House of Cards Season One Review (2013)

House of Cards Season One Review

S1E1: “Chapter 1”

The first episode of the first season in House of cards introduces us into the entire and complex cast. Francis “Frank” Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is a house majority leader from the state of South Carolina. Chapter 1 takes place right after the 2012 election where Democrat President Garrett Walker (Michael Gill) whom Underwood says he supports, but is not necessarily friends with. Underwood anticipates that he will get the nod for new Secretary of the State. When Underwood is snubbed, it is obvious that it is a bother to him and wants to get revenge and prove this administration wrong by gaining power in government. This opening episode also looks at Rep. Peter Russo who is from the state of Pennsylvania and has a love interest with his office receptionist Christina Gallagher (Kristen Connolly). The other highlighted character in the pilot is reporter for the Washington Herald Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) who is blogger who is trying to get her big break in the political news industry.

I personally loved this pilot. It was dark and mysterious and just gripping episode. Kevin Spacey is amazing and does a great job of playing this anti-hero with this progressive southern accent that was very unique in its own way. It does an excellent job of setting you up with anticipation for the series and has you speculating to what Underwood is actually up to.

Rating: 8.5/10

Image via Netflix

S1E2: “Chapter 2”

Chapter 2 continues with Underwood plotting to try and work his way in the political game and framing the Secretary of State nominee, Michael Kern (Kevin Kliner). Underwood does this by bringing up some skeletons in Kern’s closet when he was a college newspaper editor and exposes some controversial ideas he had about Palestine and Israel that could have a negative effect on United States and their foreign policy. Underwood meets with Zoe again feeding her some insider details close to the White House, including a draft of a potential bill.

This episode, although a little down in quality compared to its predecessor continues to help build and guide the story along. It looks at some of the complexities that Underwood deals with on Capitol Hill and why he wants to get into a position of power. It also looks at the newspaper business and the media industry and the struggle that Zoe hints at and tries to point out to her superiors that it may be a dying industry.

Rating 8.3/10

Chapter 2 Poster

Image via Netflix

S1E3: “Chapter 3”

Chapter 3 take Frank Underwood out of Washington and back home to South Carolina. Due to a teenagers’ death while texting a driving while being distracted by a peach shaped water tower that Underwood has supported in the past, he goes back home to try and mend the wounds in the community. Underwood’s political opponents in South Carolina are trying to urge the parents to go ahead and sue Frank since he was the main supporter of the building of the water tower that eventually killed their daughter. Underwood is able to use his manipulative ways and southern calmness to try and assure the community and family he will take this into his own hands and find a compromise that will benefit the community and have the family at ease. Back in Washington, Zoe becomes a little too eager and tries to be a pusher when it comes to getting the next big story. This does not initially sit well with Frank.

This was another solid episode and was great to see Frank in setting outside of Washington D.C. It helped guide the evolution of frank Underwood as a character. It was neat to see him and a politician in general outside of their normal setting and his manipulating abilities continuously blow me away with each episode. I loved how they wanted to show politicians are more than just those in Washington and sometimes they do have to do things outside of that world.

Rating: 8.4/10

Image via Netflix

S1E4: “Chapter 4”

Chapter 4 takes an excellent look at both the inside workings of Congress and the character of Zoe. In this episode, Frank Underwood returns from his trip from South Carolina and is trying his best to build and get a Education reform bill ready for proposal. It shows how Underwood is a master a manipulating people to go against their own personal values. This episode also has a big focus on Zoe who continues to publish huge political news stories and gets offered a promotion to White House Correspondent at the Washington Herald and it displays her personal struggle when she is unsure if she wants the promotion or not.

Another good episode, I liked it for showing the inside aspect of Congress and the drafting of a bill. Part of that has to do with me being a nerd when it comes to political science, but it was really neat to see what really happens when drafting a bill. It also has a nod to President Lyndon B. Johnson which was neat and a fun easter egg that I spotted.

Rating: 8.4/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 5”

This episode was jammed full of content and was one of the better episodes in season one so far. It stars by Underwood and Marty Spinella (Al Sapienza) feuding over the education reform. As Underwood is trying to get the bill passed, Spinella is leading a teachers’ union to try and stop the bill that Underwood is backing and develops a plan to ruin Franks wife, Calire Underwood (Robin Wright) charity event. Spinella develops a picket line with citizens and teachers to stand across from their banquet. While all this is happening, Rep. Peter Russo is spiraling into a severe depression and using cocaine and drinking heavily because of he had to shut down a shipyard in his hometown 12,000 jobs and his girlfriend Christina has left him. In his depressed state, Russo goes to confront Frank at home after the fundraiser. To his surprise Underwood gives him two choices: get his life straightened out along with his career and run for governor in the process or end everything right here, right now. This episode also progresses the relationship of Frank and Zoe to new levels as well.

I loved this episode for one big reason: the struggle of Russo. This really dives deep into how bad his situation is and he spirals deeper and deeper into his depression and addiction issues. Every episode it seems that his character gets another added layer and the complexity of him increases. He’s a character that has such a destructive and toxic personality that you want to see more of and how his story turns out.

Rating: 8.7/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 6”

Chapter 6 sees the evolution of the relationship between Frank Underwood and Marty Spinella as the strike for teachers continues and gets out of hand. It has a great ending in the episode that changes how you feel and view the entire episode. Frank Underwood plots to take down Spinella, which would eventually paint Underwood and his family has a victim and Spinella as an antagonist that is against education as a whole. This episode also focuses of Russo and his decision to run for governor of Pennsylvania, which again layers his character so well.

Another amazing episode. As I watch each episode the more and more I love what is progressing with the story and the characters. There’s not one character that I really dislike and even though some of them seem a little overdone I believe they will continue to improve as the show goes on and it will continue to love the characters and episodes.

Rating: 8.7/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 7”

This episode highlights Russo’s governor race and what Frank Underwood is doing to help and support him. Underwood’s second in command, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is one the is watching over Russo the most. Stamper is the one that is making sure Russo keeps his addiction in check, which includes him going to AA meetings with him. Stamper also has a run in with an abused prostitute that he reaches out and helps by supplying here with somewhere to stays as long as she stays off the streets. Although this story line seemed a little out of place, it showed how humanity in characters that do not always show their humanity.

I really enjoyed this episode for it showing the everlasting struggle of Russo and his addictions. I liked seeing how he has progressed as a character and hope he is the highlighted character in future episodes and points out his struggle to try and keep clear. This episode also points at some jealousy for power between the Vice President and Frank Underwood when the Education reform bill is signed and the president notes it as a success for Underwood rather than the Vice President.

Rating: 8.5/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 8”

Arguably the blandest episode of the season so far. This highlights the opening of a library for Frank Underwood down in his old school in South Carolina. It spends most of the episode showing Frank getting drunk and running around their old stomping grounds and just was not too enjoyable to watch. This episode also shows Russo in his old hometown trying to reason with the people being laid off from the Shipyard which was cool seeing the type of groundwork that needs to happen when running a campaign that not everyone realizes.

There’s not a whole lot that I loved about this episode. I think one takeaway that was pointed out in the end is that these politicians, especially Frank have a separation between their professional lives with friends and family and their work lives in politics and corruption. This series has alluded to this theme so far, but this was the episode where it was the most relevant and obvious.

Rating 7.5/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 9”

Chapter 9 was a significant increase in content and entertainment compared to the previous one. The highlighted character in this episode comes in conflicting relationships. The first is Zoe and Franks relationship. Zoe suggests to Frank that they tone it down and have their relationship be strictly professional and Frank does just that. When Franks tops feeding Zoe news stories, she quickly realizes that it may have been a mistake to suggest that and tries to re kindle their work and play relationship. Another relationship highlighted in this episode is on the campaign trail with Russo and the Vice President. The Vice President seems to be intentionally sabotaging Russo’s campaign and they need to hash things out in order to try and get his campaign going in the right direction.

I really enjoyed this episode. It showed what really can happen on the campaign trail and it seemed to show some comparisons to this fictional VP and Joe Biden. It was a more excitable episode and towards the end throws a curve ball that could end up being a focal point of the rest of season one.

Rating: 8.7/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 10”

Holy crap this episode was full of scandal and corruption This entire first season has building up to one thing that will happen and over the last two episodes it has completely flipped around and has the last three episodes in this season going a different way. Everyone in this show has been caught up in some sort of scandal and political corruption Some of the scandal has been set up by other characters in the show and towards the end it become so cringe worthy to watch, but it is a car crash you just cannot look away from. The best episode so far and sets up the end of the season in phenomenal fashion.

Rating: 8.9/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 11”

Wow. In one word, that was what this episode was. For the most part, it continues on the story of where Congressman Russo is after his falling off the wagon and back into a alcoholism based spiral that has Frank freaking out about what will happen next. During this episode, Frank is forced to gamble everything and reveal his full plot to both the POTUS and his Chief of Staff. Underwood is very hesitant and has to weigh both options to reveal what he’s been trying to plot with Russo to the oval office. This episode also reveals that the relationship between Claire Underwood and her old friend Adam is falling apart, while Frank and Zoe have decided to officially keep their relationship strictly personal. All while this is happening Russo has spiraled out of control and battling all of his old demons.

This episode was so packed full and had the feel of a season finale in all its glory. I’m hopeful that this is a good thing, but only seeing how the last two episodes of the season will reveal if this having that feel is a positive. I am hopeful that the last two episodes will be as good if not better than Chapter 11. This episode had a twist that I thought would happen, but a lot earlier and within that twist it took another turn that I didn’t really expect.

Rating: 9.1/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 12”

This episode was a little flat compared to recent ones, but showed that House of Cards has turned into chess match. Frank Underwood is sent to St. Louis to vet a potential Vice President replacement. As he arrives, he quickly learns that it is actually he that is being vetted for Vice President. Underwood seems to be acting in a brash way, as he refuses to even listen to the VP nominee, who is asking for a favor and returns to Washington. On the media front, Zoe Barnes is investigating Russo’s past hoping to find the truth.

This episode was overall great. It leads into what could be a great season finale and I honestly do not know what to expect. Going into this episode, it seemed like everything was going smoothly in one direction, but then flipped it around and went a different way. I kind of have a feeling what will happen in the season finale, but I would not be willing to be on the direction it goes in Chapter 13.

