Non-Spoiler Review of Ghostbusters

Jillian
Reminds me of my help desk days…

With all due respect (none) for the internet trolls that panned this movie based on its first trailer, I actually enjoyed the new Ghostbusters.  It is not a sequel but a reboot of this franchise, and yes, they have laid the foundation in the post-trailer credits for a sequel.

The film is good – not great.  The strengths – Kate McKinnon as the mad-scientist engineer of the group, Jillian Holtzmann.  Yes, it’s the Egon role, but she brings us a new quirky character that made me laugh several times in the film.  When she licks her guns before shooting – priceless – a move I intend to lift at GenCon when I’m role playing next month.

The special effects are awesome.  My wife and I saw it in 3D and this is one of those rare films where 3D works well.  The special effects aside, the film has a solid plot.  It’s not a rehash of Ghostbuster’s films, but breathes fresh life into it.

The cameo’s make the film.  Even the fleeting homage to Harold Ramis is well-done, tasteful, and not overpowering in the film.  Everything was done respectfully, as it should be.   Even the Ghostbuster’s iconic firehouse manages to stir emotions with the viewers.  It’s like when you see the USS Enterprise in Star Trek – it is a character all on its own.

My only complaint was that Chris Hemsworth as comedy relief was okay (lukewarm at best), but not great.  Put on the wig and pick up Mjolnir Chris – you are a perfect Thor.  Trying to fill the Annie Potts/Rick Moranis roles is not your thing.  Please, go get your hammer.

Comparisons to the original 1984 film are almost impossible to avoid, but I will.  This film stands on its own.  The writing was solid – as was the acting and character development.  Now that we have cleared the hurdle of the film being its own entity, we can move forward with sequels.

I rate this a solid 4.5 out of five stars.  Funny, good pacing, a rollicking fun romp through your memoires of the original film.   A total protonic reversal on the cynical internet trolls!

#Ghostbusters

Spoiler Free Review of Captain America: Civil War

CWar
Oozing with awesomeness

Arguably the best of the Marvel universe movies is Captain America Winter Soldier. Guardians of the Galaxy or AntMan and I might concede.  So this is the scale that Civil War has to be compared against.  Well, it more than exceeds Winter Soldier.

This plot is not what you might think from the trailers – Marvel is masterful at manipulating us with the trailers.  Clearly there’s a Team Cap vs. a Team Iron Man – it’s call Civil War duh.  The reason that they are fighting is not as straightforward as you might think.  I went in thinking I would side with Captain America but I came away thinking that both sides were right.  That’s what makes a good Civil War scenario.

The plot is not overly complicated.  The writing of this movie, the core of a Marvel film, is solid and crisp.  There were some one-liners where the audience laughed out loud – especially Stan Lee’s cameo.

New characters are introduced – Black Panther and Spiderman.  You know, the new Spiderman comes together without having to get into the whole “radioactive spider bit me,” stuff.  His role is good and oddly seems true to the comic.

Black Panther is awesome.  We don’t need his origin story…I didn’t care.  He was just incredible.  Marvel is genius at knowing that we don’t need to be buried in a lot of backstory.  Just give us solid characters that develop in the film and some well-grounded writing and the fact that these are superheroes is almost unnecessary.

I have to admit, having AntMan in this film made it for me.  His role in the battle at the Leipzig Airport was, well, incredible.  In fact, the airport battle sequence set a new standard for superhero battles.  There is a lot going on yet somehow it all seems to flow together fairly smoothly.

This movie is a visual treat.  There’s a lot of special effects, but no where the level of horrific CGI we were forced to endure in Batman vs. Superman.  In fact, this movie made me hate Batman vs. Superman even more.  Marvel knows how to handle their intellectual properties (with the exception of the Hulk and Fantastic Four movies).  Even the lighting levels and colors of this film are in stark contrast to DC’s latest offerings.

There is no part of this movie I disliked.  The pacing was brisk which is good; the movie is very long.

There are two post-credit scenes – both of which are solid.

On a scale of five stars, this is six-and-a-half.  Not a movie for kids, far too much violence. Though the language was cleaner than Age of Ultron (joke intended).  Go see this movie…go twice!

#TeamCap

Review – Batman V. Superman the Dawn of Justice – Marvel has nothing to worry about

bvs
“I’m more brooding than you Clark!”

Spoilers exist in this – though I have tried to keep them limited to my rantings about this multitude of faults baked into this steaming loaf of a film.  Like many self-anointed geeks, I have been waiting for this movie most of my life. As a generation that saw comic books as a story-telling artistic medium, nothing could be more iconic than Batman and Superman together on the screen.

GeekFlow1
I ran it through my flow diagram before writing the review

The anticipation of this movie left me disappointed with the final product.

This is a movie that could have and should have been so much more than what was delivered.  Oh, it had some moments that were good, but most of it felt forced, overly contrived.  Watching this movie was like looking up the ass of a dead dog with fleas.  Like a car wreck alongside the road, you are drawn in to look at it, even if the scenes are horrific.

For this movie to work, you had to accomplish some cinematic feats.  Included with this:

  • You had to give us the two characters on the screen so we could see their contrast (The ever-brooding world’s greatest detective vs. the boy scout in blue.)  We want the characters to be true to their established backgrounds.
  • You had to demonstrate that their friendship made both men better.
  • You need to give us a villain worthy of these two heroes.
  • Based on the title, we needed a battle worthy of the two heroes.

Warner/DC…how could you have possibly missed that mark with some of these?

First off, we have Superman who’s more brooding than the Dark Knight.  Yes, he’s plucking cats from trees, but he wears a furrowed brow through most of the film.  What makes comic book Superman identifiable is that his parents instilled in him that he has a higher obligation to the people of Earth.  In this film, Martha Kent tells him, “You don’t owe this planet anything…” (I’m paraphrasing, but close enough.)  Um, Ma Kent, that’s actually a big part of who that character is.

I get it – Zack Snyder wants a darker, grittier DC universe. It makes it much more difficult to swallow for the viewers. The reason that the Marvel films do well is they are true to their comic book roots. Snyder wallows in darkness like a pig in mud.

I know it’s going to be popular to take shots at Ben Afflick as Batman but I won’t go there.  I actually thought the actor was good as Batman.  It was no Daredevil role, for which we are all thankful.  He certainly brought more to the role than George Clooney did.  I think his Bruce Wayne is actually pretty solid, especially his coy smile.  The harm to this character was the script, not the acting.  Batman, who has always stayed away from guns as part of his character, uses them a lot in this film.  We don’t get The World’s Greatest Detective.  We get a marginal data thief.  Zack Snyder felt it necessary to show us Batman’s origins, which was a waste of time.  We all know Batman’s origin story better than any of the Presidential candidates.  Cutting that stuff would have saved the film and those of us watching a few precious minutes.

Alfred (Jeremy Irons) isn’t a butler – there’s no Wayne Manor to attend to.  He’s a mechanic for Batman, a remote co-pilot, with some good one-liners aimed at his employer during the film.  It’s a new take on Alfred, which seems to work for me.

The movie taps two of DC’s best storylines for its “plot” – The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman.  Based on the material, you would have thought that the producers would have had a huge hit on their hands. Instead there’s a deliberate fumble that plays out on the screen for us.  It’s as if the writer’s skimmed the books without actually reading them, and plucked a handful of scenes to recreate as opposed to relying on good story telling.  As a result, you get a jumble of storylines stitched together with a plot that seems implausible.

We’re denied seeing the characters become true friends.  Forced allies, yes, but not really close.  Lex Luthor is both insane and a genius, well played by Jesse Eisenberg.  It’s not our traditional Lex, but a solid (if not creepy) character.  Like Alfred, it was okay to see a new twist on the character.  I just never really felt that Lex was worthy of the two character he squared off with.

The film is all build-up and little delivery.  That climatic battle between Batman and Superman is sort of boring when it’s just the two of them.  Once more Metropolis insurance rates are going to spike because Superman lives in town.  The special effects are over the top and border-line Green Lantern-ish when it comes to Doomsday.  (I know it’s wrong to pick at that GL scab, but I had to go there.)

The dream sequences should have ended up on the cutting room floor – they didn’t add squat to the film and in fact made it seem too long.  Likewise too much time is spent laying foundation work for The Justice League movie – which, based on this film, is likely to suck.  All of this bogs down a long movie.  There are scenes like one with Pa Kent that are wastes of time and downright confusing.  Even if these scenes were chopped (as they should have been) it wouldn’t be enough to get this dog to hunt.

Gal Gadot almost saves the movie as Wonder Woman.  She fought better than both of her male counterparts in the quasi-climatic battle.  Her accent made her sound exotic.  We weren’t bogged down with her origins which was also a plus.  Frankly, she battles Zod v2.0 better than her male counterparts.  Thanks to scenes we didn’t need in this movie, we know that DC/Warner will ruin WWI in its upcoming Wonder Woman film.  (Yes, DC can ruin an entire war.)

The Dawn of Justice has more plot potholes than a stretch of Michigan road, and many are so deep and obvious that you’re better off hitting them than mentally trying to swerve around them.  Example:  Wonder Woman gets off a plane with two light carryon items to rush off to the battle.  She shows up with a big honking shield and sword.  Where did those come from?  Certainly not from her luggage.   The whole manipulation of the characters into a battle has so many over-complicated failings that it is a pathetic joke at times.  Also, Gotham is apparently ten blocks away from Metropolis.  It’s like Hoboken NJ in relation to Manhattan.  What in the hell Zack Snyder…you can see the bat signal from Metropolis?  Lois Lane helicoptered over to Gotham in five minutes.  The entire US Capitol scene was just bizarre in terms of how it was painfully set up and what it actually accomplished in terms of plot.

There were scenes that made the audience cheer but even some of these were awkward.  Lex Luthor losing his hair for example.  It wasn’t even entertaining, but it stressed how the audience wanted some of that good old fashioned comic book story elements.  When you have people cheering baldness, you know the movie is limping to a conclusion.

Despite all of this there were things that I enjoyed in the movie.  The new Batmobile rocks as does the Bat Cave.  Some of the redone scenes of Zod fighting Superman from Man of Steel are quite good.  Batman going to save Martha Kent was one of the coolest fight scenes I’ve seen in a while.  I actually liked the fact that there were consequences to Superman’s trashing of Metropolis.  Batman had the best line in the movie:  “Oh shit.” (Yeah – this isn’t going to win any Academy Awards for best screenplay.)

The folks at Marvel/Disney have to be chuckling with the release of this movie.  The figured out that what makes a good comic hero movies is great characters and solid storytelling.  This is something that the Warner/DC team has tried to drive over as if it were a speed-bump to their evil marketing intentions.

The movie didn’t deliver on my laundry list of things I needed for it to.  We never see Bruce and Clark become friends.  The plot suffered to lay a foundation for a Justice League film.

I give this a low three out of five stars and I’m being generous.  If you’re a fan, you’re going to go no matter what.  Oh, there’s no after credits scene – so don’t hang around ‘cause DC doesn’t want you to compare this to a Marvel film in any way; and with good reason.  Also, do NOT take your kids to this.  I saw parents there with little kids and that was just wrong.

 

Review of Deadpool – Spoiler Free

deadpool

I went into this movie with moderate expectations given Ryan Reynold’s two previous ventures into comic-book based movies.  I was stunned at the four-quarts of awesome sauce that this movie was simmered in.  The opening credits had the audience laughing and there wasn’t a single word spoken or even any moving-action on the screen.  Deadpool proved one thing, Marvel has a magic touch, albeit a dark, evil, black-magic touch in the case of this film.  Still, it’s magic, so soak it in.

Deadpool is not a series of hilarious one-liners.  Well, okay, it is this, but it is more.  There’s a real plot here, even a Beauty and the Beast thing woven into the story.  The film didn’t need much of a plot but the writers rose the occasion and made this much more than a spoof of super hero movies.  They made art.  Watching Deadpool is like watching Blazing Saddles.  The jokes are all wrong, you shouldn’t laugh, but you can’t help yourself. The writers deserve academy awards for their work on this film.  The lines come at you like a MG42 spewing bullets, each having sometimes multiple jokes tied to them.  I will have to see this movie multiple times because I’m sure I missed jokes because I was laughing so hard.  I have not heard so much laughter in a theater in years.

This is not a movie for the weak at heart.  If you take your underage kid to Deadpool, you’re a horrible parent.  This is not your typical superhero movie, not by a long shot. There’s gratuitous sex and inane violence in this movie, it is the backdrop to an artistic work.  The parents that take their kids to Deadpool are the same ones that buy them booze on prom night to be “the cool parents.”  In other words, douchbags.

The film dovetails in with the X-men, with cameo’s in the film.  They don’t overpower the movie, they add to it.  The supporting cast is perfect.  T. J. Miller, known from Silicon Valley, is great in this film, almost the perfect verbal foil for Reynolds.  My favorite scenes involve the cab driver’s dialogue with Deadpool near the finale.  Stan Lee’s cameo is priceless as well, with his own zinger of one-liners.

Deadpool doesn’t just break the fourth wall, he climbs into the theater with you, steals some popcorn, then wanders back into the movie.  It happens so fast you will need to check to make sure he hasn’t lifted your wallet in the process.

Deadpool delivers across the board, carving out its own niche in terms of comic book films. There is so much happening in this film that I can’t wait for the Blu Ray.  I give this five out of five stars.   Just don’t take your wife or girlfriend unless they are into gratuitous violence and insane amounts of sexual innuendo – in which case you have chosen well (wink).

You will need to stay for the end of the credits too.

Movie Review – Joy

joy
There is so much symbolism in this movie, it will keep you talking for days.

I’m always into a true story when it comes to films.  I think Hollywood has gotten bogged down with retreading hits from the past and have overlooked a lot of fantastic real-work stories.  Having already seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I wanted to take in something a little different.  So when my wife and I both wanted to see Joy, all I knew was that it was based on true events.  That was the limit of what I knew of the film before I went in.

Holy crudstunk!  This movie was fantastic.  I won’t ruin the movie for you with the details of the plot, but this was the story of an unlikely hero, a female who had a simple idea and who never gave up on being herself.  At every turn, life seems to intercede against her, yet she always digs deep and prevails.

The acting of Jennifer Lawrence and Robert Di Nero take you as a viewer on a story that I had never heard of.  The filming was incredible – it was like being back in 1981 all over again. Jennifer Lawrence is a fantastic actress, sucking me in as a viewer from the first ten minutes on.

If you have a child, you need to take them to this movie.  It is about perseverance, determination, and overcoming life’s obstacles.  There were parts of the movie when you reflect on the influences of your friends and family on your own life.  You are sucked into Joy’s life, for better or worse.  Every few minutes, just when you think she’s going to prevail, life tosses her a curveball.  Joy doesn’t collapse or play the victim-card expecting others to bail her out.  She puts on her big-girl panties and charges headlong into the obstruction.

Bradley Cooper was brilliant as well, then again he pulled off playing a rocket-firing raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy so there’s no role he can’t take on.  I told my wife his character reminded me of when I met Tom Monaghan of Domino’s Pizza.  He asked me what business he was in and I said, “the pizza business.”  He shook his head.  “No.  I have built a network that can deliver any kind of food, all around the country, within 30 minutes.  It doesn’t matter what it is, I can deliver it.  Not only that, I know the full status of inventory and sales of my entire distribution network almost live.”  His words always stuck with me.  Cooper has a scene where he’s talking about his business model and I got a chill of a memory from my consulting time at Domino’s.  Very visionary, very well written.

