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  1. After logging into that site after God-knows-how-fucking-long it's been since the last time I went there and wanting to check all the old pm's I've had interacted with Ultraguy in and out of curiosity I feel the need to inquire... what the fuck happened to the private message inbox itself?

    First, the stupid dumb merger between Screwattack and Rooster Teeth purges all the old pre-2016 messages and posts. And now, every single private message I've sent and received AFTER 2016?

    Did something drastically changed while I wasn't looking and after taking my eyes off that site for over a year?

    Bum-ass, how retarded.
  2. Martial arts have been a popular mainstay in Hollywood film culture for decades. And if there was any cinematic series that has truly encapsulated and immortalized the legacy of a historical figure who has mastered the Chinese art of Wing Chun and inspired countless aspiring practitioners, the best, it would indubitably be none other than Wilson Yip's Ip Man films starring our man Donnie Yen. With no need for any prior introductions to martial arts fanboys and nerds, Ip Man was the very man who was responsible for having trained and groomed the most famous martial artist in modern history, Bruce Lee. For over ten years, Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen have both given us all a great journey through the past to view the glorious history and evolution of Ip Man's martial arts career and exploits as well as the rise of Bruce Lee that propelled them both from the lives of average nobodies to international fame and stardom. After Donnie Yen has waded through so many grand battles with a rogue gallery of ferocious opponents, it all finally comes to an end with this final sequel documenting Ip Man's travels to the United States where he learns the true meaning of care, solidarity, and humility in a cruel new world entangled with bitter racism and prejudice in the 1960's. I had quite a tremendous amount of expectations built up for this fourth (or technically fifth, if Master Z counts) installment since the first trailer was released over half a year ago and I speculated as to what type of story Ip Man could possibly be depicted in a setting outside of his native Foshan or Hong Kong. Upon seeing Ip Man 4, although my impressions got off to a fine start, I honestly felt kinda disappointed with this film, particularly in regards to all its combat scenes (especially involving Ip Man's) falling pretty short of my expectations in some certain aspects. For some reason, the fight scenes for all their elaborate choreography both felt and seemed like they lacked much of the same sophisticated energy, beauty, depth, power, and complexity that saw more prevalent in the first three films. The First Act gives us the first glimpse of Bruce Lee's beginning to his rise of fame with a casual Ip Man looking on as he remembers a month ago that he has contracted cancer before going abroad. The main plot of the film focuses on Ip Man's trip venture to America where he attempts to search a new school for his impetuous son to enroll in by seeking aid from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (of which Master Wan is a leader of) and there he finds his ex-pupil Bruce Lee as he opens up a new martial arts school drawing attention and ire from other rival martial artists (the Karateka) as well as the US Immigration and Naturalization Services. Master Wan and the other Chinese martial art masters at the Chinese Benevolent Association all seem to have a very personal beef and issue with Bruce Lee for attempting to open up the teachings of Chinese martial arts to non-Chinese Americans and to publish all that knowledge of their martial arts in English. And the movie all instantly disseminates into one big lengthy aesop about deeply ingrained historical racism, discrimination, and prejudice against Chinese immigrants in America. And the height of all the racism portrayed in Ip Man 4 is first reflected in the scene where Master Wan's daughter, Yonah, is bullied by a mean domineering white classmate who grew envious of her appraisal in the cheerleading team, Becky, and her friends after delivering a well-spoken lecture to her about America's immigration history to which Ip Man comes to her rescue and it's no coincidence that the writers would make her character the daughter of a xenophobic father that also happens to be an officer from the US Immigration and Naturalization Service that seeks the dissolution of Chinatown and the deportation of all the ethnic Chinese inhabitants from his country as well as the utter unapologetic skepticism and rejection expressed over the value and merits of Chinese Martial Arts and its proposal of incorporation into US Marine training by a stereotypically racist Gunnery Sergeant, Barton Geddes, and his second-in-command Karate instructor, Colin Flater. This film does a great deal in highlighting the traditional racism and lack of equal rights that the Chinese diaspora had to deal with when it came to the power dynamics exhibited by the white majority over the non-white minorities at the time of the setting. Ip Man and his pals are forced to confront so many brutal harsh realities as they struggle with both solidarity and integration in the face of new challenges and forces that seek to disrupt their lives in the new world. But what that said, I do feel like the portrayal of antagonists in typical Ip Man fashion and their common theme of personifying anti-Chinese racism didn't feel as nuanced or subtle as the previous entries and I do personally think that the way the producer of the film depicted the main antagonists, Barton Geddes, and Colin Flater to be unambiguously bigoted and maniacal to everyone but themselves was done in an extremely black and white manner (similar to Twister) leaving no room for complexities in their character. In fact, watching those two characters in action express every inch of their racism and bigotry to the audience at unrestrained levels almost felt comedic in a way that they might as well as be a strawman villain from Star Wars or any old Saturday Morning cartoon. Master Wan felt like an alright character with nothing too special other than being this sequel's equivalent to Master Hung or Cheung Tin Chi. The battle with Colin Flater felt like something of a silly hilarious bout to warm us up for the final battle, but at least I actually found Colin's character to be more interesting than Twister at least. Ip Man 4 also excels in portraying the more dramatic and emotional side of Ip Man and the crew compared to the previous movies, but action-wise, it felt like pretty mediocre in comparison, being more of a repeat of a Ip Man 2, with the nationalities and the settings of the villains switched, but I found the whole concept of Wing Chun vs Karate to be one of the most fun and enlightening aspect of the movie. What the movie lacked in overall martial arts choreography and pure action, it made up for in historical significance, moral lessons of socio-cultural clashes, and emotional conflict. And Bruce Lee's battle and the final battle with Barton Geddes wasn't a really bad way to end the Ip Man saga, though it could have been done more elaborately. It was a pretty decent conclusion overall and it was the best movie to start off the new decade with.

    I will give this movie a score of 4.0 out of 5.
  3. "No one's every really gone" is a bold statement uttered by Luke Skywalker that I believe we can all agree with in a sense. As the year and the entire decade of the New Tens finally draws closer to its edge, what can be a movie out there that's more perfect and appropriate to review in honor of concluding 2019 than with Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker?

    For a simple preface, this sequel took everything that went amiss or didn't quite go too right with the Last Jedi and rectified them, making them better in every conceivable way. It gave all the necessary ingredients you could ask for to end the trilogy on such a positive note. From start to finish, Rise of the Skywalker has demonstrated plenty of hypetastic action, battles, and drama to keep my attention in line long enough for me to follow the movie closely in excitement. It does a fantastic job of picking up where both Rey and Ren left off. The grandiose resurrection of Emperor Palpatine back into the fold of the war between the Jedi and Sith seems to be the prevalent theme and hype for RotS and I do think it works pretty well as a nice backdrop for our hero's source of conflict and opposition. Just when you believe that an evil figurehead like Palpatine was gone for good, only to return right in your face for one more time, it really succeeds in filling in the huge void left by Snoke being written off with a premature death by a deceptive Kylo Ren in the Last Jedi. And considering an even bigger narrative twist that Snoke was never the most threatening kid on the block and is in fact a subordinate puppet to the likes of an established villain like Palpatine, serving as the true poster boy for the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, it makes all the more actual sense in retrospective reexamination. And the incentive to push both Rey and Ren into confronting themselves for their own demons really drives the course and development of their character arcs to their greatest heights and to a finishing end. It was so breathtaking to see both Rey and Kylo Ren's relationship explored and expanded in higher detail than in the first two installments, and having them gradually transform from bitter and hostile adversaries to pretty confused rivals to finally into unlikely allies who share more in common than they thought to the point of forging a spiritual alliance into the Force as a prophesized "Dyad" waas not a bad way to transition things and seeing both Luke and Leia serve as a bastion of guidance and inspiration for both Rey and Ren was an important piece to the puzzle as well. What really made Rise of the Skywalker so emotionally touching and fascinating were all the surprise twists that awaited viewers in store, such as General Hux actually betraying the First Order to provide secret intel for the Resistance in the last minute and revealing to Finn, Poe, and Chewbecca that he was a spy who desired to see Kylo Ren fall out of his bitter rivalry with him, General Leia being revealed to have Jedi training after the events of Return of the Jedi and eventually passing a lightsaber of her own to Rey, the aforementioned fact that Snoke was a creation of Palpatine to pull Ren to the Dark Side, Kylo Ren somehow feeling remorse for his actions and redeeming himself by allying with Rey against Palpatine, and most of all the disturbing revelation from Kylo Ren's words that Rey is actually the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine himself effectively sharing the same bloodline and that it was the Sith lord himself who murdered her parents as a child on Jakku. All of these were the major hallmarks that effectively fleshed out the essence of Rise of the Skywalker to the finest points in their plot, character, dialogue, etc. The other main characters Finn, Poe Dameron, and Chewbacca trying to sneak into the First Order's ships was also a pretty fine subplot along with old faces like Lando Calrissian. One of the strongest points of this finale was its decision it include a complete ensemble cast consisting of Mark Hamill, a posthumous Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, and Ian McDiarmid. Along with so many other savory cameos from the Original trilogy (which I have not finished catching up with yet myself) and new characters like Zorii Bliss from the scene on Kijimi where they had to wipe C3PO's memory in order to translate the Sith language were also pretty decent. Although I have to admit that the character and plot pacing went at a pretty slow speed for its runtime, all the epicness of so many pivotal moments in this film being displayed and saturated to its fullest scale with amazing amounts of visual effects compensates for all of it and the cast performance is pretty top-notch, especially with Harrison Ford's surprise cameo as Kylo Ren's returning memory of the deceased Han Solo. Everything from Rey's duel with Ren aboard a destroyed Second Death Star to Rey confronting her own Dark Side to the setting of the final battle on Exegol with Ren and Rey searching out Palpatine for one last altercation with all the Sith Eternals to Ren and Rey's final battle against Emperor Palpatine with Rey pulling off one last surprise move with the amalgamated might of every Jedi of the past era to destroy a fully powered Palpatine to Kylo Ren reclaiming his identity as "Ben Solo" and performing his last act of redemption by sacrificing himself for Rey pretty much wrapped everything up quite well and I can assure everyone when I say that there is absolutely no better conclusion to end a cinematic trilogy than with that final climactic battle between the entirety of the Sith and the Jedi symbolized and represented by both Palpatine and Rey respectively and as a result, you couldn't ask for a greater movie to end "The New Tens" with than with Rise of the Skywalker. This third and final installment easily stands out as the best one in the entire Sequel trilogy by far after The Force Awaken's great entrance and the Last Jedi's mild disappointment. In summarize, it's a Star Wars movie you will certainly be left with no regrets seeing, even for a second time and it is one that will no doubt spawn a legacy that will cement a lasting impression upon today's cinematic culture well beyond this decade.

    I will definitely give this movie a rating of 4.9 out of 5 or a 9.9 out of 10 (whichever grading system you prefer).

    And that will be the last movie review of the decade lol.
  4. (It took me quite a considerably long length of time to write this review for some reason)

    Once upon a time, a man named James Cameron breathed life into a Hollywood sci-fi story that would explore the prospects and ramifications of bringing artificial intelligence and robots to reality as well as imagining humankind's ill-fated relationships with them in the form of a future where humans are locked in a seemingly incessant conflict against a rogue computer system, Skynet, mass-producing wave after wave of killer robots, known as Terminators. One of these Terminators are sent back in time to persistently hunt down and put the ice on a woman who would soon become the mother of a man who would command and inspire the human resistance against Skynet, named Sarah Connor, and this relentless robot assassin we all know and love is none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger himself and a man sent to protect Sarah at all costs and obstruct the Terminator's plan of attack on her is Kyle Reese, and they both bring birth to an important child named John Connor. But it doesn't all stop there, Terminator had jumped onto the pedestal of establishing a name for itself as an iconic franchise spanning five more sequels, a Universal Studios ride, and a relatively short-lived TV series. And since this very sequel is being headed by a determined creative team of both Deadpool's Tim Miller and the original director himself, James Cameron, you can expect Dark Fate to pretty much ignore the franchise's initial canonical path set by Rise of the Machines and Salvation, just like its (also mutually exclusive) predecessor Genisys and at this point, it's all evidential proof as to how the Terminator films have been all over the place with their diverging timelines and continuities with individual disparities of their own.

    In Dark Fate's specific case, we see a timeline that shows Linda Hamilton's depiction of an old embattled Sarah Connor who continues taking up her mantle as a Terminator hunter even long after the demise of Skynet and the erased future that originally manifested from Judgment Day in T2 to face an even newer threat, Legion, and she is not exactly alone in her pursuit. And to elaborate on that point, it takes a similar approach to amalgamating the plots both Terminator 1 and 2 just as Genisys did, as well as incorporating a few distinct twists of its kind. For a bit of a spoiler, the beginning of the film's intro simply rolls out the ball with an idyllic scene where a younger Sarah Connor spends some quality mother-son time with John on a Livingston beach until a T-800 (surprise surprise) comes crashing down on their party at the last minute to gun down our beloved John in act of shock and awe to audience expectations and then it all segue's into a completely different setting in Mexico set 22 years later where we are soon promptly introduced to three new characters one by one: Grace, Dani, and Rev-9. With such a brief scene coming and passing like that, there's no way you wouldn't suspect that as a writer's radical method of eradicating the old status quo of Terminator's prime duology under the apparent guise of paving yet another new road for the story to drive over. But nevertheless, a familiar cycle still seems to persistently repeat itself with Dani, another apparently normal human girl like Sarah Connor of the first movie, finding herself in pursued by a menacing new Terminator from a different future and another soldier who's cybernetically enhanced sent from that same new timeline with the sole aim of protecting Dani's skin for the fight of their lives. For a First Act, it was perhaps the most decent and enjoyable part of the entire film before it all just slowly went tumbling downhill for the rest of its running time.

    The whole rescue arc with both Grace and Dani as it played out in the beginning just feels vaguely reminiscent of that very scene from Rise of the Machines where the father of a female supporting protagonist is killed and impersonated by a newer Terminator model who (without warning) proceeds to hack all of human technology putting our heroes in hot pursuit as to be so derivative of it. And the high speed car chase was only somewhat exciting and adrenaline-boosting in small doses as that segment of Dark Fate just watches like another run-of-the-mill action scene to make viewers feel all hyped at seeing two new Terminators battling it out with each other to show off their distinct prowess and capabilities as these two promising new characters are advertised in the trailer. And for a nice long scene that intentionally tries to bridge our band of newer younger heroes with their original precursor Sarah Connor for the first time after what escalated as an initial series of high octane chases and combat from the main antagonist (Rev-9) as symbolic representation of passing down the torch, it was certainly a bold and flashy attempt from the writers.

