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    1. Logan Review

      The
      in Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine story is bittersweet, to say the least. After Deadpool paved the way for “rated R” comic book possibilities, X-Men fans were treated to this character’s swan song in the best way possible.  As we say good-bye to Jackman, we can only wonder if anyone else will be worthy of unleashing the adamantium claws.  While the fanbase knew this was coming, Patrick Stewart took this time to throw his retirement of Professor Xavier into the mix. While this certainly marks the end of a legacy, Logan certainly is a film to go out on. 
      [caption id=attachment_20172" align="aligncenter" width="2400] L1006049 - Hugh Jackman stars as Logan/Wolverine in LOGAN. Photo Credit: James Mangold.[/caption]

      A Dark Time For Mutants
      In the year 2029, mutants are on the brink of extinction. The time of the X-Men has long past and James Howlett, aka Logan, aka Wolverine, is struggling through his illness rattled life working as a chauffeur.  He lives with an ailing Charles Xavier and a mutant tracker, attempting to live a quiet life when a mysterious woman enters his life. Gabriela Lopez pleads with Logan to help escort a young girl named Laura to North Dakota to a place called “Eden."  After an initial refusal, it becomes very apparent that Laura is no normal child when a legion of soldiers known as the Revenant tries to track her down.
       
      Logan is trapped in a crossroads between caring for Charles and protecting this girl, but much more is at stake than he may realize.
       


      Not Your Typical Comic Flick
      While the title would make it seem like this “should” be a comic-bookie flick, I assure you it is not. After the first few scenes, it’s very clear that this movie is rated R for a reason. That being said, it doesn’t try to hit viewers over the head with it. There is swearing, a fair amount of gore, but the movie isn’t rated R just for the heck of it. The film is able to hit the right narrative tone because of it.
       
      We are introduced to a worn and weary Wolverine and it is obvious that he’s a shadow of his former self. The story is heavy with the reality that the world has changed; mutants are no longer a part of it. At the same time, with the introduction of Laura, there is a glimmer of hope. There is a lot of heavy tension throughout the film. It's balanced with some quiet moments and character building. The narrative was very character focused and it really hit all of the feels. The only thing the film seemed to lack was action.
       
      Don’t get me wrong – there was action. However, it was spaced out (probably to allow the audience to catch a collective breath.) When the action scenes did commence, they were worth the wait. There was one scene in particular that really captured that old Wolverine magic, but it was very brief.  I guess that’s part of Logan’s theme: passing the torch to the next generation. I only wish I got to see a little more of that generation.
       

       

       


      The Wolverine Himself
      Actor portrayal: what can I say about it? The actor portrayal is spot on as always. Hugh Jackman is Wolverine – and it’s interesting to see him play this character from a different perspective. Sir Patrick Steward is remarkable as always as Professor Xavier.  The real stand out is Dafne Keen as Laura Kinney. The film rested on a connection with this little girl and she delivered. She played the role with ferocity and quiet rage that could put her co-actors to shame.
       
      Finally, we come to the villains. Boyd Holbrook does a decent job playing a cocky jerk, while Richard E. Grant follows up with a creepy scientist. While the film was great, the villainy wasn't on par with any legendary antagonists by any means. Then again, this really wasn’t what the film was shooting for.
       


      Logan: Final Thoughts
      This is truly the end of an era. While all of the films with Wolverine weren't exactly stellar, Hugh Jackman did the character justice. Logan is a wonderful send-off, and I'll admit it left me feeling a little hollow inside. This may be the last X-Men film starring Jackman and Steward, but their portrayal will always be the one to beat.  One can only hope that we can follow the new generation and that they prove better than the last.
       
       
       
      So what do you all think? Have you seen Logan?  Need more action? Check out John Wick: Chapter 2.  Let us know in the comments below!
       


        • Post Type: Review
    2. Things and Ideas: The Twilight Zone

      I began writing this a long time ago in the heat of the moment. I had just heard that there would be another unnecessary remake, this one of a much beloved series that helped to define who I am as a person. Irreplaceable. I heard it would be lead by someone I respected, but that did little to cool the fire at the time. Even now, fast approaching the premiere, I am not sure how to feel or what to think. I find it difficult to actively root against just about anything and I do hope that Jordan Peele and crew get to flex their creative muscles and continue to add to the beautiful world of clever, decisive social commentary in media, but I am apprehensive.
      We have better technology and more ways of measuring people’s wants and reactions, which has lead to amazing shows. The existing comparisons will exist no matter what, but I personally have the feeling of witnessing uncanny valley. Digitally rendered faces are flawless, without scars or asymmetry, but there is still something off. I still prefer my imperfect crew. Maybe people would have preferred new Cola if they weren’t already used to the flavor of Coke, but that doesn’t erase the existence or deep-seeded memories of enjoying one on a hot amalgamation of a childhood summer day. So while there will be a comparison, how could it compare? I feel like that is a fair mindset to go into this process with.
      Identity theft is not a joke, Jim.
      Remake Culture
      We’re at a point in time where having disgust towards remakes, reboots, and adaptations is getting its own remake, but it just doesn’t stop. Most of them are innocuous, either verging on annoying (News Flash: Charmed doesn’t need to tell me it’s feminist every five seconds. It never did, because it always was. The intelligence of the audience just used to be trusted to see that in the first incarnation.) or vaguely amusing (Pikachu is being voiced by… Deadpool?), and there are even a few that could be exciting- how great would it be if Ryan Gosling reprises one of his first guest star roles in the feature film version of Are You Afraid of the Dark? However, this third reincarnation of The Twilight Zone was really getting under my skin.
      Culture, Commentary, and the Human Condition
      For those of you who somehow are unaware, The Twilight Zone is a cultural landmark and to call it “influential” would be the understatement of the century in this dimension and the rest. It was an incredibly popular show that took risks and played with formats, each episode having its own meaning, yet fitting in to the overarching theme of the show. It was an expansive universe, sprawling between half-hour and hour long episodes, that extended into other mediums. I even found a few Twilight Zone books that I absolutely cherish. So much of modern entertainment has been influenced by it that naming just a few titles would be an injustice, as the range goes far beyond Sci Fi shows. Replaying episodes and creative ways of escaping censorship have origins with The Twilight Zone. Even mainstream comedies and dramas give their regards to the phenomenon, so why does anybody feel the need to dredge it through the mud in yet another completely unnecessary and, moreso, insulting remake?
      Given the general consensus of “meh” towards the second remake to give some extra push to the writers along with the renaissance of SciFi/Horror in recent years, I actually don’t doubt that this version won’t suck, to put it bluntly. I have faith in Jordan Peele and I was glad to hear that he is trying to find his own voice in the Narrator role. Get Out, despite having plot holes that you could sail a ship through, was a good, strong movie and Us is absolutely blowing up right now, which does make this the perfect time for this premiere, as I’m sure was preplanned. The choice of host was clever and suitable, as The Twilight Zone was smart, often tinged with humor, and hit upon both universal themes as well as modern issues. It looked to the past and to the future, being critical of the now and the always. We have been able to glimpse the ability to take on these views in Peele’s work. There is a decent chance some of his works were in some way inspired by The Twilight Zone and made his own, as is the best way to get into the psyche of Sci Fi/ Horror- building. Serling even had a humor to him, which doesn’t seem to be too well known, but it’s a necessary part of truly being able to flesh out the human experience.
      There is even a decent sized list of known actors playing parts in this anthological redeux, which is similar in many ways to the original, but I fear they are forgetting about how many of those actors did not become famous until after. I know, it’s hard looking back and trying to get into the actual mindset of how things were when the original was on air, but to miss that is to miss the point. The original guest stars really do read like a Who’s Who of ‘60s stars, though. Another key piece of the puzzle in the legacy of the original is the chances it took on then-unknowns, because that helped to pave its ability to last this long in some more minor ways.
      I understand that studios compete and known names are bankable, as they come with built in fan bases. The Twilight Zone is definitely very well known. I’m sure I’m missing some, but there are many other SciFi/Horror shows that either recently came out or are in production right now, so I get why everyone is trying to one up each other with new releases. For a small sampling, mostly of reboots and adaptations, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is getting a movie directed by the Guillermo del Toro, a The Lost Boys television series, a Buffy remake that by the grace of TV God has Joss Whedon on board, to join the recent hits such as The Quiet Place and it’s own sensory-deprived fraternal twin The Bird Box (hear no evil, see no evil, am I right?), The New Adventures of Old Sabrina, which was paced in a way that never would have lasted on a week-to-week basis, the latest Halloween, the slew of Neil Gaimen’s fantastical works that have finally made it onto the screen to varying degrees of success, and the blend of stereotypical feel and original content that formed Stranger Things and Black Mirror.
      Speaking of which, I’m not even too concerned about quality. Black Mirror is a cultural hit all on it’s own. It has been called a Twilight Zone rip-off enough times, but managed to maintain its own identity and fan-base. We are experiencing a great time for originality in this field and I AM IN LOVE WITH IT. I love it. I really, really love it and I’m so excited, so I’m insulted by the laziness that others are getting away with.
      I’m mostly afraid that this new version will make The Twilight Zone a rip-off of itself.
      There is no other Rod Serling.
      He was not perfect, but he didn’t need to be to be an effective and wonderful Host. Many of my idols are from that era and, as a result, have factors that are questionable to modern palates. I have relatively little problem separating the genius from the man when discussing the legacy of art, because it transcends individuals. Rod Serling was a very smart, creative individual, with a unique background, but you can find nuances from many other sources throughout the series. It’s beautiful, really. That is not something you recreate by trying to recreate it. That is something you are inspired by and move on to make something of your own; that’s how it was created itself! The Twilight Zone is a moment in time, a reflection. It manages to be so firmly stood in its era while free to roam around time and space. Leave it be. It doesn’t need anyone’s help to make itself continuously relevant.
      The Serling estate has not had control of The Twilight Zone since long before Rod’s death, but Carol Serling will be involved in this remake. This is honestly a relief to an extent, because she should have the best intent for the legacies at heart. I hope there will be more press statements and interviews involving her.
      Rod eventually invested himself in another anthological series, this one more macabre, The Night Gallery. It didn’t gain the traction that The Twilight Zone did, rearing in the birth of popular television and stunning audiences in black-and-white scenery that begat shades of grey, but it was considered a natural continuation. The ruddy bastardization that is the “Syfy” moniker is using the reboot artists behind Teen Wolf to capitalize upon that, as well. Teen Wolf had approximately nothing to do with the original movie and was a teen drom-com. Add this information to the few titles that came out that are being repurposed from the original and there are no clear inferences to be gained from this.
      On a Positive Note, Finally...
      It is rare to find a time so naturally inclined towards the use of the term “Twilight Zone” in real life as this moment in time. This feels true regardless of race, sex, age, political alignment, or morals. This realization is what I finally found comfort in regarding this reboot. We are looking at the world through collectively confused eyes and to have a global awareness that this is both weird and a shared experience can be kind of amazing.
      Furthermore, it excites me that there is still interest, though sometimes you have to feel protective about what you love. There is no way to untangle TTZ from my being; it has been a part of me since I was born, but I get it. We don’t need it right now, but it makes sense. I just hope that it’s more than a hoggy money grab (CBS All Access, really?) and I have found faith in the little and unimportant notion that is is more.
      The Value
      The Twilight Zone didn’t survive because it was The Twilight Zone. It survived due to its pervasiveness, it’s singular understanding of the human psyche, it’s vulnerable moments, it’s humorous moments, and it’s grasp of how the current relates to the total. The Twilight Zone makes you think about life and your place in it. It helps you to see possibilities, both good and bad. It expands the mind and person. It’s hopeful and teaches lessons, so many lessons. It was fearless. You don’t need to steal a name or format to do any of those things. A Twilight Zone by any other name could cut so deep, but maybe it’s okay to stop pretending that we are starting a conversation in favor of being aware and involved in the ones that are going on, the ones that have been happening way before “woke” needed a cute, monosyllabic term to describe a state of being that college freshman in Philosophy 101 have been getting high off of for years unknown. This can be a good thing. This can be fun and entertaining, but also informational. This can be a high quality show, but also an unfortunate example of greed and resting on laurels. It can even try to be as complex and giving as The Twilight Zone is.
      Let’s just leave it at this...
      Shatner better be involved.
      Wait, that’s not what I meant. I mean, he should be, but what I meant to say is...
      I have seen more shadow than substance, which does a disservice to the great legacy of The Twilight Zone, but the picture is starting to clarify and come into the light. Judgements can be saved and opinions will vary, but anything that helps to increase our ability to be human to each other and helps the legacy of the original to thrive has good in it.
      Sometimes you have The Howling Man, but I will prefer Night of the Meek here- positivity for the sake of itself, for the sake of each other, and that is another lesson
      from
      The Twilight Zone.

