Reviews

‘WW84’ Review

Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot reunite for a worthy sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman. Leaning on the 80’s nostalgia and cheese, Diana Prince finds herself confronting her biggest threat to date.

How to watch Wonder Woman 1984 online: stream WW84 from anywhere today |  TechRadar

Rewind to the 1980s as Wonder Woman’s next big screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah.

What is your deepest desire? The one thing that if you had in your life, that would make you the happiest? Would you sacrifice a part of yourself in order to obtain this? This is what’s at the centre of WW84. Love was a large theme during Wonder Woman and this time around it’s truth. Being true not only to yourself, but the other people in your life. The most powerful weapon a person can possess, isn’t something you can wish for or something you have to obtain, it’s something you already have but just never truly realized it until now.

Times sure have changed, we aren’t in the nitty gritty of war anymore, and we have moved on to the craziness of the 80’s. Diana has been living on Earth for a long time now and she feels alone and isolated. The truth is, she hasn’t fully recovered from losing Steve Trevor and now she’s afraid to get close to anyone. Not letting anyone new into her life means she can’t possibly feel the pain of losing someone again. It isn’t until she stumbles upon a mysterious artifact and a new friend Barbara Minerva (Kristin Wiig), that she embraces her one wish, to bring back her one true love. Little does she know that when you get the one thing you want most in this world, it will come with a consequence. Enter Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), a down on his luck TV sales man who sees the promise with the “Dreamstone” and wants it all to himself. In fact, he wants to embody the stone itself, and start fulfilling wishes. He’s a con-man and starts wrecking havoc across the world, because he is hungry for power, but he also desires attention.

WW84 is very different from its previous outing. The tone has shifted just as much as the time. I think some people are going to be thrown off by the amount of campiness and cheese that is thrown into the mix and the over-the-top characters but even with all of that going on, it still has its core values at heart. Hope, truth, love and kindness lead this movie forward and once again, the chemistry between Diana and Steve Trevor propel this forward.

As much as Wiig and Pascal were refreshing with their villain takes, Wiig could also be completely removed from this movie and you wouldn’t even notice. She doesn’t really serve any real purpose in the plot and that was a let down because of how important the character of Cheetah is in the Wonder Woman mythos. She’s kind of just always in the background and I found it incredibly weird that she first wishes to be “just like Diana” and when Max Lord asks her if she wants “more” she becomes a cat. It didn’t really sit well but that was how she needed to become ultimately Cheetah. The action set pieces aren’t nearly as rewarding or fun to watch as Wonder Woman, but the movie does a great job at showcasing all the things Diana can do. Gal Gadot loves this character so much, she embodies everything that makes this hero, super. The 3rd act is when this movie really gets to shine and spread its wings. By far the strongest aspect of the film and really makes up for a weak first 2/3s.

Patty Jenkins wants to embrace what makes Wonder Woman special. Just something doesn’t fit at the end of the day. It could be the watered down action, but that’s not what this movie is about. They dive into what it means to be a true hero, which is letting go of things that hold you back and learning to live with your weaknesses. Using them as strengths and learning that the truth will indeed, set you free. Certain demographics are going to love it and others will not. Theres a fine line drawn in the sand, and we will be getting another dose of Wonder Woman in March with Zack Snyder’s Justice League. So everyone should be happy.

I just wish they used Cheetah more and developed that relationship a little bit more because Wiig actually surprised me with her portrayal and I know she can do so much more. I’m certain she will return in future movies and maybe even pop up in other DC flicks. But what saves this movie is Pine and Gadot working together. It’s emotional to see Steve Trevor return and they have honest to god top-notch chemistry. Which was never in doubt and I’m glad they were able to bring his character back without making things to difficult when explaining it to the audience.

At the end of the day, WW84 is a fun movie, with some entertaining moments, but it’s the performances that carry the film. From top to bottom, everyone brings it, and Maxwell Lord is one of the more intriguing DC villains we have seen so far. It’s full of hope and laughter and will make you smile and at the end of the day, sometimes that’s all that matters. There’s no propaganda or any nonsense like that going on, no political message, it’s just a movie that wants everyone to look deep within themselves and realize they are perfect just the way they are.

WW84 = 68/100

Reviews

Running Down The MCU!

For the first time since 2008. The world will not be entertained by any new MCU content. Sadly, but in the meantime, let us run through the entire MCU run, from start to finish!

Well, here we are. 23 movies down, in the most impressive franchise runs in cinema history. So why not take a stroll down memory lane? Starting at the beginning. Just a few thoughts about each flick, followed by a review (out of 5 stars!)

Every MCU Movie Ranked From Worst To Best - FandomWire

Iron Man. Director: Jon Favreau. Box Office 585.2 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Release Date: May 2nd, 2008

The movie that started it all! Can you believe they originally wanted Tom Cruise to play the playboy billionaire? How crazy would have that been? Is the MCU as successful as it is today? I can’t really see Cruise playing Iron Man nearly as well as Downey Jr. in fact I think the execs over at Disney and Marvel probably get down on their hands and knees every day and thank god he got this role. Well, it was Favreau who convinced them that he would be perfect after he saw RDJ in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Actually directed by Shane Black, more on that later. Plain and simple, this is the most important movie of the century. It literally changed how we as an audience watch movies. It was a herculean task, the idea of the MCU, but with proper guidance and the perfect casting, everything worked out. It even started the “stinger” craze, the little snip-it at the end of the credits. Iron Man has aged beautifully and is among of one the best MCU movies in the entire run.

I’m sorry but I don’t see Tony Stark being a Burger King kind of guy. That never sat well with me.

5/5 Stars

The Incredible Hulk. Director: Louis Leterrier .Box-Office: 264.8 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Release Date: June 8th, 2008.

Kind of the black sheep of the MCU family? The long and forgotten solo Hulk film. The only solo Hulk film to date in the MCU, and don’t plan anymore in the future because of some copyright issues. I’m going to say it, this is vastly underrated and under-appreciated. There’s a lot of good in the first half of this film. Norton is ripe for the role, and Tim Roth as Blonsky/Abomination is fantastic. Just creative differences really faltered this into the ground. The Hulk still remains a staple in the MCU and it will be interesting to see where they take his character next. Feels like Ruffalo is getting checked out of his role.

How does he manage to stretch his pants? Maybe he’s been in touch with a certain individual who is a little fantastic……..

3/5

Iron Man 2. Director: Jon Favreau. Box Office: 623.9 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 73% Release Date: May 7th, 2010

When you’re following up the most important movie this century, well those are pretty big shoes to fill! Iron Man 2 suffers from what I call, lack of preparation. They had no idea what to expect from Iron Man, and when it became a worldwide phenomenon they start prep on its sequel rather quickly. I think this movie suffers from a lackluster plot and a rush script. But even in the weakest of times, the MCU remains top-notch. It’s like pizza, even when pizza is bad, it’s still pizza. They really start to world build here, with the tease of Caps shield and the great stinger of Thor’s hammer at the very end. It just felt so rushed and wasted the great Mickey Rourke and the finale of this movie is mere seconds long. If you blink it’s over. Honestly, it might have the least amount of action out of any MCU movie to date.

Justin Hammer played by the legend Sam Rockwell, is the bright spot here, and I truly hope that bird was taken care of. All Ivan wanted was a friend and his pet bird.

2/5

Thor. Director: Kenneth Branagh. Box Office: 449.3 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Release Date: May 6th, 2011

I NEED A HORSE! One of the best lines delivered in the entire MCU. A Shakespearean tale, directed so beautifully by Branagh, who really encapsulates the essence of Asgard, their power, size, and mortality, but also can show the humble and more dignified part of their existence. Chris Hemsworth much like every original member of the Avengers was so perfectly cast, right alongside his brother, the God of Mischief Loki. Both play off one another so well, Hiddleston stealing the show, without him and his portrayal of Loki, I’m not sure what happens with the MCU. Thor’s “clueless” side is the driving force in the second half and that’s really where Hemsworth shines. This movie truly is like a fine Asgardian wine, it keeps getting better with age.

Do you think they had pancakes on Asgard?

4/5

Captain America: The First Avenger. Director: Joe Johnson. Box Office: 370.6 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Release Date: July 22nd, 2011

The first outing for the unanimous MVP of the MCU! It’s pretty obvious from the get-go that Chris Evans and his Captain America was going to be special. From his boyish charisma, and world-class heart, it was another role that the actor who landed it was born to play. I would say his growth is among the best of our heroes and each time we see him on screen, he’s almost a completely different Cap. His friendship with Bucky is special and he hates bullies, most importantly Nazi bullies with a Red Skull. It’s sad we never got another showdown between these two, but we now know it’s possible. By far the most violet MCU flick, and has the most shocking a violent death in the series, when a man is inhaled by an airplane propeller. You just didn’t see much more of that in the MCU.

The biggest question throughout all of the MCU and it is an important one. Is Captain America, aka Steve Rogers, a virgin?

4/5

The Avengers. Director: Joss Whedon. Box Office: 1.519 Billion. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Release Date: May 4th, 2012

How much is that group shot worth? A billion? Two billion? The true team-up movie the world had been waiting for. Planned for 6 long years after Nick Fury stood in Tony Starks living room telling him about The Avengers Initiative. This is the MCU at its finest, one of the best comic-book movies Disney and Marvel have ever produced. It gave us the ultimate tease with their best post-credit stinger ever with the all mighty Thanos. We wouldn’t see him in action for years to come, but it reminded us that Marvel had a plan and they were going to stick with it. The 3rd act is peak comic-book movie making and The Avengers is a very important movie for popular culture lore and what it meant to go to the movies.

I’ve always wondered what Pepper whispers into Tony’s ear in the beginning…..?

5/5

Iron Man 3. Director: Shane Black. Box Office: 1.215 Billion. Rotten Tomatoes: 79% Release Date: May 3rd, 2013

Hollywood is a circle man. If it wasn’t for Shane Black, maybe RDJ doesn’t even become Iron Man. Considering he wasn’t even the highest-paid actor in the original and now he was making whatever amount he asked for and got to handpick the director for the end of the trilogy, speaks volumes for how important he was to the MCU. This movie comes down to one thing for most fans. How do you feel about the Mandarin twist? For me, it just didn’t sit well, and the movie is just all over the place tonally. Shane Black adds some of his charm and comedy into the mix but overall this just again feels so inferior to Iron Man. But hey, where your movie grosses over a billion, who cares right?

You know how I know you’re still reading this? Because we’re connected….

2.5/5

Thor: The Dark World. Director: Alan Taylor. Box Office: 644.4 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Release Date: November 8th, 2013

Someone has to finish last in a race and unfortunately for Thor: The Dark World, they are that person. I wonder what this movie would have looked like if Patty Jenkins would have stayed on and directed? It just loses everything that made it special from the first and it’s due to the change of director. This just feels like one big shoe-horn to introduce another Infinity Stone into the MCU. Which is fine but at least makes the movie somewhat entertaining. It’s one of the lone duds of the MCU and when you make 23 movies, it’s hard to hit a home run each time. Weak villain, terrible pacing, and not enough Thor being an idiot.

Chris Evans probably made like 500K for his 30 second bit.

1.5/5

Captain America: The Winter Solider. Director: Anthony & Joe Russo. Box Office 714.3 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Release Date: April 4th, 2014

Again here comes the MVP! Phase 2 of the MCU wasn’t off to the start they were hoping for. With back to back so-so films and they needed a pick me up. Enter, The Winter Soldier. This movie feels like the MCU homage to the brilliant Heat. It’s a fantastic spy thriller that sets us the best friendship of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Buck and Caps relationship is such an important cog that moves this universe. We get introduced to another pair that would steer the MCU into a new director, the Russo brothers. Responsible for some of the best content they came in hot and delivered one of the best comic-book sequels ever. The most rewatchable MCU movie in my opinion.

