All posts by chaos

Avengers: Endgame

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo

Avengers: Endgame poster

Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, and Josh Brolin

Backstory

Well, here we are. 11 years and 22 films comprising the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it all comes to a close. Last year’s Avengers: Infinity War became a pop culture phenomenon, with one hell of a cliffhanger ending not seen since Han Solo was frozen in carbonite. So the question, as always, is how will our heroes recover from this?

Plot

After Thanos used the power of the Infinity Stones to snap half of all life out of existence, the remaining Avengers regroup at Avengers Headquarters. The newly-arrived Captain Marvel suggests they just take on Thanos head-on, take the Infinity Stones from him, and use them to undo the damage. But, they’re too late, as Thanos has already used the power of the stones to destroy themselves. Five years later, most of the Avengers have gone their separate ways, and are wallowing in various degrees of self-pity. But then, the newly -returned Ant-Man shows up, and the key to his re-appearance may hold the key to undoing what Thanos has done. This begins a new journey for the Avengers as they travel across time and space to re-gather the Infinity Stones. Will they succeed? Or will history repeat itself?

What I Liked

Everything. “Avengers Assemble.” Been waiting the whole franchise to hear that line, and when it’s finally spoken it is a payoff that brought me to tears. The focus comes back to our original six Avengers, and they all have really nice character arcs that bring their stories to an end. And I hope you did some kind of marathon of the Marvel Cinematic Universe going into this, because there are a ton of callbacks to the other films.

What I Didn’t Like

Seriously, I can’t think of anything

Final Verdict

Eleven years of filmmaking ends in one of the most satisfying conclusions ever. Truly a fantastic film.

4 Nibs

Shazam!

Directed by David F. Sandberg

Starring Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Granger, and Djimon Hounsou

Backstory

Well, it’s nice to see that Warner Brothers is starting to delve into the DC back catalogue a little more and give Superman and Batman a rest. With the recent massive hits that were Wonder Woman
and Aquaman, Warner Brothers now turns to the Big Red Cheese, their Captain Marvel, Shazam. I’ve always had a soft spot for this Superman clone, and approached his film with mild excitement. Will the movie lead up to the legacy?

Plot

Billy Batson is a 14-year old orphan, ever since his mother mysteriously vanished at a carnival. Constantly running away from his foster families as he searches for his mother, he now finds himself in a group home, and with his new roomie, Freddie Freeman. After helping Freddie fight off some bullies one day, Billy is whisked away by an enchanted subway car to the wizard Shazam. All Billy has to do is speak Shazam’s name to become a superhero…in a grown-up body. With these new powers, and Freddie’s help, Billy becomes a viral sensation. But, there’s trouble a brewing. Dr. Thaddeus Sivana was rejected by the wizard Shazam when he was a boy, and his spent his life trying to get powers of his own. Now allied with Shazam’s greatest enemies — demonic personifications of the seven deadly sins — Dr. Sivana is out to claim Shazam’s powers for his own. Will Billy finally rise to the occasion and defeat Dr. Sivana?

What I Liked

Zachary Levi is delightful as Shazam, the boy trapped in a superhero’s body. He brings such a boundless enthusiasm to the role. In fact, it’s quite a colourful array of characters, given Billy’s foster family. Freddie Freeman, in particular, is quite the scene-stealer. Mark Strong, as always, makes a great villain.

What I Didn’t Like

Well, as I’ve been saying for a while now, I’ve seen one too many of these superhero films, and I can see the big plot twists coming from a mile away. And speaking of colourful characters, would have been nice if we got to know the rest of Billy’s foster family.

Final Verdict

Shazam! is good, but not great. Another satisfying, if run-of-the-mill superhero film.

3 Nibs

Captain Marvel

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, and Jude Law

Captain Marvel Poster
Backstory

This is another film that it feels like I’ve been reading about online for years. Reading up on it, Brie Larson officially signed on three years ago! And here we finally are, as Captain Marvel, easily the most prominent female hero in Marvel Comics these days, gets her own movie. And, with Captain Marvel due to be a major player in Avengers: Endgame, it’s best that we, the audience, get to know her. So how’s Captain Marvel’s big coming-out party?

