It has been billed as The Ultimate Superhero Movie, meant to put viewers in the middle of the action like never before … and that was certainly an understatement, to say the least!

It started out like any other Marvel movie – we watched as Galactus slowly gained powers while the Avengers muddled about … a little 3D here, a bit of audience interaction there … until one way or another, the audience itself found ourselves all gaining mild superpowers – mostly limited flight or something non-threatening like that…

The battle started in some sort of mall and was a lot like the Spider-Man ride over at Universal Studios where Spider-Man keeps warning the guests to stay out of the way because it’s too dangerous. We seemed to spend most of our time flying around the area, dodging projectiles and trying to get a better vantage point to view what was happening on top of shelves or buildings or whatever they were. It was after the Avengers themselves were nearly defeated by Galactus that things really took a turn for the worse and we saw the ultimate angle that the show had been boasting about.

Our audience watched in awe as the theater itself seemed to open up into a much larger area that combined the audiences of several theaters together while we watched Galactus himself grow to the size of a small building before turning his attention to us and causing the audiences to run and scatter. Balloons fell from the ceiling, which we were told to pop in search of power-ups that could help us to defeat Galactus, though it was tough to focus on them because the giant would randomly pop up from behind the buildings that had appeared for us to take shelter behind, glaring down at us menacingly as we did whatever we could to avoid his gaze.

Occasionally if we were lucky enough to make it up to a rooftop, we could see the likes of Iron Man and Thor and Captain America planning a new assault on our foe, though it always seemed to fall short as he just continued growing larger and more powerful still…

At one point I actually found myself crawling underneath one of the buildings to evade detection, as the buildings in real life seemed to be inflatable like the decorations people put outside of their houses for Halloween and Christmas. Making my way to the back of the stadium, I frantically saw a corridor in the rafters and flew up high to take shelter in what appeared to be a storage area where a couple of other audience members had already taken refuge.

It was then that we all watched through the cracks as Galactus gathered his power into a laser that fired from his head in all directions at once, pretty much taking out every superhero around him as he slowly stormed out of the building, though we were lucky to miss his death rays on account of being all cowardly and hiding and whatnot!

Eventually as he disappeared into the distance, several of us decided to follow just to see what would happen next, commenting how the technology that enabled what we were watching was neat, however due to how expansive the arena was we really had no idea what the actual plot of the story was at that point because we weren’t always able to keep our eyes and ears on the main heroes on account of all of the running that we did ourselves.

In fact, when we finally reached the next area where the heroes had planned to confront Galactus one more time, by the time we arrived the entire scheme was actually in motion and although it looked like maybe some of the audience members were enlisted to help, it was still hard to tell.

What we thought was the last confrontation took place on a rooftop that I was able to fly up to see just as Iron Man was finishing shrinking Galactus down to a normal size and disassembling him, thus stripping him of his powers … though one way or another, Galactus enjoyed one last laugh as the heroes were celebrating their victory by emitting his rays one last time – now weak enough not to injure, but instead to strip the audience of the mild superpowers that they had gained at the beginning of the show.

…of course, the main heroes were able to avoid this blast…

The dream ended with masses of us walking back to where we first starting watching this epic movie, discussing both the highs and the lows, with just about everyone agreeing that it was definitely cool, though we all needed to watch it again in a normal theater to actually be able to follow along with the story that we had just participated in ourselves! 😕

movie thoughts … Concussion

June 25, 2016 4:14pm
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movie-concussionGreat movie – Will Smith nailed the accent to a T and I was surprisingly engaged despite not caring the least bit about sports, however we can’t really discuss this movie without bringing up the elephant in the room…

Why in the world do we still play football if it’s so freaking dangerous?!?!?!

As we saw the doctor’s research pan out and then begin to hit the public eye, it almost began an eerie foreshadowing of how the movie was ultimately going to end because clearly with the NFL still raking in billions every year, it’s not like this research that was published more than a decade ago has had any sort of significant impact on the perception and enjoyment of American football across the country.

Thankfully the story ended somewhat happily with Dr. Omalu continuing his investigative passion after turning down a lucrative government job offer, despite the league’s dumbfounding response where they kind of, sort of listened, but at the end of the day they’ve settled lawsuits that they tried to cover up the impact of concussions without actually taking any steps forward to help reduce the impact in the future!!!

I guess that’s what I was waiting to hear, even if just in the closing commentary before the credits, that perhaps new advancements in helmet technology or something was working hard to prevent these injuries from devastating the players after they’ve left their prime, but while they’re still enjoying their hard-earned retirement … and yet nothing of the sort was really offered up in that regard, which is sad because if you do the math, figure that it’s roughly a few hundred players in the NFL at a time taking these deadly risks every game, and millions of fans idolize the sport while billions of dollars are being made in the process…

…but still, is all of that worth it if the very players you’re cheering on the fields are literally killing themselves for the sport of the game?

I mean, it quickly becomes a complicated debate because if we’re being honest here – most of us do things that are bad for us all of the time, whether it’s not taking care of our health or driving less than responsibly on the road or even things like substance abuse, etc… We all take risks that gamble with lives, be it out of laziness or in exchange for pleasure or addiction, and so from that angle when you consider just how passionate people are about this sport, it’s not really a surprise that findings that could/should challenge the viability of the game wouldn’t exactly be greeted with open arms if it could mean having to find something else to do on Sunday nights.

It’s mostly just a tragic tale for me, not being in the slightest bit vested in football myself, aside from in general just not wanting to hear of people dying of preventable diseases, that is. It seems like common sense to me – brain fragile, don’t bash brain into other brains – but then again, there are plenty of other things that I don’t get about professional sports like the amount of public money that gets dumped into building new stadiums, only to have the teams blackout games for local viewers if the stands don’t get filled, but I digress.

Final thoughts – fantastic movie, amazing performance by Will Smith, and there’s no way my kids are going to play football without one hell of a fight. 🙁

movie thoughts … Deadpool

May 2, 2016 7:09pm
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deadpoolWell this movie was certainly not like the others, and I think that’s why so many people have been enjoying it since it hit the theaters a few months ago!

Let’s be honest – Ryan Reynolds’ other superhero role as Green Lantern was kind of awful … they even elude to this in Deadpool … but after so many great movies between the Avengers and X-Men franchises lately, they needed to do something special with Deadpool to make it stand out because I think if it had taken a more serious approach, it probably never would’ve held a candle to the likes of Captain America and Iron Man…

…but instead, this movie ended up being a fucking riot, which is probably how good, old Deadpool himself would’ve referred to it and was most definitely part of this psychotic assassin’s charm. 😉

If I had to make but a single critique of this movie, I guess I’d say that when it ended it kind of felt like it ran a bit short … and it was about 20-30 minutes shorter than some of the other superhero movies we’ve seen lately … but honestly I think that was probably more just a result of the movie’s use of flashbacks to tell the story, which in this case was really kind of genius because they knew that they needed to lead on a killer action scene that the story sequentially didn’t have … so telling it sort of MIDDLE – BEGINNING – END actually worked well.

All in all, I really enjoyed Deadpool because not every superhero movie can be a Cap or an Iron Man, and these studios have got to try some different approaches to telling comic book stories if they’re going to continue kicking them out as fast as they have been in the past. With these universes being so vast and (hopefully) plenty of fans being so god-awfully tired of hearing the origin stories for Wolverine and Spider-Man over and over again, movies like this give me hope that they might not be gunning every single superhero for that same cookie cutter template.

Not to mention the fact that Deadpool ran a budget of nearly 1/3 of the average superhero movie, yet so far as been more successful than just about any of the recents – save Avengers 2!

The Merc with a Mouth may not be the right formula for every superhero, but hey – we’ve had our share of civilized men in tights lately – maybe we were overdue for a foul-mouthed, slightly less bad guy who just enjoys killing people and pushing the envelope. 😉

Definitely not a movie for kids, but honestly, my kid’s going to have to be a teenager before he sees most of these films, so no real difference there.

movie thoughts … The Martian

January 3, 2016 1:06pm
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martianBest movie I’ve watched so far this year – hands down!

Ok, in all seriousness, it’s probably the best movie from last year that I’ve watched, too.