When I’m out on runs, I always say “on your left” when running by someone.

5/5

Guardians of The Galaxy. Director: James Gunn. Box Office: 773.3 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Release Date: August 1st, 2014

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The misfits are the MCU! You know you’re on a serious roll when you can have a successful movie that involves a talking tree and a maniac racoon. But Marvel knew what they were doing at this point and nothing would slow them down. Add in another perfect round of casting and a director that actually cared about the source material. The reason why GOTG works so damn well is the chemistry between all of these fascinating characters. They each are unique in their own way and all get a moment to shine at some point. Weaker villain but the Guardians carry this thing, along with its kick ass soundtrack. We also get to see Thanos in action a little bit, building on the suspend of his power. 

I think this is my favourite Groot so far.

4.5/5

Avengers: Age of Ultron. Director: Joss Whedon. Box Office: 1.405 Billion. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Release Date: May 1st, 2015

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The boys are back in town! The trailers for Ultron are some of the very best in the MCU cannon. I remember thinking, this movie is going to be dark and maybe someone might not make it out alive. Don’t get me wrong, Ultron is vastly under-appreciated and undervalued. It just didn’t coincide with the tone of the trailers. Ultron seemed like he was going to be a tough task to take and at least menacing. But neither of those things occurred and I think that’s where the movie lost itself. The addition of the Maximoff twins and Vision are great and this is just a ton of fun, but being the sequel within the movie realm, sequels tend to be much darker and this just isn’t that.

Please bring back Quicksilver

4.5/5

Ant-Man. Director: Peyton Reed. Box Office: 519.3 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Release Date: July 15th, 2015

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When you can make Ant-Man cool and enjoyable, you know what you’re doing. Paul Rudd shines as Scott Lang, he even gets a little ripped! The most unique movie so far and it’s actually not a bad re-watch. A better than average villain with some of more funny/ impressive fight sequences. The film sets the stage for arguably the most important aspects of the MCU, the quantum realm. We all know how important that will ultimately become. So it’s kind of like one giant shoe-horn that happened to be squished between a few Ant-Man movies

Baskin Robins anyone?

3.5/5

Captain America: Civil War. Director: Anthony & Joe Russo. Box Office: 1.153 Billion. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Release Date: May 6th, 2016

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (Movie Review) – I Can't Unsee That Movie: film  news and reviews by Jeff Huston

The movie that altered the entire landscape of the MCU. It’s like a mini-Avengers movie. Instead of a big bad guy, it’s just all our favourite heroes kicking the living snot out of one another. Of course they took away the two strongest Avengers at this point, Hulk and Thor have nowhere to be seen, probably for the best. How the Russo Brothers incorporate and introduce two MASSIVE comic-book characters, Black Panther and Spider-Man into the mix and make it seem to effortless and seamless is so impressive. This is one of the most emotional movies in the MCU, especially between Cap and Tony and the final showdown just always hits you right in the gut.

You were either Team Cap or Team Iron Man, which one was it?

5/5

 Doctor Strange. Director: Scott Derrickson. Box Office: 677.7 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Release Date: November 4th, 2016

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The Master of the Mystic Arts! Another Superhero that would have not even sniffed a movie theatre a decade ago is now getting a sequel. Kind of the low-key most powerful Avenger that doesn’t really flex his guns all that much. The man can control time and he was the soul reason they even defeated Thanos in the first place. Now that’s power. But for this movie, it’s just overall well done. Great villains, Benedict is so damn good in this role. There aren’t any real flaws, but when you’re competing against all the other MCU movies, it’s hard to be at the top, considering this followed Civil War. You just know that whatever they have cooking up in the MCU lab for his next outing will be special.

You think Wong is a Beyonce fanatic by now?

3.5/5

 Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2. Director: James Gunn. Box Office 863.6 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Release Date: May 5th, 2017

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The idiots are back and you know that means trouble. I misjudged this movie the first I saw it. Looking back at my initial review, I was kind to GOTG 2. It’s grown on me so much over these last few years, because they characters have grown on me. Maybe it’s because how great the Guardians are in Infinity War and I realized how special this group of heroes really is. This movie really is driven by its tremendous heart and all the little emotions packed throughout it. So many relationships blossoming and crumbling and finding out what the true meaning of what a family is. Chris Pratt is so good in this and follows it up with such a phenomenal performance in Infinity War. The Guardians are expanding and their newest member is well……Thor!

Some how they gotta incorporate Mary Poppins into Vol 3.

4/5

Spider-Man Homecoming. Director. Jon Watts. Box Office: 879.7 Million. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Release Date: July 7th, 2017

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The best part of the MCU Spider-Man is when he is part of a team. Civil War and Infinity War are among his best showings, because I think they are struggling with how to deal with his character in his own little universe. Everything with MCU Spidey revolves around one thing, Tony Stark. That’s just not what we have come to expect from this character and we want his own universe to build because of him, on his back, not on the back of Tony’s. That being said Homecoming is a ton of fun and by far the better of the two solo Spider-Man flicks. Michael Keaton as Vulture is really great and his twist always gets you. Tom Holland is making a great case for best live action Spider-Man.

Churro anyone?

3.5/5

Thor: Ragnarok. Director: Taika Waititi. Box Office: 854 Million. Release Date: October 10th, 2017

How Thor: Ragnarok radically changed the MCU

Talk about a 180 from the last time we saw Thor. Everything changed, even his hair. From one of the lowest of MCU lows, to a pretty big high with Thor: Ragnarok. Even Hulk decided to show back up after being absent for quite sometime. After this movie and the epic run that would follow for Thor, for me, he is by far the most compelling character in the entire MCU. He’s changing every film and Hemsworth just goes along for the ride. Everyone in this movie is having an absolute blast making it, Hela is terrific villain who brings out the best in both Loki and Thor. We even get a little cozier with Loki has we see him in a new light. Awesome soundtrack, some fun action and one of the more hilarious MCU movies, Hulk being just dumb and big and angry is the highlight for me when it comes to his character. Because it’s about to be all down hill for the big green guy.

Just when you were starting to like Loki…….

4.5/5

Black Panther. Director: Ryan Coogler. Box Office: 1.347 Billion. Release Date: February 16th, 2018

Black Panther Review

This movie just hits differently now with the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman. The MCU will be forever altered. It’s an epic tale of sacrifice, family, loyalty and what it means to truly be a King. It’s so full of heart and beauty and emotion and that stems from the films villain. Michael B Jordan gives us one of the best comic-book move villains ever, because he’s so invested in the role. Killmonger is incredible and even his motive makes you wonder if he has a point. This movie means so much to so many people and it feels wrong that we will never get to see Chadwick in this role again, I’m not sure where they go from here with the character but I know it will be a tough decision to make. Black Panther remains the heart of the MCU for now and forever.

Can I get me some of his royal sandals though?

4.5/5

Avengers: Infinity War. Director: Russo Brothers. Box Office: 2.048 Billion. Release Date: April 23rd, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War review – colossal Marvel showdown revels in  apocalyptic mayhem | Film | The Guardian

The moment we were all waiting for. It was inevitable. Much like Thanos. This movie kicks off with a bang. One of the best opening scenes in any comic-book movie, holy crap they wanted to showcase Thanos straight away. Even his four horseman are awesome. This is the best of the MCU, it’s crowning jewel. It doesn’t get any better than this right here. It may never get any better than this. The entire roster is present and everyone is fighting for their lives. We get team ups we never knew we wanted, new friendships are made, bonds are broken and we were left with the best ending. After the dust was settled on screen and in your eyes, you knew the MCU would never be the same again. Infinity War is perfect.

Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good……

5/5

Ant-Man & The Wasp. Director: Peyton Reed. Box Office: 622.7 Million. Release Date July 6th, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp' Review: A Funny and Forgettable Marvel Sequel |  IndieWire

Who knew that this little guy would go on and save the entire universe? He didn’t know the gigantic role he would ultimately play in saving humanity, but before that, he needed to be trapped in quantum realm. Crazy enough we got one Ant-Man movie, even crazier that we got a worthy sequel. It’s fun, it hits all the MCU beats, Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are really quite the pair. They work so well together and it’s their chemistry that drives this movie forward.

I think the next Ant-Man is going to be epic and another huge step for the MCU going forward.

3/5

Captain Marvel. Director: Anna Boben & Ryan Fleck. Box Office: 1.128 Billion. Release Date: March 8th, 2019.

Captain Marvel: 15 Spoiler Facts From Directors Anna Boden And Ryan Fleck |  Movies | Empire

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Honestly, how many giant portals in the sky needed to happen on Earth in order for Captain Marvel to show back up? I think that’s the most frustrating thing about this character in the MCU. She’s so powerful, and the ultimate warrior, played perfectly by Brie Larson, but she wasn’t around at all? It’s just one plot hole that is simply unforgivable in the MCU cannon. As for her origin, it’s just a ton of fun. One of the more down-to-earth film considering she’s an all powering space cop. But this story is meant to tell her humility and her heart rather than showcase her power, that comes later. Goose steals the show, the very best kitty in the MCU!

I miss Blockbuster…

3.5/5

Avengers Endgame. Director: Russo Brothers. Box Office: 2.798 Billion. Release Date: April 26th, 2019

Avengers: Endgame rerelease bringing Spider-Man sneak peek, deleted scene |  EW.com

Going to see this in theatres was a rock concert. There’s no other way to describe it. Everything that was being built since 2008. Since Tony Stark uttered the words “I am Iron Man.” It was all building to this. So many memorable moments, Cap picking up Mjolnir, Thor turning into a party dude, the Black Widow sacrifice. Moments you wont forget as a movie goer. It’s so difficult to follow up your most prized possession with Infinity War, but Endgame does an excellent job closing all the doors, while opening new ones that will drive the MCU forward for years to come. It’s a movie that reminds you how epic this entire journey has been, sort of a like a “best of” rundown of so many cool moments that have transpired over the last decade. So curious to see where the MCU goes from here!

That portal sequence is all time movie moment.

4.5/5

Spider-Man: Far From Home. Director Jon Watts. Box Office: 1.132 Billion. Release Date: July 2nd, 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home Is a Mostly Great Teenage Movie | Time

The first Post-Endgame movie. It was somber seeing Peter trying to deal with the fact that five years have passed in his life and also his mentor and best hero Tony Stark is no longer with us. It’s a battle of him discovering that he is more of a hero than he knows, and much more like his own hero than he realizes. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a quirky performance has Mysterio, and some of the altercations between the two are stunning to look at. It’s clearly building to Spider-Man versus the Sinister Six. His relationship with MJ grows as her finally tells her about his secret identity. We get an amazing stinger at the end of the credits, and Spider-Man 3 plans on being completely BONKERS!

I hope Ned becomes a future bad guy for Peter. Would be interesting to see.

3/5

What a magical journey this has been. On the movie screen and right here on this blog! The MCU is still so strong, 4 out of their last 5 movies have grossed a billion dollars or more. The future of movies is currently up in the air, but one thing that remains certain. The MCU is the Royal Family of Hollywood and expect many more amazing moments and movies to come!

Reviews

‘Tenet’ Review

In a world where Christopher Nolan has changed the landscape of movies on a few occasions, he once again transcends film with Tenet. When you’ve climbed the highest peaks of cinema, it’s difficult to remain on top. Tenet isn’t his best outing, but it’s unlike anything he’s done before.

