Tag Archives: the avengers

Ant-Man – Review

26 Jul

Every years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe just keeps getting bigger and bigger, which I guess meant that the next hero had to be the smallest one of them all. Before watching this movie, I really had no prior experience with the characters of Hank Pym, Scott Lang, or Ant-Man. Just a few minor detail and notes were all I had to go on, so I didn’t really know what to expect, and I was actually a little bit nervous about the whole thing. Luckily, Ant-Man is a welcome addition into the MCU, and aside from a few minor complaints, this is one of the most fun films of the franchise that dons the same kind of feel that Guardians of the Galaxy did.

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After being released from prison, professional thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is working hard to find a job in order to pay child support for his daughter so that he can finally spend time with her again. He is finally backed into a corner and decides to take a job given to him by his friend Luis (Michael Peña), which involves breaking into a house to rob a mysterious vault. Turns out that this job was actually set up by former S.H.I.E.L.D agent and scientist Hank Pym (Micahel Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). They explain to Scott that they need him to don a special suit and become Ant-Man in order to break into Pym’s old research facilities and steal a prototype for a Yellowjacket suit that will be used by the villainous Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) to wage world wars. Of course, it’s never as easy as it seems with job culminating in a fight to the death between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket.

Just a few months ago I was writing my review for Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is probably the most epic film in this franchise thus far. So, we’re going from that to Ant-Man, which is (no pun intended) a lot smaller. Luckily, the creative talent behind this movie was more than capable for making up for all that. This is a Marvel movie the likes I’ve never seen before. It’s a lot more than just a good guy against a bad guy. In fact, I would argue that that isn’t even the main focus of the movie. The main focus is actually the planning and execution of the heist to secure the Yellowjacket suit. The bottom line is that this is a heist movie starring a superhero. How cool is that?

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Like with Guardians of the Galaxy and both of The Avengers movies, the writing in Ant-Man is really sharp and quick. I credit a lot of this to the original screenwriter and director Edgar Wright, but I can’t discount the rewrites done by Adam McKay and Paul Rudd. All of these guys have shown their talent for both comedy and drama, and all of that comes together in a nice clean package here. This film is both funny and often dramatic, but never overwhelming in either of these departments. There’s a healthy balance between the two ends of the spectrum, and between those two ends is a lot of really great and inventive action. The character of Ant-Man may seem a little silly, but seeing him in action, wether he’s riding on ants or shrinking down to utilize his super strength, is just a joy to behold.

I just want to take a moment to address some of the not so great parts of this movie, because unfortunately there are some. For example, Darren Cross isn’t exactly a great villain. They just sort of explain that his brain has been poisoned by the formula that can make the suits shrink, but they don’t actually dive into that and examine him as a character. All you need to know is he’s bad and Scott Lang is good. That’s kind of disappointing. Also, there gets to be a point in the movie where things just start to happen so the story can keep progressing. I get that that may have been done to make sure the movie didn’t get overly long, but it also just felt kinda weak at the same time. These are, thankfully, pretty minor complaints overall.

So in a world where superhero movies have flooded theaters all over the world, I’m happy to say that Ant-Man is a more than welcome addition. It’s filled with humor, action, nice drama, and all of the references you would come to expect watching a movie that’s part of the MCU. Not only is it a great stand alone film, it also makes me really excited about what’s to come. Don’t miss out on this one.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron – Review

3 May

Sure, this is only going to be the biggest movie event of the year. No pressure. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become one of the biggest money makers in the last decade, and you can see why. Because it’s so fantastic, you can’t help but love it. Anyway, it’s time to talk about the movie that I’ve been most excited about for the past year, Avengers: Age of Ultron. After almost completely destroying New York City in the first film, there was a lot that had to happen in this movie to make it really stand out, and of course a lot of people have been saying it’s underwhelming. To those people I ask, what movie were you watching?

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After everything that’s happened since the last film, the Avengers are reassembled to finally reclaim Loki’s scepter from a HYDRA outpost. After calling the mission successful, the team is faced with an entirely new problem. Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) artificial intelligence program that has been in the works becomes fully aware and takes on the form of the arch villain Ultron (James Spader).  After seeing the fallacies of the human race, Ultron begins his plan to enact a mass extinction so the species can hopefully evolve into something better, but that doesn’t sit well with the Avengers, and it’s up to them with the help of a few others to end the Age of Ultron.

