On the Town: The Meg

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On The Town with Lonnie Adams

Do you like the SyFy channel? Do you like their “cheesy” sci-fi movies? If you do, it may help you enjoy Jaws 12… oops, sorry, I meant “The Meg.” But seriously, so many shark movies that all copied “Jaws,” this may as well be Jaws 12. As a bonus, I’m going to see just how many shark-in-a-movie references I can pull out of my hat while talking about this movie.

First off, I admit that “The Meg” had me very excited. I really have enjoyed Jason Statham in his quintessential “Statham” movies. I’m talking the Transporter series, his run in the Fast and Furious series, and sure, even the Crank movies. They all showcased this guy as the ultimate bad-ass, brawler action star. And for the most part, he has lived up to it.

Even thinking about this movie, I had to pause and say, “75-foot shark, eh? against Statham? Maybe you should give the shark some freaking laser-beams.” All in good fun though, I enjoyed Jaws, maybe I even looked for a shark or two in the last few tornadoes on the Weather Channel. I wanted this film to be good.

What I got was rather disappointing. The movie did the right thing and added in a good amount comedy alongside the thrills and spills. A few all-to-predictable moments of equipment failure and a slow start already hobble the movie, but I can get past that. We join the prologue as Jonas Taylor, Jason Statham, along with his rescue crew, are attempting to save men from a destroyed submarine. When the sub is attacked by something giant, Jonas must make the hard call to leave his two teammates to die in order to save the 11 men he rescued. Disgraced by leaving those men behind he drowns his sorrows in Thailand for years before redemption shows up in the form of a chance to rescue his ex-wife and her crewmates from a super-deep dive.

I won’t question how the submarine met the Megalodon shark, that is what the plot implies, before Jonas and his stranded ex-wife basically raise it from the bottom of the Marianas Trench. I’ll just toss that one over into “movie logic.”

Another logic problem I had was how easily this huge menacing shark could be distracted from its kill with some flashing lights. At one point on a beach scene, the shark is being led around by Jonas and Suyin, Bingbing Li, in two one-man submersibles. I did enjoy the cat and mouse action of the scene, but the shark avoiding the overcrowded beach because of some lights had me screaming, “Humans are friends, not food.” Thanks for setting me straight, Bruce.

One thing the movie did great was the character of Meiying, Shuya Sophia Cai. I don’t usually expect the cuteness factor in a monster movie. But this little girl cranks it out in spades. Adding a level rarely used in movies like this was refreshing. I’m not saying its never been done, I just don’t see it. Balancing her innocence against the rest of the crew in the Mana One Research Center exuding misfit vibes at least sets a variety of levels for its characters even if its development is short lived. And honestly, it’s a monster flick, if you want character development go find something else. We’re here to watch a 75-foot shark devour people without chewing. It is the cinema industry’s great obsession in the deep blue sea.

With far less suspense than the Jaws films, farm less jump scares than “Deep Blue Sea,” and far less plot than either, I can’t honestly say this film is good. But something holds me back from outright saying its trash. It does have great action sequences, though there are only a few. It does do well with its comedic parts, especially the dumb billionaire who funds the center. It does well with its premise, but it feels like a SyFy TV Movie that really wanted to hit the big screen. Would I watch it again, no. But would my girlfriend, who seriously live on the SyFy channel, watch it? Over and over and over again.

For a review, would you’re average moviegoer really enjoy the movie? I doubt it.

Ultimately, “The Meg” is a half-decent movie that really couldn’t stay afloat compared to the other big fish out there. Sorry Meg, you’re gonna need a bigger boat.

 

 

 

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On the Town: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

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On The Town with Lonnie Adams

Can a movie be good if it is shallow? Surely, you have seen movies that a critic may have called shallow or without depth, but later thought you saw plenty of depth. But I feel rather confident in saying that Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a shallow movie. They spend maybe ten minutes developing a plot at the beginning of the film and let it hang there like a sign directing your path.

