Solo: A Star Wars Story, A review with the spoilers that you deserve! By Case Wright


 

GO SEE THIS MOVIE! I don’t remember when Star Wars came out, but I do remember when Empire did and I loved it.  Yes, there were some deeper themes to these movies, but at their heart they were fun like a beach read.  We, the fans, have made these films into something they never were serious think pieces.  I just saw a youtube video where a guy was trying to describe the “correct” routes Han would have to take through the Kessel Run. Give it a rest!

This movie did what the last 6 have failed to do: Entertain.  Rogue One was a melancholy piece of trash about sending an email on a vhs tape.  BORING.  The rest are mind-numbingly painful experiences that are determined to take themselves so seriously that I have had more fun reviewing license agreements for my latest Turbo Tax software.  I really don’t care about Rey or the Ugly Gloomy Kid Kylo Ren who failed to get any of Han’s good looks.  If I were Han, I would have called up Maury Povich about that kid.

This movie did what it was supposed to do first: entertain.  It’s like the other movies never bothered to put that basic principle into the writers’ room.  Ron Howard really did a great job with the film and Alden Ehrenreich really succeeded in capturing a pre-cynical, but still cocky Han.  It could be that I also liked this story because Han reminds me the most of myself: edgy, cocky, wise-cracking, iconoclast, with devastating good looks.

The story even opens uniquely without any moody sad bullshit. Instead, it opens with some text, the title card, and Han driving away fast and furious, and a bit bloodied.  There’s no everyone’s perfect and noble blah blah blah.  Within 30 minutes, you are transported to a high-stakes futuristic train robbery that if it had a couple tumbleweeds and player piano, it would have been a great Western.

Han begins his quest because he loses his love Emilia Clarke.  Han between you and me: you gotta lock that down.  Other than Emilia, everyone else in the universe is gross and scaly even pretty people make ugly kids (see above) there must be radiation in this galaxy far far away or some such shit.  Han figures that if he does enough smuggling and heists he’ll get enough cash, to buy a ship and get Emilia Clarke out of the hellhole from whence she came. It doesn’t quite work out the way he plans, but you see a great character arc as Han become more cynical and savvy as the rogue we will eventually love.

As he is going on his big heist, we watch his friendship develop with Chewy, Lando, and most of all the Millenium Falcon which comes across as a character herself.  Most of the critics who have done middling reviews seem to focus on the box office, but unless you’re a shareholder of Newscorp or an accountant at 20th Century fox, why do you care?!  Another bizarre critique is that it’s too fun or not melancholy enough as Rogue One.  Okay, I have solution for the people who don’t think this amazingly well-done feature isn’t sad enough for them:  Go see this film, then shortly thereafter do a search for political twitter and then click show threads or just look up one of your hollywood heroes and count the indictments.

 

 

Altered Carbon, Book Review by Case Wright


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I grew up loving pulpy detective stories of the 40s.  Sam Spade and The Thin Man were my heroes from another time.  They dealt in visceral reality and tarnished ideals, but still meted justice to the deserving.  However, because of the mores of the time period, the more explicit side could only be implied.

“Altered Carbon” takes the Gumshoe genre mixes in the concept of a Ronin (A Japanese samurai who no longer has a liege lord and becomes a sword for hire), has the mystery take place hundreds of years in the future, but still keeps the setting of the Rainy City (Seattle, My Home) and Bay City (Future San Francisco).  What results is greatest pulp detective story that I have ever read.  The story touches upon issues of morality and our technology stripping us naked of our humanity.

In the future, we are able to download our memories onto flash drives and re-upload them into “Sleeves” (bodies grown or bought).  Crime is punished by you losing your body and putting your consciousness on a server where it will remain for as long as 200+ years, making you return to a body not your own and family scattered in time.  We have colonized worlds throughout the galaxy and corporations and the super rich rule us all.  The wealthy are able to have unlimited bodies to download into, giving them immortality and total perversion.

Takeshi Kovac is taken out of storage by an extremely wealthy man – Lorenz Bancroft- who is over 300 years old because he wants to find out who murdered him.  I’m going to be cautious about spoiling anything in this excellent book, but I will tease some more as to why it should be read.

Kovac was chosen because he a former “Envoy” (hyper-trained marine of the future).  He searches through brothels both high and low end to solve the murder.  He battles pimps, robots, enhanced humans, and virtual torture.  Be warned, it has the steamiest sex scenes I have ever read in my entire life.  If sex, violence, and mystery doesn’t interest, keep browsing, but you’re making a mistake.

RAMPAGE – Review by Case Wright, ALT Title – The Video Game Movie Curse Is Broken by Dwayne’s Awesome Arms!


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I thoroughly enjoyed this film!! Why? Because it’s a Dwayne Johnson movie.  He’s an actor, a brand, and you know what you’re going to get.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Did it have a couple of slow moments?  Yep.  Were the characters, especially the villains, one dimensional or 8-Bit?  Sure.  But, so what? Rampage is fun and sometimes it’s great to take a bath in nostalgia and see some shit blow up.

A Dwayne Johnson movie is really a sub-genre all its very own.  I won’t compare it to other movies.  His movies are also fun because we just like Dwayne Johnson so much as a Man that we feel like he’s a friend.  It becomes reflexive that we hear Dwayne Johnson has a movie out, it’s as if one of our friends just made one.  I told a guy at work that I was going to see a Dwayne Johnson movie, he knew exactly what I meant, and he referred to Dwayne Johnson as a National Treasure.  Yes, we’re now getting married in the fall and are registered at Pottery Barn.

I played Rampage when I was a wee bairn.  In fact, with the help of my friend Robbie, we stayed up all night and destroyed the whole country. Congratulations! I, like every boy in the Y-Generation, was excited for this film.  Sidenote: sorry everyone, Millenials are no more, you’ve been folded into Y, but take heart – “Even children get older, I’m gettin older …too.”

An Evil Corporation, run ostensibly by Ivanka Trump and her Generic Trump brother, create a virus that mutate ordinary animals into genetically spliced super-creatures that run amok.  That’s it- that’s the plot- and like the video game upon which it was based, Rampage the Film is beautifully Wabi Sabi.

The film begins with The Rock who is closed off from people because after seeing their terrible acts in war and poaching, he just can’t let them in. *sniff*  The Rock’s best friend is George- an albino gorilla- who can sign.  Soon, the Trump family look alikes’ experiment accidentally infects George, a wolf, a crocodile, and a partridge in a pear tree. The Partridge Monster doesn’t actually destroy anything, but he blatantly re-gifts Christmas presents; therefore, he’s the worst monster of all because he destroys your self-esteem.

George, the wolf, and crocodile get BIGGER, the government – embodied by Jeffrey Dean Morgan- try to stop the monsters, but can’t.  Jeffrey becomes an ally of The Rock, helping him along the way with helicopter keys, air strikes, and lending him his edger so The Rock can really make his lawn POP for barbecue season.  The Trumps put out a signal to draw the monsters to Chicago, hoping they’ll kill each other off.  The Trumps hope that they’ll be able to take a sample of the monster flesh, replicate it, and sell it to whomever.  It doesn’t go well.  The monsters go nuts.  I’m not going to spoil anything.  Needless to say, the last 40 minutes of the film are amazingly satisfying.

Congratulations! Dwayne you’ve done it! The Video Game Curse is Broken.

 

Love, Simon – A Review. This Film is a MUST SEE!!!! Rating – A+!


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“Love, Simon” sometimes films make you exhilarated, cry, and hope because the hero is in physical peril; “Love, Simon” makes you feel those emotions through the agonizingly painful awkwardness of being a teenager and on top of that being gay.   The film has importance as having the first gay lead protagonist in a rom-com.  It’s directed by Greg Berlanti who created the best show I love to watch with dudes getting killed with arrows.

However, without a great story, you’ve got nothing. Simon, luckily, is all of us.  He’s handsome, but is painfully awkward.  This is evident in the first five-minutes when he approaches a handsome landscaper and fumbles all over himself.  These cringeworthy teenage moments happen over and over- just like high school terrible moments.

He’s young, but with a very adult secret and he doesn’t know if his friends today would be his friends tomorrow, if they knew he were gay.  That just sucks.  I don’t normally do this, but I want any readers out there to know that it’s okay to be gay.  You have a right to safety, love, and all of the wonderful things that the world has to offer.  If anyone says differently or uses their religion as a shield or sword for their bigotry against you, you can tell them fuck you right from me!

