Category Archives: Movies

Movie Review – Halloween Kills (2021)

Sweet merciful crap. How many of these must we suffer through?

BQB here with a review of the latest Halloween flick.

At this point, Michael Myers has to be, what, 70 something years old? And he’s still breaking out of the asylum every Halloween night to slice and dice random townsfolk with his butcher knife?

Sigh. Typical Baby Boomer. Refusing to retire and allow the next generation of psycho serial killers to have a go.

Same with Laurie Strode. Jamie Lee Curtis is grandma-age as Michael’s favorite victim. You’d think at this point she’d move to Argentina, Brazil, Uzbekistan…somewhere Myers can’t get to.

It’s unfortunate because I thought the last installment wasn’t terrible. If you missed it, Strode sets up a veritable house of horrors for Michael, leaving nothing to chance, all but ensuring that he will be destroyed the next time he comes after her. She does this with the help of her daughter and grand-daughter, very modern in that three generations of women are done being victims and are fighting back.

But, hey money is money and I guess the studio decided to go back to the well for more cash, though this one is rather…meh.

Spoiler alert – as it turns out, Laurie’s murder house fails to claim Double-M because let’s face it, nothing ever does. The dude has been through what, 20 movies now? He’s been shot, stabbed, chainsawed, had bombs dropped on him, blown up with dynamite, set on fire…wasn’t he shot up into space once or was that Jason? Anyway, Myers is the Timex of slashers. He takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Meanwhile, the people of Haddonfield have had enough of this bullshit. Led by Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall as the jacked old man who makes you wonder where the goofy little kid from the Chevy Chase Vacation movie or Weird Science went and how time can be such a bitch), a kid who got away from one of Myer’s early 1970s rampages, the townsfolk form a posse to hunt down and kill Myers once and for all, begging the audience to ask the question…what the hell took them so long?

From thereon, the movie becomes more of a meditation on the mob mentality and vigilante justice – i.e. we get it. Sometimes it feels like the system has failed so the people have to take the law into their own hands…except the people are not trained, they don’t have police credentials and they are emotional idiots who get it wrong and sure enough, they get it wrong and end up as bad as the killer they are chasing.

Meh. As a director, Carpenter was one of the first to put intense and scary, gory scenes on camera, stuff that really scared the pants off viewers and no one had dared film before. We can debate whether or not he should have opened that door. But he was also able to accomplish a lot of a scary song and ominous footsteps whereas directors today just try to add more and more gore.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. It’s OK and it’s a fun little diversion this Halloween season. It got me to open my long dusty Peacock app, so there’s that. On the other hand, it’s not anything I’m itching to watch again. I do kind of wonder why, when everything else has gotten the modern reboot treatment, why they don’t just recast it with younger actors at this point. Myers I guess is an immortal monster so his age doesn’t matter but I’m not sure how much longer they can have him chase Grannie Laurie Strode and still have it make sense, if it ever did.

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Movie Review – No Time to Die (2021)

The name’s Battler. Bookshelf Q. Battler.

I’ll have a banana daquiri. Fresh, not frozen.

BQB here with a review of the latest Bond flick.

If there’s one universal rule about the Bond franchise, it’s this. Every Bond incarnation usually has one fantastic, blow-out film and then the rest are OK or subpar at best. For Pierce Brosnan, his great was Goldeneye. For Daniel Craig, his knockout was Skyfall. The rest are too old for me to parse through, and perhaps all of Sean Connery’s were great, but ultimately these flicks can be hit or miss and on occasion, you’re left wondering what were they thinking.

Daniel Craig has been at the Bond game a long time now and the world has been through a lot of changes. First, he had the unenviable task of reviving the franchise in the post-9/11 world. After the Twin Towers fell, audiences had less of a tolerance for Bond’s sillier side. Sure, it’s always a good time when he saves the day with the help of one of Q’s wacky gadgets while delivering a clever one-liner, but we viewers collectively grew up and realized that what a nation’s intelligence service does (fails to do or doesn’t prevent) matters. Thus, Bond had to get more serious…yet somehow retain the fun.

Flash forward another decade and a half later and Bond’s womanizing ways have also become tres passe. How much more can society chip away at this beloved character? First, we told him he has to stop being funny. Now we’re telling him he has to stop bagging babes which is hard because he has a track record of getting it on at least three times per film. There’s always one random hottie who is just a fling, then a good hottie he has to work with, and also a hottie dating a villain he has to convince to switch sides…with his studliness.

Truth be told, Bond films are the ultimate male fantasy. We dudes dream of being handsome, suave, sophisticated, driving the cool car, able to get any woman we want…and seriously, y’all have no idea how getting any woman you want is a superpower. Women never have to worry about finding a man. Women can just poke their head out the window and shout, “I want a man” and they will all come running, but a man? Most men have to really work for it and are lucky if they find one in their lifetime and are luckier still if they don’t screw it up. Meanwhile, Bond finds oodles and they all seem like they all feel very lucky and happy to be with him, even to the point where it leads to them being painted with oxygen depriving gold paint or befalling some other terrible fate.

As if that weren’t enough changes for Bond, the women want in on the action. They aren’t just happy to be Bond’s eye candy. They want their chance to murder the bad dudes and save the day too.

Tall order for a movie but somehow it delivers.

Going into it, I heard a lot of bad reviews, people chanting the old “go woke, go broke” mantra. While I think we all have to embrace diversity, I have noticed that some films/franchises go to eye-rolling lengths (see the latest Superman comic with Supes french kissing a pink-haired man he apparently dumps Lois for more.)

