year and followed it up well in Lego Batman. I would like for him to get some more live action roles again. Hollywood needs more Michael Cera. They nailed all of the heroes with their ludicrous traits from shows and comics and highlighted the silliness in a reverential way.

The way the story was told and the team assembled was funny, but the best relationship in the film is between Batman and The Joker. It was the perfect spoof for every iteration of Batman which has been shown on screen to date. The way Joker pines for Batman was pitch perfect for a silly animation comedy about Batman and The Joker. It hit the right amount of truth like any spoof should to be funny. Again the comedy about Batman is never mean spirited, it is a light hearted roast of a character which is beloved by almost everyone. Chris McKay and the people who made Lego Batman know the characters involved and paid the right amount of respect in making fun of them.

There isn’t much to complain about in Lego Batman. The pacing after the first fight might have been a tad bit slow, but this is the only issue. It is an extremely well made fun family film. My wife who doesn’t like superhero films enjoyed seeing Lego Batman. The small pacing issues are the only nitpicks I have for the film. The inside jokes and references might have gone over many people’s head, and I’m sure I didn’t understand many of the actual comic references, but understanding isn’t needed to enjoy the actual story the film is telling. The main point of the story is easy to follow and understand. The easter eggs and jokes are just extra icing for those who are in the know.  

The Lego Batman movie is a fun film which can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s well worth seeing and worth owning when it is available. It is a film I will be able to watch countless times with my family because of the execution in story. There aren’t many good spoof movies made anymore, but Lego Batman was able to inject some much needed life into the genre. If they announced a Lego Star Wars film spoofing the saga it would be welcome, instead of the one which was recently announced. A Lego version of the films in this vain would be perfect. Hopefully Lego and Warner Brothers continue to make great animated films and push Pixar as the top animation studio. The second effort was every bit as strong as the first, and I’m looking forward to Lego Ninjago later this year.

What did you think of Lego Batman? Is it one of the best Batman films made? Comment and let me know. Like Share subscribe and all that fun stuff. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

John Wick Chapter 2 – Movie Review: When Will Chapter 3 Be Announced?

Amazing and Fantastic action, but was there too much?
John Wick Chapter 2 starring Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Common, Ruby Rose, Laurence Fishburne and directed by Chad Stahelski. John Wick Chapter 2 picks up a short time after the first film ended with John looking for his stolen car. The movie hits the ground running with a stunning action scene, then gets into the plot for the second film. John Wick going back to his assassin roots caused a crime boss to call in a favor John must comply with. His compliance and subsequent actions force John into increasingly dangerous situations throughout the course of the movie.

The story for John Wick Chapter 2 is not as compelling as the first, but that doesn’t mean the film isn’t fantastic. The first John Wick hooked you with emotion, and the second Chapter doesn’t have the same emotional hold which set the first story in motion. The second installment is more of a traditional action movie and in a few places the story does tend to drag. This is the one of only downsides to the movie, and this small negative is outweighed by everything else found in the film. The only other slight negative the second chapter offers is the villain. He isn’t as compelling as the first, and is tad silly, but I think the directors were shooting for this. The first film had some absurd and silly moments with the villains as well, and the second chapter keeps some of these same aspects. There is very little else however to complain about in the sequel

The action scenes alone in John Wick are worth the price of admission, along with how the movie builds on the already fantastic universe from the first film. One of the biggest additions in Chapter two is the character Laurence Fishburne plays. He is a leader of another underground organization which blends in perfectly to the world of John Wick. The character he plays is fantastic and you can tell he was having fun playing off of Keanu in a movie again. The sheer jubilance he has in delivering his lines was great and he stole the scenes he was in. The Continental, the secret assassin hotel, was a great addition in the first movie, and Fishburne being king of another secret group is equally fantastic. The Continental hotel is highlighted again and Ian McShane’s manager role is featured more in this film than the first.  He is great, along with everyone else who works in the hotel. The entire world the film is set in feels nuanced, and without truly explaining anything the movie is easy to follow. The audience is dropped into the world and nothing is spoon fed in exposition.  This is refreshing for a film. The mystery of the world is part of what make John Wick fascinating.