    Getting into my personal assessment of Dark Fate's principal cast, I need to declare that while the line-up of its characters seemed to have some decent potential on paper, they have given me quite a lot to think about and it took me some considerable length of time to decide whether I like(d) the general characterization and performance of their roles and thought they actually ended up being good or not, depending on their relation to the plot and the directions each major plot point has taken. And you know what, I've kinda reached the conclusion that there is sufficient amount of evidence to suggest the opposite when it comes to about half of the cast. For starters, Linda Hamilton's take on Sarah Connor this time tries to present her as a slightly darker and edgier version of her original self from T2: Judgment Day. Her character tries to be a mentor of sorts to both Dani and Grace, being their de factor leader guiding them on their common mission and dispensing some measured advices and tips to combatting the Terminators like a sergeant or a general. But in every other minute outside of that, she just casually acts like a cynically grumpy old woman who's so weary of existence like a battered soul yelling at the clouds, presumably to highlight a more mildly tongue-in-cheek aspect of her character in a dark and serious world where she has nothing to lose except for more human lives on the planet. Though the attitude of being an embattled crusader was a pretty good type of role for Linda Hamilton's character here, it honestly could have been done better to live up to my expectations and the fact that this film made Hamilton look even more aged than she does in real-life was a bit astounding. And unlike Linda's original incarnations of Sarah Connor or even another actress like Emilia Clarke (or perhaps Lena Headey), Dark Fate's Sarah Connor really fell short of a few stacks in comparison and the only entertaining bits of her was her occasional wisecracks which made her little more than a superficial resemblance to an Expendables or MCU hero. And my friend didn't really welcome the thought of Linda Hamilton returning to the cast (even though he has not seen the movie yet at the time I'm writing this review).

    As for Dani Ramos, she starts off as the protege and damsel-in-distress type of character for Grace who prophesizes to her that she will be the one destined to rise up as the leader of the human resistance against a new malevolent AI that emerged from the ashes of Skynet, Legion, and Dani pretty much serves as the Distaff Counterpart to T2's John Connor for the majority of the plot, making her character only exist to fill in the abrupt void left by the latter's untimely death as his replacement and later on, with more time for character development, she begins to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Connor also effectively functioning as her successor in this timeline. Despite her being one of Dark Fate's core characters, Dani didn't really have much going for her and might possibly be the most average or most dull character in the entire movie, being nothing more than a filler character and a stand-in for the deceased John Connor.

    Grace on the other hand is certainly the most interesting and well-rounded character among this film's round of heroes by far and probably one of, if not THE, most decent character out of the bunch. She worked fairly well as a hybrid Terminator for a leading female role and the premise behind her character as a Resistance soldier getting sent back in time to protect Dani basically makers her an enhanced cyborg parallel to Kyle Reese's role and based on conceptual similarities, Grace's character can only remind me of Summer Glau's character from the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series and Marcus Wright from Salvation (if I had to be honest, her character definitely feels like a distinct cross between those two by virtue of her gender and not entirely lacking human organs). Grace acts like a voice of reason and an unflinching source of moral support for our otherwise-confused heroes and that's the one aspect of her character that I enjoyed seeing the most. She gave a somewhat new dynamic to character interactions in a typical Terminator atmosphere. And the vivid displays of her human flaws and personality throughout the film enabled me to resonate a bit with her character on some levels.

    Rev-9 as Dark Fate's prime antagonist is probably the biggest and most prevalent source of action and excitement that exists in the confines of this film. Rev-9 seemed like a new badass Terminator with the unique ability of splitting himself into two liquid and solid-based units as something never before seen in all the past Terminator installments, as the trailers would have us believe, but beyond that it almost seemed as if the directive team for Terminator were running out of fresh ideas. On the surface, Rev-9 just came off as a more menacing rehash of both the T-1000 and T-X, especially the latter (only minus a laundry's list worth of cool dangerous toys built in). Though the ability to mimic others and shapeshift through physical contact was kinda slick, if even just at a moment's glance. And I will also say it's a bit of an interesting improvement to have a new Terminator model more capable of replicating the authenticity of a human down to their social skills and behavior than all the other models in previous entries of the series (to the point of being convincing enough to pass for a human and it just bolsters the amusement factor of seeing Rev-9's personality being depicted. Although Rev-9 is one of the most thrilling characters in all of Dark Fate, for all his interesting attributes, it really felt like he actually ended up being a rather average or mediocre villain at best by the standards of the Terminator universe itself.

    Carl in all likeliness is possibly not just the blandest and most underdeveloped character in Dark Fate's storyline, but perhaps the lamest and most butchered edition of Arnold Schwarzenegger's iconic Terminator role by far (that it's just pretty disheartening tbh) and there are several reasons I'd like to clarify why, but I wouldn't know where to begin. this timeline's incarnation of Arnold's T-101 model just felt like it was all over the place. Just tossed around so aimlessly by whatever the directors feel like at a whim. At first, he seemed like a writer's tool and a cog in the machine (no pun intended) to carry out the task of taking the audience's expectations and messing around with them like a Play-Doh, by assassinating the long established character of John Connor out of the blue like a cheap hamfisted attempt at a surprise villain. But later on, there's yet another corny plot twist, after completing his objective he goes from classic remorseless killing machine to being just some family man living in the woods having years to learn a thing or two about growing what passes for human conscience and blending into human civilization as if he turned into a real human like Pinocchio. The only passingly interesting thing to come out of Dark Fate's interpretation of a T-800 is a barely satisfactory answer to a What-If type of scenario and question as to what a Terminator would actually do for the rest of its existence if it actually eliminated Skynet's most desired targets like John Connor of all things and successfully completed its objective without the plot armor of the heroes getting in the way, and the lengths it goes through to imagine what sorts of alterations and ramifications it would have on the timeline and portraying what is unrealized or unthinkable on screen. And having Carl's character posing as the owner of a drapery business and making him into some lowkey family man with the superficial adoption of a human wife and child just further compounds my view of just how downright silly and atrocious they made the T-101 Terminator look. This sequel literally made Arnold's long-standing role look and feel so dumbed down as to be nothing beyond an embarrassing joke and mockery of itself. There weren't an awful lot of redeeming qualities with Carl throughout this whole movie, being nothing more than a feebly-written supporting character and a walking plot device to save the day.

    Overall, Dark Fate just starts off as a mildly entertaining sci-fi film for the casual audience looking for an iconic Hollywood franchise to revel in, but after it's all said and done, it's a pretty dumb and disappointing Terminator sequel. And while I didn't really concern myself too much with the heavy-handed amount of feminism being pushed and crammed into this sequel based on the fanbase's acerbic complaints, I do realize that is one reason behind the overwhelming backlash against it and I do think that Tim Miller did went a bit too far to go out of his way to piss off the "misogynist" as a personal statement.

    The story was kinda trite and predictable with the same old time-travel concept thrown in to the point of resembling a horse that's been beaten far too many times. The timeline of Dark Fate felt so disconnected and convoluted on so many multiple levels that I could barely make any sense of it, much less follow it to the end without feeling a high measure of disbelief. Most of the characters were so poorly executed in whacked out ways that it's just hard to view them as likeable or even treat them seriously in hindsight. But besides of all the above critical flaws being checkmarked on my list, the worst atrocity that one can taint and besmirch the entire Terminator franchise with was the directors behind Dark Fate somehow thinking it would be a fine idea to give John Connor's character the early boot from the story by suddenly killing him off and by treating his character like disposable fodder (after all the efforts and momentum of the first two films went through to lead his ascent into being the most inspirational figure for its entire saga) in favor of bringing Sarah Connor's motivation back into the fold as the most pointless and counter-intuitive way to a plot ever. No amount of any positive aspects and points emanating from James Cameron's productive involvement for the rest of the film could possibly absolve nor salvage something as disdainfully inexcusable and irreparable as John Connor's death. Just the damning thought of having poor little John considered being killed off when Edward Furlong's version of the character just made a comeback in digitized form completely invalidates the climax of the first duology. What initially began as a very nostalgic scene reflecting both Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong in their state of youth (with the generous power of computer-generated imagery to resemble their 90's likeness) and what could have been easily the most memorable and heartfelt aspect of the movie is instantaneously ruined, therefore underplaying everything that John Connor has painstakingly brought as a paradigm of strength and hope for human life in the context of the story in just a matter of a few seconds. It just negates everything based on the true foundations on what caused the Terminator to be really what it is now. It's a major slap in the face to the entire audience, because it simply just spat on everything that worked hard to resolve Judgment Day's ending that it might as well as be a poorly-constructed parody for the sake of trolling an already-dejected fanbase.

    This sequel did the most essential concepts of what was supposed to be a run-of-the-mill Terminator story, no justice. How can or does one simply go to a theater and sit down to watch this entire feature and not come out retreating to a corner to cringe in shame? To simplify everything I need to state about this movie, there's just so much that's all kinds of wrong with it that it's just highly disparaging and I can only end with the conclusion that it wouldn't be too farfetched to call this the worst sequel in the Terminator franchise ever, surpassing even Rise of the Machines and maybe Salvation. I'll take it a step even further and consider this film an utterly clear and blatant disgrace to the franchise and a total mockery of everything it stood for, and it wouldn't come as a shock to me if this were the last entry in the series. Believe me when I say it when I firmly believe that Genisys was a much better sequel than this by a mile and all the previous branching timelines held a lot more potential for well-written stories than the piece of trash Tim Miller threw together.

    I am left with no choice but to give this movie a score of 2.75 out of 5 stars.
  5. Two out of four live-action Disney remakes have been on my "miss" list of this year's films, but thank goodness Maleficent: Mistress of Evil definitely wasn't one of them. I recall writing a somewhat brief and concise review on the first Maleficent without going into a whole lot of detail and it was a pretty positive one to say the least: https://hamonlord.blogspot.com/2014/07/my-review-on-maleficent.html

    I seriously wasn't expecting too much of a sequel five years later at around this time of the year, but there it was. After seeing the end of the first movie with King Stefan plummeting to his death and having taken the up-and-coming princess Aurora under her wing as the protector of the Moors, I was curious to see what the second installment would truly bring to the table in terms of storytelling and what type of story would be conceptualized with a magical character like Maleficent existing among a kingdom of humans next. As we should be familiar by now that the two live-action adaptations of Sleeping Beauty marks the distinction of applying great amounts of revisionism to Maleficent's character making her take on a more shrouded and complex role of a supernatural figure who only superficially exhibits any passing traits of an evil person in the eyes of commoners and plays a more sympathetic role to the main protagonist of Aurora in deep contrast to the purely vengeful and evil personality of her original animated counterpart wanting to simply just curse and slay Aurora and nothing more. And like the first film, swapping the roles of both Maleficent and the human royalty really provides a whole new perspective for us to explore the world of Disney fairy tales with. It steers the audience away from the stereotypical anthropocentric view of "Humans good, Non-human creatures bad" and makes us perceive the humanity in both sides and revealing that the "Other" is not so different from who we (humans) are in a fantasy world.

    The story takes place in the setting of the kingdom of Ulstead and Prince Philip proposes to Aurora and then Maleficent are invited along with Aurora to a nice feast with the royal family to discuss plans for their marriage and the future of their kingdom, which clearly ends pretty well (yeah no sarcasm there indeed). For obvious reasons of instant fearmongering by Queen Ingrith, Maleficent is deemed public enemy number one by the kingdom and the typical plot of a fairy-like being being wrongly accused by a human queen of cursing their king and being a threat to their kingdom's well-being starts to develop into a tragedy where she deals with being dragged into a war declared against her and it all starts to grow and intensify from there. Maleficent soon learns she isn't the only being of her kind and that she is in fact a member of an endangered mystical species threatened by humanity as well as other mind-bending truths and revelations previously unknown to her and the one behind all this chaos and destruction is orchestrated by someone close to the future prince that would be wed to Aurora.

    What I really enjoyed from this film was the true scale of action and climax of the tensions and conflict between fae and humans. I really thought that the classic moral struggle between the human race and beings of non-human origin is always a nice brand of touch to any fantasy story and it illustrates the true gap between how we view morality in the terms of the group we belong to and how in-groups and out-groups are always locked in our pursuit of desire and order. But in terms of character development, what truly shines is Aurora herself and as a young princess, it's just kinda schmaltzy in every way to see her grace and innocence stand out throughout most of the film, especially during the First Act, and the romantic interaction that progresses between her and Prince Philip and the fact that she tries to bond with her and Maleficent and seeks peace and reconciliation in a time of war and chaos amplifies the overall sentimentality of her character and the nature of a run-of-the-mill Disney film's tone. I like how she is portrayed as someone who starts off as naive and idealistic to being more bold and heroic trying to act as the voice of reason in a sea of hate and mistrust between the opposing parties at war. And Maleficent is shown to be even more misunderstood and persecuted than in the first film, which gives us a glimpse as to how she chooses to take matters into her own hands as she tires to defend her own kind and Aurora, and clearing her own name, giving her a more Magneto-like feel as a character. Queen Ingrith being the true antagonist of the story is what really completed the functioning triangle of character dynamics between her, Aurora, and Maleficent and how they just seem to compete for being the most integral part to the events of the main plot and conflicts. I really enjoy how Michelle Pleiffer depicts the role of an suspicious human queen who tries to present her public facade as a bold and efficient ruler who only wants the prosperity of her kingdom, but hides under such a guise to seethe in her prejudice and carry out wanton genocide against Maleficent and all of her Fae kind making her a convincing villain with a despotic tyrant attitude and the way the writers try to add a layer of depth to her role as the primary antagonist by making true motives and worldview seem more complex and sophisticated with undertones mirroring that of real-world politics and philosophy is also fire and intriguing. The way she shows her true colors as a corrupt ruler really showed how well a surprise villain can work (though we kinda saw it coming with the spindle).

    In conclusion, the acting of Elle Fanning, Angelina Jolie, and Michelle Pleiffer were pretty excellent and together formed a successful combo in this department with the rest of the actors being that extra icing on the cake, the casting choice was decent, the visuals were very great, the action and thrill is nothing short of fantastic, the storytelling isn't exactly the best I've seen but still meets reasonable expectations, the pacing went with the characters and plot pretty well in several ways, but the CGI and special effects were moderate at best and nothing to write home about and the idea of Maleficent meeting other members of her kind was a nice additional concept to introduce. It was a great film, it's one of Disney's much better live-action remakes and it can leave you pretty satisfied with an open mind.

    I will give this film a score of 4.15 out of 5.
  6. Action movies: One of Hollywood's most popular genres before the advent of superhero films like MCU and X-Men and with every cinematic hero to embody the legendary spirit, strength, and ethos of the hardened American soldier forged from the fires and flames of the Vietnam War, one name is recognized as standing above the rest on a pile of blood-stained corpses and no prize should be given for guessing that it belongs to John Rambo. The very franchise and character from the 80's that would prove to be a leading example for every other celebrated action blockbusters like Die Hard, Commando, Lethal Weapon, etc. to follow in their exhibition (and exploitation) of pure American patriotism through the imposing appeal and empowerment of strong tough men of the military kicking all asses they come across and bracing through dangerous and insurmountable struggles for survival, has once again returned to the big screen for what would be its last great outing to end it all. There is not a single doubt from my perspective that Rambo is one of the most badass action film heroes to glamorize the otherwise-unhealing scars and wounds of a Vietnam Veteran and to romanticize the brutal terrors and horrors of war itself and above all, to offer us a non-stop series of gun-packing, bullet-spamming, knife-splitting, arrow-shooting, explosive-detonating, head-decapitating, and limb-dismembering action frenzy spanning several films that we still fondly remember after 37 years.