I didn’t find that here. I think the film managed to straddle the line between wokeness and Bond’s patented studliness.

How’d the do it? SPOILER ALERT. REPEAT SPOILER ALERT.

They had Bond settle down. Ingenious, no?

The plot? Bond finally meets the true love of his life and gets hitched. On his honeymoon with Madeleine Swann, he gets sidetracked by villains henchmen because he’s Bond, so why wouldn’t he? This leads him down a rabbit hole toward a war between uber baddies Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) and Safin (Rami Malek) over a virus that can be tailor made to target anyone its wielder desires (and thus we understand why the film’s release was delayed from its original unfortunately time date during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, though I suppose it’s not like the producers could have ever foreseen how their plot would come too close too reality when they made the flick.)

Bond does get his side-babes, but only in the form of co-workers/spies Nomi who has taken up the 007 mantle in the wake of Bond’s retirement (Lashana Lynch) and Paloma, a Cuba based spy who claims to only have three weeks of training (Ana de Armas who I intend to propose to one day if my self-publishing enterprise ever makes me rich…unless she’d take me as poor. What the hell? Ana on the off chance you’re reading this…and I’ve embarrassed myself. Moving on…)

At any rate, Bond doesn’t bang these women because he’s a changed man now. He’s found the love of his life and is now a one woman man so no other babe will do. And the babes don’t come onto him because they’re professionals and they don’t mix business with pleasure. Hell, they don’t even seem interested…because they aren’t. Nomi, if anything, taunts him over being the new 007. So they’re just colleagues who work together to save the world and there’s no hanky panky that will lead Bond to a trip to MI6 HR and a vigorous drubbing on Twitter.

Ultimately, I found the ways in which the wokeness was blended in, baked into the cake, as it were, clever. We can’t really complain that Bond isn’t snogging chicks two, three at a time because he has finally found true love and frankly, for the past few films, we’ve seen a Bond who has become saddened by the love and leave ’em or worse, see them deep-sixed by the villain lifestyle. We dudes who like seeing babes on the screen still get to see them but we have to see them as experts in the espionage trade who get the intel through tactics and guile and not just by flashing their boobs (although let’s face it, in real life, one boob flash is all it takes for even the most stalwart villain to give up the launch codes because men are that basic.)

I won’t give up much more other than to say SPOILER ALERT the film does close Craig’s iteration of the franchise, which is unheard of in Bond history, because usually, the films just keep going until the Bond actor either gets too old, or the films get stale, or enough time passes that Hollywood says we haven’t done a Bond film in awhile and hey, there’s a new British actor on the scene who would fit the bill.

Thus, I suppose this means the next Bond version will be an actual reboot. Strange, because somehow the Bond films never get rebooted. It’s just as if Bond has somehow existed for 50 years as one man or another. There’s that old fan theory that perhaps there have just been a series of British spies who go by the name James Bond, 007. Either that or we just understand that Bond just exists and we don’t blink as he moves from one generation to the next.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. It’s by no means terrible as the critics are saying. It is a bit confusing though these films often are. Skyfall still remains Craig’s best. Quantum of Solace is still the worst. Spectre is middling. This one and Casino Royale are decent. To Craig’s credit, he only had one stinker, shaken, not stirred.

I am curious though how the next Bond iteration goes, or if they’ll have one. I mean, he can’t be a one-woman man forever and the character is a dude who is so damn sexy that women throw themselves at him, even if it means their peril as they switch sides and give up their villainous boyfriends. Maybe this ultra macho stud is a casualty of the woke era or maybe he’ll be back in ways we heretofore will never expect.

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Movie Review – The Addams Family 2 (2021)

They’re creepy. They’re kooky. You know the drill.

BQB here with a review of the latest installment of the now animated chronicles of America’s creepiest family.

I enjoyed the 2019 cartoon remake of the Addams fam. It seemed like a clever way to breathe new life into an old property, a way to maintain the macabre silliness while getting around the fact that audiences are less willing to suspend disbelief as they were in the old days.

Then again, how willing you are to suspend disbelief may depend how old you are. For example, I remember as a kid thinking the 1990s Addams Family films were hysterical. Now, as an adult, the first time Wednesday whips out her guillotine and tries to separate Pugsley from his head, I wonder why no one has called social services yet.

Anyway, sequels tend to be a bit lackluster and unfortunately, this one is no exception. The first animated film intro’d us to this generation’s Addams fam, complete with how they get by in the social media age, with an interesting plot about how they fight a reality TV show host who is trying to oust them in an attempt to make the neighborhood appear more “normal” i.e. that haunted mansion has to go.

Here, the characters have been established but rather than build it sort of just flounders. The plot is a mysterious stranger, via a lawyer, is claiming that Wednesday is his daughter as there was a mix-up at the hospital when Baby W was born. In an effort to run away from this terrible news, Gomez and Morticia pack up the fam for a cross-country road trip, spreading their creepiness across the US of A.

It has its fun and funny moments but its low on Gomez and Morticia moments. I suppose I shouldn’t spoil too much. Let’s just say…going into the first, you knew the Addamses weren’t going to let themselves be run out of town, but it was fun to see just how they were going to stand their ground. Here, I mean, you know it’s not going to end with Wednesday jumping ship on her fam so…too predictable I suppose is my main complaint.

Then again, it’s a kid’s movie, so if you want a distraction for your youngsters this Halloween season, this one ain’t half bad.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Bonus points for the film giving a shout out to self-publishing. SPOILER ALERT: Uncle Fester boasts of being a self-published author, pushing his book on how to pick up babes to Pugsley. who is finding it difficult to talk to girls. “I’ve been on three first dates! You can’t beat that experience!” Fester proudly declares as he bids his nephew to seek his advice. As a self-publishing aficionado, I couldn’t help but laugh.

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Movie Review – The Guilty (2021)

I want to say this is the harshest movie review I’ll ever write, but the year is still young and so is the decade and who knows how much blogging time I have left…even so…

…what a horrible piece of crap this movie is. Don’t even bother…to watch it. You can still read my review if you want.

When this one popped up on Netflix, I saved it until a weekend afternoon when I could give it my full attention. It looked great, with Jake Gyllenhaal as a benched cop assigned to 911 operator duty while he awaits the review of recent allegations of wrongdoing. He takes a call from an abduction victim and attempts to use his detective skills from his desk to solve the case, even though he’s really just supposed to relay the info to the actual investigators and stay out of the way.

The film is a remake of a Danish film of the same name, though I immediately felt it was somewhat of a ripoff of the 2013 film, “The Call” starring Halle Berry. That movie was actually pretty good, largely because it plenty of cut shots, scenes that showed what was going on with Halle at the call center as well as what was happening with the victim – the villain’s evil-doings, attempts by good Samaritans to intervene, the police chase, etc.

Here, we get none of that. If you were hoping for an extended film that is just the Jakester sitting at a desk, arguing with various voices on the phone, then have fun. Oh wait, I forgot, sometimes he gets up and moves to another room where he can yell at the voices on the phone in private.

I have to wonder who thought it would be a good idea to release an all Jake, all the time film, without any glimpse into what’s going on with the victim or the baddie whatsoever. Then again, that might have been the point. Netflix and other streaming services are trying to build their platforms, churning out tons of product, trying to give subscribers a lot of bang for their buck i.e. “Look at all the movies we’ve got!”

Problem is, I’ve found a lot of these Netflix flicks that look like they rival the theatrically released summer blockbusters often just end up with one big star in a film with a shitty script. I could cite Charlize Theron in The Old Guard or Ryan Reynolds in Six Underground….except I can’t because those had one big star, a shitty plot, but a lot of special effects and action that were at least fun to watch.

Here, it’s just a dude sitting at a desk. I guess the one saving grace is eventually I realized I could putter around the house and do my busy work, treating the film like a podcast because all I needed was to hear Jake and the various voices on the other line.

It’s just…sad…and it does make me wonder about the future of movies if theaters are ever, God forbid, shuttered permanently. I mean, seriously, theaters are a check on Hollywood because surely, if you ever put a movie this shitty in a big city, packed house movie theater, there’d be a riot, or probably not far but a mild insurrection. Rabble rousers would definitely throw popcorn at the screen and demand some cut scenes showing the police chasing the bad guy while Jake is on the phone. If streaming services take over completely, it will just be a non-stop spew of crap.

Surprising because not only is JG the lead, but it is directed by Antoine Fuqua who gave us Training Day and screenwriter Nic Pizzolato of True Detective Fame. I dunno. All three have given us great stuff to watch but it feels like they sold out to create a real turd here.

STATUS: NOT-SHELFWORTHY! Truly, the most devastating rating I can give a piece of work on this fine blog. I really thought this would be good because it had an actor who has starred in good movies, but then again, Netflix got me with Charlize Theron, Ryan Reynolds, etc. It’s like Lucy holding the football. I always say I’m not going to run at that ball and then I do it anyway.

Thanks for making me look like a blockhead, Netflix.

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Movie Review – The Many Saints of Newark (2021)

Woke up this morning, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of the long awaited Sopranos prequel.

Being the fan of an HBO series is a lot like being the kid of an estranged father. When you were younger, Dear Old Dad was always around, and you loved every minute of it, from playing catch to riding all the rides at the carnival together. Ahh but alas, much like the showrunners, actors and everyone behind these shows, Dad got distracted by some shiny new thing and went off to chase it, leaving us wondering for years why we weren’t good enough for Pops to stick around.

And then…so many years later, when finally, we gave up, moved on, and accepted that we’ll never get any closure to the longstanding questions that loomed over our relationship, the Old Man returns, now as a geezer, asking for us to love him again, no questions asked, and we can’t help but think this is probably a desperate ploy to shake us down in one last cash grab because God knows, the up and coming next generation doesn’t give a crap about him.

In all seriousness though, if you were a sentient adult in the late 90s-early 2000s, you either watched this show religiously or heard all the yammering from the people who did. It essentially gave rise to the so-called new golden age of TV that we are experiencing today (though I wonder if it might be in decline as of late). When I was a young man, I watched the show and just thought it was funny there was a show on TV that showed a lot of boobs and butts and people saying and doing horrible things and certainly such taboo material would never be seen on NBC, so it felt like it was almost subversive to watch it. The rest of Hollywood took note and realized that cable was the way to go for long form series storytelling where the characters could be allowed to say and do much more naughtier things.

Alas, HBO has a tendency to cash in and cash out on these shows. Although there are some who think the Sopranos’ fade to black finale was brilliant (for those uninitiated, the show that posed a ton of questions about mobster Tony Soprano’s life – will he get killed by rivals? will he end up in jail? will his marriage fail? will his kids stand by him or realize he’s a scumbag and abandon him?) – decided to answer these questions with a non-answer, i.e. a do it yourself ending where the family goes to dinner at a restaurant, an ominous man goes to the bathroom, and maybe said individual comes out blasting or maybe he’s just a random diner who needed to take a dump. The choice is yours.

Personally, I was one of the many, many viewers who jumped up and smacked my TV, thinking a cable went loose at the worst possible moment.

Thus, I wasn’t surprised when Game of Thrones wowed us throughout the 2010s, only to rush through the last season. They did it with the Sopranos in the 00s and GOT in the 2010s. It’s the 2020s now and Home Box Office is due to give us the series of the decade that will leave us captivated in awe, only to one day decide that they’ve snatched up enough cash, that dumping more cash into the series is not cost effective, and to send us on our way with a lackluster rushed final season and lame finale.

Where was I? Oh right. Now that I got my rant out, let’s move on to the review.

There are so many reasons why it was a tragedy that James Gandolfini died young in his early fifties, but as a Sopranos fan, and looking at how Hollywood, thanks to streaming services, has become obsessed with bringing back old stuff, it makes me think that HBO might have finally ponied up the dough necessary to make a new Sopranos season, one that tells us where the New Jersey crime family is today and what happened after the fade to black moment. Such a show would probably bring so many fans to HBO Max that the service would time out, but alas, it was not meant to be.

Instead, veteran producer and great storyteller David Chase brings us a prequel, the Many Saints of Newark. Originally, I thought this title was a tongue in cheek way to refer to all the mobsters in young Tony Soprano’s life, but it actually is in reference to the name Moltisanti, fans remembering that Michael Imperioli’s Christopher was the tragic comic relief of the show, unable to free himself of his addictions, at war with himself over how he could win his Uncle Tony’s approval and how he could make enough money to strike out on his own.

The prequel movie focuses on Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola finally getting the recognition he deserves so many years after humorously dining on Tiramisu as one half of Nic Cage’s villainous brother duo in the classic so bad it’s good sci-fi flick Face/Off).

Dick and young Tony Soprano (played aptly by James Gandolfini’s son Michael, in many respects, the face, the voice, the gestures, you are convinced this is young Tony) have a relationship similar to that of Tony and Christopher in the show. Dickie is a rising star in the New Jersey mob. Young Tony thinks his uncle is pretty cool, but is too young to understand that the car, the clothes, the babes, all the things that make Dickie cool come from blood money.

The film focuses on a friendship between Dickie and African-American gangster Harold McBrayer (Leslie Odom Jr.) The 1960s, as students of history know, were a turbulent time, when civil rights were demanded and injustices often led to riots and violent, civil unrest. In all walks of life and professions, African Americans stood up and demanded more and well, though crime isn’t exactly a noble profession by any means, McBrayer demands more, pushing away from his role as Dickie’s henchman and striking out in illegal moneymaking schemes of his own, which eventually sets Dickie and Harold on a path to war.

To the movie’s credit (or discredit, whatever your opinion may be) it revels in fan service, fan service, and more fan service. We see young versions of the show’s characters. Though these performances are largely caricatures, one might argue that the whole series was one great big caricature of the mob to begin with. At any rate, we see a youthful Paulie Walnuts (Billy Magnussen) worried about getting blood on his suit and a spry Big Pussy Bonpensiero (Samson Moeakiola) before he digged too deep into the lasagna tray. We see a young Silvio (John Magaro) combatting hair loss with a variety of wigs. We see characters say and do things that were talked about in the series.

You might have to re-watch it to get some of the jokes and nods. The casual fan will still enjoy it, though it takes a re-watch to truly sit in anticipation of Corey Stall’s youthful rendition of Uncle Junior, just waiting for him to harangue Young Tony with his constant criticism of how Tony “doesn’t have the makings of a Varsity Athlete.”

Vera Farmiga, who I admit I have a longstanding crush on ever since her turn in The Departed) doesn’t just steal the show as a young version of Tony’s overbearing, aggressively passive-aggressive mother who would go on to force middle-aged Tony to spend a mint on psychotherapy with Dr. Melfi. It mad me sad to see that the beautiful Farmiga had to undergo all kinds of makeup to ugly her up and one might say she’s doing a caricature of the incomparable Nancy Marchand, the late actress who played Tony’s elderly mother in the series. At any rate, those of us who have gone through the not so fun experience of having parents who get old, who demand that we take over and just handle everything for them because they are too old to handle it now, yet they still want to be in charge because damn it, they’ve got more years than you do, can relate to Tony’s suffering. All in all, it’s equally eerie and funny when we sit in anticipation of Farmiga’s rendition of Livia’s “Oh, poor you!”

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. The movie has its moments. Lots of action. Plot twists. In many ways it does feel like an extended Sopranos episode, though with a star studded cast of actors and actresses who lend their talents to it largely because they probably wanted to be attached to such a well known property. Sidenote: Ray Liotta does an interesting turn as twin brothers, the gross old pervy Moltisanti patriarch who marries a younger woman and the twin brother who went to jail as a young man but somehow found wisdom wasting his life away in jail, wisdom he can never use to benefit himself but can impart it to Dickie if he’ll listen.

It’s worth a watch for fans, though in many ways, it does feel like we’re that 40-year old adult child who finally figured out how to move on from our beloved estranged father/series who left us too soon because they felt the time and resources were better spent on other things (like the middle aged dad who abandons his kids and buys a Ferrari and chases 20 something babes, showrunners and actors often leave popular series to chase after movie roles that rarely are as memorable as their series) and now the show has come back to us as a withered old 70 year old man, begging to take us to Coney Island and we have to decide whether we want to go because we’ll never get another chance to go or say no thanks, because we aren’t kids anymore and we can buy popcorn and cotton candy and ride tickets on our own, so no thanks, Pops. We hope those hot babes and Ferraris were worth it.

Double sidnote: As I watch the trailer, I can see how a viewer might be tricked into thinking this show is very Tony centric. Unfortunately, it’s all Dickie with occasional Tony. Going into it, I thought maybe we’d see Young Tony being called on to commit crimes, perhaps he wanted to steer clear of the crooked life, only for some big reason that draws him into it. It’s more a focus on the life of Dicki Moltisanti with a meditation on him not being sure how to help his nephew in his formative years, debating on whether he should be a bigger part of his life because the kid needs an adult to advise him, or to steer clear because the more involved he is in the kid’s life, the more he might pick up his uncle’s bad habits.

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Movie Review – Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

It’s official, 3.5 readers.

The first Asian avenger is here.

BQB with a review of the latest Marvel flick.

Post Endgame, it felt like Marvel might have hit a bit of a slump, story wise. SPOILER ALERT, certain big characters were written out of the narrative (Iron Man died, Captain America traveled back in time, lived his life in his time period, then got super old, Black Widow died.)

And while it’s not impossible in a comic book-verse to bring back the deceased (Black Widow came back in her titular movie via a prequel, Loki came back in a Disney Plus show via an uber complicated, I still don’t understand plot involving time travel and the multi-verse) it looks like Marvel’s lesser knowns, like Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange and company will be carrying the franchise’s water for a while.

(Yes, I know this is where comic book nerds throw a shoe at my head and tell me Captain Marvel and Dr. Strange aren’t lesser knowns but I mean, to the general, non-comic reading public at large?)

Long story short, Marvel flew this one under the radar. Not a ton of promotion unlike their others. Not a lot of hype. I thought by the trailer I see a couple months ago it was going to be good and low and behold, I was not disappointed.

The plot? Awkafina! I kid, but seriously, she serves as a tres adorbs plot device. Shaun (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) have been friends since junior high school and now as young adults, they act a lot like a couple though they have yet to admit it.

One day, their seemingly normal lives are upended when Shaun is attacked by a band of kick-ass baddies with mad kung-fu skills. When he breaks out some skills of his own and defeats them with ease, Katy becomes that character many movies have, the one the audience follows down the rabbit hole as all the rules of this new world are explained.

Turns out Shaun is really Shang-Chi and has hidden a secret life from his BFF/Possible GF for years. His father is the legendary Wenwu, an immortal figure who, with the aid of his super awesome ten rings, has secretly run the world for over a thousand years. Together, Shang and Katy must travel to China, confront Shang’s old man, save the world and yadda, yadda, yadda. I won’t spoil the rest.

There are some pretty great martial arts fight scenes, special effects, and tie-ins to the Avenger-verse that surprisingly hit the mark and aren’t clunky (i.e. they are good and not like the TV shows where someone will pretend that Thor just walked by and sorry you missed him.)

Overall, I do think Iron Man and Captain America were the two big draws of the Avengers films (though Spiderman is doing yeoman’s work as of late) but with Shang-Chi, Marvel is succeeding in breathing new, exciting life to the lesser knowns. Keep in mind as of 2008, the general non-comic reading public was only semi-familiar with the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor (everyone knew the Hulk) but they were built into powerhouses with rich back stories. For Shang-Chi, this was a great first shot across the bow and I have a hunch the next one could totally be a summer blockbuster that will put a lot of butts in seats (assuming the pandemic is over by then and we aren’t on the sigma variant or the epsilon variant or the woobie doobie variant or whatever.)

Bonus points for Awkwafina. I think she’s great in everything she does and is a prime example of how social media has given rise to a lot of stars who may never have had their chance to shine without this new technology. (Google her “My Vag” song for uproarious laughter even if you are a decade late to the party on that one.) To the film’s credit, they did’t make her outrageously wacky here, but still capitalized on the humor that would ensue if one day you discovered your BFF was secretly hiding a double life as a kung-fu master.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – The Losers (2010)

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

Just wanted to give a quick shout out to this fun flick I watched on Netflix last night. I saw it years ago and its sad how quickly the time has passed and of course, the things I didn’t notice or realize then that I do today.

What if I told you there was a movie featuring some of the biggest stars today in their bright eyed, bushy tailed youth? Here, you’ve got Chris Evans about a year before he became Captain America. Idris Elba before he became Thor’s BFF Heimdahl. Zoe Saldana before she became Gamora of Guardians of the Galaxy fame. Jeffrey Dean Morgan before he picked up Neegan’s bat in The Walking Dead.

In short, you’ve got some very young looking actors before they reached the heights of comic book movie fame, ironically in a comic book movie. Though it’s not very comic booky in that there are no capes or spandex, it is based on a comic. It’s about a squad of U.S. military, double-crossed and left for dead in Bolivia, forced to take on one last mission to save the world, promised that their names will be cleared and lives restored if they are successful.

Bonus points for Jason Patric who chews scenery as a villainy who positively exudes villainy (he freely shoots members of his entourage in public for making the slightest, most trivial mistakes) and his henchman, a brown haired young Holt McCallany, before he found his groove as gray haired FBI agent Bill Tench in Netflix’s Mindhunter.

It was a fun walk down memory lane and though I knew most of these actors at the time, it’s wild to think about how far they’ve all come in the decade since this movie. Sad there may never be a sequel because to get them all on the same set now would cost boku buckaroos.

Also, it’s short and sweet, about an hour and a half run time. They do a lot with a little and the action never stops.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Where does the time go? Watch on Netflix.

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Movie Review – The Suicide Squad (2021)

Crazy clown women! Super sucking starfish! Genuinely weird and wacky nonsense!

BQB here with a review of The Suicide Squad.

I’ve ranted about how DC totes wrecked its movie universe before, but let me sum it up with this early quote from Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), the hard ass G-Woman who bosses the squad around, in her intro of Bloodsport, an assassin played by Idris Elba:

“He’s in here for putting Superman in the ICU with a kryptonite bullet.”

Yeah, I know, right? My reaction upon hearing that was, “Wow, I’d much rather be watching that movie right now. An assassin who bests Supes with a krypto-bullet? I’d buy a ticket and munch some popcorn to that.”

But alas, DC handles its movies the way Marvel handles its shows. You want to see Iron Man and Hulk and Thor and Captain America? Not in a Marvel Show. In a Marvel show, some ancillary character will be like, “Oh you just missed Thor. He stopped by to grab a tea and a scone and bounced.”

But that’s ok. It’s just a show. You’ll see Thor in a movie.

Meanwhile, how long has it been since we seen Superman and Batman in a movie in this latest attempt at a DCU movie universe?

But I digress.

Long story short, these films are fun in the moment. Worth a watch. You’ll be entertained, but you won’t be wowed. They’re good movies, but they aren’t great and that’s sad because they could have been great.

For the uninitiated, SS is about super villains who get conscripted into service on dangerous missions to save the country, the world, the day or what have you. Agent Waller runs the show with a device that lets her explode the baddies’ heads with an implanted chip if they try to run or disobey orders. Word has it that Amazon is testing a similar device that will ‘splode employees if they even think about taking a pee break. (I kid, I kid. Wait, do I? Yes! Yes of course. I kid. I kid. Amazon would never do such a thing. Look, just because Jeff Bezos has a net worth that is more than most small nations and can travel into space whenever he wants does not mean he is a supervillain, OK?)

Moving on.

These aren’t the good villains though. You’ll never see a team-up between Joker and Lex Luthor, although to the film’s credit it, the SS comics feature the bottom of the barrel villains too (except Harley of course, she’ll always be number one to geeks everywhere.)

OK no more rambling. A fictional banana republic nation if under new, Anti-American management after a violent coup, and Waller dispatches her flunkies to secure the data behind U.S. involvement in a clandestine research facility where ghastly experiments are underway.

All hell breaks loose, and boy howdy does this film earn its R rating. So much blood. So much dismemberment and body parts flying everywhere. So many gratuitous F bombs. Now, I’m no teetotaler and I’m not against the occasional well-placed F-bomb, but I feel like all the comic book movie makers are trying to copy Deadpool, with the idea that they can just stuff dummies into costumes, make them say “Fuck” and the result will be as funny as DP and no, no it will not because Deadpool is a comic genius whose F-Bombs are strategically timed for optimal hilarity.

Rounding out the crew are Ratcatcher Two (controller of rats and daughter of Ratcatcher One), King Shark (voiced by Sly Stallone in his best work yet) whose power is that he can eat people, mostly foes but occasionally friends and not always on accident, Polka Dot Man (the power to hurl killer, colorful dots), The Peacekeeper (John Cena stealing the show as he says hilarious things in a deadpan serious tone. He is basically an evil Captain America. Very righteous. Very patriotic, loves peace but unlike Cap, he doesn’t care how many people he has to kill, often quite unnecessarily, to get it.

Cena really shines here and while I understand F9 wasn’t a comedy, I still don’t get why they didn’t give him more to work with in that latest FF offering.

STATUS: Shelf worthy. It’s fun but also gross and not for the feint of heart. Part of me enjoyed it and part of me wondered what has become of adults? Why were adults of previous generations so hard that studios knew not to bother making such nonsense for them because they wouldn’t want it. What has changed today? Does this mean that today’s adults are silly and less serious for lapping up such drek? Because this one is definitely not for the kids. Sure, it has a shark man and a polka dot man and a clown woman but nope….not for kids. Don’t let the kids watch this one.

I was one of a handful of people who thought the 2016 version was good and I don’t think this one lives up to it but it’s a good time just the same.

My last complaint is I didn’t like what they did with Waller’s character. She is usually portrayed as very calm, cool and collected. She speaks matter of factly, never loosing her cool. She plays chess while others play checkers and is adept at forcing, blackmailing and pushing people to do bad things, literally nothing is too bad if it will keep America afloat, but she is rather stoic while doing it.

Here, she’s a screaming, obscenity spewing mess and I didn’t like it. It’s just not the badass Waller we came to know in the original.

Stream it on HBO Max…whenever HBO Max is working (which for me, isn’t often. They def have some kinks to work out of that service.)

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Movie Review – F9 (2021)

It’s all about faaaaaaamily, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of the ninth installment of this long-running gearhead fest.

Alright, I’m just going to say it. I was disappointed. I didn’t want to be, but I was. For the past decade, seeing that a Fast and Furious movie was out was like having a three day old piece of pizza in the fridge. I know it’s there. I know I shouldn’t eat it. I know I’m going to be sick later but during the moment of consumption, it’s going to be oh, so enjoyable.

Long standing franchises are, in a way, like old fridge pizza. They’re not the best choice, but you know what you’re getting. Just like that pizza will have nice, cold sauce and perfectly congealed cheese, so too will Star Wars always have awesome lightsaber duels and James Bond will always ask for his martinis to be shaken, not stirred. It’s all mostly sub-par, but dependable, and occasionally, a masterpiece happens once every five years or so – just like Fast and Furious’ Fast Five (see the scene where Dom and Brian drive a bank safe down a Brazillian highway via cords attached to Dodge Chargers for more) or Star Wars’ Empire Strikes Back (see the whole thing for more) or James Bond’s Skyfall (again, see the whole thing for more) or that run of pizza pies in 2017 when Vinny’s Pizza hired a pizza chef from Italy and he made some fantastic pies before he left and started his own restaurant.

But I digress.

Here’s what I have come to expect from “The Fast Saga.” These are the three reasons I have, time and time again, plunked my cash down on the ticket counter:

#1 – Scantily clad women. (Yes, I said it. I don’t know how we all became puritans all of a sudden but yes, men like to watch movies in which hotties with little to nothing on shake their moneymakers. Shocking, I know.)

#2 – Bald, testosterone addled musclebound bodybuilders beating the crap out of each other. (It reminds men of their cavemen days when they would lift rocks all day so as to grow their muscles large and then they would challenge each other to fisticuffs in order to impress the hairy cave women.)

#3 – Insane, borderline comical car stunts. (There was an Onion video years ago where a newsman says he’s going to interview the screenwriter of the Fast and Furious franchise. Cut to a little boy smashing his toy cars together saying stuff like, “And then Dom is gonna drive his car really fast and jump over a train and then Brian is gonna jump his car over a helicopter and…” Yes, that’s pretty much the writing process.

So, why am I disappointed?

In this outing, I only got #3. Getting all three makes these movies great and sometimes two out of three ain’t bad, but three is all you get here. You might argue we get 2 because Vin Diesel is in it and he’s as big and bald as ever but it’s never been more obvious than it was in this installment that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham have been carrying these films on the shoulders just below their big, bald heads.

Seriously, that’s what this movie was lacking. It needed Hobbs. It needed Shaw. Obviously, as the proprietor of a blog that is only read by 3.5 readers, I was not privy to the creative process of this film and/or why The Rock and J-Stath took a powder in this go-around, but I can only assume it’s because Universal blew their bald, muscular action star budget on 2019’s Fast and Furious Presents Hobbs and Shaw, which, though a fun flick, might have been penny wise and pound foolish, for they really need to be present in “the saga” itself for it to continue.

And sure, this film tries to pull out all the cameo stops. Various appearances from this person and that person where you squint and say, “Oh yeah, I think they were in that FF movie from like, seven years ago. Wow, that’s some fabulous continuity!” but none of it compares to our favorite chrome domed warriors.

Sure, John Cena is in it. He’s big. He’s muscular. He’s not bald though. For a true action flick, the stars must be bald, because then you realize that this dude is so big and bad that even his hair ran away screaming in terror one night and with a full head of hair, you know Cena isn’t that tough if his hair isn’t afraid of him.

All kidding aside though, I was excited to see that Cena was joining the cast, but I don’t think they gave him enough to do. He has carried films before (See 2006’s The Marine and the grossly unrecognized 12 Rounds (2009) for more.) If he’s to return in future FF’s, I hope they let him off the proverbial chain.

BTW he stars as Dom’s long-lost, totes estranged brother, who became super evil over a brotherly spat. In any other film series, introducing a here-to-fore never discussed brother who has been committing acts of super-villainy for years but has never been discussed would be considered a gaping plot hole, but this series, to its credit, is self-aware and slaps its holes shut with a wink and some silly putty.

Alright, so it fails on #2.

Does it succeed on #3? Of course. There are some truly insane, awesome car chases. Part of me wants to say there isn’t anything as awesome as, say, Cypher’s taking control of all the cars in the city and hurling them at Dom like a kid who just dumped out a tub full of Matchbox cars (ala The Fate of the Furious) or Fast Five’s bank vault down the highway scene, but there are still some pretty intense scenes. I suppose I shouldn’t give it away (SPOILER WARNING) so I’ll just say that electromagnets, a Tarzan-like swing (from a cable…across a ravine…in a damn car…crap I said I wouldn’t say it but I did, oh well just pretend I didn’t) and space are all involved.

But I must say, the movie fails, utterly, fails when it comes to #1. There are no scantily clad females to be seen at any point in this film’s much too long 143 minute run time. I mean, seriously, you can get me to sit down for car chases, but if you want to keep me glued for two and a half hours, there needs to be some hot babes in various states of undress.

Just as we can always count on James Bond to ask for his martini to be shaken and not stirred, so too can we always count on a FF movie to have at least one drag race scene where a voluptuous vixen in skimpy attire drops the flag, a signal to the gearheads that it’s time to step on the gas.

A mere 4 years ago, 2017’s Fate of the Furious gave us a scene in Cuba where a hot babe with a dress so short and revealing that I honestly wondered if maybe there was a wardrobe malfunction where maybe she left the skirt in the dryer too long and it shrunk and no one from the wardrobe department noticed. You caught glimpse of partial cheeks and everything and I’m just saying that as a movie buff and not as a lonely man who ran that scene back a hundred times.

Flash forward to today and naturally, there was a drag race scene, but the flag dropper just wore a pair of jeans. Like, not even revealing jeans. Like, Costco dungarees two sizes too big. She didn’t give a rousing speech or anything. It was just like, “Eh, this is my job. I’m the flag dropper. Here, flag dropped. Done.”

“But BQB” you might say. FF has a number of recurring, hot female characters. Surely…”

No. Charlize Theron reprises her role as the villain Cypher, but she’s barely in it. She’s in a glass cage in most of her parts, kind of suggestive of Charlize maybe saying, “Yeah, I’ll be in this stinker if I can show up for a day, two days tops and do all my lines in a glass cage and then I’m out.”

But just in case you were worried you might be aroused, they gave her a Moe Howard style bowl cut. I don’t have time in this post to rant about the growing trend where Hollywood seems to feel like the only way that female characters can be empowered with strength is to dude them up (see Teela in the He-Man sequel cartoon for more.)

Look, I’m not saying that’s what they were going for here because again, I wasn’t privy to the decision making process. All I’m saying is they took one of the most beautiful female movie stars today and made her look like a grumpy 1930s male comedian. That’s all I’m saying.

Oh, I almost forgot, there is a Cardi B cameo.

“Oh thank God, BQB, the movie is saved!” you might say. “Cardi is known for her popular music videos where she shows off her impressive, bouncy derriere. Surely, she…”

Yeah, she and a group of super hot chicks save Dom whilst clad head to toe in SWAT team body armor. Oh, sorry, I should have announced a spoiler. SPOILER ALERT – Dom gets saved from the baddies by being arrested by a SWAT team, only for the big reveal later to be that the SWAT team removes their helmets to show they are a team of hot chicks led by Cardi B. (Being 5 feet tall didn’t give it away.)

So, anyway, if a lady rapper known for showing off her hiney having said hiney covered by kevlar is your thing, then by all means, turn this movie on and knock yourself out.

Look, I get it. We are in the #MeToo era. It was a long time coming. Some very bad men in the entertainment industry got the comeuppance they so richly deserved. All I’m saying is, it seems unjust that average chumps like me who, let’s face it, the closest we’ll ever come to a hot babe is seeing them in the movies, have to suffer because of the terrible acts of evil men.

I mean…seriously. Harvey Weinstein is an uber sleezy pervert for thirty years, and literally all of Hollywood covers for him for thirty years…and rather than just punish him and his ilk…I have to be denied my one every 4 year chance to oggle hot bikini babes in an FF movie.

BOTTOMLINE:

STRIKE #1 – They can’t afford big time action stars like The Rock and Statham anymore, and frankly, I don’t really see a lot of action star talent coming out of the millenial generation. Unless the next film involves an avocado toast heist, this franchise might, itself, become toast.

STRIKE #2 – No more hotties in skimpy outfits because Harvey Weinstein was a pervert. I mean, look, I’m no Hollywood expert, but there probably are women who would very much like to show off their hot bods on film, so like, Hollywood, if you could get all the necessary lawyers together in a room and hash out all the various and sundry consent forms to make sure these women really do want to appear on film in various states of undress, maybe even hire a bona fide fortune teller who can predict whether the women won’t regret it later and then like, once the consent decrees are signed in triplicate and the fortune teller or the Minority Report style pre-cog guarantees that the woman won’t regret it in the future and alright….I can see how getting a woman naked for the big screen has now officially become more complicated than launching a nuclear missile so…yeah, fine…just put the drag race flag wavers in jeans from now on…maybe a nice turtle neck…goose down parka. You know what? All women in this franchise should just appear under piles of 50 blankets or more. Thanks Harvey. Thanks a lot. A-hole.

WHAT SAVES IT – The insane car stunts, though I fear it’s only a matter of time before those are taken away too. Someone will complain that all this driving at high octane speeds is bad for the environment, so the next film will probably be Dom drag racing a Prius. The flag dropper will be Sister Mary Elizabeth from Our Lady of the Perpetual Iron Underwear. She’ll come out in full habit, drop the flag, and then Dom will floor his environmentally conscious ride all the way to the Quinoa stand.

STATUS – Moderately shelf-worthy, but on life support. You’ll be entertained and it’s worth a watch, but it’s not what it used to be. You know, it’s funny, when I saw the ads where it showed Cena vs. Vin, I thought “Wow, they’re kicking it up a notch” but then after a half hour in I was like, “Wait…no Rock? No Statham.” I don’t know why I thought they’d be in this one. I guess you just come to expect it but I realized “Oh yeah, they weren’t in the ads. Crap.”

So, you know, times, they are a changing and I suppose movies are made for the young, though I admit I have never seen a generation in so much of a hurry to be old. Maybe they can reboot the franchise with a new cast, perhaps one where Dom has a fedora and glasses and urges his Uber driver to drive at a brisker pace so he can be the first in line at the soy latte stand. The Uber drag race can be kicked off by a hot babe wearing a cardboard box.

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Movie Review – The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021)

Time for a review, 3.5 em-effers.

The original Hitman’s Bodyguard, released, wow 4 years ago already, was a surprise hit, one of those original films where your faith in Hollywood is restored and you’re happy to see something fun and new. In that outing, you might recall that Ryan Reynold’s disgraced bodyguard character, Michael Bryce, was totes depressed over losing a client to a hitman…and alas, in order to save the day, he must protect that hitman, Samuel L. Jackson as Darius Kincaid, the professional killer who shares Jackson’s penchant for saying the word “mother-effer,” from certain doom so he can testify against a war criminal.

In that role, we were introduced to Kincaid’s wife, Sonia, (Salma Hayek) equal to her husband when it comes to a penchant for violence and obscenity. In this go-around, the trio must, once again, band together to save, not just the day but the world, for an evil billionaire (Antonio Banderas) has vowed to crush Europe in retaliation against economic sanctions levied on Greece.

As sequels go, it’s fun, full of lots of great action scenes and hilarity. Once that band-aid is ripped off the first, the second outing is rarely as good once we’ve become used to something, but still, worth your time.

STATUS: Shelf worthy. One of those movies I meant to see and ended up renting on TV, so I do wonder about the future of theaters. I do want theaters to remain in business and yet, if they’re going to keep putting blockbusters on my TV, I’ll probably remain to lazy to go to the theater when a blockbuster is available at the push of a button.

Bonus points to this film for having one of the hardest titles to say. Try saying it three times fast.

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