Ready Player One Movie Review

ready player one movie poster

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these. There are a few reasons, one is I’m back in school and work has been busy. But since Spielberg’s newest film, Ready Player One, is a homage to all things geek culture, I figure I better do a proper review. Based on the book by Ernest Cline, this is an adventure set it the future where everyone goes to a VR world to meet, interact, shop and yes even play games. I was particularly interested in this movie since I made a movie in school based on a similar premise. Virtual worlds is a interesting subject for me, so does this hold up to my expectations? Game Start!

Likes:

  1. The most important thing that this movie needed to do was to do proper world building. This takes place in a somewhat dystopian future where the protagonist lives in the “stacks” a huge trailer park with several trailers stacked on top of each other. I must say that the world outside the oasis and inside the oasis was both very cool and fascinating.
  2. I think the fact that half of the movie contains CGI might be a turn off for people really sick of its overuse. But it works in this most since half the movie takes place in a virtual world. Besides that, the CGI is actually really well done and makes for a visual treat.
  3. There’s tons of pop-culture references in this movie, and for those of us who follow pop culture closely will have a ton a fun spotting them and also makes for some really fun moments in the movie. I’ll just say that fans of The Shining and Gundam are in for a treat.
  4. The story isn’t anything too deep but it is very satisfying. It isn’t a movie that dives deep into the philosophical implications that a virtual world entails but the characters are likable, the villains are fun to hate and a ending that is has an important message for our time.

Dislikes:

  1. There are some plot details that aren’t fully explained during the first viewing. This may be fixed upon further viewings but there were definitely moments of plot convenience. I won’t go into the details for spoilers sake but for as big and worldwide as the oasis is, everyone important just happens to live close together.
  2. If you aren’t up to date on pop culture, then you’re going to miss a lot of the inside jokes and references that give the film much of its charm.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 3/5

It is a PG-13 movie that has above-average language (including one F-bomb) and a few scenes that are suggestive (including a homage to a scene from another movie that is R rated). The violence oddly enough is the most withheld as there is no gore and only a little blood drawn in the real world. But bodies burst into gold coins in a unique substitute for blood and gore.

Overall:

This was a fun and enjoyable movie to watch. It’s a love letter to all things geek-culture, especially video games and movies. As a major geek myself, I was able to follow the homages and references that made the experience that much more fun. However, I’m unsure how older or audiences that aren’t into geek-culture would react to the film. It does have enough action to get most people excited but its like having pizza without any toppings. Your going to miss out on some of the best the film has to offer if you aren’t in the know. But if you follow us at all, I’m confident that you’ll have a blast at this movie. Just know that your non-geek SO will more than likely have a lot of questions.

Justice League Movie Review

Justice League

The world’s finest finally come together on the big screen, albeit it has been a really bumpy road. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being a critical failure, and the DCU generally under-performing (with exception of Wonder Woman). Will the previous movies bog down this one and is DC several years too late to the superhero team movie?

Likes:

Luke

  1. I’ll preface this review with the fact that I do in fact like the DC characters more than the Marvel Heroes. So it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed having the DC characters together on the big screen. I really enjoyed these versions of the characters I love. Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg  were all well acted and brought different personalities to the team. While the story may be lacking, the saving grace in this movie for me is the characters.
  2. It doesn’t have the same tone of dread that BvS did. It was a lighter tone in the same vain as Wonder Woman, which I feel is needed for this film.
  3. (Spoiler-ish) Superman does superman things and is likable.

Adam

  1. This was a fun, lighter toned film. This film didn’t take itself as seriously as Dawn of Justice did, but didn’t get as silly as some of the newer Marvel movies have. I felt that it was the perfect blend, and appreciated how they didn’t go too far either way.
  2. I really enjoyed the new members of the team: Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. They are all interesting and enjoyable to watch. They may not have been developed quite as much as I’d like but in the time they had, I felt that they did a good job.
  3. I felt like the characters were closer to how their characters have been portrayed in the past and in the comic books. Dawn of Justice showed most of the characters in very different way that I didn’t like, but in this movie I feel like we got closer to the source material.

