Archive for movies

Countdown to Avengers 3: Thor Ragnarok review

Posted in comic books, movies with tags , , , on April 19, 2018 by Paxton

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. And here we are, along with Robert from To the Escape Hatch and CT on Nerd Lunch doing a third “Countdown to Avengers” series. AND, we are joined by a new blogger, Jay from Life vs. Film. You can check out the start of this series with Robert’s post about Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Robert, Jay, CT and I are all splitting the films up in anticipation of May’s Avengers: Infinity War. With this film and next year’s Avengers 4, the expectation is that we will be done on some level with this iteration of the MCU.  But I doubt it’ll go away completely. If you want to check out my last review in this series, it was for Captain America: Civil War. Now, let’s turn to my next review, Thor Ragnarok.

Like last time, let’s start off with my quick takes on the first two Thor movies.  First off, I read comics in the 80s and 90s.  I never really liked Thor as a character.  He just never honestly seemed to click with me.  That being said, I really like that first movie.  There’s not really a lot going on, but Hemsworth is great as Thor.  Hiddlesworth is good as Loki (he doesn’t become *great* until Avengers).  Portman is good as Jane and Kat Dennings is almost a show stealer as Darcy.  It’s fun to see Hemsworth playing “fish out of water” on Earth but we get precious little of Asgard.  The movie is mostly enjoyable and a good intro to MCU Thor.  If nothing else, the movie got me reading the Thor comics right about the time Jason Aaron started writing them and *that* has made me a huge fan of Thor.  Check out my full review of Thor for the very first Countdown to Avengers back in 2012.

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Thor: The Dark World has its flaws.  It tries to do too much and in the process squanders one of Thor’s best villains, Malekith the Accursed.  Hemsworth is still great as Thor.  We see Hiddleston in his post-Avengers awesomeness.  Portman is a problem and obviously doesn’t really even want to be there.  Kat Dennings brings more Darcy and she’s a delight.  There’s a lot more humor in this movie than I remember whenever I see it, but ultimately the movie is cluttered, hard to follow and doesn’t really seem to go anywhere.  So while I was okay with the Thor movies they had put out so far, I was ready for them to try something new.  This Thor has lots of potential as he’s great in the team up movies, but his solo efforts have been only okay.

When announcements started coming out about Thor Raganarok it was clear they were going in a different direction.  A New Zealand director, Cate Blanchett as the villain, a bright color palate and a humorous tone that seemed to have been clearly inspired by the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.  I was okay with all of this.  Chris Hemsworth has proven he can be funny.  He has the timing.  And Thor can be funny.  The aforementioned Jason Aaron’s run on Thor is infused with lots of humor and takes Thor in a more cosmic direction which it looks like this movie wants to do.  So I was all on board with what they were trying to do.  And that first trailer just ROCKED.

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The movie 100% delivers.  They *nailed* the tone perfectly for me.  I know many people said there was too much humor, but I don’t agree.  The humor was great and *everyone* got to have their moments.  Not just Thor.  Hulk was funny, Valkyrie, Loki, hell, a brand new character, Korg, practically stole the movie.  I loved every bit of this lightened up Thor.

Loki returns and is awesome once again.  We even get some really nice scenes between on screen brothers, Thor and Loki.  Hemsworth and Hiddleston really work well together.  I’ll be sad if/when this particular pairing ends.

What about the big bad, Hela?  She is as awesome as I wanted her to be.  Cate is the best anyway, so to see her really chew up the scenery here I loved it.  Actually, I could have done with *more* Hela.  Like, this movie maybe could have been split into two movies, with the Grandmaster/Hulk parts in one movie and the Hela parts in another.  But that’s a minor quibble.  We get so much awesomeness throughout this movie….The Grandmaster!  What can I say about how awesomely weird Jeff Goldblum is as Grandmaster?  So good.  And I like *this* Hulk.  He can talk and have a bit of a conversation.  And he’s funny.  I can’t say enough how on point I think the tone of this movie was.  I think I liked it better than the Guardians movies.