Rating: 8.7/10

Image via Netflix

“Chapter 13”

Like the episode previous to this one it was a little flat in an excitable sense. It feels drawn out and you are waiting for something to happen with the appointment of a new Vice President and nothing is happening. There were a few times I thought that maybe they would just leave us with a big cliff hanger to build off of on the next season. Finally, there is a big payoff where Frank Underwood is granted the Vice Presidency. This gets me excited for the next season because just knowing Frank Underwood he will not be done and I expect him to use this spot as leverage for himself.

Rating: 8.7/10

Image via Netflix

Season Thoughts:

This was a great season from start to finish. House of Cards has great feel to it and keeps you on the edge of your seat and in tone created by both cinematography and music has a Gone Girl feel. It only had one bland episode with Chapter 8. Overall it gets an 8.5/10. One of the better inaugural seasons I have seen since season one of Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad. This season and this show keeps you on your toes and I hope it continues to do so. Frank Underwood is a great antihero and I hope they continue with the great character development that they started this season.

Frank Underwood - House of Cards.jpg

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Fist Fight Review (2017)

Director: Richie Keen

Starring: Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Kumail Nanijani

Rating: R

Plot:

Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is a high school English teacher at a struggling high school. It is the last day of the school year and also the senior prank day and Mr. Campbell starts to clash with a history teacher named Stickland (Ice Cube). As tempers flare between the two Campbell has to balance a workplace feud, keeping his job, being there for his kid and supporting his wife during child birth.

What The Film Did Well:

There is not a lot that Fist Fight does particularly well. Out of everything, the individual performances stick out above anything else. Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Dean Morris and Kumail Nanjiani all do well in an individual sense but fail complement each other in their performances. The characters are at their funniest when they stay small one liners that are much better than their dialogue.

Ice Cube does a good job at playing a typical Ice Cube character. In almost all of his movies he plays this hard ass character and he does this exact role. Although, I would like to see Ice Cube expand and try to develop into other roles and improve his acting chops, but he does this role well. At times, he comes off as obnoxious, but he does, in the end execute the character of franklin well. He comes off as a psychopath with anger management is a good portrayal of the character.

Tracy Morgan delivers another solid performance. Like Ice Cube he has a repetitive type of character that he does well. Regardless of what Morgan is in, he comes off as funny and for the most part delivers a good comedic role. I knew what to expect from Morgan, and got exactly that.

Jillian Bell also performed well as a supporting character. I am beginning to like Bell as a comedic actress is everything that I see her in. She had some great one liners that were the best and funniest parts of the entire movie. Bell has a great dark sense of humor. Every small side comment that she had and joke she made had me laughing. A lot of it seemed like it might have been improvised which is always fun to see.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There is a lot that this movie doesn’t do well, but let’s start with Charlie Day. I tend to really enjoy Charlie Day and think he is a very capable actor; I just do not think he was fit for this role. There was time throughout this movie where Day didn’t seem like he belonged in this movie. He added to this unrealistic idea that they were running with on how high schools act and the fictional way teachers and students interact with one another.

I didn’t find the environment or plot that this movie developed to be even semi believable. It painted high schools as this place where everyone can run wild and do what they want, regardless of if they are a part of the staff or a student. I get the fact that this was supposed to be a comedic interpretation of a high school, but it was so absurdly out there that it made the movie pretty unenjoyable.

The biggest area that this movie misses on is the comedy. It just really isn’t funny. It relies way too much on dick joke and dirty humor. It tries to make the audience laugh by throwing in an f bomb every other sentence and just get tiring to watch after a while. The only time it gets going in a comedic direction is with the occasional one liner, that they could have used more of and the dry sense of humor that had good execution compared to the rest of the movie.

Final Thoughts

Fist Fight was simply not good. It is easily one of the worst movies of 2017. The lack of actual humor in this movie makes it suffer and gets a 4.0/10.0. I didn’t have high expectations going into this movie, but regardless it fails in so many ways and this movie was incredibly unfulfilling.

Fist Fight

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A Cure for Wellness Review (2017)

Director: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Ivo Nandi

Rating: R

Plot:

Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a young CEO from New York City who is sent to a wellness center in the Swiss Alps to try and get a collage to come back to New York. Upon arrival, Lockhart notices this is unlike any place he has ever been. After spending time there he starts to uncover the this wellness center has a much darker past than initially thought and must scramble to try and get back home.

What The Film Did Well:

This movie is a beautifully shot movie. This was apparent from the initial trailers and the cinematography alone makes this a movie worth watching. There are very few movies that you watch and it is worth watching strictly based off what it brings from a visual perspective. I know, that sounds completely odd because movies are all about visuals and even though that is true, there are movies that regardless of what it is about people will like it based of the camera work, editing and the cinematography.

A Cure for Wellness also does an amazing job of making the audience feel extremely uncomfortable. It does this a lot through sound. There are many times where the main character, Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) either completely alone or creeping around this wellness center and either through the choice of music and sound effects or simply having his crutches creak and having the sound of nothingness accompany the audience, it makes the audience uncomfortable and have this earie feeling among themselves. This was not surprising to me because director Gore Verbinski is famous from the haunting imagery of the The Ring.

