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TheSpoiler Reviews: Every Movie I Watched in March, April, and May of 2017

Hello everyone. I’m The Spoiler and back with another one of my “Reviewing every movie I watched in _____” things for the three or four of you who actually read them. This is a little later than I wanted, but I ran into some complications and decided to just wait to add May onto the other two months. On the plus side, that means you get even more of my words of wisdom.

If you’re confused, the title is just what it says: I’m going down every movie I watched in March, April, and May of this year and giving reviews of them (some are in-depth, others are just quick thoughts). I watched a lot recently, so strap yourself in; this will probably be long.

Logan

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“Logan” is the tenth film in the X-Men film series, and the final appearance of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan. People adored this movie and wouldn’t stop praising it, and that’s one of many things that led to me going to see it excited. I walked out feeling very underwhelmed and a little disappointed. I didn’t dislike it; it just didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I was going to write a review immediately after I saw it, but I just didn’t have the passion to do one at the time. That’s led to me writing this a couple months after actually seeing it, so apologies if my memory isn’t the best or if this feels all over the place (I have a lot of thoughts on it)

“Logan” takes a lot of inspiration from Mark Millar’s “Old Man Logan” comic, but thankfully only the good stuff and not the goofy nonsense that made that story a tonally inconsistent mess. It focuses on an older, past-his-prime Logan (played once again by Hugh Jackman) going on one last journey across the country to get a girl named Laura (played by Dafne Keen) to a safe haven. That’s pretty much it; it’s a journey like that broken up with some action scenes and random plot points existing to extend the movie’s length. A simple plot is fine if everything else is good enough to still hold the movie afloat, but this movie was lacking in some areas which we’ll get to later.

There’s a few highlights of this movie, but I think the acting is the main one, mainly from Hugh Jackman. He easily could have phoned it in since it’s his final time, but he’s still giving high-quality performances. There’s not much to say about him; he gives the same usual great performance he always has as Logan but managed to darken it a little to fit in with the film’s darker tone and the character’s more depressed mood. Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier again did well with what they gave him, even if I wasn’t a big fan of the material. Dafne Keen as Laura was solid too. Someone who I thought was a highlight but barely anyone mentions is Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce. The guy had a certain charm and presence to him that a lot of villains in these movies seem to lack, and Boyd fit the character pretty well. I also really enjoyed Stephan Merchant as Caliban, but he’s another one I hear barely anyone brought up.

Unfortunately, when it comes to characters in the movie, really only Logan stood out. The five I just mentioned are the only ones with any real role, except for a woman early on who only exists to jump-start the plot. There was a farmer and his family that pop in at about the half-way point, but they don’t add anything other than a bit of a distraction. Various kids in the final act are just background characters and plot details, nothing more. And of the five I named, two of them barely do anything. Caliban only existed as a plot device to set up some conflict, and Donald didn’t get anywhere near as much screen time as I would have wanted and didn’t get very fleshed out. Laura played a big role, but didn’t have much of a character; she didn’t even speak for half the movie. I know this fits in with her character and any potential future movies would be able to add more depth to her (like with the comics; X-23: Innocence Lost didn’t have her be some highly fleshed out person), but I can’t judge her on what she might become if featured in future films. If I wasn’t already a fan of her in the comics, I would have no reason to care about her in this, which isn’t good when she’s the main catalyst of the plot.

There is one other thing in the movie that could arguably count as a character. I wouldn’t, but they are at least humanoid. It’s presented as a twist about mid-way in, so I won’t spoil it, but I will say that they came off very forced in-film and the entire concept just seemed really dumb and gimmicky to me. It led to me not caring about any of the action scenes, because they just seemed overly ridiculous. Ridiculous stuff can work in the proper movie if the film presents itself that way (I enjoyed all the Spidey vs. Green Goblin stuff in the original movie, and that was pretty ridiculous), but Logan keeps trying to push itself as super serious and otherwise feels fairly grounded (for X-Men standards).

Back to the plot, some more details involve Logan’s healing factor slowly fading away, making him vulnerable. Just like the last Wolverine solo film (the highly underrated “The Wolverine”). I know that they have to do something to make fight scenes with him more compelling since he can heal from so much, but it feels really cheap to have the same plot detail two movies in a row. That’s actually a common issue in Logan: it borrows a lot from previous movies. You have Logan losing his healing factor from The Wolverine, you have Logan trying to help a bunch of mutant kids be set free from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, you have Logan fighting basically an evil version of himself from X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It reminds me a lot of X-Men: Apocalypse in borrowing a lot from previous films, and seemingly not even as a cool reference; they’re just out of ideas. While I’d hate to see Marvel get the franchise, I honestly think it may be time to end these if they can’t do anything new.

One of the bigger issues with the movie is that the more emotional moments didn’t have anywhere near the impact they should have. One happens about mid-way through the movie and we should be really sad about it, but they mix it with a big plot twist/reveal and follow it up with a huge action scene which leads to us not having any time to react or respond to what should have been a hard-hitting, emotional scene. There’s one at the end that handles it much better, and has some amazing presentation in how it was paced and written. But it’s so predictable that I found myself not caring, as I wanted pretty much anything to spice it up and not give us exactly what I expected. Again, it’s amazingly well-presented and I respect the work, but I didn’t feel much of anything.

Really, all the issues I had with “The Wolverine” were still present in “Logan”. There weren’t many interesting characters besides Logan (though The Wolverine had Yukio, which is more than Logan did. Plus The Wolverine was set in Japan so there’s a bit of a culture barrier; what’s Logan’s excuse?), the final fight is overly ridiculous compared to what came before, and everything is predictable. I like James Mangold, but he didn’t learn anything between films.

On the positive side, I really liked all the barren, desert scenery that was in the film early on. It stood out as looking unique, and fit the style they were going for. I was really disappointed by the end when it was just boring forest scenes.

The action was overall very well-done in the movie (outside of the most cliche thing imaginable happening in the climax) and looked good, but it relates to an issue: The R Rating. What was the point of it? There was some blood and chopped limbs (nothing graphic, thankfully) in the action scenes, but overall they were basically what we saw in previous movies; they went further than was necessary. There was a bunch of cursing and f-bomb droppings (mainly from Charles) that was forced and didn’t need to be there. One time a woman briefly showed her breasts, and that was really pointless. There was absolutely nothing in the plot that required R rated content (they possibly could have had that if they went into more detail over Laura’s creation, but they skimmed over it). So again, why was it R rated? It felt like a desperate attempt to get approval from comic fans who wanted it for some reason and to seem more artsy for the critic crowd.

I have more I could say, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I know I’m really negative towards Logan, and I apologize for that. I did genuinely walk out saying I liked it; it was just underwhelming. The plot had issues and a lot of unoriginality, and most of the characters didn’t stand out. But the cast was great, there were some good moments, I liked the atmosphere of the whole thing, the action was good, etc. I do think Logan is a good movie; it’s just not as great as I thought or hoped it would be.

Overall Rating: 7 out of 10

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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Beauty and the Beast is an adaption of the 1991 animated film of the same name. It features a woman named Belle (played by Emma Watson) taken prisoner in the castle of The Beast (played by Dan Stevens), where she meets the Beast’s staff of talking objects and eventually starts forming a romance with The Beast himself, all while a guy named Gaston (played by Luke Evans) tries to do whatever it takes to get Belle to be his wife. I know this movie causes massive “What’s the point of this?” and “Cash-grab” thoughts in your head, and I’m not going to say the idea behind it wasn’t a cash-grab, but the actual work put into the film is amazing and it clearly had passionate people behind it.

It’s a little hard to praise the movie for its story since the original movie already perfected it, but for what it’s worth, I really enjoyed it. It was very well-paced and pretty faithful to the original. There were some changes to the original, the most notable one I remember was that they added a little more backstory to the Beast and made him a big fan of books, which is one of the things he and Belle bond over. They also add a little bit about Belle’s mother that added some more emotion to things. Apologies if these were in the original; it’s been a while since I watched it, but I don’t remember those and can’t find anything about it online.

The thing that really makes this movie is the cast. Emma Watson is fantastic as Belle, as is Dan Stevens as the Beast. They work well together and just felt right. The main highlight to me was Luke Evans as Gaston; he was phenomenal. He’s less chartoonish in this version, seems far more unhinged, and does some bad things that go beyond the original. Evans pulls it off perfectly, from the cockiness early on to being more obsessed and deranged. Basically, Luke Evans is fantastic and needs to be in more movies. For other stand-out cast members: Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen as Lumiere and Cogsworth, respectively, sounds completely random but somehow manage to steal most of the scenes they’re in. Especially McGregor. Aside from Gaston, I think Lumiere was my favorite character. Special shout-out to Josh Gad as Le Fou; I really enjoyed him.

Beauty and the Beast looks fantastic. I had some concerns about how the Beast’s staff would work in live action, but I thought they were pulled off really well. Some changes were made to their design from the animated version, but I thought they looked good. I was especially impressed with how Lumiere turned out. The Beast, while fairly different from the animated, also looked pretty good; I think they tried making his face more human so you could see the emotion, but it worked well. Aside from their designs and effects, all the sets and costumes looked amazing and just like you’d hope. From a production standpoint, the whole movie is great.

What helps the production be so good are the music sequences (it’s a musical, so they were expected). They went all out with these and they were incredible. The songs were performed very well, with Emma Watson, Luke Evans, and Ewan McGregor showing some surprisingly good singing skills, were memorable (my favorites were “Be Our Guest” and “Gaston”), and I was in awe multiple times at the visuals over the music (“Be Our Guest”, again, “The Mob Song”, and the dancing scene which I forget the name of stand out for me in that aspect). Again, the production on this movie was amazing.

In terms of criticisms of the movie, I don’t have any major ones. There were some jokes that I didn’t find funny, but nothing that ultimately hurt the movie. I thought that Madame de Garderobe (The Wardrobe) really didn’t work well in live action, but she’s such a small part of the movie that she didn’t hurt anything. That’s about all I recall in terms of complaints with the movie; it was just that well-made.

As I’ve probably let on, I loved Beauty and the Beast. It was great and better than it had any right to be. It actually gives me some hope that Disney’s future live action attempts won’t turn out to be the epic failures I was expecting (except for Tim Burton’s Dumbo. Did anyone ask for that?). I’m very happy this is doing so well; I had a fantastic time watching it. Of the two films I’ve seen, definitely my favorite of the year so far and it has a good chance of still being my favorite when the year’s over (if/when I make a list in December or January and Beauty and the Beast is at the top, don’t say I didn’t warn you).

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10

Cloud Atlas

A foreign poster was all I could find on short notice; sorry
A foreign poster was all I could find on short notice; sorry

Keep in mind that I have not read the Cloud Atlas book; I’m only judging this on its own.

Describing “Cloud Atlas” is a bit hard. It doesn’t have one single plot; the film has six different plots that it rotates between. These six plots take place across various time periods and tell very different stories and are also pretty much different genres, mainly only being connected by some of the same actors & actress and some common themes the stories share. There’s one in the mid 1800s involving a lawyer discovering a stowaway slave on a ship he’s using, one that’s kind of a love story in the 1930s about a composer, one in the 1970s involving a journalist trying to investigate & uncover a story others are trying to hide, a more goofy, comedic one in 2012 London about a guy unknowingly getting trapped in a nursing home, a sci-fi story set in a far future South Korea about what’s basically a clone telling her backstory and learning about a government conspiracy, and one in a post-apocalyptic future about a guy being haunted with visions. The plots certainly have more to them than I’m describing, along with some stronger connections, but I’m doing my best to not spoil anything.

Trying to balance that many unrelated stories that aren’t even the same genre easily could have been a mess, but everything in the movie fit together perfectly. I think the credit for it working so well goes to the editing. I have some trouble describing a film’s technical aspects, but I have to praise them here; the transitions from one story to the next were timed extremely well, and everything just flowed together naturally.

If we’re talking about more technical aspects, then I also have to give credit to the make-up. I mentioned that the stories share some of the same actors & actress, and the make-up does an amazing job at differentiating them between their roles yet still make sure they look similar enough that I could recognize them like they intended. At least I could usually recognize them; there were some I didn’t, and I was amazed at some things when I saw the credits and they showed all the characters who each single actor/actress played (I specifically recall one with Halle Berry that left me speechless). Also, on a technical note, the CGI looked pretty great when they used it.

Back to the cast, I thought they did a really good job. Jim Sturgese and Ben Whishaw delivered what were probably my favorite performances, but there was also some excellent acting from Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, and Keith David just to name a few. There’s not much to say; they just all delivered really well.

And back to the stories themselves: They need to be good for the film to be good, and I would say that they’re all great for the most part. They were all intriguing, entertaining to watch unfold, paced well, and pretty well-written. I was going to say what my favorite was, but I honestly can’t decide. I liked them all and never found myself wanting one to be over so I could go back to watching another, with one exception: I wasn’t that big a fan of the post-apocalypse one with Tom Hanks. It’s really a shame, as it has arguably the most interesting setting, arguably looks the best (some of the designs & make-up were phenomenal), and has a great performance from Hanks. But I just found it the most boring out of all of them and, except for a cool action scene, I found myself just wanting it to end so I could watch one of the interesting stories. Still, I won’t let that one take away from how great the others were. The post-apocalypse one wasn’t even bad; I just wasn’t as interested in it as the others.

In terms of negatives, I don’t have much to say outside of what I said earlier about the post-apocalypse one. I have a minor nit pick with the 2012 London one, in that it starts off with what looks to be the main plot but turns into something very different and near unrelated. It’s not even like the movie was trying to shock us with a twist; how we got there made sense, it just felt a bit unrelated to the initial set up that I don’t even remember being carried on with. Still, this story was still a lot of fun and provided some nice levity to the serious stories, so I won’t complain too much.

Outside of that, my only issue is that I thought it got a bit too violent/gruesome at times. Like I remember one scene where a character visibly gets their head bashed in. You don’t see real guts or anything outside of blood, but it still felt a little overboard and un-needed to me. Though as someone who loves the Saw films, I don’t know why this was an issue for me to watch.

Overall, “Cloud Atlas” is one of the few times I can say I was blown away by a movie. I would probably have already praised it for how ambitious and creative it was, but the fact it was all executed near flawlessly just made it even more impressive to me. I got this and a few other movies from the library (yes, people still use those), and at the time of writing haven’t watched any of the others yet. I’m honestly scared to since I’m not sure any of the other three can compare, which should say a lot. I’ve spent a decent portion of the day after I watched this (today, going by when I’m writing) trying to come up with reasons I may be overhyping it so I don’t sound like a fangirl, but I can’t think of any strong criticism I have; I’m too blown away by some scenes, the editing, and how enthralled I was with the stories as I watched. Like I said, this is near-flawless to me and is one of the strongest reactions I’ve had to a movie in quite some time.

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10

Moonlight

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My fears of Cloud Atlas being so good that it altered my opinion on other movies have thankfully been put to rest, as Moonlight was completely lackluster and underwhelming on its own merits without having to be compared to anything. See? I’m unbiased.

“Moonlight” is a coming of age movie that goes through three eras of a guy’s life as he discovers himself or his sexuality or whatever. There’s not much of an actual plot; it’s just scenes connected to each other. I don’t think trying to be character-driven and just explore one person without a big plot is a problem for a movie, but it is a problem when they don’t do anything interesting with it. The second part of the movie is kind of decent, but I think I only feel that way because of how flat and boring the first and third parts were.

None of the characters were interesting, and the cast’s performance didn’t help things. With a few exceptions, the only time they were able to express any emotion is when they were trying to be rude, angry, an a-hole, or a combination of those. When they weren’t doing that, pretty much every line was delivered really blandly; everyone did that thing where they’re quiet and flat to try and sound like the movie is more serious and deep than it actually is. The last time I saw this done was in Fant4stic, because ripping off that movie’s decisions is clearly a wise move. I don’t blame the cast for this though; I think it was just the direction they were given.

Speaking of the direction, the camera work in “Moonlight” is terrible. Less than three minutes in, and I was put off twice at how bad it was. The camera was shaking at several points for no reason, which I think it was to create a chaotic feeling (like a lot of action movies try for, or the Saw series), but there was no reason for it to feel chaotic. There was also an obsession with twirling the camera around characters when they’re standing there and talking, which was just disorienting.

I feel like I should focus on the “story” and writing more, but I don’t have a lot to say. The first and especially third parts just felt flat and boring. The second part was slightly better as at least some stuff was happening but, outside of one scene where a guy is hit with a chair, none of it managed to draw me in. Wasn’t helped by some bad pieces of writing, like a sex scene about half-way in that felt really forced.

I just don’t have much to say about “Moonlight”. It wasn’t bad; it was just underwhelming.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 10

Room

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“Room” is about teaching me why I should write notes as I watch; I finished it about two minutes ago and already forget some points I know I wanted to make. But to legitimately talk about the movie’s premise, I have to break it up into Movie 1 and Movie 2, as the whole thing got bored with itself half-way through and completely changed at that point.

Movie One’s premise is about a mother & son (played by Brie Larson and Jacob Trembly), who are held in captivity in some guy’s shed. It focuses on their lives there and the affects the living conditions have, and eventually the mother decides to try some escape attempts. That’s about it really. It’s a good premise, but that’s all it is: a premise. There wasn’t enough here to carry a whole movie, and it shows. I’m fine with a slow moving movie, but this felt like it dragged on a few times and felt worse when the movie started deliberately wasting my time. Despite that, it still couldn’t get a proper run time and pretty much ended half-way in. Which led us into Movie Two:

I won’t spoil Movie Two’s premise, but any draw that Movie One had is gone here. It feels like a bad sequel that was never planned and only made because the first one was successful, except it was tacked onto the first movie’s release before they knew its success. They reference the plot of Movie One, but it doesn’t have much of anything to do with it. It doesn’t even do much of anything with itself. It runs into the same problem as “Moonlight” in there’s no real plot or point to anything; we’re just watching things happen. I was going to complain that this one just stops without even getting an ending, but I guess it’s hard to have a real ending when you don’t have a real plot. I was sort of on board with “Room” during the first half, despite complaints, but this is where they lost me.

On the positive side, the movie was very well presented. The cinematography looked good, it had a pretty good soundtrack, and managed to be manipulative enough that I almost thought I felt something towards it a couple times. Though even here there’s some issues, like that there were several shots (like the final moment) that went on way too long for no reason. Or how during Movie Two, they add narration that I don’t think was there before. The narrator just tells us how they’re feeling at certain points, because the movie isn’t allowed to show us for some reason.

So cut out Movie Two, and fix Movie One’s length so it doesn’t feel dragged or like it’s wasting my time, and there’s a movie I’d find kind of decent.

The last major thing I want to talk about is the kid, Jack. I won’t bash the actor too much since he’s just a kid, but the character could be really annoying. He was tolerable for the most part, but I felt like my skull was being ripped open every time he started screaming (which was several times). Is this realistic for a five-year-old? Maybe. Is this good for a film? No, no it’s not. Same thing for when the kid would just say something irritating, though he was too boring for that to happen most of the time.

The rest of the cast is pretty un-noteworthy. Brie Larson did a solid enough job I guess, but nothing spectacular.

I feel really bad about bashing “Room” so much. I didn’t feel any strong dislike towards it, and I was fairly interested in Movie One. But once it was over, pretty much all I could think about were the negative aspects while any enjoyment I got just faded away from memory. Flaws about a film do sometimes not register with me until thinking about it later on, but it never really impacts my overall like of a movie (The Dark Knight Rises is a great example of this). So when any like I had for something fades away within a few minutes, that’s not a good sign. It’s also why I’m deciding to give “Room” a 5 rather than the 6 I was considering; as more time goes on, I just feel frustration towards it.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 10

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

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“Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” is a name I hate. It’s long and doesn’t flow well, leading to it being awkward to say aloud. Plus I keep forgetting how to spell her name when I have to write it. But I can forgive that, because I enjoyed the movie itself.

The movie’s set-up reminds me a lot of the X-Men. It involves Miss Peregrine (played by Eva Green) running a closed-off home/school for kids who were born with strange powers and often look bizarre physically. The plot of this movie involves a kid named Jake (played by Asa Butterfield) meeting Peregrine and the peculiars after hearing stories of them from his grandfather and discovers a threat endangering them. While my terrible description didn’t help, trying to explain that highlights my biggest issue with the movie: The basic structure of it is kind of off. I thought the set-up went on for too long, we didn’t get to experience as much of the home in a standard state as I wanted, and it’s not until about half-way in that the main threat/conflict of the movie is introduced.

Despite that, I did enjoy a lot of the movie individually. The part of the movie where Jake finds the home and we’re introduced to all the characters and how things work was something I really liked. There was a lot of creative stuff going on there and it was presented well. The climax of the whole thing is also pretty great; there’s more creative things going on and all the characters get a chance to shine.

Visually, the movie is really impressive. It does get really creepy and kind of scary at times, which is odd since it’s not horror, but I was still amazed at the design on pretty much everyone that wasn’t a regular human. Aside from character designs, there several scenes and sets that also really impressed me (like the bomb dropping or the sunken boat). I’m underselling it, but this movie was a marvel to look at.

The cast wasn’t anything special overall, but I really loved Eva Green and Samuel L. Jackson. Saying I loved Jackson probably doesn’t mean much, but he was really enjoyable in this and seemed to be having fun. Not much to say about Eva; she was just great, fit the role, and had good presence. Can we get here in more movies?

The only character/actor I wasn’t really into was Asa Butterfield as Jake. Which isn’t good when he’s the protagonist. He just came off as fairly boring compared to everything else. I had no interest in what happened to him; I just wanted to see the interesting stuff the movie offered.

There was a funny exchange that happened in the movie: “You can continue to live in 2016 “Why would I do that?” I know it’s not what the movie was going for, but I found it funny since it fits with pretty much declaring 2016 a terrible year.

I apologize for this not being that great; I’m not in the best state of mind at the moment. But I did really enjoy this movie, despite its faults, and I’d recommend it.

Overall Rating: 7 out of 10

Taken

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Taken is about a former CIA agent name Bryan Mills (played by the always awesome Liam Neeson). While on a trip to France, his daughter Kim (played by Maggie Grace) is kidnaped (or “taken”, thus the title) which leads to Bryan going on a journey to get her back. That’s about it in terms of plot; it’s simple, but it manages to make everything work.

The first thing I have to say is that Liam Neeson is awesome as Bryan. He’s really the main thing holding the movie together and I’m not sure it’d work without him. He gave a good performance, was believable, and brought good intensity to the role. I also liked Bryan himself, even if he is kind of a d*ck. He still comes off as more sympathetic than anyone he’s going after.

I enjoyed all the action in the movie. It was a bit over-edited at times, but overall was well-shot and fun to watch. It felt pretty tense at times, especially in the climax.

The movie also managed to create some emotional investment with me, which I was surprised by. They did a good enough job setting everything up that I was concerned about Kim and wanted to see Bryan succeed. They only had about 20 minutes at the beginning before she was taken, so I was impressed they could get something done in that time.

My biggest issue with the movie is that the plot is really predictable. I know the plot wasn’t anything with much depth to begin with, but it has a couple twists in it and I called them long before the film got around to even hinting at them.

I was also surprised at the movie having multiple moments I found funny. They’re played so straight that I don’t know if they were even meant to be humorous, but I didn’t think any of them took away from the movie, so I didn’t mind.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about Taken. It’s not some cinematic masterpiece, but it does a good job at what it sets out to do and I found it pretty enjoyable.

Overall Rating: 7 out of 10

Les Misérables

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I was a huge fan of Veggie Tales when I was a kid. I remember an episode “Lyle the Kindly Viking” that was a musical, and there was a moment where Larry kept singing his lines after a song had already stopped. Bob told him to stop, Larry sang “But it’s a musical” and Bob said, “Yeah, but not every line in a musical is a song”. Well Les Misérables didn’t take Bob’s advice, as pretty much every piece of dialogue was part of a song. I say pretty much all of it and not literally all of it because there was one moment where I couldn’t tell if a guy was actually trying to speak regularly or he just sucked at singing and it came out as talking.

I admit I haven’t seen many musicals, but I’m used to ones where they have big singing set pieces with regular film scenes in between just showing the characters talking to progress the plot and give context to the songs, similar to what I saw with Beauty and the Beast. But since Les Misérables doesn’t do this and has to get the plot & characters explained entirely through singing, which makes things pretty hard to follow. It also leads to there being no breathing room in between the songs & plot points, leading to me feeling like I’m watching a summarized version of the story. I don’t mean that in the same way as I say The Hunger Games or The Fault In Our Stars feel a little rushed in spots after reading the books, as they still tell the entirety of the story properly just without as much detail; I mean I feel like I was seeing the cliffnotes to the story someone was telling me to prove they read the book. It’s especially bad it feels this rushed when you remember it has an ungodly 158 minute runtime.

From what I could make out of the plot behind the terrible structure and mediocre singing: Hugh Jackman plays a former convict, has some sort of tension with a guy involved in the police, and does something with a prostitute played by Anne Hathaway and her daughter. It jumps all over the place in time, and I think eventually gets involved in the Paris Uprising. The story just isn’t told in a very good way and it made it hard to get any sort of investment in, I see ideas that could make a good story, so I’m sure the book is good, but I’m judging the movie and I didn’t like the plot as it was presented.

