‘Avengers: Endgame’ Spoiler Review/Thoughts

Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo

Writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Cast: Everybody…I’m not writing them all out.

Synopsis: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

*Reviewer Note: This post WILL HAVE SPOILERS. It won’t be a full-blown review, but will have review elements. This is more of a free-flown thought post about everything. If it feels disjointed, I’m sorry.*

 

11 years and twenty-two movies has all led to this. Marvel and the Russo brothers have impressively weaved everything together for their endgame. From the moment we saw Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury coming out of the shadows to tell Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark that he’s now part of a bigger world, fans have been eager to see where all this was going to lead. Whether you were a comic book fan or not, Marvel and everyone involved behind-the-scenes made sure to make you, and keep you, invested in these characters, and make you care for these characters from beginning to end. In this case, keep you and make you invested in their final journey – well, at least for a few of them.

Avengers: Endgame will probably surprise some people. Because despite being a “comic book movie,” the first act of the movie – after the first ten minutes – is more of a drama, and one that focus of loss. We’re not use to seeing heroes lose, and even if they do, their turnaround happens later on. Instead, Antony and Joe Russo have the characters dealing with their losses and trying to on, but as Chris Evan’s Steve Rogers says, “most people move, but we don’t.” It’s not just a line, we see it on Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha as she’s trying to make sure the world doesn’t go completely lawless, and looks like she’s become a Nick Fury-esque leader, but the weight of it has gotten to her, especially when she hears about Jeremy Renner’s Clint has been doing since “The Snap” (I know it’s called something else, but we’re calling it The Snap).

Speaking of Clint, the movie opens with him dealing with The Snap all by himself, and it  almost makes sense why he would go down the road he’s chosen – for the comic book fans, they never all him Ronin. Then he has to deal with losing Natasha to get the Soul Stone – which I’ll get to in a little bit. Clint takes the punches and keeps going, and while it’s easy to hate or rag on the character, Clint is a valuable member of The Avengers, and it’s shown here as he’s basically the test dummy for going into the Quantum Realm, and getting the new Gauntlet into the playing field at the end.

Others who have great drama moments is Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, who escapes the Quantum Realm when the machine – I forgot the name – is turned on (by the rat?) and he comes out in a post-Snap world. He walks the streets of San Francisco seeing the aftermath and the slow realization of what happened, and the horror of seeing him searching for his daughter Cassie’s name, only to see his own name. Plus, yes, the reunion of him and Cassie is, probably, the first tear-jearking scene of the movie – for me.

Then there’s Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, oh I’m sorry, I mean FAT Thor. The effects of losing everything, and thinking it was his fault, because he didn’t aim for the head, is played throughout the film and it makes sense. Everything Thor has been through in the franchise has lead to him being one of the strongest Avengers, even if it’s said for laughs half the time, so having him be that close to end all of it and failing all the same is going to take its toll. Although, playing what essentially is PTSD a little bit jokey is questionable, it make sense that Thor would be the way he is. That said, I also love this scenes with Rene Russo’s returning Frigga.

Finally, we have Tony and Steve. The two still have some heat at the beginning due to the events of Civil War, but when the chips are down they know they need each other. Tony, and Karen Gillan’s Nebula, being rescued from space by Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel was expected, but seeing Tony with muscle loss and calling out Steve at the beginning is hard to watch. We’ve seen Tony in situations that he can get out of or even manage to barely get out of, but seeing Tony like this – a broken man – is something we’ve never really seen before, and it’s so effective, which makes his arc by the end

As for Steve, his ending just makes sense. Steve going back to the past to return the Infinity Stones, and then staying there to become old with Haley Atwell’s Peggy Carter is the ending that almost every fan wanted. Steve was always a man out of time, and the constant reminders of Peggy throughout the whole Captain America series, and here in Endgame it made sense he would stay and live his life with the love of his life. It also puts Chris Evans out of his contract, and a fitting end at that.

Now, let’s get to some of the grips. Because despite what some non-comic book fans think, we fans can be critical of the movies – well some of us. One of the main things everyone was talking about was the length of the movie. In many ways, it didn’t matter in the end because the movie doesn’t really feel long at all. The pacing, for the most part, is great. Endgame does slow down a bit when it comes to small scenes like when Thanos finds out about Nebula, and some of the double Nebula and Gamora scenes kind of slow things down, but other than, the pacing is fine.

Arguably, you can say Endgame returns to Marvel’s villain “problem.” Josh Brolin’s Thanos screen time is reduced tremendously from Infinity War, resulting in him not even appearing until about halfway, maybe even little more than halfway, through the movie. Granted, Infinity War was really a Thanos story, and Endgame was more about our heroes dealing with he’s done and trying to reverse it with their “Time Heist” it still would have been nice to get a little more Thanos – even if it was the past Thanos.

Now, let’s talk about fan service. Some will probably see Avengers: Endgame as huge fan service, and you know what, in some regard, yes Avengers: Endgame has a lot of fan service. But, the way I see the fan service in the film is that it’s done right. It’s not too heavy handed, which is saying something since the final battle scene is basically the most comic booky thing you can ever see or imagine a comic book movie doing. That said, the final battle scene is everything these movies have been building up to if you really think about it, so I can’t really blame the movie or call it real fan service if this was the direction they were going to go with.

Yes, the final battle scene, even leading up to it, had moments fans have been waiting for. Captain America lifting Mjolnir and using it, every major hero you can think of showing up for the battle – even having all the women team up – and Captain America finally saying “Avengers Assemble.” That said, is that a bad thing? Does it take away from your enjoyment of the film? To go extreme, should it not have been in the movie at all? Sometimes fandoms can be a fickle thing.

Finally, the time travel. Look, time travel in movies is always a tricky thing, and once you start explaining it, someone else is going to come in and tell you how you’re wrong. Does the changes they made affect the timeline? Yeah, probably. Does it matter for your enjoyment of the future films? Probably not, unless they bring it up. It’s not really a pass we should give the film, but I think for this, I’m going to let it pass because “Back to the Future is bullshit.”

All in all, Avengers: Endgame was, to me, a perfect sendoff and end to a franchise that’s been going strong – with a few stumbles sure – for over eleven years and twenty-plus films. Character arcs were wrapped up, hints of future in the franchise and emotional moments all over the place.

Avengers: Endgame

4 out of 5

New Podcast – ‘Joker’ Trailer, ‘Pet Sematary’ & ‘Shazam!’ Spoiler Free Thoughts

The Podcast is back!!

The Movie Pit Podcast returns after a long, and unwanted, hiatus. I explain why the hiatus was that long. Enjoy everybody.

April Movie Releases

Well hello there!

It’s April, and to some studios apparently, it’s the unofficial start of the Summer Movie Season. That said, this year could really take the cake, as Marvel once again is putting their big cash cow at the end of the month. Let’s take a look shall we?

 

5th

Limited Release: Amazing Grace

A musical documentary presenting Aretha Franklin with choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles in January 1972.

 

Limited Release: High Life

A father and his daughter struggle to survive in deep space where they live in isolation. Robert Pattinson, Andre Benjamin, Mia Goth and Juliette Binoche star.

 

Limited Release: Teen Spirit

Written and directed by actor Max Minghella (The Social Network, TV series The Mindy Project and The Handmaid’s Tale); Violet (played by Elle Fanning) is a shy teenager who dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion to sing. With her help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition. Teen Spirit also stars Rebecca Hall.

 

The Best of Enemies

Based on the book by Osha Gray Davidson and true events; civil rights activist Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) faces off against C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, in 1971 Durham, North Carolina over the issue of school integration. The Best of Enemies co-stars Sope Aluko, John Gallagher Jr., Wes Bentley, Anne Heche, Nick Searcy and Bruce McGill.

 

Pet Sematary

Synopsis: Based on the novel by Stephen King, Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), who, after relocating with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two young children from Boston to rural Maine, discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near the family’s new home. When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his unusual neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), setting off a perilous chain reaction that unleashes an unfathomable evil with horrific consequences.

