The Batman Review

It’s certainly a Batman but is it the Batman?”

Hey, Everybody! Welcome to another review from where we entertain food for thought. My name is Ben and I’m the Flickmuncher. It’s been a couple of years since my last review and in that time a lot has happened the world over. For my part I’ve switched jobs, gained 20 pounds, and finished writing a full draft of a four hundred and fifty page book. But as one who is sentimental about old things I thought it was time I returned to my roots and started putting together some new reviews for you guys. So lets get into it!

Not having gone to the movie theaters much in the last two years, either due to the cumbersome restrictions or just sheer disinterest in what was being shown I’ve finally started to visit some of the newer material being produced by Hollywood lately. The most recent example of this is Matt Reeves’ The Batman. The Caped Crusader is a well known—if not the most well known—crime fighter in popular culture and has had many different iterations throughout the years. Some were phenomenal, such as Batman ’89 and The Dark Knight. Others like Batman vs. Superman and Batman and Robin, well…the less said about those the better.

Recently though a new contender has stepped into the ring in the form of The Batman, because for some reason Warner Bros. has gotten into their heads that putting “The” in front of a title automatically makes it new and ‘hip’ again (e.g. Suicide Squad vs ‘THE’ Suicide Squad). Directed by Matt Reeves, creator of titles such as Cloverfield (2008) and the recent Planet of the Apes movies, this film was intended as a reset of the Dark Knight after his previous incarnation as Ben Affleck supposedly flopped with audiences in the horribly botched Snyderverse Justice League films. So Warner Execs, with absolutely no spine among them, immediately hit the panic button and ordered an entirely new version of the character that would have nothing whatsoever to do with the Justice League—until of course, they change their minds again and put him in with a black Superman and the Rock as Black Adam, but I digress.

So how does this new film measure up? Robert Pattinson plays a young, decidedly not-sparkling Batman that has been working his new career as a vigilante crime fighter for two years now. Using his virtually infinite resources as Bruce Wayne and the help of his loyal butler Alfred (played by Andy Serkis) he has set fear into the hearts of criminals all across Gotham when they see the symbol of the bat shined into the sky at night. He’s even earned the trust of some of the police force including up and coming Lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright). Yet on the eve of a major election, the incumbent mayor is found murdered due to the actions of a mysterious maniac that the police refer to as ‘The Riddler’. Enlisting the help of Gordon and amateur thief Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz), Batman’s investigation soon finds him caught up in a conspiracy that reaches into Gotham’s very roots, and possibly Batman’s as well.

Before that though I’d like to do my best Captain Kidd impression when I say: ARRGHH, HERE THERE BE SPOILERS – GREENHORNS, YE BE WARNED.

Sorry, had to get that out of my system. On to the review.

Let’s talk about the good stuff first. In my opinion this is the best looking Batman films since Batman (1989). While Nolan’s Dark Knight movies tried to bring Batman into the real world, this movie builds a real world around him, which I think it does brilliantly. My personal image of Gotham is a mixture of today’s minimalist designs built atop layers of more intricate gothic spires, and this is what I imagined. Every frame of the film within Gotham evokes a city that tries to maintain a clean and civilized façade while its jagged, corrupt, and sinister core is poking out through every seam it can find. The place is literally dripping with atmosphere—seriously, it rains so much you’d think Gotham was built right next to Seattle—and is exactly the kind of place I would imagine finding a character like Batman silently patrolling the streets. The only place in the film that didn’t do that was ironically Wayne Manor which didn’t seem nearly grand or stately enough. Rather it seemed like a set from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios. It wasn’t a huge thing as very little of film takes place there but it was still a rather disappointing display for the home of The Batman.

“Who put the big pole up in front of the Kool-Aid Man sign?”

In addition, this movie plays with a part of Batman’s character we don’t see very often in the movies: the World’s Greatest Detective. Sure we’ve seen a couple occasions when he would use his knowledge to help locate a criminal or solve their dastardly scheme but with the exception of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (a movie I highly recommend by the way) I don’t know we’ve had a Batman movie dedicate a solid half of the movie to him solving a crime using classic techniques such as using informants, conducting surveillance, and noting down relevant information to help in solving the crime and finding the perpetrator. It’s just a shame that the movie seems to abandon this approach after the first third, but I’ll get to that. It’s really refreshing to see Batman treated as the World’s Greatest Detective instead of a simple brawler/super ninja with a bat-themed costume.

The other big thing I appreciated was the strength of the supporting cast. If there’s one thing I learned from watching the Harry Potter films it’s that a strong supporting cast can do a lot to uplift an otherwise mediocre film, and this film is no exception to that rule. Headlined by Andy Serkis as Alfred, John Turturro as Crime Boss Falcone, Jeffrey Wright as Lieutenant Gordon, and Colin Farrell as the Penguin, this is a top tier supporting cast that does a lot through their performances to lend gravity and authenticity to the story in a way that helps pull you as an audience member into the story on the screen. Such an effect cannot be understated when you consider what the film would be like without it. Also, I have to give props to the team that did the makeup for Colin Farrell as the Penguin. I genuinely didn’t know it was him until the end credits.

“Man. Colin really let himself go.”

Unfortunately this brings me to the main cast and the less positive part of this review. So if you like this movie and just wanted to hear me speak in glowing terms about how amazing this movie is then I’m glad you’ve enjoyed yourself and suggest you exit now and have a wonderful day, because this is where things get dark.

The main cast of The Batman is sadly rather lackluster. It’d be unfair to say that Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle respectively are out-and-out bad in this movie but their performances are one of the weakest elements. I can remember a number of moments from the supporting cast I mentioned earlier, throughout this film. I can remember John Turturro as Falcone, exuding warm charisma while still being menacing every time he was on screen. I remember Colin Farrell’s Penguin, barely hiding his resentment at being a stooge to Falcone, a man he has no respect for. I remember Andy Serkis as Alfred almost breaking down in tears while confessing to Bruce that the Waynes might not always have been as noble as they wanted people to believe. I can’t remember a single scene with Pattinson or Kravitz that stuck with me that way.

The lackluster main cast is only weighed down further by what is in my opinion a very weak villain in the form of the Riddler. Besides never actually calling himself that (the police are the ones who give him the name), Riddler struggles to find a true identity in this film. Part of this is because he is hidden for the first half of the movie as the subject of the detective story so we don’t get to know him that well. Putting aside the insultingly trite approach of making him a wannabe youtuber, his crimes are given a rather milquetoast motivation to support them. He wants to expose the corruption of Gotham for everyone to see. Okay, that would be fine but we never see how that corruption affected him personally. Why does he care so much about exposing Gotham’s corruption? Yeah, he’s a forensic accountant but that’s an occupation, not a motive. On top of that his means of getting his message out kind of convoluted and cryptic; What radical revolutionary promotes their cause by committing crimes and then giving their reason in riddles that only one person in the city can solve? If A Tale of Two Cities had worked that way it would have been Charles Dickens’ shortest novel. In previous versions of the Batman mythos, the Riddler worked as a character because he was so egotistical and narcissistic that he would commit crimes just to prove how smart he was. Then when Batman outsmarted him he would commit another crime with a different riddle to do the same thing. That is a textbook definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That’s what makes him crazy. This Riddler can’t decide what he is. Is he a murderer with a perverted sense of justice? Is he a genius criminal who gets kicks out of leaving clues behind just to prove nobody can stop him? Is he an anarchist? I don’t know because the film never lets him be one thing long enough for us to understand him.

Because nothing says Riddler like a nerdy green ripoff of Pulp Fiction?

This brings us to my personal two biggest issues with the film: the length and the structure. This film is just shy of three hours long, and boy did it feel like it was three hours long. Now, I’m not against films with long running times. I’ve seen plenty of films that I actually think would have benefitted from a longer runtime than they were given. The Lord of the Rings is one of my all-time favorite film series to watch and each of those is over three hours—four if you watch the extended versions. Yet throughout those movies I never once recall checking my phone for the time. With The Batman, I recall doing so at least three times. In school, when kids start looking at the clock during class, it usually means either they have some place to be, or they are bored out of their minds and just want to be out of the room as soon as physically possible.
In either case they have disengaged mentally.

Now—you might ask—how could a movie starring Batman that allows you to see him in all his glory for three full hours, possibly be boring? The answer is actually pretty simple. Batman in his full glory is not interesting enough on its own to keep someone engaged. A simple screensaver with a picture of the Dark Knight will do the same thing and for far longer. Batman has to have something interesting to do in those three hours and unfortunately, after the first hour, he really doesn’t. This wouldn’t be so bad if there was fun stuff happening elsewhere in the movie but the rest of the film is so unfocused that it never got me back after that first hour ended.

Which is where the structure comes into play. Most films have a basic structure wherein an event sets the story in motion (Joker commits a crime), there’s a build-up (Batman searches for the Joker), a climax (Batman finds the Joker), and finally the story is resolved (Batman takes Joker to Arkham—again). The Batman starts out this way with Riddler murdering someone, leading Batman to try and catch him, but after the first hour it detours into a conspiracy story involving every major figure in Gotham (except the young black woman running for mayor. ‘Kay). Yhen when both the murder mystery and the conspiracy story have been wrapped up and you think it’s time to say goodbye, there’s still almost an hour left where Batman has to stop a terrorist attack that the Riddler happened to orchestrate. The movie feels like three movies in one with none of them being allowed to breath, ironically talking more and saying less.

“Long night, Master Bruce?”

