Fantastic Four (Movie Review)

Stylized titles need to go ahead and put themselves out of their own misery.

I come to bury the Fantastic Four, not to praise them.

Fantastic Four

Directed by: Josh Trank (Chronicle)

Produced by: Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Robert Kulzar, Hutch Parker, Matthew Vaughn

Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, Josh Trank

Based on: Fantastic Four  by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Genre: Superhero

Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson

Music by: Marco Beltrami & Philip Glass

Plot: In search of the key to unlocking the ever-elusive secrets of teleportation and interdimensional travel , Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) of the Baxter Foundation employs four young geniuses to seal the deal: Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Victor Von Doom (Yes they’re still calling him that…. Er, I mean, Toby Kebbell) and his own kids, Susan (Kate Mara) and Johnny (Michael B. Jordan). When the kids’ (Plus Reed’s childhood friend, Ben Grimm) experiment in the so-called “Planet Zero” (Because apparently, “Negative Zone” ,as it’s known in the comics, is too silly of a name for a movie where the main villain is called “Victor von Fucking Doom”) goes horribly wrong, the kids gain superhuman abilities. Reed gains the ability to stretch his body parts to abnormal lengths (Get your mind out of the gutter) Ben gets turned into a giant, supernaturally strong rock monster, Johnny gains the ability to set himself on fire and fly at will with no repercussions, Sue can turn invisible and use force fields and Victor von Bad Guy fucks off to the other dimension, goes insane, develops a power set vaguer than the Scarlet Witch, and decides to destroy the world, because whoever was rewriting this movie for the tenth time forgot to add a climax, and just picked the stock villain goal, regardless of whether it’s in the character’s nature or not.

He should’ve been named Victor Domashev. Come at me fanboys, I’m waiting.

And then, the good guys are spirited off to a secret government facility known as Area 57 (Because they couldn’t get the film rights to Area 51, apparently) where the government tries to weaponize them, because the Evil Government is Evil.

I can already feel the hatred flowing through me. God that feels good.

To say that Fantastic Four (Or if you’re lobotomized, Fant4stic) had a troubled production would be stating the obvious, at this point. At this point, those of us who tried to remain optimistic were hoping that it would be another case of persevering through adversity, Star Wars and Jaws style.

Well…. That shows what I fucking get for looking on the bright side. It’s all Nietzsche and self-hatred from here on out.

Come at me you beautiful motherfucker. I’m ready for your sweet, sweet nihilism all over me.

One controversial decision was the casting of Michael B. Jordan, a black man, as Johnny Storm, who is traditionally depicted as being a white man. I want to make myself abundantly clear about this: If you give the slightest shit about the Human Torch being black, you are likely racist, and I want you to leave. And if your retort to that is to point out the fact that I wouldn’t want Black Panther being played by a white man, then I strongly suggest euthanasia to avoid contaminating the gene pool further with your stupidity.

Michael B. Jordan isn’t the problem. None of the actors are. Every part is perfectly cast by greatly talented people, and they bring all they possibly can to this movie. In a parallel universe, we would have a FF movie that isn’t apparently being made by brain-damaged chimps with stump hands locked in a room with semi-functional typewriters. In that world, this cast is now being showered with praise instead of, well, I shudder to think of what horrible things are being said about the actors by overly emotional fanboys.

“HEY!!! These people don’t conform with societal expectations of racial dynamics in an American family! KILL THEM!!!”                                        -Idiots

All these supremely talented performers can’t save this movie from the aforementioned chimps with stump hands, though. Here’s an example of the stellar (Paraphrased) dialogue you can find in Fant4stic (Fuck, now I’m doing it):

Victor von Bad enough dude to save the president: “Do you think that maybe  the Earth really deserved to be saved? People are kind of the worst. That’s a conclusion I came to in my nonexistent character development!”

Susan: “Check out Dr. Doom over here!”

I don’t know about you, but I smell an Oscar!

In addition to the piss-poor dialogue and the lack of any character development whatsoever, the characters are bland and nondescript, with the screenwriters reducing their personalities to the faintest possible resemblance of their counterparts from the comics. Reed’s personality? “Smart guy”. Ben’s? “Sad, strong guy.” Johnny? “Angry guy.” Sue? “Girl.”Victor Von Holy shit some names should stay in the Sixties? Well… Let’s go ahead and talk about this bleached asshole of a villain.

