Ghostbusters (2016) Review

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I’ve noticed this thing about a lot of recent comedy movies. No, not just that they’re bad, I mean something else. See I think the last sort of wave of comedy movies that anyone really responded to were like those Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow movies from like ten years ago. You know, like Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin. And what made those movies so funny is all the improv between the actors. They didn’t really write jokes, it was just kind of them all reacting to stuff and riffing off each other, and somehow it worked. And I think a lot of movies since have been trying and spectacularly failing at doing the same thing. It seems like a lot of directors think they can just stick any four funny people in front of the camera without writing any jokes for them and expect it to be gold. The thing is, Seth Roger and Jason Segel and Martin Starr and Jay Baruchel and Jonah Hill and Judd Apatow have all spent years hanging out and smoking weed and writing comedy together. They literally become famous off of just trying to make each other laugh. So when you get them all together in a movie, their natural rapport and comfort and developed timing with each other all translates to the audience, and it’s effortlessly funny. But there are so many points in not just this new Ghostbusters movie, but also every other Paul Feig movie I’ve seen, where the rhythm and the timing and the framing all suggest that what the character is saying should be a big funny punchline and it’s just nothing. It’ll be like some generic understated reaction line, and it just comes across like there was no joke written, and they couldn’t think of anything funny to improv. And it’s not that they’re not funny actors who are capable of improv, but unless you have the exact right group of actors and director, you just can’t hang a whole movie on improv alone. At some point you have to write some jokes.

Speaking of actors, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth completely stole the show. Like I said, most of the jokes are just the characters reacting to wacky scenarios, and Leslie Jones’s reactions are genuinely the funniest. As for Chris Hemsworth, I can’t tell if he’s actually a really great comedic actor or if it’s just his accent, but every line he had made me laugh. Kate McKinnon was also really good, in the sense that her character was this ridiculous, over-the-top cartoon character who belonged in a completely different movie, but was super fun to watch. The two real let downs are Melissa McCarthy, who I dislike generally (being exassebated and having a midwestern accent isn’t a comedic persona), but who was tolerable in this, and Kristen Wiig, who gave a suprsisingly bad performance. Normally she’s funny, but it’s like she has no fucking idea what she’s doing in this movie. Like I think what happened is they sort of tried to make her the main character, which meant she had to be really grounded and relatable, so instead of letting Kristen Wiig like come up with a funny character to do, like they did with Kate McKinnon, they just made her play like “the normal girl”. So all she has to fall back on to try to be funny is that whole awkward thing she does, which stretched out over two hours with nothing else and no written jokes quickly becomes pretty painful.

Oh yeah, two hours, this movie is too long by like 40 minutes. What happened to a nice, brisque 90 minutes comedy? They’re all super long now. Even the best comedic premise wears thin after the two hour mark. Learn to edit, Paul Fieg. (Feig? Fieg. I can’t rememeber how I spelled it last time. Spellcheck says they’re both wrong. I’m not googling it). Some of the actual ghost stuff was better than I thought it would be, too. The trailers make it look like they’re all just generic, but there are some interesting ones, once you get over the fact they’re all CG. There’s also way more of a focus on the development of the ghost fighting tech, which is kind of cool if you’re a nerd. One thing I really didn’t like was the “final boss” ghost, tho. I’m just gonna spoil it, who cares. The bad guy asks them to choose their destructor form, and they ask for a “friendly cartoon ghost”. So it literally turns into an animated version of the Ghostubsters logo, which then turns giant and realistic and starts fighting them. Which is stupid enough on it’s own, but like, there’s a moment in the trailer where you see Stay-Puft, right, and I was like “oh no, they’re doing stay-puft again”. But then in the actual movie it turns out it’s just a Stay-Puft balloon that gets possessed along with a whole Macy’s parade, so it’s more of a reference than anything else. But then like two seconds later this thing asks them to pick a destructor form and then proceeds to transform into a giant white chubby cartoon character with a bowtie. So what the fuck was even the point? Either do Stay-Puft or don’t. Anyway it would probably be a stretch to call this movie good but if you mentally divorce it from the original and just compare it to the average modern day bright loud crap, then it’s completely fine. 

