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Why do most mutants have blue skin, anyway?

I am probably one of the few Marvel fans that wish the X-Men franchise would wrap up.

The franchise can be divided into two periods: the first would be the Patrick Stewart-Ian McKellen era, the second would be the James McAvoy-Michael Fassbender era. The two eras overlap slightly in 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past, which for me is also the best film in the whole franchise.

As a kid, I was a Marvel fan, but the X-Men comics were my favourite. I owned The Dark Phoenix Saga compilation (I didn't really own it; I borrowed it from a classmate and never returned it), and I've read it several times before the pages turned brittle and gave up on me. Now that was a great read. I remember how I used to spend hours in my bedroom reading it, occasionally shifting to my drawing book, inspired to try my hand at drawing my own comics.

Okay, enough about that. This isn't a post reminiscing about my childhood.

There is a lot of focus in this film on Charles Xavier's guilt about Jean Grey's childhood. Both of Jean's parents died in a car accident, which was actually her fault. Now imagine a childhood trauma that strong, coupled with an insanely powerful mutant ability. That is a recipe for disaster right there; no wonder Jean Grey turned out as the damaged mutant she is. If this film teaches us any valuable lessons regarding mental health, it is that repressing memories is never good. But that's probably easier said than done.

Mystique's death at the hands of Jean Grey came as a blow to most viewers, but that would of course be a preferable death compared to just some lame gunshot wound to the head or falling off a cliff. Jennifer Lawrence has been the Raven most fans would remember, but only because the original Mystique practically never appeared without make-up. As this is (most probably) the last we'll see of JLaw in this franchise, it's only appropriate that she be given a proper dramatic send-off.

What would have made the Dark Phoenix saga complete was the presence of Wolverine. The unlikely pairing of Jean Grey and Logan is a favourite among comic book fans, and it was referenced in the first X-Men films with Famke Janssen and Hugh Jackman. I don't think it would've worked with Sophie Turner, though, seeing as Jackman is way older than her, and that any romantic tension between both of them would come off as pedophilia.

And finally, let's talk about Hans Zimmer's wonderful score. There's a part in the film's score where you can hear a ticking clock sound, and I thought to myself, "That sounds like Hans Zimmer's Dunkirk score." Turns out I was right. Before this film, Zimmer has only scored DC movies, making this his first foray into Marvel territory. Hopefully this won't be his last.

Too bad we won't be seeing her in the MCU.



Dark Phoenix. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 7.5/10
No Sophie Turner nudity: -0.1
No Jessica Chastain nudity: -0.1
Tye Sheridan looking like he has a VR headset: -0.1
Not enough Nightcrawler: -0.1
Not enough Peter Maximoff: -0.1
Simon Kinberg writing and directing: +0.1
Final rating: 7.1/10
"We are NOT doing any sequels, all right?"

Since we all know that Disney's latest trend of remaking their entire catalogue of animated films isn't going away anytime soon, let's just accept it. After all, they wouldn't keep making more if we didn't keep watching them. So we are partly to blame for this.

One commendable thing about this film, though, is Disney's decision to avoid "whitewashing" by casting actors more ethnically suited to the story. Casting relatively unknown but culturally appropriate actors was a huge gamble, especially after receiving flak during the film's developmental stage for the earlier casting choices (Tom Hardy as Jafar, come on). I'm glad to see it paid off.

Anyway, let's go ahead and analyse Aladdin using three different criteria. 

FAITHFULNESS TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL
I am fairly certain that a huge chunk of this film's audience was alive when the 1992 animated film hit theatres, so the filmmakers needed to preserve the visual look to satisfy these paying customers. Mena Massoud is still cute enough for young girls to crush over, and Naomi Scott is still hot enough for young boys to masturbate to. Her outfit though isn't as revealing as the animated Princess Jasmine, but nobody seems to mind. Costumes here are more conservative, so no, there won't be any glimpse of Mena Massoud's abs.

The plot is basically the same, save for a few additions made. Some of the changes include the addition of new characters such as the Caucasian suitor Prince Anders (Billy Magnussen) and Princess Jasmine's handmaiden Dalia (Nasim Pedrad), the introduction of the genie and Dalia's love story, and a longer and more intense action sequence in the last part.

SPECIAL EFFECTS
Robin Williams' genie was an icon of the 1990s, so one of the challenges for a live-action remake would be preserving the genie's skin colour. I don't think this is particularly hard to pull off for Disney, especially after Guardians of the Galaxy showcased actors with blue and green skin. So I don't really understand the decision to go with a blue CGI Will Smith. Don't get me wrong, Will Smith's performance was all right, since he brought his own style to the performance without trying to be a Robin Williams copycat, and his best moments are those where he isn't blue.