Wrapping up the movie, we see the Asgardians leaving to start New Asgard.  Thor is king and ready to lead his people, sans hammer.  I’m hoping we get to see Thor wield his battle axe, Jarnbjorn, in Infinity War.  Even if only for a little bit.  Loki has made off with the cosmic cube again and it looks like Thor may be the first hero to actually have an interaction with Thanos, or Thanos’ people.  I can’t wait to see this Thor meet up with the Guardians.  So much fun potential coming up in Infinity War.  I can’t wait.

But I’m not the only one who had thoughts on this movie. Here are some quick thoughts from CT:

This movie was for Thor and Hulk what Civil War was for the rest of the MCU characters (sans GotG). It further alters the status quo and makes big shocking changes for Thor that will have to affect him in some way moving forward.

If this movie did anything wrong, it was how it wiped out the Warriors Three so effortlessly. It would have been nice to see them get a few more moments to shine. Hopefully Lady Sif’s absence means she’s still out there able to play a role in a future MCU installment someday.

Hulk finally advances to a level I’ve always wanted to see on screen–that of the talking brute who doesn’t want to become Banner. The TV show and previous movies have made a point of playing up that Banner doesn’t want to be the Hulk, but until now, we’ve really not seen that Hulk doesn’t want to be Banner.

Loki promises to be a big player in Infinity War having clearly saved the Cosmic Cube. This movie ends with a clear set up for an early encounter between Thanos and New Asgard. Hopefully these refugees don’t have worse luck after this meeting with the Mad Titan.

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Countdown to Avengers 3: Captain America: Civil War review

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on April 6, 2018 by Paxton

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. And here we are, along with Robert from To the Escape Hatch and CT on Nerd Lunch doing a third “Countdown to Avengers” series. AND, we are joined by a new blogger, Jay from Life vs. Film. You can check out the start of this series with Robert’s post about Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Robert, Jay, CT and I are all splitting the films up in anticipation of May’s Avengers: Infinity War. With this film and next year’s Avengers 4, the expectation is that we will be done on some level with this iteration of the MCU.  But I doubt it’ll go away completely.

For now, let’s talk about what I came here to talk about…Captain America: Civil War.

Quickly, before we start, my hot take on the first two Captain America movies. The first one is a good, but not outstanding origin movie with lots of great performances including Evans, Atwell, and Weaving. I liked the movie more than I expected and I liked Chris Evans as Cap a *lot* more than I expected. Winter Soldier was a game changer not only for the MCU but for this version of Cap as well. We see Cap in a modern movie kicking all kinds of ass and being awesome. We also get the introduction of two more awesome characters in the Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson, aka Falcon. And while the movie is a great action movie, the political intrigue subplot is well played out as well. The Winter Soldier movie was an eye opener and made Chris Evans’ Cap my new favorite MCU hero over Iron Man.

Fast forward to Civil War. Some may even call it Avengers 2.5. The Avengers taking sides over the fate of Winter Soldier. The first appearance of several new characters. I was pretty excited to see it going into it. And it more than delivers. As these movies have gone on, especially the Avengers movies, I think one of my favorite parts are the cold openings. Usually we see the group in the middle of some mission, working together, bantering, being “The Avengers”. The teamwork and dialogue in these scenes are so fun and I love it. Civil War doesn’t disappoint. It opens with the current Avengers, plus Wanda and minus Tony, in Lagos trying to stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon. We get to see everyone in action, Falcon has Red Wing who gets to shine in battle. Lots of really fun stuff here. Then the drama starts with the thrust of the plot and the entrance (and return!) of General Thunderbolt Ross (shout out to The Incredible Hulk movie!).

The crux of the plot makes sense.  Honestly, even the split of the heroes makes sense to me, each hero going where their natural proclivities lie.  I love the return of Clint.  I know his character gets a lot of crap from fans, but you know what, I like Renner and I like his portrayal of Hawkeye.  How we haven’t gotten a Black Widow/Hawkeye team up movie is beyond me.  We also get the appearance of Scott Lang from Ant-Man (which CT reviewed a little while ago) and he’s great in several *almost* show stealing scenes (Giant Man!).  They continue to build out Winter Soldier’s character.  He gets better and more interesting every single movie he’s in.  And if I don’t get a Winter Soldier/Falcon buddy movie at some point, we will have words, Marvel.

