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Tag: Marvel

Reviews

Review: Captain Marvel [spoiler free]

March 16, 2019

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is winding down (well, until everything gets rebooted, anyway). The final Avengers movie hits the big screen next month, and soon we’ll discover just what exactly Steve Rogers and his depleted team of heroes plan on doing to resolve their little predicament.

With time running out for Disney to milk Marvel for all it’s worth (which is a lot, by the way), they’ve churned out one last origin story for us to feed on until Endgame is unleashed. The final piece in Stan Lee’s complex and colourful jigsaw.

Let’s talk about Captain Marvel.

Why now?

Captain Marvel was released on 27 February and is in cinemas in the UK.

In a nutshell

Captain Marvel is a Kree warrior caught up in an intergalactic battle between her people and the Skrulls, a race of shape-shifters aiming for universal conquest. She finds herself on Earth in the mid-90s 1995 and quickly discovers that she was once U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. Teaming up with a two-eyed Nick Fury, she sets about defeating the Skrulls and uncovering how she came to gain her incredible superpowers.

Who’s it for?

The movie is rated 12a, so some children may need an adult along. But apart from some mild Marvel-style violence, this one’s pretty tame.

Who’s in it?

Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel

Brie Larson played Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, and unsurprisingly, she’s very good. Danvers is actually not the easiest role to bring to life – her past is a bit complicated, and you’re not really sure if you’re supposed to be watching a human pilot with a penchant for karaoke or a battle-hardened alien being just trying to fulfil a mission. Either way, Larson pulls it off, and I’m really looking forward to seeing her in Endgame.

Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury, but with a twist or two. He’s considerably younger here (via some clever CGI), still retains both eyes, and isn’t quite as cynical as we find him later in the MCU. It was a nice change seeing Fury being somewhat less furious than usual.

The film also stars Ben “bad-guy voice” Mendelsohn as the leader of the Skrulls, Jude Law as Danvers’ Kree mentor and Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson (again, de-aged marvellously). It’s a relatively small but strong cast.

The good stuff

The good aspects of this film are obvious from the get-go, as are its negative qualities.

The cast is great, especially Larson. As I said, I’m looking forward to seeing how she integrates into the final Avengers movie, particularly under the direction of the Russo brothers. I imagine there’ll be some nice banter between her and the other super-powered heroes we’ve come to love.

Technically, the film looks and sounds good. It’s competently directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck with some great action sequences and stunning visuals. When Danvers comes to realise the full extent of her power later in the film, you genuinely get the sense that she’s fairly unstoppable.

And as with all Marvel movies, there’s a great deal of humour interspersed with the more serious moments throughout. It’s a fun movie, and most Marvel fans will enjoy it well enough.

However…

The not so good stuff

Maybe it’s the onset of Marvel fatigue, but I felt like I’d seen this movie already. While the narrative starts off with Danvers already in possession of her powers, it quickly rolls back into the usual MCU origin story formula: gets powers, learns more about powers, beats the Big Bad in the final act with said powers. This has all been done before, and better in some cases, unfortunately.

Secondly, the writing is often sub-standard for a Marvel movie. Some of the lines spouted by characters felt lazy and too by-the-book, especially in the case of Nicky Fury, who swung too far towards Hollywood cliché at times.

The filmmakers’ desire to empower women with this film and its lead character, while definitely admirable, becomes more of a distraction at times from the actual plot. It felt like some lines had been shoehorned in just to give the audience and critics a few sound-bites to take home. Yes, this is a film that gives younger viewers a great female role-model to emulate, but a blatantly-obvious pointed line like “I have nothing to prove to you” (addressed to a man) actually detracts from the flow of the narrative, like a big diversion sign by the side of the road.

Captain Marvel shouldn’t be deemed an excellent MCU film simply because it has a strong female lead, in the same way Black Panther shouldn’t be elevated just because it debunks racial stereotypes in its genre. Those plaudits should be gained on the merits of good film-making, which I believe Black Panther achieved more successfully, though not as successfully as many others suggested (I’m one of the few Marvel fans who wouldn’t rank it in my top five MCU movies).

My own gripes aside, Captain Marvel is a bit of an ‘almost’ movie: the writing is almost good, the humour is almost funny, the plot is almost engaging. But I felt like I’d seen it all before, and the filmmakers were in too much of a hurry to bang out one more quick origin story before it all wraps up next month.   