Overall, the special effects could have been better. The CGI animals, namely the monkey Abu, the parrot Iago, and the tiger Rajah, were great. The flying carpet, too, was a welcome throwback to the animated carpet, but it looked good mainly on its own. However, the scenes showing Aladdin and Jasmine soaring, tumbling, and free-wheeling through an endless diamond sky looked kind of fake. The most magical scene in the entire film looked obviously green-screened.

THE MUSIC
The soundtrack was basically the same songs of the 1992 flick, with a few new songs thrown in. For the new songs, original composer Alan Menken teamed up with Benji Pasek and Justin Paul for the lyrics, giving the girl-power anthem "Speechless".

My only gripe is that the new songs, for me, feel like they were written in 2019. It doesn't have the feel of like a missing song from the original soundtrack which was just re-released this year but was actually written back in 1992 with the old songs. It just feels, I don't know, new. But that's just my opinion, coming from someone who grew up listening to the original songs. I'm interested in how a young viewer who's never seen the old film perceives the new music. And I'm also interested in Lea Salonga's opinion of this movie.


In case you hadn't noticed, I didn't mention this film was directed by Guy Ritchie. That's because this film doesn't look and feel like a Guy Ritchie flick at all. I like Ritchie as a director because of his distinct visual style, which appears nowhere in this movie at all. So let's just chalk this up to Ritchie selling out so he gets money to do the movies he really wants to do.

"Yes, I'm a dimpled Middle Eastern hottie. Deal with it."



Aladdin. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 7.8/10
No Naomi Scott nudity: -0.1
Alan Tudyk: +0.1
Aladdin and Jasmine's flirting and sexual tension: +0.2
Not-ugly Jafar: -0.1
Parkour scenes: +0.1
Actors pronouncing "Agrabah" with an accent: -0.05
Final rating: 7.95/10
"Are these direwolves?"

•This film is porn. No, not that kind of porn. It's action porn, and we have lots of it. There's still a story, of course, because this is a franchise, and no film franchise is built on the back of a gimmick alone. This film has a narrative, yet at the same time, there's also a ridiculous amount of action. And it's not just the running time of the action sequences; it's also the intensity of these scenes that makes John Wick what it is.

•Remember in the first John Wick when we hear about the anecdote of John Wick (Keanu Reeves) killing guys with a pencil? And how in John Wick 2, we actually see him kill guys with a pencil? Well, that's nothing. A pencil is a sharp object, after all, of course it can kill! In Parabellum, we see John Wick kill someone with a book. Not a flimsy pocket paperback, obviously, but still. Killing someone with a book!

•I've always been a fan of big dogs. I'm okay with small dogs, only because I won't be spending as much on food. But big dogs I really like, because these are closest to wolves. After seeing the canine action sequence with none other than Halle Berry, I now want an attack dog of my own. Not for attacking people, but for farting stars and puking rainbows.

•For those of you who haven't seen an action sequence on horseback, let me tell you that Parabellum's horseback action sequences are probably the best ever in the history of cinema. That's saying a lot, since one of the earliest motion pictures was about a horse galloping, so it's about time horses got the onscreen badassery they deserve. A horse kicking a thug in the face, I mean, come on!

•Okay, so how's this for a realisation: John Wick isn't actually American. His real name is Jardani Jovanovic. So he's an immigrant. Or a child of immigrant. Either way, it leans toward the trope that the best assassins are imported from Eastern Europe, what with those scenes of ballerinas and Greek wrestling (and detached toenails! Ugh). I guess it adds to the film's international flavour.

•I enjoyed the scenes with Anjelica Huston, but I enjoyed the scenes with Halle Berry more. This film is already a testosterone-filled ride as it is, and it's too bad scenes with strong women such as Anjelica Huston and Halle Berry weren't enough to balance the scales of manliness. I hope future films in the franchise can give us a great female antagoinst.

•I love Mark Dacascos. Older cinephiles know who Mark Dacascos is: a great martial artist with Filipino blood. The last time I saw him onscreen was in 2001's Le Pacte des Loupes (The Brotherhood of the Wolf), where he played a Native American in the early French colonies in the Americas. Here he plays a Japanese assassin, more than a match for John Wick himself. How come Filipinos rarely play Filipinos onscreen?

