Does the Last Jedi ruin Luke Skywalker? Or Redeem him?
Self Portraits and Unforgiven Art by Thom Wade
All other artwork, Star Wars images, Dark Empire & Dark Empire II comics, Indiana Jones, Star Wars video, Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios © 2018 the Walt Disney Corp
Dark Empire Art by Dave Dorman and Cam Kennedy
If you have ever wondered why the Millennium Falcon looks like tuning fork or how Han Solo got the name Han Solo? Solo a Star Wars Story will leave you giddy.
Han Solo is a young man enslaved by a brutal crime lord and in love with fellow slave Qi’ra. When their escape attempt goes awry, and they are separated, Han joins the Empire. Not to good at it, sees an opportunity with Beckett and his crew. They find themselves forced to pull off a dangerous heist to get back in the graces of the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn.
It probably sounds at this point like I really disliked Solo. But actually, I had a lot of fun. When the film focuses on the *story* (in other words, the heists) it is a whole lot of fun. But when it starts doing the whole “gotta show this thing the original trilogy referenced” it tends to feel forced into the story. And yeah, if you are making a Han Solo movie, you need Chewbacca.
The performances are largely quite good. I mean, Bettany’s Voss actually kind of made me curious about his background. Woody Harrelson gives a dependable performance as a weary smuggler, hoping to retire. Of course, Glover is a standout. He manages to channel the swagger of Billy Dee Williams without merely imitating him. The droid L3-37 is highly entertaining as a snarky co-pilot for Lando and a droids rights activist (When Lando asks if L3-37 needs anything, she responds “Equal rights?”).
Alden Ehrenreich is not bad in the role…but he does not quite have the self assured cockiness of Ford’s portrayal. The film plays Han as more of a “good guy optimist” who is on the path to the self centered cynic of a New Hope.
And while the film features many double and triple crosses, very little of these come as a surprise. The film tries to make you think you should be surprised…but stuff is telegraphed from afar.
I would say this is my least favorite of the New Star Wars films, but I still had a good time with it overall.
There should not be an official origin to the Joker…but if you gotta make the movie…
Okay….before I write up this review…give me a moment to go check out Twitter to find out how I should really feel about Deadpool.
Okay. Well… let us try this as spoiler free as possible. First, I cannot believe they killed Professor X twice in the film.
Oops. Boy off to a bad start. Let’s try this again. Deadpool 2 is a sequel to a film from 2016 that was called Deadpool. It featured a bunch of characters from a comic book, also called Deadpool. It was pretty well received and now we have this movie. In this movie, some characters from the first film show up again, including Deadpool. Some new characters also show up. There are fights, people die, there is swearing and lots of Ryan Reynolds. It is a sequel to a movie.
What? You want more?
So, Deadpool would have been a perfectly fine film to leave as a one off. But apparently movie studios like money. Part of what made the first film work for so many is it had a rather irreverent approach to Super Hero films. Wade Wilson is a sarcastic mercenary who, in the first film was subjected to tests that left him severely scarred, but unable to die. He can recover from most any wound. That film centered around his relationship to Vanessa. In this film, we find his life bordering on blissful, until one of his contracts results in tragedy.
Deadpool finds himself, somewhat unwillingly, into trying to save a mutant kid from the time traveling Mutant Cable. Things go haywire and violent stuff happens.
While the main theme of family does not always quite come together, the film is still ambitious in how it tries to give a character who cracks jokes to the theater audience an emotional through line. Sometimes it works and other times not so much.
Where the film works best is it’s humor. The jokes come at a pretty fast pace, but Reynolds has a certain charm that allows for most of the jokes to land. There is an ongoing bit where Deadpool and new teammate Domino debate if “being lucky” is a real super power or even remotely cinematic. But the filmmakers have a lot of fun with Domino’s amazing luck.
The film managed to surprise me repeatedly. I just had certain expectations due to “Comic Book Movie” that managed to surprise and entertain me. Brolin’s Cable is played straight which works very well against Reynold’s rapid fire motor mouth. I found Domino to be a blast in this film. My one complaint is that I wish we got more Teenage Negasonic Warhead in this film, as she was such a highlight of the first film.
