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About me

I am a big fan of movies. I've always love and appreciated this artform since I was very young. I enjoying reading and writing and hope to one day make it in a creative medium where I am capable to expressing interesting ideas.

Occupation: Future Film Director

Recent reviews

All reviews - Movies (18) - TV Shows (2) - Music (3)

A genre-bending dramedy with a unique premise

Posted : 6 years, 10 months ago on 23 May 2017 11:24 (A review of Colossal)

I watched this film in theaters as part of a College class I was taking at the time. Literally only knew of the basic premise of this film on the very day I was going to see it. Had no prior knowledge of the film and hadn't even seen the trailers for it. But from what I heard, I found the concept of this film unique and I thought it'd be worth watching. Honestly, this film surprised me in more ways than one. I believe the way this film handles its admittedly ridiculous premise is impressive. Mixing relationship drama with kaiju films is such a strange genre-mixing that works to the film's advantage. It really ups the stakes of what would otherwise be a more personalized drama. 

I was really impressed with Anne Hathaway's performance. I really got into her character as this pathetic alcoholic who is trying to better herself. By the end, she becomes a very likable (and rather kick-ass) character. But Jason Sudeikis was the highlight of this film, giving a truly phenomenal performance. His character really transforms through the film. And Sudeikis does an impressive job turning him from a likable to a downright despicable (and sometimes frightening) character.

If you've seen the trailers, just realize that the film has dramatic elements and takes some dark turns. So don't go in expecting a lighter farce. I do not want to spoil much about the film, even its basic concept because I fully recommend you watch this with fresh eyes. But for those of you interested in a genre-bending dramedy with a unique premise, I would definitely recommend this film.

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FOX Finally Does Deadpool Right

Posted : 8 years, 1 month ago on 4 March 2016 10:55 (A review of Deadpool)

I have been waiting for a good Deadpool movie for a long time. Ryan Reynolds has been fighting for a good Deadpool movie before the character was really even that popular. I was not the biggest fan of Mr. Reynolds before Deadpool but I do have give him credit. The man earns my respect for working his hardest to get a great Deadpool movie out there. He took the absolutely horrendous portrayal of the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, just to get the chance to portray the character. Honestly, the man’s portrayal of Wade Wilson (before he became Barakapool) was the best part of that atrocious film. Deadpool is my third favorite superhero character, right behind Batman and Spider-Man. So I was eagerly anticipating the idea of a Deadpool movie but I also had strong doubts that it would get made. But sometimes, dreams do come true because this Deadpool movie is everything I wanted to see in a Deadpool movie.

Vulgar, bloody, hilarious, meta, and elements pulled straight from Deadpool's comic history. This feels like a true Deadpool comic brought to life on the big screen. The music is pretty awesome as well. This film is full of classic songs that either feel appropriate to the respective scene or hilariously inappropriate for sake of comedy. Special mention goes to “Angel of the Morning”, a ballad that helps make one of the most memorable opening sequences I’ve ever seen. Honestly, there are those special actors that can capable of embodying a beloved comic character and make it their own. Christopher Reeves is Superman. Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool. But that is not to say the other supporting characters aren’t just as memorable. Quite the contrary, their performances are just as interesting and memorable as the Merc with the Mouth’s, certainly not an easy task. Both T.J. Miller and Leslie Uggams successfully capture the hilarious personalities of Deadpool’s obscure allies, Weasel and Blind Al respectively. Ed Skrein plays a memorable villain in Ajax who, rather than being overtly complex or ambiguous, is just an douche. Super strong and really smart but still an incredible douche who you just want to see get his ass kicked. Gina Carano does a good job playing Ajax’s trusty brutish henchwoman, Angel Dust. Plus the two X-Men (and only truly heroic characters in the film) they managed to get into this picture, Colossus (played by a CGI character) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (who has the greatest superhero codename ever), feel well-incorporated along with providing both hilarious and awesome moments.    
But while these characters are fun to watch, the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin, who plays Deadpool’s love interest in the film, makes up most of the truly emotional moments of this film. While the film is filled to the brim with irreverent humor, it is their relationship, honestly some of the best romance I’ve seen in a superhero movie, that really adds weight to what could have been an immensely immature experience. It still full of immature moments but it luckily doesn’t distract from the drama of the characters. Honestly, I'm glad this movie was R-rated because the character and the story feels most appropriate for mature audiences only. A PG-13 Deadpool movie would have neutered the appeal of this beloved fourth-wall breaking psychopath. 

Overall, I am just glad this movie got made to begin with. I appreciate that the movie managed to get the character right while also feeling like a complete movie rather than a funny distraction. Plus, the immense success of this film is a good omen to corporate executives, showing what happens when you take risks and stay faithful to a character’s roots. I hope that this film’s success brings out more mature superhero content that can risks while also being a whole lot of fun.

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The triumphant finale to an spectacular trilogy

Posted : 8 years, 1 month ago on 2 March 2016 02:11 (A review of The Dark Knight Rises)

Listal hasn't been the only place where I've been posting reviews. There have been websites that I visited prior to discovering Listal where I decided to type out my thoughts on films that I had thoughts about. This is was an Blogger review of The Dark Knight Rises that was posted on December 31, 2012. While The Avengers certainly had a lot of hype behind it, this was truly one of the most anticipated films of 2012. It is the concluding chapter of Christopher Nolan’s groundbreaking trilogy based on the famous comic-book superhero known as Batman. It is a film that managed to bring out a lot of large opinions and reactions from people, both positive and negative. So here are my thoughts about it from 2012, let’s get on to it...

Ever since being created by Bob Kane on May 1939, the character of Batman has gained people’s interests even to this day. After being orphaned by a run-off-the-mill crook when he was young, billionaire Bruce Wayne decides to spend the rest of his life fighting against the crime that lurks in the criminal-ridden streets of Gotham City. Not having any superpowers of his own, Bruce Wayne trains himself to reach psychical and intellectual peaks and takes the mantle to become everyone’s favorite bat-themed caped crusader. In his never-ending battle against crime and villainy, Batman has managed to be portrayed in an array of mediums through a variety of tones. One of the things that has made the character of Batman so interesting is that he can be portrayed as a light-hearted superhero going through colorful adventures against the forces of evil to a dark and mysterious figure that goes against disturbing threats while dealing with his own psyche. He could be portrayed in either tone and still manage to make it work (for the most part). This shows in his history with films as well. Batman was very popular during the 1960s because of the famous Batman television that took the light-hearted nature of the comics during that time period and humorously parodied it to present a campy yet clever take on the Caped Crusader as well as his friends and foes. It notably features Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin the Boy Wonder. During the height of the show’s popularity in 1966, a movie was produced based on the show and featuring a majority of the cast from the show. However, the tone of Batman in the media gradually changed from light to dark during the 70s-80s. This was signified in 1989 with the release of Tim Burton’s “Batman”. The film was positively received because of the dark atmosphere and great performances from Michael Keaton’s take on Batman and Jack Nicholson’s take on the Joker. It received a sequel in 1992 called “Batman Returns” with Tim Burton returning to direct. However “Batman Returns” was not nearly as critically or financially successful as its predecessor. It was probably due to being too dark and disturbing for younger audiences. In response to this, Warner Bros. decided to make the next Batman film more kid-friendly. So, they replaced Tim Burton as director with Joel Schumacher and with that brought a whole new approach to the Batman films. With the release of “Batman Forever” in 1995, the following Batman films changed from serious to goofy, dark atmosphere to neon-light scenery, serious storytelling to campy writing, etc. It ended up working with “Batman Forever” as it managed to be a financial success. However, with the release of “Batman & Robin” in 1997, the executes were not as lucky as the film was reviled by critics and audiences due to its ridiculous acting and casting, awful writing, and being overall too campy to be treated with any respect. The failure of “Batman & Robin” caused an 8-year hiatus for the Batman movie franchise. Many sequels, reboots, and adaptations were all planned to continue the franchise, however, none of those projects went past the idea phase. This all changed when Christopher Nolan decided to reboot the Batman franchise with a new darker and more realistic take on the Dark Knight. Thus, the world was exposed to a new era of Batman in 2005 with the release of “Batman Begins”. This film gained praise from a lot of critics and audiences, in-spite of some minor flaws with the plot and cinematography. Despite some flaws, audiences were just glad a new Batman was able to escape from the cinematic disaster that was “Batman & Robin” and knew it was only just the beginning of something more fantastic to come. After the success of “Batman Begins”, Christopher Nolan revealed his plans for a sequel called “The Dark Knight” and people were hyped for it. They wanted to see the next installment of Christopher Nolan’s great portrayal of the Batman mythos, especially knowing that this one would have Batman face off against his greatest nemesis, The Joker. So, when “The Dark Knight” was released in 2008, it received MASSIVE critical acclaim. Critics and audiences loved “The Dark Knight” because of its great storytelling, amazing characters and performances (especially Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker), and spectacular cinematography. It wasn’t just considered one of the best superheroes films ever, but one of the best films ever. Not only was the film critically successful, but it was MAJORLY successful financially as well. It managed to be the highest grossing film of 2008 making $1,004,558,444 in the box office. After releasing what a lot of people consider a modern-day “Citizen Kane”, Christopher Nolan planned on making a sequel to this massive hit called “The Dark Knight Rises” to serve as a finale installment to end an amazing trilogy of films. And even more hype arises...