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First and foremost. It felt so good to be back at the theatres! What a difficult 5 months that was, you truly don’t understand what you have until it’s gone. But here we are, it’s the end of the summer and there’s no better way to spend a hot summer day, then in an ice-cold room watching Christopher Nolan do his thing. Tenet was on everyone’s radar for a number of reasons. We don’t really have directors like Nolan, where, when they put out a movie every few years and it almost becomes like an event. Seeing how this year has been hard on everyone and we have lost a lot of what used to be normal, sitting back and watching a movie again felt really good. Let me be clear, I have the utmost respect for Nolan and what he has been able to accomplish in the world of cinema, but with that being said, I do believe he is the most overrated and underrated filmmaker of this century. Tenet is so unique and feels so fresh, that you kind of want to block out all of the bad that comes with this movie. That’s how I felt watching it, I loved what I was watching on the screen, but part of me was lost the entire time, and this is a very heavy plot-driven movie, where it is very easy to get lost along the way.

In a movie with such strong leading men in John David Washington (Protagonist) and Robert Pattinson (Neil), I just wanted more out of their characters. The plot gets laid on you so thick, that there was just no time to really connect and understand who these two dudes really are. Maybe that was part of the point, but they are so good in their respective roles that I wanted to learn more about them. You usually get that from Nolan movies, whether it was Batman, or Cobb from Inception, his leading man usually has a reason for doing whatever it is he’s trying to accomplish. With Tenet it felt different, and part of me wished that wasn’t the case. When the idea of your movie and the scope is so large I can justify and understand why Nolan probably shifted away from that, because it’s a complex idea. When the movie really dives into the concept of “time inversion” and it showcases exactly what Nolan wanted this movie to become, it’s simply breath-taking and pure adrenaline to watch. That’s the core of the movie, preventing World War III because someone from the future is able to create things that can “inverted” time. It’s not time travel but rather you go backward in time, and there is a difference. I’m not going to get into any specifics because the less you know about really anything, the more enjoyable this whole experience is. I will say this, however, towards the middle of the movie, there is a sequence that I truly believe is neck and neck with the Batman/Joker showdown in the streets of Gotham has his finest set-piece. It was mesmerizing to watch, and without a doubt the highlight of the movie.

It’s a slow burn for sure, like I mentioned the plot just keeps getting more convoluted, and with each passing big action set-piece comes another layer and another wrinkle into this already confusing idea. I feel like that’s why there are just so few characters in this thing. Besides the two leads, Elizabeth Debicki (Kat) plays a major role, as she is the wife to the villainous Sator (Kenneth Branagh). I felt at times he was a little over the top and was certainly chewing the fat in every scene he was in. The whole movie hinges on him and as we learn more about time inversion we realize just how dangerous one man can become. Debicki is quite solid as the female lead and has her moment to shine and I would love to see more of her. It’s stupid, but she’s a very tall woman and they didn’t shy away from that in this movie. Sometimes in Hollywood, that can be a problem for some actors but it was on full display here, and again it’s a simple thing, but it was just something I picked up on. Washington and Pattison really get their first big taste as leading men in a “blockbuster” and it suited them both like a glove. Both are going to be megastars and seeing Pattinson in this only reminded me of how insanely perfect he in for Batman.

Overall Tenet is more like Inception than Interstellar and I’d say and for me, that’s what I wanted. It takes one simple idea and injects Nolan steroids into it and ultimately we end up with an entertaining movie, that will certainly need more than one viewing. This movie won’t be for everyone, but if you are already a Nolan stan than this will be right up your alley, but I think some movie-goers might find it hard to keep up.

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Tenet = 82/100

Reviews

‘The Last Dance’ Review

Suit up, and dive into the story of one of sports most polarizing teams. As we finally get a peek under the curtain of footage that has been locked away for over 20 years. Michael Jordan has allowed the world to see and behold what truly went on during his last season with the Bulls and his quest to championship number 6.

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At the time, Michael Jordan was bigger than the game of basketball, hell he still is today. There weren’t many sports figures like him during the historic Bull’s run of the 1990s. Babe Ruth and Mohamad Ali were the only two people in sports that were attributed as being some of the best athletes the world had ever seen. So the ongoing debate about “who is the greatest player ever” has heated up this last decade no thanks to LeBron James and his historic run. One thing is certain this footage was to never see the light of day, until 2016 when LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in the unforgettable come from behind 3 games to 1 series. That’s when MJ got on his Batphone and made a phone call to release this stuff to simply remind the world that he was a bad man back in his day too.

So ESPN decided to treat the world to a 10 part documentary that showed the very highs and the lowest of lows during the Bulls memorable run. It all started in 1984 when the Bulls made the 3rd selection in the NBA Draft, and we all know what happened next. MVPS, scoring titles, turmoil, but most importantly 6 championships in 8 years. What most people don’t remember about Michael Jordan’s career is all the bumps and bruises in his first 7 years in the league. He wasn’t an instant success with the Bulls, individually of course, but in terms of winning, that took a long time. He had to overcome the Celtics and the Pistons of the ’80s, along with a broken foot in his second year in the league. MJ had a ton to overcome, his teams were overmatched, he was weak and was bullied. So what do all good winners do? They bust their ass until they overcome anything that stands in their path. Whether that was building muscle to get past the Pistons that helped elevate the Bulls to their first 3-peat. Jordan knew that in order to overcome certain aspects of his game, he would need to work harder than anyone had before him. He was at his core, a winner, and would do anything to achieve that. His teammates didn’t understand this at times, and it would cause rifts and sometimes would even lead to physical altercations. But that’s what builds character and builds a team, Jordan wanted to win more than anyone, but he also wanted his team to win. By doing whatever he could to make that happened was sometimes seen as selfish play by others, but in all reality, it was the only way he knew how to win and how to ultimately become champion.

Each episode is unique in its own way. Highlighting certain players, coaches, seasons, and adversaries. Whether it was his main man, Scottie Pippen, or the outrageous Dennis Rodman. The two biggest foes in MJ’s entire career, his owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, and his General Manager, Jerry Krause. Without question one of the most appealing aspects of this entire series, was the back and forth and his relationships with the people that were running the Chicago Bulls. I can put it lightly when I say, MJ and those two men certainly did not see eye-to-eye or even really get along for that matter. It’s hard to do when you’re dealing with someone who is bigger than basketball, and someone who thinks they know what’s best for the team more than the people running it. Listen, we can fathom what it would be like to be in their shoes, but after seeing everything transpired and how the Bulls reign eventually ended, it’s difficult to understand why things had to end the way they did. MJ butted heads with almost everyone in his path, Horace Grant in particular, who helped MJ win his first 3 titles. He was super unhappy with everything in the documentary and I don’t blame him.

The Bulls run seem to end quicker than it began. Just like that, after MJ’s final shot as a Bull, which gave them a 1 point lead over the Jazz in the 98′ Finals which would seal the deal on their 6th title. It seemed like overnight Phil Jackson, the greatest coach in the game, MJ, Scottie and Rodman were all out the door. In the blink of an eye the Bulls went from hero to zero Before this, the documentary captures so many magical moments that can be viewed as propaganda in some aspect. All this MJ love, with very little blowback. No one is ever really criticizing him throughout the doc and I feel like a lot of his teammates had a lot more to say than they were allowed to. The one big flaw, it doesn’t really go into greater detail about MJ’s flaws. They show his battle with gambling, and how he would push his teammates, but after the conclusion, players were on record saying they were unhappy how they were portrayed. Meanwhile MJ is painted as this all-around hero. They really needed to showcase just how he behaved just not on the court but off it as well. It’s a hard thing to accomplish when he’s the main attraction of your documentary.

Overall, The Last Dance is a masterpiece, it was like traveling back in time, when the NBA was a different game. Before the age of social media, where players expressed themselves in a more human way, that captures the soul of the ’90s. This was the best sports documentary since OJ: Made in America, and it will be something that is hard to top. MJ transcended sports, he still is all around us today. His shoes, the fact that he now owns the Hornets, and probably still thinks he could take the majority of players in a one on one. In the meantime, the NBA community will still battle on for who is the greatest basketball player of all time. One thing is certain, the LeBron James doc will be out of this world good now.

The Last Dance = 90/100

Reviews

Ranking The 22 Best Batman: The Animated Series Episodes

It’s been 2 years, time to put the cherry on the sundae.

22 – Harley’s Holiday. Season 3, Episode 25. Director: Kevin Altieri. Story: Paul Dini

What a power couple. Move over Mr. J. Imagine Batman and Harley Quinn an item? Harley is free and she wants to enjoy her life. The simple things in life you know? What do most girls love to do? Go shopping! So when she decides to have a nice holiday and go on a shopping spree, well you guessed it. Things go horribly wrong and she ends up on the wrong side of the law. Not hard to do when you’re expected to turn to a life of crime in no time, but this was a mere misunderstanding and now Harley is running for her life over a simple security tag. She’s taken a hostage and everyone from a crazy father, Batman and Detective Bullock is on the hunt for Harley. Any episode that features Harley is top-notch, we owe it to Paul Dini for creating her, and she simply doesn’t have enough time to shine in this show. That’s why we can’t take her solo episodes like this for granted. Besides, it’s just an all-around fun episode, and that’s what’s most important. We get to see the more human side of Harley and realize how damaged she is, and that her love for a crime only runs so deep. She’s a complex and complicated character and I wish it was explored more throughout this show. The low key awesome moment is when Harley’s hyenas are barking at Bruce Wayne and Harley is trying to figure out who he is. Just a cute little moment. Also, Robin uses fish has nunchucks, that is worth a ton of credit where I come from. Grade. B+

“I had a bad day too once” – Batman

21 – The Man Who Killed Batman. Season 2, Episode 23. Director: Bruce W. Timm. Story: Paul Dini

Not The Joker, Two-Face or The Penguin. It’s someone no one knew existed until this very show. Sidney or Sid The Squid. Imagine that, some random low-level thug is the guy who offs the bat. Well, that’s at least what he wants you to think. After a botched robbery attempt, up and newcomer Sid wants a part of Rupert Thorns gang. So they give him the “easy” job, the lookout. All is going according to plan until Batman shows up and when the fellow gang members look on as it appears he’s going toe-to-toe with old Batsy, he’s actually tripping and falling all over the place. When Batman falls over a building and into a massive explosion it appears that Sid had killed the Batman. Now the toughest guy in Gotham, Sidney quickly gains a reputation that he can not uphold. Every thug in Gotham wants a piece of him and even the Joker wants him. He can’t believe that Batman is really gone. He’s upset because he wasn’t the one who did it and that crime no longer has any meaning. We get a hilarious funeral scene that encompasses Joker and Harley crying, they soon turn their frustrations onto Sidney. So when Sidney finally ends up at the feet of his boss Rupert Thorn, he can’t help feel a little lucky. He killed Batman and made a fool out of The Joker, no easy task mind you. So of course, it’s no surprise that Thorn doesn’t believe Sidney and thinks he is some criminal mastermind, well he’s not and when Thorn is moments away from putting a bullet in him, Batman shows up to save the day! I don’t know why I love this episode so much, maybe seeing how The Joker would react to the death of Batman, makes you wonder. Without Batman, crime has no punchline, as The Joker likes to say, it’s almost disheartening to see that side of Mr. J. Grade B+

“You really know how to put the “fun” in funeral” – Harley Quinn

20 – Harley & Ivy. Season 2, Episode 28. Director: Boyd Kirkland. Story: Paul Dini

The new queens of Gotham crime are among us. Even if it’s for a short-lived period of time, Harley and Ivy make a spectacular team. After her puddin’ tosses her out of the gang for not contributing, Harley is set on showing Mr. J that she can, in fact, pull off a worthy heist. On that said heist she bumps into Ivy who is pulling a job of her own and it doesn’t take long for the pair of them to realize they make a killer team. They are the perfect mesh of brains and brawn and soon start pulling jobs and realizing that maybe they don’t need men in their lives to be successful. This episode does such a wonderful job exploring Harley’s obsession with The Joker and why she needs and relies so much on him. Ivy also asks her why he loves him so much, and Harley always has the hardest time describing her feelings and giving a straightforward answer. It’s a sickness really, where mere moments after she leaves him, she says “I miss him already.” Turns out that Harley was an important piece in Jokers life, as his hideout and life have turned upside down. Throw in a showdown with Harley, Ivy, The Joker and Batman all on a toxic waste dump, that’s my kind of fun. The dynamic between Ivy and Harley is something I wish was expanded on a little bit more, we do get to see them reunited in “Holiday Knights” but it’s for a brief stint and it doesn’t come across as the same bond or chemistry. This is a duo I really hope to see kick some ass in live-action someday. Grade B+

“Aren’t you that plant lady? Poison Oaky?” – Harley Quinn

19- Nothing To Fear. Season 1, Episode 3. Director: Boyd Kirkland. Story: Henry T. Gilroy.

