This weekend our latest superhero movie, Justice League, came out, and I’ve been hesitant to post a blog review. I did a video review right after I saw it, which I would love for you to check out.
Basically I have really mixed feelings about Justice League, which makes it a hard film to write a coherent review about. Let me just give you a few thoughts:
First of all, I have not enjoyed Man of Steel, Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad. I loved Wonder Woman but that had the benefit of director Patty Jenkins over the more problematic Zack Snyder. So needless to say I went into Justice League with pretty low expectations, which always makes me a little more forgiving of its many flaws.
The positives to Justice League is I enjoyed the heroes and I’m a hero girl when it comes to comic book movies. The Flash was fun. Wonder Woman was of course great. Batman was fine and Aquaman was better than you’d expect. I am also so happy to be able to say they finally got Superman right! This is a Superman who is joyous and positive not mopey and ashamed of who he is. This is a Superman that fights for truth, justice and the American way!!! I have been waiting for that ever since Man of Steel made me depressed for days. I had a huge smile on my face for particularly the last 30 minutes of the movie, which gave Superman the time to shine I’ve been hoping for.
I also thought the Joss Whedon influenced dialogue was fun and I laughed a fair amount. One scene in particular between Wonder Woman and Aquaman was especially funny. The Flash had a lot of funny lines and the entire team had a nice chemistry together.
Unfortunately that’s where my praise has to end. A lot of Justice League is a hot mess. The plot is tough to defend with a villain that is poorly developed and a structure that is incoherent and sloppy at best. It wasn’t as badly put together as Suicide Squad but it was close.
Also the action was an orange and gray mess. It looked like a video game especially any fighting with the villain. If you like Zack Snyder’s aesthetic than you will enjoy it but I’ve never been a fan and this was really rough to look at. A lot of people complained about the action at the end of Wonder Woman. This is much uglier than that but throughout the movie. The only movie I can think of that looked worse this year as far as action was King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. The CGI was also poorly executed and once again looked like a cheap video game. It was also a bummer to see his leering camera over Wonder Woman and the skimpy outfits the girls wore in Themiscyra.
Much was made about Danny Elfman using the original Superman and Batman scores for Justice League but nothing really stood out to me music-wise.
But all this aside I can’t deny that when I saw Superman fighting for truth and justice it made me really happy. I’m just so torn on this one.
I guess since it did make me smile I will give it a smile worthy but just barely.
Before diving into my review of Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 let me give you some context into my feelings on the first film. I LOVED it! For me it was a new Star Wars film before we got Star Wars back. It wasn’t a typical Marvel movie but it was a space opera and I loved seeing our team of misfits form and search for their orb/infinity stone. I loved the humor, action, charismatic actors and bright color palate. Just a great movie. 9/10 or A grade from me.
So let’s talk about this sequel. Naturally loving the first film I was very excited for the follow up but I still tried to enjoy it as its own film and not compare it too much. In the end, I feel Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 is at best a mixed bag. It’s not awful but I had major problems with it.
At the outset of the movie our team is commissioned by a leader Ayesha to guard a series of batteries. This leads to a great opening that heavily features the world’s favorite adorable creation- Baby Groot! Of course, we have seen Baby Groot all over the marketing for the movie and he did not disappoint. Soooo adorable!
This scene also features everything you like about the first film. It has witty banter from the entire team, fun action as they fight a monster and a catchy song. I thought ‘Oh boy! This is going to be awesome!”
Unfortunately just a few scenes later they make a massive mistake that had a large impact on my enjoyment of the film: They divide up the team!!! Peter meets his father and half the crew go with him while half stay behind and end up with Yondu and his crew.
This was such a terrible choice for a number of reasons:
Hurts the humor- When you have a large group of characters the humor can be a mixture of all their types of comedy. So you will get one Groot joke mixed in with Drax, Peter, Rocket etc. When you have just Rocket and Groot then their type of jokes become repetitive and tired very quickly.
Hurts the emotion- It’s the same with emotion. We are with a character and they have an emotional moment. Then they leave that character for a long stretch hurting their story and emotional arc.
Hurts the team- Characters aren’t able to feed off each other and create that winning chemistry I loved so much in the first film. Sometime this can help you get to know characters better like in Star Trek Beyond but that was not the case here.
Hurts the action- Because they are all split up the action is pretty sparse. For instance, Drax is sitting talking almost the entire movie. He’s Drax the Destroyer for goodness sake, and he doesn’t destroy anything.
I guess all of this would be fine if the story was compelling but it is not. They try to set up several different family dynamics. There is Peter and his father, Peter and Gamora, Gamora and Nebula, Groot and Rocket and Yandu and Peter. While I appreciated the message of family, the film became too cluttered with relationships that they weren’t as developed as they could have been.
The villain is another surprise villain. About the 10,000th one I’ve seen in recent years and I’m tired of it. It was so obvious and the plan for world domination makes no sense unless he or she wants to be completely alone in the whole galaxy. Even if he or she did, it still strains credulity to believe this insane plan (and the way it is explained is hard to follow or feel invested in).