The movie takes place eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight”, Gotham City is in an era of peace. Bruce Wayne (played by Christian Bale) has given up the cape and cowl and become a recluse. But after an incident involving stolen fingerprints and a manipulative burglar (played by Anne Hathaway), Bruce Wayne decides to go back to fighting crime. However, a powerful mercenary and terrorist named Bane (played by Tom Hardy) is causing anarchy and destruction in Gotham. Batman must learn to resolve his inner conflicts to stop Bane’s tyranny and allow the hope to rise again in Gotham City. Now, I know judging by the summary I am giving it, it would seem like the plot of this movie isn’t that impressive. However, I found the plot of this movie to be extremely well-done. Christopher Nolan wanted to make a film that would end this magnificent trilogy of films on a grand note and does really succeed in that part. One of the main reasons that the previous two films were praised was because the writing showed a very dark and realistic side to the Batman mythos that was never as explored in other films. Christopher Nolan’s spectacular writing makes this different portrayal of the Batman universe work very well. They displayed the dilemmas and struggles that Batman faces with himself as well as with the villains he faces. A lot of praise was given to the villains of those films as well for taking these memorable and classic villains and adding some new elements to how they are portrayed without straying away from what made these villains so great to hate. Also, Christopher Nolan shows how much a true Batman fan he is but laying his stories with elements and homages to famous Batman comic-book storylines that the massive Batman geeks will get and enjoy without alienating the people who aren’t as knowledgeable about Batman and his history. I mention all of this because of all the things that made those films great return in “The Dark Knight Rises” to make an incredibly spectacular film. However, unlike the past two films, a lot of people felt the story to “The Dark Knight Rises” wasn’t as thought-out and tightly-written. Considering how critically acclaimed “The Dark Knight” was, people immediately predicted that its sequel would not live up to the predecessor’s greatness. This gave a lot of people a disappointed and negative reaction to the film when it was released in theaters. While I still consider the story of this film to be very well done, I do acknowledge that it is not as tightly-written as “The Dark Knight” and the plot is kind of cluttered when you start really thinking about it. In spite of some flaws with the story, Christopher Nolan still manages to get major themes from both “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” to play an important part in this film. These themes that were foreshadowed in those past films are further explored, so that the story is able to resolve those elements and able to end the trilogy feeling satisfied with ourselves. “The Dark Knight Rises” was created because Christopher Nolan wanted to create a triumphant finale to a spectacular trilogy of films and succeed through his amazing story and exploration with themes.

However, the strengths of “The Dark Knight Saga” didn’t just lies in its amazing story, it also contained some amazing performances from some truly talented actors. Many of whom return in this film to give some noteworthy performances. Christian Bale returns to his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Now, I think Christian Bale is a spectacular actor and has done some very great roles in the past and I think he does a very good performance as Bruce Wayne. However, his performance as Batman is rather lackluster; it seems like the man is trying way too hard to be deep and brooding but most of the time, he sounds forced. Especially when it comes to that ridiculous overly-raspy Batman voice that he keeps using throughout all of Nolan’s Batman films, it is just such a silly element that sticks out like a sore thumb because of the dark and realistic tone that the films are setting. Luckily, the rest of the acting in this movie is phenomenally good. Michael Caine does a wonderful performance returning as Alfred. While his time in the movie is shorter than in the past films, he manages to give a truly magnificent and sometimes even tear-jerking performance. Gary Oldman returns to the role as Commissioner James Gordon. He really doesn’t change anything in terms of performance from the last films. He does a fantastic job portraying James Gordon in those past films and the same applies to this film. However, the character of James Gordon has changed and goes through some interesting development, dealing with him becoming older and possibly retiring and with him working through the events from “The Dark Knight” and adjusting to the consequences of it. This doesn’t really sidetrack from the main story but it was definitely a nice touch to make the character more interesting and three-dimensional. Also, Morgan Freeman does a wonderful performance (as always) returning as Lucius Fox. His importance to the story is pretty much to create a new vehicle to the series, the epic flying aircraft known as The Bat. It is a very cool vehicle and does some very awesome things in the film... although, I do wonder how they manage to leave the thing around Gotham without anyone noticing. Now, let’s talk about the new characters starting with the villain of the movie, Bane played by Tom Hardy. A lot of people complained about Bane’s dubbed voice as being ridiculous and hard to listen to. However, I wasn’t really bothered by the voice as most were and only needed a slight adjustment in hearing to understand what he is saying. I think it is less silly compared to the Christian’s Batman voice. I actually consider Tom Hardy’s performance to be rather chilling. He doesn’t have the large impact and acclaim that responded from Heath Ledger’s phenomenal performance as the Joker but I think his portrayal of Bane really works. It works well because Bane manages to get an uncomfortable feeling for nearly every time he is on screen. He gets this uncomfortable reaction because of how big of a physical threat he is. He can just casually snap someone’s neck almost instantly and nonchalantly. However, the man is not just pure muscle and there is an actual brain under that mask that gives him a Russian Sean Connery  impression. Bane is just as cold and calculative as he is strong. He manages to calculate the steps that will bring out the complete destruction of the movie. Many other villains have done this before but unlike those villains, Bane manages to actually succeed in bringing out of Gotham’s reckoning for a large part of the movie. In fact, when I saw the whole plan lay out the first time I saw the film, I honestly had no idea how Batman going to be able to save the day. I honestly thought Gotham City was screwed and there was a high level of suspense that was going through to see if Batman could accomplish a victory. Bane manages to be portrayed an chilling, calculative, and incredibly strong. Most people just presume the character of Bane is the very latter but I am glad to see an more accurate portrayal of the character finally appearing on the silver screen. Anne Hathaway plays the role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman and I didn’t really know what to expect when I heard that she was going to play Catwoman in this movie. The only roles I’ve remember Anne Hathaway from was “The Princess Diaries” films (I’ve never seen them... just heard of them), so I didn’t know what to expect from her being cast as the femme fatale master thief. When watching her performance, I really thought she fit into the role rather well. She is shown very capable of flipping between feigning naivety and scheming criminal. Her character is interesting as well, she is a struggling citizen in Gotham whom is against the rich elitists members of society and gains a conflict/interest with Bruce Wayne. She is also a cunning thief with a record that is trying to wipe the past away and gain redemption for her acts and gaining a conflict/interest with Batman. Many people consider her character unnecessary to the story but I think she was needed to help Bruce resolves some of his conflicts while he helped her find solutions to her problems as well. They gained an interesting chemistry/relationship that by the end, allows both of them to resolve their hardships to live their own lives happily. Marion Cotillard playing the role of Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises board whom was working on an alternative energy program that Bruce Wayne that disclosed because it could be possibly used as a weapon. This element to her character becomes very important later in the film. Heck, her character becomes even more important even later in the film but I’m not going to spoil it for those whom haven’t seen the film yet. Anyway, she does a good performance in the film acting as an act of hope for the reclusive Bruce Wayne but the performance does change to something melodramatic near the end. However, the interesting twist they take with the character makes the melodramatic of her performance make a little bit more sense. Finally, there is Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing the role of John Blake, a young optimistic policeman whom James Gordon takes under his wing and has a positive outlook on the Batman. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a very good performance and like Miranda Tate, his character provides a sense of hope in this rather cynical world. He does some very important things in the movie and develops into a really interesting character at the very end. Also like Miranda Tate, his character plays a very important part in the very end of the film. Overall, the cast was not spotless but still the performances in the movie are top-notch and make the film even more interesting to watch.    

