Lucien’s Review: Logan

It’s nice to see that Twentieth Century Fox has the balls and creative integrity to do what Disney’s Marvel isn’t capable of doing – taking risks.  And hot shit are those risks paying off!  This is not only the Wolverine film that all of us have been hoping for since the very beginning of seeing this character, but also the superhero film that so many of us have been waiting for.  And as I said, it was Twentieth Century Fox who brought it to us.  The studio didn’t seem to believe this film nor the one whose sequel was teased in the beginning would even find a fanbase, but find it they did.  Perhaps the fat cat suits in Hollywood can actually realize that making a superhero film that isn’t for kids can be profitable.  Perhaps we can get to see some of our favorite dark superheroes brought to light.  Netflix is doing a pretty good job working with this.  Their Punisher is pretty badass.  This is a fantastic movie.  Let’s talk about it.

Anyone in my audience who actually wants to see this film already has.  I realize that since my reviews are always late, I am going to start trying to find an angle to talk about which everyone else hasn’t.  So no plot recap.  It’s an adaptation of the Old Man Logan storyline, where we get to meet an equally-badass character – X-23.  A tragic tale of the death of two of the greatest mutants to ever live, along with the introduction that hopefully isn’t wasted.

The glue that holds this movie together is the performances.  Hugh Jackman definitely steals the show as an aging Logan.  His powers are starting to fail him, and his age has finally caught up with him.  A lost soldier, he’s not looking for a spot to live.  He’s looking for a place to die.  But over the course of the film he comes to realize that he has one last chance to truly feel what it’s like to be alive.  A lot of comparisons have been made between this film and the incredible game The Last of Us, and I can kind of see that.  Jackman makes a pretty good Joel of the film, equally as gruff and equally tired of being alive.  And just like Joel, he meets a companion who makes him want to live again.  Only difference is how it all ends, and the level of dark implications for both characters.  Logan gets his redemption in the end.  Joel does not, but that is part of why the narrative works.

Next up with have Patrick Stewart.  Part of me likes the dark implications with this character.  There is some backstory to what happened to him that you never fully understand.  He’s done something horrible, and just like Logan, his powers are failing him.  Two of the last mutants on Earth, both of them are equally lost.  As his mind is slowly faltering, he goes from a mutant who doesn’t care about anything, to getting to enjoy one last adventure with the only friend he has left.  Stewart plays the old man with nowhere left to go very well.  You believe the chemistry between him and Logan.  He simultaneously hates and depends on his angry companion, and the juxtaposition does not escape his notice.

Of course, the character everyone is talking about is X-23.  This girl brought the character to life incredibly well.  This could so easily have been botched, as so many child actors just suck, but this girl brought her a-game to the table and it shows.  Just like Joel and Ellie in the game that everyone says this story is ripping off, the bond that grows between these two is believable.  They do take moments to address the reality that both of them are becoming killers and there is no going back.

Something else I want to talk about is the language in this movie.  As I said, I am loving the fact that we have comic movies with the balls to go this far, but part of me can’t help but early on was just so forced.  Some of the times that they would be laying down the word fuck liberally just felt so middle school.  I like hearing Professor X swear, but don’t make me think that it was put in there just because.  Fuck is a great word, but use it when you mean it.

Another thing is the carnage.  Everyone who reviewed this movie said that it was grotesque and violent, hard-R, I was told.  It’s violent, but don’t be fooled.  This isn’t Robocop levels of grotesque.  It has blood and gore, but still plays it safe.  That being said, while they may not always embrace how vicious it can be, the kills still felt visceral.  When you have Logan tearing people apart, you actually feel like that would hurt.  This film knew that it could take risks but only to a point.  I mean, if it really stuck to how disgusting Logan’s murder sprees would be, people would call it gore porn.  The creators of the film wisely chose to make emphasis on the killing to make it feel personal.  And when you watch X-23 on top of a gut tearing him open, you can tell that that would be scary as fuck to witness.

