Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Avengers: Endgame - reviewed. (the spoiler-free version)


Wow! Wow!! On so many levels.

Unlike some Star Wars movies, unlike The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, Avengers: Endgame is not disappointing in any way. There are maybe two very minor things I could pick at, but that's it. Maybe two minor things in an entire 3 hour movie.

Without giving spoilers, the most important thing I'd say is that nobody will be disappointed in this movie. You can't be disappointed if you liked any of the other Marvel movies ... at all.

Some characters got more screen time than others, so fans of one particular character may not be happy about that, but the movie made sense for every character that so there's just no legitimate complaining about it.

That's probably the most impressive thing about the movie: the writing.

Sure, visuals were great (though I think I was more impressed by Aquaman in that aspect). Sure, the fight scenes (one in particular) was amazing. Yeah, the music was spot on --- taking you on a rollercoaster ride throughout. The music leaves you feeling happy when you're supposed to feel happy, excited when you need to be excited and makes you dab your eyes a bit in certain parts (who knew that a superhero movie would tug at your emotions a bit?).

The best thing about it all was the writing though. Marvel spent over 10 years successfully developing two dozen characters who fans care about, relate to and cheer for.

There are so many small moments in Endgame that show such incredible attention to detail. Each character had a moment or moments to shine, to evolve or to give a nod to the incredible history that Marvel has created in the past 10 years.

At the same time, they definitely set up some characters for the future of Marvel movies. I think I can safely write that without spoiling anything. Nobody expected Marvel movies to end after Endgame, right? The future is in good hands.

It's not just the writing that was detailed either! Sometimes it was just a facial expression, a glance between characters or body language.

Black Widow and Captain America feel comfortable around each other because they've been teammates for the past half a dozen years. Hawkeye and Widow's friendship is continued. Captain America and Iron Man have some closure after the events in Civil War.

There were some moments that visually echoed other scenes in previous Avengers movies. Other times there were verbal references.

Marvel paid homage to several moments in Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers, they recall storylines from Age of Ultron and gave us closure to storylines from Captain America, Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok.

Avengers was the first time we'd seen such a big team-up movie. Civil War took it to another level. Infinity War said 'hold my beer' and took it even higher.

Some people have said that Endgame should win an Oscar (or Oscars). While that may be true, I'm not concerned with that. In a way, I'd prefer it doesn't. It seems a bit odd that a movie with a talking raccoon and a big, purple, evil alien would be an Oscar contender.

Why not just let this be the pop culture phenomenon, box office juggernaut and epic superhero movie that it is?

As for a star rating? Five stars, easily.


Related Content:
Captain Marvel - reviewed.
Bumblebee - reviewed.
Aquaman - reviewed.
The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.



Thursday, March 14, 2019

Captain Marvel - reviewed.

All the controversy about Captain Marvel. Who knew?

If you've been paying attention to Twitter and other forms of social media, you probably did know about it.

I heard bits and pieces a couple of weeks ago, but didn't bother to give it much research.

I did take a look at the reports. I guess actress Brie Larson said while she was on a press tour promoting the movie that she wanted more diversity (specifically women) in the reviewers who get to see movies early.

I can see why that may make some people upset. But then she clarified and said that she's not asking to take anyone's seat away from the table --- just asking for more to be added.

I don't see an issue with that. That's a good way to put it.

Then people tried to bomb the movie on Rotten Tomatoes, which caused the website to make some changes.

Ehh, it is what it is.

Let's get to the movie (no spoilers in this review).


First, I really liked the way the movie handled the flashback scenes. Most of the movie took place in current time (well ... it was set in the 90s, but 'current time' for the movie).

The flashbacks were intertwined very nicely.

Unlike Aquaman (which also handled flashbacks very well), this movie showed bits and pieces and quick flashes --- not really full-on flashback scenes.

Eventually there was a twist when we finally saw the full flashback. It was almost like a thriller with a twist (but not as intense).

The flashbacks helped distinguish between Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and her human identity of Carol Danvers.


Second, I liked seeing Agent Coulson and Fury (with both eyes) again. While Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Captain Marvel's buddy cop routine felt a little bit forced, their chemistry worked well enough.

