Category Archives: Comic Book

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Blu Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Avengers: Endgame Review

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Tilda Swindon, Dave Bautista, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong

The major downside to catching Avengers: Endgame in theatres was the risk of subjecting my bladder to irreparable damage. In my younger days, simply holding-it for three hours was no big challenge. Back in college, I even once participated in a drinking challenge where we’d see who could go the longest without relieving ourselves. I didn’t win, but did manage to make it almost four hours.

Those were different times and Endgame is a different type of epic. We’ve all sat through three-hour films before, but thanks to the Infinity War’s open-ended resolution and plethora of unanswered questions – not-to-mention a year’s worth of fan theories and speculation – taking a bathroom break would risk missing a key scene, plot twist or revelation. I’ll give the Russo Brothers credit for one thing: Every scene in Endgame feels vital at the time, making it a tough movie to walk away from, even for a moment.

At the showing my family and I attended, not a single theatregoer got up to leave once the film started. Afterwards, the continuous sound of flushing toilets echoed throughout the lobby for five straight minutes. I, for one, made the mistake of buying a soda before the movie, which I began the regret around the 90 minute mark. By the third act, my screaming bladder made it a challenge to fully immerse myself the film’s numerous emotional payoffs.

So despite being a fitting, larger-than-life capper to Marvel’s 22-film story arc, Endgame ultimately plays better at home, at least for those of us not endowed with iron bladders. In addition to reacquainting myself with the story thus-far by revisiting Infinity War beforehand, seeing Endgame a second time – able to hit pause when nature called – was far more enjoyable.

While I still loathe the practice of stretching a single story across multiple movies, Endgame justifies its existence – and length – due to the sheer number of characters, story threads and loose ends to tie in a manner that meets expectations of legions of MCU fans. A taunting task, to be sure, which Endgame manages to pull off. The film remembers its past while acknowledging the future, and is well-aware of the finality its title suggests (for the story arc and some major characters). In that respect, Endgame pushes all the right emotional buttons.

But unlike the original Star Wars trilogy’s most iconic moments, Endgame meets expectations without really ever exceeding them. As viewers, we already have a laundry list of plot points awaiting explanation, questions to be answered and characters’ odds of living or dying. All those boxes are checked-off – often magnificently, sometimes poignantly – but there aren’t any revelations as jaw-dropping as learning who Luke’s father is. And even at three hours, there are simply too many characters for everyone to get adequate screen time (some don’t even appear until the climax). Fans of certain characters will inevitably be disappointed by what amounts to a cameo.

However, those are minor quips. Endgame is ultimately a slam-bang crescendo to this massive franchise, the likes of which we won’t likely see again for a long time. While sweeping and epic in scope, it’s still filled with the smaller, character-driven moments that have always made the MCU engaging (something DC is just now figuring out). I’ve personally never met anyone disappointed by the outcome. I’m sure they’re out there, but maybe their bladders were simply too full to enjoy it the first time.

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Hellboy (2019) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Hellboy Review

Director: Neil Marshall
Writers: Andrew Cosby (screenplay by), Mike Mignola (based on the Dark Horse Comic Book “Hellboy” created by)
Starring David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, Thomas Haden Church

I should be up-front and state I’ve never seen either of Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy movies, for no other reason than I simply never got around to it. I don’t read comics, either, so I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about the character, his origins or even the basic premise.

I only mention this because the shadows of Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman loom large over the newly-rebooted Hellboy, especially since the corpses of the originals aren’t really that cold yet. But as someone with no basis for comparison, I don’t carry any preconceived expectations or fanboy baggage. However, I’ve enjoyed some of director Neil Marshall’s previous films – The Descent, in particular. He’s no del Toro, but at the very least, it would probably be watchable. All that being said, while Hellboy won’t ever be mistaken for a masterpiece, I can’t say I was disappointed.

An unrecognisable David Harbour plays the titular character, a gruff, trash-talking manbeast who was born in Hell, but rescued and raised to be a demon-slayer by his adoptive father, Trevor Bruttenhorn (Ian McShane). Refreshingly, this isn’t yet-another origin story. Not directly, anyway. Other than a few flashbacks and an amusingly-outlandish revelation of Hellboy’s aristocratic lineage, the story focuses on the present, where the world is threatened by the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), a sorceress once defeated and dismembered by King Arthur. Hellboy himself figures into her agenda, a seduction which has him questioning his loyalties (tempted by the likes of Jovovich, who can blame him?).