        • Post Type: Editorial
    3. The Umbrella Academy (2019)

      Will Put a Smile on Your Face and a Twist in Your Heart

      Superhumans with daddy issues, an apocalyptic prediction, a mysterious Monocle, a talking chimp and the best soundtrack of the year, which I’m confident enough to declare a month and a half into the year. You’ll have fun with this one or you’re not watching it in the right mindset, but it will probably pull you into it, regardless of where your brain was starting out.
       
      From the weird and wonderful mind that brought us the most influential alternative bands of recent times comes The Umbrella Academy, a thoughtfully adapted ten hour film that managed to keep the spirit of a very interesting comic book series alive.
       
      The basis of this story is that the estranged adult versions of a child superhero family gather for their adopted father’s funeral and find out that the world is about to end. I don’t know how your family reunions tend to go, but it does manage to get more interesting from there. You’ll be rooting for them to save the world just as hard as you’ll want to shake some sense into them- again, just like most family reunions.
       
      For those who are expecting outright dark and morbid scenes when the name Gerard Way gets thrown around, you'll have to rely on the particularly peculiar undertones and deep storylines to get your fix. The Umbrella Academy doesn’t rely on steady footing or letting you get comfortable with a genre, rather jumping into the fun with a variety of excellent music juxtaposed against strained family drama. The music plays a character almost as real as the actual cast, while the heaviness of the actual storyline plays out practically clandestinely, as though it were normal.
       
      Slow to start, but expertly paced, once the backstory is set, The Umbrella Academy quickly grabs your attention with stunning scenes and clever dialogue. Consequential actions and feelings are always well thought out, making this world a full experience. This show does not feel the need to spoon feed information to you; the audience is trusted to figure out what is going on at the rate information is being given. Only occasionally is a piece of inferable information spelled out, such as the fact that Sir Reginald Hargreeves never bothered to give his adopted children actual names, instead giving them the monikers of Number One through Seven, being stated flat out as a point of contention during a funeral scene.
       
      Thoughtfully crafted in many small ways, this complex family shows realistic relationships in an unreal setting. From the minor alterations in the CGI effects to show how their powers advance as they gain increased control to the overall character arcs making natural flows from their unusual youths to adulthood. It would be too easy to compare these superhuman children in their masks and school uniforms to the mutants at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, but for anyone who remembers and misses Pushing Daisies, you will get delightfully reminiscent vibes to that type of fantastical world.
       
      The characters come to life in ways that make you genuinely care for them. You can easily feel the results of their unusual upbringings, full of expectations, but lacking in childhood comfort and normalcy, and the years they spent apart, becoming themselves. There are a few flat performances littered throughout, but the acting is mostly strong. Robert Sheehan’s performance is particularly well suited for this production- a video game character of a superpowered derelict who happens to pull off a skirt better than your girlfriend does, he’s the guy Tyler Durden would be apprehensive of. His over the top personality makes up for the accent that slips every now and again as he acts as a reflection for how normal most of the other characters learned how to appear. Playing dangerous rival siblings, Tom Hopper and David Castañeda bring some classic fight scene energy to the screen. The beautiful, telekinetic Emmy Raver-Lampman, Ellen Page, as the often underappreciated Vanya, and Aidan Gallagher, who does reasonably well as a character who basically plays two roles, unencumbered by spatial or
      , filling the older and younger mental versions of himself in a consistently 13-year old appearance, round out the main cast. It is often difficult to take younger actors serious as mentally older and his method has an odd reminiscence of another aged-beyond-appearances character, Bernard the Elf from The Santa Clause. Even when the age isn’t believable, the stark snarkiness makes the character too likeable to actively notice it. Nothing is out of balance in this series that doesn’t seem to have an intent to its displacement, which results in a wonderful and beautiful level of absurdity and levity this creation makes the audience accept, even while they are trying to ward off the end of the world. 
      Lest you forget this is an adaptation of a comic book, there are villains with absurd mascot heads, a robot mom in early stage hardware dementia (Trigger Alert), and Dr. Pogo, a highly intelligent chimp, the later often ushering the story along and adding key pieces of information.
       
      It’s weird and fun; it might not be for everyone, but I would advise you to give it a chance. Give this show a real chance, get into it, and just have a blast enjoying the ride and the superb music choices that go along with it. I bloody love it and you might just, too!
       
      Easter Egg Theory: Don’t Stop Me Now
      I promise.

    4. 7 Iconic Crossover Episodes in TV Shows

      Watching one TV show? Great! Watching two at the same time? It’s twice the fun! Here are 7 times we’ve been glued to our screens as our favorite characters from different shows come together:
      1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel
      The Yoko Factor
      [embed]
      [/embed]
       
      Commando Riley was a nice guy and all, but even in spite of the whole Initiative deal, he was a bit too much on the straight and narrow for our favorite vampire slayer. Things hadn’t been the same in the Buffy universe since Angel left for Los Angeles, so we were all happy when he came to sort things out in The Yoko Factor. But what really made this an iconic crossover episode was the incredible fight scene (and subsequent fight scene!) between Buffy’s two boys, with Angel, of course, taking the victory.
      2. Friends / Mad About You
      The One with Two Parts
      [embed]
      [/embed]
       
      In The Friends episode The One with Two Parts, we’re introduced to Phoebe’s identical twin sister, Ursula, who’s possibly even kookier than Phoebe herself. What some viewers didn’t know, however, is that Ursula, played by Lisa Kudrow, was already an established character on the hit sitcom Mad About You. Helen Hunt and Leila Kenzie make guest appearances in this episode as their Mad About You characters Jamie and Fran who mistake Phoebe for Ursula resulting in comedy and confusion all in one. 
      3. Grey’s Anatomy / Private Practice
      Before and After
      [embed]
      [/embed]
       
      After Meredith’s totally embarrassing ‘pick me’ speech in Grey’s Anatomy, Derek should definitely have run back into Addison’s arms. But it wasn’t to be and Addison up and left Seattle for Los Angeles, reuniting with old friends at their ‘Private Practice’. She didn’t stay gone long, however, returning to the hallways of Seattle Grace where the red-headed doctor was joined by Private Practice stars Audra McDonald (Naomi) and Taye Diggs (Sam Bennett) as they attempt to save the life of Addison’s brother.
      4. Family Guy / The Simpsons
      The Simpsons Guy
      [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eecsja7KvEA[/embed]
       
