With Phase 4 ending and Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe beginning, many fans are left wondering, “Is this it?! Did Marvel fall off?” While some movies and shows are better than others, for the last two years, we’ve got plenty of content from the house of Marvel. Is that part of the problem? And, what about us, as viewers? Have we become so accustomed to their success that whenever a new project hits, we bash it whenever we see something we don’t like? Are we spoiled children, at the toy store? With criticisms about their overuse of comedy, overworking their CGI artists, and Marvel being “woke”, it leaves the question; Are fans done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
The short answer is no. No matter how much toxic fans complain, they will STILL go to theaters and keep their Disney Plus memberships to watch MCU projects. However, let’s examine some issues that are having critics debating among themselves. First, the humor. While comedy is good in any type of film, too much can do a disservice to the product. Case in point, Thor: Love And Thunder. At first glance, it looked like Thor: Ragnarok, but better. As it turned out, the movie had too much comedy and too little substance. Love and Thunder was supposed to deal with a returning Jane Foster and her dealing with being Thor and having cancer. We also had a terrifying villain in Gorr, who wanted to see all Gods suffer for abusing their power. But, for the most part, we received one-liners every five minutes, some shoddy CGI in some scenes, and a repeated character arc with Thor. Similar to Quantumania, we were led to believe that this movie would be ushering in the next big bad, with Kang the Conqueror. To be fair, the moments with Kang were the selling point of the whole film. If the next phase wants to have success, one of the ways is to have their villains breathe on screen and allow them to be more imposing.
Another critique that is becoming more relevant is their use of CGI. Marvel’s CGI has continued to get worse due to overworking their artists. Deadlines for movies can’t (or won’t) be pushed back, so the higher-ups make their artists push things to the limit. Often, this leaves artists little time to perfect the material, which leaves the audience with scenes that feel like they’re looking at a PlayStation 3 cutscene. We saw it in Love and Thunder (notice how that movie keeps coming up.) Even Black Panther had this issue, with the final battle in the final act. And with Marvel’s Phase 4 films and shows, it’s getting worse. With Phase 5 underway, Marvel has slowed down on film and shows coming out, back to back. This is a good thing since those projects will (hopefully) allow artists more time to complete their work, so we can enjoy more polished products.
Then, we have what may be the most difficult problem to tackle…Us. Are we the problem? Have we gotten so used to Marvel giving us these great movies that we’ve become spoiled? And what about shows like She-Hulk, or Falcon and The Winter Soldier? Whenever Marvel attempts to show the representation of a minority, it’s written off as “go woke, go broke”. Rather, Marvel is trying to address real-world issues while mixing super-heroics into their stories. Phase 4 got a lot of flack for this, with Wanda/Vision showcasing why mental health is important. The aforementioned Falcon and The Winter Soldier, show that even as an Avenger, Sam Wilson still has to deal with racism when being stopped by cops or not being able to get a loan from the bank. Phase 4 wasn’t the best, but it was personal, which is fitting, considering that the Pandemic happened around that time, and everyone was dealing with that in their own way. Another critique is that politics have entered one of our favorite fandoms, where we once could get away from all that. But I’d like to remind some folks that politics has been in comics (and the MCU, by extension) for a long time. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about what would happen if superheroes were real, so why are some crying foul when real issues are being discussed?
Do I love the MCU? Yes. Are they perfect? Far from it. Can they get better? I hope so. And, I’m not bashing the MCU, so much as I want them to learn from failed experiments and grow. Sometimes, less is more, and spectacle shouldn’t come before the story. Maybe this will fall on deaf ears, but I’m just a concerned fan who wants Marvel to do better. That’s all for me, fam. If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to comment, share with others, and follow me on Instagram @blerdpov2.0. Till next time, fellow blerds!
If you told me that an animated movie about a swashbuckling cat would not only be one of the best movies of 2022, and be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Picture, I wouldn’t believe it. Even when going to see it in theaters, I didn’t expect much. After all, this was another sequel to a beloved but waning franchise. At face value, this looked like another cash grab. But after finishing this movie, I have to say, DreamWorks Studios put themselves back on the map with this one! Puss In Boots: The Last Wish is out now, starring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Harvey Guillen, Wagner Moura, and more. The film covers the “legendary hero” and folktale character, Puss In Boots, as he is down to the last of his nine lives. While advised to retire from his heroics, Puss’s pride won’t let him. As it turns out, a legend of a fallen mystical star, granting anyone's wish has landed. It’s up to Puss In Boots to find this star and wish for more lives. However, he may have to contend with the mistakes of his past lives, first.
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!
So, I did NOT expect this movie to go this hard! Blending 3d and 2d animation for action scenes Spiderverse-style, to the humor the other characters display to the overall message of cherishing the life you have instead of wasting it. The Last Wish really didn’t have any weak points in the film. From the opening minutes, we’re treated to this big musical number, displaying why Puss In Boots is such a hero; stealing from evil kings, and slaying giants, all while doing it with style. The crowd loves him, as Puss has fallen in love with his own legend. Until it begins to backfire on him.
After his last death, Puss is told to retire, or his next death will stick. In denial, Puss refuses to heed his doctor’s advice…until a mysterious bounty hunter wolf arrives. With one of the best villain introductions ever, the bounty hunter plays with Puss, at first. Toying with Puss’s ego by wanting an autograph on a wanted poster. Puss laughs in his face, prepared for battle. Puss, however, learns the old adage that the more you mess around, the more you find out. The Wolf embarrassed Puss in a short fight, even drawing blood. Visibly terrified, the wolf introduces himself as Death. Wielding twin scythes, and showing blood-red eyes, Puss barely escapes and has no choice but to retire. Living with an actual cat lady, Puss meets Perrito and discovers that the legend of the wishing star is real. With renewed hope, Puss, Perrito, and Kitty Softpaws (Puss’s old flame whom he left at the alter) against the crime family of Goldilocks and The Three Bears to find the magic map and get to the star.
I cannot state enough how good this movie is. The action, the humor, the animation, it’s everything you could ask for in an animated flick. Also, from what I’ve heard, it’s a big improvement from the first Puss In Boots, movie. While the voice acting was great from the main characters, the real star of the film is certainly Wolf aka Death. From the moment he appears, whistling in the background, Wolf shows us he doesn’t mess around. From the way he stalks Puss throughout the film, to how he talks, Wolf steals every scene he’s in. While not a villain per se, (technically, he didn’t do anything wrong, except his job, He is the Grim Reaper, after all.) he’s definitely the best antagonist we’ve seen grace animated screens in years. In addition, he's really not acting out of malicious intent. Wolf is not after the wish or wants to make Puss suffer. He just does his job extremely well and knows that Puss's time is up. He does relish the hunt, though. Throughout the film, we only see him four times, but each time, Puss's hairs stand up in fear.
Another plus is the character development of Puss. From being a cocky glory hog who only cares about preserving his own legend, to learning not to take life for granted. Puss understands that his life is more than cheap thrills and lonely adventures. We see Puss confess his regret to Kitty for leaving her at the altar, address his fear of dying, and eventually overcome that fear while fighting Wolf. Even Goldilocks has her moment of truth, confronted with her wish for a “real” family over the genuine one she already has.
I really don’t have any truly bad things to say about this movie, other than I’m sorry for sleeping on it before! The runtime is short but sweet. It revitalizes the Shrek franchise, and it should have been promoted better, because it came out in late December of 2022, and I didn’t even know of this one until late January from TikTok! (Strange World also didn’t have an adequate promotion, but that’s for another post.) I give Puss In Boots: The Last Wish a 9 out of 10!
Thank you so much for supporting this blog, as we see another year! I hope you’re killing those New Year Resolutions! Be sure to share this post with friends, and till next time fellow blerds!
