Star Wars: The Last Jedi review

It’s been a week since the eighth installment of everyone’s favourite space opera hit the theatres, and while critics have generally concluded it’s one of the best Star Wars films ever, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has fans divided. Many point to Rian Johnson’s writing and vision for the film, which took on a new approach than we’ve previously seen. While a large majority of fans expected to see an Empire Strikes Back rehash much like the New Hope revamp we saw in The Force Awakens, Johnson went a completely different route, creating what almost felt like the conclusion of a trilogy rather than a bridge-gap film for the next installment.

WARNING: There will be spoilers mentioned in this article, I’ll begin with my spoiler-free review first.

First off, this is the best shot Star Wars film ever. It’s not even close. From the mirrors scene with Rey on Ahch-To, to the stunning red salt on the crystal planet of Crait, there are many scenes that are visually stunning. There’s also a scene where there’s about twenty seconds of dead silence, leaving the audience to gaze at the spectacular scene unfolding in front of them. Even the settings where stunning in their own way. Snoke’s lair was intimidating, while many fans are divided about the gambling planet of Canto Bight, there are also some pretty fascinating interior shots of the casino, definitely unexpected from a Star Wars film.

What also makes this film standout, is the incredible acting from Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. While he wore his mask for a large chunk of The Force Awakens, Rian Johnson decided to let Ren ditch the helmet in The Last Jedi, which was a brilliant move, as we once again saw the inner conflict within Kylo Ren tear him apart. Also, me and fellow contributor Nathan Hutton agreed that Kylo Ren is the best written Star Wars character, ever. While we’ve still got one film left to ultimately figure out the conclusion of Ren’s story arc, to this point, it’s been nothing short of fantastic. Once I get to my spoiler part I’ll be able to elaborate on this more, but at this point this entire trilogy feels centered around Kylo Ren, not Rey, which is where some people might be falsely accusing the film.

I went back and watched The Force Awakens last night, and I’m torn whether I prefer J.J. Abrams film or Rian Johnson’s newest take. What I believe it really comes down to is; Abrams’ whole vision was for The Force Awakens to be a crowd pleaser, and drew back from the well of A New Hope in order to satisfy both old fans, and the younger fans as well, intertwining call backs like Han Solo and the millennium falcon while introducing our new heroes like Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and BB-8. As mentioned before, Johnson didn’t follow suit and went his own path, which will forever be a controversial decision. I still think The Force Awakens is more fun to just sit down and watch whenever, but The Last Jedi makes you focus much more on the story and dialogue compared to the previous film.

I went back and forth about how I felt about Finn and Rose’s adventures in the movie, it often felt a lot like filler while Rey and Luke’s story line carried a lot more weight and had a better chemistry as well. There was certain points in the movie where I was done with Finn and Rose’s part in the movie, and simply wanted to go back to Luke and Rey or Kylo instead. I also had a couple “why” moments with the pacing of this film as well. It feels like the First Order is just letting the Resistance get away from them for a large chunk of this film, why wouldn’t they just send another fleet in the opposite direction to catch the last of the Resistance? Why doesn’t the Resistance come up with a plan until half way through the movie? There was a lot of questionable motives in the movie, and I’m sure they could’ve cut out 15 or 20 minutes of a lengthy screen time just by shortening some of these scenes.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD, STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE FILM YET.

Okay, I understand certain people’s gripes about The Last Jedi. I cringed when I saw Leia fly through space like Superman, I’m not going to lie to you. Most fans are up in arms about the comedy in the film, but I had no problem with it. It was Disney comedy, don’t get me wrong, some of the lines felt like they were grabbed straight out of the Avengers’ films, but I think a bit of humour isn’t a bad thing, especially with the Caretakers on Ahch-To. While some people cried foul about Luke making some jokes and being “different than the Luke we all know,” the writing was on the wall since the first scene where Luke throws the lightsaber off the cliff. I for one was glad we didn’t have the goody-two-shoe farm-boy Luke from the original trilogy, Mark Hamill’s latest take on the character was very well done, and he plays the damaged hero to a tee. Some people have called the new Luke a “coward” for hiding away and refusing to go back to the real world, but it all makes sense the way Johnson spins it.

On top of that, Luke’s actions of trying to kill Kylo Ren on an instinct gives Kylo more of a reason for being against Luke and the Resistance. Add on top of that, Kylo killed his own leader in order to be with Rey and rule together, just for Rey to turn her back on him and throw away everything he just did. It’s such a fascinating conflict between Kylo and Rey, and Luke for that matter, it has to be one of the best story lines in Star Wars history.

I thought the final battle was well thought out, and it makes sure that Mark Hamill will return in Episode 9, which they’ll need since they won’t have Carrie Fisher to reprise her role. Some people were hoping for one last big hurrah from Luke in an intense lightsaber battle, but instead we got the exact opposite, a diversion for the Resistance to escape, much like what Ben Kenobi did for Luke and the gang back in A New Hope, had the same feel to it minus a few hacks.

