Thursday, August 30, 2018

Batman: Bad Blood

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! So Batman's got bad blood, you know we used to be mad love.  So take a look what you've done, so Batman now's got bad blood.  HEY!



Batman:  Bad Blood – 4 out of 5

I don’t know how it happened but I somehow missed this feature in the DC Animated Universe.  I’m not sure how this slipped past me because this movie has Batwoman in it and she kicks ass.  After spending a long moment of staring in the mirror and saying how dumb I was for forgetting the existence of this film and that I deserve to be punched in the face, I immediately sat down with Batman:  Bad Blood and checked this one out…and I really enjoyed it!

Did I say that Batwoman kicks ass?  I did?  Well, she does and it bears repeating.

The mysterious Batwoman (Yvonne Strahovski) finds herself in a fight against some of Gotham City’s criminals and Batman (Jason O’Mara) arrives to help.  Together they are met with a strange man in his own bat-themed mask calling himself the Heretic (Travis Willingham).  The Heretic denotes a bomb and Batman manages to get Batwoman to safety but it appears he didn’t make it.  At the behest of Alfred, Dick Grayson (Sean Maher) takes over the mantle of Batman.  Batman’s son; Damian Wayne (Stuart Allen) joins both Grayson and Batwoman to uncover if Batman is really alive or not.  However, Damian soon learns the horrifying truth that his own mother; Talia al Ghul (Morena Baccarin) is behind the plot but the truth of who the Heretic is and how far their plan reaches is even more terrifying.

Poor Dick Grayson, he not only has to be Batman he also has to spend time with that
butthole Damian.  Look, the kid is a jerk.

There was a time when I would endless sing the praises of DC’s animated films—especially when Marvel was still making their own.  I loved the way they were adapting their books to the animated feature format but lately I’ve been less than impressed.  Issues that mostly stem from cramming too much story into too short of a running length and an almost childish-like obsession with trying to be dark and mature, the films have been fairly disappointing lately.  Oh, and let’s not forget how misogynistic they’ve also been.  Batman:  Bad Blood doesn’t suffer from any of these shortcomings (well, not entirely).

The Heretic is just a huge Bat Fan.

My overly energetic geek side found the best element of this film to be the presence of both Batwoman and Batwing.  I love both of these characters from the comics and seeing them come to life in animated form (and we’ll soon see Batwoman come to life on Arrow) is really fun.  Both of the characters are done justice as we have their histories and backstories adapted well and their overall attitudes made the transfer from the pages successfully.  The best part is that, despite forcing in a scene that involves Batwoman in her underwear, the character isn’t treated as just a sex symbol first and a hero second.  DC too often presents their female characters as just bodies to lust after rather than characters in their own right.  I was really worried that Batwoman was just going to be treated in this manner but, rather, she is handled as a vigilante badass with a backstory first and then with some femininity afterwards.  Basically, Batwoman is treated like a male character—like Batman—is treated and that was very refreshing…especially considering DC’s track record.

Batwing is like what you get when Iron Man makes a Batsuit.

Unlike a lot of other DC animated films made within the last few years, this one isn’t hampered by the feeling that too much story is being jammed into a running length that isn’t long enough.  Instead, Bad Blood is able to tell a concise story that is able to unfold at a natural pace and never, at any point, does it feel rushed.  For lack of a better word, the story and plot are perfect—perfect in the sense that there is no bloated feeling or a third act that is rushing to get things all wrapped up.

The movie also has the Mad Hatter in it.  Not many people will say this but the
Mad Hatter is one of my favorite Batman villains.  I would love to see what
Tom King could do with the character.

Batman:  Bad Blood is an exciting addition to the DC animated universe.  The animation looks great, the action is very satisfying, the story is solid and the voice acting is fantastic.  It does sometimes suffer from DC’s overly eager attitude of trying to be “too mature” and there are moments that come off as accidental comedy due to the fact that it is trying so hard to be adult that it feels like a child who is pretending to be a grown up.  This happens way too often in DC’s work as they endlessly attempt to replicate Christopher Nolan’s tone in the Dark Knight trilogy and they always fail.  However, unlike their other attempts at being R-rated adjacent, this one only has a fleeting second or two where it is painfully obvious it is trying to wear “big boy pants.”  This aside, the film is fantastic and very entertaining.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Super Troopers 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Sometimes the wait just isn't worth it, like right meow.



