Teen Titans GO! To the Movies (2018)

Teen Titans Go to the movies

The Teen Titans won’t be the only ones surprised at their first movie…

There are a lot of fans of the original Teen Titans TV show that are adamant haters of the show Teen Titans GO. I mean true haters. The first show came on the air just a few years after I was done with cartoons, but managed to see a few shows thanks to my little brother. When Teen Titans Go came out, the legion of die-hard fans became die hard haters. The show did not give life lessons as before, but it did give lots of humor for adults as well as kids. Enter Teen Titans Go! To the Movie, one of the years most surprising (and hilarious) films.

Sick of not being noticed, the Titan’s leader Robin (voice of Scott Menville) is determined to have a movie made about him (with or without the titans). It is this conundrum that is the basis of the film, but the side adventures of Robin, Cyborg (Khary Payton), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), and Raven (Tara Strong) that bring the best parts out, very few of which I will mention (even poking fun at Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice). All that is to say is that kids may be confused why their parents are laughing harder than they are at times.

Others who lend their vocal talents include Will Arnett (also one of the producers) as the team’s nemesis Slade (“SLAAAADE!”), Kristen Bell as film director Jade Wilson, Nicholas Cage as Superman, and great minor comic roles for (minor spoiler) Michael Bolton and Stan Lee.

Parents, there are some movies that you drop your kids off at the theater and pick them up at later. Don’t do it here. See it with them. It will be worth it (and yes, all ages are okay).

There are times when the action (which does look good for the type of animation  being used) does go on a bit too long, and the last act does drag on a bit. Still, this is one of those comedies that will require multiple viewings in order to find all the jokes and “Easter eggs”.

Meaning I have at least ten or more viewings to attend, which I would gladly do.

Overall: Four Stars

****

Justice League (2017)

Justice League

Dude, let’s get the band back together!

I had many a doubt going into Justice League.

After all, it is the last superhero movie of 2017, a year that had not really disappointed at all in the genre. It also did not help to see the bad score the film has going for it on rotten tomatoes.

In the end, I liked the film, but barely.

We begin right after the death of Henry Cavill’s Superman (who, lets face it, we know is in this movie, because it would be pointless to not have the world’s numero uno superhero present). Batman (Ben Affleck, who still does a good job in the role) is recruiting certain people with “special abilities”. His first is Diana (aka Wonder Woman, though she is still never called that), still played to perfection by Gal Gadot. From there they try to convince The Flash (a very well cast Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa, who I admit took a little time to get used to), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).

The threat comes in the form of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), a God-like being set to collect three cubes that will help him destroy the world. They are spread out: one with the Amazons, one in Atlantis, and the other on Earth. It is not too hard to follow the plot, but here is where I should mention the film’s biggest flaw by far: Steppenwolf. He is one of the least memorable, most boring, and blandest villains we have had in a superhero movie (at least compared to those of the last decade). I understand any villain would have to battle against some of the biggest names in comics in this film, but can he (or she) be at least a little interesting? He is like Ultron (from the second Avengers film), but without any humor, charm, character, or a sense of threat.

Parents, if your kids have seen any film from the DC universe, they are fine here. There is action, mild violence, and some swearing. Ten and above would be fine.

Is this film better than Batman v. Superman? Heck yes. Wonder Woman? Heck no. Still, I am getting a sense that DC is starting to get their footing right when it comes to making movies. They still have a way to go (and are still behind Marvel, in my  opinion), but at least they are on the right track.

Boo-yah.

 

Overall: Three Stars ***

Wonder Woman (2017)

Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot stars as Wonder Woman, sweeping in to save not only the day, but the DC universe as well..

Perhaps the best way to describe Wonder Woman is to remember her grand entrance toward the end of last year’s disappointing Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Superman (Henry Cavill) and Batman (Ben Affleck) had finished fighting each other, and were about to be obliterated by Doomsday until Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) swoops in to save the day. Like that scene, the film Wonder Woman has finally given a good movie to let the DC Universe brag about.

