Watched, Read Loved and what I’ve been up to in 2018

Hello everybody! I’ve been rather inconspicuous the last few months, and I’ve really missed blogging and interacting with everyone in the blogging world. I’ve posted a few times, and thanks to everyone that still popped in – you are appreciated! I’m almost ready in having a normalized life again, so I plan to be a bit more active with reading and posting about how I’ve managed to entertain myself since December 2017.

Firstly, I started my new position in the company I work for. It’s been quite a change, and I’ve been struggling to adapt to this new life of crazy deadlines and people with serious lack of work ethic. I’m almost motivated again, and I’m not blind to how extraordinarily lucky I’ve been to get to a point where my qualification and my job are actually aligned.

I’ve also graduated, and the event was… anticlimactic? I’ve worked my butt off to get here, and yet the day felt rushed and the moment passed too quick. However, my BSc is now in the bag and I can continue with this crazy career path of mine.

I am also finally in my own apartment. I hope someday soon it will actually feel like I live here, but for now I am just enjoying the experience and getting used to having my own place.

So yes. This year has been really big so far. We are only at the end of August now and I have been all over the place. It is good, right? To be honest it is all just a bit overwhelming.

This post has basically said nothing that I originally thought to write on it, but here’s a rundown of the films (it’s probably not all, because it has been so long), books and series I’ve explored.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies – One movie night and three really dedicated people lead to all three Hobbit movies being watched, with a variety of sarcastic comments (mostly from me) about the length and things that happen that is entirely unrelated to the actual Hobbit book. I haven’t  had a look at the reviews about these films up here for ages, and it is probably time to revisit them. They aren’t bad, but compared to The Lord of The Rings trilogy (incidentally never reviewed on here because I don’t know how to review perfection like that), they are a bit uninspiring.

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Edward Scissorhands (1990): A pretty cool film and very deserving of its reputation, I enjoyed seeing Johnny Depp in something pre-Jack Sparrow. This is some of Tim Burton’s best work and really great to watch.

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The Duff (2015): Yes, again. It’s great to watch and such a nice laugh, I can’t understand why this film received such a negative backlash at the time. It’s certainly better than it’s hormonal book counterpart! This reminds me of a 2015 version of Mean Girls (although Mean Girls is certainly better), and on that note, I probably watched Mean Girls sometime this year too, as well as Easy A, a simply hilarious staple for chick flicks.

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Pride and Prejudice (2005): Yes, also again. I can watch this all the time, and this rerun was triggered by reading the book again.

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Vampire Academy (2015) Okay this one does deserve the hate that gets thrown its way, but it is a guilty pleasure of mine.

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Jane Eyre (2011): I loooooovvveeeedddd this. It is a wonderfully accurate adaption to the book, and another film I’ll probably end up watching ten million times.

Ant-Man (2015): I somehow kept postponing this film, and it is so stupid because you all know how much I like watching Marvel superheroes do their thing. Eventually Ant-Man turned out really fun and is a great film, and I will actually manage to see the second one before the turn of the century.

Nacho Libre (2006) and Napoleon Dynamite (2004). I can at least claimed to have heard about Napoleon Dynamite prior to my watching it. The spectacularly ginger teenager Napoleon is really a staple image in everyone’s recollection of the internet, occupying his own, very unique space. It was really quite a weird film and I am not sure what else to say about it. Nacho Libre is also… really weird. Jack Black has some strange titles under his belt, and this might bee the strangest yet.

Jumanji (2017) – Jumanji deserves an actual review, not necessarily because of it’s cinematic prowess but because of my eternal love for Dwayne Johnson. This film was surprisingly good, and included another viewing of Jack Black, who was actually quite fantastic in this film.

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Fallen (2016) – Got in my YA dose with this, and I am not sorry for a second. Is it bad? yes. Do I care? No. I had fun.

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About a Boy (2002) – one of the better random films I picked up to watch the last couple of months. Review coming soon

Tomorrowland (2014), Freaky Friday (2003) and Did you hear about the Morgans? (2009) – neither of these deserves posters on this post. Tomorrowland is getting a thrashing in it’s review (when I end up writing it), because what a load of turd. Freaky Friday is fun, but it also serves as a really sad reminder of how someone can screw themselves up so badly. The last, Did you hear about the Morgans, is neither inspirational, funny or adventurous, and is some of the poorest films in it’s genre.

