All posts by acd.05

Ranking the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe)

So far, there have been 16 movies in the MCU, or Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Spider-Man: Homecoming just having come out in July. This is a ranking of all 16 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

16) Iron Man 2– Even if you’re a HUGE Iron Man fan like me, don’t watch Iron Man 2: it’s boring, unentertaining, has a weak villain, and only has one really good fight scene. 2.5/5

15) The Incredible Hulk– The Incredible Hulk has a few impressive action sequences, but it lacks humor, the fun elements of other Marvel movies, and major connections to the rest of the Marvel Universe. If you’re new to the Hulk character, and want a decent origin story, watch The Incredible Hulk. 3/5

14) Thor: the Dark World– Thor: the Dark World is an awesome movie. The Dark World has some really funny moments, as well as breathtaking action and special effects. It shows the audience more of Loki, and his chemistry with Thor is one of the best parts of the movie. Overall, Thor: the Dark World is an entertaining movie worth watching. 3.5/5

13) Thor– Thor wouldn’t have been this far down on the list if it hadn’t been for all the other Marvel movies. Don’t get me wrong, Thor is awesome- the action’s great, it’s pretty funny, and the special effects are amazing- but it’s not as good as some of the more recent additions to the MCU. 4/5

12) Captain America: the First Avenger– The First Avenger is a great movie, although not as good as it sequel, the Winter Soldier. It has some funny moments, spectacular action, and likable characters. However, it does start a little slow.  It also boasts a strong performance on the part of Chris Evans. If you like Captain America and want a good story packed with action and humor, watch the First Avenger. 4/5

11) Avengers: Age of Ultron– Age of Ultron is definitely not as good as its predecessor, but is still pretty good. It has amazing special effects, awesome fight sequences, and is pretty funny. But it is also overstuffed and and the romance between Bruce Banner (Hulk) and Black Widow is hard to watch and terrible. While the villain may seem a little generic,  James Spader is great as Ultron. For die hard fans, Age of Ultron will please, but probably not as much for casual fans. 4/5

10) Iron Man– The one that started off all the MCU movies and created the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist we’ve all come to know and love. And it is a pretty good movie. It serves as a great origin story for Iron Man ( ’cause let’s be honest, who knew about “Iron Man” until 2008?), provided really good action, and was pretty funny. It also picked the PERFECT person to play Tony Stark: Robert Downey Jr.- could we now imagine anyone else playing him? Looking at it now, it may not seem as great as all the new ones, but it was quite original in 2008. 4.5/5

9) Ant-Man– In spite of its silly concept, Ant-Man turned out to be a wonderful Marvel movie, different from the norm that the Avengers set. Yet it’s still full of humor, action, and dazzling special effects that’ll prove this unique Marvel movie is up to par with the rest of them. Ant-Man isn’t only a superhero movie, it’s also a heist movie- Ant-Man has to steal a similar suit from his mentor’s rival who will use it for evil (yes, I am aware that sound almost identical to the first Iron Man, but there is still a bunch separating it from Iron Man). Paul Rudd also provides a great everyman performance as Scott Lang, an ordinary thief who becomes a superhero. Ant-Man is one of the best Marvel movies that is definitely worth watching. 4.25/5

8) Doctor Strange– This movie just proves that Marvel hasn’t lost their hot streak in 8 years because, wow, it is good! Doctor Strange may follow a similar formula to Iron Man and story to Iron Man, but it definitely feels fresh throughout. Doctor Strange has amazing character development, and acting by, well, the whole cast! And the visuals…The visuals in Doctor Strange warrant it the best-looking Marvel movie ever, and it explores the more…mystical and magical realm of the MCU. Its action bounces off these visuals and is…different, to say the least, than the rest of the Marvel movies. Finally, its score is amazing and it has humor and comic relief sprinkled throughout, that hits at all the right moments. 4.25/5

7) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- Guardians Vol. 2 is fantastic. The first movie being the intergalactic, heartwarming delight that it was, there were some pretty high expectations going into this.  Guardians 2 meets those expectations for sure: it doubles up on what we loved about the first one, including its action, comedy, dazzling visuals, intriguing characters, and heart, but also tries something new. Guardians takes each of its characters and gives them an arc, exploring their distinct backstories and dynamics. Baby Groot is just…aagh, SO CUTE, and the movie packs the biggest, most impactful emotional punch yet in the MCU.  Kurt Russell is spectacular as Ego, Star-Lords father, and also, that soundtrack.  However, the plot is messy and you don’t really know what the overall purpose is until the end of the second act: it lacks urgency and can get choppy at times. 4.25/5

6) Iron Man 3– Iron Man 3 is a truly spectacular movie. It’s an entertaining movie full of action, special effects, wit, and humor. Iron Man 3 not only shows  the suit in action: it shows Tony Stark without his suit of armor, which some say worsens the movie, but I think actually betters it: it’s not all about the suit, but about what Stark would do without it. One down, though, was that the twist on the villain was smart, but disappointing. Iron Man 3 is a funny, smart, well-acted, and action-packed Marvel movie, and considerably one of the best. 4.35/5

