UrbanRhetoric

UrbanRhetoric

11.05.2017

Thor: Ragnarok

Image result for hulk thor ragnarokI was out doing a little book shopping in the Chelsea area and decided to catch Thor: Ragnarok sooner rather than wait.  I'm glad I did.  Best thing about Thor: Ragnarok is that it is by far the most entertaining Marvel movie since they broke ground with Iron Man (I).  Also, one of the trailers before Ragnarok had an obligatory nod to another upcoming Marvel flick - the one most anticipated by every brown person I know in Nerdom - Black Panther! Coincidentally, Black Panther promises to be THE coolest Marvel flick of all time... I'm calling it now.

Image result for thor ragnarokWARNING - THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, SO... Skip everything after the vitals if you have a problem with reading spoilers.

You know how you see a movie trailer and there's a really funny or cool looking part of the movie in the trailer and when you finish watching the movie you realize that you got suckered into paying for some sh# you've already seen the only highlights worth seeing when you watched the trailer... fortunately, this ain't one of those movies. Thor: Ragnarok is everything its trailers advertised and then some - a straight up superhero action comedy.


VITALS
Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) - Director
Newbies Eric Pearson and Craig Kyle - Writers
Tessa Thompson (Dear White People, Creed) - Valkyrie
Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris, Thor: The Dark World) - LokiRelated image

Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Blue Jasmine) - Hela
Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs, Hitchcock) - Odin
Idris Elba (Star Trek: Beyond, The Dark Tower) - Heimdall
Jeff Goldblum (Independence Day, The Switch) - Grandmaster 
Mark Ruffalo (Avengers, Now You See Me) - Hulk/David Banner

The cast also includes appearances by Karl Urban (Star Trek, Dredd) as Skurge and Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Imitation Game) as Doctor Strange

IF YOU MUST KNOW

Thor picks up about two years after Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Thor has been back on Asgard, fighting the visions/nightmares of the destruction of Asgard and the coming of Ragnarok.

SPOILER ALERT

Ragnarok is coming for Asgard and the conveniently named Hela (Blanchett), goddess of death, is coming with it.  She is more powerful than Thor, Odin's son and shows it when they first meet.  Mjolnir, Thor's hammer, doesn't last 2 minutes in her presence (I know how that sounds, but it's literally true in this movie).  Even Odin bugs out and leaves this battle to Thor and Loki (Hiddleston) to figure it out how to deal on some F* this Sh# I'm Out type business.
Thor gathers up some very reluctant compatriots and is forced to battle with Hela and try to stop what is the foretold destruction of Asgard and it's people.  He accidentally crosses paths with his fellow  Avenger, Hulk/David Banner (Ruffalo).  He enlists the help of Valkyrie (Thompson), an off-world Asgardian warrior.  He even gets Loki to get involved... for a minute, before Loki goes all Loki.  Of course, since this is a hero's journey, it hits all the major story elements of the classic hero's tale.
Hero's Journey - Mythic Structure - Monomyth
Hero tale or not, Asgard gets it's a$$ kicked but good.  In fact, just before he bounces, Odin warns Thor and Loki that the only thing Holding Hela back is Odin - the Allfather has some horrible parental habits.  When Hela gets to Asgard her power reaches its height and Thor and his crew do not have enough fire power to stop the goddess of death from laying waste to the entire world.  So... Hela destroys legions of Asgardians and slaps up the god of thunder, but the story really is in what Thor learns about Mjolnir, his family, and especially himself.  No, there was nothing esoteric, but he did discover some things previously unknown to him and tapped into his the depths of his power as the god of thunder.  Summoning all of his power and some pretty cool allies, Thor's crew still can't defeat Hela, so what do they do... well, that I will leave for you to see in the movie.



Hemsworth is funnier than you might expect, but still very much the Thor we all like in the MCU.  Cate Blanchett is always brilliant - don't recall anything she has done when she wasn't stellar.  She was delightfully wicked and amusing (like all of my favorite ex-girlfriends).  Tessa Thompson needs to be in every movie in the MCU - she's fun to watch from the second she shows up in this movie.  Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster was so freaking weird that you had to like him. Nobody played the comedic "straight man" - everybody did something or said something silly or funny.  I can only imagine what this set must have been like for the months they took to film it.  Well, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins weren't in it long enough to joke or jape.

