Posts Tagged ‘marvel comics’

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Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

July 10, 2017

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya
Director: Jon Watts

Bottom Line: I loved it. Tonally, this is the Spider-Man movie we’ve been waiting for: a high school kid that looks and acts like a high school kid and is clearly in the rookie year of his superhero adventures, despite briefly dipping his head in the majors in Captain America: Civil War. While Spider-Man might have a high tech suit capable of amazing things thanks to Tony Stark, he’s still just a kid looking to help out around his borough and hoping not to be a loser at school, while waiting around hoping The Avengers come calling or he stumbles across something big.

Tom Holland crushes the role. We got a glimpse that he might be the right actor for the job in Civil War but now there’s no doubt about it. Holland is charismatic and hilarious and does some great physical comedy in the film. I think it’s safe to say that we will be seeing him as Spider-Man for at least the next decade and that’s a very good thing. He is perfect for the job and it will be fun to watch him grow up with the character.

The script in this movie was fantastic. I’ve heard people call it the funniest Marvel movie yet and maybe it is – it was basically nonstop laughs for two hours and all the jokes landed successfully. Michael Keaton plays Spidey nemesis Adrian Toomes, a.k.a. The Vulture, and, as expected, does a great job, bringing an everyday person element to the character that is usually missing from comic book villains. Toomes is a regular guy whose company strikes a huge deal to cleanup the aftermath of the first Avengers movie only to have a Tony Stark subdivision come in and take things over with little apology, despite Toomes pouring all his financial resources into the project. It’s a smart way to weave The Vulture into the MCU and screenwriters make some other genius decisions with this character as well.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is exactly what you want from a Spider-Man movie: great action, lots of laughs, a charismatic and funny hero, and a formidable villain with some emotional resonance. The film works incredibly well considering it doesn’t introduce Spidey staples like Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, or Harry Osborn. Most movies, even when they are good, you still want to end at some point, but I could’ve watched Tom Holland play Spider-Man for several more hours and I’m really looking forward to more sequels and Avengers appearances in the future.

Replay Value: I’d watch it again now and it will be a must own in my movie collection.
Sequel Potential: Avengers: Infinity War is due out next year and a Spidey sequel is announced for 2019.
Oscar Potential: Great performances from Holland and Keaton, but not really Oscar fare here. Of all the 2017 films I’ve seen so far, I’d give this one the edge in Visual Effects.

Grade: 7.5/10 (highly enjoyable/must see)

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Doctor Strange (2016)

November 9, 2016

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong
Director: Scott Derrickson (Sinister)

Bottom Line: Marvel continues its trend of pumping out solid origin stories for its vast stable of superheroes with Doctor Strange, the first film in the MCU to deal with the more mystical side of things. The film is basically your typical Marvel origin movie meets Christopher Nolan’s Inception, both in concept and visually. After getting in a terrible car accident that renders his hands unusable, Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) desperately seeks any way possible to regain his functionality and winds up in the Himalayan Mountains where he meets The Ancient One (Swinton) and learns about things like the multiverse, metaphysical abilities and a bunch of other things that will make your head hurt if you try to understand it all. Just sit back and enjoy the ride – it’s a fun one. The film is as visually dazzling as anything we’ve seen since Inception or Gravity and the script is sprinkled with all the light humor we’ve come to expect from Marvel movies.

From the moment it was announced, you just knew Benedict Cumberbatch was perfect casting as Doctor Strange and it’s no surprise that he absolutely crushes the role. What is somewhat surprising is how good the supporting cast is, but then again, maybe it shouldn’t be – four members of the main cast are former Oscar nominees. Though Marvel has done extremely well at casting all it’s properties, I have to say Doctor Strange is the best ensemble performance in the MCU I’ve seen to date. For a comic book film, it’s top shelf stuff. Also, Strange’s cape is the most entertaining piece of fabric since Aladdin’s magic carpet.

Marvel still has it. I see some critics are getting tired of the superhero genre, but the reality is, Marvel continues to put out quality and inventive properties. Doctor Strange adds a whole new dimension to the MCU – literally – and I’m looking forward to seeing Stephen Strange interact with The Avengers. Doctor Strange is a must see superhero film due to its strong performances and great visual effects and an all around fun time at the movies.

Replay Value: The Marvel films tend to be really good the first time you see them but dip a bit in enjoyment the second time through.
Sequel Potential: I’m sure we will be seeing Doctor Strange in upcoming Marvel films and he’ll probably get a sequel somewhere down the line.
Oscar Potential: Visual Effects will be a strong contender. The acting is great here, but nothing revolutionary and superhero movies tend to be overlooked anyway.

Grade: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Suicide Squad (2016)

August 17, 2016

Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis
Director: David Ayer (Fury, End Of Watch)

Bottom Line: Suicide Squad is a pretty good example of how the Rotten Tomatoes rating system can be misleading: at 27%, you might expect this to be terrible… it’s not. What a 27% rating really means is that roughly 3 out of 4 critics thought Suicide Squad wasn’t a good movie and, well, it’s not. But it’s not really a bad one either. It’s just a simple, fun action/comedy that does a decent job of lightening up the overly grim DCU film universe.

Margot Robbie is perfect casting as The Joker’s sweetheart Harley Quinn. She not only looks the part, but she plays Harley with the requisite blend of crazy/sexy/funny. Speaking of The Joker, Jared Leto does a remarkable job as the notable Batman villain; a tough taska considering Heath Ledger won an Oscar for the iconic role less than a decade ago. Leto’s Joker looks and sounds like a comic book villain – he’s totally nuts and over-the-top both in appearance and in his actions. The surprise of the cast is Will Smith as Deadshot. When I heard that casting, I raised an eyebrow in doubt, but Smith is easily one of the film’s highlights. If there’s any emotional resonance in the film, it’s with Smith’s Deadshot.

What didn’t work so well was the main antagonist in the film. It’s not The Joker as some might expect, it’s The Enchantress – and she’s terribly lame. Much like Zack Snyder’s awful light show conclusion to Batman Vs Superman, Suicide Squad’s finale is equally as bad, with lots of in-your-face visual effects, laughable dialogue, and a cringe worthy performance from Cara Delevingne.

Ultimately, Suicide Squad has some working elements – particularly the cast and the tone – but a poor choice in main villain and another terrible DCU third act make the film pretty mediocre. Still, if you come in with tempered expectations – and there’s no reason you shouldn’t – Suicide Squad is a fun movie.

Replay Value: Leto and Robbie make the movie worth watching again, but this isn’t something I’ll snap buy on bluray.
Sequel Potential: Harley Quinn is getting her own movie, which is great news. Leto’s Joker will surely have more appearances in the future. There’s a better movie to be made with the squad and with over $200M in box office receipts, we will probably get a chance to see it.
Oscar Potential: None

Grade: 5/10 (Watchable)

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Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)

April 18, 2016

Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jessie Eisenberg, Amy Adams
Director: Zack Snyder (Man Of Steel, Watchmen, 300)

Bottom Line: What a mess. I knew this movie was in trouble from the first time I saw the Doomsday reveal in one of the trailers. I was on board with Ben Affleck as Batman and I loved the Jessie Eisenberg casting as Lex Luthor, but that first full trailer had me squirming uncomfortably – it looked like Zack Snyder was going to ruin everything by bloating the action with visual effects, explosions, lasers and fire. This was not a finale I was looking forward to.

And I wanted to so much. Even though the previews looked mediocre to me, as a humongous Batman fan, I was still dreaming that this movie could be everything it should be. It’s not. And it’s even worse than you think it’s going to be.

It’s been nearly a month since I saw it and, honestly, I can remember very little about it, but I can still distinctly taste the displeasure I experienced while watching it. There were numerous moments where I looked at my buddy like “is this really happening right now.” From a Batman origin vignette to a neverending – and painful (like phsyically) – conclusion, and everything in between, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice was a wild disappointment.

It’s easier for me to pinpoint the things I did like than for me to list all the stuff I hated. Ben Affleck is a good Batman and I could see a great film being built around this version of The Dark Knight, but it’s not this one. Still, Affleck did a good job and I’m looking forward to seeing how much of a role he has in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was a pleasant surprise as I was worried about how she would fit into the story and whether or not she could even play the role. She’s great and this Wonder Woman is awesome. Again, looking forward to the Wonder Woman movie.

What I’m not looking forward to are the Justice League movies. This was such a botch job that if Zack Snyder has any involvement with those movies (he’s currently slated to direct them both) other than a relatively hands off producing role, I just can’t imagine they are going to be any good. The thought scares me. It is truly incredible that DC Comics can be this far behind Marvel in both quantity and quality. But I can promise one thing, if they continue letting Snyder be in the driver’s seat, they are in trouble.

I hated Doomsday. He looks terrible. He’s about as indistinguishable as a troll in the first Harry Potter movie. And how did he come to be? Don’t ask. Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? Unbelievably awful. He spends the entire movie playing the role so frivolously that you never really take him seriously. He wants to be Heath Ledger’s Joker, but he comes across more like Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma before he becomes The Riddler. There are a bunch of dream sequences that are supposed to foreshadow upcoming events (I think), but they are jarring and take you out of the movie – Bruce Wayne even has a dream within a dream sequence. What. I really like the look of Henry Cavill as Superman, but his role in this movie is really disappointing. The showdowns with Batman are kind of cool, but kind of cool doesn’t really cut it for Batman Vs. Superman.