I’m not exaggerating either, it is a few minutes of Ethan Hunt’s mission briefing that basically marks the answers on a school worksheet saying. “These are the bad guys, check. This is how you save the world, check. This is the spy-girl of this movie, check. This is the bad guys again in case you missed it…”

As you may have realized at this point in reading my reviews, I like depth in my movies. I like to be immersed. Fallout doesn’t do that. What it does do is grab you by the throat and squeeze for two-and-a-half hours. The last thing this movie wants you to do is to take a breath and think about things.

I would agree in calling it a thrill-ride. I would agree with calling it intense. It is like a pure concentration of blood pumping action distilled from all five of the Mission movies so far. It is the first one I would call a real sequel instead of a new episode. The difference being that it doesn’t just rinse off the main characters and put them into a new situation, it brings back two characters directly from Rogue Nation,  the British agent Ilsa Faust, Rebecca Ferguson, and the Syndicate leader Solomon Lane, Sean Harris.

The movie premise plays off of the aftermath of Rogue Nation but doesn’t develop it much further. Ethan Hunt, Tom Cruise, wrestles with the consequences of, SPOILER, not having killed Lane in the last movie. Lane also wants Hunt to suffer as he watches the world he protects crumble around him. You know, basic ‘spy-stuff.’

The action kicks off with Hunt and his crew trying to regain three stollen plutonium cores. His core group sees Benji, Simon Pegg, returning alongside Luther, Ving Rhames, under the supervision of former-antagonist-turned-ally Alan Hunley, Alec Baldwin. After failing to recover the cores, the group follows the trail of an unknown person with only an alias to follow, John Lark. Believed to be a fundamentalist and leader of the Apostles, the bad guys, Lark is the mysterious expected double agent that doesn’t stay mysterious for long. Again, this movie has a very obvious path full of signs for you to follow.

It even openly makes the distinctions of its characters when it calls Ethan Hunt ‘a scalpel’ compared to new agent August Walker, Henry Cavill, as ‘a hammer.’ They do showcase this more in the way they fight as well. Hunt is a more martial flow kind of fighter with Cavill as a straight brawler. Walker is placed on the team after they fail to retrieve the plutonium cores earlier because Hunt chose to save his teammate instead of securing the package. It actually represents the deepest point of the movie as a moral decision over saving one life versus saving many lives.

Cavill’s play as Walker works well as the prevailing counterpoint to Hunt. From the way he fights to the choices he makes, he stands as the other half of the coin, the mirror image, the dark Hunt. Walker is Hunt if he would have killed Lane. He is Hunt if he had lost faith in the world.

While the movie blatantly holds your hand on plot and characters, I would probably call it clutching your hand while it drags you through the fast-paced action scenes, it seems to have reason to do so. Remember how I said the movie doesn’t want you to think? It gives you the answers on a platter because it wants all of your attention focused on the craziest stunts I’ve seen in a while. I swear, Director Christopher McQuarrie must have woken up one day and said, “I hung this character outside of a huge plane as it took off in the last movie, what can I try to do to get Tom Cruise killed this time?”

Okay, joking aside, the point is that the action and stunts of this movie are the main focus as it dashes from one piece to the next. Beautifully, there is such a variety of action scenes in this film. From skydiving to gunfights, from car and motorcycle chases to hand to hand combat, the film tries its best to leave you breathless and exhausted by the time you leave. They have helicopters, building jumping, a foot-chase, explosions, hangings, and even some rock climbing. I don’t know how to find Ethen Hunt in real life, but please send him to the Olympics for marathon running.

The one moment I had to think about a stunt being done was watching him learn to fly a helicopter while it was crashing. But, hey, movie logic, right?

One thing I did enjoy about Fallout is how self-aware it was. With the face-mask gag done so much throughout the film, it makes fun of itself several times and even has the bad guy figure out mid-rant that he was talking to a guy in a mask.

It also harkens back to its more Cold-War roots from the first film with a film-noir-looking Vanessa Kirby as the White Widow. While her character becomes more of a background character shortly after her introduction, she still manages to pull all eyes in her direction when on-screen. I’m not just she looks good, its the old school femme fatale aura she has that I might give just as much credit to costuming and the director for the idea as to her for pulling it off.

