UrbanRhetoric

UrbanRhetoric

6.13.2017

Wonder Woman


Let's be clear, Gal Gadot is straight fire.  I mean she could have been onscreen, sitting on a plain ole chair slowly reading Tolstoy in the original Russian - backwards - and I would be enthralled from the opening credits to the post-credit extras (if there were any... but there are not, so dont stick around Wonder Woman for that).  She's that sexy.  With all the hype and anti-hype by so-called "purists" (better known by their clinical term "maxima haterificus") that Gadot is too thin to play the amazon warrior princess, I went into the movie with a healthy dose of skepticism as to whether it really could be pulled off by someone so striking but relatively unproven as a headliner.

When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice dropped, I was sure the best part of the movie would be Batman busting Superman's Kryptonian a$$ets, but (although Ben Affleck sucks as Bruce Wayne/Batman) I was never so happily wrong as when I found out that Gadot had completely stolen the show.  Her scenes were BY FAR the best of the film.  It should be no surprise that Wonder Woman is doing so well in the box office.  She crushes the competition out in theaters (Mummy, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alien: Covenant, and even Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II) and demolishes every female comic book superhero, sci-fi action I have ever seen - no exaggeration.  Then again, that is not exactly the highest of hurdles.  At the charter school I work at, they ask the kids to write and cite their pieces of evidence, so please see (or do not see) the following:

Elektra (Verdict - WEAK all WEEK and 2x on Sunday)
Aeon Flux (Verdict - Wack AF)
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Ghost in the Shell (cultural misappropriation aside - I skipped this bs 'cuz it looked lame) 
Verdict - Exit polls say... this lands squarely in Wack County, Wackland 
BloodRayneUltraviolet + (Halle Berry's prank of a film) Catwoman
Verdict = WACK, WACK, and Supremely TRASH (respectively)

VITALS
Patty Jenkins (Monster) - Director
Alan Heinberg (if you ever saw a Shonda Rhimes show, you know his writing)- Writer
Zach Snyder (300 and Sucker Punch) - Story By
Gal Gadot - Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Chris Pine - Steve Trevor
Connie Nielsen - Hippolyta
Danny Huston - Ludendorff
Robin Wright - Antiope
Elena Anaya - Dr. Maru

IF YOU MUST KNOW:
(And I'll keep this part brief...) Steve Trevor crashes and finds himself being rescued by Diana, Princess of Themyscira.  If ONLY... He brings with him tales of a war that that endangers humanity. Diana, much to the chagrin of her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Nielsen) leaves her Amazonian sisters and paradise home to fight the great war.  Of course, Diana is convinced that Ares, the god of war, is behind this great war - I said she was fire, I didn't say she was perfect... (She's Gal Gadot, not Jade Eshete - if you don't who she is, check out Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency).  Having spent most of her life, from adolescence to full grown womanhood, training harder than any amazon has ever been trained, Diana ready to fight whoever.

SPOILER ALERT

Image result for antiope wonder womanAntiope (Wright), Diana's aunt and chief trainer - the baddest warrior woman on the island -catches a bad one and the war (WWI) is brought directly to the Amazon's shore. Diana feels compelled to join the fight to save humanity and her big fish out of water story begins there as she begins to scratch the surface on the breadth of her powers.  She works with Trevor (Chris Pine) to uncover and foil a plan by the sinister Ludendorff (Danny Huston) to use a new weapon of mass destruction that could slaughter millions.

Wonder Woman has always been one of my favorites, but for absolutely no feminist reasons.  Sure, I was in love with Linda Carter's Wonder Woman reruns when I was a kid because she was half-naked; but I had respect for Wonder Woman since she was flying her invisible jet on retrospectively lame, and occasionally racist, Super Friends -
There's about a million reasons to love Wonder Woman.  She's a woman.  She's not some alien who comes to earth and basically is a better human than humans.  She's a princess, but not a spoiled little rich brat (in the way Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark are... no shade).  She gets her powers from birth - albeit by via deities.  Wonder Woman was a dope AF superhero because she stood for the best of humanity and always fought for what was right and could always do whatever her male counterparts - especially if that counterpart was lame ass Aquaman - could do, and often do it better - and look good doing it.  I have always had an affinity for strong women in comics, films, literature (fiction or fact).