Taking place long before the events of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana (Gal Gadot, who proves she is right for the part and not just because she looks like the character). She is raised by the Amazons, a group of women sworn to protect mankind. Her mother , the Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) does not wish to have her train like the others, but her Aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) sees it differently and trains Diana. One day there is a stray pilot who crashes in the water and is saved by Diana. This is Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, who is able to play second fiddle to Gadot and does a rather great job). He is a british spy who stole plans from the Germans as they are facing the end of the first World War. Diana is convinced it is the return of Ares, the God of War.

The average audience member goes to a superhero flick for the action sequences, and Wonder Woman does not disappoint on that front. Directed by Patty Jenkins (who helped get Charlize Theron an Oscar for her brilliant portrayal in 2003’s Monster), she does not rely on the fact that Wonder Woman is finally on-screen, but that there is a story behind it (and one that is, thankfully, not too hard to follow). Gadot lets us feel every inch of the situations her Diana is in (even if it involves trying on new clothes), and has great chemistry with Chris Pine (who, of course, is no stranger to action pics).

As for the villain, I will not reveal who it is, as it will ruin the surprise (though one of the evil German scientists is very menacingly played by Elena Anaya). I will say that when you find out about the main villain, it was something I personally did not see coming at all.

Parents, despite Wonder Woman wearing kind of revealing clothing (as well as the other Amazons), the only other form of sexual content is a scene where Steve and Diana are talking about the knowledge of sex (which does produce much humor). There is also a brief moment (again, played for laughs) where a male character is naked, covering his crotch. The violence is surprisingly light (I did not see any blood), and I am more than sure there was not a single curse word. Basically, Middle School and above (or if your kids saw any other DC or Marvel movie, they are ok).

The movie is not all great: there are times where the action scenes did drag on a bit (especially at the end). Still, it is very refreshing to know that DC has finally given the world a movie that can rank up with a lot of Marvel’s movies (and is better than a good amount of them).

When Diana is told that the world does not deserve her, I thought “Maybe not, but I am still glad she finally got the screen treatment. It is so worth it”.

 

Overall: Four Stars ****

 

The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

the-lego-batman-movie

Batman (Will Arnett) with Robin (Michael Cera), Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), and Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).

Even before we saw the wonder (yet somehow no Oscar nomination for Best Animated feature) of The Lego Movie (2014), Lego has give us countless laughs with Lego video game versions of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Marvel, and The Lord of the Rings (to name a few). There second movie is now The Lego Batman Movie (who also had a good video game), and it is as fun and entertaining for kids as it will be for adults much like its predecessor.

Returning is Will Arnett as Batman, who ranks up there with some of the best to play the caped crusader. His voice is (literally) pitch perfect, and (as the comedian has shown us before) he has uncanny comedic timing. He basks in how great he really is. All that changes when commissioner Gordon plans to retire and have his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson) take over. During this time, Batman/Bruce Wayne unknowingly agrees to adopt a young orphan Richard Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera), who is as optimistic as they come.

Even those who like the character Superman (who does have a brief moment in the film), more will agree that no one has better villains in the comics than Batman does, and we get a glimpse of all of them (even the dreaded condiment man). Batman inadvertently hurts the feelings of the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) when he states the Joker is not his greatest enemy. This leads the clown prince of crime to try to unleash villians from everywhere. These in include 80s monsters (aka Gremlins), Lord Voldemort, Lord Sauron, and “british robots” (aka Daleks from Doctor Who).

Parents, for the most part, the film is ok for kids (there is one joke that is a bit edgy when Batman first meets Robin), but that aside, the movie is ok for kids (I would say 7-8 and up).

Like The Lego Movie, this film has a lot of jokes adults will get that the kids won’t (my favorite is when we see Batman’s ultimate secret movie library). I have not even words to describe the stellar animation (which will give Disney animators goosebumps). It is also full of easter eggs that will require a second or third viewing.

Which I would gladly pay for.

Overall: Four Stars ****

The five disappointing movies of 2016

2016-worst

As of this moment, I am not a paid film critic, so I am not able to see all the movies I want, or even the ones I would have to suffer through (Though I do like to sit through a few pieces of trash, just so I can bad mouth them). That being said, not all of these films are what I would actually call bad, but disappointing.

In other words, here are the five most disappointing movies of 2016…

 

5.