 

Blindspots: I’m behind (which is a shocking surprise, I know)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Ghostbusters (1984), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  (2005), Die Hard (1988)

2018 releases:

Avengers: Infinity War Tomb Raider Black PantherThe Maze Runner: Death CureThe Greatest Showman, Jurassic World (Fallen Kingdom), Deadpool 2

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The Obsession (Nora Roberts)Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), Harry Potter (series), The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams), How To Hang A Witch (Adriana Mather), Shelter in Place (Nora Roberts, ongoing), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

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I am really bad at finishing series. I will start off with great enthusiasm, but I never have the patience to get through the lull that inevitably strikes every show about halfway through when the original cast wants to leave and the writers are tired of finding something interesting to keep the watchers entertained. I was recommended to watch Call The Midwife Seasons 1&2 because of my love for Downton Abbey. It’s good, and I enjoy the show. I should continue into Season 3 soon and continue with my knowledge of female reproductive health when women had even less rights than we do now.

Friends Season 1-7: A series I actually finished! I loved this show. It is hilarious, and even though there are some lulls it stays funny, sweet and relatable.

Brooklyn Nine Nine Season 1 – this is a hilarious comedy and I will definitely watch some more. I was a bit crushed when they announced the series was coming to an end, but I see that there will be a final season of Jack Peralta and his fellow officers. Yay!

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Riverdale Season 1&2 – I have a review coming in shortly for season 2, and I really like this show despite the lack of quality the last part of season 2 had.

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Grey’s Anatomy Seasons 1 – 7: As I am finalizing this post I come to you from a space where I have now banned myself watching this show during the week. There are a couple of reasons why – the lack of will to live if I am not watching it, the extreme emotional attachment to the characters and the stern talking to I had with myself that they are not real and that I can’t stop watching at night and then I am exhausted the following day (really, I need a boyfriend or a life at this stage). I couldn’t have expected this show would be so good. I mean, at seven seasons I am only halfway through the series, because the show remains super popular and it is now at it’s fifteenth (?!) season. It is heartbreaking and intense and happy and sad, and I.AM.ADDICTED.

Pride and Prejudice (1995): I am telling all of you, I know I have an unhealthy attachment to this story. The series is by far the most accurate to the book, and it is a lovely adaption that makes me really happy to watch.

So, there you have it. I have been writing on and off on this post for ages, so it is so good to have it finally out there! Let me know what you’ve seen, whether or not it has correlated with my watches. Adios!

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Movie Review: Ant-Man (2015)

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Plot: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Ant Man is really the only Marvel film I haven’t specifically gone to see in cinema in the last five years. I finally sat down to watch it a while ago, and it halfway confirmed my suspicion that a movie about a superhero the size of an ant would be silly, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t end up enjoying myself quite a lot.

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Anyone who has ever seen Clueless will tell you that Paul Rudd is the most adorable person to have ever person’d (not a word, but going with it). He also hasn’t aged in the 23 years since Clueless and looks exactly the same, adorable person he was back then (although with a lack of photographic evidence I can’t really comment on whether he was as ripped back then). He takes on a big role and sort of becomes an Avenger as Scott Lang, an engineer who has some bad taste in friends, and is recruited for a big role when he steps out of prison.

Joining the Ant Man cast is Evangeline Lilly, as Hope, the daughter of inventor-technology-extraordinaire Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Hope is smart and successful and plays a double agent between her father and the rapidly mentally deteriorating ex-protégée of Hank and current evil person and CEO of Hank’s brainchild company Pym Technologies, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). She’s also love interest of Scott Lang, because plot reasons, and she’s also not allowed to put on the suit – initially I was like poor move Marvel, not allowing her to put on the suit because of her lady parts, but the movie does try to explain it as daddy has lost mommy this way and can’t lose his daughter this way too (I’m not convinced, but at least the sequel is titled “Ant-Man and the Wasp”, where Hope becomes the Wasp. Hope is great, looking amazing in her black suits and amazing hairstyle and kicking ass while being a central part of the plot. I also really enjoyed Michael Douglas, it is good seeing him look so well after his cancer diagnosis a few years back, and he adds gravity to the movie and manages to deliver some snide remarks and sarcastic comments while he’s at it.

