I Bet You’re Wondering How Thor Got In This Cage

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I think I’m in a minority here, so you’re about to hear a rant.

greatly enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok. I thought it was a well made, wonderfully paced movie with some stellar performances and more than a few surprise tricks up it’s sleeve. Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchet were sublime additions to the cast. (Though I missed Natalie Portman and Jamie Alexander, not to mention Kat Dennings.) Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are fantastic as Thor and Loki, embodying these characters as they always have from minute 1. Jeff Goldblum is a delight. Idris Elba and Mark Ruffalo kill it.

Here’s what I didn’t love. I get that Guardian of The Galaxy was a colossal monster of a hit, and very unexpected, I get that Marvel Studios has never quite known how to pitch a Thor movie. Saying, “let’s make it as much like Guardians as possible,” though? I’m not sure that worked either.

The “jokey jokes” didn’t always land for me, especially in a series that I always felt had some excellent comedy in it. (The scene in the first movie where Thor demands a dog or cat big enough to ride ALONE cements there was always humor here.) The comedy that did work for me were things like Hulk claiming Thor is “Banner’s friend” rather than his. Loki’s discomfort at being in the vicinity of Hulk, as well as Thor’s test of throwing things at his brother to determine if he had corporeal form.

The larger intergalactic plot, of Thor on Sarac, while fun and cool, didn’t engage me the way that the Asgard stuff (Odin’s death, Hela’s invasion, Heimdall evacuating the city) did. That’s always been where the stuff I liked about Thor lived though. (Well, and in his relationship with Jane, which, I get, was a necessary casualty here, because Natalie Portman, the human being, didn’t want to be in the movie.)

Doesn’t mean I didn’t love Valkyrie (Seriously, Tessa Thompson ROCKS HARD!) or most of the big action set pieces. Or our requisite shirtless Hemsworth scene. I really liked it. Marvel doesn’t make bad movies, I just don’t think this one was as drop dead awesome as the rest of the internet does.

Still really good though.

Rankings!

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Battle Of The Sexes
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  6. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  7. Thor: Ragnarok
  8. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  9. The Dark Tower
  10. Cars 3
  11. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: First time seeing it on the big screen and OMG YOU GUYS! We’re so close, and it’s going to be awesome.

Black Panther: Do you wanna know what’s nice? Ryan Coogler found space for Michael B. Jordan in this movie. (Did we think he wouldn’t?) I’m not sure how to articulate how excited I am for this movie, because it’s deep in my gut.

12 Strong: Siggghhhh, I mean, I love this cast, so, there’s that. Fun that Michael Shannon gets to play a good guy. I may see it.

Movie Season, Moving Forward:

Here’s the deal y’all! I know I’ve been slack this year, it’s for a lot of reasons, but I’ve started a new day job! (This is an invariably GOOD thing. Trust me!) And I’ve got a Disney trip in just over a week! (WEE!) But, the good news is that the new day job is a lot closer to my apartment and pays me more money, so I’ll be able to close out movie season fairly strong, as the Oscar-bait movies come out. (There’s also a small independent theater walking distance from my apartment, so…yeah…)

Aless and I are trying to figure out what we’re doing for Justice League, as I’m leaving for Disney the morning after opening. We may delay by a whole week. (This is WEIRD for us, but you know, it’s DC, we didn’t even do Suicide Squad together…) Coco will for sure happen, and we’ve already got our Star Wars tickets.

 

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Stay Close To The Ground

Spider-man

Every time something new started in Spider-Man: Homecoming I thought, “Well, that’s perfect.” From the opening of Peter’s video diary showing his time in Civil War from his perspective, to the pounding drums of The Ramones “Blitzkreig Bop” over the credits (Because QUEENS! You guys, both Spider-Man and The Ramones are from Queens!) every second of Homecoming feels right.

Tom Holland is a treasure, and I feared with a whole movie to cover we met wind up with some Charlie Hunnam/Ed Westwick/Robert Pattinson “whisper to cover the British Accent” thing, but that didn’t happen and his dorky infectious youth is such a good fit for Peter Parker that even the flaws in this movie, of which I feel there are very few, are easy to miss.