It’s hard to really judge the acting since it was mostly singing. I sort of liked Anne Hathaway, and Hugh Jackman just has a certain presence to him that makes me always enjoy him. That’s about it though. I want to say I liked Russel Crowe, but I don’t even remember what he was like singing, and I don’t remember much of anyone else besides Hathaway’s daughter (who I have nothing to say on).

I really didn’t like Les Misérables. It is a pretty impressive from a production standpoint, but none of that really mixes well with trying to tell a coherent or interesting movie. Again, I’m sure the book and original play is good. But none of it translated well to film. I was torn between a 3 and 4 for this, but I’ll give it a 4 since I didn’t hate watching it; I was just bored, confused, and wanted it to end.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 10

Taken 2

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Warning: Potential spoilers for the first movie are in this section. I don’t think it’s anything surprising, but I still want to give the warning to be safe.

Even though I enjoyed the first Taken, part of me questions why this exists. I really didn’t see what more they could do with the premise. I still sort of feel that way after watching, but I will say that this is probably the best a sequel to a stupidly fun but ultimately un-notable action movie could be.

Taken 2 focuses on Bryan again, who is now being threatened by relatives of people he killed in the first movie. That was immediately my biggest issue with Taken 2; I can tolerate simple motives for bad guys (the first movie was just people kidnaping girls to sell them into sexual slavery) if it’s believable, but in addition to being bare-bones simple it felt kind of forced here.

While on vaction, Bryan and his ex-wife Lenore (played by Famke Jansen) are taken by the mentioned-above bad guys in trying to get revenge. Then it’s just about Bryan trying to get himself & Lenore out alive while guiding his daughter to try and help them. That’s it for plot; it’s not even as complex as the first movie. I thought the plot also had some pacing issues; a lot of it feels like the first act of a movie to provide a set-up for the rest of it with higher stakes, but it’s almost time for the climax by the time that sequence is over.

However, I did like some things in the plot. I enjoyed seeing Kim having a bigger role and contributing. I really liked sequences of her trying to hide/escape from some people and Bryan guiding her to do things to help, even if a lot of it felt very contrived.

Unfortunately, gaining that meant losing some of what I liked in the first movie. I really enjoyed that the first movie wasn’t just Bryan going places to shoot (even if that did happen quite a lot); he did a lot of investigation to find where Kim is/was until finally getting to her. Investigative aspects aren’t present in Taken 2 at all. It’s literally just them being kidnaped towards the beginning, Kim hiding, Bryan guiding her over phone calls, and eventually shooting starts.

As for how the shooting is, since it was fun in the first one: I said it was a bit over-edited in the first one, but they go way overboard here. There are so many constant changes in views and cutaways that it got incoherent to watch at times. It was alright when they cut down on that, but nothing spectacular. They did kept a lot of the tense feeling the first one had, and actually improved on the tense aspect in a lot of scenes. I found myself on the edge of my seat more often here than in the first one.

Despite me not praising the action too much, they made up for that with a pretty incredible car chase scene. At first it seemed just cool, but as time went on they kept adding more to it, made it more over the top and exciting, and it was just glorious. It kind of felt like something out of Saints Row or Grand Theft Auto. Just a great sequence that hasn’t left my mind.

Liam Neeson still does a good job, even if at times I felt Bryan was getting a bit too over-the-top ridiculous in some stuff he was doing. I liked Famke Jansen, but I feel like most actresses could do well in her role. I sorta feel the same way about Maggie Grace, but there’s something about her that draws me into caring. The rest of the cast is fine & serviceable, but not noteworthy.

I know I’ve sounded pretty negative towards Taken 2, which is sad. I did enjoy watching the movie, even if I see the obvious problems it has. During the final scene & credits, I felt very content & satisfied with what I just watched and how it all unfolded. I want to give this a 7, but I’m going to do my best to be unbiased and give it a 6. But I still really enjoyed it, and I’d recommend it if you liked the first one. Just don’t go in expecting some masterpiece.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 10

Taken 3

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Taken 3 is barely a Taken movie. The bad guys have nothing to do with the first two, there’s none of the foreign locations or scenery like the first two, and most importantly, nobody’s actually taken.

The basic plot involves Bryan (once again played by Liam Neeson) being framed for a murder he didn’t commit. I know he’s innocent of this one, but he killed dozens (probably into the hundreds) of people in the first two movies. Shouldn’t he still be arrested for that? Or at the very least, the constant cases in this movie of him assaulting cops and resisting arrest?

I don’t have a whole lot to say about Taken 3; it really didn’t leave me with feeling much of anything. There was still some decent stuff with his daughter in there, but nothing that compelling. I’m not sure Maggie Grace even wanted to be here, which led to something feeling off about the scenes, even if something did emotionally touch me. Outside of Liam Neeson, who was still enjoyable, I don’t really remember anyone’s performance standing out much.

As for the plot: I already pointed out my issues with it not feeling like Taken and the idea of Bryan being innocent of murder is kind of ridiculous, even if he was in this specific case. I liked that they tried doing something a little different, but it wasn’t that interesting and the setting led to the movie lacking the spectacle of the first two. I also liked that they tried adding some of the investigation stuff back in this one, but they didn’t go all the way with it and, again, it just wasn’t that interesting.

I keep saying it wasn’t interesting or compelling, which is a perfect description of Taken 3. It didn’t do anything specifically bad, but it just didn’t do anything great or very compelling. I still got some enjoyment out of it, simply because it’s Liam Neeson in a Taken movie, but I won’t lie and say it was that good or anything. I’ll give it another 6, because I did like some parts to it. Again, I recommend it if you’re a fan of the series, but don’t go in with high hopes.

As much as I enjoyed the trilogy, I am glad it’s over and they’re done trying to milk this franchise longer than they should have.

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Oh come on!

Overall rating: 6 out of 10

Let The Right One In

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If this sounds familiar, it may be because you’ve heard of “Let Me In”. This was the original Swedish version; Let Me In was a remake. I loved Let Me In, but did a poor job reviewing it in the past, so hopefully I do better here.

“Let The Right One In” is based on a novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist. John also wrote the screenplay to this movie, so I assume it’s an accurate adaption. It focuses on a 12-year-old boy named Oskar (played by Kare Hedebrant), who meets a vampire girl named Eli (played by Lina Leandersson) and primarily focuses on their relationship. There’s also some stuff in there about Oskar being bullied and Eli killing a few people in town and their reactions to that. I can already tell I can’t describe this one properly either.

I already knew from the American version that I loved the plot, but it needs to be stated here again: I love the plot to this movie. I found it very compelling, and the relationship between Oskar and Eli is very well-written and escalated naturally.

The acting is hard to judge, because it’s a Swedish movie. The whole movie was in Swedish and I watched a version dubbed with English language. So I really can’t praise or criticize the acting, since the voices I heard may have been delivered completely differently than the original actors & actresses did. I will say that I thought all the movements and facial expressions looked good.

I apologize for having barely anything to say here, but it’s 1) a character-driven film where I would spoil it to describe what they do, and 2) a foreign movie where I didn’t hear the original voices and can’t judge the acting. What I can talk about though is the filmmaking itself. The atmosphere this movie creates is amazing, just always having a feeling of uneasiness to it that really helped the horror film, yet never going too far into the uneasy/creepy feeling that the emotional and sentimental scenes feel out of place. The cinematography looked fantastic too.

Again, I apologize for having so little to say here. Basically, if you have even a slim interest in a romantic horror film: Watch Let The Right One in, you’ll love it. If you don’t have an interest in those genres mixed, then don’t bother. I personally loved it, but I think I’ll probably watch the American version in the future if I want to revisit it (simply for convenience).

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10

Arrival

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Arrival is one of those movies that’s really hard to explain and still make it seem appealing, but I’ll do my best. The premise to Arrival involves several space ships landing around the Earth. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) is brought in to help Ian Donnley (played by Jeremy Renner) learn how to communicate with the aliens and find out while they’re there. While the movies are very different, the basic plot structure reminds me a lot of The Martian; there’s a core problem introduced early on and the majority of the movie is about scientists working on how to solve that problem. It’d be very easy to screw this up and make it boring, but like The Martian, they made it work fantastically.

As I probably just gave away, I really enjoyed the story. I thought it was well-paced, interesting, built a lot of intrigue (especially when they first go onto the ship and how long it takes), and was very well-presented. I also enjoyed the bits where they’re showing news reports and some public reaction to the aliens; it didn’t take over the film but felt like a realistic portrayal of the events. While less story focused, I thought it was really interesting to see and hear a lot of talk about language, such as Louise trying to explain how difficult it is to explain the language to them to communicate. And while it’s a minor detail, I loved how they portrayed the aliens’ language; it was more of a shape that changed rather than an alphabet. It was just really creative to me.

“Arrival” has a twist at the end that I think will determine what a lot of people think of the movie overall. I won’t go into it to avoid spoiling anyone, but I will say that I personally really liked it. It fit into the movie’s narrative amazingly well, and looking back I’m kind of amazed at how well the whole thing was executed. I’ve heard some complaints that it was only there for the writers to show how clever they are, but I really don’t get that; considering what a big role it plays in the movie, it’s a cental part of the story. You’d need to have it in mind when making this. Maybe the entire movie was made just for a few people to show their cleverness, but I really doubt they’d spent a few dozen million just for a few people to show off how clever they are.

I thought the acting to the movie was very good. Jeremy Renner came off as kind of boring in the Avengers movies to me, but I thought he did well here and showcased some nice personality. Amy Adams was pretty fantastic; there were a few times I thought she was a little flat, but it fit that scene very well and she pulled off other emotions very well at different points. The rest of the cast did a good job, but nothing I feel is worth noting.

From a pure film-making standpoint, this was still very good. The soundtrack was great, and the cinematography looked good. I’m a bit confused by the shape of the ships and how they worked, but they did look good.

My biggest issue with the movie is that I never felt quite as strongly attached to the characters as I could. I was very interested in what they were doing, but I was never too interested in them themselves if that makes sense. I think the movie maybe could have used a little more time to show the main characters a little more outside of their work so we could get to know them a bit more. But I was happy with where they ultimately ended up, so it wasn’t too bad.

While not the movie’s fault, I don’t quite get what the “questions it makes the audience think about” were that I heard some critics hyping up. I’m admittedly not smart enough to get stuff like that, so maybe that plays a role, but I thought there’d be a little something more. But we still got an excellent story with good presentation, pacing, and acting, so I can’t complain much.

At the time of writing, I finished Arrival about two hours ago. As that time’s gone on, my opinion of it has gone up more and more. It’s the kind of movie that you like as it’s going on, but really appreciate more once it’s over and you can see the whole picture. Between that and the fact it’s still so heavily on my mind afterwards, I feel pretty confident in saying Arrival is great. I was going to declare it my favorite movie of 2016, but something else came along I liked even more that we’ll get to in a bit. I was torn on what to give this, but in the end I decided to go with a very strong 8.

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10

Prisoners

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The plot of Prisoners involves the daughters of Keller Dover (played by Hugh Jackman) and Franklin Birch (played by Terrence Howard) going missing. Detective Loki (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) begins an investigation to find them and who took them, but Keller eventually decides Loki isn’t doing enough and tries to take matters into his own hands.

There is more to the plot than that, involving some plot twists and several potential suspects, but I won’t spoil it since a lot of the plot is built on a mystery and reveals. I will however say that I found the plot to be really good. It has a simple hook, kept me enthralled and intrigued throughout the whole movie, everything made sense, and it ended perfectly. The story reached a logical conclusion that wasn’t too happy or too sad and, while I was a little unsure what to think at first, the final moment of the movie was the perfect place to stop it. I’ve heard some criticize the plot for being too predictable, but I personally I didn’t think that.

Even if the plot is predictable to you, I still think the movie can get past that since the real focus of the movie is on the characters. The plot is mainly there to give us a reason to follow these characters and see their emotional and mental state affected by the whole situation, which I think was handled beautifully. You see characters kind of go too far and lose their morality, get caught up with and obsessed with finding the girls, become a complete mental wreck, and sometimes a combination of those. It can be kind of sad to watch, but the execution was great and it was very compelling and emotional.

I think the main reason all of that was so good was the fantastic acting. Hugh Jackman was the stand out in my opinion, giving my favorite performance from him I’ve ever seen. He perfectly showcased the anger and intensity you’d expect from the character, while still showing the emotion, sadness, and desperation behind it. Just a fantastic performance from him. A close second for best performance is Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki. I don’t have quite as much to say about him, but he came off as very believable in his role (especially in one scene where he gets frustrated and just starts hitting and throwing things around his desk) and like Jackman showed the emotion you’d expect.

Aside from the big two, I really enjoyed the performances from Terrence Howard and Viola Davis (as Nancy Birch), with Maria Bello (as Grace Dover) also doing pretty well. While his character didn’t speak too much so it’s hard to judge completely, I also loved Paul Dano as Alex Jones (not that one), even if he wasn’t the most interesting character.

The reason I’m not going into as much detail about these people as I did Jackman and Gyllenhaal brings me to my biggest problem with the movie: For something that was trying to focus on the characters, I don’t think it gave enough focus to all of them. I understand that Keller and Loki were the main characters, but I still feel like they could have done more with the Birches than just give both of them almost the same character arc. Did I mention that the Dovers also have an older son and the Birches have an older daughter? No? That’s because the son (Ralph, played by Dylan Minnette) is pretty much irrelevant to the movie outside of two scenes. That’s still more than the other daughter (Eliza, played by Zoe Soul) added to the movie. I literally only know her name because I looked it up on Wikipedia.

The other big issue I have with the movie is the first ten minutes or so. It’s not bad, but it’s pretty much exactly how you’d think this movie would start: It shows both families getting together for Thanksgiving, having fun, and just being happy. Then the girls go missing, everyone panics, and the movie begins. Again, this wasn’t bad; it was just an uncreative way to open. It obviously improved, but it didn’t leave the best first impression.

The only other complaint I have is that the movie is set in the real world and features a guy named “Loki”. No one ever questions this, brings up how unusual his name is, or points out he’s named after the Norse god/Marvel villain. I also once read a manga that had a character named Loki and no one questioned it. Is “Loki” just a common name and I’m unaware of it?

Back to the actual movie though: There was one piece of music used throughout the whole thing that sounded incredible. I’m listening to it as I write and, while it’s not quite as impactful without the scenes to go with it, it’s a good piece of music. Just another little detail to add on to this movie’s greatness. The movie also had some really great cinematography (despite a couple weird angles for shots), leading to it looking gorgeous despite not really having any special sets.

If I haven’t made the point yet through me praising the acting, characters, plot, music, and everything else, Prisoners was a phenomenal movie. I was enthralled while watching it, and it seemed to get better as time went on. I’m currently working on a Top 25 favorite movies list and have decided Prisoners is getting in the top 10 (unless I’m somehow able to find & watch enough movies I love enough that they’re ranked that highly, which seems unlikely), so that should say how much I liked it. And that’s with some scenes that were a bit hard to watch due to the subject matter, which should showcase how well made the movie is. I’d strongly recommend Prisoners as you can tell; I called it a masterpiece once it was over.

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10

I got this from the library at the same time as Arrival, without even realizing they’re from the same director (Denis Villeneuve). After how good both of them were, I think I’m gonna keep my eyes out for more movies from this guy.

Predestination

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I wasn’t sure whether or not to include Predestination in this list, simply because I think it’s impossible to talk about properly to someone who hasn’t seen it. Aside from not wanting to spoil anything, your brains would probably explode when I start describing the second half. Before I badly describe it and drive people away, let me just say that this was a fantastic movie that I strongly recommend. Make sure to not read much of anything about it, its plot, or even cast before going in; it’s better going in blind.

As for the movie itself: The set-up (I wouldn’t call it a “premise”) is that Ethan Hawke plays a guy who works for an organization that uses time travel to prevent various crimes and disasters happening before they happen. This sounds like the premise for a fun, decent action movie, but it’s not that. It starts with him working as a bartender in New York in 1970. While he’s working, someone comes in (played by Sarah Snook), starts talking with him over various things, and eventually starts telling him their life story. It follows that story for about half the movie, showcasing Snook’s history being raised in an orphanage, applying for a space program, and a relationship with a guy, while the movie has some cuts to the two talking in a bar. It gets into the time travel stuff after that and basically a giant, surreal mind-screw (trying to keep this PG; hopefully you get what I mean).

I absolutely adored the story. The second half when it gets really weird with time travel had some incredible stuff happening and its style is one I adored. I know some found it predictable, but I thought they struck a good balance between predictable and shocking; I correctly predicted some things but never all the details. And given the nature of what the movie tries to do, being predictable is kind of unavoidable. It was kind of convoluted and hard to follow if you weren’t completely paying attention, but I thought it was all well done.

While the second half is what stood out the most afterwards (mainly due to the “WTF” twists), as I was watching it, I really liked the first half with Snook giving all the backstory. It was intriguing, and made even better by the great writing between Snook and Hawke at the bar (their interactions with each other were great). Honestly, they could have cut out the time travel stuff and just made the movie those two talking and I’d still love it (though some of the flashbacks probably wouldn’t make sense then).

While I loved the plot and all the odd stuff, the main thing that made this movie to me was the acting. Ethan Hawke did a great job; I’ve got no complaints there. But the real highlight was Sarah Snook. I never heard of her prior to this, but I really hope she gets a lot of work, as she was fantastic. She showed amazing range in her performance, nearly playing two different characters with very different personalities. She still managed to pull it off flawlessly, and really got my invested in every second she was on screen. Just a great performance, and again, I hope she gets a lot of work.

I apologize for my lackluster description, but it’s hard to discuss Predestination without spoiling it. Like I said, I thought it was fantastic, and the fact it successfully pulled off its plot is incredible (it easily could have been botched). I don’t have much more to say; go watch it and avoid reading anything more about it (aside from my score here).

I’m really torn on giving it an 8 or a 9. I was leaning 8, but I did love it, it improves the more I think about it, and it accomplishes everything it tried to pull off, which should all give it a 9. But another part of me is saying it’s lacking that something to make it truly special and deserving of that high. I’ll go with my gut and give it an 8 for now, but don’t be surprised if I talk about it again in the future and regard it more highly.

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10

You know what makes this movie especially cool? It’s directed by the Speirig Brothers. You know what’s one of their upcoming films? Saw: Legacy, aka the next installment of my favorite horror franchise and one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. I know the Speirigs aren’t writing it like they did with Predestination, but after how good it was, I’m happy just to have them involved in any major role.

La La Land

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At the time of writing, I just watched La La Land last night before I went to bed. I had about an hour to think about it before I fell asleep, and so far today I’ve had about several hours to think about it while cleaning. Despite all that time, I’m not entirely sure what to say. La La Land was an emotional ride I still haven’t quite gotten off of yet to formulate my thoughts. It ranged from putting me in a happy, content state of mind to just being very upsetting and having me on the verge of crying (I’m like that now just thinking about some things). My head keeps pointing out nagging issues with the movie that should keep me from regarding it too highly, but my heart loved it so much that I want to scream praise from rooftops and declare it my favorite movie. This is a hard film for me to gather my thoughts on, but I’ll do my best.

La La Land is a musical written and directed by Damien Chazelle (who also was the guy behind Whiplash. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorites). It it’s about an aspiring actress Mia Dolan (played by Emma Stone) and musician Sebastian Wilder (played by Ryan Gosling). It focuses on them meeting, developing a relationship, and trying to pursuit their dreams. It’s a pretty simple idea, but the execution is what really makes it.

There’s two main things that really made the movie to me. The first was Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Both did a great job in their roles, especially Emma. They both had a natural presence that drew you in and felt very natural in the roles, with the exception of Emma Stone at one point saying that there’s people out there prettier than her. The main thing that made them work so well though was the chemistry Gosling & Stone had. They both just worked really well with each other and drew me into everything going on. What also helped was that I found their characters generally likeable and compelling. I felt a genuine connection there Mia, Sebastian, and their goals.

The other main thing about La La Land that worked is really vague to say, but it’s just an amazingly made and put together movie. It looks beautiful visually, with some excellent cinematography and their color choices made everything really stand out and look appealing. And then you just had some scenes like the planetarium that I can’t describe and give it justice.

There’s just something about the whole presentation I adored. I don’t know how to explain it, but the movie had a welcoming, upbeat mood to it that I found myself getting really into. There were a lot of times I found myself just having fun with the movie and forgetting about all problems. Despite this presentation, it’s mixed very well with some serious and dramatic stuff that didn’t feel too out of place or anything (it is more serious than I’m letting on, but I don’t know how to describe it without spoiling the plot). And while I wouldn’t call it a funny movie, the jokes always got a good reaction from me when they were fired out. You can just tell there was a lot of heart and effort poured into this, which is where I think a lot of its charm comes from.

As much as I loved La La Land, I unfortunately have some issues with it. The biggest being that none of the songs were very memorable, which is a big problem for a musical. That’s not to say I didn’t like them; they were mostly pretty fun to listen to as they were happening (especially with how gorgeous everything looked). But they just didn’t stand out in anyway to me. I know that they happened, but the only one I remember anything about was “Someone’s in the crowd”, which was only because it was in the trailer and I watched it on Youtube a few times. Even then I struggle to remember all the lyrics, and it’s not that long or complicated. I wanted to be singing the songs to myself while cleaning today, but they stood out so little that I just went back to singing some Beauty and the Beast songs to myself.

I also had an issue with the first song in the movie at the beginning. The voices were quieter than the background music, which led to me having a hard time hearing it. The rest of the movie was fine, so I don’t know what happened there. The first song also had nothing to do with the plot or any characters featured in the rest of the movie, so I don’t know why it’s here.

Speaking of the beginning of the movie, while it wasn’t bad, it didn’t do a whole lot to draw me in in terms of plot (the atmosphere of it was still great). It picked up within 15-20 minutes, but I wish it had a stronger opening; I’m scared of recommending this to someone and them phasing out of the rest of it due to not being invested at first.

Back to the music of the movie: While the song scenes themselves didn’t stand out to me, there were some great music-themed scenes. I know nothing about Damien Chazelle other than he’s done La La Land and Whiplash, but I can tell from both of these movies that he’s very passionate about music in addition to film. There’s still some scenes of people playing instruments that look fantastic and remind me a lot of Whiplash. Sebastian also had a piece of music he played on the piano that sounded beautiful and I can’t stop thinking about.

My other major complaint is that the movie’s structure is a little off. There’s a few points where it jumps forward in time a few months/years and it felt a little jarring. All we’d get is the screen telling us “Spring” at the beginning of a scene with the next one saying “Summer”; there was no real transition. I don’t mind the jumps in time, but they could have been executed better. Maybe a little song or basic montage of clips to showcase the passing of time until the film resumes normally? Wasn’t a deal-breaking issue, but it was a gripe I had with the movie every time it came up.

This is a very minor & petty complaint, but it still bugged me: La La Land didn’t have enough of J.K. Simmons. He only appeared in one scene early on and had a little cameo towards the end; that’s it. It feels like more of a tease than anything. I know his character had no reason to be in the movie more, but couldn’t they have cast him as someone who did have a larger role? J.K. Simmons makes everything better. Though I did see a cool theory on reddit that Simmons in this movie is the twin brother of J.K. Simmons’s character in Whiplash (Fletcher) and hates jazz because of his brother’s attitude towards it, which makes his lack of time in this movie tolerable. So I’m going with that theory, which also means there’s a whole Damien Chazelle Cinematic Universe now. I look forward to more from that.

I also want to mention the ending. I overall thought it was amazing, with its presentation being one of the greatest executions of of an ending I’ve ever seen on film. I personally found it really sad, but I’m not sure everyone would; I think it depends on how you look at things and felt about the rest of the film. I personally almost cried, but again, not everyone will. I do question the logic behind one part of it that could have had a solution that the film never even mentions, but that’s probably more me clinging to what I wanted than an issue with the film. Again, I do find the ending incredible (seriously, there’s one sequence that’s just amazing), even if it was sadder than I would have wanted.

Overall, I absolutely loved and adored La La Land. It’s yet another movie that grows on me the more I think about it. Aside from tearing up at the content itself, I remember tearing up as the credits were rolling simply because it was over. Yet that was combined with the joy and bliss I was feeling just from how much I enjoyed it. It brought a lot of emotions out of me and was just an amazingly well-made movie. I keep going back and forth on how much I loved it, and eventually decided to let it sit for a few days. After doing that and coming back now, along with a re-watch, my adoration of the movie has more grown than faded at all. Even my earlier comment about the movie’s structure didn’t bother me the second time. As I keep saying, I loved La La Land and would consider it one of my favorite movies.

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10

Black Swan

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Prior to last week, all I knew about Black Swan was that it was about Natalie Portman doing ballet and she had a sex scene with Mila Kunis, neither of which were enough to make me want to see the movie. But it seemed intriguing when I actually learned about it, so I watched it and actually quite liked it.

The movie is about a ballerina named Nina Sayers (played by Natalie Portman). She’s attempting to get the lead part in an upcoming production of Swan Lake, and sort of gets into some conflict with new arrival Lily (played by Mila Kunis) who’s also in consideration. It mainly focuses on Nina being overwhelmed by the pressure of everything, leading to her losing her grip on reality, hallucinating, and enter a nightmare world (as the DVD box puts it). I know the original description of the ballet and such make it sound like a drama, but it’s more of a psychological thriller.

