Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Wolverine




But first, I have one question: What is the first name that comes to mind when you think of X-Men? 9 times out of 10 you would probably answer that question with Wolverine and for good reason too. He is the most popular X-Man on the team, not to mention one of the most badass comic book heroes of all time.

Complete with an adamantium skeleton which include knife-like claws, a berserker rage, and accelerated healing powers that render him unable to die. In fact, he is the Clint Eastwood of the Marvel Universe. Which is probably not fair considering Clint Eastwood is represented twice in the Marvel Universe with the other character being the Punisher. And if the Punisher is Dirty Harry then Wolverine is the Man with No Name because he’s got the attitude and he’s so mysterious. For one thing, no one knows how old he is because of his inability to die even though we sort of got a pretty good idea in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I mean he fought in the Civil War for Christ’s sake.

And the reason that I bring up the Punisher in a review about Wolverine is that both characters were created around the same time as villains for more established Marvel heroes. While the Punisher was conceived as a villain for Spider-Man, Wolverine was conceived as a villain for the Hulk. In fact, his first appearance was in a 1973 Hulk comic. Then a year later, Marvel decided to make him a good guy and made him part of the X-Men (despite his reputation as a loner) where he has been on and off ever since. And his popularity started to grow, but it wasn’t until his landmark 1982 limited series featuring a story about Wolverine going to Japan that his popularity really started to soar. And the basis of that limited series has become the movie we’re reviewing today, especially since this ties in with the fact that this ties in with the final Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman Logan being released to theaters this weekend.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is The Wolverine.

The movie takes place after X-Men: The Last Stand (which I have not seen but I’ll take your word for it that it sucks) but it actually begins in a Nagasaki POW camp during World War II (Yes, Wolvie fought in World War II. Again, X-Men Origins) where a captive Wolverine (once again played by Hugh Jackman) saves the life of a guard who will be known as Yashida throughout the rest of the movie just seconds before we nuked Nagasaki to end the war. Either that or Nagasaki had a shitload of bad movies they wanted to see destroyed.


But now on to the current story. Since X-Men: The Last Stand, Wolverine has been in hiding in the Canadian wilderness still haunted by the fact that at the end of that movie, he was forced to kill the love of his life, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). That's what happens when you let Brett Ratner direct while the franchise's original director Bryan Singer goes off to direct a subpar Superman movie. Throughout this movie, Jean appears frequently and acts as sort of his conscience. And her appearance is getting a lot of buzz primarily because of the fact that every scene she’s in, she’s wearing lingerie for no obvious reason other than as fan service to attract the male geeks in the audience. Now that you mention it, there was another scene like that in another movie that came out in the summer of 2013 but I can’t think of it at the top of my head. Oh, yeah. Now I got it. It's that pointless scene with Carol Marcus stripping down to her underwear in front of Kirk in Star Trek Into Darkness. So I'm guessing the summer of 2013 went down in history as the summer of pointless lingerie scenes. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But anyway, our pal Logan (Wolverine’s real name by the way) is soon spotted by a badass Japanese chick named Yukio who works for Yashida who wants to repay our hero for saving him from the big bad nuke by offering him a chance to be human by transferring his healing powers to Yashida, who is dying of cancer. He also wants Logan to protect his granddaughter Mariko, a character who was also a love interest for Wolvie in the comics, for reasons that I will not disclose because it could be a major spoiler. And just like in the comics, Logan and Mariko fall in love even though at first they can't stand each other. Sounds like a plot for a typical romantic comedy.

So anyway, what ensues is a nonstop montage of really great action sequences which includes Wolverine actually killing people (this movie almost got an R rating by the way, partly because we see blood on Wolverine’s claws at one point) and even a breathtaking action sequence on top of a bullet train that makes this feel less like a comic book movie and more like a cross between the Nolan Batman films and the Bourne movies.

Wolvie's adversary this time around is a mutant called Viper who is basically Marvel's answer to Batman villain Poison Ivy. She is played by a hot Russian actress named Svetlana Kochinkova, who kind of looks like all those hot girls I usually get on ads for Russian dating sites. She's after Logan all right but not for marriage. She needs him for her secret weapon: an adamantium-plated cyborg known as the Silver Samurai that basically looks like a cross between the ED-209 in Robocop and the Iron Monger in the first Iron Man. Like Poison Ivy, Viper has the ability to kill anyone with a kiss. However, when she first encounters our hero, she makes out with him while he is having another hallucination about hooking up with Jean Grey. What results is Wolverine's healing ability gets inhibited and that makes him vulnerable, a position that our hero rarely finds himself in.

Another fun fact: The role of Viper was originally offered to Jessica Biel but she turned it down because she and Fox couldn't come to a deal quick enough.

As of now I will have to say that after playing the iconic character in
several movies, Hugh Jackman owns the role of Wolverine in pretty much the same way that Christopher Reeve was Superman and Robert Downey, Jr. is Iron Man. I think someone should actually make Hugh sign a contract where he has to show off the claws in every movie he's in. Hell, he could have used those claws in Les Miserables. He could have used them when he hosted the Oscars that one year. That's how good he is in the role. In fact, getting back to the fact that the movie is based on the 1982 limited series comic book, Hugh said that the mini-series was his favorite Wolverine story.

