Avengers: Endgame (2019)


Assemble.

The day finally came.  After 11 years and 22 of my top 22 favorite films of all time, we’re in the Endgame now.  Even with all my hatred of people and crowds, my excitement and impatience would not allow me to wait long to see it.  But Infinity War set a very high bar for the MCU.  There was certainly no way they could pass that, or even blow it completely out of the water, right?  Well there’s only one way to find out.  Well, by the time of writing this, two ways because I’ve already seen it twice.  And even though the second time was today, I feel like I’m itching to see it again.  But what did I think of the movie, you might be asking?  …Really?  Have you never read one of my reviews or seen one of my videos?  Well here’s my probably entirely predictable review of Avengers: Endgame, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, and starring…like everyone.  Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Bradley Cooper, and so many more names.

Thanos (Brolin) won and wiped out half of all life in the universe with the snap of shiny, bejeweled fingers.  Even though they were thoroughly trounced by Thanos by himself, the remaining Avengers – Captain America (Evans), Hulk (Ruffalo), Thor (Hemsworth), Black Widow (Johansson), and War Machine (Cheadle) – as well as the two remaining Guardians of the Galaxy – Rocket (Cooper) and Nebula (Gillan) – decide it would be a good idea to take another crack at it because the new girl, Captain Marvel (Larson) claims to be super strong.  Iron Man (Downey) decides to stay home because he’s sleepy.  So the Avengers set off to … avenge.  And all of this is the first half hour.  Pretty much anything else is a spoiler.

Y’know what?  Avengers: Endgame could’ve been better.  …Don’t get me wrong, it was the greatest movie of all time ever, but I’m sure there’s something that could’ve been improved.  I was able to think of at least one, but we’ll get to that.  But a movie that contains as much hype as this movie has and I only really had one gripe?  That’s a killer flick!  Problematically for the sake of this review, I don’t think it’s worth talking about without spoilers.  Pretty much the entire movie after the first half hour is spoilers, so if that is a problem for you, feel free to stop reading and come back after seeing it.  Otherwise, let’s dish!

The story of Endgame was fantastic.  Time travel is a tricky thing to pull off and even the most well thought out stories can probably fall apart if you think about things too much.  Endgame does a good job of avoiding talking too much about the science involved so it can’t be picked apart too badly.  Science probably can’t prove that you can’t travel through time by shrinking down to sub-microscopic levels and entering the Quantum Realm because those things probably can’t happen in the first place.  And if you’re going into Avengers looking for good science to occur in the movie about superheroes, then what’s wrong with you?  The story obviously does leave some questions that may or may not be addressed.  What happened with past Loki?  What happens later when Hydra thinks Cap is one of them?  What changed when Cap decided to stay in the past?  In the very least, it seemed like these choices were intentional and may be leading to something.  The MCU has earned my faith in them.  And what’s more is that the time travel stuff added to what this movie really was deep down: fan service.  It was the most fan servicey movie ever, and I loved them for it.  There were callbacks to earlier movies (including what I say is the best moment of the film: when Falcon’s voice crackles through the radio when all hope seems lost and calls back to Captain America: The Winter Soldier when he says, “On your left.”)  And then when they start getting into time travel, we’re literally taken on the greatest montage/flashback in cinema history!  We go into Avengers, we go into Guardians of the Galaxy, and we go to shortly after Captain America: The First Avenger.  We see the filmmakers saying, “Remember this?  Oh you loved this!”  And we also see extra stuff, like how and why Loki got that gag mask in Avengers and what were the sorcerers that are supposed to be defending our realm doing during the Battle of New York.  You could also say that the death of Thanos in the beginning of the movie was not too surprising.  I mean, the team is in a spaceship heading off to kill Thanos in the first half hour, but we all know this movie is 3 hours.  They probably should’ve run the credits after killing Thanos and treated the rest of the movie as the best after-credit sequence ever.

I generally talk about the look of the movie here, but they put so much time and money into this movie it’s not worth talking about.  It was great.  I guess the only thing worth saying about it is that people often complain about CG characters and how they’re not realistic or compelling.  Avengers already got rid of that idea with Infinity War, making Thanos a very realistic and well-acted CG character, so much so that you could be forgiven for forgetting he wasn’t really there.  This movie continues that with Thanos, but also does the same level of quality with the Hulk.  So instead of talking about the look of the movie, I’m just gonna list the most exciting moments that I wrote down during that last fight.  And I’ll write them just as I wrote them in my notes.  Cap and Mjolnir!  Chips are down!  ON. YO. LEFF!!  Assemble! Rescue and Iron Man!  Wasp called him, “Cap!”  INSTANT KILL!  A-FORCE!!  CAPTAIN MARVEL!  I AM IRON MAN!!  …I straight up got goosebumps just typing those.  …I’m gonna go see it for a third time…

The cast of the movie was…well it was everything.  If you ever appeared in an MCU movie before, you probably showed up in this movie in some way or another.  You can get mentioned and shown in pictures like the Dark Elves from Thor: The Dark World or you can appear in unused footage with some new voiceover like Natalie Portman did or you can straight up appear in some degree like Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Hayley Atwell, Marisa Tomei, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, William Hurt, Winston Duke, Maximiliano Hernandez, Frank Grillo, Jacob Batalon, Robert Redford, Ross Marquand, Callan Mulvey, Sean Gunn, James D’Arcy, and even Ty Simpkins, the little kid from Iron Man 3 that’s all grown up and appears at Tony’s funeral but even I didn’t figure it out until I got to the parking lot.  (In my defense, I didn’t care for Iron Man 3 much and don’t rewatch it often)  So many people you couldn’t possibly ask for more, to the point where they even had Wong say, “You wanted more?”  …Here’s my thing…  Yes, you gave us so many people.  Almost everybody!  …ALMOST!  There’s so many that I know I shouldn’t complain, but this is the end of an era, man!  I think you should’ve found a home for everyone.  At least everyone that’s still alive in the continuity.  But what about Lady Sif?  She’s still alive as far as I know.  What about some Nova Corps action?  Where was Adam Warlock?  What about the Skrulls?  Anybody from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., like Quake or Agent Coulson?  I’m not caught up on that show, but past Coulson could’ve appeared.  I’m not like most people in thinking that this was the time for X-Men to show up now that Marvel has the rights.  It would’ve been too rushed and the MCU really should build to them properly.  But biggest of all would be the Defenders.  I know the Netflix series are cancelled and Marvel’s not looking to bring them back, but this would’ve been one hell of a sendoff.  Just having Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and the Punisher step out of a portal together?  Tell me that wouldn’t have blown your mind!  And it would’ve been easy!  If those actors wouldn’t have agreed to get into wardrobe and step in front of a green screen looking determined, those actors are silly people!

Now let’s go through the main cast.  They are all still amazing at this, and I’m gonna be sad to see some of them go.  Though thankfully for my tear ducts, not too many of them had to die.  I think only 2 big ones.  Downey’s Tony Stark being the biggest one, obviously.  Man I cried so hard the first time I saw the movie!  And only maybe 10% less on the second viewing.  I didn’t see it coming really.  I was convinced that Captain America was going to die and Tony was going to retire, but they flipped it on me.  Tony bothered me in the beginning.  I really liked his relationship with Nebula, but when he gets home he starts being a real douche for no reason.  He claims Cap wasn’t there when he needed him.  I saw Infinity War, Tony!  Everyone was begging you to call Steve, but you just never got around to it!  I understand his motivations for not wanting to get involved when they found a possible solution, but I feel like everyone knew that Tony wouldn’t be able to resist if someone posed an interesting enough theory to him.  It was just a matter of time.  And finally, Tony’s sendoff was perfect.  Retirement would never be good enough for him, and if he was going to have to go, it should be by saying, “I am Iron Man,” and saving the day.  And the funeral was perfect, from the cast involved in it, to the music and presentation, to the wreath with the proof that Tony has a heart.  Speaking of send offs, Cap’s was perfect as well.  I was expecting a noble death, but his noble life was even better.  I loved the “Hail Hydra” moment and the fight with himself, and I especially loved America’s Ass.  …I mean the line!  I wasn’t staring at his ass…  Most of the joy of Captain America was in the final fight, how even as possibly the weakest of the three heroes that started it; Cap was the one holding his own the most.  And holding Mjolnir!  I squealed with glee at that moment!  And then how he used it!  Calling in lightning, spinning it like Thor, throwing it at his shield in midair!  Perfect!  And finally, after all these years, he says, “Assemble!”  Though it raises questions, I really enjoyed his ending.  He finally got that dance with his best girl.  It makes you wonder now where second Cap was through all these other situations as you assume he wouldn’t be able to just lay low and hide knowing he could help, but whatever.  I’m kind of on the fence about him handing the shield off to Falcon.  I know that happens in the comics, and I know Sam is an honorable dude, but I feel like you go with Bucky.  He can be Captain America, from the strength and the history and the fighting ability.  Falcon can’t do what Cap could.  Falcon should be Falcon.  But whatever.  It’s fine with me.

I was bummed and surprised at what happened with Black Widow.  Having heard she had a movie coming, I was not expecting what happened to her.  On second viewing, hearing her say, “See you in a minute,” before they head back in time was heartbreaking.  But anyone watching Hawkeye and Widow head to Vormir after having seen Infinity War probably had a sinking feeling in their gut.  I was personally hoping that the self-sacrifice aspect would be a loophole.  I mean, we’ve only ever seen someone sacrifice someone else.  Thanos threw Gamora in there and Thanos got the stone for it.  Widow threw herself in there, so Widow should get the stone.  And then the Soul Stone says, “Well…ya got me.”  The other hope I have is ongoing because, besides wondering what happens when Cap is returning the stones and goes to Vormir and sees his old buddy Red Skull there, what happens when the Soul Stone is returned?  Is the soul returned?  Maybe we’ll see…  Thor continues to be a joy since Ragnarok.  It was very funny, and very fitting, to see fat Thor, drowning in self-loathing as he would be.  And he got to have a lovely moment with his mom.  I was kind of hoping that his magic, armor-up, beard-braiding action transformation might Hemsworth him up a little and bring that sexy back, but it’s fine.  He’ll get there.  I also felt like they used Captain Marvel well.  They didn’t make her too over-powered and didn’t make her just save the day easily when she decided to show up, and they also explained well why she wasn’t going to be around to save the day every time because she’s busy in space.  And she set up a moment I loved.  First, her little interaction with Peter Parker was adorable, but then that leads to the assembly of A-Force, or all the women heroes of Marvel, getting together for a save the day push.  I love me some badass ladies, and they put so many of them in one frame that I nearly passed out.  I would say that part of me found it a bit pandering because why in the context of the movie would only the ladies decide to make a stand.  We’re all equal on this battlefield and everyone was all spread out, but all these ladies just ran to the same point to do some work.  But who cares?  It was awesome!  Speaking of awesome, Scarlet Witch versus Thanos!  At that moment, I wasn’t even thinking about how much I wanted to see that, but then it happened and it was epic.  And Tom Holland.  His activity in this movie was somewhat limited by the whole dead thing, but it should be noted that this kid is such a damned good actor.  His death in Infinity War and his reaction to Tony’s death here were so heartbreaking!  I felt worse for Peter than I did for Pepper, and Pepper is his wife and mother of his child! For two other tiny points, I loved Nebula’s character ark.  She’s really becoming likable. I just wish when Cap called Thanos a son of a bitch that Nebula would chime in and say, “Actually, my grandmother was a lovely person…”  And he wasn’t in there much, but I wish Doctor Strange’s line was, “If I tell you, it won’t happen…but trust me, the whole thing is going to be an awesome spectacle.”

Now, you’ve been waiting through a lot of fangasming to see the payoff of a tease I mentioned in third paragraph and never paid off.  What is the one problem that I had with Avengers: Endgame?  It sucks to have something built up and built up and never pay it off, doesn’t it?  …Well too bad!  Moving on!

I’m kidding.  THE HULK!  That was my one problem with this movie!  Infinity War sets up Hulk’s inability to transform and help the team SO HARD and never pays it off.  It gave me blue balls!  …Or in this case, green balls, I guess.  And it just ended on that!  So of course I spend an entire year dreaming of what that moment will be where the chips are down and everything looks like it’s lost and then Falcon says, “On your left,” and Hulk transforms and turns the tide.  It would have to be some epic moment, right?  After all that build up?  …NOPE!  This movie starts and he’s just Hulk already.  Granted, he’s Hulk AND Banner, which is cool, but he just figured it out off screen in a bland, science moment we never saw and all that build up to nothing.  Well then certainly we’ll have some great moment for him in the big fight where almost everyone has a big moment then, right?  …NOPE!  I think I saw him once, and he punched something insignificant off camera and was never seen again.  I will grant you that technically the greatest moment for me in the film happens because of the Hulk.  If he hadn’t sacrificed his arm to snap then no heroes return moment.  I also grant you that his arm was hurt so he wouldn’t be as big of a factor in the fight.  But I’m not asking him to be the one that defeats Thanos, but give him something!  In Infinity War, Banner had a very hard time in his fight against Cull Obsidian because he had to rely on the Hulkbuster armor.  Why could we not have the moment when Cull is walking up on Iron Man but the Hulk drops down, makes some quip about beating him with one hand tied behind his back, and whoops that ass?  Well we couldn’t because Cull was stepped on by Ant-Man as a throwaway gag.  I don’t need Hulk to save the day or win the movie or absorb the gamma radiation he said the glove gives off to become Worldbreaker Hulk or anything, but you guys set it up and let it fizzle out and that was a real bummer that stuck with me after the movie.  …The one and only bummer, so you guys still did an amazing job.

So that’s it.  A decade long setup leading to a seemingly decade long review written by me.  And all of it paid off perfectly.  At least from Avengers: Endgame.  This review?  Fine at best.  But Endgame was the perfect fan service movie that included characters and references from nearly all of their 21 movies leading to this moment that in no way disappointed.  Well, in one way disappointed because of the Hulk thing, but if your movie is 2 hours of solid fan service followed by one hour of back to back hype moments and I leave with only one minor bummer as a Hulk fan, you have succeeded in a way no one ever has and possibly no one ever will.  You have done the impossible.  I’m not even going to tell you to see this movie because it’s obvious that I think you should and you should have already at least 7 times and I also told you not to read this until you had.  Avengers: Endgame gets “I love you 3000” out of “SO MANY STAIRS!!”

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Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)


Whatever You Do, Don’t Eat the Fuckin’ Candy

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)It had started to occur to me that I had not actually made it to the theaters this year.  There were movies out that I wanted to see, but I either never had the time or it just slipped my mind.  There’s also a chance that I was too busy making love to beautiful women all month to get to the theaters.  That one seems like it’s the most likely.  Having pleased enough beautiful women to meet most men’s lifetime quota, I finally decided to take a little me time and go to the cinemas.  I was shocked to find that the cinema I usually go to had been purchased by another theater company, but thankfully they still do movies for $5, enabling me to make a double feature out of my day.  Unfortunately, the two movies that I was able to catch in the time I had allotted were not Zero Dark Thirty.  That will have to wait.  For now, let’s talk about Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, co-written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, co-written by Dante Harper, and starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Cedric Eich, Alea Sophia Boudodimos, Thomas Mann, Robin Atkin Downes, Derek Mears, Peter Stormare, and Rainer Bock.

Two children named Hansel (Cedric Eich) and Gretel (Alea Sophia Boudodimos) are abandoned by their father in the woods.  They make their way to a gingerbread house where they are captured by a witch who intends to eat them.  They manage to throw her into the oven.  But we all knew that part.  What we may not know is what happens later.  Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) grow up to be famous, witch-specializing bounty hunters.  They are hired by a town called Augsburg, and arrive just in time to prevent Sheriff Berringer (Peter Stormare) from wrongly executing a woman he believes to be a dark witch.  Hansel and Gretel then set about discovering the reason behind the disappearance of six boys and five girls, and sightings of a Grand Witch named Muriel (Famke Janssen).  Also, I’m not positive, but I think a Grand Witch is the female version of a Grand Wizard.

