Captain Marvel – Better Than I Expected – A White Male’s Review

Christopher Estrada for RunPee
Chris Estrada: RunPee’s Newest Guest Geek Extraordinaire!

Guest article by Christopher Estrada

I am no Marvel Cinematic Universe newbie. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all but one MCU film to date — that one being 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. We were thrown into the middle of Dr. Banner’s story with little in the way of actual origin story. Maybe Marvel was leaning a bit on the other Hulk movie released not long before the MCU version. Or maybe they just didn’t want to get bogged down with the cinematic birth of The Hulk. Whatever the case, I wasn’t, and am still not impressed, with the big green guy’s first MCU outing.

All of this is to say that I went into Captain Marvel with apprehensive expectations. Which actually was disappointing for me. Immediately following Avengers: Infinity War, I was excited for the first female-led MCU movie. I wanted to learn about the Captain trademarked by the comic book company.

Can A White Man Review Feminist Films?

Then Brie Larson made headlines that were…off-putting…with talk of the movie being very feminist…and not wanting white males crowding the press tour…and then we had Brie’s speech at the Oscars.

black panther and king T'Challa
Inclusivity also means white males count too. It means that everyone can have talent. Gender and color should be meaningless, although society isn’t there yet.

I mean, I get it. This is 2019 and a highly politicized era. The world is pushing for more representation of people of color, and of women. That is all admirable and great things to work towards. But it’s not really the fault that white men today — and film critics and reporters — are white males. It could be argued that news organizations and film review publishers are at fault. It could also be argued there simply aren’t as many women and people of color that want to be film critics and reporters. Not that there shouldn’t be: just that it is up to the individuals to want to do that job, and to be good enough to get the job.

Despite my Hispanic surname, I am a white male. It’s yet to be decided if I am good enough at writing and critiquing to be doing it. (This is my second attempt in the area. The first being my thoughts on the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame. And while this review may be published, I could very well be uninvited or ignored in the future.) But is it my fault that I’m not a person of color? That I would have an opinion on entertainment? That the RunPee Family noticed a theory of mine in a discussion on their Facebook page?

My point is that it really shouldn’t matter what ethnicity or gender a person is. What should matter is whether what they have to say is worthy of publication. People of color are just as capable as any white man of having thoughts on any subject. The question is how many of them practice the craft, and pursue a job or freelance work in that field. The more of them that do so, the more of them there will be in the field. It takes time.

So, I was less excited about going to see the movie than I was just a few months ago. But I still wanted to see it. I still wanted to add more MCU canon to my brain. I wanted to give the movie a chance.

A Captain Marvel Review (with mild spoilers)

captain-marvelI’m glad I did. The movie was, in my white male opinion, a success. Is it as good as Black Panther or DC’s Wonder Woman? No. But it is a decent movie.

The origin story is fleshed out through the movie. Sometimes in jarring, unexpected flashbacks. Other times, in ways that make perfect sense for the flow of the movie.

There is some decent comedy sprinkled throughout. The best of which came from Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D Nick Fury, and his interactions with Goose, the brilliant ginger cat that steals every scene s/he purrs into.

Likewise, the seeming antagonistic Skrulls were a good source of humor. The titular hero, on the other hand…Brie’s acting in the comedic bits was…unconvincing. She seemed kind of stiff when it came to cracking puns back at her co-stars. I’m not saying I didn’t get her jokes, or that I didn’t laugh. I did. It was just a bit delayed in comparison with the other funny parts. I think the exception is when she crashes to Earth near the beginning of the film. The stiff acting actually made sense, and made for decent humor when she asked if the human security officer understood her. When she asks for a communication source and he points at Radio Shack — here it worked.

The action is typical Marvel quality with good choreography and CGI special effects. The overwhelming powers Carol Danvers wields is made crystal clear when she breaks free of the Kree binds, and confronts her former team.

I was somewhat disappointed that she didn’t fight and overcome Jude Law’s character in a non-powered exhibition at the end. She basically pulls an Indiana Jones pistol shot, on the bad guy with a sword in the courtyard in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was worth a short chuckle. But it would have been awesome to see her best him in the hand to hand combat they were practicing early on. Then Ronan’s reaction when Carol blasts her way through one of the enemy ships was also a chuckle-worthy bit. It was all fairly anti-climactic in my estimation, though.

gregg clarke as agent coulson in captain marvel
A digitally de-aged Agent Coulson. They de-aged Nick Fury too.

