John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Guns..LOTS of guns

So it took a few weeks, but someone finally de-throned Endgame at the weekend box office. Yep, you guessed it. It was John Wick. Here to follow up from 2017’s John Wick: Chapter 2, Reeves and company set out to deliver their biggest visual spectacle yet. Question is, did they succeed? Let’s talk.

To those who are caught up on the franchise and walked into Parabellum post seeing Ch 2, then you’ll remember quite well that John ended up in a bit of a pickle. This story, quite entirely, is him dealing with said pickle. The film opens just minutes after the conclusion of the second and it truly, seriously, never lets up. The fighting sequences and hand-to-hand combat in these films have always been unbelievable, but the team here in Parabellum really top themselves in every way. This chapter in the Wick franchise is easily the most violent we’ve seen to date.

But outside of the “spectacle”, what else is on offer here? Well, here’s the reality; not much. You see in this series we’re given very nuanced characters and very cliche writing, and you get to a point where you have to come to accept that. My issue with JW3 was not that it wasn’t “unbelievable” because truly, it isn’t believable. My issue with it is that the moment you put your brain on for just a fraction of a frame, you understand the true ridiculous nature of what isn’t in the spectacle. Silly dialogue, tedious character introductions, and an over-extended runtime often made Parabellum feel like that lengthy workout you keep checking the time on.

The bottom line on this one is simple. When we purchase a ticket for a Tyler Perry film, we know what we’re paying for. When we purchase a ticket to a low budget horror film, we know what we’re paying for. And when we buy our ticket to Parabellum, it’s damn certain we know what we’re paying for. The film is packed with beautiful sets, more than impressive fight sequences and it’s loaded with eye candy; but that’s where it stops. If you’re looking for story or “good character writing”, this isn’t your flick. Wanna see Keanu Reeves kick some ass and take no prisoners? I thought so. For all it does bring to the table and accounting for all it doesn’t, I give John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum a 7.8/10. Thanks as always for reading.

Peep, out👋🏼


Detective Pikachu: First stop, Memory Lane

When I originally saw the trailer for Detective Pikachu, I wasn’t entirely sure how to feel. My gut instinct? No, please don’t make Pikachu speak. And then I watched it again, and again, and again, and it never did grow on me. The thought of a Pokémon “live action world” sounded like manipulating so many awesome childhood memories in ways that, to be quite honest, I didn’t want. But here we are, summer of 2019, and Pikachu speaks; and he sounds a lot like Ryan Reynolds.

This film tells the story of Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) as he partners with the most unlikely of partners, (you guessed it) Pikachu in solving the mystery of his father’s recent disappearance. Now, as I said in the open, I was not a proponent of Pikachu talking whatsoever. But I’ll come right out and say it, what Ryan Reynolds was able to do in this “role” was some of the best entertainment you might see in a children’s movie. But why? Well, have you ever wondered what Deadpool might sound/act like if he entered a kid’s movie but kept the same level of sly satire? If so, you’ve bagged yourself Detective Pikachu.

Now, this isn’t to say that Reynolds and the furry yellow guy were enough to carry the entire film; because they couldn’t quite do it alone. What boosts this one so far along for me is simple- Pikachu was one of the most beautiful trips down memory lane I’ve had since Toy Story 3. The relatability you’re able to feel to Tim, struggling to “pick” his first (or only) Pokémon. Witnessing Pokémon you’ve been familiar with from the first generation, all the way up to current. Being able to see this largely imaginary, yet beautiful world brought to the big screen was simply not the distaste I thought it’d be. It was beautiful, it was cheeky, and yet by no means was it without its flaws. Detective Pikachu delivers on being a massive train ride of nostalgia, suited only in my opinion for those who grew up adoring this franchise.

While the plot does get largely chaotic in its final act, the “fun factor” stays with you all the while. Is this an introduction to more in this same “genre” of Pokémon films? Honestly, I personally don’t think I’d mind at all. For its charm, Reynolds’ wit and a beautiful world-build, Detective Pikachu lands a 7.5/10 from me. Thanks a ton for reading. As always,

Peep, Out👋🏼

The Intruder: The “so-bad-it’s-good” kindof ride

So The Intruder opened this past weekend, following up an absolute blockbuster of what was (and still is) the Avengers:Endgame box office fireworks show. This Intruder/thriller flick comes in with a story of freshly married couple Scott and Annie Howard (played by Michael Ealy and Meagan Good respectively) who purchase an estate from one Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid). As the trailer quite obviously gives away, Quaid quite quickly becomes our “intruder”. And soon as he does, things get sloppy..let’s talk about why.