He isn’t working alone, though, getting help from plucky young medium Alice (Sasha Lane) and Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), who turns into a jaguar when he’s pissed off (though he tries like hell not to). I couldn’t tell you if they’re also lifted from the comic, but both are interesting, the latter being particularly amusing when he finally gives in to his animal side. Speaking of amusing, as someone unfamiliar with Hellboy lore, the overall tone of this film is quite similar to Deadpool. Though not as consistently funny or uproariously vulgar, it has its moments, unquestionably earning its R-rating through perpetual profanity and buckets of blood & gore. Visually, Hellboy is typical of most CGI-heavy action films, save for one wonderful sequence where our hero battles three carnivorous giants, which looks almost like Terry Gilliam took over the director’s chair while Marshall was out grabbing a smoke.

As Hellboy himself, Harbour gives a serviceable performance, but buried under that much make-up, just about anybody of similar size and able to adequately deliver their lines could have played the character. I suspect the general fan consensus will be that he’s no Ron Perlman, similar to my view that Kane Hodder made the best Jason Voorhees.

At just over two-hours, the film could have used some trimming, particularly during the middle act, which tends to meander a bit. Still, I found this version of Hellboy enjoyable enough on its own terms. That may be faint praise for die-hard fans of the comic series or del Toro’s films, some who probably had their minds made-up before watching a single frame of this one. But for those who don’t know Hellboy from Hellraiser, it’s an agreeably gory way to spend an evening.

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins

 

Spider-Man Far From Home Review

Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna, Stan Lee (based on the Marvel comic book by)
Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal

First of all…go see this movie.

Now that that’s out the way, FFH delivers in so many more ways than just action alone.  The unfolding story is pretty much exactly what you would expect if you’re a fan of comics (or animated series) and know the characters enough.  If you’re just a fan of the film series then you’re still in for a treat.

The onscreen chemistry between Holland and Zendaya is awkwardly perfect and so much fun to watch take shape.  The unnerving of character within Parker is deeply felt from the start of the film and almost never let’s up until the movies end.  As for the action, it’s ever present and amazing as Peter and the new hero on the scene, Mysterio (Gyllenhaal), fight to ward off elemental beings  from a different universe before they destroy earth.

With some twists and turns, FFH is a blast and though gone, Tony Stark/Iron Man is present without ever being present. There are two end credits scene, the first of which is quite the jaw dropping eye opener, the second being a bit comical but also pointing in a certain direction obviously to what may lie ahead.

Whether IMAX, standard or 3D, FFH is absolutely enjoyable and a solid end to Phase 3.  Get out and go see it!

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Movie Review By The Movie Couple

Spider-Man Far From Home Review

 

Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna, Stan Lee (based on the Marvel comic book by)
Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal

Moviie Couple here!   We went to see Spider-Man: Far From Home this Holiday weekend!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system. Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Spider-Man: Far From Home continues the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) adventures of Peter Parker, high school science student, and of course Our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, from his first solo film, Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Now, he’s a bit more famous thanks to his previous adventures and the world apparently knowing his role in both of the last Avenger films (Infinity War and Endgame).  Peter finds himself struggling with his new found responsibility, his attempts to live up to the legacy of his mentor and friend Tony Stark (Iron Man) and his desire to just be a kid.  He knows what he does is important, but the kid in him still longs to hang out and chase the girl he is crushing on.  As the title alludes to, the class is chosen for a tour of Europe!  This seems the perfect time for Peter to slow down and spend some time with the enigmatic MJ, who he so far has only admired from afar. But as fate would have it, a new Earth shattering threat has begun!  Nick Fury and Maria Hill need his help!  And a new costumed figure has entered the field of play, the handsome and charming Quentin Beck AKA Mysterio!  Will poor Spidey save the day!  Will he get the girl?  Can Beck/Mysterio be his new Tony Stark/Iron Man?  Nothing comes easy for  Old Parker, the stakes are high, MJ has a new suitor, and all is not as it seems!  He catches thieves just like flies, but can he save the world and save his love life?