Can I paste my review for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter here and call this a day?  Truthfully, this movie was much better than AL:VH, and much less crazy of an idea, but they do seem comparable to each other in title at least.  I guess the premise of the movie isn’t nearly as crazy since it seems to be a possible future for Hansel and Gretel to grow up to hunt witches and no one in their right mind would make the leap from Abraham Lincoln to vampires.  And just as it wasn’t a difficult leap to make to have Hansel and Gretel grow up to be witch hunters, the story of this movie made no difficult jumps.  It was all pretty standard.  The story serves mostly as a way to get from one silly situation to another bloody fight until the filmmakers have blown their load and lit a cigarette in celebration of their mediocre performance.  I can relate to that.  But, even though the experience is relatively unsatisfying either way, at least with me it can be a little bit of fun.   It had a bit of laughs to it, but nothing worth watching it for.  Now I’m not sure whether I’m still talking about my penis or not…

The look and the action were altogether unimpressive.  They had a lot of blood, but nothing interesting making it come out of the bodies.  Fist fights were really average and the gun stuff was simply aim and shoot with no flare.  The troll in the movie looked pretty goofy in daylight, but it also was the only thing in the movie that had a good fight in daylight, so I’ll call the troll a “push.”  There was a broom race through the forest at the end of the movie that reminded me of the scene on Endor from Return of the Jedi.  Also, the music that opened the movie seemed like it was ripped straight out of Sherlock Holmes.

The performances were mostly okay.  No one blew me away, but they didn’t suck.  I did think of questionable things about them though.  First off, Jeremy Renner as Hansel is a diabetic?  Is that really going to be a pointless subplot?  They don’t say he’s a diabetic, but he got it from eating too much candy and he has to inject himself whenever the movie realizes that it forgot about that subplot or else his foot falls off or whatever happens.  Also, you’ll come to find pretty quickly that Jeremy Renner loves to pose with his gun resting on his shoulder.  It’s like his favorite thing.  Gemma Arterton is fine, it’s true, but she perhaps needs some more practice before playing an action character in the future.  She threw some pretty unconvincing punches.  I also thought Famke Janssen was a pretty useless addition to this movie.  She also did a fine enough job, but why make her a witch?  I’m sure there are people that are cheaper to get into your movie than Famke and, when you get her, she spends the greater majority of the movie all uglied up and witchy, completely unrecognizable.

I felt like this movie was either going to be nothing to write home about, extremely lame, or fun and awesome.  Unfortunately they chose the former.  It’s okay.  It has a super basic story, limited amount of laughs, and unimpressive action.  This movie could’ve been more fun with a little more comedy and some better choreographed action.  It’s not a bad movie, and one you wouldn’t be too bad off if you rented, but there’s not really any good reason to go to a theater for it.  Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters gets “I say burn them all!” out of “Cutting off her head tends to work.”

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The Bourne Legacy (2012)


How Many of Us Are There?

Today’s movie had arrived in theaters without me even knowing it, which is really strange because it’s the fourth movie in a series that I’ve loved so far.  I’m not entirely sure why I wasn’t paying attention.  It could have been because they changed the main actor, but I doubt it because I like the new actor just as much as I like the old one.  It could have also been because the movie didn’t look that good, but it’s probably not that because nothing that I had seen made me doubt it could live up to the other movies.  It also could have been that the movie looked like they were just trying to grab some more cash from the movie series.  I don’t really have a counter point to that one.  But, when I realized that the movie had been released, I set my sights on checking it out as soon as I could.  And that brings us up to speed and I can review the Bourne Legacy, based on a novel by Eric Van Lustbader, based on characters created by Robert Ludlum, written by Dan Gilroy, co-written and directed by Tony Gilroy, and starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, Zeljko Ivanek, and Louis Ozawa Changchien.

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is traversing an obstacle course through Alaska as a test of the effectiveness of Operation Outcome, a secret government operation to use chemicals to help the human body reach its physical and mental peak.  He eventually reaches a cabin to meet his contact, another Operation Outcome agent called Number Three (Oscar Isaac).  The fact that Operation Blackbriar and Treadstone were exposed by Jason Bourne in the previous movie leads to CIA operative Eric Byer (Edward Norton) to wise up for a few minutes and realize that these tests are not working out for the government, so he decides to scrap this version of the project and kill Aaron and everyone in the facility that provides the chemicals for them, including Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), but she survives.  Aaron does as well, so he’s going to have to go and punch some faces to teach the government a lesson.  But the government will probably strike back with their other projects that they are completely confident will never turn against them like the other two.

This movie disappointed me with how thoroughly okay they were.  It wasn’t a bad movie, but the other three movies set a high bar for this movie and it never managed to reach that level.  I found myself starting to get annoyed that our government is apparently smart enough to develop these programs to make these super soldiers, but not smart enough to realize that it’s not working in their favor.  This is the fourth movie that should teach them that this is going to blow up in their face, but they’re all going to get the idea in their head that the others failed, but this time will be different.  I like to believe that the government would move on if the Manhattan Project blew up in their faces four times, killing everyone involved and making them look bad publically each time, but maybe that’s just me.  It felt in the early parts of the movie as if I should have gotten a discount because they seemed to delight in using scenes from the previous movies.  I understand tying the movies together, but at a certain point I just start thinking I would’ve been better off staying at home and watching the DVD’s that I already own.  But they slowed down with that soon enough in the movie that I wasn’t that annoyed.  I was a little annoyed by the ending, but mainly just because it was kind of quick and pretty lackluster, like they just ran out of steam and just slapped “The End” on it.

One of my favorite parts of the previous Bourne movies is the fact that their solid story was backed up by some badass action.  They decided that this movie needed to be too much subpar story and we could leave the action by the wayside for the bulk of the movie.  The first decent fight of the movie was an hour and a half in!  The bulk of the first part of the movie is people talking and reaching the conclusion that they should wipe out the project mixed in with scenes of Aaron Cross walking through snow.  You know what I don’t come to my Bourne movies to watch?  20 minutes of a psychologist session with Rachel Weisz talking about how she feels about Zeljko Ivanek shooting her coworkers.  Just after that is when they realize that the Bourne movies are supposed to be action flicks.  It was a good bit of fighting though and I was dying for it to happen by this point, even though it left me thoroughly confused about how a guy died from getting a table kicked into his head.  Unconscious, sure.  But dead?  That should take something more like a drill bit being fired out of a fire extinguisher.  There are one or two more good fights in the movie, but the action was spread out way too far for my taste and left me disappointed in the movie overall.  There was a spectacular motorcycle crash near the end of the movie that came out of nowhere and surprised the hell out of me, but it also annoyed me because I felt like it robbed us from a good fist fight that needed to happen.  The part where Aaron grinds the motorcycle down the handrail that you can see in the trailers was pretty sweet though.

