August 20, 2019
Finally! After how many movies? the finale of this epoch in the Marvel Universe is finally complete. I think I also accomplished the monumental task of seeing all the relevant movies before this one came out – thanks to a lot of flights. No surprise, I saw Avengers: Engame on a flight as well.
There was a lot to like about this movie and it was a deserved ending to this epoch. While time travel is an overused mechanic, I liked how they visited their previous movies and expanded on the stories around them. I also liked how they brought basically everyone who has been involved in the universe back, even if the cameos are pretty short. The humor was light although some bits got long in the tooth (e.g., Thor’s beer belly). I liked how it paved the way for the next generation, and I did not fail to notice the one scene where all the women characters showed up at once.
This movie felt worthy, and was four out of five stars in my book. Now to see what is next for MCU.
August 11, 2019
I received Gravity as a promo from Movies Anywhere at some point and so saw it at home on my TV. I also recall there was a VR version of this movie, and it make sense because there are amazing visuals that you want to see as large as possible (e.g., IMAX).
The movie is set in space, and about astronauts who get stranded after an international incident. Unlike the Apollo movies, the astronauts are truly alone, and do not have a team to support them. The cast is essentially George Clooney, Sandra Bullock and the view of the earth. It is an interesting take that really shows the loneliness of space.
I’d imagine that space exploration in our day and age would be similar to sailing in the olden days. Your boat (and crew) was your lifeline and if you went overboard and ended up adrift, you were in for a lonely death.
While space is the unknown and thus exciting, Gravity is a story about perseverance through adversity and human survival. That story + the amazing visuals make this a four out of five stars movie.
July 20, 2019
The Leakers is the name of a group of journalists who want to expose the truth about nefarious corporations. Their first leak is the obvious-to-the-watcher news that a pharmaceutical corporation has both created an outbreak and its cure. But their attempt to actually share this information and the evidence is convoluted and ends up involving a bunch of people in both Malaysia and Hong Kong. This is like the bad guys spending too much time explaining their scheme, causing them to get caught. If the Leakers just uploaded their leak to the internet, they would have saved a movie!
In any case, an interesting set of characters show up to try and solve the puzzle. Maybe it was the couple of previous movies that I saw, but I felt this movie had potential – and I wanted to see how the players would develop. The plot didn’t give them a lot of opportunity to do that though. But at least, it was able to earn The Leakers a three out of five stars.
July 18, 2019
I find that all the Japanese films I end up watching have some sort of philosophical and existential question that they are trying to answer or shed light on, and that is the same way with Colors of the Wind. The question is, what is this movie about?
It starts off with a theory that everyone in the world has a doppleganger, but if one half finds out about the other, then they will be driven to depression and suicide. Then it goes off on a bender about magic. Not real magic, but just show magic. Except that the film creates a situation where it looks like magic has created two dopplegangers. Then it is up to the film to figure out who is real (or not) and what happened to create two sets of intertwined but lost identities.
It’s not as confusing as it sounds. There’s an almost logical explanation for this. But once the mystery building ends and the explanation starts, the premise starts to be ludicrous and all credibility this film has built to ponder an existential question is gone.
I happened to split this film right at that break, so it felt so promising that I wanted to finish the movie. But then I watched the remainder and just thought that it was dumb. So I’ll give Colors Of The Wind an average of 2 stars.
July 14, 2019
This is a Spanish film set in Mexico during the financial crisis they had in the early 80s (?). Instead of focusing on the government though, it followed a group of socialites and specifically one family who started on top, but could no longer sustain their position. What drew me to Las Niñas Bien was that it was supposed to be how the family tried to maintain appearances (social status) under this stress, but the lengths that she went too weren’t as outlandished as I would thought. Given that this movie was classified as a comedy, I thought there would be a lot of hijinks. I think it was misclassified and is more of a drama that gave me a look into how upper class Mexicans lived. Not something I can connect too, so two out of five stars.
July 13, 2019
I watched this cantomovie because I was curious about how it would meld the old historical Chinese era with modern day HK. But apparently, the Iceman in the title referred to the first movie in the series where they “travelled” through time by being frozen solid. Luckily, the beginning of the film played a quick “Last time on Iceman” segment to get me caught up.