The main focus of Black Swan, Nina’s descent into the nightmares and such, is luckily what the movie does the best job with. I loved the execution of her hallucinations; they all looked good and flowed into the movie perfectly. I also really liked them slowly getting worse over time, eventually blurring the line between reality and hallucinations. I also thought the pacing to getting to these parts was very good. Some may say the movie was too slow, but I thought it worked. It did enough early on to establish the characters and situations without feeling like it only existed for set-up, and they naturally got to the nightmare stuff without it feeling forced.

I also really enjoyed the tone to the movie. It had a darker feeling throughout the entire thing that escalated as the film went on. Created a bit of an uneasy feeling, but it fit perfectly with the story. The scene that got to me the most was one at the end between Nina and her mother in her room.

I thought the acting in the movie was pretty strong. Natalie Portman did a pretty good job as Nina, but the real highlight to me was Mila Kunis as Lily. Part of the film’s plot is that the lead role of Swan Lake involves having to play both the White Swan and the Black Swan, both of which are very different roles, and while Nina fits the White Swan perfectly, she struggles to play the Black Swan. Lily is pretty much the opposite; she fits all the traits of the Black Swan perfectly. So she’s basically set up as a bizarro Nina, that I thought she played very well and created an interesting dynamic for their interactions (I especially thought the club stuff was neat). I also thought Vincent Cassel did well as Thomas Leroy, the director of the whole production. I also like how they executed his character; he wanted perfection from everyone but never came off as the angry, strict teacher you’d expect from this role (not that that character type can’t work; Whiplash was fantastic. I’m just saying it’s nice they didn’t go for the obvious).

When we actually see Swan Lake happen, I thought it looked really good. I really don’t get ballet, so maybe someone knowledgeable could point out inaccuracies with it, but I thought was interesting to see and was shot very well.

Probably my biggest issue with the movie was some of the camera work. It got better as the movie went on, but early on it looked odd. One of the first shots of the movie is Nina’s face as she’s getting out of bed, and the camera’s slightly shaking for no reason. Did they not have anything there to hold it steady? It just seemed either pointless or unprofessional.

Black Swan didn’t leave me in awe like the last few films I watched, but I still thought it was really good. That’s with me still having La La Land on my mind; I may like this more if I re-watch it down the line with a clearer mind. But even under the circumstances, I can still say Black Swan is good. It had good acting, presentation, and execution of its main concept. It’s just a good movie.

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Well, I guess the string of high quality films had to end at some point.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is, as the name implies, a Star Wars story. It takes place before the original movie/Episode IV/A New Hope, and focuses on a group of people wrapped into helping get plans for the Death Star and sharing them with the Rebel Alliance so they can destroy it in Episode IV. There’s kind of a problem with the core premise there that’s really felt when watching the movie: With how heavily the plot is tied to the original, we know what’s going to happen and all tension in the movie is gone. This isn’t to say prequels and side stories in films can’t work; even if they weren’t very good, the original Star Wars prequels had a purpose to exist. They explored an era in time the movies hadn’t touched yet, and Vader’s backstory was just vague and unknown enough that they could go into more depth about it without it feeling 100% predictable. But Rogue One is a direct lead-in to Episode IV; it doesn’t explore anything new in the timeline and its plot is just a long explanation to the set-up of New Hope. This also leads to the movie not feeling like it truly ends. Instead it just gives us a cliffhanger to be resolved in a movie that came out 40 years ago.

All that could have still worked if they gave us some nice characters to follow that we could get invested in, but spoiler alert: They don’t do that. Every single character had no real depth and felt one-note, and some of them didn’t even reach that. The main character Jyn is a prime example of this; she starts not saying a whole lot or being very interested in the whole thing, has an argument with a guy, and then is giving speeches to the Rebels about hope. Where was the transition here? Where was her character arc? I honestly would have preferred it if she was one-note and didn’t change the entire movie; at least then they’re being upfront about things and not giving the illusion of good writing.

As for the other characters, I didn’t even remember their names and had to look them up online. But as for my thoughts on them: K-2SO seems to be the break-out star of the film, and I think I get why. He’s the closest of the team of heroes to having a personality, though I didn’t find most of his humor that funny (I chuckled a couple times early on; that’s it. The jokes felt really manufactured and phony otherwise). Cassian Andor was boring and didn’t add much. Chirrut Imwe’s only traits were being blind, believing in the Force, and being good at fighting when he needed to be. He conceivably could have been interesting with the right backstory, but they gave him none. It’s the exact same case with who appeared to be his friend, Baze Malbus. I would have liked to see some backstory to them to show how they met and flesh them out more, but we don’t get that; Baze’s character is that he’s big and has a gun that shoots really fast. Bodhi Rook is the worst case though. He was an Empire pilot that switched sides and joined the Rebels, but we never get much insight to his history with the Empire, what drove him to switch, his thoughts, or anything like that. Like I said, all of them are one-note and it’s frustrating to see nothing done with them, especially since the actors looked like they were really trying.

Speaking of the actors, I do think all of them did a solid job with what they were given. I like Felicity Jones as Jyn. Diego Luna didn’t have a chance to showcase much of anything, but he had some charisma to him. Same with Donnie Yen as Chirrut, though it was more of a presence than pure charisma. Everyone else did fine, but nothing worth really commenting on.

To be positive, I did like the soundtrack a lot. It was about what you’d expect from Star Wars, but it sounded good to my ears and stood out as decent.

For the most part, I thought it was a good looking movie. Not La La Land good, but it did well with what it set out to do. The costumes were well-designed, and all the environments looked good. There’s one scene that stands out in my mind where they’re on a rocky planet at night in the rain that I do think looked gorgeous. Probably the high point of the movie for me.

I was going to praise the movie’s pacing, as everything moved pretty smoothly and it never felt like it was dragging. Then the final battle happened and I had to take that praise away. It went on far too long and was just really boring. There was far too much of the ships fighting in space, not helped by the lackluster CGI on them, and there weren’t any interesting or fun character moments to give a break. The stuff happening to the main characters was a lot of over-the-top shooting and explosions and a ton of contrived situations to create more conflict.

I heard that this was meant to be a more grounded Star Wars movie and different in tone than the others, but I never got that. Like I said, it felt over-the-top most of the time. Rey and Finn vs. Kylo Ren at the end of Force Awakens and everything between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor in Return of the Jedi fit the descriptions I heard better (and are part of much better movies).

I don’t want to talk about this too long since there’s much bigger problems, but the film is loaded with a few cameos that weren’t needed and would make the people behind Batman V Superman say that they went too far with them. Makes me feel bad for complaining about the old cast members in Force Awakens; at least Han had a role in the story and fit in pretty well.

You know how with past movies, like Predestination and La La Land, my opinion of them went up in time? This is the opposite; it’s more of a Room situation where my opinion goes down the more I think about Rogue One. I found very few things to like about this movie, and none of them could overtake my lack of interest in the plot or the bland characters. While I haven’t seen enough for this to mean a lot, I genuinely think this is my least favorite movie of 2016. It just frustrates me the more I think about it, and is a bit upsetting after how much I liked Force Awakens. Hopefully Last Jedi captures the fun & charm that one had and not catch whatever Rogue One was infected with.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 10

The Edge of Seventeen

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The Edge of Seventeen is a coming-of-age comedy about Nadine Franklin (played by Hailee Steinfeld), an awkward 17-year-old who starts feeling more alone than ever when her friend Krista (played by Hayley Lu Richardson) starts dating her brother Darian (played by Blake Jenner). The plot’s kind of generic, especially when seeing it as a brief description like that. But somehow the whole thing manages to work.

One of my favorite parts about the movie was some the acting, with the highlight being Woody Harrelson as Mr. Bruner, a teacher at Nadine’s school. Harrelson is someone I really need to see more of; he was fantastic in The Hunger Games, very fun in Zombieland, and pretty darn good here. He felt believable, had good comedic timing, and managed to merge the comedy with the sentimental moments pretty well. He also had great chemistry with Steinfeld, who I overall also liked. Like Harrelson, she had fantastic comedic timing. My biggest issue with her is that she’s meant to play a socially awkward character without a lot of friends, but there’s several times where she just doesn’t fit that description. At times she pulls off the awkwardness very well and in a believable way, but other times she just has some natural charisma & likeability to her that makes me confused why she isn’t more popular. Overall I really liked Steinfeld, but there’s a few scenes where she could have come off better. The rest of the cast did well, but weren’t outstanding or anything.

Not all of the jokes hit for me, but there are some pretty funny moments in the movie. Most of them come from the great delivery & chemistry Harrelson and Steinfeld had, but there’s funny stuff outside of their scenes. There’s also plenty of serious scenes, which were well-executed, but create probably my biggest problem with the film: I don’t think it knows what it wants to be. On the one hand it sells itself as a comedy and presents itself like that a lot, but other times it wants to be a fairly serious character-based movie and be emotional. I’m fine with a comedy having serious moments, with Deadpool being a good example. But Deadpool still managed to keep the goofy feeling running throughout with some serious moments spliced in; it never felt like it was caught between two genres, which I felt like The Edge of Seventeen was. I think it would have been better if they cut back on the comedy a bit and evened the tone out some more.

When I was watching The Edge of Seventeen, I thought it was a flawed but very well-made film that I just couldn’t get into and I was wondering how I should grade it. But something happened as I was watching: I got into it. I can’t pinpoint when, but at some point I starting feeling invested in the story and characters and wanted to see everything play out. Part of it was just the great presentation everything had and the good cast, but I think the main thing was how relatable some of the situations and Nadine were to me. Aside from being in the same age range (I’m literally on the edge of 17; when this goes up, I’ll be just over three weeks away from turning 18), I have a lot of issues with social awkwardness and opening up, I really don’t have much in the way of friends (I only really talk with one or two people), I have some mother issues, etc. Even when Nadine’s overreacting or doing something that she really shouldn’t be, she still had that relatablity and felt like a real person. Even some of the conflict with her friend, while a very different backstory for me, really reminded me of what I’ve done this year of starting to ignore a close friend due to being overly-dramatic in response to something. The movie actually inspired me to contact him again, which I think is going well, so think you The Edge of Seventeen.

Like what happens with a lot of movies, I like this the more I think about it. It’s not perfect, but it’s a very well-made and well-presented movie with good acting and managed to get me invested. Really, what more can you ask for? It’s not my favorite of last year, but I still quite liked it.

Overall Rating: 7 out of 10

Conclusion

So that’s it for my reviews. I hope you enjoyed them. It was a pretty great few months for films overall; I got lucky for the most part. I probably have a few controversial opinions here, which I apologize for. Everyone has different opinions, and mine just happen to be better. For proof of that, just look at comic films from last year: My favorite was Academy Award winning film Suicide Squad, and most people’s favorite was Captain America: Civil War which wasn’t even nominated.

As for the best movie I watched in this bunch: I’m torn between Cloud Atlas, Prisoners, and La La Land. I’m leaning towards La La Land, but I should probably be refreshed on Cloud Atlas before saying which I liked more. Arrival and Predestination are also pretty high up.

For worst movie, I want to go with what frustrated me the most, which I think was Rogue One. Room is up there, but there was at least some stuff in Movie One that I liked. I considered Moonlight, but the only thing frustrating there was that it stole La La Land’s Best Picture Oscar; otherwise it was too boring to be frustrated by. Honorable mention to Les Miserables, which was a chore to watch, but I could respect it from a production standpoint. So, again, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the worst movie I saw in these three months. I’ve been very lucky at viewing things.

Again, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed. I’m TheSpoiler, and I’ll see you guys and gals later.

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Marvel Legacy - Initial Thoughts

Before I get started on this, I want to give a little backstory on my views on Marvel Comics at the moment and some backstory on my experiences with them in general so you know where I’m coming from. I got into comics in 2007 (almost ten years ago), but didn’t start regularly buying new issues weekly until 2012 when I read a few things from DC’s New 52. A little after that Marvel announced “Marvel NOW!”, which renumbered their books while keeping their history intact. This sounded great for me since I could read the characters I like in new stuff and have it be presented in a way that felt more accessible to someone who hadn’t been reading their recent adventures. Not everything from NOW was a hit, but there were several books I liked and I enjoyed buying new Marvel stuff. They got better over time and I kept adding more books to my list. I really loved around 2014/15 through now where they’ve given new directions for a lot of characters, focused on new characters, and have just generally been experimenting. I know a lot of people have complained about the past few years, but personally I’ve been a huge fan and look forward to the new books every week and new concepts and ideas they introduce.

On the DC side of things, I haven’t been into them lately. The New 52 books really started boring me and I eventually stopped reading in 2013 after the Batwoman controversy. I went back in 2015 during the “DCYou” thing and starting reading a few series that I enjoyed and was making plans to read some more in the future. But Rebirth came along and sorta killed my interest. I didn’t like that initial one-shot, most books I’ve tried are either boring or not very good, and the few books I did keep trying just lost me over time for varying reasons. That combined with reading storylines for other books that sound bad has scared me away from trying books I think I would enjoy (like Green Lanterns and Batman). And going back to the one-shot, I don’t know how to put it, but it just seemed to have a basic tone & set-up for the whole line I found unappealing.

Sorry that was so long (it’s actually much shorter compared to what I originally had), but I wanted to explain where I’m coming from. In short, I’ve loved Marvel the past few years as they have a lot of quality books and are doing a lot of experimenting with new concepts & directions for characters. Meanwhile, DC has kinda lost me with Rebirth with a lot of nonsense, poor series, and just generally an off-putting feel to the books. Because of this, I really didn’t like the idea people were pitching of a Rebirth-style thing for Marvel. But I also thought it wouldn’t happen, since it seemed to be another situation like the New 52 (sales for DC would spike up, people would want Marvel to copy them, the initial spike would wear down, and Marvel would take the lead again in sales without really doing anything). Now, they’ve basically announced their own Rebirth.

I usually try not to judge things before they happen (in fact I usually bash people that do), and I hate to be negative about things that ultimately don’t matter (especially when I’ve been trying to be a more positive person). But this all just gives me a bad feeling, and I’d like to talk about it since it is an interesting talking point. What I’m going to do is go through the entire article on Marvel’s website announcing Legacy (I know other sources are reporting on this, but this feels the most official and I don’t want to have baseless rumors here), and give initial reactions to everything I can; trying to express some thoughts and concerns I have with the whole thing. If you’re interested in reading yourself, you can view the whole thing here: https://news.marvel.com/comics/63711/marvel-legacy-takes-hold-fall/ So let’s finally start this.

Get ready for an exciting new initiative kicking off this fall across the entire Marvel Universe, Marvel Legacy! Featuring the most popular characters in the world and blockbuster new storylines, the House of Ideas returns long running titles to their original series numbering

The “original series numbering” thing I really don’t like. I do enjoy the more historical aspect to comics and seeing their numbers rising, but I don’t think it’s a requirement and I have no clue why people have pushed for it. It really doesn’t improve the stories at all (I like the current Invincible Iron Man series with Riri, but I think it has major pacing issues. Are those suddenly fixed if the cover said #574 or whatever instead of #6?), and at this point I think would just complicate things further.

I understand people feel Marvel’s overdone relaunches and I do agree with that (The Amazing Spider-Man, Silk, and The Ultimates are just a few books that didn’t need it), but randomly going back to old numbering just complicates things. Aside from it looking odd in storage, which books count towards the renumbering? For Captain America, do the current issues of Captain America: Sam Wilson count, or no since those aren’t about Steve? How about Invincible Iron Man; do we count the current book with Riri, or no since it’s not focusing on Tony? How about other previous Iron Man books like “Iron Man” or “Superior Iron Man”? How about Carol Danvers & Kamala Khan? Does Carol get old numbering for books called “Captain Marvel” while the old “Ms. Marvel” numbers go to Kamala, or does Carol just get numbering for books she headlined? Where would that leave Kamala since her book shares the name of old books Carol headlined? Miles Morales’s current book is called “Spider-Man”, so does that follow the numbering of the old 90s book “Spider-Man” or does it follow the numbering of Miles’s old Ultimate Universe issues? If the latter, does that include the original series with Peter?

I know I’m rambling, but my point is to showcase how convoluted the whole thing is. I don’t even mind convoluted if there’s a point, but there is no point here; it’s just off-putting to people and doesn’t improve the stories at all. I know they want to hype up special issues like Amazing Spider-Man #800 (I’m pretty sure that’s coming up in the next couple years), but you can still do those without renumbering for #762 or whenever (Deadpool did that a few years ago; rather than randomly jumping into #239, they just called the final issue of that series #250, which was immediately after #44).

Personally, I think the best way to go would have been to keep the numbering they’re currently using and relaunch either when there’s a major change in premise or protagonist to the book (like when Amazing Spider-Man ended and they launched Superior Spider-Man), or when there’s a new creative team to a series (like when Brian Michael Bendis took over Iron Man). I went on much longer here than I should have, but I just really have to question their mindset when they’re doing something so convoluted for seemingly no reason.

with a renewed sense of hope, wonder, enjoyment and fun.

They act like that’s been gone in Marvel, when it hasn’t. Far from it. I’ve read plenty of enjoyable and fun books, and I’ve seen people complain that too many of their books are “fun” (because having fun with comics is a problem somehow?) and there aren’t enough serious books (completely ignoring the existence of Old Man Logan, Moon Knight, Daredevil, Vision, etc.). There’s been plenty of wonder too, from books exploring new areas like The Ultimates to stories like Secret Empire that just fill me with wonder and excitement to see where they go (though maybe I’m misinterpreting them and they’re saying they want to give Wonder Man more focus, which I’m fine with). Hope exists too; I primarily get it from Kamala Khan (and to a lesser extent the Champions in general).

I do think they could make the universe a littler better in those aspects, mainly by cutting out the hero vs. hero stuff all the time and showing more unity among them. But they’ve already been laying the groundwork for that, so I don’t know how any of this is “renewed” and it feels like they’re saying it’s not in the current books.

Also, wasn’t DC hyping Rebirth by talking about restoring hope, optimism, love, and stuff like that to the DC Universe? It comes off as Marvel basically stealing DC’s marketing here.

“We want fans to get fired up. Simple as that,” says Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso.

You have done this, but not in a good way. You’ve simply annoyed fans like me who enjoyed the company’s work and have them worried for the future. Meanwhile other so-called “fans” who have done nothing but trash you the past few years (often admitting they’re choosing to ignore books they consider good just to push their “Marvel sucks” viewpoint) are continuing to do that, either by complaining Jason Aaron is working on this or by over-reacting to that FCBD panel.

“Marvel Legacy will decide once and for all if the Marvel Universe is big enough for Miles and Peter,

They co-existed as Spider-Man since the end of Secret Wars; trying to wonder if the universe is big enough for both is stupid (as is complaining about Miles when Peter’s been unaffected by his existence).

Riri and Tony,

If they’re based in different cities, why wouldn’t the place be big enough for both?

Also, where’s Doom in this? Why does Marvel seems to constantly forget that Infamous Iron Man exists?

Thor and Jane Foster,

Again, they’ve co-existed for a while. In the same book even. In fact there were a lot of times I felt like Odinson was the main character in Jane’s solo.

Maybe they’re implying both as Thor, but I’m really not into this. I’ve known for a while that Aaron’s Thor run was going to have Odinson return, likely in Jane’s death. I was all for that since I’ve been a fan of the run and wanted to see the story conclude properly. But if Odinson is coming back as part of this, then the timing feels really forced and like he’s only there cause Marvel forced Aaron to bring him back, which is pretty frustrating. I like writers being allowed to do what they want (within reason).

Laura and, dare I say, Logan? Spoiler alert: It is.”

Laura and Old Man Logan have existed together for a while. I also heard Jimmy Hudson recently appeared, and I think Daken is out there somewhere. So they already proved multiple Wolverines can exist; why not Logan too then?

So from what I’m seeing, they want to focus on the classic characters and the newer & legacy characters together to try and please everybody. Even ignoring their horrible way of wording it, I don’t like this. It reeks of desperation, and feels insulting & patronizing to the legacy heroes. It feels like Marvel looks at the legacy characters as a kid trying to help their parents clean who are told they did a good job, then the parents go back over to get everywhere they missed.

Don’t worry though, we get more insulting the current books/characters later on.

A new era of Marvel Comics kicks off in the fall with MARVEL LEGACY #1, a whopping 50-page one-shot stuffed with twists, surprises, mysteries and revelations, plus a special four-panel fold-out cover by Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada.

Sounds alright, I have no issue with the concept itself. But none of the previous relaunches needed a one-shot to explain it (as far as I know), making this feel like the whole thing is rushed so they need to throw out more books to explain it. Or maybe it’s the opposite; they have no story to tell, but DC kicked off Rebirth with something like this so they have to too.

Also, 50 pages? I’m taking bets from everyone: Is it gonna be $7.99 or $9.99?

Superstar creators Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic reunite their THOR: GOD OF THUNDER pairing to set the stage for the next chapter of the Marvel Universe.

I’m actually pretty alright with this; Aaron’s a good writer.

“This one-shot honors Marvel Comics’ past and it’s a good window into the present day Marvel Universe and then also sets the stage for where we’re gonna go in the future,” comments Aaron. “The main goal was just to be able to give this to someone who’s got no idea what’s going on in the Marvel right now and have that be a good entry point for them and I think it does that.”

If you’re trying to lure new people in with this, then why are you going back to old numbering to confuse them?

As for the plot itself, “We get a peak into the very distant past here so we go back to the prehistoric days of the Marvel Universe,” he adds, offering up a few tantalizing teases. “[We are] seeing versions of Marvel’s biggest legacy characters and different versions we haven’t seen before and [an adventure] of, I guess I could call ‘the Prehistoric Avengers.’ That adventure will have major ramifications for the Marvel Universe going forward.”

I like the idea of something that explores the past of the Marvel universe (I read “Marvels” a couple months back and loved it for that reason), but they’re not making it sound appealing. “Prehistoric Avengers” sounds really bad, and I don’t see how a story like that could impact the future of the Marvel Universe but not stories we’ve already seen. If they want to explore the past, I’d rather they show stuff more established in the MU (maybe an old western setting with the Rawhide Kid or someone like that).

Not enough epic foreshadowing for you? Alonso also promises “a last-page reveal that just might break the Internet” while editor Tom Brevoort assures of “the return of a central piece of the Marvel mythos that readers have been mourning in recent months.”

Most guesses I’ve seen have been the Fantastic Four (I’d like to see them back, but it seems like it’s been a while since any writers have known what to do with them. If they don’t have someone passionate with ideas, I’d rather the FF stay away), Logan (meh. We’ve got enough Wolverines running around), Mar-Vell (dear god no), and Bruce Banner (I’ve expected him to return for a while. Don’t have an opinion about this one really; never really liked or disliked Hulk). Overall, each of them sounds very fan-service like but could lead to good stuff (maybe not Mar-vell; that truly would be desperation).

I’ve also seen some people guess Miracle Man, since he could fill the role Doctor Manhattan has in Rebirth. That could work, but I’d rather nominate Darth Vader. Then you can do a crossover story between Spider-Man and Iron Man called “The Lightsaber”, with the cover featuring both characters holding a lightsaber and looking at it in awe.

Marvel Legacy initiative spreads out across the Marvel Universe, showcasing epic storylines hearkening back to the glory days of Marvel

Stuff like this is where I got kinda angry. Saying you’re “hearkening back to the glory days” tells me that what we’re living in isn’t the glory days, which is horrible from a business standpoint (why should I buy Secret Empire if you’re telling me it’s not as good as older stories?) and just feels really insulting to all the writers that have worked there and (to a lesser extent) people like me who have supported and defended them at every opportunity.

Also, when were the “glory days” of Marvel? Was it the late 2000s during Dark Reign? Was it earlier in the 2000s before they had many earth-shaking events? Was it the 90s when we got gross, cartoonishly muscular guys and women who are basically breasts with just enough other body parts to sustain existence, all of whom wore pouches and got involved in stories people are still trying to comprehend today? Was it the 60s when Reed Richards got jumped by Dr. Doom after getting tricked into meeting Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, talked about having to beat the Russians to the moon, and tricked the Skrulls into believing there were giant monsters on Earth to fight them by showing them panels from Strange Tales and Journey Into Mystery? Was it the 40s when Marvel debuted a flagship character by having him punch a foreign leader on the jaw to speak out against him and his actions about a year before America was even involved in a war against him? (why do people complain about Marvel being political exactly when it’s built into the backstory of their company & characters?). I know the idea here is to make everyone think that the time they remember is what the new books are gonna be like, but when you see through that, it’s just lazy marketing where they’re not telling you anything.

starring Odinson, Squirrel Girl, Spider-Man, the Avengers, America Chavez, Iron Man, Moon Knight, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, Luke Cage, the X-Men, Captain America, Ms. Marvel, Deadpool, the Champions, Wolverine, Ironheart, Hulk, The Punisher, and so many more!

Was there any reason to the order those characters were listed?