Race

 

Jesse Owens was an athlete who gave 110% and became an athletic American icon and legend. Sadly, those who made the film Race did not give that amount of effort (at most they only gave 50%), and it shows all the poor results on-screen.

 

4.

Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice

While Suicide Squad was indeed disappointing, it was not as bad as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Ben Affleck (the one everyone thought would be the worst part) was great as Batman, but the story was all set up and little pay off. That, and Jesse Eiseberg (a talented guy, no doubt) giving a very bad and awkward performance as Lex Luthor.

3.

Me Before You

I so badly wanted to like Me Before you, I really did. Despite a likable Emilia Clarke, the story makes us believe that these characters can stick with the choices they make, and they are not at all for one minute.

 

2.

BenHur2016

It is no secret that, when it comes to remakes, the outcome is normally not going to be good. In the case of Ben-Hur, saying it is not good is a gross understatement. It is totally unneed, bland, and beyond boring.

 

1.

Independence Day Resurgence

The poster read “We had 20 years to prepare. So did they.” In the case of Indendence Day; Resurgence, no one could have prepared us for a movie so by the books, so inconsistent with the original, so extraordinarily long, and, above all, so much an utter piece of crap.

Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in “Suicide Squad”

It took me a lot of thinking as to how I wanted to respond to Suicide Squad. Like most people, I am rather disappointed it did not live up to the hype. However, I did still find some good things in it as well.

For those who don’t know, Suicide Squad tells the story (not long after this year’s earlier disappointment that was Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) of a politician (of some kind) named Amanda Waller (the always talented Viola Davis). There is a situation that is far too complicated to explain, and would also be far to boring for you to read. All I will say is that it involves Enchantress, who takes over the body of June Moone (both played by Cara Delevingne).

Waller’s plan: gather up the worst bad guys and have them take care of the situation in exchange for shorter prison sentences. Roll Call: There is Deadshot (Will Smith, who, of course, is one of the last actors anyone would expect to play a bad guy), who never misses a shot. Harley Quinn (a wonderful Margot Robbie), who is only the second craziest character in the film, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who is, you know, a crocodile. Boomerang (Jai Courtney, who gives a performance not entirely unseen in other movies). Slipknot (Adam Beach, in one of the worst roles you could ask for), who is able to escape easily. Finally, there is Diablo (Jay Hernandez), with pyro power (and regret for previous actions). The first 10-20 minutes of the film provides you with more information than I have already said (and maybe more than we needed to know in the first place).

They are under the control of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), who is also dating June Moone. Protecting him is Katana (Karen Fukuhara), whose Katana sword contains the souls of those it has vanquished.

I save the one character everyone was eager to see for last. That, of course, is The Joker, played by Oscar winner Jared Leto. Bottom line, while he does do a good job, he is not better than Heath Ledger’s immortal performance in The Dark Knight. Perhaps one of the main reasons is that Leto does not get as much screen time as we would like. I mean, in my opinion (and I doubt I am alone), when you have the greatest villian in comic book history, wouldn’t you want to see more of him?

It also does not help that the action is more of the same we have seen in other comic book films (slow motion action is really getting old to me).

Parents: The PG-13 rating is justified. There is swearing, some violence, action, and innuendo (Harley Quinn does wear some rather revealing clothing, and there is one scene in a night club. No stripping, however). High School and above.

All others in the movie do what they can. My favorite in the movie would go to Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, because she looks like she is undoubtably having the most fun. Will Smith (who at least did this and not Independence Day: Resurgence) is still possibly the most charming actor in movies today, so while he does a good job, it is still so hard to believe that he is playing a bad guy (though movie does try to remind us he has a heart because of his 11 year old daughter).

Still, as Hitchcock once said:

“To make a great film, you need three things-the script, the script, and the script.”

Overall: Two and a Half Stars ** 1/2

 

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

Batman MOTP

Moments before Bruce Wayne dones the mask…

I have come to the conclusion that one of the main reasons why I grew up a Batman fan as a 1990s kid more than Superman was that the caped crusader had more going for him during the decade (the last movie to star Superman, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, came out in 1987, and was beyond words…in a bad way. Also, don’t get me started on the video game disaster that was Superman 64).