Directed by Jon Watts and starring Tom Holland as Peter/Spider-Man, Samuel L. Jackson (He’s nearly in as many movies this year as Keanu Reeves!) and Cobie Smulders as Fury and Hill, Jake Gyllenhaal as Beck/Mysterio, Zendaya as MJ, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May and yes all the kids and faculty from Homecoming are back as is Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan.  So is this a good sequel to Homecoming?  Is it as advertised, an Epilogue to Avengers:Endgame?   Well, come join Mr. and Mrs Moviie Couple as we give this film a swing and review this latest entry in the MCU saga!

So here we go!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  Let me start by saying I love comics.  If you follow us here at all you already know this, but if you are reading us for the first time you need to know that.  So that being said, I am a huge Spider-Man fan.  I love Tom Holland as Peter Parker.  I think he embodies Peter in the same way Chris Evans does Captain America or RDJ does Iron Man.  He’s just perfect.  I was in love with his first film Homecoming, but I am actually sad to say I don’t feel the same about Far From Home as I did for the first one.  The film starts way too slowly.  It is part John Hughes Wannabe (Homecoming did a far better job of capturing this energy than FFH) and part MCU blockbuster and I feel that is part of the problem.  Not every MCU film needs to be the end of the world type threat to be a success.  Just ask the Antman/Wasp films.  We do not spoil here at Moviie Couple, so we will not explain the villainous plot outright, but if you’ve ever read Spider-Man comics at all or watched a Spidey cartoon like… ever or even really payed attention to the advertising for this film you should be able to guess the bad guy immediately.  So I say that to say this, The villain is not a world threat traditionally and I believe if anyone actually thinks over the plan, at the films conclusion, it really doesn’t hold up.  Shield should have been able to handle this or at the very least if the stakes were set lower it would have made a more credible Spidey level threat, but the filmmakers by this point in the MCU, feel the stakes HAVE to be earth threatening I guess.

 Now don’t get me wrong, they creators try and explain a lot of this away (PLEASE stay for the end credits), but it just doesn’t hold water for me.  The action is ratchet up to Avengers level and as I already stated, I feel it wasn’t needed.  A bit of cinema overkill.  The best action scene comes in the middle where Spidey doesn’t know what’s real or what isn’t!   This fight scene was nearly a comic book battle leaping from the page and almost made the entire movie for me!  But the final fight scene was over done in my opinion.

Gyllenhaal is great as Mysterio and a natural addition to the MCU.  His backstory is tragic and unexpected!  He does a great job!  The stand out actors to me where Holland and Zendaya!  The scenes with Peter and MJ are the best of the film and they seem natural and absolutely believable.  I missed a bit of MJ’s awkwardness in this film, she seemed to go from Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club to the prom Queen everyone is suddenly chasing between movies and it felt unearned, but that’s not her fault it’s the writers. She was great in her role as is Holland.

 It just didn’t balance the Teen Romance and the Superheroics well in my opinion.  The superhero plot was basic,  I do give it points for tying itself into the past MCU films, but it was an underwhelming plot. Great acting and a wonderful soundtrack, nearly save this for me, but there has only been one MCU film I didn’t want to see again after I saw it in theatres, Captain Marvel, now there is two.  Far From Home isn’t terrible, but it isn’t amazing either, and with this cast and this legendary character that is the real shame.

Far From Home is better than MEH and close to Pretty Good, So I’m going with 3.5 Bills.  To be honest, I think Tom Holland can make the perfect Spider-Man movie, unfortunately I’m still waiting for it.

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  Remember, it was your votes on Twitter that even got her to go see this film!  She found Far From Home to capture all the ups and downs of High School life accurately.  It really took her back.
She did say this had all the “typical”attributes of superhero films, Superhero Vs Supervillain, hero chases girl, hero has funny sidekick that knows his secret, Hero forced to decide which path he will take in life, Yada, Yada,  Yada…..she was starting to doze early in this film.

But then she was taken in by Tom Holland’s performance.  She finds him absolutely, adorably lovable as Spider-man!  She found herself really liking MJ with all her quirks and mannerisms.  She started to really like them as a couple.  Their relationship kept her interested.  It was very believable and fun despite all the typical explosions and action scenes. She loved them as a couple and found herself paying attention and rooting for them more than if Spidey saved the day or not.  She also enjoyed seeing Aunt May move forward with her life and start a relationship.  She didn’t expect that and liked that addition a lot.

