ARE WE STILL FANS OR DO WE JUST WANT TO SEE THE CAPES?

There was a time when comic book shows in multimedia were far and in between. Comic nerds and superhero fans were starving for entertainment other than what was on the pages at their local comic store. There might be one TV show with a guy in a mask one season and another with a lady with a lasso a few years later but that’s all you got. Then you may get one major motion picture with a guy in a cape and two decades later get another movie about a superhero vampire but that was your limit. Yup the pickings were slim.

When comic book heroes started showing up in serials in the 1930s. Flash Gordon, Shazam, Batman and Superman all came to life for about 15 minutes leaving you with a cliffhanger until the next episode. Another popular medium, radio, where every week you can hear the adventures of Buck Rogers and Dick Tracey. With a TV in the 1950s, your home was visited by The Lone Ranger and Superman. As decades past you had a very campy Batman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and yes, we had a Hulk. To satisfy our lack of live action we had some of the best classic cartoons. From Marvel superheroes in the 1960s to the Superfriends of the 1970s to G.I. Joe in the 1980s to the X-Men of the 1990s our Saturday mornings and after school schedules was set.

Then something happened. The late 1990s Sony Spiderman movies became a hit. Over in TV land, Smallville, a show about Superman’s beginnings ran for 10 seasons. Then Batman Begins and so starts the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Marvel launches the MCU with Iron Man and from there the industry blew up. Superheroes are everywhere.

There are currently about 16 comic books inspired live-action shows on TV with four more starting next month in June. There are at least 8 comic book inspired movies due out in 2018. These numbers do not include the countless cartoons and kid shows based on comic books and superheroes in general.

The question we now need to ask ourselves is: Has the industry oversaturated the fanboys and girls with the comic book world?

The recent cancellation of Marvel TV’s Inhumans it may signal that this superhero boom may be over. Although Marvel put a decent push for Inhumans by releasing the pilot in IMAX it did not go over well with the fans. It was perceived as too campy compared to the MCU that fans have been used to getting. On top of that, the fate of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D seems to be a little uncertain. Yes, the CW seems to be going strong with their line up of superhero and comic book shows every night which all have basically been renewed for next year but of all the shows Arrow which was the flagship show that started it all is at the bottom of the ratings. Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War have topped the box office this year with millions but our payoff for Infinity War is a year away. Will the fans wait that long, or will the attention move elsewhere?

In some respect, you can say that it feels like the industry makers are taking our love for superheroes too far and not giving us the quality that we are used to. Just stick a cape on it and the people will buy it. There’s no need for quality, compelling storyline or character development when you know there will be ticket sales and viewers based on the superhero content. Netflix’s Jessica Jones might have been that show to display this. Overall this Marvel Netflix outing was not up to par with previous shows almost like it was rushed to get the product out to the fans. DC is coming out with its own streaming service called DC Universe in 2018. Set previews of its upcoming show, Titans, has not been sitting well with fans. Already there’s debate about whether this first live action Titans will live up to its comic book predecessor.

The remainder of 2018 promises some awesome things in movie, TV, and streaming. It’s up to us the audience to determine if we are still fans. It’s up to us to determine if we just want to see our favorite characters on the screen regardless of the content. The superhero genre is still booming but whether it’s waning a bit remains to be seen. There are some great plans for comic book superheroes on the big and small screens even past 2020 but the question is will this genre stand the test of time.

Kenny Walker Jr

Joker: The Review

Make no mistake, this is not your daddy’s Joker. If you walk in the theater looking for a Batman based action movie you will be a victim of disappointment. If you think you’re going to see a movie where the bad guy is looking to kill everyone and rule the world, you came to the wrong show. If you expect big CGI scenes, henchmen and a lot of action fight scenes then you wasted your money on a ticket.

This is the movie about the psychological spiral downfall of a single man. The Joker. This is a psychotic thriller.

Let me start by saying that Joaquin Phoenix was awesome as Arthur Fleck who would eventually become The Joker. He should definitely get an Oscar nod for his performance. Just when we all thought no one could play the Joker after Heath Ledger, Joaquin Phoenix proves us wrong. As Arthur Fleck, Phoenix plays a man who works as a clown and lives with his mother.

Arthur also suffers from a disorder that makes him laugh uncontrollably at the most awkward times. Phoenix takes you on a journey as the title character whose life slowly falls apart taking a man who is already on the brink completely over the edge. Phoenix develops this eerie pain-stricken laugh for the character’s condition that will make you sympathize with his plight because he honestly makes it look like it hurts.

And yes, I said sympathize. His downward spiral has you rooting for him and then you realize that you are routing for the killer. That is why Joaquin Phoenix deserves an award for this performance. Going in the first thing you need to do is take past interpretations of the character out of you head. You’re going to get a better Joker than Jared Leto without a doubt but a different Joker than Jack Nicholson.

You’re going to see a hint of Heath Ledger and not a bit of Cesar Romero. My indifference with this movie is in the script. When we meet Arthur Fleck, he is already seeing a therapist and on meds for his condition. We meet a socially inept loser who is down on his luck and gradually getting worse. My problem with that is that when he finally did snap and go full on Joker it wasn’t a big leap. I barely saw the snap.

I think the story would have had more impact if Arthur Fleck had been more of a normal guy. Imagine life taking a man with no pre-existing conditions and turning him into a psychotic killer. Even though Joaquin Phoenix stood out in the title role and dominated the film, his supporting cast did well in holding their own.