God, he looks like the result of a one-night stand between a crash test dummy and C-3PO.

If somebody could please tell me how this snivelling emo loser who suddenly decides to destroy the world (For… Reasons) is supposed to be the pondering, dictatorial badass from the comics, that would be much appreciated.

While you’re at it, can somebody please tell me how this look is supposed to be equal to the comics in terms of awesomeness?

He looks like a blow-up doll made out of ballistics gel.

Dr. Doom isn’t the only thing that looks like shit. The visual effects are worse than any blockbuster movie of this day and age have any right to be. There’s one scene where Reed and Ben teleport a toy plane, and the ensuing flash looks like something made via Windows XP effect.

This game of solitary is more technologically advanced than the effects in Fantastic Four.

There were some complaints about the look of Ben Grimm after his new look was revealed as well, but I actually rather liked it. No one depiction of the thing is going to please everybody, but at least this time, he’s not just a guy in a rubber suit. There are definitely worse character designs out there.

He looks like the deformed son Ultron never told anybody about.

Even if those issues weren’t monumental, which they are, the movie would still be tanked by the fact that it’s a poorly edited, uneven backloaded mess. They should make this movie required viewing at film schools as an example of what to avoid at all costs when editing film. 20th Century Fox’s last-ditch efforts to salvage the mess Trank made and/or micromanage Trank to the point where he allegedly just gave up doesn’t pay off because the movie ambles along at a painfully slow pace, devoting it’s time to clunky character development and the occasional shitty joke. Then, in the last ten minutes or so, the filmmakers realize that “Oh shit! We totally forgot about the climax!” so they bring in Dr. Doom with next to no explanation, and we’re treated to a fight so overblown and lethargic that the audience just does not care anymore. And neither do the actors, for that matter. Reshoots probably don’t do much for your enthusiasm for working on a project.

Also, why do they not need they not need a special suit to survive in the Negative Zone (I’m not calling it fucking Planet Zero) during the climax, but earlier in the movie, they clearly need those suits to survive? And why do I expect logical thinking from the same people who think that Miles Teller and Jamie Bell look like high schoolers.

Overall: Even if it is the worst superhero movie since Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, at least Fant4stic has inspired me to write my own FF screenplay, if only because I’m one hundred percent certain that it wouldn’t end up as badly as this one.

Rating: 2/10

He looks like the Vision wearing a giant, skintight condom.

Ant-Man (Movie Review)

“They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it shrinks… every time!

When this movie inevitably dominates the box office, we all need to learn to stop doubting the film potential of the bottom of Marvel’s barrel. Really, Guardians of the Galaxy should’ve been the first hint that we should stop being so damn cynical about unknown IP’s anyways.

 Ant-Man

Directed by: Peyton Reed

Produced by: Kevin Feige

Screenplay by: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd

Story by: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish

Genres: Superhero, Heist comedy

Based on: Ant-Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby

Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Pena, T.I.

Music by: Christophe Beck

Plot: After serving several years of a jail sentence for breaking into his corrupt ex-employer’s home and wrecking his car, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) just wants to go straight and spend time with his estranged daughter, who loves him to death. Unfortunately, Lang’s ex-wife (Judy Greer) and her new husband (Bobby Cannavale) won’t let him see her until he proves that he can lead a stable life, which is tough to do when you’re a convicted felon who nobody will hire after spending three years in San Quentin. Who knew, right?

Down on his luck, Lang meets a retired, genius scientist named Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) who wants him to to utilize his excellent burglary skills (As well as a suit that allows him to shrink to the size of a motherfucking ant) in order to break into Pym’s old company and stop the new owner, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), from weaponizing a similar technology to the Ant-Man suit and selling it to less-than savoury criminal elements.

It would be an understatement to say that the announcement of a film based on a Marvel D-lister like Ant-Man caught some people off guard.

He’s not even one of the cool D-listers.

Even more bizarre was the announcement of the director: Edgar Wright, the near-genius behind the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy an Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which are both must-see comedies, in my correct opinion.

I fucking adore this scene.

Fanboys the world over were were intrigued by this tantalizing possibility for a potentially totally different superhero movie in a genre that is prone to serious repetition over time.