      Finding themselves stranded a long way from Quahog, Rhode Island, the Griffin family end up in Springfield, home of The Simpsons. Initially bonding over a taste for Apu’s donuts, Peter and Homer eventually end up in a squabble about beer, and both families begin to notice quirks in each other which make them think twice about maintaining their friendship. Iconic? Definitely. This crossover episode highlights the evolution of animation, comparing classic family comedies to their modern counterparts.
      5. Special Agent Oso / Handy Manny
      The Manny with the Golden Bear
      [embed]
      [/embed]
       
      As anyone with young kids knows, Special Agent Oso and Handy Manny are some of the best shows on the Disney Channel, but what happened when the two world’s collided? An iconic crossover was born! In The Manny with the Golden Bear, Oso is tasked with teaching a young boy to ride his bike, but uh-oh — the bike is broken! So a very special guest star is called in to save the day: Handy Manny and his tools. This episode is truly a kid’s favourite, teaching them the importance of working together as a team.
      6. Community / Cougar Town
      Critical Film Studies
      [embed]
      [/embed]
       
      Although he’s one of the best characters in Community, Abed certainly has his quirks! With somewhat of an obsessive personality, Abed clings onto people, ideas, and even TV shows, with Courtney Cox’s Cougar Town his favorite. Cougar Town is mentioned throughout the series, but it wasn’t until the Critical Film Studies episode that Abed mentions he recently had a bit-part on the show. And he’s right! Carefully watch the Cougar Town episode Something Good Coming, and you can spot him in the background!
       7. Mork & Mindy / Happy Days
      Pilot
      [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6EKSD5xM7M[/embed]
       
      As a Happy Days spin-off, it was only natural that we’d see a Mork & Mindy/Happy Days crossover episode at some point… we just didn’t think it would be so soon! The crossover occurred during the Mork & Mindy pilot episode, with alien Mork explaining to earth-dwelling Mindy that this was not his first time on the planet. In fact, during his previous visit, Mork had not only met The Fonz, but actually dated Laverne! Henry Winkler and Penny Marshall both make appearances through flashbacks. 

        • Post Type: Editorial
    5. Wonder Woman Review

      DC Comic's movie track record as of late has been pretty abysmal. With Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad receiving mixed reviews, it would take a little doing to pull them up before the release of Justice League.  Marvel has been a box office dominator with it's stand alone and ensemble films; Warner Bros. Pictures needed something to give them a boost. Wonder Woman definitely does that.  With a slow build-up and an action-packed payoff, Diana is the DC  character we've been waiting for.  Directed by Patty Jenkins, who brought us Monster,  Wonder Woman gives us a glimpse into a hero origin story that has never seen the
      . It was definitely worth the wait.
      A Trip Back to Themyscira

       
      After present-day Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) receives a memento of her past, we are given a glimpse of how Wonder Woman came to be. Raised on the island of Themyscira, the home of the Amazons, she trained in the art of war to protect the people of the world from Ares, God of War. While initially not allowed to train, Diana spars with her aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright).
       
      During on such session, an airplane carrying Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) arrives and crashes just beyond the island followed a legion of German soldiers.  The world is in great peril, and Diana believes that it is all because of Ares' master plan to destroy the humans. Against her mother, Queen Hippolyta's wishes (Connie Nielson), Diana returns with Steve on a mission to hunt down Ares and stop the killing once and for all. However, there is more to Diana than meets the eye. What will she find when she joins the 'modern' world?

      The Lasso of Truth and a Killer Theme
      At first, Wonder Woman moved slowly. While it was necessary to build-up her story, once the action started, everything started moving very quickly. It was very interesting to see a story based out of the WWI era, and the visuals in this movie were fantastic. I think I have to see it a second time just to take in everything. There is so much attention to detail and nothing brings a character to life better than a decent story, a unique backdrop and a killer theme.
       
      Diana is a wide-eyed idealist who faces a world she doesn't know with the mindset that she can save it. The movie doesn't shy away from the grim side of war, and it isn't afraid to tackle some touchy themes. It has amazing action scenes, but the film doesn't rely on them. While it is, first and foremost, a "super hero" movie, it speaks  about so much more like the duality of mankind, and what truly makes it worth saving. In fact, the more I think about this movie, the more I like it.
       

       


      Diana Prince, Steve Trevor and the Amazons

       
      The casting of this movie was spot on. Gal Gadot crushes it as Diana Prince. She manages to capture a regal and stoic look of an Amazon Princess, but displays an emotional depth that is critical for selling her roll. Without a convincing main actor, this film wouldn't nearly be as good . Gadot captures the heart of Diana and makes us feel with her. Chris Pine is also an excellent addition as Steve Trevor. He plays the cynic very well - but he is also a charming fellow with a heart of gold that is trapped somewhere in that gray area between right and wrong.
       
      Other stand-outs include Robin Wright in her turn as Antiope, (I was having a Princess Bride nerd moment) and David Thewlis as Patrick Morgan (Remus!). While I don't want to risk much in spoilers,  the film will have you guessing who the is villain until the very end. And how about those Amazons? They were some pretty bad-ass ladies! They definitely do not skip ab or leg day...or any other day for that matter.

      Wonder Woman: Final Thoughts

       
      Wonder Woman is a refreshing look at an origin story we've never really got to experience. It was poignant, slow-building and full of amazing visuals. The film was well cast with a killer soundtrack to match, and really - I feel like that is what puts it a step above other superhero films. Music plays a vital role in films; it really does bring the audience along for the ride. When that theme thundered through the theater, we all knew something was about to go down. I can't wait to see what they have in store for Diana Prince in the future.
       
      So what do you all think? Have you seen Wonder Woman? Perhaps you're looking for something a little lighter, like Guardians of The Galaxy 2. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
       


        • Post Type: Review
    6. Guardians of The Galaxy 2 Review

      It’s time to pop in the
      with Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Following the release of the first Marvel comic sleeper hit, fans were eager to see what direct James Gunn had in store for a sequel. Not only would he have to follow up his last act, Gunn was tasked with making all the characters work in this ensemble film - and make it possible to unite a bigger cast in the next Avengers flick.  Let's face it, Guardians of the Galaxy was a little unexpected. It managed to hold the balance of comedic timing, a good story, a killer soundtrack and it knew how to hit you right in the feels. Did Vol. 2 capture the essence of the first? Well, maybe. 


      Guarding the Galaxy
      We join our galaxy misfits in the midst of a job protecting valuable batteries for Ayesha, the leader of the Sovereign race, in exchange for Gamora's sister, Nebula. Following some crazy shenanigans, the guardians find themselves on the wrong side of the Sovereign's weapons.  Amidst their daring escape, the team is outmatched when they are rescued by an unlikely ally: a man named Ego, claiming to be Peter's father. With this new information, the group must split up, but danger awaits. Ayesha is not about to give up. She hires Yondu and the Ravagers to hunt down Quill and crew. With so many twists and turns, will the Guardians of The Galaxy manage to escape their enemies, and is Ego who he claims to be?
       


      Flip Over To Side B
      I'm going to get this part out of the way - Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is not as good as the first. It's really hard to make the sequel better than the first, especially when most of the story centers on one of the ensemble. I mean, there are intertwining stories that keep everyone involved. While that works, it still makes the story on a whole suffer a little bit. Another thing that suffered was the jokes. While most of jokes did hit, when they missed- they missed hard. Also, a main pain point for me was the soundtrack. The first one was so epic, but this one was a little lacking.
       
      Now, with that all out of the way, let's talk about what's awesome about this movie! The cast works very well together, and that is a must for an ensemble piece. The additional characters added new flair and each actor played their part very well. Baby Groot was equal parts hilarious and adorable, as expected. I loved Rocket - but I'm biased, since he is my favorite. And while the story did have it's weak points, it was still a lot of fun and it will draw you in.
       
      I really enjoyed the addition of Ego, Mantis, Nebula and Yondu. It was interesting to see how other characters fit into the original group and how they handled a new issue. The story wasn't so much about them being hired to save the day. The focus was a personal quest for all of them in the end, and it was really enjoyable.  Though not as good as the first, I really enjoyed where the story went.
       

       
       
       


      Paternal, Eternal, and Trash Bandits

       
      The returning cast in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was fantastic. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista were great - though Drax was a bit over the top when it came to the 'jokes.' Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper lent their voices for my two favorite characters: Rocket and Baby Groot. I just like the character dynamic. It's hard to beat.
       
      Karen Gillan also reprises her role as Nebula, and she was pretty good despite her constant intense face. I guess it's tough when your father replaces all of your body parts with machinery. However, out of all of the returning cast, Michael Rooker was the most impressive as Yondu. He really played his part well.
       
      On to the newcomers, Pom Klementieff and Kurt Russell were great additions to the MCU. They carry a bit of mystery and the payoff at the end is great. The cast chemistry in general really makes this movie. The Sovereigns play creepy "perfect" beings pretty well, and Taserface is a mix laughable and physically intimidating. It was a film well cast.

      Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Final Thoughts

       
      While it's tough for a sequel to surpass the original, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is a lot of fun. It manages to capture the spirit of the first, and it really focuses on character development. While not all of the jokes hit, it was still hilarious - and the post credit scenes are great, as usual. There may even be some surprise cameos! (There are...trust me.) If you are looking for a good time at the movies, this is one MCU flick you can't miss.
       
      So what do you think? Have you seen Guardians of The Galaxy 2? Or maybe you are looking for something more gritty, like Logan? Perhaps DC is more your speed with Wonder Woman (coming soon!).  Let us know what you thought in the comments below!
       


        • Post Type: Review
    7. John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

      Talk about tying up loose-ends. John Wick is back, because let’s face it…We all want to see him in the bloody, over-the-top action flick, John Wick Chapter 2. In this thrilling sequel, we join Keanu Reeves once more as he takes a turn as Baba Yaga to answer a call he cannot refuse. Considering how high the bar was set after the surprise hit, John Wick, the next chapter has a lot to live up to.



