There is no sign that the superhero movie genre is dying. Perhaps it is immortal, thanks to regenerative powers, just like Deadpool. Speaking of Deadpool, the merc with the mouth is back in a sequel to one of the most successful R rated flicks ever. In this follow up to the 2016 hit, Deadpool abandons the life of an assassin and becomes an X-Man instead. Correction. He becomes an X-Men trainee. Wade Wilson’s inaugural X-Men mission doesn’t go well though, culminating in him shooting a care worker in the head. The murder lands him in the slammer, where he grudgingly befriends a tubby teenage mutant named Firefist.
James Cameron recently moaned about the number of superhero movies that are coming out. If you ask me he is just bitter, because Marvel characters love to rip off his ideas. Deadpool 2 for example shares more than a passing resemblance to the Terminator. In this film Deadpool is tasked with protecting a youngster from a time travelling cyborg. Doesn’t that sound familiar? The cyborg in question is a chap named Cable, who is played by Josh Brolin. Cable has set his sights on Firefist, as the obese mutant is responsible for the death of his family in the future. Why must overweight people cause so much pain? I still haven’t forgiven Israel’s Eurovision singer for harming my ears with her terrible music.
In order to take down Cable our masked hero assembles a team that he dubs X-Force. Poking fun at political correctness, Deadpool explains that X-Force is more progressive than X-Men, as their moniker is gender neutral. X-Force’s ranks include Old Spice muscleman Terry Crews, an invisible bloke named Vanisher and an alien called Shatterstar. Their screen time pales in comparison to Domino, who happens to be the group’s sole female recruit. Domino, who is portrayed by Atlanta actress Zazie Beetz, possesses the powers of cleavage, crazy hair and good luck. In some ways she reminds me of Fortune from Metal Gear Solid 2.
Deadpool 2 is the type of movie I suspect I will enjoy more on repeated viewings. The script is so packed with jokes that multiple screenings will be required to catch all the gags. I also think that my opinion of the film was affected by overly high expectations. Still who can blame me? Deadpool was my favourite release of 2016 and prior to watching the sequel I kept hearing from acquaintances how funny it is. To be honest I didn’t laugh during the first forty minutes, of this two-hour feature. Part of the reason is the tragedy that befalls Deadpool in the first act, but it must also be said that I didn’t find the meta quips and pop culture references to be all that amusing either.
Thankfully things pick up once Deadpool forms X-Force. I found the scene were the team parachutes down, to rescue Firefist, hilarious. The action ramps up from that point too. I was impressed by the fight choreography that director David Leitch (of John Wick fame) brought to the table. Josh Brolin’s performance was also excellent. The man behind Thanos worked well as the straight man to Ryan Reynolds’ zany Deadpool. Another thing worth mentioning is the soundtrack. Akin to Guardians of the Galaxy, this film knows how to enhance a scene by utilizing nostalgic tunes. Overall I enjoyed the original Deadpool more, as it had a tighter story, but Deadpool 2 still holds up as a solid continuation to the series. My rating is three and a half Chimichangas out of five.
This animated movie, featuring character designs from the creator of Afro Samurai, sees the Caped Crusader get transported back to Feudal Japan. Rather ironic, given that Batman is pretty much a modern day ninja. Just like a Japanese assassin, the Dark Knight uses stealth and martial arts to subdue his enemies… and they both look cool in black attire too. How did Batman end up in the past you ask? That’s all explained in the opening scene. Gorilla Grodd’s time machine is responsible for Batman’s historical trip and he didn’t go there alone. Catwoman, the Joker, Harley Quinn and various other villains have joined him along for the ride.
Batman Ninja’s plot follows Bruce Wayne who is stuck in the past. He has to find a way back to present day Gotham, but before that he needs to defeat numerous rogues who have taken over the land. Poison Ivy, Deathstroke, Two-Face and Penguin reached Japan two years prior to Batman’s arrival and in the interim they have managed to assemble sizable armies. Can the outnumbered DC hero triumph against so many adversaries? Usually I would say yes, but victory is far from assured as this version of Batman is dumber than Adam West’s rendition of the character. On more than one occasion he is outwitted by betrayals that even his young sidekicks can see coming a mile away.
