Thor: Ragnarok (2017) review

Rated: 2.5 / 5

I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing this.

“What’s that?  What the hell is wrong with you!?  Do you not know how to be entertained!?” you may ask/shout.  To which I would reply, “You sir/madam are too easily entertained.”  All the positive reviews this film has been getting, like just about every Marvel film released since, well, The Avengers, has been getting.  At this point I’m convinced the critics have been paid off (something I will dig into in much more depth, with proof, in a later review when that topic becomes more relevant for that specific film, never mind for Black Panther, which, for the record, I haven’t seen).

I’ve been worn out of Marvel superhero films ever since Captain America: Civil War.  I’m sick and tired of all these goddamn superhero films having the same goddamn stories, the same goddamn arcs, the same goddamn finales, the same goddamn CG overload, the same goddamn feel of coming off an assembly line that likes to play it safe and PC, with some subliminal advertising for either feminism or immigration tossed in for good measure.  This film, despite all the praise, is no different from all those other fucking Marvel films that have been coming out for the last decade, despite how it tries to have this 80s retro thing at times which just doesn’t mesh at all with what is going on.  Though I do appreciate the effort despite its failure, at least some today admit that the 80s were awesome and had awesome style and attitude, and wasn’t full of bland bullshit like much of the stuff today.

It’s all about the 80s, dude.

Guess I’m rambling too much.  Well, guess I mine as well as get on with this review.

I got a bigger laugh out of this gif than I did the entire movie.

So the first problem I noticed with this film, the humor.  A lot of people are saying this movie is funny, and it’s the funniest Marvel film to date, beating out Ant-Man in that category (which I also thought was a mediocre film, though I will admit the final fight was genius and far funnier than any of the shit in this movie).  Well, guess I don’t really share their sense of humor.  I mean sure, there were a couple moments that made me chuckle, but only a couple.  The humor in this film is forced to the extreme.  It’s ridiculous.  This film would’ve been far better if it played at least half the scenes straight, but you’d be lucky to get through a third of a scene without some half-assed joke being forcefully thrown in there.  From the opening fucking moment, with Thor in chains, dangling above the ground, turning slowly in mid-air while in a conversation with a CG version of Tim Curry from Legend except blown up to bigger proportions, and on fire.  “Up, wait a second, wait until I turn back towards you, hang on…  Ok, there we are.  You were saying?”  Shit like that happens throughout the entire film, even at the expense of moments which should’ve been dramatic and somewhat heartbreaking, like when ragnarok finally happens (oh yeah, spoilers by the way, not that I really give a shit because these films have gotten quite predictable, even without watching trailers that tend to give it all away anyway).  They just couldn’t let that moment go without inserting a joke into it, ruining what could’ve been a nice emotional moment where the protagonist looks on with sadness, and possibly regret over something he wished he didn’t have to do.  The jokes suck the life out of this movie.

As awesome as this image looks, it’s too brief and, believe it or not, played for laughs.

What else?  Oh right, the CG.  Yes, the CG is done well, it’s fine.  They even use it when Cate Blanchett is fighting off an army of people, because let’s face it, this woman in real life isn’t capable of pulling off this sort of stuntwork.  Kinda wish they would do what they used to do back in the day and have a stunt-double wear that ridiculous outfit and do all the kung-fu acrobats with it (I’m pretty sure the Chinese could pull that off, and it would be another excuse to get some Chinese people inserted into the movie so it could make a profit in China, though that didn’t work out so well for The Last Jedi).  So while the CG is fine and all, again, overload, making me not care all that much for what’s going on on the screen.  If a film is going to use so much of it, why not just make the thing animated?  I mean, for Christ’s sakes, they already have animated superhero films out there, they just need to make them more mainstream.  Considering that Disney owns both Pixar and Lucasarts and Marvel, you’d think that would be a cinch for them to pull off in terms of getting it into theaters.