All things considered, this was a ballsy, very intense superhero film.  The most I have seen since The Dark Knight.  It took risks that no film of its genre would dare doing, and I am so desperately hoping it won’t be the last.  Disney’s Marvel will never have the guts.  Not unless they pawn it off on some lesser Disney studio so if it sucks they can give the blame there.  That’s what they did with Princess Mononoke.  See, Disney owned the rights to Studio Ghibli films, but Miyazaki outright refused to make any cuts to the violence in his magnum opus.  The film was a huge hit in Japan and Disney wanted a piece of that pie.  So rather than fight with Miyazaki when he sent a katana to the head of Disney at the time with a note attached saying “no cuts,” they pawned it off to a studio that they owned but was far away enough from Disney to be able to distribute it without them looking bad.  A clever tactic.  And it worked.  I am hoping that some film creators come to them after Infinity War, when the MCU will be toning down and sputtering away, and wants to look at some of the more violent superheros in the library and give them a fair shake.  Take a note form how big a success this movie and Deadpool have been, Disney.  You can do this.  The reward will come in ten-fold.  Not to mention, both of the movies that have taken this approach have made the most of having a smaller budget.  The limited resources not only meant that they had to be more clever in making them, but also that they could much more easily recoup their budget.  Deadpool and Logan have been massive financial successes.  Hint-hint!

This was a phenomenal movie.  It’s sad to see Logan go, but the X-Men brand has gotten kind of stale anyway.  But please, for the love of Groj, do NOT let the next film with X-23 be some watered-down version of this character!  She’s a violent killing machine.  Respect that.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Blade Runner 2049 Teaser Trailer

My girl and I recently saw Deni Villeneuve’s latest film Arrival.  It was smart science fiction done perfectly right.  I have SO been missing smart sci-fi.  With all the stupid shit that I get subjected to all the time in big blockbusters, it is just awesome that I saw a science fiction film that isn’t just shit blowing up and people killing people.  In fact, the killing in the movie is treated as something that should be seen off-screen.  He wanted to make the movie about the characters that it’s happening to.  I love this guy’s movies.  He takes complicated themes and applies them to kinds of films that we’ve seen a million times.  Granted, they aren’t for everyone, but he doesn’t shy away from that.  When I heard that there was going to be a sequel to Blade Runner, I was so fucking nervous.  I mean, there are so many ways that that could be fucked up.  Since Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies of all time, my nerves were piqued.  But then I heard who is directing it, and I saw Arrival.  Now I know that it is in perfect hands.  You couldn’t ask for better.

Got to thinking – maybe Arrival was Denis trying his hands at sci-fi.  Like, he wanted to see what he could do with a story that is as overdone as it gets, just to see if he could tackle a film that is slow, methodical, and filled with all kinds of subtext.  He nailed it, and because he nailed it once, I am positive that he can do the first film justice.  They have released a teaser trailer, and this is all I am going to be watching of the trailers that are released, because this was all I needed to see to get interested in seeing where the story goes.

We open with a scene of the dismal gray of the world.  Since the original film borrowed so much from noire style, I like that this movie is making sure to remind us that they haven’t forgotten that.  We then get to see a very orange world.  Where is this?  The film doesn’t up and tell us that, which is all for the better.  Maybe one of the off-world colonies?  That honestly would be pretty sick.  Our protagonist is approaching some dilapidated structure.  Already we are seeing subtlety.  Did you notice the door to the building that our protagonist enters?  Above them there is some writing.  It’s Korean.  That’s just awesome!  Since the street language from the original film was an amalgamation of various languages, it’s kind of cool that the building that this guy enters has Korean on it.  Villeneuve is already all over making this feel right.

Our protagonist is played by Ryan Gosling.  Excellent.  After watching Drive, I know that he’s the perfect pick for a movie like this.  He can do slow plotting and subtle acting.  He’s one of those actors who really gets into a role.  Can’t wait to see how he acts off of Harrison Ford.  Speaking of, we get to hear our favorite Blade Runner!  Yay!  And he doesn’t look medicated!  My biggest problem throughout ALL of The Force Awakens was how Ford looked like he couldn’t possibly care less about being in that film.  Now he actually looks like he gives a fuck.  This can only mean good things.  Villeneuve is something if a deranged perfectionist, so the way I see it, if Ford was willing to stick this out, it meant something to him.  Either that or the studio held a gun to his head and threatened a lawsuit if he didn’t comply.  But I’d like to think that he did it because he wanted to.

There are so many questions.  In the original film, the assumption was that Deckard was a replicant.  The theory is that all Blade Runners are.  They create replicants to hunt other replicants.  It’s a twisted reality.  So, since replicants have a life span, what’s the story with him?  What has happened since the events of the original film?  Gosling’s character says that things were “so much simpler back then.”  I take it that the replicant situation has gone more than a little out of control.  It was hinted that that was the inevitable result of using cloned people to do the dirty work that no one wanted to do.  That some kind of violent uprising was inevitable.  What’s happened?  Since it is Villeneuve working on the film, I know that there are some amazing answers that will be coming.