Since about 60 percent of the cast is Japanese (well duh, the movie's set in Japan) I can't really name names but most of the Japanese actors did pretty good. Mariko on the other hand was kind of meh. I would've rather seen Wolvie hook up with Yukio because his chemistry with her was really good. Famke Janssen was pretty good for spending the entirety of her scenes in lingerie which again was kind of pointless. The hot Russian chick did okay as Viper, and since Viper is Marvel's answer to Poison Ivy, she is a big improvement over Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy in Batman and Robin.

Director James Mangold, who helmed some really good movies like the remake of 3:10 to Yuma and the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line and who is also directing the upcoming Logan which is Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolvie, actually gives us a decent Wolverine movie. He gives us some really awesome action sequences and when there are quiet scenes (such as the Jean Grey scenes and the Nagasaki flashbacks) he makes them count. This movie is a true Wolverine solo movie and this is the movie X-Men Origins should have been.

In short, The Wolverine is a lot of fun and it is a pretty decent action movie. And trust me, this is probably the best X-Men related movie I have seen to date and it's the best X-Men movie since 2003's X2: X-Men United (which ironically was the last X-Men movie I saw in theaters before this one.) If you have a chance, check it out. You won't be disappointed.

And one more helpful hint: You may want to stay past the credits. There is a coda at the end that sets up X-Men: Days of Future Past in which Wolverine will be a major player in and look for two surprise cameos at the end. However, at least unlike the latter film, The Wolverine did not leave me bored.

So all I can say about this movie is SNIKT!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Moment by Moment




Boy, have I just seen a real winner today. This movie clearly belongs in the Hall of Fame of Bad Movies right along with the Twilight movies, Norbit, and Garbage Pail Kids among others. However, the only difference between those movies and the movie I’m reviewing today is that this movie is not presently out on DVD. Hell, it never even got a video release, probably because Universal, the studio that distributed this thing even though it shouldn’t have been greenlit in the first place, was so ashamed by it that they wanted to just banish it from existence. That’s how bad it was. However not quite as bad as what Universal churns out in theaters these days.

In fact, the only way to see this movie is on cable (if you’re lucky that is) where it is viewed every so often or if someone uploaded it to YouTube, which someone did but I won’t name names.  

And to think that this movie was released on the heels of two iconic John Travolta movies: Saturday Night Fever and Grease. He was a big star on top of the world and could have any movie he wanted. Unfortunately, I don’t know if he was convinced to do this by producer Robert Stigwood (who produced both of Travolta’s big blockbusters) or as part of an expressed desire to do a movie with comedian Lily Tomlin, who at the time was also on a career high thanks to her Oscar win for the movie Nashville. I’m guessing that Lily decided to do this movie because her real-life lesbian lover/manager Jane Wagner directed and wrote this movie. And according to IMDB, this was the only movie she directed.

And another thing of note about this movie is that the hit show Mystery Science Theater 3000 tried to obtain the rights to this movie so they can riff on it and were denied. That was a big blunder on Hollywood’s part because this movie clearly deserves to be riffed on. However, the Cinema Snob recently reviewed this movie and I think that it’s about as close to a riff as you’re going to get.

Even though this movie is not available on video, you can’t deny that this movie exists. And since I’m reviewing it today, neither can I. So ladies and gentlemen, here is the infamous John Travolta romantic movie that Hollywood does not want you to see: Moment by Moment.

The movie opens with Trisha (played by Lily Tomlin), a bored 40-something woman who is going through a messy divorce, walking through Beverly Hills looking to refill her sleeping pill medication. So that pretty much explains why she looks so doped up and in a daze throughout the movie. I mean, her character is about as personality-challenged as Kristen Stewart. While out and about, she meets John Travolta’s character who is named Strip. Really? REALLY?! Strip who is in his twenties (Travolta was 24 at the time of this movie) is a drifter who has a bit of a shady lonely past and even shadier friends to boot. When we first meet him, Strip has the makings of a perfectly good stalker: Not leaving Trisha alone, talking endlessly even though Trisha’s looking at you as though she’s ready to call the cops at the drop of a hat. And Strip is like that for the first 30 minutes. In fact, his shtick is so annoying that a nice guy who can’t get a woman will somehow find this movie and watch what Strip is doing and then think to himself, “Oh, wow. Am I really like that? No wonder I can’t get laid.”

However, after at least 30 minutes of Strip’s annoying friendliness, Trisha finally starts warming up to him despite the fact that she’s still got the issues, most notably trust issues which is understandable because her husband cheated on her, not to mention personality issues. However despite all that, she becomes sexually attracted to the much younger Strip and before you know it, they start doing it. And for the record, I just have to say that Lily Tomlin should not be allowed to do movies that require her to do love scenes. Ever. And she and Travolta have absolutely no chemistry at all, both in and out of the sack. Not to mention that they actually look too much alike, but that’s kind of a moot point.

And shortly after they hook up, all the drama bullshit happens. Strip becomes like a puppy dog acting all needy and looking for validation because he never got that from his family and when she doesn’t say the three magic words, he departs in a huff. In fact he does that frequently for most of the remainder of this movie. He leaves when Trisha won’t reveal to her upper-class friends that she and Strip are in a relationship. And of course, there’s also the whole May-December relationship thing that threatens to tear them apart. And there is a mob subplot thrown in (Strip sees a mob boss at an art show he goes to with Trisha and he’s upset that the mob boss is one of her big society friends.) But like everything else in this movie, it doesn’t go anywhere.

