MoviePass Adventures: Month 8

Last month was kind of a slow month, not as many films that I went and saw with my MoviePass.  Here’s this month’s entries (which turned out even slower):

1.) Solo:  A Star Wars Story

The latest of the anthology Star Wars films is a prequel of sorts, retelling (or retconning) the origin story of Han Solo.  it goes into the story of how Han meets Chewbacca, how he gets a hold of the Millennium Falcon and the beginnings of his smuggler life.  This was a fun film.  I was very skeptical given how “The Last Jedi” was so bad to me but this film does not make the same mistakes.  It’s a fun film that makes the proper homages to the past, tells a good story and is fun to watch.

 

2.) Ocean’s 8

Set in the same world as the films Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12 & Ocean’s 13:, this one is a spinoff of sorts looking at Danny Ocean’s sister, Debbie and the crew she gathers to steal this ridiculously expensive necklace worn during the Met Gala while at the same time getting back at her ex-boyfriend who was responsible for her landing in jail.  I liked the films (which I wasn’t sure initially).  I didn’t like the fact that they killed off Danny (off screen but still) but overall I liked it.  A good analogy for this film was a band I liked doing a cover song.  I liked the band and I liked the song but after hearing the song it would make me want to go back to listen to the original.  I think the same for Ocean’s 8. After watching it I now want to go back and watch Ocean’s 11.

 

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 42

(Number of unique films seen overall: 40)

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MoviePass Adventures: Month 7

It’s the seventh month of having MoviePass and after a record tying nine films last month, here’s the films I’ve seen this month:

1.) Avengers:  Infinity War

The culmination (and just the first part too) of three Phases of Marvel films, Avengers: Infinity War is a huge undertaking.  There is a lot to take in and I’m sure I will need to see it multiple times to really take it all in.  Aside from a few characters, I thought they handled them all very well.  It told a tremendous story.  I’m already looking forward to the next one.

2.) Chappaquiddick

Based on the true story of the events that centered around Senator Ted Kennedy and the accident that claimed the life of a former Robert Kennedy campaign secretary Mary Jo Kopechne, the film tells the story of the week when the incident happened and the fallout of the event.  There was a great cast, particularly Ed Helms had a great performance.  The cast made the film better.

3.) Lu Over The Wall

This anime film tells the story of a boy named Kai Ashimoto, a loner type who loves music, who encounters a mermaid named Lu and the shenanigans that ensue between humans and merfolk.  It is a way I thought about it in describing it as “Ponyo a little older who loves rock music and dancing.”  It’s a fun little film.  I’m a fan of anime and I enjoyed this film.  It was a little trippy at times but overall I enjoyed it.

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 40

(Number of unique films seen overall: 38)

 

MoviePass Adventures: Month 6

I’m into my 6th month of MoviePass and should get more interesting given it’s starting to get into a more film heavy season.  Here’s what I saw in this month:

1.) Tomb Raider

Based on the popular video game franchise, Tomb Raider tells the origin story of sorts of Lara Croft, adventurer who is seeking the truth about the whereabouts of her father while having to deal with the mysterious organization Trinity.  I thought it was better than the Angelina Joile versions.  As a whole I thought it was a decent film.  The villain was not as good as he could’ve been and thought that kinda dragged the film down.  Otherwise I liked the film.

2.) Pacific Rim: Uprising

The sequel to the 2013 film, this film takes place 10 years later after the end of the Kaiju war.  Jake Pentecost (son of the character that Idris Elba played in the original) and a new group of cadets and pilots have to stop a new kaiju threat.  As a standalone film, I really enjoyed it.  As a sequel to the first film it fell flat in a few spots.  The main one being it never addressed what happened to the main character Raleigh.  But as a whole I really enjoyed it.

3.) Midnight Sun

A remake of a 2006 Japanese film, Midnight Sun tells the story of Katie Price, a girl with a rare disease that prevents her from ever being out in sunlight.  She falls in love with the boy down the street, who doesn’t even know she exists.  A chance meeting one night a train station leads to both of them meeting and falling in love.  I liked the film.  I really enjoyed the cast especially Rob Riggle was great as Katie’s dad.  It is kinda a sad film so be prepared for that.