Snoke was another downside for me in this film. It really did feel like Rian Johnson simply didn’t care for the character that J.J. Abrams created, so he just decided to kill him off rather than save him for another movie. All that mystery created in the Force Awakens about Snoke’s background and his rise to power, completely gone with one swift trick from Kylo Ren. And while Nathan pointed out that they’ll probably explain his importance in a book at some point, it wasn’t good enough for me. It was supposed to be a major twist in the plot, and because I didn’t really care about Snoke or see his major importance rather than just being “that big bad guy,” I didn’t really get the full impact of the moment as I maybe should have.

Another writing issue people have, is Rey’s background, which I don’t actually have a problem with, although I get why fans are upset. All throughout The Force Awakens, Rey talks about waiting for her parents to return to Jakku, and while Maz tells her that deep down she knows they’re not coming back, for Kylo to flat out tell Rey her origins, and that she knew it the whole time, kinda feels a little bit like a let down, just because it now comes across as a waste of time if you re-watch The Force Awakens and spend ten minutes sitting there while Rey tries to figure out her past, when she actually knows it the whole time. Movies are fun.

Now, people are upset that Rey has no heritage that ties in with famous jedi or sith that have been previously highlighted from the past trilogies, but I’m fine with her origins meaning nothing of importance. Honestly, I’d feel it would be a broken record for Rey and Kylo to be siblings, or Rey be a Kenobi or Skywalker somewhere down the line, just because George Lucas has gone that direction so many times before. And for those who gripe about that, just look at Kylo Ren. He’s the one who has all your heritage, and that’s another point of why I truly believe this trilogy is centered around Kylo Ren, not Rey. Also, not sure why they cast such a big name as Benecio Del Toro to play such a minor role, really felt like he didn’t get enough screen time or impact he probably should have.

I’m still trying to figure out where I’d rank this film amongst the rest of the Star Wars films, but I can already tell you I enjoyed it more than any of the prequels or Rogue One. The Last Jedi has it’s issues, but its story arc between Luke, Rey and Kylo Ren makes up where it faltered, and continued the momentum that the current trilogy has built since arriving back in 2015.

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Why merging 20th Century Fox & Disney might ruin everything for the MCU

So, there’s news that there’s a deal in the works for Disney to acquire the TV & Film rights of most of 20th Century Fox for a reported $60 billion dollars, yeah, billion. While this reported deal in the works has most MCU fans going crazy (myself included), lets take a step back here and look at the effects this will have.

First, this would’ve worked out much better if this all happened about 5, 6 years ago. With the MCU moving into Phase 4 after the upcoming Infinity War film, many of Marvel’s biggest names could be getting killed off in the upcoming Avengers film, so we might miss out on Iron Man and Wolverine tearing it up together, or Captain America and Cyclops leading the way together. It just might seem weird if the X-Men and the Fantastic 4 randomly show up after the events of the Infinity War, leaving all the other super heroes forced to go “where were you guys?” While I’m still praying we get a Deadpool/Spider-Man team up at some point in the future, most of the big time team up storylines won’t be possible within the MCU, unless they play with the Multiverse angle and reverse time or something, which would be a lot of work for the big screen compared to how easy it is in the comics.

Second, 20th Century Fox has actually done quite a good job with the X-Men, Deadpool as well. Seeing these heroes transform from a 20th Century Fox label that lets a lot more edgy stuff go to the final cut to Disney, who tries to make their films family friendly, might take a hit on some of the characters. The biggest one being, of course, Deadpool. I’m trying to picture a Deadpool film under Disney’s umbrella that they would actually green-light, and I simply can’t. Maybe he’s just a cameo character once the transfer is done and Deadpool 2 hits the big screen, but it’s a shame, because Deadpool’s first instalment gave the superhero genre something entirely fresh. The same goes for Wolverine, good luck getting Disney to go ahead with a gory western film. The Fantastic Four on the other hand, are in desperate need of help from Disney and the MCU. Having Doctor Doom in the MCU would be huge for when Thanos is out of the picture, and if you read my article on the Secret Wars and how it could play into the MCU after the events of the Infinity War, the whole storyline is much easier with Doctor Doom and the Fantastic Four, in fact it really centralizes around them. So for the Fantastic Four, this is great news, for Deadpool and the X-Men, could mean some watering down in terms of storytelling and edginess.

While I’m super excited if this all comes together, and it’s not deemed illegal, there’s still some big warning signs from this deal, for superhero genre fans anyways. While it means we may finally see some of the biggest heroes from the X-Men teaming up with the Avengers, it could also mean some less intriguing characters and less darkness and edginess to their previous versions. While it’s a risk, it’s a risk I’m hoping they take, just because I need that Deadpool/Spider-Man crossover film.