Dislikes:

Luke

  1. The main villain, Steppenwolf, is pretty boring and generic. His motivations aren’t really made clear and it’s the same old renew-the-earth-by-destroying-it plot. The story is fairly weak and predictable. But as mentioned before, the characters sell it and the pacing is good enough that it doesn’t drag.
  2. Not enough J.K. Simmons.

Adam

  1. The storyline was a little lacking and unsurprisingly foreseeable. There was only one part that actually surprised me.
  2. Minor thing, but I don’t like how flash runs. His arm motion doesn’t look natural.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 2/5

This film is your typical superhero action movie, there’s some language at parts and the violence is on par with most PG-13 films. There are a few bits of adult humor that will go over the kids’ heads.

Overall:

Luke:

It’s hard to say if this movie will be remembered in a decade or so. The Avengers was the first of this kind of big superhero multi-franchise team up so this movie will probably be overshadowed by it. However I am very fond of the characters. I love these heroes and to see them on the big screen was a delight even though its slightly above average at best. It’s entertaining, action-packed and should please you for 2 hours. If you love the DC heroes, it’s definitely worth a watch. But if you’re feeling super hero fatigue, then this film will probably bore you.

Adam: 

I did enjoy this movie. I honestly went in with low expectations but was pleasantly surprised. This is definitely one that is worth going to see in the theater. DC is moving in the right direction and I have hope that the DC Cinematic Universe will continue to improve.

 

Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman

To put it mildly the DC Cinematic Universe has had a rough start. With the mixed bag of Man of Steel to the outright disappointment in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. There’s a lot riding on the new addition to the DCU, the first live action film of Wonder Woman. Does this movie give the most popular female superhero justice, could it save the DCU?

Likes:

Luke

  1. One of the biggest complaints of the DCU is that the films doesn’t depict the characters truthfully, which I agree in the case of Superman (a future article may come about this). One of the advantages of being the first movie for a character is that this movie isn’t going to be compared to other films. So the movie wasn’t compelled to reinvent the character, but rather was able to depict Wonder Woman in the same way as the current comics and animations do. So to answer the question earlier, yes, this movie does the character justice. This isn’t a super broody or edgy version from the 90’s comics, but rather the beginning of a naive but never-the-less heroic character learning about the world of man. It is refreshing to see a superhero movie look back to what made superheroes powerful story devices in the first place. In short, they got the archetypes right.
  2. One of the concerns I had with this movie was that it was going to be full of post-modern feminist crap. I don’t mean the egalitarian feminists but the misandry-fueled feminism. I was fully expecting very male character to be depicted as idiotic, cowardly, hate-filled brutes. However, they depicted the men in the film in a very human way, where indeed there was corruption but also valor. They also made Wonder Woman heroic by doing heroic things and not just by the virtue of being a woman. This is a clear example of how to do female superheroes, which is to treat them as heroes going through the heroes journey and getting the archetypes right.
  3. The actions scenes were incredible. There was something really refreshing about it and had an energy that isn’t seen much in modern action movies. I think there are two reasons for this, firstly is the context of the action. The best action movies are always character-driven. You actually care about the action because we care about the characters, which is why the action scenes in the original star wars trilogy were more memorable than the prequels. Secondly is that they actually took the time to properly choreograph and block the action scenes to make the action scenes easy to understand, get the action grounded and not rely on shaky-cam or overloading the shot with too many moving parts.
  4. The color grading was good, I was a bit worried since the war scenes looked nearly black and white, but there is color where it makes sense. The beginning on Paradise is very vivid but becomes muted when they get to the war. It made sense why they did it and I thought it looked great.