The movie also returns a character from the third film, Michelle Monaghan plays Julia, Hunt’s ex-wife, tying up the semi loose end by the credits. Playing on the role as Hunt’s ex, she becomes a symbol of Hunt’s past. Showcasing so many things from past films is a nice way to finally tie them all together as it connects the pieces in style as well as story. There is less intrigue in this sequel than in most of the others, but it trades off for the fun of the action.

So, “Can a movie be good if it is shallow?” Ultimately, sure it can. It may not be very fulfilling, it may not even be inspiring, but it is still riveting to watch. Its fun, its crazy, and its a step up from certain films in the franchise… Yes, I am looking at you Mission: Impossible 2.

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On the Town: Ant-Man and the Wasp

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On The Town with Lonnie Adams

At what point does a joke become obnoxious? repetitive? It’s a problem I personally have with comedy that I can never quite grasp. If you do the same gag over and over, it loses some of its panache. The greats know that a key to comedy is timing. The right timing of a joke as well as the time spent on the joke. Is it too much build up for too little punch or, as previously stated, dogging the joke to the point of irritation?

I ask this question because of one character in this movie, Luis, played by Michael Peña. Almost the funniest part of the movie is a return of this character’s “stories.” It’s a fresh joke to me that I haven’t seen before in a movie, but I know all too well in my life. The guy whose stories are just something else. Ant-Man and the Wasp takes it so much further with the voiced-over scenes that are hilarious (understatement of the week).

But notice, I said almost the funniest part. There was a scene that I may not have laughed at as loudly, but I laughed inwardly and enjoyed even more. It made me see the film as a whole as a tray of several different types of humor. From a very surreal comedy of the action scenes like a car chase where cars and objects repeatedly change in size, to the anecdotal story comedy that Luis offers, to the physical and situational comedy that character Scott Lang, Paul Rudd, carries in spades.

Personally, I think we found better character development and a better plot in the original Ant-Man. that said, I can’t honestly say that its sequel loses because of this. The story is there, though it builds more off of Captain America: Civil War than it does on the original Ant-Man. And it just enough piecing together of its original film and the MCU as a whole to become a great connection point. However, I really believe the Ant-Man franchise is becoming more of Marvel’s intermission act than a mainstage film. Sure you really should see Civil War before you watch this movie, and as some have suggested, this film actually helps close up a couple questions from Civil War that really makes that a better movie for having watched the new Ant-Man.

Despite that, I can fully recommend this film to those who may not have seen Infiinty War yet. I would warn you not to watch the after credits scene, but the film itself doesn’t even need that movie. It’s like Scott Lang and Hank Pym are doing everything they possibly can to avoid an actual Avengers movie. Let’s be real, Captain America: Civil War was an Avengers movie, even if it wasn’t titled as such.

Ant-Man and the Wasp rekindles this path of the father/superhero Scott Lang who is living out the last days of a two-year house arrest sentence for helping Cap in Civil War. He hasn’t had real contact since then with his romantic interest Hope Van Dyne, Evangeline Lilly, or her father Hank Pym, Michael Douglas. With only days left in the sentence, something happens to reconnect these three as they search for Hope’s mother, Janet Van Dyne, Michelle Pfeiffer, who has been trapped in the quantum realm. Pay no attention to how someone could survive there for decades without food or water. Actually, the film tends to poke fun at itself in this pattern as well. You’ll notice a few quips here and there about the “science-y” stuff as the film asks you not to look too hard at the logic. But hey, we’re talking about superheros and magic and shrinking men, I think we’re all okay here with just looking past a few things that don’t make sense.

A great effort by the entire cast allows the movie to really shine as a whole rather than setting one actor or actress as particularly better than the others. The moments of innocence and emotion between Scott and his daughter or Scott and Hope balance the scales against ensemble action scenes or the funniest parts of the movie. Yes, I know I never told about the scene I liked more than Luis’ stories.

The funniest portions of this film all come from actors interactions. It never seemed to me that one person was the funniest character. Whether it was Scott asking a kidnapper to help him facetime his daughter or Scott’s tense moments with his almost-could-have-been mentor Hank Pym. The one scene I loved the most is such a scene when Scott’s suit malfunctions and leaves him… shall we say, “halfway” and in a very interesting location. He catches grief from Hope, of course, and the hilarity builds until he gets back to his getaway van where the scenes full punchline comes from the serious Hank Pym himself.

