Movie Spoiler Etiquette – For Avengers Endgame and Beyond

As #FirstWorldProblems go, this one is a biggie: don’t spoil an entertainment experience for others.

If you don’t watch a movie/TV show on opening night you’re taking a huge risk of being spoiled, due to the ubiquity of social media. There are two sides of this to consider: what responsibility lies with the person getting spoiled, and what responsibility lies with the person who does the spoiling?

The heartless person would say:

It’s all on you: if you don’t want to be spoiled, then watch it opening night, or crawl under a rock until you do.

But consider something like Avengers: Endgame. There simply aren’t enough theater seats for every fan to see the opening show, or possibly even on opening weekend at all. So at what point is it ethical for someone to tweet about the fate of our beloved characters?

Quick Aside on Analytics

Movie Opening
weekend %
Jurassic World 38%
Captain Marvel 36%
Infinity War 33%
Deadpool 2 31%
Ant-Man/Wasp 30%
Solo 25%
MI-Fallout 25%
Aquaman 23%
Black Panther 19%
Incredibles 16%

Here is a breakdown of the most popular movies in the RunPee database over the past year and what percentage of RunPee fans — we don’t have users — saw the movie on the opening weekend of its release. (I would project that #AvengersEndgame is going to break 40%.)

Each person has to decide for themselves when it’s appropriate to share spoilers. I would urge restraint. It’s easy enough to express excitement at the outcome without revealing critical spoilers, at least for a few days.

But you really want to share your excitement!

On the other hand, it’s exciting to share this experience as soon as possible, with as many people as possible.  No one is going to see the public premier of  #AvengersEndgame by accident.  Everyone who got tickets had to go out of their way to know when tickets went on sale and planned everything so they could be there. Why should they then sacrifice their excitement for those who clearly don’t want it as much? Now those who aren’t there opening night are spoiling the fun of those who are.

I’ll be there opening night — it’s my job — and I feel the same urge to express my excitement for the outcome. However, I want to respect those who can’t see it opening night.

With that in mind I offer this pledge:

Let’s be fair, the gloves come off once the work week starts after opening weekend. You want to be able to go to work and discuss the outcome with your co-workers, friends, whoever, without worrying about someone in earshot getting upset about being spoiled.

(Although please don’t start a conversation with: can you believe *character name* died? First, ask if they’ve seen Endgame.)

It would be disrespectful of someone to expect you and your friends to contain your excitement for their sake. At this point they should be wearing noise canceling headphones if they care enough about being spoiled, but couldn’t see Endgame on opening weekend.

I would love to hear what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments down below or on Twitter.

Peetimes Coming for Avengers Endgame BEFORE OPENING NIGHT

Avengers Endgame Tickets Selling for $9,199 on Ebay as MCU Fans Lose Their Minds

Spoiler Avoidance Strategies If You Can’t See Endgame Opening Night

Did Jordan Peele Play Fair? Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed On Your First Viewing of Us

Scissors from Jordan Peele movie Us
This poster contains a clue.

Jordan Peele made a splash with the satiric horror film Get Out and even won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  His new movie Us proves he’s not just a one-hit wonder, but a visionary filmmaker who will keep surprising, delighting, and frightening us for years to come.  (He’s already in talks to do a new Candyman film.)

One of the joys of Us is that it lends itself well to multiple viewings. I enjoyed it even more my second time around. There are things you won’t see your first time because you don’t know to look for them. Us is one of the rare films like The Sixth Sense or Memento that practically demands you watch it again immediately.  I watched this movie a second time two days after my first watch. 

Us — What I Noticed on My Second Viewing

— The movies on the shelf in the opening shot are Goonies, C.H.U.D., A Nightmare on Elm Street (which I thought was The Man With Two Brains because I can’t see well apparently), and some VHS tape I’m not sure anyone has been able to read the title of.  A lot of the action in Goonies takes place underground. The monsters in C.H.U.D. live underneath the city. Both of these are Easter eggs foreshadowing the Tethered.

— Adelaide’s father wins her a Thriller t-shirt.  Thriller is the video in which Michael Jackson reveals to his girlfriend he secretly has a monster inside him.  Just like adult Adelaide secretly has a monster inside her. Or viewed another way, we all have a Tethered self.  

— Everything in the movie has a double:

  1. The Vision Quest fun house is later Merlin’s Quest fun house.
  2. The twins are literally doubles of each other and even speak the same. (“Jinx!  Double jinx! Triple jinx!”)
  3. The bleeding man on the beach is the double/Tethered of the sign man.  (This is confirmed by one of the last shots of the film when we see him holding the Jeremiah 11:11 sign in flashback.)  
  4. The families are doubles of each other.  One black family, one white family, each with two kids.  

— One of the coolest bits of foreshadowing is an overhead shot of the family walking across the beach with their shadows walking beside them.

— The words above both versions of the funhouse door (“Find yourself”) are both foreshadowing and a subtle joke.

— On a second viewing, the rabbits in the cages are even more unsettling because now you know the context.

— When the family first get to the beach house and have dinner, Adelaide is very quiet.  She’s reliving her memory of what happened after the fun house incident at Santa Cruz beach.  Her parents are talking to a therapist about why Adelaide hasn’t spoken since getting lost at the boardwalk.  “I just want my little girl back,” the mother says. Hmmm. That’s the first clue that this isn’t her little girl.  

— Adelaide tries to talk Gabe out of going to the beach.  He guilts her into going. She finally reaches a compromise:  “We leave by dark.” (Um, “Because I don’t want the self whose place I took to try to take it back!”)  

— As they drive to the beach, they see paramedics putting a patient into an ambulance.  It’s the sign guy (Jeremiah 11:11). This creeps Adelaide out.

— Jason, the son, is making a tunnel out of sand on the beach.

— The frisbee lands on a dot on the beach towel, perfectly covering it up, a visual symbol/metaphor for humans and the Tethered selves that live in the darkness beneath them.  

–Jason sees a man on the beach who has blood dripping from his fingers.  This is the Tethered of the sign guy and presumably the reason for the sign guy’s injuries.  He’s also the only Tethered whose face we get a close up of later when everyone is joining hands.  He has a sort of maniacal smile. I believe he’s meant to be a Christ figure. Jeremiah 11:11 (NIV) says, “Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.’”  When the Tethered sign man is bleeding on the beach, that is him crucified. When he is holding hands with others in the morning light with a rapturous look on his face as humanity is destroyed, that is his resurrection. And he is definitely forsaking mankind, reveling in its destruction.  As GameSpot pointed out, he is also the first link in the chain, standing in wait to join hands with the rest of the Tethered.

— Adelaide doesn’t just freak out because Jason is missing.  She freaks out because she thinks he went in Merlin’s Forest.  She knows that it’s the gateway to the Tethereds’ world.

The 11:11 on the clock at bedtime disturbs Adelaide because it reminds her of the sign guy and his fate.

— When Adelaide says, “I don’t feel like myself,” Gabe says, “I think you look like yourself.”  This line takes on new meaning on a second watch. Because technically she’s not herself.

— When the Tethered family appears in the driveway, Adelaide calls 911 immediately.  Not out of irrational fear, but because she knows what they are: their Tethered selves.  (There’s a separate theory that Adelaide has repressed the memory of dragging Red/the real Adelaide to the underworld until the end of the movie when it starts to come back to her.  And she really only has the memory of seeing a second self in the mirror as a child. I don’t subscribe to that theory.)

— I swear on my second viewing I heard Red say “the girl hated the shadow so much for so long until she realized she was being tested by God.”  But I seem to be the only one. Call it the Mandela effect.

–When Red tells Adelaide to tether herself to the table, it’s revenge for Adelaide leaving Red chained to the bed as a child.

— I love the small moments of the Tethered enjoying what they’ve been deprived of.  Abraham trying on Gabe’s glasses. Elisabeth Moss’s Dahlia playing with lipstick and trying out different facial expressions in the mirror.  

— Umbrae who was born laughing also dies laughing.

— Adelaide follows Red and Jason into Merlin’s Forest.  She seems to know the path a little too well and to not be surprised by anything she encounters.  

— Red’s creepy, hoarse voice is most likely due to her throat being injured from Adelaide choking her so hard when they were children.  

— I’m still confused as to the significance of the ballet recital other than it just looking cool as hell and poetic.  I also don’t understand why the dance is what convinced the Tethered to make Red their leader rather than her rare ability to speak.  

— Adelaide has a sinister grin on her face after she kills Red.  The type of remorselessness we don’t usually associate with our heroes.

— In the ambulance, when Jason looks at his mother, he pulls his mask down.  They are both wearing masks now.

I walked into my second viewing wanting to answer one question:  Does Jordan Peele play fair?

Initially, I wanted to see if Red’s final monologue made sense once one knew the twist.  “We were born special. God brought us together that that night. I never stopped thinking about you, how you could have taken me with you.”

That part still makes sense after the twist. Adelaide could have grabbed Red (the real Adelaide) and walked out of the fun-house with her instead of chaining her to the bed.  Presumably. “If it weren’t for you, I never would have danced at all.” This is literally true as it is Adelaide that starts taking dance lessons as part of her parents’ attempt to get her to talk by encouraging her creativity.  When Adelaide dances, Red has to dance. In a deeper sense, like Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance,” Red may not have done much with her surface life if she’d never entered the fun-house. But instead she’s started a revolution that is going to change the world.  Something that would never have happened if Adelaide hadn’t switched places with her.

But does Peele play fair with the rest of the film?  

Can one reasonably guess at the twist ending from the clues provided?  I believe so. I’ve mentioned several clues in this post that all point to the twist.  Red’s voice, the mother’s line about wanting her little girl back, Adelaide’s extreme reluctance to return to the beach, her overprotectiveness of Jason at the beach, her immediately calling 911, and Adelaide knowing the entrance to the tunnel system a little too well.  I’ve read one reviewer who made the assumption that the girls switched places from the edit the first time he saw the movie. Just like I assumed in The Sixth Sense (SPOILER) Bruce Willis had died from getting shot in the first scene. But soon abandoned that thought as the movie went on.

I definitely recommend seeing Us more than once.  

It has earned a place among my favorite horror movie endings of all time.   If you really want to jump down the rabbit hole, you can spend hours reading about fan theories, Easter eggs, and symbolism in Us online.  

And if you’re a horror fan, be sure to use the RunPee app to get Peetimes for Pet Semetary, and upcoming films like The Curse of La Llorona, the Child’s Play remake, and Annabelle Comes Home.  You can also find reviews for lots of great horror movies on our blog. Follow us on [email protected] for the latest movie news.

Movie Review – Us – Tons of Symbolism, Creepy, and a Great Time at the Movies

Movie Review – Get Out – Jordan Peele Hits A Home Run

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

 

The Ending of Endgame – Breaking News

From RunPee HQ: We have new information leaked about the end scene of Endgame.

A reliable contact at Marvel Studios just informed RunPee about the upcoming Avengers: Endgame post-credit scene. Picture this: Tony Stark suddenly wakes in a cave in Afghanistan.

Tony Stark's DreamThe ENTIRE story up to now has been nothing more than Tony Stark’s fever dream from Iron Man 1. However, as Phase 4 plays out, Tony discovers everything in his dream slowly comes true. Phases 4-6 will be a reboot of the entire story so far, but now Tony knows what’s to come — and is prepared to face Thanos and beat him this time. This is the true “endgame” the producers have been hinting at all along…or is it…?

We love a good joke here at RunPee, but we can’t let you leave thinking this is actually true about Endgame. That would just be too cruel.

Happy April Fool’s day. 🙂

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, which follow below.

Captain Marvel Spoilers Ahead – You Are Warned

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,

Avengers 4 Endgame – First Trailer Review

iron man in avengers endgame
Tony Stark, somewhere in the universe.

Oh dear Thor! I’m sitting here sobbing my heart out. I just watched the first (amazing!) trailer for Avengers 4, which finally has a title: Avengers: Endgame. It’s under three minutes long and I’m a mess. Just like I was at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. As soon as it flipped to the title card that dissolved into ASHES, the tears started, and I lost it.

As I’m sure the producers intended.

Damn them, DAMN THEM…okay, I also love them. So it’s complicated. If you’re a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’ll be leaking from the old tear ducts too.

SPOILERS HERE for Infinity War (has anyone not seen this yet?) and the Avengers 4: Endgame trailer. (Get caught up to Infinity War with only five films.)

Here’s the first Endgame trailer, with only a few spoilers (Ant Man‘s inclusion  should be no surprise, if you paid attention to the end of Ant Man and the Wasp).

But don’t blame me if you get something in your eye while watching this. (Full Trailer Review is below video.)

Alright — let’s get to my notes:

  • I knew Tony had a ship available to him, since the Guardians flew to Titan. But with Rocket and Nebula elsewhere, Tony has to figure out 1. how to fly Star Lord’s ship and 2. how the heck to find Earth. Now it seems he’s out of food and water. Also: oxygen. He gives a last message to — who else? — Pepper Potts, who he didn’t manage to marry before hitching a ride to Titan. I’m confident he’ll work this out — he’s a genius, right? And if he asphyxiates in space, the whole Iron Man arc will implode. He’s the brains, while Cap is the heart. An ignominious death won’t satisfy. And, trust me, fans would get ugly.
  • Nooooo! That dusting logo is killing me. Remember when they did that to the title card during the end credits to Infinity War? All the feels just came rushing back.
  • Thanos’ armor is hanging like a scarecrow, perhaps at Thanos’ farm. It’s a pretty world. I wonder if anyone else is on it. There’s a castle-looking building way up on a mountain in the background.
  • We see someone strolling through fields of thistle flowers (?), brushing them with a big gloved hand. Probably Thanos. I can’t tell if the glove is the Gauntlet. Wasn’t that broken by the Snap? Black Widow voice-overs about how Thanos did what he said he’d do.
  • Cut to a wide shot of the Avenger’s compound.
  • OMG how DARE they show a picture of Peter Parker (presumed dead). TEH FEELS, THEY HAS MEEEEEEE……
  • Anyone catch Shuri on the screen just before Peter? We  know she’s been confirmed alive by the MCU producers, so it seems these are people listed as Missing and not Presumed Dead. You have to catch the right second to see this. Also, we see that Scott Lang (Ant Man) is prominently displayed.
  • Where’s Bruce Banner? Oh, there he is!! I was distracted by the cheap shot with Peter Parker. Banner’s got his hand over his face as he watches the screen of the missing. Specifically when young Peter’s face comes up. I know, Bruce, it hurts.
  • So, next. Where did Thor go? (Maybe he’s in the escape pod with Rocket, searching for Tony Stark? This would work. Also, Thor now controls the Bifrost, so he might be checking on the status of the Nine Realms. Or looking for Valkyrie and Korg. My sense is since he was so prominent in Infinity War, Endgame might feature more of Cap.)
  • Where is Nebula? Why don’t I remember where Nebula is?
  • I assume the producers are withholding Captain Marvel from any of this. Patience! 😉
  • Back to the actual trailer. We’re in the Avengers hangar deck at sunrise/set.
  • And there’s our Thor. He’s looking lost in a hoodie — you can see the bleakness in his eyes. I want to hug everyone.
  • Nebula!!! I should finish this trailer before making some of these comments. She looks like she’s on a spaceship. Maybe with Tony. I still don’t remember where she was at the end of Infinity War. I even wrote an entire article about “those left behind”, but Nebula is not on the list, so they must have shown where she was.
  • Who is the hooded sword guy?? Is that Hawkeye?
  • YES, IT IS HAWKEYE! He’s somewhere in Asia and it looks like Natasha went to find him. Which makes me think his entire family must have been dusted. He looks like a man driven insane by grief. Notice the street in China (?) is completely empty. Maybe, post-Snap, people are afraid to leave their homes. It must be an incredibly dark time across the universe. How nice for Thanos to be so happy with himself at the end of Infinity War.
  • Cap looks at an old photo. I assume Peggy Carter. He’s lost everyone who mattered to him now.
  • Captain America and Black Widow talk about the post-Snap universe. It’s grim. Cap wants to be optimistic, because the alternative is unthinkable. Cap has always been the biggest believer in truth and honor prevailing over evil, so I buy it. Black Widow has more of a cynical view of reality… but you can see she’s trying, for Cap’s sake, to salvage the situation.
  • Cut to the A4 logo, looking like the ashes reforming…but the music swells in a mighty crescendo of minor keys. Not a happy track. It’s game time.
  • Because this is Marvel, we even get an extra scene in the trailer: Ant Man waving and shouting at a security camera in front of the Avengers compound. The old van (containing the Quantum Tunnel) is right behind him. Remember, the Avengers think he’s dead. We end on a fun note of him saying basically, “Hey guys, remember me from that big airport fight? Can I come in?”  Nice. I appreciate a little lightness in this otherwise harrowing trailer.
  • We end on the A from Avengers superimposed on April, when the movie is expected to come out.