There’s so much to unpack I’m not sure where I want to go next. How about the debut of Black Panther? I’ve read comics since the mid-80s, I’ve never really read Black Panther but this particular iteration of him made me a fan and the Black Panther solo movie further cemented that. The debut of the new Spider-Man? Amazing (pun intended). Tom Holland *nails* Peter Parker. And he *nails* Spider-Man in the suit. Again, the Spider-Man solo movie cemented *that* even further. There’s not much I don’t really like about this movie. The action set pieces are drop dead gorgeous. When Cap goes to confront Bucky while special forces are busting down the door to his apartment…fantastic. Perfectly staged. And the Berlin airport sequence? I don’t need to expend any more words describing how awesome that whole sequence is.

So I said there isn’t really anything I don’t like about this movie.  Let me amend that a bit.  I feel like, and this has been a progression since Iron Man 2, Tony Stark is more and more becoming a crazy asshole.  I mean, I know he was always an asshole but his heart was in the right place and he was still lovable.  Continuing that progression here, he seems to go off the deep end a bit with these Sekovia Accords.  He acts like if the team had been under oversight from the beginning, then the people who died in New York, Sekovia and Lagos would have been saved.  Like, if the UN had oversight over the Avengers, then that kid building sustainable housing in Sekovia (Alfre Woodard’s son) during the Ultron incident wouldn’t have died.  I posit that if the UN had been involved that not only would he most likely still have died, probably millions more would have died as well.  But I also get this progression as ever since New York, Tony has been on edge with PTSD, then he created Ultron, causing all that death and destruction.  I totally get why he’s overcorrecting here.  But it just makes me love it more when he goes to Russia to bury the hatchet with Cap, and then it completely breaks my heart when he sees the video of his parents getting killed and it starts all over.  Such a powerful ending to this movie that I really hope when we get to the next Avengers movie that these issues are addressed in some form.  I don’t want these things to be brushed aside easily.  They really need to address the ending of this movie HARD (they don’t at all in Spider-Man: Homecoming or Black Panther).

So, as it stands, this is very nearly my favorite MCU movie to date.  And that’s a loaded statement because this movie lives on the backs of almost the entire 10 years of history of the MCU to date.  But that’s what makes it so special.

But I wasn’t the only one with thoughts on this movie, here are some final thoughts by CT:

That 14 minute airport fight was something I had waited my entire life to see. Super heroes are notorious for fighting amongst themselves in the comics. And we got a few seconds of an Iron vs. Thor battle in the first Avengers, but here we have two teams, each at “Avengers-level,” facing off. Not only that, to see Giant-Man make his debut here was a nice added touch.
 
While I’m “Team Cap,” if it were real life, I think I’d be Team Stark. The beauty of this movie is the debate between the two is one worth having. The downfall is that the discourse breaks down quickly and devolves into fighting. Hey! Just like the internet!
 
It was also great to see William Hurt’s Ross again which again confirms the Ed Norton movie is a part of this. A fact that some Marvel fans need to be reminded of. Yes, it would have been great to have Ruffalo retroactively in that film, but recasting is a part of life (see also War Machine).
 
This is an MCU-changing film drastically affecting the status quo and leaving things in an interesting place for Infinity War. The family has been shattered. Now they have to work past everything again to take on Thanos.

The Best Movies I saw in 2017

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 5, 2018 by Paxton

Movie Report

I did my favorite books, now it’s time for movies.

Normally I’d list out ten movies; 5 movies released in 2017 and 5 movies from any year that I saw for the first time in 2017. However, this time, I’m just going to list out all my favorite movies from last year. I may get to ten, I may not. I literally don’t know.  But I watched all of these movies for the first time in 2017.  In no particular order.


Baby Driver (2017) – This took me by surprise.  I like Edgar Wright, just not as much as everyone else seems to.  I really liked Shaun of the Dead. I liked Hot Fuzz.  I was disappointed by Scott Pilgrim.  But the premise of this movie and the cast got me on board and while I planned to see it in the theater I missed it and watched it when it hit Redbox.  And I’ve since bought the Blu-Ray, watched it two more times and I bought the soundtrack.  I *LOVE* this movie.  I would say it’s my favorite Edgar Wright movie.  The cast, the performances, the music and how it informs what’s happening on screen, the action sequences.  This movie is SO GOOD.  As good as anything else on this list and it would seriously contend if I were to pick a #1 movie.  I almost wish the young star, Anson Elgort, would have gotten the role of “young Han Solo” as I was more impressed by him here than Alden Ehrenreich in Hail, Caesar! (and I really liked Alden in that movie).


