Wrap Up : The Punisher

When you think about The Punisher, you probably think about a gun toting, skull vest wearing, everyone killing, shootemup action type movie or series….what we got however, is so much more. We have now gotten the full compliment of Marvel Netflix character series, and the one thing they all have in common, is that when they work best, they work because they go the route of character study. And thats what The Punisher is, its a 13 episode character study, on Frank Castle, and what it takes to forge such a man. This series accomplishes this, by giving us multiple characters that are pulled from the same crucible, and giving them time and space to see how each reacts, and why. If what you wanted from The Punisher was 13 hours of full auto weapons and head shots, go watch Punisher War Zone like 6 times in a row. If you just like really good content, keep reading.

The Punisher is a real thoughtful series (never thought I’d say that), and its one of the series I think actually benefitted from the 13 episode run, unlike some that should have been cut to 8 or 10. This full 13 hours also gives the time these characters need to become fully developed, and thats really the thing that makes this so good. Both Frank, and other characters like Micro are given time to develop, but more importantly, the villains (yes plural) are given just as much time to be fully fleshed out and allow them to have meaningful motivation and an actually dangerous skillset. All of this means we really care about what happens to who and when. There are some characters here that I don’t really care for, but the show did definitely do a great job of having those characters grow on me, so even if I still didn’t like them by the end, I at least had some more respect for them and their motivations.

There is action here though, I mean there had to be, and its the kind of real and gritty, hands in the mud kind of action I wanted and expected. Frank is just a man of course, and its nice that even though he might be better than his foes, he still is only capable of the things a human can do, and he’s made to bleed. There are some scenes further down the series that I can describe only as “graphic”, so if thats an issue, just be on the look out. This series also does really really well to give the punisher his own little world, and the rules of that world make sense and things happen as a result of other things in a way that also makes sense. That does make the punisher feel at least like the most insulated of the Marvel Netflix shows, and we do get some cross over character work, but really only because of previous character building from Daredevil season 2. Its nice that they didn’t force more cross over, but it would have been nice to have some more nods maybe to the larger Netlfix universe this series finds itself in.

The Punisher is definitely not what I expected it to be. To get all these themes that come with war and being a soldier and ptsd and the works, wrapped so nicely and intricately around a comic book character is really a nice surprise. Jon Bernthal gives us such a layered, damaged and complex character that he will definitely become the embodiment of what people expect from this character going forward. His supporting cast does a great job here also, and I’m sure much praise has to go the writing of this show, for giving these characters so much room to grow, and the time to do it. I think I would rank The Punisher currently as my second favourite of all the Marvel Netflix shows, and I can’t wait to hear about season 2.

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Review : Justice League

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“Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.”

So, this movie, and its production has gone through a lot. Family tragedy that caused director Zack Snyder to have to take a leave from the production, the entry of Joss Whedon to finish the film, a cgi top lip fiasco, studio interference in many ways and much more. I say all that because going into this movie, I had the mindset of, if this movie is good I’d be genuinely impressed that they were able to pull all of this together. And there is a lot that they were able to pull off, and some they weren’t. To start, this movie doesn’t feel like its directed by two directors, but it does feel like it was edited by committee, and thats a bit of an issue. Joss Whedon has a writing credit on this movie, so he definitely had to have re-written at least a third of the movie, and it shows in the dialogue that sticks out, and more things at the end of the movie, where I think most of the re-shoot changes really occur. Man of Steel, BvS, Suicide Squad, you can say what you want about these movies, one thing you can’t say, is that they’re not bold, because they are, and this movie loses that boldness in favour of a more “tame” version of what we’ve gotten before. Now thats definitely going to add a lot of mass appeal to the movie, but it might lose it much of its deeper credibility. All of that is not to say that this movie isn’t entertaining, it certainly is, and there are so many surprise and stand out moments that leap straight off the page and give you that incredible I never thought I’d see that in a movie feeling, but I still would have liked to have seen those moments through the bold lens of the movies before it. They are some plot holes for sure, and there is another villain who’s motivations are sort of lost on us, there’s the lip, but despite all of that, there is so much here that we know and love from these characters, and that’s where the movie shines brightest. You can say what you want about Zack Snyder, but the man has style, and he definitely has an eye for casting, and this team is casted very well. The surprise stand out of these is actually Cyborg, his portrayal of the character and his exploration into being part man and part machine was fantastic. The movie does run at a bit of a break neck pace, but it was literally mandated to be under two hours (its like one minute less), and the solution they went with was clearly to cut some of the more subtle character building moments, especially some of which were teased in trailers. Also I must say, the score for this movie is done by Danny Elfman, and he’s certainly a great composer, but his work seems so Saturday morning cartoonish when compared to what we got before from the likes of Junkie XL, that it really fell flat for me. They also made some kind of different version of the Wonder Woman theme (Is she with you? from BvS), and that was a real bummer for me as I was just waiting for it to come blasting on in her opening action scene. His score does definitely bring up some good ole nostalgia, but do we really need to keep going back to certain wells? All in all it might seem like I’m being really down on this movie, and I’m really not. Just like I had said in review for Thor Ragnorok, the movie sacrifices some substance for style (in this case that boldness and real grit of the previous movies), but I can’t for one second say that I wasn’t entertained, or that the things that were done right, weren’t really exciting to see. Justice League feels like a step in a different direction than maybe I personally wished they had gone with the franchise as a whole, but the movie does deliver a lot of the things I wanted from a movie like this. And maybe one day I’ll get to see all those cut scenes. (Also just as a side note, I’m not a huge fan of the new super suit, liked the darker one more).

Review Score : 7 out of 10

Also I feel like I have to address it, this movie does make some less than progressive choices with female characters. They don’t come off so egregious as you might think, but they are definitely there, and they are definitely distinct choices. I know many people are trying to blame Snyder for this, and he probably has to take the blame for the more glammed up look of the Amazons, when compared to the Wonder Woman movie, but the impactful moments of this I thought were in moments of dialogue and character decisions, all of which I’m willing to bet were down the re-writes and re-shoots from Whedon. I wish Zack was able to give us his unblemished version of this movie, and we might never know what and who changed what, but I think its at least comforting to know that a lot of those issues that arose, were fought against by the cast and crew, and maybe going forward these kinds of issues can become less and less, as we can not have to talk about them at all one day.

Review : Thor Ragnarok


“Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.”

First of all, I must say how continually impressed I am with Marvels ability to keep a lot of the reveals in their movies a secret, and just how much money they are clearly willing to spend to keep them secret. I won’t spoil any of them here, but let’s just say, they paid probably millions of dollars to allow things to be in the trailer, but not in their final forms. The second thing I want to address is the MCU debut of Taika Waititi, who comes in bringing his personal brand and style of movie making, that both fit and doesn’t fit in the MCU. Prior to Ragnarok, Thor had been, and had been used as the MCU’s Shakespearean elements. This iteration of the character however, is so much more comedic and light hearted, that even thought a lot of previous incidental humor is used here, the characters themselves take themselves so much less seriously. This movie is a blast though, and from its opening, which might be one of the best opening scenes in any comic book movie, to its rip roaring end, Ragnarok is an action adventure roller coaster of laughs. They’re so many new characters here, and there’s also a bit of character house cleaning, that would streamline the Thor household going forward. The biggest stand out of all of these though, is Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, and her final outfit is honestly some of the most stunning costuming I’ve ever seen. Her character ads both depth to the Thor mythos, while also adding a strong female of colour that we don’t get too much off in these kinds of movies. She also allows for one of the best scenes in the entire movie, and I’d probably cosplay as her if I wouldn’t have to shave my beard off. The new look, new attitude Thor here is also really good, as Chris Hemsworth as an actor has great comedic timing, and being able to flex those muscles a bit was very entertaining. Like most all MCU movies, this one also has some villain problems, and while Cate Blanchett brings an amazing presence and gravitas to Hela, the conseit of making her character the way it was, meant there couldn’t truly be a satisfying conclusion for her storyline. The movie itself does sacrifice some of the substance of other MCU movies, but it definitely sacrificed it for entertainment, and a mass appeal this franchise never was able to attain. Scoring this movie by itself , and as a part of the MCU, are two different things, and that’s maybe the only plaice this movie truly falls down. All in all, Thor Ragnarok is the most fun you’re going to have in a cinema for a while, it just doesn’t reach as deep down as some of the movies we praise as the absolute best of the MCU.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Review : Kingsman – The Golden Circle


“When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.”

Kingsman the golden circle, or just Kingsman 2, tells the continued story of unrefined youth turned super spy Eggsy, in a brand new story. Everything about Kingsman 2 is meant to be bigger and better. More action, more stunts, more fights, more guns, more everything. For the most part we do get all the “more”, but we could have done with a touch of the “less” also. The Kingsman sequel definitely makes some sacrifices for the sake of bigger and better, but in that we do lose a little of the soul that made the first movie so memorable. Bringing in their American counterparts in the Statesmen, the movie basically doubles its cast of over the top, but super charismatic spies, and allows for an entire new style to be used to great effect. All the great action you would expect is all here, where the movie falters, in its character development. All these new characters have their times to shine, but that spreading of the spot light, does mean less time to dive a bit deeper. I also feel like this movie made some choices in an attempt the deepen our emotional connections with characters, but served only to take some of the best characters out, most like in preparing for third and likely final entry in the Kingsman saga. Just like the original movie, this movie is certainly over the top, and doesn’t shy away from pointing the camera directly at the lesser flattering areas sometimes, and in some cases, some might find it goes too far. The new additions to the cast are also all fantastic, and do a great job to build out the world, as well as allow for some interesting match ups going forward. All in all, Kingsman 2 is every bit the over the top action movie you would expect it to be, it just lacks a bit of the deeper soul that made the first movie one of the best movies of 2014.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Review : Atomic Blonde


“An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.”

Atomic Blonde comes to us from one of the co directors of the popular John Wick movie in David Leitch, who had previously made his name and career of off doing stunt work, a credit which spoke greatly to the kind of movie John Wick was. He directors however separated with one going on to make John Wick 2, and the other Atomic Blonde. There are many similarities between the two, but Leitch does well to distinguish himself from the gun toting Wick in a few ways. Firstly, his visual style is ramped up even more here, and it fits perfectly with this graphic novel adaptation, giving it a real gritty and washed out aesthetic, except when he wants to be colourful, at which point he gives us blinding neons and super saturations that screen comic book page. Then there’s the action, which is surprising another place this movie separates itself from Wick. It uses minimal guns, and opts for a real brawler style hand to hand combat, that’s extremely satisfying to watch. They do a great job of illustrating the difficulty in a woman of Theron’s size having to fight men twice her size, and the double duty she must employ to escape. This movie also takes itself more down the mystery, espionage route with its story, giving the movie some nice breathing points to try and string the story along, and keep up the intrigue. All of this coupled with a pulse pounding synthetic score, and the biggest European hits of the late eighties, this movie has a real flare and style to it that’s hard to ignore. There are some small issues yes, and it doesn’t deliver quite the action level of some of its competitors, but with what it has already, it’s impressive cast of supporting characters and actors, and flare for the over the top, Atomic Blonde is a real sexy, fun, hard hitting ride, that doesn’t pull its punches, and is most definitely worth seeing on a big screen (with a big sound system).

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Review : Wonder Woman

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“Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.”

So just for full disclosure, I’ve had Wonder Woman’s theme as my phone ring tone, for like a year now, needless to say I have been nothing but super hyped waiting for this movie, and my expectations were super high. All that being said, this movie is pretty awesome. Gal Gadot, is honestly the greatest incarnation of the character we have ever gotten, and she brings everything to the role. She’s absolutely stunning, she brings the physicality, and she does excellent at playing both the strong, soft, and funny moments. However, she does have some help in here in a fantastically played secondary character in Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor. The two had a great chemistry and they played extremely well off of each other, especially in the softer more quiet moments in here. And even for all the great action in here, a lot of the best scene are honestly these soft, quiet, and subtle scenes between Chris and Gal (and some others with the other supporting cast). Like I said before though, the action in this movie is here, and its very well done. The film itself is also absolutely stunning when it needs and wants to be, doing a great job at juxtaposing the colour and vibrance of places like Themyscira, against the drab and dull world of man and of war. Wonder Woman is truly a film firing on all cylinders here, from acting, to action, and everything in-between. All in all, I think this movie will be a bit of a game changer, and come Monday, will likely be the most successful female directed and lead film we’ve ever seen. Go see it right now!

Review Score : 9 out of 10

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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“Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.”

Guardians 2 takes us back to the most unique corner of the Marvel cinematic universe, and it does so with some style. This movie is very much like the movie before it, but its also somewhat of the complete opposite to the previous film. What I mean by that, is that Guardians 2 takes the team and the story line to a place where the first movie never went as far as character development, and the relationships between them. The movie here while it tells also a smaller story, it still tells one that has universal consequences. All the main characters are back here, plus some new team members that add a surprising amount of heart and life to the team, and movie, that could have felt a little flat in parts if we only had the original cast here. This is also most certainly the most isolated of all the Marvel movies, especially with the story told in this second movie, which is good and bad. On the one hand, it does help keep the story trim and tight, but it also makes the movie devoid of that extra spark that playing off of all the previous movies in the universe brings. All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, brings us another great soundtrack, some truly special and spectacular visual effects, and a real sense of family, but something about just seems to lack that little bit extra that the first movie had. Also, there are like 5 after/post/mid/during credit scenes here, so sit back relax and enjoy that.

Review Score: 7.5 out of 10