One of the best things about Ant-Man is Michael Pena’s performance as Luis, Scott’s former cellmate and criminally-inclined-but-still-cool-person. Not really sure why Marvel would want to tap into the stereotype of Mexican criminals, but Pena manages to make his character a hit and especially hits it off with his amazing storytelling skills.

I also enjoyed seeing Judy Greer again, she’s great and as always after seeing her in something, I wish I could see her become a leading lady in a film. She’s been in Hollywood for ages and yet has never been the sole focus of a film, which is a shame in my opinion. I liked how she wasn’t portrayed as the villainous ex-wife of Scott, but rather a mother and an ex-partner who would be open to allowing more visitation rights to the seriously cute Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) once Scott sorts himself out.

I enjoyed Corey Stoll as the villain, but I really wish there were just a bit more depth to the backstory and more explanations why he lost the plot quite so badly and turned from protégée to “I want to kill everyone” type of person. He quickly becomes the madman, and I don’t always understand why.

I also suffered some confusion, and would advise people to watch Marvel films in the order they come out in, because I got the events quite mixed up in my head at a stage.

Ant-Man had a lot of good things going for it, and it is as warm hearted as a Marvel superhero movie can and will get. I missed out on Ant-Man and The Wasp in cinema (cry cry cry) but will definitely watch it when I can. I hope that Hope gets her chance to kick some ass and become part of Luis’ excellent storytelling skills.

Rating: 7.5/10

Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Spoiler free –

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Plot: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

Well. I knew I had to get to cinema to watch Infinity War immediately after its release or else risk this film being spoiled by the internet for me. We’ve been waiting ages since the slightly lacklustre Age of Ultron for another instalment of the all powerful Marvel ensemble cast to once again fight some massive celestial being. Finally reunited, the Avengers and all their new superhero friends are forced to take on Thanos, the biggest and baddest of them all, who is also in running for the worst dad of all time to Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin), is collecting the Infinity Stones, very powerful stones (obviously), and you don’t need a comic book background to know that it will be really bad when this genocidal maniac gets hold of all six stones. It’s no spoiler that some of the stones are in the possession of a few Avengers, and they do an ultimately dismal job in protecting them. You will have to watch it if you want to know what happens at the end, but it was neither comfortable nor a quietly satisfying end.

Infinity War takes an age to get their superheroes together, which is not surprising, since they decided to include a massive amount of their star power in the film. Since Age of Ultron the original Avengers have scattered and hidden, and they aren’t all super happy with each other. Tony (Robert Downey Jnr.) is still happy by being managed by Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is still dealing with the devastating destruction that happened in Thor: Ragnarok. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson, this time blonde), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, with deliciously longer hair) and Sam Wilson (Anthonie Mackie) are still (I think) in hiding. They all fall in at different stages of the film, and my sold out cinema was cheering as each original Avengers cast member was reintroduced.

It’s impossible to write a short and concise review of the movie and to discuss the stars, because (nearly) the entire Marvel universe is in the film. However, here are a few thoughts on some of the characters:

Vision (Paul Bettany) comes across as awfully wimpy and I don’t know how he was intended as a superhero in this film. He seems to just be there, and his moments of action aren’t all that action packed.

If I could have had more of Danai Gurira as Okoye I would have, because she just has the best attitude and lines. Also good seeing T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), but after the enormous success of Black Panther I would have loved to see more of the man.

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It is the first film where the Three Chris-es are combined – Pratt, Evans and Hemsworth have so much charm between them it is a wonder that they aren’t combined an Infinity stone themselves. There is delightful moments full of humour when Starlord meets Thor and needs to deal with all that muscle. I’ll just say that there is a moment when Thor arrives that made me very, very thankful.

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Thanos has character depth, and that is something that hasn’t always been present with Marvel villains. He has layers and there are times when he actually almost makes sense, his reasoning behind his warlord status. There were a few moments where I legitimately felt sorry for him, and then had to remember what he had done.

I have some issues with the ending (really, who doesn’t at this stage?). I don’t want to say too much, but I really hope that they are planning to address some… events… in the next Infinity War instalment (there better be one), because they can not just do what they did. I am REALLY excited for the post credits scene, and I am optimistic that that will mean something overall for the drama levels in the last ten minutes of the film.