Super Troopers 2 – 2 out of 5

When I was in college, I saw a trailer for a little comedy called Super Troopers.  It wasn’t marketed heavily and the trailers had me thinking this would either be a really bad independent comedy or one of those sleeper hits that are way funnier than a trailer could ever sell it.  Well, I was able to catch a sneak preview for it and found the film incredibly hysterical and it would go on to be a film that I still quote to this day.  While a part of me always wanted a sequel, I was okay with the reality that there might only be one film.  In fact, there ended up being so much talk and so many “reports” that a sequel was happening that I stopped believing there would ever be one and then  I was surprised that 17 years later we got one.  So, was the wait worth it for Super Troopers 2?  No, not for me it wasn’t.  I would have been fine just sticking with the one.

It was quite the wait but Farva finally got his liter of cola.

Rabbit is still denied facial hair.
After the events of the first film, our hero officers; Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar), Mac (Steve Lemme), Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske), Foster (Paul Soter) and Farva (Kevin Heffernan), have lost their jobs after a ride-along with actor Fred Savage resulted in the death of the star.  Trying to live their lives with new occupations, their old boss Captain O’Hagen (Brian Cox) and Governor Jessman (Lynda Carter) ask the boys to once again take up the badge as a land survey discovers that area once believed to belong to Canada turns out to be the property of the U.S.  The guys are met with hostilities by the Canadian citizens, the mayor (Rob Lowe), the cultural attaché (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and the local Mounties they are taking over for (played by Hayes MacArthur, Tyler Labine and Will Sasso).  As the boys try to deal with this animosity, they stumble upon an operation running in the city involving smuggling drugs, weapons and counterfeit electronics.  Meow it’s up to them to found out who is responsible and bring them to justice.

I will admit that the Fred Savage angle was funny as hell.


Going into Super Troopers 2, I had some reservations.  Often when a sequel is released well over a decade after the first one comes out, especially with comedies, the end result is a film that feels like it is just repeating what came before.  An overreliance on callbacks and references to old jokes seem to make up the bulk of this feature and it ends up giving the movie a feeling like it is just repeating itself and almost telling the audience to just go back and watch the first one.  I really wanted to like Super Troopers 2 because I enjoyed the first one so much but this feature ends up being derailed by the process I just described.  This sequel feels less like a new adventure or a continuing exploration of the established characters and more of an excuse to try and retell the first film all over again.

Sometimes callbacks are fun but too many of them can feel tedious.

There were moments that I laughed at and enjoyed with Super Troopers 2 but they just weren’t as numerous as the first film.  The overall experience I was getting from this sequel was something that felt too familiar.  The story felt nearly the same and too many jokes felt like they were just remixes or a re-do of what I’ve already seen.  It made for a film that felt mostly stale.  Even when new jokes were ushered in, they often felt like they were all the same.  Sadly, most of these new gags all felt very frat boy in nature and very “bro-ish.”  

And it also delivers all the Canadian jokes you've already heard plenty of times
before.

I went into Super Troopers 2 with reservations but I was still hopeful that I was going to see something very enjoyable.  While there are moments that I found legitimately entertaining and hilarious, the overall experience found me quiet rather than laughing or even chuckling.  The Broken Lizard guys are great and clearly are having fun but, for me, I just didn’t find this sequel worth the wait.  Sadly, there were even points were I questioned if this brand of humor was just not of the current modern era and that they are simply expecting to use what was funny nearly 20 years all over again.  I even was tempted to revisit the first one and see if that was the case…but that may be a task for another time.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Ready Player One

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Nostalgia:  The Movie!



Ready Player One – 3 out of 5

About 5 years or so ago, I read the novel that Ready Player One was based on.  It was essentially the novel equivalent of a popcorn action film.  The premise was simple, the writing wasn’t very intricate or complicated and it was an extremely easy read.  I actually read it over the course of a day.  I enjoyed it.  The years have gone by and I’ve learned that the author Ernest Cline is predisposed to saying dumb things on the internet and has some underlying sexism in his life but I’m not a Cline fan.  I just enjoyed his book.  Since then, however, my views on the primary aspect of his story; nostalgia, has changed greatly and I’ve come to see this trait as toxic.  I’ve grown to a point where I’d rather be excited for what tomorrow offers than share memes about how “kids nowadays will never know” or “only 90s kids will understand” or talk incessantly about how everything from my childhood is inherently better than anything now just because I just so happen to experience it during my formative years (spoiler alert:  sometimes those things we thought were amazing were actually pretty crappy.  I made the mistake of revisiting the original Transformers cartoon in college and realized it was just a horrible mess).  I haven’t read Ready Player One since this evolution in me but was still excited to check out the film.  Overall, it was okay but my impatience for nostalgia definitely hampered my experience.

