Summer Movie Reviews: Now with 100% More Dick Messages

- Guardians of the Galaxy 4/5

I really do love Marvel Studios. They are just really good and being good at making good movies. One of the best executed things too is that if you were unaware of this as a Marvel property, you wouldn’t know – save for like 2 itsy bitsy Avengers/Thor: The Dark World hints. Its very accessible. It as easy to understand  for comic nerds and regular mutants alike.

Its going to be silly, its going to be convenient, but its going to be fun. The music is perfect.

I like being able to go into a comic book movie and not really know how its going to go. I’ve read enough/seen enough cartoons to know a lot of the story in things like Cap and Spiderman.

Everyone in the movie does a good job at doing their own thing. I struggle with isolating anyone as a standout performer and not by anyone’s fault, but because everyone hits their notes.

  • Pratt is basically Han Solo mixed with the gopher from Caddyshack.
  • Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista both do well as 2 different species of green sorta psychos. Saldana is just so freaking gorgeous and does the femme fatale thing very well, while Batista as Drax committed such a huge face turn the WWE should take notes.
  • Whoever wrote Groot deserves equal praise to whoever animated him.
  • The “weak” link for me was Bradley Cooper as Rocket Racoon. Not because he was bad, but I had heard so much hype before hand that I was expecting a show stealing performance.

The plot actually quite standard at this point which is almost disappointing, but necessary*, and it’s executed well. Baddy wants the McGuffin because he’s evil and wants to kaboom everything for his evil boner. An underdog story in a different style of underdog story.

As far as Marvel villains, Ronan falls much much closer to the Loki of end good, versus the lame end with Malekith. He plays it straight and it works real well in this setting.

There is a lot of feels too. Be prepared to have your feels felt up.

Lets sum it up this way: This movie has made me pre-hyped for the Avengers 3: Thanos’ Glove Boner/ Avengers+Guardians team up. And we won’t be seeing that until 2018. Give me Nova.

*SPOILERS- Highlight to see* Marvel is setting up for Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, which needs 6 Infinity stones to give him literally all the power ever. Tesseract (Avengers) and Ether (Thor: The Dark World) are two of the “stones” or powers the stone represents. Its theorized that Extremis (Iron Man 3) is another. Putting that together with the purple one in this movie and we’re at 4 of 6. 

Other reviews:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2/5
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 5/5

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction 2/5

A Million Ways to Die in the West 0/5
Godzilla 5/5
X-Men: Days of Future Past  4/5
The Amazing Spiderman 2 1/5
Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It 4/5
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 5/5
The Raid 3/5
Need for Speed 3/5
300: Rise of an Empire 3/5

To Come

- Hercules July 25
– 
Batman: Assault on Arkham (DVD) August 12
– The Expendables 3 August 15
- Sin City: A Dame to Kill For August 22

Ranking the Modern Marvel Movies, 6-1

Into the best of the best. And quite honestly these movies are more or less interchangeable at the top.

6. X-men: Days of Future Past

Plot holes, shmot holes. It was so great as a turbonerd to see the entire cast, except Nightcrawler, all together. It also replaces all the poo taste left in your mouth from X3 and Origins: Wolverine. Hitting the rest button in such a way is really risky, but they did it in a very satisfying and interesting way while still leaving the door open for both sets of X-casts. I love timeline stories. Enjoyed how it made Wolverine less of THE super hero and more of a dude and put a lot of focus on the rest of the cast. The great layering of social commentary that is so important to Xmen was handled well and the scale/scope was really given its due.

5. X2

For one whole year we had the gold standard for comic book movies. Now, we just have the benchmark for every Xmen film for eternity to aspire towards. I don’t think I can pick anything out in this movie that wasn’t excellent. Nightcrawler’s implementation was perfect. Still might be Hugh Jackman’s best Wolverine performance to date. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart could not have possibly done any better in their roles. And Brian Singer was able to nail the subtext/social commentary while balancing it with the action and avoiding some annoying and preachy movie with special effects. The expanded cast of mutants was great to see and even though many had only a scene or two, it was worth it and not at all cluttered. What a joy to watch.

