Hype for Homecoming: Spider-Man 3

Part 3 of 5: Jazz hands and tears

[WARNING: Posts of this nature aren’t traditional “reviews”. Expect the following: spoilers, potentially mindless ramblings, lack of proper sentence structure, and profane language. There is a summary section at the end of the bullet points that you can skip to for convenience.]

*Inhales*….”Spider-Man 3″…is…a movie that exists. I’m going to try to get through this keeping as much sanity as I can, but this movie essentially boils down to being way too scattered and it just ends up feeling like butter spread out over too much bread. Look, I don’t think this movie is one of the atrociously bad comic-book movies of the 2000’s. Even if you look at the other two that came out in 2007, its “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and “Ghost Rider”…yeah, those were way worse. What I DO think is that this is the first example of a comic-book movie having insane hype, but tries to do way too much and falls flat on its face…regardless of if these were decisions by Sony or some other external factor interfering with Raimi’s work, OR if it was just a huge goof by Raimi himself. I actually discussed this in a previous post you can find here where I name the phenomenon after THIS movie…and for good reason. In any case…*sigh* here we go.

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Oh sure, SPIDER-MAN’S ARCH-NEMESIS FROM THE COMICS, show up in the last 30 minutes of the movie! GENIUS.
  • Okay the first act of this movie actually feels like a Raimi Spider-Man movie, we establish where our characters are, there’s a few nice moments between them, we get a fight between Peter and Harry (as the new Green Goblin), and it actually feels like the movie has gracefully taken off…and then we get to the “Harry memory loss” subplot and you kinda start to think “well…what now?” TWO OTHER VILLAINS, A LIFETIME DRAMA, AND BAD DANCING, THATS WHAT!
  • The whole idea to put Sandman in this movie actually sums up how I feel about this movie. Its a weird mix of moments that worked, stuff that made no sense, and stuff that made me think that ANYONE in the writer’s room could’ve pointed out a way to do it better. EXAMPLE: Scene where Sandman is materializing and trying to grab his daughter’s locket? Works for me, good moment supplemented by the score. Making Sandman aka Flint Marko be the “real” Uncle Ben’s murderer? Makes no sense when you put that sub-plot to bed a LONG time ago…why go back to alter the turning point of the first movie? Scene where these scientists conduct the experiment anyway thinking “the change in the mass is just a bird that will fly away”?…a screenwriting intern could’ve spoken out against this. What. The. Fuck. EVEN I KNOW that is a GIANT no-no in any laboratory/test of ANY kind.
  • Why…DEAR GOD WHY…does Peter decide to kiss Gwen in front of MJ? Yes, it makes sense for him to get a little cocky, but what the hell were the writers thinking making Spidey SO OUT OF CHARACTER here? The entire MJ drama and eventual love-triangle with Harry just blows and seems so out of place, if you ask me that’s what brings this movie down the most. A lot of other things are forced too, but this made the LEAST amount of sense.
  • Let’s talk about the Symbiote. I don’t think including it in the movie was a bad call itself, but the way it was handled just seemed choppy. Probably due to the conflicting sub-plots and having to find a way to jam this piece of the puzzle in to a space that doesn’t exactly fit? I mean even if you just had Harry be the villain, yeah you could fit the Symbiote in…and the scenes with Black-suit Spider-Man are cool…but, again…too much, too scattered, blaahh.
  • In a series with such great casting…Topher Grace’s casting as Eddie Brock is just the fucking worst. The only reason I’m okay with a standalone Venom reboot is because I can forget about this version….unless Sony fucks the new one up too.
  • I just finished the part where Harry’s manipulation of Peter and MJ’s relationship is done and he tells Peter “I’m the other guy” (WHO THOUGHT THIS SUBPLOT WAS A GOOD IDEA??). Aside from Harry suddenly becoming Batman and vanishing in to thin air, I’m gonna just end this with a bullet each for what was cool and what pissed me off.
  • What I liked: The suit-less fight between Harry and Peter is really cool…and has some real tension. Would’ve been cooler if Peter didn’t decide to be emo and look like the lead singer of a punk band; Peter ripping off the symbiote in the church is a well-done scene; Spidey teaming up with Goblin Jr. to fight Sandman and Venom is dope, nice to see superheroes team up in the pre-avengers era.
  • What sucked: Jazz choreography…dear LORD this entire part at the Jazz club just didn’t need to happen. You mean to tell me there was NO OTHER WAY Peter could hurt MJ and realize what he’s become? Anyone?; Fucking BUTLER-EX-MACHINA finally telling Harry that his dad was a psycho that killed himself. How did the Butler even know what Harry was going through? Just because Norman died by his own glider doesn’t exactly prove much…I mean someone else could’ve still done that to him. Why wouldn’t the Butler have just told Harry that in the first place? These guys are rich as fuck, did NO ONE perform an autopsy to see exactly how he died? 2.5 movies worth of Harry growing to hate Peter is undone by ONE piece of exposition from his BUTLER??; Wait so now NO ONE killed Uncle Ben? I seriously don’t know why they did this, “random robber” is SO MUCH EASIER than this entire ordeal with Flint…ugh.
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ALL OF MY TEARS.

Look, I don’t HATE “Spider-Man 3”. Obviously, it has its problems that seemed really avoidable..like if someone told you there’s a brick wall in front of you, you clearly see it, but you bump in to it lightly anyway. When you actually figure out what’s going on (which takes multiple watches) and forgive the stupidity, you can at least enjoy the movie. Despite things that made less sense, AT LEAST characters still had motives and I understood why they were doing things..which is more than I’ll be able to say for the next two parts in my Spidey series. For a movie that at least tried to give us something, but gave us other things are unforgivable…I’m giving “Spider-Man 3” a 6/10. 

Alright, this concludes the reign of Tobey McGuire as Spider-Man…and no matter what happens with the character, I would like to just thank him for being MY Spider-Man..and he always will be. Come back next time because now we’re moving on to the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man and that’s…well…it’ll be fun for you, not for me.

 

 

Hype for Homecoming: Spider-man 2

Part 2 of 5: “The power of the sun…in the palm of my hands.”

[WARNING: Posts of this nature aren’t traditional “reviews”. Expect the following: spoilers, potentially mindless ramblings, lack of proper sentence structure, and profane language. There is a summary section at the end of the bullet points that you can skip to for convenience.]

“Spider-Man 2” is the second movie in Sam Raimi’s spider-man trilogy and stars the same cast from last time, with the addition of Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius. This movie always held a special place in my heart because its opening day was near my 10th birthday, and OBVIOUSLY I had a spider-man themed party that ended up being the best birthday of my childhood…mostly because of the movie. Out of all the movies in the “Hype for Homecoming” series, this is the one I’m most looking forward to because I always remembered this and “X2” being the first comic book movies where everyone went “whoa…wait…these things can actually be as compelling as real films?”. Needless to say, time to re-watch “Spider-Man 2”!

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JK Simmons, you’re a gift to all mankind.
  • Jeez, right away we get insight into where our main character is at and WAIT WTF, THERE’S A DR. CURT CONNORS IN THIS? AKA THE LIZARD? YEAH, ITS TOTALLY HIM WITH THE MISSING ARM AND ALL! Wow, thanks for the comic fanservice, Sam Raimi!
  • Okay, I remember right off the bat why this movie cuts so deep….Peter’s life is TOTAL SHIT right now. He’s broke, his Aunt is in a bad situation and he can’t help, he’s failing classes, he’s losing MJ, Harry still has a grudge against Spider-man, etc. Peter Parker is the average millennial, AM I RIGHT GUYS?? Hahahahaahahahahahelpmehahahahah.
  • In all seriousness, Tobey McGuire really proves here that he’s the perfect old-school Peter Parker. What’s important here is we start to see Peter doubting if his powers are a gift or a curse, and Tobey portrays that really well through certain acting choices. The scene where his webs go out for the first time would be a good example of this…but also go watch the elevator scene right after hahahaha.
  • Its so refreshing when actors can play characters with dualities in their lives…Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius AND (later) Doc Ock is just so spectacular. Anyway, of course the experiment goes horribly wrong cuz the movie has to happen, but what’s interesting here is that we get to see both Otto AND Harry immediately lose everything (with some cheesy dialogue from James Franco to fill us in) and while Harry’s fall from grace is going to be a lot slower, Otto’s…well…
  • This hospital scene with just Ock’s arms going murder-crazy on these doctors was so unique to what comic-book movies were for a whole decade…heck, it’s even boggling to watch it in 2017. Raimi picked the best possible way to demonstrate what this character is going through instead of making him a generic villain that Spidey has to overcome. Even with his villains, Raimi creates a character here that the audience is invested in, and makes it very clear that Otto is acting against his own will.
  • Jonah: What are we gonna call this guy?
    Editor:…Doctor Strange!
    Jonah: Wait, that’s good….but its taken
    LOLOLOLOL HOLY SHIT
  • Alright, its time for the bank scene! This sce- WAIT WTF IS THAT JOEL MCHALE?? THIS IS WHAT HE WAS DOING BEFORE “COMMUNITY”?? HOLY HELL JEFF WINGER IS IN A SPIDER-MAN MOVIE. I gotta watch 2000’s movies more often…
  • Okay seriously, bank scene. First major sequence between Doc Ock and Spidey and…well…its good. Idk what else to even say about this and the rest of the movie, my “english as a second language” ass is running out of adjectives and this movie is just really good lol. Seriously, go youtube this scene or something, its damn well directed action…..aaaand Peter’s life is shitty again, and now we get to the “I’m not Spider-man anymore” part of the movie
  • When I was younger, I thought all of this was useless but now I realize this is, once again, Raimi using his directing style to set this apart from other comic-book movies of its time. I DO think we could’ve had something other than a burning building be what motivates Peter to be Spiderman again but oh well.
  • So now we’re in the last act of the movie where Harry tells Otto to bring Spider-Man to him, Peter and MJ have more drama, We get the famed train scene (holy shit I love this movie), and Harry finds out that his biggest enemy is actually his best friend…GASP. I could keep prattling on, but then this post would get too long so I’m just going to skip to the summary and try to hit it all there.
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What I look like the night after drinking and a late-night Al Pastor Burrito.