•Jerome Flynn, more popularly known as Bronn in Game of Thrones, was sadly underused. He can play a believable villain, especially with his seemingly natural douchebaggery, but I believe his thespian skills can also make him a believable good guy. Sadly, we're not going to find that out now, because the filmmakers killed him off. Too bad, Mr. Flynn.

•The best thing about the entire John Wick franchise is its action. The fight scenes have this realism to it, like you're actually watching two people having a go in an alley behind a bar. It doesn't have the flashy choreography of something like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Kill Bill, but that's because the story doesn't call for it. The John Wick films pay tribute to the dark and seedy underworld of assassins for hire, and the realistic approach to the fight scenes gives it the believable grit it needs to keep viewers cringing. Also, that scene with the knife being stabbed in the eye just makes me shudder. They didn't have to make it that realistic.

•For the next installment, I hope we get more heavy hitters for the High Table. Of course, it is inevitable that we get to meet the High Table, because as film franchises grow, so do its cinematic universes, so it only makes sense that the universe of John Wick slowly unravels for the audience. For a council with so much power, I was expecting a bigger, grander High Table. Here in Parabellum, the closest we get to the High Table was in that desert scene (where Wick cuts his finger off, ugh). It's not bad, though. Come to think of it, for an organisation as cloak-and-dagger as the High Table, I guess meetings in the desert are standard practise.

Of course there'll be a dog in John Wick 4. It's a running joke.



John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 8.2
No Halle Berry nudity: -0.1
Laurence Fishburne: +0.1
Neo, Morpheus, and the Keymaker reunion: +0.1
No Aisa Kate Dillon nudity: -0.1
Lance Reddick from The Wire: +0.1
Ian McShane: +0.1
Jason Mantzoukas: +0.1
Chad Stahelski's direction: +0.1
Final rating: 8.5
Ever since, Jon Snow knew nothing.

Farewell, Game of Thrones.

1. I remember the first time I encountered Game of Thrones. I only read the books later, but I remember reading a feature about HBO's upcoming new show, and it had me at the premise: "The Sopranos in Middle-Earth". And ever since the pilot dropped, I’ve watched every episode religiously on the day they aired.

2. I remember the first time I discovered Tumblr. Well, I’ve been on Tumblr for a while already before GoT, but back then, I used it more like a blogging platform. I remember it was the GoT memes back in Season 1 that made me realise what Tumblr was really for: a magical place of memes and GIFs for every fandom in the world.

3. I remember creating this meme for Season 2, then hearing from a friend that my meme was going viral on 9Gag, although my creator watermark at the bottom was cropped out. I then went on 9Gag and confronted the person who uploaded it and tried to tell him that he stole his post from me. He tried to explain it to me, but I forgot how things went down after that.

Deviantart

4. I remember how the culture of spoilers, although it may have started way before GoT began, actually peaked during GoT’s historical run. History will remember this as the period when spoiler ethics were set by the global community. See, if we can agree on what constitutes a spoiler, then we should be able to agree on anything.

5. I remember how I wasn’t that into Sophie Turner before. Yeah, she was very pretty, but I didn’t really find her sexually attractive – yet. Then I saw her rapping to Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady”, and her hotness level just skyrocketed through the roof. Now I am a super fan.


6. I remember after the first two seasons, I decided I wanted to try reading the books. So I had this really crappy, cheap-ass laptop (I don’t think it was even a proper laptop, it was more like a portable low-end gadget that can do very primitive computer functions), and I started reading the books, meaning the A Song of Ice and Fire saga. A little into the third book, I found that I didn’t remember most of the details being mentioned in the text, so I tried going back to the previous books and discovered that although I recalled a certain detail being mentioned, I had difficulty locating where that detail was in the text, which was in .pdf format. Conclusion: I prefer reading real books to e-books, because with old books, I could remember where I read a certain detail, and what part of the page it was located. Strangely, that skill didn’t carry over to digital books. How sad.

7. I remember when I first realised that this was the biggest television show in human history. It was when I read an article saying that Game of Thrones was the most pirated show in history (not anymore, although it was the Number 1 most pirated show for six years in a row). And by pirated, I mean illegally downloaded. I mean, for HBO to take a relaxed stand on the piracy of its show means only one of two things: it doesn’t mind the piracy, because it brings the show to an even wider audience, or the piracy has gotten so out of control because of the sheer numbers.

8. I remember when Season 6 of Game of Thrones coincided with the 2016 Philippine presidential elections. Even the Commission on Elections used GoT references for their election materials. That’s how big this show got, people.


