April 9, 2019
This new version of Spider-Man had a lot of hype and I think it lived up to it. Essentially it is a yet-another-reboot of Spider-Man, but still in the Sony universe. For once, the long-lost cousin who owns a bit of the Marvel movie rights have a good comic movie on their hands.
Into the Spider-verse is a weird movie. The whole concept is wack and I think a bit too complex for the casual movie fan (collision of multiple dimensions). Not that they won’t understand it but it just seems too far-fetched unless you read comics where it happens all the time. Then it’s a “cartoon”, but not for little kids like Teen Titans Go To The Movies. I guess they made it a cartoon because some of the scenes couldn’t be visualized in a realistic way. The art style and constant breaking of the fourth way/dropping into comic book style is a huge risk and could have turned out incredibly bad. It didn’t though, although at times it felt a little too much.
What is amazing though, that the movie turned out to be great. Even though the premise was wack, the story kept the key themes of a Spider-Man story intact, but refreshed to be relevant to today’s youth. You have the geeky guy who accidentally gets bitten, learns to use their powers, and the a-ha moment of when he finally controls them. The plot follows the typical superhero/supervillain arch and they try to make it up to date for the pubescent crowd (with some laughs as well). But the real gem is how they were able to weave everything into something that works instead of flopping. Four out of five stars.
February 24, 2019
I think I’ve seen portions of the Teen Titans TV show while vacationing with the kids, but I haven’t watched enough to know what their mannerisms and songs are. So going into this movie blind, it felt like there were a lot of in-jokes that missed. That’s ok though because this is a kids movie (like a real one, not a Pixar one) so you can just jump in and out of it.
I guess the best way to put this is that they took the “Teen” Titans and made them 6 years old, complete with the potty jokes. The plot revolves around the other DC heroes having movies made about them, while Robin desperately wants one (as he sees that as legitimizing him as a superhero). So he does whatever he has to do to get a movie, involves the villain Deathstroke (except they can’t call him that so they just use his normal name Slade), and then learns a life lesson.
There are a lot of DC heroes in Teen Titans Go To The Movies, the Justice League act like adults and behave as you would expect kids to see adults. The action is crazy and nonsensical (even though it is a cartoon, it’s not a Into The Spiderverse level of movie). However, it was fun even for adults. Three out of five.
February 20, 2019
I watched the first Fantastic Four movie (with Jessica Alba), and even the second one; and given the critical reception of them, I’m not sure why they decided to remake it. The group is not popular or well known either. However, it is one of the last Marvel films I haven’t seen so I took a try on it. I didn’t know that this version was a teen movie though (and I don’t recognize the cast except for Michael B. Jordan).
The movie is pretty short (around 90mins) which doesn’t give a lot of time to do anything after explaining how the crew got their powers. Dr Doom shows up, they have a quick battle to save the day, and the movie is done. If I wasn’t familiar with the characters, I would have thought that there wasn’t much substance to the movie. However, since I know the FF, it was a fun romp in expected territory. This movie gets three out of five stars from me (not any worse or any better than the first run through).
December 22, 2018
I had to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp because it looks like these characters and their environment will be very important in Avengers: Endgame. Before seeing that trailer, I wasn’t really interested in this movie because I always thought that Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Wasp were dumb heroes (definitely B or C-List). In fact, I totally forgot that there was an Ant-Man movie and this was a sequel!
I thought the casting was interesting – I hadn’t seen Michelle Pfeiffer in any movies for awhile. She’s still quite recognizable (on the other hand Evangeline Lilly hasn’t aged well). The rest of the movie and story are forgettable – for some reason, I found the comedy and comedic set pieces to be pretty lame (maybe they reflect how the Scott Lang character is more lame than other cooler superheroes). I just wanted to learn more about the quantum zone and know all the characters/tech when they appear later.
If not for the Avengers connection, this movie could be a straight-to-video release. Two out of five stars, partly because the movie sucks, partly because the hero sucks.
November 12, 2018
After Dr Strange’s appearance in Infinity War, I wanted to see what the movie version of his origin story would be like. Although, I may have read his backstory in the past, I don’t really remember it so I didn’t have much to reference against. The movie version seemed relatively believable though.
I think Dr Strange is a little different than other Marvel films. While the other superheros have physical skills, Dr Strange’s powers are mystical so it’s not easy to predict what he can and can’t do. It’s like magic, but different than what Thor/Loki uses. That elevates the usual rote Marvel fare into unknown territory. Some of the fights are really intense because the world becomes an Escher playground when in the mirror dimension.
