Throwback Thursday: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

The truth about life is that it is complicated. We are often juggling multiple things at the same time, making decisions as to what is important and what can be put aside for the moment.

Spider-Man 2 (2004) is the sequel to the 2002 film, Spider-man. Since we last saw Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) has dealt with a series of personal disasters. While continuously saving the world, his grades are falling fast, he cannot keep a job and he is being attacked in the press as a criminal. On top of all that, Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is no more.

All signals are pointing to the end of his career as a superhero. Then an accident turns Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) into the villainous Doc Ock. Instead of putting his mask away for good, Peter has no choice but to do his thing and stop Doc Ock before he destroys the city.

This one is not bad. The narrative flows nicely from the previous movie, creating more trouble for our leading man. Moving from adolescence to early adulthood, Peter is learning how to keep several figurative plates spinning in the air at the same. The problem with this is that one or more of these plates will eventually fall to the ground and crack into pieces.

My problem with his movie is the usual issue. The women in this film are constrained to the love interest/damsel in distress/spouse and maternal figures, not giving them room to stand on their own two feet.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Throwback Thursday: Thor (2011)

It has been said that pride goes before a fall.

In the 2011 film, Thor, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), is the firstborn son of Odin and Frigga (Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo). The heir to the throne of Asgard, he thinks that he can do no wrong. When his arrogance gets him into trouble, Odin sends Thor to Earth (Midgard). Falling for scientist Dr. Jane Porter (Natalie Portman), he has to learn humility while saving both realms from his vengeful younger brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

This movie is so good. It’s funny, it’s charming and entertaining, and Hemsworth is the perfect actor to play the role. Hiddleston, as usual, is spot on and proves once more why he is one of the best actors around today. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the Shakespearean influence is subtle, yet powerful.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

P.S. Who else is excited for Thor: Love and Thunder. I know I am.

Chris Hemsworth Thor GIF by Marvel Studios - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Eternals Movie Review

*This review is strictly based on the movie as I have never read the comic books.

It would be easy to categorize a superhero movie based on a comic book as all action and no heart. But without that heart, it is nothing but a series of fights between the heroes and the villains.

The Eternals hit theaters a few weeks ago. This latest film adaptation from Marvel Comics tells the story of a group of otherwordly beings whose job it is to protect and nuture humanity. The big bad are deviants, creatures who are not selective about who and what they kill. After thousands of years, these alien superheroes have blended into the world around them, looking no different than you or I.

When their leader, Ajak (Salma Hayek) is killed by a deviant, Sersi (Gemma Chan) takes her place and does her best to bring the team back together. But when the secret about the true nature of their mission is revealed, it creates conflict between Sersi, Ikarus (Richard Madden), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), and the rest of the Eternals.

The film clocks in about 2 1/2 hours. Thankfully, it does not feel that long. What I think makes it well done is that the narrative is not just about physical entaglments between the antagonists and the protaganists. There is heart, there is humor, and the message about what it is to be human is threaded throughout the story.

Much has been naturally made about the diversity of the cast. Personally, I think it’s a long time coming. Though I loved Avengers: Endgame, the reality is that the majority of the lead characters are white and male. One could argue that the one scene that all of the female superheroes come together is merely lip service instead of naturally giving these women the spotlight beyond the traditional female narratives.

Including an LGBTQ character, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), and a deaf character, Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), was a nice addition. It proved that this world can be open to a wider range of types of people, if only given the chance.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Eternals is presently in theaters.

Flashback Friday: Doctor Strange (2016)

It has been said that when we enjoy our jobs, it does not feel like work. But that does not mean that we cannot get cocky.

In the 2016 MCU film, Doctor Strange (based on the comic book of the same name), Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a respected and egotistical New York City surgeon. After a debilitating car accident, he goes on a journey to seek out dimensions and ideas that go beyond the boundaries that humanity has created. Along the way, he becomes a hero, saving the world from Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen).

I enjoyed this movie. I have not read the comic book, so I cannot speak to what may have been altered from the source material. What I did like was this version of the hero’s journey, the main character lives both within the world of superhero’s and the everyday person, who is flawed and fallible.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

What’s Your Favorite Black Panther Moment? — Annlyel Online

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the news. Chadwick Boseman, after battling colon cancer for four years, has tragically passed at the young age of 43. To commemorate his most iconic role as Black Panther I’m making him the topic of this week’s Who’s Your Favorite? Enjoy! Black Panther’s Reveal Captain America: Civil War was […]

What’s Your Favorite Black Panther Moment? — Annlyel Online

Throwback Thursday: Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

When a book (whether it is a traditional book or a comic book) is transferred to the big or small screen, it has to be much more than a soulless copy. Whatever qualities made the book successful, those qualities must be transferred to live action adaptation.

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer hit theaters in 2007. The sequel to Fantastic Four (2005), the film adds to the world of this narrative by introducing the characters and the audience to the Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fisburne and physically played by Doug Jones). Sent by Galactus, the Surfer arrives on Earth to warn of it’s residence of his master’s impending arrival and our destruction. It is up to the Fantastic Four to save the day and ensure that the planet remains intact.

Though it is slightly better than it’s predecessor, this is far from the best comic book movie ever made. Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is the type of film one watches on a lazy weekend afternoon when you need to something, but don’t want to leave the house.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward maybe with a possibility of a no.