Logan (2017) – They did it. They made the definitive Wolverine movie. And he had to die in it. I simultaneously hate and love that this is the last Hugh Jackman Wolverine movie.  I love pretty much everything about it.  My only regret was that instead of the “young Wolverine clone” at the end, I would have liked to see Liev Shreiber’s Victor return.  But that’s a nitpick that I don’t actually hold against the movie at all.  This was a great movie and a powerful love letter to the character that Hugh has been playing on and off for the last 17 years.


Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – Finally, we get a good Spider-Man movie in the modern age of super hero movies.  They *nailed* Peter Parker/Spider-Man with Tom Holland.  He’s great.  I love that they skipped the origin and all the Uncle Ben stuff and they kept it funny.  And Michael Keaton was the best Spider-Man villain since Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock.  And I like that he has the potential to return rather than joining the long parade of disposable, one movie villains that Marvel has been doing.  I loved Pete’s friend Ned.  I really like the Stark-ified Spidey suit.  This was a fun, exciting movie and I can’t wait to see Holland return in Infinity War.


Wonder Woman (2017) – I can’t believe that we got a Wonder Woman movie that is this good.  Especially considering the lackluster output of EVERY SINGLE OTHER WB/DC MOVIE.  90% of this movie is GREAT.  I have a few issues with the giant CGI slugfest at the end.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that we get a fully realized George Perez Ares God of War on screen.  And I love the reveal of whom Ares was, but the movie seemed to lose some of its weight in the computer generated spectacle at the end.  That being said, this was a great super hero movie, Gal Gadot was awesome and bad ass as Diana and I eagerly await a sequel and the return of Wonder Woman in the Justice League movie (which I still haven’t seen).

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Lost Boys sequel comic from Vertigo

Posted in comic books, monsters, movies, pop culture, vampires with tags , , , , , , , on October 30, 2017 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2011

The Lost Boys is a cult classic.  It is beloved by many.  It’s not hard to argue since the movie is so good in so many ways.  It’s a great addition to the vampire mythos.  It has the two Coreys.  It has a beefy, oily guy in chains playing the sax.  It has a rockin’ soundtrack.  It was a literal time capsule of the 90s.  Not much to really argue about there.  Why didn’t we ever get a decent sequel?

You probably already know about those two The Lost Boys “sequel” movies. The Tribe and The Thirst.

I’ve seen them. They’re terrible. They even bring back the Frog Brothers. Still terrible. Actually, that probably makes them even more terrible.

Back in 2008, Wildstorm put out a sequel comic called Reign of Frogs that also brought back the Frogs and made the story more about them.  And it was a bit nonsensical and not very good either.

That first movie is so good and beloved, you really want these projects to work.  But for the most part, they don’t.

Flash forward back to 2016.  Vertigo starts releasing a Lost Boys comic.  Written by Tim Seely.  It is billed as the Lost Boys sequel you always wanted.

We’ll see about that.

The story takes place in Santa Carla very soon after the first movie. The Frogs are training with Grandpa who now, we know, belongs to a group of vampire hunters. Michael is dating Star. The mom is back at the video store. Things are trying to get back to normal. Until a group of vampires called the Blood Belles show up and start killing all the resident vampire hunters. So the Frogs have to weapon up with Sam and Michael to stop whatever plans they have in store for Santa Carla.

It’s a decent setup.  The writing is mostly solid.  The covers are great and the interior art is mostly good but the faces on the characters are off.  It was confusing to read because I couldn’t tell the difference between Michael and Sam nor either of the Frog Brothers.  So it was tough understanding at first who is talking.  Other than that, I felt like Tim Seely represented the characters well and wrote in their voices that I can remember from the original movie.

Other than that the overall plot is good.  We get the return of a few more characters from the original movie.  It’s fun.  Nothing ground breaking or amazing but a solid return to that world.