Zendaya’s Michelle (MJ to her friends…a little on the “John Blake’s name is actually Robin” side there, Homecoming…) is probably my favorite character in anything in a very long time. Jacob Batalon’s Ned is as endearing a BFF as we’ve ever gotten in the MCU, and of course Robert Downey Jr., Marissa Tomei and Jon Favreau acquit themselves well. Michael Keaton’s Vulture is terrifying and compelling. (Did we expect less than that from him?)

The cameos by Hannibal Burress, Martin Starr and Donald Glover are all hilarious and kind of perfect. (Put. *CLAP* Donald. *CLAP* Glover *CLAP* In *CLAP* All *CLAP* The *CLAP* Things *CLAP*) And a last minute appearance by Gwyneth Paltrow actually had me PHYSICALLY BOUNCING OUT OF MY SEAT! (TONY AND PEPPER GOT BACK TOGETHER! AND THEN ANOTHER THING HAPPENS! NO SPOILERS!)

The action is fun and zippy and not overused, the superhero through the lens of John Hughes is equally great.

Oh, and those Captain America school videos? Further proof that Evans is the best Chris. And that post credit is further FURTHER proof. (This is mostly to shut down my brother, who insists that Pratt is the best.)

RANKINGS!

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  3. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  4. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  5. Cars 3
  6. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers:

The Dark Tower: I mean, I didn’t NOT CRY, when The Man In Black asked Roland if he told the boy everyone who walked with him died. I haven’t been breaking into sobs whenever I think about Jake Chambers lately or anything. (Also, is it just Roland and Jake in this movie? No Eddie and Susannah? I have a lot of questions…I’ll get my answers in a few weeks I guess) (I hope we get Eddie and Susannah.) (Especially Eddie.)

Dunkirk: SO SO SO SO SO GOOD. Also, I didn’t realize Kenneth Branagh was in it. Because I needed more reasons to see this movie.

Daddy’s Home 2: Aside from the perfection of casting Jon Lithgow as Will Ferrell’s father I just do not see a need for this to exist. I would much prefer if they’d done The Other Guys 2 as both Ferrell and Wahlberg were funnier in it, and it’s a better movie.

Pitch Perfect 3: Wooo, a waste of all of these women’s talents is coming out again. (My dislike of Pitch Perfect 2 is deep.)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle: GOD IT LOOKS SO GOOD!

Wonder: I don’t actually want to see this, but it does feature Daveed Diggs as an elementary school teacher, which feels right. And it made me wish Aless was with me (she’s in Italy, whatever!) because I don’t think the strangers around me appreciated my squealing of his name when he appeared on screen. (Look,  they’re lucky I didn’t shout “LAFAYETTE!” in rhythm to “Guns and Ships.”)

 

 

This Unspoken Thing

Guardians 2

Happy Movie Season You Guys!

I think this is the first “official” movie season that actually started on May The 4th.

If you’re new around here, let me explain.

Movie Season is the Blockbuster release time, between May and December. The rule of thumb is that it reaches from Marvel to Star Wars. (Previously, Marvel to Hobbit)

This year’s first Marvel Studios release was the highly anticipated Guardians Of The Galaxy: Volume 2.

One of the many things that made Guardians Of The Galaxy the delight that it was, was the surprise factor. It’s humor, it’s space opera action and that soundtrack all caught everyone off guard. Volume 2 doesn’t have that out of left field leg up, instead has the handicap of expectation. This worried me a little, thinking their might be an Iron Man 2 effect, where the loss of the surprise makes the whole thing feel sloppy.

Not the case. Rather than rehash, James Gunn has built on the foundation he placed 2 years ago. My main complaint about Guardians was always that for a team film, it is woefully unbalanced, giving priority to Star Lord and Rocket, which is fine, but shortchanges Drax and Gamora in a big way, which is a bummer, because those characters are fun, and Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldana are fantastic.

Volume 2 balances things a little bit better. The team is split up for a large chunk of the run time, placing Rocket and Groot with Guardian frenemy Yondu, and Gamora, Star Lord and Drax with her sister Nebula, Peter’s father Ego, The Living Planet, and adorable new comer Mantis.

