‘Captain Marvel’ Review

Directors: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Writers: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet

Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Djimon Hounsou, Rune Temte, Algenis Perez-Soto, Jude Law and Annette Bening

Synopsis: Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review. There are also two post-credit scenes.*

 

Marvel’s twenty-first film in their ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe finally has their first female-led superhero film. Not only that, it is a prequel to the whole MCU showing the events before we met Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in Iron Man, the MCU’s first film – although timeline wise, Captain America is still the first (for now), but let’s move pass that. So how does the pseudo-origin story of Captain Marvel fair? Let’s find out.

Captain Marvel follows “Vers” (Brie Larson), a member of the Kree Starforce, whose main purpose is to stop the shape-shifting alien race Skrulls, who they are in war with. While on a mission to recover someone with important information with her team, led by mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), they’re ambushed and Vers is eventually set crash lading to Earth in 1995. On the run from the Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), Vers teams up with a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to search for Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) a scientist whose work could end the Kree-Skrull war, but also holds the key to Vers’ past – a past she can’t remember since being on the Kree home plant Hala for six years.

Captain Marvel is interesting on a lot of fronts because on one end, the movie is an origin film for the character, who some people may not know. On top of that, Captain Marvel’s origin and history has changed every now and then, and the movie takes bits from the top main three origins of the character. On the other end, “Vers” already has her powers and knows how to use them, so the story just dives right into the action. That said, there are things that could have been touched on a little more in Vers’ story once she finds out who she really is. There is where the movie falls into some pitfalls and essentially makes Carol Danvers a somewhat less interesting person. It’s not Brie Larson’s fault, it’s the script that doesn’t really let the moments breathe the way it should.

Speaking of Larson, she handles this massive role with ease. Larson brings the right amount of everything a scene and the role requires. She’s equal parts funny, quick-witted and take no crap attitude, but also has enough believability to her that we’re rooting for you until the end. Her chemistry with some of the cast also keeps the movie going, more specifically, with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. The two bounce off each other extremely well, and it’s with Fury that Carol Danvers comes out, but it’s through other characters that we find out who she is, and not herself finding out who she is. That said, I do want to mention that the de-aging effect used on Jackson – and Clark Gregg’s returning Agent Coulson – is particularly seamless, that it’s damn impressive and it never really falters. Which unfortunately can’t be said for the end of the movie where some of the CGI looks a little too wonky, but I’ll take that as inexperience from directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who have mostly done low to mid-budget independent movies.

The only other character that Larson really bounces off of is Lashana Lynch’s Maria Rambeau, Carol’s best friend from her days in Air Force, who has a daughter that also tells Carol who she was before she disappeared from Earth and ended up with the Kree. The rest of the supporting cast is fine, but a lot of them don’t get enough screen time although Captain Marvel belongs to Brie Larson. Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg isn’t in the movie enough to really grasp an idea about him, while Ben Mendelsohn’s Skrull leader Talos has a lot more to do with the story than you think, and also touches on a big comic storyline. Annette Bening’s Doctor character also plays a huge role in the movie, but it’s basically a long cameo.

Speaking of cameos, Lee Pace’s Ronan returns in a nothing role, along with Djimon Hounsou’s Korath. Sure Korath is in the Starfleet Force, but the whole team doesn’t really do too much, which is shame since this could have been a cool new team to have set up in the universe. It’s also a waste of Gemma Chan’s Minn-Erva.

Of course, Captain Marvel has had its outcry of blind negatively lately from people who can’t take seeing a female superhero on screen in her own movie. Or because they think the movie will pass along a feminist message. Honestly, either one is really dumb especially considering that the character of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel is very interesting and has some great comic stories. If you honestly give in to these ideas, then how about you actually watch the movie first to form an articulate and meaningful contribution. Is there a message? Probably, and yeah, but it’s not like it takes away from the movie or stops and says “LOOK AT THIS MESSAGE OOO.”

All in all, Captain Marvel is another good addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Brie Larson owns the role of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, and her chemistry with the seamless de-aged Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury keeps the movie up and running. Yes, the movie has flaws, but not enough to really say the movie is bad or the worst movie in the Cinematic Universe. Also, Goose the cat.

Captain Marvel

4 out of 5

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Mini-Reviews: Snatched and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Mini-Reviews. Been a while since I’ve done one of these, so please, bare with me. So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Snatched

Director: Jonathan Levine

Writer: Katie Dippold

Cast: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Tom Bateman, Bashir Salahuddin, Oscar Jaenada and Christopher Meloni

Synopsis: When her boyfriend dumps her before their exotic vacation, a young woman persuades her ultra-cautious mother to travel with her to paradise, with unexpected results.

 

Snatched follows Emily (Amy Schumer), who has not only been fired from her job, but also gets dumped by her boyfriend (Randall Park) and has booked a non-refundable trip to Ecuador. This leads her to go to her overly cautious mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn), to go with her especially after discovering an old photo album that showed a younger Linda on adventures. When Linda finally breaks down, the two end up in Ecuador where they meet a pair of tourists Ruth (Wanda Sykes) and her partner Barb (Joan Cusack), who was in the Special Forces. However, Emily connects with a good looking stranger, James (Tom Bateman) who shows her a good time before taking her and Linda to see the rest of the island. The three end up in an accident with Emily and Linda being held captive, and having to find a way to escape.

The film surprisingly works when it completely goes for ridiculous moments, rather than quick-witted humor. In fact, the ridiculous moments actually made the film more bearable for me to watch. I’ve admitted that I’m not the biggest Amy Schumer fan, but I didn’t let that effect the way I watched the film, and with that said, Schumer isn’t even the funniest person in her own movie. Schumer’s Emily could come off as unlikeable and annoying, and I wouldn’t blame you, but her relationship with Goldie Hawn’s Linda is the main focus of the film.

The mother-daughter dynamic starts off almost immediately and isn’t that bad, but the real deeper moments are far apart and actually feel real and not forced. Its arguments you can with our mothers and the resolution isn’t really always there and a quick answer. Schumer and Hawn handle those scenes so perfectly that for just a brief second you forget the comedy aspect of the film.

One of the things that makes Snatched work is the supporting cast, mainly the chemistry and scenes between Ike Barinholtz’s agoraphobic adult son Jeffrey and a State Department official Morgan Russell played by Basir Salahuddin. Anytime the two are on screen, you will be laughing hard – I know I did. Then there’s Christopher Meloni’s character, Roger Simmons, who I won’t spoil, but I’ll just say this – he’s a great and welcome addition to the ridiculous that is this movie. The same can’t be said for Oscar Jaenada, who plays the man in charge that kidnaps Emily and Linda, is wasted in the film, but it isn’t his film to begin with so I can forgive that.

All in all, Snatched works when it’s over-the-top. Not all the jokes work, and even the ones that do are a little iffy. Even though Amy Schumer is the lead in the film, the supporting cast is what makes this movie work on the levels that it does.

Snatched

3 out of 5

 

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Joby Harold

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Jude Law, Aidan Gillen, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Tom Wu, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay and Eric Bana

Synopsis: Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword starts off with a lengthy opening credits scene showing off Arthur’s father Uther (Eric Bana) facing a powerful Mage attacking his castle. It gives us a tease of the power of the sword Excalibur. After his battle, Uther’s brother Vortigern (Jude Law) plans a coup and kills Arthur’s parents, but not before they were able to send a young Arthur down the river. We jump forward in time and find a now grown up Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), who grew up in a brothel, and with his two friends Wet Stick (Kingsley Ben-Adair) and Back Lack (Neil Maskell) have a good thing going. They protect the girls at the brothel, and take a little bit of money from people on the street. However, when the seas by the castle start to recede, they reveal Excalibur, and Vortigen finds out that the sword has found a new person to wield it and use it against him.