I have nothing against Squirrel Girl (well I don’t like her, but I’m glad people seem happy with her current book), but she feels really out of place on this list. Same with Moon Knight, Deadpool, Ironheart, and America Chavez. But I am glad Ironheart and the Champions are listed on here; it gives me some hope that Marvel’s still gonna try with them (at least until people start complaining about them again since Riri’s existence apparently offends a lot of people)

“The biggest challenge was in fitting everything that we had into the story, while still actually having a story!” expounds Brevoort. “When we laid out our plans for this [story] at one of our editorial summits, our community of creators was energetic in offering up key elements of the stories they were planning, so much so that it’s an embarrassment of riches. It’s everything that makes Marvel great, exciting, fun and special in a single high-quality package.

I wasn’t sure what to say to this, but I realized I can’t say anything. It’s just random buzzwords & phrases they can say to make it sound good without having to give real information.

This is the Marvel that you remember, and the Marvel that you long for.”

What Marvel am I longing for exactly? The Marvel that tried new experiments and characters a lot to see what stuck, had a sense of wonder and interest in everything, and focused nicely on the heroes as people and their humanity? AKA the Marvel we have going on right now?

This kinda ties back into what I said earlier, they’re really insulting the current books and writers here, and fans to some extent. And again, they’re not saying what the Marvel that people long for is, just so everyone can form their own idea and believe that’s what the books are gonna be like. They could cancel all superhero books and just put out monster books & westerns and they’d fit the description they’re giving.

*Picture in Spoiler Block. Didn't want to hurt the page loading*

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Ugh, this picture. First off, I hate how only half of it’s completely done. I find it interesting to see artwork in earlier stages, but this looks like an official promotion they’re throwing out there and it’s unfinished. I can tell it was intentional, but why? What’s the half-finished look have to do with Marvel Legacy? Is it symbolic and trying to say they’ve only thought this idea halfway through?

As for the pic, it looks like something out of 2007. Steve is Cap again. I was kinda hoping he’d feel unfit for the role after Secret Empire, but I can live with this if they actually follow on Secret Empire. A little worried with no sign of Sam though.

Looks like Banner as the Hulk. Don’t care, really.

Odinson looks to be Thor w/Mjolnir again, and back in his 2007-era costume (because that’s older, therefore it’s automatically better than anything Marvel makes today I guess). What happens to Jane? Did she die? That goes against stuff said earlier. Did she get a new hammer? We’ve already seen that story twice in the past with both Beta Ray Bill and Thunderstrike. Really wouldn’t feel fitting with the rest of the story to me.

Daredevil’s in the old red suit again. Why? I admit it’s not really a big deal, but then why would they change it? Is it just to remind people of older stories they liked when he wore that? Are the Daredevil comics that bad that they have to do stuff like that to get me to buy it rather than promote the storyline or character? (I do really like the current DD run, but I’m making a point)

I would say the same about Storm, but this is literally the only good costume she’s ever had. Can’t complain then.

It looks like Tony’s back in the armor to the shock of absolutely no one. Again, where’s this leave Doom? If the FF are coming back, is he going to be shoehorned back into a villain role to fight them and be doomed (no pun intended) to relive the Reed rivalry over and over with no growth or change for either of them?

Everything else I either can’t see clearly or don’t have much else to say, so let’s move on to the next picture.

No Caption Provided

First off, don’t like the artwork here. A lot of the faces just look odd.

Secondly, looks like we have Jane Thor and Odinson as Thor. Since Odinson didn’t take the Ultimate hammer, does this mean he gets Mjolnir back and Jane gets a new hammer? Like I said before, that’s been done before and feels predictable and cheap. House of ideas my @$$.

I’ve seen people theorizing the heads could lead to them going back to an older cover style where you had the heads of the book’s protagonists in the top corner with the issue number and price. I like seeing those on old covers, but we’ve moved on from that and restoring it won’t improve the stories, so what’s the point?

But how do we define Marvel’s legacy?

Probably not at all, since you can’t/won’t define Marvel’s “glory days” or the “days of Marvel we long for”.

“Marvel’s ‘legacy’ is its universe of amazing but always relatable characters—each and every one of them loved for their strengths and weaknesses,” relates Alonso. “MARVEL LEGACY will prove that yes, absence does make the heart grow fonder, and we love our iconic characters as much as you do.”

If you love them so much do you have any actual ideas from them, or am I going to sit here thinking, “Congratulations Marvel, you brought Tony Stark back. Now do something interesting with him.”?

“Marvel’s legacy is exciting, dramatic heroic stories featuring human, relatable characters facing situations and struggles that find parallel in the lives of our readers—the world outside your window,” adds Brevoort.

The fans who seem to want to go back to the “glory days” seem to complain whenever you put real-world stuff into your books, completely ignoring the very long history the company has doing that. This really the market you want to appeal to?

“This one shot being called LEGACY is not a coincidence,” contends Aaron. “This book is very much about that legacy so we see how that legacy stretches back to the distant past

Can legacy stretch to the past? I always took the word as meaning what you leave behind to others once you’re gone (sometimes in a literal way like you’re giving someone your house after you die, sometimes in a metaphorical way like your actions build you a legacy people remember you by and are often inspired by). Maybe they’re trying to say that Steve Rogers and Peter Parker are carrying on the legacy of Captain America and Spider-Man because they weren’t the first, but that’d be a stupid retcon.

and we follow those characters who carry on that legacy in the present and we set the stage for those characters and that legacy will go in the continuing stories to come.”

This is what you had been doing in your books, and quite well. One of the reasons I loved Marvel’s direction is because I liked seeing legacy characters continuing the role of the originals. It made them seem more legendary and iconic, having inspired others through their actions. It’s especially great seeing it in the younger characters, showing they inspired a whole generation.

Bringing back these characters doesn’t celebrate or enhance their legacies at all; it cheapens them through so many returns and a chance of bad storylines (not saying the new stories for everyone will be bad; it’s impossible to know before reading them and impossible to guess without having info about the plot and/or creative team. It’s just always a possibility).

Beginning this fall, long-running Marvel Universe titles will revert to their classic legacy numbering, honoring and restoring their long history,

I already gave my thoughts on this; it’s stupid, convoluted, and serves no real purpose. I get the restoring part, but I don’t see how it honors their history.

as new and epic storylines launch under the Marvel Legacy banner. Featuring clean entry points for every series, titles resuming their original numbering will be clearly marked with special trade dress and cover treatments. And that’s just the beginning!

I honestly don’t know what they mean by saying “special trade dress and cover treatments”.

Part of me is concerned that the “clean entry points” may equate to basically ignoring what they can of the recent books, but that’s an exaggeration from me. Marvel’s done a solid job in recent years providing good jumping on points while honoring the past, so they should be able to do that here.

“We’re really setting out to knock you on your ass,” vows Brevoort,

That’s a horrible way for a company to hype their product.

“To get you excited and nervous and eager for all sorts of incredible things we’ve got coming up across the Marvel Universe in the next year and beyond.

Why would you want to get people nervous?

Though since you do want that for some reason, you gotten that with me. You haven’t gotten the other two from me or the majority from what I can tell though.

Whether you’re a fan of the core characters or all of the amazing faces we’ve introduced over the past couple of years, whether you’ve been there every Wednesday or you drifted away from Marvel at some point in the past, Marvel Legacy is your easy-access gateway to the future, a shot glass of the Power Cosmic!”

Okay, I do like that Power Cosmic line.

As for your main point though: You spend the entire time hyping up how you’re returning to the glory days and the Marvel people long for (without telling us when those points are) and seemingly insulting the current books & fanbase, but then at the end you quickly throw in how we’re gonna love this (or whatever you’re trying to say) if we’ve been fans of the current stuff? Feels like damage control more than actually wanting to appeal to us.

Overall thoughts

As I probably gave the impression of, I’m not really a fan of this whole idea. I’ll need to wait until I see the books, creative teams, and plots before making any official judgment, but right now I’m just worried about the whole thing. It mostly appears to be following a things are back to normal strategy and it’s just kinda boring. I do like that it appears they’re still trying to feature the legacy heroes, but I’m not sure how much confidence I have in Marvel handling them well; they already feel like an afterthought in what they’re hyping up, and the semi-insults towards the current line of books just cements some worries. Not to mention the “back to glory days” stuff makes me feel like they’re gonna stop trying to do anything new or different with the classic heroes which, even if the books are well-written, would get boring pretty quickly to me (it’s an issue I’ve had with the current Wonder Woman series).

Maybe I’m biased, but I don’t see this having a big affect on sales. There should be an initial spike like there always is for a relaunch, but within a few months I would expect the majority of the books to fall down again. I don’t claim to be an expert on sales, but they seem to have been slowly declining for a few years now. I know people like to blame the books themselves, either saying the books aren’t quality enough to sell or it’s the newer characters, but I don’t think that’s the case; sales have fallen whether it’s about a newer character or classic ones, and generally unanimously-praised books like Tom King’s Vision or Al Ewing’s Ultimates didn’t sell that well. Personally, I think they should focus on marketing their books more and maybe push more for their digital service since it’s a lot more convenient for someone new and it just more the way the world is moving these days (why don’t they throw ads for Unlimited at the end of the movies or on Yotube as ads or wherever?) Again though, I don’t claim to be an expert on sales so I could be off in my views; I just still don’t see this having much lasting impact though.

Sorry for writing this. As I said before, I hate spreading more negativity, especially about something I haven’t experienced yet and is fairly minor to the world. But it’s something I’m passionate about, and I enjoy writing when I can. I’ll try and have something more positive next time.

So what are your thoughts on Marvel Legacy? Are you excited, or do you have doubt or concern for it? Please comment to tell me your thoughts on that and my writing in general. I’m TheSpoiler, and I’ll see you next time.

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TheSpoiler Fixes: The Mass Effect franchise

Mass Effect: Andromeda was released last week to some fairly mixed reaction. And complaints are from more than just the “SJWs ruined this”/“pandering to the SJW crowd” idiots who have basically turned into a parody of themselves and what they claim to hate; a lot of genuine ME fans seem disappointed with the game. I still haven’t played it myself (I eventually will though, and will be writing a review of it), so maybe I would enjoy it, but reactions I’ve read seem to imply that BioWare somehow discovered every fear I had about the game and decided to put all that stuff in there. I think there’s obviously some questions as to where the Mass Effect franchise is going to go from here (but it will go somewhere; EA won’t allow BioWare to make anything other than sequels to Mass Effect and Dragon Age, and expansion packs to Star Wars: The Old Republic) and what they can do to improve it going forward. That’s what I’m here to talk about: I’m going to break down and describe what I feel BioWare should do with the next game, along with giving them a general strategy going forward. I’m also going to do my best to be realistic here, so I won’t be saying anything like “we need to retcon the Mass Effect 3 ending”. So, let’s get started.

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I think the first order of business is to get us out of Andromeda. The whole “travel to another galaxy” premise always sounded like a jump-the-shark move in my opinion and was something I was never super into. If BioWare’s long-term goal is to move the series to the Andromeda galaxy, that’s fine; they can still do that. But it’s better for them to make sure they’ve mastered their skills before moving back to that story, plus this allows them more time to think out a plot for Mass Effect: Andromeda 2 since Mass Effect 2 & 3 proved they need work on their long-term storytelling. Plus if we’re trying to restore some credibility to the franchise, giving fans a more familiar setting in the Milky Way seems like a good way to make them feel more at home.

As for when the game should be set: I personally would love to have something set a few centuries after Mass Effect 3 to show what the galaxy has evolved into after Shepard’s actions, but I’m aware how unrealistic that is since ME3’s ending and general plot had actions too huge for future games to cover properly. I wouldn’t want to go too far into past either though, as I feel there’s less interesting opportunities and would make things seem less familiar (see my previous paragraph). I definitely would set it during the events of the original trilogy, and before Mass Effect 3 since you would need to have the war from that game as part of this game’s plot, which I think would just be a hindrance. Personally, I think the best option is to set it between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2; there’s a sizable space in time there to tell a decently-lengthed story, and it’s an era in the ME timeline that we haven’t seen that much of. While I wouldn’t make it a focus of the game, it could be interesting to hear some references & see some reactions to what Shepard was doing at this time (being vague to avoid spoilers) and the decision regarding the Council at the end of ME1. I think it’d be pretty easy to have a little menu when you start a new game asking what choices were made, like Shepard’s gender and the status of the Council.

So we have our setting, but what are we doing for actually making the game? I would just look to the previous ME games to determine what worked and what didn’t work, then we can use that information to decide how this game should be made. Mass Effect was praised for its story, world-building, and atmosphere, but criticized for some clunky gameplay. Mass Effect 2 was praised for its characters, structure, and atmosphere, but criticized for removing some RPG elements and the story not contributing much to the overall series. Mass Effect 3 was praised for its gameplay, the amount of squadmate dialogue, and some very good & memorable moments, but criticized for its plot, questionable writing decisions, and a lack of choice. Mass Effect: Andromeda has been praised for its writing, exploration elements, and story, but criticized for its writing, exploration elements, story, and various glitches & technical issues (reaction to Andromeda seems very mixed, as I said earlier). Like I said, I want to look at all of that determine how this game should be made. First off, we’re cutting out all of the exploration elements from ME1 & Andromeda. I know it sounds fun to do that stuff, but BioWare really isn’t very good at designing open world style games and in all their games, stuff like this just kills the pacing of everything. I would try to have the game’s environments designed more like Mass Effect 2 or Dragon Age: Origins; fairly wide-open areas that can be explored for extras, but still small & linear enough that there’s one clear path to go down. For gameplay itself, I would primarily look at Mass Effect 3 for inspiration there. Just have a similar system to that, with a few changes. They should fix the cover system, and I personally would like both the loot system and the leveling up system from the first game brought back.

For the dialogue system, I would mainly just try to use a system similar to the first Mass Effect game used. I think that was a great system, as it managed to nicely balance giving the player control of Shepard’s personality while still making him/her feel like more of a character than a blank slate. So there’s very little auto-dialogue for the game’s protagonist, any major personality traits are determined by the player, etc. I want things left pretty open for the player to choose what the protagonist is like, allowing for some big differences in re-plays and allow for some actual role-playing. I would get rid of the Paragon/Renegade system however, and try to replace it with something more like Dragon Age: Inquisition, where the dialogue options are just things you say without having any specific emotion/morality attached to them.

For the overall structure of the game’s story, I would try to copy the format Mass Effect 2 used: introduce a main goal towards the beginning of the game, and have various missions be the character trying to prepare for that main goal. I think this format works pretty well for a video game, and manages to keep the pace of the story going pretty well.

The biggest question in all of this though: What is that actual main goal of the game? What’s the premise and story? Well, I would try to do something the exact opposite of Shepard’s story to make this game stand out. So no galaxy level threats, no military or spectre related business, and I would try to have the goal of the game be less heroic. So my pitch is that you’re playing as some sort of criminal who just does various shady jobs for cash. The overall goal of the game is to act out a highly difficult heist (maybe trying to break into the Citadel to steal a recently discovered Prothean artifact?), and most of the game is you recruiting people to help in the heist and planning it out. I think this sounds pretty cool; heist stories can be very fun, and we really haven’t seen anything like in an ME game before. Mass Effect 2 kind of tried to go here with you recruiting some darker people (like prisoners and assassins), but I’m trying to pitch going all the way with it.

This may be too similar to Mass Effect 2, but I think the structure & pacing to that game was absolutely perfect and worth re-using (there’s a reason why many consider it the best of the series and every BioWare game gets compared to it). Plus I think our premise is different enough that it can still stand on its own pretty well, especially if the characters are written well enough to be memorable (which they should be). For your squadmates, I think a team of six people is pretty fair. It gives you enough people to have variety in your missions, but is small enough that all the characters can have a lot of dialogue and be fleshed out. Plus it means you should have an opportunity to use everyone in the game and not feel like you’re missing out on a lot of content, like I do with Legion in ME2. I only have one idea for a character, but I think it’s decent: He or she is a Quarian who was sent out on their Pilgrimage, but used this as an opportunity to just escape the Migrant Fleet since they hated how it was run and have rejected them. I think this could be interesting. While I don’t have an idea for the character themselves, I also think it’d be cool to have a squadmate who regularly argues and tries to stand up to you, potentially leading to them turning on you and trying to take control of the operation themselves later in the game. Though depending on how you interact with them, maybe they’ll decide you’re alright and not turn on you; this would nicely take advantage of the choice system.

As for the protagonist, I wouldn’t set in anything other than they’re leading the team into this heist. I would let everything about the personality & backstory be determined by the player, and try to make it fairly open as to what they can be. Maybe they are just the scum of the galaxy and only out for themselves, or maybe they’re more heroic and only involved in criminal activities to help out their struggling family, or maybe their motivation is somewhere between those two or something else entirely (maybe someone who follows the “Steal from the rich, give to the poor” philosophy?). For a name, I’m thinking a set last name of “Reynolds” as a reference to Firefly since the pitch for this game is kind of like the premise to that show.

I know some may want multiple races to choose from, but I feel like it’d be too much work to correctly do that in the game and I’d rather have resources put towards making sure the writings up to par and there’s no glitches.

I would try and set the final mission to a lot like the suicide mission from Mass Effect 2. There’s a lot of smaller tasks to contribute towards the mission (or heist in this case), and you have to choose which squadmates do those jobs. Their relationship with you and general skills for the job determine if they’re successful or fail. It’s not just combat stuff though like in ME2; there’s also some undercover stuff that involves just trying to talk to & blend in with people around the Citadel to infiltrate the place. Either the player can do this (and succeed or fail based on passing speech checks), or send a squadmate in (and succeed or fail based on relationship with player and just how they’re suited for the job). Unlike the suicide mission though, I don’t want failure to just mean characters die (though that is still possible); I want more options. For example, I’m thinking one potential ending involves you being captured and thrown in jail. Of course it is possible to succeed and steal what you needed with everyone making it out okay. I think this is also where your squadmate could potentially turn on you and try to take over the operation themselves, giving a potential extra boss battle at the end (similar to the possibility of having two boss fights at the end of ME1, depending on if you passed the speech check).

That’s how I would make the next Mass Effect game. Would it fix the franchise, like my goal here was? Maybe not on its own, but I do think it’d be a good game to help restore some fans’ faith in the series. And while my heist/criminal plot couldn’t be re-used, I think the logic I used to come up with that could also be used to create some more ME games down the line with different premises.

That's it for now. I enjoyed writing this a lot, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Thank you to everyone who's read this far, and to this video for inspiring this post. This may be the start of a trend of me writing more Mass Effect related stuff in the future (since I've wanted to write more lately, and ME has been on my mind), so be on the look out for that.

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TheSpoiler Reviews: Every Movie I Watched in January & February of 2017

The few people who read it seemed to like when I did this for all of 2016, a lot of this had already been written, and I could use something to make me feel less worthless, so I decided to post a new version of this. Maybe I'll try to make it a monthly or bi-monthly thing (depending on how much I watch; I barely have the motivation to watch movies anymore).

This is just what the title says; I'm giving little reviews for movies I watched over January & February of this year. This does not count movies I had already seen before and re-watched (like Fault In Our Stars, Saw, or the Academy Award winning film Suicide Squad). I don't have much else to add, so let's start.

Creed

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Before I get into this, I want to say that I never watched the original Rocky movies. I saw a bit of Rocky III when it was on TV, but I was only half paying attention to it. I’m also not much of a boxing fan in general. I can enjoy the sport in short doses, but I really don’t regularly watch or follow it. So I’m judging this movie as an outsider, which may make some think my opinion doesn’t matter, but I instead like to think it makes me un-biased.

Creed is a sequel and spin-off of the Rocky film series. It focuses on Adonis Johnson Creed (played by Michael B. Jordan), son of the former boxer Apollo Creed (from the original Rocky movies), who wants to become a boxer. He meets Apollo’s former rival & friend Rocky Balboa (played again by Sylvester Stallone), who starts training him. I want to say that I thought the idea for the film was brilliant. It allows them to make a new Rocky movie without having to reboot or having a very old Sylvester Stallone get in the ring (no offense to the man, but no one wants to see that).

The main thing I liked about the movie was Michael B. Jordan’s performance. When I saw him in Fant4stic, I thought he could be good with the right script. I was proven right here, cause he did a great job. He brought a lot of life and energy into the role, felt very believable, and had great chemistry with Stallone. I also really like the character of Adonis Creed himself, as (like Jordan) he felt believable. I enjoyed his determination to continue with the boxing career, and that he wanted to make a name for himself rather than just get by on the “Creed” name.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Sylvester Stallone in this. In his older age, he’s speaking a lot softer, leading to his accent not being as strong and him sounding better. He’s still not the world’s greatest actor or anything, but he does a solid job here, especially since all the focus isn’t on him. And like I said above, he and Jordan have fantastic chemistry together. Their scenes & interaction in the movie were great, touching, their training was intriguing to see, and I just enjoyed seeing them become closer as the film went on.

Unfortunately, outside of Creed and Rocky, there weren’t really any memorable characters. There’s a woman named Bianca (played by Tessa Thompson. Always nice to see a former Veronica Mars cast member) who acts as Creed’s love interest. The actress does a solid job, and she does have some good interactions with Creed, but she wasn’t anything special and the set-up for them meeting and getting together felt a little forced. Creed’s mother is in the film a few times, but doesn’t have much interaction with any of the characters; it’s mostly just her reacting to watching Creed’s fights on TV. The main champion of the movie Ricky Conlan (played by Tony Bellew, who I believe is a real-life boxer) did an alright job; felt believable and did make you dislike him (in a good way), though I do question the nickname of “Pretty”. There were some other minor characters in the movie, but no one really worth noting.

The story to the movie was pretty good overall. Like I said earlier, it focuses on Creed trying to be a boxer and being trained by Rocky. I thought it was nice to see him fighting in low-level places to start off, training, and getting to the bigger stage. I liked that Rocky didn’t immediately start training him; there was some progression of him questioning if he wants to until eventually agreeing. That said, there’s a couple issues I have with the plot. The thing I just mentioned before about getting to the bigger stage? I thought that happened too quickly. He’s in a little over a dozen fights in Mexico, gets one local match in Philadelphia, then is fighting for the World Lightweight Championship. I get that there was a storyline reason for it, but I still thought it was rushed and they could have had him at least have a couple more local matches before rising up.

On a similar topic, an issue I had was during the third act of the movie. I won’t go into too much detail, but some things come up that create conflict with Creed between Rocky and Bianca. I thought this stuff (especially with Bianca) felt kinda forced, and didn’t have much build-up; it’s like they just realized later in production that they need something to make the movie more interesting before the climax. That said, I did love some of the scenes between Creed and Rocky that came out of this; it just could have felt less forced.

The final thing I want to mention is the boxing scenes. You’d expect them to be in a movie about a boxer, and I thought they were extremely well-done. They had great cinematography, moved around enough to make the fight feel hectic without doing that shaky-cam thing, had some great slow-motion, and I felt very invested in watching them. The final one is especially great.

Despite the criticism I did direct towards it, I really liked Creed. The story was still intriguing despite some issues, Jordan and Stallone were great, and the boxing scenes were amazing. I also thought it did a good job mentioning the previous Rocky movies to bring newcomers like myself up to speed without the references feeling too forced or unnatural. It was just an overall well-made movie that I’d recommend.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Joy

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(I couldn't find a single poster for this that wasn't just Jennifer Lawrence's face. I think their entire marketing was just hyping up she was in it)

Joy is a movie. It features acting, and dialogue, and filming. I know that’s a vague description, but it’s really all that stands out as memorable to me. Joy was just a bland movie.

To give a real description of the movie, it’s about a woman named Joy Mangano (played by Jennifer Lawrence) who invents the self-wringing mop, tries to get it sold, and... that’s about it. It just follows her journey. To be fair, I did like a lot of the basic ideas of the story. I thought it was cool seeing Joy make the mop and never giving up on trying to succeed with it despite all the set-backs, and it was nice to show how tough business can be.

That said, it’s hard to give the movie credit when it’s apparently based on a true story, especially with how bad the pacing is. It’s hard to explain, but there’s several times where the movie feels like it drags on longer than it really needs to. Yet other times there’s significant plot points that feel glossed over. I just found it really weird and off-putting. It didn’t help that there’s some plot points in the movie that randomly come up, but then don’t go anywhere. The main one I recall (spoiler alert) is when Joy tries to get her mop sold on TV, and the guy trying to showcase it messes up and causes it to not get sold to anyone. I thought it was possible that the guy intentionally messed up just to screw Joy since he was annoyed with her earlier in the movie, but that’s never implied or stated or debunked or anything. The guy never shows up again, and only comes up in conversation once when Joy says “That man didn’t know what he was doing”. Why didn’t he know what he was doing? Did no one show him how the mop works, and if so, why wouldn’t someone do that? This feels like it should have went somewhere, but it never did. I’m going to assume this happened in real life and that’s why it’s in the movie, and I could forgive this if it was a documentary. But it’s an actual movie, so things need to flow with the rest of the scenes and not be pointless. To be fair, The Walk (which I loved and is based on a true story) had a moment like this, but that was 30 seconds at most and didn’t impact anything; this guy screwing up when showcasing the mop is a significant plot point.

As for the cast, Jennifer Lawrence is boring. I liked her in The Hunger Games and Winter’s Bone, but everywhere else I’ve seen her, she’s bland and phones in her performance. Why do they keep rewarding this by giving her work? The only other cast member I recall was Robert Di Nero who plays Rudy, Joy’s father. I thought he did a pretty good job. I don’t remember the names of any other cast members or characters in the movie. They were all one-note and very bland.