Plot

On the distant planet Hala, home of the Kree Empire, a Kree warrior named Vers is troubled. She’s still learning to harness her massive power under the tutelage of Yon-Rogg. Their squad of Kree commandos are sent to take down a cel of evil shapeshifting aliens known as Skrulls, but Vers is capture. She eventually escapes, and winds up on the planet designated C-35 by the Kree, but the natives call it Earth. Something about Earth begins triggering memories in Vers, and she begins to learn that she was once a woman named Carol Danvers. But, Skrulls led by Talos have made it to Earth as well. With her new partner, SHIELD agent Nick Fury, can Carol Danvers uncover the secrets of her past and save Earth from a Skrull invasion?

What I Liked

Brie Larson is great as Carol Danvers. She gets to show a lot more humour than we’ve been seeing in the trailers, and that was a great surprise. Samuel L. Jackson is also great as Nick Fury. This Fury is a bit of a rookie, and not yet the embittered badass who brought the Avengers together. There’s some great changes to the Captain Marvel mythology that were really cool. And the film, set in 1995, indulges in nostalgia without getting overbearing. Except for….

What I Didn’t Like

The soundtrack is full of mid-90s grunge classics that do get distracting at times. There’s one particular song choice in one particular scene that just made me roll my eyes. And maybe I’ve seen too many of these superhero films, but one of the big plot twists I saw coming from miles away.

Final Verdict

Captain Marvel is another very satisfying entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a great appetizer for Avengers: Endgame. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

3 Nibs

The Lego Movie 2: the Second Part

Directed by Mike Mitchell

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, and Maya Rudolph

Backstory

The Lego Movie surprised a lot of people when it came out five years ago. What could have been a cynical toy commerical of a movie had a large amount of heart and some unexpected twists. It wound up being a huge hit, and a lot of people were upset that it didn’t score an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film. But, with all that critical acclaim and box office gold, you knew a sequel would be inevitable. First, though, we had to get through two pretty good spinoff films. Now, the sequel is finally here. Was it worth the wait?

Plot

It’s been some years since our last adventure. The Lego metropolis of Bricksburg has become the wasteland of Apocalypseburg, thanks to constant attacks by beings from the Systar System. But, our hero Emmet is still as chipper as ever, trying to make the best of this new life. But then, General Mayhem of the Systar System kidnaps Batman, Unikitty, Benny the Spaceman, Metalbeard, and Emmet’s love Lucy. Emmet panics, as this all resembles his visions of the forthcoming Armomageddon. Emmet decides he must venture to the Systar System to save his friends. Along the way, he gets an ally in the grim and gritty adventurer Rex Dangervest. Meanwhile, Lucy and the rest have become prisoners of the Systar System’s ruler, Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi, as she tries to tempt them over to her kingdom. Can Emmet save his friends? Is Queen Wa’Nabi really the villain? And can they stave off Armomageddon?

What I Liked

Well, the meta humour that made the first film so memorable is back in full force, and it’s good to see it again. The voice acting is still top-notch, and we’ve got some great new characters. We’ve got a great catchy soundtrack again, building on Everything is Awesome, from the first film. This time, though, the sweetness is dialed up by about ten percent, as they try to re-create the emotion that made the first film such an expected treat.

What I Didn’t Like

Well, just the usual problems that tend to plague sequels. The freshness was gone, and a lot of the twists that were unexpected in the first film are now part of the formula this time out.

Final Verdict

A very worthy sequel that expands and builds upon the Lego Cinematic Universe. A very fun film.

3 Nibs

Alita: Battle Angel

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Alita: Battle Angel poster

Starring Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earl Haley, and Keenan Johnson

Backstory

It seems that Alita: Battle Angel is one of those films I’d been reading about online for years. About 15 years ago, James Cameron, he who gave us The Terminator and Titanic, announced he was developing two films that would rely heavily on the new field of performance capture animation. One was an adaptation of the manga Gunnm (English title Battle Angel), and the other an original project he was working on, Avatar. Avatar got made first, and it was assumed that Battle Angel would be next. However, Cameron got wrapped up in developing four or five sequels to Avatar, so he gave Battle Angel to Robert Rodriguez, he who gave us Spy Kids and Sin City, to carry across the finish line. And now it’s finally here! Was it work the 1.5 decades of waiting?

