Tag Archives: Elizabeth Olsen

WandaVision (2021) TV Review

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Wandavision

Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Paul Bettany as Vision
Debra Jo Rupp as Sharon Davis
Fred Melamed as Todd Davis
Kathryn Hahn as Agnes
Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau
Randall Park as Jimmy Woo
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Director: Matt Shakman

Blends the style of classic sitcoms with the MCU, in which Wanda Maximoff (Elizabet Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) – two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives – begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has started introducing their own TV shows exclusive to Disney+. However unlike some of their other shows like Agents of Shield and Agent Carter, they’ll be starring characters from the movies, some of them including The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Loki. The first of these shows to be released was WandaVision, which looked like a sitcom of sorts starring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as Vision. Admittedly I was doubtful about it, I was unsure about the look from the trailers, but it did at least seem to be trying something different from the past entries. Additionally, I still like the MCU even if I wasn’t as into it as I was pre-Endgame, so I knew either way I was going to watch it. Starting the show it actually turned out to be quite good. By the end, there are definitely some problems with it, but there’s enough good stuff here to make it worth watching.

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I’ll do my best to not reveal the plot for people who haven’t seen it. What I can say that the show at first starts off like a sitcom starring Wanda and Vision, like how it was advertised. One of the biggest surprises is that the sitcom stuff is actually good. Even though it does become something else a little later as certain reveals shed light on what is going on, the writing is strong, I could actually watch a full on sitcom with Wanda and Vision. If you watch the very early episodes and aren’t satisfied that you don’t know a semblance of what’s really going on and that’s becoming a problem for you, I recommend getting to episode 4. At that point it starts to really have a large explanation for what’s happening. I guess it was rather inevitable that it would get to that point, though it was starting to move away from what I liked early in the show. Nonetheless, I liked the approach and focus on the characters of Wanda and Vision throughout the whole show (particularly Wanda). The overall conclusion of the show is pretty much a standard MCU climax that you would expect from the movies. It doesn’t particularly do anything terrible but it’s a little disappointing as it finishes a little predictably and typically. I guess it was a fitting enough end to the story, if a bit predictable. None of my issues came because popular fan theories didn’t happen or that there weren’t lots of cameos (that disappointed some). With that said, there is a reveal earlier in the show which builds to literally nothing by the end of the season, and made it feel pointless. If you watch the show you’ll know what I’m talking about, I wasn’t a fan of that. In terms of other faults I have, each episode have credits that are like 7 minutes long, they were like movie credits length And because of the short length of most of the episodes, the end credits can sometimes be like a third of the runtime. Given the lengths of the episodes, the show seemed bingeable but it was released weekly so that was a bit of a problem. So the show cut to end credits popping up with “standing by” on the screen, it always gave a very frustrating feeling, with the length of the episode being even shorter than we thought it would be. Something that was frustrating was the sudden addition of mid/end credits scenes in roughly the last few episodes of the show. To suddenly to start with them in the later episodes is jarring and also annoying given that those scenes are actually important. In fact I try to imagine someone watching the show without watching the those credits scenes, and I’d imagine that I’d be out of the loop. I know that MCU is known for credits scenes but they could’ve handled it better in the show. I actually had to go back to the finale episode because it turns out that there wasn’t just a mid credits sequence (which I saw), but there was an end credits scene which I completely missed. These two annoyances aren’t show-breaking but they were some frustrations that stood out for me.

WANDAVISION

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are the leads and they are great in their parts. Wanda and Vision are characters that could’ve been handled better and better utilised in the movies, and WandaVision gives them the chance to really meet their fullest potentials, diving into their characters, and giving them strong moments. From comedy to drama, the two of them pull it off really well. The early episodes of the show are particularly the most fun I’ve seen Paul Bettany having in a movie. However this is definitely Elizabeth Olsen’s show, she really gets to shine here. With this and her soon to be appearance to Doctor Strange sequel, it shows that Wanda is going to have a more present role in the MCU. There is also a solid supporting cast as well. It includes Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau (playing the grown up daughter of Maria Rambeau from Captain Marvel), Randall Park returning as Jimmy Woo from Ant Man and the Wasp, as well as Kat Dennings returning as Darcy from the Thor movies, the three of them were good in their parts. There’s also a standout performance from Kathryn Hahn as a nosy neighbour to Wanda and Vision, who also steals pretty much every scene she’s in.