      Receiving The Marker
      Picking back up right where we last saw him, John Wick Chapter 2 starts in a heavy shoot-out as the Boogeyman attempts to recover his stolen car. After settling his debts and calling 'peace,' John officially bows out and returns home with his new unnamed puppy companion. Before he is able to settle into his retirement, an old friend comes knocking at his door. Crime lord Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) calls in a favor, handing over a blood oath marker that cannot be ignored. After reluctantly agreeing, as it is one of the unbreakable rules to refuse a marker, John Wick is sent on a hit that will ultimately shake the underworld's foundation.
       

       

       


      Welcome to the Continental
      John Wick Chapter 2 starts out exactly like an awesome action-movie sequel should - right where it left off. All of the audience's lingering questions are answered and we are treated to an awesome fire-fight before we've touched our popcorn. (Who am I kidding? That's gone before the movie even starts!) But there-in lies a little bit of a problem with this movie. All the loose ends are tied up, so what else is there for John to do? This is when the story relies on this previously unmentioned information about the marker, and it does work. However, it doesn't have the same power as the original. Force-ably repaying a debt isn't as bad ass as hunting down the bastards who wronged you.
       
      What's really interesting about John Wick Chapter 2 is the look inside the 'underworld' - or how being a hit man works. The movie takes us through an assignment from beginning to end, and it's cool to see that lore unfold. We get to see an international Continental and how quickly information goes through the wire. Also, the action scenes are amazing. I mean, that's the most important part to a flick like this. It does not disappoint! Some action sequences are actually pretty comical. It's great that this film knows what it is and doesn't take itself to seriously. It also movies very fast. You'll wonder where the time went.
       
      My main issue with the flick, besides the weaker motivation, is the weak villains. While Santino D'Antonio is a slimy bastard, his henchman Ares is pretty unremarkable. At some point, John Wick has to go up against a bunch of faceless enemies, and there-in lies the intensity. He never knows who will be coming after him. Regardless, while there are the 'main' villains, none of them are really up to par.
       


      Take The Blue Pill
      Keanu Reeves is awesome as John Wick, as usual. But nothing is as incredible as seeing Neo and Morpheus together again, even for a moment. Common plays a typical bodyguard, and Ruby Rose tries to be intimidating as D'Antonio's henchman, but neither is as imposing as they should be. They are fine, but not particularly noteworthy. Riccardo Scamarcio pulls of that coward with a lot of power character well-enough, but everyone is just overshadowed by the gun fire of Keanu Reeves. In fact, the only actors that really stood out were Lance Reddick and John Leguizamo. But then again, we really just want to see John Wick kick ass.
       


      John Wick Chapter 2: Final Thoughts
      Though not as awesome as the first, John Wick Chapter 2 is a pretty good sequel. It's an adrenaline rush from start to finish, and everything moves so quickly its 2 hour run time seems like ten minutes. The plot isn't as strong, but the action scenes make up for any failing the script may have. This chapter gives a glimpse of the underground and sets up the next chapter of John's tragic story. Given all the hype, I'm definitely excited to see the next one.
       
       
       
      So what do you all think? Have you seen
      ? How about Logan? Looking for something more family-friendly? Well, there's always Lego Batman. Let us know what you think in the comments below! 


        • Post Type: Review
    8. The LEGO Batman Movie Review

      Always be yourself…unless you can be Batman. Lego Batman gets the pleasure of encompassing the joy of the classic comic book without the pressure of being dark and gritty. This cheeky spin-off of The Lego Movie plays with the iconic superhero in a way that pokes fun at its roots and will have you clutching your sides. Starring the vocal talents of Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes, Lego Batman is hilarious way to spend the afternoon.
       


      The Bat Signal
      Several years following the events of
      , Batman has returned to Gotham City to fight crime. During a fierce show-down with his arch-nemesis, the Joker, Batman says some choice words that hurt the Crown Prince of Crime, causing him to seek the ultimate revenge. Oblivious to his enemy’s plans, Batman attends a gala celebrating Commissioner Gordon’s retirement. In his confusion, Batman unwittingly adopts Dick Grayson, a young orphan, and he is introduced the new commissioner, who has a plan for eliminating the need for Batman. 
      After the Gala, Bruce Wayne tries to get a handle on fatherhood, his mixed emotions about the new commissioner, and life after Batman.  Of course, there is a more sinister plot a foot. Can the Dark Knight accept change and tackle his greatest fear in order to save Gotham City?
       






      To The Bat-Mobile!
      As far as Batman movies go, this one is nothing short of action-packed. In the first few scenes, everything moves so quickly it's hard to catch everything. The pace is off the charts until the beginning sequence is over. Everything slows down after that, except the jokes of course. I found myself laughing hysterically and each joke hit perfectly.
       
      I liked the twist on the genre and the movie went in a direction I didn't really think it would, and it takes a slightly different look at the Batman character. While the story itself didn't break any ground, it was enjoyable. The characters were bright and fun, it had a great script, but I never really got the 'feels' at the parts I should have. Then again, this is a very lighthearted movie - a lighthearted movie full of awesome pop culture references.
       
      Lego Batman is a comic-book extravaganza, but it doesn't quite reach Lego Movie status.
       


      The Justice League
      The voice acting in this movie is perfect. Will Arnett reprises his roll as Batman, and he's perfect for it. Zach Galifinakis had a lot to live up portraying the infamous Crown Prince of Crime. He pulls it off quite well, considering the tone of the film.  Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, and Ralph Fiennes complete this fun ensemble and brought the Batman Team to life.
       
      The soundtrack also made this cinematic ride more fun. The score by Lorne Balfe compliments the action, and the pop music adds an extra dash of silly. All of these elements blend together to make a very enjoyable flick.
       


      Lego Batman: Final Thoughts
      Lego Batman is an exciting and hilarious take on the beloved comic series. While it isn't up to par with Lego Movie, it's okay - because it wasn't really trying to be that. It was something much different, poking fun at one of the most well-loved DC comic book characters of all time. With a charming soundtrack, a ton of pop-culture fueled humor, and an excellent cast, this is a family-friendly film worth watching.
       
      So, deadicated fans, what do you think? Have you seen Lego Batman? or did you check out John Wick Chapter 2? And who's looking forward to 
      !  Let us know in the comments below!
       
       

        • Post Type: Review
    9. Revisiting the original Men in Black

      Retro Movie Time: the series that grabs an illegal time travel device and jumps off the Chrysler building in order to revisit the filmography of the past. Sometimes it's fun to take a look at what directors and actors of by-gone eras have given us - for better or worse. It's also important to see how these movies stand against the test of time! The first installment of this series takes a look at life from outer space coming down to co-exist with an unknowing human-kind in Men in Black.
       
      Wow, 1997! Has it really been 20 years already? Well, two sequels, an animated series, and aging stars are pretty much an indication of time passage, so it's certainly been awhile since Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones first teamed up for this action/comedy/sci-fi flick.
       


      Intergalactic Kegger
      The Men in Black are a specialized agency that handles all communication and business with alien life. The aliens, in turn, take refuge and live side-by-side with the unsuspecting earthlings. In order to be an MIB agent, however, one must completely erase his or her self from existence and cut all ties.
       
      Our story begins with Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), who is on assignment one evening when his aging partner fails to take down a hostile. After a quick encounter with a memory-erasing neuralyzer, K finds himself in need of a new partner.  Enter the nimble and hard-hitting James Darrel Edwards III(Will Smith) of the NYPD.
       
      Unfortunately, as the future Agent J is recruited, danger is afoot. (There's always danger afoot.) A malevolent life-form known only as a bug has made it's way to Earth. This aggressive alien is hell-bent on stealing something from the Arquillian royal family in hopes of starting a war.  Can Agent K and Agent J get it together long enough to stop warfare and keep the MIB a secret? You'll have to watch to find out.
       


      Don't Turn Green...
      Men in Black is basically a classic at this point. If you haven't seen it, it's a good blend of comedy and sci-fi. The movie moves quickly, but it's writing is smart enough to keep you chuckling until the end credits. There is a bit of absurdity in the script, but the dead pan delivery by Tommy Lee Jones makes it so perfect, you'd think it could be real.
       
      The film's pacing is pretty good; there is rarely a dull moment. What's great about the story is it's ability to make extraordinary problems and moments seem like every day occurrences. Yes, there may be a battle fleet of aliens about to destroy Earth, but the important thing is we do not know about it. The audience is privy to the MIB lifestyle, and while we may worry about the impending doom of the planet, others are blissfully unaware.
       
      It's a fun, cheeky, and action-packed movie that has a
      . It's one of those movies that's easy to get drawn into if it's playing on TV.
       

       


      The Men In Black
      Our main actors in this flick are very well cast. Our lead guys, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, make a wonderfully balanced pair. The old salt is teaching the newbie, and they have a wonderful dynamic.
       
      An additional cast member worthy of mention is the female lead, Linda Florentino as Laurel Weaver.  She takes up the mantle as the Deputy Medical Examiner, who's had a few run-ins with the MIB but can't quite recall thanks to the neuralyzer. She is also Agent J's love interest. While her part was pretty small, her character lacked real development. However, she does have a few zingers, and for what she was, the actress played her well.
       
      Another call out is the movie's villain, played by Vincent D'Onofrio. With a combo of special effects make-up and skill, the decaying Edgar skin-wearing bug was equal parts gruesome and hilarious. He struck a balance between creepy and humor that worked well for the film.
       
      Collectively, while none of the characters had deep backgrounds, it's not that kind of movie, so they worked well. The film was cast very perfectly and each player pulled off an excellent portrayal.
       


