Avengers: Endgame Review (Spoiler Free)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has spanned 11 years, starting with Ironman and built several billion dollar franchises as new movies have been released each year. All of these movies have accumulated into major crossover event films known as The Avengers. Endgame is the fourth and biggest of these Avenger films. After the major cliffhanger in last year’s Avengers: Infinity War, this movie seeks to conclude the Infinity War arc. Have the years of build up over a decade of films lead to an epic finale, or did it devolve into a convoluted mess?

The Good:

  1. Since the great “ah snap” moment from Infinity War, the cast was reduced significantly from the last film which actually worked to it’s benefit. My problem with the last movie was that there were too many people interacting on interacting plot points. Granted, Infinity War was more cohesive than it should have been; but this movie was a lot more focused and structured than the previous movie.
  2. Due to the focused narrative and structure, it doesn’t feel like a 3 hour long movie. I know many people worry when movies get that long, but it doesn’t feel it’s length.
  3. You get some great character interactions and solid jokes here and there. While the bulk of the main cast are OG avengers (Ironman, Captain America, Thor) you do get a few of the newcomers like Antman, Rocket and Nebula adding their own flair to the OG cast.
  4. Get ready for some major hype moments, the third act climax is easily the most epic sequence in any Marvel movie.
  5. I thought the conclusions of many of the character arcs developed over the past decade were quite satisfying. And no, I don’t count that as spoilers since “conclusions” is still ambiguous.

The Bad:

  1. Not all the characters were treated equally as there were one I felt may have regressed a bit (even though I understand why, it only feels like they haven’t learned anything in the past films).
  2. Due to the nature of the movie, there’s a lot that is open in the way of plot holes. It can’t be avoided though, they made a fine effort to plug in the holes that they could.

Awkward Walk-In Rating: 2/5

I would say that its a far darker film than we have seen before, especially the first act of the film. If you saw Infinity War you would know why. It also seemed to be much more violent then past Marvel films, with a bit more gratuitous details that might be pushing it for younger kids.

Overall:

Endgame is much better than Infinity War was. Due to aforementioned structure that the previous movie was lacking: it was easier to follow, everything flowed better and the cast had more time to develop their characters with a clear goal in mind. It isn’t a perfect movie but I am much more impressed with this film then I have been the other Avenger films. The first one is fun and novel as it was the first movie of its kind on that grand a scale. But I’m not as enamored to the other Avenger films. This one may be the best one overall though. But time will tell if this movie becomes a classic.

I tried to be as vague as possible to avoid any major spoilers. There is much more I could talk about. But as we are this close to opening, I won’t mention specifics. One spoiler that I will give you is this: there is no post credits sequence! Shocking I know, but I also saved you 7 minutes. You’re welcome.

Dragonball Super: Broly Review

Re-imagined Broly, not only more powerful but more interesting

It’s the first proper movie review of 2019, and it’s not even Glass! Instead it’s a movie that I have more hype for than Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: Episode 9 combined. Yes, a Dragonball Super movie of all things. Let it be known I’ve been on a Dragonball kick since late 2017, having watched Dragonball Super, Dragonball Z and Dragonball series since that time. I’m still trying to figure out why I’ve been drawn to it so strongly recently. It might warrant a future blog post.

Anyways, for those of you not familiar with Dragonball, Broly is a movie antagonist that has existed in a semi-canonical state. He is pretty much the DB equivalent of the Hulk and has been a fan-favorite since his first movie. Even though in my opinion, the original Broly movies are not very good. However, this movie marks his first appearance as approved canon with series creator Akira Toriyama writing the movie. Can Toriyama flesh out the classic yet blandly characterized antagonist?

The good:

  1. Easily the best animation in a Dragonball film ever. This film was absolutely stunning with some of the coolest looking power ups and fights in the entire series. Many people have criticized the animation quality of the recent series (Super) and rightfully so. But this movie is the best the series has ever looked.
  2. The film adds a lot of back story to the destruction of the Planet Vegeta, home of the Saiyan race which our main characters come from. Many were worried about the changes that were going to be made, but I felt that the story in the movie is still very much in line with the series. I thought it was fascinating to see that story unfold in a new way.
  3. In the previous movies Broly was nothing more than a meathead with absurd power and anger issues. While I can’t say that the new iteration of Broly is deep or complex, there is something more to him this time around. His motivations are understandable and there is enough humanity in his character to make him likable.
  4. The movie is quite funny at some spots, with some great character moments including Frieza, Vegeta and Bulma. Let’s just say that you won’t expect why the Dragonballs are being gathered this time.
  5. I toughed on the story in several of my points, overall the plot is definitely better than your average Dragonball movie. Motivations are clear, characters act as they should, and it was just fun.

The Bad:

  1. The structure is a bit weird in this movie. This is a minor nitpick mind you. This is very common for Dragonball movies, since the focus is often the fight with the bad guy, the third act is much longer than normal.
  2. A lot of characters are no shows this go around. Again, a minor nitpick, but the focus of this plot is on the Saiyan characters and Frieza. So anyone who isn’t involved was cut out. So favorites like Gohan and Krillin are no where in the movie.
  3. This movie takes place after the tournament of power arc in Dragonball Super, so people who aren’t up-to-date on Dragonball might be a bit confused.

Awkward Walk-In meter:

Other than the fact that people might be weirded out by a bunch of dudes screaming at each other, there’s nothing too graphic or offensive with this movie. One of the Frieza Force soldiers does offer some minor “fan service,” but isn’t explicit enough to get anyone in trouble. This movie was rated PG, mostly for violence. (2/5)

Overall Thoughts:

The Dragonball movies have been fairly “meh” for the most part. However the last three entries have actually felt like actual movies instead of direct-to-tv specials. This one is definitely high up on the top tier Dragonball movies. But is it a good movie in general? There’s a few things that holds it back, namely it is made and directed for Dragonball fans. If you are new to the series, there’s a large learning curve to truly appreciate the movie.

If you are a fan of Dragonball, then you really ought to watch it. I watched it very recently so I’m still high off the hype. Time will tell if the movie holds up (For example: The Last Jedi wouldn’t have made the top 10 of 2017 if I did that list now). But I have a feeling that this will go down as one of, if not, the best Dragonball movie thus far.

Luke’s Top 10 Movies of 2018

It’s the start of a new year! Last year was not as strong as 2017, with Logan and Blade Runner 2049 not only making the top of the 2017 but on the top of my all time favorites. This year didn’t have anything as strong as those movies were. However there are a couple of contenders last year that are worth watching none-the-less.

This should go without saying but there are several movies that I’m sure are good that I wasn’t able to watch. Last year as a busy one for me and that affected my theater attendance as well. So Bumblebee, Wreck-It Ralph 2, The Grinch and several others won’t make the list. If there are movies that aren’t on the list that you want to recommend, tweet me @DarthLaric and I’ll try to catch them. Here it goes!

10: Avengers: Infinity War

I had a hard time figuring out my number ten, partly because there were a bunch of movies that were ok but not top ten material. This movie is on the border for me. It was certainly entertaining with the production value you’d expect from the tentpole movie of the year. But I have a hard time loving the Avengers sequels. They tend to get too bloated and ambitious. The first one was novel as it was the first of its kind, but they all lack the strong characterization you get from the standalone films. While I do admit that I am very fond of Civil War, which is Avengers 2.5, that film did have a lot of things going for it other than spectacle. Infinity War is nothing but spectacle.

I will give credit where it’s due though, this movie should have been a much bigger mess than it was. It was messy but I wasn’t as bad as it should have been. The reason why I have this on number ten is the reaction the audience gave to the ending. I haven’t seen anything like it. For that, it does get respect from me. It’s a decent movie, but only lands on number 10 for me.

9. Solo: A Star Wars Story

I’m willing to admit my fatigue for Star Wars right now. The Last Jedi was a major disappointment to say the least. But what happened to Solo wasn’t deserved. It is one the best Disney Star Wars films. I went in expecting it to be a disaster but it kind of won me over. It’s not without its flaws, the cinematography is pretty ugly at parts and the stupid Darth Maul cameo was so jarring and out of place. Only people who have watched The Clone Wars and Rebels will have any understanding as to why he’s in there. Still the characters were well played and Han and Chewy make a great duo.

8. Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Go back to my mini review for my primary thoughts on this movie. It may not be a Miyazaki film, but it is the closest thing we have gotten since The Wind Rises. Gorgeous film with a bit of heart.

7. Aquaman

Yeah, yeah, of course the DC fanboy gives love to the Justice League’s running gag. Still, this movie has the lowest second weekend drop out of all the DC extended universe films (even Wonder Woman), is approaching a billion dollars worldwide and is performing very well despite competition with heavy hitters like Mary Poppins Returns and Bubblebee. This movie is not the failure people have come to expect from the DC films. In fact, I am quite fond of this movie. I’ve been thinking and studying heavily on archetypes, and this movie did those archetypes quite well. But the movie isn’t without its flaws, I pointed them out in my mini reviews. Still, it’s safe to say that this is the second best DC movie to come out next to Wonder Woman. It’s certainly better than Thor (shots have been fired).

6. Black Panther

What can I say? Black Panther is a cool hero with a good story and an excellent villain. But since everyone saw this movie, I don’t think I need to say more than that.

5. Mary Poppins Returns

It’s kinda nice that musicals are making a comeback. It seems like since Les Miserables, there has been a musical film out every year during the Holidays. I don’t mind this new trend, as La La Land was quite a charming movie. Mary Poppins Returns is also a very charming film with excellent set pieces and songs. Emily Blunt does a very solid Mary Poppins as well.

4. Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

Another Sony surprise (they also co-produced Blade Runner 2049), this animated take on Marvel’s favorite hero has been said to be the best rendition of the web slinger on the big screen. I don’t know if I can say that as Homecoming as also a very solid movie. Still, a unique take on Spiderman with the humor. charm and action you expect from a Spiderman film.

3. Incredibles 2

Just barely beating out Spiderman as my top computer-animated movie, this one only gets higher because its a bit more philosophically sophisticated than Spiderman was. This one deals on the surface about the responsibility of fatherhood, but deeper it goes into the power of media on influencing others. Something I’m obviously very interested in.

2. Isle of Dogs

Ok here’s the top animated movie of the year. I have a soft spot for stop-motion animation, because one there’s a certain organic feel that you don’t get with computer animated films, and secondly it’s super hard and time consuming. Add to the fact that this is Wes Anderson’s love letter to Japanese cinema, you can bet that I’m totally in.

1. The Death of Stalin

Why do we go to see movies? When we go to the theater to see a movie, what is the expectation? Many of you might say that it depends on the movie. That is certainly true, but I would have to say that we go to the films to feel something. What that feeling is depends on the type of movie it is. We want to feel thrills, we go to action films. If we want to feel intimacy, we see a romance. We want to laugh, we go to a comedy.

The Death of Stalin is one of the funniest movies I have ever watched. I must preface that the humor in this film isn’t for everyone. I admittedly can have a very dark sense of humor. If, like me, you like dark humor and irony, this is the movie for you. So this film made me laugh, that fulfills it’s purpose as a comedy, but what elevates this movie (and other great films) further is that it adds something more.

With this film, it was exploring the minds of the leadership of the most brutal and oppressive government of the twentieth century, and exposing the source of its corruption. That source was the fact that everyone lied. The psychological exploration feed into the ironic humor seamlessly as the humor came from people acting contradictory to what they believed. This is also keeping with the observations made by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the great soviet writer and Gulag survivor. To recapitulate, this movie is both hilarious, smart and my favorite movie of the year.

2018 Year in Reviews (Part 5)

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

I had a couple of doubts going into this movie. The art style looked too extreme, the frame-rate looked terrible and wasn’t sure how well Sony could handle a solo Spiderman venture. My doubts were not an issue at all. The film was terrific. The art style brought out a unique comic book look, the animation was top notch and the story didn’t suck! Sony was able to make a good Spiderman movie, thank goodness! It’s too soon to tell exactly where it falls in relation to other Spiderman films, but it is one of the best ones easily.

Aquaman

The reviews for Aquaman has been fairly mixed. Many agree that it was one of the better DC movies as of late but not quite to the level of Wonder Woman. I agree to that point but I must say that I rather liked this movie. The special effects were top notch, and the story although not super original, did tell the reluctant king story better than many other movies, including Thor. The archetypes were correctly implemented in this story and because of that, it ringed true to me. Not a perfect movie though, Ocean Master was a rather bland villain (Black Manta was much more interesting). Still, much better of a movie than anyone would expect from Aquaman.

Mary Poppins Returns

I must admit that it’s been a very long time since watching the original. The original wasn’t ever my favorite growing up, something about it didn’t click with me. That might change with a viewing with modern eyes, I can say that the new Mary Poppins was “practically perfect in every way.” While that might be said with some hyperbole, this movie knew of the legacy it followed and kept true to the spirit of the original. This is full-on musical and it was a good one too. The songs were catchy and meaningful, the set pieces were creative and expertly executed and the story was heart-warming. The actors sung very well, with Emily Blunt as a convincing Mary Poppins. Nothing really negative about this one, come watch it to help you feel like a child again.

Crazy Rich Asians

Another movie I saw outside the theater. It seems to be a huge hit for many people. I liked it for the most part, with some interesting characters, emotion and a glamorous look at the life of upper-class Singapore. I generally don’t care for romantic comedies, but it has the same charm that was shown in a movie like My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Those are the movies that I got to watch this year. I don’t know if I can get another one in today but this is it for now. I do plan on posting my top 10 sometime soon. See you then and Happy New Year!

2018 Year in Reviews (Part 4)

Venom

Venom feels like a movie that was released in the 2000’s, pre-Batman Begins. It was tonally all over the place with a dark carnivorous parasite that takes over hosts that would crack corny one-liners in a brutal fight scene. I can’t really say that this is a good movie, but it is an anomaly from a bygone era when superhero movies weren’t taken seriously. There’s a certain charm about that. Tom Hardy knew the time of movie he was in and acted accordingly. This isn’t the edgey hard R Venom movie that people were expecting, it feels like an reboot to Spiderman 3’s least interesting villain, and more in the same vein as Sam Raimi’s movie than anything else that has come out. Overall it is a dumb bromantic comedy that does a better good bad movie than Jurassic World 2 did.

Peter Rabbit

I didn’t see this in theaters, my niece made me watch this. But was a charming little movie. I got invested into the story, the animal animation was solid and has a couple good laughs. It’s a good family comedy devoid of cynicism and forced pop-culture jokes. For that reason, it has a much better chance of becoming timeless than other kid movie offerings.

Fantastic Beasts 2

I’m sorry I’m not going to type out the whole title. I can’t say that I loved the Fantastic beast movie like I did the Harry Potter movies, but it was still pretty good with some legitimate plot twists that made the film more than just a cash grab. The pulled off the plot twist perfectly in the first one as after being revealed, the plot made more sense and it was more illuminating than confusing. I can’t say the same for the Fantastic Beasts, the plot twist in there just left us all with more questions. I like the fact that the first one didn’t have to rely on a cliff hanger but rather a loose end that could evolve to something big. Still I didn’t hate this movie, it was exciting at times, and had some really dark moments that took a lot of guts to put into a Potterverse blockbuster.

2018 Year in Reviews (Part 3)

Incredibles 2

The long awaited sequel to one of the best Pixar films to date has a high bar to climb. Is it a worthy sequel? I think it is, I can’t say it’ll have the same impact that the first one had, but the movie was fun, funny and has some depth to it. The antagonist in this movie is one that I love, because one: I’m a video technician and second, how media influences our psychology is something I want to study in the future. Plus the monologue sounded like Baudrillard which is also a big plus for me.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I had my issues with the first one but even I admit that it was a fun and entertaining movie (the ending alone is worth it). With Jurassic World being the biggest movie of 2015 (until Star Wars VII), there was some high expectations for the follow up. Did it pull a Lost World? Yes it did, the story beats and structure were very similar for one, but overall the movie lacked the charm and magic the first movie had. The movie eventually devolves into a Resident Evil story with the cheese included. While it could be considered a “good bad” movie for it’s cheesy moments, it’s more boring than fun overall. They should call the next one Dino Crisis.

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The mission impossible movies have been a solid franchise that has lasted longer than it should. Fallout has kept the standards of the franchise with solid action and set pieces, rubber masks surprise reveals and ticking time bombs. However, this one felt samey to the last one, with the same director and much of the same cast as the last one. They all have a shared continuity, but each movie has a different flavor that made each movie unique. This one felt the most like a direct sequel. However, I think this one is more memorable and fun than the last one was, so it may be sequel but it is a good sequel at least.


2018 Year in Reviews (Part 2)

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

When animation master Hayao Miyasaki “””””””officially”””””” (enough air quotes?) retired after The Wind Rises (Air quotes because he’s developing another movie right now), the future of Studio Ghibli dramatically shifted. I’m unsure about Miyasaki’s next movie, but the decision was made to stop animating original movies in house. Instead Ghibli would be a producer and distributor of other animated films like last years excellent The Red Turtle. So now you have a bunch of the best animators in Japan without a studio. So they created their own, Studio Ponoc, and this is their first feature film. As you can imagine, the animation on this movie is spectacular. It definitely is imaginative but I don’t think the story is as strong as Mayazaki’s works. Still that’s a fairly high benchmark to make, and it’s a charming and beautiful movie nonetheless. If you need a Ghibli fix, Studio Ponoc’s movie is the best thing you can find right now.

