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Video21

Posted on December 28th, 2021

Dave!Welp, you know what time it is... my annual wrap-up of my favorite films of the year! Or, to be more accurate, my favorite films that I actually saw. Which is not as many as usual, thanks to COVID, but here we are.

Interesting to note that my Number One is not a Marvel Studios movie. Last year it couldn't be because Marvel didn't release any movies... but I'm pretty sure that there's been one of their films in the Top Spot for the previous decade I've been doing this! Shocking, I know!

THE TWELVE BEST...
These are my favorite movies from this year that I actually saw.

Favorite Movies 2021

#1 Dune (Warner Brothers)
I'm one of those rare people who actually liked the David Lynch Dune effort in 1984. No, it wasn't "Real Dune" but how could it be? For what it was, it was entertaining and visually interesting, and that was enough for me. Then along comes Denis Villeneuve with his version of Dune and I was hopeful. He split the impossibly complicated novel it into two parts, which seems like it gave him a great start. Then I saw it. And saw it again and again and again. Because I was in disbelief that he actually pulled it off. And the way he pulled it off was to do something I never thought that I'd endorse... he cut out a lot of stuff that seems critical... but was actually not so critical after all. By streamlining the story, he let the parts he kept truly shine. And it was the most important parts, which is what makes this adaption so bloody brilliant. Cannot wait for the second part. And the third, if we get so lucky.

#2 Spider-Man No Way Home (Sony & Marvel Studios)
I fully admit that I was expecting to not like this movie. I thought the appearance of the alternate universe villains would overwhelm the story and take the focus off Spider-Man all in the name of fan service. Well, this movie was all about fan service. One could argue that this was the only thing it was about. Much to my surprise, it actually worked. The villains were an accessory to Peter Parker's story, as they should have been. And getting Doctor Strange to appear was icing on the cake. I could have watched Spider-Man battle Doctor Strange for hours. So clever. So well-constructed. So very, very comic book! In fact, this is probably one of the most "comic booky" of the Marvel Studios films so far. And it's for that reason that it's landed in the #2 spot for 2021. Even though I can't even touch on much of what really makes it so good out of fear of spoiling stuff. Suffice to say that every single person who appears in this movie is beyond exceptional in their roles. If you saw it, you know. If you don't know, you should know. What's truly exciting is what comes next. We're left at a very interesting place for Peter Parker in his next trilogy of movies.

#3 Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Marvel Studios)
What can I say? They utterly and totally nailed it. That's not surprising. What is surprising is that two movies edged out Shang-Chi on my list! The film provides super-heroic thrills in a way that Marvel excels at... but gives us something new by steeping it in Asian culture and Chinese traditions. The result is magic (and it doesn't hurt that Michelle Yeoh is in it!). Simu Liu and Awkwafina are unassuming valets at a hotel who get dragged into a mystery (with plenty of action) once Shang-Chi's immortal father comes calling. From there we get epic battles with fantastic special effects that run the gamut. One minute we're getting Jackie Chan style kung-fu... the next minute mystical action that is beautifully realized. But the flawless action is tempered with some very nice quieter moments that make you completely forget that this is yet another origin story. Instead it's a really good story that's executed very well. And Michelle Yeoh is in it!

#4 Black Widow (Marvel Studios)
What bothers me so much about this film is that it feels as though Natasha Romanov is a supporting character in her own film. She's not... not really... but it feels that way. Taking place prior to her death in Avengers: Endgame (Spoiler Alert!) but after her turn in Captain America: Civil War, this is pretty much a set-up for her sister Yelena Belova to take her place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe of today. Which is most certainly not a bad thing. Yelena is actually a truly great character who was flawless in the Hawkeye Disney+ series... but was it too much to hope that we'd get a little more Black Widow in her first (and likely last) solo film? There's so much going on... Yelena, Red Guardian, Dreykov, Melina Vostok, The Widows, and a weird adaptation of the villainous Taskmaster from the comics... when it would have been nice to just get more Natasha out of it all. We did get a peek at her past (and finally get some questions answered about Budapest and Dreykov's daughter) which was nice though. Ultimately this was an entertaining film that had some terrific action and introduced some memorable characters. But as a send-off for Black Widow it was merely adequate.

#5 CODA (Apple TV+)
I don't know that the story synopsis grabbed me (the sole hearing member of a deaf family tries to live her own life while still trying to live up to the expectations and obligations of her family)... but the fact that Marlee Matlin and Eugenio Derbez star in it certainly made me take notice. And then I watched it. At which point I wondered for a millionth time how many gems like this are buried or go unnoticed by me every year. Because if not for Apple picking it up and promoting it heavily during episodes of Ted Lasso, I likely would have never knew it existed (which reminds me of last year's #3 film, Uncle Frank). The title, CODA, means Children Of Deaf Adults, and this coming-of-age tale stuck with me long after the credits rolled. There's just so many wonderful moments that are sublimely acted, and it's almost too good to be true that the film ever came together in the first place. Because that's all you really all you get... wonderful moments that are sublimely acted... which, in this case anyway, is more than enough. No fights or explosions. No hokey plot devices that seem tacked-on. No absurdly over-the-top dramatic moments. No yelling passed off as drama. No badly-shoe-horned plot devices. It's just a story that neatly sidesteps all the things I usually hate about movies like this. Just a story. But a really, really good one.

