Time to assemble the Lethal Protectors, 3.5 readers.
This movie is:
It’s rare that dumb movies are fun. Usually, they just stay dumb. This one, like its predecessor is about Venom, an alien symbiote that fused with reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy). Together, they are a crime fighting duo with Eddie using his research skills to find out the dirt on the baddies and Venom, well…he beats them into submission and then eats them because like a zombie, he needs to feed on brains. Overall, they’re a dastardly Dexter-like duo. They need to kill. Left to his own devices, Venom would kill and eat anyone, but Eddie is the conscience that demands he only eat those who really, really deserve it.
In this go around, “The Lethal Protectors” as Venom calls them in 1980s action sitcom fashion, fight off Carnage, an alien symbiote attached to Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), a serial killer who has it in for Eddie on account of how our intrepid journalist exposed his crimes and put him on death row.
It all culminates in the ultimate grudge match. Good and bad symbiotes. Who will win?
Yeah, I know. It all sounds horribly stupid and yet, it’s a good time. Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams are such serious, gravitas carrying, Oscar caliber actors that it is surreal to see them let their hair down in this flick that really is among the dumbest of comic book premises. I mean, it’s not Howard the Duck dumb but still, it is pretty dumb. Venom’s scary yet King’s English style, perfectly precise voice where he says serious yet unintentionally hilarious things sells the film.
Adding to the dumbness is that Venom, as a concept, is originally a Spiderman villain, an alien symbiote that took the form of an evil version of Spidey’s suit. For reasons above my brain capacity, Spidey couldn’t be mentioned in the first film (different studios own different characters or whatever) but apparently that got ironed out as our favorite webslinger is mentioned in this one.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I did feel like I wasted a bit of my life watching it, but the laughs were worth it.
Wow. Color me shocked, 3.5 readers. I think Marvel has its very first flop on its hands.
BQB here with a review of The Eternals.
At the outset, I think this movie suffers from the same problem as The Fantastic Four. Too many characters without enough time to explain who they are and what they are doing. At least with the Fab 4 there are only four but here there are like a dozen so throughout the movie you’re like, “Wait? Who is that again? Whoa! Who is that?”
The plot? A race of immortal beings was sent to Earth thousands of years ago, tasked with saving humanity from the deviants – i.e. giant space monsters who like to eat humans. They have been given strict instructions to keep a low profile and blend in and under no circumstances can they interfere with the affairs of man, thus explaining why they never helped the Avengers battle this villain or that one and so on. For some reason, they are allowed to help humans with technological advances but they have to take a powder when humans use that tech to slaughter each other because humans will never learn how to be good unless they first make the mistake of being bad.
So, alright. A movie about immortal beings who spend eternity in the shadows, doing illuminati stuff to advance the world. Sounds interesting but then, um…I don’t know. There’s um….some frigging giant space man in space that they talk to and they start fighting each other over whether they should save the humans from themselves and um I get confused but I think the giant space man who I guess is their boss intends to blow up the planet and harvest it for its energy or some such nonsense and the immortals have to decide if they should save the humans from their space man boss and OW! I think I had a brain aneurysm from thinking too much.
Seriously. Holy shit. Therein lies the rub. Comic book movies shouldn’t require anyone to think this much. I’m not saying there isn’t room for thinking, but when I need to bring a flowchart and a slide rule into the theater just to keep track of who everyone is and what they are doing, blech. Fahgeddaboudit.
It has its moments. Kumail Nanjiani brings needed levity as an immortal who is in love with himself, having spent the past 100 years as a Bollywood movie star.
But then again, it has its strange moments…like, for example, why is Angelina Jolie, the hottest woman in the world, relegated to a bit part? I guess because she’s playing the hottest immortal but still. Kinda feels like this movie might be beneath her.
STATUS: Wow, I can’t believe I’m doing this but this is the first Marvel film I’m going to rank as…NOT SHELF WORTHY! To quote The Critic, “It stinks.” It really does. There are moments toward the end where it teases a forthcoming sequel and this is the first time when I’m like, “Nah. That’s OK. Don’t bother.” It’s also the first Marvel film that I wouldn’t bother watching again when it hits streaming.
I mean, there’s a lot of visual beauty to it and it’s very epic as it takes us through thousands of years, showing us what the immortals did through various periods of human history but um…honestly the plot is so convoluted I’m still not sure what it’s about.
We’ve entered Marvel’s scraping the bottom of the barrel phase. No more Captain America, Iron Man, Thor or Hulk. Now it’s those characters that only the real hardcore deep diving nerds know about. Shang Chi kicked it off and was pretty decent but I’m not sure where Marvel goes from here because if the Eternals are part of the big ensemble that will eventually be recruited to fight off the next big bad…I mean, I’m not going to pay to sleep through another movie so…
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.
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.
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?)
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.)
