FILM REVIEW DOUBLE: DEADPOOL (2016) & DEADPOOL 2 (2018)

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DEADPOOL (2016)

Colossus: You will come talk with Professor Xavier.
Deadpool: McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines can get so confusing.

Director: Tim Miller

Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Karan Soni and Leslie Uggams

Synopsis: A fast-talking mercenary with a morbid sense of humour is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a quest for revenge.

Deadpool came out in 2016 in the peak of Comic Book Movie saturation. However with its R-Rated graphic violence, tongue in cheek humour and iconic performance from Ryan Reynolds this became the highest grossing X-Men film and a refreshing new take on the genre.

This is an average superhero origin story about a mercenary named Wade Wilson who falls for a stripper named Vanessa (played by the stunning Morena Baccarin) but soon gets cancer and doen’t have much longer to live. He decides to go through an experiment which will give him mutant powers similar to Wolverine where he can grow back his body parts and is unkillable. However the experiment leaves him disfigured and he leaves Vanessa and becomes Deadpool to exact revenge on the man who led the experiments, Ajax (Ed Skrein).

Although the plot is mediocre what elevates the material is the mix of R-Rated graphic violence
with the comedy of the character Deadpool who has constant witty remarks, breaks the fourth wall, insults himself and the X-Men Universe. Ryan Reynolds is brilliant as Deadpool, after many misfires as a superhero including Deadpool in the maligned Wolverine: Origins he finally found his own iconic performance. After this film everyone now knows him as Deadpool. Reynolds has always been a great presence on screen with his charming looks and Jim Carrey-esque humour. However he had more misses than hits. This film changed all of that as it was a massive success for an R rated Superhero film. Something the Studios never predicted.

The film also excels with its wonderful mix of supporting characters. The beautiful Morena Baccarin as Wade Wilson’s love interest is every comic book nerds fantasy. You have Karan Soni as the Indian Taxi Driver Dopinder, who seems sensitive and sweet in the beginning but has a dark side by the end. T.J. Miller as Weasel, Wade’s bartender who offers advice in times of need. Leslie Uggams (scene stealer) as Blind Al the ctrotchety blind old black woman who becomes Deadpool’s roommate.

This film is a lot of fun and similar to Iron Man, I wasn’t aware of the character from comic books or the X-Men Film Universe however this film changed all of that and I am now a huge fan of the character on screen and the comic book page.

A-

Highlights:
– Stan Lee as the Strip Club DJ
– Excellent opening establishing Deadpool as a character with his witty banter, conversations through the fourth wall, and then the action packed car chase sequence.
– The Soundtrack of cheesy 80’s/90’s hits

 

DEADPOOL 2 (2018)

Cable: You’re no hero. You’re just a clown, dressed up like a sex toy.
Deadpool: So dark. You sure you’re not from the DC universe?

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick & Ryan Reynolds

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Karan Soni and Leslie Uggams

Synopsis: Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA. Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy of supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling mutant, Cable.

Deadpool 2 is as fun and entertaining as the original. Ryan Reynolds is still perfect as the Merc with a Mouth. However like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 you love these characters and enjoy the ride but the movie doesn’t surpass the original as it is exactly the same experience without the surprise of the first time you see these characters and their depiction on screen. The format is the same with Deadpool still breaking the fourth wall with witty jokes about X-Men films, comic book and pop culture references, and a sweet heart. This time instead of a love story it is a family story at its core.

The film actually borrows a lot from one of the best sequels of all time Terminator 2. A soldier from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin’s second Marvel villain this year) comes back in time to avenge the loss of his family by killing the Mutant who killed his family as a child. That child is Russell (Julian Dennison) a flame throwing mutant who is tested on in a Mutant Orphanage which is a front for dangerous tests and possibly sexual harassment of Mutants. Cable believes that if he kills him he can change the future and save his family. There isn’t much explanation of the character of Cable, all we know is that he is a strong soldier from the future with a cool gun who lost his family. Josh Brolin has a strong presence on screen however the character is quite underdeveloped and could have had more to do than being a killing machine like the original Terminator. Julian Dennison as Russell is a sympathetic character with a great story arc which coincides with each character. Deadpool’s bond with him becomes the heart of the story and provides drama to each action scene where he needs to protect Russell.