The team relationships are well defined, and the chemistry based but “unspoken” romance between Peter Quill and Gamora is actually very touching. And there’s something to the theme of family of choice, and biological family, or structural family (In the case of Gamora and Nebula) and the ways they intersect and fight with one another.

Visually, the movie is bright, interestingly designed and of course, the soundtrack very very interesting yet again. (You’ll never thing of “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” the same way again. And it makes excellent use of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” as well as “Surrender.”)

It was also the first Marvel Movie that Aless and I could think of that quickly and breezily passed the Bechdel-Wallace test. (A scene between Gamora and Nebula where they discuss Gamora’s plan for her sister does it.) So good job!

Rankings:

  1. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2

Trailers:

Not Wonder Woman.

Dunkirk, Spider-Man, Star Wars, Pirates, yes, but not Wonder Woman.

 

Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil: Season 2: Episodes 3 & 4

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Season 2: Episode 3: “New York’s Finest”

While Season 2 in total is no where near as effective as season 1, this episode is among the best in the entire Defenders run. Frank has Matt chained to a water tower on a roof, and they talk about heroism, murder, Matt says Franks name like seven million time, “Frank, you don’t have to Frank! FRANK DON’T!” And then, after getting out, Matt takes part in The Hallway Fight 2.0.

But that basic summary really doesn’t do the conversation justice, especially not when you take fandom into consideration. There’s an ongoing conversation in fandom circles, only magnified by a certain director on the other side of the fence, about whether Superheroes should kill. And here’s that conversation, in detail, by two characters basically on opposite sides of the spectrum. Daredevil doesn’t kill, and beats him self up mentally and spiritually when he thinks about the pain he inflicts. The Punisher kills first, asks questions later, or, for the most part not at all.

“You’re one bad day away from being me,” is such a chillingly true statement, and I love it so much.

The other part of this episode is Foggy following Claire around asking her to help him find Matt and her basically being like, “I like Matt, but he’s a pain in my ass, so I’m cutting a running,” which, I can’t blame her for, but also CLAIRE! DON’T GO!

Karen decides that justice can only be served by Karen Page being nosy, so she does that and finds an x-ray of Frank Castle’s skull, with a bullet lodged in it.

Season 2: Episode 4: “Penny And Dime”

This episode is not as good as the last one, but it’s still really good, and has that epic shot of Daredevil standing in the rain on top of a church, which is pretty damn great. It also, unfortunately has the stupid, Karen and Matt rain kiss which is just. UGHHHHHH.

Anyway, Matt manages to corner Frank and Frank tells the amazing story of coming home from war to find his daughter in school. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful and awesome and I love everything about the scene, from Matt, sitting on the ground beside him, to the explanation of “one batch, two batch, penny and dime,” to now Sergeant Brett Mahoney apprehending The Punisher. YAY!

Matt, Foggy and Karen celebrate with beers and shots, and then Matt and Karen make out in the rain, but their chaste happy joy is short lived, as Matt gets home and Electra is sitting in his apartment, ready to throw things at him.

Other Stuff

  • Jon Beranthal can deliver a speech. That is all
  • Rosario Dawson is the best. That is also all.
  • I’m mean about Karen’s snooping, but it is actually well done, I just hate the relationship between Matt and Karen and wish that it didn’t happen. And her finding Frank’s house is really a cool moment.
  • Matt trying to get his priest to forgive him for shit that’s not his fault is both very sad and hilarious.
  • The Irish mobsters kill Frank’s dog, because apparently these men have not seen John Wick. Which is a shame because killing an unstoppable killers dog. Also, because John Wick is a great movie.
  • Guys! ELECTRA’S HERE!!!!

Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil: Season 2: Episodes 1 & 2

Guys! It’s time for Daredevil Season 2! AKA The Punisher is THE BEST! (Also Elektra!)

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Season 2: Episode 1: “Bang”

The premiere of season 2 is the first indication that this isn’t the same show that it was the season before. Everything’s just a little bit bigger and slicker and then there’s The Punisher. Who we don’t technically know is The Punisher yet, and we definitely don’t know is Frank Castle.