Very minor issue, but I noticed a few scenes where the camera work was really bad. Rather than just sitting still, you could notice the camera shaking slightly. I don’t mean the “shaky cam” thing you see a lot of action movies use; I mean it looked like someone trying to record something with a cell phone and it moving slightly since I don’t think anyone can stay 100% still. Did they not have the set-up to set the camera on something to stay still, and if so, why? It had a budget of $60 million, didn’t have any CGI or huge sets or action or anything. It was just people talking for the most part. Where’d all the money go then if the film can’t even look good?

I keep saying “bland”, and that describes the movie. There’s just nothing to it. The story was okay but paced horribly, and that’s it. There was very little I truly disliked, but nothing stood out about the acting, dialogue, characters, or anything. It was just a bland, forgettable movie that I’ve given more time than it deserves.

Overall Rating: 5/10

Whiplash

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Whiplash is a really hard film to talk about and I’m going to make it sound awful, so apologies for that. But Whiplash is about a music student named Andrew Neiman (played by Miles Teller) who plays the drums and is trained by an abusive teacher, Terence Fletcher (played by JK Simmons). That’s about it; it focuses on Fletcher teaching Neiman and him trying to do well.

The best part about the movie was JK Simmons. I always knew he was great, but this movie pushed my opinion of him even higher. He did a fantastic job, and he’s possibly the best in the world when it comes to screaming & cursing at someone.

I also really enjoyed the story the movie was telling though, even if I described it horribly. My favorite part about it was seeing the pure desperation and drive that Neiman had to being successful and impressing Fletcher. I thought that was really well-done and progressed nicely throughout the movie. Fletcher’s reaction to everything was also great.

Being a movie about a kid playing the drums, you’d expect some music-based scenes. We got a lot of those, and they were all pretty fantastic. The music sounded good, the scenes were well-shot, and they just had a certain mood to them that was nice. They reminded me a lot of the music scenes in “If I Stay”, aka the best parts of that movie. Only instead of Chloe Moretz being adorable and a mediocre romance, we got JK Simmons yelling at people. I guess that’s a fair trade.

The overall presentation and film-making aspects to the movie were pretty great. It had great cinematography. I don’t recall a lot of background music, which really helped set the tone of everything. There’s not much specific to say here; the presentation was just really enthralling.

The biggest issue I have with the movie is Miles Teller. This is the best performance I’ve seen from him, but like everything else I’ve see him in (“Divergent” and “Fant4stic”), he just comes off as really bland. It didn’t help that some of his lines weren’t delivered very well (“I’m upset!”). He didn’t drag the film down that much, and still gave a passable performance, but they could have found someone better.

The only other major issue I have with the film is that I sort of lost interest towards the end. It was nothing the film did; it was still very good. But after a certain point in the plot, I just found it a little more of a drag to sit through and I wasn’t as interested in what happened. This probably has something to do with it being midnight when I watched it and me being tired, so I won’t hold this against the film; I just thought it was worth mentioning.

My only other complaints with the movie are pretty minor. First off, they had Melissa Benoist in it (playing Nicole), who I’m a fan of and is awesome on “Supergirl”. But they barely do anything with her; she was wasted in the movie. She was only in a few scenes and served no purpose other than showing how focused Andrew was on his drumming. Why hire someone so great if you do nothing with her?

I also don’t understand how your hands start bleeding from playing the drums, no matter how much or how long you’re doing it. But I haven’t played the drums, so they may just be me being clueless and/or ignorant.

Despite my complains, Whiplash was quite good. It may be too slow for some people, but that didn’t personally bother me too much. I’d recommend it, and I know I need to re-watch it one day.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Shame

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Well this one’s an awkward film to talk about.

Shame is about Brandon Sullivan (played by Michael Fassbender), a sex/porn addict. (I told you it’s awkward). His sister, Sissy (played by Carey Mulligan), comes to stay with/visit him and throws his whole life off. That’s honestly it for a plot; more stuff happens, and it all relates to each other, but I never got any real sense of focus or that the film was building up to something. It was just things happening for the most part. I did think that everything happened was very well-done, but I didn’t get any scope of what they were aiming for.

The only thing about the movie I fully get is trying to show sex as an addiction rather than loving or sexy like other movies, which it did a good job with. It was uncomfortable to watch, and there was plenty of it to watch. I want to say they went overboard with the sex & nudity (it felt like porn half the time), but I don’t think I can given what they were going for.

Michael Fassbender gave a fantastic performance, as expected from him. I also liked Carey Mulligan as Sissy. Their interactions were pretty well-written and I did feel some attachment to them.

One scene that really made no sense to me was when Fassbender was throwing out all his porn. I could say throwing away his whole laptop was an overreaction, but I can’t because that’s immediately followed by him throwing out stuff in his refrigerator. What does that have to do with anything? Do I want to know what he was doing with that pasta?

This is a difficult movie for me to talk about. I’m not sure I could recommend this to anybody of if I’d ever watch it again, but it was still very well-made. I just don’t know what to say, and apologize to any fans of the film for describing it so badly.

Overall Rating: 8/10 (I guess)

12 Years A Slave

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12 Years A Slave is based on the memoir “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup. The movie takes place in the mid-1800s and is about Solomon (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a black man from New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery for the next 12 years (thus the title). It also starred Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch, which made it appeal to me more (though the premise already did intrigue me).

I don’t want to bash the movie, cause I don’t want to look like I don’t care about the topic of slavery. I feel very bad for them. But the movie was really hard to stay interested in for me. It felt really dragged out and much longer than it needed to. For possibly the first time ever in a movie, there were even single shots I felt dragged on for way too long and needed to be cut down. Like I said, it was just hard for me to stay interested or care, and it led to the movie ultimately not being very memorable.

That said, there were some memorable aspects to the movie. The acting was very good, especially from Ejiofor. There were several really good scenes, and it was emotional in several spots. But they were just so far separated that I kept losing interest in everything that happened in between the stand-outs.

A stand-out I do remember though is the ending, which annoyed me. The movie wraps up the main plot, but still has more information it wants to give. I don’t have an issue with that, but they didn’t actually continue the movie or even do an epilogue slide show; they just had basic white text over a black background telling us briefly what happened afterwards to Solomon. You’re telling me the movie needs to drag out scenes for no purpose and bring down the movie quality, but can’t even find the time to actually make scenes to finish the movie?!?

Like I said, I don’t want to bash this. There was stuff I liked, and it was really well-made. But overall, I thought it dragged on and didn’t have enough memorable. It’s why I’ve barely had anything to say.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Adventureland

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Adventureland is about a college graduate James Brennan (played by Jesse Eisenberg) who’s forced to take a job at an amusement park called “Adventureland” during the summer. While there, he meets a girl named Emily Lewin (played by Kristen Stewart) and the two develop a relationship. (There’s a lot more plot in there, but that’s the basic premise).

The core plot isn’t anything amazing, but it’s a simple and well-told story that provides some good moments and character interactions. I was really impressed with the build-up and backstory they give James. You’d expect him to just be some guy thrown there to make money, and he technically is. But they give a bit of backstory for it with him originally planning to go to Europe, his parents making a lot less money after his father gets demoted, etc. It was detail that I was impressed they showed.

I liked this movie for a few reasons. First off, I thought the main cast did a good job. Jesse Eisenberg is very good in the right role (AKA not a horribly-written Lex Luthor), and this was a fitting role for him. Kristen Stewart wasn’t amazing, but did a decent enough job. Certainly a step up from her awfulness in The Twilight Saga. Ryan Reynolds does well with the screentime he gets to appear. The rest of the cast did a good job, though nothing outstanding.

The main thing I liked about the movie though was the interaction that all the characters had. Whenever a scene would come up that involves them just hanging out and talking, I thought it felt very natural. I will say it was a little annoying to me every now and then, but that was mostly due to drug references. They still act like I would expect typical teenagers/young adults to in this situation. The only character who truly got on my nerves was someone who everyone else in the movie hated and was supposed to be annoying. It’s a bit harder for me to judge the romance aspect, but I thought it was handled pretty well. Didn’t come off as too forced or anything; it gradually built up and their interactions were well-done.

My biggest issues with the movie is that it feels a bit rushed at the beginning and at the end. I was complimenting the characters’ interactions above, but they get to that point pretty much immediately. James is being shown how everything works in Adventureland and learning what his job involves, then a couple scenes later he and the other co-workers are hanging out as friends. Just felt kind of jarring. While not as noticeable, I also thought some details towards the climax and ending felt kind of rushed, like they realized the film had to be wrapped up soon and they hadn’t yet gotten to the ending they wanted. Harder for me to describe that one, especially since I don’t want to spoil anything, but I hope I made my point.

Adventureland is a comedy, so naturally there were some humor attempts. Overall I didn’t find the movie that funny, but there were some moments that made me laugh. Most of them involved how the park is run, my favorite being when the owners were working on the toy bananas (again, don’t want to spoil anything).

Overall, I thought Adventureland was decent. It wasn’t spectacular, but I enjoyed it. I’m not sure I’d strongly recommend it to someone or if I’d go out of my way to watch it again, but if someone else offered to put it on, I’d re-watch Adventureland.

Overall Rating: 6 or 7/10

In Your Eyes

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In Your Eyes is about two people, Dylan Kershaw (played by Michael Stahl David) and Rebecca Porter (played by Zoe Kazan), who live on opposite sides of the country (New Mexico and New Hampshire, respectively). The two end up learning that they have a mental connection with each other that allows them to communicate with each other and feel what the other is feeling. This leads to them experimenting with this, talking more, and they slowly build up a relationship with each other. Even though I really liked this movie, it’s kind of hard to talk about. I’ll do my best though.

I want to start off by saying that I really liked Michael Stahl David’s performance. I thought he did a very good job. I wasn’t big on Zoe Kazan at first, but she grew on me over time and I think did well. The two did a good job and worked well together. The rest of the cast did solid, but nothing overly memorable.

I really liked all the interaction that Dylan and Rebecca had. I thought it was interesting to see them getting to know each other more and their relationship with each other gradually progress into more. You could say that they accepted that they had this “mental bond” a bit too easily, but they established they had been experiencing stuff like this since childhood, so I thought it worked well. Like I said, I liked the conversations they had, their feelings slowly progressing at a good pace, and little things they did to try and help the other. I just thought everything about the two of them was well-done. Apologies for not having more to say about the movie’s main attraction, but it’s hard to describe character interaction without going into spoilers.

The movie did some creative things with the premise. Dylan and Rebecca can also see what the other person is seeing, and it leads to the film doing some cool shots where you’re seeing things from their point of view. For example, the camera changed to first person, you can see the desert where Dylan is standing, but there’s some shots of Rebecca’s view of the snow flashing in there (with a tiny bit of blurriness around the edges). There was also a more intimate scene that I guess would be called the sex scene even though sex technically wasn’t happening. I won’t go into details, but the way they handled this was pretty creative to me and I liked it, even if the scene did go on a little too long.

The biggest issue I have with the movie is that the climax was just off and did a lot wrong. It felt a tad rushed, some of the stuff that was done felt forced (did we need a car chase?), and a few things felt way too convenient and only done for the sake of continuing the movie. It did feel tense, which I think they were going for, but it also felt off with the rest of the movie.

While it’s not as big of an issue, there was one other annoyance I had with the movie: Dylan and Rebecca had to speak out loud to communicate with each other. This leads to several people thinking they’re crazy and talking to themselves, which is understandable. But there’s only one time in the movie where either of them try to hide it, that being their first night talking when Rebecca’s husband walks in she grabs the phone to pretend she was talking into that. It never occurs to either of them to pretend to use a cell phone or put on one of those cell phone headset things to make it look like they’re using a phone. I know the script was originally written in the early 90s when this wouldn’t have been an issue, but you’d think they would have been able to re-write it to either address this issue or set it in the past when you wouldn’t have had this solution. Again, it’s not a big issue, but it bugged me as I was watching.

Overall, I really liked In Your Eyes. Not a movie for everyone, but if you think you would like this, I would recommend it.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Conclusion

Thanks to everyone who read this to the end. Didn't help my mood much, but hopefully others like it.

My favorite movies from this bunch were Creed, Whiplash, and In Your Eyes. Not sure which is my favorite out of those; I want to say In Your Eyes, but that may just because I've watched it more recently so it's in my mind.

Once again, thanks to everyone who read and I hope you liked it.

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TheSpoiler Reviews: Every Movie I Watched in 2016

I intended to have this up a week ago, but I’m a slow and easily-distracted writer.

2016 is over. It was an odd year that’s probably better to not dwell on, but I’m gonna do it anyway by going over every movie I watched last year and giving little mini-reviews of them. I wanted to do this last year for 2015, but got half-way through before I gave up. But my New Years Resolution this year is to work on my writing more, so I’m doing this this year.

The rules for movies that qualify here are that 1) They must have been something I watched for the first time in 2016. I re-watched all the X-Men movies before Apocalypse came out, but since I saw those years ago, I’m not counting them here. And 2) I must have watched the entirety of the film. I tried watching Carrie (2002), Jupiter Ascending, and Mad Max: Fury Road, but disliked all of them enough that I turned them off and never finished.

I also want to say that I did watch ”Justice League: War” during April and “Winter’s Bone” during July. However, I remember so little about them that I don’t feel comfortable talking about it. I remember hating JL and liking Winter’s Bone, but that’s it. That’s all that I have to say about that; just wanted to make not. With all that done, let’s finally get started.

The Walk

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The Walk takes place in the 1970s and focuses on the story of Philippe Petit (played by Joseph-Gordon Levitt), a French high-wire artist who decides he wants to hang his wire across the newly-constructed World Trade Center in New York City and walk across. The movie mainly tells the story of him organizing and doing that, along with his earlier years of training in walking the wire and his early performances.

I thought the story was really good and intriguing. I don’t know how historically accurate it is, but I enjoyed it. I loved seeing Philippe’s journey from his early interest in high-wires to finally getting to the Twin Towers, and it felt rewarding to watch after all he went through. Some people may find the first half of it a little show, but I didn’t have that problem. Even if you do, I think the final act would make up for it as that’s fantastic. I’m not sure how to explain, but it kind of has an espionage feeling to it, with Philippe and his crew sneaking around the towers, doing their various jobs, etc. They also did a great job throwing obstacles their way to delay them without it feeling like they were just stretching out the film. When Philippe finally does walk across the towers, it feels rewarding (like I said earlier) and looks beautiful with how it’s filmed. I really wish I would have been able to see that scene in theaters.

I also want to give a mention to the performances. Everyone was solid, but Joseph-Gordon Levitt was the final piece to making this movie great and this proved to me how good he actually is.

Probably the biggest criticism I could give the movie is the romance. It wasn’t bad at all, but I didn’t feel like there was much to it, and there were several scenes where I forgot it was going on. But this is such a minor issue that I won’t complain.

Overall, I loved The Walk. One of my favorites I watched last year, my favorite from 2015, and I don’t know why it didn’t get more attention.

Overall Rating: 9/10

The Martian

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Here’s a movie that did get attention in 2015. The Martian focuses on astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) who accidentally gets left behind on Mars during a mission there. He then does what he can to survive while everyone on Earth tries to get him home, and that’s it really. That’s probably my biggest complaint with the movie; the plot doesn’t have much to it beyond the core premise. That said, I do love the core premise, and the film’s execution of it is all very good. The main thing that makes the movie is Mark himself and Damon’s performance as him. The whole movie would have failed if we didn’t like him, cause we wouldn’t care about him being rescued, but I really liked the character. He was charming, charismatic, and was positive/hopeful/fun enough that he kept the situation from being depressing. The rest of the cast was good, but Damon was the stand-out.

Aside from the characters, the movie looked gorgeous visually. I also enjoyed all the science they worked into the movie (I always liked astronomy).

There’s not a whole lot to say about this. It’s just a really good movie.

Overall Rating: 8/10

The Rage: Carrie 2

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I know a lot of horror movies can be turned into an entire series (I’ll be talking about one later on in this). But a sequel to Carrie? Really? The story really doesn’t leave itself open. Plus, if you make a Carrie 2, where does it stop? They probably Fury: Carrie 3, Vexation: Carrie 4, and Displeasure: Carrie 5 all in the works before this failed.

But for The Rage, it focuses on high school student Rachel Lang who learns she has telekenetic abilities, but is pushed too far and ends up snapping at the end and killing a lot of people. I would call that a spoiler, but what do you expect from a movie called “Carrie 2“? While there are some things they changed (despite similarities, Rachel is a different character from Carrie and their circumstances are at least somewhat different), most of the movie is just copying the original. When I watched this for the first time, it felt closer to the original movie than the official remake in 2013 did. An example is when Rachel does snap at the end, they have her make the same face Sissy Spacek made in the original while we hear Margaret’s “They’re all gonna laugh at you” line. There are some differences, such as Sue Snell. She’s back in this but, unlike the original, has nothing to do with anything. You could remove her from the plot entirely and all you’d miss are some references to the original. They give Rachel an overly-religious mother, but they barely knew each other since Rachel was taken away at a young age, so I don’t see any point to that.

For some other random thoughts, the tone was wrong for a Carrie movie and felt more like a cheesy high school drama than a horror or tragedy. I never felt sympathy for Rachel the way I did for Carrie; everything they did with her felt too forced and over the top. When she snapped at the end, the only reaction I had was laughing a couple times at stupid stuff happening while she kills everyone.

To be honest, I didn’t hate the movie when I watched it. I don’t know why though; looking back, the only thing I liked was Emily Bergl’s performance as Rachel. I might recommend this to any hardcore Carrie fans if they’re curious, if they remember to not go in expecting anything good. If this had been successful, I'd probably be giving this same advice this year for those going to see Annoyance: Carrie 6.

Overall Rating: 4/10 (I guess)

Also, the mental hospital in this movie is called “Arkham”. I’m officially considering this film canon to the DC Universe.

Mr. Nobody

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To quote myself from earlier in the year, Mr. Nobody “was... interesting. It was very well-made. But I don't think I fully got it, if that makes sense. I feel like my opinion of it will go up the more I think about it (and possibly after re-watching it one day), so that's a good sign.” I did re-watch it a few months later, and really loved it.

It’s a little hard to explain, but Mr. Nobody is about a 118 year-old man named Nemo Nobody (played by Jared Leto), who’s the last mortal man on earth. As he’s close to death, he recaps the story of his life and the choices he made, going into detail about possible paths he could have taken. It primarily focuses on choices he made and alternate paths he took at ages nine, fifteen, and thirty-four and showcases various romantic relationships.

The movie is very weird, which makes it hard to talk about. But I will say that the premise and nonlinear narrative could have been a mess, but they pulled it off extremely well. I found all the paths to be very interesting, and I enjoyed all his relationships. Jared Leto did a good job. The movie had a great soundtrack, including the song “Mr. Sandman” (I think that being in your movie guarantees quality). I will say that the ending was kinda weird and lost me a bit, but it was a small issue I can overlook because of how great the rest of this was.

Again, hard movie to talk about. But I loved it very much. It’s become one of my favorite movies and I’d strongly recommend it.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Batman: Bad Blood

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I was excited for this movie before it came out, as I love Batwoman and was happy to see her. After the film, I want to ask why Batwoman was in it. I didn’t have any issues with how they handled her character, but she didn’t add much of anything to the plot. The scenes focusing on her also came off as forced, like they wanted to cram in as much information about her as they could. I understand wanting to explain her to anyone who may not be familiar, but like I said, it came off as forced. The way of getting around this would have been to just make a Batwoman movie, but DC Animation has a refusal to move past Batman in any way.

As for the movie itself, it’s not very good. I barely even remember the plot, but it had something to do with Batman disappearing with Nightwing, Damian, and Kate all looking for him. I think he was kidnaped by Talia al Ghul, but I don’t remember why. I think this goes into a huge issue with the movie: It does almost nothing memorable. The story isn’t that good. There’s nothing about the characters that stood out. The only thing I remember about the fight scenes was villains constantly being killed off for no reason, and none of the characters show any reaction. I know none of them were intentionally murdered (which does put this portrayal of Bruce above Ben Affleck’s), but it still seems off for none of the heroes to care except for brief shock from Alfred once.

Also, Batwing is in the movie. He does nothing and is very boring.

Overall, not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but far from good.

Overall Rating: 4/10

Serenity

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I watched Firefly back in January (and maybe early February). It was a little hard to get into, but after a couple episodes I was in love with the show. The characters and cast were great, the world was intriguing, I loved the atmosphere and tone of it, and it was just overall well-made. I would have loved to see more, but the one season we have was great and certainly worth watching. The movie follow-up... not so much.

The biggest problem I have with Serenity is that it doesn’t feel like Firefly. It has the same characters, and the ships look similar. But the overall tone felt like some random sci-fi movie trying too hard to be dark; it was nothing like the space western that the show was. Ignoring that, the cast seemed to loose all charm they had in the show. I’m not going to say their performances were bad, but they just felt off and more lifeless than on the show.

The plot also seemed very different from anything the show ever did or would have done. I don’t know how to put it, but aside from not being interesting, it seemed way too big in scale for it to be anything Mal’s crew would have actually done.

Even if I wasn’t a fan of the show and just watching it as a random sci-fi movie, I still wouldn’t be into it. The characters aren’t given enough to do for someone who hasn’t watched the show to care about them. Like I said, the plot really wasn’t interesting.

And this may just be an issue with me as a fan of the show, but I’m annoyed at them killing off a few characters for absolutely no reason (specifically one in the ship just before the film’s final battle. If you’ve seen Serenity, you know who I’m talking about). I didn’t even feel sad by it; I was just annoyed they wasted our time like that.

I know a lot of Firefly fans do like this movie. I’m glad you did. I just wasn’t able to.

Overall Rating: 4/10

Deadpool

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I shouldn’t even have to explain this one, but Deadpool is based on the Marvel Comics character Deadpool. It focuses on Wade Wilson going through experiments to cure his cancer, only to get super powers & a disfigured face in the process, so he becomes the anti-hero Deadpool to go after the man who did this to him. There’s also a surprisingly solid romance in there.

I was really looking forward to Deadpool before it came out, and I was pretty satisfied with it. It was funny, captured the character well, was well-acted, had some great action scenes, and had a surprisingly solid romance like I said earlier. I really enjoyed Wade & Vanessa’s scenes together and thought they had good chemistry. I also thought the villain (Ajax) was a lot of fun. He wasn’t some deep character, but he played his role well, was well-acted, and supplied some great comedy moments with Deadpool (especially when Wade found out his real name). Plus we got a pretty good adaption of Colossus, which pleases the fangirl in me.

I know a lot of people criticized the plot for being generic and not having much to it, which I agree with. However, I won’t criticize it for that. It’s a comedy, meaning its primary goal is to make people laugh. Telling a good story is nice, but all it needs to do is supply circumstances for humorous lines & situations, which this plot does well.

Unfortunately, while being a comedy hides its biggest flaw, it creates an entirely new one: I don’t care about it after the first time watching. I re-watched Deadpool back in July, and I found it amusing at best. I remembered all the best jokes, so they didn’t come off as funny, and I was left with the well-acted but generic story. The fights still looked cool, but were hard to care about without the story behind them. I’m aware that I sound very pretentious right now, but it’s just how I feel.

I wasn’t sure what to give Deadpool, but I think I will give it an 8/10. It does a good job at doing what it set out to do (make a good comedy that captures the character well), and while I may only like seeing that once, I can’t bash it for failing at its goals (like certain other comic films this year). Plus I can’t express how much I loved it in theaters. I could have been there for hours listing everything I found funny (I’m even chuckling while writing this, as I remember some funny stuff).

Overall Rating: 8/10

i,ROBOT

What is it about Will Smith in a movie that makes people want the poster to be nothing but his face?
What is it about Will Smith in a movie that makes people want the poster to be nothing but his face?

I, Robot (I won’t type it in that stupid font again) is loosely based on Isaac Asimov's short-story collection of the same name. It takes place in the future where robots are common, and is about a cop (played by Will Smith) who investigates a crime that may have been committed by a robot only to fall into something much bigger.

The plot is probably my biggest issue with the movie. It starts off presenting itself like a real mystery story about a detective investigating something, but it slowly devolves into a generic action film as time goes on and any sense of mystery the film had was removed. They made it worse with how the action looked, as the robots weren’t consistent. At times they felt like strong brutes like The Terminator, but other times they were leaping around and being torn apart like they were made of paper mache. You can do either of those, or you can do both. But you can’t do both on the same type of robot.

Outside of that, this was a surprisingly decent movie. I really enjoyed the world the movie set up. It was futuristic with the robots & technology, but still had sections of the city that looked really crappy and dirty. It looked like a present day city with some robots, which is what I could realistically seeing the future look like.

Aside from that, other positives were that I enjoyed Will Smith, there were some pretty good and tense scenes, and the early stages of the movie when it’s still trying to be a mystery are pretty intriguing. I think I, Robot could have been better, but I find it decent as it is.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Troy

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When I was putting together my list of stuff I watched this year, it took me a couple days to remember I even watched this. About an hour after I watched it back in April, I had forgotten I watched it until I turned my head and saw the DVD box. I couldn’t even write my thoughts on it here until after I re-read a review I wrote for my teacher. In short, the biggest problem with the movie is that it’s not memorable.

Troy tells the story of the Trojan War from Greek mythology, which is a good story from what I know. But I just couldn’t get into the plot when I watched. I don’t know if it was the writing or acting, but something just felt off.

Speaking of the acting, they had some big names in the cast. Brad Pitt is the most notable, but it also had Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Peter O’Toole, and Sean Bean. Not sure if she’s notable or not, but it also had Diane Kruger, who I liked in Mr. Nobody. But none of the cast stood out in their roles at all. They weren’t bad, but provided nothing memorable or that good.

There was some action in the movie, but it felt boring for the most part. All it did was make me question why people wear these heavy, bulky armors if they do nothing to give the wearer protection.

I did think the movie looked good visually; the sets and costumes were all well-designed. But even then it stilled phony in a couple scenes.

There’s not much to say about Troy. It’s just bland and unmemorable.

Overall Rating: 5/10

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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People seem to be surprised when I say this, but I’m not a Star Wars fan. The prequels are terrible, and while I respect the work they clearly put into the originals, I’m just not into them and see them as nothing special. I still gave Force Awakens a chance because because the trailers looked cool. Since watching it, I’ve re-watched it a few times and have gotten the DVD, three Kylo Ren toys, a Rey Funko Pop, a Rey & BB-8 poster, a BB-8 Christmas tree ornament, and a t-shirt of the Force Awakens poster. I think that shows I loved this movie.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the seventh Star Wars film. The plot takes place 30 years after the original trilogy, with Luke Skywalker missing and various characters fighting over a map to find him. The plot’s way more complicated than that, but it’s the simplest way to put it without recapping the whole thing (plus, it’s a big enough film that everyone knows what it’s about).

Describing what I liked about Force Awakens is surprisingly hard, but I’ll do my best. I think all the performances from the cast were what really made this. Everyone did a very good job, and seemed to just enjoy being there a lot. I think Daisy Ridley as Rey was my favorite, but I also loved John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, and Oscar Iasaac as Poe Dameron. Even the original trilogy cast members in Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher did a good job here, and that’s with me finding them kinda bland in the originals. I also found the characters themselves to be pretty good. I enjoyed Rey a lot. Finn was fun and had a good backstory (even if it could have been developed a little more). I loved everything about BB-8. I think the highlight of the characters though was Kylo Ren. I’m not good at describing characters, but I just found him to be really interesting.

The only issues I had with the characters were 1) Poe Dameron. He was cool, but didn’t get a lot of screen time. 2) Chewbacca. I just hate him, and he added nothing but annoyance to the film (like that scene where he has some issue with Finn when Finn’s trying to help him).

In other positives, I enjoyed the plot. It wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but it was solid and kept moving at a fast pace. The whole thing just had an feeling of fun to it. From a visual effect & CGI standpoint, this may be the best looking movie I’ve ever seen.

My biggest issue is that I think it clings to the originals a bit too much. The entire plot is kickstarted because Luke Skywalker is missing. Han Solo & Chewbacca show up out of nowhere and just take over the plot for a little bit. When they get to the Rebellion base, it felt like the movie became primarily about just getting appearances from old SW characters. I understand that they wanted to connect to the originals, but I think they took away from the new cast a little bit. But with people now into the franchise again, hopefully they feel more willing to have the originals take a step back in Episode 8 so the series fan move forward.

But still, great job with this one.

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Overall Rating: 8/10

The 5th Wave

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I think I’m the only person in the world that was looking forward to this.

The 5th Wave is about an alien invasion of Earth where the aliens slowly cripple the planet through five “waves”. The first is shutting down all electronics, the second is creating earthquakes and tsunamis, etc. It focuses on Cassie (played by my girl Chloe Moretz) losing her younger brother, Sam, throughout this and going on a journey to get him back. It’s based on the book of the same name, but I haven’t read the book, so i won’t compare it to that.

I’m a huge Chloe Moretz fan, so I may be a bit biased to like this movie. She did do a great job, and I probably wouldn’t have cared about the movie had she not been cast. Liev Schreiber is also in this and did a pretty solid job, but I don’t feel like the movie made that much use out of him.

I thought the opening scene to the movie was pretty good and set a nice tone for the rest of the movie, but the movie unfortunately never lived up to it. I thought the initial attacks from the aliens were neat to see, but it felt more like a summary than actually watching the waves happen. There were also little bits of stupidity sprinkled throughout it, like the 3rd wave involving a virus the aliens spread throughout the planet (I believe through birds). That itself is fine, but they show you a treatment center for it, and the quarantine area for people with the disease is just them behind an unprotected guardrail with them no one wearing anything special for protection. Cassie’s mother works here and ended up dying, but what did she expect would happen?

Outside of Cassie, none of the other characters stood out that much (except for Evan, but I hated Evan).

While the plot was decent, I thought it went a little off-rails by the end and the twist as to what the fifth wave is was kinda ridiculous.

There were some things besides Chloe and the opening scene I liked though. The general atmosphere and scenery of the movie was very well-done. I noticed during one scene that Cassie had nail polish on, but it was chipped and faded away in some spots. It seems believable for this world as she shouldn’t have had the time or resources to take it off properly. I like little details like that. And like I said, the general plot and premise were decent.

Again, I’m probably biased because of Chloe, but I found the movie decent and want to give it a 7. If it didn’t have her, I’d probably give it a 6.

Overall Rating: 6 or 7/10

X-Men: Apocalypse

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This one I have a lot to say about, so apologizes if it’s not structured very well.

Anyone who knows me knows I was very excited for this movie. I love the X-Men, I love the X-Men movies, Days of Future Past is one of my favorite movies, and I thought two of the trailers were fantastic. The third one being god awful should have been a warning sign.

X-Men: Apocalypse is the ninth X-Men film. Taking place a decade after DOFP, it focuses on the ancient being Apocalypse awakening in present day (for them. It’s the 1980s for us), the X-Men trying to stop him, and... no wait, that’s it. There’s not much plot to this movie, which is surprising it’s from the same studio & director behind X2: X-Men United. The plot that is here still manages to screw itself up a lot.

From what I recall, Apocalypse wants to destroy the world and build a new one on top of it because he absorbed information from a television (no, they don’t explain how) and thinks the modern world is corrupt. To do this, he recruits the Four Horsemen and assigns them to do absolutely nothing. I’m not exaggerating; the only Horsemen that has any relevance in the movie is Magneto. Everyone else does nothing but stand behind Apocalypse and look cool. He only gives them a task at one point in the movie, and they miserably fail. To be positive towards them, I did love Storm’s introduction scene and the actress they had playing her (Alexandra Shipp), but she doesn’t do anything after joining Apocalypse (which turns her hair white, for some reason).

But back to Apocalypse’s core plan of destroying the world, they never flesh that out. He seems to just want to destroy stuff. But he also kidnaps Charles I think to use his powers to enslave the planet, which seems to go against Apocalypse’s plans that far. Though if his plan is to enslave people, I guess that does explain why he had access to every nuclear weapon in the world and chose not to use them.

Since we mentioned him earlier though, I want to talk about Magneto. Like First Class, he was absolutely the highlight here for me. Michael Fassbender once again did an incredible job playing him. He also had some great scenes early on in the film, my favorite being the one involving his family in the woods (that was the best scene in the movie). But shortly after that scene, he joins Apocalypse and doesn’t really do anything after that. He just destroys a lot of stuff, but his character doesn’t get much of a chance to shine. They try to give him a tiny bit at the end, but it felt forced. And I don’t want to go into spoilers, but his interaction with Quicksilver/Peter p*ssed me off.

Speaking of Peter, he had another big slow-motion/music scene in this. On its own, it was pretty cool. But it wasn’t as good as DOFP. It came off as a rip-off of the original, but didn’t have the same creativity and felt like it was trying too hard. I did enjoy Peter in general, as I like his personality and Evan Peters does a good job playing him. But there’s not much else to say about him here.

For the rest of the X-Men, they’re a mixed bag. James McAvoy as Charles Xavier did great once again, and it’s really nice to see him evolve since DOFP and become the traditional version we know from the comics & original movies. The only problem I had with Charles was that in any scene where he talks to Moria, he turns into a bumbling idiot. Otherwise, he was great and arguably the film’s highlight.

We get young versions of Jean Grey (played by Sophie Turner) and Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) introduced, and I liked them. They were both kind of wasted in the original movies, but I walked away feeling like they were done right here. I especially liked Sophie as Jean and really want to see more of her. Not much to say about them; they were just two positives.

Nicholas Hoult is back as Hank is back in this one. He does a solid enough job, but doesn’t add much to the film. It’s like he’s only here because it’d be weird if he wasn’t. Nightcrawler is here too, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, but doesn’t add much to the film; he just adds comic relief that isn’t funny and is a plot device to quickly get other characters out of trouble. Havok is back in the movie, but all he does is introduce Scott to Xavier’s School and do something stupid because he forgot how his powers work.

We finally come to Jennifer Lawrence, who’s the worst part of the film. She was already phoning in her performance in Days of Future Past, but is now lazily texting in her performance while making multiple spelling mistakes. To add to her awfulness is the film’s obsession with pushing her as some hero to the mutant species and playing her up as such a big deal. I could tolerate her in small doses, but this was almost unbearable. This is made worse by Jennifer Lawrence’s whining off-screen about having to wear the blue make-up (which meant she was only in her natural blue form a couple times in the film, completely destroying the “mutant and proud” thing her character believed) and complaining about not being paid as much Hugh Jackman. Just screw off Lawrence; you’re a decent actress who got lucky when you got picked up for The Hunger Games in a role that many other actresses could have pulled off without developing such an ego.

Back to Apocalypse, I did actually like him. Oscar Isaac did a good job playing him, and everything about he himself was well-done. He looked fine, sounded good, had a menacing presence to him, and is what I wanted from Apocalypse on film. But like I said before, his plans and motivation dragged down the whole film.

And back to the plot, it wasn’t good. The first 30-40 minutes are nothing but set-up and recapping where the characters have been. There’s a scene where Apocalypse learns of Charles’s existence and kidnaps him. Then William Stryker randomly comes in, puts the plot on hold for a little bit so they can force in some fan service, then the X-Men go to fight & stop Apocalypse. That really it. I could forgive the bare-bones plot, but it still manages to feel rushed and under-explained in spots (not to mention how many characters do nothing). You could argue that they skipped over a plot because they wanted to focus on action instead. You may have a point here, as the final fight is way too dragged out and boring. Bryan Singer, you’re a good director most of the time, but please don’t try to do action. It’s only ever good when it’s not a real fight and is instead just an opportunity to showcase someone’s powers (Quicksilver in DOFP, or Nightcrawler in X2).

I didn’t hate this movie, as much as it may seem. There was a lot I did enjoy, such as some of the characters I mentioned and the scene in the woods with Erik and his family. I also enjoyed the opening scene, starting with Charles giving a narration followed by showing Apocalypse in ancient Egypt. I enjoyed the scenes showing Charles running the school. There was some Phoenix imagery at the end that looked cool. There’s one scene where Charles and Apocalypse are having a fight inside of their mind (using telepathy) that I found very creative. While a lot of it didn’t hit with me, there were a couple jokes I laughed at. And as terrible as the costumes look, the end scene was a great way to end things.

My opinion of the movie has gone down since I watched it, but I did say I liked it at the time. Under normal circumstances, I would probably give this a reluctant 7. But with the cast & director it has, combined with how good the series has been in the past, the disappointment of it all keeps me from being able to rate it that highly. I really hope someone is able to take the cast they’ve assembled and fix the franchise again. Though with McAvoy & Fassbender possibly not coming back...

Logan looks great. Maybe that’s the place to end this franchise?

Overall Rating: 6/10

The Room

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The Room may be the worst film I’ve ever seen, and I absolutely loved it. This truly is the greatest worst film ever.

There’s no real plot to The Room; scenes involving characters just happen. I think it’s trying to be more of a character-driven drama, which I can get behind. When you get past the subplots that go nowhere, I think it focuses on a guy named Johnny (played by writer, director, & producer Tommy Wiseau), his relationship with his fiancee Lisa, and Lisa cheating on him with his best friend Mark.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the movie, because this is strongly a film I recommend watching and I don’t want to spoil anything. It’s horribly written, acted, and edited. But it’s all done in a way that just makes it hilarious to watch. Here’s an example of the acting from our lead actor/director/writer/producer:

Aside from the acting, there’s just random lines that made me laugh for their stupidity. “Oh, a surprise party. You invited all of my friends; good thinking” What the hell else was she gonna do? Or complaining to his friend “You always play psychologist with me!” when 1. He’s a psychologist and 2. Tommy asked him for advice. The crappy acting & dialogue is even better when you mix in how illogical just about all the characters act. Most of what they do makes absolutely no sense, and it’s glorious.

I have two issues with the movie: 1. Lisa. She’s a terrible person and I hate her. 2. The sex scenes. I’m fine with sex scenes in movies, but they came off as really awkward here, went on too long, and the woman seemed uncomfortable with it (which might explain why the later scenes were made from un-used clips from the first).

But overall, I loved The Room. It’s some of the most fun I’ve had watching a film and I’d strongly recommend it. Sorry I couldn’t go into more detail, but like I said: I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

Overall Rating (Quality Wise): 1/10

Overall Rating (Entertainment Wise): 9/10

The Hunger Games

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The Hunger Games is based on the book of the same name. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where children 12-18 are drafted into the “Hunger Games” where they fight to the death. It focuses on Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) volunteering to take her sister’s place in the games after she’s drafted, and Katniss training for and competing in the games. I avoided this for years as I didn’t care and was put off of Lawrence because of the X-Men movies, but I gave this a shot out of curiosity and really liked it.

I enjoyed the basic story to the movie and felt it was a nice, simple way to be introduced to the Hunger Games world. I also liked all the stuff prior to the games, with Katniss training for the games and everything with her being in interviews and such to try and get people rooting for her. The Hunger Games itself was also very good, as it was interesting, tense, and pretty well-shot.

Jennifer Lawrence did a very good job as Katniss, and I actually started liking her. The rest of the cast was also good; my favorite being Woody Harrelson as Haymitch (probably my favorite character). I know some would say Katniss is kinda bland, but I think she worked.

My biggest issue with the film is that some aspects feel a little rushed, and this feeling was made worse after I read the book. Some stuff is fine, like them not focusing on Katniss trying to find water for a couple days. But the intro felt a little rushed and I felt like we never really got to learn about her regular life before she volunteered. And one of the other tributes, Rue, got a lot more time to be fleshed out in the book. She doesn’t leave as big of an impact here.

But despite those little flaws, I thought The Hunger Games was very good. Much better than I ever thought it’d be.

Overall Rating: 8/10

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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I know Catching Fire is usually considered the best of the series. I personally liked the first one more, but this was still very good.

The main plot of Catching Fire is that it’s been a few months since the first movie as Katniss & Peeta go on their victory tour, a rebellion against the capital is beginning is beginning to simmer, and the next Hunger Games is set to feature winners from previous years’ games, which Katniss & Peeta get dragged back into. That is a terrible description.

Everything I liked about the first movie is still here for the most part. I liked the characters, the cast, and we see more of President Snow which was cool. They do a lot of interesting stuff with the plot during the first half (even if my description says otherwise) that I really enjoyed, and it was nice to see all the pre-Hunger Games stuff (like the interviews) again.

My biggest issue with the movie, and the reason I prefer the first, is that I find the Hunger Games itself to be a step down from the first. It was just too shenanigan-filled for me, and the actual killing & survival aspect seemed to be lost. I understand it fit into the plot, but I still found it a little less entertaining.

But still, everything was well-done and I enjoyed watching Catching Fire, so I won’t complain too much. Especially when I get the chance to bash Mockingjay next.

Overall Rating: 8/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

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This movie sums up one of the things I hate the most about movies: They can have a lot of good in them, but one small decision can have huge effects that ruins everything. This movie shows that perfectly. The cast, writing, and story are all still very good, and there’s a few scenes I absolutely love. But they ruined all of that by taking the story and splitting it across two movies. This can work (I haven’t seen it, but I heard Harry Potter did this well), but this was how to do it wrong. The problem (aside from it showing what greedy, money-loving, sh*theads are in Hollywood who don’t care about art at all) is that they took an average sized story and spread it across two films. This completely killed both films, as they had to stretch out both films more than the story gave them room for. It makes to neither film having much of substance happening. To prove my point:

The plot of Mockingjay - Part 1 is that Katniss is introduced to a rebellion against the Capitol, led by President Coin, who wants Katniss to be the symbol of the Rebellion known as the Mockingjay. Katniss agrees, and the rest of the film is pretty much nothing but them filming political propaganda with her. There’s one point where they cut off power to the Capitol, but that doesn’t go anywhere. There’s one subplot that doesn’t get much development until the very end, where they wanted a cliffhanger so you want to see Part 2. This isn’t just me describing the premise; that’s literally a summary of the plot. Nothing happens in this movie and it’s an incomplete story. It makes it hard to even truly judge the movie since it’s not finished.

Ignoring the plot issues, there is stuff to like here. As I said before, the cast and writing are still very good, and there’s some very good single scenes. That scene with the “Hanging Tree” song really stood out when I watched it, and is one of the best scenes of any movie I have listed here.

Overall, I do like this for the positives I mentioned and am probably rating it higher than I should, but it’s just really hurt by splitting up the plot. Not as much as Part 2 though.

Overall Rating: 7/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

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I’ve watched the whole franchise twice this year. Both times, I loved it at the start, but was sick of it by this point.

Mockingjay Part 2 suffers the same issue as Part 1, in that there’s not enough plot to fill the movie so they have to stretch it out. But what makes this one worse is just boring. I know most would say Part 1 is more boring, as this one has more action. I disagree, as this movie runs into the same problem X-Men: Apocalypse did. Action has never been the franchise’s strong suit, so focusing too much on it ultimately hurts the film. So even if you’re someone who doesn’t care about story and only wants to see cool action, I still couldn’t recommend this.

This movie is primarily Katniss fighting the Capital forces (including weird white monsters, which felt really out of place), and not much real plot happens until the final act. I do enjoy the plot that’s there, but it’s not enough to carry a whole film. If they had combined it with the story of the first one, we’d have an excellent movie and possibly my favorite trilogy ever. But right now, we just end on a lackluster note.

The cast still does well, but they don’t have much of a chance to showcase it. Outside of the very ending (which I did like), there are no real stand-out scenes like in Part 1. Again, it was just lackluster. I may have been more interested and enjoyed it more if they hadn’t split up the story, but I’m sick of bashing that.

I’ll end by saying that somewhere on the Internet, I’m sure some fan has made an edit that removes the pointless stuff and makes Mockingjay just one movie. That is a film I would recommend. Otherwise, I can only recommend this if you’re like me: You enjoyed the previous movies and you want to see how it ends. Though if you didn’t like the previous movies, why would you even consider watching this?

Overall Rating: 6/10

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

I hate this poster. It just looks lazy
I hate this poster. It just looks lazy

NOTE: This is about the theatrical version of the film. I have yet to see the Extended Cut. I know that is considered to be an improvement, but I can’t speak personally.

Going into the year, this and Civil War were the main two comic movies everyone was hyped for. I didn’t care about either. X-Men, Deadpool, & Suicide Squad were the ones that had my attention (we know how the first two turned out. We’ll get to SS in a bit). But I still gave this a shot when I got the chance and I really have no words. The movie is just a complete mess that’s really hard to analyze. I know other people have done more work breaking down and analyzing everything wrong with this than I will or care to, but I’ll still do my best to give my thoughts.

The main plot to BvS is almost non-existent. It just jumps around in its focus. At times it’s about the public opinion of Superman and people’s support and dislike of him. At times it’s about Batman feeling Superman is a threat that needs to be eliminated. At times it’s about Lex Luthor manipulating things from behind the scenes to merge these plots together and also trying to kill Superman because of reasons. But I think the real plot to the movie is that WB was jealous of Marvel’s success with their comic movies and wanted in, and rather than take time to establish the universe like Marvel did, they just want to cram in everything they can now and rush to Justice League as quick as possible, no matter how much the movies suffer.

I want to actually discuss the film and not just take cheap shots, but it’s hard to know where to begin. So I’ll start with the positives: I absolutely loved Alfred. Jeremy Irons did a great job in the role, and he had multiple lines I loved (“I hope the next generation of Waynes won't inherit an empty wine cellar. Not that there's likely to be a next generation”), and I liked how he was trying to talk sense into Bruce after he started in his desire to go after Superman. He was my favorite part of the movie.

While I did have criticisms with his character, I also liked Ben Affleck as Batman. He pulled off the role surprisingly well, looked the part, and I liked the intensity he brought to the role. It’s hard to believe this is the same guy we all got angry over when he was cast. Aside from that, I like that they had Batman doing a little more investigating in this movie than in past ones. Makes him feel more detective-like.

Overall, I like the cast. I really like Henry Cavill as Superman, even if his character has issues. Laurence Fishburne as Petty White is pretty good, even if they do nothing with him here. I even like Jessie Eisenberg’s general performance, but he’s an awful Lex and his script is awful. Everyone else is fine, if unmemorable.

The movie also has some good scenes. I know everyone praises it, but that warehouse fight scene with Batman is great. Except when they interrupted it with a terrible Lex scene, I also really liked the end. It felt tragic, but hopeful.

The film also looked good visually (except Batman’s costume), and had a nice soundtrack.

In terms of negatives, I’m not sure where to start. I think the biggest problem is that they tried to do too much with the movie. It tries to follow up on Man of Steel, showcase the public’s opinion of Superman, introduce Batman to this universe, give both characters a reason to fight each other, have both characters work together, introduce Lex Luthor and flesh him out, introduce Wonder Woman, have her meet & team with Supes & Bats, have Lex create Doomsday, explore Clark’s & Lois’s relationship, have some subplot involving Superman being framed, tease the other Justice League members, etc. It tries to juggle too much, and ultimately isn’t able to. Several subplots go nowhere and were pointless, and several characters feel shoe-horned in and under-explained. Wonder Woman is the best example of that; she randomly appears during a party and meets Bruce, who is able to read data about her being Wonder Woman. She then appears during the final fight to help against Doomsday. Imagine if you didn’t know anything about Diana and this was your first introduction to her. Would you know anything about her coming out of this?

Some of the characters are really badly done. Superman doesn’t have much of a personality. Batman’s reasons for wanting to kill Clark are stupid and forced, and I had a bit of an issue with him casually killing people during that car chase scene. To give the film the benefit of the doubt, I think I know what they were going for. It’s an older, more on-edge Batman that’s gotten more isolated from humanity and has lost his sense of morale. Teaming with Superman and the other heroes should restore some of his heroics and turn him into the more traditional Batman in future films. I think that’s a nice idea, but the problem is that the film never really gets that point across properly. I have the same issue with the infamous “Martha” scene; I get what they were trying to go for, but they didn’t get the idea across well enough so it came off as forced and stupid.

I want to bash Lex Luthor, but I don’t even know what they tried to do with him. I never thought his motivations were very clear, and his plan was even worse. By the end of the film, he kidnaps Superman’s mother and promises to kill her unless Superman delivers him Batman’s head. I think his goal here was to get Batman to kill Superman. But after that failed, he just released Doomsday. Assuming Doomsday had been successful in killing them, how did Lex plan on stopping him? Aside from that, what was the point of manipulating things to make Superman hate Batman if he was just gonna blackmail Clark into fighting him anyway? I also once heard someone describe Lex’s plan to me as him wanting to prove power is corrupt and just humiliate & expose Superman. Does killing him really help in that plan? And none of this explains why he force-fed a jolly rancher to a Senator (or Senator’s assistant; I forget their roles).

On the topic of Lex’s plan, he discovers kryptonite. He tests it on Zod’s corpse and learns it can harm Kryptonians. He reports this finding to some Senator, and ends up making a deal that gives him access to Zod’s body. But didn’t he already have access to Zod’s body if he was able to test the kryptonite on it? What?

There’s some scenes in the movie that make no sense, from both a film-making standpoint and a writing standpoint. An example of the first is one scene where Bruce is talking to Alfred about needing information from or about Lex, and Alfred informs Bruce he’s been invited to a party at his house. Then they cut to a random shot of Bruce opening the Batsuit case, staring at it, then shutting it. Then he looks at the Robin suit before walking away. Then it cuts to another shot where he’s getting into his car to go to the party. This could have been cool if it was after some scene where he was trying to decide to go somewhere as Bruce or Batman, but he just decided to go as Bruce. Why do we need to see him staring at the costumes? Going to the party as Batman wasn’t even a consideration.

A bad scene writing-wise is my most hated scene in the film. It shows Batman in the desert with some armed people wearing armor and Superman logos, before they take down & capture Bruce while what I think are Parademons fly around in the background. Then it shows Bruce being tied up with Superman coming in and unmasking him. Then Bruce wakes up with someone who appears to be the Flash is running around with lightning flying everywhere, telling Bruce to find “the others” and that “Lois is the key”, until Bruce wakes up again.

