Spider-Man: Homecoming

September 3, 2017

spider

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Spidey is back and trying to find a balance between his real life and his superhero thing.

This movie got awesome buzz before it came out. I was hearing stuff about it from EVERYONE. And (having very high expectations walking into the theater) I was pleased that both the buzz and my expectations were correct.

Let me start by saying that I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of Spider-man. Even in my long-ago youth, this was a comic series I never read. Sure, I know the basics. I’ve seen the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy from the early 2000s (liked the first and the second, didn’t like the third much). I missed the interim Amazing Spider-Man series because meh.

But then, not only was there a GREAT Spider-Man bit in Captain America: Civil War, but also I heard from Geek Girl about the casting, and I was intrigued. What she told me is, Marvel is trying hard to include people of color in their movies (and is Otter excited about Black Panther? You damn betcha!!). But Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man, even though he is a Marvel creation, Sony owns the rights, and has to okay any use of him in a film. What Geek Girl told me is, the contract says that Spider-Man has to be white and straight (a shame, I love the idea of a gay Spidey) but says NOTHING about other characters. So his love interest, Liz, is African-American, and his best friend/computer whiz/geek buddy is played by a Filipino-American actor. Marvel FTW!!

Oh, the plot? it was excellent. Funny and irreverent, as Spidey is known to be. He videoblogs his adventures with the Avengers, Tony Stark checks in on him, he is in school and trying to keep his two lives separate but functioning. His struggles with not being able to do it all are central to his character, and Tom Holland does this admirably, while being adorable, charming and believeable.

The main villain is The Vulture, played by Michael Keaton, and it was great seeing him in this role, running a local gang of thieves for years and getting serious chops in the process.

And I have to say, there was a big reveal in this that was so surprising, everyone in the audience with me (including me) gasped and said, Wait a minute…(various exclamations). It worked, it was totally believeable and we were all compeletely surprised by it.

An excellent addition to the wonderfulness that is the Marvel Universe!

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The Night They Raided Minsky’s

September 2, 2017

From the novel of the same name by Rowland Barber

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A burlesque theater in New York is being threatened with closure by a member of the Society for Decency, and an Amish girl who has run away from home shows up looking for a job doing Biblical-themed dance. The theater owner and the star performer hatch a plot to advertise her as a sexy French singer and dancer, then have her do her Bible dance to fool the prudes.

What could possibly go wrong?

Mr. Otter picked this up in a bargain bin, and we watched it with Music Mike. It was a fun evening, with a movie Mr. Otter and I had heard about for many years but never seen. Mike the Builder hadn’t heard of it but enjoyed it nonetheless.

This is a real artifact from its time, well written and funny. The list of actors is also great: Jason Robards, Britt Ekland, Elliott Gould, Forrest Tucker, Denholm Elliott, Jack Burns and Bert Lahr, among others.

The buildup is slow (looking backwards from the frantic pace of modern movies) but steady. The character development is the most important thing, and of course setting the scene for the big denouement that is obviously coming, given the title.

A pretty good blast from the past!


Wonder Woman

September 2, 2017

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Princess Diana, raised among Amazons, is drawn into our world by a WWI aviator who crashes his plane on her secluded island home.

This movie had awesome buzz. A female superhero in her own movie DIRECTED by a woman? Hellz yeah, about time. But…what if it’s awful?

No worries. This was so good that even Mr. Otter condescended to say, wow, that wasn’t bad for a superhero movie…!

Even though they had to include an origin story (usually the kiss of death for me, but a lot of people don’t know her underpinnings, and besides, it’s fun) it was fast-paced, well written and not boring. I liked that the older Amazon women weren’t wearing makeup and (of course) still looked AWESOME, except, y’know, the way REAL PEOPLE look awesome without Hollywood magic being done to their faces.

Gail Gadot is perfect as Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, radiating confidence with a hint of vulnerability,  and Chris Pine is an excellent foil as her love interest/WWI aviator who leads her through the maze of 20th century American life, and the complexities of same during wartime.

