December 22, 2019

Movie Review #68 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Plus I rank all 9 Skywalker Saga Films) With my Talking Flick Podcast appearance!

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac Directed by J.J. Abrams 

Watching The Last Jedi helped me prepare for what was to come in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (See below review and Talkingflick.com podcast discussion on TLJ and TFA). Although TLJ was polarizing and not nearly my favorite Star Wars film, the fact that it attempted (maybe didn’t succeed) to move the story forward convinced me to let go of my old favorite characters and pass the saga on to the next generation (This is not “my” Star Wars anymore). Because I was able to let go the stakes were much lower for me in Rise of Skywalker. I went in open-minded and was able to have fun, but the downside of letting go was that the emotional moments also lost some of their power. I rejected TLJ in part for running away from fan theories and trying too hard to subvert our collective expectations, but the retcon job done here by Abrams also has problems, probably magnified by the fact that it is trying to course correct and doesn’t bother to explain the how and why, just when your mind wanders to those questions, he quickly jet sets you off to another planet before you can process it all. The franchise is taking a hiatus (at least in film) we are told by Disney, and I for one think it may need one. 

J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek) reluctantly returns to a galaxy far far away one last time to finish a saga 42 years in the making along with screenwriter Chris Terrio (Argo, BVS). Rey (A wonderful Daisy Ridley) trains while the war wages on, this time faced with a new/old threat (Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor) threatening to crush the rebellion once and for all…again. Meanwhile Kylo (A subdued Adam Driver) considers the Emperor a threat and as per the usual, wants all the power for himself, or maybe himself and a partner? I think at times it is hard to understand what the characters really want, because the script is constantly changing? Old friends and now seasoned rebel leaders, Finn (a lively John Boyega) and Poe (a little too intense Oscar Isaac), along with newcomers Jannah (Naomi Ackie), Zorii Bliss (helmet wearing Keri Russell), and new useless baddie General Pryde (Richard E. Grant) all attempt to add to a story that is overstuffed and hard to follow. It is nice that we see Lando (Billy Dee Williams) again, but what exactly is he doing on that planet? J.J. is trying wrap everything up as best he can, but when faced with answering looming questions, he either just gives us hard exposition or decides to not even bring it up. Now that we can look at the complete trilogy, I do think it served Rey and her story well enough, but pretty much no other character old or new. I think Luke and Leia get a decent arc and Han Solo adds to the trilogy immensely, but it’s hard not to criticize the lack of a cohesive story. From the 1st new film on it felt like we were making things up as we go, shooting many versions of the film and then editing something together. Rise of Skywalker feels no different, it is a messy ride, fun, at times exhilarating, but very messy. 

As an action film it is often spectacular, mostly because the emotion of our main characters, gives their battles weight. There are several wonderful set pieces and at least one epic lightsaber duel that I think is up there with any lightsaber duel before it. Similar to its predecessor TLJ, Rise of Skywalker does make some aggressive story decisions, but unlike TLJ which seemingly ran away from what the fans wanted, Rise of Skywalker leans into what the fans want. Whereas Rian Johnson read Reddit to see what not to do, J.J. reads Reddit to see what to do, it’s an odd juxtaposition that makes the 3 films feel less like a trilogy than both the originals or the prequels. All in all the sheer amount of crowd-pleasing moments are worth the price of admission, it is rare that a film can reach such heights (then forget it has the high ground), and fall flat on its face in the same 3 hour span. I went into Rise of Skywalker wanting to enjoy it mostly as a visually experience rather than an emotional one, and because I did, I left feeling fine, but it was hard not to sense the air coming out of the balloon  a bit, and one wonders how Disney can keep this gravy train rolling without someone to really steer its storytelling and find out what people really care about in this universe. SEE IT (but lower expectations). 

The Shawshank Scale (1-10) The Rise of Skywalker is a nifty conclusion to the Star Wars Saga, though it doesn’t fully satisfy due to being overstuffed, a little messy, and often lacking in compelling storytelling. It serves old fans, perhaps at the cost of inspiring imagination in new fans. It doesn’t feel enough like an event and through small pockets of screen time, doesn’t feel like Star Wars. That said the visuals are stunning and there is enough emotion that you will leave the theater not completely dissatisfied. A solid 6.0 on the Shawshank Scale, it falls short of greatness, but will entertain you.  

Ranking all 9 Skywalker Saga Films:

1. Return of the Jedi-How a trilogy should end, fun and complete.
2. Empire Strikes Back-That’s how you do unexplained family drama!
3. A New Hope-Great ride, exhilarating introduction to a galaxy far far away!
4. Revenge of the Sith-Emotional weight and amazing visuals excite and entertain.
5. The Force Awakens-Expertly casted and fun, J.J. reboots another franchise!
6. The Phantom Menace-Too long and often political, still Darth Maul and Qui-Gon are super cool.
7. Rise of Skywalker-Allows us to say goodbye to our favorites and gives Rey a shining moment.
8. The Last Jedi-Feels like a different franchise, but does have bright spots and a great soundtrack.
9. Attack of the Clones-Although Yoda fights, it is the least rewatchable of the 9. 

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK! 

Talking Flick on iTunes (The Rise of Skywalker Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor (The Rise of Skywalker Episode)



December 18, 2019

SPECIAL REVISIT OF: The Last Jedi 2017 Review With Talking Flick The Last Jedi Podcast!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Mark Hamill Directed by Rian Johnson