The villain (No spoilers) was slow to get to his point, but she was surprised by his plans and found him to be a clever and sly villain rather than one that simply overpowers their enemies!  She loved how he used his wits and mind rather than brute force to challenge our hero!  Wow, something different in a superhero movie! Who’d a thunk it?
She liked the various Spider-Man costumes used throughout the film and liked how they all served a purpose rather than just selling different toys or Halloween costumes.

But her favourite part was the End Credit scene!  Especially the first one!  It really pulled her in!  They got me!  She said.  I have to see just what Spider-Man is going to do now!  A huge endorsement from the woman who swore off superhero movies just a few weeks ago.  Now that’s a powerful end credit scene right there!

Overall, despite her positive feelings toward a movie she nearly skipped entirely, she still left saying She should have waited till Netflix to see it.  I had to correct her that it would probably be out on Disney +, Netflix and Disney would soon be parting ways.  I think that’s when she called me a nerd and warned me I could walk home.  She gives Far From Home 3.5 Bills.  Not quite Pretty Good, but not nearly as bad as she expected it to be.

On the way home, We talked about the villains plot, the kids, how great Holland and Zendaya were and how despite a lot of good things, the movie just left us uninspired.  I know people will hate this opinion, but we are just being honest.  It wasn’t bad, but man, with all the talent and money on the screen it really should have been …more.  Not quite an Amazing Spider-Man, not a Spectacular Spider-Man either, more like an Almost Pretty Good Spider-Man hence the 3.5 Bills average!  We both gave it the same 3.5 so its was a unanimous decision.

So until next time, remember we are just Your Friendly Neighborhood Moviie Couple!  Be sure to check out our Twitter or Facebook for a clue to our next movie review.  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) Review By Philip Henry

X-Men: Dark Phoenix Review

Director: Simon Kinberg
Screenwriter: Simon Kinberg
Stars: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender

If you’re keeping track of the X-Men timeline, you’re doing a better job than me. So after Days of Future Past an alternative timeline was created, and the other one was supposedly erased, which would be fine – Star Trek did this as well – but why did they then make the Logan movie from the erased timeline? Are we following the X-Men in multiple universes now? I think it’s fair to say whoever is running this franchise has painted themselves into a corner with this alternate timeline and have now have just abandoned all hope of trying to make sense of it.

So this is basically the same story as X-Men: The Last Stand where Jean Grey is reborn – to give them some credit, they do it in very different ways in the two films – and her powers are turned up to eleven. She becomes so powerful she can’t control herself and the X-Men have to choose between their colleague and the fate of humanity.

This film frustrated me more than anything. All the elements are there for a fantastic film about too much power being a corruptive influence – a very timely theme – and there are countless opportunities for drama in the tough decisions that have to be made, but the movie skips anything that would make you care about any of these characters and just jumps to the spectacle as soon as possible.

The movie begins with the X-Men being tasked with rescuing the space shuttle Endeavour after an unknown space phenomenon causes a total systems failure during their launch. It should be an exciting set-piece, but since we’ve spent little to no time with our heroes so far there’s no emotional connection to any of them when they’re in danger, and that’s a recurring failing throughout the film. Jessica Chastain shows up as a shape-shifting alien intent on taking over the world, but we’re given little more than an elevator pitch for her motivations, who her people are, or what this strange phenomenon is or where it came from. It feels like a five year-old was in charge of the edit and gave the instruction to skip over the talky bits and get to the explosions.

Most of the returning cast are doing their best with the material they have, but some popular characters like Quicksilver (Evan Peters) appear much too briefly, and then vanish for the rest of the film. For the first time Sophie Turner has to carry the film and I hate to say it, but I don’t think she pulls it off. I had much more empathy for Famke Janssen in this role and really believed her struggle to control the power within her, but Turner’s Phoenix flips from goodie to baddie with the flimsiest reasons and spends most of the film with a blank, emotionless look on her face. This is probably more a consequence of the cut & paste script (there were extensive reshoots of the ending) and amateur direction than her ability as an actor. Simon Kinberg has a long and distinguished track record as a producer, but his only other directing credit was an episode of Jordan Peele’s rebooted Twilight Zone. To take on a project of this scale as his first feature was madness; he’s way out of his depth and it shows.