The search wages and eventually Arthur finds his way there. When he pulls the sword from the stone and instantly becomes a target and a legend among the people. Arthur is then saved and works with his father’s old allies in Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), Goose Fat Bill (Aidan Gillen) and The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey). What follows is Arthur coming to terms with not only learning to use the sword and defeat Vortigern, but become the legend the people think he is.

Legend of the Sword has many things working for it. The Guy Ritchie touch is welcomed to a story we’ve heard, read and seen numerous times. One of the best moments in the film is when Arthur and his friends are recounting a story about a troublesome group and what happened – it’s Guy Ritchie at his finest. In fact, the film works better when it’s not focusing on the mystical side of things. Seeing Arthur as a street-level grounded character was a good way to go with his concept.

That’s not to say some things don’t work. When the film goes all in on the mystical side of things, some of it stumbles. The idea that humans and Mages are at war – said at the beginning of the film – doesn’t really pay off for the rest of the film. Other than Vortigern having some powers and the character The Mage, that part isn’t really brought up again. Even some of Voritgern’s powers that are introduced don’t really make too much sense or are never really developed. Speaking of Vortigern, Jude Law does an okay job, but his character isn’t really all that fleshed out.

When it comes to the rest of the cast, Charlie Hunnam does fair job as Arthur. Obviously, it is a different take on Arthur, and Hunnam’s performance is connected to the sword as it shows him the last moments of his parents, which already keeps him up at night. Also, his chemistry with Ben-Adir’s Wet Stick, Maskell’s Back Lack and Bleu Landau’s Blue (son of Back Lack) works really well. Astrid Berges-Frisbey’s The Mage, keeps her cards close to the vest, but her powers are on full display throughout the film. Djimon Hounsou and Aidan Gillen are there to add a boost to the supporting characters, and do a find job at that.

The third act of the film however, is when Ritchie falls into summer box office territory. It goes completely over-the-top with the special effects and mystical side of things. It also gets a little hard to follow and feels a bit out of place even within the perimeters that film has set for itself.

All in all, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword isn’t all that bad. There’s a lot of good concepts within the film, and although some things don’t really work out or are either underdeveloped or not fleshed out enough, the film never falters too much. Needless to say, this isn’t your parents King Arthur.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

3.5 out of 5

May Movie Releases

Hello Boys and Girls!

It’s the beginning of the Summer Movie Season!

What better way to start off this run of movies than a great month of films. We got a lot of films to get to, so let’s get to it!

 

5th

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Sci-Fi Action – Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The Guardians (Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite character from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand. The returning cast includes Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion (playing a different character), Sean Gunn, and Glenn Close. The film’s new cast includes Kurt Russell (Quinn’s father, Ego), Sylvester Stallone, Chris Sullivan, Pom Klementieff, and Tommy Flanagan.

 

 

12th

Limited Release: The Wall

Directed by Doug Liman, an American sharpshooter is trapped in a standoff with an Iraqi sniper. The film was suppose to come out in March, but got pushed back to May, but either way it looks great. The Wall looks like a tension-filled drama I can’t wait to see. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laith Nakli and John Cena.

 

 

Lowriders (Drama – Universal Pictures/BH Tilt/High Top Releasing/Imagine Entertainment)

A young street artist in East Los Angeles is caught between his father’s obsession with lowrider car culture, his ex-felon brother and his need for self-expression. The film stars Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori, Eva Longoria, Melissa Benoist, and Demian Bichir.

 

 

Snatched (Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Cherin Entertainment/Feigo Entertainment)

After being dumped by her boyfriend, Emily (Amy Schumer) decides to take a spontaneous trip with her mother (Goldie Hawn) to Ecuador, where they find themselves kidnapped, escaping and having to go on the run. The film stars Christopher Meloni, Oscar Jaenada, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Bateman, and Wanda Sykes.

 

 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Fantasy Adventure – Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Wilgram Productions/Safehouse Pictures/Weed Road Pictures)

Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film takes the very Ritchie tone to bringing a new take to the classical character Arthur played by Charlie Hunnam. The film sees Arthur, a street-smart brawler who finds himself drawn into a battle when he takes possession of the sword Excalibur. The film stars Jude Law, Annabelle Wallis, Katie McGrath, Djimon Hounsou, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Hermione Corfield, Aidan Gillen and Eric Bana.

 

 

19th

Diary of Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (Family Comedy – 20th Century Fox/Color Force)

Continuing the series based off the books by Jeff Kinney, Greg (Jason Drucker) convinces his family to take a road trip to attend his great grandmother’s 90th birthday as a cover for what he really wants: to attend a nearby gamer convention. Unsurprisingly, things do not go according to plan and the Heffley family antics ensue. The film also stars Charlie Wright, Tom Everett Scott, Owen Asztalos, Carlos Guerrero, and Alicia Silverstone.

 

 

Everything, Everything (Romance Drama – MGM, Alloy Entertainment, Itaca Films)

Based on the novel by Nicola Yoon, a teenager who’s lived a sheltered life because she’s allergic to everything, falls for the boy who moves in next door. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, and Anika Noni Rose.

 

 

Alien: Covenant (Sci-Fi Thriller – 20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions/TSG Entertainment/Brandywine Productions)

The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape. The film looks like it’s finally an Alien prequel, and bloody. Very, very bloody. The cast includes Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo, Demian Bichir, Danny McBride, Callie Hernandez, Noomi Rapace, James Franco, and Guy Pearce.

 

 

25th

Baywatch (Action Comedy – Paramount Pictures/Seven Bucks Productions/The Montecito Picture Company/Cold Spring Pictures/Contrafilm)

Two unlikely prospective lifeguards vie for jobs alongside the buff bodies who patrol a beach in California. Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Ilfenesh Hadera, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Chopra, Hannibal Buress, Pamela Anderson, and David Hasselhoff.

 

 

26th

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Action Adventure – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films/Moving Picture Company)

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) searches for the trident of Poseidon when an old enemy from his past comes to haunt him. The film also stars the returning Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Martin Klebba, Stephen Graham, David Wenham, and Paul McCartney.

 

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘Spy’ Review

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Dir: Paul Feig

Writer(s): Paul Feig

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Serafinowicz, Nargis Kakhri, Morena Baccarin and Allison Janney

Synopsis: A desk-bound CIA analyst volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent diabolical global disaster.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

 

Ever since Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy has been almost the go to woman for big comedy movies. While they weren’t meet with a lot of acclaim like Bridesmaids, McCarthy still tried to do the best she can. Here with Spy, like The Heat, she reunites with writer/director Paul Feig and brings McCarthy back to form and makes her a great, strong, and funny character as oppose to a character that sometimes relies on being dumb or fat jokes. Feig and McCarthy’s Spy is going back to their roots and it is a fun ride.

 

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Spy follows Susan Cooper (McCarthy), a desk-bound CIA agent who assists one of the CIA’s top agents, Bradley Fine (Law). However, when a mission reveals that the top field agents’ identities have been compromised Deputy Director Elaine Crocker (Janney) has no choice but to send an agent that is completely unknown, Susan of course volunteers because she wants to prove herself. The objective is to get close to the daughter of an arms dealer, Rayna Boyanov (Byrne) to get a nuclear bomb off the market before someone buys it. Of course, not everyone thinks Cooper is capable, especially the other top super spy in the agency, Rick Ford (Statham), who thinks sending in Cooper is the worst idea possible and that she’s going to blow the mission.

 

Like I mentioned earlier, McCarthy isn’t playing a dumb character here, her character Susan Cooper is extremely capable of handling herself, yes the movie pokes fun a bit, especially in her covers, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that she is a good agent and is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. That being said, this is McCarthy’s movie. She carries the movie on her shoulders and never shows a sign of giving that up. She shoots out witty one-liners left and right and has no problem pulling punches either. I was surprised that McCarthy could carry herself in action sequences. Easily, one of the highlight action sequences is a kitchen brawl (more on that in minute).

