Endgame is Here
So many things, and without spoiling anything, let's talk about them.
The acting - on my second viewing, I was able to pick up (in a technical sense, and because I was looking for it), where the actors may not have been filmed together. So much of Endgame was a secret, that many scenes were filmed with characters in front of green screens, not even knowing who they're talking to.
That's kind of a big deal.
Especially since you can't tell when it comes to the end result. I knew what to look for, and so I could spot moments that were likely filmed separate, but on my first viewing (and even on my second), I didn't care. The acting is phenomenal. They did their job - they made me feel what they were feeling.
I want to give a special shout out to Scarlett Johanssen. She's never been my favorite actress, mainly for the parts she plays, but she had me in her grip every scene she starred in. In the end, her performance was one of - if not the - strongest in the entire film.
The directing - Infinity War had some CGI issues that felt awkward and out of sorts (I'm looking at you, Thanos, Rhodey, and Banner), and actually pulled me from the story. Because of this, I felt a bit nervous on how the Russo brothers would tell their final story.
Happily for me, whatever hiccups there were in Infinity War, they made no appearance in Endgame. This movie outdid its predecessors in scale and ambition when it came to the visual feel, and every single scene shone like diamonds. The Russos pulled out all the stops and gave the greatest work of their careers thus far. I want them to top Endgame, because I want to see more movies that make me in awe of cinema the way they did here.
As I said before, many of the actors were filmed separately from each other, but the way the Russos handled this it's only possible to tell if you know what to look for. Genius.
The story - Obviously I can't actually tell you anything about the story.
What I WILL tell you is that it's compelling, interesting, and well told. As you know, I struggled with the plot holes in Infinity War, and I feared Endgame would follow suit.
No plot holes.
I haven't seen a story told this well in this genre in ages. Decades. It hit every spot it needed to. It was funny at the right moments and sad at the right moments. Serious and silly. Somber and action-packed. It does everything it needs to do to be a fulfilling and satisfying end to a 22 movie arc.
For 3 hours and 2 minutes long, I expect a lot out of each scene chosen to partake in the final story. I will say there's 1-2 scenes that feel unnecessary. They don't move the story forward. They are gratuitous (and once even acknowledged as so). Yet, for as long as the movie is, I still found myself wishing for five more minutes when it ended. That's a powerful thing.
There are no end credits scene. I REPEAT: there's nothing after initial credits or post credits.
I don't have a problem with the movie not having them, but I do have a problem with sitting through 25 minutes of trailers, 3 hours of movie, and another 20 minutes of credits only to find out there's nothing there. I'm telling you so that YOU can get up and get your legs moving. You're not missing anything. (Except a weird tinking noise like a blacksmith at work.)
4.9 feathers (those gratuitous scenes lost that .1)
If you're any sort of Marvel fan, you're already planning when you're going to see this movie (if you haven't already). If you're not sure where you stand on superhero films, make sure you've seen Civil War and Infinity War before stepping into the theater (or risk being super lost).
Go see it. Just do it.
Missing Link is Worth Missing...
In the end, I think Missing Link's biggest dilemma arrived in that it didn't know what it wanted to be. Stop motion animation isn't limited to children-only storytelling, as presented to us by Wes Anderson and others like him. However, in a movie that had only children's movies advertised in the trailers, Missing Link straddled the line between genres.
The physical comedy served the children in the audience, as did Mr. Link's innocence. However, the dialogue (almost every written joke) aimed for the adults. The end result was a clash of inappropriate or juvenile attempts at humor that almost always fell flat. I saw this film in a theater full of children, and rarely did any of us laugh.
If you're dying to see this movie - wait for free streaming.
With so many laughs, I almost thought I was at a Marvel movie. DC, the darker of the superhero genres, didn't let me laugh for too long before reminding me that they love nothing more than to crush the hearts of those watching.
There were dark moments, to be sure, especially in our first introduction to the Seven Deadly Sins. These monsters (demons?) were creepy, and maybe not for the sensitive youngsters out there.
Shazam's shining moments were found in its underlying theme of family. Billy is sent to a group home, and the foster parents love their kids with grace and sincerity. No matter what Billy throws at them, they're ready with open arms. So often in teen-focused movies these days we're presented with parents that are either absent, stupid, or uncaring. It's refreshing to see two individuals involved, in love, and devoted to their kids.