The fight choreography could have been better, but it was comic book-y; so, it was fine for what it was.  There's no reason to see this in 3D, but whatever they converted that wasn't shot in 3D still looked good in 3D.  

ASIDE: Interestingly, with all the silliness, there's one thing that has always bothered me about Thor.  There's little to no thunder to be heard.  Lightning... yes, but thunder... too much to ask, I guess. Theoretically, the thunder would follow just one of the lightning bolts flying around this film. You have everything from Thor's sparkly hands to giant bolts of lightning - one would think they could throw some thunderclaps in the movie at some point, but that's just me.  I mean, at least throw a Asgardian Yardie in the background somewhere and let them do a proper thunderclap.  Give me something, boss.

As much as I wanted to give the writers credit for a funny movie that makes you laugh and even makes grown folk giggle throughout, the stars have been talking up how much of the movie was improv or ad-libbed - if that is indeed the case, the writers only deserve credit as far as they crafted the story line and framework for this flick.  Waititi, the director, deserves plaudits for piecing together an entertaining and cohesive film that had a crap-ton of action (the good kind, not the Transformers BS that drags on and on) and was tongue and cheek without being lame.

It's definitely worth seeing.  It's a good date movie  (I hope the one I was going to see this with doesn't realize and read this until long after its on cable - she never does read my stuff, so I should be good money) - assuming your date likes to laugh and isn't one of those posh, I only watch Indie film, I roll my own cigarettes after hot yoga, skinny jean & fedora wearing folks - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Note: Stay for the mid-credit scene, but don't bother staying for the post-credit scene.

IMTHATDUDE gives Thor: Ragnarok: 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.

7.10.2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Back when Tobey Maguire was introduced to us as Spider-Man (cerca 2002) in the early days of Marvel's box office barrage, it's fairly safe to say that no one thought there could have been a better choice for Peter Parker. After Spider-Man: Homecoming, that is entirely up for debate.  - Maguire is still the best American-bred actor cast to play Spider-Man, now that we've had a brief stint with Andrew Garfield (a Brit) as the Amazing Spider-Man, and now Tom Holland (another Brit) as a fourteen year old high school Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

So far, I have to say, DC still beats Marvel this year despite the excellent casting move of bringing in Holland to play your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.  By that I mean, Wonder Woman is still leading the pack, but this is very, very different kind of superhero movie with a lot less weight on its shoulders.  But I'll get into that a little bit later.

VITALS
Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley (Horrible Bosses, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2) - Writers*
Jon Watts (Cop Car)- Director
Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z, Captain America: Civil War) - Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Laura Harrier (The Last Five Years, 4th Man Out) - Liz
Michael Keaton (Batman, Birdman) - Adrian Toomes/Vulture
Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man, Sherlock) - Tony Stark/Iron Man
Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Wolf of Wall Street) - Happy Hogan
Zendaya (I only know her as some youngin on DWTS) - Michelle
Hannibal Burress (Neighbors, Baywatch) - Gym Coach
Bokeem Woodbine (Riddick, Black Dynamite) - Herman
Jacob Batalon (North Woods...?  never heard of it and won't be seeing it, but w/e) - Ned

*The writers' filmography explains a lot about this movie.

IF YOU MUST KNOW

We first saw this new (younger model) Peter Parker as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, but now he is being fully introduced in his own flick with a few tweaks to his story line.  In this version of Spider-Man, we meet him as a nerdy - bordering geeky) high school student.  He has just fought alongside the likes of Iron Man, and Black Panther (Aside: I expect his movie to be effing dope! If you haven't seen it, take a look at the link at the bottom of this page.) but is back in Queens... if that don't make you feel bad for the boy, you might be heartless.