I even took issues with the performances, even though they got a lot of great people that I really like to be in the movie.  I guess it’d be more accurate to say that I took issue with the characters because the performances themselves were solid.  Jeremy Renner is a great actor, and when I saw that he was taking the reins from Matt Damon I decided it was an acceptable substitution, but I didn’t really like this character or how it was portrayed.  Jason Bourne was a cool and collected badass; Aaron Cross is a pill addict who talks too much.  But Renner did a good job with the action, and he also played his less interesting character well.  Rachel Weisz did have to bust out the acting chops a little more often, like in the scene where we’re watching her debriefing with the psychologist, but I was too busy being angry that I was having to watch that scene to pay attention to how well she pulled it off.  She mainly had to be scared and run around as her performance, and she did it well.  I was a little confused about why her character lived in a haunted house, but it apparently wasn’t important.  And the ghosts never showed up.  Also the house was just old and looked haunted.  Edward Norton was in the movie, but surprised me by never really doing anything to make me pay attention to him.  That’s not usually his MO.

If the Bourne Legacy had a different title, I probably would have liked it more.  I would have definitely thought that it was a Bourne rip off, but it wouldn’t have had to live up to its predecessors and fall short.  The story was fairly typical for the Bourne series, full of stuff that shows us how untrustworthy and stupid our government is, but the action could not elevate this movie as it was able to in the previous movies because there just wasn’t enough of it.  The movie winds up being okay, but probably not good enough to inspire seeing it in theaters.  Good enough for a rental when it comes out though.  The Bourne Legacy gets “I wanna stop thinking” out of “I’ll get my bag.”

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The Avengers (2012)


Guys, I’m Bringing the Party to You

Today’s movie was a hard movie to put off for as long as I did.  It came out almost a week ago now, but I didn’t have a good moment to go and see the movie with my roommate Richard until today.  It was not an easy couple of days.  I’ve been somewhat excited to see this movie since it was announced, and from the day it came out I’ve been beaten over the head with the fact that I need to see it.  But, when someone called the movie “The Best Comic Book Movie Ever”, I found myself very skeptical.  Had these people not seen the Dark Knight?  Or Watchmen?  Or was there a chance that this movie was that good?  We’ll find out today in my review of The Avengers, written by Joss Whedon and Zak Penn, directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harry Dean Stanton, and Paul Bettany.

The fallen Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has reached a pact with an alien race known as the Chitauri.  If Loki is able to capture the powerful source of energy known as the Tesseract, they will declare war on Earth for it.  Armed with a fancy spear, he easily breaks into a facility of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (aka SHIELD) and takes the Tesseract, also brainwashing the physicist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and SHIELD agent Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner).  In response, SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) activates the Avengers Initiative, compiling Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to face the threat.  SHIELD agent the Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is sent to retrieve the Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is sent to retrieve Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and Fury himself goes to retrieve Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).  Iron Man and Captain America are able to capture Loki, which captures the attention of Loki’s brother, the God of Thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth).  Can these very conflicting personalities come together to work as a team?  Can they thwart Loki’s plans?  And, more importantly, how many times will I masturbate during this movie?

This was the worst movie ever … for someone with a heart condition.  HOLY SHIT is this a good movie!  I loved the living bejesus right out of this movie.  But, as much as I loved it, I don’t think I’d be willing to call it the greatest comic book movie of all time.  It’s certainly the greatest of its kind, though.  I would divide comic book movies in much the same way as I would regular movies.  Some are really smart, and some are really fun.  I wouldn’t call the Watchmen or Dark Knight particularly fun, but they’re great movies.  I also wouldn’t call Avengers the smartest movie, but it’s fantastic fun pretty much from the very beginning of the movie.  One thing that should be kept in mind while reading my review is that I do not have the ability to think about this movie as someone who is not a fanboy.  My fanboy boner is drawing all of the blood out of the rest of my observational abilities.  But fellow fanboys will have such the nerd boner throughout this entire movie.  Comic book movies already get +10 love in my mind, but this movie had no use for those excess points.  It’s such sweet, sweet fan service all the way through, thanks to the man at the helm, Joss Whedon.  Being a nerd himself, he would not allow any one of the Avengers to not have their moment in this movie.  Because of his nerdiness, this is the first Marvel movie (that wasn’t just a sequel) that took so much from what happened in the other movies into itself.  Things like the Tesseract that was introduced in Captain America’s movie and some of the Asgardian stuff that was introduced in Thor helped really connect this movie as opposed to leaving it to its own devices.  The introduction of each individual character in the movie was badass and usually preceded by an awesome quip that got me extra excited.  Things like, “Wars are won by soldiers,” and then BOOM!  Captain America punching the shit out of some heavy bags.  They did something like this for almost every Avenger and I loved it every time.  I was also assuming as I went into this movie that I would only be interested in the main Avengers like Thor and the Hulk, leaving me bored with the time I spent with the less spectacularly gifted Avengers like Black Widow and Hawkeye.  When the gigantic battle at the end of the movie was starting, I wondered what good Widow and Hawkeye – and maybe even the Cap – would be in this fight, but every one of them had the opportunity to be awesome in it.  And almost everyone on the Avengers teamed up with the other Avengers.  One of my favorite moments in the movie was something I had seen in some of the Marvel video games: when Iron Man shoots at Captain America’s shield during battles and Cap swings the beam around to hit the enemies around them.