4. Iron Man

This and Batman Begins are the holy grail of super hero origin stories. Just nailed it. One of the best parts is that the relationship with the villain is established early in the movie versus “meeting” them halfway through. This film launched Marvel into the universe they are in now and has launched Tony Stark as a character much the same way that Jack Sparrow became as big/bigger than the films. There is excellent chemistry between characters and they trade witticisms like real people versus comedy characters. Iron Man is as perfectly cast as any movie on this list. Robert Downey Jr nails the rockstar flippancy of Tony Stark, as well as the character arc from playboy to responsible playboy. Lastly, Iron Man is basically the only Avengers era movie where the hero kills and it isn’t cheap. That is an accomplishment in super hero fiction.  Jeff Bridges was an excellent cigar munching fatcat. The ending serves as an excellent contrast of motives. Best of all? They got the suit right. Nothing could have saved this if the suit was wrong. A++

3. Spider Man 2

Stop smashing your keyboard that this is not #1. From here up, its literally a case of 1a, 1b ad 1c. This stole the mantle from X2 as the gold standard and took almost a decade to topple/be met. It has every element from the comics that makes Spider Man so great. The angst, variety of emotions, goofiness, melodrama, romance, and intensity and has it all spun (like a web!) together expertly. Every scene is a perfect compliment to every other scene and fully reached and surpassed the potential that anyone could have forseen for the super hero “genre” of movies. The only thing, and this is minor, is that Kirsten Dunst still just isn’t up to par with the rest of the movie but she still holds her own well. Toby McGuire perfectly captured Peter Parker in this movie in a way I’m unconvinced Andrew Garfield ever will. I haven’t even touched on Doc Oc yet, which was masterfully done. The train scene, pictured, is my favourite scene from any Spider Man movie. The perfect Spider Man movie.

2. The Avengers

The fact that this movie didn’t crash and burn is unbelievable. Just think about the task at hand here, then realize that they pulled it off and the only crap scenes in the entire movie are when awkward dialogue about “red in my ledger” is brought up. The rest? Flawless, especially the smaller character dynamics that only someone familiar with the cartoons/comics would recognize. Such as the various bromances, who has animosity with who, character pairings, etc. It hits so well on so many little things. Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk steals the show and satiates a lot of the hunger for a solo Hulk film. I never understood a lot of the hype behind Joss Whedon but with this film I got it. The little things are done as well as the big things and the character interaction all seems so natural. Its long, but it never feels as long as it really is and everything in the movie, and other bits from other films, come around in a nice full circle here to make a completely satisfying and exhilarating experience.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

One of the things that is so impressive about this movie is how different it feels compared to The Avengers, Thor: TDW and Iron Man 3. There is a lot more plot and considering how heavy it is into espionage and thriller, versus CGI action movie, it had to be that way. You’ve got double and triple crosses, Nazi’s, a boatload of assassins and politics. You’re also taking a guy who’s only powers are incredible fitness, a shield and punching dudes really really hard and taking him so far and away from the ground-level hero that you’d expect the execution to fall apart. Except it doesn’t. The action is a great blend of CGI action (Falcon) and dude-punch-dude (Cap/Widow). Evans delivers Captain America so well, and the rest of the cast supports him and the movie in their unique way. Lastly, it established Cap as a moral compass globally and not just as America man fighting for America and the American Way for all of America’s interests of protecting and promoting America.

Marvel movies 28-18

Marvel movies 17-7

 

Summer Movie Reviews: Now with 400% More Turtles

- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2/5

Well, it wasn’t bad. Not like bad “I hate my life. Why did I see this?” bad. It wasn’t great, not really good either. It was acceptable, but cheesier than a 99 cheese pizza.

I got sweet 3D glasses that look like Raph’s mask. I groaned less than I did during Transformers.

By the numbers story. Its the whole villain has the McGuffin gas and is going to infect the city plot. Its not exactly ambitious.

The turtles themselves were handled/designed relatively well. Instead of just 4 clones with different colours they were actually pretty distinct. Didn’t mind the noses. I liked the focus on Raphael because he’s totally the coolest and the best.

It was also good to see Leo use his swords. He never used them in the carton. He only kicked.

Megan Fox’s acting can be summed up by “heavy breathing” and :O face. She was also like 65% of the plot, for whatever reason. She was pretty dumb, even for a Megan Fox character, and it seems unrealistically dumb/naive but then again I’ve read tons of stories about reporters looking for that career scoop and seems to fall in line with this (minus the giant turtles fighting Edward Scissor-Silver Samurai covered in Mortal Kombat spikes).

How Shredder knew about Splinter was never explained.

William Fichtner delivered the best performance and made the best of some craptacular lines.

Its definitely not the worst movie of the summer, but I just don’t really know with this one. Not a lot of substance and I get the feeling a lot was left on the cutting room floor.

Its a popcorn movie and I liked it more than Transformers and The Amazing Spider Man 2. I think you know before walking into it if you’ll like it or not.