I was also disappointed in the Nebula/Gamora storyline. I liked Nebula in the first film when most people didn’t. I thought she had a wounded quality to her that I wish had been more developed. Well, unfortunately she is seen more here but Karen Gillan overcooks it in the villainy department. Also she flips around from good girl to bad in ways that didn’t work for me or feel authentic.
So, from all that it seems like I had a miserable experience at this movie. No. I didn’t but I’d be lying if I didn’t share those major problems I had. However, there are some things I liked.
First, like I said, I liked Baby Groot and a lot of the comedy did work. It would have worked better if they hadn’t divided the group but a lot still made me laugh. Drax gets some funny lines with a new girl named Mantis. Rocket has a lot of humor including a hilarious sequence with Baby Groot getting him things for a jailbreak.
Second, Michael Rooker is great as Yondu. I didn’t think Yondu would be the most fleshed out and interesting character in the film but he was. We learn about his association with a band of ruffians called The Ravagers. He has upset them and we get to find out why through the course of the movie. We also learn about why he took Peter and his connection to Peter’s father. Yondu also has the best action scene in the movie with an arrow thing he uses to take out a fleet of men (Sorry I don’t know what the arrow thing is called).
Third, even if it could have been more focused, I still loved the overall message about family. I think Vin Diesel might have carried this over from the Fast and the Furious movies because they are all about family. I particularly appreciated the focus on alternative families- that families are not always about blood but so much more.
Fourth, it is a beautiful looking movie. James Gunn has done it again with amazing cinematography and special effects. The planet Peter’s father lives on was beautiful and lush. I loved all the bright colors and dazzling world building. The special effects on Rocket and Baby Groot are flawless. You forget they aren’t actual talking raccoons and walking baby trees.
There also is a joyous feeling to the picture which makes it pleasing to watch. While some of the jokes grow tired it never made me angry or annoyed like other fantasy films. I mostly wasn’t bored although there were a few moments that dragged.
The soundtrack was a bit of a mixed bag. There are some great songs but a few of them felt very on-the-nose Also, I didn’t like that characters mentioned the songs so much. In the original they are this awesome background gift to enjoy (aside from Peter listening to them they don’t work into the story and he doesn’t repeat lyrics or talk about the individual songs). Here there is even one song where the lyrics are repeated verbatim and the life experience fits perfectly into the situation at hand. It makes the song choice feel uncreative and obvious when they were so great in the original. Still, there are some good songs. Cat Stevens and Electric Light Orchestra are used particularly well.
In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 is a mixed bag leaning towards the negative. I have really struggled with what grade to give it and whether to make it smile or frown worthy. Other films I have given smiles to like Ghost in the Shell feel less worthy than this film but this is way more of a disappointment and downgrade from the original film. It’s really tough…
I’m torn but I think my disappointment is going to rule the day:
Overall Grade- C (It is without a doubt in my bottom 5 Marvel movies. No question)
Also this is pretty raunchy for a Marvel movie. It definitely earns its PG-13.
You can all hate me now…
Check out my podcast with my friend Trevor from How to Love Comics where we break it all down
In some ways the latest Marvel movie, Doctor Strange, has been quite revelatory for me. You see, over on my youtube channel I had a special podcast with a comics expert friend of mine named Trevor at HowtoLoveComics.com.
This forced me to dive into the comic books of Doctor Strange before seeing the film, something I have never done with a comic book movie. I was impressed with how understanding the lore and comics helped add to the moviegoing experience. It’s something I hope to continue to do for future films.
I don’t think reading the comic books make you excuse flaws in the movie but it helps you understand the characters on a bit of a deeper level than may be explored in one particular movie.
Anyway, it was an interesting experience that I would recommend to all of you.
As far as the movie, Doctor Strange, I enjoyed it very much. There are 2 reasons to enjoy Doctor Strange:
First, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Stephen Strange. I am a huge Benedict Cumberbatch fan and feel this is the best use we have seen for him in the movies yet. He manages to capture the brilliance of Doctor Strange while also getting a desperate humble side of him. I’ve heard many people compare his character to Tony Stark in Iron Man but I think he spends more of this movie humbled and weak than we get from Tony for many movies. He’s also much more awkward than Tony ever is.
Iron Man also has more substantial supporting characters than Doctor Strange gets. Pepper is a more active character in the first Iron Man than Rachel McAdam’s Christine and Rhodey is certainly more important to Tony than Wong is to Doctor Strange.
So, it is up to Benedict Cumberbatch and his character to carry the movie, and I think he does so very well. He’s charismatic and likable despite being arrogant and over-confident at times.
The second standout is the amazing visuals. I saw this film on IMAX 3D and it was pretty awe inspiring. Doctor Strange learns from the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) that there are multiple dimensions. The mystical realms are accessed when we learn to manipulate and control these dimensions.