So J.J. Abrams did a great job getting us excited about Star Wars again (See 2015 review of Force Awakens below), but he also left the galaxy far far away a little messy. Questions and storylines that were purposely left open ended, has left the fan base (and we are a crazy fan base) theorizing endlessly about everything. Rian Johnson had a tall task with The Last Jedi, take these new characters advance their stories, pay homage to the old characters, and steer clear from the speculation machine as best as possible. To me The Last Jedi makes a noble effort, in its attempt to be a good Star Wars Sequel. I didn’t love all the writing; I didn’t love all the editing, and certainly didn’t love all the choices Rian Johnson made (maybe he could’ve used some help from frequent Star Wars scribe Lawrence Kasden), but I did at least appreciate the risk Johnson was willing to take telling a story that he must’ve known was going to be very polarizing, and it is. There is great risk in how Johnson chose to answer all the pertinent questions and he did not shy away from taking them. I was one of those crazy fans that watched youtube videos talking about who Snoke could be and what will Luke say to Rey, and so on, so I know that what Johnson did was original and not really what people were expecting, but that said I kinda wanted something more expected I guess (I didn’t realize that until I saw this film). I think seeing Last Jedi was just another example of me discovering I’m old (that is a big theme in this film, aging, time, and how we change). The truth is as much I love Rey and Finn and sort of like Kylo, I really like the old characters, so for me there is no forgiving Kylo for killing Han Solo, and there is no being ok with characters like Luke and Leia eventually departing the series. I understand that now, so given that I wanna be fair to The Last Jedi and even being fair, I didn’t love it. There are some very odd storylines that really don’t go anywhere. Benicio Del Toro and Lupita Nyong’o gotta be scratching their heads at this final cut and wondering wha-what? Laura Dern has a nice little arc and Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher do get moments to shine, but overall this story is a mess. I can’t help but feel that they are storyboarding this thing as they go and the movies are suffering from lack of a clear vision. There is this mission that leads Finn and newcomer Rose (a delightful Kelly Marie Tran) to some place called Canto Bight that makes almost no sense, and even though there are cool aliens and nice shots there, I kept asking wait why are we here again and what are they trying to achieve? The actions taken by Kylo are almost just as nonsensical, clearly this is a bad guy that doesn’t really think things through. The movie is filled with in your face dialogue like “let the past die” and “you’re not part of this story”. It isn’t all bad though the actors really deliver. Daisy Ridley’s Rey is still captivating and John Boyega is a special actor that does the best he can with what he has to work with. Carie Fisher has some great moments and Mark Hamill is just awesome, it takes a while but he becomes Luke again. There are also some great cameos which I will not spoil. When the credits come and the John Williams music rolled I was left with an uneasy feeling, this is not my Star Wars anymore, this is someone else’s Star Wars and I am going to have to get used to that…It may take awhile. SEE IT, because you have to. Lower your expectations and keep your mind open though. 


The Shawshank Scale (1-10) I give it solid 6.0 currently, but maybe in more viewings it will grow on me, for now instead of seeing it again right away I'm gonna head down to Canto Bight and roll some dice, even though I have a bad feeling about it.  

 BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY RECENT GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick on Anchor (The Last Jedi Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes (The Last Jedi Episode)

December 4, 2019

SPECIAL REVISIT OF: The Force Awakens 2015 Review With Talking Flick The Force Awakens Podcast and BONUS Empire Strikes Back Podcast!


Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Harrison Ford Directed by J.J. Abrams 

** This is a portion of my article 2015 Year in Film, with some new material added after a recent rewatch of The Force Awakens for the Podcast Talkingflick.com.

I had to start with one of the biggest films of all time, after all I stood outside in the cold on opening night to get in like so many others. Here is the thing with a movie like this is more than just a movie (don’t snicker), it really is a cultural phenomenon. I know this is true because during my 2nd viewing of this film (some 9 days after its release in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday) people were still giving standing ovations. Even more so than that, almost every time I’ve been to a theater since its release, someone in line behind me is talking about it (and get this: they are usually young folks!). This film didn’t need to be great (and it’s probably not great), it just needed to be good (and it’s better than good). J.J. Abrams does a nice job bringing back what made Stars Wars fun to begin with (and not just talking about the original cast). Like an Onion the film peels back layer after layer of nostalgia, however none of that would have really mattered if he didn’t get the new characters right…and he did, big time. I think it is wonderful to see a female lead, I can’t tell you how fresh the character Finn is (Reluctant hero, traitor, and cool leading man), Poe Dameron (who was supposed to die in the first script) is also great, I’m happy they are keeping him around. The returning cast does a nice job as well, Han Solo leads the film very well, Leia is sharp in her limited but effective role, and Luke delivers in his brief but smart ending sequence. The locations they used, and practical sets really make the difference and improve upon the prequels (which get a bad rap, but are pretty good). 

Now it isn’t all great in a galaxy far far away, there were moments this year that I flirted with the idea of having this film as #1 on the Top Ten List (See Sidebar Top Ten Lists in web browser mode if you are on a mobile device*), certainly all said and done I will rewatch this film more than any other film this year and that holds a lot of water on the Shawshank Scale, but despite that this film has problems. For starters it is fair criticism that the beats of this film feel awfully familiar (another Death Star, was that really necessary?). In addition to that the film feels incomplete, I know some of that is done on purpose, but not all of it. The film really feels like they were writing, shooting, and guessing as they went along…there is probably like 4 hours of additional footage that takes the film in all sorts of other directions. To me they could’ve waited to get the story right instead of trying different things and piecing it together. Several times in the film it feels cut and pasted, now we don’t care because it is so much fun, but still. I was surprised it received an Oscar Nomination for editing given that some of the edits are abrupt and out of place. I didn’t love, understand, or care about the Bad Guys. Who is the first order, Snoke, or what the hell are the knights of ren…who cares. That said it is a great ride, it bridges the old with the new in a fun way. I’m not sure anyone (including Lucas) could’ve done a perfect job with a film like this and J.J. deserves credit for taking on such a daunting task and not failing. Kids are excited about Star Wars again, and adults love that…because they’ve always been excited about it!

The Shawshank Scale (1-10) The Force Awakens is an incredible ride, yes, yes it has mystery boxes, hard edits, "emo" bad guys, and sadly the useless Republic and Starkiller Base (wtf??), but again what a fun time. It also has remarkable casting, great sincere nostalgia, and wait for it...Han f**king Solo, Luke mother****ing Skywalker, and the incomparable General Organa, so deal with it, I liked this film. It is well worthy of a very respectable 7.0 on The Shawshank Scale and has already proven to be extremely rewatchable. 

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY RECENT GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK! 

Talking Flick on Anchor   (The Force Awakens Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes  (The Force Awakens Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor (The Empire Strikes Back Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes (The Empire Strikes Back Episode)



November 16, 2019

Movie Review #67 Ford v Ferrari Plus my Talking Flick Podcast appearance!