Despite all the comedy in all its forms, the film does lose something in cohesiveness as it progresses. The film almost seems to forget certain points at times, which may stem from its having several credited writers on the project. Still it all comes together in the end and collects its pieces into a finale. And again, you have so many talented actors and actresses that easily steal the scenes they are in, that you may not care. It becomes a bit of a non-sequitur as the scenes don’t always logically flow together, yet it still fits with a certain charisma.

The real question you’re going to have to ask yourself is if the lack of plot complexity and the incoherence of the scenes is really too bothersome to enjoy the comedy. Ant-Man and the Wasp is funnier than its original film, but less in terms of story. It’s lighter than most Marvel films, but disconnected. I won’t say every single joke works as some fell flat to me, but I still heard others in the theater giggle.

It’s funnier than Thor: Ragnarok, and more “aww”-inducing than a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It’s a light-hearted comedy that defines an old adage but opting against it. Instead of the “Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none,” it picked the charismatic comedy route and mastered it.

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On the Town: Solo: A Star Wars Story

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On The Town with Lonnie Adams

What is the most important part of a film for you? Does it have to make you laugh? Does it need to touch your heart? Is there one thing that you need to enjoy it? Stop for a moment and really think about this. Surely, you’ve found yourself disagreeing with critics on certain movies. You may even have disagreed with me from time to time. Still, I doubt you rely solely on my opinion to decide if you watch a movie or not.

Seeing a Star Wars movie highlights this feeling of needing something specific. I saw it a little in The Last Jedi, and now I see it prevalently in Solo: a Star Wars Story. Seeing a movie labeled Star Wars carries a certain pedigree, an expectation. I really couldn’t list 1, 2, and 3 on that expectation, but I will say it slapped me in the face when I saw the standardized opening “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” that wasn’t immediately followed by the yellow scrolling text.

My automatic thought was, “Oh my, they changed it!?” Yes, I am a fanboy. No, you may not judge me for it.

I noticed my thought and asked myself if that really ruined the whole movie for me. Of course, I told myself it didn’t, it just surprised me not to see it. Though this thought struck me with the way I’ve viewed Star Wars movies, with expectation instead of anticipation. That said, I wholeheartedly subscribe to the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I believe if you change too much, you lose what people loved about the series. But this is an anthology film, not a mainline story sequel. I should allow them to be different. After all, Rogue One had only a short scene of a single lightsaber in the whole film, and I daresay it’s one of the greatest Star Wars movies since the original trilogy. It kept what it needed to and created the rest.

I honestly found Solo: a Star Wars Story fun and entertaining. The catch is that that’s as far as I can go with it. It felt like a decent heist movie, but not like a Han Solo movie. It’s a repeating message I have heard from people about the films that try to build upon the legacy set forth from previous films years and years ago. Perhaps that’s why Rogue One did so well. It took a plot point from the old films, not a character.

Still, I hold true that I did have fun with this movie. I enjoyed the subtle humor and the blatant jokes. I enjoyed the always popular balance of sad laughter at a Woody Harrelson character. In a role so classicly “him,” Harrelson quips and meanders around the film as Tobias Beckett bringing you along with a constant giggle under your breath that is so natural, it’s like you just exhale chuckles. Right up to the point where his role drops the plot twist so hard that the “aww” escapes your mouth before you even realize what happened. He kept me so close to his character that I may have considered cheering for him at the wrong moment of the film … I admit nothing.

On the other side of Han Solo is his “frenemy” Lando Calrissian. I give great props to Donald Glover for his charisma and a suave demeanor so thick you could spread it on toast. He exuded the perfect air of con-man and friend to befit his character’s gambler/scoundrel persona. It mirrored well against the Solo I know from the original trilogy.

It actually becomes one of the biggest problems I had with the movie that turned against me in the end. I didn’t see any of the classic Han Solo in Alden Ehrenreich’s Han. I struggled with it for a while before I came to a justification that he shouldn’t be the same Han. I’m reminded of a saying, “You become the people you hang out with.”

