Monday, July 24, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok Trailer - Review and Reaction

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We have our latest trailer of the next Marvel Cinematic Universe offering - Thor: Ragnarok.

Taika Waititi (Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) takes the directorial duties for the first time in MCU and looks to have done a great job. In addition to the  regulars (Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Jaimie Alexander, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson), we have a few newcomers: Cate Blanchett as Hela, Karl Urban  as Skurge and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie.

Check out the trailer below:


The trailer succeeded in selling the movie as a colorful and fun joyride with characters we are familiar with. The color palette looks very similar to Guardians of the Galaxy. This is a movie I would spend money to watch in the theaters.

There is no grim mood or overly serious faced actors populating the screen. Plus the movie is shot in glorious colors that prevents the movie from being an eyesore. In short, this is NOT a DC Films movie.

Speaking of colors, the movie sports a strong hue of green. Hulk is not getting his standalone movie - Mark Ruffalo confirmed this recently. So Marvel Studios decided to make what should have been a solo Thor adventure into a Thor/Hulk buddy movie. Marvel Comics fan would be able to identify the “Planet Hulk” storyline. 

An animated movie of the same name was also released in 2010. That movie was fantastic and if this movie is even half as entertaining as the animated version, then Marvel has a huge winner on their hands.




Chris Hemsworth is his usual self as the never-too-serious but noble God of Thunder. Towards the end of the trailer, Thor looks like Raiden (with his white eyes) from the Mortal Kombat game. Raiden himself is based on Raijin, the Japanese God of Thunder.

Cate Blanchett seems to be having fun as the villain. And she has the reliable Karl Urban in sidekick mode. If this is not enough, Loki is back and this time Loki has not only applied his usual hair gel but also some kind of facial lotion that make his face look weird.

The movie introduces another character: Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson. Tessa shot to prominence after her performance in Creed. No doubt, Valkyrie will play an important part as the events unfold in the movie.




Yet another character of note is Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Though not featured in the trailer, I am sure he will make an appearance since his magical powers will fit in nicely within this universe of Gods and Monsters.

The special effects are done well. In a nutshell, this is the typical Marvel movie that respects the source material and gets the much deserved love from fans and critic alike.

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Image Sources: Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures



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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Justice League Comic Con Trailer - Review/Reaction

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Warner Bros. has released a sneak peek of the upcoming movie that unites the DC Comics superheroes.

Directed by Zack Snyder (Man of SteelBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), the movie stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as  Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg.

Newcomers include Amber Heard as Mera, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Kiersey Clemons as Iris West.

Check out the trailer below:



This trailer is not much of an improvement over the previous trailer that debuted a few months ago. Since then, we have had rumors about Ben Affleck wanting to leave the franchise completely. He has officially stepped down as the director and Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes) has taken over the duties. Zack Snyder lost his daughter and has moved away from the production.

Joss Whedon (Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Avengers) is currently overseeing the post production work and has also reportedly done extensive reshoots. Joss was originally hired by the studio to write, direct and produce Batgirl.



Snyder had already completed shooting by the time Whedon took over. We all know Snyder's capacity to deliver a good superhero movie based on his previous two attempts. Snyder's movies boast of great visuals (specifically 300) but severely lack good character development, plot and dialogues. This movie also looks to suffer from the same drawbacks.

The actors strike all types of action figure poses and give reaction shots. The comedy looks forced, which is a surprise given Whedon's natural talent for writing witty dialogues/quips in his movies especially The Avengers. But Even Whedon can only do so much with this sub-standard material that has been forced on him. 




The special effects in this trailer look better than what we saw in the earlier one. Still some do look like taken straight out of a video game. No wonder the movie characters are also two dimensional.

Perhaps, the future of DC Films lies in female superhero led movies. Wonder Woman has been a hit both critically and commercially. Provided the studio does not interfere too much, Whedon will knock it out of the park with Batgirl.

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Image Sources: DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Dune Entertainment (as RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC), Lensbern Productions, Warner Bros.




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Friday, July 21, 2017

The Mummy (2017) - Review

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The movie starts with a prologue set in England in 1127 A.D. -  A body is buried in a coffin along with a red gem/ruby/some sort of movie guffin.

