Movie Review – Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Martin Freeman, and more.

Directed by: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo Screenplay by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely Comic Book by: Mark Millar Based on Characters Created by: Joe Simon and Jack Kirby Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch Music by: Henry Jackman


Premise: The United Nations has introduced a measure to make the Avengers missions fall under an oversight committee. Split on whether this would be a good thing or not, the team suffers a further rift when a bomb explodes during the UN meeting to ratify the measure and a grainy picture of someone resembling Bucky is caught on camera. The UN puts out a find and kill order, but Cap wants to try to bring him in alive. But there’s more going on than any of them realize. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Lots of our favorite people are back and we meet some new ones as well. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. are great together as their characters’ strong wills clash even as they desperately try to cling to their friendship. Scarlett Johansson can speak volumes with a raised eyebrow! Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa was a great choice. And loved to see Martin Freeman thrown into the mix as well. (Especially since his partner Sherlock will be the next Dr. Strange!)

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: Lots to love from the special effects department! The sequence with Tony Stark as an eighteen year old looked just like him! Amazing work.

All the mix of tech and super powers in mass battle looked awesome. Especially with Antman’s couple of surprises at the airport. Talk about a battle! Ant-man playing inside Tony’s armor? Priceless.

The russian lab and the underwater supermax prison were very cool. Both look super tough. And all of Falcon’s awesome toys – I want them! Drool.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: I’d worried a bit about the plot from what I’d seen in the previews. But overall it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared it might be and they did have several surprises. As usual, though, the devil is in the details – and the details tend to be the first thing ignored when it gets in the way of causing trouble. One grainy photo and no one bothers to do actual research and police work? Please. Later it happens, but not where it should have. Most won’t notice the oversight as the non-stop action goes at super speed.

Another minor issue is lack of communication – even amongst willful guys. It was yet another convenient item left out until too late – no one even tried saying Bucky didn’t do it even after he told Cap as much. They were busy, but not that busy. And no one even tried to prove it one way or the other.

A lot of the driving force on the plot is the first initial rift with regards to the UN and the perceived lack of caring by the Avengers. While all these items kept getting brought up about how people were killed and things were destroyed, not once did anyone even try to point out how many more would have died had Wanda done nothing, or how many thousands would have been hurt or killed if they’d let the bad guys run off with the infectious disease they stole. Ultron or the aliens – hundreds of thousands to millions of dead if gone unchecked. While I grieve, and so do the heroes, for the deaths of the innocents, how many more would there have been if the Avengers did nothing? Reality bites, but the facts should not be ignored either.

Aside from that, the driving emotions and personalities seemed pretty spot on. Though the fact they wait to the very end for someone to finally mention Bucky is a VICTIM was yet another omission for convenience. So while I understood Tony’s rage, I couldn’t quite see that he’d go as far as he did because he knew about Bucky’s brainwashing. But for whatever reason friends against friends seem to be the thing in all the plots lately.

Ton of fun moments! Ton of awesome one liners! Great introduction for the Black Panther! Lots of fun interaction between the characters. And I loved Cap’s note to Tony at the end and Tony’s indirect, yet totally meaningful response.

Oh, and Spidey’s suggestion from that “old movie” and them doing it? Awesome!

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: Between the hand-to-hand combat, car chases, stairwell chases, air chases, and more – there is a ton to love from the stunt department. Real and imagined. 🙂

5) Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: Lovely job on the cinematography. Cool angles and some lovely sweeping scenes so we could enjoy the action from any number of vantage points. Nice!

Conclusion: “Captain America: Civil War” is filled with awesome CGI work and magnificent battles and chases. A few bits were a little contrived, but they were in the minority and there were definitely unexpected surprises. This was a fun ride! (Two extra scenes so stay all the way through the credits!)

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Paying Full Price to See Again!)

Movie Review – The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, and more.

Directed by: Jon Favreau Screenplay by: Justin Marks Based on the Novels by: Rudyard Kipling Cinematography by: Bill Pope Music by: John Debney

Premise: When the tiger, Shere Khan, finds out the wolves are protecting Mowgli, a man cub, he gives an ultimatum – give him the child to kill or he will kill other jungle denizens until his will is met. Trying to protect his jungle family, Mowbli leaves with his protector, the panther named Bagheera, who plans to take the boy to a man village where he can be safe from Shere Khan. The ruthless tiger, however, has other plans. (Rated PG)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: The film has a lot of well known actors doing the voices for the animals. All the choices fit quite well. Scarlett Johansson was fabulous as Kaa – she gave the boa constrictor just the right amounts of sexy-scary. Lovely voice during her song as well.

Bill Murray was a great choice for Baloo – he created a lovely impish tone for the character. 🙂 Another fun matchup was Christopher Walken as King Louie – especially when he breaks out in song! lol. Lovely performance.

2) Special Effects/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: The Disney-Pixar team did a great job on the look and feel of the film. The jungle and its different areas felt real and so did the animals. The creatures moved as their real counterparts would and even made their mouth movements look quite natural. Mowgli, the only real person in the film, was seamlessly woven into tapestry created for us with the CGI animation. Nice work!

While some of the animals represented were from familiar species, the animators also brought in many unfamiliar ones as well. Watching the movements and habits of those new species proved quite fascinating!

I totally loved what they did for Kaa and King Louie. Kaa was mesmerizing and the animators came up a lovely way to emulate and make sinister the snake’s hypnotic gaze. Loved how they then took it and swirled the reality of the red flower to show the audience a glimpse into Mowgli’s past. King Louie was huge! The detail on the orangutan was amazing. And wait till you see him move!

There’s a nice bit of fun during the closing credits. (And more Christopher Walker singing! lol.)

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen the Disney’s original animated version of the Jungle Book. I don’t believe I ever read the series the film is based on – so definitely can’t add any opinions from that angle. But for those who grew up with the 1967 animated version, I think you’ll be quite pleased – especially as they actually redid several of the songs from the original.

The film starts you out with action to try to create a sense of urgency but since the audience doesn’t yet know any of the characters, it didn’t seem to come across exactly as intended. No real surprises in the beginning part of the film and despite several tense or dangerous situations, the film didn’t really take off for me until we meet Kaa. Totally adored the whole scene in that part of the jungle. And then matters picked up again once Baloo comes on the scene.

Multiple themes play during the film – family, belonging, being accepted for who you are (or despite what you are), the fact that despite each others’s differences some of them can also be strengths.

My only true complaint was the typical superfast return effect sometimes used in plots. Though it took days to get to where Mowgli ended up (and the fact he got there on ox back and river speed travel), when the time comes form him to come back – he made it in super record time. The something he decided to take along back with him, wouldn’t have lasted that long a trek. You’ll see. Still, overall it, the point is easy to overlook. The film was definitely enjoyable.

Conclusion: If you’re a fan of the old animated film, you’ll find plenty to like and lots to feel nostalgic about. (Bear necessities will follow you home!) Yes, they bring back several of the songs! For those who’ve never seen it, though, you’re in for a neat treat!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

 

Movie Review – Hail, Caesar!

Hail, Caesar!

Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehnrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Veronica Osorio, Heather Goldenhersh, Clancy Brown, Alison Pill, Max Baker, Fisher Stevens, Patrick Fischler, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lambert, and more.

Directed by: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen Written by: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen Cinematography by: Roger Deakins Music by: Carter Burwell

Premise: Eddie Mannix manages all that goes on at Capital Pictures. He makes sure things run smoothly. But when he has to juggle an unmarried pregnant starlet, a lucrative offer from Lockheed, threats from a gossip columnist and a journalist, plus the kidnapping of the main star of the biggest budget picture ever from the studio – Eddie may have finally reached his limit. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Josh Brolin is fun to watch on this film. He embodies the look and feel of the 40’s – a troubled soul with a calling. George Clooney really shows his skills as we see him flip back and forth between semi-brainless Baird Whitlock, bad actor, victim, good actor – he ran the gambit on this film! lol.

Alden Enrenreich was too much fun as Hobie Doyle, especially when he’s trying to act! lol. (Wait till you see his roping skills! Dang!) Top performances from everyone involved. It’s obvious they had way too much fun making this film. Channing Tatum dances AND sings! It was awesome! That sailor musical number was fantastic! (They even added some cool tricks I’d not seen done before. Fab!)

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: Chunks of the film are done ‘old school’ style. Here and there they show pieces of the films being made at Capital Pictures. And they have the same look and feel they would have had if they’d been made in the 40’s. Even some of the reality took on the feel of a 40’s film. 🙂

They also brought out some old but very familiar sound effects. One of them they had to have done just to do it, because otherwise it would not have been heard at all! Think Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. You’ll know when you hear it. 😛

3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up: It’s going to be hard for me to quantify this film. In the true tradition of the 40’s, the tale begins with a voice over and ends in one. And like several movies of the time, it ambles in a general direction but also has a lot of other pins tossed in the air, so you’re never quite sure where everything is headed.

The film is a comedy but is also an encapsulation of the times as well as a giant homage machine. It has a TON of loosely veiled references to other films, studios, personalities, politics – there’s a bit of that and more in there. And though I applaud them for doing it, I think it might also inadvertently hurt how the film does at the box office. I don’t think anyone below the age of 40 will understand and get a lot of what is being presented and why so many bits are funny. I don’t believe they’ll have the knowledge needed to be able to put what they see in context. But I would be quite happy to be wrong about this! 🙂

The brothers touched on all sorts of things – the treatment of writers and other staff by the big studios, Howard Hughes (the mysterious backer of Capital Pictures perhaps?), the film Hell’s Angels, the big musical’s of the times, Roy Roger, Gene Kelly, religion, the scandal and gossip, communist accusations, the wrecking of careers (The Majestic is not only an awesome movie but it shares a ton of info on this controversial time in Hollywood, too!). A ton of scenes and locations of the films being made will seem familiar, poking at your memories.

Some neat duality was woven into the themes, which at times made certain moments truly ironic. Eddie struggles with the fact he lies to his wife about smoking and feels the need to confess and be absolved for this, but giving money to squash rumors, lying to keep from getting bad press, or keeping on the good side of the cops is just everyday life. The oppressed men who are part of “The Future” are raging at the system, but in the end, they willingly play the same role as before (even as they convince themselves they’re free) – the working class toiling for those above them, and getting next to nothing for their efforts.

The film is also a view behind the curtain. The audience normally only sees the finished product, the dream as it was envisioned. But this film loves to set the audience to get caught in films being made then yanks the curtain open, forcibly pulling us from the fabrication back to their reality.

4) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: The cinematography was great. From the too close overdone filming to spanning vistas, it was all embroiled with new and old techniques. They even throw in cheesy stuff that for the times would have been top of the line tech. Nice!

5) Costuming/Makeup – Total Thumbs Up: The costuming and makeup department did a phenomenal job. Not only did they bring out the fashions for the time, but also made the actors and actresses look like top stars of the 40’s and recreated costumes that would look close to those actually used in the films.

Conclusion: “Hail, Caesar!” is a fun film full of all things Hollywood in the early 40’s, making it a time capsule of sorts. Top performances by everyone. Younger viewers may not enjoy it as much, though the musical bar scene and Hobie’s horseriding and lasso handling are totally worth seeing.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)