Why Avatar Deserves to be the Number 1 Movie Over Avengers: Endgame

Na'vi girl in avatar
It’s not easy being Blue…

With Avengers: Endgame passing Avatar to become the highest grossing movie of all time, I’ve recently gotten into a lot of heated debates with my friends as to why I think Avatar is more deserving of #1.

So I’m going to tell you — in a more calm manner than I do my friends — why I think Avatar is still Number 1.

Avatar Revolutionized Film-Making

The first thing we can’t ignore is that Avatar pushed new boundaries for film-making when it came out. Avatar revolutionized the visual effects industry with its ground-breaking CGI…which still looks amazing 10 years later.

Don’t get me wrong — if you know what to look for, you can easily spot where they took shortcuts with the effects. For example, how several of the wildlife creatures are sleek and black…meaning they didn’t have to render a lot of texture on the skin. But all of it still looks spectacular.

With Avengers: Endgame, while the CGI is on a technical level better than Avatar, doesn’t push it to the next level, and still looks on par for Avatar.

If you put these two movies side by side, it would be hard to tell whose CGI is better.

Anvengers endgame superheroes
However, we DO know everyone’s name here…

Better Characters? Or Just More of Them?

Now let’s talk about the characters. It’s been a joke for a while now that people can’t name a single character from Avatar, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have good characters. The actors give great performances to bring them to life, and you feel genuinely sad when someone dies.

Now of course Avengers: Endgame has superb characters: that much can’t be denied, but the main reason we feel so bad when someone dies in Endgame is because we have seen these characters on screen for quite some time. Endgame wasn’t just a one and done, it built up over 20+ films. Avatar had to build its characters in one go. And this leads nicely into my next point…

Avengers: Endgame didn’t come out of the blue with Marvel expecting it to flop. It came out a hit from the beginning. Book-ending 11 years worth of movies Endgame had so many people behind it already. Avatar had Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel come out a week after it, because Fox thought Avatar would flop. Not even Fox backed up Avatar.

And one small extra point: both of these movies came out a second time with additional features in the movie theaters. But generally everyone agrees that Avengers: Endgame extra content sucked, while Avatar came out with essentially a Directors Cut of the film, which just made it better. 

avatar na'vi man and woman
You have to admit, they look good together.

The World Building is Unmatched in Avatar, Comparatively

Now my favorite part: the world building. The world building on Avatar is done extremely well. Watching the movie, you learn about these alien creatures, what happened to Earth, how the tribe works, how their lives work, and so much more.

In Avengers: Endgame, while yes, there is some world building done through the characters, at the end of the day it’s Earth, it’s New York. You understand it’s being destroyed, but if you want to know what happens after that — and to get more of the world building you have to turn to other Marvel associated content.

For example: you don’t know what happened to clean up New York in 2012 unless you watch a special they released, shortly after the original Avengers film. In Avatar, once the tree is destroyed you see the aftermath; you see where the Na’vi go to hide; you see what happens. There are some questions left unanswered, but at least I only have to wait until 2021 to get some answers, where as with Marvel I have to watch every TV show they have to figure it out. [Editor’s note: the TV shows are optional, you know — you don’t even need to see Agents of SHIELD, unless you’re a huge Agent Coulson fan…]

thanos in avengers endgame with his sword
Seriously. Is that a sword or a helicopter propeller?

What About…the Plot? And the Villains?

And, of course I have to bring up the last point I hear all the time…the plot. I constantly hear Avatar’s plot is basic and boring. Which I don’t understand; both movies basically have the same plot.

It’s just that in one, the bad guy is greedy and want to destroy nature to get to minerals to fill his greed…and in the other you have the villain who wants to control the population, and kills half of the living organisms in his way. Both of these villains are the same. Both are so blinded by their own ways that they wreck everything else in their way.

And besides that, it’s your standard good vs. bad scenario. It’s nothing new, but when you watch these movies you get so invested in what’s going on. As far as I’m concerned, the plots follow the same beats, just like every other movie ever. 

Really. Both are Winners.

Listen, at the end of the day both of these movies are fantastic, and both have their flaws. But you can’t deny the impact and influence Avatar has had on movies.

Everything I said just either agreed with one person or pissed off another; there’s nothing I can do about that. But I do invite everyone to comment below with your counter arguments, or even just your thoughts.

Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Extra Footage Explained

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

Avengers Bests Avatar at Box Office – But Avatar Is Still #1 in My Heart

Movie review : Avatar

Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

Was The Infinity War Snap actually random in who was dusted?

Thanos Snap
Is it really random? Or was there a plan?