To present day in England, these coffins have been discovered. Dr Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) gives us a quick rundown about Princess Ahmanat (Sofia Boutella), who is ruthless and beautiful. Ahmanat's dreams of succeeding her father on the throne are dashed when her mother gives birth to a boy. Ahmanat strikes a deal with Set, the God of Death. She kills her family members and is about to transfer Set's spirit into a human body when the process is interrupted. Ahmanat is mummified and then buried in then Mesopotamia (today known as Iraq).

We are then introduced to Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his friend/sidekick, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson). Nick and Chris specialize in stealing rare artifacts and selling them in the black market. But this time things take a bad turn and Nick and Chris are in mortal danger. Chris calls in an airstrike (much against Nick's wishes) and unwittingly sets in motion the chain of events that will change both of their lives forever.



The airstrike unearths the aforementioned tomb of Ahmanat. Turns out that Nick had stolen a map from Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), an archaeologist with whom he had an one night stand. Jenny is furious at the deception and further warns Nick to leave Ahmanat's coffin alone.


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Like any self-respecting and self-assured blockbuster movie male lead, Nick proceeds to ignore her and does the exact opposite. The next is the plane sequence featured in the trailer. Chris is bitten by a spider. If this had been a superhero movie, he would have become Spider-Man. But since this is a horror movie, he becomes the undead and is forcibly shot dead by Nick.

The plane crashes and Nick is killed. He wakes up in the mortuary and is surprised to see Chris walking around advising him. If this reminds you of the Max Landis werewolf classic (An American Werewolf in London), then you are a certifiable horror movie geek.


 

Jenny deduces that Ahmanat has chosen Nick for some specific purpose. Ahmanat is sucking the life force out of people and creating her own army of zombies. She also has mind control over Nick and almost captures him after an inane action sequence.

This is where we meet Dr Jekyll makes his re-entrance in the movie. His team rescues Nick and Jenny and captures Ahmanat. This is when the movie starts losing momentum. Crowe's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde brings the whole movie down. Crowe looks bored in the role and Hyde's “transformation” is so inane that it has to be seen to be believed.


jake johnson tom cruise mummy movie poster wallpaper screensaver image picture dark universe

Universal Studios makes no pretensions about it's plans for a new movie franchise to rival that of Warner Bros. and Disney. But this would-be franchise starter is even worse than Man of Steel let alone be half as good as Iron Man. RDJ is perfect casting for Tony Stark and his alter ego. Henry Cavill is a bland Superman and an OK Clark Kent. But Cruise is thoroughly miscast in the role. He looks lost for the most part and his attempts at comedy fall flat.

Plus he looks too old to play the leading man. The makeup applied to make him look younger often distracts us from everything else on the screen. At 54, he is more than twice the age of his co-star Jake Johnson who plays his buddy character. Annabelle Wallis is 22 years younger than Cruise!

The movie is confused as to whether it is a Tom Cruise vehicle or is it a part of horror movie franchise. Director Alex Kurtzman seems to be part of the problem as Cruise seems to have had a free hand in the production. If this were Mission Impossible 6 or the next Jack Reacher movie, that would not be a problem. But a Mummy movie needs to be focussed on the Mummy. Brendan Fraser was able to do this successfully - he was a strong lead but at the same time did not hog all the limelight like Cruise does here.



The movie does not have fun factor of the Stephen Sommers/Brendan Fraser 1999 movie. Director Sommers made an enjoyable popcorn movie which I can rewatch any number of times. Unfortunately, sitting through this movie even once is a chore.

Rachel Weisz gave us one of the most memorable female leads in the form of Evelyn Carnahan. She also had a good chemistry with Fraser's Rick O'Connell. In this movie, Annabelle Wallis' character has no chemistry whatsoever with Cruise's Nick.

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Sofia does her best with a role that despite being titular is forced to play second fiddle to Tom Cruise.

Brian Tyler's score makes no impression at all. The action sequences are boring. We have seen similar scenes executed much better in other Tom Cruise movies.

Coming back to the plot of the movie, Cruise acquires superpowers of Set, destroys Ahmanat and rides into the desert with Chris. No one expects Cruise to leave this franchise anytime soon.

Only time will tell if the next movie will be a Wonder Woman and save this Dark Universe or will it be like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and sink the ship further.

