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Random Thoughts: Spider-Man: Far From Home, or Superheroes and Teen Romance Can Co-Exist In the Same Movie

Bromance mode: on.

1. My god, Zendaya is so beautiful. I mean, Laura Harrier was hot, but Zendaya's beauty is on a whole other level.

2. Not many superhero movies focus on love stories. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a superhero/detective movie, or to quote my review from 2014, "it's a thriller mystery that just happens to be set in the Marvel Universe". Spider-Man: Far From Home in my opinion is a great teenage love story that just happens to be set in the MCU. You know it's a great love story if it makes you feel giddy as a schoolboy again.

3. Okay, with Mysterio using state-of-the-art holograms, I guess that makes him the MCU super villain that's hardest to beat. His power is similar to the X-Men villain Mastermind, except Mysterio uses technology and not mutant powers. Since Mysterio messes up one's sense of sight and sound (his illusions are visual and auditory in nature), I guess the heroes that stand a chance of easily defeating him would be Wolverine (he can sniff him out) and Daredevil, I guess. So yay for Spidey and his Peter Tingle!

4. The scene with Peter Parker swinging through the streets and canals of Venice is one of the most visually spectacular scenes in the film. I guess we've gotten so used to the costumed Spider-Man doing the webslinging, so seeing a human form do those aerial acrobatics is indeed a sight to behold. Plus, it doesn't look as fake as, say, the special effects ten years ago.

5. Ah, Marisa Tomei. She remains sexy as ever. She's an Oscar winner, by the way, did you know that? Well, that's probably slipped your mind, but it doesn't matter. She isn't in this movie to flex her acting muscles, anyway.

6. Aunt May dating Happy Hogan is hilarious. Happy has always been this arrogant adult around the web-slinging teenager, although he still acts quite smug about his romantic intrusion into the Parker household. Peter Parker not whooping Happy's ass just goes to show how well May and Ben raised their nephew. I'd have given Happy a hard time if I were in Peter's place.

7. Okay, why does Peter get to call his aunt by her first name? Maybe it's an American thing, but that's kind of a no-no in Philippine culture. So what if it was his late Uncle Ben that was his biological relative? May Parker is still his aunt by marriage, and as such deserves to be called by something that connotes respect.

7. Wow. J. Jonah Jameson is still played by J.K. Simmons. In Hollywood, when one says "reboot", the entire cast and creative team is scrapped in favour of new players. Tom Holland is the third screen iteration of Spider-Man, and his version is the second reboot. J. Jonah Jameson appeared in the first iteration with Tobey Maguire, was absent in the Andrew Garfield reboot, and then reappears in this film in the end credits scene. The only reason I can think of why Marvel decided to stick with J.K. Simmons is because that man IS J. Jonah Jameson. Although I'm sure a bit of casting effort can give the audience a new J. Jonah Jameson, everybody knows J.K. Simmons was born to play the part.

8. In relation to the above, I would argue that J.K. Simmons isn't the first Marvel character to play the same role in a franchise reboot. That belongs to William Hurt, who played General Ross in the Edward Norton iteration of The Incredible Hulk, and also played the same character in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame. Except the last two weren't really Hulk movies, so yeah. It's complicated.

8. Martin Starr is an awesome. I only know him as Gilfoyle from HBO's Silicon Valley, but I can tell how good an actor he is, because his entire character is different. Gilfoyle is a lazy, arrogant Satanist with a deep voice, while as Mr. Harrington, he is a believable high school teacher managing day-to-day school stress.

9. The black and red Spidey costume is actually pretty cool. The Spidey costume I was used to was the old red and blue suit, the blue of which could range anywhere from RGB blue to dark navy blue. Seeing red and black on this iteration of Spider-Man was a welcome surprise indeed. The one in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse doesn't count, beause that one's dominantly black with red highlights.

10. What's up with Nick Fury? So was he a shape-shifting Skrull all along? How long has this been going on? Also, why the twist? I know this is the end of Marvel s Phase 3, but what does that mean for Phase 4 if Nick Fury wasn't who we thought he was all along? Ugh, so many unanswered questions.

"Slow down, I need to be nearer the camera. Because you're taller than me."



Spider-Man: Far From Home. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 8.6/10
No Zendaya nudity: -0.1
No Marisa Tomei nudity: -0.1
Jake Gyllenhaal: +0.1
Samuel L. Jackson: +0.1
Jon Watts's directing: +0.1
Final rating: 8.5/10

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Random Thoughts: Rocketman, or This Is Better Than Bohemian Rhapsody

"Freddie Mercury's got nothing on me."

1. I came across Dexter Fletcher as an actor in HBO's Band of Brothers and Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. That's why it came as a pleasant surprise that he can actually direct. I don't know why, but I have great respect for actors-turned-directors. It shows a seriousness to the craft, and a love of the art form. He actually took over the director's chair in last year's Bohemian Rhapsody after some production problems forced the studio to fire Bryan Singer, although Singer retained sole directing credit. Rocketman gives Fletcher full credit, and the director totally deserves it.