Adam

  1. One of the problems that I have had with the DCU is that it is just to serious and dark. The lack of humor (Batman vs Superman) is exhausting. Wonder Woman has remedied this. There was a fair bit of humor and it is all played out very well. Humor isn’t there for the sake of humor but is is all there for a reason. There is a lot of laughs that accompany Diana learn about the world of men. She never looked dumb or inferior, but it showed her innocents and naivety.
  2. Diana’s growth was very interesting to watch. You learn that she is very smart, and has a lot of knowledge that many others don’t. But as she starts to interact with Chris Pine’s character and ends up in the world of men you see how they she didn’t have a lot of our problems to deal with. As the movie goes on you see how she starts to adapt and learn how to survive, blend in and live in our world.
  3. The action scenes where amazingly done. I don’t think that I have seen this type of style before, it was very clean and easy to follow. However it kept me on the edge of my seat and looked amazing.

Dislikes:

Luke

  1.  I can’t think of anything that I really disliked about this movie. Maybe the London scenes might be a bit dull but I think it played an important part in teaching Diane about the world of man, her relation to it and what she needs to do to fit into that world. So nothing major here.

Adam

  1. The only things I had a little problem with was exactly what Luke said. The contrast from Paradise to London was so extreme that it was jarring. It was for a purpose however so it was forgivable.

Awkward Walk-in Meter: 3/5

Luke:

There is a lot of attractive woman in tunics during the beginning. But nothing that’s intentionally provocative. In fact, there is a scene where there is more nudity of Chris Pine than the ladies (which is zoomed out and covered). There is talk about sex in one scene but nothing too graphic. The violence actually has weight to it but it isn’t bloody or excessive. The language is minor.

Overall:

Luke:

Just when I thought I was getting superhero fatigue after watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it was actually the DCU movie that pulled me out of it. And the reason it did was that it went back to basics. The director Patty Jenkins said that she wanted to go back to character over spectacle with this movie and it clearly shows.

As far as origins stories go, I hold this as high as the first Iron Man movie. Maybe not as high as Batman Begins, which I do have a soft spot for as it’s one of my favorites, but it is easily the best DCU movie to come out so far. Patty Jenkins needs to direct more big Hollywood movies, not because she’s a female filmmaker but she’s a good filmmaker that happens to be female. I now have hopes that the DCU can be saved, at least there is now one solid movie from it.

Adam:

I was hoping that Wonder Woman was going to break DC’s current streak and it did. The tone of this one was so much better and more natural. There is always humor in life even if it is in the little things. This film was still more serious than many of the Marvel movies. It still had it’s light hearted parts and laughs naturally placed through out. The journey and self discovery that Diana goes through was enjoyable and very well executed. This is by far the best DCU film thus far. If DC continues down this path then we have a lot of good films to look forward to.

Ghost In The Shell (2017) Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell

Here’s some context for Ghost in the Shell. It’s based off the classic anime film in 1995 with the same name. It’s a landmark anime classic that became cyberpunk stable. The deep philosophical themes elevated it past a cartoon and into one of the most beloved sci-fi animated films ever made. I recently watched it for the first time several weeks ago to prepare for this movie. I can say that I became a fan and watched the second movie and a few episodes of Stand Alone Complex, the TV anime series. So how does Hollywood’s adaptation compare to one of the most important anime ever made?

Likes:

  1. Let’s first address the elephant in the room concerning this movie. It’s been given a lot of backlash from fans of the anime for its controversial casting of Scarlet Johansson as The Major, a Japanese character being played by a white actor. I can understand why many people are upset by this. It follows a trend in Hollywood movies that white actors are needed to promote a film and casting minorities into major roles is financial suicide. Even though there are several examples where this isn’t the case, it has been an issue in American films since forever. If you are a fan planning on boycotting this movie because of the casting, I will ask you to reconsider. Without getting into spoilers, this is actually addressed in the film and I personally think they handled it brilliantly. I really want to watch this movie again with some Asian friends of mine and have a discussion about how this film dealt with the white-washing and get their opinions on it. I plan on writing about this further in detail with spoilers included next week when I get to have this discussion. I don’t wish to have this get political but our mission here at GMF is to promote inclusiveness across the spectrum of Geek culture. I think racial inclusivity is very much a part of that. I think this discussion will be both interesting and important. So yes I recommend seeing this movie so you can prepare for that discussion as well.
  2. That said, I think Scarlett Johansson’s performance of the Major was very well done. She had the confidence in her abilities and intellect that made her a badass. At the same time she showed the lack of confidence in her humanity that drove her to get answers about her identity and purpose in life. Both features that are shown in the anime.
  3. The main reason why I went to see this movie is because of the production design and it does not disappoint. This is the anime in live action, the sets are both beautiful and disturbing as any good cyberpunk should be where ads are littered everywhere but sitting behind the flashy holograms is a society that is dirty.
  4. The supporting cast I believe were all true to the characters in the original anime as well espeically Batou and Aramaki (The Chief). Aramaki by the way is played by Japanese actor Takeshi Kitano, speaks japanese throughout the whole movie and like the anime, is a badass that doesn’t take crap from anyone. I loved that character and how he was played in this.
  5. The pacing on this movie was good, I was engaged throughout the whole movie.

Dislikes:

  1. This movie had a few things that didn’t make sense like why they designed an interrogation collar that made it possible to bring one’s own neck. Then there was a character action or something that didn’t make sense that I can’t remember. But overall its pretty nit-picky things.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 3/5

While the nudity was turned down considerably from the original to get the PG-13 rating, there are still plenty of spots where there is synthetic skin showing. Granted having an android body doesn’t include nipples, so it didn’t really count I guess? The cloaking suit The Major wears is skin tight but is covered. Overall it is actually tastefully done though. The violence is a bit harder than your typical PG-13 superhero movie but the blood which was in the trailer was cut out of the film. I would be interested to see if they release an R or Unrated Version down the line.

Overall:

The worst thing this movie could have been is boring, predictable and untrue to the source material. Fortunately none of these things are the case. As you can tell I actually loved this movie. I can’t say that it’s better than the original but it succeeded as an adaptation. I think a lot of critics are seeing this movie as a remake which is unfortunate. The philosophical themes of this movie on identity are different and unique to this version (which I will write about next week). So it doesn’t seek to imitate or replace the original but be its own unique version of the setting and characters of the beloved anime with an international lens. If you go into this movie with that mind set you will probably enjoy it. Again, if you are a fan that is boycotting for the whitewashing, do reconsider and check it out. You may be surprised with how smart this Hollywood blockbuster actually is.

Power Rangers Movie Review

Power Rangers

Better late than never? It’s been a busy weekend for all of us and we were finally able to get around to seeing Power Rangers. As a disclaimer, everyone here at Geek Mind Fusion were at the right age for the power rangers craze during the 90’s. So we naturally loved the show as kids, but how does the movie hold up? It is good, bad or are we blinded by nostalgia?

Likes:

Luke

  1. The bulk of the movie is about the kids becoming the power rangers. Normally I would rail on it by being filled with tropes and recycled story elements from movies like The Avengers and even The Breakfast Club. But for some reason it worked for me. Others I talked to about the movie felt that the first two acts were superior to the final act. Which you wouldn’t think is the case as the final act has all the action in it. But when your mom is able to remember the character’s names after the movie, you know you did the characterization right in this movie. Not at all what I was expecting from this movie.
  2. This isn’t saying much but this is definitely the best power rangers movie made yet.
  3. Suplexes and slapping.

Adam

  1. I liked how character development was the main focus of most of the movie. I had recently gone back and watched the first episode of the 1993 tv series and the story elements, and characters, were highly laking. I liked how we met these characters and got to the point where we were invested in them.
  2. The production value was pretty good especially when compared to the 1993 series and even the newer 2016 version. The suits and zords looked far more realistic than the toys they used for the tv series. The fighting at the end was so much better choreographed and there was more tension and peril.