In fact, I’ve had this thing sitting here for a couple of weeks but we never felt like we were really in the mood for it I think because we thought it was more of a serious movie like Interstellar (which sucked), but as it turns out, The Martian was very much the opposite of Interstellar because it was fun, it featured science that actually sounded like it made sense, and Matt Damon didn’t end up being kind of a dick hole at the end, either! 😛

I mean, it’s no secret that Matt Damon is who really sold this movie because he’s the one who was on screen 80% of the time and his delivery was spot-on – they really did a good job of making a character with the desperation to live who never gave up. It’s why his monologue to close the movie out sent shivers down your spine – because you literally just watched this guy live every word he was preaching to the next class of astronauts going to Mars…

“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”

I especially loved the humor that he interjected into what otherwise could’ve been a pretty depressing tale of being stranded 140 million miles from home. “The greatest botanist on this planet” … “space pirate” … “I’d get to fly around like Iron Man” – he just had some fantastic dialog that helped really turn an otherwise dreary situation into something much more anxiously motivated because just as I was curious to see what he’d do next, I was equally terrified each time something would go wrong because really, how many things can go wrong while you’re stranded on another planet?!

Turns out a lot of things can go wrong, but in the face of disaster you just need to keep going.

It was a sweet movie and I can see myself watching bits and pieces of this one a bunch in the future. $200 billion to rescue Matt Damon from Mars? I think we got ourselves bargain this time!

So I noticed something interesting late this evening while I was watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation whilst buried under a mountain of kleenex. I’d never really thought much about it before because it’s really only featured in the opening scene, but the Family Truckster – the iconic mode of transport that takes the family to Wally World in the first Vacation movie – isn’t actually the same car as the one in the first movie!

Now maybe this is completely intentional, but because I’ve got plenty of cough syrup coursing through my veins *I* thought it was an interesting, fun little fact. And granted, the movies themselves were released 6 years apart, so it could be argued that of course it’s a new car, although it seems like my own family growing up milked our family Oldsmobile for far longer than that.

PLUS!!!

The Truckster that made its cameo in this year’s Vacation sequel in fact was the original car, or at least one that looked a lot like it, so … that!

Anyways, here’s the original…

wagon-queen-family-truckster-national-lampoons-vacation

And here’s the version from Christmas Vacation, which appears to just be some sort of Ford Taurus painted to resemble the unmatchable Family Truckster…

1989-Ford-Taurus-Wagon6

I tell you, it really broke the continuity for me to see all of those sleek and sexy curves of the Taurus in place of the blocky, ton of bricks-exterior that the original Truckster was known for. Ok, so not really, but cough syrup will do strange things to a man, so frankly you’re lucky your even getting advent blog posts at all right now!

Holiday ro-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ad, holiday ro-o-o-o-o-o-ad… 

Not to be confused with Scott’s Top 5 Christmas Specials which we’ll be covering a little later on this month, this is a list that changes quite frequently … in fact, I’ll probably have changed my mind by the time I’m finished writing this … but for the time being, these are the holiday movies that I’m banking on for this holiday season because, well, bleh I’m sick and there’s a good chance I’ll probably be watching every single one of them over the next couple of days… 😛

  1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Clark W. Griswold is America’s everyman and if there’s a person who can’t relate to Chevy Chase’s iconic character who just wants the perfect Christmas, well chances are that’s because they’re really one of the obnoxious relatives making it tougher for the rest of us…
  2. A Christmas Story – I honestly used to kind of hate this movie, admittedly before I ever really sat down and watched it, but now much like Christmas Vacation, I can recognize it as the true timeless classic that it really is.
  3. A Muppet Family Christmas – Quite possibly the best Muppet movie ever, this snowed-in treasure has a great sing-a-long soundtrack, includes just about every character from the Muppet universe, and even features a swell cameo from Jim Henson himself doing the dishes with Sprocket at the end!
  4. Die Hard – Seriously, the only thing this jolly, old holiday tale is missing is John McClane running around Nakatomi Plaza wearing a Santa hat while he’s mowing down terrorists the American way. It’s got Christmas music, the phrase “ho ho ho” is prominently featured – what more could an elf need?!
  5. Home Alone – This was pretty much the perfect kids movie because it first came out when I was 10 years old myself. And that Christmas I dreamed of stopping burglars with my Micro-Machines and throwing paint cans off the banister at intruders, all because my stupid uncle ate the cheese pizza that Dad bought especially for me. Christmas.

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movie thoughts … The Peanuts Movie

November 24, 2015 11:38pm
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peanutsTonight we took Christopher to see his second movie in the theater, and overall I think he really liked it.

For what it’s worth, I really liked it, too!

