Logan – Movie Review

Insert “Hurt” by Johnny Cash here

Back when Y2K was the most ridiculous thing we had ever heard of and back when I was in the first grade (I know…), Australian actor Hugh Jackman first appeared on the big screen as Wolverine, one of the most iconic comic book characters/Poster-Hero of the X-men. For 17 years, Jackman appeared as Wolverine in various X-men movies and was always met with positive reception.

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It has been a crazy ride seeing so many superheroes come and go on the silver screen, but Jackman has been a constant for me through my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. I’m a HUGE fan of Jackman’s Wolverine, and when I heard this was his last time, all I wanted was for him to have his swan song and be remembered for how amazing he is.

To be perfectly honest…this is a tough one. I was silent for a few minutes after the movie was over, I distracted myself, slept on it, and thought about it on my morning commute…and I’m still a little unsure of where EXACTLY I stand. However, as of me writing this sentence…”Logan” is one of the best comic book films I’ve ever seen.

First thing to get out of the way, holy WOW this is a bloody one. The R-rating is fully utilized, and every fight scene is a plethora of gore and stabbing…and I LOVE IT. They even got Wolverine’s fighting style right, adapting it to account for the lacking physical state of the character as well.

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The lazy analysis I’ve been seeing lately is along the lines of “Logan is the Dark Knight of X-Men” or that “People are going to debate for years between Logan and the Dark Knight”. Let me shut this down right now, “Logan” is different from, and not as good as, “The Dark Knight”. The reason I understand why this comparison is being made is because, like Nolan’s trilogy of Batman films, Director James Mangold decides to incorporate a lot of realism when it comes to the themes of the film. Add in the fact that both directors understood their characters and the situations these characters are in 100%. While different in the sense that “The Dark Knight” is Batman’s fall from grace, and “Logan” is about what Wolverine will do after already fallen far beyond recognition, the two films both feel very real and can connect to a larger audience. Similarly, this is why “The Empire Strikes Back” is revered as the best of the Star Wars films, because we see the Rebellion struggle in a very human way and we love those characters. Unfortunately, this translated over to “So ALL OF IT has to be dark and gritty?” in the realm of comic/sci-fi movies and caused some problems, but Logan was a nice reminder that it is possible to achieve similar tones without sacrificing clarity, sanity, and originality. So, yes, I see why the comparison is being made…and while you can draw similarities, other criticism of “Logan” using the Nolan trilogy should stop there. Its different, and X-Men deserves this win.

Emphasizing on Mangold’s understanding of the character, even the first sequence we see with old man Logan just feels like he’s letting himself down. This is the most beat-down version of a hero I’ve seen…Logan isn’t just depressed for the sake of it. This guy is so obviously broken, lost, apathetic…he’s simply lost all will to do anything, and therefore doesn’t know why he is doing anything in the first place. Throughout the film, Logan avoids purpose even when it is staring him right in the face.

Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier also delivers one last time. To me, he represented the small good part of Wolverine that might still be in there, which is why I love that the two constantly bicker, almost as if Logan is constantly denying who he is “supposed to be”…but he is still taking care of the 90 year old Professor because he owes that much to Xavier and himself.

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There are a few imperfections I think are present in this film. The first one being, there isn’t much of a villain. You don’t really have a “Joker”  or…anyone really. Yes, there’s a solid plot structure and there are “bad hombres” (couldn’t resist)…but you can’t really point to someone to bring out a unique anger in Wolverine…because he’s pretty much just angry half the time anyway. Additionally, the flow gets somewhat interrupted in the second act and focus veers off a bit from Logan himself. It ties together when you look at it as a whole, but in the moment one could feel a slight drag in the 2nd act.

Despite the lack of a sinister presence, Logan does have a motivator. Logan and Xavier are traveling with a young girl, Laura…who I will not say much about for the sake of keeping things spoiler free.

The other notable thing is that this movie doesn’t do the “classic comic book movie” thing of setting anything up. This is it, what you see is what you get..and they’re focused on telling this one story. The greater X-Men universe is referenced slightly, but a new fan could jump right in to “Logan” not knowing much and still feel unexpectedly moved by it.

Since the X-Men have come and gone in this distant future where “Logan” takes place, the stories and legends are all documented in the form of comic books, where Wolverine is viewed as a fearless hero…so to see him at such an opposite end of who he used to be just makes the film so tragically beautiful.

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I feel almost blessed to have seen Jackman’s Wolverine portrayal through for 17 years. This is one of those things that I’m going to be an annoying Grandpa about ~60 years from now…never shutting up about how back in my day, Hugh Jackman was Wolverine and he was the best (assuming the X-men get a reboot at some point because studios love money and eventually people run out of ideas….right?).