    The major theme of every installment, Rambo is an ex-Green Beret in a post-war life dealing with the PTSD as his Vietnam past continues to haunt him to the present day and he shows how much he internalizes his mental pain and grief as a human individual who clashes with the outside world. But unlike the previous films, Last Blood presents a different story and a different setting than that of an Asian country where Rambo pursues an militant army of soldiers, instead veering off of that standard route and driving it closer to home where he deals with the Mexican Cartel kidnapping his adopted daughter or niece. In the process, Last Blood tries to signify the need and desire of a man to preserve what's left of his soul by staying strong and fighting for his life and home. The story goes through lengths to portray a narrative of trauma and vulnerability as our hero Rambo goes to town on the forces that would take away what is precious to him: Gabriela. And I have to say that aspect of the film does do a good job of setting up that emotional tension that Rambo would express and one of the later scenes after he supposedly rescues his loved one from the grip of the Mexican cartel did add an extra dimension of tear-jerking sadness to what is supposed to be as something as senselessly action-packed and over-the-top as a Rambo sequel. But I'll have to be honest and say that compared to the previous Rambo films, the storytelling felt weak and average and the evocation of its drama felt so pale in comparison that the scenes with Gabriela learning harsh truths about his abusive dad just barely registered with me. Though it didn't matter much to me, as my sole focus of viewing this film was on the pure amounts of indulgent action, blood, and violence and just seeing good old Rambo dish out a heavy series of pain and retribution against the Mexican Cartel in the forms of bullets, knives, arrows, and explosives from the final scenes was simply the fulfillment we needed as the inner action movie fanboy in us, even if the gore and carnage was a bit too excessive that it practically reminded me of prominent slasher films like Friday the 13th. In that particular regards, it was nothing short of spectacular and jaw-dropping from every angle and it didn't fail to deliver even a little on all counts, especially that final kill (which I will not go into spoiling). This sequel's portrayal of Rambo gave off very similar vibes to John Wick when the plot reads like a very typical revenge tale against corrupt criminals in a more urban setting, as opposed to battles in the jungle. Watching Sylvester Stallone ramp up the angry hardcore personality of the ex-Green Beret and making him go all Medieval on his foes from across the border was convincing and visceral enough to offer us an insight into the darker and more grisly side of human nature we don't often know for ourselves.

    Overall, the film served its role as a fine and appropriate conclusion to the Rambo series as well as Stallone's signature role besides Rocky and although the drama and plot leaves much to be desired, I thought the raunchy portrayal of Mexican characters felt kinda downright amusing and comedic as to tickle all my funny bones in a restrained way with all the Spanish actors trying with all their might to pretending to act that part right down to the cursing in their shared language of Spanish, even though it came off as blatantly stereotypical even for a film that's quick to be accused by critics of pandering to the conservative white male demographic of the American audience. Last Blood definitely doesn't disappoint although its predecessors fare much better in all departments except the last kill, Stallone's acting and the way he acts so savage and unhinged really made me enjoy every moment of his character, and it all certainly went out with a big bang, ending the series as we know it on a humble note.

    I will consider giving this movie a score of 4.0 out of 5.
  7. We've all just stared at the clock anticipating the long-awaited remake of It's cinematic adaptation (in the form of a two-part mini-series from 1990) and then waited an additional two years just for the second and final half to wrap up the entire story in one unrestrained summary. The first film was a gigantic arc showcasing the introduction of the lives of seven troubled youngsters who collectively call themselves the "Losers" in the town of Derry, Maine in their harrowing encounter against an enigmatic cosmic force whose outward appearance is that of a sinister clown, Pennywise, who also acts like a literal boogeyman that mysteriously manifests as all their respective deepest psychological fears wherever their human senses can perceive screwing with them by altering their environment and forcing them into an existential trap.

    If you all want to read my review on the first chapter, click the following link: https://www.narutoforums.org/xfa-blog-entry/my-review-on-it-2017.36704/

    So It Chapter Two is a clear and blatant follow-up to the aftermath of the Losers' initial victory against the evil cosmic horror clown in his den and solidified a mutual pact to face It should the creature ever reawaken and haunt them again 27 years later. And after such a vast length of time had passed for our younger heroes, the time has finally arrived when the Losers have entered their current age as grown adults each living their own separate careers and individual lives far away from each other in either a happy or depressed state. And they are summoned by their old friend Mike to return to Derry and answer their call to arms and combat Pennywise/It and muster enough strength, determination, and willpower from the Ritual of Chud (whom the Native Americans tried to perform in the past, but failed) and a cosmic force from beyond to face off against Pennywise for the final time. And they deal with their traumatic pasts down memory lane as they search for pieces of the greater puzzle for the ultimate path to defeat their common multiverse-devouring foe at its own game and finish him off for good.

    Now as for my actual thoughts on this movie, it basically amounts of the same points I've stated and summarized in my review of the first chapter of It. The sheer scare factor and diabolical personality of Pennywise is cinematically portrayed on-screen pretty well and all the visual scares and terrifying environments that are visible within the setting of Derry are a true indicator of what type of being the writers really wants to present him as in the human minds of the audience by adding several layers to his sadistic and psychotic nature and all the different fears and nightmares that manifest for each of our heroes in the Losers gang not only shows how strong and imposing the emotion of fear is in its potential frighten and threaten not only on a physical level, but even more on a metaphysical and existential one. And the incorporeal and extra-dimensional nature of It/Pennywise does all the more to elevate the stakes and describe how helpless and fragile the human mind can be against that which we cannot see or touch, by magnifying the scope of danger and threat for our protagonists. The intense jumpscares and horror gags are compounded by an array of some impressive special effects as well as some nice deliberate angles of camera shots for the perspective of our heroes in all their respective moments of terror, though the pure horror level itself this time paled a little in comparison to the height of much of the disturbing scares showcased in the first installment. Scenes like the attack on a gay couple by a bunch of homophobic delinquents at a carnival really shook me in astonishment and the fortune cooke scene where everything was seeping in a puddle of black goo and tiny monsters were popping out of nowhere really started set the stage for the utter suspense and terror that would soon progress into the later parts of the movie and the suicide scene of Stanley Uris from the get-go was shocking enough to put my initial emotions on the edge (though a similar element of this film was also featured as a plot-point in the 1990 TV miniseries, so I wasn't too surprised there with how they remade that for 2019) and not to mention that scene where Beverly visited her old home and having what started off as a pleasant conversation with an elderly woman turn into yet another dreadful surprise ambush for her life was also another good jumpscare, even though it was a fairly predictable one in hindsight. And all of the above added an extra sense of despair and fright into playing a significant role for the rest of the film's story.

    The way the Losers revisit their Derry hometown as well as their childhood's worst and most traumatic memories like Ben Hascom's overweight image and Bill Denborough's guilt over the death of his younger brother Georgie all make for a good source of heavy psychological drama mixed with some cheeky off-color comedy and serves as an effective way to flesh out their timeskip arc. It Chapter Two also sports a very superb and well-rounded cast including big names like James MacAvoy, Bill Hader, and Jessica Chastain and the acting performance for each other feels very genuine and real in expressing their roles and dynamics that connect the relations and interactions of the story with the main characters. Bill Skarsgard does a decent job of playing Pennywise and making him seem brutal, comical, and threatening in every way he can and should be. And whoever plays the adult version of Henry Bowers wasn't too shabby either in being just as crazy and run amok as his younger self which also adds even more malevolence to the tone of the film's narrative. And Stephen King himself making that particular cameo in one of Bill's scenes kinda gave me the same vibes as a "Stan Lee" moment.

    Overall, I thought It Chapter Two was a very fun and fantastic film that brought a powerful wave of authentic horror in its storytelling with some occasional cheap gags thrown here and there and the ending just screamed epicness and touching our hearts on so many conceivable levels, so I don't have much complaints to throw out about this piece of work here except for the scares in this movie lacking some of the same power and effectiveness compared to its predecessor and the fact that the runtime dragged on even longer than both me and my friend liked, and this film offers a well-satisfied conclusion to the duology as something of a later time skip arc for the Losers. And it still possesses much less of the pure emotion and artistic substance of the original 1990 TV film, though either way if you are one of those literary fans of Stephen King and crave lots of cinematic horror, this movie shouldn't in any way be passed up.