To the film’s credit, there was one sequence that actually drew me in and got my investment.  When Thor fights the Hulk.  That entire sequence is the best part of the film.  Why is it good?  Why did that action scene get me invested when just about all the others didn’t catch my interest?  Because more than just fighting was going on during the fight.  Callbacks to the first Avengers film, Thor trying to get a friend to snap back into reality, Thor discovering his true powers (though I am getting a little sick of the trend, “You don’t need the weapon, the power is within you!”; a trend that was used as a parody in fucking Spaceballs, nevermind used too seriously in Wonder Woman).  There was actual development happening during the fight, and the action choreography was shot pretty well too.  Sure it had a good dose of CG, but let’s face it, there’s no way practical effects would make that fight work.  At least not in the way it was handled in this film.

You see, CG has made things too easy nowadays.  I know, you’ve heard this all before, but it fucking matters damnit!  And as long as I keep seeing movies that keep making my point, I’m going to keep bitching about it!  Back in the 80s (and earlier), because they didn’t have CG to utilize effectively and didn’t always have the best budget, they got creative with when and how to use practical effects, and how to shoot it.  Sometimes that creativity was a hit, sometimes it was a miss, but at least there was passion put into it that you could feel through the screen.  Hell, it’s even possible to pull off such restraint today.  Look at Gareth Edward’s adaptation of Godzilla.  He never overplayed his hand when it came to putting CG on the screen.  He showed just enough of the monsters and their fighting to keep you eager to see them trade blows, and showed enough of a payoff during the finale to make one satisfied.  Because he showed restraint.  And that’s an element that these fucking superhero movies are missing (and discouraged for utilizing) nowadays, restraint.  They have too much big explosive action too often and too early, without much if any buildup.  And even if it does have decent buildup, it lasts too long for what it is.  It’s like having foreplay before rough sex.  Foreplay is appreciated and nice, and the sex can be good while it lasts, whether it’s 10 seconds or an hour.  But just rushing into the rough stuff without the foreplay usually lessens the passion, and having too much sex can wear one out and make one exhausted.  All I’m saying is that there can be too much of a good thing to the point where you forget that it even was a good thing.

Fuck with me, and this is what will happen to your dick!

Well anyway, one last talking point, then I’m done with this.  This film has a pro-refugee theme to it, obviously made intentionally in this day and age for the purpose of encouraging viewers to believe that taking in refugees is a good thing.  Because of course the only optimal place to take them would be Earth, of course that’s where Loki would send Odin for some fucking reason (come on, how many other worlds are out there that he’s familiar with?  Earth can’t possibly be the best possible world Loki knows of.  You’re holding out on us screenwriters!).  Their world/country is fucked, so bring them on over to this world/country, we’ll take care of them, they’re all good people like in reality!  Ah, but whatever.  Despite that bit of subliminal messaging, it had a decent them to it about how it’s the people that are the world, that they matter more than the place, which shouldn’t be a permanent anchor for them.  And that bit of subliminal messaging is the least of the film’s problems (at least it’s not the worst of the film’s problems), and just more of a nitpick than anything else.

So, overall, this film turned out exactly as I was expecting.  Wouldn’t have watched it if not for a co-worker begging me to see it.  Well, considering I got the fellow co-worker introduced to the original Star Wars trilogy in exchange for this, I’d say it was worth bearing through this dull monotonous Marvel world again.

 

PS: And no, I’m not interested in Black Panther either.  I’m over Marvel films.  I’m willing to give Infinity War a shot (and even then my interest isn’t all that great), but that’s about it.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi review