4.) Paul Apostle of Christ

The film is based on the life of Paul of Tarsus, who helped spread the gospel of Christ to Asia Minor and into Europe.  The main focus of the film is the later years of Paul’s life, during his second imprisonment in Rome just before his death.  There are a few flashbacks but for the most part sticks to these later years that aren’t really covered in the Bible.  Overall, it’s a pretty decent film.  I liked it and was for the most part faithful to how scripture portrays Paul.

5.) Ready Player One

The film, based on the novel of the same name, takes place in Columbus, Ohio in 2045.  A tech genius created a virtual world called the Oasis and left keys within it that if collected would unlock a secret Easter egg & control of that entire virtual world.  Wade Watts is among those seeking those keys and at the same times keep control of the Oasis away from those who want it only for greed.  I really enjoyed the film.  It’s a lot of fun and a lot of 80s/90s references abound.

6.) The Miracle Season

The film, based on the true story of the 2011 West High School Girls’ Volleyball team, tells the story of the Women of Troy and their run to the state championship after losing their star player Caroline “Line” Found to a tragic accident at the beginning of the year.  The team must overcome the tragedy and go ona miracle run to qualify for state and try to defend their state championship.  They have a great cast that includes Helen Hunt and William Hurt and it’s a compelling film.  I would add it to my list of favorite sports films of all time.

7.) The Miracle Season (second viewing)

8.) Rampage

Based on the video game, Rampage deals with some evil corporate scientists, the military and The Rock.  It’s a pretty fun escape film.  It’s the kind of film you just go and have 2 hours or so of escape.  I had a fun time with it.

9.) Sgt. Stubby:  An American Hero

Based on a true story, this animated film tells the story of a stray dog named Stubby who is adopted by an American regimen and goes off to World War I and helps save lives of American and French troops.  He was even awarded the rank of sergeant and is the highest decorated war dog in American history.  The animation was pretty cool and the overall it’s a very entertaining and underrated film.  Definitely worth checking out

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 37

(Number of unique films seen overall:  35)

MoviePass Adventures: Month 5

Into my 5th month of MoviePass, after last month’s record of 9 films, here’s what I saw this month:

1) Early Man

From the makers of the Wallace & Gromit & Shaun the Sheep films, Early Man is the story of Dug & a group of cave people who are trying to save their valley from the evil Lord Nooth and the impending Bronze Age.  It’s a fun little film with a really good voice cast featuring Eddie Redmayne, Maisie Williams and Tom Hiddleston.

 

2.) Samson

Based on the biblical story from the book of Judges, Samson tells the story of Samson, one of the Judges during the time before kings in Israel.  As a film, I thought it was good. It had a pretty interesting cast with Billy Zane, Lindsey Wagner among others.  Putting on the theologian hat, it got most everything right.  There were some things that were taken liberties with.  But overall I thought it was fair to the scriptures in telling the story.

3.) Peter Rabbit

Based on the children’s stories by Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit has all the lovable characters in a modern setting with a new Mr. McGregor  (played by Domhnall Gleeson) dealing with the rabbits and other wildlife.  It was a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed it and laughed out loud a lot of times.  Great kids movie and for adults as well.

4.) Red Sparrow

This film (based on the first of a trilogy of novels) centers around a former Russian ballet dancer who gets injured and has to help our her uncle who works for Russian intelligence.  This then leads her to live a live as a spy working to find out who the mole is in the Russian government.  She does this to save her own life and to help out her mother who is sick.  It is a very deep film with lots of layers.  Has a great cast.  I think though seeing it once was enough for me. It isn’t a film I would want to go back and see over and over.

5.) I Can Only Imagine

Based on the story of the life of Bart Millard, the lead singer of Mercy Me & the writer of the song “I Can Only Imagine”, the film tells the story of his life growing up in Texas with an abusive father and a gift for singing.  Along the way of pursuing a dream of music, Bart had to learn forgiveness for his father and also to find his voice as a singer.  It is a tremendous film and one that I would highly recommend to everyone.

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 28

Board Games and Community

This past weekend was the 13th annual Tennessee Game Days.  It’s a board game convention that’s held in Franklin, TN.  This year was the 4th year that I’ve attended.  I was always one that enjoyed playing board games even as a kid.  But I really got into playing board games when the resurgence of popularity of them took off earlier this decade.

