Movie Review – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Movie Review - X-Men: Dark PhoenixThe X-Men Universe, produced by 20th Century Fox,  had a twenty year run. Now that it’s over, they should be applauded for the influence they’ve had on the superhero movie genre.

Fox movie assets are now owned by Disney. That means the X-Men can, at some point, be wrapped into the MCU with the Avengers.

Dark Phoenix was produced before the Disney purchase. It was intended to be a bridge between the previous X-Men Universe and a newly imagined X-Men Universe with a new and young generation of mutants. Instead it stands as an unintended swan song to the X-Men as we know them. Which makes it a shame it had to end with such an underwhelming effort.

The Dark Phoenix story is an absurd mess. Let’s start with the villain… Okay, I’m not even sure where to start with that. Never has a superhero villain been so poorly imagined. Vuk, played by Jessica Chastain, has barely more than a cameo role. You wouldn’t even know the villain’s name except it’s shown just once in a subtitle. Even Xavier himself refers to the villain as: that thing, that woman, I don’t know what.

And what do we know about that “spark/solar flair” thing? We get one line of exposition from Vuk: “It’s the spark that brought life to the universe and now goes around destroying planets, including my own.”

What? How does that even make sense? Lazy storytelling much?

Who’s the Villain, Really?

Maybe Vuk and this spark/thing aren’t really the villains. Maybe Jean Grey is the villain. Which could have worked brilliantly if they hadn’t introduced Vuk/spark in the first place. Take the entire alien storyline out and just build up Jean a little more. There’s plenty of material there for us to relate to in our everyday lives, as an “internal demon” takes over a loved one and how their family copes with it, and then reconciles their feelings.

That’s what the X-Men have always represented: family. But in Dark Phoenix they tried to have it both ways, which drowned all the potential this movie started out with.

Grade: D-

About The Peetimes: The movie is full short, choppy, scenes that made it difficult to get good Peetimes. The 2 best Peetimes are the 3rd and 4th. Both work well, but are only around 3 minutes long.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Every X-Men Film Explained

X-Men: Apocalypse (movie review)

X-Men: Days of Future Past – movie review

Movie review : X-Men First Class

Modern Godzilla Movies – Ranking The Monsterverse

I’m not a die-hard Godzilla fan, but I’ve gone on a bit of a giant lizard binge-watch lately. I’m happy to admit Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the best one yet.

Not only did the big beasties get plenty of screentime, but the people plots didn’t entirely suck.

People and entire cities can be megafauna fodder in disaster films, but there also has to be a thoughtful human element where you care — even by a small margin.  Modern audiences demand this, and rightfully, because otherwise you’re essentially watching a long, expensive video game. The previous Godzilla films in 1998 and 2014 plunged into that category — but worse — because boring human drama was shoehorned in to pretend those movies had plots. (Except for through-actor Ken Watanabe — more on him later).

Skipping right to said monstrous animals…

The Big Four Beasties of Godzilla: King of the Monsters

  1. Godzilla — With some new glowy skills and a few adjustments to his appearance, he looks great and is a pleasure to watch in action. Unlike in his 2014 Monsterverse premier, he’s onscreen early and often. Two paws up!
  2. Mothra — She’s my favorite critter.  And….she’s beautiful (think Lunar Moth). Mothra has some very unusual abilities, and isn’t as fragile as expected. I’d love to see her as a mount in some multiverse for Spider-Man. (“There’s a Ant Man, a Spider-Man, AND a Moth!?”)
  3. (King) Ghidorah — Very cool dragon/hydra rival to Godzilla, and even amusing (those heads scrap at each other!), but I’m not happy with his origin-story. That came out of freaking nowhere and felt like the writers couldn’t find a better hinge to hang their new ecosystem from. IDK. Maybe King Ghidorah actually is from [redactated for spoilers] in the legends.
  4. Rodan — The least interesting fellow. I felt bad for Ghidorah stealing his thunder. Rodan came off as a second-string player to give Mothra someone to fight. Someone give this guy something better to do some time.

2014 godzilla breathing fire

And the rest: There was an assortment of junior-grade creatures to fight (17 all together, including Kong on Skull Island), but we only catch them in random moments. One was like a spider; another was a sort-of mastodon. I’d like to see Part Four elevate these guys at the eventual “monster-off” on Skull Island.

The Big Four were great fun. Fab effects, with nice twists and turns in their near-sentient reactions to each other. If the carnage felt too far away and too meager in films before, we got lots and lots of satisfying spectacle this time around.

The People (AKA Happy Meals on Feet)

Lots of goofy one-liners and paper-thin human characterizations populate this over-run Titan world. The father/mother push and pull dynamics have been done and done and done in almost every disaster film. The soldiers do soldiering. Bad guys do ‘badding’. There’s a gratuitous cameo from the previous film. Next, please? 

Finally, we see a couple of grace notes: Ken Watanabe lends his wise gravitas for the sake of actual world-building, and teenage Madison (Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things) provides enough cleverness to make us want to see her live. (This girl can act with her eyes — her career might be worth following). Smart people living/dying tends to get us in the feels, and they carry the human story better than the other modern-era Godzilla people.

Ultimately Watanabe gets a long-awaited beautiful moment with ‘his God’ to show (not tell) that co-existence means salvation.

But it’s all rather small and can’t compete with the big battles above. I appreciated Watanabe’s arc and was just grateful the franchise went somewhere lovely with it.

Godzilla vs The Technobabble

The Orca is a MacGuffin: everyone wants it. The writers did a decent job making said Orca quasi-logical, but the tech is the weakest point of the story. Except for the cool larval Mothra intro, the Orca could have been canned  entirely for something better…for something only hinted at here and there, in terms of ecology, spirituality, and legends.

There were also the expected bombs, subs, planes, and faceless soldiers. Fortunately Gz 2 learned from Gz 1 to keep most of this in the background.

And the least said about the [redacted] Earth Theory, the better. I can buy that in a fantasy film. It felt out of place here.

Let’s try something new with Godzilla. Or old. Just do it well

I still can’t shake the feeling the entire Legendary Monsterverse is riding on the reptilian coat-tails of the Jurassic saga. I kind of wish they would make up their minds to go ALL IN with the coexistence theme (instead of referred to by newspaper clip credits, a storytelling device best used in WALL-E ), or go ahead — take that massive risk about Earth-cleansing and the starting anew theme and sprint with it. Planet of the Apes went there, so this isn’t unprecedented for sci-fi premises.

So, Is Kong in the next Godzilla movie?

Speaking of Apes, yes, Kong is name dropped many times, with a few quick visuals, a blink-and-you-miss it cave painting, and many Easter egg allusions to lead into 2020’s Monsterverse finale: Godzilla vs Kong. I don’t want them to fight though. Aren’t they both “good guys’? Fingers crossed this works out satisfactorily. (And stay through the end credits of King of the Monsters for a possible hint.)

I genuinely liked this Godzilla movie. I wanted more Mothra, but overall, can’t complain.

Grading the modern Godzilla and Monsterverse Flicks

Looking at RunPee’s scores for ‘modern-era’ Godzilla movies, and including Kong: Skull Island as part of this Monsterverse, movie grades have been heading up a steady incline (please click the links to read our reviews on RunPee.com):

1998 Godzilla : D

2014 Godzilla: C

Kong: Skull Island: B-

2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters: B

This bodes well. Maybe the finale to the Godzilla/Kong quadrilogy will hit the A range. For a disaster film, that would be quite a feat. We’ll find out next year. Keep replaying Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla remix to stay excited.

Related, on RunPee:

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

Movie Review – Rocketman

 

Movie Review - RocketmanI had a hard time with this review. Rocketman is both extraordinary (in costuming, sound, and visual sequences) and by-the-numbers (a creative life plagued by inner demons).

Elton John’s musical biopic is a grand fantasy with exciting numbers that feel like a top notch Broadway extravaganza. It’s got great pacing, fun set-pieces, an ideal cast, and a very special find in Taron Egerton.

Egerton looks like John, acts like him — and best of all — sounds like him. Except for the original Elton John song played over the end credits, Egerton does ALL his own singing. That’s no small feat. He’s simply brilliant. Egerton more than inhabits the role.

Taron Edgerton is Elton John in Rocketman
Taron Edgerton is Elton John in Rocketman

Rocketman is also very depressing. John has exactly two people in his life who are nice to him — his grandmother, and his long-time best friend and lyricist, Bernie Taupin. Everyone else is either mildly abusive or very abusive. That isn’t fun to watch. Almost everything between the rollicking tunes is about John’s sorrow, loneliness, obsessions, addictions, self-loathing, and an insane ability to absorb decades of personal torment…but somehow still be a beloved worldwide pop-culture phenomenon.

Was John’s life really this difficult? How much of this tale is true? Or did they make things so awful for John’s film character just to ‘liven things up’?

I don’t think you have to be a personal disaster to be a creative icon. But what do I know?

Since John’s alive (unlike, say, Freddie Mercury), these questions are askable. Reportedly John was so happy with Rocketman that he cried with joy to Egerton after his personal screening. I’d like to know specifically what parts gave him that joy. I just want to know if his life was/wasn’t that awful.

Taron Egerton as Elton John on stage in lights
Our rocketman, in lights.

A friend told me no one wants to watch movies about creative happy people. I’d love to condemn that statement, but I’m also told I have an atypical POV on entertainment. I like to have a fun time at the theater. I want to go home feeling like a damn superhero. If I want turmoil and drama, there’s enough of that in the day-to-day. Or I could simply watch the news.

So, if you’re an emotional sponge who found A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody dismaying, just stay home and watch all your favorite Elton John songs on You Tube. Eventually every cool musical performance by Egerton will appear too, so you can realistically catch 90% of Rocketman for free. (There were so many songs in Rocketman that finding even three non-musical minutes for Peetimes was a challenge.)

But should you see this? Almost every review of Rocketman RAVES on it. It’s super ingenious from start to end. Many sequences are  absolutely in the realm of fantasy, but somehow it all works flawlessly as a biopic. The flick is probably destined to become almost as iconic as the legend himself. Rocketman makes Bohemian Rhapsody look like a documentary.

I’m giving Rocketman a solid A for being so lovingly, thoughtfully, gorgeously made. It’s a remarkable film on many levels — not the least being the framing sequences with John’s outrageous demon costume slowly shedding away, as the inner man reveals himself.

If you can handle intense drug and suicide themes, you’ll enjoy this Elton John tribute. It’s also worth it just for catching Egerton’s performance: there will be awards, without a doubt.

Finally, I’m genuinely happy Elton John is alive to see his film — and if the credit notes are true, things worked out happily in the end.  🙂

Grade: A

RunPee movie meme of rocketman
Fun with the RunPee #MovieMeme. Taron Egerton had literally big shoes to fill, but more than pulled it off in Rocketman.

About The Peetimes: As expected, this was a tough film to find Peetimes for, packed with iconic musical performances and hugely emotional scenes. The first 2 Peetimes are pretty good: I recommend the 2nd at 42 minutes — a nice long break. I avoided any major Elton John songs, as I assume these are what you came to see.

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

Rated (R) for language throughout, some drug use and sexual content
Genres: Biography, Drama, Music

Elton John – Lyrics & Video to Bennie & the Jets

Lyrics & Video to Rocketman by Elton John

Did Rami Malek Sing In Bohemian Rhapsody?

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Thanos SnapNOTE: Spoilers start right away for Avengers: Endgame.

Although it’s a beautiful moment in Avengers: Endgame when Dr. Strange‘s portals opened and The Vanished step back into existence, the sudden return of all these people is very problematic.

Let’s assume for a  minute that Strange’s sorcerers planned ahead and saved all the people in planes from falling from the sky, teleporting them to safe landings. And so on for any Earthly or cosmically-based beings whose sudden reappearance would mean imminent death. I mean, if Strange can look into 14 million + lifetimes in the course of moments, I’ll buy that he planned ahead for these literal car-wrecks, and many other contingencies too.