Captain Marvel is odd. She's not your typical hero (male or female). She's almost like Thor was in the first Thor --- new to Earth. She's advanced enough, in many ways, to figure out technology, but she walks around in her space suit like it's no big deal.

 It's kind of a fish-out-of-water story with an almost robotic-like Captain Marvel wandering around Earth, looking for her shapeshifting foes.

It does provide for some humorous moments.

The cat -- Goose -- also added some levity to several scenes.


While there was humor in this movie, I don't think I laughed out loud once. I hadn't thought of that until just now. That's not to say that it's bad --- just not as funny as an Aquaman or Thor or Guardians of the Galaxy.


There was also drama in this movie. Carol's best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) brought out the emotions on a couple of scenes.

She seemed genuine in her tears and really made a regular moment in the movie stand out as being impactful.

On the opposite side of the coin, some of Marvel's interactions with Maria and her daughter Monica Rambeau (Akira Akbar) were cringeworthy to say the least.

Fury had a few cringeworthy moments as well.

The characters just didn't react the way a normal person would in a situation that involves aliens and space battles.

Maria correctly assesses that she should probably sit the space battle out so that she's there to take care of her young daughter.

Her daughter, Monica, says 'Mom, you're not being a very good role model for me' --- implying that she should go be brave and show her daughter that she can do anything.

I'm all for women's empowerment, but that's just stupid. Since when do you take your adulting cues from your 12-year-old?

You're the child's only parent. She has grandparents, so that's good. I'm not sure what the situation is with the father, but he's not part of her life.

So going into space to battle a group of aliens with possibly no way to return is good parenting? Inspiring, is it?

It wasn't inspiring. It was a little too cheesy.

There were Stargate SG-1 levels of hokey in some other scenes (like the dishwashing scene with Fury and Marvel).

I don't know that it was agenda-pushing, but it did feel a little 'try too hard' between the strong female hero, the release on International Women's Day and the attempted inspirational 'you can do anything' dialogue.

It felt a little forced, which is too bad because Captain Marvel is definitely an interesting character.


It's always interesting to see serious actors and actresses like Annette Bening in superhero movies.  Bening played Dr. Wendy Lawson.  She did a good job.

It still catches me off guard sometimes though.  I'm used to Masters of the Universe and Beast Master and Teenage Mutant Turtles: The Secret of the Ooze.  You didn't get a cast with big acting chops in those movies.

It shows how far we've come in the superhero genre when you can have Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Julie Andrews, Russell Crowe and other Oscar winners as regular parts of the cast.

Jude Law was also in this movie, playing Captain Marvel's Kree instructor: Yon-Rogg.


Visually, this movie was good. I accidentally purchased a 3D ticket, so it wasn't my usual viewing experience.

There weren't any moments where I thought 'that looks like too many computer graphics.'

The Skrull costuming could've been a little more realistic, I guess, but I can't complain about that too much.

I'm not sure that their characters will really stand out in the big picture, but they served their purpose for this particular movie.

I don't remember any of their names despite the fact that they were in the movie from almost the beginning all the way to the end, so the individual character development could've been a little bit better.

As a whole, the Skrulls were developed however.


Two fight scenes that stand out to me are when Marvel is captured on a Skrull ship near the beginning of the movie and a battle on Earth (on an above-ground train).




The final fight scene was a little bit anticlimactic for me.

Marvel utilizes her awesome powers, but I would've appreciated more struggle honestly. I don't think Thor or Thanos or Hulk have won battles with such ease.

And, I guess we may as well talk about one SPOILER from the mid-credit scene ... (scroll down for the spoiler)

















... keep going ...



















... almost there ...









... Captain Marvel wasn't destroyed by Thanos' snap of the fingers and she's joined the Avengers to help battle Thanos in Avengers Endgame (big surprise, huh?)

Overall, it was kind of what I expected. It was a Marvel movie (meaning it looked good, the production was on point, the script was good, the acting wasn't bad and there was a mix of comedy, drama and action).

Will it do well at the box office? It already is. I'm sure it will continue to do well.