Robert De Niro as the talk show host Murray Franklin and Zazie Beetz as the neighbor/imaginary girlfriend Sophie Dumond were outstanding support. However, another stand out was Frances Conroy as Penny Fleck, Arthur’s mother. Her character is one of the main reasons that snaps Arthur into the Joker because of her own mental illness and the lies that she had her son believe all his life.

But how do you make a movie about a famous fictional villain and his road to villainy without putting worse characters in the film that make him go bad. Brett Cullen’s Thomas Wayne was that character for this movie. Sorry folks but this movie makes Batman’s dad out to be the biggest dick there is. And spoiler alert, the fateful moment that makes Bruce Wayne an orphan you have a hard time feeling sorry for the Wayne’s fate.

Yeah, the Joker was a psychotic killer, but this guy was a genuine everyday ass that you had no problem seeing getting shot at the end. I guess that’s what happens when you tell the story from the other side. As the reviews come in some people loved this movie and others hated it. I’m indifferent because although I didn’t like the script and the way it moved, I thought the acting was superb. So, I guess this is less of a review and more telling you what to expect going in.

This isn’t your typical comic book movie. And I’m curious as to what you think about it.

Kenny Walker Jr

Hobbs and Shaw: A Long Way From Street Racing

At some point since the Fast and Furious franchise began, it went from being about fast cars and racing to a superhero/James Bond theme. In 8 movies, street racers went from the hood to saving the world from terrorist.

And that’s what got us to The Fast and Furious Presents Hobbs and Shaw.

I approached this movie the wrong way. I wasn’t ready to accept it. There was no Dom, Lettie or any of the usual suspects to be seen in any part of this so how did they make this become part of the franchise. This movie starred two late comers to the franchise that weren’t even street racers.

I was annoyed. I wanted the old formula on which the franchise was built on without realizing that formula had long gone out the window. In a conversation with my son, who was 9 when the franchise started and has seen all the movies, I was told the harsh reality. “Dad” he said, “these movies haven’t been about street racing and cars since the 3rd installment.”

I had to pause for a minute then I thought to myself “dam-it he’s right”. See, I was fooling myself. Even thought the movies had a lot of racing up until the 5th installment they were still about a bigger picture. They were righting wrongs and taking down drug lords with there own form of street justice.

Then in the 6th installment they were hired by the government to take down a terrorist group that used fast cars because of course you get racers to catch racers. Which had the team fighting villains in British subways and taking down massive airplanes…… with cars. I missed the farfetched in that I suppose.

In the 7th installment the black ops brother of the previous installment’s villain was after the team for revenge, so they had to take him down before he killed the whole group. This had the team using cars to jump from an airplane, from building to building in Abu Dhabi and fighting a militant assassin group.

A long way from fellow street racers and drug lords. In the 8th installment, the team are using cars on ice to match a submarine and teaming up with the villains from 6 and 7 to help take down a world terrorist. So yeah, the franchise has steered a long way from its roots into a different entity and I was still believing this was about cars and street racing. Fooling myself.

With Hobbs and Shaw focusing on two late comers to the franchise that have nothing to do with street racing, I was unaccepting. When Hobbs and Shaw took on a literally super powered cyborg attached to a world domination organization, I was still looking for street racing instead of what I should have been in the theatre for: having fun.

Once I took my son’s advice and looked at the movie from that perspective, my world changed along with my review of this movie. As per title, this franchise spin off was focused on the characters Hobbs and Shaw. Luke Hobbs, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, was brought to the franchise in Fast and Furious 5 as a law man sent to bring in Vin Diesel’s Dom and Paul Walker’s O’Connor.

By the end of the movie, they team up to fight a common enemy and Hobbs gives Dom and O’Connor’s team a head start before he tries to capture them again. In the 6th installment, Hobbs does come to them but not to arrest them but to ask for help tracking an international terrorist that uses fast cars in their crimes. The payment was pardons.

Of course, they take the deal and win their freedom. This leads to installments 7th bad guy Deckard Shaw, Jason Statham, coming after the team for revenge of his brother’s capture. In the 8th installment the Shaw brothers are both used to help the team defeat a common villain in a sense becoming good guys. This spin off has Hobbs and Deckard Shaw forced to team up by their governments to defeat another common villain.

Hobbs and Shaw is an action adventure comedy that uses the much-used plot device of a buddy movie where the “buddies” don’t get along. Johnson and Statham spend most of the movie arguing and fighting each other before coming together to defeat villain Brixton Lore played by Idris Elba. The undeniable chemistry between these two leading men made the movie work.

Of course, they can pull off the action scenes, but the comedic parts were pulled off just as well. The two were also joined by Vanessa Kirby who played Shaw’s sister, Hattie. The typical corny bravado lines that action stars do worked well in this movie once you consider the source and take the movie for what it is. You’re not coming to this movie for great acting, great mystery or an intricate plot.

You walk in this movie to have fun and see off the wall action stunts and that’s what you get. Rounded off with cameos by Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds, you get a starstudded actionpacked fun movie. Idris Elba’s turn as a villain was worth it. His introducing line was a very cheesy “I’m the bad guy” which set you up from the start at the dialogue you can expect.

Nothing to deep or tense really but for this movie it worked. As I said before, I took this movie too seriously and focused on the let downs which I still must mention. One of them being the full disconnect from the main franchise. I thought that Johnson and Statham could make any action movie that had nothing to do with Fast and Furious.

