4 1/2 Reels out of 5

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Hey, Everybody and welcome to Flickmuncher.com! Those of you who read my Gods of Egypt review know that I was in a particularly foul mood that day. Well, I’m pleased to report that my spirits have brightened considerably since then. Much of that has to do with the film that I will be telling you about shortly. With that in mind…

WARNING – BEWARE OF WILD SPOILERS! (Seriously, beware. Spoilers can be dangerous.)

During winter months things can seem like such a drag sometimes. Going from day to day, waiting for the cold weather to end and you can do something that doesn’t involve skiing or sitting inside all day (especially here in the midwest), it seems so dreary at times and without anything remotely interesting. But then you get that rare day where the sun shines out and even though it’s still cold outside, you can’t help but go outside and think to yourself, “this isn’t so bad”.

Well, that particular day of sunshine just came for me in the form of Disney’s Zootopia. Admittedly, I’m a bit biased since I’ve been raised on Disney films—though to be fair, so has 95 percent of America—but that still doesn’t take away from what is a really enjoyable film. I don’t know what it is but Disney Animation has been on a creative roll lately and I think this is one of their most entertaining offerings thus far.

So what is Zootopia, you might ask? Well, lets find out.

Zootopia is the story of a young bunny named Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) who grows up in a world of anthropomorphic animals who wear clothes, walk on two legs, and talk like people. Judy’s lifelong dream is to leave her family’s carrot farm and go to the city of Zootopia to become the first ever bunny police officer. Determined to prove herself, Judy enlists the help of a street-wise con-artist fox named Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman) and the two find themselves in the middle of a case that could threaten everyone in Zootopia.

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The story of this movie is hardly original. Buddy-cop/odd couple movies are almost as old as movies themselves. But what Zootopia lacks in originality it makes up for in creativity and execution. The two main characters are both likeable in unique ways, with Judy’s natural energy and idealistic tendencies and Nick’s smooth-talking and clever cynicism, that allows for some really clever and funny comedy between them. At the same time, their natural positions as “sly fox” and “dumb bunny” make for some very interesting and heartfelt moments that may fly over kids heads but will strike adults straight in the face about what someone can and can’t be. Much of this is delivered through the spot-on voice acting of Ginnifer Goodwin (who I always seem to pronounce with a heavy G instead of the J sound despite others pronouncing it as J) and Jason Bateman, who both knock their performances out of the park.

In regards to the plot itself, as a cop movie its actually very well set up and the payoff towards the end over who is responsible and why is handled brilliantly. I won’t dare spoil that plot-point but I will say that towards the end of the second act I was not entirely sure what was going to happen and that is the mark of a good plot. If there is a problem with the story, it is that there’s a bit of a drag at the end of the second act, and its a problem I feel many movies have(especially romantic comedies and dramas). Stop me if you’ve heard this before:

Judy hurts Nick. He leaves.

She feels bad about it and quits the force.

She goes home and mopes for a few minutes before having a revelation.

She goes back to Nick and says she’s sorry.

He forgives her and they get back on the case.

Begin climax.

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If this sounds familiar that’s because it is. Many movies have done this and continue to do this and while this by no means ruins the film, I do wish that they hadn’t used this particular trope because it feels like a waste of time that could have been spent in better ways. That slip-up aside, the plot is still enjoyable even though, like I said earlier, it’s hardly original. But moving on.

Let me make this perfectly clear. I MUST GO TO ZOOTOPIA! There is just so much to love about this place and the level of detail that the creators put into it is astounding. The design is very reminiscent of San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6 but it has its own character, taking advantage of naturally bright color as opposed to the neon palette Big Hero 6 used. From how different sections of the city are set up with separate climates, I especially got a kick from Tundratown and Little Rodentia, to how shops provide their wares to tiny voles and tall giraffes, it shows how much care was put into making the place a living breathing city. It’s so alive as a character in its own right that I just want to see more of it. In fact, I want Disney to make this into a theme park right now just so I can see this whole world that these filmmakers created. Yes, I know that Disney World has the Animal Kingdom but if Star Wars, a world that has much less official flesh on its bones, can get a theme park then why can’t this? Yes, I just compared Zootopia to Star Wars.

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Finally, there’s the humor. A few weeks ago I put up a review on Deadpool, a movie that many found hilariously entertaining. I noted the fact that though there were a few moments that I found genuinely hilarious, not a lot of the jokes hit for me. Zootopia was for me, the exact opposite of that on the humor scale. I was laughing constantly throughout this film and so was my sister who joined me. Some bits had us laughing so hard, I thought we might be bothering the kids who were watching the movie in the rows just behind us.

Zootopia is one of those films that’s probably funnier for adults than it is for kids, though there are plenty of jokes for them too. But the thing that I think sets this and other animated movie offerings apart is how clever that humor is. The filmmakers know that they have to make it kid-friendly and yet they want a movie that they would want to watch as well. So, they have to be more creative in how they set up and present their jokes. So they throw in sly nods and references that mean nothing to a child but is extra entertaining to an adult. Plus, they allow the jokes time to develop, something that rarely happens in this era of movie making. Usually jokes come a mile-a-second. This also adds watchability in the long-term because kids and even us adults will come back years from now and see things that they had missed the first time.

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Is this Disney Animation’s best film ever? No, not really. Will it be the greatest box office hit of it’s era? Probably, not. But I can say with absolute certainty that this is the most fun and entertaining time I’ve had in a theater since I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I cannot recommend it enough. It has something for everyone. The kids’ll enjoy the animals, the environment, and the colors. The teens and adults’ll have a blast with the jokes and get a heartfelt and unusual story out of it at the end. Even if you don’t have any kids, get some friends and go see it anyway because it’s not something to miss out on.

I do have one question for the filmmakers though. What was with that Shakira animal Gazelle? Is she seriously Zootopia’s only celebrity?


Next week: We travel to California to ponder justice, revenge, and what on earth charm has to do with a spoon in 1993’s The Mask of Zorro.

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What did you guys think of Zootopia? Was it what you expected? Better? Worse? Let me know in the comments section below, or contact me on Twitter @LightWielder524. I look forward to hearing all your thoughts.

Have a great week and as always, May the Flick be with You!

Gods of Egypt

Flickmuncher GoE poster 2


So, to give everyone a heads up, this is going to be a shorter review than usual for a couple of reasons. One is that I’ve been very pressed for time this week and am scrambling to get things done. The second is that there isn’t a lot to talk about where this movie is concerned.

With that out of the way, this is my review for Gods of Egypt, and wowwww was it bad.

I want to say good things about the movies I review, I really do. No movie is perfect and no movie is completely devoid of anything of value but here we are here in the doldrums of winter and even the humorous Deadpool isn’t giving me much to work with. So am I overreacting a little bit? Maybe, its not as bad as it seems?

Well, lets take a look at the plot.

In ancient Egypt, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), the so-called Lord of the Air, is about to be crowned King of Egypt by his father Osiris. However, his uncle Set (Gerard Butler), God of the Desert, thinks that Horus isn’t deserving of the throne and kills Osiris before taking Horus’ eyes and stripping him of his power. Aided by a lowly thief named Bek(Brenton Thwaites), Horus must reclaim his eyes and stop Set from destroying the world.

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If it sounds like a pretty standard plot that’s probably because it is. Right from the get-go, if you’re looking for something new in a movie that you’ve never seen before, this likely isn’t it.

I will give this movie one thing, it certainly looks pretty. With lots of shiny armor and doodads (the titular Gods literally bleed gold), and decidedly egyptian looking designs and architecture, it’s a lot of fun to look at. Admittedly, much of it is CGI but that doesn’t necessarily detract from the picture if you allow for it not looking over-realistic.

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Beyond that though, it is just no fun to watch. The fight scenes are cool at first but the constant and needless slllloooo-mmmmoooo ultimately makes the action a chore to sit through. The dialogue isn’t much better. The whole cast, with the possible exception of Gerard Butler who gives some really hammy moments as Set, is doing their best with what they’re given but the script for this movie is absolutely atrocious. While watching in the theater I kept noticing the timing of the lines in each individual scene. Each line never seemed to be given proper time to settle before the next comes along. I don’t know if this was due to the acting or the direction but in either case the result is the same, we end up being distracted because the interactions of the characters don’t feel believable.


Furthermore, the plot is full of padding that makes for a movie that feels slow in spite of the amount of stuff that is going on in it, and the resolutions for all the characters problems are weak and too unearned. There’s a subplot with Bek and his girlfriend not making it to the afterlife because she is too poor to make it through the final gate. This is cool. It shows us the mythology of this world and how things work in a way that is truly intriguing. But it is too easily dismissed by the end of the film and feels false, doing a disservice to the movie as a whole and on top of that there is a “Sequel-beg” moment at the end that didn’t interest me at all, not because I necessarily think setting up future movies is wrong (though that’s a discussion worth having), but because I. Didn’t. Care.



Whenever I go with friends to see a movie, regardless of whether there’s a scene at the end, I make it a personal policy not to leave until the last of the credits have rolled. The reason I choose to do this is because a lot of people worked to bring me this entertainment and the least I can do for them is respect their efforts by waiting for the curtain call to end. I applaud every single person who works on a movie, from the acting and directing to the people who do the catering for the crews. They do things that I couldn’t imagine doing and they deserve recognition for what they do.

That being said, if I think a movie is bad, that isn’t a knock against the people who created it, its a knock against the creation itself. I believe a movie’s primary purpose for existing is to entertain the audience and this, in my humble opinion, is a film that is not entertaining. It is not worth the time or money you would spend to see it and in that light, I cannot recommend this movie. If you’ve seen the trailers and absolutely must see it to sate your curiosity, put a post-it note on your fridge and rent it when it arrives on Blu-Ray.

Next Week: We travel to a land where Rabbits, Foxes, and Bears live in anthropomorphic harmony together and, hopefully, I’ll be much happier in Disney’s Zootopia.

Flickmuncher Zootopia poster


What do you guys think of the reviews so far? If you have suggestions or movie topics that you’d like to see talked about it I’m all ears. Put a note down in the comment section or find me on twitter @LightWielder524.

Have a great week and as always May the Flick be with You!

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

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WARNING – If you havent seen this movie there will be SPOILERS in this review.

Soooo…here’s a bit of a disclaimer before I begin this review.

I don’t believe I’m an inherently negative person. I attempt to approach each review with a balanced view of what I think works while acknowledging—but not dwelling too heavily—on the things in every movie that don’t work so well. As I’ve stated before, the purpose of this site is to promote conversation about the value of movies that we love in a fashion that showcases their strengths and flaws equally.

That having been said, this was a tough movie for me to review. It is a slog to get through and though it has many cool, intriguing parts composing it they are completely wasted in the film as a whole.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. What’s the story?

The film starts with James Bond (Sean Connery) following up leads rather violently as he hunts for his arch-enemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray), culminating in a short scene where Bond shoves Blofeld into a pit of boiling-hot mud before the opening credits roll. Then Bond is off on his next mission, infiltrating a South African diamond smuggling ring in which key members are being systematically killed off. On the way, he comes into contact with one of the members of the ring, Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), who agrees to help Bond find out who is killing off the ring members. They embark on a trip involving casinos, gangsters, reclusive billionaires, and orbital death-rays. Just another day on the job for 007.

Oookay, where do I start with this? How about with the things that I genuinely liked about this movie.

I will freely admit that I’m a huge Sean Connery fan, for more than just his work in the James Bond series. His turn as Captain Marco Ramius in Hunt for Red October is one of my personal favorites and he’s a scene stealer in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as Jones Sr. He is arguably the best thing in this movie despite being saddled with a somewhat stilted script and an ultimately uninteresting plot. Over the years people have talked about who played James Bond the best in his astounding twenty-five appearances on the silver screen. Whether it’s the suave, cavalier attitudes of Pierce Brosnan, the adventursome antics of Roger Moore, or gritty, flawed intelligence agent of Daniel Craig, everyone has a version of the character that they prefer. Connery is my personal favorite because in my opinion, he has all the qualities that made Bond such an established character. He was the suave international man of mystery, spouting one-liners at every turn. He was the cold intelligence agent who would shoot a man in his bedroom and not give it a second thought. And as his time went on, he showed Bond to be a man dealing with a great deal of anger. Why this is, I’ll get into later.

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Regardless, Connery is the man who makes this movie work, so far as he is able, and its a credit to his skills as an actor that he can do so without much support from the rest of the cast and crew. One exception to this, however, is Jill St. John as Tiffany Case. Her chemistry with Connery is a lot of fun to watch as they get in and out of trouble together. Sadly, there isn’t enough time in the film where the two of them are together. Plus, the last fifteen minutes of the film make what had been an engaging female lead into a complete dunderhead who can’t do anything right. At one point Bond even calls her a “twit” for a particularly frustrating mistake.

That leads me to the climax of the film, which really impressed me. Not that the climax itself is anything special, even as Bond films go. It isn’t. But what impressed me was what they did for their climax. The final battle takes place on an oil rig somewhere in the Pacific ocean that ends up getting blown sky high. “That’s not so impressive,” you say. “I’ve seen entire cities destroyed on film. I watched INDEPENDENCE DAY!!” True, much bigger things have been blown up on the silver screen but in 1971, they didn’t have CGI where they could blow just about anything up and make it look real. They either had to do it with scale models—which they often did for the bigger explosions—or they had to do it for real. In the case of Diamonds are Forever it looks like they actually blew up an oil rig which isn’t something that I could see a studio going to the expense to do in today’s era. For that, I have to give them major credit.

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Also, the premise of Bond infiltrating a diamond smuggling ring to find out who is taking out the members is a rather intriguing one that I would have liked to see explored. Unfortunately, that brings me to the movie’s biggest problem, it’s plot.


I could go on for days about the problems with this movie’s plot and my specific frustrations with it. But for the sake of brevity and my own personal sanity, I’ll do my best to be concise.

The movie suffers from a plot that is unnecessarily complicated and adds little to the overall experience. I realize that intricate plots are par-for-the-course in the spy movie genre but that shouldn’t come at the expense of the watching experience. While some movies are intentionally confusing for the audience—such as psychological thrillers and horror movies—in order to evoke a more emotional response, this is the type of confusing narrative that takes you out of the experience. It was genuinely challenging to figure out what each character was after and who they were connected to and how. Half-way through the film, I wasn’t even sure what Bond was after besides the vague “find the bad guy and stop him” cliché. Getting thrown out of the experience like that is something that should never happen in a good film.

In addition, the villain’s plot is so silly as to be cartoonish: holding the entire United States for ransom using an orbital death-ray powered by diamonds. That sounds like something Doctor Claw from the Inspector Gadget series would come up with. For a film that starts with a very down-to-earth premise, the evil plot feels like it doesn’t belong in the same movie.

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Yes, that is the actual death-ray in the film.

Furthermore, many elements that would be great if they were handled in the right way feel awkward or out of place here. For example, in the opening with Blofeld, the film sets up that he’s been working on creating a set of doppelgangers for himself. After Bond seemingly kills him in the opening, Blofeld then reappears later, revealing that he was successful in creating doubles for himself including the “Blofeld” killed in the opening.


The possibilities of this are quite exciting. How does our hero kill a man who has multiple copies of himself? Even if he kills them both, they could both be doubles doing Blofeld’s will and the real one is still out there. It makes him a much more dangerous villain.

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But the filmmakers get rid of the concept as quickly as they introduce it. Bond kills the double and the real Blofeld flees to his secret location for the climax.

Speaking of locations, the James Bond series has always showcased a wide variety of fabulous locations in its films. It’s sort of like watching a sight-seeing tour through the eyes of a secret agent. Unfortunately, the locations in this film are bland and uninteresting. First we’re in Amsterdam briefly, then we go to Las Vegas and the Nevada desert, then a non-descript oil rig in the Pacific. Hardly the most exciting locales to see 007 navigate. Compare this to Macau and the Scottish Highlands in Skyfall and you can see what I’m talking about.

All of these points, good and bad, make for an uneven film that is too difficult to fully enjoy and while the performance and chemistry of the leads is certainly enjoyable, there isn’t enough of them to offset all the other problems that the film has. Which is a shame because it had been set up so well by the films that had preceeded it.

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Prior to this movie, the conflict between Bond and Blofeld had been set up as far back as Thunderball, the fourth movie in the series. This conflict came to a head in You only Live Twice and On her Majesty’s Secret Service, the two movies prior to this one. In Her Majesty’s Secret Service Blofeld delivers to Bond the worst hit he takes in the entire series up until Casino Royale three decades later. He kills James Bond’s wife right after they’ve been newly married. That moment is the impetus for the entire opening sequence of Diamonds Are Forever and informs much of Bond’s behavior throughout the rest of the film. Unfortunately, if you haven’t seen the previous two movies, you won’t know any of this because it’s never mentioned in the actual film itself.

For that reason, I would say that this is only a necessary watch as the last part of what I refer to as “The Blofeld Trilogy”, and that only as a completion of the overarching conflict between Bond and Blofeld. Otherwise, unless you’re a huge James Bond fan, I’d consider On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to be a better use of your time.

Next Week: We go to ancient Egypt in a tale of great deities, brave heroes, fierce monsters, and lots and lots of shiny CGI in Gods of Egypt!

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As always I’d love to hear your thoughts on this or any movie. What James Bond movies do you like and why? Do you disagree with my review? Are there any movies you would like to see me review? Let me know in the comments section or find me on twitter @LightWielder524. Until then, have a great week and May the Flick be with you!



Warning–this article will contain SPOILERS!

So this was an interesting film to review for me. When it was first announced last year, I honestly had very little interest in going to see Deadpool. However, one of my friends was really looking forward to it, whether out of curiosity or genuine interest I’m not sure, but the trailers did seem pretty funny so I decided it might be worth a look, if only to find out what all the fuss was about.

As the release date closed in however, the marketing for this film became virtually inescapable. Back in October I went to see the James Bond movie Specter with my mom and Granddad and there was a trailer for Deadpool in front of it. Now, neither of them watch R-rated movies on a regular basis and my Granddad has absolutely no interest in superhero films at all, yet they both wanted to go and see it. That’s how entertaining the trailers were!

So the release date arrived, and people were raving about this film even the week before, declaring it to be a whole new kind of hilarious super-hero film that would revitalize the genre. I bought a ticket and went to see it with my brother-in-law. The theater we went to see it in was packed, with a line that literally went out the door. We sat down to watch and when I came out…I was disappointed. Why?

Well, first lets discuss who and what Deadpool is.

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a foul-mouthed low-level gun-for-hire who falls in love with a prostitute/stripper named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). They’re starting to build a life together when Wade finds out that he has stage 4 Cancer pretty much everywhere. Having no other options he accepts a deal for a cure from a shady guy in a lab coat calling himself Ajax (Ed Skrein). Ajax cures him and makes him effectively immortal but the transformation leaves him disfigured. He destroys Ajax’s lab but the villain escapes in the process. Wade then goes on a quest of revenge against Ajax and his group, becoming the costumed anti-hero Deadpool.

“Is that a bear or a shark?”

Let’s start with the good things.

I know very little about Deadpool beyond his extremely overzealous fanbase and basic characteristics: the red hood, his ability to regenerate any lost limb or injury, his sarcasm and sense of humor toward heroes in general, and that his name is Wade Wilson. From what I saw in this movie however, Ryan Reynolds is Wade Wilson. He seems to be perfectly at ease with the role of the fast-talking low-life mercenary that Deadpool is. His performance in the softer-moments of the film (what few there are) feels genuine and his higher-pitched voice is so cartoony that it makes his many quips that much easier to laugh at.

Speaking of laughs, much of my audience was guffawing throughout a large portion of this film. I’ll admit there were a lot of moments that I personally didn’t find funny but plenty of people in my audience did. That doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh at all in this movie, just that I laughed a lot less. But when this movie did get me, it hit me really good. There were a couple moments when I was literally in tears, I was laughing so hard. I’ll sum my favorite moments up real quick: Colossus vs. Deadpool and the Zamboni incident.

The plot of the movie—while pretty basic and rote—is nice and easy to follow, in spite of flashbacks, which means more time for jokes. When a lot of movies today have complex plots about all the things our main character has to do to get what he wants or needs, it’s nice to have a film that is less about the end goal and is more about how much fun can be had getting there.

That philosophy is embodied in the opening credits and the first ten to fifteen minutes which are, in my opinion, the best part of the film. It’s pretty much all hilarious action with Ryan Reynolds going all out as Deadpool against a caravan of goons. The action is gorgeously shot and there isn’t a bit of “shaky cam” to be found as he deals with the goons one-by-one, quipping all the way. It’s a super-fun sequence to watch even if it is a bit gruesome at times.

Our insurance agent's gonna flip!
Our insurance agent’s gonna flip!

Sadly, that brings me to the things the movie doesn’t do so well.

I just mentioned how the action in the first sequence of the movie is so well done, which is why it’s so frustrating that most of the action in the rest of the film is pretty lackluster, especially in the finale. The funny thing is that the sequences are not bad, per se, so much as they are boring after the amazing opening sequence. I think if the movie had ended with the opening sequence then I might feel a lot better about this than I do. But this is how they made it.

In many ways that’s kind of a microcosm of the film itself. Moments of brilliance mixed with stuff that just feels average at best, especially when compared to those moments of brilliance.

"We're NOT playing the Whack-a-mole!"
“We’re NOT playing the Whack-a-mole!”

I also didn’t feel like the romance with Wade and Vanessa worked. There’s a scene towards the beginning where they’re playing in an arcade and talking about how messed up their respective lives are. You see them bonding over the irony of how terrible their lives seem to be. It’s a great scene and one I wish we could have seen more of. Unfortunately, that’s all we get and it’s not enough to make their tragic romance work in the context of the story. We have Wade telling us about how much he loves Vanessa, especially after he learns he has cancer, but that doesn’t make us feel like he loves her. It’s a case of telling instead of showing, and no, love scenes don’t count. Those are just there for padding and don’t add anything to the movie whatsoever.

Speaking of adding nothing to the movie, lets talk about our villain, Ajax. Ajax is a complete waste in this movie and in all honesty, there isn’t a lot to him. He’s sadistic and he has no sense of humor, and…that’s about it. He can’t feel pain so I guess that’s something but what fun is a villain who can’t feel anything? There’s even a line in the movie where he says, “Now I feel nothing”. There’s nothing to make us care why he is Wade Wilson’s arch-enemy other than he tortured him in the lab. You could put anyone in that position and the audience, excepting the hard-core comics fans, would never know the difference.


Furthermore, he’s not even clever in how he deals with Deadpool. At one point in the film he kidnaps Vanessa to use against Deadpool. How does he botch it? Instead of using her as leverage to make Deadpool, I don’t know, maybe swallow a grenade or something equally intelligent, Ajax tries to kill her right there on the spot. Deadpool stops him after about fifteen seconds. His plan B? Axes. Sure, against a guy who we see regrow entire limbs. Marvel movies in general have had a rough time coming up with good villains—which is why the X-Men are still fighting Magneto to this day—but Ajax is I think one of the worst villains I’ve ever seen. And here’s the worst part. He drags Deadpool down with him. Yes, Deadpool is supposed to be mostly for laughs but he’s still a character on a mission, and he’s immortal. If he’s not challenged it ultimately makes him a less memorable character.

So, are these negatives why I was ultimately disappointed in the film? Actually, no.

The negatives certainly contributed to my disappointment but they don’t make the film unwatchable, far from it. The real reason for my disappointment comes from the expectations that I had going into this film. When I went to go see it, there was a lot of hesitation in my mind. Before it came out this film was being touted as being a super-hard R-rated smorgasbord of foul-mouthed crude humor and action-violence. Even when a petition went out to make it PG-13 so kids could see it, the filmmakers declared that it had to be rated R, as though they were proud of that rating for a Deadpool movie. “That’s who Deadpool is”, ran across the internet “He should be rated the hardest R possible”.

51703734 Actor Ryan Reynolds suits up to film and action scene on a viaduct for "Deadpool" on April 7, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada. The new Marvel movie tells the story of a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary who is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers. FameFlynet, Inc - Beverly Hills, CA, USA - +1 (818) 307-4813
“So…which gun did I actually load?”

But when I came out of the theater, I strangely didn’t feel like I had seen the worst that an R-rating could provide. Make no mistake, there was definitely some stuff in it that should never reach the eyes or ears of children, or some adults for that matter. But it wasn’t as graphic or as horrible as I had feared. Now, I’m not a guy who goes to R movies on a regular basis but I have seen some pretty rough films in my time and this wasn’t one of the worst at all.

Remember how I talked about the love scenes feeling like padding? Well to be honest, a lot of this movie is padding. It’s like getting a huge box from your aunt for your birthday and you open it to find a new phone surrounded by those little Styrofoam peanuts that get all over the carpet. You love the phone but you were expecting something more impressive. Moments of brilliance wrapped in average or downright mediocre packaging. That padding makes the film feel unfocused and so takes away from the overall viewing experience. However, overall if you don’t mind sifting through all the peanuts, and some rough language, sexual content and violence, there is definitely some enjoyment to be found.

Next week:

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We’re going back to the 1960s; to the days of the Cold War, espionage, laser guns, pretty women, and martinis that are shaken not stirred with Sean Connery in the film Diamonds Are Forever.

Let me know what you think of these movies in the comments and as always, may the Flick be with you!

Pirates of Penzance (1983) Review

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So, I first discovered this movie back in the summer of 2015. I was with my Mom and few of my brothers and sisters looking around the local library, and I happened to come across a copy of it on the shelf. Since I didn’t have anything else on my plate and I like musicals I thought it might be fun.
I took it home and watched it with some of the family. And was almost in tears of laughter by the time it was over. Granted, I’m a guy who likes to laugh a bit more often than is probably good for me—I have frequent cases of euphoria-induced hypoxia, or lightheadedness and headaches due to lack of oxygen from laughing too hard—but still it was a genuinely funny movie.
By now you might be thinking, what exactly is Pirates of Penzance? Well, most of you have probably heard the names Gilbert & Sullivan at some point but for those of you who haven’t here’s the basic 411. W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan were two English composers that worked on a series of comedic operas back between 1871 and 1896, right at the height of the Victorian Era. Pirates of Penzance was one of their most popular musicals and chances are that you’ve heard some form of their music in your life. Example: “I am the very model of a modern Major General” is a major music piece from this musical.
There have been a couple adaptations of the Pirates of Penzance musical, including one simply titled The Pirate Movie! (1982) and a german version made in 1968 called Die Piraten. However, I know little about these earlier versions and so my review will not involve them.
The Pirates of Penzance follows a pretty simple premise. A pirate apprentice in Victorian England has just been released from his duties to the titular pirate band, now that he has turned 21. Having been apprenticed to the band accidentally, he resolves to them that once he returns to shore, he will see that they are hunted down as all pirates should be. However, upon his arrival he comes upon the seven daughters of an utterly incompetent major general and falls in love with one of them. The pirates, on a raid, come across them and hijinks ensue.
Flickmuncher image PoP coast
The film itself is very silly and is based on a 1980 broadway play. Part of what makes it so funny, I found, is that even for a film based on a play that was intended to be a comedy, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. It simply revels in the ridiculousness of what is going on and allows you to relax without trying to follow it too closely. Even the designs of the sets give the impression of being filmed on a broadway stage and while it’s not a cinematic masterpiece, that’s not what it was trying to be. The whole thing has a silly whimsical attitude that you can find in everything from the acting to the lighting and set design, and makes for a much more easy-going watching atmosphere.
That said, it does follow a certain brand of humor that is more implied than outright stated. Many of the jokes and lines are straight from the original play and will likely have you scratching your head trying to figure them out if you’re not familiar with that humor. For that reason I do recommend watching it with subtitles, especially for the songs, as many of the jokes in them come and go extremely fast.
Speaking of songs, some of them do tend to overstay their welcome a bit, dragging on much longer than I would personally have liked(Yes, I’m looking at you Linda Rondstadt). However, the filmmakers seem to realize this and do manage make a bit of a joke out of it. Overall though, the songs are very entertaining and witty and’ll have you running for google in most of them.
Flickmuncher image PoP songs
Acting wise this film does have some real great talent—at least for an 80s movie—and the entire cast pulls off some monumental singing bits with such energy that they will have you wanting to cheer by the time those numbers end. Angela Lansbury—Mrs. Potts from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast—is also present for some fun numbers but doesn’t get as much to do as I might have liked. The real star of the show though, is Kevin Kline as the Pirate King.
At the time this was only his second major movie but you wouldn’t know it by watching him. He embodies the energy of the cast that I mentioned earlier. Even when he isn’t the focus of a scene, he still manages to make you laugh simply because of the glee with which he does everything in this movie.
Flickmuncher image PoP pirate king
All in all this is a fun movie. Is it silly? Yes. Is it corny and ridiculous? Definitely, but that is all part of its charm. Many movies are silly and corny and don’t work because they want us as audience members to believe that they are supposed to be taken seriously when they don’t believe seriously in their own product. Pirates works because it knows it’s silly and everyone in the film embraces the silliness, making it easier for us as the audience to embrace it as well.
Is it the funniest movie ever? No. Is it entertaining? Absolutely. I’d even go so far as to say it requires a second viewing if you want to get the most out of the experience. If you like some old-school humor in a stage-play package with some fun well-written songs as an entrée I’d recommend checking this one out. You can probably get it from Amazon or rent it from Netflix if you don’t want to keep it.
Next week: We take a look at the “merc with a mouth” and just what exactly he plans on doing with that mouth of his, with 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool.

Flickmuncher image deadpool poster

Have a great week and may the flick be with you!

Kung Fu Panda 3 Review

Hi, everyone! Welcome to the first official review of FlickMuncher.com. Before I begin the review itself, here’s a quick rundown on what the planned schedule will be for this site. Reviews will be coming out every Tuesday evening and will alternate between Popular and Classic reviews. On the Cutting Room Floor there are Editorials of my own thoughts on well-known and current films. These will be published every other Thursday. Thank you for reading and now, on to the review!
Flickmuncher image kung fu panda 3 logo
Warning—This review will contain spoilers!
I think whenever someone reviews a sequel, some context is necessary to clarify their opinions on that film next to the ones that came before it in the franchise. So here are my thoughts on the first two Kung Fu Panda movies.
I hated (as in, with extreme prejudice) the first one and loved (as in, up there among my favorite films of all time) the second. A bit oversimplified maybe, but that pretty much sums up how I felt about those two movies when I first watched them. Since then I’ve somewhat modified my stance on both. While I don’t necessarily enjoy all of Kung Fu Panda, there are elements and scenes that I’ve appreciate more now several years later. Kung Fu Panda 2 is also not a perfect movie and there are parts of it that do bug me.
So here’s what happened. I was planning to do this review on Saturday. Because my parents were out of town I was charged with taking care of my sister, who is 12 years old, and my three little brothers who are nine, six, and three. Since all of them were and are of the firm opinion that anything that isn’t animated is a “grown-ups movie”, this seemed to be something worth taking them along on.
By some miracle, we actually made it to the theater on time and managed to find some seats for all of us as the previews began to roll. I will admit, I had to keep my attention half on the screen and half on where the boys were and that turned out to be a good thing. They had plenty of laughs, and Timmy—the youngest—had his eyes go wide a couple of times; scared and excited. All of them seemed to have a lot of fun throughout.
Then we left the theater after the credits rolled. We got into the car and I heard nothing. I asked how they liked it and the general consensus seemed to be that they thought it was fun, but nothing they would gush about after they left the theater.
In many ways that’s the biggest problem with this movie. It’s good…but not special.
What do I mean by this?
Well, here’s the story. Po (Jack Black) is a confident kung fu warrior who is living it high as the Dragon Warrior and everyone in the valley where he lives—including his heroes, The Furious Five, and his teacher, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman)—love him. But then he learns from Shifu that he has to become the new Kung Fu teacher. Po is unsure about this, and rightfully so. He’s terrible at teaching, and everyone—including Po—knows it.
Matters are further complicated when his long-lost panda father (Bryan Cranston) shows up looking for him to come back home with him. This leads to some tension between Po and Ping, the goose who raised him.
On top of all this, an ancient evil “Spirit Warrior”(J. K. Simmons) has returned from the Netherworld with a vow to claim the Chi—i.e. spiritual energy; think of the Force in Star Wars—of all the greatest Kung Fu masters and only the pandas can defeat him. Po agrees to return to the panda village in hopes of saving the valley and his friends from this evil menace.
As you can tell there’s a lot going on in this movie. And while it manages to juggle all these balls pretty well, some elements come across better than others. The humor is classic Dreamworks: mostly targeted at adults but with plenty of jokes that kids will laugh at as well.
The best parts about this movie though, revolve around Po and his two fathers. He cares about his dad, the goose, and doesn’t want to hurt him, but at the same time he understandably wants to know more about the father and people he lost so many years ago. There’s a wonderful scene where his father shows Po a picture of him and his mother and tells him about who she was and who Po was before he was lost. The emotion of the scene is carried over beautifully in the animation and the voice acting by Jack Black and Bryan Cranston is pitch perfect.

Flickmuncher image kfp family

I also want to give a special nod to James Hong who voices Ping the goose and has been in such films as Disney’s Mulan and Big Trouble in Little China. In the Kung Fu Panda franchise he has been by far my favorite, most consistent part of all of it and he doesn’t disappoint here. You wouldn’t expect much from a character like Ping and yet his constant fatherly devotion to Po even in the face of competition from Po’s actual father makes him one of the most admirable characters I’ve ever seen on screen.
This film also gets to show how much Po has grown as a character since we met him back in the first movie, progressing from a clumsy, inept student, to a confident warrior, to finally a teacher of the art he’s loved all his life. It’s a suitable progression that feels right when you look at the film series as a whole. A great moment that shows this growth is when Po lets a little panda keep one of his prized Furious Five dolls—excuse me, action figures. He no longer needs it.
These moments are wonderful to see and think about, which makes the stuff that doesn’t work so much more frustrating. Much of it revolves around the villain. Po is a great character that is well realized and well written but a great hero is defined by the villains he faces. In the second movie, he had a wonderfully wounded villain to go up against, who challenged him on a very personal level and had understandable motivations and feelings.
This movie’s villain, Kai (J.K. Simmons) unfortunately feels really undercooked. I’ll give him this, he certainly has a cool design—as a Chinese bull with spiky horns who fights with two green jade swords on chains—and the animation done on him is very impressive; even allowing him to feel genuinely menacing and threatening at times. But aside from that, he’s incredibly boring and weak. As I mentioned above, his entire desire is to become all-powerful by collecting the Chi of other Kung Fu Masters because…he loves power? Not a great motivation and one we’ve seen done countless times before.

Flickmuncher image kfp3 kai

He has a backstory, of course, that he was betrayed and banished by Oogway many years ago and this is part of what’s driving him. Who’s Oogway? Oh yeah, he’s that turtle from the first movie that spouted lots of spiritual wisdom about the universe and the past, present, and future and then disappeared. But that’s one of the main problems with Kai. He isn’t connected with any of our main characters and so his conflict with our heroes feels less personal and less engaging as a result.
Things aren’t helped by the fact that his voice actor, J. K. Simmons, just feels miscast in the role. I love Simmons work. To me he’ll always be J. Jonah Jameson in the Spiderman movies and he is fantastic in the TV series Legend of Korra, which I highly recommend, but here he just feels out of place and it’s rather distracting. Even in the funnier moments where he’s interacting with our heroes and he’s forced to play the straight-man to their antics, I just did not find him that funny.
Beyond the villain, there is a point in the story where it’s revealed to Po that his father can’t teach him about Chi because the pandas don’t know anything about it. Po gets mad at him and it’s pretty predictable from there. You know they’re going to mope about for a few minutes and then make up before the big finale. This makes the entire lie and getting upset over said lie a complete waste of screen time the filmmakers could have used to do other things, like answer why the pandas don’t know how to use this power anymore.
But no, they just whip out the answer at the end with—no explanation whatsoever as to how they all figured it out at the same time—to give Po a power up to defeat Kai.
Then the finale started out amazing, taking place in the “Spirit Realm” in a sequence which was so well played I had a chill running up my spine the entire time. I dare not spoil it for you here but the visuals alone are surreal and stunning.
Then it just kind of wraps up, with some more spiritual mumbo jumbo to try and explain what just happened. It speaks to how out of place this stuff was when my brother, A.J., who was sitting right next to me, had an expression of awe a minute ago changed to a look of complete boredom.
So, these points are all definitely negative, but do they ruin the film?
Mmmmm, Not really.
I still think it’s a very well made movie. The style of animation, which has obvious influences from old Bruce Lee martial arts movies, and the music—another wonderful score by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe—get extra credit from me as I think they make this film and its predecessors rather unique, even among other animated films today.
It’s biggest problem is that it’s nothing to write home about. It’s just…okay. Unless you’re a huge fan of animation or film, you’ll probably be talking more about the preview for the Trolls movie (yes, that does in fact exist) than about the actual film itself.
That being said, I still think it’s a great movie for folks of all ages to enjoy during the doldrums of January. If you like animation or are fond of martial arts movies or are just looking for something to occupy two hours of your time, I’d definitely try it out.
Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you all think. What stood out to you about this movie? What movies would you like to see reviews of?
Next week: We’re going back in time to the ridiculousness of the eighties to see how they treated the 1800s with The Pirates of Penzance.

Flickmuncher image PoP poster

Have a great week and may the flick be with you!
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