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

SHAZAM: The Surprise Hit

I like surprises and I like proving people wrong. With SHAZAM! I got both a surprise and I proved people were wrong. Whenever I talked about movies I wanted to see in 2019, I always got the side eye when I mentioned I wanted to see Shazam. I would get comments like “You’re on your own”, “I’m not seeing that”, and “that looks stupid”. It seemed that no one I knew wanted to see this movie except for me. Everyone was trashing it. I even started to doubt whether I should go see it. Lucky for me I don’t mind riding alone and I saw Shazam. There were a few reasons that no one wanted to see Shazam. First, the trailers had turned a lot of people off to the movie.

The trailer showed the jokes and the light-hearted side of Shazam. A lot of the trailers showed kids joking around or Zachary Levi dressed as the hero in funny scenes. Nothing looked serious about this movie in a time where people are serious about their comic book movies. Then there is the fact that this is a DC Universe movie. Wonder Woman was moderately good and Aquaman was awesome but Warner Bros. is not known for producing good superhero movies based on comics. They tend to have a take on the characters that does not include using too much source material and making things their own. They have often missed the mark in their depictions of these characters.

This time they got it right.

The reason the trailers showed a light-hearted superhero movie, has a lot to do with the fact that Shazam is a light-hearted hero. Shazam is not gritty and dark. Shazam is light and fun. One of his nicknames that Dr Sivan calls him in the comics is The Big Red Cheese because he’s cheesy. Shazam is the story of a 15-year-old orphan, Billy Batson, who has bestowed the power of Shazam from the old wizard Shazam. When Billy speaks the wizards name, he becomes the hero Shazam and the form of Shazam is no longer a 15-year-old kid but of a grown man. However, even with the body of a grown man Shaam still has the mind of a 15-year-old boy.

So, you see where there is levity and humor in the story of Shazam. This premise of the story asks the question of what a kid would do if he had the ability to become an adult. The answers in this movie were quite hilarious. Zachary Levi totally pulls off the what if the movie Big was about a superhero. There is even a scene in the movie that pays homage to Big. When the transitions are made from Asher Angels Billy Batson to Zachary Levi’s Shazam they are done with believable ease. There is no awkward time in the movie where you would think that you had two separate actors. They truly came together to form one character and it was brilliant.

Shazam also told a story of family. It was about a boy who was orphaned and was in constant search for his real mother. He went from foster home to foster home always running away to find his real mother. The perception in his mind is that they would find each other and live happily ever after. Shazam is a coming of age story. This is a story on how the boy becomes a hero. Given great power and instant adulthood can be intoxicating to a young man and this is a story that shows a kid dealing with this to learn an important lesson. As he starts to understand more of the gift given to him with his new best friend at his side, he slowly starts to open his heart and let people in.

No good superhero movie is worth its ticket prices without a good villain. Dr Sivana is Shazam’s oldest backstory and an understanding of why he is the way he is. Mark Strong does an excellent job of playing this obsessed villain who wants to rule the world with magic. His reasoning is justified and you might even cheer for him at some point then you remember: this is the bad guy. One of the surprises in Shazam was the heartlessness of the villain. This is where the trailers were a little misleading. Dr Sivana was cruel and ruthless and this was not something that was portrayed in the trailer because you didn’t see too much of Mark Strong’s character in the trailers.

The villainy of Dr Sivana evened out the light parts of the movie and gave a legitimate fear for the hero. Just like any superhero, Shazam also had a sidekick through most of the movie. Billy Batson had been assigned a new foster home and met Freddie Freeman played by Jack Dylan Grazer. The Freddie character was a crippled foster kid who befriends Billy and helps him figure out this hero thing. Freddie serves as both comic relief and moral compass. Because of Freddie’s tenacity, Billy eventually lets his walls down to Freddie and the rest of his new foster family to accept them into his heart’

The only problem with this movie is that it is predictable. I’m not sure if that’s because I have been reading the source material on Shazam since I was 10 years old or because the script was transparent. However, in this case, predictable wasn’t a bad thing. You saw where this movie was going but the ride to get there was worth it. After I checked this movie out, I went back to all the naysayers and told them how good Shazam was. They all said that they had heard nothing but good things about it and will go see it. I couldn’t help but say I told you so.

So here is my review of a good movie which pleasantly surprised me and proved that I was right.

I’m good until the next one.

Kenny Walker Jr

“Us”…the atypical family movie

As a moviegoer, there are times when I truly desire the arrival of an upcoming film. Recently, despite being a die-hard Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, I bypassed Captain Marvel and patiently awaited the arrival of Us. Us is the sophomore film from writer, director, and producer Jordan Peele. The film, starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, and Elizabeth Moss, concerns a family who must fight against their doppelgangers in order to survive the latter’s nefarious intentions.

In many ways, the film asks, through its title and story, “who, and what, are we really.” Though there was a mild complaint (discussed later), I enjoyed the movie and its overall premise and execution. The characters are not “over the top” as in they are relatable. The two primary parents, Nyong’o and Duke, try to understand each other while balancing trying to understand their children, Joseph and Alex, with an additional backstory concerning a key incident in Nyong’o’s character’s childhood.

The aforementioned incident is a central factor throughout the movie and is an important factor in the film’s climax. This in concert with the flow of the story and how Peele presents each growing aspect of the situation allows the story to transition from a personal fight to an implied global scale as the film progresses. In the end, the audience is left with a “holy sh*t” effect that carries to the story’s conclusion.

Additionally, there is the “family forced survival” trope present seen previously in films such as Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes where in the members of the family must revert to their more primal methods in order to survive the ordeal. However, Peele, perhaps through his comical background, takes a lighter tone in how the family deals with their more violent actions.

As stated before, my ONLY personal complaint (mild spoiler) is explaining the origins of the doppelgangers. Not much, if any, room is given into explaining how they came to be or the circumstances in which they come to exist. From my personal view, there are two schools of thought. The first involves a goof in writing. There have been several films, especially in horror, where the ABSOLUTE answer is never given. Often in retrospect, one can attribute this to a misstep in executing the story.

In terms, if Us and Peele’s storytelling ability, one can argue that he either wants to leave the audience in limbo or wishes for the audience to come up with their own conclusion, which leads to the second school of thought, the unknown terror. The unknown terror is simply, if it cannot be explained, then its much scarier than to understand it. The best previous film example is Halloween in that you know Michael Myers is killing and you know he can’t be stopped; however, you do not know the why’s and how’s of how he came to this point. I personally went with the second school as it intensified the fear of the scenario. However, still, a hole that could sink the proverbial ship.

In all, Us was a thoroughly enjoyable film. Some complaints about the movie, apart from mine, have revolved around the anticipation of the audience wishing to see another Get Out type of film. The fact that Us is not like its sister film shows, in my opinion, the progression of Jordan Peele as a writer and director. No writer or director, worth their salt, will make a carbon copy of a prior film. If they do it can show the director distaste for possibly being forced or restricted when trying to create a new story (a la John Carpenter with Escape from LA). Us is Peele’s progression as a storyteller, and honestly, I expect newer and similarly good films from him in the future…and let’s face it, they’re letting him do The Twilight Zone so he’s going somewhere. Thus, get out, no pun intended, and go see Us because it’s definitely worth it.

James Hales

Captain Marvel: The First Marvel Studios Female Lead

Spoiler Alerts for Captain Marvel

We finally have a female lead superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Awesome. I realize that we normally do spoiler-free reviews but, in this case, it was hard to do without giving this movie a fair review and letting you know what I thought. There is too much going on and its relation to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m going to start with the elephant in the room. You want to know whether I liked it or not. Yes, I liked it. Truth be told it wasn’t’ the best Marvel movie but it was good. It did what it was supposed to do. But let’s break this down a little bit

Watching Captain Marvel reminded me of watching the movie Solo from the Star Wars franchise. It’s a prequel to the franchise that must tell a story yet fit into what was already done. Like Solo, this was a good movie however it was weighed down by obligations it had to make to the whole franchise story that has already been told and still needs to be told. We’ll do a Star Wars story in the future but now we are talking about Captain Marvel. So, this story takes place after Captain America: First Avenger but before Iron Man and after Peter Quill got kidnapped to space. The year is 1995.

Captain Marvel told a story of how Air Force pilot Carol Danvers received her powers and became Captain Marvel. It was a coming of age story of a woman who was deceived and commanded control of her life from her oppressors who had lied to her about who she was for over 6 years. It’s a classic and somewhat predictable story of deceit and lies. You know where this movie is going while watching but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. It was good for what it needed to do. This movie’s sole purpose was to introduce Captain Marvel and give her a place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and to fill in some gaps for the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. For that purpose, this movie did exactly that.

In the MCU, Carol Danvers had a best friend in the Air Force named Maria Rambeau who, because they were women in the ’90s was not allowed to do anything but test airplanes for the service. During this time, Carol befriended an Air Force scientist named Wendy Lawson who was developing a new plane for the Air Force. So, Carol thought. Lawson was a Kree scientist named Mar-Vel who came to Earth to help Skrull refugees. The Kree and the Skrulls were alien races at war. After a test flight went bad in an experimental plane made by Lawson the two crashed because the Kree attacked looking for Mar-Vel.

When the plane explodes, Danvers gets powers from the energies that made the plane special and the Kree took her unconscious body and implanted false memories. This was to get her to fight for them. Then 6 years later a Kree mission goes wrong and Carol is kidnapped by the Skrulls and interrogated and eventually escapes and ends up back on Earth. She meets Nick Fury, gets her memory back and fights against the Kree who are really the bad guys in this story. She gains her freedom from the Kree, helps the Skrulls and becomes Captain Marvel. Simple story but theres more. So much more.