We leave the orange-tinted world that Deckard is in, and go back the rainy city.  A reminder to us that it is in the world of Blade Runner?  I suppose.  But the real treat is getting to hear a snippet of that iconic theme as the title comes up.  Font and all, this is so perfect.  I cannot wait to see where this goes.  Next October can’t come fast enough.

Initial Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Five Things I Hate Challenge

I’ve seen this idea making its way around the YouTube community, and since I am as original as a Subway Reuben sandwich (a concept that sounds disgusting beyond words), I thought that I would get in on the fun and do my own list of five things that I hate.  Rather than do some easy over-the-plate answers like SJWs and modern feminism, I thought I would talk about things that actually apply to my daily life.  Things that I have to deal with that just get under my skin and piss me the fuck off.  Here is my list of five things that I REALLY hate.

5. People who tell me to be more positive
I get this one all the fucking time at work.  I work a customer service job for a state industry that involves children and money.  You can probably extrapolate what it is from what I’ve said.  It is the most thankless job in the world, and I have to deal with some of the biggest scum-fucks ever.  But I am professional with everyone who calls.  I keep the same level tone with everyone.  Sure, there has been a slip-up or two, but I have always been at my very best.  However, once I hang up the phone from call with worthless parent #24 for that day, I sometimes need to vent.  Sometimes I have to call the lazy cunt who is bitching about having to pay because she is a worthless parent.

This has gotten people to be like, “you need to be more positive!”  I hear this shit all the time, and it never fails to illicit at least a little of my annoyance.  Let me have my moment of negativity.  I have to put on a happy face for every fucking asshole who calls in to scream at me about how me and my organization are thieves.  I deserve to have a moment to acknowledge how unpleasant it all is.  If there wasn’t this entire division singing about how it is so valuable and we are such wonderful people, maybe we could have an honest conversation about how miserable the job is.  Maybe then, real change could be made to make things less shitty.  Like getting a pinball machine for the break room or something.  You know, little ideas like that to make the day suck less.  Oh, but we can’t have that.  Instead, we have to find bullshit ways to pretend that it is just the happiest place in the world.  These people are insulting my fucking intelligence every time I have the super-cheerful boss come in and say how great every day is.

Fact is, I don’t get why everyone is so insane about trying to be positive all the time.  Life isn’t that great.  If a person needs to let some dark thoughts out into the zeitgeist to get through their day, why does everyone act like they took a piss in their coffee?  Does the attitude of someone that you don’t actually like all that much really bother you?  If you are so needing all life around you to be sunshine and roses then you have much deeper insecurities that you should probably address.  As for me, I live with depression caused by brain damage.  I’ll do what I do.

4. The endless sequels, remakes, and reboots
This goes for both video games and movies.  I am really hating the way things are nowadays.  Seems like every thing that is made is either a sequel, a remake, or a reboot.  The sequels are the worst.  Marvel has become a sequel machine.  Sure, there are the diamonds in the rough, like Civil War, Winter Soldier, and what I am hoping will be Spider-Man: Homecoming.  But for all the truly fantastic stuff, you have to slog through a bunch of complete shit.  I don’t have the energy for it.  I have never and will never watch any of the Thor movies.  Nor did I watch Ant-Man, or the original Captain America movie.  I didn’t want to.  This gets even worse for video games.  Seems like every major AAA game is a sequel.  This just bores me to no end.

Then we get the remakes.  Part of me is glad that we are seeing some truly toxic remakes coming out.  This year we got to see a Ghostbusters remake crash and burn on impact, which is for the best.  Hollywood is clearly out of ideas.  We can make fun of some of the bonkers and outright stupid shit that came from the 90’s, but you gotta give it this much – it was at least original.  I miss the days when studios would take huge risks with movies all so that people could let their creativity flow.

Finally, there are reboots.  These are no better.  The worst offender in recent memory is The Force Awakens.  I swear, there was a movie in there, but I couldn’t see it over this sheen of another film that came out 40 years ago that was so much better.  It’s like this movie was trying so desperately to riff on it.  You get the defenders coming out like, “it’s introducing a new generation to Star Wars!”  To those fucks, I say – you do own a DVD player, right?  You have Netflix?  Then what the fuck do you need this movie for?!  Watch the originals then, you stupid fucks!  This movie was boring.  It was dull.  I knew where the plot would go from beginning to end.  Not one thing surprised me or even got my attention.  The humor was cringe-worthy at best.  The “empowering female stormtrooper” has no face and barely any lines.  Harrison Ford looked medicated the whole time.  Daisy Ridley can’t act for shit.  Nothing about that movie was nearly as good as people said it would be.  I won’t be seeing the sequel in theaters.  Hell, I doubt I will see Rogue One in theaters either.  Spoilers be damned.