Adding to the world are the pre-existing relationships which are also never fully explained. One which stood out the most besides Fishburne is Common who plays another assassin, Cassian. He has some truly great fight scenes with Keanu, and does a great job of being the equal to John Wick. Having John Wick getting injuries and struggling throughout the course of both movies is another strength for the franchise. John Wick is an exceptional bad ass, but he isn’t invulnerable and it’s great to see how the character struggles to accomplish his tasks.  This is the displayed well with his fights with Cassian. I could watch their fight scenes on repeat, they are brutal, and extremely realistic. There isn’t a bad fight in the film and Ruby Rose holds her own as well, though you could tell her fight had a stunt double. She plays the lead henchmen to the main villain, and her character was interesting because she was mute. She signed through the film, which allowed the filmmakers drop in more of the great subtitles they use in both of the movies. I could understand those who may not like her character, but I thought it was another interesting take and addition to the overall world created.

John Wick Chapter 2 simply put is a fantastic action film. There are outstanding action sequences throughout the course of the entire movie, with so many fantastic headshots. They may have even pushed passed a line with the amount shown, but I loved every minute. The action feels real, and is shot flawlessly to where the audience never is lost with what is going on. The environments they choose for each action sequence also add another element to each scene and they become another character in the shots. If anyone was a fan of the first film this is a must watch and must own. If you are a fan of action films and didn’t see the first, watch it, and then go see John Wick Chapter 2. There is little doubt to me that the film will get a third chapter, and I’ll be there on opening night to watch. Go out and see John Wick Chapter 2. 

Comment and let me know what you thought of John Wick Chapter 2 if you have seen it. If not are you planning on seeing it? Will you be excited when they announce the inevitable Chapter 3

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Is There Too Much Streaming Content?

Netflix has around sixty shows and movies which have been produced by the streaming service to date. Today Netflix announced a litany of more shows and movies coming to the online service. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, just to name a few, are the new normal in producing online viewing material. Netflix kicked things off with the truly masterful series, House of Cards and hasn’t looked backed. Not everything has been a hit, but enough has been stellar to keep people watching. With the streaming services adding more and more content it gives the viewers more and more options, but it also increases the chances of things being bad, and then devaluing the brand of the services overall.

When House of Cards came out and became a major hit it announced Netflix as a player in the television market. It changed the game. With Orange as the New Black and numerous other series and films they have proven they produce high quality entertainment. The same can be said of Amazon and the shows they have produced. Hulu is newer to the game and has adopted a different more traditional model in how they release their content. All television and movie studios have hits or misses and consumers base on what they watch by trailers and buzz around the shows. With so much content coming out it will be hard to pick the good from the bad, or even get to everything coming out. Then you have to add all the regular content on television. This means with so many choices consumers are going to go to services with the best track record for providing the best content.

Is more necessarily better? If Netflix and other services put out more and more content, but the quality goes down it could eventually hurt their business. There are so many options having fewer shows, but the highest quality might be a safer bet. HBO doesn’t produce a vast amount of shows, but the ones they do are usually of high quality. They have had their misses, but HBO usually adopts a practice of producing a few shows which are viewed in the highest regard. If HBO says they are coming out with a new show, it is usually something you want to tune in for.

The major streaming services coming out with more and more content is great for content creators, but it also means their content is harder to find. If a show is truly exceptional word of mouth will spread for it. Stranger Things is an excellent example of this. Netflix didn’t promote the show heavily, but it took off because everyone was talking about it. Great shows will rise to the top, but people are more willing to keep coming back to the service or network if the quality of the content is always high. Giving Adam Sandler a three picture movie deal to have him produce crappy films with his friends doesn’t promote quality. If there isn’t a high standard adhered to about what is produced, then people will be less likely to seek out the shows on the services, and the good shows on the service might get missed. This will force good content creators to seek out the networks or services with good shows, because they know consumers watch.

The amount of content on the streaming services will likely continue to increase over the next few years until there is an overload reached. Once this happens the services will start to cut back and a balance will be reached eventually. The streaming content still has to contend with the shows coming out on network and cable television, and there is still great content from traditional sources. With the advent of the streaming services and the way people are cutting cords networks have to step up their game as well and look to produce more and more quality content. This of course is always good for the consumers, I just worry Netflix and other services are starting to overreach on what they are starting to produce. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Stranger Things 2 Super Bowl 2017 Ad - The Boys are Ghostbusters

Thirty seconds is a short, but it's enough time to get excited for the second season of Stranger Things. This ad stole the show for trailers during the Super Bowl. The movies trailers were good, but this got me more excited than anything else on Super Bowl Sunday. 