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All episodes of this show are directed by Matt Shakman, and he’s done a good job with it. I particularly liked the sitcom stuff and how it mimics some of the major sitcoms from each decade it explores, starting with the 50s and gradually making its way to the 2010s. This includes the use of black and white, aspect ratio changes, music and laugh tracks. Even the effects to show the powers of the leads are handled well in those older sitcom sequences. I also liked the more odd moments where you can tell that something is off, and cracks start appearing in the world that Wanda and Vision are currently in. It effectively gives an unnerving feeling, that’s unfortunately only in like the first half of the season. The visual effects are pretty good and are mostly on the level of the MCU movies. With that said, some of the visual effects in the last episode with the climax don’t look that great. However MCU movies effects are generally pretty decent, so as it’s a tv show it’s a little worse.

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WandaVision is a pretty good mini series, adding some unique aspects not really seen in the franchise beforehand, and I liked the performances of Olsen and Bettany and the handling of their characters. If you’re a fan of the MCU and haven’t watched it yet I do recommend it, the short length of the episodes makes it easy to speed through now. Even if it does fall back on familiar MCU territory as it goes on, it’s good to see it at least attempt different things. I am curious to see where the MCU goes next.

Godzilla (2014) Review

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford Brody
Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishirō Serizawa
Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody
Elizabeth Olsen as Elle Brody
Juliette Binoche as Sandra Brody
Sally Hawkins as Dr. Vivienne Graham
David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz
Director: Gareth Edwards

When mankind found an ancient spore, they began to preserved until nearly 15 years, it hatches. Now with malevolent terrestrial organisms threatening the existence of man kind, an ancient creature from the depts of the ocean, will rise again to fulfill natures order to restore its balance, while also making sure mankind never makes the same mistakes again.

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I remember watching Godzilla back in 2014 and really liking it, it was the first Godzilla movie I watched (and to this date is currently the only one I’ve seen). With the sequel, King of the Monsters coming very soon, I just knew that I had to go back and give it another look, and I’m glad to say that it still works really well.

One of the main criticisms was that for a movie named Godzilla, he doesn’t appear a huge amount. I don’t personally have that problem, I feel like some parts of the human aspect could’ve been a little stronger, but you don’t exactly want to be all out with Godzilla very early on, especially considering how he plays such a large part in the climax. They take time building up to him, teasing you with brief shots of him. Maybe they are a little forceful with how much they hid him, just as he appears they cut away and then there are news people talking about it or you suddenly see the aftermath, so I can’t entirely blame people for feeling slightly cheated in how they handle some of his early scenes. On the whole though, the slow build up to Godzilla never really bothered me. The human side of the movie wasn’t bad and was fine, however it felt like it could’ve been stronger. You don’t really have an emotional connection to what’s going on or the characters (except for Bryan Cranston, and even then it’s because he played the role so well). The movie is 2 hours long and that was a fitting length for it, every scene feels necessary and furthers the plot and the pacing is pretty hood. Even some of the more familiar scenes such as the exposition scenes (mainly explaining Godzilla) and military people talking about important things are handled in such a way and given such weight that you don’t really mind it, they actually legitimately work. And it all culminates in a big monster showdown of a climax and is just glorious to watch.

The human characters aren’t that good but the cast play them as good as they can. The actor who steals the show is Bryan Cranston, he adds so much to this movie. He puts so much into his performance and elevates things (including the whole movie) to a whole new level. Unfortunately, he’s not on screen as much as you think he would, despite the trailers featuring him heavily. I don’t like to be all “the movie would’ve been better if…” but honestly the movie would’ve been stronger if Cranston was at least one of the leads throughout the movie. In the end the human lead character is really Aaron Taylor Johnson, who’s unfortunately not that good here. He’s not a bad actor, he can actually be great (as evidence by his performances in films like Nocturnal Animals and Outlaw King) but for whatever reason, he’s not strong as a lead here and largely falls flat, even though he wasn’t necessarily terrible. The rest of the cast consisting of the likes of Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Elizabeth Olsen and Juliette Binoche were pretty good and played their roles as best as they possible could.

The direction by Gareth Edwards was great and was a large part of why this movie works as well as it does. Something that he proved with this and Rogue One is that he’s great at making things feel on such a large scale. The monsters were really good and were designed really well, they really felt like large titans with great power. And of course there’s Godzilla, it takes a while before you get to see him in his full glory, but it’s well worth the wait. The visual effects were also really great, same with the action, the destruction is among the best when it comes to recent blockbusters. There are some moments that are just stunning. One of the standouts was a HALO jump scene and it is great, the music, the look of everything, the POV shots, it just looked like a real jump into hell, and is by far one of the highlight moments of the film. The final action set piece is reason enough to see this movie, with Godzilla and the rest of the monsters going at it. The score by Alexandre Desplat was also quite good and really added a lot to the movie.

Godzilla 2014 doesn’t quite get the love that it deserves, it’s got some minor problems but it’s not enough to take away from how strong this movie is on the whole. Gareth Edwards has really made Godzilla into a large scale and entertaining blockbuster, and was just really handled well overall. I’m definitely on board for whatever the sequel is bringing us.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Retrospective Review

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow/Crossbones
William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.