We’ve been talking a lot about Christopher Nolan’s genius storytelling and direction but let’s shift the focus to someone who's helped make Nolan’s films so magnificent: Wally Pfister. Wally Pfister is the cinematographer behind Christopher Nolan’s films ever since “Memento”. While Christopher Nolan is the man making the orders in his director chair, Wally Pfister is the one that actually sets the cameras up to film the perfect shots on location. The combination of Christopher Nolan’s directing and Wally Pfister’s cinematography provides some truly amazing visuals often accompanied by a very well-thought script. The end result is a streak of amazing films starting with “Memento” that has not been broken by even a sub-par movie yet. Now, the cinematography for “The Dark Knight Rises” is spectacular. Christopher Nolan used IMAX cameras to film a majority of the movie and it provides a very crisp quality to the visuals. Everything shot in the movie looks amazing such as the various exotic locations, many of the action scenes, the very suspenseful scenes, and even the more mundane scenes. I really can’t say anything is wrong with the cinematography... it all just looks very amazing to the eyes. They even got the look right in making the film have this gritty and realistic tone that all the previous Nolan Batman films tried and succeed to present. Now, let’s recap on the decisions made under the direction of Christopher Nolan. The script was not as tightly-written as “The Dark Knight” but still managed to be a very well-written conclusion to the series that leaves people satisfied. The performances were all top-notch but they were some little hiccups in the cast (Batman’s ridiculous raspy voice, Bane’s weird Darth Connery voice, some ham being served with Miranda Tate) but overall, I thought everyone gave very solid performances. I thought the cinematography was perfect and all the visuals were pleasing to the eyes. All the scenes were filmed excellently and gave the film it’s right tone of gritty realism. Honestly, Christopher Nolan has done slightly better in his previous films but I do not think at all that Nolan did a bad job directing this project. He went into this project wanting to make a spectacular conclusion to his critically-acclaimed Batman films and he did indeed succeed at that goal.

Overall, I thought “The Dark Knight Rises” was a fantastic film. Many people consider this film to be a disappointment with more plot holes and ridiculous moments than what was expected and what expectations was set by “The Dark Knight”. However, I just cannot consider the words “The Dark Knight Rises” and “terrible movie” being used in the same sentence. I honestly think the acting is amazing, the story is well-done, and the cinematography just works great with the rest of the movie. Yeah, it has some flaws but I think the things that work in this film FAR exceed any flaws the film has. For a concluding chapter to a critically-acclaimed film trilogy, it ends the series on a grand and triumphant note. I really love this movie and no negativity will deviate from the fact that I think this film is truly amazing. If you are wondering whether you want to see this film or not, I really recommend you watch to get your own opinion on the matter. Whether you like it or not, I think “The Dark Knight Rises” is a cinematic experience like no other that many people should expose themselves to.

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How Marvel managed to surpass immense hype

Posted : 8 years, 1 month ago on 18 February 2016 02:10 (A review of The Avengers)

Listal hasn't been the only place where I've been posting reviews. There have been websites that I visited prior to discovering Listal where I decided to type out my thoughts on films that I had thoughts about. This is was an Blogger review of The Avengers that was posted on December 9, 2012. Back when the movie was the biggest thing ever and it still is today, to an extent, but it was at the height during 2012. So yeah, what did I have to say about one of the most hyped superhero movies or really one of the most hyped films in general? Well, you have an whole review to find that answer. So, let’s get on to the review... 

At the very end of the popular superhero blockbuster, “Iron Man”, there was a scene where Nick Fury was talking to Tony Stark about the “Avengers Initiative”. That was the very moment where people were anticipating the upcoming Avengers movie. Many of the Marvel films released afterwards (“The Incredible Hulk”, “Iron Man 2”, “Thor”, and “Captain America: The First Avenger”) were pretty much created to establish more superheroes that will team-up in the upcoming movie phenomenon that is the Avengers movie. As you might have expected, this movie had a lot of buildup and many people were highly-anticipating this film because of it. While I was also highly anticipating this movie, I still had some doubts that it could be a bad movie. You never know, many big-budget films with a lot of hype have turned out to be disappointments in the past. However, those doubts were pretty much thrown out the window, when I learned that Joss Whedon was going to be a writer and director in this project. For those who don’t know, Joss Whedon is a rather popular screenwriter, executive producer, and a director of television and film. He is well known for his works in television shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel”, and “Firefly”. The thing about Joss Whedon’s work is that he is well-known for making amazingly thought-out storylines with a large cast of interesting and developed characters. Often times, his films and TV shows became critically-acclaimed cult-classics because of his great writing and characters. And with a movie that needed a storyline that can allow a large cast of characters to play big roles in a grand adventure, I thought he was the perfect writer/director for the Avengers movie. Knowing he would be playing a big part on the production of this movie, I was probably even more hoping to see how this movie would turn out. I finally got the chance to see the movie in theaters and the moment the movie began I was hooked throughout the entire thing.  


The plot of “The Avengers” is that there is a powerful energy source known as the Tesseract that came from the mystical land of Asgard but has managed to land on Earth. This energy source catches the attention of espionage agency, S.H.I.E.L.D., who take the Tesseract and plan to use its power to benefit the world. However, Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston), a former Asgardian, comes to Earth and takes the Tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D. He plans on using the Tesseract in order to call a massive army of aliens called the Chitauri to invade and conquer the Earth. In response to this, Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson), the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., reactivates the dormant “Avengers Initiative” to assemble a team of the world’s mightiest heroes in order to defeat this global threat. This team consists of Tony Stark/Iron Man (played by Robert Downey, Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (played by Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo), Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson), and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner). It isn’t easy getting these different personalities to work together, but with the invasion getting closer. Will these people be able to work together in order to save the world? As you can tell from the plot summary, the story isn’t that groundbreaking especially compared to previous superhero blockbusters like “The Dark Knight”. However, the way the story is executed, the way the action and adventure enfolded, and the way the different characters clashed and worked with each other. It really makes the movie an even more entertaining experience. The story isn’t even that bad and really it does its job very well: it was able to give each member of an ensemble cast significance and give each moments where they could truly shine.

A movie with this large amount of hype needed an ensemble cast that would perfectly play this diverse cast of superheroes. Luckily for us, they managed to cast some really good people in this movie. Most of them returned from their roles in other superhero films, but they also managed to get some new actors into the mix. Robert Downey Jr. returns to the role of Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man, the narcissistic, cynical, and sarcastic billionaire with a suit of technological armor that can perform incredible feats. 

Steve Rogers: Big man in a suit of armour. Take that off, what are you?
Tony Stark: Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. 

Robert Downey Jr. fills the role of Iron Man with a lot of charisma. He plays Tony Stark as the snarky jerk who has good intentions. This is the interesting thing about Downey’s portrayal of the character. He is certainly fighting for good but he isn’t afraid to play dirty and get mean. He can take a rather serious situation and make funny quips to lighten the mood. In fact, he is probably the funniest character in the whole movie. This makes him an interesting contrast to the rest of the group and it definitely takes him awhile to get adjusted to working with the others. However, the character does go through some development as the ending of the movie shows. Chris Evans returns to the role of Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America, an American soldier with superhuman strength who fought during World War II and spent over 70 years frozen in ice. Chris plays Captain America as the idealistic soldier that is determined to fight for his country, while adjusting to a whole new time period. The movie does show how the Captain is affected from entering a world that has changed since he was around. By the end of the movie, he has become more adjusted to his new setting and able to use his experience and leadership to really help out. Chris Hemsworth plays Thor, the Asgardian god with the power to summon lighting and the brother of the antagonist of the movie, the mischievous and twisted Loki. 

Thor: Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard and he is my brother!
Natasha Romanoff: He killed eighty people in two days.
Thor: He's adopted.

Chris Hemsworth portrays the role of Thor as the foreigner whom is not accustomed to the ways of his new surroundings. However, he comes from a land of more royalties and advancements compared to Earth. Thus, he acts as if he’s superior to the rest of the group while acknowledging not by much. Another thing about Thor is that he always sees the good in people as he constantly tries to get Loki to change his ways, while the Trickster God just keeps scoffing off his offers for redemption. Mark Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner/Hulk, the peaceful scientist that keeps a raging monster deep inside of him. Honestly, out of all the people that have portrayed the jolly green giant on film (Eric Bana and Edward Norton), I think Mark Ruffalo does the best performance in this movie. He really does seem to capture all the things that makes the character interesting. As Bruce Banner, Mark manages to portray him as the rather calm yet shy scientist who seems to be holding something back. As the Hulk, he manages to show how intimidating and destructive he is capable at being. The first time you see Bruce Banner become the Hulk, you aren’t glad to see him tear stuff up. You are generally frightened because that rampaging creature is loose and will do massive damage to anything and everything around him. Another great thing about Mark Ruffalo’s performance is that it seems he have become a more developed character. In the previous Hulk movies, Bruce was always afraid to let the Hulk out and treated him like monster that he must destroy. In contrast to this movie, Bruce treats the Hulk more like the animalistic side of him that could be controlled and used for the better. This makes it all the more awesome when you see the Hulk using his brute strength against the invading aliens, later in the movie. You can thank Joss’s great writing and Ruffalo’s great performance for finally making a really great Hulk performance. It makes you hope to see a sequel to “The Incredible Hulk”, starring Mark Ruffalo in the lead role.

Natasha Romanoff: This is just like Budapest all over again.
Clint Barton: You and I remember Budapest very differently.   

Next is Scarlett Johansson playing the role of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, the master assassin who seeking redemption as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. I think Scarlett did a great job playing the femme fatale who can kick butt and get information through any means necessary. The character of Black Widow was a very interesting one as she didn’t feel like just the Girl they added in the Team of Men because they needed a girl. Joss Whedon has been known for  making an interesting character first and the gender later. So, it shows that Black Widow wasn’t a character defined by her gender but by her role and actions in the main plot. Scarlett Johansson was able to present a character that handle herself in nearly any situation and there is an array of mystery to the character that keeps her character interesting. She feels like someone that could side-by-side with people like Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk. Then, there is the final Avenger of the team, Clint Barton/Hawkeye who is played in the movie by Jeremy Renner. This character was honestly the one that surprised me the most. While all the other heroes had been established from past movies, this movie was Hawkeye’s first main appearance in the series (aside from a brief cameo in “Thor”). I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to make his character fit alongside with the other Avengers, ESPECIALLY considering his only power is to shoot arrows. I believed they really weren’t going to be able to work him into the story and make it genuine and I was also worried he’d be the weak link of the group because of his kind-of lackluster abilities. Fortunately, his character REALLY did manage to work in the film... and he even made shooting arrows pretty awesome. His character in the film is that he used to be a loner assassin who, like Black Widow, ends up changing his ways and work for S.H.I.E.L.D. In fact, he has special chemistry with Black Widow throughout most of the film. However, he does a bigger role in the story, but without revealing any spoilers involves the main antagonist of the movie, Loki. 

Thor: We were raised together. We played together. We fought together. Do you remember none of that?
Loki: I remember a shadow, living in the shade of your greatness. I remember you tossing me into an abyss, I who should have been king!

As mentioned previously, Loki is the main antagonist of the film. He acts as the major conflict that the Avengers need to stop. And with that role, I believe Tom Hiddleston plays it very well. Loki played a rather good villain with his rather charismatic yet vain attitude. He also has an interesting backstory (that was explored in “Thor”) involving his relationship with his “brother”, Thor. Loki and Thor’s conflict as well as Thor’s attempts to redeem the corrupted Loki makes an interesting subplot for the film that works to not interfere with the main plot. However, it isn’t just Thor that Loki manages to have a conflict with as throughout the story, Loki ends up attempting to manipulate the other Avengers as part of his master plan. Luckily, he does get his comeuppance at the end and it is definitely very enjoyable to watch. Samuel Jackson plays Nick Fury, the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. and creator of the “Avengers Initiative”, whom after making brief appearances in the previous Marvel films finally gets to show his greatness in this movie. Nick Fury was able to show his capabilities in the action and story department. He plays a significant role in the plot as it is flowing (especially at the end). He isn’t just the leader archetype that brings the group together and then stays in the background for the rest of the film. He is a largely important character that can handle himself in action and during the rather serious moments. Samuel L. Jackson does a great performance with the role as it felt like the character was made to be played by him. And finally to round off the performances is Clark Gregg playing the role of Agent Phil Coulson. Agent Coulson was actually just a supporting character to the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. He made previous appearances in “Iron Man” and “Thor” but he managed to have the most important role in this movie. Not going to spoil anything but you start feeling for Coulson's character later in the film and he definitely made a big impact in the story. Clark Gregg portrays Agent Coulson as the quirky yet down-to-earth S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Clark was able to make the character very likeable, which makes what happens to him in the film all the more powerful. Overall, the cast in this movie gave incredibly good performances, all the actors felt like they perfectly fit in their roles and they truly help make us believe that we’re watching our favorite superheroes on silver screen.         

Now, I have explained in large detail that the writing and performances were all very good. However, was the direction anything special and was it able to give the right kind of mood that fit this movie? The answer is “yes”. The direction for this movie was very well done, again praise goes to Joss Whedon whom not only was a great writer but a spectacular director for this film. The film was very fast-paced but it really works as the film becomes a spectacle that one cannot take their eyes away from. The well-done action helps as well to make this movie such a spectacle to view. The action scenes are wonderful but the reason it works so well with the film is because it is action that builds. There is stuff that happens in the first act but as it goes on, the film just gradually gets more and more thrilling that builds to this epic climax. And that epic climax is the true reason that this film was so greatly praised. When the Chitauri invasion occurs and the Avengers are ready to save the Earth, your heart will pumping hard and you will be loudly cheering at nearly every action the Avengers do during that scene. While the film can get very action-packed, the film has a rather light-hearted tone especially compared to the other superhero movies released this year (such as “The Dark Knight Rises”, “The Amazing Spider-Man”, and “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”). As you’ve probably seen from this review, “The Avengers” contains a lot of light-hearted quips and snarks that are shown throughout the movie. Now, this could damage the film and turn it into campy obscurity. However, these humorous quips and remarks actually work for the movie because they are actually pretty funny; I honestly laughed out loud during this movie. And I do believe there is a purpose to these funny quips as it really does make the movie more replayable. There is a reason why “The Avengers” is the 3rd highest grossing film of all time. I presume that many people weren’t just satisfied watching this wondrous movie for just a first time. With the combination of great acting, writing, directing, and humor to boot, I can guess a lot of people wanted to watch this movie again and again. Heck, I’ve watched this movie to prepare for the review way more times than I need to. This was a film that had broken records and I’m sure a lot of people would agree with me that the “Avengers Initiative” was an amazing success.

Overall, “The Avengers” is a truly amazing film. Everything in this film tries to achieve works incredibly well. The writing was simple yet well-done, the performances are superb, and the direction is amazing. This was a film that anyone could pick up and enjoy... however, there may be some moments that you may feel slightly in the dark. Thus, you may need to watch the other Marvel films in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” to understand some of the things being presented. However, it doesn’t alienate anything away from this truly amazing spectacle. This definitely will not be the last we’ll be seeing from Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, or the rest of the Avengers as sequels have already been announced for this individual films. And I definitely cannot wait to see more from the World’s Greatest Heroes.

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Greatest black comedy musical with a singing plant

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 13 February 2016 12:26 (A review of Little Shop of Horrors)

Listal hasn't been the only place where I've been posting reviews. There have been websites that I visited prior to discovering Listal where I decided to type out my thoughts on films that I had thoughts about. This is was an Blogger review of Little Shop of Horrors that was posted on September 30, 2012. One of my favorite films of all time along with being one of my favorite musicals. So I definitely had a lot to say about this film, maybe a bit too much. Hey, I was still developing a style. Anyhow, it's time for the review... 

In the grimy miserable slums of downtown Skid Row, there lays a flower shop that is running low on business. The awkward and clumsy Seymour Krelborn (played by Rick Moranis) works at this shop that is owned by his greedy boss, Mr. Mushnik (played by Vincent Gardenia). Also working there is the innocent yet victimized Audrey (played by Ellen Greene) whom Seymour has a huge crush on. On the brink of being closed, Seymour presents a very strange plant, resembling a Venus flytrap, in front of the store to help boost business. It works as this bizarre plant named Audrey II brings huge attention and financial success to this little old flower shop. However, this fame and fortune comes with a price as Audrey II needs a certain thing in order to survive: blood. Seymour supplies the plant with fresh blood coming straight out of his cut fingers. However, as Audrey II starts growing more and more, he starts gaining a voice (from famous Motown singer, Levi Stubbs) that starts persuading Seymour that he’s going to need more than just bruised fingers in order to continuing living. He is going to need to feast on full human bodies. Audrey II explains how much Seymour is dependent on Audrey II as his existence has brought fame, fortune, respect, and even the love of Audrey all to Seymour. And with all of this, how much will Seymour have to sacrifice in order to keep this newfound fame and respect? ...Oh, and did I forget to mention this was a musical, too? Yeah, the concept of “a talking man-eater Venus flytrap” sounds silly enough... but it is also a musical. That sounds like an incredibly ridiculous bad film. However, with a very interesting story, spectacular performances, and incredibly great and catchy songs, Little Shop of Horrors is definitely a very fascinating movie to watch.

One of the things that makes this movie truly stand out is the wonderful performances by some really great actors. While Rick Moranis is playing the usual stereotypical nerd that he was typecast as in the ‘80s, he still puts a lot of heart into the character of Seymour Krelborn. As a character who is constantly being pushed around, you really do sympathize with Seymour and hope to see him finally getting a break in life. However, the character is responsible for some horrible events in the film but are brilliantly left ambiguous, leaving the audience to decide whether you think Seymour was really responsible for the situation or not. Rick Moranis also has a very good singing voice, which all the more helpful during the music numbers. Vincent Gardenia does a great performance as the money-grubbing Mr. Mushnik who plays around with the usual role of a mentor. Ellen Greene does fills the role of Audrey with a lot of innocence and heart, but she does have a rather bubbly high-pitched voice that could be an annoyance. Luckily, she has a fantastic singing voice that makes her performance worth watching. As a Motown celebrity, Levi Stubbs fills his singing performance as Audrey II with a lot of charisma and energy. You know Levi Stubbs is having the time of his life voicing the botanical terror. Steve Martin makes a truly special appearance as Orin Scrivello, the abusive boyfriend of Audrey whom carries the awful occupation... as a sadistic dentist. Steve Martin puts a lot of energy in this role and making an unforgettable performance in the film, especially during his only musical number in the film titled “Dentist”. The movie also contains cameos from popular ‘80s comedies like Christopher Guest, John Candy, and Jim Belushi. But the one that stands out in terms of cameos is definitely Bill Murray who has a hilarious cameo as the manchild patient of Orin that enjoys his painful session a little too much. I literally burst out laughing throughout his entire scene.

Another interesting thing about the film is the story and how it is told as the movie is constantly swerving from being incredibly campy and silly to incredibly dark and serious. The movie has the ridiculous premise of “a talking man-eating plant that persuades a nerd into performing murder through song” and yet contains dark concepts of abuse, sadism, and escaping depression. It was created as a parody of B-movies (low-budget science fiction films with ridiculous premises and special effects) and yet plays out like a Greek tragedy. It is a film that is always standing on the thin line of being optimistic and cynical. It is one of the things that makes this film a great viewing experience. The effects for the main villain of the film, Audrey II, is also something that needs to be mentioned. In an age where most special effects are generated by computers, it is quite refreshing to look back at a film made during the time where they didn’t have such accessible technology. All the effects were done using a lot of master puppetry and design to show the many stages of this ever-growing beast of nature. The effects were impressive for their time (even got nominated for an Academy Award in “Best Visual Effects”) and they still look spectacular to this day. The effects were so amazingly handled that you honestly believe that Audrey II is an authentically bizarre plant with the ability to talk and sing, not just one large puppet.

Now, let’s not forget that Little Shop of Horrors is a musical, too. And like most musicals, the songs played throughout the story are an important part of the film. If the songs aren’t good, it could ruin the cinematic experience the movie was trying to aim for. Fortunately, the songs are not only very well-done but insanely catchy! I am not kidding you, once you listen to these songs. You will not be able to get them out of your head, but they are still really amazing songs. I can not name you a single song from the film that I did not love. However, special mentions to the songs that I loved the most were “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Dentist”, “Suddenly, Seymour”, and my favorite of them all, “Mean Green Mother from Outer Space”. Yeah, the song titles also sound pretty silly but they are really great songs worth listening to.

Overall, I consider Little Shop of Horrors to be a truly amazing film. The film has an interesting story, great performances, amazing special effects, wonderful musical numbers, and truly makes an unbelievable viewing experience. Honestly, I cannot say anything really bad about the movie and I truly recommend anyone to check this film out. It is certainly a cinematic experience that you will never forget.

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In all seriousness, this is a pretty awesome album

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 5 February 2016 01:23 (A review of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy)

”I always find something wrong. You been putting up with my shit just way too long. I’m so gifted at finding what I don’t like the most. So I think it’s time for us to have a toast” 

Kanye West always seems to be a man full of superlatives and oftentimes, contradicting superlatives. He’s the shittiest person and the greatest man living today. He’s the biggest jackass of our generation and the greatest mind of our generation. He’s an arrogant celebrity and an brilliant philosopher. He’s the best and worst thing to happen to rap in recent years. He’s apparently a God but also puts a featured credit to God in one of his songs. He’s married to a Kardashian and has named his children, “North West” and “Saint West”. People will argue till the end of time over how noteworthy an individual Kanye actually is and whether he is truly worthy of the hype that has surrounded his projects and around the man himself. But there is one thing that I feel few can attest to, Kanye West is the most polarizing musical figure of our generation. And I personally think that is a good thing because if nobody gave a shit about Kanye, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy would have never happened. The tropes and traditions of Kanye West could have easily have turned his projects into guilty pleasures. And trust me, there are definitely plenty of people who consider Kanye West a guilty pleasure. But there are probably just as many people would think he’s a genius and that many of his works are hip-hop masterpieces. I feel I’m in the middle of Kanye’s polarizing fanbase. I will wholeheartedly admit that Kanye West is a delusional, egotistical, annoying celebrity whose love of himself is immensely irritating. However, I cannot deny that the man has talent. The guy knows how to make incredible productions and, even with his passable flow and strange lyrical content, is fully capable of making an amazing album.

My Beauty Dark Twisted Fantasy works because it’s a Kanye album about Kanye that sounds like Kanye. Full of bombastic production, outrageous lyrics, and some social commentary about Black America sprinkled too. While not overtly deep or introspective, MBDTF is still one of Kanye’s most personal efforts whereupon he reflects on his own cultural turmoils and how that relates to the troubles of the world. To show why these measures work, I will compare to another recent Kanye West album that took the opposite approach to what MBDTF did and because of that, became an album I feel less passionately about: Yeezus. That album’s focus away from large-scale productions and personal reflection in favor of stripped-down more-experimental production and a focus on more conscious rapping really elevated Kanye’s weaknesses. While Kanye’s sporadic style of rapping works to represent his flowing mind in a reflection of his subconscious, this style of rapping does not work when trying to focus on serious topics or large-scale concepts. Songs like “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead” deal with themes of racism and systemic oppression towards blacks in modern-day America but juvenile lines like “300 bitches, where’s the Trojans?” and “I’d rather be a dick than a swallower” tend to ruin the serious tone Kanye was trying to convey with these songs. While the stripped-down experimental productions of songs like “I Am The God” or “Hold My Liquor” full of uneventful sounds and unexpected shifts to radically different rhythms really bring out how lackluster Kanye West can be as a rapper with his song concepts. “I Am The God” is not about how skilled he is as a rapper like Eminem’s “Rap God” but rather Kanye literally trying to convince people that he is A GOD!!! Spoiler Alert: Kanye West is not actually a God! Flimsy concept aside, Kanye West still manages to lose track of the song with lines like “In a French-ass restaurant, hurry up with my damn croissants”. Plus, the experimental nature of the album seems done without reason or passion. It feels less like an evolutionary move than a business move because critically-acclaimed hip-hop has been schewing towards experimental or conscious rapping for years. And Kanye wants this album to be as critically-adored as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was. It shows that the songs that work on this (“Bound 2”, “Blood On The Leaves”, and “Black Skinhead”) are the ones that embrace the extreme production with twisted samples and powerful choruses that made Dark Twisted Fantasy work. 