This movie is a snooze. The time travel mechanics didn’t make any sense, fighting wasn’t great, and used a last minute Japanese villain to be the final boss in a battle that travelled through a CGI time tunnel. I guess this should be a one star movie even though I never thought about turning it off in the middle. I guess it is “good enough” for TV.
July 9, 2019
It is strange when some random comic that I read in my younger days becomes a blockbuster, especially when it is not a prominent title from an established universe. In fact, I don’t remember why I even read this series. I don’t think it’s by a prominent writer so maybe I just read it because I had access to it! Curious as to the reasons why they made a movie about this, I watched Alita.
From the beginning, I felt this was not a movie that I would enjoy. The world had an anime feel with the Utopia/normal world divide (or maybe just because I knew of its origins). And I didn’t like the coming of age story for Alita. It made it feel like I was watching a kid movie complete with a budding teen romance. Then the fighting started and it was clearly not a kid movie – the bad guys are the basis of nightmares! So, why make the beginning of the movie so juvenile? Alita also looks like a CG creation which is jarring (especially when she is being played by a real actress).
However, once the plot (fighting) started, it ended up being ok. Stylistically, the idea of the battle angel, mechs, and sword fighting is fun. So this movie claws its way back to three stars. In the credits, I was surprised with all the big names tied to this film (James Cameron et al)
June 25, 2019
I’ve watched the pivotal opening scene in Burning a couple of times now, the part that foreshadows and describes the entire movie; and I think I finally figured it out.
First, there is a scene about miming the act of eating a tangerine, but the important tidbit is that in order to be successful; you don’t have to believe that there is a physical tangerine, just that it tastes yummy. I think this describes the relationship that the girl has with the poor guy. She believes that she can rely on him/he is her BF (even if he doesn’t think of it like this), so it makes his later words to her even more hurtful.
Then the discussion quickly changes to little and great hunger. Little hunger is the hunger you feel when you if you haven’t eaten, but great hunger is hunger for life. I think this describes the rich guy and his quest to find meaning in his life when all the basics are taken care of.
Finally, as a bonus, the girl asks the poor guy to take care of her cat, saying a cat shouldn’t be moved from their home. I think this is meant to describe the poor guy who just isn’t able to comprehend the changes that are about to happen around him.
Even with this theory, still a great movie!
June 22, 2019
Well Aquaman started really slow, in the way of many other DC movies (bad plot, dialogue and corny scenarios). In the comics, Aquaman was always a cheesy hero whose powers aren’t that helpful (how many times do heroes fight on water??). So the premise didn’t have a lot of things to make it good. The fact that they portrayed Atlanteans as a futuristic civilization hidden underwater, with amazing submarine craft is just crazy. The only thing holding the film together was Jason Momoa’s stoic charisma.
Secondly, I was confused about the timeline. This movie seemingly happens after Justice League (they mention Steppenwolf), but I thought Aquaman went to Atlantis to protect the Mother Box (wasn’t Mera there too?). The movie also seemed to channel Tomb Raider a bit when they went to the desert.
Things started to get better once they entered the “final dungeon”. Seeing Aquaman in his costume, even though it is corny, was great. I just can’t get behind the idea that the Atlanteans were hidden or can stay hidden for so long even with huge armies amassing and fighting. Two out of five stars
June 19, 2019
I was looking forward to this film since it was part of the X-Men universe, even though the comic series “Logan” wasn’t that good (it was too far fetched). I remember the movie version received good reviews so it didn’t seem like they used the comic book as source material.
Logan is well deserving of its R rating (very bloody) and it is also very dark. It is one of those stories that comic books writers go to when they run out of present day stories to tell (a What-If from the future). However, this one is only 10 years down the road with a Wolverine that is incognito, with a limo, and a limp (which was what I was trying to type before autocorrect took over), as well as literally carrying around a 90-year old Professor X wherever he has to go. This is not a dystopia (society seems OK with self driving tractor trailers), but it is pretty grim for good guys. It’s not a movie where the heroes get beat up, then miraculously climb off the floor, find their cosmic second wind, and take over; in this one, they just get beat up more and more. If anything, this is a realistic comic book film.
Like most future Wolverine films, it is a character study of him and how he behaves when he’s not killing. However, unlike Days of Future Past; he’s not being a hero. He’s just a guy who wants to mind his own business but gets pulled into being a caretaker, driver, babysitter, and finally a hero.