The only connection besides the characters being the same from the franchise is that they briefly mention they have a past from the franchise at the beginning of the movie. I was expecting a cameo from Vin Diesel, Ludacris, Tyrese, or Michelle Rodriguez. However, with the beef between the stars from working together on the previous movies that was not going to happen. To me it is spoiled rich stars being spoiled rich stars on both sides of the beef.

Other let downs were the chemistry that wasn’t there in the forced romance between Hobbs and Hattie Shaw. Johnson and Kirby had zero scene love chemistry. But for as big a movie draw as he is when have we known Johnson to have good romantic chemistry in any film. Let down and big fail was the time change in the ending battle scene. Without giving too much away for those who haven’t seen it, you time how long dawn turns to day.

It’s actually a good laugh that I’m sure wasn’t meant to be. Yes, the spin off is a long way from Dom and O’Connor solving their problems with fast cars. Yes, this movie is more like an action adventure comedy James Bond film rolled into one. And yes, you should go see it. Don’t think too hard about the plot and go to have fun and you will.

Kenny Walker Jr

Brightburn: Evil Shines

Brightburn made no secret about being Superman plus the Omen, and still managed to throw twists to the audience. Brightburn paid homage to Superman throughout the film. After his ship crashes at a Farmhouse, the alien baby, named Brandon Breyer is raised by loving parents who were battling infertility.

Fitting the theme of evil Superman, Brightburn warps a few recurring Superman themes, while adding the thrills of horror and slasher films. In Brightburn, Brandon Breyer’s lifts a truck like the iconic Action Comics, except he drops the truck on the street as a murderous act. He toys with his Uncle as the uncle flashes the lights, Brandon is on the ground, flashes again, this time he is levitating, then gone.

He picks up the truck and drops it, his jaw breaks off against steering wheel. This gruesome scene was the first instance of Brandon cutting his family ties. Throughout the film the audience learns more about Brandon Breyer’s “gifts.” He proves to be exceptionally smart while discussing the difference between wasps and bees in the classroom.

This class discussion foreshadows much of the film to come. Brandon describes the wasps as aggressive predators, which he soon becomes. The hive mind also hints at the power of the spaceship and it’s ability to control Brandon Breyer. It is also disclosed that Brandon has never been sick, never bruised or bled.

As he reaches puberty, his 12th birthday, the spaceship begins pulsating and communicating causing him a seizure. After the seizure, he wakes up and jumps out his window, hitting the ground. In the next scene, he moves at superspeed, showing no signs of damage as he heads toward the barn. His mother finds him yanking at the trap door storing his spaceship.

Brandon has seemingly blacked out. The next day he throws the lawnmower like a football. As he investigates the mower, he slides his hand between the rotating blade, breaking the blade. By this point it has been revealed that Brandon Breyer is smarter than most, apparently invincible with superhuman speed and strength.

So, it comes as no surprise later in the film when Brandon announces his superiority to the guidance counselor, his aunt. Brandon Breyer’s perversion leads him to become a superhuman stalker and serial killer. After an anticlimactic birds and bees talk, Brandon takes his father’s advice about giving into his urges.

So that night he flies into his crush’s bedroom, starts playing a song on his crush’s laptop, then using his superspeed to appear ghostly as he opens the laptop and starts the music again after she closes it. She saw him in the blinds, but as she called for her mom, he flew out the window. The next day she calls him a pervert in gym class, so he grotesquely breaks her hand and arm.

After this incident, his mom, Tori, admits the truth about his origin to Brandon. He does not handle this well and is now one step closer to becoming Brightburn. He arrives at his crush’s house and delivers a chilling message then proceeds to attack her mother at the restaurant. In true horror fashion, he leaves the Brightburn symbol all over the glass.

Then breaks glass lighting above her head so glass shard gets in her eye. With one eye seeing completely red, the scene has a horror feel as he uses super speed to scare his prey. Finally, she locks herself in fridge, prompting him to use laser vision then super strength to rip open the door. The police declare her missing, as Brightburn has relocated her and performed a dissection.

The beginning of the end of Brandon Breyer occurs in a scene that eerily felt like the pivotal scene in the Walking Dead when Rick Grimes kills his best friend Shane. Kyle, Brandon’s father, accepted their son’s evil ways before his wife, so he decided it was his responsibility to end Brandon’s reign of terror.

As Brandon looks at deer tracks, Kyle cocks back the hunting rifle and fires it directly into the back of Brandon’s head, the impact does no damage. Brightburn is truly born in this moment, he flies around, taunting his dad then knocks him over, and proceeds to shoot eye beams through Kyle’s head and skull.

Brightburn starts with Tori, Brandon’s mom, playing hide and seek by whistling before school, and he pops out in the barn behind a barrel of hay, setting up the ending of the movie. The last time Tori can reach her son, Brandon occurs when he is again drawn to his spaceship, repeating a phrase, “Take the world.”

The birth of Brightburn culminates as Tori calls Kyle to warn him about the pictures she saw, but Brandon answers while levitating above the house. Brightburn starts ramming the house while she calls 911. As they arrive Birghtburn flies through the sheriff, very similar to a scene in the Boys. Then violently flies up and down slamming other cops head into the ceiling then throws her into room where mom is hiding.

