Posts Tagged ‘Captain America’

As always just before the Oscars get underway, it’s time to recognize those movies that usually don’t get such love but fundamentally serve the purpose of entertaining. The big spectacle, the joy of watching things blow up on screen, the action set pieces – all make up for a heady cocktail to justify paying the price of a ticket and hopefully the entertainment. With that in mind, if there was one word to really describe 2016 movies – the word would really have to be middling

 

Disappointing would be too strong a word but it’s something approaching that when one takes a look at the list. Movies content to coast by, resting on the success of their predecessors thinking that itself might bring the crowds in. Narrative coherence was the other aspect of it as well. So much so that by the end of the year if a filmmaker could weave 20 mins of a coherent story, the movie stood up pretty well. It was also a year where mommy issues dominated the 2 biggest releases of the year – be it “Martha” or “He killed my mother”. Studio interference ruled the biggest franchises leading to muddled visions on screen and more criminally, betraying customer trust as movies on screen completely were different from what was shown in the trailers – a trend likely to continue in 2017 as well.

 

Without much ado, (there really isn’t much anyways), the best of 2017

 

Captain America: Civil War – Or how even the best cowboys have mommy issues

captain-america-civil-war

 

Billed as Avengers 2.5, this was in more ways than one a defining movie for Marvel. Adapted in spirit (if nothing else) from the comic book event of the same name, Marvel had to break the bank in more ways than one to get this off ground, Robert Downey’s contract as well as the wrangling with Sony to get Spiderman in. A packed movie based on the fundamental question on who provides oversight to the superheroes, the movie spent probably even less time on it than the comics while continuing the Winter Soldier storyline, while introducing Black Panther and Spiderman to this world as well, while staying true to the vision that it was a Captain America movie and not Avengers. A fairly heavy plate that was balanced in the true Marvel style employing humor, sarcasm, witty one-liners and a terrific mid movie airport sequence that gets all players a moment to shine. Chris Evans truly does shine in the role while a moody RDJ plays a different role compared to his usual self. Chadwick Bosemen proves to be a phenomenal fit as the Black Panther, all quiet menace, barely concealed anger and immense gravitas while Tom Holland as Spidey is quite charming, gawky and a motor mouth. While the Marvel formula is often derided for being well formulaetic, it’s difficult to be that critical when things work as well as they do here. The House of Ideas keeps marching on

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them or hey, you know what America needs right now,  a story on how illegal aliens cause a whole lot of trouble

fantastic-beasts

 

Let’s get a few things out of the way first. I really haven’t liked any of the Harry Potter movies – found their representation of screen very bad. I also don’t like Eddie Redmayne – except for his unhinged, campy, whispery villainous turn in Jupiter Ascending. So FBAWTFT had a whole lot going against it and it still worked. Redmayne’s slightly absent-minded quirky role turned out to be really charming and the novelty of America as the setting worked completely for it even as the special effects on this were truly outstanding. The expansion of the story to cover the Dumbeldore- Grindelwald conflict definitely makes this intriguing as is Redmayne’s connection with the Lestranges.

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or how hindsight is always 20/20

rogue-one

 

For a movie plagued by reshooting troubles, this shaped up really well. In a way, we know what the end point of this movie was going to be. But the very effort of ensuring that it led right up to the opening moments of A New Hope was truly among the goosebumpy moments of the year. It also answers the baffling question on how a truly complicated and deadly weapon like the Death Star would have such a stupid weakness. A diverse cast, impressive location jumping and a fabulous turn by Ben Mendelsohn makes this war movie an engaging one. The Disney strategy of having anthologies along with the Star War sequels was a risky one and Rogue One especially risky given the lack of star names (due apologies to Felicity Jones) but given how successful this turned out to be and with a movie on Han Solo the next one, the force is strongly with them

 

Other notable movies:

  1. Batman v Superman: My thoughts here. Also hampered by the theatrical release. The uncut almost 3 hr movie was way better
  2. Deadpool: Truly R rated and outstanding. Hampered by the fact that Indian censors lacked a sense of humor
  3. Doctor Strange: Iron Man Redux with magic and an American accent spouting Cumberbatch with the RDJ quirks, attitudes and facial hair
  4. Central Intelligence – Fascinating pair of Kevin Hart & Dwayne Johnson – so well done and playing off each other quite well
  5. Star Trek Beyond – A solid entry post the overhyped Wrath of Khan reboot. But whoever came up with the idea of hiding the menace of Idris Elba behind layers of makeup needs an entry pass to Arkham

 

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“You think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet. I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative”

These lines uttered by the incomparable Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury in Iron Man, was the seed that excited all of us, towards the Avengers project. An excitement that kept on increasing with the release of every subsequent Marvel movies, creating the concept of a shared universe & ultimately, the dream of many a fan in the form of the Avengers movie. With so much excitement & expectation riding on the movie, the overriding fear was that the movie would disappoint. However, in the capable hands of Joss Whedon, the answer is a resounding positive thumbs up & it’s a movie that not just satisfies but delivers a compelling fun filled action packed summer blockbuster movie

Avengers Assemble!!!!

 

The Avengers movie is a strange beast. In itself, it’s the first of (hopefully) many Avengers movie while on the other hand, it is the culmination of the multifarious threads drawn from the Iron Man, Hulk, Thor & Captain America movies. It has the advantage of the stars already established with their characters but also faces the challenge of introducing new characters in this movie while also ensuring that all characters get their due & no one character runs away with the movie (RDJ as Iron Man does his best to do so)

One of the biggest fears is a movie like Avengers lies in the storyline. A dense storyline especially for the 1st movie could sink it. Whedon avoid this problem by keeping things very simple. Loki wants to use the Tesseract, a cube of enormous cosmic power, to rule the Earth with the aid of his army. The stakes are sufficiently high enough for the mightiest heroes of the world to unite against Loki to save the day

Sounds simple enough. Except that with great superpower comes great super ego. The fun in a movie like this is watching the heroes stand together & fight a common enemy. However, the real fun in the movie is watching the clashes between Iron Man, Captain America & Thor. Each of these heroes bring their own personalities quirks to the table & as Bruce Banner says “We are not a team but a time bomb”

Whedon brings his A-game to the movie. The pacing is just about perfect & the dialogs & the one-liners are snappy & humorous to keep the audience engaged. RDJ as Iron Man pretty much is the rock star of the movie. Snarky, independent, & with loads of attitude, he pretty tries to run away with the movie. Chris Evans as Captain America is solid. To be fair, his was the character that I thought would get lost in the movie but his portrayal as the man out of time & trying to do the right thing is brilliant. His standing up to RDJ & taking charge of the team comes naturally.

Marvel had tried a couple of Hulk movies before this with not that great a success. However, on the basis of Mark Ruffalo’s performance, the calls for a 3rd Hulk movie should increase. Ruffalo is included in the team primarly as a Gamma Ray expert than for Hulk but its amazing to watch him battle the beast within. His performance as Bruce Banner is brilliant as well as heart breaking when he responds on the number of ways he has tried to escape the beast. As Hulk, he provides some of the best moments on the movie. & the look on Loki’s face. You will realize what I am talking about when you see the movie. (Trust me, it is one of the scenes of the movie)

Joss Whedon’s strength in developing well rounded & strong female characters was pretty evident in Buffy as well as the ill-fated Firefly & Dollhouse & this extends to Avengers as well. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow gets a really good character development compared to the Iron Man 2 movie. Her introduction interrogation scene as well as her interrogation with Loki are brilliant. Her interactions with Bruce Banner & Hawkeye are compelling.

The SHIELD members in the form of Nick Fury & Agent Coulson get key roles. It is great to see Nick Fury take up the leadership role compared to the small roles that he had been getting in the other movies. Agent Coulson, now a firm fan favorite, gets to play a very key role & goes further in cementing his place in everyone’s mind. We also get our first introduction to Maria Hill (Fury’s right hand). She does not have that big a role to play in this movie but might expand in the forthcoming movies.

Thor has the best introduction of the lot. He is sufficiently arrogant & physical as befitting a god. However, in the roster of actors, his is the one that gets a bit short changed & there has not been much of a difference between his role from Thor. Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye gets his first proper role in the Avengers universe & he does justice to his role & does not feel out of place for a bow & arrow guy (Jeremy Renner has now become part of several multi-starrer movies with most of them becoming good hits. His real challenge would be to prove that he can carry a movie on his own & achieve commercial success. The Bourne Legacy ought to be interesting in that regard)

Loki was probably the most conflicted character of last year based on his performance in Thor. While none of the internal conflict appears in this movie, he is still a compelling villain. He is so compelling because he is in fact weak & is driven by the need to prove himself worthy & to be better than Thor. Tom Hiddleston captures that lean hungry famished visage brilliantly.

The action sequences are suitably over the top for a summer blockbuster movie & the takedown of New York is awesome. There is so much & more packed in the 2 hours that there is no dull moment.

The only real drawback is the lack of an engaging background score. At no point in the movie did there seem a distinct background score standing out to identify it was an Avengers movie. Most superhero movies have  a distinct score to help identify themselves. Superman with that regal John Williams score or Nolan’s Batman with that haunting brooding Zimmer score or Iron Man with the Rock score are clear stand outs.

The other major drawback is that only Marvel Studios knows when the next Avengers movie is going to come out. Gosh, the wait already seems unbearable.

In short, go see the Avengers. One of the best & definitely, one of the most fun superhero movies.