Rated: 2.5 / 5

So I know what you’re thinking.  Will this review contain spoilers?  You bet your ass it will.  I’m gonna spoil the shit out of this movie.  But before I do that, there’s a few things I need to get off my chest.  I’ll put up a spoiler warning sign when I get to that point.  So for those who are worried about spoilers and just want to know my opinion on the entertainment level of this film, how good or bad it is, I’ll say this.  It is better than The Force Awakens, and addressed some of the issues I had with that film.  That being said, this is a film that basically did 3 steps forward, 2 steps back, which frustrates the shit out of me because it could easily have done 4 steps forward and 1 step back instead (there was know way they were going to go all 5 steps forward, not with a Disney movie).  So if you loved The Force Awakens, you’ll love this.  If you hated The Force Awakens, this might change your mind and give you some hope for the final installment in the trilogy (except that that hack Jar Jar Abrams will be back in the director’s chair for that film, which has me worried, even if it’s an improvement upon the last director attached to that film; Christ I wish Christopher Nolan would grow a pair of balls and try one of these out).  And just to throw this in, if you loved The Force Awakens more than Rogue One, go fuck yourself.

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Top 20 Censored Films

So this has been irritating me for a while now. Believe it or not, films do get censored in the United States of all fucking places (God forbid you happen to live in the UK or Australia). There are more instances than what is on this list, and for all I know there might be films with a history of censorship worse than what I’ve put on here, but this is at least a good start.

Before getting started, it’s worth pointing out some instances of censorship that are bad in their own way, but I’m keeping them separate from the list mainly because they’re censored for the same reason, and censoring the same things.

Music changes on official video releases.
* Where The Buffalo Roam
* Animal House
* Love at First Bite
* Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

In all of the above cases, the films had some amount of music altered on the DVD/Blu-Ray versions. Where the Buffalo Roam had it’s entire soundtrack replaced, and Gone in 60 Seconds also had the sound effects replaced on top of the music, which is especially bad when the film-maker was a car aficionado who wanted it to be as real and authentic as possible, from the sounds of the car engines and everything else. It’s usually because they are either unable to obtain the rights to the music, or they choose not to re-obtain the rights to the music because it costs too much. Everything is too fucking expensive nowadays.

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Beauty and the Beast (2017) review, and thoughts on subliminal messages.

Rated: 2/5

I had to take a shit after watching this movie.  That ought to let you know what my thoughts are about it if the rating wasn’t enough.  But first, the positives, while they still linger in my mind.

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Moana Review

Rated: 3/5

This movie is like Zootopia. The first 20 minutes is full of nothing but Disneyfied “I wanna live my dream, but my parent/parental figure says no” bullshit that we’ve seen hundreds of times in hundreds of other Disney movies.

“I wanna go out into the vast ocean because of my dreams and curiosity!”
“No, you must be a responsible leader and stay to lead your people.”

Yeah, like I’m going to buy any of that bullshit given Disney’s track record. But the first 20 minutes did showcase some pretty good visuals which would be matched consistently throughout the film. It’s a high bar for CG graphics that has been either matched or raised just a tad, either way it’s a beautiful film to watch. It’s a standard we’ve come to expect from Disney and Pixar at this point.

Greetings from The Abyss.

Once the film get’s past that 20 minute slog of “I wanna live my dream! But daddy says no. But I wanna live my dream! But daddy says no,” it gets a little more interesting. Moana finally sets sail across the vast ocean to find the god Maui, get his hook power back, get him to lay the smackdown on Te Fiti’s candy ass, and restore the world to its former glory with the power of the heart.

Well, certainly sounds a bit similar to Frozen doesn’t it? Even going so far as to subvert the “male hero saves the day” archetype and have two females reconcile differences so that peace joy happiness rose petals and fish feathers can become bountiful in the world once again. Well at least it made the point of “love conquers all” better than that movie Chocolate did, where that retarded martial arts chick kicks the shit out of everyone throughout the film, and then during the narrator’s epilogue speech, it just goes, “And she learned that the only thing that matters in this world [dramatic pause] is love.”

I must admit, there are only 2 reasons I wanted to see this movie. 1.) The positive reviews it’s been getting. 2.) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Oh yes, Maui does the People’s Eyebrow.

