Category Archives: Movie Reviews

The Dark Knight vs. The Man of Steel

Batman vs SupermanI went to see Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice this week.  Although I’d heard lots of condemnation for the movie, I couldn’t resist the pull of the world’s two most famous superheroes on the big screen together.  Even if you have never read a comic book or seen a superhero movie, there’s a slightly better than average chance  you’ve at least heard of these two heavy-weights (one day I will have my sarcasm font!).  Is The Bat vs. Supes an Oscar award kind of venture?  No!  Who expects it to be?  That doesn’t mean it isn’t an entertaining trip to the theater.  Let’s set some reasonable expectations here.

This is not a happy go lucky film.  The title should give something of that away.  You have two good guys, superheroes no less, battling it out.  Did you think they were fighting over a broken GI Joe? (Wow, did I just date myself there.)  This movie throws what you conventionally think about the black and white world of the heroes in to nothing but shades of grey.  What happens if you look at the actions of each of these guys from the outside without the special privilege of inside information given to readers, movie-goers and television watchers through the decades?  Innocent die and mass destruction follows them like the stray animal your parents warned you about feeding because it wouldn’t go away.  As insiders into their stories and their worlds we know that while they are the front-man, the memorable face (or silhouette) of these tragedies, they don’t start them.  They’re there trying to prevent a bigger tragedy from befalling their city or the world.  The average citizen isn’t always privy to that information, and therefore neither is the opposition in this film.

At least that’s what I have to assume, because one of the big failings of this film, in my eyes, is the lack of effective set up for the conflict.  Half the movie is spent on backstory and build up with very little substance for the conflict or its resolution actually being conveyed to the audience.  They threw some tarnish on the uniforms of the two most recognizable superheroes in the world, tossed in a little backstory and asked us to believe that is enough to justify the conflict.  Did anyone out there NOT know that Bruce Wayne watched his parents get murdered when he was a kid? Could we not have replaced that little piece of the pie, nicely done though it was, with something that was a little more relevant to this story? (Unless you’re asking me to believe that the whole resolution of this conflict hinges on that two second scene.  When you watch it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

They tried to cram in an entire movie’s worth of setup for this conflict into the first half of Batman vs. Superman, and frankly, it came across as a little weak.  It isn’t like there isn’t enough story material to have added something else for each of these characters in between their last franchise film and this one to start feeding audiences hints of what’s to come.  It felt like they’d ditched all their previous efforts to build a successful franchise and started from scratch here, and there are some pretty big holes.

The second half of the film I really liked a lot.  The introduction of Wonder Woman into this cinematic universe was pretty much perfect, and although I’ve heard a lot of complaint about shoving too many characters down our throats too quickly as a set up for the announced Justice League movies.  It is as well done as I could have asked for, and it was believable in the context in which it was presented.

Could it have been better if they’d spread it out over several movies and formats the way Marvel has done?  Maybe, but DC isn’t Marvel.  This has actually come up in discussion quite a bit since I’ve seen the movie (which is impressive because that was on FRIDAY).  Is DC trying to create for itself a universe that spans television, movies, comic books, etc. the way Marvel has?  Well, who wouldn’t want their organization to be a wildly successful money-making machine of epic proportions?

They’re taking their own path to get there. Are choices such as not retaining a continuity of actors from the small screen to the large going to help them? (I’m looking at Barry Allen here)  Who knows?  It is hard not to compare the two houses who’ve given the world our favorite fictional heroes.  I’m trying to take each project on its own merits and see where the rest falls out.

‘Til next time,
Jessica

P.S. Everybody has an opinion about this one.  Tell me what you think?

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Guardians of The Galaxy

I’ve now seen this movie twice.  As you may have read, the lead up to this movie got me pretty excited.  Opening weekend saw my friends and I, kicked back in our reclining red chairs at the theater with our smuggled candy and buckets of sodas (or icees) eagerly waiting for Rocket, the raccoon with anger issues, Peter Quill the self-acclaimed “Star Lord”, Gamora the green-skinned assassin, Groot a talking(ish) tree, and Drax the most literal character aside from Sheldon Cooper I can recall.