This film could be summed up in the scene when Diana poses this question -
And, back in ye olde London, England, when Trevor's secretary explains to Diana Prince what she does as a secretary, Diana quips poignantly.  What's awesome about this superhero is that she doesn't walk into the world of men assuming the cultural gender roles are rules to be obeyed or honored.  She just does what she does and she's unapologetic about it.  That... reminds me of my closest female friends and relatives.  The men around her, who were also relatively heroic in their own right, failed to act when facing seemingly insurmountable odds, but Diana literally pops on a headband, pulls out a sword and gets busy.  It's this sort of dichotomy that smacks you upside the head and makes Wonder Woman so incredible as a character and more than tolerable despite her genuine goodness.  When anti-heroes and anti-heroines abound (Batmans, Ironmans, etc.), Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is the truth.  She's the reason why my smartest and coolest female have "always loved WW" and even dressed up like her for Halloween (I see you, pemora - that pic on IG is priceless!); even for those who didn't read comics at all, they know, respect and love WW.

ASIDE: Superman cannot beat Wonder Woman, you dig? Some may argue it, but he can't. SUPERMAN... and his only weakness is Kryptonite - and possibly corny women.  Wonder Woman bests Superman, who is supposedly the best of us and she does this after being trained by a bunch of kickass women in a paradise shrouded from the realm that contains men.  There's something something poetic and compelling about a character like that.  It's no wonder (pun unintended) that this movie resonates with men and women.

Thankfully, this film was directed by a woman who understands that no one (men or women) enjoy one-dimensional characters or one-dimensional movies enough to make it a success across demographics.  Patty Jenkins captures the right amount of humor, drama, and nuance.  The film isn't perfect, but it really is very good.  Impressive even because of all that it managed to do.  It redefines a genre without being pretentious, self-aggrandizing. or smug in it's own political correctness.  It goes a bit off with the Steve Trevor-Diana Prince romantic piece near the end (but those concerns are merely stylistic).  It also drags a bit with the big fight scene.  The twist is good, but it was not unpredictable which is really a writer + director problem - it's tough to camouflage that kind of thing without completely avoiding any foreshadow, but they have a lot of screenwriting power behind the movie, so it would have been awesome for me to be properly misled.  I was not.  Nevertheless, Wonder Woman is the second best movie of the year (and the only one I've seen better is a different genre).  Aside from Get Out, I haven't seen a movie better than Wonder Woman this year, but the summer is just beginning...

IMTHATDUDE gives Wonder Woman: 4

RATING SYSTEM:
5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.



5.20.2017

Alien: Covenant

Image result for alien covenant
So, I wisely went to peep this flick last night (sans my expected company, since she has issues with seeing scary movies after a certain time of night and I have issues with people who are still scared of movies when you're more than a decade past drinking or voting age).  

I usually prefer to see movies alone because of my well documented history of film snobbery.  It's a good thing too because I really wanted to grab a pen and start writing down all the random stuff I saw that either made me scratch my freshly shaven, bristly dome, or bite my lip in utter confusion.  

For fans of the franchise, I'll say this - no Ripley or Dallas, no Sgt. "Look into my eye" Apone, no Vasquez, no Hicks or Hudson, and no James Cameron, but at least it was No PROMETHEUS!  For that, salute - Ridley Scott (Director).  If you had a bunch of big ass bald pale alien giants doing things that didn't make a hell of a lot of sense again, I'm convinced you would have murdered this franchise.  This movie could be best be called Redemption.

VITALS

Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, American Gangster... but also Exodus: Gods & Kings - Yikes!) - Director
John Logan (Gladiator, Skyfall) - Writer
Dante Harper - Writer
Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Assassin's Creed) - Walter/David
Carmen Ejogo (The Purge: Anarchy, Selma) - Karine
Katherine Waterston (Taking Woodstock, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) - Daniels
Billy Crudup (Almost Famous, Watchmen) - Oram
Danny McBride (Pineapple Express, This is the End) - Tennesee
Amy Seimetz (You're Next, Upstream Color) - Faris

IF YOU MUST KNOW
Image result for alien covenant movie artSo, I believe we left off just a bit after this happened - 
So after the Prometheus flick fiasco, we find ourselves watching the crew of the Covenant, a ship full of dumb ass colonists (mostly white folks), head towards an extremely remote but habitable planet they are to terraform and prepare it for future generations of humans. 