And as a Disney cartoon, of course there’s a little song and dance at several points in the movie. In that department, Frozen beats it hands down. This film ain’t got nothing on the Frozen songs. That being said, the one song that was catchy which got me humming the chorus well after the movie ended was, “You’re Welcome,”, sung by Dwayne Johnson.

Like any other Disney film, it follows the usual pattern of girl with destiny meets strongman, they hate each other at first, then they bond, then they save the world, then they both wind up happily ever after, the end. As if you would expect anything else from a company that plays it safe with just about every movie they’ve ever done. Moana and Maui. You know what, I’m just going to call them the M&Ms from this point forward.

“Oh I’m sorry, did I make you wet? You’re welcome.”

Ah, but I should start getting into specifics at this point. So that Te Fiti Island goddess that the M&Ms have to confront. And how that goddess relates to the main protagonist and Maui. So, Moana’s arc is about how the world is a rough place, be wary of the dangers of your dreams, so be strong. She learns to be strong, and learns it is her destiny to heal the world through some sort of love/kindness complex. In the process she becomes a better leader for her people.

Maui, on the other hand, is a god with a semi-tragic backstory who wanted to do good things for the people of the world, yet his last act before he went silent for the last thousand years did the opposite. Plus he’s an asshole. So his arc is becoming less selfish, less of an asshole, and more understanding and kind to the people and gods in general. Plus he has a problem with his fishhook powers which seem to get resolved a little too easily, via montage. It did result in a funny man-shark image though.

But here’s the thing, Moana is the one who ultimately rights the wrong that Maui created, with some small assistance from Maui. It ultimately doesn’t make him seem all that significant since Moana ends up accomplishing all of the tasks herself. It’s a bit off, seeing that Maui isn’t the one to right the wrong that he created. A hole is created in his arc as a result. I don’t really see why they couldn’t let Maui be the one to return the heart to its rightful place. It could’ve been done in a way that doesn’t affect Moana’s arc/development in any way. But you know, we’re in a decade of female empowerment now, so they have to be catered to for the sake of making up for the sexist Hollywood/Disney past.

But that’s not the only problem this movie has. There’s 2 other major issues here.

1.) Maui brings up an excellent point, asking why it is the Abyss water being thing doesn’t just deliver the stone back to its rightful place, considering that it’s not only more than capable of doing so, but it’s the frikkin’ ocean!

2.) Maui claims to have done things in the past for the sake of making humans better. Pulling up islands for them to live on. Stealing fire from the gods for them. Making coconut trees out of eels for them. What the fuck was he trying to accomplish by stealing the heart from the island god and making the world worse as a result? Seriously. I didn’t see 1 single benefit to that action, not 1. I mean, the stone is pretty and green and shiny at all, but what is it supposed to do? Why don’t they mention an alternative to returning the heart to its rightful place? I mean, they could’ve said something like, “This stone will cause trees of ever-lasting youth to grow,” or something like that. So with the way things are, Maui stole the stone just so there could be an excuse for this story to happen. That’s just stupid!

But all in all, the movie isn’t that bad. It’s acceptable despite any annoyances, complaints, and grievances I make about it. It has that retarded as fuck chicken which grew on me as time went on (but what about that pig!?). The visuals, again, are great. Dwayne Johnson is perfect as Maui. Auli’i Cravalho is good as Moana, providing the singing voice that Disney demands of their Disney Princesses (as they are sure to remind you time and time again). But the best part about this movie were those awesome midget pirates.

Those coconut dudes and their chalk and blow-darts and transformer ships. I couldn’t get enough of them. I wanted more of them (though not too much, I don’t want Disney milking those little coconuts like they did those yellow twinkie schlongs, which go by the name Minions). They need to show up in some other movie. In fact, this movie could’ve used more of them, letting them have a reprisal in some later scene or whatever.

Anyway, small recommendation from me for this movie. Not great, I think it’s a stretch to call it “good” from a “film as a whole” point of view. But it provides enough entertainment to make it worth seeing.