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Captain America: Civil War was a movie I was meaning to re-watch for some time now. Every time I thought about Civil War, I just got this incredibly underwhelmed feeling. I didn’t dislike it but after greatly anticipating it, I was relatively disappointed by it. Now that it’s been years and I decided to give it a rewatch in the lead up to Endgame, I was hoping for a turnaround on it like what happened with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. While I definitely do like the movie more than when I last watched it, I still have some issues with it, and it’s a real shame because there are a lot of parts about the movie which are legitimately great.

As this is a retrospective review, this will be spoiler filled, it’s the only way I can talk in depth about what I think about the movie. Generally, at around 2 hours and a half the movie is paced pretty well all things considering, and I was surprised that most of the humour didn’t detract from the more dramatic moments. The highest praise that I can give in terms of plot is the third act, which is largely done well. None of the ‘twists’ really hit hard at all for me but I really liked certain reveals, such as the subversion of the randomly introduced extra Winter Soldiers as just red herrings. You really feel the emotion with every character, Rogers, Stark, Barnes, T’Challa and even Zemo, and it was all handled very well. There are a lot of great parts to Civil War as well, however they also don’t handle it in the best way and so it detracts from the movie. For example, while I liked the idea of the Sokovia Accords, the introduction of them in the movie was pretty messy. One explosion during a mission by the Avengers is what sets off the creation of the Accords, which is something I really don’t get. There’s even a bit where during a meeting, General Ross showed a montage to the Avengers of the amount of destruction that the past films have caused, considerably higher casualties and damage, however this one relatively smaller even is what got the world thinking “these guys need some oversight”. It wouldn’t be so bad if almost all of the MCU movies didn’t have some large destruction during it and most people just brushing it aside easily. Age of Ultron was the most destructive, so it was the perfect Segway into Civil War. I’m not quite sure why they didn’t directly link it with the Sokovia events (you’d think they would given the title of the Accords), after all it’s what led Tony Stark and Zemo to make their decisions over the course of the movie. With all that being said, I do like the debates about the Accords with all the characters, and they do make some interesting points. I do like how they managed to make the change from ‘superhero registration’ to ‘Avengers Oversight’, the superhero registration thing definitely wouldn’t work in the MCU, even the large amount of characters that exist in it would be too small for an event of that size.

The problem is that despite all this, this still ends up being a movie about Bucky. Both of the major ‘versus’ battles, the Airport scene and the Cap, Iron Man and Bucky fight at the end, are all surrounding Bucky. While people are split into ‘teams’ because of the Sovokia Accords, they aren’t battling because of their positions on it, that’s just a background event that coincidentally splits them on the sides fighting during the airport scene. It feels like there was no point in having it in the story, even without the Sokovia Accords, the idea of Bucky Barnes being framed and on the run with Cap trying to protect him would’ve worked well (on a side note though, wasn’t that invested in the Bucky Barnes story in this movie either). I’m not making this a MCU vs DCEU thing, but it’s worth pointing out that once WB announced that they would be making Batman v Superman, Marvel gave the Russo Brothers the go to do Civil War. I don’t know for certain what their plans for the third Captain America movie were beforehand but I’m guessing it would’ve been more consistent than what we got at least. As for the impact of the Sokovia Accords on the other movies, I guess it’s mentioned briefly like in Ant Man and the Wasp and maybe some of the other movies, but all in all really didn’t have too much impact on the other characters and movies that much. The reason I’m mentioning this is because I’m wondering how much impact Civil War really had on the MCU, and it doesn’t seem to have much, there really weren’t many consequences, any problem that was raised, many of the characters seemed to bounce back from pretty easily. Even when Rhodes crash landed at the end of the airport battle and needed exo-sketal leg braces to walk again, in Infinity War he’s back flying and fighting in the suit like nothing ever happened. The only thing that was really impacted was the relationship between Steve and Tony, which was fractured during the last act of the movie. The thing is that at the end it almost feels like they resolved it and that they regret fighting each other at the end, and they aren’t at odds with each other anymore, as evidence by that message from Cap at the end and Tony’s lllleaction to it, so even then it doesn’t feel significantly damaged. Not to mention by the time the events from Endgame come around, what happened between them in Civil War will be relatively unimportant in Endgame considering The Snap and the aftermath. That last bit however is just speculation, maybe Endgame addresses those events (I hope so at least).

The cast generally do a good job in their roles. Chris Evans once again does a commendable job playing Captain America, though I can’t help but feel like he was robbed of a proper conclusion to his trilogy. While The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier were definitely Captain America movies, Civil War doesn’t feel like that, even if he definitely is the main character of it. His story arc was relatively weaker as well and he didn’t seem to go through as much in comparison. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Don Cheadle as War Machine and the rest of the Avengers cast that appear here do well once again. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Paul Rudd Ant Man feel shoe horned into the movie just for the airport scene (even if both actors played their roles as best as they could), but at least Hawkeye has a reason for being there, with him repaying a favour to Scarlet Witch after the events of Age of Ultron. Ant Man was just sort of put there in the scene with really no motivation behind his actions. When I first watched Civil War, I was very mixed about Tom Holland as Spider-Man, he just felt so out of place. Now after watching Homecoming I’m much more into his version of Spider-Man and so he came across better here, however like Ant Man, still feels a little forced into this movie just for an action scene. I think the part that annoys me so much about his appearance in the airport scene is because he’s only there because Tony Stark wanted another person to help him stop Cap, if he at least knew what was going on and why everything was happening, it would’ve been a lot more tolerable. Let’s just say that I liked him a lot better in his Peter Parker scenes, based off those scenes along he’s a perfect Peter Parker. Robert Downey Jr. gives one of his best performances as Iron Man, even if his sudden change in character was a little shaky. For whatever reason I guess he never realised that people died in Sokovia and it took Alfre Woodward’s character to confront him about her dead son to actually realise it. With that being said, Downey is fantastic in the role as usual and was one of the highlights from the movie. Chadwick Boseman made his strong debut as Black Panther here, and it was actually a great storyline for him, with him starting out wanting revenge for the death of his father and when he does find the man responsible, he chooses to stop him from killing himself. It’s by far the best character arc/story in the movie, as well as the best character in the whole movie. Daniel Bruhl is the main villain Zemo and a lot of people have questioned whether we even needed a villain for the movie, given that it’s mainly Cap vs Iron Man, while I get that perspective, he set the events of the movie into motion and I was fine with him. It’s a very different kind of antagonist compared to the other villains, with almost all of them being super powered beings, and if not that they’d have powerful suits or something. He’s much more of a human based villain, very intelligent and making well laid plans and successfully breaking The Avengers apart (sort of). Also he’s driven by revenge, and it’s a revenge story you can really buy. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot to him outside of that, however Bruhl did such a good job at playing him that I’d be open to seeing him again in another movie (even if I don’t think there’s much more you could really do with him).

Most of the Russo Brothers’ direction is pretty good here. The action scenes are mostly good and I appreciated it a lot more than the last time I saw them. The opening action scene in Lagos was better than I remember it being, it is a little too shaky but still good. There’s the Bucky chase scene with him, Captain America and Black Panther, also very good. Most of the other action scenes were also well done. The final fight is one of the highlight action scenes from the MCU, you really feel the weight of every blow and it was all handled very well. The cinematography is not as grey as a lot of people have said it was, it’s actually pretty good for the most part. The score by Henry Jackman is also much better than I remembered it being, with most of the themes being quite memorable, even if some of his other scores are a little better.

The one scene you’ve probably noticed I left off mentioning was the Airport Scene, it’s so far removed from the rest of the movie and I have so much to say about that I had to dedicate an entire paragraph talking about it. Generally, it is widely known as one of the best scenes in Civil War and one of the best scenes of the MCU. Many people have described the scene as the cinematic version of smashing action figures together, and I can’t think of a more apt description, though you can probably tell where I’m going with this that I mean it in a bad way. It honestly brought down the movie for me, it doesn’t feel like it belongs in the movie at all. The tone is completely different, even if the some of the other action scenes have some humour, it still managed to maintain a sense of tension and weight throughout, just like what the Russo Brothers did with The Winter Soldier. This scene on the other hand was like cheesy ‘fun’ comic book mayhem that doesn’t particularly progress the story like the other action scenes did. Really everyone is pulling their punches too (except for Black Panther of course, who’s trying to kill Bucky), so you feel no tension whatsoever. Even on a technical level it’s a bit of a downgrade from the rest of the movies. As I said earlier, most of the movie isn’t that grey but this particular scene definitely is, it’s not visually appealing to look at, even with all the battles that are going on. Most of the CGI in the movie is actually pretty good but in that scene, it is hit or miss, whether it be the green screen backgrounds, Giant Man or even the effects on Iron Man and War Machine. The best part about the scene I guess is that it does show off everyone’s abilities well, particularly Scarlet Witch and even War Machine gets to show off more than in previous film appearances. Despite its issues, on its own the scene isn’t terrible, and it would’ve fitted in a much more lighthearted movie, like the first Avengers. In Civil War however, it doesn’t belong there at all and the movie would’ve been better if it didn’t have it.