9. I remember being surprised that Jim Broadbent would be joining the show. Of course I knew who Jim Broadbent was before this, but after watching his very first scene, I was just blown away. After that, I decided to watch old Jim Broadbent films, and now I am a huge fanboy. Also, I think I created a Reddit account just so I could post this:

Jim Broadbent should win an award for his performance as Archmaester Ebrose from r/HBOGameofThrones


10. I remember reminiscing on my early attempts at meme-making, and so I decided to make memes again for Seasons 6 and 7. This particular Season 7 meme of mine garnered 6K+ upvotes. A personal best. You’re welcome, 9Gag.

9Gag

11. I remember the sadness I felt during the last season. My excitement when the Battle of Winterfell aired, and my annoyance at how dark the screen was. My reservations that Sansa Stark was turning into a bitch. My disappointment at Daenerys’s descent into madness. My sadness at Varys’s execution. My non-surpise at Jon stabbing Daenerys in the throne room. My grief at Cersei and Jaime buried under all that rubble. My admiration at Tyrion Lannister’s integrity. My amazement at Drogon melting the Iron Throne. My snicker at Bran Stark being named king. And my sadness upon realising that there might never be another show like this, watched, celebrated, and talked about collectively by millions around the world.

And now my watch has ended.

Where's Lena?



Game of Thrones. USA. 2010-2019.



Original rating: 10/10
Surpassing the books: -0.1
Rushing the last two seasons: -0.1
Final rating: 9.8/10
"I feel like I'm ripping off Arthur Conan Doyle with this deerstalker."

Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment, two Hollywood powerhouses, join together to bring us Detective Pikachu. The official title of the movie, according to IMDb, is Pokémon Detective Pikachu, because Detective Pikachu refers to the Nintendo 3DS game. But this review isn't for the game, so there really won't be any confusion when I refer to the film as simply Detective Pikachu.

So anyway, is this movie based on the game? I don't know, I've never played it. So this review will not be referencing the film's gaming roots in any way.

I admit, I was a casual fan of the cartoons. Wait, scratch that. I am a casual gamer of Pokémon Go. So with the cartoons, what's less than a casual fan? A sporadic fan, maybe? I'm not sure. Point is, my knowledge of Pokémon isn't that solid to begin with.

Remember back in 2007, when Michael Bay released the first Transformers film (which incidentally was the very first film reviewed on this blog)? You might remember the backlash it received from fans for not staying true to the eighties TV show. Why’d they make Bumblebee a Camaro, they asked, when Bumblebee was a Volkswagen Beetle, and a Volkswagen Beetle only, nothing else. The only thing they retained was the colour, because Bumblebee can only be yellow. Wait, what was my point?

Oh yes, the fans. So the fans actually taught Hollywood a valuable lesson when it comes to adapting existing source material. If the source material is a book, then visual interpretations may be free for all, except for very specific descriptions the author used. But if the source material is another visual medium, such as a comic book, or a children’s cartoon in this case, then of course there must at least be a semblance of visual similarity, because that is what the viewers will be looking for.

And who are the viewers in this case? Although the studios may argue that these films are meant to draw in new audiences, let’s face it: these films are driven by nostalgia, and are really directed at those who were young once and now are employed and thus have money to spend at the cinema. That’s the same with every piece of adapted cinema that is released twenty years after its source material, such as Charlie’s Angels, the Transformers franchise, Inspector Gadget, and many more. (One can also argue that Mission: Impossible started off like this, but has grown so big that it has taken a life of its own now, with fans that don’t know and don’t care about the 1970s television show that inspired it.)

Wait, what are we talking about again? Oh yes, Detective Pikachu. Particularly visual similarity. Well, all I have to say is that the adaptation of the flat two-dimensional animated Pokémon into their three-dimensional computer-generated counterparts was extremely faithful. None of that “Bumblebee is a Camaro” crap. The Cubones you see on the big screen is exactly the same as the one in your childhood memories. So are the Squirtles. The Growlithes. The Gastlies. And of course, the lovable Pikachu. Except for one small thing: Pikachu’s voice.

No more “Pika Pika” cuteness here. Instead of miming and context clues, the filmmakers gave Pikachu a voice, and that is Ryan Reynolds on cocaine. I’m kidding, of course, it’s just regular Ryan Reynolds. It is of course a bit jarring at first, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.

