CGB Review of The LEGO Movie (2014)

There’s no other way to begin this review except by saying…

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!¬† ūüėÄ

This is my review of The LEGO Movie!

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Emmet (Chris Pratt)¬†is just your average, ordinary…LEGO person or piece or whatever you call him.¬† Anyway, Emmet lives a pretty unremarkable life as a construction worker amidst a sea of yellow faces.¬† When a strange piece called “the piece of resistance” gets stuck on Emmet’s back, he is whisked away by oddball characters such as a pretty tough gal named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks)¬†and the prophet Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman)¬†on a mission to stop the evil Lord Business from freezing the entire LEGO world using the Kragle.

This plot is so ridiculous and nonsensical, which is why I love it so much!

The Hits
This movie is so gosh darn creative!  I was laughing so hard when I saw that the lava in the opening scene is made of red LEGOS!  I love how even the water is made of blue LEGOS.  The animation is truly something to behold.  Rich colors, smooth movements, excellent camerawork, the level of detail is astonishing and you can tell that a lot of thought and precision went into making everything just right.
For being a boring everyman…LEGO…being thingamajig, Emmet is a pretty endearing character.¬† They don’t make him clumsy or any other everyman (or everywoman) character trope, but they don’t give him special powers or any quality that would make him stand out.¬† He’s just¬†a bland, likable¬†guy with a kind heart (and a face of yellow)¬†who ends up truly being the hero that¬†the city needs.¬† Wyldstyle is pretty funny and with Vitruvius, you can tell that Morgan Freeman is trying so hard not to laugh with each line of dialogue he says.¬† Also Will Arnett’s Batman had me rolling on the floor laughing.¬† Batman¬†sure does¬†bruit a lot, doesn’t he?¬† I know that’s¬†one of his signature qualities, but seen in a satirical¬†form really does put perspective on it.
This is the kind of movie that should not have worked, but makes itself work with awesome results.¬† What makes this ridiculous concept work is its self-awareness.¬† The script knows that it is a laughable idea and, instead of trying to make itself more epic than it actually is, it embraces the nonsense and comedic possibilities. ¬†Self-important prophecies, the chosen one narrative and pop culture are satirized to great effect.¬†¬†The voice actors do a great job at taking things seriously when it is needed, but they aren’t like characters in a Christopher Nolan film where EVERY. SINGLE. LINE. OF. DIALOGUE is treated as the most important thing ever said.¬† The tongue-in-cheek quality is why this movie is so hilarious and¬†a real blast to watch!

The Misses
The action is so fast-paced that it is hard to see at times.  Viewers with sensitive eyes or who are prone to getting headaches from watching fast motion with neon colors might want to close their eyes during the action sequences.

Everything is awesome with the LEGO Movie!¬† This surprise hit from 2014 is a brilliantly animated gem that both kids and adults can enjoy.¬† Top-notch animation, an impressive cast, charming characters, and a clever use of satire and cheeky humor all culminates to the LEGO Movie being…just so darn…AWESOME!¬† ūüėÄ

Saint Isidore the Farmer, pray for us.

CGB Collaboration Review of Kubo and the Two Strings With Patheos Blogger Monique Ocampo

If you must blink, do it now, because this is my collaboration review of Kubo and the Two Strings guest-starring Patheos blogger Monique Ocampo/MsOWrites!

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Kubo is a young boy who lives with his sometimes-catatonic mother in a cave by the sea. Every day he walks down to the village and entertains the villagers by telling stories using origami that comes to life when he plays his shamisen (a Japanese three-stringed instrument). ¬†There is a catch to Kubo’s existence: He must never ever stay out after dark. He soon figures out the reason when he stays out past dark and his evil spirit Aunts come to take him to his “grandfather” the Moon King, who intends to take Kubo’s remaining eye. ¬†With the help of a monkey and a beetle, Kubo must find his deceased father’s armor and defeat the Moon King.
This is basically Pan’s Labyrinth for kids…and I LOVE it! ¬†I’m not alone; my good friend Monique Ocampo, who you might know as MsOWrites from the Suicide Squad review. Don’t worry, we’re not gonna get kidnapped by Amanda Waller again. ¬†As in our Batman v. Superman review, my points will be in blue and MsOWrites’ points will be in purple.

CGB Hits
I absolutely adore how imaginative this film is!  Like the titular character, the world we are introduced to is brimming with creativity.  I have always had a soft spot for Asian culture, so I appreciate that the story takes place in ancient Japan.
The first ten minutes has the best use of “show-don’t-tell” that I’ve seen in a long time. ¬†Yes, there is some opening narration from Kubo himself, but his dialogue is not an exposition spiel; rather the visuals are allowed to do all the talking. ¬†Any time the movie does resort to expositional dialogue, it is kept brief. ¬†Speaking of the visuals, the animation is–holy cow–just breathtaking! ¬†I turned to the friend who accompanied me and said, “Dude, that looks like real water!” ¬†There’s an impressive painting-come-to-life feel with the color palatte and the design of the locations that make the film a beauty to behold.
The story itself is truly inspired! ¬†Granted, the “adventures-of-a-half human-half celestial-child” story has been done before, but having him be a gifted storyteller who can bring origami to life with a musical instrument is quite an impressive twist. ¬†The most admirable quality of the film are the morals. ¬†I really like how Monkey tells Kubo, “Your magic is growing stronger. ¬†You need to learn control. ¬†But when we grow stronger the world grows more dangerous.” ¬†Trust me when I say that her statement holds a lot of truth.
Earlier this year, I reviewed the Jungle Book, in which I pointed out how the film reminded me of something a friend said to me, “Let the angels and the saints deal with the devil. ¬†They know what they’re doing.” ¬†Kubo and the Two Strings also brought those words to mind! ¬† Similarly to how our guardian angels tackle the evil one when he tries to mess with us, any time the hawkish evil spirit aunts come to harrass Kubo, Monkey and Beetle are there to fight them off while Kubo either accomplishes a task or seeks refuge. ¬† It is with their help that Kubo becomes strong enough and fully-equipped to finally take on the Moon King himself. ¬†Also, the climactic confrontation between Kubo and Moon King does come with an Eden-style temptation. ¬†Basically it’s the “join me and you will become like gods” thing, much like how the old serpent told Eve that if she ate the apple, she’d become like God. ¬† Between this and the Jungle Book, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that kids films come with an interest in the mysterious spiritual world.

MsOWrites Hits
It’s so refreshing to find a movie for general audiences that has a completely original premise.  My brother and I were obsessed with Japanese culture since we were kids and we were both looking forward to seeing this movie.  It lived up to the expectations I had and then blew me out of the water.
The animation is stunning, the characters are all enjoyable, and the writing is a breath of fresh air amongst the remakes and reboots out there.  The movie does not play things safe and yet I would totally recommend this movie to basically everyone.
The central themes of this movie are about the importance of family and the power of a good story. Kubo goes on a journey to finish what his father started: to find the armor that will help him defeat the Moon King. Monkey, Beetle, and Little Hanzo all made for excellent travelling companions.
The Sisters were intimidating, frightening villains as well.  I also love all the action sequences because there was a variety of them. The townsfolk play a great role as supporting characters who do more than just act as bystanders.  I love that they accept Kubo’s gift and don’t treat him like an outsider like other movies would.

CGB Misses
The friend who came with me to see this movie had some questions about Kubo’s scary aunts. ¬†“If his grandfather is the Moon King, then are his aunts supposed to be stars or something?” ¬†This is just one of the film’s unanswered questions.
Is it just me or is the danger Kubo faces at the hands of his tyrannical grandfather lacking some weight? ¬†Let me explain: So essentially, if Kubo is caught by the Moon King and the hawk-women, then they will take his remaining eye…and then what? ¬†Are they gonna just leave him blinded on earth? ¬†Is he going to be made into a freaky spirit person like them? ¬† Also, other than being the product of his mother’s disobedience against the Moon King, why is the Moon King threatened by Kubo’s existence? ¬† Does the Moon King believe that Kubo being half-human, half-celestial mean that he [Kubo] will try to overthrow him? ¬†Now, to be fair, in their final confrontation, the Moon King does offer to take Kubo with him and make him an infinite being, but still, I think that if the threat had been written as “the Moon King’s gonna snatch Kubo’s other eye and enslave him,” or something like that, it would’ve helped.
Speaking of the Moon King, here’s my issue: I totally understand why he is a threat to Kubo, but the movie doesn’t make him seem like a threat to anyone else. ¬†The Moon King doesn’t seem to be feared by anyone else in the movie’s universe. ¬†In Harry Potter, Voldemort was a threatening presence regardless of whether or not Harry was around; it just so happened that he had his sights set on The Boy Who Lived and anyone associated with him. ¬†Here, though, it would have helped to see the Moon King burn down a village or require insane sacrifices or something; anything to raise the stakes of his existence.

MsOWrites Misses
While I will say that all the actors did a great job in this movie, I wish that George Takei had more than just a cameo role. I also think that this movie could’ve been even better with Asian actors in the main roles. Matthew McConaughey’s acting is uneven, albeit has its own interesting brand of charm.

Elephant in the Room
Right before we did this collab, one of my Facebook friends sent me an article from a well¬≠regarded Catholic news source that dismissed this movie and said that it promoted ‚Äúneo¬≠Pagan values.‚ÄĚ As somebody who grew up watching Charmed, reads Harry Potter, and still watches Buffy, I think that the themes in this movie are just as Catholic as any Bible¬≠-based movie. ¬†For one thing, the central theme of this movie is the importance of family. ¬†While the main villains are Kubo‚Äôs grandfather and aunts, it‚Äôs reminiscent of Luke 12:53 ‚ÄúThey will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-¬≠in-¬≠law against daughter-¬≠in-¬≠law and daughter-¬≠in-¬≠law against mother-¬≠in-¬≠law.” The Moon King and his daughters are arrogant because they fail to comprehend things such as compassion and selfless love. Without going into spoiler territory, the ending of this movie shows justice and mercy rendered unto the Moon King.
Yes, I did see the article about Kubo promoting the occult and I will tell you that I didn’t see a single ouija board, tarot card, voodoo doll or anything occult-like in this entire movie. ¬†In fact, the villains were reminiscent of demons while Monkey and Beetle were basically Kubo’s guardian angels. ¬†If anything, the story borrows heavily from Greek mythology with hints of Shintoism. ¬†For the record, Shinto is a Japanese religion and given that the story does take place in ancient Japan, ¬†it only makes sense to borrow influence from a Japanese religion. ¬†So fear not, guys and gals, Kubo and the Two Strings is NOT pro-occult propoganda. ¬†Frankly, I don’t think the devil really cares about stop-motion animation and the film’s pro-family message would probably have him tripping over himself as he tries to flee.

Overall, Kubo and the Two Strings is a gorgeously-animated and highly imaginative story that, much like the live-action Jungle Book film, has a lot to say about the spiritual realm without being overt about it. ¬†It’s one of those films that encourages children to create things and use their imaginations. ¬†Kubo and the Two Strings is a well-crafted film that respects the intelligence of children while giving adults a thing or two to think about.

Venerable Takayama Ukon and Saint Paul Miki, pray for us.

CGB Review of Hell or High Water

I don’t know about you, but if I was at the bank and Chris Pine came in to rob us, I’d be so focused on those beautiful blue eyes of his that he’d take all my money.

This is my review of Hell or High Water!

hell-or-high-water-trailer

Toby Howard is a divorced father who robs banks with his volitale brother Tanner in order to gather more than enough money to pass on to his [Toby’s] young sons and ex-wife. After the death of their ailing mother, Toby and Tanner ¬†Along the way, the dysfunctional Howard brothers must avoid two Texas rangers, Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham), who are on their trail.

The Hits
Chris Pine and Ben Foster have incredibly believable chemistry as brothers who both love and hate each other. ¬†Toby’s strong, silent demeanor and Tanner’s violent energy play off one another very well. ¬†I do think the biggest standout has got to be Ben Foster as the loose-cannon Tanner. ¬†A self-serving former inmate with nowhere else to go and no one willing to stand by him, the only unselfish act that Tanner is capable of is helping out his brother and even then, he does so on his own terms and by his own means.
Jeff Bridges is basically playing Jeff Bridges, but by golly, he sure does a good job at it! ¬†Like Pine and Foster, Bridges and Birmingham also have an enjoyable rapport. ¬†Granted, Marcus “bonds” with Alberto via jokes about Native Americans, but they look out for one another and appreciate each other’s company. ¬†In a way, their dynamic resembles Toby and Tanner’s; Marcus is loose and lacks filter, while Alberto is more collected and prudent. I really appreciate how the familial bond between Toby and Tanner and the professional bond between Marcus and Alberto mirror each other.
The script exercises subtley very well. ¬†No one goes on an expositonal spiel, plot points aren’t blatantly spelled out; rather the visuals and the character interactions do the talking. ¬†The writer of last year’s “Sicario” also wrote the script for this film and it’s clear that he knows plenty about rural living, hence he uses that knowledge to great effect here in this movie. ¬†Speaking of which, like “Sicario,” the camerawork here is excellent! ¬†The opening scene is one long tracking shot that builds the suspence perfectly. ¬†One shot I profoundly remember is of Toby and Tanner messing around with each other in the waking hours of dawn; we mostly see their silhouettes against a brightening sky, which illustrates the dark and light aspects of their relationship.

The Misses
If you’ve seen the film’s trailer, they build up the Texas Midland Bank as the main antagonist. ¬†However, in the actual movie, Texas Midland Bank is more of an indirect antagonist than a direct and active one. ¬†We learn that the bank cheated Toby and Tanner’s mother before she died and it’s clear that the Bank is a player in Toby’s financial issues, but these revelations are presented to us after the fact, so the Bank’s presence as an antagonistic force carries little weight. ¬† This would not have been an issue had the trailer focused more on Toby and Tanner’s run from Marcus and Alberto.

Overall, Hell or High Water is an intriguing slow burn, a carefully-crafted character study of both cops and robbers.  Despite that one small hiccup about the fictional bank, Hell or High Water rests on the shoulders of stunning cinematography, nuanced storytelling and the thoughtful performances from its leading men.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us.

CGB Mega-Collaboration Review of Suicide Squad (2016) featuring MsOWrites, Rosalie Contrite, Catholic N00b and Surrender the Brownies

You know, for a team called the “Suicide Squad”, only one person in the squad actually kicks the bucket.

This is my¬†review of–

AMANDA WALLER:¬†Hello, Catholic Girl Bloggin’.
ME: (looks up) What the?  How did you get in my house?!
AMANDA WALLER: Flag, get the chloroform.
ME: Hey, why is Rick Flag soaking a cloth with chloroform in my kitchen?  (Sees RICK FLAG approaching) Before I go under, this is my review of Suicide Squad!

(Cuts to black)

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Based on the fictional organization known as¬†Task Force¬†X in¬†DC Comics, Suicide Squad is¬† basically what happens when Viola Davis–er, I mean–Amanda Waller decides it would be a good idea to¬†assemble a taskforce of¬†DC comic book baddies should another Superman ever walk the planet again.¬† Things go horribly awry when a squad member named Dr. June Moore, aka Enchantress goes off the rails and uses her dark magic brouhaha to ruin the city.¬† Now it’s up to Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Rick Flag, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo and¬†Katana to save the world from being enslaved by Enchantress all while the threat of the Joker looms large.

(Wakes up in the back of a truck) W-where am I?
MsOWrites: Catholic Girl Bloggin’?
ME: Huh?¬†¬†MsOWrites, is that¬†you?¬† You’ve been kidnapped too?
MsOWrites: Yeah, they grabbed me while I was on vacation.  AND they took my new scapular, too!
ME: Those jerks!  Kidnapping bloggers and taking scapulars!
(Enter ROSALIE CONTRITE)
ROSALIE CONTRITE: At least you weren’t snatched up while in the middle of a podcast.
ME: Is that why yesterday’s Contrite¬†podcast ended so abruptly?
ROSALIE CONTRITE: Apparently my latest “interview” was a set-up.
(Enter SURRENDER THE BROWNIES)
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: Better that than having your brownies spiked so that you’d end up unconscious.
(Enter CATHOLIC N00b)
CATHOLIC N00b: There are three things in life that I know to be true: There is a God, taxation is theft and Amanda Waller will kidnap you at some point in your life.
ME: It looks like Waller has her sights set on Catholic bloggers.
(The truck stops and the trailer opens up) (Enter AMANDA WALLER)
AMANDA WALLER: Good morning, ladies.¬† I see that you already know one another.¬† Let’s cut to the chase: I want to assemble a taskforce of Catholic bloggers to fight off supernatural entities.
ME: But what exactly would we do in the wake of such an event?
AMANDA WALLER: Oh, you wouldn’t do anything…but your Guardian Angels would.¬† If your Guardian Angel gave you, CGB,¬†a katana in your BFG review, then imagine what he and¬†the other¬†Guardian Angels¬†would do if I held you and your friends hostage.
ME: Wait, what?¬†¬†You’re gonna try to¬†get other people’s Angels to do your bidding.
MsOWrites: Your logic is not compatible with our Earth logic.
CATHOLIC N00b:¬†That’s not how this works.¬† That’s not how any of this works!
ROSALIE CONTRITE: Oh, the early Church fathers would have a field day rebuking you, Ms. Waller.
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: Somebody get Bishop Robert Barron over here ASAP!
ME: (Looks in the back of the truck) Hey, you guys do realize that our weapons are in the truck, right?
AMANDA WALLER: (Looks confused) Wait, those aren’t supposed to be there.¬† (Gets hit in the shoulder¬†with ROSALIE CONTRITE’s arrow)
ME: (Grabs katana) Looks like our Angels are looking out for us!
(CATHOLIC N00b uses the Force to pull her lightsaber towards her, while MsOWrites whips out her crossbow and stake) 
ME: Hey, Surrender the Brownies, what’s your weapon?
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: (Smiles as fire emanates in her hands) You’re about to find out why my brownies are the very¬†best, like no one ever was!
ME: And now the Pokémon theme song is stuck in my head again.
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES:¬†(Raises arms) I’m gonna need everyone out of the truck in 3…
ROSALIE CONTRITE: Everybody, move!
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: …2…
(Everyone evacuates the truck)
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: …1…(Incinerates the truck with her fire powers)
ME: (Looks around at the destruction of the truck, as well as any buildings in the area)
MsOWrites: CGB, look out!¬† (Pushes me out of the way of a¬†falling Little Caesar’s¬†sign)
ME: I didn’t know there was a Little Caesar’s nearby.¬† (Stand up and¬†brushes off the¬†dirt¬†and soot¬†from my¬†clothes) Well, I’ll tell you all one thing: This was an impressive showcase¬†of our super abilities, kind of like the new Suicide Squad movie…

The Hits
The film’s bombastically comedic tone works to its advantage.¬† It matches the unstable nature of the characters and the aimlessness of the narrative.
This movie is definitely what I call a “character showcase,” in that the script allows the charisma of the¬†cast of villainous characters to shine.¬† In particular,¬†Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Killer Croc, Katana¬†and El Diablo look amazing!¬†¬†The costume designs don’t look too silly, which make it easier for them to be taken seriously when said characters are on screen.
I feel that Harley Quinn was handled as well as she could have been.¬† She has¬†her signature¬†sadistic charm, but¬†Margot Robbie doesn’t make her too over-the-top or¬†childish.¬†¬†The flashbacks of her time with the Joker give us an idea of why she is the way she is.¬† While I am¬†very aware of the abusive nature of her relationship with the Joker in the comics, I thought that, for the time being,¬†it made sense (at least for this first installment) for her to have glorified flashbacks of her time with him.¬†¬†She seems to me to be someone who has not yet¬†figured out who the Joker truly is, therefore she is subconsciously allowing herself to remember only “good” times with the Joker.¬† Going¬†forward, I do hope that we get to see Harley’s eyes opened and for her to begin breaking away from the Joker’s hold on her, but for now, her mentally instability is well established via¬†the flashbacks and her own behavior.
I was somewhat invested in the romance between Rick Flag and June Moore/Enchantress’ relationship.¬† While their scenes together are short,¬†the¬†performances of both actors involved capture the difficulty of their¬†romance. ¬†In fact, I wish they had their own movie.¬† How interesting would it have been to see the story of a man coping with his semi-possessed girlfriend?
I really like the¬†rapport between Deadshot and Rick Flag.¬† There’s a reluctant brotherhood to their¬†argumentative relationship that makes it enjoyable to watch.¬† Speaking of which, yes, Will Smith is as charismatic as always.¬† Granted, his “assassin with a heart of gold” trope is pretty overdone, but you know, I actually like that archetype; it has conversion-story potential to it.
Where the last DC film I endured–er, I mean–watched, which was Batman v. Superman, was dreary and convoluted, Suicide Squad is definitely a step up in terms of having fun with its premise and¬†being actually entertaining instead of¬†populating the screen with bruiting¬†men.

SURRENDER THE BROWNIES
: (Raises her arms) Come to me, my chickens!  Mwahahaha!  (An array of chickens teleport onto the scene)
CATHOLIC N00b: The Force is strong with this one.
ME:What, with her or her chickens?
CATHOLIC N00b: (Grins) Why not both?
MsOWrites: Hey, where did Amanda Waller go?
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: Buttercup, come to me!  (A chicken named BUTTERCUP approaches SURRENDER THE BROWNIES) Find Amanda Waller!
BUTTERCUP: Bawk bawk bawk bawk bawk…(scurries away to find AMANDA WALLER)
ME: Hey, instead of going on a wild goose chase for¬†one of the cast members from “The Help”,¬†shouldn’t we¬†just¬†call the rest of the Avengers?
CATHOLIC N00b: You mean the Marvel superheroes?
ME: No, I mean the Pro-Life Avengers!¬† I’m talking about Pink-Haired Papist,¬†Aimee Murphy,¬†Albany Rose, Angel Armstead, Kelsey Hazzard,¬†Stargift Tarakasha and, of course, Bryan Kemper!
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: We’ll¬†assemble with¬†them during the next Planned Parenthood protest.
(Enter AMANDA WALLER)
AMANADA WALLER: (holds up BUTTERCUP the chicken by the legs)¬†You guys thought I’d just run off without apprehending you, didn’t you?

SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: (Lights hands with fire powers) Release Buttercup now, Waller!
ROSALIE CONTRITE: I got this!  (Holds bow and arrow to AMANDA WALLER)
AMANDA¬†WALLER: (sinister¬†smirk) (clutches onto BUTTERCUP’s legs tighter)¬†Go ahead, shoot the arrow and provide me with a nice chicken dinner.
ME: (raises katana) Ready your weapons, gal pals!
AMANDA WALLER: Oh, I’m not the only one you’ll be fighting…

