Let’s face it, I really suck at updating this website. Something about how I would rather be watching The Flash or Supergirl on CW or eating lobsterthermidor in my pajamas:
Anyway, I suppose I have a real “job” (actually two), but I still enjoy writing about movies so much. Besides, I imagine hardly anything happened while I wasn’t doing this.
What in the holy windstorm? This is not right and I will boycott his death – #NotMyCorpse
Well that sort of puts a damper on things. One of my top favorite actors dies of complications from surgery. There are not supposed to be complications, that’s why it’s performed by a real licensed surgeon. Rest in Peace Mr. Paxton, you’re where tornadoes, aliens, or Kevin Bacon can’t get you. Well, there isn’t anything that could possibly make me feel better after that bit of news.
Oh, a new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer. And I know that James Gunn didn’t invent the trailer with a catchy song played over it (in case you were wondering, this time it’s Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’), but until he did the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. We were introduced to misfits, Chris Pratt, and “a bunch of a-holes” while the tune of Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on a feeling’ was burrowing inside of our ears like a disgusting vagina monster.
Like I said, that trailer didn’t break any new ground, but I don’t believe we’d have a sequel (let alone Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and a freaking INFINITY WAR AVENGER’S FILM) if it wasn’t for that trailer. I know Iron Man was what started this whole Marvel (then Disney) train, but since when did Robert Downey Jr. help spawn this:
The rest of the beautiful trailer is guns, gadgets, one-liners, cute tree creatures, and Kurt Russell doing his best visual impression of Jeff Bridges:
Of course it looks incredible and no one is likely to miss Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but in the worst segue ever, it’ll never win an Oscar.
That was the big news was that of all the critically acclaimed films nominated for Best Picture, Bonnie and Clyde themselves, stole the Oscar and gave it to La La Land. We don’t know if Faye Dunaway (Bonnie) or Warren Beatty (Clyde) did it on purpose , but La La Land wasn’t the winner. Come to find out that Moonlight actually won the Oscar for Best Picture. And in the classiest move since The Queen Tweeted to her Country last year, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz announced that the real winner was Moonlight.
My personal choice would have been Hidden Figures, but honestly, I only saw one of the other films that were nominated, so in this case, you really shouldn’t take this film reviewer’s opinion (although Hidden Figures really is amazing). While the Academy is still science fiction adverse (umm, Arrival), I had my own personal “Best Picture” in 2016…
In 1977, the world at large was introduced to a beautiful and bright eyed 19-year-old girl in the science fiction/fantasy saga known as Star Wars. There were many beloved figures in that film and the subsequent sequels, prequels, and even cartoons, but to many, none shown so bright as a star than Carrie Fisher. Today, December 27th, 2016, that starlight has vanished when, after a heart attack just a few days ago, she passed away.
Like many of you, and myself, this will be a heartbreaking affair. Not only did we love Carrie Fisher and her work, but have grown up knowing her as Princess Leia. There are a few things about her work that some forget to acknowledge and even admire. As I was not born yet, but raised on the Disney Princesses, I had an idea of what a Princess should be. Looking back at the Star Wars films as an adult, Carrie Fisher and the writers had already re-imagined what a Princess should be and absolutely what they could be.
I don’t have many words as this is a close loss of an actor as I’ve seen in a while and at the age of 60, Carrie was relatively young. I do want to draw your attention to a few things that Carrie loved and cared about over the years and perhaps you’ll get a glimpse of her as a person.
Her latest book, The Princess Diarist, which can be purchased here, show another side of the actress we all grew up loving. Carrie’s struggle with addiction and mental illness made her respected in the acting community as she was willing to speak open and honestly about what so many of us have have struggled with through the years. I believe her having the courage to be self-deprecating and share her pain is something that should be admired. She was an active advocate of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and if you feel the need to share something with the Princess you loved, go there are donate so that so many can benefit from their, and her, support.
Other than her charities and causes, Carrie Fisher had a few true loves in her life. One being her daughter, Billie Catherine Lourd, who actually had a brief cameo appearance in The Force Awakens. Then there was Gary Fisher, her pet dog who was there with her everywhere she went and stayed by her side til the end. And when she took Gary as her date to the premier of The Force Awakens, it was a love that all could see and easily identify with due to their own love of their pets. I’m sure we will all mourn for her, but pet parents will know that Gary, who has his own Instagram page, will be particularly lost without his mother.
There are not many things left to say about the great Carrie Fisher, but I hope that you were able to learn a little more about the person behind the Princess who stole our hearts so many years ago. You will be missed Carrie Fisher and we here at IWTMM thank you for your contribution to film and to society as a whole.
It’s been a long time since your Uncle Darkmovienight had anything of substance to say, but waking up this morning to a brand new Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer was just the kick in the pants this old reviewer needed to get out of bed, grab some coffee, oatmeal, and laptop and toss out a few hundred words!
So in this new and beautiful trailer, we’re treated to a little more of Jyn Erso and her rousing speeches, which will surely inspire the tiny Rebellion to take on the massive Empire in all out war. We also get a look at how the brilliant Mads Mikkelsen is involved in this prequel to the original Star Wars: A New Hope.
Just tiny bits of musing from the trailer:
They said the name of the movie in the trailer! You know it’s going to be quality when that happens.
Gotta love the menacing walk of Darth Vader to the nameless White Shirt. Will always admit, Vader walking full speed at anyone is just terrifying.
Also, speaking of Vader, watching the character of Director Orson Krennic, portrayed by the talented Ben Mendelsohn, seemingly pleading and yelling at the Dark Lord of the Sith shows how passionate he is about this “technological terror”. Makes me wonder where he is when Tarkin is talking about it in A New Hope.
The money shot of the trailer is really the hazy view we get of the completed Death Star rising above the clouds (it’s around the 1 minute mark if you want to see what I’m talking about, but it’s not like you’re going to watch the trailer multiple times or anything…
So there we have it, another fantastic trailer in the books from the House of Mouse and Lucasfilm. From all the hubbub about re-shoots and changing composers, I believe everyone needs to temper their expectations just a bit. I don’t think it’ll be a train-wreck, but I also don’t think it’s going to be anywhere near what J.J. Abrams accomplished with Episode VII. Remember, we’re watching a film directed by the young Gareth Edwards who only has 7 film credits to his name thus far, so we’ll see what he can do.
But if you’re like me, your butt is going to be firmly planted in a seat when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story releases on December 16th.
PS- Need to apologize to all those that suckle at the breast of I Watch Too Many Movie‘s reviews. We’ve done a terrible job at keeping you up to date with the film world.
Although I also blame Hollywood since there really hasn’t been a film of note since Suicide Squad, and when that’s the benchmark, we all know this has been a lousy year of movie-going. But we’ll try to do our best to update things more and get everyone involved again, especially with a Holiday Season packed with a new Marvel film, some movie about talking to aliens, a new Harry Potter film, new animated Ethnic Disney Princess film, one based on a Video Game Series, and even a film featuring the voice of Liam Neeson! So we’ll keep you up to date and these films plus more reviewed in the next few months.
Promised that I wouldn’t let movie goers spend their money on Suicide Squad unless me, Darkmovienight, told you what a common human might think. And as much as I hate rating systems, I have to use one here. I give Suicide Squad a “B-” First off, what that rating means is that the film could have been much better, but by no means the trainwreck it was made out to be. Watching Suicide Squad was like practicing for something REALLY hard (1st half of the movie) and then cheating like a Russian Olympian and making all that practice wasted time. Critics that didn’t like the movie are just calling it out on cheating.
Give you some quick assurances: Leto was not a bad Joker but ends up low on the pile because the other actors who played the role were just amazing…also, they had more than 10 minutes of screen time (seriously, that’s what he got), so not enough to condemn or laud.
Harley Quinn was exactly what you want her to be. The character was perfect, but got just a bit annoying towards the end…just like you should EXPECT of Harley Quinn!
Will Smith brought his A-Game, so he wasn’t just collecting a paycheck. The other actors, did what they did and we’re likable or not shown enough to be cared about.
The action was fun but honestly, there was not enough and they could have been far more creative with these characters than they were. Yes, it was funny, but not hilarious. If you’ve read the comics, then you’d know the Squad is NOT zany and have your expectations set to “chuckle worthy” .
Something I loved was the films use of music for each character. Well done Mr. Ayer on that choice. Also, the cinematography during the scenes with the Joker were awesome. Really for the first time, the audience got to feel what it was like to experience “Joker Gas”, but not the laughing kind. I hope it’s done again in the Ben Affleck’s solo Batman films.
My problems: pacing. Too long to explain here, but the 3rd and 4th act seemed like they had pages ripped out of the script. Ayer should have known better but I felt his odd pacing like in his film Fury. Also, as subject material goes, I honestly don’t feel the need for gore and violence just for the sake of it, but I bet you anything that they heard people complain Batman vs. Superman was too dark, they made this film a hell of a lot lighter. Which in Suicide Squad‘s case was a huge mistake. This should have been Deadpool level violence, cursing, and R Rated. Deadpool is just an antihero, the Squad is full of VILLAINS. They deserved to be let off the leash but there had to be a knee-jerk reaction from DC’s last outing.
Lastly, I have to say that DC is confused. They released the movie for review and the critics murdered it. Most companies that know a film will be a critical disaster put a hold on reviews until the day of release, but DC didn’t do that. What that tells me is that test audiences liked what they saw and DC let the reviews go out normally. When they came out atrocious, but test audiences enjoyed it, they just don’t know what the hell to do.
Didn’t have time to read my fancy words? Read this summary.
So, B-, if you are interested, go see it. You’ll have fun and come out and look for the Suicide Squad comics, and in my opinion, that’s the true success of a comic film.
Morning Bleary-Eyed fans, hope everyone had an excellent weekend…well, at least better than Sony did with the new Ghostbusters film. Only have time for a quick recap of last weekend’s Box Office results, but I really have to apologize for the lack of posts recently and of course I want to spend just a moment to mourn all the lives lost in the past few weeks. I love films more than a lot of things, but escapism right now feels, I don’t know, wrong. Especially when so many are suffering. Now I don’t want to speak for anyone other than myself (Manchicken has his own opinions), and it’ll be quick. So just as simple as it can be: Black Lives Matter, White Lives Matter, All Minority Lives Matter, and NO ONE deserves to die at the hand of another other, absolute extreme circumstances notwithstanding.
Also, to keep in the spirit with the subject of the website, but honestly, they had the answer to the future’s woe’s back in 1989. It was in a slacker time travel comedy that starred a young Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, called Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure:
It’s not often that we find a film which starts with a person who’s about to hang themselves on a deserted island. Less frequent still are those which follow it up with a fart joke montage. This is such a film.
We start with Hank (Paul Dano) stuck on an island, by himself. He looks to be in poor condition, suffering from exposure to the elements, dehydration, hunger, and depression. As he’s about to yield himself to the mercy of the rope he notices a person who washed up. After he slips and damn-near succeeds in his now-aborted suicide attempt (rope breaks, he survives, watch the trailer), he races to the person (Manny, played by Daniel Radcliffe) only to find out that he is dead. He attempts to resuscitate the person with no success.
Despite his unsuccessful resuscitation attempt, Hank finds Manny useful in a number of ways, most of which I couldn’t begin to do justice to here. I will say that the fart joke is a common theme throughout, they were really committed to that.
The acting in this film was amazing. Daniel Radcliffe pulls off “dead,” and in-so-doing really caused me to spend some time thinking about what a challenge actually playing dead would really be. His character, Manny has a lot of experiences which Radcliffe really does well.
Hank is played by Paul Dano, who I never really paid that much attention to in the past but now is on my list of actors I follow. While some of the plot points and character development for Hank were cliché – we get it, you’re a smart, lonely and shy person; get over yourself Hank! – the delivery was incredible. You don’t expect to find sexual tension in a film with a man stranded on a deserted island and his best buddy corpse, but here it is and it was pretty good.
While I want to say that Sarah (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a tired love interest, she really played an interesting part near the end where the motivation of her character is to be profoundly creeped out and disturbed. She did that well, just as she did in 10 Cloverfield Lane (which I still totally need to review, though I watched it and so should you).
This film had one weak point: the ending. Everything up until the ending was amazing: the acting, the plot (minus cliché shy loser character), the photography, the sound, the music – I’ll get to the music in a moment! – and even the incredible lighting effects they had in the aquatic scenes… and then they had to destroy it with a unsatisfying ending.
I will not tell you the ending of this film, it’s worth watching to see the ending, and you won’t understand what I mean about how unsatisfying it is until you’ve seen the full epic. I will help you imagine it though.
Do you remember Big Fish? Do you remember the endearing scene at the end where all of the people who were in the father’s stories showed up to send him off? Well, it kinda seems like they tried to do that, except instead of fanciful characters from stories, it’s a smattering of awkward characters vaguely referenced from earlier in the film. While they’re going for an endearing finale, it falls flat and even has a smattering of child endangerment. It’s not great.
One thing that this film really excelled at was music. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe themselves perform a lot of the music in the film, and it’s all quite well done. I know that many folks don’t always focus that much on the soundtrack, but you’ll miss out on this film if you do not. I can’t wait to go to work tomorrow to see if I can find this soundtrack on Spotify or iTunes.
All-in-all this is an excellent movie. They won Sundance, and they really just hit it out of the park. I really enjoyed this film, and the fact that this film could be poorly summarized to being a 97 minute fart joke adds to that enjoyment.
I found the music on Spotify, I encourage you to check it out. It’s pretty sweet.