With the strongest, and most unique, story to come out of DC in ages, Shazam! is worth seeing. It's solid narrative, humor, fun, and action all rolled together.
The problem with Shazam! is it didn't stand up to afterthought. You know, that time after a movie where you replay scenes and story in your mind, think about what you watched, and draw conclusions.
Shazam! ran against a deadly sin in the world of movies.
The villain, Dr. Sivana, is nowhere near as terrifying as those who give him his power, but those who gave him his powers don't live up to their frightening introduction.
Despite presenting the Sins as horrific, violent monsters in an early, traumatizing (in a good way) scene, they never again rise to the occasion. There comes a point where I should be worried/frightened/concerned/anxious for the heroes, but I can't.
I never felt afraid.
I never felt the stakes were high enough to really care.
I enjoyed almost every minute of Shazam!, and I highly recommend seeing it. However, I still hope that DC continues to improve and doesn't rest on their success to coast into the future.
Personally, I feel DC is in an adolescent stage, and I look forward to seeing what they do in adulthood.
Initial viewing: 4 feathers
Afterthought review: 3.5 feathers
If you love superhero movies - and especially if you're a DC fan - go see Shazam!
It's worth it.
The acting - all four of the main actors AND the supporting cast were phenomenal. I love Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong'o, and they're fantastic in their dual roles. The child actors were in a class above. I'm keeping it brief so I don't write five thousand words on them alone.
The directing - I love what Jordan Peele is doing. I want to see it all.
Us had me a little less in suspense than Get Out, but I didn't enjoy it. In fact, after seeing Us twice in theaters, I'd go as far as to say it has a stronger re-watchability than it's predecessor, even if it doesn't pack quite as thrilling of a punch.
This movie made me feel...
I laughed. I jumped. I loved every minute of it. Even when I thought about it afterward, and there were questions buzzing around in my brain, I loved trying to answer them.
I have to wait who knows how long for the next Jordan Peele movie.
Go see Us. Just do it. You'll thank me later.
Dumbo is a Big No
You know I want to be positive about movies, but this is one trash fire I can't find a positive spin for.
Where do I begin? So much wrong.
The acting - this is a difficult one to discuss. There are three fantastic actors in this film who tried their hardest, but couldn't make the coal shine like a diamond.
Michael Keaton is one of my favorites, and it hurt to watch him try so hard with what little he was given. You could almost see it in his face as his over-the-top character played out on the screen. "I'm doing what I'm told." We know Michael. We know.
Danny DeVito, a long-time comedic king, seemed sad. He wandered through this movie like a man depressed. He'd signed the contract, and now he has to pay for his choices. His actions were half-hearted, and it broke mine.
Colin Farrell has had his rough patches. There are plenty of movies that have made me question his professional abilities, but none so much as Dumbo. He's a soldier who's experienced loss, a widower mourning his wife's death, and a father of two children he doesn't know. But none of this comes across. He ambles about, grumping and excusing until a poorly-accented French woman gets into his heart - goodbye dead wife.
Joe and Milly Farrier are two young children who lost their mother, yet the acting never signifies this. Joe is wooden, with lines repeated as though hand fed. He's adorable, but he can't carry the weight of his character.
Milly, meant to be the sad, heart-broken scientist in a world where women are for show doesn't come across as the strong message they intended. While Nico Parker has promising future talent, her character comes across as surly, sour, and anything but mourning. When she isn't sulking, she's blank, and I blame all of this on...
The directing - Tim Burton struggled. The editing was all over the place. Camera shots were out of focus or focused on the wrong characters. Scenery and CGI felt cartoony and silly. It wasn't right. This movie could have been heartwarming, but instead it left me cold.
The story - The greatest sin this movie committed was in the story.
Dumbo's origin back in the 1940s was rife with things that won't fly in today's world. From a child (elephant) getting drunk to racist references, Dumbo had issues from the start. One way to cut these issues out from the get go was to take away the animals anthropomorphism.
The animals don't talk - that's what the humans are for. Goodbye Timothy Q. Mouse, Dumbo's best friend. Hello sour and wooden children - two plot spewers to make sure the audience knows what's going on.
Despite no animal having a voice or a human-like characteristic, Dumbo is treated as though he understands every word of English. Dumbo is the only animal treated this way, spoken to as though he might answer back, and presented with problems to see his thoughts on the solution. The result is confusing and awkward.