Every time I see a sequel, remake, or reboot coming out, I think of all the wasted potential that could have gone to a legitimately good film.  The wondering about what could have been, all the while realizing that I am just watching the same shit come out, over and over again.  Maybe the reason that DC films are being panned so much is that they are coming out and riffing on Marvel, and it just looks tacky at this point.

3. When people ask why I’m not dating
Yeah, this one was coming.  Every fucking year at the holidays, I have at least one person ask, “why aren’t you dating anyone?”  Oh, fuck off!  Yeah, like finding a relationship is just something I can go down to the corner store and do.  Meeting people is time-consuming, and I don’t even have time for friendships with this job.  Or rather, friends don’t have time for me because they have all their own adult shit.  I’m sad and lonely, so I got nothing but time when I’m not at work.  I don’t do the bar scene or the party scene, so where exactly am I supposed to meet people?  Everyone acts like all I do is just sit around and jerk it.  I keep trying to meet people, wherever I can.  But with this job and my limited finances associated with my shit pay, there’s only so much that I can do.

For so many years, I have had people who don’t know shit about me telling me about how I am doing this thing wrong or that thing wrong and judging me for not being married and talking about having a baby by now.  The reality is that the longer you are single, the more likely it is that you will stay single.  Statistically, I am totally fucked.  Oh well.  It was fun while it lasted.  Hope is a curse, after all.

2. When a person is about to say something critical of me, then stops, refusing to continue when I ask them to elaborate
Any of you have this problem?  Someone who you trust to be honest with you has their dander up and is all annoyed and just when they are about to tell you what bug has crawled up their ass, they suddenly stop.  When you ask them to elaborate, they just shrug it off like, “nope!”  So there you are, knowing that they are upset with you about something, and now they are just going to peace out.  Which means that now I have to wonder about it all day.  And you just KNOW that they aren’t going to forget about whatever it is that was pissing them off.  It becomes a cycle of the person being all pissy and passive-aggressive with you until they finally explode about it.

Why can’t people just be honest about how they feel and work things out with people?  We live in a generation of people who have to have safe spaces and don’t want to be honest because they fear confrontation.  Where I come from, if you are mad at someone, you have it out.  Then it’s done.  No dwelling, no passive-aggressive.  It’s just done.  Over the years, I have had so many people who have this problem.  Refusing to talk to me about what was bugging them has ruined at least one relationship, and a couple of friendships.  Anytime that someone is actively avoiding talking to me about something, that’s a red flag that it isn’t some stupid thing but something actively important that shouldn’t be ignored.

The worst thing is that I am all about resolving conflicts.  Having watched so many relationships fall apart due to not talking about things that needed to be talked about, anytime that I sense something is wrong, I press the issue.  Granted, if a person tells me that they don’t want to talk at that point, but they will get with me about it later, that’s fine.  However, if they then do not do so and start with the passive-aggressive bullshit, I will call them out on it.

1. SNOW!
For the last few years, winter in my state has been pretty awesome.  It barely existed.  That has been pretty fucking sweet.  All this climate change stuff has been a real boon to me.  Sure, pretty much is bitching and complaining about there not being enough snow, but fuck that noise!  I think it was awesome.  However, it seems that the good times are over and now things are back to a much more typical winter.  Oh boy.  Isn’t that just swell.  Which means now I have to deal with the white shit.

Sure, it is pretty to watch fall, but here’s the thing – I have a commute to work in the morning!  You know what that means?  That means that I have to deal with this shit every day.  And because I am an actually safe driver, I have to take more time out and get to work early.  I also carpool with my lady friend, so that adds even more time.  I’m not complaining about that part.  I only get so much time with her before she leaves, so I gotta take what I can get.  But it sucks that everything in my life gets immediately more difficult because I gotta deal with all this white shit everywhere.  And since everyone gets really fucking stupid when it snows, the chances of me getting killed by some dumbass goes up exponentially.

In the end, snow is just more of a challenge than it is something to like.  If you are one of those people who thinks that snow is awesome and whatever, I have no words for you.  You’re a weird fuck.

