Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3' a perfect send-off for an imperfect team of heroes
"Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3" (GOTGV3) is awesome on a number of different levels. It's also my favorite Marvel movie at least since "Avengers: End Game," and perhaps of all-time.
James Gunn - recently recruited to relaunch and reimagine the DC Cinematic Universe - completes the GOTG trilogy of films with an action-packed, personal journey, sending this group of ragtag, imperfect characters off into the sunset.
I laughed. I cried. But most of all I had FUN. I couldn't believe how invested I was with this batch of characters, having followed them throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for 10 years now. I cared. In creating this massive, cosmic, two-and-a-half-hour long epic, James Gunn has somehow told the most personal Marvel story to date, one with consequences and stakes, that didn't just revolve around villains trying to destroy the whole of the universe.
I didn't know what I expected when I sat down in the theater to see "Polite Society," but my expectations were exceedingly shattered.
This is a fun, wild, spirited action-comedy romp, with fantasy elements that make comparisons with films like "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" inevitable. First time writer/director Nida Manzoor is a break-out, as are her two leading ladies, Priya Kansara and Ritu Arya, who combine to pack quite the punch in what might be the most surprisingly enjoyable film of 2023.
I'm a sucker for a good coming-of-age story, and "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" is a great one.
With focus, authenticity and a better-than-expected cast, this is a crowd-pleaser that will withstand the test of time, much like the book that it's based on.
It's hard to believe that there has never been an animated film featuring Mario and his brother Luigi, until now. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" doesn't have the "coolness" or cutting-edge appeal as, say, "The LEGO Movie" did, and it wasn't quite as fun as the recent "Sonic The Hedgehog" film, but it's a mildly enjoyable, family-friendly adventure that does just enough to make it feel like a success.
The images you may see in the trailer for "Paint," may make you think that Owen Wilson is portraying the legendary, soft-spoken Public Television artist, Bob Ross, whose "The Joy of Painting" captivated people around the world.
But "Paint" is not a biopic, nor does Bob Ross have anything to do with this film. Sure, the look of Wilson's character, the easy-going womanizer, Carl Nargle, may himself have a popular public-access TV show about painting, and he may have taken inspiration from Ross's iconic appearance, but Nargle couldn't be more polar opposite than Ross.
The biggest difference? Ross is a joy to watch. Nargle on the other hand, is a grating, pompous-ass who gets by with his charm and talents. None of which leaves anything for us to root for in this bland, quirky "comedy," that seems to misfire at every opportunity.
It's hard to know or measure the success of a streaming-only movie, especially because sites like Netflix rarely, if ever, divulge much information about them. We do know though, that Adam Sandler has had a multi-picture deal with Netflix, and from that deal came 2019's "Murder Mystery." It was the rare film, in that critics and audiences agreed that it sucked (it boasts a 44% approval score from RottenTomatoes critics and audiences).
But in today's day and age, success can come in many different forms, and the powers-that-be decided to green-light a sequel. The innovatively-titled "Murder Mystery 2" is now streaming, despite nobody asking for it to exist.
Is Sandler out of ideas when it comes to comedies? Surely he could have came with an original idea to fulfill his promise to Netflix, instead of trying to squeeze life out of an existing, lifeless movie. But here we are.
If an AI ChatBot were to write and direct a superhero movie, I'd imagine it would turn out exactly like "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." A movie so generic, that it was actually painful to watch.
Director Guy Ritchie has made a career on style. His latest film, the full-titled version of which is "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre," has plenty of it...the problem is that the script is a complete dud. This renders its talented ensemble useless, each desperate to breathe life into this dead-on-arrival crime-comedy-thriller, but each - save Hugh Grant - being held back without ever getting a chance to shine.
The result is a movie that feels like it should be cool but isn't...a movie so high on its own supply that it becomes grating, not charismatic, the longer it slogs on.
Review: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania' an ambitious forward plunge for the MCU
Despite my first-ever job being in a comic book store, I am by no means a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) slappy. Don't believe me? I gave less-than stellar reviews of each of the last three installments - "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," "Thor: Love and Thunder" and "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."
And with "Ant-Man" in particular, I haven't necessarily been a fan (read my reviews of the first "Ant-Man" and "Ant-Man and the Wasp" here).
That's why I'm happy - more like pleasantly surprised - to report that I really liked "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," the 31st MCU film overall and the first of the so-called "Phase Five" of Marvel movies.
There has been a huge void in the "quality" department ever since "Avengers: End Game" wrapped up the Thanos saga in 2019. Sure, the pandemic had something to do with the MCU feeling completely stalled out in recent years, but it isn't an excuse that makes up for the mediocrity we've been served up - with a few exceptions - over the past few years.
And this newest movie is imperfect to be sure, but FINALLY - after years of subpar films and countless Marvel series on Disney+ since 2019 - the MCU finally gets some forward traction, with one of it's most compelling villains yet, Kang the Conqueror.
And suddenly, I'm interested again in where the MCU is headed.
***Mild Spoilers Ahead - Read With Caution!***
In "You People," a new R-rated comedy hitting theaters and Netflix simultaneously, a white man, Ezra (Jonah Hill) and a black woman, Amira (Lauren London), fall in love. All is good, until they are introduced to each of their families.
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