The Path to 9/11 Review/Analysis: Part 1

 

This film is banned in the United States.

The Path to 9/11 was originally released as a 2-part miniseries in 2006 on ABC, produced by ABC and Disney, written by Cyrus Nowrasteh. It’s a docudrama that recreates/dramatizes the events from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (which itself is dramatized in a made for tv HBO film titled Path to Paradise) to the actual 9/11 incident itself, connecting the dots between both events in the process.  Here’s why all of those are significant.  Cyrus Nowrasteh also directed The Stoning of Soraya M., and was one of the screenwriters for that film; that film became banned in Iran.  That film was made in 2009.  This film, The Path to 9/11, is currently banned in the United States.  Poor Cyrus has a bad habit of getting involved in films that tend to get suppressed in one fashion or another.  I mean, granted, that was only 2 times as far as I know, but that tends to be something controversial that draws a lot of eyes.

Anyway, The Path to 9/11 had a budget of $40 million, starred Harvey Keitel and Donnie Wahlberg, got nominated for 7 Emmies, and won an Emmy for Best Editing (something that will be a bit ironic as you soon will see), only aired once for its 2 night premiere in September 2006, and has never aired again or been released on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, or in any official digital format, whether it be Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.  Disney lost a lot of money due to that decision.

So that makes one wonder, how can that be?  How is it that a film/mini-series financed by Disney ABC, an emmy nominee and winner, and a film that received a respectable amount of viewers upon airing despite being on at the same time as Monday Night Football, be locked in the Disney vault never to be officially aired/released up to today?

Politics, and politicians claiming the miniseries flat out lies and fictionalizes the events depicted in the film, and the mainstream news supporting this claim and spinning the story in that way, that’s how. All of this before the film even aired for its 2 night premiere.

There’s a documentary that pretty much tells all, fittingly titled Blocking The Path to 9/11.  This blog entry is basically going to condense the information that documentary provides, but it’s worth tracking it down and watching it.  It can be purchased on this website.

The controversy started immediately after a pre-screening of the film in Washington DC at the National Press Club, but they could only show the first part of the miniseries. You know, because the entire miniseries ends up running at around 4 1/2 hours, which is too much time for a pre-screening. So they just showed part 1, which ran 2 1/2 hours. Now, here’s why this is significant. Prior to the film airing on ABC September 10, 2006, the amount of pressure put on ABC more or less forced them to make cuts/alterations to the film. I have seen both the edited and unedited versions of the film, and the only cuts/alterations I can find are in part 1. Part 1 of the miniseries focuses on the Clinton Administration time period, part 2 focuses on the Bush Administration time period.  So, after finishing the pre-screen viewing, Richard Ben-Veniste, a Clinton attorney, and a 9/11 Commission Reporter, began verbally attacking and criticizing the film and the crew, stating how the film is historically inaccurate and portrays an unjustly negative view of Bill Clinton. Note that this is opposite of the reaction many 9/11 families had towards the film at that same showing.  From there on, things got more and more insane and ridiculous until it came to a peak when a letter was written by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Charles Schumer, and Senator Byron Dorgan, who demanded that ABC either not show the film, or make cuts to the film. Failure to do so, then they would go after ABC’s broadcast license, which was slated for renewal at the time. None of them have seen the film, or so they stated publicly on mainstream news broadcasts.

Oh, and of course Bill Clinton had some negative say about the movie he had never seen as well. Just in case that needed to be pointed out. In fact, much of what Bill Clinton himself did to attack and attempt to destroy The Path to 9/11 is documented in this book Clinton in Exile, written by Carol Felsenthal.

Anyway, that’s just some of the political pressure ABC faced, along with attacks from other organizations that have ties to the Clinton Administration in one form or another. The pressure didn’t quite get bad enough that ABC was willing to not air the film and lock it up before anyone could see it (through mainstream broadcast anyway), but it did apparently get ad enough to where they made 2 edits to the film.