#6 Free Guy (20th Century Studios, now Disney)
This movie shouldn't have been as good as it is. It really shouldn't. A regular, every-day, boring guy discovers that he's actually a character in a video game? Who watched Tron and decided to reimagine that? Well, much to my surprise, the result is darn funny and has some seriously good action beats. Ryan Reynolds is the least "Ryan-Reynold-sy" he's been in a while, seamlessly meshing into a role that seems a bad fit... but one that he manages to pull off exceptionally well. And I'm most grateful that he got the chance. This film merges pop culture with video game culture to give us something special in a way that Ready Player One failed miserably at achieving (though I still enjoyed the book quite a bit). And just when you think that the movie has peaked... you're proven wrong. And you'll be happy to keep being wrong as everything piles up to a satisfying conclusion that makes you happy to have invested time in "just another video game movie."

Favorite Movies 2021

#7 Luca (Disney Animation)
This film would be amazing even if the story was lacking because it just looks so incredible. Animation so beautifully realized that I couldn't take my eyes off of it, and ended up watching three times in two days because I wanted to pore over every scene. The story takes place in the Italian Rivera, and the animators put the time in to capture it flawlessly. And, oh yeah, this story of a sea monster wanting to live a life outside of the water is wholly wonderful, combining heartwarming story beats with genuinely funny moments in a way that almost seems to have a Hayao Miyazaki Studio Ghibli feel to it instead of a Disney Animation feel. I can't possibly offer more praise than that.

#8 The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (Amazon Prime Streaming)
So there I was blazing through the streaming services I subscribe to looking for a movie to watch while I work. Amazon Prime recommended this film. And because Prime has an uncanny ability to recommend films I like, I decided to give it a shot. And was rewarded with this wonderful story that so totally absorbed me. Which was great from a movie standpoint... but truly terrible from a productivity standpoint since I didn't manage to get a lick of work done while I'm watching it. Twice. And what's so surprising is that this is yet another attempt at Groundhog Day where people are caught in a repeating time loop. But, like Palm Spring before it (my #7 film of 2020), they actually brought something new to the table and had something to say. The story is fun and sweet. The performances are all brilliant. And the way it comes together at the end really made me feel something. A treat that took me by surprise and was a total treat from start to finish.

#9 Pig (Al-Film)
Nicholas Cage in a masterful performance that's as challenging as it is beautiful. So much so that no movie surprised me more than Pig this year. Throw your preconceived notions out the door, go into it with an open mind and heart, and prepare yourself for something great. This is a thinking person's action flick in all the best ways, and the less I say about it before you indulge the better.

#10 The Suicide Squad (DC & Warner Brothers)
With James Gunn involved, I was hoping for the best. And that's pretty much what we got. This sequel/reboot of the franchise was a bloody good time and actually fought to live up to the title. Super bad guys get recruited to save the world on a "suicide mission" that will probably kill them, but will reduce their prison time if they survive. If there's a fault for me, it's that the character I most wanted to survive did not, and the character I most wanted to die did not. But, oddly enough, this probably made me like the film better because of it? It's tough to know. It's difficult for me to discuss the story in a way that doesn't spoil it all... but suffice to say that it's got some hilarious beats over some amazing action that made it worth my valuable time to watch.

#11 Eternals (Marvel Studios)
It's not that this movie is bad. It's just that it could have been so much better than what we got. It's tough to lay all of this on director Chloé Zhao's doorstep... she was offered a story entirely stuffed with too many characters trying to do too much and had to run with it. And because it's Chloé Zhao, everything certainly looks fantastic. But it's just not enough. These ancient beings who have been hidden amongst us humans finally realize their true purpose when the earth and all of humanity is threatened. Eternals Assemble. Or something. I guess. What's so sad is that they could have streamlined the character list, dropped the unnecessary diversions, and ended up with a movie that would have seriously kicked ass. But alas... we end up with unnecessary set-ups regarding The Black Knight. Characters who were superfluous and there for representation or death fodder only. And characters that I fucking hated so hard that they very nearly sabotaged the movie entirely (I'm looking at you, "Sprite"). But even so... Gemma Chan's Sersi, Mukail Nanjiani's Kingo, Brian Tyree Henry's Phastos, Don Lee's Gilgamesh, and most of all... Angelina Jolie's Thena... were enough to carry the film for me. Had we just focused on them and jettisoned the rest as the padding they were, we might have gotten yet another Marvel Studios classic. Instead it was a minor disappointment and the first true stumble to come out of Marvel.

#12 No Time to Die (MGM Studios)
This film barely makes my list. And it does so when, in my heart, I know that other movies from my Honorable Mentions list should probably he here instead. And yet... it's a Daniel Craig James Bond film, which guarantees a certain level of entertainment that's tough to dismiss. The problem is that this film is ultimately... boring. Truly shocking is that Rami Malek, an actor I adore, was woefully underutilized as the villain. Had they truly invested in him, we could have gotten all kinds of devious scenery-chewing scenes. But instead he's kinda boring as well. In the end I can't say that this is a bad film (because it's not) but I will say that it's a huge missed opportunity given that Daniel Craig is retiring from the role.

HONORABLE MENTION...