Thoughts: I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Pet Sematary, so when I heard a remake was in the works, I was actually looking forward it. Then the trailer came out and I was interested. Then this last trailer came out, which upped everything from the first trailer and any sort of expectation I had about the movie. Hopefully, the movie turns out great.

 

Shazam!

Synopsis: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Asher Angel) case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM! – this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). Directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation), Shazam! co-stars Jack Dylan Grazer, Mark Strong, Grace Fulton and Djimon Hounsou.

Thoughts: the DCEU has taken enough blows by now that it’s become commonplace, so it gets a little hard to get excited for any new movie, despite how good the trailers are. Shazam! unfortunately falls into that category. As much as the movie looks fun and different, I’m not holding my breath too much.

 

12th

Limited Release: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

A spinoff of the Ip Man films and directed by Woo-Ping Yeun; while keeping a low profile after his defeat from Ip Man, Cheung Tin Chi (Jin Zhang) gets into trouble after getting in a fight with a powerful foreigner (Dave Bautista). The film also stars Tony Jaa and Michelle Yeoh.

 

After

Based on the novel by Anna Todd – which came from a fan fiction site about Harry Styles – a young woman (Josephine Langford) falls for a guy (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) with a dark secret and the two embark on a rocky relationship. After is filled with newcomers or unknowns, expect big names like Jennifer Beals and Selma Blair.

 

Missing Link

Mr. Link (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) recruits explorer Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman) to help find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight (voiced by Zoe Saldana), this trio of explorers travel the world to help their new friend. The rest of the voice cast includes Timothy Olyphant, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas and Emma Thompson.

 

Little

What seems like a riff on the film Big, a woman (Regina Hall) is transformed into her younger self (Marsai Martin) at a point in her life when the pressures of adulthood become too much to bear. Little co-stars Issa Rae, Justin Hartley and Tone Bell.

 

Hellboy

Synopsis: Based on the Dark Horse comic book by Mike Mignola, and directed by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, TV series Game of Thrones, Hannibal, Westworld); caught between the worlds of supernatural and human, Hellboy (David Harbour) battles an ancient sorceress (Milla Jovovich) bent on revenge. Hellboy co-stars Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, Penelope Mitchell, Alistair Petrie, Brian Gleeson, Sophie Okonedo and Ian McShane.

Thoughts: Despite still wanting that last Guillermo del Toro-directed Hellboy movie, this reboot has me pretty damn excited! David Harbour looks like a great new Hellboy, Ian McShane as Professor Broom and Milla Jovovich as a villain are nice touches.

 

17th

Penguins

The story of Steve, an Adelie penguin, on a quest to find a life partner and start a family when Steven meets with Wuzzo the emperor penguin they become friends. But nothing comes easy in the icy Antarctic.

 

Breakthrough

Based on the true story; when her 14-year-old John Smith (Marcel Ruiz) drowns in a lake, a faithful mother (Chrissy Metz) prays for him to come back from the brink of death and be healed. The film co-stars Josh Lucas, Mike Colter, Topher Grace and Dennis Haysbert.

 

 

19th

Limited Release: Little Woods

A modern Western that follows two sisters, Ollie (Tessa Thompson) and Deb (Lily James), who are driven to work outside the law to better their lives. For years Ollie has illicitly helped the struggling residents of her North Dakota oil boomtown access Canadian health care and medication. When the authorities catch on, she plans to abandon her crusade, only to be dragged in even deeper after a desperate plea for help from her sister. Little Woods co-stars James Badge Dale, Luke Kirby and Lance Reddick.

 

Limited Release: Under the Silver Lake

Sam (Andrew Garfield), intelligent but without purpose, finds a mysterious woman (Riley Keough) swimming in his apartment’s pool one night. The next morning, she disappears. Sam sets off across LA to find her, and along the way he uncovers a conspiracy far more bizarre. Directed by David Robert Mitchell (It Follows), the film co-stars Jimmi Simpson, Sydney Sweeney, Grace Van Patten, Riki Lindhome, Callie Hernandez and Topher Grace.

 

The Curse of La Llorona

Synopsis: Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker (Linda Cardellini) and her own children are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. The Curse of La Llorona co-stars Tony Amendola, Raymond Cruz, Sean Patrick Thomas and Patricia Velasquez.