Geez, I probably can’t tell people not to watch this movie. They are going to anyway. And if you’re going to watch it, you might as well watch it on the big screen… but it’s not good. I’ve heard a number of people say they enjoyed the movie and I can’t understand it at all. It was a huge let down and it was absurdly BORING. The last 45 minutes felt like it dragged forever. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. At best, this movie was totally forgettable… at worst, it was horrible.

Replay Value: My initial thought was I’d never watch it again and that’s hard to believe. This a freaking BATMAN movie. I’ll watch it again, but… only because I have to – it’s who I am.
Sequel Potential: All the JLA members are getting solo adventures and the whole crew will be teaming up for two Justice League movies.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 3.5/10 (Just Skip It/Forgettable)

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X-Men: First Class (2011)

June 13, 2011

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, January Jones
Director: Matthew Vaughan (Kick Ass)

Quick Thoughts: X-Men: First Class breathes fresh air into the X-Men franchise. The original series of films was mostly acclaimed with the possible exception of Brett Ratner’s messy X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006, giving this film some pretty high standards to live up and it easily blew those expectations away. Matthew Vaughan’s First Class manages to stand on its own while simultaneously giving enough nods to its predecessors that it works as both the start of a new franchise and a prequel to those earlier movies.

First Class takes a look into the lives of our favorite mutant heroes before they became established forces of good and evil. Set in the 1960s and amidst the Cuban Missile Crisis, the film focuses largely on Charles Xavier (McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender), and how they developed into the alter-egos we now know them as: Professor X and Magneto. Xavier is a young academic brought in by the government due to his excessive knowledge of the mutation gene and to help them against a potential new threat: a band of possible mutants, led by Sebastian Shaw (Bacon). Lehnsherr is after the same man, but for different reasons; Lehnsherr was a prisoner of war and his mother was murdered by Shaw and the Nazi regime. Upon meeting and realizing they have the same mutual enemy, Xavier and Lehnsherr team up, with backing from the United States government, to form the first class of X-Men, utilizing Xavier’s telepathic abilities to recruit other mutants across the world.

When I first heard about the concept behind X-Men: First Class, it seemed like a good idea, but the last X-Men movie was so underwhelming that my interest in the franchise was pretty moot. Fortunately, this movie is absolutely fantastic. From the story, to the casting, to the action sequences, all the way down to the music, this movie blew me away. I was on the edge of my seat and entertained throughout its entirety. The pacing was great and the character arcs of Xavier and Magneto are so well developed that the film exceeds its status as a pure action flick and dives into the territory of great film-making.

Though James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender aren’t complete unknowns, neither of them are stars. However, the casting in both cases is simply genius. McAvoy is charming, funny, and entertaining as Charles Xavier, turning a character I’ve always found mostly boring into someone compelling. While McAvoy is great, Fassbender as the future Magneto is the star of this film. Fueled by vengeance, Fassbender’s Erik Lehnsherr goes through the full development, reasonably transforming from a conflicted, anti-hero into the next big supervillain. The chemistry between the two actors is notable and its easy to see why, years later, Professor X and Magneto can sit down for a friendly game of chess despite their conflicting–and often deadly–differences. Magneto really is a fascinating character. One of the few villains in the superhero universe whose motives aren’t completely corrupt and self-fulfilling. While Xavier plays the eternal and sometimes naive optimist, Magneto arguably fights for the rights of his people. He’s almost like a violent Martin Luther King, Jr. This film really does a fantastic job of giving a believable identity to that character. Jennifer Lawrence is also great as Mystique.

At this point, you have to credit director Matthew Vaughan for knowing how to make a good action movie. Last year’s Kick-Ass was just the warm-up and this movie exceeds all sorts of expectations. It’s easily the best entry into the X-Men franchise and surpasses Bridesmaids as the most entertaining movie of 2011 to date.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: I’m looking forward to seeing it again and will definitely buy the DVD.
Sequel Potential: This film works not only as a prequel to the previous X-Men movies, but also as the first installment in a new series altogether. I’m looking forward to seeing this portion of the story continue.
Nudity: None… but damn, Jen Lawrence, January Jones, Rose Byrne, and Zoe Kravitz all look fantastic.
Grade: 9/10 (Potential Classic)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 87% Audience: 88%
IMDB Rating: 8.2/10
Recommendation: A great action movie and character drama, X-Men: First Class is not only the best film of 2011 so far, it’s also the best in its franchise.