Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

So what can I say about Age of Ultron. Well, it’s not as good as the first movie, not by a longshot, but it’s a little tough to figure out why. Maybe it was because of the much more convoluted plot. Maybe it was the awkward pacing. Maybe it was this one’s far lesser ability to juggle all it’s characters than the last one. But at the end of the day it just didn’t feel as special. Somehow when the Avengers leap into a 40 minute long battle with a massive army of easily defeat-able identical looking canon fodder it just isn’t as exciting as it was the first time. Now, it sounds like I’m shitting on this movie kind of a lot, but I actually did like it. Vision was really really cool, I loved the Black Widow/Hulk romance, and I think Hawkeye actually ended up stealing the whole movie. Like I said tho, this movie does not do a great job balancing all it’s characters, and I kind of felt like Captain America and Thor didn’t have a lot to do other than hit stuff. Even Iron Man, who seemingly should be the emotional thrust of the movie having accidentally created the main villain, doesn’t feel like a huge presence during most of the third act. As for the plot, it was pretty goddamn convoluted. I feel like a lot of what held it back is the unnecessary inclusion of the mind gem. Yes, Thanos is out there collecting infinity stones, and I know Marvel likes their super long buildups, but we got so much of that shit in Guardians last year. We all know Infinity War is coming, you don’t have to try to smush all the crazy cosmic shit together what should have been a fairly simple and earthbound story about an evil robot trying to break up the Avengers. It really just makes it confusing for the non-comic readers. Hell, even I found it confusing, and I know all about this shit.

But lets’ talk new characters: first off, Vision. Fucking awesome. ‘Nuff said. As for the twins, I actually really liked Quicksilver. I mean he didn’t steal the show or anything, but he did a great job playing a pissed off young guy, and he had some pretty funny lines. And while it was no Days of Future Past sequence, the super speed effect was actually pretty cool. Scarlet Witch was pretty meh, tho. I mean, as a comic fan it bugs me that instead of giving her reality altering abilities they just made it telekinesis and telepathy, but I get why they did that for the sake of the audience. It’s more so that just doesn’t seem to have any real character of charisma. She’s just sort of moody the whole time. I guess maybe it’s just cause she doesn’t get enough screentime, but hell, who does in this movie. I guess maybe we’ll see a little more of them in six months when they release the extended version (which yes, they are doing, because apparently they cut out almost an hour). Also maybe we can find out what the hell the deal was with that whole Thor subplot that lasted two scenes and made no sense. But what about the man himself. Or, robot, I guess. Fucking James Spader. A big complaint about these Marvel movies, or at least the ones in this universe, has always been the lack of compelling villains. Most of them just sort of go crazy for no reason, usually resulting in them copying the hero’s abilities somehow. Even Loki, charismatic as he is, isn’t really a match for the Avengers. This movie came with the promise that Ultron would finally be an interesting, compelling villain for this super-team to go toe-to-toe with. And, well, they didn’t do a great job. I mean I wanted to get behind the idea that his flawed programming causes him to believe that the only peaceful world is one without humans, but every time he talks he just sounds so full of shit. He’s always going on about evolution and junk, and how people need to evolve to survive, and it’s like dude, you’re trying to wipe out all life on earth, that’s not how evolution works. And he goes out like a bitch near the end, anyway. Overall this movie is still super entertaining. There’s lots of fun Whedon dialogue (some have said too much, but I’m into it), there’s cool comic book action (the Hulkbuster fight is definitely a highlight, although I sort of wish it had held more weight in the actual story), and the way all the characters interact is really great. They really feel like they’ve been a team for a while, and I gotta say every performance is awesome. Btw, shoutout to Linda Cardellini, nice to see ya gettin work, girl. Overall, it kind of just feels like there was too much going on here to get all into one movie, and again, maybe the extended cut will fix that, but watching it today I kind of just wish they had cut back on a few ideas and tried to tell a simpler story. If you’re a massive marvel fan like me I would tell you to see it, although you no doubt already have. However, if you’re an average movie-goer looking for as good a time as you had watching the first Avengers, this isn’t really that.  

Overall Rating: Ultron’s funny little robot eyebrows/10

In Defense Of Ewoks

So I’ve kind of had Star Wars on the brain recently. I guess it started with that Force Awakens trailer a few weeks back, which inspired me to blow about 60 bucks on a new version of the original trilogy. (This one is the ’95 VHS digital remaster, theatrical cut, in widescreen, really the only way to go if you don’t want to watch the Special Editions). Anyway, when I was a kid Return of the Jedi was always my favourite. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that Empire Strikes Back really is the better film, but I’ve never understood the problem a lot of people seem to have with Jedi. It’s almost universally regarded as the worst in the trilogy, and I’ve even heard people say it’s on par with Revenge of the Sith. That’s outrageous. That’s blasphemy. But I’m not hear to talk about why all three prequels are the absolute worst of filmmaking and storytelling ever put on screen. I’m here to figure out why people hate Return of the Jedi so much. And the answer that everyone seems to give is the ewoks.