  • The Baker's Son
    Yes, it's a Hallmark rom-com movie... and, yes, it deserves to be on my list because it's that good. Eloise Mumford and Brant Daugherty have chemistry for days, and their story is tempered with humor that lands just right. When Hallmark finally releases this gem to home video, I anticipate playing many times as background noise while I work. It's comfort food that will merit repeat viewings.
  • Nomadland
    While not as enamored with this film as the critics (and general populace, apparently) I still enjoyed it very much. Chloe Zhao may have faltered with Eternals in the scope of Marvel Studio movies, but that takes nothing away from what she's done here. Frances McDormand is at her absolute best playing a woman who loses everything, but manages to find what's important in her journey through the Western USA.
  • I'm Your Man
    Dan Stevens is one of those actors where you just know the project has potential. But to have him playing a robot in a genuinely sweet but equally bittersweet rom-com? That's a recipe for cinematic gold, and I was not disappointed. Note: This is a German film, but since Dan Stevens is fluent in German and French, it wasn't a problem for him. His performance is as wonderful and nuanced as you'd hope.
  • Our Friend
    Based on an article I read long before it was adapted, I was surprised at just how well this narrative of a friend who becomes far more than "merely" a friend after a woman battles cancer plays out on screen. The performances are all touching and crafted with a care that comes from knowing that you are portraying actual people. And while I'm sure some liberties were taken with the facts to create a more compelling film, it's hard to fault that when the result is so beautiful.
  • The Green Knight
    I don't mind challenging movies. I don't mind vague movies. I don't mind movies which leaves what happened to the viewer. But when you take risks like this, you had better do it well, or else you're just going to piss me off. But when a film does do these things well, they are massive plusses in my book, because they involve me like no other. The Green Knight combines all three with compelling acting and gorgeous visuals. I really loved it, and am very much looking forward to what David Lowery does next, because they guy just excels at crafting wonderful cinema.
  • Red Notice
    This movie was panned more than praised and I just don't get it. The story is great with nice twists to keep things interesting. Ryan Reynolds and The Rock are at their most entertaining. The action sequences are pretty darn sweet. And I was entertained from start to finish. No, this isn't Shakespere, but for what it actually is, I enjoyed it quite a bit. This is what I was hoping to get from The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard.
  • The Paper Tigers
    I do love me a really good kung-fu action flick, and this one is a notch above. Three guys who were once known as "The Three Tigers" when they were kung-fu stars at the top of their game must avenge their sensei's murder. Sounds like a movie you've seen a dozen times before, right? Nope! This one is hilariously fun and entertaining in a way you might not have seen before.
  • Val
    This documentary on Val Kilmer is a compelling watch. His story is far more complex than I ever realized, and it makes me love the man as a person and not just as an actor (for Real Genius and Top Secret alone!).

DIDN'T SEE, MIGHT HAVE MADE MY LIST...

  • The French Dispatch — I wanted so badly to see it, but could never make it happen. As a huge, mega-huge Wes Anderson fan, this likely would have made my list.
  • Ghostbusters Afterlife — I still know absolutely nothing about this movie other than it has Paul Rudd and plays on the heartstrings of the original in a way that a lot of my friends really liked.
  • Last Night in Soho
  • Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
  • Paper Spiders
  • The Velvet Underground
  • Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
  • Passing

OVERRATED BUT STILL GOOD...

  • Encanto
    I was so looking forward to this animated feature once the trailer hit. It looked interesting, fun, unique, and special... not to mention beautiful. And while it was all those things, it also missed the mark for me by ultimately being totally average in every one of those respects. Still, those Lin-Manuel Miranda tunes were good, there's some funny moments that totally worked, the characters are wonderful, and it was amazing to look at... I just wish they had polished the script more to push the movie somewhere that made it truly special.
  • The Mitchell's vs. The Machines
    Make no mistake, this is a darn good animated movie about a resourceful family who has to battle a robot invasion. I enjoyed it. I thought it was beautifully made. And the voice performances were top-notch. But the story felt like it had been told a hundred times before and really brought nothing new to the table. These characters have been done to death, and I was really hoping for something more.
  • Candyman
    When I found out that they were remaking the Tony Todd classic, my first thought was "Why?" And my second thought was "How?" It just seems impossible that anybody could possibly top Tony Todd's memorable performance in the original. But then I saw that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is in it (not as Candyman), and I was thinking "Maybe?" Turns out that Nia DaCosta had a very clear vision for where she wanted to go, and then drove straight there without making any detours. Unfortunately this didn't turn out to be such a good thing... any genuine horror in this horror film is nowhere to be found, and I kept waiting for it to deliver any actual scares. It's more focused on ideas than fright, which is not a bad thing, per se, but it wasn't what I was hoping for when it comes to a movie picking up the mantel of Candyman.

DISAPPOINTING

  • Matrix Resurrections
    Because I'm a huge fan of Keanu Reeves, I took a chance on Resurrections despite how much I hated Reloaded and Revolutions. The Wachowskis thought they were being new-level smart with their psychobabble bullshit sequels, but it was just a messy narrative that wasn't any fun. Certainly not compared to the brilliance of the original The Matrix. The way that Resurrections works is that Lana Wachowski went all meta on our asses and, sadly, it wasn't terribly successful. There were some great action sequences, as expected, but I found myself asking "To what end?" as they unfolded. While not terrible, it's still missing the mark. Still... it's better than the previous two sequels. Alas, that's a bar so low that it really had to be, didn't it?

TOTALLY SHIT THE BED...

  • Reminiscence
    A sad attempt at smooshing together Blade Runner and Strange Days in a way that fails in just about every way possible. I was hopelessly bored through most all of it and kept thinking over and over how completely unnecessary this movie was when the originals they were taking so liberally from still hold up today. How they roped Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, and Thandie Newton into this comically executed dud is a mystery. They all deserved better.
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Hawkeye Finale

Posted on December 21st, 2021

Dave!And so the finale of Hawkeye aired at midnight tonight. And because I wanted nothing spoiled, of course I stayed up to watch it.

Suffice to say that this was everything I could possibly hope for. The finale was fantastic stuff, filled with all the action you've been dying for all along. Yeah, things seemed a little rushed... I remain convinced that had they combined the first two episodes and split this one into two parts it would have made for a much better series overall.

Not that there was much room for improvement. In a shocking move that I never saw coming, Hawkeye will undoubtedly take the top spot in my annual list of favorite television shows. It was just that good. It took liberally from the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book series I love so much... but was firmly rooted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a way that neither WandaVision nor The Falcon and The Winter Soldier really managed...

If we could just get more series like this, I would be ever so happy.