Other reviews:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 5/5
Transformers 4: Age of Extinction 2/5

A Million Ways to Die in the West 0/5
Godzilla 5/5
X-Men: Days of Future Past  4/5
The Amazing Spiderman 2 1/5
Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It 4/5
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 5/5
The Raid 3/5
Need for Speed 3/5
300: Rise of an Empire 3/5

To Come

- Hercules July 25
- Guardians of the Galaxy August 1
– 
Batman: Assault on Arkham (DVD) August 12
– The Expendables 3 August 15
- Sin City: A Dame to Kill For August 22

Ranking the Modern Marvel Movies, 17-7

Continuing to rank these films. Got through pretty well all of the poop last time. This was hard to rank as most of these movies in here are relatively interchangeable a few spots give or take.

17. Incredible Hulk

This isn’t bad, but its not good. Its much less ambitious than Ang Lee’s “Hulk” and it suffers/improves accordingly. They got closer to getting Bruce Banner and The Hulk right this time around, but still whiffed a bit. I like Ed Norton, but I don’t think he really fit as Bruce Banner. Liv Tyler sucks. Otherwise, the casting for the most part is well done. Blonsky is a sensible “villain” and the camera work and story isn’t really that bad either. It just misses “clicking” and the Hulk design not resembling in any sense Ed Norton. That part really bugged me.

16. Thor

This movie had the potential to be so much worse but, like with most good comic book movies, good actors can sell you on the silliness. The casting was another home run. Sif, Odin, Thor and Loki are all casted perfectly and all bring the right amount of maturity and immaturity to the movie. The characters, even the grating ones, have great chemistry with each other. Sending Thor to earth works to balance the giant golden city of gold everything that Asgard is. Few too many Dutch camera angles though.

15. X-Men

This entire list owes it to this movie for being the first. Its low budget and thats obvious, especially as it has aged. But at the same time it was certifiably nuts and did everything it needed to do. It also laid down the template for pretty well every comic book movie to execute and improve upon which is why this ranks where it does. Huge impact, but over time its been outdone. The casting in this movie is perfect except for Rogue. Anna Paquin…

14. The Amazing Spider-Man

This is a perfectly fine and unoffensive remake of Spider Man. I enjoyed the character chemistry, which is a strength of the reboots. Andrew Garfield fits Spider Man as a hero better than Toby McGuire. Emma Stone is flawless. The biggest gripe I have is that he learned his powers too easily in the movie. He swung around a dumb empty warehouse on a skateboard and POW! he was Spider Man. Also, how crazy Curt Connors got was strange. Went from “OMG I can haz arm!” to “EVERYONE SHOULD BE LIZARDS!” I sort of get it and know and saw what they tried to do to show the descent, but they just whiffed on it. Went for a home run and got a bloop single into right field.

13. Iron Man 2

I’m so wishy washy on this movie. I had it at 16 and I’ve had it higher so I settled on here. When you watch it with your turbonerd vision on, which is how I watch all comic book movies, then you see a lot more to it. Its perfectly fine and fun. The character chemistry is still there and there is lots of Iron Man-ing. A lot of the things that others see as plotholes, I have totally reasonable non-fanboy explanations that are actually in the movie. Synthesizing the vibranium was a little outlandish though.

12. Spider-Man

This is a good movie. While Andrew Garfield is a better Spider Man, Toby McGuire is a better Peter Parker to me. He’s better at the nerdy, down on his luck character with all sorts of conflicts. James Franco does Harry Osborne well too and the casting is pretty strong. I don’t know if Kirsten Dunst is a bad MJ, or if its the lack of chemistry between her and McGuire that brings her character down. The plot is good and comic booky while believable and the CGI holds up really well over time. Its complete and very satisfying.

11. X-Men: First Class

Another ace in character casting. Beast, Professor X, Magneto and Mystique are all excellent and many of the side characters are very well done too. I’d give the show stealing performance to Michael Fassbender. He’s an excellent Magneto and his scenes accordingly excellent. If it wasn’t for the bomb that was Origins: Wolverine, we were supposed to get a Magneto movie but they folded a lot of those scenes (Magneto the Nazi hunter) into this one. I really enjoyed how the super hero conflict was blended into actual history. Its a very strong origin for the franchise and really established the strong relationship between Professor X and Magneto.

10. Thor: The Dark World

Much like the first film, this one is goofy and dumb but it pulls it off. They fully embraced more of the weird spacey realm mytholgy things. Hemsworth has improved every time he’s held the hammer. Hiddleston is Loki. Loki is Hiddleston. Jaime Alexander is excellent as Sif, while criminally underused. And even Natalie Portman and her team of misfit scientists make this work. There is case to be made that of the post-Iron Man Marvel movies that this hast the weakest villain, and well yeah. No charisma or pull, which is unfortunate with an actor like Ecclestone under all that makeup. He’s just an evil bad dude. But a combination of Loki, improved action, scope of the plot and with more time spent on not-Midgard really makes it enjoyable.