I don't know where it will finish at the box office, but I don't think it will have the natural momentum that Aquaman or Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant-Man or Wonder Woman had.

Those were hits because fans loved the movies. This is a movie that will do well because it has all of Disney and Marvel's marketing and money behind it. It's expected to do big numbers.

It'd be a disappointment if it didn't.  I'm not a hater either.

When I went to see Black Panther on the first Saturday it was out, I caught a 9:30 or 9:45 am showing.  The theater was completely full.

I saw Captain Marvel on the first Friday it was out at 4 pm and there were maybe 12 people in the theater.

While this isn't a bad movie, it's not groundbreaking.  The positive and negative media coverage of Captain Marvel before it was even released will probably make it hard to judge the movie's actual success and footprint on the movie landscape (and superhero genre) until the end of the year.


Like I said in my Most Anticipated Movies of 2019 blog, it's not the movie I'm most excited to see this year.

In a year with Spider-Man: Homecoming, Dark Phoenix, Shazam, Avengers Endgame and a Joaquin Phoenix-led Joker, I think this will be a movie that I watched and enjoyed, but wasn't a favorite in the somewhat crowded superhero movie field.



Related Content:
Life of the Party - reviewed.
Bumblebee - reviewed.
Aquaman - reviewed.
The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

What should the qualifications be for a WWE Hall of Fame induction?

WWE's Hall of Fame has become one of the fans' favorite nights of the year.

Why wouldn't it be? You get to see legends and childhood heroes get the respect they deserve and hear some (hopefully) funny road stories.

There are some glaring omissions from WWE's Hall of Fame that hurt its credibility: Owen Hart, Vader, Davey Boy Smith, etc.

There have also been some questionable inductees that also hurt its credibility: Koko B. Ware, The Godfather and Rikishi.

It's understandable that each year, come Hall of Fame time, there will be debate amongst fans. Each group of fans is hoping their favorite gets the nod.

The inductions this year have caused some controversy as well. Chyna, for example, is being inducted. After the way Triple H's comments about Chyna on Stone Cold's podcast went viral a few years ago, seeing her name as a Hall of Fame inductee was a little surprising.

It was also a little shady -- giving Chyna an induction, but not a solo induction (like every other woman before her).

Instead, Chyna's induction is part of a group.

 Is that the only way Chyna is going to end up in the Hall of Fame? Possibly.

I don't know that I believe WWE intended to be shady, but the optics aren't great.

In a way it's actually fitting that Chyna is inducted alongside her fellow members of DX. Triple H is one of the biggest names in the business. The New Age Outlaws are one of the most decorated and celebrated tag teams in the business. And X-Pac is one of the best and most underrated workers there's been (especially for a smaller guy).

Then you have The Honky Tonk Man. He's never put on mat classics like Savage vs. Steamboat, but he is one of the longest reigning Intercontinental Champions of all time. He certainly lasted a long time in the industry. He was a solid mid-card character in the late '80s.

Who has caused the most controversy though? Torrie Wilson. Some of her fans are rightfully happy that she's being inducted. A lot of fans have been vocal about their opposition to this induction. The former 2-time Playboy cover girl is certainly easy on the eyes and was very popular at the time she was in WWE.

That being said, I, too, question her merits.


Does Torrie deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?

I started watching wrestling in 1997, so I remember Torrie's debut in WCW and the WWF. She provided some memorable segments over the years, but it was all entertainment / t&a / fluff stuff.

True, she did try to wrestle (and did eventually improve to the point of putting on a passable match), but does that equal a Hall of Fame induction?

True, she did become a C-list celebrity after leaving WWE (dating Alex Rodriguez and appearing on a reality show competition), but does that equal a Hall of Fame induction?

True, she was very welcoming to new girls in the locker room (by all accounts) and wasn't problematic, but does that equal a Hall of Fame induction?

True, she was the poster girl for WWE's Smackdown brand, but does that equal a Hall of Fame induction?

Friday, March 1, 2019

Hardee's Fruit Loop mini-donuts - reviewed.

Fruit Loops donuts?  Say what?!?

