Deadpool 2 Review

I didn’t like the first Deadpool all that much. It was a pretty rote superhero origin that was very smug about being aware of that. For all of its claims of being different, it’s only possible claim to originality was its humor, which wasn’t particularly original or, in my opinion at least, funny. So fans of Deadpool should take my review of the sequel with a grain of salt, because I am not predisposed to like it. I am also in possession of a movie pass account and can go watch it without having to pay, so I went ahead and watched and saw Deadpool 2. I didn’t like it.

I’ll start with the positives. Ryan Reynolds remains perfect for the role and does a great job when the material doesn’t let him down. Josh Brolin should be a lot of fun as Cable, hopefully a movie soon will give him the chance to actually play the character in some meaningful way. And finally, Zazie Beetz’s Domino steals every scene she is in, which are not coincidentally most of the worthwhile scenes in the movie.

The story fall completely flat. It is internally inconsistent and it shifts from to attempted pathos clumsily enough to make neither part work. The movie wants viewers to care about Deadpool’s emotional journey, but only during certain scenes. The rest of the time it is just more fodder for mockery. The problem is that is spends a significant amount of time setting up what are supposed to be emotional beats, only for them to fall completely flat. It pulls a stunt so cretinous and ham fisted in the first ten minutes that made it impossible to engage with the movie afterward. A movie that was actually as aware of itself as Deadpool 2 smugly pretends to be would have been able to navigate between both. Look at something like Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead, which are both parodies that actually get the viewer to care about their characters. Deadpool 2 merely lampshades that it is engaging in the tired tropes of the genre before wholeheartedly engaging those tired tropes. A movie that was actually as aware as Deadpool 2 wants to be might have noted the dissonance between Deadpool’s mission to stop Firefist from killing and his methods of accomplishing that mission involving blatantly killing dozens of bad guys.

It also largely isn’t very funny. This one I am sure will not be the majority opinion. Deadpool 2 is essentially an episode of Family Guy with superheroes. It gets laughs not by having jokes but by reminding viewer of other things they have seen. Did you know that Josh Brolin played Thanos in Infinity War? Because Deadpool does and isn’t calling him Thanos a great joke? In the movies favor, there are plenty of funny jokes; it is just that the movie is determined to have three jokes a minute even if only 1 of those jokes are funny. I found it tiresome.

Deadpool 2 is also an ugly looking movie. It really just looks bad a lot of the time. The CGI Colossus should be getting called out for looking like crap, the same goes for another CGI character. Some of the action scenes looked fine, when they weren’t over relying on dodgy effects or the joke of Deadpool getting mutilated. Most notably is one big sequence with Domino showing off her luck powers, which belongs in a much better movie than this.

I was likely never going to like Deadpool 2. I have never been particularly fond of the character and I found the first movie just as tiresome. I did hope that the addition of more characters to carry some of the load would help, but they don’t get the opportunity to do so. This is Deadpool 2, not X-Force, so Deadpool rightly remains the focus. Fool me twice, shame on me. I’ll won’t be back for a third.

**

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Overboard Review

The original Overboard succeeded despite its dodgy premise on the charm of its stars, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. That appeal would be hard, if not impossible, to replicate. Still, this new Overboard made an excellent attempt. Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez aren’t quite Russell and Hawn, but I don’t know how this movie could have done better. Overboard is a mildly enjoyable diversion; never offensive, but is also never quite funny enough.

This Overboard switches the genders of the put upon worker and rich jerk who stiffed them. Derbez’s Leonardo is a rich playboy who refuses to pay Faris’s Kate, a single mom working multiple jobs while in nursing school. When he falls off his yacht and ends up with amnesia, Kate pretends he is her husband so she can force him to work off his debt. Lessons are learned before Leonardo inevitably remembers who he is and there is a reckoning.