Ford v Ferrari (2019) Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Caitriona Balfe Directed by James Mangold

"We’re lighter, we’re faster, and if that don’t work, we’re nastier.” Matt Damon (Carroll Shelby)

Ford v Ferrari is a movie about triumph, tragedy, friendship, and fast cars...and practically nothing else. It is a wonder that gifted filmmaker James Mangold (Logan) chose this approach when crafting this film, he really doesn’t delve into the lives of Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles outside of the racetracks and car garages where they hang out. It’s actually a genius decision not to really humanize the protagonists much, it keeps the action going (that’s needed with a 2 hours and 32 minute run time), it allows us all to have more fun and it puts more focus on the cars (which are really f**king cool). The one problem with that choice is that it undercuts the emotional moments a bit. My guess is Mangold knew we would all care about Damon and Bale no matter how much time he spent on their home life or friendship, and he was dead right. Earlier this year we saw Tarentino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood bring two Tinseltown heavyweights together in Pitt and DiCaprio, now Mangold gives a badass canvass for Damon and Bale to go to work: buckle up, cause it’s a hell of a ride. 

Director James Mangold is no stranger to biopics or historical dramas (Walk the Line), and frankly I’m happy he is hanging up his Wolverine claws for something Hollywood is dying for more of; the expensive, well crafted, adult drama. Ford v Ferrari is the story Henry Ford II (a strong performance by Tracy Letts) and Lee Iacocca’s (a surprisingly understated Jon Bernthal) crazy idea that they could develop a race car (Ford’s GT40 MK I) that could beat the dominant Ferrari race team owned by Enzo Ferrari (played well by Remo Girone) at Le Mans. To accomplish this seemingly impossible task Iacocca recruits former Le Mans winner Carroll Shelby (Oscar worthy performance by Damon) who has since given up racing due a heart condition. Shelby knows he will need a great driver to have even an outside chance at winning, so he turns to his friend, old racing rival, and struggling auto mechanic, Ken Miles (full British accent Christian Bale). These two alpha’s butt heads at every turn with each other until they discover another enemy, the suits at Ford who don’t share the same passion for oil grease and RPMs as they do. The film actually paints Ford motor company in a somewhat negative light, too concerned with churning out uninspired Ford Falcons and not passionate about making a car that grabs the attention of America’s youth. Even though the film really makes you root for Shelby and Miles, you don’t root for Ford until we actually go to France for Le Mans. Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama) shows up as a smarmy Ford Exec hellbent on getting rid of Miles and replacing him with a “Ford” man. 

The Music and sound mixing really play an important role in this film, similar to how Damien Chazelle wanted to put you in the shaky and loud NASA rocket, in 2018’s First Man, Mangold wants you to feel the tight turns and down shifting of the GT40 MK II. It works really well as you will slide around in your theater seat in between the straightaways of Le Mans. The car crashes make you jump, while Mangold even manages to successfully physically exhaust you as his 1966 Le Mans third act goes on for nearly 40 action packed minutes. It is reminiscent of 2018’s #1 film (on this blog anyway) Bohemian Rhapsody which elected to show nearly the full 17-minute set at the 1985 Live Aid concert, a decision I thought saved the film from mediocrity. Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari needs no such saving, but the third act is a masterclass in filmmaker, delivering a wonderfully entertaining and adrenaline pumped competitiveness that is rarely seen in today’s comic film saturated world. After another ho-hum sort of year in film, I needed Ford v Ferrari to be good, to at least restore some faith that a film can succeed without being part of existing IP or part of a larger expanded universe (with seemingly infinite timelines and phases), and thankfully Ford v Ferrari is very good. With a projected 30 million dollar opening weekend this 95 million dollar film might actually prove lucrative for 20thCentury Fox as well (how about that). SEE IT! 

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Ford v Ferrari is the best film of 2019 so far, in fact it’s the best film in nearly 2 years, not since 3 Billboards and I, Tonya have I had this much adult fun at the theater. Damon and Bale are a great combo and Mangold makes great storytelling choices all around. Ford v Ferrari earns a very respectable 7.0 on The Shawshank Scale and I suspect several Oscar Nominations will come from this effort.  

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY UPCOMING GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick on iTunes  (The Ford v Ferrari Episode)

Talking Flick on Anchor  (The Ford v Ferrari Episode)


November 10, 2019

Movie Review # 66 JOJO RABBIT Plus some bonus Talking Flick Appearances!

JOJO RABBIT (2019) Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi Written and Directed by Taika Waititi

"Jojo: Nothing makes sense anymore.” Yorki: Yeah, I know, definitely not a good time to be a Nazi.” Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Betzler) and Archie Yates (Yorki) 

I said on the podcast Talkingflick.com several times already how cool it is that Writer/Director Taika Waititi (Ty-Key Why-Tea-Tea) parlayed his Thor: Ragnarok success (853 Million Worldwide) into a film about a Nazi obsessed boy with an imaginary friend: Hitler (and Disney made it!), that’s hutzpah. Obviously, I wasn’t sure if it would work, especially in the PC age, and it goes without saying people are certainly allowed to have their own feelings about what may or may not be acceptable, however I found the film refreshingly original with equal parts heart and comedy. Taika Waititi is quickly becoming a “must-see” director of mine, his previous efforts (Thor: RagnarokHunt for the Wilderpeople, and What We Do in the Shadows) are all captivating if not incredibly rewatchable. Hollywood needs original content, it is desperate for it, even if it takes controversial chances in its effort to be original. I tip my hat to an unafraid director and look forward to his next work (Coming Soon from Taika: Thor Love and Thunder and Flash Gordon lol, yes please!).

Writer/Director Taika Waititi brings his unique style to an anti-hate satire film like only he can. Jojo “Rabbit” Betzler (A sweet performance by Roman Griffin Davis) is a German boy, brainwashed into blind nationalism in part by his involvement with Hitler’s Nazi Youth Groups, so naturally this lonely boy, whose father is missing under mysterious circumstances, has an imaginary friend, in this case it’s the man who ruined the name Adolf for everyone, Hitler himself (played in a light and interesting way by Waititi). His mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) has taken in a Jewish girl Thomasin McKenzie (A New Zealand actress last seen in Netflix The King) and when Jojo finds out about it, it turns his world upside down. The movie had to be a hard pitch to Disney of all companies, but I personally applaud it for tackling themes and ideas rarely explored in this kind of recently social media oversaturated, satire scared world. Several co-stars shine and add needed comic-relief to this at times awkward tale. Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards and Gentleman Broncos) as always, shines in his performance as Captain Klenzendorf the reluctant leader of the Nazi Youth Group. Rebel Wilson and Steven Merchant, both mess up the German accent, but add several laughs and young newcomer Archie Yates (who plays Yorki) steals several scenes, I’m looking forward to seeing more of him in the future (get him a Marvel film!). JoJo Rabbit does an impressive job of balancing the horror that was WWII with a lot of really goofy comedic moments, it is an incredibly fine line to walk and at times it produces awkward or guilty emotions, but satire is supposed to do that isn’t it? The film tackles a lot of themes and I found that its main through line, how people change, how that is a messy process, and how it doesn’t happen all at once, works well enough. Jojo’s journey is a mixed bag through the film that at times seems reluctant to push the envelope as much it wants to, however its pushes enough that its hard to criticize it for that. Waititi is a fearless director that really tries to layer JoJo Rabbit with sincerity and sweetness in a similar fashion to his beautiful 2016 film Hunt for the Wilderpeople (perhaps a slightly more complete film), I think it is worth noting that some of the goofball comedy, especially with imaginary Hitler does defang some of the horror that surrounds this time period, but there is enough real tragedy involved that I found it not worth complaining about. I was really uneasy while watching the film enter its third act, not really knowing how it was going to wrap up and worried that if it wasn’t able to end in a satisfactory and honest way, the “trolls” were going to unleash on it, well have no fear Waititi does enough to celebrate life as he dances with the current state of the world and the importance of understanding the past so not to repeat it. SEE IT!!