There’s some powerful metaphors in this movie – like the soap operas that Joy’s mother watches, which are in your face yet oddly subtle in their messages.  We talked at dinner after the film and we both came away with a lot we saw in this film.

Five stars doesn’t seem enough.  This is a movie that will make you cry, make you smile, and make you want to support your kids in every aspect of their lives.  This is what going to the movies should be about. Go see Joy!

 

My Non-Spoiler Review of Star Wars The Force Awakens

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens
Sweet…it didn’t suck!

I refuse to ruin this movie for the eight people that won’t see it this weekend.  Having said that I took a small group to the film, including my daughter (who I had taken the original and prequel movies) and my grandson.  Yes, Star Wars has become generational.

I am a geek, by nature and birth.  I was interviewed by the Battle Creek Enquirer and News when I was one of the first dozen people standing in line to see The Empire Strikes Back.  I kept the clipping because back in those days, standing in line for movies was not only novel, it was a requirement.  While I am a geek, I still didn’t rush out for the late night showing of The Force Awakens on Thursday – but waited until Friday.

The short version of my review:  It’s a good solid film…worthy of the name Star Wars.

To be blunt, nothing was going to replicate the release of the original Star Wars.  The reason for that is simple, it revolutionized special effects for science fiction films.  There had not been anything like it.  The experience, at the time, was one of awe.  It’s impossible to duplicate that immersion with a new film like we had in 1977.  It was revolutionary and we all knew that The Force Awakens wasn’t going to be that.

That leaves us with characters and story.

My expectation was that the new Star Wars film had to:

  • Be better than Phantom Menace (which really wasn’t going to take that much.)
  • Give us a story that was engaging.
  • Give us a glimpse of the classic characters again, as they should be. Han had to be a  bit of scoundrel.  Luke needed to no longer be the farm boy in search of who he was.  I wanted to see these characters in the right context.
  • Not give us characters like Jar Jar Binks, aimed at marketing crap to kids (I feared the dark side of the Disney Empire’s influence.)
  • Provide this in the Star Wars universe we all knew.  I didn’t want to see a recast like Star Trek where things looked different.  Star Wars has a feel to it and I think we needed to see that in the new film.
  • Lay out new characters that we could have some identification with.

The new film did this.  My expectations were met – which alone would have warranted a three-star rating.  I found some wonderful Easter eggs in there for the geeks in the crowd, which were not only expected but appreciated.  The writing was solid – great dialogue.

My only disappointments, albeit minor, was that the plot felt too familiar. I won’t ruin it for you, but we’ve been there before.  The other thing I wish we had gotten was more of the background of the character Po.  We got to know the other characters fairly well.  I’m pleased to say none of them attended the Hayden Christensen School of Dramatic Improvisation.

There are some scenes that make you cringe as a fan.  There are some that can make your eyes water.  The special effects were fantastic but didn’t dominate the film.  More importantly, we now have a path forward for more Star Wars films.

I give it five out of five stars because, for two-plus hours, I was a kid again. I was with old and familiar friends and thrilled once more at their adventures.  Moreover, my grandson sat in awe, his mouth hanging open as we met new characters are shared in the cultural adventure together.  There were times he was scared, there were times he tugged on my sleeve to make sure I saw what was on the screen.  We enjoyed this together, as it was meant to be.  I give it five stars alone for the hint of magical glow that he had and how my daughter said she cried at the right scene.  Star Wars remains the great equalizer, turning us all into wide-eyed children in search of adventure and that thought that we too might be the heroes of our imagination.

Now, I must await the next films…

#TheForceAwakens

Review of The Martian

The Martian - Once More Hollywood Spends Millions to Rescue Matt Damon.  And He Deserves an Oscar For His Efforts.
The Martian – Once More Hollywood Spends Millions to Rescue Matt Damon. And He Deserves an Oscar For His Efforts.

Once more Hollywood has deemed it necessary to go off and rescue Matt Damon.  Once more, it is spectacular.

The Martian is a wonderful combination of Apollo 13, Castaway, The Right Stuff, with a dash of Lord of the Rings, and a dollop of Ironman.  The story is about an astronaut stranded on Mars after his crewmates think him dead – and the incredible story of what they have to go through to rescue him.

Much of the movie is Damon talking to himself (recording log entries) as he struggles to turn a habitat designed for 30 days into over a year’s worth of food and water.  Where the movie Castaway gets too caught up in the mundane at times, The Martian is quick paced.  Everything that can go wrong to his character does, and up to the end of the film, you’re not really sure he will make it.

The writing of this film is superb.  The characters are simple – yet complex.  At first you start to hate the Director of NASA (Jeff Daniels) but after a while, you learn that he is a man in a very difficult position, making difficult decisions.  This is a film where females get top billing too. The female characters save the day, many times over.  The lines the writers put in, little Easter Eggs for The Lord of the Rings and Apollo 13 are wonderful, perfect for geeks like me that spotted them.

It is a science fiction film where the special effects and technical mumbo-jumbo is kept at a minimum.  Like all good sci fi, this is about the characters.  This is a film I want to take my grandson to so he can see how and why science is so important.  It is a movie that makes us look up at the stars and tries to rekindle that feeling of adventure we all felt when the space program meant something more than supply missions.

My best metric for the movie was my wife loved it.  She didn’t fall asleep during the movie and we were chatting about it for hours afterwards.

Five out of five stars.  Don’t wait to see this at home.  The Martian is something that should be experienced on the big screen!

#TheMartian

Review of Ant-Man

A good investment of your time...
A good investment of your time…

I went into Ant-Man with relatively low expectations.  My exposure to Hank Pym’s Ant-Man was mostly through the Avengers comics as a kid.  He wasn’t a character I enjoyed a lot, though he was a good counterbalance to Tony Stark at times.  At the same time, remembering last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy release, I knew that this had some potential.  Marvel Studios has a way of taking relatively minor characters in their universe and doing extraordinary things with them.

Ant-Man delivers a solid Marvel-style punch.

The movie really fits itself snugly into the Marvel universe.  From the opening, when we see Agent Carter and an older Howard Stark, to the interactions and references to the Avengers, this movie dovetails right into the Marvel digital mythos.

The story is solid.  I was a little worried that it might be too humorous, but the balance between good storyline and the usual (high quality) humor that Marvel is known for is here. We have a story of two father’s attempting to make good to their daughters.  The technology doesn’t overpower this movie.  The special effects are great, and after a few minutes, feels like a digital rollercoaster ride as Ant-Man shrinks and enlarges in rapid, gut-wrenching scenes.  I was worried that the effects would dominate this film.  They don’t.  What works is solid writing a good acting performances.

There are two post-movie scenes which I won’t ruin for you.  Both take the Marvel universe into some new directions which are going to be awesome.  Needless to say, wait until the end of the credits.

I give Ant-Man five out of five stars.  My wife, who dislikes superhero and action movies really enjoyed it.  “I didn’t even fall asleep…it was fun.”  It’s an okay movie for kids but the language, at times, is a bit much for the younger kids (bummer).  It is well worth your time to take this film in.

#antman

Spoiler-Free Review: Avengers – Age of Ultron

Ultron

“I thought I’d use this opportunity to tell you my evil plan…”

I have waited my whole life to be this cool.  This is the age of geeks and nerds and Marvel is our pimp selling us dirty-nerdy gratification.  When I was a kid and you wore a super hero T-shirt, you were practically begging for a swirly.  Now we rule the universe bitches! For the true believers out there, the geeks that still read comic books, the release of Avengers – Age of Ultron is akin to a quasi-religious experience.

For my brethren, we have read the original comics of the Age of Ultron story arc.  In that story; Ultron takes over the earth and Wolverine and Sue Storm go back to stop Hank Pym from creating him – which leads to an alternate time-line almost as bad as Ultron’s domination of mankind.

