Aquaman

aquaman

I don’t write a lot of movie reviews, mostly because going to the movies the way I like to go to the movies is a little more expensive than I would like, and so I see less movies than I might otherwise.

The husband is a big DC fan. We’ve seen all the newer Justice League efforts, some of which I have talked about here, and so it was a forgone conclusion that we would venture out from our winter den to see Jason Momoa swim around as Arthur Curry.

I’ll start with the negatives first. The CGI in this movie is aggressive. Everything was coated in a thin film of “this isn’t in any way real” which was understandable, yet distracting. Meera’s hair was comically red, when no one else was even close to that brash.

And could someone explain why Willem Dafoe was cast as Vulko?

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A character almost exclusively drawn and portrayed as a larger, bald, hulking guy was given to a small, timid, thin Willem Dafoe? Who was in charge of this casting, because I have some questions.

vulko2      dafoe

He didn’t even have a beard in the movie, and he had a full head of hair. I am confusion.

There were also several slow motion sequences that really made my eyes roll. Slow motion sequences are for explosions. Period. Nothing else.

Other than that this movie was really fun. Jason Momoa is perfect in this role, and other than Dafoe’s casting, all the other characters were perfectly matched. I loved the backstory of his parents, and his dad was adorable (Jango Fett for all you nerd alerts out there). I wish more time had been spent with Atlantis’ history. I still have questions about how the technology they were exploring turned half their population into nightmares (CRAB PEOPLE) but others stayed looking like human bipeds.

The story takes place after the Justice League movie, so Arthur is already famous for his role in saving the world from the scary destiny boxes and the hair band, Steppenwolf. The plot was both lighthearted and intense – Arthur does not want to be king, but is willing to do it to save both the land and sea from the current king’s warmongering – and so he’s continually pressed along his journey, but along they way he interacts with his environment in a very frat-dude-bro way.

I’m sorry, I meant to put all the stuff I didn’t like back there at the beginning, but I have to talk a little bit about the weird (?)villain(?) that King Orm (Arthur’s little brother and the current king) hires to help him start his war against the land. At the very beginning of the movie Arthur saves a submarine full of sailors from a band of pirates that has attempted to take over the sub by shooting the captain. He gets into a fight with the father and son duo that led the pirates, and in the midst of that fight the dad gets caught under a torpedo. The son tries to free him and asks Arthur to have mercy, to which Arthur responds “you kill innocent people, ask the sea for mercy” and climbs out of the sub, leaving them struggling with the rising waters.

I’m not even going to google what this character’s name is, because he eventually becomes Black Manta and that’s all that really matters. My problem lies with the fact that IDGAF about this villain. He has no redeemable features. I don’t even care that he loses his dad because Arthur is 100% correct – they are asshole murderers who wouldn’t have been in that position if they hadn’t been actively trying to be asshole murderer pirates. He’s mad because he blames Arthur for his dad’s death, but that’s not enough for me to find him a compelling villain.

When I watched Black Panther, Killmonger was a villain that I cared about. He was a child whose father was killed due to a difference of opinion about how/whether Wakanda should help black people around the world. Killmonger was fighting to reclaim his birthright that was taken from him by a shady situation. He represented so much more than just his own circumstances. You could empathize with him.

Black Manta is just some snotty, dick kid wanting murder revenge for the death of his murderer father who died as a result of their decision to kill people and help set up a planetary war. They got what was coming to them. Also, in terms of plot, “HE KILLED MY DADDY, I’M GONNA KILL HIM!” is a motivation that is going to get really boring, really quickly. Not to mention that Arthur didn’t kill his dad, he just didn’t help them escape, which I get makes him a little responsible but *shrug*. I don’t read the comics, so I’m not sure whether he’s this petulant there. The husband had to tell me Dafoe’s casting was weird for me to get that, so maybe I’m missing the mark here too, but I don’t think I am.

And while we’re back on things I didn’t like, I am confused about where the makers of the movie think Maine is. Most of the action here takes place on the coast of Maine and yet Atlantis is…where? In the cold waters of the north Atlantic? Wasn’t Arthur in Alaska in Justice League? What were those accents the sailors on the submarine had? Geographically (and this is a small point, I grant you) this movie was all over the place. I know where Maine is, but I don’t think it was something the writers of this script knew.