Remember what I said about the previous movie in my last post? What “Spider-Man 2” did was improve on the stuff I liked and cut out a lot of the stuff I didn’t…that’s basically it. This movie takes time to develop its characters even more, in fact I genuinely think you could sit down with “Spider-Man 2” first without even watching the first one and not be lost because this movie takes its time to tell its character’s stories. Its the little moments that Raimi gives attention to that really works, and admittedly the overarching plot becomes a little simple because of it. But hey…like I’ve mentioned before, characters are the most important part of any film for me. With that being said, “Spider-Man 2” gets a 9/10.

Hope you enjoyed how simple and happy this was…because its aaallll downhill from here..tune in next time for…*sigh*…”Spider-Man 3″.

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Until they reboot and cast Andrew Garfield, that is. #RIP

Hype for Homecoming: Spider-man

Part 1 of 5: “Booooone-Saaaaw is reaadyyyy!!!”

Welcome to the first post of my “Hype for Homecoming” series! As of this going live, we are officially just 4 weeks away from the release of “Spider-man: Homecoming”, with Tom Holland reprising his role from “Captain America: Civil War” as everyone’s favorite web-slinger.

To give a background of what Spider-man means to me…well…I was a nerdy kid that got picked on relentlessly at school…so you tell me who I looked up to. Yes, I’ve said multiple times that I watched the DC animated universe quite a bit as a kid, but really if I had to point to my childhood hero, it’d be Spidey. There’s always a soft spot in my heart for the web-head and even though I’ve grown up and have other heroes now, it doesn’t change the fact that Spidey is the Marvel poster-boy and that the first Spider-man movies, directed by Sam Raimi, were some of the few to set the stage for Comic Book Movies to take Hollywood by storm. Granted, we had to sit through a bunch of other “imitators” that ended up creating the trope of comic book movies being atrocious for most of the 2000’s…but I’m glad we’re past that now and its nice to look back and see some of the pre-MCU/DCEU original “Universes” (hell, Fox has been doing it since 2000 with the X-men, even though they don’t have as solid of a slate and flow when it comes to universe-building). So, without further ado, here’s my notes on Spider-man (2002)!

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Slide into those DMs like…

[WARNING: Posts of this nature aren’t traditional “reviews”. Expect the following: spoilers, potentially mindless ramblings, lack of proper sentence structure, and profane language. There is a summary section at the end of the bullet points that you can skip to for convenience.]