Remember this classic episode? The introduction to The Scarecrow? It might look familiar because good old Christopher Nolan ripped the incredible ending from this episode and put it in Batman Begins. See even the great Nolan respects his elders, because not only was this a fantastic scene in BTAS, but also one of the most comic book-ie scenes in all of his Batman trilogy. Giving professor Crane a taste of his own medicine only to see Batman appear as large Bat-like gargoyle creature. Batman, unfamiliar with Scarecrows tactics is affected by his fear toxin and soon starts to hallucinate. Mostly about his parents and how they now view him as a failure, and how he has let them down with how he has turned out. We all know that isn’t true, but it’s his worst fears coming to life, letting down the people he loved most, doing the thing that makes it possible for a tragic night like he had to never happen again. Pretty deep stuff, and in the first season Scarecrow is featured 3 times and each episode is so good. Why they stopped having him appear is beyond me because he really sticks out as one of the more memorable baddies from the show. This episode also gives us one of the most iconic scenes in the entire shows run. Batman seeing a giant skull, flames coming out its eyes, his father’s voice telling him he’s a failure. But no, Batman overcomes his fears and shouts – ” I AM VENGEANCE, I AM THE NIGHT, I AM BATMAN!” Grade A-

” I AM VENGEANCE, I AM THE NIGHT, I AM BATMAN!” – how could I not put this as the quote?

18 – Shadow of The Bat. Season 3, Episode 1 & 2. Director. Frank Paur. Story: Brynne Stephens.

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The introduction to Batgirl! Took the show long enough to finally feature Barbara as the new trusty side-kick. They teased her skills in earlier episodes, showcasing her talents at getting into places and her all-around toughness, but it wasn’t until dear old Dad gets locked up she decides to take matters into her own hands. With mob bosses being caught and prosecuted left and right, the man responsible is the new right-hand man to Commissioner Gordon, Gil. When Batman decides to go undercover himself as Matches Malone and finds out that Two-Face is partially responsible for these events, it’s up to Robin and Batgirl to get him out of a pinch. Whenever Two-Face is involved with an episode it’s always a doozy. Batgirl is a worthy addition to the Batfamily, where we see that it takes more than just a costume to be a hero in Gotham city. You can see the instant chemistry between Dick and Barbara when they are under their respected masks. Another reason why I like this show so much, it’s a cartoon but yet they touched on mature matters and it just didn’t feel like this was for children. We only ever get to see Batgirl once more before the animation change and it’s a real shame. She never gets to share the screen with this Batman ever again and I think that’s a major flaw in the show. Grade B+

“Funny, I don’t remember a girl being invited to this little club” Robin

17 – Jokers Favor. Season 1, Episode 22. Director: Boyd Kirkland. Story: Paul Dini

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Imagine having a terrible day, one of the worst days of your life and you take all that frustration and anger out on The Joker? Well, for Charlie Collins that exactly what happens. After being cut off in traffic, he’s had enough and finally for once in his life decides to stick up for himself. Little does he know, driving that car is Mr. J himself. So instead of you know doing the usual killing thing, Joker tells Charlie that he owes him a favor and leaves. Years pass and Charlie has moved away and even changed his name, but Joker knows him all too well. The real reason why this episode is so great and honestly so memorable? The creation and the very first appearance of none other than Harley Quinn! That’s right the man who wrote this episode along with so many others Paul Dini is the creator of this iconic character. Now, creating a character in a cartoon show that goes on to get her own comic, show, and be the star of a live-action movie is one incredible feat. Throw in the fact that in the end Charlie pulls one over on Joker and that is such a rare sight to see. Seeing him scared that perhaps he had managed to create a monster more deranged than him. Charlie, of course, is just joking and this is just one of the more all-around polished episodes. There’s also a very clever make-shift bat-signal that Charlie cooks up, another reminder of how ingenious this show was. Grade B+

“Jumping Jiminy Christmas! Charlie Collins. It’s been forever. How are you man” – The Joker

16 – Mad Love. Season 4, Episode 21. Director: Butch Lukic. Story: Paul Dini & Bruce Timm

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The last episode that ever aired, and what a beauty she was. A true romance story. Joker and Harley, destined to be at each others throats and destined to be together forever. Still can’t believe how far she has come from being created in this show, to where she is now. Mad Love shows the nasty side of this relationship and how twisted Harley is. Her mind has been mutilated by Joker and she doesn’t even know it. It explores the origin of their relationship and how in moments these two can be completely different. Once a respected psychiatrist turned one of Gotham’s most notorious criminals. It’s sad to see someone take as much abuse as Harley does, but her sickness is the Joker. Her love and affection for the man are what keeps her both sane and insane. The thing is, she can’t tell the difference between the two. It’s their most personal story told within the series and feels the most authentic and rich. Something that fans have wanted to be adapted into live-action for a long time. Grade A-

15 – Beware The Gray Ghost. Season 1, Episode 18. Director: Boyd Kirkland. Story: Dennis O’Flaherty.

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The man who started it all really. Adam West, the first actor to portray Batman in live-action. An icon, one of the all-time greats. So when Batman The Animated Series decided to do an episode about The Gray Ghost, Bruce Waynes hero growing up as a kid, it was a no brainer to hire Adam West to do the voice. Perhaps the best voice works from someone outside the main cast. He nails the role perfectly, and it’s such a heartwarming episode. When someone calling themselves the Mad Bomber is blowing up half of Gotham City, Batman is having a hard time solving the case. Until he realizes that this has happened before, not in his past life, but in his favorite television program, The Gray Ghost. There he hunts down Simon Trent, the man who portrayed The Gray Ghost in the show, only to find out, he’s now a has-been actor, who can’t find any work. When he needs to find a copy of the episode, Trent is the only person left with a copy, and soon enough the pair team-up. Batman is dark, he broods and keeps to himself. He keeps his emotions in check and doesn’t let anyone get close. Tables turn in this episode, where we see the kid come alive in Batman, as he gets to work alongside his hero, a side that is rarely seen. Grade A

“Thanks, Mr. Trent. You know, as a kid I used to watch you with my father. The Gray Ghost was my hero.” – Bruce Wayne 

14 – The Laughing Fish. Season 2, Episode 6. Director: Bruce W. Timm. Story: Paul Dini

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Okay, first things first here people. Batman fights a shark. That’s right, Batman fights a shark. Obviously, that should be enough to be the best episode ever, but not in my books. The darkest episode ever produced perhaps. It’s almost like a mini horror movie, the way people are attacked by The Joker. It can most certainly be scary and quite shocking for the younger viewers. I always wanted to see this adapted in live-action, I think we’ve never really seen The Joker use his laughing gas, and other means of making people go insane with some sort of chemical and I think that would be awesome. The interaction where Batman and the man swap places always throw me for a loop, such great writing throughout this episode. The best Joker story? There’s a fun side story with Bullock as well, a conflicted character to say the least, but he’s such a good cop, but believes in his way and his way only. Another character I would love to see come to life in the upcoming Matt Reeves Batman movies. James Gordon needs that cop that he can lean on and someone for Batman to butt heads with. The commercials for Joker Fish are downright hilarious. Making Harley eat this disgusting fish after she sings the jingle. This is an episode that I feel Hitchcock would be proud of. They simply just don’t make ’em like they used to, you would never see an episode like this for a Superhero cartoon anymore. Grade A- 

“See Batsy, I think of everything!” – Joker 

13. Old Wounds. Season 4, Episode 17. Director: Curt Geda. Story: Rich Fogel

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The episode where we finally get to see Dick Grayson snap! He even punches Batman in the face. One of the many things that change when the new animation rolls out for the Animated Series, is the time jump. Where we see Dick Grayson don his new persona as Nightwing. How did we get here? How did this friendship come to such a chaotic ending? When Dick sees the new Robin Tim Drake and decides to tell him the story of what happened between him and his new mentor, it becomes clear that the old Robin and Batman always had a hard time seeing eye-to-eye when it came to crime-fighting. I can’t preach this enough, but this is another classic episode that would have best been suited in the old animation format, but that just wasn’t possible. One of the most mature episodes in the show’s history, where things finally come to literal blows between former crime-fighting partners. This ultimately leads to one of the best and more memorable scenes the show has ever produced. Grade A-

“I’m nothing like him” Nightwing 

12- Over The Edge. Season 4, Episode 11. Director: Yuichiro Yano. Story: Paul Dini

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This episode hits heavy. The big “what-if” of the Animated Series. What if someone close to Batman were to die? What if that person was none other than Barbara Gordon, also known as Batgirl and the daughter of Commissioner Gordon. When a typical night trying to deal with Scarecrow turns into a nightmare, that ends with Batgirl falling off a rooftop and dying in her father’s arms. All hell breaks loose on the Batfamily, where we see Batman and Robin running for their lives inside the Batcave and a swat team setting a trap for Nightwing. This episode is the real deal because we’ve always wondered what would happen if someone close to Batman were to die. Especially on his watch, where he feels responsible. It’s the only episode in the entire series that deals with death, where throughout the shows run, they would go out of their way to depict that death really wasn’t on the table in this show. So to open an episode up with the death of Batgirl, really makes your head turn. This is just the first half of it! How far would you go if your own child died in your arms? Gordon felt that Batman was someone he could trust, someone he relied on for so many years, and not only did he keep this secret from him, but he didn’t do the one thing he should have done, protect his daughter at all costs. So when a man breaks, when his spirit is ripped in two, he will go to unspeakable lengths to try to seek revenge. So Gordon turns to one man who could take down the Bat, Bane. Seeing how this episode deals with such mature content, it’s a shame that it’s not in the old animation style because it feels less mature than it should because the new animation makes everything seem more childlike. Another classic episode that would benefit from the old animation style in my opinion. Bane’s design was flawless, it was walking perfection and they turned him into a dominatrix. Way to much leather and spikes if you ask me. After an epic battle on a rooftop that leaves Bane dead after using his last bit of energy to catapult Gordon and Batman from the roof. Thank god this was all a dream and Barbara was another victim of some classic Scarecrow fear toxin. You know that this is the case pretty much the second the episode begins but you can’t help but go along on this incredible journey. Grade A

“You would fight to the death?” – Bane   

11 – Riddler’s Reform. Season 3, Episode 23. Director: Dan Riba. Story: Paul Dini, Alan Burnett.

