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

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

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!