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.
As per usual, after my first thoughts video (here), I've taken a couple days to let Dark Phoenix set in. Then, write a more thorough non-spoiler review afterwards. After hearing all the poor reviews, I'm still surprised how much of this I really liked. Was it perfect? Not at all, but when put I to contrast everything we've got from the past 20 years of X-Men it does more than hold up. Not quite as great as X2 or Days of Future Past, but far from being a X3. In fact, I'd almost go as far to say spin-offs aside, I'd put this at a tie for 3rd place. Everyone holds their own, acting wise for what they're supposed to be. Major standouts from McAvoy's Professor X, & Fastbender's Magneto as usual. They've really held their own in some giant shoes left by their predecessors. There's a lot definite pros & cons to this film though. As I said, it's not perfect. It didn't really stick the landing in my opinion, & I'm only talking last 5 minutes of the climax. In a world without X3, I'd have probably been a little more lenient. However, it felt too close to that film's Phoenix attempt. I also wasn't really feeling Jessica Chastain's character at all. While her alien race made for great canon fodder later in the film, her characters addition felt like it was forced to fill a void. Particularly if we're talking comics, the void of Mastermind & the Hellfire Club to get into Jean's head. We've already done Hellfire Club though in these though. I get they needed a bigger villain, this just wasn't it. Other than that, there things that a just become a token of FOX with the X-Men property. Lack of continuity, & unknown mutants added when they have literal books filled with actual famous & semi-famous X characters. However, all that said, the pros on this film somewhat tilt the scales in its favor. The story, changed a little from its source material, was really good. Alien race aside at least. Much darker tone than expected. It fits the subject matter perfectly though. I loved what they did with Jean's background. On top of that, the Mutant power action side of this film has never looked better. Hands down, this was the best display of the actual original's team's powers in use we've seen so far. And though I don't like their use of no name mutants, they still keep up the fun fan service of characters fans will notice in the background, but unfortunately have no real part to play. That's been a staple since day one. All in all, if you've stuck with the X films so far, you shouldn't be disappointed with Dark Phoenix. I liked it way more than the last installment, & just judging from the epilogue of this film, I'd have continued to follow this cast. That said, am I glad this is it for FOX? The X family are going to get passed into the more capable hands of the MCU eventually? Yes. It's been more good times than bad over the past 20 years with FOX's, but I feel like even when they hit a homerun, they haven't fully reached the X-Men's full potential. I'm glad I went to the theater for this one though. They're going out on a much higher note than they were. I enjoyed a whole lot more of this film than I didn't.
As usual I've took a couple days from my first thoughts review video (here), and now it's time to get into my full thoughts on the live-action remake of the Disney Animated Classic, Aladdin after getting some time to let it sink in. I can't believe how excited I still am about this film. It totally lives up to its own phrase, "diamond in the rough". That said, there will be some layers to this review. First, I want to get into how this film stands up to its animated predecessor. This is the part I couldn't believe the more I thought about it. As great as Robin Williams is, I think I now actually prefer this out of the two. Probably because it hits every single beat of the original. With only slight changes & additions. Changes that seem only there to compliment the realistic nature of live-action, & additions that go on to further the mythology of the tale without changing it any way. It being live-action also gives it room to draw on so much more emotion. In today's context, animated Aladdin is a smartphone, the live-action Aladdin is the upgraded version. Speaking of upgrades. Sees like a good time to get into the music. With the addition of Jasmine's new two part song, along with some amazing dance numbers, this film seem more a musical than the original. All the original songs got a new remix if you will. However, they stayed so true their original counterparts if I played the right snippets, you'd think only the artist performing had changed. Basically there was a very subtle hip hop influence injected into each. Like a 80-20 mix, 80% original, 20% hip hop. It blended perfectly at that rate. One of the things that worried me going in. Jasmine's new song I mentioned earlier was an amazing piece of music performed beautifully. It seemed a strange place to add it, but by the time she was halfway done the hair on my neck was standing up, & I didn't care about its placement anymore. I also mentioned the dance numbers earlier. These were amazing! Also a mix, this time Hip Hop meets Bollywood, & I never wanted to learn a dance in my life until I saw this. This blew me away! I loved the dance choreography in this film. Never really seen anything like this in my life. Now, before I sign off I want to break down the standout acting performances contained in this film. I have to start that by mentioning the overall chemistry between the cast as a whole. The chemistry displayed made it look as if these people had been really good friends for years that just decided to make a movie. I couldn't believe how tight knit they all seemed. I'll break 'em down first with the one everyone was most worried about, Will Smith as the Genie. When he first was cast, I told a lot of nay sayers if we could get old Fresh Prince, Bad Boys Will Smith, he could pull it off. If