‘The Dark Tower’ Review

Stephen King’s epic series of novels has finally come to the big screen after a long period of stop and go. Idris Elba stars as Roland Deschain aka The Gunslinger, the last in a line of “knights” from Midworld. Matthew McConaughey is his main antagonist: The Man in Black aka Walter Padick, a sorcerer who wishes to destroy The Dark Tower to seemingly unleash Hell upon the universe. The two have been going at one another for years but are finally brought together again by an 11 year old boy, Jake Chambers, whose ability to “shine” is crucial to The Man in Black’s plan.

I’ve only read about three and a half of the books that consist of the eight Dark Tower books. I’m also aware that almost all of Stephen King’s stories (books, novellas, short stories) are all linked and through The Dark Tower itself. I did not expect this movie to go into any of that due to licensing issues. But what did I get? Well it was not bad but it really wasn’t good either. The best way to describe the movie was thin. At a little over 90 minutes, the movie felt like it should have been at least 15 minutes longer.

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First and foremost, the performances are good. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are top notch actors and do the best with what they were given. The only problem is that their characters are two dimensional with hints at something more. Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers is a little hard to gauge but that is always kind of the problem with child actors. He certainly did not give a bad performance and he was never annoying but it always felt like something was off. The rest of the supporting cast with Claudia Kim, Jackie Earle Haley, Dennis Haysbert and others are fine but they are given even less depth than the main characters.

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The biggest problem with the movie seems to be editing. You can tell that the movie has been cut in many different ways. Sometimes characters finish conversations that never even started on screen. The editing is also off when characters just seemingly show up at places with no set up. Even with the editing issues, the movie is not the mess that you might expect when you hear someone say that. It is a fairly linear story that moves at a good pace but as stated previously there should have been more to the movie.

The thinness of the movie hinders it in as much as we do really know who the characters are, why they are doing what they are doing, how they are able to do what they do and so on and so on. There are many opportunities for character developing moments and they probably were there but the film simply breezes over them. I was never expecting this movie to get as lofty and trippy as the source materials do. But I did want something more to get a sense of how this universe or multiverse works.

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Nikolaj Arcel is the director and this is is his big budget film. The film actually has a modest budget for the type of film that it is. But as per usual when these types of movies, you get the sense that either the director did not get a real good grasp or the studio might have interfered. Honestly, I think it was a perfect storm of events. There have been talks about making the series a television series and this movie kind of proves that to be true. It seems really big and unwieldy for a feature film or even a series of feature films.

Ultimately it seems that the film struggled to find its own identity. On one hand, it had to please hardcore fans and before obvious reshoots, it was supposed to be a sequel of sorts to the books. On the other hand, it is supposed to introduce a new audience to the rich mythology. It ultimately succeeds in doing none of those things. But it is not a failure of a movie. Just a mess of one.

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SCORE: 6.5/10

Thor: Ragnarok Trailer Takeaway

I make no secret that I am not the biggest fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Liked the first one but really didn’t get the hype and not really excited about the upcoming Vol. 2. I love Spider-Man but with Spider-Man: Homecoming, this will be the sixth Spider-Man film and the trailers are cool but nothing really too exciting for me. Before Marvel Studios struck a deal with Sony to integrate Spider-Man into the MCU, Black Panther was scheduled to be released in 2017 and thus my most anticipated MCU film. But with that being delayed due to Spider-Man, my most anticipated MCU has become Thor: Ragnarok.

Thor was originally my favorite superhero in the MCU until Captain America slowly but surely supplanted that spot. As the movies continued, Thor continued to slide down the list of my favorites as they seemingly did not know what to do with the character. Since Thor is probably the most powerful Avenger, you have to take him out of most of the action scenes in those movies as he could seemingly end the conflict before it begins. The second Thor movie is just a case of mediocrity. So when Thor 3 became Thor: Ragnarok, my interest was piqued once again.

Thor’s Got His Helmet (Finally)

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Other than a quick shot in the first Thor, Thor has never worn his iconic helmet. I knew it was because of the studio wanting to show off Chris Hemsworth and his face but it makes no logical sense. They even had old Anthony Hopkins wearing Odin’s helmet more than Thor himself. If Thor is a warrior with long flowing hair, it would be best to keep his hair in check as it can be used against him. I don’t know how much Thor will be wearing his helmet but the fact that it’s featured in a lot of the promo imagery, hopefully a good chunk.

Hela

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You don’t get an actress like Cate Blanchett and just have her do nothing. This has been the biggest problems when it comes to the villains in the MCU. Great talent that is ultimately squandered. This does not seem to be the case with Hela in this movie as we frequently see her in the midst of doing something interesting. Whether it’s her destroying Mjolnir and taking on the armies of Asgard, it looks like she will be a villain who leads from the front. She will also be the first main big bad who is a woman which is a welcome change for the MCU. There are rumors she might stick around for future movies but she has already left an impression from the trailers…plus she wears Hela’s iconic and bizarre helmet.

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New Looks

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Hey you know Idris Elba has been in three MCU films? No? Can’t blame you if you didn’t because he’s something of an afterthought. That looks to be changing with this one as we see more of Idris Elba as Heimdall doing more than guarding something. He is also sporting some fancy new hair and look. This does lead me to believe that there might be some sort of time jump within the movie.

All the major returning characters also seemingly have new looks.

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There is also someone who has a new look but we’ll get to him next.

Gladiator Hulk

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We all knew it was coming and we finally got it. The Incredible Hulk in gladiator attire. The movie somewhat adapts elements from the popular Planet Hulk storyline. The biggest question is how in the world did Hulk get there? The last we saw of him, he was in a quinjet going who knows where. A line in Captain America: Civil War seemed to indicate that he was still on Earth. So a big question the movie will have to answer is how Dr. Bruce Banner got there and how long has he been there?