It’s been some time since I’ve given praise to fictional parents. With the newly released God of War: Ragnarök out on consoles, it’s only appropriate to show the growth of the former God of War, the Ghost of Sparta himself, Kratos. NO SPOILERS, SINCE I DIDN’T FINISH RAGNAROK YET. BUT TINY SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED THE OLDER GAMES.
Before he was at war with the Norse Gods, Kratos was seeking vengeance for what the Greek Pantheon did to him. Manipulated nearly from birth, Kratos was a Spartan warrior who lost every member of his family to the Gods’ machinations. His brother, Deimos, was taken from him as a child. His mother became one of many victims of Zeus’s womanizing ways and was tricked into killing his wife and daughter by Ares. That was the final straw, which lead Kratos to wage war with, eventually, all the Greek Gods. One by one, Kratos brutally destroyed the Gods, until Zeus himself was left. In an epic struggle, Kratos exacted his revenge. Killing Zeus, Greece was brought to ruin, and for Kratos, only death remained. Killing himself, (to spite Athena and keep the power of hope away from the Gods) the story of Kratos ended in Mt. Olympus. Or so we thought.
Flash forward over a decade later, and we see Kratos with a new family. With Faye, his wife, passing, it’s up to Kratos and his son, Atreus, to fulfill her last wish. Scatter her ashes over the highest peak in all the realms. Easier said than done, with the strained relationship between father and son. Atreus wants to prove that he’s ready for the journey ahead of them, but Kratos has his doubts. Furthermore, Kratos hides the true heritage of his Godhood from Atreus. While on their journey, Kratos learns how to love again and be the best father he can, while Atreus learns the way of the warrior and how not to make the same mistakes his father made.
There are some critiques about the God of War series that I want to briefly debunk. For one, there isn’t a single “bad” entry in the franchise. That includes God of War: Ascension, the “black sheep” of the series. For another, Kratos wasn’t just a one-note character, only consumed with rage. Throughout the games, he has shown a softer side, it was just pushed to the back for the sake of pushing the gameplay. In the prequel, Chains of Olympus, Kratos has a chance to be reunited with his daughter, Calliope. But, when Persephone (the goddess of death) schemes her way into destroying Elysium (the Greek version of heaven), Kratos’ daughter will be lost as well. With one of the most painful choices of his life, he pushes her away, to save her. One of the many regretful choices Kratos has had to make, over his lifetime.
With Atreus, Kratos struggles with his anger, wanting to explode, at times. But, with his past experiences, he now has the wisdom to learn and grow. When Atreus snaps at him for not showing any kind of remorse over losing his mother, it takes all Kratos has not to succumb to his anger and snap back. For the most part of God of War (2018), he exudes a wave of quiet anger, only yelling when necessary. (Which is even more fitting.) He, at first chides Atreus for mistaking not voicing his grief for not having any. As soon as he says this, Kratos regrets it, stating that he didn’t teach Atreus how he deals with loss. Later, though, the two form a bond that won’t be broken by anything. Whether it’s fighting ogres and demi-gods, or saving each other from certain death, their bond becomes stronger. What’s more, is that they learn from each other. Kratos begins to let his guard down emotionally, and Atreus learns that just because you’re a god, doesn’t mean you’re above reproach. One lesson that still says with me is when Atreus makes some mistakes, early in the journey, on a hunting expedition. He quickly apologizes, but Kratos sternly replies, “Do not be sorry. Be better”. It’s not just the line that resonates, but how he says it. After checking his own anger in his son’s mistakes, Kratos realizes that he must practice what he preaches. As gamers, we see that happen, as father and son become better versions of themselves. Atreus learns how to fight, but more importantly why they fight while still holding on to his humanity. Kratos is still that God-killer, but with more reason to strive for humanity.
I’m sorry if this ran a bit long, but I’m a big God of War fan. Played all of them, and dare I say, there hasn’t been a bad entry in the series, yet. With the new games going for more personalized storytelling, it’s only going to get better. That’s all, for now, fam. Be sure to share this blog, follow me on Instagram at @blerdpov2.0, and till next time fellow blerds!