Two months from the day of this writing, Avengers: Endgame will be released at theaters, and you can bet your comic book collections that I will be attending the midnight premiere of it. Even though the Marvel Cinematic Universe will continue to introduce new superhero movie franchises for years to come, the story arc that began a little over a decade ago with Iron Man will come to end in, well, Endgame. And as I ride on the hype train for the next two months, I'm going to be watching all 20 of the films Marvel Studios has produced thus far, sharing my quick thoughts on each one. Without further ado, here are the original six films that started it all:
Iron Man--This movie, when it was being made, should not have turned out half as good as it is, and it still remains one of Marvel's best films. The characters are funny and charming. The film finds a nice balance between humor and drama, and the story about redemption and transformation is wonderfully told. Not a bad way to start a movie marathon.
The Incredible Hulk--Well it's not 2003's Hulk film, so it's got that going for it. But I do like the monster movie vibe of this film, and it's always fun to see the grumpy green Goliath smash up whatever is in his path. It's enjoyable, but doesn't have the same charm or the memorable characters of other films on this list.
Iron Man 2--This film has more suits, more one liners, more villains, more plot lines, more characters, and more references to the universe at large. If this sounds like the movie is overstuffed, you would be right. But it also means there's more Iron Man, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Thor--Great date movie, as no woman can resist staring at Chris Hemsworth, and the guy can enjoy the spectacle of a Thor comic book come to life. And Natalie Portman's not bad either.
Captain America: The First Avenger--This is my personal favorite of the bunch. I love the WWII aesthetic of the film, and the characters are well-written and likable. It's not only a great superhero movie, showcasing why one of Marvel's oldest characters remains one of their most beloved, but it's a great tribute to comic books and the hope and inspiration they've given readers since the 1940's.
The Avengers--One word: marvelous. 'Nuff said.
The holiday season is a great time to catch up on movies you've missed, and I watched quite a few during the break, both those on DVD and in theaters. Here are the ones I've seen and my quick thoughts on them.
Venom—Don’t be fooled by the title of the film. It’s not about the comic book villain. It’s actually referring to how your body will react while watching this piece of garbage as if you were injected by actual venom, though I imagine being injected by actual venom is more pleasant.
Bumblebee—IT. DOESN’T. SUCK. I can’t believe I wrote those three words about a Transformers movie.
Aquaman—Do you like exposition in your movies and characters that won’t shut up about a trident? Or how about suspending your disbelief to the point of shutting down your brain completely, preventing it from trying to process logical explanations of what you are viewing? Do you want to see an octopus that can play the drums? Then DC has made a movie for you, and honestly, it’s pretty fun. Really dumb. But fun.
Alpha—It’s a boy and his dog/wolf story, set in beautiful landscapes that would make Peter Jackson shed a tear--complete with single file walking shots. Definitely not a cat-lover movie, but maybe worth a watch if you want to snuggle with your dog for a couple of hours with nothing else to do.
Mary Poppins Returns—The songs aren’t as catchy or as memorable as the original film, but it’s still a jolly holiday spending time with Mary.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—2018 was a special year for Spider-Man fans. Two new Spidey comics debuted, both off to a great start, and his PS4 game was nominated for Game of the Year. To top it all off, the best Spider-Man movie was released. Yeah, I said it. It’s the best one yet. It’s full of humor and heart and has a great message for everyone and anyone. ‘Nuff said.
The Star—As far as Hollywood Christian movies are concerned, this won’t insult the religious crowd unlike other films *slowly turns head to give a shameful glare to Exodus: God and Kings*. Kids can learn about the Christmas story in a cute way by seeing it from silly animals' points-of-view, and the adults can play the “whose-voice-is-that-I’ve-heard-that-voice-before” game where you try to guess every celebrity in the movie before the credits reveal the answers.
They Shall Not Grow Old—It’s hard to be impressed with “movie magic” anymore with so many movies being special effects extravaganzas, but this might have been the first time my jaw hit the floor and I said aloud, “Wow.” I don’t know how, but director Peter Jackson has breathed new life into century-old footage, restoring them and giving them HD color. Some shots are so well restored it looks like it was filmed yesterday. It's a touching documentary about the soldiers, told by the soldiers, and now we get a clearer picture to the world of the soldiers. History has come to life like never before and is definitely worth a watch for anyone interested in the subject matter.