Thoughts: I grew up knowing the folktale of La Llorona. This isn’t the first movie about her, but it is the first big budget studio movie and from everything so far, I’m looking forward to it.

 

26th

Avengers: Endgame

Synopsis: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

Thoughts: I mean, do I really need to put anything here? Do I?

 

What are you looking forward to?

March Movie Releases

Hello there!

Can you believe it’s March already? Anyway, besides it being my birth month(!) there are some great films coming out in March that we can look forward to. Also, a large amount of limited releases to some big films, plus I’m doing something a little different in terms of my thoughts about some of the films. Hopefully it’s a little easier to read than a big block of text, and like other times, I won’t be giving my thoughts on every movie. So let’s start shall we?

 

1st

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral

Synopsis: A joyous family reunion becomes a hilarious nightmare as Madea and the crew travel to backwoods Georgia, where they find themselves unexpectedly planning a funeral that might unveil unsavory family secrets.

Thoughts: I’ve never seen any of the Madea movies, but Tyler Perry has said this will be the last Madea movie because it’s time to move on from the character he’s played for some time now.

 

Greta

Synopsis: Directed by Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire), a young woman (Chloe Grace Moretz) befriends a lonely widow (Isabelle Huppert) who’s harboring a dark and deadly agenda towards her. Greta co-stars Maika Monroe, Zawe Ashton, Colm Feore and Stephen Rea.

Thoughts: Greta seems like it could be a great thriller, the only thing that worries me about the film is the lack of real promotion, which could end up hurting it. Either way, I’m going to watch it because seeing Isabelle Huppert playing an “unhinged” woman could be a sight to see.

 

8th

Limited Release: The Kid

Synopsis: The story of a young boy who witnesses Billy the Kid’s (Dane DeHaan) encounter with Sheriff Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke). The Kid also stars Jake Schur, Chris Pratt, Adam Baldwin, Leila George and Vincent D’Onofrio.

Thoughts: Directed by Vincent D’Onofrio.

 

Captain Marvel

Synopsis: Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. Captain Marvel co-stars Samuel L. Jackson, Judel Law, Gemma Chan, Clark Gregg, Lashana Lynch, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Ben Mendelsohn and Annette Bening.

Thoughts: Marvel’s first ever female-led superhero film– yes, Black Widow should have gotten it first, let’s move pass that for right now – and it’s getting some great word of mouth. That said, the hype level is real for Captain Marvel.

 

15th

Limited Release: Yardie

Synopsis: D (Aml Ameen), who has never fully recovered from the murder, committed during his childhood of his older brother, D grows up under the wing of a Kingston Don and music producer named King Fox (Sheldon Sheperd). Fox dispatches him to London, where he reconnects with his childhood sweetheart, Yvonne (Shantol Jackson), and his daughter who he’s not seen since she was a baby.

Thoughts: Idris Elba’s directorial debut.

 

Limited Release: The Aftermath

Synopsis: Based on the book by Rhidian Brook, post World War II, a British colonel and his wife (Jason Clarke, Keira Knightley) are assigned to live in Hamburg during the post-war reconstruction, but tensions arise with the German (Alexander Skarsgard) who previously owned the house.

 

Limited Release: The Hummingbird Project

Synopsis: A pair of high-frequency traders (Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgard) go up against their old boss (Salma Hayek) in an effort to make millions in a fiber-optic cable deal.

 

Limited Release: The Mustang

Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts), a violent convict, is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of wild mustangs. The film is based on the short film by the film’s director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s, who is making her feature film debut. The Mustang co-stars Josh Stewart, Gideon Adlon, Jason Mitchell, Connie Britton and Bruce Dern.

 

Limited Release: Captive State (expansion release to follow)

Synopsis: Co-written and directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes); Set in Chicago neighborhood nearly a decade after an occupation by an extra-terrestrial force, the film explores the lives on both sides of the conflict – the collaborators and dissidents.  Captive State stars Ashton Sanders, John Goodman, Kiki Layne, James Ransone, Madeline Brewer, Machine Gun Kelly and Vera Farmiga.