 

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Of course, a great lead always has a great supporting, and Spy is filled with them. Jason Statham easily stands out. Statham’s Rick Ford is the pretty cliché tough guy agent that thinks he’s the best, but is a bit too intense, but it’s fun to see Statham in the role because it’s a lot of fun to see him in it. Miranda Hart is equally great as Susan’s analyst’s friend and has a buddy-cop dynamic with McCarthy’s Cooper, but also carries a lot of heart, even though she’s rather goofy (in a good way). Rose Byrne looks like she is enjoying the entitled posh-like villain and the same goes for Jude Law, who is essentially playing a James Bond-like persona. Peter Serafinowicz’s Aldo is another to look out for too.

 

I give huge credit to Paul Feig, because holy crap did he handle the action sequences great. I don’t like to limit directors or actors to their genre, but finding out that Feig is a huge fan of the action films and spy movies, it completely makes sense when you watch the movie. Spy is filled with great homage’s to the spy genre, but also makes fun of it which is really great and funny to watch.

 

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The action in the movie is pretty solid. I mentioned the kitchen brawl between Susan and Lia (Nargis Fakhri) is easily a highlight. The scene is funny, brutal and kinetic. I didn’t really suspect a fight scene like that being in a comedy movie. It’s a spoof either, it is a real deal fight scene and both ladies don’t hold back. Another highlight is a chase scene that involves Susan chasing down a car in a scooter which is pretty impressive. If Feig ever wanted to do another action comedy, let him do it because he can certainly put it together really well. (Note: Yes, I know he did The Heat which had some action, but nothing compared to Spy.)

 

All in all, Spy stumbles only slightly but for the most part is a hell of a lot of fun to watch. It’s equal part spy action movie and comedy, dare I say the better of the action comedies of late. Feig and McCarthy are a great team and the supporting cast makes the film even better. This is not your typical Melissa McCarthy movie, so go watch it and give it a chance.

 

Spy

4.5 out of 5

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Side Effects Review

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Dir: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones

Synopsis: Emily and Martin are a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist – intended to treat anxiety – has unexpected side effects

 

*Review Note* I’m going to try and review this without giving away too much of the story. So if it feels like I’m not giving you too much to work on there is a reason for it. Also, I wanted to post this sooner but forgot to.

Side Effects has a lot going on, the trailers would make you think one thing but it’s not that entirely, but don’t let that scare you. However, if you’re familiar with Steven Soderbergh’s work (especially his later work like Contagion and even Haywire) you know that’s just the norm. Nonetheless, Soderbergh reunites with Contagion writer Scott Z. Burns to take on pharmacological paranoia and maybe like Contagion is trying to scare the crap out of you to never take a pill again (maybe).

The film is built around Emily Taylor (Mara) who is suffering from severe depression after her husband Martin (Tatum) is released from prison for insider trading. Her depression eventually gets to her and it leads to an event that makes her cross paths with Dr. Jonathan Banks (Law). He eventually puts her in a series of pills that soon turns out to be problematic and leads to some serious problems.

The movie starts off with a nice homage to Hitchcock (Psycho if you need the help), dare I say the whole movie has some Hitchcock elements, and with a very moody score playing throughout it almost sets the mood for at least the first half of the movie.

Rooney Mara once again proves that she can hold her own with the best the Hollywood has to offer and makes feel for Emily as she’s taking all these pills in order to live a normal life again. However, the movie is really about Jude Law’s Jonathan Banks character as his life is turned upside down from what happens after Emily. He almost becomes obsessed himself trying to figure out how all this could have happened to him and to Emily. Catherine Zeta-Jones pops up as Emily’s previous doctor and is really the one that gives Banks the new medication that leads to the whole movie’s outcome.

I think some people will find this movie tough to stick with for the reason that Soderbergh likes to drag some scenes out. But when you see the end result it’s pretty much worth it. The movie has a lot going on and hopefully, if you pay attention to everything, you can get what the hell is and was going on. Stick with the movie and don’t give up.

All in all, Side Effects is filled with great performances and plays with your views on the movie up until the very end

Side Effects

4 out of 5