So you would think that with all this thrown at our couple that they would just break up. But you know this is a love story which more often than not tend to have happy endings. Although they may just as well have been better off breaking up because there’s no chemistry.

As far as performances go, the supporting cast aren’t really familiar names and they’re not really in the movie long enough for us to care about them too much. So the only performances I can judge are Travolta and Tomlin. Like I said before, Tomlin has absolutely no business being in a romantic movie. She isn’t romantic enough. Plus it doesn’t look like she was even trying to give a good performance. It was like she was just going through the motions.

As far as John Travolta goes, at least he put in an honest effort. He comes off as playing a character who is a beta male trapped in an alpha male body. He starts out annoying and creepy before veering off into needy and desperate territory, displaying the type of attitude that would normally get a person dumped into the friend zone. At least for his credit he did look good. He’s frequently shirtless throughout the movie and back then he could easily pull it off. Now, well… not so much. Back then a man could have hair on his chest whereas now women expect their men to look like they do on Jersey Shore (no hair on your body at all.)

But personally, I think this whole movie should be thrown in the friend zone. At least with a movie like The Room (directed by Tommy Wiseau) it may have sucked, but at least it was funny because it reveled in its badness. This movie is just boring as hell with dialogue that will make you facepalm. I mean using pick-up lines like “Are you part of the Auto Club?” Really? That’s the best that you can come up with? THIS MOVIE SUCKS! But since this movie does not have a video release and it is very rarely seen, I’m not going to nuke it into Bad Movie Hell. Instead of letting this movie fade into oblivion, this movie should be studied and held up as an example of how not to make a romantic movie.

In fact, I’m gonna go as far as to offer Universal a challenge and I do suggest they accept it. Next year, instead of releasing Fifty Shades Freed (just say you’re going to release Fifty Shades Freed) you re-release this movie to theaters instead so that way, this movie can finally get a DVD release and we can finally learn how this movie came to be. In all fairness, I would think this movie would be better received if it were released now than it was back in ’78.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Last American Virgin



Well, folks. For this review, it’s time to take a little trip to the magical world of the 80’s. And as you know, the 80’s were the best time for movies, TV shows and especially music. 80’s FTW! The movie I’m reviewing today came out at a time when the teen sex comedy genre was booming thanks to the success of the 1981 film Porky’s, which I do vaguely remember seeing as a kid and came out the same year as the iconic teen sex comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I have the DVD of Fast Times but I haven’t watched it yet. In fact, the only time I’ve seen Fast Times was on TV and it was edited. And you pretty much know how people feel about R-rated movies that are edited down for television. In fact, I have a story about that but that’s for another episode.
Getting back on track here, even though this film came out a mere two weeks before Fast Times in the summer of 1982, it is the latter film that is most remembered while this film sort of disappeared into obscurity because of the fact that this movie offered a very controversial and very realistic ending compared to the usual stereotypical Hollywood ending where the nice guy is the hero and he gets the girl at the end. If you came to this review looking for that type of movie then you came to the wrong place because this movie starts out as a stereotypical teen sex comedy and halfway through it throws you a curve and gets really serious (with an abortion subplot not that Fast Times didn’t have one) and then there’s that ending but it’s not a happy ending. So without further ado, here is my review of the classic 1982 film The Last American Virgin.
The Last American Virgin is the Americanized version of a 1978 Israeli film called Lemon Popsicle and it is about a trio of friends, one of whom is a male virgin who embark on a series of misadventures while trying to get laid. That while Lemon Popsicle and the seven sequels that followed it were set in the 50’s, the Americanized version was set in L.A. in more contemporary times, meaning the early 80’s. And another thing that The Last American Virgin shares with its Israeli predecessor is that both films have the same production team: Golan and Globus as producers (meaning that the schlock factory known as the Cannon Group was behind this movie) and it also has the same director, Boaz Davidson. And since male virginity is a pretty serious issue these days with this crazy screwed-up dating culture we are in right now, now is probably as good a time as any to dust off this classic movie and give it a review. So without further ado, here we go.
The movie opens sort of like A Christmas Story (even though this came out a little over a year before Christmas Story) where just like in that movie, the protagonist sees the object of his desire. However instead of a BB gun, our protagonist Gary (played by Lawrence Monoson), pines for a really hot transfer student named Karen (played by Diane Franklin, best known as one of the princesses from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.) And just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, Gary is standing there with his mouth hanging open to the point where he is practically drooling whereas the girl just gives him the once-over and walks away. Then he goes and order the same exact ice cream that the girl does and immediately he sets about trying to find out who she is so he can get with her. Uh, creepy?
Here’s a little tidbit about Gary. He’s not the stereotypical geek like in most romantic comedies where the nice guy gets the girl at the end, nor is he bad looking. He dresses like a typical 80’s kid, collar flipped up, hair in a pompadour (though I don’t know why the boys in this movie all have pompadours in a teen sex comedy that is set in the early 80’s even though it is an Americanized version of a movie that is set in the 50’s), and a sharp dresser. He has a job as a pizza delivery boy at a pizza place called Pink Pizza and he is frequently seen driving around in a pink station wagon which is the company car. Uh… gay?
He is frequently seen palling around with ladies’ man Rick (played by Steve Antin) and David (played by Joe Rubbo), the token fat guy who unlike Gary has considerable success with women. Unlike his peers, Gary is still a virgin who despite his many trips to get laid, he usually goes home without getting any. In fact, the whole first half of the movie consists of the boys’ never-ending quest for tail.
The movie really begins with the boys picking up three girls (one extremely hot chick, one moderately attractive chick, and a fat chick.) They invite the girls over to Gary’s house where they promise them drugs and sex. They have the girls snorting Sweet ‘N Low because they’re trying to pass it off as cocaine and then the sexcapades begin. Since he’s the token douchebag in the movie, Rick gets the really hot chick, fat boy David gets the moderately attractive chick who is sort of reluctant to put out and makes David wait outside while she is getting naked. And guess who ends up with the fat chick? That’s right, our hero Gary and of course he was having difficulty getting her in the mood because clearly she’s more interested in eating rather than getting laid. At one point he even tries to take off her bra using a pair of scissors. But their party is interrupted when Gary's parents return home and pandemonium ensues, nearly forcing Gary’s mom to have a nervous breakdown especially when David mistakes her for his girl. That scene was hilarious.


