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BlokeBusting The Essentials #39: Thor

Stop, Hammer Time!

#39: Thor

Or

The Day The Earth Stood A Little Still

This will be a fun one to discuss!

First Impressions

This film was one that I remember not really enjoying that much on the first viewing. I had no real knowledge of pretty much every character and actor/actress in the film and I couldn’t fully embrace the Thor character because I felt he was a little stiff. Have I changed my mind? Let’s find out!

The Characters

  • Chris Hemsworth: Thor

    As we all know now, Thor becomes one of the best characters in the entire MCU by Endgame. And that’s not an opinion, he’s genuinely one of the best characters with some of the best character arc bits. And knowing that when re-watching this film can give you some real perspective on how naive the character is. I still stand by my initial assessment that the Thor we get in this film is very stiff (calm down ladies and gentlemen!), I can now understand what I wasn’t getting before. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to think of Thor as a character who had actual character depth (even if his character at the time was as shallow as possible). Ah well, now I know!

  • Natalie Portman: Jane Foster

    Um. She’s…. ok? To be honest, I never liked her in this and on rewatching I still don’t really see her as anything to write home about. Or write an article about. Personally I think that Kat Dennings is way more fun to watch as Darcy Lewis, even though she’s relegated to “sidekick” status here. So yeah, kinda dull.

  • Tom Hiddleston: Loki

    There’s not many characters in the MCU who start as they mean to go on. The actors get comfortable in their roles and can make them come alive more. I think that Hiddleston hit the damn nail on the head here and gave us a Loki who we KNOW will go bad and we also know that he actually has good reason to. The fine line of humour, drama and madness is there from the start and only gets better down the line. Well done Hiddles!

  • Everyone Else: Everyone Else

    As you may guess, there’s waaay too many people to list even all the main characters here without taking 90% of the article length. So here’s the ones I found fun:

    – Odin: A good character for this film but I’m glad he wasn’t on screen more, if that makes sense.

    – Heimdall: Idris Elba. Fun! Next!

    – Sif & The Warriors Three: Kinda fun but basically end up being time wasters by the end. Not a huge criticism, given the run time there was no more room, but still valid.

The Setting

This film was our first introduction to Asgard, the realm of Thor and Norse Gods, within the MCU. And they actually did quite well spending time there, given that tradition would dictate that you get an intro, maybe 20 minutes max, before Thor gets stuck on Earth with minimal screen-time for Asgard after that. At least, that’s what most comic book films did back then, because audiences wouldn’t want to see lots of stuff in totally fantasy realms that they can’t relate to. Or so seemingly ever single studio thought. Not Marvel though. We got LOADS of time in Asgard and even a fair share of time in Jotunheim, the realm of the Frost Giants. I really do appreciate how different this film was to others that came before.

Now the flip side is that I actually get kinda bored with the Earth stuff. There’s a fairly boring location, not really much that happens outside of “Hey, I want my hammer back!” and “Hey, they took my research!” until The Destroyer arrives (though surely simply yelling “Klaatu Barada Nikto” would have ended that fight really quickly!). So funnily enough the exact opposite of what most studios had feared occurs where we get bored with the stuff that should make us connect with the characters on a subconscious personal level and we enjoy more the stuff that we cannot begin to connect with in the same way. Who’d have thought it?

Alrighty, we’ve heard a fair bit from me but my partner-in-crime has yet to chime in. Let’s fix that right now! Take it away Bubba!

It’s been a while since I’ve watched this. In fact, I think I watched it once during the first year of this site and I don’t think I’ve re-watched it since. I do enjoy Thor as a character and a setting as I’m a fan of high fantasy and Thor is a mix of high fantasy and superhero, and this first movie has a touch of fish out of water with Thor coming to Earth. It’s interesting to look back at this origin story for Thor considering how much he’s changed over the course of three solo movies and four Avengers movies. It’s a bit of a backlash to see where he started, but it also makes his transformation so interesting. Plus, the chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston is evident right here from the beginning. The only downside is that Thor spends half of the movie being the pre-heroic Thor who is a complete arrogant jerk, and director Kenneth Branah has a bit of an overuse of Dutch tilts during most of the scenes on Earth. Otherwise, it’s a fun action origin with a touch of romance.