Dislikes:

Luke

  1. While I was oddly engaged with the character development during the first and second act, the third act was fun but I think only for nostalgia. The tonal shift between the ending and the rest of the movie can be jarring. It’s like watching The Breakfast Club then having it turn into a Transformers movie during the last 30 minutes. While the ending is campy and true to the original show, the action is kinda boring except for the two moves listed in my number three likes. I found myself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, but I can’t stop and think of other movies that did the same thing better. The ending was just stopping the bad guy from getting the McGuffin at the product placement by using the power of teamwork and friendship. The Avengers did this better, and Pacific Rim had far-superior giant robot fights.
  2. (Spoilers) Krispy Kreme is the center of all life on Earth (this is figuratively true in this movie).

Adam

  1. Rita. Her premise at the beginning of the movie was ok  but she, overall was off. She was too much of a wild beast in the beginning and was fairly unpalatable.
  2. The bully who picked on Billy. I have had my share of bullies in the past but this guy was way to over the edge. I did enjoy what happened to him in the process of picking on Billy though.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 2/5

Luke:

Most of the movie is your standard-fare superhero movie stuff, with bloodless action and peril. However there are a few off-hand jokes involving masturbation and jerking off a bull. It’ll probably go over the kids’ heads, but for those of us who get it, it’ll come off as juvenile.

Adam:

I agree

Overall:

Luke

I went in expecting this movie to be terrible, with them trying to force in a serious and grounded origin to the campy power rangers. But that ended up being the best part of the movie. The action itself is boring and cliche. I can’t say that I loved or hated this movie, there were both good and bad found in this movie. I guess if you grew up on Power Rangers I would recommend it. I just found it strange that I came to watch the power rangers but I ended up staying for Jason, Billy, Zach, Kim and Trini.

Adam

I went to this movie after just watching the first episode of the 1993 tv series, which increased my appreciation of the movie. I did, however, destroy my nostalgia. I liked the movie overall, enjoyed the characters and their arcs. The production value was pretty good and had it’s funny moments. It doesn’t warrant a second theater viewing but was worth going to see at least once.

The Lego Batman Movie Review

The lego batman movie

This review is a bit late I’ll admit but I just saw it again for the second time and wanted to talk about it. There are a few pieces of evidence that suggest this movie takes place after and is tied to The Lego Movie, but it is mainly it’s own stand alone movie. Now we have the task of seeing how it holds up as a lego movie and also a Batman movie. Lets see how it does.

Likes:

  1. I enjoyed the humor a lot. This, like The Lego Movie, did not take it self seriously at all. The movie sets it self up with humor right in the beginning which sets your expectations right at the start. They refer to older Batman movies throughout and also reference many other pop culture figures. Plus the more you know about the various other characters in the movie the more funny references there are to catch.
  2. This is a great family movie. I love that my kids can come with me to this movie, laugh and have a enjoyable time, and I do the exact same thing. This movie was made well enough that while it is a kids movie there was still plenty to entertain me as well.
  3. It is neat how they are able to keep the world fairly true to how legos work. Aside from the characters who have some more freedom in their arms, every thing else works how legos would work. Certain things that would be a lot more dramatic in real life are less dramatic because the legos just click together.

Dislikes:

  1. My only real complaint is that the story is fairly predictable. I guessed the overall plot well ahead of time, I was not surprised by the twists, and foresaw the character arcs a very short time into the movie. Though considering this is a kids movie this is more forgivable.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 1/5

This is a kids movie. There is really nothing to worry about unless you have an older person walk in that never played with Legos. Then it is a little awkward just due to having to explain what legos are.

Overall:

I really enjoyed this movie because I went in to with the expectation to laugh and have fun. This is not a serious movie so it shouldn’t be looked at through serious lens. Batman is a different style than others which makes him interesting, unique, and great to watch. This is a movie to go to with your family and have a fun time together. Bring the kids in your life and have a good time.   