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Waitit’s JoJo Rabbit nods films such as Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and Brooks’s The Producers in the most earnest way. You will skootch around in your seat for the full 108 minutes while your body experiences the full gamut of emotions in what is truly a unique film experience. I give JoJo Rabbit a very solid 6.5 on THE SHAWSHANK SCALE


BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY RECENT GUEST APPEARANCES ON TALKING FLICK! We cover the lackluster Terminator: Dark Fate and the Timeless thriller The Silence of the Lambs!

Talking Flick on iTunes  (The Terminator: Dark Fate Episode)
Talking Flick on Anchor  (The Terminator: Dark Fate Episode)

Talking Flick on iTunes   (The Silence of the Lambs Episode)
Talking Flick on Anchor  (The Silence of the Lambs Episode)


October 5, 2019

Movie Review # 65 Joker Plus my Talking Flick Podcast Appearance!

Joker (2019) Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro Co-Written and Directed by Todd Phillips

"Better the blind man who pisses out the window than the joker who told him it was a urinal. Know who the joker is? It’s everybody." Joaquin Phoenix (Arthur Fleck)

The idea of glib Todd Phillips making a movie about the Joker made me uneasy from the get go, the guy who made The HangoverRoad Trip, and Old School (all films I admittedly like) is going to give us yet another supposed “fresh” take on a character we have seen ad nauseam in popular culture? Seems unlikely. I believe Phillips really loves 1970s character study films, I do too, I long for films like that to be made and made well, but the idea of sneaking a film like that past a studio today under the guise of a comic movie, isn’t smart, in fact it’s remarkably lazy. Unfortunately, if you want to see Lazy Taxi Driver or Less thoughtful King of Comedy then Joker is your film, but if you want to see a great character study film, watch the Scorsese originals (or maybe Fincher’s Fight Club), they are leaps and bounds better than this film. 

Writer/Director Todd Phillips brings the Joker back to the big screen…again (and only 3 years since we last saw him) this time imitating Scorsese films to an uncomfortable degree, making Joker not quite as smart as it thinks it is. Arthur Fleck (a strong Joaquin Phoenix) is a mentally ill loner whose life seems to be at a tipping point. He isn’t funny, he seems a bit dangerous, and he laughs a lot (not because he is crazy, but because he has a condition?). Just like the film is a bit of a mash up of Scorsese films, this Joker is a bit of a mash up of all the previous Jokers, problem is, we have already seen better versions of that (Nicholson, Ledger, and Hamill namely). Arthur’s journey is that of a damaged lonely man, trying to make the best of a rough existence. The backdrop is the old pre-Batman days of Gotham where the gap between the rich and the poor is causing unrest in the city. Arthur makes attempts to connect with people, he has a crush on a neighbor (the lovely Zazie Beetz of Deadpool 2), and he cares for his sickly mother (played well by Frances Conroy), a former employee of Thomas Wayne, but struggles to know his place in this world. Arthur wants to bring people joy by doing stand-up comedy, so he keeps a notebook of all his jokes, but he often mixes in suicidal and dark thoughts. His stand up is so bad it sparks interest from a popular TV show host Murray Franklin (played interestingly by Robert De Niro), who invites him on his show, presumably to make fun of him and give him a chance to defend himself. Things take a turn for the worse as some not so well concieved plot points unfold and Arthur loses it and turns to violence, becoming something of a symbol for those who are lost and feel disenfranchised. Even though things are bad for Arthur, there really isn’t enough there to show why he finally breaks and becomes violent as he does, and he doesn’t seem to be a sociopath, so I’m not sure Phillips really thought this story through. The Joker does have some very sharp cinematography done by Lawrence Sher (most recently Godzilla: King of the Monsters and memorably Garden State), as well as cool score by Hildur Gudnadottir (recently did the HBO miniseries Chernobyl), both the cinematography and score suggest weight and depth, as if the events happening in the film are important and very meaningful, but sadly Joker is too derivative and shallow to deliver on that notion of depth. Even as a comic movie it falls quite flat (I won’t spoil anything but trust me you’ll see things you have seen before, many times). In one shot of the film, Arthur sneaks into a showing of Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film classic Modern Times, this scene is shot beautifully, but I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable with Chaplin’s classic being shown in Phillips Joker film, it felt wrong. I believe Phillips thinks he has made a great film, in fact I’m sure he believes War Dogs is a great film also, but Joker like War Dogs is too shallow and empty to be a classic, in fact I am not sure in a few years if this film will matter at all. I do think a younger generation, influenced by comic writers Denny O’Neil and Alan Moore Joker stories will like parts of this film, and many fans of The Dark Knight will see Phoenix as the rightful (certainly better than Jared Leto) heir apparent to the Ledger Joker, but those of us who have been around awhile are probably better served just watching Jack Napier, Travis Bickle, Rupert Pupkin, or even The Animated Series: Batman Mark Hamill performances. MISS IT (or at least don’t rush)!


(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Phillips should maybe go back to comedy after this lackluster attempt to imitate Scorsese. Joker is too bleak and cynical for its own good, its redeeming qualities are the things that are stolen from better films and if not for some solid acting it would be a total bust. See it, but don’t rush, and if you miss Joker, don’t worry another version of this character will surely pop up in a year or two. Joker gets a less than side-splitting 5.5 on THE SHAWSHANK SCALE


BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick on Anchor  (The Joker Episode)
Talking Flick on iTunes  (The Joker Episode)

September 21, 2019

Movie Review # 64 Ad Astra Plus my Talking Flick Podcast Appearance!