“Logan” is gut-wrenching, and feels somewhat fresh after being bombarded with DCEU nonsense and the MCU doing what they have to do…at the risk of overselling it just a little bit, “Logan” gets a soggz-blogs rating of 9.5/10.

 

The Lego Batman Movie – Movie Review

First Lesson: Life Doesn’t Give you Seat-belts

In 2014, Warner Animation Group gave us a movie that most of us thought would just be a shameless plug to sell some plastic toys…and we were right, in a sense. The only thing was that none of us expected what we got: An amazing animated movie with a great voice-acting cast, pristine animation, and an actual plot that made some adults cry like babies and made other adults buy new lego sets (the latter for me, personally). Out of all the funny lego characters we got, Will Arnett’s hilarious narcissistic and edgy take on Batman stood out in that movie…so much that here we are in 2017 with the spin-off “Lego Batman” movie, and a “Lego Ninjago” movie coming soon as well.

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Because “The Lego Movie” revolved around original characters like Emmett, Lord Business, etc, The comedy in that movie had to also have a sense of originality and had to come from the situations that the characters were in. With a property like Batman that’s been having its own movies since the 60’s, however, that wasn’t as necessary. Reviewing and recommending this movie is fairly simple: IF you like self-referencing humor and the Batman films, you will absolutely love this movie. This movie is a spoof of the property, made obvious through the medium of legos and the animation style. The more Batman you’ve seen, the better. If the Batman films and comics are always fresh in your head, you will catch all the humor and it will be a delight.

Aside from that, just wanted to mention a few things I liked and noticed:

  • This movie BARELY takes a break. It is joke after punchline after pun after self-burn after…you get the idea. If you’re in a low energy mood, this is NOT the film for you. I personally wish I wasn’t as tired when I saw it, I probably would’ve enjoyed it even more. There is a slower section in the 2nd act, but it is mainly to focus on the story…which even comedic movies need, so no complaints there.

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  • Dear Lord, some of these references were just marvelous (DCous?…get it?..sorry). There’s the things you would expect them to make fun of (Suicide Squad, BvS, Shark-Repel-ant, Batman brooding) and then there’s some stuff that I haven’t heard been referenced in a while. One of my personal favorites was Joker explaining his plan to a Security Guard, and the guard telling him its going to fail so he brings up some of Joker’s other failed plans…specifically “That one time with the parade and the Prince music” (Burton’s Batman movie in 1989). I couldn’t hold in my laughter during some of these even if I was one of the only ones laughing.
  • The dynamic with Joker wanting Batman’s attention like an overly attached crush was one of the best parts of the movie. It was just really funny to see a spoof of Joker having a purpose, I honestly didn’t expect that much thought to go into this when they just as easily could’ve went: “Oh Joker’s crazy anyway, lets just have him do clown things and focus the movie more on Batman giving one-liners”…but wow, they actually gave the audience something to work with and it’s great.

You probably saw this coming already, but since I love spoofs and meta-jokes, and since you all know my feelings about Batman as a superhero, I’m giving the Lego Batman movie a 9/10. 

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This was no doubt a shorter review since there wasn’t much to go into, but expect a longer review for “Logan” which comes out in about a month…which I am SO excited for. It took me a while to get started for 2017, but be on the lookout because some cool stuff that is out of the usual realm of film reviews is coming soon. Thanks for reading!

That’s all for now,
Soggz Out!

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – SPOILER FREE Movie Review

I am one with the Force, The Force is with me.

Rogue One is Disney’s first Star Wars spin-off movie that takes place in the middle of Episode III and Episode IV, focusing on how the Rebels received the famous Death Star plans that shape the events of Episode IV. I’ve got to be honest, when I saw the first trailers and news about reshoots, I wasn’t very thrilled about Rogue One. I thought this and the ideas about a Boba Fett and Han Solo movie were going to be lame “try-hard” attempts by Disney to turn the franchise into a Cash-Cow by making it predictable yet good enough to attract massive audiences. I especially started believing this after I watched Episode VII for the 3rd time and realized that it was basically Episode IV (Not that “Force Awakens” is bad…it did its job of setting up a new trilogy very well. It just did it in the same exact way that “A New Hope” did).

When I left the theater last year after watching “Force Awakens” for the first time, It felt odd…as if something just didn’t sit right with me afterwards. When I left the theater yesterday after watching “Rogue One” for the first time…I felt like I finally got the Star Wars movie that I’ve been waiting for since Disney acquired Lucasfilms in 2012.

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Lets start with filmmaking and technical aspects. This is THE most beautifully shot and animated Star Wars film I’ve ever seen. I wont get in to specific scenes, but everything just looked so flawless. There was one slight issue with a motion capture character that blew me away at first, but started to become less believable as the movie progressed. Regardless, the shots, effects, the CGI, the cinematography, fight scenes were all just so spectacular. Additionally, the movie has so many action scenes where they put all of this to such amazing use, making “Rogue One” instantly deserving of awards for best cinematography for 2016. It’s that good, I’m not kidding.

