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Justice League (2017) Official Trailer

The official Justice League (2017) trailer is here!

Today, March 25th, Warner Bros. Pictures released the official trailer for the upcoming Justice League film, and boy does it look awesome. This two and a half minute trailer is packed with action and has me stoked for the film. And from just this brief look, I am already looking forward to the Batman/Aquaman dynamic.

Justice League hits theaters November 2017.

What do you think about the Justice League trailer?

Power Rangers (2017) Review

Do I only review remakes? As of right now, it feels like I only review remakes.

Once again, I’m reviewing a movie that had a fairly good chance of pissing on my childhood. Luckily for Power Rangers, I had recently gone back and watched the original series. Wow, was that show awful. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it and still kind of do, but everything about it was pretty terrible and I’m ok with that. People are allowed to like things that are terrible and I am no exception. So, while I was worried about how much I would actually enjoy it, at least it didn’t have much to live up to as far as quality is concerned.

The story:

Five troubled teenagers stumble across five magic coins, granting them superpowers, which they must learn to use in order to defend the world from the forces of evil. It’s like The Breakfast Club had a baby with Pacific Rim, and that baby was bitten by a radioactive spider. As is typical of “team” movies the moral of the story is the importance of trust, friendship, and working together as one to accomplish a goal none of the individuals would have be able to do alone. The villain, of course, is a former member of the previous team of rangers, whose lust for power led her down the path of evil.

The Good:

RJ Cyler, who plays the role of Billy, stands out in his performance and turns my least favorite Ranger, Blue, into my favorite, if only for this film. The special effects and action sequences are easily on par with any other movie of its kind, and deliver a number of fun and exciting scenes. The brief segment of the original theme song, played while the Zords charge into battle, had nostalgia pumping through my veins and ready to jump out of my seat, throw my hands in front of me and yell “TYRANNOSAURUS,” especially since Jason never does. Finally, it felt like the type of movie I could play an infinite number of times as background noise.

The Bad:

It’s called Power Rangers. “Why is that bad?” you ask? Because this wasn’t the Power Rangers. The Zords were barely recognizable as the animals they’re supposed to be based on, while the Mega-Zord looks like one of Michael Bay’s Transformers instead of the multi-species Volton it’s supposed to look like. And, if I get into all my problems with Rita Repusa, Elizabeth Banks (Slither), and Goldar we’ll be here all day. The quick and easy fix to all of that? Call it literally anything else and change the character names. That’s it. I would have given it a full extra point just for that. I didn’t hate any of it, but if you give me coffee ice cream and call it chocolate, I’m going to be disappointed. The only thing that stayed true to the original was how unbelievably annoying Bill Hader’s Alpha-5 is, but that’s NOT a good thing.

P.S. If Naomi Scott is reading this, I’d like to ask for your hand in marriage. Sorry Amy Jo Johnson, I think I have a new favorite Pink Ranger.

6.5
Score
Power Rangers (2017) Review
The Bottom Line:
Kind of disappointing despite how much fun I had watching it.
Yes!
Fun and Exciting. The type of movie you go to the theater for.
No...
Should not have used original character names for completely unrecognizable characters.

Beauty and the Beast | Review

For the second week in a row, it has been my job to review a remake/reboot of a movie that I have loved for decades. This time it’s one of the greatest animated features of all time, Beauty and the Beast.

For those of you who don’t know, Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time classic story about a girl, who doesn’t fit in, falling in love with a man that was turned into a monster, essentially for being a jerk. I’m as jaded and cynical as they come, but while it has become trendy to pick things apart and say that Belle has Stockholm Syndrome, I couldn’t care less about any of that. If that’s your gimmick, I’m looking at you Daniel O’Brian of Cracked (don’t take that the wrong way, I’m a huge fan of OPCD and After Hours), or you’re trying to show people a new and completely different way to see something, that’s one thing, but the rest of you just need to stop. Shit, where was I? That’s right, this is the latest film that Disney is adapting from animated classic to live-action blockbuster. These are the kinds of movies that both excite and terrify me because I want to enjoy them but am afraid they’ll ruin something I love, and after my disappointment in The Jungle Book remake, I was terrified for Beauty and the Beast more so than I was excited. So how does it stack up?