Gullible isn’t a trait most people associate with Batman. The protagonist acts out of character throughout the eighty-five minute running time. He even losses confidence when the Batmobile is destroyed. Batman Begins to question how he can succeed without the aid of modern tech, which makes no sense. This is the guy who can topple the likes of Superman, even with a handicap of possessing no powers. Who cares about a car he can easily afford to replace? Guile and a few Chiropteran shaped boomerangs are the only things Batman usually needs to save the day. The tone of this motion picture isn’t faithful to the source material. It feels more like a low tier anime rather than a traditional Batman tale.
I watched the English language version of the movie and wasn’t too impressed with the voice acting. To be fair though, I think the poor performances were due to cheesy dialogue rather than a lack of talent. If you ask me the script feels like something penned by an amateur fanfic writer who grew up watching eighties action movies. Batman Ninja’s sole saving grace would have to be its visuals. The CG graphics are quite striking, although there are a few scenes were the animation would have benefitted from some more frames. Nothing major, but said moments made it seem like I was watching a 30 FPS video game rather than a movie studio production.
My rating for Batman Ninja is a one out of five. The movie didn’t do anything for me. During my screening I kept looking at my watch and for a brief moment I even fell asleep. Had I not committed myself to writing a review of this flick, for the billions of followers who read this blog, I doubt I would have lasted till the very end. Despite it not being my cup of tea I suspect that there will be an audience for this film. Some viewers will have fun with how “bat shit” crazy it gets. The finale for example features a giant mech fighting a swarm of monkeys. Nuff said. Overall, the action makes for a good trailer. Sadly however there isn’t enough substance here to carry an entire movie.
Once again Earth’s mightiest heroes must unite to save the world from destruction in a crossover movie spectacular. This time round the Avengers band together to take on Thanos, an intergalactic overlord who possesses a chin that resembles a scrotum. Most of your favourite Marvel cinematic characters make an appearance in this film, with the exception of Scott Lang who is occupied with other matters in the upcoming Ant-Man and Wasp. Hawkeye is also absent, but who cares? I always found Clint Barton to be rather bland. Besides he doesn’t have any superpowers. Good aim? Bah, what’s so special about that? Call of Duty is full of people who never miss their target.
Avengers: Infinity War begins with Thanos establishing his badass credentials by effortlessly pounding the Hulk into submission. He is on a quest to acquire the six Infinity Gems, which will grant him the power to purge half of the universe’s life forms. Standing between Thanos and his insane genocide scheme is Thor, who has teamed up with the Guardians of the Galaxy (led by a pudgy looking Star Lord.) Meanwhile on Earth – Thanos’ lackeys hunt down Vision, who is in possession of the Mind Stone. The underlings ask if Vision would “mind” parting with the Mind Stone, but he isn’t receptive to the idea as the jewel is the source of the android’s sentience.
Thanos’ minions also strike The Big Apple, after learning that New York resident Dr Strange holds the Time Stone that they seek. Unfortunately for them NYC has more heroes than yellow taxicabs. Their attack catches the attention of both Iron Man and his wall crawling apprentice Peter Parker. Even with their combined might, the triple S group of Strange, Stark and Spidey struggle against Thanos’ army. If they are to have any chance of beating the invaders more help will be required. Captain America (the latest hero to rock an unshaven look) could potentially turn the tide. Tracking him down might be difficult though, given that he is lying low after the events of Civil War.
My rating for Avengers: Infinity War is a four out of five. Not the best Marvel movie perhaps, but a good popcorn flick nonetheless. The wafer thin plot is just an excuse for plastering the screen with 149 minutes of non-stop action. I usually suffer from battle fatigue when a movie is laden with fights, but this one managed to keep my interest from start to finish. The script keeps things fresh by switching locations at a good clip. Unlike some other movies, the bloated cast wasn’t a detriment and everyone involved gets a moment to shine. Marvel productions are known for their humour and Infinity War is no exception to that rule. Drax the Destroyer’s quips in particular made me laugh a lot.
