Spike Lee’s Oldboy… Full Review

Make no mistake about it, the original Oldboy is one of the most disturbingly twisted films ever created. It is also a violent, but masterful tale of karma and revenge. So, needless to say, Spike Lee’s remake has some lofty expectations to live up to.


Like the 2003 Korean-made original, Spike Lee’s Oldboy is the story of a degenerate businessman who is kidnapped after a drunken bender and imprisoned for twenty years. Here, that man is Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin), a sleazy advertising executive who neglects his three year old daughter and verbally assaults his ex-wife. Brolin portrays Doucett’s psychosis and post-traumatic paranoia and anger with fervor. It’s the drunken degenerate part of the character that comes off a little awkward for him. For twenty years he is confined to a window-less hotel room where he is fed the same meals and subjected to the same TV shows over and over again until one day he is abruptly released. This sets in motion a wave of violent cat and mouse games (This film isn’t remotely for the squeamish) that sees Doucett attempting to track down his captor and find his long lost daughter.

It’s inevitable to compare this version to the original, after all, it follows its predecessor almost to a tee with only a few necessary variations here and there. But somewhere along the way, something feels unpleasantly different. It’s still suspenseful and filled with gory action sequences, and the twists will be equally shocking to any newcomer who is unfamiliar with the South Korean version. But one can’t help but feel as if Spike and co. missed the point of it all.

Brolin’s Doucett is tormented, and his miscreant lifestyle makes it more than understandable as to why he could be subjected to such a horrendous punishment. However, the other characters seemed to be lost in translation in this version. Elizabeth Olsen’s Marie helps Doucett along his quest, but we never get a strong reason as to why she’d bother putting herself in harms way to help a violent stranger. Sharlto Copley (District 9, Elysium) is affectively creepy as Doucett’s captor, but unlike the Korean persona, we never get a sense that he feels tormented by his own lifestyle and decisions. The narrative also seems to clump together and at times seems to try too hard to convey the same message. Do we need five minutes of a drunken stupor to realize that Joe Doucett is a douche? It also would’ve been nice if, like the original, they explained why the movie is even called Oldboy.

These imperfections may seem nitpicky, but they’re so very important. With a subject matter so illicit and vulgar, there has to be a sense of purpose and reason in all of it. Otherwise, the audience just leaves feeling confused and disturbed rather than awkwardly amazed. The original provided the latter, Spike Lee’s version… not so much.



The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Review

Movies aren’t books… and books aren’t movies. Books invoke a sense of imagination and involve gritty details that no other form of media can match. Movies give us scope and intense visuals that no other form of media can match. Thus, comparing Catching Fire to its source material isn’t fair. Instead, we’ll just review the movie just as it is… a movie.


If you haven’t seen the first Hunger Games movie, then stop reading this review right now and go do yourself a favor by watching Part 1. Catching Fire brings us right back to the world of Panem, a world where cities must annually sacrifice their teenage children for a fight to the death. We pick up with most recent Hunger Games victor Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl as dull as she is strong, trying to cope with Post-traumatic stress and trying to navigate her love triangle between bff Gale (Liam Hemsworth aka Thor’s little brother) and games ally Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Alcoholic mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), eccentric and bubbly tour guide Effie (Elizabeth Banks), and suave stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) are all back as well.

Donald Sutherland returns as the creepy, villainous President Snow who seeks to damper the tides of rebellion by whisking Katniss, Peeta, and other former victors back into a special games known as The Quarter Quell.  And while that may seem to be the forefront of the plot to non-familiars, it isn’t really. This time around there is a much different feel and much more at stake then the problems of lil old Katniss. Gone is the suspense and mystery of wondering if Katniss will survive in the games.  The new intrigue revolves around just how a victor of such a ruthless contest is supposed to carry on with life. How does the world of Panem react to someone defying the rules by managing to outsmart the system? How do the naïve people of the Capitol, who up to this point see the games as nothing more than reality TV, react to seeing their favorite victors back in harms way amidst a world in revolution?

With this greater scope, the ante is upped all around. The games are more in depth (the arena itself is perhaps the greatest adversary). Alliances are formed (newcomers Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Jenna Malone, and Lynn Cohen are all welcomingly solid). Characters must question their motives and choose sides. And because of that heightened sense of urgency, Catching Fire can’t help but feel a tad more alive than its predecessor.

