Aquaman: A Fun Blender Of Stupid

Beefcake.

What a trip! Aquaman is like the best movie that is a 6/10 movie. Like the best 6/10 that ever 6/10’d. Warner Brother’s DC’s Aquaman is what happens when you mix the following elements into one movie:

  • Power Rangers
  • Thor
  • The 1980’s action stereotypes
  • The Fast and Furious franchise
  • A 2018 blockbuster budget

There’s no bones about it. This movie is Dumb! Capital ‘D’ Dumb. But it’s also fun.

It has some laugh out loud moments that are intentional. Then some I’m pretty sure weren’t intentional but they’re great anyway, like when ‘Africa’ by Pitbull plays. Or the green screen-CGI looks funny. The gratuitous slow-mo for 80’s style action glamour shots of abs and pecs and super hero landings, plus one scene that looked slow-mo’d through a free iPhone app.

It’s campy. They know it and they take it seriously enough that you believe it, but it’s still campy. I like how silly everything looks. People riding seahorses and sharks with saddles. That’s great!

Shark horses!

Embarrassing looking costumes but they own them. I can really appreciate that. Some of these outfits are stupid. These are some Power Rangers/Super Sentai level costumes. But they take them seriously. There are no winks to the audience. So you roll with it and smile. Amber Heard wearing a jellyfish dress? Sure!

One thing I really did find myself enjoying was the number of different “cultures” they dipped into and explored. The Atlanteans are clearly Greek inspired, with the Amber Heard ones are sort the Rohan to their Gondor, the seahorse people being a “tech” culture, the horrible demon sea creatures (where it felt like James Wan’s horror background really came through) and then the Crab People. That was fun. The Crab People were my favourite. And setting all these cultures up should make for a really fun sequel.

Jason Mamoa is fine. He does his thing. He is buff and large and dopey. Amber Heard is okay. Nicole Kidman needed more screen time. Seeing Dolph Lundgren go from direct to DVD trash to big budget trash warms my soul. It’s cool to see Patrick Wilson get a sizeable role.

The plot is by the numbers. Checkmarks and rubber stamps. Boilerplate. Whatever. No real twists. The romance is bland. It’s enough to keep you moving and get you through the world they want to show. It could have been tightened up but it wasn’t, and it gets by.

It’s a very Thor on earth story. He’s a fish out of water but reversed as he doesn’t really know much about the world underwater. So it’s a fish in water story. He’s unsure of culture, doesn’t care, fight, punch, ignorant, etc. There’s definite Conan The Barbarian vibes. That cheesy level of 80s hero buff-man saves everyone story.

Action and dialogue are often sequestered and it feels strange to have what feels like a 10 minute fight scene have no dialogue beyond grunts and CGI fight moves. If you’re trying to simulate a real serious fight, that’s one thing. But we know they aren’t. The tone of the movie isn’t that kind of tone, so you almost drift when you’re looking at the 14th CGI water attack in a row.

This really felt like DC’s first kick to the nuts of the Snyder-verse. Wonder Woman and Justice League were steps away, but they were still grim and washed out with speed-up/slow-down action scenes.

The look of Aquaman doesn’t “fit” that.

Gone:

  • Five-pronged trident.
  • Edgelord armour.
  • Everything being grey and brown.
  • Everyone frowning.
  • Everyone’s life sucks.
  • Not being able to talk without air.

In:

  • An actual trident with three prongs.
  • The 1960’s orange and green armour.
  • Colours.
  • People smile and make intentional jokes.
  • Characters are allowed to be happy.
  • There is daytime and sunshine.
  • Able to talk under water.

And it should be that way. This is Aquaman. He isn’t Batman. He isn’t part of the Watchmen. He isn’t that serious, and audiences won’t take him that seriously. He talks to fish and pals around with seahorse people and crab people and is a bit of a knucklehead.

The only two real drawbacks to the movie to me come down to two things: run time and cinematography.

This movie could have been 45 minutes shorter and I’m sure if I re-watch it I’ll find myself using fast-forward through a good chunk of the middle 90 minutes. The entire B-Plot villain doesn’t need to be there. A fan edit that cuts that stuff down could really tighten this movie up.

As for cinematography it comes down to two issues. The first, I think they were trying to go for a “free-flowing” camera like it was in water. However, the camera spinning and zipping like crazy has times where you are looking at the screen unsure of what you’re looking at. I really hate looking at a movie and trying to “pause” it in my head so I can figure out who is who and what is what.

