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Solo: A Star Wars Story

I heard that Solo didn’t do as well as expected at the box office, although I didn’t know if it was because it was bad, had tough competition, or people were just tired of Star Wars. I certainly came in with low expectations since it wasn’t a must watch movie for me. I was pleasantly surprised with it. It brought back the classic characters (Han, Chewbacca, Lando) and explained Han’s back story in an entertaining manner.

The characterizations of these classic characters were extremely well done. They felt like how we had always known them. Even the new characters (Kira) were likeable and seemed to fit their roles. However, throughout the movie, I kept wondering who were Force-active. I suppose all the heroes were since they could do amazing things. I guess that’s what happens in a movie with no Jedi.

Overall a fun film which elaborates on history we know. Three out of five stars.

Avengers: Infinity War

With 10 years of movies to build up to this monumental event, there were a lot of expectations riding on this movie to provide closure, or at least a starting point for a new string of movies. Hold that thought, this event is a two-parter, so in actuality, we don’t get to conclude anything here.

However, this movie is still important to tell the story of this massive event. Assembling more than the Avengers, there are a lot of plotlines that have to come together, and many parts of the story to tell. In comics world, you can just have multiple books handling it (the TPB will still be scatterbrained though). In movie world, there is no good way to do it. Given the limited time, all team ups still felt forced. And then there is still the need to put in set pieces for comedic relief. All that ends up doing is make things feel disjointed and rushed. The premise of the story may have been grand but the execution sucks.

Sure, after seeing this movie, I know how Thanos assembled the Infinity Gauntlet, and what happened to the universe. It wasn’t enjoyable though and I could have just read a synopsis. Maybe we have just had enough of Marvel movies. 2 out of 5 stars.

Fahrenheit 451

I never ended up reading this monumental book while in school, so I figured I should watch the movie to catch up. I knew the gist of Fahrenheit 451 (firemen burn books instead of putting out fires), but didn’t know the story. The movie modernizes the idea and, although it never states it, frames it in a world of fake news, online 24/7, and emojis.

The unfortunate thing about this movie is that the script is not very good. The character development is not believable. The dystopian world is hard to believe because it’s ingrained in our current society (maybe that’s what it is trying to say?). I did notice that the movie was filmed in Toronto – there are several scenes from Finch subway station which are unmistakable.

After the movie, I guess I know the general plot of Farenheit 451. However, I would say it is just a 2 out of 5 movie.

August 2018

And with that, summer was over. The boys were in the same camp for most of the month, so routine was pretty static. Now it’s back to school, with Jovian starting junior kindergarten. August started out hot (continuation of July) so we didn’t spend too much time outdoors, but we did do some biking on the bike paths (they’ve graduated from the front of the house). Also because of the heat; this summer, we only went fruit picking once (for peaches). Maybe we’ll go more in September.

I had planned to go to NYC for work in the last week of August, but plans changed and I ended up in Korea instead. Luckily, it was not as hot as when I went in July, but I also didn’t have time for my own adventures (plus it was rainy every day I was there).

Last month, I had been putting more emphasis on Disney Heroes, but I found myself keeping a more steady diet of that and Timelines. This is partially because the honeymoon phase of Disney Heroes is done, and I’ve realized that it is an endless hamster wheel (even worse than Star Trek). I have already a big investment in Timelines and I’m not at a stage that I want to give that up yet. So I rebalanced a bit and made sure I’m still successful in STT. Hearthstone also released an expansion this month. I bought a few packs, but it’s more of the same, and not that fun still (first player puzzles don’t appeal to me that much).

Ready Player One

Ready Player One happens in 2045, which is a near enough future to be interesting. While not a focus of the film, I did like seeing glimpses of how things will look like then. This movie felt like a movie I saw when I was younger, where a kid enters a video game tournament and has to play Super Mario Bros in the championship game.

Ready Player One is an adult version of that film, with themes that resonant with now and recent history. You could imagine that in an alternate history, Second Life kept going and became OASIS. Although, I don’t think users would actually zero out – no matter how tied to our daily lives and finances an online account is (e.g. Google account), if there is a chance you will die and lose everything, you would just use a second account for any death-defying stuff (like raid against major corporations).

The story itself is kid-friendly, although with plenty of fan-service cameos to make the Otaku happy. It has a polished story, although I am not sure how believable it actually is that an Easter egg didn’t get solved after 5 years. Given the Spielberg connection, I could see this movie being this generation’s ET. Although I am not sure how old you should be to see this movie (I saw ET when I was young and remember being scared of it – not of the alien but his behaviour). Ready Player One is a solid 4 out of 5 for its portrayal of future society.