I got to thinking about something early on in the trailers leading up to this movie.  I’m sure there was a time when goose bumps served a purpose like making our hair stand up because of cold in the environment or perhaps even fluffing up our hair when threatened to make us look bigger.  It made me laugh that, over time, these defense mechanisms have become completely useless and goose bumps now only involve showing our excitement over movies.  The trailers that preceded Avengers were for other movies I’m extremely excited for, like the new Spiderman and Dark Knight Rises, and they got my skin prepped for goose bumpage.  The Avengers movie barely ever gave my skin the chance to rest.  The introduction for each character caused goose bumps, each fight caused goose bumps, almost everything said by anyone in the movie, all of these things got my skin all riled up.  Even for some two hours after the movie, my skin wouldn’t knock it off with every time I thought about my favorite moments.  Hell, even writing this review caused me to get goose bumps.  I tell you all of this to let you know that goose bumps are stupid and this movie is awesome.

I briefly skimmed one of the very few negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to see how someone could possibly not like this movie.  It criticized the movie for being a big mess of CG action.  What did you go into this movie expecting?  Schindler’s List?  It’s a comic book movie!  It’s supposed to be like you’re watching a comic book come to life.  If you saw this same movie without CG, it would be the worst movie ever.  You’d have to bring Lou Ferrigno back to be the Hulk and no one could really do anything awesome.  So, what I’m saying to that guy is: go fuck your own face.  This movie looked epic and fantastic.  Things like SHIELD’s helicarrier looked as massive and realistic as humanly possible.  And, for the first time, the Hulk looked fantastic and real.  Well, as real as a giant green guy can look.  The other movies had the Hulk kind of stand out and not look like it was properly lit, but this movie didn’t have that problem.  Even the practical things were given the weight that made them feel like superpowered individuals were doing them, like when Cap blocked Thor’s hit as they were fighting in the woods, creating a shockwave that cleared a large portion of the surrounding area.

I’ve probably already discussed every character in this movie already in their own respective movies, but that shant stop me from doing it again.  But this time I’m going to discuss them in order of awesomeness.  First up is the only new addition to the Avengers team: Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.  Though Ruffalo was the only one in this movie to not appear as his character previously, I think he stole the show.  I found him to be a combination of the most humorous and most badass characters in the movie.  When he randomly, and unexpectedly, punches Thor at one point in the movie it was pure comedy enjoyment.  When he lays an epic beatdown on one of the major characters in the movie, flopping them around like a ragdoll and following it up with one of his trademark “Puny …” lines, I nerdgasmed.  When he fights one of the good guys in the movie, I was worried that they wouldn’t give the Hulk his proper amounts of awesomeness in order to make another character that I wasn’t that fond of look better.  But when Captain America unleashes him on the enemies by commanding him to smash, he did just that.  The big question would be whether or not Ruffalo set himself apart as the best version of the character, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to give him that.  I would definitely allow Ruffalo to be called the actor that played the Hulk in the best movie he was in, but I didn’t think that Ruffalo had the appropriate build for Banner.  He did a great job acting as the character, but he was a little more muscular than I’d think of Banner.  I think Edward Norton looked the part much more, and acted the part equally as well.  My next favorite would have to be Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.  Adding Downey’s own wit and timing to Joss Whedon’s sharp writing is a winning combination.  RDJ is Tony Stark, and I don’t know how there will ever be another.  He got to bust out the hero chops more than any of the Iron Man movies here, and was still really funny.  Another of my favorite moments in the film was when Stark prodded Banner in the lab because he was just like a big child that just wanted to see the big, green smash machine.  Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor had tons of awesome moments and each had a couple of comedy moments as well that I appreciated.  Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow sets herself up as pretty awesome right in her opening scene, and also takes part in an epic fight with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.  I was worried about Hawkeye going into the movie, thinking that a character whose only power is to be really good at firing arrows would not be super interesting.  Though his parts were lighter on the awesome, he still pulled a good bit out with some sweet shots and some cool, no-look shots.

The Avengers might not be what I’d be comfortable calling the best comic book movie ever, but it’s unequivocally the most fun, most action-packed, and most exhilarating comic book movie I’ve ever watched, and I’ve seen almost all of them.  The story is great, the dialogue is smart and funny, and the performances are all fantastic.  But, more importantly, the action scenes are frequent, amazing, and exactly what every fan wants to see.  Being a fanboy myself, I can’t really get into the mindset of someone who doesn’t like comic books.  But I also can’t imagine the type of person who would not think this movie is awesome.  I don’t only recommend you see this movie, I outright demand it.  Go see this movie now.  And, if you can, go see it in IMAX, and even in 3D.  I’m normally a 3D hater, but I hear this movie is worth it.  The Avengers gets “The world has changed” out of “I still believe in heroes.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (2011)


Next Time, I Get to Seduce the Rich Guy

Got back into the theaters today for another big movie I’ve been looking to see. It probably spoils it a bit early, but this is the 4th part in a series that I’ve liked all the way through. Most people hated on the third one, but I still found it enjoyable. These movies are typically a step above a big, dumb action movie. They’ve got the big and the action, but they’re usually a little bit smarter than your typical dumb action movie. But, as is the case with most sequels, I tend to go into them with a great deal of trepidation. Sequels always have the danger of being too much of the same thing. Is this one? Let’s find out in my review of Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, written by Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec, directed by Brad Bird, and starring Tom Cruise, Michael Nyqvist, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Vladimir Mashkov, Lea Seydoux, Josh Holloway, Tom Wilkinson, Anil Kapoor, and Ving Rhames.