While Gary attempts to find out about Karen, he even gives her a lift to school after intentionally deflating the tires on her bicycle (creepy) where he learns that she doesn’t have a boyfriend which would seem to indicate that she was a virgin. However he blows his chance with her yet again (friend-zoned) and soon he is shocked to find out that her woman senses were tingling for bad boy Rick the Dick, hence our love triangle which at least is not as bloated and overhyped as the Edward/Bella/Jacob love triangle in that franchise that will not be named.
And to make matters worse, the new couple tries to set Gary up with her geeky best friend Rose who is kind of weird with glasses and pigtails (after all, it was the 80’s) and Rose is immediately smitten with Gary but Gary is obviously oblivious to her. He wants the hot girl after all. Geeky attire aside, Rose is not that bad-looking. All she needed to do was lose the pigtails and Gary would probably forget about Karen. Of course that can’t really happen otherwise we wouldn’t have a movie.
The next sexual misadventure comes when Gary delivers pizza to a sexy Latina cougar whose sailor boyfriend is always out of town and she tells him she wants to hook up with him. And of course being too wimpy to follow up on it, he runs back and gets his friends. Are you really that much of a loser? If an obviously hot woman says she wants to bang you, you don’t run off and get your friends. You bang her!
So anyway, sissy boy Gary brings Rick and David back with him and pretend that they were on a pizza delivery run and decided to bring extra pizzas so that they had an excuse to go to her house. Then she proceeds to do a striptease dance for the boys which makes them as Beavis would say go Boooooiiiiiiinnnnng!  And as usual Rick the Dick gets to bang her first and then David goes next. And as far as that goes, well let’s just say that I’ll never look at the KC and the Sunshine Band song “That’s the Way I Like It" without seeing the image of naked David on top of a hot woman. But guess who decides to show up just as Gary is getting ready to get it in? That’s right it’s the missing sailor boyfriend who promptly chases them off.
And what’s the moral of the story, kids? Next time a cougar wants to sleep with you, don’t bring your friends!
And it is about this point where Rick begins to plan to take Karen’s virginity so he goes to Gary and tries to ask him for the keys to his grandmother’s house where he plans to get her alone. Gary responds by saying that he couldn’t find it and instead forces Rick to break his date with Karen and accompany him and David to a prostitute named Ruby, who obviously looks like she is past her sell-by date. This time, Gary goes first, but because of nerves, it’s unknown whether or not he finished or if he actually got inside her or not but apparently it does not go well. And sure enough the next day, all three boys end up going to school with itchy balls. Heh-heh. Got crabs?
And by the way, the scene where the boys go to a pharmacist and have to explain what is wrong with them is actually hilarious. And what would have made it even more hilarious was that the pharmacist was originally supposed to be a woman.
However the boys get over the crabs long enough for Rick to finally take Karen out to the football field (to Gary’s horror) to finally get her laid. Gary tries to stop them but he could not find him and it is the first time that we hear the Commodores’ single “Oh, No” in the movie (we’ll hear it again at various points during the latter half of the movie along with the movie’s theme song, “Just Once” by Quincy Jones with James Ingram.) Then after Rick and Karen finally do it, they go back to the local hangout where Gary is all alone, obviously depressed and Rick rubs some salt in Gary’s wound by bragging about hooking up with Karen and Gary leaves in a huff.
A few days later, Gary observes an argument between Rick and Karen in the library where he tells her to get lost and here’s where Gary sees his big chance to get with Karen. Now, there is a term for that type of behavior that I can’t think of it right off the top of my head right now…
Anyway, Gary learns that Rick got her pregnant and now wants nothing to do with her and since he obviously still has feelings for her decides to help Karen pay for an abortion. At the same time, he confronts Rick in the library where the two pretty much comes to blows and it’s curtains for their friendship.
Later on, while everyone goes away on a ski trip during winter break, Gary moves Karen into his grandmother’s house. He takes her to an abortion clinic while he runs off to pawn off his stereo and borrow money from his boss to pay for the abortion. After the abortion, Gary takes her back to his grandmother’s house where he behaves like a perfect gentleman even though I have to admit that his watching over her while she sleeps is kinda creepy.