I liked Infinity War, except that ending. Thee CGI is insane and everywhere again, and that as well comes as no surprise – I mean, Josh Brolin doesn’t really look like that, does he now? It is really long, again though, expected, and full of emotional upheaval. If you haven’t watched it yet and you really dislike spoilers, I suggest getting to a cinema soon. It’s a bit off the normal route for Marvel, and they’ve taken big risks, but if you look at the crowd response rate you can rest assured that Marvel has another hit on their hands.

Rating: 7/10

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Movie Review: Black Panther (2018)

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Plot: T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

I remember sitting down to watch Wonder Woman last year – the nerves and anticipation and hope that a film about my kind finally being a superhero would be great. How fantastic was the notion that someone like me could change the world? How empowering it was! As I watched Diana Prince ignore male orders and march onto a battlefield because her heart dictated her to,  and I finally felt vindicated for having my own share of protectiveness towards those I hold dear.

And finally, in 2018, we have come to a place where black people can finally celebrate the same feat. Black Panther is fantastic. I am not black, but I am South-African, and sitting in the cinema with black people and feeling their joy with this film was uplifting and very emotional. T’Challa isn’t a sidekick, he isn’t the bad guy, he is a man of royal blood. He doesn’t have to find his riches, he is rich. Wakanda is, as some have rightly said, both a view of how Africa might have been without colonialism and a celebration of retaining your culture will thriving in a modern technological world. Black Panther does not skirt around issues, it faces it head on. Slavery and the destruction of a continent is frequently referenced, as well as the deeply moral question of why Wakanda did not intervene to help their neighbors when they had unlimited power to do so. Well, to me Wakanda had the correct intuition, and I can only wish the entire continent could have seen the danger and protected itself against pillaging.

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Chadwick Boseman is an exceptional Black Panther. T’Challa is a good mix of culture, regal blood, love, humor, wisdom, kindness and some fantastic fighting skills. He was born to be King, and his nature dictates him to be a kind and just one for his people. Other tribe leaders, especially W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya’s, in wonderful South-African traditional clothes), Mbaku (Winston Duke) have issues with some of his choices, and this especially creates discord between W’Kabi and T’Challa when T’Challa fails to bring Klaue (truly excellent Andy Serkis) to Wakanda to account for his crimes against the Wakandan people.

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Michael B. Jordan impressed me immensely. I haven’t seen too much from him, and I really did not know how excellent an actor he is. As Erik Stevens the warmonger and the thorn in T’Challa’s side, he is both heart breaking and terrifying. He would have been like T’Challa if a great crime hadn’t been committed against him, and his crimes are heinous enough to have you wince but his memories are painful enough to make you weep for him. He was a strong villain, perhaps one of the stronger ones in Marvel, and I really enjoyed him.

There is a lot of humor too, especially delivered by Shuri (Letitia Wight). The movie has genuinely funny moments and the audience was in stitches as it found its crowd. Even Mbaku has some funny moments, and his humor mixes surprisingly well with his warrior attitude.

It would be very unfair to not mention the outstanding female cast as well. Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are fierce female warriors, sworn to protect Wakanda. They have great moments together, and their chase through South Korea is especially fine to watch. Shuri is a smart and sassy young woman, and she is a technological spearhead for Wakanda, highlighting the importance of girls in technology in style. Angela Basset as the Queen Mother is regal and beautiful, and her care for her children and nation are evident to see.

South Africa had a phenomenal week last week. The fall of the Gupta empire and Jacob Zuma, the rise of Cyril Ramaphosa and the first SONA in years that didn’t result in a screaming match made South-Africans happier than I’ve seen them in a decade. The optimism in the streets could only be even more enhanced by seeing South-African faces in this film, South-African traditional wear and Xhosa being used as the Wakandan language.

I was worried that Black Panther wouldn’t be good – I really wanted it to be, if only to prove to the butthead racists on the internet that inclusion is necessary and can yield as good results as the standard white washed, male domineered films we generally get. Black Panther is GREAT, and is an excellent start to the superhero year. The cast and director and Marvel should all be congratulated for their excellent work in this film – it is something to be proud of!

Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

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Plot: Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

*Contains minor spoilers*

How is it possible that it has been 5 years since The Avengers? It seems like only yesterday. At the time it was one of the coolest and most interesting action hero films I’ve ever seen, and created an avalanche of Marvel-watching for yours truly. And it was great for its’ time – Joss Whedon did a fantastic job, even though it was a large CGI feast and if you hadn’t watched previous MCU films, well, sorry for you because that story would have made no sense at all. Since then we’ve been exposed to the good and the bad of superheroes, often with directors resigning in protest against MCU’s heavy handed control. There has been unfortunate mishaps (in particular, The Dark World was really just crap), and Marvel started to have a tired, repetitive tone to all their films. It was all good to look at, but man, it was all the same. Marvel Studios and DC Comics recognized superhero fatigue was quickly starting to rear head, and Marvel took some preventive actions while DC realized they needed to make proper films. Dr. Strange of 2016 was a visual stimulation we had not yet beheld, Deadpool went R-rated with its graphical violence and strong language, Wonder Woman finally proved that female superheroes could work and that DC miraculously still had a smidgen of sense, and Guardians of the Galaxy was original, quirky and fun as hell.

Ragnarok is the best film in the Thor franchise, which up until now has been the seemingly poorer relative of the MCU. Directed by the uniquely talented and marvelously hilarious Taika Waititi, prepare yourself for Marvel as you’ve never seen it before. You now by the multiple reports on this director that he’s the director behind What We Do in The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople. The man himself is an eccentric gem, and his humor is as evident off-screen as it is on. His distinct directorial style reverberates throughout Ragnarok. He didn’t write the material for the film but the nature of the humor is a clear indication that he’s all over it. Ragnarok is hilarious – I have never laughed quite so hard at a superhero film before. I laughed and snorted and spit out some of my drink – nothing is too sacred or serious for Waititi to omit. Dangerous portals are “the devil’s anus” and weapons are called “melt sticks” in such a deadpan way that you simply expect Waititi to walk out and wave at you. He is there, and you will have to listen only to know, but I won’t give away his character – I laughed too much at him and would like people to find him on their own. He is also able to bring out the best in Hemsworth and in the character of Thor – Chris Hemsworth is at his finest while playing Thor as a big, lumbering hero who can be quite the meathead but also has a heart of gold. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) returns as the “is he or isn’t he?”baddie, and to be honest I sometimes detect a weariness in Loki’s eyes – he’s so clearly intellectually superior to Thor that his brother’s antics must get exhausting. Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) makes a momentary appearance with his mindboggling magic tricks, and learn both brothers lessons in manners. It works, because unlike Civil War, this isn’t Avengers 2.1 – the entire MCU doesn’t pitch to join in on the fight. It is also more unique, less CGI extravaganza and a complete Thor movie, not a derivative movie that depends on the success of previously established MCU successes (Looking at you, Homecoming).

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The scramble for Marvel to include women, brought on by their rival DC’s wonderful Wonder Woman, brings us two females of note – the villain Hela (fantastically devious performance from Cate Blanchett) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). They are even on the poster. It is a positive turn of events, and I’ve seen complaints regarding Hela being one-sided, but I really thought her great and so refreshingly devious – like just mean and no worries about being so. Two times Oscar winner Cate Blanchett brings all her powers, and if one thing I wish they’d given her more time – she’s devious and crazy and cruel, and for the first female villain from Marvel, she’s absolutely wonderful. I’m all for conflicted villains, and Karl Urban’s Skurge certainly has inner conflict, but a pure, evil villain can be such fun, and watching Hela prove that Odin isn’t as squeaky clean as suggested was one glorious ride.  Valkyrie is a potential love interest, as Natalie Portman gets discarded with one single line (another flaw). I am quite pro a love interest that fights on her own and isn’t a damsel, so we will see how this goes.

The Revengers are endless amounts of fun. The movie reaches its conclusion without filler nonsense, the end is quite dramatic and heroic and Chris Hemsworth is as utterly gorgeous as always. Some of the humor is smart, some of it is blatant, and some excellently inappropriate. There is a buddy comedy vibe between Thor and The Hulk, which is endearing and hilarious. Be ready to adore Thor, The Hulk and even Loki – they are clearly having the time of their lives. The post credits scene is interesting and suggests something I thought would happen, and it can only mean great things.

Have you seen Ragnarok? Let me know your thoughts!

Rating: 8.5/10    

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Movie Review: Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)

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Plot: Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

Yes, I’m still alive. I’ve just been sucked into the vortex of two weeks of study leave followed by catching up said two weeks’ worth of the activities that pay my salary.  It’s been hectic, and I’ve had to drastically downscale both blogging and actually watching things. I got a chance about two weekends ago with Spiderman: Homecoming, which is incidentally the superhero film I’ve been least excited to watch. I have some interesting friends (these are the same people with who I watched Power Rangers with), so note that it there is an actual explanation for me finding myself in cinema for the zillionth remake of the Spidey.

I didn’t dislike Homecoming. It was just so Marvel. I’m a big Marvel fan, but these guys make the same film with different actors all the time. That doesn’t say Tim Holland isn’t a solid Peter Parker. Despite already being 20, he’s the youngest looking actor we’ve had to date in this role. He does his very best to appear teenagey and awkward, which is about as successful as a young attractive guy pretending to be awkward is bound to be. My love for Michael Keaton continues – he is the coolest person in the world at this stage, and him as Vulture made some of the best times in the film. His quest for villainy was a bit one sided and this was definitely not the strongest villain Marvel has eked out, but Keaton certainly did his best with the work.

I liked Zendaya quite a lot in her role as MJ – she’s just my spirit animal with her stand offish-ness and overall awkwardness.

Homecoming also features Tony Stark/Iron Man, probably the most loved Marvel superhero at this stage. It is an obvious ploy on the side of the studio – who doesn’t want to see Iron Man suited up and in action. I always like RDJ in this role, he’s as much this character as Hugh Jackman is the Wolverine. I appreciated his presence, and although it wasn’t really defined at stages and he seemed awfully dictatorial towards the kid. Happy (Jon Favreau) comes across as one big, rushed bully and it didn’t really jibe with what we’ve come to expect from him.

What more? This film is extremely long. I was fidgeting in my seat by the end of it. It is big and boisterous and really colorful. It has a lot of flash and plenty well cast characters.

Homecoming won’t be my favorite superhero film of the year – there was Wonder Woman, I still need to see Logan and I’m sure it is going to blow me away, I loved Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Thor and Justice League still need reviews too as well. So, herewith my final comment: Homecoming certainly wasn’t made for me, but I think them teens sure loved it.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Rating: 6.510

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

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Plot: Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

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The Original Guardians of the Galaxy was celebrated far and wide as original, refreshing and pretty much different from any normal Marvel film. I mean we love them, but they aren’t necessarily ground breaking in the stories they tell. I agreed mostly, but I also still felt that everyone and their grannies took the hype too far. Regardless of my opinion, the first film was a runaway success and since it is Marvel, a second one was inevitable.

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The sequel is in many ways an equal to original. Chris Pratt is Chris Pratt and the lovable and very attractive goofball. He is still surrounded by his team – Gamora (Zoë Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel). They acquire more recruits this time – Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). It is starting to feel like the Space Avengers with such a large cast going on here, but I very much doubt that the majority of the audience worries about that too much.

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Plenty of things work – Dave Bautista’s literal minded Drax gets more dialogue and the things he says is what we think without saying it, making the situations he’s placed in quite hilarious. Telling the creepy Mantis she’s probably beautiful on the inside was quite funny and painfully blunt. Baby Groot is emotional manipulation – he’s so cute he could have danced the duration of the film and I would have liked the movie. Chris Pratt loses his shirt and I couldn’t complain about it. The directing is colorful and bright and suits the upbeat tone of the film. The dialogue is relatable and funny, the banter between the team easy and seemingly sincere. The soundtrack is a lot of fun and a continuation of the first film. Sylvester Stallone shows his face and boggles the mind that he’s still looking smoking when he is six hundred years old now.