I sometimes feel the need to say this, and this is definitely one of those times. That was a very difficult summary to write, and I know for a fact that I didn’t do it justice. Let’s face it, so much happened in this movie. Like a ridiculous amount compared to other movies, but what do you expect? We’ve all come to love these characters and really care about what happens to them, and now they’re all in the same movie once again. This time, however, Joss Whedon takes the characters and gives them more to do and more of a backstory for us all to appreciate. Another big plus that really stands out is that Hawkeye gets way more to do in this movie, and in fact has become one of my favorite characters.

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As with the other film, the writing in this movie is spot on, but it’s also where my only complaint really arises. James Spader does an excellent job as Ultron. They really couldn’t have found a more appropriate voice. The thing is, is that he was too funny. I would have loved to see a much darker villain, but it was almost as if they were substituting him for Loki. Loki was funny and it was appropriate. I can’t really say the same for Ultron. Still, the humor everywhere else was great. All of the characters interacted with each other very well, and you could tell that they’ve been working together for a while. Even secondary characters from other movies were written in and written in well. These additions of other characters makes Age of Ultron feel like the biggest Marvel movie yet.

While this movie is very funny, it also works great with the dramatic aspects. Sure, there’s more than enough action, chases, explosions, and destruction, but what may be even more interesting than that is what happens to the characters. We see more of their private lives and what makes them tick and where they all came from. Even Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch get great backstories which makes the audience actually care about them. If they succeed at their mission, we feel great, but if someone gets injured or dies, we’re going to feel that pain as well. This is what really makes these Marvel movies stand out amongst summer blockbusters. The characters, no matter how fantastic they are, are so three dimensional and solid that we really do care and want to see them succeed.

To put it simply, Age of Ultron may not be as great as the first film, but still it’s an amazing movie. It felt so great seeing all of these characters come together again to duke it out against Ultron. What I want people to take away from this review is that these Marvel movies are about the characters. The action and special effects in this movie are amazing, but what really hits home are the Avengers themselves. I not only loved watching this movie, but I loved the feeling of excitement that came after when I began thinking about what was next. What a great way to start the summer movie season.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Review

7 Aug

It almost feels like Christmas when a trailer for a new Marvel movie comes out. Following the first viewing comes months of speculation on how the movies going to be and what might possibly happen based on our knowledge of the universe, the comic books, and the characters. When I first saw the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, a title which I knew next to nothing about, I immediately began preparing and even went out and bought some of the graphic novels so I could learn the characters. My hopes were high going into this film and were raised even higher when I left the theater. This is a spot on Marvel film that nearly earns perfection.

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As a young boy, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is abducted by an alien ship and turns into one of the more underestimated space pirates in the galaxy. After finding a priceless orb, Quill, now calling himself Star Lord, becomes the bounty if his former mentor Yondu (Michael Rooker). Not only is Yondu after him, but so is a trained assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who is apparently working for the evil Kree Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), a genetically engineered raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his bodyguard, a humanoid tree named Groot (Vin Diesel). These unlikely future heroes soon collide and end up in a prison with the vengeful Drax (Dave Bautista), who is hell bent on finding Ronan and killing him for the atrocities done to Drax’s family. With the band of misfits finally formed, they begin to realize the power that the orb really has and who is the puppeteer who has his eyes on it as a weapon of macrocosmic destruction.

As soon as the trailer was first revealed, it was obvious that this was going to be a movie that isn’t even really in the same ball park as The Avengers. Yes, there are major connections to the previous films that are going to be important to the overall story, but the feeling of this movie is completely different. This is an excellent conglomeration of super hero action and science fiction wonder. There’s space travel, dogfights, aliens all in the universe of all the other Marvel heroes. Needless to say the universe that has been created already just got a whole lot bigger with Guardians of the Galaxy what with all the new characters and plots. This was a big project that was successful because of all the people that were involved and the intelligence with which it was produced.

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First of all, I have to commend the writing of this movie. Not only is it really cool science fiction, it’s also hilarious. The one liners in this movie are enough to make a Vulcan chuckle with mild delight. It’s mostly on point, but there were a few times where some of the jokes dragged on a little bit and lost the luster it never really had. It’s not good if a joke falls flat, but it’s bad if they keep running with the dead joke. This happens only once or twice in the movie so it isn’t even that big of a deal. But with the comedy and the action comes really good scenes of drama. The opening scene is dramatic enough to carry the entire movie, but when the Guardians are at their lowest, the audience feels it, and that’s due to the work of the writers, the director James Gunn, and the perfectly casted group of actors.

These characters are very distinct in their own way, and to nail them each perfectly isn’t an easy task. Pratt is the obvious choice for Peter Quill with both the way he looks and his personality, and anyone who saw The Iron Giant wouldn’t be surprised to see Diesel as the role of Groot. The only person who gets a little awkward at times is Saldana as Gamora, even though she evens it out with some terrific acting towards the end. The real scene stealers, however, are Bradley Cooper as Rocket and Dave Bautista as Drax. I was expecting Cooper to knock it out of the part as the wise cracking raccoon, and he did, but Bautista delivered some of my favorite lines in the movie. His completely serious attitude was perfect for Drax’s moments of being unintentionally hilarious.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a great looking movie, a well acted movie, and also expertly written and directed. Marvel took a gamble on this one. This isn’t the most popular comic book they ever created and it would’ve been easy to stick with the heroes they’re already using. Instead, they went out on a limb and made this film which has proved to be the definitive blockbuster film of the year, in my opinion. It has action, laughs, heart, and characters who are easy to love. This is an excellent film that I can’t wait to see again and again and again.

Thor: The Dark World – Review

14 Nov

Ever since The Avengers dropped last year, it seems that everybody is going a little Marvel crazy, and that’s just fine with me. This year alone we’ve already got to see Iron Man 3, a new show on ABC called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and most recently Thor: The Dark WorldWe’re on our way to the next Avengers movie, but for now the cinematic Marvel universe is growing and growing, with The Dark World not only being a very entertaining film, but also an important entry in terms of expanding the universe.

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Since Bifröst was destroyed and rebuilt, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been traveling through the different worlds in over to restore peace amongst them all, however, a  lurking evil is waiting for its moment to strike. On Earth, Jane Austin (Natalie Portman) uncovers a portal that releases and infects her with the Aether, a powerful substance that was locked away by Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) father Bor. Now that the Aether has been released, the dark elves led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) come out of hiding to reclaim the Aether and use it to destroy the universe. Facing his most difficult and personal challenges yet, Thor must team up with his brother Loki (Tim Hiddleston) to stop Malekith and save the universe.

Now, let me be there first to say that the original Thor was my least favorite of all of the first Avengers films. I’m sure many will disagree, but in my opinion, once Thor got to Earth in that movie, it slowed down way too much. Kenneth Branagh was s good choice of director and handled the Shakespearean content very well, but it just wasn’t as entertaining as I wanted it to be, which is exactly what I expect from any movie with a Marvel logo attached to it. Luckily, The Dark World fixes all of its entertainment problems, and despite some major ugliness in the plot, beats its predecessor by a mile.

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Right off the bat, this movie throws action in your face and doesn’t let up until it’s over. I can’t say the same thing about the first one, even though it did have the task of setting up the universe and the characters. This time, we know everyone and we can see exactly what they can do. Idris Elba’s character Heimdall gets more to do in this one and it’s really cool to see him kick some ass. Who really steals the show is Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, this time not really playing the villain but still full of wisecracking remarks.

Still, there are some ugly, ugly problems in this movie. For one thing, the whole plot of a powerful villain using a mysterious substance to destroy the earth is a bit old by now. Wasn’t that pretty much the whole thing behind the Tesseract? Now it’s the Aether. Another thing is that there are moments in the plot where everything is solved without any effort. One scene in particular ends before there can even be any suspense at all. And finally, there are moments when the CGI looks pretty bad, especially when it’s from a distance.

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As for the Thor movies, I can say without question that The Dark World is better than the original Thor and I can also say it’s better than Iron Man 3, in terms of post-Avengers Marvel movies. Though it is not without some major flaws, I can’t say that I wasn’t entertained from the very start to the very finish. Let’s just say the movie was over before I even realized, not because of the run time, but because I just had so much fun with it.