You know those movies that we cringingly watch, knowing damn well they’re not “good”? The kind where the dialogue and the script are so all over the place that it becomes a little funny? Insert, “The Intruder”. There are certain scenes where music is played between edits really out of place, and others where we see one of the leads do something crazy laughable under their given circumstances. In the thriller/intruder horror genre in general, we all know that we’ll find ourselves in a “girl, just call the cops!” or a “seriously, you didn’t think about that first?” kind of moment. This is quite simply because to make a horror/intruder-style film work, you need to have yourself some semi-idiots. This isn’t to say the two leads don’t do a decent job, because they honestly do ok. If I can be blunt, I think the team on this one spent more time on building designer outfits for Meagan Good than they did focusing on the script itself. But hey, all this isn’t to say The Intruder wasn’t fun; because as the title suggests, it’s truly “so bad it’s good”. Dennis Quaid plays an extremely convincing sociopath villain, the side characters are at least interesting, and the setting really fits the desired mood. Yet, for the most part, I honestly found myself laughing at this one much more than being “thrilled” by it. That said, the review. For a predictable plot, tedious pacing and a tub of “screw it, it was honestly an entertaining crap movie” I give It a 5.5/10. You won’t remember this one next year, but don’t worry..there will always be more just like it. Thanks for hanging out and reading,

Peep, out 👋🏼

Avengers: Endgame.

Before I go into anything at all on this film, I have to say this. I gave some thought as to whether I would do a “spoiler free” review, or just dive in headfirst having to spill the beans on damn near everything. I’ve decided that for the sake of discussion, we can’t talk about this one without getting lightly into spoiler territory, but I do my best not to say much. But with that said, there’s no reason at all not to be careful. This is your moment: LEAVE NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS FILM! With that out of the way, let’s begin.

The summer of my 8th grade year in junior high school, my dad and I took a trip to the theater to watch a movie about a superhero I (at the time) knew very little about. This trip was for a movie called Iron Man; and let me just tell you, it changed everything for me. This was a new type of cinematic experience for me. See not only was it an incredible stand-alone story, but it was a building block for something so much bigger than itself. Those building blocks grew stronger and stronger with the likes of Captain America (2011), and again with Thor that exact same year. It was potently clear that we were all about to be a part of something extraordinary, and something that would span the course of the several years. 11 years, to be exact. And that leads us to now-the Endgame.

Avengers:Endgame showcases our survivors of last year’s Infinity War snap in their best effort to rewrite history, for better or worse. We see characters coping with loss, with sense of failure, and some with just simply a tireless urge to bring back those fallen. Particularly noteworthy in their performances I would say would be Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, who may have finally truly “sunk in” to the ever-so light and likable Scott Lang. Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner) gets what appears to be his longest screen time yet in Avengers film, which does absolutely nothing but pay off. However, the real show stealers in my opinion were our original trio: Cap, Thor, and Tony Stark.

We have all been on this beautiful, amazing ride with these characters for 11 years, and what I watched last night (and again today) was the pinnacle of story-telling for these characters. Tony Stark, Steve Rogers and company are showcased in their absolute prime here facing challenges of love lost, love found, and the importance of friendship and family. 11 years ago this coming week we all began this amazing character piece with them, and it’s with damn good reason that we end it with them. I could easily carry on about this movie for what could probably be pages on end, and maybe one day I might; but for now, let me give you a legitimate “review”.

As a kid, I’d watch tv shows with massive finales and crazy spectacles and showdowns. Those shows were cartoons, and had fake blood and characters could be replaced or “rebooted” at a moments notice. Never real people, never seemingly “real” consequence. What the Russo brothers and Marvel Studios were able to deliver with this team of incredible talent, for the last 11 years, was knit so seamlessly to perfection in this 3 hour spectacle. Pacing feels strange at times in the first and second act, but it’s simply for the satisfying payoff of nostalgia (I won’t get into that here, but wow what a damn good job). Visuals are astounding, the character banter and script are a total blast, and some character arcs in particular are flat out hilarious. What about fight scenes? I may be being bold here, but roughly the last 50 minutes of this film is already truly my favorite last act of any movie I’ve ever seen on the big screen; in my life. But it must go without saying that this movie will hold a special place in mine, and many others’ hearts for another reason altogether. It holds the place of being “the finale”.

It is both an ending, and a new beginning. It is both beautiful, and devastating. Both tremendously sad, and unbelievably peaceful. For taking the challenge of being one of the most important movies of my generation and tackling it with grace, courage and no barres held, Avengers:Endgame flies right over my typical 1-10 scale. I loved it 3000. Thanks for reading, and I hope you loved this experience as much as I did.

Peep, out👋🏼

Shazam! Is it DC’s “Deadpool”?

What’s up, everybody! Sorry it’s been a bit since my last review, it’s been a little bit of time since I’ve made it to the theater. But, here we are with 2019’s eagerly anticipated, “Shazam!”. For those of us not so comically inclined, Shazam! is based off of the DC Comics character of the same name, who by means of a very strange and mystical occurrence, goes from boy to hero in a rather unique way. Shazam‘s lead, Billy Batson, is played dually by both Asher Angel and Zachary Levi in a story driven by Billy’s desire to both 1. Find his place in a world without a family, and 2. Become the world’s most kickass teenager/ superhero. The film takes us on both an emotional, and extremely comically driven adventure as Billy and his newly-met foster brother Freddy (played by “It”s Jack Dylan Grazer) tag team the process of Billy becoming a superhero without their foster parents getting in the way. Or, at least that’s the goal.

Along the way performances from Mark Strong as the film’s villain and the always fun to watch Djimon Honsou as an ancient wizard are a delight, and help tip the scales back a bit from the often overly light-hearted tone of the film. To be quite honest, I think the “light-heartedness” of Shazam! quickly became what drew me to it least. We know going into this movie that it’s going to be a comedy, that it’s going to be silly, and that it’s hopefully going to do at least one thing- entertain. And it does does do that, believe me. It just lacks any major “WOW” factor.

See back in 2016, a movie called Deadpool came into the world by storm. With an R rating, an over the top amount of action and gore and comedy that would have you laughing for minutes at a time, this movie delivered in ways that I had never seen a “superhero” movie be able to. I wanted to watch it, rewatch it, and eventually take it home. The comedy was phenomenal, the characters were amazing, and it simply felt “original”. Granted, Shazam! and company can’t exactly drop F-bombs in a family movie and for this reason, the humor is much more PG. But the comedy itself just simply didn’t grip me. For me, this is what Shazam! fell short in. Yes, the characters had chemistry and the acting was great; but I never felt like I was being introduced to something original or fresh. In a 2019 world where superheroes can’t go a full 90 days without getting another stab at the big screen, Shazam! had to do big things to stand out for me. And to be quite honest, I don’t think it does. I may get a lot of disagreements with this review, and that’s ok. See the reason Shazam! didn’t hit the mark is despite the wonderful young cast and the at least decent script, it didn’t scratch “the itch” that I look for in an origin story. Funny? Sure, at least a bit. Ranking up there in one of my favorite DC entries at least ? Surprisingly enough, no I don’t think so. I think even with all its flaws I enjoyed Aquaman a bit more (for visual spectacle at the very least!).

To wrap, I think going into this one had I known just how “kiddish” it all would be, I would’ve realized it just wasn’t for me but for someone just a tad bit younger. And hey, that’s absolutely fine. We can’t bring the kids to see a Deadpool, but by all means I think they’d all dig Shazam!. Alright, time to wrap before I start rambling on this one. Bringing a balanced ensemble, a decent and light-hearted story but an otherwise bland origin story, Shazam! lands a 6.5/10 from me. I hope you guys love it, and until next time, thanks for reading.

Peep, out 👋🏼

Us: Welcome back, Mr. Peele.

Two years ago, Jordan Peele gave the world “Get Out“. A psychological thriller/horror that put Peele on the map as a writer + director combo not to be taken lightly. This weekend, he’s returned with that same perseverance. Us tells the story of Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’O) and husband Gabe (Winston Duke) who take their kids to the family beach house for a peaceful getaway, when suddenly, a family of four show up in the driveway. The catch? They are four identical clones of the family themselves. Now, the family will becomes tested in ways they never could’ve imagined, and the viewer is taken on a socio-economical, and psychological rollercoaster.

Us proceeds throughout its 2hr runtime to transcend boundaries of genre, and to become something much bigger than its own two feet. The direction and editing is done with such precision and detail that each and every scene is as important and as critical to the story as the last. There was actually a moment during the film where my fiancé leaned over and said, “We could pause this movie at any frame, and it would be amazing to see by itself”. This couldn’t be more true. The set pieces add such an intensity to the story, and each and every actor/actress brings it all to the table. Lupita Nyong’o has delivered a performance(s) here in Us that not only will be career-changing for her in its showcase, but is bound to net her a few nominations. Jordan Peele’s “Us” is the absolute pinnacle for movie-goers. You walk into this curious, hopeful, and possibly a bit afraid. But you walk out of it thinking, thinking again, and thinking out loud. The film is a thriller, it is a horror, and its roots lie as deep as historical American culture. If there has been absolutely any contention that Jordan Peele is not the rising thriller-king of this generation, rest assured there will be no more contention after Us. For unbelievable performances, masterful writing and visuals/soundtrack that won’t let me sleep tonight, Us gets an extremely rare 10/10 for me. See it, and see it again. Step aside, Captain Marvel; Mr. Peele is back. Thanks for reading as always,

Peep, out👋🏼

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.)