anyone has the charisma to even attempt to fill those big shoes Robin William's left behind he could, but only if he could tap back into something we haven't seen for a long time. That's exactly what we got. I haven't thought Smith was having a good time making a film in a long time. It was so refreshing to see this return for someone who at one time was one of my favorite acting personalities. He took full ownership of this role & totally made it his own, & the addition of keeping him around throughout to be Aladdin's advisor was a perfect addition. Definitely one of the additions that puts this over the top. Mena Mossoud was also just cast perfect as Aladdin, as was Naomi Scott as Jasmine. You believed every minute of their love story. Not just that though, every other aspect of their characters as well. From his thief with a heart of gold, to her frustrated Princess who's beauty hides her mind. These three carried this film to the heights it reached, but they did definitely have some back up in that feat. Nassim Pedrad was great as the new character & best friend to Jasmine, Dahlia. Even if I did immediately realize why she was there, i loved her role. The biggest one i was worried about going in though was Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. Jafar always came off as downright sinister even in just his look, where this guy didn't to me. What he lacked in sinister look though, he made up for in performance. This guy oozed evilness from the start. They added some extra layer to the character too that worked very well. I noticed at the end af my first thoughts vid that I didn't mention the digital characters of Abu, Jago, & the Magic Carpet. I at least have to mention how real these characters came off. You would totally have thought that they not only trained these animals, they also went out & got an enchantment put on a rug. Beautiful effects abound, & set pieces for that matter. Every place form the alleys of Agrabah to the Cave of Wonders seemed so real. Last but definitely not least though, Guy Ritchie. I think the craziest part of all this is how this stays so true to the animated original, but at the same time is totally a Guy Ritchie film. The chase scenes are absolutely amazing. The storytelling is fluid, with virtually no downtime. Totally Guy Ritchie. Anyway, all in all I completely loved this film. Definitely my favorite out of all the live action remakes Disney has done so far. If they can keep them to this level, I can't wait to see what's next.
So as usual, after my first thoughts video (see that here), I like to let the movie set in awhile before I go over my full thoughts. This time we're talking about Disney's newest live-action adaptation of an animated classic, Dumbo. First off, I really enjoyed this film. Is it perfect? No. It has it's problems. Which I'm gonna go over first to get out of the way. The biggest problem stems from the human element. I'll get more into that as I break down the performances. Next, early on there's some shaky CGI. The crazy part about that statement is to me it had nothing to do with the flying elephant scenes. Those to me were probably some of the most amazing parts of the film. Finally, it felt a little slow to start. Mainly, due to the first 30 minutes or so containing a large & depressing amount of loss. This is also where you hit 95% of all the beats of the original animated classic. Starting from the beginning credits you see the Medici Bros. Circus start up on there tour, & by the end of the credits it's a dilapidated shell of its former self. Followed by the first scene of the kids greeting their father fresh off the train from WW1 to the knowledge he's lost his arm. On top of that we revisit all of the sad notes of the original Dumbo. Which, like I said earlier, pretty much gets summed up in the first 30 minutes of runtime. To me the rest of the story is where this film really shines. As I've been saying leading up to this, out of all the classics, Dumbo really was the shortest on substance. So, from it's announcement, I knew this would be the one to be built on with new content. That's my favorite part about these live-action adaptations, when they're done right. Not changing any of the core storyline, but building onto it, an enriching it that much more. This aspect was my favorite part of this film. This is where you meet my favorite human performance of this film in the form of Michael Keaton's Vandemere. A very realistic wolf in sheep's clothing villain. Kind of an anti-Walt Disney, creator of a steampunk version of Disneyland in the form of Dreamland. He's the epitome of greed, but a realistic version as well. Coming off as a philanthropist out to help everyone succeed their dreams, only to show his true colors once he gets to what he wants. A master manipulater, I loved to hate this character. This performance alongside the poor man's version of pretty much the same character in Danny DeVito's, Medici, were hands down best human presences this film had. They found a way to separate the two. Where while Medici was also fueled by getting a buck any way he could, he still had a since of family when it came to his troupe. His decisions seemed more fueled by his allegiance them, then the pursuit of wealth. I also found Colin Farrell handled his role well. He was surrounded by so much loss & confusion throughout. I felt like he did well portraying a lost soul, just going through the motions of life. Where this film fell short in the human aspect for me was in Eva Green, & the two kids. I never really cared about Eva Green's character throughout. Much less her "evolution" from beginning to end. More so, in the kids. They just didn't seem to drive the emotion they should have through the course of this film. That said, part of me thinks they deliberately tried to keep the human aspect of this film toned down to make Dumbo the true star. And if that was the case, they did a great job in my eyes keeping him the