But since I didn’t actually go to film school and since the”lens” I look a movie with encompasses storytelling and characters…I did find some flaws here. The most important thing about Star Wars is, in my opinion, the characters. Its the things they say that become iconic, its their personalities that made other filmmakers refer to characters they make as “a Han Solo type”, its their actions that become memories we remember forever. The characters in “Rogue One” just didn’t have that. I understand that this is the only movie they got to be in, but one thing JJ did very well with “Force Awakens” was get us to care about every new person we saw…audience could easily refer back to things said and done by Rey, Finn, Poe, and even Kylo Ren…and he did that in one movie. “Rogue One” had so much exposition to deliver in the first act, which was admittedly slow, that we cut down on development for some of our “main” characters in the squad. Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, gets about one moment where you get some background and Jyn Erso, the main character played by Felicity Jones, gets the most. Everyone else somewhat falls in to generic tropes, which bums me out because these performances by these actors are great. Donnie Yen and Riz Ahmed (ugh this is such a diverse cast and I love it. Shout out to the FIRST BROWN GUY TO BE AN IMPORTANT CHARACTER IN STAR WARS! WE MADE IT Y’ALL! HOW HARD WAS THAT, AM I RIGHT??) were particularly wonderful in their roles of Chirutt Imwe and Bodhi Rook, respectively.

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Despite the last paragraph, we still had some great moments with characters that I’d likely attribute to the writing and direction. The droid, K2SO was genuinely a hilarious sasshole that I wish we could get in future. He easily is my favorite droid character in all of Star Wars now (fight me, BB-8 fans. You and I both know he’s just there to sell children’s toys). Moments between Jyn Erso and her father, Galen Erso (portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen) were also very touching, and Chirrut and Baze (Wen Jiang) become one of the best Star Wars bromances right up there with Han/Chewbacca and Poe/Finn. I also really appreciated how this movie showed the “Scumbag” side of the Rebellion that other Star Wars movies never really did, specifically with Cassian Andor and some of his actions. Also…Darth Vader…wow. He isn’t in the movie much, but most of us knew that because the marketing or the press didn’t shove Vader in our faces *COUGHCOUGHSUICIDESQUADJOKERCOUGHCOUGH*, any time Vader is on screen is just such an utter delight and it does justice to one of the greatest villains in all of cinema history.

Perhaps my favorite thing about “Rogue One” is how well this fits into the Star Wars canon. There is a massive plot twist that not only clears up a huge hole in the Original Trilogy, but adds another layer to the entire story of this galaxy far far away. We even get a connection to the prequel trilogy with a certain character being brought back (one that those of us who’ve played “Force Unleashed” know helped Start the Rebellion itself). References to other Star Wars films aren’t beating you over the head constantly and actually all tie in very well. I was insanely pleased with how well this all worked out, ESPECIALLY the ending!

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To wrap this review up, I’m noticing that this is polarizing some people and I’ve seen a lot of dumb criticism for this movie. Honestly, I think its because of how high general expectations became after “Force Awakens” (which also explains why that got more praise than it deserved…because the last thing to compare it to that we had was “Revenge of the Sith”…opinion, not fact). “Rogue One” isn’t perfect like I’ve mentioned, it has its flaws. However when you look at the overall movie and its great moments, effect on the canon, direction and storytelling…”Rogue One” is so incredibly enjoyable and I think most, if not all, Star Wars fans will like it.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story gets an 8.5/10

For fun, I’ll throw in my updated Star Wars movie ranking:
1. Empire Strikes Back
2. A New Hope
3. Rogue One
4. The Return of the Jedi
5. The Force Awakens
6. Revenge of the Sith
7. Phantom Menace
8. Attack of the Clones

As always, I appreciate any support! I really have fun doing this and I hope anyone reading this at least has fun too even if they disagree. I’m making it a personal goal to write more in 2017, so I’d really love it if you show your friends and help get the soggzblogs name out there!

That’s all for now,
Soggz out!

Invasion! (The CW’s DCTV Crossover) – TV Review

As many of you know, the CW is currently home to four different DC Superhero shows: Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. Even though I’m aware that most of my readers and friends only stick to watching Barry screw timelines on “The Flash”, that would still mean they were aware that this was happening due to all the marketing and effort the CW has put out for this crossover event. Despite the four shows attracting different audiences and receiving very different reception (I’m not going to open the can of worms that is “Arrow”‘s 4th season…at least not on this review), I’ve gotta say I’m a fan of this crossover event and I enjoyed a vast majority of it.  

DC managed to find their strength when it comes to live action media, and that strength happens to be making corny, fun, awkward, and exciting TV shows over at the CW. I stuck with “Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow” since day 1, had to catch up on “Arrow” before its 3rd season and went from there, and I haven’t had the chance to check out “Supergirl”…but man oh man, I enjoyed almost EVERYONE in this crossover. The four episodes managed to entertain me and actually have implications and consequences for the individual plot-lines of each show. I’m really excited about this, so I’m going to go into spoilers and talk about each of the 4 episodes briefly. Here it goes!

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All of the hype.

[SPOILERS START HERE]

 

Supergirl – Okay so a lot of people missed this, but it was already revealed that this episode of Supergirl would serve as a “small prologue” for the crossover rather than being the actual first part of it. I know some people feel like they got tricked into watching an episode of Supergirl when they didn’t want to…but honestly I could watch Melissa Benoist any time of the day and never complain…siiiiigh…..Huh, what? Oh, right, the review. Basically we get an episode of Supergirl that gives some insight into her personality and her world until the last 30 seconds where Barry and Cisco show up and tell Kara that her help is needed on their earth. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

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If I had a type…yeah…in case anyone was wondering…

Flash – So THIS is where the crossover really starts. We’re introduced to The Dominators, a group of aliens that have attacked earth before and do not come in peace. The all-star team is assembled and consisting of: Flash, Green Arrow, Spartan, Speedy, Supergirl, Heatwave, Atom, White Canary, Firestorm, Overwatch, and Vibe….aka (respectively) Barry, Oliver, Diggle, Thea, Kara, Rory, Ray, Sara, Jax/Martin, and (unfortunately) Felicity and Cisco (who’s basically the Felicity of “Flash” right now). Barry, Oliver, Jax, and Martin stay back to talk while the rest of the team goes out on reconnaissance, which gives us a scene here with the Future Barry’s message (revealed in Legends of Tomorrow) and the consequences of Flashpoint being realized by everyone in this universe. This was great because we really get to see Barry appear to be the “villain” in this group of heroes after he’s been looked to as an amazing guy this entire time…it shows that Barry is flawed and now even his friends are beating up on him rather than just himself. There’s a scene here where Oliver explains the deaths of his parents to Barry…and boy, that gets intense. The chemistry between Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin has never been stronger than it was in all the crossover episodes, and I REALLY hope we see these two interact more often. The episode wraps up with Barry and Oliver freeing the rest of the team from the Dominators’ mind control devices, only for five members of the team to be immediately abducted by a Dominator ship.

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Quicksilver who?

Arrow (Happy 100th episode!) – I’m going to be honest, this show hasn’t had an episode this good since season 2. The 100th episode of Arrow reminded me of why I stick with it: for moments like the ones we saw here. Oliver, Ray, Sara, Diggle, and Thea all end up in a shared hallucination that represents their ideal lives. Oliver is marrying Laurel (IT’S WHAT I WANTED ALL ALONG), Thea and Oliver’s parents are still alive, Ray is engaged to Felicity, and Diggle is the Arrow. Oliver is the first one to realize what is going down here and convinces everyone one-by-one that this isn’t real. The tension is so well done here…Oliver and company can actually enjoy this hallucination and choose to live happily for, what it seems like, the first time. After realizing that its best for them to face reality and fight, they’re greeted by the villains of the past season for this EPIC fight scene where our heroes fight the ones they have super personal beef with. Thea fights Malcom Merlyn, Oliver fights Deathstroke, and Sara finally gets to have her revenge against Damien Dahrk…and this whole thing was one of the best action scenes I’ve seen on any of these shows. Our heroes wake up and try to escape the Dominators’ ship on an alien pod, and are saved by the Waverider, where Gideon reveals to us that the Dominators are planning on using a weapon against earth.

Legends of Tomorrow – The concluding episode of the entire crossover felt like Television’s “Avengers”. Most of the action takes place here as everything wraps up,  after a time-traveling shenanigan with some of the Legends (what else is new?). It was one of those moments where your inner-12-year-old was so hyped that you begged your mom for a Flash action figure as soon as the episode was over. I can’t even explain it through words, its one of those things where you just need to watch it yourself. Oh, and that final scene with Barry and Oliver having a drink? Perfect.

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The funniest thing I heard all week (Superman Returns, if you don’t get it).

I’m not sure that a crossover would be such a good idea in the future, since there are few circumstances that could actually get the 4 shows together. Since this was the first one, it was acceptable to use “generic faceless army” as an excuse for some awesome superhero fan-service. This is one of those things where I geeked out so hard, probably to the point where my rationality gets a little skewed…knowing that, I’m still giving the DCTV “Invasion!” crossover event an 8/10.

I apologize that my Pokemon Sun review is taking so long, i’m still playing through it! I WILL write about it once I’m done. As for the Suicide Squad extended cut, I’ve decided not to review that and instead give my thoughts on the DC films as a whole in a future post. Let me know if there’s some content you think I’d enjoy that you’d like me to review, and please help me get my blog some more exposure if you like what you see!

That’s all for now,
Soggz out!

 

Doctor Strange – Movie Review

IMAX 3D almost had me actually believing in magic.

Doctor Strange is the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the 2nd movie of Phase 3. It tells the story of an arrogant, cocky, and egotistical Surgeon who loses the ability to use his hands, thereby making him useless at his job. To find an answer, he turns to mystical forces and ends up becoming a skilled practitioner of magic.

This actually meant a lot going forward for the MCU. For one thing, Strange is another B-list superhero (like Ironman was before 2008) to now become a huge part of this universe. The main thing was that magic was now being introduced to the MCU, which adds another layer to the scale of power among our heroes. So far, we’ve really only seen “magical” things from the Asgardians and the Infinity Stones, with most of our heroes having some connection to science instead (building suits, gamma rays, serums, genetically-altered spiders, etc). To have the kind of magic that Strange practices be introduced and to now have it there to play a big part going forward gives the storytellers another dimension (pun intended) to work with, and that’s exciting!

Now I’m not going to sit here and lie to you, despite that last paragraph…this is still your above-average introduction/set-up movie that we’ve seen in the MCU before. With all the new things we’ve been seeing recently like heroes against each other, villain team ups, the government getting involved, it was only a matter of time before we went back to formula: Dude has personality flaw, dude gets powers, dude learns something, generic villain, funny parts, entertaining scenes, set-up for next movie, done.

Fortunately…the Marvel Studios team just knows how to do this damn well by now that they could probably do it with their eyes closed at this point.

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First things first, the VISUAL EFFECTS IN THIS MOVIE ARE AMAZING. I’ve never watched a movie in IMAX in my life, and after seeing what the pre-release reviews were saying about this film, I took the recommendation and put on those 3D glasses..and I’m so happy that I did. Look, I never learned all the technical camera work and I know very little about the special effects side of a movie. What I can tell you is that the effects in this movie were jaw-dropping, and since its actually watchable unlike most movies known for great effects (looking at you, Transformers), it all adds to the cinematic experience. I HIGHLY recommend seeing this movie in 3D.

As far as the cast goes, no problems here either. Benedict Cucumber Cabbage Patch portrayed the character of Stephen Strange very well, as an asshole who isn’t exactly a charming one like Tony Stark is. Tilda Swinton* also did a great job as the Ancient One, the Sorcerer Supreme who teaches Strange and plays a large role in the story. I’d like to mention Mads Mikkelson as well, he was actually great as Kaecillius. It just sucks that we got disposable MCU villain #508789,  I wish he got a better story and was in the movie more.

*Look, I’m bummed that they didn’t cast within the ethnicity too, but she did really well and it didn’t feel like any sort of appropriation or BS at all. In fact at one point she was teaching Strange something that I recognized as the main lesson in the Bhagavad Gita (Hinduism) and she actually said it correctly…trust me, I’d know. The fact of the matter is, a Tibetan character would’ve lost Marvel and Disney millions of dollars in overseas sales and would’ve pissed off China, aka where a significant part of production is outsourced. I know I’ll probably catch heat for this but I’m just going to point out that so far the MCU has been cautious about this kind of stuff and isn’t trying to offend anyone. Examples just off the top of my head: I read that Elizabeth Olsen was promised that she would never have to wear the comic-style Scarlet Witch costume, which is basically just underwear and a cape, so that the character wouldn’t be sexualized. Plus, if you haven’t seen Luke Cage yet, Marvel definitely held it down for a huge minority group and did it really well . Look, all I’m saying is just give the movie a chance before you judge it off of ONE bad casting decision if you like the MCU, you’ll like this. Okay *sigh* moving on!

I will say that the movie is really exposition heavy, but doesn’t give too much on some of the stuff you’d want to hear more about. By the time you get to the last act, there is some stuff the audience potentially could still be fuzzy on, which I think could’ve been solved by giving more on Kaecillius as I previously mentioned. The character of Mordo is set-up very well and I’m excited to see more of them, so I will give props for that.

Lastly, I will commend the movie for doing one thing I was looking for. Obviously, Strange is very new to sorcery, talented or not. To have the villain in this film be masters and people who have done this better/earlier than he has makes it so that Strange is the inexperienced underdog. What I was worried about was that the movie would just go “Well, he’s Dr. Strange. So he’s really good. Boom. Hero. Villain down”. What actually happened was interesting, because at the end of the day Strange used his quick wit and intelligence (something he had from the start) to end up saving the day, despite still not being as powerful as his comrades and his enemies. This now gives him a few movies worth of off-screen time to master his abilities and be ready to bring the mystical hammer down in the next Avengers movie, and its cool that they didn’t just overpower him right away (well…I mean he is ridiculously powerful, but that’s just the magic. Like I said before, they’re adding a new layer to the power scaling. He will get better too, so if you watch this movie and his abilities seem to be a bit unfair, just remember that its different! And besides…just wait till we get Carol Danvers…ooh boy.)

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All in all, Doctor Strange couldn’t top the thrills we received in Civil War, but did its job well and is a great transition into the new stories we’ll see in Phase 3. Strange gets a 7.5/10

As always, I’d appreciate any follows, shares, likes, comments, whatever works!

That’s all for now,
Soggz out!

What Hurts the Modern Comic Book Movie?

From the 70s-90s, DC reigned supreme on the silver screen with their Superman and Batman movies, which captivated audiences everywhere. Fast forward to the early 2000’s, and the world was blessed with two X-men and two Spiderman movies, showing everyone that comic book movies could be amazing summer blockbusters, be entertaining and well-done, and be a gold-mine for Hollywoo (that’s not a typo, watch Bojack Horseman). Unfortunately, we were then hit with a barrage of horrible comic book movies that never seemed to end: Ghostrider, Daredevil, Elektra, Fantastic 4, Green Lantern, etc. In 2008, we were all blown away by DC and Marvel as “The Dark Knight” gave us Oscar-Worthy performances, and “Ironman” took a B-list superhero and propelled him to greatness (we can excuse the small hiccup of Ironman 2). Now we are in 2016 with three major cinematic universes for comic book movies. Comic book sales have been bumped up by new and eater readers. Its safe to say that Comic Book movies are here to stay and have become a major part of our pop culture.

So what makes a comic book movie “bad” nowadays? I’m not talking about the dry argument of “they’re formulaic, they’re all the same, I don’t like them”. I truly believe that we’re past the absolutely atrocious films (excluding the 2016 “Fantastic 4″…oh my) that are so poorly written and done, so what mistakes are being made in the modern Comic Book Movie? In this piece, I’m going to hit a few points that I’ve noticed in my long history of watching these movies. [MILD SPOILER WARNING] for the movies I use as examples, even though anyone reading this has probably seen most of them or (at this point) shouldn’t care about getting them spoiled.

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Already accepting that I’m going to sound like a butthurt fanboy for the duration of this piece

1. “Spiderman 3 Syndrome”

Yes, this is a term I just made up, but I’m going to tell you why. Think back to “Spiderman 3” and where the first two movies left off. All the major events that have moved the plot forward have culminated into Harry Osborn being the villain. However, for some reason this movie decided not only to have Harry and Peter’s conflict happen, but to include the entire fiasco involving the venom symbiote, AND add in the subplot of Flint Marko being accused of Uncle Ben’s murder and turning into Sandman? It sounds a little ridiculous to put all of that into one movie, and it was! Especially when you throw in more MJ/Peter drama (which felt like the same fight that they’ve had for the past two movies), Gwen Stacy, and inappropriate jazz choreography. When it comes to the flow of the story, Spiderman 3 can be simply described as a trainwreck.

Other examples include:

Dark Knight Rises: They tried to have Bane, Catwoman and Talia be important and have Bruce Wayne suffer a broken back, heal a broken back, and return to Gotham to fight his nemesis, save the day and name a successor. Despite still being a well-done film, it ends up being the least compelling of the trilogy with parts of the movie that felt too slow and other parts that felt too rushed.

Suicide Squad: I didn’t speak about this too much in my Suicide Squad review, but dear lord what a sloppy movie. Upon rewatch, when they introduced Katana in about 30 seconds, I definitely had my hands in my face. She’s such a cool character that we’re probably not going to see again, and her presence didn’t really hurt or add to the movie. There’s just too much in this movie that the audience ends up disregarding. Side-note: When you spend literally 5 seconds on Slipknot’s exposition, we all know that he’s totally going to die within the next few scenes.

I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be more than one villain in a Comic Book movie. I’m even open to having more than one sub-plot that’s also taking place. But when a movie tries to rely on bringing multiple iconic characters and scenes to life in the same movie, often times the characters and their motivations become overshadowed by other poorly executed sub-plots. What was originally a selling point in the trailers becomes a weak point in the overall story structure. If you want to see a movie that did this right, “Captain America Civil War” made it work by focusing everything back to the central conflict.

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Lord have mercy on my soul

2. Set-Up Movies

Remember when Sony had claims to a Spider-Man Cinematic Universe? It felt like they were trying to give Disney and the Avengers a huge middle finger, and they announced a slew of Spider-Man movies, including a “Sinister Six” and “Venom”. One of the big reasons that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” just wasn’t a great movie was because they spent so much quality run time trying to establish a cinematic universe that they didn’€™t really accomplish anything big in the movie itself. When movies get so caught up in the big picture, we lose quality in the standalone film that we paid 10 dollars to go see, leaving the audience feeling somewhat empty and unfulfilled.

Other examples include:

Any movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that sets up an infinity stone or feels like a glorified advertisement for a new Avengers film. I’m looking at you, “Thor: The Dark World”.

Fant4stic: I’m not joking when I say that this movie is about 90% exposition that leads up to nothing notable and keeps acting like there are 4 sequels confirmed to follow it. It feels like you’re in stasis for a good 100 minutes only to be slapped in the face at the end.

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Apparently, we only start after 3 set-up movies

3. Crossing into the realm of obscurity

This is something I’ve only really noticed recently. Casual fans of comic books, think back to “Batman V Superman” and be honest with me. Did any of you fully understand what was going on during Bruce Wayne’s dream sequence when some guy in a portal started yelling something at Bruce about Lois Lane being the key? I’d be shocked if any of you did. It’s always nice when filmmakers throw in a nod or two to the comic books, but sometimes it just leaves the audience even more confused than they originally were.

Examples include:

Batman V Superman: The “knightmare” sequence was undoubtedly a cool and well done scene on the cinematographer’s end. However, If I leaned over to my Dad and whispered “Psst, this is a nod to the Injustice series. Also that’s Darkseid’s insignia and those are Parademons from Apokolips”,, his head might’ve exploded on the spot.

X-Men Apocalypse: I watched this one with a friend who’s seen the other X-men movies, but isn’t a comic book fan by any means, and he didn’t really know how to react to a few scenes. It’s great that you wanted to give us Caliban talking to Mystique and then Apocalypse, but to most of the audience, he’s just a guy that looks weird. Not only that, after the post-credits scene revealed that Nathaniel Essex was going to be a part of the big picture now, some guy in my theater yelled out “Does anyone get that?” and the rest of the theater erupted into laughter.

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Casuals be like: Darkseid confirmed! (no, seriously, who the hell is Darkseid?)

4. “3Edgy5Me” Syndrome

This is another phrase I tend to use that no one else does, but I can explain! I love Nolan’s Batman trilogy…but I also hate that other creators said “Holy tragic story, Batman! This is so successful, maybe we could do this with every superhero!” Unfortunately this led to an onslaught of superhero stories that are described as “Dark and Gritty”. Most of these were so ridiculous that I’ve reached a point where I laugh when I hear those two words because I just know that the movie is going to be bad to an extent. It is a given that the protagonist of a film faces struggle and adversity constantly. However, when an uplifting character is turned into a tragic character, it tends to be forced and poorly executed. Not everyone can be Batman or Daredevil, that’s why unique and different characters are created so that more audiences can relate! Being edgy just for the sake of being edgy is just dumb, the movie doesn’t need to be dark to be compelling.

Examples:

The Amazing Spider-Man: Did anyone find all of that “untold story” nonsense about his parents and finding subway tokens in his dad’s calculator to be memorable at all? Throw in his romance with Gwen being “so wrong but so right” or whatever they were going for. I swear when I was watching both these movies I got Deja Vu from the “Twilight” series (I promise we can make fun of the fact that I’ve seen more than one of those later). At the end, it felt like the only reason they killed Gwen Stacy off was to have something bad happen to throw Peter into a depression that eventually gets out of in about 5-10 minutes of run time.

Arrow: This obviously isn’t a movie, but ever since season 1 of the show, people kept commenting about the odd similarity to Batman. I had an open mind, but I just had to point out that in season 3 they LITERALLY tried to make him Batman. Almost everything that happened to the character in season 3 of the show was derivative of Batman. The two were about as different as “A New Hope” and “The Force Awakens”. It was just so odd, I watch Arrow because I want to watch Arrow. I don’t watch Arrow to get a poorly-done version of any given Batman vs Ra’s Al Ghul comic.

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So there’s my humble opinion on what common errors are made in the modern era of Comic Book Movies! As always, let me know what you think because I love discussion and help a nerd out by sharing!

That’s all for now,
Soggz out!

Suicide Squad – Movie Review

Never before have I seen a movie that is more perfectly described by the phrase “Hot Mess” than this one.

“Suicide Squad” is the third installment in the DC Cinematic Universe and introduces us to a team of criminals that are brought together by the Government to save the world. The group is DC’s “band of lovable misfits” trope, and the movie looks like it was meant to be their answer to Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”. The movie is really fun, and many aspects from other Suicide Squad stories are present and accounted for. There is no absence of action scenes, and the tone is much more lighthearted than “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman”. Despite any of the good things that the movie had going for it, the reality of the situation is that this is one really messy production.

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A few things are obvious to most of the audience after watching the movie. One is that some scenes are clearly re-shoots and that a lot of footage is left out or replaced. If I were to re-watch the trailer, I could point out many parts that looked really cool that didn’t even end up in the final product. I remember hearing (anyone is more than welcome to fact check me if I’m wrong) that new scenes were re-shot after the success of “Deadpool” to make this movie funnier. Even if that is pure speculation, its very believable seeing as how some of the dialogue and “jokes” felt forced or poorly written. When it comes to the editing, it almost feels like the scenes in each act were just thrown together while someone hit the “shuffle” button in hopes that it would work.