  • Holy hell, NO ONE looks like they’re in high school…thankfully they actually casted teenagers in Homecoming, but JEEZ I forgot how odd this looks. Anyway, we’re introduced to Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and WAIT WTF, IS THAT JOHN MANGANIELLO PLAYING FLASH THOMPSON? LIKE, THE GUY PLAYING DEATHSTROKE IN AFFLECK’S BATMAN MOVIE? Sorry, got distracted. We get a scene with the Osborns aka Norman (Willem Dafoe) and Harry (James Franco) and already we see some tension here with Peter getting shit from kids at school (high schoolers are dicks, just saying) and Harry getting shit from his father, so it makes sense why the two are such good friends to our audiences who’ve never read a spiderman comic.
  • So now we’re in the museum because the class is on a field trip, and we get some juicy exposition on what spiders can do (and eventually what Peter will be able to do) and some nice little development between Peter, MJ, and Harry when OUCH, radioactive spider-bite!
  • Remember the cliches of sci-fi/superhero movies from the 2000’s? So Norman is testing a super-soldier serum (check) but his board and the military aren’t thrilled about the results so far (check), so he’s given an arbitrary deadline (check) for human testing but since he’s running out of time and funding, he’s going to test it on himself (checkarooni) and eventually become a threat to himself and others (Check, check, check). I will say that I love Willem Dafoe and his freaky looking face for the role of Norman/Green Goblin, and I think he demonstrates it well when Harry finds him passed out on the floor, just some subtle acting choices you notice here and there.
  • So Peter wakes up after being bitten and spends the entire day finding out he has weird ass spider powers…which I feel like should’ve been a bigger deal when he had a literal web coming out of his arm and punched the biggest guy in school after doing a back-flip…must be New York public school system, I guess?
  • Dear Lord I forgot how much time they actually spend on these characters and how awesome it is. This is really just a theme for the entire movie…same with the casting, its all so good.
  • Uncle Ben, I love you. This scene with Peter being a total dick to his Uncle caring about him…they get this SO RIGHT.
  • Ahahaah I could never forget that Macho Man Randy Savage is in thi-WAIT WTF IS THAT OCTAVIA SPENCER? LIKE…FROM HIDDEN FIGURES? DAMN…WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. Anyway,  as dumb as this scene is, its kinda cool to see Peter learn how to fight and gain some confidence against a professional wrestler, of all people.
  • This confidence turns into cockiness and Peter ignores his Uncle’s advice…and in turn, we get the first truly emotional scene in this movie with Uncle Ben’s death and Peter getting his petty revenge…and with this plus the graduation scene, In my opinion, the first act is over and now we get to Peter adjusting to his new life as Spider-Man. Also, side-note: This score by Danny Elfman…wow.
  • JK Simmons…its going to take me a long time to adjust to you being Commissioner Gordon…cuz this guy is ALWAYS going to be J. Jonah Jameson to me. This is PERFECT Casting in a movie that’s already casted so well. “No Job! Freelance!”…oh look, Peter Parker is a millenial like the rest of us hahahahahahasaveushahaha.
  • So now we get this sequence at the World Unity festival and it gets….a little corny. At the risk of sounding like a douche, this is definitely 2002 CGI…and wtf is this goblin-bomb that immediately turns the Oscorp Board into skeletons? But other than that its pretty satisfying to have our first real Spidey vs Goblin battle which ends with him saving MJ and winning the day. He even saves a kid, which is textbook Spider-man and I love it…its the little things with characters like Spidey.
  • Willem Dafoe’s scene where he talks to himself in the mirror just settles it, this guy would’ve been the best comic movie villain of the 2000’s if it wasn’t for Heath Ledger’s Joker. I’d honestly be okay if they never touched Green Goblin again…but of course they will.
  • I skipped a bunch so I don’t get redundant, but this end fight between Goblin and Spidey…holy shit Spidey gets his ASS KICKED. I actually like it, it always irked me when a Superhero suddenly had mastery of their powers within a few minutes of screen-time. This is such an emotionally driven fight and these actors are really conveying that..and by the end you actually feel kinda BAD for how Norman dies because there’s a small hint of him still left as soon as he gets stabbed by the glider (because he was faking before…I think) and I didn’t realize how GOOD of a set-up this was for Harry going crazy in the next two movies. Character development, y’all…its my favorite part of any movie.
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Okay, I laughed.

During this re-watch, I realized that this movie didn’t age as well with cinematography, but it more than makes up for it with story and characters. Despite it being a little cheesy, I do admire how much heart the direction and acting had to make the overall product something unique for its time. It feels surprisingly real, and I think that’s why this movie broke box office records in 2002. “Spider-man” is a fantastic origin story for an extremely lovable character, and leaves audiences moved, charmed, and wanting to see more..and they accomplished this without jerking themselves off and setting up a universe (hold on to that, seriously…because I promise you its going to come up again in this series). Tune in next week for the next part of the series, aka one of my favorite movies ever! As for this part, “Spider-man” gets a 8/10

Movie Review – Wonder Woman

My attempt at the theme Hans Zimmer did: DANANA NA NA NANANA NANA NANANA NANA NAAAAAAAA

[THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS OF MAJOR PLOT DETAILS IN THIS REVIEW]

“Wonder Woman” is the fourth movie in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and it stars Gal Gadot as Princess Diana of Themyscira. The film is directed by Patty Jenkins and also features Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, and Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta.

The best part of walking away from this movie was the sense of wonder (ha) that I felt as a DC fan and someone who wants to see Hollywood reflect diversity. Almost everything about this movie worked so well for me, and I’m incredibly happy to announce that “Wonder Woman” is the first great DC movie I’ve seen since I was in high school. I love the MCU and what they’ve been doing, and my only wish was that my DC characters would get the same treatment. In this movie, they accomplished this thanks to great direction, character moments, acting, and well shot sequences.

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If you didn’t already know, this movie takes place in World War I, similar to “Captain America: The First Avenger” taking place in WW2. Diana receives a photo from Bruce (the same one he discovered in “Batman v Superman”…the one found on…*long sigh*…Lex Luthor’s drive…ugh, that movie) and the entire movie becomes a flashback that Diana is having about her first time experiencing our world. I actually liked this little detail because it helps the DCEU do some universe-building to see the Wayne Enterprises logo and a friendship between Bruce and Diana. Unfortunately, we do get somewhat of a slow start, but it was a slow start that felt necessary as the story progressed. Anyway, on to the rest of the movie!