If you want to compare it to Captain Marvel, which is also a film about a super-powerful female set in the 90s, you can see just how much Captain Marvel gets right and Dark Phoenix gets wrong. For a start, Dark Phoenix makes little to no mention that it actually IS the 1990s, where Captain Marvel played with the fashion and music and pushed a few nostalgia buttons (for some of us). Captain Marvel spends time telling us the hero’s backstory and personal relationships so we actually care when stuff happens to her, Dark Phoenix thinks it can accomplish the same thing by having a couple of quick smooches between Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) and Jean Grey.

I must have a little rant about the awful shoe-horning in of Jennifer Lawrence’s line: “Considering how often women save the day around here, you might think about changing the name of the group to X-Women.” Now I’m about as big a lefty, liberal feminist as you can get, but this is so clumsy. The X-Men have always been about diversity, back before it was fashionable. Back in 1963 they were already tackling these issues and anyone who doesn’t realise that mutants – those born differently through no fault of their own – were an allegory for homosexuality, race, etc. is missing the point. I always assumed the term X-Men was a gender-neutral term, much like in the original series of Star Trek where they called men and women Mister. It was a way of levelling the playing field and treating everyone the same. These flag-waving moments in films recently are just embarrassing. Sci-fi and fantasy have been giving messages of tolerance, equality and acceptance for decades, but subtly. Are people so much dumber now that they need this stuff spelled out in big clear letters?

Dark Phoenix is a terrible mish-mash of a movie with the bones of an amazing story at its core, but the writer/ director fails to address the elements that matter and instead jumps from one CG extravaganza to the next. For those of you who thought X-Men: The Last Stand was the weak link of the original trilogy, if you compare it to this, you might look at it now and see how good it actually is.

Captain Marvel (2019) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Captain Marvel Review, Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Writers: Anna Boden (screenplay by), Ryan Fleck (screenplay by)
Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Lashana Lynch, Annette Benning, Gemma Chan, Lee Pace, Clark Gregg

When it comes to superhero movies, I suppose kicking franchises off with an origin story is almost unavoidable. After all, not everyone’s a comic book reader, so explaining what compels a guy throw on a cape for the public good makes narrative sense (though Tim Burton’s Batman never bothered and it turned out just fine).

Even if that has a tendency to render a lot of superhero films somewhat predictable, Marvel has done a pretty remarkable job introducing everyone populating their cinematic universe. And rather ingeniously, Captain Marvel actually gives us two origin stories.

First, of course, is the story of Vers/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), whose circumstances leading to her emergence as the titular character are more interesting than those of Doctor Strange or an umpteenth reboot of Spider-Man. After a rather mundane opening act – a flashy-but-rote clash between the Kree and Skrulls – once Vers arrives on Earth in 1995, the story really takes off. She already has her considerable powers and stands-out like a sore thumb, leading to some amusing moments and frequent clashes with the shape-shifting Skrulls. Larson’s confident performance is enjoyable, displaying just the slightest bit of superiority over us puny humans (at least until she begins to remember where she came from).

Vers also meets Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Captain Marvel’s other origin story. At this time, Fury is just another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (made plausible by some Oscar-worthy CGI that makes Jackson look 25 years younger). One long-standing criticism I’ve had of the entire MCU is that, with the possible exception of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fury has never been given anything interesting to do. Here, Fury arrives early and does a lot more than provide exposition. Jackson is great, of course, like he’s been unleashed to make Fury funnier and more charismatic than we’ve previously seen, especially once he befriends Goose the Cat. How he came to need an eye-patch provides one of the film’s biggest laughs.

Elsewhere, Captain Marvel tells an interesting story that not-only fits comfortably within the MCU, but provides a few welcome, surprising twists. Speaking of which, can we give another tip-of-the-hat to Ben Mendelsohn, once-again stealing every scene he’s in? As Talos, not only does he make a terrific initial adversary, he’s personable and often very funny, no small feat considering he’s covered in alien make-up for most of the film.

Of course, Captain Marvel has plenty of the action and visual fireworks we’ve come to expect from the MCU (as well as a few moments of wonky CGI). But like the Ant-Man films, it never threatens to collapse under the weight of its own spectacle. As origin stories go, this is one of Marvel’s better recent ones.