ROSALIE CONTRITE
: Shush!  Do you hear that?
(An eerie, maniacal laugh is heard from a distance)
ME: Uh oh, looks like¬†Trump found us…
MsOWrites: No, no, it sounds more hoarse and chain-smokerish.
ME: Oh, so it’s Hilary whose after us!
(Enter THE JOKER, who pulls up in a white van with henchmen accompanying him)
JOKER: Well, well, well, if it isn’t the League of Catholic Bloggers.
MsOWrites: I didn’t know we were an established¬†League.
ME: (Gasps) Oh my gosh!¬†(Pause) I think I like Heath¬†Ledger’s Joker better.
JOKER: (Eyes narrow in my direction)¬†Oh, talking like that’s¬†gonna get ya hurt, baby doll.¬† (Whips out semi-automatic) (The henchmen start surrounding us)
MsOWrites: CGB, look out!  (whips out stake and crossbow and shoots a henchman coming towards me) Strong like an AMAZON!  (spins around and slashes enemies with her stake)
CATHOLIC N00b:¬†(Smiles as she lifts up her lightsaber) Time for my ultimate battle cry…(flips into the air)¬†Taxation is THEFT! (Slices through henchmen as she lands)
ROSALIE CONTRITE: Hey, Surrender the Brownies…(raises bow and arrows)…think we¬†can use some of that fire power of yours?
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: (Grins) (Hands light up with flames) I thought you’d never ask.
(SURRENDER THE BROWNIES creates a shield of fire around herself and ROSALIE CONTRITE, who shoots flaming arrows at oncoming henchmen)
ME
:¬†(Holds up katana) When in doubt…(runs into henchmen)…Offer it up!¬† (takes down henchmen with jumps, kicks and the katana)¬†Whoa, what the?!
JOKER: (Charges at me)¬†I’d like to think that I was pretty good in Suicide Squad!
ME: You want me to lie to ya or tell ya what I really think?
JOKER: Surprise me, sweetheart.
ME: Well…

The Misses
It’s PAINFULLY obvious that¬†many of the¬†Joker’s¬†scenes have been cut down and as a result, he is grossly underdeveloped.¬† I can tell that Jared Leto did more preparation for the Joker’s character than the screenwriters did.¬† The thing is¬†that I understand why Harley loves the Joker, but I don’t understand¬†why the Joker even bothers to keep her around.¬†¬†The mistake made here is that the Joker puts a lot of effort into getting Harley back even though in previous incarnations of Joker and Harley, it’s clear that he doesn’t personally care for her, that he is only using her.¬† The few times that he does express¬†a desire to get her back feel really forced and out-of-place because we know that the Joker’s true nature is relentless anarchy¬†with no hints of sentimentalism.
Yes, this movie doesn’t have much of a plot.¬† It does try to attempt a plot by making Enchantress the main villain, but it doesn’t hold much weight because Enchantress herself is pretty much a standard villain.¬† She is a little intimidating at first, but once she brings back her CGI brother–Incubus, I think is his name, but he¬†had next to no impact on the plot, so I don’t really care–and just stands in the devastated subway station, doing something with a blue beam in the sky, she becomes nothing more than a video game villain from that point on.
I really wish this movie had a main character.  While I always appreciate a multi-character showcase, I went into this movie hoping that either Harley or Deadshot would be the main protagonist whose perspective drives the story.  It is clear that this movie went through many last-minute creative changes.  Except for Harley, Deadshot, El Diablo and (to an extent) Rick Flag, the other Suicide Squad members feel half-baked and underdeveloped.
Going back to this movie not having much of a plot, this film really does play out like a long music video. ¬†If this were a music video, it would be awesome, but alas, there’s a difference between¬†cinematic motion pictures and MTV music videos (yeah, I grew up watching many of those). ¬†The wonky pacing and overabundance of non-diagetic song choices prove my point about this picture being a glorified music video.

(CATHOLIC N00b uses Force lighting on surrounding henchmen.  MsOWrites finds herself in a one-on-one confrontation with AMANDA WALLER,  who wields a pistol.  SURRENDER THE BROWNIES and ROSALIE CONTRITE continue firing flaming arrows at henchmen)
ME: (sees MsOWrites fighting AMANDA WALLER)
JOKER: Hey, CGB, look me in the eye!  (charges at me with a semi-automatic)
ME: How can I? ¬†Your eyes are so unsettling and just freaky-looking. ¬†It lacks the subtley of Ledger’s Joker.
JOKER: If you like Ledger’s Joker so much, why don’t I just quote him? ¬†(Sinister grin) Let’s put a smile on that face!
ME: ¬†Nope! ¬†(Jumps in the air) Angelic katana, activate!¬† (Blade of katana glows as I land back down and slice JOKER’s semi-automatic)¬† Catholic N00b, think you can use a Force-push?
CATHOLIC N00b: Oh yeah, girl!  (From afar, she Force-pushes the JOKER away from me)
(MsOWrites¬†stabs¬†AMANDA WALLER’s shoulder with her stake, but AMANDA WALLER¬†¬†is about to shoot at MsOWrites) (I swing the katana and block the bullet with the katana)
MsOWrites: Thanks!  Is that how bullets work, though?
ME: Hey, my guardian angel gave me this katana. ¬†I didn’t exactly ask him if it abides by the laws of physics.
(SURRENDER THE BROWNIES creates a fire circle around AMANDA WALLER while CATHOLIC N00b paralyzes her with the Force)
(ROSALIE CONTRITE points an arrow at AMANDA WALLER’s forehead while MsOWrites holds up her crossbow)
ME: (Faces AMANDA WALLER) ¬†Hey, wasn’t this whole thing about you getting our Guardian Angels to do your twisted bidding?
AMANDA WALLER: That was the plan.
ME: Well, so far, all that has been accomplished are flashy action sequences, quips and a half-hearted Joker appearance.
AMANDA WALLER: Much like the Suicide Squad film, it was an attempt at a plot.
(Enter JOKER)
JOKER: See, this is what happens when so many of my scenes are either cut down sloppily or just chopped out altogether.  (Holds up a grenade)
AMANDA WALLER: (Clutches cell phone in hand) You have two options, ladies.  Either the Joker can blast you to bits with the grenade or I make one phone call to Lucifer himself and get him up here.
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: What the fudge brownies?!
ME: No, no, you don’t wanna do that!
MsOWrites: (Holds up Miraculous Medal and Benedictine Cross) The heck you are!
CATHOLIC N00b: Triggered!
ROSALIE CONTRITE: You do know that all we would have to do to send Lucifer running is just say the Name of Jesus, right?
ME: Oh, yeah, that’s a good point. ¬†Just say the Name of Jesus and the devil will be tripping over himself trying to get away. ¬†Just ask Saint Gemma Galgani.
AMANDA WALLER: Can the Holy Name stop a grenade?
JOKER: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
(Enter THE SPARTAN)
THE SPARTAN: I know I can!  (As a flash of light, THE SPARTAN rushes past the JOKER)
JOKER: What the? ¬†Where’s the gren– (CATHOLIC N00b springs in the air and slices JOKER’s hands off with her lightsaber while MsOWrites finishes him off with her crossbow from a distance)
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: (uses her powers to close the fire circle in on AMANDA WALLER)  I prefer my villains medium-well.
ME: Has Charles Xavier contacted you yet?   You might to consider joining the X-Men.
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: I don’t think he’ll be getting in touch with me after I kinda sort of burned down the school.
CATHOLIC N00b: The Force might be too strong with that one (points at SURRENDER THE BROWNIES)
MsOWrites: Who was that guy? ¬†The one who took the JOKER’s grenade?
CATHOLIC N00b: He calls himself The Spartan. ¬†That’s all I know.
ME: You know this how?
CATHOLIC N00b: I’ve encountered him before, while traveling to the Dagobah system to learn from Yoda.
MsOWrites: I think I’ve come across him while slaying vampires.
ROSALIE CONTRITE: So, CGB, what are your final thoughts on Suicide Squad?
SURRENDER THE BROWNIES: Compared to Batman v. Superman, which made you question your will to live, how does this DC film hold up.
ME: Well…

On one hand, Suicide Squad is miles better than BvS thanks to strong performances from Margot Robbie, Will Smith and the rest of the cast. ¬†The rapport between the members of the Squad is fun to watch and has a whacky-dysfunctional-family feel to it. ¬†On the other hand, the choppy pacing, clumsy editing and weak portrayal of the Joker doesn’t do this comic book adaptation any favors. ¬†If you’re curious and/or are a fan of director David Ayers, then you’ll probably have a good time checking it out. ¬†While I’m glad I saw it, I don’t think I’ll be seeing it again in the near future.

Saint Theodore Guerin, pray for us.