Tim Burton’s first two Batflicks are still decent, Batman Forever (1995) is now forgettable, and the less said about Batman & Robin (1997), the better. The one film that is sadly overlooked, however, is Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993). While I have not seen any of the times the cape was worn by the legendary Adam West, I would argue that this animated film is the best Batman movie ever made by someone not named Christopher Nolan.

Based off of the highly successful (and still entertaining) animated show, the film focuses on a past relationship Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) had with Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany). Past events catch up, as a masked phantasm (though he is never called that) is killing certain mobsters, and Batman is getting the blame. Things also don’t help when the Joker (Mark Hamill, who, along with Conroy, would voice the same characters the Arkham Asylum games) is involved as well.

I know this film is over twenty years old, but I still don’t want to ruin one of the most underrated films I have seen. What I will say is that this gives the character Bruce Wayne the depth of character that was never seen till Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Every time you see Wayne at the gravestone of his parents, you get chills. You can almost feel the rain.

The film also does something that not even Nolan did as well: it gives Bruce Wayne the most realistic romance he has had on film. There are moments where you feel he may be able to actually have a normal life.

Parents, the film is PG, which means there is fighting, and little blood. There is also some kissing. That is it. If your kids are fans of the Bat like I am, you should not let them miss out on this gem of a film.

It is refreshing that, over twenty years later, the film is still fresh, dark, scary, and has aged rather well.

Overall: Four Stars ****

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice

An epic meeting of Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck).

I had a sneaky suspicion that I would not really like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. What I did not expect was how much disappointment I would feel after the credits started rolling.

I was ok with 2013’s Man of Steel (a lot better than Superman Returns), which is where this film starts off. The film begins (after showing the title of the film in a not interesting way, which was one of a number of let downs) showing us what happens to Bruce Wayne’s parents (I doubt there is anyone reading this who did not know they were gunned down in front of young Bruce’s eyes). Flash forward to the ending battle of Man of Steel (with a title card totally not needed) as Superman (Henry Cavill) was battling General Zod (Michael Shannon). It is seen, however, thru the eyes of the adult Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck).

Fast forward 18 months later, and we see Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in trouble in the middle east, but is saved by Superman. We later see (minor spoiler) that Kent and Lane are living together, meaning she has found out who Clark Kent really is (End minor spoiler). Kent wants to investigate more into the actions of Batman, while Batman (Bruce Wayne, which, again, is not a spoiler) is trying to prove that Superman really could be the destruction of us all.

The cast is not to fault here. There were a lot of haters who were upset that Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. I was not one of them, and am glad I was proven right. There are times when you can catch yourself not seeing him as Ben Affleck but as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Cavill does some equally good work as well. Other actors include Laurence Fishburn as Perry White, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor (he is not in Gene Hackman territory but he is still very effective), Holly Hunter as a Senator worried about Superman’s existence, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, and Jeremy Irons (who I have yet to see give a bad performance) giving one of my favorite portrayals as Alfred ever put on film. There is also Gal Gadot as Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman (I doubt I am spoiling it, because it is already out there in the ads).

Eventually, we know the fight between the two biggest superheroes in history will happen, and it is rather spectacular to watch. Still, watching the movie was like watching a juggler. Anyone who can juggle three items is more fun to watch that someone who only juggles two. The movie seems to be trying to juggle 14 or so at a time. When you realize why these two icons have to fight, you are not as pumped up as you should be.

Parents, the only real issue is Clark Kent getting into a bathtub with Lois Lane. She is naked (nothing shown below the neck), he has clothes on. They kiss. End scene. Also, the costume Wonder Woman wears is a little revealing, but nothing bad at all. Basically, if you kids want to see the film, they should be fine (ten years old and up).

Like all action films, this one goes on for quiet a long time. It is made by Zach Snyder (who made Man of Steel), a director who is very good at making the frosted topping, but not the rest of the cake. There are obviously good superhero movies for DC (Superman, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the highly underrated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm). In this film, very little justice is done.

It is not overwhelming, nor completely underwhelming. It is just whelming…still closer to the under part though.

Overall: Two Stars **