But enough negativity, let’s talk about great moments in this album because they are certainly a lot of them. The album starts off with Nicki Minaj using a faux-British accent to introduce the album like it’s a fairytale. An absurd move that does not really connect to anything else in the album but works within the overall insanity of the project which contains equally strange moments all throughout (i.e. the 3-minute Chris Rock phone call that ends “Blame Game” and the whole vocoder section that ends “Runaway”). Then, comes the glorious vocals from uncredited singers pondering and projecting the question, “can we get much higher?” The album notably ends on a completely different but thematically similar question, “who will survive in America?” Both questions reflects the confused concept of the black identity in America where the youths born with darker shades are conflicted with the knowledge of their roles in society. Constantly questioning whether things will get better and whether they will survive within future generations. But as an mind will often shift to different topics, the song shifts from an almost operatic opening to the more hip-hop inspired flavor with the introduction of Kanye’s verse which introduces the album’s themes of the influence of fame and overall hedonism... of course, doing so while Kanye is spending the time boasting about how great he is and proclaiming plenty of notable Kanye-isms

So you’re probably wondering what are “Kanye-isms” exactly. Well, Kanye-isms” are those incredibly cheesy lines found throughout many Kanye West songs that only Kanye can get away with saying. They usually border on the line between a badass boast and a cringeworthy wisecrack. I always found these moments both awesome and hilarious and the maximalist production only enhances these moments rather than let them ruin an awesome song. Here are some noteworthy Kanye-isms” present on the album: 

“Have you ever had sex with a pharaoh? I put the pussy in a sarcophagus.”
“Cause the same people that tried to black ball me/Forgot about two things, my black balls”
“Too many Urkels on your team, that’s why your wins low (Winslow)”
“I don’t need your pussy, bitch I’m on my own dick”
(There are so many other wonderful examples but I think I’ve made my point)

One notable track in this musical experience is “Runaway” with its wonderful piano intro that slowly increases into a much more beautifully estranged number full of loud blaring screams of “WE GOT THIS” and strange technified violin chords. Honestly, one of the few truly introspective moments where it seems Kanye is putting ego away for just a second to acknowledge his faults as a partner. But then, twisting the track into a reflective “toast to the douchebags”. Kanye crafts a poignant piece full of overwhelming beauty to the ears. Rather than portraying himself as the man with a whole lot of power, Kanye humanizes himself and bares all in this number and presents himself as a human being. Perfectly capable of making mistakes. The song ends with a large section whereupon Kanye releases loud, blaring, inaudible screeching using vocoder. This section represents Kanye’s awareness of his difficulties in communicating his points and people’s general dismissiveness of his ideas. This self-awareness on his relationship issues continues on in “Blame Game” and is a major theme in the album.  

Another element that makes My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy such an overwhelming, expansive experience is the multitude of guest artists featured on this projected (both credited and uncredited). The collaboration between this large list of accomplished musicians is shown providing some excellents moments on this album like the chorus for “Dark Fantasy” and pretty much the entirety of “All of the Lights”. “Monster” most notably features one of Nicki Minaj’s best rap verses, easily the highlight of the song. Her lines and delivery carries strength emphasizing her dominance over the rap game while occasionally bringing up her role as the most successful female rapper. I’m not usually a big fan of Nicki Minaj but even I acknowledge when she provides a truly dope verse. In comparison, Jay-Z’s verse is borderline laughable. From just listing a bunch of well-known monsters to exclaiming his weakness as “LOVE!”, it really is an underwhelming verse from acclaimed rap icon. He does manage to redeem himself with a much better verse on “So Appalled”, though. 

But Nicki is not the only other guest rapper that provides a memorable verse. Rick Ross actually provides one of his best rap verses ever in “Devil In A New Dress”, a surprisingly cohesive song from Mr. West continuing the theme of a wicked lover. Other highlights include Pusha T’s verse on “Runaway” that acts as the song’s intermission, Raekwon's verse on “Gorgeous” which shows the Wu-Tang Clan member is still killing it decades later, and CyHi the Prynce’s verse on “So Appalled” which saved an otherwise mediocre number full of rather underwhelming verses and bridges from both Kanye and the numerous guest rappers on this track. Speaking of underwhelming, “Hell Of A Life”, Kanye’s attempt at doing rap rock, fails to be enthralling due to the blaring production and the blatant sampling of the iconic “Iron Man” chorus. Kanye West managed to successfully incorporate a King Crimson sample in “POWER” but the Black Sabbath number is too iconic for Kanye to truly make it his own.

Overall, this album just works for me. I think the energetic, extreme approach Kanye took with this album was a risk that really payed off, providing a truly worthwhile experience. This is an album that is equal-parts entertaining and thought-provoking with powerful themes being mixed with personal touches from honestly one of the most interesting artists of the modern era. Is it a perfect masterpiece? No, I wouldn’t say that but the things this album does right truly outweigh its’ imperfections. Kanye West may be a controversial figure but that does not stop this album from being a fucking awesome album. 

Favorite Songs:
All of the Lights
Lost in the World
Who Will Survive in America
Devil In A New Dress

Least-Favorite Songs:

Hell of a Life 

So Appalled

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Humorous and haunting satire on race

Posted : 8 years, 5 months ago on 6 November 2015 02:37 (A review of C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (2004))

This is certainly an eye-opening film. This mocumentary takes place in an alternate history where the Confederate States won the Civil War. Presenting the nation's history after the events, the Confederate States of America shows an alternate reality where slaves were still commonplace and the nation was clearly under the fist of white, straight, Christian men. Now, is this film a well-researched piece of alternate history? Well, according to people on the internet, NOPE. But much more than an accurate historical representation, the film works in being a satire on current racial issues in America. Plus this film did teach me more about elements about the Civil War and early America that plenty of my history classes glossed over: 

-Samuel A. Cartwright and his ridiculous pseudoscience 
-The Southern States plans to expand slave-states in a “Golden Circle” 
-Judah P. Benjamin and his endeavor to bring foreign powers into the Civil War 
-And many other ridiculous details that have some historical parallel to real events 

 Along with the mocumentary itself, there are interludes throughout the film that showcase advertisements and news breaks that both provide some of the most humorous and shocking moments of the film. But it is also an interesting way to showcase all the racist products that were prevalent at one point in American history. These commercial interludes and the mocumentary's overall presentation help expose how slavery has been engraved in American culture and how a white-dominated culture (or rather a culture without diversity or different viewpoints) is a stunted, boring culture. Such a politically charged documentary is certainly not going to everyone's liking but for those who find the concept interesting, I'd say it's worth a watch.

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Unique Production, Conscious Rapping, Great Debut

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 8 October 2015 01:50 (A review of The Heist)

“Hey Macklemore, can we go thrift shopping?” 

Macklemore has certainly become a surprisingly controversial musician. I say “surprisingly” because I remember a time not too long ago where people were giving him large amounts of praise for various reasons. He was an independent artist that managed to break into the mainstream with a successful independent record. He was seen as refreshing for his anti-commercial messages in his hit songs. He got respect for writing a powerful gay rights anthem that also managed to be a hit song. He got to the #1 spot of the 2013 Year-End Billboard chart with a catchy silly song about thrift shops and cheap clothing. Plus, he seemed like a nice guy with a genuine passion for what he’s doing. So where did things go wrong for Macklemore…?

Well, his album beating Kendrick Lamar’s more acclaimed record at the Grammy’s got him some backlash. His response to his album snubbing Kendrick’s album also got him some backlash. There was the infamous incident where Macklemore made a performance wearing a mask that resembled a Jewish caricature that got him some backlash. Then, there was the typical backlash that came about due to him being a white, straight artist doing hip-hop songs and talking about gay rights. 

Anyhow, Macklemore has become a polarizing figure in the pop music world as of this moment. It will be interesting to see how Macklemore’s career continues as the release of his second mainstream album comes around in late 2015. But I don’t really want to talk anymore about Macklemore the person and his complicated celebrity politics bullshit. I want to talk about Macklemore the musician and see past all the hype and backlash, whether he made a good album or not. Let’s check out Macklemore’s successful debut album, The Heist… also, there’s this Ryan Lewis guy who does all the production on this album and him and Mack are credited as a duo but he is clearly showing himself to be the less-popular member of the two so there’s much to say about him but that doesn’t really matter so let’s get onto the review. 

Let’s talk about the duo themselves, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Like notable rap duos of the past (Eric B. & Rakim, Gang Starr, Madvillian, DJ Jaffy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, etc.), the rap team consists of the rapper, Macklemore, and the producer, Ryan Lewis. They both do a good job of elevating each other's strengths when it comes to collaborating Macklemore’s verses with Lewis’s beats. Macklemore is a fine rapper but it’s with the help of Lewis’s bombastic production that can span multiple genres in which Macklemore’s flow and rhymes really get to shine. On the other side of the coin, Lewis’s production is incredible but as the track BomBom (the only instrumental track on the album) shows is that Lewis’s beats requires Macklemore’s attention-grabbing verses and unique flow in order to make the production more memorable.

Self-described in the opening track as “David Bowie meets Kanye” West, Macklemore is certainly a unique rapper. There have been some critiques on his style of rapping, particularly his delivery and forced uses of rhymes (sometimes he doesn’t bother rhyming at all). I can agree with these critiques to any extent. But those elements grew up me. Furthermore, while lacking in delivery and rhymes, Macklemore makes up for it with his energy, overall enthusiasm and conscious lyrics. You can tell that Macklemore’s is generally ecstatic whenever he gets on the mic and that hype-man attitude definitely gets a listener pumped. From his “alrights” in the beginning of Can’t Hold Us to the genuine enthusiasm that he has about thrift shop clothing in Thrift Shop, Macklemore has the charisma that aids in the enjoyment of his music. But it isn’t just good times that Macklemore presents on this album as he does take the time to discuss important social-political issues.

A recurring theme in The Heist is Macklemore’s general anti-commercial attitude. The scathing critique of society’s infatuation towards basketball paraphernalia, particularly athletic shoes, in Wings. The excellent storytelling of Macklemore's own experiences trying to get signed to a label in Jimmy Iovine. Even the hilarious Thrift Shop has some excellent commentary on how people oftentimes spend too much money on clothes because they think it makes them look cool or because it’s a glorified brand. This material could have easily have been hipster trite but Macklemore manages to escape those connotations by thoughtfully presenting why he believes the less expensive option is better. He justifies the styling of cheap Goodwill clothing but playing with its’ charm to make the idea of buying from Thrift Shops sound cool. Similarly in White Walls, he justifies his support for the not entirely economical nor currently trendy Cadillac by proclaiming its’ old-school, classy feel. However, Macklemore isn’t just providing alternative economic choices for mundane objects. Another recurring theme of the album is Macklemore’s alcoholism which get referenced throughout the album but gets specifically focused on the track, Starting Over, which is a great personal track with an emotional story for the second verse.

Through the album, Macklemore explores more significant issues with masterful tact. The most noteworthy example being his gay rights anthem, Same Love. But just as significant is his discussion on police brutality in A Wake and how society is perfectly willing to ignore the plight of suffering African-Americans in favor of blissful ignorance and the false belief of a post-racial society. On a second listening, I was impressed by how well he handled the topic while acknowledging how he simultaneously feels disconnected from a cause he passionately wants to support because of his own whiteness. Gold is a feel-good track about Macklemore’s vision of a perfect paradise where everyone is equal and appreciated. With these songs, Macklemore produces some thought-provoking gems from what could have been just album filler. Most notably, the final lines of Jimmy Iovine and Wings along the second verse of A Wake provide some standout moments.

But it’s not just Mac and Ryan that are the only stand-outs on the album, there is a handful of mostly obscure artists that led to their voices to the album that helps provide some memorable hooks. For instance, Wanz’s work on the Thrift Shop helps make the track in his own, “fucking awesome”. With his deep baritone and smooth delivery, Wanz manages to make lines like “I’m wear your granddad’s clothes” and “I’m gonna pop some tags” sound absolutely badass. Ray Dalton’s actual chorus is just typical inspirational prose but the guy performs it with such grace and strength that makes the words seem powerful. It really does make you want to “put your hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us”. Even more effective, though, is the bridge near the end of the song that features an almost improvisational tone to it with Dalton’s scatting and whaling along with Macklemore’s shouting of “Na-Na-Na-Na” provides more grandiose to the song’s already epic tone. It sounds like it came straight out of the climax of a summer blockbuster. Most radio versions I listen to cut this part out due to shorten the track which really does disservice to the song. Mary Lambert’s chorus on Same Love gives the number the heartwarming anthem that this kind of song requires and perfects with her gentle vocals and poetic lyrics.

Not all of the choruses are spectacular and some of them suffer from poorer lyrics or vocal delivery but each of them have a certain charm to them that makes them worth listening to. They add character to the songs they are featured in as well as to the album as a whole. Most of the featured artists here are not big-name celebrities and I suspect that some of these artists will remain obscure after this album (seriously, anyone heard of “Eighty4 Fly”). But their inclusions add to the indie flare that The Heist embodies and the idea that they are literally stealing the attention away from the mainstream world to focus on the alternate, underground ways of living. 

Considering how much of a “rivalry” has come out between Macklemore and Kendrick Lamar, it is rather humorous in hindsight seeing two other Black Hippy members on this album. Ab-Soul contributes a hell of a grand chorus on Jimmy Iovine, filling the song with the raw energy and hardcore wrath that this song’s atmosphere embodies. In contrast, Schoolboy Q provides the most out-of-place feature on this album unfortunately on White Walls. I’m not the biggest fan of the song in general with its’ braggadocios vibe and car bragging theme not really working as well. But his verse just uses the typical rap cliches about pimping, drinking, and fucking hoes that really goes against some of the more sentimental elements of this track, turning White Walls into just another rap song about cars.

Ryan Lewis’s expansive production manages to embody multiple genres that feel appropriate to the specific song like the gospel tones on Neon Cathedral or the country elements on Cowboy Boots. Now, I’ll discuss more in-depth about my thoughts on some of the notable tracks in the album, like the strange closing track of the album, Cowboy Boots. I actually like this song with its strong ideas about growing old while sounding like a nostalgia-fueled dream full of mug shots and rough housing. I’ve seen plenty of country artists trying to emulate the hip-hop aesthetic but it’s certainly rare that I’ve seen a hip-hop artist emulating country. But you know Macklemore’s that kind of artist. While it’s musically unique to the album, the strangeness of this track is how it was the specifically chosen to end the album. Considering all the epic tracks that preceded it, the seldom country diddy seems like an odd note to leave the album on. But honestly, I think considering how unconventional Macklemore and Ryan Lewis been trying to make grand hip-hop jams and silly numbers, a strange mix of silly and somber song with the added element of country seems like a fitting choice. A similarly confusing moment in the track-listing was the overall placement of Thrift Shop. While I really like the song and the track turned me on to Mac and Ryan’s work, the placement of a borderline novelty song after the dynamically epic Can’t Hold Us seems like a rocky transition. Even more bizarre is the thrift shop reference in the latter song. While it could have been foreshadowing (maybe), the insertion of the thrift shop idea feels weird considering it was released as a single and directly placed in the album before Thrift Shop. So maybe the track-listing could have used some re-working but it overall doesn’t damage the quality of this album.

Overall, I feel this album has gotten undeserved backlash because of its’ win snubbing Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city. The two albums are really apples and oranges; they are both high-quality albums that succeed in completely different areas. I believe that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis should be appreciated to producing an incredible album with grand production, catchy songs, incredible vocal performances, and memorable lyrics. This is quite the encouraging debut that definitely makes me excited to see their future projects. I know there are plenty of people who aren’t going to be impressed with this music and just disregard any semblance of effort or conscious rapping put forth on this album. But for me, I have to say... 

I appreciate your place in music, Macklemore. (Such a corny line) 

Favorite Songs: 
Can’t Hold Us
Jimmy Iovine
A Wake
Thrift Shop
Cowboy Boots 

Least-Favorite Songs: 
White Walls 
Make The Money 

“Is that your grandma’s coat?”

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Not nearly as interesting as the first film

Posted : 8 years, 7 months ago on 18 September 2015 11:22 (A review of Creepshow 2 )

Listal hasn't been the only place where I've been posting reviews. There have been websites that I visited prior to discovering Listal where I decided to type out my thoughts on films that I had thoughts about. This is was an IMDb review of Creepshow 2 that was posted on July 29, 2013. Couple of years later, my views on the film hasn't changed but it's still interesting to see how reviewing style has (or hasn't really) changed. Also, I’m going to admit right now that I actually haven’t seen Creepshow 3 yet but from what I’ve seen so far, it looks terrible. Now, it's time for the review...

I am a fan of the original 1982 horror anthology film, Creepshow. It was a very enjoyable and creative film that paid homage to the classic EC comics like Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. It had some great people working on it such as George Romero, Stephen King, and Tom Savini. While I greatly enjoyed Creepshow, I found Creepshow 2 to be just OK.

There were many things that stroke Creepshow 2 as less superior to Creepshow. They were less anthology segments. While the first one had five segments and one segment that were used to frame it all together, the second one had only three segments and another segment that framed it all together. Also, the first Creepshow tried very hard to have a unique comic-book feel to make it even more of an EC Comic homage. Creepshow 2 significantly lacks that unique comic-book style for the most part. However, I could easily excuse the fewer segments and less attempts to have that comic-book style due to the lower budget that Creepshow 2 had.

However, the thing that really makes Creepshow 2 not as good as the original Creepshow is the fact that the stories in Creepshow 2 are not as nearly as interesting as in the first film. In the first movie, every segment was an interesting mix of horror and comedic elements that made each story interesting and entertaining to watch. Not every segment worked but each one managed to be incredibly memorable. In comparison, the segments in Creepshow 2 are just not as interesting. None of the segments are outright terrible but most of them aren't good enough to provide a really entertaining experience.

My favorite segment is the first one, "Old Chief Wood 'N Head", because it has biggest feel of an EC comic storyline with its ideas of supernatural elements being used to provide a cruel yet hilariously ironic sense of karma. I think this is a good story that starts the movie off on a good note. The next segment, "The Raft", is just some generic slasher-movie junk involving killer sewage. The characters are your usual teenage douche-bags whose immense stupidity ends up causing their downfall. I admit there are some good things in this segment. I wasn't really afraid of the antagonistic mud but I admit the way it killed its victims was pretty disturbing. Also, I admit I found the last shot of this segment to be pretty funny. However, the final segment is what I believe to be the worst segment of the film. It is the generic hitchhiker story that is pretty much a long supernatural chase with the same scares repeated over and over that makes you just wish the segment was over already. It isn't terrible but I found this last segment to be the most boring. I wasn't really that scared by the hitchhiker and I really didn't care whether the main character survived or not. Even the ending of the segment wasn't really that special and just made me just say "Eh". Also, I found the second film's framing story not nearly as good as the first one's framing story. The first movie's framing story was short and simple that easily set up the tale would used to transition into the main story segments and provided a cruel but funny twist at the end. The second movie's framing story is longer and uses animation. I admit I found the animation to be really weirdly done at certain points. The story is just overall not as entertaining with the cruel twist at the end being just sub-par.

That being said I don't think Creepshow 2 is a terrible movie. While not being as great as the original, I found it to be a pretty passable film. If you're feeling bored, I think Creepshow 2 is a good way of wasting an hour and a half. Still this movie is MILES better than the absolutely terrible Creepshow 3. Overall, I give this movie a 6/10.

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This is a perfect film

Posted : 8 years, 7 months ago on 11 September 2015 09:01 (A review of Toy Story 3)

Listal hasn't been the only place where I've been posting reviews. There have been websites that I visited prior to discovering Listal where I decided to type out my thoughts on films that I had thoughts about. This is was an IMDb review of Toy Story 3 that was posted on May 25, 2013. I just loved this film, at the time it was my favorite movie of all time. Couple of years later, my views on the film hasn't changed but it's still interesting to see how reviewing style has (or hasn't really) changed. Also, of note, Monsters University didn't turn out to be the Pixar-saving film that I expected it to be (that turned out to be Inside Out). Also, it has actually been confirmed that Toy Story 4 is being made (as opposed to the rumor it originally was) and I'm definitely not looking forward to it. Oh well. Now, it's time for the review...

It is rare for me to consider a movie to be perfect. I mean I know there is a lot of wonderful movies out there but it takes a certain kind of talent, heart, and intelligence for me to consider a film to be flawless. When it comes to Toy Story 3, I believe this film to be absolutely perfect.

It is the third and last part of the critically and commercially successful movie franchise about living toys that made Pixar a household name known as Toy Story. I actually consider the first two Toy Story films to be incredibly amazing movies. They have the right amount of great storytelling, wonderfully written characters, spectacular performances, groundbreaking computer animation, and giant amount of heart that make them deserving of the "classic" status. But I consider this film to be my favorite one in this spectacular trilogy.

The basic themes of the Toy Story franchise are dealing with maturity and loss seen through the adventures of a bunch of living toys enjoying their life in hands of a happy child named Andy. The first two films go into these themes, but it is this film that these ideas of growing up and dealing with loss of loved ones really are explored. This is really important as the first two films featured the toys being with their owner, Andy, when he was a child. But in Toy Story 3, Andy is all grown up and really doesn't need his toys anymore as he's going to college. They really do explore these rather adult themes and ideas while still being a presentable movie that children can enjoy. That is one of the great things that Pixar has done with their films is making films that anybody can watch. Anyone can watch Monsters, Inc., Wall- E, Up, and the Toy Story films without feeling like it was made specifically for children. A kid can watch this movie and love it, then grow up to watch it and love it the same or even more. That was exactly what Pixar did with its' Toy Story franchise when you think about.

Kids who were Andy's age when they watched the first Toy Story in 1995 ended up growing up with the franchise. When Toy Story 2 came out in 1999, those kids ended up watching it and loved it. Then Toy Story 3 came out in 2010, those kids are now grown up and in college just like Andy. They feel like this trilogy of films is telling their story and dealing with their feelings on maturing and losing "their precious toys". That is why many grown-ups cried during this movie and that is why I believe Toy Story 3 to be the perfect conclusion to this wonderful movie trilogy.

Now recently, people have been worried about the future quality of upcoming Pixar films. Films like Cars 2 and Brave have made people believe that Pixar reached its peak and can't produce any good quality work like they used to. Especially with the news of things like Monsters University, Finding Dory, and Toy Story 4 being in the works. However, I am a bit more faithful in Pixar and being hopeful that Pixar hasn't jumped the shark just yet. It seems Pixar is pulling a similar maneuver that they did with the Toy Story films with Monsters, Inc.. Monsters University seems like Pixar is not only aiming for kids but for the kids who loved watching Monsters, Inc. when it came out and are now in college. I hope the movie doesn't turn out to be the gross dumb college comedy that everyone is thinking it'll be.

Yes, there is possible plans for a Toy Story 4 but I really don't think a fourth film is necessary. I really think Pixar was able to get it right with making a trilogy of flawless animation masterpieces with the right amount of heart, intelligence, and talent. It is rare to see a trilogy of all good films, especially films like these that seem to progressively get better and better. Pixar has reached perfection with these films. This is why I believe Toy Story 3 to be a perfect film. It is not just my favorite film in the trilogy but one of my favorite films of all time. I believe that Toy Story 3 deserves the honor of getting an excellent rating of 10/10.

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Posted: 1 month ago at Mar 12 0:38
Stunning,...isn't she?


And spring is around the corner and we'll start to transition away from dull, grey skies to this:


As always, thanks for all the votes and comments! Your continued support is always appreciated!!
Posted: 1 month, 3 weeks ago at Feb 19 1:33
Time for a classic beauty:


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Posted: 3 months, 2 weeks ago at Dec 26 11:34
To all my friends, have a very Furry Christmas and a Happy Mew Year ;-)p (see whut I did there?)

Posted: 3 months, 3 weeks ago at Dec 24 23:27
Christmas wishes and hope for a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Posted: 4 months, 3 weeks ago at Nov 21 0:43
Winter is coming,...the days are getting shorter,...the perfect time for this kind of list:


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Posted: 7 months, 2 weeks ago at Aug 28 23:46
It's been awhile since I posted one of these!


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Posted: 8 months, 1 week ago at Aug 6 14:20
With all the recent discussion about Artificial Intelligence:


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Posted: 1 year, 5 months ago at Nov 1 10:59
Posted: 1 year, 7 months ago at Aug 24 2:37
Summer is winding down and the kids are going back to school. Time to induct a few more celebrities into the Tao-Tao-Tau Sorority House:


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Posted: 1 year, 9 months ago at Jul 18 2:41
With the launch of the Webb Telescope, now's a good time for this list:


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Posted: 1 year, 11 months ago at May 8 1:52
Some of you know my history. I lost my wife at an early age to ovarian cancer and was left to raise my children with the help of my brother and sisters. A few years ago, my older sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and it was my turn to pay her back. Now, hopefully, in a few weeks, her next round of tests and bloodwork will come back and we'll be able to finally, OFFICIALLY, say she's in remission!! Tomorrow is Mother's Day, which has become a day to support breast cancer research for a final cure. Please support this cause by donating to your local breast cancer organization! In the meantime, enjoy a few new examples of pink power!


As always, thanks for all the votes and comments! Your continued support of both my lists and cancer research is always appreciated!!
Posted: 2 years, 1 month ago at Feb 26 1:57
Cleaning out the latest episodes of these series, so I can start working on new stuff:


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Posted: 2 years, 2 months ago at Feb 9 18:13
Because you just can't keep a good list down:


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Posted: 2 years, 2 months ago at Feb 7 12:21
Posted: 2 years, 3 months ago at Dec 26 8:52
Best wishes to all my friends, hope yur holidays are great, and let's try and make it thru to the next year ;-D

Posted: 2 years, 8 months ago at Aug 8 3:10
Are you ready for more football?? The final draft group is here!


And once again,...the other draft polls will remain open until the start of the season, just in case you may have forgotten to actually make some selections:


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Posted: 2 years, 8 months ago at Jul 26 0:38
Since there's a fake member trying to con people into buying fake money, here's a real list about real money:


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Posted: 2 years, 11 months ago at May 6 1:27
Are you ready for some football?? Yes, the Listal Football League is returning for 2021! But first, the teams need to be stocked with celebrity players. I've simplified the rules from 2019, but PLEASE read through them before making your selections.


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Posted: 3 years ago at Apr 9 3:28
It's Spring! Time to throw your windows open and sing a song!


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Posted: 3 years ago at Apr 4 16:03