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Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
Four Hours of Agony
I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of Zack Snyder's work in the DCEU. Both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman are horribly written, and I look forward to ripping apart those movies in the future. I have to say though, the hype surrounding this film piqued my interest. The highly positive reviews from fans and critics alike claimed that this film was not only an improvement over Josstice League (which, let's be real, isn't much to brag about), but also a masterpiece in its own right.
So, the other day I gathered a large tub full of popcorn, and with four hours to spare I sat through all of Zack Snyder's Justice League. Even people who hate the DCEU have been singing its praises, so I was fairly optimistic. I was also curious about seeing what had been left out of the 2017 cut, and how much the two films would differ.
Unfortunately, I found it to be a miserable experience. I walked away wondering why anyone enjoyed this film in the slightest. I also found it to be even worse than Josstice League. However, I want to make clear that I find this film worse because of the writing. After all, a story is the foundation that holds a film together, and the foundation for this film is completely broken.
Before I watched this movie, I heard many people claim it was a completely different experience, and that they were shocked at how much had been removed from the theatrical version. This is an exaggeration. Yes, there are some characters that are different, and the ending has been changed, but for the most part this film has the same plot beats and characters as the first. To say it is an entirely different film is misleading.
This movie is four hours long, but doesn't justify its runtime whatsoever. Aquaman, Superman and Wonder Woman are all essentially the same characters they were in Josstice. As for Batman, he learns to be more hopeful and faithful, which is something he already learnt by the end of BvS. Lois Lane is moping around for most of her screen time and is happy when Superman comes back, which is pretty much all we get from her. Steppenwolf has about 10% more development, but is still a far cry from what I would call a good character. Despite being twice as long, this film barely develops most of its cast.
The whole experience feels like too little butter scraped over too much bread. There were so many scenes that kept dragging on for no reason and convey information in extremely inefficient ways. The scene where the Amazons shoot the arrow to warn Diana of the upcoming threat is a few seconds long in the Whedon Cut, and about five minutes in the Snyder Cut. Establishing shots go on for thirty seconds or more, and action scenes are extended by several minutes, even though they serve the same purpose to the plot.
And the elements that are changed only worsen the film. There are a lot of characters that simply exist for fanservice and add nothing worthwhile to the overall experience. (Joker, Deathstroke, and Martian Manhunter). The film could've easily been cut down to two and a half hours, and the main story would be much the same. Apparently, Zack Snyder's never heard of "less is more". There's a reason why many scenes end up on the cutting room floor when editing movies.
Cyborg is so powerful that he raises a million questions by simply existing. Why doesn't he just launch missiles on Steppenwolf's army? We've seen that conventional weapons can harm the para-demons. He also has full power over anything electronic, which makes you wonder why he can't even control his own arm when it goes into self-defense mode. The 2017 cut tried to rectify this by establishing that Cyborg has no control over his body, which explains at least some of these issues.
Silas Stones marks the Mother-box with heat signatures, causing his own death. But why didn't he just provide the Justice League with the Mother-box? His sacrifice ensures that the League find the Mother-box, when instead he should have just given it to them when he had it. How does he even know Steppenwolf was coming for the box? Cyborg and his father get more characterization, but ultimately this harms the story more than it helps.
Everyone also mentioned how fantastic Flash's character arc was is in this film and how much 'development' he gets compared to the Whedon Cut. In reality, his big pay-off moment consists of merely repeating a line from earlier on and doing something he can and would already have done at the beginning. Not exactly what I would call development. Yes, the scene looks gorgeous visually, and the soundtrack is excellent. But these are superficial elements. In reality, Flash's character doesn't grow any more than the one in Josstice
Concerning his powers, Flash has the ability to reverse time, with no consequences nor limitations. This creates a huge issue that the film never addresses. Flash's powers make it so that stakes cannot exist in this universe ever again. He can basically prevent anything unfavorable from happening. Be glad that the Whedon cut removed the time travel scene, otherwise the DCEU would have trouble staying consistent moving forward.
And if that wasn't too much already, Barry can also travel at the speed of light. This should allow him to defeat every villain he faces, as he could just slow down time and instantly defeat them. In the Whedon cut, it's quickly established that Flash is inexperienced, which somewhat explains why he doesn't use his powers as effectively as he could. In this cut, Flash is shown to be saving people from the start, so him not using his powers fully is more egregious here.
The script is aware of this, which is why Flash is seen helping people walk stairs instead of stopping Steppenwolf during the tunnel fight, even though stopping him should be Barry's main priority. He can just freeze time as he wishes, so why doesn't he always do it when facing enemies? Either way, Flash's inclusion in this universe means there is no hope for logical consistency.
Darkseid (like many things in this film) only exists for cheap fan-service. It baffles me that people think he is better than the villain in Josstice, when in reality they're both equally generic. He's just yet evil alien who wants to enslave worlds and terraform planets. In fact, in his first appearance (the flashback sequence) he gets mortally injured and barely escapes with the help of his followers. How intimidating. Remember Thanos' introduction, and how foreboding he was on screen? Even the Steppenwolf of the Whedon Cut was more impressive in his first appearance.
To make matters worse, Darkseid forgets about Earth after leaving it. The one planet where he got defeated, left the mother-boxes, and found the Anti-Life equation; that's the planet whose name and location he forgot about. Zack Snyder himself confirmed this in a tweet, basically saying: "Darkseid kind of forgot". And it's not like we needed Darkseid in this movie at all. The story would've had one less plot hole and at least be shorter.
The aspect ratio is unnecessary and takes away from the experience. The music is all over the place, ranging from terrible to decent. During the more dramatic moments, its solid, but Wonder Woman's score is appalling, and gave me an aneurysm every time it played. The color grading is at the lowest saturation imaginable. Oh, and that's not referring to the 'Justice is Grey' edition. And about twenty minutes of this movie is slow-motion. All in all, pretty standard Zack Snyder film-making.
The epilogue sums up the entirety of the movie. More pointless fan service, extremely unsubtle dialogue, bad acting (Jared Leto's Joker still sucks) and more bait for future films. Once again, I am disappointed in a Zack Snyder film, and once again I remain baffled on why so many love his work. Please, if you don't want to waste four hours of your life, stay away from this film. The Whedon Cut was also terrible, but at least it wasn't four hours long. #DumpTheSnyderVerse.
Unimpressive and Cliché-filled
Scoob! Is one of the few films that was released during the pandemic, back in May when the coronavirus was at full swing and all theaters were closed. Like many films released during this period, Scoob was dumped on some streaming service. It was a movie that few watched and fewer still talked about. However, I am one of those people, and I can safely say that Scoob! Was lackluster at best.
The first fifteen minutes of Scoob! Is dedicated to a sequence that took place when the Scooby-Do gang were just a bunch of kids and how they solved their first mystery together. This is an example of the first opening minutes of the movie providing a far more interesting plot than what we ended up with. I would have much preferred a Scooby-Do origin story with them as kids. It could have been about their first adventures, the evolution of their friendships, and how they got their Mystery Machine.
I've always felt that the characters of the Mystery Inc. Gang are usually underdeveloped, both in the films and the shows. Having a story with them as kids would have been a unique concept that could have added more depth to their characters. Sadly, this opening sequence is mostly there to set up Scooby and Shaggy's friendship, and once that's done, we get to the main story.
The plot then kicks in. Shaggy and Scooby are rescued by a team of superheroes who want to stop Dick Dastardly from collecting skulls. These heroes include a robotic dog, a woman, and the cowardly son of a hero. I won't go into much detail about them, because there aren't any details to get into. What I just stated is essentially what we get from these characters. I honestly think that they were just there to provide some exposition about the villain and so the company could sell superhero toys as merchandise.
Velma, Daphne and Fred get shafted in favor of these new characters. They get a disappointing amount of screen time in a subplot that barely matters in the overall story. What's worse is, you could have removed the superhero characters and just focused on the main cast and the plot would be a lot better for it. The Mystery Inc. Could have hunted down Dick Dastardly themselves, but instead the film needlessly overcomplicates its story.
Scooby-Do and Shaggy's friendship is the emotional crux of the story. Initially Scooby and Shaggy are best friends, but then Scooby decides to leave behind his old life. But Shaggy doesn't want him to leave, leading to a big fight between the two. Then Shaggy realizes that he was acting selfishly, leading to a heroic sacrifice when they split up forever.
If that sounds familiar, that's because it's been done by many animated movies in the past. A few examples immediately come to mind, such as Wreck-it-Ralph 2, Frozen 2, and Toy story 4. In all those films the protagonist and his or her best friend split up by the end of the movie.
The main difference is that Scoob! Doesn't commit to its emotional climax, and instead Shaggy's 'sacrifice' is just bait-and-switch, and he and Scooby are reunited thirty seconds later. Its always pretty lame when a movie is built towards an emotional moment the whole time, only for that moment to get undone for the sake of an all-out happy ending.
