Spider-Man No Way Home Review


We have made it. It’s time for the big Spider-Man film to end the trilogy. This one really didn’t get a ton of promotion as Marvel was trying to keep things as hush hush as possible. It’s rare to see this nowadays for most companies but Marvel’s been leaning more into this strategy lately and it seems to be an effective one. Of course, you’ve probably seen a lot of things unofficially since it’s really impossible to squash the leaks nowadays but officially we were in the dark. The film really succeeds on this journey and in the end it’s one of the best Spider-Man movies.

The film picks up right where the last one left off with Peter’s identity being confirmed to the world. He’s quickly trying to get his life back together but it isn’t easy as a lot of people are on Mysterio’s side and thinks that Parker is a menace. Well, Peter is forced to ask Dr. Strange for help, but doing so causes a lot of issues within the multiverse and now Peter must contend with some of the most dangerous fighters around. Can he manage to take them all down and keep everyone safe or is he about to be totally overwhelmed here?

Now of course there is a whole lot more to the story and yet as most of it wasn’t shown in the trailer, I won’t go beyond that here until the spoiler paragraphs later on. Lets run through a lot of the things the film did well right off the bat. The action scenes are really excellent. We see Peter pulling off some solid web combos like in the video games. Flipping people with his webs in order to land a body slam, doing an air reversal into a kick, etc. It’s nice to see him getting creative with his powers and there was one part in particular where he used the shapes and debris around him to really come up with something special.

The movie is long but never feels that way. There’s always something going on and we get a ton of action. The only part of the film that goes on for a bit with no fighting is the first act and I was still glad we had that because I was a bit worried that we wouldn’t deal with the fall out from Far From Home long enough. That was a really big deal so I’m glad we got to see some of the effects here and how everyone had to deal with their own difficulties. Of course the action is what will really draw you in but the story was sound from start to finish. The writing is really good here.

Of course you also have a really good soundtrack with a lot of variety. Since you have many big themes here including ones from the classic Spider-Man films, that makes for a very complete soundtrack. There’s even a Christmas song that plays near the end of the film. I would have liked to have heard some themes a bit longer like Electro’s but you do have to be careful to stay on the line of being nostalgic without going too far and I think the film handled that really well.

Peter is at his best here from the trilogy. At this point he’s an experienced hero in his own right and is able to handle the situations without needing help. His early scuffle with Doc Ock is a good example of this. You have Peter going up against someone he’s never fought before who has a creative moveset and our hero is able to adapt and quickly counter attack. This is the right way to handle such a threat and he protects everyone in the area.

Now, things do get intense for him and he starts to make some mistakes near the end. There’s definitely one moment in particular where he really loses himself but ultimately he does make the right decisions and ends the film on a high note for his character. I think we’ll be seeing Peter continue to look better and better as the films go on and I definitely appreciate how the character arc has gone. I’ll be interested to see the plot summary of the next Spiderman film.

I won’t say much about the villains here but they were all portrayed well and really faithful to their older movies. Green Goblin really steals the show in all of his scenes. They show why he is one of Spiderman’s biggest enemies and their 1 on 1 fight early on in the film is easily my favorite battle in the film. It’s nice to have someone who can keep up with Spiderman physically. Electro is quite solid here. I liked him in his original appearance as well but he may have been improved here with how confident he is the whole time. unlike the others, Electro really has no doubts about what he wants to do and his goals. The guy is probably more power mad than most but it makes him a really solid villain.

Sandman also gets a solid role here. I liked him a lot in his first scene with how quick on the uptake he was. I do miss that we don’t see his human form here much though. The all sand form isn’t quite as visually striking as seeing him morph into different shapes as he fights. Finally you have the Lizard but his role is the smallest by far to the point where I wonder a bit if there was a subplot for him that got cut out. There are several points in the film where it feels like he is planning something only for it to not actually happen.

Then we have Peter’s allies like MJ and Ned. Well, I’m not the biggest fan of these two but they do contribute which is always important. MJ’s catchphrase about keeping your hopes low at all times may be pragmatic but it’s certainly not a fun approach so fortunately she changes that up by the end. She’s always got Peter’s back and I do think it made sense that being carried through the air on the webs wouldn’t be fun immediately. A lot of the time you see characters just not reacting much but as someone who isn’t a big fan of heights, I’d also not be too thrilled about the whole thing. For Ned, his character arc goes in a much different direction than I had expected. I wonder if it will actually go anywhere at this point or if this was just a for fun kind of thing. Either way he’s okay I suppose, Ned’s also a loyal friend to Peter.

Dr. Strange is the main mentor figure here and he performs his role really well. As seen in the trailers he and Peter definitely have very different viewpoints on how to deal with the villains. They argue quite a lot in the film that’s for sure. It’s nice to have him here though since guest stars are always a lot of fun and his scenes still have the crazy magical effects that always accompany his battles. He can really do quite a lot with his spells but you get the feeling that they are easier to use if you’re aiming to destroy someone as opposed to just stopping them. That said, his lack of speed is a key weakness that can be exploited. He was a blast although there was one plot detail I wasn’t a big fan of which will be in the spoiler section later on.

Jameson is also a lot of fun of course. It would have been great if they could have squeezed in his iconic laugh at some point but either way it was just a lot of fun to see him here. He really nails every scene that he is in. He even gets some good shots in against Spiderman when they finally get to talk. Without spoilers I think that’s about a wrap on all of the good things about the movie. I consider this one to be great and so it does succeed on all areas. So you may wonder where it stacks up in the greater Spider-Man universe. Well, I have it in third now as my updated ranking would be:

Spiderman 3>>The Amazing Spiderman 2>>No Way Home>>Spiderman>>Far From Home>>Homecoming>>Spiderman 2>>The Amazing Spiderman. This one neatly jumps into the third place spot. It’s just a lot of fun and will have a ton of replay value. I’m confident this is the kind of film you could watch quite a few times. It’s all just so fast and polished that you won’t be bored when replaying the intensity of it all. In terms of weaknesses, I have a few but nothing big. They’re small things that are enough for me to note but don’t really hurt the score in any way.

So this isn’t a Thanos situation where you can understand why in and out of universe a ton of people were defending him. Here we have a whole thing with stickers saying Mysterio was right and a lot of people being on his side but it seems a little more far fetched to me. This is a guy who showed up out of the blue and died shortly afterwards. I would think Spiderman has earned a lot more credibility with saving people all the time where most would not side with Mysterio. I’d also have liked to have seen SHIELD or another secret group show up to help Peter out a bit. It really felt like he was on his own. I mean you have Happy Hogan from Stark Industries but it’s not like anyone else was backing him up from the company. War Machine doesn’t show up or anything like that.

The film does a good job of making most of the fights short enough where you wouldn’t expect any heroes to make it in time so that explains why more heroes don’t appear. I think the climax is a little harder to buy since the battle location was televised for the world to know about in advance. Definitely I think some people should have showed up there but that’s still a small item. The other things are spoilers so that’s for later.

As for the debate with Strange and Peter, well I would have to be on Peter’s side here although it may be more appropriate to say I’m on May’s side since she fights for this a lot more than Peter at times. The issue is about sending the crossover villains back to their timelines to be murdered by Spiderman or to keep them here and think of a better way. While Strange talks about destiny and fate, the fact is that the fate no longer applies since they have been taken out of the universe. So Peter is right to try and save them all. Taking them back to die would effectively just be murdering them. It’s like my old time travel argument about how you are obligated to use it to help people but that’s a full conversation for another day.

Now, the Spider Sense could be a little inconsistent here. It would work sometimes and it just wouldn’t work at other points. At one point Spiderman is stabbed and another point he is shot and both times he didn’t know anything was coming until after he was hit. At best you could say it’s that if he gets too tired then the Spider Sense doesn’t work…but I’m not quite sure I buy into that. Not one of those big deal moments but I don’t think either blow should have worked. It’s tough to write the film in a way where Spiderman isn’t too broken with the spider sense of course but it could have been put to greater effect here.

So yeah this was definitely a great film and there’s certainly lots to discuss after watching it. I look forward to hearing about any easter eggs and references that I may not have gotten the first time. The film certainly had a ton of those and callbacks so that was a lot of fun. Now, if you haven’t watched the film yet I will say to skip the next 11 paragraphs as this is where I will start my spoiler discussions. I’m going to call all in here so just keep scrolling down until you see my next sentence in bold which will signal that the spoilers are over.

All right, now we can really dive in to some other areas of the film. First off, the biggest plot twist in the film even if everyone knew it ahead of time which is that the Spider-Men of the first two film series get to show up. As soon as Doc Ock and Electro were confirmed people assumed this had to be the case but even so it’s surreal to see them all interacting like this. It would have been difficult to have ever imagined that all 3 would meet even just a few years ago. It’s really nostalgic seeing them, particularly the original Spiderman. After watching endless memes of the first films like the Bully Maguire videos, it’s cool to see him back in the role.

He was always my favorite Peter Parker version and had the best films overall. He is portrayed as the wisest of the 3 and gets all of the best lines. They bring back the whole “my back” meme which was cool and at the end of the film he really gets a big moment. In the theater one person even had to criticize Andrew’s version “He just stood there!???” because of how Tobey showed him up but it showed that at the end of the day, the original was the only one ready for this. I was really pleased with his appearance here and of course the original two Spidermen do have a little skirmish at the beginning. Lets just say I was happy about the outcome as well. It’s just amazing to see him back in action like this.

Still, Andrew’s character was also solid and I have considered him to be the most powerful Spiderman as well as the best version of the character wearing the suit. He knows how to have a lo of good banter the whole time and is also very experienced in his own right. It seems like he went down the wrong path as well at one point but he’s back in action now. The film pokes fun at how down he can be all the time so Tobey even tries to cheer him up a few times. Andrew gets to have his big moment by the end as well.

It was also great to just see the 3 teaming up against a common foe like this. The 3 on 3 battle was also just really nice and chaotic. It also makes sense that only the newest Peter knows how to fight in a team since the others were strictly solo acts the whole time. We also get a quick appearance from Daredevil which was really nice. The Netflix cast have finally been affirmed in a big movie which is great. He certainly got a big reaction from the theater and got some hype. Naturally I would have liked him to have appeared more like getting to try and help clear Peter’s name further or something but I’ll take what I can get.

Now as a minor detail, we find out in the film that Dr. Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme. He lost it on a technicality to Wong….which I’m not a huge fan of. Cmon, that’s Dr. Strange’s whole thing. He needs to be the Sorcerer Supreme and I’d like to see him just yank the amulet away from Wong. Additionally, Wong doesn’t seem to be doing a great job in his new position from what we could see. So even on a technicality it’s just not worth letting him keep this role.

The movie has two after credit scenes. The first one involves Venom and I won’t go into detail here but I didn’t like this. It basically makes the scene from the Venom scene absolutely pointless. If you’re someone who just watches Venom movies then you could possibly skip the after credits scene there, watch Venom 3 and not miss anything. Technically something happens here which will help set up future events in the Spiderman movies, but the whole thing just felt like the ultimate bait and switch. I never like when an after credits scene ends up feeling like it was filler or a waste. Put it this way, if you can skip the scene and never notice that you missed something, then that’s a problem. Like how quite a few of the RWBY after credit scenes were either retconned or replayed in an episode, I don’t want the MCU to go down that route. Plus I was really looking forward to some hype things about to go down here.

The second scene is a big improvement. We get a nice look at what’s to come with the Multiverse and even the super villain Scarlet Witch will be returning. I’m still beating the drum on how she is one of the biggest villains around and the heroes haven’t really acknowledged this yet. Enslaving a whole town for so long was crazy…but we’ve been over this so I won’t dwell on that for long. All I’ll say is that Strange better watch his back rather closely.

Now as we start to close out the review, I wanted to take a look at how the final memory spell works and the universe hopping/time travel. So at the end of the film everyone loses their memory of Peter Parker so it’s like he never existed. He thinks about reconnecting with his friends but just keeps it moving which is probably a good bet. At the same time, Spiderman has still been active the whole time and the timeline seems pretty much the same as always so everything still happened. So, were all the events the same as they were and everyone just forgot or did reality switch to remove Peter from every event? In route 1, Peter would have still hung out with Ned for years and any dual accomplishments they made would still exist but I guess in sci-fi style the photographs would no longer have Peter. The issue here is there should still be tangible evidence of his presence just by the fact that Spiderman is alive. It would be a ton of reality wiping to remove him from being on the planet while still having Spiderman around.

In the second route, well, Peter simply didn’t exist. Spiderman was effectively a universal construct like a robot that accomplished actions on his side but there was no Peter Parker. You feel like things would have diverged a lot though considering the events of the first film and how differently the interactions with Ironman would have been. So the first route makes the most sense but does leave you with a lot of logistical questions. It may not matter all that much but I always like thinking these things through since I love sci-fi concepts like this. So ultimately I have my doubts on this actually working short of Strange putting a mental block inside of everyone to automatically choose any alternative over recalling Peter which is constantly active. I don’t think we’ll go further into it but it is interesting.

Then the other thing to think about is how the villains were saved. So with the multiverse we know this will just create a new branch where they are alive but the original events of the films will still be the same in a different timeline. Lets focus on the new branch. So if Goblin survived in the first film, I have to assume that would have a significant change on the second film with Ock and that would have an effect on Spiderman 3. It’s possible it wouldn’t change anything too big but with the ripple effect it could be the opposite. Then at what point do they port back to their world. Is it at the moment of summoning? In that case, Ock may still start drowning as he wakes up in the water clutching the device, a powerless Electro is going to wake up in the grid where he is fried and Goblin wakes up with no powers as the glider is heading towards him.

It may make more sense to say they are summoned back at earlier points but it does make you think about it. It would be quite ironic if they were ported back only to immediately die afterwards. That would be a bit dark though so lets assume that was not the case. Still sad that Venom didn’t get to appear though as he was really the odd man out. Even Rhino at least got a silhouette near the end, I didn’t see any for Venom. He probably wouldn’t have even pretended to have been a team player though. So that’s it for dissecting all of the sci-fi rules here. For the memories I’m going to say it’s effectively a sort of brainwashing as opposed to reality warping so everything happened but people “can’t” remember as a psychic block prevents them from putting together the many clues that they would come across. For the other universes, I’ll say the cured villain shows up near their point of death but not at the exact moment so that way they each get to survive. I don’t imagine there will be a need for the film to go into it further so that’s at least my head canon on this. Now I’m just looking forward to seeing how Peter does in his new status quo. Things will definitely be different for him, that’s for sure. The possibilities are endless

That’s the end of the spoilers. Now we’re all back in action for the conclusion of the review.

So before I end it off, I’ll give Peter’s school a quick shoutout here. While one of them seemed like a really ungrateful guy who was being awfully petty to a teenager for no good reason, the other members of the faculty were on point. I like how they at least tried to make Peter feel welcome in what would definitely be an awkward situation. I’m sure they were risking their reputations in doing so as well and it really showed that this was a good school. There wasn’t time to focus on the school too much but I just thought it was a really solid scene.

Overall, No Way Home was a blast. I wonder if we’ll keep the whole “Home” naming convention for the rest of the films or if it’ll be time for something different with the next trilogy. Either way I hope they fast track the next film as we always need more Spiderman films around. Whether you’re a fan of the character or not, you should have a really good time here. The film is really a blast and makes for a fun watch from start to finish. There’s a good amount of humor and action here as well as some solid memes. It properly continues the storyline from the last film and leaves you with a lot of ideas for the next film. There are a lot of ways that it can all go down so we’ll have to stay tuned.

Overall 8/10

12 Angry Men Review


12 Angry Men is certainly a classic film. It’s one that just about everyone’s heard of and it’s very well known for its quality writing and interesting plot. It holds up very well on a rewatch and is just as engaging as it ever was. The movie manages to stay engaging even with the characters never leaving the main room for the majority of the film. This is definitely how you want to do a jury film and it’s hard to picture any film doing it better.

The case that the 12 Jurors have to rule on involves an alleged murder. Supposedly this kid on trial murdered his father before being captured by the police. The evidence is mainly based around testimony from a lady who saw the murder from a train, and an old man who stepped out of his apartment in time to see the kid run off. When the jurors go into the room to deliberate, 11 of them immediately believe the kid is guilty. They just don’t see how you can go against two direct witness testimonies like that but one juror is not convinced and still has some doubts. Can the 11 convince him to give out a verdict of guilty or can he get them over to his side?

After all, the only way you can rule guilty is if you believe that there is no room for doubt here and that this had to have been what happened. Also, a jury must be unanimous in its decision so if there is one person who disagrees then you have to keep debating until that is no longer the case. After a period of time if no agreement can be made then it is considered a hung jury and a new group will end up being selected.

The movie does a good job of still leaving the case up to your interpretation as the characters disclose their facts. It’s fair to say that one side will appear to be more likely than the other by the end or at least that there has been some established room for doubt. If you still believe that the accused is guilty then that’s fair as well, the film doesn’t really try to force you into saying that one side is flat out wrong or not.

If you’re voting for the side that says the accused is innocent, you do have a lot of things working in your favor. After the characters broke down the testimony from the old man who says he made it to the door in time, it does seem like it would have been difficult to make it to the front door in time. The timeline doesn’t add up without something being different as reported. Likewise the angle of the stab wound was different from how you would expect someone to use it and the train was moving very quickly.

On the side that says he’s guilty, you’ve got the fact that the knife was on the scene of the crime. It seems to be a rare knife although the main character was able to get one which puts that into question. You do have the direct alibi’s of the two witnesses and while the side that says he is innocent would say that they are lying, it’s just as possible that they aren’t and their time limits were off by a few seconds.

So whichever side you pick, there’s some good arguments to be made. The film isn’t really about seeing which side is right though so you won’t find that out by the end. It’s all left rather open which is also fair since in most cases as the jury you’ll never truly know if the person was guilty or not. You just make the ruling as best you can.

As mentioned, the writing is definitely great here. The time really passes by even though it’s 100% dialogue based. The characters may not have names but they all have core personalities. One of the best members was likely the chairman who did his best to make sure that everyone was taking this seriously and working in an orderly fashion. It’s not easy trying to take charge but someone had to do it.

You had the advertiser who was having a good time. He got distracted very easily compared to the others but he didn’t seem malicious or anything. The guy just seemed to always think of new ideas. There’s the main character who really wanted to give the case the importance it deserved. When the others were ready to leave in 5 minutes he held firm. You have to give him a lot of credit for sticking his ground even when he was outnumbered 11 to 1. It’s not an easy thing to have to face the crowd like that, especially with some of them being really tough about the whole thing.

One of them just wanted to go and see his Baseball game after all so he wanted a quick guilty verdict so he could leave. Then you have the one who is really against kids due to some personal issues. These two make this an even tougher situation since they are hardly going to be listening to reason. The film was smart not to make them the only ones on the guilty side though or you’d run the risk of making one side so antagonistic that it doesn’t appear to be a fair fight.

The main reasonable member in that camp was the guy with glasses who likes to look at everything logically. He feels it’s less of an assumption to take the testimonies and evidence at face value as opposed to believing they were all lying and/or incorrect. The best back and forth exchanges are often the debates with him as each side has to carefully take in each item and discuss it thoroughly. That’s exactly how these kind of discussions should go down.

Overall, 12 Angry Men really ends up keeping your attention at all times. It’s really a simple plot when you think about it and this underscores that any plot can make for a great movie if the execution is done well enough. The crew in charge of the movie held nothing back and so this ended up being quite the hit. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to check out a good movie. No matter what genre you may like, this one is just good cinema and can appeal to anyone. I’d be up for more jury based films. It may be tough to beat this one but an attempt should at least be made as there is a lot you can do with this concept.

Overall 8/10

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the latest Marvel installment, Shang Chi. This one’s been getting a lot of hype for the hand to hand fights and it delivers on this. It’s got a great balance of action and humor so in the end this movie has a ton of replay value. You’ll have a blast from start to finish as you go through the journey.

The movie starts by introducing us to Shang Chi’s father Wenwu as he wipes out army after army. The opening scene is like something out of Dynasty Warriors as he can use his rings with such speed that it appears to be a forcefield which blocks incoming arrows. That was definitely implemented really well. After that he ends up meeting Wenwu and they get married. Shang Chi and Xu Xialing are born and we then cut to the present.

Shang Chi and his best friend Katy work for a hotel as they drive cars around and enjoy their job. They have a good bond of friendship going for them but Katy’s family want more for her. One day the two of them are attacked by a group of assassins. Shang Chi fights them off but not before they steal his pendant. This means that Xu may be the next target so the two head off to go and help protect her. Can they protect her from this group led by Shang Chi’s father or is she already doomed?

Right off the bat the opening fight scene in the modern day sets the tone well. It’s really good with minimal use of cutaways so you can follow the choreography. Even as someone who did think that the Black Widow fights were really good, it’s night and day compared to this one. The hand to hand is very high energy and the train fight is probably my favorite fight in the film. Likewise, Widow’s first big action scene was my favorite so I guess I just really like the way these films tend to open. they’re doing it right, that’s for sure.

The battles continue to be solid throughout the movie though. Whether it’s the fight on the roof top or the climactic showdown, you can always expect a lot of hype. While this is usually more of an anime movie trend, the movie even decides to go for a little Godzilla type action at the end. It’s not quite as solid as the rest of the fights but it’s always good to see the creatures getting some hype. I’d consider the battle before that to be the true final battle for the combat while this is more of a general climax.

The effects are definitely on point as well. The creatures have really epic designs and lighting for their attacks. I also like the way the rings are used in combat. It’s very much in the style of what you would see in the Tron films. It’s a very versatile weapon and if Shang Chi keeps those to use in combat for future films he is going to be very tough to beat. Certainly none of the street level fighters can handle him.

As for Shang Chi himself, he’s definitely a great lead. I did see some talk about him being too merciless and going for the kill, but I definitely didn’t see that. For the most part each fight is always from a self defense angle. Yeah you’ve got enemies being thrown out of buildings and moving buses but there’s no easy alternative there since he’s in the middle of a huge fight. So just putting my two cents into the ring to say that Shang Chi was definitely a full hero here and I didn’t find him to be going too far in any of the fights.

He does have a moment where he nearly does cross the line and the film’s clear in showing that he was about to, but ultimately he doesn’t. That would be the only true example you can use. His upbringing and origin do explain this fairly well though and he certainly had to deal with a lot. All in all, I thought he handled his past and present really well. Shang Chi’s the kind of guy you definitely want to have in your corner at all times. The movie also did a great job of showing just how good he is at hand to hand combat. Throughout the whole film it’s fair to say that he didn’t lose any fights straight up from the present and beyond. He always had the upper hand.

In the comics he was known as the greatest hand to hand fighter for a long time. I don’t know about currently, but at least in the days when I was reading comics. I imagine the films will be going that route too so this was a great way to show it. I look forward to seeing him interact with the other characters because he has a lot of good banter with Katy in this movie as well. Shang Chi’s very charismatic and that’s why I would put him as the best character in the film. Ultimately he really excels in all of his roles.

Katy is also a solid heroine. She has a lot of fun lines as well and knows not to take things too seriously. In general the film had a really fun script for all of the characters but in particular Katy is one of the characters that stands out. She even gets to contribute towards the end of the movie in an action setting which is nice.

Shang and Katy also have two friends in the film who only appear for two scenes but both are worth mentioning. It’s nice seeing the characters openly talk about their heroic exploits and everything rather than trying to hide them like you would expect. It’s a nice turn of events and it’s such a big contrast to how Peter Parker is handling the whole situation. Yeah the situations are a wee bit different I’ll grant you, Shang has less people he needs to worry about. Still, it’s a very Iron-Man type move which is always fun.

As for Wenwu, he’s definitely a very solid main villain. The movie’s going for more of a sympathetic vibe for him sort of like Thanos. Ultimately he did try to put his weapons away at one point and suffered the consequences for it so you can see why he never takes the rings off anymore. Honestly he probably never should have taken them off but that’s more of a hindsight thing and he was trying to do his best. So in the present you can definitely root for him because if there was even the slightest chance that he was correct then he had to check for himself.

So I don’t blame him for going as far as he did and that’s what makes him a high quality villain. He can also fight really well which is also nice to see. Old age hasn’t really hurt him in a lot of ways, he’s thousands of years old and still kicking. His wife Ying may only appear in flashbacks but she definitely looks really good as well. I liked her fighting style and the powers she used were quite impressive. It’s a shame that the powers can’t follow you out of the village because with them she would have been extremely hard to defeat. Her meeting/battle with Wenwu was a great way to introduce her.

Then you have Xu who is also solid. She did well to build her own empire for underground fights. I question how she is able to get in some heavyweights like Wong and Abomination but maybe there are a lot of benefits to being in the tournament. As a slight power levels issue, I do think the Abomination looked way too weak here. I’d like to say it’s a different Abomination to be honest. That’s my little head canon in case he never appears again because otherwise that scene did make me shake my head a bit. There are a lot of ways the fight could have had the same outcome but I wanted to tell the film to check it’s route at that moment.

It’s the only scene I questioned in that case though. All of the fights were presented well and everyone got their time to shine. Back to Xu, she definitely proved herself very well in a fight. Her skills may be a touch below Shang’s but they’re still quite formidable. She’s definitely not an opponent you want to underestimate.

In general the film had a fairly stacked cast and that’s definitely a big part of why the film is so solid. Even the side characters are fairly memorable like one of Wenwu’s main subordinates who is missing a hand. He’s definitely a solid minion. There’s also Trevor who does have an effective opening scene but I will say that he’s best in small doses. I don’t think you really needed him in the film after a little while.

All right, now these next 3 paragraphs will quickly be for spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film yet or the recent MCU shows then definitely skip these three paragraphs. It’s going to be time to do a little speculating here. All right, so I’ve noticed a bit of a trend here. In Wandavision we saw Scarlet Witch as the main villain as she knowingly tortured a whole town of civilians and by the end of the show she’s getting sucked into the DarkHold. In the Cap & Winter Soldier show, we found out at the very end that Sharon is actually compromising the U.S. intelligence for money and is a fairly reputable information broker in the under world. Finally in the Loki show we see Sylvie turn to the darkness at the very end and set course for a new timeline. (At best you could say she just made a dubious call and isn’t as downright evil as the first two but it’s a tough case to make) Here, we end the film with Xu taking over the 10 Rings instead of disbanding them for presumably shady reasons.

You can cut Xu some slack but if this trend is anything to go by, she will be a villain soon. So, what is going on here? Are these all isolated incidents or is something going on here? Personally, I think it’s going to be something like the MCU version of the Sinister Six. It’s going to be a group of 6 female villains who band together to take over the world or something. Wanda brings the power, Sharon has the intel, Xu has the manpower, and Sylvie has more magic which is never a bad thing. For the trend to continue, we’ll need to see if some other players are introduced in Eternals, She Hulk, Spider-Man, or Dr. Strange. Still, it does seem like something’s going on.

Also, while Nick Fury was the main figure head for the first few phases as he connected everything, it seems more and more like that will now be the role for Dr. Strange. He’s going to have a role in the Spider-Man film, Wong is here in Shang Chi setting up some future elements, and you’ve also got the Dr. Strange film coming up. Seems like the Sorcerer Supreme is going to have to start earning his paycheck as the ultimate sorcerer with everyone messing around in the universe. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how that unfolds. End spoilers

I can’t close out the review without also mentioning that the soundtrack was really solid. There were a lot of great tunes here and so I thought the music selection was absolutely on point. The scene of the guy stepping out of the car only for us to see that it wasn’t Shang Chi was also a good fake out. Again, the film’s humor was always on point so even when there weren’t big fight scenes you were having a lot of fun.

Overall, Shang Chi definitely lives up to the hype here and is a great film in this phase of the MCU. I really didn’t have any issues with it and I’m certainly ready to see him start appearing in more of the films going forward. Shang Chi could easily work as one of the central figures going forward since I can see him having good banter with just about anyone. There’s still a whole lot you can do with the Ten Rings as well and we’ll see which film is the first to connect to this one. It’s the MCU so you can bet that there are a lot of plans in the works. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you’ll definitely want to change that.

Overall 8/10

Fast & Furious 6 Review


The ride must go on. Fast Five ended up being my favorite title in the series but little did I suspect that it would get surpassed so quickly. 6 takes everything I liked in the 5th film and then adds on to it. We get a lot of great fight scenes and character moments here. The series holds onto its strong family values and makes it across the finish line in record time.

The movie starts out with Hobbs realizing that he’s up against a villain group that can’t be taken down easily. Usually he doesn’t need any help but this time is an exception. He grabs some intel from one of the villains pretty easily and then sets about recruiting Dom and the old gang for one last ride.

Dom and friends are all millionaires who are having fun around the globe so it may seem hard to recruit them right? Well, not when you have the right ace up your sleeve and Hobbs has a doozy. See, there’s a photo of Dom’s old wife Letty around and it seems like she’s riding with the villains. That should be impossible since she is dead but if there’s even the slightest chance that she is still alive, Dom can’t waste it. He quickly agrees to help. Still, can these heroes stop this new villain group or are they simply outmatched here?

One thing I really liked here was how quickly everyone dropped what they were doing to help Dom. It shows that the money didn’t change them. They’re still a very close knit group and show up when the call goes out. Dom doesn’t have to talk to them for more than an instant to get them on his side. There’s no complaining, whining, or any of that. They’re just ready for action no matter what it takes.

It keeps on reinforcing the family aspect of the series. Dom always explains that these guys are his family and you don’t give up on family. You help out whenever you can with no second doubts. It’s hard to think of any series where the main characters have such a close bond. It’s just nice to see and immediately puts the film in a good spot so far as knowing who to root for and getting you personally engaged in the fight.

As always Dom is a great character here. He really doesn’t waver and hasn’t gotten sloppy in his driving skills. It’s safe to say that the film still portrays him as the best racer in the series. You could maybe make a case for Brian matching him but under pressure you want Dom on your side at all times. When the chips are down he won’t fail. The guy is also the better hand to hand fighter. Dom is a natural leader and just doesn’t back down. One of the more impressive scenes is when he’s face to face with Shaw and doesn’t even flinch when a gun is pointed at him.

Brian has his own subplot here where he breaks into a jail to try and find out what happened to Letty. Ultimately he doesn’t learn a whole lot to the point where he comes back and Dom doesn’t even want to hear what he learned. That said, it was a huge risk and Brian proved that he was willing to do whatever it took to find her again. He also proved himself in a fight as he took on several opponents at once.

Brian’s always been a fun character. He gets overshadowed by Dom but I like the guy and it’ll be sad once he’s gone. His wife Mia doesn’t get to appear much this time around but she encourages Brian to help the team out. She’s still a team player for sure. Elena also doesn’t do much here but you can pretty much see why. With Letty back on the table you can basically confirm that her romance with Dom can’t last.

It’s why I was never on board with that romance either way. It seemed like a rebound no matter how you slice it. Letty would certainly have good reason to be upset about this as well although everyone takes it in stride. Hopefully Elena returns and we can see her in more of an action setting next time.

Of course Hobbs has a big role as you’d expect. He sets the tone right away with how he beat up one of the minions in the interrogation room. That was pretty impressive and it showed that he is just as obsessed as ever with bringing crooks down. He may be a lot more by the book compared to Dom’s crew but he’s willing to be flexible. He has a pretty fun scene with Tej when they have to round up some cars. Most importantly, Hobbs can still fight and comes in clutch during the climax of the film with the 2 vs 2. As a driver he’s slightly below Dom’s crew but holds his own surprisingly well considering that isn’t really his thing.

His new teammate in this film is Riley. She’s pretty solid and gave us the first big fight scene of the film against Letty. I would have to say that was one of the better fights in the movie, there was a ton of back and forth there. It’s definitely not The best fight of course since the climax threw in some big ones but it was a blast. Riley’s also no nonsense and can fight really well. She also knows how to take a hit and keep on going. She left an excellent first impression and always leaves the opponents guessing.

Tej is pretty good at getting the cars set up and planning things out as always. He may not get quite as much to do as some of the other characters but always has good banter with Roman. Likewise, Roman is a pretty charismatic guy. Not all of his jokes land but he does have a lot of fun moments. His lack of fighting skills do get exposed at one point but he does keep getting up so you can’t doubt his determination.

Han may not get a big role during the film but it’s certainly a memorable one. He’s always got a lot of confidence in Gisele and lets her do her own thing. When she moves in on a villain he just moves onto the next one because he knows she has this covered. Gisele does well with her gun and consistently makes accurate shots from long range. She has to be the best shooter on the team by far.

Then of course you have Letty. She isn’t quite herself during the film due to some memory loss. Of course you’ll be wondering how she survived. The film explains how this happened which will answer any questions on that. It doesn’t really make sense why someone did something which allowed her to live though. She makes for a good antagonist and definitely has a lot of fighting skills. I can see a lot of potential for battles in future films as a result. She has a solid character arc.

As for Shaw, he’s a solid main villain. After watching the trailer for Hobbs & Shaw the whole time though I was waiting for a certain twist that never happened. It makes the experience pretty unique to be sure but he still stands up well as a villain in his own right. He can’t fight but is a smart villain who plans for every contingency. The heroes never make a move without him being ready for it. His futuristic cars were also impressive both in how fast they were and also for their raw strength.

The rest of his villain group wasn’t too memorable though. The one who gave Roman and Han a good fight was impressive but good luck remembering his name. The rest of the group doesn’t get a whole lot of dialogue or anything beyond their initial scene though. It is cool that the film set them up as a dark version of the main characters though. They may not have had a proper team fight but it was still cool.

The battle scenes are the best that they’ve been. My favorite fight out of all the films is probably Hobbs vs Dom from Fast Five but this one just has many fights on that level back to back. There is a lot of nonstop action here so something is always going on. You’ve got different climaxes and high tension moments with both sides making move after move. It’s all extremely entertaining and also high quality. This is definitely what you would expect from the series.

The only weakness I would say the series has is the never ending fanservice. As always whenever the heroes go for a rare drive you’ve got everyone dancing on the cars or walking right into the camera. It’d be nice if the films could tone down this aspect and just focus on the fights. It’s not as heavy as in other titles though and the positives still outweigh this negative to a pretty high degree so it shouldn’t hurt your enjoyment of the title.

The writing is on point and has a lot of good humor moments throughout. The film is fairly long and since it has a fast pace that means you can expect a whole lot of adventures here. Fast & Furious 6 just keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. It’s sort of like the non comic book version of the Avengers (2012) in terms of tone and action. Things even get pretty serious by the end as the film actually does have a body count. While the movies always end on a high note, the gang certainly goes through their share of trials. The soundtrack is also on point. The series always has a lot of different tunes that bring a lot of energy to each scene.

Finally, we can’t miss talking about the end credits scene. This was pretty hype and I always believe you should end your film with a cliffhanger like this one. It’s probably the most hype end scene since Tokyo Drift. We see an event from that film in a new light. Turns out that what happened to Han was a lot more personal than expected. It may be a retroactive change but it’s a solid way to make Tokyo Drift even more important all of a sudden. The new villain is also immediately going to be one of the better FF villains. You can tell from this scene that he means business.

