Fury (Review)

Fury (Review)

At the recommendation from an Army Captain.

David Ayer doesn’t really have the best reputation in recent years, though by all accounts, how Suicide Squad turned out wasn’t directly his fault.  He had one vision on the project and the studio had a different vision after the reception of Batman v. Superman.  So I was surprised to learn that Fury, a movie that was very well received (and for which Shia LaBeouf reportedly pulled out one of his own teeth for the role, instead of, you know, acting like he had a tooth missing.  You know, like an actor), and by all accounts, accurate, was also directed by David Ayer.

The first thing that struck me is that this film feels more like a movie set in modern times.  It doesn’t dwell on the heroism of WW2, it focuses on the mud and dirt.  The PTSD, the blood.  The parts of war that we more associate with modern war movies for our modern sensibilities.  The characters in this film are enlisted men, who are introduced fixing a broken tank while their old friend’s corpse is rotting in the seat next to them.

What also struck me about the film was how accurate it seemed about living in a tank.  The close, almost claustrophobic living conditions with no sense of privacy.  Privacy does not exist in this world.  That’s how it is portrayed.  The tank are these soldiers world, their country and everyone else outside the tank are outsiders and/or enemies.  This is the mentality of the movie.

At times the story seems to bog down and force a plot development that we’ve seen a million times before but I ignored that part just because everything about the scene before was fascinating to me.  Even the prolonged dinner scene during the middle of the movie was interesting to watch in order to see where these characters are coming from.  They may act terribly but their work is terrible.  In essence, the more people they kill, the closer they get to the end of the war.  Morality and ethics don’t play into their lives.

I didn’t care much for the plot of the film.  It seemed to be more or less what you would expect from a war movie.  What I was fascinated by was the interactions between these people and getting to know them for who they are as soldiers.

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Thor: Ragnarok (Review)

Thor: Ragnarok (Review)

I think someone likes Led Zeppelin.

The Thor trilogy might be the weirdest trilogy in the MCU.  Iron Man pretty much stays the same in terms of style but slowly goes downhill in terms of quality.  Captain America jumps up in quality by the second movie and becomes the best trilogy overall.  And here’s Thor with a pretty-good movie, a meh movie and a crazy over the top movie.

The one thing that comes to mind when I watched this movie is that the characters of Thor and Loki have significantly changed from what they were.  I believe that the director – Taika Waititi – wanted them to act like how they are depicted in the actual norse myths.  So Thor is more of a buffoon than you might be used to, quicker to act than to think.

Thor and Loki are also less antagonistic than they were in previous films.  They actually act more like quarreling brothers at times, acting more like they do in the myths.  Loki does a thing that gets out of his control and Thor has to force him to fix it.  Not to say that they don’t act seriously.  They still remember the things they’ve done in the past and this informs how they act towards each other, but you still remember that they are still brothers and they still love each other, even if they don’t want to admit it.

When I saw the logo change for the film, I was worried that they had changed it to make it more like Guardians of the Galaxy.  Well, that was exactly what they did but it was rationalized.  The film is basically the way they merge the Thor world with the Guardians of the Galaxy world.  The Nine Realms have always felt strange and like they might not exist in the same dimension as the rest of the galaxy.  This film basically says that yes, the Nine Realms are just one part of the galaxy.

It’s definitely the funniest Marvel movie, in my opinion.  Funnier even than Guardians of the Galaxy and the laughs just keep coming.  The film is never too serious for too long.  If a serious moment goes on for a few minutes, you know that something funny is going to happen to lighten the mood.  Which is a shame at times because they bring up some interesting ideas and themes that they don’t go anywhere with.  It suffers from a problem most Marvel movies have in that they never stray from the movie being about good vs evil.

Cate Blanchett as Hela the goddess of death is a blast but also suffers from Marvel’s penchant for boring villains.  Her motivations are pretty much the same motivations for Loki; she wants the throne because she was denied it.  That’s about it.  Thankfully, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie is a breath of fresh air, with a backstory and character arc that is interesting and different from others.  I found myself liking every scene she was in, making her in my opinion one of the highlights of the film.

Another highlight is the Hulk.  And when I say Hulk, I mean Hulk.  Bruce Banner is in there for a bit, but its the Hulk that has more to do.  This time around, he actually has a personality and spoken lines of dialogue.  His behavior is like a child that can destroy everything he sees, which is a welcome difference from the other iterations of him.  This time, it feels like the Hulk and Bruce Banner are two separate entities trapped in one body, which is an interesting change.

The film is definitely worthy of all the praise its getting.  It’s funny, it’s epic, it’s heartwarming and it’s just a great, wild ride from start to finish.  It’s never too serious for too long which might be a problem if that’s what you want but most likely, you’re just watching this film to watch Hulk punch Surtr the fire giant in the face.

The Foreigner (Review)

The Foreigner (Review)

It’s nice to see Jackie Chan kicking ass again.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it many times before but expectations can make or break a film.  You’re opinion of a film will be vastly different if a film is marketed as a comedy and you get a horror film than if you got what you expected it to be.  Which is why I absolutely believe the story of a woman suing because she expected Drive to be a Fast and the Furious-esque film and she got a cerebral character analysis of a murderer (or something).  And although the disconnect of the film is not as strong as those movies, The Foreigner also has that same sort of problem.

It’s marketed as a Jackie Chan action film and part of it is that.  Jackie Chan is doing what he does best: action set pieces with awesome stunts.  What’s different this time around is that the story of this movie is more grounded in a serious topic, that of terrorism.  Jackie Chan plays a father trying to get revenge on the terrorists who killed his daughter, a role that he plays wonderfully in a subdued way.  There is a cold callousness to his character that makes you sympathize with him in an immediate way.

This film is, however, not really an action film.  There are absolutely action scenes but it’s a lot more political than the trailers lead on.  Pierce Brosnan is a former member of the IRA (which the terrorists claim to be a part of) and his efforts are to keep the peace.  His motivations are entirely devoted to making sure no more blood is spilled between England and Ireland.  Jackie Chan, however, doesn’t believe him, which leads the viewer to have an interesting disconnect with our supposed hero.  Is he righteous?  Or is he a grieving man grasping at anything that could be connected to his daughter’s death?  The answers aren’t so clear, which is a common theme in this film.

Pierce Brosnan’s own character seems beset on all sides within his own Mob-like political family.  People have their own agendas and they’re working against each other in a sort of Game of Thrones like way.  They’re shadow games are being forced to light through the actions of an old Chinese man who want’s answers no matter the cost.  These actions continue to reverberate and expand beyond to affect even the lives of highest levels of government.

I personally can’t fault this film for being different from my expectations.  I actually love it when a film can actually surprise me.  That being said, I was expecting a Jackie Chan movie and got a majority of Pierce Brosnan with Jackie Chan feeling more like a side-character.  I was expecting an action movie and I got a political thriller tied directly to The Troubles in Ireland, an event in history that I have no frame reference for or background on to see if this film is actually accurate in how it treats the subject matter.

The film is not a bad movie at all.  In fact, I was engrossed by the whole thing.  It’s not really a Jackie Chan centric movie though, which might be off-putting for some viewers.  Even the final act sort of falls flat because it’s trying to wrap up a million different threads and it doesn’t really feel as climactic as it could have been.  Then again, maybe that was the point.

I’m sorry if my feelings of this film aren’t as clear but they’re really not.  For every flaw I find, I find a reason to justify it.  There’s a sense that a majority of the film is kept in a dark from everything else, trying to stay hidden from the world.  It was an enjoyable mystery to watch but at the end, I’m not sure what I took away from it or if anything was really solved in the end.  It was a fun ride but it wasn’t really satisfying in the end.  Again, which may have been the point.

Blade Runner 2049 (Review)

Blade Runner 2049 (Review)

So I noticed that the wikipedia page for this movie doesn’t mention Ana de Armas’ character in the plot summary at all.  Someone should fix that.

If someone asks you what cyberpunk is, you point them to Blade Runner.  It was the film that defined what cyberpunk was, and always made one think about what exactly it means to be human.  And like any true fan, I was wary of any supposed sequel to the classic film.

Well, fear not.  This film is better than the original.  Seriously.  It takes what was so great about the original and expands on it.  The world of Blade Runner feels more real and more fleshed out.  Denis Villeneuve has such an eye for visuals that every shot is beautiful to look at.  Ryan Gosling shines in his subdued acting that he excels at.  The slow pacing is a style of movie that I enjoy greatly.

Which is why it pains me to say it but there are parts of the film that don’t work for me.  For one thing, the film is overtly sexist.  Women pretty much only serve as passengers for the men, to be used or ignored and aren’t really allowed to have their own story.  Ana de Armas’ character Joi is quite literally a hologram that Ryan Gosling’s character has that becomes whoever he wants her to be.

I’m still struggling with this aspect because the sexism blends so neatly into the dystopian world of Blade Runner that its hard to separate the two.  Of course this world is sexist.  The replicants are only considered products to be bought and used as the humans wish.  Property and slaves.

The major problem I have with the film concerns the third act and it’s complete lack of focus.  There are stories that have a neat beginning, middle and end for this movie but for one storyline, they are definitely leaving it up in the air for a potential sequel and it made the ending extremely jarring for me.  Build up with no pay off.  Plus, Jared Leto, for all his part in the film, doesn’t really amount to anything.

Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie immensely.  It is by far one of the greatest films ever made, even with it’s flaws.  It’s beautiful and thought provoking with many hours in the future going to be spent thinking about what exactly was watched.

It (Review)

It (Review)

God, I told myself I wouldn’t watch this film.

I generally don’t do horror movies.  I don’t like feeling startled (not scared, startled), and I find most horror movies today relish in blood and gore instead of trying to make you feel scared.  I typically don’t like jump scares since all they really do is startle you, not scare you.  This in turn actually tends to hurt movies because since your heart is racing ahead of time during a jump scare, the next few parts that are supposed to be more terrifying aren’t that scary because you’re still coming down from the previous scare.

Enter It.  A movie adaptation of a book that gave me nightmares belonging to a genre that I don’t go out of my way to watch.  So, why did I like this It so much?

By all accounts, a great majority of the film is jump scare after jump scare.  We follow a group of kids who are battling a clown-creature known only as Pennywise the Clown, the titular It.  Before they can do battle, however, they each have to experience being terrified and hunted by It in their own way.  What tends to follow is a one kid getting terrified by It, followed immediately by another kid getting terrified by It and then a few minutes of character development and then back to terrifying the next kid in line.  It got to the point where, as I mentioned before, I was starting to feel numb to the scares.  Don’t get me wrong, they are absolutely terrifying, but as I got used to the movie, I got used to the scares and they stopped scaring me so much.

Perhaps this was intentional in order for we the audience can follow the growth of the kids who learn to master their own fears.  Ultimately, the main reason I liked this movie so much was the bond these kids have with each other.  They are each played wonderfully and play off each other realistically.  Each have their own story arc that the movie spends equal amounts of time with so that we know and care about these characters.

It is absolutely a horror movie; but, it’s a horror movie with a heart, something at it’s core that it’s actually about.  And I think that is why I liked It so much.

Kong: Skull Island (Review)

Kong: Skull Island (Review)

Kong: Skull Island is the second movie of planned Monsterverse franchise because every movie has to be a franchise now.  Unlike other would be movie franchises, this one isn’t half bad.

I love Godzilla, both the American reboot and the monster.  It was because of that love that I saw Kong: Skull Island, since at some point in the future, they’re supposed to duke it out in a glorious fight for the ages.  I probably shouldn’t have gone in with that mindset because these two movies couldn’t be more different.

Whereas Godzilla was a dark and gritty monster movie set in the modern day, Kong: Skull Island is a movie set in the 70s or at least, a version of the 70s that’s been greatly exaggerated to the point of near parody.  This film is more of an adventure film right down to a handsome, rugged man who must save their lives while trapped on the island.  I say man because I honestly don’t know any of their names.

There are multiple characters throughout this film but they’re all very shallow characters.  What you see is what you get from these people.  You never learn anything deeper about them because you’re not really supposed to.  There’s just a group of people trapped on an island with a giant ape.  And I was perfectly okay with that.

This movie does not take itself seriously at all, it is simply a movie meant to entertain the audience, which is exactly what monster movies were supposed to do.  Sure, there is always room to tell a deep and meaningful movie, but I’m not gonna fault a monster movie for being stupid.  This film is stupid but in the fun perfect way.  It’s a film that knows what it’s trying to do and it does it very well.  And I had a good time with it.

John Wick (Review)

John Wick (Review)

Yeah, I’ve only just recently watched this movie.  Sue me.

There are two things about this movie that I think makes it stand out from other action movies.  It’s ability for you to sympathize with the main character and its world building.  On the surface, it seems to be a movie about a man who’s going to kill the people who killed his dog and stole his car.  And you’d be right, that’s exactly what it is.  The film takes it’s time in introducing these elements, however.  It doesn’t begin with a loud opening meant to grab your attention.  It begins with the funeral of the main character’s wife and the days of grief that followed.  In fact, we don’t even learn that John used to be a feared hitman until 30 min into the movie.

And this is where the world building really shines.  Everywhere John goes, people seem to know who he is and what he does.  As John reenters his old life, we see the places he used to go, the tools he used to have and the underworld lifestyle that seems to blend with the rest of the world.  The world of assassins that exists in this film seems to be just behind the layer of civilization, hidden in plain sight, making John’s trek into his old life an interesting journey.

The only complaint I have is that the action sequences, while impressive in their own right, doesn’t seem to have the same punch that’s seen in Atomic Blonde (also by David Leitch) or The Raid.  Though I’m willing to forgive this due to the film’s low budget and it’s other strengths.

So, in conclusion, yeah the film is pretty good.  Shame that I hadn’t seen it earlier.