And then, Wright got shit-canned over creative differences and was replaced by the director of Yes Man.

The tremendous success of Guardians of the Galaxy restored some faith in Marvel’s ability to sell its second (Or third, or fourth, or fifth…) string character, but what if that was just lightning in a bottle? What if the production problems behind the screen were too much for Paul Rudd and the Wright-penned script to overcome?

Well, as Box Office Mojo and Rotten Tomatoes can testify, superhero fans probably aren’t giving the Marvel Machine enough credit.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that the fact that this movie essentially had two directors and two sets of writers (Wright/Cornish and Rudd/McKay) doesn’t affect the movie, because it does. During the first act of Ant-Man, it feels either disoriented or slow. It was very entertaining, sure, but I couldn’t help feeling like it was taking too much time to get to the cool action and humour, while it was focusing too long on Paul /rudd’s relationship with his daughter (Who, I swear, was genetically engineered in a lab somewhere in order to create the most adorable kid ever). It’s not bad, per se, it just gets to the point where the obligatory establishment of Scott’s flawed family dynamic kind of wears out its welcome.

That isn’t to say that it’s poorly written, though. I mean, the story’s predictable as hell, but the character dialogue is very, very entertaining. Marvel movies have always been funny, but the humour has always taken a backseat to the superheroing. Ant-Man is a straight-up heist comedy. Think Ocean’s Eleven meets Iron Man. Now, think of a movie that’s exactly as awesome as that sounds.

Ant-Man is consistently funny, as well as downright hilarious on several occasions, without stepping on the more dramatic or action-oriented moments.

Of course, a script as sharp as this one is really only as effective as its cast and, thankfully, they all brought their A-game (With one exception that we’ll get to later). Much like Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy, Paul Rudd brings plenty of energy, humour and charisma , which, y’know, is to be expected from the Sex Panther himself, but he also establishes himself as a convincing superhero. Admittedly, the fact that this movie makes use of a lot of CGI helps (Albeit, not nearly as much as the other MCU productions), but the point is, I definitely bought him as Ant-Man. There, I said it. I buy Paul Rudd as the goddamn Ant-Man.

There’s another thing to add to the list of things most people never expect to say in their lifetime.

Evangeline Lilly (Kate from Lost) does a fine job as Hope Van Dyne, Hank Pym’s daughter, though I can’t help but feel that she could’ve been utilized a bit more. She’s a good, solid actress and it’s nice that she’s getting a fairly prominent role in this enormous franchise. Michael Pena (Anybody know how to put the Spanish accent on the N? I’m too lazy to look it up) is downright hilarious, especially in one scene that seems very Edgar-Wright-esque to me (I won’t spoil it). He gets some good chemistry going with Rudd and his criminal buddies, David Dastmalchian and T.I., who are both great, and get some good lines in, never mind the fact that one is unknown and the other is, you know, a rapper.

With all due respect to 50 Cent.

Actually, fuck 50 Cent. That guy’s a skeeve.

It would’ve been easy for Michael Douglas to phone this one in, but he also brings it to this one, serving as the emotional lightning rod of the movie, and he even gets a few badass moments of his own.

Wow, I’m just realizing now that this is the first Marvel movie in a while whose main characters are mostly normal, non-powered people.

One of the reasons Ant-Man is so obscure is that his power set isn’t exactly the sexiest. Sure, he’s a founding Avenger (In the comics), but compared to, say, Hulk or Thor, the power to shrink to the size of a dime isn’t the most appealing, so this movie really had to sell me on that skill set. Specifically, by not simply copying/pasting the effects from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

Whatever happened to Rick Moranis, anyways?

I had no reason to fear, though, because the visual effects are excellent. At only one or two points did I feel like the CGI was a bit more noticeable than it should’ve been, and believability is extremely important when the entire premise of the movie is Paul Rudd shrinking to the size of an M&M and interacting with CG insects. Thankfully, the shrinking mechanism (Heh) works absolutely seamlessly, and makes for some extremely creative action scenes that prove that even a hero with as “boring” a skill set as Ant-Man’s can be a total badass.

On an unrelated note, is Judy Greer just shooting for forgettable ancillary characters now?