Clearly, there is no way they're getting my people on a space slave ship.  You can add all the Carmen Ejogos you want to, we not falling for your Jedi mind tricks.  I'd be staying my black ass right here on Earth - you can keep your interstellar gentrification.  It starts off all artesenal shops and log cabins with no curtains in a new, rustic world, and ends up like this -
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*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Anyway, the crew of the Covenant gets abruptly awakened by a tragically unexpected event in deep space.  The event threatens the mission of the Covenant to bring its cargo of thousands of dumb ass colonists to their distant destination.  Fortunately, they discover a planet that is far closer with a much better likelihood of successful colonization - it cuts seven years off of hibernation from them.  What could possibly go wrong? 


It is there that the real danger begins.  David (Fassbender) has survived and plays host to the intrepid crew investigating the planet, but not long after, they find these things waiting for them >>
Image result for alien covenant movie art

Again, SPOILER ALERT...

The planet ends up being a planet filled with the dead bodies of the giant bald white aliens.  It's where David and Dr. Shaw headed to at the end of Prometheus in search of the ancient race of aliens they believed to be responsible for the evolution and development of human beings.  

You can guess the results.  Yes... damn near everybody dies.  Stop acting like you thought people would get out of this okay.  When was the last time somebody walked away from an encounter with the Aliens?

The writers couldn't resist the urge to connect antiquity with a mythology it began developing in Prometheus (I can respect that, even if I don't like it); they had David citing Shelley's  Ozymandias.  Interestingly, there are a bunch of different little tweaks and twists that they give us in this movie that make it worth seeing for fans of the series.  If you are not a fan, it probably doesn't do much for you.  In fact, there was nothing remotely scary about it.  The scare factor in this movie was far below that found in Get Out (which is AWESOME, buy it or see it if you still can in the theater).

The best thing about Alien: Covenant was the fact that the movie returned to its roots of stomach popping, evil synthetics, butt kicking female leads, and space colonization.  The lack of action allowed everyone to be actors and not let the special effects smother the generally exceptional talent level of the actors in the movie.  That's good...right?  Yes and no.  The lack of action in an Aliens movie makes for a fairly boring movie and this was only saved by the abilities of Ejogo, Crudup, Waterston, and a couple of others.  Alien: Covenant ends up on that directly on the borderline between drab and semi-compelling.
Image result for alien covenant movie art
The bad things were the little details (like how Walter was stitching himself with the stapler which made a lot of sounds of staples, but when they showed what he was stitching... nada), or people doing stupid stuff, or how the foreshadowed deaths, betrayals, and twists were not remotely surprising (like how they all but told us what the end would be as soon as we see David).  More importantly, there was not one sympathetic character; by that, I mean I didn't give AF if they all got mercked and they basically did.   The thing about the first two movies was that they made the characters so well-rounded that you actually liked a few of them and disliked others.  In Alien: Covenant, everyone but David - who we already know was a turd from the time he put his nasty finger in that glass of water in Prometheus - was good at heart, caring, willing to risk their life for each other, and blah blah blah.  Yet, there was not one line from Alien: Covenant that is memorable or quotable.  People who never saw Aliens can quote lines from it:

 - Get away from her you, b!tch!
 - So, why don't you put her in charge!
 - Is this a bug hunt?
 - He's coming in... gee, I feel safer already.
 - There's some juicy colonists daughters from their virginity.
 - It was a bad call, Ripley.  It was a bad call. 
 - Is there anything I can do?/I don't know, is there anything you can do?
 - Hey, maybe you haven't been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked.

And one of my personal favorites:

 - Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?

The list goes on.

Go see it if you're a fan.  If you aren't a fan, skip it and wait for it to pop up on-demand.  It's not a rush out and see flick (like I did), so I guess I'm going to have to find a way to let my friend slide for chickening out on this not-scary scary movie.  

IMTHATDUDE gives Alien: Covenant: 3

RATING SYSTEM:
5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.

11.05.2016

Doctor Strange

You almost have to see Doctor Strange in 3-D. It's the closest thing to a required 3-D viewing since Inception (before that it was Avatar - every other 3-D film is probably just a regular movie in a 3-D theater).

There are no surprises and this review contains no spoilers... well, maybe not, but you'll have to finish reading it to find out - I wouldn't want to spoil it for you if you make it through the review.

So, my big concern - before I walked into the theatre - was that Tilda Swinton played The Ancient One... Let me repeat that TILDA SWINTON played the Ancient One. I know black don't crack, so at a minimum they should have cast a brown person to play the Ancient One if they were going to veer away from the actual original background of the character that is supposed to be from the Himalayas.

