Below Average Watch: #Stardust @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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I had never heard of 2007’s Stardust before someone recently posted about it on Facebook. He said he loved it, and it’s streaming on Netflix, so I thought I’d give it a chance.

Bleck!

I was bored to tears. By the time it picked up a little bit, I was so un-invested (<- not really a word, but you know what I mean) in the characters that it was too late to win me over. The story follows a half-faerie guy who looks like Daredevil and goes on a mission to save Claire Danes, who’s really a comet or something. Ugh. So trite and poorly executed. It’s based on a 1999 book by Neil Gaiman, and the cast was incredible (Mark Strong, Robert Deniro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Peter O’Toole, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, the best Superman, and so many others), so I really expected to like it. I didn’t, and I stand with but a few.

I know. “Bad nerd!” As always, YMMV.

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Why Henry Cavill Is the Best Superman #movie #DCEU

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, I’m going to answer a controversial question among nerds: Who is the best Superman?

Answer: Henry Cavill.

Why? Because I said so.

FYI, I saw this a couple days after writing this post.

Fighting the Justice League was also my #1.

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Long Movie: Batman v. Superman Ultimate Edition #movie #Superman #Batman #DCEU

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I liked Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but because it currently has a 62% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I can’t say it’s a Guilty Pleasure. I do hear a lot of hate from my social media connections, though, and many of them have told me that they actually liked the Ultimate Edition because of the additional information it provides. (One suggested that the same thing could be said about the Watchman Extended Cut.) I agree that the additional scenes improve BvS, but that raised a question for me: Why not keep them in the cinematic release?

The Ultimate Edition is 3 hours and 3 minutes long (including credits). I’ve seen 3-hour movies in the theater, so if the scenes are already filmed and modified in post production (i.e., paid for), why waste them? Give people their money’s worth, improve the movie, and your reviews will be better. I can think of three responses to my question.

Response 1: You want some deleted scenes to make the home release more enticing.
Counterpoint: If people don’t like your movie, nothing will entice them to buy your home releases.

Response 2: I’m operating from hindsight. There was no way to know that the deleted scenes would have improved the movie.
Counterpoint: Does anyone really think that the test audiences didn’t like the deleted scenes? They made the movie much better. Aren’t filmmakers professionals? Why can’t they figure out how to use test audiences to get the right result, especially for movies with such huge budgets?

Response 3: Three hour (or more) movies are too long.
Counterpoint: Bring back the intermission so that people with short attention spans and weak bladders can handle it. Oh, snap!

Who’s got a response #4? I’ll defeat that one too.

I can’t believe they cut Jon Stewart. At this point, I suspect that cutting scenes is simply a strange sort of tradition among filmmakers. 

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Travelling Through the #DCEU, Part III @GalGadot @modernwest @HarryJLennix @BenAffleck @realamberheard @thedcuniverse #BirdsOfPrey #JusticeLeague #movie

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it. Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

I really liked the DCEU, so I’ve decided to rewatch all of the DCEU movies in chronological order as I once did with the MCU. Doing so isn’t as important because the DCEU movies aren’t nearly as dependent on each other, but it’s something to do. 🙂 The order of the movies is Wonder Woman, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, Justice League, Aquaman, and Shazam!

Birds of Prey

I had to rent this movie to stream it. Worth it.

That’s not quite the saying, but close enough.

Hyenas are cute. From a distance.

There isn’t a single major character in this movie that isn’t seriously damaged.

You couldn’t pay me enough money to eat that breakfast sandwich.

That’s a bold enough fashion statement even without being involved in a chase.

As always, physics takes a back seat to drama, but this movie doesn’t even bother to justify it with magic, or alien metal, or anything that makes it easy for me to ignore.

The back and forth through the timeline can be hard to follow, but this movie pulled it off.

“Other pocket.” 🙂

Baseball bats and knees don’t go well together. Nor do beards and lighters.

I saw this in the theater with my friend, Erik, and we were the only two in there. At the moment Harley looks into the camera, Erik and I both spontaneously laughed out loud. Sorry, Deadpool, but that’s how you break the fourth wall. Once. Voice overs are fine, but make the break count so it has an impact.

 

Go to 0:40.

Hyenas are feliforms. She should have fed Bruce cat food. 🙂

I love when popular songs are reimagined; in this case, Hit Me with Your Best Shot. And sometimes, using the original works really well too.

A fitting death for Black Mask. Not just in the sense that he deserved it, but also because it was sufficiently hideous considering the tone of the movie.

I enjoyed this movie, but only as a comedy, and I liked the directing. As an action movie, though, it was substandard, and sometimes the characters overacted. Basically, it wasn’t as good as I remembered it, which means — as always — I’m probably overthinking things. This isn’t the kind of movie where you should do that.

Justice League

Believe it or not, this isn’t a guilty pleasure. The audience score is 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. If you’re one of the squeaky wheels that didn’t like this movie, you’re with the critics. That’s not necessarily a bad place to be.

Based on the explosion, that bomb wouldn’t have blown up 4 city blocks.

I can think of several reasons to be pissed at being turned into a cyborg, but the ability to fly isn’t one of them. Nor is the ability to access whatever information I want.

I really didn’t think an arrow would stop Steppenwolf. Why did they? Well, I know the answer. It made for a great fight scene.

“Keep it moving!” Where to? You’re on an island and on horseback. He can go anywhere you can.

I want more Green Lantern. I hope he’s in the Snyder Cut.

“I need . . . friends.” Yet, the Flash is the only member of the Justice League that isn’t constantly brooding.

Bug spray. I hate bugs, too.

Wasn’t Superman in a suit? Where’d his shirt and shoes go? And why hasn’t anyone cleaned up the rubble from the monument yet?

CGI mustache-free lip aside, the fight scene between Superman and the Justice League was great. It established Superman as a bad ass. I especially loved that he threw everyone off, and before they could hit the ground, beat the Flash at his own game. The look on the Flash’s face when he realizes what’s going to happen is priceless.

The cop pointing a gun at Superman is a dipshit.

Again, Diane Lane is the best Martha Kent.

 

Once again, the physics of comics make no sense. If Superman were holding an apartment building like that, he’d produce a tremendous amount of pressure at a single point that would cause the building to split. I know, I know; I thought it was a cool visual and good joke too.

The only reason to keep the main villain alive at the end of a movie is so that he can be a threat in a sequel. My understanding is that Justice League 2 was supposed to start with Darkseid killing Steppenwolf because of his failure. That makes keeping Steppenwolf alive even dumber. There should have been resolution . . . and a threat of what was to come.

As an attorney that was working with REO properties (think foreclosure) at the time I saw this movie, I thought, “Why would Bruce Wayne buy the bank. Just buy Martha Kent’s house at auction (or by simple contract if it was currently REO). My friend, Erik, pointed out, “Because buying his way out of trouble is Bruce Wayne’s solution to everything. It’s just what he does.” Good point.

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Travelling Through the #DCEU, Part II @GalGadot @modernwest @HarryJLennix @BenAffleck @joelkinnaman @JaredLeto @thedcuniverse #Batman #Superman #SuicideSquad #movie

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it. Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

I really liked the DCEU, so I’ve decided to rewatch all of the DCEU movies in chronological order as I once did with the MCU. Doing so isn’t as important because the DCEU movies aren’t nearly as dependent on each other, but it’s something to do. 🙂 The order of the movies is Wonder Woman, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, Justice League, Aquaman, and Shazam!

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Like everyone else, I was happy we didn’t get yet another Batman origin story. Handling through the credits was a great idea. I loved the music as well.

Around the time this movie was released. there was a video showing the fight scenes between Superman and Zod in both Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice. It showed that both of those scenes were synchronized precisely. I can’t find the video anywhere. All I could find was a 2-second clip. I love that attention to detail.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.

A real Superman would exacerbate the already massive polarization in America on both political and religious grounds. Considering it was a side story, the movie did a good job of capturing that tension.

Superman isn’t the only one that kills. Batman kills people. A lot of people. That pisses off people. A lot of people. (Not I. It’s an action movie.)

Did Soledad O’Brien die in the explosion? She must have. Pat Lahey definitely did.

“It did on my world. My world doesn’t exist anymore.” Foreshadowing for a moment I love in this movie when Superman realizes something important.

Okay, I agree. Martha?

How exactly would Lex Luthor be able to control Doomsday if it had killed Superman? The first thing it tried to do was punch Luthor. It failed but would have destroyed the entire world after defeating Superman.

Doomsday at the top of LexCorp tower facing off with Apache choppers reminded me of the finale of King Kong (1976).

“This is my world. You are my world.” This is where Superman realizes something important. The musical piece, This Is My World, captures the scene perfectly.

Lex Luthor isn’t really bald if they simply shaved his head.

Suicide Squad

Solid star power.

In creating the team, they created the threat. That’s a bit odd.

I’m a fan of Adam Beach and was pissed he got only a few words of dialogue and not much of a role. But hey; no small parts, right? At least he served a purpose.

Like several movies in the MCU, I always find myself asking, “What are all the other heroes doing while the world is being threatened?” Then I stop overthinking it.

I hate to be an asshole, but Cara Delevingne really sucks.

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Travelling Through the #DCEU, Part I @GalGadot @russellcrowe @modernwest @HarryJLennix #WonderWoman #Superman #ManOfSteel #movie

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it. Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

I really liked the DCEU, so I’ve decided to rewatch all of the DCEU movies in chronological order as I once did with the MCU. Doing so isn’t as important because the DCEU movies aren’t nearly as dependent on each other, but it’s something to do. 🙂 The order of the movies is Wonder Woman, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, Justice League, Aquaman, and Shazam!

Wonder Woman

This was a fun movie. Huge stakes, lots of action, and just the right amount of humor strike a proper balance between serious and campy. I liked the way they presented the effects of the Lasso of Hestia on Steve Trevor. Its effect on Aquaman was funnier, of course, but as he wasn’t resisting it, his experience wasn’t strictly inconsistent with Steve Trevor’s.

The premise of the Amazons is flawed. They make a huge deal out of the fact that once Ares is killed, everyone will go back to loving each other. If they only knew that World War II was on the horizon, not to mention everything else that happened after that. Things actually got worse. I wonder (pun intended) whether that will be addressed in the sequel.

I love David Thewlis, but he was miscast here. He’s too old even in the flashback scenes where they use CGI to de-age him. I would have preferred a younger actor.

I like that Diana starts as hopelessly naive. It gives her room to grow, but because of her superpowers, she can sometimes get away with it (e.g., crossing “No man’s land,” which was my favorite scene and music in the movie).

So much for Steve Trevor not wanting to sleep with a woman before marriage.

Diana uses a lot of Capoeira.

For a second, I thought Sameer was going to suggest. “Get help.” 🙂

As to my point above, Steve Trevor and Ares both try to explain away Ares’ responsibility for human evil, but then SPOILER ALERT Diana kills Ares. Was Trevor mistaken? Was Ares lying? Nope. Things continued to get worse after World War I.

All of the telekinesis in the first part of the fight against Ares reminds me of Luke’s first battle against Vader in the Empire Strikes Back. Ares’ creation of swords on the fly reminds me of Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.

I hope they come up with a really good explanation for Steve Trevor’s return in Wonder Woman 1984. Otherwise, it’ll cheapen his moving death scene in this movie. I know that characters always come back to life in comics, but this is a different medium. Death should be final. Otherwise, there are no stakes, and thus no drama.

Wonder Woman 1984

Dammit! I wish I could watch this now.

Man of Steel

I’m a HUGE fan of this soundtrack.

At times, the opening sequence reminds me of the Matrix, Avatar, and Apocalypse Now.

Heresy
noun
Belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine.

It’s heresy to have babies naturally?

Henry Cavill is my favorite Superman. Deal with it. And Diane Lane is my favorite Martha Kent.

I always found weird the theory that Aquaman saved Superman after the oil rig explosion. A natural, terrestrial threat could kill Superman? I have enough trouble accepting that he was knocked unconscious by it, but okay. Drama.

The most heroic thing about Clark Kent that’s obtainable by all of us is a complete lack of pride.

Everyone argues. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other. If the last thing you say to someone you love is harsh, don’t beat yourself up over it. They understood. Wouldn’t you?

Kevin Costner’s sacrifice was far better than Glen Ford’s heart attack.

I love how Coburn Goss portrays a priest thinking, “Oh, shit!” but somehow keeping his composure.

So Kryptonians are ultra-sensitive to different atmospheres but totally cool with the vacuum of space?

The amount of destruction in this movie is horrifying. It makes sense considering who’s fighting whom, but how could you rebuild that?

It’s so funny to me that this is the same Michael Shannon from Knives Out. Great actor.

“106 Days without an accident.” Oops. The 1 and 6 just got knocked off. Hell of a joke to put in such a scene.

Wait. Why remove your armor, Zod?

Oooooooh, there goes Wayne Tower.

Superman kills! The direction in which he broke Zod’s neck should have killed the people anyway.

“Welcome to the planet.”

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Good Watch: #Limitless

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Limitless was released in 2011. I was mildly intrigued but apparently not enough to actually watch it. Flash forward to last week, and I read an article referring to it as the best movie you need to watch before it leaves Netflix on May 15. Unfortunately, I have a backlog of blog posts, so by the time you’re reading this, nothing I say will matter.

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. I’m sure you can stream it somewhere, or at least rent it on YouTube, etc.

Like the movie Lucy, it operates off of the ridiculous premise that we use “only 20% of our brains.” That’s annoying. Otherwise, as the article said (paraphrased, because it’s been lost to the interwebs), the basic premise is a really good hook. Cooper plays an underachieving writer living a lowly life. He’s given a drug that <sigh> allows him to access his entire brain, which completely changes his life. Of course, the first thing he does is get laid (his landlord’s wife), and then he turns $12,000 into $2,000,000. This is what everyone wants, right? Be careful what you wish for. It wouldn’t be drama if things didn’t go to shit by act two (at the latest).

It’s an interesting take on addiction and obsession with a sci-fi twist. One interesting but subtle device they used were memory skips. An episode of Brain Games on National Geographic covered those. My guess is that they consulted a neuroscientist to get the details right, then took a few liberties for the sake of drama. They do that in other areas. It seems impossible for a criminal to chase someone in broad daylight on the busy streets of New York City without attracting attention from the cops, but there it is. Twice.

Despite all of these criticisms, it was reasonably enjoyable and a nice change of pace from my recent fare.

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Good Watch: Dead to Me @1capplegate @lindacardellini @netflix @deadtome #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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Dead to Me, season 2 just dropped, which has ten, 30-35 minute episodes, all of which I watched on Saturday. It’s both comedic and tragic. Linda Cardellini plays Judy, a complete screw up that brings tragedy with her everywhere she goes. This brings her to Christina Applegate’s Jen, and it spirals down from there. Saying anything more would require at least mild spoilers.

With respect to Ms. Applegate, this is literally the best I’ve ever seen her act. She’s phenomenal.  Ms. Cardellini’s Judy plays a naive and self-destructive character that usually frustrates me and keeps me from liking a show, but though her performance overall is really good, what most keeps me on board is her comedic timing. We’re all familiar with the notion of how difficult it can be to formulate and maintain a lie. Watching Jen and Judy navigate those waters made me laugh every time. However, this is far from a comedy. The tragedies follow one after the other, with the big ones self-inflicted and creating a snowball effect. There should be another season, and however many there are, I’m very curious as to how this series will end.

Dead to Me streams on Netflix.

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#Avengers: Age of #Ultron: The Flip Side of the #MCU Power Curve @JeremyRenner @lindacardellini

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In yesterday’s post, I voiced my only serious complaint about the MCU: The incoherent power curve. While that certainly annoys me, Avengers: Age of Ultron keeps me from forgetting that the least powerful original Avengers, Black Widow and Hawkeye, were certainly very important to the team. If the choice I was given was having a screwy power curve or eliminating them from the story, I’ll take the screwy power curve with a smile on my face every time.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye was instrumental in stopping Scarlet Witch from tearing the Avengers apart. He was the only one who avoided her powers, and he was the one to convince her, the person that would one day become the strongest Avenger, to join the team in a meaningful way. That was done with a speech rivaling any Captain America ever delivered. This was a believable effort on his part despite not requiring a superpower. Before that, however, he reinforced the message to the other Avengers of what they were fighting for by introducing them to his family. In fact, his non-hero wife, Laura, kept him from losing touch with his own importance. For a team that was falling apart at the seams, this was critical to the believability of the Avengers continuing to work well together.

Black Widow

I’ve written several times about how Black Widow is the glue of the Avengers. Except for Thor, she had significant, on-screen bonding moments with each of the original Avengers (as well as a few others) over the course of several films. This could explain her eventual inability to stick to one side in the Avengers’ “civil war.” With this movie, we saw the development of her most significant relationship, Bruce Banner, and the expansion of her most important one (from a story perspective), Hawkeye. I vaguely relate to Black Widow’s backstory, and how it shaped who she became, in a specific but personal way I won’t discuss; however, I think we can all agree that it’s compelling enough for her own movie. The story became a mission to rescue her, but not really. Far from the archetypical damsel in distress, she instead turned the situation around from the inside, leading the Avengers to Ultron. Without screwing with the power curve, Black Widow contributed in vital ways.

These two characters were as important to the Avengers as any of the others, and neither had a superpower.