A thought occurred to me last night while watching a YouTube video about Thanos’  Snap: were the people who became dust selected at random? At first glance I always assumed so, but maybe not.

I’m not a mathematician, and questions of probability can confound even professors of mathematics.

I’ll lay out my reasoning and you tell me if I missed something in the comments.

We know Dr. Strange observed 14,000,605 outcomes of the conflict with Thanos, and in only one of those outcomes did it end satisfactorily for the Avengers in Endgame.

Dr. Strange voluntarily gives up the Time Stone, and perhaps performs a few other tasks we don’t know about, to set the course for the one favorable outcome.

Spoilers follow for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Make sure you’ve seen these before reading further!

The question is: how did Dr. Strange know Tony Stark/Iron Man would not be dusted?

The simple answer: Dr. Strange watched the outcome and knew Tony survived after a certain chain of events occurred.

Right? Then the snap itself does not randomly select lifeforms to dust. If an event — Tony surviving The Snap — always follows a chain of previous events, then it is a determined event, and not random.

If the snap itself randomly selects, then each snap will select a different set of lifeforms to dust. Therefore, all Dr. Strange could know is there’s one chain of events that ends well for the Avengers, as long as Tony doesn’t get dusted.

Remember, based on the outcome of Avengers: Endgame, the only solution Dr. Strange saw was for Tony to be the one, and the ONLY one, to reverse The Snap.

What do you think?

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

Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

Avengers Endgame – long breakdown to describe what you just saw (Massive Spoilers!)

Avengers Infinity War – Whose Fault is the Snap?

Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Extra Footage Explained

avengers endgame logo with the A
The End(game) of an era.

In an attempt to knock Avatar (2009) off the Biggest Box Office high horse, the Marvel Cinematic Universe opened their vaults and added some extra footage to Avengers: Endgame in a ‘re-release’.

Normally a re-release happens after a movie has been gone awhile, but with MCU fever still running high, Marvel Studios added six minutes of goodies to the end of Endgame before it ever left the theaters.

What follows are spoilers for the extra footage only of Avengers: Endgame, if that wasn’t obvious from the title. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t worry – this article won’t spoil any actual Endgame plot.

The Original Endgame Extras

First off, here’s what extra scenes appeared in the original theatrical release: none. Or, at least, nothing like the full-on bonus scenes we’re used to, the extra bits giving us a laugh or hinting to what’s to come next  in the MCU.

It does make sense to get “nothing”, when you consider how Endgame is the end of the Infinity Saga. (Spider-Man Far From Home is considered an epilogue.)

So, for those who saw Endgame opening week, the only things playing over the credits are:

1. A lovely bit where the Original Six Avengers sign off with their actors’ signatures over a few memorable call-back images.

2. Then nothing until the very end, when we hear an audio-only extra harkening back to the first Iron Man film in 2008. We wrote about that hammering sound here.

And that was it.

3. Until a few weeks later, when the studio added a nice long trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The New Bonus Scenes

In  the July re-release, here are the extra six minutes Endgame got. This starts after the rolling credits end and the ‘hammering’ audio clip concludes:

  1. A loving tribute to Stan Lee. Since Endgame is the last movie to use Lee’s vast array of cameos (remember the long-haired hippy driver in the 70s flashback scene?), it makes a lot of sense to use some behind-the-scenes footage remembering this amazing man, and his contribution to the world of comics. It’s a sweet-natured look at Lee filming some of his best cameos, in a nice little video. Well done, Marvel, well done. RIP Stan Lee.
  2. Second, we have an introduction by Endgame director Anthony Russo, thanking the fans for sticking around. He says: “As you may have noticed, we packed a lot into this movie. There are a lot of characters, a lot of action, a lot of emotion, and I think a lot of fun. But, believe it or not, we shot some scenes that needed to be cut. I know, the movie could have been even longer!”
  3. Next, we get an unfinished bonus scene with the Hulk. We see what he’s been up to since we saw him last: saving people (here from a burning building), right before taking a call from Steve Rogers. Clearly, this is meant to happen right before the “Hulk Lunch Scene.” While the Hulk himself is an animated version inserted into real footage, he’s still got Mark Ruffalo’s face.
  4. The last thing is a fully-finished scene introducing the coming jeopardy in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Nick Fury and Maria Hill show up in Mexico to a town ravaged by a cyclone “with a face”. They meet Mysterio, who tells Fury and Hill, ” You don’t want any part of this,” cuing the next action scene.

One More Extra Goodie

I also got a nifty Avengers: Endgame commemorative poster, just for showing up again. Marvel, I love you 3000.

So, Is This Working to Get Butts Back In Seats?

