Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Review

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Summary: Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.
**So I think I’m going to do a spoiler review just because I really want to talk about every thing and can’t in a regular review so look out for that.
Pros:
Cast and Characters.
  • Tom Holland as Peter Parker. So I’m going to say it. I’m sure other reviewers have and many people agree but I think he is the best Peter Parker AND Spider-Man. Look, Maguire was a pretty good Peter (too whiny for me at times) and Garfield was a good Spider-Man (though I thought he did well for Peter just a bit more modern). But Tom Holland I think is perfect. He was perfect in Civil War and seeing him in this film solidified that for me. He really manages to find that perfect balance between his predecessors. There was definitely freshness in there but it also felt familiar. Peter is 15 in this film, it follows the events of Civil War and he hopes that Tony will call for his help again. He craves to be part of the action and to figure out who he is in this super hero world. He is also dealing with every day teenage problems: liking girls, his aunt talking about puberty, the homecoming dance and he also wants to save the day. I love Peter, I always have and I don’t think I’ve loved him in film as much as I did here. Tom Holland really brought the character to life and I really appreciate that he looks and sounds young and the character IS young. He’s a sophomore! Room to grow! Definitely a Spider-Man/Peter Parker to remember. I can’t wait to see more.
  • Michael Keaton as Adrian Tooms. He will always be my Batman, but I thought he was great here. He is definitely a fantastic villain. The beginning shows us him working on cleaning up the mess from the first Avengers film. When his business is shut down, he becomes an arms trafficker where they steal what they can from armored trucks and Avengers’ sites and make new weapons. He is determined to protect his family. Michael Keaton is threatening, intimidating and terrifying as this guy which is a feat as the comic character is so lame looking. Keaton manages to make him cool! Plus, you understand him. He is definitely one of MCU’s best villains  as you understand him, you may even feel for him and of course he’s brilliantly acted.
  • Jacob Batalon as Ned. He is Peter’s best friend, he’s his “guy in the chair”, his “right hand man” among other best friend titles. Ned is great comic relief at times, but he also obviously cares for his friend and wants to help him while also helping himself. It’s not malicious or anything but ya know, their in high school and unpopular. He got a lot of laughs. I thought Tom and Jacob had great chemistry as friends, and that Jacob managed to be not only similar to Tom as Peter but the level head when it was needed.
  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. I mean, what else can be said about RDJ as Tony Stark. He’s not in the movie as much as the trailers let on, those scenes they showed and maybe one more is all. But I thought he was a great addition as Peter is similar to him in ways. He of course comes off as a rude dude due to the fact that he pulled Peter into the fight in Civil War but then just drops him off back at home and expects that kid to not want to be involved more. I was like meh Tony, and I get it but seriously. He has great chemistry with Tom Holland and while he’s still funny Tony Stark, he definitely falls into the role of “mentor” a lot of times. It’s nice to see a bit more of a mature nature from Tony, the events of Civil War definitely took their toll.
Supporting Characters. There are many who show up, Aunt May (who is great), Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), Bokeem Woodbine, Jon Favreau (Happy).
  • Zendaya as Michelle. She is a bit weird, she’s intellectual, a bit unkempt and very into her books. She’s a mysterious character in who she is exactly but I’m sure people have their theories. But I love Zendaya, whenever she was on screen, my eyes did move towards her. She has a relationship with Peter but it’s like the beginning stages of one. She’s funny and odd but I loved it. Zendaya is great and I hope they allow her character to grow in future movies and that we get to see a character expansion, but I’m also definitely okay with a slow burn for her too considering the comics.
  • Laura Harrier as Liz Allen. There’s a definite twist with her that I did not see coming, it was great BUT I thought she was very cute. She’s very smart, the Captain of their academic team and very sweet. We see her reach out to Peter in different ways, especially being that he’s a Sophomore and she’s a Senior. It works and it’s cute. I thought for the first high school crush she was a good character to introduce and that Laura was a great addition to the cast.
It’s Diverse! I mean sure, the two leads are white males, but I was quite pleased to see that most of the surrounding supporting cast were people of color. Tony Revolori was Flash Thompson, Michelle, Liz Allen, Ned, even one of Adrian’s main henchmen was Bokeem Woodbine. I’m interested to see how they handle everyone else who plays a major role in Peter’s life.
The Humor. Spider-Man is known for being witty, for talking a lot during a fight and I love it. I thought the humor for the most part was great and it landed. Tom Holland has a natural knack for humor and I think he handled Peter’s awkwardness and Spider-Man’s wit very well.
The Action. Spider-Man is interesting in his fighting style. He of course has his powers, not to mention his web shooters but he can actually fight pretty well. I wonder who taught him. Did he teach himself? Those are questions in these movies that no one ever answered that I think would be nice to just throw in there. I know that he has taught himself but it would be a good line in there or something. But anyway, Spider-Man has always had a unique fighting style where he uses everything he has in tandem and overwhelmed his opponents (which is why I love him so much) and I thought they were able to capture that well. He’s still a bit new at this so he’s clumsy and makes a mess of things, but it’s so interesting watching him work. The fights between him and Vulture were great, especially in the air. I love the scene at the end, it was handled so well.
The emotional parts. There’s not a lot of them or anything but the ones that they have are some really good ones. There’s a scene between Peter and Aunt May that was subtle but emotional and then one later on with Peter having to save himself. That was a really good moment as well.
Nods to the comics/Easter Eggs. I mean every comic book movie does this, but I thought this was handled so well, especially since this version is put out by both Disney/Marvel and Sony (I wish Sony would just give it up though). I just loved the nuggets, like even though they didn’t talk about Uncle Ben or show anything about him, you knew that it was recent and that May was still affected by it. We even saw Betty Brant, she was a school reporter which is a nod to her future at the Daily Bugle.  I will discuss this more in the Spoiler Review. 
The Opening Scene. We definitely get to see Peter’s point of view of his involvement in Civil War and it was so cute and something a 15 year old would do. It puts right into Peter’s personality and I loved it. I grinned like an idiot.
