0089 – The Curse of La Llorona Review


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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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Lollipop Chainsaw (2012)


Killing Zombies Gives Me Total Wood.

Lollipop Chainsaw (2012)My inspiration for playing today’s game can sadly be defined with one word: boobies.  This movie appeared to have them in bulk.  Technically, there was probably more than interested me in this game.  I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of James Gunn – who collaborated on this game – but I’ve definitely had interest in things he’s done before.  I’ve also had interest in the games of his collaborator, Suda51, but I’ve also never played anything he’s taken part in.  I also consider myself a fan of the main voice actor in this game, Tara Strong, and I’ve actually enjoyed many things she’s taken part in.  But that’s far too much explanation and it’s much easier to say I played Lollipop Chainsaw strictly for the boobies.  In fact, all of that was too long.  Remind me to erase it later.  Lollipop Chainsaw was written by James Gunn, produced by Goichi Suda (Suda51), developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, published by Kadokawa Games and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and includes the voice acting of Tara Strong, Michael Rosenbaum, Kimberly Brooks, Linda Cardellini, Gregg Henry, Vanessa Marshall, Bruce Locke, Sean Gunn, Little Jimmy Urine, Michael Rooker, Shawnee Smith, Dave Fennoy, Rick D. Wasserman, Fred Tatasciore, Nolan North, and Kari Wahlgren.

Juliet Starling (Tara Strong) is a cheerleader that just turned legal.  But she is no ordinary cheerleader.  Well, technically she is exactly the definition of what you’d expect out of a cheerleader.  But also she carries a chainsaw and fights zombies.  She is off to meet her boyfriend at San Romero (HAAAAA!  I see what you did there, zombie game!) High School, but she arrives too late.  Her boyfriend Nick (Michael Rosenbaum) is bitten by a zombie.  She performs a ritual to allow his severed head to remain alive and decides to keep him around in this form.  It turns out that the whiny Goth kid Swan (Sean Gunn) has summoned the zombies because people in high school were mean to him.  He summons musical themed zombies – punk rocker Zed (Little Jimmy Urine), Viking drummer Vikke (Michael Rooker), hippie guitarist Mariska (Shawnee Smith), autotuned R&B-ish guy Josey (Dave Fennoy), and some kind of rock dude Lewis (Rick D. Wasserman) – to seek his revenge.  Along with Nick, Juliet teams with her sensei Morikawa (Bruce Locke), her Mom (Vanessa Marshall), Dad (Gregg Henry), gun-toting older sister Cordelia (Linda Cardellini), and clumsy younger sister with far too much energy Rosalind (Kimberly Brooks) to send them back to Hell, or wherever.

I knew what I was getting into with this game.  I had assumed that it would be a pretty run of the mill hack and slash game with occasional funny parts and lots of Japanese quirkiness.  So, now that I’ve proven that I can read the future, I will be accepting premium rates to read people fortune cookies and tell them I’m magic.  I really can’t say that there’s too much to say about the story of the game.  The zombies show up and Juliet has to kill the shit out of them.  The dialogue is pretty hit and miss in the game too.  Quite often, I found the dialogue between Juliet and Nick to be pretty cute, especially the part where Juliet thinks Nick speaks Japanese because he knows what the word “sensei” means.  But other parts of the dialogue just seemed like they were trying too hard to be funny, or perhaps even edgy.  Not really a problem, I suppose, but noticeable more in the times when they fall short.

Not a lot to say about the look of the game either.  It wasn’t particularly good and it wasn’t particularly bad.  It was fairly colorful and goofy in how dismembering zombies was muted by rainbows and stars because of how most guys think the world looks through the eyes of most girls.  The only real issue I took with the look of the game was the sexuality.  Don’t get me wrong; I love boobies.  The problem I had with it is that it felt like it was telling me way more than I ever would want to know about what James Gunn and/or Suda51 masturbate to.  That’s information I’d do better without.

The game plays well enough.  It’s vaguely Bayonetta-esque.  And by that, I mean it’s a hack and slash game.  Spam the hell out of that X button, then throw a Y button at the end for good measure.  They add a gun thing that doesn’t really work unless you take off auto-aim and a few other things to break up the monotony, with limited success.  They also often try to break things up with quirky minigames, like a baseball one where you have to protect zombie Nick as he rounds the bases and a basketball one where you try to make baskets with decapitated zombie heads, but these never really became more than irritants for me.

The achievements aren’t necessarily what I’d call easy, but they’re not the hardest ones either.  The only thing that makes them a bother is that it means you’ll probably have to replay levels a few times.  I got to about 800 before I finally got sick of the game and decided it wasn’t worth the bother anymore.  But I imagine I could’ve gotten 1000 without too much extra work.  It’s just that the game isn’t interesting enough for me to really work at it.

Lollipop Chainsaw was a goofy, fairly standard hack and slash game.  The story was simple, but funny enough when they weren’t trying too hard, and the look was pretty cute for a game with so much dismemberment.  But I’ve never really been a big fan of hack and slash games because I can only press X so many times before I realize that I’m getting bored.  This game is satisfying enough for a rental, but can’t justify a decent price tag.  Lollipop Chainsaw gets “What the dick?” out of “These zombies suck dick at driving.”

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