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Riddler’s Reform really explores the genius of The Riddler and how like every villain of Batman, their greatest strength usually is their greatest downfall. Pretending to go straight but the whole time is actually still committing crimes. It’s a fantastic end to The Riddler’s arc, truly standing out as one of Batman’s greatest foes in the shows run. The last little bit of this episode, The Riddler not being able to understand and solve the riddle of how Batman escaped his “perfect” trap, just sums up how unique and smart this show was. One of the things I loved about this version was how they made him kind of a bigger guy like if he had to come to blows with Batman he would be okay with it. He’s just not some scrawny guy hiding behind a computer screen. He is the embodiment of what I want to see for Paul Dano in the upcoming live-action Batman movie. Without a doubt the smartest villain amongst the rogue’s gallery always trying to be one step ahead. His biggest flaw, he almost wants to be caught, he’s always leaving cookie crumbs for Batman follow. He loves the thrill of the chase, even with making millions of dollars by going straight, he loves trying to be the smartest man in Gotham. He no longer needs crime, but can’t help himself, that’s the problem, these villains can’t truly be happy unless they are dealing with Batman. He’s addicted at trying to stump Batman, at trying to one-up him. The show also explores Batman’s genius, how he always finds a way to figure out whatever The Riddler is scheming. He really is the world’s greatest detective in this show. For once in this episode, The Riddler does get the best out of Batman and flexes on him at a party, which was odd to see. But in the end, it’s The Riddler’s own creation that is what Batman uses to finally put an end to him. Grade A+

“Those were things of the past Batman, ancient history that’s gone now. I’m a new man” – The Riddler

10 – HarleQuinade. Season 3, Episode 16. Director: Kevin Altieri. Story: Paul Dini

btas-season-2-header The defining Harley Quinn episode in my opinion. It sums up her character to a tee and perfectly depicts not only her relationship with the Joker but with herself as well. Incredible writing, tons of action, and it even as a great Cruel Intentions moment in the car. I guess this would have inspired that classic moment in that movie, where Harley is making funny faces at Batman while he drives the Batmobile, just a beautiful moment. Again, this show could have provided inspiration to another movie, you may have heard of it, The Dark Knight. The Joker entering the gang meeting at the beginning of the episode, strap with a bomb, turns out it’s fake, but it reminds me so much of that memorable scene, where Heath Ledgers Joker walks in on Gotham’s most dangerous criminals and puts them all to shame. Harley and Batman do make a unique but effective team, you get the sense that deep down maybe Harley is an anti-hero, she’s just always so internally conflicted about who she is because of her relationship with the Joker. Because on the opposite side of the coin sits Joker and this episode demonstrates truly just how evil that man is. He is willing to blow up the entire city of Gotham, with no remorse. He was willing to leave everyone behind including Harley, all of their friends and even Harley’s babies, her hyenas. She might be sick and twisted but she still has a heart and it really shows, and it’s a sweet and heartwarming moment. You finally understand what makes her tick and what exactly makes her so attracted to Mr. J. He was the first person to stop telling her their problems and start listening to hers, and that was the turning point in her life. Again for a kid’s show, they can go deep with the lessons and themes of an episode and explore things best they can. Lastly, this episode has a fantastic casino sequence that is freaking hilarious. Grade – A+

“We’re blowing town, literally” – The Joker 

9 – Dreams In Darkness. Season 1, Episode 28. Director: Dick Sebast. Story: Garfield Reeves

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A complete acid trip. The only way to describe one of the best overall episodes of this show. Batman Begins, where the Nolan trilogy all started. Well, we can thank this very episode for being one of the building blocks to its foundation. The plot of this episode poisoning Gotham’s water supply with a fear toxin by the Scarecrow, well Nolan clearly liked what he saw and improved on it just a little bit. But when Batman himself is exposed he wanders down a rabbit hole at almost lands him in Arkham forever. Scarecrow really is the MVP of villains for the first season of the show. 3 for 3 on his episodes, all classic stories being told, all executed to perfection. That’s why it’s such a let down that he’s never really seen again, not until they transform him into the Grim Reaper and change his entire design. Watching Batman trickle down slowly but surely into darkness, into madness is so bizarre to watch. Slowly watching him become what he fights every night, a crazed lunatic that can’t tell reality from fiction. The strongest minded superhero that DC has to offer, can’t grab a couple of power cords, it’s crazy to see Batman so weak-minded, afraid of anything that moves. One of my all-time favorite sequences in the show’s history occurs in this very episode. Batman descends further into madness literally and figuratively, as he ventures into the caves beneath Arkham Asylum. His mind racing as giant, larger than life versions of his most formidable foes, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Two-Face and the Joker come looking for a fight. The animation is just so beautifully crafted as each villain morphs into the next. Grade A+

“The great Batman scared out of his mind. How does it feel?” – The Scarecrow 

8 – The Demon’s Quest. Season 3, Episodes 4 & 5. Director: Kevin Altieri. Story: Dennis O’Neil

the-demons-questHas Batman finally met his match? It only took 3 seasons, but the world’s greatest detective finally meets his greatest foe, Ra’s al Ghul. When his trusty side-kick and Ra’s daughter are both apprehended on the same night, the two must work together in order to track them down. Ra’s has honestly one of the better introductions of any character in the show, surprising Batman in the Batcave alongside his own trusty side-kick Ubu. Batman can’t believe what he is seeing, someone not within his inner circle knowing the truth about his secret identity. Suspicious from the beginning, Batman agrees to tag along and join them on their journey as they try to locate the people that mean the most to them. Turns out, Ra’s daughter is none other than Talia al Ghul who Batman had once previously met, and the two took a liking to one another. This episode just has so much to offer, from Batman going outside Gotham city, and seeing him do Batman things all over the world. Being the great detective that he is and always knowing that Ra’s was full of shit, but playing his cards right. It sets up this vast world, where Batman realizes that he will face threats just no within Gotham City, that he will be needed all over the globe. Perfect voice casting again, by David Warner, it really makes the character of Ra’s come to life. The epic showdown in part two, both men shirtless sword fighting above a Lazarus Pit sticks out as one of the best scenes the show has to offer. Batman knows that Ra’s is his greatest enemy, yet his love interest for his daughter stands in the way of truly defeating him. This interpretation is something I would love to see in live-action and hope we maybe get to see someday down the line. Even the opening scene of Part 1, where Robin is entering his dorm building, climbing the side of the building in the pouring rain, really sticks out to me as just some top-notch beautiful animation. Grade A+

“The Demon’s Head, I thought you were only a legend” – Batman

7 – Feat of Clay. Season 1, Episodes 20 & 21. Director: Dick Sebast & Kevin Altieri. Story: Marv Wolfman.

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Without question, the best piece of animation this show has ever produced. Some of the best animation I can ever remember seeing in a cartoon. Considering how old this show is and how well this stands the test of time, really encompasses how much effort and heart went into making this show. Clay-Face a man who can become anything he wants, imagine trying to draw all these different designs and shapes and forms, must have been hours of work. Not only that, to produce such ingenious animation but also give us a beautiful story? Now they are just spoiling us! Clay-Face is such a Shakespearean character. He’s a tragic figure, one who you can’t help but feel sorry for. A lost cause who had to turn to crime because of a freak accident. A man of a thousand faces,  one of the few foes that Batman feels sorry for. He always tries to help his enemies, make them see the proper way, to believe that they can be saved, but Clay-Face hits a soft spot for our hero. There’s something poetic about him, the way he speaks, remember before his transformation, he was Matt Hagan, the once-great actor. He knows a thing or two about the dramatic side of things. That’s why he’s so appealing and such a worthy foe for Batman. The episodes are a ton of fun, introducing Roland Dagget, giving us numerous Batman vs. Clay-Face showdowns. One thing I love about this episode, Clay-Face might be grotesque and gross, but it’s Roland Dagget who is the true monster. Grade A+

“Hmm, Crimson Fever. Lousy way to go. No cure, you know.” Batman 

6 – I Am The Night. Season 2, Episode 21. Director: Boyd Kirkland. Story: Michael Reaves.

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This episode hits hard. Batman learns how important the people in his life are, and how valuable a single life can be. Batman is a lone wolf, he keeps his inner circle close, so when one of those people who are closest to him James Gordon is shot on the job, Batman can’t help but feel responsible. He respects and admires everything he stands for, he’s one of the few good cops left in Gotham, and he is the same age his own father would have been if his life wasn’t tragically taken. Batman asks himself one of the most important questions he will ever ask. “How much good has he really done in Gotham?” Because no matter how many times he stops the Joker, or Two-Face or Poison Ivy, he can’t help but see them back on the street. There is so much bad within Gotham, and he is just one man. Does being Batman creates a vortex for those closest to him down a darker path. Batman is just one man, he can’t be everywhere at once, and when he sees Gordon lying on the ground, it shatters his entire existence. Never give up, that’s something that Batman teaches Robin, and a phrase uttered back to him by Jim Gordon. Gordon looks up to Batman so much, what he stands for. The mutual respect between the two is palpable. The most mature episode ever made and gets better with each new viewing. This is summed up in a heartfelt and tear-jerking moment between the two men, in one of the best-written scenes in the show’s history.  The cherry on top of the sundae is the kid at the end of the episode telling Batman that he saved his life. Reminding Batman once again that he is doing good in this crazy world, and that he is, in fact, doing good in Gotham. Grade A+ 

5 – Second Chance. Season 3, Episode 24. Director: Boyd Kirkland. Story: Paul Dini. 

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Two-Face flipping his coin and having it land on edge sums up his character arc to perfection. He can’t decide what to do, his whole life is through chance and only does what the coin says, so it works out beautifully. Not only is this the crown jewel between Batman and Two-Face, everything that the show has built comes down to this. Two-Face has decided that he wants a clean slate. He’s going under the knife for surgery to fix his split personality disorder. The first step in his rehabilitation, first he fixes his body, then his mind. Unlike all other villains, Two-Face has a close personal connection with Batman. Before his accident, Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne used to be the best of pals. So Batman has to come to grips with the fact, the person he once knew is no longer inside the mind of his friend. It’s an emotional dynamic between them, that is encapsulated so well in this episode. There is another relationship at play here. Batman and Robin, where Batman is trying too hard to help Dent, that he is blinded by how he treats Robin. One of the best interactions between them happens when Robin fails to stop a car and Batman says “he tried his best.” Robin says “yeah, I’m just the kid in tights.” One of the last few potential straws that break the relationship between these two. This is just a vital scene for what’s to come. It shows that no matter what happens Batman will always be there for Harvey and Robin will always be there for Batman. Even Penguin has a nice cameo, that shows that one rogue will never ever hurt another, it’s just not practiced in Gotham crime. Grade A+

“Good old Bruce, he’s never given up on me. He’s always been my best friend” Two-Face

4 – Robin’s Reckoning. Season 2, Episode 2 & 3. Director: Dick Sebast. Story: Randy Rogel

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By far my favorite “two-part” episode in the whole series. Robin was taken so seriously in this show, I loved how they made him a young adult who had problems. He wasn’t just some goofy kid like later on in the series. He had issues with how Batman conducted himself some times and would often struggle to navigate his decision making. When Tony Zucco, the man responsible for the deaths of Dick’s parents returns to Gotham, it’s a race against time in to see who tracks him down first, Batman or Robin. Another episode that dives deep into the mythos of Robin and it’s basically his origin story, not to mention it encompasses everything we know about their relationship. Just having Robin being older makes for better story-telling, it can be used to tell more mature stories and really hit home some meaningful messages. Robin has been waiting his entire life to get the revenge he thinks he deserves. So when Zucco arrives back in Gotham he can’t help but feel betrayed by Batman when he lies about it and asks him to sit this one out. When everything unfolds and Robin realizes that Batman in-fact does not have a stone-cold heart, but rather he was protecting him, is an emotional moment. Robin never realized that Zucco took so much from him that Bruce couldn’t fathom what it would be like if Zucco someone managed to take him as well. This whole time Robin thinks Batman is treating him like a little kid still, while he is protecting him from doing something he will ultimately regret, and something that might cause him to go down a dark and dangerous path. Robin gains even more respect for his crime-fighting partner and finally realizes that it’s not about revenge but doing what’s best. This is the Robin story I would like to see adapted in live-action. Grade A++

“He shuts me out, man, treats me like a kid!” – Robin

3 – Almost Got Im.’ Season 2, Episode 18. Director: Eric Radomski. Story: Paul Dini.