At the outset, I have to say this show is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Some thoughts on why that is, in no particular order:
#1 – It’s a Gotham based, DC character infused show, that’s for adults and when I say it’s for adults, I mean, it’s for adults. It’s weird. Watch with the sound down for a minute and you might be lulled into thinking it’s a kids show. I mean, superheroes are for kids, right? But no…there’s swearing and sex and uber violence like very serious graphic violence. You don’t want to let your kids watch this. I know, Batman and Co. are for kids, right? Nope, not this show, which brings us to…
#2 – It’s a parody of the DC Universe and the comic book genre. It focuses on Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and in season one, we see Gotham’s top she-clown break up with The Joker (ala Birds of Prey) and come out from Mr. J’s shadow, fighting to be thought of as a supervillain who stands on her own evil merits and not as the Clown Prince of Crime’s sidekick. Along the way, DC’s long laundry list of main characters (heroes and villains) are trotted out and poked fun of…but the best jokes are reserved for the lesser knowns, the goofy characters you’ve unlikely ever heard of before, or maybe heard of once in passing.
Examples? Harley’s BFF Poison Ivy dates Kite Man, and that’s his power. He has a kite that pops out of the back of his suit so he can fly around. Pretty useless character, right? You’d think so until you meet such lackluster Batman opponents as Calendar Man, Condiment Man, and so on.
Overall, the writers had a fun time pointing out the silliness of the comic book world and yet…
#3 – The plots are well laid out and surprisingly riveting. In season 1, we see Harley recruit a crew of lesser knowns like Dr. Psycho, King Shark and Clayface to take on Gotham’s worst villains and fight her way up to the top of the food chain. In season 2, Gotham lies in ruins and Harley and Friends team up with Commissioner Gordon, Bat Girl and yes, even Batman to prevent the city from meeting its doom. This leads me to…
#4 – It saddens me what DC decided to do with its theatrically released movies. Here, in this cartoon, the writers set out to parody DC and comic book culture and yet, created a more coherent plot than the DC films did. As you watch, bread crumbs are laid out and they lead to something. There’s a laundry list of characters yet they all get their time to shine. Slowly but surely, the writers introduce you to their silly versions of these characters and then build up their silly version of Gotham. Watching actually pays off and you don’t leave feeling like you were jerked around. Ultimately, that’s all the fans wanted from the DC movies.
#5 – At first, I did wonder whether maybe an adult version of the DC universe was something worth making. After all, aren’t these characters for kids? Shouldn’t adults grow up and put away childish things? Drop the F bombs, cut out the uber violence and naughtyness and create something the whole family can enjoy? But then again, that leads me to…
#6 – This is the hands down funniest thing I’ve seen on TV in awhile. Somehow, it walks a fine line between keeping the wokesters happy and delivering jokes that push PC boundaries. For more of what I’m talking about, see Poison Ivy’s takedown of the Condiment King with the help of her sidekick, Frank the Plant (JB Smoove stealing the show as a man eating Venus fly trap). “Change of plans, sauce fucker.”
FINAL THOUGHTS: In the end, all we fans ever wanted is for writers to build a world. Yes, the DC characters reside in a world that we know ad nauseum, so no, we don’t need to see young Bruce Wayne’s parents get shot by a mugger outside the theater for the 1,000 time. We don’t need to see Superman’s baby sized space ship crash in a cornfield behind the Kents’ house for the 1,000th time either. With new TV shows and movies comes new versions of old characters and all we ask is to be introduced to your new versions, get to know them, then let things build. Comedy writers did that here and one day DC might figure out how to make a cinematic universe that the whole family can enjoy.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Bonus points for Kaley Cuoco who I think is great in everything she does and is underutilized by Hollywood. See this show on HBO Max.
The plot is pretty intricate, like a comic book spy thriller with lots of twists and turns. The part where SPOILER Nick Fury gets pinned down by bad guys while his car AI is rebooting is particularly intense.
My second favorite would have to be Captain America: Civil War. I guess I’m partial to Captain America movies.
BQB here. Just wanted to share this video that’s been making the rounds. A bunch of kids at an Arizona high school did an Avengers themed dance routine and I have to say, it’s pretty on point. Everything is so detailed that they had to have spent a ton of time on this. The songs are keyed into the characters, they do battles, there weren’t any screw ups as far as I can tell, I mean, these kids could go pro.
I’ve got to stop seeing movies in January, 3.5 readers. I really do.
BQB here with a review of Glass.
It’s funny how things come around full circle. Nineteen years ago, I saw M. Knight Shyamalan’s Unbreakable and thought it was a ridiculous pile of crap. Nearly two decades later, the literally waited for by no one sequel is equally crappy.
Hollywood types have got to start asking themselves a key question – just because they CAN make a movie, does it mean they should? No, I get the free speech argument. I’m not telling them to not make a shitty movie if that is their desire. I also get that shit is in the eye of the beholder. Overall though, I just wonder if there is limited time and money to make a movie, then maybe a movie maker should make a good movie rather than a shitty one. Worse, maybe take a risk on a movie with a good idea but no history rather than slap together a pile of crap because it has characters who were in the pile of crap years ago and now making endless sequels to everything, no matter how crappy, is the vogue thing to do.
