Fate of the Furious

This will be a bit shorter of a review. Not because I didn’t enjoy the movie. I liked it, about as much as I like the Fast and Furious stuff after they became superheroes in cars. But it’s also about on par with what they’ve been putting out. So, if you enjoyed Fast Five, Furious Six, Something Seven, then Fate of the Furious will be great for you. And me.

This is trailer information, but it is spoilers for the movie. This time around, the team is fighting Dominic! For reasons that will be revealed during the movie, Dom is now working for the bad guy. And boy, do they make for some great action and character scenes. The movies always talk a lot about family, and this one is no different. So why is Dom going against his family?

The movie is full of all new over-the-top car sequences. And I’m sure they still have much more crazy ideas for the next one. Ramsey is still here, and I think she’s a fun addition to the crew. She is a non-combatant, non-driver, but still gets a lot of great scenes. The other characters are all still doing their thing, getting a few scenes now and again.

The villain is decently threatening while not being a direct physical threat. This time, it’s Cipher, the best hacker in the world. Like some of the previous movies, Cipher is the boss without being the strongest around. She’s the boss by being smarter and planning better, and I find her quite effective.

Maybe moving into some spoiler territory here. But joining the team this time is Deckard! The villain of the previous film. He’s more fun being sort of a grumpy ally. This movie knows it’s goofy and plays it up, especially with the scenes between Deckard and Hobbs.

Fate of the Furious is a cool ride on crazy cars. You already know the characters. Now they’re trying to ramp up the villains and give more wild stunts. Still not boring, yet. Waiting for The Fast and the Furious Nine, or their own version of that name.

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Independence Day: Resurgence

Ah, this movie brings back memories. Not complete ones. I was young when the first Independence Day came out, but I went to see it, and that movie was so great to me. So I was pretty excited for a sequel. There are many things I concentually like about this film. For one, it takes place in real time. The sequel came out 20 years later, and in their version of the world, 20 years had passed. And society developed entirely differently thanks to the arrival of aliens. I got to see enough of the world, and it looked pretty great until the aliens attacked again.

I still had a lot of fun in the film, though it was overstuffed. The characters weren’t that fun or interesting. Really, there was just a lack of meaningful character interaction all around. And there are a lot of characters around just to be love interests. Aside from repelling the alien invasion, that was the main story arc for about half of the characters.

The movie has a lot of great action scenes in space, in strange locations, and on earth. Thanks to modern cinema special effects, the aliens are now a lot more comfortable taking on humans on foot. I say it works well. The first film, they were mysterious. Now, humans have studied them for twenty years, so the time for mysterious is over. It’s time for aliens to bring in the big guns, hard. And that they do. Their new mothership is really impressive in scale.

Overall, there was a lot of character and plots they could have cut from the movie. But on an individual level, I don’t know which ones they should cut. I was entertained by most of the side plots. They might not be necessary, but I wasn’t bored following them. Perhaps I would remove the pyschologist (David’s new love interest).

One side plot I really liked was Julius (David’s father). He had the least to do with anything, but his part showed off more of what normal people was going through while the invasion was happening. It wasn’t dark, either, but a rather different take on everything to the story.

What I really like about the film is seeing the kids of the first movie now all grown up and taking the charge in the fight. Despite both of them being played by different actors, it was still nice to see.

But the film overall is just an excuse for a lot of space battles and explosions. The characters aren’t compelling enough, and there are too many of them. And the big epic speech wasn’t as great as what we got in the first film. Or the speech from Pacific Rim. Or Lord of the Rings. And that’s a shame.

300: Rise of an Empire

I saw a TV version, so I will blame TV edits for most of the fight scenes being worse than the original 300. And I’m pretty certain that’s accurate since they cut out most of the direct hits. But there is something worse about the fights that can’t be excused by TV edits, and that’s the overuse of slow motion. I know it was awesome in the first film, but this time, they use it so much more.

300: Rise of an Empire, is the sequel to 300. Perhaps it came too late for people to still be interested, though. I liked seeing more of the war, how some other parts of Greece was doing, but the film doesn’t execute as well as the first one on most things.

This time, we follow Themistocles, an Athenian general and his defense of the coast. Now him, I liked. He’s great and works as a counterpart to Leonidas. Themistocles is the tactician. He has sly strategies that helps his group claim victory against an overwhelming Persian navy.

The other characters on the Greeks side, though, feel mostly forgettable. Like knockoffs of what they had in the first 300.

I do like what they did to the Persians in this film, though. It gave a lot more context to the war. It’s not historically accurate, but I appreciate how the Persians are no longer some monstrous army. And the main antagonist of the film, Atermisia, is done really well. She’s an intense character that commands the screen whenever she shows up and works really well as someone to fight Themistocles. Atermisia has a intense backstory, and it shows through her modern actions. Her intensity is just always turned way up.

Overall, I do want to see more of the war between Greeks and Persians told through an over the top style, but they need to make things better than the original 300.

Black Panther

Marvel’s Black Panther now has his own movie! First introduced really well in Captain America: Civil War, he is now the star. The Black Panther is T’Challa, king of a fictional African country known a Wakanda. Wakanda is traditionally isolationist and has technology far greater than what the world has.

The movie is fun and really Marvel. I wouldn’t say it’s groundbreaking, but I would say it’s solid and well-made. If you enjoyed the previous Marvel movies, this one is great. If you’re looking for something new, it won’t be here.

What this movie does have is great characters and a cool tour of Wakanda. They enjoyed crafting the country and showing it off to the viewers, and I enjoyed the trip. The country is a mixture of high tech and old traditions, and it combines into a dazzling visual style.

The characters are all great in this film. We get to see a softer side fo T’Challa, but he’s still stern and kingly when he needs to be. And you know from the beginning that T’Challa is ready to be king. This isn’t him learning about that. He does take other lessons from the movie.

The side characters are fun and engaging. T’Challa’s allies are all important. None of them could be removed without drastically changing the film. The villain, Klaue, is fun to watch. He just always seems to be having the best time. The other villain, Killmonger, is really well done. He makes some valid points while going too far to the extreme to achieve them. He’s menacing and out of place in Wakanda, but he knows how to get things done. The ending scenes with him is really fantastic.

But, the one character that stands out the most, M’Baku! Leader of the Jabari tribe! He’s the comical character of the movie, but he’s so much more than that. M’Baku is a leader, and he shows it. At the same time, he’s dismissive of the Black Panther while still being respectful. The man balances things just right to be entertaining all the time he’s on screen.

The movie does get repetitive, though. Like I said earlier, it’s a Marvel movie and follows a lot of the same style and story beats. But it also gets repetitive within itself. Certain events happen multiple times. Each time is important, but it still stands out.

Black Panther is still a great addition and really well done. The villain is engaging. The side characters are fun. Overall, a solid movie in an already-great Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Thor: Ragnarok

The third installment of the Thor movies. I enjoyed the first one. The second one is alright. The third one, they shook things up, big time. For one, Earth has almost no factor in here, which means no Jane, Darcy and the professor. I enjoyed Darcy a lot and am sad she’s not in the movie, but the new characters in Thor: Ragnarok are great.

This time around, the movie is a lot more similar in tone to Guardians of the Galaxy, both in terms of style, humor and setting. Thor doesn’t speak as bombastic and old-style as he did before. He’s also on a space adventure in an alien planet with space ship action.

The style really works for Thor. It’s coloful, wild and fun to watch. The action in the movie is fun and shows off just how powerful Thor can be. The new character of Valkyrie is a good addition. She’s rough and hurting from a past that causes her to drink too much, but she comes around to help Thor out.

Skurge I particularly enjoyed. Not sure why, but he’s my favorite new character. He’s not the standard henchmen for the bad guy, and I really liked seeing him change throughout the film.

The Grandmaster is pretty much Jeff Goldblum. I can see that if Jeff Goldblum became the dictator of a planet, it would be just like that. He’s enjoyable whenever he’s on screen.

Now, onto the main villain, Hela. She is cool and awesome. I think she’s a good villain and actually adds emotional context to previous Thor movies. I’m not going to say too much about her, but she is fun and threatening, what I want in a villain for this type of movie.

What suffers a bit is the pacing. I felt that things went too fast. None of the moments that should have impact had any because it moved by too fast. I’m not going to spoiler it, but I didn’t feel emotionally sad during the film despite sad things happening. And there are some things that happen that are supposed to be emotional, they just don’t land.

Thor Ragnarok is a joy the whole way through, though. And Skurge, man, he’s great. He might not seem that way through the film, but he’s great.

Some spoiler thoughts.

Well, not much of a spoiler due to trailers, but Hulk is in this! The relationship between Hulk and Thor is pretty good, and it’s different from the relationship between Hulk and Banner. Thor really hashes things out between both of them, and that part works well. It’s probably things they wanted to do for a Hulk movie, but as they aren’t doing Hulk movies, it fits in fine here.

Loki is always fun to watch and this film even more so. He’s not as threatening anymore, but I don’t mind.

Also, the Doctor Strange cameo is pretty fun. Wow, Doctor Strange has gotten boss since his movie.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Whoa, this movie is wild. This is like, one blood splatter away from being rated R. I mean, if any blood was flying out when people were injured, instead of just appearing on walls after the fact, this would definitely be rated R. X-Men Apocalypse! Time for more mutant mayhem!

Now then, as a whole, I really had fun with the film. It didn’t feel too long, despite actually being quite long. There were wild effects and plenty of action. It was a action film throughout. Not that there aren’t problems with it, but this X-Men film is still pretty good.

I enjoyed going back to Cyclops, Jean, Storm and all of those characters. Cyclops and Jean are particularly important in this. And Nightcrawler’s back, too! I always really liked Nightcrawler. They’re all in their younger form, but they work well in this film. Beast is around, though he doesn’t really act like a beast. Mystique is back and a clear hero this time. I don’t mind that. I think it took a bit of forcing in the plot to make her a team leader, though.

And the movie doesn’t really get bogged down. I almost want it to slow down a bit. I wanted to get to know Scott, Jean and the others more. I feel the movie sort of abuses the fact that most people know the X-Men already and uses it as an excuse not to develop them as much. But I wanted more about them. Have some more screentime with Jean and Charles talking about her powers.

I am kind of abusing the fact I expect people to know about these characters the way I just talk about them.

Best part of the film is once again Quicksilver. Remember his speed scene in Days of Future Past? He has a similar one here. And I was smiling all the way through.

As far as Apocalypse goes, I think he was alright. Nothing fantastic. I don’t know much about his powers, but I think they showed him as sufficiently powerful. I mean, it took more to take him out than any other X-Men villain by a huge mile. So as far as power was concerned, I enjoyed the portayal. He still could have been more physically imposing, though.

But once again, in an attempt to ramp things up, this movie has massive destruction everywhere. Then, at the end, everything is just brushed away. Magneto is pretty much just Magnetoing it up like in every film. Yes, the guy is tragic, but stop Magnetoing things up!

Oh, random note, I had to look up who played Havok in the previous films. I did not recognize it was Lucas Till all three times and thought they replaced the actor.

Time for some spoilery thoughts. Stop here if you have not seen the movie. As a whole, I enjoyed this movie as some fun. It doesn’t change up the X-Men much, but I do like being back to Scott, Jean and the rest.

Alright, spoiler thoughts.

Out of the Four Horsemen, three are pretty not useful in this. I can’t even figure out why three of them would join Apocalypse. Only Magneto really seems to care about what Apocalypse is saying. It seems that Apocalypse has some sort of persuasion powers, but he explicity cannot mind control people. And in general, the other Horsemen seem really into it until things go south.

Comparing things to Age of Ultron for a bit, I would add in a scene showing Storm starting to doubt things. She’s the only one that changes sides, but it’s all down to reaction shots. Storm’s characterization was a bit too subtle. Really, aside from Magneto, none of the other Horsemen say more than one line at a time and are just brute force for Apocalypse. Sure, that’s what they were recruited for, but it does make Storm’s betrayal feel like it’s there just because she’s a future X-Men.

Once again, it’s a fun movie, but it’s squarely in the sequel style of bigger, badder and more flashy. And the characterization suffer a bit as a result.

John Wick 2

The first John Wick movie was a great surprise. It had great action, great world building and no extraneous stuff. It was a simple story told well. The second film has great action, great world building, and some extraneous stuff. And everything does take a hit from sequelitis, the need to make sequels bigger and better.

The good parts. The world is still fantastically interesting. The action is still great. The plot is still straightforward. No need for romance or making new relations for John Wick. Everyone he meets is an old acquaintance, so they can skip the random greetings and gettting to know each other part. They will skip right to the action.

Now, the following will be complaints I have about the movie. While it may seem like a lot, the movie is still really fun and filled with action all the way through. It’s just a bit more fantastical when compared to the first film. The shift in tone isn’t large, but it is noticeable. I mean, there are several funny scenes in this film, intentionally so. I don’t remember any in the original film.

This movie, though, almost feels like a parody at times. John Wick pretty much only speaks with people from Continental. That means everyone is super professional and they have lots of double speak. In the first film, they had a good amount of normal dialogue between John and the various characters. Not so in the second one.

There is also a ridiculous gun scene (which I liked). I won’t spoil it too much, but I will say it includes silencers. There also seems to be more assassins or people involved in that world than regular people now!

John also got a huge upgrade in skills and durability. In the first one, he was sort of like peak human. Now he’s practically super human. You could say that in the first movie, he’s only 50% back, and now he’s 100% back, but still. I didn’t think he was great at close combat in the first one. Above average, sure, but not wipe the floor with everyone. Here, he’s one man army-ing even without guns.

The action also gets video-gamey at times. There’s too many enemies now, so John Wick gets super body armor. The other guys get nothing, even if it looks like they’re wearing something. John mows down more people than ever all while surviving worse than before.

I really like the new characters, though. Cassian, played by Common, is great. He has the only legitimate reason for going after John. The character played by Ruby Rose is fun, too. The mute thing works out for a different and interesting character. It somehow has no detriment despite her being the leader and needing to call shots.

The main bad guy this time is just as punchable as the son from the previous film. Yeah, he does feel more like the son rather than the father, though he has respect and a lot more competent people working for him at least. He is really effective at being a personal bane to John, though.

There are still a bunch of beautifully shot scenes in the film. A lot of the background and set design is stunning, the Rome scenes in particular. Everything is still really clean, crisp and sharp. This movie still has a lot going for it. It just cranks thing up a bit too far from the original. Still, I enjoyed it, and the film kept up a good pace. Keanu Reeves is still great as John Wick. Most surviving characters return for an appearance. I think the bartender is the only one that doesn’t return.

Hoping for a John Wick 3.