Early on, the children - especially little girl Milly - apparently bond with baby Dumbo. They teach him to fly with a feather, and Milly shares the meaning of her necklace - the last gift her dead mother ever gave her. But the adults all around them treat them like they're stupid or in the way - even their own father.
Not to mention how they treat the poor baby elephant. I know animal cruelty was a part of history, but the way the HEROES of this story treated Dumbo made me want to climb into the scene and start breaking faces.
They endanger him, push him to do things he doesn't want to do, all while treating him as though he has a voice in the matter.
Dumbo (1941), everyone can agree, was sad. Even with a happy ending, it was hard to watch a tiny little cartoon elephant go through so much trauma. 2019 isn't any easier. A slightly more realistic (and insanely adorable) elephant watches with giant, tear-filled blue eyes as the world conspires against him. I'm not a fan of animal cruelty, but that's essentially all this movie is.
After plodding along for two hours, dragging the viewer with it, Dumbo reaches its climax. That super special necklace? The one Milly's mother gave her - the very LAST THING SHE GAVE HER? Milly throws it aside to prove some foggy point to the elephant, who, of course, understands every word.
Because who needs to keep a precious keepsake from their mother?
All in all, Dumbo has a *happy* ending, but it isn't earned. It's a slog-along trash fest of sadness, not a lick of hope in sight, that tosses a happy ending out despite there being very little logic to it.
I'm being generous.
It's for the cute CGI baby elephant.
Don't waste your money on Dumbo. Take your child to anything else. And if you enjoy it...I worry about how you treat your pets.
Nancy Drew is Back!
I had so much fun watching Nancy Drew.
Isn't that what we want from a movie? I left smiling, and I know I'll buy it and watch it again.
The acting - Sophia Lillis is incredible. She's sassy, silly, and spunky. Her version of Nancy is nobody's pushover, and she'll take on anyone she thinks needs to be brought down a peg or two.
While her friends weren't quite as strong, they were solid. Especially mean girl Helen.
The story - Despite never reading the book, I pegged the villain pretty early on. However, this didn't take away from enjoying the ride until Nancy figured it out.
The best thing about Nancy Drew was the friendship. It's rare to have a movie focused on young women that isn't also focused on their relationships with boys. Not so with Nancy. Throughout the film, we get to see the push and pull of teenage friendships - creating new ones and testing the limits of old ones. The way these girls work together to solve the problems they face makes this an A+ film for any teen or tween girl looking for positive role models.
I fell into the story. It absorbed me once it got going.
The scary - It's silly in hindsight, but Nancy Drew successfully creeped me out in one scene. My defenses were lowered, watching a teen mystery. I never felt truly terrified, but one scene did make me jump and remind myself I was in a movie theater with no one sitting behind me, safe as can be.
The beginning tries too hard. In its effort to set 2019's Nancy apart from the Drews of the past, the first five minutes are devoted to showing her skateboarding down the street of her small town, doing stunts when you can't see her face (thank you, stunt double).
This is followed by Nancy helping her friend get back at an overdone bully, which leads to a spot of trouble for our feisty redhead, and in turn leads to our mystery.
The overacting of some of the side characters can be a bit much, and it takes away from the focus of the mystery.
If you love a good mystery, a strong female lead, and a story about friendship, see Nancy Drew today!
Consider this Dragon Trained
Following Hiccup and Toothless on their journey is nothing short of special. They created two characters that are lovable, strong, vulnerable, and worthy of our time and attention. Seeing their story end had the little girl in front of me in tears - while her jerk little brother told her not to cry because it was only a movie.
You cry, sweet girl. Your emotions were mine. I cried, too.
There's nothing wrong with feeling the story.
There's so much to say for positivity in this movie
The story is well told. It isn't as strong as the second movie, but it's equally as strong as the first. While I was a bit disappointed in the unexpected safety net of the third movie after the tragic ending of the second, I loved that everything turned out okay with a happy ending. I didn't love feeling anxious for 3/4 of the movie.
Because the second movie had such a tragic theme, I expected the third to be even more gut-wrenching. I'd been led to believe by the director's words that I was in for loss. That's not what I received, and while I'm glad they kept the family friendly tone of the first movie, my expectations weren't met, which left a halting and less-than-perfect satisfaction.
See all three. This trilogy is strong narrative, and while the second may be the strongest, the third is the most delightful to watch.