Also, that Disney streaming service just got real, Netflix has some work to do.

Why Captain America must die in Infinity War

It’s been quite the run for Steve Rodgers since being thawed out from a 70 year slumber. He’s faced old enemies, new enemies, and led the Avengers in stopping not one, but two invasions of Earth. The old saying goes, “third times a charm,” and for Captain America, his time is coming. And it’s coming in the form of Thanos.

With the release of the new Avengers: Infinity War trailer, it seems pretty inevitable that a few of our heroes are going to bite the bullet at the hands of Thanos and his army. I mean, the mind stone is in the head of Vision, and we see it being extracted in the trailer, or at least attempting to. In addition, the story is apparently going to be split up into two parts, and the writing seems to be on the wall. It would make logical sense for part one to end with Thanos claiming victory over Earth, with all the infinity stones in his possession, and Earth’s, (and the Galaxy’s) mightiest heroes left defeated and with no hope of salvaging Thanos’ rule.

In order for this to happen in the first part, we’re going to have to see multiple casualties on the Avengers’ side of things. We don’t know who will all be in this movie for sure, and there even could be appearances from the small screen, all who aren’t safe from death in this film. Personally, I believe at least one of the big time players has to fall in order to make it a true revenge story come part two. And for me, that big time player is Captain America.

For one, he’s kind of replaceable. There’s already tones of rumours out there that Bucky Barnes or The Falcon can step into the role as Captain America when the next phase rolls in, my pick personally being The Winter Soldier, as I have a gut feeling that Falcon could be in trouble in the infinity war as well.

Part two is that the thing that makes Steve Rodgers Captain America, also has a ticking clock, and that’s a clock I believe that’s on its final ticks. The super serum that turned Steve Rodgers from a wimp to “the perfect man” doesn’t last forever, in fact in certain comics, it actually begins to poison him while wearing off. While I don’t think Marvel Studios will go with the latter, it’s still another reason that Cap won’t survive past Infinity War, not unless there’s a cure or something, but again, too far of a reach that Marvel Studios will go for that.

There has been speculation that maybe it’s Tony Stark who will be the one to take the fall in part one, but I see his future playing out a little longer with Peter Parker’s introduction into the MCU. Will his stay be long? I doubt it. But I think he’ll live past Infinity War and make appearances here and there until the next big Avengers instalment. But hey, nobody’s safe once Thanos reaches Earth.

It sucks that we’ll lose such a great hero and one of the biggest draws in the MCU, but Marvel has to pull the trigger on this in order to make the story arc have the impact that it deserves for these two films. If they repeated what they did with Civil War, there’s not as much drama and tension in part two as there should be. It’s just something that has to happen in order to raise the stakes to a “you have to see this monster get what he deserves” in part two.

That being said, now with Doctor Strange in the mix and the multiverse being a thing in the MCU, really anything is possible when you play with time and alternate dimensions. So this could be all for Steve Rodgers to be back at some point down the road. Who knows. Either way, Captain America isn’t making it past part one of Infinity War. And I’ll be sad.

Nostalgia, you fickle beast.

I’m 31 years old. I was born in the 80’s but did most of my “growing up” in the 90’s. The 80’s and 90’s were both very interesting decades for pop culture. Music saw some major changes with the rise of Rap and Hip Hop, the resurgence of Punk, and my favorite, the explosion of Thrash and NuMetal.

While music and fashion is what most people remember from the 80’s and 90’s I fondly remember the killer cartoons and the beginning of mainstream video games. I vividly remember watching countless hours of Power Rangers, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Batman TAS and tons more. I was a fiend for these shows and all the toys that came with them. I remember Christmas morning when I was a kid and opening the full sized MegaZord that apparently my mom drove an insane amount trying to find. This made me a very happy kid. (Update: My mom read the article and said she drove 200km to find it in one day :/)

Video games were also pretty big for me as a kid. I owned the original NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and PS1. So many fun nights playing the old classics.

This brings me to the nostalgia. We all have it, and we all glorify it. I tried to watch Power Rangers (the original) on Netflix a few months ago in preparation for the new movie. Don’t. It’s awful. All I could think was “how did I like this?”. Was it just because I was a kid? Were my 8 year old standards really low? I think I just remember having fun as a kid and not the show itself. It was really bad.

So I set out on a challenge for myself. Try and remember my favorite shows and games and try them again. After Power Rangers being a bust I moved on. Batman The Animated Series staring Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker is still amazing. That’s a win. If you haven’t seen it, fix that issue now. Mark Hamill’s Joker is the best version of the character ever. Shows like Transformers and GI Joe were fun but the animation and voice acting was really dated. Very hard to watch. The original TMNT was in the same vein as other cartoons from the 80’s and early 90’s. Bad animation. All over the place. Seemed like it was rushed. As most of these shows were made to sell toys it wouldn’t surprise me if they were rushed.