The bottom line

Captain Marvel is another enjoyable instalment in the MCU. Brie Larson grabs the lead role by the horns and is well-supported by a strong cast. It’s a solid enough movie, but it suffers from an overbearing need for its agenda to be pushed – had it been handled with a little more care, it could have been fantastic.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Editorials

The Movie Villains Who Nailed It (And Those Who Didn’t) – Part Three [Marvel Cinematic Universe]

March 6, 2019

Marvel has come a long way since Robert Downey Jr first donned the Iron Man suit in 2008 and took on Jeff Bridges’ Obadiah Stane, with a wide range of villains coming and going throughout the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s realisation. Every protagonist needs a worthy antagonist, and many directors have tried (sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing) to bring a comic book bad guy to life effectively on the big screen.

The MCU has gifted us some enduring villains (like the brilliant Loki) and completely forgettable ones (remember Whiplash in Iron Man 2? No?). Some of these bad guys were merely temporary foils for our favourite superheroes to gleefully slap around in a few big-budget action sequences and ultimately played a small role in any build-up before the film was released. Some, however, were absolutely critical to the plot and featured heavily in trailers and publicity material prior to making their anticipated appearance on screen.

As we complete our series on Villains, let’s take a look at two Big Bads in the MCU, one of whom hit the nail on the head, and one who ultimately proved to be a let-down.

Part Three: Marvel Villains

Ultron – so much potential, so little payoff

Ultron

Calm down, this is just my opinion.

When the first teaser trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron dropped and I heard James Spader growl “I’m going to show you something beautiful”, my instant reaction was…..oh yes. Spader has one of the best voices in Hollywood, and I thought he was the perfect choice to play the evil, evolving robot hell-bent on destroying humanity and the Avengers. And of course, he delivered every line exquisitely – better, in fact, than some of his fellow actors in the movie.

There is, however, only one word to adequately describe what Age of Ultron turned out to be – meh.

I’m probably in the minority here, but I was disappointed with this movie in the end. The first Avengers is just so good, one of the most enjoyable Marvel movies by far, perhaps with the exception of Thor: Ragnarok. Joss Whedon had set the bar pretty high in 2012 and had a lot to live up to with his 2015 sequel. His previous villain had been Loki, after all – not an easy act to follow.

But Ultron, in spite of everything he appeared he would be in the trailers, was ultimately a pretty two-dimensional villain. Yes, he had some complex daddy issues with Tony Stark and his actions resulted in the necessity for the Sokovia Accords, which caused the fallout in Captain America: Civil War, and yes, he helped create Vision, but Ultron just didn’t do it for me in the end. Age of Ultron itself isn’t written as well as its predecessor either and becomes a bit muddled towards the end – maybe if the film as a whole had been more successfully executed, Ultron would have reached his full potential.

Thanos – well worth the decade of anticipation

Thanos

I’m a huge fan of how the Russo brothers brought Infinity War to life on the big screen. It was a monumental challenge given the sheer number of characters involved, all of whom had their own personal backstories, but they pulled it off. You can read my glowing review here.

And one of the primary reasons for the success of that film is, I believe, its antagonist.

Marvel had been building steadily towards the big reveal of Thanos since his first cameo appearance in Thor in 2011. And when the titan finally appeared, he did not disappoint. In his first scene, he bumps off two of those enduring MCU characters we talked about and beats Hulk in a fist fight, which very few others can claim to have done. And that’s just him getting started.

I was always a little worried that Thanos would be just another two-dimensional villain driven by an unwavering desire to take over the universe, and while cosmic annihilation is indeed on his agenda, there’s something that very clearly sets him apart from all other villains in the MCU – he actually achieves his goal and defeats the good guys.

There are some pretty great villains in Marvel’s grand project, but for me, Thanos is the one who absolutely nailed it and very much lived up to the hype.

The bottom line

So there we have it – the movie villains who were worth the wait, and those who ultimately let us down (or let me down, anyway). Hope you’ve enjoyed my little rants, even if your opinion differs completely. But I’m sure we can all agree on one thing: a really great villain can raise the bar for any film.

Also Read: The Movie Villains Who Nailed It (And Those Who Didn’t) – Part Two [James Bond]

Editorials

Disney Strikes Back: Disney+ Breaks The Internet

January 29, 2019

It truly is an exciting time to be a film viewer with so many streaming sites vying for our attention. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV and so many others are competing to be your go-to entertainment streaming service. And soon another company will join the streaming wars. Disney announced last year that at some point in 2019 it will launch its own streaming service, Disney+. Many have prophesized that the entertainment behemoth could give Netflix a run for its money. So, today we are going to ask, what effect Disney+ could have on the streaming landscape. Will Netflix be able to compete with a company as giant as the house of mouse? And what could this mean for the future of film distribution?

What is Disney+ offering?

Disney+ is stated to be a child-friendly streaming hub for all of Disney’s owned films and TV shows. These include properties like Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, and National Geographic. Hulu will broadcast the more adult-oriented content owned by the company. So far, the service has not set a price, but has promised that it will be cheaper than a Netflix subscription. Similar to Netflix and Amazon Prime, Disney+ also plans to host exclusive content. These include Star Wars: The Mandalorian and a series based on Marvel’s Loki. It will also be the first place where all the latest Disney films become available.

How will this effect the industry?

Disney+ could herald the beginning of the next generation of streaming. With the studio’s pedigree and the exclusive big names they have, including Star Wars and Marvel, it seems likely that the production value of their exclusives will be high, with both properties usually focusing a lot on spectacle. And if the service becomes successful with a cheaper price, other streaming companies will have to step up their game. Perhaps lowering their price, offering new selling points or allotting higher budgets for their new projects. Competition breeds creativity and Disney+ seems poised to encourage that.

It is also interesting that Disney does not intend to dismiss cinema distribution. Allowing films to run their course in theatres rather than exclusively releasing it on Disney+. It is interesting that despite the rise of streaming, cinema exhibition continues to generate over £1 billion in revenue each year. And this display from Disney reinforces the importance of cinematic distribution. Therefore, cinemas will still benefit from the income that big releases bring to them. As well as allowing a broad audience to see the films before it becomes exclusive and potentially allowing platforms for smaller films to be seen by a larger audience.

However, if Disney+ is successful it’s not hard to see other big studios forming their own streaming companies to retain distribution rights. Meaning that a movie will run its course in cinemas and then become exclusive to that studio’s website. Customers will thus lose the variety of current streaming sites. Instead, they’ll have to sign up to multiple companies, with different prices to find what they want. This isn’t a particularly consumer-friendly environment to encourage. Plus with the four highest grossing movies of 2017 being produced by them, it’s not hard to see why Disney wants to keep using the cinema box office.

Netflix Vs Disney+

And with Disney+’s announcement, many saw it as a direct challenge to Netflix’s hold on the market. With a cheaper price, a large back catalog as well as original programming and exclusive retention of its latest cinema releases, many predict that Disney+ will be a great Netflix competitor. However, this judgment seems rash. It is exciting to see what Disney will bring to the table. And the more family-focused content of Disney+ makes it unique amongst current streaming companies. Which mainly focus on offering content for different age ranges. But ultimately it is hard to see Disney+ felling Netflix completely for one simple reason, a lack of variety.

The reason platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime have succeeded is because they provide a vast range of content for all ages and interests. Genre cinema, documentaries, critically acclaimed work, schlocky trash, foreign language cinema from all over the world, kids films and the latest blockbusters are all available on those platforms. And not everyone wants to watch a Disney show or movie when they get home. Some people want to watch an adult-oriented comedy or violent action films, not exclusively family-orientated films.

Just look at the domestic box office figures for Disney’s releases last year. Their box office takings are incredibly sporadic. With some projects earning hundreds of millions while others never reach the hundred mark. Fatigue can set in easily when there is little room to breathe between brand projects (comparatively speaking). Even big-name brands don’t guarantee success, see Solo: A Star Wars Story for proof of that. Disney+ will undoubtedly have a big fan base to rely on. But the limited audience range and content makes it seems more like an Amazon Prime add on than something you would exclusively pay for. 

Disney at the 2018 Box Office

What does the future hold?

Ultimately these judgements are merely speculation and we will find out what happens when Disney+ launches later this year.

It will be interesting to see how established companies will deal with the challenge posed by Disney. A healthy dose of competition is sure to produce a good amount of change. Both in business and in the products produced. And the retention of cinema distribution will give faith to cinemagoers and smaller filmmakers looking for potential platforms to reach a wide audience.

But it is also hard to not be pessimistic about what this could do to the industry by promoting insular distribution rather than reaching the widest possible audience. Overall this feels like something being done for business rather than art. And even devoted fan culture can get burnt out when given too much to chew.