Thoughts: Captive State looks like a low-budget sci-fi thriller in the vein of District 9 and I’m all for it.

 

Wonder Park

Synopsis: The story of a magnificent amusement park where the imagination of a wildly creative girl named June (voiced by Brianna Denski) comes alive. The voice cast includes John Oliver, Ken Jeong, Mila Kunis, Kenan Thompson, Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Garner.

 

Five Feet Apart

Synopsis: A pair of teenagers (Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse) with life-threatening illnesses meet in a hospital and fall in love.

 

19th

Triple Threat

Synopsis: A hit contract is taken out on a billionaires daughter intent on bringing down a major crime syndicate. A down and out team of mercenaries must take on a group of professional assassins and stop them before they kill their target.

Thoughts: This one has been on people’s, and mine, radar since it was announced. Why? Look at the freaking action star cast! Iko Uwais, Tony Jaa, Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, JeeJa Yanin, Tiger Hu Chen, Michael Bisping and Celina Jade. I mean, that’s all I got.

 

22nd

Hotel Mumbai

Synopsis: Based on the true story of the Taj Hotel terrorist attack in Mumbai. Hotel staff risk their lives to keep everyone safe as people make unthinkable sacrifices to protect themselves and their families. The film stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Tilda Cobham-Hervey and Jason Isaacs.

 

Us

Synopsis: Written and directed by Jordan Peele, a mother and father take their kids (Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong’o, Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph) to their beach house, expecting to enjoy time with friends, but their serenity turns to tension and chaos when some visitors arrive uninvited. Us co-stars Elisabeth Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tim Heidecker and Anna Diop.

Thoughts: Jordan Peele is back behind the camera, and it looks like he’s doing a straightforward horror film this time. If the trailers are any indication, Us is going to be one of the best films of the year…hopefully.

 

29th

Limited Release: The Beach Bum

Written and directed by Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers), a rebellious stoner named Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) lives life by his own rules. The Beach Bum co-stars Zac Efron, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill, Stefania LaVie Owen, Snoop Dogg and Martin Lawrence.

 

Unplanned

As one of the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic directors in the nation, Abby Johnson (Ashley Bratcher) was involved in upwards of 22,000 abortions and counseled countless women on their reproductive choices. Her passion surrounding a woman’s right to choose led her to become a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, fighting to enact legislation for the cause she so deeply believed in. Until the day she saw something that changed everything.

 

Dumbo

Based on the novel by Helen Aberson, and the classic animated Disney film, a young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer. Directed by Tim Burton, and stars Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Alan Arkin and Danny DeVito.

What are you looking forward to?

December Movie Releases

It’s December, ladies and gentlemen!

The year is almost over! How has your year been? Because it’s been a great year for films, huh? December is also a tough month to set, because this is the big Oscar month, so a lot of films end up getting limited releases, expansion releases, and then wide releases. So if anything is off, it’s because of that. I’ll do my best to get everything where it’s suppose to go, and if not I’ll come back and update the schedule.  So let’s jump right in the films that will close out the year.

Also, Happy Whatever-It-Is-You-Celebrate!

 

7th

Re-Release Anniversary: Schindler’s List

Limited Release: Vox Lux

An unusual set of circumstances bring unexpected success to a pop star (Natalie Portman). I honestly don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, you got Portman and Law, and the story itself looks interesting, but there is just something keeping me at bay with it. Hopefully, when, or if, I see it I’ll be wrong. Vox Lux co-stars Jude Law, Raffey Cassidy, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Ehle and Willem Dafoe.

 

Limited Release: Mary Queen of Scots

Based on the book “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart” by John Guy, Mary Stuart’s (Saoirse Ronan) attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution. This just looks awesome. You have two great leads in Ronan and Robbie, and a great story itself, plus I’m sure we’ll be hearing about this come Award Season. Mary Queen of Scots co-stars David Tennant, Gemma Chan, Joe Alwyn, Jack Lowden and Guy Pearce.

 

12th

Once Upon a Deadpool

The “we just want more money” stunt is upon us with Once Upon a Deadpool. The movie is an edited down version of Deadpool 2 from earlier this year, expect this time we’ll have a story framing device with Deadpool telling the story to Fred Savage. The movie will play up until December 25th, so if you want to see a toned down version of Deadpool 2, I guess this is for you.

 

14th

Expansion: If Beale Street Could Talk

 

Mortal Engines

Based on the series of books, a mysterious young woman named Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) joins forces with Anna Fang (Jihae), a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head, and Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), an outcast from London, to lead a rebellion against a giant predator city on wheels. Mortal Engines co-stars Stephen Lang, Caren Pistorious, Colin Salmon, Frankie Adams and Hugo Weaving.

 

The Mule

Inspired by the real story of Leo Sharp, Clint Eastwood returns in front of the camera since 2012’s Trouble with the Curve, as a 90-year-old horticulturist and WWII veteran, who is caught transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Michigan for a Mexican drug cartel. The Mule co-stars Bradley Cooper, Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne, Taissa Farmiga, Alison Eastwood, Dianne West and Andy Garcia.

 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Jump Street movies, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The LEGO Movie), and co-written by Lord, Spider-Man crosses parallel dimensions and teams up with the Spider-Men of those dimensions to stop a threat to all reality. The voice cast includes Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali, Hailee Steinfeld, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage and Liev Schreiber.

 

19th

Mary Poppins Returns

A sequel to the classic film – decades after her original visit, the magical nanny (Emily Blunt) returns to help the Banks siblings (Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer) and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives. Mary Poppins Returns co-stars Lin-Manuel Miranda, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke.

 

21st

Second Act

A big box store worker (Jennifer Lopez) reinvents her life and life-story and shows Madison Avenue what street smarts can do. Second Act co-stars Milo Ventimiglia, Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens, Charlyne Yi, Dave Foley, Annaleigh Ashford and Treat Williams.

 

Welcome to Marwen

A dramatization of the 2010 documentary film Marwencol, Robert Zemeckis co-writes and directs the story of a victim (Steve Carrell) of a brutal attack who finds a unique and beautiful therapeutic outlet to help him through his recovery process. Welcome to Marwen co-stars Leslie Mann, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monae, Eiza Gonzalez, Gwendoline Christie and Diane Kruger.

 

Aquaman

The newest addition to the DCEU, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world. Look, my dislike for how Warner Bros. handled the DCEU is pretty known, but in case you don’t know, I hate it. The dilemma I have with Aquaman is I love that James Wan (The Conjuring movies) is directing, and some of the visuals look great. HOWEVER, I’m not sold on Momoa as Aquaman, sure he has the look, but can he actually carry a whole movie himself, that can also carry a good story (yes, I’ve seen the Black Panther comparisons). I do want to walk out liking this, but I’m not holding my breathe for anything. Aquaman co-stars Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Randall Park, Dolph Lundgren and Nicole Kidman.

 

Bumblebee

A spinoff of the Transformers franchise, on the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. I’ll admit, I wasn’t really looking forward to this when it was first announced. The Transformers movies have been extremely underwhelming, to say the least, but then it was announced that Travis Knight, LAIKA CEO, would be making his live-action directorial debut (he made his directorial debut with Kubo and the Two Strings) I got onboard. Since then, with the trailers and the feel and tone, Bumblebee is actually a movie I’m looking forward to now. Let’s just hope it doesn’t disappoint. Bumblebee co-stars John Cena, John Ortiz, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Rachel Crow and Kenneth Choi. The voice cast will include Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux and Peter Cullen.

 

25th

Destroyer

A police detective (Nicole Kidman) reconnects with people from an undercover assignment in her distant past in order to make peace. Destroyer co-stars Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Beau Knapp and Bradley Whitford.

 

On the Basis of Sex

The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones), her struggles for equal rights and what she had to overcome in order to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. On the Basis of Sex co-stars Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Cailee Spaeny, Jack Reynor, Stephen Root, Kathy Bates and Sam Waterston.

 

Holmes & Watson

A humorous take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mysterious featuring Sherlock Holmes (Will Ferrell) and Doctor Watson (John C. Reilly). Holmes & Watson co-stars Rebecca Hall, Lauren Lapkus, Kelly Macdonald, Pam Ferries, Noah Jupe, Bella Ramsey, Steve Coogan, Hugh Laurie and Ralph Fiennes.

