Category Archives: Film

Cuz Tony Now We Got Bad Blood: A Captain America: Civil War Primer

Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War opens this weekend, and The Gould Standard brings you a little refresher of the MCU for those who maybe haven’t kept up since Ant-Man came out last July.

There will be very minor plot spoilers in the preview, but nothing that isn’t available in any of the trailers.

There are predictions down at the bottom, and big “POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT” tag there, so you can steer clear.

By the way, here’s Marvel’s official synopsis: 

“Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.”


Getting the Band Back Together:

At the end of Age of Ultron, we see Cap and Widow leading a new team of Avengers. The roster includes War Machine, Falcon, Scarlett Witch, and Vision. Fury is back as the leader of SHIELD, at least at the Avengers compound.


avengers assemble

Fun note – Whedon never filmed Rogers saying “Assemble” in multiple takes, so that Disney couldn’t force him to put the actual line in “Age of Ultron.”


Hawkeye has taken a leave of absence to be with his wife and two three kids, and probably to re-floor the dining room.

Hulk took off in a Quinjet while cloaked, escaping the searches of SHIELD.


How is he saying goodbye to ScarJo as a redhead?

Thor took off back to Asgard (with no regard to lawn maintenance) to investigate his vision of Hel and the deaths of his people.

And if you’ll remember at the end of Ant-Man, Michael Pena’s character (Luis) goes through the convoluted story of his buddy saying this fly-ass dope chick who’s into guerrilla journalism talked to Falcon, who’s looking for Ant-Man.

pena ant man 2.gif

He’s more of a neo-cubist guy.

(By the way, I know this is going to sound a little bit racist – and I’m cool with that – but can Luis get a shrinking suit in Ant-Man and the Wasp and his superhero name be “Jumping Bean?”)


At the end of Ant-Man, we see a Hydra rep scurry off with some of Darren Cross’s shrinking particles after the sale of the Yellowjacket suit goes south.

ant man hyrda

Evil dudes are evil

Crossbones (aka Rumlow from Winter Soldier) is seen in the montage of WS burned to a crisp, but in a hospital getting medical attention.


His real name is Frank Grillo, and his character’s name is Brock Rumlow. Both are badass names.

In Agents of Shield, this past week’s episode anti-climactically “cut off the head” of Hydra in a worldwide coordinated attack with the US military.

But Hydra will never truly be wiped out. They’re like COBRA or SPECTRE. Or herpes.

The Unknowns:

In a stinger scene for Winter Soldier, we see Bucky at the Smithsonian, looking at the exhibit about himself in a reflective way. And then in a stinger scene from Ant-Man, we see him captured by Cap and Falcon, with his arm stuck in a vice.


Poor Bucky. Cap got your arm?

And someone we haven’t seen since 2008 – General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross returns to the MCU, played brilliantly by William Hurt, reprises his role, but now as Secretary of State. He’s the one who brings the “Sokovia Accords” to the Avengers, causing the titular split in this film.


The mustache returns

The Newcomers

Daniel Brühl enters the MCU as Helmut Zemo, who is curiously absent from the trailers. He’s the main antagonist of the movie, but it’s unclear if he has powers, who he works for, what his motivation is, what his goals are, or who he’s controlling. I’m excited to see those questions answered.


Yes, he was the Nazi hero in Inglorious Basterds.

Chadwick Boseman joins the heroes’ side as Black Panther – real name T’Challa – which apparently has nothing to do with Jewish egg bread. The MCU leading up to this point was ostensibly monochromatic.


Seriously, how badass is this costume?

And then there’s Tom Holland as Spider-man. This is a moment Marvel fans have hungered for since Tony Stark showed up at the end of The Incredible Hulk, and fans realized that these movies were intertwined and part of a greater universe.


No snarky comment here. This is amazing. It’s his homecoming. 

The Predictions – POSSIBLE SPOILERS!

Disclaimer – no, I have not read any reviews with spoilers.

  • There will be bad blood.
bad blood

T-Swift gonna get jelly. 

  • We find out that Bucky is responsible for the deaths of both T’Challa’s father and Tony Stark’s parents.

  • We will see Ant-Man turn into Giant Man.
  • Zemo is controlling/constructing something that ends up being some form of MODOK, which is why the Civil War will end and the two sides come back together. Or maybe Ross is Red Hulk. But that’s less likely.

  • Peggy Carter dies. She was last seen in Winter Soldier, aged, bedridden, and seemingly suffering from Alzheimer’s. Cap needs an emotional gut punch.

  • Steve Rogers dies.  Notice I didn’t say Captain America dies. Bucky picks up the shield, protects Iron Man from something (thus gaining his trust – finally) and fights the rest of the movie as Cap. But Steve Rogers will be back for Infinity War: Part 1.

  • Despite what the trailer apparently shows, I don’t think Rhodey/War-Machine dies.

  • Spider-man is perfect. Kevin Feige (the creative head honcho for the MCU) wouldn’t make the negotiation to get him into the MCU without making sure he doesn’t disappoint Sony, Spider-man fans and the MCU fans.

  • Ant-man and Spider-man get into a one-liner battle.

  • Two stinger scenes – one for Dr. Strange for sure, and the 2nd will either Thanos doing something again, or the whereabouts of Hulk after his Quinjet crashed down, leading to Thor: Ragnarok.

What are you most looking forward to? What predictions do you have?

Sound off in the comments!



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5 Possibilities of Who Luke Skywalker is Mourning at the End of “The Force Awakens.”

About a week ago, I had a chance to see “The Force Awakens” for a third time, this time in glorious IMAX at the Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History. 

Holy Poodoo, it was amazing and intense. But the entire IMAX review will wait for another day.

In my second viewing, I noticed something at the end of “The Force Awakens” when Rey walks upon Luke.

Luke is standing next to a gravestone.

(please forgive the quality of the images)


“But Michael, it could just be a weird random stone sticking out of the side of the cliff!

No, faithful reader, it’s not. Everything put into a film of this magnitude is meticulously done. It’s in there because Abrams wanted it in there.

Here’s a reversed view:


Does it look like Luke is looking at the gravestone? Kind of. Angles are weird. At the very least, he’s near it.

So the point of me mentioning the IMAX screening is because I got the clearest view of what’s in front of the stone – a protruding clump of dirt. It was clear as day on the IMAX screen.

Here’s a low-res image (and I apologize for not taking a picture inside the IMAX screening. I’m not a complete Rancor).


The clump doesn’t look very big – maybe the size of a basketball if it was more elliptical?

Let’s look at the 5 candidates of who Luke is mourning.

1. Han Solo

He died in the film (spoiler alert!) and Leia could feel it across a hyper-space trip. Surely Luke felt it too.

2. Anakin/Darth Vader

I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing Kylo Ren had Darth Vader’s helmet because Luke had it, and stole it from him after turning to the Dark Side. Anakin/Vader saved Luke, and maybe Luke wants to keep some kind of memorial/reminder for that?

3. Ben Solo

Kylo Ren told his father that Ben Solo was dead – that he was weak. Obi-Wan told us that Vader betrayed and murdered Anakin. Perhaps it’s some symbolic item of Ben’s that Luke is symbolically burying.

4. His Wife/Girlfriend/Intergalactic Baby-Mama

This possibility is contingent on Luke having a child. Could be Rey, or hell, it could be Finn. But it would be reasonable to think someone Luke loved would get a memorial.

5. Something Symbolic

A popular theory is that Rey was also training to be a Jedi (and Luke’s daughter), and that Luke could sense what would happen with Ben. So Luke erased Rey’s memory, sent her off to a sandy planet to protect her, (remember, Anakin doesn’t like sand), and Rey lost her connection to the Force. And Luke lost his connection with her. A symbolic loss, thinking he’d never see her again?

Or it could be a monument to the younglings Kylo Ren killed.

Maybe a monument to the Jedi itself, since Luke was the last Jedi and failed in training his most gifted padawan, isolating himself, resigned to possibly live out his days.


