UrbanRhetoric

UrbanRhetoric

6.16.2018

Ocean's 8


I'm a fan of the original Oceans 11 (the one with Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and Sinatra) and the reboot with Clooney and Brad Pitt.  Now, I'm a fan of Ocean's 8... well, I'm more a fan of the concept of Ocean's 8.  Don't get me wrong, it was pretty good, but it was also entirely too predictable.  Aside from that, it was a good introduction to this Ocean's crew of thieves and it was exceptionally entertaining.  Sometimes (with how many movies I've watched, critiqued, analyzed, and fanboy'd) I get bogged down and miss the forest for the trees... I ran the risk of doing that here, but fortunately the woman I was with kept that from happening - she was more exuberant about the little things than I was - wait... what I mean to say is that she was more excited about things like the casting and discovering what I thought were thinly veiled plot twists than I was.  Ocean's 8 is the first real date movie I've enjoyed in some years.  
Image result for ocean's 8 rihanna
SIDE NOTE: In other news... Rihanna is arguably the sexiest woman breathing right now (with only Lupita Nyongo #WakandaForever challenging her)… no disrespect to my lovely date (but I can't really respect her opinion since she went out with me and is in love with Alex Rodriguez...?).

VITALS 
Gary Ross (Free State of Jones, The Hunger Games) - Director (Free State of Jones, The Hunger Games)
Gary Ross (Free State of Jones, The Hunger Games) & Olivia Milch (Dude) - Writers

Image result for oceans 8Sandra Bullock - Debbie Ocean
Anne Hathaway - Daphne Kluger
Rihanna - Nine Ball
Helena Bonham Carter - Rose Weil
Sarah Paulson - Tammy
Awkwafina - Constance
Mindy Kaling - Amita
James Corden - Insurance Investigator
Richard Armitage - Claude Becker 

IF YOU MUST KNOW
(SPOILER ALERT)

Debbie Ocean is out of prison on parole (see Ocean's 11) and she’s been plotting her next job every minute she spent in the hole.  That’s the first connection we have with Danny Ocean (Ocean’s 11).  We quickly find out after she gets out that Danny’s no dead - maybe.  Danny’s little sister and she has mapped out everything down to the kind of crew that she needs pull off a job that will bring in so much money, they should never need to pull another job again… at least, not until Ocean’s 9 – and I hope they find a way to fit in Julia Roberts. 

First, Debbie seeks out her old ace, Lou (Blanchett) who is basically the Rusty (Brad Pitt) of the crew.  Lou is the one who compiles the talent and helps Debbie figure out the logistics of her high-handed plan to rob the MET Gala for the great gobs of jewels that the celebs and celebutants.  Then, they go out and solicit the talents of old friends (some semi-retired, some otherwise occupied) and new friends - all of whom are enticed by the idea of either working with Ocean and Lou or by the value of the loot to be divvied up at the end of the heist.

Long story, slightly shortened - everybody they look for is in.  They have a hick-up here and there (most of which were so minor as to be unworthy of mention) and Ocean (just like her brother, Danny) has a side mission attached to this jewelry heist; unlike Danny, she is working an angle to screw over the guy who snitched on her and broke her heart, Claude Becker (Armitage).

The heist happens, shenanigans ensue, and Debbie Ocean's 8 walk away with plenty of booty to spare.  See what I did there?
Aside from the cute-siness of the tagline "Every con has its pros," the biggest problem I have with this movie is that there is only one twist that is not predictable as hell and even that twist is relatively meaningless.  I'm not a complete bastard, so I won't tell you what it is, but let's just say the payoff for this particular twist doesn't really make much of a difference to me.  Maybe it's a function of the fact that this is officially the fifth Ocean's '#' movie and after a certain point, you kinda get it.  Ocean plans caper, Ocean gets crew together, crew makes Ocean's idea into a plan, crew's plan works despite Ocean, Ocean's crew walks away scot-free with a crap load of loot.  

Image result for oceans 8Now, like I said, I was fortunate to go see this with a particularly savvy woman (besides, I am too old to be hanging out with dummies) who summed it up pretty well… Ocean's 8 is fun and it has “all my favorite people in it” – well, it may have all of her favorite people, but definitely multiple of my favorite female actors are in it.  Helena Bonham Carter, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, and the magnificent Sarah Paulson.  I was missing Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Nicole Beharie, Zoe Saldana, and the incomparable Lupita in this flick - if they added 2 or more of these women, I would have been there twice on opening night day.

Not exactly groundbreaking or as slick and twisty as any of the Clooney Ocean's movies, but it was solid.  It was a great date movie, light and entertaining with a talented cast. I definitely detected a few Thomas Crown Affair-type nods (either one McQueen or Brosnan).  Good enough to watch again - when it comes out on one of those streaming services.  And, in my humble nerdy opinion... it was at least as good as Avengers: Infinity War (Pt. I) - snap that sh#, Thanos!

PS: Did I mention she's in this too (even though they tried to make her not sexy)...
Image result for ocean's 8 rihanna


IMTHATDUDE gives Ocean's 8: 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.

2.18.2018

Black Panther


Image result for black panther movie photos
Way back in July 2017 (before anybody outside of the studio execs saw more than the teaser trailer) I said that I expect Black Panther to be "effing dope!"  I may have been wrong.  It was better than that. It was SOFA.KING.DOPE it's not even fair.  It's been a long time coming... Black Panther is the first comic book movie/superhero film that actually means something AND it is absolutely top notch in terms of its quality.  It isn't "good... for a black movie" or "good, but it should have been better if they had blah blah blah..." It is legit better than best Iron Man (I) movie, better than the best Avengers (I) movie, better than the best Captain America (Civil War) better than Wonder Woman (which was the best DC movie in recent decades), and it kicks Deadpool in the nuts - and these are all movies I like!

Black Panther was stellar from the dead on perfect casting to the action and comedic writing.  The only thing that gave me pause prior to seeing it was whether the script would hold up to the expectations from Captain America: Civil War.

Shout out to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for creating a black superhero like this back in the 1960s.  I wont dig too deep into their motivation for creating Black Panther, I'll just say... good call.  #WAKANDAFOREVER  Fast forward and we find Ta Nehisi Coates (a journalist and one of the most influential black authors of our time) has a graphic novel version of the re-imagined Black Panther that I suggest real fans pick up - it's a good read.  It was a little bit of concern to me that the names attached to this movie were relative newcomers to the big screen.  Ryan Coogler, the director, who had done Creed and Fruitvale Station; both exceptional films, but nothing on this scale. It was also written by Coogler and another newbie to this type of film, Joe Robert Cole.  Nothing they did was this kind of action and they were super dramatic.  Not to mention...  they're both BLACK!  Say whuh?  Yup.  A predominantly black cast, black writers, black director, and it wasn't a movie about sports, civil rights, or big mama... and there's nobody in the major credits whose name rhymes with Pyler Terry?  Already sounding awesome to me.

Image result for DORA MILAJE
Damn near every performance is a breakout performance.  I would go so far even as to say that this should be nominated for multiple Oscars next year.  As much as I think the Oscars ain't all they're cracked up to be (otherwise Denzel would have won for Roman J. Israel and Malcolm X) - hence the birth of the Shammi Awards.

VITALS
Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) - Director
Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) and Joe Robert Cole (American Crime Story) - Writers
Chadwick Boseman (42, Marshall) - T'Challa/Black Panther
Michael B Jordan (Creed, Fruitvale Station) - Killmonger
Lupita Nyongo (12 Years a Slave, ) - Nakia
Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead, ) - General Okoye
Letitia Wright (The Commuter, and Black Mirror) - Shuri
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, ) - W'Kabi
Sterling K. Brown (This is Us, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Marshall) - N'Jobu
Matin Freeman (The Hobbit, TV's Sherlock) - Agent Ross
Angela Bassett (Notorious, This Means War) - Queen Ramonda
Winston Davis (Person of Interest, Modern Family)- M'Baku
Florence Kasumba (Captain America: Civil War, Wonder Woman) - Ayo
Cast also includes Forrest Whittaker, John Kani, and Andi Serkis

WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN A SPOILER OR TWO  - READING FURTHER MAY NOT SUIT SOME

IF YOU MUST KNOW


King T'Chaka is dead and Prince T'Challa (Boseman) must return home to be crowned king of Wakanda, a nation believed to be a "third-world" country made up of farmers and tribes of little significance.  What should be an easy ascension to the throne becomes complicated by rivals in the time of political uncertainty - sounding familiar... if not, don't worry, you'll get there.  First, the prince is challenged by the leader of another tribe who believes T'Challa to be weak and unworthy of the mantle of Black Panther.  By way of brief background, the Black Panther is the protector and leader of Wakanda.  This title is not one that is merely bestowed based upon lineage, but there is an opportunity for worthy warriors to challenge the putative king for his spot and the Black Panther mantle - kind of like what Diddy tried to do with his show The Four

Image result for black panther movie photosT'Challa has the powers of the Black Panther (heightened strength, reflexes, healing power, stamina - you know... Black people stuff) stripped away to from him to face this warrior-challenger on equal footing.  Of course he wins, but then he receives advice that all good leaders should adhere to - surround yourself with good people that you trust. So, he does precisely that.  He has the faithful General Okoye (Gurira) of the Dora Milaje, the warrior women sworn to protect the throne that make the Amazons in Wonder Woman look like Girl Scouts, mom dukes (Bassett), and bae - Nakia (Nyongo).  Interestingly, he didn't really surround himself with a bunch of dudes.  Bruh... neither would I, but we'll have to delve into that at another time.  ASIDE: The sheer number of beautiful black women in this one film does make you think, how come you don't get more of them in movies that aren't written and directed by black/brown folks?  I mean, com'on son.  These women looked good with MY haircut.  They gotta be poppin.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT - READING FURTHER MAY NOT SUIT SOME

No sooner than he handles his first test does the next adversary step up; this one is much more unexpected than the first and it hits a lot closer to home.  This test of his leadership also comes as he also has to face internal questions of his own worthiness.

Image result for black panther movie photos
In every hero film, there's the all is lost moment.  Of course, the stakes have to be really high - not just a loss of a title, or his powers; there has to be more at risk.  If T'Challa loses this second challenge to his position, it means that he conceded or he's dead.  And either way, it means he doesn't get to do this with fam anymore:  
Anybody with a special handshake and salute will tell you that if anybody messes with that, that person is really violating and should expect trouble.  But no, that's not the only thing at risk here if T'Challa loses.  If his new nemesis, Killmonger (Jordan) happens to be successful, the once reclusive nation of Wakanda will change forever.  Change is good if you're talking Obama, but not so good if you're talking Orange grown man babies from Queens - ya dig?  Killmonger will move Wakanda into age of war and interventionism (taking their knowledge, resources, and technology to the outside world for the first time) the likes of which they have never seen before.

Ordinarily, there's enough about a movie that tickles my sardonic compulsion to clown it or belittle pieces of it.  Black Panther had a couple of moments that could have pushed it right into that realm if they lingered just a hair too long or appeared more frequently.  Fortunately, that did not happen.  Although a couple of my Blue and White Brothers had a couple of solid jokes about Keenan Ivory Wayans popping up in the movies shouting "Message!"
Truth - this movie could not be better timed or executed.  The kingdom of Wakanda is the most technologically advanced nation in the world and richer than the outside world knows.  The creators of the comic and the writers of the movie could not have anticipated comments that would be made by 45 about "s-hole" countries in Africa, Latin America, or the Caribbean when they were writing the script.  

There's more to Black Panther than just a bunch of fights and special effects - everything from the barking Jabari tribe giving CIA Agent Ross (Freeman) the business when he tries to speak in their presence, to Killmonger's "hey, Auntie," to Shuri referring to Agent Ross as a "colonizer" in the way brown women can say things playfully whilst cutting your throat (gotta love that), to the Dora Milaje busting that a$$.

Image result for black panther movie photos
Killmonger is an excellent villain.  He's a madman with a vision and a hell of a vendetta. More importantly, his mission is something that kind of makes sense and even resonates with people like me.  He wasn't trying to watch the world burn like most of those ridiculous Bond villains.  He was trying to give a forgotten people a fighting chance to flip the tables on a world that has oppressed them for hundreds of years.  You can almost cosign him.  Villains that have twisted good intentions just enough to be sinister and if they happen to match up well against the hero... that's a great villain.  Black Panther vs. Killmonger made for exceptional dramatic interplay against the backdrop of all of the socio-political issues that this movie addressed at times with a little tongue and cheek approach.  The end result is that there's really nothing to pick apart with this movie.  I'm doing my best not to give away the story and the meanings behind some of the more important lines in the movie that had this woman next to me say "Yassss" every ten seconds. Aside: Yes, she was stereotypical, but the white girl in the row behind me wasn't much better.  I could have used the Dora Milaje at iPic.  

Image result for black panther movie photosSo what the Wakandan accents were all over the place for a couple of folks; there's a bunch of tribes that make up the kingdom, maybe it's like having a Brooklyn accent vs a Jersey accent.  So what there were clear messages being dropped in this flick; more movies need to do the same.  In fact, all hero movies should be about that something important.  So what they tokenized the white dudes; it's about damned time.  This movie is culturally relevant without being a strictly FUBU.  It is pro-feminism (see Shuri, the General Okoye, and Nakia).  It's anti-empirical.  On top of all of that, it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.  I'm looking forward to seeing it again... and then at least one more time after that.

WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN A SPOILER OR TWO  - READING FURTHER MAY NOT SUIT SOME

There were two post-credit scenes.  

The first post-credit scene was very much a throwback to the movie that launched this whole MCU takeover, Iron Man.  It was so obvious it had to be an homage.   Now King T'Challa has a Tony Stark moment of his own.  

The second post-credit scene was not really worth staying for unless you are a real fan or movie nerd, like me.  The second post-credit scene just lets you see that one of the pivotal characters from Captain America: Civil War ended up in Wakanda.  No biggie... yet.

Black Panther comics have been around since the 60s which makes pictures like this all the more poignant - 

Related image

IMTHATDUDE gives Black Panther: 5 

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.

11.05.2017

Thor: Ragnarok

I 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)
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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.