Or at the very least, a more solid return than any of the other returns we’ve gotten before.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: Cult Film Club Podcast – Trick or Treat (1986)

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2017 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

That’s right, my friends, Cult Film Club is back. Today we are releasing episode 41 where we talk about the 1986 horror flick, Trick or Treat.

Trick or Treat

We’ve threatened to do this movie before and we thought this Halloween was the perfect time to do it.  The movie stars Family Ties’ Marc Price with cameos by Gene Simmons, Ozzy Ozbourne, and Showbiz Pizza’s Billy Bob (not even joking).  It’s a classic 80s horror movie that is better than you think it is with a rocking soundtrack.

Download the show on iTunes, Stitcher, Google or any of your usual podcasting places.  Or you can listen to it directly right here.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Others (2001)

Posted in Genres, ghosts, horror, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 20, 2017 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2017

Today I want to talk about another favorite ghost movie of mine, The Others, from 2001.

It was directed by Alejandro Amenabar and starred Nicole Kidman.  The only other movie I know Amenabar from is Open Your Eyes from 1997 with Penelope Cruz.  It’s the movie Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise remade into Vanilla Sky which would open the very same year as The Others.

I saw this movie in the theater based mostly on the spooky trailer and Nicole Kidman.  I had no preconceived notions going in on what to expect.

The movie takes place in 1945 in Jersey, a British dependency located in the Channel Islands.  Kidman lives in a remote country home with her two children; Anne and Nicholas.

The children have a rare condition that makes them allergic to sunlight and their father had left to fight in WWII but has not returned.

After three servants take up residence in the house strange things start occuring. The oldest daughter begins talking about seeing a small boy named Victor. Mysterious sounds are heard in abandoned rooms. Doors are left open. Typical ghostly haunted house stuff.

Kidman is not sure if the kids are causing the disturbances, the new servants or some ghostly intruder.  The suspense is really ratcheted up throughout the movie.  Lots of atmosphere.  And the old house is a great part of this whole thing.  It’s huge with all of these abandoned rooms.  You almost feel lost in the house while you are watching it.  There’s so much wood which causes lots of “house noises”.  Kidman’s character opens and closes every door of every room she enters and you get the requisite wood sounds every time.  The house looks and sounds great.  And the “ghostly” events are really spooky.

I’m not going to give away the ending.  I really want you to watch it.  But the atmosphere and tension are really amped up.  Kidman gives a great performance as the mom trapped in an ever increasingly bizarre set of circumstances.  The daughter, Anne, played by Alakina Mann, is pretty great as well.  She needed to work because she’s the one who goes against her mother for most of the movie as she’s the one who’s seen Victor and the “intruders”.  And she brings it 100%.  She’s really great in all her scenes with Kidman.

I rewatched this movie for this review and it still holds up.  Even knowing what the ultimate climax was going to be, I still very much enjoyed the journey the movie took me on to get to its “final resting place”.

Okay, so next week is the final FULL week of AWESOME-tober-fest.  I can’t believe it’s already nearly over.  Usually for this final week I’ll do what I call “Greatest Hits” where I revisit topics from previous AWESOME-tober-fests like vampires, werewolves or movie maniacs.  However, this year, for the 10th anniversary of this countdown, I’ve decided to do something a little different.  For the next week I’ll be doing ALL NEW topics.  Topics that I had planned for their own AWESOME-tober-fest at some point.  I’ll pick one article from five different topics I’ve never done before.  It should be a lot of fun.  I’ll even give you a preview of Monday’s topic.

Awesometoberfest 2017

I’ll see you back here on Monday.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Frighteners movie novelization by Michael Jahn (1996)

Posted in books, Genres, ghosts, horror, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2017 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2017

On Friday I talked about one of my favorite ghost movies, Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners from 1996. Well, as luck would have it, they released a movie novelization for it.  It was written by Michael Jahn.

 

I Read Movies

So, I recorded a very special Halloween episode of I Read Movies all about this novelization. I talk about extra scenes, I talk about new plot points, there’s even a good bit explaining the nature of the movie’s ghosts. Lots of good stuff to hear, so either download the latest episode of I Read Movies on iTunes and Google Play or listen to it right here.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.