Tag Archives: Marvel

Captain America: Civil War ***1/2

IMDB Synopsis: Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.

 

“Captain America: Civil War” marks a new high for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is an epic film in every way. It also shakes up the status quo by dividing the Avengers and pitting them against each other. I have to tell you that the Marvel world needed this because it was starting to get a little stale after “The Avengers: Age Of Ultron”. The film is not without it’s flaws but it is certainly an exciting entry into the series.

 

The major battles in some of the previous films as well as a tragic incident at the beginning of this movie have caused a lot of innocent people to lose their lives. The U.S. Government as well as the United Nations have decided that the Avengers can no longer operate on their own. A new law is enacted that demands that the Avengers either operate under government control or disband. Super heroes area not aloud to operate on their own anymore.

 

Captain America, having watched Shield become infiltrated by Hydra, believes the safest hands are their own. Tony Stark, having been confronted by some of the families of people who lost loved ones during these battles, decides to side with the government. Causing a further rift between the Avengers is the apparent terrorist attack by the Winter Soldier.

 

Everything leads up to a fierce battle at an airport. Team Iron Man includes War Machine, Black Widow, Vision and the newly recruited Black Panther and Spider-Man. Team Captain America consists of Falcon, Scarlett Witch, Hawkeye, Winter Soldier, and Ant-Man.

 

The directing team of Anthony and Joe Russo, who helmed “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” are tasked with telling this epic story and they do a great job. They sets some real stakes and create real tension. The battles between former friends and new foes are fierce. The final revelations really set this whole series in to a new direction as well. The only draw back to the Russo’s is that they seem to be edging towards more shaky cam style of action.

 

Now as I mentioned before, Spider-Man makes his first appearance in this Marvel Universe. Tom Holland portrays Peter Parker. As much as I enjoyed seeing him in action he did turn out to be one of the flaws of the film. I felt that his character was sort of shoe-horned into the plot simply because they could. It did feel very last minute. But he is here so I should just be quiet and enjoy it.


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Deadpool ***1/2

  

IMDB Synopsis: A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool.

“Deadpool” has been in development since that wretched version that was brought to life in “Wolverine: X-Men Origins”. Seems like Ryan Reynolds has been trying to do justice to this character for years and finally he has. This is an R rated, offensive, overly violent romp that is exciting and fun. It also opens the door for for more R rated comic books adaptations.

I will say that I was highly entertained. I did like that the story was very self contained but I hope to have a bigger budget in future “Deadpool” movies. Seems like most action films that don’t have enough cash always seem to take place in junk yards or factories. It would also be cool to see “Deadpool” kick some ass along side some more prominent X-men characters.

 Those are small gripes though. You must get out and see this movie. Even if you don’t like comics but are a fan of hard core action flicks with a sick sense of humour, this is still for you.


 

Ant-Man ***

IMDB Synopsis: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

“Ant-Man” is the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It introduces to titular Ant-Man, also known as Scott Lang. Ant-Man wears a suit that has the ability to shrink down to the size of a bean as well as giving him control over insects. Lang is played by Paul Rudd, who brings his comedic sensibilities to turn in a fun and exciting performance in a refreshingly original super hero movie.

His nemesis is Darren Cross, aka, Yellowjackets. Cross has created a similar suit with more fire power. This sets the stage for some truly exciting and visually stunning action sequences that involve some very unexpected sets. You will never look at Thomas The Tank Engine the same way after this film.

Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly play Hank Pym and his daughter Hope Van Dyne. Pym was the previous owner of the Ant-Man suit and his daughter has eyes on her own adventures in the future.

The director is Peyton Reid, who makes a pretty solid transition from mostly comedies to a big budget Marvel film and he pulls it off rather well. The film is not without it’s flaws though. It is an origin story which I think people are starting to get bored of and there are a few unnecessary moments where they try to connect to the Avengers that were not needed. But those were small gripes. This is a fun and exciting film.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron ***

  

“Avengers: Age Of Ultron” is the latest in this ever growing canon of Marvel movies. It is technically a sequel to 2012’s “The Avengers”. For those who pay close attention it is actually a sequel to “Iron Man 3”, “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. Those three films are kind of required viewing. Anyway so did I enjoy this latest entry? Quite a bit actually. I have seen it twice now and it was better the second time. It does have some glaring flaws though mostly in that it spends too much time create plots for future Marvel films and not enough time developing the characters, esspecially the villain Ultron.

The movie picks up pretty much where Captain America’s latest movie left us. The Avengers have reassembled to take on Hydra forces. The opening scene has the super hero team trying to take down the fortress of Baron Von Strucker. Strucker has been experimenting with Loki’s staff from the first film. His experiments have resulted in the creation of two new characters with superhuman powers. There is Quicksilver who movies at incredible speeds and Scarlet Witch who has the power of mind influence.

The real antagonist of the film is Ultron who is an artificial intelligence created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. It was intended as a peace keeping program that has made the decision that mankind is the ultimate enemy of the planet and must be exterminated. He takes on the voice and persona of James Spader who is given some particularly delicious dialogue for a comic book movie.

His battles with the Avengers involves some large scale carnage created with more CGI than usual which did not really sit too well with me considering the first film made use of as much practical effects as they could. The sequences here are pretty cool but just don’t feel as real as they did in the first film.

Joss Whedon returns to direct this mega sequel and does an admiral job of cramming in as much smaller character moments as well as some great humour as he can. I can’t fault the guy for all the side plots the film introduces so that the characters can launch back into their on franchises. It is these scenes that I felt were not all that necessary or maybe they needed to be a bit more subtle.

Guardians Of The Galaxy ***1/2

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What can I say about what Marvel is up to these days when it comes to their cinematic universe? It has been impressive so far. To see a studio try to do something this fresh and execute it so well is kind of refreshing. Now comes “Guardians Of The Galaxy”, which introduces a new team to their shared vision. It features none of the major characters seen so far. The story takes place on the other side of the galaxy and will probably cross over in to the main story line in the future but for now it is a stand alone movie. I may need to see this a few more times but it might just be my favorite Marvel movie to date.

There is so much to love here. First of all I am a sucker for fantasy films that take place in space. “Star Wars” must of inspired a lot of this film. The only scenes that take place on earth are the first five minutes before the filmmakers leave it behind for a truly cosmic tale.

The story follows Starlord, aka, Peter Quill played by Chris Pratt. He is a lone gun who makes his living smuggling and salvaging artifacts off of baron planets. When the movie opens with Quill on the planet Morag, looking for a powerful orb. When he finds it he is confronted by minions of Ronan the Accuser who is looking for the same thing. When Quill tries to sell the orb on Xandar, he is then attacked by Gamora, a green alien played by Zoe Saldana.

Also joining the chase are Rocket Raccoon and Groot voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Rocket is some sort of experiment resulting in an intelligent Raccoon. He is a wise cracking, gun toting, hilarious character. Groot is basically a living tree with a lot of neat surprises that pop up when the team is in danger.

Then there is Drax the Destroyer played by Dave Bautista. His motivation is to destroy Ronan for the death of his wife and children. Drax takes everything literally and is single minded.

The writer and director is Tim Gunn who really must of loved making every moment in this film as the characters, the action and the visual effects are all outstanding. The story always comes first though and it is a good one. These characters have all existed on the fringe and have come together to defeat an enemy that threatens the entire galaxy.

“Guardians Of The Galaxy” marks a moment when Marvel has decided to go cosmic. This was hinted at in last year’s “Thor: The Dark World”, which took place a lot on Asgard but had it’s big finale on Earth. Here we get to visit many amazing place that can only exist in the farthest reaches of space. Once such location is called Knowhere, which is a remote criminal outpost built inside the head of a long dead Celestial. The interiors are a mash up of different alien beings and their shops. It is a truly original set piece unlike anything we have seen before in a fantasy film. This is where they attempt to sell the orb to the Collector played by Benicio Del Tor, who reveals that the orb is one of the Infinity Stones.

Everything culminates with a massive dog fight over the city planet of Xandar. Ronan is bent on the planets destruction and only the aerial fleet of the Nova Corps lead by the Guardians can defeat them.

“Guardians Of The Galaxy” is a hell of an adventure from start to finish. It is a visual feast as well as a rush for the senses. But none of it would really work without great characters and an engaging story. As an entry in Marvel’s canon it is the best so far.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ***

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“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is the sequel to the 2012 reboot of the Spider-Man film series. I liked the first film a lot more than I thought I would. I was opposed to seeing our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man restarted so soon after the original trilogy. But it was an exciting superhero flick that focused on story and character over action and effects. The sequel takes a bit of a step back from that focus. It is an entertaining film but I found I could of used maybe less antagonists and more of a compelling story.

As the film opens we catch up with Spider-Man aka Peter Parker, played again by Andrew Garfield, as he is chasing down an armoured car being pursued by multiple police cars. Driving the vehicle is Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) who Spidey experts know assumes the identity of the villain the Rhino. This causes Peter to be late for his own high school graduation ceremony where his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), is giving a speech.