Editorials

Three franchises ending soon: my hopes and fears for each

January 13, 2019
Avengers, Star Wars & Jurassic World

Good things come in threes (unless you’re an only child like me, in which case the BEST things come in ones), so this week I’ve picked out three film series that are coming to an end in the near future – one of which will wrap up in the very near future, I might add – and have laid out some of my hopes and fears for each.

Full disclosure: these are three film franchises that I adore, so apologies in advance if this gets emotional.

Let’s do them chronologically, just to keep things simple.

Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame (Teaser)

The Endgame title was revealed just last month, along with a decidedly threadbare teaser trailer. We saw Tony Stark saying his goodbyes to his beloved, a clean-shaven Captain America concocting a plan, and the reappearance of some faces notably absent from Infinity War. This next (and very much not final) entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be the 21st in the series since Iron Man kicked it all off in 2008, which is in itself a remarkable achievement.

Hopes and fears:

The Avengers find themselves in a sticky situation, with a significant portion of their team (along with half of all beings in existence) wiped out by the jolly purple giant Thanos at the end of Infinity War. Plenty have speculated, but no-one really knows exactly how everything’s going to work out fine in the end for our superheroes, though Ant-Man and his quantum tunnel machine thing surely have something to do with it…right?

Personally, I’m excited to see how Captain Marvel fits into this increasingly-complex puzzle – is she the key to defeating Thanos? More importantly, just where did everyone go after The Snap? I hope the Russo brothers can deliver another perfectly-balanced visual spectacle to follow on from the first film, with solid performances from a very talented cast and plenty more breath-taking MCU action. My only fear is that Endgame won’t live up to expectations, and that the weight of eleven years-worth of interwoven narratives and characterisation finally collapses in on itself.

Fingers crossed we can make it beyond April without that happening…

Star Wars Episode IX

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Trailer)

The as-yet-untitled final episode in the new trilogy is perfectly poised to surprise, I believe. The Resistance has been reduced to a handful of rebels stuffed into the Millennium Falcon, with the ever-angry Kylo Ren now the Supreme Leader of the First Order hell-bent on wiping them out. Han’s gone, Luke’s gone, and, as a result of tragic real-life circumstances, Leia probably won’t feature for long in the new movie. That leaves us solely with the new cast, as well as Lando Calrissian, who is due to make another appearance in that galaxy far, far away.

Hopes and fears:

I’m pretty hopeful for the final act in the Skywalker saga since J.J.Abrams retook the reins. The Force Awakens was excellent, while The Last Jedi was marmite (I loved it, for what it’s worth). Abrams is one of the best currently in the business, and with the story right on the brink of something truly special, I’m already getting excited about seeing how the inevitable Kylo-Rey-Finn love triangle pans out (don’t lie, you were thinking it too).

My fears for Star Wars always stem from Disney’s control over the final product. The worst part of The Last Jedi (ie. the middle bit at the casino) had clearly come about based on the advice of executives who wanted to retain a fun, child-friendly element in what was otherwise a darker and more interesting storyline. If Abrams and his writing team can keep the pesky Mickey Mouse meddlers out of production, we could have an epic space opera on our hands that’s worthy of George Lucas’s original vision, before pod-racing and Jar Jar Binks.

Jurassic World 3

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Trailer)

I know a lot of people didn’t like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and I understand why. I also know that, as a long-time fan with rose-tinted glasses fused to my face, I will always find a silver lining in every velociraptor-shaped cloud that floats my way, so I’ll do my best to be objective here.

The Jurassic World movies, though clearly not as expertly-crafted as the original movie, are fun to watch, and have introduced a whole new generation of movie-goers to the classic cloned reptiles. And I think that’s great.

Hopes and fears:

My hope for the final movie in the new trilogy, which hits the big screen in 2021, is that all of the potential that’s been simmering under the surface throughout the first two instalments comes together in the way I’ve always hoped it would. No more weak writing, no more ‘filler’ characters, and no more sauropods left behind on lava-soaked docks as I try not to die inside.

Colin Trevorrow, who did a fine job of resurrecting the series back in 2015, has returned to the director’s chair after being let go by Disney (“creative differences”, and all that jazz), and I think that might be enough to get the trilogy over the line in a satisfactory way – while Fallen Kingdom was often preoccupied with trying to either scare or sadden us, Trevorrow leans more towards giving JP fans what they always wanted to see.

