Movie Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Before going in: I will have a spoiler section after the initial review, so continue reading past my score to get some of my thoughts on the surprises that burst out of this movie.

Homecoming set the bar unbelievably high for the ultimate Spidey experience, but that team came together to elevate it in every aspect. The small adventure with Spider-Man (Tom Holland) facing against the Vulture (Michael Keaton) was the movie I always wanted from my favorite hero but going forward, I needed higher stakes. Far From Home delivers an impact that not only shapes the future of the web-slinger from Queens but paves the way for the next phase of the MCU. This is a true journey for Peter that soars above my expectations and every other standalone flick in this universe.

After a world-ending entity with a giant chin (John Brolin) snaps away all of life, you need a vacation. Peter heads to Europe with his class for a field trip. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) hijacks Peter’s relaxing time with his friends and his plans to ask out M.J. (Zendaya) to partner up with a new face, Quentin Beck AKA Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to defeat mythological creatures called the Elementals. While full of action with giant beasts, this monumental task gets trickier as the neighborhood friendly superhero must cope with the loss of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Director Jon Watts and his team of writers, Erik Sommers, and Chris McKenna, hit the right note to send off the third phase of the MCU and coming off of Endgame.

Immediately the film takes care of a plot issue in a quirky, yet smart way of tackling how the snap and time travel of Endgame changes how the world works. A much-needed explanation clarifies why Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Peter, along with everyone else in their class, fit into their school after five years have passed and any age-related questions that were brought up after the world-saving snap. Watch it yourself, but I felt this was the right choice in handling some of the big questions when the two best friends reunited at the end of Thanos’ defeat.

Mysterio certainly takes a different role, but in a respectful manner that balances change and tradition for the iconic character. Gyllenhaal’s entry in this franchise has been a dream of mine, and like I knew it in my heart, he nails every beat. His chemistry with Holland shines in interviews, along with every scene they share in this story.

I had some concerns over the look of the Elementals from the trailers. The water creature looked perfectly fine since water usually does not get messed up by the VFX crew, but fire tends to look too fake. At times some of the melting metal looked off, but overall the flaming monster looks horrifyingly spectacular.

A heavy side plot involved Peter and M.J., which felt honest and fitting. Romantic subplots usually feel forced while taking away from the more exciting storylines. I had a smile through epic battles and seeing these two awkward teenagers interact. Zendaya and Holland have delightful chemistry that I can watch for hours.

The special effects along with the variety of new costumes, make this a far prettier film than Homecoming. While the first solo film with Holland’s Spidey was superb, it did not have too many stunning moments to look at except for his suit and Vulture. More color here gave this sequel a much-needed facelift while still balancing it out when needed. Not all of the CGI landed, but it excelled above its predecessor.

Traveling between different countries gave plenty of eye candy with some stunning sceneries. Seeing the Venice during an attack by destructive monsters or the nightlife of Paris generates a feeling unlike any other movie featuring the wall-crawling teenager. Changing locations kept the film fresh as the story progressed.

The way the tone was handled and balanced in Holland’s first standalone made it feel so worthy. The writing, along with the acting carries the drama, action, and comedy into higher places. One did not take away from the other. I managed to feel every emotion I wanted to feel when going into the theater.

I will say it here, this is the best adaption of Spider-Man to date, even beating its beloved, smaller outing. Watts and the writing team understand this character, and Tom Holland is Spider-Man. Some generic moments happen that was expected, but those Hollywood tropes don’t diminish what is so special about this send-off for the third phase.

Score: 10/10

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SPOILERS AFTER READING SECTION:

Mysterio’s twist from a seemingly new hero from another dimension to the villain I and many other fans knew from the first trailer.  Gyllenhaal’s performance and character arc sell it so well, until the big reveal. Him gaining the power of Tony’s army of drones by earning Peter’s trust smacked me in the face, despite being ready.

He is far from the special effects artist from the comics, but he earns this change. Like Thanos, he goes from goofy, yet iconic villain to someone more believable for an on-screen take. His motivations make sense while deviating from the sympathetic style that many of the magnificent baddies of the MCU have taken. Unlike Thanos or Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), he is diabolically manipulative, and I love him.

Every entry in the MCU has it’s after credits, sometimes things are a nice laugh before going home, while others mold the future. The first epilogue drastically changes what will happen going forward with Spider-Man. Beck had one final trick before his death by revealing Peter’s identity along with framing him for the drone attack in Europe. I lost it in my seat, and I am sure the elderly woman next to me was not happy about my language. Inching near Vulture’s identity reveal and some of the major twists in the ensemble adventures, this is arguably the biggest moment in the history of Marvel’s movie-making plans.

On top of that, J.K. Simmons reprises his role briefly as J. Jonah Jameson. The cameo topped off one of the most overwhelming scenes from any superhero flick.

The ending scene, once all of the credits rolled, reveals a fan theory that has been going on for years. The Skrull theory about Nick Fury is partially correct. The significant change is that the one-eyed mastermind is still around, just in space with other Skrulls. He is still the main man behind forming the Avengers and all of his other accomplishments but has taken a step back to have control from afar.

The twists and turns of this movie really made and ruined my nerdy life. I cannot wait for the future of this universe, especially for my favorite web-slinger.

Image via Marvel Studios/Columbia Pictures

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6 Beloved Movie Franchises That Have Mostly Sucked

Studios love a strong franchise that can make them billions of dollars. For fans, it means they get more movies with characters they are devoted towards or a universe they are invested in to watch develop further. Plenty of these series churn out quality film after quality film, but many get new entries despite being terrible. These movies should have called it quits or go back to what made them special in the first place if the executives want to save it for the sake of the fans, even though we know they don’t care about us.

#6: Friday the 13th

Horror gets more sequels than any other genre due to its power of making tons of money on low budgets. While it may seem like a great idea to see your favorite monster or killer again, many times it ends up going too ridiculous or redundant with its ideas.

The Friday the 13th series is one of the biggest culprits by losing any creativity after a couple of films. The first two were groundbreaking for the time, but soon became an overly absurd franchise full of the same ideas with some new scenarios and ways for Jason to kill horny teens. Once you are sending your psychopathic, undead killer into space, hell, and fighting another antagonist from a different franchise, it is time to call it quits.

#5: Alien

The cosmic horror franchise has gone downhill after two movies. The original being a horrific standoff between a crew and an unknown alien entity while its sequel blends the genre with an action twist. Like many before and after the Alien movies, it loses sight to what made the originals special.

Losing its social commentary definitely hurt the films, but mostly its self-destruction of the lore that fans fell in love with in the very beginning. Prometheus and Alien: Covenant tore apart the universe that was built that tarnishes the legacy of their predecessors.

#4: X-Men

Finding a more convoluted franchise than X-Men would be a challenging task. Full of inconsistent powers from iconic heroes and villains along with stories that don’t tie together well. Things got so bad, they needed a film to redo the damage with Days of Future Past, which was well received by fans and critics. Then after those repairs, one of the most beloved stories from the comics was butchered with Apocalypse.

Plenty of positives can be found here with X-Men. The brilliant casting with Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender, and plenty more stars help brighten up even the darkest of times these heroes had to face with poorly made films. A few entries were excellent, especially the non-canon Logan.

Thankfully, we could see a streak of excellence from everyone’s favorite mutants once the Fox and Disney acquisition goes through. The day the Avengers and X-Men meet will be a glorious one for the superhero fandom.

#3: Jurassic Park

Fans tend to have mixed feelings about the later films, but the 1993 original reigns as the king. After one movie, everything started to decline. The main downfall is the repetition of its storyline. Dinosaurs breakout that ties together usually with some corporate agenda that leads to all of the chaos. After the disastrous response to Fallen Kingdom, things could turn even more grim for Chris Pratt and his raptor friends.

#2: Terminator 

Another franchise that holds two excellent, but different movies while crumbling under its own premise and messy world building. The first two Terminator movies dominate with the second usually gets held as even greater than the original. Sadly, the narrative came crashing down as time travel stories can succumb to if the focus gets lost. Since Genisys, it looks like robot Schwarzenegger might be doomed.

James Cameron now has his power over the franchise which could result in a revival that could satisfy fans. Cameron does have his hands full with the many Avatar sequels he is planning, so hopefully, all goes well to restore Terminator to its former glory that it held decades ago.

#1: Pirates of the Caribbean 

Based on a ride at Disneyland, these pirate adventures slowly declined in quality with each release. I do enjoy the first three even considering their blatant issues, but the last two were brutal to sit through, especially the 2017 entry. The stories get more absurd and utterly stupid. All that needs to be said is Jack Sparrow’s (Johnny Depp) origin on how he got his name from Dead Men Tell No Tales proves how bad this franchise has gotten.

What movies do you think have gone downhill as more sequel got thrown out into the world? How do you feel about my list? Discuss what you are thinking in the comments below.

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Image via Warner Bros. Pictures/Columbia Pictures

Trailer Impressions: Knives Out

The next film from director Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) showed off the trailer for his murder mystery that will rival Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with its all-star cast. This whodunit flick looks fun with the right balance of thrills, and I am ready to buy my tickets as soon as I can.

Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a mystery novelist, falls to a suspicious death. As his family members gather for his funeral, detectives, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) and Troy Archer (LaKeith Stanford) come in to investigate, with his eyes on one of the family members as the prime suspect, it is all about to find out which person committed the murder.

Starting off with the detectives giving a rundown on what just happened. Along with glimpses at each of the suspects from Alex Robinson (Chris Evans), Linda Robinson (Jamie Lee Curtis), Jack Bressler (Michael Shannon), and many more characters who can’t all be identified, but the cast continues its strength with Toni Collette (Hereditary), Ana de Armes (Blade Runner 2049), and Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why).

Benoit tells the family they must stay until the investigation concludes, which sparks up some of the despicable personalities to aim for the detective. Collette’s snappy attitude is more than enough of a hint on how this family acts. This is often the case in many murder mysteries, but with the right writing, it can be just as enjoyable.

Someone injecting another with poison is one of the many times murder is shown, so I expect plenty of others to start dropping throughout the story. After Craig mentions how these people “love twisting the knife into one another,” someone pulls out a knife from a fancy rack of blades that makes me want one for myself.

The ultimate selling point comes from America’s ass, Captain America himself, Chris Evans as he tells everyone in the room to “eat shit.” It is glorious as he repeatedly insults each of his relatives. The clean superhero really is gone with this new role.

A montage of Craig investigating the house along with more murderous attempts on people’s lives continue. With one glimpse of a car chase, it appears this will grow outside of the main property that was owned by the deceased father.

The two-minute trailer shows a lot of potential chemistry which will undoubtedly make this a joy to watch as long as the pacing gets nailed. Johnson is aiming to take these actors and actresses out of the bubble that people tend to view them in for roles that may seem unconventional, especially Craig and Evans. Bond and Captain America will play off more comedic elements than what they have been able to do in the past ten years.

Knives Out could be a blast, while I still want to know what twist on the genre does Johnson has up his sleeve. It looks thrilling while having plenty of laughs to deliver. Nov. 27 feels like it is miles away.

What do you think of the trailer? Are you excited or going to pass? Also, for those of you who are interested, who is the murderer? Post your thoughts in the comments.

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What We Know: Wolfenstein: Youngblood

The next Wolfenstein brings together fresh ideas never seen in the iconic franchise before. The new Nazi killing shooter will change the views of veteran players while still maintaining what fans have always enjoyed.

Story

Playing in singleplayer or coop, you play as one of B.J.’s daughters, Jess and Soph, who are searching for their missing father.

Taking place in the 80s, players will get a chance to shoot up Nazis in France while trying to save the man who was always the hero. His daughters will make for a big game changer in the narrative as B.J. takes a smaller role.

Direct Sequel or Spin-off?

Similar to Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, this is a spin-off of the main entries. Youngblood will continue the main storyline despite being a side entry.

How Coop Works

Playing with a friend has each of you control one of the twin daughters of the ultimate Nazi slayer. This will not be a couch coop experience, everything is online when playing with another person. While gamers who want to go solo will have an AI companion.

RPG Elements

Customization, more gear, and abilities will open up the gameplay. Completing main and side missions will level you up to gain new equipment and other ways to enhance your Nazi killing skills.

More Open, Just Not Open World

A non-linear structure, influenced by Arkane Studios who have partnered with Machine Games for this new installment. From the studio’s work on Dishonored will make for more open levels to discover side missions and allowing more freedom in the game’s progression.

Microtransactions

Cosmetic microtransactions like skins will be available. However, anything can be purchased with in-game currency.

Pre-Order Bundles

Standard: A $30 purchase that comes with the base game, New Colossus jacket power suit skin, B.J.’s U.S. Army power suit skin, Old Blood pipe, and knife, WW2 themed skins for all weapons.

Deluxe: The $40 deluxe edition comes with everything listed above including a buddy pass for a friend to play without purchasing the game, cyborg skin pack for the characters and their weaponry.

Pre-order and support the blog: Wolfenstein: Youngblood – PlayStation 4 Deluxe Edition

Pre-order and support the blog: Wolfenstein: Youngblood – Xbox One Deluxe Edition

Release

Wolfenstein: Youngblood comes out July 26 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC.

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Image via Machine Games/Arkane Studios

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is Not What We Thought

During EA Play the world got to see a 15-minute demo of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. The game was a typical linear adventure game with level design and combat that would be expected from this type of single-player experience. The closed doors demo showed the demo with an added few minutes of gameplay to show that this is something entirely different. As of June 25, this has become public.

Staying on Kashyyyk, we see the protagonist Cal swimming with his droid. He slowly swims in the middle of a battle. A TIE fighter crashes and explodes on an AT-AT. Once close enough to the still standing machine, Cal climbs on from some vegetation that is sticking to the legs. The climbing system is precisely the same as what was shown in the initial demo but in this new setting.

The hero hops in from an open hatch to get inside of the AT-AT. After taking out the guards and pilots, Cal takes control of the vehicle. This section becomes an on-rails shooter as he fights other vehicles and stormtroopers in the surrounding area.

Inside of Cal and his team’s ship, we get a glimpse of the open nature of the game. Other planets pop up on a map that has not been discovered yet. The developers at Respawn have said there will be an exploration of other worlds, and this is our first glimpse into this mechanic.

More interaction becomes available as Calk speaks with his crew for some banter and story information.

Upgrades and leveling up was mentioned, and the first look comes from Cal upgrading his droid, BD-1. His companion can now short circuit enemy tech.

While all of the details that have been discussed are not shown in this extended cut, Respawn does provide more proof of their concepts compared to the demo shown three weeks ago.

MY TAKE:

I enjoyed the first demo but felt it looked overly linear and an overall generic licensed game that had potential to be fun. This does give me more hope on a rich experience that will rival any game in 2019. We will see, but I have high hopes that this will be one of my top games of the year.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order comes out Nov. 15 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Pre-order here:

Pre-order: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – PlayStation 4

Pre-order: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – Xbox One

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Image via EA/Respawn

7 Bands That Changed My Life

Music has a power to it unlike anything else on the planet. The way it can connect with people on an emotional level is surreal. It has shaped me who I am and who I want to become down the road while helping me get through the hardest points in my life. While the list of my favorite groups who have influenced me could go on for way too long, these are just seven of those bands.

#7: Disturbed

Disturbed might always be my favorite band. They got me into music in the first place, and I will forever cherish it. I have never heard anyone who can produce as powerful and moving music as this Chicago quartet.

Sure, their music is pretty straight forward a lot of the times, but they have a variety in their subject manner from politics to relationships. David Draiman’s insight, along with his impressive vocal style and range makes for some adrenaline-inducing music.

The rest of the band lay the groundwork for some great melodic hard rock. They know what they want to do and execute their vision flawlessly.

#6: A Day to Remember

A lot of the middle and high school metalcore bands that get put into the same circle as A Day to Remember I don’t care for anymore, but this Florida based group is special. The reason that made me stick around after all of these years is their diverse sound by mixing metalcore and pop punk along with other influences. ADTR has a song for almost anyone from the somber acoustic tracks to their heaviest songs.

#5: Cannibal Corpse

While I don’t have interest in Cannibal Corpse anymore, they were my introduction into extreme music. I don’t remember how young I was when I first heard death metal, or what was my first, but Cannibal was the first I could recognize. They opened the door to something far heavier than I could imagine at that point in my life.

#4: Whitechapel

At a time, I fell off of extremely heavy music because I can’t relate to songs like Hammer Smash Face. To this day, I usually need something I can connect with, which is why Whitechapel changed the game for me. I never knew a band could be this extreme while having such emotion to their music.

Their recent releases diverge far away from their early work, which is another reason why I never left. These guys have evolved into a straight up metal group rather than sticking to the deathcore genre. Growth for any artist is essential, and Whitechapel’s latest album The Valley proves their skill.

#3: Breaking Benjamin

I went heavily into metal and fell out of rock for a long time. The only rock band I listened to was Disturbed, but Breaking Benjamin balanced things out perfectly. Benjamin Burnley’s soft voice with a mix of his powerful screams gave me my fix of melody and hard-driving rhythm.

When it comes to having songs to connect with, Burnley knows how to write gripping lyrics. His influence of Nirvana makes for open interpretations of his music to extend the reach he has with his fans.

#2: The Black Dahlia Murder

Like I said, I want music I can connect with the meaning, but some are given a pass. I usually want immense talent to impress me despite lacking in any emotion. The Black Dahlia Murder flawlessly executes every aspect of crafting a record above most artists in the metal scene. Everything from their instrumentation, unique screams, brilliant lyrics, and some of the most beautiful album artwork I have seen.

#1: Slipknot

Initially, I did not like Slipknot. Psychosocial did not sell me, so I avoided the masked Iowa natives for years. After a lot of new circling about the band’s album .5 The Gray Chapter got my attention. I decided to look them up on YouTube and found People = Shit then my life had changed forever.

After reading all of Corey Taylor’s books, listening to all of their music, and seeing their incredible live performances on YouTube turned me from a naysayer into a maggot. I now know why they are the most influential band in the past twenty years.

What artists made the biggest impact on your life? Comment below your favorites, I would love to read what you have to say.

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Image via Reprise Records

Song Impression: The Dev – Broken Lies

The typical rock formula has been around for decades, and if done correctly, then you can get a pass on following that path. The Dev certainly follow the basic rock recipe on making a song, but do it well mostly with their sense of driving rhythms and the singing from frontwoman Elizabeth Nikollaj.

A rhythmic and powerful introduction immediately caught my attention. The guitar work from Ryan Danley has its own sound, unlike most rock groups who blend together.

The first verse really shows the band’s true colors. The drumming and bass work is nothing extraordinary. While the guitar and vocals have plenty to offer. Lleshi has raw emotion to her voice and can show off some of her range in both soft and more aggressive tones.

The highly melodic chorus can undoubtedly get stuck in my brain if I listen to it enough times. The instrumentation took a step back as she took the lead. Nothing from the rest of the band stood out as much.

The bridge takes a twist on the same riff that was done throughout while Lleshi has a great moment to project a lot of emotion about this broken relationship.

Leading into a furious solo. The most hard-driving moment in the track with the drums and bass picking up the pace as we get a classic shredding solo that gave me 80s metal vibes.

Broken Lies may not be the most special song in the world, but it is great radio rock material. Throw it on a drive or a workout, and it will surely be suitable. The Dev prove they have substance to offer the rock and metal world, just need to experiment more to find their own voice in a sea of voices.

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Image via The Dev