Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Justice League Trailer

Wow, just wow; I don't hate this trailer. It isn't great or anything, but it is not complete garbage. Jason Momoa as Aquaman is convincing and at least looks cool. Ezra Miller as The Flash works for me from the little we can see. He's funny and quirky. While Grant Gustin over on the CW will be the definitive for me and most others, I will give Miller a chance. But that new Flash costume is garbage, absolutely hysterical, at least at first glance. However, Ray Fisher as Cyborg is barely shown.

Here's the thing. After Batman v Superman, my expectations for DC are literally nonexistent. I cannot be disappointed by anything DC delivers because being disappointed requires expectations. So, I will just take whatever DC throws at us. The trailer's song, "Icky Thump" by The White Stripes, sets a fun tone, and the humor almost kind of works. Sure, even if DC is trying to copy Marvel, a second rate Marvel knock-off is better than first rate DC any day. The humor somewhat works, although I can see some hating it. Ben Affleck proved to be the only truly great part of BvS earlier this year, and he looks quite good in Justice League as well. The lack of Superman is probably the best thing to happen to this movie. He will probably appear at some point, but if the formation of the Justice League is without Henry Cavill's Superman, this movie might just work. But Zack Sndyer is the director, and that's never a good thing if you enjoy, you know, character development, color, fun, quality performances, and practical effects. Who knows? Maybe Snyder can finally make a great DC movie. Stranger things have happened.

What do you think of the trailer? Please comment below and let me know!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Top 13 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Movies: Part 4

The Top 13 countdown of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Movies continues with more entries! If you missed the previous parts, click here for Part 1here for Part 2, and here for Part 3.

3: The Avengers
Joss Whedon accomplished the impossible with The Avengers and that makes him mighty (Firefly reference). Never before has a comic book film been so bold and unforgiving in the fact that it is based on a comic book. It perfectly captures the spirit of the comic, while still being easily accessible to the general public, an impressive feat in and of itself.

Somehow every character is given their moment to shine, and Whedon's expertly written banter is pure perfection. Among the previously established characters, Whedon even managed to build Black Widow into a far more fascinating character than anyone could have ever realized, and The Hulk, who, at the time, never received a proper film adaptation, nearly stole the show.

The Avengers could have easily been a disaster if left in less competent hands. Behind all of the spectacle and humor, ultimately, the film has heart; that's the real reason The Avengers is a classic that will go down in history as one of the defining films of the our generation.

2: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier truly took me by surprise. I expected a fun action packed adventure with my favorite comic book character; what I actually got was something far superior.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a thematically strong film loaded with meaningful social commentary on the various aspects of politics, freedom, and government control. It uses the fact that Captain America is an unwavering force of freedom to convey the themes without ever coming off as pretentious. Everything expressed in the film is a core aspect of Cap's character, and that is exactly why it works so well.

Upon my second viewing, I watched the film with the intent of finding something wrong with the film, and yet I could not find a single noteworthy flaw. Of course, no film is absolutely perfect, but it is one of the most well crafted films that I have ever seen. Each scene flows into the next effortlessly. It takes big risks, and yet never falters. The plot functions like a well oiled machine, and yet it has an emotional core.

1: Captain America: Civil War 
Captain America: Civil War is ultimate culmination of the Avenger and Captain America films. As soon as Civil War was announced, it was my most anticipated Marvel film, much more so than Age of Ultron at the time. And despite the odds, it decimated all expectations!

Civil War has so much to say, so much character growth, and so many world shaking revelations that should greatly impact future films. The reasons for each side's actions are so well thought-out. Tony desires to lift the burden and guilt of his actions and failures to others instead of himself in the name of accountability, albeit an admirable goal from some perspectives. Cap finds that government control only allows the politicians to forward their potentially corrupt agendas. Which side is in the right? The conflict is far broader than can be explained in short. Civil War excels in bringing about the concept of superheroes in the real world, without losing the fun and charm that Marvel does so well. Ultimately, the film is not about whose side is right, but the personal conflicts and emotions of Cap and Tony, which is what gives the film such a strong emotional core.

With that said, Civil War’s perfect portrayal of Spider-Man, the bad*ss Black Panther, and that mind blowing airport action sequence certainly help in making Captain America: Civil War Marvel’s best film to date.

What do you think? Many of these films are so close in quality that the ranking of the top films could easily change the next time I see them. Please let me know your favorites in the comments and any other thoughts on the MCU!

If you want to contact us or have any questions please send an e-mail to

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Testing Scheduled Posts

What's going on everyone!? Today I am testing Blogger's scheduled posting feature. In the past, it never worked right. Every time I tried it, the post never showed up on the dashboard. But now, over a year later, I am testing it out again. So, if you would be so kind, please comment anything that lets me know this appeared on the dashboard (assuming you use it). And I apologize for the lack of posts again. Thanks to everyone for reading and for all the guest authors' articles!

If you want to contact us or have any questions please send an e-mail to

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Top 13 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Movies: Part 3

The Top 13 countdown of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Movies continues with more entries! If you missed Part 1, click here to check it out and here for Part 2

6: Ant-Man
Showing a more lighthearted and fun side to the Marvel Universe, Ant-Man is the best origin film since Iron Man back in 2008. It introduced us to a character with numerous character faults, and yet Paul Rudd manages to make him one of the most grounded and lovable characters in the MCU. He is even a father; relatively new territory for superhero flicks. 

Upon later viewings, Ant-Man continued to grow on me as one of the best films of 2015 and one of Marvel’s most fun. Being such a small film in scale (pun intended), Ant-Man is able to focus solely on itself and what it wants to accomplish rather than what comes next, which is what hampered Age of Ultron. It is also a heist film, not just a superhero flick, which makes it even more fun. Of course, you cannot forget the humor because this is one funny movie!

Everything about Ant-Man should not have worked. Honestly, the fact that the film received so many positive reviews baffled me at first, but it is most definitely deserving of every positive thing said about it. Read my full review here.

5: Iron Man
Before The Avengers, Thor, and Captain America, Marvel studios made a film that would be the foundation for all other Marvel movies to build on in the future, and they could not have kicked off the franchise any better than with Iron Man.

Casting veteran actor Robert Downey Jr. in the role of Tony Stark, a relatively unknown character at the time, remains the best casting decision for any comic book film. From his chemistry with Paltrow to the adlibbed dialogue, Downey elevated every aspect of the film. Even after re-watching at least eight times, the movie never gets old, and that’s largely thanks to Downey.

Words cannot even express what it felt like to see Nick Fury stepping forward to say, “I am here to talk to you about the Avengers initiative.” At the time, it was only something that I could have dreamed of. As a geek, it was about as good as it gets. To this day, it remains one of the defining moments of my movie watching experience.

4: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy defied all expectations. Not only did it become highest grossing film of the year domestically, it shocked both fan and critic alike with its complete disregard of the conventional.

James Gunn's writing and direction is bold. He did not care about what audiences expected or even wanted. He told us exactly we wanted, and we all loved every minute of it. His style is in-your-face and unforgivingly his own, and that is my type of filmmaking!

Thanks to the stellar chemistry between the cast and Chris Pratt's innate goofball charm, GotG assembles a team of misfits unlike any other. It is like a combination of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Mass Effect, and Firefly, packed full of 80s references, action, and absurdly lovable characters. Even if you have never seen a Marvel film, there is so little connection to the main universe that it does not matter, yet there are still plenty of Easter Eggs for the fans.

Guardians of the Galaxy is bold and audacious filmmaking at its finest with James Gunn's complete disregard of typical genre conventions that care more about making a unique film than a generic crowd pleaser, yet it surely does please. GotG is like a cult classic with lovable quirky characters and endlessly quotable dialogue, except with box office success and a big budget. What more could you ask for?! And honestly, GotG could easily rank even higher on the list depending on my frame of mind at the time of ranking.

What do you think of these picks? Please comment below and let me know!

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Movie Music and More #50: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1982)

I (Hamlette) am here today to discuss one of the coolest soundtracks ever.  Ever.  It's one of those soundtracks that is delicious to listen to by itself, but when paired with its movie, it's just sublime.  I am, of course, talking about John Williams' insta-classic score for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982). 

The first track I'll share with you is "A Thought for Marion/To Nepal."  I love how expectant it is, beginning with some soft, sweet ponderings, then a little mystery creeping in.  And from there, a jolt of excitement, that wonderfully playful Indy theme popping in for a moment.  Then it finishes up with a little Oriental flourish to bring in the idea we're going somewhere Foreign and Exotic. So cool!

My next selection is "The Basket Game," which balances playful and fearful so niftily.  We're worried cuz Marion gets chased and then abducted, but there's a lot of comedy going on during the chase scene too, so the whole song feels like juggling, doesn't it?

This might be my favorite moment in the whole movie -- when Indy's in the Map Room and the medallion on top of the staff actually shows him the location of the Ark.  "The Map Room: Dawn" perfectly captures Indy's expressions there, going from hopeful to awestruck.

"Washington Ending & Raiders March" starts off all sentimental.  Indiana Jones has lost his prize.  But he's got Marion still, so that's something.  The song doesn't waste too much time on his annoyance -- he gets one minute to grouse, and then here comes the most glorious theme song in action movie history (IMHO).  Really, the Raiders March feels to me like eating a giant Snickers bar while riding on a roller coaster with my best friend -- like being surrounded with joy, in other words.  I'm sitting here with a big, goofy grin on my face, bobbing my head along with it as I type, and fully intending to hit "replay" as soon as it ends.  How about you?

That's all I've got for you today, but if you want to listen to more, the entire album is available on YouTube here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Top 13 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Movies: Part 2

My ranking of the Top 13 best and worst Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Movies continues with more entries! If you missed Part 1, click here to check it out.

9: Iron Man 3
Easily the most divisive of Marvel films, Iron Man 3 continues to leave the community split. Some continue to say that the film is a failure, while others, like myself, say that it is a mostly strong character study of Tony Stark, despite a few nagging issues.

However, the main point of contention is the big twist *Major Spoilers* that the Mandarin is a fake. Many viewers were sorely disappointed that Ben Kingsley's long anticipated role was all just a facade created by the trailers. For me, and a few others, the deception is one the best twists that I have seen in cinema. Right up until the release, the whole thing was kept underwraps; it is a real feat in today's world of trailers that spoil major plot points (*coughTerminatorcough*). For the first time, I was truly shocked by the turn of events, and for someone that often predicts what is going to happen next, it was a real pleasure to be genuinely surprised.

However, the Third Act suffers from a lack of a strong antagonist. A better way to do the twist would have been to replace Guy Pearce with a Chinese actor, so that when he says "I am the Mandarin" the dragon tattoos and other things all make sense. However, considering the latest Marvel One-Shot about the Mandarin, “All Hail the King,” there is a real one out there that we might see in the future, although that continues to be less and less likely. *End Spoilers*

As for the movie itself, Shane Black's witty script and Downey’s brilliant delivery make for an exceptional combination. Even if the plot is not as well crafted as the first film, the interaction, character development, and pure entertainment make it one of the most fun Marvel films to watch.

8: Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The First Avenger is distinctly different than the other Marvel films in both tone and style. Director, Joe Johnston, gave the film a retro period look that is reminiscent of older serials, while still being serious. The blend of styles works for the most part. However, the standout is Chris Evans as Captain America himself. As a Captain America fan since childhood, there was no character that I wanted to see done right on the big screen more. However, when Evans was cast, I was confused. He was a decent funny guy in Fantastic Four, but could he play Cap? And the answer was an astounding yes! The First Avenger was far from his best work as the character, but he really nailed the physicality and heroic personality that the character required.

In retrospect, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter turned out to be pitch perfect casting with her spinoff series, Agent Carter, being one of Marvel's best works to date. Actually, if I were to rank Agent Carter versus the films, it would probably be number five (unless Daredevil counts).

7: Avengers: Age of Ultron
My initial review of Avengers: Age of Ultron was definitely bit too positive. In retrospect, the film certainly had its narrative flaws. It should have been at least 30 minutes longer, and inclusion of a romance took away from necessary plot development. 

However, upon later viewings, the first 45 minutes of the film are so much fun. Whedon's witty dialogue and character interaction is at its strongest when the characters are given time before setup scenes for future films are crammed into the last hour. Honestly, the party scene could have lasted two hours, and it would have been a blast because the characters act so real, like a group of friends with different dynamics between them.

Ultimately, where the film falters narratively, it takes strides and bounds in establishing new characters and providing much needed characterization to others. Hawkeye benefits the most as the inclusion of his family and actually personality traits make him more than just the “guy with a bow.” Vision is setup to be such a fascinating and unique character, and Scarlet Witch’s foundation as a character in this film made her part in Civil War much more powerful. Of course, James Spader as Ultron was an endlessly entertaining villain, even if his role was not as well realized as it could have been. All in all, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a thrilling piece of entertain with exceptional parts, yet a few key flaws that keep it from true greatness. For more thoughts on the film, read my review here.

What do you think of these picks? Please comment below and let me know!

If you want to contact us or have any questions please send an e-mail to

Friday, July 1, 2016

Coming Soon: July 2016

Welcome back to another Coming Soon post! June was certainly kind of dull wasn't it? Let's review before we hop into what's hopefully a more exciting July. Fair warning: due to the fact that I was in the middle of making my first real estate purchase and moving, I was unable to make it to many of the films that landed this month. Apologies in advance...

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: By most accounts it was a vastly improved sequel that resulted in an enjoyable, but forgettable film. Good to hear they're on the right track with these films though. 
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping: Far, far better than the trailers would indicate, this Lonely Island was funny, jabbing look at the life of current egomaniac musicians. It's jokes were consistently on point, the new Lonely Island songs were great, and there was a decent amount of heart to boot. Shame it totally bombed at the box office. RRS: 8/10
The Conjuring 2: Despite what some critics may have you believe, this was a sequel that was just as good as the original, and, at least for this critic, even scarier. It's a very well made horror film who's only fault is that it goes on a little too long. RRS: 8.5/10
Now You See Me 2: Seemed to be a very forgettable sequel that didn't perform all that well at the box office. Surprising given how many adored the first film, but I'm not all that torn up that we most likely won't be getting a third...
Warcraft: Ouch. I intended to see this just for the sake of seeing if it really was that bad, but got in the way. Apparently its narrative was a mess and not all that special from a fantasy standpoint. The fact that it's the top grossing videogame movie ever isn't all that proud of a crown to bear.
Central Intelligence: I was a tad disappointed by this one, but it really was exactly what it advertised: a shallow, but somewhat fun time with Kevin Hart and Dwayne The Rock Johnson. Not bad by any means, but it has some tough comedy competition this year and in that regard, it won't be remembered by the end of the summer. RRS: 7/10
Finding Dory: Unfortunately it wasn't nearly as classic as the first, but that would have been a really tall order. Instead, Pixar gives us a very competent, worthwhile, fun, funny, and touching sequel that's definitely worth your time even if it doesn't crack into their all-time greats. RRS: 8.5/10
Free State of Jones: Man oh man, what a surprise here. Turns out that the Civil War historical film was overlong and uninteresting, resulting in a bomb both critically and commercially. 
Independence Day: Resurgence: The more time I let pass from my viewing of this film, the more and more I hate it. After all this time, this is the best we could come up with? What's even more frustrating is the "original" superior idea that's floated around throughout the film, but annoyingly saved until the sequel...if we ever get one. RRS: 5.5/10
The Shallows: I'm very bummed that I didn't make it to this one because of the stellar/good reviews it got. It seems like a highly effective little thriller that did pretty well in a weekend with a major sequel and big name star historical film. I'll be trying to catch it ASAP once it hits home video

Most Disappointing: Independence Day: Resurgence
Most Surprising: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Worst Movie: Independence Day: Resurgence
Best Movie: Finding Dory (followed closely by The Conjuring 2)

July has some *fingers crossed* awesome films as well as a few that could go either way. Remember to click the titles for the trailers! Also, I've changed the reason descriptions for each film to "For It" and "Against It" mainly because it saves me typing time and offers the same description ;-)

For It: It's a Steven Spielberg directed film with the creative talent that was behind ET so many years ago. Early reviews indicate that it's a magical ride through a classic children's novel.
Against It: Not much to be honest. It may not be as iconic as some of his other films but that shouldn't diminish what is likely a very well made film
For It: This one could really go either way. The cast is strong and there is certainly some weight to the Tarzan story from a plot perspective. There also look to be some really well choreographed fight scenes.
Against It: There isn't much buzz surrounding it, indicating that it may come and go without much aplomb. Also, some of the special effects look dodgy and I question how they're going to make this special now that we've heard this story so many times before. 

For It: Rounding out the busy first weekend of July is the third Purge film of which I must admit I kinda sorta like this series as a guilty pleasure. They certainly have a lot to work with this year as the crazy Presidential election continues so it will be interesting to see if it can leave its B-movie roots behind a bit and make some biting commentary.
Against It: Likely it won't do that and will still be a very average action/horror romp about a premise that begs to be explored by a smarter creative team.

For It: The initial trailers have been hilarious and very similar soooooo I'm hoping this is one of those comedies where they're saving the best parts for later while making sure they get butts in the door.
Against It: It could just flat-out not be funny. I really want to hope that's not the case, but with frequently similar trailers that's sometimes the death nail. Holding out hope though as 2016 has been great for comedy thus far.

For It: The initial trailers are again fantastic and I think there is a ton of potential here.
Against It: The newest trailers I've seen, which include more of the plot, makes this look much more generic than I first anticipated. In a year where we already got the stellar Zootopia (best animated film of the year thus far, BTW) this will have a hard time competing.

For It: In a strange turn of events, Bryan Cranston plays and undercover FBI agent trying to take down a drug cartel. Given his acting prowess, you know you'll AT LEAST get a great performance from him.
Against It: Something about the quality of the trailers makes this seem like a cheesy TV movie to me. It feels like it can't decide if it wants to be a Breaking Bad-esque drama or a more action-oriented thriller.

For It: Man oh man has this film gotten a lot of unnecessary and frankly sexist flak. Given Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy's resume, I think this will at least be worth a couple laughs and the addition of some other SNL alum members ensures that.
Against It: I'm not all that excited for it. NOT because it's an all female cast (that thought literally never crossed my mind and shame on you if it did), but more so because these first trailers haven't been all that great/funny. I go based on what I've seen and so far what I've seen is fair to partly cloudy.

Lights Out -- July 22nd
For It: Features some really, really creepy trailers and there's potential for it to be a intense little horror film. I think the premise is fascinating and there's room for potential.
Against It: The usual when it comes to horror films. Thinly drawn characters, stupid characters, lame scares, overly violent third acts, poor craftsmanship, etc.

Star Trek Beyond -- July 22nd
For It: After an abysmal first trailer, the newer ones have been reminding me how much I loved the first two films in this series. This is a great take on the storied franchise with a great cast to boot. I have full confidence that Justin Lin can take over for JJ Abrams.
Against It: Honestly? Not much. I think this was just a case of a really bad first trailer with some poor creative decisions. My bold prediction is that this is the surprise audience hit/favorite of the summer.

For It: Clearly some counter-programming for the other film coming out this weekend, Bad Moms still looks like a fun time. If they can achieve some good, thoughtful characterization, this could be the next Bridesmaids but for mothers.
Against It: From the trailers it feels like it's trying to be crude just for crude's sake and that rarely results in solid, lasting humor. This is a great cast. Hopefully the writers don't waste it.

For It: Shortly and aptly titled, this is the "big" one for July. It sees the return of series regular Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass after the lame previous "Bourne" film spin-off thingy. This looks intense, edgy, and violent. Just like we want to see.
Against It: Another film where I'm going to say "not much". Damon and Greengrass were pretty much 3 for 3 with their previous trilogy and my only major concern is that I hope they got a handle on the shaky cam this time as that was a persistently annoying issue in the original trilogy.

Must See (in order): Jason Bourne, Star Trek Beyond, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
On My Radar: The BFG, The Legend of Tarzan, The Purge: Election Year, The Secret Life of Pets, The Infiltrator, Ghostbusters, Lights Out
Predicted Duds: Bad Moms

Only one more month and then the summer is a wrap! See you next month for August! As always, I'd be really appreciative if you came and followed me through Blogger at RATH'S REVIEWS and like me on Facebook HERE! I follow-for-follow 100%. Thanks again!!
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