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When it was announced that Tony Stark/Iron Man would be joining the third Captain America movie as a co-lead for the Civil War storyline, I was thrilled beyond words. Not because I’m a fan of the comic book version of the story (I didn’t read comics growing up, so I know nothing about how this plays out on the page), but because I knew a major conflict between two of the biggest Marvel cinematic heroes would be much more dramatically interesting than what we’ve gotten from any of the previous films, where the hero(es) face off against a string of lame, underwritten, one-note villains. The hero vs. hero scenes in The Avengers were the best parts of that movie, and to have an entire film focusing on these two A-listers in conflict could only be a good thing.

I’m a YUUUGE fan of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I think it’s tied with The Avengers as the best movie so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (referenced as ‘MCU’ for the rest of this review). As such, I was looking forward to a third Cap movie more than any other upcoming Marvel project. Even more so after I found out directing brothers Anthony and Joe Russo would be returning. Then, as news trickled down that Civil War would feature almost all of the Avengers characters & actors having to pick sides and square off against each other, my excitement grew by leaps and bounds. It would basically be a third Avengers movie (Avengers 2.5 as many called it), but grounded on Earth with serious political overtones, without any silly alien bad guy elements. Clearly, they were making this movie just for me.

If all that wasn’t enough, Disney Marvel (MCU) then made an historic deal with Sony Marvel to not only include Spider-Man in Civil War, but to basically take over creative control of a character who had been horribly misused for basically a decade (Amazing Spider-Man was good, but the last Spidey movie I really loved was Spider-Man 2 in 2004). Then they actually started making the movie, and we were eventually blessed with two jaw-dropping trailers that left little doubt this was going to be an epic, orgasmic geek experience.

And boy did it deliver. We’re now 8 years and 13 films (that’s 3 Iron Mans, 3 Captain Americas, 2 Thors, 2 Avengers, a Guardians of the Galaxy, an Ant-Man and one Incredible Hulk) into this crazy cinematic experiment, and Captain America: Civil War is without a doubt the best MCU movie yet. I’ve seen it twice as I write this review. It is a stunning accomplishment of action and storytelling. It’s the best movie I’ve seen in 2016 as of early May. No doubt that will change as we head into the fall, but I’d love for Civil War to stick around until the end of the year as one of my Best Picture contenders. It would be the first MCU movie to earn a spot at that table.

As with all my full reviews, SPOILERS AHEAD. Let’s get into the details…

Continue reading ‘Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR’

The 2016 Biggie Awards (and My Top 10 & Bottom 5 of 2015)

The 27th Annual Biggie Awards

for achievements in film for the year 2015

2015. Goddamn. “Weird” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

In my view, this was the weakest year overall for movies since 2009, where I only “loved” 14 movies. In 2015, as of this writing, I added 17 films to my Love List. For perspective, since I’ve started tracking these things in 1997, this is only the third year where I didn’t love at least 20 movies. I didn’t love anything in 2015 until early May when Avengers: Age of Ultron opened, and even that was a disappointment compared to its predecessor.

This was not a year like 2000 (Gladiator), 2003 (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) or 2012 (Lincoln) where a single film dominated the year while also facing stiff competition (Gladiator fended off The Patriot, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon AND Traffic, ROTK is the most awarded film in Biggies history, but still had to face Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World AND The Last Samurai– which would have been the Best Picture winner in most other years, while Lincoln had to battle Zero Dark Thirty). The closest comp I can come up with is 2011, when Drive snuck in out of nowhere to take Best Picture in a wide open field. Drive would’ve been crushed had it come out the same year as There Will Be Blood or Titanic, but it happened to arrive in a mediocre year and was able to edge out the victory. Fast forward to now, and I don’t even know if there was a 2015 film as good as Drive. As a result, this is probably the most winnable year in Biggies history for “great but not masterful” movies, which is simultaneously really fun and disappointing by default. As I post this, I honestly haven’t decided what I think the best movie of 2015 was.

Continue reading ‘The 2016 Biggie Awards (and My Top 10 & Bottom 5 of 2015)’

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Vader helmet

Welcome back, friends. Please forgive my lack of productivity in this space through pretty much all of 2015, but I’ve had quite a bit going on out in the real world. On top of that, I’m much more interested in creating my own work than I am reacting to the work of others, which is what I do most of the time on this blog. That’s a result of simply wanting to get things off my chest, and over the past year I’ve become pretty good about being able to keep my mouth shut and my thoughts contained inside my head. This is my first full review since I analyzed Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April of 2014. Fuck, it has been awhile, hasn’t it?

Reviewing Star Wars movies has always been tough for me. And by “tough”, I mean “nearly impossible”. The original trilogy, collectively, occupies the #1 slot on my list of favorite movies of all time. When I watch those movies, I don’t see actors and cinematography and writing, I am watching a story unfold, nothing more. I’m not thinking at all about how it was made. That’s because I became passionate about Star Wars before I knew I was passionate about filmmaking. When it comes to the prequels, I don’t like talking about them because of how disappointing they are. I’ve never gone as far as most in saying they outright suck, but I freely admit they are a mess. I can still watch them and enjoy doing so, but they don’t feel like the original movies at all, and I’d have a very tough time watching all 6 in order, because the gap in style, both visually and in storytelling, between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope would be too big a jump to make in my mind. I’m also bitter that the way Anakin Skywalker was handled in the prequels makes original trilogy Darth Vader much less badass, which is a cinematic felony.

On to current events! Back when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and sent George Lucas packing, I posted my reaction to the news [HERE] and then did another piece reacting to the announcement of J.J. Abrams as Episode VII’s director [HERE]. I originally pegged Abrams’ selection at only a 2% chance of happening. In hindsight, that was foolish, but I based that doubt on the fact that I refused to believe that they’d hire the same guy who rebooted Star Trek to also revive Star Wars. I viewed that as some sort of celestial paradox. Minus the Star Trek factor, I approved of Abrams doing this, and I still approve now after we’ve all seen the finished product. Episode VII needed to be directed by a Star Wars fan, and Abrams has proven his worthiness in that regard. In many people’s views, his love for the original films is too evident in Force Awakens, but we’ll get to that.

Without further ado, let’s get straight into it. Needless to say, SPOILERS APLENTY AHEAD!


The 2015 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 and Bottom 5 of 2014)

The 26th Annual Biggie Awards


for achievements in film for the year 2014

(click on any image to see the full-size version)

A year like 2014 is precisely why I created my own awards to begin with. It’s a year when the Oscars and I disagreed perhaps more than we ever have. I dutifully watched the Academy Awards this year, as I always do, but I had little to no rooting interest, as almost none of my favorite movies were up in the categories they should’ve been recognized in. Though you’ll find quite a bit of overlap in our acting nominees, I only agree with 3 of the Academy’s 8 Best Picture nominees, and they passed gas on nearly all of their technical categories. What else is new?

I thought 2014 was a good year on the whole, but not great. Maybe a B+ if I were to grade it. The barometer I use in judging an entire year is how many movies I put on my all-time “Movies I Love” list. This year, there were 21 new entrees on that list. There were 22 in 2013 and 25 in 2012. For perspective, the most ever is 31 from 2000. None of 2014’s entries will wind up in my all-time top 100, but that’s a tough list to crack any year.

Continue reading ‘The 2015 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 and Bottom 5 of 2014)’

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My Sister’s Story

Introduction from Biggie:

With my sister’s permission, I am reposting, in her own words, a blog entry she wrote for a website called Evolve EDM. It tells the nearly complete history of the worst parts of more than 15 years of her life and how the discovery of electronic dance music (EDM) a couple years ago quite literally changed her life, or as she’ll say, saved it. I grew up in the same house as this young woman and barely knew of any of these events as they happened, be it through purposeful omission by my family, or the fact that I was 15-17 years old and simply wasn’t paying attention. Part of me is angry that I didn’t know the full extent sooner, part of me hates myself for not knowing and trying to help, part of me is in a murderous rage that the people who hurt her have likely faced no consequences, but all of me is immensely happy and proud at how she’s come out the other side better, happier and more confident than ever. Few people could withstand any one of the things that happened to her without irreparable damage to their body and spirit, yet she endured all of it and is here to courageously tell the tale. I can honestly say I have never been more proud of anyone than I am in my baby sister after reading this, and I’m glad she and I are closer now than we ever were as kids.

D, you say this will have been a successful endeavor if you’re able to reach even one person and help them change and overcome their struggles. Well, you’ve already inspired me. I’m proud to be your brother. I love you, and thank you for sharing.



Continue reading ‘My Sister’s Story’

Reaction: Marvel’s ballsy PHASE THREE lineup announcement

Phase Three logos

I began writing this post on Tuesday, October 28, the day Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige did a Steve Jobs/Apple style keynote address in L.A. announcing Marvel’s entire slate of films through 2019, which will comprise “Phase Three” of this interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a very ambitious lineup of 9 films, which shows just how confident Marvel has become given their success since “Phase One” began with the original Iron Man in 2008. It includes several already established characters and properties (Captain America, Thor, Loki, Hulk, the Guardians of the Galaxy) along with brand new films and characters that Marvel hopes/assumes will each turn into their own hit franchises. The newbies include the already announced Doctor Strange movie (which will now presumably star Benedict Cumberbatch), a Black Panther movie, a Captain Marvel movie, the third Avengers movie (with the awesome Infinity War subtitle), which will be split into two parts, and finally, The Inhumans.

In case you can’t read the photo (click on it for the bigger version), here’s the full lineup:

Continue reading ‘Reaction: Marvel’s ballsy PHASE THREE lineup announcement’

The Early October Update

Helluuuur! Yeah yeah, it’s been awhile, I know. I haven’t had much to say over the past couple months, so by extension I haven’t had much to share. But I have seen a buttload of good movies of late, and figured it was time for a review dump. I’ve got some recommendations for yo ass, so pay attention.


Gone Girl poster

The 3-year wait between David Fincher films (his last was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2011) has been excruciating, even if we did get two Fincher-directed House of Cards episodes last year on Netflix. But he’s finally back, all is right in the cinematic universe, and of course he has not disappointed with one of the mostly hotly anticipated films of 2014. Why do people like me worship this man’s work so much? It’s not too complicated. When people say the first job of a director is to know what he or she wants, David Fincher is the embodiment of that. If you’ve watched the A+ special features on any of Fincher’s movies, you know what I’m talking about. I have learned so much about the filmmaking process just by watching this man work, and I’m grateful to him for having been so open with his audience. I can’t wait to get Gone Girl on Blu-ray and spend hours poring through the bonus content. He also does some of the best, most informative commentaries you’ll ever listen to. He’s one of the most consistent and talented filmmakers alive, and he hasn’t made a bad movie since his first movie, which was 22 years ago. That’s something worth admiring, methinks.

Continue reading ‘The Early October Update’


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