This story needs to tie in with the rest of the MCU to serve as a prequel to the next Avengers movie, Endgame. To do this the writers go to the one thing that has been a constant on Earth since Captain America: First Avenger: the tesseract. The tesseract is the glue that holds all the MCU stories together. The tesseract is what was harnessed to power the ship that Lawson and Danvers flew during their fateful crash. The energy from the engine of that device is what gave Carol Danvers powers. This is the same tesseract that was in Captain America: First Avenger and Marvel’s Avengers. This movie shows what happened to the tesseract between those two movies and how because of the tesseract and Captain Marvel, Nick Fury came up with the Avengers Initiative.

The Good

One of the good parts of Captain Marvel is the buddy cop movie that you didn’t really see coming, Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury and Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel had chemistry that carried this movie much further than it should have. In Captain Marvel, we get a much younger Nick Fury with two eyes. He’s not top cop but on his way. This younger Nick Fury is not so jaded and secretive as the one we are used to seeing. This Nick Fury has more levity. This levity does not take away from the effectiveness of the character. He is still formidable in combat and is every bit the hero at times where Captain Marvel is busy elsewhere.

Another good is the display of the powers of Captain Marvel. One of my concerns was being able to show such a powerful being and relate her to the big screen. At first, her powers were hampered by a Kree device but once she was able to fight back against that she was able to realize her full potential. In comics Captain Marvel is one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy and this was clearly shown. The special effects were well worth the wait. Another good was the relationship with Carol Danvers best friend, Marie Rambeau played by Lashana Lynch.

Once again, the chemistry between the actresses sold the story. You believed that these were the best of friends. Added with Akira Akbar who played Marie’s daughter who called Carol her Aunt, this became a solid back story. But Monica Rambeau was not just a character thrown in for cuteness. In a possible future of the MCU, this little girl will grow to be the next wave of superheroes. In comics, this character is the first woman to take the mantle of Captain Marvel debuting in Amazing Spiderman Annual #16 in 1982. Hopefully, we see a grown-up Monica become the hero she was destined to be

The Not So Good

As an old school comic fan, I was looking for the wink. You see, in comics before Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel, she had other identities. In comics, she did get her powers from an explosion however she first called herself Ms. Marvel. She had a specific custom that I thought deserved a wink. I could understand where the Ms. Marvel thing might confuse some because there is a new younger hero calling herself Ms. Marvel in comics. However, her costume isn’t the same and nod would not have killed the movie. I was disappointed in the Stan Lee cameo. Marvel did an awesome job of dedicating the Marvel opening montage a tribute to Stan Lee that was extremely cool and I can’t see a fan not liking that opening. But then came the much-awaited cameo.

Since Lee passed away in 2018, it had been public knowledge that he had filmed some of his fan-favorite cameos for at least Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame but this cameo, compared to others of the past was weak. There was barely a speaking part for Stan the Man, just a smile at our heroine. This was cleared up for me by watching a YouTube video by Kevin Smith. The director and actor who had close ties to Lee was told ahead of the movie release by producer Kevin Feige about the cameo. Feige had told Smith that this cameo was centered around Mallrats, a film made by Smith in 1995 in which Lee appeared.

The scene is Lee rehearsing his lines when our hero comes across him and suspects that he might be a Skrull. Now if you listen really close you hear Lee repeating lines, he must learn for the movie Mallrats and when he is approached, he just smiles. Apparently, this cameo was filmed a few months before his death and his health was not good enough for his voice to sound strong enough. Feige had called Smith to not only tell him about the cameo in relation to him but to ask if there was any audio of Lee saying the line. Lee doesn’t speak in Captain Marvel, what you are hearing is audio from 1995. In any event, Smith was honored and emotional about this cameo for obvious reasons. Hearing this story also made me rethink that this was a weak cameo.

The cat. I had a problem with the cat. For a plot point to hold a bit of significance you introduce this character out of nowhere and the only thing I could think is “where is the cat now?”. It was established that this was an alien cat so we can’t expect it to have the same life span as an Earth cat. This was a loose plot device kind of like Han Solo’s love interest in Solo. Where has she been all this time? This is one of the things that correlated these movies for me and is the problem when you insert a prequel that takes place between movies. It’s hard to insert plot points that were never seen before that has relevance on the whole storyline.

Overall

Overall, I think this is a good movie which adds further to the MCU. The sometimes weak and transparent plot was saved by the actors and the chemistry they were able to convey. With Captain Marvel you can tell a lot of other stories, one specifically where has she been all this time. This was a great story to lead into the much-anticipated Avengers: Endgame. Necessary because it all points to Captain Marvel being a huge factor in saving the day and defeating Thanos. So, here’s to hoping there is a bigger pay off to this movie in Avengers: Endgame.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think of Captain Marvel.

Kenny Walker Jr