Movie Review: “Rogue One – A Star Wars Story” –  spoilers at the end

The biggest question on my mind was, how will this fit with the Saga films? Prior to Rogue One, we have had 7 installments in the Skywalker saga, and with Rogue One being a stand alone piece, how would it fit? In a word, perfectly. Rogue One fits so perfectly into the Star Wars world that to describe how perfectly would actually be a spoiler in itself.

Without spoiling too much, the positives for me were the characters themselves, just coming together and becoming a family of rogues, definitely Rebels, but somewhat outsiders with the Alliance. Jyn Erso is an interesting protagonist who leads the plot, but isn’t the only focus, and a complete world is built around her and Captain Cassian Andor. By far the characters who stole the show for mewere the reprogrammed K2SO and Donnie Yen’s force sensetive but not a Jedi, Chirrut Îmwe. Other characters Baze and Bodhi round out the main protagonists nicely. Villain eise, Orson Krennic comes off smart, a little bit naïve, but also as an opportunist, always looking to force his way up the ladder. The narrative also addresses a huge plot point from Episode IV that fans have been debating and discussing for years. Well, it’s now settled (you’ll understand when you see it). My biggest bonus, was the very last Darth Vader scene. We often heard how much of a bad ass mofo he was, but this time, we really got to see it. And wow, was it incredible.

Other areas I need to critique, there were a few uses of CGI (two in particular) which were a very good effort at bringing certain characters to life, but as with most CGI, the uncanny valley hits, and though the CGI is 95% there, that last 5% can be a bit jarring and off. Also, apart from Jyn and Cassian, I would have liked a bit more back story on our other 3 rogues.

Overall, it was a great addition to the world that is the Star Wars post Disney Canon. Would definitely (and probably soon) watch it again.

Minor Spoilers below:

The CGI used on Tarkin and Leia was great, and as I said, 95% there. While I was taken out a bit, at the end of the day, seeing Peter Cushing standing there and interacting with the other characters was amazing. And it made sense to have a young Princess Leia on the Tantive IV.

The Alliance scenes were cool, especially a young Mon Mothma and Bail Organa, a throw away line referencing Obi Wan Kenobi, and pf course in the finale, the return of Red Leader and Gold Leader from 1977’s A New Hope with some reused footage.

Finally, Darth Vader, the scene where he is just cutting up Rebels at the end, amazing!! And how that scene leads directly into the opening of A New Hope, also amazing!!

Ok, now go watch it!!

Movie Review: Doctor Strange – NO SPOILERS

Now I’m not the biggest Doctor Strange fan by any stretch. Even among the Marvel fanbase, he’s not huge front line wise compared to say the X-Men, Spidey, and the Avengers. However my limited knowledge of the character was enough for me to walk into this movie excited. How was it? Well, it was pretty good. But it didn’t wow me the way I had hoped. Not too long ago, Marvel made Ant Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy work on screen. Trying to ground everything in realism for Phase 1 to talking raccoons into the later Phases of Marvel, it was always going to be interesting how they would bring the Sorcerer Supreme to life.

Starting with Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, I was actually quite pleasantly surprised with how much I liked him as a character. I did go in a bit worried that I’d be taken out of the movie because all I’d be seeing was Sherlock on drugs. But instead I was presented with an updated Stephen Strange. Though at times, he was almost bordering on Tony Stark lite. Here’s hoping for a Mustache Bros high five later on. The decision to make Baron Mordo a secondary protagonist as opposed to his arch villain from the comics was also quite interesting. The story of Strange and Mordo works well enough that the conflict suddenly becomes more personal if and when Mordo shows up and turns bad like he does in the comics. The Ancient One worked quite well, and the slight tweak to the story we all know was welcome enough that I could see it eventually driving a wedge between Strange and Mordo. As for our main villain, typical Marvel bad guy, it’s especially difficult when with any Marvel movie, most tend to measure any antagonist against Loki.

With regards to the story, not much else to say except for the fact that it really is a standard Marvel Origin story, but with Magic. I will however say that there were times I felt that the jokes were getting to be a bit too much. Having said that, it was no where near the level of over the top one liners that we got in Age of Ultron. The magic and spells were great and while they still leaned towards a science and magic approach like Thor, it was still great once the actual fighting happened. And rather than the old traditional Magic battles that you would think of,like in Harry Potter for example, here, we’re effectively getting Kung Fu Magic. My own personal take, this is how the action in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender should have been.