Games were basically the same. Most of the older games I remember were tough to play again. I had use emulators for most of them as I don’t own the old systems anymore. Mario still holds up, and so do other side scrolling platformers. But those games relied on mechanics that don’t change much as the technology gets better. Mario is the same year over year with a fresh coat of paint. 3D games from the mid 90’s on the other hand look so bad. One of the biggest games from the PS1 era is Final Fantasy 7. I played that game to death. Nostalgia has messed up my memory though. I remember that game vividly. This is the main character, Cloud. That’s how I remember him. He actually looked like this. Seriously…

Okay, so maybe I remember things the way I want, not the way they actually were. That’s okay though. It’s like the cartoon version of the fisherman’s story.

On the bright side though. There are a ton of new shows coming out that are worth your time to scratch that itch for a show from your childhood. The Ninja Turtles have a show on right now that is fantastic. For you guys going way back, there is a new VOLTRON series on Netflix that is amazing.

Maybe keep the fond memories of your childhood cartoons as memories. Stick to the modern. Except Power Rangers, that show still sucks. The movie wasn’t bad though.

I have a very long list of cartoons that are worth watching now. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean that you can’t watch good cartoons. Maybe I will do a “what to watch” list later on.

What were some of your best childhood memories around cartoons? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know. Or maybe ask for a recommendation on what to watch now.

@bikeronthemic

 

 

Top 10 MCU movies to date

Since Iron Man hit the silver screen in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated the box office. What they lacked in A-Grade superheroes, they made up for with outstanding storytelling and the ultimate platform for superhero team ups and crossovers. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a decade since it began, but here are the top-10 MCU films to this day.

Honourable mentions: Iron Man 2, Thor.

10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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The second installment for the captain of the Avengers, Steve Rodgers is back in action, and trying to find his place in the modern world. With the introduction of the Falcon, and a much more solid film than the first installment, Captain America takes on a familiar face in Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier. While the first film stuck to the script in terms of Cap’s upbringing and backstory, The Winter Soldier felt like a new take on the superhero, or at least a fresh one. With SHIELD infiltrated, Rodgers becomes a fugitive, and must trust his morals in this action packed film that sets up Captain America for the Age of Ultron.

9. Ant-Man (2015)

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After the huge success that was the Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios began thinking more outside of the box. While their early installments from 2008-2012 stuck pretty close to the superhero movie stereotype, Ant-Man was one of the first films to creatively be super unique. Paul Rudd was definitely the right choice to play Scott Lang. While there was some questions whether or not the MCU should’ve stuck with Hank Pym as the Ant-Man, the execution of the film and the scale of the conflict (capped off beautifully by the toy set train final battle) put those questions aside and the film was a huge hit with critics and fans alike. With Ant-Man and The Wasp set to come out in July 2018, Scott Lang’s biggest adventure might still be yet to come.

8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

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After a huge success in their first instalment, the Guardians of the Galaxy returned in 2017 with Vol. 2. picking up right where the first film left off, Peter Quill finally meets his father, and answers many questions surrounding Quill’s upbringing and it also explains the final moments of the first instalment surrounding the infinity stone. While the story is much more scaled down in the second film, there’s tonnes of laughs and very touching moments between unlikely characters like Yondu. With another killer soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 sets up the gang for the incoming Infinity War in May 2018.

7. Iron Man (2008)

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The film that started it all. Without Iron Man being a huge success, the Marvel Cinematic Universe probably isn’t what it is today. With Robert Downey Jr. born to play the role as Tony Stark, the playboy billionaire philanthropist kicked off Marvel’s rejuvenated cinematic efforts with a bang. A huge hit at the box office, Iron Man jolted into the stratosphere of the most popular superheroes out there. With Nick Fury and the Avengers Initiative being introduced in the post-credit scene, the history of superhero movies, and movies in general, would never be the same.

6. Doctor Strange (2016)

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Another B-list superhero who gained massive popularity after the release of their first solo film, Doctor Strange was arguably the best origin story Marvel has ever released. The story of miracle worker Stephen Strange’s loss of use in his hands prompted a search for a cure, and he found much more than that. With the release of Doctor Strange, the MCU has been expanded through the multiverse, which could be pivotal as Marvel moves through phases over the years. With the multiverse crucial to many of Marvel’s comics, the MCU could be drawing from the same well once their current roster of heroes are depleting. The visual effects in this film are also unbelievable, and it shouldn’t be long before a sequel is announced.

5. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

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After Sony reached an agreement to lend the web-slinger to Marvel Studios for the MCU, Marvel found themselves in an awkward position. Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released just three years prior, and with another trilogy already telling the backstory of Spider-Man and showcasing many of Peter Parker’s biggest foes, it forced Marvel to create yet another unique version of one of the most recognizable superheroes on the planet. With the casting of Tom Holland as Peter Parker, the character went back to its roots; no more skateboard riding cool Peter, no emo, jazz playing Peter, we’re back with the high school nerd Peter, the one we all know and love. Introducing Vulture, played magnificently by Michael Keaton, the film felt like a clean slate for the character, and it opens up a long, prosperous future for Spidey.

4. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

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The second big team up in the MCU did not disappoint. Setting up the events of the Civil War, Age of Ultron centered the series around Tony Stark once again, as him and Bruce Banner (Hulk) create a peacekeeping AI called Ultron. However, Ultron is a failed experiment, as it destroys JARVIS, takes over all of Stark’s gadgets and threatens to destroy the entire city of Sokovia. I’ll let you watch the rest of the film, but the additions of Vision and Scarlet Witch are a nice fresh take on the group, and while the stakes may not be quite as high as they were in the first film, the movie brought in over 1.4 billion at the box office and gave the industry zero doubt that superhero movies are still in their prime.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

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While Doctor Strange introduced us to the multiverse, Guardians of the Galaxy was the first MCU film to take us outside of earth and into the vast cosmos of the galaxy. Directed by James Gunn, the Guardians were relatively unknown by the public when the movie came out, but due to a terrific soundtrack and riveting character development, the film brought in over 700 million at the box office and are now household names within the MCU. With an equally successful sequel, and plenty of adventures still to come, the Guardians of the Galaxy will be a mainstay at Marvel Studios for a long time, and the success of their first film is a big part of that.

2. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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Following the events of Age of Ultron, one of Marvel’s biggest comic events finally hit the big screen in 2016 as a Captain America film. While it’s not a complete adaptation from the books, the concept and major figures involved all translate perfectly into the MCU. Following the Sokovia Accords, Captain America and Iron Man, the two presumed leaders of the Avengers, are divided. With the introduction of the Black Panther and Spider-Man, we get to see some battles between allies we never thought we’d see before. One of the best conflicts in superhero movie history, it’s hard not to see Tony Stark’s argument, while Steve Rodgers is simply defending his friend, the Winter Soldier, while not agreeing to hand over his rights to the government. The end scene is one of the best so far in the MCU, and this film will go down as one of the best superhero films ever made.

1. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

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Was there any ever doubt? Before its release in 2012, many thought the concept was too big for the movie industry, that there’s no way that many characters could be involved, and still have progression and development. Joss Whedon’s best work to date comes in the form of The Avengers, which was one of the biggest movie events in cinematic history. Drawing in a jaw-dropping 1.5 billion at the box office, which ranks 5th all time in revenue to this date. The Avengers finally answered all superhero fans’ dreams when we finally saw a team of heroes from an expanded universe come together on the same screen to fight a villain of massive proportions. It was something at that point, never accomplished, and Marvel not only did it, but exceeded all expectations and will forever go down in history as the first of its kind, and one that every superhero fan will watch.

With Thanos finally on his way for Infinity War next year, where do you think Infinity War will rank on this list? Feel free to let us know on twitter, facebook or simply leave a comment below!

Josh Brolin makes a great Cable

Deadpool 2 isn’t set to hit theatres until June 1st, 2018, but fans of the merc with a mouth have been given tonnes to be excited about over the last week or so. First, Domino was revealed, played by Zazie Beetz. It appears the film will be straying away from the comic book character in terms of appearance, as Domino is seen below sporting an afro. Hopefully the move pays off and it introduces a new variation of the character and one that Deadpool fans will love.

Then, this week, Ryan Reynolds broke the news on twitter that Josh Brolin will be playing Cable in the upcoming film. This one is funny, because Brolin is already a huge Marvel villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Thanos, who will be centre stage when Avengers: Infinity War comes out on May 4th, 2018. So as of right now, Brolin will be starring in two seperate Marvel films within the span of a month, in two separate universes.

 

Once you take away the fact he’s already playing Thanos, Brolin is the perfect fit for the role. He’s stern looking, has that frowny look to him, (is that a word? it is now,) and also has a bit of a comedic side to help Reynold’s jokes along as well. The images that were released of Brolin as Cable are breaking the internet right now, and for good reason, because it looks awesome.

 

In terms of what Cable means for the story of Deadpool 2, if you’re not familiar with his character, there will probably be time travel involved in some part. With Domino, possibly some more X-Men involved (if they have the budget), things could get crowded in the next film. With David Leitch set to take over as director of the film, his knowledge in stunts and directional work in Atomic Blonde and John Wick will help Deadpool 2’s action scenes. In terms of story, Tim Miller’s first instalment of the series sets up Deadpool’s backstory, and Leitch is now able to take the character in any direction he wants. With Cable’s possession of time travel, expect to see some goofy concepts. For me personally, I see a 1970’s disco Deadpool, complete in wooden shoes and a white blazer.

We’re still months away from Deadpool 2, but the hype train is already well underway.