I’d say, most definitively, yes. I went to the theater Saturday night (July 15th) and the screening room for Avengers: Endgame was PACKED. There were only a couple of empty seats left in the front. And the audience was very much into the spirit of things: laughing at the jokes, gasping in horror at the shocks. Endgame fever is clearly still running high. I’m glad to see it.

Did Endgame Beat Out Avatar?

Will Endgame knock Avatar off the throne? It kind of doesn’t matter. The Infinity Saga has been an incredible ride for 11 years and 23 movies, with even the worst film (The Incredible Hulk) being far from bad. At RunPee, we’ve had to grade each entry on a curve, because they are so consistently good. The only useful grading system is to weigh their merits against each other. If they all get an A, then how can we talk about which are better? (The short answer is to rank them in tiers of bottom, middle, and top, which we also covered here.)

So it’s already won. Knocking Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Titanic out of the running was exciting, and it would neat to be part of a world-wide event ousting Avatar. I don’t see any other movie coming close to this honor — but since we’re talking the cream of the box office crop, they, and we, are all winners.

It’s not over until it’s over, and it seems that Marvel Studios will do #WhateverItTakes. We’ll keep our eyes out for you and give a final report when all is said and done.

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

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

RIP Stan Lee – you will be missed

Avatar – plot too simple? Actually, a good idea.

Spider-Man & Iron Man – Lyrics to Back in Black by AC/DC

spider man far from home
Back in Red and (eventually) Black

Starting way back in 2008 with Iron Man‘s use of I Am Iron-Man and, yes, Back in Black, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never been shy of using classic rock hits in their superhero movies. While 2019’s Spiderman: Far From Home doesn’t have as many rocking songs as Spider-Man: Homecoming, it’s got a winning use of AC/DC’s Back In Black.

Why Back in Black Works So Well

For one thing, Peter Parker makes a hilarious mistake when Happy Hogan gives him some of Stark’s favorite music to work to, shouting he loves “Led Zeppelin!” This makes us oldsters grimace in sympathetic understanding with poor Happy. Remember, Peter thinks Aliens is an “old movie.” (Ouch.)

It also reminds us of Tony Stark’s love of classic rock, in a beautiful bit of unspoken narrative.

Finally, on a meta-level, the song’s title is perfect. This is something the MCU does well — like their cute use of The Kink’s Supersonic Rocketship to stand for Rocket Raccoon’s actual spaceship. For Back In Black specifically, look at the costumes Spider-Man wears in Far From Home. One is entirely black — as “The Night Monkey” — followed by one he makes using Stark’s nano-tech, ditching the garish red-blue look for a spiffier red-black suit.

Here’s the video used for the Back in Black “full Iron Man intro scene”  (which really brings things full circle, as Happy’s little smile shows), followed by the song lyrics:

Something cute if you read the comments on YouTube: the amount of attention this video has from folks looking for Back in Back after seeing Spider-Man: Far From Home. Yes, Iron Man used it first. Ultimately, it’s a great callback to the ‘heir’ of Tony Stark, just as neat as Tony’s killer line at the climax of Avengers: Endgame.

Back in Black Lyrics (Live at River Plate 2009, by AC/DC)

Back in black
I hit the sack
I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back
Yes, I’m let loose
From the noose
That’s kept me hanging about
I’ve been looking at the sky
‘Cause it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse ’cause I never die
I got nine lives
Cat’s eyes
Abusin’ every one of them and running wild

‘Cause I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well, I’m back in black
Yes, I’m back in black

Back in the back
Of a Cadillac
Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack
Yes, I’m in a bang
With a gang
They’ve got to catch me if they want me to hang
‘Cause I’m back on the track
And I’m beatin’ the flack
Nobody’s gonna get me on another rap
So look at me now
I’m just makin’ my play
Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way

‘Cause I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well, I’m back in black
Yes, I’m back in black

Well, I’m back, yes I’m back
Well, I’m back, yes I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well I’m back in black
Yes I’m back in black

Ho yeah
Oh yeah
Yes I am
Oh yeah, yeah oh yeah
Back in now
Well I’m back, I’m back
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back
Back in black
Yes I’m back in black
Out of the sight

[Songwriters: Angus Young / Brian Johnson / Malcolm Young
Back In Black (Live at River Plate 2009) lyrics © BMG Rights Management]

PS: Some commentators are saying Tony Stark uses a peace sign in every MCU movie in honor of that soldier in the scene linked above…can anyone confirm he does this, ever, and where?

Lyrics and Video to Blitzkrieg Bop from Spider-Man – Homecoming

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

Movie Review – Iron Man – Genius, Philanthropist, etc who started it all

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

 

Movie Review - Spider-Man: Far from HomeI liked Spider-Man: Far From Home. I liked it a lot. But I didn’t love it, and that surprised me.