CONCLUSION: Leaving the theatre with my brother after watching this movie I wasn’t sure what to think of this movie. It is a Batman movie so there’s always something to enjoy. Yet for all that there was I just felt…tired. Not in the way that you feel out of breath after a rollercoaster at the amusement park or exhausted after running a marathon. More tired the way you feel when you come home from work; where you did what you had to do and now you’re done.

I’m sure there are plenty of folks who will like or even love this movie and its dark and gritty realization of the caped crusader and as I’ve noted above there are a lot of things to like about this movie. It’s certainly not the worst batman movie we’ve ever seen, or even the worst movie with batman in it. But while that might not be a high bar to reach—thank you Batman and Robin—it does make me wonder what this movie could have been. Wasted potential is a difficult thing to measure but it’s easy to see when there’s as much richness of atmosphere, world, and characters as this movie has to offer.

As it is though, I cannot truly recommend it except to the most die-hard of batfans. For the time invested this movie, like the Batman’s entrance, is a long slow plod toward an unclear destination.   

What did you guys think? Did you like this movie? What stood out? Reach out to me in the comments section or comment on Facebook. Thanks and have a wonderful weekend!     

Aquaman Review: King of the Seven Seas

Hey Everybody! Welcome to another review from where we entertain food for thought. My name is Ben and I’m the Flickmuncher. We’ve got quite the line up these next few weeks and I’m excited to share the next several reviews with you as well as show off the new collaborative reviews that I’ll be doing for episodes of the 2017 Ducktales TV series with our new contributor Mimi the Flickmunchkin, which should be starting in March. However, until then, let’s take a look at the recent DC movie release, Aquaman.


So let’s get right into it. What’s the story? Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) was a boy born cursed. The son of a Lighthouse Keeper (Temuera Morrison) and the runaway Queen of the underwater Kingdom of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman), he was blessed with amazing abilities beyond that of normal people. Yet he is constantly split between the surface world that he calls home, and the realm of the sea that calls him to lead it. Uninterested in becoming Atlantis’ king since the death of his mother, Arthur spends his time using his abilities to do good deeds where he can. All this changes however, when his younger half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) starts to gather the kingdoms of the seven seas to attack the surface world. With the help of his mother’s old friend Volka (Willem Defoe) and the sea witch, Mera (Amber Heard), Arthur must become the Aquaman to defeat Orm and bring peace to Atlantis and the Surface.

In a switch on how I usually present my reviews, I’m going to cover the negatives first and get to the positives later.
To start things off, let’s look at the villains. First, our main villain, Prince Orm. As superhero villains go, Orm is actually not that bad. He has a connection to the hero, and a personal reason to hate him thanks to their mother’s death—she was executed for her relationship with Arthur’s father and having Arthur. Such brotherly conflict is often rich with drama and works well enough between these two characters. You might be thinking: well that doesn’t sound like a negative to me. And you’d be right. The negative with Orm is that he tends to fall back on the whole “rule the world” cliché and the brotherly conflict isn’t used as fully is it is like with Thor and Loki. This weakness is made more acute by the fact that Orm’s reasons for wanting to attack the surface are rather general and vague, owing to a generic “polluting the oceans” message. Alternatively, he could have blamed the death of his mother on the Surface and used that as his motivation, which would have served his character far better given his attitude toward Arthur and his mother, Queen Atlanna.

Then we have Black Manta, widely regarded by fans as Aquaman’s greatest enemy, who is given a terrific motivation when Arthur chooses not to save his father (a pirate but still a human being) from drowning. But then he basically gets relegated to the position of “hired thug” and gets one quick action scene before getting taken out and promised a sequel by the producers (depending on the box office, of course). If you’re wondering again why this is a bad thing, there’s a reason you don’t have a main bad guy get beaten in his first confrontation with the hero, let alone the second time. It makes that bad guy seem less of a threat to the hero. If he’s already gotten his head handed to him before, why should we as the audience believe that the next time will turn out any differently? We know he won’t have any lasting victory anyway so there’s less of a doubt in our minds about the hero’s chances.

Besides this are a number of smaller things that bugged me. First, the musical score in the film is appropriately epic and sweeping for the majority of the runtime. Which is why it feels so jarring when they play a piece of pop music or rap like “Ocean to Ocean” by Pitbull. It just sounds out of place.
Second, while the drama is good for the most part, there are several moments that felt rushed in order to move the plot forward to fit the runtime (which is already a colossal two hours and twenty-three minutes). For instance, a moment between Arthur and his Mom gets cut extremely short to make way for exposition that leads to the next major plot point. I feel like other scenes that dragged on a little too long, like Manta tinkering with Atlantean tech, could have been trimmed to make more time for scenes like this. It’s not a huge thing, but emotional scenes should always be given time to breathe against scenes that are window dressing, or just there for the sake of being cool.
Lastly, a lot of the jokes that I think were intended to make the movie feel more “marvel-esque” were either mistimed or just fell flat to me, and there were several points in the movie where the CGI—however stylish it was intended to be—just looks a little too plastic and fake, particularly during some of the action sequences.


However, with all of that said, there are a lot of positives about this movie that I did like, starting with the visuals. I’ve made no secret in the past of my dislike for films that needlessly desaturate the color from the picture to make things feel more “dark and edgy”. Color is a wonderful thing when you consider how much richer and more interesting it can make an image that would otherwise seem rather mundane. Other movies from the DC franchise have had an issue with colors in the past to an almost absurd degree. Happily though, Aquaman does not have a problem with color. In fact, it’s one of the most colorful films I’ve seen in awhile particularly during the underwater scenes which take up a lot of the movie. The glowing phosphorescence and wide variety of shades involved helps to make for some truly beautiful images. It also helps the various undersea environments feel like a truly alien environment, which is another strength of this film. It takes advantage of the natural strangeness and mystery of the oceans to make Atlantis feel like an actual underwater city with history. It has different levels with shell based high-rises, a customs and import system, catacombs and ruins beneath it that all combine to feel like an actual underwater city.

This would probably be enough if Atlantis was all we got to see. The filmmakers however, went one step beyond and made several different undersea kingdoms with their own inhabitants and cultures. None of them are as multi-layered or detailed as Atlantis itself, but it shows how much thought the creators put into making this world and that’s something I can appreciate.

Besides this the story is delightfully simple and easy to follow, yet it also has a good familial conflict that makes it a bit more personal. I know this might seem boring and unoriginal to some but there’s a reason that siblings fighting over power, one to preserve, the other to destroy, is such a regularly used trope dating back to ancient times. Because it works and works well. We’ve all had fights with our family. Those fights are often very emotional and very personal and in spite of what Hollywood would like us to believe, our families are not something we can simply choose to ignore. They are a very personal thing for each of us no matter how we feel about them. That’s why stories about them are so powerful for us. Aquaman may not use it as well as some other movies I’ve seen but it’s still done well so I have to applaud the effort if not the result.

Lastly, we have the action which takes advantage of the underwater environment to create some of the more unique looking set pieces that I’ve seen in a movie in quite awhile. Since the characters are buoyant and don’t often walk on the sea floor the battles are very—for lack of a better word—fluid; constantly in motion. Now, if this was lazy motion where the speed was always the same, it would probably get boring. But the movie varies the speed of combat enough to not get stagnant and in the one on one fights Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson are physical enough actors to be convincing. Overall, the battle sequences are a lot of fun to watch.


CONCLUSION: By this point most people know that the DC movies (or the DCEU as they’re known by fans have not had the best track record for making quality films. In fact, one of my personal least favorite films of all time was 2016’s Batman v Superman, which was a commercial success but a critical flop. I’ve always supported the idea that blockbusters shouldn’t be critically condemned for being blockbusters but that they should also try to be more than just cash grabs for the studios. Whether that’s being a deeper more critically acceptable film, or one that is just plain fun to watch, it should at least try. Aquaman is a film that tries. It may not always succeed when it tries but at least it tries and tries hard. That is one of the best compliments I can give to a film like this, especially given my history with DC movies of the past. I can’t say whether this is the beginning of a new era of DC films with higher quality. But I know that this was a film I was prepared not to like, yet I enjoyed it anyway and look forward to seeing it again sometime.

What did you think of the review? Did you like this film? What parts of it stuck out to you? Let me know all about it on the Flickmuncher Facebook page or in the comments below. Thanks and as always, May the Flick be with You!

The Kid who would be King Review: “Kidz Rule…at the kids table”

Hi Everybody! Welcome to another review from where we entertain food for thought. I promised I’d start getting these out more regularly and I am still planning on beginning a retrospective review of TV shows starting in March with the pilot episode of Ducktales (2017). Until then, here’s my review for a film that just premiered in the US, The Kid who would be King.


So what’s the story? Alexander Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is a twelve-year-old British schoolboy with a love of stories and mythology. And since Hollywood loves badly doing already overdone clichés, Alex and his equally nerdy friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) are constantly bullied at school, primarily by classmates Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kay (Rhianna Doris). However, while being chased home by the two bullies one night Alex wanders into an old construction site and discovers a sword sticking out of a cement block. To his amazement Alex discovers that he is able to draw the sword from the stone and believes that it is the mythical blade Excalibur. This coincides with arrival of a strange student calling himself “Mertin” (Patrick Stewart and Angus Imrie) who reveals that Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson from Mission Impossible), the ancient foe of King Arthur, is returning and while bring destruction and enslavement to all of England. Alexander must gather allies and enemies alike to go on a quest that will bring about the evil witch’s end once and for all. Will he succeed? And yes, that is a rhetorical question.


