Tag Archives: marvel

Movie Review: Ant Man and the Wasp

As things go, Ant Man and the Wasp was exactly the movie I needed to see.   If you’re a fan of the Marvel movies, or even if you aren’t, it’s fun, fast paced, and humorous.  The risks are dire and personal, this isn’t a movie where they’re fighting an alien of ridiculous power and strength.  These are people dealing with problems that make sense (even if some of those problems involve quantum mechanics).

It’s a movie that doesn’t hesitate to use humor to diffuse a tense situation and where the nonsensical is an acceptable route for problem-solving.  It rewards the audience for paying attention.  It also does a great job of showing that super-powers don’t necessarily solve problems and often times makes things more complicated.  It does all that without being preachy or boring, while still giving you enough time to process everything that’s happened.

And yeah, it ties into the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Captain America Civil War and Infinity War.  At this point, I’m having a difficult time thinking of a movie they haven’t done well enough to be entertaining.  Ant Man and the Wasp is fun, engaging, and there’s enough interesting emotional and “real” world problems that I really found myself on the edge of my seat.  So if you haven’t already seen it, go watch it already.

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Movie Review: Black Panther

Black Panther is an interesting movie.  On one hand, its a Marvel superhero movie, another one in the chain.  On the other hand, it’s an epic scale dynastic struggle akin to an epic fantasy series like Game of Thrones, complete with lots of worldbuilding.

Black Panther has plenty of action, humor, and a surprising level of drama.  The main character has quite the journey, one where he learns the weight and costs of being king.

There’s some controversy about the movie, on themes and messages.  I’ll say that you’ll probably come away from it with what you bring into the theater and leave it at that.

It  isn’t my favorite Marvel movie, though it has some great (albiet hard to believe, even in superhero physics) scenes.  The story was good, though there were some nonsensical plot holes that could have been tied up a bit more neatly.  The movie has not just one, but two characterful villains, though I don’t think they got their full mileage from them.

In many ways, the movie stands alone more than most of Marvel’s latest movies.  Which is at once both a strength and weakness.  I can’t help, too, but feel that Wakanda is being set up to be the battleground for Infinity War.  We will see.

The movie does have a few flaws.  There was such a large cast that I can’t help but feel that some characters were shorted in both their stories and development.   Some pivotal moments left me scratching my head, particularly with how characters didn’t give enough weight to some things in some scenes, while they did in others.  There were also some pacing issues where some of the setup took longer than really neccessary.  They wanted us to explore this world of theirs, but in the process they shorted other parts of the movie.

All in all, it was a fun movie and I recommend it.  It has its own unique feel and I would like to see how it connects in to other movies, particularly the upcoming Infinity War.  Now, go out and see it for yourself and feel free to tell me what you think!

Movie Review: Thor Ragnarok

I finally had the time to watch Thor: Ragnarok.  Short version: it’s a crazy, fast-paced, often ADHD, humorous, adventure.  Go see it for yourself.

Long version: the movie is funny, the action scenes are over the top and Cate Blanchet is a fantastic villain.  The interactions between Thor and Loki are witty and charming and there’s even a couple of moments of endearing emotion, as you sense they are two brothers who have gone their (very) separate ways but still care for one another (even as they try to kill one another).

The constant humor is great, though I wonder how well it will hold up over time.  Thor, normally the straight man, is making witty quips and throwing out cheesy one-liners almost constantly.  At times, it feels like a series of 80’s one-liners tied together with a bunch of action scenes.  Still, the jokes are funny and the situations are dark enough that without this level of humor, it would be a pretty depressing movie.

There are no major plot twists (or at least, nothing that’s not hinted at from the beginning).  This is a movie about Thor beating down those who get in his path (and occasionally being electrocuted, I mean, what’s up with that, he’s the God of Thunder, how is electricity his weakness?).   It has something of a Blues Brother vibe, “We’re putting the band back together!”  But that campy humor works… because the situations are so ridiculous and desperate that sometimes unleashing a Hulk on your home planet is preferable to the alternative.

It’s not a movie without flaws.   The director definitely went with humor as a way to diffuse the very dark overall plot line.  That’s fine, but I do think they could have spent a bit more time exploring the sacrifices and efforts of all the non-Thor Asgardians.  They had some terrific actors like Idris Elba who were basically in cameo roles.  The plot was fairly predictable, the villain(ess) was bad, even charmingly so, much like Loki, but without as much background or motivation.

I really enjoyed the movie, I may go see it again, but  I didn’t love the movie, not the way I was hoping.  There were no deeper themes, other than the occasional bit about family.  This was an action movie, first and foremost.  Which is fine, but it left me wanting just that little bit more.

Movie Review: Doctor Strange

Things get a little strange...
Things get a little strange…

I saw Doctor Strange.  It was awesome.  Go see it.  Review done.

Wait, you want more?  Fine…  Plot-wise, it’s basically Marvel’s standard formula.  Put a lot of arrogance, a lot of talent, and ridiculously good looks into a main character package, stir in some terrible tragedy and a stretch of painful character growth and then add a dark-mirror villain.  Serve warm with chilled drinks.

The writing, though, is fantastic.  The pacing is perfect, there’s never a scene where I looked at my phone or watch to see how long was left.   I drank too much of my caffeinated beverage of choice and you know what? My butt was glued to the seat the entire time.   The lines and delivery are fantastic.  Benedict Wong was the best secondary character, his deadpan deliveries were fantastic.

The humor was varied and didn’t miss a beat.  The graphics were fantastic.  The characters were fun and engaging.  Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One was alien and powerful and highly sympathetic.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange was arrogant, abrasive, and utterly charming.

The end-credits scenes, particularly the first one, are fantastic and worth waiting for, even if you really need to use the restroom.  Stick it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Overall, this is a magnificent showing, Marvel Studios does what they do best: creating a massive universe and introducing new characters in fun and engaging ways.  Go see this one.  It doesn’t matter if you know nothing about Doctor Strange, it’s just a fun, entertaining movie where they got everything right.

Movie Review of Captain America: Civil War (No Spoilers)

Red vs Blue
Red vs Blue

No Spoilers.

I’m not a comic book fan.  In fact, the couple times I’ve tried to read comic books, I’ve come away frustrated and annoyed.  Mostly because I read too fast and I don’t stop to appreciate the art.

That said, I did read up on what “Civil War” would involve, seeing as I love the Marvel movies.  As the characters have grown through multiple movies, I find myself liking the series more and more.  Captain America has become my favorite… because unlike the other characters, he doesn’t struggle with the power he has, he struggles to do as much good as he can.  In fact, while I really liked and identified with Tony Stark back in Iron Man… well, I think he’s kind of turned into a self-absorbed a-hole of late.

Which sets him up brilliantly in this movie.  What we have is a fight where everyone has grounded, established reasons for picking sides over the stated premise.  In fact, it’s brilliantly established that the central characters have multiple reasons, some of them they may not even realize themselves, to oppose one another.

It gets better, though.  The fantastic writing pays out in scene after scene.  New characters are brought in perfectly, in a way that doesn’t break up the action or come across with inconsistency.  One scene flows into the next and when you finally feel like you can’t take anymore, the action takes a break and gives you some time to recover.

There’s fantastic use of dramatic tension and symbolism.  In just about every scene I would think to myself “wow, I see what you did there, good job.”  This is storytelling at it’s finest.  You’re here to see what would make Earth’s defenders throw down and they deliver… in a way that doesn’t leave you doubting why for an instant.

I don’t normally like movies where the good guys are at odds.  In fact, it’s a storyline that I hate in books, movies, and TV.  Having been at odds with friends before, I hate the feeling, the anger and at the same time that feeling that something in the world is wrong.  Seeing it in movies often just makes me irritated.  In Captain America Civil War, there’s none of that.  Yes, I wish that our heroes would stop and talk things out, but their circumstances are such that they have no choice other than to be who they are.  Besides, we came to see them punching each other.

Thematically, Civil War is about individual rights and freedoms against the collective.  In my mind, they pulled it off brilliantly.  There were no compromises, no pulled punches.  These superheroes are responsible for saving or failing to save the lives of thousands, maybe millions (possibly all of Earth).  Their fight right now comes back to the very reasons they are heroes.  It’s simple enough to say “I’m the good guy, this is just what I do.”  It’s a lot harder to make a movie like this, where the heroes are forced to confront their own moralities.

Would I have liked a different storyline?  Probably… but I think the movies would be poorer for it.  In Captain America: Civil War the writers and directors drew a line in the sand.  They forced the characters to grow and us as an audience as well.  If we want to watch big stupid men pummel each other and slaughter enemies without consequence, we should go watch some other movies (Looking at you DC).  If we want to see genuine, real, people, who do what they do for complex reasons and who really struggle to improve the world and take responsibility for their actions, then this is the movie you should be watching.

If you’ve enjoyed any of the Marvel movies, go and see Civil War.  You won’t regret it.

Movie Review: Deadpool

Deadpool: A Valentine's Day movie in the style of Roman Lupercalia
Deadpool: A Valentine’s Day movie in the style of Roman Lupercalia

In ancient times, the Romans celebrated Lupercalia, a fertility celebration with some vague ties to Valentines Day.  Lupercalia involved blood sacrifice, lots of nudity, and a little bit of violence.   In that fashion, Deadpool is the perfect movie to celebrate that holiday.

I thought that writing a review about the new Deadpool movie would be easy, but it’s more difficult than I thought.  My first comment would have to be: Do not take your kids to this movie.  I don’t care how progressive a parent you are… just don’t.  At my showing, there were over a dozen families in the audience… and at least a few of them headed for the doors not long into the movie.  Your kids don’t need to be exposed to this stuff, and unless you’re ready to explain some rather esoteric humor, you’ll probably be glad you left them at home.

That disclaimer aside, it’s a complicated movie.

On the one hand, it is outrageously vulgar and violent…. while being accurate in too many ways to fully describe.  The violence is at once cartoonish and yet the wounds, the manner of death, is particularly accurate.  The profanity and vulgarity are both over the top and yet utterly fitting.

On the other hand, the movie is absolutely hilarious.  I haven’t laughed so much in any movie I can recently remember.  The humor is dark, sarcastic, and often inappropriate… but it works wonderfully.

It’s a complex movie, filled with slapstick and it takes time to point at itself and laugh.  From the opening credits to the final end-scene, there isn’t any waste.  Everything in the movie is designed to be funny and entertaining.  It is fantastically done.

This isn’t a movie for the faint of heart.  There’s enough realistically depicted violence, sexual content, and horrible things to offend just about anyone.  That said, if you go into it with the right mindset, you’ll probably walk out with a smile on your face.  It points and laughs at itself, it points and laughs at the audience for watching, but the movie has the balls to pull it off, great marketing, and you can tell they really enjoyed making the movie.

Stick around after the credits (assuming you’re not one of the families I saw in the theater, who generally fled as soon as the credits rolled).  Pay attention throughout the movie, there’s plenty of humor to be found.  I’m excited they’re making a sequel, I’m looking forward to seeing that, hopefully with a bit bigger a budget.

As a side note, literally not one of the movies they showed trailers for looked remotely appealing.  Yes, that includes the upcoming Batman vs Superman  movie.  Don’t even get me started about The Purge…

Next movie I see will probably be Captain America: Civil War.

All your galaxies are belong to us… Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy

 

I have to admit, the movie I was most excited about this summer was Guardians of the Galaxy.  Why?  Well, I had never heard of the comics, I don’t even read comic books.  I didn’t know much about the characters or setting, just what I saw in the trailers… and what did I see there?  Humor, action, space opera, heroes, villains, and people stuck in between.

Guardians of the Galaxy delivered all of that, in spades.  It managed to turn a sarcastic, vicious character into an object of pity with a couple seconds out of a scene, without the use of words.  Characterization of the group was excellent, with each figure being a mix of both comedy, tragedy, scum, and reluctant hero, all rolled up into individual pieces that stood strong and alone.  Rocket is phenomenal, with some of the best lines in the movie, yet far from being just a comedic element.  Drax the Destroyer is at once both a juggernaut but also Shakespearean.  Vin Diesel may only ever say three words as Groot, but he manages to put subtle emphasis into it… and Groot comes across as both very alien and a character we can empathize with at the same time.  Peter Quill is brilliant: a humorous rogue with dreams of success at odds with his own larcenous heart and his past he can’t quite escape.  What’s not to like?

It’s serious space opera, with epic landscapes, space ships, travel between worlds, alien races galore, and conflict with nothing less than the fate of billions at stake.  The movie makes excellent use of dramatic tension and comedic elements, blending both to the point that you almost feel whip-lashed… yet they work so seamlessly together that you can laugh even at the tightest moments of drama and still be on the edge of your seat.  I’d love to go into more detail, but in consideration of those who haven’t seen it yet, I’ll leave off.

All that said, the movie does have a few faults, minor though they are.  Gamorra is probably the weakest characterized of the heroes, not due to any fault of Zoe Saldana, but more because her character gets sidelined a bit.  The villains, while dark, don’t get enough screen time to really establish themselves, in particular, Ronin the Accuser is a nasty, scary sort, but we just get told he’s a fanatic and have to just roll with that.  Nebula is awesome, with some of the best lines in the movie, particularly between her and Gamorra.  I would argue that Nebula has more of a developed character than Gamorra.

Still, these are minor things.  This is the first movie I’ve seen in years that I want to go back in theaters not just for a second screening, but also a third.  Guardians managed to take first place for my movies this year… and I would be very surprised if anything can knock it off that pedestal.