Captain America returned the Time Stone to the Sorcerer Supreme’s custody at the end of Endgame, so The Ancient One and Strange have an infinite amount of time to make sure the Endgame strategy didn’t cause a brand new Decimation.

But what then? What happens after The Snap is Unsnapped?

When the Infinity War saga finally ends and people try to go home, where do they go? It’s been five years. That’s quite a bit of time. Most people won’t have homes to return to. What happens when you find your house/palace/apartment/shack occupied by other people? What are the legalities of this? What would Judge Judy do? We have no precedent to fall back on. It’s not like people weren’t paying their rent because they lost their jobs — they were literally snuffed out and in of existence.

And as for returning to their families, that’s a can of worms even Ant-Man can’t open. When Hank Pym brought his wife back, he hadn’t moved on. Hope grew up in the interim, which was fine, but Janet was a welcome addition, not an interloper to someone’s new family. Hawkeye might now be five years older compared to his wife and kids, but he still had their house and hadn’t moved on either.

So — best case scenario for those returned is their loved ones pined away for half a decade, and now have huge mental traumas to process from living in the post-Snap world. Best case.

Worst case: their loved ones suddenly (from their POV) have new mates and children and are stuck with no one to help them re-assimilate into society. I doubt our world governments (outside of Wakanda) will do much besides creating homeless shelters and long food lines. Jobs will be gone. Society’s infrastructure won’t run right for years. The aftereffects of this kind of world-wide/universe-wide event should reverberate for at least a generation.

How does Spider-Man: Far From Home deal with the new reality?

This barely touches on the problems inherent in the Avengers’ plan to “bring them back, whatever it takes.”  Spider-Man 2: Far From Home (coming out this July) will delve into some of this. Far From Home is the last film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three.

Honestly, I don’t see how Far From Home can do these issues justice. Sure, they will make some nod to the problems in the beginning of the film. But keep in mind this is a SPIDER-MAN movie, with all the humor and hijinks we expect from Peter Parker & Gang (all conveniently also Snapped, and thus still in high school).

Spending the entire next blockbuster showing how people will be housed and fed and have their property returned wouldn’t be much fun.

This video raises some good questions about how our planet would deal with the return of billions of people, and even touches on the deep items of religion and spirituality that would be affected when our understanding of death is irrevocably changed:

PS: Black Panther 2 – Who is King in Wakanda?

One great side question asked in this video: who’s been running Wakanda for the past five years? I always assumed Shuri would take up the mantle, until it was revealed in the Endgame trailers she was Snapped too. And if someone like M’Baku became King, are there any heart-shaped herbs left to give him Black Panther powers? Either way, does T’Challa automatically become King again (heartfelt Endgame coda aside)? Let’s assume Black Panther 2 deals with this. It’s going to be hard to make that interesting, since the first Black Panther movie already tread this ground in some detail.

Related Avengers Articles on RunPee.com

Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

Did YOU Survive The Snap? You may as well get this over with…

Movie Review – Avengers Infinity War – An Unrivaled Marvel Epic

Movie Review – Doctor Strange

Movie Review – Spider-Man Homecoming

Movie Review – Ant-Man and the Wasp

Movie Review – Black Panther – One Incredible Party

Black Panther – Does Killmonger Have a Point?

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

The trailers for the new Godzilla movie have been amazing, but the marketing campaign isn’t the clearest.  What’s there to know besides the fact that awesome-looking monsters are going to destroy things for our entertainment?  

For the true movie lover? Plenty. Here are the connections they aren’t advertising.

There’s a Monster Universe.

Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers created what they are calling the Monsterverse.  Godzilla, King Kong, and some recognizable others are part of this universe.

Godzilla – King of the Monsters is a sequel to Kong – Skull Island.  Sort of.

For unknown reasons, Warner Brothers is not advertising the new movie as a sequel to Godzilla (2014), the first movie in the Monsterverse.  Kong – Skull Island is the second movie in the Monsterverse. It features a cut-scene at the end of the credits where the main characters are told Kong is not the only monster, and then shown archival footage of ancient cave drawings of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and a battle between King Ghidorah and Godzilla. 

The ultimate Godzilla movie is coming next year.

A fourth Monsterverse movie, Godzilla vs. Kong, has been announced for 2020.  I know. I can’t wait either.

Be sure to use the RunPee app for all your monster movie Peetimes, including the upcoming Child’s Play and Annabelle Comes Home. You can also follow us on Twitter @RunPee or on Facebook for the latest movie news.  

Read for more about Godzilla by Golden Man, on his blog Etched in Gold:

All My Questions Answered About the New Godzilla Movie

RunPee’s posts on Godzilla and King Kong:

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – This Godzilla Should Have Been Better

Movie Review of Kong: Skull Island

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

Endgame Pee Planning from Rudd, Ruffalo & RunPee

Paul rudd and mark ruffalo talk endgame
With all due respect to Ant-Man and The Hulk, RunPee has a  better pee strategy for Avengers: Endgame.

Avengers: Endgame is a looooong film. Even the MCU actors are perplexed by fan questions about peeing during their three-hour movie extravaganza. Producer Kevin Feige just claims you can’t leave your seat ever, not at all, and must stay to watch Every. Single. Scene.

Thanks, Feige. This isn’t like some Jedi Mind Trick that works best on the feeble-minded. Marvel fans tend to be more savvy.  But there are ways around this unrealistic edict.

Two Endgame actors came forward to be “helpful”

  • Paul Rudd – Ant-Man – says to pee in your popcorn bucket under the seat.
  • Mark Ruffalo – The Hulk – suggests sitting in your excrement for three hours wearing adult diapers. Which maybe the Big Green Guy would consider, but we doubt Bruce Banner would do it.

I kid you not. Rudd and Ruffalo offered these tidbits on Jimmy Kimmel when asked when to ‘go’ during the three-hour bladder-busting runtime of Avengers: Endgame.

That’s not including the half hour of surely the best trailers to come out this year before the film even starts. So…plan on 3&1/2 hours of butt-time.

More unpleasant pee options for Endgame and your bladder

Besides the clear indication these actors are joking — and besides knowing from personal experience that no adult diaper can contain a FULL BLADDER’s worth of contents (don’t ask) — I wouldn’t try either option. I guess you could insert a catheter and attach a bag to your leg….but…come on. I dare anyone to go that route.

This leaves you either suffering/squirming, or going in absolutely dehydrated, or dementedly sprinting off at what will undoubtedly be the worst moment ever in Endgame’s monumental epic.

How about something easier, more sanitary, with less chance of getting you arrested for public exposure? (Sorry, Paul.)

With respect to Rudd and Ruffalo: may we suggest a third option to the pee bucket and a cold, wet pair of Depends?

RunPee: Because movie theaters don't have pause buttons.Try using the RunPee app instead. Seriously.

RunPee has one mission: to help every bladder on Earth during the movies.  The RunPee Family watches every wide release film on or before opening night, and curates a handful of Peetimes where you can slip out out to the loo, read the brief synopsis of what you missed, and sit back down without ever being confused or missing something crucial.  The app also tells you what happens in the 1st three minutes if  you’re running late, and covers the Extra Scene details, all without spoiling a thing. You’ll know when to go, as the app silently vibrates in your lap. Just grab your cellphone and go.

This is the RunPee app’s 10th Anniversary, so back when Iron Man first woke up in a cave in Afghanistan, RunPee’s been steadily building a library of thousands of Peetimes and movies….including, of course, each film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Avengers Endgame Peetimes will be posted before opening might, with  — in a film this long — several Peetimes to choose from, stretched across the movie.

RunPee is the only realistic option if you want to be comfortable in any long epic movie. Kudos if you can hold it that long with no discomfort, but now you don’t have to. And you can get all the sodas and beer you want, run out to the concession stand for food, or just stretch your legs a minute. All without getting arrested from indecent exposure by peeing in a popcorn bucket…

Learn more about the RunPee App and try it for free. 

Once More, with Ant Man. Why him, and why now?

Mark Ruffalo Sneaks in a Hulk Movie

The 59 Hour MCU Rewatch Marathon Means the RunPee App is a MUST Have for Your Bladder

Learn More About The RunPee App