This movie was also completely original. Sure, we have other movies that take place in some sort of hospital or institute, but this was a different take on it. A Cure for Wellness makes you think after and even at points while watching it. In a time in movies where so many want an original idea and a new type of movie, this does just that. A Cure for Wellness is not part of anything else, it stands alone and is completely its own thing and I hope that for people that watch it, it can be celebrated as such. Just because it makes people uncomfortable, I do not think it should be ridiculed for being so original.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

This movie is a long movie for the type it is. Horror and thriller movies tend to run around and hour and a half to two hours at the maximum. This movie runs about two and a half hours and at times it really feels long. At various points, it drags from plot point to plot point and it becomes a little tedious. This movie does take its time and is not rushed, which to some I a great thing, but to others it will diminish the quality of the movie.

The ending to this movie was a little odd. It throws a plot twist at you in the very last scene that makes you question the main characters story and his real ambitions. After watching this movie, I really had to think about the ending and not everyone will understand it or appreciate it right away. It was not like I walked out of the theater and immediately understood why it ended that way and I certainly did not get the true deeper meaning of this movie right when I left the movie theater. It seriously takes some thinking and recollection to truly understand this movie.

Final Thoughts

When I first saw this movie back in February I left the theater not knowing what I really thought about this movie. I found myself saying: it wasn’t bad, but it is not for everyone. I stand by that and give A Cure for Wellness gets a 6.0/10.0. This movies uniqueness pushes the boundaries and had imagery that made me uncomfortable and squirm in my seat. I would much rather have a movie like this take that route, rather than playing it safe and not making a quality movie. This has all the qualities to become a cult classic, only time can tell if it will.

A Cure For Wellness

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The Great Wall Review (2017)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal

Rating: PG-13

Plot:

William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) are westerners embarking on a foreign land near the Great Wall of China. When mysterious creatures and ancient relics are found, they inquire local Chinese Commander Lin Mae (Tian Jing) about what these sightings mean. In this process, they find out the truth about the wall and some of the history behind why it is crucial to the survival of the Chinese.

What The Film Did Well:

From a visual perspective, this movie was great. The CGI created monsters were appealing and yes, you could tell they were CGI but it didn’t distract from the movie. The monsters did not seem rushed in the slightest and some of the better CGI made creatures that I have seen in recent memory. Other than CGI, some of the smaller landscape shots when they were riding on horseback were really beautiful as well and having those types of shots spread out in-between CGI shots were well used and made the movie more realistic from a props and live action point of view.

The story and mythology pertaining to the wall the Chinese people was great. Although it was obviously not realistic or historically accurate it was a fun fantasy story that took place. I like the story from the Chinese point of view and the lore behind the great wall a lot better than the story behind Matt Damon’s character and the other western civilization characters in this movie. I would have liked them to continue to expand on the Chinese legends and mythology behind the great wall because when they did this it helped the entirety of the story flow more smoothly.

The action sequences were well done and spaced out perfectly. There are about two or three total fifteen plus minute action scenes or battles that were a great addition to this movie. I felt that I was most invested in this movie when these action scenes were occurring and that’s not what I was expecting. From the trailer, this seemed like it was going to be a movie in which there as a big build up to one huge thirty minute pay off, but turned into smaller build ups to equally satisfying payoffs.

Out of all the actors, I felt that Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) and Tian Jing (Kong: Skull Island) were head and shoulder above everyone else. Pascal was a supporting actor in this movie, but at times I had wished that he was the lead, instead of Matt Damon. His character was more likeable and he simply just did a better job than any of the other male actors in this movie. Tian Jing played Commander Lin Mae and I was much more invested in her story and how she was coming into power the most interesting plot line throughout this movie.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

Matt Damon seemed very unnecessary for this movie. He didn’t even try to have an accent or play a character from that part of the world. Not once did I think to myself: oh, that’s the character William, not Matt Damon. I think this movie could have been as good if not better without Matt Damon as the lead. I get why they put him in it and because this movie was made up of good Chinese actors and actresses that no one has really heard of, it would be incredibly difficult to get the budget to make in in the United States and promote it well without the star power of someone like Matt Damon.

Willem Dafoe was also pretty damn bad throughout this movie. His character, like Damon, was not believable and seemed like he mailed in this performance. I did not find his character that crucial to the plot or direction they were trying to take this movie. He also did not even try to get into character and Dafoe looked lost and acted like he accidently wondered on set one day and just started to roll with this character. Now, this might not be the fault of the actors entirely because the writing and dialogue they were given was nothing to rave about.

Like I mentioned before, the story of the wall from the perspective of the Chinese was great, but when they try to force in William’s story it interrupts the flow of the movie. I would have rather had them focus on the mythology and lore of the Chinese. Instead they try and force a plot that was not necessary to the progression of the movie.

Final Thoughts

Going into The Great Wall, I had rock bottom expectations. It exceeded those, which does not say a whole lot, but it gets a 4.0/10. It relies on good visual effects both pertaining to the monsters throughout the film and the environment in which it takes place, but falls short in terms of performance.