Overall, I’m super pleased this upcoming movie seems to have the real stakes we’ve waited 10 — soon 11 — years to pay off. April can’t get here soon enough. I wonder how many times I’ll watch this trailer? RunPee will do an MCU rewatch before Avengers: Endgame, and keep you updated with newly posted rewatch commentary.

Related MCU posts with our predictions: 

10 Ways Ant Man Could Escape the Quantum Realm

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

The 5 Movies You Need To Watch Before Infinity War

Even more: Read every RunPee article about the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Any Endgame early predictions? Leave your comments below!

 

Virgin Movie Review – Planet of the Apes (2001)

2001 planet of the apes
I’m not convinced a chimp would find a human sexy, no matter how hot Walhberg is.

Who knew Tim Burton could direct a grand scale epic adventure? I always thought his specialty was weirdos doing wacky things. But I was surprised and pleased with how much I enjoyed this 2001 version of Planet of the Apes, especially since I’m not impressed with the more recent trilogy.

I also didn’t realize Mark Walhberg  could do a heroic genre role. The man seems pretty talented and versatile, when he’s not confined to goofy comedies. Not to rag on wacky weirdos and goofy comedies, but this is more of the kind of world-building I’d expect from The Lord of the Rings.

Following this point will be some mildly vague spoilers…

There was a lot of genre-hopping, from space stations off Saturn, to Bronze Age ape civilizations, to a Mad Max climax. And while bouncing around through space and time, I had to remind myself of something deeply embedded in the mythos of Planet of the Apes: total mind-screwing. At its heart, Apes is a dystopian vision of what can or could be, if conditions were right. I wanted to yell at Walhberg’s character at the very end: to never mess with the timeline. He had a good thing going there on that planet. Has he never seen the original 1968 movie?

[pullquote]But before we get to the denouement that should surprise exactly no one, there were hugely impressive sets, makeup, and costumes.[/pullquote] A lot of care and detail went into the construction of this remake: it’s clear everyone involved was a fan. The final setting in the desert landscape with the rock formations was filmed on location near Death Valley, CA. I hiked there this spring and took a lot of photos (I’ll post some soon and link to it), and it really added to my film enjoyment to recall how cool a place it was in real life. (To be fair, I visited the park because Star Trek was also filmed there, but once I saw the formations above the battleground in Apes, things clicked into place.)

What was good: the apes looked great. I enjoyed seeing the variety of Great Apes represented: chimps, gorillas (lowland gorillas, I think), baboons, orangutans, and humans. The ape actors moved like apes; this was most noticeable with the chimps. They sounded like apes and had temper tantrums like apes. Although it might have seemed a bit overwrought with all the leaping and the screeching, zoologically speaking, everything was spot on.

I had to ask myself, can’t apes swim? I never considered their construction might prohibit it.  But then, humans lost the ability to brachiate, so we ourselves picked up water during our evolution, but lost the trees.

We just have to go along with the apes’ ability to speak, since a silent film wouldn’t be as fun.

Something that stood out to me too was how violent General Thade was. Was he psychotic, or more like a real chimp? He was one mean monkey. From what I’ve heard, adult chimps can fly violently off the handle and rip your face off:  not the kind of creatures you want living in your house. Although clearly, from watching this, the apes didn’t want us around either. Of all the primates, it seems gorillas are the sweetest: and their noble warrior personas were interestingly played.

Side Note: Hey! Want to get scared to death by chimpanzees? Have fun watching this video:

 Back to the film: I liked the apes discussing whether humans had  souls. Don’t we debate that about animals we’ve domesticated?  I hope we treat our “pets” better than we see the apes doing in this flick, although I know from my experience working in animal rescue that we often, quite sadly, do not. (Even with animals we think we’re decent to, I have to wonder. Look at our beloved horses. We sit on their spines, kick their ribs when we want them to go, and force cold iron bars between their teeth to steer them. Dammit, I’m on my soapbox again. )

What I didn’t like as much: the human characters, save Walhberg’s, were completely underdeveloped. They were like stand-ins for real people. It was strange that the best individuals were the apes, although that is probably intentional. But I can’t say it made for good storytelling to have the humans be sparsely written caricatures. And the the line about “Damn dirty humans” — while intended as humor — felt like a cheap shot. I guess they couldn’t resist an ironic nod to the iconic original.

Ultimately, were the apes wrong about humans? Some of it was pretty true: we can be savage and mindless. But we, like they, could become much more. So I managed to do a little soul-searching in a sci-fi/fantasy film; not a bad thing. I’d say this earnest remake of Planet of the Apes is worth a watch.

Movie Grade: B

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

 

Virgin Movie Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane
He sees you when you’re sleeping.

I hadn’t seen any of the films with Cloverfield in the title, not Cloverfield itself,  or 10 Cloverfield Lane, nor the Cloverfield Paradox. I’m not clear if they’re even related to each other. Some sources say yes, but think it might indicate a anthology of unrelated trippy stories, like a  movie analog to TV’s Twilight Zone.

So while I cannot confirm or deny if these movies are even in the same universe, I will go on record to say 10 Cloverfield Lane is a very enjoyable film. It’s kind of like one of those “experience” movies, where a first time viewing is the best, because you don’t know what’s going on, or how things will end up.

[pullquote]It’s also one of those films you can’t describe without spoiling it, like Cabin in the Woods and Gone Girl and — you know what? Even just saying there’s stuff I can’t say is a spoiler. [/pullquote]

If you’re spoiler averse, you might want to stop reading now and come back after you see this flick.

Okay, here we go. This psychological suspense thriller could have been penned from Hitchcock himself. It’s a perfect example of a bottle show, taking place almost entirely in a confined room. The claustrophobic tone is enhanced by the camera  staying very close to the characters’ faces. There are a few takes where this is very noticeable, like when Michelle and Emmett are sharing their life stories.  The camera swaps tight images of their faces without pulling back to show them in  the same frame, to enhance the feelings of separation and loneliness.

There’s a lot of close-in, canted angles, interesting framing devices, and many symbolic shots cleverly taking the place of verbal exposition — like Michelle’s nail polish slowly chipping off to show the passage of time, and the recurring image of the Eiffel Tower reminding us of possible dark deeds around the fate of Howard’s daughter. An agitated Michelle in the teaser tells us all the backstory we need about this character, without a word.

There are very few wide shots, and the few we do see just reinforce that the entire movie is filmed in a small bunker. We don’t see any landscape shots until the last act, with a surprise tonal change that manages to genre-shift the entire movie. What began as a tautly compelling suspense mystery suddenly turns into a science-fiction feature. I enjoyed both storylines, but it really was an abrupt mood swing.

One cool bit of attention to detail: Howard was watching Pretty in Pink, and they manage to name drop the movie out loud for our benefit. If you recall, that’s the one were Molly Ringwald wanted to be a clothes designer. Which is what we know Michelle wanted. (Ya think that will become important?)

So, is Howard right, or is he looneytunes? (Answer: both.) What’s with the girl who may be Megan, but is more likely Tiffany? Who wrote HELP on the window and what happened to her? Why does Howard have a barrel full of hydrochloric acid? What were those things doing to the world?

I kind of like that so few elements were resolved: I can use my imagination to fill in the rest of the blanks. I also have to wonder…what would I have done in her situation?

Movie Grade: B+

One cool thing I wanted to add: there’s a scene were Howard tells Michelle “Let’s go — bathroom time!” Wouldn’t that be the best meta cue for a Peetime?

RunPee’s original Movie Review of 10 Cloverfield Lane

Movie Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane

Every Harry Potter Film, Ranked

harry-potter-movies-ranked
The trio, saving the world at a theater near you.

We haven’t seen Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald yet, but RunPee has an early showing next Tuesday, November 13th, three days before the film officially opens. I’ll be attending in full Hogwarts robes, with my cherished Elder Wand, getting early Peetimes. In any case, this is as good a time as any to rank the 9 movies thus far in the Wizarding World, from least good to the best. Remember, though, any of J.K. [pullquote]Rowling’s wizard movies are better and more consistent than just about any franchise out there, save the superhero flicks in the Marvel Cinematic Universe[/pullquote].

NOTE: Spoilers for the entire Harry Potter series starts right here. Use a memory charm to forget what you’re about to read if you’re not up to date with the series.

My  subjective list, from worst to best, including Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them:

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 – While there are some really good sections in this story (the Battle of the Seven Potters, the Gringotts Bank Heist, the flight of the dragon, the scenes at Malfoy Mansion, and the tear-jerking death of Dobby), most of the film feels like the boring sections of the Lord of the Rings: to wit, there is a lot of walking, camping, and doing nothing. Also, the locket acts a lot like the One Ring, which feels more derivative than like an homage. Also, there’s barely any humor, the tone is depressing, the characters are mostly silent, and some scenes are among the only big misfires in the entire series (ie – the wedding, the visit with Xenophilus Lovegood, the creepy trip to Godric’s Hallow).  So it’s really the only middling chapter in a long series of grade A films. Something has to come in last in a list, after all.

8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – I don’t like this one very much. I hate the spiders scene so much that I fast forward over the whole thing (I’m not an arachnophobe, but this is all still disturbing), Hagrid’s helpful presence is missing through most of it, and I didn’t enjoy his being blamed for opening the titular Chamber. The overall tone is more depressing than it should be, so early into the longer story arc. The Basilisk doesn’t make much sense: he’s too big to roam unseen in the crowded Hogwarts Halls, or to fit through that toilet exit. Also, I’n not a big fan of the climax in the the Chamber itself, or the reveal about Ginny Weasley. The good: the flight of the Ford Anglica, the trip to Diagon Alley, Kenneth Branagh’s amusing portrayal of Professor Gilderoy, and Hagrid’s apparent bit of talking to himself as he’s brought away by the Minister of Magic (“If I was looking for something, I’d follow the spiders.”) I’ve come to appreciate this movie more over the years, but it’s still the one I’m happiest to skip. Fortunately, things get a lot better very quickly in the next films.

7.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone (the title depends on which country you’re from) – This is lightweight, yet appealing fluff. It’s very truthful to the book, which I actually like, is adorably sweet, and ends on a low-stakes high note (Gryffindor winning the House Cup, a topic we never hear about again). The film does a good job introducing a large cast, which thankfully stays with us for the next ten years (Dumbledor’s actor aside, for unfortunate reasons of real-world death).  Alan Rickman’s Snape is better than the book version, and better than a kiddie-movie like this one deserves.  Most of the stage is set for the  ensuing chronicles, and the filmation is straightforward, yet deeply pretty.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 – I’d rate this finale higher if it was either more fun, or stood better alone. It picks up right after DH1, and maintains a  breakneck pace for its rather long runtime. The battle is competent, and everyone involved put in a good effort. The aftermath is rushed, and the coda sort of divided the fans (I liked it, though). The best scenes start right after Harry uses the Stone, sees his loved ones, walks to his death, and visits the train station at King’s Cross, London.  Heartfelt, mysterious, clearly spiritual, and nicely tear-jerking. Answers that are non-answers are provided, leaving the viewer to decide what actually happened to Harry, and how he was able to defeat Voldemort. Once you puzzle it out to your satisfaction (ie  – Harry is a horcrux), you’re all set to let the real Battle of Hogwarts begin.

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  – I sometimes dislike this film, even though it’s really quite good and mostly book. It bothers me that Harry has a raging case of PTSD about the death of Cedric, and no one tries to help him emotionally. And I’m sad about Sirius  — he was my movie boyfriend, as far as I was concerned. I so wanted Harry to ditch the Dursleys and move in with his godfather. It disturbed me that Sirius spent the short remainder of his life in that hideous house that brought him nothing but pain…and it doesn’t help that it was Harry’s awful mistake  (and no small amount of teenage hubris) that led to his godfather’s death. I blame  Dumbledore too — so much pain could have been averted if he’s handled that year better. I also didn’t like that Kreacher’s backstory was mostly ignored. I love Kreacher’s journey in the book, and feel the movie lost a big chance to add a very poignant touch. Apparently, Rowling herself had to insist on ensuring Kreacher was included at all.  High points in the film: Dolores Umbridge. She’s the kind of villain you love to hate. I hate her with the force of a thousand suns; a testament to good acting and marvelous casting. I actually think Umbridge is worse than Voldemort. All the proclamations were good fun, and the Weasley twins’ exit, while not as good as how it went down in the book, was a definite highlight, as were the charming scenes where Harry taught Protection against the Dark Arts to Dumbledore’s Army.

4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Newt Scamander might seem an odd sort of fellow to base a five-part series around, but he’s odd in the good way; sweet, unassuming, yet very competent. He’s completely devoted to his creatures and their future survival…and in spite of being a bit socially awkward, attracts a nice trio of friends to help him save the world from evil wizards. I love Queenie and Jacob. I love the workshop and wildlife preserve in the suitcase. Newt’s an adult, unlike Potter and friends, and this makes for a tonal shift in the film. It’s less colorful and, well…”magical” — except when the fantastic beasts themselves come around. This is a film I like better and better upon every viewing. I’m truly excited to see how this series develops.

3.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Many people position this as the best of the series. It’s shot on location in the lush highlands of Scotland (places I visited to see the real deal in person, being a supergeek of all things Potter). Azkaban has a complicated, yet completely coherent story that other time travel movies should study. The direction is winningly stylish. We’re also introduced to Hogwart’s best teacher ever in Remus Lupin. This is where Sirius Black emerged, and began stealing my heart.  Our new Dumbledore was nothing like the previous one, but slid seamlessly into the role. The main trio puts in their first real acting performance — either the young actors finally settled into their characters, or the director led them there. Alfonso Cuaron completely knocks this one out of the park, and I wish he’d stuck around for the rest of the franchise. It’s simply glorious in direction, setting, and tone.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I’m a sucker for quest-type stories like this one. It’s got recognizable act breaks between the three tasks, introduces great new characters, provides a lot of humor, and is the first film where the kids enter fully into teenhood. The Hogwarts characters we know and love are no longer children, and the pains/pangs of love emerge. I love this movie more than it probably deserves, but it also offers an astounding ending that changes the series forever. Here’s where the darkness finally takes firm root over the rest of the saga.

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – this holds a special place in my heart for being the funniest of the films, with a good mystery, a lot of Draco (always a plus), reveals much-needed backstory, is mostly self-contained, and provides the last calm before the storm of the war against Voldemort. Everyone’s on the top of their game in this one. (Yes, the book is far superior, but it’s also super long. This would have been a better choice to divide into two films, IMO).

If you’re a die-hard Potter fan, you’ll notice I didn’t include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in this ranking. This would be because the last time I was in London, the play had not yet been created. The screenplay in book-format is a bit underwhelming, but I’ll chalk that up to the medium: it’s meant to be performed to a live audience. People who’ve seen it have great reviews on the experience.  Next time I hit the UK, you can bet I’ll catch a performance. If you’ve seen it, please talk about what it was like in the comments below.

Next week, with FB 2 gracing our screen, I’ll have to shake up this list again.  The trailers look good, albeit quite grim. Here’s to hoping it lands in the top five! I’ll be at the premier in my Gryffindor robes. Lumos, babies!

Related, on RunPee:

Every Harry Potter article on RunPee.com

And some featured posts: 

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Crimes of Grindelwald Prequel Fan Film – The Greater Good

Comic Con Releases Grim but Exciting Trailer for Fantastic Beasts — The Crimes of Grindelwald

Notes on Final Trailer for Fantastic Beasts — The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

 

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

ant man in the quantum realm
Wait. What? Where did everybody go?

With Ant Man & The Wasp now released on DVD and Blu-Ray, people are struck again with how this movie might tie in with the greater Marvel oeuvre, and wonder anew why the light-weight Ant Man 2 arrived so closely after the heavy ending of Infinity War.

— Spoilers ahead for Avengers Infinity War and Ant Man & The Wasp —

Here’s a roundup of some intriguing articles addressing Ant Man, the Quantum Realm, and some conjecture about how to undo The Snap:

Do you have any thoughts on how things could wrap up for Avengers 4, coming out next summer? At least we’ve got time to puzzle, conjecture, and, yes,  re-watch the 20 previous movies for scraps of clues. Feel free to comment below with your ideas. I promise to respond.

MCU Trailer News: 

First Captain Marvel Trailer Finally Drops

Avengers 4 Trailer Hints and Rumors