5) Spider-Man: Homecoming- The movie that brought Spider-Man back to Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming not only gave us the best version of Spidey ever put to screen, but also hysterical comedy, great action, and awesome characters. Spider-Man: Homecoming has the classic high school feel of a John Hughes movie, but doesn’t skimp on the CGI action. It has great, interesting characters, but never ceases being entertaining. It has a charismatic, believable performance from Tom Holland, but also a surprising, engaging plot. And Peter Parker’s best friend, Ned was pretty great as well. It might have some low stakes and a tad too many characters (not to mention the spoilery trailers), but those are minor gripes on an otherwise fantastic movie. 4.5/5

4) Captain America: the Winter Soldier- Many have called it the greatest Marvel movie of all time. And it is truly an AMAZING movie. Its plot is great, it’s action is some of the best we’ve seen from a Marvel movie, and it has a huge plot twist that is actually permanent, unlike some other superhero movies. It’s thrilling and always keeps you on your toes. It even has lots of humor to lighten the mood when it gets dark. Also, Chris Evans gives a great performance as Cap, who has a hard time accepting the world as it is today. 5/5

3) Guardians of the Galaxy– The movie that everyone, including myself, were skeptical about, with characters that literally no one knew. It actually turned out to be AWESOME! There’s a certain magic to seeing Guardians for the first time, and that retains even on repeat viewings. Guardians is probably tied for funniest MCU movie with Ant-Man, and had moments that made me laugh out loud. It embraces its Marvel movie core, with huge CGI battles, and great special effects, and has a ton heart. Its characters were unique, likable, and hilarious, with some of them being a walking tree and a machine gun-wielding raccoon (yes, those are actual movie characters). It provided us with a new tone for Marvel movies, being more of a space opera movie, and I truly love this movie. Guardians of the Galaxy is a really good movie that, despite all doubts, will entertain you for a good two hours. 5/5

2) The Avengers– The Avengers is a movie for fans of all Marvel superheroes- whether it’s Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, or Black Widow. It managed to bring the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes together without being overstuffed. Its acting as well is really strong. The cast and their chemistry is a major highlight of the movie. It also has a strong story, and a great villain, unlike other MCU entries.  It’s super funny, has awesome large-scale special effects and action, a great cast, and is the second best MCU movie yet. 5/5

1) Captain America: Civil War– The movie that all the others have been building up to since The Avengers. And Civil War definitely delivers.  It is action-packed, contains one of the best fights in the MCU- the airport fight- and has lots of humor throughout. Newcomers Spider-Man and Black Panther are wonderful, and the first adds great comic relief.  Even the villain, Helmut Zemo, was pretty strong and had believable motivations. This movie basically hits every spot, with well-developed characters, a smart plot, great action, staying light-hearted, and going into darker ideas. Not to mention the fantastic acting from the entire cast, that really brings out each characters motivations. 5/5

That’s my ranking of the MCU movies, but what’s yours? Tell your opinion in the comments section below.

Spider-Man: Homecoming- Movie Review

Credit: Marvel Studios

What is it about?                                                                                                                     After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is back at high school. Trying to manage to still be a normal teenager, Peter wants to do more than just be a neighborhood Spider-Man as The Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges, causing trouble as a threat towards Spidey.

How is it? 8.9/10                                                                                                     Spider-Man: Homecoming is a sensational movie that not only does justice to the character, but provides the audience with a truly entertaining experience.

Credit: Marvel Studios

The Ups                                                                                                                                       Following his fantastic performance in Civil War, Tom Holland shows us that he really is Spider-Man. He is the perfect choice for the character and embodies the Spider-Man from the comics. He’s clumsy, gets excited about being a superhero, and is naive but extremely likable. Tom Holland not only looks like he’s the character, but also acts it: his role here sums up what an actual high schooler would do if put in this situation.

The comedy here really works. Homecoming is a really, really funny movie. Everyone has their comedic moments, but standouts are Peter, his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and high school outcast Michelle (Zendaya). Another thing to give the film props for is the high school element. On top of being a superhero movie, it is also a John Hughes-esque teen movie. It captures a high school feeling and shows Peter in class, with friends, and during his day-to-day life. Overall, the tone here is like a Spider-Man comic: it’s colorful, fun, funny, and hopeful!

Credit: Marvel Studios

The CGI here is truly spectacular. All the work on Spidey, Vulture, and Iron Man is amazing and assists the action. Speaking of which, the action is superbly choreographed and you get to see Spider-Man swinging around neighborhoods, using his suit and powers in special ways. There are lots of great set-pieces, and the standout for me is the Washington DC sequence glimpsed at in the trailers. It’s a fantastic mix of action, comedy, and suspense.

As far as characters go, this movie hits home. Ned, Peter’s best friend, is excellently performed by Jacob Batalon. He’s really funny and acts like a real best friend: that is, he gets excited when he finds out Peter’ secret, and pressures him with questions. Michael Keaton gives a charismatic performance as the Vulture. The character’s motivation is easy to get behind of. Additionally, the character isn’t hard to sympathize with: he’s not too strong of a villain, as he is a smaller-scale one, but entertaining nonetheless. Iron Man is used sparingly here so that he doesn’t steal the film from Spidey, which is a great thing. But when he’s on screen, you can’t deny how entertaining Downey is. Stark’s assistant Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) has a small role in the movie, which I won’t say too much about, but his use and relationship with Peter is always a delight. The bully Flash Thompson is approached differently here, as instead of a stereotypical “jock”, this time he’s snarky and mean to Parker, which was an interesting version of the character. There’s a fresh take on Aunt May as well, and Marisa Tomei gives a good performance as her.

Credit: Marvel Studios

The romance in this movie never bogs it down. It’s present, and when there are elements of it onscreen, it’s organic and plays out well. It involves Peter’s teen crush on a girl in his school named Liz (Laura Harrier), but I won’t say anything more. The plot here is not too predictable, and there are plenty of surprises and turns. The MCU connections in Homecoming are not distracting and there are some fun references to the greater universe. Spider-Man: Homecoming does deliver on emotion and has a hopeful, good-hearted Spidey.

Composed by Michael Giacchino, the score for this flick is great. It contains an awesome rendition of the classic Spider-Man theme from the 60s.

Credit: Marvel Studios

The Downs                                                                                                                      One character I didn’t love in Homecoming was Zendaya’s character Michelle. She was very one-note and sort of hung around to make sarcastic comments and mope: not to say she isn’t funny, but she is very minor and inconsequential. There are quite a few characters in this movie, some of which end up underdeveloped. Some examples of this are Michelle and Donald Glover’s mystery character who I won’t disclose the identity of here.

Another problem I had with this movie involved its marketing. Some of the trailers had been infamous for giving away some big set-pieces, and while there are surprises to be had, there was some unnecessary spoiling. There were also some really great moments that didn’t need to be hinted at in trailers.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Finally, the stakes in the movie aren’t very large. Because Spider-Man is a street-level hero, stakes are lower here, especially at the end. Even though that was the feel of the movie, it still felt a little underwhelming and made it harder to feel invested in the finale.

Overall, I loved Spider-Man: Homecoming. It delivered on everything I expected, and brought even more to the table. The story was ambitious, the film was never short on comedy, all the action was executed perfectly, and Tom Holland was the perfect Spider-Man.

Despicable Me 3- Movie Review

Despicable Me 3. Credit: Universal

What is it about?                                                                                                                     The third Despicable Me movie and the fourth in the franchise, Despicable Me 3 is about villain-turned-hero Gru, now living with his wife Lucy and three daughters Agnes, Edith, and Margo. He finds out he has a more successful twin brother, Dru, who wants to revive their family’s tradition of villainy and go on one more heist. Meanwhile,supervillain Balthazar Bratt, who was a child actor in the 80s, but got his show canceled, is on the loose.

Gru (left) next to his brother Dru (right), both voiced by Steve Carrell. Credit: Universal

How is it? 5.9/10                                                                                            Despicable Me 3 is a serviceable, mediocre fourth installment in the Despicable Me franchise that is occasionally funny, but is too formulaic and forgettable to stand out.

The Ups                                                                                                                                       This movie, as it is a comedy, does have a few funny lines. However, there is some humor that doesn’t work as well, which I will cover more in The Downs.

The animation here is great. The visual work on all of the characters is fantastic, as is the par for animated movies these days. In addition, this movie is super colorful, which goes with the sugary, light-hearted tone of it.

Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), the 80s themed villain of the movie. Credit: Universal

Like most movies in this franchise, the voice acting here is pretty good, and quite entertaining throughout the cast. Everyone has fun delivering their lines, and some characters that show this are Balthazar Bratt, voiced by Trey Parker,  who is always gleefully over-the-top, and Gru, voiced by Steve Carrell. Gru’s daughter Agnes continues to be one of the funniest characters in these movies as she deliver innocently adorable dialogue that brings laughs.

Gru (Steve Carrell) facing off against Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). Credit: Universal

This movie is also relatively fast paced and moves along briskly. This speediness seldom allows the audience to get bored.

The Downs                                                                                                                                About the humor in Despicable Me 3, a lot of it falls flat. I rarely found myself laughing, and many of the jokes just weren’t too funny. On top of this, the few good jokes were mostly given away in the trailers. The story here is quite forgettable as well. It follows the formula of the rest of the Despicable Me movies quite closely and is rarely inventive. The plot took very few risks and wasn’t that ambitious.

(Left to right): Dru and Gru (Steve Carrell) quarreling while Lucy (Kristen Wiig) is in the background. Credit: Universal

Dru, Gru’s twin brother in the film, isn’t too entertaining. He’s basically a more light-hearted version of Gru and there’s nothing about him that makes him very special. In addition, Balthazar Bratt, the villain, is nothing more than a gimmick. His character occasionally pops on screen to make an 80s reference, which the target audience probably won’t connect with and listen along to an 80s song.

Despicable Me 3 skips along from subplot to subplot to maintain the audience’s attention. There are several side stories all going on at the same time, which may seem entertaining as there is always something happening, but prevents any real exploration of a single story. None of the characters are too well developed because of this.

A Minion up to no good in prison during one of the flick’s funnier sequences. Credit: Universal

The Minions, whether you like, love them, or find them extremely annoying, have a small side role. Their role is entertaining and funny enough, but pretty inconsequential. However, this is a good thing, given that with too much screen time, they would probably distract from the movie more.

Overall, Despicable Me 3 is a generally light-hearted, well-animated flick that, besides a few funny bits, falls flat. It jumps to various different side stories when a single subplot begins to feel tired. The movie does stays fast-moving, never feeling too slow, but eventually is quite unmemorable.

Baby Driver- Movie Review

Baby Driver. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Baby Driver follows Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, a young getaway driver, who always listens to music to drown out the constant ringing in his ear from a childhood car accident. He is forced to do a job for crime mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey), alongside criminals Buddy (Jon Hamm),  Buddy’s wife Darling (Eiza González), and Bats (Jamie Foxx). Meanwhile, he has plans to run off with a waitress named Debora (Lily James) that he just met.

(Left to right): Baby (Ansel Elgort), Bats (Jamie Foxx), Darling (Eiza González) and Buddy (Jon Hamm). Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

How is it? 9.6/10                                                                                                                     Baby Driver is a phenomenal, often hilarious, action-packed movie that utilizes music in all the best ways to provide for one of the best films of the year. Just a DISCLAIMER: Baby Driver is Rated R for violence and language.

The Ups                                                                                                                                       First off, the use of music here is wonderful. Music is integral to Baby Driver, as Baby is always listening to music, so every single action or movement is carefully choreographed to the songs in the soundtrack. The entire movie is seen through this lens of Baby listening to music, which in my opinion, is really cool. By the way, the soundtrack for this movie is just great! It has lots of really good 70s and 80s songs, which are used to awesome effect in the film.

The titular character, Baby, listening to music. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

Baby Driver is directed by Edgar Wright. I’m a huge fan of all his previous work-  they are all extremely well-directed, kinetic, hilarious movies. His editing style and flair work super well in those movies and they show through here. The editing here is superb, especially during the many car chase scenes. The cinematography is very fluid and benefits the already fantastic chase sequences. This movie is so stylish. I can’t emphasize just how cool it all is: whether it’s the sharp editing or colorful characters, the film has tons of style.

Speaking of which, the characters in this and the performances behind them are great. Ansel Elgort is does really well as Baby, who is well-developed, but barely speaks. Ansel does a great job still conveying emotion, even though Baby rarely talks. Jamie Foxx has a ton of fun with his role and is delightfully crazy as Bats. Kevin Spacey has some really funny lines and gives an excellent performance, as well as Jon Hamm. The romance here works nicely. Lily James and Ansel Elgort have endless chemistry and a believable, sweet romance.

Ansel Elgort’s Baby and his crew. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

The action in Baby Driver is just spectacular. All the car chases and action set pieces are done with very little CGI, which is really impressive. These scenes are nothing short of thrilling and are some truly great car chases.

Although this film isn’t as much of a comedy as Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy or Scott Pilgrim vs the World (would highly recommend both!), it’s still a very funny movie. There are some great one-liners all around and many hilarious moments. The script is impeccable as well, boasting both lots of funny parts and emotional moments. Additionally, the emotion in this movie hit harder than I thought it would. It was very real at times, and I ended up sympathizing with characters more than I thought I would.

Baby behind the wheel, headphones plugged in. Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

The Downs                                                                                                                                If there is a single nitpick I can make with this movie, it’s the length. The movie feels just a tad bit long at the end, but it’s barely a problem.

Overall, Baby Driver is a unique, fun, stylish, and well-acted film. It has great characters, really funny lines, stylish direction from Edgar Wright, stunningly choreographed car chase scenes, and an inventive use of music. Baby Driver is one of my, if not my favorite movie of the year so far. 

Transformers: The Last Knight- Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight. Credit: Paramount

What is it about?                                                                                                                     In the fifth movie in the Transformers series, Humans and Transformers are at war. Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots (“good” Transformers) is gone. Meanwhile, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), who assisted the Autobots fight the Decepticons (“bad” Transformers) in the last movie is a fugitive. And that’s about all you need to know going into this movie.

Optimus Prime…who’s barely in the movie. Credit: Paramount

How is it? 3/10                                                                                                                          Transformers: The Last Knight is a cluttered, lazily written 2 1/2 hour mess of a movie with few redeeming qualities.

The Ups                                                                                                                                       Despite the awful script he had to work with, Anthony Hopkins, who plays a man named Edmund Burton tasked with delivering exposition, has fun with the role. As he spouts ridiculous dialogue, he proves entertaining when the movie itself can’t. His Transformer assistant Cogman (voiced by Jim Carter), who is like an aggressive C-3PO, delivers some fun dialogue and has a few mildly enjoyable scenes.

Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) explaining something to Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) with Cogman (Jim Carter) in the back. Credit: Paramount

Say what you will about the quality of this film, but the visuals are stunning. All the CGI is executed quite well and there are some gorgeous shots Michael Bay includes here. Additionally, a few action sequences, although cluttered, are entertaining- Michael Bay knows his way around these sequences.

Megatron (voiced by Frank Welker), one of the Decepticons. Credit: Paramount

The Downs                                                                                                                                First off, the script here is terrible. It’s chock-full of awkward, cheesy dialogue that detracts from the movie, not to mention the almost cringe-worthy jokes here that none of the audience laughs at. The plot of The Last Knight is comprised of subplot after subplot, and many of these go nowhere and overcomplicate everything. There is so much not paid off in this movie, as it just throws everything out there, expecting it will work. This movie is cluttered, to say the least. It is lacks any coherence whatsoever, given that everything is happening at once and you, as the viewer, aren’t interested in any one subplot.

Not only is the story cluttered, but the cast of characters is too. There are just too many characters, and very few serve a real purpose. A prime example of this is the 14-year-old girl named Izabella (Isabela Moner) introduced at the beginning of the movie. She shows up at the beginning, does nothing useful the whole movie, and pops back up at the end.

Izabella (Isabela Moner), who ends up not having…any effect on the movie’s story. Credit: Paramount

Transformers: The Last Knight is an utterly brainless, confusing clump of story. It’s quite forgettable as well, as it’s basically made up of generic subplots stacked on top of each other, intertwined with giant explosions. This movie is exhausting to keep up with: I, myself, lost track of the plot around the end of the second act. The movie moves from dumb sequence to dumber sequence with an either exhausting side story in the middle or groan-worthy dialogue. Did I mention that this movie is 2 1/2 hours? Compared to other Transformers movies, that’s half an hour shorter, but it still feels 3 hours. Everything feels dragged out. Don’t expect Optimus Prime a ton either; he’s on all the trailers and posters, but is barely in the movie until the end.

The last act of Transformers: The Last Knight is just a mess. It’s just a bunch of Michael Bay explosions and action, but there’s so much going on at the same time that it becomes a nonsensical mush of action. Although not as much as previous Michael Bay movies, Transformers 5 somewhat shamelessly objectifies women, and racial stereotypes are sometimes played up. The product placement here is quite blatant and obvious.

Optimus Prime (left) and Bumblebee (bottom center) during the movie’s climax. Credit: Paramount

One thing that bugged me constantly throughout this movie was the changing of aspect ratios. Aspect ratios are whether or not the black bar on the top of the screen is present, and because Michael Bay shot this with different cameras, they constantly change. He shot partly in IMAX, which is extremely nice to look at when it fills up the screen, but he constantly changes to digital camera, which means that there’s a small black box popping up and down. And he doesn’t only change when an action sequence is over: he often does it within a scene, after a few shots, which isn’t only distracting and irritating, but also jarring. Besides this, some of the editing at times is very choppy and sometimes just strange. The Last Knight is lazily written, edited, and acted, but it will still probably rake in a ton of money at the box office.

Overall, Transformers: The Last Knight is a horrible movie. The dialogue is awkward, the plot is overstuffed with subplot after subplot, and the aspect ratio changing is annoying. It is a brainless, nonsensical blob, albeit boasting stunning visuals and cluttered, but entertaining action sequences.

Wonder Woman- Movie Review

Wonder Woman. Credit: Warner Bros.

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Wonder Woman is the fourth movie in the DC Cinematic Universe and is set during World War I. It follows Diana (Gal Gadot), who is a princess on Themyscira, an island in the ocean occupied by only women. One day, a plane crashes in the ocean and Diana discovers a soldier named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine): the first man she has ever seen.  From him, she learns about the ongoing war and feels the need to stop it, so she goes with him to fight in the war.

Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Credit: Warner Bros.

How is it? 8.8/10                                                                                                                  Tasked with delivering one of the first female-led, female-directed big-budget superhero movies…ever, as well as rescuing the DCEU from a critical slump, Wonder Woman is fantastic all around. However, it does face some problems.

The Ups                                                                                                                                     There is a lot to love about this movie, and the biggest thing, perhaps, is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She gives the audience an excellent, well-rounded performance that conveys all of Diana’s strengths and flaws and defines her as THE Wonder Woman. Her character tells a fish-out-of-water story, as she isn’t used to either men or modern society, which brings plenty of laughs.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Credit: Warner Bros.

Chris Pine almost rivals Gal Gadot in terms of an amazing performance. He brings the charisma and charm in spades and is very believable as Steve Trevor. His comedic timing both reacting to Diana’s distinct culture and trying to help her blend in is really, really funny.  The two stars’ chemistry is off-the-walls. You cannot take your eyes off the screen when the two are together and they bring a heartfelt, at times, comedic, relationship to the movie.

This movie has lots of comedy and definitely is funnier than previous DC films, with the entire cast having their share of laughs. Speaking of which, the supporting cast is great. A standout for me was Lucy Davis as Etta Candy, Steve Trevor’s assistant.

Patty Jenkins provides fantastic direction in the film and carries it well. She brings many tender, quiet moments that are, honestly, as great as the action. There is genuine emotion in this movie: there are many compelling character-driven moments that are very affecting and involving.

Wonder Woman during the thrilling sequence where she steps into No Man’s Land and faces an army of soldiers. Credit: Warner Bros.

The action in this movie is just…wow. It has many brilliantly choreographed and epic action set-pieces including a grand battle at Themyscira, another one where Wonder Woman takes on an army of German soldiers (my favorite scene), and the final CGI fight. Slow-mo is utilized to awesome effect here in every battle.

This movie deserves praise for its lighthearted tone and hopefulness. The Wonder Woman we see in this movie has no sense of cynicism and is innocent and hopeful, which is refreshing , as most superheroes today spend their time brooding. Additionally, this movie utilizes COLOR, unlike a lot of recent superhero movies: this is a superhero movie, after all.

The lush island of Themiscyra, a key location where color really shines in this film. Credit: Warner Bros.

A great thing about Wonder Woman is that it is very standalone in the DCEU: sure, there are some connections to the greater universe, but in functions great on its own.

Finally, the visual effects in this are fantastic, as would be expected from a superhero movie today.

The Downs                                                                                                                                Now, the problems with the movie. My main issue with Wonder Woman is its villains. There are three main villains, General Ludendorff (Danny Huston), a German general; Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya), a chemist cooking up deadly gases from Luderndorff to unleash; and Ares, the CGI big-bad of the film, who I won’t give too much away about. None of these three villains have much development, motivation, or payoff at all, so you really don’t care a ton about them.

General Ludendorff (left) and Doctor Poison (right). Credit: Warner Bros.

The third act in Wonder Woman, sadly, resorts to your typical superhero blockbuster fare in that its doused in CGI with giant explosions, This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just feels very familiar and is dragged out a bit. The effects in this movie, at times, is slightly questionable and I don’t love the visuals on her Lasso of Truth. Some of Wonder Woman’s giant jumps in action sequences look a little cartoonish also. In addition, the slow-mo does feel a little overused sometimes, but is mostly great.

Overall, Wonder Woman is a wonderful (no pun intended) movie that has two extremely likeable stars, great comedic chemistry between them, a perfect Wonder Woman in Gal Gadot, thrilling action, a hopeful lens for the DCEU, and a genuinely emotional touch. However, it does face some problems with its underdeveloped villains and standard third act.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Credit: Marvel Studios

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes place a few months after the (amazing) first movie. The newfound family of Guardians are working as heroes-for-hire. Meanwhile, they are struggling with their family dynamic, as Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) learns about his paternal heritage when the mysterious Ego (Kurt Russell) emerges. All the while, the seemingly idyllic society known as the Sovereign are on the Guardians’ tail as a threat.

How is it? 8.4/10                                                                                                                     Guardians Vol. 2 is spectacular. It tries something different from the first one and still manages to be pretty awesome. Guardians brings much more of what we loved, packs emotion, and most of all, looks into its characters, giving them each their own arcs. However, it isn’t flawless, as it lacks the urgency in story of the first.

The team, including (left to right), Yondu, Nebula, Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, and Mantis (center). Credit: Marvel Studios

The Ups                                                                                                                                       One of the best things about Vol. 2 is that it tries something new, adn takes on a new tone: it still packs a ton of fun, but deeply explores its characters by splitting them up.

Speaking of which, the characters are just fantastic, being the highlight of the first movie. It truly looks into them and their issues. By the end of the movie, Yondu (Michael Rooker) became one of my favorites and was terrifically developed. Star-Lord and the realization of having a father is really dug into. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and the dynamic with her resentful sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) is explored as Nebula shares just why she hates her sister. Even Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) gets his own satisfying arc.

Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Drax (Dave Bautista) Credit: Marvel Studios

This movie packs a heck of an emotional punch-it’s incredibly touching at the end, probably being the most emotionally impactful in the MCU.

BABY GROOT. Credit: Marvel Studios

The characters in this, as I said before, are great. Star-Lord is charming and well-acted. Kurt Russell is perfectly cast as Ego, and super charismatic. Baby Groot is just about the cutest creature ever seen on screen. Every scene he was in made you either have a giant grin, burst out laughing, or say “Aww” repeatedly: he’s used brilliantly. Drax (Dave Bautista)  doesn’t have a ton of development, but he’s really funny.  Emotion-detecting Mantis (Pom Klemetieff) is just delightful and hilarious. Rocket gets great moments as well.

Drax during one of his hilarious deadpan sequences. Credit: Marvel Studios

I’ll say it: this is the funniest Marvel movie yet. So many of the jokes work, and it’s because of the same reason as the first movie: the characters and their interactions. Drax is given a ton of great lines, as he interprets everything literally, and Baby Groot and Mantis are for sure highlights. Some of Drax’s humor is a little too hit-or-miss, however.

The action in Guardians 2 is dazzling. It has many breathtaking set-pieces, and the entire third act is just an action spectacle.

Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and Yondu (Michael Rooker) during one of the movie’s fantastic action sequences.Credit: Marvel Studios

The visuals are some of the best in Marvel and are up there with Dr. Strange: they are wonderful and weird and eye-popping, and the use of color is very vibrant and distinct. It is incorporated into the action exceptionally and the 3D is surprisingly great.

Finally, the soundtrack is just like the previous: full of super catchy hits from the 70s and 80s. The use of it in the movie is super creative, just like the last movie.

The Downs                                                                                                                                The main down with Guardians is its plot. It lacks the same simplicity and sense of urgency as the first; there’s no real story until the end of the 2nd act, and you don’t really know what it’s about. It’s slightly messy as well: it moves from scene to scene without a clear plot, feeling a little choppy. This provides for a sense of madcap, frantic fun, but the movie almost has to compromise the plot to be as fun.

Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the leader of the Sovereign. Credit: Marvel Studios

The Sovereign is also messy and underdeveloped- they show up at random parts of the movie without a clear purpose, acting as a pest. Sometimes, the humor gets a little too much as well; some of Drax’s jokes don’t work and try too hard.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is fantastic. It tries something new by looking into its characters and passes with flying colors. It also doubles on what we loved about the first, with dazzling visuals, breathtaking action set-pieces, some of the funniest jokes in the MCU yet, a great soundtrack, and a really touching emotional payoff. However, the plot is unfocused and aimless at times, putting it slightly lower than the first.

Kong: Skull Island- Movie Review

Credit: Warner Bros.

What is it about?                                                                                                                     Set in the 70s during the Vietnam War, Kong: Skull Island follows a group of explorers including: ex-military tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), angry and vengeful colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and government official Bill Randa (John Goodman). They venture into an uncharted island only to find a giant (and I mean GIANT) ape named Kong, who’s king on the island, and numerous hostile and terrifying creatures.

How is it? 6.5/10                                                                                                                     Kong: Skull Island is fun, stylish, and looks great, but is severely lacking in the people department. It’s a decent popcorn B-movie where you get to see a giant ape beat up a giant lizard, but not much else. Oh, and don’t forget, they are always setting up for a sequel because this monster movie takes place in the same universe as Godzilla (2014)!

The Ups                                                                                                                                      I have to give this movie credit for its cinematography. The camera work is very stylish and lots of fun to look at, as well as the colors in this movie. It has a warm, tropical, 70s tropical hue, which is displayed excellently alongside the giant monkey.

Kong, as he appears in the movie. Credit: Warner Bros.

Its soundtrack is also cool, chock-full of 70s music that assist the tone of Kong.

Also, it doesn’t take itself too seriously: you came to see an ape smash things, and you get to see an ape smash things.

John C. Reilly is a standout character in Kong. He plays Hank Marlow, a WWII pilot stranded on the island since the 40s. His character steals the show, has clear motivations, gets a bunch of development, and has a surprisingly emotional payoff.

John C. Reilly’s Hank Marlow. Credit: Warner Bros.

Kong himself, when on screen, is awesome. Watching him beat up other creatures on the island never gets old, and this movie in particular shows just how huge he is.

The other creatures on the island are cool as well. They provide for some great set-pieces, and are interesting and unique enough to keep you from getting bored. Also, seeing the creatures pick off the team members one by one is entertaining.

One of the “Skullcrawlers”, alongside Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson. Credit: Warner Bros.

Finally, the CGI is fantastic. The work on Kong, the creatures, and the island’s unique, tropical features is great: it’s super realistic, nice to look at, and gives you a sense of scale between the humans and the creatures.

Tom Hiddleston chopping monsters with a sword, which you didn’t realize you needed until you did. Credit: Warner Bros.

The Downs                                                                                                                                Now, here’s the main flaw with Kong: you’re shown a giant monkey, but then said giant monkey leaves, leaving you with a bunch of explorers you are given no reason to care about. These characters are paper-thin: Tom Hiddleston is tracker/mercenary/butt-kicker who works for money but…yeah that’s about it– you have no idea why he’s there; Brie Larson is an ANTI-WAR photographer, who really shouldn’t be coming on the mission; John Goodman is your typical off-his-rocker, been-waiting-years-for-this guy; Sam Jackson is Sam Jackson…this time, it got old; and finally, Toby Kebbell plays a soldier, who makes some significantly stupid decisions. This is a giant waste of a great cast. They even try humor with these people, but it really doesn’t work, and the vast majority of the jokes fall short.

Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and John C. Reilly. Credit: Warner Bros.

In addition, the first 25-30 minutes of exposition are pretty boring indeed, and there’s a bunch of cheesy dialogue throughout.

Lastly, the editing in the first half of the movie can be pretty choppy, and sometimes gets hard to look at.

Overall, Kong: Skull Island gives you a fun, stylish, and action-packed B-movie that has characters no one cares about nor wants to.

Logan- Movie Review

Hugh Jackman gives a performance of a lifetime in this action-packed, brutal, somber, and beautiful movie that’s a character study before superhero movie. Credit: 20th Century Fox

What is it about?                                                                                                                           Logan is the newest addition to the X-Men franchise, and is the story of an old, aging, Wolverine in a new, standalone, X-Men timeline. In 2029, a weary and hopeless Logan cares for dying telepathic Charles Xavier in a hideout on the Mexican border. All mutants have perished, and Logan is trying to escape somewhere safe with Charles. He soon finds a little girl named Laura Kinney, or X-23, with the same powers and deadliness as him, and is forced to (reluctantly) protect her from dark forces following them.

How is it? 8.9/10                                                                                                                               Logan is an amazing movie. However, I have to put A DISCLAIMER: Logan is Rated R, and contains SEVERE violence, gore, and language, as well as dark and mature themes. 

Logan marks Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s final performances as Wolverine and Charles Xavier, respectively, and is a very satisfying and fitting conclusion.

Logan and Charles Xavier side-by-side. Credit: 20th Century Fox

The Ups:                                                                                                                                            The overall tone of Logan is great. It knows what it wants to be and is unrestricted: it can be dark, grim, and hopeless, but can also be warm, funny, and uplifting.

The acting is top-notch throughout the cast. Hugh Jackman is fantastic and perfectly portrays just how hopeless, tired, and dying Logan is. Patrick Stewart is great, as he shows Xavier off-his-rocker, guilty, and sad. Finally, newcomer Dafne Keen, who plays X-23 is my favorite performance, as she manages to kick butt, and give a heartfelt performance just through facial expressions. She awakens the hero in Logan, which brings out his better, younger self.

Dafne Keen as X-23 in Logan. Credit: 20th Century Fox

The action is brutal (I really can’t emphasize this enough), but executed spectacularly, and the cinematography and editing assists it. The score by Marco Beltrami was a small detail that I enjoyed, and it helped with the tone of the film.

Although I mentioned earlier that the movie could be grim, it still had humor from the dynamic between Laura and Logan, and even Xavier.

Logan in one of the quieter scenes, next to X-23 and Charles. Credit: 20th Century Fox

Logan never ceases to be enthralling and constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat, even when there isn’t a huge action sequence: many of the movie’s better moments are quiet, small interactions between the characters. Through these moments it manages to even bring emotion.

Logan during one of the more…vivid action sequences. Credit: 20th Century Fox

Logan explores many grim, sensitive themes that you want to talk about long after the credits have rolled. Through carefully exploring its characters, it delves into the ideas of death, aging, sadness, family, love, and even guilt. These really establish it as a drama first, and a comic-book movie second: it’s very grounded.

The Downs:                                                                                                                                   There are few problems I have with Logan. There is a minor pacing issue with this movie around the middle: sitting at a lengthy 2 hours and 21 minutes, there are certain scenes around the middle that could’ve been trimmed. However, the vast majority of Logan serves a point and all builds up to the finale.

It also slightly overuses it’s R-rating. Even though most of the violence is well-deserved and built up to, there are certain aspects where the gore was overused. Also, there was a subplot that serves a purpose, but goes over-the-top. I understand why it was kept, but it causes the movie to lose some of its grounding.

Logan is not only one of the best comic-book movies of recent years, but also one of, if not the most meaningful. However, discretion is advised, as the movie can get quite violent and gory.

The LEGO Batman Movie- Movie Review

What is it about?                                                                                                                     The LEGO Batman Movie is about Batman, or at least the LEGO version of him, the breakout star of the original LEGO Movie. Set in Gotham City, the Joker uses an entire rogues gallery of villains to take over Gotham City. Meanwhile, Batman struggles with the idea of being part of a family, as he tries to raise Dick Grayson, a young orphan he adopted and deal with Barbara Gordon, the new police commissioner who wants him to team up with the police.

How is it? 8.8/10                                                                                                                     Batman was a huge hit in The LEGO Movie, so he got his own, and it delivers on a ton of levels. The LEGO Batman Movie is an absolute burst of joy from start to finish: literally the first frame is hilarious. Its only shortcoming is that it doesn’t quite reach the heart of The LEGO Movie.

The Ups

LEGO Batman is chaotic, frenetic, and fun-filled adventure that will leave a smile on your face for, well, the whole thing.

This movie has such a strong sense of humor. The LEGO Batman movie is made up of gag after gag, and is unceasingly funny, yet it never feels forced. It is one of the most meta, self-deprecating movies I have ever seen, and references pop-culture every other minute. This movie is packed throughout its 104 minutes with winks, nods, and jabs at other movies and itself.  It references about every Batman movie or TV show you can think of, and I mean every. It also takes some fun jabs at the currently failing DC Cinematic Universe that will have you laugh out loud. This is all best demonstrated in the first ten minutes, which is a spectacular mix of visual and spoken pop culture references, fantastic voice acting and cameos, and chaotic action. I almost burst laughing at this, and let’s just say there is a very…unique sequence involving Batman rapping. Being a huge Bat-fan, I got a huge kick out of the references, but Batman fans, movie fans, and casual viewers alike will all enjoy it.

Speaking of the voice acting, all of the voice stars are great. Will Arnett, who was hilarious in The LEGO Movie is back and funny as ever, along with newcomer Michael Cera (playing Dick Grayson/Robin), who is innocently funny. Ralph Fiennes shined as butler Alfred, and Zach Galifinakis was a humorous, fresh take on Joker.

One of the things I loved about LEGO Batman was the play on Batman and Joker’s relationship. In comics before, they have been seen as needing and completing each other, which is put on play here. Joker desperately wants to be Batman’s greatest villain, but the fact that he just can’t say it causes Joker to crumble, resulting in some hilarious sequences.

The animation here is superb. All the computer animated facial features are very clear, and I was in wonder at the visual effects used. This pays off in the action, which, especially, in the third act, is chaotic and crazy, but still very smooth, providing an excellent experience.

This movie also has heart. It has a very good message of being part of a family, and it is touching near the end.

The Downs

I am a huge fan of The LEGO Movie: it is incredibly witty, very clever, hilarious, but most of all, heartfelt. I would say LEGO Batman is funnier, but it doesn’t match the freshness, cleverness, or emotion of the original: the original’s message about being yourself was truly brilliant, and this one’s about family is sweet, but not as good. Finally, the humor, sadly, does slow down a bit around the middle, as the concept of family is explored more.

Overall, The LEGO Batman Movie is a GREAT movie, with fantastic animation, great vocal performances, an amazing sense of humor, and unceasing meta and pop-culture references.