ericvespe FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

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from Austin, TX

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    • A Wrinkle In Time Isn't Perfect, But It's Pretty Damn Good

      1 month ago

      ericvespe

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      My personal history with A Wrinkle In Time is short. I've known it existed as a book, but I never read it growing up and it just never got into my “to read” pile as an adult. So, I went into Ava DuVernay's adaptation pretty much blind.


      And I liked it. A lot.


      Is it perfect? Nope. There is some on-the-nose exposition at the beginning that had me dreading the rest of the movie. Young Charles Wallace overhears two teachers talking about his sister, Meg, our protagonist and they are there to explain to the cheap seats Meg's whole backstory, why she's withdrawn and moody and why the school bullies are drawn to her in two or three back and forths. Very lazy, but at least DuVernay and screenwriters Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell make these character integral to kicking off the next scene, in which Meg confronts one of her bullies.


      And the rest of the movie is fairly clear of that kind of exposition, letting the actions of the characters and visuals propel the story instead of some character explaining to us what's going on at every step.


      At the end of the day, that's a nitpick. I can easily see some people being turned off at the heavily CG'd fantasy worlds that unfold as Meg, Charles Wallace and Meg's friend Calvin go on an adventure to find her missing father, but thanks to a particularly layered and charismatic leading performance by Storm Reid I was in for the ride.


      The film emotionally hooked me thanks to that character and the overall message of hope, kindness and empathy. It also helped that when “The It” comes into the picture DuVernay didn't shrink away from making it creepy. I got tone flashes of some of my favorite '80s kids fantasy, like The Neverending Story, Legend, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Labyrinth as I was watching this. It's always appreciated when a family film decides to embrace the weird and unsettling and this one does just that.


      But the real takeaway here is the message of positivity, not just for the world, but for yourself as well. Put love out into the world, but don't forget to keep a little bit of it for yourself. The villain of the piece is an entity that feeds your deepest, darkest fears. It's not something that influences you to be mean to other people... that happens, but it happens because you don't like yourself. You obsess over your flaws and don't view them the things that make you unique.


      For children watching that's a powerful pill buried in the spoonful of sugar of the fun adventure story, especially since most of them are about to experience the brain-melting lightning storm of hormones and self-doubt that comes with puberty.


      The acting is great across the board. Chris Pine proves yet again he's one of the most charismatic actors in the business right now, Levi Miller continues to be a promising up and comer (he was Peter Pan in the recent not-great PAN and was the lead of a fun little Christmas-set horror flick called Better Watch Out), Deric McCabe is a bit precocious as the loud, super smart 6 year old Charles Wallace, but I found him to have a definite spark that kept him from becoming annoying and, as I mentioned before Storm Reid really makes this movie for me.



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      She brings such a level of depth to Meg without making her a broody young teen. She's so good at making the character feel effortlessly real that I know she has some real chops. Every time you see something on the screen that looks easy you know it was anything but. A whole lot of work goes into making things feel like no work went into them.


      She's great and has a great support system. Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling are essentially the Blue Fairy, The Fairy Godmother and the Good Witch of the North mixed together and split into three people and they play their omniscient beings of good and light with a knowing smile. There's some trickster in them and that helps keep them from just being a type.


      Ultimately, I cared about the story because I cared about Meg and SHE cares about the story. You like Calvin and her dorky little brother because she likes them. You want to see her reunited with her father because she so desperately needs it to happen. You get wowed by the fantasy worlds she enters because she is. Meg is the key and also happens to be the best thing about the movie.


      I don't know if A Wrinkle In Time is as big of a movie as something like Black Panther, but I am positive that for a certain age range this film will be hugely influential and important. I'm an adult that dug it, so there will be those, too, but this is a film that kids are going to obsess over. Children of color, white kids, boys and girls... it's about as an inclusive story as you could hope for and the way DuVernay filmed it was designed to draw you into this crazy world.

    • Michael Bay Directing Robopocalypse?

      1 month ago

      ericvespe

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      Looks like Michael Bay might be taking over Robopocalypse directing duties from Steven Spielberg. For a long, long time Spielberg was trying to adapt Daniel H. Wilson's quite good book with a goofy-ass title and he got close. I remember reading an interview with Spielberg during that process and he was genuinely excited about the adaptation process, just said the script wasn't quite there yet and someone else was coming in to do another pass.


      Then it just seemed to fade into the background as Spielberg focused on his more drama-centric stuff like Bridge of Spies, War Horse and most recently The Post. 


      The book reads like World War Z, but instead of a zombie apocalypse it's a... well, you know what the title is. But it's told in that oral tradition style that World War Z did so well. 


      Michael Bay is a bit... heavy-handed... to do this, but we do know he loves robots at war. The problem is the reason you'd make this particular story isn't the backdrop, but the character work in the human story. Can Bay be trusted with that? I'm not so sure. 


      Variety reports that Bay would make Robopocalypse after a mysterious action film called 6 Underground, written by Deadpool's Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, so it's at the very least a couple years away still if it happens at all. But it is interesting. What do you guys think of this development?

    • Everybody could use a little more Pooh in their lives...

      1 month ago

      ericvespe

      Okay so Disney isn't content with just giving us Star Wars and Marvel movies, they've also been going through their back catalogue for a while now and making hugely successful live action versions of their films. Alice in Wonderland (love it or hate it, it made a ridiculous amount of money), Jungle Book, Cinderella, Malificent, Pete's Dragon and they have Peter Pan, Dumbo, The Lion King, Mary Poppins Returns and Aladdin in the works as we speak. 


      Christopher Robin kind of slipped under the radar a little bit, probably because we also recently got that Finding Neverland-ish Good-bye Christopher Robin and this one was able to stay hidden in that one's shadow until this very second. 


      But now there's a trailer and Ewan McGregor is playing a growed up Christopher Robin having trouble finding the proper work/life balance... until some piece of Pooh comes back into his life. 


      It's actually a pretty good trailer and pulled at some nostalgic heartstrings I didn't even realize were there. Looks like they threw Paddington in a blender with the original Mary Poppins. I can dig that... 




    • Red Sparrow Is A Super Solid Espionage Movie!

      1 month ago

      ericvespe

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      Red Sparrow is really solid. It's the kind of made-for-adults slow burn espionage film that thrived in the '70s here in the US and pops up occasionally overseas. Paul Verhoeven's Black Book is the last movie I can remember evoking the very unique tone.


      Gone are the YA sensibilities you might expect from a reteam of Hunger Games director and star Francis Lawrence and Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) and in its place is a Cold War powder keg that is punctuated with moments of extreme violence and sexuality.


      Basically you have Jennifer Lawrence playing Dominika, a Russian Prima Ballerina whose creepy uncle enlists into the state's seductress spy program after she breaks her leg and thus becomes... not as graceful? I don't know how ballet works, but her life is pretty much over. Her passion was dancing and she worked towards being the best since she was a small child and now that's gone.


      Also gone is the money, nursing care for her sick mom and the housing provided by the ballerina company. She's desperate and agrees to use her beauty and former fame to help entrap an enemy of the state. Of course that goes violent very quickly and she's forced to choose death for her and her mother or enlisting to become a Sparrow. 


      She chooses option B.


      What I really liked about this movie was how delicately and intricately the intrigue was laid out. Dominka is smart, but always in danger. How much leverage does the State have over her? How many chess moves ahead is she at any given time? Who is she playing?


      That mystery is what makes or breaks a good espionage thriller and I think Francis Lawrence nailed it here. 



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      The plot is less focused on solving the core mystery of figuring out who is the mole within the Russian hierarchy that is being protected by the US and more about how the hell Dominika is going to survive. She's not Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde. She can't fight her way out of any situation. But she's far from weak, but she's not Wonder Woman. Her superpower lies in smarts and manipulation.


      There are a couple of moments in the movie where she's in life or death situations and has to fight and when those happen the violence is brutal, realistic and dangerous. A knife is scarier than a gun here and I love it when a movie can feel dangerous for its lead. 


      Lawrence gives it her all here and crafts a character that is strong because of her weaknesses. She's on a pretty hot streak at the moment. Love or hate mother! you have to admit that she gives a tour de force performance in it, despite what the dipshits that run the Razzies think. 


      She's using her fame to help interesting projects that would not get off the ground without her A-list power and that's something she should be commended for. I'm sure she's offered every rom-com script in Hollywood, but she's choosing weird instead.


      Red Sparrow isn't a movie designed to wow you with giant set pieces. It's built to pull you into a world and make you care about the leads. You'll try to figure out who's playing who and at what point and if you're anything like me you'll be a couple steps ahead of the movie at some points and then realize you're way behind at other points. 


      I dig this one a lot.

    • Holy Shit! Avengers: Infinity War Moved Up! You Can See It April 27th!!!

      1 month ago

      ericvespe

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      Well, well, well... Looks like we're all going to get to see Avengers: Infinity War earlier than expected! Marvel and Robert Downey Jr. teamed up to make the announcement on Twitter via a smart bit of cheeky PR. Check it out here


      It's such good news! It means we all get to see it earlier than expected and lets us have a chance to go back a couple of times before Deadpool 2 and Solo come out. It's quite possible that was the point of the move, to minimize the overlap between Infinity War's Box Office and Solo's and also don't forget that Deadpool is soon enough going to be welcomed into the Disney Marvel family, too.


      Excited yet? I'm excited. That's next month! I mean, it's still, like almost two months away, but technically this is March and it releases in April, so I'm still right! 

    • Tarantino Titles His Next Flick, Casts Brad Pitt & Leonardo DiCaprio

      1 month ago

      ericvespe

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      First of all, I know there's some controversy around this project and I myself am not all that interested in seeing a Manson Family-ish movie, but you know what I am interested in? Anything that Tarantino wants to do. If he wants to tell this story then he'll tell it in his way and that in and of itself is more interesting than 90% of other Tinseltown news. 


      He's calling the new project Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which automatically frames the new film in an epic light. Sergio Leone started the Once Upon A Time trend with Once Upon A Time In The West, which is just flat out great. Seek it out if you haven't seen it. It uses Widescreen unlike just about any other movie ever made. 


      Many years later Leone made Once Upon A Time In America, another fantastic film that gave the epic treatment to a whole new genre. It was more a Godfather-ish Italian Crime story. 


      Robert Rodriguez took that title trend and applied to a goofy action flick called Once Upon A Time In Mexico that is distinctly Rodriguez, even if it's nowhere near the same league as Leone's movies. 


      The point is Once Upon A Time In... has come to mean something to cinephiles. If you use that title you think epic story told in the unique style of its director and shot in wide-wide-widescreen. 


      So Tarantino using the title paints a picture already of his plans of doing a period '60s film set in Hollywood. Knowing his tastes I'd expect a long film overflowing with colorful, richly drawn characters.


      Two of those characters will be played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. DiCaprio will play Rick Dalton, former western TV star, and Pitt will be his stunt double, Cliff Booth. Both are trying to figure out their place in the world as they age out of the system they know. Also, Rick happens to live next door to Sharon Tate, the most famous victim of the Manson Family. 


      We know that Tarantino has approached Margot Robbie to play Sharon Tate, but we don't know if she's signed on yet. 


      Anyway, that's the news. Pitt and DiCaprio are onboard and the movie's called Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. I personally can't wait to see how this one comes together. 

    • 9 to 5 is getting a reboot-sequel and I couldn't be more psyched!

      1 month ago

      ericvespe

      I know it's not exactly cool to taut the love of the very, very '80s comedy 9 to 5, but a constant cable rotation of this movie in my youth has endeared it to me on a pretty deep level. 


      9 to 5, about three women standing up to sexual harassment in the workplace, is sadly still relevant today. Hell, in the era of #MeToo it's almost begging for a remake... and that's exactly what's going on. 


      But it's not a straight remake, thank God. It's what I like to call a "rebootquel." It's really a sequel, but since there's not really an audience for 9 to 5 Part II, it'll just be called 9 to 5 and focus on a new generation of women struggling against the patriarchy. But it doesn't ignore the first movie and is in fact a sequel. 


      Deadline is reporting that Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda are in talks to return, likely as mentors to a new group of young women. Fox wants a young, sharp female voice behind the script and Rashida Jones is at the top of their list. Holy shit, a movie studio exec with a good idea! Someone write this down for posterity! 


      The only way I'd be more down for this rebootquel would be if they announced they were pulling Dabney Coleman out of retirement for a cameo. He is first rate, after all




    • Ralph Wrecks The Internet in this new trailer (and takes some pot shots at clickbait along the way)!

      1 month ago

      ericvespe

      The new trailer for the Wreck It Ralph sequel dropped today and it takes the lovable brute Ralph and darling little Vanellope into the big, wide world of the internet. The trailer nods to King of Kong with an arcade owner who looks suspiciously like Walter Day, owner of Twin Galaxies and the self-appointed referee of high scores, takes the piss out of clickbait, jokes around with goofy mobile games and even shows us what eBay looks like inside the internet itself. No word yet on how they handle porn, which is scientifically about 97% of the entire internet.


      Check out the trailer:





      It's good, right? Loved the first movie, which felt the most Pixar-ish of all the modern day Walt Disney Animated movies. Can't wait to see what they do with the sequel!

    • Wait a minute, Baby Groot is actually Groot's son?

      1 month ago

      ericvespe

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      I guess I'm a bad geek. I assumed Baby Groot was kind of like Groot reborn, but according to James Gunn's tweets today he's actually more like Groot's kid. I suppose there's an argument to be made that children are pretty much quasi-clones of their parents, but that doesn't help my nerdy-ass mind from reeling at this bit of information.


      Is this how all beings from Groot's race procreate? Just splinter off? Thinking about it that's not too far off from how Earth trees handle that, but then you've got to consider pollination and all that weird stuff. You can also clone trees from cuttings, which is what I assumed happened in Groot's case.


      I'm dangerously approaching the line where I have my virginity reinstated with this discussion, but damn it if this isn't today's biggest geek revelation. 


      What do you folks think? 

    • DC Just Can't Catch A Break. Joss Whedon Exits BATGIRL.

      1 month ago

      ericvespe

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      Joss Whedon has stepped away from Batgirl. His official reasoning for departing the project is that he spent a year trying to come up with a story to match the badass character and just couldn't quite do it. I'm sure there's other things at play, like how he didn't quite fix Justice League enough to make it less of a flop and the overall chaotic state of everything behind the scenes at the DCEU, but that's the reason he gave to The Hollywood Reporter.


      Man, DC just can't catch a break. It's getting real frustrating as a comic movie fan seeing them squander so much potential and I say this as someone who likes both Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck as Superman and Batman. 


      There's no reason there can't be amazing movies made out of these properties but the brass at Warner Bros seems less concerned about making good product than just making product period. Any and everything you got, throw it at that wall! Something will stick! 


      Whedon has shown a lot of talent at writing female characters, but maybe this cloud will have a silver lining and they'll actually bring in some, you know, females to write and/or direct these female characters? It certainly worked for Wonder Woman. Something tells me a talented female screenwriter might not have to spend a year trying to find a decent Barbara Gordon story. 

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