During the first phase of the MCU, Thor was actually the highest grossing origin behind Iron Man. It was also part of the MCU’s ongoing goal to bring in relatively big named directors not known for doing superhero movies like Kenneth Branagh who was best known for his Shakespearean tendencies. And as of 2020 based on currently announced titles, Thor will be the only Marvel hero to have a fourth solo movie unless Love and Thunder becomes more of an origin story for Jane-as-Thor. As far as the MCU goes, it’s important as the origin for one of the original Avengers though it’s possible that it might be replaced by Ragnarok which was a big turning point for the character to bring him more into the comedy realm. But as for the list as it stands. I’m sticking by this one, especially over the less well received the Dark World.

Danke Mr Wheat. And so, we bring ourselves to the big questions. The questions that we must all ask ourselves from time to time. And those questions are:

  1. Would I recommend this film to others?
  2. Does this film deserve to be on the list?
  3. If so, where does it appear on the list?

Given that I seem to have developed a pattern of following the usual order of numbers, let’s go for #1 first.

1) Yes. I’d even recommend doing as I did, watching the film again after seeing the others. You get the full appreciation of the arc of Thor (and his washboard progression) AND I feel like I understood more of the film once I had more knowledge of the world.

2) Yup. See above & it’s the origin of an amazing Superhero!

3) Let’s see. Carry the 2, cross out the 9 and add Pi. So that puts it….

  1. Hellboy
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger
  3. The Crow
  4. Men In Black
  5. Dr Strange
  6. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  7. Megamind
  8. Thor
  9. Batman: The Killing Joke
  10. Superman 3
  11. The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
  12. The Meteor Man
  13. Supergirl
  14. Howard The Duck
  15. The Fantastic Four (1994)
  16. The Punisher
  17. Batman & Robin
  18. The Amazing Spider-Man
  19. Batman Forever
  20. BvS: Dawn Of Justice

    Potential Substitutions:

    Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
    X-Men: The Last Stand (replacing Catwoman)
    Turbo Kid (replacing The Incredible Hulk)
    The Incredibles 2 (replacing Fant4stic)

Maybe a bit of a surprise for you guys there, but I feel that’s about right. And now we must draw this review to a close. As the Bifrost Bridge begins to spin up, I shall bid you Adieu and…………

Oh bugger, it missed me. Ah well, I’ll walk then. Toodles!

BlokeBusting The Essentials #89: Fant4stic

Did NOBODY say anything about just how bad that title looks?

#49: Fant4stic

Or

Something tells me you might know how I feel about this film already. Let’s see…

First Impressions

Ok. I’m going to admit something here that I think you might be a little surprised by. I didn’t hate the 2005 Fantastic Four film. I know it’s not good, but I was alright with it. I went into this film knowing that it had a SOLID cast, a director who had done some good work and a studio with money behind it. So, all things considered, sounds like a great recipe! Then I saw the film in the cinema. And now you get to hear about it.

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #40: Megamind

Yo, listen up; here’s a story about a blue guy that lives in a….. CG world!

#40: Megamind

Or

The Battle Of The Egos

This one is actually something that breaks a personal rule that I have. You’ll find out what that is in just a little while…

First Impressions

This film kinda came out of nowhere when it arrived in the cinema (at least in England). Suddenly there was an animated film about superheroes/villains that actually focused on a villain and made you understand a side of the equation that you may have avoided thinking about. And I think I managed to see this without knowing who played Megamind. This is key, and connected to my earlier comment. So, let’s dive right into the cast!

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #90: Batman Forever

#90: Batman Forever

Or

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That: Who Even Remembers This Bat?

Oh yeah, this film exists!

First Impressions

I remember watching this on TV when I was younger, but I don’t recall if it really made that much of an impression on me. I could clearly remember TLJ’s Two-Face and Carrey’s Riddler, as well as the major plot beats, but I don’t really have any moments from the film that jumped out when I tried to think about it. So, will a re-watch change that?

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #41: Men in Black

I don’t think the title is obvious enough…

#41: Men In Black

Or

Don’t Be A Menace To New York While Chilling With Aliens In HQ

There’s waaaaay too many Will Smith references that we could start this one off with. Nah, forget it. Yo homes, to the review!

First Impressions

I recall going to see this film with a friend of mine, my family and his. We took the train there (since that’s a thing that you can actually do if you live in the UK), we watched the film and I’m moderately confident that I spent the majority of the train ride back talking about various things from the film. So I think it’s fair to say that I enjoyed this film the first time. Did it hold up? Let’s find out…

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #91: The Meteor Man

At least they worked in a good reason for the fact that that costume looks VERY cheap!

#91: The Meteor Man

Or

It’s a….. Middle-School teacher?

Given my (essentially) middle-class upbringing in the South East of England, I feel that I’m totally empathetic towards these characters!

First Impressions

The first time I ever heard of this film was when I was looking through the list of films that Bubba had put together. Watching the trailer didn’t really help either, since it comes from a time where you actually got a trailer that didn’t give away THAT much from a film. And I’ll be totally honest here and say that the majority of the cameos are totally lost on me. There were 2 that I knew (which I’m sure you can guess), Bill Cosby and Sinbad. Yes, that means I had no idea who the gang members were. Pretty much any of them. I’m not good with that realm of culture! Anyway, onto the main cast!

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #42: The Incredible Hulk

Who’d have thought that only one name from that poster would return to the MCU!

#42: The Incredible Hulk

Or

Wait, was that the Ang Lee one or the other one? You know, it’s just so confusing…

And now to write the entire review attempting to draw as few comparisons to the other Hulk films as possible…

First Impressions

I’ll be honest, I did not enjoy this film the first time I watched it. I recall being bored, I recall having a lot of trouble getting any satisfaction with the final battle and I also recall not enjoying Norton’s take on Banner. So going into this re-watch I sat down fully intending to re-evaluate my stance and cast a more critical eye over the film than the personal lens that I originally used. Let’s see how that went!

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #92: Howard The Duck

So strange, we had to use a poster from another country to do it justice!

#92: Howard The Duck

Or

How Did This EVER Get Made?

Uuuhhhhhhhhhh…….

First Impressions

…… Right. This film was one that I’d heard of before but had never bothered trying to watch. And when I say I’d heard of it, my entire knowledge of it is that:

1) The Nostalgia Critic did a review of it.
2) There are female duck breasts on screen. I’m not joking.
3) It’s based on a loved but obscure Marvel comic character.

That’s it. That’s my entire previous knowledge of this film. I didn’t even look anything up about it before I watched it because I wanted to go in blind. I’m fairly sure I made the right call, so if you also haven’t seen it yet, I would suggest doing so before reading this review (unless you don’t mind spoilers or just want to prove me wrong).

So I hit play, I watched it and now I need to talk about it. Be prepared, this review is going to some weird places.

The Characters

  • Howard The Duck (Ed Gale/Chip Zien)

    There’s honestly way too much to unpack here for me to not make this the longest review I’ll ever write. So here’s what you need to know. He’s brought from a duck planet to ours by Deus Ex Machina, he’s supposedly a master fighter but manages to not really show that at all, he effectively forgets that he has a girlfriend from the moment he meets Lea Thompson and his jokes don’t land. However, for a product of its time, he actually works quite well. And compared to the live action TMNT of the 90’s, it’s astounding how well the duck costume works! But this character was definitely one that should have been on the back burner for a while before being brought forward, not the first Marvel live action film main star!
  • Beverly (Lea Thompson)

    So remember when Lea Thompson played Lorraine in BTTF? Well, take the young version of that, imagine her as a punk rocker who spends a fairly long scene in her underwear and then accept that she’s the love interest of the film. Yeah, you’ve got this character down. She’s fun, she’s very odd and she works really well. The only issue I had was that the bed scene (yep, there’s a bed scene) kinda looked like she was attempting to canoodle with a large kid’s toy. And that I just had to write that last sentence…
  • Phil Blumburtt (Tim Robbins)

    I….. honestly don’t know how to describe this guy. He’s insane, he’s very annoying and he’s kinda hard to watch. At least until the demon arrives. Then it’s as if Tim Robbins simply said “Screw it, I’m just going to have fun here!” and he hits the right level of snarky and over-the-top. And anyone who hasn’t seen the film is probably more interested in the demon bit. Don’t worry, he’s next! But seriously, this film has two very different versions of this character, with the latter half making up for the former half. So an overall “ok” grade then.
  • Dr Walter Jennings (Jeffrey Jones)

    And in this film about space ducks and a very odd 80’s Cleveland, OH, we reach the strangest character in the film. He starts off just fine. And then he’s possessed by an ancient evil from outer space (just roll with it) and starts to talk as if Judge Doom (the REAL JD) had a total laryngectomy. And he stays just like that for about 80% of his screen-time. This was a VERY odd choice. And I don’t know if it was the right one. It really is difficult to get used to. I’m sure many people love this guy, but it really didn’t work for me.

The Setting

I’m going to simply type out how this film is set and let you do the jokes in your own head.

“A 27-year old Howard from Duckworld gets sucked into space and lands in 1980’s Cleveland, Ohio. He meets (in chronological order) the front lady for an all-female rock band, a scientist who’s actually a janitor and a scientist who becomes a demon. He then saves the world.”

Yeah, there’s nothing I can say that could poke more fun at that premise than the premise itself. So, moving on!

Who Is This Film For?

I’m honestly not sure who this was made for. Clearly the people involved were passionate about the project, since it’s just so odd that anyone not invested would have just given up or underperformed. I’ve done a little research into Howard and it seems like there’s quite a huge lore and rich history there. He even fights a Hellcow. I bet you wish they’d put that in this film! But anyway, back to the question at hand. I feel like everyone involved had an idea in their heads, but it never lined up. This also feels kinda like a first draft that nobody ever bothered to go back to before filming started. It’s definitely not one of the worst films of all time, but it’s nowhere near good cinema!

Anyway, on to Bubba’s thoughts on the whole thing.

I’ve actually seen this a few times now and I think the more I see it, the more I appreciate it although I would never in my right mind call this a good movie. There’s a lot to appreciate here, front and center is Lea Thompson’s Beverly. One of the most talked about scenes in this movie is when she is coming on to Howard, but I think it’s actually a more subtle performance and it’s more like they are joking around with each other and she is calling Howard’s bluff. You can see it in her face right before she starts going at him. Most of the rest of the movie just plain doesn’t make sense though. There’s nearly adult humor, like how Howard gets a job as a mop boy at what appears to be a sex motel. There’s an odd chase scene with an ultralight plane. Nearly every person in the film reacts differently to the fact that Howard is a duck, they either scream or act like it’s completely normal. And the rest of the acting is way over the top. It’s tough to know if they were really going for action, comedy, love story, or adventure and it fails at most of them.

Without going too much farther, it’s an odd thing to say but this is the first theatrical adaptation of a Marvel comic. Instead of going with one of their A-list characters, or even their B or C list characters, they go with the adult satirical non-superhero Howard the Duck. Not only that, but they get a pedigree behind it, George Lucas helped push to get this film made. And while it was originally considered as an animated film, they pushed up the release date and decided to make it live action to shorten the production time. This caused plenty of headaches with the duck suit and ultimately it became a box office bomb. It only grossed $37M worldwide on a $36M budget. In 1986. Nowadays it’s a bit of a cult film but overall it’s still considered one of the worst comic book movies ever made. But even so, nothing can take away from the fact that this was the first theatrically released Marvel movie.

Thanks once again Mr Wheat! So, let’s dive right into the last part. It’s time to ask those three important questions:

  1. Would I recommend this film to others?
  2. Does this film deserve to be on the list?
  3. If so, where does it appear on the list?

And before a Dark Overlord turns up, let’s get those answered!

1) Yeeeeeeeesssss? It’s something that a few of my friends would find fascinating. However I’d never suggest that someone who isn’t fully prepped. So make sure you adequately prepare anyone you suggest this to.

2) Yes it does. Despite any particular feelings you may have about this film, it is the first proper Marvel Live Action film (if you don’t count the 1944 Captain America B&W serial, which you shouldn’t) and as such should have a place on the list. And speaking of that…

3) Well, here it is:

  1. Hellboy
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger
  3. The Crow
  4. Dr Strange
  5. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  6. Batman: The Killing Joke
  7. Superman 3
  8. The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
  9. Supergirl
  10. Howard The Duck
  11. The Fantastic Four (1994)
  12. The Punisher
  13. Batman & Robin
  14. The Amazing Spider-Man
  15. BvS: Dawn Of Justice

Potential Substitutions:

Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
X-Men: The Last Stand (replacing Catwoman)

I’m sure you guessed where it would go. It wasn’t quite the earliest Superhero film, but it was obscure and an attempt to bring a more interesting character to the masses. And possibly with more care and attention (and just better effects overall), we can get a remake/reboot that will do the character justice in the not-too-distant future.

And so, with all that being said, I better get out of here before I have to lay some Quack Fu on a local band manager!

BlokeBusting The Essentials #43: Captain America: The First Avenger

#43: Captain America: The First Avenger

Or

Ice, Ice, Nazi!

A film by Marvel featuring an actor who previously played a Marvel character in a totally different role? That’s so crazy it just might work…

First Impressions

So this film was originally one that I didn’t enjoy much. Now I liked the comedy, I found the premise fun but it just didn’t stick with me and didn’t grip me the same way the other MCU films of the time did. And now, having seen Endgame and seen the ultimate arc of all the characters involved, it’s time to revisit and re-review. Let’s see how it holds up…

The Characters

For the sake of all our sanity, I will be focusing on who I feel are really worth mentioning from the film.

  • Steve Rogers/Captain AmericaChris Evans

    In case you all forgot, Mr Evans originally starred in the two Fantastic Four films from the mid 2000’s. And he wasn’t bad. He didn’t come off as great, but that might have had more to do with the script (more on that down the line). So when Marvel announced that they’d picked him to play The First Avenger, we all gave a collective “NANI!!!” in response. And in this film, he’s good. You can see the rough edges to his character and he does a great job of being the boy who just wants to help fight the war, even when the government just says “Put on a suit and look pretty!”. And with hindsight, this portrayal clearly had notes from a company that really could see the big picture. There’s moments that seemed so throw away but end up being the seeds of a big moment down the line. And the fact that there wasn’t a lantern hanging on them was a big feather in his “Cap”! So yeah, “Flame On” Steve, because you were very rightly cast.
  • Peggy Carter – Hayley Atwell

    Just more of this. More and more please. The fact that Agent Carter got cancelled so early (yes, I consider 2 seasons early) is still astonishing to me. If my daughter grows up to be even remotely like Hayley’s portrayal of Peggy in these films/shows, I will be a very happy father. She’s got style, class, a fiery temper and is more capable than pretty much anyone else at what she does. So yeah. Moving on.
  • Bucky Barnes – Sebastian Stan

    This character felt a little forced for me back then. And, with hindsight and foresight, it’s still a little ham fisted seeing him in this film. I know we accept that him and Steve have been friends forever and that he still only sees Cap as his buddy, but his character really does only seem to exist for Cap to have somebody to lose at the end. Which is kinda odd since he also loses Peggy (technically she loses him, but semantics…), so I still felt like his character needed a little more fleshing out. Now, down the line we see him get WAY more to do, and so this was probably the best way to do it at the time since a longer runtime might have scared people off back then. But still, a bit more Bucky story would be a big improvement for me.
  • Col. Chester Phillips – Tommy Lee Jones

    This guy is funny. It’s like they walked up to Tommy Lee Jones and simply said “You know that role in MIB you had? We want you to do that again but this time even more grumpy and straight-faced!”. Leslie Nielson said that the funniest moments come from acting totally straight in a comedy, and TLJ proves that here. “He’s still skinny.”, “I’m not kissing you”, “If you have something to say, right now’s a perfect time to keep it to yourselves.”. The man can deliver the lines flawlessly. I’m totally serious when I say that he is the funniest character in the film. And I am really glad they got TLJ to play him!

The Setting

If you aren’t aware by now, which would be rather impressive, this film is an alternate WW2 scenario. Steve Rogers is made in a super soldier and then good ‘ol USA kicks some Nazi butt. Except there’s sooooooo much more than that waiting here. There’s so much detail that they squeeze in and so much groundwork set. It really is only on a re-watching after the fact that you can appreciate what they did with this film. And despite the war setting, it really doesn’t feel too much like a full-on war film. So yeah, well done Marvel!

Context Is Key

This film was obviously judged as a mostly stand-alone film when it came out. There were very, VERY few people who knew the scope of what Marvel had in store back then. And obviously we couldn’t see what had been put in front of our eyes until we started getting callbacks. So here’s my suggestion to you:

If you are going to watch these, watch them in order once. Then watch them in order again. After the second viewing, make your decision about the film.

There’s many people I know who don’t enjoy this film when it came out. There’s many I know who LOVED this film, and still do!. I fell into the camp of “Meh” when I first saw it, but I think you can feel where I stand on it by now. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that context matters with this film, as with many of the MCU entries. We can’t judge it by itself because it very much does not stand by itself. And I know that will be a recurring theme in the months to come, so I shall try not to repeat myself too much. “Dormammu!”

Right, let’s see what Bubba has to say before we pass sentence on this film!

I don’t think I had actually seen this since I watched it during the first couple months of this site shortly after going through the all the Superman movies. At the time, I thought it was decent but had a few cliche moments and felt that the Tesseract weapons were a poor excuse for PG-13 violence. This time around I really appreciated it a lot more and loved how much they called back to this original movie as time has gone on and Captain America has appeared in many more films. The friendship with Bucky, the “I can do this all day”, to the relationship with Peggy Carter. Captain America was really fully formed by the end of this movie. He’s evolved through the later movies, but they really hit the core of his character right off the bat. There were still some rough around the edges moments and Red Skull looked great but was lacking as a real threat.

This is the origin of the top tier Phase one character next to Iron Man. Chris Evans has really made the role his own and this is where it all started. It’s the lowest grossing MCU movie aside from the Incredible Hulk with $176M/$370M worldwide and it was the last Phase one movie to come out before the first Avengers. It helped make the Avengers into the cinematic juggernaut, it gave Peggy Carter a spin off series a few years later. It’s a great film with a retro feel to it as director Joe Johnston had cut his teeth on the Rocketeer in the 90’s. And as a hero, Captain America is someone who gets chosen because of his character and made into the hero that he always should have been. Plus, it has Cap punching Hitler in the face.

Nicely done Mr Wheat. And so, with all the subtlety of Cap’s stage punches, let us move to the 3 big questions:

  1. Would I recommend this film to others?
  2. Does this film deserve to be on the list?
  3. If so, where does it appear on the list?

Ok, in short order…

1) Yep. A great origin story, a fun romp and some fantastic ground work for the series. Next question!

2) Yep. See above!

3) Well, I’m sure you can assume roughly where this is going. So here’s the updated rankings!

  1. Hellboy
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger
  3. The Crow
  4. Dr Strange
  5. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  6. Batman: The Killing Joke
  7. Superman 3
  8. The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
  9. Supergirl
  10. The Fantastic Four (1994)
  11. The Punisher
  12. Batman & Robin
  13. The Amazing Spider-Man
  14. BvS: Dawn Of Justice

Yep, bet that surprised you! Despite all the good about this film, the fact that it does require some outside context to fully appreciate it means that I just can’t give it the top spot. It’s still a lot of fun though!

So stay true to your ideals, keep your friends close and (until next time) always watch out for that little sneaky Hitler creeping up behind you!

BlokeBusting The Essentials #93: The Fantastic Four (1994)

#93: The Fantastic Four

Or

The Not-So-Invisible Movie

Ok. Well. Right. Erm…

First Impressions

So this film exists. That’s a thing that happened. I’ll admit that I first heard about this film maybe 10 years ago and I had never once actually considered watching it. I went into this viewing totally blind (outside of my general knowledge of the characters and setting from other sources) and I think I made the right call. So, let’s dive right in.

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