What gets me about Captain America Civil War is that there are some legitimately great parts to it. Even if you remove the frustrating Airport scene, it’s got some issues in its story which keeps the movie back from how it could’ve been. It’s not bad by any means, it’s decent, just unfortunately with a lot of problems. With talk about how Endgame makes the previous MCU movies even better in hindsight, I really hope that it’ll retroactively improve Civil War too.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Time: 149 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/White Wolf
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Peter Dinklage as Eitri the Dwarf King
Benedict Wong as Wong
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Vin Diesel as Groot
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan/The Collector
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin). On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

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Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t just one of the most anticipated films of 2018, it’s also one of the most anticipated films ever. I’ll admit that in the lead up to the release of this film, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, the Russo Brothers directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of the best films in the MCU. On the other hand, they also directed Captain America Civil War, and while it was decent it was rather underwhelming compared to what it could have been, and felt a bit disappointing. Even without taking into account their previous movie, there was still a lot they had to achieve: they have to handle so many characters, and this is the culmination of about a decade’s worth of films building up to it. It is easy for Infinity War to end up being a disappointment. So I went in with my expectations in check, expecting a decent and entertaining movie. However, Infinity War truly blew me away, The Russo Brothers have truly achieved something amazing here.

I need to preface that although there is a lot of things I want to say, there’s a lot about this movie that I can’t say. So I will do my best to avoid spoilers. First thing that is worth noting is that unless you are heavily into the MCU movies, you probably won’t enjoy this as much as other people. Not just because of the amount of backstory in the other movies, but also because of the characters and build up, it might not feel as impactful. As a fan of the MCU and someone who likes all of the movies, I was thoroughly satisfied with the story here. All the moments that were meant to be impactful, really was impactful. I wasn’t spoiled at all before watching Infinity War and there were a lot of surprises, I won’t reveal any of them here because they really were effective. This movie does jump around with places and characters and with that the tonal and style shift is very apparent and it actually works. When it jumps from Thor or any of the other Avengers characters to the Guardians of the Galaxy, it really feels like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.Infinity War is around 2 hours and 30 minutes long, making it Marvel’s longest movie. The pacing was done very well, I never got bored once. It was actually hard to get bored because there was so much happening, so much to take in. Most of the characters get to do something but some get more focus and attention than others. While this means a lot of characters not getting as much development despite the long running time, that is of no fault to the Russos, it’s a very difficult task to balance out all these characters, and what they have done here is truly commendable.

There is something I know that will concern some and that is the use of humour here. The MCU has recently been having a lot of humour, and sometimes that humour kind of diffuses some of the drama, and for Infinity War, it seemed like it would negatively affect a lot of the emotional moments. There is a lot of comedy here, and it really does work, it worked for me at least. If you’re worried about the humour ruining some of the drama or not, don’t worry, it doesn’t. During the truly impactful moments, no humour is playing during that scene. Besides, the tonal shifts, the jumping from different places is jarring already so it wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Speaking of impactful moments, there are a lot of them here, some of the most memorable in the entire MCU. I’ll just say that if you were disappointed by the lack of things happening in Civil War, you will be pleased by what happens here. And the ending…. I’m not even sure I can describe it. All I will say is that it is a very bold decision and I applaud the Russos for going in this direction. Now make no mistake, this movie isn’t called Infinity War Part 1, but it is a part 1 of 2 movies. Some of this movie’s quality and ambitious quality could change depending on the decisions made in part 2. On a side note, there is one (not two) end credits scene, I won’t say what it’s about but it does get me really hyped. It also (unlike some other MCU films) really feels like it belongs after the credits as a teaser instead of being easily insertable into the end of the actual film.

The cast to Infinity War is absolutely massive, I could probably take up a whole paragraph just listing the entire cast list and who they play. One thing that The Russo Brothers had said was that Thanos, the big villain of Infinity War, was the main character of Infinity War and I didn’t really believe it. I have to say that they were completely right, he has the most screentime of all the characters and the entire film is surrounding him. Thanos has been built up for 6 years, ever since The Avengers in 2012, he seemed like he wouldn’t live up to all the hype that has been built all around him. However he absolutely delivers. Josh Brolin delivers an incredible motion capture performance (the motion capture on him is amazing, more on that later) and really makes this character work. Something I wasn’t expecting from him is that they don’t treat him like a villain, he has reasons for doing what he does. From what I heard his motives differ from the comics but it worked in this movie at least. Thanos not only might just be the best villain in the MCU, but he’s also one of the best comic book movie villains. Threatening, powerful, interesting to watch and surprisingly full of depth, Thanos more than lives up to the hype. All the other actors do quite great in their roles. Most of the other main characters get to have at least one moment to shine. However, some characters are more utilised than others. It’s quite possible that the characters that you expect or want to have a lot of screentime or things to do doesn’t really end up doing that a lot. Stand outs include Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and Zoe Saldana as Gamora.