The animation is actually impressive, and the colorful style suits the light-hearted tone of the film. Despite this, there were several inconsistencies with the human designs. Some characters look overly cartoonish, while others look uncannily real.
The soundtrack had several pop songs, the kind of songs that are really oversaturated on the internet, and were pretty jarring to hear in the film. There are also a lot of pop culture references that felt tiring and pandering. The jokes range from bad to awful. It reminds me of bad high school films that feel the need to be 'hip' and 'cool', but just come across as cringeworthy.
Ultimately, Scoob! Is just another reboot to a franchise that doesn't need one. It seems almost ashamed of its source material, there is no mystery element to the story (even though that's what the gang are known for), and it's one of those films that completely relies on nostalgia to keep your attention. Do not recommend.
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Riddled With Plot Holes and Conveniences
Wonder Woman 1984 was a very surprising film, in the same way its predecessor was. Wonder Woman (2017) came out in a time when the DCEU was at its lowest point, right on the heels of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. Unlike those two films though, it was pretty solid. The film reaffirmed people's faith in the DCEU, myself included.
In recent years it seemed like DC was finally starting to improve the quality of their films, with the fun Aquaman film, the lighthearted Shazam and the amazing Joker movie, that raised the bar for what a 'comic book' film could accomplish. Still, it seems like DC is slipping back into their old ways once again, with Birds of Prey, and now this. Just when you thought 2020 couldn't get any worse, DC dumps out WW84, a final reminder that this truly is the worst year in a long, long time.
The plot hinges on this 'wish stone' that can grant one wish, but it also comes at a cost. This wish stone is what sets the plot of the film in motion, and how the villain gets as much power as he does. The issue I have with this is that the rules of the wish stone are not very consistent. The first rule is that every person can only have one wish. However, Max Lord wishes to be the wish stone, which gives him unlimited wishes. You'd think there would be some kind of rule against that, since its basically like wishing for more wishes.
Steve Trevor returns in this film, in an extremely bizarre and unsettling way. Diana wishes for him to come back, and his mind comes back from the dead, but in the body of some random person. Steve now has complete control over this guy and his entire life, without even his permission. What if he had a family and friends? What about his personal life? They also go into his house without his permission. It's very creepy if you think about it, especially if you put yourself in that position. The worst part is that the film does not address this in any way. Also, this issue could have been easily remedied. You could have just had Steve come back in his old body and avoid the whole problem.
Steve himself does not contribute to the story. He acts as a fish out of water character, except this time it serves no purpose other than for comic relief. In the first movie, Diana not understanding the world was very important to the story. And to be honest, I don't even think the first Wonder Woman movie is that good. But at least it was written competently enough, and everything served a purpose of some kind. Here, Steve does the same thing he did in the last movie. He serves as a love interest and dies at the end of the film. His death is not impactful because he already sacrificed himself in the last movie, and so he just came back to die again.
Diana Prince doesn't have much of a character arc in this. At least in the first movie she learnt a lesson. Here, the big decision she makes at the midpoint of the film is to not be selfish and let go of someone she loves, but its not through character development, it's a choice she would have made even in the last film.
She also loses her powers, but it's quite unclear on how much she lost. She's still really fast and can dodge bullets, and she still has super strength of some sort. It would have been much better if she lost all her powers, because then she would have to choose between being a hero or spending time with the man she loves. It would also add more emotional weight to the choice she made at the end of the film. But I suppose that would mean we would not have any action scenes in a film already lacking in action.
This film is two and a half hours long, and you feel every second. There's the opening mall scene, the fight in Egypt, the battle at the white house and then the final battle between Diana and Cheetah. Four fight scenes in this entire film, and they are quite short. Now there's nothing wrong with a film being less action-packed, but here I feel the runtime was unjustified. The first half of the movie feels like a romantic drama, and then the plot spirals out of control in the second act and becomes about Max Lord wanting to grant wishes.
Barbara's character feels very reminiscent of side villains in films like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with the character of Electro. A young, keen, intelligent but socially awkward person fantasizes to be like our main hero. Then, over the course of the film they become more and more evil, and become the secondary villain. Barbara's character arc is very unoriginal (the entire batman quadrilogy of the eighties did this too) and predictable. Not to mention, she takes up way too much screen time. If you cut her out of the film, it doesn't really affect the story in any way, and you have a more concise film that has a shorter runtime. Also, the way she turns into Cheetah is really ridiculous and the CGI reminds me of Cats (2019).
Max Lord is the only character that I really like in this film. His motivations are sympathetic and understandable, his relationship with is son is really moving, and he feels like a three-dimensional character, with subtlety. The only problem that I have with him is his fall into villainy. After a while, I wonder why he is so obsessed with granting wishes to the entire world. Is it to get fame and power? He already has that by the third act. Is it because he thinks the world deserves to get what they want? Is it the wish stone driving him insane? The movie never specifies what exactly is happening to him, and you lose the emotional investment to his character by the third act.
The special effects are of course, pretty good (except for the Cheetah). The action ranges from fun to dull to bad. Wonder Woman's fight with Cheetah is downright awful. The scene when Diana and Steve steal a plane makes no logical sense. The opening fifteen minutes or so are completely unnecessary. If they had rewritten the script, cut out a lot of the fat, and developed their ideas a little more, this film could have been significantly better. Here's hoping the next year of DC movies is better than this one.
Bad But Not Terrible
So, I just sat down and watched the entire Twilight franchise. It was a pretty dull but still interesting experience. The franchise as a whole is pretty awful, but this film in particular is not that bad. It's the least worst in the pentalogy, that's for sure. That's not to say this it doesn't have its problems though.
Most of the story is spent on our two central characters, Bella and Edward. Obviously, this is a romance story, so it's supposed to do that. However, our central characters are so unlikeable that it is hard to get invested. Bella is obsessed over Edward to an unhealthy degree (this is further emphasized in the later films). Edward is just a really creepy guy. He sneaks into Bella's bedroom while she's sleeping and watches her. The scenes of them flirting or whatever are extremely awkward. This is partly due to the ham-fisted dialogue and the poor acting. I get that high school romances as a rule are pretty awkward, but this was just cringe inducing.
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have less than zero chemistry. Kristen Stewart is one of those actresses that relies more on her looks to get by than her actual acting talent. She always has the same expression on her face, whether she's talking normally or is in mortal danger. As a result, it's hard to get a read on her character. As for Robert Pattinson, I greatly respect him as an actor, but this is by far his worst performance. He gets a little better in the later films, but here he's just as bad as Kristen Stewart. I n terms of art style, this film has a very dull, gray color palette. In some ways it reminds me of the color palette of Joker, a very moody and grim sort of style. But in Joker, the style complemented the tone of that film. Twilight is supposed to be a light hearted teenage romance story, and yet it's pretty depressing to look at. There is an in-universe reason for why it is always so cloudy and dull, but the film as a whole suffers from it. The sequels don't have this problem, and those films are much more pleasing to the eye.
The movie looks very washed out too, all the makeup looks really silly and the sets are uninspired. Either the characters spend time in a forest or in homes that look like showrooms, super clean and empty, with no personality in any of them.
In terms of CGI, I'm glad this movie did not have a lot of it. Seeing characters run in fake super speed looks really cheesy. The final battle is pretty simple, but I don't like the villain, who comes out of nowhere in the third act, with barely any development at all and even less characterization.
Before his introduction though, there really wasn't much of a plot at all, it was just Bella and Edward spending time with each other. I get that this is a love story, but it would be nice to have something else to break away from the monotony of Bella and Edward's relationship and spend more time individually developing them. We barely have an idea about who these characters are, what they want, and their relationships with people besides each other are.
There's really not much to say about this film really. It's the kind of movie that you would enjoy laughing at with your friends, but I would argue it does not quite reach the realm of awfulness that other movies have and rather skirts over into more of a boring film territory. I've heard a lot of hate for this film, but I personally find it to be pretty dull and just flavorless. In some ways it reminds me of Thor: The Dark World in terms of my experience with the film. I guess if you want to waste two hours, then you can watch this film, its not insultingly bad or anything like that. But that also means its not so bad that its actually fun to watch, which is a shame.
Death Note: Desu nôto (2006)
Slick, Clever and Always One Step Ahead of It's Audience
Death Note is the first anime I have ever watched. And while it may not be the best representation of what most anime really are like, it is an excellent show to start with. I have also read the manga, which I will compare with the show.
As you might have guessed from the title, Death Note is one of the most gripping shows I have ever seen. I am a huge fan detective type storytelling, usually because of how clever the best of them tend to be. And while Death Note is not your typical detective show, it contains many elements that make a lot of them good, with a little mythical fantasy thrown in as well.