There isn't much shown in the short trailer, but we get some great shots of the guys in Ghostbusters costumes, and why wouldn't they be? They are real life Ghostbusters in their world. Ghostbusters would greatly affect them because they would be apt to believe in it more than anyone else. They would probably try to start their own version since they know things that go bump in the night do exist in the world of Stranger Things. 

The show does look like it is going bigger, and expand on the upside down. It looks to be spilling over into the real world more than it did in the first season. I'm excited to see where the story is going, and the perfect synth music and 80's graphic at the end was the perfect touch, as always, for the show. It made me want to go back and start the first season over as soon as I saw it. Can't wait to watch.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Was Luke Skywalker planning to leave Ahch-To?

The planet Ach-To is where Rey finds Luke at the end of Episode 7 The Force Awakens. The planet is remote and apparently far away from the main hub of the galaxy in the Star Wars Universe. It might be the location of the first Jedi Temple and it is apparently where Luke has been hiding since Ben Solo fell to the dark side and became Kylo Ren. The major question and mystery is why Luke decided to go into seclusion. Having your nephew fall to the dark side and more than likely murder all of the current trainees would be devastating, but would it be enough to drive him away indefinitely? Is Luke on the island because he feels he failed the galaxy and can’t help anymore? Was he looking for a way to fight Snoke and Kylo? Episode Eight The Last Jedi will answer these questions, but why not speculate, because that’s fun too.

Let’s first discuss if Luke knows what is going on in the rest of the galaxy. If Snoke felt an awakening in the force with Rey, I am assuming Luke felt the same thing. I know J.J Abrams gave an excuse about how BB-8 coxed R2-D2 out of dormant status, but I still think Luke had something to do with it. It just makes sense in the story for Luke to have felt the awakening of a powerful Jedi and know he would need to be found. He wanted to ensure he could be found, and left a portion with Lor San Tekka and the other with R2. The other question would be as to why Lor San Tekka was on Jakku. It could either be because he knew Jakku was important and discovered Rey or knew she was there and wanted to protect her. Luke could also have been in contact with Lor San Tekka since he had the map. Luke may have wanted to keep up to date on some of the issues which were happening in the galaxy.

The question if Luke was going to leave the planet is in regards to the destruction of Hosnian Prime. He would have felt the massive loss of life on the planet, and this might have forced his hand. This is one reason I was expecting Luke to show up on Starkiller Base during the final confrontation. He felt the loss of life and might have wanted to come back to the galaxy to protect it. This only makes sense for the type of character Luke is, unless the loss of all of his trainees affected him to an extreme. The other reason why he may have not left is he felt the Awakening of Rey. While he felt the destruction of Hosnian Prime he also felt her awaken within the force and knew she would be coming to him. Luke with the force can also see into the future and may have foreseen much of what happened. Luke could have learned from his past mistakes from rushing off to help, and instead practiced patience because he knew his interference would in the end not help. If this were not the case I think we will find Luke would have been on his way back to protect the galaxy.
The Last Jedi will show Luke knew Rey would awaken at some point and have to seek him out. I still think Luke is related to her in some fashion, but it doesn’t have to be the case for the story to work. The tweet from the official Star War account revealing the name of the film was phrased in a telling way. The tweet has the phrase: The next chapter in the Skywalker saga, which makes me think Rey is in some fashion a Skywalker. True the film is going to focus more on Luke, and Kylo is a Skywalker, but I still expect Rey to be related as well. Again for the story to work she doesn’t have to be, but I think they are setting it up for her to be related. If this is the case it opens up many questions as to why Luke abandoned Rey on Jakku, but I have faith enough in the story group for this to be addressed. Luke knew Rey was powerful, and did something to her to suppress her powers.  Then when she was old enough the Force would awaken in her and she would be forced to seek him out.  

The big question the The Last Jedi should answer is if Luke is hiding on Ahch-To because he feels he has let down the Galaxy, or because he knew he couldn’t fight Snoke when Kylo went to the dark side. This forced him to go into into hiding to bide his time. The conflict Luke should feel in the movie should be a focus point. He should question his actions and decisions and if they were right for the galaxy at large. This is one reason I still loved The Force Awakens, it opened up so many questions for the story going forward. It can be argued to many things were left unanswered in episode seven, but we knew there were going to be three movies to tell this particular story. Luke should have felt the pull to leave Ahch-To when the Hosnian system was blown up, the question is why didn’t he? There must be a reason and probably multiple ones as to why the Jedi Master went into hiding, and getting the answers to these questions is one of many reasons why I’m extremely excited for The Last Jedi.