Unlike a certain unnamed lasagna-loving cat’s recent movies that were pretty much awful, The Peanuts Movie did a great job of keeping the spirit of the characters that we’ve come to know and love from the likes of A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown while also introducing a new style as the first look at the Peanuts gang via CGI.

I loved a number of the callbacks throughout the film, though I think the scenes featuring Snoopy vs. the Red Baron where we’d periodically see his surroundings in real life amid the fantasy were my favorite.

Sara noted that Christopher himself seemed to take a particular liking to Woodstock and his own little antics, so that was kind of neat!

A lot of times I have a hard time getting into non-Disney animated movies just because Disney and Pixar have done such a great job of setting the bar so high, but they really did a good job with this one from start to finish and now in hindsight, I think I can say that the scads of Peanuts merchandise that I was inundated with while Christmas shopping over the weekend is well warranted indeed. 😉

Super cute movie, very much true to the spirit of the late Charles Schulz, and a great way to introduce a new generation to an old favorite.

Loved the end credits, too … the football almost had me tearing up as I was grinning ear to ear!!!

movie thoughts … Ant-Man

November 23, 2015 9:08am
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antmanI didn’t really think I was going to like this one, but I suppose it wasn’t too bad.

It definitely felt like a second-rate Marvel movie, though – don’t get me wrong there…

I don’t know – I guess I have sort of mixed feelings about Ant-Man because on one hand, I do enjoy Paul Rudd even though it was odd to see him in not a straight-up comedy, but the character itself to me still feels kind of silly … even though I watched him do some awesome things there on the screen. Maybe I don’t get the switching back from big to small thing in rapid succession like he would do in the battles … I feel like I’m a little lost with his strength because sure, ants are strong, but it’s still relative and when he’s the size of an ant, isn’t 50x his strength still super small as well???

Maybe he’s switching back to normal size just long enough to punch and then going back, although I thought the suit just allowed him to change size, not give him added strength.

The other Marvel superheroes don’t make me have to think this much when I’m watching their movies!

Anyways, there were plenty of segments that were predictable, like when he has to go sub-atomic at the end, and for some reason looking at Evangeline Lilly made it feel like she was obviously wearing a wig for her character, which made it a little odd. Michael Douglas is always fun to see and this seemed like more of a unique role for him than the presidential characters that he’s somewhat iconic for playing.

I think my biggest disappointment was honestly in the tie-ins to the other Marvel movies because at the very beginning they did a good job of including Agent Carter and Howard Stark, then later making references to calling in The Avengers … I was expecting some decent cameos eventually, but instead the most we got was the Falcon, which was a neat little solo scene for him, but it would’ve been nice to see one or more of the tier one heroes even for just a quick appearance.

If anything, between this, the scene at the end of Avengers 2, and knowing the general theme of Captain America: Civil War, it makes me a little nervous that we’re going to see the collective group split into multiple teams of superheroes that don’t really pack the same punch as the original group and mostly serve to allow Marvel to kick out twice as many movies with this growing array of characters in the MCU.

But we’ll see. Ant-Man was more or less enjoyable, though I wouldn’t be eager to watch it over and over again like I have some of the classics.

movie thoughts … Pixels

November 11, 2015 1:32am
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pixels_movieOh man – was this thing horrible.

I mean, seriously – how did Adam Sandler basically become the Dane Cook of comedy movie producers where he used to be funny, yet somehow now literally every single thing that the man touches … including apparently my childhood love of video games … just turns to complete and total garbage?!

So where do I start?

“Arcader” – not a term that anyone who’s ever actually cared about video games has ever used. Sounded incrementally more utterly stupid with every utterance … why they didn’t just go with “gamer” makes this a hideous first strike in my book.

The opening plot for this movie with the world championships and the time capsule felt like what the guys who had been tasked to write a movie script about Battleship first came up with before they scrapped it and said, “Come on – we can do better than this…”

The “pixelation” … which apparently became a coined term within hours of the alien invasion that caused it … made about as much sense as Battleship pegs falling out of the sky. It would make sense that the aliens would be all pixelated when they’re destroyed, but why would our stuff do the same???

Kevin James can’t be President … at least not of the United States. Maybe of the PTA or the neighborhood homeowner’s association, but not the whole United States.