People really hate these furry little cocksuckers, saying that they’re the beginning of George Lucas’s transformation into a greedy asshole, and that they were only there to sell toys. Well, the real reason the ewoks exist is that originally when Jorge wrote the trilogy, he created the wookies for the role of the ewoks at the end, but then when he decided to only make the first act of his trilogy into a movie, he used a wookie as Han’s co-pilot because he liked the idea so much and wasn’t sure if he would ever make the actual part of the story with the wookies. Then when they finally did make the third movie, they didn’t want to use a creature we had already scene before, so George just, as he put it, “cut the wookies in have, and there you have the ewoks”.

Now regardless of whether or not you think that the climax of the movie would have been better with an army of wookies (spoiler: it definitely would have), I really don’t see any inherent problem with the ewoks. Cause I mean kind of the whole point of Star Wars is like subverting expectations. The idea that you’re not defined by your outside characteristics. A simple farmboy can be a great hero. A funny little green swamp creature can be a wise and noble jedi master. A race of fuzzy cute little bear things can be a mighty warrior force capable of crushing the empire. And I mean really, the ewoks are some of the bravest fighters we see in the whole trilogy. They put there lives on the line, and they kick total ass. We even see them actually die in battle, which is more than a little disturbing if you actually go back and watch that scene. They’re the real heroes of the movie if you think about it, and the fact that they look so innocent makes it all the more unexpected and original. And all people ever seem to say is “uh, it’s dumb that the empire got defeated by a bunch of dumb bears”. I mean, I would by no means call the ewoks my favourite thing in the trilogy, but I think that’s a total bullshit complaint. And btw, as for the argument that they make the the movie too “light, and kid-y”, I’ll remind you that the whole rest of Jedi is pretty fucking dark, you take out the ewoks and that movie would have made people want to slit their wrists.

Anyway, as for Return of the Jedi as a whole, it does have some flaws. I feel like it kind of has no second act. Like you go from the Jabba opening, which is really great, and then you have the whole climax which is sick, but there’s kind of long a period in between where nothing really memorable happens. It could have used maybe one more plot point, right in the middle. I guess that would have made it kind of long, but maybe they could have cut out some of the Endor stuff. I DON’T KNOW, OK, I’m just saying it’s not super well paced. But other than that there are just as many amazing new concepts and super memorable moments as the previous two movies. But for me what more than makes up for its flaws and made it my favourite in the trilogy for so long is all the stuff with the Emperor. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Everything that takes place in the throne room with Luke, Vader, and the Emperor is that best part of the entire trilogy. Better than anything in Star Wars or Empire. That is the definitive highlight of the whole series. And yes, Empire is still better, because it is more consistent. It’s like if they were getting scored at the olympics, and Empire gets 9s across the board, and then Jedi gets like a 4, a 7, and a 10. Empire still wins, but Jedi remains the only one of the two to hit 10. If that makes any sense. Anyway. I’m afraid the deflector shields will be quite operational when your friends arrive.

Furious 7 Review

So the new Fast & Furious movie is out and fucking everybody is talking about it all of the sudden. I mean, two years ago when I did my review of the sixth movie, I couldn’t even get anyone to come see it with me. I guess more people have realized just how goddamn hilarious these movies are. Anyway, this, like any good Fast sequel, is essentially just the last movie but stupider. Except this one has Jason motherfucking Statham, man. He’s so badass. Just bein’ British and hitting people. He even kicks the Rock’s ass in this movie, and it’s definitely one of the better fights. Also Kurt Russell just walks into the middle of this movie out of nowhere, and his character is basically Nick Fury. They also really go hamm with the Roman Peirce one liners in this one, and it really gives Tyrese a chance to constantly make a fool out of himself throughout the movie. There’s also waaayy more lingering ass shots in this one. Sure, that was always a staple of the franchise, but it really gets ridiculous in this movie. I mean, that picture up there pretty much sums it up; butts and cars, that’s what these movies are about. And “bullets”, if you ask Paul Walker’s character. That’s the major bummer of this movie; Paul Walker. His character kind of dips in and out of the movie, and there are several major sequences he seems strangely absent from. Not only does this bring the movie down because his character is so inconsistent, but it reminds you WHY he’s not in those scenes, and that really kills the mood of the funny bad over the top action. Even worse is when at the end, after no foreshadowing whatsoever, Vin Diesel’s character suddenly start saying his goodbyes to him. He goes off on a whole thing about how Brian need to “be with his family now” (hey, I thought you were all family). We then see an obviously CGI Paul Walker deliver a few final lines that are obviously edited together from different audio clips, before they cut to a full blown montage of scene with him from the last six films, before finally ending the movie with “For Paul”. It’s a nice little tribute, but it kind of comes out of nowhere. And yes, I understand that they reason they couldn’t foreshadow his departure very well was that he wasn’t alive to film it, but it’s still a sudden and awkward shift right in the last five minutes. Aside from that, this latest entry might be the worst/most entertaining of the whole franchise, so grab some buds, grab some beers, go laugh at Vin Diesel surviving horrific car wreck after horrific car wreck, and try not to think about the sad irony of Paul Walker’s real life inability to do that exact thing.