Overall, the movie works as it is, but it’s not going to be at the top of my Marvel list. However, when the top of the list of favorite Marvel movies is The Winter Solider, it’s actually not too bad. It’s still miles ahead of Iron Man 3. The characters are likeable, and there is, as always room for a sequel. This may have also detracted from it a bit, because of the need to keep sequels open. Having said that, it’s still a very enjoyable Marvel movie, and a good addition to the MCU as a whole.

Random Blog: DC Rebirth now a few months in

It’s now been a few months since DC Rebirth kicked off. When it was first announced, many screamed “another reboot?!”, especially since we only just had the New 52 a few years ago. Now a few months into reading some of the regular titles, I must say, DC Rebirth is easily one of the best things to happen to DC in a long time. I feel so engaged with the story and everything that’s happening, I can’t wait until the next issue to come out.

Titles I’m currently following are:

  • Superman
  • Action Comics
  • Batman
  • Detective Comics
  • Supergirl
  • Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corp
  • Green Lanterns
  • Nightwing
  • Justice League
  • Wonder Woman
  • Trinity
  • Titans

The two that have really stood out for me are the Action Comics and Detective Comics series. So many unanswered questions, but the stories are so good, I keep coming back for more! Detective Comics #940 for me was an incredible issue (which I won’t spoil)Full size image What I’m loving about it was the whole classic Batman feel to it that I had when I was reading the Batman and Robin stories from the 1990s.

Everything about Rebirth feels both new yet classic at the same time. And while we still have the whole Doctor Manhattan thing to address from Rebirth #1 (that’s not a spoiler…everyone knows this by now), I hope that DC doesn’t stop putting out great issues like this.

Random thoughts done!

Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond – No Spoilers

Having been a huge geek for a long time, I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek, yes even the bad movies, and even the one with the whales (Nuclear Wessels anyone?). So when JJ Abrams rebooted Star Trek back in 2009 with the original crew and new cast members, I was excited and nervous to see how characters I’d loved for so long would be portrayed by a new cast. In short, I enjoyed the first two “reboot” movies, but they never quite felt like old school Star Trek. Something was always a little different to the Trek movies I had watched in the past. And I’ve watched all of them, First Contact is still my favorite of the TNG movies, and of course, Wrath of Kahn for the Original Crew. Watching Star Trek Beyond, I actually felt like I was watching an old Star Trek movie again, with all the fun from the first two Abrams movies.

Starting out with a Captain’s Log entry was great. If I recall correctly, the other two movies didn’t start that way. Spoilers, in the 2009 movie, we’re shown the destruction of the USS Kelvin, and in Star Trek into Darkness, we’ve got that random volcano sequence. Here, after a brief little adventure and a nod to Kirk always having his shirts ripped, we’re straight into a Captain’s Log, and a montage of the crew of the Enterprise. Soon, we’re at the Yorktown Space Station for a bit of down time, until some stuff happens which sets our plot in motion.

The cast does quite well, I really enjoyed Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto’s moments as Bones and Spock together on screen, and as for Anton Yelchin as Chekov, I really did enjoy his performance which makes the news of his death earlier this year very sad. The rest of the crew function as they normally would. My personal biggest complaint is the whole Spock and Uhura relationship that has been going on throughout the reboot movies, because it’s the only thing that doesn’t seem Spock like when I compare them to the original cast. Everything else feels fine. The main villain’s introduction is cool, but you’re really left hanging until right near the end to see what exactly his main motivation is. It’s good motivation, but I do wish it had been fleshed out a little more. New addition to our team of protagonists, Jaylah is, for me, a very fun character. Again, wish we’d had a little bit more back story, but what we’re given is enough for you to figure it out. And without spoiling too much, the fact that the Beastie Boys are referenced as “classical music” during one scene definitely did put a smile on my face.

Overall, very enjoyable, and a good addition to the list of Star Trek movies that I’ll want to revisit again and again.

Comic Review: DC Universe Rebirth #1 – SPOILERS

First things first, it’s hard to talk about this without spoilers. So this is a full spoiler warning right now. If you are planning to read DC Universe Rebirth #1 and do not want it spoiled – bookmark this post, and then come back.