What lacks is an actual plot. The writers focused on the one thing left unanswered in Volume 1 – Starlord’s patronage. Enter Kurt Russel, cool old-dude extraordinaire, as Ego the Living Planet. He’s not much of a villain with a lot of ego and little grey areas, and it is pretty clear quite quickly that he doesn’t want the best for his son. There are also gold people, led by Elizabeht Debicki’s Kismet, who are angry that Rocket stole shit from them and are now determined to wipe out the team. It’s a pretty weak story, sloppy in places and lazy writing. It doesn’t particularly fit into the Marvel Universe that has so carefully been crafted. Some redemption is provided by the presence of Baby Groot, the fights between Starlord and Rocket and the chemistry between Starlord and Gamora. I also didn’t particularly appreciate how every bad guy last time was sympathized with this time around – Nebula (Karen Gillan), the conflicted sibling of Gamora, is the grayest character of the lot. Her hatred towards her sister is based on her robotic punishment as a child, and we don’t really blame her, but was it necessary to include it so much again into the second film? Yondu remains damn cool and everything for a blue guy, and Michael Rooker is cool enough to be him, but again, so much unnecessary things in this film piled it up to one long watch. I appreciated the cameo by Sylvester Stallone, but really, was it necessary?

I enjoyed GoTG II. It is not a particularly strong film but it is fun and really funny. Marvel took a chance changing so much from their usual formula, and despite following some of their renowned plot moves, it is still the most original work they’ve done in a while.

A 7.5/10 for me

Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2? What did you think of it?

Series Review: Daredevil Season 1 (2015)

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Rating: 9/10

I was typically a fool failing to watch so Daredevil quickly and upon its release. I’ve seen Jessica Jones, and let me tell you, when that review is up you will see how much I absolutely loathed it. My biggest issue with Jessica Jones was that the story was boring, ill written and poorly executed. I was loathe to try yet another superhero series and convinced I wouldn’t enjoy it. Incidentally I started watching because rumor had it that Jon Bernthal is The Punisher and appears eventually in Daredevil. I am on a huge Bernthal binge so I need to watch everything he’s ever been in on risk my eternal happiness. So it came as a big and pleasant surprise to find myself enthralled. Daredevil is one of the meatiest shows out there, full of background information and scenes I would usually blast as filler nonsense. In here? It serves the overall feel of the show well as the early years of each character so deeply impacts them.

The directing of Daredevil is in strong hands. Everything has this tense feel, a sense of darkness that is perhaps an indication of Murdoch’s blindness or of the despondency of the city. I am unable to ignore even one episode’s opening sequence. So dark and heavy and vibey. I would like to know the person who thought of such an incredible opening sequence – one million times the wow.

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In one of the best castings in recent memory, Charlie Cox simply shines as Matthew Murdoch. I had no idea that he had such a well of emotions to pull from to bring such a complex character to life. I would never have cast him as Daredevil / MM. This character is so interesting and just the thing I’ve wanted from this Netflix superheroes series – a character with depth and layer. There is such goodness in this guy and the moral questions he faces. I love the flashbacks to him as a kid, I love how he seeks advice from his priest and how he struggles with the mere idea of killing someone. It is incredible how the show’s directors and writers shows how well Daredevil can see despite being blind. His vision is not based on eyesight and so much more powerful and astute than the rest of us.

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The unfairly gorgeous and talented Deborah Ann Woll has been previously best known for her role in True Blood. Karen is infinitely more interesting of the two characters I have seen Woll play. I enjoy how she grows and how her spine stiffens when she’s faced with injustice. Dare I hope that this character still has untapped potential and a well of insight to her past?

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Foggy!!!! Matthew’s best friend and law firm partner, this guy provides the majority of funny moments. His little crush on Karen makes me sad as it is becoming so clear that she’s otherwise interested. A man with such a loyal and good heart deserves the best. I’m not really saying Karen is giving him ideas, but I do think she needs to be more careful with him.

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There are a number of smaller characters I really enjoyed. I really liked Clare (Rosario Dawson). She was instrumental more than once keeping Matthew alive, and their relationship,Ben Uric, the crooked copper who had one of the finest fuck you attitudes I’ve ever seen on screen.

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Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk / Kingpin. It is so rare that a villain is developed well enough that you sympathize with him. Kingpin is insane. That car door scene was the big reveal to how unstable Kingpin is, and man, did they do a thorough job doing that. Every subsequent scene with him in is simply stolen by D’Onofrio, who delivers a career best performance. I am so invested in this character and interested in every morsel of information they feed us about him.D’Onofrio is good enough that I feel I should be rooting for Kingpin and celebrating that such a sad youth could turn into such astounding power. It is rare to see a villain have a love interest developed as a serious arc and have the villain become even more insane as a result.

