Film Review of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse” (2018)

spiderverse

Promotional image for the 2018 film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse”

About an hour ago as I write this, my son, grandson, and I were walking out of the theater after watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). This animated film chronicles the coming of age and origin of the Miles Morales Spider-Man (voiced in the film by Shameik Moore), who, in the movie, looks about 13 or 14 years old.

I know I just put up a link, but I haven’t read the page yet, so don’t know much about the Morales “Spidey.” I didn’t want to find out more about him before I watched the movie, and for years, I have only been tangentially aware of him. I have to admit, when I first heard of that version of Spider-Man, I figured it was Marvel taking a highly popular franchise and just inserting a person of color in order to attract progressive readers as well as pull in long-term, hardcore Spidey fans.

This movie changed all of those misconceptions.

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DVD Film Review: Black Panther

black panther

Promotional poster for the 2018 film “Black Panther”

Okay, so last night, I watched Black Panther (2018) and loved it. Actually, for me, picking up the main themes wasn’t difficult at all, and yes it is more than just another superhero story. It’s both the epic tale of a new King who is struggling to determine the direction of his nation, and a spiritual journey for personal truth, especially between father and son.

I’m not being frivolous or unkind when I say that the latter reminded me of the 1994 Disney film The Lion King. After all, Simba (voiced by Matthew Broderick) has to come to terms with his guilt over his father Mufasa’s (voiced by James Earl Jones) death and his worthiness to become a King. He is also challenged by his rival Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons) and must risk death fighting for the right to ascend the throne.

Oh, by the way, spoiler alert. I’ll be dropping plenty of them, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop reading here.

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Movie Review of “Thor: Ragnarok”

thor-ragnarok

Promotional image for “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)

I watched Thor: Ragnarok (2017) last week and loved it. It wasn’t the perfect film, but of the three “Thor” movies, it was clearly the best.

Things I Liked

I really liked the dynamic, both between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and between Thor and Banner (although, in a way, it’s the same thing). I’m glad that Thor not only was able to hold his own against the Hulk, but actually beat him, that is until the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) cheated by triggering Thor’s pain-inducing device.

They ended up being “odd couple” buddies, which brings up another point.

The two previous Thor films and just about any solo movie version of the Hulk have all been pretty blah. These are characters who have successfully carried their own comic book titles for decades. Why don’t they translate well to film?

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Pre-Review Jitters

overt and covert racism

Found on social media

I’ll have to keep this relatively short since I promised my wife I’d help her in the yard this afternoon.

I tend to “catch up” on movies after they’ve left the theater by renting the DVDs from the public library. Even if the film is a stinker, I’m not out a dime, though I’ll never get those two hours back.

Last night, I watched the 2017 film Thor: Ragnarok and completely enjoyed it. I’ll write a more comprehensive review later. Relative to this blog, I’ve also watched and should review Wonder Woman (another winner), Spider-Man: Homecoming (ditto), and Lucy (uh…).

Tonight’s feature is Avengers: Infinity War.

I’ve put a library hold on the Black Panther, and thereby hangs a tale, or at least trepidation.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi – A DVD Review

star wars

Promotional poster for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I finally got around to seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi on DVD. I checked it out from my local public library because, if I ended up hating the film, I could say that I didn’t waste a penny on it, or give up my hard-earned bucks to Disney.

I have to admit that I didn’t have the best attitude as I slipped the disc into my PC’s DVD player, because J.J. Abrams went on record as saying anyone who didn’t like “Last Jedi” were threatened by women, as if there could be no other possible reason for not liking the film. Both director Rian Johnson and producer Kathleen Kennedy have gotten some heat as well, but in the latter’s case, it was mostly over the Han Solo movie, which I am surprised to find is still playing at some local theaters.

Since “Jedi” has been out for roughly seven months now, I’ll assume almost everybody (besides me) has seen it long ago and I’ll load my review with spoilers.

First off, the obviously stupid/disappointing stuff.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: A Film Review

antman and wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) movie poster

Yesterday, my nine-year-old grandson and I saw the film Ant-Man and the Wasp starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Michael Peña, Michael Douglas, and the amazingly cute Abby Ryder Fortson.

I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but I can’t promise to conceal everything.

I read another review of the film (and sadly, I must confess I can’t remember where) which said the movie was the story of three fathers, Scott Lang (Rudd), Hank Pym (Douglas) and Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), each trying to save their own daughters, although Foster isn’t biologically Ava’s (Hannah John-Kaman) Dad.

After seeing the movie, I’d say that’s a fair analysis, and as a Dad and Grandpa, I enjoyed this aspect of the film, especially since all three men are depicted as heroes, which is somewhat rare in today’s entertainment industry.

Of course, all three are flawed in some way, and they wouldn’t be interesting if they weren’t. Scott, for all of his good intentions, manages to screw up almost everything he tries for a good part of the film, but manages to redeem himself in the end.

