Looking Back at Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man

amzingspdr.pngSuck it up Raimi fanboys!

Finally got around to watching The Amazing Spider-Man. Oh boy is it great! Not only is it a reboot, it’s also an update, an upgrade, both, of the Spider-Man mythos we’re mostly familiar with. The guys behind this movie definitely went the extra mile (or extra swing) to give the fans more than what was promised.

This version took no time in expanding the Spidey universe, introducing Peter Parker’s parents right in the opening scene and how Peter ended up with Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Then, it also corrected the main deviations in the first trilogy: Gwen Stacy, a much more convincing and sophisticated girl next door, as played by Emma Stone and, the mechanical web-shooters—which is part OSCORP’s product, part Peter’s invention. (Midway thru the movie, I thought OSCORP would eventually hire Spidey to endorse their product, and let the abusive J.J. Jameson, this time as an ad agency mogul, enter the story.)

There are small additions changes here and there. The enhanced spiders and webs were retconned to be made by OSCORP, and it’s also implied that Peter’s powers may have originated from the older Parker’s experiments. My only beef is that they turned Uncle Ben’s famous words into a joke, albeit unintentionally. Martin Sheen’s cool, funny uncle could have been an improvement over Cliff Robertson’s, but without that classic line, he becomes secondary.

The biggest change of them all is Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker, who’s actually a cool kid pretending to be a geek. He’s a quippy masked vigilante who’s also kind of a dick. He ditches his girlfriend in time of grief, for a promise he couldn’t keep, and then break the same promise just because “those were the best kind.” All in all, this Peter Parker is an affable jerk. (At least he got the girl this time, and is able to actually fork her brains out—for a change.) Continue reading “Looking Back at Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man”

13 Reasons Why I’m (Not) So Excited About Avengers: Infinity War

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Can’t say I’m not the least bit excited about Avengers: Infinity War. It is after all an Avengers movie. Something I have always looked forward to more than any other series or sub-franchise in the ongoing Marvel universe. Outside of the Guardians of the Galaxy, of course.

One reason I’m not too excited about Infinity War is that the Russos are directing it. And the writers of Captain America trilogy are the guys behind the script. Sure, Civil War had some funny, sometimes witty back and forths, but it’s not the same as when Joss Whedon was still Marvel’s go to guy. Of course, Age of Ultron was a massive let down but so was Civil War.

At their best, the script for the last two Captain America movies, were just a little more than serviceable. Except for The Winter Soldier‘s bone-busting, fast-cut ADHD-style and a little shaky fight sequences (not really that good, if you ask me, since they tend to get repetitive in the long run), and Civil War‘s airport scuffle, those movies didn’t really stand out from the rest of the MCU. They didn’t have a distinct look or tone. Neither the triumphantly comedic/dramatic as the Guardians, nor as outrageously “out-there” as Thor: Ragnarok, and never as heartfelt as Ant-Man. Nothing really inventive or out-of-the-box.

Speaking of out-of-the box ideas, that scene in where Loki was falling thru nothingness for thirty minutes is one of the most inventive sequence I’ve seen among recent MCU films. Sure that sequence is simple on the surface, not much CGI required to pull off, but it definitely required more than a bit of imagination to come up with. Yes, it was played for laughs and didn’t really forward the plot but it’s actually great in that, it demonstrated Strange’s power, his magic, it fleshed out the contrast between characters Loki and Strange (not so quippy this time), and also, it was very funny. My complaint with Doctor Strange is that it wasn’t magical enough, it wasn’t really strange. (Should Waititi take on next Doctor Strange movie, I would be excited for that.)

Going back to Cap’s movies, on pure technical aspects, they’re as exciting as Ant-Man. Outside of things mentioned above, they look so run-of-the-mill. Too bad for them, Ant-Man had a smaller but more relatable, not to mention more convincing, story to tell.

So yeah, the trailer is out. And it was different from the one shown in D23, which already leaked thru the internet. Trailer breakdowns are everywhere. This guy found 13 reasons to be so excited about this movie coming out next year. So I decided that I’d rip him off and give my own—kind of contrarian—take on the list. Here we go:

Vision Goes Through Changes
Not a big fan of Vision. Though I like Age Of Ultron more than the next guy, Vision’s origin is one of those sub-plot in that movie that left me… I don’t know. It’s was kind of magical and dumb and also very contrived. I like Scarlet Witch. There’s a part in Ultron where Hawkeye told her that none of these (the things happening in the movie) makes sense, and it was followed by her character transformation. I also like her being paired with Vision in Civil War. But that brings me to one of my biggest gripes about the movie: Where the hell is Vision during that Lagos mission?

Continue reading “13 Reasons Why I’m (Not) So Excited About Avengers: Infinity War”

Thor: Ragnarok — Some Loud Thunder

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Warning: Some Lou Ferrigno-sized spoilers ahead

“What are you, god of hammers?” Odin asks Thor at one point in the movie. Then Thor does his thunderbolt thing and we’re treated to what might be the coolest battle sequence in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe since Scott Lang turned into Giant-Man, or since Peter Quill made a giant Pac-Man to the tune of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. It’s so frickin’ awesome and thanks to director Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok is now officially, the wackiest Marvel ensemble comedy to date this side of Joss Whedon.

Thor: Ragnarok opens with Thor captured by the demon Surtur, bound and hanging from a chain in the Asgardian underworld. While Surtur tells about Ragnarok a.k.a. the destruction of Asgard, Thor kind of breaks the fourth wall as he interrupts the background orchestra and the demon’s grand proclamations every time he slowly spins away from Surtur’s view. It’s a sequence that brings to mind GotG and Deadpool, effectively planting the movie’s overall tongue and tone, firmly in its cheek.

Minutes later, it’s family reunion time, as Thor is re-united with Loki, who’s been ruling Asgard as Odin and staging plays about his pseudocide in the last movie; then later with Odin, who’s just waiting for his final moments in Norway; and finally, with his older sister Hela, who was imprisoned by Odin and written out of history for her great evil ambitions and has now returned to take over Asgard, leaving Thor not much time to grieve or be bitter over Loki’s deception. Thor and Loki, suddenly on the same side, finds themselves outmatched, as Hela destroys the Mjolnir without much effort and kicks the brothers out into space while they try to escape thru the BEEF-roast.

The fun ride continues as Thor crash-lands into an alien planet and becomes a gladiator-slave owned by Jeff Goldblum, who, here, goes by the moniker the Grandmaster, ruler of the colorful wasteland called Sakaar (a goofy combination of neon lights, pinball aesthetics and Jack Kirby-inspired sets). Thor is forced to fight a gladiatorial death-match against the current champion, who turns out to be… the green brute Hulk (“He’s a friend from work”)—but we already knew that. Continue reading “Thor: Ragnarok — Some Loud Thunder”

Ranking All MCU Movies from Iron Man to Ragnarok

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With the release of Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel has now churned out seventeen movies. Yep, that’s right. Seventeen fuckin’ Marvel movies and almost all of them widely popular with both critics and fans, almost all of them hit big at the box office. But not all of them are great or good. There are few stinkers and there are a few gold. The list below starts with the stinkers with the movies listed in descending order.

 

hulk (3).pngThe Incredible Hulk (Louis Leterrier, 2008). Say what you want about Ang Lee’s Hulk, that’s still better than this movie. This louder rehash only improves on the special effects the action, which everyone soon forgets once Mark Ruffalo shows up in The Avengers.

 

iron2Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau, 2010). Iron Man 2, or: How To Make A Bloated Sequel. Black Widow made her first appearance in this movie. That’s the most vivid detail I remember from this really really long talky Robert Downey Jr. movie.  That and Tony Stark literally pissing his pants.

 

capam (3)Captain America: The First Avenger (Joe Johnston, 2011). Joe Johnston brought his Rocketeer aesthetic into an alternate 1940s giving it a frozen in amber quality. It was good in that it looked different, if only it wasn’t so boring.

Continue reading “Ranking All MCU Movies from Iron Man to Ragnarok”

Spider-Man: Homecoming (Jon Watts, 2017)

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How d’you like my Batman voice?

Deadpool reminded me of Spider-Man. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, that is. Deadpool was half the movie that Spider-Man was, but with enough adult things—humor, language, sex, violence—to make up for the lacking half.

Spider-Man: Homecoming reminds me a lot of Deadpool, but in terms of the adult things—humor, language, sex, violence—the latter was (in)famous for, Homecoming‘s only half the fun that Deadpool was. It’s Deadpool-lite, with the latter’s hard-R rating cut to whiny PG-13.

Marvel has finally “marvelized” Spider-Man—which is both good and bad—the same way it did Thor, Cap, and Iron Man. The good: the casting of Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker (easily the most precise (best?) incarnation of the character, a perfect middle ground for those who find Tobey Maguire too dorky and those who find Andrew Garfield too dicky), Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, and Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes, Marvel’s ability to present a plausible comic book world that’s close to our own, and the impressive visual effects—all of which, should be pretty much given by now in every Marvel movie. And these are among the main reasons for these movies’ box office draw and the franchise’s enduring appeal.

Continue reading “Spider-Man: Homecoming (Jon Watts, 2017)”

Is ‘Logan’ The Best X-Men Movie?

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The Last of Wolverine

No, I don’t think Logan is the greatest comic-book movie since The Dark Knight (which isn’t even great to begin with). But it’s probably the best X-Men movie yet. I used to agree with the general consensus that X2 was the best of the lot, but Logan is also a remarkable movie and it gets Wolverine right. And that for me, says a lot.

While the first two X-Men movies by were generally well-loved by both critics and fans, I’ve always find them lacking. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Professor X and Magneto respectively, brought gravitas to these surprisingly earnest comic book movies (the much maligned third movie had actually more fun to offer, especially with Juggernaut, Mystique and Multiple Man). Hugh Jackman took the role of Wolverine, and made a career playing the fierce but sensitive mutant from Canada. Unfortunately, the other supposedly key characters (Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Beast) were sidelined, and nearly forgettable. While Rebecca Romijn, in her very physical and almost dialogue-free role as Mystique, steals the show from almost every one of them. Sure, Bryan Singer has style, but it’s a style that muted the colors and voices of these supposedly motley crew of outsiders.

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Yes, these movies touch on relevant issues (i.e., xenophobia, LGBT). But so did the comics and the ’90s cartoons, which, arguably did better doing so than the movies. In fact, that is only to be expected of these movies. What I did not expect was how Wolverine-centered they were. Were they called Wolverine and the X-Men, I won’t be complaining how the rest of team didn’t get to do much. Also, I thought these movies were just too serious for their own good. Logan was allowed to make jokes, but at the expense of the other characters, like Cyclops and Beast, who were both badly underwritten. And sometimes, the seriousness lapses into something silly, unintentionally (i.e., X-Men‘s amusing third act fight scenes, Prof. X saying goodbye to Cyclops in X2 (couldn’t Jean talk to Scott directly?)) Continue reading “Is ‘Logan’ The Best X-Men Movie?”

What if Marvel gets Tarantino to do a Captain America spin-off?

Here’s what—should Marvel hire Quentin Tarantino and give him 100% free rein:

It would be set in the near future where the world is enslaved by Loki and the formation of Avengers never happened. Why? Because a deadly assassin killed Nick Fury in the ’70s. Doctor Strange would send Captain America back in time to stop the assassination.

Fury would be portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson in Jheri curl. He still has two good eyes, but he’ll lost one by the end of the movie. Cap would have few but important lines; Samuel L. Jackson would do most of the talking.

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To get to Fury, Cap would need to hook up with hookers, nuns with guns, and sexy spies. Expect lots of T&A and few glimpses of untrimmed hair because this is the ’70s! Cap’s magic shield wouldn’t work in this movie; he has to do a lot of heavy action scenes and sweaty bed scenes without CGI, green-screen, shaky cam and frantic editing.

There would be a scene where SHIELD’s Agent Skye shows Cap her voluptuous… vinyl collection. And Cap would unsheathe and play her delicate… Delfonics LP. Off-screen, she’d be heard whispering OMG’s ever so softly.

The assassin’s identity would be revealed as Cap, Fury, and Skye find themselves on the wrong end of a brutal fight. Cap would do the ultimate sacrifice to save Fury. (Cap dies during climax.) The assassin would escape through a time portal created by Doctor Strange.
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Epilogue: Present day. Bucky opens the door and enters his apartment, groceries on both hands. He finds Fury waiting inside with gun aimed at him.

Bang! Bucky’s hit between the eyes and falls on the floor.

A rodent crawls across the window.

Roy Buchanan’s “Sweet Dreams” fades in. Black screen. Credits.

Logan (James Mangold, 2017)

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I don’t get this bias towards serious comic book movies. A movie has some convincingly Oscar-worthy drama, then all of a sudden it’s the best comic book movie since The Dark Knight. People heap praises on these two movies yet no one bothers to mention Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan’s subdued superhero drama and follow-up to his more popular debut The Sixth Sense. Why cream your pants over Logan and not Deadpool? When Deadpool had more success at being irreverently funny than Logan did with its sob story. Don’t get me wrong, Logan is a fine movie. It probably has the most memorable portrayal of both Logan and Charles Xavier in all of X-Men movies. Logan’s old, resigned, half the beast he used to be while Xavier’s annoying, old, and sick, which makes him more dangerous. And I liked the dynamics between these two characters (the plot concerning the young mutants, not so much); like in the scene where Xavier needs to take a leak. And with a little detour, it is able to give what should have been the true essence of every X-Men movie—humans and mutants—which made the movie for me. But the movie’s really about X-23, old man Logan, and their kind of forced father-daughter drama, and those other young mutants—it is more than OK, but nothing to get too crazy about.

Doctor Strange (Scott Derrickson, 2016)

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I’ve Seen Stranger Things

Like Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, Stephen Strange went to Asia looking for the cure (unbeknownst to the former doctor, the band resides in England—y’know, Three Imaginary Boys, 1979). Unlike Christian Bale’s Wayne, Benedict Cumberbach’s Dr. Strange has a slick sense of humor (“Just Wong?… Like Adele… Or Aristotle? Drake? Bono? Eminem…”) He didn’t find the cure (but later encountered their black-eyed goth followers). Instead, he got into the world of sorcery, or in his ex-girlfriend’s words, he joined a cult. Just like this movie joining the cult of fairly entertaining but underwhelmingly average MCU movies.

At the outset, the movie looks impressive (i.e., architectural wonders folding and unfolding like clockworks). Marvel definitely put their money where their mouth is—that is, on SFX, bold and capital. Still, Doctor Strange isn’t the Ditko/Kubrick/Miyazaki/The Matrix mind-trip Kevin Feige said it needed to be.  Ditko, sure, a li’l bit from The Matrix and a lot from Inception, minus the well established logic of the latter and the Wachowskis’ stylish kung fu mix. In short, it looks different from all other MCU movies. Yet, for some reasons, it also feels and looks the same—it’s lightweight, jokey, and heavy on CGI.

Doctor Strange isn’t as mind-bending as Kevin Feige thought it should be. Why? Because it takes more than fancy 3D eye candy to be truly mind-bending. It never quite absorbs you into its world in the same way The Matrix and Inception do. In comparison, Thor’s rough sketch of the Tree of Nine Realms was more interesting—yes, it sounds BS—but at least that movie understands no one’s supposed to take it seriously.

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But they got Doctor Strange’s character right. Tilda Swinton, who anchors the movie’s more serious moments, disappears into her character as expected. Rachel McAdams, who plays Strange’s ex-lover, is just lovely and fun to watch—too bad she’s underused in the movie. Continue reading “Doctor Strange (Scott Derrickson, 2016)”

Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn, 2010)

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With great firepower comes great kick-ass finale

Damon Macready (Nicholas Cage) was a good cop out to get NY kingpin Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong)—who in turn framed him for drugs and got him incarcerated. Macready lost everything while in prison, save for his little girl—thanks to his buddy Sgt. Marcus Williams (who showed up in the movie for a few minutes just to read Macready’s first graphic novel and reveal what this movie is all about: Macready’s revenge). Of course, Macready has since returned. This time as the masked vigilante known as Big Daddy. Big Daddy together with Hit-Girl a.k.a. his now 11-year old daughter Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz), are on to destroying D’Amico once again. They’re no super-heroes; they’re only out for blood.

Elsewhere, there’s Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his friends wasting time geek-talking about superheroes—how no one’s attempted to wear the mask and fight crime in real life. When Dave finally decided to don the green unitard and take on the streets, the results ranged from “nothing happens” to downright bone-crushing. In other words, he got his own ass handed to him a few times. And then he went viral and eventually conquered MySpace. (MySpace, of course, would eventually lost to Facebook, as can be seen in David Fincher’s brilliant Mark Zuckerberg movie, The Social Network.)

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I can make my own graphic novel out of screenshots from this movie!

On the side, there’s Lyndsy Fonseca as Katie Deauxma, the requisite (not that I’m complaining) love interest, Dave’s long-time crush and Kick-Ass‘s own MJ (an improvement over Spider-Man‘s Kirsten Dunst). Continue reading “Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn, 2010)”

Ant-Man (Peyton Reed, 2015)

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The Top Secret World of Ant-Man

I kept thinking. That this could have been funnier like Shaun of the Dead. That this could have been geekier like Scott Pilgrim. That there could have been more inventive fight scenes—had Edgar Wright stayed to finish what he started. Just take Luis’ (Michael Peña) crafty way of telling his stories, for example, or the many times where Ant-Man fights, shrinks and puffs up—all of which could have been much much more engaging with Wright at the helm. I was thinking of things Marvel could have done to address this issue—this lack of panache on the director’s end. Perhaps, they should have made poor Scottie steal some sugar cubes like Arrietty and her Dad in that Ghibli movie. And made this a heartwarming children’s movie. Or better, made him watch Ms. Marvel (Brie Larson) while she . . . she . . . wait, she isn’t even introduced yet in this universe, so that would not be possible.

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What we got is a movie that follows the basic premise of Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man (a version of the movie that, sadly, we’ll not be able to see). Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man and a scientist who distrusts Howard Stark (and by extension Iron Man and his cohorts), wants to pass the torch to a protege. And that protege is Scott Lang, a well-meaning thief, an ex-con who needs to secure a job for his young daughter Cassie. And it’s also a heist film that has Lang and lots and lots of ants break and enter a highly secured facility to “steal some shit”. And of course he has to fight the villain Darren Cross, who’s easily the most convincing bad guy in the Marvel universe (he turned one co-worker into a sushi earlier in the movie, in a scene probably inspired from the original RoboCop).

But that’s only half the movie, more or less. The other half is what Peyton Reed, Adam Mckay and Paul Rudd, contributed to the script: the music, Luis’ tip montage, Falcon, Quantum Realm, adding more of Hope Van Dyne in the story, and streamlining the whole movie to make it more fit to the pre-existing bigger story. Allegedly, all this in lieu of the crazier stuff, the more far out ideas Wright and Joe Cornish had originally. Still, the movie ends up like a B-side—disconnected but not totally unrelated—to all the towering destruction from all the other Phase Two movies. Which only adds to the disappointment—that we didn’t get to see the crazier stuff—given this wouldn’t have much impact on either the crossover or the other standalone series. Continue reading “Ant-Man (Peyton Reed, 2015)”

Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)

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Ms. Marvel

Near the end of Wonder Woman, I couldn’t help but think of that hapless lady, who found Diana Prince hiding behind the shrubbery, and subsequently gave her dress to her. I wonder what happened to her. Or in case she’s well and alive, how would she explain to her friends, what happened there in the woods.

Of course, the whole thing happened off screen. After that, we see Diana enter the party in a long blue dress, the god-killer sword concealed behind her back. And this was after Diana was told that she “can’t do this, can’t do that”, for the nth time—with Steve Trevor and the rest of team leaving her alone in the woods. Some found this empowering, that throughout the movie, she does what she needs to do and not what she’s told, and the fact that this was helmed by a female director. While some noted the total absence of male gaze, totally refreshing. Me, I was ready to revamp my top ten superhero movie list. Was already thinking which among a number of movies—Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, and Deadpool—should go down a notch or two.

Did I just make it sound like Wonder Woman is really an awesome movie? In parts, yes, it is awe-inspiring—more than some of the more popular superhero movies (i.e., The Avengers, Civil War, The Dark Knight). The other time Diana was told she can’t do something—that she can’t save those people caught in the crossfire—I literally had to pick both my heart and jaw up from the floor. Continue reading “Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)”

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Is the Joss Whedon Sequel We Never Had

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Before The Avengers became Marvel’s biggest hit (to the tune of $1.5B), Joss Whedon was asked about making Avengers 2 and gave his thoughts on what makes a better sequel. He said that the sequel should go smaller, more personal, instead of just repeating what worked in the first. Then came Avengers: Age of Ultron—it’s not quite the kind of sequel Whedon said he’d like to make.

(Presses fast-forward button…)

Marvel’s favorite A-holes are back.

From the opening title sequence, where they fight the Abilisk to the tune of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” (yes, an expanded version of Star-Lord’s “Come And Get Your Love” number from the first) to the moment Ego reveals himself to be Peter Quill’s father, the Guardians have managed to be the two things we love about them: being the “heroes” they are now known after the Battle of Xandar; and minutes later, the bunch of assholes they were known for before saving Xandar. First, they save the Sovereign the trouble of fighting a giant squid-like battery-munching monster; then on the next, they fight among themselves, crash their own ship, insult, offend and eventually, earn the wrath of High Priestess Ayesha and the rest of the Sovereign—the same people whose precious batteries they have just “saved”.

They’re just being themselves, I guess. Compared with the Avengers’ banter-heavy work-like team dynamics, the Guardians’ we’re-a-happy-family kind of shit (a Ramones reference, by the way) is, just on another level—of crazy. For them, doing the right thing, saving the world or saving one’s own ass isn’t always top priority. They’ll do it for the money, sure, or in exchange for something valuable. Sometimes, it’s just for the simple “Fuck it, we’re the Guardians of the Galaxy, bitch” reason. And that’s probably why Drax was dangling from outside the Milano, during one of the space battles—just like Han Solo in Air Force One. They’re erratic and unpredictable, and unfortunately for you, Andromedans, they’re the savers of your galaxy.

And that’s the primary reason James Gunn loves these characters so much. Or is it the other way around? That Gunn loves them so much that’s why… Nevermind. There’s definitely a lot of love going on here—in the movie and in making this movie. So much that Gunn made Vol. 2 just like the first—only in reverse. Less on saving the world and McGuffins, more on the characters and their backstories—expanding them, revealing hidden lines, connecting the dots.

Awesome Mix Vol. 2 takes the same dip, highlighting obscure titles and Gunn’s personal favorites in as much as the hits. If the first sounds like some hipster mix-tape you play in front of friends so you’d look cool, the new set is truly your parents’ music. They’re the songs you listen to when you’re alone and misses the times when you’re still small, being with your folks, playing with your He-Man action figures, and the songs your parents love, were playing in the background. It’s kind of sad and beautiful… Like a picnic in the park, or your family watching The Empire Strikes Back at home, on the old Betamax.

Continue reading “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Is the Joss Whedon Sequel We Never Had”

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Gavin Hood, 2009)

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When it comes to the worse Marvel-based movies, the B-grade X-Men Origins: Wolverine is easily among the front-runners. As a comic-book movie, Wolverine is one serious offender. It has no regards for a lot of things: the first X-Men movie (where Sabretooth appeared), the Weapon X series, the other X-Men characters (i.e., Gambit, Deadpool). But outside its irreverence, is a somewhat tightly constructed B-movie (particularly the first half) that knows its own thrills. If you think about it, the story was nothing more than a silly excuse to get Logan in Wolverine-mode. As a low budget action movie (they didn’t even bother to get back Brian Cox to play Stryker), it actually works—kind of. While there are still plenty to ask for in Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine (he’s too soft, too pretty), at least his own movie is so bad—ass; not only does it cut its ties with both comics and other X-Men movies with ease (talk about the script’s adamantium quality), it also almost killed and forever shut-up the one exciting character that Fox has: the snarky anti-hero known as Merc with a Mouth.

The Punisher (Jonathan Hensleigh, 2004)

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There are a few things in The Punisher that I wish were part of a totally different movie. The movie’s white on black title sequence and score was perfectly fitting. Thomas Jane, who did look the part, was almost perfect as Frank Castle; only ruined by the movie’s hackneyed script, inconsistent tone and ho-hum set pieces. There’s the guitar playing assassin named Harry Heck (who turns out to be a really slow shooter) and the car chase and fight sequence that started in the diner which had glimpse of suspense that’s quite elusive for the rest of the film. The big fight with Russian that ended in the kitchen, could have been a riot if the parts where his neighbors lip-sync and dance to an opera song had been cut. Frank Castle getting beaten to a pulp by a bigger opponent was already funny enough. And of course, Rebecca Romijn.

Of course, all of the above weren’t enough to save the movie. As a supposedly throwback to the gritty crime-action movies of the ’70s, The Punisher‘s got the look and feel partially right, but doesn’t have the weight to begin with. In the comics, the mob killed Frank Castle and his family because they witnessed a hit. It was senseless violence; they were just collateral damage. In the movie, it isn’t like that, The Saints are just settling the score. Thomas Jane is good as Punisher, too bad the movie his in, sucks.

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Rants/Raves: Top 10 Superhero Movies

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Spider-Man 2 (2004). In the comics, later in the story, it is revealed that Aunt May knew all along that Peter is Spider-Man. That she secretly knew his secret. That this is hinted at in the movie, is one of those little things that made this adaptation great. That Aunt May is given her own kick-ass moment, teaming up with Spidey to beat Doc Ock, is another. Of course, there’s the great train sequence, the bank heist, Doc Ock’s Evil Dead moment, and don’t forget, J.K. Simmons as the blustering  J. Jonah Jameson.

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Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008). This is one visually stunning film. The troll market is a hoot. The fate of the last forest god is both tragic and beautiful. On top of that, the film’s main conflict isn’t just simplistic good vs. evil—Prince Nuada has good reasons to break the truce. Remember the part where they drink beer and sing along to Barry Manilow? Yeah, this movie’s quite funny too.

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Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014). It’s a good mix of action, comedy and drama—not over serious but not just mindless fun either. From the opening song and dance number down to the other song and dance numbers before and mid-credits, this movie about a band of misfits saving the world is a winner! And probably the danciest superhero movie of all. The best MCU movie? Yes—beats The Avengers by a hair and way way better than Civil War.

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Batman Returns (1992). Tim Burton isn’t much about inventive fight scenes than he is about texture, the elaborate Gothic sets, the quirky and oftentimes grotesque characters. What it does lack in action, it makes up with style and wit (i.e., Penguin’s weaponized umbrella, Selina Kyle’s taser-kiss). Add to that the deliciously insane script and the great cast—Danny De Vito, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfieffer—and you got the best adaptation of the Caped Crusader’s plight.

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Spider-Man (2002). Compared to more recent movies, this may seem a little too straightforward now—more like a comic book primer, a one-shot. But that’s only because it is the prototype, which others would later try to improve on. Some movies upped the action (Kick-Ass), some, the comedy (Deadpool) but Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, where Peter Parker learns that “with great power comes great responsibility”, remains the all around better origin movie.

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The Avengers (2012). After two Hulk movies that were just okay, here’s that Hulk movie we all really need. I remember not being so excited about this before it came out. That all the movies that lead to this movie were just okay—the talky Iron Man sequel, Cap’s WWII origin and Thor‘s uneventful Asgard—was enough for me to lower my expectations. Thus, seeing the Earth’s mightiest in one awesome movie—thanks to Joss Whedon—was such a huge marvelous surprise.

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Deadpool (2016). Merc with a Mouth’s origin story is part Spider-Man redux, part corrective to the atrocious Wolverine origin and the closest a comic-book movie comes to approximating Monty Python and the Holy Grail-type of craziness (though it’s not even close). Green Lantern is quite good as Deadpool and he’s got Serenity‘s feisty muse as his girl next door.

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Kick-Ass (2010). Also known as Big Daddy’s Revenge (With A Little Help From Kick-Ass). Because. It’s all about revenge. And Matthew Vaughn’s stylish action sequence. Never mind the premise; or the first half; or Dave Lizewski’s thought balloons about being a superhero. You’ll forget about them anyway, once you see Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) take on Big Boss Frank D’Amico in a brutal hand-to-hand combat in the movie’s kick-ass finale.

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Super (2010). The genre deconstruction that Kick-Ass hardly was—James Gunn’s pre-MCU superhero black comedy features the pipe-wrench wielding vigilante who calls himself The Crimson Bolt and his far more unhinged side-kick Boltie. It’s dark, funny and gritty. Tired of the family-friendly and passable entertainment from Disney? Or the trying hard to be dark and edgy DC movies? This one’s for you.

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Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (2001). I was one movie short of making this a top ten list. So I thought of another movie which I really like. Then, I remembered this—Kevin Smith’s movie about Jay and Silent Bob going to Hollywood to stop the adaptation of Bluntman and Chronic into the big screen. It’s trashy and amateurish, which is typical of Smith’s movies. A must-see if you’re a fan of Smith’s.

Captain America: Civil War (The Russo Brothers, 2016)

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‘Civil War’ should have ended with that mid-movie orgy, not with the Tony-Cap-Bucky threesome.

Captain America: Civil War finds the Earth’s mightiest heroes split in two. One led by Captain America and the other headed by Iron Man—two evenly matched teams going head-to-head in a mid-movie battle seemingly inspired by the opening sequence of the X-Men cartoons from the ‘90s. While Iron Man got Spider-Man, Captain America’s team is the more exciting one, with Wanda, Hawkeye and Ant-Man on his side. Still, this doesn’t make it significantly more interesting than the other similarly themed summer flick from DC, especially when most of the superheroes left to team up with either Cap or Tony, are the predictably dull side characters in the Marvel Universe—War Machine, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Vision and a likewise banal newcomer in Black Panther.

I thought we should at least have Nick Fury in the middle, make him give long Tarantino-esque monologues that would illuminate why Cap and Tony were on different sides. (Looks like Tony is just jealous because Cap’s got a new boyfriend and he’s got no one else since Pepper left him.) Also, they could have given Agent 13 more screen presence this time, because honestly, they couldn’t make Black Widow any more alluring and her signature takedown gets tiring already. Another thing, the camera tends to get too shaky during her fight scenes—actually, most of the fight scenes, not just those with Black Widow.

Captain America: Civil War starts with The Avengers foiling a terrorist attack somewhere in Africa. They were able to retrieve the biological weapon from the terrorists, but not without collateral damage—something they might have avoided, if only Vision wasn’t so busy in the headquarters kitchen. So Tony Stark has to do a Bruce Wayne this time; taking fall for the death of innocent people when they tried to save the world from Ultron. Captain America, on the other hand, just can’t afford to lose Bucky for the third time, even if his disagreement with Stark could lead to Civil War.

Of course, it didn’t. No Civil War, just a smaller version of Mark Millar’s serial, which has twelve superheroes fighting each other in Leipzig/Halle Airport. With Hawkeye just being funny, delivering one-liners in between punches; Ant-Man getting inside Iron Man’s suit, then later turning into Giant-Man; and Spider-Man throwing banters while webbing up Falcon, sparring with Cap, and swinging around Giant-Man. Then, there’s Elizabeth Olsen, who gives Wanda Maximoff the vulnerability—both emotional and physical—that’s kind of rare in this type of movie. Olsen’s Wanda is both fragile and fierce, like a kitten with special powers, caught in the middle of a slugfest.

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Said airport scuffle is easily the best part of this movie. But since it happens somewhere in the middle, right before the “more” important events are about to unfold, it makes the last third of the movie drag, not just a bit. And I couldn’t even care less, especially after Wanda, Ant-Man and Spidey left off the screen. And I think, it asks too much of its audience when they killed Rhodes. Almost. It’s not like he (almost) died trying to save people. And both teams seem to be having a fun pick-up match just right before that, with Spider-Man referencing Star Wars and Ant-Man asking for orange slices (probably to nurse a massive headache) after he gets knocked down. Unlike the death scene in Joss Whedon’s Age of Ultron, the tone here is just, off.

At long last, the final fight between Cap and Iron Man boils down to Tony doing another Bruce Wayne—as he turns vengeful for the death of his parents. The fight gets a bit clearer near the end—lesser camera movements, lesser cutting but in the same gloomy blue-grayish tone (would have been nice to see Cap’s bright costume contrasting nicely with Iron Man’s metallic gold and red). And in case you forgot, in the pure Marvel tradition of having boring half-villains, this movie also got one: Baron Zemo, who gets to carry out his very complicated plan, just because the plot needs him to.

Again, that airport scene is probably the coolest thing ever…or maybe, just until the next Marvel movie comes.

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Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016)

PhotoGrid_1467207022180Midway through the film’s title sequence, it occurred to me – this could be the Captain Deadpool and the Oily Grail of all comic book and superhero movies! Only, it didn’t turn out to be.

Minutes later, Deadpool segues into the highway scene we’re already familiar with – the one where he jumps into a van full of bad guys who in the hands of the Merc with a Mouth, will soon suffer or die in outrageously violent and sometimes funny ways. From there, Deadpool goes about his origin story through a few flashbacks, encounters the two X-men who would become his sidekicks and then assures the audience that his movie is actually a love story. Much like Peter Parker’s story years before, this is also about a girl – Vanessa, played the very hot Morena Baccarin.

It’s definitely inferior to Spider-Man, but it is also lots of fun. Deadpool is irreverent, self-aware, shockingly juvenile and does with plenty of violence. Our titular character also breaks the fourth wall every once in a while. That said, it still feels lacking and tame in some way as compared to some recent films of the genre. James Gunn’s Super is far crazier; his Guardians of the Galaxy has that one sequence that’s infinitely funnier than anything here (not to mention that it’s followed by a touchingly poignant final battle). In terms of action and violence, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass is more, uhm, kickass – fluid camerawork, great choreography and a boss fight that’s brutal as fuck. And despite Deadpool‘s hard R-Rating, the nudity is of the blink-and-you-miss-it variety. No, exposed butt doesn’t count.

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Okay, Deadpool may not have that many wow moments, but on the plus side, the fight scenes are mostly coherent – better than in any of those Michael Bay atrocities, better than the expertly choreographed, but poorly shot and badly edited fight scenes we saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

For what it is, which is an adequately faithful adaptation of the comics, Deadpool is ultramega OK. “The real heroes here” did a fine job taking from a variety of source materials, putting in the right amount of Deadpool-ness they need and adding their own sensibilities to come up with their own definitive version of the fourth-wall breaking Merc. The result is a film that ticks all the fanboys’ check boxes and hardly strays from the character’s established conventions, which are not quite conventional – at least within the current trend in comic book movie adaptations.

Of all the in-jokes and pop culture references here, his jab at Hugh Jackman/Wolverine is the one I like the most. A character Fox love so much – Wolverine appeared on almost every X-Men movie and pretty much shoved everyone else to the sidelines. And yet, six movies in and Wolverine still has to make one memorable onscreen kill.

Deadpool – 10, Wolverine – 0

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