Spider-man: Homecoming

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The question as we left the theater was “is it the best Spider-man movie ever?” Spider-man 2 with Dr. Octopus is the other contender, of course. And whether or not you decide S2 beats out Spider-man: Homecoming is kinda irrelevant, S:H is on that level. The only problems I have with the movie are all non-problems to anyone who isn’t a comic book geek (the last paragraph in this post will have spoilers in it and be about comic book stuff instead of the actual movie). The acting is great, the best that could be squeezed out of a group of kids. The directing, story, tie-ins to the Marvel Universe (this movie had more than any other), and writing are all very good. The action scenes are not quite as prevalent as they are in most other comic book movies, but not by much and they are satisfying. Teenagers may think this is the best movie ever, b/c S:H is perfectly eye level for them. Adults and kids are really going to enjoy it too. I noticed that after the movie was over we all stood around and talked excited for far longer and with more enthusiasm than we have at any point this year (Logan is the only other movie that gets close). Go see it.
 
I want to say Marvel hit one home run and had one strike out. But, they wouldn’t say they struck out, b/c they weren’t even trying to play the game. They hit the struggling Peter Parker better than any other Spider-man movie, and might have bullseyed the non-Super Hero persona of any comic book movie from any company better than ever. Tom Holland plays a perfect Peter Parker: well written, well acted, normal teenager with abnormal problems. That is the home run, perfectly aligned with our comic book Peter Parker. The strike out would be … forget everything you know about the origin story. Everybody’s. Ben, Flash, Adrian Toomes, and one Mandarin level misstep at the end, all different. They weren’t trying to satisfy the comic geek, which hurts a little. With that said, this movie had more MCU tie-ins, cameos and shout outs than any other, which was lots of fun for me.
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Transformers: The Last Knight

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Transformers is a Japanese property, set all over the globe, about some toys that are made in China. Which makes it about the most American thing ever. That reminds me of the only other time I wasn’t proud to be an American, my lone trip to Jack In The Box. Transformers: The Last Knight is terrible. Take the worst parts of some other franchises and combine them together and you get T:TLK: its stupid and ridiculous like The Fast and the Furious, its hokey like Harry Potter, its cheesy like Twilight. None of those encapsulate the worst part though, the acting couldn’t be worse. I take that back, the writing is the worst part, so maybe the acting would have been average if they had something to work with. I can only come up with two positive things to say about it: sometimes the fighting is pretty good, and if I was 12 I would think its an awesome movie.
 
Seriously, don’t go see this movie. The people that made T:TLK think we’re stupid and treat us like we’ll eat up the easiest, most obvious crap that they throw at us. Don’t reward this kind of shill.
 
There is no blood, and the action is all comic booky, but they cuss a hand full of times (for no reason. It feels so out of place when they do it).
 
Oh, and its boring.

The Mummy

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Didn’t know this, but Universal Studios is trying for a multi-movie story, similar to Marvel and DC’s, about monsters, vampires, fairy tales, etc. The first movie in the franchise is this weekend’s The Mummy. They are off to a bit of a rocky start. I came in with low expectations, and they were exceeded, but that is damning The Mummy with faint praise. (Side note; I remember when Maverick came out my dad really enjoyed it, b/c Mel Gibson had played so many tough guy roles, and In Maverick he was also vulnerable, while still being the hero. That is what Tom Cruise was trying for in this movie. He was still mostly typical Tom Cruise, but threw in some regular dude moments. He even tried to crack some jokes. With this and Edge of Tomorrow Tom Cruise might be evolving. (Side note to the side note; You can’t just write Cruise or Tom, you have to write Tom Cruise.)) The Mummy just isn’t as good as its trying to be. It has the ingredients, but at the end of the day it is just a generic action flick. And if you’re trying to build a franchise off of a generic action flick, you better make the best damn generic action flick out there. The villain isn’t villainous enough; the sidekick isn’t Jack Sparrow enough, the hot chick isn’t desirable enough, and the story isn’t unique enough. The Mummy is like a North Korean missile, impotent and only momentarily news worthy. The acting is pretty good, and the directing is alright; they’re all trying real hard, but the whole thing is just underwhelming. Universal’s version of trying new things is doing all the same things over again and promising there will be more where that came from.

And really, “The Mummy”? Come on! You couldn’t put any more effort into the name than that?

Don’t take your kids. They don’t cuss or have bloody scenes, but but there are some zombie scenes that are going to keep them up at night.

Wonder Woman

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I don’t even know if I should tell y’all this part, but when Wonder Woman started getting amazing reviews I said to myself, “of course, no self-respecting liberal media member is going to give the first super hero movie with a female main character a bad review.” So my macho sexism kicked in and I went into WW looking for bad. I found some: Gal Gadot is not a very good actress and is much better in small doses, and the film struggles when its trying to crank out the story. But that is about it. WW is the best DC movie so far. It edges out Man of Steel, and is a mile better than Batman v. Superman. The action scenes are pretty good, using slow-mo to give WW a sense of power. Chris Pine is funny; basically playing his cool Captain Kirk role, and the other actors do a good job. The comic book junkie in me thinks the best part is that DC finally got out of its own way and allowed its hero to be super. People get stabbed and shot, but there is barely a drop of blood; no sex on screen. If your kids can watch Iron Man they are safe here.

One thing about the empowering women thing; I’m recommending WW b/c it is an enjoyable movie. WW will make a lot of money, but if studios think that is b/c this movie features a female character I think they are setting themselves up for a bad time. I think the same thing about Deadpool; it made a lot of money b/c it is a quality film, not b/c it was rated R. Learn the appropriate lessons from success, make good movies.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The first Pirates of the Caribbean was the perfect mix of story, casting and fun. The newest edition, Dead Men Tell No Tales, can’t replicate that perfect blend, but does almost as good a job as could have been done with the lesser ingredients provided. Captain Jack Sparrow is probably my all time favorite movie character, but he works so much better in a supporting role; swinging in, laying down a funny line or a silly walk, then swinging back out. If he has to do all the heavy lifting on the plot then he loses some of his electricity. Combine that with the average cast, and the ceiling for PC:DMTNT is lower than the Pirate movies you remember from back in the day. But that is all the bad things I have to say about it. The story is fun; the action is good and evenly spaced; the length, pace, and direction are all good. PC:DMTNT is a good movie, way better than the critics are giving it credit for. If you’re a fan you need to see it. If you want to go to the movie and have already seen Guardians then you need to see this one. It’s a fun movie, a good way to start off the summer. If your kids saw the others they can see this one.

Alien: Covenant

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The less enjoyable movie I saw yesterday was Alien: Covenant. The first two movies in the Alien franchise, from nearly 30 years ago, had a really unique and compelling vibe. Those movies were suspenseful, spooky, and attention grabbing even as a minimal amount was taking place on screen. A:C desperately wants to rekindle that old magic, but is far too safe and replaces spook with shock, attention grabbing with boring, and suspense with practically nothing at all. A:C has no creativity and no risk. The first hour and a half is a slog. The last half hour is better, but only b/c it just shifts into action movie mode and becomes just an average movie. So that is my synopsis, A:C is 3/4 below average and 1/4 average. Not a great recipe. The acting is probably the best part, but the actors have no story, no direction and nothing interesting to work with (except Michael Fassbender, who is brilliant as usual). There is blood, some parts that try to be scary and a sex scene, but in realty those don’t matter, b/c there is no reason to go to this movie, kids or otherwise.

Ghost in the Shell

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Ghost in the Shell was a lot better than I thought it would be, but I went in with really low expectations. I don’t think older people will like it, but there is a possibility that the younger crowd might (don’t go to the theater, use this to decide if you rent). If you like the anime source material than you’ve already seen it and don’t need this review.

The Great Wall

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The Great Wall is probably out of a theater near you already, but as far as a rental goes you could do worse. The Great Wall was also better than I thought it would be, but, again, I had low expectations. It has a bit of a vibe like the good Chinese movies that pop up every now and then, meaning it is more of a Chinese movie with a couple of Western actors, than a Western movie with a lot of Chinese extras. Not a must see, but I’m very pleased that I did see it.

Fate of the Furious

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Fate of the Furious is in the running for most ridiculous of the Fast and Furious franchise. The acting is probably the worst in the franchise, and, if memory serves, F8 also has the worst writing. The writing is bad enough to where even The Rock loses some of his luster. Jason Statham is awesome, but he doesn’t have enough scenes to carry the movie. The action is what you’d expect, if you had big expectations, and knew that unbelievable and physically impossible stuff was going to happen. I don’t feel like I’m breaking any new ground here, so let me skip to the end.

F8 is a movie for Fast and Furious fans, everyone else should avoid it. In most of the FF movies great action overcomes bad acting and middling writing; in F8 the writing and acting drop so low that they are too much to overcome. Credit where credit is due, the franchise keeps upping the action, keeps it fresh, but all their creative talents flow to the action and leave the movie part of the movie sorely lacking.