A Second Opinion. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Guest Review

A Second Opinion. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Guest Review

www.hypergeeky.comEverything that is wrong with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story can be summed up in one thing.

Well, there are a lot of things wrong with Rogue One: paper-thin characters, a middling pace, a largely forgettable (and, within the mythos, unnecessary) plot.

But the tank – the TX-225w “Occupier” combat assault tank, as Wookiepedia tells me – is the perfect vehicle to address Rogue One’s fundamental problem: a superficial guise and muddled tone.
Because while the film purports to be a gritty war drama – tanks! firefights! no Jedi! – it never fully divorces itself from the character of the rest of the series.

And that has serious repercussions.

Star Wars – despite a misleading title – has never really been about warfare. In the series, wars merely act as backdrop and motivation for the melodramatic blood feuds of space wizards: a former slave is seduced by dark magic and rebels against his mentor (the Prequels); a farmboy learns magic to defeat his fallen father (the Original Trilogy); an orphan scavenger discovers magic and proceeds to beat up some goth kid (The Force Awakens).

The climax of these films usually feature a battle of some kind, yes, but it is the emotionally-charged contest between individuals that form their central focus: Luke vs. Vader (the battle of Yavin), Luke vs. Vader (the occupation of Bespin), Luke vs. Vader vs. Palpatine (the battle of Endor), etc.

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Before the New Hope — Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

Before the New Hope — Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

Before Disney felt it needed to add A Star Wars Story to the title — you know, for all the uninitiated viewers who needed a green light to go buy a ticket — it was just Rogue One, the first of what could be an avalanche of anthology movies set to release as Disney begins its plans to release at least one SW movie per year from here on out.

Apart from the three new episodes, these standalone movies — the next one is a young Han Solo movie for 2018 starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian — can be viewed either as boons or boondoggles. They are at once many things and nothing — a wasteful cashgrab to extreme purists, an insult to committed followers of the expanded universe, and/or a welcome addition to the family by pretty much everybody else with an open mind.

For the casual fan wondering what the fuss is, Rogue One isn’t a major episode, and Luke Skywalker is nowhere to be found. It does have Darth Vader, and several other cameos, but the focus is on a set of characters who have never been mentioned by name before, and — for all intents and purposes — may never be mentioned in any new movie ever. (Notice I put down “new.”)

So if you have no desire to watch this, but you’re still excited about the Force Awakens and the next two episodes, you won’t miss out on anything critical — though it will ease some of your doubts about the convenient way the plot sort of connects itself. And if you’re partial to the prequels — meesa thinking some of you are — it won’t really change how you feel about those movies.

It will, however, have a profound effect on fans of the original Star Wars movie, the one simply titled Star Wars at its release — it didn’t get the Episode IV or A New Hope subtitle until 1978 or 1981, depending on which source you trust.

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Full Circle — Arrival Review

Full Circle — Arrival Review

When I first saw the trailer for Arrival, my mind went immediately to Robert Zemeckis’ Contact, the 1997 movie starring Jodie Foster about a scientist who receives and deciphers alien communication.

In Contact, Foster’s character Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Ann Arroway fights setback after setback in order to achieve her goal of finally making contact with an unknown alien communicator. When the alien appears as her father, Ellie’s expectation of seeing something radical, different, or monstrous — and by reason a look at the bigger picture of the universe — is washed away by a mirror that points her back to the human race for answers.

In Arrival, Amy Adams stars as renowned linguist Dr. Louise Banks, who becomes a critical asset for the United States government after an alien ship touches down somewhere in Montana. Eleven other ships have landed in various parts of the world creating fear and tension for their hosts, and no one knows whether the aliens have come in peace or to wage war.

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False Alarm — X-Men: Apocalypse Review

False Alarm — X-Men: Apocalypse Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Another day, another X-Men movie.

After Days of Future Past effectively rebooted the entire series by rewriting the future, the series comes full circle by bringing back a bunch of familiar superpowers in teenage form — Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Nightcrawler, and Storm.

X-Men: Apocalypse trailers begged answers for the questions: Who will join the mutant megalomaniac En Sabah Nur? Who will fight to stop him?