The Avengers – Review

4 May

One of the first thoughts I had after leaving The Avengers last night was, “How can I review this film and still give it justice?” I’ve been training for this movie since I was a kid by watching the television shows, playing the games, and reading the books of the various characters in this film. I have so much to say, and worried that I’m just going to start rambling about how awesome it is. I’ll give it my best shot, so forgive me if I sound like a giddy school girl.

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Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is back with a vengeance in The Avengers, with plans to take over the world using the energy of the mysterious and ominous Tesseract.  Now, the director of S.H.I.EL.D, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assembles his team of extraordinary individuals. These are: the millionaire playboy Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.); the demigod Thor (Chris Hemsworth); the super soldier Steven Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans); gamma radiated scientist Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo); sharp shooter Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner); and super agent Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson). Together they are The Avengers, and Loki is in for one hell of a battle for Earth.

The outstanding thing about this movie is that every superhero gets their share of screen time. One isn’t more important than the other, and every single one plays a vital role in accomplishing the mission. Even Hawkeye and Black Widow, who didn’t get their own individual tie-ins get a lot of screen time and are just as significant as characters like Thor and Captain America. I can even say that each hero got their own moment of just jaw-dropping awesomeness that my friends and I are still talking about.

I was a little worried that this movie was going to feel like it went on for too long with a run time of almost two and a half hours, especially since I was at the midnight movie and I had a small inkling of concern that I was going to fall asleep. I had absolutely no cause for concern. First of all, the movie felt like an hour and a half tops. The fact that I was in that theatre for two and a half hours is mind blowing. I just did not want the movie to end. Also, when the film first started, I immediately was wide awake and ready to go.

The special effects here are absolutely phenomenal. New York City is almost annihilated at the end, and it looks great. The fight scenes were also brilliantly choreographed and edited so that we got to see how each member was contributing to the battle. There was one long take in particular that travels all throughout the Manhattan battlefield to show all of the Avengers taking on numerous villains. It was so satisfying.

The performance were top notch. Tom Hiddleston is fantastically menacing as Loki, making him a villain we love to hate. Downey Jr. is appropriately sarcastic, and Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth pull off the tough talking but heroic persona of a superhero. The scene stealer in The Avengers, however, is Mark Ruffalo, who I didn’t put enough faith into. His Bruce Banner is very mild and soft spoken, but when he Hulks out, the audience is treated to the best Hulk scenes to grace the big screen.

I know I’m going to get a lot of heat from this next statement, but I believe that The Avengers surpasses The Dark Knight. Go ahead and disagree. That’s absolutely fine, but I can honestly say I was never more entertained by the action and surprisingly deep characters of The Avengers, and it was awesome to see all these heroes onscreen at the same time. It is the best super hero movie ever made, by far, and the scene during the end credits make me very impatient for the next one. I 110% recommend The Avengers, and I can’t wait to go back to the theaters and see it again.

Build-Up to The Avengers – Captain America

19 Apr

Well, this is it until The Avengers comes out in a couple weeks. I really could not be more excited, and it’s worth saying that this is a movie I’ve been dying to see since i was 7 years old. I’ve always been a Marvel guy who has been in love with the characters my whole life, and now comes the review for one of my favorite super heroes of all time, Captain America: The First Avenger. Did it live up to my expectations?

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a tiny, sickly, and extremely patriotic citizen of New York in the early 1940s. He dreams of being able to go to Europe and fight for his country in WWII, but his size and health permits him from doing so. Fortunately for Steve, Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) recruits him, much to the disappointment of the cynical Col. Chester Philips (Tommy Lee Jones) and to the joy of British agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Altwell) to be a part of a new experiment that will be used to create super soldiers to fight for America (which was hinted at in The Incredible Hulk). So Steve Rogers is transformed into the super soldier that is Captain America. At first, he is only used for American propaganda purposes, but soon joins the fight in Italy against the evil Nazi Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), better known as the Red Skull.

After seeing this, I am totally ready for The Avengers. This movie really had everything that a great super hero origin story needs. There was terrific build-up leading to both the experiment that gives Steve Rogers his super abilities and to the unmasking of the Red Skull. I was really looking forward to how these two things were going to be handled in Captain America, and I was not disappointed in the least.

Chris Evans gives a fine and sincere performance, and I can’t think of anyone else that would fit the role of Captain America better, but Hugo Weaving and Tommy Lee Jones are the real scene stealers here. It seems that the character of Johann Schmidt/Red Skull were made for Hugo Weaving. He acts here with such glaring malice that it’s impossible not to take your eyes off him whenever he’s on screen, and I could argue that he is the best Marvel villain portrayed in a movie yet. Then again, the Red Skull has been one of my favorite villains since I was a kid, so my opinion might be a little biased. Besides his performance, the make up for this character looks absolutely fantastic. Tommy Lee Jones hams up his grumpy persona yet again, but he made me laugh a lot, so mission accomplished there.

Captain America: The First Avenger has a really old timey, pulp look to it that I really love to see in movies. Another example with a style that is seen here is in the fantastic and under appreciated film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. The CGI background with its different tints of brown, gray, and blue give this film a great atmosphere.

As much as I love this film, it is not perfect. The pacing in the beginning started out great, and I really enjoyed the work they put in the character’s backstory, but once Steve Rogers became Captain America, the film slows down for a little bit before the action gets picked up again. The parts I’m talking about are when he is being used as a piece of American propaganda. I understand that they put this in the film because that’s what Captain America originally was: a piece of propaganda in the early 1940s.

The history, the characters, the effects, and the action makes Captain America: The First Avenger an above average superhero flick. It’s popcorn entertainment with more heart than most summer movies. Captain America has been one of my favorite heroes for years, and it was really exciting to see him in a movie. There was another Captain America film made in the early ’90s, but it was pretty atrocious and didn’t capture what Captain America is all about, which this one did. I definitely recommend this film.

Now I have to wait until May 4th for The Avengers. Expect a review for it right after I get back from the theaters.

Build-Up to The Avengers – Thor

16 Apr

Out of all of the members of The Avengers, Thor is the one that I know the least about, so while I was putting on the movie I didn’t really know what to expect. What I got was a spectacular experience color, set design, action, Shakespearean plot elements, and fantastic sound design. After watching Thor, I was ready to go to my local comic book shop and pick up some Thor comic books.

Thor tells the origin story of the Norse God of Thunder of the same name. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a great warrior, but just as arrogant, which is dangerous because he is to be the next king of Asgard. After a breach is made in Asgard by the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, the Asgardians oldest enemies, Thor,his jealous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and Sif and the Warriors Three (Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Joshua Dallas, and Tadanobu Asano) travel to their realm and engage in a forbidden battle. Because Thor has broken the truce between Asgard and Jotunheim, Thor’s father and king of Asgard, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) banishes him to Earth, leaving Loki to take the throne. On Earth, Thor must learn to survive and find the hero within him, all while helping astrophysicist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) understand the different realms and defend her work from S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Meanwhile, Loki begins to conspire with the Frost Giants in order to take the throne from Odin and fix the problems of Asgard using all the wrong methods.

When Thor was over, the image that stayed in my head was the Bifröst Bridge. Honestly, this is probably one of the coolest, if not the coolest, set pieces I have ever seen in a movie. This can be said with all of Asgard. The computer graphics look fantastic and aren’t distracting. Instead, they create a surreal world with a gorgeous atmospheric design with buildings and enhanced colors that looked absolutely gorgeous.

Tom Hiddleston steals the show as Loki, Thor’s jealous brother. He does a great job at playing a villain who is evil, but at the same time tragic and sympathetic. His backstory is fascinating and helped me feel for the character. Hemsworth brings great depth to Thor’s character along with a couple really humorous scenes. Natalie Portman is good, as well, but is probably the weakest and most stereotypical character.

As I said before, the plot of Thor is almost like something you would see in a Shakespeare play; that is, without the special agents, Norse Gods, and the Destroyer. But the theme of a dangerous jealousy among siblings rings true throughout the film, which really gives a nice layer to what would otherwise be a summer action film that is packed to the brim with action and special effects. This movie is special because the characters are very relatable, even though some of them are gods from another realm.

Thor is also full of references that will be appreciated by Marvel fans. Bruce Banner and Tony Stark are briefly mentioned, which I found great because I’m so excited for The Avengers, and I just love seeing all of these characters get tied together. It’s really a lot of fun.

So my consensus of Thor is that it’s a must see. Rarely does Marvel release a subpar comic book film, those being the two Fantastic 4 films, Hulk, and Daredevil (which many argue really stinks, but I think it’s alright.) Thor on the other hand is great, and an exceptional tie-in to The Avengers.