Brief Review of Kingsman: The Golden Circle

It’s awesome.

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More of the same from the first one, including A.) a logical villain with great motives, B.) awesome action, C.) a perfect blend of action, adventure, drama, horror and comedy, and D.) a great new addition in the Statesman. It leans a little bit too heavily on the spy-genre satire this time around, inching things into the realm of campy for brief moments, but never quite overextends its hand so as to damage the overall enjoyability of the film. So, with that said, if you dug Kingsman: The Secret Service or just want an insane action flick, this is not one to be missed.

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“Alien: Covenant” Review

It’s slow, it’s stupid, it’s sinfully bad.

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To put it bluntly, nothing happens in the first hour. There’s minimal characterization of the cannon fodder, lots of scenic shots of nothingness and absolutely no plot. Then, when we do get to the plot, we get the most underwhelming origin story explaining the xenomorphs’ creation, effectively ruining every other movie in the series. Then there’s an abysmal finale that tries to recapture the magic of the original Alien but utterly blows it, making a tense alien hunt no more than a five minute ordeal (and I do mean ordeal; it’s a minor inconvenience for the characters) that you’ve already seen the entirety of in the trailers. And that’s the thing, there are some cool shots in the trailer that never even make it into the movie.

Here’s the scoop: Ridley Scott thinks he’s made a very smart movie–but really, it’s a smattering of glorified philosophy 101 topics served to you across two and a half hours of lackluster horror. That, coupled with the most inept team of space colonists ever as the emotional “pull” of the flick, leaves you with a forgettable, damning piece of evidence as to why Ridley needs oversight on these projects. Or, better yet, hand the reigns off entirely to Neil Blomkamp and watch him make a far superior Alien 5.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is Deteriorating and No One is Going to Stop It

When you pull something off as magnificent in scope and unprecedented in scale as Marvel Studios has with their endless string of Cinematic Universe-entangled superhero flicks, you get too caught up in seeing how far it can go rather than how far it should. Herein lies the problem with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, a Hollywood juggernaut set rampaging across box office records and gleeful moviegoers alike. It’s grown to a point where people just want to keep propelling it forward for the sole purpose of maintaining its “legendary success story in-the-making” narrative, rather than forcing it to earn that title on its own through actual merit in its films. Let’s analyze the core elements that made phase one of the MCU so great and how those same elements have turned phase three into little more than a dry-heaving mess limping towards the star-studded finish line.

The Avengers

Kicking off with Iron Man, Marvel brought quite a few unique items to the table. First, they were pushing mad money behind a relatively unknown (in the public eye) B-list character. Secondly, from day one they had plans to bring him into a much bigger fold across a series of movies, culminating in The Avengers. Thirdly, they were making something topical, given the Invasion of Iraq’s prominence in 2008. Relevant, unknown and secretly ambitious? An interesting mixture, no doubt. One that paved the way for Marvel’s road to greatness.

For the first phase that ingredient list was pure and fresh, culminating in the cinematic entree of superhero fine dining known as The Avengers, the most spectacular team-up to ever hit the silver screen. But anything after that, by the aforementioned film’s very nature, was bound to start springing leaks in the hull of the S.S. MCU. Phase two was rife with plot holes across all its movies, the grossly outnumbered critic-minded moviegoers pointing out odd omissions like “why couldn’t the Hulk help Iron Man when ____ was happening?” or any number of related crossover questions that sprung up whenever a hero needed to conquer an obstacle alone even though his friends weren’t busy and existed in the same world as the movie at hand. Then problem number two started to rear its ugly head: the lack of stakes. In order to give the big heroes sequels and trilogies, Marvel had to start scrubbing any stakes from its films to ensure heavy-hitters like Thor and Captain America would always survive for another solo round or Avengers sequel. This meant that when you walked into the theater you’d already know the ending, no spoilers required. The Avengers initiative was starting to poison itself.

Topical subject matters became a crutch for Marvel, being the only element to set Captain America: The Winter Soldier apart from its relatively cookie-cutter MCU brethren. The B-list (and later C-list) characters were being developed into full-on feature films because it was quirky and therefore meme-worthy, AKA big-bucks-baiting in a world revolving solely around Twitter hashtags. Before anyone knew it, the Guardians of the Galaxy and freakin’ Ant-Man were getting solo films devoid of consequence all in the service of building up a big ‘ol MCU for the grand Avengers: Infinity War finale, a construction project still underway at this very moment. And yet, now deep into phase three, the luster is gone. The magic has faded. While audiences still gobble it up because it’s light-years better than what the competition’s putting out (looking at you, Batman V Superman), there’s a somewhat sinister corporate greed starting to overshadow the artistic merit present during the early days of the first Avengers film.

Take Dr. Strange, for example. Stephen Strange goes through the exact same internal transformation as Tony Stark did in Iron Man. And look at Ant-Man—that story’s a near carbon copy of Iron Man at every major plot beat. Marvel’s got a nice cookie-cutter formula going for turning likable B-list and C-list characters into instant A-listers, but it doesn’t hide the blatant lack of creativity. Another glaring instance of unimaginative plotting is in the usage of superheroes making cameos in each other’s movies. While Marvel never, ever explains where other characters are in times of need, they’ll call on a poorly set-up Spider-Man to join in a massive Civil War fight for absolutely no other reason than to show off the prize they got from their deal with Sony. They’re now in the business of parading heroes around for market value rather than plot, and that, combined with the assembly line nature of the MCU’s recent entries, is starting to bode ill for any true artistic innovation left in this pocket of the genre.

