Black Widow

 

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Black Widow achieved an almost impossible task – this movie made me actually care what happened to a character I didn’t give a shit about before.

I didn’t hate Black Widow (or ScarJo) in previous MCU entries, I didn’t feel anything at all. She was just…there. Black Widow was a set decoration for the most part…when she wasn’t the butt of slut jokes, anyway. ScarJo’s “Swan Song” though, gave a depth to the character that wasn’t there previously. In explaining the “red in her ledger”, they made her sacrifice really hurt.

Florence Pugh was a revelation as Yelena, AKA Black Widow’s Baby Sis. I’ve been obsessed with her since Midsommar. Having a little sister myself, the dynamic between Natasha and Yelena was perfection. My little sister is ALWAYS quick to tell me when I’m being a poseur.

The hysterectomy gag was redemptive after Nat’s dramatic “I’m a monster,” in Ultron. Being uterally-challenged myself, it’s really not that big a deal, Nat.

Why was I expecting Ewan McGregor to be in this? He wasn’t.

We actually paid the $30 Disney Premier Access Fee to watch Black Widow at home on the Monday after release, but it would’ve been worth paying to see in the theater…except for all the COVID, of course. I’m looking forward to more of MCU Phase 4, even if I have to wear a mask for 2 hours to enjoy it.

Wonder Woman 1984

 

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It wasn’t THAT bad…but yeah, it was definitely not a good movie, per se…or even a mediocre one, because its failures were spectacular in scope…dammit, okay, I’m dancing around it. Wonder Woman 1984 was bad.

Bad is purely subjective when it comes to the DCEU…it surely wasn’t the worst – see Batman v Superman for example – but since the first Wonder Woman is clearly the best so far, it makes it all the more obvious that WW84 just doesn’t stack up. It’s a rehash of old plots…almost as if Superman 2 arrived to an 80s themed party with an Infinity Stone in one hand and a Monkey’s Paw in the other. That’s as spoilery as I will get, as there may be a few out there who haven’t seen it yet.

Kristen Wiig was wasted as Cheetah. Her character was the most fun to watch, even though her character arc was ridiculous. She was doing the best she could with the horrible material she got.

The internet has decided that Wonder Woman raped that poor guy who was unfortunate enough to host the personality of Steve Trevor. It’s an interesting ethical question to be sure – which entity is more important, the mind or the body it presently inhabits. I’m assuming the screenwriter intended the ethical dilemma, or why not have a naked Steve Trevor fall out of the sky? Even so, this brings up questions for any piece of media with body-swapping. Was Sam Beckett getting folks raped in every episode of Quantum Leap (maybe)? Ooooh, was Elizabeth Perkins a child molester in Big (yikes, but kinda)? Wait..was Steve Trevor sexually assaulting his host body every time he took his dick out to pee??? Ultimately, it matters little whether Wonder Woman raped that guy or not…she’s the daughter of Zeus, a god known for having his way with every living creature that crossed his path. How can you apply human laws to a god?

There were a few joyful moments in the film. The invisible jet was fun, although I have a hard time believing that The Smithsonian keeps fueled jets in the backlot and an even harder time believing that WWI era Steve Trevor could fly one. The after-credits scene made me giddy…I shrieked!

An ideal ending for ME would’ve been Bruce Wayne wishing his parents back to life, only to have them disappear 15 minutes later, which in turn, is what drives him to become Batman, in order to KILL Wonder Woman. Yes, THAT would’ve been an interesting twist.

I’d love to say that I have high hopes for the already greenlighted Wonder Woman 3, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Richard Pryor might show up…

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

 

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I’ve done it! I’ve watched all of the Infinity Saga films…Well, technically, Far from Home was the last one that I watched, but whatever…

My husband took the kids to go see it in the theater – I don’t exactly remember why I didn’t go see GotG2 with them…I probably wanted to take a nap. Even though it was a fun film, I stand beside my nap decision.

I want to like Chris Pratt so bad…but then an article comes out about his membership in an anti-LGBT church or his bizarro biblical diets or wearing highly offensive alt-right T-shirts…and I just cringe. Sigh. I truly enjoy him as Starlord, but I feel guilty about it, because he appears to be a major douche in real life.

Only Kurt Russell would impregnate someone behind a Dairy Queen – and look like a sexy beast doing it. His de-aging was beautiful – I am trying to think of Kurt Russell in 1980. The Thing was 1982, pretty close.

I feel like the arc with Gamora and Nebula really made me understand their dynamic in Infinity War a lot better. As in Ant-Man and the Wasp, viewing was REQUIRED to understand Endgame, but it added to the experience.

I almost think that I liked Vol. 2 more than Vol. 1 – is that the consensus? Or is it because of “The Hof”? The world may never know. (They know.) I am 200% OBSESSED with the video for Guardians Inferno by The Sneepers (AKA James Gunn & pals). I’ve watched it about 100 times and you should, too.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

 

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Thanks to my kids’ Netflix account, we all finally got to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp. You heard me right – my kids mutinied and set up their own Netflix account for the summer. (I canceled my account when we moved out to the Double D Ranch, land of 1.5mbps internet.) It is a testament to their character and financial acumen that they were able to agree to each contribute $4/month to share an account, all without any involvement of my husband or I. The best part – if they ever start fighting about it, I can just throw up my hands and walk away. My son may have made a great mistake though – Netflix has ALL the Buddies movies – and my daughter LOVES them. It’s gonna be a rough summer for him…

Oh, and about Ant-Man and the Wasp…the story picks up a bit after Civil War, near the end of Scott Lang’s house arrest. Although I knew that the story centered on finding Janet Van Dyne, I had somehow managed to avoid any other spoilers (other than the obvious Endgame tie-ins). The film was a fun ride with a lot of unexpected gifts.

My favorite gift? Luis’ grandma’s jukebox that only played Morrisey songs. I feel like she’s a woman I could relate to. In fact, everything having to do with Luis is a gift. I hope he gets his suit, powers or not.

Walton Goggins was another gift. Unfortunately, I always get him confused with Simon Ogg (The Walking Dead), who is coincidentally also a gift.

Baba Yaga. Gift.

Randall Park (also a gift) gets to be in the DCEU AND the MCU! No fair!

PS, I hate magic tricks, especially sleight of hand, but Scott Lang’s card tricks were also a gift.

I was not in love with the ending – the “laying of hands” part got big eye-rolls from me. The word “quantum” itself became a deus ex machina in Endgame, but it I guess I’m not smart enough to understand what “quantum powers” are. I’ve even seen every episode of The Big Bang Theory and I STILL don’t get it. I guess I’m just dumb.

Looking forward to the next Ant-Man installment. Will Cassie get a chance to be his partner?

Avengers: Endgame

 

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I don’t even know how to write a review about Endgame that doesn’t contain at least 50 spoilers, so instead…you’ll get feelings and emotions. I know, I know – not like me at all.

We went and saw Endgame on opening weekend, which we NEVER do – but my son made a good case for avoiding spoilers – Infinity War was totally spoiled for him at school. Junior High is a fucking warzone, ya’ll. Even though we planned ahead and got tickets for Sunday, he managed to get spoiled on Friday – some assface “friend” leaked a death. I tried, son…I tried.

I checked my heartrate (via fitbit) while viewing and it was a wild ride. It just kept going up and up and up. The action just never let up. I laughed a lot more than I expected. I cried just the right amount, which is once. I won’t spoil the film by saying what, except to say it was somewhere in the middle and it was a hug and OMG, I AM CRYING JUST THINKING ABOUT IT.

Endgame was so good, it gave me a to-do list…

To do list #1 – make my son watch The Big Lebowski with me, then rewatch Endgame. Hell, maybe we should watch ALL of the Coen Brothers’ films for good measure.

The Community cameos made me SQUEAL! (Kinda spoiler-y, but I’m not perfect.) To do list #2, persuade both kids to watch Community on Amazon Prime. I’ve been bugging the boy for years to binge watch it, but he won’t do it.

To do list #3, see if my VHS copy of National Lampoon’s Senior Trip still works, so I can revisit my 1996 crush on Jeremy Renner.

Funny story real quick – right before we left to see Endgame, my husband had Fantastic 4 2 on in the background…my daughter was so fucking confused. She asked, “Since when could Captain America do that?” as Johnny Storm was torching around. That gave us a good laugh – she had no idea that Chris Evans was ever another superhero. That brings me to #4 – rewatch Not Another Teen Movie, so I can see America’s Ass™ in a whipped cream bikini.

Endgame gave everyone the ending they deserved. I mean, never before has there been a 22 (or is it 23) movie build-up like this, with expectations built up for so many character arcs. Full disclosure – it’s just 20 movies for me, haven’t watched GotG2 or AM&W yet – even so, I felt so invested in this universe – sure, James Bond has over 20 movies, but who is emotionally invested in James Bond? It’s weeks later and the family is STILL discussing it. I’m actually considering taking the kids to see it again, to pick up any goodies we may have missed the first time. I always thought there would only ever be one 5 BOB movie, but I feel compelled to change my mind and bestow the coveted 5 BOB rating upon Endgame.

Captain Marvel

 

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Captain Marvel is cool and all, but Samuel L. Jackson carried the film for me. Young Nick Fury was the glue that held the film together, no offense to Captain Marvel intended.

I was not distracted at all by the de-aging of Samuel L. Jackson – he looked so young and innocent. Coulson was a little weird looking – I think it was the goofy hairline. Speaking of Coulson, there was not nearly enough of him in the film. I’ve been watching him in Agents of SHIELD for 5 years – I wanna see what he was like as a youngin’.

Somehow, I managed to avoid enough of the spoilers to be surprised by the plot twists and turns. I feel like I should go on a total media blackout before every Marvel film! Actually, every film these days. I’m still pissed about The Force Awakens…

The 90s nostalgia in this film got me in the feels. The Blockbuster Video (my summer job between high school and college, 1994)…the Radio Shack (RIP)…the soundtrack! I loved the female-centric soundtrack – in fact, it was quite jarring to hear Nirvana and REM, popping up between Garbage and Hole. I think maybe they should’ve stuck with all ladies on the soundtrack – and why wasn’t “What’s Going On” on that soundtrack? Of course, that would’ve been one more thing for fanboi trolls to be pissed about.

The best thing about Captain Marvel? No romantic subplots. I get it, Wonder Woman has to have Steve Trevor, but it’s so nice to see a powerful female NOT batting her eyes and playing vulnerable. For about 10 seconds, I was afraid that there was going to be sexual tension with Jude Law. That would’ve made me barf – he’s another nannyfucker.

Where did Brie Larson even come from? I feel like she came out of nowhere to win that Oscar, but she’s been in Hollywood for decades. I guess she was just under my radar. Glad that she won the role over Ronda Rousey – that would’ve been a clusterfuck.

My favorite part? The Flerken, of course! What’s a Flerken? Shhhhh…

My second favorite part? Stan Lee’s Mallrats-reading cameo.

Now that we’ve seen what Captain Marvel (and Flerken) can do, Thanos is totally fucked. Just a few weeks until we see how it all shakes out!

Aquaman

 

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I’m not sure which one of us started it, but my son and I have been calling this movie ‘Wet Thor’ for months and months. On the surface, the comparison between the two is obvious – long-haired, built like a god, kinda dumb. Once I’d finished the film though, my opinion had changed – it’s not ‘Wet Thor’, it’s ‘Wet Panther’.

There are so many more similarities between the ascension of Aquaman and Black Panther’s battles against Killmonger. Of course, Aquaman is the interloper, not the crown prince, but you get where I’m going. Atlantis is a technologically advanced secret world, hiding right under our noses – kinda like Wakanda. There are several warring tribes in Atlantis, just like Wakanda. Neither world has a Starbucks, either – just saying…

Just as Black Panther has a strong woman by his side in Nakia (or two if you count Okoye), Aquaman has Mera. I was expecting to hate Amber Heard, but she wasn’t as annoying as I thought she would be. I mean – she’s not a particularly good actress, but she isn’t horrible. I loved her hair so much that I died my hair the same shade of red the very same day we saw the film. (What, you don’t keep a rainbow of hair dye in your bathroom like I do?)

Aquaman’s dad is Boba Fett’s dad! They are brothers!

De-aging was used A LOT in this film. Yes, it was cute how they made Aquaman’s parents look younger in the prologue – makes sense. The REAL SCIENCE though, was how they made Willem Dafoe look young and sexy again. It was The Last Temptation of Vulko.

There was one part of the film that divided our family completely – the octopus playing the bongos. While my husband thought it was completely cheesy and ridiculous, the rest of us liked it. My daughter even said it was her favorite part! (The low point for me was when they ended up in Jurassic World – no spoilers, but that part was bullshit.)

Ultimately, Aquaman succeeds because of its complete separation from the rest of the Justice League. The only threats were encapsulated in Aquaman’s world – no need to get the rest of thise assholes involved. Kudos to James Wan! Can we just keep getting goid standalone feautures like Wonder Woman and Aquaman, instead the trainwreck DC ensembles?

On a side noteotee, previews were mostly ones I’d seen – Avengers: Endgame, the Hellboy reboot (as much as I love Ron Perlman’s Hellboy, I ain’t even mad about this reboot), The Lego Movie 2 – but I had not see the one for Detective Pikachu. As the only one in my household who is not a Pokemaster, I know I wouldn’t get even half of the film…but it still looks kinda cute. This summer is gonna get expensive!

Justice League

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Did they really start off the film with that horrible CGI of Superman’s face?

Raise your hand if you thought Superman was going to stay dead…If any of you have your hands raised, then I assure you, Spider-Man, Black Panther and Starlord will also be staying dead.

Bruce Wayne’s dialogue is so ridiculously cliched that I was literally finishing his sentences under my breath…and annoying my family the whole time. That’s not Batfleck’s fault, of course…but his delivery is atrocious. He just needs to STOP. Shockingly, my husband likes him as middle aged Batman. Sure, I agree he’s better than George Clooney and Val Kilmer, but not much. Maybe I’m just biased against Nanny-Fuckers?

Honestly, it’s not all horrible. Aquaman is…well, Jason Momoa, in all his…Momoa-ness? His cocky Aquaman was the perfect counterpoint to both Batfleck’s snooty rich attitude and Aquaman’s longstanding reputation as a punching bag for fish jokes. I don’t know exactly where it all started, but it was long before the internet. Those fish jokes aren’t so funny now, are they? Also, what was the point of Amber Heard as Mera? 30 seconds of her bitching at him for no good reason?

I was also delighted by The Flash. I’d never even heard of Ezra Miller before, but he quickly became my favorite new member of the Justice League. I LIVED for those Pet Semetary references. Laughs override sex appeal sometimes. Only sometimes, though.

Somehow I missed the memo that the Big Bad was Steppenwolf – even though my nephew had asked for a Steppenwolf for Xmas, which I was unable to locate. I tend to be kind of oblivious. I was, however, disappointed by the lack of magic carpet rides.

Oh! So my son informed me that we missed an end credits scene. I thought DC wasn’t doing that??? I looked it up on YouTube, because Alcide…yuck! What the fuck is that yellow hair about? Do. Not. Want.

So, all in all, Justice League isn’t the worst DCEU film. It’s a bit better than Suicide Squad and MUCH better than Batman v. Superman. I have no desire to ever watch it again though. Glad I did not spend money on it.

Iron Man 3

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I’ve somehow managed to avoid seeing Iron Man 3 in the five years or so since it was released. No particular reason, except maybe the fear of too much GOOP. Even so, I’m hearing rumblings that there are some plot threads from this one that will be picked up in Avengers 4, so might as well dig in.

The film kicked off with a 1999 flashback, featuring one of the worst songs ever recorded – “Blue (ba da bee)”. I was able to look past that, and fully enjoy the site of Happy Hogan decked out like Vincent Vega – bolo tie and all.

The central plot device seems familiar…an Eastern, mystical type, bent on destruction, is revealed to be a sham, with the real villain pretending to be his underling…oh yeah, Batman Begins! And according to Wikipedia, Guy Pearce was even in consideration for Ducard/Ra’s al Ghul.

Miguel Ferrer! What a pleasant surprise! He was one of those underappreciated actors that you don’t think to miss until they’re gone. Even though his role was blink and you’ll miss it, it made me smile.

This film really filled in a lot of gaps for me in Tony Stark’s character arc and how Tony’s attitude changes in Ultron and leading into Civil War. Tony wasn’t exactly humbled, but he experienced a few humble moments. It was interesting to see how Tony was able to scrounge at Home Depot and create weapons – his lab was nice and all, but he makes MacGyver look like MacGruber.

Also, GOOP still didn’t die. Goddammit.

Avengers: Infinity War

Ten years and eighteen movies. The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a long shot, but they did it, somehow those magnificent bastards did it. They created a film universe filled with amazing characters in amazing films. Sure, there were missteps like Incredible Hulk and The Dark World – but there were far more hits than misses.

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Even though I’m fairly certain that everyone in the country has seen Infinity War by now, I’m going to keep the review fairly spoiler free…in case you’ve been living in a cave the past few weeks – or Scotland. I managed to make it into the showing without any major spoilers, as did the husband. My son wasn’t so fortunate – 13 year olds are brutal fucking assholes.

A few words about Alamo Drafthouse…I don’t think I’ve seen a film there since…Poultrygeist? That was like 11 years ago! My husband loathes Alamo Drafthouse, because of all the interruptions, but I don’t mind so much. Yeah, it’s pricey, but the food is pretty damn good. The amazing thing about Alamo Drafthouse was that instead of the insipid ads and trivia that other theaters run, they did a whole “Previously on…” synopsis of all previous MCU films – it was great! They were also low on trailers – they just showed Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (A documentary on Mr. Roger’s that will probably make me cry five times), Deadpool 2 and Jurassic World 2. I appreciate the exclusion of trailers I don’t care about – how did they know?

The film itself kicks into high gear immediately – and then DOES NOT STOP. I’m not exaggerating to say that there are no “slow parts” in Infinity War. Every scene advances the plot. This is no small feat – the film wastes no time in setting up who the characters are and what their motivations are…we’ve had eighteen movies to learn about these characters – what their motivations are and relationships with one another. Thanos has been a threat in the background since The Avengers, remember? So now, I get to apply a little of the film theory I learned in college…Viewers are able to jump right into Infinity War’s plot due to ‘”funding”, the building and enriching of aesthetic experience through subsequent encounters with the physical work of art, each instance of which is likely to be different in quality.’¹ While the theory of funding is most often applied to Westerns, it can also apply to film franchises and even pop culture. James Bond movies are another example of a “funded” genre.

While the viewer benefits from the “funded” MCU and doesn’t have to sit through any unnecessary character introductions, we get the distinct joy of these characters being introduced to each other. There are jokes. There is jealousy. There is violence. There’s even awkwardness among estranged characters. Every new intro was pure entertainment – I even cackled at a few.

If “funding” is the mechanism of our enjoyment of Infinity War, “sacrifice” is our punishment for that enjoyment. Over and over, we are forced to watch our beloved characters forced to make sacrifices. Every. Single. Fucking. Character. Some sacrifices are small and some are quite large, but they all hurt. I was an emotional trainwreck the rest of the day after watching. Infinity War should come with a trigger warning.

There are a few characters suspiciously missing from the fray – I suspect that they’ll be back for the next installment, house arrest or not. We also saw the return of a character, long out of our thoughts, imagined to be dead many movies ago. Of course, dead doesn’t mean dead in comic book movies. None of them ever STAY dead…wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Infinity War was good – as good or maybe even better than my favorite entries: Winter Soldier and Ragnarok. I really want to watch it again, to pick up on any little Easter Eggs I may have missed. I noticed Arrested Development mentioned in the end credits and then read what that was all about – I can’t believe I missed it!

And now we wait…just 361 more days…

1. Stephen C. Pepper, The Basis of Criticism in the Arts (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), p. 57, quoted by Barry Keith Grant, Film Genre Reader (University of Texas Press, 1986), p. 126