Zombie Kill Of The Century

I love the movie Zombieland. I just like zombie movies in general, actually, and Zombieland also has other things that I like, sarcastic quips, Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone among them.

So, I knew I was going to at the very least enjoy Zombieland: Double Tap. And I did. It also includes a few other things that I really like, love triangles and Rosario Dawson. HOORAY!

Zombieland isn’t the best movie ever, but it’s a good one, so obviously it’s sequel is also not a great movie, but an adequate one. It’s fun, funny, the kills are good and it’s final set piece is reasonably impressive, for a midlevel zombie comedy.

There’s also a bunch of Elvis jokes, a dumb hippy kid who tries to convince Abigail Breslin’s Little Rock that he wrote, “Like A Rolling Stone,” which is genuinely hilarious, especially once she reveals that she was only hanging out with him to get away from her suffocating family and because he had weed. “I know who Bob Dylan is you idiot!”

Also, that final set piece? It involes Rosario Dawson running over a bunch of zombies with a monster truck.

I’m sorry, I’m human, that’s just plain wonderful.

Rankings

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. Rocketman
  5. Detective Pikachu
  6. Zombieland: Double Tap
  7. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  8. Downton Abbey
  9. Joker

Trailers

Knive’s Out: My level of hype for this movie is astronomical. It looks so so so so so so good.

Doctor Sleep: After finishing the book, I’m even more excited for this. I like that they’re making Dan and Abra’s first contact seem a little bit creepy.

Charlie’s Angels: This is going to be the gayest lady movie ever isn’t it? Whatever, I’m in for the wigs alone, but the action looks pretty sweet too and is Patrick Stewart Charlie?

The Turning: YOU GIVE ME ALL OF THE GOTHIC HORROR. ALL OF IT. We wants it. The precious. (Evil demon children. Also is this literally a modern take on The Turning Of The Screw? Because that’s awesome. I should read that. I like the James I have read…)

Bad Boys For Life: I am glad Will Smith is back. I’ve missed him. I didn’t see Aladdin and I still haven’t seen Gemini Man, so I get that my excitement may seem less than wholehearted, but it isn’t.

Countdown: No. I mean, it looks fine, just, not for me.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars Special: The Rise Of Skywalker Trailer

The Rise Of Skywalker is coming.

We’re two months out and it’s coming and we can all take deep breaths and accept that we’re going to be fine.

I mean, like humanity is going to be fine.

Me personally?

Jury’s out on my level of fine-ness.

Anyway we’ll circle back on December 21. I have my tickets for opening night. (It was an ordeal. Why is it that AMC always always has issues when Star Wars tickets come out?)

Anyway, there’s stuff here that I find intriguing. I think we’re finally going to get that glut of Force Ghosts that I’ve wanted every since JJ Abrams took the wheel. (JJ loves ghosts almost as much as he loves time travel. ) I’m here for Space Horses and Finn turning Poe’s jacket into a vest, and the probably redemption of Kylo Ren. I’m here for the death of C-3PO being the emotional lynchpin of this thing. I’m here for Lando. (But if you’ve been following me the past few months you can probably guess that.)

I’m her for Star Wars. Also, I know season 2 of Resistance has started. We’ll talk about it soon, I promise.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

So, I’m one of those people that gave a hearty shrug to The Last Jedi. I absolutely understood the movie. I got what Rian Johnson was going for, and applaud him for the attempt. Deconstruction of something as woven into the culture as Star Wars is a bold thing to swing for.

And here’s the thing with The Last Jedi, I don’t think he quite pulled it off. Which isn’t to say I don’t admire the attempt, I do. Some of the stuff, well, some of it I absolutely adore, I think it’s wonderful. I really enjoy Vice Admiral Holdo, and the way the movie plays with Luke and Leia’s connection. (Mirroring it in Kylo and Rey.) I think it’s visually stunning. I think Luke’s ultimate fate was brilliant and lovely and deeply in line with what we know of him as a man and his Jedi training.

I do think the movie tries to do too much. Insisting that we have to move forward but doing so at the expense of stories that had been built up in it’s predecessor feels arrogant. It’s also hypocritcal to say “we’re burning down the past” while transforming the more underground Resistance into the outright Rebellion of the original trilogy. (You can’t have both, Johnson!)