I really liked this- the story and characters were engaging, it was brought up to the present time very well (the movie is basically a long flashback.), and unlike pretty much every other movie DC has made lately (Batman vs. Superman, I’m looking at you here), it WASN’T whiny and boring. Kudos to the team, can’t wait for the next one!

 


Sing

August 31, 2017

sing

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An agent tries to revitalize his failing theater by having a talent show. Shenanigans!

I was at the Red Cross ready for apheresis, which involves three hours of time and needles in both arms, so I wanted something amusing. I saw this in the Netflix folder they have, and thought it might be fun…and indeed it was!

Matthew McConaughey (an Otter Family Favorite Actor) is the voice of a koala theater owner, in a city populated by all different kinds of animals dressed as, and acting like, humans. There is no explanation of this and there doesn’t need to be…it just is, and is actually peripheral to the story, which involves several different performers and groups all trying to win the competition as we get to know them.

This was well written, engaging and fun. Not deep, not meaningful, just good fun. Watch it, you’ll be glad you did.


Lust in the Dust

August 31, 2017

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A dancehall girl, lost in the desert, ends up in a saloon in a small town among a bunch of questionable characters, all searching for the same thing…

Mr. Otter and I are fans of John Waters’ oeuvre, and we had not seen this, so when Craiggers (whom we were visiting) suggested watching it, we were glad to join in.

And we were not disappointed. This is typical John Waters- a parody of a well-known genre with his own broad humor and quirks thrown in. Divine is the peripatetic dance-hall girl, Lainie Kazan is the saloon owner and her rival, Tab Hunter is the handsome stranger, and Otter Family Favorite Actor Woody Strode even had a small part.

Not a great movie, but a good one, fun and with a satisfying denouement. If you have never seen a John Waters movie, this is not a bad one to start with (but Hairspray is the best)…just remember to be sure the kids are out of the room.


Manchester by the Sea

August 28, 2017

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A loner finds out when his brother dies that he has been named as his 16 year old nephew’s guardian.

This is one of those movies that looks really, really good in previews, mostly because of really, really good editing.

We chez Otter really, really like Casey Affleck. (Okay, I’ll stop the really, really thing. Really.) He is a fine actor and has been in a lot of (didn’t say it) very good movies.

This movie felt like it was trying to be deeper than it was, but it never really got off the ground. Taking this kid in makes Affleck’s character face a horrible mistake he made in the past, and they all work through it, and it’s all better in the end. Hope that wasn’t a spoiler, because that was seriously the whole movie.

Lucas Hedges was excellent as the teenager. The writing was good. The story could have been good, but it was like hearing someone tell you a really great story in a mumbling monotone…there are good bits, but they get lost in the telling.

I was underwhelmed by this, although I wanted to like it.


Logan

April 8, 2017

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From the graphic novel Old Man Logan by Mark Millar

Let me say right from the get-go that I am not by any means an X-Men fan. I’ve read a couple of comics, and seen a couple of the movies, didn’t like any of it much. I know enough about them to get the Deadpool jokes, but that’s about it.

But I did read Old Man Logan when it came out and made such a big splash…and I really liked it.

So when I saw that they had made a movie of it with Hugh “I’ve been Wolverine forever” Jackman and Patrick “Best Xavier Ever” Stewart, I was pretty excited.

And I was not disappointed. This is a story that takes place after the mutants have been hunted down and destroyed, and Wolverine is working a day job under the name Logan and trying to keep himself and Xavier (who is far gone in dementia) alive and under the radar…and of course something happens to pull them back into the world to help others.

 To my (not being up on all things X-Men) mind, this movie did everything right. The setting, the explodo, the characters, the plot, the reasons everyone does what they do, the consequences, the ending…it’s all done just right. It hasn’t at all converted me into an X-Men fan…but I did enjoy this one. Plus if you get Hugh Jackman and kids together, the result is nearly always good.

I really liked this movie, hope you do too!