In discussing the finale (in an extended entry) of course there's going to be loads of spoilers. If you haven't watched the series yet, then you should do that right away and look no further.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Ronin (Again)

Posted on December 15th, 2021

Dave!The penultimate episode of Hawkeye was released at midnight last night and of course I had to stay up for it (I was working late anyway). It's incredible. And it pisses me off. This should have been Episode 04, not Episode 05... because this is where things are getting good, and you just know that the conclusion is going to be rushed if it's all crammed into a single episode. I can only guess that the story is going to be badly truncated or it's all just setup for other series. Which is definitely is. But it shouldn't be that in a way that short-changes Clint Barton, which is the guy we're all here to see...

The last thing I want to do is spoil the show for those who haven't seen it yet, but I do want to get into this episode. So... if you're not up to speed on Episode 05, here's your chance to bail before some serious spoilerage gets dropped on your head.

And if you're not watching Hawkeye? I can't recommend it highly enough. You may remember that I ranked all the Marvel television shows a few days back. Well, this series is now in my #1 spot by a wide margin. It is easily the best of the Marvel Studios shows, and worth getting a Disney+ subscription just for this (but there's a lot of good stuff on there, so it's a price I'm happy to pay for each month).

My spoiler-filled commentary is in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Hawkeye is Here

Posted on December 1st, 2021

Dave!Disney+ and Marvel Studios debuted Hawkeye last week with two episodes. And while they were great, I was a little disappointed that they were dragging out the series with such a large amount of build-up. I know that Kate Bishop and her world has to be established since we've never seen her before... but come on. They could have easily done that in a single episode! Instead 1/3 of the series was pretty much over before we got to what we're wanting to see.

And then the third episode dropped today and, yep, now we're EXACTLY where the second episode should have started. This is everything I was dying to see from the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book series come to life...

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye

Echo, who appeared at the end of last episode is given some back-story this time around. And yet it's not drawn out so it infringes on the absolutely wild action we get to see. Seriously, watching Clint Barton escape from the mess he's in is thrilling. Jeremy Renner has nailed the character so thoroughly that I seriously hope that he doesn't disappear entirely after the mantle is passed to Kate Bishop. It's entirely possible for her to go on to do her own thing while still giving us a second season of Hawkeye.

And now is the time that I implore you to check out the comic book series upon which this television series is lifting from. It is, in all honesty, in my top ten comic book series of all time, and I've read through the Fraction/Aja run at least a half-dozen times now...

Well, well worth your valuable time.

   

Worst of the Worst

Posted on November 24th, 2021

Dave!Last night when I turned on the television so I had background noise running while I work, a movie recommendation popped up. X-Men: Dark Phoenix. I was floored. Why in the hell would they be recommending the worst super-hero comic book movie ever made? And then I was like... wait... second worst. Because first on that list is Wonder Woman '84, and no other movie will likely dethrone it from the top spot.

At least I sure as hell hope not.

It got me to thinking about all the horrible super-hero comic book films that got made, so I thought I'd run through those I remembered.