Image result for the ancient one
But then again, Marvel has flipped a lot of things - for example, Ojiofor plays a Transylvanian Baron (translation - rich, probably kinda creepy white dude)... when you hear that do you envision a black Afro-Brit named Chiwetel in that role? Me either, but it worked.
VITALS
Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) - Director/Writer
C. Rober Cargill (Sinister) - Writer
Benedict Cumberbatch (TV's Sherlock, Star Trek: Into Darkness) - Doctor Stephen Strange
Chiwetel Ojiofor (Serenity, American Gangster) - Mordo
Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers, Spotlight) - Dr. Christine Palmer
Tilda Swinton (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Chronicles of Narnia) - The Ancient One
Mads Mikkelson (Casino Royale, The Three Musketeers) - Kaecillius
Benedict Wong (Sunshine, Promethius) - Wong
Benjamin Bratt (Snitch, Ride Along 2) - Jonathan Pangborn

IF YOU MUST KNOW

Here's the gist of the story of Doctor Strange.  (Mind you, I never read the comics.  I'm a nerd, but my nerd-dom has it's limits.  I wasn't the kind of nerd that never got girls - it was just a lot less frequent than some of my friends, so I didn't have time to read every comic.  I'm exactly nerdly enough to have read too many comics to be have been a player back in ye olden day.) Where was I...?  Stephen Strange... Right... there's a movie to talk about... Steven Strange, M.D., Ph.D., is a brilliant surgeon who loses his ability to operate when he has a car accident that causes substantial damage to his money makers (the hands, people).  Doctor Strange (not Mister Strange) seeks out any way of healing that might be available and finally turns to a mysterious possible source in the Himalayas at a mystical place called Kamar-Taj.  

Image result for doctor strange fight sceneDr. Strange finds himself in Nepal looking for the way back to his posh life as a hotshot, arrogant surgeon.  Aside: Interesting how Cumberbatch seems to be able to play arrogant bastards so effortlessly... it does make you wonder a bit about who the guy is, or maybe it is just his face. What's the dude equivalent of RBF?  Anyone know?
Anyway, Doctor Strange discovers that there is more to the world than what he has ever imagined and becomes an promising apprentice of The Ancient One in his search for healing.   You know as well as I do that superhero movies need the stakes to be world shaking.  There's rarely a superhero TV show or movie that focuses on a very specific locality and the inherent dangers faced in that particular area - unless you've been watching Netflix's most recent dopeness, Luke Cage.
Image result for Luke cage
Quickly, Doctor Strange gets enmeshed in a fight that he never anticipated and nothing but the fate of the entire world depends on him fighting the good fight - a fight that finally forces him to be concerned with something that is not about him. 

Now, if you thought you were gonna get all the action of the Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, etc. from the guy that plays this cat...
Think again.  Tilda (that's either short for Matilda or her parents really liked that little thing in Spanish that goes over the 'n' in words like "niña" but absolutely not in words like "empanada" which I learned one drunken night in D.C. whilst searching for grub at 3am in Adams Morgan) gets more action than Benedict Cumberbatch.  ASIDE: Shouts to Julia's Empanadas on 18th Street, NW, D.C.

Moral of the story - 1) don't think for a second that your drunken 11th grade Spanish will get you anywhere with a Latina from NYC at 3am and, less important & more relevantly, 2) do not go in expecting to see an action-packed Marvel movie.  Oh, let's be clear - there's a lot of activity; by that, I mean that there was a lot of just stuff happening on the screen - buildings spinning and folding, teleportation portals opening up, and hands waving back and forth like an ethnic argument gone awry.  There was not the kind of action that one might rightfully expect in a superhero film.  No epic battles.  No cities dropping from the sky... wait... well, that kinda happened, but you get what I'm saying.  There are a few fights there, including an astral projected fist fight, but the fight choreography is weak as all hell.


The most interesting parts of this movie are visual effects and strong acting.  Never before have you seen so many people who could just as easily transition from saving the universe from invading dimensional immortal overlords to reciting the most poignant lines of the Bard at the Globe Theatre in London.