Whistling as he looks for Tori, Brandon Breyer has fully transformed to Brightburn, and his mother finally realizes she must try to end his reign of terror. She sneaks outside the window, then runs to the spaceship. She grabs a piece of the ship and starts whistling. She coaxes him into a hug and goes to stab him, but he catches her arm. Flies her through the roof into the stratosphere then drops her.

Killing his connection to humanity, and thus his humanity. Instead of saving a plane about to crash like Superman, Brightburn forces a plane to crash into his childhood home to cover up the deaths at his superhuman hands. Brightburn does a great job of interweaving the horror, slasher, and superhuman genres.

Brightburn was full of amazing visuals, from the ominous scenes of him floating in the window of his aunts house to the talented artwork he drew documenting his crimes, and his future goals; such as him floating about Earth and his eye beams to blow it up, and another with skeletons in a burning Earth underneath him.

This film becomes even more tantalizing at the end. The end credits display a few news reports with Brightburn destroying an office building, floating above a forest fire, then his Brightburn symbol as a crop circle. Then, a conspiracy theorist by the name of Big T screams about the government hiding the truth about Brightburn.

Then drops the bombshell of other super villains. As he mentions a half man, half sea creature destroying ships, a creature with glowing green eyes is shown. The conspiracy theorist also mentions a being that chokes men with ropes and chords, perhaps this universe’s evil versions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman.

On the screen behind Big T, there is a red costume with yellow emblem, presenting a twist to build fans excitement. That suit belongs to the Crimson Avenger, the main character from ‘Super.” Also, the name of the restaurant Brightburn attacked was named, Darbo’s.

The main character from Super’s name, Frank Darbo, a vigilante with the aggression and penchant for violence of Batman, without the brains and fortune. Brightburn’s ending opened the door for the first Super Villain focused cinematic universe, posing the question, “Will evil aliens Take the World?”

Mike Hoff

Hush: Don’t Mention This Movie Exists

The DC universe has done it again. If their goal is to let down their fanbase, they have been on fire. More realistically, they are playing cash grab, trying to catch up to the MCU. Hush is one of the most revered Batman story arcs, just like the Killing Joke, and just as they did with the Killing Joke, they ruined a fan favorite.

If they keep this up, the LEGO comic book universe will be the MCU’s closest competitor. Hush, the animated movie, followed some of the story. Batman tries to catch Batwoman in the opening scene, but his Batarang line is cut, causing him to free fall and resulting in a brain injury. In the opening scene in the comics, Killer Croc is the villain Batman and Catwoman converge upon, whereas the movie chose to use Bane.

The casual DC fans would be more familiar with Bane than Killer Croc, so there is a certain profit-based logic, but it does not add to the story. But at least that only didn’t add to the story, compared to other alterations which ruined this animated adaptation. The animated movie again stuck to the source material in the Batman versus Superman fight.

Poison Ivy was able to put Superman under her spell with Kryptonite lipstick, then used him as a weapon against Batman and Catwoman. This scene was a rare bright spot. Batman using the Kryptonite gloves and running in lead lined tunnels to counteract Superman’s superhuman strength advantage always appeases Batman fans.

The Batman and Catwoman love storylines intrigued readers since its inception, Hush the movie capitalized on this to the “Umph” degree. The audience went “Umph” when this story about the manipulation and betrayal at the hands of childhood best friend became that love story. Fans probably would have been happier if it ended in the wedding of Batman and Catwoman than they were with this movie’s twist(ed) ending.

Introduce Dr. Thomas Elliot, like the comic, the fans are introduced to Thomas Elliot as Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend to operate on Bruce Wayne. The scenes between Bruce and Thomas were supposed to set up an emotionally driven reveal, instead, they turned it into another tragedy caused by Bruce Wayne being Batman.

In the comic, Joker looks guilty of killing Thomas Elliot, and Batman almost breaks his code as he brutally beats the Joker then almost stabs him to death. The animated movie closely followed this scene, then turned the entire story on its head. The animated movie decided to kill off Thomas Elliot, it was not another of Hush’s ploys.

In the comics, this scene was staged, as it is finally revealed, Hush was Thomas Elliot. This emotional impact of this personal betrayal is one of the main reasons Hush goes down as one of Batman’s best stories. Another missing emotional piece to this puzzling movie, was the absence of the Clayface as Jason Todd scene.

This scene was absent due to continuity issues, as Jason Todd is not a part of their DC animated universe. But the scene in the comics where Batman confronts Jason Todd was one of the most pivotal scenes of this story arc. Instead of drawing the fans in with this scene, they foreshadow a decision that would make Batman fans squirm and dissociate from this animated film.

Hush, the animated movie decided to put their own twist on the surprise ending, and The Riddler revealed as Hush. Their apparent logic comes from the very end of the comic when Batman visits The Riddler at Arkham Asylum. While their reasoning makes sense, it completely ruins the impact of the reveal, and thus the movie in its entirety.

Hush, the animated movie, another DC movie let down. DC animated movies, such as Under the Red Hood stuck to the source material and was a hit amongst DC fans and blew Marvel animated movies out of the water. DC comic fans want their favorite comics to come to life whether live-action or animated, however, they will stop spending their hard-earned dollars if DC continues to butcher some of its best storylines.

Hush is a movie no Dc fan will recommend to another, diehard or casual. With movies like the Killing Joke and Hush, it is getting harder to be excited for any future DC animated projects. Here’s to hoping there is a major twist in the DC production team so Dc fans will once again be proud to discuss their favorites story arcs come to life on the big or silver screen.