 

Vice

Directed and written by Adam McKay (The Big Short), the story of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), the most powerful Vice President in history, and how his policies changed the world as we know it. Vice co-stars Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Alison Pill, Lily Rabe, Tyler Perry, Jesse Plemons, Shea Whigham and Eddie Marsan.

 

28th

Stan & Ollie

Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Hardy (John C. Reilly), the world’s most famous comedy duo, attempt to reignite their film careers as they embark on what becomes their swan song – a grueling theatre tour of post-war Britain. The film also stars Shirley Henderson, Nina Arianda and Danny Huston.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

‘Venom’ Review

venom_ver2

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Writers: Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner, Kelly Marcel and Will Beall

Cast:  Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, Scott Haze, Peggy Lu, and Reid Scott

Synopsis: When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There are two post-credit scenes.*

 

There’s a lot to say about Venom before even watching the movie. A solo movie has been in the works for a while, and of course we got a version of the character in the god-awful Spider-Man 3 (not all of it was bad, but a good chunk of it), we know have a solo movie with a great lead in Tom Hardy. This version, of course, was caught in a storm of “is it or isn’t it connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe?” Of course, the answer was a big ol’ nope, but apparently it is left open for the possibility of being connected – which is why the movie is PG-13 – well, at least one reason. There is also Hardy’s comments that the movie cut thirty to forty minutes, but he later backed off those comments, and the early reviews saying the movie isn’t good.

Then the theory that A Star is Born lead Lady Gaga’s fans are saying negative things about Venom to help her movie get the better of the weekend – which is honestly dumb to even think, but whatever – so all of that said, where does Venom actually land? Well, for me, it’s a very, very mixed bag.

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Venom follows Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a journalist who has made a name for himself by exposing the dirty stories. His next assignment leads him to Life Foundation founder, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), who is secretly running experiments on people with alien parasites called symbiotes. When Eddie pushes Drake with the tough questions, Eddie loses everything; his home, job and fiancée Anne Weying (Michelle Williams). Eventually, he gets the opportunity to expose Drake, with the help of Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate), and while he finds evidence of Drake’s nefarious ways, Eddie gets a symbiote called Venom (which he also voices) attached to him, and everything gets much worse.

Like I mentioned, Venom is a very, very mixed bag. On paper, Venom was set up for success with the talented cast and a character that comic book fans love. Unfortunately, Venom drops the ball with pretty much everyone involved, and while the hate or dislike for Venom is very strong online, I can clearly say that Venom is not as bad as some would have you believe. Is it a great or good movie? No, not really, but Venom is somewhat entertaining when it decides to let loose.

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Of course, everyone joked about Hardy playing Eddie Brock/Venom because he has a career of voicing characters that are hard to understand or what-have-you. That said, Hardy does the role justice for what he’s given. There are some moments as Eddie that are borderline, but for the most part he’s rather controlled. It’s voicing Venom that may divide some fans as the relationship between the two is somewhat odd at first, but as the movie keeps going, it becomes pretty cool to see them play off each other, even though it is Hardy basically talking to himself.

That being said, Venom also deals with a huge tonal problem, and some of it relates to the character of Venom himself. The movie tries to interject some humor in scenes – most of it doesn’t quite land – and when it comes to Venom, there are times were he’s a cold-blooded killer, and then starts cracking some humorous jokes. I’m not against adding some humor, but the execution of it doesn’t land at all.

Going back to the cast, the supporting cast is pretty much wasted here. While it’s cool to see Riz Ahmed play a bad guy, Carlton Drake just wasn’t the villain role for him. The character comes off as a mustache twirling villain at times, and his transformation to the big bad in the last act is extremely underwhelming and rushed. Michelle Williams, Jenny Slate and Reid Scott as extremely underwritten with Williams’ Anne playing a glorified ex-flame, and while she has one standout scene, it’s not enough to make up for her nothing character. Speaking of nothing characters, Reid Scott plays Dr. Dan Lewis, Anne’s new boyfriend after breaking up with Eddie and doesn’t really serve any purpose other than being the other guy. Lastly, and unfortunately, Jenny Slate gets the worse end of it as she serves as an exposition character informing us and Eddie why Drake is using the symbiotes. Her character should have been more important, given that they give her a reason for doing what she does, but we don’t see it.