Ad Astra (2019) Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, and Ruth Negga  Directed by James Gray

"I do what I do because of my dad. He was my hero. He gave his life for the pursuit of knowledge. Because up there is where our story is going to be told" Brad Pitt (Roy McBride)

A roughly 100-million-dollar psychological sci fi drama that focusses on a very personal adult theme and does not focus much on space travel, space action, or even lightsabers is always going to be a gamble. In recent years films like Intersteller and Gravity have fared well at the box office, while maybe missing the mark a bit story wise, while maybe the best we can hope in a space film these days is something like 2015’s The Martian, a moving central theme, some nerdy space stuff, and a good vibe and pace throughout. Ad Astra is at times brilliant, almost always beautiful, has a moving central theme, and yet even with only a 2:02 runtime, you can’t help but look at your watch or phone during the long wide space shots. It is the kind of film I want more of, but also the kind of film that will surely guarantee films like this are to become a dying breed, studios will roll the dice on them less and less until they are gone. 

Talented Writer/Director James Gray (The Yards) attempts to make a space opera that reaches out and tries to touch the depths of the universe and sadly, comes up a little short. Astronaut Roy McBride (in a possible Oscar worthy and wonderfully withdrawn performance by Brad Pitt) is sent on a mission that will potentially reconnect him with his estranged father (played briefly by a tired Tommy Lee Jones) with no less than the fate of the known universe at stake. The backdrop is Roy’s father Cliff McBride’s singular obsession to find intelligent life beyond earth, this obsession comes at the expense of the McBride family of course. Cliff’s mission to the outer edges of the solar system in hopes of making contact don’t go super well, so after a mutiny attempt on Cliff’s ship things go array and power surges start shooting in earth’s general direction, thereby threatening humankind. Roy is sent to make contact with his dad, if alive, and attempt to remedy the situation. It is heavy stuff perhaps more suited for the likes of an Armageddon-like Michael Bay film, but that isn’t what Gray’s film is really about, in fact the film doesn’t spend a ton of time really addressing it. Co-writers Gray and Ethan Gross (who worked on the TV series Fringe) don’t spend too much time on Roy’s current life here on earth either, he has a distant marriage (his wife is again played briefly by Liv Tyler), and his stoic personality does not give you much insight into what kind of husband he is. It feels like a problem (and many viewers will deem it a problem), but Gray I think purposefully doesn’t care about that stuff, he wants to focus only on the father and son and the themes that consume them. What are their ambitions, is the son destined to become the father, what is meaningful to them, can they reconnect if Roy finds Cliff, and finally are we alone in the universe? Gray is really not too concerned with much else other than installing small subplots to move his story along. There is a nice performance tucked into the film by Ruth Negga (Love), but even that plot device seems unnecessary. I was at times taken aback by the brief but strong violence in the film, but not enough to take me out of it. Ad Astra (which is Latin for “to the stars”) is an ambitious venture and as a wannabe critic I always give extra points for that, but truthfully it let me down a bit. I wasn’t expecting 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Martian, but I also wasn’t expecting a Terrance Malick film either (perhaps I should’ve expected that). In 2016 I struggled to make it through Gray’s Lost City of Z, another film about someone trying to reach a “mythic” place, as if finding it will somehow make a person whole again. Gray is obviously fascinated by this idea and it is interesting, but I don’t know that it plays well in this setting. Disney was holding onto this film for more than a year after its purchase of 20thCentury Fox, they didn’t know what to do with it, but maybe they were smart to wait until Tarentino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood came out and provided Pitt with some healthy Oscar buzz. I do think Pitt has had two amazing performances this year in two films that didn’t quite live up to my lofty expectations and that’s ok. Ad Astra is a beautifully ambitious film that ends a worthwhile journey answering a question with the saddest answer one could imagine, it is smart, it is well acted, and it is worth seeing. SEE IT!    

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) A stoic but brilliant Brad Pitt who hasn’t been this captivating since Moneyball and James Gray and Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema’s beautifully shot space drama is a solid enough effort to earn a 6.0 on The Shawshank Scale. I just hope it does well enough at the box office to keep Hollywood interested enough to continue making films like this. 


BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick on Anchor (The Ad Astra Episode)
Talking Flick on iTunes (The Ad Astra Episode) 

August 11, 2019

DVD Review # 51 The Shawshank Redemption (Plus my Top Ten Stephen King Film Adaptations) With Talking Flick Podcast Appearance!

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman Written and Directed by Frank Darabont

"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." Tim Robbins (Andy Dufresne)

Famous critic Roger Ebert once wrote “Every Great Film Should Seem New Every Time You See It” and I couldn’t agree more. The Shawshank Redemption doesn’t feel dated, it doesn’t feel old, and after 20 plus viewings (and countless partial viewings, shouts to TNT) I can safely say it remains fresh, thought-provoking, and as good as ever. It is on almost every meaningful “Best Films of All Time” list and sits comfortably as my #2 favorite film (I even named my rating scale after it). The film is about friendship, the human spirit, and so much more. It is so satisfying in every way; I dare someone to watch it and be disappointed. So, let’s GET BUSY LIVING and review it! 