Sssooo, let’s start with the good parts. In show-business it’s a well-known fact that working with child actors is significantly more difficult than dealing with adults. They are much more limited in their understanding of their own expressions and emotions and so have less control over those expressions.

Why am I putting this in with the good bits? Well because, for the most part at least, the young cast does a surprisingly good job with the material they’re given. The actor who plays Alex, Louis Ashbourne Serkis (son of famous mo-cap actor Andy Serkis), in particular has to deal with carrying the lion’s share of emotions on his shoulders. And he does a laudable job of it throughout the film.

Also, the presence of Patrick Stewart as Merlin is wonderful. He lends an authenticity and a gravitas to the film whenever he appears, which isn’t often enough.

Another thing I liked about this movie was the attention to detail when it came to the mythology of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It would have been easy enough for the filmmakers to just reference the basic elements of the mythology and the audience wouldn’t have questioned it. But they go beyond that and discuss locations across Britain that—whether or not they are actually part of the myths—made me feel good that the writers cared enough to add them. I suppose it’s partially due to how British the whole thing feels and it is a little thing next to others I’ll talk about later but details like that only add to a film’s tone and atmosphere. It shows the filmmakers were going the extra mile and I respect them for that.

With all of that said, this movie has some severe problems going on with it.

I credited the movie’s child actors with how good of a job they did. The same sadly, cannot be said for the adults. Patrick Stewart is a shining jewel amidst a pile of burning hammyness and disinterest. This is a shame because Rebecca Ferguson is a genuinely good actor. I’ve enjoyed her work in the Mission Impossible films and in a little known work called the Red Tent so it’s rather disappointing to me to see how bored and phoned-in her performance is here.

The one time she seems genuinely interested is in a scene when Old Merlin (Patrick Stewart) confronts Morgana. The scene itself isn’t that well written but the two actors in it succeeded in drawing me in more than I had been for most of the movie up to that point. It’s a testament to how good acting can take cheesy lines that no one could say and makes us take it seriously.

Unfortunately, that brings me to Angus Imgrie who plays Young Merlin. I cannot sufficiently put into words how much I hated this character. I have nothing against Imgrie. I’m sure he’s a fine person and a perfectly decent actor, and I don’t begrudge him having to play a younger version of a character also being played by Patrick Stewart. But his whole performance in this movie just felt wrong. Wrong in tone, wrong in delivery, wrong in character. Merlin is supposed to be a wise sage who guides the heroes on their quest and teaches them to become better people. But Imgrie plays him like an eccentric, goofy, half-written Harry Potter character. He is hamming it up so badly here that it becomes incredibly annoying.

And this wouldn’t be so bad if that was how the character was intended by the writers, but because Patrick Stewart plays it like the wise-old sage, it makes Imgrie’s version feel like an entirely different character from an entirely different movie.

Which leads me to the last and arguably biggest problem with this movie: its identity. British pop-culture, as far as entertainment goes, has lived in the shadow of two giants: Harry Potter and Doctor Who. What do both those things have in common? Well, they are both, in a word…quirky. They both have characters that do odd things in odd ways for odd reasons, and it feels like everything that British entertainment has produced since then has looked to cash in on those traits whether it makes sense or not.

I think this movie suffers a lot from standing in those shadows. It tries to add elements from those franchises into a story where they don’t fit. The story of King Arthur may be a fairy tail but it’s a very serious one that involved bloodshed, death, adultery, and betrayal. Obviously those things wouldn’t work very well for a movie with a PG rating—though how it managed that I’ll never understand. The Skeleton Knights alone should have bumped it up to PG-13—but the story doesn’t make one think of the word “quirky” or “whimsy” when describing it. So the resulting movie feels very confused and at odds with itself, leaving the audience (the adults anyway) equally uncertain how to feel about it.



CONCLUSION: Most of us have memories from when we were kids when we’d play dress up and pretend to be fearless knights facing down cardboard dragons or lovely princesses ruling benevolently over a land of Barbie dolls. We’d conjure stories where we the kids were the heroes and grown-ups didn’t exist except to reward us for how amazing we were.

That is this movie in a nutshell. And I’m sure kids will love it. Heck, the theater I went to see this in was packed with kids and they all loved it. So if you just want something to keep your kids attention for a couple hours, this is perfectly serviceable.

However. If you’re looking for something more meaningful either for yourself, or for your child to watch, I cannot really recommend this. When the idea of King Arthur and his Knights is mentioned, I think of epic battles and struggles against great evil that affects everyone in our heroes’ world, in addition to the heroes themselves. So why does this movie feel so small? Why does it feel at the end, like nothing really changed beyond our heroes learning a lesson about honor and friendship? Shouldn’t the change at the end be greater?

Questions like these are what separate films meant to keep kids quiet for two hours from movies that stick with them when they’re adults.


What movies do you remember best as a kid? And what did you think of the review? Did you agree or disagree with my analysis? What parts of the movie stuck out to you? Let me know all about it on the Flickmuncher Facebook page or in the comments below. Thanks and as always, May the Flick be with You!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: “Yo-ho, Yo-ho. A pirates life for me!”

Hey Everybody! Welcome to another review from Sorry it’s been so long since my last review. Between work and the madness of the holidays there hasn’t been a whole lot of time for me to get these reviews out. However, I am excited for the next few upcoming months as I will be doing a series of retrospectives on some of my favorite movies and episodes of anime and TV shows so I hope you’ll tune in for those when they come out.

Today we’ll be taking a look back at a movie from the early 2000s in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. It’s rather strange for me to review a movie that I saw as a kid as a “Golden Oldy”. Kind of reminds me how old I am now I guess. But here’s a bit of backstory on this movie: The year is 2003. Hollywood has just started to recover from the dark reign of disaster epics like Independence Day, Deep Impact, and Twister. Movies are starting to feel fun again with the appearance of fantasy epics like the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter franchises, and are starting to see hopeful characters in the form of Spiderman and the X-Men movies.
It is a time when ideas that Hollywood execs would have laughed out of the building on principle five years before are becoming the golden children of the cinema. Yet despite that, the idea that inspired this movie was so corny that even I would have had doubts about allowing it to be made. I mean really, a movie about pirates based off of an amusement park ride? Are you serious? To make matters worse, the pirate genre as a whole had not performed well up to that point. The most recent wide releases of the genre—1999s Treasure Island by Peter Rowe and Disney’s Treasure Planet, also 1999—did not perform well at the box office and the last one that did decently was 1996s Muppet Treasure Island (hardly a serious pirate movie). So it was generally assumed that this Disney movie based on a (rather boring if we’re being honest) amusement park ride, would be a flop just like all the others.

Yet somehow, amid all the naysaying, it managed to become the fourth highest grossing movie of the year in a year that included blockbusters like Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Finding Nemo. And its success wasn’t just commercial but critical as well. Johnny Depp even received an Oscar nomination for his iconic performance as Captain Jack Sparrow.  How was this possible? Had popular culture just lost their collective minds to temporary insanity or was this film truly that good? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.

So what’s the plot? Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is a drunken wandering buccaneer who winds up in the coastal settlement of Port Royal while looking for his ship. In the process of searching for a vessel to stea- er…commandeer, he ends up saving the lovely daughter of Port Royal’s governor, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly), from drowning. Unfortunately, the locals don’t take kindly to pirates wandering around their town and in spite of his good deed Jack is arrested and sentenced to hang. Fortunately for him, the town is attacked shortly thereafter by a group of much less friendly marauders from the mythical and eponymous Black Pearl. The pirates, led by the savvy Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), kidnap Elizabeth who is in possession of a gold piece that seems to be particularly valuable to them. Jack pursues the seafaring raiders with the aid of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), a childhood friend of Elizabeth’s, leading them across the sea in an adventure with swords, guns, and an undead curse for good measure.

There’s a common misconception in Hollywood and among storytellers in general, that if you make a story more complicated then it magically becomes a better story because they think they’re adding complexity. But the reality is that complicated and complex stories are two different things.  Imagine if you were packing up a box with ping pong balls until you completely covered the bottom of the box. But rather than fill up the entire box, you went to get another box and only filled the bottom of that box as well. That’s making things more complicated.

Curse of the Black Pearl is an example of the opposite case. It takes a relatively simple premise—cursed pirates wish to lift said curse—and takes full advantage of it by giving the different characters personality and conflicting motives. Jack’s desire to reclaim the Black Pearl at any costs butts up against Will’s simple desire to rescue Elizabeth and return home and Barbossa’s desire to be rid of the curse that has plagued him for ten years. Any competent storyteller will tell you that the core of drama is conflict. The more conflict there is between the characters, the more drama is derived. Of course, as is the case with later entries in the Pirates franchise, this principle can be used too much or used poorly. However, Black Pearl succeeds at hitting the right balance of drama between the characters and their personalities that made us all fall in love with the franchise when it first appeared.

And speaking of characters, this movie revels in creating fun characters with great personality. Some of them can be pretty rote—such as Will and an annoyingly stern Commodore Norrington (Jack Davenport)—but their dryness is more than made up for by the other pirates. Standouts include Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally) the classic yarn-spinning seafarer, and Pintel and Ragetti (Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook respectively) a sort of pirate version of Laurel and Hardy. The other pirates don’t get as much screen-time but are equally memorable if only by virtue of their designs.

The real jewels of this cast though are obviously Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow and Geoffrey Rush’s turn as Barbossa. Seriously, these characters are so well written and acted that they own every scene they’re in. Much has been written and said about Jack Sparrow and Johnny Depp’s rather unique take on the typical pirate Captain, and there’s little I think I can add to that conversation so I won’t belabor the point. However, if a hero is only as good as his villain then Jack Sparrow was well served to have Barbossa as his antagonist. I’m personally of the opinion that Geoffrey Rush is one of the most underrated actors of his generation and Barbossa is a major reason why. He helps turn what could have been a rather cartoonish bad-guy (cough Lone Ranger cough) into a menacing, unyielding, yet strangely sympathetic villain who wants to feel the joys of life again. Also, he manages to say the classic pirate “Aaaarrrgghh” line and have neither himself nor the audience crack up at it. That takes some good acting to pull off.

Beyond this though, the movie is possessing of some really fun action, with swashbuckling sword fights that are very well choreographed and a ship to ship battle the scale of which is reminiscent of pirate films of yesteryear like Seahawk and Captain Blood. I especially love the attention to detail during these scenes. For instance, if you’re paying attention, you can see the trails of musket shot and cannon balls rocketing over the characters heads. Details like this help lend the entire film an atmosphere of excitement and thrills that is hard to find in movies today.

That said it’s not a perfect movie. For one thing, the character of Commodore Norrington isn’t interesting in the slightest. Granted it’d be tough for him to measure up against the likes of Jack and Barbossa but as a secondary antagonist he falls prey to severe blandness until the last five minutes and is a pretty stereotypical British (rolling the “r” there) Colonial type that Hollywood loves to portray as having zero emotions because he’s so “civil”. That kind of portrayal being a personal pet peeve of mine I didn’t care for him at all despite the potential he had to be an interesting character in his own right. He would get more interesting as a character in later movies but as far as this one is concerned he just fell flat.

A similar situation could be said for Will Turner, who definitely has a more interesting character arc through the movie but also starts out rather boring, and ultimately makes some really stupid decisions for the sake of advancing the plot, which Jack even points out as being stupid decisions at various points in the film. And just to be clear, when a film admits that something about itself is stupid or incompetent does not make it any less stupid or incompetent. Admitting it means the filmmakers knew it was stupid or incompetent and did it anyway! I don’t hold that against this film but it is an observation of films in general these days that I have no doubt I’ll be discussing again at some point.

Besides that I will admit that while the action sequences are still a ton of fun to watch, the CGI for Black Pearl has not aged well. With the technology we see in movies today, it’s hard not to look at this and see the proverbial strings. Still it was made at a time when the technology we see today was still evolving and to its credit the skeleton pirates in Black Pearl were probably instrumental as a stepping stone to such spectacles as Avatar and the Transformers movies. But it still looks like something you’d see in a PS2 video game cutscene at certain points.


Conclusion: I first watched this movie when I was about twelve years old and at the time my two favorite movies were Hook and The Lord of the Rings so I was the perfect audience for this film. When the end credits came on and the amazing theme song (an impossibly underrated score in my opinion) started playing, the first thing I wanted to do was run outside to the playset in the backyard and duel with my brother on the imaginary spars of a Spanish Galleon, I was so excited.

Fast forward fifteen years and watching it again with the cynicism of adulthood, I definitely see more flaws but the movie that gave me that sense of adventure and excitement is still there and in some ways I enjoy it more now that I am older. And that’s what great adventure movies are supposed to do. They carry you away on that adventure to a place and time where, for a little while at least, your own day-to-day problems don’t matter so much. At one point Jack says that what the Black Pearl means to him is freedom. Freedom to see what lies beyond the horizon that always seems to taunt us with our own curiosity.

For that, I’ll happily board the Black Pearl any day.


So, what did you think of the review? Did you agree or disagree with my analysis? What parts stuck out to you? Let me know all about it on Facebook or in the comments below. Thanks and as always, May the Flick be with You!

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: “Say goodbye…to Jurassic Park”


Hey Everybody! Flickmuncher here. Wow, it’s been a long time since my last review (well over a year now) and a lot has happened.  Justice League bombed, the Avengers died, the Patriots lost a superbowl to a team not called the NY Giants, we’ve had two Star Wars movies; all sorts of things. But now that its summer 2018 and things seem to have (finally) calmed down—relatively speaking—I thought it was high time I provided you all with another article from the Flickmuncher. And hoooo booooy, do we have a fun one to look at today. So without further ado, I give you Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

So, what’s this movie about, you might ask—assuming you weren’t one of the three gajillion people who went to see it on its opening weekend. Well, three years after the events of Jurassic World, Isla Nubla, home of Jurassic Park has been quarantined by humanity and is now home to a volcano that’s about to erupt. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) are called in by a mysterious figure named Benjamin Lockwood who helped create the original park thirty years ago, and are tasked by him and his manager Eli Mills (Rafe Spalls) to recover as many dinosaurs as they can before the volcano explodes and wipes them all out. What Owen and Claire don’t know though, is that Lockwood is hiding a dark secret that could change life on Earth for good.

I’m going to get this right out of the way; this movie is not good. It’s really not good at all. It is without a doubt one of the stupidest movies I have seen in a long time and I recently watched a movie where people in colorful costumes were trying to stop a purple guy with six chins from putting all the buttons back on his Powerglove—by the way, props to anyone who knows what that is, and googling it doesn’t count. Anyway, the funny thing about Fallen Kingdom’s stupidity is that there are so many levels of stupid going on in the film. Granted, the Jurassic Park movies have always been subject to that but the fact that this movie remains so blissfully oblivious to its own stupidity actually makes it rather fascinating to watch. But what do I mean by that? Well, as always let’s start with the pros.

First, the music is wonderful to listen to. Michael Giacchino, who did music for such movies as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, and The Incredibles, wrote the score for this movie. John Williams’ Jurassic Park theme is certainly iconic but there’s a feeling of grandeur that Giacchino manages to capture in several parts that definitely had the same touch that the classic theme did.

Also, the acting by Chris Pratt and Isabella Sermon, who plays Benjamin Lockwood’s granddaughter Maisie, is pretty good. Pratt is his usual charming-action-hero self that he’s come to be known for since Guardians of the Galaxy but this is a special compliment to Sermon as acting for kids is not as easy as for adults, since they often haven’t figured out all the subtleties of expression with both body language and speech. So kudos to her for managing that.

Third, the first third of the movie where the volcano erupts is as much a spectacle as the trailers would suggest, becoming very reminiscent of disaster movies from the 1990s like Dante’s Peak.

Then we have the cinematography and shot composition, which are also rather well done. For those of you who might be wondering why this is important enough to note, cinematography is what allows you to understand what is going in the movie; what is important in the shot and what the filmmaker is trying to communicate.

To give an example of bad cinematography, just look at most videos taken by someone on their smartphone while on a boating trip. They show what’s happening on the boat, the scenery around the boat, maybe even record part of a conversation. But there isn’t any focus on one person or object, it all appears seemingly at random, and we don’t feel anything as a result. And that’s fine since most videos like that are just for the person recording it and doesn’t need any context added. However, with a feature film, which is trying to tell a coherent narrative, if it looked like that boating video, none of us would be able to tell what’s happening and we’d lose interest. Even “found footage” movies like The Blair Witch Project, which are supposed to be like that boating video, always have a single subject that each shot focuses on so that the audience understands what is happening. A film that has poor cinematography will always have trouble connecting to its audience. And fortunately, that is not one of Jurassic World 2’s problems.

On that note, here are the problems that it does have.

Since the pros started with Michael Giacchino’s score it seems only fitting that the cons should too. I know, I know. I just praised the score for how good it was. However, as good as any score is, it has to be used in the right places in order to be the most effective. In this case, the music has its grand moments with the chorus all over the film, including times when the movie wants us to feel scared. That’s not to say a chorus should never be used in scary scenes; far from it. But when everything in the scene visually implies tense silence, having a chorus shouting loudly in the background is really distracting.  That’s not on the composer either. While he chooses how the music sounds it’s the director who tells him what the tone of the music should be for a particular scene.

This brings me to the next problem: poor dialogue and directing. Directing a movie is an interesting job because the director is responsible for deciding what the movie is going to be about and how that will be communicated to the audience in a clear way. The director of this movie, J. A. Bayona, has done several dramatic and horror-themed movies in the past so you would think a movie about dinosaurs running amok and eating people would be right up his alley. But strangely, there isn’t a definite tone that the movie wants to follow. The whole theme behind the Jurassic Park franchise has been the notion of man tampering with nature and creating destructive monsters that kill people. The lesson being that man shouldn’t tamper with nature…obviously. But Bayona can’t seem to decide if he wants us (the audience) to be afraid of the dinosaurs—again, monsters created by science—or sympathize with them. It’s a weird imbalance that makes the writing and decisions of the characters that much more baffling. Things aren’t helped by the fact that Bayona keeps telegraphing all his moves even in the scenes that are supposed to be the most intense and frightening. He’s like that little kid who pulls off a magic trick at school and is so proud of himself that he has to brag about how he did it.

Then we have the biggest problem with this film, the writing. I have always been of the mind that average to mediocre acting, directing, and technical work in a movie can still make for a great movie if the story is good—or even just okay. But great acting and directing cannot do the same for a bad script. This. This is a bad script. Not just because of how the dialogue sounds but because the characters who are saying it are just not interesting. In fact, two of the side characters are so painfully annoying that (in the middle of a crowded theater) I was verbally begging the movie to kill them off. And Claire and Owen, the two main characters, don’t fare much better. Claire has become a dinosaur-rights activist—despite the previous movie showing she had zero interest in protecting the dinosaurs and viewing them purely as company assets—and Owen has become an outdoorsman who isn’t doing anything except drinking beer and building his cabin in northern California…with a hammer. One. Hammer.