And then the moment of truth arrives when Gary finally reveals his true feelings for Karen and she finally does kiss him as though she seems to be returning his feelings and then invites him to her 18th birthday party the following week. Next thing you know Gary is able to scrape up eighty bucks (thank god Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen was nowhere in sight and if you’ve seen Back to the Future Part III, you’ll get the joke), Gary goes to a jewelry store and buys Karen a gold locket with an inscription on it that says “To Karen, with love.”
And sure enough, the day of the party arrives and Gary arrives in the pink station wagon with Karen’s present, happy as can be because he’s finally gonna get the girl. And just when you think that this movie will end up with the traditional romantic movie happy ending that the nice guy is finally gonna get the girl and live happily ever after, he opens the door to the kitchen and sees his beloved Karen… making out with Rick the Dick! All I gotta say to that is... WHAT THE FUCK, MOVIE?!
If this isn’t the biggest bag-over-the-head blow to your balls! To think that after all that Rick did to her and after all that Gary has done for her, she still decides to take the douchebag back! Sound familiar? Sounds like today’s dating scene to me! And she has the nerve to smirk at him! (Bitch.)
And with that move, we see Karen's status elevate from the object of Gary’s desire to the damsel in distress to finally the movie’s real villain. Just like real life!
And so Gary leaves the party, taking Karen’s gift with him and the credits roll as he drives home crying. Now the way I see it, I came up with a couple of possible scenarios as to how this movie might actually end. First up, after he is done crying, Gary could go back to the party and beat the shit out of Rick and hope that convinces Karen that he is a real man and not a pushover. Second scenario: Gary goes back to the party and settles for Rose. I mean she’s not that bad looking for a total geek. Just lose the pigtails and switch to contacts and she’ll be good to go. Third scenario: He’ll go his own way, go to college and hopes he runs into another girl named Karen who will actually date him. That is, if he doesn’t return the locket and get a refund.
Hey, chin up, Gary. At least you can take comfort knowing that you’ll be killed by Jason Voorhees two years later in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. And no, you don’t get any there either.
The performances are actually pretty good in this movie. It is pretty well written for a movie that starts of as a generic teen sex comedy and then throws you a curve halfway through to make the film into an Afterschool special with the abortion subplot and of course that ending. And the music is wall-to-wall 80’s music. In short, this is American Graffiti rewritten as an 80’s teen sex comedy. It contains some of the most recognizable 80’s tunes, such as the Cars’ “Shake it Up;” Devo’s “Whip It,” which plays during the dick-measuring contest (I’m serious, there is one early in the movie in which the token nerd who’s not even a main character in the movie wins); REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You;” and Journey’s “Open Arms” to name a few.
I have to admit that Golan and Globus had guts to put out a movie with a very realistic ending that a lot of guys (especially in today’s screwed-up dating society) can relate to and for that they should be commended. On the other hand, if they think this lets them off the hook for Superman IV, they are sorely mistaken.
And there has been some talk about remaking this movie as far back as 2011 where Brett Ratner said that he wanted to direct a remake of this movie and I will post a link to that article in the description box below but I wouldn’t trust this movie to a director who’s only had two good movies his whole career: The first Rush Hour movie and Red Dragon. If anyone was to do a remake, give it to Judd Apatow. After all, he’s no stranger to movies about male virgins.
So in short, The Last American Virgin is a pretty good movie that clearly has to be seen especially since people can relate to this film primarily because it describes today’s dating culture. In fact, I think this movie predicted today’s dating culture. If you like 80’s nostalgia or if you do want to see a movie that does not have the stereotypical Hollywood ending, then this movie is for you. If you can find it on DVD or on Netflix, you’ve got to see it. It is clearly not to be missed.
Link to Brett Ratner on remaking Last American Virgin: http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/brett-ratner-says-hes-remaking-the-last-american-virgin