The CGI to make Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg look younger is a tough cookie. Fury looked pretty good — maybe a little plastic or rubbery. But Coulson…he just looked weird and inconsistent. The facial CGI is still a technology that needs to improve. Forward and backward in age…

The film was touted as being a very feminist movie. Everyone from Larson to Kevin Feige made a point to advertise it as the first female MCU hero movie. The trailers etched the tag line in our heads. “Her” flashing into, “A Hero”.

Then we saw the mantra heavily repeated during the Super Bowl Captain Marvel trailer saying “Higher, Further, Faster.” And the flashbacks of authority figures telling the younger Carol what she should, and shouldn’t — or can’t be doing — and her exclamation of “I’m kind of done with you telling me what I can’t do.” The theme isn’t bad. In fact it’s a great theme that should help uplift girls and women everywhere. Sadly, I think the film falls short of that message overall.

There are flashbacks to Carol’s time as a human child, teen, and young adult, where we see her father and other authorities telling her negative things: what was shown in that Superbowl trailer, but sprinkled throughout the film. Then we see all of those flashbacks at once, just before she realizes her full power.

But the theme wasn’t played up enough to amount to anything more that this one person saying that, yes, she can. Carol never sits down and tells little Monica to never let anyone hold her back. That Monica, and by extension all girls, can do what they want if they put their minds to it. If they push past their own limits and do what others say they can’t: this is a missed opportunity in my opinion.

Women Superhero Films Today

This missed opportunity kind of negates the leftist politics and feminist push from the PR campaign before the film released. The politics aren’t in your face. That makes this a fairly typical Marvel movie.

LEGO 2 - Wonder Woman
Even Legos deserve our respect.

It’s actually an interesting comparison with Wonder Woman. Ultimately both films center on each franchise’s first female-hero led film. Both show awesome, bad-ass women kicking butt and proving that women make excellent warriors. Both are origin stories. Both are prequels to a larger universe. But they both left me in different places. We knew more or less what was next for Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, because what was next was actually shown to us before, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

What’s next for Captain Marvel is a bit of a mystery still. We know she will be in next month’s Avengers: Endgame. But since we haven’t seen that movie yet, and we expect her in it, this story feels incomplete to me. Yes, she completed her objective for this movie. But we’re left wanting more in a different way than Wonder Woman. I think part of this is because of the mid-credits scene which shows us a flash-forward to the post-Thanos-Snap world. It leaves us by teasing us.

justice league superhero characters
Oh yeah, Wonder Woman is in there. It’s a start.

Another difference between the two comics movies is the pre-release marketing. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall Wonder Woman being pushed as a feminist film. Gal Gadot certainly didn’t politicize the press tour. The film quite simply introduced us to a strong female hero that didn’t dwell on her peers telling her she cant do this or that. She rolls her eyes and puts on the trench coat to cover her armored body. She hears the entrenched soldiers saying they can’t push forward, and picks up her shield, climbs the ladder and says “Follow me!” She just did it.

DC didn’t push the film as an empowerment story for women in the way that Marvel did with Captain Marvel. They both ultimately present that theme successfully. But one alienated a large portion — possibly a majority — of the fan-base. The other didn’t. That only hurts the film early on, because, again, I am a part of that portion of the fan-base that was targeted and putt-off, and I ended up enjoying the movie.

My Captain Marvel Movie Grade

On a 1-10 scale, I’d give Captain Marvel an 8/10 or a B grade.

captain marvel
Captain Marvel herself.

Much of Brie Larson’s acting just seemed stiff and un-involved. Some of this could be the idea that she’s on an unknown, forgotten world, and as an alien she doesn’t know how to behave around humans. But that idea slips away with her relative comfort working with Fury, where she still seems like she has a board strapped to her back. (Maybe its the costume? But no; she’s in normal human clothes for a lot of this bit.)

Overall, I’d say this movie is worth a theatrical viewing. Boycotting a box office ticket for it because of the recent politics is only keeping you from adding to the Avengers canon. The movie isn’t blatantly political or anti-white male. I might go see it in theater again, in a few weeks, when the theater isn’t packed with other people…before Endgame.

Christopher Estrada: “Take a look at my first e-book An Abducted Date. The book is available for free in all e-book formats. So anyone using a Kindle, Ipad, Tablet, Sony Reader, Nook, or Kobo e-reading device can enjoy. Also available as PDF format for reading on a computer! Read and Review!”

Movie Review – Captain Marvel – A Pretty Good Origin Story

Movie Review – Avengers Infinity War – An Unrivaled Marvel Epic

A Slightly More Than Casual Fan’s Reaction to Avenger 4 Trailer 1

Avengers 4 Endgame – First Trailer Review

Movie Review – Captain Marvel – A Pretty Good Origin Story

Movie Review - Captain MarvelI’ve seen Captain Marvel twice now, and can honestly say I enjoyed it more the second time around. With my initial impressions I gave the movie a B. I’m bumping it up to a B+ now.

As a big Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, I think the most useful rating is to place it along with all the other 20+ MCU movies. Personally, I don’t dislike any of the movies, so the worst ones are still decent. But there are clearly the best of the best, the really good ones, and just good groupings.

In no particular order, I’d say the best of the MCU best are:

Avengers (the first one), Infinity War, GotG, GotG2, Thor: Ragnarok, Civil War, and Age of Ultron.

You’ll notice that all of these are ensemble movies, and none of them are an origin story, unless you consider that the first Avengers movie is a quasi-origin story for the ensemble.

When I look over that list, I can’t say that Captain Marvel can bump any of the top tier of MCU movies out, but it’s close…very close.

How Was Brie Larson as Captain Marvel?

I think Brie Larson did an adequate job with her character, but it’s going to take time to see if she can really “own” the role of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. However, the action scenes lacked a certain physical presence I think the role requires. Personally, I wish they had chosen Blake Lively for the role. She has the snarkiness — and definitely the physical presence —  to express Captain Marvel. I hope in time Brie can show us she was the right choice, but for now, I think the jury is still out. Let’s see how she measures up when she’s grouped with the other Avengers going forward.

The humor in Captain Marvel is good. It’s nothing like either of the Guardians movies, or Ragnarok, but there are still plenty of good laughs to be had.

I love the way the story gives us not only Captain Marvel’s origin, but also Fury’s. That was deftly handled.

What I liked most about the movie was the theme of the story. (Which I can’t really get into without mentioning spoilers.  Click on the spoiler tag below only if you’ve seen the film.)

Captain Marvel Spoilers

Click here to read further: spoilers
Without coming across as preachy, the story deftly explores how important it is to always question one’s allegiances.

Early in the movie Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) says, “Know your enemy. It might just be you.” We later learn the statement is literally true, when Marvel discovers she’s fighting on the wrong side of an unjust war.

There is a scene early in the movie that foreshadows Marvel’s change of allegiance, when Agent Coulson lowers his weapon and allows Fury and Marvel to escape. That not only sets the stage for putting Coulson on Fury’s map as his “one good eye” (a line from the original Avengers) but in a conversation shortly after that, Fury tells Marvel that what Coulson did –listening to his gut — is a hard thing to do, but that’s what makes us human.

MCU movies have also explored this idea with Captain America. He starts out as the dedicated patriot, and evolves into a fugitive from the very same authority that created him.

I personally find it ironic that society/authority/governments continually preach loyalty and patriotism. Essentially encouraging citizens to offer robotic support, while the computers we create are becoming more adept at questioning, understanding, and adapting. What makes us human — humanity — may soon be the purview of our creations.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: Overall, all 3 Peetimes are pretty good. I would recommend the 1st Peetime over the others. It’s very easy to get caught up on what happened. The 3rd Peetime is almost as good, but includes a little humor. The 2nd Peetime is almost all dialog so it has a longer than average synopsis.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Captain Marvel. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero,

The Four Films You Need To Watch To Understand Captain Marvel (Speculation, Pre-Movie Release)

gregg clarke as agent coulson in captain marvel
A digitally de-aged Agent Coulson. They de-aged Nick Fury too. Can they do this for me?

Right, I know, Captain Marvel hasn’t come out yet — but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest a few films you should watch to understand what the deal is with Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, and the state of the MCU. If you’re not a rabid Marvel fan, or just need a refresher, you can get ready with just four MCU films. (Or three films and two short videos, if you’re short on time.)

In a real way, audiences are lucky with Captain Marvel — it’s a relatively painless entry point for an MCU movie.

By this, I mean you don’t need to sit down this week and watch the 20+ movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Captain Marvel (the film) goes back in time to the 90s, making it essentially the chronologically first film in the Avenger timeline. (Ignore for now that Captain America – The First Avenger started around World War 2…)

So, you’re off the hook for this film in a way you CAN’T be for the spring 2019 release of Avengers 4 – End Game. End Game will require audiences to be on their toes and completely up to date. As the title suggests, it’s the culmination of a long ranging plan. Ten years of movies! And it will be over three hours long, so you’ll need our Peetimes for it.