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There aren’t many more iconic shots in the show then the one right here. Five of Gotham’s most notorious baddies all sitting around playing cards. Just this interaction alone has to be enough to slot this episode into the top 3. For a short instance, these rogues seem normal, it’s poker night in Gotham, and besides trying to rip one another off, they have all decided to tell war stories about Batman. Like any card game, stories are shared and tempers are flared and each one of these people believe that they have come to closest to nabbing the Batman. Another episode that would surely pop as live-action, because seeing all these characters share the same screen together is simply a treat each time I watch it. Personally, I love how for once the bad guys aren’t doing bad guy things, just gathered around having a stick measuring competition. It makes them feel more human if you ask me. That’s the beautiful thing about this particular cartoon, the realism. Why wouldn’t Gotham’s most sought after criminals get together every once in a while? Here’s the thing, the greatest minds that Gotham has to offer, all sitting around, and not a single one of them realizes that this whole thing is a trap. Batman, much like his counter-parts is always pretty good at setting traps himself. Even the Joker, someone who thinks he knows Batman better than anyone is sitting across the table from him and doesn’t even realize it. Between that, and introducing the origin of the giant penny and how Two-Face used it to almost kill Batman, and how it now sits in the Batcave is one of my favorite Easter Eggs from the show. Finally, this episode delivers the most comedic sequence in the show’s history. Joker and Harley pump laughing gas into a room full of people and Batman is hooked up to a device that generates electricity when there’s laughter. So Harley starts reading the phone book and once they begin to laugh, the device starts to shock Batman, so Joker does the only logical thing, takes a hot dog and starts to roast it over his body. Jeeze, this show was perfect. Grade A++

“I threw a rock at him!” Killer Croc

2 – Heart of Ice. Season 1, Episode 14. Director: Bruce W Timm. Story: Paul Dini

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The episode that literally changed the game. The way we see a villain and the way cartoons could be actually taken seriously. Heart of Ice remains the most famous episode ever produced and some believe it’s one of the best pieces of Batman literature ever created. The way this show was able to transform villains who were often seen as joke and turned them into some of the best versions of bad guys this world has ever seen, is beyond me. Take Mr. Freeze, before this episode the world didn’t think twice really about him, but there approach to him. To make him cold as ice, as cheesy as that sounds, was such a unique spin that it changed how we viewed him forever. Lost of all emotion, he is unable to quantify not only his own but those around him. After the tragic accident, like most of Gotham’s villains, he had to turn to a life of crime. Another classic example of a person who was created by someone who Gotham believes is a well-respected member of their society. I love how throughout countless episodes, the true villain was always the person being rewarded or someone the city thought was a hero. As episodes go, they just don’t get much better than this, the only short-coming of Mr. Freeze was the lack of appearances from him. He’s in two episodes before they decided to totally destroy his character and that my friends is the biggest tragedy of the entire show. Grade A++

“That’s Mr. Freeze to you” Mr. Freeze 

1 – Two-Face. Season 1, Episodes 10 & 11. Director: Kevin Altieri. Story: Alan Burnett

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From the very get-go, you know this episode is special. How they deal with Harvey’s personality disorder, that really hadn’t been seen before when tackling his alter ego. Much like Mr. Freeze, this show decided to take a realistic approach to these characters and in my humble opinion, besides Batman, Two-Face is the crowning achievement of this series. The flipping of his iconic coin, the way he is slowly slipping further into the darkness, and his character design. The voice work, the design, his origin, it’s all so damn flawless. The way they explore the relationship between Bruce and Harvey, how their past friendship is clouding Batman’s judgment on how to handle the situation. It all leads to the greatest two episodes the show has ever produced. It breaks Batman that for the first time in his life he failed at protecting someone, not only as Batman but Bruce Wayne as well. The scream that Harvey lets out the moment he sees his reflection for the first time is the most haunting moment of the show, then Grace seeing him, her disgust and fear is what finally drives him away. It’s one of the best endings to any episode. When the show picks up for part two, it opens with a robbery, and the address is 222, clever. How the only muscle Two-Face uses are a set of identical twins, the show was just so ahead of its time, it just fit so well together. He is now Two-Face but can snap out of it whenever Grace’s name is mentioned, it’s always an inner battle going on inside his mind. Even the sound effects of the coin flipping through the air is perfect. All the little tidbits, when Thorne throws the newspaper in the fire, it burns the bad side of Harvey’s face first, when he cries at the end, it’s Graces face and his good side, making it seem like maybe he isn’t lost completely. Even Batman Forever stealing the coin-tossing trick, that Batman uses in order to stop Two-Face in the end. How without it, he doesn’t have control. His entire life is now based on chance, and the man and the friend that both Batman and Bruce Wayne knew, is gone. Grade A++

“This is my world now. A dichotomy of order and chaos, just like me” – Two-Face

The show was beyond anything we had ever seen before, and with every rewatch, which is two times a year, reminds me how lucky we are to have it in our lives.

Reviews

‘The Way Back’ Review

Ben Affleck shines in this powerful drama that almost hits too close to home. It feels like his most personal performance to date and the first time in a long time that he’s done something he’s truly passionate about. The Way Back is an emotional journey that to this day is Afflecks greatest performance.

the-way-back-2020-ben-affleck-warner-bros.-picturesJack Cunningham was a HS basketball phenom who walked away from the game, forfeiting his future. Years later, when he reluctantly accepts a coaching job at his alma mater, he may get one last shot at redemption.

 


“It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life, cause that’s going to happen. All that matters is you gotta get back up.” Truer words have never been spoken by one person explaining themselves. Ben Affleck has had one hell of a career in Hollywood since he came into our lives in the ’90s. His storied journey is one for the record books, with all sorts of incredible highs, winning Best Picture for Argo and winning Best Screenplay

This brings us to now, and his newest project, The Way Back. Which follows an ex-basketball star turned alcoholic, turned basketball coach. It’s a touching manner for Ben, seeing how he himself has battled addiction of all sorts and has been in the public eye for alcohol abuse. It has changed his life forever and shaped part of his saga in Hollywood. This movie is a comeback story, a story that we have seen time and time again play out with Affleck, and that is why this just feels like the most important thing he has ever been apart of.

Sports movies can usually be described with one word, “cliche.” So whenever a new teen sports movie comes around its tough not to go in thinking you know the exact recipe that’s about to be cooked up. The Way Back delivers some of the normal tropes, the montage, the coming together as a team, the best player realizing that he is, in fact, the best player on the team. What separates this from every other sports movie that I can remember watching, is how this detours in the 3rd act. Everything in life doesn’t always have a happy ending, and sometimes these are the stories that need to be told. The Way Back unlike most sports movies doesn’t have the classic “Hollywood” ending, which is almost the best part of the film. This is a movie that deals with real-life problems, real-life issues, that when they come to the surface, they will have serious consequences. So when alcoholism and trying to mentor young boys, these can become messy. Gavin O’Connor who is no stranger to sports movies, he’s responsible for Miracle and Warrior, isn’t afraid to hit home on serious issues that pack an emotional punch.

Ben Affleck had pretty big shoulders when he was suiting up and fighting crime as Batman. Here, however, it feels like he has the weight of the entire world on his broad bulky shoulders. He was big and buff as Batman, but in The Way Back he’s big and messy and covered in beer sweats. Affleck will break you down, he chips away at you slowly, until he himself breaks. His performance is best described by his character Jack Cunningham, a once-renowned high-school superstar turned boozehound. He always tells his team to chip away little by little whenever they find themselves in a hole. You find yourself wondering how he turned into the man we see before us, and what drove him to the point of drinking a case of beer every day. The more you chip away at his past the more you realize what can break a man. Affleck himself has battled many demons and at certain moments in the film, it’s almost like he’s not even acting anymore. It’s so raw and emotional you can’t help but get choked up yourself. Affleck dishes out a triple-double performance and this is without question the best of his career. 

As for the basketball aspect of the film. I’d say it’s the most realistic stuff we’ve ever seen. With how it’s shot, the language spoken and how modern it all feels. The kids are fantastic and have terrific chemistry. The team has all the classic characters, the loudmouth, the hype man, the outcast and so on. I wish they spent a little more time with the team and building up their stories. Then again this isn’t really a basketball movie at its core. It’s a character study showing how someone broken can little by little get back to being themselves and the insane hardships that come along the way.

It’s hard not to root for Affleck and you want him to find his way back. Seeing him do the press tour and all sorts of interviews and seeing how happy and healthy he looks just brings a smile to my face. Even better is the fact that this movie is not just good but great and critics even think so too.

Bring your tissues folks.

The Way Back = 84/100

Reviews

‘Birds of Prey’ Review

The first trip to the movies in 2020 was not ideal. Turns out the Birds of Prey doesn’t have much wind beneath their wings, as DC continues to find their footing.

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After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.


People will do drastic things to fit in with the popular crowd. Change their hair, wear different clothes, even adapt to a new speech. The same can be said for the movie industry. Dating all the way back to the beginning of the DCEU, and even at that time, WB didn’t really know what they were doing. It wasn’t until they decided to go ahead with BvS and I truly believe that was never their original plan before the release of Man of Steel. Since then it’s been a rollercoaster, to say the least. Sure, they’ve made plenty of money, but the reception from not only critics but fans has been divided. There were a few standouts, mostly surrounding the casting of key characters in this rich and diverse universe. One, in particular, was none other than Harley Quinn herself, with the casting of Margot Robbie. So after Suicide Squad came and went it was only a matter of time before she got her own solo flick, and I’m going to be perfectly honest, WB once again dropped the ball.

Birds of Prey. Say that to any random moviegoer, and they will shake their head with curiosity and slight confusion. Unless you are a major DC fan or know the deep lure of the comics, it’s hard to put people in seats, when the average ticket buyer doesn’t know who the Birds of Prey really are. Sure they were marketing the shit out of Harley Quinn, but the movie was about so much more, and I thought they did a poor job at executing a well-put-together game plan on how to market this film. Harley Quinn has big as she is, well, she’s not Batman, or Superman or even Wonder Woman, DC’s biggest star at the moment. So if you’re going to center a film around a team of female super-heroes, why not let us all know who exactly we will be rooting for when we go purchase our tickets.