Mike Hoff

Dora and the Lost City of Gold Review – The Undiscovered Gem of 2019

Dora and the Lost City of Gold was a very funny and entertaining family movie and you should definitely go see it whether you have kids or not. Now I could stop there and leave it to you to see this movie, but I want to backup my words here.

I’m not going to lie. When I heard of this movie coming out, I was not impressed and thought that this would be a joke. Then I saw the trailer. This looked like nothing but fun and adventure and I was right. Isabela Moner as teenage Dora was casting gold. She was Dora in every way.

Her perkiness and upbeat attitude in the face of adversity is exactly what you would expect from a live action Dora. She even had wide eyed blank stare like she was born for the role. This movie portrayed Dora grown in her teen years coping with learning how to live in the city away from the jungle and interacting with kids her own age instead of jungle animals.

Moving to the city, Dora is reunited with her cousin Diego, played by Jeff Wahlberg, who moved to the city 10 years earlier. Dora’s adjustment is hard and sometimes embarrassing for Diego in school. The characters naïve approach to the outside world is what keeps this movie close to its source material. It keeps the content pure. Moner is perfect in this capacity.

You can’t praise Moner’s Dora without giving recognition to the young version of Dora played by Madelyn Miranda. You would have thought they used this young actress as the prototype for the animation. The other main characters play well off Moner’s Dora. Fan favorite Michael Pena and Eva Longoria play Dora’s father and mother.

Of course, this is a much larger role than we are used to seeing Dora’s parents in the animated show. Pena adds his own style of quirky humor that he is known for that stands up in this feature. Dora’s new school friends Randy, played by Nicholas Coombe, and Sammy, played by Madeleine Madden, are along for the adventure with Dora’s cousin Diego, Wahlberg.

Coombe’s Randy is the nerdy kid in school that gets bullied and does not have a lot of friends while Madden’s Sammy is the bossy smart girl that no one can stand. Yes, all characters we have seen before which is normally hackneyed and annoying but these two are a lot more likeable then your run of the mill. Wahlberg’s Diego is a character that is not like the animated.

This Diego is 10 years older and grew up in the big city. He’s different now. Diego shows a contrast of what Dora would have been like if she had grown up in the city. Diego had to lose some of the childhood innocence to survive. Never fear though, Diego comes around to back his cousins play when it is most needed.

Eugenio Derbez played Alejandro Gutierrez who joins Dora’s adventure under a ruse that he is a friend of her parents when he is actually the lead villain. You kind of see this coming as an adult watching this movie but you really didn’t come to a Dora Explorer movie looking for an intricate plot. Derbez does an excellent job of providing a threat for our heroes but not too threatening as to scare the young audience.

Another character worth mentioning is Boots, Dora’s best friend and monkey. Boots was a CGI creation that added so much to this movie. Boots was voiced by Danny Trejo and this was not only a scene stealer but the funniest moment in the film. One of the best parts of this movie was the tongue in cheek humor. The script and the actors played up to the nuances of the animations.

Dora breaking the fourth wall to talk to her audience, Dora pulling random things out of her backpack and even Dora putting actual red boot on her friend monkey, Boots were all nods to the animation. There were a few scenes where Moner’s Dora would give that wide eyed blank stare and the scene was set up for specific reactions from other characters as if to say this is what would happen in the real world if a girl looks at you the way Dora does throughout her whole episode. And the reactions were hilarious.

If I had one complaint about this movie it would have to be Swiper the Fox. Yes, he is a big part of the Dora universe but had a CGI fox with a mask running around for some added comic relief. Swiper the Fox was in an imaginary sequence in the beginning of the movie when Dora and Diego were kids and you assumed that was all you were getting for nostalgia sake.

However, Swiper was made real as he was part of the bandit of bad guys after Dora whose main job was, you guessed it, to swipe the map. I know this was based on a kid cartoon and not to be taken serious with a bit of the unbelievable but having a talking fox walking around on his hind legs wearing a mask and acting human was a bit much. Funny but much.

As this is the tail end of 2019, I would put Dora and the Lost City of Gold as one of the best movies I have seen this year. So far. Dora did not need a map to find a fan in me. I am eagerly awaiting a follow up and will have to add this to my dvd collection.

Kenny Walker Jr

The Lion King Review and Disney’s Live Action Remakes

The new trend for Disney is to take your favorite animated movies and bring them to the screen in live action. Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin have all received the treatment. In the future we can look forward to Mulan and The Little Mermaid.

These features are met with moderate success. I never hear anyone raving about them as a must see. I myself was not impressed with Beauty and the Beast preferring the animated take over the live action. It wasn’t as magical to me in live action because some of the slight changes made it too realistic and no longer fantasy.

My favorite scene was in the opening musical number “Belle” which is way better in my opinion in the animated version. However, in Aladdin the slight change of giving Genie a love interest was well played and made sense.

Also, giving Jazmine the additional storyline of proving she could lead her country was a nice modern twist to keep the movie with the current climate of society and culture. We cannot even begin to proceed without mentioning the hype and drama certain people are having after Disney made the decision to cast a woman of color as Ariel in The Little Mermaid.

The outrage! The poor offended masses! Who knew that fictional mermaids only came in one color? Overall, it seems Disney’s attempt to bring these features to us in a different way and make the slight changes to attempt to also play this up to adults falls somewhat flat.