Did you notice the stone in the film too? Who do you think it’s for?

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Let’s Talk about Star Wars, Baby…

Caution: Spoilers Below!

It’s now “been” two weeks since Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released and while it hasn’t been a 1000 year Sarlaac digestion, there’s been enough time to sift through the rumors and theories and we have a discussion.

First, 3 things I liked/loved

Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron’s Introductions

In the opening scene, after Poe gets the map piece from from Lor San Tekka, we see Ren, Phasma, and a squad take over the village. Poe, from cover, fires a blaster rifle bolt towards Ren, who stops the fucking bolt mid-air, and keeps it there, with The Force. 

This is a power we hadn’t seen before in the 6 previous films (cartoon canon is out of my realm of nerd-knowledge), and it immediately presents us with an incredibly powerful Force user. We know nothing about Ren at that point. It sets the audience up with a powerful, mysterious villain. Which, after the Slooooooooowwwwwwwwww burn that was Palpatine in EPS 1-3, was refreshing. He also has the cognizance to sense doubt and confusion in Finn’s mind among dozens of troopers/villagers there.

And then we come to Poe. He’s captured, and brought before Ren, and the first line he says to the villain is “So who talks first, do I talk first?”

And the audience laughs.

And instantly, there’s a tone shift from the prequels. Lucas tried to be humorous in the prequels with slapstick (Jar Jar), poop jokes (Bantha poodoo!), and C-3PO’s obnoxiousness.

Abrams gives us some sly sarcasm dripping in charisma and confidence in a way only Oscar Isaac can present.

A Strong Female Character

With one line (don’t let the Beatles know), about 20 minutes into the movie, Rey instantly becomes the strongest female character in 6 movies. The most socially influential film series ever needed a strong female character for a new generation. And we got one.

She has moments of independence, doubt, strength, kicking ass, and going on an emotional journey – and not in a “female” way. I mean she’s waiting for her family, and when she touches Anakin’s lightsaber, her mind is flooded with ghosts of the past. And despite her previous showings of resolve, she flees into the forest. She’s human.

Kylo Ren’s Petulance

Some have said that Ren’s “whiny fits” of twice lightsabering the shit out of control panels is whiny angsty behavior not suitable for the Star Wars universe.

I disagree.

Anakin/Vader flat out kills people when he gets pissed off.

A New Hope (2):

  • Physically chokes the guy in the ship Leia is on when he asks “where is the ambassador?
  • Force Chokes dude who questions “The Force”

Empire (2):

  • Force Chokes the admiral coming out of hyperspace into Hoth and the Captain who “apologizes” for losing the Falcon.

ROTJ (1):

  • Strangely, just The Emperor

Attack of the Clones:

  • The entire village of Sand people. Let’s call that 30?

No, i’m not counting those in the Jedi Temple (won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?!?!?!?!)

So Vader/Anakin, when pissed off, kills people. Ren destroys shit.

What I didn’t like as much


Finn is here only because we don’t know how he fits into this universe. He doesn’t fit any archetype from the known universe, which is fine. But taking his character as it’s presented, he is a plot device that progresses the story. He mutinies. He has a crush on Rey that leads them to the Falcon and some out-of-place-in-the-universe dialogue – ie “You got a boyfriend, a cute boyfriend, that you make out with?”

*Finn is more of an “incomplete” than a “dislike,” but it’s a sliding scale.

Starkiller Base

It wasn’t until about 2/3 (at least) of the way through the movie we get a hint of what Starkiller Base is, or what it can do. We’re supposed to be intimidated by a hologram? Yeah, it’s bigger, so what?

The Death Star blew up a planet in the same system like it was nothing.

The Starkiller base could what, blow up 5 at once from further away by draining the energy of a star? Wouldn’t that cause more destructive repercussions than blowing up a planet? You’d be affecting light, heat, and gravity for dozens of planets, if not more.

Oh – and I really didn’t like the “oh they have fractal shield harmonics and the only way we can get through them is by going into hyperspace and pulling out just in time” line, but then just showing us crashing into snow. I get it, they need a way to get in without adding 10-15 minutes to the run time, but it was a cop-out.

Too Much Ambiguity

Elements of backstory presented in A New Hope:

  • Obi-Wan trained Vader (who was a Jedi before he turned), knew Luke’s father, and was watching over Luke.
  • Han was a smuggler
  • Leia was a part of the Galactic government and loyal to the Rebellion

What questions did people have after A New Hope? Who is Luke’s father? Does Han stay with the rebellion? Where does Vader go? How did Vader get turned to the Dark side and why did he kill Luke’s Father?

That’s 4 questions. I’m sure there are more.

But after The Force Awakens, here are the questions I’m left asking:

  • How does Lor San Tekka fit into the whole story? (If he’s a one-off character, then they wasted a tremendous talent in Max von Sydow)
  • Who left Rey on Jakku and why?
  • How did Kylo Ren get turned to the Dark side?
  • What happened to Finn’s family?
  • How did Maz Kanata get Anakin’s lightsaber? (and she literally tells everyone “that’s a story for another time)
  • How did Kylo Ren get Vader’s helmet?
  • What does Kylo Ren want to finish what Vader started? Balance to the Force? Keeping someone from dying? Becoming the greatest of all the Jedi? Resurrect grandma?
  • Was it just a coincidence that the Falcon was abandoned on Jakku?
  • Who is Rey related to?
  • What is Snoke’s role? He has a force-sensitive apprentice (they never say Sith) and a General who are both trying to appease him. Why?

Clearly they have a story to tell over three movies, whereas A New Hope was supposed to stand on its own. I get that. But the only closure on rumor we have is that Kylo Ren is actually Ben Solo and was somehow corrupted by Snoke, turned against Luke, and joined the First Order.

I’m closing in on 1,100 words. Theories and predictions will have to wait for another post.


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Kingsman: Don’t Do it a Disservice

Matthew Vaughn is a talented sonofabitch.

In the last 10 years, he’s written, directed, or produced 8 films.

Here’s the Rotten Tomatoes ratings of those 8 films:

Layer Cake (2005) – 81%

Stardust (2007) – 76%

Harry Brown (2010) – 64%

Kick-Ass (2010) – 76%

X-Men: First Class (2011) – 87%

The Debt (2011) – 77%

Kick-Ass 2 (2013) – 22% (there were more issues with this movie than just him producing)

X-Men: Days of Future Past – (91%)

He’s also married to Claudia Schiffer.

Basically, I’m trying to say that Matthew Vaughn only commits himself to quality projects.

And Kingsman: The Secret Service is no exception.

Simply put, this is a fantastic movie. It’s a blast to watch that’s half 1970’s Roger Moore Bond film, half Kick-Ass (in that it’s gratuitously violent and self-aware of the genre it’s ripping off).

The cast is flawless, with a trim and cut Colin Firth as the Roger Moore foil (and in another reality, should be James Bond), Michael Caine as the proverbial “M” leader of the service, Mark Strong as the “Q” techie/gear character, and Samuel L. Jackson as the tech genius/billionaire/villain.  Newcomer Taron Egerton plays the spy-in-training, and portrays his character very well – in both phases. He starts off as a Chav in a dingy part of London with a chip on his shoulder. What’s a Chav? This is a Chav:

By the end of the film he’s a full blown debonair spy with hair that never gets messed up, has a silver tongue, and proficient with every type of weapon ever invented.

But this movie is about Colin Firth. He oozes the suaveness a gentlemen spy requires, yet goes full-blown badass so well that Daniel Craig’s Bond would be quivering in his knickers. Seriously – check out this 55 year old piece of man-meat:

Without giving anything away, let me just say I’ll never be able to listen to “Freebird” the same way ever again. And I’ve never seen such a beautifully choreographed, yet ridiculously violent fight scene on film. It’s also a good 3-4 minutes long of non-stop brutality. Just when you think it’s gone too far, it pushes another limit. And that’s what Matthew Vaughn does best.

Without giving away too much, here are some thoughts/observations in list form:

– Vaughn loves the unlisted cameos. In Stardust it was Robert De Niro. In X Men: First Class it was Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn. And in Kingsman it’s a certain former Jedi.

– This film is all about homages, but not just to Bond films. When Eggsy (Egerton’s character) infiltrates Valentine’s (Jackson’s character) lair, there’s a first-person shooter point-of-view shot this is lifted directly from Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass (and I apologize for all of the hyphens in that sentence). Eggsy also dances along the walls of a narrow corridor, drives a weapon into a bad guy, and looks right at the camera, just like Hit-Girl. And I don’t quite know how to describe it, but there’s a James Bond style chime when Eggsy fights Gazelle. It made me swoon.

– Henry Jackman’s score is fantastic and rips off the Bond theme a couple of times.

– Vaughn’s use of music throughout is fantastic – just like in all of his films. He’s like Tarantino in that he uses songs in non-traditional ways.

– Gazelle is a badass henchman with a weird weapon a la Jaws or OddJob.

– Most villains have some kind of physical/facial deformity. Samuel L. Jackson’s villain has a lisp. It’s brilliant.

– Puppies!

– There are some clunky exposition lines that seem really far-fetched early on, but once you accept that this universe is self-aware of James Bond movies, you’ll get over it.

TL;DR: If your female significant other wants to see Fifty Shades of Grey Valentine’s day weekend, go see this instead.


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October 2014 movie guide – what to see, what to avoid, and what the eff?

October is an interesting time of year in the film industry. The summer blockbuster hangover is over, but Oscar season isn’t quite ready to bombard us with biopics, period pieces, or Benedict Cumberbatch.

October is where studios release movies they think might have a chance to do well, but will fade into obscurity if they don’t. And horror movies. Because, you know, Halloween.

For comparison’s sake, let’s look at what came out nationwide in October 2013:

Films that were questionable on release and did really well:

Captain Phillips
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Yeah, I liked it. Doing the Jackass-style pranks/dares in the guise of an actual movie was a solidly done permanent)

Films that were questionable that flopped:

Runner Runner (If they’d made this in 2006 when online poker was still a big thing, it would not have failed so miserably)
The Fifth Estate (Remember this? Cumberbatch as Julian Assange? Yeah, I didn’t either)
The Counselor (Such a great cast. Too bad it didn’t come together)

Generic Horror:

Carrie (It apparently was a slow year for Halloween-related horror)

So as you can see, October is a mixed bag of mostly dramas that you’ve got a 50% chance of being good – for nationwide releases.

Are you wondering what you should see in theaters this October?

I’ve got thoughts on 6 films releasing in October. Two I’ll definitely be seeing, two I won’t be seeing, and two that I’m not sold on yet.

Two to view:

Gone Girl

Ben Affleck. David Fincher (the director of Se7en, The Social Network, House of Cards, etc.).Neil Patrick Harris in a serious role. The vastly underrated Rosamund Pike. Tyler Perry not playing an overweight, sassy woman. This film is loaded with exceptional talent. It touches on subjects that are all-too-real in 2014 America. The monotony of suburban life. The media frenzy when a white woman disappears. Then secrets unravel for a husband and wife who’ve drifted apart. All under the guise of a “whodunneit” (Affleck and Pike play Nick and Amy Dunne. It’s a pun).

Prediction: I think this will be much like 2013’s “Prisoners.” It will be regarded as a very well-done, provoking film, but ultimately forgotten when it comes to Oscars (Prisoners was only nominated for a single Oscar). But that doesn’t diminish what the final product will be. I’m going to see it mostly for NPH and to see Affleck as a smarmy husband whose guilt is in question the entire film.


I’m still not sure what the hell this movie is about. All I know is the trailer ends with Michael Keaton wrestling Edward Norton – who is wearing some kind of fancy male underwear.

Ok, so I know a little bit. It’s a dark comedy from the director of “Babel” and “21 grams” with Keaton playing a washed-up former action movie star (Birdman was his character) who’s coming to terms with the end of his career. And appears to hallucinate. Or at the very least, daydream (there’s lots of weird images in the trailer)

Prediction: “Birdman” will end up being described as “The Wrestler” meets “Black Swan” crossed with a black comedy. There’s too much talent here (Keaton, Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone) to think this will flop. The Oscars usually shy away from comedies – even dark comedies – but I could see a nomination or two coming from Birdman

Two films I won’t even

(that’s right, I went white-girl “can’t even” on you)


I’m sorry, but I can’t take a serious approach to a hardened WWII movie that is A) completely fictional, and B) has Shia Lebouf in it. That’s right – this is a 100% fictional story set during World War II. Which means you’ll see “a rag tag group of scrappy newcomers under the leadership of the grizzled veteran take on the Nazis behind enemy lines against impossible odds.”

Sounds ridiculous and formulaic, right?

“Outnumbered and outgunned, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany”

That’s from Sony’s synopsis.


Left Behind

Nicholas Cage in a re-make of a Kirk Cameron  Rapture propaganda film.

Here’s the trailer:

Yup, I called it propaganda. This, and other films like it (The Identical, Heaven is for Real) aren’t made for the masses to enjoy. They have a target audience and a religious message to get across. These kinds of films offer very little philosophical or cultural influence on the Zeitgeist. They’re just different movies with the same message every time, “Only with God is anything possible.”

People go to films to be entertained. To see stories that pull you on an emotional arc. To offer a harsh truth about humanity.

Left Behind is a 2 hour sermon. If that’s what you want from your films, then go for it. These films aren’t made for the average movie-going fan, and that’s why they fail at the box office.

If you want to see some serious thought-provoking shit about a rapture-like event? Check out HBO’s “The Leftovers”

Bonus “won’t even”


This is the creepy doll from my grandmother’s house. I assume many harvested souls are stored within its 1950’s plastic body. My brother and I would take this doll, throw it in the closet, stack about a dozen heavy coats on top of it, and lock it away for the duration of our visits.

Creepy doll from my grandmother's house.

Creepy doll from my grandmother’s house.

This is the creepy doll from “Annabelle.”


No fucking way man, no fucking way.


Two films I’m still not sure about

 John Wick

Keanu Reeves as a former hit-man who comes out of retirement because the Russian mob killed his beagle puppy?

When did studios start reading my fan fiction?

First-time director and long-time Hollywood stuntman Chad Stahelski brings us a re-stylized version of the “hit-man/mafia” genre, with what looks to be some dark comedy aspects, as well as possibly poking fun at the genre itself.  It looks decent enough, but also looks trite and full of cliches. Which is great if it’s meta. But we won’t know that until reviews come in.

Here’s the trailer:



No, Kurt Wagner is not getting an X-Men Spin-off. This looks to be a rather twisted venture into the world of “as it happens” journalism – starring Jake Gyllenhall. The trailer doesn’t offer much in terms of deep plot details, but it will be interesting to see which route they take – does Gyllenhall’s character get caught up in some kind of bigger crime ring? Or does he start committing/instigating crimes so he can report on them?

At the very least, it looks like an interesting character study set against the background of cutthroat, gotta-have-it-first journalism.

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Second Chance Cinema – Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Before watching ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’ earlier this year on Amazon Prime, the only exposure I’d gotten of it were horrible TV spots and this trailer:

The trailer left an awful taste in my mouth, worse than gingerbread drywall ever could. My first thoughts were “What the fuck – another ‘re-imagined’ fairy tale? Jeremy Renner’s getting a paycheck, Famke Jansen is desperate for roles, and this is just another Hollywood crap-fest some studio threw against the wall and hopes it will stick to the teeny-bopper Twilight crowd.”

Oh – and the TV spots had horrible puns as taglines that turned me off – such as “Revenge is sweeter than candy,” and “The Fairy Tale grows up.” – Super lame.

Also working against it was a late-January theater release date. January and February is where films go to die – usually (Thankfully ‘The Lego Movie’ was an exception to that). That release date made me think the studios didn’t think enough of it, but had to release it anyways.

But here’s the hard data – The ratings on Rotten Tomatoes are abysmal. 15% of critics liked it. But I kept seeing posts on Reddit about how it wasn’t that bad. It has a 6.1 rating on IMDB. So I went and looked at the Wikipedia page for Hansel and Gretel. And here’s some of the biggest factors I found that would have pushed me to see this had I known about them:

It’s rated Fucking-R! There’s gore, there’s swearing, there’s T&A! (If you go back and watch the full trailer, it never mentions that the film is rated-R. That should have been a HUGE selling point).

– Produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Had I known this, I would have expected it to be funnier than the trailers show.

– It’s a “hindsight is 20/20” thing, but the film MADE OVER FOUR TIMES ITS BUDGET BACK, mostly from a strong overseas performance ($50m budget vs. $225m box office). A sequel is in very early stages of pre-production. For comparison’s sake, Van Helsing made less than twice its budget back ($160m vs. $300m box office)  and Jack the Giant Slayer (which was released just a month after HAG:WH) made less than its original budget ($200m vs. $197m box office). 

  Those points aside, here’s why you should give ‘Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters’ a chance.

It’s a dark parody of other fairy tale “re-brands.” The hero in these kinds of stories always has some kind of flaw that makes him not-so-invincible, and in this case, it’s that Jeremy Renner’s Hansel has “the sugar sickness” from his forced feedings at the witch’s house when he was a child. So yes, he has diabetes. The writers also weren’t striving for accuracy, as most of the characters have indistinguishable accents and speak using very modern vernacular. The film also doesn’t take itself too seriously, a la ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ or ’21 Jump Street.’

The puppetry, make up, and practical effects. Where other films in the genre (see ‘Van Helsing’ and ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’) go full-on CGI, director Tommy Wirkola opted for practical effects and puppet creatures that at least come close to Jim Henson’s work.

This is a muppet-style puppetry creature

This is a muppet-style puppetry creature, not CGI.

Here’s Famke Jansen’s makeup as the Witch Queen: HanselGretel_Famke-Janssen









And if you’ve got a few minutes, watch this behind-the-scenes video that shows a whole lot more than I can write here.


And finally, it’s not that long of an investment. There are two cuts of the movie, and the one on Amazon Prime checks in at a svelte 88 minutes (the “uncut” version has 11 extra minutes of footage that is more gruesome, and in one case, a lot darker). It’s a well-paced, fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Is it high art cinema? Not at all. But sometimes that’s not what we’re looking for. This is a diamond in the rough. Or at the very least, a lollipop after a salad.


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Snowpiercer – the movie no one is talking about because the studio thought you were too dumb

Snowpiercer will hit limited theaters in about a month (June 27th), and you probably won’t see many ads for it, despite starring Chris Evans and being one of the most popular films in Korean history.

Here’s the most recent trailer – released today.

It’s a Korean-made sci-fi dystopian film about how global warming has ushered in a new Ice Age and Earth’s only survivors live on the train the Snowpiercer, powered by a perpetual-motion engine. Eventually, a class system develops and a revolution starts brewing.

Yup, it sounds like Elysium or The Hunger Games. But it’s based on a French novel and adapted by accomplished Korean director Bong Joon-ho.Click the link, see his awards. Dude’s got talent.

But it’s Joon-ho’s first English-language film, and that caused some problems. The Weinstein company acquired the distribution rights, and wanted to cut 20 minutes from the Korean theatrical cut. From Screen Rant, 

“Apparently the scenes that are to be removed are primarily ones that flesh out the characters’ backgrounds and development, and by getting rid of them, Snowpiercerwill come across more as a pure action movie than a drama. The goal, said TWC (The Weinstein Company) when explaining the request to Bong, is to make sure his film “will be understood by audiences in Iowa… and Oklahoma.””

Fortunately The Weinstein Company came to their senses and decided to leave the cut as-is. But they are only limiting it to select theaters (your Angelika theaters and the like).

The reviews of the film are phenomenal. Please keep this movie in the back of your mind when it comes out. Please see it and show The Weinstein Company that you don’t need a foreign film dumbed down to enjoy it.

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