Parker, a high school freshman, is struggling with finding his place in life; sounds like a typical coming of age story, but it isn't - although bits are thrown into Spider-Man: Homecoming.  This centers around Parker's handling of what to do post-Avengers linkup.  Along the way we see that Parker is teen crushing on the lovely Liz (Harrier), a senior who is as smart and ambitious as she is cute. By the way, we're supposed to suspend our disbelief and accept that this "girl" is just a high school senior and not just a slim, yet full-grown woman 21 Jump Streeting as a high schooler -


In Parker's quest to prove himself to Tony Stark (RDJ) and become a real Avenger, he ends up trying to thwart what seems a to be local arms dealers trafficking in the sale of converted alien technology (left over from the Avengers battle in New York).  That tech has been converted into weapons that are way too powerful and way too advanced for the men using them in low-level robberies and heists of the brand usually manageable by local heroes like Spider-Man.  When Parker attempts to bring this information to the attention of the Avengers, he gets boofed and silenced because nobody is trying to hear a 14-year old yap about what they know that no one else does (and 9/10 times boofing these kids is the right way to handle that sort of thing).  This puts Spider-Man in direct line of conflict with  the leader of the arms dealing crew, Vulture (Keaton).

Parker accidentally exposes his secret identity to his buddy, Ned (played artfully and accurately by Jacob Batalon), who literally volunteers to be Spider-Man's quintessential sidekick, or as he calls it "the man in the chair."   He's also flanked by the likes of a weird and snarky but darkly comedic Michelle (played by the almost unrecognizable and mononymous, Zendaya), who proceeds to make comments that most of us cynics would probably have thought or said if we saw our friends doing the same things as Petey Parker and Ned.  Michelle strikes the broodingly realistic tones of Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club or Raven from Teen Titans.


I try not to spoil movies by giving too many details about what happens, but I think you get it. Spidey is a teenager, with teenage problems that are complicated by his abilities.  He's had a taste of the big time and wishes for more, which further complicates his life.  Parker's surrounding crew of friends, family, PE coaches, etc., contribute both to his desire to be more than just a teenager in Queens or an obscure neighborhood hero, and also to Parker/Spidey's eventual realization of who he is and what is most important.

So, what makes this movie good, better, or meh...?  Casting was pretty good.  Liz, eh.  Not so sure about that one.   Good actress, but the combination of Harrier* and Holland makes it a bit tough to believe that there could be a romantic relationship.  Keaton played a pretty good villain. The plot landed and the script was pretty strong.  Given the writers' movie history, it makes a lot of sense why this movie was more funny than anything else.  Where the first Iron Man and Thor were witty, this movie was definitely youthfully comedic.  It was a good call to incorporate other marvel characters throughout so that there is support and continuity.  More importantly, we didn't have to see the whole Spider-Man origin story in Homecoming.  Thank you, Sweet Baby Jesus!  

Overall, it was entertaining and better than the last three Spider-Man movies, easily better than Andrew Garfield's (no disrespect he is a stellar actor, but those movies fairly mediocre).  Tough call between Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but I would give Spider-Man: Homecoming the edge over Guardians.  It was not as much of a heavy lift as Wonder Woman was and there was nothing groundbreaking about it (plus, there was no Gal Gadot which automatically makes this a little bit less than...), so Wonder Woman wins the day.  We'll see if Marvel can top DC's latest when they release their next film in the MCU (for the uninitiated, that's the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Thor: Ragnarok - which will be premiere just before the Justice League movie in November.  Looking forward to that battle.

Note: If you are on a tight schedule, both the mid-credit scene and the post-credit scene are not worth your time.  One was amusing and one added very little to the story or experience.  I waited and watched both and as much as the post-credit scene was clever and all that good stuff it was several minutes of waiting for nothing; so, if you skip it, you'll live and no one will look at you as though you missed some super important reveal if you tell them that you left and they happened to have been foolish enough, like me, to have stayed.

* Post Review Addendum: It turns out, all of the main actors playing high school kids were born in 1996... except for one - Ms. Harrier (Parker's love interest) - she's a youngin, but let's just say - as I told my my ex-girlfriend, "you and I both know I'm always right even when I'm wrong." - I knew one of these kids was doing their own thing.

IMTHATDUDE gives Spider-Man: Homecoming: 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.

AFTER REVIEW EXTRAS


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)
Related image
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 -
Related image
*** 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.