Spider-Man: Homecoming is easily the cutest (damn you Baby Groot!) most innocent movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unless your heart is made out of coal, it’s hard not to be charmed by the film’s “Aw Shucks” attitude. The captivating innocence is created by a combination of an inexperienced hero that’s eager to please, an idyllic high-school setting, and a wonderfully wholesome actor. In many ways, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the MCU equivalent of Glee (as a Gleek, I consider this an excellent thing).
Show choir analogies aside, Spider-Man: Homecoming is flat-out good and loads of fun. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is objectively one of the best MCU movies. Many geek tastemakers consider it one of the best superhero movies ever made. While I absolutely agree with that opinion, I’ve rewatched Captain America: Civil War much, much more. Civil War isn’t as good as The Winter Soldier, but it’s way more fun. What impressed me about Spider-Man: Homecoming was that it’s a top-tier MCU movie that’s also highly rewatchable. Prior to seeing this movie, I considered Guardians of the Galaxy to have the best blend of quality and rewatchability, as far as MCU movies go. Well move over Star Lord, because Spidey just stole your throne.
Whether you’re a hardcore comics nerd or someone with a marginal interest in teenagers that have been bitten by radioactive spiders, I highly recommend Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s a great superhero movie that will enchant you with its innocence.
Now it’s time for some random thoughts on the movie, using the RPadTV battle-tested binary system. (That’s your cue to use your web shooters to craft yourself an arachnid spoiler shield.)
The Fate of the Furious is the latest chapter in the saga of Dominic Toretto and his vaunted family (#family). Starting with Fast Five, the franchise has transformed from a tale about street racers to a tale of international adventurers. While there’s a race early on in the movie, the rest is about fast cars, ridiculous action, massive collateral damage, vicious punches, and diatribes about family. Although there are some new characters and major changes to old ones, nothing about The Fate of the Furious feels fresh. It’s loads of fun if you’re looking for big, dumb action, but I doubt it will create any new fans.
Here are some random thoughts on The Fate of the Furious, presented in RPadTV binary style. If you don’t want to see any spoilers then it’s time to hit the NOS button and drive on outta here.
Logan is easily one of the two best comic-book movies Fox has ever released. It would be difficult to argue with anyone that says it’s the best. For me, it’s not (more on that later), but that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that Logan is a fantastic movie that serves as a bittersweet farewell to Hugh Jackman’s take on Wolverine. Before I go any further, activate your X-gene’s spoiler-blocking abilities, because it’s time for some random thoughts on Logan.
Yesterday, I caught Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for the second time. My first viewing was in IMAX 3D. The second time around it was in 2D Sony 4K. Naturally, I have additional random thoughts on the movie, as well as some points I forgot to make in my first story. Below are more musings on this fine film, directed by Gareth Edwards and conceived by the wonderful Gary Whitta. You may turn on your spoiler shields when ready.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a fantastic movie, but for fans that grew up watching the original trilogy, it’s something more. Rogue One has a Star Wars feel, but with more mature and more evolved sensibilities. For those longtime Star Wars fans that were kids when they first saw the originals, it’s a stellar experience. As their tastes have developed and matured, moviemaking has developed and matured. While I recommend the movie to anyone that’s the least bit nerdy, it’s a must-see (and see again) for sci-fi nerds of a certain age.
Having said all that, I had some minor issues with the film. As great as Rogue One was, I can’t help but wonder if it would have been a better movie with the original writers and without the reshoots. There were also some minor details that were convenient to the plot, but bothered me as a rational human being. That means, of course, it’s time for some random thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Lock your S-foils in spoiler formation and let’s blow this thing (and go home?).
WWE’s NXT Live tour hit Las Vegas on December 17, 2016 and put on a solid show. The card featured great wrestlers that are ready for the main roster now, some wrestlers that are still trying to figure out their characters, and a few greenies that have a long way to go. Overall, it was an enjoyable NXT Live card with several memorable moments. If there was one takeaway from the show, it was that Tye Dillinger’s “10” gimmick is incredibly over.
Below are the results from NXT Live Las Vegas and some random thoughts on the show. Also, there are a bunch of bad photos taken with my mediocre iPhone 6 Plus. (*sigh* I should have brought my real camera.)
The mid-season finale of Lucifer was the best thing I’ve watched on television in 2016. The writers, directors, and actors did a stellar job of deftly mixing comedy, drama, and action. The big reveal at the end was fantastic…though a bit evil (*snicker*) considering that the next episode won’t air for seven weeks. Lucifer S02E10 was, quite simply, the show at its best. Here are some random thoughts on the mid-season finale. (Kindly put on your spoiler wings!)
Suicide Squad is Warner Bros.’ latest attempt at breathing life into its DC Comics cinematic universe. The movie has been getting a lot of attention, and most of it isn’t the kind the studio wants. Several friends and colleagues that I respect hated the movie. I didn’t think it was that bad. It certainly wasn’t a great superhero movie, but I’d watch it again on cable. Compared to this year’s superhero movies, I found it much better than Batman v Superman (aka Murderous Batman vs. Mopey-Ass Superman), but not nearly as good as Deadpool or Captain America: Civil War.
Having said that, I don’t feel like writing a proper movie review. Instead, I’m going to rate the Suicide Squad team members (as well as the puppet master and villains) individually. Let’s do this!
[Activate your spoiler shields, please.]
Deadshot (Will Smith) F: For me, Will Smith’s portrayal of Deadshot was the worst part of Suicide Squad. I’m a big fan of the character — both from the Suicide Squad and the Secret Six books. Smith’s performance was incredibly lazy and uninspired. He acted like Will Smith instead of Floyd Lawton. The guy that played Deadshot on Arrow did a much better job with the character. It’s amazing that a huge Hollywood star was considerably outperformed by a television actor on a CW show — a frickin’ CW show!
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) B+: Robbie is unbelievably sexy and gets an extra half-grade for that. Heterosexual male bias aside, she was one of the best parts of Suicide Squad. She did a fine job at portraying Harley as equal parts keenly intelligent and mentally unstable. While the accent was similar to the one she used in The Wolf of Wall Street, it totally worked for the character. I appreciated how she turned the severity of the accent up and down situationally throughout the movie. The biggest problem I had with her character had nothing to do with the actress, but how she was written and directed. Super Harley — the one that deftly dispatched supernatural beings with her fists and a baseball bat — threw me for a loop. When the hell did Harley become psychotic Wonder Woman?!?
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) A: Suicide Squad’s government puppet master was outstanding. Davis completely owned this role, serving up a Waller that was razor sharp, manipulative, and terrifying. She left you with a feeling of, “You do not want to f*ck with this woman.” From the comfort of the other side of the screen, it was fun enjoying her cold and calculating portrayal. Waller is one of my favorite characters in the DCU and I was thrilled that David brought her to life so perfectly.
The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) B-: Again, my heterosexual maleness requires me to give an extra half-grade boost to Miss Delevingne for being astonishingly beautiful. She also gets another half-grade for coming from a wealthy family. In my dreams, Cara Delevingne makes me a kept man. In Suicide Squad, she was a little bit silly. She played the victim, June Moon, well enough. As the Enchantress, the director had her doing some ridiculous things. While I was mostly enjoying watching her gyrate like a stripper as she was casting spells, there was a point where I thought, “Come on man. You’re just exploiting her hotness.” Still, she’s gorgeous, she’s rich, and she has incredible eyebrows; it’s tough for me to criticize anything she does. #truth
The Joker (Jared Leto) B+: Several of my friends have bashed Leto’s performance as the Joker, but I loved it. He gave the Clown Prince of Crime a modern and edgy feel. I found Leto’s Joker much scarier and more realistic than Ledger’s Joker. I’d love to see more of him in a proper Batman movie.
Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) C: I’m actually not sure what to do with this grade. I am of the opinion that Jai Courtney sucks and has the best management team in Hollywood. I’m baffled that he gets so many big roles with such little talent. My friend Solomon pointed out that Captain Boomerang sucks in the comics (many writers have portrayed Boomer as a joke among DC villains). From that perspective, hiring an actor that sucks to play a villain that sucks could be considered inspired casting. However, I’m certain that the studio didn’t think that deeply. Courtney was surprisingly acceptable in this limited role, which is probably his best “acting” to date.
Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) B: I’ve never seen this actor before, but left the movie impressed by his performance. He did a good job of playing the straight-laced protagonist surrounded by insane people. His role might of been the trickiest of all, because Suicide Squad is all about letting the villains shine. He had his moments when appropriate, but otherwise let the baddies do their thing.
On a side note, Kinnaman kind of looks like WWE Edge. Whenever Flag popped up onscreen I thought, “You think you know me.”
Katana (Karen Fukuhara) D+: As a Katana fan, this performance was disappointing. She added nothing to Suicide Squad. Take out all of her scenes and the movie is pretty much the same. You’re not given a reason to care about Katana, so when she had her big crying scene, it felt empty. She added nothing of consequence to the movie, which is a shame because Tatsu is a cool character. Similar to movie Deadshot, movie Katana is inferior to CW Arrow Katana.
Diablo (Jay Hernandez) C+: I liked this character up until the end of the movie. He was fun as the super-powerful but reluctant villain enlisted to do good. I’m not sure how, but hours (in movie time) of doing nothing and whining caused him to think of the other Suicide Squad members as family. Uh…okay. Expectedly, he got all sentimental and sacrificial, but his face turn lacked weight.
Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) C-: The character looked really cool, so he gets an extra half-grade on behalf of the makeup team. However, he was almost as useless as Katana. He was instrumental in a scene that required swimming…and that’s about it.
Slipknot (Adam Beach) Incomplete: I love that the movie played on Slipknot’s mishap with the implants from the comics (but in a much deadlier way), with Captain Boomerang as the impetus. In the immortal words of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, “Bwahahahahahaha!!!”
The Game of Thrones season 6 finale was mostly incredible. There were big revelations. There was an awesome green explosion. There was lots of character development. And there was some of the best acting and music the series has ever known. After two viewings, I’m still trying to digest it all. Naturally, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this year’s finale. For my part, here are 11 observations to get things started.
[Raise your spoiler shields, please!]
1) The Music Was Brilliant: The first sequence of the Game of Thrones season 6 finale felt different from any other scene in the series, simply because of the music. Game of Thrones music is normally string-heavy, but this composition featured piano and cello. The score helped make the sequence feel unique and more powerful.
2) Pycelle’s Death Will Haunt Senior Citizens: I’m pretty sure most people over 65 have this nightmare — a gang of children pummeling you and stabbing you to death. Or maybe this is what makes Santa Claus wake up in a cold sweat in the North Pole.
3) Tommen Would’ve Been a Great Pro-Wrestler: What did you think of Tommen Lannister’s Game of Thrones season 6 finale exit? Some are saying that he fell out of the castle. Others are saying that he dove out of the castle (in which case, he lost points for not sticking the landing). I’m saying that he went for a swanton bomb. His “suicide dive” totally reminded me of Jeff Hardy’s swanton.
4) Cersei Has Gone Full Sith: Cersei Lannister borrowed one of Maleficent’s gowns and fully embraced the dark side in the Game of Thrones season 6 finale. Her one redeeming quality (aside from her cheekbones) was how much she loved her children. With all of her kids pushing up daisies she probably thought, “F*ck it. I’m going to rule everything!!!” In previous seasons, her plans were never as clever as she thought they were. At the end of this season, she was completely victorious.
5) Ned Stark’s Character is Still Being Developed: My heart melted during the Tower of Joy scene, where it was finally revealed that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s bastard and is really Lyanna Stark’s son. As fantastic as that reveal was, it really made me think about what an honorable man Ned was. He honored his sister’s last request, keeping an enormous secret from his wife and best friend. He (lightly) sullied his own name and let the world think that he disrespected his wife, all for Lyanna and her son.
Go back and watch the scenes from season 1 where someone bring’s up Jon’s parentage to Ned; you could tell the topic made him uncomfortable and those scenes feel even heavier with the official reveal.
6) Liam Cunningham, Actor: The scene with Davos Seaworth dressing down Melisandre was short, but boy was it heavy. Cunningham did the most with his time. You could feel Davos’ anger, anguish, and sorrow coming through. While it was “only” my second-favorite scene in the Game of Thrones season 6 finale, it was definitely the most skillfully acted one.
7) Samwell Tarly Has an Orgasm in the Library: Sam walking into the Citadel library reminded me of the scene in Beauty in the Beast where Belle sees Beast’s library…but taken to the next level. I’m certain Sam had a walking wet dream upon seeing the thousands of books at his disposal. Hopefully he does some research on white walkers and doesn’t get lost in trashy romance novels written by lonely maesters.
8) Lord Wyman Manderly Should’ve Been Fatter: Yes, the showrunners got a large man to play Manderly, but he wasn’t large enough. In the books, he’s derided as “Lord Too Fat to Sit a Horse.” Television Manderly could easily ride on a (sturdy) horse. This was my biggest disappointment with the Game of Thrones season 6 finale.
9) Lyanna Mormont Should Rule Westeros: With a thrashing speech, the 10-year old ruler of Bear Island united the squabbling northerners and got Jon Snow declared as the new KingInDaNorf King in the North. This was my favorite Game of Thrones season 6 finale scene on several levels. First, Lady Mormont owns and should be ruling Westeros. Secondly, Jon Snow’s KingInDaNorf King in the North moment mirrored Robb Stark’s nicely. Lastly, I loved the bit of uncertainty thrown in at the end when Sansa stops smiling as she exchanges looks with Littlefinger. Was Sansa happy to throw a wrench into his plans? Or does she want power of her own? I’m curious to see what games, if any, she’ll play next season. She shouldn’t get too ambitious though, because Lyanna Mormont will annihilate her with a glance.
10) Jaime’s Having Bad Flashbacks: The Kingslayer’s return to King’s Landing must’ve been quite a shock. (Let’s assume someone clued him into recent events on the way to the throne room.) He comes home to find that the last of his children died and his sisterlover went all Mad King Aerys. Remember, he’s ridiculed as the Kingslayer, but few people in Westeros know about Aerys’ vile wildfire plans. With his children gone and his sisterlover doing the exact thing he committed regicide for, this is a huge turning point for Jaime Lannister. I’m looking forward to his redemption angle next season. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended becoming a Queenslayer as well. That would arguably fit into Maggy the Frog’s prophecy for Cersei.
11) Team Targaryen is Ready to Rock Westeros: Daenerys and Varys are fantastic recruiters. Just look at that fleet at the end of the show. You’ve got the Unsullied, Dothraki, and three dragons flying under the Targaryen banner. They’re joined by boats and troops from House Tyrell, House Martell, and House Greyjoy. While Cersei Lannister is sitting pretty in King’s Landing at the end of the Game of Thrones season 6 finale, a formidable force is coming for her from the east. I can’t wait for next season’s battles!
The penultimate episodes of Game of Thrones are almost always the best ones in a given season. With that in mind, “Battle of the Bastards” delivered. By most accounts season six has been a strong outing for Game of Thrones and last night’s episode was the best of the bunch. It was a marvelous blend of emotional moments, brutal choreography, and some of the best cinematography the series has ever seen. Here are some random thoughts on “Battle of the Bastards,” using the RPadTV binary system. Time to don your spoiler shields, please.
Good: This episode must have cost a fortune. Between the dragon CGI and all the people involved in the titular Battle of the Bastards, I don’t know that I’ve seen an hour of TV that looked so expensive to produce. (Leave a comment if you can think of any, please). Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s tackle the episode in a (somewhat) chronological fashion.
Good: The action kicks off in Mereen, which has been a dull destination this season…but not today! After a mildly amusing conversation between Tyrion and Daenerys, Dany’s crew has a completely amusing encounter with the wise masters (who are apparently masters of guyliner). After some clever banter, Dany goes into full Khaleesi mode with her three dragons and it’s absolutely glorious. Watching them burn down slaver ships instantly transforms you into a gleeful teenager. Dracarys motherf*ckers!!! On the ground, Daario and the Dothraki slice up the Sons of the Harpy. Back at the top of the pyramid, Grey Worm makes the slavers’ guards wet themselves with a few choice words. The head of the Unsullied then slices two of the slavers’ throats with one shot and (awesomely) takes a few seconds to adjust his vest. The opening is completely exhilarating, mostly because of the dragons, but I got a kick out of Grey Worm too.
Good: Outside of Winterfell, the bastards parley. Jon thinks he’s cleverly manipulating Ramsay, but he’s back in “You Know Nothing Jon Snow” mode. As expected, Ramsay is in psychotic dick mode and accentuates the word “bastard” while talking to Jon. Snow asks for a one-on-one battle, but Ramsay refuses. The Battle of the Bastards is on.
Good: Jon’s Battle of the Bastards war council devises a plan. It’s quite clear that Davos is the smartest person in the room (militarily speaking). They come up with a desperate strategy that hinges on them being patient and letting Ramsay’s forces charge. Sansa chides Jon for not valuing her knowledge of Ramsay. She tells him that Ramsay plays and doesn’t get played. Jon responds with, “Oh yeah? I fought white walkers!” Sansa is cold, dismissing her brother Rickon’s chances at survival. She’s also secretive, not telling Jon about her messages to the Vale and the forces that are coming. Some people dismiss this as idiocy, but I see it as her being manipulative. If the Arryn soldiers were already with Jon’s crew, Ramsay would have happily holed up in Winterfell and outlasted a siege. Showing up with a relatively small army gave Ramsay the confidence to come out and play. Sansa’s desire to see Ramsay dead is equal to her desire to reclaim her family’s home. That’s my theory, anyway.
Good: Davos and Tormund have a fun conversation before the former goes off to be alone with his thoughts. Jon visits the (still) despondent Melisandre. He asks her not to bring him back if he dies again. They wonder why the Lord of Light brought him back in the first place. Their exchange is meant to give Jon a sense of vulnerability in the Battle of the Bastards, but any reasonable fan knows that he’s going to survive. The scene shifts back to insomniac Davos, who comes across some snow-covered ashes and finds the stag toy he gave to Princess Shireen. He realizes that the little girl that taught him how to read was burned to death and it’s a powerful scene. The shot of him standing over the pyre, with the sun coming up and his cape blowing in the wind is just beautiful. It’s the Game of Thrones equivalent of Luke Skywalker staring at the twin-sun skies of Tatooine. Before Davos can dwell on this morbid revelation, the battle horns sound.
Good: Back to Mereen for a quick bit, Asha Yara and Theon have come to parley with Dany. They offer her 100 ships and their support, in exchange for granting the Iron Islands independence. Dany agrees on the condition that the Iron Islanders cease their rape-and-pillage lifestyle. There are several interesting things here. It’s nice to see both Tyrion and Theon comfortably slip into the role of valued advisor. The bigger thing is the connection between Dany and Asha Yara. They identify with each other — women in a male-dominated world, insane fathers, usurpers that killed their insane fathers, etc. They both admire what the other is doing and there’s an instant bond. Naturally, most immature male viewers want them to be a lesbian couple. This immature male viewer would rather see them form a Taylor Swift squad of kick-ass Westerosi women. Naturally, leadership would eventually go to Lyanna Mormont.
Good: The combatants in the Battle of the Bastards are lined up! Ramsay starts the skirmish in an expectedly sadistic way — releasing Rickon while firing arrows at him. Apparently Rickon never played tag as a kid, because moron runs to Jon’s side in a straight line. His chances of survival would have went up exponentially if he zigged and zagged. Serpentine, Rickon, serpentine! After a few playful misses, Ramsay shoots Rickon straight through the chest. More importantly, Ramsay played Jon as Sansa predicted. He idiotically leaves himself open in the middle of the battlefield. Inexplicably, Jon opts for a 1-on-6,000 battle and continues to rush the enemy. Thankfully, Davos is smart enough to realize that they have no choice but to cancel their plans and charge into battle, in order to defend their leader.
Good: From here, the Battle of the Bastards gets completely nuts. It appears as if Ramsay’s forces are going to slice up Jon, but Snow’s team rushes into the fray. The melee combat is chaotic and intentionally disconcerting. On the fringes of the battle, there’s a nice contrast between the teams’ ranged strategy. Davos opts to hold fire, since they’d end up killing some of their own men. Ramsay lets the shots fly, oblivious to any collateral damage. It’s also interesting that Jon chooses to fight with his men, while Ramsay calls the shots from a safe distance.
Five minutes into the battle, Jon is a bloody and dirty mess. He goes into beast mode, dealing death at a rapid pace while miraculously avoiding volleys of arrows (some call it plot armor, but I’m chalking it up to R’hlorr). The combat is visceral and frenzied (totally admired the choreography, filming, and editing). Ten minutes into the Battle of the Bastards, there are piles of dead bodies fertilizing the plains of Winterfell. It gets to the point where fighting is taking place on top of small hills of corpses.
The Battle of the Bastards escalates as Davos’ unit charges the field and Smalljon Umber’s does the same for Ramsay’s side. Unfortunately for the good guys, they’re encircled by Ramsay’s soldiers in a phalanx-like formation. The baddies keep closing in, stabbing Snow’s army with pikes while forcing them into a tighter space. Within the circle of death, Wun Wun gets to show off his giant-ness. More chaotic melee combat ensues. You see spilling guts and severed limbs. It’s all hypnotically awful.
The Free Folk try to retreat from the phalanx and attempt to charge over the hill of corpses. Jon gets caught in the charge in an amazing sequence. He’s drowned by bodies and the sensation of helplessness is palpable. He’s trying to make it through the dead bodies surrounding him and the live ones running him over. I actually felt claustrophobic as I was watching the scene.
It looks like a total victory for Ramsay…when suddenly the knights of the Vale arrive. Borrowing a page from the Rohirrim, they break through the phalanx. After getting his ass handed to him by Smalljon, Tormund bites out his jugular and stabs him with a tooth. Wun Wun starts smacking around Ramsay’s soldiers with a shield. The tide has turned, as Littlefinger and Sansa watch from afar, satisfied by their machinations.
Good: Ramsay retreats to Winterfell Castle, pursued by Jon, Tormund, and Wun Wun. The Bolton Bastard thinks he’s safe inside the castle walls, but a barricaded door is no match for a giant. Wun Wun breaks through the door, but takes a ton of arrows. He ends up looking liking a giant-sized version of dead Boromir. He’s moments away from death and has a nice unspoken scene with Jon…that’s ruined from a Ramsay arrow to the eye.
Jon and Ramsay go one-on-one. For some reason it’s bow-and-arrow vs. shield. Uh…okay. It ends with Jon punching Ramsay into a bloody pulp. He’s about to beat him to death, but spares him for his half-sister. After all that she’s been through, it’s Sansa’s right to deal with Ramsay.
And she does so in a satisfying though predictable way. With his predilection for feeding people to his dogs, I thought Ramsay would die by getting eaten by his own dogs or getting eaten by Ghost. Ramsay wakes up in the kennels, tied to a chair. Sansa says that the world will forget him and his house. She watches as Ramsay’s own dogs eat him, before walking away with a feint smile. It’s a remarkable turn for Sansa. She left Winterfell as an idealistic and foolish girl that dreamed of marrying the prince. She returned as a hardened and manipulative woman that didn’t think twice about her brother being a casualty of war or feeding an enemy to dogs. That’s quite the 180, don’t you agree?
Lastly, I totally marked out when the direwolf banners replaced the flayed man banners at Winterfell. I hope the change is made in the opening credits too.
Bottom Line: This was an amazing episode of Game of Thrones. The battle in Mereen and the Battle of the Bastards were fantastic. The action was incredibly well executed, while there was enough entertaining dialogue. There are some viewers that are saying the episode was predictable and derivative of The Lord of the Rings movies, but those are the kind of people that eat fun and crap misery. This is up there with the other huge battle episodes like “Hardhome” and “Blackwater.” It’s the best episode of a very strong of Game of Thrones.