TV Shows

WandaVision

I had high hopes when the show initially started due to the meta usage of layering a show within a show. And then the slow reveal that everything was a reality created by Wanda was unique. I enjoyed the performance by Randall Park as Jimmy Woo, it brought in comedy to what was otherwise a grim affair. Elizabeth Olsen did an excellent job portraying a woman consumed by grief and the PTSD that comes from watching your loved one die (twice in her case). I was indifferent to Paul Bettany as Vision. There’s not much that character can bring emotionally to the table. He’s more a tool to advance Wanda’s character.

The rest of the supporting cast characters such as Captain Rambo, Darcy, Hayward, and her twins all did pretty decent. Nothing outstanding, just played their roles. Agatha was campy fun and a nice foil to Wanda, but ultimately served little purpose other than to accentuate Wanda as the Scarlet Witch. The citizens of Westview had little effect on the plot, I thought they would have more than what was shown. That they would have a greater impact on Wanda’s character but they simply served to reminder her that her actions have consequences.

Spoilers From Here On

Ultimately, I was filled with disappointment. They failed to deliver what I had hoped to have been shown. I was expecting to see a Scarlet Witch devastated by loss and brought to madness but it’s Disney, they never have the courage to show such loss. Gotta keep it kid friendly – yet their cartoons have no problems killing off the mom characters. I was expecting Wanda’s twins to die, and Vision to die, and then consumed by grief and vengeance, she becomes the Scarlet Witch and a tragic villain. Instead, we got a Wanda that accepted her loss (for the moment) and reverted everything to normal except the townsfolk hate her guts, oh and she stole the magical evil spellbook. Any devoted fans recognize it from Agents of Shield? Yup, the book that made Ghost Rider and the same book he took to Hell, somehow showed up in Agatha’s hands. I’m slightly angered by that. Shows they don’t care at all for Agents of Shield and that they’re clearly retconning it. And watch, all sorts of various sites are gonna be talking about how the darkhold can bring all sorts of magical things to the MCU… Newsflash people! It’s already happened!

Other disappointments include the Vision vs Vision fight. Two entities capable of phasing through matter fighting into a stalemate and then having a philosophical match. Yawn. Captain Rambo gets powers and she uses it to stop bullets. Another yawn.

Honestly, this entire show was just a marketing ploy for Doctor Strange 2. You could have cut it down to four hour long episodes and you’d have achieved the same result. The only gains were a new superhero, Vision back from the dead, and Wanda as Scarlet Witch. And all of that was simply teased, never allowed to go to full fruition. It’s clear the movies are their main goal to forward the MCU, and the TV shows are but appetizers to slightly sate your hunger while they prepare the main course.

Overall, I actually don’t recommend watching this. It’s a time sink with little to no payout. You’ll have learned nothing going into Doctor Strange 2 that would influence the plot. If you knew comics at all, you already know Wanda is the Scarlet Witch. If you do insist on viewing it, you can skip every episode and watch the finale and you would have learned as much as those that watched it in its entirety. This was a special effects extravaganza and light on storytelling. Then again, it’s Disney. What did one expect?

Movies

Boss Level

Directed by Joe Carnahan. Starring: Mel Gibson, Frank Grillo, Naomi Watts, Will Sasso, and Ken Jeong, with Michelle Yeoh.

A movie in the vein of groundhog day, and Edge of Tomorrow, co-written by Joe Carnahan, that just absolutely kicks ass. I very much enjoyed this movie and had a blast watching it. The idea of repeating a day over and over until succeeding in whatever mission a hero has is not new, but in the way it goes about it is quite touching. Yes, there’s action and plenty of it. But there’s also soul to be found in it. And like Edge of Tomorrow, it follows an almost video game format. Where our hero gets better and learns new skills each time he dies.

Frank Grillo plays our hero named Roy, a special forces ex-operative who spends his days drinking and hooking up while pining for his ex-wife with whom he has a young son. Due to his career, his son is unknowing that Roy is his father. One day, he visits his ex-wife at her top secret research facility and then our movie unfolds. Smartly our story does not start there, but in the thick of things with our hero on a random number of resets and then shows us how he got to that point.

The action is well done, and easily followed. There is comedy to be found in his attempts to save the day. Frank Grillo is, in my eyes, a full blown action hero. Even got the muscles to boot. Naomi Watts plays the ex-wife who wishes her ex-husband was the man she once knew with a soft touch and we can feel her laments. Mel Gibson as the bad guy in all this, a former Colonel, does well to establish why we don’t want him to succeed. The rest of the supporting cast help breath that brevity that Roy has in his moments between escaping the clutches of death. And there is a touching story within it all of a father trying to reconnect with his son.

The soundtrack is amazing and helps with the aesthetic of it being a video game. Overall, I highly recommend watching this movie. You’ll not regret it.

Movies

Project Power

Great, another superhero movie… Except it isn’t. Like the Boys, this movie appears to be about superheroes but in reality, it’s a whole other bag. Part of it is majorly anti-government, and the bad guys are defense contractors. Well, one company, but still, both The Boys and Project Power share the same kinda baddie. And I enjoy that because it ain’t far from the truth. Why would some stranger in a desert be the bad guy, when those in power would be the ones to want to hold onto that power? They would do anything to keep it. And such is the case in this movie. One of the main characters is Art aka the Major, played by Jamie Foxx, who is on a mission to rescue his daughter from American scientists working for a defense contractor because from him, and his daughter comes the source of superpowers. The delivery mechanism? A pill that will either kill you, or for 5 minutes will give you powers.