I’ll admit, BOP can be a ton of fun in moments, and the chemistry between all of the ladies is terrific. Quinn (Margot Robbie) Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) Black Canary (Jurnee Smollet-Bell) Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). When they are all finally teaming up and kicking some butt, it’s entertaining, but it’s certainly not enough to save the entire film. One of the big issues I had with this film, is the lack of backstory we get for any of our characters. Mostly Black Mask (Ewen McGregor) and Black Canary. This movie just expects you to know who these people are and give us very little insight into how they arrived at their place in Gotham. For instance, Black Mask is a pretty great Batman villain, and McGregor is a terrific actor, but they give us no explanation to his name, or why he likes to wear masks, and most importantly, why he dawns his iconic “black mask.” That is a little scene they needed to shuffle into the film. Much like Black Canary, who does, in fact, have a superpower, and when she finally uses it, they don’t explain how or why she is able to do that. fans that know the character, sure, but for the people meeting her for the first time, might be a little confused. It’s just things like that, for me, that bogged down the film.

The film takes a while to get going. Slowly introducing our new female heroes. Huntress really steals the show, and she’s barely even in the thing, which shocked me, to be honest. It just feels all over the place, where random circumstances are leading all these ladies to finally meet up. This wanted to be Deadpool so badly, they decided to go with an R-Rating, which was a massive mistake in my mind. This is a film that wants to be hardcore but doesn’t need to be. That wants to drop ‘F-Bombs’ throughout and they didn’t have to. Harley is breaking the 4th wall, and that’s fine, but the cursing was so forced and just felt awkward at times. It could have benefited more with a lesser rating and kept the action pretty much the same. There is one sequence inside of Gotham Police Headquarters that was the highlight of the film, featuring a really cool fight in one of the cell blocks with Harley.

This just wasn’t the proper next movie for this important character and not having Joker involved was weird. I know Jared Leto might be done, but you got to slip him in for one scene. Because if he doesn’t exist anymore in the DCEU, then I’m not sure why this movie needed to be made? The whole concept and idea behind the film are based on the fact that she and Mr. J just broke up.

I’ll leave it with this. It’s fantastic that a movie like this gets to be made in 2020. An all-female lead comic book movie. Directed by a woman (Cathy Yan) who crafted a pretty unique experience and written by a woman (Christina Hodson). That doesn’t mean it gets a free pass and shouldn’t be criticized. I just didn’t really like the direction that they took Harley in. This for me isn’t the Harley I want to see in live-action. There’s no reason for her to be foul-mouthed the way she’s portrayed here. Again, I think WB thought the R-Rating would benefit this character, wherein all reality, I think it just dumbed her down. For me, go back and watch Batman The Animated Series, where it all began with this character. That’s the true Harley Quinn and the one we deserve on the big screen. Can we get her in the traditional Jester outfit already?

Birds of Prey = 60/100

 

Reviews

My Most Anticipated Movies of 2020

As we enter into a new decade of cinema, the landscape of it is vastly different from when we entered into it. 2019 was a great reminder of how speical movies can be and lets just hope 2020 follows suit.


Seeing how last year I did so many movies, and some of them weren’t even released, I’m scaling it back this year and not even going in any real order. 2020 is going to be an odd year, with no real giant “event” movies happening, like Endgame or Star Wars, but yet we have a Christopher Nolan film, Edgar Wright and Denis Villeneuve to keep us afloat. Here are the movies, that I know of coming out in 2020 that I’m most looking forward to seeing!

Underwater: Director; William Eubank. Release Date; 1/10/20 

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One, this lowkey could be a new Cloverfield movie. It’s about monsters and it’s been under hush-hush the moment the first trailer arrived. Alien but underwater instead of space? Sign me up! Kristen Stewart replacing Sigourney Weaver as the new female action star badass? Sign me up again! This has all the signs to be a major let down, January release dates are never really a great sign for a movie, and the fact that it’s not really being talked about is another troubling sign. But if we get a cool new monster movie that explores new territory and feels original even in a tiny way, this could be a hit. It just feels like one of those movies you have to see in because you know at some point a curveball will be thrown our way and you’ll want to be apart of that discussion.

Birds of Prey: Director; Cathy Yan. Release Date; 2/7/20

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Margot Robbie legit put the world on notice when she arrived in The Wolf of Wall Street. Not long after that, she turned every nerd’s head when she suited up as everyone’s favorite sideshow clown sidekick with Harley Quinn. Now she’s ditching Mr. J and even Jared Leto himself and getting her own solo flick with Birds of Prey. No Batman, no Joker, no one to bring her down. But she’s not alone, she’s bringing some serious girl power with her, and DC is about to unload a ton of terrific female characters onto the world. Also starring Ewen McGregor as Black Mask, which has a chance to be really special, considering one, how talented he is and how unique and awesome the villain he is portraying is. With a rating of R, this movie is certainly going to pack a punch and will no doubt be a box-office success. DC is about to have a wonderful start to the 2020 campaign. Look out for Mary-Elizabeth Winstead, who will be the standout of the movie, calling it now.

Sonic The Hedgehog: Director; Jeff Fowler. Release Date; 2/14/20

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I know what you’re thinking. Nate, this is a video game adaptation, there’s almost a zero percent chance this is going to be good. Considering how things started off with this movie. They release the trailer, the entire world freaks out about the design of Sonic, so the studio goes back and changes the entire thing. Sometimes internet cry babies can be useful. If you are going to make a Sonic movie, rule number one, make him look like Sonic, please. So now we are back in business and this movie just looks like a lot of fun. There’s no better pairing than Jim Carrey and him portraying Dr. Robotnik and even Ben Schwartz voicing the little blue speedster seems like a home run. I grew up playing these games for countless hours, just for the love of everything that is holy, please make this guy go super-sonic in the movie, that’s all I ask. Actually, have him fight a giant robot, but that’s it I promise.

The Way Back: Director; Gavin O’Connor. Release Date; 3/6/20

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I already know, this movie is going to break me. Basketball, booze, and Ben, now that’s a triple B I can get behind and support. An alcoholic whos finds new life when he starts coaching the basketball team at his old high school. The catch, he used to be a star there. His life has become mirky ever since, with his battle with booze and personal issues. Gavin O’Connor loves to tell emotional redemption stories and I’m sure this won’t be any different. It also touches home for Affleck who has battled these problems in his own journey in life. Affleck is going to have a monster 2020.

A Quiet Place 2: Director; John Krasinski. Release Date; 3/20/20

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Gotta get this out of the way now. I have ZERO ideas on how you keep a baby quiet in a world where, if you make a sound, you die. They better not skip over this giant detail in the movie, because other than that, I’m pretty excited for this world to be explored more and it to be opened up into a vast universe. When A Quiet Place dropped two years ago, it really blew audiences away. Original, great cast, well-made, and now a sequel only 2 years later. Sometimes rushing into something is a bad idea, but hopefully, this can stand out like its predecessor and knock us off our asses yet again. This time Cillian Murphy joins the fight and we get to learn more about what caused this disaster and more about our alien friends.

Mulan: Director; Niki Caro. Release Date; 3/27/20

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Mulan is one of the most important Disney properties ever created is now getting the live-action treatment. Here’s the thing, we have gotten a ton of these in recent years, but this one feels different, it looks different. They took this property and the altered it, they cut out some of the unrealistic parts, sorry to the Mushu fans, and there’s no singing. Disney is kind of going serious with Mulan and it seems to have paid off, because all of the trailers look great, and it seems to be pretty epic. This should be Disney’s biggest moneymaker of the year, and it could be the movie that makes the most money in 2020. Legit can’t wait for this.

No Time To Time: Director; Cary Fukunaga. Release Date; 4/8/20

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It’s time for the swan song for this beloved James Bond. Daniel Craig is suiting up one last time and it looks like a doozy. He’s been apart of some of the most memorable bond movies and moments and let us hope this is the proper send-off he deserves. This cast is stacked, and most notably entering the franchise is Lashana Lynch who is playing a ’00 agent herself and could be legitimately taking over the bond mantle once Craig hangs it up. Ana de Armas is a new bond girl and she looks fabulous doing so and fresh off his Oscar, Rami Malek is playing the film’s villain. Oh, and toss is Christoph Waltz and Jeffrey Wright just for fun. With Fukunaga behind the camera, a man known for his horror roots, and creepy imagery, you know this will be a different and eerie bond film. Something that is always welcomed, because seeing the same bond movies over and over again can become a bore. I know myself, that I will miss Craig, he has made for one hell of a 007.

Fast & Furious 9: Director; Justin Lin. Release Date 5/22/20

You think the team is heading to space? The team is clearly heading to space right? The only logical thing to do is push this franchise so far into the wacky. After Hobbs and Shaw this past summer, where it is now clear that these people are straight-up superheroes, why not strap them into a rocket ship. One of the biggest franchises this world has to offer right now, you never know who’s going to pop up and who’s going steal the show. From where this all started, to where it is now, honestly, no other franchise has grown quite like Fast & Furious. Love it or not, you have to give it some credit. This was about street racing, and now they might be racing on the moon, that’s remarkable. John Cena is coming into the mix, I put a photo of him above, you just can’t see it.

Wonder Woman 1984: Director; Patty Jenkins. Release Date 6/5/2020

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This is a female-led year for DC Comics. Wonder Woman is getting the sequel she rightfully deserves and it promises to be a banger. Ever since Gal Gadot showed up in BvS the world has fallen in love with her portrayal of Princess Diana. The Amazonian God who just wants to fit in. This is shaping up to be bigger, brighter and way more badass. Now, there are a few things that are going to certainly make or break this film. How they decide to bring back Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and it all has to make sense as to why he is alive and well in this sequel. Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord looks fantastic and he’s going to be playing a much larger role than the trailer suggests. The biggie though is Kristin Wig and her role as Cheetah. The arch-nemesis to Wonder Woman, it’s a massive feat on its own and we haven’t even gotten a photo of her yet. If this works out, I truly believe this could be DC’s best movie because she’s such a unique and interesting villain. She’s getting all sorts of new suits and everything just seems more cheery and colorful from the previous installment. It’s a homerun already regardless, let’s see if it can reach grand slam territory.

Top Gun: Maverick: Director; Joseph Kosinski. Release Date; 6/26/20

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Biggest chill moment of cinema in 2020? When ‘Danger Zone’ starts playing in the new Top Gun movie. Perhaps one of the most unnecessary sequels to ever happen? With that being said, it doesn’t mean this movie can’t seriously rock and deliver another classic. Tom Cruise is back and this time the student has become the teacher. Teaching at Top Gun Academy, he will come across “Rooster” the son of his trusty sidekick Goose. I’m sure that is going to open up a serious can of worms. This cast is one dude short of the handsome Olympics with a ton of talent. Looking forward to seeing Jon Hamm and Tom Cruise on screen together. Don’t forget the iconic reunion of Maverick and Iceman!

Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Director; Jason Reitman. Release Date; 7/10/20

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“A gunner seat?” Sweeter words have never been spoken in the Ghostbusters universe. Since I’m not doing this list in any particular order, I’m not really ranking these movies in any sort of way. But If I had to only see 1 movie in the year 2020, Ghostbusters: Afterlife could be it. Building upon already rich soil, this trailer really blew me away. If you’re going back into the well, but the original guy isn’t available, there’s nobody more suited for the job than his own son. Jason Reitman hops into the director’s chair. This movie might not feel like the original, there’s no way it ever could, but it seems to be building on something that a lot of people hold dear to their hearts. It helps that they are bringing back all the big guns. Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Ernie Hudson. That moment when everyone is back on screen will be emotional, to say the least. The leader of the bunch Harold Ramis will be smiling from above. We have no idea how they will be back, perhaps Bill will get his wish and he’s coming back as a ghost. But I hope they are strapping on the proton packs and taking down some ghosts. Paul Rudd is also welcome to bust some ghosts. We are finally getting the third installment we have been craving for decades, and let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint. If some how Stay Puft shows up, I will actually be going into shock in theatres, I’m hoping to go into shock!