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Image Sources: Universal Pictures, Dark Universe, Dentsu, Perfect World Pictures,  Sean Daniel Company, Secret Hideout

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Supergirl Season 2 Episode 18 "Ace Reporter" - Recap and Review

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Jack Spheer (Rahul Kohli), an old flame of Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) arrives in National City. His company is launching a nanotechnology based solution that can cure any known human afflictions.

Lena attends the launch function with Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist). Kara tries to grill Jack on the safety standards of the product.



After the function is over, Kara is approached by Joe (Andrew McNee). Joe is a whistle-blower and tries to warn her about the lack of records about the human trials that were supposed to have been completed before releasing the product. Even as he is providing her with the details in his car, a swarm of nanobots attack the two and the car goes up in flames and Joe is killed.

Kara realizes that something is seriously amiss with the way Jack has developed the product. Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez) meets Derrick Simmons (Johnny Ghorbani) who had volunteered for the human trials but was never actually tested. Once again a swarm of nanobots attack them but Supergirl saves Snapper but Derrick is gone.

Driven by guilt over her failure to save two lives, Kara desperately tries to warn Lena about Jack and gatecrash Lena's dinner with Jack. Mon-El steals Jack's security badge and subsequently he and Kara obtain data from Jack's laptop at his office.


melissa benoist chris wood kara danvers mon-el kara zor-el wallpaper screensaver image picture poster

The video shows Jack performing the tests on himself. This explains the lack of records in the company archives regarding test trials. Kara shows the video to Lena and pleads with her to stay away from Jack.

But Lena being a Luthor does exactly that and confronts Jack. Turns out that it is Beth Breen (Claudia Doumit), the company's CFO, who has got total control over Jack after his body has transformed after the tests. She made him commit the murders.

Beth once again takes control of Jack and forces him to kill Lena. Supergirl arrives in time to save her but is overpowered by Jack. Lena has no choice but to shut down Jack permanently.

A subplot involved the tension between James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) over the unnecessarily brutal tactics adopted by Lyra Strayd (Tamzin Merchant) when she roughs up a kid while helping James in his vigilante work as Guardian. Finally, things are patched up between James and Lyra after she agrees to his rules.


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This was a good episode. Most of the focus was on the friendship between Kara and Lena. Katie McGrath is good as Lena and shows spunk. Katie and Melissa share an excellent chemistry.

Melissa seems to have regained some of her enthusiasm for the role. She also showed good chemistry with Chris Wood and Ian Gomez as Mon-El and Snapper respectively.

Speaking of Snapper, his comments about the new generation of reporters using social media really tickled the funny bones. Ian Gomez brings some much needed humor to the show. Hopefully we will see more and more of him in the future episodes.

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Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) were absent for most of the episode. With Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) also gone, this episode showcased the new set of actors delivering some solid work. Let us see if the show can maintain this tempo.

And the excellent Teri Hatcher makes a brief cameo in the closing scenes to make an offer to Lena. In an earlier scene, Lena confesses to Kara about her fears of going bad like her more famous brother: Lex Luthor. Lena's character arc shows a lot of promise.

Recommended watch to fans of DC Comics.

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Image Sources: Berlanti Productions, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Television, The CW Television Network (The CW)

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Supergirl Season 2 Episode 17 "Distant Sun" - Recap and Review

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This review contains spoilers. Readers who are yet to see the episode are recommended to skip this post.

Supergirl/Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) and Mon-El (Chris Wood) are still together much against the wishes of his parents: Lar Gand (Kevin Sorbo) and Rhea (Teri Hatcher). Supergirl runs into an alien destroying National City and subdues him.

Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) then informs her that he is one of the bounty hunters out to get her for a princely sum has been offered to anyone who takes her out. Mon-El suspects his parents as the ones who ordered the hit. They deny the accusation.

J'onn J'onzz (David Harewood) and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) request Supergirl to lay low till they figure out who is after her life.


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A secondary plot involves Alex running into Emily (Hayley Sales), an ex-girlfriend of Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima). Maggie tells Alex that she and Emily had a bad break-up. Alex is shocked to learn from Emily that it was Maggie who was cheating on her during their relationship.

The next bounty hunter is an expert in mind control and he uses Mon-El to attack Kara. Kara is hesitant to attack Mon-El who is unable to resist the alien's control over him. Finally Winn brings the fight to an end by using a stapler.