What are some of the things that you hate?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“I’m getting real sick of your shit, winter.” – meme

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Arrival

arrivalWhen the film ended, and I looked over at my darling companion, the first thing she said is that this movie was complicated.  That’s a statement that can and DOES apply to all Denis Villeneuve’s movies.  This is a guy who expects nothing less than perfect from whatever he makes, and because of that puts out some of the most underrated films that I have ever seen.  The man loves to make his movies complicated, with both themes and symbolism that you can easily miss.  When my girl and I got to talking about the movie after we got done watching, I pointed out something that I am reasonably certain I caught that she missed.  I won’t say what it is.  I hope that there are going to be some fantastic arguments with people about all the parts of the movie.  This was the most unexpected sci-fi movie about aliens landing, and it is this movie that makes me absolutely certain that the sequel to Blade Runner (one of my all-time favorite films) is in good hands.

The plot of the film follows Amy Adams’ character, as a professor of language who seems to have had a tragedy befall her life.  I can’t tell you what it is.  Trust me, it plays into the plot in a big way.  While dealing with this, a series of strange crafts come to Earth from the stars.  The military asks her to come with them and help to establish contact, as they are completely unable to communicate with the beings.  The film chronicles her efforts to speak with the creatures, and decipher the one question that has the entire world on edge – what is your purpose on Earth?  A question that is far more difficult than you’d think to ask.

I cannot begin to praise how believable the elements of this film are without an INSANE level of exposition.  This feels so genuine.  So much of that pends on Amy Adams for her performance.  This woman is a rising star in my eyes of actresses.  She is fantastic in this role, and I hope to see her in more fantastic movies in the future.  The way she explains the usage of language and shows just how much of an academic understanding she has of the medium is wonderful.  When the film wants to show that knowledge, it does so incredibly well.  Amy Adams is the glue that held this movie together, and it is was damn-near perfect glue.

But let’s not cute short the rest of the performances.  Jeremy Renner is very good in his role.  You can see the development of his character from a science who takes what Adams’ character believes not seriously at all to respecting her as he sees just how good she is and how hard she is willing to push herself.  The relationship that develops between the two is believable and by the end, you feel their connection without some cliche kiss in the rain or something like that.  Just through little expressions, you see them growing on each other.

Then there is Forest Whitaker’s character.  In fact, everything to do with the military in this movie was worlds better than what you see the military like in other films.  Sure, they are quick to assume deadly intent, but you can see just how powerless and fearful they are.  This is so much bigger than any one nation, and as the situation grows more and more tense, globally, it makes sense why they are so on edge.  Whitaker grows to depend on his two experts feels real and even how he is having to obey orders when he knows that the situation is more complicated.  I hate in movies how the military is treated like some “let’s just shoot them” group.  Sure, we in ‘Murica do tend to shoot first and ask questions never, but in a situation where we don’t know if shooting might result in global destruction, even ‘Murica would have to bend to the idea of trying to find a peaceful solution.  Granted, there are some “we need to blow them up” moments, but there is enough time of them being unsure and trying to look into other alternatives that I can believe when it gets there.

Now let’s get to the effects in this movie.  I won’t claim that they are perfect.  In fact, there is one scene in-particular where Adams’ CG hair is so bad that it is kind of funny.  But this film keeps the visual effects to a minimum.  And when it wants to shine, it really does.  Since the entire conflict in the film is about translating the aliens’ language, the scenes where we get to see both sides communicating are just awesome.  I love the visual design for the language.  I wonder how much effort went into designing it.  Since Villeneuve tends to be an insane perfectionist in his movies, I get the feeling that it was a lot.

Lastly, if you are going to see this movie, keep in mind that it’s dense.  If you’ve seen this director’s other words, you should know that going into it.  It asks some pretty hard questions, and I can’t wait to get it on blu-ray so I can rewatch it and maybe do a Critical Examination of the film and some of the stuff I saw.  My compatriot wasn’t in the right mindset for how dense some of this got, but I could tell she was impressed when I took some of it and laid it straight.  Plus, I loved getting to watch a movie with her.  We don’t get to hang out nearly enough.  But she’s a busy girl.  Adulthood, am I right?

