Review: Doctor Strange (2016)

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“Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered and your time is short.”
– The Ancient One

SYNOPSIS: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts. – via IMDB

Goodness, it only took me forever to get to this! Finally I did so, and I must say, it is a Marvel film. It’s just what you expect. Good actors, decent story, decent effects, a silly love interest thrown into the mix, and some humour… you know, the regular recipe. This felt like your average Marvel film, which is both a good and a bad thing. It means you get a consistent viewing experience on the one hand, and on the other, it’s pretty generic and won’t stay with you forever. Yes. I said it.

I didn’t buy into the hype when this came and people lauded it. That is done for all Marvel releases, and only some of them are actually worthy of it. That being said, I was still interested to see what the studio would do with this, especially when I heard it get compared to things like Inception and The Matrix. I needed to see. I agree I can see where some of these comparisons come in, but unlike the other movies, there is not real stroke of brilliance here. For all the magic and sorcery that was spoken about, it just didn’t have the same vibe and feel here. It felt like things were rushed a bit, yet the movie felt overly long – yes, the pacing was a bit of an issue.

Doctor Strange did look good though. Really good. There were actually way too many effects going on for me, but I also think it was handled really well and looked awesome. The movie was also carried by an exceptionally good cast, and they all performed as best they could with the material they were given.  I think Cumberbatch was a fantastic choice to play Doctor Strange. There was the super awesome cape (I totally need one of those), and I enjoyed some of the humour. Wong was the best, and there was all sorts of mystical knowledge to be explored. It even had Mads Mikkelsen in it, peeps. But all of that could not save the movie. Ultimately it is rather forgettable. There is a very unfortunate love story squashed in, the pacing is all over the show, the story is actually pretty damn weak, and it never really goes for gold. Well, it feels like it doesn’t.

At the end of the day I was not bowled over as most people were. It is not a bad movie, not by a long shot. It is entertaining, looks good, and has an awesome cast attached to the project, these things cannot be denied. But the experience is pretty flat, there is nothing really new brought to the table, and it will not stay with you after all is said and done. For popcorn entertainment, it wasn’t bad, but it isn’t something I will be rushing to rewatch.

Rapid Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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captain america civil war poster

“I know we’re not perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.”
– Steve Rogers

SYNOPSIS: After another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps, one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability. – via IMDB


captain america civil war

I would also just like to take a moment to appreciate the raw power of this moment.

captain america civil war helicopter

Well. Well. Where do I even begin? Let’s start with the fact that this movie really shouldn’t have been flown under the Captain America banner – it could really have just been Civil War or even Marvel/Avengers: Civil War. This was essentially an Avengers movie, and you all know how huge a fan I am of that. So it shorts Thor and The Hulk, but they were mentioned a ton of times. I don’t know, I wanted a Captain America movie. He is my favourite Avenger, he is the only one who has individual movies I get excited about and adore, and then we got this one, so heavily reliant on Age of Ultron and all that happened there, and it was all about signing off on a document to regulate the Avengers team. Seriously. So they called it Captain America: Civil War because there was some extra Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier?

However, that being said, there was so much scrumptious Sebastian Stan for me. Oh hell yeah there was, hmmmm. I really liked the themes that were explored in the film, like friendship, opposing opinions, loyalty, standing up for what you believe in, conforming, moral responsibility, etc. The performances were all solid, though I really feel that this movie was juggling way too many characters, but still managed to do a relatively decent job with them all. I enjoyed the introduction of the Black Panther, and I freaking love the moves on this guy, so fluid and awesome. Marvel has again let us down on the villain, Baron Zemo. After The Winter Soldier, I was expecting darker, more hardcore villains. Zemo was underutilised here, and didn’t pack as much punch as he could have had he been set up better. I never felt shock and horror at any of the things that he did.

captain america civil war tony bucky steve fight

Steve finally kissing Sharon was a little rushed and out of place in the movie, it wasn’t properly set up (in this film), and then it was glossed over. The fighting sequences were great to look at, and the Russo’s really grasp that – that choreography, the movements, all of it is just amazing. The inclusion of Steve’s “I can do this all day” is another scene that thrilled me, it is something I expect from him. There were some interesting plot developments here, some of particular interest being carried by the Winter Soldier, which is great. Anyway, with too many characters to really talk too much about, Captain America: Civil War is an entertaining Avengers flick with more heart to it than the average Avengers film, solid performances, darker, a good movie, some solid humour and well worth watching.