Plot

In the 26th Century, 300 years after a world war known as the Fall, in a city known as Iron City, which sits beneath the last floating city of Zalem, we meet Dr. Dyson Ito, a doctor and cybernetics expert. While scavenging a scrapyard for parts, he finds the discarded remains of a cyborg. He gives her a new body, and a new name — Alita. Alita has no memories of her past life, but she instinctively knows an ancient martial art known as Panzer Kunst. Intense combat situations seem to trigger memories of her past life, so she soon signs up to be a Hunter-Warrior (this world’s name for bounty hunters), and her new friend Hugo introduces her to the sport of Motorball. And there’s no shortage of intense combat situations, as many people start coming out of the woodwork to kill Alita. Will she regain her memories? Why do people want her dead? Will Hugo achieve his dream of making it to Zalem?

What I Liked

The film is visually stunning. Again, with Cameron on board, you knew it was going to look fantastic, and again, probably the most seamless blend of live-action and performance capture characters in a long time. And Rosa Salazar is absolutely charming as our heroine Alita, as she starts learning who she is and living life for the first time. And it was good seeing Christoph Waltz playing against type, as a kindly father figure rather than the scary German villain he usually plays.

What I Didn’t Like

Well, I had the same problems that I had with John Carter many moons ago. You really get the feeling that, with some plot threads, Cameron and Rodriguez were behind the camera going, “Aw, man! I can’t wait to get into that in the sequel!” And when such threads start piling up, you start feeling a little…unfulfilled.

Final Verdict

But don’t let my above objection turn you off. It does have a pretty satisfying conclusion and remembers to focus on the story at hand. “Leave them wanting more,” is the old showbiz adage, and I truly felt that way with Alita.

3 Nibs

Aquaman

Directed by James Wan

Aquaman Poster

Starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, and Nicole Kidman

Backstory

Who would have thought that we’d live in a world where we get a multi-billion dollar Aquaman movie? Long mocked for his best known superpower — the ability to communicate telepathically with sea life (i.e. talk to fish) — they’ve been working over the years to identify him as a brawler, and lean into the fantasy elements of undersea kingdoms. He’s been re-defined as a warrior king. And after being introduced to the public at large with a great role in Justice League, it was time for Aquaman to be introduced to the public at large. Would they buy it?

Plot

There’s trouble a’ brewin’ under the sea. Orm, the current King of Atlantis, is tired of the oceans being abused by the surface world. He seeks to unite the seven undersea kingdoms and declare war on the surface world. All he needs is the allegiance of four kingdoms to be declared Ocean Master. But, Orm’s vizier Vulko and betrothed, the princess Mera, have a problem with this. Their plan is to get Orm’s half brother, the half-Atlantean/half-surface dweller Arthur Curry, to challenge the throne. Arthur, though, wants none of it, having turned his back on his Atlantian heritage a long time ago. But Arthur soon sees the threat that Orm holds to the entire world, and is forced to go along with it. He’ll need help, though, and soon Arthur and Mera are on a quest to find the fabled Trident of Atlan, the first ruler of Atlantis. Will Arthur and Mera find the trident? Will Arthur be able to claim the throne and stop a war?

What I Liked

Man, this film is lavish. Talk about your world-building, as we’re treated to some truly fantastic designs for undersea kingdoms. And then we have armies of armored sharks and seahorses…it’s just bonkers. And one thing I left out of my plot description is that the Aquaman villain Black Manta gets a pretty meaty subplot that lays out his origin story. And, again, Momoa is great as Aquaman, building what we saw on Justice League and is once again as charming as ever.  Amber Heard is also great as Mera. It’s just great.

What I Didn’t Like

Probably just a little too long, as I found myself glancing at my watch.

Final Verdict

Holy moly. Who would have thought that Aquaman would give us our next great fantasy epic? A fun time at the movies, to be sure.