The movie starts in-action – picking up right where last week’s Agents of Shield left off.  There are elements of the story that tie back to the first Avengers movie as well as the other Marvel offerings.  Once more the Marvel team is showing a depth in their mastery of this intellectual property.

Fast forward to the movie version.  Ultron is created by Tony Stark.  Rather than time travel resolving his evil intent, the Avengers fight Ultron in the here-and-now.  Ultron is cunning and dangerous.  The voice talents of James Spader are purely sinister.  His lines rival and often top those of Robert Downey Jr.

There are two things that make this movie fantastic: the visual experience and the writing.  The dialogue, right down to the running jokes, are well crafted.  You find yourself chuckling during this movie, even in moments of raw action on the screen.  Visually, the panoramic sweeps of the Avengers in battle are superior to the first film.  The movie is like riding a visual rollercoaster around fireworks show. You almost feel as if you are in the middle of the fight yourself.   Even Ultron’s facial expressions will impact how robots and androids are done in films from this point forward.

After the first movie you had to wonder where these characters could grow.  Josh Whedon seemed to hear that question and evolves these characters further along.  Surprisingly the character that has some unexpected depth is Hawkeye.  Also the reveals about Black Widow have served to make her character one of the more interesting ones in the Marvel cinema universe.

The producers tapped the full well of Marvel characters here too.  We see characters from the earliest of their films making some well timed cameos.  This is something that the comic-fans like me love – Whedon’s willingness to tap that incredible mix of characters and bring them out to play.  It makes the Marvel universe something that DC is going to struggle to match, let alone top.

Marvel Studios has figured out the awesome sauce for doing these kinds of movies.  You don’t have to create some new story, you tap into a vast library of great stories from the comics and change it so that it is more suitable for the big screen.  DC, you should pay attention to this.

I would love to tell you there is something I disliked about the film, but I can’t.  It’s stunning…a rip-roaring ride across the Marvel universe.  Even the Stan Lee cameo was one of his better ones.  Nick Fury is somehow cooler than before he was in Winter Soldier.  And the Vision – well, he is forged of awe-inspiring slickness and gets the last word with Ultron.  When was the last time you went to a fun movie that panders to your every geeky desire with wanton abandon?  This is the one!

I give this film seven out of five stars (that’s right – seven).  Oh, and there is no post-credits scene – just one mid-credits scene.  But I know you folks, you’ll wait around anyway.  Heck, we all do.

Review of the Movie Unbroken

Ubroken

I read the Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Unbroken, and was impressed as usual by her narrative style.  It had been a while since I had read the book so when my mom said she wanted to see it during the holidays I jumped in.  Hillenbrand’s book on Seabiscuit translated to the screen well, so there was a part of me that had high hopes.  Besides, I was stalling on seeing The Hobbit because I had seen the first two installments/films of The Hobbit and was still hurting from the deviation from the book.

First off, the film does a good job of covering the story of Olympic runner and WWII hero Louis Zamperini – adhering to the book in terms of covering his life up through the war years.  While it glosses over Mr. Zamperini’s post-war life, I was surprised at how well it stuck to the book.

Having said that, the movie was a bit boring.

The truth of the matter is the plot of this book is a struggle of man against man, where the triumph is survival.  For a book, that works well…for movies, less so.  Think about Castaway.  It was a good movie, but from a plot standpoint it was purely about survival.  The same applies with Unbroken.  This isn’t the kind of story that translates well to the big screen.  Not because it isn’t a great story – it is.  As a movie, however, it tends to drag.  There were only so many beatings that we could endure on the screen before we became almost numb to them.  Perhaps that was what the Director intended, but somehow I doubt that.  What makes an incredible book does not always belong on the big screen.

Moving past the pacing – it is a fantastic story about the horrors of war, an enemy that does not respect its POW’s, and the survival of determined men.  Given some of the foes we face on the contemporary battlefield, this is a story that resonates with us today.

I give the movie three out of five stars.  I seriously question if I would own the Blu-Ray of this when it comes out – hence the low rating.