Wonder—If you want to go “awwwww” and have a smile on your face and just feel good about being a human being, then gather the family together for a wonderful film full of tender moments and important lessons.
What movies did you see during the holiday season? Were they good? Were they bad? Or did you watch A Christmas Story for the umpteenth time? Let me know in the comments!
**Inspired by Screen Rant's "Pitch Meetings" featuring Ryan George**
Warner Bros. Producer: "So you have a new movie for me?"
Screenwriter: "Yes, sir, I do."
Producer: "Well, I certainly hope it's based on something currently popular."
Screenwriter: "It certainly is, sir."
Producer: "Is it about emojis? Because the kids are really into emojis these days."
Screenwriter: "Oh heck no, sir. It's a shark movie."
Producer: "Oh! People are into shark movies?"
Screenwriter: "Oh, yes, sir, they sure are!"
Producer: "Well, we should probably make a movie that adds something to the shark genre. Does your movie involve a shark becoming part octopus? That sounds like a thrilling action movie."
Screenwriter: "Already been done, sir."
Producer: "Oh, well, does your shark turn into a ghost?"
Screenwriter: "There's also a movie about that."
Producer: "How about a movie where the shark wears a Santa hat?"
Screenwriter: "Santa Jaws. Look it up. It's real."
Producer: "I give up. What makes your movie special?"
Screenwriter: "I figured since you like remakes we could do a Jaws remake."
Producer: "Oh, remakes are tight. I love them. It's why I rebooted Batman like three times. And I'm probably going to do it again pretty soon."
Screenwriter: "Please don't."
Producer: "But didn't you write a remake for Jaws?"
Screenwriter: "I did, but I tweaked it to where it's just different enough that people won't notice."
Producer: "How so?"
Screenwriter: "Super easy, barely an inconvenience. Instead of a great white shark, it's a megalodon."
Producer: "What's a megalodon?"
Screenwriter: "It's the largest known shark to have existed. It's like crazy huge. Like, we're going to need a lot of CGI for this thing."
Producer: "And this will fool people into thinking it's not a Jaws remake?"
Screenwriter: "Hopefully. I mean, it's still about a guy who had a career in saving people's lives that comes out of retirement to help defeat a shark that attacks people at a beach and uses a boat that is clearly too small to handle said shark."
Producer: "And what's the name of this movie? 'Jaws But Bigger'?"
Screenwriter: "I thought we could name it based off of my favorite book series The Meg since I used parts of the book to help fool people into thinking this wasn't a Jaws remake."
Producer: "You seem to be scarily obsessed with sharks."
Screenwriter: "Shark Week is like my Hanukkah."
Producer: "You're weird."
Screenwriter: "I have no life. So what do you think of my movie? You like it?"
Producer: "I mean it does sound like dumb fun and a good time as long as I don't think about it too hard, but all I care about is money. Will this movie make me money?"
Screenwriter: "Way more than you think it would."
After six movies, you either love the Mission: Impossible films or could care less. I for one absolutely love these movies! And they seem to get better and better with each new installment, raising the stakes (and the risk to Tom Cruise's life) with each new mission chosen to be accepted. After Mission: Impossible--Rogue Nation, I said out loud, "There's no way they can top themselves." They did.
The latest mission involves Ethan Hunt going undercover with criminals in order to stop plutonium cores from being sold to the bad guys who will use them to create nuclear bombs. Obviously, it's not as simple as that. It is a spy movie after all, and honestly, this movie shows that spy movies can still be fresh, exciting, and a whole lotta fun.
It seems as though director Christopher McQuarrie wrote down a checklist of what all makes for an entertaining spy thriller. Do the agents wear fancy suits and look good on the job? Check. Are there gorgeous scenery shots? Check. Car chases? Check. Awesome fight scenes? Check. Crazy gadgets? Check. Outrageous action scenes that put Tom Cruise's life at risk? Check check and check. Yes, it does what great spy movies have done before, but it does all of this very well. I dare say it's one of the greatest films in its genre, challenging even the best of Bond and Bourne films.