This was a fantastic movie.  It’s not for everyone.  If you are looking for some alien thriller with all kinds of action, you are DEFINITELY going to the wrong place.  I honestly recommend that anyone who wants to see this movie avoid trailers.  They spoil things.  This director doesn’t get the respect he deserves, but hopefully movies like this get him some more mainstream acclaim.  I can’t wait to see what he does with the Blade Runner universe.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

kingsglaiveFor those of you who know my thoughts on the film Final Fantasy VII: Adventure Children, you may see where I’m going with this.  Only this time, instead of a film that just assumes that we know all the characters and the struggles of the universe it is set in based on an established franchise, we get a film that assumes that we know all the characters and struggles of the universe of a franchise that hasn’t even been established yet.  If you went into this without knowing a single thing about Final Fantasy XV and the lore surrounding it, you will be VERY confused.  But it does looks pretty amazing.  Let’s talk about it.

The plot of the film is pretty much a prequel to the game, but this time with more extravagant outfits.  Okay.  We have King Regis, voiced by Sean Bean.  Make your “when does he die” jokes here.  This is weird, because as I understand it, he isn’t in the game.  Why have him in this movie?  Then we have Luna, voiced by Lena Headey.  This is also weird.  Partly because as I understand it, she is also not in the game, but then there is the fact that her voice does NOT go with this character.  She is clearly well into middle age, voicing a character who is supposed to be in her younger years.  It does NOT go well together.  You have Aaron Paul doing the voice of one of Regis’ soldiers, the Kingsglaive.  They are charged with fighting the invading Nifelheim army to hold them back.  It’s a useless battle, since the invading force is vastly more powerful.  Seeing defeat as inevitable, Regis is making an effort to sign a treaty.  However, this gets wrapped up in a very dull plot about betrayal and action.  Lots and lots and lots of action.

To this movie’s credit, the visuals are nothing short of incredible.  This film is a testament to the power of whatever visual software Square Enix is using.  It truly is incredible.  And this film is infinitely more colorful than the studio’s last work in Advent Children.  So the colors get more of a chance to pop.  When it isn’t so ridiculously over the top with fight sequences that never end, this movie can look pretty damn amazing.  Too bad I got so little chance to take any of it in.  Maybe because the film decided that it wants to be wall-to-wall action without end.

Now we get into my gripes.  For starters, why are they using voice actors that aren’t even in the game?  I know for a fact that neither Sean Bean nor Lena Heady are in this game.  Aaron Paul did his best to sell his performance.  Since none of the characters were particularly interesting, I enjoyed his role the most.  At least there I could tell that there was a genuine enthusiasm.  Sean Bean sounds bored.  As does Lena Heady.  The whole cast sounds like it couldn’t possibly care less about anything that was happening in the film.  There was this weirdly level thing about everything that everyone said.  Even when it was supposed to be very emotional, everyone is monotone.  Oh how I hope the game this is supposed to be a prequel for isn’t like that.  Otherwise it will get really old, really quick.

And that’s another thing – this movie took ZERO time to world-build.  They talk about refuges and parts of the world, none of which we get to see.  We don’t get why there is this huge intolerance of the refugees, or where their little catch-phrase comes into play.  I really would have liked it if we could have taken some time to get to know ANY of the world that Noctis and his chums get to explore in the game.  I mean, we are watching this movie to get a taste of the game, right?  Is the entire game just nothing but over-the-top action non-stop?  If so, then to be honest, I’m a little nervous.  But then I remember – Advent Children was much the same.  So hopefully I have nothing to worry about.

This film exemplifies everything that armchair film critics say about modern blockbusters.  There was hardly a quiet scene one.  In fact, the whole movie was basically just going from one crazy set-piece to another with only a minute or two of quiet time.  This film doesn’t give you time to breathe.  And since it wants you to care a great deal about these characters that we are stuck with, it would help if at least one of them was fun to be around, or if we knew them beyond a name.  The action went on WAY past the point where it should have ended.  There was this moment toward the end of the third act where I saw a perfect chance for the film to stop.  It was when King Regis died.  It was actually pretty emotional.  It had everything for a powerful and depressing climax.  We all knew that there wasn’t going to be a happy ending here.  So why not stop there?  Oh, right, we have an even bigger and even more insane battle sequence that never ends to go to.