This bounty hunter refuses to name his employer(s). Martian Manhunter uses his powers of telepathy and forces the failed assassin to reveal that it was Mon-El's mother, Rhea who ordered the hit.

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Supergirl and Mon-El meet Rhea to sort out their differences. Rhea is hell bent on destroying Supergirl and wounds her using a Kryptonite weapon. Mon-El agrees to leave Earth with his parents in order to protect Kara's life.

But Kara decides to rescue Mon-El from his parents. J'onn J'onzz is initially hesitant to this idea as he is under orders from the President Olivia Marsdin (Lynda Carter). Olivia is actually an Durlan alien masquerading as a human being.

J'onn finally relents to help Supergirl. Seeing his son in love with Kara, Lar lets him stay with her on Earth. But this proves to be a fatal mistake as Rhea murders him shortly thereafter. She promises that she is not done with our planet yet.


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Acting wise, Teri Hatcher was good as the determined lady out to achieve her goals at any cost. She was having fun playing the antagonist and the episode benefited a lot. Kevin Sorbo was just adequate looking either sad or lost for the most part.

Melissa Benoist has been giving a distinct impression of being disinterested in her titular role. Chris Wood is wooden as Kara's love interest. The two have nearly no chemistry together. Thankfully, Chyler Leigh and David Harewood are professionals and save the show again and again.

Most of the humor comes from Jeremy Jordan's Winn Schott. He manages to bring two pop culture references. First was the Star Wars reference through the Stormtrooper comment from Mon-El. The other was the reference to Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. The way Winn fooled the mind-controlling alien into submission by using stapler was a nod to Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) using the same instrument to force Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) to listen to his plans for Gotham.

My one complaint would be that Martian Manhunter continues to be de-powered significantly just to let Supergirl save the day every time. I am all for female superheroes ruling the roost and I think it can be done without making Manhunter weaker in comparison.

Recommended watch to fans of DC Comics.

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Image Sources: Berlanti Productions, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Television, The CW Television Network (The CW)

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Trailer - Review/Reaction

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The second trailer for the first solo MCU Spidey movie is here.

Directed by Jon Watts, the movie features Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Michael Keaton as  Adrian Toomes/The Vulture and Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan.

Check out the trailer below:


This looks like the first dud to come out of the Marvel assembly line. The only redeeming feature is Robert Downey Jr. No wonder the studio has marketed his presence so much.

I was not a fan of the Andrew Garfield version but did like the Tobey Maguire movies from Sam Raimi. Despite being a bit old to play Peter Parker, Maguire successfully played the webslinger in two great movies and one OK movie.




Tom Holland is the latest actor to portray the character. And I am not sure about his performance. I have not see Captain America: Civil War in its entirety, but have seen the airport fight scene in which Spider-man makes his debut in the MCU Universe.

While that fight scene was superbly orchestrated and Spider-man was definitely a highlight (the other being Black Panther), it was just Tom Holland's voice-work that was in the scene. This trailer is the first time I have seen him as Peter Parker and the performance was just serviceable.

The reason we root for Iron Man/Spider-Man/Hulk is because we are invested in the particular actor's performance as Tony Stark/Peter Parker/Bruce Banner. And in this aspect Tom Holland seems to be more in the Ben Affleck/Henry Cavill/Andrew Garfield mold rather than being as memorable as RDJ/Tobey Maguire/Ed Norton.

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Speaking of RDJ, he is as good as ever as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Looks like age is catching up with him or may be it is deliberately pronounced to showcase Tony as an elder mentor to the young Parker.

Marisa returns as Aunt May. It is not clear if the Daily Bugle will be part of the movie. Perhaps, Parker would join the company at the end of the movie or in a mid-credits scene. If that does happen, it will be interesting to see who gets to play J Jonah Jameson. J K Simmons played the role with aplomb.

Speaking of Simmons, he has jumped ship and is playing Commissioner Gordon in Justice League. As if to counter that, one-time Batman and recent Birdman, Michael Keaton is playing the bad guy in this movie. But even he does not leave much of an impression.



Marvel has not delivered a dud so far. This movie may not bomb but does not look like it will get the critical acclaim that people lavished on The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War.

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Image Sources: Columbia Pictures, LStar Capital (as LSC Film Corporation, LLC), Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios (in association with), Pascal Pictures

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