It is the best time ever to be a superhero movie fan

I’ve been watching superhero films for a long time. Since I could walk. Once I saw Spider-Man back in 2002, I knew I was hooked for life. There’s something about the message and morals that superhero movies portray that stick with me much more than any other genre of films. In 2017, it’s hard to argue it’s the absolute greatest time in history to be a fan of the genre.

While some people argue that superhero films are becoming too over-saturated, I highly disagree. While the film industry is pumping out more superhero movies than ever, each film is breaking the mould of the genre, and every movie has its own feel to it. For instance, the early Thor and Captain America films did feel a little stereotypical. But with Thor: Ragnarok looking like a brand new feel to the series and Civil War being a triumphant milestone for the entire genre, it appears Marvel Studios (and DC Entertainment) have found a way to keep the genre moving forward. There’s no better example than the Guardians of the Galaxy; a comic series that was relatively not known of by the general public turned into a worldwide sensation overnight with their own standalone film back in 2014. Why? Because the film was amazing, but also because it took many un-contemporary approaches to the genre and made a unique story that hadn’t been told before.

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It’s this formula that has been taking over the superhero movie genre for the past 5 years, even before Guardians of the Galaxy was released. With Logan being released in March, it gave the Wolverine character, who has been on the silver screen for the better part of the last two decades, a unique tale, and a new look to the character. Even with The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the iconic character has changed many times since the original X-Men movie was released in 2000. Let’s forget about that origins movie though.

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Back to 2017, this theory is still in full swing. With Spider-Man: Homecoming, including Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther on way, Marvel Studios in particular, is finding unique ways to tell some fantastic stories through their comic heroes. While DC is still lagging behind a little bit with Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman gave the brand a sense of hope moving forward as well.

With the Infinity War set to smash the box office into pieces in 2018, it appears the genre isn’t going anywhere, any time soon. And that, is a great thing.

GLOW’s storytelling is triumphant

Netflix Originals are becoming the standard for TV shows, and with another gem in GLOW, cable television companies like HBO and AMC are falling further behind in terms of quality content on demand. Created by Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch, GLOW is based on a wrestling show, but dives deeper, and covers women’s rights, equality and the crazy time that was the 1980’s. If you’re a fan of wrestling, 80’s aerobics fashion and Marc Maron saying “my ex-wife” every ten minutes, GLOW is the show for you.

It’s very clear from the opening episode that there’s a focus on women’s stereotypes back in the 80’s. Alison Brie stars in the series playing Ruth Wilder, a tacky actress who can’t find good work in Hollywood. In the opening scene of the series, Ruth auditions for a role in a film. However, she reads the male lead’s lines in the script, as they get all the air-time and “good roles” in the films, while women simply played arm candy or the house wife. After getting shut down for the role, a producer guides her to an audition for “something different” that’s “not porn.” So, off Ruth goes, and winds up in a gym with Sam Syvia (Marc Maron) and auditions for GLOW; Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

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Ruth’s stint originally does not pan out. That is, until Debbie Eagan (played by Betty Gilpin) storms into the ring after finding out Ruth was sleeping with her husband. The pure emotion between the two sparks a vision in Sam’s head, and the main event for GLOW is set. However, there are many barriers stopping Sam from his master plan. Like wrestling promotions in real life, egos and personal agendas put the show on the brink of even happening.

If you’re a wrestling fan like me, this series does leave something to be desired in terms of the actual wrestling portion of the show. It was odd seeing Brodus Clay randomly turn up in the show, and I didn’t even recognize Carlito without the huge puffy afro, it looks like he put on some serious pounds to do this show.

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Indie performers like Joey Ryan, Kharma (who I didn’t recognize until I looked up the cast list that she was in the show,) Alex Riley, Brooke Hogan (not a wrestler but the daughter of the most famous wrestler of all-time) and Lucha Underground star and former WWE champion John Morrison. The show has the talent, but the show never really focuses solely on the wrestling. So if you’re tuning into GLOW to watch lots of wrestling, sorry.

I did think there was some hilarious parts in this series, the first rehearsal show in particular. There was a little bit left to be desired in the ending of the show, it felt like there was some unanswered questions, specifically with Arthie and Rhonda’s final showdown. It appeared there was going to be some conflict between the crowd and the wrestlers, and then it seemed the show just swept it to the side for the next match on the card. Even backstage, Arthie was devastated by what had just occurred, but forget that, onto the next match!

The ending of the first season leaves no doubt, there will be season two, and if I had to take a shot in the dark, it shouldn’t be too long before we see the second season on Netflix.

In closing, GLOW was a unique series that focused on women’s rights and stereotypes, and successfully depicted a group of misfit actresses who would do anything for work in Hollywood during the mid 1980’s. If you’re in it for the wrestling, it will feel underwhelming for you, but the storytelling and laughs will keep you interested. I don’t think it’s as good as the ratings it’s getting, but it’s good enough to get a second season.