Similarly to Thanos, the big villain of the upcoming Infinity War movies, the only entity that can stop Marvel is Marvel themselves. If Kevin Feige can descend from his ivory tower for just a wink to look at where this rollercoaster started and where it’s headed, maybe he and the suits in charge of the operation could redirect its course towards a more savory finish line, one not even considering a still-interconnected phase five AFTER the Infinity Wars have concluded. Because where there’s a new phase, there are extended contracts. Where there are extended contracts, there are recurring characters and no stakes. And where there are no stakes, there is no point at all.

The 5 Best Movies of 2016

5.) Kubo and the Two Stringskubo-main_0

It’s an animated movie with hutzpah; something that isn’t widely promulgated these days. Featuring beautiful art direction, great music and a narrative containing serious, mature themes that will resonate with child and adult alike, Kubo is a gem in the modern day animated dirt mine.

4.) The Accountantmv5bndc5mzg2ntyxnv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjq2odawote-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_

This is on here because the first hour and a half was a remarkably delicate, thoughtful handling of a sensitive subject matter interlaced with guns, powerful flashback sequences and (against all odds) interesting mathematical content. Riveting stuff. Not to mention the second half wasn’t that bad either.

 

 

3.) Hacksaw Ridgeimg

I don’t normally watch WWII period pieces, but when I do I make sure Mel Gibson’s directing ’em.

 

 

 

 

1.) All I See Is You and The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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It’s a tie! While I like All I See Is You just a tad more because it speaks to my experiences in relationships (I know, yikes) and operates on a level entirely above and beyond any other romantic drama I’ve seen, the reality of the matter is that it’s a more flawed movie than The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Jane Doe accomplishes exactly what it sets out to without a single misstep. In any case, they’re both horror masterpieces and my movies of 2016.

The 5 Worst Movies of 2016

My definition of worst for the sake of this list: anything that let me down so substantially that I feel it was a waste of my time on this earth. Disappointed, wronged, call it whatever you want. I’m calling it “worst.”

5.) Neighbors 2: Sorority Risingimages

This is the kind of inane movie that panders to the brand of feminism people like Laci Green preach. It’s utterly idiotic in every way, to summarize. The jokes fall flat, the characters of the first are brought back for a pointless sequel, Seth Rogen drops the ball, you get the gist.

4.) Sausage Party

And look at that, Seth is back on this list already! The funniest thing to come from his two 2016 releases is the fact I usually like his brand of humor. Yet here we are, with a raunchy, incoherent mess of a two-hour food orgy. Literally. Ever think about the CGI artists who pay for their children’s food by animating a hot dog ass-fucking a bagel? You do now. Continue reading

Review of “Assassin’s Creed”

As a marketing tool, this movie fails. It only contains content that fans of the series will appreciate, meaning it’s preaching to the choir and no one else. With that said, I liked it—a lot.acm.jpg

I think the biggest problem with this movie, the only one by my estimation, is the abysmal writing. It’s atrocious. Dialogue is beyond shoddy, the plot itself is a mess and every single aspect of this movie that was dictated by the screenplay is garbage. The writers, Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage should honestly be so embarrassed that they omit this credit from their resumes. Every single Assassin’s Creed video game features better writing than what’s on display here, and that’s saying something.

Here’s the good news: everything else is spectacular. If you go in expecting a visual extravaganza filled with superb acting, video game Easter eggs, historical celebrity cameos and dope Spanish Inquisition action set-pieces, you’ll walk out satisfied. Given the awful hand director Justin Kurzel was dealt with the aforementioned screenplay, the cinematic God-king himself made the most of it and delivered on everything he possibly could from his position. The movie looks stunning. Sounds stunning. IS stunning.

Review of “Hacksaw Ridge”

Imagine how insane Mel Gibson’s career would’ve been if he didn’t get put on that ridiculous blacklist.img.jpg

Here’s the nitty-gritty: Hacksaw Ridge is fantastic. A bit old-school, but fantastic. Sometimes it’s painful to watch but most of the time it’s heart-pounding or heart-warming. Go see it if you want a pacifist-themed triumph of the human spirit movie.

Pros:
-Awesome documentary footage of the actual “true story” soldiers at the end that verifies virtually everything you just watched unfold in the movie
-The action is gripping and pacing is wonderful
-All of the leads are amazing. From Garfield to Weaving to Palmer to Bracey to Vince fucking Vaughn himself, all performances are top-notch.
-The jumpscares and tense moments actually keep you on the edge of your seat
-It’s corny and oldschool for the first half in the cutest way possible
-It’s brutal for the second half in the best way possible

Cons:
-One particular shot of a body being lowered down a mountainside while two guys in the foreground discuss stuff is meant to be dramatic but was actually super funny and compromised the tension

Funny stuff:
-The only element that reeks of thematically-enhanced drama was when Andrew Garfield pimp-slaps a live grenade out of mid-air

Overall, great World War 2 movie with a unique perspective. Go see it. I implore you.