Edited version of first altered scene:

Unedited version of first altered scene:

Controversial sequence where they were aborted on their mission to capture Osama Bin Laden:

I should also point out that Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger, a former White House national security adviser, also spoke out against the film on CNN. He’s that guy depicted in one of those clips above, the one who cut off video feed. Now, here’s the thing. Prior to the film controversy, he faced charges of “intentionally removing and destroying copies of a classified document about the Clinton administration’s record on terrorism.”
Source 1
Source 2

He didn’t serve as much time as he probably should have for pulling that stunt, and on top of that, he got back into the political game later on. Justice, and media bias, all wrapped into one package.

Anyway, Scholastic, you know, that teaching/book company, was initially planning to encourage and endorse the use of this movie, The Path to 9/11, as a teaching tool for school classes, but later bowed out due to pressure from the political left.

Oh, right, and you must be wondering, what about Bush? What was the Bush administration’s view on the movie? What did they do? As far as I know, they didn’t take a stance. They did nothing. I’m also pretty sure they bitched less about Fahrenheit 9/11 than the Clintons bitched about The Path to 9/11. But I do believe George Bush actually said that he wanted more face-time on The Path to 9/11, even though part 2 of the miniseries didn’t exactly favor his administration favorably.


Source

Anyway, so of all these complaints about the film being historically inaccurate… Actually, let’s talk about that for a minute. How many docudramas out there are historically accurate? How many are inaccurate? How many just flat out falsify events for the sake of drama? I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to conclude that most of them are probably less accurate than The Path to 9/11 is. I mean, they’re docudramas. If they wanted to aim for 100% historical accuracy, they would be documentaries. That being said, the film-makers have stated time and again that they not only tried to be as historically accurate as possible and minimize the amount of liberties taken for the sake of dramatization, but this film has an unprecedented amount of fact-checking and oversight to make sure things were gotten right. They had members from the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and Air Traffic Control, among others, who were on set to make sure everything was historically accurate.

“The fact-checking on THE PATH TO 9/11 was of the highest standards. I would gladly put its veracity up against any docudrama ever made. In fact, over Labor Day weekend Disney/ABC brought in outside counsel to double-check the factual basis for the script (all 350 pages of annotations and their sources), and they concluded that it was rock-solid.” — Cyrus Nowrasteh

That being said, there is one thing that I know of that the docudrama did get wrong, which they admitted to in the Blocking the Path to 9/11 documentary. At the beginning of the film, one of the hijackers attempts to purchase a American Airlines ticket at the New York airport on September 11, and an alert comes up on the screen, saying that this man is potentially dangerous. But they let him have his ticket and let him go on his way despite this. That didn’t happen, at least not on that day at that airport. This happened on the same day at an earlier time in Portland, Maine for a regional airline flight that had a partnership with American Airlines. In any case, American Airlines decided to speak out against the film for this error.

But aside from that, which, come on, that’s a small error, and the message was still there that the warning signs were around but they went unheeded; aside from that, the film is fairly accurate with the events.

So with all the controversy, all the political backlash, all the media bias, all the personal attacks (you should really see the Blocking the Path to 9/11 documentary for more details), the 2-part miniseries aired on September 10, and September 11, 2006. It aired commercial-free both nights. The ABC president went from intending to air this film annually every September, to never again. This film has never aired again, has never been released in America on VHS, DVD (I heard Canada might be selling), Blu-Ray, has never had an online digital distribution (an official one anyway), there has been nothing of it since. Disney refuses to release it, or sell it to a distributor who will release it. The 10th anniversary of the film’s one and only air date comes September 10, 2016. The 15th anniversary of 9/11 comes September 11, 2016.

What about the quality of the film itself? Is it good? Is it bad? Was it worth all the controversy? Or is it just not that entertaining, and thus it would be better to read a book on the events rather than watch the 2-part miniseries? Well, that is something I will cover in the next review. Spoiler alert, you should track it down and watch it.

To be continued…