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James, Kingpin’s assistant, is played by Toby Leonard Moore. He is shiny with just the right amount of sneer and slime to make you uncomfortable. SPOILER: Karen shooting James was one of the biggest plot developments. I really didn’t see that one coming. It is sad, I enjoyed his villainy so much. I would have also really liked to have seen why he and Fisk were so loyal to each other in a world where betrayal was constant.

Daredevil was good enough that I wasn’t frustrated by the long setup of events. I vaguely registered that the show seemed to nearly run in a one episode one dilemma format. It served overall to enhance the events that start crashing through after episode 5. There were a few fight scenes that got a bit drawn out but I appreciated the ninja flipping skills of Daredevil so much that I could get through it without irritation.

The final episode is jam packed with excitement and fight scenes. Wilson Fisk is a wily bastard, and his capture proves to be nearly impossible. I do think that his love interest will likely prove a formidable force in the next season. She was very unhappy with his eventual imprisonment. Dare I say we haven’t seen the last of these two morally questionable characters?

Have you seen Daredevil? What did you think?

Movies 2016: Worst to Best

The year 2016 will be known for a number of things – an inordinate amount of celebrity deaths and an equally inordinate amount of lackluster movies. Are these two correlated? I’m not convinced its’ not. Anyway, here is my list of movies I watched this year that was released in 2016. It’s not been a good one.

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Number 19: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice 6/10

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Number 18: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them 6/10

Number 17: Before You 6/10

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Number 16: The Choice 6.5/10

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Number 15: How to be single 6.5/10

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Number 14: The 5th Wave 7/10

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Number 13: SUICIDE SQUAD 7/10

Number 12: Rogue One: 7/10

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Number 11: The Huntsman: Winter’s War 7/10

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Number 10: Legend of Tarzan 7.5/10

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Number 9: Finding Dory 7.5/10

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Number 8: Captain America: Civil War: 7.5/10

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Number 7: Zootopia 8/10

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Number 6: The Jungle Book 8/10

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Number 5: 10 Cloverfield lane 8/10

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Number 4: Dr. Strange 8/10

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Number 3: Deadpool (8/10)

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Number 2: Bridget Jones’ Baby: 8.5/10

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Number 1: Pride and Prejudice vs. Zombies 8.5/10

Movie Review: Dr. Strange (2016)

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Plot: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts

Rating: 8/10

Dr. Strange is by far Marvel’s best looking film to date. The images are extraordinary and a showcase just how far Marvel and technology has progressed up to now. I was very much impressed by all the pretty looking effects and mind breaking images. The slightly lacking plot is saved by the incredible talent that is Benedict Cumberbatch, who enters the superhero craze by taking on a role that wouldn’t have fitted any other actor and suited him perfectly. I think his success comes not only from his talent (which is astronomical) but also his clearly focused approach to his career development – he hasn’t taken on a bad choice in years. I enjoyed him as Dr. Strange, obviously, his work as a neurosurgeon, his crippling loss and refusal to be something what he considers less, and his subsequent rise as a very reluctant, disbelieving superhero.

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The androgynous mastermind Tilda Swinton takes on the role of Sorcerer Supreme. I liked her – she’s so strange and otherworldly and I could completely support her as a century old being with magical power. Chiwetel Ejiofor was wonderful but underdeveloped – I found his pure spirit and belief wonderful, and he deserved much more development on screen.

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I thought the end was a bit drawn out and wished for its closure a while before it ended. It would be unfair to say the plot had holes – it didn’t, but I would have appreciated more information. A lot of the time I felt that the golden magic they were making was simply parlour tricks. I thought the villains looked faintly ridiculous with their golden eye shadow and eyeliner gone wrong.  It’s probably the first time I’ve been unimpressed by Mads Mikkelson – this role didn’t suit him at all. I also thought the love story was a bit superfluous – really, why even include it at all, and that Rachel McAdams should probably have had more time on screen because she’s a wonderful actress.

I really loved the bookcases – if I had so much space I would definitely do that! I also quite enjoyed the librarian; he had some good interactions with Dr. Strange.

Dr. Strange wasn’t perfect, but it was really good, really unique and a brilliant new approach from Marvel. I’m quite convinced that nothing will stop them now, they are taking careful steps to avoid boring their audience. If you haven’t seen this yet and isn’t tired out by superheroes, I definitely suggest you give it a try!

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