CGB Review of The BFG (2016)

Previously on Catholic Girl Bloggin’…

(Hears noise downstairs) Hello?  (No answer) Huh, well what could that be?  (Looks at Ghostbusters review) My final thoughts can wait.  (Goes downstairs) (Sees a ghost in the kitchen)
ME: What the hey?
GHOST: I am the ghost of kitchen’s past!
ME: You mean, you’re the ghost of what this kitchen used to look like before we remodeled?
GHOST: (Looks confused) Yeah, sure.  Anyway, where is your proton pack now, mere mortal?
ME: I don’t know about proton packs, but I have this.  (Pulls holy water out of the cupboard and flings it at the ghost) In the Name of Jesus, leave my kitchen, jerkface!
GHOST: You fiend!
ME: Give your dark master my regards.  Oh, and LEAVE!  (throws more holy water furiously)
GHOST: AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH, I’M MELTING!!!!  (Writhes in agony and dissolves into a puddle of ooze)

One hour later…

(Mops up ghost-ooze) This is gonna take forever to get rid of entirely. (feels earth rumble) Oh, what now?!  (Looks out window and sees a gigantic shadow) What am I looking at?  (Enormous shadow becomes a roaring giant) (Giant approaches window)  AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!  (Tries to run, but trips)  Who are you?
GIANT: I am the BRG!
ME: BRG?
GIANT: Big Random Giant!
ME: So you’re not a¬†grandfatherly CGI giant voiced by Oscar winner Mark Rylance?
BRG: Rawr rawr rawr!  (Grabs me and hoists me into burlap bag)
ME: (Trying to keep balance inside burlap bag) Well, while I try to find a way out of here (looking through small rip in bag and sees how high up I am) without falling to my death, I guess I could pass time with a review.

This is my review of The BFG!

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Based on the 1982 novel by Roald Dahl, the BFG tells the story of Sophie, an orphaned girl who is taken one night by a kindly giant who she nicknames “BFG” to Giant Country.¬†¬†At first Sophie demands that BFG take her back to the orphanage, but soon starts to form a bond with him once she sees the danger he puts himself in to protect her from the other man-eating giants that populate Giant Country.¬† Over time, Sophie and BFG form an unbreakable bond over BFG’s work as a catcher of dreams (and I do mean that literally).¬† When the threat of the bloodthirsty giants invading the human world looms large, it’s up to Sophie and BFG to put a stop to their plans and save all of humanity.

ME: Hey, BRG, can you slow down so that I’m not getting tossed¬†around like a sack of potatoes?!
BRG: Okay, here we are!
ME: (Looks out through hole in the bag) (Sees a CGI fantasy world)¬†Well, I’m gonna have a heck of a time getting out of this parallel dimension.

The Hits
The first two acts of this movie are truly magical.¬† If there’s one thing Steven Spielberg is really good at, it’s capturing a sense of wonder and awe with the¬†in-movie universe¬†he creates.¬† He makes Giant Country an awe-inspiring place, brimming with adventure.
The bond between Sophie and BFG is absolutely charming.  There is a grandparent-grandchild quality to it that makes it wonderful to watch.  Ruby Barnhill is excellent as Sophie.  She is precocious without being annoying, both innocent and intelligent, and make Sophie an empathetic character to follow.
Even though I fell asleep during his last flick Bridge of Spies, Mark Rylance kept my attention during that movie and he is just as interesting to watch once again.¬† His warmth and protectiveness of Sophie is believable, and the motion capture of his character is quite impressive.¬† I like how the BFG resembles Mark Rylance without being designed as an exact replica of him; it allows him to disappear into the role and become the character, making you forget that you’re watching an actor play a part.
I love how the dream world that the BFG travels to in order to catch dreams is similar to the spiritual realm.¬† In my latest editorial, Truth Within A Tagline, I talked about how within our reality is a spiritual world where angels and demons reside, fighting great battles for our souls.¬† Here’s the link if you missed it: https://catholicgirlbloggin.net/2016/07/01/truth-within-a-tagline/
Anyway, BFG describes the dream world to Sophie as being a secret inner world¬†that contains¬†the most¬†beautiful dreams¬†and the most brutal nightmares; coincidently, this¬†is exactly what the spiritual realm is: A hidden world that holds marvelous angels and horrific demons.¬† Anyone who happens to have the charism of discernment of spirits will most certainly appreciate the BFG’s dream world.

The Misses
The villains in this movie are pretty underwhelming.  The problem is that despite their intimidating size, they are too dim-witted and one-dimensional to be considered threatening.
I said that the first two acts of the film are magical…the last half is not.¬† For a movie about a friendly giant who has to protect a little human from the other cannibalistic giants, the plot is surprisingly aimless.¬† Granted, I don’t mind an aimless plot so long as the story doesn’t linger at too many parts.¬† Unfortunately the BFG¬†does¬†pad itself out with some filler in the second and third act.¬† I am¬†sad to say that the story does get boring at times and I did find myself checking my phone.
I¬†get that this is a kids’¬†film, but some of the jokes in the movie are a tad too childish.¬† There are¬†one or two¬†gross-out gags that just didn’t work.¬† Also the climax is pretty anticlimactic.¬† The whole “involving-the-queen-of-England” thing felt¬†shoehorned; I¬†wish the BFG character had magic powers or¬†that Sophie had found¬†a magical item that could help the two of them defeat the other giants.

ME: (Sees other giants approaching) I gotta get outta here!¬†(Searches through BRG’s burlap sack)
MYSTERIOUS VOICE: Catholic Girl Bloggin’…
ME: Who is that?  (turns around and sees an angel) Whoa!
GUARDIAN ANGEL: I am your guardian angel, CGB.
ME: You’re…my guardian angel?¬† (Lets it sink in) This is so cool!¬†¬†Hey, how come you’re wearing a mask?
GUARDIAN ANGEL: My light would blind you.
ME: (sees¬†two katanas attached to GUARDIAN ANGEL’S sheaths)¬†And what’s with the katanas?¬† (Realizes that GUARDIAN ANGEL bears a resembles to a particular superhero) So my guardian angel is Deadpool?¬† Right on!
GUARDIAN ANGEL: (Shrugs) Sure, just minus the crass humor.  (Hands me a spare katana)
ME: Hey, how come I get one katana and you get two?
GUARDIAN ANGEL: (Raises wings) Because one is all you need.
ME: So how do we get out of here?
GUARDIAN ANGEL: Finish the review.  Leave the giants to me.

Okay, so while I cut my way out of a giant’s burlap sack with a katana–what an odd sentence to say aloud–I guess I can give my closing thoughts.
Overall, while I didn’t love the BFG as much as I wanted to, I did like it.¬† The bond between the two lead characters will warm your heart, the dream world is beautifully designed and there are great messages about loyalty and friendship.¬† Young kids who see this movie will definitely love it while adults may find themselves pleasantly surprised.¬† The BFG is¬†fun and¬†entertaining for the whole family to enjoy.

(Outside, GUARDIAN ANGEL swings his katanas and blinds the giants with cords of light shooting out from his wings)
GUARDIAN ANGEL: CGB, cut a hole at the bottom of the bag!
ME: But I’ll fall!
GUARDIAN ANGEL: Just trust me!
ME: (Takes deep breath and slices a large hole into the bag) (Begins to fall) AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!¬† (Eyes shut) (Suddenly feels a mattress against my back) (Opens eyes and am back in my bedroom) Oh, come on!¬† Don’t tell me it was all just a dream!¬† (Looks and sees katana leaning against my desk) Huh, I guess it wasn’t.
AMANDA WALLER: Are you Catholic Girl Bloggin’?
ME: (Turns around and sees AMANDA WALLER) Um, yes?¬† Wait a minute, aren’t you a Suicide Squad character?
AMANDA WALLER: Yes.
ME: Well, I won’t be reviewing that until August.
AMANDA WALLER: (Sees katana) I want to assemble a new taskforce, one entirely of bloggers.  Would you kindly come with me, CGB?
ME: (Swallows) Uh oh…

(Fade to black)

Blessed Imelda Lambertini, pray for us.

CGB Review of Ghostbusters (2016)

Who you gonna call?!
Well, personally, I’d call an exorcist, but you can¬†go ahead and call the Ghostbusters.

This is my review of Ghostbusters!

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Some years back, Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and her friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) wrote a book about the paranormal.  When the book ended up becoming unpopular, Erin buried herself in her work at Columbia University and essentially abandoned Abby.  However, when ghost sightings become more and more commonplace, Erin and Abby are thrown back into the world of paranormal activity and bring an engineer named Jillian Holtzmann and a train station worker named Patty along for the ride.

Before I say anything else, I’m going to get this out of the way: You’re not a sexist if you don’t like this movie and you’re not a disgrace to the original Ghostbusters film if you do enjoy this flick.
With that out of the way, onward with the review!

The Hits
Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy do play off of each other very well.  In all fairness, I did chuckle a few times throughout because there were some good jokes and sight-gags.  Leslie Jones was surprisingly grounded and relatable to where I kind of wish she was the main POV character instead of Kristen Wiig.
[KIND OF A SPOILER] I did appreciate that Kristen Wiig’s character gets an interesting backstory of being visited by a ghost as a child.¬† I was hoping that this aspect of her character would come into play somehow, like have her get a flashback of it while she is fighting a ghost and then use the flashback to motivate her to persevere in courage instead of remaining a doormat. ¬†Sadly, this doesn’t happen, but I will give credit for attempting a character arch.

The Misses
This movie has many structural issues.¬† Sequences happen without any build-up or significance.¬† For instance, one scene shows the women struggling to work their proton containment laser, but then just two scenes later, they’re using those guns with next to no¬†issues. ¬†Another example: When we are first introduced to Dr. Erin Gilbert, she is seeing preparing for her class when she is confronted by a reader of the book she and Abby wrote. ¬†She keeps telling the gentleman, “I have a class in a few minutes” only to immediately go to her office and then head straight for Abby Yates’ workplace. ¬†The funny thing is this could’ve been easily fixed had she been approached by the reader while in the middle of teaching, but nope. ¬†We just never see her teach.
Apparently character archetypes that are normally¬†fairly simple¬†to write are a challenge for this movie…
Exhibit A: Kate McKinnon–what the heck were you doing? ¬†Who was Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon’s character) supposed to be? ¬† If you’ve ever wondered how NOT to write a quirky character, just endure Jillian Holtzmann’s forced weirdness. ¬†It really isn’t that hard to create an offbeat character; you just have to focus on what makes them a person who happens to be quirky, not a person overtaken entirely by quirks.
Exhibit B:¬†Chris Hemsworth, you are a stunningly handsome man, but no one is that stupid. ¬†I’m talking about his character, the inept secretary Kevin. ¬†Had his character been a teenage boy, his dimwitted nature would’ve been understandable, but as it stands, he is way too old to be this incompetent. ¬† Again, dense characters are¬†relatively easy¬†to develop: Just have them do dumb things out of sincere goodness, i.e. make them childlike, not childish.
The villain–oh, what’s his name–Rowan?–is probably the most half-baked, underwhelming villain since the dark¬†elf antagonist from Thor: The Dark World.¬† He just shows up because–potatoes–and wants to destroy the world because the¬†script demands it.¬† Even¬†Darren Cross from Ant Man¬†had more development than this guy!¬† Honestly, I’m running out of things to say about what’s-his-name.

(Hears noise downstairs) Hello?  (No answer) Huh, well what could that be?  (Looks at review) My final thoughts can wait.  (Goes downstairs) (Sees a ghost in the kitchen)
ME: What the hey?
GHOST: I am the ghost of kitchen’s past!
ME: You mean, you’re the ghost of what this kitchen used to look like before¬†we remodeled?
GHOST: (Looks confused) Yeah, sure.  Anyway, where is your proton pack now, mere mortal?
ME: I don’t know about proton packs, but I have this.¬† (Pulls¬†holy water out of the cupboard¬†and flings it¬†at the ghost) In the Name of Jesus, leave my kitchen, jerkface!
GHOST: You fiend!
ME: Give your dark master my regards.  Oh, and LEAVE!  (throws more holy water furiously)
GHOST:¬†AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH, I’M MELTING!!!!¬† (Writhes¬†in agony and dissolves into a puddle of ooze)
ME: (puts holy water back in cupboard) I don’t think they sell special¬†ghost-ooze mops at Walmart.¬† Oh, well, I’ll clean this up later, but first, time to finish the review.

(Returns to bedroom) And now, my closing thoughts:
Where Batman v. Superman had me looking up at the ceiling and asking God to strike me¬†with lighting¬†so I wouldn’t have to watch anymore (a request that He denied, as you can tell), Ghostbusters didn’t add or subtract from my will to live. ¬†At the same time, it sure isn’t worth the full price of admission, either.¬†¬†The characters are grossly underwritten, the plot loses all sensibility as it goes on and its only connection to the original Ghostbusters is via half-hearted cameos and shoehorned references.¬† If¬†you really want to spend time at the movies, just go see Finding Dory again or even The Shallows.¬† As¬†for this, Ghostbusters (2016) is a rental, not a must-see.

Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.

CGB Review of The Shallows (2016)

So I happen to be a subscriber of YouTube’s Markiplier, who has repeatedly stated how much he hates the ocean.
After watching this flick, I now see why.

This is my review of The Shallows!

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To cope with the death of her mother, med student Nancy Adams takes a trip to a secluded beach to catch some waves, but when she is attacked by a shark and ends up stranded on a large rock, she must preserve in courage and strength in order to escape the shark and return to shore in one piece.

The Hits
Between this and Age of Adaline, it is clear that Blake Lively is more than capable of carrying a film on her own. ¬†There is an everywoman quality to her that make her relatable, which hits home the idea that this scenario could happen to anyone.¬†¬†Nancy’s resourceful nature and¬†survival skills¬†make her a worthy heroine to follow and give her plenty of agency. ¬†Also, and this is to any¬†fans of Saint Christopher,¬†if you look closely, you’ll notice that Nancy is wearing a Saint Christopher medal.¬† ūüôā
The camera work is¬†pretty good.¬† Not spectacular, but there are some beautiful shots of the ocean and the entire landscape.¬† Also, the swimming¬†sequences and other scenes that call for¬†Nancy to¬†flee from the¬†shark are nicely filmed to where you can actually make¬†out what is happening.¬†¬†I particularly like the seagull that hangs around with¬†Nancy during her ordeal.¬†¬†However, as an animal lover, I did find myself¬†worrying¬†about the seagull’s¬†survival.¬† This Nostalgia Critic clip best demonstrates my feelings about the seagull: https://youtu.be/YOcDhyhZO5g?list=PLxMCAq3dOW6BTGLQCwH__KdU92O3Q5xDT
I really like that Nancy has a personal history with the island, how it is the same place where her late mother discovered she was pregnant with her [Nancy].  It gives the island a symbolic significance as the place she was conceived and the same place where her life could be brought to an end.

The Misses
While the movie does do an overall good job at suspension of disbelief, there are a few times where the main character makes one or two decisions that are hard to the audience to buy.
The scene where Nancy has to sterilize and patch up the deep wound in her leg is difficult to watch.  If you are squeamish, I recommend either getting a snack during the scene or just closing your eyes.
Okay, so there is an elephant in the room that must be addressed and this is kind of a SPOILER
In the middle of the film, Nancy¬†sees a drunk man on the shore and tries to¬†enlist his help, but when he goes into the water to steal her surfboard, he is¬†mauled by the shark, resulting in him being (quite literally) torn in half.¬† We get one close-up shot of his body and then it just cuts to black.¬†¬†We never see¬†his body swept¬†up by the waves or even his body lying on the sand after that.¬† The only reason this bugs me is because the story takes place over the course of¬†a day and a half, so¬†if his body wasn’t¬†taken by the waves, then¬†it should still be there when Nancy¬†does make it off the tiny island she has been confined to.

The Shallows is a surprisingly¬†intriguing thriller, held together by¬†a committed performance from Blake Lively, clever editing and a suspenseful plot.¬† If you’re looking for a flick that keeps you on the edge of the seat till the very end, then The Shallows just might be the good time you’re looking for.

Saint Christopher, pray for us.

CGB Review of Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

If I try to go through my bathroom mirror to get to Wonderland, does that make me a crazy person?
(Sigh) Better check myself in the psych ward.

So while I await psychological evaluation, this is my review of Alice Through the Looking Glass!

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Three years after the events of the first Alice in Wonderland, Alice Kingsleigh has been a sea captain traveling the world.¬† Upon returning from her expedition in China, she comes across her friend Absolem, the caterpillar from the first Alice film who is now a butterfly.¬† She follows Absolem through a magic mirror and ends up back in Wonderland, only to discover that the Mad Hatter is dying because he believes his family is still alive, but Alice doesn’t believe him when he tells her this revelation.¬† Now Alice has to go back in time to find out what happened to Hatter’s family all while coming face-to-face with Time himself (no, seriously, Time is a person played by Sacha Baron Cohen).¬† Also the Red Queen is back because–Wonderland!

DOCTOR: Ms. Bloggin’, who are you talking to?
ME: Oh, don’t worry, Doc.¬† Right now, I’m saying aloud everything I want to write in my CGB review of Alice Through The Looking Glass!
DOCTOR: (gives quizzical look) All right then…(jots down notes)

(Walks out of doctor’s office) Well, the psych eval shows that I’m not crazy, but I do have a textbook case of overactive imagination, which¬†I don’t think is¬†covered by Obamacare.¬† (Sees nurse approaching) Hey, why do you have a syringe in your–
(Wakes up in a white room) Well, while I figure out how to break out of here, onward with the review!

The Hits
Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Time is by far the most interesting character.¬† The idea of¬†time being personified as an immortal being who is in charge of¬†overseeing¬†time and¬†eternity is fascinating.¬†¬†He is a tad rude, but¬†he is committed to his role as the keeper¬†and guardian¬†of time and space. ¬†His rapport with Alice could have been a movie all on its own; his factual approach to mortality balances out Alice’s impulsivity and lack of foresight.¬†¬†Personally, if I had been the screenwriter, I would have¬†told the story¬†from Time’s perspective with Alice as his apprentice; make the Red Queen a time-thief who tempts Alice into stealing the chromosphere so that she [Alice] can repair some parts of her own past and then use Time’s pursuit of his misled apprentice as a character study of their challenged relationship.¬†¬†Hmm, I should really¬†discern getting into fan fiction…
Anyway, there are a lot of creative and compelling¬†visuals.¬† From Time’s palace to the Hatter’s hometown, there is a plethora of colorful eye-candy to behold.¬†¬†The set designs are¬†appealing to the eye and the level of detail is admirable.
I do appreciate that this film is less formulaic than its predecessor.  The narrative has an unpredictable, free-flowing structure that I certainly appreciate.  It fits well with the nonsensical spirit of Wonderland.
The movie has some good messages about family, time (the concept, not the character) and learning from the past rather than being overcome by it.

The Misses
In the first Alice, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) had an established castle and responsibilities.¬† Here, not only do we never see her castle, but she’s running around like any ole commoner.¬† Oh, and she NEVER puts her hands down!¬† She’s doing some weird gestures with her floating hands that is supposed to look enchanting, but gets annoying real fast.
Alice¬†being sent to¬†a mental institution is a pretty pointless subplot.¬† It’s blatantly obvious that this sequence is only in there to make a point about women being hospitalized for “female hysteria”¬†in the 1800’s.¬† I should probably mention that the film’s screenwriter Linda Woolverton, who wrote the scripts for Beauty and the Beast, Maleficent and the 2010 Alice in Wonderland, is known to inject feminist commentary into her works.¬† Look, as a pro-life feminist, I have no issue with feminist ideas in film¬†and literature, but if you’re going to do it, it needs to be well-developed and not shoehorned.
This is supposedly the sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland; I say “supposedly” because while this movie has the same characters, the tone is vastly different from the tone of the first film, which was a dark and gritty interpretation of the Lewis Carroll novel.¬† In a way, it almost feels separate from its previous installment to the point where the events of the first Alice come off as¬†utterly pointless.

(Climbs out of window of mental institution) (Looks around) Sshh, no one knows I’m out here.¬† (Sees spotlight) I’d better jump…

(Jumps) (Runs across random field) So this is a tough one.¬† I didn’t think it was awful, but it’s nowhere near Maleficent or Cinderella.¬† This is one of those instances where there are some really good elements that get smothered by poor story choices.¬† If it’s on TV, I’d probably watch it, but I’d have playing in the background while I write another CGB review or, in this case, break out of a mental institution.

Saint Germaine Cousin, pray for us.

CGB Collaboration Review of Captain America: Civil War with Pro-Life Activist Clinton Wilcox of the Life Training Institute

Captain America v. Iron Man…which side shall you choose?

This is my collaboration review of Captain America: Civil War!

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After a mission in Lagos, Nigeria results in a slew of collateral damage, the Avengers find themselves facing the possibility of being controlled by a UN-appointed governing body.¬† When Captain America’s childhood friend Bucky Barnes (who [SPOILER] was the Winter Soldier in¬†Cap’s last adventure)¬†is framed as a suspect of an attack on the United Nations, Cap chooses to stand by his friend and pays the price when the Avengers is divided over his decision.

This is the third collaboration here on Catholic Girl Bloggin’!¬† Today I will be joined by pro-life activist Clinton Wilcox.¬†¬†His Hits and Misses will be in¬†green and mine will be in pink.

CGB Hits
Going into this movie, I was truly scared that Captain America’s noble nature¬†would be compromised in this installment.¬† After watching¬†Winter Soldier with¬†my friends, I couldn’t gushing about¬†Captain America’s strong sense of morality.¬† That is when one of my friends, who I will call “M.P.”¬†turned to me and said,¬†“Let’s see how you feel after Civil War.” “Aww, don’t do that to me, M.P.!”
I am delighted to say that Cap comes out of this adventure with his principles intact.¬†¬†This character is such¬†an honorable warrior!¬† I love how he plants his feet firmly on the side of truth and never backs down when faced with fierce opposition.¬† Once he makes a decision on a moral issue (such as¬†helping Bucky instead of condemning him),¬†there is no¬†swaying him¬†from¬†his¬†convictions.¬† He remains the¬†moral¬†voice and emotional¬†center all while¬†never becoming a bland archetype. ¬†I said it in my Winter Soldier review and I will say¬†it again: Captain America is a hero you can believe in!¬† ūüôā

I was not expecting the Black Panther to be such a show-stealer.  I will admit that his costume is kind of terrifying mainly because the headpiece covers his whole face, as well as his incredible speed.  I would not want to be caught in a fight with this guy!  This makes him an invaluable addition to the Avengers team.
Spider Man is absolutely adorable!¬† I like how he’s a believable kid character;¬†awkward without being annoying, fumbling and wise-cracking while being skilled in his Spidey¬†abilities.¬† Also,¬†this Star Wars fangirl would like to¬†award Spidey¬†twenty CGB brownie points for his AMAZING Empire Strikes Back reference!¬† ūüėÄ
In my first collaboration review, which was of Batman v. Superman with Patheos blogger Monique Ocampo, one of my¬†many¬†grievances with that flick is how they completely botched the rivalry between the Caped Crusader and the Son of Krypton.¬† Here the ideological differences between Captain America and Iron Man are well-conveyed.¬†¬†¬†Yes, the movie does definitely lean heavily in Cap’s camp, but there is emphasis on Iron Man’s perspective on¬†the situation they face.

Clinton’s Hits
Civil War really feels like two movies. It’s Captain America 3, in which they have to resolve the Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier storyline. It’s also The Avengers 2, Part II, in which the Avengers now must deal with the aftermath of the battle with Ultron, as well as fallout from their earlier battles. Both parts of the movie may have benefited from being split into two films, but even given what they had to work with, the movie worked exceptionally well. The events of Captain America 3 were used as the catalyst for the events of Civil War.  Zemo is the main villain of the film (Crossbones makes an appearance in a fantastic battle scene, but is killed at the end of the scene).  His family was killed in the battle against Ultron and Zemo is out for revenge.  He is merely human, so he knows he can’t kill the Avengers because more powerful men than him have tried and failed, so he sets out to tear the Avengers apart.  He does so by framing Barnes for the murder of several delegates by bombing a UN meeting where a piece of legislation is going to be signed to keep the Avengers in check.  Zemo’s human, relatable backstory, mixed with his actually succeeding in tearing the Avengers apart makes him one of the best and most compelling villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the best villains are the ones from the shows, but the villains in the movies tend to be cookiecutter supervillains). Zemo used his intellect instead of brute strength to beat the Avengers.
Civil War, even having so much to accomplish, was a fantastic movie. Most of the fight scenes were truly mind-blowing (and I don’t use that term loosely). I thought all of the CGI used was very realistic. I was fooled the entire time, and the movie didn’t feel like it was two and a half hours long, to me. Though there are many ways in which the movie deviated from the source material in the comics. It actually bears little resemblance to the comics. One of those is that in the comics, the war was over whether or not to reveal their identities to the world, as well as being accountable to the government. But in the MCU, most or all of the heroes’ identities are known, so this doesn’t play a role in the legislation the UN wants to ratify.

Clinton’s Misses
As I stated, the Avengers are dealing with the aftermath of their many battles. As such, the UN wants to put a reign on them. They want to specifically train the Avengers, and be in charge of where the Avengers go. Essentially, the Avengers will become a government-led team.  If there’s one thing I think could have been improved, I wish there would have been more debate and deliberation before passing the legislation. There was one scene in which the Avengers were hashing it  out, but the legislation was already going to be passed. They were simply deliberating on whether or not to comply.

CGB Misses
Like Clinton, I too had an issue with how the whole “government wants to control the Avengers” dilemma is not developed enough.¬† Granted, I’m glad that the focus was more on the budding rivalry between Captain America and Iron Man, but would have liked the politics of the Avengers issue¬†to have been fleshed out more.
I¬†personally didn’t care for Zemo as the villain.¬† I get that his dirty work is best done in¬†the shadows, but¬†I never felt frightened of him.¬†¬† He just wasn’t as chilling as I had hoped.¬† Honestly, I feel that the¬†divide between Cap and Iron Man was enough of a conflict on its own.

Clinton’s Verdict
I’ve now seen Captain America: Civil War twice, and I¬†have to say the movie gets better the second time you watch.¬† There’s so much going on in this¬†film that you’ll undoubtedly miss some things upon¬†first viewing. ¬†
Despite being quite different from the source material in the comics, and having to pack so much into the movie, Civil War was an incredibly well-written, well-done movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat and will excite you by its many excellent fight scenes (especially the Avengers battle in the airport). I’ve seen it both times, and neither time did it ever feel like a two and a half hour movie. This movie has made me even more excited for the upcoming Black Panther, Thor, and Infinity War movies.

CGB Verdict
Captain America: Civil War has a lot on its plate and for the most part, it succeeds in making all of its elements work.¬† The action is well-choreographed and easier to see this time (Age of Ultron and, to an extent, Winter Soldier had some issue with action-scene-clarity).¬† The story¬†is¬†properly structured and has complex aspects while still being entertaining. ¬†Iron Man has definitely grown and¬†matured as a character, while Captain America himself is an admirable example of heroic masculinity, a trait that is desperately needed in today’s confused society.

Saint Martin of Tours, pray for us.

CGB Review of X-Men Apocalypse (2016)

So the next time you take a trip to Cairo (I’m sure you’re planning on it),¬†be sure not to resurrect any¬†all-powerful mutants. ¬†If you’ve seen the movie already, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

This is my review of X-Men Apocalypse!

x-men-apocalypse

Apocalypse is known as the first¬†mutant to ever come into existence.¬† In addition, he is also all-powerful and able to transfer his consciousness into another person’s body so that he can continue to live on.¬† Yikes!¬† As you can imagine, when Apocalypse resurrects and begins gathering followers (including¬†the¬†disheveled Eric/Magneto)¬†to do his bidding, Professor Charles Xavier, Mystique and their allies must bring Magneto back to the Light and put an end to Apocalypse’s plan for world destruction.

The Hits
Oscar Isaac is excellent as Apocalypse.¬† While he’s not as terrifying as, say, Captain Vidal (Pan’s¬†Labyrinth)¬†or Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger (Black Mass), there is an unsettling chill to his character.¬† Also, I did¬†think it was interesting¬†how his “transferring-his-consciousness-to-another-person” thing resembles demonic possession; not so much in the prologue, but in the third act when [SPOILER ALERT] he tries to transfer his soul into Charles Xavier’s body and Charles is valiantly resisting becoming possessed by the malevolent foe.
There are a lot of good scenes that work¬†well on their own¬†and¬†the¬†engaging action¬†is well-choreographed.¬†¬† The action is filmed in a way where you can actually see what’s happening between the characters who are in combat.
Nightcrawler is like Finn from Force Awakens: Absolutely lovable!¬†¬†There’s an innocence and¬†innate goodness¬†to him that makes him endearing. ¬†It is a little clich√© that he’s being presented as a “demonlike creature whose actually a good guy while his angel counterpart is one of the bad guys” thing, but that overdone irony is not emphasized very much.¬† I was actually relieved when Apocalypse turns Angel’s wings silver because¬†Angel’s previously white wings¬†looked¬†uncomfortably similar to Archangel Michael’s wings.¬† Oh, and did I¬†mention that Nightcrawler is Catholic?¬†¬†Yep, he be a Catholic mutant!¬† ūüôā
Quicksilver is¬†also an¬†awesome character!¬† He’s basically a less crude Wade Wilson/Deadpool; witty, cool and confident.¬† Luckily while¬†he has some similarities to Deadpool, he’s¬†not a blatant¬†carbon copy of¬†the character.
While I, as a Jennifer Lawrence fan,¬†am getting a bit tired of¬†J-Law always playing the “strong woman who is strong because she has to be” archetype (don’t believe me?¬† Watch Winter’s Bone and¬†The Hunger Games series; don’t even bother with watching¬†Joy), I did like her arch as Raven/Mystique; the reluctant role model who is looked up to after standing up to Magneto in X-Men: First Class, but who¬†personally looks upon that¬†episode¬†in her life as a tragedy.¬† Also, I just gotta say it: Her hair in this movie was rockin’!¬† I guess I just really like the “structurally-messy” look.¬† ūüôā

The Misses
It seems as though there was supposed to be a “Mystique redeems Magneto” subplot somewhere in the script because Mystique keeps acting as if she is responsible for bringing Magneto back to the side of good and truth.¬† If this is the case, then it wasn’t well-conveyed.
So I saw this movie with a friend of mine who has seen it twice already.  Even though we both enjoyed the film, we both have one issue with the script: Pacing and story structure.
Yes, the pacing in this movie could have been better.  While individual scenes are intriguing by themselves, the movie itself never completely comes together as a cohesive narrative.  Some scenes feel separate from each other and even unnecessary at times.  To be fair, the story comes together in the third act, but 50% of this movie could have used some polishing.

X-Men Apocalypse is an intriguing mess.  The overall story is scattered, but the good performances, suave villain and sequences within the narrative kept my attention all the way through.

Since this is the third Superhero movie review where I’ve name-dropped Saint Michael (see my reviews for Winter Soldier and Batman v. Superman), I’m gonna¬†end this review¬†with Saint Isaac Jogues because why not?
So Saint Isaac Jogues, pray for us.