Overall, Fast & Furious 6 was very impressive. This one is going to be extremely tough to defeat but I look forward to seeing how good 7 is. We’ve still got the full cast here so I am expecting it to be pretty good. I wonder if Brian will get a bit of a power up to keep up with Dom and Hobbs or if he will still mostly be more of a support fighter. With that stinger at the end you definitely know that 7 is about to get personal. Dom’s family will need to be ready to meet this challenge.

Overall 8/10

Black Widow Review


Black Widow is a film that feels like it’s been in the works for ages. After the Avengers 2012 film there was already talk about a potential solo film. I know a lot of people wanted a whole film about Budapest, others wanted a prequel even further back in the red room. Ultimately we would finally get the solo film now, which takes place after Civil War. It’s a pretty good place to put this film in, I would say the only other area that would have worked would have been the multi-year gap between Infinity War and End Game.

The movie starts off with showing Natasha as a child where she grew up with her parents and younger sister. Their life was pleasant for a while but one day they had to suddenly sneak out and head back to base. Her life was thrown upside down and then she went to work as a Soviet agent until eventually she was able to break away into the Avengers. I would say this was the best way to handle her early childhood.

Personally I would say the film starts off slow. It doesn’t really pick up until we go to the present which is precisely why I never wanted a full prequel film about her childhood. It could be interesting to see her as an assassin and you could pull off a film like Salt but in general I’m always a lot more interested in seeing the present. Yes, this isn’t the exact present but it’s not too long ago. This way you still see scenes of her past without having a 2 hour experience about it which seems like a fair balance.

So the movie truly picks up with Widow on the run from the government after Civil War. Aside from Captain America, the rest of her team was already captured. Widow has had enough of this and intends to vanish forever into another life but suddenly gets thrown back into the fray when she is attacked by the Taskmaster. After suffering a complete defeat, she heads over to her sister Yelena for some answers. Turns out that the Red Room is still in operation so Widow is going to have to confront her old ghosts one more time.

The opening action scene with Taskmaster is definitely solid. Taskmaster gets to show off his good hand to hand skills and copy abilities from the comics and Natasha fights well as always although she is definitely out of her league in this battle and goes down quickly. It’s a good way of getting her back into the fold and effectively forcing her into the action. It also showed how she would still make the heroic call in the end such as when she went for the vials even though she had been looking forward to some down time.

Lets start with the film’s strong points. The action and effects are top notch as always. The hand to hand fights are on point and I like how the objects as used in combat. Taskmaster has his shield while Natasha uses whatever items she has on hand. The different locations all look really good and there are a lot of different environments here to be sure.

The soundtrack is also pretty good. We get some Russian opera styled music here during one of the opening montages and some classic action tunes. While I wouldn’t say any might be a complete standout, they work out well for the scenes that they’re in and help to enhance the moment.

Yelena is a great new addition to the universe. Historically I’ve always liked her a lot more than Natasha as the Black Widow. She tends to be more of an antagonist but I’m nowhere near close to being caught up with her character so maybe she is usually a good guy now. Either way she brings in a lot of the witty lines in the film. While it’s clear that Natasha is more skilled, she is also older than Yelena and got a lot of great experience with the Avengers. Give Yelena some time and she can catch up at some point.

Yelena loves poking fun at the other characters and it works really well for the dynamic here. She was definitely the standout character here. I also liked Natasha’s mother Melina. As a strategist she also has a lot of good plans and is integral when helping the other characters out. That said, she did have a really suspect scene involving a pig as well as the implications that this has. While they play the sympathy card a lot, I can’t see her as anything other than a complete villain.

There’s some good setup to the rest of the universe as well although this is squarely a Black Widow film. The after credits scene is pretty low key for the most part but the final part has a lot of solid implications for fights coming up. Lets just say that the person who is about to be hunted should be in a lot of trouble since I think he’s outmatched here. Maybe he’ll surprise me though. I’m not really feeling the new Nick Fury type character yet since I prefer his mysterious approach to the “fake friend” tactic this one likes to try. Still, should make for an interesting confrontation down the road.

Finally, I’ve always liked the concept of the rogue agent who goes back to their roots. It could be someone who used to be evil or just someone who needs to do an impossible task. It’s the very concept of Mission Impossible, but I’m thinking of more solo operations like Salt, Resident Evil, John Wick, and other titles like that. They can get rather intense but the story itself is always very compelling. The same goes for Black Widow as Natasha has to tap into her old skills which may be rusty at this point.

After all, as a kid even before growing up in the Red Room she was a tough fighter and even more so after completing her missions. As an Avenger she had to learn how to fight as a hero which means no lethal moves and as a result she couldn’t go all out anymore. Hawkeye even gave her a straight fight in the first Avengers film which likely wouldn’t happen in her prime. That said, with how easily she handled Yelena, it’s clear that growing rusty is not a problem in her case.

Black Widow is definitely in the top half of the Marvel Cinematic films. There are enough films now where it’s tough to rank them all but it’s squarely under the top tiers like the Avenger films but above all the Phase 1 titles (Not counting Avengers) and others scattered across the phases. It’s a great film and only the 6th 8 star film I’ve seen in 2021. There’s a lot to like here.

Now for the film’s weak points. I thought it went way too far in making the Red Guardian as useless and comedic as possible. Sure, his personality can be fun and some of his humor moments do land, but couldn’t he have looked good at least once? Strength is his whole thing but he fails in his break out scene, gets humiliated by Taskmaster, and ultimately doesn’t win a single battle. I’m not familiar with him in the comics so maybe he always gets wrecked but it felt a little overdone. He deserved at least one quality moment without the rest of the team constantly dunking on him.

I was also underwhelmed by Taskmaster. I wouldn’t say he was a bad villain, but…he’s just not Taskmaster. We’ve seen Marvel do this with several big villains like Mandarin and Ultron where they just don’t feel like their normal selves and this would have to be put into that category. The first red flag is when he doesn’t talk at all during his opening fight. Seems like a robot with no personality. I can get behind the costume being the weakest Taskmaster design yet since it’s passable but this guy just doesn’t feel like Taskmaster. Where’s the bragging, witty dialogue? I’m used to a fairly talkative Taskmaster.

His role is also a lot smaller than you’d expect so he doesn’t the time needed to look particularly impressive. You have 0 doubt that Captain America, Black Panther, Bucky, and a bunch of other hand to hand fighters would crush this version of him with ease. So he was on the disappointing side, good in a vacuum but I think they just should have called him something else and kept the Taskmaster title open for the future. Who knows, maybe there will be a twist and we’ll get another Taskmaster soon.

Now lets talk about Natasha, I was a little quiet about her in this review so far if you’ve noticed. Retroactively this movie really makes her character look shaky at times and downright bad at others. Now, you know a big part of the plot is that the red room is still around, but Natasha was super sure it was gone. So the film goes into why she thinks this is the case…and it makes her look a bit naïve.

She really didn’t do much inspecting to see if this was really the case. She went to extreme lengths in her quest for vengeance as well. Now you can put some blame on Shield and her partner for believing someone who just turned to their side without having someone else watching the situation but at its core this is Natasha’s issue. Characters make mistakes in their past and this was a long time ago…but it’s a rather huge mistake. The film will explain what I’m talking about here with her plan to destroy the red room but I’m keeping any specifics out for spoilers.

Even more egregious is the fact that afterwards she never actually tried to find Yelena or any of the others. This feels a little convenient since that would have also told her that something was going on. A lot of the film is about Natasha trying to correct her past and trying to be a better person now. It’s what she was talking about with her ledger being red a while back in the early Avenger films so we see exactly what she was talking about. I’ve never been a Black Widow fan and this film doesn’t help matters.

It’s part of why I was glad to see Yelena showing up since she’s always been more fun and this film keeps that up. Still, Natasha does do well in the fight scenes and still proves to be the critical character needed to stop the villains. Without her here there’s no way the others would have been okay. She’s started her first step on the redemption journey by finally thanking the guy who gets her all her equipment and tech. I felt bad for him the whole film so at least it’s a start because that guy deserves a lot of gratitude for always coming through.

That’s it for weaknesses. I mean, the main villain is pretty bad but he’s really a non factor here. The guy is just around since we need a head of the red room but that’s the extent of his room. He can’t fight and can only rely on Purple Man type powers to keep himself in the fight. It’s also another chance to make Black Widow look bad since you’d think she could resist this but I guess the powers of science cannot be defeated.

Costume-wise, I preferred Natasha’s outfit here to the usual Black Widow one. Granted, the old version is a lot more fitting to the title but I do like to have a change of pace once in a while so this was a really good way to flip things. Also, it worked well for the snow scenes. I missed the sky fall gunfight scene from the trailer though. I wonder if it was made only for the trailer or if it got so much bad press about the bullet dodging physics that they just scrapped it. I hope it’s the former because it’s still a great concept for a scene and would have worked really well at the end. Maybe just tweak the scene a bit to show her dodging but then we’re good.