Comment and let me know why you think Luke is hiding out on a remote planet and if you think he should have been planning to go back to the galaxy at large. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Not a Dune Fan, but Still Excited for Denis Villeneuve Directing

News dropped from Brian Herbert, son of original author Frank Herbert of Dune, that Legendary pictures had signed Denis Villeneuve to direct a new film adaptation for the book. I personally have never gotten the appeal of Dune. I read the first book a few years ago, and didn’t get into it. It was a perfectly fine novel and story, but not as epic or far reaching as I was looking forward too. My expectations for the book may have been too high since it had been built up by so many before I read it. Getting Denis Villeneuve to direct a film which he loves the content, gets me excited.

Denis Villeneuve has directed two of my favorite films from the past two years. Sicario was fantastic, and so is Arrival. He is an amazing director and hasn’t had a miss yet. His upcoming Blade Runner sequel is one of my most anticipated films of the year of this year. He obviously has a passion for trying to bring meaningful Science Fiction stories to the big screen. Arrival was the first, Blade Runner will be the second, and he will follow it up with Dune. Then the question becomes how many Dune films will he direct or will he step aside and let other directors continue on the story of the universe? I would think he would move onto another project.

These projects because of Denis Villeneuve have a chance to make the Oscar and other awards ceremonies take notice of genre films. With Arrival being nominated this year he could easily follow it up with Blade Runner with its subject matter.  Dune also has a deep subject matter, and while I didn’t necessarily love the book, Villeneuve could transform the story to film and make me take notice. It doesn’t happen often that a film is better than book, but for me this one could be the case.  It doesn’t happen often, but with a good director it is a possible.

Overall the news of a Dune adaptation doesn’t get me excited, but having Denis Villeneuve direct it does. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What Does Ben Affleck’s leaving the directing chair for The Batman say about Justice League?

Variety dropped a bombshell on the nerd community yesterday with the news that Ben Affleck will no longer be directing The Batman film. The statement in the article from Variety makes it sound like everything is great with Affleck and the studio. Affleck states in the article that he wants to just focus more acting in the movie. This doesn’t really make sense, since Affleck has turned in two fantastic performances in two great movies which he directed. Argo and The Town are two wonderful movies and he did everything for those films. Affleck can direct and act in the same film with no issues, and him backing out, regardless of what the article in Variety states, sends up warning flairs.

To start off, maybe Affleck really does just want to focus on acting and producing the film, or maybe he has something going on personally which makes him not want to direct. This could be the case, but to this sounds like WB is trying to mettle in what Affleck wants to do with the film. With the news of the The Flash getting a page one rewrite and so many other off shoot films being announced or canceled coming from WB, the studio feels rudderless when it comes to their cinematic universe. This scenario is more than likely the case and Affleck just doesn’t want to direct something which is being meddled with by studio executives.

A more alarming narrative could be that Ben Affleck has seen an early cut of The Justice League and isn’t happy with the result. He is an Executive Producer on Justice League and this gave me hope that he could reign in Snyder on narratives issues. This is highly speculative, but since filming is done he could be worried about how poor the movie has turned out. If he knows the movie is bad and more than likely going to bomb critically he knows there may never even be a Batman film starring him. If Wonder Woman isn’t a hit, and then Justice League isn’t good DC would probably just bite the bullet and start completely over.

This is of course a worst case scenario, but with all of the news about The Flash, and other issues from DC, it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. I hope this isn’t the case, but I can’t help but wonder with how things have been handled at the studio. The rocky start for the DC cinematic universe is strange. WB is a great studio and makes great films, just a few years before Christopher Nolan completed a fantastic Batman trilogy. This also left them falling behind Marvel in having a connected universe, which may have been their first mistake. They shouldn’t have felt the need to catch up. Man of Steel isn’t universally loved, but it is still the best of any DC connected film, and after its release WB seems to be chasing and reacting to issues instead of just making good films. They are trying to play catch up instead of just letting their films be good movies first and then connect them.

I hope if The Batman does happen it gets a great director and has a fantastic story. Hopefully Wonder Woman is great along with Justice League and this becomes a non-story as time goes on. I hope for this, but as it stands right now this doesn’t seem realistic with the news coming out of the studio. Let me know what you think about Ben Affleck not being the director of The Batman. Also do you think this might mean there are issues with Justice League? 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Trailer #2 Thoughts: Epic and Magical.