The nod to Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani was neat, but it would’ve been cooler if they actually would’ve had him play himself in the movie! Instead he only made a non-speaking cameo while another actor played him during his brief battle with his creation.

Also, the “cheat codes” plot device doesn’t really make sense when not only are the heroes driving cars instead of joysticks, but the cheat codes would’ve been for Pac-Man, not the freaking ghosts!!!

Come to think of it – how do the aliens even know all of the rules of these games??? They were sent a VHS tape of the competition, not the source code to all of the arcade games!

…anyways…

Lady Lisa becomes unpixelated for inexplicable reasons, save for that she’s hot and Gad’s character wants her.

Sandler worked way too hard to kill Donkey Kong because all he had to do was climb the last ladder. You don’t kill Donkey Kong by throwing the hammer at him. That’s not how Donkey Kong works.

In the finale, our pseudo-president talks about “negotiating a truce” with the aliens, which we never saw because Sandler just beat Donkey Kong and disappeared. Nonetheless, everyone else apparently wins, too, as every possible conflict gets nicely tied up into a bow in roughly 30 seconds before the credits roll. Even Toru Iwatani’s stunt double sees his hand grow back – seriously, all that’s missing is the group high-five…

Also, apparently after the movie is over, I guess that Josh Gad fucks Q*bert or something.

Better Video Game Movies From the Last Few Years to Watch Instead of Pixels:

  • Wreck-It Ralph
  • Tron: Legacy
  • Scott Pilgrim vs the World (I didn’t even like this movie, but at least the video game effects were legit)

movie thoughts … Vacation

October 20, 2015 9:28am
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vacation_movieCan Hollywood go just one summer without trying to remake and therefore ruin another timeless classic?! 😯

Honestly, although I wasn’t really sure how this one was going to go, I was actually both hopefully as well as a little curious because over the last year or so I’ve grown a bit more fond of the entire series of National Lampoon’s Vacation movies, with the original 1983 Vacation becoming one of my latest go-to movies to put on when I don’t really feel like watching anything in particular, but still want something to listen to in the background.

Thankfully, for the most part Ed Helms was able to take up the, err, helm of the bumbling, but good-intentioned family man pretty well and I actually ended up really enjoying it! It certainly helped that the movie acknowledged what most of us were thinking fairly early on in the film…

Rusty’s Wife – “So you just want to redo your vacation from 30 years ago? Don’t you think that’s going to be kind of a let down???”

Rusty – “We’re not redoing anything – this will be completely different. For one thing, the original vacation had a boy and a girl, this one has two boys, and I’m sure that there will be lots of other differences!”

Rusty’s Son – “I’ve never even heard of the original vacation.”

Rusty – “Doesn’t matter…”

It was one of those remakes where there were enough similarities to bring back good memories of the classic moments from the first movie, but not so much that it just felt like a desperate, shot-for-shot remake. And granted, some of the ideas worked better than others – I liked the relationship between him and his wife and their struggles, but the younger kid bullying his older brother felt a little uncomfortable to me … to the point where I think I was entirely too happy when he finally stood up for himself and shifted the tides!

Of course, it was also neat to see Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo make a short cameo as the grandparents as another nod. I think it was almost a cheerable moment when Clark handed down the keys to the old Family Truckster to help Rusty complete the final leg of his pilgrimage to the forever-sacred Wally World. Even the inspirational chat with old pa leading up to that exchange was both kinda funny and endearing at the same time…

Rusty – “We’ve had enough – this trip has been a nightmare.”

Clark – “Well, that’s what family vacations are, but you can’t give up, Russ…”

Rusty – “They always say that it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, right?”

Clark – “The journey sucks … that’s what makes you appreciate the destination. You had a dream to take your family to Wally World – never let that go. I know I didn’t.”

I just loved this scene because in only a few short lines of dialogue, they really managed to sum up who Clark Griswold, and now his son Rusty, too, is to a T … family men who dream big and will inevitably always come up short, yet perpetually continue looking forward even as everyone else has given up on their Christmas light displays and gone back into the house or despite the realization that the entire family has just taken a bath in liquid sewage.

It’s kind of too bad to hear that apparently this didn’t really do too great at the box office or among most reviewers, but I enjoyed it and it’s one of the few recent remakes that I feel actually continues to build on its franchise instead of dragging on or even taking away from its original glory. Clark Griswold would be proud, even if nobody else was… 😉

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