For Captain Marvel, these are my guesses to understand the events we’re about to see (links go to RunPee’s movie reviews):

  1. Avengers 1 – Avengers Assemble – This movie best establishes the characters of Nick Fury and Agent Phil Coulson, who should have major roles in the Captain Marvel story. Also, this movie is a great entry point to explain who the Avengers are without having to watch every individual origin story. And there’s this: where was Captain Marvel during the Battle of New York? I’m hoping the upcoming film explains why Fury didn’t see fit contact her then, or ever, until Infinity War.
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1 – You need to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 1 to understand the cosmic end of the Marvel universe, see who the Kree  are, what Xandar is about, and get a proper introduction to Ronan The Accuser. Of all the movies on this list, GOTG 1 is probably the most crucial to view. Fortunately, this kick-ass film is always a crowd-pleaser.
  3. Avengers 3 – Infinity War – Why does Fury carry that pager around for decades and only use it now? This is the only story that refers to Captain Marvel explicitly. We still don’t know how she fits in. I’m going to warn you: Infinity War is a HUGE film, with its own list of must-preview movies. I dithered about putting this on the list, to be honest. If you’re a complete novice to the MCU, I recommend you skip it. You’d be hopelessly lost. Just watch the end credit scene, provided here (a MUST):
  4. Ant-Man & The Wasp – This one contains the most speculation on my part. Will Ant Man and crew even show up in Captain Marvel? Probably not. But since Time Vortices are mentioned, and the Quantum Realm might play a role in Captain Marvel’s story, this might be worth watching. It’s still on Netflix, so grab it while you can (before Disney pulls all the Marvel films off onto their own subscription streaming channel). Captain Marvel is supposed to have time travel in it. If you can’t get your hands on the Time Stone, the Quantum Realm is the next best place place to look, and only the guys in Ant-Man know about it. So far.

I also have another movie in mind worth viewing, but mentioning it would be a complete spoiler if the rumors are true. This particular superhero is covered in Infinity War anyway, so it’s fine to skip it. I think. (Remember, this is a speculation article.)

UPDATE after seeing Captain Marvel: I was thinking above that the Dr. Strange movie would be a part of the Captain Marvel story. It wasn’t. But it’s one of the Marvel films that has time travel as a major component…so it’s possible that Strange and Marvel get together to save the day in Avengers – Endgame. Actually, who are we kidding? Let’s just say it’s going to happen. 

Update: Watch a Short MCU Video About Agent Phil Coulson for Free, Now

  • A Funny Thing Happened…I found a handful of super short Marvel Cinematic Universe one-offs this week, and sat down to watch them all. It didn’t take long, and they don’t offer many hints on the MCU, to be honest. But there’s one you MUST see before Captain Marvel if you don’t know much about the main characters. Watch these few fun minutes of Agent Phil Coulson in his Thor years, in a short called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer: 

After Captain Marvel comes out, we can see how close my guesses are. What do you think?

Coming Soon – Peetimes for Captain Marvel

Quiz – Brie Larson – The New Captain Marvel and Beyond

1st Captain Marvel Trailer Finally Drops – Comments and Speculation

The Quantum Realm in Ant-Man 2 Offers Answers for Avengers 4

10 Ways Ant Man Could Escape the Quantum Realm

All The Stars – End Credits Song from Black Panther – Video and Lyrics

black panther and king T'Challa
All The Stars from Black Panther is one hell of a great song.

Up for Best Original Song at the Oscars this year, All The Stars from Black Panther is looking very good. It’s up against the big contender Shallow from A Star Is Born, but it could certainly bring in a win if the Academy sees fit to go in a different direction from their usual drama-type film awards. All The Stars is a great song — very inspiring — and while I’m biased by being a total science fiction geek, I’d love to see something in my genre of choice actually win this time.

Here’s that gorgeous Black Panther end credits video, and the lyrics from All The Stars, just to get you excited and happy. You’re welcome. 🙂


All The Stars

(Sung by Kendrick Lamar, SZA)

Love, let’s talk about love
Is it anything and everything you hoped for?
Or do the feeling haunt you?
I know the feeling haunt you

This maybe the night that my dreams might let me know
All the stars are closer, all the stars are closer, all the stars are closer
This maybe the night that my dreams might let me know
All the stars are closer, all the stars are closer, all the stars are closer

Tell me what you gon’ do to me
Confrontation ain’t nothin’ new to me
You can bring a bullet, bring a sword
Bring a morgue, but you can’t bring the truth to me
Fuck you and all your expectations
I don’t even want your congratulations
I recognize your false confidence and calculated promises all in your conversation
I hate people that feel entitled
Look at me crazy ’cause I ain’t invite you
Oh, you important?
You the moral to the story, you endorsing?
Motherfucker, I don’t even like you
Corrupt a man’s heart with a gift
That’s how you find out who you dealin’ with
A small percentage, who I’m building with
I want the credit if I’m losing or I’m winning
On my momma that’s the realest shit

