Captain Marvel: It’s a “Lose/Lose” Situation

So Marvel’s Captain Marvel releases this weekend, and I think it goes without saying that..this one’s a controversy. The film tells the story of Carol Danvers, a stoic, witty, and occasionally sarcastic heroine. All things that we’d assume would make for an interesting protagonist, right? Well, let’s pause for just a moment. We all know that this is not Marvel’s first rodeo when it comes to telling origin stories. Hell, we’ve seen well over a dozen at this point. They’ve cracked an immaculate formula with characters like Tony Stark (Downey), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), and the most recent, the Black Panther himself (Chadwick Boseman). Now all three of these have something in common. They’re men? NO! No, damn it. They’re extremely likable characters. In 2017, Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot brought us a character to the big screen we know and love called “Wonder Woman”. She brought charisma, she brought bravery, but above all else, she gave us a reason to invest in her. She commanded the screen, stealing every frame she was in. Throughout the majority of the MCU franchise, we’ve seen characters such as Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Valkyrie, and so many more deliver powerful performances in their roles. But here in 2019, something about Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel just simply doesn’t do it for me. The script, while not boring by any stretch, feels like it plays it all too safe in many regards. It delivers a handbag (or two) of cheeky 90’s callbacks, some clever banter between Samuel L. Jackson and Larson (which, in my opinion, saves a lot of Larson’s truly boring screen presence), and a fairly cool villain and action sequences. But the bottom line is this..Captain Marvel never SOLD me. You see, what makes a hero/heroine just that, is two fold. On one hand, they’re beautifully powerful, and awesome beyond belief. But on the other? They’re relatable. They are compelling, and feel of this earth. They drive the motion picture they’re in, and demand your full attention. Sadly, Larson just didn’t do that for me. I know this isn’t the last we will see of this character, and for the sake of the MCU as a whole, I truly pray she grows into the character. Not only for her sake, but for Endgame and beyond. For decent story, cheeky 90’s nostalgia, and overall a mediocre lead, I give Captain Marvel a 5.5/10. Oh, remember when I said this one was controversial? That’s because apparently if I’m a white male, I’m not allowed to say I “dislike” anything female led in 2019. Despite the fact that last year’s Annihilation (damn near all women) was my favorite movie of the year. I digress. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you guys enjoy this one in theaters.

Peep, out 👋🏼


Alita: Battle Angel. The one I REALLY didn’t want to prove me right..

So Alita: Battle Angel has its US release this weekend, but my fiancé and I had the “luxury” of sliding into an early screening last night. For those like myself who actually didn’t have a clue that this content was based on a previously existing Manga serious titled “Gunnm” I feel like knowing the source material prior to my first sitting would’ve better prepared me for what I was in for; hopefully? But what I did get, was a visual spectacle, and not much else. While many (self included) hoped Alita would floor us with its visuals, and woo us with performances from the likes of Christoph Waltz and possibly lead Rosa Salazar, what we end up with here is an almost “muddied” attempt at several different things. We see tonal inconsistencies ranging from: one second we’re a heartfelt father/daughter film, another we’re almost “gory” (blue blood, it was weird to see) high-tenacity action anime film. And don’t get me wrong, in some films, both of these can be pulled off. But when it comes to Alita: Battle Angel, Robert Rodriguez and company bite off much more than they can chew. In its 2 hour run time, the film tries being both an origin story and an attempt to draw in what feels like several sequel possibilities. Does it looks pretty? Most definitely. Does it sound pretty? Sure, I’d say so. Does it feel like a quality product because of those two things? Most certainly not. And I’ve gotta say it; despite its $200 million dollar budget (you heard that right) I can’t honestly tell you I recommend you checking this one out. For throwing an arsenal of visual magic in your face with damn near nothing else to support it, Alita: Battle Angel gets a 4.5/10 from me. Thanks as always for reading,

Peep, out👋🏼

LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Is everything STILL awesome?

So I think it has to be said early on, and without any hesitancy, that 2014’s The Lego Movie was one of my favorite films of the year. It brought humor. It brought incredible design. But better yet? It felt absolutely original. The fact that the movie had a beautiful story, awesome soundtrack, AND an amazing script? I mean cmon, what more do we want in an animated film? Well, that’s just the thing; we want more of that. We need animated films like Inside Out and Wreck-It-Ralph and The Lego Movie to come along and really shake things up in the genre that is “popular” animated film. So did LEGO 2 make that mark? No, no I don’t think so. But, I have several reasons why.

LEGO 2 comes out of the gate just as pretty as it’s predecessor with off the wall visuals and the always awesome Chris Pratt as the film’s still protagonist, Emmet. While the sequel loses the talents of Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson respectively, it most definitely doesn’t suffer in terms of dialogue from Elizabeth Banks and the almost too talkative Will Arnett (love hate relationship with this guy). It does a fantastic job of bringing something so vibrant, and so ridiculously colorful that I couldn’t imagine a single child in the theater wasn’t grinning ear to ear; but sadly, this one did all-too-little for the adults I saw in the room. See, what I think happened to LEGO 2 is what I’ve called “The Hangover” formula. You make a movie that feels amazingly fresh, and undeniably classic; and then you’re stuck following up to it. So, what do they do? They make a sequel. They make a sequel with a plot almost scarily similar to the original. They take little risk, they stick to what worked, and they just do more of it (looking at you, Michael Bay). But more often than not, this leaves LEGO 2 feeling stale. It left it feeling uneventful, and just simply not as entertaining as Part 1. THIS is what I feel Phil Lord and Christopher Miller may have done here for round 2- let’s go with more of what we think worked, even if it means a little too much “Awesome”. Alright Peep, so is it a bad movie? No, I don’t think so. Is it anywhere near as good or as enticing as its original? Nope. It sure isn’t.

Anyways, thank you guys as always for reading.

Peep, out 👋🏼

Aquaman: It Broke a Billion Dollars… Let’s Talk About Why

So just before Christmas, DC delivered to the world, “Aquaman” in all of its Momoan glory. Coming into the superhero league as the 6th installment in the DCEU (DC Extended Universe), Jason Momoa and company had quite big shoes to fill. Following the previous year’s release “Justice League”, DC has been off their heels with delivering a mixed bag of goods to their fan base in the last 3 years. We see 2016’s “Suicide Squad” do more than ok at the box office, but become a near write off by critics. In that same year we get our hands on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. With a budget of round about 300+ million dollars, the film only managed to rake in around 106 mil. Ouch, right? And just a few months later, they release their heroine; “Wonder Woman”. Despite its predecessors, Wonder Woman and company swooned the box office and, to some, maybe even felt like DC’s much needed saving grace. Then what felt like only 15 minutes or so later, the quickly formed superhero team is rag-tagged together to join in DC’s “Justice League”; and to only a handful’s surprise, it became an unfortunate box office bomb. And now, here comes Aquaman. Behind the trail of misfit box office buddies, Aquaman just so happens to change their game. Get ready for a lengthy one.

Directed by Saw and Furious 7 director, James Wan, the film is what is easily in my opinion the prettiest DCEU film to date. The set piece building, the world design, and the overall visuals of this film truly hit new highs for the studio, and credit to where credit is due on the ever-so charming performance of Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa. This guy is the quirky, arrogant, and sly bad ass you want him to be, and channels an almost “Tony Stark” level of likability. The supporting cast of DaFoe, Kidman, and Amber Heard all do what feels like an at least decent job with what’s given, plus an honorable mention to the often too stoic Patrick Wilson as the film’s villain. However, what I was most pleasantly surprised by in this film was actually a “side” villain played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Greatest Showman) in the role of Black Manta. But to be fair, it’s also with him that the film’s problems start to stumble in. Not too long in, we realize that even after an insanely cool entrance, (spoilers ahead) Black Manta won’t be sticking around for much. He comes in just as the “side” antagonist, with what only sets him up for a sequel down the road. The subsequent missteps for Aquaman start to become visible all too soon, with cheeky dialogue, haphazard script-writing, and what ends up feeling like a 25ish minute too long runtime (although I must admit, the film’s final 30 minutes might just be it’s best).

