Posts Tagged 'the avengers'

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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The 2016 Biggie Awards (and My Top 10 & Bottom 5 of 2015)

The 27th Annual Biggie Awards

for achievements in film for the year 2015

2015. Goddamn. “Weird” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

In my view, this was the weakest year overall for movies since 2009, where I only “loved” 14 movies. In 2015, as of this writing, I added 17 films to my Love List. For perspective, since I’ve started tracking these things in 1997, this is only the third year where I didn’t love at least 20 movies. I didn’t love anything in 2015 until early May when Avengers: Age of Ultron opened, and even that was a disappointment compared to its predecessor.

This was not a year like 2000 (Gladiator), 2003 (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) or 2012 (Lincoln) where a single film dominated the year while also facing stiff competition (Gladiator fended off The Patriot, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon AND Traffic, ROTK is the most awarded film in Biggies history, but still had to face Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World AND The Last Samurai– which would have been the Best Picture winner in most other years, while Lincoln had to battle Zero Dark Thirty). The closest comp I can come up with is 2011, when Drive snuck in out of nowhere to take Best Picture in a wide open field. Drive would’ve been crushed had it come out the same year as There Will Be Blood or Titanic, but it happened to arrive in a mediocre year and was able to edge out the victory. Fast forward to now, and I don’t even know if there was a 2015 film as good as Drive. As a result, this is probably the most winnable year in Biggies history for “great but not masterful” movies, which is simultaneously really fun and disappointing by default. As I post this, I honestly haven’t decided what I think the best movie of 2015 was.

Continue reading ‘The 2016 Biggie Awards (and My Top 10 & Bottom 5 of 2015)’

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Reaction: Marvel’s ballsy PHASE THREE lineup announcement

Phase Three logos

I began writing this post on Tuesday, October 28, the day Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige did a Steve Jobs/Apple style keynote address in L.A. announcing Marvel’s entire slate of films through 2019, which will comprise “Phase Three” of this interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a very ambitious lineup of 9 films, which shows just how confident Marvel has become given their success since “Phase One” began with the original Iron Man in 2008. It includes several already established characters and properties (Captain America, Thor, Loki, Hulk, the Guardians of the Galaxy) along with brand new films and characters that Marvel hopes/assumes will each turn into their own hit franchises. The newbies include the already announced Doctor Strange movie (which will now presumably star Benedict Cumberbatch), a Black Panther movie, a Captain Marvel movie, the third Avengers movie (with the awesome Infinity War subtitle), which will be split into two parts, and finally, The Inhumans.

In case you can’t read the photo (click on it for the bigger version), here’s the full lineup:

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Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Cap America 2 poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier marks the unofficial start to the 2014 summer movie season (yes, I know it’s the first week of April, but that’s how Hollywood does business now). It arrives riding a wave of massive fanboy approval and some of the best reviews any Marvel movie has received thus far. A lot of people are calling it the best Marvel movie yet*, while some are boldly using the “it’s better than The Avengers” line to drum up hype and/or to get their name on the TV ads. I was actually hoping that those things were true. I wanted a more story-centric Marvel movie, and from the two amazing trailers, it looked like we might finally be getting one. In the end, kinda, but not so much. This movie is almost great. It’s almost what I wanted it to be, but in the end it succumbs to a lot of the issues that plague the other Marvel flicks; large gaps in logic, a weak villain, an overabundance of action in lieu of story in order to keep 12-year olds hooked, and an overdone visual effects extravaganza for a finale.

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Mini-Reviews: FAST & FURIOUS 6, THE HANGOVER: PART III

Two movies. Two reviews. Zero tolerance. Let’s get right into it. MINOR SPOILERS ahead.

fast_and_furious_six_ver3All roads lead to this, and this road leads to 5 more sequels.

Well, at least in this instance the trailers were honest. Fast & Furious 6 was exactly what I thought it would be, to the letter. It met my expectations with the precision of a neurosurgeon, the precision of a finely tuned Michael Bay explosion, or the precision of a LeBron James flop. Oh, you want more? Fine.

The problem with Fast Five being so successful is that the filmmakers’ only thought going into 6 was, “We have to go bigger!” This is the least creative, most brainless solution to the What do we do now? quandary, but it’s also the one that sells the most opening-weekend tickets, which is all Universal ultimately cares about. Fact is, bigger is NOT always better. In fact, it rarely is. It simply makes things more complicated.

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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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The 2013 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 of 2012)

The 24th Annual Biggie Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2012

I’ll be the first to admit I had unfair expectations for 2012. Given the impressive roster of movies on tap, I predicted as early as April of 2011 that 2012 would be the best year in movies since 2000, which I consider to be the best year for movies in my lifetime. In the end, it wasn’t quite the year I wanted it to be, but it was still quite a year. Actually, by my official tally of new entries on my “Movies I Love” list, this was the best year for movies since 2007. I “loved” 24 movies in 2012 (for comparison, 2000 holds the record with 31). What I liked most about 2012 was that it had a lot of variety, as I think you’ll see reflected here in my nominees.

We’ll get into most of the specific films in the descriptions under each category, but there are a few things I want to mention up front.

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