There are two aspects of Mission: Impossible--Fallout that I appreciate the most. The first is the action. With so many action movies seemingly becoming more and more like big budget cartoons (Avatar, Avengers: Infinity War, Alita: Battle Angel), it's refreshing to see a movie that relies heavily on practical effects. There were moments I thought were computer animated in this film, but in actuality, they were done for real, with some being enhanced by CGI. Tom Cruise really did jump out of an airplane and skydive. He really did hang on to the side of a net dangling from the underbelly of a helicopter. And he spent time learning how to pilot a helicopter so he could actually fly one in that insane helicopter chase scene. The danger looks real and feels real, making the scenes feel even more intense and the perilous high-stake thrills that the characters are facing all the more captivating. It's also darn good entertainment.
Another thing I appreciate about this movie is how it rewards fans who have stuck with the series for all these years. I won't spoil what happens because the less you know the better the payoff for you, but it gives the sense that, unlike the James Bond franchise, there has been a continuing story throughout all six films. This film serves as a nice cherry on top to the delectable sundae that is the Mission: Impossible series, giving fans an emotional and satisfying conclusion if this truly is the grand finale to the series.
If you have enjoyed the Mission: Impossible films of the past or are a fan of action movies or just want a good time while munching on a big bucket of popcorn or are currently alive, you owe it to yourself to go see Ethan Hunt's latest adventure. It's thrilling, exciting, and keeps you guessing from start to finish. It's everything a summer blockbuster should be, and it's a mission you should not hesitate to accept.
During the flight to Africa for our production of "Reap What You Sew," I binged watched several movies while stuck in a plane for over 30 hours. Instead of giving full reviews for each film, I thought I'd make this a little more fun by giving short expressions on how I felt of each movie. If you like this rapid fire review and want me to do another one, please let me know! If there are a series of movies you want me to do for that, also let me know! Ok, enough context. Let's review!
The Post: Tom Hanks as Cranky Old Hanky and Oscar-winner Meryl Streep as Oscar-winner Meryl Streep take on the government through printing newspapers. And that's about as exciting as it gets. Great for journalism classes!
Ferdinand: Do you know the adorable short story of Ferdinand the Bull? Well, here's an hour and 48 minute version of it filled with extremely loud and obnoxious new characters who tell jokes that an 8-year-old boy told to his buddies at lunch and got a few giggles out of them.
The Shape of Water: It's like Free Willy, if the boy and the killer whale became lovers.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie: It's a LEGO movie. It has laugh-out-loud jokes and gags and a heartwarming message for the kids. It's not as clever as the original film nor as nostalgic driven as The LEGO Batman Movie, but it did its job--it made me laugh and gave me a fun time.
Blade Runner 2049: More like "Bored Runner." There are better ways of lulling yourself to sleep.
Isle of Dogs: It's a Wes Anderson movie, which means you will either a) find this film charming and funny or b) absolutely strange and awkward or c) play the "Name That Celebrity Voice" game throughout the film and see how many you can get correct before the credits reveal the answers.
Exodus: Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott offers us a great prequel to his Gladiator film filled with dazzling special effects and epic war scenes and...oh hold on. I'm being told this is based on the book from the Bible. For some reason, I don't remember any mention of Moses arguing with an angry little British boy that says his name is I Am in the Bible, nor do I remember Moses holding a sword to Rameses' throat telling him to let his people go. Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is a prequel to Gladiator.
Much like life, Jurassic Park keeps finding a way to live on, and you all know the drill at this point: stupid people want to mess around with dinosaurs, the dinosaurs escape, crazy things happen, and the main characters survive. The end. It's another Jurassic Park movie, and if you've enjoyed the series up to this point, hold on to your butts because Jurassic Park 5/Jurassic World 2 is a fun and crazy ride.
Let's get this out of the way. You are not going to see this movie for what little story there is in this film. You're interested in the dinosaurs and Chris Pratt's wittiness. So how are they? The dinosaurs are awesome, but other than a couple of humorous one-liners and a moment of physical comedy, Pratt isn't as funny this time around. In fact, it's really not a funny movie. Of course, you probably didn't expect it to be a comedy anyway. So what kind of a movie is it? It's two kinds actually, and you shouldn't be concerned about a blend of styles.