Guardians of the Galaxy did not disappoint.  After stewing over my first viewing, trying to remember all the little ties that Marvel works into their creations, I convinced my parents they needed to see it.  The nephew bowed out to play more Call of Duty with his friends…bad move kid.  You really missed out!  Of course, since I did the convincing, I had to go see it with them.  It would just be wrong otherwise, right? (Just go with it.)  This gave me the chance to really look and make sure I hadn’t been imagining things. (I may have still been imagining things, but at least I got confirmation for some stuff.)

Guardians is a funny movie.  Not that the other installments of the Marvel franchise haven’t been humorous, but this one puts the funny center stage.  We are talking about a bunch of misfit criminals saving the galaxy.  As expected, I really liked the angry raccoon and the tree.

Surprisingly, I liked Gamora more than expected.  Before the movie, I came across a single issue of Guardians of the Galaxy comic books and from that brief glimpse of Gamora, I expected more ice that Zoe Saldana gave her.  This Gamora, who thaws a bit toward her compatriots, relates better for me than the green ice queen I saw in the comic book (Maybe Gamora is a bit more friendly than that single issue revealed, and I just haven’t seen it yet.)  However, I also believe that Saldana had this one brief chance to endear Gamora to the audience, and she did a great job with it.  She is a talented actor who has really shone in both the Star Trek franchise and Guardians.  I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of her.

Peter Quill…you just can’t help but like the jackass, and he is.  A small time criminal, who wants to be both a bigger outlaw and a better person.  His running away looks so much more like running towards something, he just doesn’t know what he’s doing.  This guy spends so much energy holding on to this shining relic of his past that clashes with his present, and leaves him looking for a different future he can’t picture.  (although as “shining relics” go, he could do a lot worse than the soundtrack.  Just saying, great music!)  Peter Quill, is just one adorable, messed up guy… but, he does a lot of development in the film.  The thing I loved is that all this growth doesn’t feel forced.  Chris Pratt does an excellent job of creating a development arc that feels natural, and displaying a depth of character I really didn’t expect to find.

Drax the Destroyer…the most literal character I may have ever seen.  Seriously, I know one of the many reasons I am not an actor.  I do not have the mental fortitude to deliver lines like this with a straight face as many times as needed to make a movie.  Kudos to Bautista for that alone.  Before, I deleted it as too spoiler-y, I couldn’t even type one of this guy’s lines with a straight face.  However, dear reader, I will preserve this for your first viewing if you haven’t seen it yet.  I thought I was going to spit icee all over the place, even though I could see the joke coming a mile away. Of all the characters, Drax is also the most outwardly stubborn.  Quill is joyfully immovable but Drax is just stubborn.  His course set for vengeance, he really doesn’t want to stray from the path he’s decided upon,  and it takes a mountain to move him.

Rocket, oh you angry little fur ball.  I just…you…so funny…so angry, and I feel a little bad that all that anger is so funny, because there’s a lot to be angry about.  This funny, mercenary, enraged, broken, loyal character would be someone you ached for if a) he wasn’t a raccoon and b) you actually met him. You do feel kind of bad for the little guy, and watching just a bit of that anger leach away in the face of growing friendships is kind of heart-warming.  Bradley Cooper imbues this little guy with so much energy, personality, and ruthlessness through the sheer power of his voice, because let’s face it, he’s just so soft and furry.  You just want to pet him.

Vin Diesel, conveyed more through repetition of one three word sentence that most people can get across with 300 words.  Groot ended up being a much more complicated character than I imagined at the outset of this adventure.  My mom was listening to an interview with Diesel on NPR, and he was talking about the hundreds of hours he put in to getting the inflections just right.  He went over the actual words and sentiment the director wanted him to get across, and spent so much time making sure it was exactly correct.  The result is just awesome, and something about Groot just seems to embody nature and all the amazing beauty and wrath inherent in the natural world.

The Collector who made his initial appearance in the Bonus Scene after Thor: The Dark World plays a bigger role in Guardians.  The audience gets a better look at his collection too. Keep your eyes peeled for some familiar species and things.