For those that don’t know, a board game convention (like this one) is where people from all around come together to play board games.  People from all walks of life get together and sit down to play games.  How cool is that?  This being my fourth year I’ve seen several people that I recognize from previous years as well as meet new people who are there for the first time.

People that know me know I’m a “extroverted introvert”.  I like small groups and need my time to recharge the social batteries.  But I love going to events like this to meet people and interact.  It is a cool way to build community sitting around talking and playing games.

People from different backgrounds can come together and fellowship and build community.  That is what the church is about as well  People from all walks of life coming together to fellowship and worship.  And I’ve found that something as simple as playing a board game can be a way to connect with people and build relationships.

In our society of being connected digitally, it’s nice to unplug and connect in such an analog way.  I think it would be well for all of us to find a group of friends (or make new friends) and play board games.  Connect and develop relationships through something as simple as a game can have a big difference in someone’s life.

The MVP of the MCU: The Marvel Villain Problem of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

I am a fan of the superhero film genre.  I love (for the most part) the Marvel films.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe films have taken the genre to new heights.  But there is one prevailing problem in the MCU.  It is the MVP of the MCU: the Marvel Villain Problem.

(Spoilers if you have not seen any or all of the MCU films)

To boil it right down, the Marvel Villain Problem is this: they kill off the villain at the end of nearly every film.  You may not have thought about it given we are now 18 films in with the release of Black Panther but it is true.  Nearly every film in the MCU features the death of the main villain (and sometimes the secondary villain as well).  Here’s the list of MCU films and the fate of each main villain:

1.) Iron Man

Main Villain: Obadiah Stane. Status: Killed at the end of the film

2.) The Incredible Hulk

Main Villain: Emil Blonsky (Abomination).  Status: Alive, beaten and left with the army

3.) Iron Man 2

Main Villain: Ivan Vanko (Whiplash).  Status: Killed at the end of film

4.) Thor

Main Villain: Loki.  Status: Presumed dead but is still alive

5.) Captain America: The First Avenger

Main Villain: Red Skull.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

6.) The Avengers

Main Villain: Loki.  Status: Alive and in prison on Asgard

7.) Iron Man 3

Main Villain: Aldrich Killian.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

(One could argue that the Mandarin was also a main villain but they made that story to be that it wasn’t the real one but an actor so don’t know you could include that as a main villain)

8.) Thor: The Dark World

Main Villain: Malekith.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

9.) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Main Villains: Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier), Alexander Pierce.  Status: Barnes – Alive and in hiding. Pierce – Killed at the end of the film

10.) Guardians of the Galaxy

Main Villain: Ronan.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

(One could argue Thanos as a main villain but he didn’t have that big a role in this one. That one is being saved for Avengers: Infinity War.)

11.) Avengers: Age of Ultron

Main Villain: Ultron.  Status: Killed (?) at the end of the film

(Ultron is a robot so the AI could still be out there but in the film, all of his bodies that he used were destroyed)

12.) Ant-Man

Main Villain:  Darren Cross/Yellowjacket.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

13.) Captain America: Civil War

Main Villain: Helmut Zemo.  Status: Alive and in custody (but not before he attempted suicide) at the end of the film

(a secondary villain (Crossbones) was killed early in the film)

14.) Doctor Strange

Main Villains: Kaecilius, Dormammu.  Status: Alive (?) in the Dark Dimension

(We know Dormammu is still alive, Kaecilius may be there as well as he was drawn into the dimension)

15.) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Main Villain: Ego.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

16.) Spider-Man: Homecoming

Main Villain: Adrian Toomes (Vulture).  Status: Alive and in prison at the end of the film

17.) Thor: Ragnarok

Main Villain: Hela.  Status: Killed at the end of the film

18.) Black Panther

Main Villain: Erik Stevens (N’Jadaka/Killmonger).  Status: Killed at the end of the film

(A secondary villain Ulysses Klaue is also killed in the film)

 

After going through these films, we have to take into account that one “main villain” is not a villain anymore.  So through 18 films, here is the list of villains still alive in the MCU: Abomination, Loki, Helmut Zero, Dormammu, Kaecilius, Vulture.  We also have Thanos (who will be the main villain in Avengers: Infinity War) Mordo (who will more than likely be the main villain in the sequel to Doctor Strange).  But in 18 films there are only 7 films where the main villain is alive at the end.  But that number is skewed because Loki is the main villain in 2 of those and another of those (Bucky Barnes) is now a hero in the MCU.  So if you throw out Barnes, it’s only 6 films (since Pierce died in Winter Solder).

