Tag Archives: superhero

X-Men Apocalypse (2016) Review

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X-Men Apocalypse

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, Offensive Language and Content that May Disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast
Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Phoenix
Olivia Munn as Elizabeth Braddock/Psylocke
Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havok
Director: Bryan Singer

Worshiped as a god since the dawn of civilization, the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) becomes the first and most powerful mutant. Awakening after thousands of years, he recruits the disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and other mutants to create a new world order. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Professor X (James McAvoy) and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) lead a team of young X-Men to stop their seemingly invincible nemesis from destroying mankind.

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X-Men Apocalypse has been one of my most anticipated films of the year, with director Bryan Singer returning from Days of Future Past along with his very talented cast. So does it deliver on its promises? Absolutely. This is so far one of my favourite films of the year and it’s in at least my top 3 in the X-Men series. There are some minor flaws in regards to the treatment of some of the characters, but for the most part, X-Men Apocalypse gets almost everything right.

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This is definitely the darkest X-Men movie yet with what happens to Magneto in the beginning, some of the deaths and not to mention that it’s the end of the world (obviously), there are some moments which were surprisingly dark and violent and I like the guts that the film had to go there. To offset the seriousness and grimness was the humour, which is also integrated very well, at no point does it feel forced in at all like it sometimes does with other comic book movies. One problem I have is some of the characters don’t get to be developed fully, a key example is Apocalypse’s ‘horsemen’ aside from Magneto. Storm, Archangel and Psylocke join him on his quest to take over Earth… just because. What’s worse is that the decisions that Storm makes doesn’t make much sense, especially when you factor in the fact that she’d eventually join the X-Men. However it’s easy to see why some characters are better developed than others, seeing as Singer had to handle so many characters at once.

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The cast from the previous two movies return and are usual great. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are unsurprisingly incredible in their roles. Evan Peters returns in the role of Quicksilver and like last time, he stole the show, he is just so enjoyable to watch. He gets a much bigger role than in DOFP and is again great, I can’t wait to see more of him as the films progress. Before going into this movie I was a little concerned about Jennifer Lawrence, because it looked like they were taking her character in a different direction, part of the cases made I agree with. She’s fine in the movie, though I don’t think that this was the best direction for the character and I wouldn’t lose any sleep if she left the franchise. There are also some recasting of previous X-Men movies, as well as some new characters. Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler were perfectly cast, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. Oscar Isaac was so incredibly great as Apocalypse. The trailers did him a disservice and made him look like a generic ‘end the world’ villain but there is so much more to him. This character is so larger than life but Isaac manages to balance out the ‘bigger’ moments with the more subtle moments, he was definitely one of the highlights of the movie. While I felt that they didn’t get their chance to show off more due to not much being written for them, Alexander Shipp and Olivia Munn did great work with what they were given, and acted well enough for me to say that I’m looking forward to seeing them in the sequels.

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Bryan Singer directs X-Men movies excellently and he does it once again with Apocalypse. All of the action is so entertaining and many are amongst the best scenes in the series. I think a special scene that should get a shout out is the opening scene, which is a flashback which takes place at Egypt, everything in that sequence was done incredibly. I have to say, before seeing this movie I didn’t think it was possible for there to be a Quicksilver scene that tops the one in Days of Future Past. With Apocalypse, I’ve been proven wrong, all I’ll say is that it is excellently done and was one of the most memorable parts of the film. This film has the most destruction out of any of the X-Men movies, sometimes that’s shown off well, but there are times where the CGI and greenscreen looked a little fake, most of the time it really works though.

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I am so glad to say that X-Men Apocalypse is one of the best films in the series. With the entertaining action scenes and excellent portrayals of these characters (for the most part), X-Men Apocalypse is a movie that you absolutely must see. Don’t let the critics’ mixed reviews sway you, go out and see it for yourself. If you love the X-Men films, I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy this film as well.

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.

X-Men: First Class (2011) Review

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X-Men First Class

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr/Magneto
Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
January Jones as Emma Frost
Nicholas Hoult as Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast
Oliver Platt as Man In Black Suit
Kevin Bacon as Dr. Klaus Schmidt/Sebastian Shaw
Director: Matthew Vaughn

In the early 1960s, during the height of the Cold War, a mutant named Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets a fellow mutant named Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). Despite their vastly different backgrounds — Charles grew up with a wealthy family, while Erik lost his parents at Auschwitz — the two become close friends. As the world teeters on the brink of a nuclear war, Charles and Erik with other mutants join forces to save humanity. However, a situation soon tears the friends apart.

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Superhero prequels are often doomed to fail, which is why some people were a little sceptical of this movie actually being good. The fact that it had an entirely new cast and look (not to mention that it came after X Men 3 and X Men Origins Wolverine which were the lowest points of the series), didn’t help. However with Matthew Vaughn as director, he actually ended up creating one of the best X Men movies. The talented cast (many of which played already established characters) did a fantastic job and the story ties into the X Men franchise very well.

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One problem I had with the original X Men trilogy is the lack of proper characterisation, aside from a few characters like Wolverine and Rogue, there were many characters that weren’t that developed. First Class was the first X Men film that fixed that issue, sure there are characters that don’t get fully explored but most of the main characters are established well, and that’s a huge step forward when compared to the previous movies. There definitely are some inconsistencies with the plot when compared to some of the other movies (such as with the flashback in X Men 3) but I was able to overlook that.

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The casting was excellent. James McAvoy as Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Magneto are really in the forefront of the movie and they are terrific. You can really buy their friendship and you can tell how this would carry over into the original trilogy. Jennifer Lawrence was also great as Mystique, I know a lot of people prefer Rebecca Romjin’s Mystique but while she looked the part she wasn’t given any depth whatsoever. Lawrence gets to actually explore the character, and she did a great job. Kevin Bacon actually was good as the main villain, the way his character tied into Magneto’s past was so great. The only casting I had a little bit of a problem with was January Jones as Emma Frost, she didn’t feel very believable and felt a little fake. That was the only miscast of the movie, everyone else was great.

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The action scenes are great (no surprise there) but something felt different, Vaughn’s directed action scenes added something special. This film had some very memorable moments, the last act features many mutant battles and it is glorious to watch. The soundtrack by Henry Jackman was also really good, it feels big, grand and epic.

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X Men First Class was a lot better than what we initially thought it would be. With a very talented cast, a pretty good story and Matthew Vaughn’s direction, this movie was a solid entry in the X Men franchise. I honestly think that it’s better than any of the original trilogy, though not quite better than X-Men Days of Future Past, which I’ll review soon. I’ll just say this though, people claim that it’s X-Men Days of Future Past which brought the X-Men franchise back for good but for me it was First Class that achieved that.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Review

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Guardians of the Glaxy

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Vin Diesel as Groot
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser
Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Djimon Hounsou as Korath
John C. Reilly as Corpsman Rhomann Dey
Glenn Close as Nova Prime Irani Rael
Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan/The Collector
Director: James Gunn

Brash space adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the quarry of relentless bounty hunters after he steals an orb coveted by Ronan (Lee Pace), a powerful villain. To evade Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with four disparate misfits: gun-toting Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), treelike-humanoid Groot (Vin Diesel), enigmatic Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and vengeance-driven Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). But when he discovers the orb’s true power and the cosmic threat it poses, Quill must rally his ragtag group to save the universe.

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Guardians of the Galaxy was another risk on Marvel’s part. Not only did it take part in a part of the Marvel universe that most people don’t know, but it also had characters that no one had heard about. Plus it initially looked plain silly, 5 people band together to form a team, one of them is a giant talking tree and another is a talking racoon. This was the movie that convinced me that Marvel can do no wrong. It is riddiculusly fun, has great characters and it’s just pure entertaining.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy..L to R: Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) & Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt)..Ph: Jay Maidment..?Marvel 2014

The plot is very standard, everyone is after an object, and the main characters are trying to keep it from the villain. The story plot isn’t really anything special, the best elements come from the execution. The only flaw in Guardians of the Galaxy aside from the villain is that I wasn’t totally invested in the story, but then again this isn’t that type of superhero movie. The characters are really likable, which really helps us get into them and the film needs that seeing as how this film doesn’t just have 1 or 2 new characters, but 5 new characters. This film knows how ridiculous the ideas are and the best part about it is that it embraces it. This is also the funniest movie in the Marvel Universe. All of the characters have their funny moments and play off each other very well.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy are, from left, Chris Pratt as Star-Lord/Peter Quill, Vin Diesal as Groot, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, and Zoe Saldana as Gamora. (Marvel/MCT)

All the actors are really good and as I said earlier, they play off each other well. Chris Pratt was fantastic as Star Lord, Zoe Saldana is great (playing another alien), Vin Diesel worked as a tree who can only say three words (I am Groot) and wrestler Dave Bautista makes his big onscreen debut as a guy who takes everything literally (you know what I mean if you’ve watched the movie). Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Racoon could make or break this movie, thankfully it’s the former and he steals every scene he’s in. Lee Pace’s Ronan isn’t very interesting as a villain, which is really the film’s greatest problem. I do think that the actor has more to work with and is decent, much better than Malekith in Thor: The Dark World. It’s really just the writing that let him down. We get a couple of scenes of Josh Brolin as Thanos and while we don’t get a lot of him in it, I’m liking what I’m seeing and I’m looking forward to see him as the main villain in the Avengers Infinity Wars movies.

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The action scenes are fantastic. It was much more Star Wars/Star Trek type action than the usual Marvel superhero movie action. Everything is also on such a big scale, there are many locations that the 5 main characters travel to and all of them look great. The soundtrack was also good, it has a lot of classic music which surprisingly worked in with many of the scenes and some of them were even action scenes.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy..L to R: Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt)..Ph: Film Frame..?Marvel 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was the movie that proved to me that Marvel can do no wrong. It had likable actors, great action, brilliant writing and it was overall fun. With a sequel coming in 2017, I am very excited to see the Guardians of the Galaxy returning to the big screen.

Deadpool (2016) Review

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Deadpool

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic Violence, Sex Scenes, Offensive Language
Cast
Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool
Morena Baccarin as Vanessa
Ed Skrein as Ajax
T.J. Miller as Weasel
Gina Carano as Angel Dust
Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Director: Tim Miller

This is the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

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Deadpool was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. I’ll admit I didn’t know much about Deadpool, I had heard of him and I knew the general idea of his character but I haven’t read comic books of him or watched any shows or movies featuring him (I don’t think X Men Origins Wolverine counts). Having seen this movie though, I want to watch and read everything Deadpool related, this movie immediately made me a fan of him. From the writing, to the acting and the excellent direction from newcomer Tim Miller, Deadpool is one of the best superhero films I’ve seen in a while.

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The movie is very well written, from the opening credits, you know what sort of film you’re going into. As you could probably tell, this movie was very funny, whether it be fourth wall jokes, the dialogue, the characters or when it takes shots as certain things outside the movie, even Ryan Reynolds’s career, including Green Lantern and X-Men Origins Wolverine. Another great thing is that you actually care about what’s going on, one of my main concerns going in was that it would just be an action comedy superhero movie and it would be just Deadpool being cool and funny, with no real emotional weight to the film, but it definitely has that. By the way, there is an end credit scene, so make sure you wait until the end.

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Ryan Reynolds absolutely is Deadpool, he is as much Deadpool as Robert Downey Jr is as Iron Man or Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Like I said earlier with the emotional weight, Reynolds also shows off his dramatic chops as well as his comedic ones. The supporting actors also did good jobs. Morena Baccarin plays Wade Wilson’s girlfriend and I thought that she did a really good job, she shared great chemistry with Reynolds and the love story between the two actually worked for the film, it added to it in fact. The film also features two X Men, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, both who were great in their roles. A fair criticism that some may have is that the villains, Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano aren’t that well developed. I thought that they worked for the plot and the actors did good jobs with what they had, particularly Ed Skrein, who looks like he’s having a great time as the villain. Also Stan Lee has quite possibly the best cameo he’s ever had.

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The action scenes were fast paced and well filmed. The film’s budget is definitely lower than most other comic book movies but it still was used very effectively. The CGI was also used effectively when it was needed, such as in the case of Colossus, who was a fully CGI character. The soundtrack which includes tracks by the very talented Junkie XL was also great.

DEADPOOL Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) pounces on an adversary. Photo Credit: Joe Lederer TM & © 2015 Marvel & Subs.  TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All rights reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.

Deadpool was a really great superhero movie. From Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, to the fantastic script and Tim Miller’s direction, every element works. Deadpool is one of the best comic book movies made and in my opinion is up there with Sin City in terms of the most accurate comic book character adaptations. Definitely check out Deadpool when you get a chance. If any of the other 5 superhero movies this year are as good as Deadpool, 2016 will be one of the best years for superhero movies.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Review

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Captain America The Winter Soldier

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow
Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter/Agent 13
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Director: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

After the cataclysmic events in New York with his fellow Avengers, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans), lives in the nation’s capital as he tries to adjust to modern times. An attack on an S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague throws Rogers into a web of intrigue that places the whole world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and a new ally, the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Rogers struggles to expose an ever-widening conspiracy, but he and his team soon come up against an unexpected enemy.

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I said this in the past, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is my favourite Marvel movie. The Winter Soldier is a realistic take (or the most realistic take) on Captain America and is more of a spy/espionage thriller than a superhero film. The Winter Soldier pretty much gets everything right, the plot is very well written, the acting is great, the action scenes are fantastic and this is wasn’t just a filler movie, it changed the Marvel universe as we knew it.

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Without spoiling anything, The Winter Soldier has great consequences of the Marvel Universe. This movie was more spy and espionage than any other movies in the Marvel universe. The tone of this movie is also quite serious, this movie is probably the darkest Marvel movie. With that said it’s not completely dark, the humour was quite good, particularly between Captain America, Black Widow and Falcon. Although the Winter Soldier is in the title of the film, he’s used more as an occasional villain, so the film really didn’t need to be named after him. But I will say that he was used well in the story, especially in how he relates to Captain America.

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Chris Evans once again returns as Captain America and as usual is great. Scarlett Johansson returns as Black Widow and is an even stronger character than in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers as it put her in the forefront of the film. This was the movie that convinced me that there should be a Black Widow movie but it’s probably too late for it to happen at this point, with all of these next movies going big like Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange. There is particularly great chemistry between Evans and Johansson and play off each other really well. Another great addition was Anthony Mackie as Falcon, the film really integrated him well in the story with all the other plot points going on. Other actors like Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson also do great jobs. Without spoiling anything for those who don’t know, I’ll say that The Winter Soldier is also one of the better Marvel villains.

"Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier"..Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)..Ph: Zade Rosenthal..© 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

The action is filmed much more realistically, as the tone of the film is more realistic. I think it’s also worth mentioning the stunt team, the fight scenes were truly great and thrilling. I particularly like how the film incorporated Captain America’s shield into the action. Sure I liked what they did with The First Avenger and The Avengers but as this has a more realistic tone they had to come up with a realistic way of using the shield, and they surprisingly made it work. Captain America’s costume thankfully changed from The Avengers’ fake costume look to a much more fitting and realistic look.

"Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier" L to R: Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) & Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) Ph: Zade Rosenthal © 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is truly a great movie and for me is currently the best Marvel movie. It took a more realistic take on the classic character, had great twists and turns and has great impact on the Marvel universe on the whole. It’s not just a great comic book movie, but it’s also a great movie on its own. This year we’ll have to see if Captain America: Civil War or Doctor Strange can top it, it will not be an easy task.

Thor: The Dark World (2013) Review

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Thor The Dark World

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Christopher Eccleston as Malekith
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Algrim/Kurse
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Ray Stevenson as Volstagg
Zachary Levi as Fandral
Tadanobu Asano as Hogun
Rene Russo as Frigga
Director: Alan Taylor

In ancient times, the gods of Asgard fought and won a war against an evil race known as the Dark Elves. The survivors were neutralized, and their ultimate weapon — the Aether — was buried in a secret location. Hundreds of years later, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) finds the Aether and becomes its host, forcing Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to bring her to Asgard before Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) captures her and uses the weapon to destroy the Nine Realms — including Earth.

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In some ways this film is better and worse than the first film. It does show more of Asgard and this movie also is starting to set up for Avengers: Inifinity Wars with an Infinity Stone playing a part in the story. However at the same time it has worse comic relief, a generic villain and not particularly any interesting style. The Dark World is still worth watching but when all things are considered, it is lesser as a movie compared to its superior predecessor.

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One of the biggest flaws of Thor was the film succeeded most when it was taking place on Asgard, but it was mostly set on Earth, which was fine was fine but it wasn’t as strong. Now, there is more of Asgard which I liked. The problem is while that’s good, the scenes that would cut back to Earth are often pointless and a lot of the time it was for comedic purposes, which leads me to the next flaw. The comic relief was worse and it’s starting to get a little annoying. The comic relief in the previous film wasn’t great but it was fine and didn’t distract too much from the movie. The Dark World however has more comic relief, more Kat Dennings and it gets very distracting from time to time.

FILE - This publicity photo released by Walt Disney Studios and Marvel shows Natalie Portman, left, as Jane Foster and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, in Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World." Disney is previewing several of the studio's upcoming live-action films for fans at the D23 Expo, Aug. 9-11, 2013, a three-day Disney extravaganza at the Anaheim Convention Center. "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: Winter Soldier," "Muppets Most Wanted," "Saving Mr. Banks" and "Tomorrowland" are just some of the movies that will be teased at a Saturday morning presentation. (AP Photo/Walt Disney Studios/Copyright Marvel, Jay Maidment, File)

Chris Hemsworth is Thor again and as usual he is great. Natalie Portman is once again good but I did feel like her character here was a little flat compared to her in the previous movie, which is saying a lot because she didn’t play a big part in that movie either. Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki and was by far the best part of the movie, Loki really does get much better as a character as the movies go on. It’s just a shame that he wasn’t in the movie that much. The weakest aspect for me is by far the villain Malekith, I’ve watched this movie 3 times now and I can’t remember you exactly he is. He’s just some guy who wants to destroy the world, making him one of the most forgettable villains I’ve seen in a movie.

"Marvel's Thor: The Dark World" L to R: Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) Ph: Film Frame © 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

The action scenes were quite good and it’s worth noting that they are different from the original Thor. I liked the action in both of the movies but I did feel like something was missing from The Dark World, which I’ll get to in a second. An action scene I really liked was at the end, which involved a lot of portals. One complaint I have is that Asgard doesn’t look as grand as Kenneth Branagh did with the previous Thor. That movie looked massive and fascinating. Here, Asgard looked good but it wasn’t anything really special, it felt just like another Fantasy world. This also played a part in the action scenes, it looked good but not particularly special like how the original’s was.

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Thor: The Dark World does make some improvements over the original but it also gains some flaws at the same time. Although it was initially hard to say whether this movie or the original was the best Thor movie as both aren’t flawless movies which come with their positives, The Dark World did seem more flawed in comparison. Thor: Ragnarok, the third instalment in the Thor trilogy will be coming out in 2017 and I hope it manages to surpass its previous sequels because while these movies are decent and worth watching, they aren’t at the level of Iron Man or the solo Captain America movies.

Iron Man 3 (2013) Review

IRON MAN 3, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, 2013. ph: Zade Rosenthal/??Walt Disney Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Iron Man 3

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Don Cheadle as Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes/Iron Patriot
Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian
Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen
Stephanie Szostak as Brandt
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin
Director: Shane Black

Plagued with worry and insomnia since saving New York from destruction, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), now, is more dependent on the suits that give him his Iron Man persona — so much so that every aspect of his life is affected, including his relationship with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). After a malevolent enemy known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) reduces his personal world to rubble, Tony must rely solely on instinct and ingenuity to avenge his losses and protect the people he loves.

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Iron Man 3 was the start of Marvel’s phase 2 and while most people would say that Iron Man 3 is better than Iron Man 2, there were still some criticisms of it. Iron Man 3 was a pretty divisive movie upon its release, I’m one of the people who really liked it. It still has its flaws but I still enjoy it. Iron Man 3 has even better action, good acting, a good plot and it’s entertaining. I think the majority of the criticism was because of a certain aspect of the plot, which while understandable, doesn’t drag down the movie in any way.

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Iron Man 3 didn’t really play a big part in the universe, when all things are considered, Iron Man 2 is more relevant than Iron Man 3. However the story is better, instead of multiple plotlines that don’t always move well together it has a pretty controlled story that it follows and all the plotlines are interwoven together much better. Also the writing from Shane Black was good and you definitely tell. This movie is both the darkest and the funniest of the Iron Man movies and it works. Not all the aspects of the movie are great though. There’s a decision that Tony makes early on which is quite possibly the dumbest decision that he’s made, and that’s a lot considering the fact that he created Ultron later on. There is also a plot twist which will annoy some comic book fans that I won’t spoil for those who don’t know. While I can understand why people would be upset with it, it didn’t bother me a lot because it was well done in the context of the story.

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Robert Downey Jr is great, it’s almost pointless talking about how great he is, he is Iron Man. This movie reminded me of Dark Knight Rises, in that there was much more Tony Stark than Iron Man and I think it really payed off in the end. The supporting actors also did good work. Don Cheadle was even better here than he was in Iron Man 2, Gwyneth Paltrow was also good here. Guy Pearce was great in his role, Ben Kingsley is good in his role, Rebecca Hall is a good actress and does fine in this movie but her character was sort of underdeveloped and so she didn’t have a lot to work with.

"Marvel's Iron Man 3" Iron Patriot Ph: Zade Rosenthal © 2012 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2012 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

The action scenes here are even better than the previous Iron Man movies. Tony Stark’s suits are quite different and now he can control them without even being in them, which leads to lots of entertaining opportunities which the film takes advantage of. While the third acts of the previous films have disappointed, the third act in Iron Man 3 is great and is definitely better than in the previous films.

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Iron Man 3 is a pretty good movie but I don’t know if I can call it a great movie. The acting is good, the action is good, the writing is better than the previous film and I was entertained all the way through. Sometimes there are some flaws like some convenient writing and the massive change in the comic books. The only great Iron Man movie that’s been released has been the first one, but in my opinion all of them are good.

The Avengers (2012) Review

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The Avengers

Time: 143 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 Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Erik Selvig
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Director: Joss Wheddon

When Thor’s evil brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), gains access to the unlimited power of the energy cube called the Tesseract, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates a superhero recruitment effort to defeat the unprecedented threat to Earth. Joining Fury’s “dream team” are Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

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This is the first combining of a superhero team on the big screen. Everything could have gone wrong, nothing like this has ever been done before. Yet with Joss Whedon’s direction The Avengers have now successfully been integrated and just seeing all these characters on screen at the same time is a real joy to watch. Although it’s by no means a perfect movie, its pros more than make up for the cons and is for me one of the most enjoyable movies to watch.

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Joss Whedon is great at writing dialogue and The Avengers is no exception. The dialogue is very well written, there is a lot of great back and forth between the characters. Even though a lot of people love this movie more than Age of Ultron I will say the plot isn’t particularly strong. It’s thinly strung together and its fine but I think that people that disliked Age of Ultron’s plot forgot that the original didn’t have a great plot. It does the job fine but it wasn’t as well done as it could have been. However it does give convincing reasons why all the superheroes work together. The main reason to watch the movie is to see all these superheroes together. The entire third act is nonstop action and is by far the best part of the movie, seeing all of these superheroes in action was a joy to watch.

“Marvel's The Avengers” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) join forces in “Marvel’s The Avengers,” opening in theaters on May 4, 2012. The Joss Whedon–directed action-adventure is presented by Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures and also stars Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson. © 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2011 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

All the actors do play each other really well and they have great writing to support them as well. The film establishes clear differences between characters, especially between Steve Rodgers and Tony Stark. Mark Ruffalo replaces Edward Norton as the Hulk and he did as well as Norton, he probably worked better as an Avenger Hulk than Norton, which is probably why the recasting happened in the first place. Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki and he is having a lot of fun in the role. The one character that felt a little weak was Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Renner does well in the movie it’s just that the film doesn’t really go much into detail in who he is (Age of Ultron fixed that though).

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The special effects and action scenes are as usual great. Many of the fights are great, from Thor vs Iron Man, to Hulk vs Thor and of course the final battle scene in New York, which is one of the best action climaxes in any superhero movie. The costumes for all the characters as usual look good, except for Captain America. His look in The First Avenger (and The Winter Soldier) looked great, but his new outfit here looked a little ridiculous and it was a little hard to take him seriously, even if it looked more accurate to the comic book.

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The Avengers isn’t a perfect movie. The reason why Age of Ultron wasn’t received as well was because it wasn’t as much of a surprise the second time round, and audiences could pick up on the issues more. The Avengers’ plot isn’t particularly strong and not all of the characters are fully developed yet (Hawkeye) but even if it’s not a perfect movie, it’s still one of the most entertaining movies I’ve ever watched. It’s one of those movies I can watch again and again and never get tired of. This film should at the very least be commended for actually putting 6 superheroes on the screen at the same time and made it work. We’ll have to see if DC can do that with the Justice League.

Thor (2011) Review

Photo credit: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures / Marvel Studios
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment. 

© 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2011 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Thor

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig
Colm Feore as Laufey:
Ray Stevenson as Volstagg
Idris Elba as Heimdall:
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Rene Russo as Frigga
Anthony Hopkins as Odin:
Director: Kenneth Branagh

As the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of the Norse gods, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) will soon inherit the throne of Asgard from his aging father. However, on the day that he is to be crowned, Thor reacts with brutality when the gods’ enemies, the Frost Giants, enter the palace in violation of their treaty. As punishment, Odin banishes Thor to Earth. While Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s brother, plots mischief in Asgard, Thor, now stripped of his powers, faces his greatest threat.

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Some people might be able to see Iron Man and Captain America on the big screen but they couldn’t have seen how they would’ve done Thor. He is so larger than life and he’s a superhero character based in a different type of universe. However this movie introduced Thor in a pretty good way and by the time The Avengers came around, we were all onboard for seeing Thor play a part. It’s not one of the best movies in the Marvel Universe but considering that director Kenneth Branagh had to introduce Thor, it’s impressive how well he did it.

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As I said before, this film does well at introducing Thor to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t think that having a fish out of water tale was the best way to introduce him but the movie still worked well and was lots better than you would initially think. One thing that I noticed is that the film succeeded most when it was taking place on Asgard. When it took place on Earth it was fine but it didn’t feel as strong. I will say at least all the Earth scenes served a purpose, it wasn’t just for bad comic relief (that would be saved for Thor: The Dark World). Speaking of comic relief, there’s quite a little bit of it, particularly with Kat Dennings and although it wasn’t great it wasn’t really bad either and didn’t distract much.

Photo credit: Zade Rosenthal / Marvel Studiosâ€(R)Left to right: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.â€(R)â€(R)© 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2011 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Chris Hemsworth nails the role of Thor, I personally think that out of all of the Avengers this is the toughest role to pull off. He needed to be larger than life but yet be three dimensional at the same time. Natalie Portman is quite good and does share good chemistry with Hemsworth. Tom Hiddleston does quite well as Loki, even though he’s not as strong as in later movies he is pretty effective as a villain here. Anthony Hopkins is also great as Odin, even though you don’t see much of him in the movie, he is really believable as this character.

Odin banishes Thor

As I said previously, the best scenes of the movie are once again when in Asgard but it’s not just because it’s more interesting, everything there looks grand and exciting. This is probably why I really liked the action in this movie, everything feels on a grand scale and although there isn’t a lot of it, when it was happening it looked great. This grand style would be sadly missing from Thor: The Dark World. That style really elevated the movie and made everything much more epic. This is a little bit of a nitpick but I should mention that there were a little too many dutch angles for my taste and sometimes it got distracting but it was fine for the most part.

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Thor expanded the Marvel Universe and showed that they could go into many areas of the comic book universe. It’s not one of the best movies in the MCU but it is good and it is definitely worth watching. Even if there were some parts that could’ve been improved, I think that Kenneth Branagh did pretty well at putting Thor on the big screen and I do think that he was a good pick for this movie. Thor: The Dark World would be a decent sequel but commit as many mistakes as the previous movie.