I adore Tom Holland‘s version of Spider-Man, and think he’s the best Peter Parker ever done, no question. (Notice how this sidesteps Miles Morales‘ stunning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse quite nicely.) And every appearance by MCU’s Spider-Man, from Civil War to Endgame, sparkled with wit and verve.

I rewatched Spider-Man: Homecoming to get ready for Spidey’s ‘European Vacation’. I was again taken with how absolutely lovely, charming, funny, and exciting Peter Parker’s first solo outing was. (With one of Marvel’s better villains, to boot.)

Far From Home was enjoyable, but not up to the level I expected. Some nits to pick (with spoilers for Avengers: Endgame):

– Ned wasn’t The Chair Guy this time. He was mostly sidelined. Ned had funny lines, but was no longer Spider-Man’s sidekick. Making him foolish — and a damsel in distress, even — didn’t sit right.

– Peter was too low-key. I get that he’s been through a lot, and mourns Iron-Man like a father, but EVERYONE in the post-post-post Snap world (yes, there were three Snaps, remember?) is suffering. His friends seemed fine. I would have written Spidey as his usual irrepressible self who’d get sad when reminders of Tony Stark hit him out of nowhere. Grief is like that: you’re grooving along until you get a gut-punch reminder.

– There wasn’t enough care and attention paid to how Earth is handling the new reality: billions of people returning to life five years later. Yes, it was alluded to a few times, but I expected more. And Europe seemed to truck on with no problems at all. Even seeing some of the homelessness and ruin in the background would have helped keep the sense of continuity alive. The MCU usually provides better world-building than that.

– I missed the fun rock and pop music that made Homecoming so fun. (We did get one rock hit underscoring a poignant/funny moment, but I won’t spoil it.)

– And another nit: Spider-Man is the only A-List hero left on Earth? After 23 movies packed with super beings, I can’t buy that.

So, Where Were the Other Avengers?

As said, in-movie:

Dead:

Not mentioned, but should be around for Fury to call upon:

  • Professor Hulk
  • War Machine (who’s basically an Iron Man already)
  • Ant-Man
  • Wasp
  • Scarlet Witch (who should be able to wipe the floor with anyone)
  • Valkyrie, Korg, and a whole city of Asgardians
  • Black Panther, Shuri, and a whole country of Wakandans
  • Falcon (AKA new Cap)
  • The Winter Soldier/White Wolf
  • Hawkeye (I presume he returned to retirement…)
  • Pepper Potts-Stark is at least name-dropped (apparently she doesn’t want to use her Iron Suit any more than Peter does, for the same reason)
  • Lots of minor heroes could also be asked to ‘step up’…this could be a whole article. Which I’ll probably write, if there’s interest.

Again, those are mostly nits. But there’s one big problem, and for that I have to give Spider-Man FFH a B grade. That’s hard to do, since I loved a lot of it. I am a huge MCU fan, a Tom Holland-as-Spidey fan…and I really do think this is the best genre movie out right now (not including the Endgame re-release). But since we at RunPee tend to grade the Marvel Cinematic Universe on a curve, I’d have to rank this as a “middle tier” movie. MAN, I hate saying this.

It might have been that all the major plot points of FFH were spoiled for me, but I normally love anything the MCU does, so that shouldn’t have mattered.

Where Spider-Man: Far From Home Faltered

The single biggest problem is the bad guys are kind of an underwhelming/overwhelming mess. They are huge; they are CGI, and have no personality or motivation whatsoever…or even facial expressions. How is that supposed to be fun to watch? It doesn’t matter that that part doesn’t matter (have to be vague), but it made every fight with The Elementals boring. They felt more like the worst kind of bad guys done in the DC Universe (on the level of Incubus or Steppenwolf, or all the other villains no one remembers).

MCU has the occasional villain problem, but nothing as bad as these guys.

The point is, it doesn’t matter that the Elementals are [redacted for spoilers]: they still got too much screen time. They brought the movie down. Watching European landmarks get destroyed isn’t entertaining by itself. Even Godzilla has a personality.

Notice I’m not mentioning Mysterio. Or the promised Multi-Verse. I can’t go into any of this without spoilers, and this review is already too long. Suffice to say if Iron Man had a love child with Dr. Strange, you’d kind of get Mysterio. The trippy, psychedelic stuff was the best part of the action. It’s too bad they couldn’t get Dr. Strange on the phone. I’ll stop there.

Overall, How’s Spider-Man: Far From Home?

I’m making a bigger deal out of the Villain Problem than I meant to. Far From Home is still a super fun film, with laughs, school trip shenanigans, great on-location scenery, emotional moments, and a fun class reunion with Peter Parker’s (conveniently) co-blipped pals. And Happy Hogan stole every scene from Peter, which I didn’t expect. Tony Stark’s absence was keenly felt, but his character still managed to permeate the story, and even drew one of the best laughs.

So, yeah, absolutely see the 23rd movie officially closing out the Infinity Saga. It’s the last MCU film we’re getting this year. (We don’t yet know when Phase 4 will begin.) Far From Home really has some great moments and a lot of heart, so go and enjoy yourselves, Elementals be damned. 🙂

PS: The extra scenes over the credits are AWESOME. The implication are pretty big (for one of them) and pretty cool (for the other).

PPS: Also, in the background at near the end of the movie, there’s a building mural Peter swings slowly by that reads: “We can’t wait to show you what happens next!” Clearly that’s a message about Phase 4 from the MCU. Nice nod.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I have 3 good Peetimes, spaced out nicely through the movie.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Spider-Man: Far from Home. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

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

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

Movie Review – Spider-Man Homecoming

The entire MCU Movie Order – Several Options for your pre-Avengers Endgame Watch or Rewatch

Stan Lee – His Favorite Marvel Characters

Marvel Phase 4 Predictions – Some MCU Sure-Fire Guesses

 

Movie Review – Men in Black: International

Movie Review - Men in Black: InternationalIt isn’t that there’s much wrong with MiB International so much as there isn’t anything right about it: the humor is middling; the pacing is choppy; and the plot/character development is bland.

I can’t complain about the acting. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson did good enough with what they had to work with, but Thor: Ragnorak this isn’t.

The biggest problem with MiB International is the pacing. There are long stretches that border on boring, sometimes wandering on the wrong side of the border. Right in the middle of the movie is the main chase scene that serves as the best Peetime in the movie. I’m certain that’s not what the creators had in mind.

There are elements of potential in the story. It feels like all the movie needed was a few more drafts of the script to give it the polish it needed. For instance there are continual references to Agent H’s (Hemsworth) character change since the opening scene of the movie….however, there’s never any resolution as to why this change happened.

Speaking of the opening scene, there was some real confusion in the order of time between the first few scenes of the movie. There’s no indication when the first scene starts, as Agent H and T arrive at the Eiffel Tower. [Correction: there was a “3 Years ago” message onscreen that apparently appeared while I was writing notes.] After that, the scene cuts to another scene with “20 years ago” displayed on the screen. At the end of that we jump to the present. That seems simple enough until 3/4 of the way through the movie we discover that the opening scene took place 3 years in the past. I don’t want to imply that there’s a simple solution to how this should have been done, but it’s the job of the writers/director to tell a cohesive story, and they botched that in the first 5 minutes of the movie.

I think most fans of the MiB franchise will be disappointed. This installment is nowhere near as good is the first, or third, movie. The second MiB was pretty awful, save for some funny scenes. I’d say this fourth movie is better than that, but not by much.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes here, but the 1st and last Peetimes are Emergency use only because they are so short. We recommend the 3rd Peetime. It’s right in the middle of the movie and only involves 1 long chase scene that isn’t particularly good.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Men in Black: International. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sequel

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

 

 

Newbie Movie Review – Suicide Squad (2016)

margot robbie as harleyquinn in suicide squad
What? We’re bad guys.

Surprise, Surprise. Justice League is Actually a Good DC Flick

Movie Truism: Maybe going into a movie with low expectations makes it better. I didn’t bother to see DC’s highly anticipated 2016 Suicide Squad in the theaters because it was so lowly-regarded among critics and viewers alike. So I just let it slip by.

Cut to 2019. When I heard James Gunn  — beloved director of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy — was taking over the creative reins of Suicide Squad 2 (as a ‘soft’ reboot), hope flared anew that finally DC would have a group film brilliant enough, funny enough, and just damn worthy enough to counter the amazing ensembles produced by the MCU.

A Whole Lot of Good

The stars of Suicide Squad come down to two charismatic roles — Will Smith’s Deadshot — a decent man trapped by a nasty super-skill set, and Margo Robbie’s gleefully, lethally, nutso Harley Quinn.

Here’s Quinn’s efficient backstory from the movie:

Honestly, I enjoyed the whole misfit group. There was a one-take moment where I grinned from ear to ear, as the misfit crew executes a dynamic Hero Shot. It’s an expected trope in superhero films, right? In Suicide Squad, it felt earned and triumphant…until the next second, where you realized, hey, this is a Villain Shot. An Anti-Hero Shot? An Anti-Villain Shot? The sheer amount of dissonance was delightful.

(Some spoilers for Suicide Squad 1 follow)

This is good story making. Really. Suicide Squad had a ton of viewer treats that broke from DC’s usual grim-is-good comic world. I too wanted to see “The Bat” put away: as Quinn says, “He ruins all the fun.” Batman shows up, but he’s relegated to the background. Superman’s only mentioned in passing. Good and good. This isn’t about them.

There are so many Easter Eggs in the background, with great signage, throwaway lines, and outright allusions to other characters inside the DC universe and out. [They even predicted 2019’s “Evil Superman” Brightburn! ] This is some lively shit.

Another treat: the appropriately brief cameo of Flash. (Ezra Miller can do a lot in a small role, and was a bright spot in the mostly dreary Justice League.)

Suicide Squad has Two Great Music Tracks

As on Guardians of the Galaxy (which Suicide Squad was supposed to mirror) the extensive rock playlist is perfectly used. It’s great that movies list their songs during the credits, so I can remember to add them to my tune rotations. Suicide Squad leaned heavily into The Rolling Stones, which felt just right.

The second track — that instrumental background music we generally consider the “soundtrack” — was top-notch. In my notes, I scribbled several scenes where the music greatly underscored a character’s growth, emotional confusion, or was just plain…well…heroic. No other way to put it.

Another movie truism: bad guys can be heroes, and heroes can be bad guys. I think DC’s entire oeuvre is an ode to this concept.  (Exceptions: Wonder Woman and maybe Shazam.)

I’ll say this, though — the over-reliance on Queen tunes in genre films is starting to wear on me. When a scene perfectly uses a song in one film, said tune should be retired, like a great athlete’s number. So hearing Bohemian Rhapsody used by this crew was a nice moment, but as far as I’m concerned, BoRhap belongs to the wonderfully wacky Wayne’s World, forever. Can’t Stop Me Now was jarring in The Umbrella Academy, because why would anyone want to compete with the iconic zombie scene in the Winchester in Shaun of the Dead? (“Kill the Queen!”) And ripping Spirit in the Sky off the back of Guardians of the Galaxy went beyond homage.

Exposition and the Suicide Squad Characters

This is how you do it. With a large cast of super powered and/or crazy people to introduce, the best solution is to make the movie about THEM, not a MacGuffin plot. In a surprisingly smart move, that’s what Suicide Squad did. I loved the stylized flashback scenes of these criminals doing what they do best, their blink-fast list of skills, and how they each got taken down. These were very amusing scenes. Killer Crock especially was a hoot (Crock doesn’t seem actually evil, unlike most of the crew). His line about being beautiful was unexpected and well-played.

We also got some meaningful scenes with DeadShot in a text-book example of how to tell an emotional backstory in an efficient, effective way.

Speaking of DeadShot, he was a natural group leader, and Will Smith carried the movie effortlessly. Strangely, Smith apparently bugged on the James Gunn Suicide Squad 2 sequel. The news is Idris Alba is slated to recast Smith, which seems like a fair trade. Alba is the man, woefully underused as Heimdall in the MCU.

How About The Big Bad?

What really brought Suicide Squad down was the villain, and here I mean The Incubus. I’ll treat him separately from his sister, The Enchantress.

Actually, I don’t have time to discuss bad writing. The Incubus has zero development and isn’t worth delving into. He’s overpowered and boring. Next!

The Enchantress showed some promise in her CGI form, but when little June Moon started writhing around, it looked ridiculous. I appreciated the line that Mankind worships machines instead of gods now, but nothing was done with that intriguing concept. Fail. I don’t care. Bad villains are an ongoing superhero problem, but I mostly ignore that at this point.

An ensemble origin movie isn’t about who they fight, in any case. It’s about  group-building and world-building, which Suicide Squad got very right.

And the Joker?

Now, let’s talk about the real controversial role: Jared Leto’s Joker. So many Jokers over the years. Some get it right. All are distinctive.

I’ve got my favorites, but Leto’s not one of them: I’ll just say I’m glad his role was little more than an extended cameo. Let’s keep it that way in the sequel. Quinn on her own is much more fun and I prefer her out of the Joker’s shadow. With the Suicide crew she’s a fascinatingly deranged soul, instead of being a pet to the Joker. (Seriously, he whistles for her like a dog.)

I’ll give this Joker one thing: he had one deeply interesting line. It resonated so strongly for me that I wrote it down to think about —

“Desire becomes surrender…surrender becomes power.”

Suicide Squad, Overall

Something I hoped Suicide Squad would do is create real stakes and jeopardy…where not everyone you like is going to make it out alive. I had a feeling who that would be if they went there, and was satisfied with the payout when they did. It’s a brave gamble to take when you’re working with an ensemble you’re hoping to grow.