The Good News:

I wasn’t completely let down. I know that doesn’t sound very positive but I was expecting to leave the theater pissed off about another film I love being ruined by an unnecessary remake. Most of the cast did a stellar job. Emma Watson (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) is wonderful, Kevin Klein (A Fish Called Wanda) provides depth to a character that previously had none, and while I’d have preferred someone the size of Dwayne Johnson to play Gaston, Luke Evans (Dracula Untold) pulls off the unparalleled narcissism flawlessly. Adding almost an hour of runtime, the new material, unneeded as I felt it was, fit well into the overall story. And, while I’m still waiting for the day that CGI and real people/animals/objects are indistinguishable, this is pretty damn close.

The Bad News:

It’s not the original. I realize that’s obvious but it was pretty much my only problem with the film. As wonderful and talented as they are, Emma Thompson is no Angela Lansbury, and Ewan McGregor can’t hold a candle to Jerry Orbach’s Lumiere (yes, I really made that pun). The slight changes made to the music only bothered me because I know the originals by heart and it ruined my attempt to mouth along with them in the theater. Other than that, I was hoping for more out of Josh Gad (Frozen), we didn’t need the enchantress’s return, and besides for why the villagers have no idea there’s a castle with a monster in it half a day’s ride away, none of the time frame issues are resolved (but at least the enchantress doesn’t curse a 10-year-old, although the fate of the people turned into objects seems much crueler).

7
Score
Beauty and the Beast | Review
Bottom Line:
Sure to hook those not familiar with the original without ruining it for those who are. Definitely worth seeing.
Yes!
Wonderful Cast
High Nostalgia Factor
No!
Just Not As Good As The Original
Few Too Many Unnecessary Changes

Kong: Skull Island | Review

Warning:

The following review was written by someone who has the original 1933 King Kong in his “Top 5 Favorite Movies of All Time” list. I tried to be as objective as possible but my bias shines bright. If you’re going to remake/reboot a movie be prepared for the additional criticism brought on by comparison to the original. You’re kind of saying you could do it better and it’s my job to tell you you’re wrong (most of the time).

A team of scientists and soldiers take an expedition to an uncharted island. While dropping seismic charges (bombs) on the island they are attacked by Kong. With half of the team dead, a mission of discovery becomes one of survival or revenge. Col. Preston Parker, Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes on a Plane), develops a Ahab-ian obsession with the destruction of the prehistoric primate while former SAS James Conrad, Tom Hiddleston (Thor), tries to safely navigate the treacherous terrain to take the survivors to an extraction point. Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim vs The World), John Goodman(10 Cloverfield Lane), and John C. Reilly (Step Bothers) round out a talented cast in this action thriller from the producers of Godzilla (2014)

The Good News:

Samuel L. Jackson says “hang on to your butts.” Not sure if this was on purpose as a reference to his character in Jurassic Park but I liked it anyway. The action was exciting, there were a number moments where Bree Larson and Kong seem to connect (Kong’s affection for and protection of a beautiful woman at the risk of his own safety is one of the most essential parts of the beast’s character since his inception), CGI was pretty good and John C. Reilly made me chuckle a couple of times but that was about it.

The Bad News:

I know I said I was trying to be objective but I lied. I just can’t. I love King Kong. It’s one of the movies that made me fall in love with movies. Kong: Skull Island is no King Kong. First off, they tried to do way too much. There are far too many characters to give any enough screen time to get to like or have adequate backstory to even care about. As far as the story is concerned, it’s like they put King King, Moby Dick, Platoon, and the newest Godzilla in a blender and filmed the resulting smoothie.  If I don’t care about the characters and the story is a mess, I have no reason to be on the edge of my seat, which is why I go to see these types of films.

Now, let me complain about the island’s inhabitants. King Kong is way too big, unless they’re setting up a confrontation with Godzilla (Spoiler Alert: They are). Also, is there a reason he walks upright? Just have him walk like the gorilla he is. Next, why aren’t prehistoric beasts and gigantic versions of normal animals enough? Tyrannosaurus Rex not cool anymore? Giant spider not scary without it having legs that appear identical to bamboo for camouflage and a frog like tongue to catch prey?  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Logan | Review

Logan Review | The Brazen Bull

Wolverine has always been my favorite of the X-Men. I know, me and everyone else, right? He’s got a skeleton covered in adamantium (super metal for you non-fans out there…..I’m sure there’s one or two of you), claws that come out of his fists, heightened animal senses, super strength and agility, and a regenerative healing ability that makes him damn near invincible. What’s not to like? Sure, all of that is great, but that’s not why he’s my favorite. I love Wolverine for the same reason I love Raphael of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, personality.

He’s a loner, he’s always angry, he’s full of regret from the things he’s done, and he pushes the people who care about him away because he thinks it’s better for them. I guess it’s not so much Wolverine I like, but Logan, the man behind the claws. From that perspective, the previous eight appearances Hugh Jackman has made as Logan have been less than impressive (not that it had anything to do with Jackman’s performance), but finally, Marvel has given Logan, and us the fans, the movie we all deserve.

In the not too distant future, mutants have almost completely been eliminated and there hasn’t been a mutant birth in years. Logan and Charles Xavier, Sir Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: Enterprise), are in hiding, south of the Mexican border. Xavier has a degenerative brain disease and Logan is clearly suffering from some sort of unknown illness which is affecting his abilities as well as overall health. A nurse, who formally worked for a company that is trying to create mutant soldiers, tries to hire Logan to transport her and Laura, a young mutant girl, to a safe haven in Canada. Logan must overcome a small army, a genetically designed mutant, illness, and his own personality flaws to keep the young girl safe.

The Good News:

As stated earlier, this is the Wolverine movie that both Logan and his fans deserve. In the first five minutes, Logan contains more blood and cursing than all of the previous X-Men combined. This perfectly sets the tone for the entire movie. Marvel delivers a dark and gritty superhero film the way it’s supposed to be made. Take note DC, a movie doesn’t have to be shot completely in grays and muted tones, at night, or in bad weather to get that kind of feel. Logan uses the talent of it’s cast to create depth, and a well-written story to give the film a dark feel. Jackman and Stewart deliver their best performances in what both have said will be the last time in their respective roles (I really hope they change their minds).

The Bad News:

As far as anything negative I have to say, even I would consider it nitpicking. Did Weapon 24 have to look like a Wolverine clone? No, and I didn’t like it. Could the villains be more fleshed out? Yes, but that’s not what the story is about. Did I want to know more about what was wrong with Xavier and Logan? Absolutely, but it’s not what’s important. The worst part of the movie was that I didn’t get a ticket in advance and had to sit in the far back corner.

 

 

The Great Wall | Review

Matt Damon in The Great Wall

Going into The Great Wall, I had high, albeit, realistic expectations about what I was going to experience. I like far-eastern culture. I like mythology. I like gigantic reptilian monsters. Yimou Zhang (House of Flying Daggers, Hero) is a fantastic Director. At the same time, a movie about a war against said monsters is rarely Oscar worthy, but that’s ok. I don’t need to be taken on an emotional journey of self-discovery every time I go to the theater, but I do want to be entertained.

Matt Damon (The Martian) stars in a story (I almost put story in sarcastic quotation marks) about the only defense humanity has against a nearly unstoppable horde of monsters. Mercenaries, William and Tovar, Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones), are searching China for black powder when they are attacked by some kind of creature, after which they stumble upon The Great Wall of China, which is manned by an elite and color coded force known as The Nameless Order. To me, that IS a name, but I digress. From then on it’s one siege scene after another with short breaks to give the audience “story” (sorry, I couldn’t stop myself this time).

The Good news.

The things The Great Wall does well, it does very well. It truly is a fantastical film. The visuals are stunning, the weapons and method of fighting are refreshingly creative and exciting to watch, and the costume design is brilliant. Up until this very moment, I don’t think I’ve ever commented on costume design before, but the armors are magnificent in both color and construction. If I was rich they’d be the type of movie prop I’d want to purchase to decorate my home. It’s also no surprise that Yimou Zhang does a wonderful job directing such creative battle scenes.