PS: “Hulk Smash” has to be one of the lines of the movie

PPS: The SHIELD Helicarrier did not disappoint. It performs the same role as it does in the comics. (& its not what you think)

PPPS: As is their wont, a nice after the credits scene

PPPPS: Not fair from Marvel to add another after the credits scene for the US markets & not release it for international audiences L

Summer means summer movies. Summer movies implies big budget & big stars on movies, who with great concern for your wellbeing, implore you to kindly deposit your brain in a fridge nearby to cool off & come to watch their movies & needless to say, it is the most enjoyable time of the year. Sequels, prequels, reboots, (bloody) 3D (..|..) movies dominate the landscape of summer movies & below are the ten that matter

1. Thor: The biggest gamble, movie wise for Marvel Studios as Thor is not quite an established name (or hero) as other Marvel characters. Casting a relatively unknown Chris Hemsworth & bringing in a man more at home directing Shakespeare plays, in Kenneth Branagh, seemed to be left field choices. However, considering that Thor is a god & at the end of the day, this Marvel property is all about gods & humans & their drama, Branagh is a wonderful option to lend gravitas. Thor would be a hard sell & the Avenger movie’s fate does depend a lot of Thor

2. Green Lantern: In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night, WB finally gets something right, in showcasing Green Lantern’s might. WB (parent company of DC comics) is keen to now develop & bring its other characters onto the big screen & Green Lantern is a step in that direction. Currently, Green Lantern is the hottest property for DC comics through the stellar efforts of Geoff Johns & reportedly, Geoff Johns was impressed by the movie saying it captures the key elements. Ryan Reynolds plays the titular character. I had huge concerns when this casting was announced as I did not think that Ryan Reynolds could carry out a non-flippant & a (relatively) serious character. But after his work in Buried, there is a lot more confidence in Reynolds. Green Lantern promises to be a space adventure of the most awesome kind

3. Captain America: Another Marvel movie with lots riding on it. This time, though, its for a different reason. Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers who becomes Captain America through the super soldier program during World War II. Now, Captain America is a bit like Superman. Morally strong but boring character. It remains to be seen how Captain America would connect with the audience. Biggest concern is though with Chris Evans. Chris Evans has excelled in playing snarky flippant characters & Captain America is quite a serious character. However, the presence of Hugo Weaving (as Red Skull) should lend some color to the performance. Hayley Atwell finally gets a movie after her excellent performance as Aliena in the tv adaptation of the Pillars of the Earth.

4. X-Men: First Class: Did we really need this movie? Especially after the #FacePalm movie that was X3. May be not but the real reason to get excited about the movie is Matthew Vaughn. The same guy who directed Kick-Ass & Stardust (2 awesome awesome movies). & story by Bryan Singer. We may pan Bryan Singer for Superman Returns (though I admit that movie has now grown on me) but one cannot deny that he made the best X-men movie when he directed X2. So expectations can be built up for the movie. Also, lets face it while the previous movies were X-Men in name, it was more about Wolverine. First Class is going to explore an earlier timeline where Charles Xavier & Magneto are still friends & trying to start a school during the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis

5. Fast Five: The Fast & Furious franchise continues to rumble on. This time, they are getting all the cast together (most of the drivers from all the previous 4 movies). Vin Diesel is back as is Paul Walker. The addition of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (thankfully, back to the action genre after Disney movies) as a cop hunting the gang promises to add more powder to the keg & one just cant wait for the 2 big men to have a go at one another. Bring it on

6. Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides: Captain Jack Sparrow is back & this time, he is accompanied by the awesomely hot Spaniard, Penelope Cruz (sigh). Another franchise that is back, from the grave seemingly, features Jack & Barbossa (the delightful Geoffrey Rush) in a race for the elusive fountain of youth & discovering that the notorious pirate Blackbeard (the wickedly evil Ian McShane) also after it. What kind of works for this movie is the absence of Orlando Bloom (yaay) & one way that the producers can go laughing all the way to the bank is giving Jack enough screen time (unlike POTC3)

7. Hangover Part II: The Wolfpack is back. This time in Bangkok. & if the trailers are anything to go by, gear up for more of the insane fun as the sleeper R-rated hit that was Hangover I. The same cast repeats itselves as does Todd Philips as the director. Slisha in the news as Mel Gibson was supposed to be playing a cameo & was shunted out after a protest by the cast.

8. Super 8: Nothing much is known about the movie & despite that, it still finds a place in the top movies for summer. Why? For one reason alone. JJ Abrams. He is the man behind Lost, Fringe, Alias, & Star Trek Reboot among others. He could sell me to watch a movie even if it features Shia LeBeouf, Sam Worthington & Keanu Reeves. Oh & for the record, its a conspiracy story featuring cover ups on a catastrophic accident

9. Kung Fu Panda 2: Prepare for the return of the awesomeness. We will Wok you. Ska2oosh. Yes, Po is back this time. The same voice cast as last time returns with Jake Black essaying Po. However, the new additions to the voice cast make it even more awesomer. Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, Dennis Haysbert (President Palmer of 24 fame) & JCVD himself lend their voices to this part

10. Cowboys & Aliens: Indiana Jones meets James Bond in this movie. The very title is intriguing as Cowboys & Aliens quite do not mix. Starring Harrison Ford & Daniel Craig & directed by Jon Favreau, this promises to be sh*tloads of fun & it also has Olivia Wilde in it (woohooo!!!!) as a spaceship lands in the Wild Wild West in the 19th century & all that is stopping the alients are cowboys & a man with no name with a super weapon