However, I didn’t buy their warm family feelings after sharing feelings over a few drinks, but I’ll give them this — bonds can form fast in life-threatening situations. And they had so much in common on a fundamental level: severely misguided people, good at being bad, damaged moral compasses, isolated, frequently abused, seen as the dregs of humanity, then abandoned in a dark hole with no hope of atonement.

Still, I’ll forgive some storytelling shortcuts in a movie this amusing.  With Gunn in the saddle, I’ve high hopes for Suicide Squad 2.

Color me pleased. I’m happy to add a third movie to the DCEU that I actually enjoyed, along with Wonder Woman and Shazam.

(BTW, stay through to the end credit scenes. Justice League was no Avengers, but it was thrilling to see JL’s inception anyway.)

Movie Grade: B

Guardians of the Galaxy Ex-Director James Gunn to Direct Suicide Squad 2

Movie Review – Batman vs. Superman

Movie Review – Justice League (RunPee Jilly’s POV)

Is Shazam Part of the DC Universe or a Stand-Alone Film? How Shazam Could Fix the DCEU

Avengers Endgame Song and Lyrics to Supersonic Rocketship

The Bentatar stranded in space in Endgame
Rocket and his Supersonic Rocketship

Rock Music in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

If you’re paying at all attention to the music during the already overcrammed events in Avengers Endgame, you’ll notice a few classic rock songs stand out. This technique’s been in play since Iron Man, but really ramped up with Guardians of the Galaxy and just kept on that path.

Warning: Spoilers follow for Endgame.

Endgame is no different. The Marvel Studio Credits sequence play, usually, to the same orchestral Avenger’s themes we’re used to. Endgame logos opens with a soft credits sequence set to Mr. Fantasy (just another way Endgame chose to stand out from 22 years of world-building and as a saga coda), and there are a few more 70s rock hits along the way.

When Supersonic Rocketship Plays in Endgame

My favorite is Supersonic Rocketship, when Peter Quill’s — now Rocket’s — ship (The Benatar) lands while poor Ant Man has his taco blown away by the jet’s engines. Professor Hulk sweetly hands hims two new ones (the big green guy now has a lot of food at all times), and smiles at him. This is a nice moment, since everyone else in Endgame treats him with zero respect, starting with Tony Stark, and ending with Rocket himself. (“Does the puppy want to go to SPACE?”)

Then Hulk and Rocket, the two Avengers left who care most about, Thor get in the back of an old pickup to head to new Asgard (a Norway fjord town), to convince a guilt-devoured Thor to rejoin ‘the team’ to take on Thanos. Thor refuses to even speak his name, in spite of delivering the killing blew. (“I went for the head.”) Thor spent the last five years self-medicating in New Asgard with junk food, booze, and video games, hiding out with fan favorite Korg and their little buddy Meik. When Rocket promised there’s beer on the ship, Thor agrees to come along.

The Kinks’ Supersonic Rocketship mostly plays during the truck ride to New Asgard, but it’s a perfect song choice. The happy chords and silly lyrics are perfect, since Quill’s ship is now Rocket Ship’s by default (get it), and he’s planning let the team ‘use it at their disposal if they feel so inclined,” as the lyrics go. A lot of this song is really perfect, and at the time of the narrative has a fittingly happy quality it.

Listen to the song below and see how well this works in the film. A complete list of the lyrics follow the music video. Enjoy!

Lyrics to Supersonic Rocketship

(Performed by The Kinks, 1927)

Let me take you on a little trip
My supersonic ship’s at your disposal
If you feel so inclined. Well alright.
We’re gonna travel faster than light
So do up your overcoat tight
And you’ll go anywhere you want to decide. Well alright.
Too many people side by side
Got no place to hide.

On my supersonic rocket ship
Nobody has to be hip
Nobody needs to be out of sight. Out of sight.
Nobody’s gonna travel second class
There’ll be equality
And no suppression of minorities. Well alright.
We’ll take this planet, shake it round
And turn it upside down.
My supersonic rocket ship.

It ain’t no magic, ain’t no lie,
You’ll laugh so loud you’ll cry.
Up and down, round and round
On my supersonic rocket ship.

Let me take you on a little trip
My supersonic ship’s at your disposal
If you feel so inclined. Well alright.
Nobody’s gonna travel second class
There’ll be equality
And no suppression of minorities. Well alright.

Let me take you on a little trip
On my supersonic rocket ship…

[Songwriters: Ray Davies
Supersonic Rocket Ship lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC]

Avengers Cameo – That random kid in Endgame is someone we’ve seen before

Avengers: Endgame – What was that hammer sound in the credits?