I am somewhat familiar with Anna Faris’s work, but it is easy to forget how great of a comic actress she is. Her timing is always perfect and her face is perfectly expressive. She gets a lot of lesser material over just on her delivery. She is great. I was not familiar with Derbez, though I intend to watch last year’s How to be a Latin Lover, which is on Hulu, after watching this. He is likewise very good, though he spends a lot of movie being vaguely confused at what is going on around him, and he has really good chemistry with Faris.

My problem with Overboard is that is just isn’t all that funny. It isn’t that it is full of bad jokes, it is just that it repeats a lot of jokes and a lot of them were only marginally funny to begin with. The other problem is that it kind of skips over Leonardo building a relationship with Kate and her kids. There are a few, mostly effective scenes, but there is more showing the start of growth and then finished growth without showing the actual growth. Like with him teaching Kate’s youngest daughter how to ride her bike. There is a scene where he realizes she can’t ride a bike and then a scene where she is riding a bike and says he taught her, but the movie never shows him teaching her. It does things like that a little too often.

That said, I mostly enjoyed Overboard. It is pleasant and manages to not to sink under the nature of its central conceit. It makes Leonardo enough of a jerk that his punishment feels earned and makes Kate desperate enough that she doesn’t appear to be completely sociopathic for engaging in the deception. It almost works. Which is how I feel about the whole movie; it almost works.

***

Super Troopers 2 Review

I love Super Troopers. It was maybe my favorite movie for a couple of years in high school. I stuck with the Broken Lizard guys after that, going back to Puddle Cruiser and generally liking Club Dread and Beerfest. That is why it hurts so much that I didn’t really enjoy this late coming sequel much at all. It’s not all bad, but there really isn’t much there to recommend about it.

I hate to call a movie unnecessary, because when it comes down to it, what movie is really necessary, but that is the charge I’d level at Super Troopers 2. It is basically running back everything from the first movie. The only really new thing added on are the Canadian jokes, but I’d hesitate to call any of that material “new.” If I wasn’t fairly certain that their hearts were in it, I’d say this movie was made out of some sort of obligation. It is just more of a thing we already had.

All of the characters are back and mostly as you remember them; the goofy Foster, the sardonic Mac, the intolerable Farva. Each has their place and each fills their niche fairly well, except everything is pushed just a little too far. Farva used to be an asshole who didn’t know how to tell a joke, now he is completely awful. He is just more. That is true of some of the other characters, like the Captain. They haven’t really changed, they are just more. The balance is not quite right.

The little new that this movie brings to the table doesn’t really work. The crew, fired from the jobs for what is cryptically called “the Fred Savage incident,” the gang all gets a job working around a town that was recently discovered to be part of the USA instead of Canada, replacing the squad of Mounties that previously worked the area. There are jokes about hockey and Canadian accents while the movie mostly replays the plot of the first movie. It feels overly familiar.

The movie does work when they are getting into some newish hijinks, like when Mac and Foster rig up the radio to shock Farva everytime he talks into it, or the bit where a pair of the cops pretend to speak French to some Americans. But more of it, like most of the unnecessary callbacks and Thorny’s fascination with a female viagra, just don’t really work. It sits there inert.

Despite my complaints, there is still something that makes me want to like the movie. Just something about its genial silliness that makes it hard to hate, even when the jokes aren’t really landing. If someone told me they loved this movie, I would shrug and accept it. When it comes down to it, my biggest problem with it is that its best bits are merely echoes of the first movie. If hadn’t seen that one so much, then this one might not feel so unnecessary. And I hope its success lets Broken Lizard do something new and interesting.

**1/2

What I Watched April 2018

Movies

Logan Lucky – I think I appreciated this heist movie even more after seeing it again. It isn’t doing anything that special, but it is perfectly entertaining. ****

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – This is the best comedy. It was available for free on Amazon Prime (or maybe Hulu) and I needed to relax for 90 minutes. Steve Martin and Michael Caine are both great and Glenne Headly is perfect as the glue that makes it all work. Really, just a completely excellent movie. *****