Girl, let’s talk about love
Is it anything and everything you hoped for?
Or do the feeling haunt you?
I know the feeling haunt you

This maybe the night that my dreams might let me know
All the stars are closer, all the stars are closer, all the stars are closer
This maybe the night that my dreams might let me know
All the stars are closer, all the stars are closer, all the stars are closer

Skin covered in ego
Get to talkin’, I get involved, like a rebound
No control, no off switch in the way that you bringing me down
It’s a turn on, get it away from me
Know you mean wrong, keep away from me
And it’s all wrong, get it away from me, yeah
I just cry for no reason, I just pray for no reason
I just thank for the life, for the day, for the hours and another life breathin’
I did it all ’cause it feel good
You could live it all if you feel bad
Better live your life
We are running out of time

Love, let’s talk about love
Is it anything and everything you hoped for?
Or do the feeling haunt you?
I know the feeling haunt you

This maybe the night that my dreams might let me know
All the stars are closer, all the stars are closer, all the stars are closer
This maybe the night that my dreams might let me know
All the stars are closer, all the stars are closer, all the stars are closer…

(Songwriters: Alexander William Shuckburgh / Kendrick Lamar / Mark Anthony Spears / Solana I. Rowe / Anothony Tiffith. All The Stars lyrics 2018 © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.)

…Did you know? Black Panther is the world’s ninth-highest-grossing film of all time. From the wikipedia.org


Movie Review – Black Panther – One Incredible Party

A Black Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther

How to Dress Like You’re From Wakanda in Black Panther

Is Bumblebee a prequel or a reboot?

bumblebee is a quiet and yellow transformer bot
Everyone’s favorite Transformer Bot.

Prequel or reboot. Or, soft-reboot — whatever that is.  Just where does Bumblebee fit in the Transformers universe?

Officially, Bumblebee is a prequel, set in 1987. But when you watch the movie you better wear your best retcon glasses, because there’s a lot that just can’t fit with the story we already know. For instance: in the first 2007 Transformers, Sector 7 discovers the existence of Transformers (from the Beagle 2 Rover camera footage three years earlier). So, there’s that. And obviously, there’s no reference to Bumblebee’s 20 years of experience here on Earth.

[pullquote]The news is that Paramount and Hasbro would like to build a shared cinematic universe around Transformers, G.I. Joe, and maybe even pull in the Micronauts and Visionaries.[/pullquote]

This is an ongoing issue that all franchises face. It’s very easy for them to collapse under their own limitations. I’m not sure why anyone is even debating the issue. It isn’t like all the Transformer movies up to now aren’t already forgettable.  Just sweep them under the rug and start over.

All of the previous Transformer movies clearly tried to be gigantic ensemble high-stakes epics. (That’s what Michael Bay does.) [pullquote position=”right”]What Marvel taught us is it’s best to lead up to that ensemble epic with a few stories that build the foundation first.[/pullquote]

Maybe they are taking the same approach with Bumblebee, to start small and build up to an epic. We’re on-board.

Movie Review – Bumblebee

Review: Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen

Movie Review – Once Upon A Deadpool

 

Movie Review - Once Upon A DeadpoolThe Deadpool Before Christmas was hard to grade. I had to wonder if it’s better than the original Deadpool 2, if it added anything impressive to the canon, and if it’s worth spending your cash on what amounts to a re-tread of the same movie you saw last summer.

For real Deadpool fans, this is a must-see limited edition special event. Even for Princess Bride fans, you’ve got to get yourself out to see the painstakingly recreated bedroom for Fred Savage’s character, and to listen to him telling off Deadpool over the course of the film.

Also, Savage really wants to “fight” Matt Damon. As in REALLY REALLY, although it might not be “fight” so much as “f@ck”…if you’ve seen the Sarah Silverman parody song about Matt Damon, followed by the segue about Ben Affleck, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’re old enough to permit some cussing in your humor, go look for it. Otherwise, ask your parents for some help.

The added Princess Bride footage was swell, from opening scene til the penultimate extra where Fred is finally permitted to go home. I wish there was more. The entire last third of the film had me waiting impatiently for new footage. My thought is that by then, the producers didn’t want to cut into the flow of the actual Deadpool story, but screw that — I came for more of the new wacky goodness.

One thing I found disappointing was how seamless the dirty language was. Instead of hearing some cool, really bizarre dubs, I barely noticed this was PG-13. I figured Deadpool would insert fun weirdo ‘curses’, like “you dirty hamburger monkey” for PG-13 friendly curses (shit and bitch are apparently okay, ya’ll), but, again, I didn’t notice the lack of the really R rated words. The ONLY fun cussing scene is the above-mentioned Matt Damon sequence with Deadpool bleeping out “fight.” Try not to run and pee then!

Also fun were a couple of scenes where certain body parts were pixellated. One in particular was super-maxi handy, since eyeball bleach can be hard to come by.

I also noticed a few neat things I missed on my previous DP2 viewing. One is all the insistence on DP’s part that he’s in a Marvel film. Also, as he talks to Juggernaut: “The sun is getting really low, big guy,” which is a certain someone’s sweet way to talk down The Hulk in another franchise. And, the dial we keep seeing Deadpool use “goes up to 11”, as we’re told in another old classic film: This Is Spinal Tap.

So, yeah. A few gory/graphic moments were cut, and some barely cleaner language was inserted, but this is absolutely the same DP2 you saw before, with 15 minutes of Princess Bride mashup interspersed.

Some people complained this was just a cash-grab by Fox and Marvel, but it’s still a unique way to re-package old material…plus Ryan Reynolds insisted a portion of the proceeds go to a “Fudge Cancer” charity…so you can feel good plopping out your money for this particular grab.

One last point: all the amazing cameos from the original DP2 are still in play. Dan’s first review of DP2 lists them all, so I’m not going to retread that — I just linked to his review. Sound good?

Last, last, last note: DO NOT LEAVE UNTIL IT SEEMS LIKE THE LIGHTS WILL BE COMING BACK UP. You’ll kick yourself if you miss the final cameo. Trust.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: Don’t use the original Deadpool 2 Peetime information. This PG-13 special has an extra 15 minutes of story footage, and a new extra scene after the credits. This version has different Cue times. In certain places I listed NEW scenes, in case you don’t want to hit the bathroom for those. The 2nd Peetime was recommended in the original Deadpool 2, but I removed that because it has a NEW scene in it. I listed the 1st Peetime as recommended instead, because it was easy to sum up and gives you an extra minute if you need it. Try to use it proactively! 🙂

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Once Upon A Deadpool. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Deadpool PG-13 wants to Cure Cancer with Your Movie Money

Deadpool 2 is a christmas treat -- bring it!
It’s about fighting cancer, the true villain. Fudge Cancer!

According to the Wikipedia, the PG-13 holiday special of The Deadpool Before Christmas only happened because Reynolds insisted charities should benefit. Awwww! I never knew Reynolds was secretly a sweetheart, but maybe we should have guessed it: he’s confirmed Deadpool is indeed a member of the Hogwarts House Hufflepuff, where wizards are loyal, kind, hardworking, and dedicated…and they also value justice. Sounds like a certain man in a red suit we all love. By which I mean Santa, but Deadpool qualifies too.  😉

Plus, the Hufflepuff House icon is the Badger, and we all know Honey Badger kicks some serious animal butt.

The Wikipedia says: Reynolds only agreed to support a PG-13 version of the film if a portion of the release’s profit went to charity; Fox agreed to donate $1 for every ticket purchased for the film to the Fuck Cancer charity campaign, which would be temporarily renamed “Fudge Cancer” for the fundraising tie-in. At the end of November, writer and artist Michael Vincent Bramley noted that he had pitched the exact framing device that was being used for this version of the film to Reynolds on Twitter in December 2017. Within a day, Bramley had been contacted by Reynolds to discuss the issue and said, “It seems like this may all just have been a big, insane coincidence and I’m happy to leave it at that.” 

So this is an example of a blockbuster movie you can feel good shilling out a few hard-earned clams for. Maximum effort, you know. Let’s all shout it: FUDGE CANCER!

Seen this lately? (Never corner a Hufflepuff. Not even at Christmas, because Honey Badger Don’t Care. You’re welcome.)

I’m heading out to get Peetimes for The Deadpool Before Christmas now. So  between the charity aspect and the Peetimes, there’ll be no excuse not to miss this limited edition of Deadpool 2 on the big screen!

The Deadpool Before Christmas

The Deadpool Before Christmas – A PG-13 Version: New Footage, New Film

Movie Rewatch Review – Deadpool

Movie Review – Aquaman

Movie Review - AquamanWhat does DC have to do to shake off the feeling that it’s the poor man’s Marvel?

For starters: make better movies.

I’m not saying Aquaman is bad. Far from it. It’s a decent movie despite being as predictable as it is visually appealing. But it’s no better than the first Thor movie. Which would be fine if Aquaman came out a decade ago. Unfortunately, Marvel beat them to the punch. DC is trying to find their feet while Marvel is breaking Olympic records.

Here’s my best guess why Aquaman doesn’t soar: it just doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s an origin story for sure, but not much of one. For such a long movie, the origin of Aquaman only comes up in a few brief flashbacks and only one of them — when he’s a young boy — really works.

There’s a little romance, which is fine, but the timing of the scenes are completely wrong.

Then there’s a few scenes that feel like they were stolen from a National Treasure sequel.

The worst part of all of this is the inclusion of Black Manta. I don’t know why the writers felt compelled to throw this character into the story, because it only drags the plot beneath the waves.

All of this happens in the middle third of the movie, robbing the plot of any real dramatic weight when it needs it the most.

It looks like the creative decision makers behind the DC movies heard the criticism about their previous movies being too dark, and decided to “lighten things up a bit.” All I can say is it’s just not that easy. The audience needs a feeling of impending doom so the story grabs them, but there’s also a time and place for the distractions that make a story memorable.

That’s why DC movies are like a mixed salad of moments while Marvel serves a complex meal, where each serving is meant to compliment the others.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes. We recommend the 2nd and 3rd over the others. The 2nd Peetime is a chase scene — pretty — but nothing you haven’t seen in previous scenes. The 3rd is mostly a music montage, followed by a transitional plot that’s easy to summarize.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Aquaman. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Why Newt Scamander is a Fantastic, Yet Underrated Hero

newt scamander in fantastic beasts where to find them crimes of grindelwald
Not the usual male protagonist, but my new favorite hero.

Not every hero has to fit the typical mold we’re so very used to in epic storytelling. It’s always either the manly man’s man who is the big, strong, authoritative handsome guy, like Thor and Captain Kirk. (This really doesn’t even have to be a man — look at fighters like Black Widow and Wonder Woman — but we’re going to focus this piece on men, because it’s specifically about Newt Scamander from the Wizarding World’s Fantastic Beasts series.)

Or the protagonistic hero is frequently The Chosen One, who is “Called to the Quest” by nature of birthright or a unique ability, like Harry Potter himself, Luke Skywalker of Tatooine, Paul Atreides of Dune, Neo from the Matrix, or even pint-sized Frodo of the Shire.

[pullquote]Some men like Thor, Hercules, and King Arthur fit both the strong fighting man and Chosen One categories. It’s a very well-worn premise.[/pullquote] These heroes fit the archetype most clearly defined by Joseph Campbell’s Journey of the Hero.

The third most common kind of male hero is a leader by nature of being the smartest, most talented guy in any room, like Captain Picard, Dumbledore, Gandalf, or Dr. Strange.

There’s also a fourth common heroic category: the lovable rogue with a heart of gold. Mal from Firefly, Han Solo of Star Wars, and Starlord from the Marvel Universe nestle right in there.  Iron Man may be more smartass than badass, but he fits the mold, along with being super smart like Dr. Strange (and to wit, in his words: genius, billionaire, philanthropist.)

I freely love these heroes, these ‘accepted’ stereotypes. I grew up adoring them and never thought much about it before.

[pullquote position=”right”]So what about the humble, good-natured, perhaps shy man, exhibiting gentleness and compassion?[/pullquote] His skill sets usually don’t include fighting; he isn’t of noble birth, and is actually not interested in the big events of the world except as they effect his personal goals: in Newt’s case, communing with and conserving the endangered magical creatures of the world first, and secondly, to find his girlfriend and help her (she is the one actually interested in fighting Grindelwald).  I’m not sure he even believes in evil at all: he says he doesn’t choose sides, and twice ignores Dumbledore’s behest to take the safe house card in Paris.

[pullquote]I think an attempt was made in Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald to have Dumbledore retcon Newt into being a sort of Chosen One[/pullquote], in the mold of Frodo Baggins (“You’re a man with no lust for power, so you’re the only one who can do this…blah blah bah” I was pleased to see Newt still wanted none of it).

This video below by Pop Culture Detective came highly recommended to me by several RunPee fans, most of them, happily, from men. And it’s AWESOME.

If you read the comments, it’s clear there’s room out there for exactly this kind of protagonist among the male gender. I applaud every bit of it. I’ve loved Newt Scamander as a new kind of protagonist as soon as I realized his social awkwardness likely stemmed from a bit of Asperger’s Syndrome: he approaches people (save his very, very few friends) in the same way one would a dangerous animal, in a submissive posture with almost no eye contact. And yet he comes alive most when he’s loving on the fantastic beasts in both the magical suitcase and his wonderful zoo-like apartment. Freddy Redmayne is astounding as Newt. The video below shows a few clips that can’t not make you go Awwwwwww.

I hope Newt isn’t marginalized as the series plows on. We have three more films of which he is the intended main character. But from his unusual nature, even JK Rowling worries he might be pushed aside for more typical male heroes to assume the center spot.