It is a monster movie first and foremost. The first scene makes that very clear. These dinosaurs loom about in the shadows and take any opportunity they can to devour their human prey. The newest director for the series J. A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) wonderfully conveys a sense of dread and horror when these creatures come out to attack, while at the same time remembering the fondness we had when we first saw the original film. He invokes a right blend of nostalgia while also doing new things to the 25 year old series, which brings me to my claim that it's two kinds of a monster movie rolled up into one. At first glance, you would think this is a remake of sorts to The Lost World: Jurassic Park, much like how Jurassic World was basically Jurassic Park set in current times. After all, the dinosaurs are brought to our continent just like in the original sequel, but it handles the similar scenario differently in a way that I was pleasantly surprised by. When this movie begins, it's more of a big, bombastic disaster movie with the island blowing up and the dinosaurs going into a state of panic, which is totally fine for a movie like this, but then the dinosaurs are moved to a giant mansion, making it into a haunted house kind of movie. On paper, this might not sound very exciting, but the final result creates a very intense, claustrophobic sense of fear, making this one of my favorite moments of the franchise. It reminded me of the classic Resident Evil video game where you were trapped in a mansion and didn't know what monstrosity was around the corner, not knowing if your gun will be affective against whatever awaited you. The new dinosaur, the Indoraptor, isn't any more than your typical scary monster, but it serves its purpose as being a ferocious beast for the characters to figure out how to escape from. Ultimately, this film knows that the series is at its best when it's trying to be scary, and it offers great intense moments to compliment what came before.
I would like to note that Bayona made a very smart decision to include practical effects and animatronics whenever possible throughout the movie. Where the previous filmed relied heavily on animated creatures, this one uses a nice blend of CGI with robotics. Seeing Blue thrash about on a surgical table as Pratt gently pets its head and Bryce Dallas Howard sitting atop the T-Rex's neck adds extra depth to the actors' performances as they interact with the dinosaurs physically. Because of this, it actually makes you question when a dinosaur is a cartoon or a robot, giving more realism to the setting.
Even though it's not the best script of all time, the actors do give a fun performance throughout the film, especially when interacting with the animatronics. The newer characters will either annoy you or add to the dumb fun the movie was already offering to you. For me, the new additions to the cast made me chuckle a couple of times, and the little girl helped make the dinosaurs both more terrifying and sympathetic, offering a new insight to these creatures we've come to expect death and destruction from.
If you've enjoyed the Jurassic Park films up until now, then you know what you're in for, and that may be a good thing. It is a fun monster movie that entertains and makes you feel like you are riding a roller coaster, and as long as you don't expect anything else from it, you'll have a good time watching it.
Solo, the second of the Star Wars Story series of films, tells the origin of "scruffy-looking nerf herder" Han Solo. When Disney announced this movie they originally hired Chris Miller and Phil Lord (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) to direct it, and I thought it was going to be a comedic adventure about the smug scoundrel. I was on board with this concept, but Disney apparently thought their vision of the film was too funny and fired them, replacing them with Ron Howard who is not known for doing comedies. I think this is the worst part about the movie because I feel as though some of the comedic elements from the funny directors were kept in an otherwise serious movie.
Now I'm not saying a serious movie can't have jokes every now and then. Avengers: Infinity War is Marvel's darkest movie, but their jokes were hilarious and made things fun. Solo tried to do that, but unlike Avengers, the jokes didn't work. They were more awkward than anything. For instance, the robot LT is cutting through a gate and tells the other characters, "I can't work with you all watching me." They all watch because it's a robot so who cares, but then the robot says, "I can feel you watching me." Is cutting a gate the equivalent of using the restroom for robots? It just wasn't funny. And there's another moment when the robot says, "Lando has feelings for me," and then goes on to say that it won't pursue a relationship with him, to which Han's girlfriend says in almost disgust, "How would that even work?" "It just works," the robot replies. I have three questions about this scene: 1) Is this supposed to be comedic? 2) Is this supposed to be a political statement? and 3) Ewwww?!?! I think if the movie had been done by people who know how to make audiences laugh then the awkward moments would have had some levity to it, but because this is mainly a serious film, they only serve as awkward tonal shifts.
One of the big questions that fans are asking is this: Is Alden Ehrenreich a good Han Solo? Of course we all think of Harrison Ford as the face of the character, but we can say the same thing about Sean Connery as James Bond, even though Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, and Daniel Craig have done great things with the character. I think it's unfair to compare Alden to Ford because they bring something different to the character, but the important thing is to bring that character to life. At times, I felt like he was Han Solo, though not always. However, I was very impressed with Donald Glover as Lando. He acted as if Billy Dee Williams showed him what to do beforehand, and he even sounded like Billy Dee Williams in some scenes! Ultimately, I think the two actors are fun to watch throughout this movie.