When I look at the movie as a whole, I see the Han Solo I know, I see his charisma in Lando, I see his smuggler roots in Beckett, I even see the small spark of the goodness inside the anti-hero through Qi’ra, Emilia Clarke. The movie shows his roots in the people that make him who he is.

The downfall comes with a lack of subtlety in certain things. The entirety of the film seemed to be a linear progression of ticking fan-service and forcing it into a narrative. How did Han become a pilot, got it. Next, how did he meet Lando, there we go. Now, how did he get his blaster, check. Okay, how did he get the Falcon, point made?

It’s not a bad thing, I just wanted some newness to the plot instead of one throwback after another. I felt like Ehrenreich was so uncomfortable in the Han Solo skin, but he settles into in a few parts and fits better. While the plot seems regular, and sometimes pedantic, I can’t say it was a bad choice. I admit that I did enjoy seeing where all the little points of Solo’s past lead into his character in the original trilogy. I had fun with it.

That’s exactly my heart on the film. It was good, but not great. It was exciting, but not memorable. It was fun … but just fun. Was that enough? Well, I did have a pretty busy week, so fun was exactly what I needed. It didn’t have some things that I usually look for in films, but I didn’t care. So, it begged the question of me, is there ever one thing that a movie has to have for me to enjoy it? I guess not. I guess I just have to enjoy it.

 

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On the Town: Tomb Raider

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On The Town with Lonnie Adams

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves as the summer movie season is stepping closer daily. Strap in as the big names, big explosions, and big budgets gear up to fight tooth and nail for the top spot of the box office. That does raise a question, though. We’re not quite deep into that season yet, so we are still seeing some interesting moves in some movies. Tomb Raider moves to the newer versions of the video game as the basis for their reboot. The question, however, comes with their choice for Lara.

Alicia Vikander, a name most of you may not be familiar with yet, steps into the role that, regardless of your feelings of the first two films, has a large vacuum from a name like Angelina Jolie. So, my question is how to decide between paying for the established big name and taking a chance on a more unknown name. There has to be a point when the new names become popular. At one point, nobody knew who Harrison Ford was, nobody had heard of a lady named Jennifer Lawrence. I love when I discover new talents. I remember the first time I watched Daniel Wu and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Back to Tomb Raider, Vikander may not be that unknown for those of you, like me, who saw a lesser-known gem titled Ex Machina. Knowing the acting talent I saw in that film, I am not surprised at the details that she brings to Lara Croft. She manages to make this smaller frame girl a real action star. She may even be a little too formidable in the story as the girl who takes a spike to the stomach and climbs a mountain right after as if it were nothing. But to Vikander’s credit, the realism comes with her responses. In fights, she highlights the vast disadvantage she has with some less than fair fighting. But more, she shows the pain, she screams when she gets hit, she grunts and snarls when she falls. It’s a direct take from the newer version of the video game when they show Lara Croft on her first tomb. She’s not the experienced femme fatale that can drop a platoon without hesitation. You see the pain in her eyes with the constant disasters, you see the clumsiness with her first outing. Even if it doesn’t last.

Lara travels to her first tomb in search of her father, who was the original tomb raider, following a comment that they as Crofts have responsibilities to follow. The ensuing chaos does somewhat contradict the whole “deserted island” preamble they set up, but hey, it’s an action movie. Not everything is going to make a ton of sense. Making it onto the island and several high intensity scenes seem to show that Director Roar Uthaug definitely played close attention to the newer games. They seem pulled straight from the source material in set up and execution with a fast-paced, high-adrenaline sequence that pushes and pushes until you finally think you’re actually done with it, but then pushes one last time to another catastrophe to survive. I must give credit that I saw great homage to the source and great adaptation across the two media platforms, something very rarely achieved in video game movies.