3.5 Nibs

Bumblebee

Directed by Travis Knight

Bumblebee Poster

Starring Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, John Oritz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, and the voices of Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux, Dylan O’Brien, and Peter Cullen

Backstory

I love Transformers.  Grew up with them. I enjoyed the first Michael Bay movie…then they rapidly declined in quality. I gave the last one, The Last Knight, a complete pass. (Although I finally watched it on Netflix. Didn’t miss much.) So when they announced that they were giving the Autobot Bumblebee his own film, I greeted the news with disinterest. But then the first trailer dropped, and my interest was renewed. Gone were the explosions and dumb humour that became Bay’s hallmarks. Instead, it looked like a quiet, gentler film, with more heart. Was my renewed interest in the franchise justified?

Plot

The year is 1987. Charlie Watson has just turned 18, and hates her life. She’s still mourning the loss of her father, and is almost horrified at how well her family is getting along with her new stepdad. But, she’s managed to get her hands on her first car: an old yellow Volkswagon Beetle. But, to her surprise, the Beetle comes to life and transforms into a robot. For you see, this is the Autobot scout Bumblebee, who was sent to Earth by Optimus Prime during the fall of Cybertron to establish a new base on Earth. But, Bumblebee is not safe. He’s being pursued by two Decipticon triple-changers, Shatter and Dropkick, and their new human allies led by Agent Jack Burns of Sector 7. Will Bumblebee complete his mission? Will Charlie’s new friend help her find her smile?

What I Liked

The opening 10 minutes had me crying tears of nostalgic joy. Watching the fall of Cyberton is probably the closest we’ll get to a computer animated remake of The Transformers: The Movie. That, and it seems that director Travis Knight is better-versed in Transformers
lore, as the Easter eggs come fast and furious. But that’s not all. For the first time in a long time in a Transformers movies, we have human characters that we actually care about. Hailee Steinfeld is wonderful as Charlie, as she takes the stock angst-ridden teen and is able to inject it with such warmth. And we’ve got some great homages to other classic films, like E.T.

What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, not much.

Final Verdict

Bumblebee is a much-needed breath of fresh air for the Transformers franchise, finally injecting some much-needed heart and soul into the characters. Loved it.

3.5 Nibs

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rotham

Starring the voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, John Mulaney, Nicholas Cage, Lily Tomlin, and Liev Schreiber

Backstory

I love Spider-Man!  I love Spider-Man movies!  I also love animated movies.  And since I think that animation and superheroes are a medium and a genre made for each other, I was so there for a Spider-Man animated movie!  Choosing to focus on an alternate universe Spider-Man like Miles Morales was definitely a way to go, so as not to distract from the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe.  So how fares a Spidey in his latest big-screen outing? 

Plot

Miles Morales is having trouble fitting in.  He just won a scholarship to prestigious private school, and still hasn’t made many friends.  He’s being driving away by his strict, police officer father, and finding a surrogate father in his Uncle Aaron.  One day, while his uncle is letting him indulge in his art skills, young Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider, and begins developing powers.  Trying to figure out what’s happening to him, Miles stumbles into the final battle between Kingpin and Spider-Man…and watches Spider-Man die.  Promising Spider-Man to follow in his footsteps, Miles sets out to stop Kingpin.  But, Miles has some help.  Kingpin’s been dabbling in trans-dimensional technology, and brought some other Spider-People to this universe.  Can Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen, and Spider-Ham all help Miles to carry the burdens that come with being Spider-Man?

What I Liked

Needless to say, seeing all the different Spider-People is a sheer delight.  While John Mulaney is getting the laughs in the TV spots as Spider-Ham, Nicholas Cage as the grim and gritty Spider-Man Noir is far more entertaining.  And, much like The Lego Batman Movie, this is the kind of film that you’re going to have to watch frame-by-frame to catch all the Easter eggs.  That being said, this still is firmly rooted as Miles Morales’s story, as he’s thrust into a very extraordinary situation, and even he himself is wondering if he’s up to the task.  It’s that hero’s journey at the core that makes the film worthwhile.  Oh, and that art style.  It’s amazing how this film really plays with style and isn’t afraid to get incredibly stylized when it needs to. 

What I Didn’t Like

I’ve seen far too many animated films and superhero films now to know the formula, so I was able to see a lot of the big plot twists coming.