Captain Marvel is My Hero
The acting - Brie Larson isn't what you'd expect from a superhero. She's 5' 7", has soft features, and her voice is higher and more feminine than ladies chosen in movies past.
That's what makes her so great.
Carol Danvers isn't incredible because she's a tall modelesque woman with a deep sonorous voice.
She's incredible because she isn't.
She's an everyday woman. Someone people like me can relate to. She's not the tallest, the strongest, or the best. She struggles.
And Brie Larson carries it with grace and ease. I believe she is Carol Danvers. Not one minute did I feel she was acting.
As always, Samuel L Jackson soars, and the rest of the supporting cast is amazing.
Most importantly, Lashana Lynch gives a compelling performance as Carol Danvers' best friend - a regular, everyday single mother who goes toe to toe with crazy aliens without batting an eye.
Don't even get me started on Goose, artfully played by four different orange kitty cats.
The directing - Anna Boden, in partnership with Ryan Fleck, marks a first for a woman director AND writer for a female superhero story. Together with Geneva Robertson Dworet, they crafted a story for women by women. Boden and Fleck work seamlessly for stunning shots, emotional climaxes, and a boppin' 90s playlist.
The story -
1. Let's not compare Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. They're insanely different. Just because they're the only female superhero led films in their respective camps doesn't mean they should be going toe-to-toe.
2. I LOVE CAPTAIN MARVEL SO MUCH!
I don't want to go on and on about this story or give spoilers, but I could. I've seen it multiple times in theaters, and each time it resonates more within me.
I love that Carol isn't the strongest or the best at the outset. She's limited, emotional, and chastised by her leaders. Stay in line, Carol. Don't act out, Carol.
Despite these orders, her sassy, brassy, fiery self can't help but shine through. If I were to enneagram Carol Danvers, I'd guess she was an eight.
Carol isn't someone who can be kept down. In fact, a key moment in the movie is just that - Carol being pushed down.
She always gets back up.
It's a great role model for girls everywhere. They'll tell you that you can't. They'll deny your agency. They'll push you down and tell you you're just a girl.
But you get back up.
Just like Carol Danvers.
Captain Marvel is the movie I've been waiting for. The little girl Kelsey couldn't get enough. I know who I'm going to be for Halloween.
This movie has it all - strong female leads, strong POC characters, strong narrative. It's a movie about justice, friendship, and that it's never too late to do the right thing.
Potentially disorienting for anyone who isn't familiar with Ronan, Guardians of the Galaxy, or the Tesseract.
I've seen Captain Marvel three times in theaters. What are you waiting for?
Alita: Failing Angel
Heaven help me. The negatives. I don't want to rant and rave for pages, so I'll try to pick out what I hated most. This might become spoilery - you've been warned.
No rating. I can't give it a feather. It isn't worth one.
It's your choice, but I will never tell anyone I know to see Alita: Battle Angel.
The only way I'd see a sequel is if they learn how to handle Alita herself, stop insulting my intelligence, and give Hugo the pink slip.
Isn't It Hilarious
Because I love my readers, I can't tell you what that moral is. I almost thought they were going to miss it - a real #swanitude moment - but then they swung back around and hit a home run.
Rebel Wilson is a positive female lead, and a rarity amongst Hollywood. In her late 30s, more voluptuous, and with a history of being the sidekick, Rebel isn't what Hollywood generally puts in the Leading Lady category. Yet Rebel owns the role and your affection as the lovable Natalie, an architect with low self-esteem and a sarcastic sense of humor.
We're treated, once again, to Hemsworth humor - this time in the form of younger brother Liam. While not as funny as big brother Chris, he still shines as the American-turned-Australian Blake, a millionaire's son who falls for Natalie in the Romantic Comedy world Natalie wakes up in.
I can't say enough about the musical scene with Rebel and Adam Devine. Whitney Huston would be honored (I think) to see them bopping to one of her best beats.
Plus, the ending has a fun surprise.
The Negative -
You can't expect Isn't it Romantic to be A Star is Born. It's a chick-flick. Something fun, light, and mindless to soothe you after a hard day. Compare it to its fellows, and you'll have a grand time.
There are a few moments where Isn't it Romantic misses the mark, but it makes up for it with fun, heart, and happiness intentionally soaked in tropes and cliches.
Catch Isn't it Romantic for a girls night or with your guys. You'll have a great time.
Ranting, raving, loving every minute of it - let's talk movies.