The second issue with the cinematography is the number of times they do the “one take” camera shot that is clearly like 1729 camera shots composited together. I can live without this ever happening again in any movie. If it is to happen, it needs to have a style and a trick to it. But there’s no substance to that kind of shot when it’s just zooming through windows and across rooftops then back to the street when everything is clearly a green screen in a sound stage.

However, they deserve huge props for the look of the movie. It could have been super distracting with the underwater effect but they found a way to make it blend in and you don’t notice it. The hair floats a little, the movements are floaty and swimmy, everything is blue and green without being grey, the costume and architecture is distinct and well done.

The movie is fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously. I don’t know if its “run to your nearest theatre” good, but it might be worth a free evening. If not, find a lazy evening once it is on Netflix and stuff yourself with popcorn.

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Venom: Sucks So Good

Venom has some serious suckage. It isn’t good, but its good enough. Put this movie on a pie chart and a good chunk is like Suicide Squad and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had a baby. But being a bad movie doesn’t mean it is terrible because it is quite a bit fun. Seriously, two thumbs up.

I was already kind of negative before this movie came out. It looked like a bit silly, and Venom without Spider-Man isn’t exactly interesting. Eddie Brock is Venom because of Spider-Man. The trailers made it look visually messy or bland.

But then I heard some good, or at least not horrendous, things from people and the box office returns were positive. So, why not see it? What else am I doing at 5 PM on a Friday when I have to be up at 7 AM the next morning? I haven’t been to a movie since either Rampage or Ant-Man and The Wasp. Whichever came first. If nothing else, I heard the post-credits scene is worth a $14 ticket.

Everything that isn’t Eddie Brock and Venom is a train wreck. But the train wreck never stops. You know how in another Tom Hardy movie, Mad Max: Fury Road, the chase builds and builds and gets one percent bigger then two percent bigger and then three percent bigger? This is if a train wreck crashing into more train wrecks found a way to not stop and still arrive at its destination in a pile of twisted metal and fire like a Looney Toons skit. When other characters are on-screen you’re sitting there like “WHERE IS VENOM AND EDDIE?”

The dynamic is where the fun is. Think of a buddy cop movie. Venom is beyond the bad cop, he’s an asshole. He’s just absurd. Eddie Brock is mumbling, bumbling doofus.

MORE POWER.

No calm down.

MORE POWER GO NUTS.

Come on relax.

MAXIMUM VENOM POWER.

Oh Jeez.

The last person you should ever listen to about their own movies is Tom Hardy. Mad Max: Fury Road is fantastic and while this movie isn’t good, his stuff in the movie is the best part of it all. Their interactions are fantastic. His complaints that all his good stuff was cut from the film seems silly, since his stuff was the only good and best part of the whole movie. If there was 40 minutes of missing footage of those two then I am totally down for an extended cut. Give it to me. The two of them have some absolute money lines together.

I’m not lying or being a sensationalist fanboy when I say that you can have a good time at this movie for that alone.

Now, if you’re looking for a nice cohesive well told story with multi-dimensional characters? Nah (Although that is kind of the movie’s charm).

The first 30-ish minutes of this movie is nearly walk-out bad but then at minute 31-ish it finally does something. The beginning of the movie is the kind of stuff you’re going to skip past on any re-watches.

Worst super hero movie villains list: Steppenwolf, the Dark Elf guy from Thor 2, Abomination, Bulls-Eye, Apocalypse, Doomsday, Venom era Spider-Man 3, Electro, fart cloud Galactus and then fart cloud Parallax. There are a ton of terrible villains in these movies.

You’d agree those are all terrible? Lets go about 12 rungs down the ladder. Acting. Motivation. Music. Presentation. Design. Character. The absolute worst.

The Life Foundation and Evil Business Guy Carlton Drake and Riot are some of the worst villains. They’re from a pre-Avengers world where the motivation is “They’re just evil. Who cares. Its comic books. Shut up. Bad guy does bad stuff.”

Carlton Drake is making out and having gross PDA with Being Evil. And the speed at which his Evil accelerates is numbing. Just laugh. They literally combined every Evil Businessman trope into one character and then turned up the suckage. Doesn’t get any better any further into the movie, just gets worse. There were points in his Evil Plan where I couldn’t help it but laugh during a Super Serious Scene.

Poor poor love story and love interest. She gets the bare minimum of any form of character you could give someone.

Shaky and suspect dialogue in a lot of scenes. “Have a nice life!”

A great chase scene and a couple of neato fight moves, but the more CGI that is on-screen the bigger a visual mess you’re suffering through. I can’t imagine the migraine I would get in 3D. A nighttime fight between a black CGI goop monster against a charcoal grey CGI goop monster splooping punches of gloopy impact is just… what were they thinking? There are moments in the big action climax where I literally couldn’t figure out what is happening or who is who.

The PG-13 saps some of the life and impact from scenes. There are things that should be more visceral than they are. It doesn’t need to go full vile gore-sploitation mess, but Venom can be a really visceral character. There are elements of body horror and gore to his story and actions. Some of the actions and motivations feel a bit limp as the numbing of anything too extreme is a bit lame. Imagine if you never got more than sideboob in a movie about strippers? Either be PG-13 or be R but trying to be in the middle results in a tonal mess.

In a world where Logan and Deadpool and Dredd exist, you can have a successful R rated Venom.

I still liked it quite a bit. I wouldn’t really say it felt tonally different or really all that distinct. It fits in with the pile. There’s a good, charming performance and a few neat ideas here that are holding that train wreck together as it rolls into the station. I almost don’t think this movie “works” without it being terrible where it is terrible.

As for a sequel, the movie is there and the stinger makes you want to try again and show up again. Take another swing and get someone who has a clue to put it together. Or maybe keep it a bad mess. I don’t know. It was fun and sometimes that’s all a movie has to be.

Venom – Trailer 2 Reaction: This movie looks terrible.

By no means is a trailer indicative of the final product. Its an ad. Venom could be good, but impressions from the teaser, first trailer and second trailer leave me expecting an awful mess. I’d love to be wrong, but… jeez it looks like Sony went and Sony’d all over a Spider-Man movie again.

Forgive if I ramble, but it looks cheap and schlocky. Maybe its the suit. Maybe its because it gives me edge-lord “I’m So HaRdCoRe” vibes. Maybe its because it looks like its a Zack Snyder movie with that washed out visual palette.

There are some promising badass things: ripping the face is badass, the axe hands are badass, the big tongue is badass, having all the Hybrid symbiotes on their own is badass.

But there are some dumbass things: indistinguishable character design is dumbass, the goofy Venom face worming itself off the body to have a chat is dumbass, the “ima eat u” monologue is dumbass.

I just look at this and wonder if anyone is excited to watch this CGI fight at night between a black symbiote with no distinguishable markings versus a dark grey symbiote with no distinguishable markings? If it wasn’t for someone telling me who was who in this still I would not have known.

I feel as if the film going to suffer from what plagued Suicide Squad: combat and plot better off meant for an R rating but neutered for PG-13, and then a #bigdumb CGI ending because that’s in the recipe book for comic movies.

It just feels off.

The concept is interesting enough. Maybe it is Actually Good. Or maybe its such a bad schlocky mess it takes the needle so far below zero it comes back around to a ten.

I’m not too familiar with director Reuben Fleischer. His IMDB isn’t inspiring but there have been a lot of directors with meh previous work who have come into big budget action flicks and done well. The cinematographer worked on Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream and Pi so you can expect some interesting and weird camera work that could be hella neat.

But like, come on. Its Sony. The studio that couldn’t keep Adam Sandler happy enough to be his exclusive studio. The studio that bungled Venom once before. The studio that bungled Spider-Man so badly, twice, that they just gave most of the property back to a rival studio just to have the public not hate Spider-Man anymore. The studio that made Ghosbusters 2016 and banked on it being the start of a cinematic universe.

Or maybe its good and writing this was a waste of everyone’s time. Guess we’ll figure out on October 5th.

Deadpool 2 Doesn’t Care About Anything

Deadpool 2

If you can forgive me for a hot minute here, Deadpool 2 gives no fucks.

I apologise so much. Please forgive me for using one bad word in this review of a movie that drops a bad word per minute.

Do you know if this movie is better than the first one? I don’t, and I don’t think the movie cares to be better or worse. It just wants to be the new Deadpool movie. This is a Guardians 1 vs Guardians 2 thing. So its good but I don’t know if its better but it could be but it could not be but it totally could be.

One thing that is important to remember is that this is an R rated comedy first and an R rated action movie second with super “hero” syrup all over and inside its crevices.

If you liked Deadpool then you’ll like Deadpool 2. Simple. If you weren’t a fan of the first one, well I guess it depends why but DP2 probably won’t tickle your jimmies. There is all the swearing, brutal violence, blood, dismemberment, jokes, irreverence and meta-references that you would expect. Every scene with a serious tone is completely cut out by jokes, but this is still a bit more of a movie with plot and characters and motivation and all that sort of jazz. Definitely tried a little harder to make more of a narrative than “guy kills dude to save girlfriend”.

After seeing so many super hero movies that were massive in scale with save the world/change the world/save the universe level plots across X-Men, the MCU and the DCEU, its nice change to get a self contained, small, this-only-matters-to-these-characters level stories. The stakes are really only relevant to those on-screen. Sure, there might be some larger implications if you really think about it, but they’re never stated. The implications that are stated are small time, but that makes the stakes personal and better for a plot involving a bunch of selfish characters.