There are three major action sequences in this movie, and 2 of them made my jaw drop. The first is on Themyscira itself, where Steve Trevor lands on the beach and brings a bunch of angry Germans with him. Not only does every shot of Paradise Island look amazing…but this fight on the beach was fantastic and emotions ran high between the characters. The third sequence, I’ll admit, got a little too CGI heavy and reminiscent of the Doomsday fight in “BvS”. The only reason I was invested in it was because I cared about the characters (more on that later). However…the second big action sequence in this movie…I was speechless. This takes place in the trenches and Diana decides it’d be a great idea to charge in by herself on to No Man’s Land. Every single shot and all the action in this scene…I still don’t know how to put it into words. This is on par with the Airport scene in “Civil War” or the warehouse scene in “BvS”. Not only was the action amazing, but you saw the character’s personality shine through her fighting methods. This is the first major fight Diana has been in, and you really get to see that through her confidence, bravery, and use of every weapon in her arsenal. Even the way she looks at the German soldiers right before pummeling them makes me think “yep, that’s Wonder Woman”, which brings me to my next point.

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Because I’m 22 and was a kid when the DC animated universe was big, my bar for the DCEU has always been to compare it to that. Because of this, Affleck WAS Batman to me…everything he said and did just screamed “Batman: The Animated Series” or “Justice League” to me. This is the exact way I feel about Gadot as Wonder Woman…as in she IS Wonder Woman. The combo of Jenkins’ direction and the casting of Gadot was fantastic, as she really portrays the innocence, curiosity, and grace that Diana would have when first coming to the world of men. Pair that with Chris Pine’s portrayal of Steve Trevor and you have sparks flying off of the screen. What made the movie for me were these little moments we had with the two, both being fish out of water in each other’s worlds. These moments where he teaches her how to dance, where Steve gets hit with the lasso of truth, where Diana tries ice cream for the first time (straight from the New 52, I love it) are just so refreshing. I’m glad to see more and more superhero movies doing this, because we watch these movies for the characters, and we need to see these little moments that humanize such heroic characters like Wonder Woman.

Aside from the actors capturing the feelings of these characters in each scenario, Diana (and in turn, the audience) gets a realistic view of how horrible World War I was. If you’re not a history nerd, World War I was especially gruesome because its when warfare started to “modernize” and use chemical weaponry and weapons that could simply kill a huge amount of people in one sitting. Diana gets to see things like this and the horror on everyone’s faces, and the fact that so much blind hate can exist among men. I’m actually glad they used WWI because we don’t see much of it in film these days and people forget just how insane it was.

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Despite my praise for this movie, I think it did falter a little in the third act. Think of a majestic swan that takes off slowly, flies gracefully for a long time, but then trips just a little bit on the landing before sticking it….that’s the best way I can describe it without spoiling anything. Despite this, I’ve mentioned before that the messy third act didn’t ruin the fact that I was already so immersed, because we still get amazing character moments. Alas, like many comic book movies nowadays, the villain wasn’t really anything special and seemed a little disposable. It was cool to see some things that I never thought I’d see as a comic fan on the big screen, but I still felt a little bummed about the lack of impact this villain is going to have in the overall DCEU. Additionally, the writing sometimes goes for low hanging fruit when it comes to some of the humor and lines, although not as much as previous titles in the DCEU (what is this, some kind of…stab at “Suicide Squad”?). Regardless, the movie ends well and I was overjoyed to see that critics and audiences both loved it.

Not to sound too optimistic, but “Wonder Woman” will light a fire in Hollywood and I hope it becomes clear that audiences want more blockbuster movies to be like this, be it because of the female lead, the character moments, or whatever else charmed you during this film. Gadot brings justice (ha) to a beloved DC character and regardless of if you’re a DC fanboy/girl or just love fun movies, I highly recommend seeing this movie in theaters.

Wonder Woman gets an 8.5/10

Guest Post – Prometheus: A Study in Villainy

Always 10 steps ahead.

This piece is written by my good friend Uday, and I’m thrilled to have him contribute the first guest post on Soggz Blogs! Uday Mehta is an engineer, columnist, podcaster, and aspiring author. He writes for ‘Eudaymonia’, hosts ‘Coming Soon’, and in his spare time works with radioactive waste management at Lawrence Livermore National Lab. He has a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering from UC Berkeley. Be sure to check out Uday’s podcast over at this link! A familiar name may or may not be appearing on it soon…
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A show like Arrow is fundamentally designed for different audiences than any other show on television – coming before its Arrowverse counterparts, it had the luxury of picking its niche. The Flash has its roots in nerd-dom and comic book storyline that fuse with a soap opera relationship vibe. Legends of Tomorrow is a fun ensemble show where you can watch a single standalone episode and enjoy it. Supergirl is a fresh, pleasant escape.

But Arrow attempts to satisfy the most difficult demographic – the generic superhero fan. The fan that can range from a die-hard comic book consumer to a middling cinematic admirer to a casual action aficionado. These are the same group of fans that are uniquely split on the primary love story, the same ones that argued the merits of the villains while also somehow agreeing on the need for a better protagonist arc. And this season, it’s that second point of debate that turned from just that – a debate – to acclaim. after 1.5 to 2 (depending on which of those fans you ask) lackluster to mediocre seasons, the consensus is that the show has offered up a contender for its best season yet.