"Alright, let's hit Pornhub with this thing..."

In the future, the population escapes to a virtual reality world called the OASIS in order to cope with the misery that is everyday life.  The creator of this world; James Halliday (Mark Rylance), announces a game after he passes.  Three keys are hidden in the world and whoever collects them will grab the Golden Easter Egg and become the owner of the OASIS.  The contest has everyone hunting for the keys and it has the interest of Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn); the greedy CEO of the evil corporation Innovative Online Industries (IOI).  One of these key hunters (these hunters are nicknamed Gunters), the humble Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) teams with his friend Aech (Lena Waithe) and the mysterious Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) and set out to find the keys themselves.  However, Sorrento has an army of employees on the hunt and one freelance mercenary in the game by the name of i-R0k (T.J. Miller) on his side and is ready to stop anyone that gets in the way.

"Go and get the keys, my mindless virtual reality junkies!  Allow me to continue
to pull your strings even after I'm dead!  I'M DRUNK ON POWER!!!!"

The big thing that stands out with Ready Player One is the special effects and animation.  A majority of the film takes place in the virtual reality world and there the characters are essentially video games.  Everyone and all the environments are rendered 3D animation and it looks fantastic.  The world that is created looks gorgeous and like a whole lot of fun to experience.  Without a doubt, this is the greatest part of the film.  However, RPO is hampered greatly by some lazy storytelling and my experience smeared due to my own exhaustion of nostalgia.

Great, now I'm thinking about the end of The Iron Giant and I'm in tears.

I’m not going to make the argument that Cline is a bad writer.  He’s just a mediocre one.  This is coming from a guy who enjoyed the book but his stories are not complex and his writing style is, for lack of a better descriptive, basic.  It’s by-the-numbers writing and that equals a lot of clichés and a ton of predictability.  That’s why I equated his novel with a popcorn summer blockbuster because, like those movies, there aren’t a lot of surprises in them but that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t any entertainment value in it.  This level is perfectly translated into the film as the characters undergo predictable development, the plot follows the predictable lines and there’s even the prerequisite love story.  However, in the film, the love between Wade and Art3mis somehow feels even more forced and laughably bad.  These elements are overly simplistic and can be weak but never ultimately harm the overall product.  It’s just incredibly noticeable and hard to ignore.

Sure, when Wade first meets Art3mis here, he falls in love but we all know he
would have just pulled that annoying geek card and immediately put his
pop culture knowledge to the test and insinuate she's not a "real geek."

Complaints about toxic nostalgia aside, this scene
in The Shining was pretty badass.
This film is absolutely jam-packed with pop culture references, Easter Eggs (the story literally centers around chasing down a Golden Easter Egg—like I said before, basic and obvious story telling), and all sorts of “Hey, remember that” moments.  For a bit, it’s kinda fun seeing things like Boba Fett in the background or the fact that Wade’s avatar drives the DeLorean from Back to the Future but, after a while, it starts to get grating.  Sure, there are times when the feature’s love letter to pop culture results in some amazing sequences—like the whole part in The Shining—but as the story progresses, I found myself thinking that it would be nicer if I saw some emotional development from the characters so that Wade and Art3mis love story doesn’t feel shallow but I guess seeing the Iron Giant and a Lancer from Gears of War make cameos is cool too.  This element of this property (and I’m sure I’d feel this way if I read the book now) comes off like a combination of a birthday cake and an overzealous pop culture geek.  The cake element is my weak metaphor about how it’s great at first but too much starts to get exhausting, like if you ate too much cake and get sick and with so much pop culture and nostalgia stuffed into this film, it almost feels like director Steven Spielberg and writers Zak Penn and (especially) Ernest Cline are just showing off all the stuff they like rather than showing off how they love it.  This whole element just comes off as exhausting and something that takes away from the story rather than enhance or compliment it in any meaningful way.

I may complain about the nostalgia aspect but if I had an opportunity to
drive the DeLorean and face-off against King Kong, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Ready Player One is definitely a spectacle.  It’s fun and does a decent job of bringing the book to life.  The nostalgia factor and the lip service it pays to pop culture will definitely delight a lot but, ultimately, got very grating and annoying for me.  Additionally, the story has a lot of problems with development and the emotional arc of the characters—part of this was solved just by the way Spielberg is able to present story but there’s still no denying that the love story felt like it was treated more like a requirement than something more organic and natural.  Finally, the film has a great cast with Ben Mendelsohn being a great antagonist and the likes of Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cook, and Lena Waithe being amusing protagonists.  Having Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance on the cast didn’t hurt things either because they were both great as the two partners who created the OASIS.  Ready Player One isn’t a perfect film (but the source material wasn’t perfection either) but it’s a serviceable piece of popcorn entertainment that delivers in a way that never feels boring…although it is a huge bummer that the only real replay value it holds is to just find all the Easter Eggs it contains.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Two Michaels collide and it's going to be an explosion!  And the heat will hit 451 degrees!  This Sunday Sunday Sunday!



Fahrenheit 451 (2018) – 3 out of 5

I read the Ray Bradbury American classic many moons ago when I was but a teenager in high school.  If I was put to the test, I wouldn’t be able to tell you much about it beyond the basic concepts due to the fact I haven’t read it since those days.  However, I was very interested to see that HBO was bringing Fahrenheit 451 to new life with Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon.  The themes the book presents still feel as fresh as ever so it feels like this story is perfect to tell in this day and age.  Too bad the story didn’t really seem like it was actively working to dig into those themes. 

"This book here is particularly fun to burn.  It's about vampires that sparkle.
Sparkle!  Vampires don't sparkle!"


That book self-immolated once he was captured.
In the future, the world has become a very different place and reading has become a thing of the past.  Most books have been banned and any remaining found are burned by the firemen.  An up-and-coming fireman named Guy Montag (Jordan) seems to have a bright future in this dark dystopia and has been guided and ushered along by his Captain (Shannon).  However, after witnessing a woman willing to die alongside her books and being confronted by an informant named Clarisse (Sofia Boutella), Montag has his eyes opened and quickly joins a rebellious group who plans to save as much literature as they can.

Clarisse believed in saving books but was still okay with burning Atlas Shruggedand Dianetics.

The two things that make this current adaptation of Bradbury’s book are the visuals and the performances.  I like the decision to place the film in the distant future because it allows the reality that the current way of doing things took some time and also throws the viewer into a world where this is the accepted norm.  Additionally, this allows for unique and gorgeous sets.  However, placing the story in the future ends up further exasperating the one major issue the film and story contains and that is the fact this feature never develops or explores the heavy themes of censorship and restraining free-thought that this property is known for to any satisfying degree.  

Yes, in this future you lose books but gain skyscrapers that project Michael
B. Jordan on them!

Fahrenheit 451 has a nice shiny package and sets up some great concepts and ideas for its characters, specifically Shannon’s character of Captain John Beatty (who, in the book, was barely a peripheral character).  However, the story ends up falling drastically short of exploring these concepts and ideas.  Exploration occurs only on the surface and this is mirrored in the lack of exploration concerning the story’s main themes of censorship.  While the film and story do center on the fact that art, creativity and knowledge is being regulated and actively denied to the world, I never really got a feeling that the story was doing anything with it beyond just showing it happening and stopping short of exploring the true nature of these actions.  While some depth is provided thanks to the journey of Montag, no real exploration ever feels like it is achieved.

There's no way he doesn't sing "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
in his head every time he works...provided that wasn't erased from
this dystopia.

What really works in this film is the performances of Jordan and Shannon.  Both men are able to convey the complexities that their characters are going through despite the fact the story isn’t doing much exploration.  On one hand you have Jordan going through the emotional turmoil and confusion as his character is awakening and on the other you have Shannon’s intensity as his character is aware of the truth and decides to stop himself from rebelling like Montag.  Both are amazing in their own capacity but, unfortunately, I didn’t see much chemistry in the two beyond being excellent rivals.  At the beginning of the film they are meant to be buddies with the Captain also playing a mentor role.  Sadly, I really didn’t feel the friendship or mentor relationship from the two but, as enemies, they were excellent against one another.

That's a whole lot of talent in one shot.
I like what this re-imagining was going for and felt it contained a lot of potential.  I really like the overall look of it and how they expanded on the character of the Captain and the performances were fantastic.  As a whole, however, Fahrenheit 451 lacks the depth needed to be meaningful and never really feels like it is exploring the themes that has made the source material so relatable for so long.