Do you believe we have room in the world of epic genre entertainment for a gentle, quiet, and unassuming male figure to remain in the center of political intrigue, wizardly power plays and world-dominating plots? Do you like Newt at all? Please use the comments section below.

 

Why Fantastic Beasts 2 is not so Fantastic

poster for Fantastic Beasts the Crimes of Grindelwald
Who are all of these PEOPLE?

I feel like a guilty Gryffindor, A Harry Potter heel, and a bad geek, because I have such confused thoughts about Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald. I’m supposed to love it: I’m a crazy fan for everything Harry Potter. I even came around on the first Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them — which I had mixed feelings about originally . So, surely it will be the same for me on Crimes of Grindelwald, right? Right??

Truth be told, while my immediate review/reaction was less than stellar, I liked it a WHOLE lot more on my 2nd and 3rd viewings. I considered changing my review, and even bumped it up a few grades. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling there was a lot inherently wrong with CoG. It reminded me, unfortunately, of my experience viewing  Star Wars: The Last Jedi, another very pretty but deeply flawed movie. Yikes.

So I sat on it and let things digest in my brain, avoiding other people’s reviews. Until last night. That’s when I took to You Tube to see if my perspective was just dead wrong. WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Turns out: no. I mean, I’m right. The other Potterheads are just as confused and butt-hurt too. Attached are some of the best video breakdowns of why CoG failed, based on impossible inconsistencies within JK Rowling’s OWN canon, in small part — and in just weird cinematic storytelling, in large part.

large cast in fantastic beasts 2
This isn’t even everyone.

To wit: who ARE all these characters? Why should we care about the endless in-depth backstories and reveals of folks we’ve never met, some of which die right there in the same film? In Avengers: Infinity War, by comparison, it took 18 films to earn their immense casting roundup. In-Universe, The climactic Battle of Hogwarts was full of characters we knew and loved — absolutely LOVED, and died, and #YesDamnYouJK for breaking my heart there.

It doesn’t help that CoG undid the main emotional beats of the previous film in the second (also recalling The Last Jedi. #WTG).

As for the eponymous Grindelwald, we don’t get to see a lot of actual crimes. He orders the killing of one family (and their toddler child, which, yes, bad)…and, um, boots his faithful lizard to its death out the prison carriage for the ‘crime’ of being affectionate…and, hmm. Escapes from  prison, sort of, though it seems he maybe wasn’t in it…? The whole breakout scene was unclear. He bothers to save the life of one of his jailers, which I found a nice enough gesture.  He also holds a rally protesting the Holocaust. This is the most evil wizard of his generation, the Big Bad before Voldemort?

man with the eye parasite in Crimes of Grindelwald
“Tentacles”: I don’t remember his deal, either.

While Johnny Depp was never my first choice to play Grindelwald, he wasn’t awful in the part. I think the main flaws in CoG, which are legion, is that half the film was devoted to useless flashbacks and — let’s face it — underwhelming and/or incredibly contrived reveals. Who is Corvus?  (I’ll do you one better: WHY is Corvus?) What is the incredibly tangled Lestrange family tree about and why should we care? Who is Tentacle Guy  — do you remember he was in this film and what his purpose was?

Then there’s this: Credence is a Dumbledore? How does this in any way make sense? It’s like everyone is a Skywalker, all over again.

Even Queenie and Jacob, so reliable in the first Fantastic Beasts, were poorly used here. I see what Rowling was after with Queenie’s arc, but the logic doesn’t stick. You’ll see what I mean in the videos.

Where the film DID shine was three-fold: I continue to love and admire Newt, the fantastic beasts themselves were still a joyous addition to the lore, and Jude Law’s Dumbledore was note-perfect. And I love being among wizards again, especially at Hogwarts, albeit briefly. (Also, Tina’s eyes are like a salamander’s, which is a little bit true, and very cute, and if you think about Newt Scamander’s whole name, it’s essentially “Salamander Salamander”, so Awwwww.)

a cute salamander
How Newt Sees Tina

With no further opinionated grumblings from me, here are the best five reviewer videos breaking down and backing up my fretful thoughts on Fantastic Beasts 2:  (PS: start with the excellent SuperCarlin Brothers, and work your way down. All these videos will take a while to view, and I put them in order of insightfulness in my ranking scale. Your mileage may vary.)

What did you think of this second-of-five installment of Fantastic Beasts? We’ve got a comments section below: please use it.

Lastly, if you’re still reading, here are our RunPee reviews on the two films thus far:

Movie Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts 2 Review from a Harry Potter Novice

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them