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

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

Every X-Men Film Explained

Dark Phoenix marks the 12th film in the X-Men franchise.  While there is still one more X-Men film in the can, this will be our last journey with this set of characters.  Now that Disney owns both Fox and Marvel, they will supposedly reboot the franchise at some point and make it part of the Marvel universe.

Until then, all signs point to Dark Phoenix being the natural conclusion of this chapter of the franchise. As we prepare to say goodbye, here’s a brief primer on the first eleven films to help refresh your memory.  

 

The Original Trilogy

  • X-Men   The movie that introduced the X-Men characters to mainstream audiences.  Charles Xavier — founder of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters — and his fellow peace-loving mutants, try to stop Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants from mutating world leaders to bring about worldwide acceptance of mutants.    

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Charles Xavier (aka Professor X), Magneto, Wolverine, Rogue, Mystique, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm,  Sabretooth

  • X2  (AKA X-Men United) Heroes and villains work together to stop Wolverine’s creator, William Stryker, from using Cerebro as a weapon to find and kill all mutants.  

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Nightcrawler, Iceman, Pyro, Lady Deathstrike

  • X-Men:  The Last Stand  The first attempt at telling the Dark Phoenix story from the comics.  A drug company found a cure suppressing the mutant gene. This divides the mutant community.  Magneto reforms the Brotherhood and with a resurrected Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix form at his side, declares war on humans.  A final battle between the mutants ensues in San Francisco.

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Angel, Beast, Juggernaut, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Callisto, Multiple Man

The Wolverine Trilogy

  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine   Wolverine’s origin story.  We learn more about his relationship with William Stryker, how he got those adamantium claws, and why he doesn’t remember his past.  This is the only movie where Gambit appears. Ryan Reynolds plays a weak version of Deadpool in this film and doesn’t even get to use the character’s trademark sarcasm.  (He redeemed this in his own feature film later.)

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Gambit, Deadpool , Blob, John Wraith, Chris Bradley, Agent Zero

  • The Wolverine   After the events of The Last Stand, Wolverine returns to Japan to protect a friend’s granddaughter.  

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Yukio and Viper  

  • Logan  Wolverine and Xavier, now old men, try to protect a young girl with powers similar to Logan’s, in a world on the brink of destruction.   

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Laura

The New Trilogy

  • X-Men: First Class  A soft reboot of the franchise.  New actors play younger versions of the characters.  This is an origin story for several X-Men characters including Mystique, Magneto, Beast, and Charles Xavier, set during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  We find out why Xavier is in a wheelchair.

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Emma Frost, Azazel, Havok, Darwin, Sebastian Shaw, Banshee, Angel Salvadore, Riptide

  • X-Men:  Days of Future Past   Wolverine goes back in time to 1973 to stop the mutant-killing Sentinels from being invented.  This movie unites the cast from the original trilogy with the cast from First Class .

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Quicksilver, Bishop, Blink, Sunspot, Warpath

  • X-Men: Apocalypse   The first mutant awakens after thousands of years and puts together an apocalyptic team to create a new world order.  Xavier and Mystique must find a way to stop him.

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Apocalypse, Psylocke, Jubilee, Caliban

Deadpool Duology (And Once Upon A Deadpool)

  • Deadpool  The origin story of Deadpool.  Deadpool seeks revenge on the man who disfigured him.  Woe to the man known as Francis.

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Ajax, Angel Dust

  • Deadpool 2  To honor the memory of a loved one, Deadpool tries to save an orphan mutant from time traveling soldier Cable. 
  • There’s even a PG-13 version! <— With 15 minutes of new scenes! Read our review of Once Upon a Deadpool

Significant X-men/mutants introduced:   Domino and Firefist

 

The final X-Men film, The New Mutants, is slated to finally get a theatrical release next April.  Previous trailers suggest it will have a different tone than other X-Men movies and may even be a horror film.   As the title suggests, it will not feature Wolverine, Magneto, Mystique, or any other mutants we’ve come to love, but rather will feature a new cast of characters.  

Whether you need Peetimes for the latest superhero movies, need to know if there’s anything after the credits, or just want to stay up to date on the latest movie news, RunPee has you covered.  Follow us on Twitter @RunPee. Get Peetimes from our app to avoid missing the best parts of your favorite movies including Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Toy Story 4, and Men in Black: International.

 

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Movie Review – Logan

Movie review : X-Men First Class

X-Men: Days of Future Past – movie review

X-Men: Apocalypse (movie review)

Movie Review – Once Upon A Deadpool