    I will assign this movie a s core of at least 4.65 out of 5 stars (as opposed to my old score of 9.5 out of 10 for the first movie, which would now be about 4.75 out of 5 stars).
  8. Another typical action movie that I am going to take the time out of my life to review again. And this time, it's the third film in the "Fallen" series, which is revolved around a die-hard Secret Service Agent named Mike Banning who goes through thick and thin to save the President in any escalated conflict around the world. They were decently enjoyable flicks I am going to admit watching the trailer for this movie, I was all highly pumped up and a bit fanatically excited on the inside when I saw drones flying out of the blue all coming right down on Mike Banning and the President Trumbull (who was previously vice president in the last movies). It appeared to have some potential even for an extremely run-of-the-mill action movie with American patriotic undertones. And when I watched the actual film, the story presents itself as one gigantic narrative of Gerard Butler's character facing an unknown attack and doing everything he can to escape and clear his name after being framed as public enemy number one facing orchestrated accusations of being the president's secret assassin. The twist itself is very predictable and not to mention the visual revelation of the true and ultimate antagonist behind Banning's framing (and spreading rumors that the Russians were imminently plotting against America) proved to be a bit disappointing and the rest of the movie felt predictable after the suspense and tension of finding out the main man behind the source of the entire film's conflict had run all but dry and the only thing that kept the spectacle of the film was more grand explosions, over-the-top chases, and a high octane series of endless bullets being senselessly exchanged by both the heroes and the villains (complete in tactical armored vests) from every possible angle coupled with a gauntlet of personal hand to hand combat for Mike Banning on the go. All the trash-talking and hard-hitting dialogue between Mike Banning and his kooky father in the woods are about the only other thing that added what little flavor it had to a story that was starting to lose its psychological dramatic tension over time. But at least Danny Huston's character was somewhat interesting, very cold and manipulative being the backstabber that he was to Mike Banning in this whole ordeal. It's a generic "America Saves The World" type of action film with a lot of guns and bangs, but very non-compelling storytelling and relatively little substance in character, but I still enjoyed my Tuesday night watching it even though there's just nothing left to see after it.

    I will give this movie a 3.35 out of 5 stars.
  9. If there was any flick that I saw outside the superhero, sci-fi, or action genre, and can form an actual opinion on and have the ability to write a pretty short and concise review on, make it this one folks. Good Boys is yet another adult comedy film from one of the same men that brought us "Sausage Party", Seth Rogen. And as the title may suggest, it's a tale of three-seemingly ordinary sixth-graders who are dealing with their own individual issues of life that will decisively determine what their future will be. Lucas is dealing with the divorce of his parents. Thor (no, not the Norse god) is wanting to pursue his singing talent. Max is trying to learn how to get with his crush Brixlee. Together, these three form a personal friendship in a coalition they name themselves as the Bean Bag Boys. The premiere of the whole film starts off the boys wanting to learn how to kiss being the immature kids with a relatively innocent heart that they are and try using Max's father's drone to spy on their two female neighbors, Hannah and Lily possibly getting into such an act and the minute their drone was discovered and taken, things go extremely awry for the Bean Bag Boys as they get into all sorts of hijinks and misadventures proving their wits and worth. The film has so many outlandish gags and is heavy on sex references and how it portrays the perspective of three young preteens to a world of adults that unknown to them is also pretty edgy and in every way it appeals to the lowbrow humor of the audience in ways you wouldn't expect. Especially that paintball scene where the kids were trying to take a drug in exchange for their drone which Hannah and Lily have taken from them was perhaps the most impressive and exciting one in the entire movie. Hannah and Lily make for a pretty surprising yet plausible characters that would be initial antagonists to the boys and then turn out to be something entirely else. It's a movie that somehow shattered my expectations when seeing it with my best buddy and behind all the pile of your typical dirty comedy lies an insightful and emotionally ripping message about romance and relationships for kids that are at the age of soon embarking on such adult concepts. It was funny and overall, enjoyable.

    I will give this movie a rating of 3.75 out of 5 stars.
  10. This week I treated myself to a Matinee showing of yet another entry in the Fast and Furious film series and this time we're diving in and putting the thrust with a spin-off centered around Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in their respective roles as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, side to side. This movie is essentially an unlikely duo with initial animosity towards each other being tasked to retrieve and secure the very virus bent on infecting and wiping off the insides of the human race off the face of the Earth called "Snowflake" from a cybernetically jacked terrorist leader Brixton with Deckard's sister, being caught in the crossfire after taking Snowflake away with her. For an action movie that's set in a seemingly ordinary real world, it really has pushed some boundaries of plausibility and blurred the line between reality and non-reality by introducing a cyborg character with some impossibly superhuman physical capabilities that can allow itself to pass for a very average stock villain straight out of some cyberpunk sci-fi story. It really shows just how delirious and absurd the Fast and Furious series is willing to be in order to heighten the stakes for our otherwise human protagonists. The shared adventures of both Luke and Deckard both starts off as juxtaposed parallel series of how they both go about their daily lives seeking out random bad guys and carrying out their usual desire for ass-kicking and the way they portray each respective character's segment in such a similar manner was a decent set-up. And the minute they both see each other again in person, they both indulge in their personal feud as they both wrap their heads around partnering with each other on a great scale operation in spite of their petty differences still creeping in from the previous two films and as their reluctant alliance slowly but surely sees enough character development to the point of progressing into a mutual battle against an even more egregious threat rising as the ghost of Deckard's past and putting the fate of his sister and the world to the test.

    The sheer action, drama, and suspense of this film is pretty standard but a bit fun and over-the-top with a lot of special effects and choreography to flesh out all the brutal hand-to-hand duels and thrilling car chases. But what's even more over-the-top and blatant is the sheer dialogue between Luke and Deckard and the full essence of their trash-talking talent. Listening closely to their barrage of insults and verbal exchanges in their earlier scenes never felt so intense and real to both of my ears. Much inspirational notes in my head were to be had out of hearing their vitriol and frction between each other. Sure much of Dwayne Johnson's and Jason Statham's interactions with each other may sound about as mature and intellectual as a bunch of teens in high school getting into an immature argument on the playground or telling crude jokes to make fun of one another behind their backs, but it's still hilarious and satisfying to revel in. And top of that, I also enjoyed seeing both Deckard and Hobbs make a wisecrack towards an antagonist like Brixton even in tense and dangerous situations.

    The movie's style of irreverent humor makes Hobbs and Shaw a film that practically borders on being a flat-out parody of high-octane action films. Shaw's attempts to breach a facial recognition-based security door into Brixton's warehouse and Hobb's initial family tensions back in his hometown of Samoa are just two of the most notable instances of how much slapstick and comedic gags this film is riddled with to the point of resembling the plot of a Simpsons episode. Hobbs & Shaw essentially translates to being a straight-up comedy film with a lot of crashes and explosions by its concept and it plays out in the same vein as a silly buddy-cop film with a female character giving its extra edginess. The plot is pretty fairly generic and cliche with the weird twist of a cyborg villain working for a terrorist organization and I'll be blunt when I say that I thought Brixton was an extremely cheesy and lame villain who offers barely anything interesting as a character whose writers tried too hard to have him imitate Robocop and ends up being a poor man's T-800 Terminator in a setting dominated by human drivers and bandits engaging in street combat and navigating the present world. But despite that, I still find it to be somewhat even more decent and entertaining than the main Fast & Furious flicks to my tastes due to the fact that it tries to to take itself even less seriously for the sake of fun and laughs. For anyone looking for both high adrenaline and a ton of cheap crude laughter, for a nice break from dull reality and to see Jason Statham doing what he does best: Kicking ass and making one-liners with that snide British accent of his. This film is worth a try.