There was some Astral plane stuff too which was interesting to see how they would represent that in a movie setting. And of course, there was a big infinity stone preview – although I watched the movies in the wrong order so it wasn’t that surprising. The post credit scene was just a preview of Thor: Ragnarok. I guess this movie is a 3 out of 5 stars too.
November 9, 2018
It’s been many years since I watched The Incredibles, and I hardly remember the story. However the characters are relevant because of the marketing campaign for The Incredibles II (plus I was at Disney) as well as the fact that I have been playing a Disney game that includes the heroes.
That’s probably why I was surprised when Elastigirl had a Southern drawl to her character – I didn’t remember that at all! Violet also looked a lot droopier than I expected. I guess her cartoon in the game was photoshopped. Aside from that, I’m not too sure what to think of the movie. It didn’t feel like a kid film (except that no one died) and they certainly dealt with a lot of adult themes. I guess I can relate to the daddy daycare, but that just felt like comedic relief and killing time (it was great that Jack Jack had a variety of cool superpowers, but he didn’t do anything with it!)
I did like the retro, silver-age theme (although I don’t remember if the first was set in that time frame too). Overall, this just felt like a normal superhero movie wrapped in a Pixar skin. It didn’t feel special but I suppose it wasn’t bad. 3 out of 5 stars.
September 7, 2018
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.
July 25, 2018
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.
May 27, 2018
I saw Black Panther with high expectations, after hearing rave reviews about how it had a narrative that reflected and discussed world issues. While that was somewhat true, because there was an overarching theme about leveling the playing field for oppressed cultures (whether the right way to do this is by arming them, is a sub point), that was the only world issue that was prominently discussed.
In fact, I would say that Black Panther is your typical action hero movie. The cast is almost all black (makes sense for a movie situated in Africa), but of course the American roles are played by whites. There is a jaunt to Asia to make the film more exotic (how many films feature Africa as the locale?), and the fight involves two superheros in similar suits (otherwise how would it be a fair fight?). Women have empowering roles, but they also hang around as eye candy.
I just don’t see Black Panther as a progressive film, or one the is remarkable beyond the seasonal Marvel fare. It’s not bad – I enjoyed it as much as Man Of Steel, but it’s only a 3 out of 5 movie.
April 29, 2018
With almost as many remakes and reboots as Batman, and a less interesting catalogue of stories, I wondered if Man Of Steel was going to be good. Even the name is weird, imagine going to see a movie called Web Slinger.
Anyways, the movie focused on some lesser seen aspects of the backstory – an extended sequence of what it was like on Krypton and how the new “fortress of solitude” was discovered. I liked that because we had seen the rest of his childhood many times before. I felt the “superhero discovery moment” (when they discover or use their powers for the first time) was weak. Superman learning to fly is just not as fun to watch as Spider-man’s excitement when web slinging.
The arrival of General Zod and ensuing battles were not that interesting. It was actually unbelievable because, as Zod himself said, a farm boy was fighting a team of trained combat veterans that had the same powers he did. Furthermore, they basically levelled Metropolis (which is a precursor to Batman v Superman), but I think those buildings need to be stronger against human-sized bullets.
I didn’t think it was a terrible movie, which I was afraid of based on how press and reviews shun DC movies. It’s not a movie I’m interested in seeing again though, so that gives it a 3 out of 5.
March 26, 2018
Growing up, I enjoyed reading more about the Justice League of America than the Avengers, even though I liked the Marvel universe more. But with movies, the quality and quantity is so skewed towards the Avengers, that it is hard to put together a coherent feeling about Justice League. I approached the first JLA film with some trepidation since I don’t know if it was going to be great like WW, or OK like Batman v Superman, or just disinterested like the Superman movies. What spurred me to watch it was that it was a short film (although I still had to split it across two flights).
I haven’t watched any of the DC TV series so I don’t know if characters like the Flash translated through, or whether it is a new backstory. Being the first film, there had to be some time devoted to creating the characters and the team. I am fine how that happened, and like Spider-man in Captain America: Civil War, it’s actually a good teaser for their solo films. But once the team was together, their nemesis and mission seemed lame. Steppenwolf is at most a B-list villain and his character, minions and plan seemed cartoon-y. I guess they didn’t have the time to put together a stronger villain or nefarious scheme.
Justice League is a 3 out of 5 movie. There are some good things about the DC movie empire but there’s also a lot of boring stuff. This movie didn’t stink and I would be interested in seeing what the JLA tackles next (a real bad guy please).
February 7, 2018
Thor: Ragnarok is actually the first Thor movie I’ve seen. The earlier ones told his story so it doesn’t seem necessary to watch (not that I was avoiding them, I just never had a chance to see them), but the most recent one seemed to be necessary in the tune-up to the Infinity Gauntlet.