Back to Simon, he’s struggling with coming out and sees on a blog that someone else is too.  They begin an online correspondence and I prayed that it wasn’t a forty-five year old creepo writing him.  It wasn’t.  Unfortunately, his correspondence is found out by Martin, a fellow student, who threatens to out him, unless he helps set him up with one of his friends.  Martin is a horrible garbage person and is horribly awkward  as well and blunders through his terrible terrible life in the film.

Simon, fearing being outed, complies to Martin’s demand as he tries to discover the identity of his online paramour.  I don’t want to give to much away, BUT in the trailer we learn that Simon either comes out or gets outed.   Yes, he eventually gets outed, but that is as unimportant to the protagonist’s journey as being gay is in real life. It’s just you.  Simon- deals with it and if you’re a small-minded dipshit, you’ll deal with it too! The film proceeds to have many cringeworthy -oh my god,  I’m having teen flashbacks- moments and I’m so glad I’m no longer a teen.

Furthermore, the film could seem hokey or corny to a lot of cynical people that are terrible, homophobic or both.  Honestly, I have to write if you don’t like this film you are per se terrible. I’m not saying that if you gave the movie a C+ you would refuse to make a gay couple a wedding cake, but I bet you would tell there are “Two Sides” bullshit.

The film really goes beyond gay identity just as Simon does.  It is coming of age story where we grow up with simon and realize this is just who he is, but he’s still a kid.  I can tell you that 17 and 18 is still a kid.  My first assignment in the Army I was a lieutenant and had many 18 year olds in my platoon and they had childish interests, were desperate for guidance, and tried many awkward times to get acceptance.  In short, Love, Simon portrays youth accurately and we, like Simon, have to deal.

The film was making a point that these were kids struggling with being grownups and they just weren’t ready.  Adulthood is forced upon us, we don’t get to choose it on our own terms. For me, that’s what Berlanti was trying to say: we have to become adults and deal with our identity because life will force us to do so no matter what.  We don’t choose to be smart, dumb, gay, or straight- it’s just who we are and we have to face it every day because we have to do so.  The film forces us to live through Simon’s awkwardness as he becomes a Man.  Being a grown up sucks, but it doesn’t suck as much as being a teenager.

The film leaves us with uncertainty because that’s what being an adult is.  We have to be ourselves or we can never be free, or as Jennifer Gardner put it heart wrenchingly- you’ll always be holding your breath.

I would recommend that you see this film and then see it again!

Annihilation, Movie Review with some spoilers


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Annihilation, a movie adaptation from the novel of the same name, is a confusing story.  The book is part of a trilogy and has no relation to the film except that both are fairly convoluted.

The movie has two storylines: a dying marriage that was based more on lust and youth than common interest and a comet that hits a lighthouse and forces mutations on everything around it.  The comet creates a “shimmer”, which may or may not be made of bubble mixture goop because that’s what it looks like and inside the shimmer a whole lot of mutations are goin’ on and scientists want to know why.

Lena (Natalie Portman) is having an affair so her husband decides to go into the shimmer because he’s self-destructive and Jimmy Fallon’s been kind of dull lately.  He’s gone for 12 months and returns ….. different.  The government, an organization run by a tranquilized Jennifer Jason Leigh, kinda wants Lena to go into the shimmer with her to investigate the entity further.  I write kinda because everyone in the film just meanders and moseys through their own story.

Lena and Jennifer don’t go in alone; they go into the bubble mixture goop with Jane the Virgin whose only special skill appears to be staring and whining, but to be fair she might be picking up on her malaise from being on a shitty CW show.  There’s also Explainer Woman who explains everything all….the….time and I mean Morgan Freeman voiceover levels of explaining.  There’s a lady who cuts herself (off camera) and whose special skill is to Explain Science with a voice that can only be described as sedated, interesting choice to prepare for every scene by eating a turkey sandwich and gravy.

They proceed to run into some weird predators and creepy deer; yep, creepy deer.  As they get closer to the origin of the comet impact, the mutations are more and more pronounced.  We are also treated to her husband via found video footage that the shimmer area is mutating him and his comrades that were all lost in the previous mission.  There does not appear to be a motive to the mutations or any form of a goal on the part of the invasive comet.  In many ways, the movie is a lot like the flora and fauna in the film; it is, it exists, and it will cost about 14.00 bucks to see it.

The movie did succeed in creating a mysterious vibe and playing up the unreliable narrator component.  It failed in pacing.  This movie is s l o w.  I mean it’s possible that I went back in time and re-watched it again.  I thought it was actually an hour longer than it was.  I have to really think as to whether I would recommend the film to a fellow human being.  If you go to see a Western because you like to watch people mosey, this is the film for you.

 

The Cloverfield Paradox – *Great Spoilers*


 

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It’s Superbowl Sunday!!! Better yet, it’s The Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix.

This movie is 1 part – Event Horizon, 1 Part – The Thing, and 1 Part – Boring.

We begin with a dying earth and pesky scientists have tried to create a free energy machine innnnnnnn spaaaaaaace.  Sounds Legit.

There’s British people talking in traffic and I need closed captioning.  The lady in traffic is apparently an astronaut and “Comm Officer”. However, I can’t understand anything she’s saying; so maybe, communications wasn’t the best fit?!

We’re on the space station and they’re trying to do some particle acceleratin’ …woohoo, but something is amiss. The story is really dragging.

Now, there’s nerds, foozball playing, and awkward conversation.  Are we sure this is a Space Station and not the Google Campus?  I do like that all peoples are represented and they’re all boring.  It’s about time that we embraced that most people are boring and even some Netflix films.

They’re about to turn on their Shepherd Accelerator and …… they are making particles, energy, or s’mores?  Then, the Shepherd overloads.  I’m guessing they forgot to use a surge protector. They get control, but the earth is gone- must’ve left the Earth in their other solar system’s pants.  They’re hurtling into empty space.

The crew is starting to act weird.  The Russian- I’m going to call him Boris – is playing with his face a lot and we’re getting an Event Horizon vibe mostly because JJ Abrams decided to defile the memory of another one of my favorite films.  The steel walls have screaming and they decide to open it….because sure. They reveal a woman fused to wires and the bulkhead who knows the Comm Officer’s name.  It’s pretty gross.  They try to do some ER work on her and she lives.

Meanwhile….Back on Earth. There’s explosions!!!

Back on the station…

The foozball is playing itself and things are disappearing: gyroscopes, worms, and my time.   Boris has a worm creature in his head and it’s doing gross things to his eyeball.  Boris starts talking to himself and the voices in his head ask him to make a 3d printed gun.  Boris pulls the 3d printed gun on crewmates and dies with hundreds of worms shooting out of him.

The lady they found in the bulkhead – Mina – wakes up.  She thinks that she was on the station the whole time.  Mina accuses Schmidt of sabotage.  For scientists, they are unimpressive.  These dopes haven’t figured out that they’re in another dimension?! Did they get their PhDs from University of Phoenix?!  They lock Schmidt up for sabotage and proceed to make bad choices.

Back on earth…. More explosions, but now there are screaming kids.

Back on the station: The ship’s Irish janitor is doing repairs and his arm gets detached.  The ship let’s Schmidt out of the airlock and he’s being chased by the Irishman’s arm.  The arm writes them a letter….really. It tells them to cut Boris’ corpse open.  They find the gyroscope inside Boris.  The comms come back and their current reality is pretty bad.  They watch CNN and learn that they’ve traveled to Another Dimension …. Another Dimension … Don’t … you tell me to smile….Interplanetary.   In this dimension, there’s World War III going on and everybody has goatees.  They decide to turn on the Shepherd machine again and hopefully not attract a herd of sheep as well.

Back on earth, the Comm Officer’s husband has rescued a random kid and went to a bomb shelter.

Back on the Station:  Tam figures out that condensation was messing with their calculations, but then she drowns….somehow.  In the alternate dimension, Eva’s kids are alive.  In the “Good Dimension” Eva apparently installed some bad track lighting and killed everyone, but in this “Evil Dimension” – they’re fine because she used lamps I suppose.  Eva decides to go back to warn her twin not to use track lighting…..ever.  I’ve noticed that they do A LOT of caulking in this movie to exciting music, but it’s still a guy caulking. There’s another malfunction and half the ship explodes.

The crew decides that they need to de-couple the broken part of the station, engendering a long scene of attempted space station repair.  It was really slow AND they had this crazy 8-4pm window to do it.  Then, the captain sacrifices himself to do it because why not?

Eva orders that they turn on the shepherd.  All looks well, but Mina steals the gun and starts shooting.  She needs the “firing key” for some reason.  Presumably, the Shepherd will create energy, but that really makes no sense because it doesn’t create energy as much as derivative B-Movies.  Mina manages to kill Eva in the final scene Aliens style and it’s mildly entertaining.

Schmidt lives and they start the Shepherd again, but first she warns her evil twin not to use Track Lighting and to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch in the 2015 Super Bowl.  They see earth again- the good earth and they have a stable power beam.   Eva’s husband doesnt want them to come back because—-monsters.  Then, as the escape pod enters the atmosphere, we see a monster.  So, they unleashed monsters and NBC’s Whitney.

This was a great bad movie, which is what JJ Abrams can do in his sleep. I would watch this if I had the flu or was in a B-movie place.

Stranger Things S2 Ep 9, The Gate; Alt Title: RE-U-NITED…..


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Cold Open: Reunited and it feels so good….Reunited… Yep, El is back in the arms of Mike whom she’ll rip in half when she catches him cheating with some rando floozy in college. But for now,  Reunited and it feels so good….. Mike is all pissed at Hop and they end up hugging.  Awwww.  El meets Max and doesn’t shake her hand. Max is in a tough spot: on the one hand she has a psycho Carrie-esque whack job who wants to explode her and the other is a terrible trash household. Poor Max.  They believe El can close the gate, but there are 100s of Demagorgans in their way.

Cara Buono is taking a bubble bath and Ted is asleep downstairs.  Ted, you are sad…sad man.  Then, Mullet-Guy arrives and flirts with Cara Buono and I just had flashbacks to my High School years.  They weren’t all bad.

They are planning on taking El to close the gate.  They take E-Will to the cabin to burn the evil out of E-Will.  Later, Steve easily breaks up with Nancy.  Pretty Awesome!

Hop and El do some catching up and Hop explains that he feels like some kind of a black hole, sucking up everything and destroying it – I can relate.  They head into the distance to the Castle…. I mean government facility.  There’s a brief moment where Dustin gets Steve to put the Demagorgan into the fridge because I suppose they want to make stock later…. Pro Tip: Low and Slow with lots of sage!

Steve and the gang decide to head into the caves to enter the lab ….  Well, about Team Steve….. Mullet-Guy arrives and decides to beat up Lucas.  Then, he beats up Steve….A LOT, until Max puts a dart in his neck and Steve remains knocked out on the floor.  Poor Steve.

Joyce, Creeper, and Nancy arrive at the cabin and try to cook the monster out of E-Will.  He gets some black veins and tries to strangle his mom to stop the purification.

The Lab:  El and Hop arrive to do battle.   They find Reiser and he’s dying.  They go down further and arrive at the opening.  Hop goes in and shoots a bunch of Demagorgons.

Meanwhile: Steve leads the way down the caves.  There’s a bit of comic relief and they find the center of the caves and drench it in gasoline and torch it.

It’s all very smash cut!!!

The shadow leaves E-will and goes into the sky.

El and Hop go down into the bowels of the gate and face off against the Shadow Monster.

Dustin meets up with Dart again….Reunited and it feels so good….

El tries again to shut down the shadow monster’s gate, channeling her anger.  El digs deep and focuses her rage.  I would just think of the Seahawks v Patriots….Just give the ball to Marshawn for Pete’s SAKE!!!!!  El wins! We Win! The gate is closed and the shadow monster is dead. Woohoo!

The Lab is all locked up, shut down, and the government got embarrassed by the Bearded Creeper in the Bathrobe…yep that one.

Reiser got Hop a birth certificate for El.  The show ends with a prom of sorts and Creeper is videotaping.  I really hope no one looks on the other tapes. YIPE!

The prom is hopping.  Man, they must have quite the budget! Time After Time plays and Lucas and Max dance.  Dustin gets shot down….A LOT! It’s alright, Dustin. Nancy dances with him.  Hey Dustin, she has pretty low standards lately; you might have a shot.

The parents: Hop and Joyce hug quietly outside reminiscing and grieving the ones they lost.

El and Mike dance to The Police’s stalker song- I’ll be watching you.  Everyone gets kissed, except for Dustin.  The school spins upside down with the Shadow Monster looking down.  Maybe, it’s the Shadow Monster’s turn to be Nancy’s Boyfriend.

So, Gentle Readers….Thus concludes another Stranger Things season.  I’ll keep writing more in 2018 and not just in the fall. This has been a lot of fun and very cathartic for me.  Cheers and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! HAPPY HANUKKAH! And, I’ll even give a good year….this time.

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