The action sequences are really great, Infinity War has some of the best action sequences of the entire MCU. In the Captain America movies, the Russo Brothers’ often used some jump cuts in their action scenes, and while most of them worked well, it was a little too much. That was cut down a little bit in Infinity War, there’s still a little cutting in the fight scenes but the jump cutting was lessened. Most of the special effects looked good. There are occasionally parts that didn’t look so great, one of the big large action sequences in the third act had some minor CGI issues (mostly in the background), and certain things like occasionally Iron Man’s suit look a little fakish. One impressive CGI aspect however is the motion capture work on Josh Brolin to create Thanos, motion captured and CGI comic book villains are rather common nowadays but the effects here make him among the best, every expression on Brolin’s face is translated by the motion capture, it really enhanced his performance.

Avengers: Infinity War was more than a good movie, it was a great movie. I don’t know where I would rank it among the MCU, but I can say with certainty that it’s top tier Marvel, top 3 at least. I will need to rewatch it so I can be absolutely sure about my thoughts because there is a lot to take in (plus, the quality of this movie will depend on how part 2 fares). What I can say is that it’s entertaining, funny, impactful, shocking and ambitious, and I was more than satisfied with what I got. Stay away from all spoilers, there are so many surprises that you don’t want to have ruined for you. I can’t wait till Avengers 4.

Wind River (2017) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, sexual violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast
Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert
Elizabeth Olsen as Jane Banner
Gil Birmingham as Martin Hanson
Jon Bernthal as Matt Rayburn
Julia Jones as Wilma Lambert
Kelsey Chow as Natalie Hanson
Graham Greene as Ben
Director: Taylor Sheridan

Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is a wildlife officer who finds the body of an 18-year-old woman on an American Indian reservation in snowy Wyoming. When the autopsy reveals that she was raped, FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) arrives to investigate. Teaming up with Lambert as a guide, the duo soon find that their lives are in danger while trying to solve the mystery of the teen’s death.

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I only heard about Wind River recently, and seeing the cast involved with Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, along with this being writer Taylor Sheridan’s directional debut, immediately had me interested. All that potential payed off in the end, with a great script, filled with fantastic performances and a solid direction, Wind River is a fantastic thriller and one of the best films of the year.

Wind River’s writer/director Taylor Sheridan has written some movies such as Sicario and Hell or High Water, both are really great films and some of the best films of their respective years. Once again he has written a fantastic script that captivates you from beginning to end. The movie is shorter than most thrillers, at around 1 hour 50 minutes long but it worked well for the movie overall. The first act is a little slow but aside from that the pacing was great, it never felt rushed but it never dragged either, by the second act I was fully into the plot. The characters and the dialogue like in Sicario and Hell or High Water are so brilliantly written with detail. I can’t say that Wind River is particularly unique from all the other great thrillers that out there but I can’t really pinpoint any flaws either, from start to finish I was riveted by the story which was crafted so well by Sheridan. He delivers once again in writing a compelling story.

The acting was also a highlight of Wind River. This is probably the best performance I’ve seen from Jeremy Renner. He plays a character who is dealing with a tragedy. His performance is very subtle and was perfect for his character. Elizabeth Olsen also gives one of the best performances I’ve seen from her, as an FBI agent who really isn’t fully prepared for the job that she decides to take on. One stand out supporting actor was Gil Birmingham as the father of the victim, he’s not in the movie a lot but he did a great job in his scenes. The supporting actors in general are quite good but its Renner and Olsen who give the best performances.

This movie as I mentioned is Taylor Sheridan’s directional debut and he really does a great job. His direction really does a great job immersing you in this cold and isolated environment, it does well and making you feel uncomfortable in many of the scenes. Wind River is a more of a slow building mystery than a non stop thriller, but when the scenes are meant to feel tense, it really does feel very tense. The direction isn’t flashy and it does well to serve the story and allow the actors to do well with the script.

Wind River is yet another solid film from Taylor Sheridan and is also one of the best films of the year. Great performances, fantastic writing and directing, this movie has it all. I’m not sure how this movie would compare to Sicario and Hell or High Water, I might consider those films as being better but on its own, it’s a pretty great thriller. Taylor Sheridan is a massive talent that should be watched closely, whether that be for writing or for directing. Definitely see Wind River whenever you can, it’s one of the best of the year.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Review

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Captain America Civil War

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow/Crossbones
William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.