So. Much. Delicious. Bucky.

captain america bucky barnescaptain america bucky and tony big fightcaptain america civil war winter soldier tony2captain america buckycaptain america bucky civil war

This totally sums up Captain America: Civil War.

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Jessica Jones: Season 1 (2015)

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jessica jones season 1

What I liked:

  • The opening credits were pretty cool.
  • Kilgrave. While I feel he has been immensely overhyped, he is the best thing about this show, without a doubt. David Tennant did a great job here, when he was finally allowed to play with the character.

jessica jones tennant

What I didn’t like:

  • Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones. I don’t know, she came across as super forced, wasn’t hardcore or scary or cool or anything. If anything, she was annoying, which is a pity.
  • How preachy the show got about race at times. It was unnecessary.
  • The gratuitous sex all over the show. Really, like the third episode featured Jessica banging Luke four times. Four. In one damn episode. And it doesn’t contribute to the plot whatsoever, so it was totally uncalled for and awkward and useless.
  • The build up to actually seeing Kilgrave was way better than the payoff. The whole thing was just meh.
  • The characters. They are flat and uninteresting. I am really not a fan of any of them.
  • How magnificently everything just so happens to line up. Events, coincidences, etc. Not feeling right.
  • Kilgrave’s whole mission? He’s in love with Jessica. Really. After all that, it was some pussyfooting around that the show settled on.

jessica jones asshole

Rating:
GRADE 4
I started this hoping I was going to get another Daredevil. I should have known better. I don’t even know why I got my hopes up – just seeing Krysten Ritter should have been enough for me, but there were rave reviews, and I got hopeful. I mean, private investigator? Dark, gritty, violent? Check. Well, ouch. I really feel that the plot for this show is incredibly messy and all over the show, and introduces absolutely no characters to give a crap about, so it is an exceptionally hollow experience watching continually and not caring. It feels like I was investing my valuable time for no payoff, and that is not a feeling I wish to revisit again. This show is way too overhyped, and so is Kilgrave. While he is, undoubtedly, the best thing about this show, his introduction was sloppy, and his potential was never actually realised. I kept waiting for the really big bad to break out and make an appearance, which never happened. Krysten Ritter, too, is an actress that irrationally annoys the shit out of me (Abbi, you really should copyright that term). She brought nothing to the table, nothing to the character. She always came across as though she was trying too hard and uncomfortable, and not in a sense where you feel that from the character. Heck, she never believably became the character. Another thing I took major issue with is the gratuitous sex all over the show. I really don’t mind sex scenes, I would prefer them to contribute to the story, but we cannot all be so lucky. However, when there is just sex thrown in (four times in one episode!) because you have no plot to work with, things are no longer alright. It was over the top and gross, seriously, I know I sound like a prude but come off it. It contributed nothing. I honestly found Jessica Jones to be a bland affair that was a real chore to get through and brought nothing original to the table. There was potential, but poor casting decisions, storytelling and plot ruined it all completely. I cannot say that I wish to be watching more, and I am really not looking forward to seeing this join up with the vastly superior Daredevil.

jessica jones luke cage fight

Rapid Review: Blade (1998)

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blade movie poster

“There’s a war going on out there. Blade, myself, a few others, we’ve tried to keep it from spilling over onto the streets. Sometimes people like yourself get caught in the cross fire.”
– Whistler

SYNOPSIS: A half-vampire, half-mortal man becomes a protector of the mortal race, while slaying evil vampires. – via IMDB

blade fighting spins

GRADE 7.5Ah, Blade. What can I say? I am a fan. I loved the hell out of this when I was growing up, and I still have so much fun when revisiting it. There is so much to love about this movie. The cheese, the super exaggerated corny punchlines, the semi-sketchy acting… all of that just comes together to give us Blade. One of the more grittier comic movies of its time, it still holds up pretty well even after all these years. The plot is not as intricate as it could have been, but it was just what it needed to be to market us a successful action film. Granted, the CGI hasn’t really aged that well, and there are times that it doesn’t look as great as you would like, but if you watched this film when it was released, you will know what I mean when I say that this was just pure action and fun, not being inundated behind way too much history or talking or anything. They lace Blade’s story into the narrative very quickly, and then they move right on from that to hunting and killing monsters, and it is a pretty sweet ride to go with. Also, these vampires don’t sparkle. Do you remember what it was like to actually have vampires that didn’t glitter in the sun and carry on like a bunch of sissies? Yeah, I remember those days. That’s what you expect from a vampire flick. Wesley Snipes dominated as Blade, Kris Kristofferson is a wonderful Whistler and I like his no-nonsense attitude, and N’Bushe Wright was pretty much on the periphery for me as Dr Jenson, not interesting enough to become vested in, but not boring enough to be completely forgotten. Stephen Dorff stepped up for his role of evil Deacon Frost, and he was pretty good, worthy of standing opposite Blade. I don’t know how much someone would enjoy this movie if they didn’t see it before the comic book films of our current day and age stepping in to dominate the box office, as it doesn’t follow quite the same recipe that most are used to nowadays. However, there is a reason that Blade was so popular, and considered a cult classic.