The movie does a great job showing these dimensions and not explaining them to us or the magic that goes along with them. We see it and that’s good enough without understanding the background or mechanics.
A lot of people have compared the visuals to Inception and I can see their point. However, I think they are more dreamlike than Inception. There is something a bit more grounded in Inception’s graphics and something more ephemeral about them here in my opinion.
The one caution I will give about the graphics is as spectacular as they are, they did make me a little motion sick. Some of the sequences towards the end I feel went on a little bit too long, and I started to feel a little nauseated. I have a very sensitive stomach when it comes to such things, so it is probably just me. You will have to make your own determination. That was just my experience.
A lot of people have complained about the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. It is a tricky thing because casting an Asian man like in the comic book could come across as reinforcing stereotypes, so which is the greater sin? Regardless, I think Tilda Swinton does a great job in the role as there is something other-worldly about her. Also her character has a bit more of an arc than I was expecting or was in the comic books I read.
All the rest of the performances are good but they are pretty brief. This is Doctor Strange’s movie and it is his origin story. Some will roll their eyes at another origin story but I didn’t mind it. The movie is well paced, clipping along quite nicely and the tone is carefully controlled. I enjoyed the more thoughtful moments along with the humor.
I don’t know if I liked Doctor Strange as much as Captain America: Civil War, but it is a very enjoyable origin story. I liked the character of Doctor Strange, and I liked the world we were given. That’s about all I needed to be happy. The story was good enough to engage me
I look forward to seeing how Doctor Strange works within the MCU going forward and how the new dimensions of mystical magic help add a new layer to the storytelling at Marvel.
I’ve never been the biggest superhero movie person, but over the years movies like The Avengers and X-Men Days of Future Past have won me over. These movies have clever stories, great scripts and charismatic performances by Oscar level talent. 2014 was a particularly memorable year with only 2 bad superhero movies and 4 outstanding films- Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Big Hero 6 and X-Men Days of Future Past. These movies had everything I could want in a superhero movie.
WE WERE SPOILED!!!
Aside from Captain America: Civil War the superhero movies of 2016 have been kind of sucky and unfortunately the latest entry, Suicide Squad does not change that trajectory. Suicide Squad is the latest offering from DC Comics and Warner Brothers and despite promising trailers it fails to deliver on its potential.
After Batman v Superman frustrated many moviegoers in March, Warner Brothers clearly took all the wrong lessons out of the feedback. ‘Make the movies more fun’ is what they heard. So, they rushed David Ayer to write Suicide Squad in 6 weeks and then hacked it to pieces creating a mess of a movie.
That’s not to say there aren’t any redeeming values to Suicide Squad. There are mainly with the casting. All the roles, with 2 exceptions, are well cast. The problem is the script doesn’t give them time to grow as characters or to gel as a unit. Will Smith and Margot Robbie are the standouts as Deadshot and Harley Quinn and I’m curious to see more of them in future films. Viola Davis is also great as Amanda Waller who is an agent forming the Suicide Squad. She is ruthless and you kind of see why she would be interested in super villains.
The story of Suicide Squad is you have this group of villains that are called upon to fight evil metahumans. This is all supposed to be after the events of Batman v Superman but there is never any talk of using the good metahumans like Flash and Wonder Woman (despite briefly seeing Flash in a cameo). And the fact that only 2 of the Suicide Squad are actually metahumans which makes you scratch your head?
The first act of the film starts out clunky with Davis sitting at a table looking through a binder of each of the squad members. Then we see flashback introductions to the characters. It’s kind of like the gossip montages in Ant-Man but repeated over and over again.
But even with that certain characters aren’t introduced at all like Katana. She just walks onto a helicopter and they say ‘oh look it’s Katana. She’s a crazy ninja” (I’m paraphrasing but you get the drift).
So what are they called upon to do? Well, they are supposed to stop an evil being named Enchantress who kind of needs to be worse than the squad in order for the story to work but she’s just not. I normally don’t care about lame villains but she did nothing for me and I felt the special effects were very poor. She creates this ‘brother’ that looked right out of Gods of Egypt. Again, I wouldn’t have cared about a bad villain if I had cared about the rest of the film.
For a movie like this to work it relies on the charisma of the stars and a witty script (this is not a gritty crime drama like The Dark Knight). And the problem with Suicide Squad is the editing is so poorly done that just when characters are starting to interact it cuts away to something that doesn’t matter.
You are supposed to believe that the characters are becoming a family but I didn’t buy it for a second. There’s a moment where Deadshot has to decide whether to hurt Harley Quinn and their relationship wasn’t near built up enough for me to buy his decision. They had one very brief conversation and they are supposed to be big baddies. It didn’t work.
There’s another scene where they are fighting these glob creatures of Enchantress and the creatures stop coming for some reason and they stop fighting evil and have a drink. If the movie had effectively established them as not caring about the mission or stopping the badder guy than I could have bought it but the way it sits it feels random and jarring.