The Godfather 2 – It’s real good, I don’t have anything to add. *****

Captain America Civil War – This movie doesn’t really work for me. The villain’s plan is ludicrous and it mostly is just working to get the heroes split on either side. Iron Man comes out looking terrible and while the big airport fight is fun in a lot of ways, the fighting is actually kind of dull. It isn’t bad, I just don’t love it. ***

Thor Ragnarok – I decided to go back to this before Avengers Infinity War hit. I think I like it even more on a rewatch than I did the first go round. The culmination of the Thor/Loki relationship alone made the movie worthwhile. I’ve got brothers, though admittedly none who have transformed into snakes before stabbing me, and seeing the developments in that relationship were relatable. Also, it is really funny. *****

TV

Black Lightning – It is rare for a show to come out as fully formed as this one. From the minute it started, Black Lightning knew what show it was and it was fully that show. There was no flailing about with any of its characters or its concepts; it just told its story. There were some minor missteps, but for the most part it was just one of the most assured and well considered TV shows around. I don’t mean good like I say the other CW superhero shows are good, that they are fun bits of pulp that are just solidly entertaining evening fare. This is legit one of the best shows on TV.

Legends of Tomorrow S3 – Legends took a leap from S1 to S2 by jettisoning a handful of characters that weren’t working (and one of their best in Captain Cold) and bringing in better replacements. It also just solidified the kind of show it wanted to be. I didn’t expect a similar leap in S3, but I still got it. The show has really settled into a solid niche as the big goofy superhero show while also doing a great job of exploring its cast. While the show keeps rotating members of the cast, the core just keep getting better. This is the most fun superhero show around.

The Office – I finished up. Even the bad stuff is good stuff.

Monk – There is something admirable about the purity of Monk to me. There aren’t enough straight up detective shows these days. Even Psych, which I loved, kind of dropped that angle in the last couple of seasons, to the show detriment. Monk was never anything but a mystery of the week show and it was great for that. Not quite Colombo great, but still great.

Superhero Shows – Other than the two the finished up, Flash and Supergirl are back. The Flash somehow keeps getting worse at season long villains, but most of the rest of the show is going just fine. Supergirl is still solidly good. Also, I watched the first episode of Krypton and liked it fine, I’ll get to the rest of it soon.

Now Playing April 2018

Beaten

Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology – review coming soon. This is a good ass game.

Ongoing

The Alliance Alive – I’ve played a few hours of this. I love how it looks, I like the story that is starting up. I hate it’s level up system. This uses the SaGa random stats up/new abilities as you play. It doesn’t work. It never works. It just adds a layer of tedium and randomness to the game. Unlike this game’s predecessor, Legend of Legacy, at least there is something else here besides the broken character development system, hopefully that black mark isn’t enough to drag the rest of the game down.

Suikoden V – Saying I played this is kind of exaggerating things. I played about 30 minutes of the opening, which is fairly long and light on gameplay. I don’t care, I still love it. It does a great job of setting up the plot and all of the characters in its expansive story. The brevity of Suikoden 2’s opening is one of the reasons that it is the better game than V, but I appreciate the care that went into telling this story. Plus, it has some all-time great characters in Sialeeds, Lyon and Miakis. I will write up something big about this game once I finish it.

Super Mario Galaxy – I played the first few stages. I still absolutely love this game. I hope that continues as I power through the rest of it. I have already noticed some annoyances with the camera that I don’t remember having before, but I expect I’ll get used to it as I keep playing

New Super Mario Bros U – I am still playing this, but I barely touched it for the month.

Upcoming

Pokemon Crystal – I bought this on a whim for my 3DS. I skipped the most recent Pokemon release, so I think I am ready to play some Pokemon. Plus, I’m not sure if I want to stick with The Alliance Alive.

What I Read April 2018

Another one book month. I hope to pick up the pace in May since I’ll be out of school. But we’ll see.

The Fallon Blood

Reagan O’Neal

The author of this book is actually by Robert Jordan, who wrote my favorite fantasy series the Wheel of Time. I stumbled on this in a used book store and thought I would give it a try. There is a lot to recommend about this historical adventure/romance. It moves quickly and has some vibrant characters. It also has an odd mix of historical accuracy and the pulpiest possible romance. I mean, women can’t help but fall into bed with the protagonist, though it takes a good 100 pages for the book to make him even seem charming. All of its characters are supposed to seem flawed, but it is more like there are good men and men who are absolute unrepentant monsters and every woman is kind of awful. They are not awful for the same reason, but they are all awful in some way.

It also tries to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to slavery. Telling a story set in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War it is a subject that must come up. At first it tries to set up the protagonist as being some kind of anti-slavery anomaly, but then his wife makes some unforgivable decisions for him, so it’s not his fault. The worst part of this particular thread is I can’t tell if the book his highlighting how awful the decision the protagonists made or supposed to be making us empathize with them over how hard it is to choose to enslave people. I fear it is the latter. Still, that issue aside, the book is mostly a fun romp. That being said, I don’t think I am going to do much work to track down its sequels.

Avengers Infinity War Review

Though I like them, I’m not the biggest fan of the first two Avengers movies. The first was an event, but it hasn’t aged particularly gracefully. The second was kind of mess from the get go. They aren’t bad; they are the kind of movies that provide a decent amount of entertainment when you stumble onto them on FX on a Saturday afternoon but not ones that invite much thought. Really, though, the previous Avengers movies aren’t really the predecessors to Infinity War; it follows up on the previous two Captain America movies and Thor Ragnarok.

This movie should have been a huge mess. It has so many characters, so many locations, so many storylines, and the Russos didn’t show themselves to all that adept at juggling this stuff in Civil War. But here they pulled it off. Infinity War manages to tell a story, or at least half of one, that despite its massive scope never really loses it focus on the story its telling.

There is a story here. Sure is has a ton of plot, but it also has themes and characters with goals. Those are low hurdles to clear, but too many movies fail to clear them. The structure of the movie makes it hard for any of these arcs to be resolved, but at least they are there. The big one is sacrifice. All throughout the movie, our heroes are confronted with the choice of sacrificing one or a few people to save the many more. And nearly every time they refuse to do so. Captain America flat out states that they don’t trade lives. This is contrasted with Thanos, who is willing to sacrifice anything to achieve his goals. It is as blatant as possible, but that works in superhero stories, which are rarely helped by being subtle. I’ll take the themes being too obvious over them being non-existent.

Avengers Infinity War puts the format of a big comic crossover to surprisingly great use in setting up the pacing of the movie. It plays out in roughly twenty minute chunks that are their own little stories, much like the individual issues that make up a comic crossover. After a quick opening with Thor that was set up at the end of Ragnarok, it opens with a section that is focused on Hulk, Dr. Strange and Iron Man. After that little story resolves itself, the movie introduces Captain America and his crew and then the Guardians of the Galaxy. Every group gets a enough time to play out a small story, usually meeting a new character before breaking off into a slightly different group for the next section of the movie. Each storyline has its own tone and for the most part every character gets their chance to shine. The only group that really doesn’t are those with Captain America on Earth, who really don’t have anything to do.

There are some weak links. We haven’t seen enough of Vision or Scarlet Witch to make us care about their romance. Thanos’s lieutenants are barely faces for our heroes to punch. The big one, and one that most Marvel movies share, is that the fight scenes are mostly really bland. There are a few moments where characters use their powers in interesting ways or in interesting combinations, but mostly it feels kind of inconsequential. Lastly, the movie doesn’t really end, it just kind of stops. But that problem with be solved, or exacerbated, in the follow up next year. There are also some clear winners. I wasn’t crazy about Spider-Man Homecoming, but Tom Holland was excellent in this. Chris Hemsworth continues to get better as Thor.

Avengers Infinity War is an Avengers movie that finally feels like a big event in movie instead of just outside of it. It isn’t quite as coherent as the best of Marvel’s output, there is a lot more meat on these bones than previous movies in the series had.

****1/2

What I Watched March 2018

Movies

Batman – I’ve never been a big fan of this Batman movie. I know people love it and the design is excellent, but it just doesn’t work for me. ***

UHF – This was my first time seeing this. Weird Al is great and the movie has some wonderful energy that it almost keeps up all the way through. I really feel like I need to see it again. It is just so silly and genial. ****1/2

Roadhouse – There is a lot of ironic enjoyment to be had with this movie, but I don’t really care for it that much. Sam Elliot is great, but I can’t really bring myself to care about most of it. **1/2

Tango & Cash – This movie is fun, but it doesn’t quite work. Mostly because Stallone can’t play the uptight cop. Kurt Russell is, of course, awesome. Still, there is a lot of fun to be had, especially when Stallone is doing Stallone things. Well worth a watch. ***

The ‘Burbs – I love Joe Dante movies and this one in particular. It has a great cast and does a great job of slowly building the madness of the main characters, though it ultimately pulls it punches at the end. I love it. *****

The Outsider – A Yakuza movie starring Jared Leto that is just so lifeless and inert that I can’t bring myself to care. On paper it sounds like it could have been a lot of fun, but it tries to tend toward seriousness and it is just so dull. *1/2

Battles Without Honor or Humanity – I was recommended this when I didn’t enjoy The Outsider. It was a lot of fun. After WWII, a group of young men form a Yakuza clan and as the years go by any sense of camaraderie among them dissipates into back-stabbing. *****
Game Nightread review here ***1/2

Black Panther read review here. *****

Tomb RaiderRead review here. ***

The Godfather – I don’t know that I really have anything to say about this. The Godfather is great. *****

Game Over, Man – The Workaholics guys made a DIe Hard-esque comedy that mostly works. Other than the gross out stuff, which never really works for me. I didn’t really need to see someone get his dick cut off. Still, there is some fun to be had here. **1/2

Pacific Rim Uprisingread review here. ***

Porco Rosso – Got a review here. I saw watched this in a theater for the first time. What stood out to me the most on this viewing was the music. Like the rest of the movie, it is nearly perfect. *****

TV

The Office – I’ve burnt through almost the entire series again as background noise while I was studying. It is still real good.

Collateral – There is a lot going on here. It is a detective show with a Carey Mulligan as the main detective that touches on a lot of political issues. It is pretty great, thoughtful and complex.

Voltron – This show continues to be good fun, though this was a real small batch of episodes.

Wild Wild Country – A great documentary look at a cult that set itself up on a ranch in Oregon. This story takes you places. At first the bigoted locals kind of put you on the side of the cultists, but things start to spiral out of control and everyone ends up looking pretty bad as the story goes on. It is a very interesting tale and well worth seeing.

Jessica Jones S2 – The second season of Jessica Jones doesn’t fix the problems that were a part of the first season and really all of Marvel’s Netflix shows: it is roughly 8 episodes worth of show spread across 13. It also has a much less compelling villain than the first season. That was always going to be a hard act to follow, but with Jessica’s job the show seemed to be in a position to avoid a serious letdown. It really didn’t, though. I mean, the show is still mostly good, but I’m running out of patience with this whole section of shows.

The Punisher – Basically see above. Jon Bernthal is great as Frank Castle, but I’ve never really been a fan of the character. This is a solid live action version that really did nothing for me personally. It is better than Iron Fist or the Defenders or Daredevil S2, but it isn’t as good as JJ or Daredevil S1.

Santa Clarita Diet S2 – The first season of this show was pretty great. It leaned a little too heavily on the gore, but once the family stuff started hitting it was really entertaining. The second season hits the ground running and just gets better and better. The characters are more well developed and there are at least two fall down laughing moments in each episode. I love this show.

What I Read March 2018

I only got one book read in March, but it was a long one. I don’t have much to add. Law school involves a lot of reading for class, which leaves little time for reading for pleasure.

The Jackal of Nar

John Marco

Another epic fantasy, this one I believe was the first published work of the author, and that shows. It isn’t bad, but it feels a little small despite the scope of its plot. The Jackal of Nar is inconsistent. Sometimes the protagonist Richius is a seasoned veteran, sometimes he is a lovesick teenager. Maybe there is room for both in character, but for him it seems like a switch that goes on and off. Maybe that is because I don’t really buy the romance between him and Dyana. There is a nice set up of the very religious and mystical Trin versus the scientific Empire, but I don’t feel like that idea was fully explored. There are two more books in the series; I assume that thread continues to run. Despite the impression I think I am giving, I liked the book, it just always left me wishing it was doing something different. It seems to rush past the parts that work and linger on the parts that don’t. It feels like a first book.

Summer Movie Preview

I guess this isn’t completely a preview now, since law school stuff kept me from getting it posted when I wanted to, but here are the movies I am looking forward to seeing this Summer, or at least from the months of May through August.

April

Avengers Infinity War – This is what I am counting as the starting point for summer, at least as far as movies go. Marvel Studios has wobbled a little since Age of Ultron but the last couple releases have been as good as any they’ve put out. Infinity War has the chance to collapse under its own weight, or it could be the amazing spectacle.

May

Overboard – The original got by with its dodgy premise mostly on the charm of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. I have some doubts a remake can be anywhere near as good, but I’ll give it a look.

Breaking In – I don’t really think this is going to be any good, but at least it looks like it might be interesting. At least it looks different from most of the summer’s offerings.

Deadpool 2 – I might end up seeing this just because I now have moviepass. I didn’t like the first Deadpool, but most other people did. They made a sequel for those people, which I likely will also not enjoy.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – It is really soon after the magnificent Last Jedi and this movie only seems slightly less unnecessary than Rogue One. Plus, the it had a troubled production. But God help me if I am not really excited to see this.

June

Hotel Artemis – I just recently saw the trailer for this and immediately added it to my list. It has a great cast and a great John Wick-like hook, with a secret hotel for criminals. I hope it is as good as the trailer suggests.

Ocean’s 8 – I am a sucker for heist movies. The cast is full of great actresses. I am really looking forward to this.

The Incredibles 2 – I think the first Incredibles is still my favorite Pixar movie. As perfect and inevitable as an Incredibles sequel felt at the time, I’m not sure I really want it anymore. That being said, the trailer looks good and I have faith in Pixar.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – I kind of don’t remember anything about Jurassic World other than just kind of enjoying it. The trailer makes this out, among other things, to be something of a buddy cop movie between Chris Pratt and a velociraptor. I am there.

The Hustle – A gender swapped remake of the best comedy (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). Anne Hathaway is great. I’ll be seeing this.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado – The first Sicario was a thoughtful look at American drug policy, by way of a thriller. At first blush, this appears to be glorifying what that movie was criticising. Still, that movie was really good. Maybe this one won’t be bad.

July

Ant-Man and the Wasp – I liked, but didn’t love the first Ant-Man. Paul Rudd is super charming and Evangeline Lilly is also pretty great. The trailer makes this look like a lot of fun.

Skyscraper – It looks completely ridiculous, but it has The Rock in it. I like movies that have The Rock in them. Otherwise it just looks like a generic action movie, which is at least enough to get me interested.

Mission Impossible: Fallout – The last two Mission Impossible movies have been excellent. This one adds Henry Cavill, whom I am a fan of, especially when he is allowed to be charming (The Man from UNCLE is sooo underrated). This might be the movie I am most looking forward to this summer.

Teen Titans Go to the Movies – I’ve only seen a little of the cartoon and I am not sure it is is for me. It might also be a lot of fun. I’ll give it a shot.

August

The Spy Who Dumped Me – I’ve seen the trailer for this a couple of times and it looks like it might be funny. Kate McKinnon is usually enough to at least merit consideration and the trailer has a couple of funny jokes.

The Meg – Jason Statham versus a giant shark. It looks so dumb. It might just be the perfect thing to finish off the summer. Especially since I don’t know anything about the rest of the movies coming out in August. Jason Statham can elevate lesser material sometimes, maybe this will be worthwhile.