The jokes help to balance out what would otherwise be a depressing tale. Younger viewers will know the pain I felt back in the eighties, when I watched Transformers: The Movie, as many popular characters meet their demise in this feature. Thanos stands out as a rare example of a Marvel villain done right. He is cruel and unpredictable, but also has a compassionate side as shown in his scenes with stepdaughter Gamora. In a warped way he believes that his cosmic cull is an act of mercy. He wants to spare other worlds from suffering the ruin that befell his planet due to overpopulation. All that said, he is still a dick… and no that isn’t a reference to his nut-sack lower lip.
Mark Hamill turned up at my hometown the other day to open the “Sky Walk” bridge (just like me, the locals love a good pun). I decided to commemorate the event by watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As someone who enjoyed The Force Awakens and Rogue One, I have to say that this film is the weakest of Disney’s post Lucas efforts. Hopefully Solo will put the franchise back on track, although I am pessimistic on that prediction due to the film’s well-publicised production troubles. Replacing directors, partway through filming, sounds like a recipe for disaster. It certainly didn’t save Justice League from being a disappointment.
Following on from The Force Awakens’ conclusion, Rey has located Luke Skywalker on an isolated alien world. She hopes that the legendary Jedi will teach her the ways of the Force. Unfortunately for her, Luke has become a reclusive hermit who is opposed to mentoring new apprentices. Skywalker would rather spend his retirement alone drinking green milk, which he harvests by pinching a hideous extra terrestrial’s nipples. Believe me, the image is even more grotesque than my written description. Meanwhile the Resistance is on the run and begin the film pursued by a First Order fleet.
X-Wing ace Poe Dameron earns the good guys a reprieve by leading an attack that fells a First Order dreadnaught. The assault however comes at the cost of many casualties. In the battle’s aftermath, the surviving Resistance craft find themselves low on fuel and still hounded by their enemy’s armada. Perhaps they can flee if someone infiltrates the First Order flagship and hacks their computers, with the aplomb of a Cambridge Analytica Facebook App. Ex-Storm Trooper Finn volunteers to find a code breaker who is up to the task. He begins his search on a casino world, ably assisted by his new yandere girlfriend Rose.
I am awarding Star Wars: The Last Jedi a two and a half out of five. Despite the lengthy 152 minute running time I can’t say that the movie ever bored me. I was however underwhelmed by how the script squandered the potential set up by its predecessor. Director Rian Johnson inherited a story packed with juicy mysteries, but chose not to explore any of them. The question of Rey’s parentage was answered in a most anticlimactic manner. Meanwhile audiences hoping to learn of Snoke’s backstory will find nothing here. Just like Darth Maul, this villain looks sinister but doesn’t have much substance. I suppose the character’s origins will be left for novels and spin-offs to expand.
Just like The Force Awakens, this movie recycles material from the original trilogy. AT-AT Walkers on a snowy battlefield, a protagonist training under an eccentric master and heroes ending the movie on the ropes all harken back to Empire. One thing that really bugged me was Luke’s portrayal. I understand that people get grouchier with age, but Skywalker’s personality shift was too much. He’s completely apathetic to the plight of his friends and family, just because he discovered that his nephew is a bit emo. Let’s hope that J.J. Abrams can salvage this mess in Episode IX. Otherwise, I too may join the despondent ranks of Kylo Ren by moping about, dressing in black and listening to Simple Plan tunes.
When it comes to dysfunctional families the Norse gods of Marvel’s cinematic universe are tough to beat. Odin and Thor have a strained relationship, to put it mildly, and Loki doesn’t get on with the thunder deity either. The god of mischief lives up to his reputation by routinely betraying his brother. In Thor: Ragnarok we learn that Thor has a long lost sister named Hela. She is the goddess of death and has returned from exile with aspirations of claiming the vacant Asgardian throne. Hela’s thirst for conquest will put her at loggerheads with Thor, who seems to be blighted with unruly relatives.
Don’t let the movie’s title fool you, a substantial chunk of Thor: Ragnarok takes place outside of Asgard. After getting trounced by Hela, a hammerless Thor ends up marooned on the alien world of Sakaar. The planet’s ruler is a nutty chap named Grandmaster (who is played by Jeff Goldblum, who appears to have walked on set wearing his morning gown.) Grandmaster enslaves Thor and forces him to compete in mortal combat. In effect Thor is now a gladiator, who fights against other gladiators, in a gladiator arena… just like that Ridley Scott movie whose name I cannot recall.
Thor: Ragnarok boasts a star-studded lineup. Many of the big names are limited to brief appearances though. That’s what happens when 130 minutes has to be rationed out between such a big cast. Benedict Cumberbatch’s reprisal of Dr Strange is constrained to a cameo. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is relegated from nemesis to comic relief. If you came to watch a memorable performance from Karl Urban, I “dredd” to inform you that he is nothing more than Hela’s lackey. I didn’t mind that Mark Ruffalo barely featured in human form though. I found the chattier CGI Hulk to be more entertaining than his alter ego Bruce Banner.
My rating for this motion picture is a Thor out of five. Overall I would have to say that Ragnarok is a big improvement over its predecessor Thor: Dark World. If you enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy I imagine you will like Ragnarok too. Both films deliver on sci-fi spectacle, tons of action and lashings of humour. If anything, the script was a little too saturated with gags. Most of the jokes are hilarious, but there were some moments of slapstick that missed their mark. Another grievance I had, with the witticisms, is that on a couple of occasions the mood was ruined by an out of place quip.
I’ll conclude by saying that the ladies acquitted themselves well. Hela is just a generic Marvel villain, who looks like a blade wielding Maleficent. Cate Blanchett made the role work though, with an over the top portrayal that is cartoonishly evil. Tessa Thompson also did a good job as the booze swilling Valkyrie. As someone who loves blondes, I was disappointed to see that Valkyrie doesn’t resemble a traditional Scandinavian war maiden. Tessa did however match the boys when it came to fisticuffs. She’s actually tougher than some of the guys (Loki and Banner I am looking at you.) Okay, I take that back. Banner is a badass. Best not to upset him with insults. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
A horny new god named Steppenwolf has returned from exile and plots to take over the world. Unfortunately for the citizens of Earth, after the events of Batman versus Superman, the Man of Steel is no longer around to save us from peril. In his absence, the responsibility of guarding Earth from invasion falls to DC’s Caped Crusader. His only super power is wealth though, so Bruce Wayne will have to recruit beefier allies to help him fend off the impending alien threat. The group that answers the call are known as the Justice League. For all intents and purposes they are Warner Bros’ version of the Avengers (only not as cool.)
After the convoluted plot of Batman v Superman, Justice League elects to keep things simple. The narrative is a straightforward tale of heroes banding together to stop the villain from collecting three MacGuffins. Steppenwolf is no Lex Luthor, so audiences are spared from schemes that pit protagonists against each other and tricks that dupe rivals into drinking pee. The antagonist of this tale is a generic evil conqueror who looks mean, akin to Thor’s enemy Malekith the Accursed. Justice League might fail to mimic the box office success of Marvel’s motion pictures, but its script does at least replicate the competition’s two-dimensional baddies.
Debutants Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash join Batman and Wonder Woman, who have previously been established in other films. Aquaman reminds me of Drax the Destroyer (Guardians of the Galaxy). They both look tough, but don’t do much other than make silly remarks and get smacked about by the opposition. Cyborg is the half man, half machine token black guy. His sole purpose in the movie is to hack Steppenwolf’s gizmos. To be fair, overriding extra-terrestrial tech with mechanical appendages is more plausible than Jeff Goldblum uploading a virus. Flash is the unfunny comic relief. His displays of speed lack the creativity found in the X-Men scenes that feature Quicksilver.
My rating for Justice League is a three out of five. An average superhero flick that fails to match the standards set by Marvel Studios. Thank goodness that I didn’t pay to watch this at the cinema. It’s mediocre and the CG effects lack polish. For fans of spandex crime fighters, I would however say that the DVD is worth a rental, as the action is decent. I also appreciate how Justice League is less serious than its predecessors. The biggest beneficiary of the lighter tone is Superman, who returns near the end. He makes some quips and is finally presented as a beacon of hope. What a relief. In prior movies it was weird to see how the last son of Krypton was grouchier than Batman.
Now that Superman is back (not a spoiler given that he is on the box art) I wonder how he will be handled in future sequels. The biggest issue with Superman is that he is too darn strong. In this movie, for example, the entire Justice League is powerless against Steppenwolf. Superman on the other hand can pwn him without breaking a sweat. Perhaps they can reduce Superman’s strength by cutting his hair. That worked against Samson. First up they can start by shaving his facial hair. It amazes me that digital effects had to be used to hide Henry Cavill’s moustache. How dare you refuse to shave for a role? Who do you think you are? Only Cesar Romero’s Joker can get away with that.
If you yearn for summer weather, during these chilly months, fear not because a trip to the beach is just one DVD away courtesy of Baywatch. Whilst conducting research for this review (mostly Google image searches of Pamela Anderson) I was surprised to learn that the original Baywatch TV series ran for a very respectable eleven seasons. How does a show about lifeguards last for so long, whilst Hasselhoff’s awesome Knight Rider gets a paltry four seasons to its name? What a travesty of justice! Speaking of the Hoff and Pammy, both actors make brief cameo appearances in this movie. It’s a little sad seeing how the heartthrobs of my youth have now gotten so wrinkly.
Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon is the head lifeguard of the world’s most dangerous beach. Seriously. Although nothing of note ever happens at my local seaside, over at Baywatch Florida, Buchannon has amassed a record of five hundred coastal rescues! When the movie begins Mitch recruits three new trainees to his team. The trio of newbies include a former Olympic gold medallist named Matt Brody. You would imagine that enlisting the services of a speedy swimmer would be quite the coup, but unfortunately not as Brody isn’t a team player. This is evidenced by the time he cost his nation relay glory, due to excessive partying. He turned up to the event with a hangover and proceeded to pollute the pool with puke – earning him the nickname Vomit Comet.
In this adventure the Baywatch crew take on a foreign entrepreneur named Victoria Leeds, who is played by a former Miss World. After losing ownership of the family business to her brother, Leeds migrated to America where she proceeded to amass a fortune through drug trafficking. If you think that lifeguards battling a criminal syndicate is ridiculous worry not, because various onscreen characters express similar sentiments. Baywatch constantly pokes fun at itself. This is an action comedy that veers more towards humour than action. If anything the action is rather lacklustre. A film starring The Rock should feature good fight choreography – the few fisticuffs we get however are marred by shaky cam. The shaking will make you more seasick than riding on a Baywatch jet ski.
My rating for Baywatch is a three out of five. The movie isn’t great, as the scathing reviews penned by professional critics will attest to, but I would still class it as a fun romp – providing that you can turn off your brain throughout its two-hour duration. A guilty pleasure offering a blend of comedy and eye candy is how I would put it. The ratio of funny/lame jokes could be better, but I must admit to chuckling quite a few times. Highlights of note include the banter that Mitch and Matt share, along with the scenes mocking how the original series would use slow motion effects whenever CJ took a jog. I could however have done without the morgue sequence involving a dead man’s genitals. That gag was bollocks in more ways than one.
When it comes to fan service both genders are well catered to. Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach bouncing about in swimsuits will go down well with the guys. Female viewers on the other hand can gawk at Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron’s chiselled torsos. If you are the rare breed of girl who prefers blubber to muscle Jon Bass has you covered, in the role of computer whizz Ronnie Greenbaum. Do women who lust after unattractive overweight blokes really exist though? If they do, and one of them happens to be reading this article, please leave your phone number in the comments section below. We should meet up for dinner and a movie some time 😉