Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Movie Review: Deadpool 2 (R – 119 minutes)

The second installment in the Deadpool franchise which is part of the Fox Marvel, but not Disney Marvel (so it’s with the X-Men, but not the Avengers), is more of the same as the first one. And honestly, that’s a good thing. 

The “merc with the mouth”, Wade Wilson, is traveling around the world, working as a contract killer – taking out bad guys and romancing his lady love, Vanessa.  He’s still horribly scarred from his “cancer-cure” last movie, and pretty much unkillable – the cure sort of worked.  He and Vanessa are living their own version of ‘happily ever after’, ready to start a family and have a baby.  A killer that Deadpool missed in his last epic takedown of a bad guy’s hideout comes by and takes out Vanessa.  Deadpool goes after him, but consumed by guilt and depression, attempts to off himself to no avail.  Collected by Colossus, he’s brought to the X-mansion to recover while Colossus tries to talk some sense into him.  He agrees to become an X-man Trainee.

Meanwhile, sometime in the Future, Cable (Nathan Summers – though never called that in this movie), is mourning the loss of his wife and daughter and pops back in time to off their killer before he gets to ‘full killer mode’.  To further the plot, currently the killer is a young kid named Russell, right on the brink of going full villain. Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead bring Deadpool to attempt to collect the kid as he’s raising hell at his boarding school.  Deadpool, swiftly realizing the kid was being abused, offs a couple of the ‘caretakers’, promptly landing himself and the kid in a mutant jail – complete with collars to dampen their powers.

From this point forward, it becomes a bit of a race between Deadpool and Cable to protect the kid (and ensure he doesn’t turn into a killer), or eliminate him (Cable is convinced he can’t be saved).  Along the way, Deadpool drops out of the trainee program and forms his own X-Force collection of folks to help try to save the kid.

If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one. Equally as funny, irreverent, and disgusting, it solidly delivers more of the same in the best possible way.  This one is directed by David Leitch, a former stuntman who has started building a strong reputation as an action director: John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and the upcoming Hobbs-n-Shaw movie (I can’t wait for that).  The movie is fast-paced, hilarious, fourth-wall breaking, and very R-rated.  The returning cast members are great, but the new cast members are even better.
  • Ryan Reynolds continues to relish Wade Wilson as the role he was born to play. He’s the perfect sarcastic smartass, always pretending to be on top of the situation, even when he isn’t.

  • Morena Baccarin plays Vanessa, who has a smaller role in this movie, as she is ‘killed’ early on and spends the rest of the movie ‘haunting’ Wade into doing the right thing.

  • T.J. Miller plays Weasel, and if you can avoid thinking about the trouble he’s been having in his personal life lately, then you can enjoy the fact that Weasel is snarky and entertaining as he helps DP assemble his new group.

  • Karan Soni returns as Dopinder, Deadpool’s buddy and cab driver.  He gets to step into a large, more active role this time around as he decides to become a ‘contract killer’, to mixed results.

  • Josh Brolin plays Cable with less of a deft touch than he had in the previous movie this year based on Marvel comics.  Cable is fairly one-note – kill Russell as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Eventually he gets to turn slightly as DP gets him to realize he may be able to reach Russell.

  • Zazie Beetz plays Domino, and she is easily one of the best additions to the roster. She proves that yes, good luck can be quite a superpower the way she uses it.  She’s a formidable warrior, and manages to stay fairly level-headed to DP’s crazy.

  • Brianna Hildebrand returns as Negasonic Teenage Warhead.  She’s equally teenage angsty, but a little more self-assured in this movie.  Shioli Kutsuna joins as Yukio, another XMan and NTW’s girlfriend.

  • Julian Dennison plays Russell, and he steals most of his scenes.  He’s remarkably natural and entertaining for a kid, and I love that they just let him be from New Zealand instead of trying to force him to do a different accent.

  • Leslie Uggams returns as Deadpool’s ex-roommate, Blind Al.

  • Rob Delaney plays Peter, another scene-stealer, as a regular guy who has no super-powers, but saw the ad and decides to join the team.

  • In terms of the rest of the newly formed X-Force: Lewis Tan plays Shatterstar; Terry Crews plays Bedlam; Bill Skarsgard plays Zeitgeist; Brad Pitt plays the mysterious Vanisher. 

  • Also – there’s a random cameo of Matt Damon and Alan Tudyk as two random rednecks.  No, I don't know why - but it's definitely entertaining.

Overall, the movie is tremendously entertaining, but again – please don’t take your kids. It’s rated R for a reason.  Hell, at one point, Deadpool is literally ripped in half.  In half!!
8 out of 10, gained points for all the cameos, and the overly dramatic Celine Dion song over the brilliant opening credits. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Movie Review: Life of the Party (PG13 – 105 minutes)

Melissa McCarthy is very skilled at larger-than-life comedic characters.  Many of them are similar to one another, so the movies can run into one another without some clear differentiation. I’m not entirely sure this one had that differentiation, but it was entertaining enough.

The story begins with Deanna dropping her daughter Maddie off at college for her senior year.  It’s the school Deanna attended, but never quite finished because she dropped out partway through her senior year to have Maddie – at the insistence of her husband, Dan.  She has always regretted not finishing, and when Dan tells her as they are pulling away from the school that he wants a divorce, the opportunity presents itself for her to go back and finish what she began.

Once back at school, Deanna begins to enjoy all parts of the college life.  Once Maddie gets over some initial embarrassment (very quickly), she and her sorority sisters take Deanna to parties, give her a makeover, and insist that she have a good time while finishing up the courses.  Although honestly, we only ever see her in one course – she must have been really close to graduating the first time around. 

Dan eventually announces he’s marrying his new lady friend, Marcie, a real estate agent.  She also happens to be the mother of Jack, a guy Deanna is hooking up with on campus – which results in some hilarity.  Eventually Deanna learns to value herself again, finishes school, and I assume lives happily ever after.
This movie (like Tammy and The Boss) is directed by McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone.  Like his others, this one is uneven tone-wise. It wants to be both a slapstick comedy and a gentle family comedy with some dramatic moments. It would have been stronger had it picked one of those and committed to it.  Falcone is good at letting McCarthy’s characters run the scene, but I wanted even more comedy from this.
  • Melissa McCarthy is charming and funny as Deanna.  She is a bit overbearing as a mother, but does make it clear she knows when her daughter is embarrassed and does try to pay attention to those boundaries – just not very well.  She’s good in this, but honestly deserves a little better material.  Can we just get a sequel to Spy?

  • Molly Gordon plays Maddie, and she was very good at being very subtle to let McCarthy dominate their scenes. I found it interesting that she was embarrassed of her mother in one scene, but then she and her friends very quickly grow to adore her and want her around all the time.

  • Matt Walsh plays Dan, and the opportunity was there to make him really detestable, but it was downplayed slightly.  When he tells her he wants a divorce, he does it simply and straightforward without any cruelty. The cruelty comes later in a passive aggressive way in his wedding decorations. Julie Bowen plays Marcie, the evil real estate agent.

    • Maya Rudolph plays Christine, Deanna’s best friend and Damon Jones plays her easy-going husband Frank.

    • Gillian Jacobs plays Helen, a sorority sister of Maddie’s who was in a coma for eight years. This is an odd character trait that is used once or twice, but seems a bit forced in for little to no reason. 

    • Jacki Weaver and Stephen Root play Deanna’s parents, Sandy and Mike.
    • Jimmy O. Yang plays Tyler, Maddie’s boyfriend and Luke Benward plays his friend Jack, the dude who is really into Deanna, as well as being Marcie’s son.
    • Chris Parnell plays Mr. Truzack, who once was a classmate of Deanna’s and is now the archaeology professor.  That relationship was strange, and felt like the beginnings of something, but then was not followed through. 
    • Heidi Gardner plays Leonor, Deanna’s Goth roommate, who is strange, dark, and reclusive, but also relatively nice.  And cousins with Christina Aguilera.

    Overall, the potential was there for a much funnier movie, but this is still entertaining. It’s not terrible, but I did often find myself wanting more. Also – how in a movie with this many talented improvisers are there no outtakes over the end credits?!?  Rule number one with a comedy – put some outtakes over the end credits!

    5 out of 10 – it’s just fine. Worth watching if it comes on TV.  And yes, it's very similar to Back To School:

    Tuesday, May 15, 2018

    Movie Review: Overboard (2018) (PG13 112 minutes)

    The original Overboard from 1987 featured Goldie Hawn as a horrible socialite who treats construction worker Kurt Russell terribly until she gets amnesia, and he takes advantage of the situation to make her believe she was his wife. During the process, he basically treats her like a housekeeper for he and his three boys.  Along the way, she learns to love them, and despite recovering from her amnesia in the end, she chooses to go back to them.

    This remake stays very close to the original, just switching the genders of the lead roles, and changing some of the characteristics.  Now, son of a Mexican shipping magnate, Leonardo, is a pompous playboy who belittles ship-cleaner Kate, who is working three jobs to put herself through nursing school while trying to take care of her three daughters.  Leonardo’s father is sick, and his sister wants the family business to fall to her instead of Leonardo. When she sees that Leonardo has fallen off the yacht and gotten amnesia, she leaves him there in the hospital – knowing her father will finally leave her the company. 

    Meanwhile, Kate, at the urging of her friend Theresa, picks Leonardo up from the hospital, and sets about convincing him that he was her husband, a recovering alcoholic, and father to her three girls.  She also gets him a job with Theresa’s husband’s construction company.  At first, he’s convinced it’s a lie, but eventually, he settles in and comes to love Kate, her daughters, and his new friends at work. 
    Eventually, his father recovers and comes looking for him, and after initially rejecting Kate and company – he comes back to them, just in time for a happy ending.

    This version is directed by Rob Greenberg, and actually has fewer ‘sharp edges’ than the original, which I did love when I was younger, but does not hold up now, and actually feels a little uncomfortable.  Switching the roles makes the movie a little more palatable. 
    • Eugenio Derbez is a huge star in Mexican movies, and he is slowly starting to get more projects in the states.  His character is not nearly as loathsome as Hawn’s was in the original, and I wonder if it is because he didn’t want his massive fan base to see him be that terrible.  At worst, Leonardo is arrogant and spoiled, but he’s never really cruel.  He also falls in with the family fairly quickly, guessing he had been neglecting the girls, and setting out to make things right.  He’s unbelievably charming, and the story works because of him.

    • Anna Faris plays Kate, and she’s perfect in just-this-side-of-crazy roles (if you don’t remember What’s Your Number? – you should re-watch that).  She’s genuinely at the end of her rope in this movie, and is trying her best, but is completely overwhelmed. She goes along with her friend’s plan because she is finally starting to acknowledge she needs some help.

    • Eva Longoria plays Theresa, Kate’s best friend, who comes up with the crazy plan.  She’s funny in this supporting role.

    • Swoosie Kurtz plays Kate’s mother, who was going to help babysit, but has to listen to the call of the theater! It’s a fun role that she nails.
    • John Hannah plays Colin, the yacht-butler?  I think that’s what he is. Or perhaps Leonardo’s assistant? No, I think he’s tied to the yacht. In either case, he’s really fun and surprisingly supportive. And very Scottish.
    • Mel Rodriguez plays Bobby, Theresa’s husband, who helps Leonardo get a job to get back on his feet – so to speak. At first they make fun of his soft hands, but then he learns to work hard, and makes quick friends with them.

    Overall, the movie is fun, entertaining, and charming. It is very predictable, but as I have said and will continue to say – if there’s one genre that I was to be predictable, it’s rom-coms. 
    6 out of 10 – harmless fun.

    Bonus – the original:

    Sunday, May 6, 2018

    Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War (PG13 – 149 minutes)

    This is a pretty spoiler-free review.  If you want a really spoiler-y one, check the LAMBcast review, which I participated in, we broke down the movie, scene by scene!    https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/lambcast/episodes/2018-04-30T10_25_33-07_00

     The original Infinity Gauntlet comic storyline was a limited series released the second half of 1991.  It was a huge crossover event, featuring characters from many individual comics interacting with each other to attempt to defeat Thanos, the Mad Titan, who was determined to collect all six infinity gems (soul, space, time, power, reality, and mind), put them in his gauntlet, and win over the heart of Lady Death through some amazing feats.  I did read the comic years ago, but found it to be a little difficult to wrap my brain around, as it deals mostly with Marvel ‘Cosmic’ heroes and the infinite abilities and strangeness of the universe.  Thanos also seemed very one-note and not all that interesting.

    Ten years ago, Marvel took a huge leap in their movie-making division and created what would come to be called the MCU – or Marvel Cinematic Universe – with the release of Iron Man.  Directed by the guy from Swingers, Jon Favreau, and starring Robert Downey Jr., who was just beginning to get his life back on track after a series of odd substance-abuse related problems, no one was really sure how things would go – no one except Kevin Feige, the man who would become the President of Marvel Studios, and who had a several-phased plan for Marvel movies.

    It was a huge success, and lead to building the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  The MCU set a president by casting great people who are interested not just in doing good work, but helping each other create the strongest possible stories, and hiring interesting directors, who understood that their individual stories would help build a large universe.  Eighteen movies later, we have finally arrived at the finale of phase 3, something we have been building towards for the last ten years – Avengers: Infinity War.

    The story mirrors the comic story somewhat: Thanos, the big bad first introduced in the Avengers in 2012, has finally gotten tired of trying to hire folks to collect the six infinity stones for him, and sets out to do it himself with the assistance of his Black Order.  Incidentally, the Black Order has some of the very best names ever – Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Cull Obsidian, and Corvus Glaive.  Thanos is obsessed with restoring balance to the universe, which seems like an innocent enough goal – after all, he’s concerned about exponentially expanding populations on inhabited worlds while the resources diminish or cannot supply the growth.  It’s something we should all be concerned about, so that makes sense.  However, his plan is to collect all six stones, then use the gauntlet to eliminate half the living beings in the universe with the snap of his fingers.  Half of everyone!  Okay, so his concern with the issue makes sense, his solution is a little terrifying.

    The movie opens directly where Thor Ragnarok ends, with Thanos’s ship appearing above the Asgardian refugees, and Thanos taking the tesseract – or Blue space stone – from Loki.  He tells us he’s already taken the purple power stone from the Nova Corps on Xander where it was left by the Guardians of the Galaxy on their first outing.  Then he plans to head to Knowhere to get the red reality stone, or Aether, from the Collector, and he’s going to send the Black order to earth to collect the yellow mind stone from Vision’s forehead and the green time stone from Dr. Strange’s neck.  He doesn’t yet know where the orange soul stone is, but he knows someone who does. 

    From this point it’s really impossible to say anything else about the plot – and literally what I have said so far is the first 10 minutes of the movie.  This story jumps off from the word go, and does not let up.  If you are a fan of the MCU at all, you will love this.  It is directed by Joe and Anthony, the Russo Brothers, who previously directed two of my favorite MCU movies, Winter Soldier and Civil War.  This absolutely feels crafted by and for fans. The Russos manage to do some amazing things with this movie.  In a story that includes almost 70 characters, each one is given their moment, and no one feels shorted. The action set pieces are absolutely incredible, and the fight scenes with different heroes working together who have not previously are astounding. The stakes feel real, and yes, the story is heavy, but they still find the time to have several humorous fun moments – especially when teams of heroes who have not yet met first encounter one another.  I could watch the over-sized egos of Dr. Strange and Tony Stark snipe at one another for hours.  I could also watch hours of the Guardians of the Galaxy meet other heroes. 

    The story was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and they managed to do something I was really not prepared for – they make Thanos layered.  As I said, in the comic, I found him boring and one-note.  This movie is really a Thanos movie – he is the star – everything else happens around him.   The writing, plus the incredible visual translation by the Russos and the amazing performance by Josh Brolin actually give Thanos a few moments where he is a sympathetic character, where he mourns the sacrifices he has made to get to this point, and where his goal seems almost noble (almost).   

    • Brolin’s performance is absolutely the stand-out for me, it is all performance capture, so he was there on set in the pajamas with the dots on them to have the performance translated to the giant purple being that will become on-screen Thanos. 

    The Avengers are all fantastic – and while they all get some time to shine, there are just a few who have stand out moments –
    • Chris Hemsworth gets to show Thor at his very lowest – he’s lost his home, his hammer, his family, and he’s a bit lost. He meets up with the Guardians, gets a new weapon, and promptly shows his friends on earth how much stronger he’s become. 
    • The Guardians:  Chris Pratt as Star Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot, Pom Klementieff as Mantiss, and Karen Gillan as Nebula are all wonderful in this movie.  They have really settled into their role as Guardians of the Galaxy at this point, which is about 4 years after the end of the last Guardians movie.  Their interactions are wonderful, and their introductions to other characters are even better – especially SpiderMan.

    • Tom Holland continues to be the very best SpiderMan we have seen to date. He’s fun, he’s energetic, he’s helpful, and determined.  He also has one of the most emotionally powerhouse moments in the movie.
    • Robert Downey Jr. continues to just be Tony Stark. Tony seems to be attempting to talk Pepper Potts into having a child at the beginning of this movie when Dr. Strange comes to get him.  Benedict Cumberbatch continues to make Dr. Strange more watchable every time we see him, and Benedict Wong is equally as wonderful as Wong.

    • Mark Ruffalo gets quite a bit to do that is non-Hulk in this movie, whereas Ragnarok was a lot of Hulk.  Banner is tired and afraid, and Ruffalo’s performance is wonderful.
    • Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany have taken the Scarlet Witch/Vision relationship to the point we knew it would get to when we first saw them catch each other’s eyes in Age of Ultron.  They have been stealing moments together when this movie kicks off, as Wanda is still on the run from the government after the events of Civil War and Vision is staying with Don Cheadle’s War Machine as government employee Avengers.

    • Chris Evans’s Captain America continues to be the heart and soul of the Avengers, and really helps to move the story along. His first appearance in this movie is the one that got the second loudest responses in my theater.  He shows up with Anthony Mackie’s Falcon and Scarlett Johanssen’s Black Widow - we can assume they were helping random folks under the radar while on the run.

    •  The loudest response in my theater was when Cap says he ‘knows a guy’ who can help, and the team heads to Wakanda.  The reappearance of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, Danai Gurira’s Okoye, Letitia Wright’s Shuri, and Winston Duke’s M’Baku was a real highlight.  They also unfreeze Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier just in time to get a new arm and help out.

    • The Black Order, Terry Notary as Cull Obsidian, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Ebony Maw, Carrie Coon as Proxima Midnight, and Michael James Shaw as Corvus Glaive, are intimidating and cool. I could have used a little more of them, but they do get some awesome battle moments.

    Overall, if you loved the movies up to this point, you will love this one. If you were a casual fan of the others, and maybe haven’t seen all of them, parts of this will be overwhelming and confusing.  If you haven’t seen any of the others, and are going into this cold – you won’t enjoy it as much, but there is still plenty in it that you will like.  Yes, it’s long, but I didn’t feel the length.  Thor getting his new weapon was the only bit I felt that dragged a bit, so I would have trimmed that down, but everything else moves quickly, even the quieter moments.  The story is impressive, the cast overwhelming, and the weight of the finale real.  Now, slight spoiler here – yes, it has a very Empire Strikes Back type ending, but no worries, Avengers 4 will be out in a year’s time, and between now and then we have Ant Man and the Wasp in July and Captain Marvel in March.  Guardians 3, Black Panther 2, and Spiderman 2 are all confirmed, and there are many other MCU movies in the works.  So, yes, this one ends heavy – but no worries!  Everything will be okay – ish.

    11 out of 10 – it’s damn near perfect.

     Bonus - This cast is awesome.