Rampage

Rampage was one of the earliest video games I played, I think I actually played it first on an arcade machine. But beyond that little memory, I have no attachment to the franchise. When I saw that there was a movie about it, first thing I thought was surprise as it has been a long time since the game was popular (although it makes sense as it is about the same time frame as Voltron and He-Man).

Second, I saw The Rock was in it and he seems perfect for this type of role. Honestly, I expected this movie to be just like Pacific Rim with a mix of Jumanji – that was pretty close, although it skewed more on the Pacific Rim side. The script is what you would expect of a b-movie, although I feel as though big budget scripts in general are a lot better these days. Also, The Rock can say any cheesy line and make it sound real.

Like most summer blockbusters, it is a light affair that has a bunch of destruction. They do climb and bust down a building like in the game, but I wouldn’t say they level a building. Unlike all the troops, the hero has supreme luck and a supernatural ability to stay alive against caricature villains and the beasts.

At the end of the day, Rampage didn’t need its source material, I think it is an interesting story on its own (reminiscent of The Host). I would give it 3 out of 5 but wouldn’t expect a sequel.

Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde was an interesting film based off of original source material (still a comic, but not one that I was familiar with). I liked it for several reasons: 1) it was set in 1989, but a 1989 that had been updated with a modern touch of style (even though it was in Cold War Berlin), 2) It had a great soundtrack, and 3) Charlize Theron was the star. For me, they worked well together, although other people might not enjoy the same aesthetic.

The movie is a spy-vs-spy one, with a lot of fighting and blood (probably a Rated R movie). In retrospect, the story and reasoning for the actions are a muddle, but it made sense and was entertaining while watching it. The movie wasn’t good just because of the music and the style, but its take on the Cold War. It’s also a nice break to get away from Marvel/DC films, or other big blockbusters.

I enjoyed this one – 3 out of 5 stars.

July 2018

Back when I was in public school, I always thought summers were pretty long! Then I went to University with their 4 month “summers” (sometimes Coop) and those were even longer. Well as an adult with kids in school, 2 months is definitely no longer long. I can’t believe we’re halfway through summer already.

We started off July with a trip to Rochester to make good use of our membership at the Strong museum. Then it was off to camp for the kids. Each boy was in a different camp every week so that’s 8 camps in the month! I also ended up in Korea for a week for work.

It was hot everywhere. Above 30°C in Korea, Rochester and Canada. We had a couple of cooler days in the month, but it has been a pretty hot summer around the world. We cooled off by going skating (skating camp for a week) and with our weekly lessons on Saturday. It’s strange and awkward to go from shorts to jackets.

So far this year, we’ve used the “front yard of our house” (e.g., the street) much more than the backyard. The kids are at an age where they want to ride bikes and run around, which doesn’t work well in our backyard. Fortunately, the shadows from our block cover most of the street in the late afternoon and evenings, so even with the hot temperatures, they are able to run around there.

Tomb Raider

I’m not sure why they chose to remake Tomb Raider. I think the Angelina Jolie version was pretty faithful to the video game, and the last one I saw came out in 2003 (15 years ago isn’t that long). I guess the reason was to capture and cash in on GenX nostalgia – is the game even relevant anymore?

Yet I watched it. I think the Tomb Raider games of yesteryear have been replaced with infinite runners, and there was a little of both in this movie. The premise is the same, rich English girl running around in exotic places (Asia – to make money on that side of the world, instead of South America or Africa), looking for stuff based on legendary rumors; but somehow with fewer guns and more fist fighting.

From the view of someone who was never deeply into the series, it seems like an OK movie (I would have missed most references). But the key question for me is, does this movie even need the Tomb Raider brand? It could have been the same adventure story without it. Anyways, 3 out of 5 stars on this enjoyable but meaningless romp.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Now that Infinity War is out, I guess it’s a little late but better than never to catch up on the Marvel/Avengers universe. The saving grace is that I still haven’t seen Infinity War yet (it hasn’t shown up on inflight entertainment yet). I missed Age of Ultron and have seen several movies after this in the timeline (Civil War, Spider-Man, Thor and Black Panther) which made reference to it. So I was interested to see what I missed.

I’m not sure if it’s because I knew what was going to happen in the future, or if I’m tired of Marvel movies, or if this one just wasn’t that great; but Age of Ultron felt very plain to me. It had the usual Marvel Movie Formula (comedic sidecracks, fights, Stan Lee cameo, etc) so if you like that stuff, you can’t complain; but it just wasn’t overly interesting. The Ultron character was also off-putting – I’m not sure if his personality is like that in the comics or they just wrote him to be so annoying for the movie.

In the end, it’s a necessary watch to move along in the universe (since it introduces Vision and Scarlet Witch), but it wasn’t that fun. Barely manages a 3 out of 5 stars.