Another thing that didn’t work for the movie was that it was really difficult to care about the main conflict. The entire plot and most of the action became predictable and felt like it had no consequence. Even when looking at it as part of a bigger universe, the events don’t really have an effect on what we know to be coming in the DCCU. There is a connection that is eventually drawn to the Justice League, but I was hoping that we could’ve seen more emphasis of the bigger picture: humanity taking reckless action against super-humans out of fear.

The acting and portrayal of some of these characters is actually one of the pros of this movie. Will Smith has done a fantastic job of playing Deadshot, and audiences are able to feel his personal conflict between his job and his family. Margot Robbie did very well, and a nerd could see that she took some of Harley’s behavior from “Batman: The Animated Series”, which is never a bad thing. I feel like enough people aren’t talking about how Viola Davis is exactly what Amanda Waller is supposed to be, and gave a stunning performance of this shady, ambitious, and bold character. Jared Leto played the most interesting Joker I’ve seen but I feel like any critic can’t make too much of a judgement because (apparently) a big chunk of his scenes were cut. Regarding everything I saw, I’ve definitely never quite seen in a Joker before, and that made me happy and eager to see more. Lastly, my honorable mentions for a cool character go out to Joel Kinnaman and Jay Hernandez as Rick Flagg and Diablo, respectively.

Truth be told, I recommend seeing this movie in a theater. Know that it is flawed and know that there will be moments where you find yourself very entertained, and go see the movie for yourself! Its no abomination, its worth the money and time. So now that the first part of my review is done, lets dive in to spoilers!

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[SPOILERS START HERE]

So we’re introduced to our squad members via exposition from Waller. I could tell they were going for a more compact movie and that some characters were to be more important than others, but I feel like this could’ve been done a little better. The scenes we get of some of the squad members being apprehended by heroes are fantastic (Ben Affleck is a gift from the Comic Gods and I shall hear nothing bad about him as Batman), and even Flash shows up! We’re introduced even further to characters like Rick Flagg and June Moone aka Enchantress. We get a reveal where Waller is able to control Enchantress, and we find out June and Flagg are romantically involved…and hilarity ensues! Just kidding, its obvious at this point that Enchantress is going to lose control and be the villain and Flagg is going to be conflicted.

After all the exposition and interactions we get the main plot of the villains (oh yeah, there’s two now!) which is *drumroll*…A FACELESS ARMY WITH A GIANT BLUE BEAM IN THE SKY!!! Yes, really. They went with the biggest cliche in the modern comic book film when it has already been cliche for years now. This is why there appears to be little consequence in this movie’s action. Anyway, the squad is assembled and all receive bombs in their necks in case Flagg or Waller deem it necessary. Here we get lazily introduced to even more minor characters like Slipknot and Katana, the former of which is literally here to demonstrate that anyone who disobeys orders will die. I’m not saying that his death didn’t need to happen, I’m saying it just didn’t matter because they already establish how irrelevant Slipknot is, which makes it no shocker that they kill him. While Amanda Waller speaks about how expendable these people are in this movie, its funny because some of these characters are expendable to us, the audience, and their presence didn’t affect the story at all. Its as if the characters of the team are placed into tiers: “Important”, “Sort of Important”, and “Meh”. Additionally, barely any of the characters build relationships with each other aside from snarky comments and death threats. Deadshot and Harley establish a friendship, Deadshot and Flagg end up as frenemies, Diablo shows a little humanity, and Captain Boomerang shows his love for pink unicorns…that’s about it.

So after a scene where Joker tries to escape with Harley and gets his chopper shot down (which no one believed was actually consequential for one second), Waller gets kidnapped by Enchantress and more stuff with little explanation happens. The bar scene where all the characters “give up” and drink is actually really cool, and Diablo gives us his story that ends up being one of the only compelling parts about this movie. Flagg shows up and the Squad decides that they’re gonna go through with the mission, and then we get this crazy, Tranformers-esque battle scene with a whole mess of CGI and explosions. The movie wraps up with Joker breaking Harley out of Belle Reve, and Bruce Wayne striking up a deal with Amanda Waller so he can do Justice League things in a future movie.

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There really isn’t much to this whole movie in terms of substance, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least having some fun. If you want to see a well done Suicide Squad movie, I highly recommend checking out the animated film “Batman: Assault on Arkham”. As for the movie in question, Suicide Squad gets a 5/10.

So those are my thoughts on Suicide Squad! As always, I would appreciate all of your likes, shares, feedback, comments, etc.
That’s all for now,
Soggz Out!