So why is this a problem? Well for one, you drain the number of great villains from the comics.  Especially when you kill off great villains (Red Skull, Hela, Killmonger, Ultron) but even just villains that could develop into more if given longer opportunities (Stane, Crossbones, Ronan).  Now we don’t know what the plans are post Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel.  But unless they retcon at some point (which I don’t think that’s what Kevin Feige will do) there will come a point when they won’t have any strong villains left if they keep killing them off.  Or at least not enough to pose a viable threat to the Avengers post Infinity War.

Then again, Marvel may not feel like having another big team up film again.  But it is too bad we won’t ever see a huge villain team up film to oppose the Avengers (ala a Marvel version of the Legion of Doom).

MoviePass Adventures: Month 4

Month 4 of my adventures of MoviePass and picked up the pace in seeing films in the theater:

1.) Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Based on the story “The Little Broomstick” by Mary Stewart, Mary and the Witch’s Flower is the first film from Studio Ponoc but in it’s DNA is a Studio Ghibli film.  The director Hiromasa Yonebayash previously directed The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There and this film has that same kind of heart and visuals.  This film feels like a mashup of When Marnie Was There, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle. This is the next era of animated films as a spiritual successor to the Ghibli dynasty.

2.) Ferdinand

Based on the children’s book “The Story of Ferdinand”, Ferdinand is about this large bull named Ferdinand who everyone expects to be this fighter but he doesn’t want to fight.  It was a really fun little film.  The voice cast was entertaining and had a lot of laughs.  It was very enjoyable.

3.) The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman is based on the life of P.T. Barnum, who helped create and run one of the biggest circuses in the country.  Ironic that the film released shortly after the Barnum & Bailey Circus shut down.  Anyway, I liked the film.  I’m usually hit or miss with musicals but this one I enjoyed.  The songs fit the story & overall had a good story.

4) 12 Strong

Based on a true story, 12 Strong tells the story of the first military group that went to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban after 9/11.  There’s a really strong cast that includes Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena & Rob Riggle.  This was a really good film and enjoyed it a lot.

5.) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

A “sequel” (probably better to call it a spiritual successor) to the first Jumanji film, this one takes the Jumanji board game and turns it into a video game.  Four teenagers find the game during detention and get drawn into the game and in order to get out have to break the curse and save Jumanji.  Very funny film with good action sequences.  It tells its own story while giving nods to the original film.  Worth checking out.

6.) The Post

Based on the true story of the “Pentagon Papers” and the release of them to the media specifically involving the Washington Post newspaper.  It was an okay film.  They had a good cast that did a good job.  It just wasn’t as compelling a film to me as other films set in that time period.

7.) The 15:17 to Paris

This film is based on the true story of three friends (played by their real life counterparts) who help stop a terrorist attack on a train from Amsterdam to Paris.  Directed by Clint Eastwood, it looks at the event as well as the lives of the three friends growing up out in California.  It was a good film.  There was some editing that was kinda off at times but overall I enjoyed.  For not being actors, the three guys did a good job.

8.) Forever My Girl

This film tells the story of a country music superstar who left his fiance at the altar 8 years prior who finds his way back to the same small town and trying to win back the heart of his ex as well as the daughter he never knew he had.  It’s a nice film and for a romantic film it’s pretty good.

9.) Black Panther

The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Black Panther continues the story of T’Challa, king of Wakanda and superhero Black Panther as he deals with ruling his people as well as dealing with the troubles that come from outside and inside.  I thought this was a really great film.  The humor in it was way better than the last MCU film Thor: Ragnarok because it wasn’t forced or wasn’t trying for humor every 5 minutes.  The action was great (another great job by director Ryan Coogler) and overall told a really great story.

 

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 23