I didn’t say that, I’m just saying your career choices have been- Ah, fuck it. Moving on.

Unfortunately, my biggest problem with the film (And it is a pretty big one) is the villain, Yellowjacket.

Okay, this is completely unrelated, and you can skip this section of bold text if you really want, but the geek in me can’t resist talking about this. 

So, Scott Lang is this movie’s Ant-Man, but the original Ant-Man (In both the comics and the movie) is Hank Pym, and, in the comics, he’s a founding Avenger, being about the same age as, say, Tony Stark. While his original moniker was Ant-Man, he eventually learned to grow to enormous sizes, and adopted the name Giant-Man, and then Goliath. When he was going through some issues (His guilt over creating Ultron, both his bipolar disorder and heart problems due to prolonged exposure to the particles that give him his power) he adopted the name Yellowjacket (Darren Cross is an entirely different character from Yellowjacket in the comics). It was during this period that he left his most notable mark on comic book hist- OH MY GOD!!!

Who says DC has all the dark, disturbed heroes?

And now you see why they maybe didn’t use Hank Pym as the protagonist. Moving right along!!!

Corey Stoll’s performance is over-the-top, which is fine, but i’d rather that energy be spent on an entertaining villain. This character. Just. Does. Not. Do it for me. After Ultron, Marvel appears to be receding back into Generic Boring Villain Syndrome again. All that I said before about this movie being well-written doesn’t really apply to Yellowjacket. I guess, if you’re not tired of the “Unstable genius wants to be evil for some unspecified reason) trope, then Darren Cross might do it for you. If not, then, well, he’s probably not what you came to see, anyways.

Cool character design, though.

Overall; A refreshing take on the genre amidst the aliens, robots and explosions, Ant-Man is perfect for those who may be going through a dreaded case of superhero fatigue.

Rating: 8.0/10

Next from Marvel: Squirrel Girl- The Movie!!!

Mighty Marvel Movie Month

My alliteration game is off the goddamn charts.

For the past week or so, I had been suffering through the worst case of artistic blue balls that I’ve had since I started to write somewhat consistently. Nothing I was drafting, aside from my pretty damn good critique of Boyhood (Humility is not one of my more prominent qualities)  was amounting to much more than a mediocre rough draft in my notepad, and the only things I was posting semi-consistently were frigging quotes, which, again, I really shouldn’t be using to replace original content.

So, I decided to retreat to my mind palace and figure out just what exactly the hell I was going to do next. None of the movies coming out interest me in particular, Game of Thrones isn’t till April, DeathMatches take too long to set up…. I guess the new Avengers movie is coming out soon, so I could do some Marvel-related thing, but what, exactly? It’s a little early to do a Top 10 Marvel Whatever list, and  think everybody and their moose have made a Top 10 superhero list…

And then, it hit me like Suge Knight. A stroke of genius unlike the world has ever seen before. What is it, you ask?  Well, for the next month or so, until the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I will review every single Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that I haven’t already reviewed.

…At least, that was my original idea.

See, there aren’t quite that much Marvel Cinematic Universe movies as it can sometimes feel like, and I’ve already reviewed a fair bit of them. So, the next logical step?

Review every single movie starring Marvel characters, obviously, be they MCU or not.

Before starting, for those of you about to claim hat I’m ripping off CineMassacre’s Monster Madness and Nostalgia Critic’s Disneycember (Albeit, with the written word)… You’re right. I thought it was a cool idea, and I decided to do something similar with something I really care about, specifically, a bunch of costumed Ubermensch saving the world from the greatest threats humanity’s ever seen.

Of course, by “the world”, I mean “New York”.

The only problem with this? There are a goddamn ton of these movies, and there are only so many days until Avengers 2, with so many hours of free time at my disposal. So, I won’t see movies that I have already reviewed (Guardians of the Galaxy, Days of Future Past, etc.). Not only that, but I’m only reviewing movies that had a theatrical wide release (No animated movies, no serials, etc.) as well as only movies that are based off of characters from the main Marvel comics imprint. That means no Kick-Ass (Which is published by Icon) or Men in Black (Aircel Comics). If this upsets you, then a) you get upset at strange things, and b) bite me. It still adds up to 32 movies, what more do you want from me!?