The story centers around Yagami Light, a teenage genius who comes across a notebook that can kill people if you write their names in it. When watching for the first time I had a lot of questions. Thankfully, all the rules and limitations of the notebook are clearly explained. This is one of those shows that sounds complicated on paper, but the way it is explained makes it simple. There is a lot of exposition in this show, but again, because it is a show, they can space it out enough so that it does not get boring.
For a story that has a fantastical premise, it is surprisingly realistic and well thought out. In many ways it reminded me of Sherlock Holmes, with insanely intelligent characters who use their wit in a believable way. The mythical fantasy stuff is important, but never the focal point of the story.
Anyways, Light uses the notebook to kill criminals, hoping to purge the world of evil and create a better one. There are some who believe in his cause and call him 'Kira'. Obviously, there are opposing sides who want to catch this killer, the leader of which is L. I wish I could explain some more, but it would get way to complex. The premise is simple enough: A cat and mouse chase between two extremely intelligent people, Light wants to kill L, L wants to find the identity of Kira. This back and forth between them, not knowing who is going to come out on top or who is going to lose is the prime reason why this show is so popular.
Do not worry though, that is not all that happens. The story moves at such a breakneck pace that it is almost hard to keep up. The manga, which is one hundred and eight chapters long is condensed into thirty-seven episodes. There is absolutely no filler whatsoever, and each episode is integral.
Light is automatically portrayed as very smart, constantly finding a way to stay one step ahead of the police. L's introduction might be the best character defining moment I have seen in any media. From the first episode he appears in, you know he is going to be a very good contender for Light. The first eighteen episodes consists of Light and L's rivalry and it is the best part of the entire show.
Episodes nineteen to twenty-three are what I like to call the Third Kira storyline. Light does a memory gambit and takes lengthy steps to clear his name. L starts to lose confidence in Light's guilt. This section of the story focuses more on the secondary characters, which I thought was a good idea, but it also made things less interesting, as the main appeal of the show was temporarily lost, with L and an amnesiac Light teaming up together to stop the latest Kira.
Thankfully, the show comes back with full force in episodes twenty-four and twenty-five. Light, with his memories returned, finally triumphs over L. At first, I was annoyed that Light won, since I was hoping for L to win. But the more I thought about it, I realized it was the only feasible outcome. Light has always been a groomed genius, raised with a perfect family and had an ego that was admittedly bloated but also justified. L, despite his brilliance, was never able to be ahead of Light simply because he just did not have the info about the notebook that Light had. Light won because of his intelligence, but there was also a lot of luck in play which gave him the step ahead he needed to kill L.
After that, the manga and the anime have one crucial difference. In the manga, the Post-L saga was the same length as the L saga. In the anime, it was only half as lengthy as the first arc. This means that several characters that were introduced were not as developed, and entire storylines were dropped. The manga also developed Mello and Near more.
Both stories end with Light's defeat and death, but in the manga, Light's death is far more humiliating and pathetic, with him begging Ryuk not to kill him and crying. I personally prefer the ending of the manga, as it really drives home the message being told. Despite Light's delusions of grandeur, at the end of the day he is nothing more than a serial killer, and the notebook was just a more effective way of killing people.
Which begs the question that I always come back to, which is better, the manga or the anime? It is true that the manga had a lot more chapters and arcs, but were they necessary character and story development, or just a bunch of pointless fluff? Was the anime's style of being more concise and fast paced really an improvement, or did it hamper the story? And then there is the terrific soundtrack and voice acting, which make the anime a much more rewatchable experience. It is hard for me to decide which one is truly superior, like which of the two is smarter: L or Light? Light killed L, but it was ultimately L's actions which brought on the defeat of Light.
Even though many people think that the second storyline of Death Note is terrible, I disagree. I think it is an important part of the storyline, even though it might not be as good as the L saga. The truth is, in just two episodes I was completely invested in the saga, and I had to see it through the end. That is the best part of Death Note, you never know what is going to happen, and in just a few episodes you are completely absorbed and impressed with the story. It is an excellent watch, and even at it's worst it is still great show.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
Star Wars At It's Finest
Star Wars the Clone Wars is set in the three years between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The story is about the intergalactic war between the Republic and the Separatists, also known as the Clone Wars. Oddly enough it is quite important in the Prequel trilogy and and was even mentioned in A New Hope, but never fully explored. I'm glad it wasn't though, because otherwise we would never get this fantastic show.
Allow me to explain. It is generally agreed that although the prequels have interesting ideas and unique concepts, the execution is never fully delivers. Order 66, Palpatine as a traitor, Darth Maul, Anakin's fall to the dark side, all these ideas sound good on paper, but with the poor acting, bland CGI, awful dialogue and characters, the movies become really mediocre. However, with the Clone Wars show you understand what George Lucas was trying to go for.
For example, Anakin is really likable here. He takes risks and is rebellious, but this usually pays of in the end. His main goal is to save and help as many people as possible, and put an end to the Clone Wars. He's usually quite laid back and overconfident, but not in a bad way. In the movies he's an annoying brat, but here you actually grow to care for him. After a while you remember this is the man who will become Darth Vader, and the Clone Wars makes his eventual fall all the more tragic. There are small hints and moments which foreshadow this, especially when Anakin loses his temper.
Obi Wan Kenobi also gets a better treatment. Obi wan and Anakin have a best buddy/brother relationship over the course of the series. Which again, makes their eventual battle in Revenge of the Sith more heartbreaking. (This show is canon, in case you were wondering). Also, Obi wan is usually in the best story arcs. He's the only character who's every appearance is accompanied by an excellent show.
There are plenty of other characters that are further developed. Padme has a fully fleshed out personality, and her views and ideals are are clear. Many of the Jedi Council members such as Yoda, Plo Koon, and Mace Windu are all give at least one arc which develops them more. Once again, it makes their deaths in Revenge of the Sith heartbreaking. Honestly, it should be legal requirement for every Star Wars fan to watch this show before Revenge of the Sith, because it improves that movie by 100%.
The story line is not linear, which means most of the seasons have four or five self contained arcs with their own beginning , middle and end. This makes it extremely easy to start wherever you want, watch in any order, and skip episodes you don't like. Not all the stories feature Anakin and Obi Wan either. Some have Ahsoka Tano as the main character, who goes from being an annoying padawan to one of the the most iconic Star Wars characters of all time.
Darth Maul returns from the dead in the Season 4 finale. I must say, he is the best thing to happen to this show. His burning hatred for Obi Wan Kenobi and desire for revenge are portrayed by the excellent voice acting and superb dialogue. The arcs he appears in are the highlights of the Clone Wars. I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but the Clone Wars once again improves upon the prequels by taking a generic and one note villain and turning him iconic.
Some episodes feature just clones, which are some of my favorite. Over the course of the show the clones try to deal with their origins and become more independent. Captain Rex and Commander Cody are two of the most developed clones of all. Their is usually a really nice vibe in the clones only episodes. They are all voiced by the same actor and all look identical, and yet they always feel distinct and human. They encapsulate a lot of the recurring themes and and are the heart of the show.
Speaking of themes, the Clone Wars has a lot to say on that front. Politics, Economics, the consequences and benefits of war are all here. If you ask me, the best kids shows are the ones that incorporate mature themes and explain them for kids to understand. They have something to say. If I ever have kids, I'd want them to watch this show, because it presents many different lessons that are not usually found in any media.
The animation may be a bit jarring in the beginning, but it heavily improves every season. By the time we reach Season 7, the CGI is on the level of a movie. Because it is animated, the episodes can feature a wide variety of locations, species and battles. The world building is insane. The Star Wars galaxy has never felt bigger. Every planet has something unique and memorable about it, with it's own set of beliefs and ideals
Because of the episodic nature of the show, a wide variety of stories are told. Star Wars has so much more potential than the usual Empire vs Rebellion conflict, but this is the only form of Star Wars media that fully captures this potential. It explores the possibility of a galaxy in war, and the consequences of it as well.
One thing that stopped me from watching this show until now is that it got cancelled In 2014, Star Wars The Clone Wars ended abruptly with Season 6, with many arcs left unfinished. But that is no longer a problem. The Clone Wars was brought back for it's final season just a couple of months ago. Now, no Star Wars fan has an excuse not to watch it. You can go through it whenever and however you want. It is a must watch for anyone who is remotely interested in the saga, for it is Star Wars at it's finest.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Convoluted and Messy
Spider-Man 3 is the conclusion to the beloved Sam Raimi trilogy. However, when most people talk about this franchise, they're usually referring to the first two films. Spider-Man 3 has lately been enjoying a bit of a renaissance, as more and more people are starting to like the film. Still, many agree that it is the weakest of the trilogy. Personally, I don't hate this film. Despite that, I will admit that it has a lot of problems.
Spider-Man 3 has a very messy story. It starts of interesting enough, but as more and more plot threads are added, it becomes unfocused. The movie has three villains. While this does mean higher stakes for the story, it also means that they don't get enough development. One of the more entertaining aspects of the first two movies were Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. Both of these two are considered to be Spider-man's arch-nemesis, and both villains grow and evolve over the course of the story. It also helps that both actors for those two villains really add to their performances.
Sandman has a sympathetic backstory, but it comes of as rushed and forced. We aren't given enough time to focus on his relationship with his daughter before he becomes evil. Also, the way he gets his powers is just stupid. Doc Ock and Green Goblin both got their powers as a direct consequence of their actions. Sandman just randomly stumbles across a pit of sand, and then a molecule of sand goes in his DNA and turns his body into sand. What?
Venom just randomly falls on Earth in a meteorite, and he just so happens to land right next to Peter Parker. I know the Sam Raimi movies are always a bit silly and aren't meant to be taken seriously, but you can't ignore the fact that the two main villains of this movie get their powers through contrived coincidences. Topher Grace as Venom is laughably bad. He just doesn't have the intimidation and presence that a good villain needs. He's just lame.
And as for Harry Osborn, well quite frankly he was a disappointment. After the superb build-up that he had in the second movie, I had hoped for a better conclusion to his character than what we got. He starts of as a villain, then has a cliche amnesia subplot so he becomes good again, and then he becomes evil once he regains his memories, so he decides to force MJ to break up with Peter, then Peter fights him, then he becomes good after finding out the truth about his father's death, and then he just dies. The chracter goes through such extremes, and he changes his motivation just to fit the story.
The acting is alright. Toby Maguire can do a good Spider-Man, but when it comes to being evil, he's just to over the top. Over the top can be fun and good, but here's it's just cringe. Peter's subplot with MJ is the same as the previous movie, it's a constant will they won't the, and it has no resolution. Gwen is this film, but she serves no purpose. Aunt May has one or two lines, but nothing as memorable as her scenes in the first two movies.
In the end, Spider-Man 3 is not a terrible movie, just a unsatisfying and disappointing one. Personally, I think the Sam Raimi franchise deserved a better ending, but oh well. It could have been a lot worse.
Female Deadpool with Worse Story, Poor Acting, and Unlikable Protagonist.
Due to COVID-19, most of the movies that were scheduled to come out this year were pushed to 2021. Birds of Prey was one of the few movies that managed to come out before lock down. However, it was still a massive flop, and I can't say I'm mad. It's a shame that out of all the superhero movies that were to come out this year, Birds of Prey was the only one that got released. From the trailer itself it looked pretty bad, but I decided to give it a chance anyway. While I don't think it's terrible or worthy of a one star, it was still an absolute waste of time.
One think I noticed about the story is that it has striking similarities to both Deadpool movies. The protagonist is crazy, she breaks the fourth wall, and over the course of the movie becomes (kind of) a hero. There's a kid character who is integral to the plot, there's a generic villain who's evil for no reason. Both movies are also R-rated. Whereas in Deadpool all these things are important to his character, in this movie it feels very out of place.
Harley was never a fourth wall breaking character at all. Granted, she doesn't have much personality in the comics so maybe they wanted to add some more characteristics, but they did it in the laziest way possible, by just making her female Deadpool. I always saw Harley as the annoying sister I never had, or a comedic sidekick. Which is why it doesn't really work when you try to make her the main character of a movie. Maybe a cartoon, or a comic, but definitely not a feature length film. You could argue that this is a team movie, but I disagree.
All the other members of the team are so forgettable and are given such minimal screen time that I struggle to remember their names. They all have a five minute flashback backstory, then they operate on some subplot that is vaguely connected to the main story, and then they all end up in one room by the third act through sheer coincidence. And then they say: 'Well I guess we should work together as a team now.' It feels so contrived and forced.
The villain is no better. Ewan McGregor brings in a decent performance, but his character is lacking. He's just a mustache-twirling villain who gets mad a lot and kills people. Still, I liked him way more than Harley Quinn, so much so that I was actually rooting for him to win. You can tell a main chracter is poorly written if you felt like choking her the entire movie.
The editing gives me a headache. There's one scene in the film when Harley is captured, and the editing is on the level of Suicide Squad (definitely not a compliment). About one third of the film is a flashback sequence, so it's really hard to keep track of what's going on. And it's so unnecessary as well. Half the flashback takes place in a previous place that we have already seen, so why did they have to show the flashback?
As for positives, I suppose the props and set pieces were good. I liked the action quite a lot, especially ones with Harley in them. The movie has an over the top color palette that is actually quite memorable, and there is a certain amount of style to it as well. Margot Robbie gives quite a convincing performance, one that is better than the one she gave in Suicide Squad (everyone else's acting sucked though).
The director of the film, Cathy Yan, says that the movie performed poorly because the world is not ready for an all female cast yet. However, I completely disagree. This movie's poor performance is mostly because of it's R-rating. The only people whom I know that actually like Harley are a bunch of 12-13 year old kids. Aside from a couple of f-bombs and some mild gore, this movie feels very childish. It has no mature themes at all, and the jokes are extremely silly.
The target demographic for this movie is adults, and yet I'm sure this film would make a lot more money if it was just PG-13. I guess they wanted to jump on the R-rated movie bandwagon after the success of Joker, but I'm glad to say it didn't work. Please don't watch this movie, it's a complete waste of your time and money.
So Dumb It's Funny
So last week I was scrolling through Netflix because I had nothing to watch, and came across this movie. I've always been a fan of the Scooby-Do show and decided to give this film a watch. And oh boy, I'm glad I did. This is one of the most entertaining films I've ever seen. That doesn't mean it's any good though.
Now I would like to point out that this film does have a level of self-awareness to it, so maybe it's just stupid on purpose. But still, there's a lot to complain about.
The acting is on the level of a high school play. And that's not an exaggeration. Velma's actress in particular is shockingly bad. But don't worry, every other actor displays some terrible acting as well. It's more excusable when the characters are being goofy and silly, but when the movie gets serious and the characters are trying to have a have an emotional moment, it's laughably bad. None of the actors have any chemistry at all and they're at their best when alone or in groups of two, which kind of defeats the purpose of the whole 'teamwork' message this film has.
In the first five minutes the characters split up and the Mystery Inc. is no more. The problem with this is that we have been given no reason to actually care that they split up. And then they come back and have to learn to work together. We should have had more scenes with the main characters before they broke apart, so that we could understand more about these people. Heck, they're the main characters.
Speaking of which, all the members of Mystery Inc. are flat and one-dimensional. Everyone has two personality traits and that's it. Fred is the leader who always takes all the credit for the teamwork. Velma is the smart girl who feels unappreciated. Daphne is the damsel in distress who hates being the damsel in distress. As for Shaggy and Scooby, well um... they're really dumb and try to be funny (emphasis on try).
Which brings me to my next point: the comedy. I am of the opinion that a person can make a kids movie and it can still be enjoyed by adults. The best kids films are the ones that can be enjoyed by more than just kids. But any hope of adults enjoying this film was destroyed when it comes to the comedy. You know the writers did not put any effort in the jokes when there is a three minute long sequence involving a burping contest. Later on the characters have all their brains swapped, and for five minutes the characters are joking about their situation and examining themselves. Not only are the jokes terrible, but they also drag down the runtime of the film significantly. The only times that I actually laughed were due to how ridiculous the plot become.
That is, of course, if you can even call the film's narrative a plot. I saw every story beat and twist coming from a mile away. The villain twist was super obvious, as was the MJ is evil twist. I'll admit, there were some thing that I didn't expect, but only because they were so bizarre and stupid. The whole point of the scooby-do cartoon is that whenever it looks like there is some supernatural ghost, zombie, mummy or whatever, there is always a perfectly realistic and reasonable explanation for it. But the film takes the lazy route and instead just says: oh yeah, magic exists. This undermines the whole concept of the original show completely.
To be fair, most of what I have to say for this movie is true in the show as well. The characters are one-dimensional, the plot twists are always predictable (the least predictable character is always the culprit) and the jokes were pretty bad. Still, the show was at least slightly more clever than this movie. But if you want to watch, do so with a bunch of friends. You'll be very, very entertained.
The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008)
The Worst Thing About This Show Is That It Got Cancelled
Spectacular Spider-man is an animated series that came out in the year 2008. It was the first Spider-Man related media that came out after Spider-Man: The Animated Series and the Sam Raimi trilogy. Clearly, it had a lot to live up too. Besides, the 2-D animation did not look very appealing. However, after watching the show in it's entirety I can safely say this is the most faithful any Spider-Man show or movie has been to the comics.
Lets start with the main cast of characters. Peter Parker is perfect here. He is geeky enough to be accurate, he's an outcast, but he always remains humble and has a good heart. By the end of each episode you get the feeling that he learned something, that his character is developed somewhat. We only have twenty-six episodes, but you can tell he's changed a lot over the course of the show.
