TL;DR – The cast was terrific, the action was tight, and it was funny to boot.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid and post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to see this film
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review –
I walked into Shang-Chi with a little bit of trepidation. Marvel has not had a good track record when delving into this realm, with Iron Fist being the low point, but even Dr Strange didn’t get everything right. But this time, Marvel was not just dipping their toes into this genre. It was diving all the way in. Thankfully those trepidations were for nothing as they have nailed it.
So to set the scene, we open with the story of Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), who discovered a mystical set of ten rings. These rings gave him tremendous power and eternal life, and he used that to take control across the world, both actively and from the shadows. In 1996, he started his mission to claim the one realm he had not concurred, but his expedition to Ta Lo failed with him being the only one alive. At the gates to Ta Lo, he expected to find a guardian. He didn’t expect to find one that outclassed him in every way or that he would actually find love. He and Ying Li (Fala Chen) go home and start a family, but it ends in tragedy. In the modern-day, their son Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) goes by Shaun and works as a valet in San Francisco with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). It is a quiet life, right up until they get attacked on a bus by a bunch of goons sent by his father.
TL;DR – A film with a great cast, strong banter, engaging action, but the third act does not capitalise on all these.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to see this film.
Black Widow Review –
Back when Spider-Man: Far From Home came out in July 2019, I don’t think anyone knew just how long it would be before we got another Marvel film up on the big screen. Well, just over two years later, it is time to dive back into this world by going back to a time just after Civil War.
So to set the scene, we begin our film in the deep dark days of the far past, the 1990s. In Ohio, we are introduced to a completely average family, normal except for the fact that it is entirely manufactured and the father Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour) and mother Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) are Russian spies. They are here to steal secrets from SHIELD (well, HYDRA pretending to be SHIELD). One emergency flight to Cuba and the family is split up and forced into the Soviet machine. Years later, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is now on the run after Civil War, and it just so happens to be time for a family reunion.
TL;DR – The episode where we got on a fun Road-trip with Zemo [A sentence I never thought I would write]
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no End Credit Scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this episode.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Review –
One of the strengths of the MCU is that that it can fit its films and shows into several different genres and tones. The Captain America films have always felt like they fit into this more grounded spy world, and this week we get to see it spin off soar in the same territory.
So to set the scene, at the end of last week’s episode, The Star-Spangled Banner, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and Sam (Anthony Mackie) had reached a dead end. They have tried to track down the new terrorist organisation, but with no luck. Well, when you reach rock bottom, it is time to scrape that barrel and visit an old antagonist, Zemo (Daniel Brühl). He knows all about Hydra and its hidden places, so this would be a good idea … right? Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
TL;DR – We map out all the locations of the now concluded X-Men film series
With The New Mutants getting their cinematic release (finally), the entire X-Men film franchise has been brought to a close. Even though the last couple of films have not been stand out performers, this is still sad as this is twenty years of history coming to a close. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to continue to add to our Mapping Project by mapping out the franchise and its thirteen films.
Now when starting this project, I did have a view that this would be a generally straight forward task. I was wrong. This turned out to be much more complicated than I thought given to the ambiguity of some of the locations. At the same time, some like the Statue of Liberty are clearly straight forward. I spent hours trying to nail down the location of places like the Essex House for Mutant Rehabilitation.
With this in mind, I tried where possible to situate things using the locations given in the films, or when that was not possible using the original comics as a source. In some cases, neither of these options were available, so I put them in the most reasonable place I could find. In some cases, these were actually in conflict, and in that point, you have to pick one and move on.
TL;DR – In what might be the last major release of a Fox X-Men film, instead of going out with a bang, it goes out with a meh.
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
With Fox being bought by Disney we know that the current X-Men film franchise is going to be reaching its end sooner rather than later, and with the New Mutants film having a difficult production, there is a chance that this is the last time we will see these characters on the big screen. With that in mind, there are many words I have used to describe the X-Men films in the past. There have been the highs of X-2, Deadpool, and Logan. There have been the lows of X-Men Origins:Wolverine, The Last Stand, and Apocalypse. However, today I have a new descriptor for an X-men film, and unfortunately, that word is dull.
So to set the scene, we open with a young Jean Grey (Summer Fontana) back in the 1970s driving with her parents when tragedy strikes and she becomes an orphan. Back in the present day of 1992, the Space Shuttle Endeavour has been hit by a solar flare and the president (Brian d’Arcy James) has only one team he can call. Since the time of Apocalypse, mutants have come out of hiding and the X-Men have become almost celebrities, using their powers, to help save the day. While in space, they discover that it was not a solar flare, but some kind of entity. While Jean (Sophie Turner) is trying to keep the shuttle together, the entity attacks and is absorbed by her. Back on Earth, she seems fine, but slowly they find out that this is not the case because Charles (James McAvoy) did something to her back in the day and that secret just burst forth.
TL;DR – Today with the next
Avengers release imminent we take a look
at where on Earth we have visited during all of Phase One, Phase Two, and Phase
Endgame was released in cinemas, and well since I like maps and I like
the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I thought it would be interesting to update our
map out where the MCU has visited during its three phases from Iron Man in 2008 to Endgame in 2019. This means that there are some slight spoilers for
Endgame here, but only their locations which don’t really give anything away,
but if you are super cautious please be aware.
TL;DR – Now all together “Baaaaaaaar bar bar bup barrrrr, barr barrr, barrrrr bup bup barrr baaar bomp barrrrrrr, Baaaaaaaar bar bar bup barrrrr, barr barrr, ba dum, ba dum, ba dum, ba dum, Baaaaaaaar”
Score – 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit sequence and a hint at the end
Wow and here we are. Honestly, when I sat down to watch Iron Man in cinemas all the way back in 2008 I don’t think I really
comprehended just what it was that I was watching. I didn’t know it would spawn
a 20+ movie franchise that would take us into the past, into the deep reaches
of space, and create one of the biggest events in movie history. In many
respects, it feels like this is my generation’s Star Wars moment, and I have not seen queues like this to go see a
film in a long time. Well, today we take the plunge and see if they can work
out one of the biggest cliff-hangers in movie history and can this be a film
that gives closure to the films that came before it.
So to set the scene, at the end of Infinity
War the one thing they were trying to stop happening actually
happened, as Thanos (Josh Brolin) obtained all the infinity stones after
ripping the mind stone out of Vision’s (Paul Bettany) head and snapped his
fingers. All at once across the galaxy, 50% of everything turned to dust and we
had that gut-wrenching moment as everything literally fell apart in people’s
hands. Indeed Peter (Tom Holland) looking desperately at Tony (Robert Downey Jr)
pleading that ‘I don’t want to go” is
one of those moments that just stays with you and it stays with the cast.
Because as we start everything is in a bad place. Tony is trapped with Nebula (Karen
Gillan) on a ship running out of fuel, air, and food, and those Avengers that
survived are counting the losses on Earth where no one has been left
unaffected. However, one should never give up all hope, because you never know
when deliverance will come from an unlikely place, and then hope is lost again.
Now with today’s review, we will be doing something a little different. In this
review, we will be looking at all of the film so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead. This is for people
that have already seen the film and want to explore the ending of Endgame. If
you have not seen the film and would like to see a no spoiler discussion Endgame you can go HERE.
Also if you have already read the no spoiler review and want to skip to the discussion
on the ending, it is the chapter starting with the big [SPOILER WARNING] below.
Before we dive into the story and character aspects of the film, I want to
first take a moment to talk about the production side of things. In this film,
they have left nothing on the table when it comes to the lighting, production
design, and effects. That opening scene as Tony is sitting in the ship waiting
to die while bathed in a light blue light from the nearby stars was one of the
most beautiful lighting techniques I have seen in quite a while. This extends
throughout the entire film, with harsh contrasts at times, natural light in
places, relentless oppression in other places. Every part of the film is well
designed, even when they are using sets from the previous film, it has been
amended to make it feel right in the new context.
TL;DR – By finding a focus, Shazam! shows that DC can really make great films when they focus on something, in this case, the role of family.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid and post-credit scene
By now, I am sure you have heard about the issues with the DC Extended Universe,
in the race to get that big multi-film spanning Cinema Empire they jumped the
gun too early and rushed forward before finding out if people wanted what they
were giving. During its First Run,
there was only one film that was both a critical and commercial success, Wonder
Woman, this was because it had its own heart and was not just here to
push a cinematic universe, and it has something to say. Since then we have had Aquaman
that while not perfect was at least trying to do something interesting, and
today we get a look at the next film that found that fun is fine, but heart is more important.
So to set the scene, we open as a young Thad (Ethan Pugiotto) is on a car trip
with his unpleasant family in the 1970s when he is sucked into another realm
run by Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) the last of the council of wizards left. He is
trying to find someone pure of heart to be his successor, but alas Thad is not
the one. Fast forward to December 2018 when we find Billy Batson (Asher Angel)
helping the police out, but it a ruse to get into their computer because he is
trying to find his mum that he lost as a child. Well,
it didn’t work out and Billy is put with new foster parents Victor (Cooper
Andrews) and Rosa (Marta Milans), not that he plans to stay long. However,
everything changes when a subway trip leads him to a dark cave and he yells out
the word Shazam becoming someone completely else (Zachary Levi).
TL;DR – This is a more quiet character driven episode than pilot episodes of the past, but all that means is that the actors get a platform to shine.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Well, we are back to where it all started, the very first entry into the Marvel world on Netflix was the first season of Daredevil all the way back in 2015. For many people, me included, that the first season is still the high water mark for the Netflix project, so there is both a hope and a trepidation when you start that first episode. Also, it felt like just last week we got a new Iron Fist, and I am wondering is it all getting a bit too much. Well, today we explore if Daredevil Season Three can be the touchstone that it was.
TL;DR – a concise story, with strong action, and continues builds upon the world that has been created across the different boroughs of New York.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
After five seasons we have got there, the big team up in New York, as Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and the Iron Fist (Finn Jones) come together to battle The Hand. Now The Defenders was always planned out to happen, so in one respect it has had a smoother road to creation, but it has also been a rocky one at times.