Its also nice to have a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously in a time where most blockbusters with ridiculous premises are also trying to be like “BUT THIS IS REAL LIFE!”

Deadpool and Ant-Man is a team up I want to see.

They made a great creative use of Deadpool’s powers in the first film, and with an expanded cast they really find more ways to do it again. Domino is a lot of fun. Thanos Josh Brolin Cable is a nice piece of seriousness in a film that dances with the absurd. The kiddos, Colossus and SPOILER all do their thing. TJ Miller disappears frequently which I don’t think will have anyone shedding tears.

I feel like the stuff that they were like “oh yeah this’ll be funny” didn’t land quite as hard as they wanted. There are jokes that are really like “THIS IS A JOKE JOKE” but some of the more mundane jokes and moments were some of the best. The cameos were fun.

I’m curious how much of a movie like this is subtly satire or if they lucked into a few things working themselves out between wrapping the film and then world/cinema/AVENGERS stuff happening. Or maybe I’m totally overthinking some parts.

Some of the funniest parts of the movie were technically after the movie in the after-credits. Make sure you catch those. There isn’t a post-credits so just stick around like 3 minutes.

The soundtrack to the movie is a lot of fun and adds to the overall tone and atmosphere they’re going for. This song is fire.

Ranking rating: One and a half thumbs up out of two thumbs up. If you can still catch it in theatre, aim for a Friday/Saturday/Tuesday crowd as it’ll be more fun with a crowd. If not then have a brownie and enjoy it on demand or Blu-Ray.

Brill-Ant: Ant-Man and The Wasp rules pretty hard

ant man and the wasp

They don’t appreciate my pun.

Who cares about Thanos? What’s an intifininininity stone? Why is Gamora? None of this matters in this movie and it makes the movie effing great. Legit.

You need an absolute zero sum of Marvel knowledge walking into this movie. Outside of a few “Captain America” name drops this movie exists on it’s own to the point this could be the first entry to Ant-Man and not the first Ant-Man film.

I love Infinity War as a movie. Its #actuallygood and it’s also nuts because I never thought I’d ever see something like that happen when I was a little Adam Junior playing Spiderman at the playground. But having side stories that aren’t part of the Thanos saga keeps this franchise fresh and enjoyable and worth seeing between tentpoles.

I wasn’t too hyped coming into this movie and didn’t even intend to see it until about an hour before I did. It was raining out and it felt like my only choice on Netflix was The Last Jedi and I noped out of that.

I liked the first Ant-Man movie just fine. It was good. It was basically the first Marvel movie to not be a big epic and you can probably credit it, and Guardians Vol 1, as the point where Marvel opened up to adapting other genres into their hero films and giving more agency to the director’s own vision.

The first film tried to be a heist movie and generally came close but for the goofy action ending. This film isn’t too far off being a “pure” heist movie featuring a shrinking-growing hero and a shrinking-flying hero and a ghost lady plus science talk with old science peeps. The action scenes aren’t so much fight scenes as they are chase scenes or not-get-caught scenes with action sprinkles and explosion icing.

The cast is great. The big names all have great chemistry and truly own some scenes. The little girl child isn’t annoying and is legitimately charming. Michael Pena rules. TI is TI. The fake Russian guy character acts the crap off being a character actor. Asian Jim (Randall Park) is a lot of fun as the FBI agent. The evil gangsters really make their screen time work. Ghost Out Of Her Shell does her part.

I basically watched the whole movie with a smile on my face. I was laughing out loud frequently. They make great use of pacing and tone to keep things fun. There is a lot more made of the fun you can have with shrinking and bigging for gags and creative action. Its refreshing to see things in a super hero movie that involve more guile and cunning than just punch punch super kick.

If we’re being entirely honest, I probably put this movie at or even above Black Panther in terms of Fun Watchingness. It doesn’t have any of the cultural weight or anything meta that Black Panther brought, but if I’m just looking to watch something for 2 hours and these are both on Netflix its a real coin toss.

Even if you’re like my vegan friend who hates everything fun if it involves a super hero because of the inherent dumbness, give this a try since its more along the lines of a Honey I Shrunk The Kids than The Dark Knight.

Stay for for the mid credits scene. The post credits is whatever because I don’t even remember it.

Ranking rating: Double Thumbs Up Recommend. Go see. It isn’t critical to the Marvel Universe, but it doesn’t have to be and that’s why its so good. And as with any comedy, see it in a theatre with peeps.