The Great Wall

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John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) Review

Director: Chad Stahelski

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose

Rating: R

Plot:

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a hitman that just wants to retire. His bosses, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) and Winston (Ian McShane) are determined to make sure he stays in the game though. After losing basically everything his life has to offer he goes back into the hitman business in order to seek vengeance for all that he has lost.

What The Film Did Well:

The best thing that this movie does is the set action pieces. It is reminiscent of action movies of the 1990s. It feels that each part of this movie is building up to another big action piece and when it gets there the payoff is well worth the wait. This helps build off what the 2014 movie, John Wick did and does extremely well and was good to see to see the build on this strength because it is why people are going to want to see this movie.

Another aspect to this movie that it does well is it builds on the character of John Wick which is what many fans and audiences want with any sequel. After seeing this sequel, people will have a better idea and greater knowledge of this character. This sequel allows us to see what drives his character and what matters most to him. In action movies like this what helps distinguish the mediocre and the good ones is the lore and what drives the main action hero to do what he does the most. John Wick is driven by revenge and wanting to defend the honor of his loved ones; even if they are not around anymore.

Aesthetically speaking this is a really pretty movie. It reminded me a lot of a 1980s type of feel to it, from the initial trailer to some of the lighting choices throughout the movie. There are points in this movie where they use some sort of subtitles and even those have a 1980s feel and adds to the quality of the movie as a whole. I love it when modern movies have an 80s and 90s retro feel and John Wick: Chapter 2 does it so well and executes to near perfection

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

This movie takes a while to really get going and was hard to stay really invested in the movie. It starts out with a huge action sequence that was incredible and had me excited for what the rest of the movie had in store. Then it really slows down and takes about forty-five minutes to pick back up again. Because of this I really got bored and there were a couple times I thought about turning it off even. When it does start to pick up again pace wise it doesn’t stop and becomes a joy ride until the very end.

The acting in this movie was pretty damn bad.  Keanu Reeves becomes so emotionally bland, at times I really did not care what would end up happening to his character of John Wick. Even though that is part of his style and is kind of bland in a lot of his movies, I wish he would put at least a pinch of emotion into his characters. Ruby Rose is also pretty fucking bad. I don’t think she even said one line and it was noticeable that she does not have much acting range. This is the second movie, xXx being the other where she’s been pretty bad as a supporting character.

Another part where John Wick: Chapter 2 falters is with character development. Although, there is an expansion of John Wick in this movie there is no real development of him as a character. I feel no emotional investment towards John Wick, which again is something I want to see in every main character even if it is an action movie; where the character development may not warrant the most layered and complex characters.

Final Thoughts

I did not love this movie, and I went into hoping that I was going to. Overall John Wick: Chapter 2 gets a 7.0/10. I think it was partly over hyped and overrated because it came out in a bad movie month, February. It was going up against movies like The Great Wall and A Cure For Well and because of weak competition, audiences made this movie seem a lot better than it actually was.

John Wick: Chapter 2

 

 

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review (2017)

Director: Jon Watts

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon

Rating: PG-13

Plot:

Follow Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he tries to balance being a high school and defending the city of New York with his relatively new Spider based super powers. As he defends neighborhoods in New York, Peter also tries to impress his new acquaintance Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and convince him he can be a legitimate super hero and apart of the super hero group known as the Avengers.

What The Film Did Well:

Going into Spider-Man: Homecoming I was concerned, yet excited for this movie. I was nervous because since the original Spider Man 2 back in 2004, I feel that there has not been a movie that has really done the character of Spider-Man justice. I was excited for this movie because it was being made by Marvel, along with Sony which has been hitting home runs for the better part of the last decade. I was concerned that this story wouldn’t quite fit in the Marvel universe and it wouldn’t feel like a Spider-Man or Avenger story and boy was I wrong. This entire movie and story felt organic and not forced in one bit.

It was also a different take and story around Spider-Man. Although this was the third reboot in the last twenty years, it was not just a re hash of the same old story in the previous two franchises it was new take which was really refreshing. This was another aspect that concerned me going in because if they did another origin story of how Peter Parker transforms into Spider-Man it could have become boring or even potentially flopped as a movie, but it did the opposite of this and the new story and take on Spider-Man is a hit.

I loved the casting in Spider-Man: Homecoming. I was a little worried about Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, mainly because I had not seen him in anything before at least not as a lead. Holland was great and although his acting isn’t going to win any award he portrayed this character with a certain uniqueness that won me over and was really refreshing to watch. Michael Keaton played the main antagonist as Vulture and I fucking loved him! Marvel comic book movies do so many things well, but one thing that they struggle with is having great villains and Keaton brings a villain to this movie that not a lot of Marvel films have and I just loved him in this. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark/ Iron Man and delivers another fantastic performance as this returning character. Marisa Tomei plays the character May Parker and going along the theme of a new take on Spider-Man, she brings a new take on an old character and was another solid performance. Like Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau returns as Happy and again was solid. Jacob Batalon played Ned who is Peter Parker’s best friend in high school and I fell in love with this character and thought he brought some comedic elements that were very enjoyable throughout the movie. One of my favorite characters in this movie would have to be Michelle who was played by Zendaya. She was quirky and had mysterious aspect about her that I both laughed and loved and she became one of the best and most underrated characters of the entire movie.