I was pleasantly surprised at the film. It’s written in a similar style as Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – where the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and cracks jokes throughout the dialog. But while GG2 jokes seemed to be forced, the ones in this movie didn’t seem like they were. Maybe it’s because the lines were delivered with an Asgardian accent. Similarly, the serious, character development scenes seemed to be more believable.
I quite enjoyed this movie and it wasn’t simply because I went in with no expectations; now was it because of the comedy. It just felt like it was written and acted really well. The portrays of the supporting characters were top notch, Cate Blanchett as Hela, Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, even Korg of the Warbound. It knew it was a fun Blockbuster but worked within it to surprise the viewer. Between this and Wonder Woman, that’s two recent super hero films that have been great. Thor gets 4 out of 5 stars.
October 24, 2017
Oh great, yet another Spider-man movie. Even though this is based off his cameo in Captain America: Civil War, I am a bit weary of this. I never liked the character but he is just so popular that you can’t avoid his books and stories. And another reboot in his movie series, isn’t this the third time?
So this movie didn’t start off well for me. It got worse when the plot followed a teenager’s life. I’m just not interested in watching teen struggles anymore. And his wisecracking is too much. The story isn’t much better as we get to see some B-list Spider-Man villains (Vulture and Shocker). The best part are the cameos but it feels like a crutch for both Spider-Man and the movie.
I don’t think this movie advances the Marvel Universe storyline so it can easily be skipped. Two out of five stars.
October 18, 2017
On my flight back home, I was surprised to find new movies in the inflight entertainment system! The movie I was most excited about was Wonder Woman. Ever since her introduction in Batman vs Superman, I’ve been waiting for her feature movie to come out. I’m not even a big fan of the character, I had tried reading some of her comics in the past but always ended up dropping them because the stories were boring (Amazonian stuff), or the supporting characters were lame, or the issues she had to deal with (e.g., her weaknesses) were not compelling. So I only saw her in Justice League adventures, or when there is a universe-level crisis.
But her appearance in BvS was amazing. This is a career-defining role for Gal Gadot and I don’t think I can ever envision her as any other character. I’m not sure what it is, but she is both what I imagined Wonder Woman to look like, yet also not what she looks like. What I mean is that when she is in costume, there is no one else that I can imagine as being Wonder Woman but her face is not at all what Wonder Woman would look like in my mind (I guess due to her heritage). This is more apparent when she is in plain clothes, and she doesn’t look at all like how I imagine Diana Prince would be.
Anyways, so how was the movie? I didn’t think it was as good as people said it would be. It’s nowhere near Ghost In The Shell bad, but it’s still polarizing. The story is clunky and I hate the origin story where they kept stressing her naivete and social awkwardness. The romance is unbelievable, but not as bad as sailing to London in one night (even if they got a lift). Also the motley crew of supporting characters adds nothing to the story (I only recognize Etta, are the others even from the comic?)
But once the fighting starts, it is glorious. Wonder Woman is magnificent in battle, especially the close quarters fighting (on the beach and before Act 2). Some people hate Zach Snyder slowing down the camera for certain scenes, but I like it and think it was effective. Act 2 was expected and cliché but I still thought it was a great twist. Honestly this whole movie can just be Wonder Woman jumping and fighting and it would still be three out of five stars.
October 5, 2017
Ghost in the Shell was all around me when I was in my teens. I was never interested in anime, but this was one of the names I recognized. I might have even watched an anime movie version of it. And I definitely read an entire comic book series about it. Yet I don’t remember any details, the back story, or the potential psychological conflict of being part human-part machine.
This recognition is part of the reason why I watched the movie. Another is because I read some complaints when it was released about being white-washed (specifically Scarlett Jo instead of a Japanese lead). I don’t think the lead was the issue, but rather than a lot of it just wasn’t Japanese. The robotics company was completely staffed by Caucasians, the local police was a conglomerate of mixed cultures, and the entire thing was filmed in Hong Kong! I recognized Mong Kok in the beginning and it just became more and more obvious as I watched. I guess filming in HK made sense since a lot of the production companies at the beginning of the movie were Chinese.
The other issue with this movie is that it sucked. The decisions characters made made no sense and the dialogue was horrible. I hope Scarlett Johansson made a lot of money on this one because it is an embarrassment to have on your resume. It’s like Black Widow had a feature film and dyed her hair black.
A lot of the times the movie is just there to show off action sequences or body shots or the futuristic environment. I guess that is slightly cool and elevates this movie to 2 out of 5 stars.
September 24, 2017
Marvel seems to have their movies spread out over the year and this one ended up as the one that was on my flight to Korea. I think I saw the original Guardians of the Galaxy on a plane too (as it was released after we had kids). Not a must watch, but I was curious because I thought I read that they were gearing up for Infinity Gems and a showdown with Thanos.
But this movie wasn’t it, it was just another adventure featuring these guys, a couple of old friends from the original movie, and the early 80s music, fashion and styles.
There have been so many movies in the Marvel universe that you can just pick a random one up and watch it to pass the time. They don’t feel like tent pole releases or must-watch titles anymore. I guess that makes it perfect for flights.
GG2 has a specific conversational style, lots of wisecracks and insults (but not to an extent as say Deadpool). I don’t find that particularly entertaining though. They also have Drax playing the straight man, until they find a new character who is even straighter! I find the former funny because Drax seems to know that he is being funny. The latter feels like they’re making fun of Autistic people.
Lots of explosions, some laughs, and a megalomaniac to defeat. Also, another movie about father issues (see Star Wars & etc). Three out of five stars from me.
March 5, 2017
While perusing the store, I noticed Postknight. TBH, what attracted to me to this game was that it was “Unreleased”. What does that mean? I still don’t know but the game is decent enough that I play it every once in awhile. You basically do bite-sized auto-runner type quests to gain XP and items. You can trade items for better gear or use them to gain favor with the ladies (i.e., dating in Harvest Moon style). I just play it for the RPG elements because the dating aspect requires you to play too often. It’s a quick enough time killer and you can slowly improve your character so that’s why it’s staying on my phone.
There are a lot of DC and Marvel games around, but I downloaded Justice League Action Run because the art is reminiscent of the animated series. I actually think this game might be for younger kids based on the art and the simplicity. It’s an infinite runner with a couple of modes – collect items, break targets, fight the boss, etc; but the draw is the theme and the art. Unfortunately, the game seems to be recently released, and not polished yet. The interface and gameplay is laggy on my phone, and there are only 5 heroes to choose from! Hopefully it will get better in time, but by then, I think I will have moved on to something else.
January 13, 2017
I don’t know the backstory of Suicide Squad but I think this is required watching as DC continues to build up its movie universe to the Justice League movie. But after watching it, there doesn’t to be a big need for this movie.
It’s basically a self-contained movie similar to Guardians of the Galaxy where a rag tag band of shadowy figures save the world. There are some cameos from Batman and The Joker but its just to fill in the backstory. There are some character introductions and the after credits scene is important (for the universe) but I think those can be shared without tagging an entire movie along with it.
The plot is formulaic. Bad guys get together to help (read: are forced) the good guys, but the good guys suffer a setback and then bad guys develop a conscience and volunteer to beat the big bad guy. Its not boring but it is forgettable. I remember reading some press saying the atmosphere or music was great, but neither impressed me. This is a quite average three out of five stars.
November 16, 2016
Coup is a quick game where you need to bluff your way to victory. You have 2 cards in your hand that you can use to backup your bluff(s), and those cards don’t replenish. Once you have no cards in your hand, you are eliminated so you need to bluff carefully. I think this game would be great if the UI was simpler and the rounds were faster, but there’s just too much graphic detail in the game to make it enjoyable. Oh and the ads. They make the game too annoying to outweigh the marginal enjoyment I get out of playing this, so unfortunately it is an uninstall.
I bought Sentinels of the Multiverse on sale (99¢ I think?) based on what I read from the listing. It seemed interesting as it is a board/card game (later discovered that it originated on Kickstarter) where you play cooperatively as a superhero team to defeat a villain. Or in my case, you play 4 heroes by yourself. I liked the style as it is done as if it were a comic book (the universe was created just for this game, but the heroes fit DC stereotypes). The game itself is very complex. There are a lot of mechanics, and even after several plays, I spend most of the game reading and understanding the cards (which is difficult on phone resolution). That is both a benefit and a curse. It’s good in that in makes the game more of a puzzle than a board game, but it’s bad in that it is not something you can play on automatic. You have to devote concentration and 30-60mins for a game. I’m still on the fence as to whether this is a game I will revisit or not.
September 19, 2016
This was another film that I had no expectations about, but I was interested in seeing because I read so many X-Men comics when I was younger. I think there were a couple of X-Men movies that I missed but luckily this was like a reboot.
The movie was set in the 80s (whenever Return of the Jedi came out) and was quite charming because of it. No doubt it helps the movie appeal to target an older demographic with disposable income. One of the best parts in the movie was set to the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These.
I liked the movie overall because there were a lot of characters, cameos and quirky things from the Marvel universe, but from a plot perspective I think it was very fragmented. There were a ton of characters introduced which meant the story wasn’t very deep or long. Apocalypse didn’t even get to do much aside from recruit, stand around and order his minions. Kind of a boring villain.
The were a lot of grand scenes a la Batman vs Superman, but overall I found the fights not very interesting. It was kind of like trying to punch through each other by unleashing your mutant powers all at once – the exception were the Nightcrawler fights.
Before writing this review, I was thinking of giving this movie 4 out of 5 stars because i really did enjoy it. But I think that I was just marvelled about the surroundings and didn’t pay too much attention to the story. I think I’ll give X-Men: Apocalypse 3 out of 5 stars.
August 10, 2016
When I read the comic series upon which this premise was based on, I was very impressed at the scenario and the questions it posed. However, I was not confident that this story arc would transfer well into a single movie, so wasn’t especially looking forward to watching it. Also, I missed Avengers 2 so that was no good either (where did Vision come from?).
There were some good parts that discussed the pros and cons of the human registration act (Sokovia Accords) but overall this was just a beat’em up fest. I liked and disliked the commercial for the Spider-man reboot. It was fun, but it felt forced (although he was in the comic story arc). For whatever reason, the Marvel movies just don’t appeal to me as much as the DCU ones right now. I’ll give this 2 out of 5 stars
July 23, 2016
My flight down to Dallas didn’t have VOD on the chair in front of me (AA wanted you to use your own device) but my AC flight back did, so I waited until my return flight to watch Batman vs Superman. I wanted to see it but didn’t have high expectations with it being a DC film – Marvel (except the Spider-man franchise) is the gold standard even though I enjoyed the Nolan Batman trilogy. I also heard that the movie was a bit heavy-handed in the whole “Control of the Gods” theme.
I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the film a great deal – it’s at least four out of five stars. I think it was because the film was so dark. In Marvel films, the world is in despair but there is still hope and colour. In BvS, it’s like they took the feel of Gotham and applied it to the entire movie. The dystopia is inevitable so why don’t we begin acting like it.
I don’t have a good example but I also felt the plot gave the feeling of a mature world (like Ultimates vs Avengers). It was no-nonsense and trim. The fights and action were fast and crisp, just like superheroes would handle things. I didn’t feel the concept of the Gods were overblown – let’s be clear, the movie was about the three gods of the DC universe. I found Batman’s actions fitting because he is supposed to be paranoid! Luthor is supposed to scheme, Superman is supposed to do what is right, and well I guess we will see what WW does in the future (she’s more like Catwoman at the beginning than WW). I’m also glad they didn’t overemphasize Batman’s brooding or Superman’s boy scout personality.
This was an efficient and entertaining movie and I hope the future Justice League movies will be similar as I’d rather watch these than the Avengers.
June 3, 2016
Deadpool was the movie I most wanted to watch on my flight out to Korea because there was a lot of hype surrounding it when it was in theaters. I know about Deadpool and his reputation, but I had never followed his series so I didn’t know his backstory & etc. I can’t remark on how faithful it adheres to his canon but the other Marvel universe cameos were only OK, and not cool! moments (X-Men, SHIELD Helicarrier).
I didn’t think that Deadpool was worthy of the praise. The breaking of the 4th wall was not too useful (and I think this is probably something he does in the comics?) It was rated R because there was definitely a lot of (gratuitous) blood, but I don’t think that added to the movie. The plot was interleaving, but still straightforward because there wasn’t a lot of substance to it, and the X-Men inclusion seemed forced (doesn’t help that these are B and C-list X-Men). If you’re fine with impossibly accurate shooting from the heroes and horrible aim from the bad guys, then this is a great movie. For me, I rate this movie as a 3 out of 5 because while there are a lot of bad points, it is a (perhaps non-typical but) enjoyable summer blockbuster movie.
July 3, 2015
After watching Gone Girl on my flight back from SF, I had enough time for one more movie. Unfortunately the selection of recent movies on Air Canada was poor this month and I ended up picking Kingsmen: The Secret Service. As I don’t watch TV/pay attention to movies, I didn’t really know what this movie was about – nor did I know that it was based on a comic book.
It turns out that this movie is somewhat of a satire of Bond/Spy movies. But not in an Austin Powers type of way, so I enjoyed the parts that were a parody much better. I’m sure the plot will be dated in 5 or 10 years, but it was entertaining for me right now.
As the movie does not take itself too seriously, there is also a lot of liberty in the plot. As long as you approach it as a fun movie that will kill 2 hours, then I think you’ll enjoy it. I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.