Alright. Honesty time. With everything going on this week, after my first thoughts video (see here), I completely forgot about this. I usually like to take some time afterwards to write out a more detailed, still non-spoiler review. As much as I’ve been talking about the Marvel Studios/Sony Spider-Man: Far From Home this weekend, you’d figure it’d be impossible, but I forgot nonetheless. Anyway, here we go. My thoughts haven't swayed at all. This film plays the role of epilogue & sequel delightfully. Coming in as a more than solid sequel to Homecoming, while also putting a nice little bow on the 10 years we've decided to call The Infinity Saga. We get plenty of growth from every member of the Homecoming class. Tom Holland is great as Spider-Man, & watching how he develops as Peter Parker has been delightful. He's the perfect amount of awkward to personify the role. Even in his awkward relationship with MJ. It’s not just Holland that displays growth too. The layering to these characters epitomize teenage life. Adding to the cast this time around besides the always perfect Sam Jackson as Nick Fury is Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio. Hero from another dimension. Who also adds layers to this character in a role we’ve never seen the character step into. I love what they do with him. Gyllenhaal is amazing. Even more so, I like how they bring a really good explanation to Mysterio's power set. As with the original incarnation it's based in special FX. Which I always found weird in the books. As much as I love effects, they’re still not real. The way this film gets around this is one of my favorite things about it. Don’t want to get to into it as Marvel is making it harder & harder to review these without accidentally dropping major spoilers. Besides being an almost on par, if not on par sequel to the original, another place this film shines is in its epilogue quality. Capping off 10 years of anything is a chore. They do it perfectly, it feels like the issue that caps off a major comic book event. Basking us in the fallout, while giving us hints as where we could next. I love at one point the villain basically gives a social commentary on how we are in real life with these comic films while talking about people in their world. The two post credit scenes are awesome. The first gives us a look towards the future of Spider-Man, while the second gives us the same for the whole of the MCU. Loved this film though. Can’t wait to see it again. Everything I could've asked for to back up Homecoming while helping come back down to earth after the insaneness that was Endgame. Curious y’all's thoughts? As you see it let me know in the comments, like, & share.
After my first thoughts video (here), I usually like to take a couple days before I write out a more full set of non-spoiler thoughts. This time, with Toy Story 4, I took an extra day. Mainly because I'm having trouble getting how I feel about this film across. I watched the originals, 1 a day before going into this one, & that could've been a mistake. Those films, being animated perfection with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 100%, 98%, & 100%, set the bar pretty high. And while this fourth installment is great, I didn't feel it made to that original level. That's where I'm having trouble with this one. It's a really good, if not great film, there's just something about it that didn't give it that extra nudge into perfection for me. Hands down, this was probably the funniest installment. The new characters dominate this latest Toy Story, & they are hilarious. Forky, Ducky, Bunny, & Duke Caboom totally steal every scene. This installment is very heavy on the new characters. Especially if you include Bo Peep with her new look. It's pretty much all them with Woody, & a little Buzz on the side. Bonnie almost even gets more screen time than the rest of the toys we all started this ride with or accumulated along the way. And even though this may be the funniest Toy Story, I feel like ending aside, it just didn't give me the "feels" this series up until now has been known for. A small gripe to have when a film is this entertaining. My only other gripe would have to be tossed aside as having to do with my own expectations going in. I wasn't much on the villain. Though the ventriloquist dolls were terrifying, Gabby Gabby just didn't give me the payoff I was expecting. I don't want to get to spoilery, I'll just say I was expecting more villainy to this character than I got. We seem to do that a lot more now though. I didn't hate it, just was hoping for something far more sinister. There were no extreme gripes at all really, except for it not living up to perfection status. It's still a highly satisfying film. I do also have to throw in that Pixar is making this whole animation thing look easy now. Insane levels of detail throughout the film has these toys looking almost real at times. All in all while I feel this franchise didn't need a fourth installment, it still manages to pull it off nicely. Turning a great sendoff into what should be a now definite sendoff, that while may not be a 100% entry, dosen't fall below 95% on my scorecard. That said, as much as I did enjoy this, I'm not sure i want a round 5. No matter the direction they choose to take. Unless they're opening it up for a series maybe. Very funny film though, even the end credits. Any Toy Story fan will leave happy. It's hard to even meet perfect, but this one definitely gives one heckuvan effort.