The pacing in the film is great. Being a dark film, there isn’t really comedy. Instead the scenes of despair, dementia and death are contrasted with plain normal life. I’m not sure if the film itself is great, or if it’s because they’ve taken the characters that we know through many X-Men films and truly given them a new angle. In any case, I thought this movie deserved a four out of five star rating.
June 17, 2019
If Captain Marvel came out in any other year, it might have been considered a B-list Marvel movie. Maybe not at the level of Ant Man, but not as hyped as Guardians of the Galaxy. But because everyone knew she would play a pivotal role in Avengers: Endgame, this ended up being a must see movie.
Maybe the producers saw it that way too because I think it is a quality and balanced film. It didn’t try too hard to be funny (compared to Guardians of the Galaxy, where I remember that the “comedy” from Rocket was just annoying), and brought in the retro early 90s without beating us up about it (better than Bumblebee). It fit the times (many women in key roles) and was almost a film about the real international man of mystery, Nick Fury. There was a lot of thing going for it even if the source material wasn’t the most famous.
I liked the focus on the Kree/Skrull war. I don’t remember all the facts, but portraying the Skrulls as the good guys doesn’t seem right (why about the FF’s beef with Super Skrull?). I liked how there were cameos from Guardians of the Galaxy, although I don’t remember what those characters did in those movies anymore (the Kree, Korath). I’m also not sure that Captain Marvel had cosmic powers either? In any case, these didn’t detract from the story. Captain Marvel is a solid three out of five stars, and the Marvel version of Wonder Woman.
June 10, 2019
What attracted me to Vox Lux was the cast (Jude Law, Natalie Portman), given their track record and the non-blockbuster nature of this film; I thought there was a decent chance that this would be good even if the description didn’t sound like something I would enjoy much.
The film was broken into 2 parts. The first tells the story of how “Celeste” went from a 14 y/o high school student to a pop star via a school shooting. That was moderately interesting because it showed how the music entertainment process worked (most likely sanitized already). The second part jumped 15 years later when Celeste is now in her 30s (still a pop star) and honestly the movie got lost there. In the first half, there was a direction to the film, but the second half follows Celeste around for an afternoon. Was the point to see her reaction (or non-reaction) to a shooting much like the one that launched her career? Was it a social commentary on how stardom can change an individual? Was it a behind-the-scenes look at what super stardom is like? I couldn’t tell because whatever it was trying to do wasn’t conveyed.
Even the final little nugget of narration doesn’t really explain why or what is happening. Because the movie left its rails, this only gets two out of five stars.
May 3, 2019
For once, I watched a movie when I wasn’t on a plane. Well X-Men: Days of Future Past was actually available on my recent flights, but I knew that I had it in my digital library so saved it for later. Also, it made sense to watch it after I watched First Class, as it was a sequel to it.
This movie built upon the interesting cast of the previous film, featured Wolverine as a protagonist in a non-traditional role (he hardly fought in this film – wow character development), pulled in an ensemble cast that included the “original X-Men films” portrayals (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry) and had time travel. That was a lot of things going for it. The script was also not bad and thoughtful, especially how it maintained continuity between the different time periods of the X-Men movie universe. I guess my only criticism is that the flashback generation of actors for Professor X/Magneto don’t look like the older set. I’m also curious whether the portrayal of Mystique from the very first X-Men movie fit the character that was created by these two films.
The post-credits scene also foreshadowed Apocalypse, which reminded me that I had already watched it (after I re-read the synopsis)! The only scene I remember from that one is the one with Quicksilver running through the X-Mansion. I also learned that the next movie is coming out in a few months (Phoenix) and that it will be the last one as X-Men are being absorbed into the MCU. Too bad!
In any case, Days Of Future Past is an enjoyable view – three out of five stars.
April 29, 2019
I really didn’t want to watch Deadpool 2 and have been avoiding it for several months. But I’ve been travelling on a few longer flights and have watched everything else that I wanted to (save for long epics like The Hobbit and Oscar-nominated dramas that I’m not in the mood for), so Deadpool 2 it was.
I just plain do not like the style of Deadpool. The wise cracking, breaking the fourth wall, potty jokes, sound of Ryan Reynold’s voice etc. There was a lot of it at the start of the film, but thankfully it died down as they had to get through the plot in a reasonable amount of time. Cable showed up – the character is cool and it looked relatively like how you would expect him to. However, I didn’t like his portrayal (to grim and depressing) although he makes a good foil to Deadpool. There were a bunch of other supporting characters – most are forgettable except Domino.
The movie wasn’t boring (so does it really deserve a two?), yet it is as meaningless as Ant Man or some of the Thor movies. I think it’s a two out of five for being just a time filler.
April 27, 2019
When I started watching this movie, I thought I had seen it before because it started with the scene of Magneto being taken from his parents at a Nazi death camp. However, it turned out to be a replay of, I suppose the very first X-Men film, but leads to a completely different story arch rather than a re-telling of the origin story.
X-Men: First Class focuses on the first group of mutants. However, it is not the Cyclops/Jean Grey group but X-Force (Havok, Banshee) vs Hellfire Club (Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw) with Magneto and Professor X mixed in. Those characters are actually pretty interesting and more compelling to me than a big Avengers team-up. Maybe I just like mutants more.
Mystique and the rest of the younger mutants could help make this a kids/teenager movie, but the portrayal of Professor X and Magneto were so great that I didn’t care. While it’s still your typical blockbuster comic movie, I had a lot of fun with this one. Three out of five stars.
April 23, 2019
This movie takes place at the turn of the 20th century in Hong Kong as Dr Sun Yat Sen is meeting with several important individuals from inner China to plan the uprising that overthrows the Qing dynasty. Since I don’t know my Chinese history, I will just have to assume that those are real events at the right time. The movie tells about China’s attempt to assassinate him (hence the assassins, although it’s more like an army) and a local organization of rag-tag individuals that end up being his bodyguard. In the end, the powerful and resourceful arm of the Emperor kills all the rebels, so this plays out a lot like Rogue One.
Bodyguards and Assassins is very over the top. Gratuitous blood and over embellished fighting. It kept my interest because of the how the movie portrays turn-of-the-century Hong Kong, as the East meets the West. Again, who knows whether it is accurate or not. If you expect a cliché HK movie with two-line character sketches then it is a run-of-the-mill three out of five stars movie.
April 18, 2019
Unlike Bumblebee, Wreck-It-Ralph 2 actually succeeds at being a (pre-)teen movie without being boring. While, the theme of the movie is pretty kiddy (friendship), the gags and cameos, as well as seeing the brands from the real Internet being represented in the movie keeps the movie interesting (the retro aspect of the game characters is pretty much the same as the first movie). I also liked how they represented online behavior too (like popups and popup blockers). There was enough random stuff but not too much of it – kinda of like how Ready Player One had just enough cameos.
The whole sub-plot with Disney princesses was fun, although the song sucked (perhaps on purpose). But really, as an adult, you’re not going to get a lot out of this movie aside from a few quick laughs. Three out of five stars.
April 16, 2019
In contrast to the other two stellar movies I just saw (Into The Spider-Verse and Burning), the story of Bumblebee felt dumbed down. Even from the first scene where they were fighting on Cybertron, I already had a ton of questions around how things would work (how did Optimus Prime get off the planet, and why was Bumblebee a Corvette already?). The characters and “comedy” didn’t help, nor did the unrealistic transformation of robots (although not any different than previous movies). In today’s media world, where there are such a better quality of scripts, I just expect higher quality.
The credits showed that Spielberg had a hand in this movie. That explained why the movie was so “kid” focused (well actually more teen oriented). I’m not sure kids these days would go out of their way to see a Transformers movie when there are so many other brands available for them to consume. And there were definitely attempts to target older viewers with a ton of 80s throwbacks (fashion, music).
This film just felt lost. While watching it, I was left wondering why I decided to watch a movie about awkward teen moments. And if I wanted to watch robots fighting, I should have just watched Pacific Rim again. Two out of five for yet another forgettable Transformers film.
April 11, 2019
Burning is a Korean film that I actually heard about reading thru the 2018 end of year lists. I guess it is a thriller or a drama and centers around a relationship between 2 guys and a girl. From reading the reviews, I had thought this movie happens mostly in Africa, but turns out it is based on Korea.
I don’t remember why it was rated highly but to me it is a psychological film where you are trying to figure out what the director is actually trying to do. The scenes seem random but I think you are supposed to think of them in an abstract sense (and so the intention is vague a lot of the time). For example, in the second scene in the film, two of the leads are in a typical Korean restaurant and the girl describes how she is learning pantomime by eating an imaginary tangerine. She states, something to the effect of, that the trick to pantomime is to avoid thinking that the tangerine is not there, but rather what you would be doing if it was there. Ultimately, I think this scene describes the entire movie (or at least one way to look at it).
I spent the majority of the film trying to figure out what is really going on, although felt it lost some steam in the second half. Four out of five stars.
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.
March 13, 2019
Never heard about this in theatres but found it in the sci-fi section of the inflight movies. It started Tom Cruise so it couldn’t be that bad right?
Edge of Tomorrow tells a story where an alien invasion via asteroid happens. The asteroid lands in Germany and begins taking over Europe. The world unites to fit these Brood-like figures, as well a development of an exoskeleton to help soldiers. Tom Cruise plays a former advertiser who ends up in media relations for the army. He is told to go to the front lines to film a concentrated human push, deserts, and ends up on the front lines. Somehow, he ends up in a time loop and can reply the day until he realizes what’s at stake and finishes his mission.
There are a lot of cliché and dumb things in this movie, but there are also a lot of awesome things. Exoskeleton/mechs are cool. Time loops are actually pretty fun. Tom Cruise’s role has the perfect background for him (although it could have been any male star). Watching this movie makes me want to read the book it’s based on and so this is a highly rated action film from me! Four out of five stars.
March 11, 2019
This was a movie I wanted to watch, but had shy’d away from in the past because it was too serious. It’s about a CIA agent who sneaks 6 US Foreign State workers out of Iran when that state has cut of relations with the US. Ben Affleck directed and starred in it and I kind of feel it was a twin to Syrianna. In any case, I typically want to have fun when watching movies so didn’t end up watching it till recently.
Argo is a good story and movie, but I couldn’t help but wonder about the parts that Hollywood added in vs the real event (time for some Wikipedia reading when I get of the plane). There was a lot of unnecessary running and just-in-time heroics which I suspect never took place. If nothing, it helped me get a long look at the style that was the few years before my birth. What I didn’t get out of the movie though is a real understanding of the Iranian issues or what happened to end the hostage crisis (end credits said it took 444 days for everyone to be released). Three out of five stars for Argo.
March 7, 2019
Kingsman was another movie that got truncated due to an end of the flight. I figure I got 2/3rds of the way through it and then the next time I took a flight, the movie selection had changed. At least 6 months later, I finally found The Golden Circle again on a SF flight. Kinda strange really as it wasn’t part of any special event (there was a new and improved entertainment system).
Anyways, I can’t remember why I picked this movie but I had seen the original and didn’t hate it. Watching this follows the MI discussion of what makes this franchise unique in the world of spy thrillers and I think this takes the “British” part of Bond (the gentleman), puts in a Millennial lead, and makes it more fun. The scriptwriters know that whatever villain they write will not be relatable, so they just use some scenario that would come out of a Dairy Queen commercial. It doesn’t really matter though because we all know how the spy thrillers scripts end.
The Golden Circle also had a double agent much like MI: Fallout did. Funny how movies around the same time frame use the same mechanic. But it’s not all copycat material, the villain’s plan was to taint the international drug supply so that all recreational drug users die unless the government pays up. Turns out that’s a lot of everyday people. It was a bit cheesy, but the fighting was good and the style is like an optimized Bond film. Three out of five stars.
February 26, 2019
Resurrected Victims is a Korean movie where the mother of a prosecutor comes back to life and tries to get revenge on the people that killed her. All signs point to the son who did it and the movie tells what happens as they unravel this mysterious incidence. The movie says that there have been 89 victims who have come back to life in order to kill their murderers before disappearing in a burst of flames.
The movie spends the rest of the time investigating why the mom came back through a variety of flashbacks before finally explaining what happened. The story-telling was pretty poor – I’m not sure whether they did that for suspense or if it was just a bad script, because it’s easy to explain what happened once you know the entire story. The movie also tacks on a moral message as part of its ending, which is a bit lame.
I don’t think this movie was that great, only a two out of five stars from me.
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.