Poor. M. Knight. I’m really going to take a dump on this movie. But the twist is that I’m going to pee on it too.
Ironically, 2016’s Split was good…and also a January movie. I wrote on this fine blog that perhaps it was the start of a Shyamalanassaince. It was a decent, scary part-horror/part-thriller/part-mystery about a shrink working with the so-called good personalities of a schizophrenic to defeat an incoming monstrous personality.
Top notch, Knight. Shoulda stopped there. Take the win. Move on.
Alas, Knight (because I refuse to write Shama…malamalama…whatever…a hundred more times) doubled down. He decided to pit James McAvoy’s “Split” character against the Bruce Willis character, with evil assistance from the Samuel L. Jackson character, both from Unbreakable.
Though in the ending of Split, it looked like a movie in which Willis’ indestructible vigilante, David Dunn, hunts “The Beast” i.e. the worst of “The Horde” or the collective name for all of McAvoy’s character’s personalities, it turns out to have been a shitty idea.
There’s little hunt to be had. Instead, Dunn, Horde and Glass find themselves in the same looney bin. A shrink (Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple) arrives on the scene, claiming to be the world’s foremost expert on convincing screwballs to stop believing they are comic book super heroes…because apparently, that’s a real, legit thing that people study…that or no one in Hollywood wants to tell Knight no.
Dr. Staple subjects the trio to all manner of experiments, drilling it into them that their so-called powers are not real but rather, anything extraordinary they have done is just pure coincidence. The Beast isn’t really strong. He just managed to push away some jail bars that were rotting. David isn’t really indestructible. He has just been really lucky in avoiding death thus far. And Mr. Glass may be smart, but so are other people, and his gift really just lies in talking chumps into thinking he’s a genius.
There are way too many logical leaps you have to take. With three highly infamous nutjobs all under one roof, the mental hospital has ridiculously lax security. Allusions are made to a showdown at a new, state of the art tower but the trio never get past a show down in the nut house parking lot.
Overall, it’s dumb. Just plain dumb. It’s cool that Spence Treat Clarke, Dunn’s son from the first film, is back and all grown up as his father’s assistant in vigilante crime fighting. In fact, the first twenty minutes of the film make it look like a real treat – that Willis is going to track this psycho through the streets of Philly with the help of his son. Alas, it just gets dumb after that. Pure dumbness.
STATUS: Not shelf-worthy. Seeing this and Serenity in the same weekend just makes me weep for Hollywood’s future. I feel like Knight shot himself in the foot here, because Split was good, but rather than just take the win and think of a whole new idea, he did the old “Let me take a part of a movie that people liked and put it with a part of a movie that people might remember and serve it up like a three bean casserole and hey, it has a bit of recognizability so maybe people will see it.” Ugh. Please don’t see it. Stop encouraging Knight. I know he’s got talent. He just has to stop chasing that twist dragon. He got on it with The Sixth Sense and then he never let it go. He thinks he’s going to outdo his past twists and he never will. Knight, really, it’s ok. You can make a story that does not have a twist. In fact, a movie from you without a twist? That would be the greatest twist of all.
This is a nerdy blog so you can expect I’d have to say something about Stan Lee.
I guess my first memories of him are when I was a kid, watching Spiderman cartoons on Saturday mornings and hearing him narrate, calling the kids listening “True believer” and using his catchphrase, “Excelsior!”
It’s sad but it is also hard to feel bad because a) 95 is about the best anyone can hope for b) I’m not sure how well he was physically but he was doing well enough that he appeared in cameos in every Marvel movie since 2008 and that’s better than any of my 70 plus relatives were ever able to do c) he was a rare person who not only created something but also did what he wanted his whole life and made a good living at it and d) he lived long enough that he got to see his creations draw big time box office gold. Sure, they were always possible in comic book form and in cartoons and toys but it wasn’t until just the past couple of decades when Marvel based movies really came into their own. He got to see it.
Most of all, his heroes were flawed. While Superman was Mr. Perfect, Lee’s characters struggled with their abilities. They wanted to do the right thing but they didn’t always know what the right thing was. They screwed up, made mistakes, felt bad about it, learned how to cope with failure, etc.
When I was a kid I started an autograph collection, writing to celebrities to ask for an autograph to see if they’d write back. Most didn’t but sure enough, I got an autographed photo of Stan in the mail sent in a Marvel Comics envelope. I wish I’d saved the envelope. I’ll have to dig the photo out and post a pic of it. I’ve always wondered if the signature is real or if it is a pre-printed signature but either way it was cool. I’m sure it was just some assistant who sent it but still, cool.
Finally, here’s a cameo that a lot of people probably forgot but Gen Xers like me remember, Stan in Mallrats, trying to talk Brodie into being a better boyfriend to his girlfriend.
Man, my friends and I watched this movie so many times when we were kids. Where does the time go?