Posts Tagged 'robert downey jr.'

Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

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When it was announced that Tony Stark/Iron Man would be joining the third Captain America movie as a co-lead for the Civil War storyline, I was thrilled beyond words. Not because I’m a fan of the comic book version of the story (I didn’t read comics growing up, so I know nothing about how this plays out on the page), but because I knew a major conflict between two of the biggest Marvel cinematic heroes would be much more dramatically interesting than what we’ve gotten from any of the previous films, where the hero(es) face off against a string of lame, underwritten, one-note villains. The hero vs. hero scenes in The Avengers were the best parts of that movie, and to have an entire film focusing on these two A-listers in conflict could only be a good thing.

I’m a YUUUGE fan of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I think it’s tied with The Avengers as the best movie so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (referenced as ‘MCU’ for the rest of this review). As such, I was looking forward to a third Cap movie more than any other upcoming Marvel project. Even more so after I found out directing brothers Anthony and Joe Russo would be returning. Then, as news trickled down that Civil War would feature almost all of the Avengers characters & actors having to pick sides and square off against each other, my excitement grew by leaps and bounds. It would basically be a third Avengers movie (Avengers 2.5 as many called it), but grounded on Earth with serious political overtones, without any silly alien bad guy elements. Clearly, they were making this movie just for me.

If all that wasn’t enough, Disney Marvel (MCU) then made an historic deal with Sony Marvel to not only include Spider-Man in Civil War, but to basically take over creative control of a character who had been horribly misused for basically a decade (Amazing Spider-Man was good, but the last Spidey movie I really loved was Spider-Man 2 in 2004). Then they actually started making the movie, and we were eventually blessed with two jaw-dropping trailers that left little doubt this was going to be an epic, orgasmic geek experience.

And boy did it deliver. We’re now 8 years and 13 films (that’s 3 Iron Mans, 3 Captain Americas, 2 Thors, 2 Avengers, a Guardians of the Galaxy, an Ant-Man and one Incredible Hulk) into this crazy cinematic experiment, and Captain America: Civil War is without a doubt the best MCU movie yet. I’ve seen it twice as I write this review. It is a stunning accomplishment of action and storytelling. It’s the best movie I’ve seen in 2016 as of early May. No doubt that will change as we head into the fall, but I’d love for Civil War to stick around until the end of the year as one of my Best Picture contenders. It would be the first MCU movie to earn a spot at that table.

As with all my full reviews, SPOILERS AHEAD. Let’s get into the details…

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5 “In Development” Projects I Need Right Now

Ever wonder what happened to that cool-sounding movie project you heard about a few years ago that still hasn’t been made? Ever wonder why a sequel that seemed like a sure thing seems to now be drifting aimlessly in limbo? Well, more than likely that project is stuck in what Hollywood calls “Development Hell”. Movies get stalled for an infinite number of reasons, but some are more common than others. For example, an actor may be holding out for a bigger paycheck, the studio may not give a greenlight until the filmmakers find a way to reduce the budget, or the director may have found another project he or she wants to do first. Sometimes, on a movie like Avatar (which James Cameron first concocted sometime in the 90’s), the filmmakers have to wait for technology to catch up with their vision. Other times, the strange can occur: did you know that Tom Cruise was originally going to star in Salt? When he dropped out and moved on, the main character was rewritten as a woman and presented to Angelina Jolie, who said yes.

BUT…the biggest thing holding up most in-development movies is the script. Either it isn’t done yet, or somebody isn’t satisfied with how the first draft ended up, so the studio has to commission a rewrite, perhaps with an entirely different writer (or writers). A lot of big name actors, producers and directors have script approval, so some movies can’t get made until the people at the top of the creative food chain are satisfied. And then, even when they are satisfied, the studio may then have hesitations. It’s a common conundrum in big budget filmmaking, causing some movies to be delayed months or years, even after the studio has publicly stated, “Yes, we’re making this.”

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Mini-Review: WORLD WAR Z

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Note: For once, I will try to keep this review spoiler free, as I’ll be posting it the same weekend of the film’s release.

World War Z finally hits theaters this weekend after 6 months of delays, rewrites, and a reshoot of the entire third act. I am surprised, but happy, to say that the end result is actually a pretty decent movie. Despite the much publicized production issues this project endured (For a fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes drama on this project, you MUST read Vanity Fair‘s excellent long form piece. Check that out HERE), and despite the advertising telling me not to expect much, I was still rooting for the movie to be good. For one, I’m a fan of Brad Pitt, one of the few big-name actors who rarely makes a bad movie. Seriously, look at his filmography and tell me the last bad movie he was in that he was also the star of. If there’s any A-list star that could will this movie to respectability, it was him. The other reason is because I loved the idea of a Roland Emmerich-sized zombie disaster movie. The vast majority of zombie stories we’re used to seeing are very small in scale and limited to a few small, key locations. I’ve wanted to see one done on this scale for a long time. I’m still not sure Marc Forster was the best choice of director for a movie like this, but he equips himself ably enough, and he did have some big budget experience, having recently directed a Bond movie (the much maligned Quantum of Solace). I also believe “PG-13 zombies” is an oxymoron, and the idea of CGI zombies might be even worse, but this was probably as good as both of those concepts could have been executed in one movie.