Cultural whitewashing aside (See, Tom Cruise in "The Last Samurai" or Jake Gyllenhal in "Prince of Persia," Jennifer Lawrence in "The Hunger Games" - okay, I never read the Hunger Games, but I heard she was supposed to brownskinneded, or even Elizabeth Taylor in "Cleopatra"), Tilda Swinton gave a great performance as The Ancient One and every major character enhanced the work of the other characters.  Chiwetel was not the Transylvanian Baron from the comics with the pea green leotard; instead, they opted to call him just plain Mordo and make him a bit more understated - still, he's pretty damned good in everything from "12 Years a Slave" to the enigmatic agent hunting down the crew of Serenity in the movie of the same name.  And the winner of the weirdest name in show business, Benedict Cumberbatch, was a exceptional as Doctor Stephen Strange.  I would go as far as saying he was as good a cast for the role as RDJ was for Tony Stark.  Maybe better!  Yeah, I said it.  As awesome as RDJ was as Iron Man, I think Benedict might be an even better pick for this role because who would've thunk this Brit could have pulled it off...?  But I will hold off on the final verdict until Doctor Strange II drops.  


The special effects were dizzying at times, but it begs to be seen in 3-D. Even though there was a crap ton of green screen effects, it doesn't bug you the way some movies do because the mystical world that they try to draw you into requires you to feel like you just had puffed some Purple & sipped some Lean (from what I hear...).  Unfortunately, the story was just set up for a potentially good story.  But they hit on every other aspect of the film, so there's that!


Go see it.  It's worth the distraction for a couple of hours (and it's better than Suicide Squad) and stay for BOTH post-credit Marvel Cinematic Universe teasers.

IMTHATDUDE gives Doctor Strange: 4

RATING SYSTEM:
5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.

8.03.2016

GHOSTBUSTERS: Answer the Call

THIS IS A MICROWAVE REVIEW

Look, the first one was a classic; I can still watch Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II it's hard to beat classic (unless the classic was classic because of how bad it was - for example, whenever there is a remake of "Big Trouble in Little China" it would be REALLY difficult for the remake to be outshown by the original.)  But Ghostbusters is the good kind of classic.  You can watch either one of them today and they would still be good, family-fun movies.  I love Kristen Wiig (she was dope on SNL and her bit role in Knocked Up upstaged everybody) and Melissa McCarthy (she's just so likable in almost everything, except The Heat - that sucked) and Kate McKinnon (google her SNL stuff) and I'm beginning to like Leslie Jones (but I don't need to hear anymore jokes about her difficulty finding a man - her comedic aggression is a little unsettling, and I've dated women her size before... nearly her size); but this was like watching your old, lame uncle try hard to be funny in front of your friends who have never met this side of your family.

VITALS

Paul Feig (Spy, Bridesmaids) - Director
Katie Dippold (Parks & Recreation, The Heat) & Paul Feig (The Heat, Spy) - Writers
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Spy) - AbbyYates
Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, MacGruber) - Erin Gilbert
Leslie Jones (Top Five) - Winston Zedmore aka Patty Tolan
Chris Hemsworth (Avengers, Thor) - Kevin
Kate McKinnon - Jillian Holtzmann
Neil Casey - Rowan North
Steve Higgins - Dean

IF YOU MUST KNOW
4 ladies reluctantly join forces - 3 of them scientists, the other was black (I know... you do a relaunch and you still make the black one the obvious kid doing their own thing).  Okay, not to get on my Huey Newton (or even Huey Freeman), but that did kind of annoy me.  Clearly, Leslie doesn't have the comedic visual depth to look like a serious scientist, but neither did Kristen, or Melissa or whoever the other one was.  Anyway, these new Ghostbusters link up to convince the naysayers that ghosts exists. Then, almost immediately afterwards, they engage in a fight to save New York from a ghost invasion set in motion by the weird, disgruntled possibly bipolar man Rowan (played by Neil Casey). Rowan tries to bring ghosts across the inter-dimensional plane in a strange and surprisingly well orchestrated, albeit unexplained, and this batch of Ghostbusters try to stop him while avoiding .

There were a couple of laughs, but they were widely spread out and none of them were particularly hearty.  Overall, I just couldn't get with the direction of the movie, but I appreciate the effort. They had pretty good chemistry (as one would hope given that 3 of them have worked on SNL at overlapping times). There's a comedy in there, fo'sho.  Hemsworth added new levels to the dumb blonde stereotype and Kate McKinnon's role provided enough smirk-able moments that the movie was not intolerable and made for some decent laughs. But, not for nothing, I don't get how these underemployed scientists and the big black chick could afford all of the tools they had and equipment they build (even with the stuff they stole from their low-budget to no-budget college jobs).  If you're on a budget, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call is only good enough to watch on-demand although I have every confidence that they will tweak this enough to get the comedic balance right in the next one... I hope.

