Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Post Reminds Audiences Why Hanks, Streep, and Spielberg Are Still The Best In The Business

The 2017 award season has arrived and with it comes it's batch of movies released with the hope of garnering some major awards recognition, particularly from The Golden Globes and Oscars. One of the films that managed to find good fortune during awards season and ended up as being one of the 2018 Best Picture Oscar nominees for Best Picture is Steven Spielberg's The Post. Starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, The Post is a period piece drama that essentially shows the fight to tell the truth to millions of Americans, and the realization that telling the truth is much harder than it is writing it. While Spielberg is particularly known for his iconic spectacle pieces such as Jaws, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Schindlers List, and Saving Private Ryan, he also carves out quieter and well put together human dramas whether historical pieces or telling a more personal story. The Post is a unique opportunity for Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Meryl Streep to all showcase their respective talents as well as remind audiences, that they are the best in the business and can still prove to be a terrific trio when they all work together.

      The Post is a character driven and well-written historical piece, that puts characters and story first before anything else. The story for The Post centers around a cover-up, that spanned a total of four U.S Presidents regarding the War with Vietnam. The cover-up pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher as well as a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between the press and the government. With The Post, Hanks delivers another strong performance even if it feels as if Meryl Streep outweighs him with her performance as her characters arc is the heart of the story. Streep brings a sense of professionalism to her roles, that always makes them feel special. There hasn't been a time one can recall where her performances did not feel like she was giving her all. Hanks and Spielberg continue to prove that they are one of Hollywood's most ideal dream teams with their collaborations bringing forth some well received dramas such as Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, and The Bridge Of Spies. Audiences know by now that when these two are paired together on a project, there's a good chance the end result will be a stellar project. Spielberg directs the film with restraint, allowing the actors freedom to play their characters to their full potential and let the drama unfold. With Spielberg directing the story, he makes the audience feel as if they are in the room with these characters and witnessing the struggle in regards to releasing The Pentagon Papers to the public.

       As far as The Posts technical aspects go, the film is beautiful to look at thanks to its grand Cinematography as well as the films Costume Design and Art-Set Decoration. John Williams, whose been a frequent collaborator with Spielberg since his early days as a director does a fine job with keeping an effective yet low-key score that hits home at the right moments. The editing is perfect giving the movie a tight pacing, that doesnt make it feel too slow but also doesn't move too fast either. The big speeches delivered throughout the film whether by Hanks or Streep not only are key moments, but also help glue the films story together with audio from Richard Nixon being used in a couple of scenes but is effective, especially near the end. The films opening scene in Vietnam gives the film a 70s Apocalypse Now feel, giving audiences the impession that they are watching a different type of film before fast-forwarding into a newspaper drama thats essentially a champion for freedom of speech. Spielberg has stated in recent interviews that he made The Post with a sense of urgency in regards to today's political climate regarding the attack on the media by the current administration as well as what people deem to be reality or "fake news". Watching The Post, one totally gets the vibe that Spielberg was directing the story with parallels being drawn between the timeframe in the movie as well as today's world.

        The Post deserves its stature as being one of the strongest movies of the year to qualify for recognition by the Oscars, especially Meryl Streep in her terrific as usual lead actress performance as a first female newspaper publisher struggling to handle her job position that's heavily male dominated, and fighting to get the truth unveiled regarding massive government cover-ups regarding the Vietnam War. Streep role was not only well deserving of its Oscar nomination, but also how her character is inspirational to women in other job positions struggling to maintain their job titles. The Post is unquestionably one of the years best movies and reaffirms Spielbergs status as being one of the greatest filmmakers alive as he can take the source material and craft an absorbing historical drama, that ended up being a triumph for the newspaper. What was used as an obvious marketing tool to put Spielberg, Hanks, and Streep together for the project proved to be a great strategy as it pays off with the three household names doing fantastic jobs. Spielberg Succeeds in crafting a story, that celebrates a newspapers right to conduct free speech as well as uncover hidden truths within the government. Hearing Nixon's final audio that revealed his disdain for The Washington Post is chilling as it mirrors the conflict between today's media outlets and the current political atmosphere. The Post comes with a timely message that says the press is tasked with serving the governed, not the governing, and that the people deserve to always be told the truth. However revealing the truth to the public can be it's own battle to do so. The film just serves as further proof that Spielberg, Hanks. and Streep when joined together can still tell a solid story. One of the best movies of the year.

                                                                                                              Final Verdict: SEE IT

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle Is The Pleasant Surprise Fans Hoped It To Be

The 2017 winter box office season has brought forward several box office smashes and surprise blockbusters (Not Justice League unfortunately) from Thor: Ragnarock to CoCo to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  What was essentially viewed as being a winter season, that would conclude with The Last Jedi completely taking over the box office, audiences were surprised to see direct competition take on the blockbuster sequel to The Force Awakens from a sequel that almost no fans of the original Jumanji asked for nor cared to see. What shocked audiences upon its release was not that Hollywood dared to make a long distant sequel to the original Jumanji that starred Robin Williams, but that the reviews coming out for it were surprisingly very strong saying it honors the first movies legacy while taking the franchise in a new direction, creating an alternate fun ride. Along with Jumanji's surprisingly energetic reviews, the real impressive fact was how it gained steam at the box office with its weekend gains increasing throughout the holiday season and eventually overtaking The Last Jedi at the box office. Suddenly the box office story of the winter 2017 was not The Last Jedi's stellar box office opening nor the large division between the fans over the quality of the film, but how Jumanji defied all expectations and took the box office crown from what was supposed to be one of the most highly anticipated sequels ever. Having now seen Welcome To The Jungle, one can say with ease that the sequel to Jumanji most definitely deserved its success, and actually proves to be a great deal of fun on its own terms.

       Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is not the sequel that fans of the first movie asked for, but it's the one that surprises with how much fun it is while paying the utmost respect to the original film. Going into the sequel, the filmmakers knew that no one wanted to see a remake of the original otherwise it would be a disastrous flop in the making, so instead they chose to make a distant sequel that begins a year from the events of the first movie, where the audience last saw the board game washing up on a beach and going from there with the new twist being instead of the story revolving around a board game, it is now a video game. The new concept fits beautifully with the new generation of audiences as young people in today's world, are more into video games compared to the first movies concept of playing a boardgame 22 years ago. The new concept proves to be bold and gives the new film a fresh feeling with both the story and concept with equal amounts of fun and adventure. The original Jumanji film for its time was a fun family adventure, that was clever and entertaining due to its slick concept of a board game carrying with it a special power that releases a host of dangers unless the players of the game stop them by completing the game. The concept of Welcome To The Jungle plays out similar with a young boy uncovering a magic video game, that sucks him into the world of Jumanji in a similar vein to Robin Williams. The story centers around four other teenagers becoming sucked into the magical video game, now inheriting the body of adults. The four young teens realize that the only way they can escape Jumanji is by working together to finish the game.

        Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is certainly not the first movie nor has Robin Williams as it's main star, but the film proves to be as fun, clever, witty, and surprising of a thrill ride as audiences would hope for it to be. What makes Jumanji work as a successful sequel and reboot is not just that the film is well written as an action, adventure, comedy, but how well it's main stars perform together and demonstrate strong chemistry as a team. From the young teen cast delivering strong and believable performances, the adult roles are even better with Dwayne Johnson delivering an awesome performance as the nerdy kid Spencer turned macho leader of the group, Kevin Hart surprising with playing a more straight-forward character named Fridge going from being the sports athlete of the group to playing a more vulnerable part once sucked into the video game world of Jumanji. Jack Black does a great job and steals the show as Bethany, the young female in the group whose more concerned about her looks and popularity in school experiencing a midlife crisis in the game when she realizes she inherits a man's body. Karen Gillan shines as Martha, the smart love interest to Dwayne Johnsons character, who enters the game inheriting a sexy new form that allows her new physical looks to become a tool in helping everyone escape Jumanji alive. The cast of Jumanji is essential to the movies success as they provide the laughter for the audience as well as help sell the video game concept of the story. Whereas the first movie showed the consequences of playing the board game outside of the environment of Jumanji, Welcome To The Jungle brings the main characters as well as the audience into the world that Robin Williams was stuck inside for 26 years, even giving his character a worthy homage at one point. Seeing the Jumanji world gives the storyline a new angle as well as a breath of fresh air compared to repeating the same story functions of the first film. What could've ended up being a complete redo of the first film that would've been an automatic fail in many fans eyes as no one was interested in redoing the first movie, turned out to be the winters surprise smash hit as well as a sequel, that stands as it's own story while paying homage to its predecessor as well as expanding the Jumanji storyline for another future installment. One can only hope it continues to surprise audiences and defy expectations much like this one did.

      Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is the sequel to Jumanji, that manages to live up to the hopes that fans had for it while defying all expectations set that the film would fail. What makes Welcome To The Jungle thrive and succeed is not that it's continuing the Jumanji story nor flipped its concept to being a videogame, but rather the film is full of heart and made with great care in terms of preserving the first movies legacy while reintroducing the concept for a new generation. For a sequel that virtually no fans of the first movie wanted, Welcome To The Jungle does extremely well of entertaining fans while being a nice surprise. The key to enjoying both movies to their maximum potential is to separately first film from the new movie and judge them as their own films. Welcome To The Jungle never disrespects the legacy of the original nor Robin Williams, but shows a clear interest in introducing a new generation of audiences to the world of Jumanji that dazzled moviegoers 22-years prior. Welcome To The Jungle Succeeds because of a charming cast and it's hilarious twist involving the teens turning into adults in the game with the videogame aspect of Jumanji giving the story a fresh new approach, that was needed and also feels relevant as young teenagers play videogames nowadays compared to playing boardgames. As a piece of entertainment, Jumanji is solid and has a great deal to offer in regards to delivering adventure and laughs. Much like a videogame, Jumanji doesn't deliver deep character development and exposition, but instead puts the cast together and makes them work together in order to survive while taking the audience on a hilarious journey. The film essentially feels like a videogame adaptation of The Breakfast Club with how the story starts out involving four teens being brought into this new world and forced to find their way out of it together while becoming closer friends along the way. What Welcome To The Jungle lacks in the presence of Robin Williams or James Horner's heartfelt score that went great with the theme of a young boy becoming a man throughout his experience of being sucked into a boardgame, Jumanji more than makes up or it with its awesome cast, well-written and clever screenplay, and the same level of energy that made the first film a hit with audiences. Welcome To The Jungle is well deserving of its critical and box office success, while also managing to be one of the most entertaining movies of the winter season hands down. If one hasn't seen Welcome To The Jungle yet, this is the fun ride to take if one is looking to have a good time.

                                                                                                          Final Verdict: SEE IT

Bright Is A Clever Concept That Never Reaches Its True Potential

The 2017 set of winter films has arrived with many of them looking very promising to audiences. With the 2017 award season of films being released along with the winter batch of films, one of the stranger and more unique releases is Netflix's Bright starring Will Smith and Exodus: Gods And Kings Joel Edgerton, written and directed by Suicide Squad writer David Ayer. Whereas all the other winter film's got limited to wide releases in theaters, Bright became a motion picture event on Netflix, that drew blockbuster ratings due to the star power of the film's lead, fulfilling the popular online sites hope of making a trilogy out of Brights intriguing concept. Despite being one of the most watched Netflix programs ever, the film was savagely torn apart by critics for its unusual blending of gritty cop drama mixed with a fantasy storyline, that mirrors Lord Of The Rings. Despite the critics denouncing it, the film was warmly embraced by audiences, who have given the film high praise along with blockbuster viewership. Having seen the film out of curiosity due to Will Smith reverting to do a Netflix film instead of a wide theatrical release as well as being intrigued by the polar opposite opinions of both audiences and critics, one can say that Bright is neither a terrible film nor is as good as it could've been with such an intriguing and clever concept.

      Bright feels like a combination of three films all rolled into one. The first being an old 1980's Science Fiction classic titled Alien Nation starring James Cann. The story plays out in a similar story structure fashion to Bright with a human cop being paired up with an alien one to work a case together after the aliens were integrated into regular society. Like how Bright shows the discrimination and prejudice towards Orcs, Alien Nation deals with a cops own prejudice towards his partner whose of another species, but later comes around to respect him. The film embodies the concept of Alien Nation while borrowing the Orc subplot from Lord Of The Rings as well as the gritty realism of the story from Training Day. Directed by David Ayer who helmed Suicide Squad, End Of Watch, and wrote the script for Training Day, Bright is set in a gritty world where fantasy creatures are integrated side by side with humans in society. The story follows the Alien Nation concept with a human cop being forced to work with an Orc to find a weapon everyone is prepared to kill for. Like Training Day, Brights story is edgy and takes the main characters on a journey, that changes both people's perceptions of the world their surrounded by as well as themselves. The story for Bright has the potential to be a fantastic Sci-Fi fantasy film, the problem is it isn't sure what exactly it wants to be as the gritty cop drama feel doesn't exactly blend well with the whole fantasy aspect of the story involving the Orc and the magic wand.