They first popped up last Fall at Hardee's for a limited time, but I guess that was a successful trial run because they're back.

I read that they were only available as a breakfast item, but the Hardee's I called and spoke to said they were available all day long -- at least at their location.

So I had myself a cheeseburger slider and 5 mini Fruit Loop-inspired and flavored donuts!

I have to say, they were all really good.

Now, apparently the 5 Fruit Loops colors -- red, green, yellow, blue and purple -- all taste the same in cereal form.

Maybe it's in my head, but I swear the different colored donuts each had their own, somewhat distinct taste.

For example, I thought the yellow had more of a lemon flavor than the other donuts.  The green colored donut had the traditional Fruit Loops taste, for sure.  It was kind of dry without as much frosting, though.

The frosting on the red donut wasn't amazing.

The frosting on the blue donut was OK, but the donut definitely had the instantly recognizable Fruit Loops flavor to it.

The purple donut was OK, but the flavor wasn't as strong with this one.  I don't know if  that's just happenstance or if the food coloring somehow impacted the taste.

I don't know that I'll rush out to purchase these again, but I love the idea behind it and the fact that they exist.  It's smart marketing.

I'm a fan of when different brands team up for a unique product, whether it's Yoplait and Dunkin' Donuts or Oreo and Swedish Fish.

While these donuts weren't the most amazing things I've ever eaten, I'd order them again if they brought them back again 6 months or a year down the road.


Monday, February 25, 2019

My dream Wrestlemania 35 card ... based in reality

Wrestlemania is just a few weeks away and it seems like it's going to be a lengthy show.

After the Royal Rumble's main show was approximately 5 hours, there's no way that Wrestlemania won't be just as long.

I'd like to see them place several matches on the pre-show (and start early so that the East Coast doesn't get done watching it at Midnight) so that it's not such a chore to sit through.

Anything over 5 hours and it's bordering leg cramps, people going home from viewing parties so they can get up for work the next day and losing interest.

So how would you book Wrestlemania?

To be honest there aren't a lot of matches I'm really looking forward to seeing.  There are some matches I'd like to see happen but I know they're not going to.

I have a dream card, but, realistically, it probably won't happen.  For example, I think this year would've been a great time to do The Undertaker vs. Shinsuke Nakamura.  I can say with 99.9% certainty that it's not going to happen.

So, when coming up with this, I tried to base most of the booking in reality.


The main card:

Raw Women's Title Match (Main Event):
Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch

This should be the main event.  Becky Lynch is at an all-time career high.  Ronda Rousey is a star.

Rumors are that Ronda Rousey is going to be taking time off to spend time with her husband and possibly become a mom.

There's no better time to let two women main event Wrestlemania than this.

WWE will likely keep Charlotte in that mix (making it a triple threat), but I'd let her sit this one out.  Let Ronda and Becky tell their story without that additional element.



WWE Universal Title Match:
Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar

I don't know if I'm excited for this or not.  I'd say give Rollins the win, but he's got some nagging injuries so maybe not?  Still, it's time for Brock to lose the title.  Seth is a safe babyface candidate to win the title and lead the Raw brand for a couple of months before losing the title to someone else.

Whoever wins, I expect it to be a 10 - 15 minute Brock Lesnar match.  I don't think there's much of a reason to spend more time on it than that.



WWE Heavyweight Title Match:
Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe

WWE just did an Elimination Chamber match with 6 competitors, but they've booked themselves into a corner here.  Unless they have several one-on-one matches without titles on the line (and they'd need to build up the feuds pretty quickly to make that happen), they're going to have to do a multi-man WWE Title match.

Give Kofi the shot since fans want it to happen.  Randy is reliable and seems to be entering a feud with Styles, so may as well throw them in there.  Rey and Samoa Joe are two good additional options.

You could put Jeff Hardy or Mustafa Ali in there too, but why rush Mustafa.  He could main event Summerslam if need be.  Wait on him a little bit.



Smackdown Women's Title Match
Asuka vs. Charlotte (the rematch)

Instead of inserting Charlotte into the Becky Lynch / Ronda Rousey match, I'd give her and Asuka a good amount of time to work another great match for the Smackdown Women's Title.  Asuka needs a win and the Smackdown Women's Title needs some credibility after all the focus has been on Raw's Women's Title.  A memorable match is just the thing to revive some interest on the blue brand.



4 Corner WWE Women's Tag Team Title Match:
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Nia Jax and Tamina vs. The IIconics vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville

I'd prefer Sasha and Bayley vs. one tag team from each brand:
 - Nia Jax and Tamina (good heel team from Raw)
 - The IIconics (from Smackdown)
 - Io Shirai and Kairi Sane (representing NXT)

You could remove Nia and Tamina to throw NXT UK's Toni Storm and Rhea Ripley (who are feuding) in for their brand, but Nia and Tamina are big and could probably take more of Io and Kairi's aerial offense.

I realize that the match I want to happen probably won't, so let's just make it a 4 corner bout with Mandy and Sonya in there instead of Io and Kairi.

I don't think I'd make a title switch just yet.

Save that for after Wrestlemania.



Cruiserweight Title Match:
Buddy Murphy vs. ???

I'm not sure who will end up facing Buddy Murphy.  WWE has done zero to get fans interested in 205 Live.  They just released a couple of their main roster guys, too.

I'd turn Murphy face (he's got the moveset to make it work) or at least make him a tweener and have him go up against Noam Dar.  Or maybe Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander in a triple threat.

The cruiserweights always get the short end of the stick so they'll probably end up on the pre-show, but I'd love to see them on the main card this year.



4 Corner WWE Tag Team Champions Match (no titles on the line):
The Usos vs. The Revival vs. The War Raiders vs. James Drake and Zack Gibson

Not sure how to get the tag team champions on the card, so I figured may as well do a champion vs. champion thing.  WWE actually has 4 sets of male tag team champions between all of their brands, so may as well throw them all out there to make it a little more interesting.

The Usos vs. The Revival would be a good match by itself too.



Shane McMahon vs. The Miz

I'm not interested in this feud.  I'm not interested in Shane McMahon wrestling (at the big shows or on weekly TV).  I know I'm stuck with it though.

Miz will turn on Shane before 'Mania and they'll have a big match there.

It's not that I don't like Shane.  I do.  It's that he's not a wrestler and he's taking up a spot that someone else could have.  This can be the one non-title match they have on the card.

Let's not give them 25 minutes for it though, huh?  15 is more than enough.



Intercontinental Title Match:
Finn Balor vs. Lashley (with Lio Rush)

Finn hasn't really had an interesting feud for most of 2018.  Going for a rematch here is easy but may as well do it.  Either that or Drew McIntyre vs. Finn vs. Lashley?  Or Drew vs. Finn?

Raw has a lot of guys who are floating right now --- ready to main event but not being given the opportunity to do so.  Braun, Drew, Lashley, Finn and even Elias could all be main eventing Raw each week.

Remember in 1999 when Mankind, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and The Big Show were all main event ready and could step up as a challenger on any given night?

WWE has that same kind of situation here.  The only difference is that Lesnar has the WWE Universal Title.

I'm a fan of the  guy, for sure.  But it's time to take it off of him and then let the new crop of guys emerge.

They can still use Brock at their big events.  He doesn't need the championship to be an attraction though.  He is an attraction all by himself.



Pre-show:

Women's Battle Royal (they should rename it the Chyna Memorial Battle Royal or the Sherri Martel Memorial Battle Royal)

Not much to say about this one.  It gets the other women on the card.  Naomi could win it two years in a row.

If WWE is going with Charlotte vs. Becky vs. Ronda, then put Asuka's title on the line, put this on the main card and let her dominate the thing.

If Asuka is not involved in this match, then it's a pre-show match.


Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Put Braun in this match and let him destroy everyone.  I'm talking 12+ eliminations.
WWE needs to build him up as a monster again.  This would at least be a step in the right direction.


Related Content:
Who could, should, won't and shouldn't show up at WWE's 2019 men's Royal Rumble?
Who could, should, won't and shouldn't show up at WWE's 2nd women's Royal Rumble?