Now for the bad news.

This film contains neither a story nor developed characters. In 104 minutes, all we’re given as far as a story is concerned, is the monsters either arrived on or were released from a mountain by a meteor, as punishment for man’s greed, and if they breach the wall and get to the capital, the entire world is doomed. Other than that, it feels like nothing but one long battle. This isn’t helped by the fact that every main character can be described in a single sentence. William is a mercenary with a hard past but is truly a hero inside. Tovar is the friend who urges the protagonist to stick to the plan and not get wrapped up in heroics. Ballard, Willem Defoe (The Boondock Saints), is the familiar face in a foreign land who is obviously untrustworthy. Peng Yong is a fool and a coward but is braver at heart than anyone realizes. Commander Lin, Tian Jing (Police Story: Lockdown), is a female soldier raised as a warrior who values honor and trust above all else. And that’s it. No important backstories, no overcoming inner demons or personality flaws, just one-dimensional characters going through the motions.

I would suggest Legendary allow Yimou Zhang to write and produce in addition to direct if they want the most out of a cast with this much talent.

 

The LEGO Batman Movie | Review

When Batman, Will Arnett (Arrested Development), hurts The Joker’s, Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), feelings, Joker allows himself to be sent to space jail in order to break out the most evil villains in history in order to prove to Batman that they have a strong and meaningful relationship built on mutual hate. Go ahead and read that again if you have to because that’s the plot of the entire movie. The sub-plot is Batman’s journey to discover the importance of family, friendship, and letting people in, even if you’re afraid of losing them.

When it comes to movies like this, I feel the need to review it twice. Once as a children’s movie and once as just a movie. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know if you’re bringing your kids to see The LEGO Batman Movie, as well as what you need to know if you want check it out for yourself.

For Children:

Obviously targeted at children, LEGO Batman is everything you’d expect it to be. The music is fun and upbeat, the visuals are flashy and colorful, and the action is over-the-top and exciting while at the same time removed of the fear that most movies want to instill in the viewer. Villains such as Voldemort from the Harry Potter series, and Sauron from The Lord of the Rings are toned down to cartoonishly dopey, and Batman’s brooding is replaced with narcissistic buffoonery, making the characters easily digestible by children of many ages. The message comes across as clear and important without taking itself too seriously. If you’re planning on making this your choice for a family movie night, then you won’t be disappointed by how excited your children will surely be on the way out of the theater as they discuss everything that they just watched.

For Adults:

I love children’s movies as much as the next guy (check out my review of Moana if you want evidence), but this one fell flat for me. After the level of enjoyment I experienced watching The LEGO Movie, I had high hopes for LEGO Batman. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations. All of my favorite moments came from taking shots at, or making reference to, previous Batman productions. From pointing out Joker’s past failures in Batman (1989) and The Dark Knight (2008) to poking fun at the campy-ness of the 1966 TV show, the best jokes come from nostalgia. Beyond that, it lacked the heart that made The LEGO Movie so good, and not a single piece of music comes close to being as catchy as “Everything is Awesome.” If you’re planning to go see this by yourself, I’d recommend skipping this one.

 

John Wick: Chapter 2 | Review

At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I’ll say that John Wick: Chapter 2 is a non-stop thrill ride, and I’m glad this is in print, because it sounds utterly ridiculous when I say it out-loud. Ridiculous or not, it’s true. Before the opening credits are displayed, viewers are greeted with action as the start of the film contains two high speed chases, one of which results in a fair bit of damage and the title character kicking the ever-loving shit out of quite a few nameless goons. Yes, all of this happens before we even see the film’s title on the screen, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Chapter 2 starts with John Wick, Keanu Reeves (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), tying up loose ends (that I was completely unaware of), that the first movie left unfinished. After getting his car back and avenging his dog, John reburies all of his assassin gear in the basement. Just as he finishes this, he gets a visit from Santino D’Antonio, a former associate, who’s come to collect on a blood debt John owes him. When he refuses, Santino blows up John’s house. Knowing he has no choice John agrees to kill Santino’s sister, Gianna, so that he can take her place at the high table. A task that ends up being extremely easy, but that’s when things get ugly for our favorite assassin. Cassian, Common (Smokin’ Aces), Gianna’s right hand, vows revenge and Santino puts out a seven-million-dollar contract on John. This, of course, inspires the majority of the assassin world to try and kill him. Once the ball is rolling, we get to watch over an hour of John Wick straight up murdering anyone that gets in his way, which is really all we want from this film anyway.