After seeing the movie, I’m prepared to answer those questions with another: Who cares?

X-Men: Apocalypse contains everything terrible about the X-Men movies, turns all of the good into a routine exercise, and spins its way to an anti-climactic finish for the second worst entry in the entire franchise.

Talk about being a shell of its former self — you would think Bryan Singer had hit his stride after releasing back to back critical darlings X-Men: First Class and the aforementioned DoFP.

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War Within — Captain America: Civil War Review

War Within — Captain America: Civil War Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was supposed to compete directly with Captain America: Civil War by releasing on the same day, but Warner Bros. decided — wisely — that more money was to be made without forcing audiences to choose between two huge tentpoles.

But both studios knew their movies would be compared ad nauseum — each containing a similar premise where its lead titans would wage war against each other. DC, owning the most famous and more established comic book properties in Superman and Batman, still had a bit more of an uphill climb gearing up for its cinematic universe while Marvel looked forward to continuing its runoff to a climactic Infinity War one-two punch that begins in 2018 — ten years after Iron Man kicked off Phase One.

And it’s clear, after having seen Civil War, that my preference is Marvel’s movie. Not that I have to choose — one can be a fan of both comic movies and companies just like one can be a fan of Warner Bros., Universal Studios, and 20th Century Fox. I love both Guardians of the Galaxy and The Dark Knight without feeling the need to draw lines from one to the other.

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Still a Monster Movie — 10 Cloverfield Lane Review

Still a Monster Movie — 10 Cloverfield Lane Review

Seven-plus years after the found-footage film Cloverfield brought back gigantic movie monsters in a really big and dizzying way, 10 Cloverfield Lane picks up the pieces and goes for a counter, but somehow intuitive, minimal approach.

Eschewing the first movie’s first-person cameraman style that induced a level of dizzy spells and motion sickness unseen since The Blair Witch Project, the blood-related sequel is the cinematic equivalent of a bottle episode with scenes of intense drama unfolding inside the confines of an underground doomsday shelter.

Aspiring fashion designer Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) leaves New Orleans after her relationship with boyfriend Ben becomes untenable. Driving through a rural area, she takes her eyes off the road when Ben calls and is suddenly driven off the road after a collision.

She wakes up in a DIY doomsday shelter owned by the unsettling Howard Stambler (John Goodman), an obsessive-compulsive with a calm exterior who suddenly flies into fits of rage when his guests don’t obey his every command. Stambler’s spent a lifetime of resources to plan for the end of the world, and it’s finally come.

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Martha, Martha, Martha! — Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Martha, Martha, Martha! — Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Batman and Superman go toe to toe in an epic match-up that Marvel wished they had the property rights to.

Superman — the all-American superhero who stands for truth, justice, and the American way. The adopted son from Krypton, raised in Kansas, working under the alias of Clark Kent for the fourth estate. So noble.

So super.

And the Bat of Gotham — years removed from his best days. Down a sidekick and more cruel than his butler Alfred could even imagine, the Bat has lost a step because he can only manage to hide awkwardly in corners instead of disappear abruptly in the middle of conversations whenever someone turns their back. When he’s not torturing and branding criminals with a bat symbol that’s a death sentence to those who enter prison, Batman chains cars to his Batmobile and goes cruising.

I’ve wrestled with doing a review all day, and I only now could get myself to do one now that I have finally admitted to myself that Batman v Superman is a flawed movie. A terribly flawed movie.

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Anti-Superhero Movie — Deadpool Review

Anti-Superhero Movie — Deadpool Review

I had some snarky title ideas in case Deadpool was terrible.

Dead Weight. Hur hur. Dead On Arrival. Dead In the Water. Brain Dead.

None of those apply, fortunately. Though a bit rough on the edges, Deadpool still has a lot of bite and a whole lot of bark.

If you’ve seen the commercials as many times I have, you basically have the gist of the entire movie. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) finds out he has cancer and signs up for an experimental treatment that will not only heal him — it will give him superpowers.

That might sound like something too good to be true, and it is — while the treatment does involve a bit of torture to force Wilson’s mutant genes to activate, it leaves him looking hideous. To make matters even worse, the shady basement clinic plans to enslave Wilson and sell him to the highest bidder in need of a superpowered soldier.

Wilson escapes and exacts revenge with the help of two X-Men, his blind roommate, and his bartender best friend. Wanting to be cured of his grotesque visage, Deadpool hunts the mad scientist responsible.

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Fantastic Four (2015) Review

Fantastic Four (2015) Review

“Go see it for yourself,“ they said.

Fans of the movie came to its defense in various comments section, and their words were strong.

“Those who hated it were biased.”

“Yeah, it wasn’t that bad. It was actually pretty good.”

“I hate when people say don’t watch a movie. You should see it and make up your own mind.”

And so, it was decided. On a Wednesday after I visited the comic shop, I stopped by home and picked up my Cinemark popcorn tub and cup because it was time to make up my own mind on the Fantastic Four.

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Transformers 4: Age of Extinction Review

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction Review

www.hypergeeky.comIt becomes an exercise in frustration watching the Transformers go at it again.

It’s like, they never learn.

There’s an overwhelming sense of deja vu coming from the plot beats mixed with annoyance at the jarring and pace-breaking reliance on comedic bits. It also doesn’t help that the production suffers from its driven decision to appeal to its target audience — those pubescent teens with all of their hormones.

Transformers 4 plays to director Michael Bay’s strengths which turn ultimately into weaknesses. The sheen and epic visuals might convey a visual sense of something awesome, but what for? Underneath the hood of Transformers 4: Age of Extinction is a roaring engine, but the car can only go in a straight line. Though there’s a good bit of fun to be had, you’ll have to leave your brain at the door before it starts picking up all the things going wrong.

Transformers 3 ended with an epic battle between Autobots and Decepticons. In Transformers 4, the referenced Battle of Chicago is the new 9/11, and the government has cut ties with the Autobots while extending them amnesty for their help.

That doesn’t mean all is fine and dandy — a black ops team works behind the scenes with a mysterious Transformer to hunt down all others.

Now, it wouldn’t be a Transformer movie without humans, and we’re introduced to struggling inventor Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) who finds a semi-truck riddled with bullet holes and a destroyed engine block. When the truck turns out to be an angry and betrayed Optimus Prime, the government blows up Cade’s home, sending him and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) on the run as the Autobots discover the Transformer Creators have sent a bounty hunter to scour the universe to recover their prized legendary creations — Optimus being one of them.

If you want more Transformer characters, you’ve got the dual sword-wielding samurai Drift (who’s inexplicably a Bugatti Veyron and not, you know, a Japanese car), the bearded and portly soldier Hound, and the trenchcoat-wearing jewel thief Crosshairs. There’s also the martial arts fighting Su Yueming (Li Bingbing), and the grumpy black ops leader James Savoy (Titus Welliver) whose one-liners on second look aren’t as great as their delivery — “My face is my warrant.” While the acting seems genuine and sincere enough, the roles are cardboard cutouts playing up stereotypes — in this case you’re supposed to judge these books by their covers.

The conflicts are also weak and sometimes awkward — Cade’s relationship with his 17-year-old daughter becomes more complicated when her 20-year-old boyfriend Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor) comes into play. When the father threatens statutory rape claims, Dyson argues he’s protected under Romeo and Juliet laws — in fact, he’s got a card in his wallet in case anyone ever called him on it.

That’s all mixed in with the cinematic trademarks — rotating slow-motion, the tilted undershots, the dramatic pans — and in the end, it’s just too much. Clocking in 15 minutes shy of three hours, Transformers 4 is an overload of everything except for the characters we really want to see — it spends too much time with chatty humans and not enough time just letting the conflict surge. Had it done at least that, it could have glossed over the sheer amount of plot holes in the script — enough to write an entire new movie explaining mind-boggling moments, like how a 15-minute trip to get supplies coincides with a morning to evening trip to Texas by the CIA or why Lockdown and his high-tech surveillance crew simply stand around watching their targets drive off. And don’t get me started on how Optimus Prime gets the ability to fly at the end of the movie for no apparent reason.

Because Transformers. That’s why.