Overall Rating: And really with the whole calling out your own youtube haters thing? You know you give them the power when you do that. So childish. Who are you, Kevin Smith?/10

X-Men: Acapycolypse Review

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They did it, you guys. They fucked it again. Ten years ago, fox had a pretty successful little X-Men trilogy going, and then they completely fucked their third movie. Like Spider-Man 3 fucked it. Then they resorted to spinoff prequel solo movies, but the first one they made was so bad that they completely abandoned that idea. At this point you would have thought the X-Men movies were pretty much dead, but then a guy named Matthew Vaughn stepped in and completely refreshed the franchise. His reboot/prequel was so good it warranted a time travel sequel that reunited both the old and young casts and even featured the return of original director Bryan Singer, who despite having made an awful Superman movie, an awful WWII movie, and an awful…Jack and The Beanstalk movie? had yet to make a bad X-Men movie. And Days of Future Past might actually be my favourite X-Men movie. It’s a great homage to the original movies while still feeling fresh and taking advantage of the younger cast, the time travel is simple and makes sense and is well executed, and it’s even got the perfect use of Wolverine, as a vessel to carry the story forward, but leaving the heavy lifting to Xavier and Magneto character and emotion-wise. But more importantly it uses time travel to wipe the slate clean of the previous movies, and it was set up to give us a fresh start with an unsullied continuity. And then they fucked it again.

There are a lot of problems with X-Men: Apocalypse, but I think I’m going to start with the thing that disappointed me the most; Magneto. I’m also gonna start spoiling shit. Who cares, it’s been out for like a month. Magneto starts this movie living a normal life, not using his powers, with a wife a kid, under an assumed name. Right off the bat that’s incredibly disappointing. I mean, at the end of the last movie when he flies off it seems like he’s got some big plans. Then you find out he just spent the last ten years working in a steel mill and nailing some broad. Then when his family dies (which is actually a pretty good scene) he just agrees to help some blue guy he’s never heard of destroy the world. First of all, that kind of senseless mass destruction has never been Magneto’s modus operandi. But even if you concede that the convenient death of his totally manufactured family was enough to cause him to lose total faith in everything and just start wrecking shop, the Magneto I know and love would at least do it on his own fucking terms. Instead he’s just some lame-ass second fiddle. And at the end, he just becomes a good guy again for no reason. Like he’s hanging out in the mansion with the X-Kids and Charlie’s all “see you later old friend” despite the fact that he just murdered millions of people. But like, see, they’re trying to find all this shit for Magneto to do. Like they don’t know what to do with him, so they’re like giving him all these subplots and secret families and having him switch sides on everybody. But like, why the fuck don’t they know what to do with Magneto?

Just make him the villain. It’s so obvious. That’s the whole point. That’s what you’ve been building towards for the last two movies. Magneto is one of the greatest comicbook villains of all time, he’s so complex and interesting, and we have yet to see Michael Fassbender actually play him as fully realized, villain Magneto. And don’t you want to see that? You see they have the one thing that’s so hard to get right in a superhero movie: a great bad guy. I mean anybody can throw together a fun team of superheroes (well, not DC, but almost anybody), but giving them someone to go up against who’s just as interesting is almost impossible. And here they have it, sitting on a golden fucking platter and they’re fucking wasting him. Stop with the backstory, stop with “proto-Magneto”, just make him fucking Magneto already. Just give him a helmet and have him go assemble a brotherhood of mutants. You have an amazing actor, an amazing character, and now two movies worth of set up to make us actually care and relate to him while still rooting against him. And think about how interesting that would be; I mean, in the first X-Men we just saw Magneto as the villain. Sure he had sympathetic elements, but he was the bad guy and the X-Men were the good guys and it had clearly been that way for years. But now that we’ve gone back and actually seen the schism between him and Xavier it gives us a whole new perspective when this new team of young X-Men are suddenly told to go fight him. Maybe it’s even a reason for them to question Professor X’s leadership, like he doesn’t tell them about his previous relationship with Magneto, and there’s a breaking of trust. I don’t know, there’s a lot you could do there.

Maybe that sounds a bit simplistic, but that’s my point. This movie should have been a lot simpler. We’re trying to re-introduce the X-Men here. Storm, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, they should be the main characters. And if the only plot was them going up against Magneto, then they could have been. We could have just spent the whole movie getting to know these characters, like we never got a chance to in the first trilogy while everyone was so busy focusing on Wolverine. Instead, they share their screentime with an entirely new villain that has to be established, plus Magneto’s irrelevant side arc, plus Professor X, who for some reason they’re trying to force into the action hero protagonist role, plus a super forced Wolverine cameo and  a really out of place Quicksilver sequence. And yes, the stuff we do get of Scott, Jean and Kurt was great, probably the best thing in the movie, but it’s just so few and far between and so surrounded on all sides by poop. Let’s get back to Professor X for a second. They have the same problem with him they do with Magneto. They seem incredibly reluctant to actually just place him in the Professor X role. Yes, McAvoy’s Xavier is great, and I want to see more of him, but he should not be the main character in this movie. His arc is done. We saw his origin. The whole point of X-Men: First Class was to show Xavier and Magneto’s backstory. Great. Done. You could skip right from that to the first X-Men, all makes sense. Then DOFP, they re-tread a lot of that same ground, but it’s still well done, and at the end of the movie you feel confident that the next time you see Magneto and Professor X they will be more or less the characters we meet in the original movie. But then in this movie they’re still the goddamn beta versions. Professor X shouldn’t be out fighting villains, involved in all the chaos, because his entire arc in the last movie was to accept his place in the chair. In this movie all that he should have been doing is guiding the young X-Men. His arc is done, just relegate him to the Patrick Stewart role. And again, like with Magneto, Xavier can be a more interesting character now that we know how he got to where he is, but that doesn’t mean the movie should be all about him.

I guess the only thing really left to talk about is Apocalypse. Look, he’s fine. As a big comicbook fan, it’s lame that they stripped away most of his powers and backstory, but I never would have really expected them to attempt comicbook Apocalypse onscreen anyway. The look is also a little dumb, but Oscar Isaac’s performance I think makes up for a lot of that. He’s good, he’s got a real menacing presence. All in all, he’s about the same as your average Marvel villain, vague forgettable plan and all. I honestly just think he shouldn’t have been in this movie. I mean, I get it. You need a big follow up to Days of Future Past, and fans have been demanding Apocalypse for years. It might have seemed a little anticlimactic to announce that they were just doing another one where the X-Men fight Magneto. But man, that’s what we needed. Not only does his massive amount of screentime seriously detract from several hugely underdeveloped characters, but the fact that he’s even in this movie kinda of makes him seem like less of a big deal. I mean think about the stakes for these new young X-Men: literally their first ever mission they defeated Apocalypse. How is anybody else supposed to seem intimidating after that, unless Apocalypse is a little bitch? Wouldn’t it have been better to maybe wait a sequel or two and have him go up against a fully established team of X-Men who have actually been through some shit? I don’t know, fuck it, I’m done. Oh, also Psylocke, Storm and Angel all do literally fucking nothing, the costumes all look ridiculous, Quicksilver gets real annoying real quick (no pun intended) once they start developing him as a character (also, he’s still living with his mom? It’s been ten years since the last movie. how old is he supposed to be?), and it’s abundantly clear by this point that Jennifer Lawerence has completely stopped giving a shit. Oh, and Havok dies in the stupidest way possible, so I guess that sucks if you care about Havok.

You know what the worst part is? I’ve spent years defending these X-Men movies. Every time someone goes “oh, those movies sucks, fox should just give the rights back to Marvel so they can make it” or “what’s with those black leather suits, why don’t they wear the comicbook costumes?” I’m always the first guy to go on about how Bryan Singer has a unique creative vision for the universe, and how they helped define comicbook cinema in the early 2000’s, and how First Class and Days of Future Past revitilized the franchise, and how excited I was to see where it would go. And now I just feel like an asshole. Everyone was right. Fox, you have no idea what you’re doing with the X-Men franchise. You should just give it back to Marvel.

Overall Rating: Caliban was the best part/10