Overall Rating: Butts/10

Batman & Robin Freeze Puns

Total number of freeze, ice, or cold related puns: 39

Character who makes the most freeze puns: Mr. Freeze, with 23

First Freeze pun in the movie: “The Iceman Cometh” -Mr. Freeze

Last Freeze pun in the movie: “Winter has come at last” -Mr. Freeze

Stupidest Freeze Pun in the movie: “In this universe there’s only one absolute: everything freezes!” -Mr. Freeze

Best Freeze Pun in the movie: “You know what killed the dinosaurs? The ice age!” -Mr. Freeze

Fastest streak of continuous freeze puns: 5 puns in 24 seconds, during the scene where Mr. Freeze is talking to Vivica A. Fox, from “Freezie, I’m feeling hot” to “Talk about your cold shoulder”.

Best Non-Freeze Pun in the movie: When Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy are crafting their plan to freeze over earth and start a new society in its place, Poison Ivy says: “We will be the only two people left in the world”, and Mr. Freeze responds: “Yes. Adam…and EVIL!”

Money Earned domestically in opening weekend box office sales: $42,872,605, the third highest gross of summer 1997.

The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition Review

The MPAA sucks. And since the MPAA sucks, we can’t get a mainstream action movie nowadays that has any blood or swearing. Which is why all the blood and swearing were edited out of The Wolverine when it was released theatrically, and we had to wait for the blu-ray release for the originally intended unrated cut. And I’ve got to tell you, it’s a much better movie. Not only is it so insanely satisfying to finally see blood splatters when Wolverine stabs people, but there’s actually several additional sequences and extended action scenes. Most notably, there’s a scene near the end of the movie when Logan is driving towards the final boss fight on his motorcycle, and he gets stopped in an empty snow covered village and has to fight a bunch of ninjas. In the theatrical version, the scene is super short, and kind of feels weird and out of place. Wolverine just walks in, sees all the guys with arrows, starts running, and then almost immediately gets shot with so many arrows that he falls down and passes out. In the unrated scene, there’s about a huge crazy battle that last about ten minutes, the centrepiece of which is Wolverine riding on top of a thrasher while ninja after ninja gets sucked into the blades and sprayed out as mist. It’s a really awesome scene, and maybe the highlight of the whole movie. There’s also a scene early on where Wolverine stabs a guy in the chest, and you see the claws come out through his back. That was kind of out of nowhere, but I felt it deserves mentioning. Anyway, if you were as lukewarm on The Wolverine as I was, this cut will do a much better job of satisfying your taste for awesome Wolverine action. It’s really a shame that the censorship laws are what they are, because Wolverine is really a character that works well with this kind of violence and swearing, and I suspect that the same is true for a lot of superheroes. The new Netflix Daredevil show promises some bloody violence, and hopefully they’ll have the balls to make Deadpool R-rated. Hopefully this will show people that the superhero genre doesn’t necessarily have to bow to the PG13 rating, and hopefully we won’t have to wait for more unrated blu ray editions to see some more bloody stabbin’ action from ol’ Logan.