What follows is slick action scenes and impressive CGI showcasing various powers, while still having heart in the story. It briefly touches on several issues such as teens dealing drugs can’t play the “but I’m just a child” card when they’re fully aware of what they’re doing. Briefly it touched on how the system is designed to keep young black men and woman from surviving and that they gotta learn to game the system because that’s all the system does to them. They gotta find what they’re good at, and exploit it for their own benefit. It also touches on mass police corruption in New Orleans by suggesting to the other main character, a cop played by Joseph Gordan-Levitt, why would they test the drug there? Because the cops are all easily paid off.

The acting here is phenomenal, not just by Jamie Foxx but also by Dominique Fishback who turns in quite a performance playing a teen dealing drugs to support her diabetic mom. Jamie Foxx chewed the scenery he was in, and I just thoroughly enjoyed watching him. The movie is fun. It feels a little bit like a remedy against superhero movies, and it was nice to see a somewhat original idea. We need more of that for the SciFi genre, instead of rehashing older movies.

Overall, I recommend this movie for a Friday night watch. It’s got action, heart, and just an all around good time… Except for the bad guys. They get their due.

Movies

Terminator: Dark Fate

Spoilers Below, You have been warned

When I go into a Terminator movie, I expect a certain level of action and philosophizing about chosen ones and all that. This rendition of the story is a sequel to Terminator 2 and starts off directly addressing that in the prologue by establishing Sarah Connor and John Connor’s grim fates (get it?). Then the story moves onto a new set of characters because the future has been changed. A supposedly male spanish-speaking Terminator lookalike appears and sets the stage as the villain. A female humanoid, kung-fu fighting, system UI in her head analysing the situation, badass appears and sets the stage as the equivalent of Kyle Reese but more awesome. While Kyle was the father of the chosen one, she is a warrior and the right-hand of the main character – who must be saved – but in the future. The fate of the human race lies in hands of a young, Mexican girl named Dani.

This character is the worst part of the movie. It’s not that it was acted bad; in fact, the actress in question was 30 at the time playing a young 18 year old girl and I didn’t realize until googling afterwards. So she did a remarkable job. Her character, though, is a joke and so incredibly hard to believe that she’d somehow turn around the human race from certain doom. If the character would have had a closer connection to the supposed bad guys that want her dead, Legion aka the new skynet, then her character would have had more impact. She’s a nobody with no combat experience or expertise, and somehow future her can rally people together. I digress.

The rest of the movie is absolutely awesome. Grace is the aforementioned badass, who turns out to be a severely augmented human with her own power core – basically a cyborg. Sarah Connor eventually meets our fantastic duo and promptly shows off her own badassery. Together they learn things. Story moves along. And finally we meet Arnie. He’s playing an aged T-800 who, after completing his mission, has derived purpose from having a family and over time, gaining sentience. He understands the pain he’s caused Sarah Connor. As soon as they developed his story, I knew it was going to be for emotional impact from when he inevitably dies. I still shed a tear then, knowing it was coming. I could have watched a whole movie just about an aging Terminator trying to survive in our world. Especially one that has gained sentience and feels remorse for its actions. I digress.

I didn’t mention Grace because she’s obviously a throwaway character meant to die to give Dani the resolution needed to carry on for the future. She died similarly to how a certain Terminator did in a previous movie. I would have preferred a movie about her instead too. Anyone but what they went with. Given that, but given the solid performances by Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the action sequences, and fidelity and everything else, I’d rate it as a solid watch. Like 7/10, worth giving it a view.

Movies

Code 8

This is a story about superpowers but nobody is a hero. Just regular downtrodden folks albeit powered with abilities trying to etch by an existence. The protagonist is not a hero, he’s a boy trying to eek out a living so he can provide for his ailing, sick mother. The antagonist is your run of the mill gangster trying to sell drugs except he’s got mind reading powers and his bodyguard who can withstand bullets. This gangster is ill and employs a young girl who can heal him because she’s got healing powers.

The opening sequence establishes that New York and America was built by powered folks who are now a minority and are replaced by automation. The powered individuals go to the corner store and wait for a truck to come by who will ask for types of powered folks to help with construction. The similarity here to Mexicans and other minorities is obvious. If the powered individuals can’t find work then they turn to crime to provide for their families. Laws are put into place to further persecute them. The cops treat them as less than human, and are distasteful and outright cruel to them.

The story kicks off when the boy accepts a job from a crew of criminals led by a man who has telekinetic powers, and they themselves run under the leadership of the aforementioned mind reading gangster. The story is dark and depressing and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no happy ending. All the characters are flawed. And for their actions, they have to repent. Either by death or prison. It’s a very sobering view of a potential world. This isn’t Marvel or DC, this is reality and it is unrelenting. While I enjoy some stories not having a happy ending, I feel this is one such tale that would have benefited from such an ending. The powered folks should have revolted back against their oppressive governments and taken a land for themselves. I would have preferred that story.

As for the acting itself, I found that everyone did a good job with what they had to work with except for the lead actor, Robbie Amell. He comes across as feeling like he’s dead in the eyes and kinda lackluster. Whereas his cousin, Stephen Amell – as the telekinetic criminal – is more believable in his emotions. His anger is felt. His charisma shines through. Greg Bryk as the gangster comes off as a slimeball and real prick of a man. These actors become the characters they are trying to play except for Robbie Amell; he feels misplaced. Oh well, he’s got time to improve.

All in all, it’s a good movie and a great story if not a little bit too depressing. The special effects are solid and the forced perspective they used to create drones and robots sometimes suffers from being obvious. I recommend watching this movie, and perhaps they’ll do a sequel to this world they’ve created.