For all its glory and sparkle, I still feel the same problem with this film as I do many origin stories, especially in today’s world of comic book movies. I don’t think this film takes enough time to truly enjoy the clumsiness of origins. I love that Vikander expresses this raw, unrefined heroine who is learning what she truly can do. However, the movie makes the leap too quickly from a London teen, coping with life, family, and finances, to a cold-blooded tomb raider who gets impaled, shrugs it off, climbs a mountain, fights an army, unlocks a centuries old tomb’s puzzles, and generally wades through life-threatening, PTSD-inducing, carnage without flinching. You missed the beauty of the metamorphosis, the awesomeness of smoothing out those rough edges. I missed the growth.

I also missed out on truly learning to despise this villain. Forgive me if I nitpick here, because I do realize that we only have so much time in a movie. Still, from the time I meet Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) I never truly see anything to stand out. When he is beaten by the end of the movie, I didn’t feel a victory. I didn’t see him separate from the numberless goons that surrounded him as the stereotypical “bad-guy henchman.” He was simply there, a face in the crowd, an obstacle to overcome.

The true villainy of the film comes from its lack of presence, a name on a box, a voice on a phone. A villain that is not really even named until the end when they, inevitably, set up for the sequel.

I see so much on both sides of this film. I can’t honestly say you should definitely drop what you’re doing and see it tonight, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself. It was fun. It was intense. It was finally a movie worthy of its source. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a step toward hope for future video-game-movies.

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On The Town: The Black Panther

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It’s no real secret from those who know me, I do not like politics. Now, before you start thinking What does politics have to do with this movie? I have to answer and say a lot, but not as much as I thought. As the Black Panther nods to some of the social issues facing the world today, it spends a lot of time speaking about global politics from a single man’s view. How would a king of a vastly advanced nation handle dealing with the rest of the world? It’s a puzzling question that I enjoyed exploring through the movie. It never sets aside today’s political issues, it merely shows how insignificant they are compared to a need for human cooperation. A simple thought, what if such a country existed without us knowing, will force you to take a different look at our world and what it needs.

I present Wakanda. It is an African nation, struck by a meteor of Vibranium long ago, that stands as an uber-advanced technological super-power against a world that is far behind them in their own tech.

What is Vibranium? Well, welcome to the Marvel universe where there exists a metal so strong that it can absorb kinetic energy. Think titanium, and then multiply by enough that you would laugh at how weak titanium is. That’s Vibranium.

I admit, I sat down to Black Panther thinking what’s up with this “Tony Stark wannabe” who thinks he can out-tech the master. I stand corrected. While Black Panther may not be equal to Stark on intelligence level, his tech makes up for it with an entire country of people and resources to shadow Stark. Yet, the beauty of this movie, and what saves it from the “knock-off Iron Man” label, is the way they meld the sci-fi genre’s tendency towards outrageous, over-the-top technology and pseudo-science, with a very grounded feel more akin to a cultural drama.

I often found myself enjoying more of learning about Wakanda and its culture and history than about the protagonist, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). Admittedly, T’Challa suffers from the sheer immensity of his nation and doesn’t get developed more than one or two major decisions, which again have more to do with Wakanda than him.

You join T’Challa as he is preparing to be crowned king. If you haven’t watched Captain America: Civil War, then I highly suggest watching it first for context before this movie as (SPOILER) his dad dies and he inherits the mantle of the Black Panther.

Okay, done with the spoiler, the rest of you can start reading again. T’Challa gains the crown and begins tackling the real issues of running his country, but he doesn’t have long to rule before a challenge is made. Ritual Combat set to decide between T’Challa and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).

Killmonger quickly becomes a key to the story, but more, he establishes himself as an understandable villain. I felt just as bad for him and his pain as I did for the main character. Killmonger, in this movie at least, has become one of the better villains I’ve watched in superhero movies. Pause for a moment to realize that villains in stories are always more important than the hero. You never know, truly, who T’Challa is without Killmonger setting the counterpoint. A hero doesn’t grow without catalysts, a villain grows to be the catalyst.

Forgive me a little villain praising, but think from the dark side a moment. In every story, a great villain can be said to be the hero of his own story. Jordan successfully portrays this as Killmonger. He is his own hero. In his mind, he is liberating the world from the problem he sees. He is the valiant knight riding in to save his people from his pain.

Villainy is, at its core, a second side of the same coin in most stories. A phrase comes to mind watching Killmonger fight opposite the Black Panther, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Jordan doesn’t just put Killmonger forth as a great villain, but as the quintessential result of this world’s sins. He represents inevitability itself.

Black Panther hits on point with amazing visuals and colors to astound movie-goers. It steadily builds towards its ultimate climax rather predictably, but the ride is no less fun. With Director Ryan Coogler, several scenes, like both the hero and villain meeting their late fathers in a spiritual plane, cling to you like that annoying string you find on your clothes halfway through your day. Coogler shows genius with these scenes and simultaneously owes a lot to his costume designer who blew me away in the film. I’m not just talking colors and patterns, but each character’s outfit speaks with meaning. From functionality for that characters role to exuding emotion, like a mother watching her son be crowned king wearing headgear that shows the spreading hope and light. It becomes tangible as everyone shows their “true colors” through their costumes.

And that is the home run that Black Panther hits. It isn’t the best action I’ve seen from Marvel, but the meaning and the weight that its characters carry make it worthy of the attention it is getting. Coogler fabricates a true sense of peril to the story and to our world today.

Black Panther is a film many critics are toying with adding to the greatest Marvel films made yet. While I can’t honestly say I agree that is THE best, I also can’t say its not worth the discussion. More importantly for you, it’s a film worth seeing.

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On The Town: Kingsman The Golden Circle

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What is the mark of an enjoyable movie? Is there one thing that stands out above the rest that just let’s you know this movie is better than others? I’m not talking about critics who analyze movies. I am speaking of you, at home. When you watch a movie and think to yourself, “I liked that.” Was there one mark or trait which signaled that it was likable?

Maybe it was relatable, it touched home with you. Maybe it was a suspenseful, dragging your attention into it. Most times, I try to think if movies are memorable. I’ve watched numerous movies, and even some that I like weren’t that great of movies, but they stuck with me for one reason or another. You and your friends probably retell funny quotes from your favorite movies at certain times. Maybe I could say, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t…” and you could finish the quote.

Any way you take it, great movies follow you. Stories stick with you. The great ones are memorable.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle, tends to fall short on that point. I walked away from the movie thinking much of it was forgettable. Which is probably pretty bad for a guy writing a movie review, but here we go.

We join Eggsy, Taron Egerton, after the first film having vaulted him into a covert secret organization for security of England in an almost “Bond-esque” style film. The movie itself is very tongue-in-cheek parody of spy films and flaunts it with over-the-top action and comic book cheesiness.

Eggsy encounters the decimation of his agency and ends up requesting help from an American similar organization known as ‘Statesman.’ The ensuing antics take a vast number of movie tropes into a meat grinder for a rather fun concoction of jokes and situations that add the right amount of cheese to make it amusing.

From the ‘a-little-too-convenient’ gadgets to the larger-than-life evil supervillain and back to the crazy obvious names, the tropes make “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” easy to follow, ubiquitous, and rather shallow in the grand scheme.

However, that’s not to say a film like this doesn’t have it’s place. Watching a cowboy cut another man in half with a ‘laser-lasso’ is definitely something I haven’t seen, yet. The cowboys are part of the new allies Eggsy finds along with an old one to help him on his new quest to save the world. He also sticks with the princess that many will remember from the first film with a, now infamous, anal sex joke.

As you traverse the almost two-and-a-half hour plot, you’ll find the same style of humor spread throughout. Those obvious names? “Poppy” is the drug dealer/mastermind villain. But these things make the film fun and cheeky for the time you spend in their world.

Still, I could see how some people could find a bit of the humor tired and maybe stretched out too much. It’s not an awful movie, but like I said before, forgettable makes it suffer and miss the mark of a “good” movie. Still, I could have seen a bunch of the guys rolling into this film for a good laugh at the end of the day.

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On the Town: Justice League

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On The Town with Lonnie Adams

Here we are. It has finally happened. The group movie to bring all your favorite heroes together in one film… the Aveng… wait a second. Sorry, fast forward to Justice League.