  • Wonder Woman '84
    What makes this horrifically shitty film so painful is that the first Wonder Woman film was so amazing. But this time we get plot holes so inexplicably huge and a story so embarrassingly stupid that it's impossible to believe that everybody who was involved has anything to do with the original. And yet... they were. In addition to one of the stupidest fucking villains with one of the the stupidest fucking powers doing the stupidest fucking things, we also got Wonder Woman pulling powers out of her ass left and right in a way that made you think she can do whatever the hell she wants to do. Plus a bizarre take on The Cheetah which is disappointing enough to put this film on the list all by itself. As if all that weren't enough, there was no internal logic or consistency. Patty Jenkins and the writers didn't give a shit about making anything make sense. So we end up with functional planes being gassed up and ready to go at a museum and scores of other idiotic dumbassery that makes this not even the worst comic book movie ever made... but one of the worst films ever made period.
  • ALL X-Men Films (except First Class)
    Anything that Bryan Singer touches goes to shit, and nowhere is that more blatantly apparent than his grotesque take on the X-Men. At first, I was willing to cut them some slack because technological limitations of the time made depicting all their various powers difficult and expensive. BUT THEY COULD STILL COME UP WILL STORIES THAT WEREN'T SHIT! My God. They just kept getting progressively worse... then there was the bright spot we got with the prequel X-Men: First Class... only to have Bryan Singer come back and take a massive steaming dump all over everything. To add insult to injury, they wrapped everything up with Dark Phoenix, which is about the worst take of them all. Thank God Marvel Studios have the licensing back. I am praying that they manage to come up with something actually good for a concept that has never made great movies.
  • Superman Returns
    Not content to let Bryan Singer fuck up the X-Men, DC Comics wanted to let him ruin Superman as well, allowing him to effectively kill the franchise for a second time. And it was really too bad, because I thought Brandon Routh made a fantastic Superman. But even a group of talented actors couldn't save the shitty story... which was essentially a bad retread of the original Superman. That being said, there is one solitary moment in this film that I thought was incredibly well done. It's after Superman has been taken to the hospital and is dying. Out side is a throng of people waiting for news to see whether he's alive or dead. In the crowd is Martha Kent. Even though she's Superman's mom, she has to wait outside with everybody else because nobody knows that Clark Kent is Superman. It's absolutely heartbreaking, and made you realize that there was probably a good film in this mess somewhere... it's just that Bryan Singer was incapable of finding it.
  • Superman III and Superman IV: Quest for Peace
    The reason these hit so hard for me is that Superman: The Movie and Superman II were so sublimely good. And that was after the Salkinds ripped the movie away from Richard Donner and tried their best to fuck them up. Christopher Reeve was Superman. But, even more important, he was Clark Kent. Then you drop in a flawless Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor... plus some incredibly ambitious stories... and it was absolute magic (then they brought back the Donner cut of Superman II and it was as if every fanboy's prayers had been answered). But then they made two sequels that went beyond bad, and the only thing left was Christopher Reeve. Good as he is, even he can't make something out of nothing.
  • Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman and Justice League
    Zack Snyder had one good movie (300) and one okay movie (Watchmen) and apparently that was enough for DC Comics to hand over the keys to the entire DC Comics Cinematic Universe. The result was an absolute disaster that, in some ways, is even worse than the Bryan Singer movies because at least Snyder had cutting-edge special effects to make his movies work. Unfortunately, he decided that enduring characters which people had been loving for decades needed "improving upon" and put his own spin on things. And apparently his whole plan was to come up with shitty, convoluted stories which revolve around deadly-serious, dreary, boring, films that are utterly devoid of joy... or common sense. And while the casting is mostly good, there were some bone-headed decisions for critical characters (see: Lex Luthor) that were so horribly off the mark that the films would have been sabotaged even if they were actually good. Which they were definitely not.
  • Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four
    How you can fuck up a Fantastic Four movie is a real head-scratcher. But Fox managed to do it three times over. I'm just going to ignore the first two and focus on the attempted reboot in 2015, because it's the one which is really driving this. It was awful. Beyond awful. Not a damn thing made any sense and the casting was inexplicably bad (ironically the casting that was the most controversial, Michael B. Jordan as Human Torch, was the only thing that worked for me). And then there's the fact that the Fantastic Four never even show up until the very end. Lord, what a waste.
  • Catwoman
    Yet another case of flawless casting being utterly destroyed by a horrible story. Halle Berry deserved far better. As did we all.
  • The New Mutants
    Why? Just... why? The idea of a super-hero comic book movie being given a horror slant is not a bad one. On the contrary, it seemed like a good idea for something new. The problem is that they fucked it up from start to finish and it failed all genres that it stepped in. Wasn't scary. Wasn't exciting. Wasn't a comic book movie. Wasn't much of a film. In all honesty, Disney should have just stuck this 20th Century Fox mess in a vault and never let it seen the light of day. Not that it matters. Anybody who ever saw it likely forgot about it within 24 hours. Or wish they had.
  • Green Lantern
    They wise enough to make the decision to cast Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan and Mark Strong as Sinestro... so what the hell went so terribly wrong? EVERY. OTHER. DECISION. Where's the fucking story? Green Lantern could have been a story of cosmic scope that defied belief. But instead they just utterly trashed the character for no good reason. Everything from his hideously bad CGI costume to the gawdawful take of both Parallax and Hector Hammond as "villains" just made this so very, very disappointing.
  • Batman Forever and Batman and Robin
    The first two Batman films were Tim Burton weirdness that didn't 100% work... but they were at least entertaining. And they gave us Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman, so there's that. But then Joel Schumacher took over and gave us these stupid, campy films which had so many poor decisions piled up that there was no room for actual Batman stories in them. It was made doubly bizarre, because the casting wasn't exactly terrible... Jim Carrey as The Riddler? Perfect. Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face? Great. Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy? Nice! Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl? Flawless. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Doctor Freeze? Weird, but okay. Chris O'Donnell as Robin? Too old, but I get it. And even Val Kilmer and George Clooney weren't terrible choices for Batman. Which means it all comes down to the writing and direction, which was embarrassing in a way that even the 1960's television show couldn't beat.
  • Elektra
    I think had they invested the money so the script could have revolved around an actual story, an Elektra spin-off was a great idea. But instead they cheaped out, leaving us with something that was bizarrely detached from the character that Jennifer Garner created in Daredevil.
  • Spider-Man 3
    The first two Toby Maguire films were darn good. Better than they had a right to be, actually. But then things went completely off the rails. Sam Raimi crammed in too many villains in too many ways with too many bizarre turns for this movie to have any hope at all. But the thing that just dropped this one in the gutter was the way they completely trashed all the characters. Mary Jane was written horribly. Peter Parker (under the influence of the symbiote) became devoid of everything that makes Peter Parker be Peter Parker. And then there's Venom... a villain which was made a laughable shadow of the character that was established in the comics. So many bad choices. They say that the studio interfered with what Sam Raimi wanted to do, which makes a lot of sense. But is inexplicable given the success he had with the first two films.
  • Amazing Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man 2
    After screwing up the Toby Maquire franchise, Sony decided to take another shot at the character and rebooted Spidey with Andrew Garfield. Ultimately you have to wonder why they bothered, because they didn't really do anything new. On the contrary, they went back to arcs that were already explored with the first trilogy, then made things so horribly complicated with Peter's dead parents being spies (or whatever) that it was as if they didn't feel Spider-Man could carry a movie. Which is understandable... Sony had a Spider-Verse to build. Alas, those plans were scrapped when Amazing Spider-Man 2 bombed.
  • Hulk
    Ang Lee taking on The Hulk seems like a dream come true. But the movie was just not very entertaining. There were some ideas that were cool enough... but there just wasn't much going on past that. It was seriously troubling that the script's many problems weren't worked out before filming ever started. The fact that they weren't is really difficult to understand. I guess they just trusted Ang Lee to figure it out, but ultimately he didn't want it to be the super-hero movie that it needed to be and we got this. In truth, the follow-up film wasn't a heck of a lot better, but at least they tried to make Hulk be Hulk.

Yikes. More than I thought I'd remember. It's almost as though I should rewatch all the Marvel Studios movies for the hundredth time so I can have good super-hero comic book movies back in my head.

   

Bullet Sunday 739

Posted on November 21st, 2021

Dave!It may be snowing out my window, but it will always be warm here at Blogography... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Sweet! Huh. M&M'S USA Sugar Cookie tastes just like a sugar cookie! Weird!