Anyway, we open with Daredevil stopping a mugging that leads him to a church. It’s bigger and more kinetic than anything we saw before, and we see Matt’s upgraded suit. Which I think is great, but I’m also a fan of the original suit, so apparently I am wrong.

Anyway, after her gets the bad guy, we see Matt and Foggy on their way to work, joking and laughing, talking about Foggy’s date the previous night, they get to the office and Nelson and Murdock is overrun with clients, none of whom can pay of course.

Karen’s busy managing the office and when the three of them go out for drinks that night, the sexual tension between her and Matt explodes. Foggy is not thrilled, but whatever. (I am also not thrilled. Mostly because I think pushing Matt and Karen together was super de super lazy)

The scene where The Punisher takes out an Irish crime family is so incredibly intense. It’s also hilarious in a weird way, and brilliantly staged. It’s so clear that the team is revelling in this new brand of violence, and the first chase between Daredevil and Punisher is exceptional and Matt getting shot in the head, the titular “bang” is even better. (These first three weeks are going to be fun!)

Season 2: Episode 2: “Dogs To A Gunfight”

Foggy and Karen are consistently my favorite not Claire parts of Daredevil, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that I actually really like this episode a lot. It’s basically the two of them maneuvering to get their client into witness protection so that The Punisher won’t get him. It’s pretty cool stuff.

Of course, there’s also Foggy dealing with the fact that Matt got SHOT IN THE GODDAMN HEAD and is still insisting that being Daredevil is necessary. The scene where Matt loses his hearing is so beautifully done and amazingly terrifying, I really enjoyed watching it again. Well, enjoyed is the wrong word, “was impressed by,” is probably better.

And that I really do love the fact that the fights between Matt and Frank, who we still don’t know is Frank, takes place sort of off screen and weirdly framed. It’s how most people see them, on the periphery of the real world.

Other Stuff

  • I must remember that there is not much Claire in this season. While everything is not as good when there’s less Claire, I understand the reasoning, she was off in Harlem filming a way better show.
  • The scene where Frank beats the crap out the guy selling child porn is so cathartic. We don’t even see the beating, but knowing it’s there is awesome.
  • I’d forgotten that the first few episodes take place during a heatwave. Such a great way to show tensions building.
  • Hey! That’s the same DA that threatened Jessica Jones.
  • Officer Brett Mahoney considers Foggy his friend now. Aw. Foggy also gets beat up by some bikers. He’s having a bit of a day.
  • Karen confronting Matt is great too. Look, I’m just saying that Karen is too good for him. Also he’s too good for her. I’m saying that this pairing is stupid and I don’t read their chemistry as romantic. Also Team Claire!

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episode 13

We’re done here. And I really do love this finale. (I actually watched it in the same run as the previous two episodes, in a bid to get ahead of things, I’ve got a big couple of weeks coming and I want to get as much done early as I can.)

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Season 1: Episode 13: “AKA Smile”

The finale, which is a very good episode in it’s own right, is now completely over run in my mind by the appearance of Claire.

I don’t know what it is, you guys, but Claire Temple is my favorite part of The Defender-verse, so anytime she’s involved it’s like nothing else matters. Not Jessica snapping Kilgrave’s neck, not Trish having a coming reckoning with her mom, not Hogarth defending Jessica to the DA, nothing, can dampen my love and deep belief that Claire is not only the most important character in the Netflix branch of the MCU, but in the MCU in total. (OK, maybe Coulson can hold a candle to her. BUT HE’S THE ONLY ONE!)

Moving on, the non-Claire portions of the episode, which are mercifully brief. Jessica and Trish make a plan to take on Kilgrave, and I really do love the headphoned, hoodied Trish fake out. It’s such a cool moment, and I love the look on Tennant’s face when he realizes that he’s been duped.

The ending itself, with Jessica realizing that she’s going to be a hero now, is another favorite, and I also love Malcolm and Claire interacting. (See how I brought that back around to Claire?)