Movie Review – Logan (2017) *Spoiler Free*

Welcome to the GMF movie reviews! Here we’ll go and do some reviews for the geeky movies to come out during the year. Since we’re not registered film critics, we won’t be able to go to pre-screenings and get these reviews out the day it’s released. So you may have a wait a few days or so since we’re watching the movies the same time you are. So we’re going to try and do reviews a bit differently than others may do it. It’ll be in a list form for the likes and dislikes, sometimes it’ll be me solo and sometimes the others will chime in. Lastly I would like to make a meter for “awkward walk-ins moments.” What I mean by that is the moments when your S.O., parent, kids, grandma, etc walks into a movie at the most awkward time. Not only for inappropriate content but also for just other bizarre stuff you may find in a movie. I think some people might find that useful when planning to see a movie. So let’s get into the review of Logan!

Logan

Likes:

  1. A very emotionally charged movie. It’s rare for a movie like this to be as engaging on an emotional level like this. It’s a similar feeling after watching a deep character-driven drama (makes sense after figuring out that the director also made the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line). While this isn’t what you want for all movies, this was a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre. The Dark Knight was one of the only superhero movies that had a ending that was both inspirational and a bit depressing like Logan did. Coming to watch a typical X-men movie? This is not what you’re looking for.
  2. The acting was fantastic. Hugh Jackman truly nails the character of Wolverine in this movie. The creative freedom they had in this movie allowed Jackman to go to places emotionally that he wasn’t able to before. Patrick Stewart also does a great performance as Professor Xavier, which was very different from his other performances with the same character, but for the context of the story it made sense. You see them both given it their all for this movie.
  3. I could feel that the filmmakers and actors actually cared about making the best movie they could. I already mentioned the acting but even the director James Mangold had some energy put into the movie that was absent in The Wolverine. This maybe because Mangold had a lot more creative freedom than in The Wolverine which was an ok movie at best.
  4. While both previous Wolverine films had some major pacing issues, the pacing in this movie is spot on. It’ll give you breathing room when you need it. Then will crack up afterwards and keep your attention throughout the whole movie.
  5. Grounded superhero movie done right. Other X-men films struggled tonally cutting from flashbacks of Auschwitz to melodramatic comic book slock. This is not the case for this movie. It knows it’s a serious film, and it stays serious throughout.

Dislikes (or rather what others might dislike):

  1. There isn’t much exposition to explain why the world is the way that it is. Some of it is explained but it isn’t spelled out for you. So some of the backstory might be hard to follow. Also it does rely a bit on you understanding the X-men world. So if you’re brand new to X-men you may want to watch the original X-men movie first.
  2. The violence is up to 11 on this movie. THIS MOVIE IS RATED R FOR A REASON. The claws are used and depicted realistically in this film. Don’t pull a Deadpool and take your kids to this. This movie is not for them. There are plenty of ‘F’ bombs and ‘S’ bombs here too.
  3. My friends that came with me were emotionally overwhelmed after seeing this movie. It isn’t a fun movie to watch. This didn’t bother me as I was happy to actually feel something after a movie for a change. However it’s not really a positive emotion. If you go in expecting an emotional and darker movie, that is what you will get.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 4/5

While the movie lacks sexual content and suggestive costumes like the other X-Men movies, this movie is full of profanity, bloody gore and action. This is a hard R and is not for kids.

Overall:

Logan is a rare film, it’s a film where the studio took a chance and let the filmmakers make the movie they wanted to make. It’s hard to tell if it’ll pay off like Deadpool did but it did expand what can be done in the superhero genre. There have been dark superhero movies before but not to the level of being considered a heavy drama like Logan was. If you grew up with the X-men movies like I did, I think you can go in and appreciate the arc that was made for Wolverine. His solo movies have been duds up until now. Not only is this by far the best Wolverine movie, but it might be one of the best X-men movies yet.