Friday, April 4, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Produced by Kevin Feige
Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson
Released: April 4, 2014
Runtime: 2 hr, 16 min
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout

    I’ve never really been the biggest fan of Captain America as a character, at least his cinematic representations; I just don’t find him all that interesting when you compare him to his fellow Marvel characters like Iron Man and the Hulk, or DC characters like Batman who know...flawed and believable human beings. He’s a nice guy, but is there ever a moment where you ask yourself if Captain America is going to do something that isn’t selfless and the absolute right thing to do, no matter what the cost? No, because when the central trait of your character is literally that he’s the apex of goodness in a human being, that doesn’t leave much moral wiggle room. With that said, there is absolutely no denying that his newest vehicle, The Winter Soldier, is not only a dang good Marvel movie, but a dang good action movie and, surprisingly, political thriller. Period. It combines the superb action sequences and humor that we’ve come to expect from the MCU with politically relevant questions and a twisty plot that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 Oscar Picks

86th Academy Awards Picks

    Well, with the Oscars a little under a week away, I figured that it was about high time for me to get my picks out there. This year has a surprisingly high number of categories where it could go one of two ways, so this year I will not only be putting up my guess for the winner is, but I will also be putting up a runner-up as a type of insurance for my pride. Explanations will be added for the big categories as well as wherever else I think they are needed. With that said, here are my picks for the winners of the 86th Academy Awards.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Oblivion (2013)

Oblivion Review

Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Produced by Joseph Kosinski, Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Barry Levine, and Duncan Henderson
Written by Karl Gajdusek and Michael DeBruyn
Based on Oblivion by Joseph Kosinski
Starring Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Melissa Leo
Released: April 19, 2013
Runtime: 2 hr, 4 min
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity

    Oblivion is one of those strange movies where there are aspects of it that are legitimately frickin’ awesome, but most of the rest of it falls into the low meh to high ugh categories. Director Joseph Kosinski proved with 2010’s TRON: Legacy that he was a visually talented director who still needed to work on handling plot and character development. In both of those aspects, Oblivion is very much like it’s predecessor. The production design and visual effects are both stunning, Oscar-worthy even, and is an improvement on the already impressive effects we saw in TRON. That said, the characters are pretty thin, and the story is bogged down by so many nonsensical twists that by the end of the movie it’s hard to care about what’s going on. And in that way, Oblivion is actually something of a downgrade.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gravity (2013)

Gravity Review

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Produced by Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman
Written by Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón
Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
Released: October 4, 2013
Runtime: 1 hr, 31 min
Rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images, and brief strong language

    Remember that first shot of the Brachiosaur in Jurassic Park? Dr. Grant and Dr. Sadler are staring in awe at something off screen that we can tell is totally awesome, but can't see ourselves? Hammond gives the “Welcome to Jurassic Park” line, John Williams' score swells, and the camera cuts to one of the biggest “Holy crap” shots cinema has ever given us. For me, everything about that shot is perfect. We know that dinosaurs have been extinct for quite a while, but for a few moments, moviegoers everywhere completely forgot about that and simply let the awesomeness that is Jurassic Park wash over them. Now, take the spine-tingling, immersive nature of that single shot, stretch it out over a solid ninety-one minutes, and you get Gravity, which may just be one of the most atmospheric (no pun intended, and it will not be intended throughout the entirety of the review) films ever produced.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thor: The Dark World (2013)


Directed by: Alan Taylor
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely
Based on: Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins
Released: November 8, 2013
Reviewed: November 22, 2013
Runtime: 1 hr, 52 min
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content

I’m lazy; I didn’t write reviews over the summer. Let’s get to this one.
After The Avengers became one of the highest grossing films of all time, as well as one of the biggest geekfests of awesome to ever touch the silver screen, Marvel Studios had it’s work cut out for it. It had to prove that Phase One of their cinematic universes was not a fluke, and that their shared universe could continue after the massive team-up that was the culmination of years upon years of effort. Fans eagerly awaited the first film, and theeennn...Iron Man 3 happened. Iron Man 3: which became one of the most controversial films of the past decade. Iron Man 3: which brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “love it or hate it”. Iron Man 3 happened, and people didn’t know what to think. And so, it fell to Thor: The Dark World to make up people’s mind on Phase Two. It had to prove to the people who liked Iron Man 3 that Phase Two officially had its legs under it, and it had to prove to the people who considered Iron Man 3 a disgrace to comic book films as a whole that the good folks at Marvel hadn’t lost what made Phase One so special. Did it do the job? Well, kinda…

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Directed by J.J. Abrams
Produced by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci
Written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof
Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, John Cho, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Peter Weller, and Anton Yelchin
Based on Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence
Runtime: 2 hr, 12 min
Released: May 16, 2013

    I realize that this is late, and that most people who were going to see this movie have probably already seen it, but screw it. I put time into this so it’s going up.
Confession time: I have never seen an episode of the original Star Trek series. I have never seen an episode of Next Generation. Not Deep Space Nine. Not Voyager. Not Enterprise. Not one frame. Therefore, the extent of my knowledge comes from the Internet, word of mouth, and The Big Bang Theory. There, now that any Star Trek fans that were reading this review are gone, I can continue. I’ve seen a few of the Star Trek movies before, sure, but I just never really got into the show. I’m sure it’s good sci-fi, I just really don’t have the time or the inclination to get into a series with such deep mythology. That said, I did enjoy the movies I’ve seen, especially the remake, so I was pretty excited for this movie. What did I think? Let’s find out.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man Review

Directed by Marc Webb
Produced by Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad, and Matt Tolmach
Written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field
Based on Spiderman by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence
Runtime: 2 hr, 16 min
Released: July 3, 2012

I can still remember the day that it was announced that Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 4 was cancelled...and then in the same breath a reboot of the series entitled The Amazing Spider-Man was being put into production. I was pretty young then, but even I saw that it was a pretty obvious cash grab, and a cheap one at that. There’s a certain amount of time that has to pass for a reboot to actually be a reboot. Usually this is enough time for a new generation to come along, one that doesn’t know the story of the original, even if the original is something as culturally iconic as Spiderman. In any case, I saw the movie about a week after it came out, though I wasn’t exactly keen to. What did I think? I thought it was okay...ish... Let me go into a little detail. (I’m going to be drawing a few comparisons to the Raimi Spiderman movies, seeing as it’s basically impossible not to. These comparisons will not influence my overall grade on the movie, however.)