Death of Stalin

This movie isn’t for everyone. It is really dark, violent, and yet was one of the funniest movies I’ve ever watched. The movie takes place at the end of Stalin’s reign in Soviet Russia and the succession crisis that preceded his death. Something like this would normally be done in a serious oscar-bait drama. But instead, they turned the death of one of the most ruthless and evil dictators of the 20th century into a comedic farce. This adds a sweetness to the otherwise acerbic subject matter. I cannot recommend it to everyone, but anyone who enjoys dark humor, witty dialogue and irony should really check it out.

Deadpool 2

I didn’t catch the PG-13 re-release so this is based off of the R version. The production value went way up for this one and played out more like a typical superhero movie. For better or for worse, this one feels much more mainstream and dare I say less raunchy than the last one. But there are plenty of gorey bits and F-bombs to maintain an adult rating. I didn’t have any many issues with this one but I didn’t laugh as much with this movie than the last one. It has a much better story than the first one but the first one felt more rebellious and underground. Deadpool was a major risk and that’s what I respected about it, this one felt more safe. Again not a bad movie, but may not have the lasting impact that the first one does.


2018 Year in Reviews (Part 1)

So I’m going to post up a couple of mini reviews in chunks. That way I don’t have you reading a novel all in one day but enjoy a small bite size review every couple of days. I’ll start with early 2018 movies first, I don’t promise that they are in chronological order though (or for the rest of the reviews for that matter). Also, I will probably have to wait until the beginning of next year to do a top ten list since there are 3 big movies coming out all on Friday. And I am still very much behind on everything.

Black Panther

Adam already did a review on this movie, but here’s my thoughts on the movie. I liked it, and set the precedent for great Marvel movie villains. In fact, it’s one of two Marvel movies that has a great antagonist (usually a weaker point for Marvel). The thing that I think will bog down this movie is the politics that people have tried to push on it. Take that away, this movie is one of the best that Marvel has put out.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

The first movie was what a dumb giant robot/monster movie would be like if made by a good director. It doesn’t take itself seriously but it has more depth than your average popcorn movie. But overall it was just a lot of fun, the main characters were fairly bland but more than makes up for it for excellent giant robot fights. This movie is what it would have been if Del Toro didn’t make it. This time though it’s the reverse with John Boyega being the more charismatic with the support characters being completely boring and forgettable. The fight scenes are alright I guess, I just don’t remember too much from this movie.

Isle of Dogs

Finally a movie that I don’t feel “meh” about. I’m not a huge Wes Anderson fan, I know him more for the stop motion he made like Fantastic Mr Fox and Isle of Dogs. This movie is his love letter to Japanese cinema, and added to the fact that I love Japanese cinema, I was completely on board with this. The movie is charming, inventive and has a stellar voice cast of top Hollywood actors as the dogs and Japanese actors by the humans. One of the best films of the year!


The Silence Breaks

Hi everyone! I know there has been radio silence for the past 5 or so months. We’ve been taking a much-needed hiatus from podcasts and movie reviews. I’ve just submitted my application to Graduate School and Adam has a new baby around. So we’ve been super busy taking care of personal things during our time off. I am not at liberty to talk about when Season 2 of the podcast will drop but we’ll be making plans for that soon. But it was time for the silence to break.

The main reason for posting this is to announce since I’ve been slacking on movie reviews this year, I’m going to be doing them all at the end of the year. This will be mini reviews so not super structured or anything and because they decided to dump a bunch of movies at the very end of the year, I won’t be able to do a top 10 list like I normally do. That will probably have to wait until next year. Also the reviews will be exclusive for this website. I’ve been cutting out Facebook so I’m not going to be posting on there anymore. So return here during the next couple weeks and we’ll probably have some new stuff for you!

I also wanted to take some time and talk about what I plan on doing next year. I’m not going back for another semester next year as I only went back to help with my application and want to save money. So I’ll have a lot more free time to write articles and reviews. But I want to do more than just reviews. Going back to school has reminded me how much I enjoy learning and writing. So even though I’m not in school, I want to use to this space to explore the research and other learning I plan on doing next year to prepare for Graduate School (acceptance pending). So I’m going to be posting on psychology, pop culture, film and video games. Figure this isn’t a stretch for a website whose logo is literally a brain with nerd goggles. 

Happy Holidays everyone, and stay tuned for movie reviews!

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.