Some things that I didn’t like initially have grown on me. I initially didn’t love Benecio Del Toro’s DJ, who I now think is kind of delightful. (Still think he should have been Lando…but ya know…beggars and choosers.) My anger at how Poe became a more cliched “I know better” hothead this time around has cooled so I was able to see what Johnson and Isaac were actually going for with this performance. Poe’s given it all to the Resistance, he’s exhausted and frustrated. His mentor may be dying. His boyfriend (STORMPILOT LIVES!) is off on a dangerous spy mission. He has no information about how this is going to end. He snaps.

One thing that’s held up every time I’ve watched the movie is John Boyega’s performance. It’s mind blowingly charismatic and fun. Finn’s transformation from selfish survivor to team player/leader is beautiful executed. It’s the part of the movie I always liked best.

Which brings us to Kylo and Rey. I think Kylo Ren is a brilliantly rendered villain, and Adam Driver plays him well. He’s all raw emotion and easily triggered anger, with the power to back that up. It’s so different for this series. Rey is desperate here, she just wants answers. And while I’ve had so much fun in the past six years playing with “who is Rey?” theories. While I’ve always been fond of “Kenobi” as a theory, watching The Last Jedi this time, brought me around a bit to  “clone.” (I don’t think she’s a gender swapped clone of Anakin of Palpatine, but I think she might be a clone.) Her lack of answers about her past, her overall competence (almost as if she’d been programmed, like a Kamino Clone), and that scene where she sees herself reflected over and over again in a line while communing in the cave.

Not to mention the “Dark Rey” images from the Rise of Skywalker trailer.

There’s a lot going on in this movie, which is part of why I think it doesn’t work quite as well as it could. Rian Johnson is trying to do a lot here and some of it therefore comes out a little bit half baked. I’m also immensely gratified that J.J. Abrams has insisted he’s not going to walk back Johnson’s decision in The Last Jedi. He could have, but he’s happy with the status quo he’s got to work with.

We shall see in a few months how this all shakes out.

We’re still a few weeks from The Mandolorian so I’m not sure what will go in this spot quite yet. Taking suggestions!

They Don’t Care About People Like Me

There’s a moment at the end of Joker where I literally burst into uncontrollable giggles.

I was pretty sure going in I wasn’t going to enjoy the film. I hate when movies feel the need to apologize for what it is. And Joker feels like this Batman fellow sure is ridiculous and we’re sorry we have to reference him at all in this story about a murder clown, but AH, Superhero flicks are the only thing that get greenlighted anymore even though they aren’t real cinema.

Anyway, that moment is during the riot that’s being caused by Arthur Fleck, AKA Joker’s murder of talk show host Murray played by Robert DeNiro, we zoom in on a movie marquee, and it reads simply, “Zorro: The Gay Blade.” I glanced at my friend Margarita who was sitting beside me and we both shrugged and started laughing.

Sure enough, Bruce, Thomas and Martha Wayne emerged from the theater, and are forced by the crowds into an alley. One of the rioters follows them calls them out and shoots. The pearls go flying, Bruce weeps over the bodies of his parents.

Because heaven forbid we don’t see the Wayne’s die a millionth time.

Anyway, that’s just one thing about Joker which is a messy, unfocused, derivative flick, that think it’s deeper than it is, and has some showy acting that’s cool to watch but not enough to make it sing.

Believe the hype about Joaquin Phoenix here, he’s very good. The movie isn’t but his performance is quite impressive, eerie and off putting from jump, not a version of the character I’d ever come back for more from (I prefer my Joker on the zanier side of menacing) but interesting and stunning.

Amusingly the only scenes that I found remotely interesting were the ones that involved Bruce Wayne. Due to some plot stuff that barely matters because this is a garbage movie with a script that makes no sense at all, Arthur becomes convinced that Thomas Wayne is his father. (He also might be? But Unreliable Narrators abound in this flick. And not in a fun interesting Fight Club or Gatsby way.) So he shows up to Stately Wayne Manor, and does clown tricks at a baffled Bruce by the gate. (I think I said out loud, “Why doesn’t Bruce just punch him in the face?”) Eventually Alfred comes out (he is not identified as such, but he is a middle aged British man and protecting Bruce, so you know, Alfred.) and basically tells Fleck to take a hike and also that he’s a deranged weirdo. Arthur doesn’t like that at all, so he later stalks Thomas to a gala fundraiser to watch Modern Times which you should definitely watch instead of this movie because it is excellent. When Arthur confronts him, Thomas punches him in the face, which is of course, the start of a wonderful family tradition. (I don’t know of a specific instance, but I’m sure Damian and Helena have both punched Joker in the face several times.

Anyway, in summary, movie bad, Phoenix, pretty great in it, Batman parts, ridiculously hamfisted and deeply enjoyable if you are like me, and will take your Batman content wherever it is offered. (I was also the only person on planet earth who stopped watching Gotham because, “I would like this show to focus on preteen Bruce Wayne staring into the middle distance.”)

Rankings

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. Rocketman
  5. Detective Pikachu
  6. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  7. Downton Abbey
  8. Joker

Trailers:

My disappointment at Birds Of Prey not being here was quite large.

The Rise Of Skywalker: That John Williams music is basically an emotional grenade for me. My God, I can’t believe how soon this is coming up.

Doctor Sleep: I swear I’m going to read and review the book soon. The movie looks excellent though, and I love Ewan.

Richard Jewell: I remember the bombings (We were in Atlanta for the games) but I don’t remember any of this. (Being 9, I didn’t really follow the story, just was glad that my family didn’t get blown up.) This looks interesting though.

 

 

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Last Friday night I sauteed a chicken breast, and boiled some spaghetti, popped a bottle of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and settled in to watch The Force Awakens for the first time in quite a while.

I mentioned the meal because I was so excited to watch the movie again and I wanted to breath it in and fall in love all over again. I was going on a date with Star Wars. 

I fell in love all over again. I really love this movie. I can see where the criticisms come from (though people criticizing a franchise that’s always been about remixing tropes and archetypes for doing it again feels like a reach…) but I can’t help but love it.

So much of that love belongs to Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, who are both so unfathomably wonderful. Rey and Finn aren’t particularly deep characters on the page. They are, as Luke, Han and Leia before them, archetypes, two searching orphans looking for home and belonging, and they find it in each other.

This would be wooden and dull and frightening if it were given to two actors with less charisma and less chemistry. Daisy and John click well together, so well, in fact, that they’re instantly connected, but they feel like family, not lovers, which is rare in a Hollywood blockbuster, and so so worth celebrating.

And then there’s the Kylo Ren issue. I think that Kylo is a pretty good villain, if pale in comparison to Darth Vader, but that’s kind of an impossible standard and is also the point of Kylo Ren. He’s not supposed to measure up, but he’s trying desparately to get there. The pressure of being from the greatest family in the galaxy broke him, and he reached for quickest connection to that legacy. It’s reiterated over and over again in Star Wars that the Dark Side is powerful and it’s quick. The light side requires patience discipline and letting go, allowing The Force to do the work. Ben Solo lost that battle because of the weight of expectation placed on his shoulders so he gripped to quick easy power.

THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT.

And, I saved it for last, you guys, I promised I wouldn’t spend this whole era dwelling on Poe Dameron, so I’m going to put it up here, and leave it at this. I am in awe of this character, who was shaped largely because of the actor they wanted playing him. (Oscar Isaac said he’d do it but not if he died.) Who became a focal point of the series because he was popular, and who models a kind of dedication and joy rarely seen in this trope of character. The hotshot pilot is supposed to be cocky, obnoxious, and out for himself, not quietly confident, deeply dedicated to his cause, and kind beyond reason. You keep waiting for Poe to be a dick. And then he isn’t.

I love Poe.

Alright, next week we talk about The Last Jedi, which should be great because no one on the internet ever talks about The Last Jedi right? We’re wading into new territory.

 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…GULP.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Resistance Season 1

One of the best things that J.J. Abrams did for Star Wars was make Poe Dameron as distinct from Han Solo as possible.

I’m going to try my best, moving into this era to not focus all of my analysis on Poe, I mean that. But it will be hard, because the only other character I’ve connected with this quickly and this completely was Blair Waldorf. (They have nothing in common except I love them both…)

I want to get this out of the way. Superficiallly, Poe and Han have a lot in common. They’re charismatic, confident have a certain anti authoritarian streak and then there’s the leather jackets. But Poe has a different heart than Han, he never even tries to be mercenary.

But part of what’s fun about Resistance is that it’s as enamored of Poe as I am, which might explain while I was immediately on board with the show’s main protagonist Kazudo Xiono, a New Republic Naval Pilot and son of a senator who’s saved by Poe and then immediately recruited to be a spy against the First Order.

Well, recruited is the wrong word. The situation goes as follows (A Summary)

Kaz: You’re Poe Dameron!
Poe: (Chuckles) You bet I am kid. The Resistance needs you! Wanna be a spy?
Kaz: You’re sooooo cool.
Poe: That’s a yes! Let’s go!

Kaz is a terrifically awful spy, but he’s a good pilot, and a good person, so he does well enough making friends and gaining the trust of the people around him on The Colossus, a refueling station on a sea planet. This includes a retired rebellion pilot, and his two teenage proteges.

The voice cast is delightful. All talented, and I had an immediate, “Oh, no, I love him,” reaction to Kaz as well. I have a soft spot for protagonists who are constantly in over their heads and that’s something that Kaz has in spades.

What’s also deeply fun and creative about Resistance is when it’s set, which quite literally the days leading up to The Force Awakens, so the First Order’s ascendance, the Resistance getting it’s act together has a ticking clock to it, which gives the show a lot in common with Rogue One actually. That’s about all it has in common with Rogue One but that’s there.

The finale bumps up exactly with the climax of Awakens, and what’s going on on The Colossus while Rey, Poe and Finn are storming Star Killer Base.

Season 2 begins next week. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for this gang. (The teaser shows us Kylo Ren, which is fun, but I want more than anything for Kaz to meet Finn.)

Which we will talk about next week. I genuinely can’t wait to watch The Force Awakens again, and to write about it again. It’s the movie that got me excited about Star Wars to begin with. I’d always loved it, but The Force Awakens was like that moment where the nerdy girl next door took her glasses off and I realized she was the one for me all along.

 

Why Do We Go On With It All?

So, I’ve been lax this movie season. But if you thought I wasn’t lazily sauntering towards Downton Abbey think again.

There’s no rush at Downton, where it feels like time has stopped. It’s been two years but nothing much has changed, Anna has a fab new hairdo, Tom’s lost some weight, but Daisy and Andy are still downstairs, Moseley and Shaw are still at vague flirting and Thomas is still cranky and Mary is still running things.

Of course everything gets upended when the King and Queen come to visit, and the usual beats are hit. Edith has a woe is me crisis of a minor personal variety (She’s pregnant! But Bertie is being asked to go on a Colonial Tour with The Prince of Wales to model good family man behavior. Me to my mom, “Well we know that didn’t work.”) Anna gets involved with some criminal activity. (No, Little Johnny Bates is not arrested for murder. More’s the pity. Then at least something would have happened.) Thomas Barrow befriends (and more?) the king’s valet, winds up arrested in a bar raid in York, and Tom and Mary foil a plot to assassinate the king. (Remember early Tom, back when he was joining Sien Fien and burning down Anglo-Irish castles? Now he’s ratting defecting British Intelligence officers out to the crown? The part of me that loves the slow silliness of British period pieces is thrilled, the part of me who’s family left Ireland around the time this particular one is set, uh, finds it hard to stomach.)

There’s plenty of the stuff that made Downton Abbey the show, fun here. (The clothes, Isobel and The Dowager Countess trading barbs, Carson and Mrs. Hughes doing their thing.) There’s just not enough of what made it great. I rewatched the series to get ready for this movie, and while it was always a big glossy soap opera it at least had something of a human heart. That heart is gone here, which makes the whole thing feel shallow and a bit silly.

It’s all damn pretty though. My god, Highclere Castle on the big screen is worth the whole endeavor, followed closely by some of the clothes. (Michelle Dockery dons a red leather coat that’s positively swoon worthy and the gown she wears to the royal ball is worth the price of admission.) But this isn’t a good movie. It wouldn’t even be a particularly good episode of the show. (For God’s sake man, Robert doesn’t even comment about how we’re living in a changing world and old chap, we must change with it! Not ONCE!)

Rankings:

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. Rocketman
  5. Detective Pikachu
  6. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  7. Downton Abbey

Trailers

What the hell is that fireman movie with Jon Cena, Keegan Michael Key and John Leguizamo and some kids? I love those three men and would like a GOOD movie with them please!

Harriet – I look forward to weeping profusely at this, which looks really wonderful. Even if I feel deeply attacked by a movie starring Cynthia Orivo and Leslie Odom Jr. that isn’t a musical.

Last Christmas – Shut up and take my money! Seriously I can’t with how adorable this movie looks. And I agree, she is most definitely going to be dead by the end. Or he’s a ghost or angel. There’s something supernatural going on with that one.

Dark Waters – We’re heading into the Oscar Pursuit Career Stage for Ruffalo and I am HERE.FOR.IT.

Ford V Ferrari – Christian Bale using his real accent! Matt Damon as a scheming smart guy! Race cars! Sciencing the shit out of things! I can’t wait to see this.