    I will give this movie a score of 3.65 out of 5.
  11. Yet another film entry in the line of "Disney Remakes" for me to pop and insert my simple review into. And after missing both Dumbo and Aladdin this year, I was dead determined as hell not to make this the third live-action Disney film that I would somehow miss in a consecutive row. It was none other than one of the most successful features spawned from Disney's Renaissance era which we all remember as a tale that centered around the animal kingdom's version of the Shakespearean story, Hamlet. If anyone has grown up on the classic animated Lion King, you'd all surely be familiar with the story of a young lion in Africa, Simba, who aspires to succeed his father Mufasa as the king of the "Pride Lands" and desires to prove his courage and swag in front of his father's kingdom while his power-hungry egomaniac uncle Scar wants to overthrow his brother and prevent his nephew from assuming the throne for himself instead and he only partially succeeds in his goals.

    The film attempts to re-animate all of the original Lion King utilizing the power of computer-generated imagery for an extremely photorealistic look that would truly present the entire film in a much more true-to-life method and the disparity went even further than the source material as to base the character's re-design on the exact appearances of animals in the real world right down to their superficial anatomy and relatively natural movements, and it's kinda fantastic how they were able to execute that and the whole landscape of Africa seems so lush, refined, and vividly detailed the way it's fleshed out for the movie. Like every Disney remake, the movie has pretty much all of the same scores as the original like "The Circle of Life", "Hakuna Matata", and "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?", and all the key scenes and dialogues are definitely spoken verbatim and visually portrayed similarly respectively, such as when Scar told Simba the hidden truth behind his father's death, and the transition of Simba as a cub into an adult lion like Mufasa at the time of his death.

    Just like the original, this live-action adaptation of Lion King watches like a turbulent coming-of-age story with a realistic moral message being preached concerning responsibility and the bitter harshness of the outside world as well as volatile family feuds with some political upheaval and corruption raging within the ruling class being tossed into the mix. It's a classic tale of betrayal, manipulation, and revenge as Simba goes through an intense roller coaster of escaping his guilt-ridden past in disgraced exile, finding and reaffirming his identity in a new and distant place, and finally confronting the very threat against the integrity and peace of his own world. The one modification I liked about this film is that they keep the funny comic relief nature of characters like Timon and Puumba and how they portray Scar as even more brutal and aggressive in his ambitions and actions as a sinister force and making the three Hyenas (Shenzi, Azizi, and Kamari) seem even more serious and dangerous as real supporting antagonists compared to their much goofier and clownish original animated counterparts, while retaining a fraction of their sillier personality.

    While it was also a nice opportunity to have James Earl Jones reprise his voice-over role as Mufasa as well as having Seth Rogen voice Puumba, the overall cast was decent but nothing too special. This film also had a lot of upbeat cheery moments and hilarious moments, especially with Zazu, Raifiki, and Timon and Puumba. Yet also the other half of the movie was replete with some serious climactic moments and a few sad and emotionally nerve-striking moments such as Mufasa's demise in the stampede and a grown Simba's final confrontation with Scar. In conclusion, this new adaptation of the Lion King is a satisfying and decent enough entry for every family to enjoy and appreciate as standard Disney fare and making all the animal characters of Lion King look more realistic without sacrificing too much of their cuteness and personality at expense. As well as this movie matches every pivotal scene and the character development of characters like Simba and the others with gorgeous landscapes to boot, it still cannot match the original in terms quality, animation, storytelling, and emotion as the original art and drawing was so much better at visual portraying this particular Disney franchise's setting and this film throws out the details and complexities of the original for the sake of depicting a more simplified version of the story for contemporary generations. If you are a loyal fan of wild safari animals or any of Disney's animated feature films as a child from the 90's, then I recommend this film for you to see how nice and vivid this reimagination leads you and your family. It's a fairly good and decent film for anyone who's seeking a story featuring talking animals in its fictional story, but nowhere near the greatness of the original source it's adapted from like all the other Disney remakes.

    I shall give his a movie a score of 3.5 out of 5 stars.
  12. Big and ferocious animals have always presented themselves as a key component and a thematic staple in pretty standard horror features like this one. And alligators are no exceptions, as my friend will be not afraid to confess to you that he is an absolute devotional fan and admirer of these reptilian creatures. Crawl is also a typical disaster film that utilizes a hurricane-ridden Florida as the backdrop for an innocent day gone from being awry to being terribly and horribly worse. The movie is a sudden and immersive tale of an athletic swimming student who struggling against the brute force of nature with her father and dog as they deal with a immense hurricane hitting their humble town of Florida from all angles and to make matters even worse than it already is, they find themselves in fierce combat against a vicious family of alligators that are setting their sights on them and other nearby humans as prey. I do not have too much to say about this film other than it watches like a more generic and run-of-the-mill horror film with angry real animals being the center of our protagonist's source of conflict and climax and for that, it's still a pretty good and exciting survivalist film that conveys the true terror of facing not just one but many alligators at once in real-life and I liked it to the very end with my friend, despite the cast not really standing out at all.

    I shall give this movie a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.
  13. As of now, all the big smoke has cleared since the conclusion of an era for the Avengers after Endgame and this is our first film in the entire MCU to follow up to the aftermath of the epic war against Thanos and the Infinity Stones and it of course involves her friendly neighborhood hero, Spiderman. As portrayed by the fresh young star Tom Holland.

    If you had read my previous review on Spiderman: Homecoming, you should be able to familiarize with this version of Spiderman by now: https://hamonlord.blogspot.com/2017/07/my-review-on-spiderman-homecoming.html

    So this film is a direct continuation to Homecoming by way of Avengers: Endgame, where Peter and his classmates embark on a vacation trip to Europe with Peter still feeling the blues over the death of his close mentor Tony Stark and trying to dodge contact with Nick Fury. Not realizing that his tour in Venice was about to transform from a seemingly ordinary one to a sudden disaster, Peter faces off against a water "Elemental" as what appears to be his newest foe yet similar to another "Elemental" that appeared in Mexico earlier in the film (kinda confused him for Sandman, I swear).

    And then along comes a mysterious figure named Mysterio (aka Quinn Beck) who strangely lends a hand in eliminating the thread and saving the day before "warning" Peter about the other Elementals and presenting himself as a hero from an alternate universe where his home version of Earth has perished at the hands of these mighty creatures of nature. But little does Peter know that Mysterio isn't really what he claims to be, and even less that his love partner MJ is onto him. Mysterio is the main attraction of the film's story as far as Spidey's adventure and battle against evil forces that oppose him. The idea of a funky-looking villain with the power (or tech) to create and instill illusions into anyone who challenges him or even work alongside him makes for surprisingly refreshing and engaging rounds of action and plot and his hidden deceitful and manipulative nature combined with his disgruntled attitude towards his former superiors at a corporation he used to work work is what shapes a compelling character that drives the story straightforward into thrill and madness. The way the movie initially portrays Mysterio as an enigmatic ally to Spiderman and later reveals him to be a shock villain is consistent with what his abilities and occupations are and how much great twists and turns are contributed to the tapestry of the story as a whole.

    With the above being stated, I'll be honest, the beginning of the film felt a little weak in terms of the characters, it's like watching some typical teen romance drama on TV. The dialogue between Peter and his classmates came off as really kinda cheesy for my tastes, but the movie carried on fine enough for me to sit through and see how the pacing and development of the film's events unfold. Peter is made to be an innocent yet gullible fool when sitting next to Mysterio not knowing that he was behind all this and makes a pretty costly mistake. The other classmates including Ned are the goofy types who always try to have Peter's back. Far From Home, like every typical MCU film in recent years, makes gratuitous use of wacky humor in their dialogue such as Peter's scenes with Nick Fury and some of the scenes especially when Peter confronts Mysterio after the latter reveals his true colors were so surreal and trippy as hell that it just warps the audience's mind not being able to tell whether Peter is out of danger or not and it's just so all over the place and that's not even getting into the psychological trauma and love affair that Peter has to deal with. And Jake Gyllenhaal's portrayal of Mysterio is an odd match to say the least. His characterization as a seemingly chill guy who later morphs into someone so deranged and psychotic is just paradoxically interesting to watch a little. The film just goes from feeling a little lowkey in tone and mood to being actually more funny and hilariously entertaining with all the sheer action and laughs simultaneously dominating the screen than I predicted in the end. The mid-credits scene was also the most WTF moment of the entire film. If you are a fan of Spiderman and the MCU, this film will at least sufficiently meet your expectations if not rise a little above it for the jokes and whatnot and it's a good new start from the end of the latest Avengers saga.

    I will rate this movie a score of about 4.1 out of 5.
  14. As of now, all the big smoke has cleared since the conclusion of an era for the Avengers after Endgame and this is our first film in the entire MCU to follow up to the aftermath of the epic war against Thanos and the Infinity Stones and it of course involves her friendly neighborhood hero, Spiderman. As portrayed by the fresh young star Tom Holland.

    If you had read my previous review on Spiderman: Homecoming, you should be able to familiarize with this version of Spiderman by now: https://hamonlord.blogspot.com/2017/07/my-review-on-spiderman-homecoming.html

    So this film is a direct continuation to Homecoming by way of Avengers: Endgame, where Peter and his classmates embark on a vacation trip to Europe with Peter still feeling the blues over the death of his close mentor Tony Stark and trying to dodge contact with Nick Fury. Not realizing that his tour in Venice was about to transform from a seemingly ordinary one to a sudden disaster, Peter faces off against a water "Elemental" as what appears to be his newest foe yet similar to another "Elemental" that appeared in Mexico earlier in the film (kinda confused him for Sandman, I swear).

    And then along comes a mysterious figure named Mysterio (aka Quinn Beck) who strangely lends a hand in eliminating the thread and saving the day before "warning" Peter about the other Elementals and presenting himself as a hero from an alternate universe where his home version of Earth has perished at the hands of these mighty creatures of nature. But little does Peter know that Mysterio isn't really what he claims to be, and even less that his love partner MJ is onto him. Mysterio is the main attraction of the film's story as far as Spidey's adventure and battle against evil forces that oppose him. The idea of a funky-looking villain with the power (or tech) to create and instill illusions into anyone who challenges him or even work alongside him makes for surprisingly refreshing and engaging rounds of action and plot and his hidden deceitful and manipulative nature combined with his disgruntled attitude towards his former superiors at a corporation he used to work work is what shapes a compelling character that drives the story straightforward into thrill and madness. The way the movie initially portrays Mysterio as an enigmatic ally to Spiderman and later reveals him to be a shock villain is consistent with what his abilities and occupations are and how much great twists and turns are contributed to the tapestry of the story as a whole.

    With the above being stated, I'll be honest, the beginning of the film felt a little weak in terms of the characters, it's like watching some typical teen romance drama on TV. The dialogue between Peter and his classmates came off as really kinda cheesy for my tastes, but the movie carried on fine enough for me to sit through and see how the pacing and development of the film's events unfold. Peter is made to be an innocent yet gullible fool when sitting next to Mysterio not knowing that he was behind all this and makes a pretty costly mistake. The other classmates including Ned are the goofy types who always try to have Peter's back. Far From Home, like every typical MCU film in recent years, makes gratuitous use of wacky humor in their dialogue such as Peter's scenes with Nick Fury and some of the scenes especially when Peter confronts Mysterio after the latter reveals his true colors were so surreal and trippy as hell that it just warps the audience's mind not being able to tell whether Peter is out of danger or not and it's just so all over the place and that's not even getting into the psychological trauma and love affair that Peter has to deal with. And Jake Gyllenhaal's portrayal of Mysterio is an odd match to say the least. His characterization as a seemingly chill guy who later morphs into someone so deranged and psychotic is just paradoxically interesting to watch a little. The film just goes from feeling a little lowkey in tone and mood to being actually more funny and hilariously entertaining with all the sheer action and laughs simultaneously dominating the screen than I predicted in the end. The mid-credits scene was also the most WTF moment of the entire film. If you are a fan of Spiderman and the MCU, this film will at least sufficiently meet your expectations if not rise a little above it for the jokes and whatnot and it's a good new start from the end of the latest Avengers saga.

    I will rate this movie a score of about 4.1 out of 5.
  15. It's your boy, one and only, Jakers.

    Last year I bought a SNES Classic for my birthday present, what are some hypothetical ideas for a birthday present this year?
  16. Well folks, it's pretty much a safe bet to announce that an era of Hollywood's fast action-paced franchise based off Marvel's other iconic superhero team, X-Men has mets its apparent end and what "better" way to go down in flames than Dark Phoenix itself (yes pun intended). I have personally grew up alongside 20th Century FOX's X-Men series all the way from when I was still a child in elementary school owning the first title on VHS through high school and college to the present day and up until now I've kinda absolutely been captivated just seeing and enjoying every last bits of each installment in such moments and hardly came out unphased from seeing the brute Wolverine slash his claws through soldiers to Deadpool pulling all sorts of edgy wisecracks to the audience.

    What we have here this time is a bit of a brief origin story of one of the most powerful mutants with extreme telepathic and telekinetic abilities, Jean Grey, which felt a bit reminiscent of Shazam's opening scene and how she goes through an internalized struggle combatting her past guilt and trauma from the sudden cause of her mother's death and keeping a newly attained universal cosmic force of nature that has bonded with her being known as the Phoenix Entity in check all the while the X-Men ardently face an invading race of shapeshifting extraterrestrials whose home planet were destroyed by that same force that they seek from Jean. The beginning scene where the X-Men rescue a crew of astronauts on the Endeavour in space was a nice way to visualize an explanation of how the Phoenix Force bonded with Jean Grey and led to her uncontrollable impulses threatening everyone around here, including her fellow X-Men. Like every X-Men film, especially the prequels, the casts of the franchise are usually pretty superb and Dark Phoenix still presents solid acting in the form of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and others. Yet despite all the intrigue formed around Jean Grey's story as the holder of the Phoenix Force, I kinda felt so much potential was missing from this film. Prior to viewing this movie, I knew that it had attracted a lot of negative reviews from both critics and audience and unlike the rest of the crowd of film enthusiasts, I wanted to give Dark Phoenix the benefit of a doubt and I was being quite generous with until about the remaining half portion. Somewhere along the Second Act or so, I did feel a little alarmed and shocked at the idea of Professor Xavier being suddenly accused of being responsible for Jean Grey's screw-up by manipulating her memories and even moreso after finding out it was actually true by the guy's later admission, it just psychologically caught me off the edge. With that aside, I really did think that the movie's plot truly started to descend downhill when Vuk (played by Jessica Chastain) and the D'Bari aliens invaded and wreaked havoc on the Mutants after Magneto started his crusade against Jean Grey and the final action scenes, as intense as it was, really showed its further decline into a dismal void of sadness and discontent. The overall character development just felt really rushed to the end and the plot development and pacing felt a little stressfully mediocre, with much of the spirit and excitement of the franchise having all but vanished or gone missing into the air. Dark Phoenix for all its good points, was the most disappointing entry in the X-Men film series and perhaps the worst possible way to serve as the ultimate conclusion for the franchise with such a weak story and the villains were mostly overwhelmingly lame and lacking in my opinion with only Jessica Chastain being the only redeeming quality of the bunch. The movie is not the worst, but it could have been a lot better, but it feels like ultimately wasted potential and I agree with the critics in the end. It's sooooooooooooooo average.

    I will give this movie a score of 3.75 or 4.0 out of 5.
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