Movie Review: Iron Man 2

Details: More information can be found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1228705/ and https://www.disneyplus.com/home

Score: 7/10

A successful sequel should simply do everything that the first movie did, but more. Iron Man 2 does that. It adds more backstory, more character development, more characters and more action and special effects.

Iron Man 2 picks up where the last movie left off. Tony Stark’s mechanized suit and it’s limitless power source is the new most powerful weapon on the planet. Because of its existence, all countries have backed down due to Tony working with the U.S. government and the United States now possessing unrivaled military supremacy because of it. When a new enemy appears who seemingly has developed a suit and power source similar to Tony’s, Tony Stark must now advance his technology even further to defeat this new enemy and maintain the peace established by him and his Iron Man suit.

The same light hearted tone from the first movie is maintained in this one and this film is all the better for it. It’s what most people loved about the last film and Robert Downey Jr.’s performance. There is also plenty of action and there are higher quality special effects and more of them.

The biggest addition to this film is the introduction of Natasha Romanov, or the Black Widow. This is Scarlett Johansson’s first appearance in the Marvel movie universe and the beginning of a long career making these Marvel movies. She’s great and I always wondered why it took so long for her to get her own superhero movie since she’s undoubtedly an A-list actor. I later learned from Bob Iger’s memoir that it was because Ike Perlmutter –a powerful figure in Marvel and then Disney– was a sexist and felt that a woman would not be successful as the lead in a superhero movie (Perlmutter was also a racist and was the reason why a Black Panther movie was not made earlier because he felt that black people –like women generally– could not carry a movie). Thank goodness, Perlmutter has since been put out to pasture.

Overall, this was a fun movie that adds more of everything fans liked in the first movie. It’s not too serious and it should not be. It’s just a fun summer movie with lots of laughs and explosions.

Movie Review: Thor

Details: More information can be found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0800369/ and https://www.disneyplus.com/

Score: 6/10

I recently got my grubby little mitts on a Disney Plus account and it’s been a great opportunity to revisit old Marvel movies that I barely remember. Disney has conveniently laid these movies out in chronological order so that’s the order I’ve been watching them in. First was Iron Man, then Iron Man 2, now we’ve reached Thor. While Iron Man was fun and a breath of fresh air, Thor was trite and not that good.

The story focuses on Thor, the Norse god of thunder. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Asgardians are a god-like race of aliens that frequently visited Earth. Thor is the prince of Asgard, son of Odin, who is king. Through Thor’s own folly, he is banished to Earth and his powers taken away. Little do any know that a great conspiracy is under way to usurp the Asgardian throne and bring doom to all. Thor must now grow out of his immaturity and into a hero worthy of Asgard.

The story of this movie is not great. It’s all over the place. You could tell that they were attempting many things at once and ended up doing a lackluster job for most. It felt rushed and incomplete. There’s not enough time setting up all the ideas and the conflicts and their resolution felt rushed and unfulfilling.

You need to keep in mind that this movie existed solely to create a movie version of Thor to put into the first Avengers movie. At the time, this kind of big, cinematic series that culminated in a big team-up movie where the main characters in all the superhero movies would show up and do one big movie together had never been done before. They were flying by the seat of their pants and the result was mediocre bunch of movies meant to introduce characters for future movies where they can then team up for other characters. For that reason, it’s easy to see why the plot in this movie was so bad. No one cared that much about Thor in comparison to how much they cared about that first Avengers movie. Further, as was said before, this was the first time anyone tried a combined, cinematic fictional universe. There was a lack of experience here that would not be rectified until years later when the Russo brothers would come along and Kevin Feige would consolidate power and the authority to make creative decisions independently.

My biggest regret with this film is how they tried to go the dramatic route for this first film. They simply didn’t realize that Hemsworth’s talents lie in the comedic and that Thor is so strange a character that it’s hard to tell a serious story about him with a straight face. Once Thor: Ragnarok came around and we got to see just how funny Hemsworth could be, there was no turning back and the Thor franchise will now forever remain a series defined by it’s funny moments and it’s all the better for it.

Overall, this was a passable movie that exists simply to lay some ground work for Thor’s appearance in the first Avengers movie. The plot isn’t great, but isn’t horrific. The special effects are nice. It’s just an overall boring movie with little payoff for all it’s plot points. The only thing that they did right in this film was the casting. It’s no surprise that years later, Hemsworth and Hiddleston continue to make Marvel movies because of how much fans loved them.

TV Show Review: WandaVision

Details: More information can be found at https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/wandavision and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9140560/

Score: 7/10

WandaVision is the first production from the Marvel cinematic universe after the events of Avengers: Endgame. As a long time Marvel movie fan, I was looking forward to whatever hints Marvel felt like dropping for the future of their shows and movies. In that regard, I enjoyed WandaVision mostly as a prelude for what may come in the future. By itself, it is passable. What surprised me most was how I’ve read many opinions of people who enjoyed the show who did not keep up with the movies or even never saw the movies. Personally, I watched the show with someone who never saw the movies and even they somewhat enjoyed despite having no knowledge of the events that transpired before this show.

Like all the other Marvel movies, WandaVision belongs within the Marvel cinematic universe. This means that the events that took place in all the Marvel movies also occurred in the fictional universe that WandaVision takes place in. I won’t spoil what happens in the prior movies, but in the first episode of this nine episode show, Wanda — a superpowered heroine– finds herself in a 1950’s sitcom. The rest of the show explores this idea and explains the truth about how she got here.

The first half of the series emulate the sitcom theme and in my opinion, it gets old fast. I needed more plot development and reveals a lot sooner. I understand what they were trying to achieve with these episodes, but after the first episode, it was boring.

The last few episodes turn away from the theme of emulating old sitcoms and reverts to your standard Marvel movie plot structure. That generally means more action with a big, bombastic action scene at the end filled with special effects. It was ordinary, predictable, and uneventful. At this point, I’ve seen so many Marvel movies that a big action scene at the end actually bores me. I’ve actually gotten tired of action scenes and explosions thanks to Marvel. Give me plot reveals, drama and dialogue please.

My favorite episode was the one where they reveal and explain everything, including Wanda’s past. I won’t say more than that, but that was by far the most meaningful episode and emotional one.

Overall, this was a nice prelude to the future of Marvel movies and shows, but it was just okay on it’s own. It’s interesting enough that non-Marvel fans may enjoy it, but much of the connections to the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe will be lost on them and some things might not make any sense without some internet searching or someone who can explain things.

TV Show Review: Star Trek Discovery, Season 3

Details: More information can be found at https://www.cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery/ and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5171438/?ref_=ttep_ep_tt

Score: 7.2/10

This third season of Star Trek has felt the most like the Star Trek series that have come before. I mean that in a good way and a bad way.

Some spoilers ahead.

This third season picks up right where the last season left off. The crew of Discovery was sent hundreds of years into the future and must now survive in this unfamiliar time. What they discover is a ravaged galaxy where a galaxy spanning disaster known as the “burn” has destroyed most of the space ships in the galaxy. Starfleet is a shell of what it once was. It’s up to Discovery and the remnants of Starfleet to rekindle hope in the galaxy again.

This season is very standard Star Trek, which means that there was no genre defying twist or anything like that. It followed the tried and true plot structure of past seasons of Star Trek where there are a lot of standalone episodes with a looming threat in the background and the final few episodes deal primarily with that threat. I like the often used themes of morality, optimism and rising above cruelty, themes common to old Star Trek. I enjoyed all of that.

But there was nothing new in this season. No real twist or revelation. The final reveal of what the “burn” really was anticlimactic, but in line with a more optimistic Star Trek.

Overall, I am a long time Star Trek fan so of course I enjoyed this season. I would’ve liked some progression in the overall genre and for the franchise, but this is nice too. When there are so many shows that insist on dark, edgy stories, it’s nice to have a story that stays somewhat optimistic, even if that equates to a predictable plot.

Manga Review: Rebuild World

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as Ribirudo Waarudo, Sekai O Sai Kōchiku and リビルドワールド.

Score: 7/10

Rebuild World is a science fiction story that takes place in a post apocalyptic world. The world is actually a lot like the world in Alita: Battle Angel.

Sometime after the fall of civilization, large walled cities where the wealthy live have arisen. Outside these walls are the slums where the poor live. Life is hard here and many people become hunters, people who search the ruins of the old civilization for relic and technology from the old civilization. Our protagonist is a young boy who decides to risk his life and search the ruins for relics in order to make money. As he’s searching these relics, a virtual woman appears to him that only he can see. The woman proposes a contract where in exchange for the support she will provide to him, the protagonist must got to a certain place in the ruins. And so a deal is made involving a lot of monsters, bullets and death.

The story focuses on the mystery of who this virtual woman is, but that’s the overarching plot that we occasionally touch upon. The real story is about the protagonists attempts to grow stronger and make his way in this world. There is also a lot of world building as the story goes on. It’s a decent science fiction story.

The art is pretty good. There is a lot of fan service so prepare yourself for that. No nudity though, except for some butts.

Overall, an entertaining read. I’ve been reading so many isekai and fantasy stories that it was nice to just read a plain old post apocalyptic science fiction story. There are some elements of isekai though such as the protagonist suddenly becoming extremely strong due to the assistance of the virtual woman. It’s still mostly science fiction and action.