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Thor and Hulk Going Buckwild

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The biggest thing about Thor and Hulk is that they are two most powerful Avengers. So usually the fight scenes between the two of them have had to be limited. Either no one is really strong enough to take them on or the destruction they would cause would be too great. So what’s the best solution? Take both of them off world to face opponents equally as strong as they are. Also there looks to be a rematch between Thor and Hulk from The Avengers, a fight that was a bit underwhelming. So it looks like this movie will be taking full advantage of their new locales and new technologies available to them.

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Are you excited for Thor: Ragnarok? You can already tell that I am.

Why Thor: Ragnarok Is My Most Anticipated Marvel Movie of 2017

Thor is one of my favorite characters in all comics. His movie counterpart is not. While I highly enjoyed the first Thor movie, it has been scattered since then. He appears late into The Avengers and despite his brother being the main antagonist, he is not really a focal point. Thor: The Dark World is not a bad movie but it suffers from an identity crisis. Age of Ultron, Thor has to be taken out of many of the battles because he is so powerful he could probably ended the movie thirty minutes in. Plus his character probably got hurt the most by executive meddling as his scenes were devoted to setting up the larger MCU picture. So Thor is in need of a kick in the pants. 

Taika Waititi is a filmmaker that I’m familiar but not one that I can say I’m a fan of. So it was interesting to see that he would be directing the latest Thor movie. But after the Russo Brothers took on the Captain America franchise and took it to new levels, I am open to anything. One of his mission statements going into the movie is to make Thor the most interesting character. In his own movies, Thor tends to get overshadowed by Loki. Though Loki is in Ragnarok, it is unkown just as how much. 

Then there’s the added caveat of The Incredible Hulk. The Hulk due to some legal quagmires cannot have a solo movie. So the next best thing? Team him up in the Thor movie while adapting elements from the popular Planet Hulk storyline. Thor and Hulk trapped on a gladiator planet where even the two most powerful Avengers will have to fight for their lives and one another. The movie was described as something of a buddy road trip movie as Thor is left stranded on the other side of the galaxy. It won’t come as a surprise to see Thor drag Hulk with him as he will need all the help he can get to prevent Ragnarok.

The newcomers to the franchise are also exciting. Cate Blanchett will also be playing the first female big bad in the MCU, Hela. Academy Award winning actor winning certainly brings in a gravitas to whatever she is in. Tessa Thompson is one of the biggest up and coming actors is playing Valkyrie. Karl Urban will be playing Skurge the Executioner, someone who can take Thor on in a one on one fight. Jeff Goldblum is playing The Grandmaster who has ties to other MCU characters like The Collector and Thanos. These are all in addition to the already stellar cast from previous movies such as Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston. 

There’s still much we do not know about the movie. Just how does Hulk get involved? Will there be an Infinity Stone? How well can Waititi juggle all these different elements? Will this be the end f the Asgardians? These answers will certainly be answered November 3, 2017.
Plus: we get to see the return of Doctor Strange. The post credits scene between Strange and Thor was filmed for Ragnarok. 

‘Star Trek Beyond’ Review

“As someone who passively likes Star Trek, this is my favorite Star Trek film”


Star Trek Beyond is the third entry in the reboot of the Star Trek franchise. It is also the thirteenth in the film series overall. This film is special because it comes out during the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. So how was the film? One of my favorite of the summer. I am not the biggest Star Trek fan. I enjoy the franchise as a whole but I can never say that it has been my favorite. It’s always been there and I would watch the movies and catch episodes of the various shows here and there.


This film picks up about three years into the five years mission of the Starship Enterprise. The crew has all gotten acclimated with one another. This must be true of the cast as they all seem to gel very well with one another. Problems start to arise when Kirk is questioning his existence as he is now older than his father when he died. Wondering if he is fit to lead the crew and if his entire being there is just a sham. Wanting something new in his life and away from the Enterprise.


Things get interesting when they encounter Krall. Krall is out to destroy Starfleet and his first target is the crew of the Enterprise. This leads them stranded on an alien planet where they are forced to ally with Jaylah. This is where the film got interesting for me as the previous two movies were mainly focused on Kirk and Spock. While they are still the lynchpins, this movie is much more of an ensemble film. The members are splintered off and are taken into different group dynamics.

The other members of the Enterprise get a chance to shine. Uhura, Chekov, Sulu and Scotty all get moments and show why they are important. The one standout is Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy. There have always been hints here and there in the past two movies but he really stands out. Another scene stealer is Sofia Boutella as Jaylah. She is also a scene stealer as she brings a fun and unique energy to the cast. Though Starfleet is composed of many alien races, there are few actually on the Enterprise. Not to give too much away, it will be interesting to see where she goes if this series continues.

Idris Elba is the big bad of the movie, Krall. He is pretty unrecognizable in the role. The only way to recognize him is if they did something more with his voice. Out of the villains in the reboot franchise, he is probably the best. That is something of damned praise as the previous two were not that memorable. It is a simple revenge plot but there is a certain twist with the character that was unexpected. Elba can read the phonebook and make it interesting so he does help elevate this villain because it could have been pretty generic if played by a lesser actor.

As said earlier, Star Trek is not one of my favorite franchises out there. I greatly respect it though. Justin Lin, who revitalized The Fast and The Furious franchise, has revitalized this franchise here. Many expected that he would go more bombastic when taking over. In fact he did the opposite. This is much more a character piece with crazy set pieces. Credit goes to writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung as they find a nice balance to pay homage to what Star Trek is about while appealing to a more casual movie going audience.

SCORE: 8.5/10