reviews

At 63, two-time Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington doesn’t need a franchise, superhero-related or otherwise, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to participate in an ongoing series, if mostly for box-office viability (just ask Tom Cruise and an A-list career sustained in large part due to the continuing success of the Mission: Impossible series). Not surprisingly, the Washington we meet in The Equalizer 2 is older, slower, even heavier, but that doesn’t stop his character, Robert McCall, an ex-CIA black ops operative, from easily dispatching men several decades younger without breaking as much as a sweat or suffering superficial paper cuts. Believable? Maybe, maybe not, but with Washington contributing the focus, commitment, and dedication typical of an Oscar-worthy or Oscar-caliber effort, believability almost doesn’t matter. What does matter, though, is The Equalizer 2 suffers from a been-there, seen-it-all-before quality that ultimately delivers minimal, marginal entertainment value (one or two or three scenes excepted).

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Hulu hit a home run when in June, 2017 they premiered The Handmaid’s Tale as a Hulu Original. A classic sci-fi dystopian novel, the story’s transition to tv show sizzled across the internet. Once it aired, people were even more abuzz. The show became a drama darling, praised by casual and critical viewers alike.

This summer, The Handmaid’s Tale came back for another round. And boy was it something. But is the second season able to live up to the praises of the first?

Yes and no.  (more…)

After sitting through Dwayne “No Longer The Rock” Johnson’s third film in less than a year, Skyscraper, you won’t believe a man can fly – Christopher Reeve as Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent got there first forty years ago and he was wearing spandex and a cape – but you’ll believe Johnson’s one-legged character, Will Sawyer, can leap tall buildings (not leap over, however) to save his family from a burning mega-skyscraper and the rando, vaguely European terrorists who started the fire to steal an ultra-high value MacGuffin. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before from one of the hardest working performers in Hollywood (three films in seven months, with another half-dozen on the way over the next two or three years), but for Johnson’s super-fans, it’ll be more than enough to overlook Skyscraper’s paper-thin, second-rate plot – a mash-up of Die Hard, The Towering Inferno and every action-film cliché in between – forgettable, throwaway villains, a plot and setting deliberately geared toward Asian-Pacific audiences, and mediocre action scenes lathered in CGI spectacle.

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Five years ago, a C- or even D-level superhero carrying his own standalone franchise seemed like a risky proposition, but where Marvel – and more specifically the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) – goes, moviegoers have followed (10 years, 20 movies, and counting), with little or no signs of boredom. It’s helped that the MCU has Marvel’s 60-year (give or take a few years) history to pick and choose from, but it’s also helped that Marvel’s leadership, specifically uber-producer Kevin Feige, have pushed the boundaries of what the superhero genre can offer mainstream audiences, while giving an increasingly diverse group of filmmakers creative opportunities unusual for corporate-owned, billion-dollar franchises. For Edgar Wright and his long-in-the-making Ant-Man, that didn’t happen. He left the production months before shooting began over “creative differences,” but Marvel being Marvel, they pushed on with Peyton Reed taking over for Wright. Wright’s fans might have been disappointed, but the Reed-directed Ant-Man still managed to deliver quality superhero thrills. Spoiler alert: Ant-Man and the Wasp (the first MCU film to headline a female character) does Ant-Man better in just about every way (e.g., story, character, and visuals). (more…)

“You only live as long as the last person who remembers you,” Akecheta, played by Fargo alum Zahn McClarnon, tells Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) at the midpoint of episode four. Sounds like wise words and that advice received some clarification in this episode: “Kiksuya,” directed by Uta Briesewitz.

The title of this week’s episode translates from the Lakota language as “remember.”  The episode is almost exclusively the story of the Lakota tribe in Westworld and specifically Akecheta.

Here is a recap and as usual SPOILERS abound!!!

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The title of this week’s episode is Les Écorchés.  It translates from the French to mean “a painting or sculpture of a human figure with the skin exposed to display the musculature.”  In this case, it seems to refer to the reveal of the purpose of the park and the creation of Bernard.  This episode could have been called “In Memoriam” and it would have been just as appropriate.

Here is a quick recap filled with SPOILERS!!!!

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When Disney purchased LucasFilm – and with it, the Star Wars universe – from George Lucas, it was clear their plans didn’t just include a new trilogy (it did), but franchise building and expansion through spin-offs, prequels, TV shows (animated so far, live-action in the near future), novels, and comic books. It was, however briefly, an exciting time for longtime Star Wars fans, but Disney, guided by the corporate conservatism that puts a premium on low-risk, high-reward decision making over originality, creativity, and imagination, led first to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a wholly unnecessary, semi-satisfying prequel that explored the how, if not the why, a small group of rebels stole the Death Star’s plans from the fearsome Empire, and now, after the high-profile departure of co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The LEGO Movie) and their almost immediate replacement by Oscar winning, hit-hunting Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13), Solo: A Star Wars Story, the Han Solo post-Revenge of the Sith and pre-A New Hope origin story we didn’t know we wanted or needed. Spoiler alert: Need or want aside, Solo: A Star Wars Story delivers everything we’ve come to love about the Star Wars universe: action, character, humor, and spectacle. (more…)

Releasing a second- or third-tier superhero flick, especially an ultra-violent, superhero comedy over the Valentine’s Day weekend seemed like a joke in and of itself, a joke financed to the tune of $60 million (modest for superhero flicks, a significant chunk of change for anything else), but that’s exactly the gamble 20th-Century Fox decided to take two years ago with the R-rated, Ryan Reynolds-starring Deadpool. More than $780 million dollars later and Fox’s gamble didn’t look a gamble at all. It looked like a low-risk, high-reward perfectly rational, perfectly reasonable decision. A sequel – the first of many presumably – was inevitable (movie studios are for-profit corporations after all), but with Reynolds, here taking a co-writing credit in addition to slipping back into Deadpool’s red-and-black spandex outfit, and some smart, clever lifts from Deadpool’s extensive comic-book history, the result, Deadpool 2: When Deadpool Met Cable (And Fell into a Mutual Admiration Society), gives fans more of the same (as expected), but also gives the same fans far more (definitely unexpected). (more…)

You know what’s fun or rather NOT fun? Checking out the User Reviews sections of both Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 1 And Vol 2 on IMDB.com. After reading the sea of effusively negative reviews (which is what this writer made the fatal mistake in doing prepping for this article/review) one might pause for second and question whether or not these were delightfully fun movies. You know what…STRIKE that, don’t go down that rabbit hole. Don’t let anyone shit in your cornflakes. These movies are joyful nonsense with charm, action, and heart… and we wouldn’t have them any other way! And hey, at the very least, they star Chris Pratt. Yeah…let’s talk about “The Pratt”. Oh what a glorious beefcake of a man, with his twin Pew Pew guns (his actual guns, not his well defined arms), cocky attitude, appealing charisma, and amicable buffoonery. He’s a “Star-Lord” indeed, amiright? Alright…alright… enough with homoerotic/man-crush overtones here. Sufficed to say, Christ (that was a typo but oops happy accident) Pratt’s Star-Lord, is one of Marvel Universe BEST if not most affable characters

Hey…psst… want a little piece of this swashbuckler in the stars? Well…Pratt is single now but that’s a Christian Mingle you’ll never catch. What you CAN do, however, is buy up the bestest little Star-Lord collectible this side of the Galaxy.   (more…)