Friday, November 17, 2017

Justice League Review

Warner Bros. and DC Comics have once again managed to produce a film that fans love and critics love to hate. Justice League has finally come after the success of its predecessor, Wonder Woman, and it delivers a punch, but not as powerful. Some saw the debut of the amazon as the turning point for their cinematic universe, but I’m afraid the league still has a few kinks to work out. This film was not as good as Wonder Woman, but I will say this film was a vast improvement from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Justice League is a fun, action packed film that fans of DC comics will enjoy and seems to be a step in the right direction.

The movie is mostly centered around Batman, but the focus of the film was on Superman and how the world fell into chaos after his death. So, instead of an invincible alien, Batman and Wonder Woman decide to recruit Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman to fight an incoming threat. A threat with unmatched power that convinces Batman to take an unexpected risk to bring back Superman and solidify the league. It’s a mission that brings everyone together and creates a powerful, but chaotic bond which happens rather quickly. In the end, there was laughter and applause at the end of the film.

Justice League is probably the most comedic film DC has produced, but still manages to keep its dark tone in certain scenes. The best comedy came in the form of Ezra Miller, who plays the Flash, and arguably steals the show. Seeing Flash run and go through the speed force is one of the coolest moments in the film. Ezra brings a witty and almost nerdish feel to the team that entertains the audience every time he’s on screen. Another debut is Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Ray Fisher as Cyborg.

I loved the warrior look of Jason Momoa and he his performance was great, but Ray Fisher’s performance is blocked by bad CGI that could’ve been done better in my opinion. The other victim of bad CGI was the main villain, Steppenwolf. He was an ok choice to be the main antagonist, but I’m sure DC fans would’ve rather it had been Darkseid, a popular DC villain hellbent on destroying Superman and Earth. My guess is that DC is saving him for hopefully another film. It’s a good action movie that all about what’s happening, but lacks the support beams that explains why it’s happening.

The story overall was decent, but it could’ve been way better if it was longer. For a story that involves so many iconic heroes, you don’t see much of their lives outside of their uniforms. There’s little time to know the characters or see their homes like Atlantis or Central City. I’m guessing that DC will probably come out with an extended cut on Blu-ray like they did with Suicide Squad and Dawn of Justice. This has always been the handicap with films from DC and why they are trailing behind their competition, Marvel Studios.

DC and Warner Bros. make films with the expectation of the audience to already know the characters and their backgrounds. That’s an alright tactic for the fans, but that creates problems for the general audience who may not have in depth knowledge of each character. If they don’t start giving characters proper time to connect with the audience, then critics will keep bashing their movies every time.

Warner Bros. and DC have had a bad run as of late with their films when Zack Snyder was chosen to direct Superman in Man of Steel. That started this issue of dividing fans and critics as the films kept rolling out. Things hit their lowest when the sequel, Dawn of Justice, came out and began to cast doubt on whether to pull the plug or not. Then there was another bomb with Suicide Squad, but then the princess of the amazons came and the rest is history. Luckily DC’s cinematic universe survived long enough to get to this point, but it’s not for lack of unfortunate events that began to worry DC Comics and its fans.

Rumors started to speculate on whether Ben Affleck was leaving Batman behind due to internal struggles with DC. So far, he’s still onboard with the upcoming solo film The Batman, but things could change. The biggest hit was the announcement that Zack Snyder was leaving production early due to a death in the family. Joss Whedon would take over the rest of way; this lead to various reshoots and cuts that began to raise eyebrows. The change in directors midway turned out to be a blessing because Whedon mixed Snyder’s direction with a bit of what Whedon did with Marvel to bring lighter tones to the film.

My heart wants to give this film a perfect ten as a fan of superheroes, but it gets a seven from a neutral point of view. Justice League could be a step in the right direction if it becomes a success financially, but fans are skeptical with good reason. It’s worth your time if you like superheroes, a fan of action movies and know a little about each character. If you only know who the characters are and not their backgrounds, then you’re going to be lost quick. Hoping for the best; because judging from the two post credits, there’s good things on the horizon if Justice League is successful. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thor: God of Thunder

When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor is probably my least favorable character. The past two films have been visually appealing, but lacking in some areas that keeps this hero dragging next to Iron Man and Captain America. That isn’t the case with the third film in this franchise, Thor: Ragnarok. This film took a more drastic turn in order to keep up with other Marvel characters with director Taika Waititi making this a more comedic action film. All of Thor’s previous movies have been action mixed with drama, and some believe that’s what’s been dragging the god of thunder down.

Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, has always seemed like a lost character who was always outshined his arch nemesis, Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. Now things have come full circle as the legendary tale of Ragnarok has arrived. In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is basically the Vikings vision of Armageddon that includes a Midgard serpent that devours the world. Then a fire giant named Surtur will destroy Asgard, the home of the Viking gods. In the film, Ragnarok mostly focuses on the fall of Asgard and the death of the gods.