So, the first film was a bit stronger in how tightly it kept to the story, but honestly, I found myself (and the audience I was with) laughing throughout the film. I enjoyed this one, and think in some areas, they may have even made some improvements.
That’s it! The end is here!
Bringing everything to a close, we look at what the future may hold for DC’s Cinematic Universe.
All Marvel characters and footage © 2018 Marvel Comics Group
All DC Characters and footage © 2018 Warner Brothers
Part 1- https://youtu.be/D2zovFL1QgQ
Part 2- https://youtu.be/oy51WH3O86o
Part 3- https://youtu.be/1rrpUwYehuI
Part 4- https://youtu.be/alRmOuCRP9o
Part 5- https://youtu.be/r9J8CFRnkP0
Part 6- https://youtu.be/0N16wEC6hxE
And now it all comes together…the Justice League.
All Marvel Characters © 2018 Marvel Comics Group
All DC Characters and Video Footage © 2018 Warner Brothers
In an attempt to save Minho from WCKD, the film opens with a train heist. We discover that WCKD has been searching for a Cure for the Flare, and this was the purpose of the Maze. In the minds of Ava Paige and her scientists, they are doing noble work, and if they must sacrifice some kids to save more people, it is worth that cost. The heist saves several kids, but not Minho.
When Thomas, Jorge, Brenda, Newt and Frypan decide to go on a secret mission to break Minho out of WCKD headquarters, they find that WCKD is actually at the center of a massive walled city. With help from an old ally they make their way into the city and WCKD headquarters.
The Death Cure got delayed due to a pretty bad accident involving star Dylan O’Brien during filming. But the end result is a pretty exciting film. It is practically one long prison break type of film, with the heroes trying to save their friend and end WCKD.
Game of Throne’s Aidan Gillen (introduced in the Scorch Trials) makes a good heavy whose motives are not at all altruistic. Walton Goggins has brief but memorable role as a rebel leader dreaming of taking down the city. A couple characters get nice redemptive arcs and a few meet tragic ends.
The action is pretty non-stop and makes for an exciting close to the story (thanks to the producers for not splitting the last book into a two parter).
I enjoyed this series quite a bit, and I think it was well served by having the same director and screenwriters for all three films. Considering that other than the Maze Runner films, Director Wes Ball has only directed a few short films. He shows himself pretty prepared for big action.
After escaping the Maze, Thomas and his group of Gladers find themselves trying to escape the clutches of WCKD. They rush headlong into the Scorch…the world outside burned by the sun and filled with disease.
They come into contact with a group of freedom fighters who want to help get the uninfected kids to a safe zone and far away from WCKD. But they find that not all the Gladers can be trusted.
The Scorch Trials changes up their monsters. The Infection (called the Flare) turns people into zombie like creatures that mindlessly attack and destroy anyone in their path. The film builds a dramatic chase in which Thomas and freedom fighter Brenda try and escape these monsters. There is a great reveal in sewers and an exciting chase through a broken down skyscraper.
I really liked the new characters. Brenda and Jorge seem sketchy at first, seemingly just out for themselves, but prove themselves trustworthy. Alan Tudyk has a brief but memorable role as a rather scummy informant Jorge deals with.
The film ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but also a note of hope. The Scorch Trials is a good second act for the Maze Runner series. It is exciting and has interesting characters.
Welcome to a dystopian future where Katniss is chosen to be part of a competition to the…oh wait…sorry, welcome to a Dystopian future where society has been restructured into five groups based on certain ski-wait, wait…that was something else…
So, in a dystopian future, ravaged by disease and a scorched earth, a young man awakens to find himself in an elevator with no idea how he got there. He soon finds himself in a Lord of the Flies type of situation. A culture built by young teens. At the top of the hierarchy are the Runners.
Runners enter the maze each day in an attempt to map it out to find a way to freedom. The young man, Thomas, risks his life one day to help two runners and gets stuck in the maze overnight. They manage to be the first to ever survive a night in the maze.
Once made a Runner, Thomas pushes for the group to try and find the way out more aggressively. This results in divisions among the group.
Part of the slew of films that adapted young adult novels to have the next Hunger Games, the Maze Runner exploits the ever popular “Teens in a Terrible Future” plot that fuels an entire subset of young adult books. But while it has strong similarities, it also sets itself apart a bit. Built in with a larger mystery (why are the kids in the maze? What is WCKD?) the film smartly keeps the viewer in Thomas’ shoes. He has no memory of why he is there or what he did before and we learn everything as he does.
The effects are pretty good, with an interesting monster design for the Grievers (creatures that hunt in the maze). The Maze design is intriguing and the action sequences are exciting.
The performances are quite good (Will Poulter, who played Eustace in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, continues to impress me).
Is the Maze Runner awesome? No. But it makes for a fairly entertaining sci-fi actioner.
Burt Gummer is back in the desolate town of Perfection. He is having tax problems, so when he is contacted by the daughter of Val and Rhonda (Kevin Bacon and Finn Carter’s characters from the first film) because their remote Alaskan research base is under Graboid attack, he and his Son Travis run off.
It all has everyone perplexed, as there seems to be no explanation for the Graboids to be so far north. Gummer starts to piece it all together when they discover a nearby Area 51 style base. But the Graboids start gobbling people up and the two groups have to team up to try and survive.
I have noted in the past I found it kind of interesting how the films migrated across time to focus on survivalist Burt Gummer as the hero. The fifth film introduced his previously unknown son Travis and beefed up the graboids in size and appearance. They also became more agile.
Gross seems to enjoy the role, though it may simply be that at this point he has the core of the character down. Kennedy’s Travis can grate on the nerves a bit, but there are several like-able characters, making it easy to avoid just rooting for the graboids to eat everyone.
The move in the fifth film to make more use of digital graboids (though, there are still practical monsters for some scenes) is less jarring than it could be. For the most part, the digital monster look pretty decent.
As someone who enjoys the Tremors series, I found this to be a passable, even fun sequel.
Kenny Lustig is a lower middle class Jewish dad whose daughter is engaged to the son of rich surgeon (and black) Kirby Cordice. The week before the wedding, Kenny is trying to set everything up to go perfectly. Shockingly in a story like this…that is not happening.
There is certainly a potentially entertaining movie in the story. But the weight of the cliches and the casting brings to much drag. Kenny has big ideas, but is trying to pull them off on a budget and hide just how tight money is. He is constantly fighting with his wife, his family is overbearing but he and his daughter have a special bond. Is the massive fighting with his wife (played by Rachel Dratch) something that needs resolution? I don’t know…maybe? It is almost more like “This is an Adam Sandler movie, he needs another person to have shouting matches with”.
Rock’s Cordice has no apparent relationship to his ex-wife or his kids. He hates her new man, and just threw money at the kids. But the movie never does a good job of showing this relationship. But at the end, we are supposed to accept how much he has grown. But from where???
We don’t really get much of a sense of any of the relationships. A lot of the running gags feel like the film was originally envisioned as a writer pitch to Wes Anderson. The quirky friend who offers to sleep with guys for her best friend’s sake, another friend who throws herself at the weird neighbor kid who has been obsessed Sandler’s daughter for years…they are all “quirky”…but here it just feels like a weird clash.
And the biggest problem is the casting. Sandler and Rock are just not the right guys for these roles. They do not bring any real personality or life to their characters. Kirby and Kenny are ill defined characters, relying on cliches…and neither actor does anything to make these characters feel like they are more than those cliches.
Heck, they don’t even really make use of the cliches that might give them some solid awkward comedy. The only gag we really get from the Black and Jewish thing is one that…well, makes Kenny look pretty bad. He sees two black guys walking by the house and invites the (rather confused) two in because he assumes they are members of Kirby’s family.
Nothing really seems able to save The Week Of from drowning in it’s own lack of creativity.
A quick run through of Suicide Squad and a look at the shining high point of the DC Cinematic Universe.
All DC Characters, footage and Art © 2018 Warner Brothers
All Marvel Content © 2018 Marvel Comics Group