The other confusing part about the movie is why have Enchantress when you have DC’s greatest villain in the film for like 6 minutes? You could have made the Joker the villain and instead you have a lame villain. That would be like Marvel having Loki as a villain for a 5 minute cameo. It makes no sense.
But speaking of the Joker…Jared Leto goes for it as this new take on the character and I personally was not a fan. The Joker is an agent of chaos. He thrives on creating disorder. He is the last person in the world that would want to be an organized crime boss like in this movie. It felt too outright bad-guy where the Joker is supposed to be a believer in the philosophy of chaos. He should be more complex than having damaged tattooed on your forehead!
All that said, if you can go into Suicide Squad and ignore the script and just enjoy the charismatic performances and the fun soundtrack I think you may have an enjoyable time. It’s a lot like Batman Forever. There’s some engaging performances in Batman Forever, some decent music and production design but the story and script are terrible. So if you can enjoy Batman Forever than you will enjoy Suicide Squad.
At the very least I didn’t feel as manipulated as Batman v Superman and it isn’t as gloomy (although the forced fun added by the studio is so obvious). To me the two movies are about equal in quality but it is a case of picking your poison and what types of problems bother you more than others.
It’s probably very generous but I did like it better than X-Men Apocalypse which underserved all of the characters I love and became destruction porn. I gave X-Men Apocalypse a D+.
So for Suicide Squad Overall Grade- C- for Will Smith and Margot Robbie but I’d say it’s a definite skip.
ps. Those people who started the rotten tomatoes takedown petition are morons.
Is there some kind of Batman writers strike I’m unaware of? I have to imagine there are hundreds of thousands of writers penning Batman scripts right now, dying to be made into a movie. And yet out of all that we get two such poorly written scripts as we got this year in Batman v Superman and now Batman: the Killing Joke. That’s right. Unfortunately the animated Batman movie everyone was hoping would redeem the franchise sadly did not. In fact, in my opinion it is even worse.
I sincerely wanted this to be good because I love Mask of the Phantasm and list it as one of my top 50 favorite animated films of all time. To read that post click here. I had reason to be hopeful. They were going with an R rating which could mean they were taking some creative risks (I checked it out and it isn’t too hard an R so I decided it was acceptable for me). They had a really strong trailer and most importantly the original cast of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are back as Batman and Joker with great voice actress Tara Strong as Batgirl. This sounded great!
What a letdown!
Ok. Let’s talk about Batgirl aka Barbara Gordon.
The first 30 minutes are actually her story. The trailer is very deceiving in that regard. Joker does not appear in the film until the 37 minute mark and it is only a 75 minute movie. I’d love to see Batgirl but alas we have another poorly written female superhero character. Barbara Gordon is a character out of a soap opera (please don’t do that to Wonder Woman DC. please!). When her and Batman interact it didn’t feel genuine or earned at all. I didn’t even like her design which is very boob-focused. I know why artists design female characters this way (look at the rebooted female Power Rangers designs which are also very boob-focused). But it’s such a cheap way of making a character sexy. Batgirl should be sexy because of who she is not because she has a ridiculously large bosom.
She’s also a throwback to female characters I thought we had moved past. She’s basically a plot device for the male characters to trick, manipulate, encourage and rape (you read right) whenever the story needs her. She makes no plans herself aside from looking in a mirror and saying ‘Barbara what are you doing?’. Sigh. Give me a Mary Sue any day over this kind of convenient woman. Batman’s character is once again very flat and we get almost no Bruce Wayne. I mean next to nothing. So any kind of hiding who he is or struggles with how he is treating Batgirl are completely lost in a gruff bland guy wearing a mask. I think you may see Alfred once but it’s mostly just Batman grumbling about Batgirl getting in his way and other bland things. He might as well have been made of cardboard.
It’s called Killing Joke and you’d think that Joker and Batman would be together a lot. At least the trailer would leave you to believe that. Alas, just like Batman v Superman the title fight is very brief (about 7 minutes) and it resolves in a completely nonsensical way given the character development we’d seen so far. Then they give additional endings after the fight and I didn’t buy it for one second.
The animation isn’t even that good with nothing really special about it. It all feels like images we’ve seen before with amusement park rides and shadowy figures. When will they learn that just having a dark color palate doesn’t make something dark. You could have something truly disturbing in the sunlight. I mean Jaws creates fear and it is on a sun-dripped beach. It’s the characters that we get to know when they are taken to dark places that it becomes dark. Come on Hollywood- do better!
We also get another origin story because that’s exactly what we all needed right? Sigh…And it’s not even an interesting origin story but one with more corny melodrama. There have been like 30 animated Batman movies let alone the live action. Does anyone in the world not know how the Joker became the Joker? or how Bruce’s parents are killed? (I’m talking to you Batman v Superman). We all get it. Move on to something interesting in a story!
I’m so disappointed. At this point my hopes are on Lego Batman to save the character. I get that those who love the comic book may love this. I can’t say one way or another. All I know is I didn’t like it and was very letdown by it.
As far as the adult content it’s there but nothing really shocking or interesting done with it. No pencil in the eye moment for people who like that kind of thing. Blast…
The only really good thing I can say about this film is that the voice cast is strong as expected. I just wish they had been given something strong to do. It feels like they kind of decided last minute to make it R rated instead of it being an integral part of the design and story.
Maybe other people will like it but I thought it was a soapy mess and I really hated the way they portrayed Barbara Gordon. Next time make her an actual character that makes choices and then has a real story arc instead of a cog in your dopey movies timeline.
You guys I am so disappointed. Going to see X-Men Apocalypse I had heard the negative reviews but as a big X-Men fan I was hoping they were being too hard on it. After seeing it I actually think they are being kind. It’s current 47% on Rotten Tomatoes is a lot higher than I would give it. I liked it less than Batman v Superman and that is saying something…
I almost don’t know where to begin. Let’s start with what I want out of an X-Men movie. At their best X-Men movies say something about class and the way we treat those that are different. Unlike most franchises where bad guys and good guys are more one-note X-Men characters feel well-rounded when they are done right. Magneto, for instance, is a villain but only because he has given up on humanity. There’s a hopelessness about his villainy that can actually be quite moving.
X-Men Apocalypse had a few moments showing Magneto being conflicted and once again losing something dear to him (evidently the Holocaust isn’t enough of a motivator. They have to keep piling it on for the poor man). Unfortunately the film keeps moving away from Magneto for long stretches and gives us instead Apocalypse who I thought was power rangers worthy bad guy and spouting the Bible to sound important which was just annoying.
The biggest problem with X-Men Apocalypse is that it is completely fragmented. Days of Future Past had a lot of characters but it was focused on 2- Wolverine and Mystique. Everyone else was peppered in where needed. They also had a clear goal, to get Mystique to change her mind. This is muddled. Sometimes it is Scott’s story, sometimes Magnetos, sometimes Charles, sometimes Mystique, the list goes on. None of them are executed in a satisfactory way and none of them really matter in defeating Apocalypse. They all kind of throw stuff at him hoping it will work.
This leads to a lot of epic shouting and destruction with no momentum or sense that anything was being accomplished. You just knew they would find a way out of it because more movies are coming. Honestly I thought it was shouty, self-important, annoying and insufferable.
The female characters that I love in X-Men are all underused especially Storm and Psylocke. There is a fun scene when Quicksilver does his thing but since it’s a copy of what we saw in Days of Future Past I won’t give it too much credit.
The final battle has a few good moments and all the actors try but I really didn’t like it. The broader metaphors aren’t really there so it is at best a dopey 90s style superhero movie. Sorry, it was my third most anticipated movie of the year and it really let me down. And people are criticizing Jennifer Lawrence for her performance but that was the least of this movies problems.
Oh and Wolverine shows up for like 3 minutes just to remind us of all the better movies he is in.
I know other people liked it but I’m sorry it really didn’t work for me.
Overall Grade- D+
It’s also very violent and there is some profanity so I would not recommend it for kids.
In the battle of comic book fandom it is usually between the MCU and DC (mainly Batman and Superman). That dynamic usually leaves Fox’s X-men movies as the forgotten cousin of the debate.
Not the case in my world! The X-Men films are actually my favorite comic book franchise by a large margin. Sure they have their misses like all the franchises but even those I’d take over the misses from the other franchises.
The thing I like about the X-Men movies is I think the dynamics of social politics is an interesting layer. When they are discussing mutants rights and the treatment of people that are different it has a heft to it you don’t normally see in the genre.
Also, the casting is first rate. In the X-Men movies we have Oscar nominees/winners like Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page. As well as other strong actors like Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart, James Marsden, and Kelsey Grammer.
Bryan Singer has made pretty much all of the good X-Men movies and he knows how to direct entertaining layered films that look nice and have strong emotion. The X-Men movies have great characters like Magneto, Wolverine, Mystique and Professor Xavier. To me these are more interesting than any other franchise characters.
I know some of you disagree with me but I stand by my belief that X-Men movies have the strongest female superhero characters by far. Characters like Rogue, Mystique, Jean Gray, Shadowcat and even Storm are way better than the token female we get in other movies usually for sex appeal or to be the ‘tough girl’.
Anyway, like I have done with Batman, Superman and Marvel Phase 1 and Phase 2, I will give my thoughts on each of the X-men films except for Deadpool, which I will not be watching. I have also selected my ‘best shot‘ from each film. This is a shot that I think captures my favorite part of the movie. I hope you enjoy my picks and are anxiously looking forward to X-Men Apocalypse like I am!
Our first introduction to the X-Men directed by Bryan Singer. This film holds up incredibly well. What makes it strong is we see the beginning of Magneto in the concentration camp and how he was treated. This gives a weight to his choices later on. You understand why he is doing what he is doing and why Professor X disagrees. You also have great emotion between Rogue and Wolverine. They are fighting and trying to understand their mutant powers. Their bond grows in a believable, moving way and the events of Ellis Island are exciting and emotional. I picked this shot between Rogue and Wolverine because it was a tender moment especially when you consider Rogue’s fears of human contact. Beautiful. X2
An extremely entertaining second entry in the series with Magneto taking the center stage. Colonel Stryker wants a genocide of all mutants. He drugs Magneto and uses Mystique to manipulate. What’s great about this movie is the good and bad characters are constantly shifting. One moment Magneto is the enemy and then Stryker and others. The idea of the Cerebro is fascinating and beautiful. I love how vulnerable all the mutants are and how each character gets their moment to shine. There many great scenes like Cyclops and Jean Grey fighting or the fight between Wolverine and Deathstrike. You never know who is being controlled or what their motives are. It keeps you guessing and actually has something to say about faith, friendship and loyalty. Nightcrawler s a great addition to the cast and it’s just overall entertaining. I picked this shot of Jean Grey making her sacrifice because it is beautiful, moving, gripping conclusion to the film.
X-Men: The Last Stand
A semi-decent premise of a ‘mutant cure’ is hampered by clunky dialogue and cheesy fight sequences. It seems every punch is accompanied by a ‘I’m the wrong guy to play hide and seek with’ or some other lame one-liner. I still think it is better than the bad movies from other franchises. It’s way more watchable than Batman and Robin or Superman 4. It isn’t a bad watch in my opinion if you are just looking for a dopey fun comic book movie. Ian McKellen seems like he is having a blast as Magneto so I picked a shot just before he destroys the Golden Gate Bridge. I didn’t like the way they messed with Jean Grey after her beautiful moment in X2.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Now X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a movie worth putting at the bottom of the comic book movie barrel. I think it is far worse than Last Stand. Hugh Jackman tries his hardest with the material but it’s a mess. I think a character like The Blob is supposed to be funny but it falls flat and then the film is very violent at times but not in a compelling way. What is most bizarre is how bad the special effects are. You know an Xmen movie is bad if they can’t even get Wolverine’s blades to look good. It’s not fun or silly just boring and dumb. They introduce characters like Deadpool and Gambit but really just to fight with for a few minutes- not any real character development. I picked this shot because it is a semi-decent explosion with Jackman on a motorcycle. That’s really the best this movie has to offer.
X-Men: First Class
I’m not the biggest fan of Matthew Vaughn’s new style to the X-men world. It’s too James Bondish for my tastes and a bit garish with skimpy costumes and stylized action. Also January Jones is very weak as Emma Frost. However, the rest of the casting is outstanding with Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James McEvoy and more. I really like seeing the evolution of Magneto especially with an actor as good as Fassbender and it is kind of cool to see the X-men as a true team, not divided like the previous films. My best shot shows this sense of teamwork.
Even though I love Wolverine as a character for some reason I had missed this film, and I’m here to tell you it is way underrated! I really thought it was a great superhero movie. The action by director James Mangold is really well done with a martial arts flare to it. I liked starting at WW2 and Logan’s experience in Japan and then the infection of Viper makes him more vulnerable than in other films. The relationship with Mariko is standard girlfriend superhero stuff so I am willing to forgive that. The dialogue is intense with moments of humor but not as out of place as First Class. Overall it’s very entertaining movie and reminded me a little bit of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy the way he combines martial arts style fighting with superhero story. There is a sequence on a train that was amazing so that is where this shot comes. Jackman is totally up for the physicality of this film.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
I love this movie! Not only does this brilliant film take away most of the damage done in Last Stand and Origins but it combines all the great actors from all of the films. Through the Terminator-like time traveling set-up we get a story that is action packed, full of emotion and also very funny. The plot centers on a sentinel uprising that is wiping out our favorite characters in the future. Using Kitty Pryde’s abilities Wolverine is sent back in time to 1973 where he must gather Xavier and Magneto to convince Mystique to not assassinate the maker of the Sentinels Dr Trask. I love a movie with a message of hope and that’s what you get in the end with Mystique’s decision. She chooses hope for the future over cynicism and it’s very moving. Even Xavier says he has renewed hope. I love all of the actors, script and everything else. Picking a shot is really hard. Do I go with emotion, or dazzle? Emotion is hard to capture in a shot so I’ll go with Dazzle. I love Quicksilver and his scene helping to free Magneto. It’s hilarious with terrific special effects (and music).
So there you have it my friends. I have finished my dive into superhero movies for the year. Boy what a journey it has been 16 Superman/Batman, 12 MCU and 7 X-Men movies since Februaryish. 35 superhero movies and there have been highs and lows. After I see Civil War and X-Men Apocolypse I will do a retrospective on the experience of 37 movies. Craziness… Ha.
I hope you have enjoyed my little efforts and let me know what you think of the X-Men movies and my thoughts/best shots on each film.
So I have finished my viewings of all the Marvel Phase 2 movies. If you want to see my best shots and thoughts on Phase 1 click here. This is all to get ready for Captain America: Civil War coming in a couple of weeks. I haven’t decided if I will do this with the X-men movies but there are fewer of those so why not? I think after that I need to do a Merchant/Ivory series or something like that. It’s kind of nuts that since the beginning of March I will have seen including Civil War and 2 viewings of Batman v Superman 30 superhero movies. That’s madness I tell you!
Anyway, Marvel Phase 2 has its hits and misses just like Phase 1. But I think that Marvel isn’t given quite enough credit for trying new things with these Phase 2 films. They went for it with Iron Man 3 with a very different director in Shane Black. They let the Russo Brothers give us a political thriller combined with great action in Cap 2 and took a real risk with James Gunn and the Guardians of the Galaxy. I don’t think any of these movies are awful but for me the risks sometimes paid off, and sometimes didn’t, but at least they are taking them. I look forward to seeing Civil War and our introduction to Spiderman and the conflict between Iron Man and Captain America coming to a forefront. Then we will be on to Dr Strange, Thor Ragnarok and Infinity Wars!
The thing I like about Marvel movies is I like their heroes. I’ve never been much a villain girl, and I think even in the less successful Phase 2 films we got to know our heroes a little bit better. They are becoming fully fleshed out characters and that was always my issue with comic book movies. They were always too dumb for their own good and the heroes were given the shaft over flashy spectacle action and villains. Marvel also almost always nails the casting and the lighter tone is more palatable to me.
What’s your favorite Marvel Phase 2 movie? What do you think of this group of movies? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
Iron Man 3-
This movie has a lot of highs and lows. The lows for me are the cheap twist of The Mandarin. I don’t know the comics (and evidently it was a betrayal of the character in the comics) but in the movie it felt cheap. Making him an actor and so silly just didn’t work and felt a little insulting to the viewers. If you haven’t guessed by my feelings on M Night Shyamalan I’m not a big fan of twists in movies. At least I usually get really annoyed when I feel like I am being tricked or it is too cute. That said, what I did like about Iron Man 3 is Tony’s struggle with anxiety and PTSD. It makes sense a superhero would struggle with anxiety and I think Robert Downy Jr was convincing in those scenes. It makes the events in Age of Ultron make more sense when you realize how physically and mentally taxed Tony is by his duties as an avenger. So for my best shot I picked a scene where Tony is mid-anxiety attack and you can feel his panic. As someone who has dealt with panic attacks I thought it was very moving.
Thor: The Dark World-
The cheap gimmick of Iron Man 3 and the Mandarin made me like it less than Thor: the Dark World but it is probably the worst Marvel movie. A lot of the action is murky and hard to make out. Natalie Portman is annoying as Jane and given way too much screen time and the story I didn’t really care about. In fact, after a couple of days since my viewing I’m having a hard time even remembering what it was. The part I did like was the scenes between Loki and Thor. Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth are so terrific for these parts and they have great chemistry. The final scene where we see Loki laughing on the throne made me smile and so it gets the best shot.
Captain America: Winter Soldier-
What a great entry in the MCU! The Russo Brothers proved they know how to film incredible action and write a tight, exciting story. I love Chris Evans in this part and we get some emotional growth for the character with him coming to terms with his age and what he has lost along the way. I love the dynamic between Cap and the Winter Soldier. I loved all the action in the film. But when Steve has to fight Bucky it is emotional and exciting at the same time. He even says ‘don’t make me do this’ and you feel for the character. The Nick Fury death was kind of annoying but his car crash was amazing. It’s such an entertaining film. This shot I feel covers what is great about the movie. Cap with his shield getting ready to face off against his friend the Winter Soldier.
Guardians of the Galaxy-
I love Guardians of the Galaxy! Back when I reviewed it on my other blog I said it was one of the ‘great movies of 2014’ and I stand behind that. It was Marvel’s first attempt to create a space opera and I love what they accomplished. Star Lord and his band of misfits join together over the course of the movie. It is not immediate and they each have different types of outlaw personalities that blend very well together. To me it was a lot of fun watching them zoom across the galaxy looking for the globe/infinity stone. All the actors do a great job and the soundtrack still makes me smile. It is well written with enjoyable action and just what I want from my space operas. I chose this shot because I love this team of characters!
Avengers: Age of Ultron-
I probably like Age of Ultron for unusual reasons. Most people probably like the big action scenes like Hulk fighting the Hulkbuster or the opening action battle. For me I like the back stories and visions we get of each character. I found those scenes gave a depth to these characters we rarely see in a comic book movie. It all starts with Tony getting a vision of his friends slaughtered and Cap (of all people it would be Cap) says to him ‘you could have saved us…’. Going back to Iron Man 3 and his panic attacks this vision is especially chilling. I also thought seeing the sterilization in the past of Black Widow was very moving. Same with Steve and the life he has left behind. I also liked the contrast between Vision and Ultron. I thought it really worked. I see why many were disappointed as it is more somber and maybe over the top in the conflict but to me it worked emotionally on a different level than Avengers, which was more fun than anything else. So, I picked a shot from Tony’s vision because it captures what I admired most about the film.
If you had told me a few years ago that I would like a movie called Ant-Man I would have said you were nuts. They even joke about how stupid the idea sounds within the movie. However, if you get Paul Rudd to play the character suddenly I’m on board (I’ve loved Paul Rudd since I was in high school watching Clueless). I know this film had production problems but what they created was something very satisfying and fun. I like how it feels very small (forgive the pun) compared to Age of Ultron (or really any other Marvel film). It is at heart a heist movie and it works on that level. I liked all the performances except for Evangeline Lily who I thought was wooden and flat. It made me laugh and the visuals were really cool. I didn’t even mind Yellow Jacket as the villain because I love Cory Stoll. To me it worked and this shot captures the magic of the film. (And no, I could care less about Edgar Wright leaving the film. Get over it!).
So there you have it! My thoughts on Phase 2. On to Phase 3 in a couple of weeks. I’ve heard great things so I am very excited for Civil War. It should be intense but also a lot of fun.
I was going to wait to do a spoiler free review of Batman v Superman until I see it Thursday (I ended up getting into an early screening today!). But I felt I should put a few comments down because some people will want to take their children to this movie and might hope I could give them some guidance in that regard. This review is spoiler free so I can’t say what happens but something happens that I think could seriously upset small kids. Just trust me.
Now let’s get on with my initial thoughts.
First I will remind you guys I’m not that rabid a Batman fan to begin with. The movies tend to focus too much on villains and Batman is usually a bore. I like my superhero movies to be about heroes rather than villains.
That said, I went to Batman v Superman optimistic and hopeful it would be a fun comic book movie. And for about an hour in I was enjoying it on that level and then unfortunately it takes a turn I did not like at all.
I will also say that my brother who is a huge Batman fan hated the movie, so take that for what you will. He was very upset and not in a good way.
It’s hard because one of the things that didn’t work at all is highly spoilery but suffice it to say that Zack Snyder thinks we are all stupid. He somehow thinks he can make a movie with a million hints at the Justice League Movie coming in 2017 and yet expect us to buy the ending…Come on? When you guys see it you will know what I mean. There is no way the ending is legitimate and it is all done to squeeze phony emotion out of fans and leave you in a phony cliffhanger for those dumb enough to buy it.
Ok. Off soapbox. There were things that worked quite well. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was actually quite good. If you had told me going into it that one of my favorite things about Batman v Superman would be Wonder Woman I would have said you were crazy but there it is.
Also, I liked some of the character development we got in the first hour of Batman and Superman. Ben Affleck was good as Batman although he is manipulated rather easily. But I thought the building off of the destruction of Man of Steel and questioning Superman’s powers was pretty good. Cavill is fine in the film but I still don’t see any chemistry between him and Amy Adams’ Lois Lane.
Jeremy Irons is good as Alfred although underused and Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White had a few moments of comic relief. Holly Hunter as a senator was kind of wasted.
Jesse Eisenberg didn’t work for me as Lex Luthor’s son but it’s not entirely his fault. The screenplay makes some leaps that I found hard to believe. He is granted clearance to things he really shouldn’t be. He’s places that don’t make sense for him to be at and he seems to know Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne’s alter-egos when he is first being introduced to both of them. He also manipulates Bruce very easily.
Let’s talk about the action. There’s really only one extended fight scene and then 2 dream sequences. The dreams were kind of annoying. The long fight scene is ok but the way it ends does not make sense for either character.
We all knew they would go from being enemies to friends within the movie. It’s in the title so I don’t think that is a spoiler but how that happens did not feel authentic or believable at all. Batman makes such a drastic shift and for a reason that I didn’t buy.
Boy it sounds like I really hated it. I guess the charisma of the stars provided enough marginal enjoyment for me to give it a ‘meh’ rating. I can totally see why my brother hated it.
I think a lot of fans will phantom menace this movie. It has a very low rotten tomatoes score and already I’m hearing defenses and ( if you liked it that’s awesome) but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people come down on this movie once the novelty has faded and they look at it more objectively. We will see.
Oh and Doomsday looks terrible. I couldn’t believe how bad the CG was on him. Usually Zack Snyder at least gets that kind of thing right.
I just don’t know how anyone defends that ending. Zack Snyder tried to trick me and it’s not going to work! I may not be a huge Batman fan but I’m not stupid either.
Overall Grade- C-
I also don’t think Man of Steel fans will like this movie. It doesn’t have any of the sci-fi or edgier elements of that film. It’s a lot of people talking about Gods and God-like powers and not much of the showing like in Man of Steel.
My youtube review. A bit rambling but say what I needed to say.