IMTHATDUDE gives Ghostbusters-Answer the Call: 2

RATING SYSTEM:
5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.

5.08.2016

Captain America: Civil War

I didn't expect the movie to be what it was and that's a good thing.  It turned out to be more than watching Marvel mastur... well, let's call it self -gratify (after all, this is a public site) onscreen.  It was surprisingly poignant and even a little - very little, but still - thought provoking.  It stood clearly in contrast to the X-Men franchise where evil was very clear and had a clear face, it flies in the face of Superman v Batman in only as much as it appeared to accomplish the mission whereto it was sent out into the theaters.

The spoiler alerts will start in a quick second, so... there's the obligatory warning.

VITALS

Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Chronicles of Narnia, Pain & Gain, Thor: The Dark World) - Writers
Anthony & Joe Russo (You, Me & Dupree, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) - Directors

Chris Evans - Captain America/Steve Rogers
Robert Downey, Jr. - Iron Man/Tony Stark
Scarlett Johansson - Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff
Chadwick Boseman - Black Panther/Prince T'Chala
Don Cheadle- War Machine/Lt. James Rhodes
Paul Rudd - Ant Man/Scott Lang
Martin Freeman - some government dude
Tom Holland - Spiderman/Peter Parker
Anthony Mackie - Falcon/Sam Wilson
Paul Bettany - Vision
Jeremy Renner - Hawkeye/Clint Baron

IF YOU MUST KNOW


Captain America: Civil War starts with an event that is basically nobody's fault, but due to the actions of these "enhanced" humans like like Captain America and Scarlet Witch, there is collateral damage in the form of human casualties.  Several of the victims happen to be Wakandan citizens.  (Wakanda, of course, is the fictional nation in Africa known for it's technological prowess and for being basically the only place on Earth where enterprising thieves and thieving nations would go to steal... Vibranium.  But you all knew that.) Remember, Shield has fallen - which is important because it means I finally get to see a movie without Samuel L. Jackson in it... You can't tell me God doesn't answer prayer. Can I get an Amen!?  

Anyway, Wakanda aint happy about the Avengers running around the world with zero supervision and little oversight - neither is the rest of the world.  After Thor's appearance, and Ultron, and the Avengers involvement in an incident where a whole city dropped out of the sky, and the New York invasion thing, Thor's appearance, etc., the world has had enough of Capt. America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor, and the Hulk jacking crap up. Much like Batman's fake beef with Superman in their movie, the United Nations have a problem with extremely powerful people not being held accountable for the damage wrought on their respective citizenry.  But Civil War is significantly better than Dawn of Justice. It is not quite as clever as Iron Man (I) or Avengers (I), and it's not remotely as funny as Deadpool (although, that would be a really tall order).  


The world backs the Stankonia Accords (I think the actual name is Sokovia, but I prefer Stankonia).  Iron Man then tries to sway his friends to sign the Accords which would subject them to the authority of the United Nations.  All of these enhanced individuals would only go where they were sent and would be held accountable for their actions.  Those who continued to conduct unsanctioned activities would be subject to arrest and branded criminals.  The dividing line is between Iron Man and his new found willingness to cooperate with the world's leaders, believing that they failure to do so makes the Avengers no better than the bad guys they fight, and Captain America who thinks that decision making coming from a governmental body like the U.N. doesn't mean the decision will be the right one.  Cap thinks it would be better for the Avengers to manage themselves.  Fair points all around, easy to find agreement with either Tony or Cap, hence... the Civil War.  

Captain America enlists Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, the Winter Soldier, and a few others, whilst Tony brings heavy hitters like Vision, War Machine, Black Widow and Black Panther.


BY FAR, the highlight of this movie is the newly anticipated stand alone Black Panther film. Chadwick Boseman (who has played Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Thurgood Marshall in the upcoming biopic Marshall) was excellent as Black Panther. From what I remember about the Black Panther character, he was a real bad ass.  He had toys like Tony Stark and the finances to match, he had skills like Captain America, but he wasn't genetically enhanced; he's just naturally superior.  (Can you tell I'm raising a black fist in the air right now?)  As far as I'm concerned, you can call this movie.. Captain America: Introducing Black Panther.  They downplayed his badassery, so as not to upstage the others, but they managed to give him his due.