All things considered, if you are able to completely turn off your brain and enjoy the pretty lights and watching things blow up (I mean more than with a Michael Bay film), or if you are the ultimate die-hard fan of the license, then I guess that this is the film for you.  For me, I was just really bored throughout most of it.  I was hoping to see some of these characters and get to know them better.  But nope.  It’s just endless explosions and fighting.  What’s more, they are hinting that the whole film is really just a story about an evil nation trying to take over the world.  So is that going to be the game?  I kind of hope not.  I mean, sure, I figure there will be some fantastic elements of world-saving, but I am also hoping that the central focus of the story is Noctis and his comrades fighting to reclaim his throne.  That was what I always thought it would be.  Am I wrong?  Let’s hope so.  This isn’t a bad movie.  It’s just boring.  Very, very boring.

Final Verdict
5 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Wolf Children

wolf-childrenI honestly should have reviewed this movie on Mother’s Day.  It is the most fitting time of year for it.  Alas, I ordered this movie now, and it arrived when it did.  If there was ever a film that will make you appreciate your mother more than this, I can’t honestly think of it.  Especially if she was a single mother.  Of course, it is from the visionary director of Summer Wars, a movie that made a big family feel like real people.  It is not only my favorite film by Mamoro Hasoda, but also one of my favorite films of all time.  While this isn’t as good as that, it is still a feel-good film that will touch your heart.  Take my word for it.

Just like Summer Wars, this is a film that combines surreal elements with very realistic family ones.  It tells the story of a girl who meets a boy.  The two fall in love, but the boy has a secret.  One that he passes on to their very special children.  But then he is gone, and now the mother is on her own to raise these two pups and try to maintain a normal life.  What follows is the tale of her very, very difficult life with these two young ones.  Not a complicated story, but it is ALL in the execution.

Talking about the animation in this film is a complete waste of time.  Anime films are almost-uniformly beautiful, and this one is no exception.  It is a gorgeous film to look at and every shot is near-perfect.  The voice-acting is top-notch as well.  The stand-out role is the mother.  I just love how subdued her performance is.  All of her best moments are subtle, and you have to be paying attention to find them.  Like where she is with her daughter and just has a line about wishing their father had taught her how to deal with things.  It’s powerful because it conveys how powerless and lonely she feels, having to stay away from all life except that of her two special children.  But that’s not to say that the rest of the cast isn’t fantastic.

Summer Wars was about family and staying connected.  Wolf Children is about community.  And the rest of the community are fantastic.  Just like the family in the other film, they all have their own personalities and getting to know them is part of the fun.  Plus, it helps show the growth of the mother as she comes to accept that there is a place in the world for her special family.  My favorite of the neighbors is the asshole old man.  He’s such a cliche, but man is it in how you execute it.  He’s such an asshole, but as you peel away the layers you find that there is a man with compassion like you’ve never seen.

Thing was, I never really got to know what this sort of life was like.  I grew up in a place where pretty much everyone around me was family.  For most of my childhood, I would go from one family member to the next.  My favorite one to hang with was my grandma.  Maybe that’s why I love Summer Wars so much.  But I have wondered what tight-knight communities are like.  When I get out of this state, perhaps I’ll find out.  City life is so damn lonely.  The jobs are here, but there’s no sense of belonging.  This city is such a poor place.  Jobs are here, but they don’t pay well, and poverty is rampant.  It sucks, and I honestly am growing to hate it more and more.  Once I am out of here, the goal is some little seaside community, hopefully on the west coast.  Man, there was a digression.

As I said, the biggest character you grow to like is the mother.  Everything about her character, from the animation to the voice acting portrays a woman trying so damn hard and having life often be very unkind to her and her tiny tag-alongs.  While we’re at it, let’s talk about the kids.  Child characters in anime often annoy.  And I’m not gonna lie, these kids do too.  But here’s the thing about these kids annoying me that other kids don’t – it’s because they feel like real kids.  And I don’t like children.  Don’t want any of my own, and it’s looking like I will get my wish on that end, since my personal life is a dead heap of broken dreams.  I actually dislike these characters because they feel like the kinds of kids who would be bothering me when I am hanging with the adults.  Kids like me.  It’s strange.  Maybe because I am a giant.  Yeah, I get the feeling that’s it.