7/10

Dunkirk does not disappoint

I’ve been a fan of Christopher Nolan ever since a young Bruce Wayne fell down a well 12 years ago. Since then I have grown a passion for film and subsequently have watched all of Nolan’s films several times. Dunkirk was my most anticipated movie coming into this year, and I am happy to report I am not disappointed.

Nolan has delivered another classic.   

Dunkirk is Nolan’s first non fiction movie, and for his film he chose a story that hit close to home. Set near the start of WW2 in 1940 as the allied troops flee from the advancing german armies in northern France after the capture of Paris and neighboring countries, they are forced to the beaches of Dunkirk with no escape in sight. As they wait to be picked off by german bombers we see the nearly 400,000 men fight to leave by any means necessary. Codenamed Operation Dynamo, Winston Churchill ordered the activation of the civilian reserves in order to help bring the thousands of soldiers home.   

Filmed as 3 different storylines that unfold simultaneously, the movie starts as we are dropped right into the action with unknown un-introduced character, this is a common theme throughout the movie. We follow him for nearly 15 minutes as he wanders around the war torn beach trying desperately to find find a way home. This first scene short on the actual beaches of Dunkirk, France sets the tone for the rest of the film, as a realistic, tense, and subtle movie, with very little dialogue. This scene is followed by an introduction of a family setting sail to rescue the stranded soldiers across the English Channel. Soon after we see a group of British fighter pilots flying in formation on their way to Dunkirk, in order to defend the fleeing ships from the German Luftwaffe air forces.

As the movie unfolds these storylines interact in unexpected ways throughout the non-linear progression of the film.

Rather than introducing each character with a thought out backstory for you to latch onto Nolan films it as if you are soldier on the beach with these men, this means no small talk, no “I got this girl waiting for me back home” type of scenes. Instead Nolan shuffles through the various story lines being careful not to focus on one character for too long to avoid slowing down the whole movie. In order to hammer in the inexperience of the soldiers Nolan cast 19 year old first time actor Fionn Whitehead for the lead.

The scenes with combat are handled tastefully, as this film is a PG 13 there is no gruesome shots like in Saving Private Ryan for example, the camera instead focuses on our character’s reaction to the various bombings and shootouts.

The action scenes come mostly in the form of dog fighting scenes which are shot brilliantly allowing us to follow where all the planes are at a given time while also showing us what the various pilots see as they battle the German forces.

The characters in the movie show all sides of war, whether it be a shell shocked young man wanting desperately to return home, a valiant soldier doing anything to help his brothers, or a General trying anything to get his men home. This film is also careful to never show us anything the characters on screen don’t know. For instance other films might have shown a German submarine looming in the water prior  to a scene on a boat as to keep you in suspense as to when the submarine will come into play, Nolan decides instead to never show anything but our characters point of view creating dread and panic as you watch praying that there escape from France will be successful.

Shot by Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema whose work can be seen on the films Interstellar and Her this film is beautiful, from the long shots filled with thousands of extras along the actual beaches of Dunkirk, to the spectacular air battles, this film is best enjoyed in IMAX as 75% of the film was shot with their massive cameras.

This film is not perfect however, at times it can slow down especially near the middle of the film with a drawn out boat sequence, at other times the editing was a little intrusive and distracted from the action taking place. There was also a couple of characters that seemed a bit useless or out of place.  

I recommend doing a little background research prior to going to see the film to understand this significance of the events taking place as it is a WW2 event that few know about but many more should as it was an event that changed the course of history and likely lead to the Nazis failure along the western front.  There is a terrific video from Colin Moriarty I highly recommend on the topic.

At an 1 hour and 46 minutes Dunkirk doesn’t overstay its welcome, instead delivering a well paced thriller of a war film. I highly Recommend Dunkirk to any fan of Nolan’s or WW2 films. It is fantastically shot and grips you from the start and tells an incredible true story few in North America know about.

9/10

War for the Planet of the Apes a fitting end for a fantastic trilogy

When first announced, it was considered pointless, unnecessary. However, the revamped Planet of the Apes trilogy ticks off all the boxes in today’s cinematic standards. The latest release, War for the Planet of the Apes, is a fitting end to the trilogy. With an opening box office weekend of $102.5 million and a score of 83/100 on metacritic, War for the Planet of the Apes looks to be the most successful and widely regarded as the best in the trilogy.

What stood out for me in this film more than the previous two was the soundtrack. While I haven’t watched the 1968 Planet of the Apes film in a very long time, I could hear the inspiration of the original film in the background of many of the tense scenes in particular. I couldn’t put my finger on which parts of the movies had the soundtrack mixed together, but in the opening half hour alone, my attention turned to the music, and I got the nostalgic feeling of the 1968 film.