      Now...For an Eye Exam
      After 20 years, Men in Black is still a fun film to watch. It was different, charming, and though the fashion may be a bit dated, it's always great to watch. With a perfect soundtrack, and Will Smith fresh out of Bel-Air, this is a must for any movie buff's collection. While it may not be a deep film, it is a funny and unique take on the sci-fi genre without getting trapped in the technicalities of it. Men in Black is simply a great popcorn flick, with smart comedic writing that can last the test of time.
       
      Let's just forget that Men in Black 2 ever happened.
       
      So what do you think of Men in Black? Did you love it? Hate it? Remember it fondly? Let us know in the comments below.
       


        • Post Type: Review, Editorial
    10. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

      The Star Wars series has been a pop-culture staple for nearly 40 years.  I had to pause and take that in for moment as I considered that immense popularity that the franchise has.  Even before Disney started raking in the dough on this fatted cash cow, every few years or so, there was a Star Wars revival. Between each release, re-release, prequel, and sequel, the critical eyes of the Star Wars fans were squinted, and with the internet, they were poised and ready to attack.  With such a beloved series, there is high-pressure to do it justice. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story did just that.
       

       
       

      Rebellion Gone Rogue One: Spoiler-Free!
      Our story bridges the gap between Revenge of the Sith and New Hope. The Imperials are gathering up scientists to construct a space station so powerful it will eliminate planets in a matter of minutes. Upon it's completion, the struggling rebellion gets wind of a rumor that there may be a way to destroy this mass killing machine. The rebel Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is tasked with locating the Imperial defector carrying the very information could turn the tide of the war.
       


      Bridging The Gap
      The film makers had a difficult task ahead of them when they began putting together Rogue One. They had to strike a balance between established Star Wars lore, fan service, and create something that fit perfectly into that universe. (It was almost as hard as making this a spoiler-free review!) Adding too much fan service can take away from the story continuity, while not having enough lore could make the film feel like it's not part of the original series. There was a thin line to walk, and Rogue One manages to do just that.
       
      While the film has bits and pieces of 'fan service,' it doesn't waste a ton of time on it.  For instance, Darth Vader makes an appearance in the film - but though his presence is noted, it's not forced and it makes sense for the story. There are also a few other throwbacks that fit within the story frame. The nods to the past make sense. Much of what happens in the film also clears up loose ends from the established series.
       

       

       


      The Jedi, The Sith and The Rancor
      While the story is slow to begin, it's necessary to establish the new characters in this exciting adventure. And I do mean exciting. There were moments when I was literally leaning forward, grabbing the arms of the chair to hold myself back. The film does a great job drawing you in. The slow start helps establish the scene and it really does amp up the tension as the movie reaches its climax.
       
      Short of stepping into spoiler territory, I was so drawn in that even as certain events happened, I tried to convince myself otherwise. (So vague...I'm sorry. Go see it. You'll get it.) The film manages to not only look like a Star Wars film, but most definitely adds to its legacy.
       


      The Rebels of Rogue One
      Each of the roles are balanced and well thought out. I found myself rooting for each individual character and despising the villain. It was also an interesting look at the rebellion. Rogue One muddies up the line between "good" and "evil" a bit, showing that not everyone on each side is so strictly aligned.
       
      The cast was made up of mostly unknown actors. Felicity Jones really kills it as the strong and capable Jyn Erso, while Diego Luna makes a compelling counterpart as a rebel with a less than savory past. Though I usually have problems with the villain, Ben Mendelsohn does an excellent job portraying the sinister Orson Krennic.
       
      Short of mentioning all of the actors in this film, every character introduced fit the story so well! From the defective Imperial cargo pilot to the Guardian of Whills, they all managed to win me over in the short time we spent together. (Though I'd hate not mention Alan Tudyk's awesome voice acting!)
       
      Of course, the final character is the score! It's like a character at least. Michael Giacchino (Up, Call of Duty franchise) followed the footsteps of the great John Williams, and doesn't disappoint. He took a lot of influence from the legendary composer and truly helped take us to a galaxy far, far away.
       


      Final Thoughts
      I found it very hard to find criticize this movie, because I went in knowing what it was. It's a missing puzzle piece. It's not a "new series." It captures the spirit of
       without throwing in a ton of lightsabers, ewoks, or Jedi. It takes a perspective we haven't seen before, and it has a surge of action that is definitely worth seeing. 
      So what do you all think?  Have you seen Rogue One? What's your favorite part of the franchise? Let us know in the comments below! Stay deadicated!
       


        • Post Type: Review
    11. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

      The Harry Potter Universe is one that I was very sad to leave behind. The books are a defining moment on my pathway to becoming a writer. J.K. Rowlings is still an inspiration to me - but this is not
      It is an expansion of the world that J.K. Rowling has created, many years before Harry, his parents, and even Voldemort existed. Instead, the audience is treated to some wonderful additions to an already rich lore in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The movie is a blend of fresh ideas mixed with the familiar, allowing newcomers and fans to immerse themselves in a magical world that I've definitely missed. With an excellent cast and an invigorating soundtrack, it is a welcome return to the Wizarding World. 


      Welcome to the United States of America
      Our movie begins in 1926 New York City as wizard, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) makes his way through customs. The wizard world is much different in America, and it becomes abundantly clear that Newt is carrying a number of things he shouldn't. Unfortunately for him, he has a run in with a No-Maj, or muggle to the English Wizards, by the name of Jacob Kowalski. Shenanigans ensue after the two inadvertently switch cases and some of Newt's magical creatures escape.
       
      Unfortunately for Mr. Kowalski and Newt, this is the worst time for it. It seems that magical beasts are supposedly destroying the No-Maj's world causing a resurgence in witch hunters and tightened security by the Magical Congress of the USA (MACUSA.) Little do they all know, a much more sinister plot is underway and not everything is as it seems. Together with the help of a demoted Auror, Tina Goldstein, and her sister Queenie, Newt and Jacob must rescue the escaped animals before the MACUSA or other No-Majs find them.
       


      Where to Find Them
      Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them had a difficult job. It had to be a movie that felt like the Harry Potter series without being it. There had to be a balance between both worlds and the movie does a great job. The film draws it's audience in with the fantastic 1920s look with a magical twist. The fantasy world melds nicely with the world as we know it.  Another exciting addition to the Potter Universe is a look into American Wizardy. Up until now, there wasn't too much information, but what the movie displays it was very refreshing take on something fans know and love.
       
      Our hero is not a young boy learning magic and facing off against a dark lord. Newt Scamander is already an accomplished wizard and the cast surrounding him is much different than what we've seen. The subject matter and the characters manage to remain separate but familiar at the same time. The plot pacing was slow at points, but that allowed for a good foundation for the series to follow.
       
      Unlike other 'origin' films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does little to explain the characters and their motivations. The audience gets a feel for the characters on their own merit - and the actors bring them to life. Also, though the film is lovely to look at, it doesn't rely on special effects for a good story; they enhance it.   Frankly, the only other complaint I have with the film has to be with the 'main' villain, but even then, it's something the film builds on. It's clever, there are a few interesting twists, and it is a very enjoyable movie.
       

       

       


      Fantastic Actors and Magical Music
      One of the things that really sold me on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Newt Scamander. His character was just as charmingly awkward as it needed to be, and his love for the magical beasts really brought another level to the movie. His co-actor, Dan Folger, is very like-able as the No-Maj who accidentally fell into this crazy wizarding mess. Not to be out done, our leading lady Katherine Waterson pulls off the down-on-her-luck, former auror, Tina, while Alison Sudol displays a perfect example of a 1920s woman with the gift of Legilimency. Another stand-out is Colin Farrel's Percival Graves. It's hard to tell which side he's on and ultimately, it makes for good scene tension. The only casting choice I'm unsure about is Johnny Depp - but he has such limited screen time, it's uncertain how well he will fill out his role.
       
      The score for the film was composed by James Newton Howard. He did a marvelous job incorporating excerpts from earlier films and married it with original compositions to create something wonderful. The music captures the 1920s feel with a charmingly mystical touch, matching each scene perfectly.  When all of these elements combine, it makes for a truly enchanting movie.
       


      Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Final Thoughts
      Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a magical story that manages to distance itself from it's roots while paying homage to it. It's a wonderful display of an intriguing time period enhanced by a mythical touch. With loveable characters, complementary special effects, and an engrossing soundtrack, it is a must-see. Also, if you plan to see it in 3D, it looks pretty neat. What about you? Do you want to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them? What do you love about the Harry Potter series?  What's your patronus? -- sorry, too personal? Let me know in the comments below.
       

       
       

        • Post Type: Review
    12. Doctor Strange Review

      The cinematic Marvel Universe just got a whole lot bigger with the introduction of Doctor Strange. Up until now, Walt Disney Studios has taken us around the world, into outer space, and all the way to Asgard. It has presented technologically based, science infused, otherworldly and god-like heroes, but with this new entry, magic has made it's introduction. Doctor Strange, starting Benedict Cumberbatch, adds a new layer to the world of the Avengers, and it looks pretty incredible.
       


      Doctor Strange: The New Billionaire Playboy
      The movie kicks off with murder in a mysterious library and the pilfering of power magic. The audience is immediately introduced to the villain, the sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen.) Following an impressively visual fight scene, the story takes us to the operating room of Dr. Steven Strange. A brilliant neurosurgeon, Dr. Strange's charm and arrogance are apparent as he flaunts his superior knowledge and abilities. Unfortunately for him, he loses the ability to use his skilled hands.
       
      After pushing away everyone and losing everything, Strange is prompted by a former paraplegic to seek Kamar-Taj. Thus begins his incredible journey and discover of the multiple universes as well as his new path to become a sorcerer.  Of course, not all is right with the world, for Kaecilius wishes to use the magic he has stolen to consume the world in darkness. Can Dr. Strange look past his arrogance and ego to become the sorcerer needed to save the world?
       