Peter and Gwen’s relationship is complicated. At the end of the first movie, Gwen’s Police chief father asked Peter to stay away from his daughter for her own safety just before he died. This moment haunts Peter through most of the movie. Garfield and Stone’s scenes together are the heart of this movie. They have magnetic chemistry together. Honestly at one point I thought that this should be an indie movie about their romance with no action in it. Can you imagine telling the studio that?

I think my favourite moment in the movie is when Peter and Gwen meet after breaking up. You can tell almost immediately just how much they love each other. The acting and dialogue here are just wonderful. Just when it is about to get truly romantic, Peter’s spider sense goes off. Talk about summing up their whole relationship perfectly. This whole sequence could of been lifted straight from the source material.

Spider-man then rushes off to face the likes of Electro, a villain made almost entirely out of electricity. He is played by Jamie Foxx in a performance that is good but not great due to being tragically underwritten. We meet him early on in the film as he encounters Spider-Man and immediately begins to idolize him. He is a lonely man who lives a quiet life of solitude when an accident with electric eels turns him in to a monster.

Also coming in to Peter’s life is an old friend he hasn’t seen since childhood, Harry Osborn played by Dane Dehaan. Harry’s father Norman, fonder of Oscorp, is dying. He informs Harry that he too is dying from the same disease. He becomes obsessed with Spider-Man by thinking that his blood will some how cure him. He eventually is rushed in to becoming the Green Goblin, so he can rumble with Spider-Man near the end of the film.

You can kind of see what I am getting at here? It is almost like the filmmakers were too bogged down with creating villains to eventually become the Sinister Six. There is just not enough screen time to develop them all properly. “Spider-Man 3” is coming to mind.

Take for example the Rhino. Paul Giamatti plays the character and barely has any lines. He is apprehended at the beginning of the movie, only to be shoe horned in to the final scene as a teaser. This scene at the end is also the worst in the movie. Would the Rhino really stop terrorizing people because a little kid emerges from the crowd. And would that many people really stop and spectate a shoot out involving a giant mechanical suit and missiles? I doubt it.

The director is Mar Webb, who helmed the reboot from 2012. His distinct visual style really makes the movie a joy to watch visually. I did find that they were relying a little too much on CGI at some points during the action scenes but I guess that is a must when one of your characters is made of electricity. I just found he was hampered by a script that tries to include way too much.

My hope for the third film is that they hold off bringing out the Sinister Six. That is just too many villains too early. This series seems to be in too much of a rush all of a sudden. Slow down and tell an engaging story about one or maybe two villains as well as Peter Parker.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier ***1/2

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“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” continues expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as continuing the adventures of Steve Rogers aka Captain America. The directors this time are Anthony and Joe Russo, the creative team behind such movies as “You, Me & Dupree” and “Welcome To Collinwood” as well as the TV show “Community”. Hardly the resume you would want to read from the directors of a major studio blockbuster but these guys pull this movie off as if they are seasoned veterans. This is one hell of a thrill ride both in terms of action and story.

The plot follows Steve Rogers about two years after the events of “The Avengers”. He is now working for S.H.I.E.L.D. full time. The film opens as he is sent on a mission to resolve a hostage crisis on a freighter in the middle of the ocean. This leads in to a plot where the Captain finds himself on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D as he tries to uncover a sinister group of people who are trying to bring down Nick Fury.

The most mysterious figure that Rogers is The Winter Soldier, who is a deadly assassin with a bionic arm and is particularly linked to Captain America’s past life in the 1940’s. The Winter Soldier himself is a cool character who can match Roger’s strength and agility.

Joining Rogers is Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie. Mackie almost steals every scene he is in, especially when he straps on the wings and flies through the air while battling aerial crafts. I liked his character a lot and hope to see more of him other Marvel movies.

Also new to the series is Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow, who eventually becomes the villain Crossbones, probably in a future installment. Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson are the returning characters as Black Widow and Nick Fury.

Fans of this Marvel series of films will know what to expect at this point and they will not be disappointed. What really floored me was just how compelling the story was this time. I would recommend this to people who simply like a good conspiracy thriller as well as comic book fans. The directors and writers have really crafted an engaging movie that truly sets the stage for hopefully bigger and better developments in this franchise. Most of the action is pretty awesome as well. I did get a little annoyed at some of the shaky camera moments but at this point I don’t see this style going away any time soon.