Which leads us to The Lion King.

We all know the story of The Lion King. Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Pumbaa and Timon were all introduced to the world in the 1994 animated box office hit. In a short time, this Disney film became a new classic. With that being said, Disney decided to take it a step further and release it as what appeared at first to be a “live action” movie in 2019.

However, it wasn’t really live action but just a CGI technique using virtual reality tools. Because this is a kid’s film then I guess that was a good idea. This way you can genetically alter the virtual reality technology so you don’t have to explain the anatomy of Simba and Mufasa. At the same time, you have the adults looking at the movie saying “Wait, that ain’t right.”

Director John Favreau let it be known that this wasn’t going to be a shot for shot remake and that there were going to be some changes made. Admittedly, there were some iconic shots that Favreau said he could not leave out. But in such an iconic movie you would think that would at least leave 90% of the film. And that’s pretty much what you get: 90% of the original movie.

The film makers added an additional 30 minutes making this feature longer than the original animated version. A lot of that additional time was spent expanding on the experiences Nala, Sarabi and the other lionesses had under Scare’s rule while some was also given to show the life Simba had with Timon and Pumbaa growing up.

The additional scene added extra insight to Scar’s story giving him a history of being jilted by Sarabi in favor of Mufasa. Except for those parts, this was basically the same movie over again. At one point while trying to be engrossed in this film knowing full well how it was going to play out, I paid close attention to the dialogue looking for something new and was not impressed or surprised to hear exactly the same thing I heard in 1994.

None of the actors stood out to me as owning their voice parts. It was like they were told to mirror the original. The stand our voice acting was Beyonce’ and, forgive me Beyonce, that’s not because her voice acting was good. It was like she was reading for an e-book. The changes that were made were not impressive.

The main reason for this was that the changes left out a lot of the humor involved in The Lion King’s original story. One funny aspect from the original was the hyenas. The comedy of the three main hyenas was left at the waist side with some of their dialogue changed in order to make them more sinister and not the brainless lackeys that they were meant to be.

Although this helped in making you feel the danger, it was totally unnecessary as we all knew the final outcome. The comedy of Timon and Pumbaa was also cut. You can tell from certain script variations that the director was trying to give Seth Rogan’s Pumbaa and Billy Eichner’s Timon some comedic leigh way with the characters, however, the concept fell flat.

Making this feature more realistic and a little darker took away from most of the comedy scenes. This was a good movie because it still had the basic story and characteristics of the original. It’s great for any young person who never experienced the original. I personally could have waited for this to come to cable or the store.

Kenny Walker Jr

DARK PHOENIX – NOT FOR COMIC BOOK FANS

If you are a fan of the real Dark Phoenix Saga that took place in Uncanny X-Men comics #129 – 138 in 1980 then this movie will disappoint you. If you are a fan of the X-Men books today or have been a fan in the past, this movie will disappoint you. If you are a fan of the X-Men movies that FOX Studios have been putting out since 2000 then you may or may not like this movie I didn’t like this movie. The box office for this movie was so bad I don’t think anyone wanted to see another Dark Phoenix movie because the first time it wasn’t that good, so we are doing this review with spoilers. Not that it matters.

At this point with these FOX Studio X-Men franchise movie, I must start off honestly. Except for Ryan Reynolds two Deadpool movies the whole thing has been a mockery of the comics. It’s not totally the actors faults in most cases. We got an awesome Wolverine from Hugh Jackman. Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy played great Professor X’s in different time periods. The same can be said for Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender about their roles as Magneto. Even though Hallie Berry and Anna Paquin weren’t the best Storm and Rogue we deserved for the beginning of the franchise.

The real trouble with the X-Men franchise has always been the writing and the scripts that were put into the film. There was never any good rhyme or reason and the flagrant use of the timeline was absurd. I’m still not sure that anyone at FOX Studios outside of Ryan Reynold’s team even read an X-Men comic. Often, the characters were not written how they were created. There were a lot of out of character moments and out of character power use. Let’s not even talk about the use of Kitty Pride’s powers to make Logan travel in time. Where did that come from?

That being said, Dark Phoenix was no different of a disappointment. Good actors being led by a poor plot and even worse script. Like all the other X-Men movies made by FOX studios, there is no connectivity to the characters. When the main character dies in a franchise you are supposed to feel it. I felt nothing. This wasn’t Avengers Endgame or even Avengers Infinity War where you felt the losses. You were connected to those characters through a good writing arch. This X-Men franchise never made that connection with its audience. Going in you must realize that this story does a weak interpretation of the comic book story.

The Dark Phoenix story follows the rise and fall of the X-Men’s Jean Grey. In the Uncanny X-Men comic book, she does go through a solar flare in space which is really the Phoenix Force. With this force in her, her powers are heightened, and she puts controls on them which are taken down with the help of the Hellfire Club and Mastermind. Once she loses control and the Phoenix force consumes her, she destroys a planet. Because of this, the Shi’ar Empire come for justice in which the X-Men must fight off a challenge. The battle ends with Jean once again controlling the Phoenix force and sacrificing herself to destroy the force before it does more wrong.