Other Stuff:

  • Malcolm is Jessica’s Karen. Trish is her Foggy. Someday, I would like all four of these people to sit down and have coffee. Claire can arrange it. Also, I mean literally have coffee. Not in the Luke Cage sense. Maybe Trish can have them on her show, “My friends is a superhero, let’s chat!” I don’t know who from Luke’s world would be there, Misty? I guess? But she’s gonna be a cyborg at some point, and everyone else Luke cares about dies.
  • I feel like I should make some grand sweeping statement about the feminism of this show. I really did notice how few white dudes there are. (White women in abundance, and not many WOC, a valid criticism I saw early on when the show started) but I think Kilgrave might be the only white dude you see regularly. Which is pretty amazing. The show deals with rape, abuse, loss of control, asserting yourself and a hundred other issues critical to feminist thought and media that it’s almost impossible to pull out each element.
  • You see Claire and Luke’s easy chemistry birthed here, and while I do ultimately want him and Jessica to get it together, there’s something to be said for someone you just click with, over the angst and back and forth.
  • As amazing as David Tennant is, I really hope that Kilgrave’s death proves permanent. Ressurection will surely be a crucial point in The Defenders but I hope that Jessica gets to remain fairly grounded. You know, like how Iron Man solo movies remain about corporate intrigue and terrorism?

OK, so next week we dive into Daredevil season 2. Here’s hoping it holds up. (I doubt it will). I did watch that one at a slower clip to begin with, over the course of a week rather than 2 days, so, we shall see…

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones: Season 1: Episodes 11 & 12

OK everyone, we’re nearing the end of Jessica,  which means that we dive into Daredevil again. Which is actually more frightening than thinking about Kilgrave controlling people.

(Not really)

jessica-jones

Season 1: Episode 11: “AKA I’ve Got The Blues”

In the aftermath of Hope’s suicide and the attempted hanging of her friends, Jessica becomes fixated on finding Alfred, Kilgrave’s father, and well, saving him? Except she’s pretty convinced that he’s dead so mostly she’s just driving around to morgues looking for the body.

This gets interrupted by Trish and Simpson and their drama, because Simpson is crazy from his crazy trying to be Captain America pills, or whatever the hell is happening there. I barely care about this plot.

What is cool, is that we get a flashback to Jessica’s learning about her powers and the bond that she and Trish make, trying to save Trish from her mother. It’s very cool, very touching and incredibly interesting. Of course the episode ends with Kilgrave texting Jessica and telling her to go to Luke’s bar which he blows up and Luke walks out of the bar ON FIRE.

I mean, there’s lots of stuff in this episode that I like, but mostly LUKE’S BACK. (And we are 8 weeks away from revisiting Luke properly.)

Season 1: Episode 12: “AKA Take A Bloody Number” 

I love Mike Colter as Luke Cage so much, that I’m thinking about skipping Season 2 of Daredevil, just to watch Luke Cage again. I probably won’t, but you know, these things can happen. Anyway, this episode, which is all about Luke and Jessica tracking down Kilgrave (although it turns out Luke was being controlled the whole time.) is really, actually my favorite episode of the show.

Like, it feels a lot like the extrapolated the whole of Luke Cage’s milleui from this episode. There’s the man hunt, the teaming up (with Jessica, not Claire, we get Claire in the next episode! HURRAY CLAIRE!), the fight in a night club, everything’s just kind of there. Of course it also ends with an epic, emotional one on one fight between Jess and Luke, where she winds up shooting him in the head.

Meanwhile, Kilgrave is running around with his father, trying to upgrade his powers, using the stem cells from Hope’s aborted fetus (yuck) and as it turns out, succeeding, and Trish learns from her mother that there’s a connection between Jessica getting her powers and Simpson’s medical trials. So, that’s a big deal.

Other Stuff

  • Lately I feel a lot like Malcolm, with his, “They’re idiots and I’m the only asshole who doesn’t know it?” speech. I’m actually a firm believer that the only way this stupid awful world gets better is if we all take care of each other, it just feels like lately that’s a minority belief, or at least a irrelevant one.
  • I want to talk about Luke more, but it’s just going to lead down a hole of OMG Luke Cage is so good. Like so good. SO SO SO good.
  • The whole Malcolm helps Rachel get past Reuben and being mind controlled thing is nice, because I like Malcolm, but I really, really, don’t like watching Rachel.