Posts Tagged ‘mcu’

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Black Panther (2018)

March 1, 2018

Directed by: Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station)
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman

Thoughts: What a huge movie. An absolute colossal success and a groundbreaking film in terms of showing that an almost entirely black cast can produce monster box office numbers. Ugh. I hate typing that sentence. I shouldn’t have to. But one can’t ignore the fact that this sort of opportunity has been sorely lacking in the past and Black Panther will surely open doors and possibly knock them completely off the hinges.

Ryan Coogler and his team really did a wonderful job creating this film. The fictional nation of Wakanda is stunning and fully realized and does as much for empowering women as it does for black people. In Wakanda, women are the fiercest warriors and protectors of the realm, and T’Challa’s sister is the head engineer in advanced weaponry and gadgetry. There’s been some buzz in the industry the last few years about casting a black James Bond, and Black Panther has a lot of 007 in it.

The main conflict in the film is that Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger believes that he has a claim to the throne in Wakanda and challenges T’Challa. Killmonger’s motives and backstory provide some conflict in the viewers as he’s a rare villain that you can possibly sympathize with.

The cast in this movie does a brilliant job, with Jordan being the highlight and Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright also giving strong and fun performances.

Black Panther is a film that fires on all cylinders and provides a thoroughly entertaining film experience. It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser. I had a blast watching it and I hope it’s just as much fun over multiple viewings. I can confidently say Black Panther ranks in the upper echelon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – possibly as high as #1 – and the presentation of Wakanda and the film’s groundbreaking nature make it a must see in my book.

Replay Value: If I didn’t have so many other movies to watch before the Oscars, I would have seen this again by now. I’m looking forward to a second viewing and I suspect it will hold up pretty well. It is a film I will want to own.

Sequel Potential: The film’s success will certainly fast-track a sequel. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it released in 2020. T’Challa should be playing a significant role in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War films.

Oscar Potential: I called multiple nominations for Get Out at this time last year and I was right on most of them. I feel less confident in Black Panther‘s chances. This film’s strongest cases are probably in the Production Design, Costumes, Visual Effects, and Sound departments. Michael B. Jordan has already got some Supporting Actor buzz, but he probably won’t get a nomination.

*Dina Meter: My wife would have enjoyed this movie.

8/10 (Must See)

*I’m adding a new element to my movie reviews. I don’t expect everyone to have the same taste as me. Someone asked what my favorite movies of 2017 were and my first response was The Shape of Water and the person I was talking to said he hated it. My friend I saw it with didn’t like it much either. I feel like my wife is a pretty good measure of what a casual filmgoer will like or not like. She tends to not enjoy the more obscure films that I like. With that in mind, I’m implementing the Dina Meter, where I will sum up what she thought about a movie or what I think she would have thought if we didn’t watch it together.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

July 10, 2017

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya
Director: Jon Watts

Bottom Line: I loved it. Tonally, this is the Spider-Man movie we’ve been waiting for: a high school kid that looks and acts like a high school kid and is clearly in the rookie year of his superhero adventures, despite briefly dipping his head in the majors in Captain America: Civil War. While Spider-Man might have a high tech suit capable of amazing things thanks to Tony Stark, he’s still just a kid looking to help out around his borough and hoping not to be a loser at school, while waiting around hoping The Avengers come calling or he stumbles across something big.

Tom Holland crushes the role. We got a glimpse that he might be the right actor for the job in Civil War but now there’s no doubt about it. Holland is charismatic and hilarious and does some great physical comedy in the film. I think it’s safe to say that we will be seeing him as Spider-Man for at least the next decade and that’s a very good thing. He is perfect for the job and it will be fun to watch him grow up with the character.

The script in this movie was fantastic. I’ve heard people call it the funniest Marvel movie yet and maybe it is – it was basically nonstop laughs for two hours and all the jokes landed successfully. Michael Keaton plays Spidey nemesis Adrian Toomes, a.k.a. The Vulture, and, as expected, does a great job, bringing an everyday person element to the character that is usually missing from comic book villains. Toomes is a regular guy whose company strikes a huge deal to cleanup the aftermath of the first Avengers movie only to have a Tony Stark subdivision come in and take things over with little apology, despite Toomes pouring all his financial resources into the project. It’s a smart way to weave The Vulture into the MCU and screenwriters make some other genius decisions with this character as well.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is exactly what you want from a Spider-Man movie: great action, lots of laughs, a charismatic and funny hero, and a formidable villain with some emotional resonance. The film works incredibly well considering it doesn’t introduce Spidey staples like Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, or Harry Osborn. Most movies, even when they are good, you still want to end at some point, but I could’ve watched Tom Holland play Spider-Man for several more hours and I’m really looking forward to more sequels and Avengers appearances in the future.

Replay Value: I’d watch it again now and it will be a must own in my movie collection.
Sequel Potential: Avengers: Infinity War is due out next year and a Spidey sequel is announced for 2019.
Oscar Potential: Great performances from Holland and Keaton, but not really Oscar fare here. Of all the 2017 films I’ve seen so far, I’d give this one the edge in Visual Effects.

Grade: 7.5/10 (highly enjoyable/must see)

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Doctor Strange (2016)

November 9, 2016

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong
Director: Scott Derrickson (Sinister)

Bottom Line: Marvel continues its trend of pumping out solid origin stories for its vast stable of superheroes with Doctor Strange, the first film in the MCU to deal with the more mystical side of things. The film is basically your typical Marvel origin movie meets Christopher Nolan’s Inception, both in concept and visually. After getting in a terrible car accident that renders his hands unusable, Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) desperately seeks any way possible to regain his functionality and winds up in the Himalayan Mountains where he meets The Ancient One (Swinton) and learns about things like the multiverse, metaphysical abilities and a bunch of other things that will make your head hurt if you try to understand it all. Just sit back and enjoy the ride – it’s a fun one. The film is as visually dazzling as anything we’ve seen since Inception or Gravity and the script is sprinkled with all the light humor we’ve come to expect from Marvel movies.

From the moment it was announced, you just knew Benedict Cumberbatch was perfect casting as Doctor Strange and it’s no surprise that he absolutely crushes the role. What is somewhat surprising is how good the supporting cast is, but then again, maybe it shouldn’t be – four members of the main cast are former Oscar nominees. Though Marvel has done extremely well at casting all it’s properties, I have to say Doctor Strange is the best ensemble performance in the MCU I’ve seen to date. For a comic book film, it’s top shelf stuff. Also, Strange’s cape is the most entertaining piece of fabric since Aladdin’s magic carpet.

Marvel still has it. I see some critics are getting tired of the superhero genre, but the reality is, Marvel continues to put out quality and inventive properties. Doctor Strange adds a whole new dimension to the MCU – literally – and I’m looking forward to seeing Stephen Strange interact with The Avengers. Doctor Strange is a must see superhero film due to its strong performances and great visual effects and an all around fun time at the movies.

Replay Value: The Marvel films tend to be really good the first time you see them but dip a bit in enjoyment the second time through.
Sequel Potential: I’m sure we will be seeing Doctor Strange in upcoming Marvel films and he’ll probably get a sequel somewhere down the line.
Oscar Potential: Visual Effects will be a strong contender. The acting is great here, but nothing revolutionary and superhero movies tend to be overlooked anyway.

Grade: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Bridge Of Spies (2015)

December 7, 2015

Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda
Director: Steven Spielberg

Bottom Line: Bridge Of Spies took me by surprise. With Steven Spielberg directing, the Coens Brothers writing, and Tom Hanks starring, I’m not sure how this movie snuck up on me, but it did. Maybe it’s because the only Spielberg movie I’ve seen in the past decade was Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull and, well, I think we know how that disaster turned out. Now that’s not to say that Spielberg’s most recent films (War Horse, Lincoln) have been bad, but for whatever reason I just haven’t gotten around to watching them.

I’m happy to report that Bridge Of Spies, at least, is a return to form, as Spielberg takes us into Cold War espionage, with Hanks playing James B. Donovan, an American attorney charged with the unenviable task of representing a Soviet spy in court. Donovan is soon Public Enemy No. 1 when he takes his duties seriously and becomes enamored with the Soviet prisoner, making sure that the captured spy gets the due process that is the right of anyone in America.

I knew nothing of the plot before watching this movie and I was expecting an action flick, so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a riveting character drama. Hanks is great as Donovan and Mark Rylance made Soviet spy Rudolf Abel so affable it’s easy to see how Donovan’s commitment to his case went beyond a sense of duty and became a task he was proud to see all the way through.

I would recommend Bridge Of Spies to just about anyone. I felt that it had the perfect blend of drama and character building, but I could see how some people might find it slow. I thought it was well paced, sometimes intense, and all around entertaining.

Replay Value: Worth a second viewing.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: It’s early, but I could see this film getting some attention – perhaps in the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor departments. I think Rylance has a good chance at a supporting nomination as well.

Grade: 7.5/10 (Recommended/Must See)

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Ant-Man (2015)

July 31, 2015

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll
Director: Peyton Reed (Yes Man, The Break-Up, Bring It On)

Bottom Line: When Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World dropped out of directing Ant-Man, I have to say my hopes for the film decreased drastically. I’m happy to report that Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man is a nice surprise and a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It probably didn’t hurt that Wright stayed on as a screenwriter and executive producer, thus having a say in keeping his original vision somewhat in tact.

Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a convict fresh out of jail, looking to find work and live the straight life so he can be a good father to his daughter. Unable to hold a job due to his criminal past, Lang teams up with a dopey group of robbers for a heist that he hopes can provide him with enough financial security to keep up on his child support. Unfortunately for this group of “wombats,” they are being set up so that Scott can break into a safe and discover the Ant-Man suit, left behind by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Hank wants Scott to become the Ant-Man because his old company is now being run by Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), a sketchy guy close to unraveling the secret behind the Ant-Man technology and selling it off to questionable government officials, something Hank has long feared could happen.

Paul Rudd was perfect casting as our reluctant hero. A solid comic actor, Rudd seamlessly steps into the role of superhero while infusing Ant-Man with plenty of laughs. In fact, Ant-Man is even funnier than Gaurdians Of The Galaxy, which I thought was hilarious the first time I watched it. Michael Pena, in particular, really steals the show as one of Lang’s ex-convict/robber friends, providing plenty of the film’s funniest lines and moments. The rest of the supporting cast is decent in their roles.

Ant-Man was more fun than the last Avengers movie and it will be interesting to see how Scott Lang fits in with earth’s mightiest heroes when they inevitably cross paths. I will offer a minor spoiler in saying that an Avenger makes a cameo in Ant-Man and it’s quite easily the highlight of the film.

There is a lot that can go wrong with a superhero whose main abilities are shrinking in size and interacting with ants. Ant-Man balances the absurd with a perfect blend of seriousness and humor. It’s pretty funny to see the film cut away from micro-sized, but intense action sequences and pan out to see what the carnage looks like from a human’s POV – in other words, like a whole lot of nothing. The visuals in the film are well done as technology has come a long way since Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. I thought Ant-Man would be must see in 3D, and maybe it is, but watching it in 3D didn’t really add any wow factor.

Ant-Man is a great entry into the MCU, providing a fun story with plenty of good action and tons of comedy.

Replay Value: Definitely worth seeing again but it will be interesting to see how well the comedy holds up on repeat viewings.
Sequel Potential: Ant-Man will probably make multiple appearances in other Marvel movies before appearing in his own sequel.
Oscar Potential: Possibly some visual effects attention.

Grade: 7/10 (Must See)