Prometheus – the throwing-star killer – serves as this season’s big bad, a villain that on the surface seems to hold no more or no less appeal than Ra’s Al Ghul or Damien Darhk, the respective final bosses for Seasons 3 and 4. In terms of history, he’s somewhere in the middle of Ra’s famed comic track record (including a headlining villain role in Batman Begins and an upcoming appearance in Gotham) and Damien Darhk’s relative obscurity. With respect to ability, he’s once again right in the middle, his shurikens likely more than a match for Ra’s’ fighting prowess and Darhk’s magic. But it’s not like executive producer Marc Guggenheim just struck gold with this actor or his ability – Prometheus serves as an example that when the show defines the character, it creates a far superior product than when the character defines the show.

Think of all the great villains in movie and TV history – Vader. Moriarty. The Joker. Even Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter. Throw in Loki since we need a Marvel representative (we see you sitting on that damn chair, Thanos). Every one of these characters, if written slightly differently, could have been antiheroes. But the way they are, they’re a little bit more ‘anti’ than ‘hero’ and it’s because they’ve managed to follow this archetype to a t.

Through the 23-episode gauntlet, the curtain is slowly drawn back on Prometheus. Shrouded – literally, with his scary black garb – in mystery from his first extended appearance a fifth of the way in, more is gradually revealed about him all the way through ‘til the end. He isn’t dragged out for public consumption from the beginning, a la Darth Maul, nor does he end his arc by remaining an unknown quantity. From the explanation of his name (a reference to challenging the Gods), to his literal unmasking – which the show doesn’t play around with, considering Prometheus’ identity is revealed to Arrow not too long after it’s revealed to the audience – to the final control of his own destiny, Prometheus maintains a firm grip on how the protagonist and the audience see him.

Prometheus was truly formidable, but more importantly he was consistently formidable. Damien Darhk’s totem powers were flexible dependent on the plot, and his organization H.I.V.E. would conveniently ‘go to ground’ when Team Arrow needed a few episodes to recoup. Ra’s could seemingly ‘kill’ Oliver effortlessly halfway through his season, but was killed just as easily in the finale with his weapon of choice (a sword, as opposed to Arrow’s… arrows) and hundreds of years’ more experience. It was one of the defining marks of the Jason Bourne franchise – Bourne was so much better than everybody else, and they never strayed from that. It stands in stark contrast to the Flash’s powers – where the show changes the rules to fit whatever villain they’re fighting, letting the character define the show. Prometheus was never solely a physical adversary, but one strengthened by motivation, something that can’t be said of the previous two.

Many writers make a genuine effort to make villains ‘relatable’, but end up conflating that term with ‘vulnerable’. We don’t need to see that the bad guy can be defeated until he’s actually defeated, because then he stops being bad. He goes from Agent Smith from The Matrix to Agent Smith from The Matrix: Reloaded, where they just copy him a hundred times, effectively making him faceless. While Prometheus doesn’t get a win every episode, the losses he takes avoid uncovering any true weaknesses that he’s had. The true standard of relatability is when you can see the character’s point of view and think, ‘yeah, I could go for that’ – akin to Khan from Star Trek: Into Darkness. By not overplaying the dead-father cliché, coupled with his connection to Arrow’s fundamental premise (Prometheus is to ‘You have failed this city’ as Game of Thrones’ Petyr Baelish is to the death of Jon Arryn), the show is able to cultivate relatability without making him seem like ‘just one of us’.

None of these elements had anything to do with the plot, or the character’s actions, or even his dialogue, but how he was portrayed thematically throughout. His character was developed on a level akin to that of a hero’s, perhaps more so than Oliver himself. Which was necessary, because pure, unadulterated evil is at its core somewhat boring. It’s a good thing that Prometheus – and Arrow – didn’t stoop to such a level.

Welcome back, kid.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Movie Review

I’m Mary Poppins, Y’all!

[THERE WILL BE NO MAJOR PLOT DETAILS SPOILED IN THIS REVIEW, ONLY WHAT WAS ALREADY IN THE TRAILERS]

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is the sequel to 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the 15th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It features the infamous bunch of jackasses in a very different situation than the last time we saw them. After saving Xandar from Ronan the Accuser and establishing themselves as a rag-tag team for hire, we end up learning a lot about where each of our Guardians are coming from and what they’ve dealt with beforehand. Specifically, Star Lord gets to finally meet his father and discover more about himself and what makes him special (aside from the fact that he’s Chris Pratt).

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Since I saw this movie on the red carpet in the middle of April, I’ve been thinking about this one and seeing other reactions/reviews for a while now. If you have been seeing other reactions too you might be aware that things are kind of mixed, although generally positive. What I mean is that some are saying they liked it more than the first/didn’t enjoy it as much, thought it was forced/thought it was hilarious, etc.