But... cool. And tasty.

   
• Pep! One of the most pleasant surprises to come out of HBO Max was the four-episode Adventure Time: Distant Lands episodes. As a massive fan of Adventure Time, it was so great seeing more from the show after it went away. Every episode was absolutely brilliant, and this last one... featuring Peppermint Butler called Wizard City is my favorite of the bunch...

I really hope that we get another season, because all these episodes did was make me want more Adventure Time!

   
• Simu! I don't know if Simu Liu inspired everybody or what, but last night's Saturday Night Live was one of the best episodes in a while...

The fact that every once in a while SNL is actually good kind of messes with my head. So many times it's mostly not funny and a waste of time.

   
• Man Park! Speaking of SNL, this sketch from last week was about the only bright spot in an otherwise forgettable episode...

I become more and more a fan of Pete Davidson with every sketch he's in like this.

   
• Homeopathy! Welp...

This was really well done (as are all the Kurzgesagt videos) and I like how they actually acknowledge that there are things that can be learned from homeopathy, which is true from many things that are ultimately nonsense. Beneath it all, the nonsense is believed because there's something there being addressed which is not being addressed otherwise.

   
• Gravy! This had me laughing way harder than I should have...

@marcwinski #duet with @justinrileyyy Gravy Sales #joke #share #food #fyp #thanksgiving ♬ Aww just gravy - Justin Riley

   
• Rant Rant! From ScreenRant: Shang-Chi's Ending Repeats A Problem We Thought The MCU Had Evolved Past. — Spoiler Alert... they say that "As mentioned before, many of the MCU's final acts have largely been flashy CGI battles."WELL NO SHIT! THAT'S WHAT THE PEOPLE WHO DRIVE UP BILLION-DOLLAR BOX OFFICE RECEIPTS WANT TO SEE! What would you like Marvel to do? Have Shang-Chi hug it out with his dad when the guy shows up at the end and then walk off into the sunset? These are COMIC BOOK MOVIES! Have you ever READ a comic book? CGI has finally gotten to the point where the massively cool battles that we've been seeing in comic books for decades CAN ACTUALLY BE CREATED FOR MOVIES! So why would Marvel Studios not do that? Why fix what ain't broken? The final battle in Shang-Chi was absolutely epic and a blast to watch. The CGI team killed it. Beautiful, thrilling, comic-book-come-to-life, over-the-top action. THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I WANT FROM A COMIC BOOK MOVIE! If I want emotionally-driven drama, I'll watch something else. And if that's what you're looking for, I suggest you do the same. We've come a long, long way from when The X-Men battled frickin' WATER in their second movie. THEY FOUGHT WATER!!! ACTUAL WATER WAS THE FRICKIN' BATTLE AT THE END! And we don't want to go back to that pathetic crap. Now that Marvel Studios finally have The X-Men movie rights back, I am absolutely dying to see what we get out of the films they're dreaming up. Lord God please let it be massive CGI battles in the sky!

   
And that's a wrap on snowy bullets... they're already melting.

   

Scooby-Doo THIS!

Posted on November 19th, 2021

Dave!I am not terribly thrilled that Marvel is going the "Multiverse" route with their films. The need to make sure that the earlier Spider-Man movies are a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is dragging us backwards rather than taking us forward by cutting them loose. Will it be nice to see Alfred Molina as Doc Ock again? Sure. But at the expense of miring the MCU with the silly idea that Peter Parker looks completely different in the different universes? It makes no sense.

But here we go anyway...

In addition to Alfred Molina, we're definitely getting Willen DaFoe as Green Goblin and Jamie Foxx as Electro. And it looks like we're getting Rhys Ifans as The Lizard and Thomas Haden Church as Sandman... though those could just be CGI additions with no connection to the actual actors.

But it's like... why?

Why not create new versions of these characters that are closely tied to what Marvel Studios is doing now? Does this mean that these characters will never appear in the MCU proper because they are from a different universe? That doesn't seem too smart.

It seems likely all of this is to keep Sony happy, since they have the Spider-Man movie rights tied up and, technically, the character is on-loan to Marvel. The Multiverse allows them to have Spider-Man back for their Venom movies and such while still allowing Spider-Man to move forward with Marvel Studio films. It's a profitable double-dip. Assuming Tom Holland wants to continue on. Though this could also all be a set-up to give us Miles Morales Spider-Man.

They really should have let DC Comics hang on to this bad idea in their The Flash movie and kept moving forward with the success they had been having.

Oh well. Dr. Strange looks to be having a great time in the movie, so perhaps that will be compensation for what feels like a big blunder. But who knows? Maybe Marvel has figured it all out so that it's actually a good thing.

   

Bullet Sunday 738

Posted on November 14th, 2021

Dave!I may be dealing with some very upset cats now that Daylight Saving Time has ended, but fear not... because a Very Special Disney+ Day Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Hawkeye! So many tantalizing glimpses into this series, which appears to be adapting one of the best comic book arcs of all history... Matt Fraction & David Aja's Hawkeye. The Marvel Disney+ Day Special. I was positively giddy watching the footage. Jeremy Renner just has the character nailed and Haley Stansfield looks like all kinds of fun as Kate Bishop...

If you even like comics a little bit and haven't read through the Fraction/Aja run, you owe it to yourself to take a look.

   
• Moon Knight! This is one of the more complex characters in the Marvel comics, so it was a smart decision to make sure that they got an actor with the talent to make it happen... Oscar Isaac.

From the looks of it, they are totally going in on Marc Spector's multiple personalities and struggles with mental challenges. I cannot wait to see how this unfolds.