Daredevil: Season 1 (2014)

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daredevil season 1

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • The intro. I loved the drippy, bleeding black and red and awesome all over, and the theme song fit so perfectly and got stuck in my head for days, which was quite the annoyance.
  • How dark and gritty this show is. I really didn’t have much hope, and watched this purely because Cara was gushing about it. Getting to it, it is no lighthearted affair, though there is plenty humour sprinkled throughout it. Instead it gives us a dark and brooding character and a great villain for him to stand against. Not only that, there was a sense of realism to things, even where others are just slightly too fantastical, the vast majority of the show (like how the bad guys are, corruption, etc) actually seems viable.
  • The casting. I know that my fiancé might want to shoot Charlie Cox due to characters he has played in the past, but I think that he was perfect for this. He truly brought Matt Murdock/Daredevil to life, Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson needs credit, as well as Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page. The actors all seem to gel nicely with one another, too, which is always a good thing.
  • The big bad guys. I am talking here about Toby Leonard Moore’s James Wesley and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk. Both are great characters, and I was a huge fan of Wesley. The guy was so calm and creepy and incredibly well spoken and groomed up the wazoo and loyal to Fisk. Then there is Fisk himself, who was insane. He starts out so calm, cool, collected, and his introduction was delayed and perfectly executed, but then he starts unravelling. And trust me, what’s underneath isn’t really pretty. You go from feeling for him to thinking he’s just gone off the rails, plain and simple.
  • The choreography. Really, it was great, and looked way better than what you expect from superhero series.
  • The violence. I know this might be what kills it for a few people, but I think it was necessary. It got right down to how screwed up everything is, and how rough things have gotten and who sits where on the pecking order. It also helps a lot with development of certain characters, plot, as well as reveals and such.
  • The origin stories. Granted, we actually only got to see the stories of Murdock and Fisk, but just the way the two were handled and sprinkled throughout the season was clever. Not too much, not too little, and consistently, always giving you a little something to chew on, heartbreak and happiness, all laced throughout it. It really gives you more insight into the choices of the two, as well as their thought processes.
  • The camera work. It was clean, smooth, followed the action, and was used seamlessly to focus attention where it was needed, when it was needed. It was never jarring.
  • The humour. It was dark, and used sparingly, so it has a pretty cool flavour when it finally does come around.
  • The character development. Seriously, Matt goes from this attorney digging around some dark things, to this part-time vigilante, to this full-fledged crime fighter, losing friends and putting his life in danger all the time. As for Fisk? He goes from this unnamed terror to someone we see, don’t understand so we step closer, then get zapped with the level of crazy housed in that man. I just cannot wait to find out more about these two!
  • The build up to the suit. The suit wasn’t there from the off, which also means we get a Matt Murdock who is becoming Daredevil, becoming a vigilante, not someone in the thick of things and we must all play catch up. Let me tell you, it works. Matt struggling to find a way to fit that into his life, the simple black suit, his intensity? Great. Then we finally get to see the suit, and none of this Smallville pussyfooting around where we watched ten goddamned seasons for a few second payoff in the last damn episode. It was so worth the wait… except the mask (which I will discuss just now).

daredevil matt murdock

What I didn’t like:

  • To be very honest, I was so excited to see the suit. When it eventually made an appearance, I really liked it but then it got to the mask and… well… it sucks. It doesn’t do the suit any justice and doesn’t fit overall, which is a real pity.
  • The way that Wilson Fisk talks sometimes. I thoroughly enjoy the character and D’Onofrio does such a great job, but sometimes the way he talks is disjointed and annoying and doesn’t always gel.
  • How quickly things suddenly because “Matt, Foggy and Karen”, like one big happy family with virtually nothing to connect the dots to how we got there. She also just stepped in, from being a client, to thinking she has a say in their friendship, etc. At times that got a bit grating. Also, while we are at it, Karen could be real demanding sometimes, but I do like her.
  • How quickly Foggy moved from Karen back to Marci. Left me reeling a little bit because there was no real rise to it, it just wham happened. Alrighty then…

daredevil wilson fisk

Rating:
GRADE 8.5So when I went in for this, I didn’t really have too much hope. Constantine left a sour taste in my mouth (though I still intend on finishing it) and I never made it through the first season of Arrow, among other things, just so you can understand my excitement. Now, all sarcasm aside and all, I was hooked on Daredevil within minutes. Not even joking here. There is just so much right with this, so much that works and amazes and engages you and keeps you coming back for more. Plus two, I love the fact that all these episodes come at once. It means that I can binge without guilt and without having to wait for it to finish before I can get to what has been happening for weeks. There were other, smaller things that I also appreciated, such as the fact that Matt would take a beating and actually look like it the next day (hem hem Banshee), and it wouldn’t disappear overnight, which was also really cool. I absolutely adored the friendship between Matt and Foggy, it was super sweet and came together so well, and also bringing in Father Lantom, nice and slowly, not just there and that is that. Daredevil is certainly dark and not for kids, and it is most likely why I am a fan of it. It is not inundated by silly cheese and lack of drama and a story. Instead, we have interesting characters, plots coming together smoothly, bad guys you can identify with (again, the perfect villain is one you also want to see succeed), good guys you can understand but aren’t so perfect they seem unnatural, and events that get you thinking. Everything is slowly and deliberately built on, too, which is awesome, instead of some rush job. The show takes its time introducing you to people and places and moving things along. I mean Fisk himself didn’t make a physical appearance until much later on, which is why I think it was so successful to spend a few episodes showing how people didn’t really say his name and how terrified they were of him. Nice going guys! Ben was a great character, too, and I really loved to see how he pushed for investigation, honesty, integrity and the truth in a time where nobody seemed to care too much. Ben was a solid character to have around and brought quite a bit to the table. I thoroughly enjoyed DeKnight saying that the Matt Murdock they were going for should be one bad day away from The Punisher (check the article here). I think that they nailed this. Charlie Cox truly was the answer for this role here, I love what he has done with the character, and Elden Henson was just right for the comic relief we needed from time to time. Anyway, obviously I don’t have much to complain about. I would highly recommend checking Daredevil out, whether you are a superhero fan or suffering from superhero fatigue, there is a lot of good stuff going on here that deserves the chance to be checked out. I promise, you won’t regret it!

daredevil avocados at lawDaredevil-Fist-Bump

Natasha’s Marvellous Mondays

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marvel logo

Hey guys!

So Natasha over at Life of this City Girl is doing an awesome Marvel run, getting reviews from guests as well as watching a bunch of the Marvel movies herself to post on Mondays. Some of you have seen this and gotten involved, some of you haven’t. If you haven’t, you should totally get cracking on this, it’s been really fun! Goodness knows there are a million Marvel movies and we have all seen a bunch – a load we like, and a load that sucked. Either way, let’s each grab one of these  films and try and get a review for all of them!

You can read the rules here, but basically it boils down to a review!

(Mikey, Melissa, I really thought Howard the Duck would have been snatched up by one of you!! I mean really now?!)

Anyhow, here is a list of the movies. Drop her a mail at natashastander@gmail.com or comment here to let her know which film you would like to talk about! Much fun people, much fun, let’s do this! 🙂

Title: Year:
Captain America 1944
Howard the Duck 1986
The Punisher 1989
Captain America 1990
The Fantastic Four 1994
Blade 1998
X-Men 2000
Blade II 2002
Spider-Man 2002
Daredevil 2003
X2 2003
Hulk 2003
The Punisher 2004
Spider-Man 2 2004
Blade: Trinity 2004
Elektra 2005
Man-Thing 2005
Fantastic Four 2005
X-Men: The Last Stand 2006
Ghost Rider 2007
Spider-Man 3 2007
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer 2007
Iron Man 2008
The Incredible Hulk 2008
Punisher: War Zone 2008
X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2009
Iron Man 2 2010
Thor 2011
X-Men: First Class 2011
Captain America: The First Avenger 2011
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 2012
Marvel’s The Avengers 2012
The Amazing Spider-Man 2012
Iron Man 3 2013
The Wolverine 2013
Thor: The Dark World 2013
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2014
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 2014
X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy 2014