Review begins now…

DC Universe Rebirth #1 has me wanting to read comics again. For the first time in years, I’m actually excited about what’s to come next. When DC introduced the New 52, part of me was excited. A new taken on classic heroes, new stories, free from years of continuity, it sounded great on paper. Crisis On Infinite Earths, where everything was almost a clean slate (almost). Instead the New 52 was, well it wasn’t my favorite thing in the world. And my biggest complaints were what they had done to Superman, and that, for some reason, they wanted to keep all of the Green Lantern history in continuity, but everyone else gets a reset. Same thing with Batman. He had all the Robins there, except now one was not really a “Robin” and was instead “Red Robin”. Tim Drake fully got screwed over in the New 52 by the way. As much as I find Damien Wayne interesting, Tim Drake needed a bit more love. But no one got it worse than Wally West. The original Kid Flash, and for most of my comic reading life (I was born post Crisis on Infinite Earths), he was The Flash.

For me, the New 52 didn’t take any inspiration from what came before, instead it tried to be “dark and gritty”, thanks to the popularity of Nolan’s Batman films, DC also became “dark and gritty”, and it didn’t work. It turned me off reading comics. In short, my DC Universe growing up was the Post Crisis, pre Flashpoint/New 52 Universe which spanned from the 1980s til the 2000s. The continuity which inspired shows such as Batman The Animated Series, Superman The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, and my personal favorite, Young Justice. So to my surprise, the issue is told mostly from the point of view of Wally West. Not the New 52 Wally West, but the original Wally West. My favorite version of The Flash. Seeing him on the page immediately thrust me back into a world that I had forgotten about.

To be perfectly clear, DC Universe Rebirth isn’t a reboot. Everything isn’t being set back to zero. It’s not going back to the nice clean original status quo that everyone knew. Instead, it’s a great starting off point. We only saw flashes (pun so 100% intended) of what is to come, but the biggest overall theme which came to me when reading the issue was, there is hope and love again in the DC Universe. It’s only one issue, but it’s as if DC was saying, “Ok, we get it, we got too dark, we got too gritty, here smile and love life again! Be hopeful!” and nothing summed that up better than the page where Barry Allen, the Flash, suddenly remembered who Wally West is and pulled him out of the Speed Force and into the main DC Universe. Best panel ever! Read the issue, I won’t spoil that for you here, but it really did bring a tear to my eye.

Other things that were touched on, briefly, Dick Grayson returning as Nightwing, the older Pre Flashpoint Superman taking over as the New 52 Superman in continuity after the events of Superman #52 (not spoiling that for you either), the mystery of the Joker(s) and what it means for Batman, Ryan Choi’s Atom coming back and looking for Ray Palmer, Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes together, Aqualad from Young Justice, and the return of a lot of the classic relationships. Aquaman and Mera, Green Arrow and Black Canary, and the older Clark Kent/Superman being married to the Pre Flashpoint Lois Lane (under the disguise of the White Family), raising their son Jonathan, who will become the new Superboy.

The biggest reveal had to be at the end, when Wally West and Barry Allen were talking. Wally telling Barry he wasn’t responsible for the New 52, that someone had taken years from their history and robbed the DC Universe of all the relationships and bonds that had made the heroes strong. That the years taken stole the love from the universe (that’s actually the thing he said, I’m not making that up). The next panel then showing Batman holding The Comedian’s pin from The Watchmen, basically implying The Watchmen, are in the DC Universe now, and that Doctor Manhattan used the Flashpoint event to alter the DC Universe and create what we know as the New 52. How this plays out in the future, we’ll have to see, but the fact that there is now a possibility to see Superman taken on Doctor Manhattan, that should have anyone excited.

Overall, DC Universe Rebirth #1 was a very pleasant surprise. It made me want to read the next few issues again. So much so, that I now need to start budgeting for monthly comics, because there are certain titles I will want to follow again. I recommend any comic fan picks this up, allow yourself to experience DC as it should have been during the New 52. DC Universe, welcome home!