The Deadpool films aren’t your typical X-Men films. They are not dramatic character stories involving Mutants dealing with humanity. They are first and foremost superhero comedies (even parodies at some points) so you won’t get the characterisation and drama you expect from an X-Men film. All of the characters aside from Cable and Russell are comic relief with Deadpool as the main funny guy. I love this as it is a fun and different approach to the typical Marvel and DC fare, especially after the grim Avengers: Infinity War. This is just a fun pop-corn film with great action (new director David Leitch from the John Wick films brings a slickness to the action which was missing in the first) and great comedy from not only Ryan Reynolds Deadpool but from the supporting cast including Karan Soni as Dopinder, T.J. Miller as Weasel, Stefan Kapicic as Colossus, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Leslie Uggams as Blind Al. The original built a successful formula with these characters and the sequel continues with their characters building on the original.

The sequel does introduce more comedic sidekicks with Deadpool trying to create his own version of the X-Men with X-Force which includes one of the best sequences of the film on their first mission to save Russell. Domino (played with charm and toughness by Zazie Beetz) is the stand out of the team and a great new addition to the Deadpool films.

If you enjoyed the first Deadpool I can’t imagine you wouldn’t enjoy this one. There is plenty of tongue in cheek humour and gruesome violence for the older comic book film fans to enjoy. It doesn’t capture the magic of the original but it is still a fun ride and I hope we get more Deadpool soon.

A-

Highlights:
• Best post credit scene ever
• The cameos
• Every scene with Dopinder
• Dubstep

KEVIN SMITH RETROSPECTIVE FILM REVIEW: MALLRATS (1995)

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Brodie: My Grandmother always used to say “why buy the cow, when you can get the sex for free”.
T.S. Quint: She didn’t!
Brodie: All the time, before she became a lesbian on her 60th Birthday, but that’s besides the point.

Director: Kevin Smith

Writer: Kevin Smith

Synopsis: Both dumped by their girlfriends, two best friends seek refuge in the local mall.

Mallrats, Keven Smith’s sophomore feature is a steep drop in quality from the promise of his indie hit feature film Clerks. The plot, characters and jokes are all very lame and it is in some ways structurally very similar to Clerks. Two best friends; one is emotional and depressed with his life and the other is cocky, has witty dialogue and argues with his friend for not “manning” up and enjoying his life. However compared to Clerks these characters don’t have Dante and Randal’s chemistry. Jason Lee is a scene stealer similar to Jeff Anderson’s performance as Randal and he is the best thing in the movie. Jason Lee of course went on to a successful comedy career on screen and television and this breakout performance proves why. Jeremy London however is extremely bland and looks like he was picked out of a generic 90’s sitcom. He in no way compares to Brian O’Halloran’s performance as Dante in Clerks (Brian O’Halloran has a cameo in the conclusion of the film and you miss his presence from Clerks he should’ve been in this film more) even though he is his surrogate in this film. Another familiar trope from Clerks has our two protagonists spend a day in one location. He swapped a convenience store to a Mall. It parallels Kevin Smith’s career at this point as he made a small independent film based in a small convenience store and now he is more popular as a filmmaker has a larger budget with access to better actors and behind the scenes crew and he has his characters wonder around a giant Mall instead of being stuck in a small convenience store. It’s like a kid with bigger and better toys than his old broken ones but still plays the same game with them. Although he had a larger budget and professional actors he seems to be repeating the same beats as Clerks and the film suffers for it. It looks a lot better than Clerks, the actors and settings are also better however the overall plot arcs, jokes and characters are all quite boring and bland compared to the protagonists and bizarre customers in Clerks.

The film follows TS Quint (Jeremy London) who is dumped by his girlfriend Brandi (the beautiful Claire Forlani) because her father doesn’t like him and he is too clingy and wants to get married right away. Already a poor plot opener. TS’s best friend Brodie (Jason Lee) is also dumped by his girlfriend (Shannen Doherty, in her hot 90’s phase) for being a loser who lives downstairs in his Mom’s house and plays video games and reads comic books all day. The film does reference comic books and Star Wars a lot more having Kevin Smith’s passions start to filter through his films more. The two friends decide to spend their day in the Mall to get their minds off their dramas. Once they get to the mall they meet a few interesting characters including William (Ethan Suplee) a guy staring at a Magic eye image desperately trying to see the Sail boat everyone is seeing, Gwen (Joey Lauren Adams) who is just there to be cute and pretty and ogled by the male characters but nothing else, Shannon played by Ben Affleck in one of his earliest roles at his most unlikable and sleaziest, Tricia (Renee Humphrey) a 15 year old girl who is doing a research project on sex with different men and finally the link to the Kevin Smith Universe – Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith). I love Jay and Silent Bob however they seem a bit muted down in this film especially Jay compared to his foul mouth in Clerks and future installments he seems to be trying to play a proper character instead of a fun side character. There plot in the film is also pretty lame as they are asked to stop a dating game show run by Brandi’s father Svenning (played by Michael Rooker in a scene chewing bizarre performance) so TS can win back Brandi.

If you haven’t seen Clerks and you were a young teenager in the 90’s you would probably find some enjoyment in this film. However looking back today in 2018 after following Kevin Smith’s career this is definitely one of his lowest points in his film-making career.

D

Highlights:
– Stink Palm
– Stan Lee’s cameo and possibly his best performance in a film.
– The homages to Batman and Star Wars.
– The Comic Book Cover Artwork for each character in the opening credits
– All the comic book references and the representation of comic nerds that aren’t glass wearing skinny little boys they can be tough and cocky like Brodie. Don’t forget this was the 90’s when comics in the cinemas were portrayed as kiddie stuff. Kevin Smith treated it seriously and look where we are today.

FILM REVIEW: AVENGERS INFINITY WAR (2018)

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Groot: I am Groot.
Steve Rogers: I am Steve Rogers.

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Writers: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Starring: Josh Brolin, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Benedict Wong, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillan, Winston Duke, Peter Dinklage and Tom Hiddleston

Synopsis: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

The third entry in the Avengers Trilogy and the nineteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From the post credit scene in Iron Man (2008) when we were introduced to Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Marvel fans around the world leapt for joy as they knew this was the beginning of a Marvel connected Universe. Over ten years we have been introduced to iconic Marvel Heroes such as Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man and even deeper cuts such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. Each film is unique in its own way but they have all grown into a similar formula. Regular man whether rich or poor comes across gaining special powers and learns life lessons from friends and villains then eventually saves the day. It is a common trope among all superhero movies however Marvel Studios has perfected the formula through perfect casting, strong directors and heaps of nods to the classic comic books where they all originate.

One thing that has spanned across most of the Marvel films is the threat of Thanos and the Infinity Stones. Fans have been waiting for this epic showdown and I’m sure for the fans it does not disappoint. The film opens with a dark and cold introduction of Thanos (brilliantly played by Josh Brolin with menace and ferocity) to show his true power and cruelty. This picks up straight after the previous Marvel film; Thor: Ragnarok. Thor and his team are powerless to his destruction and Thanos begins his quest to find all of the Infinity Stones. He comes to earth to wreak havoc on the streets of New York as Iron Man meets Doctor Strange and Hulk falls from the sky to warn them of what just happened and the threat of Thanos. What ensues for the rest of the film is the team all trying their best to stop Thanos from getting all of the Infinity Stones and ruling the world (or destroying it). The plot is quite simple and there isn’t much time for character development or character arcs except for perhaps between the Guardians of the Galaxy. The characters are still all played to perfection from the cast we know and love including; Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man/Tony Stark), Chris Evans (Captain America/Steve Rogers), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Tom Holland (Spider-Man/Peter Parker), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther/ T’Challa), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Letitia Wright (Shuri), Chris Pratt (Star-Lord/ Peter Quill), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Bradley Cooper (as the voice of Rocket), Vin Diesel (as the voice of Groot), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff), Anthony Mackie (Falcon/ Sam Wilson), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes), Benedict Wong (Wong), Don Cheadle (War Machine/James Rhodes), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Winston Duke (M’Baku), Peter Dinklage ( Eitri) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki). Although Josh Brolin’s Thanos is perhaps Marvels best villain to date his henchmen – The Black Order are pretty forgettable. Proxima Midnight (Monique Ganderton) brings a tough female villain for the female heroes to battle and Corvus Glaive (Michael James Shaw) is chilling, particularly his torture scene with Doctor Strange. However the rest of the villains just reminded me of the Orcs from the Lord of the Rings films, simply fodder for our heroes to punch and kick.

Most of the film is filled with epic battle sequences and it is very fast paced for a 2 and half hour film. It is fun to see all of our heroes together although they eventually split up into three factions. Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man end up on a spaceship trying to uncover the true identity and motives of Thanos. Captain America, Black Widow, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Hulk end up on Wakanda joining Black Panther’s team to help protect the stone in the Vision. Then we have the Guardians of the Galaxy rescuing Thor from space. Thor’s initial meeting with the Guardians is fantastic especially his meeting with Peter Quill provide some great comedic moments. Eventually Thor teams with Rocket and Groot to travel to another planet to find a weapon to kill Thanos and the rest of the Guardians join Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man to stop Thanos from getting the time stone from Doctor Strange.

The Guardians of the Galaxy were a real highlight in this film from their opening to the song The Rubberband Man by the Spinners they add comedy to dramatic scenes (especially Drax) but also have really strong heartfelt moments especially between Peter Quill and Gamora. Rocket and Groot teaming with Thor was also a stroke of brilliance.

All of this leads to an epic fight in Wakanda where Thanos tries to get the stone from Vision. I won’t spoil the rest (read below) however the epic scale of this battle is jaw dropping and reminiscent of the end battles of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). Overall the film is quite grim for a Marvel movie. There are jokes and fun banter between the heroes but overall this is the darkest Marvel film and it is more similar to a fantasy film in the style of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones rather than the Iron Man or Captain America films.

I enjoyed the film but I did feel it was a bit too overstuffed with characters and overall the plot was quite thin; stop Thanos from getting the Infinity Stones nothing more and nothing less. What was impressive were the incredible epic action scenes from start to finish and just generally catching up with characters we’ve grown to love over these ten years.

B+

Spoilers & Extra Thoughts:
• Gamora was a real highlight in this film. The scene of her backstory was gut-wrenching. Zoe Saldana’s performance was brilliant. Also her death was shocking and heartbreaking. However I have a feeling she may return in either the next Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
• I thought this would be a stand-alone film like the original Avengers and its sequel Age of Ultron. I remember hearing they were going to split it up into two parts like the final Harry Potter and Hunger Games films but Kevin Feige decided against it. However that’s exactly what they did! They ended on a cliffhanger. I didn’t enjoy the ending and to be honest I’m still confused as to why some characters began to die/disappear while others didn’t. I guess we’ll find out in the next one.
• I love Drax’s scene watching Peter and Gamora kiss while eating chips stating he has been there for hours and he has perfected the art of being silent and still.
• I loved how Thano’s killed Loki in the opening scene. Loki has been useless since the original Avengers. In hindsight he probably should’ve died in the original Avengers film.
• Speaking of characters dying I am disappointed that (besides Gamora) none of our major heroes died. The scene where Tony Stark got stabbed by Thanos had the crowd in my cinema gasping and I thought this could have been a great end to the character who had been around for ten years and launched the franchise. Marvel could have moved on and created a new path for the series. But they wimped out and let him survive. Most disappointing part of the film for me.

Marvel Cinematic Universe 2008 – 2018: Ranking

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I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I had a lot of fun re-watching them all before I saw Avengers: Infinity War yesterday. Here is my current ranking from the first Iron Man in 2008 to Avengers: Infinity War this year. I may have to update later in July when Ant-Man and the Wasp comes out. But for today here is my ranking of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Also by Marvel Cinematic Universe I mean the films solely produced by Marvel Studios so not X-Men, Deadpool or Fantastic Four which are produced by Fox or the old Spider-Man films produced by Sony.

Feel free to leave any feedback if I missed anything or if you agree or disagree. Let’s begin at the bottom.

  1. Thor: The Dark World

Pretty much a repeat of the first Thor but worse. Instead of Thor battling in space he again returns to earth to swoon over Natalie Portman. Forgettable villain and Loki is wasted in the film. No one looks like they are even trying. At least they got it right the third time around.

D-

  1. Thor (2011)

Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston deliver good performances as brothers Thor and Loki. But the rest is pretty boring and clichéd. When we should have been given an epic fantasy we got a fish out of water comedy. Asgard was beautifully designed however we are only there for a quarter of the film and we are left in deserted Texas for the rest of the film. Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Anthony Hopkins, and Idris Elba deserve better. One of the weaker entries in the Marvel Universe.

D+

  1. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

I actually liked Edward Norton as the Hulk. I don’t think he was given a chance to shine in this film. He is one of my favourite actors check out Primal Fear, American History X, and Fight Club. He did a good job however the film feels dated perhaps it’s the special effects or just the bare bones plot. I enjoyed the action in the opening scenes reminiscent of the Jason Bourne films or Fast & Furious 5 when they’re in Rio. The sequence in the University is also a great showcase for the Hulk’s true powers. It’s a good entry in the series but seems to now been forgotten since Mark Ruffalo took over as the Hulk in the Avengers.

C-

  1. Iron Man 2 (2010)

Still love Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man and enjoyed Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. I also actually enjoyed Mickey Rourke as Whiplash and Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer. However the film got bogged down with too many setups to future films and seemed a bit aimless. Should have been a stronger sequel to the first-rate original.

C

  1. Ant-Man (2016)

Pretty small entry (pun intended) entry in the Marvel Universe. Paul Rudd is great as Scott Lang/Ant-Man with his usual style of laid back humour. Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly are fine but the stand out is definitely Michael Pena as his con man buddy. Great visuals when he shrinks. Another generic villain. Would’ve loved to see Edgar Wright’s version. Fun entry but definitely in the lower end of the MCU

B-

  1. Doctor Strange (2016)

Enjoyable and trippy entry in the MCU. With dashes of Inception and Batman Begins. Benedict Cumberbatch is good as Steven Strange. Overall pretty formulaic origin story though.

B

  1. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Underrated entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Robert Downey Jr is still great as Tony Stark/Iron Man. I love how he has to depend on his wits instead of his suit to solve the crime. Also his chemistry with the little boy really shines. I love Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin and the twist that follows. Also the first Christmas Marvel film. Great action and great performances all around.

B-

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Enjoyable sequel to the original smash hit. Delves deeper into each characters past and also introduces new enjoyable characters. Lots of daddy issues in this film. Soundtrack and action scenes are great too. Cast is awesome. Very funny and entertaining but doesn’t surpass the original for me.

B-

  1. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Excellent opening scene featuring great action and fun banter between our favourite team. Also another classic scene is the crew having a chill out party all attempting to lift Thor’s hammer. 🔨 I love James Spader as the titular villain Ultron. However overall it is rather long, formulaic and relies too much on sub-plots to play out in future films.

B-

  1. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Really funny third entry in the Thor series. I love the 80s cheesy fantasy vibe. Chris Hemsworth leans into his comedy side we saw from Ghostbusters and SNL. Tessa Thompson is great. The real standout is Korg voiced by director Taika Waititi. Great action and visuals. I was very surprised by this entry.

B+

  1. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Tom Holland is great as the new Spider-Man and I love the 80s high school romantic comedy vibe. Michael Keaton is an excellent villain and Marissa Tomei is cute as Aunt May. The action scenes are pretty average. However I still really enjoyed this one.

B+

  1. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avengers in space! Epic action from start to finish. Lots of surprises and real heart. The consistent fun banter between our heroes is still present and Thano’s makes an excellent villain. However I was left wanting more. Seems like the first in a trilogy. Extremely reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings first entry in their trilogy. Have to see it a few more times to take it in a bit more but for now…

B+

  1. Iron Man (2008)

The introduction to the Marvel Universe. Again perfect casting of Robert Downey Jr as the cocky, sleazy billionaire Tony Stark who loses his heart but gains a soul. Jon Favreau crafted a unique origin story for a character honestly I barely knew about. When I was a kid I was raised on Spider-Man and Batman comics. However Favreau took all the tropes of the 90s comic book films and created something very special and timely dealing with the still at the time war in the Middle East. This was an origin story which was different – quirky, funny, action packed and still had heart. Great introduction to this universe.

A

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America is perfect casting. He brings a physicality and nobility I can’t see any other actor bringing to this role. I also love the supporting cast of Sebastian Stan, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving and Hayley Atwell. I love the WW11 setting and this is a great introduction to my favourite onscreen Marvel character.

A

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Great film. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista turn in excellent performances and Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel are awesome as the voices of Rocket Racoon and Groot respectively. Really fun space adventure in the groove of the original Star Wars.

A

  1. Avengers (2012)

Great ensemble team movie getting the band together. Captain America, Thor, Loki, Iron Man, Black Widow and especially Mark Ruffalo as the new Hulk all knock it out of the park. Great action and funny quips from beginning to end. I miss Joss Whedon’s sensibilities in the Marvel Universe. This was the first true beginning of the Marvel we know today.

A

  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Previously my favourite Marvel film. So many epic action sequences including the elevator fight, the car chases and the opening. However it is the chemistry between Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson. Then Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie. However especially Chris Evans and his long time friend turned enemy Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier. The Russo Brothers really surprised everyone with their realistic direction and staging of each scene. Chris Evans is perfect in this film as the stoic and noble Captain America.

A+

  1. Black Panther (2018)

Strong Marvel film with a diverse cast and a whole new aesthetic to the formulaic Marvel mode which has grown over the years. This is bold, daring and gives the African Americans a true hero to see on screen instead of another white actor named Chris. Only since Blade has their been a strong black superhero lead (not counting Luke Cage on Netflix). Top acting from Chadwick Boseman and especially Michael B. Jordan as the conflicted villain. Brilliant direction from Ryan Coogler (Creed) and beautiful production design. The special effects and action sequences could have been better however the characters and plot overcome those quibbles. Excellent Marvel film and could be the best film of 2018.

A+

  1. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

My favourite entry in the Marvel Universe thus far. Excellent performances from everyone in the cast especially Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. Brilliant action sequences from start to finish and the Airport face off is possibly the best sequence in all of the films. Excellent introductions to Black Panther and Spider-Man (3.0). The Russo Brothers deliver on every level. Also plenty of twists which really changes the characters and their dynamics for future films. Excellent film!

A+

 

*Stay tuned for my full review of Avengers: Infinity War after I see it a few more times.

*Also I’m going to make a top ten list of best moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far

FILM REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR (2015)

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Sue Storm: Music is just a series of altered patterns. The musician creates the pattern and makes us anticipate a resolution… then holds back. Makes you wait for it. There’s patterns in everything and everyone.

Director: Josh Trank

Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell

Synopsis: Four young outsiders teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.

2015’s Fantastic Four had so much potential – an amazing cast, a hot new director, a dark and gritty new tone and the opportunity for Fox to create their own Marvel Universe with the successful X-Men franchise. However in the beginning of August 2015 this film was released and critics and fanboys alike all came out with their pitchforks claiming this as the worst superhero film of all time! The film was a commercial flop only making $25 million in its opening weekend and eventually only making $56 million in America against its $200 million budget. So what went wrong? There are many theories of the behind the scenes action with director Josh Trank tweeting on the opening weekend ‘A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though’ which was soon taken down. It’s obvious that Trank butted heads with the studio and they came in to reshoot most of the film. Unfortunately all of this does appear on screen with a disjointed narrative and a confusing plot, Fantastic Four, just could not compete in our over saturated superhero film landscape.

Fantastic-Four-Trailer-Photo-Reed-Richards

The reviews are mostly correct this film is bad and could not compete with the excellent superhero films we’ve gotten in the last decade and even in 2015 alone. However I don’t believe it is the worst superhero film of all time. Or even the worst Fantastic Four film. I think what’s most disappointing is the potential in this film. Like I said these actors are in their prime Miles Teller hot off the popular and critically acclaimed Whiplash and Michael B. Jordan coming off the equally successful and critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station and about to blow up with the far superior Creed later that year. There was also Kate Mara coming off the popular House of Card’s Netflix series and director Josh Trank coming off the successful superhero found footage film Chronicle. This film should have been great with a whole new vision of the Fantastic Four spawning sequels and a new Marvel Universe. Instead what we got was a bunch of scientists hanging around a bunker talking science babble for half the film and then gaining powers without much explanation and a tacked on ending where the four are all of a sudden combat trained and ready for more adventures.

THE FANTASTIC FOUR

The plot revolves around Reed Richards (Miles Teller) a young science genius who is recruited by Dr. Franklin Storm played by Reg E. Cathey (who has the best speaking voice) to join a company where they are exploring travelling to different dimensions. His childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) joins him. There he meets Sue and Johnny Storm (Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan) who are Franklin’s children. Sue is also a scientist and Reed is attracted to her immediately. However she does have history with another scientist working there named Victor Von Doom (classic villain name) played with intensity by the always interesting Toby Kebbell. They eventually travel to another dimension and acquire powers that change them all uniquely. The scenes involving them all exploring their powers is quite horrific and there are signs of a more interesting film here. The film cuts to a year later where they have gotten used to their powers and have combat training. They need to find Von Doom who is still trapped in the other dimension. However I could be wrong this film was very confusing.

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This film is ultimately really boring with no stand out performances or action scenes or even comedy. These characters are meant to be fun and I would argue director Tim Story captured that in his two Fantastic Four films. Those films weren’t that bad they had a fun vibe when most superhero films took themselves too seriously. I cannot recommend this film and it’s disappointing that everyone involved failed to produce an entertaining superhero adventure when Marvel Studios is doing it so effortlessly.

Rating: 1 Star

FILM REVIEW: THE AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

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Tony Stark: Shit!
Steve Rogers: Language.

Director: Joss Whedon

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson

Synopsis: As The Avengers defeat the remaining forces of Hydra a new threat arises as Tony Stark and Bruce Banner attempt to develop a new security system for the world. When their experiment backfires, Ultron is born. A computer program/robot who wishes to exterminate humans from earth.

With mammoth expectations from Marvel Studios after last year’s critical and box office successes Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers Age of Ultron arrives with slight disappointment from fans. It is an impossible task for Whedon to top his first attempt of combining Marvels favourite heroes in 2012’s The Avengers. It is also an impossible task to keep the Marvel brand fresh off last years quite surprising hits especially Guardians of the Galaxy. However with a deeper look you can see that Whedon actually has topped the original with better chemistry between the heroes, a better villain with James Spader’s sly Ultron and bigger and better action set pieces beginning with a snowy attack on Hydra’s base in the opening scene.

This photo provided by Disney/Marvel shows, Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers, in the new film, "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." The movie releases in U.S. theaters on May 1, 2015. (Jay Maidment/Disney/Marvel via AP)

Avengers Age of Ultron actually delivers what everyone wants; nothing more and nothing less. Perhaps that is the issue with the Marvel brand in general, with every film released we are teased with the next feature. In 2011 we knew with the releases of the original Thor and Captain America and the success of the two Iron Man films that we would have an Avengers film the year later. With the ending of The Avengers and the reveal of Thanos we knew we would get an Infinity Wars Avengers film coming up. With Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World we knew we would get an Avengers sequel in 2015. There are no more surprises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even with the release of Age of Ultron we know next year we’ll get Captain America: Civil War. Marvel has even released their five year plan to the press so we all know what adventure our heroes will go on eventually. This takes the surprises and stakes out of the picture for Avengers AOU because we know Iron Man and Captain America will face off in next years Civil War and Thor will fight again in a further sequel in 2016. All we can do is try and enjoy this particular adventure on its own terms even through we know no one significant will die and nothing significant will happen that will alter Marvel’s five year plan.

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However sitting in the cinema and watching the action unfold, listening to Whedon’s witty banter come out of my favourite heroes mouths I can’t help but feel in love. I love Downey Jr’s snark and wit in Tony Stark, I love Evans naivety and stoic in Captain America, I love Hemsworth’s viking swagger as Thor, Johansson’s sexy Black Widow and Ruffalo’s brooding Bruce Banner. There is also Renner’s new and improved Hawkeye, Cheadle’s over-eager Rhodey and Anthony Mackie’s dedication to Cap in Sam Wilson. There are new surprises with Spader’s brilliant Ultron, Paul Bettany’s unique and amazing The Vision and Elizabeth Olsen’s sexy and scary Wanda Maximoff. Unfortunately Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff is a bit of a letdown after last year’s superior version in X-Men Days of Future Past. As you can see I’m a huge fan of Marvel and even though I know where each franchise is going I can still enjoy this adventure on its own terms and I think in time people will look back at this as one of the better adventures in the Marvel canon. Even though there are multiple plot lines, too many characters and the novelty of the heroes coming together for the first time removed, I think Whedon still excels as a comic book film auteur. It is a shame he is leaving the franchise however I believe he will deliver another excellent film soon.

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With excellent performances, brilliant action set pieces and a great villain in Ultron, Whedon has delivered a worthy sequel to The Avengers and also paves the way for more adventures that I can’t wait to see.

Rating: 4 Stars

REVIEW: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)

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Gamora: We’re just like Kevin Bacon.

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

Synopsis: A disparate team of thieves and bounty hunters join together to save the galaxy from an evil tyrant named Ronan the Accuser.

Review:

The latest blockbuster from Marvel Studios delivers all of the adventure and excitement of their previous comic book adaptations. A fast and enjoyable ride that will push these Marvel characters into the mainstream. The problem is it also doesn’t improve or transcend the genre either. This is not a complaint as this film not only delivers the thrills of the best superhero genre films but also subverts the conventions with quirky humour and a superb soundtrack of 70s and 80s hits. The only problem is that it doesn’t attempt to move beyond what has come before such as this years Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which delivered breathtaking action with excellent character drama. Perhaps it is too soon to compare this film to Captain America TWS because we have gotten to know those characters through multiple films and this is an origin story which ultimately must follow those conventions strictly to gain a wider audience. The inevitable sequel may use its time to delve into the characters further and create a deeper and more realised narrative. However what we have here feels somewhat rushed and fast paced to the point of shallow character development and more emphasis on special effects, action and humour. For the average movie goer this is sufficient for a good time at the movies and although this film is better than most of the blockbusters this year, including The Amazing Spiderman 2 and Transformers: Age of Extinction, it’s not a game changer either.

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The story begins in 1988 with a child named Peter Quill listening to ‘I’m not in Love’ the smooth 80s ballad on his Walkman, while waiting in a hospital preparing to see his ill mother. A heartfelt opening which is perhaps unlike any opening of a Marvel film we have seen. The heartfelt sequence is soon interrupted by Peter running off and randomly being taken by a spaceship. Cut to the future where Peter is a grown man still listening to his Walkman searching for a lost orb on another planet. We can see shades of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars immediately. Director James Gunn quickly subverts the genre with the Indiana Jones looking Chris Pratt dancing around the planet while he looks for the orb. This is a fun film with lots of humorous moments throughout and possibly the closest we’ll get to a great sci-fi comedy in the vein of Ghostbusters. Chris Pratt is almost a lighter Bill Murray. The film quickly gets into the space action and Gunn films it clearly and allows special effects to dazzle the audience. Peter quickly gets introduced to the other members of the team including Gamora (the sexy Zoe Saldana), Rocket, an anthropomorphised raccoon (voiced by a scraggly Bradley Cooper), the dumb and lovable tree, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and the bulky Drax the Destroyer (played with deadpan humour by professional wrestler, Dave Bautista). The crew come together rather quickly and I didn’t completely buy their immediate friendship based on how they get together. The films biggest fault in my opinion is in their introductions and the fast paced plotting of having them immediately all come together to become friends and ultimately defeat the evil force threatening the world. It’s almost as if the writers thought “Hey, we’ve got a team of badass characters who all have individual quirky traits who need to get together to save the world and then become best friends just like the avengers!” However these characters would have benefitted with more character development in their earlier introduction scenes and also remain individuals by the end. I’m not sure if it was necessary to establish them as a great team by the end because of how independent their backstories are. *Spoiler alert* I have to say I didn’t buy the ending where they all got together to go on another adventure. The film set them up to get together to fight this evil but I didn’t believe that they would always stay together and remain a team because of their pasts. I guess the comic book might have developed the characters better, but I have never read a Guardians of the Galaxy comic and I didn’t quite buy them as a team in this film.

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However these complaints aside I have to say the humour, action set pieces and the characters were all excellent and I did have a great time watching this film. Narrative problems aside this was a fun ride.

 Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Preview-Rocket-Raccoon-www.scifiempire.net_

Rating: 3.5 Stars