Cons:
Slow in the beginning. I think it has a nice buildup, we really get to sit and be with Peter while he tries to be a neighborhood Spider-Man but it does take a moment to get it’s momentum. It didn’t bother me much as I like slow burns, but I can definitely imagine that some people would squirm because they’re ready for the action.
Too heavy handed with the humor. I really liked the humor but sometimes I don’t think the jokes hit every time. I know that Spider-Man is iconic for his quips, especially when fighting etc. but it doesn’t always translate well each time. Sometimes it was joke, joke, joke and I was like blah blah. Of course humor is subjective
The Tech in the suit. So, obviously since Tony Stark made Spider-Man’s suit, there’s a lot of tech in there and it was helpful but there were a lot of times when I rolled my eyes at it because it was too much like Iron Spider and we’re not there yet.
Overall, I really loved this film. I definitely think that Tom Holland managed to make Peter Parker and Spider-Man his own while being the best at balancing the two. He led the film very well, especially as we spent so much time with him. Michael Keaton is a great and intimidating villain and I think he was a worthy opponent for Peter. The action is great and fun to watch, especially watching the cool things Peter can do in that suit (even though I thought it was too much at times). The other characters are great and feel important to the story and aren’t just there to just be easter eggs for the comics. I loved the introduction to Peter in the film with his little mini movie detailing his Civil War perspective. The emotional bits make you miss things that they miss even if the viewers weren’t forced to watch things we’ve seen many times before. I appreciate that it’s not an origin story but puts us right in the thick of it. It’s diverse, it’s funny, the easter eggs are great and it feels fresh. On the other hand, the humor can be a bit childish and the jokes don’t always land, sometimes the action can get a little hard to see especially when it’s close fighting, I don’t care for the tech in Peter’s suit much but it served it’s purpose.
Rating: 4.80 out of 5 stars
Have you seen Spider-Man: Homecoming? Where do you think it ranks in the MCU? Which Peter Parker/Spider-Man is the best?
Let me know in the comments below!
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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017) Review

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Summary: Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.
*Mild spoilers ahead but the movie has been out for like two weeks. I’m late but ya know.
Pros:
Cast and Characters.
  • Chris Pratt as Peter “Star Lord” Quill. In this film, he’s still leading the group and actually seems to have grown up a bit. This is evident in the beginning of the film where Rocket is trying to put on music for the fight and he agrees with Drax that this isn’t a good idea right now. However, he’s not really succeeding. In all of the arguments, he meets a man who claims to be his father and at first he’s not really buying it but thanks to Gamora’s encouragement he listens to this mysterious man’s claims. It’s interesting watching him, because in the first film he was a bit cocky and a bit more sure of himself, in this one, he’s not as cocky nor as sure. He’s the leader of the group but he doesn’t seem to believe in himself like before. Once he meets Ego, who claims to be his father, he’s not sure but it’s something he’s always wanted so he’s willing to listen and it’s easy to tell that he wants it so badly. I like Chris Pratt, he’s very likable and he’s likable in this role and once again his Star Lord is a very fun and grounded character. He manages to put a bit more of a chilled performance compared to the first film. Peter wants this so badly to be true and when he starts to believe it, it’s almost kind of heartbreaking and definitely towards the end, Pratt’s performance is really emotional towards the end.
  • Zoe Saldana as Gamora. She’s always good in these particular roles, Gamora is more of an active role but this film allows her to do a bit more emotional things. She is the voice of reason and the only woman, so she has to really assert herself, not that she really has too, but she does. Not to mention, it’s adorable how she handles Baby Groot. She’s very detailed, and definitely the second in command because whenever Quill is on the receiving end of her rants, she is in charge. She also wants to believe for him that Ego is his father, she encourages him. But Gamora is also perceptive unless it comes to her own feelings towards Quill. Her relationship with Nebula is also interesting, it’s volatile but there might be some hope.
  • Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon. He was my favorite from the first film and that is the same here though I will admit there are some annoying things about him which I hope with how the film ended, they allow that to change in Vol 3. I think out of everyone from the first film, he had the least change as this film allows him to really think about his place in the group and whether or not he fits. In the first film, it was fun and easy because they had a common goal for the most part, and now it’s like he’s stuck with them. His relationship with Groot has also changed, Rocket has taken over being the protector, and while he still kind of talks to Groot the same, he’s a bit nicer about it as he’s a Baby lol. But you can also tell that the friendship is different as Groot is different, so he has to struggle with that. Bradley Cooper once again does a great voice over job for this character, I can’t think of a better actor. He really delivers when it comes to Rocket’s one liners, to his moments of humor and towards the end his moments of emotion, handled so very well. Also to his team of animators and the actor doing his motion capture, all great jobs.
  • Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer. He has definitely changed a lot from the first film, he has much more fun and more driven by being with his new family than by revenge. He had to accept that in the first film and we see that come to a head in this film. Drax loves to fight, he’s a bit over the top in how loud his laughs are, or how certain lines are delivered but I think that’s just the charm of the character so I don’t count that against Dave Bautista who I think is even better here than he was in the first film. His scene in Ego’s ship was hilarious. He also gets a couple of emotional moments, which were also handled very well.
  • Vin Diesel as Baby Groot. So I didn’t really want to put Vin Diesel here but I kind of had to…but I loved Baby Groot, if he wasn’t the cutest thing. I read that he doesn’t have any previous memories, so he learns as he goes along, which that’s kind of easy to tell with how he approaches things. For the character, he’s smaller, so he can’t really do the things he did as Big Groot but it’s cute to watch him get upset and try. I had wanted to hold him when he and Rocket got caught by some Ravagers and they were being mean to him. Also towards the end there’s a little scene where it looked like he was crying and I was like “my baby!” I want one. Once again Vin Diesel did the voice over work, he did a higher register and then they of course knocked it even higher. I read that James Gunn had all of his lines “I am Groot” in English so Diesel knew how to speak the line and I think that helps because even though he’s saying the same words repeatedly it does sound like he’s saying something different each time. Also, stick around for the credits because there’s another scene with him.
  • Michael Rooker as Yondu. He is the leader of the Ravagers and he also raised Quill pretty much. In this film, he’s much more serious compared to the first film where he was just trying to get Quill back. He deals with his own demons, faces his own problems and I think not only was it handled well, it didn’t feel like it was just shoehorned in there, it was needed, especially to mirror other plot lines going on. It’s easy to tell that while he and Quill don’t always get along, he actually does care about him and the way the film ends, I thought was perfect. Michael Rooker still has that real country voice for the character, which fits, his look is great, his fin is a lot bigger and his arrow is still super cool… but I liked him a lot more here. He’s still intimidating but because of the extra bit of character development we get, Michael Rooker was able to find the balance between being big and large and being subdued. Also, those teeth lol.
  • Karen Gillan as Nebula. I liked her in the first film, she was interesting and a lot of her moments and lines were hilarious. We see her again from the beginning, the Guardians acquire her to turn her in for a bounty, but things happen and she has her own plans, mostly revenge against Gamora and Thanos. She is angry but there are cracks, there is pain and she reveals some of the things that were done to her, and how she felt about it. She has a couple of monologues that no one wants to listen to because she’s intimidating (which are funny) but the words are intense. Her runs in with Gamora lead to some great action scenes but their interactions are more than that and I think we’ll see their relationship begin to mend… maybe. Karen Gillan is fun, she gets to mean mug a lot and do a lot of angered whispering which works for the character and it makes me laugh. A bit exaggerated but it works for the character for the most part.
  • Kurt Russell as Ego. It’s told pretty early that he’s Quill’s dad which is really cool that the viewers learn more of his heritage. BUT outside of the last 30 minutes or so he mainly just talks a lot and gives a lot of exposition. However, when the climax happens, it’s pretty cool and scary in places. I like Kurt Russell, I think he’s a good actor and I thought his chemistry with Chris Pratt was good, but I think it’s kind of unfortunate that he spent a lot of time just talking.
The Opening Scene. In the opening scene, the Guardians are preparing to battle a monster while Rocket is trying to hook up speakers. The monster shows up and the battle has started and Baby Groot has managed to connect the speakers and the music starts. The first 30 seconds or so, have Baby Groot in focus while in the background you see the other Guardians fighting, then as it continues, BG is dancing to the music while the battle rages on. It’s the cutest thing and it made me smile like an idiot because I thought that was a very unique way to shoot the fight. The Guardians only come into focus if one of them is shouting at BG to get out of the way, or it they’re thrown in his direction. It’s a super fun opening.
The First Space Ship Scene. After the great opener, the Guardians are pursued by a fleet of ships and that scene was so much fun. Their pursuers aren’t even really flying their ships, it’s remote piloting, but they’re flying like their at an arcade. It was a great reveal and great to see them crowd around one pod cheering them on like a game. The chase itself was also great, watching Quill and Rocket maneuver the Milano through the ships and through the meteor field.
Rocket’s Forest Scene. AH MAN! He has this great scene where a group of people are approaching the area, Rocket is up in a tree and he’s set traps, he’s basically putting those people through the ringer and it was one of the best scenes. It was great seeing Rocket do something on his own, to really see him show his physical ability, we didn’t really get to see that in the first film and we really got see that in this film. He was so fast. I loved it. He’s my favorite, so the scene really allowed for him to do a lot.
The Music. The Awesome Mixtape #2 is awesome. The collection of songs they chose were selected very carefully, they really fit in the film. It also helps that a lot of times, someone is actively listening to the music so it doesn’t feel random and out of place, not that it would because the music always goes so well in the Guardians films.
The Humor. It’s really funny. The chemistry between the characters and the cast is so great that their humor and banter just seems so natural. It’s really funny. Especially when they’re not beating the dead joke horse. Drax’s laugh in itself is funny. Baby Groot got a lot of laughs from me, his reaction to people looking down on him because he’s so small. It was hilarious.
The Action/Fight Scenes. This is a superhero film, it definitely requires action and fight scenes. It delivers on that. From the first scene to the very last scene, there is always something happening, it’s pretty fast paced and even though there isn’t a fight scene in every moment, the pace doesn’t lag. It may slow down a bit to let you catch your breath but then something else is happening.
The Effects. Wow, it’s so beautiful. Ego’s planet alone was so beautiful, the attention to detail, especially in the little moving pictures he showed them of his history. It was so cool. Of course Baby Groot and Rocket’s animation was fantastic in how realistic they look in this world.
The Message. It actually is a pretty simple one, and the way it’s approached is the usual one, but the package is so big and grand that if you’re not paying attention, it might just pass you right on by. It’s definitely a message to live by. Don’t ignore what’s right in front of you because sometimes what you’ve been looking for has been there all this time.
The Emotion. I was actually a little surprised at how emotional it gets towards the end. I actually cried. I don’t want to spoil it, but definitely got emotional. The Message is a good one, and the relationships that some of the characters didn’t consider beforehand really get put in their faces in this film and makes them face it. It got way more emotional than I expected.
Cons:
Doesn’t feel as fresh. I think the first one was so surprising, it was so different and it was fun. This one is the same but it just doesn’t feel the same as the first one, it doesn’t feel as fresh but in some areas a little stale. I know Drax has his things he says but sometimes it’s just *sighs* please. Even sometimes the characters can get a little grating, every family has it’s issues but sometimes it just got a little overdramatic.
A little disjointed. So there are times where this movie kind of has random things happen, or things happen right after other things and it’s kind of weird because it doesn’t feel like it fits. Mostly with the gold people, it gets some laughs, especially in the first scene where it makes sense that they show up but afterwards it kind of just feels out of place.
The Effects. They’re here because there are some times where it looks super fake. In the beginning we see a young Kurt Russell and my lord it was terrible. I don’t know if it was supposed to be due to what Ego was doing but still, it kind of freaked me out.
Mantis’ Importance. Pom Klementieff as Mantis was really cool. I liked her look and I thought she was cute and funny, but outside of being a plot device, and serving as exposition a couple of times, she really didn’t add anything to the film. It has nothing to do with her acting but the character’s importance.
Repeated Jokes. Sometimes, the jokes just feel like they’re hitting you over the head with them. There’s a joke with Rocket and a dude over his name and they just keep going on it for at least a whole minute and I was over it after the first time. Sometimes the jokes, or the ‘isms’ just aren’t as funny if they keep  hitting on it multiple times.
Overall, I really enjoyed myself in this film. It’s really fun and while I pulled out some of the memorable action scenes, this film focuses mostly on the characters and their backstories, to give them a bit more character and to ground them in the world. It’s amazing. It’s definitely Star Lord’s story though. All of the characters, well most of them, Quill, Gamora and Rocket definitely have moments where they need to address their feelings, their pain and Yondu’s story was a very surprising addition. Baby Groot was adorable and it was fun. However, the humor definitely did not always hit and it got a little annoying, it felt choppy and disjointed and it doesn’t feel as fresh as the first one. It deals with new things. The ride is great, I think the characters are good and those are the standouts for the film were the characters and the performances.
Rating: 4.50 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2? Was it better than the first?
What is your favorite Marvel Cinematic Movie?
Let me know in the comments below!
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I prefer this picture but Baby Groot is missing so it’s down here.

Top 10 Best Films of 2016

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This is my personal list of the best films of this year. I loved all of the movies on this list, or really liked them, and recognize they are good films. This list is my opinion, it’s alright if you don’t agree. There were a lot of movies I liked this year so this list took a while to get down to ten but that’s why I have honorable mentions lol. I haven’t seen everything that came out so some things aren’t on here unfortunately. Click HERE for my worst list.
Also, not every film on this list I did a review for, but the ones I did, I will put a link.
Honorable Mentions: The Jungle BookThe Neon Demon, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Lobster, Eye In the Sky, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
My Top 10 Best Films of 2016
10. The Boy and the Beast 
 the-boy-and-the-beastI didn’t do a review for this film, but this is an anime film. Chris Stuckmann said it best it’s like Karate Kid with anamorphic animals. A human boy finds this world, he doesn’t have a relationship with his father and he ends up becoming the apprentice to this bear like man. It’s so beautifully animated, the characters are fantastic, and while they’re not all “good people” I think they’re all likable to the point where you can’t help but feel connected to them. Especially Ren, the main character. I loved his relationship to his mentor, it came off antagonistic a lot but you could tell they cared about each other. It’s very emotional and heartfelt but I do think it’s very interesting, especially the third act. It’s kind of weird but it’s great.
9. Kicks
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I loved this movie, but it was so under the radar that I don’t think many people saw it. However, I loved the cinematography, I thought the direction was great because it felt like I was actually there alongside Brandon trying to get his shoes back. Oakland looked real. I thought Jahking Guillory did a great job holding his own in this role, I hope to see more from him in the future. The story is a bit basic but the journey this character takes over something that seems so trivial is amazing because in this world, those shoes mean something to him. I also loved the idealism of the astronaut being there. It’s a very unique film.
8. Swiss Army Man
SWISS ARMY MAN (2016) Daniel Radcliffe and Paul DanoI actually debated with myself a lot about doing a review for this one but I ended up not doing it because it’s so hard to get my thoughts out about it. But it’s so good. It’s weird, believe me it’s weird, but Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe work so well together, it’s hilarious, it’s emotional and kind of sad in many areas but it’s also kind of uplifting. The music is FANTASTIC, probably one of my favorite elements about the film. The cinematography is so crisp and clear. Definitely check this one out.
7. Fences
fences-header-photoI think is a great character study film. Between Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, the talent and emotion explodes from the screen. August Wilson is a fantastic writer and these characters are complex human beings. Outside of a few editing choices, I think the direction is great, I loved how the camera would sometimes view the characters from a window, or through the tree branches, or through the fence… it was amazing. I do think it was a bit wordy but the words are magical, they build these characters up in ways that allows them to be understood. All of the characters are interesting people. Viola Davis though, she’s a powerhouse.
6. Moana
 disney-moana-mauiI don’t think it’s any surprise that this is on my list because I adore Disney. The music. THE MUSIC! The animation! The visuals! Moana and Maui BOTH are so great characters! The voice acting, Auli’i and Dwayne were both so good here. THE MUSIC! The animation! This is classic Disney, sure the story is basic but the wrapping is amazing because while we’ve heard the story before, the culture used, the way the story is told, the music used to tell it is all so new. Disney needs to keep moving forward like this, new cultures and have the voice actors be people who mirror those characters.
5. Deadpool
 deadpool1-gallery-imageThis film was very necessary in for comic book films. I do believe it’s a great film and the experience in the theater was so fun that it’s unforgettable. This is definitely something that’s rewatchable over and over again. I think it was necessary because so many comic book movies could have been rated R, should have been rated R but of course ya know, general audience and stuff. But Deadpool IS and that helps the future of these films, they shouldn’t be so scared anymore. PLUS, Ryan Reynolds owns this role, the inclusion of Colossus and NegaSonic Teenage Warhead was great, their chemistry together and then their chemistry with Wade is gold. The humor, the opening scene ALONE is gold. I loved it. I had such a great time, I don’t think I laughed so much at a superhero movie in forever.
4. Kubo and the Two Strings
kubo-and-the-two-strings-international-posterI looooove this movie. Laika is amazing! The animation in this film! Look at the picture! Look at it! The main three characters are absolutely amazing and so interesting. Kubo is your “hero” of course, but he’s a storyteller who uses magical origami to tell them. His instrument is the object in which he uses to channel his magic. He embarks on a quest to find a magical armor and the journey is so much fun. Along the way we meet Monkey and Beetle whose relationship is so humorous, playful and sometimes antagonistic but they work together because they both end up caring about Kubo. The eyes are so very important in this film and the animation and design, spectacular. Also the music. Wow. I saw this movie earlier in the year and I have not forgotten about it. I think it’s one of Laika’s best films and one of the best animated films I’ve seen.
3. Captain America: Civil War
captain-america-civil-war-key-artFirst of all, I love the MCU, I love superhero films and this is one of the best. What Marvel Studios has done is create this world, and these characters where they are so likable, relatable and so emotionally grabbing that in this film, there is no way (unless you are just soo biased) that you do not flip flop sides or at least understand where the other is coming from. I am unwavering Team Cap BUT the script was so well written in terms of this rift in the Avengers that I could not believe that I was understanding Tony’s side (unlike the comics where he’s just a douche). Both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. do so well. The inclusion of Black Panther and Spider Man were stellar choices, they weren’t underused or overused and it helps continue to build this world. The film was funny but it was also emotional. The action scenes are top notch, the airport scene and the end fight between Cap, Bucky and Tony was so gut-wrenching that I almost cried. There are a few plot elements that are questionable but I do believe it was handled very well here. This is my second favorite Superhero movie ever and it’s definitely one that I would watch quite often.
2. Zootopia
 cft6aicuiaaf-juThe way I feel about Zootopia… such a clever film. Very different from what Disney usually gives us and I loved it. I think Zootopia has a lot of hidden gems. Judy and Nick are great interesting characters, they both are very different and work so well together. Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman were great in these roles. The music is nice and the song is catchy, the animation is beautiful, the world created in this film is expansive. There is so much more than can explore, I hope they do. It’s hilarious, that slot scene gets me every time, it’s emotional, I think I’ve cried each time I’ve watched it. The underlying message is relevant and I don’t think they do it in a manipulative way. I think they handled it for an animated film with class. I personally think it’s more for adults than for kids but kids will enjoy it and I think adults will appreciate what it’s saying. A definite must watch.
1. La La Land
la-la-land-audition-14I actually flip flopped between this and Zootopia for a while. If you’re a musical lover, this film is for you as it’s a love letter to musicals but more importantly, it’s a love letter to those people who are dreamers. Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling who have such great chemistry together, this film highlights those people who go out in search of their dreams but they also have to figure out their lives as well. Will they follow their dreams and rule out love or will they try to have both? Is it possible to have both without one being pushed back. The music here is so beautiful, all of the songs are original and I think they’re so dreamy. The cinematography is beautiful. I have never been to L.A but I think this film make it look so… lol grand. The characters are also very well written, it’s impossible to dislike either Mia or Sebastian, and I think it’s impossible to not understand them. You have to. If you’re not a fan of musicals, that’s alright because this film is not a song every second, nor is it just random singing, it has a purpose. It fits with the story, it propels it forward and honestly, it’s not like there’s a ton of singing in it. But the music, dancing, singing is a character in itself. La La Land is a feel good movie and as a dreamer, this is my favorite film of the year.

 

I hope you enjoyed this list. If you agree, let me know in the comments below, same if you don’t. What films of the year do you have on YOUR list? There is a lot I missed this year but I also think I did a great job in what I saw lol. If you haven’t seen any of these, please check them out! Also, check out my blog for other reviews!
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Happy New Year!

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Doctor Strange (2016)

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You guys, I already love Marvel Studios and I generally love all of their films. There may be a few that fall flat compared to others but I don’t necessarily think any of their films were missteps. I don’t know much about Doctor Strange from the comics, I know of his involvements in certain large arcs, and I know a little about his origins but again, I am not an expert on this character from the comics so this review is strictly about the film. I may mention some of the controversy the movie faced in the beginnings but who knows what might happen.
Summary: Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.
Pros: 
Cast and Characters: For the most part, I enjoyed all of the characters. Some obviously received more development than others but I think Scott Derrikson managed to make sure everyone received a nice amount of development.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange. To be honest, I remember thinking ‘wow, that’s some pretty good casting because he kind of looks like the comic book dude’, I think Cumberbatch is a great actor and I knew he would be fine in the role. In the beginning of the film, Strange is pretty much an arrogant douchebag who just happens to be brilliant at what he does. He’s such a snob that you can’t help but to laugh at the audacity at the things he says to people, but he’s so brilliant that you want to like him. Think Tony Stark just… maybe less likable. When he has his car accident, the nerves in his hands are ruined so he cannot perform surgeries anymore, he tries everything he logically can to fix them. So when he’s desperate Cumberbatch really knows how to push into those emotions, he manages to easily portray an arrogant jerk, with his delivery, putting on American accent helps with that too, but he seamlessly delivers humorous lines, and can really portray despair with just his face. Stephen’s growth as a man is handled well and coupled with the writing and the acting, it’s believable.
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo. I do believe in the comics he’s a villain but here, he is a student of the Ancient One, he is one of her firmest believers and he’s great at what he does. He also takes the position as Strange’s “trainer” at times. It’s easy to tell there is a great respect between Mordo and The Ancient One and a growing respect between Mordo and Strange but I think what the film does with this character is interesting. I think Ejiofor is an excellent actor and the way he portrays emotions with his eyes, just kills me. When his character is emotional, or feels pain, or is angry, you know that he really gets it. Mordo is an interesting and “ambiguous” character as Ejiofor himself cites and I think his return will be a very interesting one. I do wish he had more to do though.
  • Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer. I looooove Rachel McAdams, I think she is such a great actress. Her character here reminds me of Rosario Dawson’s character in the Netflix Marvel shows… just underused. She is a surgeon alongside Strange, but unlike him, she is kind and compassionate and while the two had a fling in the past, she seems to still care, and while it seems that he does, he’s a jerk about it. McAdams maintains a sweetness about her in this character, as well as someone who is just tired of Strange’s crap even if she wants to put up with it to be helpful. She’s by his side when he’s in his accident and it’s just so cute. She’s also very funny, without giving moments away, there are some great comedic moments with her in the beginning of the third act of the film. So, I think this is more praise for the actress than the actual character.
  • Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One. Now, there was a lot of controversy around this character, in this film, she is a Celtic woman whereas in the comics he’s a Tibetan monk and while I don’t mind the gender switch, I think it would have been nice to maintain a Tibetan origin considering where the character lives, the beliefs and practices of the character. I understand the reasons, they didn’t want to fall into the Asian stereotypes of “Dragon lady” with an older Asian woman, or “sexual” with a younger woman, but I still think that was a cop out.