Overall Rating: Violence Makes Everything Better/10

How They Should Do The New Spider-Man

Hey, Sony, if you’re looking for a great plot for the new Spider-Man movie coming out in 2017 that ties into the MCU, you guys should do Kraven’s Last Hunt. Since we both know you guys have never read a Spider-Man comic, let me explain the story; Kraven the Hunter defeats Spider-Man, drugs him, and buries him alive. Then he puts on Spidey’s costume and goes out to kill a super villain called Vermin to prove that he’s better than Spider-Man. Eventually we see Spidey burst out of the ground just like in Kill Bill Vol. 2. The thing’s told mainly from Kraven’s perspective and it’s all about how he sees Spider-Man as this force of nature that’s ruining his life. Since Spider-Man stories are always from Peter’s perspective, and the series so heavily focuses on the relatability of the character, it’s an interesting deconstruction to see how Spider-Man is viewed through his enemies eyes. And it has a really dark ending, wherein Kraven finally realizes that Spider-Man is just a normal guy behind the mask, and having lost his immortal tormentor, he no longer has a purpose, and the comic ends with him sticking a shotgun in his mouth. It’s a completely different story archetype from the one we’ve seen over and over again in the last five Spidey movies, and it would give us an interesting and different villain who happens to be a fan favourite. You could also swap out the Vermin role in the comics with the Lizard, and we could see a way cooler version of that character than we got in ASM1. Plus we would get to see him and Kraven fight, and two villains fighting is something really cool we haven’t seen yet in a Spider-Man movie. And since we just saw the Lizard on screen, people already know who he is and we wouldn’t have to set up his origin at all, which would allow him to be featured without requiring too much screentime or focus, which is how you avoid “villain-overload”. The comic version also has a heavy focus on Mary Jane’s struggle with worrying about Peter when he’s out fighting crime, and how she deals with it, which is a really interesting angle on that character that we haven’t seen before in the movies. Also, yeah, we’re starting where MJ already knows who he is, because that’s when she gets interesting, and the whole thing where he keeps being late to stuff and she gets mad at him but he can’t tell her that it was cause he’s Spider-Man is super stale and boring. And again, yes, MJ is the love interest, because not everything has to be exactly like the comics and frankly Gwen Stacy isn’t nearly as interesting of a character. Now, of course I have to bring up the whole Miles Morales thing: Look, I think it would be cool to see Miles Morales in a movie, and I totally get the need to make this new Spidey seem distinct from the last two. But Peter Parker has been Spider-Man for the last fifty years, and we haven’t seen that character done well in a long time. And if we’re setting up Spider-Man in the Marvel universe, we need to see Peter Parker done justice as a character. Having said that, the MCU is clearly planning ahead pretty far into the future, and I think there’s plenty of room for Miles to come later. In ten years, when they need Spider-Man for Avengers 6, and the actor who plays Peter Parker is in his thirties, then we can have him hang up the mask and see Miles Morales become Spider-Man. If they use MM right off the bat now, they not only rob us of a proper interpretation of Peter Parker, but they limit their options for the future of the franchise. So that would be my ideal version of the new Spider-Man movie, but whatever Sony and Marvel end up doing I’m just excited to see a new actor play the character, to see some villains we haven’t seen before, and to hopefully not see the exact same story we’ve seen in every other Spider-Man movie. And also hopefully the Marvel studios involvement will prevent Sony or churning out a nonsensical clusterfuck of irrelevant subplots and poorly written characters. Oh, and also, please hire an actor who’s actually a teenager. Nobody’s buying these 30 year old actors as high school seniors.

Kingsman: The Secret Service Review

Kingsman: The Secret Service, also known as that movie with the long uninteresting title that no one can remember, is the latest movie by director Matthew Vaughan, who also directed X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass, and is based on a comic by Mark Millar, who wrote, among other things, the Kick-Ass comics. This movie has a lot of similarities to both of those films. It has the same feel of light-hearted, heightened reality fun, mixed with a lot of the meta-commentaries on the genre. It’s essentially a modern day self aware spy thriller, and they even go out of their way to mention the old Roger Moore Bond movies. I knew pretty much what kind of movie I was in for going into the theatre, having seen lots of ads, but one thing that threw me was the R rating. (Technically 14A in Canada). I thought it was going to be more kid friendly, and when people started throwing around f-bombs and blood started to fly everywhere it was really a pleasant surprise. The movie had some really great action sequences, which were not only bloody and fun to watch, but were also some of the best shot fight scenes I’ve seen a while. There’s lots of long takes, and most of the actors do all their own stunts. They use excellent choreography to make fights believable, instead of using quick cuts so that you can’t tell what’s happening. I kind of wish all action movies were shot like this. As for the cast, the main kid was likeable, but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that Colin Firth steals the whole show. He’s really fun to watch, and some of the stunts he actually does himself are pretty impressive. I sort of which he got more screentime. Samuel L. Jackson was also pretty entertaining as a villain, but he’s chewing scenery pretty hard and the lisp he does kept making me laugh. The only major flaw of this movie, other than a few minor plotholes I noticed, was how nuts everything got in the last act. Kick Ass had a similar problem with the whole jetpack thing. It’s not the worst thing ever, but the movie gets a little carried away with itself.  If you liked either Kick Ass or X-Men: First Class, you’ll probably like this. And if you haven’t seen either of those but you like fun stylized over the top action that doesn’t require you to take it too seriously, then I guarantee you this is a good time at the movies. Especially for fucking February.

Overall Rating: Roger Moore/10