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Review: IRON MAN 3

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Iron Man 3 marks the beginning of Marvel’s “Phase Two” series of films in the buildup towards The Avengers 2 in 2015. Between now and then, we get Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World (11/8/13), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (4/4/14), and the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie (8/1/14). However, Iron Man 3 is very much a movie about Tony Stark, which I think is appropriate. It does not exist merely to help setup The Avengers 2. There are no big Avenger cameos during the film, no appearance by Sam Jackson or really any mention of S.H.I.E.L.D. The story deals a lot with Tony’s personal struggles after the events of The Avengers, but that’s really the only Avengers connection we get. One of the complaints a lot of critics had about Iron Man 2 was that the S.H.I.E.L.D./Avengers stuff was too central to the story. I sort of agreed with that. This one is a much more personal, character-driven film than the other Iron Man movies, and I found that refreshing. There are really only 3 major action set pieces, which may leave some ADHD viewers scratching their heads, saying, “DERP!?”

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Biggie’s Most Anticipated Movies of 2013

As the final few films of 2012 finish their awards season roll out, it’s time to look to the future – the near future. Overall, I think 2013 has a lot of potential, but maybe not as much potential as 2012 had (and failed to live up to). You can find lists like this on almost every big movie site, but as always, I will claim that mine might be a little more interesting and provide a lot more insight into the year ahead than the short lists the other blogs throw together. Yes, most of my choices are big budget mainstream entertainments. I feel no shame in that. That’s where my tastes run. These are the kind of movies that made me fall in love with the movies. Those are the movies I want to make. I’d rather a slick, well-funded studio film be great than a tiny budget independent film. Now that that’s cleared up, let’s get into this.

Note: In case you’re YouTube illiterate, click on the links at the top of any of these trailers to watch the trailer full-size and in HD on YouTube. I know this is complicated, but you can dooo eeeet!

10. TIE: THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (3/29) & ONLY GOD FORGIVES (TBD)

This is how much I now respect Ryan Gosling. After an unbearable full calendar year without him gracing our movie screens (and our hearts), The Gosling returns guns blazing in 2013 with no fewer than 4 new films; these two, a currently untitled Terrence Malick movie (that I’m sure will have plenty of fascinating introspective narration!) and of course Gangster Squad, which was delayed from its original 2012 release after the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings. But it’s Pines and Forgives I’m most interested in, if only because they reunite The Gosling with the directors of Blue Valentine (one of the most truthful relationship movies I’ve ever seen) and Drive (the best film of 2011), respectively. Those directors would be Derek Cianfrance and Nicolas Winding Refn. It helps that both these projects also have very interesting plots, which I just assume to be true if The Gosling has blessed a film with his presence. But seriously, no actor is making better choices than this man right now, and I look for that streak to continue throughout 2013 with these new projects. [Place Beyond the Pines IMDb] [Only God Forgives IMDb]

only_god_forgives_ryan_goslingWhat have they done to him?!

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REVIEW: THE AVENGERS (PLUS the fallout of its massive success, and looking ahead in the Marvel movie universe)

Before we get into the review, I just wanted to do a little bookkeeping, especially with regards to the money this thing is bringing in. The Avengers is officially a cultural phenomenon. People who don’t normally see movies in theaters have seen it. People who don’t normally see comic book movies have seen it. People who don’t talk about these kinds of movies are talking about it. People who don’t talk about box office results are talking about it. The fact that everyone on earth was talking about how much money it made helped it make even more money. I was watching Bill O’Reilly‘s show the Monday after that huge opening, and even he made mention of the crazy records it’s breaking. It’s insanity. I am finishing this piece after seeing it 3 times (at 3 different theaters!) and having thus contributed $19 to that billion-plus dollar haul. Let’s face it, without me, this movie is a total bomb. You’re welcome, Marvel.

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My Top 5 Concerns Going Into THE AVENGERS

The Avengers is now but 2 Fridays away, after 4 years of buildup through 5 other superhero movies. One of the most unique and challenging attempts in history at a cinematic merger is complete. That fact alone makes this a really big deal. Nothing like this has been attempted before in the hundred-plus years people have been making movies. I always had serious doubts this movie would even happen, let alone come together this smoothly. Now that it’s here, despite my excitement and trust in the talented people involved, I’m still a little hesitant to believe it will work. Or at least work the way I want it to (that’s a big caveat there).

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