As for where I stand, I personally enjoyed this one more than the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” because writer/director James Gunn appealed to my love of character study and made a very thematically consistent movie. I will say that I thought the first one was a little funnier, but that doesn’t mean the jokes didn’t land for me on this one. I genuinely loved this movie…so lets get in to details!

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This movie is ALL about its characters, as all of our Guardians get a bit of an arc and some depth with each other/their backgrounds. I would say Drax was a little underdeveloped, but he more than makes up for it by stealing the show whenever he’s on screen and interacting with another Guardian, specifically Star Lord. Seriously, Dave Bautista delivers even more than he did last time and I can see him walking away as the favorite for many moviegoers…just below Baby Groot, that is. Unfortunately, talking about the development with Star Lord and his Dad would be giving away a ton so I can’t say much about it. What honestly surprised me wasn’t even the father-son relationship, it was what we get between the sisters: Gamora and Nebula. Not only is Nebula more important in this and the two actually act like feuding sisters, but we get some juicy insight to their upbringing and we find out that Thanos is…well…kind of messed up. Sure, those familiar with Marvel before the MCU already knew that, but hearing about some specifics and not having Thanos appear in the movie at all really worked in terms of establishing him for later. It somewhat reminded me of the “Godzilla” thing where you hear/see the gruesome things he can do without actually seeing him in action until much later, which i’m not usually a fan of…but in this case it was a good little detail since this guy is supposed to be this “Mad Titan” and we’ve seen him do literally nothing but sit in a chair and pick up a glove.

Something that totally came out of a left field for me was how much time the movie spends on Yondu Udonta (the blue guy who whistles from the last movie…for those who forgot). Yondu is HUGE in this movie as a character, and surprisingly makes quite a fun pair with Rocket. Michael Rooker absolutely kills it as Yondu and it was very pleasant to see him on screen. The focus on him actually helps the audience understand some of our other characters better, and I hope making Yondu more important gets better reception from audiences than the whole “Hawkeye is suddenly a big deal” thing in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”.

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My other huge reason for liking this movie a lot was because you can tell exactly what vision Gunn had in mind while writing the script. I mentioned earlier that this is thematically very strong, and the theme that Gunn keeps throughout the movie is a simple, yet important, one: Family. As cliche as it sounds, the Guardians go from being “a bunch of Jackasses” to being a real family (insert Fate of the Furious joke here) by the end of the movie. Before the movie played at the red carpet premier, Gunn specifically mentioned that he made this for his parents and that he loves them, and that really showed throughout his work…and isn’t expressing something important to you the point of creating? The fact that he was able to make that come across so well in a comic book movie only helps fans like me justify that comic movies aren’t simply shallow, formulaic popcorn-flicks.

Despite how much I loved Gunn’s direction here, I do have some negatives. Pacing issues were a little prevalent in the first and second acts. The Sovereign (the gold people in the trailers you see) might be the most bland MCU-villainous-henchmen army I’ve seen..maybe even more one-dimensional than Ultron’s robot clones. I get that they’re going to be more important later, but some of my least favorite parts of the movie were when they were on screen. Additionally, subtlety isn’t really a strong suit in the script. If the last comic book movie you saw was “Logan”, it’ll definitely feel weird being hit over the head with subtext rather than figuring it out for yourself. The soundtrack is good, but isn’t as “iconic” as the previous movie for me (my friends still break out into “Hooked on a Feeling” on road-trips)…then again, I listen to drugged-up-RnB so I might not be the best person to ask on that one. This last one is a personal complaint (because he’s kinda my hero and we share the same birthday and same height) but Stallone is very sparingly used in the movie, do not go in expecting him to interact with any other protagonists/antagonists much. Still more screen time than Jared Leto’s Joker, though.

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Lastly, thought I’d rip this band-aid off quickly: Yes, there are 5 post-credit scenes. No, none of them have anything to do with Infinity War, Spiderman, Thor, Black Panther, etc. They’re all confined to things relating to the Guardians, and there’s no set-up for any future MCU titles except the likely “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″…and even the set-up for that isn’t too obvious. These are just fun things to see after the movie and nothing more (the one with Groot had me laughing uncontrollably, so stick around for that).

To wrap this up, I really enjoyed seeing the Guardians have a stronger foundation and some solid growth. Thinking about it long term, making them more “human” and solidifying their friendship will definitely be interesting once they meet the Avengers, who are super divided right now, next year to take on Thanos. Gunn has done it again for me, taking this incredibly obscure group of D-list superheroes that maybe 0.5 in 10 people knew about beforehand…and making them awesome, hilarious, and relatable.

I’m giving “Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2” an initial Soggz Blogs rating of 9/10.

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Power Rangers – Movie Review

Hold on to your power morphers.

HEADS UP!

  • This review was “pre-gamed” in a previous post! If you’d like to read up on some juicy background and what I was looking for when I walked in the theater, click here!
  • This review contains NO major plot spoilers. Other easter-eggs and points already public on the internet before the release may be discussed. Enjoy!