During a pick up in Budapest, IMF agent Trevor Hanaway (Josh Holloway) is killed in action by assassin Sabine Moreau (Lea Seydoux). In reaction, Hanaway’s team of Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) bust IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out of a Moscow prison. Soon after, they find out that their mission – if they choose to accept it – is to break into the Kremlin to get information on someone with the codename “Cobalt”. Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist) beats them to the punch, stealing nuclear launch codes and blowing up the Kremlin, getting it blamed on Ethan Hunt and IMF. Ethan gets picked up by the IMF Secretary (Tom Wilkinson), who informs Ethan that the President has enacted “Ghost Protocol”, disavowing the entire IMF. Hunt and his team are going to take credit for it unless they get out there and fix this before they get captured. Russian security forces attack their car and kill the secretary, but Ethan escapes with the secretary’s chief analyst, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner). With Brandt on their team, Ethan, Benji, and Jane go to stop Cobalt from starting a nuclear war.

YAY! Mission: Impossible didn’t let me down! It’s every bit the big, action movie of moderate intelligence that the previous films were, but that’s okay. It’s what I expected, what I wanted, and what I got. The story is solid, the action is pretty spectacular, and it was great fun. It’s worth mentioning that it’s the same basic principle that the other movies use. Something happens and Ethan Hunt must break with protocol to fix it. He does, and then he’s back with the IMF at the end. Same principle, but it’s different enough that it hasn’t gotten stale yet. The way it started was a little confusing to me. Now, I know the typical MI opening credit sequence is the lighting of a fuse that then travels along through the credits until it explodes to end them. There were two things that bothered me about these though. The first was that it seemed to show the whole movie in the background as the fuse traveled through the biggest scenes. I just thought it was odd and vaguely spoiler-y, but by the end I didn’t really think so because a brief shot from a huge action scene doesn’t really spoil it. The other thing that bothered me about it was that these people had super advanced equipment like a blue light that would cut a hole through 5-foot thick concrete, but they were still using explosives with a fuze you had to light with a match? Speaking of the technology: I know that Brad Bird came from Pixar, who is owned by Apple, but does that mean that 50% of the technology they use in the movie needs to be Apple products? Almost everyone in the movie used an iPhone, and they also used an iPad to peak around corners and to operate a machine that projected the image of the wall behind a giant screen so they could push the screen down a hall without knowing. Next time I talk to someone about the iPad, I’ll need to remember to tell them that it’s not just for media viewing, it’s also great for espionage! I just got really sick of seeing all the product placement in the movie and it bummed me out a little. And they missed the opportunity for a great joke at the end! When Ethan puts three iPhones on a table to give Pegg, Patton, and Renner their missions, Renner doesn’t take his. He says “I’m not going to take that phone …” and goes on to say something vaguely emotional. I was praying for it, but it didn’t happen. I desperately wanted him to say “I’m not going to take that phone … because I’m an Android man.” The action is over the top spectacular in this movie. I really don’t know how they’ll top it for the next movie. One such action scene is from the trailers and involves Hunt climbing the world’s tallest building in Dubai. There’s also infiltrations with cool technology, chases – both in cars and on foot (because Tom Cruise loves to run in movies), and big time shootouts and fist fights. One of the chases happens in a sandstorm that is so intelligent that it knows to arrive when it’s needed to amp up the action, but leaves right when the movie was finished with it. Very polite. If I was going to point out a negative side of the movie, it was definitely the ending. The movie is interesting and fun all the way through, but the ending seemed tacked on and out of place, as if they realized there was one more plot point to tie up (and a couple more cameos to throw in) and decided to throw it in so people wouldn’t complain. But I’m doing it anyway. It just seemed to stop the movie too abruptly and it could’ve been so much better.

The performances in this movie are much better than a movie of this type requires. They’re not super fantastic, impressive, or range-y performances, but they’re better than most of the performances that you would typically see in an action movie. Tom Cruise is as good as he was in all the other MI movies. He’s very serious and is running 90% of the time, but also stretches out his acting chops a couple of times. Simon Pegg is awesome. He’s back in this movie as the comic relief computer guy (as he well should be, being so nerdy and hilarious), but he also gets to play the badass a few times in this movie. He’s awesome in everything. Jeremy Renner is also very awesome. He didn’t have quite the emotional range to this character as he showed in Hurt Locker, but that’s not what the role called for. He kicked some ass, dropped some great lines, and just did one or two emotional parts. Paula Patton was very hot. She was also very good, but her hotness overrides her performances. WITH HOTNESS! Michael Nyqvist was pretty creepy as the bad guy, but I never really felt like his motivation was clear. I still have little to no idea why he wanted a nuclear war. But I think he was supposed to be pretty crazy, so he may not have had more reason than that.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol keeps a great series moving forward with it’s solid story, fantastic action, and appropriately great performances. It doesn’t break any molds for story, but the action is amped up so high that I’m not sure how they’ll top it for another sequel, which I feel pretty confident will come eventually. I’m still on board to check it out. Shitty ending, be damned! I paid to see this in theaters, and I can’t see most of you being disappointed in this movie, especially if you walk out before the ending. I give Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol “Mission: Accomplished” out of “Ha, it’s funny ‘cuz you said anus.” This review was sponsored by Apple.

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The Hurt Locker (2008)


This Box is Full of Stuff That Almost Killed Me

Today’s movie had a lot of buzz going for it when it came out. I remember hearing about it, but never wanting to see it. I saw it as an action/drama set in the middle of a war and there was something about bombs in it, and I decided “I don’t really wanna see that.” I like a good action movie, but the combination of it being a drama and it being a drama set in a realistic, present day war situation made me think it would take a lot out of me to watch it. I’ve seen enough war movies to know that I am too much of a coward … I mean pacifist … to want to go there and do that, so why would I want to watch a movie about it? Well it came time for me to do it anyway, and so here is your review of The Hurt Locker, written by Mark Boal, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Christopher Sayegh, Ralph Fiennes, Christian Camargo, David Morse, and Evangeline Lilly.

In the beginning, Staff Sergeant Thompson (Guy Pearce) is out to disarm an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) with his teammates, Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Eldrich (Brian Geraghty). Someone in the area with a cell phone sets it off and kills Thompson. Shortly after, Thompson is replaced by Sergeant First Class James (Jeremy Renner). The rest of the movie follows these three through various situations that test their abilities and their patience. Sanborn and Eldrich don’t get along with James’ eccentric and renegade ways through each of them. They have to disarm a bomb in the trunk of a car next to the UN and James decides he would rather work with his radio and bombsuit removed, they detonate some explosives in a remote desert and Sanborn talks with Eldrich about “accidentally” setting off the explosion as James goes to get his gloves from the kill zone, they find the body of a boy that James had befriended on the base filled with explosives, and other situations as we count down the days until their tour of duty is over.

This is a pretty awesome movie, but not quite perfect. It has great action, fantastic tension, superb performances, but the story gives me a little bit of difficulty. The movie is mostly about disarming bombs, which is usually a really slow, but super tense situation, and the movie captures that brilliantly. I was captivated by the movie practically all the way through. I would say the pinnacle of the tension was the scene where they had a super realistic sniper battle after meeting Ralph Fiennes and his crew of mercenaries. The building was really far away and none of the trained snipers were still alive and they kept missing because of the range of the enemies and things kept going wrong like the bullets jamming because the sniper’s blood was in the clip and other enemies were creeping up behind them, but it was really tense and enthralling. It ended on a bit of a low note, but it was still really good. It was also filmed really well, and this was best illustrated in the very beginning when Guy Pearce dies. It exploded, causing the dirt to pop up off the ground and the rust was shaken off of a nearby car. It was really cool to look at. The problem I had with it was that it never really explained to us how Guy Pearce actually met his end. He was running away from the explosion in a bomb suit and blood exploded onto the visor of his helmet. Not being a bomb expert (as I’m sure most viewers aren’t), I wondered what it was that killed him, but never found out. Was it the shockwave that killed him? Shrapnel from the explosion? I have no idea. It didn’t take me out of the movie, but I feel like they should have dumbed it down a bit for the non-veteran audience. The real problem I had with the story was that it practically didn’t exist. It was just following around three guys going to various, somewhat unrelated situations and resolving them as best they could. There was never any story arc or resolution. It was kind of about how people get addicted to war, and they showed that at the very end when Renner returns to his wife and kid for a short time, but then returns to the service for another year of service. It feels like a bit of easy writing because you just put the same three guys into real-life dangerous situations, but you instantly get the emotional response from American audiences because we all love our troops and watching things that they actually have to deal with while we’re relatively comfortable and safe over here gets our attention. But you didn’t have to write this, so it seems a bit lazy without some kind of story arc. It didn’t actually occur to me until right after the movie though, so obviously it wasn’t that big of an issue because the things they did right overcame the lazy writing. One other thing that occurred to me as strange in the writing was what happened with Christopher Sayegh’s character “Beckham”. He was a little boy that Renner had befriended at the base and then later they find him dead and packed with explosives. This is deeply troubling to Renner in the movie, but what is deeply troubling to me is that it later turns out that this was some other random boy and Beckham was still alive. Not only does this strike me as kind of “all these people look the same” racist, but it takes away that scene’s emotional impact for the audience and for no good reason. Why not just leave it as that boy and we would all still be bummed about it? Instead Beckham just comes back later and we think “Oh, sucks for that other boy, but at least the one we knew was still alive. But James might be kind of racist, right?” I mean I couldn’t tell that it wasn’t him that was dead, but I acknowledge my racism!

The performances in this movie are fantastic all the way through. Renner was unrealistically a maverick in the field – which is something that they would not tolerate in the actual Army – but his performance was great. He kept his cool relatively well in tense situations, but really showed what he could do when reacting to finding Beckham’s dead body. And, though the movie shat on that later, his performance remains fantastic. Anthony Mackie also gave a great performance. He was the more realistic character in the group, trying to follow the proper protocols when Renner was doing his own thing. The problem I had with his character is the part where he was discussing killing Renner. I don’t know if that stuff goes down in the real Army, but I’m sure it’s not doing good things for their recruiting numbers. I like to think of my Army as the guys that are practically a family and leave no man behind, not the guys that may cause the guy to get left behind because he’s kind of a dick. Brian Geraghty is also very good, but I felt like his character was a little melodramatic at times and depressing. After Guy Pearce died in the beginning, he just kept talking about death nonstop. I understand it being a devastating thing to go through, but it’s not helping you get home to just be waiting to die yourself. He did have a lot more of the emotional performances in the movie because of it though. Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce were really good in the movie as well, but they go by so quickly, even though they’re the biggest names in the movie.

Finally watched it and very glad I did, The Hurt Locker combines great visuals, great tension, and great performances to make a pretty amazing movie. The only thing that struck me as off in the movie is the lack of any cohesive story to tie the awesome situations together. But this is still definitely a movie worth watching. I never felt like the real life drama took anything out of me, but it was super entertaining and demands your attention. You can find it on Netflix, but I’ll probably be purchasing it soon. The Hurt Locker gets “There’s enough bang in there to blow us all to Jesus” out of “”Support your troops, and whatnot.”

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