        As far as acting performances go, Will Smith and Joel Edgerton deliver strong performances giving each other chemistry, while making the audience become engaged in their experience together, showing the awkwardness the two had when first pairing up to them becoming stronger partners as the story goes on. The film's make up effects with Edgerton's character is quite impressive as well as being another of the film's main highlights. Made with a lower budget compared to the stream of big-budget studio film's, Bright takes what's an incredibly interesting concept, and brings it to life even if the end result feels rather uneven. The film is definitely not for everyone despite the film trying to have fantasy, hard-hitting cop drama, and social commentary all rolled into one. Instead of the film feeling beautifully meshed together, the end result is messy as the movie comes off as being rather confused in terms of what it really wants to be. The film essentially takes a generic buddy cop movie premise, that has been done before with film's such as 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour, and Shanghai Noon, putting its own unique spin on the classic formula while bringing in the Training Day feel to it, that became popular with cop dramas afterwards. The film nails the buddy cop formula down to a T with Will Smith clearly disapproving of his partner by telling him that he doesn't want to work with him, but has no choice because it's the Captain's orders then becomes caring for his partner later on in the story. The fantastical Lord Of The Rings quest meshed into the story makes the gritty feel of the story come across as awkward when the fantasy elements of the story come into play with Smith's character, and Edgerton's fight the main villains to protect a magical wand from falling into the wrong hands. Where Smith and Edgerton carry the film, Edgerton's performance is more impressive as his character is covered in make-up, and forced to work twice as harder to sell his character to the audience as well as the plot.

        As a Netflix original movie, Bright is ok and even comes off as being reasonably entertaining and fun to watch mostly thanks to its intriguing concept, that could've been done so much better as well as the strong performances from the film's main leads. When it comes to being a gritty and powerful cop drama, Bright doesn't hit home like Alien Nation does with its theme of prejudice with the society's treatment of Orcs, not being as engaging as film's like Training Day and End of Watch. As a science fiction fantasy, Bright can be fun to watch despite the audience wishing that the film stayed focused on that aspect of the story rather than trying to have it all. Despite Brights faults in the end, the film deserves commending for trying something new with an already established buddy cop theme with an intriguing twist added to it, however one cannot watch the film and not feel that for a story and concept that carries with it so much potential, the movie itself could've been much better if the writing and directing was stronger. David Ayer can be a strong writer and director when he was to be but lately has been rather inconsistent. One of the more unusual releases of 2017, but one that's worth watching and being judged by those who are Sci-Fi and fans of the buddy cop genre.

                                                                                             Final Verdict: STREAM IT

The Disaster Artist Is A Heartfelt Celebration Of The Worst Bad Film Of Our Time

The 2017 winter movie season has arrived and with it comes the traditional batch of award season films, that generally start out playing in limited theaters but later expand into a larger number of screens thanks to the positive word of mouth, giving these movies legs as well as a chance to garner some serious award recognition from both the Golden Globes and Oscars. One of the movies striving for award recognition is a biography and comedy titled The Disaster Artist starting James Franco, which covers the making of a 2003 cult classic film titled The Room. To movie buffs, this movie is not a typical film as its legacy is one that has gone down in infamy as being considered one of the worst movies of all time, that somehow manages to be entertaining in many fans eyes despite its awfulness. For everything that film does wrong, it brings unintentional laughter from it's audience. Fast forward nearly 15 years later and now Hollywood has brought forth a documentary style biography mixed with comedy on the making of the iconic film written by, directed, and starting Tommy Wiseau. The Disaster Artist not only manages to be entertaining and well-advised in telling the story of how one of the most unusual productions in film history was commenced, but also has something to say about one striving to reach their dreams, as well as a somewhat heartfelt message regarding friendship.

       The Disaster Artist is one of the more unusual films up for award consideration this winter, but also one that happens to be well put together exploring the relationship between the films mysterious star and his aspiring actor friend named Greg. With both meeting together in acting class, they form a unique friendship and head to Hollywood in pursuit of making their dreams come true. The Disaster Artist is not just a movie about the making of one, but also is a story about two people forming an unlikely friendship and striving to meet their goals together, regardless of the outcome. What could've just ended up being a standard documentary style film on the making of The Room surprises audiences with the amount of depth the story has along with the large doses of humor that accompanies the story making it a fun experience for audiences. Not only is The Disaster Artist a fun movie that's hilarious largely thanks to James Franco's performance, but it also carries with it heart when it reverts to the friendship side of the story. The films best moments are when showing the production of The Room and specific reenactment of key scenes from that film reenacted by Franco. It is those scenes that makes the film feel both authentic and nostalgic. The film beautifully explores the creative process of filmmaking and does so with a great deal of charm within the story. James Franco's performance as Tommy Wiseau is not only spot on but hilarious and carries the film. The script wonderfully weaves both the comedy and heartfelt moments together giving Franco much room to play off of.