Wonderful Writer/Director (and frequent Stephen King adapter) Frank Darabont directs a movie about two men who are both serving life sentences at a poetically beautiful prison called Shawshank. The first inmate Red (played in an Oscar Nominated performance by Morgan Freeman) is a seasoned veteran of the prison, a man who has been known to get things for other inmates from time to time and does double duty as the story’s narrator. He is immediately likable; Red’s earnest delivery and incredible smile make you hang on his every word. His initial impression of Andy Dufresne “looked like a stiff breeze could blow him over” lead you to believe that things are not going to go well at Shawshank for Andy. Andy our second inmate (played in an Oscar worthy performance by Tim Robbins) on the other hand, is icy and empty, he looks like a lost soul, it is hard to gauge what he may be thinking and that serves the story very well.  The Shawshank Redemption is full of incredible dialogue (Written by Darabont and adapted from King) and one of my favorite lines is Red’s quote about geology: “Geology is the study of pressure and time” and that quote really does encapsulate this very patient films essence. The film burns slowly like The Godfather so you feel the time passing you by and the years wasting away. Prison films often attempt this feat, Shawshank is a masterclass on it. The film has countless supporting stars worthy of mention some of whom have become iconic over the years. One of the greatest villains in film history (no that’s not hyperbole) is Warden Norton (played expertly by Bob Gunton) “Put your trust in the lord: your ass belongs to me” along with his vicious partner Capt. Hadley (played with a stoney-eyed genius from Clancy Brown) steal many scenes in the film.  James Whitmore, William Sadler, and Gil Bellows all serve the story well as fellow inmates. No subplot is wasted in this story and the flawless editing (Deborah Aquila) and cinematography (Oscar winner Roger Deakins) are a large part of what make the film timeless. Thankfully in large part due to Castle Rock and famed Producer Liz Glotzer who recognized the genius of the script, it was given a healthy budget and Darabont wasn’t noted much by the studio, but even still, though it is hard to believe, this film was a box-office failure in 1994, many studio big shots were confused as to how to market the film and assumed it would go away and die after its lackluster theater run. Its slow burn success story (one of the most successful cable film commodities of all time) is fitting given the story the film tells, after all no good thing ever dies (as Andy would say). In one of Andy’s stays in “the hole” he tells the other inmates he made it through in part because he had Mozart in his mind to keep him company, I’d like to think if I was ever in solidary confinement I’d use this film to keep me company. This film is huge part of why I love the movies and I HOPE that there are more studios willing to give adult dramas a chance. As much as I love Batman and Iron Man, Red and Andy are the heroes I want on my big screen when push comes to shove. Shawshank is my Zihuatanejo! The Shawshank Redemption is one of, if not the best film ever made, of course you should SEE IT! 

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) A true testament to the human spirit, a movie that can mean many things to many people (that’s what great art does), for me it is about friendship and love above all, two things that have provided me direction in a much too often directionless world. Salvation lay within indeed.The Shawshank Redemption is a flawless film, both classic and modern, perfectly paced, wonderfully acted, and written with undeniable genius, it gets a PERFECT 10 on THE SHAWSHANK SCALE

Ranking the Top Ten Stephen King Film Adaptations:

1.The Shawshank Redemption (1994)-See Review above, simply perfect.
2. The Shining (1980)-Kubrick and King, a perfect match.
3. Stand by Me (1986)-Another short story Reiner expands and makes great.
4. The Green Mile (1999)-More expert casting as Darabont returns to King material.
5. Misery (1990)-A career making performance by Kathy Bates carries the film.
6. Carrie (1976)-Brian De Palma really piles on the blood in this sharp adaptation. 
7. It (2017)-Andy Muschietti gives one of my favorite King stories new life.
8. The Mist (2007)-It didn’t do well but Darabont’s’ 3rdround with King material is very good. 
9. The Dead Zone (1983)-It’s not the most rewatchable but Cronenberg delivers here.
10. Christine (1983)-Best car horror film of all time, John Carpenter gives it life. 

Honorable Mentions: Dreamcatcher, Creepshow, and Children of the Corn

SHOUTS TO STEPHEN KING TV ADAPTATIONS THE STANDIT, AND SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK!


BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY UPCOMING GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK!

Special thanks to Tyler and Producer Rian for allowing me a guest spot on Talking Flick to gush over one of my favorite films and giving me a reason to finally review it. Truly a wonderful experience! 

Talking Flick on Anchor (The Shawshank Redemption Episode)
Talking Flick on iTunes  (The Shawshank Redemption Episode)

August 3, 2019

Movie Review # 63 Once Upon in Hollywood with 9 Tarantino Films Ranked! Plus my Talking Flick Podcast Appearance!

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino

"Anybody accidently kills anybody in a fight, they go to jail. It’s called manslaughter.” Brad Pitt (Cliff Booth)

Tarantino’s 9thfilm may just be his most baffling. His usual style is present, his always entertaining dialogue is there (though not as on point or clever as usual), and as he has done before, he brings this idea of revisionist history to a familiar historical event. All the pieces are in place for another Tarantino classic, but something was a little off in the valley. 

Always interesting director Quentin Tarantino brings “young girls to the valley” with his film set in 1969 Hollywood. Mostly a buddy film than a revisionist history lesson that chooses to focus more on the relationship of aging TV cowboy Rick Dalton (played very well by DiCaprio) and his driver/stuntman Cliff Booth (a vintage Pitt performance), than steer too closely to the Manson/Tate murders. I don’t think the script was always intended to go this direction. Perhaps Tarantino didn’t have a clear picture of what story he wanted to tell here, or maybe once he got Pitt and DiCaprio (rumor has it Cruise was maybe considering the Cliff Booth role), he decided to lean into those two superstars rather than the Tate murders. Sharon Tate (played quietly well by Margot Robbie) does get a decent amount of screen time, most of which she spends just walking around L.A. looking fabulous. I don’t want to criticize Tarantino too much for borderline objectifying Robbie’s version of Tate in this film because the real Tate was a beautiful woman worth celebrating (in one endearing scene the Robbie version of Tate watches the real Tate on screen in a 1968 film called The Wrecking Crew), but she doesn’t get a lot of dialogue to work with, which I found somewhat odd. The film does build tension in typical Tarantino fashion with a series of setups that in most of his films would end in bloody violence, however, he chooses to display some restraint in this film (very uncharacteristically), and we don’t get the gruesomeness we are accustomed to until the very end of the film. There are a slew of cameo’s from familiar faces of the Tarantino-film-verse, but only a few standouts get enough dialogue to chew on. Dakota Fanning (Squeaky) and Margaret Qualley (Pussycat) mischievously play two of the Manson girls, and recent Stranger Things alum (and Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke’s daughter) Maya Hawke also gets a neat little scene stealing moment. In the final analysis, for almost 3 hours, we meander around Hollywood (and briefly jet-set to Italy) a bit too much for this film to be an all-timer. At times it is very clever, at times the backdrop of 1969 L.A. is downright gorgeous, and at times, the acting is top notch; however, the sum of all these parts never quite comes together. I think when you are revisiting Nazi’s and Slavery and putting a different narrative down it works well enough, but when you are focusing (or trying to focus) on a more personal tale like the Manon/Tate murders, it feels a little more distasteful. I couldn’t help but think of Tarantino’s defense in the early 2000’s of Polanski’s rape case, why this story? Art is art, and I respect Tarantino too much as an artist to question him, but I could see how some folks may think this film is in poor taste. Hollywood can’t save Tate, Tarantino may be unable to save Hollywood, but still this film is different enough than the usual summer fare we get, it is definitely worth seeing: SEE IT! 

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) A killer soundtrack, Tarantino’s view of 1969 L.A. through his stylistic eye, and a penchant for near flawless casting keeps this film fresh and interesting enough to give Once Upon a Time in Hollywood a worthy 6.5 on the Shawshank Scale. I can’t help but feel like this film went through the script washer one too many times, and maybe Tarantino didn’t have a complete idea here. That said, I’ll be in line for his next one. 

Ranking Quentin Tarantino Films:

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)-Unlike anything I had seen before in terms of a feature film.
2. Reservoir Dogs (1992)-Incredible dialogue, realistic violence, and a cool throwback soundtrack. 
3. Jackie Brown (1997)-I liked Taratino’s take on Elmore Leonard, he should adapt more! 
4. Inglourious Basterds (2009)-It took me awhile, but I’ve learned to really appreciate this one. 
5. Django Unchained (2012)-It was almost great, but a little overstuffed. 
6. Kill Bill 1 & 2 (2003 & 04)-Culmination of all things Tarantino.
7. Death Proof (2007)-Part of a double feature, I was entertained, but didn’t find it rewatchable. 

SHOUTS TO TRUE ROMANCE! Directed by Tony Scott and filled with great performances and excellent dialogue. It’s not better than Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, or Inglourious, but might be better than the rest. 


BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY  GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick on Anchor (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Episode)
Talking Flick on iTunes (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Episode) 

July 11, 2019

DVD Review # 50 Almost Famous (Plus I rank the Cameron Crowe filmography) With Talking Flick Podcast Appearance!

Almost Famous (2000) Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Francis McDormand Written and Directed by Cameron Crowe

"Aw, Man. You made friends with them. See Friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on the feeling like you belong." Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Lester Bangs)

Rarely does a film come along that truly gives you the urge to hug yourself. Almost Famous is a 2000 masterpiece that has aged like a bottle of Silver Oak Napa. Each time I view it through the lens of being older, more failures, more success, more love, more loss, more life…each time its meaning to me personally shifts a bit. The genius of this script is that a majority of it is based on the true life of its author, a young na├»ve Cameron Crowe, I mean write what you know right? Crowe, like Aaron Sorkin, Charlie Kaufman, Alexander Payne, a few select others has the ability to guarantee I show up at the theater when they write a film. They occasionally fail, but when they are good, they are so good!

Brilliant Writer/Director Cameron Crowe directs a perfectly sweet coming of age story that has stood the test of time so far, and I don’t see Almost Famous fading away anytime soon. Crowe loosely based the film’s protagonist William Miller (played perfectly by Patrick Fugit) on himself and his experience as a teenager covering bands like The Allman Brothers and The Eagles (In Fact Billy Crudup’s spot-on character Russell Hammond is loosely based on Glenn Frey). Almost Famous is chalk full of legendary supporting performances (if I could pry the 73rdAcademy Awards Oscars away from Benicio Del Toro and Patricia Clarkson and give them to Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Francis McDormand or Kate Hudson, I would, I would Bill & Ted that shit for sure), each supporting character gets many, many expertly crafted lines (credit Crowe the writer who has done this before). I can’t think of another film where so many small parts were casted this well. It is nearly impossible to single out one supporting character but if I had to, for me it’s the mother, Elaine Miller (Oscar Worthy Performance by Francis McDormand), she is the through line that allows us that glimpse into the mind of the young William. Without her fierce scenes of stern expectations and her thoughts on that corrupting rock music, we would never really understand this journey. The character, not surprisingly is based on Crowe’s actual mother, who is said to like the portrayal, she only complains that Francis McDormand is barefoot too often in the film. Once the mother allows William to go on this crazy journey, he needs a guide, for this Crowe smartly chooses the wonderful and interesting Band-Aid (not groupie), Penny Lane (Another Oscar Worthy Performance put in here by Kate Hudson, who did win a Golden Globe). Penny along with other Band-Aids (Fairuza Balk, Bijou Phillips, Olivia Rosewood, and Anna Paquin) all amazing, take William on a journey that will change his life forever. When he needs a little advice, he can’t call his mom and be honest with what’s happening, so who does he call? Lester Bangs (a real life American Rock Critic, played as perfectly as you can by the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman), he has the best lines in the film (that is full of amazing writing mind you), “Great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love…and let’s face it, you got a big head start.”  In a sad twist of symmetry both the real-life Lester Bangs and actor Hoffman died of drug overdoses. Almost Famous is about a lot of things, the 70’s, band culture, rock star decadence, idealism, growth, naivety, all things Crowe seems to be more than qualified to write about. I think that is why this movie so rewatchable, with different viewings you find yourself understanding and relating to different characters in different ways. In my younger days I was always relating to William, after a few heartbreaks I could see the Lester Bangs viewpoint, now that I’m old, I think, jeez Elaine is just looking out for her son! Good writing is always some combination of art imitating life and life imitating art, this movie is constant loop of these ideas. I fully expect the music to live on forever and this film maybe the best music movie ever made (that’s not a documentary because truth is always stranger than fiction when it comes to bands SEE Rolling Stone: Stories From the Edge, Genesis Sum of all parts, or History of the Eagles). Almost Famous is a MUST WATCH, if you only see 25 movies in your whole life, this needs to be one of them. SEE IT!


(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Cameron Crowe is one of my favorite Directors and this is his second best work ever (Jerry Maguire a Top Ten Film of All Time, being the 1st), I won’t argue with you if you think Almost Famous is better than Jerry Maguire both films are All timers after all. I gave Jerry Maguire a 9.5 and it sits as my #5 film of all time, Almost Famous is just outside my Top 10, but not by much, I’m giving it a 9.0 on The Shawshank Scale and I look forward to watching it again…ITS ALL HAPPENING! 

Ranking Cameron Crowe Films:

1. Jerry Maguire (1996)-Such a beautifully crafted film with maybe the best casting of all time.
2. Almost Famous (2000)-Music, Love, Life…I mean Almost Perfect!
3. Say Anything (1989)-Lloyd with the boombox playing Peter Gabriel...I mean cmon!
4. Elizabethtown (2005)-Mix CD, Skynyrd, Road Trip, Dunst Perfect, Bloom less so.
5. Singles (1992)-Perfectly capturing the Seattle music scene at exactly the right time. 
6. We Bought a Zoo (2011)-A sweet family film, that got a bad rap.
7. Vanilla Sky (2001)-It has problems, but I found a lot to like in this interesting thriller.

SHOUTS TO FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (Which he wrote and Amy Heckerling Directed), His only truly bad film is 2015’s Aloha which had some nice thoughts but ultimately is just a bad film. I am a true believer, I think he has greatness in him still, I hope we see him on top of Hollywood again. 


BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK!

Talking Flick: This week on Talking Flick we talk about an all timer ALMOST FAMOUS! 

Talking Flick on Anchor (Almost Famous Episode)
Talking Flick on iTunes (Almost Famous Episode)

July 5, 2019

Movie Review # 62 Spiderman: Far From Home with 7 Spiderman Films Ranked! Plus my Talking Flick Podcast Appearance!

Spiderman: Far From Home (2019) Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal and Directed by Jon Watts

"You’re all alone. Your friends are in trouble. What are you going to do about it?" Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan)

So we are at the end “Phase 3”, we know the fate of several characters from Avengers: Endgame, we know the weirdness that is “The Blip”, people reappearing (5) years after they disappeared, and now we need to realign the superhero-verse and move forward, the question Spiderman Far From Home asks (in a sort of unnecessary and incoherent way) is: who will be the next Iron Man?

**This Review contains mild spoilers for Avengers: Endgame and Spiderman Far From Home**

Returning Director Jon Watts (who made his name with 2015’s Cop Car) does a noble job picking up after the star studded and momentous events of Avengers: Endgame. The opening of the film directly addresses the losses of Tony Stark, Steve Rodgers, and Natasha Romanoff with a clever song choice. Spiderman is now front and center of The Avengers, whether he likes it or not. Peter Parker (a solid Tom Holland who again is no Tobey Maguire) is clearly overwhelmed with his new responsibilities and has not dealt with the emotional blow that losing another father figure has handed him. Peter wants nothing more than to take the summer off to process all this and figure out a way to tell his crush M. J. (a perfectly cool Zendaya) he really likes her. Unfortunately (or Fortunately) for us this is a superhero movie so that isn’t going to happen. A sleepy Nick Fury and Maria Hill show up and hijack Peter’s European vacation and inject rather sloppily, a lackluster bad guy Mysterio (played adequately by a bearded Jake Gyllenhaal, who was almost cast as Spiderman once) into the fold. Peter makes a bunch of bad decisions, a bunch of mediocre CGI occurs, and the legacy of Tony Stark and his infinite supply of robot killing machines gets a little more tarnished.  This move is perfectly watchable, don’t get me wrong, it is very charming especially when it forgets it’s about an Avenger and focusses on entertaining teens doing teen stuff. I found the action sequences lazy and the villain backstory rather unimaginative. Tony Starks killer robots are starting to feel like Batman’s parents dying (if I have to watch them one more time…!!!!). I admire the attempts to keep Tony’s name involved here, but reminding us that he was a flawed narcissist who continuously put the world he cared about at risk because he kept inventing and losing control of killer robots (in this case drones) and didn’t treat people who worked for him very well, maybe isn’t the best way to honor the guy that helped save the planet (tip o’ the cap to my man Capt. America!). I did enjoy the flirty relationship between Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan and the lovely Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May (my favorite Aunt May ever!). It was also nice to have a quiet moment where both Happy and Peter get a few scenes to grieve the loss of Tony, it is some of the most earnest filmmaking in the MCU and I commend them for making time for it. 

I read somewhere that Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes (Vulture) was supposed to be in this film, I am not sure why he wasn’t, I really felt like Mysterio’s character was poorly conceived, he maybe could’ve used a little Sinister Six backup. After Thanos it looks like Marvel will go back to its generic “bad guy” problem that has plagued many of the solo adventure films. And I don’t know if Marvel will ever recover from losing (2) of its major stars (Evans and Downey Jr. we know Scarlet Johansson will be back for at least one more), but I do hope they find more interesting ways to introduce and interweave these characters together for future team-ups. Holland is a good Spiderman and Watts is an interesting director, but I would suggest this be their last film together, Spiderman has to grow up and maybe Watts and these teen stories need to be swept aside for some more “adult” problems. The movie contains (2) post credits scenes (you will want to see both) and ends with a nice little twist (and **SPOILER**heee’ssss back!!! J. Jonah Jameson played by the brilliant J.K. Simmons). Spiderman Far From Home has a clever teen charm to it, but ultimately feels like a letdown after Avengers: Endgame, I could’ve lived a little longer without this film (think Sony rushed it a bit), waiting would’ve allowed us to digest Endgame a bit more. SEE IT!!! but no need to rush


(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Zendaya’s M.J. needs more screen time, Parker needs to make better decisions, and Happy Hogan needs to be in all these films! Spiderman: Far From Home is fine, I will give it the same rating I gave Homecoming, a 6.0 on The Shawshank Scale, but it isn’t as cool as Homecoming and it isn’t as epic as Endgame, so what it is? I think it is just another middle of the pack Marvel movie, let’s hope for a fresher take next time out!



My Peter Tingle tells me it’s time to rank the Spiderman Films (No Into the SpiderVerse*):

1. Spiderman 2 (2004)-Sam Raimi is the perfect comic director; it all comes together here. 
2. Spiderman (2002)-I was blown away that they were able to get this so right, it felt groundbreaking in its day. 
3. Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)-The charming “John Hughes-like” take wins you over. 
4. Spiderman 3 (2007)-Overstuffed, often ridiculed, but I still like many parts of this film. 
5. Spiderman: Far From Home (2019)-It’s a tad lazy, but still maintains its charm. 
6. The Amazing Spiderman (2012)-Marc Webb made some interesting choices in this unnecessary film, Garfield and Emma Stone are too EMO to be charming though.
7. The Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014)-The rails come off, though Jamie Foxx was good, and they had the gaul to kill Gwen Stacy. 


BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY GUEST APPEARANCE ON TALKING FLICK!


Talking Flick: Listen to my recent guest spots on Talking Flick a great movie podcast where we talk about all things Spiderman! Available on iTunes, Sticher, Anchor, or wherever you listen to Podcasts: Links below. 
Talking Flick on Anchor (Spiderman: Far From Home Episode)
Tallking Flick on iTunes (Spiderman: Far From Home Episode)