So, long story, slightly shorter... They fight... A LOT.  Most of it is cool.  Not the long fight sequence in the beginning.  Some of those moves were the chopped and sped-up to the point of ridiculousness (yes, I am aware of the irony of calling something ridiculous in a movie that has a paramilitary sniper guy who only fires arrows, a witch, a kid bitten by a radioactive spider and capable of catching cars, two men flying around at supersonic speeds in metal personal suits and lights on their hands, feet, and chests, and a woman who looks like Scarlett Johansson and does what she does exists - all bananas, I know).  Unfortunately, as much fun as a good fight scene is, I know I have mentioned it before, I like a good villain in my action movies.  The villain in this movie was not up to par for the level of damage he helped usher along.  He was junior varsity at best and somehow managed to baffle major league players like Tony Stark (with all his security and tech).  Good actor.  Actually, all the acting was laudable.  It's the story that was a bit difficult to accept.  You get the explanation of the opposing sides, but you don't really walk away caring or disliking the position of either of them.  I would have preferred them to go-in, but it felt like the characters and writers were all pulling their punches up until the very end of the movie - and then when they could have really done something dramatic, they pulled the final punch instead of letting them swing like Gennady Golovkin.  They incorporated a fair amount of superheroes in this including Spider Man and Ant Man, but there were a few that were noticeably excluded.  I can only assume that the budget for the including big, angry green guy would have broken the bank.  There were no X-Men, Hulks of any gender, Punisher, Fantastic 4 or really anyone significant in the Marvel Universe aside from Spidey.  It would probably have been tough to give them all something to do.  But what they did do was mostly fun to watch.  

This was a decently crafted story with some real emotional gravitas that you don't expect. In no particular order, the best things about this movie were 1) there was NO Sam Jackson; 2) Spiderman was a fresh set up for a relaunch that even had Marissa Tomei as Aunt Mae; and 3) T'Challa/Black Panther got busy in this flick!  It's good enough to see in IMax.  Hell, it's good enough for you to pay for at least one additional 3D IMax ticket.  It's not perfect, but it's a nice way to start the summer blockbuster season (looking forward to Z-Men: Apocalypse, Star Trek: Beyond, Now You See Me 2, and even The Final Master). 


IMTHATDUDE gives Captain America: Civil War: 4

RATING SYSTEM:
5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.

4.30.2016

KEANU



MICROWAVE REVIEW

I'm not exactly sure how I felt about sitting in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn theatre full of white millennials laughing hysterically at the comedic use of the N-word by Key and Peele.  It was a little disconcerting.  And full disclosure - I don't like cats... more specifically, I don't like house cats.  That said, Keanu was a little cute in an "I still don't want one in my apartment" kind of way.  But, once I put those things aside, I was able to laugh a sufficient amount to consider this a legit flick and worth seeing.  I wouldn't recommend making plans around seeing it.  It's not as good as some of the more recent comedies like Let's Be Cops, Dope, Trainwreck, Deadpool, or 50 Shades of Grey. It is, however, funny enough to see in the theatre or to pay and rent when it hits Amazon Instant or On-Demand in a couple of months.


VITALS
Jordan Peele & Alex Rubens  - Writers
Directed by Peter Atencio  
Keegan-Michael Key - Clarence
Jordan Peele - Rell Williams
Tiffany Haddish - Hi-C
Method Man - Cheddar
Luis Guzman - Bacon
Will Forte - Hulka


IF YOU MUST KNOW

Rell Williams (Peele) has just been dumped and loses the only thing he has going for him - Keanu, his kitten. His cousin and best friend, Clarence (Key) decides to join him in his quest to find and reclaim Keanu.  They end up posing as drug dealer/assassins, which cause them to get in just a little bit of trouble with real drug dealers/killers known as the Blips (folks who've been kicked out of the Bloods and the Crips - funny).  There's a little bit of character growth for both Rell and Clarence in this comedy that gives a slightly different twist to the "fish out of water" theme.  

There were some amusing George Michael bits that ran throughout the film.  Peele is still the funnier of the comedy pair in my book (Obama translator aside).  Good amount of laughs, lots of N-Words - but all within a context that made sense from a black improv comedic point of view, and the character arcs that take Rell and Clarence from somewhat pathetic man-boys (in different ways) to full grown men.  