       

       


      The Strange, the Awkward, and Visually Appealing
      A quick warning: if you are planning to see this movie, be sure you pay attention. The plot moves quickly and there is plenty to take in. The movie does a decent job capturing bits and pieces from the comic - and it is very exciting. The magical concepts are much different from what we've seen so far, and it's refreshing. The movie has it's funny moments, though sometimes the humor is out of place.  There were also a few characters that I felt were under utilized and acted a bit out of character. While the movie does a good job setting up this new part of the Marvel Universe, the actual story that take place isn't anything spectacular. It just helps that the special effects are amazing.
       
      The visuals also do a great job helping create a connection with the audience. The effects reminded me a lot of Inception, but of course it's used much differently in the movie. The scenes were visually stunning; this is definitely a very good looking movie. The magical scenes, the battles, and the other universes really helped me take the fictional ride. Of course, with Disney's budget, how could it not look amazing?
       
      One crucial part of the film that I felt was lacking was the soundtrack. There were some interesting swells; the more 'magical tracks' were very good. For the most part, the soundtrack was almost as forgettable as other Marvel movies. This is especially disheartening, since super hero films should have amazing music! I mean, Batman and Super-Man have awesome themes. Spider-Man has an awesome original theme! Not that I'm looking for something campy, but something that makes me identify with that super hero. A big step forward is that the composer, Michael Giacchino didn't use 'temp' music. The music for Doctor Strange is way better than previous Marvel films, but it could be even better.
       


      Who's Who in Kamar-Taj
      The stand-out actors in this film were most definitely Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. There was a lot of controversy over the 'white washing' of the Ancient One roll, and avoiding stereotypical casting choices, but she does a good job. She has that mysterious and
      going for her and she portrays that type of character pretty well.  The other actors were fine as well, but I had bigger problems with the writing then their actual acting. 
      Rachel McAdams plays Christine Palmer, a fellow surgeon and former love interest of Doctor Strange.  The problem with her is the major lack of her presence. She's an incredible actress, but her role is incredibly minor. The same goes for our villain; he is scary to look at, but he doesn't really have the build-up or the presence of a good bad guy. His background is glossed over, much like the big baddie 'Dormammu,' and we have to basically except that both of them as the enemy.  We don't get very much from other supporting characters either.
       
      I understand that this is 'Steven Strange's' origin; however, in order to by into his world we need to know about what's in it.
       


      Final Thoughts
      Doctor Strange is an exciting, visually stunning entry to the MCU. While the story arc isn't anything new, the subject matter is. It's a great popcorn flick with a few under developed characters, but a pretty fun way to spend an afternoon. The teasers are actually pretty exciting, too - so as always, stay until after the credits.  Have you seen Doctor Strange? What'd you think? Please leave your comments below.

        • Post Type: Review
    13. Shin Godzilla (Resurgence) Review

      The following review contains spoilers for Shin Godzilla

      Toho Strikes Back
      Though not without its faults, Shin Godzilla (also known as Godzilla Resurgence) delivers on all fronts. As any good and entertaining Godzilla film should do, Shin gives you a full serving of humor (both intentional and not), great visuals and destruction, music that adds to the experience rather than serve as just background noise, and a human plot that stacks up well against the best the series has offered in the previous 28 Toho productions.
      But of course, there aren’t only 28 Godzilla films. A pair of others were made in the West, the first of which was a failed attempt by summer blockbuster connoisseur Roland Emmerich. The film was such an afront to the Godzilla name that Toho immediately responded with Godzilla 2000. Not only that, but Toho eventually dubbed Emmerich's version of their legendary monster 'Zilla' because, as Toho put it, "They took the God out of Godzilla". Despite the fan backlash, Zilla is a part of Toho's official canon and it later appeared in Godzilla: Final Wars where it showed up just to be promptly obliterated by the real deal. It's 
      . After Final Wars, Godzilla would go into hibernation for over a decade until the West tried again.
      That second attempt was Legendary's Godzilla 2014 and it didn’t take long for Toho to repeat history and announce that they were bringing big G back in response. They boasted that this new Godzilla would be the biggest yet, reclaiming the title from Legendary’s Godzilla which had just taken it months prior.
      It felt as though Toho might have had a bruised ego. While Emmerich’s film was a disaster, director Gareth Edwards made a solid attempt at bringing Godzilla to a Western audience with Godzilla 2014. Despite having plenty of flaws, the movie did justice to the source material and respected Toho’s pride and joy. It was also a huge box office success, prompting Legendary to quickly announce that two more Godzilla films would be on their way. Despite my worries that Toho was rushing out a new movie for petty reasons, I remained optimistic.
      We could be in the early days of a Godzilla golden age. It's possible there will be two concurrent Godzilla series with Japan and America trading blows, movie by movie. What a time to be alive!
      A Godzilla Unlike Any Other
      When it was announced that Hideaki Anno would be directing Toho's newest film, many eyebrows surely were raised in response. Known for his background in anime and as the director of the Evangelion series, his hiring turned Shin Godzilla into a big wildcard. It was easy to think blending the style of an anime with a live action monster flick could backfire badly. Ultimately, however, it worked out pretty well.
      What Anno gives us is one of the most unique Godzilla designs we've seen yet. While mostly done in mostly good CG, there still seemed to be a bit of animatronics at work as well. While Anno claimed he wasn't satisfied with their efforts to keep up the Toho tradition of using a man in a rubber suit, they did end up using motion capture on a suit, as well as a puppet touched up with CG, and the end result is a deceptively classic feeling Godzilla.
      By using a lot of low angles looking up at Godzilla and distance shots showing the legendary kaiju in beautiful wide landscape shots, Anno is able to effectively communicate his monster's immense size and terrifying features.
      I use the word terrifying only half truly, for Godzilla's introduction is anything but. When we get our first look at Anno's creation...well, just look for yourself.
      Wait...that's not Godzilla!
      Godzilla's Evolution
      Oh, how the theater laughed. It's probably the googly eyes that most effectively derail this serious moment into one of utter hilarity but regardless, this version of Godzilla is simultaneously the worst and best thing my eyes have ever witnessed. I could see how a diehard Godzilla fan would see this and be offended but honestly, it's just freaking funny.
      What really caught me off guard was how unsettling this Godzilla actually was when we got to see more of it. As it shimmy shimmied its way through town (there's really no other way to explain how this thing moves), a jiggly fat neck wobbles to and fro opening gills that drench the ground in blood. Gross! At one point, Godzilla attempts to stand on its two hind legs, revealing not a strong, healthy looking creature ready to bring the destruction but instead a tortured abomination. This is a freak that probably wants to be annihilated and it's unsettling to watch. The whole thing is funny, disturbing, and depressing all at once. It's a mix of emotions quite unlike anything Godzilla has evoked in me before.
      And just when you think this introduction can't get any more bizzare, Godzilla evolves.
      Like a Pokemon.

      Oh God, someone hit B and stop this! It's starting to actually look intimidating!
      What we're left with is something that's starting to look like the Godzilla we know and love, minus the goofy googly eyes that still remain. Due to civilians still being in the area, Japan holds off on an attack allowing Godzilla to return to the sea to rest and when he returns, he's evolved a second time. This is when Godzilla starts to look very familiar. But don't think you know this Godzilla, its packing a few interesting surprises.
      Godzilla Reborn

      Pictured: Godzilla bringing the disco back
      Instead of rebooting the series as a sequel to the original Gojira, Toho and Anno decided to start from scratch. Shin Godzilla features a brand new Godzilla with a brand new origin story. I already touched on one major change, the fact that Godzilla looks very different and then evolves into a more familiar monster, but his looks and origin aren't the only things revamped.
      Godzilla's got some tricks up his sleeves, tricks we haven't seen before. The biggest of which is the monster's atomic breath, now a crazy sort of napalm breath/energy beam/disco show combo. And it's deadly. Godzilla ends up turning Tokyo into an infernal hellscape in minutes flat, one of the most powerful and destructive moments in Godzilla's long and storied history. It's the highlight of the movie and seeing it unfold in theaters was like a Godzilla sized dream come true. Unfortunately, this climax happens somewhere around the midpoint of the movie, the final act falls short of topping this spectacle.
      Some fans are saying these changes go too far, that it's too different and ridiculous! Well, to them I say see
      ,
      , exhibit C....
       
      The biggest issue I have with this new Godzilla is its demeanor. The monster barely shows any emotion outside of its anger induced rage fest. It moves very slowly and often looks like a statue. In fact, the movie basically ends with just that; a frozen statue Godzilla plastered right in the middle of Tokyo. I feel this all was a creative decision by Anno, perhaps wanting to use Godzilla as a stagnant but ever present threat to Tokyo. It fits with the commentary on the 3/11 disasters and makes sense, it's just a preference to want a more lively and emotive Godzilla.
       
      All in all, Anno has given us a very unique Godzilla, from a drastic departure in appearance, to evolutions and new atomic abilities, to humanzilla things emerging from his being. You read that right. Humanoid Godzilla beings trying to escape the monstrosity that is Shin Godzilla. Anno's monster makes us laugh, makes us cheer, and even manages to make us feel some of that authentic Toho terror and dread. Despite the googly eyes.
       

      Seriously. Humanoid Godzilla beings. Good luck sleeping ever again.

      The Human Element
      For me personally, the human plots usually end up being a Godzilla film's weakest link. Sure, some zany time traveling plots with aliens might entertain more than others but for the most part, Godzilla is usually bogged down by characters we don't care about giving dialogue that feels like pure filler. To me, this is not the case with Shin Godzilla, though I can see the possibility of people getting lost in the dialogue or bored during some longer plot heavy sequences.
      A Deeper Meaning
      This film operates like a behind-the-scenes documentary following the Japanese government as they deal with a surprise Godzilla attack. This means there's no human sub plots, no love story, no crazy sci fi. You're getting a rather realistic look at a natural disaster and a nation's response. While some might not like this, it's clear that Anno had a plan and knew exactly what approach he wanted to take and why.
      Shin Godzilla has a lot to say. It draws on the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami as well as the Fukushima meltdown that followed to provide a humorous satire on the response of the Japanese government. It becomes obvious when the Prime Minister goes on live TV, deceptively dressed in an emergency rescue suit (we as viewers know the man has spent all his time in conference rooms and meetings, not out surveying damages), telling the people that they need not worry about the monster making landfall. As soon as he says this, he’s interrupted with the news that Godzilla has already done so.
       

      It did what now?
      Subtle digs at government operations appear throughout the film, from constantly needing to change board rooms to an exhausting chain of command that must patiently be navigated to approve each order. Can we fire, can we fire, can we fire? Yes, fire. We can fire, we can fire. Fire away. But on top of the satire, there are several more serious topics Anno wants us to ponder as we watch:
      Japan's deep respect for Article 9, the part of their constitution that renounces war and the use of weapons. The Japanese Special Defense Force mentions several times that they are better suited for helping the citizens evacuate instead of fighting Godzilla.Japan's inability to defend itself and needing to rely on the United States to help with Godzilla. Japan does try to use force against the monster but they throw everything they have at Godzilla without even leaving a scratch on him. It's the Americans that eventually wound Godzilla when they come to help.Japan's role in the worldwide community and the older generation's passive ways, going along with the decisions being made for them. This even applies to the ridiculous notion of dropping a nuke on Tokyo to destroy Godzilla.
      Anno challenges us to come up with our own thoughts on these issues, to wonder if Japan should be given more autonomy and break with tradition to build a strong military that can defend themselves. We watch a sort of changing of the guard as an older generation gets replaced by a younger one and with them comes a shift in thinking. It's up to us to compare these two leadership styles and come to our own conclusions, though the character Yaguchi makes a pretty bold statement late in the movie basically yelling at the audience that Japan's Special Defense Force is the only hope for Japan's future.
      The Downside
      While we're given a deep and intriguing story, it does tend to drag at times as we get a couple of long dialogue heavy sequences. The most notable occurs after Godzilla's attack on Tokyo when Japan's new leadership studies Godzilla and finalizes their plan to stop not only the monster, but the nuke the world wants to drop on Tokyo. While they come up with an ingenious plot that they successfully execute, the explanation is overwhelming and difficult to follow. Dialogue in this movie comes fast and furiously, there's more characters than Game of Thrones, and whenever a new character or location appears, we get extra subs to tell us the information the movie thinks we need to know. At times I was reading as fast as I could and still couldn't get through everything. And if the screen wasn't crowded enough, sometimes English speaking characters would pop up adding Japanese subs to the hilarious mess.
      This wasn't so hilarious in the movie's final act however. The part of the film that digs most deeply into Godzilla's origin story was the hardest to follow. A man named Goro Maki had been studying mutations due to nuclear contamination, he knew about Godzilla and apparently so did the United States. Something happened to his wife, he commits suicide, and leaves behind all his research on an abandoned yacht. His research forms a sort of puzzle for the Japanese government to solve, which they eventually do by realizing they could fold his data printouts like oragami, unlocking everything they need to put their plan into motion.
      Yeah, I don't know. I'm not sure why Maki would make his research so cryptic if it could help stop a monster he knows very well. I'll have to wait for the Blu-ray release to see exactly what was going on with this part of the plot.
      Japan's Defenders
      Maki is sort of the most interesting character in this movie because of the mystery surrounding him, yet he never appears on screen. As for the others, I'm personally ok with Anno deciding to make his story driven by satire and political commentary instead of giving us a personal connection to any individuals. It's fitting that a large group of characters come together to defeat Godzilla, with no special emphasis on any one person. It would sort of contradict the film's message to have a single hero. Japan needs to decide if they want independence, if they want to be able to take care of themselves as a country. They decide yes and defend themselves, as a country not a person.
      In truth, none of the characters seem like they'd be all that interesting if we dove further into their lives anyways. This is something that can sadly be said about most Godzilla movies which is a shame. While most of the characters don't really stand out, one character in particular does. And not in a good way.
       

      "I'm Kayoco Ann Patterson and I'm totally spunky and a little funny. I want to be YOUR president." -Kayoco Ann Patterson 2028
      The problem with Kayoco is that in a story where you can reasonably buy into what is happening, all the political maneuvering and the messy chain of command present within the government, I just can't buy into her ever becoming president. She's a stereotyped character and no amount of suspended disbelief can make her aspirations seem plausible. Her English speaking scenes stick out like sore thumbs as well, especially her meeting with the US Ambassador to Japan. The man is portrayed like a cartoon villain, he's just a voice coming from a shadowy seat. Despite just needing to read a few lines, the voice acting is rather bad. The whole scene could have just been tossed. There's a few other American characters that have the same problem in their brief roles.
      And So It Ends
      As mentioned earlier, the Japanese government comes up with a pretty clever plan to defeat Godzilla, inspired by their findings in Maki's work. Essentially, they want to inject a blood coagulant into Godzilla cooling him down. The plan works, Godzilla is frozen, no nuke is dropped on Tokyo. At least not when the film ends.
      I've been thinking about this ending since I left the theater, it leaves a lot open to speculation. We're told that if Godzilla were to wake up, the countdown to drop the nuke would resume. That would give them roughly an hour to...do something, whatever they could do before Tokyo is wiped off the map. This combined with the humanoid Godzilla creatures I referenced earlier creates an ending that maybe needed just a bit more. Open ended is good but, unless there's a direct sequel, I think Shin Godzilla leaves too much on the table.
      Despite the flaws, Shin Godzilla's human plot rides its thought provoking nature to success. I may change my opinion a bit over time as I reflect back on this movie and watch it again, but right now I'm feeling pretty confident in saying it's one of the best human plots from any Godzilla movie. I can certainly see why someone might disagree, mostly because of the lack of personal character development, but the 1954 original Gojira is the only film in the series I can think of that delivers a comparably powerful plot and strong message about the world that inspired it.
      Final Thoughts
      A few scattered thoughts I have on other aspects of Shin Godzilla:
      The soundtrack is fantastic. The classic theme and sound cues are present, making sure we know that we're watching an authentic Toho Godzilla, filling us with feelings only Toho can provide. I found it interesting how the soundtrack seemed to evolve with Godzilla and the Japanese Government. The music was more orchestrated and string driven when the old and passive leadership was in charge. When the younger generation took over, the music became more modern, lead by electric guitar and drums. The middle sections had a sort of blend between the two with strings, piano, and drums making for some great original tracks.The biggest blunder of this film was truly the googly eyes. There were other problems I saw in Godzilla's design based on the promo pictures and trailers, mainly the stubby arms and the incredibly long cat-like tail, but after seeing the film, those worked well. The googly eyes on the other hand...Though the effects were mostly great, there were some instances where the CG looked particularly bad. They serve as examples why the smaller budgets of Eastern films can't do full CGI like Western movies can.When Godzilla is injured by the American Air Force, I wondered if that was the cause of Godzilla's back lazers. Perhaps atomic energy was leaking through his wounds, similar to the gaping neck hole Godzilla has in GMK: Giant Monsters All Out Attack.I'd rather not compare this movie to Godzilla 2014 but let's face it, everyone is going to. If Toho turns Shin Godzilla into a series, it'll be Toho and Legendary going toe to toe for several years. I'd say Toho wins round one, the main difference being that Shin Godzilla is a lot more effective at accomplishing what it sets out to do. Legendary's film decided to make Godzilla a third string player behind nameless soldier #645327 and the Mutos. The problem was that Brody wasn't interesting enough to carry the movie like they wanted him and his plot to do and no other element in the film made up for it. Director Gareth Edwards also wanted to tease his monsters, evoking the slow burn style of classic films like Jaws and Alien, but it just didn't work. The cuts were unnatural and it felt obvious that they were intended to mess with us. I do enjoy Legendary's film. I've seen it several times and will see it several more I'm sure. There's just no contest here with regards to which movie executed its intent better.
      In Conclusion
      I personally love Shin Godzilla, I feel it could very well end up being one of my favorites but I can see why others might feel differently. The poor pacing, long sequences of information overload, Godzilla sleeping for half the movie while the Japanese government studies and plans, and the kaiju's incredibly goofy and hilarious first form are all enough to give someone pause. Throw that on top of a very topical and heavy commentary that is tough to follow if you're not familiar with the 3/11 disaster and subsequent Fukushima meltdown, and you've got a movie that requires a lot from its viewers. It could take several rewatches to really grasp what is going on, I know it will for me. While I love the depth and feel Anno gives us a very thought provoking story, it might not click for others. It all comes down to what the viewer prefers, in respect to both storytelling and how they would like Godzilla to be used.
      In the end, there's no doubt that this a Japanese movie made for a Japanese audience. The fact that we get to see it in US theaters is a treat. If you're curious about what an authentic Toho Godzilla film is like or you're a big fan of their work already, Shin Godzilla is absolutely a must see movie. You just might want to do some light reading first.
       

      The true King is back and no one does it quite like Toho.

        • Post Type: Review
    14. Magnificent Seven Review

      A remake of a 1960's western that was a remake of a Japanese flick by the name of the Seven Samurai,  The Magnificent Seven is a star-studded flick that is incredibly fun to watch. While the film itself doesn't break any new ground, it definitely proved that a western could still rake in some cash at the box office. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, who gave us the amazing Training Day,  and with a score by the late, great James Horner, this action packed re-imagination doesn't disappoint.
       


