Eternals | This Movie is Too Discreet.

The 26th film in Marvel Cinematic Universe is based on the comics by Jack Kirby. Directed by Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and co-written by Zhao, Patrick Burleigh (Antman & The Wasp), and Ryan & Kaz Firpo. The movie has an incredible cast that includes Richard Madden (Cinderella), Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians), Salma Hayek (Frida), Angelina Jolie (TWWMD, Unbroken, Maleficent), Kit Harrington (GoT, Seventh Son), Brian Tyree Henry (The Woman in the Window), Barry Keoghan (The Green Knight), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, M.I.B: International), Lauren Ridloff (The Walking Dead), Ma Dong-Seok (Train to Busan), Lia McHugh (Songbird).

Premise: Eternals is the saga of a race of immortal beings who have secretly lived on Earth – for over 7,000 years – and shaped its history and civilizations. After the return of half the population in Avengers: Endgame (2019) ignites “the emergence”, the Eternals reunite to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.

Review: I was waiting to see the movie a second time before writing this review, because yes I feel like I could watch this film at least a second time – before just skipping to the good bits, but a day later seems to work as well.

There’s no denying that Eternals is a beautiful movie, a lot of the shots are stunning. The cinematography, locations, costume and set designs work extremely well in creating beautiful images worthy of the best nature and travel documentaries out there. The potential for screensavers is huge throughout.

The same can be said for the action sequences that are amazing but for some reason most of them lack the bit of the excitement and worry that such scenes tend to evoke in viewers. The reason might be two fold, one most of the action is self contained, happening in some remote places, a convenient time of the day, or in the past, so the amount of people potentially in danger is highly reduced and the ones that are fighting for their lives, are often the eternals themselves, who given their name and the nature of what they are doesn’t seem like they really are in danger despite what’s happening to them. No matter how big the action set piece is, the stakes seems low because the people in harm’s way are either the Eternals, a small group, or people from a distant past.

The story is slow and the flow is little weird, which doesn’t help. The slower moments doesn’t hinder the movie but again the high stakes in the movie are not really felt. The movie also has emotionally charged moments that work well enough on their own but don’t quite mesh with the whole.

The cast and their characters are good, and they did a great job with what they’re given. The visual effects on their powers is a big plus and doesn’t take away from their performances. Makkari is my favorite and I we had more of her in the movie, she’s captivating and her character’s powers look great. The same can be said for Ikaris’ flying, or any of the other Eternals’ powers.

The Eternals is as I suspected with the trailers more intellectual than action packed, which is fine but it’s also a bit too chill, low energy.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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What If…? (S1) | The Multiverse Saga in All Its Glory

Review: What If was an interesting ride with each episode posing their own question with surprising results. The pilot set the tone very well even if for the fans that re-watch The Infinity Saga on the regular it might have seem a bit repetitive. Just like the saga it’s mirror after some episodes held more interest and excitement for me than others, in fact each episode ended up being like the movies with the finale acting as the first Avengers (2012) movie, making this season of the show a Multiverse Saga.

Looking at each episode as a “movie” in the Multiverse Saga I do have my favorites, ones that I’d watch again. The Captain Carter episode, the T’Challa Star-Lord one, the Killmonger episode, and of course the finale are my favorites. However what’s interesting about all of them – more than the story, than the question that episode answered – is the display of powers and abilities. Throughout the season there were amazing action sequences, some more impressive – and of course easier to do in animation – than the movies. We’ve seen characters we know using their abilities and team up in a way we have yet to see in the movies, and that alone is exciting. It opens up some many possibilities for future action sequences in live action.

Another thing that What If smoothly does this season and more so in the Finale, is setting up future threat and heroes to join the live action timeline. I know a Black Widow, a Steve Rogers, or a Killmonger to name a few that would be interesting to bring into live action. In fact, if what I heard about Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is true that pocket dimension won’t be guarded for long.

What If is enjoyable and fun, visually exciting, sometimes emotionally rough and gives us a different look at the characters we know.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings | An Ode to Asian Cinema with a Marvel Spin

After Marvel has been killing it with their TV series Wandavision, TFATWS, and a surprising entry with Black Widow, the studio is back is another block buster directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy), who and co-wrote it with Andrew Lanham (The Kid) and Dave Callaham (WW84). The movie stars Simu Liu (Kim’s convenience) in the title role with Awkwafina (Nora from Queens), Tony Leung (The Grandmaster), Fala Chen (The Undoing), Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians), Florian Munteanu (Creed II), and Meng’er Zhang rounding out the cast.

Premise: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Shang-Chi is drawn into the clandestine Ten Rings organization, and is forced to confront the past he thought he left behind.

Review: This movie being about a superhero of color, some people might be tempted to compare this movie to Black Panther, but unlike Asian cinema black cinema is not as expansive and widely known. So where Ryan Coogler‘s built upon black cinema, Destin Daniel Cretton paid homage to the various Asian films has while creating his own world within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Cretton seamlessly mixes western and East Asian movie production styles in Shang-Chi.

The plot is quite compelling, it focuses on the family and a good chunk of it is on the antagonist that we get to know and understand fully. The rest of the MCU is referenced to point out that it’s all connected but this movie is mostly self-contained and centered on Shang-Chi’s family. There’s enough cool world building for the film to stand on its own, because the story spans throughout time with many flashbacks establishing each characters. The mix of different production styles and genres allow each of the action sequences to have a unique look and feel.
The fight choreography is an absolute joy to watch, it’s next level, because they really lean into the martial art aspect of the film. It also looks new and fresh with great cinematography and visual effects. However, the bigger and crazier the fights gets, the more it looks like any old Marvel VFX action sequence instead – meaning it’s good but not as exciting as it once was. I’m talking about a particular sequence in the third act, it’s cool to look at, if you can follow it. Since it’s Marvel, there’s humour throughout but it’s used well, it doesn’t take away from drama and gravitas of the film.

The cast is top notch, they are great and each are given cool character moments throughout the film. Simu Liu and Awkwafina make for a great duo, Leung is amazing, and the rest of the ladies are simply great.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a fun action movie with many surprises making it a top MCU film.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

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Nightbooks | Trailer

Nightbooks is about a young boy named Alex becomes the prisoner of a witch (Krysten Ritter); to avoid certain death, he convinces her to let him tell her a scary story every night. Upon meeting the witch’s servant, Yazmin, the two must use their wits to escape her apartment, a magical labyrinth filled with various dangers, before the witch kills them both.

  • Writers: Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis, J.A. White.
  • Director: David Yarovesky
  • Stars: Krysten Ritter, Lidya Jewett, Winslow Fegley, Khiyla Aynne, Jess Brown, Luxton Handspiker, Miley Haik, Liam Couvion, Taylor Belle, Eden Gjoka.

Nightbooks will release on Netflix on the 15th of September 2021.

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Eternals | Final Trailer

Eternals is the saga of a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.

  • Writers: Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan & Kaz Firpo, Jack Kirby
  • Director: Chloé Zhao
  • Stars: Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Kit Harrington, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Brian Tyree Henry, Barry Keoghan, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Ma Dong-Seok, Lia McHugh.

There’s not doubt that it’s a beautiful looking movie, the cinematography seems amazing. The trailer shows a bit more of the action, a good look at the Eternals’ powers, and the villains. But I’m not as excited to see this movie as I would have thought. The Eternals seems more intellectual than action packed, which is fine but it doesn’t make for a thrilling ad campaign.

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What If…? (Pilot) | Review

A.C. Bradley (Head writer) Bryan Andrews (Director)

CAST
Hayley Atwell
Josh Keaton
Dominic Cooper

Sebastian Stan
Jeffrey Wright

Review: When I first saw images of this show, I wasn’t impressed by the animation style at all, but enough time has passed since then for me to get used to that What If look and this first episode is so strong that it doesn’t matter. Captain America: The First Avengers (2011) is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that I’ve only seen once in fact it’s my least favorite of the films. However, it didn’t stop me from enjoying this entire episode. I bet that if the 2011 movie was fresher in my mind, it would have enhanced the experience a bit.

The pilot episode does shift the MCU in a new direction by smoothly introducing this what if scenarios. There’s a lot of story in this 30 min episode and it’s not just about the gender bending of captain America but the creation of an alternate universe with a captain that acts and moves in its own way. Captain Carter is a total brawler and yet graceful, it makes for amazing looking fight scenes that have a

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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Loki (S1) | A Somewhat Complex Talkathon

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, out of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe Television Series that were announced Loki was the one that I was the most excited for. Not because I am a Loki or Tom Hiddleston mega stan – Hiddleston can get it I’ll admit that – but the look, the feel of the show and the time element sold me on it. The head writer Michael Waldron was not known to me but I’ve seen and enjoyed Ricky and Morty; same thing for the director Kate Herron (Daybreak, Sex Education). However, I had to admit that the rest of the cast was both known to me and surprised the heck out of me. I mean we have Owen Wilson (Marley & Me, Inherent Vice), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Come Away, Concussion, Belle, Miss Sloane), Sophia Di Martino (Yesterday, Into the Badlands), Richard E. Grant (Star Wars IX, The Nutcracker, Logan, GoT), and Wunmi Mosaku (Lovecraft Country, The End of the F***ing World, Philomena).

Premise: In Avengers: Endgame – where an alternate version of Loki created a new timeline when he stole the Tesseract – the TVA (Time Variance Authority), a bureaucratic organization that exists outside of time and space who monitors the timeline. They give that alternate Loki a choice: face being erased from existence due to being a “time variant”, or help fix the timeline to stop a greater threat. Loki ends up trapped in his own crime thriller, traveling through time and altering human history.

Review: Not sure what I expected the series to be but this ain’t it, and I’m glad about it. The show is a bit more complex and smarter than I would have guessed. It’s designed for a specific type of fan, one that knows the MCU like the back of his hand, who loves to speculate about it, and would pick up on the many implications the series has.

By putting the 2014 Avengers’ Loki in this situations, being outside of the MCU we know and protecting it from anything that might disturb it. From a character’s perspective, it gets a bit fascinating because we know the growth Loki’s capable of, he can become a somewhat nice guy. However the one in the show is still angry and bitter, just like ours was back in 2014. So the process of getting him where we know he could be starts anew and that is, when I think about it, the redundant part of the show. As great as it was to see the old Loki back in the beginning of the season, it kind of gets old because regressions aren’t very fun to watch. I think it’s why Mobius is a lifeline at the start, and when he wasn’t there, he was missed.

Since this Loki has a different experience during the series, the road to get him where we know he can be wasn’t very exciting for me. For a good chunk of it the show seemed a bit slow, not much was happening, there was a lot of talking, but it was necessary. We needed the time to redefine the 2014 Loki. The quips, the memorable lines, and the visuals in the series were a good distraction but the show wasn’t as exciting as WandaVision or Falcon and The Winter Soldier got by the second half of the season.

Despite amazing action scenes, the story is cerebral throughout, like a chess game. The main vilain being a bit abstract, a vague entity that they’re up against and that we don’t really know, the action scenes have a different impact. To me Loki is best when he has a clear concrete foe, someone we know, which is why I think season two will be even better. We’ve met that vilain, a variant at least, and by the time next season rolls out we will have learn more about that enemy.

Pacing and story aside the cast does a great job, casting is key here. They are one of the reasons why I was so engaged. When the pace was a bit slow, the story not developing fast enough, they kept me entertained. The visuals were also amazing, hands down more impressive than all the shows so far. It helped getting immerse in the story but also with the scope. It very much felt like what was happening in this show will have repercussions not only on the main characters but on the cinematic universe at large.

So season 1 of Loki is visually striking, fun, very well acted and a great primer for the following MCU films and the upcoming season 2.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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