film review

Thor: Ragnarok Non-Spoiler Review!

Thor: Ragnarok Non-Spoiler Review!

Written by Jason Brigger

Director: Taika Waititi
Writers: Eric Pearson and Craig Kyle
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett

Standalone Thor films have never really received the love that most other Avengers’ solo films receive and with good reason as the films, up to now, have been either been boring (original Thor) or pretty to watch but ultimately forgettable (Thor: The Dark World). Thor: Ragnarok opens in North America November 3, 2017 and hopes to change that by taking a new approach by using comedy to liven up the forgettable film series.

This time, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must not only tangle with his mischievous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), but also Hela, the God of Death (Cate Blanchett) as she tries to continue what Odin (Anthony Hopkins) stopped her from doing centuries ago, rule the universe. Along the way, Thor must also escape a planet run by the creepy but fun dictator Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and recruit a team of heroes looking for purpose and revenge. If this sounds a little like Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s because it is. More

Spider-Man: Homecoming Non-Spoiler Review!

Spider-Man: Homecoming Non-Spoiler Review!

Written by Jason Brigger

Director: Jon Watts

Writers: Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., and Marisa Tomei

After a Spider-Man trilogy that hasn’t aged well in light of the newer superhero films, and after a failed reboot by Sony that included two lackluster films (to put it gently), Sony has teamed up with Marvel to make the Spider-Man film that fans have been wanting for decades.

This time, Tom Holland takes up the web as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, a teenager trying to juggle his life as a teenager and as the newest New York superhero.  Parker wants nothing more than to be the next member of the Avengers and under the watchful eye of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), he’s well on his way to the being the best friendly neighborhood Spider-Man until Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) sets New York in his sight.

After losing his salvage company’s contract cleaning up disaster areas to Stark’s new company, Damage Control, Toomes decides to use alien technology as weapons to sell to the criminal element of New York City.  Spider-Man, after waiting patiently to be Stark’s new protégé, decides to take matters into his own hands and stop Toomes/Vulture on his own, much to Stark’s protest.

The Good:

No Uncle Ben backstory.  After five previous films, the general audience understands why Parker does what he does and finally the writers realize not to waste time rehashing a story that has been told too many times. Thank you, Mr. Goldstein and Mr. Daley.

-Super-villain cameos.  I won’t spoil the surprises but Spider-Man actually fights numerous villains from the comic books and not just nameless thugs.  Fans of the comics will enjoy seeing some lesser known villains get the film treatment and while they may not be more than just filler for Spider-Man to wrestle with, the audience gets to see some fresh faces.

-New York City.  Jon Watts directs a film that, much like the comic books, makes New York City a living, breathing character as much as Spider-Man.  Watts makes New York City feel alive with real people and not just stock caricatures that the previous films accomplished.  When Spider-Man swings past buildings, it feels like he knows every nook in the city and actually loves and wants to protect New York.

-Tom Holland. Tobey Maguire helped make the cinematic Spider-Man famous but lacked in authenticity when it came to Parker.  Andrew Garfield nailed the persona of Parker but couldn’t figure out the authenticity of Spider-Man. Holland brings the complete package to the role and future actors in this role will be compared to Holland.

Holland pins down the insecure teenage angst of Parker but brings the still-learning but humorous Spider-Man persona to the superhero.  Holland has great repertoire as the nephew of Aunt May (Marissa Tomei) and he is confident in his scenes with the veteran Downey. Holland may not have been a household name before this film but after Homecoming, everyone will realize he is Spider-Man.

The Bad:


The Middling:

-Aunt May.  It’s not that Tomei does not fit the typical Aunt May-type.  It’s that the film doesn’t give anything for Aunt May to do and despite Tomei doing an admirable job, there just isn’t a chance to spread her wings with this character.  The one redeeming part for Tomei is that she gets the funniest line in the whole film.

-The Vulture.  Keaton does a fun and at times, great job as Toomes/Vulture but this is more about the writers “telling and not showing” why he does what he does.  Toomes states a few times that he sells weapons to criminals to support his and his co-workers’ family, and while admirable in a deranged way, that is about as far as his motivation gets in the film.  This motivation is not helped by a small, surprising twist later in the film that feels more forced and included just for shock value rather than for an actual poignant plot twist. We don’t meet Toomes’ family till the final act and by that point, too much time has passed for the audience to care about his motivations.

Final Grade: B (Good but the future of this franchise looks great)

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the Spider-Man film that Sony should have made years ago.  Despite taking too long to reach an agreement with Marvel, Sony eventually did the right thing and Spider-Man is where he belongs, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This film is fun from the start and despite a few small hiccups, everyone from kids to adults will enjoy the reboot that actually gets it right.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every Wednesday at or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps.  You can listen to their latest episode right here:

The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 Film Review (Non-Spoiler!)

The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 Film Review (Non-Spoiler!)

Written by Jason Brigger

Director: James Gunn

Writers: James Gunn and Dan Abnett

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper (voice), and Vin Diesel (voice)

The rag-tag crew of the Milano is back as Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 blasts its way into theaters this weekend and fans of the original will not be disappointed in this fun sequel.

Guardians continues the team’s adventures throughout the galaxy but this time Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his merry crew are caught off-guard when Quill’s dad, Ego (Kurt Russell), finds Quill after decades of searching for his son that he abandoned on Earth.  Despite Quill’s excitement and new relationship with his father, not everything is on the “up and up” with Ego as plans for universal domination is in the mix and the Guardians are the only ones that can stop his madness and save the galaxy…again.

Quill and his crew not only have to battle Ego but along the way, the Guardians are More

Kong: Skull Island Non-Spoiler Review!

Kong: Skull Island Non-Spoiler Review!

Written by Jason Brigger

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Writers: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, and John Gatins

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and Brie Larson

Kong: Skull Island marks the triumphant return of King Kong to the theater for the first time since 2005 when Peter Jackson thought it was a good idea for a giant ape to ice skate with a damsel in distress, much to the chagrin of critics and audiences everywhere.  This Kong doesn’t have time for ice skating or long walks around New York City because he’s got to protect his home from underground lizard hybrids, birds that can saw a man in half and even humans who feel Kong would look good over their mantle.

Kong: Skull Island is set in the year 1973, or more accurately the very day that America was pulling out from the Vietnam War, and the last chance for secretive agency of Monarch (from Godzilla) and scientist Bill Randa (John Goodman) to talk the U.S. government into a “mapping and navigation” mission on an uncharted and until just recently, unknown island in the South Pacific.  Randa recruits a tracker named James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and military leader Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and his fellow soldiers to complete his mission but unknown to everyone but Randa, a giant ape has other plans.  After Kong strikes down every helicopter in the squad, the survivors must navigate the dangers of the island to reach their rendezvous point in three days to get off a literal Hell on Earth.

The Good: More

X-Men: Apocalypse Non-Spoiler Film Review!

Written by Jason Brigger

Director: Bryan Singer

Writers: Simon Kinberg and Bryan Singer

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Oscar Isaac

X-Men: Apocalypse storms (see what I did there?) into theaters this Friday, May 27 and attempts to right the timeline that was left a muddied mess after the X-Men: Days of Future Past film.

Bryan Singer returns to the directing chair once again and as the architect for the X-Men universe, his attempt to streamline the franchise has only made it more confusing. It might be an overload of sub-par superhero films recently, minus the latest Captain America film, or it just might be the lack of good X-men films but X-Men: Apocalypse is a boring, bloated mess that is just a grade above Days of Future Past in terms of quality.

The non-spoiler plot focuses on the ancient and all-powerful mutant, En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) awaking in 1983, after his world takeover plot in ancient Egypt failed, and hoping that his supreme ruling of the planet will actually succeed in the decade of commercialism and bad hairstyles. Apocalypse recruits a new group of Four Horsemen to help lead the charge in destroying the world and it’s up to the X-Men, a group of new mutant teenagers that Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) reluctantly leads to stop Apocalypse from completing his dream for a miserable future.

If this plot sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a similar plot device that has been used in every other recent ensemble superhero film. There is nothing new in X-Men: Apocalypse that the audience hasn’t seen before including another slow motion extended scene with the speedster Quicksilver (Evan Peters) or a story arch for Magneto (Michael Fassbender) that has been repeated in the last three X-Men films.

The Good:

-The Cameo. This reviewer won’t spoil who the cameo is, despite the trailer trying to do that, but fans of all types will enjoy seeing a five-minute action scene with him/her in it and the destruction left behind.

-The Easter Eggs and Callbacks. Singer did a wonderful job with the little touches the film quietly references to the diehard fans. Blink and you’ll miss the Blob (Gustav Claude Ouimet) fighting Angel (Ben Hardy), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) raging out and even a certain super-villain showing up in the after credits scene. Singer also does a good job calling back to earlier hints in the film, including Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) fighting Angel in the beginning of the film and again having them search for each other out at the end to determine the real winner of their battle.

The Bad:

Magneto’s Story Arch. As explained above, Magneto’s story arch has been on repeat since X-Men: First Class. He has started every film as a good guy, then through a misunderstanding, becomes a villain and then through remembering his past with Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), he reverts to being a hero just in enough time to save the day. Unfortunately, nothing changes this cycle in X-Men: Apocalypse.

The Middling:

-The New Cast of Characters. If Fox Studios and Singer wanted us to forget about the cast from the original X-Men trilogy, this film serves the purpose. Kodi Smit-McPhee steals the show with a stellar performance as the transporting Nightcrawler and despite not having too much to work with in terms of story, Alexandra Shipp does a good job as the weather-controlling Storm.

The downside is with so many characters in the film, not all get a chance to shine as the majority of the Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen stand around and just try to look intimidating while other characters look downright bored; I’m looking at you Jennifer Lawrence. If Fox Studios could explain why Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) returned after sitting out the last film, I would really like to know as her character is nothing more than a plot device to add humor to the Professor Xavier character. Even the usually good actress Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan struggle saying their lines convincingly.

Final Grade: C

It’s not that X-Men: Apocalypse is a bad film; it’s just an average, boring film. In the first five months of 2016 fans of the comic book genre have seen one horrible film (Batman v. Superman), one good film (Captain America: Civil War) and one average film (Apocalypse) and with no constant on the quality of the films, the fans may just be overloaded in this genre. Unlike Marvel Studios films that generate excitement for future films, X-Men: Apocalypse fails in generating any excitement for the next installment in the franchise. I left the theater not caring if the next X-Men film is released in two years or five years from now and that is something that Fox Studios does not want their audience to feel for their only profitable comic book film franchise.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are release on every Wednesday or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps.