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Mike’s Super Spoiler Heavy Review of X-Men: Days of Future Past, with a non spoilery section.

 

   Hey guys,  it’s been a while, a few months.  Been super busy with my new…well I’ve been there 6 months now so it’s not really a new job anymore, but it’s been keeping me busy plus I haven’t really felt that spark to write much as of late, nothing that my twitter or facebook can’t handle anyway.  But that’s changed for me today when I treated myself to seeing the latest Brian Singer (!) directed X-flick, X-Men: Days of Future Past.   Now if you haven’t seen it, I wouldn’t suggest reading further, because I will spoil the crap out of this in this review, not unlike the trailers for Amazing Spider-Man 2 chose to show a really quick version of basically the whole movie with it’s marketing.  I still liked that movie, a lot, despite it’s flaws, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.  No sir, today is all about my favorite mutant team since I was 12, the X-Men.  

 

        Now, before I get into the specifics, I went all out and saw the movie in 3-D, which looked amazing, (last sidenote the new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer was in front of the movie, and seeing that on the big screen, in 3-D was truly breathtaking…so psyched for that one).  But okay, to the X-Talk.   Right from the beginning of the film we know we’re back in Brian Singer territory, with the X-theme from his first two movies going over the credits, and right there you know that this is not the crap we’ve been subjected to in the interim years (exception being X-Men:First Class, loved the hell out of that movie)   But I digress, we’re in the future, and crazy super sentinels which are like the sentinels from the Matrix movies crossed with traditional sentinels crossed with the t-1000 had a baby with the Destroyer from the first Thor movie have decimated the world, leaving the few surviving X people, including new mutants Sunspot, Blink, Warpath and Bishop are at their wits end.  Professor X and Magneto (the returning Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellan) have an idea to send someone’s conciousness back in time before the world ended to fix everything.  And because this is an X-Men movie, the man for the job is Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.  Whom they send back into the past to the 1970’s First Class timeline to save the world (and the franchise) .  

     So back in his younger pre adamantium bonded body he has to assemble the younger X-Men from the first class universe,well Professor X (James Macavoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating sentinel developer Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) that kickstarted the darkest timeline.    That’s all you really need to know about the movie.  Now, go see it, and come back here for the spoilery part.   It’s okay, I’ll wait, Orphan Black is coming on now anyway.  

 

 

 

        

 

       Awesome, so you saw the movie, awesome right, I know!   Okay, so now here’s what I loved, and a few nitpicky things here that keep the movie from being a perfect X-Men movie.  I loved seeing the returning cast in this movie from the original trilogy, even in cameo form at the end of the film, which now post DoFP negates X-Men 3:The Last Stand and Wolverine:Origins, which should in theory mean that that version of Deadpool never happened, and Ryan Reynolds can play a proper Deadpool now if they ever get around to doing that movie.   I grinned from ear to ear when I saw Famke Jannsen and James Marsden onscreen, that was just a great moment.

    And the First Class cast, that’s in this movie really stepped up their emotional game as well, Jennifer Lawrence is impressive as always as Mystique, and I hope to see more of her in future X related shenanigans.     I was also impressed that Bryan Singer had John Ottman return to do the score, with the not quite classic, but well missed X-theme.  Loved the hell out of that.    Also, I really liked Evan Peters’ brief role as Quicksilver here, I was ready to hate him from the marketing but he really worked for me, I just wish we had more time with him in the movie, but he shines in his brief spot here.  I can’t help but wonder how his Kick Ass costar Aaron Taylor Johnson will handle his role as the Quicksilver of the MCU in Avengers 2, but right now I’m digging the X version.  Different from his personality in the comics, here he’s like if The Flash was also a klepto.    

 

  And the post credits scene setting up Apocalypse was pretty dope as well, not sure if that’s the same guy that’s going to play the older version of Apocalypse, but it was great to finally see Apocalypse acknowledged in the X-film universe, as to me he’s always been their ultimate villain, moreso than Magneto who’s more misguided and has a different point of view on how to get mutant rights, Apocalypse is just pure evil.   I hope that a new version of Angel plays a role in this next story so we can see his transformation into Archangel.   

 

   Now for what didn’t really work for me, which wasn’t really a whole lot to it.  I didn’t like how they killed off the majority of the First Class cast offscreen in this one, namely Banshee and Emma Frost,  who we saw also in the Origins:Wolverine movie younger than she should have been if she was in First Class…you know what that movie didn’t happen now, so I guess not too important.  And Banshee getting killed off….we saw his daughter Siryn in X2…how does that work?    Also, that whole scene with Mystique breaking Havok, Toad, and (Pestilence?) out of a military prison that we saw a clip of in the post credits of Spider-Man?  That’s Havok’s entire role in this movie, I thought there was going to be some sort of setup with that, but nope, that’s it.   Also, I’m assuming in this universe Havok is the older sibling, what with being a teenager in 1962 and whatnot.  Never quite got that.    There were too many characters at times to really do anything with, but they wanted to show them I suppose.  

 

  And lastly that last shot of the General Stryker that now has younger Wolverine in custody reveal to be Mystique threw me off as well.  I was happy with it being Stryker that had him, thus setting up the new timeline for Wolverine’s Weapon X origins, and at that point in the movie I was like, okay, sweet, so that movie never happened now either. (Literally the only good thing about that movie was Ryan Reynolds in the opening of the movie, and Liev Schrieber’s Sabretooth performance, they should get him back if they ever do anything else with that character).   But then the reveal happens and ok it’s Mystique.  Why?  I’m still pondering that one, but again like I said, minor nitpicks on an otherwise great, awesome, fun time at the movie theater.  I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did, and you enjoyed my review.  Til next time, be sure to keep it Reel.

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Thor: The Dark World Review, and Marvel geek ramblings

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       Comic book movies have certainly come a long way, well let me clarify, comic movies based on Marvel properties have certainly come a long way in the past almost twenty years, starting in 1998 with the movie based on the unlikely to ever get made into a badass movie ‘Blade’, which in turn ironically enough they later changed the comic depiction to look more like Wesley Snipes and in turn made that B list character, while still B list, but an interesting B list character.   We went from the godawful 1990 Captain America movie, in which Captain America and the Red Skull, while in the film, are only barely shown in their iconic looks from the comics, huh, reminds me a lot of this summer’s Iron Man 3, which for a film called Iron Man 3, certainly didn’t feature a lot of Iron Man in it.  To compare that’d be like if this movie Thor was stuck in his sometimes alter ego from the comics, the crippled physician Dr. Donald Blake for half the movie, thankfully that was not the case.

     I loved the previous Thor movie that Kenneth Branagh had directed two years ago, it had a nice blend of action, comedy, drama, and romance basically everything you need in a comic book based movie to capture a full wide audience.  And I’d never even really been all too interested in the character prior to the movie for the most part, sure I was aware of him, I’ve been reading comics, mostly Marvel ones at that since I could read, but Thor never really appealed to me with all the ‘I say thee Nays’, and other such faux Shakespearean-esque dialogue that Stan Lee had originally wrote the character with, it kind of bored me, people said it was good but I didn’t see the appeal, kind of like college football to me personally. 

  But the movie managed to capture my attention, and not just as a placeholder building up to the The Avengers movie, and it did a good job of that too.  So when it came time for the inevitable sequel, I was genuinely excited to see this movie, so much so I contemplated on going to the all day marathon at my local AMC theater, with the first movie and The Avengers, but I decided against it, since I already had those movies on dvd.  But I did go to the 8:00 pm showing of Thor:The Dark World, because I’m not passing that one up. 

  Sidenote: Let me just say that I absolutely love that movie theaters are doing 8:00 screenings of big movies now, along with the already established midnight show tradition.  I saw midnight showings for both The Dark Knight, and The Incredible Hulk, while I was still in the Navy, and it was brutal at work the next day both times, totally worth it, but if they had an earlier option then I gladly would have taken it.

 

    Thor: The Dark World takes place about two years after the events of the first movie, and I’m assuming fitting in storywise after Iron Man 3 as well, seeing as the Agents of SHIELD show takes place after that time frame and they’re doing a tie in episode in a few weeks ( I can almost see the little corner note on the ‘cover’ of the issue saying Thor 2 continues in this issue)  The Rainbow Bridge has been repaired (due to the return of the Tesseract to Asgard, not mentioned in the movie but in the tie in prequal comic, which I thought was pretty awesome, and made sense, since the Tesseract opening looked exactly like the Rainbow Bridge teleportation, which leads me to still hold on to my theory that the Red Skull was merely teleported to Asgard at the end of the first Cap flick, so we should expect him back at some point, maybe even in the next, awesome as hell looking movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, just sayin’.

   But I digress, so Thor’s busy battling it out across the nine realms bringing peace to the universe, and we get to see the last battle of that, which you also saw in most of the commericials of the movie, against one of the Stone Men, that featured in the comics not too long ago in the Planet Hulk storyline.   Loki’s in his magic, clear walled prison, since that’s the thing now is put bad guys in clear prisons…and good guys too (see Man of Steel)  spending most of his time reading, cause reading is fundamental. 

  Meanwhile on earth, Dr. Jane Foster (played by Natalie Portman) and her intern Darcy (Kat Dennings), are researching some energy trails in London, England, and happen to stumble across this energy field of sorts called the Aether, which awakens the villains of this picture, the Dark Elves and their leader, Malakith (Christopher “The NInth Doctor” Eccleston”) from their ages old slumber, and they proceed to start wrecking shit until they get their hands on this stuff, which has the ability to unmake the universe somehow.  On thinking back on it now, it reminded me of the planet destroying matter that Nero had in the Star Trek reboot.      To sum up this plot summary without getting into spoiler territory, Thor shows up, takes Jane to Asgard, where she has one of the most awkward meet the parents of the person you’re dating moments in history, and the bad guys show up, wreck more shit, and then Thor has to team up with his untrustworthy stepbrother Loki to find a way to the Dark World, where they have to go to to be able to destroy the matter and stop the once and former Doctor from exterminating existence. 

 

   The good: There’s a lot of good in this movie, starting off with the fangirls’ favorite Loki as played by Tom HIddleston, he absolutely steals every scene he’s in, definitely the best villain that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come across yet, he just kills it.   Also the cast all around has great places to shine, Chris Hemsworth pretty much is Thor as much as RDJ is Iron Man, even when I read the comics those are the voices that are in my head, they define the roles perfectly.   Kat Dennings is cute and funny as the last one, and her and Natalie Portman, especially Natalie Portman get more to do in this film than the last time, which is great.  Director Alan Taylor of Game of Thrones and other HBO shows fame managed to make the movie with more heart  and humor than the last one, without the humor turning the movie into a dumb comedy.  

 

  The bad: The villains are especially one note, there’s not really a whole lot for Christoper Eccleston to do but show up, scowl, say something in dark elvish and occasionally English and await his defeat more or less, and also I wasn’t a big fan of the use of Lost’s Adewale Akkinuyoye-Agabaje as Algrim/Kurse, sure he looked cool, but once he’s transformed into Kurse, not too far into the movie, a dark elf powerhouse type monster, he’s essentially like a badass version of the dogfaced henchmen from The Fifth Element 

 And lastly I was hoping to get more Sif and the Warriors Three in this movie, they’re barely in it this time out, and one of my favorite actors Zachary Levi from TV’s Chuck took over for Josh (Once upon a Time) Dallas as Fandral, so I was hoping to have more Chuck vs. The Dark Elves type action. 

 

  Some flaws aside it’s still a great time at the movies, and be sure to stick around past the credits as with all Marvel movies, this time especially, there’s two sequences this time, no spoilers but one of them sets up the next part of Marvel action, unlike in Iron Man 3, which you stick around the credits to get a dumb joke sequence.   I’ll give it a four out of five Mjolnirs.   

 

  So what did you guys think of the movie, feel free to leave me a comment here, or check me out on either twitter or Facebook, @MichaelKeskeys on twitter, and just Mike Keskeys on facebook.  I’d love to get some geek discussion going on.  Or, if you want to read some of my classic reviews, check out http://www.smartpopcorn.com, I used to write under the alias Reel American Hero.  So, in tradition with that, till next time guys be sure to keep it Reel.

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My take on ‘The Man of Steel’

When it comes to comic book movies, Superman has been in a bit of a slump for the past thirty years or so, there hasn’t been a real quality Superman film since 1980 (same year I was born, in a nice coincedence), now, he’s flourished in the interim years in television..mostly, we don’t talk about the late 80’s Superboy tv series..  But when it comes to the big screen adventures of Superman, it’s been all downhill since Superman II.   Some try to argue that Superman Returns wasn’t that bad, and I’ll give them that Brandon Routh made a decent Superman, and Kevin Spacey is always entertaining in anything he does, but still the movie itself was terrible.  

 So now a few years have gone by since then, and Christopher Nolan managed to revive the Batman franchise out of it’s nipply bad pun filled hell, plus Marvel’s been owning the silver screen with their cinematic universe franchises, so Warner Brothers and DC took to Christopher Nolan, and director Zack Snyder (Sucker Punch, 300, Watchmen), to try and revive not only the Superman franchise, but to form the beginning of their own cinematic universe, which will later be populated with a Justice League movie, and other new superhero movies, all of which as a comic fan and a movie fan I’m doubly excited for.  But none of that will happen if they don’t score a home run with their Superman reboot, ‘The Man of Steel’

 Now, like all Superman origin stories we have to start with the destruction of his home planet, Krypton, and we meet his parents, Jor El (played by Russel Crowe), and Lara (Aylet Zura).  But this time it starts out different from any other Superman origin story filmed before, we get to spend a good few minutes on Krypton, seeing the planet itself briefly, then there’s a coup by General Zod (Michael Shannon), and more Jor El action than ever seen in a Superman movie, and then the traditional set up.  Zod and crew get trapped in the Phantom Zone, and Krypton blows up, but not before Kal El is sent to our planet to start his destiny.  

  I liked how scriptwriter David Goyer and director Zack Snyder did this  opening, you expect to see the same old story we’ve seen before, but it’s not the same here.  And then from here we get Clark as an adult, wandering from town to town, helping people and walking the earth, like some latter day Bruce Banner, and we flash back to his childhood in scattered scenes, and we get some great stuff from Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent.  

From there the rest of the movie starts to take off, and we meet Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), and then the rest of the movie takes off, leading to one of the best super battles I’ve ever seen, you really feel the power that both Superman and Zod have as they beat the hell out of each other, and just about everything else standing in the way of the fight.  

    It’s not a perfect film however, there are some underdeveloped characters, namely the ‘controversial’ Jenny Olson played by Rebecca Buller,  whom you’d only know is Jenny Olson, a female stand in/relative of Jimmy Olson, traditionally ‘Superman’s best friend’ in the comics, if you’re a comic fan that goes on the internet and saw this casting news a while back.  It’s like she really could have been just anybody, and so hey, there’s no Jimmy Olson in the movie, no big deal, he’s never really been used in the movies that well anyways.  

  Also, some spots of the movie felt like they were taken from Marvel’s repetoire.  You have the big super fight in the small town, that conviently product places certain store names before they blow up, like in Thor, and the big city alien invasion from The Avengers.  Also….being a Whovian   I couldn’t help but be reminded of a few episodes in there too with The Master and The Doctor, not unlike Zod and Superman they are now the the last of their kind, and the ‘You Are Not Alone’ thing, also there’s a flash on the screen in one of the battles for a Utopia casino, which was also the name of the planet where The Doctor met Professor Yana, (Yana as in You Are Not Alone, a.k.a. The Master), which may have been an Easter Egg to something from the Superman comics, but those two things instantly made me think Doctor Who reference.  

 Speaking of Easter Eggs and  references, there are a lot to be found for clever eyed comics fans, a cameo from Carol Ferris from the Green Lantern stories, a Wayne Enterprises logo on a sattelite, and oh, also, the movie seems to have taken a play out of the latest Spider Man reboot, with not starting the new franchise off with the lead businessman arch villain (Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in Spider-Man) or Lex Luthor here, in fact we don’t even see Lex anywhere, but you see LexCorp, his company, in a lot of places throughout the film, so you can bet we’ll be seeing him in a future installment.

  All in all, despite some weak minor character development, this movie in my book kept me going from start to finish, and as it stands it’s currently tied for my favorite summer movie so far with Star Trek Into Darkness.  If you’re a comic fan or just love good fun summer movies, you should definitely check out Man of Steel, and I can gaurantee you will have a great time.  

 

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Awesome or Awful? : Reviews of Now You See Me, and After Earth

So far this weekend, I’ve had the opportunity to see the two big movies that have been released,  ‘Now You See Me‘,  the magician heist movie from Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans *2010) and now I just saw ‘After Earth‘, the new movie starring Will and Jaden Smith, and directed by M.Night Shamylan.   Which one is more deserving, if any, of your dollars? Well let’s just read on and find out.

I’ll do Now You See Me first, since that was the first movie I saw, yesterday.  The movie is about a group of four street magicians, played by Jesse Eisenberg(The Social Network, Zombieland), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, The Hunger Games), Dave Franco(21 Jump Street, Scrubs ), and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), who are brought together in a magician super team by a mysterious unseen fifth individual.    Cut to a year later, when the group, now called The Four Horsemen, are now attempting their grandest tricks ever, a three act mega trick, that robs from the rich and gives to the poor. 

 And in doing so they run afoul of the FBI, who sets Agent Dylan Rhodes (played by Mark Ruffalo of The Avengers) on his case, along with a French Interpol agent, played by Inglorious Basterds‘ Melanie Laurent.  The movie is a fun, cat and mouse game, full of clever dialogue, plot twists, and magic tricks that even the audience actually believes in until they are explained.  

Also involved are Michael Caine in a small role as Arthur Tressler, the businessman who at first funds the magic quartet, only to be scammed by them later on, and Morgan Freeman, as a former magician who now sets out to expose magicians as the fakers that they truly are in his television show. 

I have to say I really enjoyed this movie, it was fast paced, funny, and it makes you care about the characters, and it keeps you guessing the entire time.   If I could sum the movie up in a twitter friendly review it’d be that it’s Lucky Number Slevin meets The Prestige, and it’s an odd coincedence that the movie features actors from both of those films as well.    I’ll give this one four out of five stars, and this is the movie that you should be spending your money on, if you see any of the weekend’s new releases at all.  

 Now on to After Earth….well, guess I spoiled that one for you early, in what I thought of the quality of this latest M Night Shamylan…movie.   Now this movie I was actually really looking forward to seeing until about a few days ago when I found out who the director was.  The studio was wise to keep his name off the marketing, as it would seem that the director’s best days are behind him yet still.  In my opinion he hasn’t had a good movie since 2003’s Signs.   

 In any rate, After Earth stars the father and son duo of Will and Jaden Smith, playing…what else, father and son, in a far off future, not really specified as to the time of it, just that it’s been about 1000 years since humanity left earth because we had destroyed it for living conditions, and found new life in the stars.   Of course, when humanity landed on the planet they ran afoul of the aliens living there, who we never see, but they set loose their beasts, these blind, fear smelling beasts to kill humanity, until Will Smith’s character discovers a way to not feel fear at all, and he Daredevil’s his way into killing them.  

 It would seem that that’s not that big a stretch for his character, who doesn’t seem to have any emotion whatsoever, either that or Will Smith (even though he wrote the damn story) didn’t want to be making this movie either.    So we cut to later on, and Jaden Smith has failed out of becoming a Ranger like his father.  In an effort to bond father and son, Will decides to take Jaden with him on his next interstellar voyage.    Then something happens, causing the ship to crash on earth.  

Now, it’s a survival story, Will and Jaden are the only survivors, but Will’s legs are broken, and has to stay behind, so it’s up to Jaden Smith to overcome his fears, and get the neccessary beacon from the wreckage, which is conveniently located a nice life lesson building journey away  from their location.  

 That’s enough summary right there.  This was one of the worst movies I’ve ever, ever seen.  Will Smith pretty much phones this whole movie in, as it seems this is his way of letting his son take center stage, and carry on the tradition…or whatever.   And his son isn’t that bad an actor, but the movie doesn’t let him do anything other than be whiny and afraid, and angry, which brought to mind thoughts of Anakin in the Star Wars prequels.     

The special effects are horrible as well, I’ve seen better effects in certain episodes of Doctor Who than I have in this big budget motion picture.   No wonder their ship couldn’t make it, I thought as Jaden Smith gets to the wreckage, the ship’s made of balsa wood and styrofoam.  Also, plot logic, which I can forgive sometimes, is just way too many holes for me.  

1.  so, everything on the planet has evolved to kill mankind, (in a revenge scheme for nearly ruining the planet?), or so Will Smith tells his son before he sets off on his journey.  But nothing really seems to have evolved, animals are still the same, except for the snake that flew or whatever for a second.   I would assume after 1000 years of forced evolution, that some kind of sentient being would have evolved from that, or something cool looking.   Also, I’m pretty sure they ripped the scene in the Eagle’s nest and the tiger off the opening of Disney’s Tarzan movie.  I’m almost certain on that.

2. They’ve ‘invented’ tech that allows their suits to glide along the air like Batman, or hang gliders, or whatever, and can communicate with each other, but nothing for temperature variations to keep them warm in cool climates?  Though, the color change, “Hey kid, it’s freaking cold outside” variant of Jaden Smith’s suit looked like a cross between 1982’s Tron and Michael Jackson’s Captain EO outfit.  

Those are just the two big things that really bugged me….no wait also, going back to the animals have evolved to kill us thing…why weren’t the whales attacking the ship as it flew over them at the end of the movie? Seriously.  

 Still, the movie was not as bad as ‘The Last Airbender‘, but only a step above that.  I’d rather watch ‘Van Helsing‘, and ‘Van Wilder: Rise of Taj’ on an endless loop, whilst being kidnapped by a creeper who lives in a van, down by the river, than even think of this movie again after putting these words to pap…er…..screen.   Terrible movie…I wash my hands of thee.

 

So, there you have it folks, one awesome movie, and one awful movie.   Til next time, be sure to keep it Reel.

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