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Captain America: Civil War was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is my favourite movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the directors of that movie, the Russo Brothers, are returning for this film. Not only that but it featured most of the Avengers. Ever since its’ release, Civil War has been met with critical acclaim. After seeing this movie, I can say that it is good, it does have a lot of great aspects from the excellent acting, entertaining action scenes and many moments of the story making a big impact. Overall I think that if you liked the other films in the series, you should definitely check Civil War out. But there are a lot of aspects that could’ve been improved that would’ve made the film significantly better.

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In terms of the pacing, the first act was quite slow as it set up the story, by the second act though it picks up, however I will say the film definitely does feel its length of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Even though I would’ve preferred the overall story go in a different direction (which I’ll talk about later), I thought that the final act was done quite well, it actually goes quite dark, much darker than I’d expect it to be. One thing that was quite unfortunate was that most of the story was quite predictable. For example, there is a revelation in the final act that was supposed to be significant, however I could see it coming within the first few scenes of the movie. However the story was still decent enough and kept me interested throughout the movie. Another thing I should mention is the humour. Some of the humour worked quite well and was entertaining, other times it didn’t, sometimes the jokes didn’t hit, sometimes there were too many jokes and sometimes the jokes even interrupted actually emotional scenes. This was quite unfortunate as these moments could’ve been much better without the poorly placed humour.

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There is an issue I have to mention. One of the main selling points of this movie is that it will have the Avengers fight against each other. I should warn you, don’t go into this movie expecting the Civil War storyline just slightly changed. In the first act the Sovakia Accords (the agreement for government oversight over the Avengers) does play a part and the film does well at illustrating both sides. Even though coming into this movie I was on Steve’s side, there were some points made by Tony which were quite valid. However by the 2nd act the film almost ditches that plotline and the mains source of conflict between Steve and Tony are no longer related to the Accords, it’s related to Bucky. So it almost feels pointless calling the movie Civil War other than the fact that it gives an excuse for most of the characters to return and to draw attention to it because it’s the name of a significant Marvel storyline. It would’ve been a lot more ambitious to stick with this setup and have them fight each other because of their ideological differences. Another result of the need to make the Avengers fight each other is that some of the characters don’t really play a significant part of the story. Some of the characters like Hawkeye and Ant Man are in this movie simply for the airport scene and they seem to feel quite out of place, but they are still good in the couple scenes they’re in. As I said earlier though, the plot is done reasonably well, it’s just that I think that it would’ve been better in taking it in a different direction.

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War L to R: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2016

Almost all the Avengers return and they are great, it’s surprising that most of them have their own mini arcs in the movie. There are a few notable stand outs. The first is Tom Holland as Spiderman. It is way too early to tell whether he’s the best Spiderman as we haven’t seen him in his own movie, but I can at least say that he is a good Spiderman (CHECK BOTTOM OF REVIEW FOR UPDATED THOUGHTS). Another standout was Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. One of the best parts of the movie is that it set up his character quite well, he was one of the most interesting characters in the story. He’s actually one of my favourite Avengers now and I can’t wait to see him in his own movie in 2018. Now there is one performance which I think isn’t getting enough attention and that is Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, who steals this entire movie. The few moments in Civil War where I felt emotionally impacted by a scene featured Downey Jr, and it was him who made the scene significantly better. I know that he has a reputation of just playing himself in this role, but here he proves how great of an actor he is and how well cast he was. This is the best performance I’ve seen from him since Iron Man. Now there’s one character that’s going to divide people and that is Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) who is the main villain. On one hand he’s not the most memorable villain and he’s absolutely nothing like the character in the comics, but on the other he is written quite well, with actual reasons behind his actions. He could’ve been made better by not having him in the movie (since there doesn’t really need to be a villain for Civil War) or by having him in more scenes and making him more memorable. But either way, he’s still one of the better Marvel villains, though that’s not saying a lot.

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The action for the most part is good. The first scene has a lot of unnecessary shaky cam which made the action hard to comprehend but the rest of the action is pretty steady and easy to be entertained by. The airport scene, which has been hyped up quite a bit is decent enough and showcased all the Avengers’ abilities and skills greatly, Ant Man for me stole that entire scene. I’d be lying though if I didn’t say I wasn’t underwhelmed after all the hype. There were a couple of problems I had however, first is that there were far too many jokes that felt like an overload, especially when it came to Spiderman. It did feel really odd for the Avengers to be cracking jokes while beating up their former friends, in fact they didn’t seem that concerned that they are now divided and fighting each other. Another complaint is some of the CGI, it works quite well in most of the film but there are a couple moments of bad CGI, both of which were in the airport scene. One is Spiderman, although his action was good the CGI on him looks incredibly fake. The other is, where I swear the filmmakers photoshopped Downey’s face onto an Iron Man suit, but those are really the only times that the CGI was fake. The best action scene however for me is the final fight in the last act. As I said the final act goes quite dark, but the fight scene is a lot more dirty and rough than you’d expect, the direction of that scene is the direction I wanted the airport scene to go in.