As the Ragnarok on the rise, Thor must realize his place amongst his people and lead them before the Asgard burns to the ground. Things don’t get any easier for Thor when he realizes a terrible family secret that brings the goddess of death, Hela, at his door. After proving to be no match for her, Thor is exiled to another world and must find his way back before it’s too late. Cate Blanchett, who plays Hela, did an excellent job portraying one of the most dangerous villains in the Marvel Universe. Taika Waititi did her justice by portraying the dark character, but showing a decent backstory to explain her motives.

The film was funny in some areas and the action made the two hours fly, but that’s where one problem reveals itself. Events were happening so fast that it was hard to digest what had just happened with certain characters. The other problem I had with the film was Grandmaster, leader of Sakaar and played by Jeff Goldblum. Sakaar is a savage planet that has significance to Hulk, but that’s a story for another time. The Grandmaster is more annoying than comedic, and could’ve done better if he appeared more serious instead of acting like the creepy uncle.

Thor has more character development in this film than any film before and it’s appropriate considering the stakes. The only problem is some fans of the god of thunder may have a problem with how this series concludes. I was shocked by certain events that took place and I had to wait till after the movie was done to finally digest what happened. Overall, I’m happy with the direction that the film took with the character and this is probably my favorite Thor film out of the three.

I can’t guarantee that some fans of Thor will feel the same because I can guarantee that Thor will never be the same after this film. Making this a film a comedy was probably the best thing that Taika Waititi could’ve done for the franchise and the audience I was with were entertained. This film would’ve been perfect if it was just a little bit longer to give the audience time to digest the events and Grandmaster was redesigned to look more like a world conqueror. This film gets an eight out of ten and there is a mid-credit scene and a post credit scene after the film. Thor will return for the highly anticipated Avengers: Infinity Wars and it’ll be interesting to see how everyone reacts to the god of thunder.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Sequel

Kingsman: The Secret Service went from being an unknown film to a global phenomenon after its release back in 2014. The film would be a big break for star Taron Egerton who plays the main character of the film, Eggsy, and the femme fatale, Sofia Boutella. The overall success of the film came from the fantastic story-telling and star power of actors such as Samuel Jackson, Michael Caine and Colin Firth. The film almost resembled the very elements that made the old Bond films such a success in its day. Spies that must save the world by using out of this world gadgets to survive unique death traps and get the girl in the end.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle delivers the same punch that made the first film a success, but with a special twist. This film takes off sometime after the events of the last film; the Kingsman have regrown after the events of Valentine and the loss of certain Kingsman. Eggsy has moved up and become one of the best agents in the service, but his personal life is beginning to suffer. It only gets worse when an attack cripples the Kingsman and events lead them to find allies from across the seas. It’s an action-packed story full of new gadgets and action sequences that make this two and a half hour film feel shorter.

The story is nothing new; there’s an outlandish plot that threatens the lives of millions and Eggsy is now on a mission to save them all and get the girl. Taron Egerton performed as well as expected by being both comedian and action star. Colin Firth makes a surprising return as Eggsy’s father figure and mentor, Harry. Colin comes off almost like an English Nick Fury, but without the loud voice and the harsh leadership. The best addition to the Kingsman franchise is the main antagonist, played by Hollywood icon, Julianne Moore.

While it first comes off as corny, she immediately turns into the pharmacist from hell with a sadistic plot and disturbing sense of nostalgia. There are other additions such as Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum; their parts were short, but sweet. Halle Berry makes a surprise entrance in the film as her organization’s lead analyst and technical support. There’s other surprises in store for the audience and we’ll leave it at that. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the perfect fall movie that’s guaranteed to end the month with a profitable outcome.

This film gets a nine out of 10, because this film gives fans of the original everything they loved about the first one. Julianne Moore was a fantastic villain and the action is a fast-paced thriller that makes the film feel shorter. However, I don’t think there needed to be so many high-priced actors in roles that could’ve been done by others, but it could be used to make a spinoff or use for another sequel. Plus, there were some moments in the film that felt dragged out and could’ve been cut from the final print. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a spectacular film that lives up to what fans love about the first film and I can’t wait until the next film. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Destiny Reclaimed!

Bungie has come a long way since breaking away from Microsoft and their groundbreaking series, Halo. When they developed their new game Destiny back in 2014, it was clear that Bungie hadn’t lost its touch when it comes to creating a unique first person shooter experience. Destiny 2 delivers that same experience that will bring veterans deeper into the universe they’ve been accustomed with for three years. For people who are new to the Destiny universe, you may need to be brought up to speed, but that’s a minimal concern. This anticipated game delivers all the goods and goes beyond with new additions that better the gameplay.