      The film feels awfully similar to Tim Burton's biography Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp about the worst director of all time back in the earlier era of Hollywood. Like how Depp carried that film along with Burton's unique style of directing, Franco carries the film and by a long stretch delivers the best performance that's striking, hilarious, and heartfelt. Watching the character of Tommy Wiseau being depicted on the big screen, the audience cant help but look at his character and wonder in amazement how he was able to make a full length feature film despite its quality. The main difference between Tommy Wiseau and James Franco, who both starred in and directed the film is that Wiseau despite having noble intentions, isn't capable of possessing talent to make a good movie, but Franco does and crafts a far stronger film that pays homage to the failed director. Along with James contribution to the film, his brother Dave Franco does a strong job playing Tommy's buddy Greg, providing the norm to Tommy's eccentric behavior and even questioning at times whether their project will be successful in the end, but always chooses to stick by his friend and believe in his dream. The script for The Disaster Artist is unique because of how it explores the relationship between these two characters while showing both the difficulties of Hollywood, as well as the love that one possesses for the craft. As weird and unique as Wiseaus vision is for The Room, there's no denying that he has a love for the art of telling a story even if it's a non-conventional one.

        If one was to put The Room and The Disaster Artist together, one can clearly see the distinction between the two in regards to clever, competent storytelling, and amateurism at its worst, that has rightly garnered a special place in audiences hearts as being a terrible film that's told in the most unintentionally entertaining fashion. The Disaster Artist for its entire 104 minute possesses more heart, and equal enthusiasm than what Tommy Wiseau brought to his film with the main exception being Franco's story is a much stronger film all around, serving as both a labor of love as well as a heartfelt tribute to one of the most highly unusual and disastrous productions in Cinema history. The outcome of The Room one suspects is probably not one that it's director and star was hoping for, but at the same time the audience feels that he's just happy to have his film embraced by audiences in some form. The Disaster Artist is one of the most surprising and unusual films released in this year's award season, but it's a story about friendship and filmmaking, good or bad that actually works. The movie is not only hilarious with Franco's performance, but it hits the right notes in terms of making an important statement regarding friendship and aspiring to reach ones dreams. Franco's performance is worthy of it's numerous award wins from the Golden Globes to the SAG awards, it's a shame however that his real life controversy regarding accusations of sexual misconduct made the Academy Awards uncomfortable, ultimately shunning him of a Best Actor nomination. The Franco brothers are dynamic here and make The Disaster Artist a fun and heartfelt experience that the real Tommy Wiseau aspired to reach with The Room. Whereas The Room failed in terms of being a significant piece of filmmaking in a positive light, The Disaster Artist succeeds and proves to be entertaining along with being well-crafted largely thanks to it's Oscar nominated screenplay. The Disaster Artist is one of the most surprising hits of 2017, and one that is worth watching for those who are fans of The Room.

                                                                                                       Final Verdict: SEE IT

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Thor Ragnarock Is Damn Fine Marvel Entertainment Despite Being Overhyped

2017 has been nothing short of an astounding year for comic book movies in general. What started out as a triumphant finish to an actors legacy of playing an iconic character for 17 years in the case of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in Logan to Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins defying all expectations with Wonder Woman, to Tom Holland successfully rebooting Spiderman in the Marvel universe with Spiderman Homecoming, and Justice League not being as disastrous as what people were expecting, now comes full circle with the release of Thor Ragnarock, the third and surprisingly strong installment in the popular Marvel franchise. The Marvel universe has been on a roll this year with Spiderman Homecoming successfully bringing the character into the Marvel universe while making it appeal to audiences the way Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire's Spiderman trilogy did. While the first Thor movie wasn't necessarily one of Marvels strongest films, it introduced the character to audiences with a strong first impression thanks to Chris Hemsworth's performance as Thor and Kenneth Branagh's solid storytelling. Thor ll: The Dark World is among Marvels weakest films to date, but it proved to be more successful than the first Thor as the first movie successfully established his character with audiences despite the story being weaker. With Thor Ragnarock, the filmmakers take notice of the fact that the previous Thor films, while entertaining and fun aren't necessarily the strongest films in the MCU. With Ragnarock, director Taika Waititi delivers what's easily the strongest installment in the Thor franchise yet although the movie while being extremely fun to watch, is definitely a victim of being overhyped.