    • With that said, I think Tilda Swinton is an excellent excellent actress and I really did like her in the role, she can easily be wise, enigmatic and funny as this character is. She is intimidating with the way she stares into the camera, she’s looking into your soul! But she can easily provoke a feeling of wanting to follow her, to understand her teachings and be her student. I think the fact that she can just disappear into her characters shows her strength as an actress. That’s all I can say about this character without spoiling her.
  • Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius. This actor freaks me out, he seems to always play these kind of “villainous” or “scary” types of characters. His character was a Master who learned from The Ancient One but he basically defected. The best way to describe his character is similar to Saruman’s character from Lord of the Rings, where he is a villain but he’s there to help move the story and characters to facing their Sauron (I saw that analogy in an article lol). His makeup was really cool and he was a cool dude in general. That’s all. Praise for the actor more so the character.
  • Benedict Wong as Wong. I like that dude but ya know underused.
The Cinematography. Oh boy this film looks amazing. I can’t even. I think this is a film that you should definitely see in IMAX 3D if you can because it would probably be so worth it. I saw it Standard which is fine too but if you can, pay extra. The way the camera films the locations, how it pans over Kathmandu, Nepal, so beautiful. There is a steady shot where the sun is setting or rising and it was so beautiful. It’s very crisp.
The CGI/Graphics. Oh man, due to the fact that this movie dabbles in sorcery and magic, in a way the other MCU films haven’t, it allows for a different approach to things. When Strange first goes to find out how to save his hands, there’s a whole scene where the Ancient One talks to him while he’s experiencing things and it’s… quite amazing. Plus, the design on the magic/sorcery itself is pretty cool.
Strange’s Cape. Without giving too much away, Doctor Strange is easily recognizable due to his clothing, especially his maroon… red? lol cape. It’s very similar to how Carpet from Aladdin was presented. It’s great, hilarious and I want one.
The Humor. I can’t say it’s one of the funniest, because I mean Tony is pretty hilarious but Strange is funny in his own way and the way the dialogue is delivered here helps. Scenes with the cape, with facial expressions from the characters, The Ancient One has some great humorous moments, even the villains. So, I think everyone will laugh, or at least get a nice chuckle out of this film. It’s pretty lighthearted honestly.
Cons:
The Ancient One. I still feel like she should have been Asian. It was jarring to see this pale Celtic woman in that world, in that position. Unlike other casting changes, I think this one actually does affect who the character is, what they represent and the location. I don’t think things would have fallen into stereotypical ideals with casting an Asian woman.
Christine Palmer. While I think Rachael McAdams is great, which she is, her character is in the same way as Jane Porter in the Thor films. Except Jane is considered a leading character, Christine has the potential to be an interesting character, the potential to be more like Claire Temple, who is written very well, but because of everything that’s happening, Christine shows up when she’s needed. So, I hope that if she’s future installments, they do better with her. I liked her enough to want her to be around more. I’m glad though, that while she’s the “love interest”, that’s not some of the reasons why Strange does things, it’s not superficial.
The Villains. Marvel Studios seem to have a hard time with their villains, Loki is still the best one, Alexander Pierce was intimidating and I think Zemo from Civil War will be great later on and no Winter Soldier is not a villain. But here we kind of have two. Just like I explained in the beginning with the LotR reference. Kaecilius is who we spend the most time with and while he’s interesting, I don’t think they really go there with him, I never found him intimidating as a character, the actor definitely is but I think the character could have been more intimidating if they fleshed him out more. We learned about him due to Mordo, Wong or The Ancient One talking about him but it wasn’t enough. Then the Sauron character… interesting but might become more important in later installments.
The Cape. This is really a nitpick but it was lopsided!! Oh my goodness, it bothered me the rest of the film. When it was on, it wasn’t balanced on both sides and I was thinking ‘am I the only one noticing this??’ not a hit against the film but O.O!!
The Storytelling. Kind of hard to label but by this mean, this story isn’t anything new. Ya know the one, arrogant dude is on top of the world, gets into an accident that ruins his life, he goes to seek out how to get his life back and ends up growing into a better man while probably now having to help save the world. So, at it’s core it’s a basic story and it’s really nothing necessarily NEW for Marvel but the package is fun which helps.
Magic Mastery. I wouldn’t necessarily use this against this film, but it’s an observation. The entire movie didn’t need to be Strange learning magic but I do think he mastered it quickly. He says he has a photographic memory (so jealous) which is fine but it just seems that he picked it up to fast. I understand that he’s smart, that he has a natural ability for magic, he’s “destined” and all that. Everything they explained in the film I understood but I wanted more of a struggle to get there, he does but I think it could have taken longer. I wonder if someone can be the hero with magic without having to actually be destined… ya know?
Overall, I think Doctor Strange is going to be a nice addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This was a good send off to the MCU’s involvement in 2016 and I can’t wait to see their next films. The characters are interesting and solid some more than others, it’s funny, it’s visually stunning, the mystical element (for an origin film) is handled well and Stephen Strange himself is an interesting and strong leading character. I think this is going into an interesting and new direction for Marvel Studios, previously the films shied away from magic, outside of Loki’s sorcery, using science and experiments as ways to propel characters and plot forward and including magic, will expand their growing universe into other dimensions. I’m excited to see what’s to come.
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars.
P.S. There are TWO credit scenes. One mid credit and one after the credits, you need to stay for both of them.

Ways Fantastic Four (2015) Could Have Been Better

Ways Fant4stic Could Have Been Better

If you read my movie review, it would be understandable why I felt the way I do. If you haven’t read it, then click here otherwise you’ll be spoiled. My plan for this piece is to offer alternatives, better ones, to what actually happened in the film. I think these alternatives would have made the movie better.
“It’s Clobberin’ Time”.
What they did: In the film, Ben’s older brother is a bully and uses this line before he starts to beat him up. Now, I understand what they were trying to do, they wanted Ben to take something with personal negative connotations and flip it around. To have Ben use it himself would show that he no longer is afraid to hear that phrase and that he wouldn’t be stopped anymore. I mean, I get it, but weird.
What they should have done: Instead of using his brother’s catchphrase, it would have held more weight if Ben was into old comic books, or old action shows where the hero would use the phrase before fighting but Ben would never say it because, he never felt he was strong enough to actually use it the way the heroes would. Who could he fight and win against? Maybe he even tried to use it against his brother, or some other bully, or maybe he tried to protect Reed from getting beat up and said it, and they both ended up getting beat up. It could have been all of these things that led him to joining the Air Force, or taking boxing lessons (or something) so he could feel worthy enough to use it and fight back. That way, when he finally says it to the villain of the film, it would be a triumph for Ben. 
Ben’s Inter-Dimensional Traveling Involvement.
 What they did: Ben Grimm is Reed’s best friend, but the audience doesn’t get to know him, or connect him with Pre-Thing. He’s helped Reed build his small version of the dimension machine but couldn’t go to the Baxter Institute because he’s not smart like Reed. However, when Victor, Reed and Johnny decide to go anyway, Ben is called because Reed doesn’t want to go without him. Victor and Johnny have no problem with this.
What they should have done: In the comics, Ben joined the Air Force and became a skilled fighter pilot, test pilot and astronaut. Since they were young in the film, he didn’t have to be “skilled” just yet unless he was a natural, but instead of staying home and doing whatever it was he was doing in the film, he could have done this. So all the while, Reed is updating him about his progress, Ben would be doing the same. Sending photos of his first test plane, sending pictures of his awards, it would have been nice. So instead of building the machine to look the way it did, maybe it could have been a ship that someone would need to actually drive since they don’t really know the foundation of the other dimension. It would be smarter to have a vehicle that wouldn’t touch the ground until they deemed it safe. This would have allowed Ben an actual reason to be there. Since they snuck and travelled, Reed could have called Ben because he’s an actual test pilot, this also would have allowed Sue to be present, instead of Ben just taking her place because Sue SHOULD have gone.
Victor Doom going to “Planet Zero”.
What they did: I was actually fine with his characterization in the movie with being a younger guy. The oldest out of the group but still young. He was cynical, had feelings for Sue and seemingly smarter than Reed but Reed’s intelligence also made him extremely jealous. He gets left behind on the planet, his “space suit” is fused to his body and he’s granted powers similar to the energy on the planet. He later tries to destroy earth with vague and stupid motivations.
What they should have done: Dr. Storm still could have gone to him to get him to help, Victor could still have feelings for Sue, but whatever he looks at Reed’s work, he still could have tried to correct him but Reed would humbly say “Oh no, see this is what I meant…” because no matter what Victor is NOT smarter than Reed Richards. He could also be jealous due to Reed’s intelligence as well as his ease with Sue and how she has warmed up to him. So, when they’re told they can’t go to Planet Zero, they still go and if Victor has to go, then it should still happen the way it did. He touches the green energy, is grossly burned and still left behind. However, instead of having powers from the energy, he manages to find a way to escape on his own. Perhaps the monks he learns his mystic powers from could have found a way to save him he doesn’t show up again until the second movie and even then he’s not the main villain.
 OR
Instead of him actually going, he could have done what Sue did, try to talk to Dr. Storm and the other people who wanted to keep them from going so he’s left out of the whole getting powers thing, which allows Sue to go instead. Now he’s really jealous because they all went, even Ben, an outsider, go to go and he didn’t and they all got powers even with them being locked in a military base. So he disappears to be with the monks or something.
The Storm Family/Adoption.
What they did: Nothing. They didn’t explore this dynamic at all outside of them seeming to not be on good terms all of the time. Johnny seemed angry at his father, he and Sue don’t seem to always talk to each other especially considering the lines when Sue goes to where Johnny is working on something (that’s not machinery) and she says “Hey!” “Hey…” “I got to say… it’s nice having you here.” “Yeah, well don’t get used to it, I’m only here to get my car back.” She nods slowly as he never turned to look at her, and she goes to leave and he says “It’s nice seeing you too”. It’s never talked about. We also don’t know who’s the oldest, Sue is more mature and it seems like she’s the oldest considering the way she and Johnny talked to each other at times but again… not explored.
What they should have done: Personally, I would have preferred a flashback instead of exposition because there’s a lot already but it should have been explored. After’s Johnny’s mother died in a car accident, his father throws himself into his work ignoring Johnny to a point where he took to being reckless, getting into trouble at school even though he is very smart. Dr. Storm had a best friend who had a daughter who was also smart. Susan. Her father/mother was also a single parent and something happened to them causing Dr. Storm to taking her in being that he was trusted by her parent. He brings her home and eventually officially adopts her and she and Johnny are opposites. He’s loud, she’s quiet, he likes being around lots of people and she is a loner, he likes cars and building things, she likes music and patterns. She connects with their father in a way that he couldn’t with Johnny which of course makes him jealous. So Johnny retreats into building whatever it is he likes to build. Susan watches him build something and she helps him perfect it using science creating a mutual respect between them. She tries to help him stay focused on school and everything but Dr. Storm still hasn’t connected with Johnny in the way he has with Sue which does not extinguish Johnny’s anger towards his father. This is not perfect, but it’s a way they could have let us know what the problem was in the Storm family.
Johnny’s Involvement/Introduction:
What they did: Just like Ben, you could almost remove Johnny because his reasons for joining the team was forced. We first see or hear about Johnny because he’s car racing, he gets into a car accident, breaking his arm (I guess, I mean it’s in a sling but they don’t really say what happened) and his dad has to come and get him. Due to his recklessness (lol) his dad tells him he can’t get his car back and he has to help them at the lab, Johnny says he built the car with his own hands and when Dr. Storm brings him to the lab, he says he can build anything. We haven’t really seen that though.
