Movie Released: 5/27/22
Top Gun: Maverick
It's not often that you see a movie sequel surpass the original film but "Top Gun: Maverick" is one of the rare examples. This film much like the original focuses on fighter pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell played once again by Tom Cruise. Set 36 years after the original this film sees Maverick return to the Top Gun program only this time as an instructor prepping the next generation of pilots for a dangerous mission. Cruise is joined once again by Val Kilmer playing rival turned close friend Tom "Iceman" Kazansky. Cruise and Kilmer are the only actors from the original to reprise their roles. This film is highlighted by its younger cast with Miles Teller in a standout performance as Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw the son of Mavericks original co-pilot Goose. The actors new and old all balance the serious and intense scenes with the more lighthearted ones with expert precession. This film is a step up in visuals from the original due in part to the advanced technology, the dog fighting and airborne scenes were all done practically per Cruises request. The story, acting, visuals, and music all have nods to the original film without feeling like a copy or nostalgic cash grab. This is the definition of a summer blockbuster in its truest form and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Having not grown up with the original "Top Gun" and only seeing it shortly before seeing this film I think they compliment each other beautifully and this sequel was well worth the wait. This is definitely the best movie I've seen so far in 2022.
Final Score - 9/10
Movie Released: 5/6/22
Movie Seen: 5/6/22
Review Published: 6/17/22
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness
"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the second solo film for Doctor Stephen Strange played by Benedict Cumberbatch. This film is directed by legendary director Sam Raimi and is one of the best examples of a director's style showing through. Raimi known well in the horror film genre brought a thrilling and disturbing twist to this film never before seen in a Marvel movie. However while the style is very much in line with the director it creates a tonal shift with the more lighthearted, comedic, and action packed movies we're used to seeing in the MCU. This movie is a weird case of leaving with more questions and not knowing who to blame, the direction by Raimi was exactly what I expected and the acting from Cumberbatch as well as the supporting cast was also very well done. The unfortunate downfall of this film is drastic tonal changes and pacing. The "multiverse" was also barley explored in a film with multiverse in its name. Considering when we last saw Doctor Strange was just this past December (2021) in "Spider-Man No Way Home" and that was one of the most well executed multiverse stories of recent memory this film just felt underwhelming. The acting by Cumberbatch as well as Elizabeth Olsen and Xochitl Gomez were all standouts and they all managed to balance what they were given as best they could. It's possible me like a lot of other fans set expectations really high for this film possibly too high and that is what led to it feeling underwhelming. There are lots of things to love about this film from the direction being something we've never seen to the visuals and acting but the downfalls of the pace and tone will never get it beyond middle of the road for me in the MCU. I would recommend you still see it if you're a MCU fan but make sure you approach it with the right expectations.
Series Released: 5/27/22 - 6/22/22
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney + Series)
The Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series on Disney + was something that a lot of people including myself were excited for, the question is did it deliver? The short answer is yes this series promised a bridge between "Revenge of the Sith" and "A New Hope" with a look at Obi-Wan and Vader and it was exactly that. This series shows in my opinion very well the mindset that Kenobi and Vader are in 10 years removed from the fall of the republic and their final duel on Mustafar. Something else this show does very well is show us a more in depth look at the imperial inquisitors. The inquisitors were first introduced in "Star Wars: Rebels" and further expanded upon in the Darth Vader comics and the video game "Jedi Fallen Order" I have loved getting to see all the different members of this group and how they each operate a little different. The other big question I had going into this show was how would they get Obi-Wan off Tatooine and I believe they found not only the best but the only possible solution. At this point in the timeline guarding Luke Skywalker is the biggest mission Kenobi has so getting him to leave would have to be something big. Vivien Lyra Blair gives an excellent performance as Princess Leia and joins a fantastic supporting cast alongside Moses Ingram, Sung Kang, Rupert Friend, and Hayden Christensen. The reunion of Kenobi and Skywalker was something we were told early on about the show and in my opinion it hasn't disappointed. While this show doesn't add anything extremely groundbreaking to the Star Wars universe like "The Mandalorian" it has been a chance to flesh out well know characters like Kenobi, Vader and Leia while giving us a nice emotional bridge from one trilogy to another. Seeing Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen back together as Kenobi and Skywalker has been a big enough reward for the shows creation so everything else is a nice bonus. A worthy addition to any Star Wars marathon.
Movie Released: 7/8/22
Movie Seen: 7/10/22
Review Published: 7/15/22
Thor: Love And Thunder
Thor: Love and Thunder" is the 29th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the fourth solo film for Chris Hemsworth's Thor making him the Marvel hero with the most solo films in the MCU. This film pushes past Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Captain America with three movies each. This movie also marks the return of Natalie Portman as Dr. Jane Foster only this time she reaches the true height of her comic book counterpart becoming "The Mighty Thor". This film also brings another Academy Award winner into the MCU with Christian Bale as the villain Gorr The God Butcher. This film much like "Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse Of Madness" earlier this year is very much a specific film to the director. This is very much a Taika Waititi film and that can be considered a good thing or a bad thing. In my opinion this film leans a little too much into the ridiculous humor and seems to take everything excepts Bale's scenes as a joke. The supporting cast of this film also seems to be either nonexistent or unimportant to the final outcome of the story. Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi), Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Zeus (Russell Crowe) while in the movie don't seem to bring anything of substance or consequence to the film. The worst example of this is the Guardians of the Galaxy who are in the opening of this film for maybe ten minutes and have next to no screen time, action, or dialogue. The film focuses on Thor, Jane, and Gorr and everyone else seems to be there to pad run time. There are things to like about this film and I enjoyed this film more than Doctor Strange: MOM. The visuals and soundtrack of this film are two of its strongest points and push the limits of the typical Marvel film. Christian Bale also delivers a standout performance as Gorr and will be in the conversation about the best comic book and MCU villains sooner rather than later. While this film isn't perfect and won't be the first MCU film I go to for rewatch it is an enjoyable watch and a important film for the few characters it focuses on.
Movie Released: 6/17/22
Movie Seen: 8/3/22
Review Published: 8/5/22
"Lightyear" was a weird concept of a film when it was first announced. The concept and even the beginning of the film states that in 1995 a boy named Andy was excited to get a Buzz Lightyear action figure because he had seen a new movie and this is that movie. This movie is pitched as almost a prequel to "Toy Story" but not really because it's supposed to be the "in universe" film that inspired the action figure. I went into this film forgetting all of that and I think that makes it easier to watch. If you go into this film thinking it's a new action and sci-fi movie from Pixar and nothing more I think you'll enjoy it far better than trying to understand how it fits into the Toy Story universe. Chris Evans does a good job voicing Buzz even if for me personally it was hard to distinguish the performance from Evans other role as Captain America especially since this version of Lightyear shares a lot of similarities to the Marvel hero. The supporting cast including Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, and most impactful for me Peter Sohn as Sox the cat all had memorable and funny performances as the rest of Lightyears new team. The presence of Evil Emperor Zurg while present in this film was not very impactful and strays a good amount away from his origin and history told in the Toy Story films. This film won't be apart of my rewatch of the Toy Story franchise as a whole but as a standalone Buzz adventure similar to the 2000 "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" movie and series it is an enjoyable watch. This film is heartwarming, funny, and action packed and the perfect summer movie for kids and families. So while I recommend this film to families and anyone who is a huge fan of the character Buzz Lightyear, for any die hard Toy Story fans this film doesn't add much if anything to the experience or enjoyment of the original films.
Movie Released: 2/18/22
Movie Seen: 8/5/22
Review Published: 8/12/22
"Uncharted" is a film based off the award winning game series for the Playstation and released in 2022. I was not super familiar with the game series prior to seeing this film I mainly saw it because of the actors involved, Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg. This film gives off a lot of energy similar to "Indiana Jones" and "National Treasure" and that is a huge compliment in my opinion. It can come across as a very cookie cutter action and adventure film but to me that isn't a bad thing at all. Is this film groundbreaking? No. Is this film going to set up a huge cinematic universe? Probably not. Does this film provide a good time full of action, adventure and comedy? Absolutely. These days Hollywood and the movie going public are so fixated on sequels, reboots, and cinematic universes that a film that purely provides an action packed viewing experience and nothing more is either labeled as bad or ignored entirely, and thats a shame. Is this a perfect movie no not in the slightest, some of the CGI is clunky and "video game" like which is kinda ironic and some of the dialogue is a bit forced but at the end of the day it's a fun adventure film about finding treasure so if it's a tad bit cheesy I think thats ok. I can't speak on how accurate Holland's portrayal of Nathan Drake is I'll leave that to fans of the game but I enjoyed his chemistry with Wahlberg and thought the story flowed in a very organic way. If you are looking for an easy to watch action and adventure film with some quality actors and a decent story I think you will genuinely enjoy this film. It's an easy watch to just shut off your brain and enjoy, and to me that makes a film land on the more positive side than a lot of people are giving it credit for. Perfect no but a quality and fun watch none the less.
Season 2 Released: 6/28/22 - 8/23/22
Only Murders In The Building (Hulu Series)
Much like the first season the second season of "Only Murders In The Building" is an exciting mystery beginning to end. The story picks up right after the cliffhanger of season one with Mabel (Selena Gomez) finding the body of Arconia building president Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell) in her apartment. This season follows Mabel (Gomez) along with Oliver (Martin Short) and Charles (Steve Martin) as they uncover who is framing them for Bunny's murder. This season brings back minor characters from season one giving them bigger roles like Cinda Canning (Tina Fey), Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane), and Howard Morris (Michael Cyril Creighton). This seasons investigation also bring in some new standout characters like Detective Kreps (Michael Rapaport), Alice Banks (Cara Delevingne) and Charles's daughter Lucy (Zoe Colletti). The twist, turns, and cliffhangers of season two kept me just as drawn in waiting for the next episode as season one did despite some of the episodes feeling a bit like filler. Every episode ended with a big reveal or new clue but some of the parts in between felt long by seasons end. One thing I did enjoy was the more time we got with Charles, Mabel, and Oliver dealing with their personal struggles. Each of the three main characters had their own arch throughout the season separated from the investigation that helped them grow as characters. The Arconia and it's residents also seemed to be more fleshed out this season and have more time in the spotlight which was very nice. The balance between comedy and drama continues to be expertly done and the cast all put out amazing performances every opportunity they have. No character seems underdeveloped, misused or like they're there for no reason, everyone serves a purpose and with a large cast that can be hard to do. I'm going to get into SPOILERS from this point in the review on so this is the SPOILER WARNING. I thought the finale was amazing and brought all the characters, plot points, and cliffhangers to a head and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. From Alice (who I was already suspicious of) coming to the party late, to the fake out of her being the killer and "stabbing" Charles, to the revel that Mabel, Oliver, and Charles had been working together with Cinda Canning and that her assistant Becky "Poppy" Butler was the real killer along with Detective Kreps this final episode had so many fake outs and twist it was hard not to be on the edge of your seat. This season was just as good as the first in my opinion and much of that is due to the use of its ensemble cast while still keeping the true focus on it's three main leads. The relationship between Mabel, Charles, and Oliver continues to be the highlight of the show and despite them being on their own journeys this season and sharing less screen time together those moments are well worth it. The season finale also leaves us on a really huge cliffhanger and with an A-list actor like Paul Rudd coming into the picture next season I'm already super excited to see what new direction the investigation will go. Season two is definitely worth checking out and I can't wait for season three.
Movie Released: 6/24/22
Movie Seen: 9/16/22
Review Published: 9/27/22
"Elvis" stars Austin Butler in the performance of his career and Tom Hanks playing a character unlike any he's ever played before. Elvis is told from the point of view of Colonel Parker (Tom Hanks) who used to be Elvis's manager. He tells the story of how he met Elvis (Austin Butler) and how the singer took the world by storm. The film covers the years of Elvis's life as a young adult until his passing. This film was one that intrigued my entire family which is beyond rare so no matter my opinions about the film it was a fun family movie night, that being said I loved this film from start to finish. Butler and Hanks put on expert level performances and their dynamic is easily the best part of the film. I've never seen Tom Hanks play this type of character, the evil and manipulative businessman that wants to take Elvis and his incredible talent for granted. Hanks is almost unrecognizable in costume and his performance brings a feeling of darkness over the entire story. It's a great example of the "puppetmaster" trope in film when one evil or selfish character drives the plot with their decisions. On the flipside of that coin you have Austin Butler who gives a youthful joy and a sense of care and responsibility to Elvis and you see throughout the film that slowly get drained away by Colonel Parker until the "King of Rock and Roll" is no more than a shell of his once great potential. I can't speak to the accuracy of everything portrayed in this film but I do think it was a very well done even if a bit over dramatic portrayal of Elvis and his life. If you are a fan of Elvis or want to know more about his life and the true tragedy behind it I think you'll thoroughly enjoy this movie. The cinematography is great, the acting not only by Butler and Hanks but the entire cast is amazing, the drama and suspense is very well done and obviously the music and score is phenomenal. I definitely recommend this film to anyone who was or is a fan of Elvis Presley.