Obviously, it wasn’t the soundtrack that gave this film such a high rating, it was the storytelling and the CGI, which I might add is getting scary good. Many of my good friend on twitter pointed out the fantastic work by Andy Serkis, bringing Caesar to life.

I don’t disagree with them, I believe Serkis should be nominated for some sort of award for his outstanding work as Caesar throughout the trilogy, and War for the Planet of the Apes might just be his best work since he played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy years ago.

What hooked me on this film (and the whole trilogy for that matter) is the emotional rollercoaster that flows through the entire film. If there’s anything that this trilogy has done right, it’s been to grab at the heart strings and show the true heartbreak that comes with war and conflict. War for the Planet of the Apes cranks that notch to eleven compared to the first two films, and while I’m never much of an emotional person when it comes to watching a movie, it almost, almost got a little dusty in the theatre in a few parts. Without giving too much away, this movie is very much a revenge story for Caesar, and I felt the heartbreak, the anger that consumes him and carries the plot for the movie.

Another thing that was a nice change of scenery from the past two films was the comic relief brought in by Steve Zahn’s ‘Bad Ape.’ Despite some pretty dark moments in the film, Bad Ape provided the movie with some lighter moments in the midst of pure destruction. It was a minor part in the movie, but something that was welcomed.

While the second film centers in more on conflict between apes, War for the Planet of the Apes returns to the first film, where there’s more action between humans and apes. Much like the first film, Caesar and company are accompanied by a human, in this case, a little girl, who puts the entire plot and conflict into perspective. Woody Harrelson was a fantastic villain in this movie, and like most films in this day and age, wasn’t just a bad dude. The reason why he does what he does makes quite a lot of sense, and while it’s not all politically correct, you can see the angle he’s coming from, and resonate with some of the things he’s saying. However, much like Caesar, hate and revenge consumes him and brings him to make some questionable choices. This all comes to a head in the final act of the film.

In terms of directing, Matt Reeves did a fantastic job of living up to some pretty high standards set by the first two films, and the cinematography beautifully displayed the tragedy and brutality of war. For DC fans, this film should be a sign of good things to come, as Reeves is set to direct the stand-alone Batman film, which is still in pre-production.

SPOILER ALERT AHEAD, DO NOT CONTINUE READING UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN THE FILM

Okay, so one thing I didn’t quite get in the direction of the film was the usage of Gabriel Chavarria as ‘Preacher,’ A.K.A. the soldier with the crossbow who we’re introduced to at the beginning of the film.  He’s spared by Caesar in the first battle, sent back to the Colonel as a message of peace, and he’s the one who puts the final arrow into our protagonist? Maybe it’s a metaphor that humans will always seek global dominance as the lead species, but to me it would’ve seemed more fitting if Preacher turned on the Colonel, who was doing some pretty dictator-like things to the apes who spared Preacher in the first place. Nonetheless, the sequence where Preacher is about to end Caesar before he gets blown to bits by Donkey (who ends up being the traitor in the end, I guess) just seemed out of place for me.

Another thing that my pal Hayden Trupish pointed out after seeing the film on our podcast was the film was slightly predictable, notably when The Colonel is talking about how he had to kill his son because of the Simian Flu/Primal thing that consumed him, to most it seems pretty obvious that The Colonel too would contract this virus before the film ends. I’m pretty oblivious to this kinda stuff, but looking back now, it does seem pretty predictable.

Also, wasn’t that army at the end of the movie a slight bit of overkill? The attack choppers, thousands upon thousands of men charging the base. Where did all those guys come from? How did they all survive the flu? It seems like it’s not fully a ‘Planet of the Apes’ if there’s still military-style armies rolling around by the thousands with air-defence missiles waiting for them. And then one avalanche wipes the whole army out? Sure.

Like the past two films, this movie doesn’t give much context to the worldwide situation regarding the Simian flu or James Franco’s character. Obviously, the epidemic began in San Francisco, and spread across the United States and into North America as a whole. But what about Europe? Africa? Asia? None of the films really give context as to how the rest of the world handled the situation. Obviously, the apes across the water can’t be lead by Caesar, are they just left watching as the whole world slowly dies out from this epidemic? Plus, the ending is slightly open-ended, and while I don’t want another trilogy or a movie to follow this one, it still leaves that slight doubt that there could be trouble in paradise for the Apes that do find their paradise.

AND I CAN’T NOT FIND OUT ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO JAMES FRANCO. I DON’T CARE IF HE’S NOT A HUGE PLOT POINT, JUST TELL ME HOW HIS PART OF THE STORY ENDS.

It’s something I’ll probably never know, but it will bug me every time I watch these films.

SPOILER ALERT ENDS

Overall, War for the Planet of the Apes is an emotional, fitting end to the trilogy, and the best film of the three. Though there is some predictability and not enough context to some plot points, the movie in general is a great experience whether you’ve watched the first two films or not.

7.5/10