All of these characters make for interesting character studies, that I plan on going into more later.  I also have much more that I’d like to discuss about Thanos, what and who The Collector has collected, the Tesseract, the Aether and so much more, but I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone.  In other words, go see it, and send me an email at ilovegeekology101@gmail.com, post a comment or something.  Discussion, speculation, and tidbits that hint at what’s to come and give insight into what has happened are all flying around this brain of mine.

Also, who still gets up and leaves before the credits are finished in a Marvel movie?  Both times I went to see it, nearly half the people left before the Bonus Scene.  Have they been living under a rock?

‘Til next time,

Jessica


It’s Heavy, But Good

I just finished watching Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. This is one that I really wanted to see in theaters in 3D, but I missed it. Now, I’m kind of glad I did. I think this one would have made me nauseous. Lots of spinning and flying through space.

The imagery and visuals in this film are stunning. The sunrises over earth, the Aurora Borealis and the vision of the lights in the U. S. at night are gorgeous. What really got me is a particular image at a pivotal point in the story, a turning point for Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone.

GravityBeneath the terrifying whirlwind adventure in space, they did some great character development. Sandra Bullock’s character is transformed and ends up confronting events from her past in the lonely vacuum of space, and emerges at the end of the film a much different person than the one who joined the mission.

As a kid, I watched the movie Space Camp and decided that I definitely wanted to be an astronaut.  I was reminded of that childhood dream as I watched this movie, and determined that I rank up there with Doctor Leonard (Bones) McCoy with the opinion that space is scary.  Beautiful.  Awe inspiring.  Humbling.  Powerful.  Terrifying.

I think one of the things that made this resonate was something that I read or heard in an interview with an astronaut that, although the film didn’t get everything right, they did a really good job of giving viewers a realistic glimpse of space.  This little snippet that took up less than 30 seconds of the interview is what rolled through my mind through 80% of the film.  Oh.  Holy.  Crap.

For this movie, Sandra Bullock filmed alone, with not much more than a voice for company.  As I understand it, typically movie sets are pretty crowded places, and being by yourself when you’re typically surrounded  by people had to be weird and maybe a little stressful.  I can see the filming circumstances playing a role in the portrayal of this character as well.  All alone out in space…space.

Alone.  In space.   This creeps me out a little all on its own.  As a person who gets a little antsy if I don’t interact with living breathing people on a regular basis, the idea of being in space all by myself, is…tension-worthy.

I understand why Gravity is so highly acclaimed, and I’m really glad I watched it.

Have you seen it?  What did you think?

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Finding Inspiration Through the Tears

So, I am a little in love with the book, The Fault in Our Stars. Are you shocked? Probably not. The movie adaptation was released last week, and I finally got to see it. Before going to see the movie I discussed it with…just about everybody, and, so far, the general consensus is that TFiOS broke their hearts.

As my friend and I left the theater, she mentioned how depressing she found the film, but I disagree.  Maybe the second consumption of the story lends itself to a little more introspection and a little less reaction.  Don’t get me wrong, I cried buckets.  I’m grateful she thought to grab tissues (although I’m not sure an entire box would have been enough to mop up all the emotion).  However, even as I dried my tears and tried to pull myself together enough to at least remember where I parked the car (not an easy feat on a day in which I haven’t been emotionally compromised by a John Green tale), I realized that I don’t find this story depressing.

Hazel, Augustus and Isaac broke my heart again, and once again, they’ve mended it a little.  The story of the “cancer kids” who meet in “the literal heart of Jesus” inspires me. I had to work my way through the emotion to find the inspiration, and, as I said, the second consumption helped to find the positivity inherent in every novel of Green’s I’ve read.

There’s hope and life in this story. I’m inspired to take advantage of every day, to cherish the people in my life, to take chances despite (or even because of) the risk, and to never dismiss love.  My stubbornly independent self is even inspired to admit (occasionally) that it is okay if you can’t carry everything by your self all of the time, and leaning on the people who love you every once in the while isn’t a bad thing.  Sometimes you need a boost to achieve your dreams.

Don’t be intimidated by the tears! Go see this movie.