9. Iron Man 3

I get wishy-washy on this Iron Man movie too. I had it at 15, then 7 and everywhere in between. Its really good. The tone is great. Its fun. It has all the great character chemistry you’d expect. It also does a good job at emphasizing Tony Stark as the hero versus the Iron Man suit as the hero. But I have my issues with it. First and foremost, The Mandarin as an actor and bathroom humour vehicle. But then again, I love the Extremis storyline and liked Guy Pierce’s character. The twist was interesting and cheap at the same time. And that is what tears me on it. From a movie standpoint, its great. But from a comic book standpoint, it takes a few too many liberties in a way I wasn’t totally okay with. Its everything you’ve come to expect from Iron Man in the previous movies, but at the same time unique and different which was refreshing. And it wasn’t just another villain in a suit which I LOVE LOVE LOVED! It also really set up an interesting world for Avengers 2 and find out just what Tony’s been doing.

8. The Wolverine

This is a really interesting “comic book movie” because it really wasn’t all that comic book movie, but it was. It was character driven and the scale of the plot was stripped down from what we’re used to seeing in these movies with world domination and extinction and whatever. It was a really different take on the character and reminded me of the Terminator 2. There isn’t a lot of excess at all and it keeps things moving pretty straight forward. It was very enjoyable in how lean and focused it was. Really a “Wolverine” movie versus a “Wolverine and Friends”. The end could be better, but thats a pretty common gripe with just about every movie.

7. Captain America: The First Avenger

I really have to hand it to this movie. They took a character that is as easy to screw up as Captain America and nailed it. They really embraced how old fashioned Cap is as a character instead of trying to turn him into a gritty soldier screaming “AMERICA!” That is my favourite part of this movie. He’s fighting for the USA, but not as this pro-America supremacist flag waving nut case. His values are simple like bravery and fighting for what is right while being entirely selfless. He’s the “ideal” American, while feeling like you can easily replace “American” with whatever your nationality is and lose none of the messaging. Then making it work in this day in age as a World War II movie mixed with space guns and a soldier who beats everyone by punching them super hard. The supporting cast is perfect as well. Arnim Zola to Peggy Carter to Bucky Barnes to Red Skull to everyone else.

Marvel movies 28-18

Marvel movies 6-1

Summer Movie Review: Now with 100% more Monkeys

- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 5/5

This movie is really good. Like really really good. I really really recommend it. The character dynamics between Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Andy Serkis Ape (Caesar) and Angry Ape (Koba) is terrific. It provides such a good balance and you are able to easily understand where each character is coming from.

Usually with extremist characters, you find yourself hating them because they’re cheap, but with Angry Ape and Gary Oldman you totally get it. They’re more anti-heroes than the antagonists. Like Magneto vs Professor X. More a clash of understandable ideologies than good guy vs bad guy.

Andy Serkis as Caesar is excellent. I don’t think he gets enough credit for how good he is because he ends up CGI’d, but he’s in a mo-cap suit and totally managed to become that character and do little things with the face and eyes that pure CGI animated characters haven’t done in pretty well any movie (You really can see this in some of the behind the scenes stuff). He was excellent as Gollum and he’s totally killing it as Caesar.

The conflict was really well thought out and paced excellently. I had not seen Rise of The Planet of the Apes before this one, but the way the story was designed they managed to cover anything you needed to know well and I didn’t have any real moments of “wait wut?”

Then I went back and Mexico Netflix’d “Rise” and I like “Dawn” even more.

My only “complaint” would be that the third act is your generic “everything is happening” action scene, but its still done in a very interesting way. I would have liked there to be maybe more of a memorable moment. Like the “that shot” moment because the movie really deserves that kind of thing and I’m not left with any one shot from the end really sticking out that way.

But its still very well done. The sense of scale makes sense and the camera work is excellently done. Go see.

Other reviews:

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction 2/5
A Million Ways to Die in the West 0/5
Godzilla 5/5
X-Men: Days of Future Past  4/5
The Amazing Spiderman 2 1/5
Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It 4/5
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 5/5
The Raid 3/5
Need for Speed 3/5
300: Rise of an Empire 3/5

To Come

- Son of Batman (DVD) May 6
- Hercules July 25
- Guardians of the Galaxy August 1
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles August 8
– 
Batman: Assault on Arkham (DVD) August 12
– The Expendables 3 August 15
- Sin City: A Dame to Kill For August 22