What they should have done: Johnny should have definitely been involved, but his introduction should have been better. If they wanted us to see him doing something “reckless” or do something with his hands to help solidify that part of him, then they should have shown him actually working on the car, like it was shown in the trailer, maybe he tried to add an adjustment to help him win, something he knew could be dangerous but he wanted to win to get the money, or something, so we’re all like “ooo, this should be good”, he still spins out and crashes. Instead of suddenly cutting away to the hospital, we should have seen him go “whoo hooo!” and then pan away from the car and hear him mumble “ow” and then cut to the hospital. I mean, something more than what we got. Since he’s a hothead, we should have seen him get into an argument with another driver before the race, something more than him just being angry with his family showing us his temper. It also didn’t seem like he and Victor had a great previous relationship, Johnny joked about it but I wish we could have seen something that showed they didn’t care for each other. Victor sees him too immature and Johnny thinks he’s too high and mighty. Definitely seems like a dynamic that should have been explored.
The Plot/Storyline.
What they did: Basically they did a time jump and that ruined everything. Once that happened, I knew the movie was about to go downhill. After they return with their powers, Reed wakes up with his limbs stretched out and he’s asking about the others, eventually he freaks out and they sedate him. Switch to Sue and she’s shifting in and out of invisibility still unconscious. Johnny wakes up next and not only does he seem freaked out seeing these flames around him, it seems like it kind of hurts… and without trying he releases a fire blast and his father seems extremely distraught to see his entire body enflamed. When we see Ben, he’s stuck in a large rock mass and has to break out of it and all rock body (kind of cool), Reed sees this as he escapes through the air vents and he promises Ben he would help but he runs away and BAM 1 Year Later.
What they should have done: Instead of the year jump, they should have allowed us to see them in that year time frame. In fact, the last two acts of the movie should have been in that year time frame. So, instead of moving to when we see Reed wake up, we should have seen them and their blown up lab discovered. Dr. Storm finds Sue and he can feel her but he can’t see her as she is shifting in and out of her space suit (as she would have gone with them). They would hear Ben screaming for Reed, after he’s passed out from seeing his legs trapped under rock and that he was stretching and find that Ben is trapped inside rock. Dr. Storm would become aware that the table on fire is in fact his son and that his clothes are burning. That would allow us to see how other people reacted to finding them like that, I’m sure their first thoughts were not to take them away to a military base and study them. Maybe their second thought. Once they’re at the base, we should see tests being run, how they try to dig Ben out of the rock, slowly chipping away at it, how they can’t even get close to Johnny without him blasting unconsciously at them, or that they can’t even see Sue because she’s shifting in and out of visibility. Maybe Dr. Storm could have been trying to see them as they’ve been in the base but they wouldn’t let him due to it no longer being his problem so he spends his time trying to get inside to see them.
When Reed finally wakes up, maybe a few weeks later, that’s when things start getting interesting.
The Villain:
What they did: They made Victor Doom a villain for no reason at all. When they get back to Planet Zero, they find him and he’s all weird and stuff, and then he just starts killing people and trying to destroy the world because Planet Zero is now his home and then he’s defeated in a very lame and stupid way.
What they should have done: Honestly, they could have done so much more building him up to be a villain, a villain for another movie. We already see him as being cynical and not liking being told what to do when it comes to his opinions and science. We see him being jealous towards Reed, pining after Susan AND they could have had him and Johnny bump heads, as I said before, and Ben would just straight up not trust him as Ben wouldn’t. Reed wouldn’t say anything because Victor is older and smart but Ben would really dislike him. All of that would help make Victor more of a villain, and when he comes back in one of the sequels, he would be vengeful due to being left behind and that no one came looking for him (at least in the first movie).
The villain in this movie should have been the military, or the government or someone who would want to exploit them for their powers. To manipulate them into thinking they’re helping when they’re being used. Of course, as to not offend, it didn’t need to be a straight up villain but people who thought they were doing the right thing because they do not understand what they are now.
Sue’s Involvement/Introduction/Powers.
What they did: Crapped all over her. She’s not that interesting to begin with, she has a thing for patterns and music and apparently is very smart. She seems independent with a good relationship with her dad and a rocky one with her brother. She never even interacted with her Ben. She stays behind to chase after her dad about not letting them go, tries to help them by manually overriding the reentry and is blasted by the field that brings that back. I mean I get how she got her powers but such a cop out. Then she basically is a quiet voice, she seems to be less learned with her powers compared to Johnny and Ben and she dislikes seeing Johnny being so willing to work with the government. She believes they’re using him (which I was glad for her being the smart one lol) and then that’s about it. In the fight, she’s kind of useless, like they all were so meh.
 What they should have done: She should have been feisty first of all, give her a personality and allow the audience to actually connect with her. Have her always listening to music or something, have her have a rapport with everyone, witty conversations. Show a relationship with her and her father and her brother. He may feel some way about her but how she does feel about him at this moment? We see a little bit of conversations between them “What happened to your arm?” “What?” “Were you racing again?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about” stuff like that was good, there should have been more. She can still make the suits but she should have gone with them, she would be the one who could read the signs, tell them when things are unstable as that was her job. Like how Ben was pelted with rocks and Johnny was caught on fire, there could have been a strange cloud that shot lightening through her glass window (if we stick with the pod idea) or something to indicate she was affected. When she’s actually learning to use her power, show that it’s hard to control but that it’s strong and when she’s fighting, she should surprise everyone by kicking ass because even though she doesn’t like being locked up and tested, she’s learning on her own.
So these are just a few things they should have done instead, it would have made the movie stronger, more interesting and cohesive. I still don’t think the movie was bad, it had loads of potential but it was wasted on trying to make it “dark” but it got lost in everything. They could have still made it darker and grittier, but they didn’t handle that well. These characters are interesting, seeing younger versions of them would have been even more interesting as they don’t all have it figured out yet but we can see the potential in them of what they would become later. Characters should have been developed, story should have been thought out more… honestly, I should have been involved lol.
I hope you enjoyed this piece. Please, I would love to read comments, agreements, disagreements, your thoughts on what should have happened. Lastly, I’m writing a “fanfiction” type piece for this as well, just you can see in more detail, how I was rewriting this movie in my head.
Keep an eye out for more!