The bottom line

Of the three series in question, Jurassic World 3 has the most potential to crash and burn, which I desperately hope it doesn’t. I think Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars Episode IX are both in great hands and stand a much better chance of delivering, especially since both franchises are guaranteed to carry on beyond 2019 with plenty more Marvel movies in the works and an entirely new Star Wars trilogy reportedly under development.

Fingers crossed for satisfying conclusions featuring copious amounts of Hulk smashing, lightsabre clashing, and T-rex jaws gnashing.

Editorials

2019: The Year for Superhero Horror?

December 28, 2018
Blade Trinity

A great run of films

2018 has been a monster year for superhero films, largely due to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Infinity War & Black Panther being the two highest grossing films in the world this year. With the release of the trailer for Avengers 4: End Game, audience appetite for the Marvel’s franchise shows no signs of slowing down.

Similarly, if you’re a fan of horror films the last few years have been something of a golden age: Get Out, A Quiet Place, IT, Hereditary, Halloween & Mandy are all part of a new generation of horror films that have seen critical success and have spearheaded a revival in the genre. A testament to this is horror films increasing their take at the U.K Box Offices, going from £50.8 Million in 2016 to £66.2 Million in 2017

2017’s Logan has served as the precursor what we could potentially see from grittier-darker toned superhero films. As the appetite for both superhero and horror films show no immediate signs of slowing down, surely it’s only a matter of time until we see these worlds merge, right?

New Mutants Delay

The New Mutants was one of our own selected Must See films of 2018. The X-Men spin-off sees five mutants escaping from a secret facility where they are being held captive. The release of the film was delayed by a year, as a result of reshoots and the Delay of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The reshoots have reportedly allowed director, Josh Boone, to make the film “scarier”, with him even calling the film “a full-fledged horror film“. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the film can reach it’s potential.

The New Mutants (Trailer)

Enter BrightBurn

“What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?” – the synopsis of Brightburn reads like an “evil” Superman and certainly, that’s the direction the first trailer appears to be heading in. The film is directed by David Yarovesky (Guardians of the Galaxy) who has coined the phrase “Superhero Horror”, to describe the merging of the two. Brightburn will be released in May 2019.

Brightburn (Trailer)

History repeats

The idea of a popular superhero-horror franchise on the big screen isn’t exactly new. Marvel first saw success 20 years ago with the release of Blade in 1998, the film followed Blade (played by Wesley Snipes) who stars in the lead role as a vampire killer. Amassing an impressive $130 Million worldwide, a cult following and spawning two more successful sequels, the Blade trilogy has the honour of being Marvel’s first trilogy franchise and first live-action superhero film led by a black actor. Wesley Snipes has spoken openly about bringing Blade to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so perhaps a reboot isn’t too far-fetched.

Blade (1998)

Keeping on the theme of vampires, following the commercial success of the Spider-Man spin-off Venom, Sony has had its eye on the continued expansion of its own Spider-Man Universe (not part of Disney’s MCU) with Morbius, the Living Vampire. The lead antihero, Biochemist, Dr Michael Morbius, will be played by Jared Leto. In the comics, Morbius has pseudo-vampiric superhuman abilities and physical traits stemming from a failed biochemical experiment which was intended to cure his rare blood disorder. Although exact plot details of the feature film aren’t known at this stage, expect to hear more news soon. The film is currently at the pre-production stage, so will likely be released in 2020 at the earliest, however, with the release of edgier comic-book based films beforehand Sony will be keen to build off the momentum of other films.

One reboot which is definitely happening is Hellboy. However, based on the trailer it might not be as dark in tone as the original 2004 feature film starring Ron Perlman. Should the reboot prove successful it should film studios further incentive to work on developing more superhero – horror films.

Who wins?

Ultimately this could be a win-win situation for fans and the film studios. In order to maintain interest in comic book film adaptations in a post-Avengers; End Game world, it makes sense for the major studios to branch out and experiment with the genre to keep fans engaged. Increased attention in comic-book films also allows studios to take more risks in producing more niche titles, which may already have their own cult following among comic-book readers.

Editorials

Marvel vs DC: The Bitter Divide

November 8, 2018

I recently rewatched Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy and I consider this to be the high watermark of superhero films. My opinion is The Dark Knight is the best of the trilogy by a clear margin which I know is hardly controversial. The car chase scene of the Joker trying to get to Harvey Dent might be the best action scene in all of cinema. Batman Begins is the first superhero film where they really explained the origins of a superhero in a satisfying way. The Dark Knight Rises had an almost impossible job following The Dark Knight but is still an amazing film and added Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to a superhero franchise.

The Dark Knight (IMDb)

 

Divided Society

 

This leads me to what may be the most important and bitter divide in society today: Marvel Vs DC. On average Marvel films are better but the high point is Nolan’s work (which technically doesn’t belong to DC’s Extended Universe). It is certainly true that each has their own style. Marvel adopting a more fun and light-hearted take whereas just about every review of DC films uses the words “gritty” and “dark”.

Both have competed in making their own universes – Avengers: Infinity War has around thirty characters that could be called “superheroes” and just trying to keep track of them makes me dizzy. Again, of the two I think Marvel has been more successful in managing their own universe. The DC Justice League films have been widely panned by critics so much so that conspiracy theories exist that critics are all on Disney’s payroll. Rotten Tomatoes critic score for the first Avengers film is 92% compared to Justice League’s dire 40%. Personally, I not a big fan of interconnected universes as I think it becomes very convoluted and the weight of all the characters and storylines is crushing but admittedly seeing all the characters together can be really fun.

 

Successes

 

DC’s big success has been Wonder Woman; a film so good that I put aside my vendetta against Chris Pine. Gal Gadot is sensational as Diana who took one of the least plausible superhero origins and made the film work. Wonder Woman was not just good as a superhero film but dealt with the tragedy of the First World War surprisingly well (even touching on a character dealing with PTSD), the horror of war, even the inevitability of humankind’s own destructive tendencies. These are big things for any film to deal with. Diana’s charge across No Man’s Lead was an unforgettable scene and I cannot praise it enough.

Wonder Woman (IMDb)

Marvel’s high point for me is probably Guardians of the Galaxy Vol I. My knowledge of comic-books is not very deep and I had never heard of this before the film and I remember watching the trailer for the first time thinking “this is going to be a disaster”. It has a talking racoon. And a talking tree. And a professional wrestler playing one of the main parts. I thought not even Chris Pratt’s innate and irresistible likeability could save it. And what happened? Rocket and Groot are amazing characters and despite a limited vocabulary, Groot is surprisingly emotional. Dave Batista, the professional wrestler, was hilarious. I think Guardians of the Galaxy’s strength was in its emotional side, Peter/Star Lord has an amazing journey from scared child to well…a guardian of the galaxy. Perhaps this gives away my age but how can you not be charmed by a film that centres around lovingly put together mixtape?

Guardians of the Galaxy (IMDb)

Failures

 

So, those are the high-points, what are the disasters? Personally, I don’t think Marvel has really made a bad film, not all of them are great but all the ones I’ve seen I’ve enjoyed. The same cannot be said for DC. Man of Steel is that most frustrating of films in that parts of it are great but it ended in the obligatory but increasingly dull city smashing. Batman Vs Superman failed completely despite using whole sections from the fantastic graphic novel and animated film The Dark Knight Returns (which if you want to see a proper fight between Superman and Batman watch this).

But the award surely goes to the Suicide Squad. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was the film’s only redeeming feature but even then DC did not get a good handle on the admittedly very problematic Harley Quinn-Joker relationship. What every superhero film needs is a good villain, it’s perhaps more important than a good hero. I can’t tell you the name of the villain in Suicide Squad or even what they were trying to achieve or what they wanted. Captain America: The First Avenger is one of the poorer Marvel films but I remember Red Skull and what he was trying to do. Why is The Dark Knight so great? A huge part of that is Heath Ledger’s performance.

Suicide Squad (IMDb)

 

So In Conclusion…

 

Overall I think I have divided loyalties between DC and Marvel but I know what both could do better. First, too many films come down to the bad guy wants to destroy the whole world, so obviously they’re bad and anyone fighting them is good. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a great film in part because it was actually about something – order versus freedom, there were discussions about how far you can go to protect people and the bad guys could put their case forward. Secondly, the tone of the film should match the character and not the branding of the whole universe. The TV show Daredevil is one of the very few dark Marvel properties and benefits from that enormously; DC should be able to make fun films and Marvel can make dark films. Marvel next has the very promising looking “dark” and “gritty” Captain Marvel and DC has the very light-hearted Shazam so maybe they have already taken my advice.

Podcast

60 Seconds of Film – 2nd November 2018

November 3, 2018
02-11-2018 - 60 Seconds of Film

Catch up with this week’s 60 Seconds of Film – your bite-sized weekly roundup of film news, presented by Jules Brook.