TENET: Director; Christopher Nolan. Release Date; 7/17/20

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July might be my favorite movie month of 2020. Ghostbusters and TENET back to back weeks. My two most anticipated films of the entire year and I get to see them both within a week of one another. Life is good folks, life is good! Are we officially calling Nolan the Clock King? The man loves time more than the Batman villain himself. It’s his trope, and time will tell if it has become a crutch. TENET is no different, with things happening within the trailer that kind of blow you away, and you’re not even sure as to why. Time is moving in one direction while the characters within the film are moving in another. Fascinating stuff, but what do you expect from one of the best working directors today. Nolan loves to push boundaries, test the audience and really try to show us something that has even been seen before. I haven’t even gotten to the best part, the two leads. John David Washington, coming off his monstrous performance in Blackkklansman and Robert Pattison, you know the guy who is putting on the cape and cowl in 2021. These two are destined to be an epic pairing, and for some reason, I think Pattison is going to end up being the villain in the movie. It would really be something to see him go from baddie to the ultimate good guy the following year. Shrouded in mystery, I truly hope whatever is going on isn’t revealed until the movie itself.

Last Night In Soho. Director; Edgar Wright. Release Date; 9/25/20

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We are getting late into the year here people! September release dates, you know what that usually means? No trailers, hardly any set photos, essentially nothing. All I know is that Edgar Wright is dropping a movie in 2020, that’s always something special. Coming off the incredible Baby Driver, a unique and original film. This time around, he’s directing a psychological horror film, that has some great young talent. There is ZERO information floating out there about this thing, but it doesn’t matter. When Edgar Wright makes a movie, that means I’m there opening night. He’s one of the few directors not to have a letdown film and keeps reinventing himself. With his visual flair and his unique sense of style, the fact he’s deciding to shift his focus onto horror has my ears perked.

Venom 2. Director; Andy Serkis. Release Date 10/2/20

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Ain’t no party, like a Spider-Man party. Remember when the world thought Venom was going to be a total misfire, an utter box-office bomb, and not only did it go on to almost gross a billion dollars, but it also was a ton of fun and spawned a sequel only 2 years later. They left us with a serious cliff hanger, introducing us to Cletus Kasady, also known as Carnage, played by Woody Harrelson. The thing about Venom, it knew exactly what it wanted to be. Cheesy in certain moments, but also exploring the character in a way that Spider-Man 3 didn’t do. Tom Hardy was perfect for Eddie Brock/Venom and he totally ran with the wackiness of the film. The design of Venom was pretty much flawless, and now they are bringing in, the king of motion capture, Mr. Andy Serkis himself. Venom 2 has so much potential, with a great cast and a director that knows what he is doing. Carnage and Venom squaring off only seems like the inevitable conclusion. All that’s missing is Spidey and we know that Tom Holland is back in the MCU safe and sound. But don’t be surprised if somehow he pops up in this thing. Or maybe SONY will have their very own web-slinger. Super excited to see how these two are going to look this time around, you know with Serkis behind the camera it will be special.

Deep Water: Director Adrian Lynch. Release Date; 11/13/20

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So these two are falling out of love and people around them start to die? Hot couple alert. A new psychological thriller from the mind of Adrian Lynch brings these two stars together. Ana de Armas is having herself a serious run right now in Hollywood. That’s the real reason I’m so hyped for this. Yes, it helps starring next to my dude, someone who is going to have a massive year in 2020.

Godzilla vs. Kong: Director; Adam Wingard. Release Date; 11/20/20

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Titans. Gods. Giant freckin monsters. Who doesn’t love a good monster movie? Well, when done properly. We got reintroduced to King Kong, with Skull Island and Godzilla a few years prior. Guess what my most anticipated movie of 2019 was? Godzilla: King of Monsters. Guess what the biggest disappointment of 2019 was? Godzilla: King of Monsters. It was a bore, it was actually just awful. The trailers alone had me gushing. I couldn’t believe we were getting something of this magnitude. Turns out, the trailers oversold this movie, because the real thing was honestly so mishandled. So many beautiful creatures and monsters, but again, they let the human characters take center stage. This will probably be no different, but with another great cast and this feels like a BvS type showdown, I’m sure certain moments will blow us away. You know, that they will become friends to take down a bigger foe. After the reception and box-office failure of the latest Godzilla, WB regrouped and decided to tweak this thing and make it a little more fan-friendly. Still waiting on that first trailer, I’m thinking they might pop up during a certain football game in the next few weeks. Or at least if I was working for WB, that’s when I would show this off to the world.

Dune: Director; Dennis Villeneuve; Release Date; 12/18/20

peter-konig.jpg Dennis, had himself a decade didn’t he? Now entering this new decade he is promising us another masterfully crafted piece of cinema. Dune, although a remake, will be something standing on its own. Blade Runner 2049 was honestly one of the most beautiful looking films I can ever remember seeing. This shall be no different. With a stacked cast, the list longer than a CVS receipt. Here’s the thing, I’ve never seen the original and know very little about the subject matter at hand. I like it that way. I’d even dodge the trailers if I could, but I’m blogger, it’s kind of difficult. Let’s not make the same mistake with BR 2049 and have this be a poor box-office performance.

2020 is going to be such an interesting year.

Reviews

‘1917’ Review

Strap in for an adrenaline rush from start to finish. 1917 takes you on a war journey in a way never seen before in cinema. It’s an epic tale of bravery, determination, and friendship, that pushes the limits for two World War 1 soldiers.

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Two young British soldiers during the First World War are given an impossible mission: deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldier’s brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap.


How far would you go to save the lives of thousands of your fellow comrades? What if one of those men happened to be your older brother? Would you travel through essentially the depths of hell, during World War 1 to do so? For Corporal Blake (Dean-Thomas Chapman) and his best friend Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) that’s exactly what they plan to do. After getting word that 1600 men are about to walk into a trap set by the Germans, they are sent on a mission to warn these soldiers before it is too late. Chaos is probably the best word to describe war, and in 1917, that’s exactly what you get. Director Sam Mendes, fresh off Skyfall, is attempting something never done before, a one-take war film. That’s the draw, and for a movie that’s so full of chaos and intense set-pieces, it honestly is one of the most remarkable accomplishments I’ve ever witnessed in a movie.

In a time where everything seems to be shot on a green-screen, or nothing ever really seems “real” anymore in cinema, well 1917 will simply blow you away. Shot by the legendary Roger Deakins, one of the greatest cinematographers this world as ever seen, and his entire repertoire is on display here. From the very opening shot of the film, you just know that this is a different breed of movie-making. Seeing this tale play out in almost real-time, as we watch our two soldiers cut across No Man’s Land, escape an aircraft that is crashlanding and fight their way through enemy territory, all without a single cut, no edits in time, nothing.

As our two men journey out into the abyss, it is quite clear that they know there might be no coming back, but in order to save the lives of so many men, they know it’s a worthy sacrifice. Blake, the boy-scout of the two, naive at times, all while being able to crack a joke, even moments after a harrowing near-death escape. Alongside him, the veteran, the beaten-down Schofield, who would rather be out on the battlefield then back home, where things no longer make sense for him anymore. They play off each other so well, they have terrific chemistry and it’s an unlikely bond that drives the movie forward from the very beginning. This is their movie, they are the focal point, it’s their adventure we see unfold, while certain characters pop up briefly, some nice cameos from Benedict Cumberbach, Richard Madden and Colin Firth, they are all on screen a combined 5 minutes. They are just there to elevate important scenes, that need those certain faces to help you realize what’s at stake.

The whole movie builds to its the inevitable outcome, will they arrive in time to prevent a massacre? The final battle sequence is probably one of the most beautiful things shot on film this century. The use of bodies, literally the number of extras, the color scheme and all the madness occurring is breathtaking to watch. It’s like ballet, it’s so eloquent like there’s so much going on, but it’s shot so well, and so perfectly, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You’re looking around the screen trying to find some flaw, but none are there.

You feel every bullet, every footstep, every mistake these men are making, because you are right beside them, every step of the way. How Mendes and Deakins managed to pull this off, I will never know. It makes you believe in cinema again, that truly great pieces of art can be made still. It’s just something you need to go experience because there’s a lot to say, but I wouldn’t want to spoil any of the jaw-dropping moments. I will say, they probably have the best use of flare guns, in a movie that I have ever seen. How they capture the lightning with everything going on around it. The worst part about it, the projector crapped out with 30 minutes left and it just threw me for a loop, this is a rewatch on the big screen no doubt. One of the best pictures of the year. Don’t be shocked if this wins a ton of Oscars.

1917 = 88/10

Reviews

‘Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker”

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The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.


Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday that the first teaser trailer for The Force Awakens came out? A lot can change in just over 5 years, and that couldn’t be more true for the Star Wars universe. The new trilogy promised new characters and to finish what George Lucas started all those years ago, the proper send-off for the Skywalker family. The new trilogy has been all about family, finding out where you came from and who you truly are. This wasn’t just a Skywalker story, it was just a small piece in something much greater. Ever since this new trilogy was announced, it has divided fans like no other fandom, and to no surprise here, this conclusion will be something discussed for many years to come. Rise of Skywalker ultimately fails to deliver a proper send-off and is without a doubt the biggest disappointment for a Star Wars movie ever.

This is it, don’t get scared now. The final curtain call for the Skywalker family. Everything has been building for this moment. So many questions, so few answers us fans have gotten. There’s always hope in the Star Wars universe, no matter the stakes, no matter how tall of a task, hope is what propels these characters forward, no matter how difficult the circumstances may be. After the events of The Last Jedi and the death of Luke, the Resistance is looking towards a new savior, a new hero, Rey. Is she able to muster up the strength necessary to lead them to victory or will her enemy/friend Kylo Ren stand in her way?

This is an early review, so spoiler-free. Seeing how this is the grand conclusion to one of the most beloved stories in the history of cinema, it kind of felt rushed? Lacklustre, almost sloppy at times. When they decided to bring back Star Wars, it’s shocking that they didn’t have a better overall concrete story put in place. There is plenty of action, space battles, a Mad Max Fury Road inspired desert case. But at the end of the day, it just wasn’t enough to save the messy story, and it just felt like one long quest to find the missing piece of the puzzle. The best part about Star Wars is the lightsaber, one of the coolest weapons ever created. Simply put, there’s just not enough in this final instalment. It what separates Star Wars from every other franchise and not having one last epic dual was disappointing.

Everyone is back for one last journey and the team unlike in The Last Jedi, is together for the majority of the film. Rey and Finn and Poe all play off each other so well, and it just felt right for Finn and Rey to be together because they really are the heart and soul of the new trilogy. They started this thing, it’s only fitting they try to end it together. There are a ton of surprises awaiting any fan, and seeing old but familiar faces is always a shot of nostalgia morphine.

At the end of the day, this felt more like The Force Awakens than The Last Jedi, obviously with JJ Abrams being back behind the camera that makes sense. Disney should have never had a different director come into the scene. Not because The Last Jedi isn’t a fantastic movie, but because of how different these two men and their styles clash at times. That is the biggest flaw in this whole thing. At times this just feels like a Force Awakens sequel rather than the conclusion to everything that came before it. One thing is certain, this didn’t feel like the proper ending for something that had been cooking for 40 years.

 

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker = 45/100