It's worth a look, but not if you're expecting hilarity.  It's a slow Saturday afternoon or date night flick that is sufficient for sh#s and giggles as they say (probably a better laugh if you get lit first,  but I won't make fun of you for spending your bread on it anyway.  

IMTHATDUDE gives Keanu: 3

RATING SYSTEM:
5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.

4.23.2016

Miles Ahead


Don Cheadle's big screen directorial debut... Miles Ahead. Truth is, I love Miles Davis's music but I know precious little about the man himself.  I own copies of Kind of Blue, Birth of Cool, You're Under Arrest, and Bitches Brew.  I don't have the album they refer to most in this movie, so I'm going to have to cop Sketches of Spain.

VITALS
Steven Baigelman (Get on Up) - Co-Writer
Don Cheadle (Talk to Me, Avengers, Devil in a Blue Dress) - Miles Davis
***Cheadle also Co-Writes, Directs, and Produces Miles Ahead

Emayatzi Cornealdi (Addicted, Middle of Nowhere, The Invitation) - Frances Taylor
Ewan MacGregor (Moulin Rouge, Big Fish, Mortdecai) - Dave Brill
Keith Stanfield (Dope, Straight Outta Compton) - 
Michael Stuhlbarg (Steve Jobs, Blue Jasmine) - Harper Hamilton


IF YOU MUST KNOW


This was a movie about Miles Davis, but seems to have avoided being a biopic.  It was more like watching Don Cheadle brilliantly portray someone who has largely been a famous but mysterious musical legend.  Miles Ahead is a snapshot of a glance of the music icon's life.  The good news is that you want to learn more about Miles after watching this movie, but the bad news is you almost need to do it.  You don't get much more than what we already know.  He was as talented as he was brilliant and he was brilliantly flawed.  He walked that fine line between genius and insanity and may have crossed back and forth a few times.  He loved a woman (and then some more of them).  

Cheadle does an incredible job of portraying the enigmatic jazz virtuoso/iconoclast, but as a writer and director, he tells us next to nothing.  In fact, the movie was a little weird.  There were multiple fights, a gun fight or two, and even a car chase with a gun fight - none of which were things that I heard about Miles when my Pops forced me to listen to Jazz 88's Rhythm Revue way back when I was travelling back and forth to the barbershop or during those Saturday early mornings or late evenings for Prep for Prep - I was forced to listen to the Rhythm Revue and eventually developed a love for "old-timey" music.  The drugs, I knew about, but nobody ever mentioned him in a reckless car chase through the city.  I feel like I would have remembered that.  

Like many male driven movies, the highlight is often the female lead.  Sometimes what is supposed to be window dressing can really save a movie (see my comments about Wonder Woman in the Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice).  So, she may have appeared in one of my previous posts... then again, maybe not.  In any event, she would have been my choice for the Nina Simone movie they did with my ex, Zoe Saldana.  


As much as Cornealdi (Taylor) is talented and incredibly beautiful (I would totally karaoke Prince's "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" to her if she were in the vacinity - hell, I'd do it a cappella), she doesn't elevate this movie in the way Gadot/Wonder Woman elevated Dawn of Justice.  She is, obviously easy on the eyes and remarkably talented - every bit Cheadles acting match, but she didn't have a hell of a lot to work with here.  



Nevertheless, this is still a fairly good directorial debut.  The odd matching cuts that Cheadle has throughout the film give it a certain feel - I think he was going for something jazz-y - forced.  I thought it was a pretty good film, but not a good biopic.  There are many facets to Miles that clearly were not explored, but the overall movie came off as a bit of a short story that left you wondering why they picked this particular period in his life rather than do something that was more encompassing and generally more engrossing.  It's Miles FREAKING Davis.  An audience interested enough to see a movie that no one expects to have car chases could totally have sat through a 150-180 minutes of his life story.  

This movie was just not aggressive enough in its breadth or depth for me to recommend going out to see it.  It is worth watching, just not something you need to spend 12-15 bucks on. 

Should be on Amazon or Netflix pretty soon, so feel free to save your dough.  Or, if you're a real Miles aficionado... save your bread.  You'll get nothing out of this flick.  Movie lovers can enjoy the acting talents of Cornealdi and Cheadle (they should totally team up again... they have an interesting on-screen chemistry that should be explored further), but do not expect to feel enlightened or fulfilled on any level when the end credits roll.

IMTHATDUDE gives Miles Ahead: 3, by a hair

RATING SYSTEM:
5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!

4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.