Movie Review – El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

Jesse’s back, bitches!

BQB here with a review.

When I heard they were making a Breaking Bad movie, my reaction was one of revulsion.  It’s rare that a TV show concludes with all the loose ends tied up, with an overall sense that the writers and producers really, truly cared about all the time the fans invested in watching the show and wanted to reward that time with payoffs galore.  Thus, to create a sequel seemed like trying to paint Mona Lisa Part 2: This Time The Bitch Really Smiles.

Turns out the movie is great, though it’s less of a movie and more of an extended episode.  My main fear was that they were going to bring Walter White (Bryan Cranston) back from the dead and have to conjure up silly, absurd reasons about how this guy has been able to live with terminal cancer for 11 years and how he’s still cooking meth when everyone from the cops to the coast guard are looking for him.

My fears subsided when I learned Walter was left to RIP and this was Jesse’s flick.  When last we saw Jesse, he was looking like an unkempt, unwashed, bearded mountain man, escaping from Nazi captivity in weirdo Todd’s El Camino.

This film tells us what happens next.  With police on his tail and plenty of rival crooks out to get him, will he be able to flee and start a new life, or will he go out in a blaze of glory just like his meth cooking mentor?

Series regulars come and go throughout the flick.  Badger.  Skinny Pete.  Mike.  Even Walter stops by.  Relax, those who ended up in body bags at the end of the series only reappear in flashback form.

Is this a movie we needed?  No, bitch.  To be honest, I never put much thought into what happened to Jesse after his escape.  That being said, it is a nice wrap up, tying up that one last loose end.

It’s fitting the movie is on Netflix.  After all, Breaking Bad is a show that became successfully largely due to the streaming age.  I’ll admit I avoided it for several years because a show about a sad old man dying from cancer after a lifetime of regret didn’t exactly sound like fun viewing to me, but once I kept hearing rave reviews, I started streaming it and I was hooked.  Dying science teacher depressed about his lack of success recruits his wayward former student to start a meth empire and eventually goes from underdog anti-hero to vile villain that you want to see lose?  Yeah, that’s not something that any network was going to pour a lot of dough into promoting.  Word of mouth and “hey, go stream this when you have a minute” was the key to BB’s success.

Still, I’m not sure how much juice can be extracted from the Breaking Bad world.  I suppose there’s always a prequel or a sequel.  I suppose, even for a truck of cash backed up to Bryan Cranston’s house and, hopefully, the right script, we could find out that Walter White survived but honestly, I felt this movie worked because it was just 2 hours.  Would I want to see an entirely new Jesse based spinoff series?  I can’t imagine it.  I did give Better Call Saul a couple of seasons before I gave up.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy, bitch.

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Movie Review – Gemini Man (2019)

Will vs. Will = a battle of wills.

BQB here with a review of Gemini Man.

This movie neither sucks nor blows.  It’s not really destined to become that old standby that you’ll go to over and over again when you want some thrills, but as a diversion, it is worth the price of admission.

Will Smith plays Henry Brogan, one of the world’s greatest, most prolific spy agency assassins, though as he’s gotten older and more thoughtful, he has decided that he can’t stomach all the death and destruction anymore and decides to retire.

Alas, his superiors aren’t having any of that shit.  His former superiors are worried he knows too much and they can’t have that.  At first, they hire Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to keep tabs on him, posing as a potential love interest.  When Will proves that he still has some of that Big Willy style left, he converts a foe into a friend as the duo go on the run from the agency.

Clay Verris (Clive Owen) one of Henry’s ex-bosses, brings out the big guns.  He’s the head of Project Gemini (and rather humorously, operates out of a high rise building labeled “Gemini” which seems like a good way to blow his cover).  This project, is, you guessed, a cloning initiative.  It seems that years ago, Henry was cloned and the result, Junior, a version of Henry half his age that knows all his moves, is out to get him.

The CGI based aged shaving, clone making tech is at its peak, as there are times where Junior looks like Will has morphed back into his Fresh Prince days.  The fight scenes where young and old Will go mano y mano are fun, though the overall plot is convoluted and unlikely.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Stuber (2019)

Laughs.  Action.  Driver ratings in peril.

BQB here with a review of Stuber.

At the outset, this is a fun action comedy.  It’s not something I’d want to watch over and over again, but it was worth the rental fee.

Kumail Nanjiani plays Stu, a down and out sporting goods store clerk who makes money on the side driving for Uber, thus earning him the undesired nickname, Stuber.

He pines for friend Becca (Betty Gilpin, and who doesn’t?) but despite his best efforts, including forking over his savings so she can start a spin class business, he’s permanently in the friend zone.

His life of boredom is interrupted for a night of action, adventure and sheer, out and out terror when Vic Manning (Dave Bautista), a bad ass cop on the hunt for his partner’s killer, who rather conveniently just had eye surgery and can’t drive (or in reality, do anything but you have to suspend disbelief) hires him to drive and forces him into service as his unwilling partner for the evening.

They become the ultimate odd couple, Vic helping Stu to man up, Stu helping Vic to tap into his softer side.  Will Stu be able to save the day, get the girl, and maintain the highly coveted 5 star rating that all Uber drivers desire?

Bonus points for adding Mira Sorvino to the cast.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Joker (2019)

Put on a happy face, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Joker.

At the outset, I wondered about the necessity of this film.  After all, when we have the Justice League films trying to get off the ground, is it wise to put out a standalone film about Batman’s nemesis set in the early 1980s?

And does a Joker origin story interfere with the Clown Prince of Crime’s mystique?  After all, one of the scarier parts of 2008’s The Dark Knight is that the Joker is a wild card, and we know so little about who he is or what motivates him, so he is unpredictable and can’t be reasoned with.

But oh well.  Screw all that.  The movie was made and if you take it on its own, without delving into deeper comic book nerd considerations, its a rather intense look at how a combination of mental illness and a breakdown of the system can cause a man to snap.

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a socially awkward loner who eeks out a meager living as a party clown while trying to launch a stand-up comedy career, an art form in which he has no talent whatsoever, despite his grand delusions to the contrary.  He dreams of one day being discovered by Murray Franklin (Robert DeNiro playing a Johnny Carson-esque late night talk show host.)

Arthur’s reality is much more grim.  He lives in squalor and spends his free time taking care of his equally mentally ill mother, Penny (Frances Conroy) while pining for his neighbor, Sophie (Zazie Beetz of Deadpool’s Domino fame.)

Without delving into spoilers, the majority of the film focuses on Arthur’s descent into madness as little by little, the little he had that kept him going is taken away from him.  The system is the villain of the film, that cold hearted, uncaring, unfeeling bureaucracy that takes away his psychiatric appointments, his medication, his job, his hopes, his dreams and after plunging him into failure, tells him there’s no opportunity left for him, because he’s such a lousy failure.

This movie has been controversial because, well, I suppose I can’t tell you exactly why without spoiling the ending and admittedly, 3/4th of the movie is a bit of a slog, slowly building up to the ending that leaves you on the edge of your seat when Arthur finally stops giving a shit about the norms of the society that stopped giving a shit about him.  Suffice to say, there’s a lot of media concern that this movie celebrates and/or glorifies the idea of people committing violence in attempt to garner attention but…well, at the end of the day, it is a movie and perhaps these concerns miss a point, namely that taking away movies is but a band-aid, whereas developing a comprehensive plan to provide mental health care and opportunities for those who are struggling would be the better solution.

As a comic book nerd, I didn’t like that Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne, is portrayed as a villain.  The Waynes are usually portrayed as the only rich people in Gotham who care, so this is a deviation.  However, without giving much away, there’s a do-it-yourself aspect to this movie, in that you can choose what you want to believe and what you don’t.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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A Rap About the Seventeen Cents I Made Selling My Books on Amazon

rappa

Uh.  Yeah.  Uh.  Yeah.

Crank up the bass.

Bookshelf Q. Battler.

Comin’ straight at ya face.

Seventeen!

Three less than twenty,

It sure is plenty.

Seventeen!

Eighty-seven less than a buck,

You know I don’t give a…

Seventeen!  Seventeen!

You know a man can only dream of

Seventeen!

A dime and a nickel, two portraits of Lincoln.

Go to the club and my breath is stinkin…

of Cristal!  Because I’m a baller.

Because I’m rolling up to my crib, still chasin the green.

But until I get some foldin’ cash, I’ll have my seventeen!

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Movie Review – Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

Last Blood?  I sure hope so!

BQB here with a review of one Rambo film too many.

Part of me gets it.  Sylvester Stallone may be old, but he’s still kicking, so he wants to work.  The film franchises he’s made over the years are like multi-million dollar businesses, so you can’t blame a guy for wanting to make as much dough as he can for as long as he can.  Maybe, just maybe, he even loves the characters he’s created and wants to add more to their story.

It worked with Rocky 6 and the spin-off Creed movies.  But in Creed, an old Rocky is passing the torch to a younger fighter, whereas in Rambo…well, Rambo is old now.  The appeal of the original Rambo films was that Rambo was a bad ass who could murder throngs of villains with his pinky finger.

Today?  Not so much, and at least the powers that be realized that a shirtless old Rambo running around, shooting 700 henchmen without reloading his gun once wasn’t going to fly.

Ultimately the film is a mashup of Taken (in that the beloved niece of his housekeeper gets kidnapped by a Mexican sex trafficking gang) and Home Alone (as Rambo lures the bad hombres back to his ranch where he subjects them to a series of elaborate and brutal traps.

Part of me is nostalgic for the 80s action flicks I grew up with.  That part of me enjoyed it.  Another part of me is an adult and that part wonders whether, you know, just because something can be made, does that mean it should be made?

Was there a Rambo film with an elderly protagonist that could have kicked a lot of ass?  Possibly.  Trainers are an essential part of a fighter’s life, so that led to a lot of screen time for Rocky in Creed.  Maybe Old Rambo could have taken the role of a mentor to a younger soldier who goes berserk and, you know, as I say it, no that wouldn’t have worked.  This was probably the best Rambo that was possible.

Still, was it necessary to see our longtime hero tortured in his old age so needlessly?  The film begins with Rambo on a ranch, enjoying the outdoors, being one with nature.  He’s found friendship with his housekeeper because I assume the idea of Rambo marrying an age appropriate woman made Sylvester Stallone want to puke.  He’s even found the daughter he never had in the form of the housekeeper’s daughter that he helped raise so…I guess there wouldn’t have been much of a movie in letting Rambo live out his retirement years in peace but holy shit, it’s just sad this guy keeps getting tortured.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  The violence is a bit over the top, even for a Rambo film.  There were a few parts where the gore was so silly I openly laughed.  If you’ve never seen the films before, the first two are the best and the third acceptable.  This latest, and hopefully last one, is worth a rental, but nothing to rush to the theater for.

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I’m Enjoying The Masked Singer

I usually don’t like reality tv shows, singing contest shows, etc. but I think they have a winner here.

The judges are cheesy as they throw out guesses that seem like they are pre-rehearsed, just to push the audience in a direction but ultimately, its a lot of fun.

If you haven’t seen it yet, celebrities put on masks and elaborate costumes and sing away.  There is usually a pre-packaged bit where the masked celebrity in a squeaky altered voice drops a few clues, but the clues are often vague and hard to pin down.

Currently, I’m trying to figure out who The Skeleton is.  I’m thinking either Dan Akroyd or Paul Schaeffer.

Who do you think the masked singers are, 3.5?

 

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My Online Auction Addiction and What Should I Do With My Punisher Helmet?

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

In recent weeks, I developed an addiction to an online auction site.  I don’t know why, just…so much fun memorabilia and while I’m not rich by any stretch I am finally at a point in my life where I can afford the very occasional frivolity.

Long story short, I bid on and won a Punisher football helmet signed by Jon Bernthal, the actor who plays the Punisher on the Netflix series.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  In retrospect, I don’t like football.  I’m not a huge Jon Bernthal fan.  I think he’s ok. Honestly, I didn’t know his name and always referred to him as that actor who played Shane on The Walking Dead.  By the way, I always thought Shane sucked because his big gripe is that Rick was mad that he banged his wife like literally five minutes after Rick was presumed dead.  Although I guess if I thought Shane sucked then Jon Bernthal did his job.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t dislike Jon Bernthal….I just don’t worship the guy or anything either.

Long story short, I bought it with an eye toward putting it on a shelf that heretofore had nothing on it.  But when it arrived, it came in the helmet’s original box and inside, it was sealed in a plastic bag so….I guess now I’m worried about taking it out.

Will air, dust and fingerprints ruin the Jon Bernthal signature?  Should I just tuck it away in the closet somewhere?  Perhaps in ten years it would have a nice resale value?  In fact, maybe I could secretly root for Jon Bernthal to become an Academy Award winner so its value could increase.  Maybe Jon Bertnhal will score a role in the Toilet Gator movie!

Then again, I don’t know.  Maybe it would be fun to keep it on the shelf and look at it.  Perhaps I could get a glass case for it or something, or is a glass case overdoing it?

It is also signed by Ebon Moss-Bachrach, who plays The Punisher’s technical assistant Micro.  I gotta be honest, I only watched the first season so I didn’t know there was a Micro.  I had never heard of this actor before but I could root for him to be an Academy Award winner too.

Hell, if Bernthal and Moss-Bachrach win in the same year I could retire off this thing.

Sidenote- I gotta be honest, I originally wanted to win an Avengers football helmet signed by Stan Lee, but the bids on that were way too high for a humble blog proprietor to afford.

Double sidenote – This wasn’t totally silly because as a kid, I did like and read the Punisher comics.  I don’t know why, I just thought out of all the superheroes, he was the most believable.  He had no special abilities or powers.  He was just a vigilante who violated all norms of due process and criminal procedure law and just shot bad guys in the face.  Like honestly, I love Batman, but at least Batman would leave a bad guy hog tied so the cops could find him and arrest him and put him on trial.  The Punisher would just extrajudiciously decide that a dude was guilty and blow his head off with a bazooka.  As an adult, I do realize that this lack of due process is wrong though so Batman is probably the better vigilante.

In conclusion, should I leave the helmet sealed in the bag and inside the box and in a closet or should I take it out and put it on a shelf?

(Sidenote – I also bought a first issue, first edition GI Joe comic book that came sealed in a plastic case and a 1966 Superman Comic Book that did not come sealed in a plastic case and that after that, that was it.  OK it wasn’t it, I actually bid on a lot more things but thankfully, I lost all those auctions and then after that I stopped and quit cold turkey..)

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Movie Review – Ad Astra (2019)

Space.  There’s a lot of it.  BQB here with a review.

Similar to Interstellar, this film gives us a peak into the future of so-called “doable” space travel, i.e. there are no space operatic ships that fly at warp speed or laser sword battles or what have you.  Instead, it focuses on the idea that deep space travel is indeed possible if man is willing to invest the time and money.

Brad Pritt stars as Roy McBride, an astronaut who has been recruited for a sensitive mission – to find his long lost father (Tommy Lee Jones as Clifford) who, thirty years prior went on a mission to Neptune to search for alien life and then disappeared, never to be heard from again.

The first half of the film starts out strong, meditating on a number of blunders that humans would likely export from earth to outer space, namely America’s moon base has become commercialized with fast food joints on every corner and warring factions fighting over resources back home are fighting over moon resources as well.

The film is visually beautiful and inspiring, reminding us that, at least in terms of getting to the far reaches of the Milky Way, doing so doesn’t have to be the stuff of science fiction as long as we open our hearts, minds, wallets and are able to find people who are willing to spend long chunks of their lives on space travel.

While I don’t want to give away spoilers, I’ll say that the second half of the film is riddled with gaping plot holes and though I’m but an amateur, I’ll just say there are parts where the science doesn’t add up and the doings are unlikely.  There are points where it feels like the writers pushed hard through most of the movie only to take a nap at the end.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Gets a little disappointing at the end.

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Is this Pug…

pug-801826_1280

…a cold pug who is being swaddled to warmth?

…a wise monk pug?

…a Jedi pug?

…a stoic pug?

…a pug who stole a towel?

…a pug who bought a towel?

…a pug who once was wet but now is dry?

…a member of an ancient order of pug assassins?

…a wise pug elder?

…a wizard pug?

…the keeper of ancient pug secrets?

What do you think this pug is?  Answer in the comments?

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