In a summer where we’ve had Marvel’s Civil War, DC’s Batman vs. Superman, and even epic Netflix show Daredevil Season 2, I’m actually starting to see the fatigue about superhero films. Not that any one of those I mentioned above were bad, in fact, I thought all of them were pretty awesome, but I will finally give into the roar of those having said there is too much out there.
Anyway, onto X-Men: Apocalypse.
I will say that I had a larger measure of excitement for this film for several reasons. First, I just could not wait to see another one of Evan Peter’s Quicksilver moments. Seriously, when I first saw X-Men: Days of Future Past, I wholeheartedly wanted to rewind the actual theater film to see it again and I doubt anyone would have complained. Instead I just saw it in theaters another time before the Blu-Ray. The next expectation was actually being a little bit in the dark about this villain and stories revolving around him.
Now after seeing the film, I have to give it up again to Evan Peters and Brian Singer. I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to top the last Quicksilver scene. And just because I love it, this was the first one:
I’ve sure you’ve all seen it, but it’s just too cool. Absolutely one of the best scenes I’ve seen done in any action film in the past few years. Now, with as amazing as that was, Peters’ scene was 10 times better and his role was expanded (one of the fatal flaws from the last X-Men). So, for my enjoyment, the scene in Apocalypse was worth the price of admission right there. So, it’s easy for me to say if your favorite part in Days of Future Past was Quicksilver’s, I don’t have to say anything else, go see X-Men: Apocalypse.
So my next level of excitement was built upon being a bit ignorant of Apocalypse himself. Also, while watching the trailers, I couldn’t help but think “How the hell can they stop this seemingly ‘world-ending’ event?” It just looked like the stakes were really extreme and this team had never faced such a force.
This is where I felt the problems started. The “world-ending” event created by Apocalypse and Magneto sure looked and sounded cool, but I really just didn’t feel anything for “the world”. That’s an odd way of saying it, but the stakes around the world in the film seemed too cutoff. The final confrontation just didn’t measure up to what was promised. Lead me to being a bit disappointed.
For me, the “meh” ending left a sour taste in my mouth that likely colored most of my feelings for the film. Have said that, the cast really still gels at all times. James McAvoy is doing such a good job progressing as Xavier, each film he grows up and gets more hopeful for a world with mutants and humans. I really like his take and as long as he’s in the role, I’ll never worry.
Fassbender continues to be the absolute best actor in these films. His tortured past, the way he speaks to the other mutants, and even how he undulates between extreme violence to essentially being an awesome construction worker is amazing. It seems that Singer has something out for Magneto because nothing good ever comes to this guy. No spoilers here, but even attempting to live a normal life, he gets no brakes from Brian Singer or the writers. It’s enough to almost make you feel really sad for the guy, but still, you know him as the consummate villain in X-Men.
Everyone else does a great job, but it feels like a bit of the dialogue was just phoned in by both the actors and the writers. They spent a lot of time with the principal characters that you’d know from the other films and gave very little to the new additions. Olivia Munn certainly looked like Psylocke, but I can’t even remember if she completed a full sentence. It was pretty much that way for everyone else new. Also, as much as I was excited to see some new, younger blood play the characters of Storm, Cyclops, Jean Grey (more on her later), and Nightcrawler, there was a feeling of them retreading the same ground…just with more teen angst and outfits.
My last few thoughts are still on the cast. It’s hard not to love Jennifer Lawrence, but her Mystique was more Katniss this round than anything else. I just have a feeling they don’t know how to use the character in this most recent series. I just still cannot see a connection between Lawrence’s Mystique and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos’ version in the initial movie in 2000. Of course Brian Singer could still find a way to make her hate so much that she’d become that person. It won’t be anytime soon with Singer taking a break from the franchise.
One of the things I must say is that it wouldn’t be an X-Men movie without it staring or having Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine showing up. I have to say that I really enjoyed the route they went in this film. It was actually so cool and in light of an “R-Rated” Wolverine movie hitting soon, it makes me that much more excited for that film and not being bothered with the level of violence it could showcase.
Finally, we have to talk about Sansa Stark Jean Grey. Sophie Turner does what she can to make the role about a troubled mutant with too much power, but it just doesn’t come through. Anyone who has ever picked up an X-Men comic or watched the first trilogy knows where this is going. The Dark Phoenix is pretty much the only interesting thing for Jean Grey, but ever since the 1990’s cartoon, I just can’t take any more of that storyline. Seriously, the fatigue I have takes up more space in my head that I can no longer remember my mother’s face.