Is this good and worth your time? If you're a Star Wars fan then you're going to have a fun time with it while also trying to count how many references there are sprinkled throughout. If you're just a casual fan that likes watching Star Wars every now and then, you may not enjoy this as much as other Star Wars movies. This is for the fans that love to see more of the universe. I will say I cared more about the characters in this one than Rogue One, but I think that the main numbered movies have better stories. Ultimately, this is a fun heist adventure, but unless you love seeing the Millennium Falcon fly around on the big screen, I totally understand those that would prefer to wait to see it on smaller screens.
12 Strong is based on the true story of the first American soldiers deployed overseas to counterattack the 9/11 event. It's full of bombastic action, scenery shots that would make Peter Jackson happy, and Chris Hemsworth playing a muscular tough guy with a beard...without a hammer. It's not the most emotional war movie (I still give that to Saving Private Ryan.), but it does offer a nice perspective on the travesty and suffering of those in the Middle East that opposed the Taliban. It shows that there are good people in the Middle East that fight for freedom and peace rather than terrorism. Overall, it's an enjoyable war film, but it doesn't really make you feel connected to the guys that performed one of the greatest military feats in history.
How do I describe The Greatest Showman? Beautiful, charming, heartfelt...a great show! You can feel the love for the Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey Circus that the filmmakers had throughout this movie. So much so, that they gloss over the fact that P.T. Barnum wasn't the...um, best person in history, and instead, they made the guy look like a lovable showman who became a fatherly figure to the ridiculed performers. Obviously, this makes for a better movie. If you watch this movie to enjoy the colors, the songs, and the message, then you're going to have a great time, but if you were hoping for a more historically accurate account of the famed circus man, well you should look elsewhere. But you should nonetheless listen to the soundtrack--because it's so good!
Here are 5 reasons you should see A Quiet Place:
1) It's Unique
In this day and age, there are noises all around us, and when things get quiet and still, it actually becomes unsettling because we instinctively think something is wrong or not working. In the spooky world of A Quiet Place, the opposite is true. The monsters that exist in that world respond to sound. So as long as the people stay quiet, they are safe. It was something I had to get used to in the movie. Naturally, I was tense at the beginning when the characters were taking light steps and moving slowly and carefully, but I came to accept it as the norm for them. And when something made a noise, that's when things get scary. It's a horror experience like nothing I've seen in a movie before. It's such a simple concept, but it has a big effect.
2) It Doesn't Treat You Like An Idiot
Now, I bet you're wondering how the characters communicate to each other if they can't talk. Well, it turns out the family of the movie had a deaf daughter before the monsters came into being, and so they knew sign language, which they used to their advantage. It's little things like this that make the movie clever in its storytelling, and the best part is that they don't have to explain these actions to you. They trust you can figure it out. They do explain some rules about how the monsters work, but other than that, the movie doesn't waste any time explaining the world and why things are happening (I'm looking at you Justice League.). The story keeps progressing, and it holds your attention from beginning to end.
3) The Cast
If you don't recognize John Krasinski's name, well you probably know him as Jim from The Office. You know, the funny, sarcastic prankster. Well this time around, he's a serious father who's trying to keep his family safe. It's weird to see him not cracking jokes, but you know what, he pulls it off. I sincerely believed him as a character and actually forgot he was Jim from the The Office at one point. Not only does he star in it, but his real life wife, Emily Blunt, plays his wife in the movie. Of course, we all already knew Emily was a great actress, and seeing these two together on screen is so great. It's a wonder why they haven't played husband and wife in other movies before; their chemistry is so natural and compelling that you can't help but feel for them. What makes these two even better on screen together is the fact that John directed this movie while starring in it, and you can tell that he and his wife had long conversations together about what their characters need to do and how they could pull it off. I imagine this gave them freedom to act how they pleased, and with this comfortable position, they could give the best performance that they could. Not only do we get to see these two wonderful actors perform, but John casted a real-life deaf girl to play the deaf girl in the movie. She was a real delight to watch, and her disability allowed her to channel her real-life struggles into the character. It was wonderful to see someone with a disability shine on the big screen.