   
• She-Hulk! When it comes to characters that don't get the credit they deserve, No. 1 on the list is Aquaman. He's been partially redeemed by his movie, but many people still think that he's a wasted character whose only super-power is "talking to fish." No. 2 is Hawkeye. He's actually an incredible character in the right hands but is perceived as being useless. No. 3 on the list is She-Hulk. Make no mistake... she was pretty redundant and boring in the comics for a long while. But then John Byrne took over her book and completely revolutionized it. You know how Deadpool is always breaking the 4th wall and speaking to the audience because he knows he's in a comic/movie? Byrne's She-Hulk did it first. And the result was just as good. But most people don't know this, so she gets dismissed. Until now...

It looks like they are keeping the whole "break the 4th wall" thing that made her famous. Which will undoubtedly upset the fanboys because they'll think she's copying Deadpool. Oh well. I am looking forward to this show not because I love the character, but because I love the actor playing her... Tatiana Maslany. That promises to be very interesting.

   
• Ms. Marvel! I never know how to feel when a character is changed in the name of diversity. On one hand... are creators so bankrupt of ideas that they can't come up with new characters to add diversity and have to recycle old ones? But on the other hand... recycling instantly establishes a new character in a recognizable role. Ultimately I'm for anything they can do to make comics more diverse (it's just so damn tired that 98% of everything is cisgender, heterosexual, and white). And sometimes it's done so well that recycling is actually successful. They made Amadeus Cho be The Hulk and they made Miles Morales be Spider-Man... both of which were done really well. So well that they eventually became their own thing. But my absolute favorite change in the name of diversity? Ms. Marvel. For those not in the know, Carol Danvers used to be Ms. Marvel before she became Captain Marvel. Then a young Muslim girl, Kamala Khan, (who is a fan of Captain Marvel) adopted her old Ms. Marvel identity when she got super-powers. The comics are fantastic, and now we're getting a series on Disney+...


Kamala Khan will also be in The Marvels movie, so I think the character might be around for a while. Thank heavens.

   
• And More Marvel! All we got for the other series in development were title cards... I am Groot, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, What If: Season 2, Echo, Loki: Season 2, Ironheart, Agatha: House of Harkness, Armor Wars, and Secret Invasion. Interesting to note that a series for Agatha Harkness had only been rumored, but is now confirmed. Can't wait to see Kathryn Hahn unleashed for that!

   
• Ciao Alberto! Few movies have sucked me in as quickly as Luca did. It was just phenomenally beautifully animated, and I spent hours freeze-framing to study it (then bought the Art of Luca book to study it even more). For Disney+ Day, they released a short 8-minute film showing what happens to Alberto after Luca leaves for school...

It's wonderful. And as gorgeous as the film. To get a full series of just this would be fantastic... so fingers crossed this was just testing the waters.

   
• Cars on the Road! It's hard to believe that there's a Pixar franchise I don't like... but it would be Cars. Larry the Cable Guy and Owen Wilson will be reprising their roles in a new cross-country series for the world of Cars which might be interesting? I dunno. I liked the first movie a little, and it's been diminishing returns ever since.

   
• Baymax! My favorite Pixar character is Sully from Monsters Inc.... my second favorite is Baymax from Big Hero 6. Sadly, I haven't liked anything to come out of the Monsters franchise since the original... but it looks like they nailed the new Baymax! series...

Yeah. I'll totally be tuning in to that.

   
• Turning Red! Not only does this movie look really good. It's also stunningly animated. So beautifully nuanced in every single scene. JUST LOOK AT THIS...

AND THIS...

This is Pixar returning to form, and I am here for it.

   
• Tiana! When it comes to the Disney Princess set, it's pretty cool that The Princess and the Frog gave us a hero in Tiana. She was beautifully realized and had some terrific moments. Now she's getting her own movie, but we know precious little about it. Other than it takes place after the movie.

   
• Star Wars! If there's a Disney property that got royally screwed, it's Star Wars and the Lucasfilm stuff. Yeah, we got a charming look at the cast for the Willow series. Yeah, there was a brief check-in on Obi-Wan. But about all we really got was a complete retread of Boba Fett material in a "Special Look" that had new insights from the people working on The Book of Boba Fett series...

That show doesn't arrive until December 29. After that it's anybody's guess as to when we're getting Season 03 of The Mandalorian, Season 01 of Obi-Wan, Season 01 of Ashoka, Season 01 of The Acolyte, Season 01 of Lando, and... the series I most want to see... Season 01 of Andor. I doubt all of them will be released in 2022, so some of them will undoubtedly end up all the way in 2023. That's lean pickings for Star Wars fans.

   
• Prey! One of the 20th Century Fox properties that Disney got in the purchase was Predator. To be honest, I haven't cared much for anything that followed the original Schwarzenegger flick. The Danny Glover sequel was okay, I guess. But Predators and The Predator were pretty weak. The Alien vs. Predator flicks were even worse. Now Disney is shunting a new Predator movie to Hulu called Prey. The concept is solid... it's set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago... but I'm not letting my hopes get too high.

   
• Jungle Cruise! In addition to Disney+ releasing Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, they also dropped the Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt movie Jungle Cruise. I thought it was... okay? I mean, it was really well-made. The special effects were great. The casting was perfect. And it was entertaining. It's just that it felt that it needed a story that was a little more streamlined. It was all twists and turns and set-up to a big reveal that ended up being inconsequential. It's like why?

Like I said... it was okay. I don't regret the time I spent watching it. I just wish that the people behind the movies like this would edit themselves a little better. At each point they should be asking Why are we doing this? Does it make the story better? Is it necessary? Sadly, too much of the time in Jungle Cruise the answer is "no."

   
Whew. I'm too exhausted for anyone more bullets!