For those who haven’t touched Destiny, here’s the quick rundown to help you understand this critique. Destiny revolves around a single guardian that can be one of three classes: Titan, Warlock and a Hunter. You can choose from various races and have options to choose other skin tones, facial scars, etc. Once you’ve selected, you’re brought to life by a machine called a Ghost that has the ability to resurrect you. This is because in the long future, mankind is brought to the brink of extinction until the arrival of an entity called The Traveler.

The Traveler brings it’s “Light” that brings forth a golden age until the light brings the attention of several threats. Three individuals known as the Vanguard, assemble a legion of protectors known as guardians to combat these threats.  I’ll end it there, so if you want to know more, then buy Destiny and it’ll only be a couple of bucks right now. This game takes off some time after the events of the expansion Age of Triumph and a new threat has brought the fight to the Vanguard’s front door. Ghaul, the leader of the Cabal empire which was introduced in the first game and has a deep understanding of the traveler.

The attack leaves the guardians without the ability to resurrect and it quickly cripples the Vanguard. This begins a new journey for your guardian to reclaim the light and retake the city that’s occupied by the Cabal. You’re taken to various worlds where you will reunite with old enemies that you may or may not like. The story is my favorite by far, next to The Taken King because it shows the guardians in a state never seen before. The ending of the game promises to close the door on some chapters and open a new one after the credits; that is something you don’t want to miss.

The game pays incredible attention to detail when it comes to the various planets and the villains you face both new and old. Water on one world looks more realistic, enemies have actual shields around them instead of just a glowing background, and the new powers are attractive. For veteran players who may not know, you have to beat the game in order to do the strikes, nightfall and crucible. My favorite feature about Destiny 2 is you don’t have to go to the tower every day to get new bounties because they’re posted automatically when you go to different worlds. I don’t have a high enough light level to play the nightfall which is 240, so I can’t comment on that.

Old enemies are given a makeover to look more realistic, especially if you have a Playstation Pro or Xbox One S and a 4k television. Engrams are easier to gain; Engrams are items that drop randomly from accomplishing missions and killing enemies. There’s different levels depending on the engram. It’s also a lot easier to go places both on a planet or switching to a new planet with the directory option. Bungie learned a lot from the flaws of the last game and has found a lot of ways to cut time, so gamers can keep playing. I can honestly say there’s nothing bad I found with the sequel to Bungie’s masterpiece.

I give this game a 9.5 out of 10 because of the lack of backstory for new gamers. Personally, this game is perfect in my opinion if you’re a fan of Destiny or first person shooters. The graphics are top notch, the gameplaying is faster, the missions are fun, the story is fantastic, and there’s much to look forward to in the future with D.L.C. expansions. If you’re a veteran, then you won’t be disappointed with the next chapter in Bungie’s Destiny Universe. If you’re a newbie, then buy this game and enjoy the experience that only Bungie can provide.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

IT Floats!

This is coming from someone who is tired and frustrated from all the remakes and reboots. IT is by far the best remake of a horror movie since Texas Chainsaw Massacre back in 2003. This film succeeds in many areas that make it surpass the original that came out back in 1990 with acting icon, Tim Curry. IT is arguably one of Stephen King’s most famous novels and Tim Curry brought the infamous clown, Pennywise, to life with his performance. Some fans of the original became skeptical when Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Groove) was selected to fill the freaky clown shoes.

IT is a novel about a group of individuals that are being haunted by a mysterious clown that terrifies their town and they must confront it. This film focuses on one part and that’s when the individuals were children in their “Losers Club.” As more and more children disappear, they set out to find out who it is and why it is specifically targeting them in their small town. They soon find that they must conquer their own fears before they can confront the demonic clown that is hell bent on making them the next meal. It’s a two hour and 15-minute film full of suspense that gives fans of the original their money’s worth.

The film also gains more momentum by using CGI to show more of the monster that Pennywise was, and giving more to his illusions to frighten the children. Pennywise outfit didn’t get me too excited, but it works well with this film. The illusions that the children suffered were more eerie and shocking than in the original. The main characters have good chemistry together, but the acting was lacking in one of the children for some scenes. I couldn’t say that I was scared because of the original and the novel, but the music and certain scenes gave me plenty to jump about and people were jumping in the theater.

IT isn’t like most horror films that rely solely on the blood, guts and gore. The use of silence, shock and suspense is key to this film’s success and the director did a good job fitting the music to the motion. The film touches on several issues that face children today like: bullying, isolation and child abuse. The film is left wide open at the end with the expectation that there will be a sequel and I anticipate there will be. This was a packed show and more than half of the audience were clapping when the title showed up at the end.

IT doesn’t fall prey to the disaster that was The Dark Tower, this film gives fans what they truly expect to see from something by Stephen King. This is a darker take of the famous novel that will take longer to tell, and we will see that in another film after the success of this one. I’m not expecting a major box office smash, but this film will do well for a few weeks. Congratulations to Bill Skarsgard for doing a good job with Pennywise and I’m sure Tim Curry would approve. IT gets a nine out of ten because I’m still not crazy about Pennywise’s look and the acting in some scenes, but this movie is well worth the price of admission. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Why Does a Rose Represent Love?


"A rose is supposed to be the representation of love. If that's true then why does a rose have thorns that cut you and why does it have to die." Amber, a friend of mine once asked me that a long time ago and it took me a long time to finally answer this question. It takes a long time because love is a very powerful marvel. I believe a simply "I love you" answers a lot of complicated questions. When there is a great truth to be discovered, then you must first experience this before you can see the truth. Here is why a rose represents love, but also has thorns and must die.

A rose represents love, but has thorns because like being in love, it must be handled carefully. You need to treat it with respect and be careful not to mishandle it. You can't be careless handling the one you hold just because there may be roses with less thorns. If you do then eventually, you will be cut and when that happens, you’re scarred for life. You will have a scar that will take a lifetime to heal and never go away, that cut will always remind you of your loss. That is why the rose has its thorns.

Now why does a rose die? That's the hardest part of the question, but I remembered everyone I ever loved and it came to me. A rose must die because love must be cherished. If love was eternal and always around then the inevitable outcome is that it would be taken for granted. Love should never be taken for granted. Like with people, roses must be loved while we have them because everything that is born must die, so we must appreciate the time we have with them. A rose is the perfect representation of love and these are my reasons why I believe so.

This is an excerpt from my novel, Faces of the Masses. Available now on Amazon.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Defenders

The Defenders has been anticipated ever since the success of Daredevil that premiered back in 2015. With the continued success of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, it seemed that Iron Fist was going to foreshadow an epic saga. The tale of Danny Rand would turn out to be a stone around the neck of the fearsome foursome as Iron Fist was littered with flaws. Those flaws would carry over to the eight-episode season, but it wouldn’t damage the series too much. The Defenders first season was worthy of the hype, but it could’ve been better than what it was.
The show kicks off some time after the events of all four character seasons and some fans will be surprised by how some of the characters have moved on (spoiler alert). Matt Murdock has moved on without Foggy and has retired from being a vigilante to resume work as an attorney. Jessica Jones is still an angry, drunk private investigator who is trying to move on after killing her mind controlling stalker, Kilgrave. Luke Cage is freed thanks to certain help and finally gets the coffee that he’s been wanting for a while. Danny Rand, however, is continuing his fight against the hand and that’s what’s lead him back to New York.
 Each character has a sub story that would eventually lead them together and force them to work together to bring down The Hand, an organization that’s been a problem from the start. Things don’t go smoothly for several factors both externally and internally with the four heroes thanks to the leader of the Hand, Alexandra Reid (Sigourney Weaver). It’s a roller coaster ride that takes off after the third episode with great choreographed fights and a story that delivers plenty of twists and turns. The few problems that I have are mostly with the characters Matt Murdock and Danny Rand.
As mentioned, Matt Murdock has retired from being a vigilante but there wasn’t any real explanation given for leaving the mask locked up. It takes forever for him to finally put the suit back on and when he does, that’s when things picked up. To be honest, the first three episodes are boring, but that’s mostly because the story is setting up. Danny Rand’s dialogue was repetitive to the point it makes you want to fast forward his parts. Most of the time, he’s reminding everyone who he is, what his mission is and why he must complete his mission.
Most of the series focused on Iron Fist and it might be the last we see of this character in Netflix’s plans for the Marvel characters. The ending of this series closes a lot of doors related to his story the most, so it might be implied that Marvel and Netflix are moving on from this character because of the lousy reviews from fans and critics. Time will tell if Iron Fist survives, but right now Marvel and Netflix will be releasing The Punisher later this year. Fans of the famous anti-hero are chomping at the bits to see Jon Bernthal reprise the role. Jessica Jones will return for her own season, Luke Cage is starting production and Daredevil will begin filming soon.

The Defenders gets a 7.5 out of 10, it was a great show, but it could’ve been better by having more episodes. The fact that it’s only eight episodes and not 10 or 12 is a bummer, but the series is still worth watching; even if it starts off slow. The chemistry is spot on with the main characters, Sigourney Weaver plays a great antagonist, and the series brings closure to everyone. This will allow for a fresh start to everyone’s solo season and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Daredevil in particular after the end of this series. If you want to know what I’m talking about, then start binge watching.