“Power Rangers” is directed by Dan Israelite and is a story about 5 struggling teenagers who end up becoming armor-clad superheroes to save the world from evil. Unless you lived under a rock during your childhood, you also know that this is another big-screen reboot of an extremely popular kid’s show, and that caused many to audibly groan when they first heard this was happening.

I really don’t know what to say, guys. I genuinely didn’t expect this movie to be so…GOOD. I know the Tomatometer is rating it pretty low, but if you don’t know what the tomatometer actually is by now PLEASE remember that it is an aggregate score of all the reviewers that chose to critique the movie and if they found it “rotten” or “fresh”…it isn’t just a simple average of scores. If you paid attention to what was being said by film critics that actually grew up with this content, you would know that it was the right amount of faithful and right amount of different that we just haven’t seen in these “childhood cartoon reboots”.

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The most important thing about this movie was the characters who were surprisingly all fleshed out and pretty relatable. They were all just kids dealing with their own demons…and it worked really well. The standout performance goes to RJ Cyler playing Billy/The Blue Ranger for some of the best acting I’ve seen in a big-budget sci-fi blockbuster, and for being talented enough to portray a character with a mental health disorder. Ludi Lin, who played Zack/The Black Ranger, was just fantastic as well. His performance and character almost makes up for all the crap that asian-americans have received in Hollywood in the past year. I was initially worried about Becky G (a teen pop-star) playing Trini/The Yellow Ranger..especially due to the immense pressure of doing justice to the original Yellow Ranger who passed away very young and was the only original who couldn’t make it to the movie…but I definitely regret doubting her because she convinced me that she was the only one in her family that “wasn’t normal” and struggled with it constantly. Even Jason/The Red Ranger and Kimberly/The Pink Ranger (WOOHOO THE FIRST INDIAN POWER RANGER. TOOK US LONG ENOUGH, DAMN. AND SHE’S FEMALE TOO? BLESS UP), who were the most “vanilla” characters in the original, got an arc each that was pretty realistic and relatable, which was awesome because my obsession with the Red Ranger started with “Time Force” season of Power Rangers where he was the “screw up” of the group. This reminded me a lot of that, and believe me when I say that you actually care about ALL of the Rangers…rather than watching a Transformers movie and secretly hoping that the main characters get run over. These were not some expendable teeny-boppers, this wasn’t an “edgy” reboot of characters you loved. These well-acted characters were teenagers with attitudes…they WERE the Rangers.

Even the bigger name celebrities actually felt like they wanted to be there, which is unusual for these kinds of projects. Bryan Cranston as Zordon was just awesome, and Bill Hader as Alpha-5 was a much less annoying but just as lovable version of the popular robot (HE SAID “AY YI YI” AND I WAS SO HAPPY). Oddly enough, I think Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa might’ve gone a little too 90’s on us, but hey it reminded me of the original Rita and I was fine with it in the end.

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The Rangers actually don’t spend that much time in their power suits, and I’m okay with that because they spend time developing the characters. They fall victim to some of the “origin story” cliches we’ve come to know and tolerate, but it really does almost feel like a sci-fi “Breakfast Club” for a bit. There is a drastic change in tone from when the movie starts to when Rita confronts Trini because they drag just a little bit in the second act and its as if the writers suddenly realized “Oh, wait a minute…we have to wrap this up and make the final fight happen! Uhh…okay here it goes!”. Additionally there’s some REALLY bad product placement in the movie and I almost wish it was toned-down a bit/wasn’t there entirely but hey, the final fight happens and It just keeps getting better. They say “It’s Morphin Time”, they fight the putty-patrollers, the theme song comes back (!!!!), the original actors for Tommy/The Green Ranger and Kimberly/The Pink Ranger have a cameo, the MegaZord vs Goldar fight happens and the entire theater applauded ALL of this (we had a great audience). This whole thing was the right amounts of knowing the source material, knowing how campy you have to be at times, knowing when seriousness is appropriate…my friends and I all loved it. There also IS a mid-credits scene that just made me happier. Guys, we’re getting a POWER RANGERS movie franchise that starts in 2017…and I couldn’t be more pleased.

I’m doing something different this time for my rating, I will just say this: IF  you watched power rangers as a kid in any capacity, you will like this movie. If you grew-up with power rangers and watched multiple seasons, you will LOVE this movie. If you didn’t watch much power rangers but know how to have stupid fun at the movies, you should give it a try. If you didn’t watch power rangers at all and just don’t care about sci-fi/superhero franchises and only watch “films”…please don’t see this and try to “filmsplain” it to casual moviegoers/people who love their childhood shows. You have no business watching this if you don’t have the nostalgia at all or don’t know how to have fun with dumb movies, save your money and your time and don’t be THAT guy that ends  up on /r/iamverysmart.

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As always, thanks for reading and I hope you’re as excited about a movie like this that respected its source material as I am! 2017 has been great for nerdy movies so far, lets hope it stays that way!

That’s all for now,
Soggz out!