So obviously that is too much to put into a 2-hour movie, so the story needed to be condensed. Re-introducing the Hellfire Club and introducing Mastermind along with the alien Shi’ar race would not fit in that time frame. Plus, you already have an ensemble cast of X-Men that you must focus on. So, in this condensed version you still get the solar flare during a space mission. An alien race was brought in called the D’Bari which apparently didn’t need much explanation except this force inside Jean destroyed their home planet and they want to possess it to get their world back.

Magneto pulled in due to the death of Mystique and bringing with him two unknown unnamed mutants that at first give the X-Men a good fight. The movie starts with an explanation of Jean’s powers and background. It is thought that she accidentally kills her parents and Charles Xavier takes her in. Once her powers are amplified by the force than all that is taken away and the lie that she was told is revealed. Her father survived the accident but couldn’t handle taking care of her. So, the lie was that he would give her to Xavier. Her going back to confront her father is what starts the real trouble because she hurts police and kills Mystique.

In that instant, the mutants get downgraded from world heroes to the most hated people in the world. That’s one of the troubling things about this movie: such nonsensical easy plot points. One act and they go from national heroes to hunted villains. An alien race out of nowhere to explain this force with no name that they want to use to take over the Earth. The rip-offs and wasted material were frustrating to watch. I loved the appearance of Dazzler but the waste of not using the character more and in a battle scene was just disappointing. Cyclops telling Jean that the kids are calling her Phoenix and not properly naming the solar flare as the Phoenix Force made the movie seem even more worthless.

Not actually calling Magneto’s island Genosha and not using known mutant villains to accompany him was another wasted opportunity. Still trying to understand how you can justify getting rid of your resident speedster for the remainder of the movie by just tripping his speed. There was no real reason for Jean to sacrifice herself. She had already won the battle. It was pointless from the start. There were some redeeming qualities. The oldfashioned Dazzler costume and light show, while she was singing, was all you got but nostalgic. The proper use and voice for the Storm character.

No offense to Halle Berry but Alexandra Shipp was a much better Storm. There was also a scene where Nightcrawler loses it and runs through the alien enemy like a man possessed which was a good show of his powers. With a typical wrapped up ending like a 22-minute sitcom from the 70s, I’m glad this is the last that we will see of this franchise now that Disney has brought the FOX Studio property back to Marvel Studios. This will hopefully be the last bit of torture of our favorite comic book mutants that we should have to endure. I just wish a lot of these actors in this franchise had a chance to do the same thing with Marvel Studios where their talents would have been given better material and direction.

I realize my review was harsh and I’m unapologetic about that but let us know what you thought of Dark Phoenix. Comment below and let us know what you expect to improve now that the X-Men will back in the hands of Marvel Studios.

Kenny Walker Jr

GODZILLA: A MONSTER GOOSE CHASE

Godzilla, one of the most famous monsters worldwide for more than 50 years. From Asia to America, fans fill the box office to see the next iteration of Godzilla. However, this version of the King of Monsters would best be suited filling the couch of your living room. The opening scene gives the audience a brief refresher from the ending of the previous Godzilla movie. From there it seemed more like a monster version of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego than an epic monster movie.

This is a great cast, but combined their performances were lackluster. The dialogue felt empty for most of the film and forced in the rest of the scenes. Millie Bobbie Brown is the main reason I went to see the movie, as I am borderline obsessed with Stranger Things. So, the audience knows she has a wide emotional range in her acting repertoire, which was on display, yet felt flat when combined with the surrounding cast.

The monsters seemed to all have the same gray, scaly skin. Whether due to CGI budgeting or lack of creativity, it pulled away from the unique traits each monster is supposed to have. Except for Mothra, the Queen of the Monsters. The Queen of Monsters illuminated the dark theatre with a beautiful glow, or at least you knew it was supposed to be Mothra, even if the monster was no longer discernable with the lighting.

The visual effects were not a complete loss, Mothra’s introduction was a powerful scene, Godzilla’s introduction set up a few plot points and underlying movie themes, and Monster Zero stole the scene with Godzilla. After the first glimpse of each monster, they lose their aesthetic appeal.

The story lacked intrigue and was dull at each stage of the film. This dragged its claws at every point, which ruined what could have been a big twist. But even this twist lacked the punch when it was revealed, much like the first battle scene between Godzilla and Monster Zero.

As a movie fan, I tend to keep to the common courtesy of not talking or look at my phone during flicks, yet I found myself checking the time in between conversations during this Monster Goose Chase. Perhaps the final battle would have been the visual aesthetics and edge of your seat fight sequence I was hoping to see during the film, but I did not make it that far. Unless the humans revealed themselves to David Icke’s lizard people, the ending could not have saved this monster story flop.

Mike Hoff

Avengers Endgame Review: Was It Epic?

Avengers Endgame was the most anticipated movie of 2019.

This movie was in such high demand that when tickets went on sale it crashed various sites. Crashed. I went online that Tuesday, April 2nd and got kicked out trying to get seats at my local AMC theater. I was given a message that I was on a waiting list that was over an hour. I’ve never seen anything like this before. As of the writing of this article, Endgame has grossed over $400 million in domestic and over $1 billion in foreign. Beating out nearly every movie ever. Ever.

The big challenge of Endgame, however, was that if you were not lucky enough to catch an advance screening or see it when it opened on Thursday night, you had to stay away from spoilers. I know a lot of people who stayed away from social media since Thursday until they saw it over the weekend. I know people who haven’t had a chance to go yet and are still staying away from social media. All in all, most fans are not being jerks and are not giving away spoilers. But there are those people out there who just have to spoil it for those that haven’t seen it yet so be careful.