4) It's About A Family
A lot of horror movies focus solely on the monsters and the scares that the story is either nonexistent or craptastically bad *cough* Halloween *cough* Friday the 13th *cough*. This movie though actually has a lot of heart in it. The movie isn't about the monsters terrorizing people; it's about a family going through struggles of trust, responsibility, and jealousy. The moments I got emotional didn't revolve around the horrible attacks from the monsters; it was when the family shared heartfelt moments with each other that brought out emotions in me. This is a horror movie that has a story to tell and a message to share, which brings me to my last point.
5) Its Message
There's a moment in the movie where John has the camera right in front of Emily, and she says as she looks directly into the camera with teary eyes, "What are we if we can't protect them?" The character was talking about being a parent amidst the crisis, but because she was looking directly at the audience, it felt like maybe, perhaps, she was actually talking to us. With so many awful events happening with children recently, it seems as though that they are growing up in a world full of monsters. And the movie teaches us that the way we protect our children is through supporting them, sacrificing for them, and, above all, loving them. Love is how we face our fears. Love is what beats the monsters. Love is what saves the world.
With Indiana Jones in retirement, it seems Hollywood is reluctant to make classic adventure films featuring tropical locations and ancient treasures these days. But Lara Croft has returned to fill the void of old-school adventure films with her latest outing.
But does it break the video game movie curse? It seems like video game based movies cannot be good, no matter how good the talent is. Well I for one enjoyed Tomb Raider. It's got its problems like questionable editing, lack of supporting characters, and a beginning that seems to drag on for way too long (Did we really need to see Lara in a bicycle chase to show that she's desperate for money?). As a fan of the video games, I did find the majority of the film enjoyable.
Alicia Vikander is a lovable Lara. She's hard headed, tough, but also has a lot of heart, which is who Lara has always been, and I'm happy to report the movie focuses on this aspect of the character rather than the...*ahem* "physical prowess" that the Jolie movies seemed to do.
What I greatly appreciate about this movie is that it told it's own story for the most part. To say it's based on the 2013 game of the same name is being generous. Other than the island, the "treasure," and Lara's outfit, it really has nothing to do with the game. This made it more exciting for me, as it left me guessing as to how things would play out. In fact, I loved some of the twists because they weren't in the game, and I didn't expect them to happen. But is it a good story? Well...it has its moments. The beginning is mainly to serve as a way to show how Lara is able to do things later on in the film, and that's fine. But it does drag on, and at one point, I thought to myself, "Are we ever going to get on the island?" When Lara sets off on her voyage, it does pick up, and it's exciting, dangerous, and interesting. The tomb she raids serves as great set pieces, and I want more movies with tombs like it.
Overall, as far as video game movies are concerned, it's not bad. It's not perfect, but I don't think it deserves a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes. I'd give it a high C or low B. It made mistakes, but it didn't fail. It made Lara an interesting character that you could cheer for. I think if they were to do a sequel, they could learn from their mistakes and make a better film. I for one would certainly go on another tomb raiding adventure with Lara Croft.
Do you like jokes about Dwayne Johnson's muscles? Do you like jokes about Kevin Hart's shortness? Do you like watching Jack Black act like a teenage girl? Then Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is the movie for you! Unlike the original film which is way darker than you remember, this movie is very light in tone and will throw every joke from the joke book at you until something makes you laugh. So if you want to turn off your brain and enjoy for a couple of hours some slapstick humor and silly shenanigans, then dust off that old board game, put on your Guns 'n Roses t-shirt, and enjoy the reimagining of everyone's favorite deadliest game.
I had the honor of being one of the first people to see Paul, Apostle of Christ, and if the sniffling of noses and tissues wiping away tears along with a standing ovation are any indications, this might be one of the best and one of the most impactful Christian films ever made.
The story takes place during Paul's imprisonment in Rome during the persecutions of Christians. The Christian community is naturally living in fear as they hide from Roman soldiers while also helping anyone they can in the city. Luke, played by Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest), takes it upon himself to speak to Paul and write letters of encouragement to the Christian communities. However, the Roman prison warden starts picking up on what they're doing, and it then becomes a battle between love and persecution.
The story takes liberty with the biblical account of the famous New Testament writer by adding characters and story elements to make for a better drama, but don't let that turn you away from it. Unlike Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings, the liberties taken help elaborate the biblical messages of Paul's letters. The movie's overall message is to love your neighbor even when they hate you, and the movie shows how hard that can be. Some Christians want to fight back, and others want to flee. When given the option, Paul choses to stay and love his enemies. He was willing to be beaten and abused because he loved his beaters and abusers. Despite adding extra content to the story, it doesn't detract it from the message of the Bible.
For those not used to lots of dialogue in movies, this film can feel really long, but give it a chance. The story of Paul of Tarsus is still very relevant to today's audience. It's a story of turning away from hatred. It's a story about standing firm in your beliefs. It's a story about love. This is not your typical Christian movie with a happy ending, but it is a movie about facing darkness and showing it Light. And millions around the world could use a movie like this.
Black Panther isn't your typical comic book movie. This is a movie that challenges culture, politics, and even the individual.
As the newly crowned king of the fictional nation of Wakanda, T'Challa must ask himself what he stands for as a leader, and as his father told him, "You are a good man with a good heart, but it is hard for a good man to be king." And this becomes the biggest challenge for T'Challa as he must deal with the sins of his nation's past and lead his people into a new era. There are many easy roads to take for T'Challa, but each one is selfish. He instead, like all of our favorite heroes, finds another way, a better way, even when it's the most difficult.
This isn't just a movie for black people. This isn't just a movie for comic book fans. This is a movie for everyone, as everyone will find something meaningful to take from this story. Its message of "in times of trouble, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers" is a powerful lesson to learn, and it shows how important it is to help those that need it, even when it doesn't benefit us. We must all sacrifice and support the needy, and this will, in turn, build bridges towards a better world.
Ok, so here's the deal with Justice League: there were moments where I enjoyed the movie. The inner child in me got giddy with excitement to see my favorite heroes come together on the big screen and to see their world come to life. HOWEVER, those moments of enjoyment were separated by long sections of exposition and bad filmmaking.
Get ready for the majority of the first act having you sit through not one and not two but three seemingly separate stories GETTING STARTED instead of actually setting up the plot of one story LIKE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO DO. I just don't get the logic of introducing and explaining three absolutely different characters in one film. Honestly, if DC had just made movies for Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, we wouldn't have to spend so long learning about them and trying to get emotionally connected with them. "Hey, guys, you think we should show what makes each hero special by giving them their own story arc and standalone film before we make Justice League?" "Nope! We'll introduce Flash and his parent problems along with the speedforce, Aquaman and his mommy issues and his deal with Atlantis, and Cyborg's struggles with being a robot and coming to terms with who he is--all in one movie!" It was information overload.
Oh, and Wonder Woman had to literally tell us who Steppenwolfe is, what he's after, and what Mother Boxes are, instead of just--oh I don't know--showing us, LIKE MOVIES ARE SUPPOSED TO DO! I mean, it seriously irritates the snot out of me how bad the scripts and edits are for these films. (There's a guy who somehow follows Batman from rooftop to rooftop in 2.5 seconds just to name one continuity mistake.) And the pacing of the film doesn't flow like it should because they spend the majority of the three acts explaining EVERYTHING. I literally wanted to yell, "Stop talking and do something!"
The first rule of storytelling is "show don't tell," and the film is great when the heroes are actually doing heroic things. I just wanted to hand the producers a copy of the book Save the Cat! in the hopes that they learn how scripts are suppose to be written. The book talks about "double mumbo jumbo," where a movie introduces multiple origins of "magic." For instance, the movie Signs asks "us to balance in our minds...a debate about whether or not God and little green men exist" (p. 128). The author argues that having both science fiction and religion in one movie introduces us to two completely different types of "magic," and it gets confusing. I suppose Justice League has "quadruple mumbo jumbo" according to the book, though I believe multiple myths and magics can coexist only if they have their own individual stories before they collide in a crossover film.
Sadly, the film separates the good parts in long strides with so much boring exposition. In fact, movies originally didn't talk, and they told great and emotional stories through their moving pictures. Apparently, Warner Bros forgot what makes movies special--that they tell stories visually not verbally. On top of all of that, they spend another good chunk of the film trying to fix the mistakes of the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and it slows down the story even more.
Like I said, there were some good parts, but overall, this is another clunky execution to catch up with Marvel. At this point, I'm afraid these movies still reek from the stench of Batman v Superman's garbage that the only hope DC has for the future is to burn their franchise to the ground and begin from scratch.