All things considered, I do love this movie.  It isn’t one of my favorite anime films, but it is a movie that I can just put on to feel good with.  This movie will make you smile.  It will make you cry.  It will also make you want to call your mother and be nice to her.  Hopefully you all love it too.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Batman: The Killing Joke

batman-the-killing-jokeOne of the biggest comics of all time has finally been made into a movie.  I’m honestly surprised it took this long.  It’s probably the most well-known of Alan Moore’s comics, and for good reason.  The visuals, the incredibly dark story, and the cryptic ending that a lot of people have had some very interesting discussions about.  It’s all very cool, and while I’m not a comic book person, even I have to respect the classics such as that.  This film was created in the vein of the best of that.  At least, when it was telling the story of the comic.  When it wasn’t, this movie has one of the most surreal subplots that goes from 0-60 in a nanosecond.  It was seriously so jarring that I was given whiplash.  I don’t get how this movie was able to do this.  They could have easily followed the plot of the comic and it would have been a short but sweet film.  Most of my review, in fact, is going to focus on that subplot, because it is such a problem.  But let’s get down to the nit and grit first.

I won’t give a plot summary.  If you know anything about Batman comics, you already know what it is.  Joker is getting his dander up about fucking with Batman’s day, by putting a bullet into Barbara Gordon’s back and terrorizing her father.  That should have been all of the plot, but nope!  Still not where I want to be to talk about the biggest flaw in this movie, so let’s get some other stuff out of the way.

The animation of this movie isn’t superb, which is a little strange.  I may not always like the movies from WB Animation, but I have always seen their animation as spot-on.  It’s really something.  Especially the action sequences.  For the flaws of the films from this studio, the slick action has always been something that I have enjoyed.  And to this movie’s credit, when it wants to shine, it does.  But it’s just so ho-hum the rest of the time.  It’s kind of like a typical episode of Batman: The Animated Series.  My biggest problem with this episode takes pretty much the runtime of an average episode of that series, so maybe it fits.

When it comes to the acting, we got some of the best.  We got Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their iconic roles, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The girl who played Batgirl is also pretty good.  I think they even got the butler from The Animated Series too..  That was a nice touch.

But now we get to the part that I want to talk about.  This isn’t really one movie.  It’s a movie and an episode of The Animated Series.  The first 28 minutes of this film is literally some other movie.  It has absolutely ZERO connection to the events that follow it.  None.  It tells the story of a case surrounding a man who has a creepy obsession with Batgirl.  This plot has zero relevance to what happens later.  Absolute zero.  You could cut it out of the film and it wouldn’t hurt a thing.  I am just trying to understand why it is in here.  For real, why?  I’m about to spoil this subplot, but since it does absolutely zip to affect the rest of the film, that doesn’t do any damage.

What’s more, it’s a strange as fuck subplot too.  You have this guy who is obsessed with Batgirl.  Okay.  You have Batgirl and Batman investigating, and there being some tension between the two.  Okay.  Then you find out from Barbara talking to her gay friend that she is into some guy who is an authority figure in her life.  Gee, I wonder who that is.  Okay.  This is the kind of stuff that really should have been spaced out more.  You have what would be two or three episodes worth of personal exploration in the series that this animation is riffing on condensed into 15 minutes of plot.  The pacing of this little “episode” is just nuts!  There is something about how Batgirl won’t know what it is to be in her position unless she goes to the edge.  Alright.  Then sex!  Wait, what?  As I said, 0-60 in a nanosecond.

The choices done in making this part of the film just baffles me.  Why do this?  The plot of “The Killing Joke” is all you need.  For real, that’s it.  All you’d have to do is have that plot.  The movie would be half an hour shorter, sure, but whatever.  Why add this on when it literally goes nowhere and once it’s done you are basically told to forget about it.  Hell, the movie even tells you to forget about it.  With some stupid narration that opens and closes the “episode,” you as an audience member are told to forget about it.  It is impossible for me to fathom why this choice was made.  It brings the pace of this movie to a grinding halt and leaves you feeling like your time was wasted because the film even tells you that it was meaningless.  I don’t get this.  It’s pissing me off.  Part of me wishes that there was some whole other movie made to explain this, because you are basically force-fed through exposition that Barbara is into Batman.  Where did this come from?

This has NOTHING to do with the whole “bat-sex” thing that so many critics like Angry Joe got on.  I don’t care about that.  If B-man and B-girl want to get their freak on, that’s fine.  But I need to care about it.  I need to care about why this is happening.  But I don’t.  It’s packed into another movie that has NOTHING to do with this plot.  That’s my problem here.

All in all, this isn’t a bad movie.  For real, when we get to the part that is the namesake of this movie, it’s actually pretty good.  However, to get there, we have to wade through a subplot that is like a drive-by episode of The Animated Series.  After a year of bad DC films, I was really hoping that this would be the one to make it all better.  But nope.  It was just another so-so movie to add to the pile.  And all thanks to that retarded subplot.  What a shame.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick