Tag Archives: Scarlett Johansson

Black Widow (2021) Review

BLACK WIDOW

Black Widow

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova
David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian
O-T Fagbenle as Rick Mason
William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross
Ray Winstone as General Dreykov
Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff/Black Widow
Director: Cate Shortland

Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy, and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

After playing a large role in many entries in the MCU, the character of Black Widow is finally getting her solo film… and it only took 11 years after her first appearance back in 2010 with Iron Man 2. I will admit that I wasn’t the most excited for the film, of course for the fact that it feels a little late given how long she’s been around and hasn’t received a movie of her own. Then of course there’s the fact that the character died during Avengers Endgame, and so having a film take place earlier on in the timeline feels almost a bit in vain and pointless. In the lead up to Black Widow however, I was sort of looking forward to it. This is partly because of being back to see more movies in the cinema but also probably because it was originally meant to come out a while ago, so I’m just glad for it to be finally here. Black Widow was about as good as I expected it to be, with some of the unfortunate problems that I expected it to have, but also surprising in other areas. Overall I enjoyed it.

black-widow-marvel-cinematic-universe-future

Plotwise, the movie isn’t anything special, but I was interested to see how it played out. For what it is worth, Black Widow does feel a bit different in terms of the MCU movies. It is something of a spy and espionage movie, and does have some Captain America: The Winter Soldier vibes, which is good as it was one of my favourite movies in the MCU. Of course with this being Black Widow’s solo film, this allows us to learn about her past. The movie introduces us to Natasha Romanoff’s “family” in the characters played by Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour. This adds a backstory to Natasha’s life before SHIELD showing a side of her we hadn’t seen before. With that comes themes about dysfunctional and unconventional families as expected and I really liked that aspect. There’s a surprising amount of quiet moments that I did not expect, and moments of people just talking. I don’t see this a downside. The first half was probably the strongest part of the movie, without getting into it too much, the opening was especially good. However around the halfway point it starts to decline a little, when it gets into the third act where it has a pretty standard and generic MCU climax. I know that this is typical for most MCU movies but it stands out more in Black Widow because it feels at odds with the rest of the movie. It really pulls you out of it and it’s rather disappointing.

Melina-Natasha-and-Yelena-Black-Widow-2021-black-widow-43656552-2048-1536

In terms of other writing issues, Black Widow is yet another victim of MCU movies having way too many (and poorly timed) quips and jokes, which end up being at odds with the rest of the movie. There are scenes that are serious and quite dark and then some other scenes which are really comedic and played for laughs, and they don’t gel together. The humour occasionally worked but some of them ruined some sentimental moments or felt forced. It makes the tone feel all over the place. I do have some other issues, part of it was the intent of it being made and the context of the film. This movie takes place right after Captain America: Civil War where Black Widow is on the run, Civil War was released 5 years ago and that’s when the movie should’ve been released. If you showed this movie to someone who are just catching up in the MCU right after they saw Civil War and told them that it was also released in 2016, they would probably believe you. So it almost feels pointless watching it now, especially as you know that Black Widow is going to survive the whole movie. Then to a degree it doesn’t feel we’ve learned a whole lot about Natasha. We’ve learnt some of her backstory but not much necessarily about her as a character. Then there’s the feeling that it was made mainly to introduce another character in the MCU more than actually being for her, like it’s not really her movie. A lot of the film was a setup for Yelena Belova which I’m not necessarily hating as her character is one of the highlights. However it didn’t quite feel right with Natasha/Scarlett Johansson being sidelined in her own movie. It needed to work as a proper sendoff for the character and for me it didn’t do that. There is a mid credits scene, which I think is worth sticking around for.

G0pRpQd

The cast were one of the highlights of the film. Before this movie, the closest that Scarlett Johansson has gotten to be a lead in a MCU film as her character of Black Widow was in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a co-lead. So here she finally gets to be in the forefront. I will say that this is definitely her best performance as the character if only because she’s the lead this time (sort of), and generally she’s pretty good here. Florence Pugh is the standout of the movie as Yelena Belova, she’s great, she’s hilarious, and steals every scene she’s in. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in other MCU projects. David Harbour and Rachel Weisz are also really good, rounding out the rest of the “family”. The interactions between the main family were pretty strong and believable, especially between Johansson and Pugh. The film really suffers from the weak villains, it’s an MCU film so not really a big surprise. Ray Winstone effectively plays the main villain as the head of The Red Room, the main antagonists of the movie. I will say it is refreshing to see a more straightforward evil villain as opposed to yet another attempt at making a sympathetic villain. However despite how much the movie builds him up as a big threat, we don’t really see enough of him for him to make an impact. Usually people in these scenarios would to fix this by compensating by giving the lead villain a strong henchman to have the main antagonistic focus. Which brings me to Taskmaster, who in this movie effectively serves as a Winter Soldier stand in, hunting Black Widow. In the comics Taskmaster is an assassin who mimics people’s fighting styles and that aspect is certainly here. I’m not going to pretend that I particularly care about comic book accuracy. However Taskmaster did feel underwhelming here, somewhat adequate in the action scenes but that’s it, certainly not as impactful as the Winter Soldier was in the second Captain America movie. There is a reason provided behind why the character exists so it isn’t just a random assassin or a robot, but we are not given nearly enough time with them. Even the reveal doesn’t go down well enough to create a memorable impact. Ultimately Taskmaster was more of a sidekick to the main villain, and a rather forgettable one at that. As for the identity of Taskmaster, I figured it out surprisingly early on.

BBU-10078_R-1625601543

Black Widow is directed by Cate Shortland, and on the whole I think she did a good job, it’s very well shot and put together. The action is generally quite good. A lot of the hand to hand combat is great with some stellar fight choreography, and the sound design really helping with that. It may well be the most brutal MCU movie with regards to the action, you do feel the impact of some of these fight scenes. Where the action suffers is in the third act, with explosions everywhere, over the top scenes, and a whole lot of CGI thrown in. While other MCU climaxes have certainly been more overblown than here, the fact that it’s in this particular movie with very different first two acts makes it feel really out of place. The visual effects are mostly fine and when it gets to the third act they look messy. I’m not going to pretend that it does anything particularly egregious by MCU standards, but it is quite unfortunate to see them fall back on that yet again. The score by Lorne Balfe is pretty good, mostly standing out in the action scenes. Another thing worth mentioning is that this movie actually has opening credits, as in there’s a montage towards the beginning of the movie that’s a credits sequence featuring the names of the main cast and other people who worked on it. Honestly that was rather nice to see in a franchise that hasn’t used them, and this sequence at least tonally gives a hint of it possibly being quite different as a Marvel movie.

black-widow-film-2021-01

Black Widow does have a lot of issues. It is 5 years late, it doesn’t feel like Black Widow’s movie and isn’t quite the sendoff that she deserves. The humour is at odds with the darker story and tone the movie is going for, as is the overblown third act. With that being said, I did still enjoy watching it. I generally enjoyed the action scenes, I was interested in seeing where the story would go, and the cast were quite good in their roles, especially Florence Pugh. It’s at around the midpoint of the MCU for me, if you like the movies I’d say that it is worth checking out.

The Prestige (2006) Review

edf272d36446daf1885b4b6ba81920ecf57e1fcff50ef5c673be21ab4b9be3eb[1]

The Prestige

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains medium level violence
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier (The Great Danton)
Christian Bale as Alfred Borden (The Professor)
Michael Caine as John Cutter
Piper Perabo as Julia McCullough
Rebecca Hall as Sarah Borden
Scarlett Johansson as Olivia Wenscombe
David Bowie as Nikola Tesla
Andy Serkis as Mr. Alley
Director: Christopher Nolan

Period thriller set in Edwardian London where two rival magicians (Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman), partners until the tragic death of an assistant during a show, feud bitterly after one of them performs the ultimate magic trick – teleportation. His rival tries desperately to uncover the secret of his routine, experimenting with dangerous new science as his quest takes him to the brink of insanity and jeopardises the lives of everyone around the pair.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

I really liked The Prestige when I first saw it, I liked the acting, it was directed well by Christopher Nolan, and it was an interesting an twisty story. However it wasn’t like one of my favourite movies from Nolan, and I sort of just liked it. Watching it again made me love it however, and now it’s now one of my favourites films from him.

unnamed[1]

This generally goes for every movie but especially for The Prestige, it really is worth going in not knowing too much, and in this movie it’s better not knowing anything at all. There are many twists and turns, better left to experience for yourself. The movie is driven by the rivalry between the two lead characters played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, and it’s really compelling and interesting to watch. It’s also such an original movie, I’ve seen movies of people rivalling each other, and I’ve seen a couple of movies about ‘magic’, but I’ve never seen a combination between the two before. It actually may be among Nolan’s most creative movies. On a first watch it’s really good, pretty intriguing throughout. Watching the movie on a second time is better however, you know the context of what really happened and notice certain hints that you didn’t pick up the first time. Also, you’re not spending time a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on and you really appreciate some of the foreshadowing and the like.

image[1]

Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play the lead characters Alfred Borden and Robert Angier respectively, and they are both fantastic in their parts. The two are constantly up against each other, and both effectively play complex and morally grey characters, with their conflict driving the story. Michael Caine is also great, giving one of his best performances from a Christopher Nolan movie, with this being his most active role in one of Nolan’s movies to date. Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall also do work well enough in supporting roles. David Bowie also appears in a few scenes as Nikola Tesla, and he’s great in his part. Additionally, Andy Serkis plays Tesla’s assistant, Serkis always brings something to every role that he’s in and his part in The Prestige is no exception.

1476914909484[1]

Christopher Nolan directed this movie excellently as expected, clearly having a more than adequate handling of the story. Wally Pfister’s cinematography is great, and the movie perfectly sets you in the time period. The scenes of ‘magic’ were noticeably presented very well. Many people have compared to Nolan’s work (mainly here) to the magicians like in The Prestige, and that’s definitely fitting, with his use of misdirection, focus and the like to trick the audience, at least on the first watch. The music by David Julyan is also pretty good and worked for the movie, but wasn’t particularly memorable on its own.

(L-R)  Hugh Jackman, Andy Serkis

The Prestige is a fantastically put together movie, intelligent, original and engaging from start to finish. Written and directed excellently by Christopher Nolan, and performed greatly by its great cast, it’s definitely worth seeing. If you’ve just watched it once, definitely find some time to watch it again.

Marriage Story (2019) Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language & sexual references
Cast:
Scarlett Johansson as Nicole Barber
Adam Driver as Charlie Barber
Laura Dern as Nora Fanshaw
Alan Alda as Bert Spitz
Ray Liotta as Jay Marotta
Azhy Robertson as Henry Barber
Julie Hagerty as Sandra
Merritt Wever as Cassie
Director: Noah Baumbach

A stage director (Adam Driver) and his actor wife (Scarlett Johansson) struggle through a gruelling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them to their personal and creative extremes.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I have heard of Marriage Story for a while, and there was much anticipation leading up to its release. I liked the few movies I’ve seen from writer/director Noah Baumbach, and the cast included Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, so there was a lot of talent involved. However, I didn’t really know what to expect except that it was a movie about divorce and a lot of people were hyping it up. Marriage Story is definitely great and for sure worth seeing when you can.

The script by Noah Baumbach is greatly written, at 2 hours 15 minutes or so, Marriage Story is rather engaging. It’s a slower paced dialogue driven drama, I had an idea it would be that going in, and I liked it for what it is. So much of it feels real, from the dialogue to the story and some of the characters (even if it does throw in a few large monologues too). It doesn’t really side with either of the main characters Charlie (Adam Driver) or Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), it portrays both of them honestly, each with their own flaws. However I will say that it feels more like Charlie’s movie than Nicole’s, so Driver had a little more to work with. Side note but wondering about “whose fault it is” between the two is very counterproductive, and is not really a conversation worth having. I don’t know too much about the divorce process, but the movie at least felt like an accurate depiction of it. It showed glimpses of the process, as well as the effect it has on the two leads as well as their child. I should mention that yes, Marriage Story very much has replaced Kramer vs Kramer as the best movie about divorce. I heard going into this movie that it was emotionally devastating and all that. Excluding whether you can relate to it (whether first hand or second hand experience with relationships/divorce), it’s not really that sort of movie. It is a dramedy, while it can be sad in parts, it’s not a consistently depressing or heavy movie or anything, it’s really bittersweet at worst. There are some lighter parts, and plenty of genuinely humorous moments too. Ultimately it’s a hopeful movie, including the way that it ended (not spoiling anything). Not to mention that as far as divorces go, there have been a lot more unpleasant divorces in both fiction and reality than the one front and centre throughout Marriage Story. None of what I said is a tangent to flex about how I didn’t cry during the movie or anything, I’m just talking about what kind of movie it is. I will say though on that note, I wasn’t that emotionally connected to the story and characters. I was definitely invested in it as a movie but that was sort of it.

There is a great lineup of a cast, and they all do some great work here. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson give their best performances of their careers, as well as some of the best performances of the year. They felt incredibly raw and human, and while you don’t see a lot of them being together before the divorce (this is just shown in a brief montage), they have such great chemistry and you can believe that these two people were once in love. I’ve noticed people reposting and praising an argument scene between the two (there are a number of arguments but you’ll know which one I’m referring to), watching a couple minutes of it out of context doesn’t do it justice at all. The way it builds up to it and the context really gives it its impact, and both actors did very good jobs in that scene and the whole movie. The lawyers played by Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta also work well in their respective roles. Azhy Robertson is also good as Henry, the child of Charlie and Nicole, who’s caught in the middle of the divorce.

Noah Baumbach directed the movie well, particularly with the dialogue scenes. An example was a monologue by Scarlett Johansson in her first scene with Laura Dern, it’s uninterrupted and focuses on Johansson, letting the scene play out and allowing her performance to take up the focus. It’s a much more intimate and personal movie, and the direction certainly accompanies that, but it’s also edited very effectively. The score by Randy Newman was also quite good.

Marriage Story is really worth watching as soon as possible, it’s fantastically written, and features some excellent acting from its talented cast (particularly Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson). Whether you like Noah Baumbach or not, or if you have you seen his movies or not, check it out on Netflix if it’s not in a cinema near you.

Jojo Rabbit (2019) Review

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & content that may disturb
Cast:
Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo “Rabbit” Betzler
Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa Korr
Taika Waititi as Adolf Hitler
Rebel Wilson as Fräulein Rahm
Stephen Merchant as Captain Deertz
Alfie Allen as Finkel
Sam Rockwell as Captain Klenzendorf
Scarlett Johansson as Rosie Betzler
Archie Yates as Yorki
Director: Taika Waititi

Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is a lonely German boy who discovers that his single mother is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his imaginary friend — Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) — Jojo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Jojo Rabbit was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. I like Taika Waititi’s movies and so I’m always interested in what he’d do next, even with a premise as strange as this one (of course it definitely seemed like something he’d be able to pull off). The cast is also great with the likes of Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and more involved, so naturally I was looking forward to it. I really liked Jojo Rabbit, and so far I’d say that it’s my favourite of Waititi’s movies.

Jojo Rabbit is a mix of comedy and drama, mostly the former. It’s also a coming of age movie, albeit a very unconventional one. Taika wrote the script, and you can definitely tell that this is one of his movies, so it’s his type of unique comedy throughout. If you’ve watched his other movies (and I mean Boy, What we Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, not just Thor Ragnarok) and you really like them, I’m pretty sure you’ll vibe with Jojo Rabbit as well. If you just can’t get into them however, you’re probably not going to be able to get into his latest movie either. Personally, it worked for me, and basically all the jokes hit for me. On top of that, a lot of the movie is absurd and it’s meant to be that, with this movie being a satire after all. With that said, when the does movie gets serious and emotional, it does deliver. It doesn’t shy away from the seriousness of it at points, especially towards the last third of the movie. With it being a movie about Nazis and Hitler, there’s no way it’s going to stay funny all the way through. Despite being hilarious and over the top, Jojo Rabbit doesn’t forget what it is, a anti-war and anti-hate satire, and there’s a lot of heart behind the movie. Honestly for a movie that could be incredibly absurd, it really is an achievement that Taika managed to pull this off because it’s no easy task balancing it all out. I know that some people might be complaining that for whatever reason it’s not a scathing enough condemnation of fascism, I can assure you that the movie makes it clear that Nazis are bad.

The cast all bring their A game to their performances. I believe this is Roman Griffin Davis’s first performance, and for a big screen debut, he’s great in the lead role. He’s very convincing as this 10 year old boy who also just really wants to be a Nazi, who of course goes through some changes over the course of the movie. So much of this movie is riding on the actor working, and he’s in almost all of the scenes of the movie. He brings the emotion, comedy, self seriousness and innocence that this character needed to have, and Griffin Davis definitely delivered that perfectly. Honestly one of the best child performances I’ve seen. Equally as great was Thomasin McKenzie, the Jewish girl hiding in the attic, she really was outstanding and a highlight from the cast. She and Davis share great chemistry together. Of course when it comes to performances of the movie (and the movie in general), a lot of people will be talking about Taika Waititi as Jojo’s imaginary friend version of Adolf Hitler, played here as a complete buffoon and is hilarious. He’s not really the focus of the movie but he definitely steals the scenes whenever he’s present. Scarlett Johansson gives one of her best performances in a while as Jojo’s mother, Sam Rockwell as usual is great whenever he’s on screen. Other actors like Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant play their roles well. Archie Yates also deserves a mention as Jojo’s friend who’s hilarious whenever he’s on screen.

Taika Waititi’s direction is great as usual. The cinematography is stunning, and at a lot of points feels very much like a Moonrise Kingdom/Wes Anderson movie. Like with the script, the direction for the dramatic and comedic scenes are both played out very well. It has stylistically some larger than life moments straight from a child’s perspective, as well as a couple moments appropriately planted in realism.

With a fantastic cast, and Taika Waititi’s great writing and direction, Jojo Rabbit is one of my favourite movies of the year. It’s a hilarious and entertaining yet emotional and heartfelt movie that successfully balances its tone out well, managing to pull off its absurd premise. Definitely worth a watch.

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

Time: 183 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Danai Gurira as Okoye
Benedict Wong as Wong
Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) sends a message to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers – Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos (Josh Brolin) — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

Avengers: Endgame was not only one of my most anticipated movies of 2019, it was also one of the most anticipated movies of all time. It’s the conclusion of an 11 year long story arc and it had a lot it needed to pay off on. Infinity War surprised me with how much they pulled off considering all the hype, however I said back then that whether or not it’ll hold up will depend on the follow up, Endgame. It could easily just reverse the impact that Infinity War had, making so much of that movie feel inconsequential. However, Endgame not only makes some of the other MCU movies better, it is by far the best movie in the MCU to date, and a more than satisfying conclusion to the main MCU storyline.

There are a lot of surprises in Endgame, so I will keep my description of the movie very vague. It’s been said that the trailer footage would only show the first 15 minutes of the movie, and for the most part that is true, it does not go at all how you think it would be in the first half hour alone, and the marketing managed to hide a lot of the movie. The movie is 3 hours long and personally I was actually invested in the characters and story from start to finish. I also thought the pacing was actually really good, Infinity War’s pacing doesn’t give you a chance to breathe, for better or for worse. Endgame on the other hand takes its time with its story (it definitely helps that it doesn’t have to focus on as many characters all in one movie), but isn’t too slow either. Make no mistake, while there definitely are big action sequences, it takes its time with its story and characters. It’s surprisingly one of the most character driven MCU movies, with most of the major characters going through their own arcs, in fact there wasn’t any clear weak link with the characters. You also really feel the incredibly high stakes throughout. Most of the MCU movies feel like no major character is going to die or that there are going to be major repercussions, but with Endgame you are on edge the entire time. The first hour is very sombre, the pacing is going to not work for some but I still loved it. I might have a different opinion the next time I see it, but I felt like every scene was necessary and really did a good job at humanising our main characters, in some cases much more than previous MCU appearances have done. If you found the first act to be too slow, the second hour is when the movie really picks up. Yes, there is a lot of fanservice, but with it being the last movie, a lot of these moments are earned, and I really had fun with all of them. As this is a MCU movie you can expect quite a bit of comedy thrown in and most of it works in Endgame, not taking away too much from the seriousness of the situations. There are multiple story bits that might not entirely make sense and you can really nitpick certain plot details if you want to, but it’s the kind of thing you’ll just have to roll with. I know that some people will be taking issues with the ‘plot holes’ but personally I didn’t have too many issues with it.

The third hour is also one of the all time best comic book movie third acts. All I will say is that if you remembered how great Thor’s entrance in the Wakanda battle in Infinity War was, there are plenty of even better moments in Endgame. The third act and movie ends some characters’ story arcs, while leaving others for expansion, and it was all done very well. Yes, you do need to see all the other movies in order to get the full experience, however that’s what makes the MCU stand apart from other cinematic universes. Not many cinematic universes have over 10 films all building and tying into each other, let alone 22 of them. It even ties together little elements from other MCU movies, even making some of the previous movies even better. It may not be the last MCU movie, and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon, however this really does feel like the conclusion to the main story arc, and you could easily stop watching the series here and be perfectly satisfied with how it ends. Since we are talking about endings, no, there aren’t any credits scenes. Nonetheless I do recommend sticking around for the credits of the cast before leaving at the very least.

The cast all bring their A game to their roles, most of whom give the best performances as their characters. First, with the main trio, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, giving possibly their best outings as their characters (certainly in the case of Downey and Evans), you really see how far each character has come from their first film appearance. Downey’s Tony Stark is particularly a standout from the case, it’s not really a surprise but he is truly great here. I was wondering what was going to happen with Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Pretty much everyone agrees that he was the weakest link in Infinity War, and I was very disappointed by his use in that film as most of the time he just felt like the butt of many jokes. Thankfully I can say that he is back to being really good in Endgame. It wasn’t quite what I initially expected and it will be initially jarring for some people but I really liked what they did with his character and was a logical enough next step for the character. Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner also give their best performances as Black Widow and Hawkeye respectively. One of the big surprises was Paul Rudd as Ant Man, he was one of the most natural players from the main group, especially with the humour but also with the emotion, he fit in so well into the group of Avengers. Don Cheadle’s War Machine is a character that’s always good in the movies he appears in but he’s often sidelined, here though he gets to play a significant part in one of the plotlines and they really gave him a lot to do. Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), who is the last of the Guardians of the Galaxy, also works well in the group, as does surprisingly Karen Gillan’s Nebula. With the exception of her villainous role in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, in her previous appearances she’s only been defined by her relationship with Thanos, and has come across as a bit weak as a character. In Endgame she’s given a lot more to her character and they develop her quite a bit. The newest addition to the MCU, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is also here. Despite having a significant role, she’s actually not in the movie as much as you’d think she is. Still she does good in the scenes that she’s in. One of my worries about her is that she’d overshadow the rest of the Avengers and be the simple solution to Endgame since she’s significantly more powerful that them, thankfully the focus is still on the main Avengers while she gets to have her OP moments. As for Josh Brolin’s Thanos, unlike Infinity War it’s not really his movie so you don’t get as much of him, but he’s still just as powerful and menacing whenever he’s on screen, and once again the performance and visual effects are just as good. There is a take on a major character which I know is going to divide some people (I won’t say who it is, when you watch you’ll know who it is pretty quickly). All I can say without revealing too much is that it was played a little too much for comedy at certain points (however I get the feeling that my audience misinterpreted certain serious moments as being comedic instead), but his story arc still worked well enough for his character and I overall liked the direction they went in.

Infinity War was really well put together by The Russo Brothers and Endgame is no exception, everything feels like they’re on such a large and epic scale. The visual effects in Infinity War were stunning, but Endgame takes it to a whole other level. I’ll have to watch it again but I don’t remember any glaringly bad CGI moments like most comic book movies occasionally have. While there aren’t as many action sequences as you’d think there’d be, they are really great. The third act particularly is truly spectacular. The score by Alan Silvestri (who has now done ¾ of the scores for the Avengers movies) is really good as to be expected and elevated the movie even more.

Avengers: Endgame is an emotionally satisfying conclusion of a conclusion 22 films and 11 years in the making. The cast and characters all do fantastic work, with everyone’s story arcs executed in a very satisfying way, it’s a large scale epic yet character driven at the same time, it’s astounding that they managed to pull it off this well. It is legitimately one of the best comic book movies made, and I don’t say that too often. I feel like with so much in this movie, I’ll need to watch it again so I can fully process it fully. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid spoilers this long and not watched it yet, go into the movie knowing next to nothing. I’d be surprised if Endgame is still not one of my favourites of the year by the time 2019 is over.

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.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

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.

Isle of Dogs (2018) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and Coarse Language
Cast:
Bryan Cranston as Chief
Koyu Rankin as Atari Kobayashi
Edward Norton as Rex
Bob Balaban as King
Bill Murray as Boss
Jeff Goldblum as Duke
Kunichi Nomura as Mayor Kobayashi
Akira Takayama as Major Domo
Greta Gerwig as Tracy Walker
Frances McDormand as Interpreter Nelson
Akira Ito as Professor Watanabe
Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg
Harvey Keitel as Gondo
F. Murray Abraham as Jupiter
Yoko Ono as Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono
Tilda Swinton as Oracle
Ken Watanabe as Head Surgeon
Mari Natsuki as Auntie
Fisher Stevens as Scrap
Nijiro Murakami as Editor Hiroshi
Liev Schreiber as Spots
Courtney B. Vance as the narrator
Yojiro Noda as News Anchor
Frank Wood as Simul-Translate Machine
Director: Wes Anderson

When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I was looking forward to Isle of Dogs, it was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. For whatever reason, I’ve been having to wait for this film to release here when it was already released a couple months prior everywhere else, however it’s finally here. I’ve seen a few films from Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom) and I liked what I’ve seen from him. With this being the second time he stop motion animated a movie (with the first being Fantastic Mr Fox), I was confident that this would be a solid movie, and that it was. It was pretty much what I expected and maybe a little bit more.

Isle of Dogs is an hour and 40 minutes long and from start to finish I was entertained. You can tell that it is definitely a Wes Anderson story. It has a very unique and original story with quirky characters, deadpan humour which is really funny and unique and is just entertaining overall. I didn’t really have too many faults with it, though there might’ve been a slight overuse of flashbacks, which does halt the story at times. Also some places and characters that the film at times cuts to (AKA characters that aren’t the main characters) really weren’t as interesting as the main storyline/characters. Isle of Dogs is kind of a kids movie, though it does go a little unexpectedly dark at times, so if you have some kids thinking that they’re going in expecting a cute film about a bunch of talking dogs, let’s just say that it won’t be what they are expecting. Aside from some minor faults, Isle of Dogs has a pretty solid story.

There is a lot of voice actors involved (Wes Anderson always seems to have a large and talented cast in his films). Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber and much more consist of the voice cast, and they all did good jobs as their characters, with Cranston being a particular standout.

As I said, this is the second time that Wes Anderson has directed a stop motion animated movie and once again he did a great job. Fantastic Mr Fox was good, but his handling of stop motion animation was even better here with Isle of Dogs, it is a great looking film. Also on top of the movie feeling like a Wes Anderson written movie, it also feels like a Wes Anderson directed movie. Everything from the framing, camera position, editing, everything here really feels like his film. Now if you’re not familiar with Wes Anderson’s style in his films, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s really difficult to describe because you can’t compare his movies to anyone else’s. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I do recommend giving this a go. If you can’t get into Wes Anderson’s other movies because of his style, chances are Isle of Dogs won’t win you over. There was an interesting decision made, all the dialogue from the dogs are in English, however most of the dialogue by the humans are in Japanese, and a significant amount of it isn’t translated into English. It works most of the time to show the language barrier, but I only say that it works most of the time because often times someone else has to translate what they are saying in English because some of the dialogue contains plot details that we the audience need to know. The film tries to have a mix of untranslated dialogue that we don’t hear (and yet convey the message visually so we still understand what’s going on) while having English exposition explaining everything to us and it didn’t quite work as well as I think it was intended to. I think it would’ve been better sticking with one way, whether that be all human dialogue in Japanese, Japanese dialogue with subtitles or all the dialogue in English, because it felt jarring when they kept changing their method of human dialogue. It’s not a major flaw with the movie, just something that stands out that is worth addressing.

On the whole, Isle of Dogs really worked well. It was entertaining, I could get invested in the story and I just enjoyed watching it from start to finish. If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, I think you’ll definitely dig this. If you haven’t seen any of his movies before, I’d say that Isle of Dogs is a good place to start with his movies. His films may not appeal to everyone but I recommend giving it a go at the very least.

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.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

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.

Ghost in the Shell (2017) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Science fiction themes, violence & content that may disturb.
Cast
Scarlett Johansson as Major Mira Killian
“Beat” Takeshi Kitano as Chief Daisuke Aramaki
Michael Carmen Pitt as Kuze
Pilou Asbæk as Batou
Chin Han as Togusa
Juliette Binoche as Dr. Ouelet
Peter Ferdinando as Cutter
Director: Rupert Sanders

In the near future, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: a human who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that her life was stolen instead of saved. Now, she will stop at nothing to recover her past while punishing those who did this to her.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Ghost in the Shell was a movie I was interested in. Although I haven’t seen the original anime, I like Scarlett Johansson, I like Michael Pitt, and the movie had a lot of potential with its concept and the source material. The trailer also promised a visually stunning movie. With that said I didn’t know what to expect going in, especially with the very mixed response to the movie. Having finally seen Ghost in the Shell, I can say that I was actually surprised, this movie was better than I thought it would be. The performances, the fantastic direction and the story all worked well to result in a solid sci fi movie.

As I previously mentioned, I have not seen the original anime so I can’t comment on how accurate this adaptation is. This movie is fairly conventional but it does have some neat surprises. I have heard that this adaptation has dumbed down a lot of the elements from the anime, this movie was fairly straightforward, so I have a feeling that’s the case. As someone who haven’t seen the anime, I did enjoy the story quite a bit. It wasn’t spectacular or groundbreaking to me but I had a lot of fun with it, I was never bored and it kept me interested throughout.

Scarlett Johansson is quite good in her role, she really sells her character not being completely human, her character also struggles with her identity, and Johansson portrayed that aspect well. She also was great in her action sequences. Pilou Asbaek is really enjoyable and likable in his role and a stand out performance is Michael Pitt, who plays a bit of a unique character, definitely one of the highlights of the movie (I just wished we got more of him). Other supporting actors such as Takeshi Kitano and Juliette Binoche do quite well in their roles. The weakest link is Peter Ferdinando in his role, I can’t tell whether it was his performance or the character, but whatever case, he felt rather weak and cliché as a character.

One of the best parts of Ghost in the Shell is its direction by Rupert Sanders, it is visually beautiful and stunning to watch. I loved the look that the world of Ghost in the Shell takes place in, with all the neon and vibrant visuals. The cinematography is immaculate and done so well. The action scenes were also quite entertaining to watch, the slow mo is implemented quite well. Cliff Martinez’s score as usual is also excellent and really does add to the movie a lot. The direction overall is really great, and one of the highlights of the film.

I wouldn’t say that Ghost in the Shell is a great movie, but it is good, much better than I was expecting. The performances were pretty good, the story held my interest and the direction was great. I can’t comment on how different this adaptation is to the anime, but for those who haven’t, I recommend at least giving this movie a shot. The visuals and the overall direction are at the very least good enough reason to give it a chance.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Review

84lkswi5ikni8utp9a69[1]

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.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

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.

kinopoisk.ru

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.

captain-america[1]

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.

baron-zemo-179756[1]

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.

1747[1]

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.