The Old Guard Movie Review

Comic books/graphic novels are not just juvenile forms of literature. They have a way of introducing audiences to new concepts and new characters that might not exist in traditional literature.

The Old Guard premiered last night on Netflix. Based on the comic book by Greg Rucka, the movie tells the story of a group of immortal warriors. Led by Andromeda/Andy (Charlize Theron), they have remained in the shadows for thousands of years. Their cover is nearly blown by the newest member of the group, Nile (Kiki Layne). While they are dealing with the newbie, Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is eager to learn how these warriors have maintained their immortality.

Before I saw the movie, I had not heard of The Old Guard. My review is solely based on the movie.

As a female viewer, this is my ideal narrative. Andy is not the traditional female character, especially for this genre. She is clearly in charge, but is also empathetic. She is additionally, also not straddled with the standard romantic/damsel in distress narrative that are forced upon female characters.

I also appreciated the diversity in the casting choices. I wish that more creative teams would be color and gender blind, choosing the performer solely on their performance and not on their physical appearance.

That being said, the movie was merely ok. It was somewhere in between underwhelming and not a bad way to spend two hours of my movie watching time.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

The Old Guard is available for streaming on Netflix.

My Favorite Movies of 2019

Going to the movies is sometimes akin to stepping onto a roller coaster. Sometimes you love the film your seeking. Sometimes you hate it.

My favorite movies of 2019 are as follows:

  1. The Farewell: The Farewell is my favorite movie of the year because it is heartfelt, genuine and thoroughly human. In the lead role, Awkwafina proves that she can play much more than the comic relief.
  2. Avengers: Endgame: If there was a perfect way to end a film series, this film is it. Balancing both action and narrative, this thrill ride is pure perfection.
  3. Judy: Renee Zellweger is an absolute shoe-in for the Oscars as the late film icon Judy Garland. Disappearing in the role, she tells the true story of the final years of Garland’s life.
  4. Downton Abbey: Transferring a popular television show to the big screen is often easier said than done. The Downton Abbey movie is the perfect film bookend to this beloved television program.
  5. Harriet: This biopic of Harriet Tubman is nothing short of tremendous. In the lead role, Cynthia Erivo is Harriet Tubman.
  6. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: This final entry in the Skywalker saga is not perfect, but it ends with both a nod to the past and an open door to the future.
  7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The late Fred Rogers was more than a milquetoast children’s TV host. He taught generations of children in ways that go beyond the classroom. Inhabiting the role of Mister Rogers is Tom Hanks, who reminds viewers why we loved him.
  8. Joker: In this re imagined world from that Batman universe, Joaquin Phoenix adds new layers to this iconic character while talking frankly about mental illness.
  9. The Song of Names: Based on the book of the same name, the film follows a man who is trying to discover the secrets of a missing childhood friend.
  10. Frozen II: This sequel to the mega-hit Frozen was well worth the six year wait. Instead of doing a slap-dash direct to video type sequel, the filmmakers expanded this world in new ways, making the story even more relevant.

This will be my last post for 2019. Wherever you are, thank you for reading this year. May 2020 be bright and hopeful.

What Took So Long For the Black Widow Movie to be Made?

For the last ten years, movie fans have come to expect a new Avengers film every year or so. All of the major male heroes (with the exception of Hawkeye) have had at least one stand-alone film over the course of those ten years.

For most of the franchise, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) was the only woman on the team. Up until very recently, she was also without a stand-alone film of her own. The trailer was released earlier this week for Black Widow.

The movie looks fantastic. The supporting cast (Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour) looks equally fantastic. But I have to question why it took so long for Marvel to greenlight a Black Widow film?

It feels like an afterthought. Its as if Marvel is trying to stretch the franchise as far as it can go instead of following the natural narrative. This film feels like it is akin to a child giving in to the pressure from their parents to eat their vegetables. I wish it was not this way, but this is the reality that we live. Women still have to fight for the opportunities that come naturally to men.

This movie is on my must-see list for 2020. But being that it will not be released for another 6 months, we can only speculate about this film. My hope is that it does well and finally breaks the glass ceiling on female superhero films once and for all.

Avengers: Endgame Review

Note: This review will be as spoiler free as possible.

The final film in any film series should pack an emotional punch, ramp up the drama and end with the feeling that the audience has seen everything that they need to see.

After months of buildup and expectation, Avengers Endgame premiered this weekend.

Starting off where Avengers: Infinity War ended, the film begins with a feeling of grief. After their numbers of have been decimated by Thanos (Josh Brolin), the surviving Avengers are not themselves. The loss of their friends and colleagues has cast a pall over the team. But Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) may have the resolution to their problem. But the plan is dangerous and has the possibility to not be completed as expected.

Can Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/ The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and  Scott Lang/Ant-Man bring back the lost Avengers or are they doomed for failure?

If there any definitive comic book super hero movie, Avengers: Endgame is it. Despite it’s 3 hour-ish run, it is not boring, predictable or has the feeling that some scenes could have been left for the extras section of the DVD. It has plenty humor, heart pounding action, feels emotionally authentic and has an ending that feels just perfect.

I also loved that the female Avengers were given just as much screen time and ability to kick ass as their male counterparts.

I absolutely recommend it. I also absolutely recommend that you use the bathroom before going into the theater. Trust me, you do not want to miss a moment of this film.

Avengers: Endgame is presently in theaters. 

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