My first review, being of the first ever movie based off of a Marvel character, should be out within the next day or two, and, surprisingly enough, this film does not start one of Marvel’s ticket characters, but instead stars an obscure hero known as… Wait, what does that say? Howard the-

…. Oh no.

God help us all.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Movie Review)

Aww… I think somebody needs a hug!

It should come as no surprise to anybody who reads my blog semi-regularly (All three of you) that superheroes play an important part in my creative process. Hell, the second movie review I ever posted was a review of  Tim Burton’s Batman (Which is kinda dated, but still pretty good)and since then, I’ve reviewed Man of Steel (Which I regret giving a 7.5 to), the second Thor movie (Flawed and convoluted, but fun) and the new Captain America movie (Which is the best superhero movie since The Avengers). However, even with the release of those movies, and the upcoming releases later this year of the new X-Men movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, the superhero movie I’ve been most anxious to watch has been as you’ve probably guessed, because you’re obviously literate, The Amazing Spider-Man 2. 

Why, you ask? Because Spider-Man is my jam. I love Spider-Man.

When I was a little kid, my second-favourite movie after Lion King was Spider-Man 2. I watched the animated series religiously on DVD’s, and I still have my Spider-Man action figures (Read: Toys) and Spider-Man encyclopedia. When my friends graduated to Batman and Deadpool, I, well, I joined them, I guess, but I still see  Spider-Man as being my favourite superhero, and being my gateway into geekdom in general.

And into social awkwardness. Can’t forget that.

So, one week after its release, a friend and I muscled our way into a movie theater that was lousy with little  kids (A drawback to enjoying superhero movies) to watch the new Spidey flick. Admittedly, my expectations were considerably lower after glancing at the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page, but I was at least expecting an improvement over the first Amazing Spider-Man (Which I liked, except for the Lizard), and most certainly an improvement over the steaming pile of shit that was Spider-Man 3.

It’s not exactly setting the bar high, but whatever.

  The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Directed by: Marc Webb

Produced by: Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach

Screenplay by: Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Alex Kurtzman

Story by: Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Alex Kurtzman, Jeff Vanderbilt

Based on: Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Genre: Superhero, Teen Drama

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, Sally     Field, Campbell Scott

  Plot: Taking place after the events of The Amazing Spider-Man, high school graduate Peter Parker (Garfield) is continuing to fight crime as Spider-Man,   New York’s often under-appreciated super-powered protector.  While he protects the citizens of the Big Apple from schmucks like Russian mobster Aleksei Sytsevich (Giamatti), Peter also tries to maintain his relationship with the lovely valedictorian, Gwen Stacy (Stone), whose father (Denis Leary, who is seen and not heard, thankfully) was killed in a fight between Spider-Man and the Lizard in the first movie. Unfortunately, by dating Gwen, Peter is breaking the promise made to her father that he wouldn’t involve her in his life, as being Spider-Man endangers those he loves. Oops.

Although anybody who says they wouldn’t do the same thing in the same situation is a goddamn liar.

Not only that, but Peter also has to deal with Harry Osborn (DeHaan), a childhood friend of his who inherits the powerful pharmaceutical company OsCorp after his creepy, neglectful father Norman (Chris Cooper) is killed by the same terminal genetic disease that is starting to plague Harry. Further drama occurs when Spidey saves a poor, unfortunate soul by the name of Max Dillon (Foxx), an under-appreciated OsCorp engineer who becomes obsessed with Spider-Man, which is too bad for the web-head, as Dillon is involved in an accident that turns him into a being of electricity, which also apparently gives him schizophrenia.

Yeah, that hug I was offering earlier? Not gonna happen.

Most of the problems I have with this movie have to do with the way the plot is laid out. In fact, I’m noticing that ever since The Dark Knight changed up the game, some superhero movies that have no business being complicated are becoming convoluted and overblown for the sake of being convoluted and overblown. Dark Knight RisesMan of Steel, The Wolverine, Thor: The Dark World and, to a lesser extent, Iron Man 3, Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America: The Winter Soldier all suffered from a plot that wandered all over the damn place and lost me for a bit. Unfortunately, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is no exception.

SPOILER ALERT

 The story-line that centers around Peter trying to discover the reason why his parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz) left him with his aunt May (Field) and late uncle Ben (Martin Sheen in the previous movie) when he was little, takes up a ton of the film’s run-time, and is also the least important part of the movie. We get all this emotional buildup towards some huge revelation about the secrets that Peter’s father was trying to hide from OsCorp only to learn that, what, the huge pharmaceutical company led by the creepy guy did some shady dealings, so Parker Sr. left the country with his wife? Gee, thanks for telling us something we didn’t already know from the opening scene of the movie.

SPOILER END

I guess the revelations about the Parker family didn’t ruin the movie, though. I’ll give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt though, because I feel like they’re building up to something more in the upcoming movies. It’s hard not to feel cheated thoough, considering the large emphasis that the first movie placed on the truth about Peter’s father. Kind of makes you miss Sam Raimi’s trilogy, honestly.

…Oh…Never mind…

I also felt that the editing and pacing were kind of off balance, especially near the end. The ending goes on for about ten minutes longer than the point where it should’ve ended, which really threw me off. I guess the closing scene isn’t so bad on its’ own, and it did serve to deliver a message of hope or whatever, and as a set-up for the Sinister Six movie, but it could’ve been handled a bit better.

The big worry that most people had about this movie, however, was the fact that there are a whole bunch of villains in it, which many point to as the reason that Spider-Man 3 was such an atrocity. What I say to that is that while it’s done a lot better than that terrible, terrible movie, it still feels quite off. I dunno, I can’t really put my finger on it, but at least none of the characters felt shoehorned in like Venom was in SM3.

Though it ain’t no Dark Knight, that’s for sure.

Speaking of the villains, I’m pleased to announce that the two main villains in this movie, Electro and Harry Osborn, are both well portrayed by their respective actors (Veteran actor Jamie Foxx and up-and-comer Dane DeHaan, respectively). True, the characters themselves aren’t as smartly written as some of the other villains in the Spider-Man franchise (Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, Willem DeFoe’s Green Goblin), but at least they’re better than Rhys Ifan’s Lizard (Who started off strong until he became a blob of CGI) and, again, miles better than any of the storied villains unfortunate enough to appear in Spider-Man 3.

Speaking of the actors, I already mentioned Foxx, who did a great job, and DeHaan, who appears to be reaching at times. Paul Giamatti is also in this movie, but he is barely used and mostly wasted as the Rhino. Sally Field is given a little bit more to do this time around as aunt May, which I approve of, and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy continues to blow Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane out of the water. She and Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker save many of the romantic scenes (Of which there are about two to many), which tend to veer into eye-rollingly cheesy territory and which would be total disasters in the hands of actors with lesser chemistry then the real life couple of Garfield and Stone.

As for the whole “Andrew Garfield vs. Tobey Maguire” debate, I don’t really give a shit. Both are excellent Spider-Men, even if they have different takes on the character.

When it comes solely to the visual effects, this is the best Spidey movie to date. Instead of cluttering the movie and creating what feels like an artificial environment, the CGI really enhances the action scenes, and even more so with Hans Zimmer’s score playing in the background. There was some back-and-forth going on when the trailer was released about whether it looked too much like a Saturday morning cartoon, FX-wise, but Spider-Man stories have never been, nor should they ever look dark and moody like a neo-noir movie or whatever, so I’m really not bothered by it. I know these reboots are supposed to be a “darker and grittier” retelling of the Spider-Man story, but let’s face it, some things really don’t need to be Batman to be good.

Take note, Zach Snyder.

Conclusion: It’s disappointingly flawed and uneven, it wastes its villains, it’s too cheesy and it spends a bit too much time setting up the upcoming movies in the franchise, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is still a really damn enjoyable movie, thanks mainly to the fine performances and the great visual effects. They don’t make up for the convoluted plot and the other aforementioned drawbacks, but it’s still a really fun ride that is worth at least a rental.

Rating: 7/10

(Also, try to avoid seeing it when little kids are in the theatre. They’re just the worst in action movies.)

 

 

Thor: The Dark World (Movie Review)

I was going to review Wes Anderson’s new movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, for you guys, but apparently, the good people of Edmonton Alberta decided that today, of all days, was the perfect day, two weeks after the movies’ opening day, to wander over to Cineplex Odeon and fill up the goddamn theater to partake in the whimsical delight that is Wes Anderson (I assume. I’ve never actually seen a Wes Anderson movie before).