I had a co-worker who came to me and told me that someone had the nerve to walk up to him on Friday morning and totally spoil the end of the movie. To me, that would have been grounds for a fight and possibly losing my job because beating the crap out of a jerk who spoiled Endgame would be frowned upon by management. Even though most people were considerate enough not to give spoilers on social media, the one comment that stuck out in my mind was “epic”. Fans considerate enough not to give out spoilers would post on social media how they saw Endgame and didn’t want to give away spoilers but just wanted to state that the movie was epic.

Every fanboy and girl I knew on my social media hyped Endgame up as the most epic movie they have ever seen. My son called me on Saturday afternoon because he had already seen Endgame. His words to me were “Dad if Marvel said that after this they are not making another movie ever I would be ok with that …. that’s how good it was”. He stated how he, his wife and their friend that had gone with them spent the first 15 minutes after the movie in silence until his wife had asked him “are you alright?”. He said he still was trying to process. He was waiting for me to see it because he needed to talk. My son was emotional about this and I was on the other end of the phone thinking “when I go to this movie what am I going to see?”.

My anticipation grew and I started to regret the fact that I had bought a ticket for Sunday because that’s when I usually go see movies. With my schedule that’s usually the only time I have. My daughter texted me later that afternoon because she and her boyfriend were going into the 4pm show. I asked her to text me when she was done to tell me how she liked it but not give any spoilers. She did not text me until the next day when I was in the theater myself to see it. Although none of my Facebook friends who had seen it before me were inconsiderate enough to give spoilers (I have cool nerd friends on Facebook), one friend did mention that the movie made him cry.

Even though he didn’t give any details, I considered this a little bit of a spoiler. Once again, I was wondering what would I be getting into with this movie. Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning whenever I was brave enough to peep onto social media I saw the same thing: Endgame was epic. My anticipation grew even more. Sunday afternoon comes and I have my Avengers shirt on that I bought for the movie and I’m ready to go. Knowing it’s a 3-hour movie and I was told I wouldn’t want to miss a thing, I took my seat without a soda or popcorn or Twislers, which is my usual movie staple. I did not want a reason to have to go to the bathroom so much I even stopped eating an hour before I left.

As far as I was told, Endgame was epic and I didn’t want to get up and miss anything. I got to my seat just as the movie was actually starting. With a 3-hour movie, I had no need to sit through 20 minutes of commercials and trailers and being told not to text and talk during a movie. I was in a let’s get to the chase mindset. There I was. Watching Avengers: Endgame. Finding out what happens after the snap. Because, ultimately, that’s what Endgame is about: what happens after the snap. I was in my seat waiting for epic to happen.

For me, epic did not happen.

I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for that and called a hater but before you understand me too fast, I want you to know something. Avengers Endgame was the best Marvel movie I had ever seen. It was done perfectly. It was a great movie. However, it was not epic. It had epic scenes. But it was not epic. Now my point of view might be solely my fault. Between my kids and my friends on social media, I had anticipated an epic movie. I believe my expectations were maybe set a little too high. When the people who were telling me epic said epic I was expecting epic. Don’t get me wrong this was an extremely good movie with epic scenes but epic scenes do not make an epic movie.

As a friend told me today, had I seen this movie Thursday or Friday when it first came out and not Sunday then it might have been epic for me. Had I seen it before I got the epic reviews from my family and peers then it might have been epic for me. But I had seen Endgame on a Sunday after most die-hards saw it on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, and that might have tainted my view. The build-up was so much that I didn’t see epic. Avenger Endgame was a very good movie. It was an excellent movie. Avengers Endgame answered that yearlong question of what happens after Thanos’ snap. The answer did not disappoint.

After the snap in Infinity War, we wanted to know what the Avengers would do next and Endgame was the answer. It may not be the initial answer you wanted but it was an answer. Each character had a story. The focus was on who had survived the snap and how they handled being survivors. What do you do when half the population just up and disappears? The thing about Endgame was that it wasn’t just a big battle scene where you saw the survivors head on with Thanos for 3 hours. You saw an initial retaliation and vengeance for a loss that could not be imagined. You saw a grieving process when all hope was lost. You saw what happens when the hero loses. You saw the heroes pick themselves up from the ashes of defeat and dare to try again.

You saw an epic battle with the hopes that justice would prevail. But an epic battle or a few epic scenes do not make a movie epic. Endgame answered a lot of questions and perfectly tied together 22 films from over 11 years. The Russo brothers had not lost their magic for putting together an Avengers story. This was a movie well worth the year-long wait. But, as much as I loved it, I could not get myself to call it epic. The one drawback from the movie is that after all is said and done, you are still left with a few questions on the how and why. My one suggestion is to sit back and enjoy the ride and not overthink what you are seeing. Not everything is an easy explanation. Not every plot point has to be sussed out for the moviegoer to be totally satisfied.

After investing 11 years and 22 movies you have to accept the closure you get. There was no mistake in the fact that the last Avengers left were mainly the first Avengers you saw way back in that movie. You get a look at how these original Avengers deal with loss and how they are given the strength to fight back. Comic relief and action are mixed in a perfect blend to help tell the story of how our heroes came to be in the situation they are in. Great movie and a perfect ending to an 11-year saga. But not epic.

Go see Endgame or if you have seen it let us know what you think.

Kenny Walker Jr