Unrelated Note

In a cinematic universe filled with brilliant one-liners, one of my favorites comes from Age of Ultron.

“Oh, for God’s sake!”

James Spader is awesome.

Sometimes you must take the bad with the good. Black Widow and Hawkeye were really good.

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Throwing Rhodey Under the Bus in Avengers: #Endgame @DonCheadle @MarvelStudios #MCU

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It’s rare that I find things that I don’t like about the MCU, but there are a few. As I discussed yesterday, I approved of “Fat Thor” because it was handled fairly well. However, it wasn’t handled perfectly; to-wit: War Machine. I felt that the writers unnecessarily threw Rhodey under the bus. They gave him all the mean-spirited lines, and a couple were particularly bad. This reminds me of my tweet during the Infinity War watch party.

The scene is here. Start at 1:04.

If it weren’t for Peter’s completely irrational reaction, none of the 14,000,605 alternate timelines would have occurred (including the successful one). People do stupid things for one of four reasons that I can identify: 1) They’re stupid; 2) they’re kidding; 3.) they’re trolling you; or 4.) they’re acting emotional, thus abandoning all logic. Regardless of which category you think Peter is in, he behaved stupidly, and I don’t see why the writers had to do that. They could easily have made Thanos too strong for Mantis. Unfortunately, this seems to be how they write. They want a clear scapegoat among the heroes, being someone that consistently goes in a bad direction.

Rhodey

Rhodey didn’t cause Thanos’s arrival in Endgame. His issues were different; he was simply an asshole. First, let’s look at the discussion of the Infinity Stones.

Everyone’s comments and facial expressions seem to show concern for Thor, except Scott Lang, who as always is lost and therefore not sure if Thor is kidding. He may have just been giving Thor encouragement. In any case, all of these people are goodhearted in their approach. The exception is Rhodey, who makes a joke of it with, “No, I’m pretty sure he’s dead,” and arguably Clint’s facial expression when Rhodey and he share a knowing look with each other. Then we go to the discussion of time travel.

As if designed to make sure Rhodey looked as bad as possible, they left it to him to say that time travel should have been used to kill Thanos as a baby. Everyone would have forgiven that (after all, “It’s Thanos!”), but it still had a mean feel to it, and it became yet another straw on the camel’s back (so to speak).

Then consider his scene with Nebula.

Rhodey’s question, “So he’s an idiot?” came across as rhetorical. He was clearly calling Peter an idiot with an air of frustration. Nebula’s simple response of, “Yeah,” came only after a pause and a downward glance. Of all people to be reluctant to insult someone, Nebula seemed exactly that. Here were two characters saying the same exact thing about the same exact person, yet they were coming from opposite directions. Nebula’s remarkable story arc of redemption certainly colored how I viewed all of her statements, and that’s probably true for Rhodey based on the above, who seemed to be going in the opposite direction. But that’s what I’m talking about. That’s a direct result of the writing.

Moving on, remember from yesterday’s post, once it was explicitly established that Thor’s physical condition was tied to the depression and/or PTSD, the fat jokes stopped coming, except for Rhodey. He continued to insult Thor’s condition, and it didn’t come across as playful.

Objectively, “Cheez Whiz” is a funny line, but it was done not only after we learned why Thor was in a depleted physical state, but also at the exact moment Thor was having an emotional crisis. Thor was going to sacrifice himself to atone for his perceived sin of failure, which itself resulted in depression, PTSD, and his physical condition.

I’m the kind of guy that thinks no topic is forbidden from comedy. Anything can be funny if done well. The only sin in comedy is not being funny, and I’m never offended, even if my own insecurities are the butt of the joke. I far prefer laughing at myself than wallowing in self-pity, so I believe making fun of people can be funny. But it also can be not funny. With Rhodey, it came across as mean-spirited and was completely unnecessary.

The totality of just these few scenes left me with a bad impression.

Who’s to Blame?

The blame can lie with any combination of the actor, director, and screenwriter. I don’t know who to blame, but you can see from the deleted scenes in that last clip that this was exactly what they were going for. They wanted to say something mean-spirited, and the fact that Peter Quill was thrown under the bus in Infinity War suggests that the writing is to blame. In total, I felt it debased the character. Unfortunately, I don’t see much room for him to redeem himself. I haven’t heard any mention of his return to the MCU on the big screen or on Disney+.

Have you learned to dislike Rhodey? Is there a value to these lines that I don’t appreciate?

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