Spider-Man: Homecoming does a fantastic job of mixing both a score and soundtrack. The various soundtracks in this movie were great and went along with the theme. It seems time and time again that Marvel movies put together phenomenal soundtracks that become as big a part of the movie as some of the characters. The score for Spider-Man: Homecoming was Michael Giacchino (Rogue One, Jurassic World), who is one of the best in the movie score business and delivered another hit that enhanced the movie so much.

Finally, Spider-Man: Homecoming is both a great comic book movie but is also a great coming of age movie. It has a good balance of the two types of movies and whether you go see this for a comic book movie or a coming of age movie it will succeed in both those tones equally. It has action, suspense, comedy and does all this so well without becoming cluttered with different tones which some movies fall short in terms of balancing different genres and tones within themselves.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There’s not a lot this movie does poorly, but it took me a little while to become a fan of was the technology that was involved with Spider-Man and his suit. At first it didn’t really seem to fit within a Spider-Man story and had me doubting how the movie will go. This doubt did not last as the technology in the suit blended well with the character of Spider-Man and fit well with the entire movie.

Final Thoughts

I loved this movie and hope everyone gets a chance to see it. In quality, it is right up there with Wonder Woman and even though Wonder Woman is slightly better Spider-Man: Homecoming gets an 8.5/10. It has so much going for it and portrays Spider-Man the best since the movies of the early 2000s.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

 

 

 

The Lego Batman Movie (2017) Review

Director: Chris McKay

Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis

Rating: PG

Plot:

The Lego Batman Movie takes an interesting twist on the Batman story. Batman/Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) as a protagonist who has his ego above anything else. He struggles in admitting that he, like everyone else needs a little help from family and friends. Will Batman be able to overcome his deepest and darkest insecurities along the way to saving Gotham City?

What The Film Did Well:

The first part of The Lego Batman Movie that I noticed is it does an amazing job of making fun of itself and the comic book movie industry as a whole. Even though this was a PG rated movie it had me laughing throughout and does a timely job with all its jokes. Sometimes in spoof movies as the movie progresses the jokes become forced from time to time and with The Lego Batman Movie that was almost never the case.

When it comes to Batman as a character, even though he is one of my favorites; sometimes there are parts of him that do become ridiculous. This movie points out some of the ridiculousness the surrounds Batman and his movies which I loved and thought was great. From his suit to his at time overdone dual ego, this movie hits every part and tastefully spoofs the idea of Batman.

Although this movie spoofs Batman, it also pays respect to the Batman of the past. There are numerous parts throughout this movie where it talks about some of the old Batman roles, going all the way back to the portrayal of Batman in the 1960s. Even though this movie hints at and talks about the Batman of the past it does not overdo it and made it clear each time what they were trying to do when referencing the characters of the past.

This movie stays true to who Batman really is both through his own characteristics and his relationships with others. When I was watching The Lego Batman Movie not once did I think I was watching anything other than a true Batman movie. His relationship with the Joker is great and shows a lot of their complexity with each other and how layered their rivalry can be. This movie shows that the Batman needs Joker as a villain just as much as the Joker needs Batman in order be such a great antagonist. His relationships with characters such as Robin and Alfred stays true as Batman comes off as standoffish which is exactly how Batman is portrayed throughout all media formats with Batman’s story.

This movie gets really deep which I did not expect at all. I personally love it when cartoon movies decide to have a deeper theme and this movie does it in a tremendous way. It focuses on some of Batman’s deepest fears and insecurities such loneliness and not wanting to get attached to others because in the past he has only ended up hurt when that happens. This was really not something I expected when I decided to watch this movie, but like I mentioned before; this aspect sticks true to who Batman truly is and I’m certainly glad they went with this deeper meaning and overall theme.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There is not a whole lot that The Lego Batman Movie does poorly, but there a couple minor things. This movie does feel a little drawn out towards the end and the final third of this movie could have been shortened. Due to some parts of this movie being drug out it cause me as a viewer to become a little bored and took me out of the movie briefly. The main gripe with this movie is it comes up a little bland in flat in various areas, but it, for the most part doesn’t diminish the quality of the movie.

Final Thoughts

I had a lot of fun with The Lego Batman Movie. I had not seen any of the Lego movies yet and really enjoyed it. This movie gets a 8.0/10. I was really surprised with this movie and I’m glad I watched it. It’s thoughtful and deeper themes help boost this movie.

The Lego Batman Movie

 

 

 

Baby Driver (2017) Review

Director: Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx

Rating: R

Plot:

Baby Driver follows the story of a getaway car driver known as Baby (Ansel Elgort) who works for Doc’s (Kevin Spacey) heist crew. Baby isn’t an ordinary man though, as he has a drumming inside his head from a car accident as a child and uses the power of music to help drown it out. Through music and a want for adrenaline Baby uses his unique driving abilities to help Doc and his crew complete different heists. Will Baby be able to correct his course or get stuck in a fast lane going nowhere?

What The Film Did Well:

Let me start off by saying that Baby Driver is absolutely incredible! It does so much well and executes almost every aspect to perfection. I’m going to start on how this movie was shot and the cinematography. Some of the camera work was amazing to watch and had such an Edgar Wright style and feel to it and fit so freaking well for Baby Driver. With the cinematography, it wasn’t just great in some of the car scenes, but even when the character of Baby was doing some of his walking to music down the street it just had a certain quality to it that really had you invested in the movie.

Along with the cinematography, the choreography in Baby Driver is over the top in a good way and had near perfect execution. The car chases were so fun to watch and to me, were better than chases in other car based action movies such as the Fast & Furious films. There was some solo dancing involved and even the choreography with that and the mixture of this soundtrack throughout the entire movie was fun to be a part of and helped bring the movie to fruition.

Baby Driver goes at such a fast pace it grips you and you are invested from opening scene until the very end. There are very few times throughout this movie where it taps the breaks, and when it does it’s hardly noticeable. Baby Driver is not just a fast-paced action movie like its counterparts; it has emotion and intelligence within itself as well. It does not become the type of action movie that needs to get to the next big scene, but when those big payoff scenes do occur they are well worth it and keep you on the edge of your seat in the same ways a suspense thriller would.

Baby Driver does have its own humorous elements as well. Comedy is all about timing, and Baby Driver hits its jokes with a precision that is rare in action movies. None of the comedic moments feel forced and naturality of the smaller jokes had me laughing hard, but never took me out or away from the main premise of the movie. Instead, they help progress the movie along, if anything.

The casting in Baby Driver was excellent as well. Ansel Egort (Baby) played a great lead and it wasn’t just through verbal acting, but rather his overall performance and portrayal of his character. He brings a complexity to the character of Baby that I didn’t see coming. Egort is a fucking star and is earning his way into bigger roles and it’s awesome to see such a young actor do so well. Jon Bernthal (Griff) had a minor role, but played it well. Jon Hamm (Buddy) showed that he can act at a high level other than TV shows. Eliza Gonzalez (Darling) played across Hamm for a majority of the movie and was wonderful in her own ways. Jamie Foxx (Bats) was incredible and so fun to root against and was interesting to see Foxx play a more bad character as I am used to him playing more of a good guy type role. Finally, Kevin Spacey (Doc) was amazing, as he is in just about everything. The only negative in the casting for this movie would be Lily James (Debora) who sometimes comes off a little dull and hard to really believe, but still is never bad in Baby Driver.

Finally, Baby Driver brings some small twists throughout the movie. Some are more predictable than others. The predictability of some parts of the movie does not diminish the quality of the movie, but rather enhances it by keeping the audience engaged and on their toes. Parts of this movie caught me by surprise which is really what I love about movies, the surprise factor.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

No movie is perfect, and even though I would like this movie to be perfect; there are some very minor parts of Baby Driver that can be considered “flaws”. Parts of Baby Driver lack in the realism department. Although, Baby Driver not being one hundred percent realistic didn’t hinder my experience with the movie, I must be fair. My biggest criticism of the Fast & Furious franchise is it’s so unrealistic and it just wouldn’t be fair for me to do that with one movie and not another.

Another part of Baby Driver where it gets rough, I guess you could say is it slows down in a few parts. In the middle, it slows down for about fifteen minutes right before it picks right back up again. Then towards the end of the movie it feels a little drawn out and maybe overdone just a tad. Although I did really enjoy the ending of the movie and it felt like it came full circle and was an overall fascinating finale, it was drawn out a tad.

Final Thoughts

Baby Driver was absolutely incredible. It was one of the most fun movie going experiences I have had in some time. I give it an 8.9/10. It was the best non-super hero movie of 2017 and the second best movie overall of the year so far. I’ll probably be praising this movie for the rest of the year and hope everyone goes out and sees it, you will not regret it.

Baby Driver

 

 

 

The Space Between Us (2017) Review

Director: Peter Chelsom

Starring: Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Carla Gugino, Britt Robertson

Rating: PG-13

Plot:

The Space Between Us begins with a mission to colonize Mars. Upon arrival astronaut, Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery) finds out that she is pregnant. Soon after she gives both to Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) she dies. Sixteen years late while Elliot is living on Mars and being raised by Kendra Wyndham (Carla Gugino) he befriends a teenager, Tulsa (Britt Robertson) back on Earth. Through curiosity and a sense of adventure to find the one thing Elliot has missed out on, a father he returns to Earth. Elliot soon realizes Earth may not be all he imagined and runs into many issues upon his journey.

What The Film Did Well:

When The Space Between Us is, well, in space it is visually fantastic. It has some pretty stunning CGI based scenes that take place in space and on Mars that really stick out and reminded me a lot of the visual effects in movies like Gravity and Interstellar. Although, both those movies are better both in overall quality and with visual effects The Space Between Us is very reminiscent of those movies aesthetically speaking. When parts of this movie takes place back on earth it also has some really beautiful cinematography and pan over shots, including one near my hometown which was really awesome to see.

Another thing that this movie does well is it is very well casted and well-acted by everyone involved. The performances in The Space Between Us is not going to blow anyone away or get any award consideration, but the acting is still good. Gary Oldman helps carry parts of this movie with his character Nathaniel Shepherd and that was to no surprise because Gary Oldman is basically great in everything he does. The chemistry between Asa Butterfield (Gardner Elliot) and Britt Robertson (Tulsa) was really good and believable throughout the movie. Carla Gugino was also very good in her role of Kendra and just overall this movie was well acted throughout which was really nice to see.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There are a few points in The Space Between Us where the timeline seems little inconsistent or had an awkward flow. At one point, it jumps two years ahead and then it suddenly jumps ahead sixteen years without any real development of the plot. Fortunately, those are the only times that the movie does this, because when it did happen it was not totally clear on the rhyme or reason behind them wanting to jump lot points suddenly.

One major plot point that I didn’t quite understand and took me out of the movie would have to be how the character of Tulsa knows the character of Gardner. When it jumps forward to Gardner being sixteen he knows another teenager on earth and they communicate via an instant messaging system and it is never clear how they initially know of each other or meet. It was just all very confusing to me and a hole in the plot that just was too big for me to skim over.

Another aspect to this movie where it falls through and truly falters is the tone and genre. It starts off with the tone of a science fiction thriller which seems like a great idea, but slowly it changes the entire tone. It starts to develop into a romance, which seemed unnecessary at first and had me questioning why and even kind of groaning at that aspect. As The Space Between Us progresses it develops into a coming of age young adult movie which it does well. I wasn’t a fan of the crossing over of the genres, but once it developed into the young adult movie it achieved what it set out to do.

Final Thoughts

This movie gets a 5/10. It is not a bad movie and is made for a specific audience. For that audience, it is probably a fantastic movie, but for a regular audience member it struggles in a lot of areas. It gets cheesy in parts, especially towards the end. It becomes bland and boring occasionally, but was not a bad movie overall.

The Space Between Us

 

 

 

Rings (2017) Review

Director: F. Javier Gutierrez

Starring: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lultz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio

Rating: PG-13

Plot:

Rings starts off on a plane bound for Seattle where a passenger by the name of Carter (Zach Roerig) informs another passenger, Faith (Laura Wiggins) that he has watched the tape of Samara. Another passenger on the plane named Kelly (Lizzie Brochere) has also seen the tape and neither one has made a copy of the tape and because of this it causes the plane to crash. Fast forward two years later where Gabriel (Johnny Galecki) buys a VCR who was owned by Carter with the tape inside. Gabriel turns out to be the professor of Holt (Alex Roe). Holt and his girlfriend Julia (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lultz) become cursed by the tape and begin to investigate the case of Samara Morgan.

What The Film Did Well:

Where should I start? Rings really does not do a whole lot well, but it sure does try. At points during this movie it becomes difficult to watch, but the pacing is something that can be looked at as a positive in. Even though it has a run time of just under two hours it seems to move along from plot point to plot point rather quickly. It’s good that this movie moves along quickly because if it didn’t a lot of people probably would have turned it off or walked out of the theater.

The other positive from Rings is Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory) who plays the character of Gabriel. Although Galecki’s acting was nothing over the top, compared to the rest of the cast he is the stand out in the entire movie. Going in, I thought it would have been the opposite since I am only used to seeing him in a comedic role. I was pleasantly surprised to see him do well in a more dramatic role and succeed for the most part in doing so.

What The Film Didn’t Do Well:

There is so much that this film lacks and comes up short in almost every way imaginable. Let’s start with the opening scene on the plane. It starts off not bad in the opening sequence, but then just takes an ugly turn in terms of storytelling and film making. It gives no background on the story of Samara and just jams a summary of her story and the VHS tape down your throat in about thirty seconds. It gives no real background and just makes the opening seem too cluttered and just a jumbled mess with characters that are not going to be featured in the rest of the movie.

Rings soon becomes such a pathetic and cliché horror movie that just turned me away and had me uninterested for the entire movie. It is the overused tale of an individual or a group of people who find a relic of someone and are warned not to use it, but decide to do so anyway. I am not a fan of this method to tell horror movies and it is so overdone, every time I watch a movie with that uses this, it really diminishes the quality of the movie.

This movie lacks any development of characters and because of this you have no emotional investment in anyone in the cast. Their acting becomes dry as the movie goes on and doesn’t help with the development of the characters or the story. Every character in Rings makes some of the most questionable and idiotic decisions that I have seen in a movie within the horror genre in quite some time. Every minor thing they do makes Rings more and more cringe worthy and hard to watch. These characters struggle to make the smallest rational decisions and because of this I had no care or thought into the implications that their potential decisions could have on their outcomes or the overall outcome of the movie.

Rings is supposed to be considered a horror movie, but there is nothing scary about it. At times, it shows glimpses of a disturbing movie more than anything else and that would even be a stretch. It tries too hard with its jump scares and none of them even had a slightly startling effect. Rings completely falls on its face in terms of trying to scare the audience.

Final Thoughts

I wasn’t expecting a lot out of Rings, in fact I thought it was going to be bad in a lot of ways and it was bad and didn’t even meet my rock bottom low expectations. Rings gets a 3.2/10. It’s not a good movie, especially in comparison to the original and whether it is a remake, sequel or reboot it fails in almost every aspect.

Rings