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Despite many of my problems with it, Captain America: Civil War is still one of the better Marvel movies. It has great action scenes, very good performances and some ambitious ideas, some of which I never expected at all to come from this movie. It’s just some of the aspects of the plot that weigh down the film. It felt like it could’ve gone further than it did, some of the humour didn’t land and the direction of the plot could’ve been handled a lot better. I have a feeling that a lot of that is due to the fact that the Russos’ had so much that they had to handle, that not everything integrated perfectly. I do think however that this movie is worth watching, I just don’t think it’s as flawless as some are making it out to be.

UPDATED THOUGHTS ON SPIDERMAN

My thoughts on Civil War are pretty much the same as in this review. However something that had changed was my thoughts on Spiderman.

After watching Civil War I didn’t really know what to think of Holland’s Spiderman, I had mixed feelings. I ended up just saying that I liked him in the review (as I wanted to get the review up as soon as possible), which was a bad idea. I felt like I should’ve waited to collect my thoughts before posting the review. So months later, here are my current thoughts on him:

I loved Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, I have only seen one scene of him but out of all the Peter Parkers, he’s my favourite. That’s absolutely impressive. I did not expect that.

As for his Spiderman… I have mixed feelings. He was honestly quite annoying to me, and not in a good way. There wasn’t really any moment in the Airport scene (the only scene in Civil War where you see Spiderman) which made me like him, not one joke that worked. However I don’t think it was the way that Holland played him, Spiderman just wasn’t used well in the scene or the movie for that matter. He feels completely forced in and wasn’t given much depth. He didn’t even work on an entertaining level.

Now I will say that Holland will have a lot more to work with when his solo movie comes around. I felt like if Spiderman was integrated throughout Civil War and had his own arc like Black Panther, I might’ve liked him. The best thing I can say about him in Civil War is that Holland shows potential. He definitely has the potential to be the best live action Spiderman. But we’ll just have to see.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Review

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The Avengers Age of Ultron

Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Evans as Steve Rodgers/Captain America
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch
Paul Bettany as Jarvis/Vision
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/The Falcon
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig
James Spader as Ultron
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Director: Joss Whedon

When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron (James Spader) emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for a global adventure.

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Avengers 2 was one of my most anticipated films of 2015, the first Avengers is one of the best superhero movies and did the impossible, combine many superheroes together in one movie and somehow made it work. Making a follow up to one of the most successful comic book movies is no easy task. Fortunately, this film manages to easily surpass that, I’d even say that I liked it slightly more than the first one. If you liked the first Avengers, you’re definitely going to enjoy this.

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The plot is well planned out and is entertaining all the way through. Although the plot is darker than the first movie, it still has the humour present in the first Avengers to lighten the mood. A lot of that has to do with the dialogue and the interactions between the characters which have some of the funniest moments. One thing that worked in the favour of this movie over the previous film is that the world and the characters are much more developed. I was hoping for some more Captain America: Civil War links but there were definitely some events here which will probably tie into that film. One thing left to mention is that there is one mid-credits scene, so you don’t need to stay to the end of the credits. It is quite exciting and although it’s not relating to Captain America 3, it’s making me even more excited in how the plotline will pay off in the future.

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As usual, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner continue to be great in their roles and as I said before, they are developed even more. One standout is Hawkeye, in the previous films he hadn’t really had much development but he makes up for it here and is now at the level of depth of the other Avengers. The new actors also do pretty well in their roles. Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen hold their own against the other avengers. James Spader gives a menacing and entertaining villain performance as Ultron. Some people complain about the Marvel villains and how most of them aren’t that strong, save for a couple like Loki and The Winter Soldier. I can tell you that Ultron is one of the best that this universe has had so far. Without spoiling too much, Paul Bettany gets to play a bigger role than in the previous movies, he’s great and I’m excited to see what part he plays in future Marvel films.

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The action scenes as usual are done very well, they up the stakes especially in the last act, making it bigger even than the battle of New York in the previous movie. My favourite action scenes were the Hulkbuster vs Hulk scene as well as the final battle, I’d even say that they are some of my favourite action scenes of the year so far.

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Since Iron Man, Marvel movies have never disappointed me. I even enjoyed some of the lesser films they released (Iron Man 2). If this year’s Ant Man impresses me, I’ll pretty much be 100% confident that every Marvel movie will be awesome. I’ve heard that this will be the last Marvel movie that Joss Whedon will be involved in, and all I can say is that this was a great film to leave on.