I know that John Wick: Chapter 2 won’t be making any buzz come next award season, but who cares. Not every film that makes it to theaters has to be a Citizen Kane or a Gone with the Wind. This sequel not only delivers everything that it promises, but it also provides everything that fans wanted more of from the first film. Jonathan Eusebio’s fight choreography is intense and beautifully smooth, the story isn’t overly complicated or confusing, and the ending is a perfect set up for a Chapter 3. If you like mindless violence, revenge stories, and tons of action, then this movie is just what you’re looking for.

Bonus: Keanu Reeves and Common have a fight scene that rivals the unbelievably long and absurd fight between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live (1988). There’s no background music, it’s evenly matched, and it feels like it is never going to end. It’s pretty awesome.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 | Extended Super Bowl Spot

The Space Between Us | Review

While on a mission to prove the achievability of a colony on Mars, it is discovered that one of the astronauts is pregnant. Shortly after arrival, she dies giving birth to a son. NASA and the tech company responsible for the mission decide to hide the existence of the boy – the first human being not born on Earth – in order to protect the funding and good faith of both the mission and the company. At the age of 16, Gardner Elliot, Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game), gets an opportunity to travel to Earth. He quickly escapes from NASA and seeks out the help of a girl named Tulsa, the only earthling he’s ever had contact with, in order to track down his father. Unfortunately, growing up on Mars has not prepared his body for life on Earth and his health starts to rapidly deteriorate. Are all the little wonders of the world, and finding his place in it, worth the risk of dying, or will the only “family” he’s ever known find him in time to same his life?

Given the synopsis of the story and that cast that was chosen, I was expecting something truly special. Something special was not what was delivered, however. I’m not exactly sure where to place the blame since all aspects of this film fall short of their potential.

With gorgeous locations and some very dramatic shot choices, The Space Between Us should have been wonderful to watch, but the acting detracts from that. Important scenes that should carry an immense weight come across as melodramatic. Camera angles and cinematic technique should add to the power of a moment. Without sufficient drama produced by the story and acting, scenes that should be emotional come across as comically out of place.

Gardner’s attempts to interact with people – having zero previous experience – come across as robotic as apposed to awkward, and a supporting cast of long-time film veterans led by the magnificent Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Trilogy) seemed to have “phoned in” their performances.  Whether it was lack of faith in the script, the cast not trying hard enough, or poor direction, the acting doesn’t hold up as genuine, and the film suffers for it.

As for the story itself, it was a great concept with a load of potential. The execution, however, felt rushed and a bit sloppy. From opening credits to Gardner’s trip to Earth, it feels like a “lightning round” of ‘here’s what happened to get us to the actual story.’ Start of mission to Mars, cut, two months later an astronaut is pregnant, cut, astronaut dies giving birth, cut, a 16 year old Gardner already feels trapped in his life on Mars and breaks into his mothers belongings discovering a photo of a man he believes to be his father, cut, Gardner is going to be making a trip to Earth.

What gets completely ignored in this barrage? All of the relationships Gardner has developed, including, the two most important, those with Kendra Wyndham, Carla Gugino (Watchmen), the astronaut that raised him, and Tulsa, Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland), the only person on Earth he’s ever had contact with and the second most important character in the film. We also never get to see the struggles he goes though growing up on Mars or the inner conflict Nathaniel Shepherd, Gary Oldman, experiences in sentencing a child to a life of such struggles. After that, the possibility for poignant moments, as Gardner experiences all the little things that make Earth so wonderful, are side notes and not given the attention they deserve. The search for his father would have been a better method of propelling Gardner through this journey of discovery as apposed to the most important aspect of the story. “What’s your favorite thing about Earth?” should have been the theme for the entire movie not just a reason for random experiences and a tag line.

General-DC Comics

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