Yes, there are little nuggets that didn’t make it in from the book. But is it really necessary to the overall story to know little things like Haymitch being the Quarter Quells last victor? Not really. And are there a few plot points that are made too convenient in the film due to a few glossed over details from the novel? Sure… but the movie is already two and a half hours. In the end, familiars should like it enough, newcomers should love it, and at the conclusion… everyone should feel excited about Part 3.


My Top 15 FAVORITE Superhero Movies

In case you missed it, I got all of my negative vibes out of the way with my 15 Worst Superhero movies list earlier this month. Now it’s time to recognize the good stuff. The movies on this list are not only great superhero movies, but great movies in general. In case you don’t know my definition of a “Superhero movie”, here are the parameters once again…  A) The movie must have a superhero or heroine lead … B) be based off of a TV show, graphic novel, or comic… no video games movies or teen novels… and C) Need to have been watched at least 50% of the way through. As always, the movies that didn’t quite make the cut are listed as honorable mentions. Let’s get started shall we…  

15. X-Men (2000)


A movie that changed the game for superhero films. Made on a modest budget compared to films of the genre today, the movie manages to bring the beloved comic series to life with a great plot and an even better cast. Had to deduct some points for little stuff (The complete altering of Rogue’s character from the comics and Halle Berry’s terrible accent for instance). But overall, this movie is a classic and a solid adaption of my favorite Marvel comic series.

Favorite Moment: After being attacked by The Brotherhood, Cyclops (James Marsden) doesn’t know if Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is himself or the shapeshifting Mystique (Rebecca Romijn). When Cyclops asks him to prove he’s the real Logan, Wolverine replies “You’re a dick.” “Ok,” Cyclops convincingly nods.


14. Batman (1989)


Long before Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, and Heath Ledger came along, it was Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, and Jack Nicholson who made the Dark Knight cool and dark again. Nicholson’s performance as Joker is just as memorable as any film villain and Keaton’s Bruce Wayne is still arguably one of the best.

Favorite Moment: As Batman saves Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) and uses a series of gadgets to escape, Joker replies “Where does he get those wonderful toys.”


13. Man of Steel (2013)


Superman is probably my least favorite major superhero. Mainly because he’s just too powerful and thus lacks intrigue. That being said, Christopher Nolan and Zach Snyder did a magnificent job making Clark Kent a character we actually find interesting for two hours. Although the movie has its dull moments and the supporting roles after Russell Crowe and Amy Adams do next to nothing, the film makes up for it in action sequences and Hans Zimmer’s wonderful soundtrack.

Favorite Moment: The Dragonball Z-esque throwdown in the heart of Smallville between Superman (Henry Cavill), Faora (Antje Traue), and the Kryptonian version of Shaquille O’Neal .


12. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)


The amount of people that don’t like this film is stunning to me. Yes, I know it takes a while to get into the action scenes, but I enjoyed every minute of the set up. Chris Evans does a great job of making us forget about that other Marvel superhero he played by giving us a fine portrayal of the scrawny good guy turned muscled hero. Hayley Atwell and Tommy Lee Jones are equally good in their supporting roles. My only gripe is how little Hugo Weaving was able to bring to the role of the Red Skull.

Favorite Moment: After the rest of the platoon struggles to crawl up a flag pole to retrieve a flag, the crafty Steve Rogers simply unscrews the entire pole. Brain > Brawn.


11. Batman Returns (1992)


Much respect to Anne Hathway, but the best portrayal of Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman is in this movie. Michele Pfeiffer’s hauntingly sexy performance is the cornerstone for this film. Danny DeVito also strikes the perfect chord between charismatic and creepy as The Penguin.This was one of the first movies I ever saw in theaters. How it didn’t give me nightmares is a mystery to me.

Favorite Moment: I know I just talked about how great Catwoman is, but it’s Penguin’s takeover of the Batmobile and using a kiddie-ride to remote control it that I can’t help but love.


10. Watchmen (2009)


Zach Snyder strikes again. I was only vaguely familiar with the critically acclaimed graphic novel, about a darker take on superheroes, before I saw the first trailer for this film. That trailer, complete with a rendition of Smashing Pumpkins’ The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning, was so good that it prompted me to read the source material. I immediately realized why it was so lauded. The film version is perfect, matching some frames from the comic shot for shot while also managing to make the necessary tweaks to make the source material a bit more believable.

Favorite Moment: The noir inspired beginning in which Rorshach (Jackie Earl Haley at his best) investigates the death of his fallen comrade.


9. Spider-Man 2 (2004)


Unlike most people, I didn’t care much for the first Spider-man. I wasn’t a fan of Toby Maguire as Peter Parker and William Dafoe was just too cartoony as Green Goblin. Part 2, however, completely changed my outlook on this series (Too bad Part 3 brought it crashing down again). The reason for the upswing was undoubtedly Frank Langella as Doc Ock. The charisma and heart that he brought to the role set the tempo for the movie and the rest of the cast managed to follow suit with their best performances of the original trilogy.

Favorite Moment: Spidey and Doc Ock’s fight scene atop a moving train is still one of the best on-screen brawls to date.


8. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)


The plot of this movie sounds like it was written by a 10 year-old fan boy. Nevertheless, Joss Whedon deserves major props for actually pulling this movie off. What it lacks in story, it easily makes up for in action and humor. Not to mention the fact that it revolutionized the genre by bringing together heroes from multiple superhero films.

Favorite Moment: Anyone who grew up loving comics and cartoons has to get goosebumps when the camera first pans around all six heroes, but I specifically love the throw down between Thor and Hulk while on the Hellicarrier.


7. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)


The third installment in Christopher Nolan’s Bat-Trilogy has its flaws from a storytelling standpoint, but few can argue that it’s the best Part Three of any movie in the superhero genre. This is due less to the story and execution and more to the villains. Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway are both scene stealers as Bane and Selina Kyle.

Favorite Moment: Several to choose from. I love the opening highjacking scene as well as Bruce Wayne’s first pursuit of Bane’s henchmen on the Batpod, but the best scene has to go to the first showdown between Bane and Batman that ends in the Dark Knight’s back being broken.


6. V for Vendetta (2006)


Few actually realize that this movie is based on a 1982 DC Comics graphic novel (written by the same genius who wrote Watchmen). The theatrical version is nothing short of brilliant from its action sequences to its cast led by Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman. Produced by the same team that developed The Matrix, Vendetta is certainly one of the most thought provoking films in the genre.

FAVORITE MOMENT: Before taking out some thugs, V gives an introductory monologue using seemingly every word in the dictionary that starts with the letter V.


5. X-Men: First Class (2011)


X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine nearly killed the X-Men franchise. Luckily, Director Matthew Vaughn came along to bring us a well-acted, James Bond-like prequel/reboot to rejuvenate one of the best series’ in the genre. The story, which mingles the usual mutant drama with the Cuban missile crisis, is good but even better is the chemistry between James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence.

FAVORITE MOMENT: Michael Fassbender’s young Magneto uses a small knife and a gun that is never actually in his possession to kill a few former Nazis in a bar. Bad. Ass.


4. The Dark Knight (2008)


Surprised that it isn’t in the Top 2? This is a fantastic movie, but it does get a little long in the tooth around the two boats with detonators part. And (SPOILER ALERT) I can’t help but be underwhelmed by Two-Face’s death at the end. That being said, this movie is still an absolute classic… and we all know why. Heath Ledger’s incredible performance as the Joker is the best portrayal of a villain in any movie… ever. Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent is no slouch either.

FAVORITE MOMENT: The vehicle chase seen with Joker in a truck and Batman in the Batpod is good, but the scene where Joker walks in on a meeting between mobsters is better. “Want to see a magic trick?”


3. Iron Man (2008)


Kudos to Robert Downey Jr. for making Tony Stark as much of a household name as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. In the movie that started the Marvel Cinematic revolution, Downey Jr. is at his snarky best. His chemistry with Gwenyth Paltrow also gives us one of the best hero/girlfriend relationships ever on screen. All of that aside, it’s the groundbreaking special effects that help this movie’s cool factor exceed almost anything we’ve ever seen. Still waiting on Iron Man to have another solo outing as good as this one.

FAVORITE MOMENT: Iron Man shoots a small missile at a tank, then walks away as it explodes… like a boss.


2. X2: X-Men United (2003)


One of the most re-watchable movies of all time. It’s got a better plot than nearly every movie on this list and also manages to bring together a deep cast of characters and give each one their moment to shine. I have a hard time believing there will ever be an X-Men movie better than this one. The opening scene with Nightcrawler (Allen Cumming) in the White House is still the best opening to a superhero movie ever.

FAVORITE MOMENT: Too many to choose from… so I’ll just give them all. 1) The aforementioned opening scene. 2) Wolverine going berserk on soldiers in the mansion. 3) Magneto’s escape from an all plastic prison. 4) Pyro fighting off the police. 5) Storm creating tornadoes while also piloting the X-Jet. 6)  Mystique flipping Stryker the bird while sneaking into his underground facility. 7) The fight between Wolverine and Deathstrike. 8) The ending that sees Jena Grey “sacrifice herself” to save the team.


1. Batman Begins (2005)


Can you tell who my favorite superhero is? Not only did this movie manage to make Batman cool again after Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin nearly ruined him, but it also brings a more realistic flare to superhero films. Christopher Nolan does a magnificent job using non-linear filmmaking to tell the ultimate superhero origin story while Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and Cilian Murphy are perfect as Bruce Wayne, Alfred, and The Scarecrow.  The two sequels may get more attention, but both posses more flaws then this movie, which in my opinion has none. Some might dislike the fact that the Batman himself doesn’t make an appearance until an hour in, but I argue that the scenes where Bruce receives his training from Liam Neeson are just as good if not better. The plot twist that involved Liam Neeson’s Henri Dukard actually being the mastermind main-villain, Ra’s al Guhl, is still arguably the best in the genre.

FAVORITE MOMENT: Batman makes his first appearance in the film, roughing up some mobsters while scaring the pure Hell out of them at the same time. The ending exchange between Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Batman is a close second…

Gordon:  “I never got a chance to thank you.”

Batman: “And you’ll never have to.”

… Cue Fan boys tears and applause.


HONORABLE MENTION: Thor (2011), Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Blade (1998), The Wolverine (2013), Dredd (2012), Kick Ass (2010), Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Ok, that’s my list. Here’s hoping Captain America: Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be able to make it on this list in 2014. What are your favorite superhero flicks? Got an idea for another list? Comment below or follow me on twitter or Facebook.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD Review (Spoiler Free!)

ImageEver since 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel has raised the bar on the superhero film industry by creating a universe as extensive as a television series. Knowing this, don’t think you can just waltz into this film as an unfamiliar. Seeing both Thor and Avengers prior to this film is essential, because it picks up right where they left off. Now, let’s review Thor: The Dark World.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has returned to his medieval-like home in Asgard where he protects all of the parallel worlds from monsters and such alongside his friends Sif (Jaime Alexander) and the Warriors Three. Still, he longs to return to Earth and be with his mortal physicist girlfriend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Loki, meanwhile, is tucked away in an Asgardian prison where he spends his time hating everyone except his adopted mother Frigga (Renee Russo). Throw in some evil elves who want to find some energy weapon to destroy the universe, blah, blah, blah… and we have our movie.

I’m being vague on the villain and plot because they really don’t matter. This movie isn’t about story. It’s about action sequences, explosions, and characters. And it’s driven by the relationship between Thor and his step-brother Loki. Hiddleston’s performance as the God of mischief is once again what drives the movie. He is sinister, snarky, but also more vulnerable than ever before. The film didn’t fully gain its weight until their inevitable team-up.

The rest of the cast is sufficient. Natalie Portman returns to give her best scientist with a school-girl crush routine. Kat Dennings once again prattles alongside her as the film’s comic relief. Jamie Alexander plays a great Wonder Woman… I mean Sif, even if the subtle love triangle between her, Thor, and Jane falls flat. Idris Elba does the bad-ass bodyguard well as Heimdall. And Anthony Hopkins is more pig-headed than ever as Odin, father of Thor. Surprisingly, the standout supporting performance goes to Renee Russo as Frigga. She exudes the strength and love that any Queen is supposed to carry and even gets to show off her own fighting skills.

Overall… will we remember Thor: The Dark World amongst the great superhero movies? Probably Not. But it is as good or better than the first installment and carries much more emotional weight. So we will watch it, perhaps multiple times, if only to stay caught up and prepared for Avengers 2. And that’s the beauty of what Marvel has created in their intertwining film universe. Each piece is essential to the puzzle regardless of how good or bad the actual film is. 


Sidenote: As always, there is extra stuff during and at the end of the credits. And if you can afford it, see the film in 3D. It contains a special preview of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Last Vegas Review

Remember the show Golden Girls? Remember how it gave us a funny, but very heartfelt window into the lives of the elderly? Remember how it made you want to spend time with your grandparents and actually listen to their long stories about their old days? If you can, then good news…  Last Vegas is just for you.

ImageIf Golden Girls is too far gone to remember, then maybe 2011’s Bridesmaids may be a more fitting comparison. Many will try to compare it to The Hangover, but believe me, if you go in making that sort of comparison, you will be sorely disappointed. It lacks the outrageous spontaneity to be compared to that comedy. The film does, however, follow four childhood best friends now in their late-60s: Billy (Michael Douglas) whose wedding to a woman barely into her 30s is the reason for the group’s Vegas romp. Archie (Morgan Freeman), a borderline alcoholic with a heart condition who escapes from his overprotective son (Michael Ealy) to finally have some fun. Sam (Kevin Kline), who looks to Vegas as an opportunity to escape his droll marriage. And Paddy (Robert DeNiro), a grumpy widower who still has a personal grudge with Billy.

There is a tad bit of drama in the film, mainly caused by the sudden love triangle between DeNiro, Douglas, and a Vegas songstress (Mary Steenburgen). Unfortunately, none of it ever seems to feel that interesting. There are also a lot of cartoony antics and cameos (50 cent for some reason) that detract from the more realistic humorous moments. But, as with any comedy, making the audience laugh can help to overlook some problems. And this film is full of laughs. Like Golden Girls, it embraces the idea of getting old and uses the chemistry between its cast to make you wish they were your old friends too.

The film may not be too memorable from a story standpoint, but the characters are lovable enough. Morgan Freeman, in particular, steals the show. Sometimes it’s ok to just sit back and enjoy watching old people have fun, even if none of their problems resonate with anyone under the age of 50.


The 15 WORST Superhero MOVIES

I decided to take a look back at some of the BEST and WORST superhero movies over the years. This is one of my favorite genres so I tend to get excited every time one comes out, regardless of my familiarity with the source material. I’ll start off with the 10 Worst just to get all of that bad mojo out of the way (I have a lot of animosity toward a lot ALL of these films).

First, let’s address the parameters. To be on this list you obviously must A) Have a superhero or heroine lead?  … B) be based off of a TV show, graphic novel, or comic… no video games movies… and C) Need to have been watched at least 50% of the way through. There are plenty of superhero movies deemed awful that I left off of this list, because I haven’t seen them (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Steel for example). Also, to understand how I came to my ranking, movies that might have been bad, but possessed some sort of enjoyably redeeming quality have been either ranked lower or placed in the honorable mention category. As always, I’ve included a valid explanation as to how I came to my conclusion that these movies sucked. Got it? Good… *Deep Sigh*… Here we go.

15. Batman & Robin (1997)

ImageThis may be too low on the list for some, but here me out. Think of this movie as an adaption of Adam West’s campy 1960s Batman TV show and it doesn’t seem as bad… Right? Or is that just me? Ok, being the Batman purist that I am, I managed to find enjoyment in it. That being said, it’s hard to deny how bad this movie is. From Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman’s excessively pun laden dialogue to the infamous nipples on the Bat suits, the laundry list of problems would rival any superhero movie. Let’s also take the time to thank Tom Hardy for making us forget about this…Image

14. Daredevil (2003)


Another movie that is terrible, but not nearly as bad as some people think. Yes, the plot is boring. Yes, Ben Affleck is a little bland. But some of the fight scenes aren’t bad. I actually enjoyed the meaningless playground scene between Daredevil and Jennifer Garner’s Elektra (more on her later). What makes this movie delve into awful territory is its cringe-worthy villains. Michael Clark Duncan (God rest his soul) is just terrible as Kingpin. And the less said about Collin Ferrel as Bullseye, the better.

13. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)


Some might say this movie isn’t bad. I humbly but angrily disagree. The third installment of what, up until this film, had been a great X-Men series seems to do its best to make a mockery of the previous two. Some elements might only upset purists: (SPOILER ALERT) Why do a movie about The Phoenix if you’re going to kill off her husband within the first half hour? Mystique gets “cured” and Magneto just leaves her there even though she saved him? WTF is with Quills? Is he supposed to be intimidating? Why is Angel in a costume in all of the posters and promotional material, when he is only in the movie for about fifteen minutes and does next to nothing? There may be cool parts in the film, but not nearly enough to keep this movie from being a disappointment. And yet… it’s not even remotely the worst third films in a trilogy on this list.


12. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)


Raise your hand if you finished watching the first Fantastic Four and were immediately ready for a sequel… “Don’t worry, I’ll wait” in my best Katt Williams voice. Yes, Silver Surfer is pretty cool and is basically a spot on interpretation of the comic book version. But, there is literally nothing else worth mentioning about this movie. Absolutely nothing. Here’s hoping the 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four can get the series back on track.

11. Superman Returns (2006)


The fact that this movie got better reviews than Zach Snyder and Christopher Nolan’s Man of Steel just blows my mind! Really!? Go back and watch it… It is the most bland super hero movie ever made. 1) Brandon Routh is mind numbingly stoic even for a character as dull as Clark Kent. 2) Lex Luthor’s evil plan is to create real estate? What? 3) Superman doesn’t throw a single punch the entire film. 4) Lois Lane, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, asks her boss “How many f’s in ‘catastrophic’?” 5) Kumar from Harold and Kumar kicks Superman’s ass. 6) Superman doesn’t even beat Lex Luthor. After stabbing Supes with kryptonite, Luthor leaves and his helicopter runs out of gas (-_-) 😑  7) A plot that involves Superman being Lois’ baby daddy. Seriously… Bryan Singer turned down X-Men 3 for this??


10. Ghost Rider (2007)


Let’s be real about the situation here. Nicholas Cage is no Christian Bale when it comes to acting talent. He pretty much plays himself in every movie. And yet, he’s not even this movie’s biggest problem. What is, you ask? That’d probably be a three-way tie between the stale plot, weak special effects, and corny, pun-filled dialogue. If a movie with Eva Mendes makes you want to leave early, then there’s a serious problem.


9. Fantastic Four (2005)


“That’s it?” Those were literally my first words after the credits started rolling. Forget the fact that Jessica Alba as the Invisible Woman and Julian McMahon as Doctor Doom are two of the worst casts ever. This movie is awful for the simple fact that there’s barely anything in the movie other than them playing with their superpowers for 2 hours. Well, that and dialogue lines like…

Dr. Doom: “Sue, let’s not fight.”

Invisbile Woman: “No, Let’s”

… Cue fight scene followed by mass audience face palms.

8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

ImageI imagine the preliminary meetings for this movie went like this… “Hey everyone, let’s just throw a bunch of random mutants that we haven’t used yet, like Gambit and Blob, into an X-Men movie and make Wolverine the main character!” (as if Hugh Jackman didn’t get enough screen time in the first three X-Men movies). This prequel manages to be both unfaithful to both the comics and the original trilogy. There’s so many head-scratchingly unnecessary and over the top moments. But perhaps the worst thing about it is the end… a lamely choreographed fight scene between Wolverine, Sabertooth and some thing calling itself Deadpool.

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My thoughts on… Ender’s Game

Don’t judge a book by its cover. On the surface, Ender’s Game is yet another sci-fi/fantasy movie, based on a novel, involving a teen outcast who holds the fate of the world in their awkward little hands. Cue Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Beautiful Creatures, and any other teen novel references you can think of. But, beneath the commercial surface of Ender’s Game that is part Harry Potter and part Star Wars, is something else entirely. Beneath the summer blockbuster-like presentation is a unique message and deep commentary.


To be fair, I never read the 1985 book for which this film is based. So this will not be one of those reviews that gripes about the differences and how the film version missed a few marks. I’ll have plenty of time to do that when Catching Fire roles around. Instead, I judged the movie as most of the movie going audience will and should, as an unfamiliar.

The film is set in a distant future following a devastating war with an invading insect like species called Formics. Following the catastrophe, the world begins preparing for a second invasion by training the world’s brightest young minds from an early age to be perfect soldiers.  Think Jedi from Star Wars but with less emotion. Ender Wiggin, played decently enough by Asa Butterfield (Hugo), is the best and brightest. Through his fragile eyes, we are exposed to this harsh reality where militant commanders use war games and boot camp to prepare children to be war weapons.

The supporting cast is solid. Harrison Ford and Viola Davis compliment each other well as military leaders specifically eying Ender with different ideals and methods on his development as a leader and soldier. But it is the commentary on war that makes this film stand out. It isn’t just the idea that children are stripped of their innocence to protect the “greater good”, but it is the thoughts and ideas that are being pumped into their heads. With Ender, we get it all, good and bad. He has a good heart, instilled largely by his older sister (played by Abigail Breslin). He is a good leader and a trustworthy friend. He also beats bullies to a pulp to win “not just this fight, but the next”. He sacrifices ships to destroy worlds. He negotiates with lesser minds to manipulate his own status. And in the end, when he has done what he has been taught, only then does he question the merits of his actions.

A film like this raises so many questions. The source material was written 30 years ago and it’s commentary on the merits of war are still relevant today. Yes, the necessary cool special effects and laughs are sprinkled in throughout, but if you aren’t leaving the theater wondering about the ruthlessness of war and whether or not this mentality is necessary to “protect the greater good” … then you might’ve missed the point.