Avengers: Endgame. Probably the most anticipation I've ever felt for a movie. If you've seen my first thoughts video (here), you know I not only was pretty excited leaving this film, I highly enjoyed it as well. In fact, I didn't think they could top Infinity War, but this one does 10 fold. If you've been keeping up I like to let these set in a little before coming here & writing out a more full, still spoiler free, review. Spoiler free is going to be hard with this one as every scene could potentially be a spoiler. The Russo brothers were not lying when they said the trailers were pretty much in the first 30 minutes, if real footage at all. I'm gonna handle this one a little different than usual & talk about my only negative first.Read More
So, if you haven't seen my first thoughts video on Disney's follow-up fifty plus years in the making you can see it here. As always though I like to let these sink in a little more, & write out a more full review. Mary Poppins Returns will be no exception to that, even though I might have took an extra day or two this time around. As I said in my first thoughts many times, this film had an uphill battle from its inception. To try to follow up a classic, 50 plus years old no less, that has stood that test of time in almost every way, is no easy feat. And even though this one doesn't quite measure up to match its predecessor being practically perfect in every way, it does manage to hold it's own as a more than solid, highly enjoyable sequel. I'm gonna break this down into sections starting first with the overall story. This is where this movie really shines. It picks up with a grown up, widowed Michael Banks just finding out he's losing his childhood home to the bank, while at the same time raising his own three, highly grown up for their ages, kids of his own. Of course his sister Jane is by his side to help out, but the Banks kids are once again in need of Mary Poppins. Oh, and Michael's kids are too. What sounds like a simple story on paper, as they try to find lost bank shares to help pay for the house, turns into a at times heartbreaking tale, filled with magic & lessons abound. The real beauty to it being how well it not only picks up in a perfect place, but totally parallels the original's theme, without taking the easy way out of just copying its successes verbatim. On top of this, the film is absolutely beautiful. From the animated scene, to the dance choreography, to even just the overall use of color, saying this film's beautiful is an understatement. Now when it comes to the acting Emily Blunt owned this movie in the title role. She made this movie Mary Poppins' movie. Which I always thought of the original as Mary & Bert's film. With Dick van Dyke stealing the scene just as much as Julie Andrews. Not the case in this film. There will be no argument, this was Emily Blunt's film. And she was perfect, fully resisting the urge to just copy what Andrews had already done, she made this character her own. There were times it was so her own, I felt she was almost even out if character, but then I would tell myself that Mary is here for different reasons this time around. So as much as she comes when she's needed, she comes in the form she's needed as well. The more I think about it, the more I really like this extra layer to the character. Another shining piece of performance goes to the three kids, who were absolutely amazing. They struck acting gold with those three. Lin-Manuel Miranda was good, but as the main side character to Mary I feel he just fell a little short. His singing & dancing was great. It's just his acting fell a little short when you compare him to his predecessor Bert. He held his own, but he couldn't quite get on that level to rival Blunt. Which would have made him that equal part like Van Dyke did in the original. A major example of that was Dick van Dyke's cameo in this film, where he steals the scene from everyone. Two major differences in this film were an actual villain, who demands your hate, & the fact that this one was a little more Broadway than the original. I mention this Broadway feel now because there was one spot that I feel this negatively affected the film. And that's in Meryl Streep's character. She was the one dance scene to many in my eyes, & I would have loved to see her character used much like Ed Wynn's in the first. I think using her in a strictly comedic role, light on the music, would have added much to her role, & to the film as a whole. The tea party on the ceiling was actually one of my favorite parts of the original, & this would have been a perfect place to pay homage to that scene. Now this is a musical, so we have to mention that. I walked out of this with the original music still stuck in my head. Now, that said, I enjoyed all but one song in this film. However, none of the music was quite up to the original's. An impossible feat by the way, as the original had some of the best music to ever be put on film. One of the songs is just guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes, but a lot of this music had more of a Broadway feel in my opinion. Not a bad thing, just something I noticed. Out of all of them i absolutely loved "Trip the Light Fantastic", & the choreography that went with it. An amazing scene. Overall, I highly enjoyed this film, & would recommend it to anyone. You'll just feel better about life as a whole after watching it. It didn't hit the impossible goal set before it 50 plus years ago, but that by no means is a failure. This is a great film, & as sequels usually go, it's even better than that. I'd love to know & discuss your thoughts as you see the film. Put them in comments, like, & share.