I make a joke of this, but really, it’s going to be incredibly hard for those of you who have seen the old movies, and even those of you who just watched Thor Ragnarok last week, to not compare the two Super Group films. Especially with Whedon’s previous experience with the other franchise. But we’re not here to talk Marvel. It’s DC’s turn. And Whedon  didn’t direct much of this film, it was Zack Snyder.

That said, I can see where Snyder took a lot of time with Whedon. I can see that he studied him. He studied the successes of previous Superhero films regardless of their company. Snyder manages to make great leaps forward on the Superman and Batman characters. Ben Affleck even surprised me with a much deeper Batman and Bruce Wayne than the one we see in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

While the movie goes that Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, begins recruiting for a team to defend a coming invasion, you begin to see a deeper undertone that Bruce is grasping at a team, anything to provide him a reason to keep moving. Is he recruiting the team to save the world, or to save his own sanity? A much older Batman starts feeling the pain catch up with him. A few key scenes drive this home with between Bruce and Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot).

I see a lot of good in the Justice League, a levity that lightens what could have been too much boring somberness, a misstep or two that save it from being too convenient of a team for the plot, and a lightness of the film that prevents it from taking itself too seriously. I see enough time given to Flash and Aquaman to show their importance without taking too much from the established characters. Sure, I wish it was longer, but I also see how much longer may have drug out this simple story line to the point of “beating a dead horse.”

I even feel like I should give a nod to Henry Cavill for taking a character I despise, Superman, and adding a little more vulnerability to him.

Oh yes, don’t hate me for saying it. I despise Superman. Justice League doesn’t manage to fully take me off that feeling. In the comics, in Man of Steel, in Batman v Superman, and in this film, Superman becomes an overpowered god figure who fails to show a humanity that makes him relatable. Batman v Superman explored the concept of Superman’s conflict better than some I’ve seen, but I’ve yet to truly feel that Superman struggles with himself over the power he has and when and how to use it.

Don’t think I blame this flaw on Directors or Actors, though. It’s a problem I’ve always had with the character. Although I would like to see more from Cavill to express this inner struggle that is supposed to be going on instead of joy at combat, I give him credit for a better showing at his weakness to humanity in general.

It wraps up a nice bow on the box of things I enjoyed in this movie. That said, I really want to describe the plot of this movie as Batman struggling to form a team of the World’s Greatest Warriors. Why? Well, to save the world from Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) who is attempting to connect three “mother boxes” to transform the Earth or something.”

I never get enough depth to the plot to feel like its anything more than just the excuse to build the team. Indeed, the team’s origins is the movie and the it gets topped off with a nice battle at the end.

While we all probably know the ceaseless issues that befell this film, I can’t give it a pass on it shortcomings. Wonder Woman opposites Batman as the Mother and Father figures of the group where Dad’s getting to old to play, and Mom is too nice to tell him so. While I found myself enjoying the idea of Batman showing a different side to set up as the brains of the operation, I feel it forced onto Wonder Woman. Almost as if the studio realized who made the biggest box office hit and wanted to capitalize on it.

In fact, the majority of the film feels like it was rushed to capitalize on different things. I wish that the Barry Allen, aka the Flash (Ezra Miller), and Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) had their solo flicks before Justice League released. Neither feels well established in Justice League. Victor Stone, aka Cyborg (Ray Fisher), seems the only one appropriately explained before the final battle ensues.

The humor also feels forced and a little childish at times. As if it was rewritten in later. Although, the actors roll well with it to create a few very comical moments and I applaud the studio for responding to what people have been saying about their other films, I encourage them to keep at it, make it a little more natural. Realize the great moments of Justice League and move forward growing those.

Overcoming a lot of issues, Justice League shows great potential even if it didn’t fully deliver on those promises. Let’s stop beating around the bush and get right down to it… Is Justice League worth seeing?

Yes, but just barely. Don’t let the barely part scare you. It is worth seeing, and it offers hope for the sequels and solo films coming for each of these characters. While it very noticeably falls short in some areas, it very noticeably excels in others. Throughout the troubles with shooting, re-shooting, and staffing, it comes out the other side far better than it should have been with so many changes. It needs work before a sequel, but I am still glad I watched it.

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