2. Taron Egerton is one underrated actor. This has already been pretty evident from 2015's Eddie the Eagle. He's not the typical Hollywood pretty boy (maybe because he's Brit), and he doesn't have the standard multi-ethnic American look (also maybe because he's Brit). It's not his looks, though, that needs to be utilised. It's his acting chops.

3. Speaking of underrated actors, so is Jamie Bell. He's very low-key in almost every movie he's in, able to blend into his role, and not standing out as one of those "Hey, I know that guy, he looks familiar" kind of actors. I think both Taron and Jamie Bell are underrated because they are not boxed into specific molds. They aren't chiseled action stars, or boys-next-door, or leading man types: they're versatile. That said, Jamie Bell played Bernie Taupin marvelously because, as in real life, Taupin never upstaged Elton John, but contentedly remained behind the scenes.

4. Admittedly, I am not a huge Elton fan. I do know a lot of his songs, though, and I can sing some of them from memory. That's how popular he was. Apparently, his discography goes way deeper than the usual karaoke staples, and Rocketman introduces most viewers to a body of work any musician would aspire for. For those experiencing Elton John for the very first time, this film acts as a pretty comprehensive introduction to the man and his music.

5. Magical realism is a technique or style in fiction that "uses magical elements to make a point about reality". It is used more in literature, popularised by the literary giants of Latin America, but it is also used in cinema, although not as many films have pulled it off correctly (the ones of note are the French film Amelie from 2001 and Tim Burton's Big Fish from 2003). The correct way to utilise magical realism is by using the technique sparingly: make the established reality appear solidly real enough, with the magical elements acting merely like sprinkles on the ice cream of reality. Dexter Fletcher's decision to use magical realism to tell Elton John's life story has been one of the best decisions in the making of this film.

"Are you supposed to be a bird of paradise or something?"
"Nope. A sarimanok."

6. Hairspray is a musical. Les Misérables is a musical. Ray is a biopic. Bohemian Rhapsody – if you'll agree that it's about Freddie Mercury and not Queen – is a biopic. Rocketman, however, straddles both worlds: Rocketman is a musical biopic. A biopic is a feature film about a certain person, which makes it biographical in nature, and is usually told as straight-up storytelling. A musical, on the other hand, uses song and dance in lieu of the usual dialogue exchange (it can be for some scenes, or it can be for all scenes). Rocketman does both: it tells the story of Elton John, and it uses song and dance to tell that story. Song and dance numbers in musical biopics are not merely incidental to the story; they are an integral part of the story.

7. Richard Madden's hair is annoying. I guess I got so used to him as Robb Stark that even the sight of him without facial hair is annoying. But it's not just his facial hair (or actually the lack thereof) that bugs me. It's his sleazeball hairdo, combed to the side and long at the back, like some douchebag from Elizabethan times. It's very cringe-worthy, in my opinion. Ugh.

8. If you've known Elton John in his early days, you'd know he was a flamboyant showman, given to loud and extravagant costumes. I wouldn't say they're 100% accurate, but I'd say they're pretty close. There's even a side-by-side comparison in the end credits, showing the real photographs beside the modern recreation, and you can see there are very small, very subtle differences in the wardrobe used. It's the spirit that matters, anyway, not the one-to-one correspondence down to the last sequin. Nobody really cares about that.

9. A musical is an audio-visual experience. The songs and music, those are the audio part. The visual part would be the dance and choreography. These visual elements work very well for Rocketman because of the gorgeous camera movements and the smooth transitions. I wouldn't be surprised if they adapted this into a theatre musical for Broadway or the West End.

10. It doesn't really matter if Taron Egerton can't play piano. In case you noticed it, there are no shots showing Taron's hands actually playing the piano. He probably knows how to play a little, but not enough to fake being a virtuoso like Elton. His performance is believable enough, and his acting as sincere as it can get, that no one really cares if he's actually playing piano or not.

"Just stay in the background, Madden, your hair sucks."



Rocketman. UK/USA/Canada. 2019.



Original rating: 8.4/10
Bryce Dallas Howard: +0.1
Stephen Graham: +0.2
Final rating: 8.7/10

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Review: Toy Story 4, or Ugh I Hope This Is the Last

Strangely, Duke Caboom looks a lot like Keanu Reeves.

I've said this over and over again: I am not a fan of sequels for profit's sake.

That said, Toy Story 4 should not have been made. Toy Story 3 would have been the perfect closer, as the entire Toy Story franchise would've focused on Andy and his relationship with his toys. We began with Andy as a young boy, and ended with Andy going off to college and passing on his toys to someone worthy of playing with these magical mischief-makers. Toy Story 3 was the perfect ending we all needed.

But that's that. Toy Story 4 did get made. So we're gonna have to deal with it.

The good thing about this fourth film is that it wasn't terrible. It wasn't bad at all. Well, it wasn't perfect, and neither was it great. It was just... good.