Ultimately my favorite action scene in the film was the opening battle with Taskmaster. Part of why it’s so effective is because of how sudden it is. Taskmaster just appears out of nowhere and starts the fight right away. If not for the fact that he can only focus on his objective, Natasha would have been completely finished off there. The match has a lot of tension and the night time background works well since it feels like there is absolutely no backup. If Natasha were to die here, it would be easy to cover up and even the Avengers may be at a loss.

Widow was also caught off guard so it’s not like she had her gear. You really see how tough a hero is when they just have to fight as they are. You think of moments like Steve being attacked at his home by Winter Soldier, Tony’s house being attacked in Iron Man 3, or Catwoman breaking into Bruce Wayne’s house in Dark Knight Rising. Usually the hero is caught flat footed and gets wrecked but when they’re able to put up a good fight you gain a lot of respect for their survival instincts. I’ll give Natasha credit here, she did put up a good fight even with no prep time despite the combat disadvantage.

The writing is really on point as well. While the Red Guardian may be the comic relief character of the film, I thought Yelena had all the best jokes and funny one liners. The conversation about how Natasha is always posing before and during her fights was fun. Yelena even gives it a shot on her own at one point and the fact that the pose is immediately recognizable does support her point there. Whenever she is around you can expect a lot of fun dialogue. You do get a very genuine feeling from the Guardian in his lines too but I don’t believe his talk about Captain America. He would get folded like an old lawn chair if he tried to defeat Steve. The other characters could have probably cut him some slack since he’s been trapped in jail all this time though.

Overall, Black Widow’s definitely a great film. It’s may have the slowest start to an MCU film but really turns up once we get to the present when she’s trying to evade Ross. That’s when the film gets great and then it keeps up that momentum the rest of the way. The action is on point and as always Marvel has a ton of great backgrounds and environments to fight in. The film may be 2 hours long but it really ends in a flash. You won’t even notice the time and it’s a title you can safely recommend even to people who have not seen the other Marvel titles since her story is fairly stand alone.

Overall 8/10

A Slight Case of Murder Review


Whenever you have a film about a mobster trying to go legit it tends to be quite fun. This one is definitely no exception as things get quite tricky for Remy as he tries to do things the right way. The dialogue is quick and snappy with a lot of tight pacing throughout. Those are all the hallmarks of a good gem in the rough and this movie doesn’t disappoint. You may not have heard of it before watching, but you won’t forget about it afterwards.

The movie starts with the era of Prohibition ending. People are throwing parties and drinking as much as they can to celebrate. The only people not happy are Remy and his cronies since they had made a ton of money selling beer on the black market. They were the only game in town so everyone had to buy from them. Now that it’s legal again that ends their racket. Remy has decided to go straight though. He’s convinced that people will still buy his beer so he turns his headquarters into an official brewery. Unfortunately nobody wants to buy from them though since Remy’s beer is the absolute worst. He doesn’t realize how bad it tastes though. The worst part is that he is flat broke. Will he be able to earn enough money before the government takes his home away?

There’s certainly a lot of tension for Remy here since any day now he will be out of business. The bank certainly doesn’t hold back when they are coming to take their funds. They won’t listen to any talk about extensions or things like that. They just want their money and they want it right away. Naturally there’s some temptation to go back to his crooked ways as well so this is something he’s trying really hard not to do.

A fun part of the film is how into it his wife Nora gets. She really transitions into a formal housewife right away. Occasionally she slips back into more casual terms when talking though but it’s hard to keep up the act 100% at first. The mobsters are less thrilled about this to be sure but they keep on following orders as needed. They also try to help with getting the money and everything. Sometimes it works and sometimes it just makes things even tougher so it always depends.

The movie’s humor tends to be on point though. The jokes move at a rapid pace to the point where old jokes can end up turning into new ones as the film goes on. A lot of the time you can see some of the jokes coming as the characters have misunderstandings but the execution is always on point so it works out. Each character is good at talking fast and subtly insulting the others without it being too obvious. It’s certainly a talent and a pretty good one to have at that.

I should mention there’s also another plot going on here. Remy’s daughter Mary is engaged to someone and she wants him to finally meet her folks. What he didn’t tell her is that he has become a state trooper which is naturally not an occupation that Remy is a huge fan of. This leads to a lot of drama between them. Remy’s got a pretty tough personality so he easily walks all over that guy. Even this plot is used to contribute to the ending of the film but as a whole also serves to keep the movie nice and packed with a bundle of plots.

We also can’t forget the kid. Remy has a tradition where he takes one of the kids from the orphanage over to his home for the summer. It’s surprisingly a really nice thing of Remy to do so even when he was a crook at least the guy did give back to the community. This time he ends up picking the absolute worst kid at the orphanage and this guy is naturally going to cause trouble. He smokes, drinks, and in general has a bad attitude the whole time. Fortunately Remy’s group are used to dealing with tricky characters. In particular the main minion, Mike always ends up having the upper hand with the kid.

He did surprisingly well in fact. Usually the kid gets away with absolutely everything but here Mike was always on him in an instant. That’s definitely what I like to see here since it can be annoying to see a kid just wrecking everything. Here that never happens and the kid even helps out a bit even if it wasn’t his intention. With how the gang was helping to correct his spoiled attitude maybe he will even be a better kid when he eventually makes it back to the orphanage.

What really helps this film maintain its status as a great film is how well written the characters are. For example, Remy makes a lot of mistakes but he is still a pretty cunning guy who is always ready for what comes next. With people constantly throwing new twists and wrinkles at him the guy still comes up with new plans on the spot. Nothing can slow him down. When he ends up having to think of a way to get around dead bodies, loads of cash, and a state trooper he is able to conquer each obstacle. It’s easy to see why he became the leader of the mob.

Overall, A Slight Case of Murder is a great film that I would definitely recommend. At the same time it’s a fairly simple movie so there’s not a whole lot to say. At its core it’s a comedy where everything always happens in a rather extreme way so Remy is kept on the edge the whole time. The writing is on point and the movie is really over in a flash. The sheer high tempo of the jokes and scenes can be overwhelming if this isn’t your genre of comedy but I would definitely say to give it a shot and see what you think. I’m confident you’ll leave with a satisfied experience.

Overall 8/10

Inside Man Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

The Inside Man is a classic bank heist kind of film but with it taking place around Wall Street that’s a pretty fun twist. You’ve got everyone trying to make a move so there are a lot of plans and counter plans going on. Effectively this is exactly my kind of film because I like to see how the debates play out as each side tries to take the lead. Most of the film keeps you wrapped up in the suspense so you won’t get to see the answers until near the end.

The movie starts with everything being rather normal at a bank until a few people show up and take the whole place hostage. They do it rather quickly, so quickly in fact that nobody even dies. Clearly these guys are professionals so Detective Keith is called in since the usual guy is on vacation. Keith tries to discuss terms with this guy but Dalton, the leader of the criminals, isn’t talking. He is sticking to his demands and does not want to change his terms. He wants a jet, and a lot of assurances before he does anything. Keith can only do so much on his end but time is not on his side. After all, the hostages currently hang in the balance. Which side will give in first?

And that’s really the tone the movie is going for here. Both players are effectively facing off against each other in a game of poker. They each have an ace or two up their sleeve and a whole lot of bluffs to work with but at the end of the day one of them is going to have to make a move sooner or later. There are also a few other players in the arena though since you can’t have the film go so linearly.

First up, we have the owner of the bank Arthur. He is hiding something important in the bank and is worried that the robbers may end up leaving with it. He is forced to call in the mysterious Madeleine. She is willing to help him out since that’s basically what she does. She doesn’t concern herself with the moral implications of what is going on so long as she is paid. There are some good back and forth conversations with these two characters though as she does also make it clear that if he is hiding anything relevant to her mission then the deal is off. She does need to know a certain amount in order to claim victory here after all. It’s not as if this will be an easy or safe job for her either since she has to deal directly with the bank robbers.

For Keith this is also pretty stressful since it is effectively his first big case. There’s a whole lot riding on this one and he is given a tempting offer from Madeleine involving how this plays out. Can you in good conscience take a bribe like that? The film opens up with an exchange where Keith basically says that if you’re doing your job most of the time and take a bribe at some point, you still did a net good for society so it works out. Foreshadowing or something to subvert? It’s just something extra to think about.

The film always gives you a whole lot to think about in each scene which is part of why the film is so good. There are many different plots and storylines going on here at once and all of the characters are quite solid. It makes for a very engaging film from start to finish and one that does not have any weaknesses. The climax does not disappoint and the actual journey is also a lot of fun. There’s a lot of replay value to be had here just because the writing is so good. It’s properly engaging and all of the characters are pretty reasonable. Even the random hostages all have a good amount of personality between them so you aren’t likely to mix them up at all.

Throughout the movie, we get flash forwards where we see Keith and his partner talking to the hostages and trying to figure out if any of them were in on it. It’s a dangerous tactic because for one thing, it means that we know some details about the case. Clearly the hostages survived and the thieves were not stopped or at least the heroes suspect they weren’t. In some cases it could wreck the suspense like a certain George Clooney film I saw a while back but in this case the execution was good enough where this worked out.

The standout character here would probably be Madeleine. Her confidence is just a lot of fun and I like wild card characters like her who come out of nowhere to shake things up. The villains were also pretty solid. Dalton’s definitely a thinker and has some pretty good plans throughout the movie. He was clearly one step ahead of the other characters the whole time. There are a lot of twists involved of course so I can’t really go into the motivations of the robbers but lets say that Arthur’s secret is indeed a big one.

The film certainly paints him as a pretty bad guy relating to what’s in the box. It’s not the kind of mistake you can really just walk away from. Keeping the proof of this was also a horrible mistake on this part. Even if a part of him wanted to keep this in order to atone for it…it definitely didn’t pay off this time. It’s also hard to really feel if the guy is sincere or not. Personally I assume he probably is not. Even the shady mayor in this film seems to be a lot more trust worthy. Just about everyone is hiding a few skeletons in their closet in this film though so they all fit in rather well together.

Overall, Inside Man is a great film. It really tells a complete story with a lot of compelling elements and characters along the way. The writing is fantastic with all of the various exchanges between the heroes and villains being quite compelling. The movie even throws in a decent amount of humor here and there that works well within the scene like the debate about the trains. As I mentioned, the film has no weaknesses which is a big deal for a mystery like this. It means you can just watch straight through and really have a blast here. Even something like the hold up itself which can usually be rather vanilla was handled really well as we saw exactly how much the robbers had already planned like the scene where they split everyone up. It’s like something out of Liar Game, only the heroes don’t have a genius of their own to counter these guys. The ending to the movie is satisfying so if you like mysteries or heist films I highly recommend checking this one out.

Overall 8/10

The Best Man Review


It’s been a little while since I’ve seen a political thriller so this was sure to be fun. A lot of times these old school films tend to be pretty fun with both sides trying to one up each other. The writing is strong here and so the film ends up being pretty great. There’s a few things I definitely would have done differently but at the end of the day you’re definitely going to be quite engaged the whole time.

The movie starts by first showing us William’s side of the story. He is a guy who wants to be President but isn’t quite as aggressive as the other candidate. He prefers to think things through slowly and then get to the right answer. He tends to hesitate a lot more when it comes to using the more under handed kind of tricks and wants to win in a clean fight. The issue is that he doesn’t like his rival Joe and believes that the guy isn’t the right man for the job. William is having troubles with his wife who is really only here for the power but it looks like things are going to break down between them plus William has had a troubled history of cheating and a breakdown.

Then you have Joe. Joe believes in the ole attack first in all situations and you’ll be okay. He tries to find dirt on all other candidates so that he can knock them out of the picture. He has no hesitation about using illegal means to find these items as well. Naturally that’s why he doesn’t like William since he feels like the guy isn’t tough enough to be President. Joe really serves as the main antagonist of the film since I would say at the end of the day William seems to be the true main character although both of them get a lot of screen time.

I should say that both of these candidates are from the same party so whoever wins the nomination will then be fighting the other party’s candidate. In theory they will all need to band together after this, but whether they will or not is another story. That’s really the premise of the film so you can imagine there is a lot of back and forth debate between them. I would say the only weakness in the film is that the characters only meet up twice and don’t really get to mix it up much beyond that. As it is the first time mainly had a third character in the mix so they weren’t actively debating each other and in the second meetup there wasn’t much time.

I would have set this film a little earlier so we could have had an actual debate with both of them fielding questions and attacking each other. I think there’s a whole lot they could have done with that. Still, their meetings are solid and the writing is just top notch here. Each character is desperately trying to win in their own ways which just are not compatible with each other. No matter what, one of these guys will have to lose.

Art is a big character here since both candidates want his nomination since it could tip the scale either way. William tries to nudge Art in his direction while Joe openly threatens him. Again you can see the big difference in each of their respective styles. Art’s a solid character and he does pick one side over the other. He does get quite frustrated with both characters as the film goes on though since Joe doesn’t pick up on hints well enough and William just doesn’t act. I’m sure Art wishes he could have just run again instead.

He was always a good voice of reason though so I liked the guy. Ultimately I would say Joe was the best character in the film though. He just made for a great antagonist with how over the top he was and how determined Joe got. Joe was willing to do anything he could such as in a long scene where we see him detailing the dirt he has on every candidate. He is also quick to break the rules if it helps him get what he wants. It’s all done in a rather serious fashion though so don’t think he is suddenly getting cartoony. The guy is ruthless but also quite smart about it.

Then you have William who does try to take the high road a lot of the time. He does seem to regret a lot of the mistakes he made early on his career and that is probably why he wants to stay on the up and up now. His approach of going through things slowly does seem like it would be dangerous though. He’s a good foil to Joe either way since they are polar opposites but it’s why he also doesn’t stand out quite as much.

There are a few supporting characters of course like the wives for both candidates. Joe’s wife was easily the more supportive of the two and she was fun to be sure. William’s wife made it clear she wasn’t thrilled about any of this but at least she was ready to support him in public and by the end they have a bit of a character arc. There’s also a lady who follows both of the candidates around a lot as she represents the woman’s division and gives advice on what the first lady should do. She made for a fun character on the side and at least the characters know she will always be there if they have a question on what they should do next.

Naturally the worst character here is Sheldon who seems like a con artist the moment he walks in. He takes years to actually get to the point and is always trying to start his sentence over. His nervousness is so over the top that you can’t help but distrust the guy. It just doesn’t feel like what he is saying can possibly be legit if he’s acting like that. It was interesting to have a guy this shaky running around but he couldn’t compete with the other characters.

Overall, The Best Man is definitely a great title. I liked the back and forth as we saw both candidates talk about their plans. Having dual main characters is always an ambitious idea that can pay off big time when it is executed well. As for the ending, I feel like the plan would ultimately backfire in most cases but here it sounds like it paid off. Bravo I suppose, but it always feels like such a decision is betraying everyone who was in your corner. I’d definitely recommend checking this out if you like to see a classic battle of wills. It’s a shame we couldn’t have a formal debate but you still get a really good understanding of each character’s position in this thing.

Overall 8/10

Woman on the Run Review


Woman on the Run is a very old school noir title that makes for a good thriller. The film definitely feels like it ends rather quickly but the movie has fast pacing so something is always happening. You’ll also have to decide who you’re rooting for since in this case each character has a reason for why they’re either running or in pursuit.

The movie starts with Frank walking his dog when he witnesses someone trying to arrange a solid deal for himself. It clearly wasn’t the right move as the guy gets shot and Frank almost meets the same fate. The cops quickly show up and explain that this is relating to a mob investigation and the guy who died was going to be the big witness. They now want Frank to be the witness. When he askes if he will have any real protection they basically say no so he dashes out of there. Inspector Ferris is forced to ask Frank’s wife Eleanor for help but unfortunately the two are having a bit of a rocky time in their marriage and she is very uncooperative.

Despite her front with the cops, Eleanor is a little concerned particularly when she finds out that Frank has a relatively serious health condition and needs some pills as soon as possible. She heads out to find him only to be caught by a reporter named Danny. He decides to tag along with her since he really wants a scoop. Will they be able to find Frank before the cops do or are his days of running over?

First off, while I understand this is an important case for the police, I absolutely get why Frank would bolt. The fact of the matter is that he wouldn’t have much protection. If the case falls through or the guy doesn’t get convicted, they will hunt him down right away. Even if he is convicted, depending on the size of the mob they will certainly retaliate to send a message. In both scenarios Frank is taking an awfully big risk whereas if he escapes, as long as he stays out of touch until the trial is over then he’s set.

Escaping for so long would probably be tough nowadays but back then without cameras and such it wasn’t such a tough plan for him. What helps is that Frank has a lot of friends all over the city. It’s a case of Frank’s good deeds ultimately catching up to him here which worked out well. We don’t see him for most of the film but the guy’s a likable character. He’s got a quick wit as well and just does a good job of staying one step ahead of everyone.

Eleanor is really the main character here and she does a great job. She gets a lot of the best lines in the first half of the film as she constantly has something sarcastic to say about about Frank. It’s clear that she isn’t even trying to help solve the case either. She is very much a person who likes to do everything on her own and this is what leads to her own personal investigation. It also helps her understand Frank more and leads to a solid character arc there.

As for Inspector Ferris, he’s a good guy. He may have the rather unpleasant task of having to search for Frank right now but he seems like a good guy. Ferris is also thorough in his searching and does pick up on a lot of clues. The ones he doesn’t quite win are clues he couldn’t possible understand since they are based on experiences only Frank and Eleanor would know. Ferris also has good aim with his weapons and doesn’t freeze up under pressure. He’s someone that you will want to have in your corner.

Then there’s the reporter Danny. Well, he’s fairly clever in his own right but I can’t say I was a big fan of the guy. He was openly flirting with Eleanor quite early on despite the fact that she is married and has a hard time recovering from that. He does come in handy with helping get her through the plan to find Frank but that’s about it. He’s a crucial part to the story and it was nice having someone who was trying to compete with Eleanor intellectually but he doesn’t quite stack up against the other characters.

Where the film really shines here is with the writing. It’s a classic race against time with everyone trying to find Frank. The film isn’t doing anything wildly different or being super ambitious but the execution of the plot is quite strong so it really works out. The movie has no real weaknesses. Everything adds up and turns this into a great film. Each character comes out of this stronger. Frank was a little over the top with trying to be a perfectionist even if it meant bringing no money in so by the end you feel like he’ll be better with this. Eleanor didn’t always take the right message from things but wouldn’t actually talk about it and now I think she would be ready to have more of an open dialogue. I don’t think Ferris would really change but he doesn’t need to anyway since he already did well.

Overall, Woman on the Run is a great film. Sometimes it’s a simple film like this that can really shine because then everything is all on the writing and this film delivers. If you like a solid thriller then I’d recommend this film. Don’t expect a ton of big action scenes or things like that though as this is more of a low key adventure. We do have a real climax though but you shouldn’t be here for the fights in this case. It’s more about finding Frank and getting some answers out of him.

Overall 8/10

Godzilla vs Kong Review


Crossovers are always quite hype. It’s always an excellent way to increase the hype for the movie plus it gives you a chance to pick a side. Are you Team Godzilla or Team King Kong? The staff also confirmed early on in the production cycle that this film would have a true winner since the biggest cop out is when you have a crossover with no actual winner. Longtime fans will remember I’ve been on Team Godzilla since day 1 tweeting out funny memes about how Godzilla would win and why he would. Atomic Breath is a deal breaker before you consider his physical advantages. Of course nothing’s a certainty leading up to a big fight like this so I would just have to wait and see. The monster verse has been going strong and this would have to be the strongest film in the series. We get a solid amount of action and the writing was on point.

The movie starts with showing how the government has managed to build a dome around Kong’s island to watch over him and prevent Godzilla from taking notice of him. Both of these titans have defeated every Kaiju who would dare stand in their way. Godzilla is determined to prove that he is the best so he will approach if he ever senses Kong while Kong will not submit to any other being. This delicate balance has been held for 5 years but the dome continues to take damage from Kong’s attacks so the humans have decided to change tactics. They will have Kong lead them to the Hollow Earth but can they do that before Godzilla attacks?

Meanwhile you have the more light hearted plot where a conspiracy guy named Bernie who is trying to uncover the secrets behind Apex. He believes that this company is why Godzilla has been getting more aggressive lately so he is on the case. He meets up with Madison and her friend Josh as they try to help out. Now, I’d say it’s clear from the start that the Kaiju are going to have all of the exciting scenes while the humans are here for the jokes. So you just want to make sure that they are funny and fortunately the movie does succeed here.

Bernie carries all of these scenes and is easily the best human I’ve seen in the monsterverse. Single handily you could say that due to him most of the human scenes are actually quite solid. He gets a lot of great lines like with the whole tap water test, tricking the guy with the apple, and trying the old janitor trick. He’s a very quick thinker and also grills Josh quite a lot. Without him the human scenes would have been a little dull or at the very least just felt like filler. Thanks to him I can actually say that this subplot doesn’t hold the film back from the action segments.

Josh is a very weak character though. He’s really just in the film to get roasted by the others. So in a sense it’s good that he’s here since some of the better lines are at his expense but as a character he’s the weakest one in the film. Madison is decent and at least she is able to hold her own with Bernie. I wouldn’t say she stands out much more beyond that. The other human plot is the one that’s going for more of a serious vibe.

You have Nathan who is trying to get past a tough situation since his brother died a while back. You may wonder why that is even relevant since it never really gets brought up after that or affects his character, but the film does want to make you emotional there I guess. Ilene is also a scientist who gets a big role along with Nathan since her daughter Jia is a central figure here. Again, she doesn’t have much personality like Nathan though and doesn’t get to do much in the film despite all the screen time.

Jia is a solid character though. Her bond with Kong is handled well and the idea of them being friends is fun. It’s similar to Gamera’s bond with the psychic from the Heisei trilogy. The other characters are always trying to get her to manipulate Kong but I’m glad that she never put him in any bad spots. Then you have the main villain who is your classic villain for this kind of film. He’s dealing with forces that can’t be controlled and all but at least he’s always ready with a speech and absolute confidence. You definitely need that when you live in a world where Kaiju are running around.

Now with the humans out of the way lets talk about the Kaiju. For every crossover the build up is important so you see both characters before the fight. Before the film even starts you already had some hype as every monster sent to Skull Island was vanquished during King of the Monsters (A scene that they should have put more emphasis on if you ask me since that was a really solid feat) and the whole lore about their races being at war in the past. As you could probably tell from all of the promos and such the film was playing Kong out to be the main character and that’s true here as well. He’s effectively the underdog in the fight so usually as a result you want to give him more of a focus. He gets more sympathetic scenes and is just shown to be a nice guy thanks to his relationship with Jia. Compared to Godzilla who is going around trying to prove he is the strongest, Kong is content to be on his island if the humans would just stop bothering him. He’s certainly got a great portrayal here so I’m sure his fans will be satisfied.

Meanwhile Godzilla definitely looks solid as well. He gets a lot of hype destruction scenes and he is actively seeking out all of the other Titans to conquer them. He’s clearly looking for battles which is nice because he is supremely confident in his abilities. The film shows what a monster he is too as he takes a ton of punishing shots and always gets back up. Most of the time it seems like he isn’t even injured and given that he survived a fall from orbit in the last film, it makes sense that not much would actually keep him down.

Naturally I can’t talk about the fight itself much without going into spoilers but it definitely delivers. The film was true to its word with a clear winner in both fights. Both combatants got to show off their strengths with Kong utilizing his dexterity and agility to really land a lot of punishing shots while dodging Godzilla’s atomic breath. Meanwhile Godzilla showed off his massive power and durability as he eventually just overpowers his opponents. This was the fight everyone had been waiting for so the back and forth action is quite intense.

Of course I can’t say who wins but you will be glad to hear that there is a significant amount of action here. Sometimes of course you can get worried that the Kaiju wont appear enough or for a while like Godzilla (2014) where you had to wait until the climax for the big fight but here we get multiple action scenes. You’ve got the really big fights of course but then smaller ones with other Kaiju as well. Low key there’s a bat type Kaiju that looked really good with the strangle hold it has. It was a nice showing of how even an unassuming Kaiju can be deadly if you let your guard down.

The special effects are also really on point. We’ve come a long way with the designs. Godzilla’s design is the most streamlined yet. I also like how Kong’s design reflects how he is a lot older than in his last film since many decades have passed since Skull Island. You can feel the passage of time. The energy blasts are excellent and the neon backgrounds of Hong Kong made for a really excellent battle. The film clearly had a high budget and was ready to use it. The soundtrack is also really solid. Kong gets quite a few songs to himself and of course we have a remixed Godzilla theme. If I have a slight nitpick it’s that I would have liked a more energized theme for when the two were actually fighting. Despite a really solid soundtrack throughout, the film seemed to get really quiet when the two were fighting each other and a nice rock song there would have been ideal.

While the film is great I think you could cut out a few scenes here and there like Kong eating the innards of another monster and a fish eating scene that were a bit more on the gross side. Fortunately we don’t get any real animal violence though. Trust me, I was sweating bullets whenever we went to Skull Island or any of the warmer climates since having a random wolf pop up or something would have been the last thing I needed. Luckily none of that really happens here. The eating scenes can be a bit much but not enough to really take a dunk on the film’s overall score though.

That’s really the only small weakness I can say the film had. It’s just a great all around film. It sets a high bar for the next films to top. Since this is a spoiler free review there’s also quite a lot that I can’t really touch on here. With the extra details this review would be quite a bit longer easy but there’s a lot of fun things to experience going in blind. It’s not so much about twists and such but just seeing exactly how the battles play out and how each of the plots end is something you’ll be interested in following along. Each act of the film is really on point. Definitely a lot of big cheering type scenes where I’m sure the audience would go crazy in the theaters.

Overall, Godzilla vs Kong is definitely a success. Both stars really got a lot of great moments that you will remember long after the film is over. The climax is fantastic with Apex’s plot-line closing out in a nice way and getting exactly the respect it earned there so the film ends on a great note. Even the humans are better than expected mainly thanks Bernie who was just a great character through and through. Sadly there is no post credits scene but I’m hoping the Monsterverse continues. Bringing in Orga is the natural next step to escalate the stakes and get a new feeling of danger in but there are a lot of great Kaiju options at the ready that you can use too. Either way I’m confident that the next installments will keep up this high level of quality so I look forward to seeing that play out. I’m hoping all of the films going forward can keep the vs format as well even if they’re not crossovers but as a nice way to hype up each opponent.

Overall 8/10