One more thing – please stop rushing love stories. I didn’t need Mera and Arthur to be a thing in this movie. They didn’t need to kiss and to be honest there was very little chemistry between the two of them throughout the movie. The kiss at the end felt forced and unearned, and while I know they have to be together, it’s a connection that could have been left for a sequel to give the relationship time to build. I didn’t like that it just felt flung into the action because it had to be, not because it should be there.

I liked Aquaman better than Wonder Woman, Batman vs. Superman, and Justice League. I’m sure part of my enjoyment was that it was new to me and I got to enjoy an origin story I had not seen before. In the cartoons Aquaman always seemed like a wimpy, side character to me, so seeing him as a strong, funny, lead character was a nice change. I get who Aquaman is and what his history is and why he’s so grumpy and dumb. It was a fun movie and I’m looking forward to the Flash movie that I think is next. *grabby hands*

NOW GIVE ME A GOOD GREEN LANTERN MOVIE YOU COWARDS. PUT ON YOUR BIG BOY PANTS AND GET BACK OUT THERE AND MAKE ME A LANTERN MOVIE. I DEMAND IT!!

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Crazy Rich Asians

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I have a terrible confession to make, and that is that I love a good romantic comedy. I haven’t watched one in a long time, but when I saw the clips and reviews coming in from the movie adaptation of the novel Crazy Rich Asians, I knew I had to go see it. I had not read the novel ahead of time, so unfortunately this review won’t have any comparisons to the book.

I didn’t want this movie to end. I needed to see what came next. I wanted to stay in this story with this pair of people who love each other so much that it transcended even cultural and familial obligation. The male lead, Nick, never falters. He never doubts his love. He considers it, he feels the weight of obligation, but every time he is right by Rachel’s side, even in the face of the disappointment of his mother and grandmother, who are expecting him to come home and run the family business.

It was nice when Rachel discovered how rich and connected Nick was that she didn’t stay mad at him long for keeping it from her. She understood that he wanted her to love him for him, without the trappings of wealth and his family name. What I personally fault him for is not telling her before they got on the plane to Singapore, and for being oblivious about her going off to the bachelorette party (Nick’s the best man in his friend’s wedding and has brought Rachel along to meet his family) and not expecting his ex to make trouble.

This movie goes hard with the cultural expectations and honestly I’m glad they didn’t pull any punches. I don’t want to give away the twist(s), but when I say I wanted to cat fight everyone shitting on Rachel I mean it. I would have been there with fucking bells on and no amount of money would have saved those bitches from the beat down this fat American would have brought upon them. If you have seen this movie and you know what happens to her at the wedding they’ve come to attend, you know I mean it when I say that bitches are cold. WOW. W. O. W. BITCHES. I can’t imagine being Rachel in the middle of the wedding craziness, coming to terms with who her boyfriend is, and then having to face THAT. Hold me back, I gotta fight some old Asian women over their disrespect of my girl Rachel Chu.

I did cry, but not for the reasons you might think. I didn’t doubt that Nick was 100% for Rachel, and everything that his family did to her was really shitty. The moments when I cried was when the people that truly cared about her were kind to her. After the wedding she runs to her crazy best friend from college’s house, and she just lies in the guest bedroom for days. One day Ken Jeong (the dad) comes in with the friends younger sister twins and they work together to toddle in to bring her a tray of food because she hasn’t been eating. I lost it. She’s a stranger in a land of her heritage, sad and lost in love, and people are so kind to her. My heart just ached for her and was thankful for the helpers. Even Nick, from the distance he gave her to think, gave her a gift of kindness that made me cry all over again. The most beautiful part of the movie was the thirty minutes in which Rachel regains her confidence and redefines her value with the help of the kindness of others. It was *chef’s kiss.*

I’ll say it again, I didn’t want this movie to end. The cast was flawless, the story was amazing, the acting was so good – it moved me to tears and laughter. It is a movie I will want to be able to watch at home once it leaves theaters. If you haven’t yet, treat yourself to a delightful 2 hours and go see Crazy Rich Asians. You won’t be disappointed. Then come back here and let me know what you thought.

Avengers: Infinity War (SO MANY SPOILERS, SERIOUSLY)

I saw this movie on Saturday, April 28th and have been processing it since. This movie is the culmination of 10 years of interwoven Marvel stories which the husband and I took the trouble to watch in order to prepare.

Some thoughts:

  • Over and over again this movie struggles with whether sacrifice or the individual is the most important. Is one person’s efforts laudable if their sacrifice saves the world? Or are we more about “one person is worth saving every time, don’t sacrifice one person for the whole”? I feel like this movie couldn’t decide. Dr. Strange is like “I’m gonna save the universe over saving you scrubs” but then hands the time stone over anyway. Vision and Scarlet Witch could have destroyed the mind stone like ten different times in the movie but we’re like “this is what we’re fighting for, we don’t want to sacrifice it” but then they do it anyway, and then it doesn’t even matter because Thanos has come too far and has the time stone and OMG.
  • EVERYTHING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A LOVE STORY
  • WHY DOES GAMORA GIVE UP THE LOCATION OF THE SOUL STONE IMMEDIATELY LIKE ONE PERSON BEING TORTURED ISN’T WORTH THE ENTIRE FUCKING UNIVERSE OMG
  • The deaths that happen at the end in Voldemort-flaking-away fashion ruin the effect of the movie. I know what movies are coming out in the next FIVE years, and I’m supposed to believe that Black Panther is gone forever? That the entirety of the Guardians of the Galaxy are gone forever? And if this is ultra random, how are all the OG Avengers still there? I can’t even get one Powerball number but Black Widow gets to live? I feel like that entire experience should have been harrowing, but it wasn’t because we know they’ll be back. *Fart Noise*
  • One exception to my previous thought is that Spiderman’s death WILL RIP YOUR HEART OUT. Hearing a child beg for his life and whimper that he’s not ready to go as he fades away in Iron Man’s arms had me physically sobbing in the theater. If I hadn’t been in public I would have been making much uglier noises. I remember like, pushing myself back into my chair as if it might get me away from the horror.
  • I am disappointed in the Hulk.
  • WHY DID THEY TAKE VISION TO WAKANDA TO DEAL WITH THE STONE AND MAKE THE WAR HAPPEN THERE THIS IS AN OUTRAGE.
  • Why does everyone just hand over stones? Dr. Strange takes all this time to protect the stone, refuses to hand it over, but then hands it over in return for Iron Man’s life. I guess he might have seen a future where Iron Man HAS to live for them to succeed, but still it felt like seeing him suffer for the whole movie was all for nothing.
  • Speaking of which, this entire movie feels like a waste of time, like I went through it for nothing. Because it’s all going to be reversed and the REAL trauma is coming in the next part in 2019.

It was good in parts, predictable in others, confusing in places because you didn’t understand why characters were doing what they were doing. I think I was equal parts in shock and offended by it. Everything that happened was terrible, but did the directors and writers really think I was stupid enough to swallow it all? I mean, seriously.

I Feel Pretty

I don’t go to a lot of movies. Ever since discovering the beauty that is Cinebistro, unless I’m excited enough to shell out the $16 for a wide leather seat and dinner brought to me, I just wait for it to come out on Hulu/Netflix/HBO etc. I saw Black Panther twice because it was 100% fresh for me, and I am seriously considering asking for the DVD for Christmas because that’s something I want to physically own.

Because I have to choose my movies carefully, I rely very heavily on trailers and previews. You have to wow me to get me into the theater. I’m not going to read a lot of thinkpieces or reviews ahead of time – if I like the trailer, I’m probably going to come see the movie. The only exception to this is The Quiet Place because I REALLY want to see it but I know I can’t because I can’t do horror, especially “make you jump” scary horror.

When I saw the preview for Trainwreck, I was intrigued enough to go see it on a day that the husband was playing Dungeons and Dragons. These are days I get to myself and I can have some me time. I enjoyed the movie, mostly because I discovered that I liked Bill Hader as a movie actor and was pleasantly surprised by LeBron James as well. I am not an Amy Schumer fangirl at all, but she was okay in this movie.

Amy’s back in a new film “I Feel Pretty” which, if the trailer is to be believed, shows that the only way a fat girl could have “hot” girl levels of confidence is to get a head injury in the midst of her fitness quest to become skinny and pretty.

Two things.

One: Amy Schumer is not fat, even though she would really, really, really like us to believe that she is. In everything she does she wants us to have sympathy for her because she’s a fat girl in a skinny girl world trying to be a successful actress. There are enough thinkpieces on the internet about this so I’ll let you read those for yourself, but ever since I learned how she created this impression and tries to perpetuate it, I have felt a very real disdain for her.

Two: How, in the midst of a body positivity/fat acceptance era/movement was this movie allowed to be born? Every time I see the trailer I get offended that everyone thinks she’s crazy because she’s so fat and ugly (???) but is so confident and bless her heart so they let her do things because it’s like a fat girl pity party. You think you’re going to draw me into the theater at today’s prices to be insulted for two hours? This is so tone deaf it’s unreal.

I’m not usually one to get this angry at a trailer, but I did it for The House with Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell and I’m doing it now, because some ideas are just hurtful and ignorant and shouldn’t be brought to the big screen to continue to perpetuate beliefs and stereotypes that people are working so hard to change for the better. Do me a favor and skip it.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

The husband and I have an agreement. He goes to play Dungeons and Dragons with his friends, and I get a day alone to do what I want. One of my favorite things to do is to go to the movies, buy the food I want, and watch something that he might not necessarily want to see. This past week that movie was Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Who allowed this much fun to be smushed into one movie? Where do I even start? All of the combinations were absolutely spectacular. I usually detest and avoid movies with Jack Black in them but he was fucking brilliant in this movie. How did they hold it together long enough to film any of his scenes? I wouldn’t have been able to stop laughing long enough to say my lines.

To whom in the casting department do I address the Edible Arrangement in appreciation for casting The Rock and Kevin Hart together? Aggressive Kevin Hart and shy/timid The Rock interacting throughout was just…comedy gold. It was golden. It was everything.

I would also like to send up a #blessed for Amy Pond’s abs and legs as well as whoever decided the most beautiful Jonas brother should be involved. The gift of Hanks the Lesser at the end was also a delicious surprise.

What makes this movie is the idea that the teenage characters discover how to be better people by inhabiting their opposites within the video game Jumanji. The challenges of the video game allow them each to believe that they can be more than what they are, and they become fast friends as a result. This could have been SUPER corny or obvious, but the movie handles it in a way that we see the lesson, but the dance fighting makes it a funny and enjoyable lesson to learn and can reach both adults and teens alike.

So when the husband got home that evening after playing his lawful-evil paladin I said that the movie was so fun, and that I would be willing to go see it again if he wanted to go. You should head out and see it too; you will have such a good time. Come back and let us know what you thought!

 

The Last Jedi

It can be a difficult task to write a review about something which expands on a source of childhood joy. When I thought about going to see this movie, the one thing I braced myself for was the idea that Luke would die as Obi-Wan did, or worse yet, as Darth Vader did. I couldn’t take an unfair death for Luke, I couldn’t accept it. It was my only worry heading into the theater.

Here is where the spoilers start, so if you’ve managed to get this far without experiencing any, please stop reading and go see the movie.

I needn’t have worried. To be honest the movie, which I expected to feel like The Empire Strikes Back, felt more like a Disney cartoon mini-series where we all learn lessons and are hopeful for the future. A bit early in this trilogy for that feel.

Poe learns a lesson about leadership!

Rey learns a lesson about balance!

Finn learns what matters!

Rose becomes a hero!

The children are our future!

Do you guys even remember how The Empire Strikes Back ended? Luke’s hand was sliced off, Han was frozen in carbonite, the rebellion was suffering, we’ve learned some very important information and been betrayed, we’ve met Yoda, we’re worried about Luke. I can only imagine how people cried out for episode 6. WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT OMGWTFBBQ!!!

This movie was all over the place. The side quests were distracting and confusing. Why is Brienne even in this series if we only see her like 3 times and is in that shiny suit the whole time? Is she even a villain? Who cares? Also who cares about Rey anymore? I 100% figured there was going to be a “my father is also your father” reveal in this movie and I was disappointed. Rey is 100% a Solo, whether she is Ben’s twin or younger sibling I’m not sure  yet, but that knowledge has to be given to me in the next movie or I’m gonna be real mad. There is no cliffhanger in this movie like Empire. Everyone is together, everyone is safe, Luke’s story has come to a conclusion. What am I looking forward to in the next episode, the directors and writers dealing awkwardly with Leia? No thank you.

The brilliance in this movie is not in the new. To be honest none of the new characters stayed with me, and without seeing the movie again I would be unable to recount their antics with any reliable detail. The brilliance in this movie is in the old favorites. Mark Hamill provides us with some of his best acting here. I loved the conflict in him in dealing with his failure. He’s not only failed Ben, Leia, and Han, but he’s failed all the Jedi that came before him. He cannot live with this, and so he exiles himself, cuts himself off from the Force, and resolves to die angry and alone. I see you Luke.

Rey comes, of course, but her persistence isn’t what wins Luke over as we expect. She leaves to help her friends and face Kylo Ren, much like Luke does in The Empire Strikes Back after they escape from Hoth. What changes Luke’s mind is a visit from Yoda. This encounter is hands down the best part of the entire movie. Yoda’s wisdom, his reminder to Luke that failure is the best teacher, his recognition that yes, Luke did mess up, but he should have learned from it and continued to do, for there is no try – all of it just washed over me as clearly as a sermon in a church might. I cried because it was like Yoda was talking to me. Sometimes to move forward, we just need someone to look at us and say “It’s gonna be okay, everybody fucks up. It’s whether or not you learn from it and move forward as a better person that matters.”

Luke’s re-acceptance of the Force and his journey to face Kylo Ren, protect Leia, and the rebellion is everything. It was just everything he was capable of and more. He was the Jedi I dreamed he would become after Return of the Jedi. He was strong and clever and finally one with the Force. And I cried again when he disappeared into the wind, having cemented his legend and the fact that the Jedi may be gone, but the spirit of that old religion lives on. I left the theater wanting nothing more than the requisite amount of midichlorians in my system so I could be a Jedi. I left wishing that Luke and I had been given more time.

This movie was a mixed bag with gems hidden throughout that were bright enough to make up for the parts that were dull. Go and see it because you have to, it’s Star Wars for crying out loud, but when you’re done ask yourself, “Do I really need an Episode 9”? The answer might surprise you.

 

Justice League

Oh DC, I know that watching the Marvel Universe expand and make all that money must have been like watching your ex go for someone clearly not as awesome as you. “I’m fucking BATMAN,” you screamed into the abyss, “We have SUPERMAN!”

Deep in your mother’s basement that you call your Batcave, fingers coated in cheeto dust, watching Captain America Civil War for the thirtieth time, you knew you could do this better. This inner conflict, group-takes-sides bullshit was always better with the Justice League. “This is bullshit,” you cried. “WE invented self-policing of the supers. THE ENTIRE JUSTICE LEAGUE TURNED THEMSELVES IN TO CONGRESS!!”

And so you decided you would reboot for the 230948307424923 time (although mercifully only subjected us to like a cumulative 10 minutes of angsty Batman origin story flashbacks – thanks for that, Edible Arrangement on the way) and give us a Superman movie, and then a Batman vs. Superman movie, and then Wonder Woman, leading up to the introduction of the Justice League that would give you all the branched out individual movies and side buddy stories that the Avengers have enjoyed on their own for far too long.

“Thor Ragnarok? Wait ’til they get a load of Flash/Cyborg!” You tented your fingers like a real world Mr. Burns, imagining the fan bois lining up for the awkward friend making that they would totally relate to.

So I’ll give it to you, DC, that you thought to make Aquaman hott because Aquaman is LAAAAAAAAAAAME and Momoa totally turned that around for me in this movie, and the Flash as the awkward kid was on brand and good too. But we need to talk about just a couple of things because this movie was better than I expected, but less than I deserved. So sit down, because I have some truth nuggets for your earholes that you need to hear. From a friend.

  1. Stop making Diana be this wide-eyed, rolls her eyes, reactionary “girl.” She’s Wonder Woman for god’s sake MAKE HER TAKE CHARGE AND LEAD.
  2. Having Superman die in the second movie was dumb, and the short resolution to his death made it all feel disingenuous and worthless. I know to true fans the backstory to all of it makes sense, but to us casual fans it felt…I don’t know, pointless.
  3. Listen carefully to this one. It’s very important. BATMAN. IS. NOT. THE. COMIC. RELIEF. EVER. He is not quippy. He does not provide the punchline. He isn’t flustered. HE’S BATMAN. This movie was absolutely SHAMEFUL when it came to that. I was embarrassed for DC and Batman.
  4. That villain was kind of cool, but he was too easily dispatched. Why did it all rely on Superman? The Justice League is a team, but they were getting harcore slapped around until Superman flew in and basically just punched him once and ended it. Also there was not really any suspense. 3 cubes that shouldn’t come together, and if they do they have to be separated? I’m shaking in my boots. No emotion, too predictable, and a moderate boss made for a “meh” plotline.

Despite these aspects, the movie was better than I expected. There were quite a few laugh out loud moments, and the graphics and visuals were impressive. The Flash was funny, Cyborg was intriguing, and Momoa as Aquaman was a good decision. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman were not quite themselves, but hopefully by the next movie they’ll be more united.

Now I am just waiting for a decent Green Lantern movie. A girl can dream, can’t she?