Thursday, May 24, 2018

Deadpool 2 Review

The Merc with a Mouth is back in one of the most anticipated comic book movies ever. After all Deadpool is pretty much a perfect film, no doubt due to being a passion project its creators had to fight for years just to make and then fight to stay on budget to finish.

It did everything exactly right in order to create a comic book movie completely unlike anything else we had seen to date. Hilarious and gratuitously violent, it lampooned everything about comic book movies while celebrating them at the same time.  Add to it the fact that Ryan Reynolds might as well be Deadpool in real life and you end up with a superb transition of the character from the comic books to the big screen. Not to mention the advertising campaign, which is a work of pure genius all its own.  It just made for a uniquely awesome experience that is just as good the 5th time as it is the 1st, which is why it made an obscene amount of money for both its release time and budget.

Of course, making an obscene amount of money guaranteed the sequel teased at the end of the credits, and so here we are.  Sequels are tricky business though, especially when dealing with a surprise hit.  How do you replicate that perfect bit of magic that makes a movie stand out the way Deadpool did?  It's been done before, but the odds are rarely in favor of it.

Unfortunately, even with Cable and X-Force joining the fray, Deadpool 2 finds itself on the wrong end of that statistical breakdown. So let me tell you why I was so very disappointed with it:

Friday, May 4, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Review

Well here it is folks. Marvel's finally getting Thanos off his ass and putting him to work for perhaps the most ambitious movie of all time.  That's right, it's Avengers: Infinity War.

Look what can you say about Marvel's movies by now?  Even the total stinkers are at least entertaining enough to get you through a couple hours at the theater, and the ones that are really good, are really, really good.  I guess the only question about Infinity War is "how the hell is this going to live up to all the hype?"

I just couldn't imagine how you'd put THIS many characters in one movie and not have it turn into a complete debacle.  Plus Marvel's track record for villains is extremely hit or miss.  You're going to spend almost a decade hyping up this one bad guy and he's supposed to deliver?  It all just seemed impossible to pull off.

And yet, they did it.  Now I have to try and explain how without spoiling the movie for those few of you who haven't managed to see it already.  So, without further ado, here's my non-spoiler review of Infinity War:

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Rampage Review

Ah Rampage, a game I spent untold hours playing on my NES as a kid, mainly because it had no save option so either you played it until the end or you had to start over.  Since punching every building in the United States to rubble takes a few hours, it was exceedingly rare that I got to play long enough to see the end.

I also never expected to see it turned into a movie.  After all, it's a pretty sparse story. Humans get turned into giant were-monsters and devote themselves to leveling America.  I guess that means you're not especially confined by existing narratives when creating the movie, but it's pretty hard for that not to come across as a goofy Godzilla knock off. After all, that was kind of the point of the game, to be a goofy Godzilla spoof.

But hey, as I said on Twitter at the time, if anybody could make a good video game movie, it'd be Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.  He's kind of the king of ridiculous action flicks today, and he was teamed up again with the guys that did San Andreas (which was a pretty decent disaster flick all told), so maybe they just could pull off the first genuinely good movie based on a video game.

Then again, maybe not. Let's talk about where Rampage rates among the pantheon of video game movie dumpster fires:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Chappaquiddick Review

Chappaquiddick would probably be up there with Watergate in terms of political scandals if it weren't so hard to spell. For those who not might be familiar with it, some decades ago, just as we were landing on the moon, Ted Kennedy got drunk one night and drove his car off a bridge and into a pond. He walked away from the accident just fine, but his passenger, a young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne, was not so lucky.

Unlike the heir to the Kennedy castle, Mary Jo slowly suffocated over a period of three to four hours, having been left trapped within an air pocket inside the submerged vehicle because Kennedy was too concerned about his political future to report the incident until he was forced to the next morning when civilians discovered the car.

Then he and his political fixers massaged the story just enough so voters desperate to see the Kennedy dream realized at last could look the other way and not feel bad about him going essentially unpunished for killing this young woman.  As a result rather than spending the rest of his life in jail for manslaughter, he spent it being repeatedly reelected to the Senate for so long that they still refer to it as "Ted Kennedy's seat" even though he's dead now.

Seems like it could make quite the captivating drama, doesn't it? I guess with all the properties from my childhood getting reboots anyway, somebody out there in Hollywood figured it was about time this story got told too.

To be frank, I was incredibly wary of this movie before heading in because Hollywood is not known for telling the complete truth about liberal heroes like the "Lion of the Senate."  Fortunately, for once, they played it pretty straight.  Let's talk about why you should see Chappaquiddick if you have any interest in correcting the historical record:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Ready Player One Review

We have finally reached the next phase of using nostalgia to sell people on entertainment. It used to be you had to reboot a property people already loved, or at least make a sequel or prequel to it, but with Ready Player One, they decided to try just cramming one movie full of references to every video game, movie, TV show, book, band, or concept you ever might have found memorable.

DeLorean from Back to the Future? Check. The Iron Giant? Check. Chun Li? Check. Akira's motorcycle? Check. King Kong? Check. Jurassic Park T-Rex? Check.  And that's just some of the stuff you can spot in the trailers.

For me, the shamelessness of this sort of product placement seemed almost insulting, as if Spielberg was saying he doesn't even have to tell a story anymore, he can just flash things you love on the screen and you'll love his movie.  After all, it seems to be working out pretty well for Star Wars.

On the other hand, this is based on a book people tell me is pretty good, and certainly the concept of the invasive virtual reality has made for some interesting properties in the past.  So, is this movie just a parade of nostalgia, or is it something more? More importantly, is Ready Player One any good? Well...let's talk about it:

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Pacific Rim: Uprising Review

For a while there it didn't seem like we'd actually get a sequel to Pacific Rim despite its obvious sequel potential, and then along came Uprising with its new cast and more importantly, new giant robots.

The original Pacific Rim is by no means a great film, but it is the kind of fun, popcorn shlock that makes for a nice night out at the theater with your friends, so on the whole I enjoyed it. After all, where else can you watch a giant mech smash a Godzilla-wannabe with a boat like a baseball bat? Even the Transformer movies don't get that creative with their giant robot battles.

That's not to say the idea of a sequel to Pacific Rim thrilled me, but I had hoped with all the setup out of the way, we might have time for a more interesting story. To some extent, I got that, but unfortunately the movie falls down in a few other important ways that makes this one far less fun than its predecessor. Here's some of the reasons Pacific Rim: Uprising just doesn't quite measure up:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Tomb Raider Review

Hollywood is still chasing that magic unicorn: a good film adaptation of a video game. They tried doing Tomb Raider twice before starring Angelina Jolie, and the results were...let's just be charitable and say mixed. But, the video games got a reboot, and Hollywood loves it some reboots of existing franchises, so here we are again with a completely new take on Lara Croft.

The new version of Lara trades in her DDs for a little more personality and a lot more vulnerability, this time in the form of Alicia Vikander. It also dumps all the campy stuff that tends to go along with a character who is famous for somebody accidentally giving her giant triangular boobs.

 Unfortunately, if you're going to play it serious like that you really have to be on point, and this new Tomb not. So let's talk about why that unicorn remains free: