11 Favorite Moments In ‘Avengers: Endgame’

d5jrseduyaggh2c-1556359124

1. Justine Bieber. That moment when Rocket joked about Captain Marvel’s ever changing haircut. Yup, Captain Marvel is Disney’s attempt at a lesbian superhero. And they still couldn’t spell it out. Where’s your balls Kevin Feige Mickey Mouse? Also, Deadpool did it first. And she has a very cool name: Negasonic Teenage Warhead. By the way, Deadpool is now also Disney—but with balls (hopefully).

2. Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy.” Hawkeye losing his family to the snap, this song, and Tony Stark and Nebula drifting in space set the tone of Endgame‘s first act. It’s also probably a reference to the Iron Man movies which features mostly 70s rock music (AC/DC) on its soundtrack. (On the other hand, the song playing on that scene where Rocket and Hulk goes to Thor’s in New Asgard is The Kinks “Supersonic Rocket Ship,” probably a nod to the GotG movies.)

3. Mungo Jerry. A suspicious employee spots Tony and Cap in an elevator and she described Tony as one having a hippie beard. And she was asked: What kind of hippie beard? Bee Gees or Mungo Jerry? Mungo Jerry, she answered. Tony gets a kind of closure to his daddy issues, but it was kind of meh. Especially, when this song was playing in my head.

4. Iron Maiden. I know, she isn’t called that. I only made that up. But ain’t it cool that Iron Man’s significant other goes by Iron Maiden? Isn’t that so heavy metal? Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised when Pepper Potts in Rescue armor suit appeared in the battlefield (and mildly irritated when I heard someone sitting behind me asking his friends who she is). I never expected that. And it’s good that Pepper has her own kick-ass moment in that overly crowded third act.

5. Hulk takes the stairs. I missed the old Hulk. Endgame kind of reduced Smart Hulk into someone who’s just there to forward the plot: someone who can use and withstand the power of the Infinity Gauntlet. Worse, he was not given a rematch with Thanos. A punch that could sent Thanos flying would have been deeply satisfying. But it didn’t happen. So, I’ll just have this: Hulk takes the stairs and sends Tony Stark flying when he suddenly opens the door.

6. Hail Hydra. Not a big fan of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Still, when Cap entered that elevator full of Hydra agents, I half-expected a repeat of that elevator brawl from the second Captain America movie. But instead of forcing a fight, Cap just whispered the magic word and took the Loki’s scepter from Sitwell. Brilliant.

7. Cap lifts the Mjolnir. This is one of those “Holy Sh*t” moments. Thanos is about to drive the Stormbreaker into Thor’s chest and Cap lifts the Mjolnir and saves the God of Thunder.

8. Avengers… Assemble. Another “Holy Sh*t” moment. Thanos brings his army of darkness and Doctor Strange and Wong sling ring all action figures available in the Marvel shelf and bring them to the battlefield. At long last, Cap’s finally able to complete that phrase he wasn’t able to complete at the end of Age of Ultron.

9. And I… am… Iron Man. I’ll just leave it here while I discreetly pulls some Kleenex from my fanny pack.

10. It’s Been A Long Long Time. Captain America’s ending doesn’t make sense. No, I’m not referring to time travel aspect of that ending. I’m referring to the fact that Bucky played an important role in two Captain America movies while Peggy Carter only mattered in one. Specifically, the last two movies are about Bucky. So, it makes more sense for Cap to go back to the 1940s, save Bucky from Hydra, get married and live their gay (as in happy) ever after. I’m just kidding. That scene where Cap’s dancing with Peggy is perfect in many ways. It’s a perfect conclusion to cap Cap and Peggy’s story.

11. The Big Lebowski or almost every scene with Thor in it. Cap gets the best “hero” moments, Tony Stark gets the most emotional moment. Thor, well, Thor has the best character arc in Endgame. And props to Chris Hemsworth, who, despite the fat suit, is able to give his character enough depth, enough pathos, enough goofy moments to make up for his lack of “hero” moment in the movie’s final third. Here’s hoping we get more of Thor flexing his comedic muscle in the third Guardians movie.

Lebowski-Pipeworks

 

Ranking All MCU Movies from ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Avengers: Endgame’

avengers (2)

Endgame is over now. Thank you, Tony Stark, you’re the one who started it all. In a cave. In Afghanistan. Back in 2008. It was that long ago. If you could still remember, there were two big comic book movies in 2008. and if I have to pick between the two, for me, Iron Man is 2008’s comic book movie of the year.

2008 is the year when two billionaire-playboy get to don the suit. One’s a smarmy genius, who almost got himself killed but was crafty enough to escape, then had changed of heart—his shrapnel-threatened heart—changed his ways and made himself a gold and red armor. The other “playboy” wears a decidedly darker suit, humor imbalanced, probably a sociopath, and a bit slow-footed to make convincing Ninja moves—y’know, like, disappearing in the dark, or throwing knives.

While The Dark Knight definitely took more risks, thus, has more balls, I’d say that Iron Man is the—slightly—better movie. In TDK, the Joker threatened Gotham with murder in order to get the hero out of his cowl, but in Iron Man, breaking the “superhero rules” is the ultimate punchline. And at least, in that sense, Iron Man was more ballsy than Batman. Batman revealing his identity to public was a big plot point in TDK, and Iron Man subvert that by having Tony Stark announce to the world: I am Iron Man.

A lot people thought they saw the future of comic book movies in The Dark Knight: gritty, grounded, dead-serious, sprinkled very little humor (despite having a main character dressing up as a bat, which in itself, is silly). Iron Man was actually the future of comic book movies. As it’s obvious now with Disney/Marvel’s lopsided victory over WB/DCEU. In a sense, TDK is the exception, not the rule.

Could we go to the ranking now? Well, I’ve done this before. There were a few changes since then, some updates, movements. Otherwise, some things never change.

 

hulk (3).png

22. The Incredible Hulk (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.

Do I want to re-watch this? Nope. But if I really have to, I’m going to watch it for Tim Roth and Edward Norton and tune out the big CGI fight near the end. It’s not an abomination, this big CGI fight—but it has the Abomination.

 

blackpanther2

21. Black Panther (2018). This movie just gets worse the more I think about it. I mean, good job Marvel, for telling us that the one who wants to help the oppressed should be the villain and the hero’s the one who wants to keep the status quo. Killmonger should be the hero, Black Panther, the villain. Plot twist: Black Panther’s a covert CIA agent. That would have made sense. Even if we ignore that, the action scenes are just boring. And on top of that, there’s one bad CGI fight near the end, which is an abomination.

Do I want to re-watch this? Nope. If you take away the “African-ness” of it all, the story’s actually pretty generic. And I can’t remember any memorable scene in this movie that I’d want to go back to. You know what, I’d rather re-watch Coach Carter, Blade, Blade II—even Blade: Trinity—than to re-watch this middling mega-blockbuster from Disney.

 

captain-marvel-1-e1556717779124.jpg

20. Captain Marvel (2019). I appreciate how they tried to “re-mix” the Marvel formula for superhero origin story, despite the mixed results. And while Carol Danvers proved to be a big help to the Avengers, storytelling-wise, an overpowered superhero is a liability. Just notice how she was sidelined for much of Endgame. Otherwise, she would have solved most of their problems easily. I like the Skrulls though, and Ben Mendelssohn, he’s terrific.

Do I want to re-watch this? Don’t you think it’s too soon for that?

 

spideyhome (2)

19. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker is a perfect middle ground for those who find Tobey Maguire too dorky and those who find Andrew Garfield too dicky. Pete trying to master his superpowered suit (not superpowers, mind you) is quite a bop, but his superheroic fights, not quite blitzkrieg. A more appropriate title: The Self-Serving Spider-Man.

Do I want to re-watch this? Not really. I’ll just play the Blitzkrieg Bop sequence on YouTube and maybe re-watch Spider-Man 3 instead.

 

tws

18. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). Sure, it’s action-packed, implausible, and over-edited Bayhem-style. Shield-wielding Jack Ryan on steroids meets cybernetic Jason Bourne in a “political thriller” that’s loaded with frantic action and massive explosions but short on actual thrills.

Do I want to re-watch this? I know some peoples’ ovaries or testicles explode at the sight of Sebastian Stan or Winter Soldier’s metal arm or cool Captain America unlocked. But not me. Not me. The masochist in me would rather watch the shaky cam-fest that is The Bourne Ultimatum. Or better, I’d just watch action movies with real balls, like The Raid, or Scott Adkins’ Ninja 2 or Hard Target 2.

 

civil1-e1509443141729.png

17. Captain America: Civil War (2016)This should have ended with that mid-movie orgy, not with the Tony-Cap-Bucky threesome. Despite its supposed depth, the plot’s one big excuse to break the Avengers apart as it forgoes the most sensible thing friends do to settle dispute: Talk.

Do I want to re-watch this? Just the parts with Wanda, Paul Rudd/Ant-Man, Spider-Man, and Aunt May in it. And, yes, that mid-movie fight.

 

amaw

16. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018). Two Wasps and two Giant-Man’s couldn’t lift this movie above “pretty decent.” It’s twice bigger than Ant-Man but half the thrills, half the fun of the original.

Do I want to re-watch this? Maybe. For the sight gags. And Luis. And that truth serum. Oh, it’s not truth serum.

 

ironman2

15. Iron 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.

Do I want to re-watch this? Yup. Because I can’t remember much of this movie.

 

strange.png

14. Doctor Strange (2016). Not 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 latter’s dream within a dream logic and the Wachowskis’ stylish kung fu mix.

Do I want to re-watch this? Maybe just the hospital fight scene, with Rachel McAdams. Otherwise, I’d just go see the Doctor Strange in Ragnarok and Infinity War.

 

thor.png

13. Thor (2011). Maybe it’s this: Norse gods, comic book movie, and Shakespeare just don’t mix too well. However, Kenneth Branagh’s mystical drama and canted camera angles didn’t all go to waste as movie hits the mid-high notes when Thor descended onto Earth. The second act also has the movie’s best fight sequence: Sif, The Warriors Three, and an initially hammer-less Thor versus the Destroyer

Do I want to re-watch this? Just did, recently. And it’s pretty good but only up to the point when Thor regains his hammer and his worthiness and sends the Destroyer flying.

 

ac18

12. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Joe Johnston brought his Rocketeer aesthetic into an alternate 1940s giving it a frozen in amber quality. However, Cap’s journey from the skinny undersized soldier with a huge heart to the beefcake super soldier with undersized shirt, is just a little bit more than plain information dump (Cap was once a mascot, he once worked with Stark’s father, he’s still a virgin). And I wish there were more scenes with Cap and Agent Carter together, much much more than that last minute kiss. And the ending would have been more heartbreaking.

Do I want to re-watch this? Maybe not. But if there’s going to be a new movie with Cap and Agent Carter in it, I might be interested.

 

iron3 (3).png

11. Iron-Man 3 (2013). A turd of a third act, but mostly fun ride. Shane Black fucks with the fanboys by making the Mandarin a bumbling idiot. Stark without the suit is refreshing, kind of remedies the excesses of the first sequel, only to revert to the same problem in the end.

Do I want to re-watch this? Probably. There are some genuinely fun moments. Like when Iron Man saves those people from the plane.

 

thor2.png

10. Thor: The Dark World (2013). Step-brothers and arch-enemies get to do more in this sequel. So does Natalie Portman—sadly, in her last appearance as Jane Foster. Thor was dumb enough to think he can destroy the Aether with his hammer. So was this movie. Dumb fun.

Do I want to re-watch this? Definitely. Especially from the moment Loki helped them escape to that part Thor had to take the subway. This also makes Thor’s reunion with his mother doubly sad. He knows she’s gonna die, is tempted to tell her and save her. But Frigga knew what’s best. Just like all mothers. And after you re-watch this and Endgame, I’m sure it will make you wanna hug your mother too when you come home.

 

ageultron

9. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Not quite the sequel Joss Whedon wanted to make. A little loose, a little deeper, a lot bigger than the first. It is not without its flaws, but the better parts outweighs the bad.

Do I want to re-watch this? Yes. Just did recently. Still love the witty banter, Elizabeth Olsen. Still cried for Quicksilver. And if we don’t have that Mjolnir lifting contest in this movie, Cap wielding the Mjolnir in Endgame wouldn’t have been sweeter.

 

ragnarok2

8. Thor: Ragnarok (2017). More outrageous, if less heartfelt than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ragnarok is laugh-out-loud fun with Hulk vs. Thor as its centerpiece, Cate Blanchett as Hela, and those two fight scenes that burns Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” for fuel.

Do I want to re-watch this? Maybe. It was really hilarious the first time but I don’t think it’s funny and re-watchable as, say, Deadpool 2 or as memorable as the Guardians movies. That Led Zep sequence, very iconic tho.

 

cap

7. Avengers: Endgame (2019). Funny how Infinity War has all the sex, and Endgame, the sequel/season finale/Episode XXII, has all the unintentionally funny, badly acted prelude. You know, the part where the actors still have their clothes on, and they try to act, the scene where the guy meets girl and suddenly their situation calls for them to have 100% pornographic sex? That’s what the opening third of Endgame is like. The “time heist” is like the foreplay, licking, eating, etc. And don’t ask about the final third. I bet, 90% of those who love this movie hasn’t seen porn–good porn–yet. And that their high opinion about this movie will surely change once they see the real thing.

Do I want to re-watch this? Are fuckin’ kidding me? No one says NO to porn, even superhero porn. Definitely yes.

 

ant1

6. Ant-Man (2015)Small movie, small hero, big heart—or at least a heart that’s relatively big for an ant. It’s a movie about “families” and therefore a family movie—minus the adult-oriented jokes of . . . Guardians of the Galaxy.

Do I want to re-watch this? Yes. Mainly for jokes, care of Paul Rudd and Michael Pena. And those memorable size-shitfting scenes: Ant-Man dodging bullets while running on a scale model; Ant-Man and Yellow Jacket fighting inside a brief case while The Cure’s Disintegration plays on an IPhone; Ant-Man hanging on the edge of a vinyl, Luis passing out when he saw Ant-Man, etc.

 

infinity

5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018). This movie, is nothing but pure pornography. With minimum falling & rising action, constantly tensed, fake moans, grunts, and all, Infinity War is seemingly in a state of constant climax. There are some funny banter, but the movie mostly rushes through its plot that it couldn’t wait for the jokes and emotional moments to land, except when it comes to Drax’s and Quill’s really good plan.

Do I want to re-watch this? Yes. And probably, back to back with Endgame.

 

gotg2

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017). It’s bigger, brighter, crazier than the first, but also—heavier, deeper. Not a step down but a step into the right direction. A fun tearjerker that could reduce you to tears while these A-holes tries to save the universe.

Do I want to re-watch this? Rocket always cry at end of GotG movies. He should have cried at the end of Endgame too. Because he got his family back. He got Groot back. And the girl with antennas. And the rest of the A-holes. Except Gamora. Rewatch? Sure, why not?

 

ironman

3. Iron-Man (2008). This is where it all begun, the Mark I of all Marvel movies. This is where Marvel finally hammers it home. In a cave. In Afghanistan. Tony Stark’s billionaire-genuis-playboy suits Robert Downey Jr. perfectly in the same the way the red and gold weaponized armor suit fits Tony Stark. It could have been near perfect, had it been able to follow up its rock riff-fueled arc with a better climactic fight. Still, that leaves us with a few highlights: that kick-ass sequence where Iron Man saves a family from terrorists in Afghanistan and that crude big black armor suit blasting out of the cave with bad-ass flame throwers!

 

avengers.png

2. The Avengers (2012) Very few things are better than seeing Captain America and Tony Stark working together the first time, seeing the Avengers assemble for the first time. And nothing beats Bruce Banner/Hulk’s most iconic punch-line: “I’m always angry.” Ditto with perfectly orchestrated massive superhero fight in final third. Think of it as Zack Snyder meets Michael Bay city destruction, but better, way way better. Why? Because Joss Whedon knows how to vary multiply divide, shoot and compose iconic, massive, but coherent action scenes. He makes demi-gods bleed and face failure, flesh out their human side instead of the super. He never forgets the audience, the ordinary people caught between the forces fighting. He knows when to throw a punchline, knows when to punch. And most importantly, he knows when to SMASH!

 

gotg

1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Bounty hunters? Check. Space adventure? Check. Awesome soundtrack? Check. Pop culture references? Check. Wait, this isn’t Cowboy Bebop-great but it’s Serenity-good—which is awesome. Going Kevin Bacon to save a planet from imminent destruction? Dance off, bro!

Guardians of the Galaxy is action-packed, heartwarming, and entertaining as hell. All the more impressive considering all these A-holes are based on semi-obscure comic book characters. Which is to say, the Guardians are like your B-side Avengers. Star-Lord is your all-too human, Terran, Captain America from the past, the ’80s kid with a Walkman, Rocket Racoon is the genius, tech savvy and snarky Tony Stark, Groot is the Hulk, and Gamora is your green Black Widow with better characterization, and Drax is, though not exactly like Thor, the muscular comic relief. And Guardians is of those cases where B-side is actually better than the A-side. Not necessarily more popular, but better.

You know what’s better than super egos clashing together and working together to avenge the world? A bunch of misfits, A-holes, losers, working together to save the galaxy. And even if you cried when Iron Man sacrificed himself in Endgame to save everyone, take note that Groot did it first. He sacrificed himself so the rest of the Guardians could finish their mission. You know what his last words were? We are Groot.

gotg.png
Dance off, bro. Me and you.

Avengers: Endgame Is The Super Duper $@%!#& Season Finale of the Year

dolby.jpg

The End Is The Beginning Is The End

Avengers: Endgame isn’t “the best MCU movie or the best superhero movie since (insert your preference here),” but it does what it has to do, “whatever it takes.” Even if that means Endgame makes for an unwieldy, ponderous, pandering, uneven, thrilling ride. It’s a crowd-pleaser and super duper entertaining.

Just like the fanboys/girls are saying, it gloriously caps the 22-movie Infinity Stones Saga and its a fitting swan song, encore, last dance, last hurrah for the OG Avengers, who, more or less, are saying goodbye to the fans after this movie. It’s a massive ending. If the whole of Infinity War is one big climax, Endgame is a false ending, another big climax then denouement.

Note: This will be gluten-free but look out, it’s full of spoilers!

Endgame strikes a perfect chord early on, in an opening scene that’s even more harrowing than Infinity War’s ending. Those deaths at the end of Infinity War didn’t feel too personal, just shocking—until we see Hawkeye loses everyone, everything. It may not be intended as a callback to Infinity War but it is such a painful reminder of Thanos’ entrance in the previous film—yep, the same scene Thor loses both Heimdall and Loki. Even more fitting is the song that transitions that scene to Tony Starks and Nebula stranded in space, Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy.”

Unfortunately, the movie couldn’t keep that tone for the rest of its first act. Without Hawkeye, whom we see experience the snap first hand just a while ago, no one’s really able to channel the anger, the grief, the gravity the Decimation has brought to the world. Except for Tony Stark, who’s anger over Steve Rogers not signing The Accords (which resulted to The Beatles’ break-up), is finally crystallized on screen, a few movies late after Civil War. But he also disappeared after that. So, we’re left with only Cap and Nat to do the emotional heavy lifting.

The movie seems to move on from the Decimation when Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang reappears and propose that they do a “time heist,” steal the stones from past, undo the snap. From post-apocalyptic drama, Endgame turns to what Marvel does best: action comedy. And this where everybody gets an encore, from the Hail Hydra men, The Tilda Swinton, to Agent Carter, Hank Pymm, and Tony’s father, to Star-Lord (“He’s an idiot.”) dancing to “Come And Get Your Love.”

This is also the most fun part of the movie. Loki gets another shot at the “magic cube,” Ant-Man and Tony gets to quip about 2012 Captain America’s ass and present Cap gets to say “Hail Hydra,” probably the funniest and most unexpected punchline of this sequence. Too bad, 2012 Cap still gets weak when he hears the magic word “Bucky.”

But it’s not all that, there’s one mildly poignant reunion between Thor and his mother (but not with Jane Foster) while Rocket gets the Aether. And there’s one emotional scene between Hawkeye and Natasha that probably wouldn’t get tagged as “fridging” (you, hypocrites!) because this isn’t Deadpool 2. Again, fridging or no fridging, I don’t care, it still didn’t feel justified.

And without not spoiling the movie any further, the massive third act comes and turns a bright sunny day into a gloomy overcast. Thanos, Nebula and Gamora go back to the future and make a surprise attack, The Mandarin-style. Yes, it’s a call back to that scene when The Mandarin destroyed Tony Starks’ mansion in Iron Man 3. Then, everyone comes back. But not before Thor, Cap and Iron Man gets to beat the crap out of Thanos. No, actually it’s them who get beaten the crap out of in return.

cap

In terms of action, this movie did just OK, as with the other Russo-helmed Avengers movie. But this third act is so enormous, so gigantic, that it dwarfs anything the Russos (or Gunn or Whedon) have ever done before. Still, it could have been better. There could have been more team effort moments between Tony, Thor and Cap. Despite Captain America’s glorious moments, he still couldn’t hurt Thanos really bad and it’s Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel who were able to do that. Of the three, Captain America (he finally gets to say “Avengers Assemble”) gets the most number of “hero” moments here, maybe because Thor and Iron Man already had theirs in the previous movie.

Remember that massive underwater battle in Aquaman? Forget about that CGI overload, Endgame‘s big battle is better than that in every bit imaginable. Didn’t they tell you they get everyone, I mean every superhero in the Marvel shelf to battle Thanos and his army? I bet Hank Pym and his miniature tanks and hot wheels were also there. Luis and his gang were also there. But their scenes were cut because there were just too many of them. And if you’re one of the guys who complains there are very few superheroes fighting in Civil War, here’s what you’ve been waiting for.

My favorite minor moments: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Iron Maiden going to the rescue, Captain Marvel’s supernova entrance, Giant-Man rolling out Hulk, and Rocket covering Teen Groot from Thanos’ rain ammunition.

Cap proves he’s worthy, Tony gets to pull a “one last one,” but it’s only Thor who actually has a meaningful character arc in this movie. And it’s one about giving up trying to be who he thinks he should be. Hounded by his failure and losses in Ragnarok and Infinity War, Thor chooses to sulk, slouch, just be who he is. It kinda makes for a disappointing character arc if only Chris Hemsworth’s shabby beer-bellied god of thunder isn’t so funny. And for someone known for his jokes in the Avengers movies, Hemsworth’s also quite convincing as someone who couldn’t move on from his past, someone who’s time and time again proven not to be worthy. He stutters, tear up a bit and still draw laughs from the audience.

On the downside, Hawkeye’s still pretty much a side character, Endgame wouldn’t change that. Hulk didn’t get to do another Smash!, and Black Widow, well, it’s high time Marvel do her character justice and make that solo movie fans have been clamoring for for a long long time.

Well, we can’t have it all. Avengers: Endgame may not be a great movie but it’s an excellent ending considering all the things it tried to do. It’s also the biggest, grandest, emotional season finale all Marvel fans could ever wish for.

black widow

Oh, and that ending. Love that Kitty Kallen song.

MCU Recap: Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and The First Avenger

iron

Iron-Man (2008). This is where it all begun, the Mark I of all Marvel movies. This is the movie where Marvel–after deciding to make their own movies based on characters they haven’t sold yet–finally hammers it home. In a cave. In Afghanistan. Tony Stark’s billionaire-genuis-playboy suits Robert Downey Jr. perfectly in the same the way the red and gold weaponized armor suit fits Tony Stark. The CGI’s top notch. So is Iron Man’s origin story: Stark’s transformation from an egotistical weapons manufacturer to an egotistical armor-suited do-gooder. For better or worse, this movie has forged Marvel’s formula for superhero origin movie. It could have been near perfect, had it been able to follow up its rock riff-fueled arc with a better climactic fight. Still, that leaves us with a few highlights: that kick-ass sequence where Iron-Man saves a family from terrorists in Afghanistan and that crude big black armor suit blasting out of the cave with bad-ass flame throwers!

hulk (3)

The Incredible Hulk (2008). Say what you want about Ang Lee’s Hulk, that was still better than this movie. Sure, Hulk has more flaws than Marvel’s unincredible remake, but Lee brought something on the table: he made Banner’s origin a tragedy, that’s only resolve by having the son kill his own father. Marvel’s louder rehash only improves on the special effects, the action. The most interesting idea in this movie is that Banner can’t have sex because the Hulk might come out. Liv Tyler’s pretty, but so was Jennifer Connely, and Edward Norton is, well, he’s Edward Norton—all of which were easily forgotten, once Mark Ruffalo showed up in The Avengers. Still, Marvel’s worst is pretty decent when compared to Fox’s Wolverine. No, not The Wolverine, the origin one, the one with Deadpool. No, not Deadpool. Definitely not Deadpool.

iron2

Iron Man 2 (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 and talky Robert Downey Jr. movie. That and Tony Stark literally pissing his iron pants. Iron Man 2 tried to be a Tony Stark soap opera and a typical superhero sequel (all while hinting at the upcoming superhero crossover), it just couldn’t mix the two to the same explosive results as the first movie. Whiplash’s actually a more memorable villain than Obadiah Stane, but his backstory and character motivation was written even thinner than that of Iron Monger.

thor

Thor (2011). Maybe it’s this: Norse gods, comic book movie, and Shakespeare just don’t mix too well. But Kenneth Branagh’s Asgardian drama and canted camera angles didn’t all go to waste as movie hits the mid-high notes when Thor was vanished onto Earth. How did they humanize him? They made him look like a jock wearing flannel and jeans as if he just discovered grunge yesterday (the movie features a song called “Walk” by the Foo Fighters, by the way). It makes for somewhat funny fish-out-of-the-water story, but also earns the movie some level of much needed earnestness. The middle third also has the movie’s best fight sequence. And that would be Sif, The Warriors Three, and eventually a hammer-less Thor versus the Destroyer, which with its crude otherworldly design, is probably the most interesting Marvel villain up to this point. (Also, there’s something about Destroyer’s uncanny design, something that reminded me of T-800 in The Terminator and ED-209 in RoboCop.) Loki? His plan doesn’t make sense. Killing his own father and destroy Jotunheim to earn Odin’s favor? Didn’t he know the reason why Odin took him in the first place? On a second thought, he probably needed to destroy Jotunheim. Because the only way for Thor to stop it, is to destroy the Bifrost. Which also means he won’t be able to see Jane again. Awwww. That is, Thor fighting Loki and Loki dying in the end is so dramatic——ally forced. Talk about being the most contrived ending in all of the Nine Realms!

ac18

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Wonder why I couldn’t like this movie more. It’s well made, has a unique look, the right amount of heart, and nice-looking set pieces and action scenes. Found it boring at first, gave it a second look and found Joe Johnston’s efforts, quite admirable, though still not a knock down punch. Maybe it’s just that the story is predictable. I already knew Cap’s only gonna end up frozen, he’s not gonna die. Could he even get hurt? I’m not sure. Looks like he’s nearly invulnerable. And that’s a major storytelling problem. Thus, he’s journey from the skinny undersized soldier with a huge heart to the beefcake super soldier with undersized shirt, is just a little bit more than plain information dump (Cap was once a mascot, he once worked with Stark’s father, he’s still a virgin, etc., etc.). If there’s one strong reason to watch this movie, it would be Agent Carter. Carter working with Cap, getting jealous with Lorraine, and giving Cap that last-minute kiss somehow made me forget that I’m watching an Avengers/SHIELD prequel. I wished there were more scenes with Cap and Agent Carter together, much much more than that last minute kiss. Some late night “fondue” would have been nice. And the ending would have been more heartbreaking.

Thor’s New Hammer, Iron Man’s Gundam Suit and Other Great Things In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

1743fef1a1b59d59-600x400

Avengers: Infinity War is far from perfect. But then it could have been worse, like The Matrix: Revolutions or Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Good thing it’s more like Back to the Future II. Someone said it should have been a three-part movie. Well, dude’s got a point. Because the storytelling felt rushed. Me, I only wished it was longer. Story-wise, Infinity War is coherent, consistent, but also packed to the gills. It’s too compact. Like, it could have used a few more quieter moment to allow the movie (and us) to breathe and give everything on screen and off screen some time to sink in. It could also use a bit more build up, a few more “hanging moments” to let the punches hit the guts and make the surprising turns really “wow!” But, we can’t have it all, I guess. So let’s just break down the things I like the most about the movie and the things I thought were kinda “meh”. And I’m not gonna complain about all of the deaths being temporary. That’s like complaining that Neo came back to life at the end of The Matrix.

Great:

1) No resurrection this time. How to make a dark Avengers movie? Kill Korg (Taika Waititi) before the movie starts. Y’know, that guy who made that goofy Thor and Hulk movie. Now seriously, that opening sequence is definitely one of the most effective, if not the best, in all Marvel movies. Setting the stakes and the tone early on. Thanos and his death metal band, the Black Order, mean business.

2) Goofy in Knowhere. Thanos knows well his favorite daughter hangs out with disco-loving, galaxy-saving group of oddballs and misfits. Why Thanos didn’t use the Power stone in fighting the Guardians? He probably didn’t want to kill his daughter’s friends. So he tried to be creative and used the Reality stone instead. To make bubbles.

Continue reading “Thor’s New Hammer, Iron Man’s Gundam Suit and Other Great Things In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’”

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Is One Big Superhero Movie Climax

avenger-infinity-war-spidey-iron-man-mantis

Avengers: Infinity War opens with a distress call—actually a massacre, off-screen. And it’s only fitting that after Marvel’s most outrageously hilarious movie comes tragedy. I’m referring to Thor: Ragnarok, of course, which ended with Thor, Loki, Heimdall, Hulk and the rest of the Asgardians aboard The Mastermind’s fancy ship. They all survived Ragnarok—saw Asgard burn to the ground—only to have their refuge cut short by Thanos and his henchmen, the Black Order.

Yes, Avengers: Infinity War takes off right after that Ragnarok stinger. By the way, I remember someone complained that Ragnarok shouldn’t be a comedy, that everyone should have died in the end just like in the comics. My dear friend, you had Thanos’ mercy, your wish has been fulfilled. Are you happy now?

Of course, Infinity War is also, more or less, a direct sequel to Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2—none of which required viewing prior (in case you missed them) except for the last one. Civil War‘s great divide was summed up by Tony Starks with “we’re not in speaking terms”; Spider-Man, who tried so hard to impress Tony only to reject his offer to become an Avenger in the end, now becomes an Avenger; and Killmonger, the most important character in Black Panther, you don’t really need to know to understand this movie.

Continue reading “‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Is One Big Superhero Movie Climax”

2017: Movies & Music Year-end List

Birdshot1-1.jpg

Movies

I missed some pretty big movies this year. Just like the previous year. And the year before that. And the year before the year before that. And the year before the year before… Oh, this could go on forever. By “pretty big”, I mean movies like Blade Runner 2049 and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Or the last Star Wars movie. I also haven’t seen Okja and Get Out yet, smaller movies that definitely deserve no less. But I’ve seen a few films, both big and small.

Among the best reviewed films, I thought Baby Driver and Logan were overrated. So was Wonder Woman. I liked Baby Driver but there’s something lacking. I’m not really sure Logan was better than X-2 or Days of Future Past and I liked Deadpool better for sure. Wonder Woman, I liked for having the right balance between humor and pathos, which most Marvel movies lack, but the last part was just disappointing. Speaking of disappointments, Kong: Skull Island was simply the most disappointing movie I’ve seen this year, mainly for wasting the scenic locations in Vietnam for a generic thrill-less CGI mayhem. Comic book/superhero movies reached a new high in 2017. Of the three movies from Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming was OK and that’s the problem, it’s a merely OK movie. I’ve seen three movies featuring Vin Diesel this year and I thought two of them (xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Fate of the Furious) were a total waste of time.

Listed below, in no particular order, are the ones that made into my “best of” list.

Happy Death Day (Horror, Comedy, 2017)
The Big Sick (Romance, Comedy, 2017)
Tale of Tales (Fantasy, 2015)
Take Me (Comedy, 2017)
Kita Kita (Romance, Comedy, 2017)
Headshot (Martial Arts, Action, 2016)
Westworld (Science Fiction, 1973)
The Mermaid (Fantasy, Romance, Comedy, 2016)
Free Fire (Action, Comedy, 2016)
Logan (Superhero, 2017)
Baby Driver (Action, Crime, 2017) Continue reading “2017: Movies & Music Year-end List”

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

avengers-infinity-war-2018-poster-by-camw1n-dbhwbei-1012733

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 (Edit: They also wrote The Dark World, which I actually liked, but y’know Joss Whedon also had a hand on it). 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 Doctor Strange, 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

tr3

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

avengers (2)

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”