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A Film Review of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

rogue oneMy two sons, my grandson, and I went to see the Star Wars movie Rogue One last night. We had to slog through snow-covered streets and icy parking lots, but we made it to the theater in one piece.

I’ve been anticipating this film for quite some time, and have heard that it’s one of the best, if not the best Star Wars films ever.

I enjoyed last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens very much, but after repeated viewings, came to realize it was just the first three Star Wars films rehashed. J.J. Abrams can’t seem to produce original content for either the Star Wars or Star Trek fanchises.

But Rogue One had a different director and an interesting premise, so I had high hopes.

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V for Vendetta: A Retro DVD Review

vYesterday, I reviewed the V for Vendetta graphic novel. I was generally impressed, but a lot of “dystopia” material came out of the latter half of the 20th century, so by the time I got around to reading Moore and Lloyd’s work, I found it hard to be overly impressed. Also, the length of the story and the numerous elements introduced made it difficult to follow at times. That figures prominently into my review of the film V for Vendetta (2005).

First of all, who wouldn’t be excited to watch a film starring Hugo Weaving (as “V”), Natalie Portman (as “Evey”) and particularly John Hurt (as “Adam Sutler”)? I was really looking forward to the experience but at the same time, worried because films almost never do justice to their original print or graphic novel source. This time, I’m not so sure the rule holds.

I mentioned before that I believe Moore was a bit too lengthy in his writing of the graphic novel. It made it difficult for me as the reader to be able to grasp and hold all of the various threads he introduced and have them all come together in a cohesive manner by the last page. As a film where everything had to be introduced, expressed, and resolved in 132 minutes (the film’s running time), brevity and economy was forced upon the story, making the movie version of “V for Vendetta” quite a bit more efficient than the print version. Of course, part of the motivation behind cutting down the length was to accommodate modern audiences, both in how long they can tolerate sitting on their bum in a movie theatre, and in appealing to a wider population than might be attracted to Moore’s and Lloyd’s production.

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Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 25 Years Later

T2So July 3rd was the 25th anniversary of the debut of the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and I have to admit, it’s my favorite movie from the franchise (although I’ll always have a soft spot for the original 1984 Terminator).

So I decided to watch it again for about the billionth time, but with the idea that it was now a quarter of a century old.

Each “Terminator” movie reset when judgment day, the day when Skynet decided to blow us all to hell, would occur. I can’t watch one film and think too much about the others because it gives me a headache.

Arnold, of course, is Arnold. It’s why we watch the Terminator films, particularly the first two, to see him in his prime, to see him being totally badass as the Terminator.

Since his CPU chip is reset to “learning mode” in the film, Arnold gets more of a chance to act than he did in the first film. OK, Arnold will never be known as a great actor (though he’s gotten better over the years), but his famous one-liners and the presence he brings to the role is more than worth the price of admission.

Linda Hamilton turned in a great performance as the tortured Sarah Connor, struggling under the weight of knowing the future, and desperate to stop it, not only for her son’s sake, but for all the children.

Edward Furlong was compelling as John Connor although there was no way he was going to pull off being ten years old.

“We’ve got Skynet by the balls now,” is one of my favorite lines, although every time he screamed and his voice broke made me wish his balls had already dropped.

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Review: The Martian vs. The Martian

the martianI know it’s rather late in the day to write this sort of review because both the novel and the film version (Starring Matt Damon) of Andy Weir’s “The Martian” have been available for quite some time.

However, I find them both rather compelling, which is saying something, especially for films. Usually, I’ll see a film I like, maybe a few times, and then put it away for a while. However, I feel as if I could read the novel and watch the movie repeatedly, with the tale of Mark Watney remaining as fresh as ever.

For those few of you who are unfamiliar with the book and the movie, they describe the struggles of Astronaut Mark Watney, who is presumed dead, killed in a sandstorm, and left alone on Mars.

To say that author Andy Weir has a background in science is faint praise. The guy solves problems in orbital mechanics as a hobby. Although he admits that he probably couldn’t survive on Mars like his creation Watney, his mind and imagination creates an all-too realistic set of events that challenge Mark’s ability to survive each and every day in an environment totally hostile to life.

I won’t go into the plot. For that, I encourage you to read the book and watch the film. As with most books turned into movies, the novel contains far more detailed information. I’ve read some of the Amazon reviews, and a few folks believe there are too many details.

To me, it’s a survival manual and an adventure tale rolled into one, with a side of stand-up comedy.

For scientific accuracy, I’d choose the novel. The climax of the story is handled, in my opinion, a bit more realistically in the book than how the movie depicts our hero’s rescue. On the other hand, the book ends with Watney aboard a spaceship headed for home. End of story. In the movie, we see what happens next.

(Spoiler alert).

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