      An Unlikely Group of Heroes
      The film begins with a hostile take over of the mining town of Rose Creek. Our main villain, Bartholemew Bogue(played by Peter Sarsgaard,) is a devious mogul with little patience and an icy demeanor. His intent is to take the town and he slays innocent locals to send a message to those who would stand up to him. Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) sets out to save her town, and reaches out to the the warrant officer, Sam Chisolm(Denzel Washington.)
       
      Though initially reluctant to take on the task, Chisolm agrees to help Mrs. Cullen and recruits a rag-tag group of sharp-shooters, outlaws, trackers and warriors to fight for Rose Creek. In an action packed and explosive throw-down, the magnificent seven take on an army for life, love and revenge.
       


      Meet at High Noon
      The plot of The Magnificent Seven is fairly simple; it's nothing new. The basic formula of this flick is that a western town is being bullied and is in need of rescue. And why not? It worked in Blazing Saddles. What makes this movie a good watch isn't the simple plot, but the incredible characters. Each of the main characters are captivating. Though a few of them are missing backstory, each character establishes a bond with the audience. I formed a genuine connection with each, even without knowing enough about all of them.
       
      The actors did a superb job bringing their characters to life. The incredible Denzel Washington brings so many layers to Sam Chisolm, while Chris Pratt does an amazing job making us laugh at the shifty gambler, Josh Farraday. Not to be out done, Ethan Hawke and Byung-hun Lee make an excellent pair portraying the duo, sharp-shooter Goodnight Robicheaux and knife-wielding Billy Rocks.  Jack Horne, Martin Sensmeier, and Manuel Carcia-Rulfo also do an great job pulling the team together for one mismatched group. Our leading lady,  Haley Bennett, also has a few stand-out scenes, and all of actors share screen time quite well.
       
      Magnificent Seven establishes the main players and a grudge right from the beginning. The audience knows who to hate and why. Though not the most round villain, it's very easy to hate Bartholomew Bogue. The seven, however, are very well established - though it wouldn't hurt to look into their backstories a bit more. The connection established between the characters was electric. Their bond was strong and they came across as men who respected each other, regardless of their backgrounds.
       

       


      Was the West Won or Lost?
      The Magnificent Seven moved quickly and it was action-packed, despite the over two hour run-time. I felt invested in the plight; also, it was great that there wasn't a ton of unnecessary explanation. Character motivations were established, though they aren't always clear, and the film got down to business.  Pacing was a bit slow during the character recruitment, but it wasn't so bad to pull me out of the story. When things do speed up, the action scenes are impressive enough to distract from any of the plot issues.
       
      Another plus for the film is the amazing soundtrack by the late James Horner. After his sudden passing,  Simon Franglen co-composed the score that reminds us of the brilliant musical mind that we have lost. While there are many pluses, this film is a remake of a remake. Whether or not it was necessary is up in the air. It's not a ground-breaking film by any means, but it is enjoyable.
       


      Magnificent Seven: Final Thoughts
      If you are looking for a fun, action-packed flick with a western twist, The Magnificent Seven is a great pick. While it lacks in character development and originality, it does have some exciting scenes,  a star-studded cast, and a classic brawl between good and evil.  While it won't go down as legendary, it is still worth seeing, if only to watch Denzel be a complete bad ass.
       
      What do you think? Have you seen The Magnificent Seven? Feel free to leave comments below!
       

       
       

        • Post Type: Review
    15. Kubo and The Two Strings Review

      In a time of sequels, prequels, and reboots, Focus Features delivers an original masterpiece in stop-motion animation. From the studio behind Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls comes a truly enchanting story of magic, spirits, and fate. Kubo and The Two Strings is a compelling narrative following the young boy Kubo on his journey to defeat the Moon King. Combined with a moving soundtrack and stunningly life-like animation, this is truly a movie that stands out from the rest.
       


      If you must blink, do it now.
      Our story takes place in ancient Japan; Kubo is a one-eyed street performer with a unique talent. Using his magical musical abilities, he tells stories of the great Samurai Hanzo through the manipulation of origami paper. Before he is able to finish his stories, Kubo must return home at the chime to tend to his ailing mother, Sariatu, who warns him to never get caught outside their home after dark. She worries that her Sisters and his grandfather, the Moon King, will come and take his other eye. Unfortunately, Kubo disobeys his mother when he learns of a ceremony the locals take part in to communicate with their dead family. Wishing to speak to his father, Kubo stays out as the sun sets and his own journey truly begins.
       
      Kubo embarks on a quest to collect various objects that will allow him to defeat the Moon King. He is joined by a protector sent by his mother, Monkey, and a cursed samurai called Beetle. Together, the three must search the land for the mysterious artifacts while avoiding Sariatu's sisters, and eventually defeat the Moon King.
       


      Your magic is growing stronger.
      Kubo and the Two Strings takes on the guise of an ancient legend. The story is compelling and unique, and it doesn't feel the need to explain everything away. It doesn't hold the audience's hand or have copious backstory; that's something I really enjoyed. The quest had a very fun sense of adventure with a side of urgency that seemed to increase when each artifact was discovered. The battles had the perfect amount of tension and the scenes moved along very quickly, balancing the action with interesting twists and heartfelt moments.
       
      The movie managed to hit all the points a decent narrative should: character building, intense scenes, comedy, and a solid ending. I absolutely loved the incorporation of the title and the refreshing turns the story took.  While Kubo hit the perfect tone for me, there are some parts that could be frightening for young children. Then again, if a child could watch Coraline, then he or she would have no problem with this movie.
       


      Don't mess with the Monkey.
      One of Kubo's greatest accomplishments, hands down, is
      . This is a visually stunning work of art. Stop-motion animation doesn't normally grab my attention, but when coupled with a compelling story, I can't resist. The animation is simply remarkable almost to the point of realistic. 
      The film also has incredible voice talent in Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, and Ralph Fiennes. Even George Takei makes an appearance, and each of the actors fill their role well. When matched with an intense soundtrack, this film truly hits all of the perfect notes.
       
      The impressive animation pairs with captivating story-telling to create a truly original movie. I could only hope that distinctive works of art start to get a foothold in a time focused on rehashes and sequels. Kubo and the Two Strings is most definitely worth seeing. So how about you? Have you seen Kubo and the Two Strings? What did you think? Does your 
      , too? Let us know in the comments below! 

       
       
       
       

        • Post Type: Review
    16. Predicting what's to come after 'A Dance with Dragons'

      There have been opinions and speculations circulating everywhere on what will happen in the seven kingdoms with the start of the new season. And the next GOT episode is finally here. There's no doubt about it, the focus for most is certainly on Jon Snow’s powerfully shocking death scene in A Dance With Dragons, one that eerily resembles the mutiny of Caesar via Shakespeare. And the question that’s been on everyone’s minds is: Is Jon Snow really dead? After scouring the internet, here are the top fan theories for this answer:

      1. He's Dead

       
      A dark and sobering answer after a horrific display of murder. The only way this can be true is if we remember that there was a significant amount of death early in the show and we had definitely invested our emotions and feelings into those characters too. However, none of us really believe that he’s dead, especially because so many questions are still unanswered about his life, lineage, and his larger role in the story.
       
      [su_divider top=no" size="1]

      2. Enter the White Walkers and the Wights

       
      What will happen to the body of Jon Snow if he is dead? In
      , we see The Night’s King, Coldemort, White Walkers and the wights overtake the Wildlings. Coldemort reanimates them by simply raising his arms. As their eyes turn cold and burn blue, The Night’s King stares across the water at Jon Snow: a powerful moment that calls for pause and consideration. Is it possible he stares because he is biding his time for the right moment to reanimate Snow? He would certainly make the perfect ally for his war against the living. Furthermore, the chances of the White Walkers reanimating Snow are pretty good considering that after the excessive stabbing; it doesn’t appear that the men of the Wall will take much care in disposing of his body properly. Without burning his body, the White Walkers can definitely get to him. If that is the case, a blue-eyed Snow will be joining the very minions he tried to protect Westeros from. 


      3. The Power of Warging and the Dire Wolf

       
      Even though Snow is presumed dead, we know that he can warg into his dire wolf, Ghost, and survive for a while longer. In the show, we only see Snow laying against the cold ground as the blood spreads around him, but in the book, Snow utters one last word, something that must be on his mind as he fades into the darkness: Ghost. Is it possible we will see his eyes turn white as he enters his second life through the dire wolf?
       
      [su_divider top=no" size="1]

      4. The Lord of Light and the Resurrection of Azor Ahai

       
      [mks_pullquote align=left" width="800" size="24" bg_color="" txt_color="#1e73be]“If we lose, the night will never end.”[/mks_pullquote]
       
      Azor Ahai is a legendary figure thought to wake dragons from stone and reforge his great sword, Lightbringer to defeat the darkness and the Others.  Forged with the blood and spirit of his wife, Nissa Nissa, legend has it that “There will come a day after a long summer when the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour, a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.”
       
      Milisandre, the Red Lady, told Stannis that he was chosen to lead as per the legend of Azor Ahai. Stannis was obviously not the legend’s hero, since he died at the hands of Jamie Lannister. At one point, she looks into the fire to ask the God of Light, R’hllor to see Azor Ahai and sees a strange vision. She responds, "I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai and R'hillor shows me only snow." A double-meaning, perhaps? Furthermore, she just so happens to be conveniently located at the Wall at the close of the finale to complete her blood magic rituals and revive Snow just like Beric Dondarrion, and make this legend a reality.
       
      The discussion continues. Which do you think will happen after the Season 6 premiere? Add a comment below and keep the discussion going.
       
       



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