Detective Pikachu went to great lengths to give us something that deserves being called a detective flick, with the cinematographer even shooting on 35 mm film to make it feel more like Blade Runner. Aside from Pikachu sporting a deerstalker–an obvious homage to Sherlock Holmes–all the elements of classic mystery storytelling are here, albeit toned down for a younger audience. Don’t expect a great whodunit, though, because the plot’s fairly easy to predict. Just sit back and suspend your disbelief, is what I would suggest. It’s the ride that matters, anyway.

"Am I gonna get my own movie?"



Pokémon Detective Pikachu. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 7.2/10
Pikachu sounding like Deadpool: +0.1
No Kathryn Newton nudity: -0.1
Justice Smith: +0.1
Bill Nighy: +0.1
Ken Watanabe: +0.1
Psyduck: +0.1
Final rating: 7.6/10
"Can we get porn on this thing?"

•The best part of Avengers: Endgame is not the fact that it's a superhero movie, nor is it the fact that it is the final film in possibly the first cinematic franchise of different films sharing an interconnected universe. The best thing about this flick is its genre, and that is time travel, my favourite movie genre ever. A time-heist, in the words of Scott Lang (the Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd). It even ranks itself among other great time travel movies such as Back to the Future, The Terminator, Bill and Ted, Somewhere In Time, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Time Cop, among others. Then it differentiates itself from the rest by basically saying Back to the Future was bullshit.

•Captain America (Chris Evans) is worthy of Mjolnir. Although I was a Marvel fan as a kid, my Marvel knowledge was mostly limited to the X-Men and Spider-Man. Imagine my suprise when Cap is finally revealed to be worthy of lifting both Mjolnir and Stormbreaker (although this was already hinted at in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Weapon interchangeability is kind of new to me, see.

•When we see Cap at the end, when he hands over his shield to Falcon (Anthony Mackie), he is an old man. But if he returned all the stones to the moment they were taken, then that means the original timeline was preserved. But he married Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), so that means he created a new timeline where they grew old together. That's a plot hole right there, but apparently that can be explained by having him live out his new timeline and then travel back to the original timeline to give his shield away. That is if we work under the assumption that Pym particles can make you travel not just back and forth in one timeline, but across different alternate timelines as well. But that's a stretch, if you ask me.

•Captain America is a title. Just like Black Panther is a title. And Sorcerer Supreme. Captain America is not Steve Rogers, but rather Steve Rogers is Captain America. They are not interchangeable. When Steve Rogers dies, the mantle of Captain America can be passed on to another worthy person. In the same way, T'Chaka was the previous Black Panther before he died and his son T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) became the new Black Panther. Also like how the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) held the title of Sorcerer Supreme before it was passed on to Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

•Ant-Man time-travelled, but Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) was first. Although the whole time travel idea was Scott Lang's (as well as the term "time heist"), his previous experience wasn't time travel per se, but more of getting lost in the quantum realm and realising time had passed differently for him. The first proper time traveller who travelled to a specific time and space was Hawkeye. But following the rules of time travel, he shouldn't have taken that baseball glove with him. I hope they put it back to the point it was taken so as not to mess up any timelines.

•The girl power scene would have been great with Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Of course we all loved the girl power scene in Avengers: Infinity War, and we also adore the character that embodies girl power itself, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). But even before the strong female characters in the MCU, Black Widow was already whooping supervillain ass. She was the first among Marvel's lovely lady warriors, and now she is gone. Not to worry, though. I hear she's getting a prequel spinoff. Yay.

•The new Hulk is kinda weird. And I am bothered by it. Maybe it's because he speaks straight now? I don't know. I must have gotten so used to "Hulk smash" that any complete sentence, no matter how short, will sound so out of character. Or maybe it's because he just looks so damn like Mark Ruffalo. I really don't know. I am still bothered by it.

•Marvel went for misdirection in the Captain Marvel film by teasing that Captain Marvel can whoop Thanos's ass. Actually, that's not entirely accurate. Captain Marvel can hold her own against Thanos, sure. But to say that she can whoop Thanos's ass implies Thanos hardly putting up a fight, which wasn't the case at all. No one single hero can beat Thanos in a one-on-one fight. It takes teamwork, strategy, strength, and a whole lot of luck.

•Regarding Captain Marvel's hair, my question is this: is she or is she not a lesbian? Yeah, I know, you can't judge a person by his or her haircut, but this is cinema, ladies and gentlemen, a visual medium. The most effective way to depict a tomboy is to show her with boy's clothes, or really short hair. It's that or showing her and her lover in the scissors position, so yeah.

