Posts Tagged ‘marvel’

h1

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)

Advertisements
h1

Beauty and the Beast (2017), Logan (2017), Arrival (2016), Green Room (2016), Sausage Party (2016), Pete’s Dragon (2016)

March 22, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (2017) – Another solid live-action remake of a Disney classic. Beauty and the Beast isn’t as visually amazing as last year’s Jungle Book and it’s more of a shot-for-shot remake than a fresh take on an old favorite, but the story translates well and this film is really a testament to how wonderful the original animated classic is. It’s probably been 25 years since I’ve seen the 1991 version, but the songs felt like I heard them yesterday and they have been stuck in my head the last 24 hours – they are truly timeless compositions. Emma Watson is perfect casting as Belle, Dan Stevens is enjoyable as The Beast, and Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, and Emma Thompson do solid voice work, but the rest of the borders on annoying. Particularly, I had mixed feelings about Luke Evans as Gaston. On one hand, it’s an incredibly campy and silly performance; on the other hand, it’s very loyal to the source material. Overall, Beauty and the Beast is another enjoyable hit for Disney, even if some of the acting and musical numbers are a bit too flamboyant.

Replay Value: I would watch it again, but I’d rather watch the original.
Sequel Potential: This movie is breaking box office records, but it’s hard to imagine a continuation of this story that doesn’t come across contrived.
Oscar Potential: Even with the expansion of the Best Picture category, this film won’t get a nod like it’s source material did. However, nominations for Costume Design, Makeup, and Art Direction are highly possible.

Grade: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Logan (2017) – Logan is going to go down as one of the best superhero films of all-time, but really, limiting it to that distinction is a disservice – it is simply a great film, period. Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine, finds our hero in the not-so-distant future, as one of the few remaining mutants in the world. His new life consists of driving a limo, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and harboring a mentally ailing Professor Xavier. Enter Laura: a young mutant girl with all the abilities and fury of a younger Logan. What follows is a road adventure with a Western tinge and a film that has pacing, ridiculous action sequences, and a guardian/mentor relationship all reminiscent of Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Making the film rated R was a stroke of genius and once you get past the initial shock of hearing Wolverine and Professor X swear, it’s actually quite funny. Plus, those claws finally get put to gruesome use. Packed with action, drizzles of humor and sorrow, and phenomenal performances from Jackman, Patrick Steward, and newcomer Dafne Keen, Logan is a comic book film masterpiece. It’s the best movie to come out of the X-Men universe and an absolute must see film.

Replay Value: This could go down as a classic and I’m anxious to see it again.
Sequel Potential: Reportedly Jackman’s last appearance as Wolverine, but that’s always subject to change and if not, the character will surely be rebooted in the future.
Oscar Potential: Like Get Out, Logan is in an interesting spot: it’s a comic book movie released in mid-March – not your typical Oscar fodder. But The Dark Knight paved the way for ten possible nominees, so Logan has an outside shot at Best Picture. I don’t see any acting nominations, but Cinematography nod could also be in the cards.

Grade: 8.5/10 (Must See/Potential Classic)

Arrival (2016) – Arrival was one of last year’s most critically lauded films and I found this first contact movie to be quite enthralling myself. It’s definitely a slow burn and the pacing can be a bit tedious at times, but director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) gives Arrival all the mystique and intrigue of a Christopher Nolan film. It tackles interesting themes of language, time, and how we might interact with an alien species, while highlighting our own world’s inability to communicate with one another in today’s trigger-happy environment. Amy Adams is stellar as usual and while Jeremy Renner’s character feels more like background music at times, he does provide some comic relief and plays a pivotal role in the film’s emotional core. While some may be dissatisfied with the ultimate payoff, I felt like Arrival tied things together nicely and made for an enjoyable, cerebral experience. Arrival is a fresh take on the first contact movie and a strong sci-fi recommendation, if not quite a must see film.

Replay Value: You might pick up on some extra things a second time around, but this is more of a once in a decade type movie for me.
Sequel Potential: Ever so slight, but highly unlikely.
Oscar Potential: 8 Oscar nominations and a win for Best Sound Editing.

Grade: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Green Room (2016) – Green Room is a taut, horror/thriller hybrid that cranks up the tension from start to finish. Director Jeremy Saulnier elicits strong performances from Patrick Stewart as a nihilistic neo-Nazi club owner and the late Anton Yelchin as a member of a punk rock band trapped inside a room in the club after unwittingly intruding on a murder cover up. It’s a gruesome, unforgiving film that lovers of scary movies should watch with delight. Enjoyable from it’s opening frame and featuring Yelchin’s best performance of his short life, Green Room is a must see for fans of unconventional thrillers.

Replay Value: Fun enough to watch again some day.
Sequel Potential: Probably not, but if it becomes a cult classic, it might invite some crappy, nontheatrical sequels.
Oscar Potential: Whiff.

Grade: 7.5/10 (Highly Enjoyable/Must See)

Sausage Party (2016) – The writing team responsible for Superbad offers up a hard R-rated animated comedy featuring everyone’s favorite grocery store items. Filled with all the cleverness and humor – if not the charm and superb storytelling – of a classic Pixar movie, Sausage Party is quite entertaining. While there are lots of juvenile jokes and unrelenting amounts of sexual innuendo, Sausage Party features an A-List voice cast and everyone does a laudable job. It’s not quite as emotionally resonant as it wants to be, but Sausage Party is still a pretty fun comedy and recommended while it’s streaming on Netflix. Warning: this is not for kids!

Replay Value: Smart and funny enough to be worthy of multiple viewings.
Sequel Potential: Definitely possible.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 6/10 (Recommended)

Pete’s Dragon (2016) – It’s probably been 25-30 years since I’ve seen the original and I can’t remember it at all, so I can’t comment on how this film compares. Even though this live action remake was well received, I found myself struggling through it. It doesn’t help that the cast is largely made up of actors whose work I rarely enjoy. Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, and Karl Urban have never been the reason I’ve watched a movie. Oona Laurence, the little girl, gives the film’s only laudable performance. While I understand the decision to make Elliot, the dragon, look friendly, I felt like the CGI was lackluster and actually terrible at times. I’ve seen action sequences that looked less fake in movies that were made 15 years ago. While Disney films are supposed to require an abundance of imagination and a suspension of reality, it doesn’t hurt to explain some things. Like why is there a dragon in a forest in the Pacific Northwest? How does a dragon remain unseen for decades? If it has wings, wouldn’t it need to use them periodically? What does it eat? Are all dragons children friendly? All in all, Pete’s Dragon is a rare misstep from Disney as it feels like the film, with its uninspired casting and visual effects, was an afterthought for the juggernaut corporation.

Replay Value: None for me.
Sequel Potential: Always possible.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 3/10 (Skip It)

h1

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

May 7, 2016

Starring: The Avengers
Director: The Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, You, Me and Dupree)

Bottom Line: Somehow Marvel keeps outdoing themselves. Starting with The Avengers in 2012, Marvel has been putting out a nonstop string of top notch superhero films (with the clunky Age Of Ultron being an exception). With the same creative team responsible for The Winter Soldier in charge of making Civil War, fans of the MCU had every reason to believe this could be Marvel movie yet.

And it is. While The Dark Knight will be extremely difficult to top as my favorite comic book movie of all time, Civil War is quite easily my second favorite. Just like The Winter Soldier, the label of “comic book movie” can be dropped from the equation when discussing Civil War‘s greatness – it transcends the genre; this is simply great filmmaking.

Civil War explores what happens when The Avengers are held responsible for the consequences of their actions – in other words, what happens to innocent bystanders while they are trying to save the world. So when the United Nations steps in to try to control the superheroes, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark find themselves on opposite sides of the agenda – and then all sorts of fun things start happening.

A decade ago, I never would have dreamed that I’d be more excited to see Captain America and Iron Man duke it out over a Batman/Superman conflict, but this is the world we live in today – Marvel is king and DC is… struggling. Where it seems like DC is trying to do too much by having its big three all in the same film, Marvel seamlessly tells a story that involves up to 12 superheroes. Everyone contributes in Civil War – both to the humor and to the awesome action pieces – and it never feels like the film is crowded or trying to cram too much into the plot.

It also somehow introduces two major characters into the MCU – Black Panther and Spider-Man – and instantly turns them into fan favorites. Fourteen years and six films later, we finally get a Spider-Man that feels totally true to the character. Tom Holland is genius casting – he’s a teenager and this Spider-Man acts like a young Peter Parker should: wowed by everything around him and constantly running his mouth to hilarious results. To say I can’t wait for Spider-Man: Homecoming would be an understatement. And Chadwick Boseman is brilliant as T’Challa, the Wakanda native that takes up the Blank Panther mantle when he becomes king of his nation. His nuanced performance is the best one Marvel has produced since Robert Downey Jr. first blew us away in the original Iron Man. I can’t wait to see what he does with a starring role in 2018’s Blank Panther.

Civil War is about as fun as summer blockbusters get. With solid performances all around, good surprises, the perfect dose of humor, and relentlessly awesome action, this movie takes over the top spot as Marvel’s best film yet – and it’s not all that close, it really blows The Avengers away. Phase 3 of the MCU and the upcoming Ininity War movies are in great hands with the Russo brothers. Take note DC… this is how you make great movies.

Replay Value: A rare movie that’s worth seeing in theaters more than once.
Sequel Potential: Marvel’s Phase 3 has release dates all the way out to The Avengers: Infinity War Part II in 2019.
Oscar Potential: I would have nominated The Winter Soldier over American Sniper for Best Picture, but comic book movies are generally dismissed come awards season – even The Dark Knight got snubbed. Maybe Civil War will finally break tradition and snag a Best Picture nomination.

Grade: 7.5/10 (Highly Enjoyable/Must See)

h1

Deadpool (2016)

February 15, 2016

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller
Director: Tim Miller

Bottom Line: Deadpool was everything I was hoping it would be: entertaining and hilarious. And it delivers both in heaps. The last couple years produced two of the funnier superhero movies with Guardians Of The Galaxy and Ant-Man, but Deadpool makes those films feel about as fun as Schindler’s List in comparison. It’s truly uproarious. With the exception of some slow moments as we delve into Mr. Pool’s origin story, you will never stop laughing.

Ryan Reynolds is at his best when he’s doing comedy and Deadpool is his first really funny role since playing Monty in Waiting all the way back in 2005. After seeing his involvement with the disastrous portrayal of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the terrible adaptation of Green Lantern, there was plenty of reason to be skeptical that another Ryan Reynolds superhero movie could be any good – and yet Reynolds felt like perfect casting, even before the wild success the film has enjoyed over its record-breaking first weekend. The rest of the cast is solid too. T.J. Miller of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” is great as Wade’s buddy and it’s interesting seeing “Gotham‘s” Morena Baccarin play a more sultry and humorous role.

But Ryan Reynolds is the star here and he delivers the performance of his career. Just imagine Van Wilder growing up to become a mangled superhero, but with way funnier (and even more obscene) dialogue. Yes, this is not a family film. There’s sex, nudity, graphic violence, and never-ending cursing and harsh sexual innuendo. The kids growing up watching The Avengers should maybe sit this one out… but honestly, I’d probably let my kid watch it. It’s possible to teach your kids what’s right and what’s wrong and how to speak and act – even while exposing them to some pretty raunchy stuff.

Deadpool is a winner – a must see comic book film and all around excellent at being the movie it wants to be: a not-too-serious R-rated superhero comedy. Deadpool is fantastic.

Replay Value: I will buy it when it comes out. I’m curious to see how it holds up considering most of its enjoyment is a result of the humor.
Sequel Potential: Already green lit and supposedly fast-tracked for 2017.
Oscar Potential: It’s so early it’s hard to imagine this being considered for awards. I’ll say it whiffs on Oscar noms, but if anything deserves extra credit here it’s definitely the script.

Grade: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

h1

Bridge Of Spies (2015)

December 7, 2015

Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda
Director: Steven Spielberg

Bottom Line: Bridge Of Spies took me by surprise. With Steven Spielberg directing, the Coens Brothers writing, and Tom Hanks starring, I’m not sure how this movie snuck up on me, but it did. Maybe it’s because the only Spielberg movie I’ve seen in the past decade was Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull and, well, I think we know how that disaster turned out. Now that’s not to say that Spielberg’s most recent films (War Horse, Lincoln) have been bad, but for whatever reason I just haven’t gotten around to watching them.

I’m happy to report that Bridge Of Spies, at least, is a return to form, as Spielberg takes us into Cold War espionage, with Hanks playing James B. Donovan, an American attorney charged with the unenviable task of representing a Soviet spy in court. Donovan is soon Public Enemy No. 1 when he takes his duties seriously and becomes enamored with the Soviet prisoner, making sure that the captured spy gets the due process that is the right of anyone in America.

I knew nothing of the plot before watching this movie and I was expecting an action flick, so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a riveting character drama. Hanks is great as Donovan and Mark Rylance made Soviet spy Rudolf Abel so affable it’s easy to see how Donovan’s commitment to his case went beyond a sense of duty and became a task he was proud to see all the way through.

I would recommend Bridge Of Spies to just about anyone. I felt that it had the perfect blend of drama and character building, but I could see how some people might find it slow. I thought it was well paced, sometimes intense, and all around entertaining.

Replay Value: Worth a second viewing.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: It’s early, but I could see this film getting some attention – perhaps in the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor departments. I think Rylance has a good chance at a supporting nomination as well.

Grade: 7.5/10 (Recommended/Must See)

h1

Ant-Man (2015)

July 31, 2015

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll
Director: Peyton Reed (Yes Man, The Break-Up, Bring It On)

Bottom Line: When Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World dropped out of directing Ant-Man, I have to say my hopes for the film decreased drastically. I’m happy to report that Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man is a nice surprise and a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It probably didn’t hurt that Wright stayed on as a screenwriter and executive producer, thus having a say in keeping his original vision somewhat in tact.

Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a convict fresh out of jail, looking to find work and live the straight life so he can be a good father to his daughter. Unable to hold a job due to his criminal past, Lang teams up with a dopey group of robbers for a heist that he hopes can provide him with enough financial security to keep up on his child support. Unfortunately for this group of “wombats,” they are being set up so that Scott can break into a safe and discover the Ant-Man suit, left behind by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Hank wants Scott to become the Ant-Man because his old company is now being run by Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), a sketchy guy close to unraveling the secret behind the Ant-Man technology and selling it off to questionable government officials, something Hank has long feared could happen.

Paul Rudd was perfect casting as our reluctant hero. A solid comic actor, Rudd seamlessly steps into the role of superhero while infusing Ant-Man with plenty of laughs. In fact, Ant-Man is even funnier than Gaurdians Of The Galaxy, which I thought was hilarious the first time I watched it. Michael Pena, in particular, really steals the show as one of Lang’s ex-convict/robber friends, providing plenty of the film’s funniest lines and moments. The rest of the supporting cast is decent in their roles.

Ant-Man was more fun than the last Avengers movie and it will be interesting to see how Scott Lang fits in with earth’s mightiest heroes when they inevitably cross paths. I will offer a minor spoiler in saying that an Avenger makes a cameo in Ant-Man and it’s quite easily the highlight of the film.

There is a lot that can go wrong with a superhero whose main abilities are shrinking in size and interacting with ants. Ant-Man balances the absurd with a perfect blend of seriousness and humor. It’s pretty funny to see the film cut away from micro-sized, but intense action sequences and pan out to see what the carnage looks like from a human’s POV – in other words, like a whole lot of nothing. The visuals in the film are well done as technology has come a long way since Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. I thought Ant-Man would be must see in 3D, and maybe it is, but watching it in 3D didn’t really add any wow factor.

Ant-Man is a great entry into the MCU, providing a fun story with plenty of good action and tons of comedy.

Replay Value: Definitely worth seeing again but it will be interesting to see how well the comedy holds up on repeat viewings.
Sequel Potential: Ant-Man will probably make multiple appearances in other Marvel movies before appearing in his own sequel.
Oscar Potential: Possibly some visual effects attention.

Grade: 7/10 (Must See)

h1

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

May 7, 2015

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, James Spader
Director: Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Serenity)

Bottom Line: Few would envy Joss Whedon’s task of following up the mega blockbuster and critical darling that was the original The Avengers movie, but his Age Of Ultron manages to deliver the kind of popcorn fun we’ve come to expect from the high quality Marvel/Disney films.

Age Of Ultron starts off fast and furious – with The Avengers fighting their way through a snow-thick forest towards the base of the last known HYDRA agent, a man that has Loki’s scepter from the last film. Whedon gives us a single shot highlight of all The Avengers causing damage much like he did in the finale of the original film. It’s a quick call back that reminds us how and why we love these heroes. Yes folks, he still remembers how to do this. The team secures the scepter, Tony Stark ponders the idea of using it to create an AI as a means of protection against future threats from space, and soon the conscience of Ultron is born… and he doesn’t share the same values as The Avengers. He’s a little more into human annihilation and world domination.

Age Of Ultron is a fun movie. For summer blockbuster fare, it’s top notch, but I didn’t leave the theater feeling giddy like I did after watching the first one. Still, there is plenty of high level action, humor, and, somehow, Whedon is able to find a way to give all the players involved their moment to shine – a remarkable feat considering the core team now consists of nine members with the addition of Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and The Vision. For a movie that could easily feel bloated, Whedon displays a tremendous amount of balance.

The returning cast is solid as usual, but James Spader steals the show as Ultron, whose wit and sense of humor unsurprisingly mirrors that of his creator, Tony Stark. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen are a bit jolting as the Russian Maximoff twins – the accents are pretty ehh… – but Olsen at least proves to be a capable actress.

Age Of Ultron is a satisfying follow-up to The Avengers. Fans of the genre will no doubt be satisfied. I don’t think it is as good as the original, but I may change my mind upon multiple viewings.

Replay Value: These kind of movies tend to be best the first time around, but I will almost certainly see this again in theaters.
Sequel Potential: Marvel has solo Avenger movies lined up for the next several years before culminating with the Avengers: Infinity War two part finale. I am particularly looking forward to Captain America: Civil War which will pit Cap against Iron Man and introduce Black Panther and Spider-Man into the fold.
Oscar Potential: This may get some visual effects and sound nominations, but that’s probably it.

Grade: 7/10 (Must See)