Review: Earth X (1999) – The IPC

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I grew up reading comics – nothing made me happier than my Gramps giving me five dollars and I would head down to the local 7-11 and come back with a bundle of comic books. X-Men, Spiderman, The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, The Justice League, Nova, Mister Miracle,  etc. I would also get an Icee (the original Icees can never be beat or replicated) and some Tangy Taffy and lay around on the floor of my Grandparents’ house and read comics, eat candy and listen to records. Those were the days, huh? No computers, no cable, no cell phones, no nothin’ really. Just good times. God damn that makes me nostalgic.  CRY CRY CRY. JB – you probably never even knew life without a computer did you?

ED: Surprisingly, I actually did. I only got my hands on one when I was much older haha!

Anyway, back in the day, we used to get our comics once a month and then the comics guys got smart (money making wise) and started putting out yearly “Annuals”. The Annuals were more expensive, longer and usually a little more dark. They could get away with using words like “damn” instead of “blast” or “curses” and maybe even slip in a little bit of Storm’s nipple. WOO HOO Young Eric! Eventually they got even smarter and started adding characters from other franchises. A Hawkeye might pop up in a Spiderman Annual or The X-Men might face off against The Avengers. If we got really lucky, we might even cross companies and get a Marvel vs DC mashup: X-Men vs The Teen Titans and such.

All of that was good fun and such but then something stupid happened: they started doing crossover series. For example, DC’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. It was an EXCELLENT mini series – no doubt – epic and the art was phenomenal, but, in an act of marketing savvy, if you wanted to keep up with EVERYTHING that was going on, you had to buy the twelve issues of the mini series AND numerous copies of things you wouldn’t normally buy. If I wanted to know what was going on with Superboy in “Crisis #2” I had to go find copies of “Superboy #321-324” and “Flash #471 – 473”. That was a big pain in my young ass. And it was HIGHLY successful…. So EVERYONE started doing it.

I don’t know if that was what put me off of comics or the fact that I turned 16 and started chasing tail, but I was out of the comics game for a long number of years until I got my new job and discovered Amazon. These days you can collect crossover series like “Crisis” in one nice little Trade Paperback for 20 bucks or so and they usually include the crossover issues towards the end.

So – if anyone is even still paying any attention, EARTH-X in one such crossover series and it’s FUCKING FANTASTIC!! That’s no lie. To be honest – it’s a long read, difficult at times, but if you can invest the time, it’s totally worth it. If you’re familiar, the cover paintings by Alex Ross are things of beauty and the art by John Paul Leon and Bill Reinhold is AMAZING. And – it’s incredibly EPIC, utilizing almost EVERY character Marvel has ever published.

I suppose, by now, you might be wondering what the fuck this has to do with Zoë’s X-Men run? Starting at the Dawn of Man, the aging and dying Uato (The Watcher) summons Machine Man to become the new Watcher. He promptly explains how man originated and adds that man was never supposed to be just a human, every single person has a seed in them to become a mutant. He goes through time explaining people like the Sub Mariner and Captain America and others and then allows Machine Man to look at real time (which is the future).

On Earth now, EVERYONE has mutated and the scope here is pretty fucking amazing. Since I was out of the comics game for so long, I don’t really know a lot of the characters in here but it’s really kind of awe inspiring. Spiderman is fat, so is Wolverine, Iron man is OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD and Reed Richards has become Doctor Doom. The Hulk is a monster wearing a diaper and Bruce Banner is a little kid riding on his back. Ben Grimm has two rock-y kids who wear overalls (how could she have popped out those babies????) and Colossus has a goatee. There’s also a new Daredevil who is really fucking cool and Galactus (my favorite character) makes an appearance towards the end – thank goodness!

I suppose that’s enough writing for the good reader – this is an epic story but it does take quite an investment of time – but it’s worth it : ) There’s also two follow ups: Universe – X and Paradise – X. Those are both equally long and filled with too much dialogue but I didn’t enjoy them as much because the artwork between the covers is shit compared to what’s in “Earth”.


Eric, thank you so very much for getting involved with my X-Men blogathon, I truly appreciate it! YOU ARE A STAR!!