•Good job, Marvel, for bringing back even the minor characters from the previous films. That's a big feat, considering Natalie Portman didn't want anything to do with it anymore. Well, Natalie Portman didn't return for Endgame; they used old footage from the Thor movies. But almost everyone came back, even Rene Russo as Thor's mom, Benedict Wong, Evangeline Lilly, and a lot more. A whole lot more.

Two of you are going to die in this film.



Avengers: Endgame. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 8.6/10
Shout-out to the great time travel movies: +0.1
Stan Lee cameo: +0.1
Ant-Man's comic book helmet: +0.1
Robert Downey, Jr.'s last Marvel film: -0.1
Final rating: 8.8/10
The only thing creepier than a boy in a mask is two boys in masks.

•This is a great sophomore project by Jordan Peele. His directorial debut, Get Out, was a wonderful work of storytelling, and he flexes his cinematic muscles once again with this vaguely similar yet totally different film.

•The subject of doppelgangers has always fascinated me. It's like something that's not too scary to be frightening, but not too normal that can be dismissed. My brother has had more than one experience with doppelgangers, particularly his own. Although this isn't the first movie about doppelgangers, I think this is the first one about an entire doppelganger family.

•As a horror movie, where the intention is to scare the living hell out of the movie audience, this film worked. However, it didn't concern itself with world-building; it just gave a simple explanation of where the doppelgangers came from, but it didn't tell us why they were created in the first place.

•As a suspense movie, where the intention is to put viewers on the edge of their seats, this film works exceptionally well. The scary thing about doppelgangers is that they behave like real people, and they don't appear and disappear like ghosts. They're as dangerous on land as they are on boats.

•Unlike Get Out, which was clearly a statement on the racial issues of the United States, this film is not really about the race problem. Yes, it's about an African-American suburban family, but Peele doesn't play the race card in this movie. The leads just happen to be black. They conflict in this movie doesn't happen because of their skin colour.

•At first you'd think this film has a supernatural element to it, but it doesn't. The doppelgangers are some kind of clones from an underground experiment, not some dark version of themselves from an alternate universe.

•Lupita Nyong'o is such a talented actress, and her voice acting skills are truly remarkable. In the Disney Star Wars trilogy, she plays Maz Kanata, and her voice is totally unrecognisable. Here, she does a different voice for her doppelganger, a hoarse, creepy voice capable of giving children nightmares.

•I'm glad Elisabeth Moss is getting more acting gigs. She's great in The Handmaid's Tale, but I liked her way back in Mad Men.

•This film gives us great throwbacks. The flashback part of the film takes place in 1986, as shown by the Hands Across America commercial in the beginning and the Michael Jackson shirt in the amusement park. In fact, the Hands Across America reference is used again near the end, which I think would have been really beautiful if people outside the United States understood its significance.

•And speaking of throwbacks, the use of the song "I've Got 5 On It" was refreshing. If it wasn't for this movie, I might've forgotten about this song already. There's a theory I read, about how this song is about two guys splitting a dimebag of weed by paying five dollars each. So there's two guys forming a whole, which is very much like a doppelganger being two parts of a whole.

"Can you make your eyes big like this?"



Us. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 8/10
Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong'o Black Panther reunion: + 0.1
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Elisabeth Moss The Handmaid's Tale reunion: +0.1
Final rating: 8.2/10
"Thanos? Bring it."

•First of all, I've only seen this once, and I came out of the theatre with very little to take home with me. This is one of those very rare films which I practically forgot as soon as I exited the cinema. Is it because I may have been a bit sleepy? Maybe. But again, that's very rare. Even Brie Larson's pretty mug was forgettable.

•As a "girl power" film, it of course makes sense that this film was released to coincide with International Women's Day, which is on the 8th of March. I guess you could classify Captain Marvel as a feminist movie, and an enjoyable one at that. Although DC beat Marvel to the punch with the critically-acclaimed Wonder Woman, this film is a step in the right direction. So, good job, Marvel, and may you release more films about superheroines.

•The songs used were great, of course, especially for kids who grew up in the 90s. However, I am of the opinion that the music used was great on its own, but not as a soundtrack. The way the music was used in Captain Marvel was a far cry from how James Gunn used his 80s soundtrack in Guardians of the Galaxy (both Volumes I and II), which was more cinematic. The Guardians of the Galaxy music not only set the time the films were set in, but they also set the mood, and were somehow connected to Star-Lord's journey. Captain Marvel's song catalogue, on the other hand, felt like it was just there to set the milieu.

•I've been more of a Marvel fan than a DC one, and that was since grade school. Sadly, I was not a fan of Captain Marvel as a character. The only thing I remember was that Captain Marvel in the comics was a male. I'm basing my memory off a Marvel trading card, and I have to admit, my memory may be hazy. Anyway, whether or not Captain Marvel was originally a male or female is moot: the fact that Marvel Studios decided that the superhero who bears the studio's name, and the superhero rumoured to be the only one who can whoop Thanos's ass, would be female, that's a big step in the fight for gender equality in Hollywood.

•Honestly, I found the plot a bit confusing. But then again, I've only seen it once, and I was a bit sleepy. Anyway, the film was set in the 90s, right? But then Carol Danvers was having flashbacks of a different life, which kind of looked like it was a life in the 90s. So what is it, really? I think I need to watch this again, at least before Avengers: Endgame hits the theatres.

•Now let's talk about Samuel L. Jackson. The modern-day Nick Fury is a bad-ass, and he even looks the part, with his eyepatch and slightly toned down Pulp Fiction swagger. Then we find out how he got the scar. Scratched by a cat. I guess people just assumed he got it fighting some super villain, then he just kept silent and let people go on thinking that.

•And speaking of cats, that ginger feline kind of stole the show. The name Goose, I think, is a Top Gun reference, because of the whole fighter pilot vibe they got going. And the whole tentacle-shooting-from-the-mouth thing makes the cat look like it came straight out of Men In Black. Anyway, I think Goose is more than just comic relief. He may have a bigger part to play in Avengers: Endgame. Wouldn't it be cool if it was actually Goose that defeats Thanos?

•Yes, we know this movie is about girl power, but is there also a queer angle to it? I've heard opinions that Carol Danvers and her Air Force BFF Maria, played by Lashana Lynch, are lesbian lovers. Honestly, I didn't get that vibe, although my gaydar has never been accurate. If the lesbian angle was intentional, it wasn't obvious. And if it was obvious, it doesn't really matter. They're close friends, and whether or not they're lovers doesn't matter.

•And of course, no Marvel movie is complete without special effects. Marvel has been setting the standard for popcorn flicks even before the MCU was introduced. With these kinds of storytelling, world-building is crucial, and with world-building comes believability, because what good is an alternate world if it's not believable?

Men do not generally give up their seats to powerful women.



Captain Marvel. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 6.6/10
Gemma Chan: +0.2
Gemma Chan in blue makeup: -0.1
Unrecognisable Ben Mendelsohn: +0.1
Unrecognisable Lee Pace: +0.1
Recognisable Djimon Hounsou: -0.1
Jude Law plot twist: -0.1
Annette Bening: +0.1
Clark Gregg: +0.2
Final rating: 7/10
"You're probably coming back as a Netflix series."

•Being the last film in a trilogy, I was expecting a cry-fest. You know, like what Toy Story did when it (supposedly) ended. There were a few scenes that could've unleashed tears, but they didn't come.

•The courtship scene of the two Furies, where they danced and flew in beautiful formation, kind of reminded me of the robot courtship ritual of Wall-E and Eve. Although of course Wall-E was set in space, but it was pretty much the same. It even had the same effect, making you go, "Aww, how cute! They're just like humans, but less horny!"

•I was hoping for more Kit Harington also, but he was relegated to one of the grownups like the one-legged Gobber (Craig Ferguson) and Hiccup's mom Valka (Cate Blanchett).

•For some reason, I enjoyed the villain here. So his name is Grimmel, and he's voiced by F. Murray Abraham, and you couldn't tell it was him because he used some kind of accent. He doesn't invite that much hate, compared to the previous film's villain Drago, voiced by Djimon Hounsou, who loved screaming his lines. Grimmel seemed smarter, more relatable, maybe because he actually used strategy, compared to Drago's brute force.

•The movie felt less animated, for some reason. I mean, except for the character designs, the details in this film tend to lean towards photorealism. The cinematography was great, as usual, since they used cinematographer Roger Deakins as visual consultant for all three films in this series (Deakins won an Oscar for 2017's Blade Runner 2049). He captured the bleak, dreary look of the Viking world quite beautifully, and I think the colourful huts compensated for the lack of color, even if it did remind me of third world slums.

•Okay, let's talk about TJ Miller. I know the guy's difficult to work with, which was the reason he was kicked out of HBO's Silicon Valley. But is an actor's work ethic enough to grant him something close to persona non grata status in Hollywood? I mean, I can understand if he gets a marked decrease in acting gigs, but it has to be something really serious if he loses a voice acting gig for a character he's already voiced in the previous two movies, right? Okay, I just Googled it, and apparently, TJ Miller has some sexual assault allegations on his plate. Tuffnut – I mean, tough luck.

•Just some minor nitpicking, but is it possible to have a sinkhole in the ocean? Isn't "sea level" supposed to be the lowest level for land that isn't submerged in the water? Because the "hidden world" referred to in the title, the ancestral domain of all dragons, can be found below sea level, but on dry land. I'm sorry, but that's just not realistic for me. Dragons I can suspend my disbelief for, but not that.

•I think it's a fitting ending for Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless to part ways. A lesser franchise would've kept Hiccup and Toothless together until the end, like they were meant to be together. But Toothless is a dragon, and I appreciate how the filmmakers stayed true to the essence of dragons. These are majestic creatures, and they cannot be tamed, so it's a good thing Hiccup and Toothless parted ways as equals, not as master and pet ending their relationship.

•And on that note, I think the filmmakers did a good job of ending the series. Some film franchises give you a trilogy, then suddenly come out of left field with a fourth film (I'm looking at you, Toy Story). A trilogy in itself can sometimes feel like an obvious money-making venture, like how they forcefully stretched out The Hobbit into three films. But a good trilogy, when done right, can be a beautiful thing. How to Train Your Dragon as a trilogy was well done, and I really hope the producers leave the franchise alone. Any additions to this film universe should be done in the form of spin-offs, not forced continuations.

"Of course I have facial hair. I'm a Viking."



How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 8.0/10
Stoic scenes: +0.1
Final rating: 8.1/10
"Let's see them boob–URK!"

•I love Japanese manga. True, I haven’t read that much; just a handful, maybe. But that’s only because of the scarcity of mangas when I was growing up. Apparently, manga has a wealth of material that can be translated into cinematic narratives, and Hollywood hasn’t even begun to tap into that potential yet.

•These Mexicans are really good filmmakers. Let me run down a few names here: Del Toro. Cuarón. Iñárritu. Okay, wait… Apparently, director Robert Rodriguez is Mexican-American. Still, there’s Mexican blood in there. Why are these Mexicans such good visual storytellers?

•Okay, so James Cameron produced this film. Great. I mean, Cameron might be a bit lacking in the narrative aspect of his films to elevate them into cinematic masterpieces. But the guy knows his craft. The guy knows filmmaking. From the technical to the technological, the guy knows everything about film. Which is why I can’t wait for the Avatar sequels.

•All right, so this is actually one of the very, very few films this year (and these past few years) that was actually shot on native 3D (meaning actual stereo 3D, using two cameras). One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that real 3D seems a bit mild, unlike converted 3D, which tends to pop out exaggeratedly. The reason for this is that with converted 3D, the stereographers have more control over the elements, so they can choose which element they want to bring to the fore and which they want to subdue. With native 3D, the lens separation happens during filming, leaving the stereographer with very little room to manipulate the stereo effect.

•Andy Serkis used to be the king of motion capture acting. Well, maybe not the king, but he was Hollywood’s go-to guy after showing us what motion capture can do with his performance as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies. Even during 2013’s Tintin, Serkis still outperformed everybody. Now, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Did you know it’s called “performance capture” now? They don’t just capture an actor’s body movements, now they can capture even an actor’s facial expressions. Although I think there are two possible reasons why Alita’s facial expressions look so realistic: 1) Rosa Salazar, aside from being a good actress, is also a very talented performance capture artist; or 2) the technology has advanced so much to the point that even regular actors can be as good as Andy Serkis was ten years ago.

•My god, Weta is awesome. They were already awesome since The Lord of the Rings, but now they’re even more awesome. I can’t think of a word better than awesome, but if there was such a word, Weta would be that. The special effects in this film are just so flawless. I’m pretty sure Weta would be the ones handling the Avatar sequels, and I’m just really excited to see how good the technology would be by that time.

•Okay, so I guess it is possible to fall in love with a robot. I used to be very vocal about my opposition to any form of human-robot romantic relations, even if it was with the formless artificial intelligence in 2013’s Her. But Alita: Battle Angel seems to have shown me that I shouldn’t speak with finality, because it is possible. Take Alita, for example. Sure, she’s got huge eyes, but you’d get past that after a bit. Alita had me with her smile. Why did the filmmakers have to make her so photorealistic? Damn you, Weta.

Yoga with Adrienne Alita



Alita Battle Angel. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 8/10
Christoph Waltz: +0.1
Jennifer Connelly: +0.1
Mahershala Ali: +0.1
Character designs: +0.1
Final rating: 8.4/10
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