I haven’t mentioned the villains either because the villains aren’t really worth mentioning. They’re just the same military complex bad guys from the last movie. And Lost World. And just about every 90s movie you can think of that involved animals of any kind. It’s worth considering how well written your villain is when the thing people remember most about him is how he died.

But I should start wrapping this up. To give a bit of context to my thoughts, Jurassic Park is a touchstone to many who lived through the 90s as the first movie to effectively use computer graphics on such a grand scale. As such, the name derives a nostalgic feeling for many who saw it in theaters back then. However, I didn’t see the original until I was much older (probably around 15 or 16) and by then I’d already seen CGI marvels like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, so there wasn’t that same magic for me. For those who did though, I can’t help but feel that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a movie that needs them more than they need it. Yet it insists the opposite. It is so convinced that what it is saying is important yet at the end of the day, what has it said? That dinosaurs are bad? That people are bad? That some people are bad and some people are good?

The answer is that the movie doesn’t know what it wants to say, and so says nothing. It is a dumb movie, in the most literal sense. And that’s a sad thing indeed.

Final Score: Watch Jurassic Park instead!

So, what did you think of the review? Did you agree or disagree with my analysis? What parts stuck out to you? Let me know all about it on facebook or in the comments below. Thanks and as always, May the Flick be with You!

Rogue One Review: “Don’t…choke…on your aspirations.”

Hey, Everybody! Welcome to another review from and Happy May the Fourth! I know it’s been awhile since my last review but once again life has been particularly maddening lately and so I haven’t been able to get too many written out lately. However, this week I’m working on three new pieces in honor May the Fourth and of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story being released on blu-ray and dvd. This’ll be the first one, followed soon by Logan and then an editorial on Star Wars. But for now, here’s the review:


So the likelihood is that you’ve seen this movie already. And unlike a lot of my other reviews which have been right after seeing the movie in theaters, I’ve had a bit more time to form my thoughts. With that in mind, and those who haven’t seen this movie, here’s the story:

Former scientist, Galen Erso, lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter, Jyn. Their peaceful existence comes crashing down when Imperial Director Orson Krennic takes him away from his beloved family. Many years later, Galen is now the Empire’s lead engineer for the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, the Death Star. Knowing that her father holds the key to its destruction, a vengeful Jyn joins forces with a spy and a hearty band of resistance fighters to steal the plans for this horrifying space station and bring hope to the galaxy.


As always let’s start with the pros. The world shown in Rogue One is amazingly detailed and feels like a living breathing place that people actually live in and it helps bring a depth to the Galaxy Far Far Away that we haven’t seen beyond the usual cantina scene which I’ve always thought was a great weakness in the Original Trilogy, as sacrilegious as that might sound to die-hard Star Wars fans. The prequels, as maligned as they are, provided a showcase for what strange and exotic worlds the galaxy had to offer beyond the mundane desert planet, ice planet, jungle planet, etc. Rogue One does this expertly, especially in the case of a castle belonging to a certain Dark Lord of the Sith. Honestly, I’d love to see that location show up in future installments just to see more of it.

Rogue One builds on those ideas and uses them to logically and “realistically” flesh out the Star Wars galaxy in a way that we’ve never seen before and that is completely to its credit. The sets are grimy and lived in which we’ve come to expect from recent Star Wars movies but the people and aliens that are presented in those environments feel like they’re a legitimate part of the world being created rather than just a small sideshow attraction like they have in previous installments.

This helps make the Galactic Civil War and the Empire’s tyranny feel more present in the conflict because we see the effect that tyranny is having on ordinary people and how it’s making them harsher and more cynical even as they try to overthrow that tyranny. It also emphasizes how desperate the situation is for the rebellion before A New Hope occurs.

The movie also presents some interesting character returns in the form of Mon Mothma, overall leader of the rebellion, and Bail Organa, Princess Leia’s adopted father, played by Jimmy Smits who also played Bail in the prequels.

And lastly, I have to give props to this movie for its action. We haven’t seen action this good looking in a Star Wars movie in a long time and the sheer spectacle of the battles, both on the ground and in space is jaw dropping. One moment in particular that stands out is when the rebels literally push one Star Destroyer into another. The battles also showcase the might of the Empire by showing not just the Star Destroyers but the veritable clouds of TIE fighters that the Rebels have to hold out against making it clear how dangerous their foe is (even if they can’t shoot straight 90 percent of the time). And yes, there is one moment that some of you may be wanting me to talk about but I’ll get to that in a minute.

So those are all the things I loved about this movie. If that’s what you wanted to hear then there you go. Let me know what you liked about the film below and have a great day. Because, brother, you’re not ‘gonna like this next bit at all.

Rogue One is an expertly made film and Director Gareth Edwards has demonstrated his ability once again to give amazing action sequences in elaborate sets and environments. Visually his films are fantastic. However…

I have noticed that Edwards tends to favor grand action and gritty environments over storytelling and character. And I’m sorry but there has to be more to a movie than just the action. If there’s not an interesting story with compelling characters then the action is pointless.

This happened with Edwards’ most recent production, 2014’s Godzilla, wherein the action with the titular monster is amazing, but it isn’t very long and much of the film deals with a human character who we never really get to know other than he’s trying to get back to his wife and son. Seeing the monsters is cool but we’re seeing it through the eyes of someone who we don’t care if he lives or dies because we don’t know him from Adam.

The same thing is true of the Transformers movies and the recent Batman vs. Superman. Rogue One is certainly better in most respects than those movies-it actually has a story and one or two memorable characters-but it still falls prey to the same pitfalls. The main characters who we’re supposed to be rooting for are either bland or unlikable and it sabotages the film’s efforts to make us care about their struggles.

Ask yourself this, who is Jyn Erso? Who is Cassian? Who are Baze and Chirrut? If you’re wondering who I’m talking about let me rephrase, ahem: Who is the leader girl? The tall leader guy? The guy with the staff and the guy with the big guns? Who were they?

Do you see what I’m talking about? We remember good characters because of who they are as people, NOT because of what weapon they carry or what role they fill. Luke Skywalker is an optimistic young farm-boy who dreams of greater things. Han Solo is the mercenary smuggler with a heart of gold. Princess Leia is an idealistic warrior-princess who desires freedom for her people. Granted these are characters that we as the audience know so well because of their longevity but they had longevity for a reason.

The characters of Rogue One don’t have the personality that they need in order to make us care about them, and (in case you’re wondering) I’m not talking about backstory. Backstory doesn’t give a character personality; it gives a backdrop for them to display their personality because of how they react to it. The closest this movie comes is K-2SO and that’s largely because he’s played by Alan Tudyk, a national treasure. Also, he’s what C-3PO would be like if he actually, you know, had a spine.

This brings me to another problem with this movie…its way too fan-servicey. This movie is billed as being “A Star Wars Story”, meaning that it’s supposed to be its own thing separate from the Skywalker Saga films. The problem is that this movie couldn’t exist without the Saga films and does everything it can to remind you that it takes place right before the events of the original Star Wars.

Do you remember the Death Star? Well we’re gonna take every chance to show it to you even if it makes no sense in the context of the original.

Do you remember Red Leader and those guys from the Cantina who beat up Luke? Well, it turns out they bumped into the Rogue crew the day before.

Hey, what about Tarkin and Princess Leia? They were in Star Wars weren’t they?

Here they are in all their CGI uncanny valley glory!

To be clear, I’m not against fan-service. It’s a great way to engage the audience, especially those who have followed a franchise for a long time. But it HAS TO BE…SUBTLE! If the audience is beaten over the head with fan-service then the hardcore fans start to wonder why they’re being so obvious and pandering, and people who aren’t hardcore fans won’t care!

The most egregious instance of this is the moment toward the end of the movie, when Darth Vader invades a Rebel cruiser, igniting his crimson saber, slicing down Rebels left and right as seen here:

Yes, I’m sure you remember it. Many hold it up as the epitome of Star Wars awesomeness and…they’re right. It is amazingly awesome to see Darth Vader in his prime, the force of destruction (no pun intended) that we as kids always imagined him to be, but were never able to see just because the technology of the time didn’t allow for it. It’s a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed. Here’s my problem though, what did Vader accomplish?

He enters the Rebel cruiser, kills all kinds of rebel foot-soldiers (and looks awesome doing it) but they still get away with the plans even though he could probably use the Force to easily grab the disk away. They get the disk to Princess Leia who escapes with it, leaving Vader to watch and shake his metaphorical fist as her ship escapes.

Fanboy Side-note: Since Princess Leia’s ship was at the scene where the plans were stolen and Vader watched her leave, why did she even bother claiming she was on a diplomatic mission? That’s like watching your friends rob a bank, them putting the cash in your trunk, you making a getaway, and then claiming you were late for a dentist appointment. Who in their right mind would believe that?

But do you see what I’m getting at? As awesome as Vader is in his fight sequence, he doesn’t change anything in the story and so his fight sequence is completely pointless, especially since all the Rebels he kills are a bunch of no-name red shirts. Wouldn’t it have been so much better to have Vader be on the beach during the finale with our heroes, or them on the Rebel cruiser desperately trying hold him off long enough to give the plans to Leia, knowing that he’s going to kill them all? How much more powerful would that have been?

Yet they held back and reserved Vader for a moment that was just to show how awesome he is. It almost feels like the filmmakers were so afraid to overuse him that they overcompensated, and deprived us of something much better than what we actually got.




Whew, glad I got that rant off of my chest. Rogue One is not a bad movie. Far from it, it’s probably one of the better made movies of 2016. From a technical filmmaking perspective it’s magnificent to look at and really captures both the grittiness and majesty of a world where space wizards wield laser swords and spaceships can fly faster than light. Rogue One introduces us to a Galaxy Far Far Away that is much more gritty and realistic and the conflicts it tries to portray reflect conflicts that we can all understand and relate to. That can be a very interesting story to tell. The sad thing is that in its efforts to capture that realism, Rogue One seems to remove some of the joy and freedom that made Star Wars so beloved in the first place. In addition it does so with bland and uninteresting characters and unneeded amounts of fan service. If you like Star Wars there’s plenty to love about this movie and even if you’re not a hardcore fan you’ll probably still find things to like.

But my question is, if we love this world so much (and even if we don’t) and want to keep coming back, shouldn’t we expect more from the people who maintain it?



2/5 Movie Nights


So what did you guys think of this review? Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? What parts stuck out to you? Let me know all about it on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below. Thanks and as always, May the Flick (and the Force) be with You! Always!

Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them Review: “Look, Dad, a Deus Ex Machina!”

Hey Everybody! Welcome back to another article from It’s been quite awhile since my last review. My schedule has been really heavily booked so I haven’t been able to see many of the movies that have come and gone since then. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up my schedule going forward but I may not get a lot of consistency until April. That said, I will do my best to get articles out on a more regular basis. With that out of the way, let’s jump into this review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

For those of you who are major fans of the Harry Potter universe—the books and the movies—let me preface this review by stating that my exposure to this world has been pretty minimal. I’ve only seen the movies once before, and I’ve never read the books so I went into this movie as big a Potter-newbie as one could get. So what did I think of this film?

Well, let’s start with the story. Fantastic Beasts takes place in 1927 as a young wizard named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York City with a suitcase full of magical creatures that he has collected during his journey abroad as the subject of his book, named, well, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. However, magical beasts have apparently been banned in America and when a mix-up causes some of Newt’s creatures to escape, he finds himself teaming up with a non-magical (or “Nomaj” as they’re called in the film) aspiring baker named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and local magic regulation officer, Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein, to try and track down the beasts before they endanger all of New York City. Meanwhile, the magic government in New York is dealing with a wizard terrorist named Grindelwald group that is trying to expose magic users to the outside world and incite a war between magic and non-magic people, possibly using a Fantastic Beast to do so.

With that story in mind, what did I like about the film? Well, for starters, I really liked Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski. As the only major non-magical character in the film, he brought a heart and relatability to the movie that carried it through some of the more dramatic moments as he saw some of the more bizarre and strange things that J.K. Rowling’s magical world provided. Also, there was a scene with him toward the end of the film that was truly heart-rending to me after seeing everything he had gone through.

Besides Fogler’s performance this movie did a good job of portraying the little details and nuances of this world that it was trying to create, though the politics of said world remain a bit unclear to me. Setting it in the 1920s was also a nice touch as it helps to set the movie apart aesthetically from other movies of a similar character. I’m always a sucker for that era anyway.

Also, the notion of Newt’s suitcase being a Doctor Who-style bigger-on-the-inside menagerie was a fun concept to play with as well and getting to explore that menagerie was as fascinating to witness as you would imagine it would be. The creatures are imaginative and the way they are described legitimately made me want to learn more about them.

So those are the more significant positive points that stood out to me. Hope you enjoyed them because here’s where my Flickmuncher personality comes out and things get much rougher for this movie.

 First, the plot. (Please be aware this section will involve some spoilers) I already gave as quick an overview as I could in my story summary above but even that was a bit of a challenge because this movie seems to be trying to tell two stories that are almost completely unrelated to each other. On the one hand you have Newt and Company’s work to corral the escaped fantastical creatures without endangering the local populace, and on the other you have this shadowy bureaucratic wizard who is searching for yet another child who was prophesied to have great power and could be dangerous to wizards and humans alike. Sidenote: who is coming up with these prophesies? They seriously need to get some lessons on originality.

Anyway, my problem is not that the movie has two stories going on. Plenty of great movies have secondary stories (or subplots as their known in the writing world) but Fantastic Beasts doesn’t seem like it can decide which one takes priority or how they’re even connected and so they end up distracting from each other.

It’s like a child trying to cram two colors of playdough through a hole at the same time, one green, one red. The playdough’ll get through the hole—eventually—but it’ll be neither red nor green. That’s what this movie’s story is like. It has two separate stories that would have been fine individually, but just don’t make a good mix and that falls on the writing. I understand that J.K. Rowling wrote this movie’s screenplay and I know she is considered a master writer by most people but if she gets praised for the good pieces of her work then she’s also responsible for the bad. Also, there’s a “twist” at the end with Colin Farrell’s bad guy that left me scratching my head wondering, “What in the world was that?”

            Of course, a poor story can be forgiven if the characters are interesting and enjoyable and up above I did praise the movie’s portrayal of Jacob Kowalski as one of its significant strong points due to his down-to-earth likeability as a guy whose just trying to open up a bakery. However, none of the other characters matched that level of interest for me and the biggest offender by far, is Newt Scamander. Which is a shame, because the concept for him—a zookeeper wizard who collects rare creatures—is actually very interesting and fraught with possibilities. But the movie never really goes anywhere with those concepts. We know that he fought in the magical version of World War I, and he had a lady love that he broke up with but neither of those things are explored to any depth either, nor do we find out WHY Newt does what he does other than that he wants to protect magical creatures from humans. WHY does he want to protect them? Does he relate more to the animals than his own kind? What made him this way? Was it the war? A traumatic childhood experience? What?

            Compounding this problem is Eddie Redmayne’s casting as Newt which I have to reference because I thought this was a terrible performance. I know that Redmayne won an Oscar last year for The Theory of Everything but he also won a Razzie award that same year for a role in Jupiter Ascending and a lot of that latter movie is on display in his performance here. He plays things so understated, nervous, and mumbling that it’s hard to hear what he’s saying at times. Plus something I noticed towards the end is that he keeps the same neutral quasi-sad expression throughout the entire movie. He only smiles twice, and he never gives an expression denoting fear, anger or any other significant emotion and, I’m sorry, if he want’s me as an audience member to buy that he’s an actual person and not some cardboard protagonist cutout, then he’s got to have the emotions of an actual person.

            Now, the stories and characters of movies might not matter that much to you, so what about the cool visuals. Well, some of the visuals are cool as I mentioned above but they’re smattered throughout a movie that has a very drab, grey color palette and is overall uninteresting to look at—which I could understand if they were trying to visually distinguish the magic world from the real world—but there’s little to no difference between them which just makes what’s happening on screen feel boring and that’s something you should never feel in a fantasy movie like this.

            Finally, the crowning jewel of this tirade is one of my personal pet peeves as a writer and a movie fan. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Status Quo! For those unfamiliar with the term, Status Quo refers to the need for the world to return to the state it was in when the story began, no matter what happened during the story or who was affected by it. In this case, the Wizarding World is secret at the beginning of the movie but outed by the end of the climax, setting up an interesting new world in which Wizards and non-Wizards (and no I will not call them Nomaj’s or Muggles) have to figure out how to coexist together. Sounds fun, right?

Well, instead of that interesting option the writers (cough) J.K. Rowling (cough) choose to just wipe everyone’s memories that the whole thing ever happened and returns the world completely back to the Status Quo, at least until the four sequels that Warner Bros. has planned out for Fantastic Beasts.  Which leads me to ask, is this going to happen after each sequel? Even if it doesn’t, if the writers don’t care about what happened in their movie, why should they expect us to?

Conclusion: Whoo. Well…, now that I’ve gotten the Flickmuncher out of my system and simultaneously ticked off probably every Harry Potter fan who is reading this post, let me say that in spite of all its faults, I don’t hate this film. It may sound like I do but that’s mostly because I see so many places it could have gone but didn’t. I’m not a Potter fan and I will probably never be one but I love movies and I love the places that they can take you. I want to see more inspired visuals, more interesting characters, more important stories. These are what make movies, movies. Which is why it’s so disappointing to me when I see movies that “play it safe” and refuse to take risks and do new things. For those of you who love the books, I understand wanting to see a faithful adaptation of that book you love. But you already have that story in your mind. Don’t imprison a film within its source material. Let it try to be its own thing. And you know what? It might not give you what you wanted, but it might also give you what you didn’t know you wanted. And I look forward to the movie that does that.

Final Score: Rainy Day Rental

So, assuming you don’t plan to kill me for writing this, what did you think of the review? Did you agree or disagree with my analysis? What parts stuck out to you? Let me know all about it on facebook or in the comments below. Thanks and as always, May the Flick be with You!

Star Trek Beyond: “Is that classical music?”

Rating: “Go see it. Now!”


Hey, Everybody! Welcome to another review from Flickmuncher. Today we’re going to be reviewing the newest entry to a franchise that has shaped American culture in a myriad of ways since it was first aired on television 50 long years ago. This is going to be so much fun! So without further ado, let’s dig into Star Trek Beyond.

So to start off, let me give some context to this film for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Star Trek franchise, and to all you Trekkies out there, yes, they do exist. Starting off in 1966 as a tv series about a crew of space explorers and their trusty ship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, the series was a decent hit but not enough to earn it more than three seasons. However, though the series was cancelled in 1969 it soon found cult status due to regular reruns in the 70s and sci-fi conferences across the country saw its uniforms and characters as mainstays soon after. The series popularity eventually saw the spawning of five new series (including the underrated animated series) and twelve feature-films that have brought joy to thousands of fans. Needless to say, that’s a pretty successful run.

However, with the franchise approaching its 50th anniversary a lot of people were wondering what the folks at Paramount were going to do to celebrate this occasion which brings us to the movie we are here to talk about, Star Trek Beyond.

There were a lot of questions hanging over this production as it began. Not only was the 50th anniversary coming up but the franchise was also coming off a bit of a sour note with the fans in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Matters weren’t helped when J.J. Abrams, the director who reinvigorated the franchise by rebooting it in 2009, decided not to return, instead opting to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fans instantly started wondering who was going to take over the director’s chair. The anxiety only increased when it was announced that Justin Lin, director of several Fast and the Furious movies. People wondered whether a director who had done so much in action movies could do justice to a Star Trek movie.

The story is as follows: two and half years into their five year mission into deep space, the U.S.S. Enterprise and its’ crew put in at the new Yorktown Starbase for some badly needed shore leave when they recover a crewmember of a lost ship asking for help after they were attacked in a previously unexplored nebula. The Enterprise and its’ crew set out to find the crow of the lost ship but in the process run afoul of a threat to all of the Federation that lies in its own dark past. So did Lin and the film’s writers deliver a “good” Star Trek movie?

In my humble opinion…abso-tacular-lutely!! Sitting in the theater on Friday night, I was pretty sure this is the most fun I’ve had at a Star Trek movie in a long time. Does it have its weak points, of course and I’ll get to some of those but let me elaborate on some of what I liked about this film.

First, the camerawork. Justin Lin is an action director and as I mentioned before, a lot of the franchises fans—especially the more hardcore ones—were worried that an action director would work well for a “brainy” franchise like Star Trek and I can understand that. This film is very action-heavy and for some that could be a turn-off but Lin’s skill at action camerawork and creativity with his set pieces really works to the movie’s benefit. He really takes advantage of the environments and I was on the edge of my seat more than once with a stupid grin on my face. If you don’t want to see this movie because it’s not the traditional “brainy” Star Trek you’re used to, you’re really missing out on something fun.

The other thing that really carries this movie is the characters and dialogue. The way they interact with each other and with other individuals felt real to me, and what’s more it felt like how the Star Trek crew would talk. Now that can also work against it but I’ll save that for later. I especially liked the dynamic between Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) which we haven’t gotten to see a whole lot of in the more recent movies. The dialogue between them is both funny and genuine as Spock confides to McCoy that he is contemplating leaving Starfleet to help his people rebuild their society and that he is unsure of where he should belong. Karl Urban especially is a treat to watch as he plays Dr. McCoy in such a way that you know he’s McCoy but with his own personal touches thrown in.

Yet he’s not the only actor who gets a chance to shine. The entire cast is each given at least one moment in the spotlight and each of them makes the most of those opportunities. I especially enjoyed the alien newcomer, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) as a hardened survivor on the world where our motley crew of heroes find themselves stranded. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the performance of Chekov by the late Anton Yelchin. It isn’t one of the greatest performances ever put to screen but Yelchin did the role proud and it is truly unfortunate we will never get to see him as Chekov. Indeed it is unfortunate that we may not see Chekov again for quite some time.

In addition to the action, the cast, and the dialogue, one of the things that I enjoyed most of all was the assortment of environments that the film saw fit to show off. Places that looked and felt—if you pardon the pun—alien. Truly strange in how they were designed and shot. I am a huge fan of the Star Wars films—perhaps more so than any other movie series—but I’ll be the first to admit that the planets they go to are, more or less, relegated to one specific type of climate be it the desert, the forest, the jungle, the ocean. Not that this is a problem on its own but there’s very little that’s visually interesting in these environments. Star Trek Beyond takes advantage of its alien setting to put our heroes in truly interesting and bizarre places that are fun just to look at.

Now this film does have some weaknesses. First off, the film’s MacGuffin. For those who may be unaware of what exactly a “MacGuffin” is, it’s a story device that every major character in the story is after and often can provide whoever possesses it with great power. In this case the MacGuffin is an ancient weapon of immense destructive power that the villain Krall (Idris Elba) is trying to acquire to use against StarFleet and the federation.

To be honest, I’m not against using MacGuffins in film. They are a sometimes necessary part of telling a good story. However, if you’re going to have a MacGuffin then you need to have it live up to the reputation that you choose to give it in the movie. This weapon is so powerful “that the ancients who built it, couldn’t control it. So they split it into two pieces and hid those pieces.” Needless to say that’s a pretty big promise. The people who created this thing were afraid of it and hid it. This could be like a StarFleet atom-bomb’s worth of destruction if our heroes don’t stop the villain. What is he going to do with it? How much is it going to cost our beloved crew to stop him?

I won’t go into spoilers here but the grand, judgement day weapon that has been built up as a tremendous threat to the safety of the entire galaxy ends up killing (counts on hand) about two people. Yeah, in the whole film. Kind of a letdown if you ask me. Anyhow, my point is this, a MacGuffin is a promise. A promise that us as audiences expect the film to keep. Think about this, would the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark have been nearly as awe-inspiring as it was if the Ark had opened and simply done nothing? After all we had heard about it? Of course not.

Now, you could go the Maltese Falcon route and have the MacGuffin be completely worthless in the end but I personally would have preferred that Beyond hadn’t tried to go both routes at once. It makes a powerful object seem much less powerful and takes away from the story.

Then there’s Krall a villain who seems kind of cool at first. He comes across as a legitimate threat and you’re interested to see what exactly his beef is with StarFleet. Then you start to learn his backstory and I’ll be honest, I thought it was pretty weak. Idris Elba plays him with all the gravitas you would expect after seeing any of his other roles and he does his best with the material he’s given but overall, I thought Krall was a case of a great concept mixed with poor execution.

Finally, there’s the finale. To get things out in the open, my biggest problem with the finale is that I think it’s a bit too long. Not to say that it’s a terrible final act, far from it. But the truly awesome moments that had me gleefully leaning toward the screen are mostly in the first part of the finale. It’s a rip-roaring set of moments as the crew takes on a swarm of enemy ships to the beat of rock n’ roll which is a nice call-back to the first reboot film. The enemy is defeated, yay. But then it just keeps going as our heroes take on the tedious task of catching and taking down the villain like they always do.  And when they do stop him it just feels rather underwhelming.


Conclusion: So after that long winded your probably wondering how I would recommend this and my answer is that this is a hearty must-see film for theaters. If you’ve got the ability to go see it in theaters I would recommend it far above many of the other blockbusters that have been gracing theaters this summer. It is well worth the money to see it on the big-screen. Is it perfect? No. But as any of you who’ve read my previous reviews well know, I’m a firm advocate of the notion that there is no perfect movie. It has flaws but this movie entertained and intrigued me from start to finish and that is one of the highest compliments I can pay to a movie.


What did you think about this movie? Did you like it? No? What stood out to you? I’d love to hear more so let me know in the comments section and check out some of my other reviews and editorials at Until next time, have a great week and May the Flick be with You!!  

Ghostbusters (2016) Review: Who were we gonna call?

Rating: What was that movie, again?


Hey, Everybody! Welcome to another review from I realize it’s been awhile since my last review. I was in the middle of a move and so finding time to put out new posts was tough. However, now that I’m properly settled I should be able to find more time to write reviews on the newest movies coming out as we head into the height of the summer movie season. So, without further ado, let’s dig into the newest release from Sony’s Columbia Pictures, Ghostbusters.

Nostalgia is an interesting thing. The dictionary defines it as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” In essence it is a desire to relive the past.

This seems to have developed a special meaning for today’s internet driven society where people are constantly bombarded with information about how supposedly bad things are in our day and age. So they look for comfort in things that remind them of a “better, simpler time.” The irony is that while many people desire nostalgia, they also want to see something different and new and the clash of these two sensibilities can have odd, sometimes explosive results. Enter, Ghostbusters ’16.

Now, if you’ll indulge me in a bit of backstory, this film was conceived as a reboot of the original Ghostbusters which started in 1984. That film was a runaway success, spawning a sequel, video games, and even two animated tv shows. The premise was simple. Four scientists went about investigating paranormal activity and capturing ghosts that were giving people problems. The characters were fun; the adventures were corny but memorable and people latched onto both immediately. Even though Ghostbusters 2 was largely panned by critics the franchise continued on up until the end of the 1990s. However, while talks went off and on in regards to doing another sequel the franchise faded from the public consciousness.

Then in 2014 Sony announced their plans to do a new Ghostbusters movie and people went nuts over it. So many fans of the franchise had incredibly high hopes for a return to the glories of 1984. Then they learned there was a catch. The new film would be a reboot that would feature an all new cast of characters. They promised this new film would indeed bring something new and exciting to the table that would make people excited about Ghostbusters again.

Let me state right off the bat, that while I appreciate the original Ghostbusters and understand the perspectives of those who love it, I am not a die-hard Ghostbusters fan. I simply arrived at it too late. It didn’t shape my love of movies in any profound way. So when I went into this movie I went in looking at it from the perspective of a fan of movies and stories rather than as a fan of Ghostbusters.

So what’s the story? Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a physics professor who is an active believer in ghosts. Turns out this isn’t exactly good for one’s career as a serious academic, especially when her best friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) keeps roping her into her hair-brained ghost-finding expeditions. However, when an evil villain (Neil Casey) threatens to unleash undead ghosts on all of New York City, they find they’re the only ones with the supernatural belief and knowhow to stop him. With the help of their eccentric, slightly unhinged engineer Jillian Holtzmann(Kate McKinnon), and street-smart subway cashier Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) they set out to stop this supernatural menace and save the city as the Ghostbusters.

There are definitely some things in this movie worth applauding. For one thing, I pleasantly found myself laughing at several of the jokes presented. An impressive feat as most of my family and friends will tell you, I don’t laugh at many jokes. At least, not ones you typically see in your average comedy film.

The acting overall from the cast overall was good and I especially got a kick out of Leslie Jones as Pattie and Kate McKinnon was awesome as Holtzmann(who has a super cool shootout action sequence in the third act). The two of them steal the show most of the time despite the larger portion of the movie being devoted to Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig’s characters, Abby Yates and Erin Gilbert. There’s also a running gag involving Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers) where he plays their good-looking but incredibly stupid assistant that makes for some legitimately funny laughs including a sequence during the end credits that’s pretty hilarious.

Here’s the problem though. For all the laughs that this film did get right there were just as many that fell flat to me. I just wasn’t laughing as much as I expected to in a movie with so many well-known comedic names. There were a lot of movie references that I feel like I should normally have laughed at because that’s my kind of comedy. But they were so overt that I felt like the movie was slapping me in the face with them saying, “Do you get it? Do you get it? It’s funny. Do you get it? This is funny! THIS IS FUNNY!!”

This brings me to another problem that this movie has which plenty of other movies have suffered from as well: an identity crisis. This movie doesn’t know what it wants to be. Despite having some laughs, it doesn’t have enough all out jokes to be a comedy. Despite having a great spooky opening, it doesn’t have enough scares to be a horror movie. And despite having much better action in it than the original Ghostbusters it doesn’t have enough cool action beats in it to be an action film. A film that can’t figure out its own identity is going to have trouble conveying its narrative to audiences without confusing them because they aren’t sure what to expect.

The story is also a problem in this movie. Normally, if this were a bona-fide comedy I would be a bit more lenient because often comedies use their stories just as set up for jokes, putting more work into making people laugh than in making them cry. But because this movie suffers from an identity crisis it makes the flaws in the story harder to dismiss.

All throughout the film I kept getting this feeling of uncomfortable familiarity, as if I’d seen this stuff before. Then I remembered that…I had. In the original Ghostbusters movie. Putting aside the aesthetics and looking simply at the story, it is a beat-for-beat repeat of the original Ghostbusters movie with the exact same set up and an almost identical climax. It’s like what a lot of people complained of when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out. “It’s too much like the original,” they railed. Well here we have an almost identical situation except for one thing. Where The Force Awakens followed a definitely similar story arc to the original it did so with characters that were dramatically interesting and intriguing and as a direct sequel the homages were put into the movie in a way that made sense.

In Ghostbusters, the characters who we’re expected to focus on are just not that interesting or well-developed and while I love Holtzmann and Patty, they don’t get nearly as much screen-time as the other two. As for the homages and references to the original, there is a metric ton of it paid in this movie. The problem is that this movie is supposed to be a reboot, meaning that according to this movie the original Ghostbusters of ’84 never actually happened. This wouldn’t be a problem if the little easter eggs they put in were subtle but instead they throw them right in your face constantly and I found it to be really distracting. It’s not a problem if you’ve never seen the original Ghostbusters but if you’re a fan of the original, be warned.

Conclusion: As I said in the opening, nostalgia is an interesting thing in this day and age when we seem to be reaching back more and more for the glories of the past. However, just because something can be nostalgic doesn’t mean it should be.

Despite people saying that “Hollywood has no new ideas” Hollywood has plenty of new ideas and we see them all the time. I think what people are talking about when they say this is they want new concepts, not ideas. It’s been said that there are only seven truly original stories out there and in my experience I’m inclined to agree. The key is not originality but inventiveness. It’s taking a well-known story and adding variations to it perhaps even refining the concepts that came before.

That’s the sad thing about this movie. It has no inventiveness to it. It’s utterly forgettable. It’s not a spectacularly bad movie like some were predicting but maybe it would have been better if it had been.

If you love horror-comedy and want to see something funny and bizarre, you’ll definitely get some laughs out of this movie but I’d personally recommend seeing the original Ghostbusters if you haven’t already. It’s much more creative and has much more memorable characters.

This is a Netflix movie for a rainy day when you can’t find anything else to watch. Beyond that, for me this is unfortunately an uninteresting disappointment.

What did you think of the new Ghostbusters? Do you agree with me? If not, why is that? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below or contact me on facebook or twitter. Until next time, have a great weekend and May the Flick be with You!

Willow: Champion of little people everywhere!

Hey Everybody!

Welcome to another review from I apologize for taking so long to write a new review but things have been absolutely crazy for me lately with a lot of moving around happening. When July hits I should be back to a more regular schedule. In the meantime, here’s a review of an old 80s classic, Willow.

To be clear, there won’t be any spoilers in this review beyond the basic plot synopsis and a few necessary details.

Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) is a simple Nelwyn (dwarf) farmer who only wants to look out for his wife and children, even though he aspires to one day be a great sorcerer like the High Aldwin of his village. However, his life is turned upside down when his children come across a Daikini (human) baby girl in the river nearby. It turns out the baby is the key to a prophecy and will bring about the downfall of the evil Queen Bavmorda. When Bavmorda’s agents come looking for her though, Willow sets off on an adventure to bring the little girl to safety with the help of roguish warrior Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), so she can one day save the realm.

This movie does have a lot of problems. The effects are really dated, there are annoying side characters, some of whom make snap decisions without much prior build-up, and at times the movie can have a rather silly tone. With all that said, I still think that this is one of the most fun fantasy movies I’ve ever had the chance to see and a lot of that comes from the story and the world that you find yourself in when you allow yourself to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

A lot of that comes from the texture of the film. In modern movies, filmmakers seem to have a notion that in order for a movie to be classified as a fantasy it has to have unnatural and fantastic creatures that can only be created by CGI. But back in 1988 when this movie was made, the filmmakers didn’t yet have those same advantages. They had stuff like rotoscoping to make things glow (the same technique used for lightsabers) and they could make monsters seem to actually be there using animation, but for the most part they were limited to simple camera tricks and editing for their effects. This forced them to be more creative about how they built their worlds, instead relying on engaging writing and characters to draw the audience in.

Such is the case with Willow where the enjoyment and immersion come from our desire to see the humble, yet plucky hero accomplish his mission; a desire which is only possible because the character is unique and interesting. Warwick Davis, now an acting legend for his roles in such things as the Leprechaun and Harry Potter franchises, gets his first major role here as the titular hero and he makes the most of it, giving Willow Ufgood an everyman feel that many movie heroes wish they had. It’s easy to make your hero a paragon who can do no wrong but Willow feels like an actual person who has to make tough choices like leaving his family, all for an unknown purpose. This also applies to Madmartigan who starts as a rather untrustworthy character when we first meet him, but he’s not unlikeable. This makes his change into a champion of good (big surprise there) more convincing.

In addition, the Nelwyn village only engrosses you further. Compared to something like the Munchkin town from Wizard of Oz, this pulls you into the experience because of how it feels like a living, breathing community filled with real people. And while it has some of the usual stereotypes (the bully, the faithful best friend, the wise old leader) it doesn’t delve into those so much that they become boring.

This extends to the rest of the world. Even though we only see so much of this place and it’s never shown on a map, it feels like a place you could believe in with a wide variety of climates ranging from forest, to icy mountains, to the black dead land where Bavmorda’s citadel is.

Admittedly there are some things that don’t work so well. Queen Bavmorda is not really that intimidating as a villain. Jean Marsh who plays her, does a perfectly serviceable job in the part but I personally never found her to be that frightening. She has a hulking henchman who uses a skull for a mask and he is much more intimidating. I think he would have worked better as the primary villain but that’s just me. Also her daughter Sorcha, who is set up as a major secondary villain for the larger part of the film, has one of the quickest heel-turns to the side of good that I’ve ever seen. Not saying that it’s a huge problem but it is a bit head-scratching.

Now we come to the two Brownies, little mouse sized men that talk in loud squeaky voices and travel with Willow after he is given his mission to take the little girl to safety. A word of warning, if you have a hard time with sidekick characters that exist only to provide comedy, then you are going to really, really, reeeaallly hate these two. They were Jar Jar Binks before Jar Jar Binks. They add nothing to the plot, their characters never change, and every time they show up you will likely be counting the seconds until the movie cuts to the more important stuff. Fortunately, their moments don’t last long enough to ruin the movie.

Conclusion: I’d heard about this movie via my mom for a long time. She really likes it. But for whatever reason, I only just discovered it in the last few weeks. And let me tell you, it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a fun fantasy adventure with unique interesting characters and a story that provides a nice twist to the ‘chosen one’ storyline. If you like 80s fantasy, or just enjoy fun popcorn flicks with an edgier feel than Disney, I’d highly recommend giving this one a look.

For those of you who’ve already seen this movie, what did you think of it? Did you like it or were you disappointed? Let me know in the comments section below or let me know on twitter or facebook. Have a great week and as always, May the Flick be with You!

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