Mini-Movie Review Barrage (Shin Godzilla, Thor: Ragnarok, The Punisher, The Last Jedi, The Greatest Showman)

I’ve seen a lot of movies and have written NO reviews. So, here comes a few quick-fire reviews! 

Shin Godzilla (2016)

I’m a huge Godzilla fan and have been since I was a little kid, but I’ll admit, I was not a fan of Shin Godzilla when I first watched it. I anticipated a big, action-packed Godzilla movie akin to the 2014 version, what I got was a very slow-paced movie where the heroes spend more time in palely-lit board rooms and less time actually confronting or solving the problem. Over the next few days, I thought about it, because I felt there was a much deeper meaning. And it wasn’t until I listened to a podcast that reviewed the movie did I realize the true point of Shin Godzilla.  The movie was more of an homage to Godzilla movies than I thought. Just as the original Godzilla movies were about American nuclear aggression in post-World War II Japan. Shin Godzilla was an allegory to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, and the horrible, slow-moving response of the bureaucracy to that tragedy. This movie is about disaster, normal people dealing with that disaster, and how the red tape of government can get in the way of real help being done. Shin Godzilla is not your typical kaiju movie, but it is nonetheless a very well done movie with an underlying important message about Japanese nationalism, and (for those of us outside of Japan) about taking your salvation into your own hands, rather than resting it in the hands of an incompetent government or another nation. (And the movie is worth it to see Godzilla use his atomic breath and just DEVASTATE the city.)

I give Shin Godzilla a grade of… C.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The Thor films have never been the most highly anticipated of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, in fact, I would say they are my least favorite (or at least, least re-watch-worthy) of the list. Then, comes the third film. Thor: Ragnarok feels nothing like a Thor movie and that might be its greatest strength. This action movie takes obvious clues from Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man and eschews dark and gritty of the past Thor films in lieu of hilarity and outlandish humor. The story strips Thor of his magical hammer and places the handsome god-prince in a more vulnerable position than we’ve ever seen him. I didn’t even mind that Hel wasn’t a particularly compelling villain, because the supporting cast was so entertaining and the story so original. The musical cues are excellent (another inspiration from Guardians of the Galaxy), and from the very beginning you can tell this movie is going to be a fun experience until the very end. I’m not sure if I’ve laughed as loud and as often in a Marvel movie as I did watching Thor: Ragnarok. The movie was so refreshing and original and well-directed that it has made me want to go watch other films by Taika Waititi (and that is the sign of a great director).

I give Thor: Ragnarok a grade of… A.

The Punisher (Netflix series) (2017)

I would wager that the list of shows that have had performances so impactful that those characters have been given their own show is small. I would go on to wager that the amount of those spin-off shows that were actually good is even smaller. Jon Bernthal’s performance on season 2 of Daredevil was stellar and I was very excited to hear that he would be given a chance to explore the character even further. I was even more excited when I started watching The Punisher and realized that it was going to be a great show. As more and more of Marvel’s Netflix shows come out, you can clearly draw a line between what is good (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones) and what is bad (Iron Fist, Defenders). And I am so happy to say that The Punisher falls on the good side of that line. The Punisher is a gritty, bloody story about revenge, conspiracy, and betrayal. The villain of the show (the REAL villain) made me actually scream at my computer screen when he turned heel and I loved to hate him. The performances of every character were all very strong and compelling, Jon Bernthal once again nailed the character, and the finale of the show was climatic, gripping, and fulfilling. The Punisher (just like all of the other Marvel Netflix shows) is NOT for children, but it is a great show nonetheless. And this is coming from an avid comic book fan that truly doesn’t like the Punisher character.

I give The Punisher a grade of… A.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Before I get into this review, I should go ahead and say that I would like to redact my grade of The Force Awakens from an A to a B, simply because it was far too derivative of past Star Wars movies.

That being said, The Last Jedi is almost the exact opposite of The Force Awakens in that it is the most original of the series to come out since… well, the original trilogy! In the past, Star Wars has been a series that draws a stark line between good and evil. There is the Light Side and there is the Dark Side. The Last Jedi shows us that there is room in between, where villains may be more conflicted than we thought, and the heroes of our past may be more flawed than we realize. The movie even takes a tertiary plotline (which I personally think may have been one plotline too many ) to show us that the Rebellion (the good guys) have skeletons in their closet and aren’t just a shining example of good, even though what they are up against is clearly bad. The great characters of Rey, Finn, and Poe continue into this movie, giving us a new generation of heroes to love and cheer for, and we are introduced to new characters to love, namely Kelly Marie Tran’s character (who, to my knowledge, is the first Asian character to be prominently featured in a Star Wars movie). This film also has the single, most breathtaking shot I’ve ever seen in a Star Wars film. When it happened, the entire audience fell silent in awe. It gave me goosebumps to experience. Longtime fans of Star Wars may be frustrated or even spiteful towards the movie for its representation of Luke Skywalker, the galaxy’s golden boy hero, but I actually like it. To reference Mark Hamill (who plays Luke himself and someone who had previously voiced regret and concerns about the character’s story in the movie), this movie gave us something different, it didn’t give us a wise old man training little Padawans because that is something we’ve seen done more than once, but this movie gave us something different. And, bless Star Wars fans, it just seems you can’t please us. You either make a movie that follows too much in the footsteps of past movies, or you make one that goes too far off the beaten trail. I, for one, really liked The Last Jedi and the twists and turns it threw at this longtime fan. It was really an unexpected and enjoyable ride, and that is the best you can hope for when going into a movie.

I give Star Wars: The Last Jedi a grade of… B.

Despicable Me 3 (2017)

The Greatest Showman (2017)

Now, to make a lot of people mad. The Greatest Showman is being lauded as the must-see film of 2017, but it isn’t so much a must-see as it is a must-listen. The movie goes by too quickly, the resolution is too easy, and the characters are kind of flat (with the exception of Zac Efron’s character who undergoes the most change). Some people have claimed that the movie has a great message, but I’m honestly a little lost as to what that message is. Is it that no matter how many people you wrong to pursue your goal, everything will be okay? Or is it that you should pursue your dreams no matter if you must make others give up their dreams, drag them out of their comfort zones, and continually screw them over as you chase your million other dreams? Because that’s what P.T. Barnum does throughout the entire movie. Now, I’d be okay with this message if there was some sort of repentant resolution, but there isn’t. The movie goes from everything being destroyed because of hubris to everything being fixed because… music? Maybe there is a message of not being ashamed of who you are, but besides one song (“This is Me”), there isn’t a lot of time spent on exploring that; again, probably because the movie tries to do so much so quickly. I think more detail and depth could be given to this story of the betrayal that often accompanies show business, but I think the reason that wasn’t delved into was to preserve the film’s PG rating. Which, I admit, was a refreshing rating and will hopefully introduce a new generation to the wonders of musicals. All that said, I was not impressed with The Greatest Showman‘s story. The music, however. THE MUSIC!!! The music of The Greatest Showman is the real reason you should go see this movie. I’ve pretty much been listening to the soundtrack nonstop since I saw the film. It’s wonderful and eclectic, and while the entire soundtrack itself sounds so original, each individual song also manages to sound different and unique from the last. Along with the music, the musical numbers themselves are beautifully choreographed. The choreography was gorgeous and made every number feel different, and not just because they were filmed in different settings, but because the moves, steps, attitude, and energy of each perfectly complemented the accompanying number and made it feel unique. Despite a severely lacking story, this movie is made by (and honestly for) its music.

I give The Greatest Showman a grade of… B.

Phew! That’s a lot of movies (and one Netflix show)! What are your thoughts on my thoughts on other people’s published thoughts of the thoughts of fictional others… thoughts?

And sorry this blog has been so quiet as of late. I’ve devoted a lot of my time and energy to Mistconceptions, a project I’m really happy with and will continue to devote time and energy to. I will say that I have given myself a serious goal for this year to become published. So I’ll be putting more time into pursuing that than I did last year by writing, editing, rewriting, and shopping my manuscript(s) around. I won’t make promises as to how often I’ll update the blog with reviews or updates on my writing, but if you stay tuned, you’ll be the first to know when I do post.

Keep it nerdy, y’all!

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