Friday, February 3, 2017

Deadpool




Let’s get on with this movie review and as you may have guessed by now, it will be a review of the comic book movie that has taken the world by storm and no it’s not Batman vs. Superman nor is it Captain America: Civil War. In a word, it’s Deadpool.
As you all know Deadpool, who also has the nickname “Merc with a Mouth” is a mercenary character who not only kills people but he also employs his bizarre sense of humor and he is perhaps one of the most self-aware characters in the history of fictional characters because he breaks the fourth wall a lot. So basically he’s either an R-rated version of Spider-Man or the Eminem of superheroes. I haven’t read Deadpool comic books but I knew of Deadpool prior to this movie. Hell I knew of him prior to his appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and I agree with you that X-Men Origins is actually unwatchable save for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and of course they got Deadpool completely wrong by turning him into this monster who has his mouth sewn shut which is not how Deadpool is supposed to be. And ironically Deadpool was played by Ryan Reynolds in that movie.
However, since Ryan Reynolds is a fan of Deadpool and like everyone else he was not happy with how Deadpool turned out in Origins and for years (not to mention doing another bad comic book movie) he set out to do a Deadpool solo movie and hopefully do the character right. Well, thanks in part to a phenomenal marketing campaign that involved social media, he succeeded.
And not only is it a win for Reynolds, it’s also a win for Fox Studios who own the rights to the X-Men franchise as well as the Fantastic Four but after the last Fantastic Four movie you might as well call them the “Shittastic Four” and you might as well just give up on Fantastic Four because the Fantastic Four are not interesting enough characters to carry a movie franchise. I highly doubt that even Marvel can do anything with them. And as far as the X-Men franchise goes it’s been hit or miss. Sure they’ve been commercially successful but box office success does not always equal quality. Prior to Deadpool I have seen only three X-Men movies in theaters: The first two X-Men movies and The Wolverine, which was far superior to X-Men Origins.
So without further ado, here is the review for Deadpool.
Most of what happens in the movie you already saw in the trailers such as Deadpool riding in the cab playing with the window and climbing through the cabbie’s window to chat with the cab driver. Then of course there’s the classic scene on the freeway where Deadpool is sitting on an overpass drawing a picture of him killing someone while listening to Salt-n-Pepa’s Shoop before jumping down into the passing vehicles where we get the freeway fight scenes which you also saw in the trailers so again it’s hardly a spoiler.
However, the movie pulls a Chris Nolan as Deadpool narrates how he came to be Deadpool such as how he (by the way his real name is Wade Wilson and he’s an ex-Special Forces operative who moonlights as a mercenary) met the love of his life, a stripper named Vanessa (played by Morena Baccharin who is no stranger to comic book entertainment because she appears on the Batman prequel series Gotham.) And during the course of the relationship, Wade finds out he has cancer and he ends up taking a deal from a guy who looks like Agent Smith from the Matrix movies (in fact Wade even calls the guy Agent Smith in the movie) and he ends up in a secret laboratory where he undergoes a treatment program that is supposed to not only make him cancer-free but gives him superhuman abilities, including accelerated healing. However, the doctor that experiments on him is a guy named Ajax (real name: Francis) who looks like Tom Hardy’s character from Star Trek: Nemesis who delights in torturing Wade and finally putting him in a machine that ends up horribly disfiguring him.
What ensues is the lab being destroyed but Wade survives and he sets out to get revenge on everyone involved with the lab. In turn he starts calling himself Deadpool and he starts killing everyone (one of the funniest sequences involves Deadpool trying to mow down a wounded guy with a Zamboni.) During the movie, Deadpool is aided by Colossus from the X-Men and a teenage girl called Negasonic Teenage Warhead who has the ability to turn into a powerful raging fireball (as Gina Carano finds out the hard way.) “Boy, I’d hate to be guy that pressures her into prom sex.”
Without going any further (since the movie’s still in theaters) as far as performances go, it’s safe to say that Ryan Reynolds is officially vindicated from X-Men Origins and he completely nails it. Everyone else is pretty solid and as far as Gina Carano goes, she’s still behaving like she’s pissed that she lost the part of Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman. I also like the opening credits at the beginning where it’s basically a freeze-frame during an action sequence and they have such credits as “Some douchebag’s film”, “Starring this guy” (it also shows Ryan Reynolds’ Sexiest Man Alive issue of People magazine which also pops up again frequently throughout the movie), “a hot chick”, “a moody teen”, “a CGI character” and “Directed by a complete tool” among many others.
And before you ask viewers, yes Deadpool does poke fun at X-Men Origins as well as Green Lantern and like I said before, he even pokes fun at Ryan Reynolds himself by again having the Sexiest Man Alive magazine floating about. I also love the way that they have Ryan Reynolds emoting while wearing the Deadpool mask. And the music was chosen really well, with the predominant ones being Shoop, Angel of the Morning by Juice Newton (a song that has long been associated with Deadpool), Calendar Girl which plays during the sex scenes, Careless Whisper by Wham which plays during the end credits that includes an animated Deadpool playing a saxophone and so on.
And before you ask, yes there is a post-credits sequence so you have to stay past the end credits. I won’t give away too much but Ferris Bueller fans will definitely not want to miss it and there’ s a subliminal reference to the sequel.
So in short, Deadpool is hilarious. As far as I’m concerned. It’s the best X-Men related movie I’ve seen. There’s a lot to like about this movie and it’s a comic book movie for grown-ups. Don’t bring the kids even though little Jimmy will very likely find a way to sneak into the movie.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Top 5 Best Movies of 2016


It's that time of year already. The year where I get to count down the best movies I've seen in theaters in 2016 and that includes free movies up at Herkimer College. Unfortunately, since I only saw six movies in theaters this year, this is going to be a Top 5 Best Movies of the year list and this year there were two movies that could compete for both the worst movie of the year and number 5 on my Top 5 best movies of 2016 list.

And since my number five movie had more redeemable qualities than the movie I’ve chosen as my worst movie of the year, my pick for worst movie of the year is the remake of Ghostbusters. And it’s not because they’re all women. It’s more like the fact that this movie and the people behind this movie went out of their way to insult the fan base that grew up with the first two movies and The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series, meaning that if you don’t like the movie, you’re a misogynist and if you did like it, you were paid off by Sony to say that you liked the movie, not to mention the horrible way that men are portrayed in the movie which range from incredibly stupid to (and this is also ironic in real life) antisocial losers who live in their mom’s basement and there is also the infamous scene of them shooting a ghost in the balls.