   

Bus Boy Shang-Chi Watch Party

Posted on November 12th, 2021

Dave!I am still not stepping foot into theaters. A part of me wonders if I ever will again. Because I have to say... I like watching movies at home far, far more than I do going to a theater. Like... frickin' MILES more.

Quentin Tarantino recently made a plea about supporting movie theaters thusly... "You have an experience with a bunch of strangers. And at that moment, once the movie gets going, once the lights are down, you become a collective.” And I'm like... yeah, but it's the other people that makes going to the theater such a shitty experience. And that was BEFORE the pandemic! People talking. People texting. People taking phone calls. People yelling at their kids. People putting their feet up on your seat or kicking it. People being assholes. THAT'S WHAT I HATE ABOUT THE THEATER. And since people now-a-days are more awful and less considerate with each passing day, I'll take a big ol' pass at paying a lot of money for a shitty experience. I have a very nice home theater system where there's nobody to ruin the movie for me. Love your movies, Quentin... but... well... sorry. I can wait 2 to 4 months to avoid being tortured.

And while I was tempted to see Shang-Chi in theaters because I wanted to see it so bad (something I am currently struggling with when it comes to Eternals and will struggle with again when it comes to Spider-Man: No Way Home), I held fast.

But I'm still supporting the movie. I bought a copy on the iTunes Store today ($20, cheap!), but will repeat-watch on Disney+ to be sure that it gets my views (besides, Disney+ is showing the IMAX-filled scenes in near-full-screen height, which is an added bonus).

And now we can watch together, yay!

Buying Shang-Chi on iTunes!

Purchased Shang-Chi on iTunes!

Buying Shang-Chi on iTunes!

My spoiler-filled type-along with my second viewing of the film is in an extended entry.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Bullet Sunday 733

Posted on October 10th, 2021

Dave!Fall days are here, but it's still Summer Vacation at Blogography... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Bags! Washington State is one of those bizarre states that wants to do a good thing... but often ends up doing it badly. Take for example the "Single Use Plastic Bag Ban" that recently went into effect. The idea is to make people bring reusable cloth totes to the store in order to keep plastic bags out of landfills. But... holy shit. Those bags were never single-use to me. I use them to carry stuff all the time (like my lunch) and they're also the garbage bag I use in my kitchen and bathrooms. Stores will still have plastic bags available for a mandatory 8¢ each, but Washington State requires them to be thicker plastic so they're tougher. And I'm like... okay... 8¢ is still the cheapest garbage bag I can buy... and now they are going to be five times thicker, so it's actually one of the best frickin' garbage bags you can get. EXCEPT NOW THERE'S FIVE TIMES MORE PLASTIC GOING INTO THE LANDFILL!! Lots of people use them as trash bags, so even if a bunch of people switch to cloth totes, people will either be buying more plastic trash bags or using the thicker bags, meaning that we might actually have more plastic in the landfills. Does anybody think about this shit before passing these laws? ANYBODY?!??

   
• Finale! Not sure how to feel about the finale of Ted Lasso. In many ways, it was disappointing. There were zero surprises, if you've been paying attention. But I didn't hate it. The entire purpose of the second season was to lead up to the endgame of the third season, which was designed to be the last. It seems entirely likely that it will continue past that... there's just too much to lose... but Bill Lawrence says the three-season story arc will remain regardless...

Ted Lasso walking and smiling on a chilly London day.

He also says that Doctor Fieldstone and Trent Crimm will be back, so there's that. And so... until next year, I guess.

   
• Make Mine Marvel! And so now there's a Kathryn Hahn spin-off with Agatha Harkness from WandaVision. Add to this the rumor that some Netflix Marvel shows are headed to Disney+ as well (Jessica Jones? Daredevil?), and the future is looking very good for Marvel Studios fans... with Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Secret Invasion, Ironheart, Armor Wars, Wakanda Series, and an Echo Series, already announced...

Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness being all evil and stuff.

And heaven only knows how many are being roughed out that we don't even know! I'm guessing that the Marvel stuff is the most popular part of Disney+, so increasing the number of new shows is a no-brainer.

   
• Kenan! The new cast lineup for Saturday Night Live seems solid. But the killer app of the show is Kenan Thompson. He's the most memorable part of every skit he appears in, but it's only due to how he plays it... not necessarily the material they give him. In Billionaire Star Trek he had a bit part as an Amazon delivery guy and Kenan is all I remember of it. The meeting with the school board sketch was instantly forgettable... except for Kenan. Everything EXCEPT for Kenan in the funeral skit evaporated minutes after I saw it. This is most decidedly not a great way to start the season. They had months to prepare for the first show, and nothing sticks in my head except how Kenan managed to make the most of what he had to work with? I dunno. SNL has a problem that's not an easy fix. Hopefully everything will gel and get dialed in before Jason Sudeikis shows up, because that show is something I am really, really looking forward to.

   
• Weekend! How my weekend started...

My SourJo starter being all bubbly.

VS. how its going...

My baked SourJo bread looking delicious.

So pretty darn delicious, I'd say!

   
• Retired! Good riddance you crusty old homophobic, racist, misogynistic bigot. I’ve got a bottle of champagne chilling in the refrigerator for the day you depart this earthly plane. Don’t keep me waiting...

This asshole may be retiring now, but his brain retired decades ago.

   
• Inside! God. Could Intel reek any worse of desperation? This ad is fucking embarrassing. And the "random strangers" they pulled in are ridiculous. Like Apple fans are completely unaware that other products exist. I mean... holy shit... is Intel SO worried that people are leaning away from their chips that they have to be all pathetic like this? Sad. Just sad...

Somebody would have to be legit brain-dead to think that this reflects any semblance of reality.

   
Everybody remember to drink responsibly...

   

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