If you've already seen my first thoughts video (here), then you know I rather enjoyed Disney's A Wrinkle In Time for what it was. If you haven't, there's that really big, "for what it was" attached. That's because this movie was definitely for a younger audience, & therefore needed to be watched through younger eyes. That in mind, I thought this was a good family fantasy film. Not great, yet not horrible, it falls into the good category. Which in some people's minds is ceasing to exist. Speaking of that younger audience though, I felt like this film was really targeting the early teen age group of it's main star, & it should be a must see if you have early to mid teens. That being said, this is way to whimsicle & cute in the trailers to ever be on their radar. Sad thing, because this film contains an amazing message on growing up & loving yourself. The film is a beautiful spectacle when it's really on, but that goes against itself when it gives you some uninspired backdrops in key places. Most noticeably in the scenes with the Happy Medium & the film's climax. However, I will say those scenes were highly helped while viewing in 3D. It added depth to what would've looked flat & basic. In fact, if this is released in 3D will probably be the deciding factor on whether I buy this or not. Now, actor for actor, Storm Reid's Meg steals the whole show. This little girl is amazing, putting up experienced, adult level acting. Levi Miller was good as her friend Calvin, but really could've used some more development to his character. As well as Reid, keep an eye on Deric McCabe who played Meg's little brother Charles Wallace. He also delivered on an amazing level considering his age. Chris Pine played the lost father that inspires the journey. He was great as usual, but he wasn't really in too much of the film. This was really the kid's movie. They were the driving force. Even the "otherworldly beings", for lack of words, we're supporting characters. Reese Witherspoon's Mrs. Whatsit totally steals the show from the 3 beings that help Meg on her journey. She's great in this role, closely followed by Mindy Kaling's Mrs. Who. Who speaks in famous quotes, & it's really fun when you know one, but takes a lot a work to decipher meaning into so me the first time around. Oprah was regal as Mrs. Which, but shows one of the dangers of getting someone that big to play a part. Every time it was her time to speak, & especially when they are giving Meg gifts, I was waiting on her to start giving out cars to everyone. Took me out of the film, & made me chuckle many times. Other notable performances go to a toned down Zach Galifianakis, which I noticed I like when he's not over the top, as the Happy Medium & Michael Pena as Red. And Michael Pena? I love Michael Pena in whatever you put him in. I could've used more of his character, but he does remind me. If you're taking smaller children to this film there are some spots that are pretty scary. A little too intense for some kids, I'm thinking. Overall, like I've said, I enjoyed this movie for what it was. Far from perfect, but also far from horrible, I wouldn't pass on this one. Especially as a film for the whole fam. I don't know if I'd say rush out to the theater to see it, unless you're seeing it in 3D, but I would definitely say take a chance & watch it. It's not great, but I thought it was a very enjoyable, family film.
A little later on this one than usual. Got a lot of exciting developments going on right now. Made sure to get out my first thoughts video for Black Panther over here, but I like to give it some time to settle before I write about it. Usually that time helps me get a better handle on what I liked versus what I didn't. This time however, I'm still coming up short on the latter. I can't find anything I didn't like about this movie. I'm a sucker for origin stories, & in all honesty this really might have been Marvel's best yet. It takes up directly after Captain America: Civil War with T'Challa returning to Wakanda to take his place on the throne after his father's death, as well as the mantle of Black Panther. The beauty of this is even though this picks up right after those events, the film really stands on it's own. You need no knowledge of the Marvel Universe prior to fully enjoy this movie. In fact I'd almost say this movie would've worked without being a super hero film. The story feels like an amazing fantasy-adventure film that takes place in Africa. Chadwick Boseman is amazing in his title role, even more so than Civil War. Almost too cool for the screen, he was the epitome of royalty. He's such the perfect pick for this role, it reminds me of Downey Jr. as Iron-Man/Tony Stark. Coming in right under him would be did antagonist in the form of Michael B Jordan's Killmonger. I will admit I was a little thrown off by Jordan in the previews, as he felt like he didn't belong. Proving everything is a slave to context though, I found I was right, but at the same time, that's also what his character was supposed to be. Unfortunately, I feel as if I would have to label him as the most "American" character in the film. Which in all honesty, is what contributes to him being such a relatable villain. You totally understand where he's coming from. This is the point I stop selling Jordan short as Killmonger immediately jumped to the top of memorable villains on Marvel's list. He was amazing, & the dilemma involved gives two sides to a controversial topic, but also showing the real high ground in the long run. Anyway, your leads really shined, but the supporting cast did more than play their part. The women of Wakanda were amazing. Lupita Nyong'o is growing into a better actress every time she's on screen. Her Nakia is probably the most interesting female interest in Marvel Studios to date. The only person giving her any challenge for that would be Pepper Potts. Danai Gurira's Okoye commanded T'Challa's bodyguards with authority, serving up some of the best action of the fim. Two others that really stood out to me were CIA agent Everett K Ross (Martkn Freeman) & Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). Ross wound up having a way bigger part & impact than I thought his character would. While Serkis was amazing as Klaue. Not did he play this part to a tee, the realistic world sonic arm from original comic character looked great. All in all though, the real star was the land of Wakanda. Showing a mix of traditional Africa with a futuristic sci-fi like environment, Wakanda looked amazing. The tribes of Wakanda's costumes better get some award love next year they were so amazing. I thoroughly loved every second of this film. Even the soundtrack & score couldn't go without being noticed. They commanded attention, & neither remotely disappointed. The craziest part to me though, is how as much as this movie stands alone, when all is said & done the outcome will have more ramifications on the Marvel Universe than a majority of the solo outings. Even crazier than that, we're only months away from seeing the Panther again in Avengers: Infinity War. This was as epic film though. See it as big as possible, & don't worry if you don't know Marvel or aren't a fan, this almost doesn't even feel like a super hero film. Just a great Fantasy/Action/Adventure flick. Make sure to check out our Black Panther T-Shirt Contest going on for a month. Just click here, read, comment, like, & share for your chance to win a one of a kind shirt.