And initially, I was originally not planning to see this movie especially after finding out that they cast Melissa McCarthy as one of the Ghostbusters because I am obviously not a Melissa McCarthy fan. But then again, the only reason she was in the movie was because the movie was directed by Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy is usually a common denominator in his movies and that is why I don’t see Paul Feig movies. But then the whole backlash happened after the first trailer dropped and it became one of the most disliked trailers in YouTube history and especially after they went after Angry Video Game Nerd James Rolfe for going on YouTube and saying that he wasn’t going to review the movie and called him a misogynist for not wanting to see the movie. And his reasons for not wanting to see the movie were perfectly legitimate. For example, he said that the movie was an obvious cash grab (which it was) and that the effects are horrible (which they were.) Although I am more of a Nostalgia Critic guy, I started watching the Angry Video Game Nerd after that video and I gained a lot of respect for James Rolfe because he’s a guy who actually knows movies and he genuinely loves the Ghostbusters franchise.

But anyway, the movie came out and while it was a hit with mainstream critics, the backlash against the fans by everyone involved with the movie came back to bite them in the ass at the box office. The result was that Sony lost about 70 million dollars as a result of Ghostbusters bombing at the box office and it pretty much destroyed any chance of there being any sequels and they were talking about doing a Ghostbusters Cinematic Universe, but that’s not happening now.

I didn’t go to see it during its theatrical run and I was content with that until September when I found out that Herkimer College was getting it as part of its free movie program for the fall semester so I was like yeah, I get another shot at the movie and I don’t have to give Paul Feig or Sony my money either. So, it’s a fair deal.

So, I did see it and I hated it. Again, not because they’re all women but because it was a genuinely bad movie with bad writing, bad Scooby-Doo-style visual effects for the ghosts, and again their whole horrible depiction of the male characters. It certainly didn’t deserve the 72 percent it got on Rotten Tomatoes.

And on a more personal note, when I very briefly reviewed the movie for my Halloween vlog back in October I said that I would be more content with never seeing the movie again because I would not recommend getting this movie on DVD or even renting it. But then my nephews had to go and buy it and I remember many a sleepless night listening to it. But anyway, I got my older nephew Ghostbusters II on DVD and even Ghostbusters II, imperfect as it is, is still true Ghostbusters. But as far as I go, if I want to see Ghostbusters, I will stick with the first two.

And PS: We didn’t get no Ecto-Cooler in Herkimer, although we did get Crystal Pepsi.

So now that brings me to my top 5 movies of the year and like I said my number five movie is a movie I was genuinely let down by, especially since it was a movie I was looking forward to going into this year but the only reason this movie isn’t the worst movie of the year is because it had redeemable qualities. 


So anyway, my number five movie is Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And you may recall in my debut podcast that I, along with many others who have been waiting for this movie for decades, was in fact very disappointed in this movie when I saw it in theaters almost ten months ago. 

For one thing, it’s a very slow movie especially for a comic book movie that’s supposed to have a lot of action in it. And some of the points I brought up in my review in the first podcast I’ll just sum up for you here. What I didn’t like about the movie was Superman’s story arc; the first hour or so being nothing more than political bullshit; Jesse Eisenberg’s girly man Lex Luthor; the supporting cast of Man of Steel being virtually useless to the story; and the fact that Zack Snyder shoehorned Doomsday and the whole Death of Superman storyline into an already crowded movie. However, what was good about it was of course Batfleck’s whole arc and how Batman is actually an older and darker character who straight up murders and tortures criminals which doesn’t sit well with Supes. However, when the two finally go at it, it only takes up about ten minutes of screen time and it’s a bit underwhelming, especially for a match-up that’s been in development hell for over two decades. And of course, the other good thing about the movie was Wonder Woman mainly because this movie marks her first-ever live action appearance on the big screen. Up until now the only live-action incarnations of Wonder Woman had only been on television, most notably the Lynda Carter series from the 70’s. And of all the times I’ve been going to movies, I have heard audiences cheer two different times: The first time was when Hulk smashed Loki around like a rag doll in the first Avengers movie in 2012 and the other time was when Wonder Woman appears during the battle with Doomsday.

However, unlike Ghostbusters, the negative reception actually worked for Batman vs. Superman rather than against it. Same rules apply for Suicide Squad even though I still haven’t seen it. Of course, like I said in the review, DC still has a long way to go if they even want to be on the same level as the Marvel movies. Who knows, maybe Wonder Woman will change that when her solo movie finally comes out in June. But if you don’t want to wait until Ben Affleck releases his solo Batman movie (and it has been confirmed that it is happening) there’s The LEGO Batman Movie coming out next month and that looks pretty good, especially since LEGO Batman was the best part of The LEGO Movie. Who knows? Maybe Justice League will be good, but since that’s also being directed by Zack Snyder, I hope you will forgive me if I’m not jumping for joy.


My number four movie of the year is Rogue One. Now I know what you’re thinking: Why is a Star Wars movie number three? Well, granted that Force Awakens was number one last year (mainly because it was the only movie I saw in theaters last year) it would seem biased of me to put it up there solely because it’s a Star Wars movie. But seriously, it’s not that I don’t like the movie. I do. In fact, it’s the one true prequel to the original trilogy. But it’s not without its flaws which unlike the prequels are minor. But probably the deciding factor for me was the fact that I wasn’t really all that invested in the lead actors. But for all its flaws, Rogue One more than makes up for it with a very strong supporting cast, the very long-awaited return of Darth Vader being a badass, the really gorgeous locations, the more realistic tone of the movie and probably the best space battle since Return of the Jedi. I won’t really get into this too much since it’s still in theaters but if you want to hear more, I recommend listening to my podcast review of it. Otherwise, I do recommend seeing this in theaters. Check it out while you can.