The rest of the cast, I believe, reprised their roles, led by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as Woody and Buzz, Annie Potts as Bo Peep, Joan Cusack as Jessie, Wallace Shawn as the slightly neurotic Rex, John Ratzenberger as Hamm, and Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head. But the best thing about this ensemble would be the new additions. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Key and Peele fame play the amusement park stuffed toys Ducky and Bunny, Christina Hendricks plays the creepy doll Gabby Gabby, Tony Hale plays Forky, while the Internet's boyfriend Keanu Reeves plays Duke Caboom, the Canadian daredevil with a penchant for motorbikes. If only a ten-movie deal were in order, these new guys definitely need to be back.

The thing that ties the whole four-film series together would be Randy Newman's music, which has Toy Story written all over it. Newman's country-like drawl set to the soothing sounds of acoustic steel guitars has been the series's signature sound since Toy Story's debut in 1995, and to deviate from that now would be alienating to the fans, especially those who didn't want a fourth movie in the first place.

All in all, Toy Story 4 feels like an epilogue. But not just your usual epilogue – it feels like an epilogue that forces its nostalgia on its viewers, sort of like having a completely wrapped trilogy and then going, "Hey, wait! We still have more little anecdotes to share! Don't leave!" Honestly, though, I hope this is the end of the series. New and original films are what's missing in Hollywood right now, and it seems that even the pre-movie Pixar short film, the last great venue of original animated storytelling, was taken out of the equation. Bring it back, please.

"Nah, I don't think we're getting our own spin-off."



Toy Story 4. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 8.0/10
Rashida Jones as one of the story writers: +0.1
Badass Bo Peep: +0.1
No Pixar short: -0.3
Final rating: 7.9/10

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Random Thoughts: Men In Black: International, or Let's Take This Franchise In a Whole New Direction

"If you're black and I'm white, does that make me Tommy Lee Jones?"

1. Tessa Thompson rocks. I'm not really sure if she's a lesbian in real life, but she is hot. She rocked Westworld, she rocked being an Asgardian, and she sure can hell rock a black suit as a Man Woman In Black.

2. God, I really hate Chris Hemsworth. The guy's so good-looking, he can actually pull off pink slacks. Pink! I mean, not hot pink, or the warm pink that borders on fuchsia. It's baby pink. And he can pull it off without a hitch. Don't you just hate someone like that? 

3. Although this is technically a spin-off, MIB: International manages to retain the look and feel of the original trilogy. Usually, a spin-off is granted a blank slate, which the filmmakers could have used to their advantage. This was seen in films such as The Force Awakens, which paid homage to the look and feel of the original Star Wars saga while at the same time venturing off to explore uncharted territory to expand the universe. MIB: International does just that, and shows a lot of potential in universe-expansion should it decide to continue the International spin-off as a new trilogy. 

4. The black dreadlocked twins remind me of the twins in The Matrix Reloaded. They're also both like the coolest characters in their respective movies. 

5. I love the MIB font. I forgot what the font is called, although it is mentioned at the end credits. I just forgot to take note of it. So I guess I'll have to wait for the video release to catch it again. There are a lot of imitation typefaces out there, but I want the original one.

6. Chris Hemsworth isn't carrying the whole film, which is nice. You'd think that being the one with top billing, he'd carry the whole film, and that the entire thing would collapse without him. Definitely not true. Tessa Thompson can definitely hold her own, and I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to do a sequel with just her and without Hemsworth.

7. The alien character designs for the first three films feel very unique, like they actually belong to the Men In Black cinematic universe and nowhere else. The character designs for this film, on the other hand, feel more like Star Wars, like they had J.J. Abrams's seal of approval or something. That's a good thing, don't get me wrong; I guess I just miss the uniqueness of the old aliens.

8. Chris Hemsworth's comedic chops are what will probably fuel his acting career long after his good looks have faded away. We could already see glimpses of this from Thor: Ragnarok, and even his female co-stars in Ghostbusters had nothing but praise for how funny he is. I guess it's unfair to the rest of the males on this planet that Chris Hemsworth gets all the good looks and humour.

9. I miss Tony Shalhoub. His Jeebs character in the previous films was one of my favourite characters in this series, and short as it is, every second of his screen time is priceless. He could have had his own spin-off, God bless him.

10. Rebecca Ferguson was underused. Yeah, granted she had weird hair and four arms, but still. Or was that three arms? Whatever. If you have someone as beautiful as Rebecca Ferguson in your movie, you should make the most of it. I wish they'd shown more of her face, though. But I guess she chose this role for a reason, and that is to show the world that she's more than just a beautiful face. She actually can take on the weird roles, too.

"Just try not to gain weight for the sequel."



Men In Black: International. USA. 2019.



Original rating: 8.0/10
No Rebecca Ferguson nudity: -0.1
No Tessa Thompson nudity: -0.1
Emma Thompson: +0.1
Liam Neeson as the bad guy: -0.1
F. Gary Gray's direction: +0.1
Dreadlocked twins: +0.1
Kumail Nanjiani: +0.1
Final rating: 8.1/10

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