So, why did people love it? I’ll tell you why. Aquaman brought something that it’s forefather (or mother?) Wonder Woman delivered a year and some change earlier; a pulse. We’re presented characters with likable traits, with heart-touching backgrounds, all with meaning and weight. Do some of them happen to come packaged with poor, and somewhat tedious banter? Yes, yes they do. Does the movie ultimately kind of feel like watching a Saturday morning Hasbro cartoon? Yes, yes it does. And to the majority, that’s ok. See Aquaman isn’t here to please the Marvel fanboys like me who walk into every DC release praying for the next Dark Knight Rises. No, it’s here for the people in the theater here to 1. Watch superheroes do badass superhero things, and 2. To Watch Jason Momoa take his shirt off. For a beautiful visual design, great lead performance, and altogether muddy script, Aquaman gets a 6.9/10 for me. Thanks for reading, everybody.

Peep, out👋🏼

(Oh and just one more thing! A good friend of mine by the name of Greg Laborie dropped a shout out to my blog this week, and it’s only right we do the same here. Please do yourselves a favor and check he and his crew out on “The Awesome Village” podcast, where they drop a weekly hour or so of content on anything media you can think of. From comics, to TV, to pop culture, you’ll hear it all.)

Glass: A Split Audience, an Unbreakable McAvoy

So to kick things off, I’d like to throw my two cents down on the latest trip to the theater..and this one’s for M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass”. Glass comes out of the gate with a lot of weight on its shoulders, right? We’re now closing up a nearly 20 year old trilogy and bringing together an ensemble cast of Willis, Jackson, and McAvoy; an absolute powerhouse of a cast. So the first act of the film kicks off strong, and we’re re-introduced to a very hardened, and seemingly defeated version of David Dunn (Bruce Willis). We’re almost immediately clued in to the fact that his motive in this movie is to pursue the recently discovered “Beast”, (McAvoy) and to hopefully halt him from another round of teenage girl kidnappings (and who the Hell knows what else). With what was in my opinion an extremely strong start, Glass delivers rich dialogue, engaging character development, and more absolutely flawless talent from McAvoy. I mean seriously, can we please stop for a second and appreciate this guy’s versatility? Shyamalan has him shifting from persona to persona within a take, with absolutely no break in shot, and he crushes it. Performances from Willis and Jackson don’t hesitate to fall suit, however, with an honorable mention needed from the always engaging Sarah Paulson. Well damn it, Peep, the critics BASHED this one; what the Hell went wrong? Let’s talk about it.

As the second act starts to unfold, Shyamalan dives into territory that feels not only a bit overzealous, but takes Glass into a world building process that (possibly) goes too deep over its head. We see character arcs that are beautiful, intense, and flaringly dramatic. But here’s the problem..without going too into spoilers, Glass transcends from being a conclusion to a character piece, to a universe that feels much bigger than what we’re given on screen. It delivers a final act that bites off what many are saying is just too much to chew; and in some sense, I agree. So what are my thoughts? Well, I honestly really enjoyed it. Glass has talent on screen that we honestly just don’t get much of in the genre, at least without breaking often for high-budget explosives and an overdone contemporary soundtrack. Where powerhouses like Marvel and DC give us superheroes with heart and spectacle, it feels damn good to see a group of “villains” take center stage. Score- 7.8 out of 10, for flawless acting, character development, and just a pinch of “oh come on, Shyamalan”. See you next time.

Peep, out👋🏼

At Long Last

What’s up, everybody. So today on 1/22/2019, I take a leap that I probably (most definitely) should have taken, eh, several years ago? Anyway, Peep This Review is my way of finally taking my passion for film critiquing to the web, in a way that’s hopefully both insightful and honest. Having at one point gone to college “thinking” I’d study film, I quickly realized film wasn’t meant to be my day job; it was meant to be my hobby. And unlike possibly the majority, I never want my hobby and my work day to be one in the same (he says somewhat confidently?). What I hope to deliver to you guys is a weekly contribution of a short and sweet movie review, whether currently in theaters or from your neighborhood Red Box. This will be a huge learning experience for me, but one I do truly feel like I can’t let get away. Your first review lands this weekend. Thanks for hanging out,