Which means I’m missing out on way more Bill Murray than is acceptable.

Anyways, since iTunes and credit cards are things that exist, I decided to catch up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the next Captain America movie and Guardians of the Galaxy coming up. Time to bring the hammer down on Thor: The Dark World!

Get  it? ‘Cause he uses a hammer?

Ah, fuck it.

 Thor: The Dark World

  Directed by: Alan Taylor

  Produced by: Kevin Feige

  Written by: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus,  Stephen      McFeely (Story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat)

  Based on: Thor by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber

Genres: Superhero, Fantasy

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo

Plot: Taking place two years after the events of Thor, and the title character (Hemsworth), accompanied by the Warriors Three (Stevenson, Levi and Asano) and Sif (Alexander) have just completed a campaign to pacify the nine realms of Asgard after they were destabilized following the destruction of Bifrost and the attempted alien invasion of New York, led by Thor’s step-brother, Loki (Hiddleston) in The Avengers. Loki has since been imprisoned by his adoptive father (And Thor’s biological father) Odin (Hopkins), the Allfather.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Dr. Jane Foster (Portman), Thor’s ex-flame, and her intern/best friend/effective comic relief, Darcy Lewis (Dennings) are in London, looking for their colleague, Dr. Erik Selvig (Skarsgård), who has been driven crazy by the experience of being possessed by Loki during The Avengers. While adventuring around London, they find an abandoned warehouse that houses several inter-dimensional portals. One such portal transports Jane to another world, where she is infected by the Aether, which is essentially a weapon of mass destruction in creepy liquid form. Her infection attracts the attention of Malekith the Accursed (Eccleston), a dark elf and ancient enemy of the Asgardians who aims to plunge the universe into darkness.

The plot sounds simple enough, but the reality is that it’s told in a way that had me kind of lost midway through. When the whole selling point of your movie is “Chris Hemsworth dresses up like a viking and beats the shit out of mythical creatures”, you don’t need to add a bunch of convoluted crap about the alignment of the realms, and then explain it in a way that bores and confuses me, to get me to watch your movie. But, as I just mentioned, this is not the case, and as a result, some parts (Cough cough, the climax) feel muddled and anti-climactic. It doesn’t help that a large part of the plot is built around a rather uninteresting villain in Malekith the Accursed.

Another plot problem is that the movie, at the beginning, tries to establish sort of a love triangle between Thor, Jane and Sif. The filmmakers went to the trouble of foreshadowing some sort of sexual tension, but we never hear about it again. What the hell was that all about?

While the cast does a great job, the one weak link among the whole bunch is Christopher Eccleston as Malekith. I’ve never seen an episode of Doctor Who in my life, but he didn’t exactly make a compelling case for my dropping Sword Art Online anytime soon.

Aside from Fullmetal Alchemist and Pokemon, it’s the only anime I’ve ever seen that doesn’t give off a rape-y vibe. Mostly.

Of course, it doesn’t help that his makeup looked like total shit.

Thankfully, the rest of the special effects are beyond phenomenal, especially the visuals of the city of Asgard. How this movie was excluded from the Oscar ballot in lieu of the Lone fucking Ranger  blows my goddamn mind.

Acting: Aside from Eccleston, the cast does a great job. Tom Hiddleston steals the show as Loki, who may be the best-written super-villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker. Chris Hemsworth is charismatic and fits the role of Thor like a giant, blond, muscular glove, and Natalie Portman has come another step closer towards erasing the memory of her role in the Star Wars prequels.

As much as one can try to forget, anyways.

What really made the characters shine is the dialogue, though. While the writers may have ignored minor details, such as a halfway understandable plot, but they nail the interactions between all the characters (Though, again, it helps that the actors did great jobs). the movie never really had a problem with tone, and managed to be sad, funny or tense whenever it needed to be, even avoiding the typical amounts of superhero cheese that comes with the territory of a movie like this.

Conclusion: I’d need to watch the first one again to decide whether I liked this one better or not, but what it lacks in terms of a coherent plot, it makes up for with its’ cast, dialogue, action scenes and especially the visual effects, and it all adds up to a very entertaining superhero flick.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10