Where do I begin? That’s one of the most incomprehensibly bad things I’ve ever seen. First off, the desert thing is overly long, has terrible lighting that highlights how bad the Batsuit is, the appearance from parademons feels random, and the whole thing just feels wrong and out of place with everything else. I think its purpose was to show Bruce worried about what Superman could do and give a reason to go after him, but none of it made any sense. And The Flash thing... is there anyone involved who truly felt that should have been in the film? It doesn’t flow naturally with the rest of the film (there’s a reason Nick Fury telling Tony Stark about the Avenger Initiative was an after-credits scene), and is pretty much incoherent the way its presented. And worst of all, it’s pointless.

I could go into more detail, but I don’t feel like it. Other people already have done it and done a better job than me. Overall, I don’t hate Batman V Superman. It has some positives to it, and doesn’t do anything offensively bad. But it does so much wrong that I can’t really be positive towards it, even if I like some things and its intentions. Honestly, my favorite part about the movie is the Superman cereal they put out with it. I’m eating a bowl as I write this.

Justice League does look good though, and I hope Snyder & WB learn their lessons from this.

Overall Rating: 4/10

Now given how hardcore some people are in praising & defending this movie, let’s take a look at how that bridge with them is doing:

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Captain America: Civil War

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I’ve angered the DCEU fans, might as well anger the MCU fans.

Captain America: Civil War is the third Captain America movie and the thirteenth Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. It’s also a better sequel to The Avengers than Avengers: Age of Ultron was (though that’s not something hard to do). It serves as an adaption of the Civil War storyline, with Captain America and Iron Man arguing and fighting over a bill that would force the Avengers into being overseen by the UN.

I really didn’t care about this movie before it came out. Except for Winter Soldier, I hated everything the MCU put out in Phase 2 (I didn’t hate GOTG, but it was really mediocre and unmemorable) which put me off the franchise, and I thought the trailers looked unappealing. I eventually gave it a watch though, and I think I liked it. I didn’t hate it, which is good. Let’s just get into it.

There was a lot to this movie I liked. As usual for MCU movies, the performances were very good. The one exception was Scarlett Johansson, but she was tolerable compared to her usual terribleness. I enjoyed a lot of the characters. Cap was great as usual, Tony was nice (first time in years he hasn’t been an unlikeable d*ck), Falcon was cool, and I enjoyed some of the stuff they did with Wanda. One of the highlights of the characters for me was Black Panther. I really liked T’Challa in this; Chadwick Boseman did a great job playing him, the costume looked great, and his character was pretty well done. You could argue that his backstory felt a bit rushed, but I thought you still had a solid idea of who he was and what his motivations were. He can be fleshed out more in his solo movie, which looks to have a lot of potential after how he was handled here. I also loved Ant-Man, but I’ll talk about him more in a bit.

I’ve always loved the Civil War comic (without question my favorite event comic from Marvel, and probably comics in general), so the plot to this did interest me. It’s hard to compare the two since they don’t have much in common with each other outside of the core premise, but one thing I really liked about the movie over the comic is that Steve and Tony seemed on more equal footing from a moral standpoint. I thought Tony came off as the bad guy way too much in the comic, but here they both seemed pretty even and supporting either would be fair. It was just a thing I thought was well-done.

As for the plot itself when not comparing it to comics, it’s... okay. I guess. Again, I like the core plot with Tony and Steve disagreeing over the Sokovia Accords. But outside of a few scenes, they never really use that as strongly as they could. They do some stuff with Bucky in the movie. I like that he plays a big role, as it does make it feel like a follow-up to Winter Soldier when I was worried that film would be ignored. Zemo is also involved as the main villain, and the fact I waited this long to mention that should say a lot. No exaggeration, when I first watched this movie, I kept forgetting he was in it when a scene with him would come up. And once his scene was over, I forgot about him again until the next scene he was in. He wasn’t a terrible villain (when judging him by himself. Based on what I know about comic Zemo, he’s a terrible adaption), but he was really forgettable with bland motivations and a plan I found a bit convoluted (though it’s a stroke of genius compared to whatever the hell Lex was trying to do).

The big issue with the plot is that a lot of it feels disjointed. I feel like you easily could have done the Civil War plot without Zemo there at all, and you didn’t need the Sokovia Accords stuff if they wanted Zemo. This could have been two films, but they shoved too much in to me. I also thought the scenes themselves felt disjointed. The movie just goes all over the place in locations and it doesn’t seem focused in it. I think the idea was to give it an epic, global feel, but it didn’t do that. Like I said, the scenes & locations felt disjointed and unconnected.

For the most part, I really liked the action in the movie. There’s a lot of really good action scenes. The stand-out to me is the climax with Tony fighting Steve & Bucky (I really loved that scene), but I also enjoyed the opening, and the chase scene with Steve, Falcon, Bucky, Panther, & the cops.

The one fight I didn’t like is the one everyone else seems to love: The airport fight scene between all the heroes. I hated this. Firstly, the tone was completely off. The movie as a whole had humor in it, but was pretty serious for the most part. But in this fight, pretty much everyone was giving off wise-cracks. It was annoying, and killed the seriousness of it. It was even worse at the end when War Machine got injured, and then it all of the sudden became super serious again.

The worst part about the scene though was Spider-Man. He wasn’t as abysmal as Andrew Garfield, but I hated him. There’s nothing I can point to that was specifically wrong; he was just annoying every time he opened his mouth and I wanted to punch him. The fact that his dialogue and terrible and forced didn’t help (“You guys ever see that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back?”). I could have tolerated all this since he was just in two scenes (and the first one wasn’t even bad), but his appearance was so forced and unnecessary. They just randomly have Tony go to Queens and recruit him, then he’s in the next scene as part of the big fight. Somehow, Wonder Woman’s appearance in BvS was better. That at least had a couple scenes to build up to her in costume. Also, Spidey’s costume looked terrible and was out of place with the visual design the rest of the film (and MCU in general) has.

While not as bad as Spidey, I thought the action itself wasn’t very well-done. With so many important characters they wanted to focus on, none of the actions or shots flowed well together and, again, just felt disjointed.

The only saving grace to it was Ant-Man. He was the only one who was actually being funny (except for one moment with Falcon), they did a lot of cool stuff with his powers, and they were able to combine both of those aspects (I loved when he went into Tony’s suit and, when Tony asked who was speaking, said “ It's your conscience. We don't talk a lot these days”). I loved him here, and it actually convinced me to watch his solo movie.

I know I was negative a lot, but I did like Civil War. It just had a lot of issues. It’s not the best of the MCU (not even the best Cap movie; Winter Soldier was much better), but far from the worst.

Overall Rating: 7/10

How’s that bridge doing again?

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Ant-Man

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I said that airport fight made me want to watch Ant-Man’s solo movie. I’m glad it did, because this was surprisingly good.

The movie’s main plot focuses on Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd), a former thief that steals the Ant-Man suit and ends up helping Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) protect the technology by actually becoming the new Ant-Man. (Why am I so abysmal at describing these films?)

There was a lot to like about Ant-Man. I think the main thing that stood out was the general creativity of it. I was worried how the shrinkage powers would work for film, but they did a lot of cool stuff with it. The visuals looked great, the camera work was fantastic, and again, there were a lot of creative moments with his powers.

Outside of the powers & visuals, I think the plot and style of the film were creative. It was really more of a heist movie than a superhero movie, which gave it a unique film and was pulled off very well. I enjoyed seeing all the planning they did and Scott training in the suit, and it was great to see it put into action later on in the film.

One of the other main things I liked was Paul Rudd as Scott and Michael Douglas as Hank. Michael did a really good job, and I enjoyed Rudd as Scott. Both of their characters were also fun to watch. I never really read anything with Scott in the comics, but I’m a bit interested to after watching this. I also liked Corey Stoll as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket. The character wasn’t anything special, but I enjoyed his performance and how he came off as being a bit mentally unstable without being too over-the-top about it. The Yellowjacket outfit also looked great and gave him a really menacing presence.

Outside of those three though, none of the other characters were that memorable. There was nothing wrong with Hope, but she didn’t stand out in my mind at all. There were some allies of Scott in the movie, but the only one who was memorable from them was Luis. To be fair though, I did really like Luis’s scenes where he was telling Scott some sort of story. Scott also had a daughter that played into his character & motivations a bit, but on her own didn’t add a whole lot. There’s also a cop (Paxton) who’s engaged to Scott’s former wife, but I forgot he was even in the movie until I looked up Yellowjacket’s actor and saw Paxton’s name in the cast.

While I did like plenty of aspects to it, the movie’s plot itself wasn’t anything that special. It felt really predictable and formulaic. Once you watch about 20 minutes of the movie and know the set-up, you can predict about everything that’s gonna happen. It’s not a big deal; it’s not like there were any major plot holes (that I remember at least). I’m just saying it was nothing that special.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about Ant-Man. I just found it to be a fun, well-made movie even if it wasn’t a masterpiece. And considering its production troubles, along with the fact it’s a movie about friggin Ant-Man, I think it turned out pretty well.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Let Me In

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Let Me In focuses on Owen, a 12-year-old boy who develops a friendship with a vampire girl named Abby (played by Chloe Moretz). I know this sounds like it could be a disaster, but it was actually quite good.

I don’t have a lot to say about the movie, but the main thing I’d praise is the acting. Chloe was amazing like she always is, but Kodi Smit-McPhee also did a solid job as Owen. They had nice chemistry together, and I thought their relationship was well-done and its progression was paced nicely.

Let Me In also gets the rare honor of being a horror movie that actually scared and unsettled me. The atmosphere was amazing, and I felt genuinely creeped out by a few things that happened.

Like I said, I don’t have a lot to say about this. It was just very good and something I’d recommend everyone check out.

This also proved you can have a vampire romance movie and make it good. Suck it, Twilight!

Overall Rating: 9/10

Sucker Punch

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A great movie like Let Me In gets to be followed with Sucker Punch. I feel like I should be stabbed for dis-respecting it like that.

The plot of Sucker Punch is that a girl is committed to a mental hospital. Not being able to cope with this, she imagines the mental hospital as a brothel. She then imagines the brothel as multiple kinds of worlds where she and other girls are warriors trying to find objects to help escape. That is absolutely stupid. If she needs to imagine other worlds to cope with being in the brothel, why did she imagine that? Couldn’t she have ignored that and gone into the imaginary worlds while in the hospital? The movie does forget the hospital set-up for most of the running time, so if they didn’t want to do that, couldn’t they have just had the girl go into a brothel in reality? Did they just trying to rip-off The Simpsons?

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The imaginary worlds are crap too, as the whole movie has an ugly grey filter running over it. I thought this would just be in the real world to make the imaginary ones stand out more, but no; it’s over the imaginary worlds too. Why? It kills any enjoyment I could get out of the visuals. The action it okay, but it all feels soulless and lifeless. And with virtually no plot surrounding it, it was hard for me to care. All the characters sucked and gave me no reason to care about them.

Re-reading my old thoughts, I apparently thought the soundtrack was cool, but I don’t remember it now.

The only highlight I remember was during the credits, I read "Directed by Zack Snyder" "Written by Zack Snyder & ______" "Story by Zack Snyder" "Produced by Zack Snyder & _______". All Snyder needed was an acting credit and he’d be the modern day Tommy Wiseau (I miss Tommy. I long for The Room after seeing this).

While not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, Sucker Punch was still complete crap. Not even Oscar Isaac could save this for me.

Overall Rating: 3/10 (I’m feeling generous)

Reservoir Dogs

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I had promised to another user that I’d watch this. Took me about a year to get to it. I’m a terrible friend.

Reservoir Dogs focuses on a messed up heist, the events leading up to it and after it. That’s about it for the plot, really. There’s a cool twist towards the end, but I won’t spoil that for anyone who hasn’t seen it. The main thing that holds the film together was the very strong dialogue. As I write, I’m remembering and chuckling at a couple scenes (like one where they’re given their fake names for the heist and they have some complaints). They curse a bit more than I usually like, but they made up for it by mentioning the Fantastic Four at one point. The acting also helped.

Not much to say about the movie. It was pretty good though.

Overall Rating: 8/10

The Giver

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The Giver is a film no one remembers. It’s based on a young adult book, so you’d think it’d be more relevant.

The actual plot takes place in a futuristic world where it’s seemingly perfect with no war or pain or anything, but it also lacks choice or individuality. A guy named Jonas (played by Brenton Thwaites) is assigned the job of the next Receiver of Memory, a person who holds all the memories of the past, and begins absorbing them through The Giver (played by Jeff Bridges), only to learn of emotions and everything and slowly starts turning against the world to try and save it and restore freedom after he learns bad stuff happens... I dunno.

As you can probably tell by me basically re-writing the Wikipedia & IMDB entries for that description (before I got lazy), I don’t remember this movie a whole lot. I remember thinking the main plot was good, but 1) couldn’t have been that good if I barely remember, and 2) it felt really rushed and underdeveloped. It’s very obvious this was an adaption and they couldn’t go into anywhere near as much detail as the book presumably did, which was probably the film’s biggest issue. It feels less like I’m watching a story and more that I’m watching people act out a summary of a story.

The main thing I remember liking in the movie was the way it was filmed. A lot of it was in black & white, but as Jonas learns more about emotions/freedom and does whatever he does, the film changes and becomes more colorized. I thought this looked gorgeous and was really well-done. It’s like what Sucker Punch should have done with its grey filter (drop it during the fantasy world scenes) but was too stupid to do.

I remember the performance of Jeff Bridges being very good. Everyone else did solid, but nothing that memorable. Which is a good description of the entire film: solid, but nothing memorable. I’m struggling to remember the film to talk about it.

I remember wanting to give it a 7/10 when I first saw it, but given how unmemorable it is, I’ll drop it to a 6.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Suicide Squad

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Before I talk about this movie, I want to confirm that I did like it. I had fun watching it in the theater, was excited I got the DVD for Christmas, and have been waiting the past few weeks for the opportunity to re-watch it. So again, I did enjoy Suicide Squad a lot. The reason I’m saying this now is because I am going to be very critical of the movie, and I don’t want it to come off badly since the movie has already gotten enough hate.

The main premise to Suicide Squad is that Amanda Waller assembles a team of super villains & criminals to send them out on dangerous missions in exchange for them getting out of jail time. The actual plot involves someone (won’t spoil who it is here, but I will later) going nuts and trying to destroy the world, so the Squad is assembled and sent after them. After that it’s a basically just a collection of the Squad fighting, interacting, and (mostly) being cool with no real additions or twists in the plot, but I’ll get back to this.

The biggest problem with this movie was, sadly, also the most avoidable: The editing is atrocious (and often effects the pacing). My understanding of the production history is that they had the company that made the first trailer re-shoot and edit the film to match the tone of the trailer, and I think that’s where they screwed up.

To give an example of how bad it was, I’ll just go to the first scene of the movie. It genuinely has some of the worst pacing & structure I’ve ever seen in a film. First off, it never feels like it properly starts. It just cuts to Bell Reve prison and shows a scene with Deadshot interacting with some guards, then it cuts to another shot with Harley interacting with some guards. It didn’t feel like the movie started; it felt like I watched preview clips on Youtube. Then we see Amanda Waller having dinner with people she’s pitching the Task Force X idea to, during which we cut to various flashbacks to highlight the characters’ backstories. The idea there is nice, but they put it together horribly by having a ton of info about the characters pop up on screen after Waller mentions them. Then Deadshot and Harley get flashback scenes that go on way too long, followed by a couple others barely getting anytime and telling us nothing (they do force in a Flash cameo for Captain Boomerang’s though. I know this has nothing to do with the film, but Flash’s costume is atrocious). When that’s all done with, we get another scene of Waller explaining the concept of the team to people. The only thing this scene adds is information on and a look at Enchantress, which they easily could have worked into the dinner scene. So what was the point of this one? Then we go back to the prison to get our real introduction to the characters, which makes me question what the point of the opening looks at Deadshot & Harley were.

This is jumping a head past the opening a bit, but when the Squad is officially assembled for a mission, they’re still introducing new characters. Slipknot shows up out of nowhere, with his only explanation being Rick Flag describing him as the man who can climb anything (isn’t that Spider-Man’s bit?). Why couldn’t he have been mentioned during the dinner scene when Waller described the rest of the group? Katana is even worse; she just randomly walks into a helicopter as they’re about to leave and gets a quick explanation from Flag (also, people seem to hate Harley’s dialogue here, but I liked it). I would say she could have been mentioned during the dinner scene too, but she didn’t need to be in the movie to begin with. She added nothing to the story, did nothing, and helped kill the idea of the Squad being villains.

Back to the editing, it’s also bad in various points of the movie because of how obvious it is that stuff got cut out. I don’t mean in the same way as something like Fant4stic, where it’s obvious plot & character advancements are just missing from the movie. I mean that you can literally see lines in the footage where they just removed stuff that had been there. This is primarily seen in any scene that features Joker, but can be noticed elsewhere. I understand that they need to cut down on stuff so the movie can be a reasonable length, but can’t they at least do it well and more subtly?

On a more positive note, I loved the cast to the movie. While some people didn’t get that much time to shine, I can’t think of anyone that delivered a bad performance. The characters themselves were a little more mixed, but overall I liked enough of them for the movie to be enjoyable. Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie) was probably my favorite. A few of her lines could have been delivered better, but overall she was great, entertaining, and her little subplot with Joker is the closest the film manages to come to a real story. Will Smith primarily spent his time playing Will Smith, which he’s very good at. He never came off as Deadshot to me, just Smith dressed as Deadshot. But I did like Smith’s performance (he brought some nice energy to it), and he had several lines I liked, so I won’t complain about him too much. The only thing I will say is that I thought the scenes with his daughter always came off as awkward. El Diablo (played by Jay Hernandez) was probably the biggest surprise of the film, as he was fantastic. He gave a good performance, and I enjoyed his character. He feels guilty over killing his family with his flame powers which leads to him not wanting to be involved in any of this and just serve out his sentence. He still ends up helping though after being forced into it, and ends up being very heroic. Probably not good when El Diablo is more heroic in a universe than Batman, but that problem lies more on BvS than Suicide Squad. Amanda Waller was also very well-done; she was everything I wanted from Waller in a movie, Viola Davis did a great job, and I don’t see why people aren’t complimenting her more. And, I know people give him a lot of hate, but I’m gonna say it: I liked Jared Leto’s Joker. I still have some issues with his design, but when I get past that, I really enjoyed his performance and a lot of the stuff he did. My biggest complaint is that he didn’t really do a whole lot in the movie, likely due to his scenes being cut down so much, which makes it harder to judge him. But I really liked what we saw, and I want to see more of him in both Gotham City Sirens and the next Batman.

Outside of Enchantress, there were no characters I truly disliked. Everyone else either didn’t stand out compared to the others (Rick Flag) or didn’t do anything. Captain Boomerang is a good example of this: I liked Jai Courtney’s performance (never thought I’d say that) and that he wasn’t a really complicated character or anything; he was just a scumbag. He did have a few moments I liked, but overall, he didn’t really add anything to the movie. Same with Killer Croc, except he got even less time (the only thing I remember him even doing was swimming to take care of a bomb and saying he’s beautiful). I already talked about Katana; she looked great but was pointless to the movie.

Now I want to talk about the plot a little, so please skip the next paragraph if you don’t want spoilers.

The main villain is Enchantress. She breaks free of Waller and decided to destroy the world because of reasons. Enchantress then takes over some people to turn them into mindless minions for the Squad to blow through, creates a giant circle in the sky, and does nothing of note. They really butchered the story here. If they wanted Enchantress to break free and act as an antagonist, that’s fine and could have worked had they went about it better. I think the better option would have been to send the Squad on some other mission (I had some pitch to me they could have been sent to assassinate Osama Bin Laden if he were alive. I wouldn’t use that, but the basic idea I think fits) and Enchantress turns at the end of the second act, making the rest of the movie about stopping her. This would also excuse Enchantress not doing anything, as she’d have a lot less time to with my pitch.

For a few quick final thoughts: The action was solid & fun, but had no truly memorable sequences. The soundtrack was cool, but some of the songs they used felt shoehorned in and early on drowned out the actual dialogue. There were some good individual scenes in the movie, like the bar scene and the car chase with Joker, Harley, & Batman. The final moments were terrible and forced.

There’s more detail I could go into, but that covers my main thoughts. Overall, like I said, I enjoyed Suicide Squad. But at the same time, I was disappointed by it because I know it could have been better. If they fixed the editing & structure, and had more time on the script (it was apparently written in six weeks), I think it could have been phenomenal. But as it stands, I found it enjoyable. Which isn’t a bad thing, but like I said, disappointing. I do hope for a sequel that hopefully manages to have smoother production.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Victor Frankenstein

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Victor Frankenstein is something no one should have to hear described. It’s yet another adaption of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein novel. While I know the story, I never actually read the novel or watched the previous movies, which may be why I enjoyed this so much.

The plot is primarily told through the perspective of Igor (played by Daniel Radcliffe) as he escapes from the circus and starts living with Victor Frankenstein (played by James McAvoy). The main thing that made this movie for me was McAvoy’s performance as Victor. While it was a little weird since I’m used to him as Charles, he was fantastic and clearly having fun with it. I also enjoyed the character of Victor, and how you can just see how insane he truly is as the movie goes on. Radcliffe did a solid job, but McAvoy was the stand-out.

I thought the movie did a surprisingly good job balancing the different tones. There were several scenes where I thought it felt like a fun movie and I was chuckling at some stuff, while other times it felt kind of creepy. The main things I remember for that was when Victor & Igor try to show their example of them creating life (with the general motions of what they created, and the bugs flying out of it), and some of the stuff Victor does as the film goes on. I wouldn’t say the movie is very scary or anything, but they balanced elements of that nicely with something entertaining to watch.

I will say that I wasn’t a fan of the climax. Victor & Igor end up creating the monster, it goes crazy, and they have to kill it. But the scene of them fighting it is pretty dragged out and boring. It didn’t help that a lot of the interesting stuff had ended by that point and I was just waiting for the movie to wrap up.

Victor Frankenstein isn’t a masterpiece or anything, and I’m sure most Frankenstein fans would dislike it (probably why it did poor critically and lost money), but I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Blood: The Last Vampire

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This movie was complete crap. I don’t think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen, primarily because I don’t remember a lot of it, but it was still god awful.

It focuses on a half-human half-vampire girl named Saya (played by Jun Ji-hyun) who hunts vampires with help from humans, and I think she sets out to defeat a very powerful vampire in the movie. The concept is basically Blade, if he were an Asian girl and his movies were terrible.

There’s nothing the film does right. The acting was either bland or over-the-top. There were a couple cool lighting effects, but otherwise had abysmal filming & editing. The special effects were awful, including the worst blood effects I’ve ever seen. I remember thinking the plot was crap, but I stopped paying attention after a while.

Probably the most interesting thing about the film is its production history. It’s based on a Japanese anime, was made by a French company, and I think was released for an American audience.

Like I said, I barely remember the movie besides that I hated it. Can’t believe I wasted $3 on buying it.

Overall Rating: 2/10 (I know I originally had it at a 1/10, but I bumped it since it wasn’t bad enough for me to remember)

Saw

Please note that I don’t want to spoil anything for this or the other Saw movies (which I’ll get to later), so will come off as vague and non-descriptive a lot. That does not mean the film had nothing memorable or praise-worthy.

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The Saw franchise is about a serial killer (named by the media “the Jigsaw Killer”, or just “Jigsaw”) who kidnaps victims and puts them into traps (or “Games”) to test them and give them a new appreciation of life if they survive. This film itself focuses on two guys, Adam and Lawrence, who wake up in an old bathroom. They end up realizing they’re in one of Jigsaw’s games, and they have to figure out why they’ve been chosen and how to get out.

The main thing I liked about this movie was the mystery surrounding everything. You don’t know exactly who these people are, what their relationship to each other is, why they’ve been placed here, etc. It immediately makes you intrigued in seeing how things go, and I found the reveals to be pretty interesting and well-done. Speaking of reveals, the film has a pretty amazing plot twist at the end that blew my mind. It’s especially impressive the film had this much going on when you remember it mostly takes place in one room.

It was also surprisingly effective horror. You’d think something like this would just be gore, and there was some (though not as bad as people would have you believe, at least in this movie), but it was pretty creepy outside of that. The general atmosphere felt really eerie, there’s one scene that still has me leery to go to bed without checking my closet, and the way the characters become more desperate and crazy as the film goes on is pretty amazing.

The weakest point is probably the acting. It’s not bad, but it’s nothing really great either.

Overall, I was surprised by how much I liked Saw. I gave it a chance because of the cool premise, and I’m glad I did.

Overall Rating: 8/10

If I Stay

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If I Stay is another Chloe Moretz movie, which should give you an idea what the rating at the end is gonna be. It focuses on Mia Hall (played by Chloe) who gets into a car accident with her family, and has an out-of-body experience where she sees the hospital and the doctors trying to revive her while she finds out that the rest of her family has died. She then has to make the decision to die to, or wake up in her body and keep living without them. That’s the main set-up at least, but is probably the least relevant aspect to the movie’s plot. It’s primarily just a framing device for the romance story between her and Adam (played by Jamie Blackley).

There was nothing wrong with the movie doing this, but it was hurt because the romance just wasn’t all that good. It wasn’t really bad, but it was nothing worth remembering. Their interaction wasn’t anything amazing (maybe because of the dialogue; maybe the actors), and a lot of their conflict with each other felt forced. There’s not a whole lot more criticism I can give it; when you have a romance and the romance isn’t that good, your movie is kinda ruined from being great. Didn’t help that it came off as a bit more manipulative than actually emotional.

That said, there was a lot I liked. Chloe’s performance was great (as expected), and everyone else did fine. I really liked the early scenes in the movie with Mia interacting with her family, especially the mother. The movie has a strong focus on music (since Mia plays the cello, while Adam and her parents are/were also involved in music) and has some really good scenes that come out of that. And while I know I just said it often comes off as more manipulative than emotional, I do think there were some genuinely good emotional scenes that I found sad or touching. They just weren’t consistent enough with it throughout the movie for me.

I’ve heard the book was pretty good, so it’s possible my issues with the movie’s execution are with the actors, or the movie just wasn’t able to go into as much detail as the story needed. Either way, I still liked If I Stay for the good moments that are in it, but I am a little disappointed that it couldn’t live up to its potential.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Saw II

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From a teen romance about musicians to a gory horror film about terrible people being killed in traps. I have very varied taste in films.

Saw II is, surprisingly enough, the sequel to Saw. In this one, the police actually manage to track down Jigsaw to his hideout, only to get distracted trying to track down and take care of one of his games going on that involves eight people being trapped in a house with poison in the air.

The main thing I loved about this movie was Jigsaw himself. Unlike the first movie, he has a real role in this one and is simply glorious. Tobin Bell did a fantastic job playing him, you learn about his backstory and motivations that are very fascinating, and I loved how you can see even more how intelligent he is and how far his advance planning goes (shown even more in future films). His interaction with Detective Matthews is all pretty great.

The part of the film focusing on the people trapped in the house was also pretty good, even if one of the guys is now my most hated character in movie history. There were a lot of creative traps for everyone, some of which were painful just to watch, and they also had a nice mystery going on of how everyone connected and how they need to get out. Wasn’t as strong as the first, but still intriguing.

It admittedly wasn’t as scary as the first one. But it kept that great, eerie atmosphere and (like I said above) had some truly hard to watch scenes that creeped me out. The climax was also really tense and I thought was solid horror.

The acting is an improvement. I already complimented how amazing Tobin Bell is, and I enjoyed Donnie Wahlberg and Shawnee Smith.

I also can’t compliment the ending enough. It once again blew my mind, had a few amazing twists, and really showed how much attention to detail they put into this. I just loved it, and it’s still my favorite Saw movie ending.

I know a lot of people like to say the Saw sequels suck, but I saw this and couldn’t disagree more. I can understand why someone would like the first more and I probably would call it objectively better, but I enjoyed this quite a lot and think it earned its place as a worthy successor.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Saw III

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I’ve seen people say Saw II is decent and this is where the movies started sucking. Once again, I disagree. This one is actually my favorite of the series.

Everything I’ve said before about loving Tobin Bell and the movies’ atmosphere still stand here. However, we get even more from Jigsaw here with. To make it even better, he has regular interaction with my second favorite character of the franchise who’s also a great and fascinating character (won’t go into more detail about them to avoid spoilers). To improve the movie more, the aspect of the films focusing on someone in one of Jigsaw’s games is probably my favorite of the series. It follows a guy named Jeff, who is put through a series of tests that require him to save people responsible in the death of his son so he can let his vengeance go. While that’s all going on, a nurse named Lynn is kidnapped and taken to Jigsaw’s hideout to treat his health issues. Both of these were great. Jeff’s plot was because of how personal it felt compared to the previous films and how conflicted he was, and Lynn’s because I love the interaction she has with other characters.

Still keeps up with horror, but this did bring it down. Still had the great atmosphere, but focused more on gore than anything psychological. That said, there’s one scene involving pig corpses in a slaughter house that I found to be one of the hardest to watch & most disturbing scenes in the franchise. Did help cement my desire to go vegetarian though, and that’s been going nicely.

Ending twist wasn’t quite as strong as the previous two, but it was still good, and I can forgive that due to how phenomenal the climax right before it was (even if how that climax turned out is a questionable decision by the writers).

Biggest issue I have with the movie is the editing in some spots, usually when a character is screaming in a trap or something like that. The camera cuts around so much that it’s just annoying to watch. I think it’s trying to come off as chaotic, but I still didn’t like it.

Despite my little issues, this was pretty great and my favorite of the series.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Divergent

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This movie is one of the most confident I’ve ever seen. Before I even got to the menu on the DVD, I got an ad telling me to download the app and become a true fan. I’m not sure it was justified, but I admire the confidence.

Divergent takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where people are divided into factions. It focuses on a girl named Beatrice Prior/Tris (played by Shailene Woodley), who is told she’s a “Divergent” and won’t fit into the factions, but she tries to anyway. There’s also something in there about corrupt people in charge acting an evil plan that puts everyone in danger (because no movie can ever be about people just peacefully living), but I don’t recall that coming up until the second half and feeling kinda shoehorned in.

I don’t get Divergent. It’s as simple as that; I don’t get it, as my terrible description probably showed. The main thing I remember is Tris being kind of an a-hole when introduced, as her original faction was all about helping people, but she didn’t want to help people with minor things (like picking up something when someone else dropped it) because she wasn’t sure if that’s what she wanted. Why am I supposed to route for her? It certainly isn’t for her deep personality, because she came off as very bland. I did think Shailene Woodley did a solid job playing her, but seemed kinda off. But Woodley showed potential here, and I think could be very good in the right role.

The other main thing I remember is that the world itself didn’t make much sense, specifically the faction system. They’re split into five factions determined by human virtue, and when they turn 16, they can choose which faction to join for the rest of their life (after a test to determine which they’d be best in). But all they ever explain is how everyone acts in them. They never explain how they came up with this idea, or how it works, or how it’s beneficial, or what the point is considering everyone still interacts with each other regularly. Some films can get away with not explaining their worlds completely; you can enjoy the main story of Star Wars or The Hunger Games without knowing the ins & outs of the universe. But considering this film’s main plot is built on the faction system and being Divergent (factionless), it all falls apart when it’s not explained. It’s possible I’m just stupid, but given how obsessive I can get over films, I think I would pick up on it.

Outside of that, there’s not a whole lot for me to say. I didn’t connect with any of the characters (especially Four, I hated him). The plot was hard to get into and just lost me by the end. Finally, nothing really came off as clever or unique about the movie. That said, I still enjoyed this for some reason. Despite not having any real positives besides Shailene Woodley (and I guess the visuals were cool), I was intrigued while watching it and enjoyed it. I did forget about this quickly afterwards, which is why it only gets a 6, but it must be doing something right if I can enjoy it genuinely despite not having many positives.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Saw IV

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It’s just gonna be Saw for the next few entries. Just giving you a warning.

Saw IV gets back to the police investigation aspect of the franchise and features a cop Daniel Rigg (played by Lyriq Bent) who is put through a series of tests that try to teach him to let go with his obsession with saving everyone, while he tries to save his partner.

That plotline was okay, but it felt a little forced. That could probably describe the whole movie. It was okay, and did some nice stuff. I thought Rigg was more likeable than most people put through Jigsaw’s tests, there’s still some great stuff with the traps, and Tobin Bell is amazing as always. Not to mention the twist at the end was good and pretty shocking. But, even though I know they had planned out this movie for a while (at least since during Saw III), it felt kind of forced and like they were just making something to give the franchise a reason to keep continuing.

There’s really not a whole lot to say about this. I enjoy it because it does stuff the other movies did that I liked, and does progress the story a bit, but it’s not as good. I should probably give this a 6, but I’m a Saw fan, which helps my opinion of it.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Saw V

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Knowing this movie is what followed it probably helped my opinion of IV. This is without question my least favorite movie in the franchise.

It’s very hard to talk about the movie it’s impossible to talk about without giving away spoilers for the last two films at least, but I’ll try. It primarily focuses on one character doing stuff and flashbacks showing how they got to this point. It also focuses on a group of characters (one of which is played by Julie Benz, aka Darla from Buffy and Angel. So that was cool for me) that are put through various tests where Jigsaw suggests to do the opposite of their instinct.

The actual games part was okay, but I wasn’t a big fan of it. It wasn’t as personal as in III or IV, it didn’t have as good of a mystery surrounding it as the original, and people trying to work together was already done better in II. The surprise twist of how the traps was also really predictable to me, and characters were only dying because they were stupid.

The flashback stuff involving that guy is better, as it contributes towards the storyline of the series. But it was told really badly, as it jumped all around the timeline and started getting really convoluted. And since the movie didn’t have a good series of tests to go along with it, this plot kinda collapsed and wasn’t enough to carry the movie.

The ending was also kinda bleh. Unlike the previous movies, there’s no real twist. Yet they still act like there is one, even playing the epic twist music. I think they were trying to be unpredictable since having a twist was so expected by this point (that tagline was even “You won’t believe how it ends”), but it was still underwhelming.

I didn’t hate Saw V. It still has the style I like from the previous movies, and it was interesting to see the plot develop and set up the next few movies. But this was by far the weakest.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Saw VI

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After how the last two outings were, this pleasantly surprised me. It wasn’t as great as the first three, but I still found it pretty good.

The movie focuses more on the person from the last movie doing more stuff, but it was much better here. No jumping around in time; it was all told in a coherent way and was actually an interesting story that progresses things quite a bit. They also do some fantastic stuff outside of that, with Jigsaw’s newest game focusing on a health insurance executive responsible for turning away clients and putting them in danger who’s now he’s forced to go through various tests where he’s forced to choose who lives and dies in a more literal way. They did some incredible stuff with that, my favorite being the carousel scene. The climax was fantastic and tense, with some great twists.

Not a whole lot to say, other than this really helped restore the franchise. I don’t know why it did so disappointingly at the box office. I’ll blame Saw V.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Saw: The Final Chapter

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I don’t know if this movie is officially called “Saw 3D” or “Saw: The Final Chapter”, but I’m going to go with Final Chapter. My reason for that is that 1) It makes no sense to call it 3D when I didn’t see it in 3D, and 2) It makes it sound more stupid that they’re making a new Saw movie after a movie called “Saw: The Final Chapter”.

Saw: The Final Chapter starts off weirdly. Like all the movies since II, it focuses on a trap that someone dies horribly in. But this one really makes no sense. It has two guys and a girl locked in a glass room out in public. The girl is hanging above them, the guys are standing on the side, and there’s a giant saw in the middle (the guys are chained to the table it’s connected to). The girl had been cheating on and manipulating both of them, and the guys either had to fight to kill the other with the saw, or let the girl suspend down and be killed by it. I understand the set-up with the Saw, but the location made no sense. It was broad daylight in a highly populated area with a huge crowd around them. 1. What’s the point of giving the audience? 2. How’d Jigsaw set this up with no one noticing? 3. No one in the crowd shows any reaction. One person unsuccessfully tries to break the glass with a briefcase, but no one else tries helping. I’m aware the majority of humans are terrible people, but wouldn’t it be a more natural reaction for them to just run away rather than stand there watching?

Secondly, Jigsaw, we need to talk. Last movie, you went after the head of a massive health insurance company. Here, you’re going after a few horny teens stuck in a love triangle. I’m not saying the girl was a good person, but you really had no bigger targets? You had a similar issue later in the movie where he goes after a group of racists. Not saying being a racist isn’t wrong (it is), but again, does he have no bigger targets to take care of? Though I can forgive that one more since 1) It was a really good & creative trap, and 2) It led to a line I loved (“You judged others by the color of their skin. And today, Evan, you will learn that we are all the same color on the inside.”)

One last point to make before we move on from the intro. This was the first movie to be shown in 3D (thus the “Saw 3D” marketing & possible title). I don’t know what the experience was like in theaters, but it really hurt the movie when watching it on DVD. It made a lot of shots (like the girl’s guts spilling out) look really phony and computerized, which is hard to do for a movie that’s all practical effects and doesn’t use CGI. It didn’t help that we got regular shots that looked awkward because they only existed to showcase 3D. The blood in the movie also looked a lot brighter and more fake which, from my understanding, is because brighter colors make 3D stand out more. I’m not criticizing this as some blood-hungry person who needs gore (I had a hard time watching a lot of the film, and a couple scenes left me feeling disturbed and uncomfortable for days), but this really took away from the danger of the traps and overall feeling of the film.

As for the plot, it partly focuses on a chase scene between two characters (who I won’t go into detail about because of spoilers) and the police finally closing in to capture Jigsaw. They did a good job making this truly feel like the end and a culmination of six films leading up to it, but sadly felt very rushed in a lot of spots. My understanding is that where was meant to be a Saw VII and Saw VIII, but they were only allowed one more after Saw VI under-performed financially, so they had to cram two films worth of plot into one. I still enjoyed what we got, even if it didn’t end the way I was hoping. Though I shouldn’t have been hoping for a happy ending in a horror film.

The rest of the film focuses on Bobby Dagen (played by Sean Patrick Flanery), someone who became famous by writing a book recapping his survival of one of Jigsaw’s games. This is a lie though, as he fabricated the whole thing just for quick fame and success. He’s now truly put into one of Jigsaw’s games and must try to survive and save others who helped him in his lie. I thought this plot was a bit contrived, but I was willing to look past it since it was something new. And they did some more cool stuff during his test, my favorite being with the blindfolded guy. Though once again, this didn’t end like I had hope and was ultimately more depressing than being scary.

Even if it didn’t end the way I wanted, the climax to the earlier chase plot was fantastic. It was tense, scary, kept me on the edge of my seat, etc. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

The film ends with another big plot twist. Part of me likes it since it ties everything back to the original. But on the other hand, I have some issues with it. The biggest is that it doesn’t make much sense. It does explain a lot throughout the franchise, but they never gave a reason to why it happens. I know they didn’t have a lot of time too since the movie was over, but still. I hope Saw: Legacy is able to go into more depth about it.

Despite my many complaints, I did enjoy Saw: The Final Chapter. It was a solid end to a great series.

Overall Rating: 7/10

The Fault in Our Stars

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Hey, I was right about Shailene Woodley!

The Fault in Our Stars is based on the novel of the same name, and is about a cancer patient named Hazel Lancaster (played by Shailene Woodley) who meets a boy named Augustus Waters (played by Ansel Elgort) at a support group. The film focuses on them interacting, their relationship, and falling in love. There’s also some stuff about wanting to meet the author of a book they both loved, but that’s only part of the plot.

Remember when I said earlier that Shailene Woodley could be good in the right role? Well I was right. She was fantastic here, and I really liked Hazel as a character.

Willem Dafoe is also in this, and while he’s not a central character, he does the most with his screen time and gives a fantastic performance. As much as I liked Woodley, he stole the show for me.

My biggest problem with the movie is Augustus. First off, the name is stupid. Secondly, he came off as kind of smug a lot of the time. He didn’t hurt the film, as I did like his relationship with Hazel a lot, but there were a few times he was annoying. I think it was more the actor than the script, but still.

But like I said, I really enjoyed the relationship between Hazel & Augustus. I thought all their interaction with each other was sweet and fun. I thought the story told was good and pretty emotional, with moments of humor and sadness balanced out nicely.

I’m not good at breaking down a romance, since there’s not much to say besides whether or not I liked the cast & relationship. But I loved this movie quite a lot.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Crimson Peak

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Why do I keep going from romance to horror, then back to romance, then back to horror?

Crimson Peak is an odd movie for me. I remember many scenes from the movie very well, so it’s not forgettable. But when I sit here trying to recap the plot, I’m struggling to remember what it was. IMDB’s description is: “In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers.”

Despite not remember the plot much, I really enjoyed this movie. Tom Hiddleston’s performance was fantastic, and the rest of the cast did a nice job. The overall visual design of the film looked great (I love the clothes from this time period), and there were some amazing designs & special effects on the ghosts. It was an extremely creepy movie. The climax was fantastic.

This is one of those movies I have issues talking about, but I really liked it.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Batman: The Killing Joke

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I always thought there was no point in making this movie. I was proven correct.

Batman: The Killing Joke is an animated movie based on The Killing Joke comic, one of the most famous and acclaimed Batman stories ever. They even brought back Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to reprise their iconic roles Batman and the Joker for it. It sounds nice, but here’s the thing: The Killing Joke was an acclaimed and beloved comic that no one is going to want to make changes to it. Combine that with the fact that it’s already a pretty short story that can’t fill up more than about 40 minutes, and making this movie was just a bad idea.

The main plot is the exact same as the book. Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and attempts to drive him insane through one bad day, while Batman attempts to stop him. We also have flashbacks of Joker’s origin throughout the story. It is a very good story, but I’ve already experienced it. They make absolutely no changes. This is partly enjoyable since I’m a fan of the book. But it makes me question what the purpose was if they were just going to tell the exact same story. They didn’t summarize it like most book-to-movie adaptions do (the book’s too short to summarize). They didn’t add any scenes to flesh stuff out in the way that stuff like Flashpoint Paradox did. They just do a basic panel-by-panel copy of the original book and I question what the point was. I could read the dialogue while imagining the voices of Conroy & Hamill. The animation looks really lazy, with the comic art looking much better. I don’t think the animated movies do enough business from a casual audience (especially with the R rating) to say it’s meant to expose more people to the story. So what was the point of this?

And yes, I know they added about a half-hour of new stuff focusing on Batgirl. I don’t count that as them adding new stuff though, because it has nothing to do with anything. It doesn’t have anything to do with Barbara getting shot later. It doesn’t provide anything to set up Joker. It does nothing. You could cut out that entire intro and you wouldn’t miss anything in the plot. So I don’t count that as adding something new to the story.

Also, outside of Conroy & Hamill, the voice acting is really lackluster. Tara Strong does okay as Barbara, but nothing great. Everyone else is either forgettable or just sounds bored (the doctor in that Barbara hospital scene comes to mind).

This wasn’t terrible. Conroy & Hamill are fantastic, and it’s based on a very good story. I just question the overall purpose of the movie, and the execution was kinda lackluster.

Overall Rating: 6/10

The Secret Life of Pets

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This was a weird movie to end the year on. But my mom got it for Christmas and I watched it with her. After that, I spent most of my free time re-watching Sherlock to be ready for the new season. So I ended my film watching of the year with this on Christmas day. There are worse ways it could have ended.

The Secret Life of Pets is in a world where animals talk when humans aren’t around. It’s about a dog named Max who loves his life and his owner, but feels jealous when she gets a new dog named Duke. After he acts like a jerk for a bit to try to take care of him, they both end up getting lost and have to work together to get home. And yes, this basically is Toy Story with animals. To be fair though, the other pets go out of their house to try and find Max and Duke, which is more of a Toy Story 2 rip-off than Toy Story.

This was an alright movie depending on what you want. The plot is unoriginal, and most of the characters aren’t fleshed out (even compared to something like Toy Story). But if you just want to see animals doing cute stuff, you’ll probably like this. There was some funny humor in this, and cute moments. I enjoyed some of the side characters, like Chloe and Pops. While he wasn’t a favorite, I also really liked Snowball and thought he was a very creative idea. The animation was nice, and the voice acting was pretty good.

Not a whole lot to say about the movie. It’s just a nice little animated film with some cute & funny moments, even if it’s nothing special.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Conclusion

Thank you to anyone who read this and I hope you liked it (even if you disagree with me). I enjoyed writing it. If anyone’s curious what my favorite movie of the bunch was, I’d probably go with Mr. Nobody.

I watched surprisingly little crap this year, and I hope it continues in 2017, which looks to have potential for films. Logan looks amazing, I’m excited for Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Saw: Legacy, and Star Wars Episode VIII, and Wonder Woman and Justice League have potential. There’s also some 2016 movies I missed and want to catch, such as Arrival, Hidden Figures, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Doctor Strange, and possibly Assassin’s Creed and Neighbors 2.

Once again, thank you to anyone still reading. If I’m not dead, I’ll probably do this again next year.

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Some thoughts on new Iron Man/Marvel right now

So, yesterday, Marvel officially announced that Tony Stark will be stepping down as Iron Man and a new character will be taking his place as Iron Man. It’s not what you’d expect...

No matter what your thoughts on this are, can we at least agree that the art is great?
No matter what your thoughts on this are, can we at least agree that the art is great?

The new Iron Man is Riri Williams, a recently created character that’s been appearing in The Invincible Iron Man. People have had a lot to say on it, not a lot of it being good from what I’ve seen. A lot seem to be talking about Marvel forcing diversity, pushing an agenda, etc. I’m not here to talk about race & gender, so I won’t even attempt to (though I will say that no one complains when a white male takes another heroes’ mantle. Bucky, Scott Lang, Eric Materson, etc). There’s more here I’d like to discuss.

While talking about the situation with a friend yesterday, I started just talking about Riri but it moved into me discussing Marvel in general right now, as they’ve been having a lot of hero names/mantles being passed down (Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, & Hulk all come to mind). It was more in-depth than I ever get about comics, and I was impressed enough that I wanted to publicly share them and maybe get some conversations going. So, I’m gonna start on that.

My thoughts on Riri becoming Iron Man are pretty simple: It’s too early to have any thoughts on it. We don’t know the full details or circumstances behind her becoming Iron Man, what the stories are going to be like, or even much about her as a character. She seems cool from the little bit I’ve seen of her in Invincible Iron Man, but I don’t feel I’ve seen enough of her to truly get excited for her in the role. This is some valid criticism, as they probably should have given her more development before putting her in such a huge role. But I assume she will be fleshed out more after taking the role, and I am interested to see how it’s handled. If she sucks and the book is a flop, I’ll gladly criticize it with everyone else. But for now, I think we should wait and see what happens.

There isn’t much more I have to say about Riri, but it got me thinking a lot about Marvel in general and them having new people taking up old mantles. It’s been happening a lot in recent years. I know it’s gonna be an unpopular opinion here, but the more I think about it, the more I like that they’re doing this. I have a couple reasons for liking it, which I’ll do my best to explain.

Firstly, I appreciate that they’re trying to do new things with the characters. They’ve been around for decades, which I think makes it harder to come up with new story ideas for. So when they do come up with some new ideas like they’ve been doing, I think they should at least be given a chance. I know you could say these aren’t actual ideas and they’re just cheap gimmicks, and I think an argument for that could be made sometimes. But I also think changing the hero using a name/mantle can lead to some creative stories. A good example is everything going on with Thor. Someone new wielding mjolnir can lead to some new & interesting stories, and while it has been done before, I don’t think it’s been done in a similar way to this. Eric Materson did take over as Thor when he had the hammer, but Odinson disappeared during that time. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Eric also tried posing as Odinson rather than publicly saying there was a new Thor. Aside from how someone taking over for Thor is being executed, along with who obviously has the hammer, Odinson is still around and they’re doing some interesting stuff with him being unworthy and everything. I’m not saying all this has been perfect (I have some issues with it), but I appreciate them trying something new. Personally, I’d prefer to see them try new things and fail than re-hash the same things over and over. That might be safer, but it’s also very boring.

I’m not saying that passing on mantles to new characters is the only way to come up with new story ideas. The current Spider-Man series is a good example of that, as it’s doing something new while keeping Peter, and while I have some issues with the book, I like that it’s experimenting. I had the same thoughts a few years ago with Superior Spider-Man (except I liked that book more). But if a lot of the ideas they’re having are for characters taking up others’ mantles, I think they should be allowed to try it and see how it goes. Again, it allows them do something different, which I like.

Another reason I kinda like what they’re doing is that I generally really like the idea other characters (new or old) taking other heroes’ mantles. I think it makes the heroes seem more historic and iconic, because it kinda shows how their actions have inspired others to step up and follow in their footsteps.

The one problem with this is that it’s over-done and often seems like a cheap gimmick to temporarily get interest & boost sales (and it often is). Even if it’s more than that and they’re doing interesting things, it’s always hurt and harder to get into because you know the original will be back (Steve is already back, and I’m predicting Odinson will be back as Thor within a year). I have a suggestion to fix that that Marvel will never do, but I’d like to see: Take all this a step further and have some characters permanently step down with new characters (“new” can include old characters in new roles like Laura & Sam, or entirely new ones like Riri) taking up their roles. I think it would require a lot of creativity, would stand out as something ball-sy to do, will mean characters dying or stepping down won’t feel like a cheap gimmick since it’s unlikely they’ll be back, and like I said earlier, it makes them seem more historic & iconic. I also think it would help the heroes’ legacy. Having them step down having inspired others makes them look really good and like the iconic, larger-than-life figures they are, and it saves them from having to suffer through terrible stories because writers don’t know what to do. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’d rather see my favorite characters look good & be retired than have them suffer through more stories like Clone Saga, One More Day, or whatever’s going on now with Cap being part of Hydra.

Not saying all hero mantles should be passed down to new characters. Some wouldn't feel right being passed on to someone else, and some characters should do their own thing rather than follow someone else. But for some bigger characters it would work for, I'd kinda like to see it done in a more permanent way.

Those are just some thoughts I’ve had about what Marvel’s been up to lately, hopefully explained well. I’m not saying they’re perfect in their execution of everything (if they want to do what I said and phase out the old characters, they’re doing it to way too many at once), but I like the basic idea of what they’re doing and am interested to see what else they decide to do. Based on how people on this site act, I assume people will want to call me an SJW for my thoughts & liking this, but I really don’t care. I’d rather have people parroting the same over-used & meaningless insult towards me than immediately get angry & bitter over anything new and a company tries without even knowing much information.

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