frontrunner for this film. From the time that elephant take his first flight this film takes off. As Keaton's character said, it made me feel like a kid again. I compared it to the first time we saw Reeve's Superman fly. My favorite part of this film however, was how it was handled by director, Tim Burton. Tim Burton usually has a style all over his films, that you can distinctly notice is his. That said, my favorite Burton films don't have this thumbprint. This falls in that category. If no one would have told me going in this was a Tim Burton film, I probably wouldn't have known until the credits rolled. He really did deliver an aesthetically beautiful film here though. Where I siad the CGI was shaky in the beginning, was immediately made up for. Not only when Dumbo took flight, but also in the amazing steampunk homage to Disneyland in the form of Dreamland. Totally amazing, & the set pieces that made it up were absolutely beautiful. I also loved the way he subtly hit all the points you remember from the original, without beating you over the head with them. His handling of the pink elephant scene is reason alone to see this in the biggest theater you can see it in. So all in all, though not perfect, I highly enjoyed myself through the course of this very good family film. I will definitely add it to my collection, to enjoy with the family many more times. Curious what everyone else thought though? Let me know in the comments, like, & share.Read More
So, as usual after my first thoughts video, I like to take a little time & let everything set in before I write a more full review. If you haven't seen that video you can check it out here. I feel like Captain Marvel is fighting an uphill battle, even with people I personally know, before they even see it. For some it's the press it's getting, for others it's unfortunately the fact that it's a girl superhero. Both as unfortunate as the other because this was a really good film. I highly enjoyed myself through every minute of this latest Marvel installment. While it's not on the level of an epic Infinty War, Civil War, or any Avengers film, I feel like it easily takes its place by the side of Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, or any of the introductory MCU films. Those being some of my favorites due to their ease of rewatchabilty. Much like this, those seem to have a fun factor that sets them apart from their longer more epic films. While those are the better films, they do take a certain mind frame to really get in the mood to rewatch. This one itself really shines in the way it deals with its story. It hasn't been a secret that Captain Marvel would be the most powerful hero we've seen so far in the MCU, & she definitely is. She's basically the equivalent of Superman when it comes to power levels in comparison to the rest. That's what's made it so hard to tell compelling Superman stories over the many years of his existence. When you're dealing with an overpowered superhero just their entrance into the game ends all threats. This film found a way to deal with that level of overpowerness perfectly, & that was the amnesia aspect. When this film opens Captain Marvel, the Kree warrior hero is already a thing. However, she has no idea she has a whole human life before all of this. This not only made for a very interesting sci-fi story, it was a great way to keep her overpowering in check until the grand finale. Powers which were so great, without spoiling anything, I questioned the grandness of the finale until they really upped the ante in the final moments. As I said in the first thoughts video, I can't wait to see this character find a matchup on her own level. It'll be an amazing sight. Now, a lot of the actors parts will be hard to really get into without spoilers. So, forgive me if I'm to vague in some character descriptions, as the misdirection in this film's advertising was real. Brie Larson was amazing as the title character. Once she finds out things aren't as she believes her character development is so on point, & she is pure greatness in this role. Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury stole every scene he was in however. The de-aging process is now perfect, as he just looked like they picked him right out of A Long Kiss Goodnight. His back & forth with Carol Danvers was by far one of my favorite parts of this film. We had a very unique villain with a lot of depth in the form of Ben Mendelsohn's shapeshifting Skrull Talos. I was not expecting his performance at all. I was thinking we'd see some shades of Rogue One, but this character is 100% original in comparison. Jude Law also wasn't at all what I was expecting, & I really hope we get to see more of Yon-Rogg in the future. Annette Bening was one of the biggest surprises to me. Yet, she's also the hardest one to talk about without delivering spoilers. Layers of performance from her though, with bold decisions to the lore that actually work quite well. Can't go through the characters without mentioning Goose the cat, with a top notch acting performance in his debut role. Seriously though, I highly enjoyed, & recommend this film. Even with the comic knowledge filled head I have this kept me on my toes with all the surprises. They took liberties here & there, but all the decisions to stay worked. The 90s aspect brought me right back to my high school days. The moments of comic nostalgia were so naturally added. All in all this film is perfect for fans of the MCU as well as fans of great sci-fi. The Star Trek to Guardians of the Galaxy's Star Wars feel. A must see in the theater as well. The 3D was amazing as well. So, if you're a 3D fan, this is definitely worth the upgrade. Before signing off fully I must address the awesome tribute to Stan Lee. Not only his appearance, but the Marvel title screen. Applause rang out through the theater & almost brought tears to my eyes. Thanks again Stan. Also, make sure to catch both the after credit scenes.