 


X-Men Days of Future Past: A Movie Review

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Cast-poster-570x829I took my nephew to see X-Men Days of Future Past.  He, for good reason, didn’t want to go car shopping with my parents and my niece.  (Lord have mercy, my niece has a car…I..it…huh.)  Instead of being stuck at home by himself all day on a Saturday at the beginning of his summer break, we had lunch, a movie, some video games and Legos (well, he didn’t want to play with Legos, I did.)  Two of my favorite things about the day:

  1. The look on my nephew’s face when the girl at lunch asked me about my Doctor Who T-shirt and proceeded to tell my nephew not to hate on The Doctor.
  2. My nephew’s whining over my Assassins’ Creed philosophy, mostly because I don’t play it the way he does. (Which is basically running around killing everyone.)
  3. The latest installment in the X-Men franchise. (okay, so that’s three not two, but only because I forgot how much I enjoyed my nephew’s snark)

With the next installment already under contract for Hugh Jackman, this will make him the longest running actor to play a superhero.  X-Men Days of Future Past marks his sixth appearance as the Wolverine in a film.  (Yes, I counted.).  In an interview, I also saw him get ridiculously excited about being the only character to get to drop an F-bomb in the films, so far. (I have not watched them all over again to verify, but I believe him)  The interview with James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman and Michael Fassbender on Graham Norton is pretty adorable.  They dance and Graham shows McAvoy and Fassbender fan art.  They also discuss off camera antics and pranks, and singing, yes, singing…totally worth a watch.

Wolverine has always been one of my favorite characters, and Jackman doesn’t disappoint here.  The gruff character may be mellowing a bit around the edges, but not too much.  Nostalgia maybe?  Going back 50 years and seeing your past self in a life you left behind…it has to be a bit trippy.  Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Mystique/Raven is stellar, as always.  Mystique’s character only became more intriguing to me after X-Men: First Class, and watching the evolution of Mystique/Raven is fascinating.  Things change in this film, and it left me with an intense curiosity about what’s next for the shapeshifter.  Actually, for all of them.  Magneto and his motley crew were always adversaries, but will they continue to be that foil?   They changed history when they sent Wolverine back in time, so….how much really changes?  It is a paradox.

Here are the basics.  Wolverine gets sent back to 1973 to prevent the Sentinel program from being launched, because 50 years later those Sentinels are not only killing off mutants but a bunch of humans too.  1973 finds the characters from First Class still suffering from the after effects of the events in Cuba, in many ways.

Now, I haven’t read all the comic books (yet), so I don’t know if you see Professor X trying to find his way after losing the use of his legs.  If you don’t get to see it there you definitely get to see it here.  McAvoy does a fantastic job with Xavier’s struggle.  A poignant story, he is in turns angry, frustrated, infuriating, stubborn…well, you get the picture. Professor Xavier always came across as calm, cool and collected, and even though we saw Charles Xavier’s youthful exuberance and passion from McAvoy in X-Men: First Class, the man always retained that stoicism that his character exhibits in the later years we’re more familiar with.  The trailer below shows him punching Magneto…that alone should clue you in to a different character than we’re used to seeing.

 

A stand-out in this film is Quicksilver, the young man who is fast…like, super fast.  Smart mouthed, irreverent, funny, and intelligent Evan Peters provides a great performance.  Now, comic book fans may be wondering how the Fox X-Men franchise and the Marvel’s Avengers franchise are going to handle a character that inhabits both worlds. (I may not have read all the comic books, but I’ve done a little homework.)  They made a deal, Quicksilver will appear in both franchises, but no mention will be made of the crossover.  Pietro Maximoff will be taking the role in Avengers: The Age of Ultron, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with the Quicksilver character.  As much as I adore McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, and Jackman’s characters in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Quicksilver definitely shone.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this installment of one of my favorite stories, and it lived up to my expectations.  (Well, there was no Gambit.  I knew there was no Gambit, but I always want more Gambit.)  It is definitely worth a trip to the theater this summer.

I also got a look at trailers for some upcoming films, and Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson looks good.  Really good.  The trailer shows her kicking some serious butt, and although, I expect no less of the woman who took on the role of Black Widow, I can’t wait to see her do it again.  Several other films struck me as worth seeing, but Lucy stayed with me.  Guardians of The Galaxy  showed a trailer I hadn’t seen before, which does not lessen my desire to see that movie at all.  (Come on, Bradley Cooper is a rage filled raccoon!  Vin Diesel is a freaking tree.  How can you not want to see this movie?)  What movies have you seen?  Any I should be checking out?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 


World War Z….Just Another Zombie Movie?

Here comes the zombie apocalypse.  I didn’t really think of myself as a real fan of zombie…stuff before this movie.  I haven’t watched The Walking Dead,

 

seen Warm Bodies,

or any movies with zombies in them actually.  Not that these haven’t been on my radar, I just haven’t gotten to them…yet.  (I’m easily distracted.)  Then I started thinking about books, because, well, World War Z is based on the novel by Max Brooks.  The book has been on my “grocery” list of books for a while, but I’ve been waiting until I saw the movie first. (My theory is that if I see the movie and then read the book I’m not disappointed the movie isn’t more like the book.  The book has always been better, so far.)

I read a lot of books with zombies, I just didn’t think of them as “zombie books” necessarily.  Of course, I’ve already mentioned Laurell K. Hamilton (I promise, she’s getting her own post too!)  Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter can also raise the dead.  As a matter of fact, that is her…well, not her day job, per say, it is done at night, but….you get my point, right?  So if you count all of the Anita Blake novels there are 22 of them now (The 22nd was just released.  You’ll get your Hamilton post as soon as I read Affliction)….then I got curious so I looked up List of Zombie Novels on Wikipedia.  Hamilton’s aren’t even on this list…probably because Anita is a vampire hunter, huh?  There are a lot of zombie books out there…my “grocery list” may have just gotten a bit longer.

Sorry, I got distracted.  From everything I’ve heard/read/discovered this is a very loose adaptation of the Max Brooks novel.  The film follows Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry, and his family during the initial attacks and the aftermath of these attacks as Gerry tries to find out how this “virus” started and how they can stop it.

World War Z in 3D was a good action movie.  It was fast paced, and never boring.  There are some fantastic scenes of zombies taking over the city too.

Is there a lot of character development? Well, not really.  The action sequences and zombie attacks are what kept movie going, and when I read complaints about character development in reviews I had a thought.  There is a raging zombie virus taking over the world, how much character development do you really need?  On the one hand, I didn’t really miss it in the movie.  On the other, when a character died it didn’t have the emotional impact of other character deaths…Joss Whedon, you know what you’ve done…Don’t even get me started on the emotional trauma inflicted by a certain writer for the BBC…yes, Steven Moffat, I mean you. I’m not even touching Supernatural.  (I got distracted AGAIN!)

I really liked that the zombies were not these shambling undead creatures that manage to still kill a large portion of the world’s population.  These things are wicked fast.  Seriously, fast, mindless, killing machines…what happens when their food supply (a.k.a. HUMANS) runs out?  They don’t die, they just…do what?  Rot away?  Eat animals?  Go into a weird hibernation thing?  (Okay, apparently this is a really distracting post for me.  I apologize…just not enough to stop.)

I mentioned lots of action right?  Lots of action in a zombie movie in 3D means that it felt like a zombie was going to eat my face. (It’s 3D!  As long as it isn’t overused, isn’t that the point?)  I screamed.  (I’m not going to say like a girl, because well a) duh, I am a girl b) I’m pretty sure a guy behind me screamed too.)  I may have jumped a lot too…or so I’ve been told.  See, the problem is, I know that somethings going to happen somewhere in a particular scene.  It isn’t like it takes me by surprise.  The anticipation gets me. The whole time I’m thinking (dangerous, I know) it’s coming, any second something’s going to happen, it’s going to happen any momeOHMYGODTHEREITIS!  Every. Single. Time.  It’s exhausting and exhilarating…when’s the next one?

What’s your favorite zombie….thing?

Which character’s death has hit you the hardest? (I know other people have been traumatized by writers….I’m not alone in this.  Am I?)

‘Til Next Time,

Jessica