Now moving on to number 3 which is Star Trek Beyond and this was actually a good movie. I am a bit bummed out that it didn’t do well, especially since Anton Yelchin who plays Chekov died in a freak accident a month before the movie hit theaters. But like I said, a lot of why this movie didn’t do well was probably because of the ongoing legal battle between CBS and the fan-based Internet productions, most notably Axanar even after both JJ Abrams and Fast and Furious director Justin Lin (who directed this movie) stepped in to settle the dispute. Legal problems aside, this movie actually brought the feel of the original series back to Star Trek, especially after the last one felt like a rip-off of Wrath of Khan and a lot of that is attributed to Simon Pegg (who plays Scotty in these movies and is a die-hard fan of the original series.) Sure, we see the Enterprise destroyed for the umpteenth gagillionith time, but we get to see more character development, most notably between Spock and Bones which was actually a staple of the original series and movies that was missing in the first two reboot films. It was also great that they decided to honor Leonard Nimoy after his death in 2015. And as far as the Chekov thing goes, it was pretty smart of JJ Abrams to say that he is not planning to recast Chekov for future movies which is the way to go. And I do hope they make another one of these movies.

My number 2 is Captain America: Civil War. Like Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes through once again with this action-packed epic battle between Captain America and Iron Man. In short, this movie is Batman vs. Superman done right. In fact, one of the things I said about this movie was “Give Batman and Superman back to Marvel,” mainly because Marvel knows what the hell they’re doing with their characters and their movies. They know how to combine action and humor into their movies not to mention that their characters are fleshed out better. In a way, this felt more like Avengers 3 than Captain America 3 because it has two groups of Avengers fighting each other with some of the newer characters fighting on Team Iron Man including Black Panther and finally introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time, Spider-Man now played by Tom Holland. And he was easily the best character in the movie. Again the Winter Soldier takes center stage just like in the previous film The Winter Soldier which is basically Marvel’s version of The Dark Knight in terms of tone and style. But there’s still enough humor in it to keep it from getting totally dark.

And I am looking forward to more from the Marvel Universe, especially Spider-Man: Homecoming which comes out Fourth of July weekend and also Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 which comes out in May. You see, DC. This is how you make a superhero movie franchise.

And now we’re up to the big moment. We know it’s not a Star Wars movie that’s number one and it’s not a Marvel movie (even though it is based on a Marvel character) that’s number one. And I guess you pretty much knew that this was coming that I would announce this as my number one, especially since it’s on a lot of people’s number one lists this year and while there was buzz that it could get major Oscar buzz but unfortunately it was shut out. But all is not lost because it's the best movie on this list. So without further ado, my number one movie is … Deadpool.

What can I say? This is definitely one of the best comic book movie I’ve ever seen and it’s also one of the most well put-together movies I’ve ever seen. This film not only did the character justice after the horrible travesty of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but it also manages to poke fun at not only the X-Men Origins Deadpool, but also pokes fun at Green Lantern which was Ryan Reynolds’ other failed attempt at a superhero movie and even pokes fun at Ryan Reynolds himself. And of course, that’s all in character for this movie because Deadpool is famous for breaking the fourth wall. And the movie had probably the best marketing campaign of any movie I’ve ever seen. It also proved that an R-rated comic book movie can be successful for better or worse. Then again, the R-rating didn’t seem to help the animated adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke. But then again, I shouldn’t really count that because it was originally supposed to be released to DVD. But we’ll see how Logan does when that gets released with an R-rating in March. 

In fact, there was a campaign going around to get Deadpool an Oscar nomination for Best Picture which means that if it happened it could finally be the first comic book movie to win the award for Best Picture since the Academy expanded their choices from five to ten in 2010 in the wake of The Dark Knight being snubbed for the award in 2009 despite getting a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the late Heath Ledger for his portrayal of the Joker. Unfortunately, like I said Deadpool got shut out nomination-wise. But I still hope Ryan Reynolds goes to the Oscars dressed up as Deadpool. That costume they made for the movie is awesome! I like how they managed to get the mask to emote which I’m guessing helped Marvel out when they were designing their Spider-Man costume for Civil War.

And more Deadpool is on the horizon with Deadpool 2 being directed by the same man who directed John Wick and to that I say “Whoa.” In Keanu Reeves' voice, of course. And just think if that movie is well-received both critically and commercially and it too wins an Oscar for Best Picture it will definitely match the first two Godfather movies. But then again, it’s wishful thinking to even mention Deadpool in the same breath as The Godfather. But either way, Deadpool is here to stay.


And that wraps up my Top 5 Movies of 2016. I guess I better stock up on movie passes because 2017 will be a pretty busy year. We got LEGO Batman. We got Logan. We got The Fate of the Furious (aka Fast and Furious 8.) We got Guardians 2. We got Wonder Woman. We got Power Rangers. We got Spider-Man: Homecoming. We got Thor: Ragnarok. We got Justice League. And the icing on the cake, Star Wars: Episode 8, now officially known as The Last Jedi. And with all those movies, I know one movie I won’t be watching: Fifty Shades Darker!  But at the same time, I will also be showing some things already on DVD. So this should be a good year. And next year, hopefully I will be able to expand this into a Top 10 list.