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      Thor Ragnarock by all means is a fun and entertaining ride, that will please Marvel fans alike not just in being exciting and thrilling to watch, but also with the fact that it's a much stronger film than the previous installments in the Ragnarock trilogy. The style of the film is similar to that of Guardians Of The Galaxy, which makes it feel like a feel good popcorn blockbuster, and in some cases a more fresher film than Vol 2 of Guardians. The plot for Ragnarock centers around the almighty Thor now imprisoned, finding himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against his former ally, the Hulk. Having discovered this revelation, Thor must fight for his own survival and race against tim to prevent the all powerful Hela from destroying both his home and the Asgardian civilization. In terms of performances, Hemsworth once again shines and chews up the scenery as Thor, proving that he is the ideal pick for the part with Tom Hiddleston shining as Thors twisted brother Loki. Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, and Tessa Thomspon shine in their supporting roles with Thompson delivering a likeable performance as Thors ally Valkyrie. Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as Dr. Strange for a brief yet slick cameo. Perhaps the films most interesting addition to the cast is Jeff Goldblum, proving once again to be likeable on the big screen even if his character is the antagonist this time (Goldblum is great at playing sleazy villain roles while doing his Goldblum routine of stealing every scene he's in while creating a complex for his characters). Anthony Hopkins does the best he can with the brief role he has in the film as Thors father Odin, and Karl Urban as Skurge (Is the guy ever not good). As for Bruce Banner/Hulk, Mark Ruffalo continues to grow on fans as being a solid choice for the part, picking up where Eric Bana left off with Ang Lee's underrated 2003 attempt at bringing The Hulk to the big screen, and Edward Norton's superior follow-up titled The Incredible Hulk. With Ragnarock, Hulk is fleshed out more in the film and given a more emotional complex, that fills the void for Ruffalo's character not having his own solo film like the other characters (Hulk being able to talk in this one is a real treat along with the visual aspect of his character being striking). In terms of acting performances, everyone does a solid job and appears to be having a blast with the material their given in this film. Ragnarock is first and foremost supposed to give off the impression that its a fun ride, and never does it attempt to become more than just hardcore entertainment for Marvel fans. For those looking for pure excitement and fun, that's more than enough for them. For those looking for deeper substance within the story, the film while being highly entertaining leaves more to be desired (Especially when some fans and critics throw the word masterpiece around to describe it).

      On a technical level, Thor Ragnarock is just as visually striking as any recent Marvel Cinematic Universe film with the special effects being impressive, and the atmosphere of the film being appealing with it's colorful universe that deliberately imitates Guardians Of The Galaxy. The difference between the first two Thor films and Ragnarock is while the first two films were fun-spirited movies with moments of drama, Ragnarock completely immerses itself in the genre of comedy, never allowing a moment for itself to be taken seriously. The humor combined with the visual style of the film make this one an unusual catch with audiences in the realm of Marvel movies, while at the same time making it a universal crowd pleaser. Ragnarock defies the stereotypical feat that comes with third installment of sequels in which they lose the spark of the first two films, instead Ragnarock shines above the other films and ends up being the crown jewel of the trilogy. One feels that Taika Waititi should handle the future installments of the Thor franchise as he knows how to capture the character in his best moments. Despite Cate Blanchett's performance being good but her character being rather underdeveloped as the films antagonist, the movies killer soundtrack elevates the lack of strong character development and helps to take audience along for the ride. The concept of the Thor franchise puts a fun spin on the whole Gods and gladiators aspect of the story, and one feels that Waititi understands that and plays off that angle.

      Thor Ragnarock is first and foremost a fun-spirited spectacle of a film, that instantly pulls the audience into this amazing universe of characters and superheroes, drawing them in and never letting go until the films finale. While the film does it's best impersonation of trying to match the sheer spectacle, high level fun, and stylish atmosphere of James Gunns Guardians Of The Galaxy films, it trades in it's exploration of characters and plot for popcorn entertainment that will please all Marvel fans alike, but also make them realize that outside of the flashy visuals and humor, the film doesn't necessarily stay with you long after it's over. The movie is awesome in entertainment value, but doesn't give the audience anything to reflect on theme wise unlike Civil War where the audience is forced to decide whether the Avengers team do as much damage to the population as they try to stop or should be allowed to operate freely The film is a tongue-in-cheek adventure, that knows exactly what it wants to be and executes it's story with the utmost confidence in telling it with the sole mission to entertain. With all the praise directed towards the film, one wonders where the overhyped aspect of the film comes in. The film itself is not a bad movie and is actually highly recommendable, but it's not the masterpiece some Marvel fans make it out to be as it doesn't fully flesh out the characters nor give themes that the audience can reflect on after it's over. As far as Thor films go, it's the most satisfying installment out of the trilogy and makes you earn a deeper appreciation for Hemsworth in the lead role, and happy that The Hulk has a much bigger role in this film. There are hardly any fans that will find disappointment in Ragnarock, but they will differ in how good of a film it is. A good movie it is forsure as well as being one of the strongest installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it ends up falling short of being a masterpiece. It has the fun of Spiderman Homecoming but it never reaches the emotional depth of films such as Logan and Wonder Woman, but it takes the best elements of Guardians Of The Galaxy, delivering it's best imitation of it from the colorful atmosphere down to the humor and carefree approach to it's story with a killer soundtrack added on. Thor Ragnarock is not as strong as some of the other great comic book movies that came out this year, but it certainly delivers in terms of giving popcorn entertainment that's both funny and feels good. For that reason alone, Ragnarock is a must see even if those aren't fans of the previous Thor films as the movie is set up to draw in newer fans instantly.

                                                                                             Final Verdict: SEE IT


Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Last Jedi Is The Best Since Empire Strikes Back

The most anticipated film of 2017 has finally arrived after much speculation and build up hype, (No I'm not talking about Justice League)admist a year full of ups and downs quality wise. While there's been a few blockbusters this year that met and surpassed expectations both in critical and financial terms such as Beauty And The Beast, Wonder Woman, Spiderman Homecoming, Stephen Kings IT, Thor Ragnarock, and Coco. While those films went into surprising audiences with their quality and overall performances, none had the anticipation and the hype that came with The Last Jedi, the eighth installment in the popular Star Wars franchise now owned by Disney, and the second installment in the newer trilogy of film's that began with JJ Abrams 2015 smash hit The Force Awakens. Exactly two years later, the story for the new era of film's continue with Rian Johnson now taking the directors chair from Abrams as well as writing duties. The storyline picks up directly after the ending of the first movie with Rey now seeking the help of a reluctant Luke Skywalker to show her the ways of the force by helping to develop her newly discovered abilities while the Resistance led by General Leia Organa prepares to do battle with the First Order. The trailers and marketing prior to the film's release promised a much darker and more intense story that would answer questions regarding Reys background, the conflict between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren, and where did Snoke come from. Having seen the new Star Wars film, one can say that the film not only further explores its characters and questions behind their backgrounds and story, but the movie as a whole proves to live up to the expectation of being the best Star Wars film made since The Empire Strikes Back.

      The Last Jedi not only meets the quality of its predecessor head on, but largely improves upon the new story set up by Abrams with The Force Awakens. With The Last Jedi, everything is bigger in terms of the scope of the story to the characters being more fleshed out and developed, making the audience genuinely care about them even more than they did before. The Last Jedi is first and foremost Rey and Kylo Rens story as the film picks up from where these two last left each other after their big lightsaber fight at the climax of the first movie. Although the story includes Luke Skywalker, Finn, Leia, and Poes characters journey, the heart of the film is Rey and Kylo struggling to grasp their powers as well as figure out their place in the scope of things. Daisy Ridley delivers a strong performance as Rey with her scenes with Luke played masterfully by Mark Hamill being among some of the finest moments in the film. Hamill gives a genuinely gripping performance as an older Luke Skywalker, whose experienced loss by witnessing Ben aka Kylo turn to the dark side, leading to his refusal to train Rey at first but finally agrees to. Hamills performance is among the strongest in the film and one that warrants a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination as the audience loves every minute that he's on the screen then anticipates his return. With his return, Mark Hamill takes the opportunity of a lifetime and gives his all with the part. Adam Driver does a strong job playing Ren, effectively portraying the conflict his character feels in regards to being drawn back to the light while becoming the Sith Lord he desires to become like his grandfather Darth Vader. Ren is more effective of an antagonist in this movie and has nice moments where he battles the light and darkness, but it can also be said that as hard as Drivers character tries, he doesn't measure up to the awesomeness of Vader being the villain in the original trilogy (His internal struggle though is fast more convincing than anything Hayden Christensen gave us in the Prequel trilogy). Perhaps his character isn't meant to be as frightening and more of a personal struggle as he's caught in the fight between good and evil internally. One does wish however that he kept his mask on longer as it made his character more intriguing and menacing in The Force Awakens. John Boyega returns as Finn, delivering another charismatic performance as well as developing a unique type of relationship with Rose played by Kelly Marie Tran. Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern shine in small supporting roles, making welcoming additions to the cast with Del Toro playing a smuggler named DJ and Dern playing Vice Admiral Holdo. Oscar Isaac shines once again as Poe with a bigger role this time while still bringing the charm and humor his character possessed in the previous film. Carrie Fisher shines as General Leia Organa, delivering her final film performance while making it an emotional experience for the fans (The scene where she reunites with Luke is a powerful one that's both heartwarming and touching). In terms of acting and directing, everyone brings their A game to the film with Mark Hamill giving the best performance, and Rian Johnson directing the movie with a similar kind of energy that JJ Abrams had with directing The Force Awakens, giving the film twists and turns throughout its story.

         As far as the film's technical achievements go, The Last Jedi is a stunning film to behold visually, which has become the standard for Star Wars films to showcase terrific special effects. The new weapons used in the film are effective thanks to the visual outlook of them as well as the film's top notch Cinematography to mix with the art-set decoration. One advantage that the newer Star Wars films have over the prequels, is the fact that they look like true continuations of the world established in the original trilogy. The Last Jedi not only feels right at home in that regard, but is breathtaking to see on the big screen, particularly its space battles. Both Abrams and Johnson direct their films from the perspective of being fans themselves and asking the question of what they would like to see on the screen while making the characters appear to be larger than life. Like The Force Awakens, audiences become fully invested in the story of The Last Jedi and find themselves fully caring about the characters while dreading that the audience has to wait two years to see the next film that continues from where The Last Jedi ends in epic fashion.

       The Last Jedi continues to prove that Disney is extremely skillful at crafting the newer stories while providing a great deal of fan service. The Last Jedi is both a technological breakthrough as well as an extremely worthy entry in the new saga of film's. Watching The Last Jedi, one can tell that great care was taken in regards to making the film both exciting and powerful for fans. Was the movie perfect? No, there's still questions left to be answered by future installments and some of the revelations fell a tad short of their true potential (Rey's parents revelation, unanswered questions regarding Snokes past, newer and minor characters being introduced but not fully fleshed out such as Laura Dern and Benecio Del Toro characters (Missed a really good opportunity to bring back Billy Dee Williams in this sequel), Captain Phasma having a cool sequence with Finn but still largely underdeveloped as a character), questionable writing such as Leia's big Mary Poppins moment that makes sense when the audience thinks about it but is executed sloppily, and Luke's first dialogue exchange with Rey is a slight missed opportunity. Despite the films minor faults, it soars above every Star Wars prequel, The Force Awakens which was awesome, and even Return Of The Jedi. What will probably end up being the most divisive installment in the series outside of the prequels takes the most risks with its characters and deserves huge credit for pulling off its risks and further advancing the story. With the way Disney has set up the newer film's, the Star Wars universe will continue on past the Skywalker family arc as both Rey and Ren are strong enough characters to carry the storyline as the old one fades. Whereas The Force Awakens played it extremely safe by delivering a scenario very similar to A New Hope, The Last Jedi takes the characters and the story into newer territory while sharing only limited parallels to The Empire Strikes back such as Luke training Rey (The reverse of Yoda training Luke), and Return Of The Jedi (With Snoke trying to lure Rey and Ren to the dark side in Emperor Palpatine fashion). The Last Jedi dares to take new risks for the franchise while honoring the past. With those risks, not every Star Wars fan will necessarily agree with the approach Rian Johnson took to the story but in the end, The Last Jedi largely satisfies as being a worthy successor to The Force Awakens that'll someday go down as being one of the best installments in the series. The Last Jedi is not only one of the best movies of the year but a terrific space adventure as well as being one of the most satisfying Star Wars films ever made (in my humble opinion, it's the best one since The Empire Strikes Back). The Last Jedi dazzles audiences from start to finish while opening up the universe to a new generation of fans. The Last Jedi serves as being a bridge between the past and more exciting things yet to come with Episode 9. Here's hoping that JJ Abrams can continue to build off what Rian Johnson established and bring this newer trilogy to a strong and powerful conclusion. The Last Jedi is a must see.

                                                                            Final Verdict: SEE IT