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When it comes to everything else, the special effects are just okay. Venom himself is arguably the best looking visual effect in the movie, but it’s not saying much when everything else either looks muddied or okay. The final fight between Venom and Riot is hard to watch, not because it’s bad or rushed, but because it’s hard to sometimes know who is who. The action is also not that bad, with an escape/chase sequence in the streets of San Francisco and a showdown with police being the standouts. Finally, the rating really shows. The movie is rather bloodless considering how certain characters die, and Venom biting people’s heads off on some occasions. I’m not that concerned with a movie’s rating most of the time, but it clearly shows here.

All in all, Venom is a mix bag of everything, and missed opportunity to do something great, and start Sony’s Marvel Universe strong. There are some good things, some bad and some downright awful, but watching Tom Hardy do his thing could be enough for you to sit through the whole thing and not regret it. Regardless of that, it should be interesting how Sony moves forward with this.

Venom

3 out of 5

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‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Review

Director: Peyton Reed

Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari and Paul Rudd

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Randall Park, David Dastmalchian, Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris, Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale, Abby Ryder Fortson, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer

Synopsis: As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review. There is also a mid-credit and post-credit scene.*

 

The twentieth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp, is a nice change of pace from the shattering conclusion of Avengers: Infinity War. The sequel not only doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a low stakes movie that is a hell of a lot of fun.

The movie follows Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), who has been on house arrest for two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War. He’s also been cut off by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) after going off to fight without telling them. The daughter-father duo are also trying to find Hope’s mother Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and bring her back from the Quantum Realm, which is realized more after an incident with Scott.

What follows is Hope and Hank getting Scott to help them get Janet out, but also dealing with the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who tries to steal a vital piece of technology, and a black market businessman Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) trying to profit off Pym’s technology.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a bit all over the place. We have the main plot which is trying to rescue Janet from the Quantum Realm, which is connected to Ghost’s arc and Burch. We have Scott’s story of almost ending his house arrest, with pesky FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), and trying to still prove he can be a good dad to his adorable daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Then you have random high jinks with some sight gags or Luis (Michael Pena) doing what made him so popular in the first movie.

Everyone is also on the top of their game here. Paul Rudd continues to bring his trademark charisma and excellent timing. Evangeline Lilly thankfully has a lot more to do here, and seeing her play The Wasp is a ton of fun to watch. Also, watching her and Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym trying to rescue Janet leads to one of the more emotional moments – there are quite a few – of the movie. Pena’s Luis is once again a scene-stealer, but he has some competition in Abby Ryder-Fortson’s Cassie.

We then have the new cast members starring with villain Sonny Burch, played by the always reliable Walton Goggins. The character could have easily been one-note, but Goggins just adds something to the character. Ghost played by Hannah John-Kamen does have a more rounded out story than you would think, and she’s played excellently by John-Kamen (who plays one of the leads in the SYFY channel show Killjoys, which I highly recommend). Randall Park has a small role as Agent Woo, but he plays it up with Rudd, and the two have great chemistry.

Finally, the two big additions to the MCU are Dr. Bill Foster, played by Laurence Fishburne, who hopefully we get to see more of, because he doesn’t get too much to do here, but it’s a nice addition for comic book fans. Then we have Michelle Pfeiffer has Janet Van Dyne aka the original Wasp, who sadly isn’t in the movie a lot, even though she plays an important part to the story. Regardless of that, her scenes are where most of the emotional core comes from, and the scenes she does have were great to watch.

All in all, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a hell of a lot of fun, and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. It’s a more self-contained story, even though the events of Civil War are brought up, which helps the movie and the audience breathe a little bit. The action is beefed up, and cast is on top of their game. If you want to have a fun time at the theater, Ant-Man and the Wasp is your movie.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

4.5 out of 5