02/11/2018 – 60 Seconds of Film

Here is this week's 60 Seconds of Film, presented by Jules Brook – your bite-sized weekly roundup of film news.

Gepostet von Big Picture Film Club am Freitag, 2. November 2018

Reviews

Review: Deadpool 2 [Spoiler Free]

October 4, 2018

This week’s review features the red-suited “Merc with a mouth” Deadpool as he embarks on another profanity-ridden adventure across your television screen.

Maximum effort.

Why now?

Deadpool 2 was released on DVD and Blu Ray in the UK towards the end of September.

In a nutshell

Wade Wilson has been fighting crime as the mercenary Deadpool for two years when a personal tragedy (hasn’t he had enough of those?) forces him to team up with some lesser-known members of the X-men to track down and rescue a young mutant barrelling down a dark path towards violence. His quest brings him face-to-face with Cable, a cybernetic super-soldier from the future who’s travelled back in time with some violence of his own on the agenda.

Who’s it for?

Not your granny, that’s for sure – as with its predecessor, Deadpool 2 is chock-full of gory violence, sexual innuendo and naughty words, and as such is R-rated.

Who’s in it?

Ryan Reynolds plays Deadpool in such a way that no-one else ever really could, much like Heath Ledger’s Joker. His charisma and comedic delivery keep the film ticking along at a steady pace as he bounces off every other character on screen (figuratively and often literally). The Deadpool movies wouldn’t be up to much without him playing the titular character.

Supporting Reynolds is Morena Baccarin as Vanessa (in a smaller but possibly more weighty role), the brilliant Josh Brolin (can’t not hear Thanos now, though), Julian Dennison (you’ll see), and a host of others returning to their roles from the previous film. There are a few wonderful cameos throughout as well, but I won’t spoil those for you.

The good stuff

This is another very funny, irreverent superhero film that constantly pokes fun at itself and its genre. If you like Ryan Reynolds and have a fairly good grasp of Marvel, you’ll find this hilarious. It’s also well-directed and has a surprisingly solid storyline.

The not so good stuff

Like the first Deadpool, the film frequently threatens to collapse under the weight of its toilet humour. I found myself wincing at times when yet another barrage of swear words spills out of Deadpool’s mouth when a less-profane line would have done the same job. There could also have been more Cable, but Brolin’s signed on for multiple films so he’ll be back soon enough. It also feels a little too long at almost two hours.

Best quote

Cable: I use a device to slide through time. The longer I travel, the harder it is to control. I got two charges: One to get me here, one to get me home.

Wade Wilson: [looks at the camera] Well, that’s just lazy writing.

The bottom line

If you’re a fan of the first Deadpool movie, you’ll like this one. It’s almost as good, and only falls short because it isn’t (and can’t be) as original as its predecessor. In all honesty, it wouldn’t be one I’d watch again in a hurry, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a solid flick that’s certainly worth a home viewing.

Again, though, just don’t watch it with your granny.

Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Reviews

Review: Avengers: Infinity War

September 14, 2018

Every once in a while, a film’s released that you’ve been waiting on for a long time. Maybe it’s the next Star Wars movie, or another masterpiece by Quentin Tarantino. Or maybe it’s that Fifty Shades of Grey sequel you were dying to see (some judgement here). Whatever it is, seeing it on the big screen is always a fantastic occasion, if you’re a movie buff.

Back in April, my wife and I attended the midnight showing of Avengers: Infinity War (if you haven’t been to the midnight showing of a film you’ve been anticipating for a long time, you don’t know what you’re missing). We both had work the next morning but the opportunity was too good to pass up, and naturally, with a screening packed to the gills with comic book nerds, the atmosphere was electric.

Infinity War is an incredible film by all accounts. It’s the culmination of a rich, intricately-woven narrative that began way back in 2008 with the release of Iron Man and shows no real signs of stopping, although most of the all-star ensemble cast we’ve come to love will step down after Infinity War Part 2 (working title). It’s the nineteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it starts the curtain drop that will reach the stage floor next year with the closing chapter of the story.

We grabbed it on Blu Ray this week (the day it was released, naturally) and enjoyed it again from the comfort of our living room. Less atmospheric, perhaps, but no less thrilling.

The premise

If you don’t have at least some inkling about the premise for Infinity War, where’ve you been for the last decade?!

The titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) has spent quite some time acquiring – or learning the whereabouts of – the Infinity Stones, six gems that existed before the Big Bang which were scattered throughout the universe (conveniently, though, mostly in easily-accessible locations). Combined, these stones grant the owner power over the entire cosmos. Thanos has had a left-handed gauntlet fashioned for himself to make wielding the stones more straightforward, once acquired.

Infinity War kicks off immediately after the events of Thor Ragnarok (a strong contender for the best Marvel movie), with Thanos and his Black Order cronies decimating the remains of the unfortunate Asgardians who escaped their doomed planet. After a brief and concise encounter with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Heimdall (Idris Elba), during which the supervillain acquires the Space stone from the Tesseract, Thanos sends the Black Order to Earth to retrieve the next two sparkly gems (Mind and Time) for his gauntlet while he heads to Knowhere for the Reality stone.

Naturally, the Black Order show up in New York (it’s always New York, isn’t it?) for the Time stone, currently in the protective hands of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who has just bumped into Bruce Banner and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr). Once the fists start flying, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) comes swinging in as Spider-Man to join the fray. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, the Black Order attack Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in an effort to prise the Mind stone from Vision’s forehead, but are thwarted when Steve Rodgers/Captain America (Chris Evans – no, not that one), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) arrive on the scene. Oh, and while all this is going on, Thor has bumped into the Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper).

Yes, that cast is enormous, and I haven’t even mentioned Don Cheadle (War Machine), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier), Benedict Wong (Wong, handily), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Benecio Del Toro (The Collector), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) and, wait for it…Peter Dinklage! There’s more on top of that, but I don’t have enough space in this review for them all.

Thanos’s homicidal quest to balance all life in the universe (by wiping half of it out) brings him into conflict with most of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, either directly (every punch he lands on a good guy will make you flinch) or through his Black Order, who are themselves formidable enemies. The film ends perhaps unexpectedly and will leave you gagging for the final showdown in next year’s sequel.

Worth the wait?

It’s taken a long time to reach this point in the Marvel saga. We’ve seen a multitude of hero origin stories spring to life, love interests come and go (whatever happened to Natalie Portman?), placeholder villains defeated, and the Earth saved dozens of times, all the while building in anticipation towards the introduction of the ultimate comic book monster Thanos. The question is, was it worth the wait?

The answer is, of course, yes.

Josh Brolin’s Thanos is by far the best villain I’ve seen in a comic-based movie since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. He’s menacing and ruthless, yet his intelligent and – dare I say, reasoned – approach to committing mass genocide makes you root for him on some level, which is always the hallmark of a great bad guy. He’s stronger than Hulk, more powerful than Thor, smarter than Stark, and believes just as wholeheartedly in his cause as Captain America. You can’t help but feel all the way through Infinity War like Thanos is genuinely unbeatable, which is how we should feel about this guy who’s been built up for a decade worth of superhero films.

Anthony and Joe Russo have once again knocked it out of the park from their twin directors’ chairs. I’ve loved their style in previous Marvel offerings (Winter Soldier and Civil War) and felt confident that the Infinity War double was in safe hands. Their expert blend of pacing and specific visual approach keeps the film ticking along nicely – it never drags despite its 149-minute runtime and the action is always easy to ingest, no matter how many hundreds of fist-fights are happening simultaneously onscreen.

They’ve also got the best out of their cast, which is no mean feat considering the sheer number of A-list actors in this movie all vying for meaningful screen time. And yet every one of them gets a genuine punch-the-air-type awesome moment (“We have the Hulk…Wakanda forever…bring me Thanos!”) that you’ll be talking about for a while after watching the movie. For me, the best moment of the film was the subtle flicker of confusion on Thanos’s face as a certain all-American hero matched his strength, just for an instant.

The Bottom Line

Infinity War is a dazzling spectacle of thrilling visuals, clashing egos (Star-Lord squaring up to Thor is a wonderful, hilarious moment) and satisfying story-telling. The antagonist is more than a match for the band of heroes we’ve come to love, and it’s all set up perfectly for what will hopefully be a fantastic closing chapter to this epic, ambitious story.

If you haven’t seen the eighteen films that came before, it’s worth watching them first to avoid getting very lost in the narrative – even if you’ve seen them before, you may need a reminder as there’s simply so much going on in this movie. It’ll be worth your time, though.

This is another five-star review (they come like buses, don’t they?) because I just can’t fault this movie for what it is – the complete superhero film we’ve been waiting for. It’s a lot of fun, and well worth grabbing on DVD or Blu Ray this week.

Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)