 

Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse – No Spoilers

The latest from Fox’s X-Men franchise has hit. How was it? It was ok. This is effectively the concluding chapter of the  semi-reboot of the X-Men series which started during X-Men First Class, and as usual, the third one in the series isn’t quite as good as the rest. That’s not to say that it’s a bad movie. I enjoyed it over all, but for me, Days of Future Past is a little bit better.

A few minor complaints – Apocalypse needed to be BIGGER! The moment he shows up with all Four Horsemen should have been a WTH moment…but instead, I laughed a bit because he looked like he was the shortest. And there were a few too many characters to introduce, so it did suffer a bit from too many things going on.

Things I liked – Nightcrawler was awesome. As was Quicksilver. I won’t say much else because that would be spoiling things. Cyclops worked, but Jean Grey…I’ll say no more. And right near the end, it really felt like classic X-Men. This image from Empire Magazine really summed it up nicely though:

There was also one cameo in the movie which was incredible. It was slightly spoiled in the trailers, but I won’t say much else. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.

Overall, a good time, enjoyable, but just falls short of the previous entry.

Movie Review: “Captain America: Civil War” – NO SPOILERS

Before the review begins, let me just put this out there – as much as I enjoyed Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, and it has been said that Tobey Maguire was the better Peter Parker, while Andrew Garfield captured Spider-Man’s wittiness and sarcasm, after both of those attempts at Spider-Man, this was the time I felt like I was seeing a Spidey that had honestly just stepped out of the comic book and came to life.

Captain America: Civil War, the latest in a long line of movies from Marvel Studios, for me is probably a very close second to my favorite MCU Movie, which is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Russo Brothers have done it again. It was such a wild ride, and honestly right in the feels. As I was watching, I couldn’t help but think, this was a better Avengers movie that Age of Ultron was. And while at times, I did feel like they were spending too much time with the other characters, at the end of the day, it really was a Captain America movie.

Without giving too much away, the way in which you see friends become enemies really does hit you deep down inside. These are people who have stood by each other, fought by each other’s sides and defended the world together, but are now torn down the middle due to the Sokovia Accords. I, like many people were firmly Team Captain America going in, but what was great was that you couldn’t help but sympathize with Team Iron Man as well. Both sides made sense, and that’s what made it great.

A few other minor bits and pieces to hopefully entice you to watch:

Captain America and Iron Man – I think what was great was the fact that they showed that, while they did respect each other, both showed that they weren’t willing to back down from their points of view. When watched in context of the other MCU movies leading up to this, both of their positions make sense. With Cap, from The First Avenger to The Winter Solider, he’s grown a bit less trusting of the established governments and would rather fight for what is right just for the sake of doing the right thing, and not have to give up that independent decision to make those choices. While Iron Man, from Iron Man 1-3 and Age of Ultron, seeing his every attempt to make the world safer backfire and cause more damage, culminating in the creation of Ultron, it makes sense that he wants a check put in place that is overseeing him, and that he would prefer that all heroes and enhanced individuals be held accountable for their actions. I’m seriously looking forward to seeing where they go with their characters after this movie.

The relationship between Falcon and Bucky is hilarious. There was unexpected banter between the two which made for good laughs. Also they both seemed, in my opinion, slightly jealous of the other. Falcon being Steve’s best friend in modern times, Bucky being Steve’s childhood friend and his last connection to the 40s. The rest of Team Cap is great, and in all honesty, Scarlet Witch, Wanda, her power set is amazing! But definitely for Team Cap, Ant Man definitely steals the show. I won’t say why, but it’s amazing. Within Team Iron Man, the constant bromance between Stark and Rhodes will definitely also get you right in the feels. Most have seen trailers already, but I won’t spoil the conclusion of those scenes. Vision, great development from Age of Ultron, still learning things like social interaction. But as with Team Cap, Team Iron Man has a bug based star, Spider-Man really steals every scene he’s in, and he is absolutely hilarious when he does so. Minor spoiler for Spider-Man – NO ORIGIN STORY!! Wooohoo!!  Black Panther comes in second place for awesomeness in Team Iron Man. He has his own character arch throughout the movie, which is actually one of the best story lines in the film.

Overall, Captain America: Civil War is a great addition to the MCU. Much like The Winter Solider, it completely changes the face of the MCU. Overall, it’s a 9/10 for me. Would definitely watch again!