Gwen is very likable in this too. She's Peter's friend at first, but soon grows to be his true love. There's a fun love triangle between her, Peter and Liz. Most of the time I couldn't care less about love triangles in a show, as it's mostly used as filler. However, their relationship is something you grow to care about, so much so that I was more interested in their romance then the Spider-man stories. Part of the reason why is because it's one of the few overarching plots in a series that quite episodic. I'm also glad that they decided to make her more geeky in this, as her personality in the comics is quite bland.
Peter's good old Parker luck hits quite hard in this show as well. Peter's constant disappearances makes him get in a lot of trouble, and also creates his own greatest enemy. Pete loses his job, gets constantly bullied and tormented, and is unable to focus on his normal life because of his constant worries as the web head. The show skips over his origin story (thank god) and gives us a Spider-Man who knows the basics of being a crime fighter but still has a lot to learn.
The villains of the story are well developed as well. Th e problem with a lot of Spider-Man villains is that they mostly have very similar origin stories and motivations. In the comics nine out of ten times the villains suffer some freak accident at science lab and turn evil. This show spends some more time with our bad guys to flesh them out more, and whenever they turn evil it makes sense and isn't just a way to push the plot forward. Venom is the prime example of this. Eddie Brock is introduced very early into the show, and from his point of view his downfall into a villain is perfectly understandable. At the same time, you also know why the symbiote is angry at Spider-Man.
The main complaint that I hear is that the animation is too simplistic. But you have to realize that the budget was spread pretty thin, and the simple design is a good way to ensure the battle sequences are fun to watch. And they are. Each fight feels very smooth and fluid, and are some of the best parts of the show. I've seen many shows that have good animation, but when it comes to the action sequences they feel wooden and stiff. And when it comes to a Spider-Man cartoon the first thing you have to get right is the web swinging and fight scenes.
The show is also surprisingly well paced. It usually has one main plot, and many other subplots. The side characters are interesting and the villains in the background are always plotting and scheming. Each episode introduces a new conflict for Peter, with many other side conflicts that keep him engaged as well. I also really like how each episode is named after some science principle or law, and that the episode also fits the title as well. It's a nice touch.
Sadly, Spectacular Spider-Man got cancelled because of some copyright problems between Sony and Disney (ironically, the same thing almost happened to MCU Spider-Man). Many people are demanding that the show should continue once again, with an online petition and a hashtag. Unfortunately, it seem rather unlikely, because Disney bought the rights to all Spider-Man cartoons, but Sony has the rights to the character designs. Alas, we are likely never to get a satisfying conclusion to a truly spectacular show.
The Legend of Korra (2012)
The Worthy Follow Up to The Last Airbernder
The Legend of Korra is the sequel series to ATLA. ATLA might be my favorite animated show ever made, so I was very worried that the sequel would not be as good. Thankfully I was very wrong. TLOK was everything that I wanted it to be and more. Very rarely do we get a good sequel to a beloved classic. The Legend of Korra is an exception.
This show takes place seventy years after the end of ATLA. The world has advanced much further than before. ATLA's world was pretty simple. Four kingdoms were taken over by the fire nation. The fire nation was a fascist state that ruled the world. TLOK 's world is a lot more complicated. There are still four nations, but Republic city serves as a sort of Utopia were fire, earth, water and non benders lived together in harmony.
Republic city is not ruled by a king or queen, but by an elected president. Technology has advanced much further. We now have radios, automobiles, skyscrapers, robots, small airplanes, and skyscrapers. Democracy is now more common, the fire nation is a pacifist state, the earth kingdom is a futuristic empire, and tensions between the North and South poles are high. The radically different setting is very refreshing.
Korra herself is the complete opposite of Aang. While Aang was generally a peaceful monk who never wanted to be the avatar, as well as a very spiritual person, Korra prefers fighting her way out of any situation, and, in the first season, is not spiritual at all.
It is understandable why some people would be upset that this show is so different from ATLA, but I think that is something to be praised. It would be very easy to simply ride of the success of the first show by throwing in tons of fans service and appealing to people's nostalgia (like Star Wars did), but the creators decided to go the more difficult route and expand on the first shows ideas while also creating new stories. In an age where most sequels are desperately trying to recreate the success of previous movies, it's nice to see a sequel that's trying something new.
Unlike ATLA, it's pretty hard to judge The Legend of Korra as one show - each season is sort of its own miniseries. You have a new villain in each season, new conflict, and new subplots. The overarching stories are the main characters' development, but not much else. Season 1 starts off pretty strong, it introduces the main character very well. The animation is drop dead gorgeous, and the music is - dare I say it - even better than the music in ATLA. The first episode also portrays Republic City superbly, and subtly hints at the coming conflict.
Korra has mastered fire, earth and water, but she still has a problem with air, which also gives access to her spiritual side. This is a very interesting place to start, considering the only elemental training we didn't see in The Last Airbender was air bending. Korra discovers a Pro Bending arena, a bending sport, and so she makes friends with Mako and Bolin, a fire bender and an earth bender, respectively. Mako and Bolin are kind of the Katara and Sokka of this show, but they each have enough personality traits to make them feel unique. Meanwhile, Amon, the main villain, has the power to take people's bending away.
For the most part, I enjoyed the first season. Amon is not some generic villain who wants to take over the world, but rather his motivations are actually pretty understandable. It also makes sense why he would have so many followers, because his ideology and beliefs are something many people in the real world share too. In this case Amon believes that as long as there are benders, there will never be true equality. I also like how laser-focused and fast paced this season is. One of my only problems with ATLA was that there was too much filler. Because the creators were restricted to only just twelve episodes, they wasted no time. This season did have one episode that was just about a love triangle, but it did a good job of developing Mako and Bolin. Season 1 rating: 8/10.
The second season was kind of a mixed bag for me. It has some of the best episodes in the show, but also some of the weakest. The first six episodes were pretty uninteresting. I liked the relationships between Aang's children, but everything else was dull. Varrick was a fun side character, and I didn't see his twist coming. On the other hand, Unaloq might be the worst villain in the show. Unlike the other three, he doesn't have much justification for his motivations, and he just wants to rule the entire planet and gain unlimited power. It picks up halfway through though, with the story of the first avatar and when the stakes are established. Many hated it when Korra lost the connections to her past lives, but I think it was a pivotal step for her character. Season 2 rating: 7/10
Season 3 was an improvement. Zaheer was my favorite villain, he was the most understandable, he was the most unique (the only air bending villain), and he was the most dangerous. Jinora got a lot of development as well. I'm glad the air nation was being reborn again, and seeing the characters trying to convince people to become nomads was an interesting premise for the show. Also, Bolin become my favorite character in this season. The battle of the Northern Air Temple was fantastic, and Zaheer vs Korra was so well animated that I felt like I was watching a big budget film. The last episode is quite tragic, with Korra getting tortured and not easily recovering. The episode of the season finale ends with the main character dying, which is quite dark for a kid's show. Season 3 rating: 9/10
The fourth season was pretty solid, but not as good as the third one. Kuvira is an okay villain, but at times she felt like a discount Azula. She's threatening enough for me to like her, but I wish she had a better goal. This season had a promising start with some really good opening episodes, and the time jump was a good hook. Seeing Korra deal with her PTSD was quite emotional, but after she recovered, the season got less interesting. The giant robot battle was fun to watch, but it became pretty repetitive after a while. The ending was pretty satisfying, although I felt the Korra and Asami romance came out of nowhere and could have been more developed. Again, the ending was satisfying, but it didn't have that emotional impact that the ending of ATlA had on me. If the villain and the romance were better, then I would have enjoyed the ending a lot more. It feels incomplete somehow, and I wish there was more. Season 4 rating: 7.5/10
At the end of the day, it's best not to compare TLOK and ATLA. They are both good for very different reasons. I may not enjoy The Legend of Korra as much as The Last Airbender, but the important part is that Korra is its own unique experience, and that's all that matters.
Shrek the Third (2007)
After thoroughly enjoying the first two Shrek movies, I think it's fair to say that I was quite excited for this one. Sadly, Shrek 3 turned out to be a major let down. I think everyone can agree that this movie is the worst in the franchise. Everything good about the first two films and (to some extent) the fourth one is completely lost here.
Lets start with the comedy, which was easily the best part of Shrek 1 and 2. The comedy in those films is more mature than you'd expect and there are a lot of subtle jokes that make a second watch more enjoyable. In this film, most of the comedy consists of loud, obnoxious farts and burps. And I know what you are about to say: It's just a kids movie. But the best part about Shrek 1 and 2 is that they are enjoyed by both adults and kids. I don't see anyone above the age of ten laughing at the comedy in this film.
There's the forced princess subplot as well that's thrown in the story. In this subplot the princesses must learn to escape prison on their own. This leads to a female empowerment message. And while it is well intention ed, it also has nothing to do with anything else in the movie. Female empowerment is not necessarily a bad thing, but it has to fit with the themes of the story. Not to mention, the terrible gags during this scene ruin any investment that I had.
Shrek himself does not have an arc in this movie. He is worried about having kids, but that isn't taken seriously at all and is (like everything else) just a template for some more bad jokes. We're never even given a good reason for Shrek to not want kids. The same can be said for the other characters in this movie. Donkey and Puss have no purpose in the film other provide some more terrible jokes. And if you think that I'm being to hard on this film, bear in mind that all the side characters in the first two movies had a part to play in the plot.
Prince Charming is the least charismatic or threatening villain in the franchise. He wants revenge for what happened in the second movie. The whole time you can tell that the writers were trying to make him more impressive or cool, but he just comes of as a whiny jerk. He even sings at the end of the film, but unlike Fairy Godmother, his voice is truly atrocious.
There's not much else to say really. It's the film equivalent of a fart joke. it's probably best to not acknowledge this film's existence and pretend that Shrek is a trilogy. Maybe I'm expecting to much from a kids movie, but the best kids films or shows are ones that all audiences enjoy. A truly great kids movie should be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their age is. Sadly, the same cannot be said for this movie.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
A Big Pile of Nothing
A while ago I watched all the marvel movies in the MCU. For the most part, the films range from mediocre to actually pretty good. Thor 2 might be the only one that I disliked. To be clear, I don't have strong feelings towards this movie at all. It's just dull to watch.
The acting isn't bad, but none of the actors add anything to their roles. Natalie Portman has proven that she can be great, but in this movie she is just annoying. Her character is the stereotypical love interest who's there because studios think you have to have a girlfriend in every superhero movie. No wonder Natalie Portman decided to skip out on Thor 3.
Chris Hemsworth himself has said that he does not like this movie, and it's easy to see why. Thor has no arc in this film at all, and nothing unique or interesting that makes a character gripping. The only thing in this movie that could have been emotional was his mother's death. The problem is, Thor has never had a proper relationship with his mother, and the audience is never given a reason to care about her death. Even Thor does not seem to care that his mother died. He's a bit sad but gets over it in a couple of minutes.
The film tries to give the side characters some personality, but I still struggle to remember their names. Most of them are the comic relief sidekicks, and that's the extent of their role in the film. The main villain, Maliketh, is about as bad as a villain you can get in a superhero movie. He want's to take over the universe for no reason, check. He is after some MacGuffin, check. He has a completely uninteresting design and voice, check. The actor who played Maliketh said that he hated the role, and had no idea what his character was supposed to be.
Then there's the other two side characters. Kat Dennings and Stellen Skarsguard. Kat Dennning's character is another annoying comic relief. Eric Selvig went from wise old man to crazy old man in between the films. The first shot of him in the film is him naked in front of live TV, which I guess is supposed to be a joke.
The plot is also extremely by the numbers. Nine planets will align and the bad guy will use the MacGufffin to destroy the world, blah blah blah. Then Thor shows up just in the nick of time to save the world with the help of Natalie Portman and then learns some lesson. The end. It's also utterly pointless in the story of the MCU. Just read the Wikipedia plot summary and you'll get about the same amount of enjoyment as you would if you actually watched the film.
The Worst Transformers Movie, And That's Saying Something
Transformers: The Last Knight is the fifth addition to the Transformers franchise, a pentalogy that should never have existed. Seriously, the fact that studios keep getting away with making such terrible films and still make billions of dollars sickens me.
Micheal Bay might be the worst director I've ever seen. When it comes to plot, or character, or having a message, or anything with any substance at all, he completely ignores them in favor of spectacle.
Transformers 5 might actually be worse than any of the ones that came before it. As always the characters are barely developed whatsoever. I'm not saying a Transformers movie has to be a character study or anything but at least do more than the bare essentials.
Mark Walburg's character is the one with the most amount of screen time, and even he doesn't have a personality. We also get the stereotypical strong female character, as well as the generic love interest.
The acting isn't bad. Mark Walburg has had better performances, but he's okay. Anthony Hopkins is actually pretty funny. However, none of the actors have anything to work with. The child actors say lines that no normal kids would ever say.
The transformers themselves are shifted to the side here. Optimus Prime is barely in the movie until 2 hours in! One thing that has always bugged me about this franchise is the fact that none of the transformers are given any depth or personality. To Micheal Bay they are just props that push the plot forwards.
And wow, what a plot. Or lack of, I should say. Most of the 'story' is just an excuse to have more action scenes. It's basically the same thing we've seen a million times already in every blockbuster of the past two decades. Hero need to find a Macguffin to stop the villain from blowing up the world. This time the Macguffin is a scepter and it's located in some ocean. The villain is some evil robot who brainwashes Optimus into working for her. Meanwhile Mark Walburg and the female character (who's name I can't remember) search for the scepter.
The editing is the worst I've seen. Normally I don't usually pay much attention to the editing of any film, but it's impossible to ignore here. For one, the aspect ratio of the film keeps changing. For some reason Micheal Bay kept switching between three different cameras between filming, and it's really jarring. The film also keeps cutting every two seconds, even though it had no need to. This makes the action scenes truly incomprehensible. It reminds me of the Hulk (2003) editing style. There is one car chase sequence that has 113 cuts. Trust me, I've counted.
The first two hours of the film focus on the Macguffin plot, and then it just spirals out of control into a total nonsensical third act battle. This is the longest of the Transformers films, about two hours and forty five minutes long. The thing is, it could have easily been cut down into a better paced movie. But I suppose with the way this film is edited that was to much to hope for.
It's almost as though Micheal Bay is testing the limits of how bad you can make a movie to be and still be successful. Thankfully, this film didn't make as much money as the the other four, so hopefully this miserable franchise will finally end.
Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
An Underrated Masterpiece
In my opinion, Kung Fu Panda 2 is severely underrated. Many seem to prefer the first one over this. However, I completely disagree. The first Kung Fu Panda movie is funny and has a simple story. This film is more emotional and character driven. Whereas the first film was about Po learning Kung Fu, this one focuses more on Po coming to terms with his tragic past.
Already the film has done what every sequel should do, giving the main character a new arc. Another thing is the world building. Most of the film takes place in Gongmen City, and the tall buildings and more advanced architecture is a refreshing change to the setting of the first film. It also further develops the Furious Five, especially Tigress, who's friendship with Po grows much stronger over the course of the story.
Shen, like Tailong in the first film, is the best character. Unlike Tailong, he does not pose a threat to Po in the physical sense, but rather in a emotional way. It was Shen who massacred Po's village, and ergo created his own greatest enemy. Shen is cold and cruel, and a lot of things he does and says are not what you usually see in a animated film. Shen is a great villain to succeed Tailong and a far more dangerous antagonistic force.
Po himself changes. He learns the truth about his tragic past and how he came to be adopted. But Po learns that although his story may not have started out well, his life has become much greater since, which is how he finally gains inner peace by the third act. He is overall a much more mature person than he was in the first movie, although he still has the goofy one liners that are integral to his character.
The action in this film is even better than the first film's. The unique locations and stunning color choices along with some of the best action choreography I have ever seen in a kids film all combine together to make gorgeous looking battles. Most of this film takes place during the night time, so the fire and explosions really stand out. Shen himself is a pure white peacock, and he contrasts heavily with his surroundings, making him instantly recognizable in any scene.
The soundtrack is also as good as, if not better than, the first film. Here it's less noticeable and more subtle, blending in perfectly with the action. In the third act it really elevates the feeling of suspense. Po standing up to a dozen enemy ships and throwing fireballs by achieving pure peace is my favorite moment during the entire trilogy. His final battle and Shen's defeat are done perfectly.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is the Empire Strikes Back of the Kung Fu Panda trilogy. It does everything a sequel needs to and then some more. It is slower paced than the first one, but that is in favor of more emotional beats and better build up. It is a movie that everyone can enjoy and love for many different reasons, and I for one, look forward to revisiting it.
Kung Fu Panda (2008)
An Entertaining and Refreshing Movie
Kung Fu Panda has always been one of my all time favorites. I was a little worried that the film would not hold up as well on multiple re-watches, but my conscience is reassured. This film is as good, if not better, than I remember it being.
Po's character is both hilarious and relatable. Jack Black's voice acting is astounding, and he really brings the character to life. The other characters are all well written and serve the plot well. I particularly liked Shifu and his arc in this movie. Oogway filled the wise old mentor role, with great quotes and life lessons. The Furious Five are funny and good side characters, although they could have been fleshed out a bit more.
But by far the best character in the film is Tailong. His motivations are understandable, he has an intimidating presence, and he makes for a formidable opponent. The part where he escapes from prison is one of the best villain establishing moments I've ever seen. Tailong then single-handily beats the Furious Five in an epic showdown.
Another important aspect that the film had to get right was the Kung-Fu fights, and I'm glad to say that it was quite mind blowing how well choreographed it was. Each battle had a purpose, and every punch or kick had a meaning behind it. It was also really smooth looking.
The message of the film isn't the most original, but it's executed beautifully, as both Shifu and Po understand the power of believing in something. The dragon's scroll is blank, and the way the characters react to it really highlights the difference between them. If you work hard and rightfully earn the scroll like Po, you see yourself in it and can understand that the true power comes from within. And if you chase after the scroll desperately, sacrificing everything for it, like Tailong, then you're forced to reflect at yourself and see what you've become.
I also love the color palette of the movie. During Tailong's scenes the sky is usually dark and red, but whenever Po shows up it turns yellow. There's a nice little attention to detail, and plenty of call backs at the end that you'll notice if you pay attention closely. This is a movie that is especially rewarding upon re-watching. Kung Fu Panda is a story that will entertain kids and please adults, it will make you laugh and stare in awe, and as soon as it's over you will want see it again.
Deadpool is a unique nut ultimately flawed movie. It's a nice middle finger to the standard superhero genre, but, other than that, it does not have much substance.
Don't get me wrong. I like the jokes. I like the gore and the meta humor. But I also want an engaging story. The whole film is your run of the mill, average story with some engaging sequences. The effects haven't aged well, but that's excusable with the budget it has. The side characters and the opening title sequence are pretty subversive, and so is the end credits scene.
But if the only thing holding up the movie is the comedy and the R rating, then that's not enough. This film tries to make fun of superhero tropes and use them as well. You can't have keep your cake but also try to eat it. Either be a generic film or be a complete subversion of the genre.
The first action sequence at the beginning is by far the best one. In fact, every action sequence after it is kind of a letdown comparatively. The villain was pretty weak, but serviceable.
I don't hate this movie, I just feel like it's wasted potential. They could have done a lot more than this. I am still glad that this movie made a lot of money, and I'm glad it had a large impact. I hope that, as time goes on, we get more super-hero movies that are rated R and try something that hasn't been done before. I hope more studios will be confident enough to give filmmakers more freedom to tell unique stories. At the end of the day, I'm more glad of the impact this film had rather than the film itself
Thor (2011) feels surprisingly small-scale and simple, much more than I remember it being. This is one of those films that doesn't quite stand the test of time. Back when it first came out I liked it a lot. But watching it again, it struck me as quite formulaic. Everything feels so dull, with no energy whatsoever.
The pacing is quite slow, and for the middle chunk of the film nothing much happens other than a really bland love story. Thor and Jane just have no chemistry at all and it's hard to care about their relationship. The humor is okay, not particularly funny but serviceable. Loki is alright. He's interesting enough, but Tom Hiddleston hasn't quite got the charisma that he had in the Avengers film. Here, he is just your typical villain.
The plot is exactly what you'd expect from a Thor movie, with no unexpected elements that could keep you interested. The action is pretty entertaining, but nothing more. The actors are doing an okay job. Again, everything about this movie is average and mediocre, nothing more or less. It's not good enough for me to say that I highly enjoyed it, but not bad enough for me to laugh at it.
The special effects are pretty good, especially for the time. If you compare the CGI of this movie with Green Lantern, (which came out the same year) then it's quite impressive. But perhaps the biggest fault with this film is that it's uninteresting. The premise is promising, but in execution this movie hardly delivers. It's fun, but I can hardly see myself re-watching it.
Suicide Squad (2016)
The Very Definition of a Bad Movie
Suicide Squad is a pretty terrible film. The premise is promising, and it's enjoyable in a so bad it's good way, but that's all the praise that I'm capable of giving this film. Every aspect of this film is an absolute failure.
The movie features such a large cast that it's hard to develop any of the characters. Harley Quin and Deadshot (and maybe Diablo) are about the only ones that I could say have somewhat of a personality. The rest are merely side characters.
Harley's character is that she's crazy and she cracks jokes. Deadshot's character is that he cares about his daughter and every decision he makes is because of her. Diablo is sad because his family died because of him and he refuses to use his powers now. I'd like to remind you that these are the best characters in the film, and yet they all feel one-dimensional and cliche.
The plot is something that's been done a million times already. Bad guy escapes from confinement and then shoots a giant laser in the sky to blow up/Terra form the planet. Meanwhile a ragtag group of misfits work together to try and stop him/her with a low chance of them winning *Yawn*.
The acting ranges from terrible to okay. Jared Leto stands out as the worst actor in the film, with a performance so bad it seemed like a parody of the Joker. Will Smith is trying to save the film, but his line delivery is off. Margot Robbie is okay. However, the main problem arises in the terrible dialogue, which feels like something that Micheal Bay wrote.
The comedy feels forced and cringe worthy. I heard that they were re-shoots with the film to add more jokes and make the tone feel more lighthearted. Clearly DC were trying to copy Marvel movies and make them similar to them in tone. This also explains the futile attempt at having catchy songs shoved in to make it more like Guardians of the Galaxy. Unfortunately, this film lacks any heart that GOTG had.
The premise itself is quite idiotic. Why do you need a bunch of villains to save the world when you have much stronger heroes who could do the job better? Most of the members of Suicide Squad barely have any powers that an ordinary military soldier won't have. The only exception is Diablo. Other than him, none of the characters should be the choice to fight a super powered villain.
The plot is riddled with contrivances and pointless action. The color palate is dark, vomit like green. The CGI is (as usual with all DC movies) quite garbage looking. Watch this movie if you hate yourself.
The Lion King (2019)
The only reason I don't give this film a one star is because the CGI was pretty great. You could tell that a lot of hard work had been put in the effects department, and they deserve credit for that. Unfortunately, everything else is pretty bad.
The original Lion King is one of the greatest Disney films ever made. I was reluctant to watch this one because I feared that it would not compare to the original. And I was right. This is a dull, lifeless and utterly bland movie. Despite the movie's commitment to be an absolute remake of the original, it completely misunderstands what mad that film so good. The original was energetic, heartfelt and full of life.
The plot does not even try to add anything new to the table. It's just the same thing but worse. When watching, I couldn't wait for it to be over. I'm not lying when I say that watching this film was the worst cinema experience I have ever had. There is no justification for it's existence whatsoever.
If you have kids, let them watch the original Lion King film. That film had a sense of wonder, and it makes you cry harder than anything. It's beautifully animated and superbly told. This is neither.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
After the utter failure of X-Men: The Last Stand, Fox decided to change their plans for the franchise. Instead of having sequels, they would have origin stories based on individual characters. I believe that they originally planed to have an X-Men Origins: Magneto film as well. However, these plans were soon dropped, for reasons we'll soon get into.
Let's start with the story. We have a rushed beginning that messily sets up the plot. The relationship of Wolverine and Sabertooth are given only a couple of scenes before they become enemies. There's a decent heist action sequence at first. Ryan Reynolds does a good job as Deadpool in the first scene he's in. But it quickly becomes bad after that.
Wolverine decides to retire, get married, and live an idle life. Then his wife gets killed by his brother (Sabertooth). This feels rushed as well, because we're only given one scene with them together, and so it's hard to feel that emotional. The rest of the movie is Wolverine being hunted down and him trying to get revenge.
I won't get into the entire plot since it's way to complicated. Wolverine jumps from one location to another, making the story feel all over the place and unfocused. Gambit appears in the film as well, only to leave after five minutes. The CGI is especially terrible. As anyone would have told you back then, it looked bad in 2009, and it's gone worse with time.
When you stop to think about it, you realize this movie was kind of pointless. We already know Wolverine's backstory, and nothing else of importance is achieved. None of new characters in this film return later, and Wolverine himself forgets everything at the end. It feels like pointless filler. Really bad filler.
The movie was so poorly received that the studio decided to scrap their plans for the 'X-Men: Origins' series, even though it made a decent amount of money at the box office. But it's quite a useless movie in the long run. If you're going to watch the entire X-Men franchise, it'll probably be best to leave this one out.
The Perfect Animated Movie
Into the Spider-verse is a film that gets everything right. Characters? Unique and refreshing. Animation? Stellar. Story? Perfection. Music? Wonderful. Comedy? Fantastic. It's impossible to believe that a seventh Spider-Man film and a third origin story can be so creative and amazing, but somehow the brilliant writers behind this movie managed to do it.
The story revolves around Miles Morales, a young teenager who gets bitten by a radioactive spider. This character may sound familiar, but the story uses this in a rather clever way. Miles is somewhat similar to Peter Parker, but he has enough personality to hold out on his own. He has a relationship with his father that is the emotional backdrop to the entire story, which is something Peter doesn't have. He does lose his uncle as well, but the death and character are quite different from Peter's.
Miles, like any other teenager, is simply trying to find his place in the world, adjust to changes in his body, and try to get a girlfriend. These goals aren't gone when he becomes a superhero, but rather exemplified. He's trying to adjust to changes from the spider bite, he's trying to ask Gwen out, and he's trying to decide how to be a hero. In the end he's taught that there is no secret path to success or perfection, but rather it's a constant road in which you try and try again, always doing your best. Or in other words, 'it's a leap of faith'.
But Miles isn't the only character who's great in this film. Peter B. Parker is the old, cranky mentor spider-man. This character is probably the closest we get to the main depiction of Peter Parker. His story on surface might come of as funny, but it's quite tragic when you really think about it. This is a character who's been Spider-Man for over two decades, which is more than half is life. He initially started as enthusiastic, but gradually became more bitter as he grew older. Being Spider-Man cost him his marriage and trapped him into a constant loop of saving people. He has just kept doing what he's always been doing, and now he's sick of it. There's a moment in the film when he mentions he's sick of the line 'with great power must come great responsibility' , showing that he somewhat resents the line that has thrown him in this miserable life. In the end however, he decides that he's going to try again and give things another chance.
The other Spider-People don't have character arcs like Peter and Miles, but they all have their moments. Spider-Ham and Spider-Noir are both extremely funny. The kingpin's motive is understandable and his presence intimidating.
The animation is truly boundary pushing. Every frame feels alive and full. This is the sort of movie that you have to watch more than once, because there are lots of little Easter eggs, hidden jokes and more constantly lurking in the background. Ang Lee's Hulk tried (and failed) to capture the feel of a comic book through the sloppy editing. In this film, every scene naturally feels like the pages of a comic. The best way to describe it would be: This is a comic brought to life in the most visually stunning way.
It's rare for a superhero movie to have jokes that are so cleverly written and well delivered. More than once I burst into laughter through out the course of the story. The comedy feels like a natural part of the story, instead of it being forced or tacked on. The dialogue is equally ingenious.
This movie respects the character of Spider-Man by truly understanding what he stands for and how inspiring he could be. It also contains one of Stan Lee's last cameos, which is really touching. It emphasizes on the fact that Spider-Man could be anyone: whether it's an African-american teenager, a middle aged divorcee, a detective who fights Nazis, a girl from the future, or a pig.
But this is not just a love letter to Spider-Man, but the entire animation industry as a whole. It proves that there's so much potential and creativity to be gained from animation, and that it must live on. I highly recommend this movie, easily one of the best I've ever seen
The Mummy (2017)
Another Failed Attempt At a Cinematic Universe
The Mummy (2017) is Universal's first (and only) movie in the Dark Universe. For those who don't know, the Dark Universe was to be a cinematic universe featuring all the monsters that Universal owns, such as Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and several other iconic characters.
Obviously they were trying to replicate the success of the MCU, although they clearly didn't seem to realize the fact that people actually prefer superheros in an interconnected universe as opposed to monsters who's stories are very different in tone and style.
But perhaps all this is irrelevant. Due to the underwhelming performance at the box office and the mostly negative reviews, Universal dropped their plans. And that's probably a good thing too, because if the other films they made were as bad as this one, then we would have had one of the worst franchises ever made in cinema history.
This film is directed by Alex Kurtzman, who has also made other terrible films such as: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Transformers. Not exactly the sort of person you wold want to hire to start your franchise. His bad writing skills really show in this movie.
The movie starts with Russell Crowe giving us an exposition dump about the Mummy's backstory. Then we get an action scene with Tom Cruise. Thirdly, we get some exposition about Tom Cruise's backstory. Then we get some action when a plane crashes. Then we get some more exposition about the Mummy's backstory. Then we get some action when Tom Cruise fights the Mummy. Then we get an exposition dump by Russell Crowe when he explains the backstory of the Mummy to Tom Cruise. Then we gets some action when the mummy escapes, and Tom Cruise has to fight her. Then the movie end with one final exposition dump.
Notice a pattern? Exposition, then action, then exposition. The mummy's backstory is explained three times over the course of the film. I'm sure even a five year old would understand the entire plot without much difficulty. They turned a simplistic story into a complete mess. And then they're hints of a cinematic universe which they keep teasing. As if anyone would want to watch a sequel after this debacle of a film.
Tom Cruise's character is something we've seen a million times already. His love interest is equally generic. The only character who is somewhat interesting is Dr. Jekyll. However, he's simply there to provide exposition and to tease future films. I would much prefer a solo Dr. Jekyll film, although that's not likely to happen anytime soon.
The Mummy is not even an accurate title. Tom Cruise fights the Mummy would be better. This movie focuses mostly on his character, which is probably due to the heavy involvement he had in the script. Dull, cliche and an absolute failure, the Mummy is a film you should steer clear off.
Truly Inadequate In Every Way
Hellboy 2019 is the very definition of a sloppy script with terrible special effects brought to life with terrible execution. This movie has one of the most convoluted stories I've ever seen, so much so that the best way to describe it would be thus: Five episodes of a TV show crammed together in the format of a two hour long film, with episodes one and three missing.
There were times when I wondered whether this was a sequel to a movie that I had not seen. That would explain how the film expects you to know all the characters, and constantly references to past events. Maybe if you were a hardcore fan of the comics you might understand. But that narrows down the target audience significantly, because I doubt that many people read Hellboy comics. If you were a casual movie goer who simply wished to watch a fun summer blockbuster, then you would understand this film as much as a person who has not seen any marvel movies understand Avengers Endgame.
The characters jump from one location to another every five minutes. At times it feels like a stage show. New scene, new location, new characters for a certain amount of time and then it jumps to the next scene. The two side characters are introduced halfway through the film, and are so insignificant at first that you don't realize they're integral to the plot until much later.
The villain's backstory is explained in the first five minutes by a terrible expedition dump. It's never a good sign when your story starts with a narrator who explains the plot. The story tries to have elements of King Arthur and the Dark Ages, ancient monsters and giants, and the modern day world. It would have been preferable if it took place in the ancient medieval days, because the modern setting really takes away from the atmosphere and mood.
You feel no emotional attachment to any character in the entire film, because there is nothing relatable or likable about them. Hellboy is mostly indifferent to everything that happens. He doesn't seem to care about the plot, which begs the question: Why should we? Hellboy's father is a huge jerk for most of the story as well and for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Even the villan is generic and forgetable.
The film jumps from one subplot to another, never giving the watcher time to process anything that's happening. Initially, I thought that it was going to be about a McGuffin subplot, but it completely skips over that and moves on to another McGuffin subplot. See what I mean by the story being needlessly complicated?
At least the practical effects are good, but they don't blend well with the CGI at all. The action is pretty entertaining, if you can understand what's going on. And the movie is pretty unique in terms of story. And by unique I mean it's structured in the most bizarre way possible. Watch this movie if you want a headache when it's over.
Dark Phoenix (2019)
After Disney bought the X-Men rights from Fox, it was only a matter of time for them to end there franchise. Personally, I thought Logan was a touching and heartbreaking film that also served as the perfect conclusion to the saga. As for the other characters, their stories were appropriately wrapped up in X-Men: Apocalypse. As such, they really was no need of this film's existence.
Jean Grey was particularly uninteresting. I don't blame Sophie Turner, I'm sure she's a good actress. However, she wasn't given much to work with. Most of the film her character cries and does what other people tell her to do. She's also incredibly stupid. It's because of her inability to control her emotions that all the problems in the film are caused, and yet for some reason she gets away with it all at the end.
This movie also portrays Charles in a poor light. Everyone keeps blaming Charles for the things Jean does, saying that he shouldn't have hidden the truth of her parents from her. But what was he supposed to say? That Jean had murdered her own mother? That would have likely traumatized her at such a young age and made her scared of her powers. But everyone still gives Charles a hard time, saying that he should prioritize the life of one mutant over many helpless beings. How is the fact that he suppressed her memories mean it's his fault that she has an alien parasite in her?
Mystique is absolutely terrible here. She does two things: force down some stupid feminist lines in the film and die halfway through. Her death has no impact in this movie whatsoever and everyone forgets about her in five minutes. Horrendous way to end the character's story.
The villain is so generic that I had to look up her name (it's Vuk, if you were interested). Her motivation and goals are that she wants absolute power or some other dumb reason. And the rest of the side characters are not that interesting either.
Magneto's arc in this movie is the same arc he's had for the past three films. He starts out as a good person, then something tragic happens to him and he pulls out his helmet. He becomes evil for a while and wrecks havoc. Then he becomes good at the very end. It's already been done so often that I'm sick of it. How often are they going to show the same character arc?
The acting is really wooden as well. You can tell most of the actors were there out of obligation rather than actually wanting to be there. James Mcavoy and Micheal Fassbender were pretty solid, but I've known them to do better performances. Jennifer Lawrence was quite terrible here. She doesn't even bother to put the Mystique makeup at all. She clearly does not care at all about this role and just wants to be done with it.
The special effects are pretty solid and the train fight sequence is quite cool looking. There was one scene that I liked, but all this isn't enough to save the movie. This isn't the worst X-Men film or anything, but it should have been a lot better than it ended up being.