Avengers: Infinity War

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It was very nearly six years ago now that The Avengers came barging into theaters around the world like the Kool-Aid man. I remember seeing it the day of its release and thinking, “I need to see EVERY. SINGLE. FILM. that has anything to do with superheros EVER.”

That feeling lasted about a day.

Marvel has a fan base that is — for lack of a better term — overwhelming, in a lot of ways. There are people in the world who will verbally deliver you to Hades for questioning Captain America’s intentions or speculating on the relationship between Bruce and Natasha.

There are grown men and women who know more about the Marvel Universe than the actual one they exist in. And good for them! I think at this point, that place is safer.

No matter whose corner you’re in, Marvel has something for everyone. For me, Marvel and Taika Waititi gave me my favorite character, Korg, in Thor: Ragnarok. They know their audience — a good portion of the planet — and seem to have an endless supply of what I like to call Movie Crack; an extremely addictive plot device/story/character/score that you simply can’t get enough of it.

This review is going to be scant on details because I would never dream of potentially spoiling a single detail for any of you.

Avengers: Infinity War is centered around a villain who thinks he is a hero named Thanos (Josh Brolin). His goal is to collect all of the Infinity Stones — that look a LOT like Sonic’s Chaos Emeralds — and destroy half of the population of the entire universe.

This installment of the franchise is billed at 2 hours and 40 minutes long. That only seems long. When one considers all of the story being jigsawed to form a whole, the movie — realistically — could have been longer.

In the first 10 minutes or so, we get follow-up on that Ragnarok credits scene featuring a hammer-less Thor (Chris Hemsworth) followed by catching up with Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and Tony & Pepper (Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow) back on Earth.

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Bruce is running the Thanos warning down to NYC in the style of Paul Revere warning of the British. Somewhere on a fieldtrip, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his spidey sense get wind of the doom about to befall the city and he swings into action. I don’t quite get why Tony Stark doesn’t like the lad, but I enjoy the banter.

Meanwhile, somewhere in space, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and the rest of the Guardians crew are cruising along when they, too, learn of Thanos’ impending arrival.

I’d like to take a moment here to say that, as a wrestling fan, I can not only relate to the fandom of the superhero genre, but every time Dave Bautista — who plays Drax — was on-screen, I had a big, stupid grin plastered on my face.

Over in Europe, Wanda and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) have their first run-in with Thanos’ soldiers, the Black Order; they are ruthless and loyal to their gigantic overlord and willing to do whatever it takes to get the stones he seeks.

Still to come are, of course, a bearded Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a blonde Natasha (Scarlett Johansson), and — off in Wakanda (forever) — are Bucky (Sebastian Stan), T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), his tech-savvy sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), and Okoye (Danai Gurira).

Honestly, there are so many people in this movie. I think I’m in it at some point. It’s an impressive feat. Hearing folks say things like, “I’ve been waiting for this movie for nearly a decade” is pretty cool. It’s going to be a surreal experience for them.

Anytime you get this many stars in one film, it’s going to be explosive. For me, I imagine it’s like a Royal Rumble in the wrestling world, with men and women. Literally every superstar they’ve got. And they’re all just doing what they do best.

I can’t speak on the intricacies of the stories behind every character. I never read the comics and I’ve seen a handful of the movies leading up to this one.

That said, I think Anthony and Joe Russo absolutely nailed it. My writer brain took to picking apart scenes that I thought could have been funnier, but they don’t pay me to write these movies. Yet.

Truth be told, writing a Marvel movie seems like an incredibly tall order. My regards to Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, as well.

Infinity War is a movie that is written, with love, for the fans. It is brimming with effects that will melt IMAX moviegoers’ faces off of their heads. Alan Silvestri composes the score to accompany the on-screen maelstrom, giving the audience a submursive experience fit for the fan who has patiently awaited this moment.

Your diligence leading up to Infinity War is about to pay off in spades. If I may make a couple of suggestions — bring some tissues and a stress ball. You’ll be learning the fates of characters you’ve invested your time and emotions in. In the meantime, keep me in your thoughts — my mother is a massive Robert Downey Jr. fan and I’ve refused to tell her what happens.

Enjoy!

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Blockers

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They’ve finally done it! They’ve finally made a film about high schoolers that isn’t centered around 2-4 white males and their token black acquaintance!

But, a movie called Blockers — what could that be about? The invention of BluBlocker Sunglasses?

Surely not.

John Cena becoming the coach of an all-girl football team? I might’ve liked that better.

Were it not for the surreptitiously placed rooster on the film’s poster, we mightn’t know that — in fact — this movie is about cock blocking.

Happily, the film doesn’t focus on three white men. This time, it’s two white men and one white woman. There are SOC (spouses of color) in the film, which is progress, I suppose.

We’re getting somewhere.

When Julie, Kayla, and Sam (Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon, respectively) become friends in grade school, they form of a lifelong bond. Or at least a bond that lasts until the summer before college.

Forming a fellowship of their own, the parents of the young ladies, Lisa, Mitchell, and Hunter (Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz, respectively), lean on one another for emotional support when their girls become women in the blink of an eye.

Hatching a #SEXPACT, Julie, Kayla, and — reluctantly — Sam decide that prom night is THE night to become deflowered.

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Deflowered, if you’re wondering, is a term that was used in the dark ages to describe the process of a woman losing her virginity before anybody was ready to admit women have vaginas.

When the ‘rents get wind of the #SEXPACT, they set out to — you guessed it — cock block the children. A Superbad-esque romp ensues, replete with gallows humor seemingly written by a stoned 13-year-old.

I don’t know if the writing in this movie was — at times — actually funny, or if it was just the comedic prowess of Mann, Cena, Barinholtz, and a few other heavy hitters popular in the genre that I won’t spoil for you.

Director Kay Cannon — who has dabbled in the Pitch Perfect sequels and a generous handful of 30 Rock episodes — flexes a very distinct voice she’s developed over the years. She was ideal to have in the driver’s seat for Blockers, as she’s able to capture the voices of people objectively, without injecting tons of testosterone into films like this one, which could easily fall into that trap.

Blockers could have easily fallen into so many trope categories, but seems to have avoided such an unfortunate circumstance. A film like this could easily use absurdity as a crutch, as they often do. That said, this one dips its toe in the silliness-bordering-on-totally-unbelievable pool and nothing more — and it works!

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Newton, Adlon, and Viswanathan are three young actors I’d be paying attention to, if I were you. I felt about them the way I felt about Emma Stone when I saw Easy A; they’re all going places in a hurry and have exciting careers on the horizon.

It’s a switcheroo from the typical teen-dramedy fare that doesn’t take itself too seriously or drone on and on for far too long. I guess the takehome message is that, if you truly love your child, you’ll chug a beer with your butt. Thanks, John Cena, for your service.

Love, Simon

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In years past, representation of anything non-hetero in television and film has been pretty dismal. Of course, there are exceptions to that statement — Blue is the Warmest Colour, Milk, Moonlight — but for the most part, on-screen homosexuality isn’t typically captured or portrayed in a way that represents real life.

This is problematic for a profusion of reasons.

A lot of people realize their own sexual awakenings from a steamy scene on their favorite show. For me personally, I remember watching a K.D. Lang music video and having attraction to another person who was ALSO a female for the first time. Years later, I had a crush on Kyle MacLachlan.

If you know what both of these people look like, you’re probably drawing a line from point A to point B that isn’t quite straight, but definitely makes sense.

Right around that time, somewhere in the 90s, MacLachlan played Lang on Saturday Night Live and my life came full circle.

This digressed farther than I meant it to.

Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is, as he will tell you, a pretty happy teen. His dad, Jack (Josh Duhamel) was the high school quarterback and married the “hot valedictorian”, Emily (Jennifer Garner). He has a sister he actually likes, Nora (Talitha Bateman), who spends her days cooking and baking in the family’s fabulous granite countertop kitchen.

When he’s not at home in his impossibly cool bedroom that is literally covered in stickers and posters that represent his extensive love of music that a 17-year-old in 2018 wouldn’t probably know about, Simon spends time with his BFFs, Leah, Abby, and Nick (Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr., respectively).

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He’s in drama, loves iced coffee, and is practically connected via IV to his phone — like any other teenager.

But, as he’ll tell you himself, he’s got one huge ass secret. Thinking he’s the only one feeling this way, Simon is surprised when another student at school posts to an anonymous message board about being gay and not knowing what to do about it.

Simon takes it upon himself to reach out to his classmate to relate and the two wind up finding a safe space inside the anonymity bubble of the internet. Unfortunately, nothing gold can stay, and these intimate emails fall into the wrong hands.

Simon will have to potentially compromise his sacred friendships to keep his secret safe.

But why? Why would someone have to keep from their loved ones a detail of paramount importance to who they are?

Because the world is full of evil.

Simon suggests the idea that straight is the default and wonders why straight kids don’t have to come out to their parents as well. It’s worth taking a moment to truly consider that.

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The message this movie sends across is that we should be able to love who we love and be who we are. I was there for it, too. I am 1000% on board with love is love. Love, Simon is charming, heartfelt, and quite well-written.

It was not lost on me that there was a montage set to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston featuring Jennifer Garner’s movie son. If you’ll recall, Garner had her own colorful montage set to that very song in 13 Going On 30. Yes, I remember that well. And daily.

I’m saying all of this because — while I enjoyed Love, Simon very much — I couldn’t help but think about the fact that real coming out stories don’t often follow the same path as this one. I know plenty of people who’ve come out to families who no longer speak to them.

Love, Simon paints a picture of an idyllic family in this sort of utopia where the family is happy all the time and everything is beautiful. The kids at school all get along and there’s a cheeky Vice Principal (Tony Hale) who doesn’t quite get the kids but tries way too hard and it’s comedic relief in all the right places.

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I’m not trying to rain on this movie’s parade at all. I thoroughly enjoyed myself — to the point of tears. However, I do worry that kids who are struggling with their own identities might see this film and gain the hope that their stories might play out the way this one does.

Most of them won’t. It’s a travesty, but it’s the reality of the situation. This movie is an escape from the world. Which is exactly what movies are supposed to be sometimes. Maybe someday, everyone who tells the world who they really are will be celebrated and a rainbow will appear out of nowhere and a fun 80s song will play while two people of the same sex kiss to the cheers of a crowd.

For now, we’ve got a movie that wants to lead us in that direction and has its heart in the right place. It’s a pure delight in a time shrouded in abysmal grey fog. Love, Simon hits theaters this weekend. See it and then check out the equally playful and sweet soundtrack (available on Spotify) for some extra good vibes!

Love, Katie.

A Wrinkle in Time

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I wanna say that I was assigned to read this book in maybe fourth or fifth grade. Whenever it was, after seeing this movie, I can tell you that my underdeveloped brain couldn’t possibly have grasped the gravity of it.

This is a heavy story that — while fascinating — was difficult for me as an adult.

Truth be told, I probably didn’t read the book and guessed my way through the test. Please, no one tell Oprah.

Meg (Storm Reid) and her little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), live with their mother, Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who is a doctor of the sciences. Ever since the mysterious disappearance of their astrophysicist father, Alex (Chris Pine) 4 years prior, Meg and Charles Wallace now face the fallout of such a odd event.

Meg, feeling lost and unsure of herself, faces bullying from her classmates — because children are monsters — and doesn’t seem to find any solace at home, either. In attempting to keep her father’s memory alive, Meg argues with her mother. That’s a lot of turmoil for a little girl to have on her shoulders.

Fortunately, Charles Wallace has some plans in the works that are going to change everything.

When a boy from school — Calvin (Levi Miller) — arrives to visit Meg one day, Charles Wallace has some visitors as well; three astral goddesses.

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Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) is the first to make contact with little Charles W. next is Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), who can only speak in quotes. Finally, Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) who appears to be the ringleader.

Mrs. Which alleviates some of Megs bewilderment by explaining that they heard a call for their father and the three are here now to help locate him. To do this, they’ll be tessering AKA traveling through time.

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Meg remains wildly skeptical, but grows hopeful with each strange new interaction. Before the end, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin will face challenges greater than any they’ve overcome before. Treacherous and mischievous, their journey is frightening and sometimes feels insurmountable.

The story showcases the power of the human will and the strength we can summon in our darkest places.

That said, the film itself unfortunately falls a bit flat. Ava DuVernay has indeed done something remarkable with this movie, but I’m afraid the writing just wasn’t as solid as it could have been.

The take home message of Wrinkle is a promising one; simply, be kind. With all of the ugliness that exists, a single selfless gesture could change the course of someone’s day, maybe even their life.

I wish that writer Jennifer Lee had embraced a bit more humor, but she did give Meg a tangibly relatable quality that’s going to be easy for young people to grab and hold on to.

Carrying a good message for the youths, this movie had a hard time holding my attention, so I have to imagine it might be even more difficult to engage children.

Red Sparrow

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The first time I saw Jennifer Lawrence, she was sawing off an arm in Winter’s Bone, giving me fodder for my “now TWO of this year’s Best Picture nominees involve amputation” joke.

James Franco’s character removed his own arm in 127 Hours. Then there was the scene in Winter’s Bone. They were both nominated for Best Picture. I guess it was more of an observation than a joke.

Anyway.

We’ve since seen her take on a multitude of various roles, one of which earned her an Oscar. There is no question that Jennifer Lawrence has killer chops. I see in her the likes of Natalie Portman, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Sally Field. With just a touch of Jack Nicholson.

Lawrence can be dropped into any film and increase its value by being there.

Passengers was a remarkably sub par film that I was able to endure because of her prowess.

Mother! — one of the most polarizing films of the last decade — was enriched by her on-screen magic.

And now, Red Sparrow, a film that promises intrigue and espionage and delivers next to nothing, is saved merely by her presence.

When Prima Ballerina Dominika Egorova’s (Lawrence) dance career is cut short, her life is turned upside down in short order. To care for her ailing mother, Dominika takes on a sort of assignment from her Uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts) who promises that she’ll get everything she needs upon completion of this task.

Dominika is sent off to Sparrow School wherein she will learn the ability to manipulate people using her body. Dominika takes on various identities while attempting to get close to CIA agent, Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton). When she learns that Nate spends his afternoons at the pool swimming laps, Dominika decides to catch his eye by dying her hair.

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Ladies and gentlemen, the movies often ask us to suspend our disbelief. That said, watching her character — who has long, chocolate locks — walks into a drug store and picks up one box of blonde hair dye.

One box.

Even if she’d purchased eight boxes, you don’t go from dark brown to blonde from a box.

THEN.

Then, she goes to the pool with her newly natural-looking lighter shade and dives into a chlorinated pool. In real life, her freshly colored tresses would have turned GREEN.

I had several problems with Red Sparrow, but that one was at the top of the list. One of the greatest struggles Sparrow faces is its quest to be a forward-thinking masterpiece in regard to the empowerment of women. Lawrence’s lead is a very strong woman, indeed. The film falls flat, however, in attempting to follow too many plot lines.

I’m also not on board with the fact that our “leading lady” is to be the hero — in a way — but Nate the white American sort of steals her thunder. But isn’t that just the way of the world?

The film is flawed at best, but Lawrence performs brilliantly, giving us a sort of light at the end of the tunnel.

I normally would never post any kind of spoiler in a review of a film, but I would be remiss to omit the detail that there is a rather jarring sexual assault scene in this movie.

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For director Francis Lawrence — no relation to Jennifer — this film appears to be new territory as his previous projects were the Hunger Games films, Water for Elephants, and music videos featuring Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Britney Spears. Perhaps the film’s lesson in letting go might apply to him, as well.

 

 

 

Black Panther

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a fair weather Marvel fan; the more buzz surrounding the newest one, the more I’m inclined to get up at 4a to see the 6a show in IMAX. Historically, the trailers of these movies have been mainly comprised of white men — Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Thor, Captain America — and the occasional woman.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I saw the Black Panther trailer jam-packed with striking men and women of color.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the movie we need right now. For a myriad of reasons, this is the two-hour escape that we’ve been begging for, and it’s finally here.

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Following the death of his father, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his African nation of Wakanda. Hiding from the rest of the world, Wakanda is thought to be a third world country, when in fact, it is akin to a divine utopia. Returning to Wakanda as well is T’Challa’s former flame, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). An operative of Dora Milaje — a special forces team that is made up of exclusively women — Nakia has come back to see T’Challa crowned the new king.

Waiting to receive him in Wakanda are his mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright). With them, head of the Dora Milaje — Okoye (Danai Gurira) will look on as the new king takes his rightful place as ruler of Wakanda.

Amid the serenity of his new responsibilites is personal turmoil — disagreements with Nakia regarding what Wakanda should and should not be sharing with struggling countries — and incoming treachery from a rabble-rouser named Klaue (Andy Serkis) and his cohort, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).

While Klaue poses a threat, he doesn’t quite hold a candle to what’s bubbling just beneath the surface in Killmonger. While Klaue has his eye on Wakanda’s abundance of the most sought after metal — or, anti-metal — in the world, vibranium, Killmonger has a much different agenda.

A diplomatic man, T’Challa takes on the power of the Black Panther to defend his people while acting in Wakanda’s best interests. He struggles to find his voice as a king, and that wavering may cause him to falter.

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With Okoye faithfully by his side and Shuri — the tech genius of Wakanda — whipping up wild and fantastic new gadgets for her brother in her lab, nothing can prepare them for what’s coming.

I wish I could offer insightful comparisons between the film and the comics, but I never did get into this world. What I CAN tell you is that for a Marvel movie, Black Panther blew me away.

That said, as a film in the general sense, Black Panther blew me away.

It is remarkably topical and pragmatic in the delivery of its message. Every move Black Panther makes is deliberate and Director Ryan Coogler lets his voice be heard loud and clear.

A renaissance for the superhero genre, Black Panther breathes new life into the waning phenomenon of the caped crusader ideals laid down by previous franchises. It speaks to the malaise coating every inch of this country and gives reprieve in spades.

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Gratification, I suppose, is the best word to use here. An overwhelming satisfaction fills the theater and there, in the darkness, everyone has been on this journey together and are better for it. Boseman, Kaluuya, Bassett, Jordan, Nyong’o, Wright, and Gurira deliver the desired movie-going experience with flawless, gorgeous, and unstoppable excellence.

Black Panther is powerful and bold, unapologetically saying — in no uncertain terms — what so many are thinking. Speaking eloquently, I can easily say that this movie will leave viewers feeling a deep sense of empowerment and liberation.

Not speaking eloquently, you’re gonna cream your cosplay.

Black Panther is in theaters this weekend and sold out at theaters across the country. I can’t wait to see it again myself — Wakanda forever!

Fifty Shades Freed

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What does this country need right now? A film about two white people who happen to have bottomless wealth? How did this movie happen? Who lost a bet and had to make all three of these things?

I’ve so many questions.

Ladies and gentlemen, Fifty Shades Freed is a movie full of actors who are getting paychecks no matter what.

In this third and hopefully final installment, we open on Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) exchanging vows. A few shots of the reception reveal brief appearances by key characters from the previous chapters, most of whom never to be seen again in Freed. Christian approaches his new wife and whisks her away to start their honeymoon.

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Arriving in one of his Audis at a private airport where a plane is waiting, Ana exclaims, “You OWN this?” to which Christian slyly replies, “WE own this.”

Girl, HOW are you surprised that your billionaire husband owns a plane?

Off to see the most beautiful sights, a painfully saccharine pop song plays over the montage of merriment as The Greys frolic and make out a bunch.

Their fairytale is cut short when a message from back home alerts them to an arson attempt at Grey Enterprises that resulted in stolen files. Immediately identifying a poorly masked Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Ana’s former boss who assaulted her, Anastasia is issued extra security detail.

Later in the film, when Ana’s life is threatened, Sawyer and Prescott (Brant Daughtery and Kirsten Alter, respectively) — Ana’s personal protection — neutralize the threat. Prescott asks Sawyer for something to bind the assailant’s wrists while they wait for the police, but he wasn’t given such equipment. So, these two rough and tumble folks assigned to protect the billionaire’s wife weren’t even given the proper utensils to detain a threat.

This is when Ana offers, “We’ve got something” referring to the arsenal of restraints she and Mr. Grey share. And the theater crowd goes wild!

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With Hyde in custody and Christian leaving town on business to do whatever the hell it is that he does, Anastasia is given explicit instructions to go to work and come straight home.

Cue a text from her BFF, Kate (Eloise Mumford), asking to meet for drinks at the old Bunker Club. Sawyer watches her like a hawk the entire time, and she arrives home safely, but Christian finds out anyway and uses The Red Room of Pain to punish her.

I just want to stop for a second and remind you that someone wrote this in a book, someone else published it, and now it’s a movie.

The rest of the film is rife with sex scenes and jet setting. A getaway to Aspen? Who DOES that anymore? Rich, white people. That’s who.

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Now, kids, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I MUST address one scene in particular. This was the most offensive of the entire film, in my opinion.

Upon arrival at the Aspen house, Christian sits right down at the grand piano and starts playing a tune familiar to my ears. It’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney and Wings. My inner dialog was on its knees, praying that he wouldn’t sing. This was the moment I realized that the filmmakers hate us. All of us. Because he does sing. He sings for what felt like 12 minutes.

I’d checked out at this point.

It’s here that I’d like to mention that I’ve been filling in my coworkers about the film this morning. It wasn’t until moments ago that I was laughing about it with someone when a woman shushed me and said, “I’m gonna see it tomorrow! Don’t say anymore!”

So we really are divided as a nation.

The main take home point for me after seeing this movie was that if this can get made, so can my movie about a man who lives underground and wears a mask made out of brick-like material and his name is Brickface.

Freed has one saving grace, and that is Dakota Johnson. She’s quite good and has delightful comic timing. The soundtrack, however, is akin to drinking bleach, set to music.

The rest is a bit surreal to see conveyed in a serious light on-screen. Someone earnestly made this movie. Someone wrote these words down as Twilight fan-fiction, then someone took those words and turned them into this, and someone took THAT and made THREE full-length feature films.

The moral of the story is — even if your dreams are garbage, you can still see them to fruition in wide release, just in time for Valentine’s Day! Laters, baby.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

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I’d like to shoot you straight, reader; before this latest installment, I’d never seen these kids running mazes. The last time I saw Thomas Brodie-Sangster, he was in love with an American girl in Love, Actually.

And that fella Barry Pepper was running around Vietnam with Mel Gibson in We Were Soldiers last I remember seeing him on the big screen.

I was wary of this movie at first because it was explained to me as another Divergent or Hunger Games.

Reader, the moment I watched Barry Pepper leap from a car that was tethered to a moving train, botch the landing, and pull himself onto the train with what should have been — but were not — shattered ankles, I was all in.

I see movies for suspension of disbelief, and I have never doubted anything more than the fact that the bones in his feet were in tact after that jump.

This review is going to be a bit of a mess because in lieu of watching the first two movies and educating myself, I’m going at this the same way I went for Harry Potter; only seeing the last film of the franchise and reviewing it as such.

Death Cure opens on what I presume are beloved characters that we’re glad to see again, Brenda and Jorge (Rosa Salazar and Giancarlo Esposito, respectively) awaiting instruction via walkie from our hero, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and their other comrade, Frypan (Dexter Darden). I like to think Frypan is the name on his birth certificate.

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Thomas and Vince (Pepper) are fixin’ to hijack a train full of children in chains, none of whom are named Alice that I know of.

One of them, however, is Minho (Ki Hong Lee). From what I gather, Minho is very special to Thomas. I don’t believe a single one of my friends would lift a train car into the sky using an elaborate plan to save me were I in need.

Not. One.

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Anyway, popping up out of the middle of a field, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) runs to aid the mission and the group successfully pulls it off without a hitch. See, they blew up the hitch. The hitch was holding together the train and they used an explosive to destroy it, hence, no hitch.

If you are still reading, I applaud your efforts.

The group, reunited, arrive back at base camp only to find that Minho isn’t among the kids rescued. After there is talk of a city — when all of the remaining cities had supposedly been demolished — Thomas decides that’s where Minho is and that he’s gonna go and collect him.

The only problem is that there is a wall around the city. A WALL. To keep out undesirables. I see what you did there, movie, and I thank you for it.

On the other side of that wall? Teresa (Kaya Scodelario). She was once part of the squad but now holds the title of MAJOR TRAITOR. While her heart is in the right place — wanting to cure the disease plaguing the planet — she still did wrong by the rest of her crew.

Teresa’s… boss?… Ava (Patricia Clarkson) and her unctuous counterpart, Janson (Aidan Gillen) are playing for the same team but their motivations are wildly differing. Before the end, Janson and his Great Clips haircut might just have the last word.

Will the kids find the cure for the pandemic wiping clean every remaining trace of life before it’s too late? Will Thomas and Teresa reconcile? Will Aidan Gillen ever not look like one of the models in the catalogs they give you at Supercuts while you wait?

In all honesty, I had the same experience with this movie that I did with the final Harry Potter. I went in with little knowledge of the preceding films. I had the gist. Fortunately, like Harry Potter, Maze Runner gives the audience a bit of gentle hand-holding for the viewer who is less cultured and refined.

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A bit long, Death Cure keeps a fine pace, only slowing down to explain some crucial plot points. It’s a fun one that I didn’t mind as much as I thought I might and speaks on topical matters far more than I’d anticipated.

Will I watch the first two? Not likely. Do I recommend this one? Yes! Do I think it’s hilarious that on the iMDB page, Director Wes Ball’s four “Known For” movies are the three Maze Runners and the romantic dramedy Beginners? Dear, God, yes.

We’re in a dead zone for movies at the moment and will be until Black Panther, but this is a good one to catch for a bit of action, some laughs, and that delightful boy from Love, Actually all growed up.