Final Verdict

Love this new spin on a Spider-Man film.  I look forward to seeing the saga of Miles Morales continue in many films to come!

3 Nibs

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Directed by Rich Moore and Phil JohnstonRalph Breaks the Internet

Starring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill, and Taraji P. Henson

Backstory

I was pleasantly surprised by the first Wreck-It Ralph.  Not being much of a gamer, I originally dismissed it as “Video Game Nostalgia: The Movie.”  But, exceedingly positive reviews won me over, I went to see it, and I genuinely liked it.  So when it’s sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, came along, I was mildly optimistic that it would be more than “Internet Company Product Placement: The Movie.”  And besides, I’m still a sucker for Disney animation.

Plot

At the outset, things are lookin’ pretty sweet for Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz.  While Ralph loves the day-to-day routine in the arcade, in true Disney princess fashion, Vanellope is starting to yearn for something more.  But then, disaster strikes, when Vanellope’s game Sugar Rush is damaged, and it looks like it’ll be scrapped, leaving Vanellope and the rest of the Sugar Rush residents homeless.  But Ralph and Vanellope learn that they might be able to get a replacement part from some place on the Internet called “eBay,” and wouldn’t you know it, the arcade just got WiFi!  So Ralph and Vanellope head to the Internet.  Their quest soon leads them to an online game called Slaughter Race, and to a racer like Vanellope, it’s heaven.  But as Vanellope begins striking up a friendship with Slaughter Race‘s star racer Shank, Ralph starts feeling threatened.  Will Ralph be able to let go of Vanellope so she can find what she’s yearning for on the Internet?

What I Liked

Once again, what seems like a shameless tie-in turns out to be a pretty solid story about how friendships grow and evolve.  And, just like the first film, it’s all sold through some great performance by Reilly and Silverman.  It’s also funny as hell.  The Disney Princess scene, which we have now seen all over the trailers, borders on a Riverdale-level of cringe, so of course, I liked it.  It all eventually leads to a wonderfully weird musical number.  And I’m still wondering exactly how brilliant that mid-credits stinger is.

What I Didn’t Like

Felt like it was just a little too long.  I mean, as much as I loved the Disney Princess scene, it was pretty gratuitous.  And I felt like it had just one too many endings.

Final Verdict

Loved it.  Easily as good as the first film, providing just the same amount of feels.

3 Nibs

Venom

Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, and Melora Walters

Backstory

Venom is one of Spider-Man’s more popular modern-era villains…so much so, that he switched sides and became a hero.  So when we heard that a solo Venom film was in development, the question immediately was, “How are they going to do it without Spider-Man?”  Well, they found a way.  And as Sony still owns the bulk of Spider-Man‘s characters, they’re planning their own whole Marvel Cinematic Universe of Spidey’s second-stringers.  Venom is the first one out of the gate.  So, how’s our first Spider-Man-less Spider-Man film?

Plot

Eddie Brock is on top of the world.  He’s a much-beloved investigative reporter, engaged to a beautiful lawyer, but then he loses it all when he goes too far in an interview with tech billionaire Carlton Drake.  Six months later, Brock is at rock bottom when he’s approached by one of Drake’s top scientists.  Seems that one of Drake’s space probes captured alien life.  These aliens, called “symbiots,” need a human host to survive, and it seems that Drake is racking up quite the body count looking for suitable hosts.  Brock breaks in to Drake’s lab to investigate, and finds himself bonded with one of the symbiots.  Calling itself Venom, the symbiot strikes a deal with Brock:  use of Brock’s body to free the other symbiots and uncover Drake’s plot.  Will these two unlikely partners succeed in their mission?

What I Liked

The film is much more lighthearted than I expected.  Eddie Brock and the symbiot form a kind of “buddy cop” relationship, and their banter is truly the highlight of the film.  There’s also some great physical comedy as Brock adjusts to his new situation.  Yeah…just a lot funnier than expected.

What I Didn’t Like

The plot is pretty cookie-cutter.  It offers very little new in the genre of superhero films.  And when your hero and villain are CGI blobs, the climactic battle is just one big blobby mess that’s tough to follow.

Final Verdict

I was pleasantly surprised.  A rather enjoyable, if basic, superhero flick.

3 Nibs