The second trailer for Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, and Luke Evans showcased more of the classic Disney story. The trailer showcased some of the magic the film has in store for fans of the original classic. 

I've been on the fence from what has been released up to this point for the movie, but this trailer sold me. The live action version looks to have captured some of the sheer scope and majesty of the original animated film. The movie could still end up not being a hit, but everything points to the film being fantastic with the framing of this trailer. 

The only negative from the trailer is some of the lines coming from Ewan McGregor's character Lumiere. It just seemed a tad forced, but it could just be the way the trailer was cut. Overall the trailer was fantastic, and gets me excited to go see the film on March 17th. 

What did you think of the trailer? 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Founder – Movie Review: Performance over Substance

One thing is certain, Michael Keaton is a fantastic actor.

The Founder starring Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Laura Dern and directed by John Lee Hancock. The Founder is based on the true life story of Ray Kroc who built McDonald’s into modern fast food restaurant giant it is today. The movie starts with Kroc as a struggling milkshake mixer salesmen. He travels to town to town, drive-in to drive-in trying to convince each individual owner to buy his new mixer with little to no success. Like a lightning bolt a call comes in requesting five mixers from a small restaurant in California owned by the McDonald brothers. Kroch drives out west to view their operation, becomes inspired and wants to help the brothers franchise the restaurant. The majority of the film then focuses on the relationship between Kroch and the brothers and Kroch’s incessant need to become successful.

The Founder is telling an interesting story, and Michael Keaton is fantastic as Ray Kroc, but the execution of the narrative of the film is lacking. Keaton turns in another masterful performance, but it’s the story they are trying to tell about Kroc which is a little lost. The film doesn’t seem to know how they want to portray Kroch. In the film he is portrayed as an ambitious man, and the person who built the franchise empire of McDonalds couldn’t be anything but ambitious. The desire which drives him also makes him out to be a less than savory person to deal with. The portrayal of Kroch being both an ambitious man with dreams, but also someone with no regard for others around him isn’t executed well in the movie. Hanock could have done a better job of walking the line between the two different portrayals of Kroch’s character.

The best evidence of Kroch’s personality not working in the film is his relationship with the first wife played by Laura Dern. There relationship is supposed to be strained in the film, but it’s always cold, and is never truly explored very well. I’m not sure why Dern’s character is in the film.  As his current wife she tries to support him, but when she does Kroc squashes her efforts. Kroch in the film never sees her as being behind him while she does try to let him chase his dream. Then the film throws in another love interest which again paints Kroch in a negative light. He unceremoniously dumps his current wife for a third, who in real life is women he stays with until he died in 1984. This love triangle muddied up the story and took time away from the narrative of Kroch building the McDonalds empire while stepping on the McDonalds brothers.

If The Founder was focused on telling a true to life story about Kroch, then they should have also included his first wife and daughter which are never brought up in the film. Since this is never mentioned it would have been better for the story if they would have cut out the second wife and to focus just on how Kroc built the business and his interactions with the McDonalds brothers. This is what the movie is about in the end, Kroch’s ambition and drive and his willingness to step on anyone to be successful. The movie is at its best when it is showing him trying to figure out ways to grow the business while still working with the brothers. What gets lost is the duel nature they use in portraying Kroch. He was a complicated man and some movies can do a good job in displaying the complexities, The Founder just missed the mark.

This isn’t to say the film is completely without merit. The story about how the corporation grew and how Kroch managed to steal it away from the McDonald brothers is fascinating. This kept me engaged in watching the movie and minus the scenes with the wife the pacing of the film was well done. Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch do great jobs as the brothers and Offerman in particular does a good job. It was strange to see him without a mustache or beard, but it worked for the movie. The story they tell about how they came with the speedy service model was interesting to watch and well done within the movie. The film should have really focused more on the relationship between the brothers and Kroch. It does focus on this for much of the film and when it does is when the movie is most interesting.

The Founder overall is a decent movie. It’s worth watching if and when it comes to Netflix or another streaming service. It’s probably even worth a matinee price or rental, but it’s not something I would rush out to see. Keaton’s performance is worth the effort of a watch. The movie just would have been better if they stuck to a more coherent way to portray the character of Ray Kroc in the film. Some movies can do a good job of showing a character’s duel nature, like Walk the Line, but The Founder just was lacking.