The rest just had to deal with Apocalypse himself. When you have Hollywood’s latest “Best Actor Ever”, the least you could do is give him some real meat to work with. Sadly, Oscar Isaac is just lost in the film and unfortunately, as the main villain, he was pretty lame. Maybe they didn’t portray him correctly, I mean, I don’t know squat about his character in the comics, but he just seemed like he had unlimited telekinesis and picked out four random bodyguard mutants. There just wasn’t anything special about him. At least when the X-Men are fighting Magneto or Trask and his Sentinels, then it’s an ideological fight where this was just a destruction measuring contest with Roland Emmerich. And sorry Singer, you lose that award.
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:
If you love Evan Peters’ Quicksilver or Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, you should be sold on this film. Even casual X-Men fans will enjoy this and anyone enjoying the superhero genre films will like it. But, if you’ve already taken in Deadpool, Batman vs. Superman, Civil War, and are really excited for Doctor Strange later this year…then RedBox wouldn’t be such a bad idea for this one. Even with all the typical X-Men charm on display.
We don’t have much in the realm of content this morning (while I will do the updated box office since we have some really cool numbers to go over), but based on the recent success of Disney/John Favreau’s The Jungle Book, I wanted to show off Disney’s latest live action update.
Since Maleficent (which was more of a “behind-the-scenes” version of Sleeping Beauty), Disney has been on a constant string of success with their live-action material from their animated films. Like last year’s Cinderella:
To this years’ epic The Jungle Book, it’s now hard to ignore the charm and actually faithfull filmmaking going into these new live-action adaptations.
In 2017, Disney hopes that we will enjoy another update of a classic tale and bring the same care along with it. As short as it is, I give you the very cinematic looking Beauty and the Beast teaser trailer:
I’m not sure if you saw the same teaser I did, but from the very beginning, with the cold and snow sweapt castle and the lone light at the top of the tower in the Disney logo, I was hooked.
I only have a few comments regarding the teaser. First off, I’m not sure Ewan McGregor (portraying the sex-feind candalabra Lumiere) knows what a French accent actually is. Hopefully his Jedi training will kick in and he’ll change a bit. On the opposite spectrum, you have Ian McKellen’s Cogworth using every aspect of Magneto and Gandalf to not giving a flipping crap about what a French accent might be. Even the titular star, Emma Watson as Belle doesn’t even try. I will not say she’s stuck as Hermoine from the Harry Potter films, but I’d like the actors to do something like, oh I don’t know, THEIR JOB!
Secondly, I have to give Disney such props by allowing Alan Menken to do the music for this film. The reason I say that is that, is Menken also did the score to the 1991 Animated Beauty and the Beast. It’s almost as if Disney is daring you to call them on it.
Finally, I have to get excited with them choosing Bill Condon to direct the film. While he does have a few Twilight movies on his resume, we can’t hold mistakes against people who lose bets all the time. The films he did that are spectacular far outweight anything else.
So, I’m excited that one of my favorite Disney films is getting updated with excellent actors, a competent director, and a fantastic (yet repetitve) scoremaster. Now, if only they would only do my favorite Disney film:
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” – Stephen King, “The Gunslinger”.
The first sentence in what would become an epic sprawling book series created over several decades.
In my middle school years, I discovered an author who would change the course of my life. As the terrible and disturbing years that counted as my adolescence gave way to an awkward period of pubescence, not many things were what you would call “comfort”.
After using “reading material” (and I use that term loosely) to indulge in teenage desires, I soon found that certain genres took me away from the hell of bullying, school, and you know, general Middle School BS. For me, Stephen King and his World’s did that. The first novel I read was “The Green Mile”. I was inspired by Michael Clarke Duncan’s (may he rest in peace) performance as the unfortunate victim of racism and fear. Not only did I feel a connection with Duncan’s character, John Coffey, but once the prose was displayed upon paper, I was forever enchanted by Mr. King and eventually became a “Constant Reader” as he likes to put it. Now, obviously, I could not relate to the character in form of race, but being an outsider was simply a feeling that has never left me, even through to this day.
My second run-in with Mr. King’s work was a bit different. After finishing “The Green Mile” on vacation in Colorado, I was brought along to a used bookstore in which I discovered the first three volumes of Mr. King’s dark fantasy series: The Dark Tower. The odd tale of a “Authurian-Like” figure going on a journey through time, multiple dimensions, and the supernatural grabbed me and enveloped my feelings and thoughts. It took me almost another decade before I was able to finish the series (King began the series formally in 1982 and it was finished in 2004), but every step of Roland, The Gunslinger’s journey was my own as well. I know many a person that feels the same way.
Then in 2012, Warner Brothers and Ron Howard announced they wanted to take on a huge project with a hybrid film/television version of The Dark Tower series. HBO, one of the sister companies of WB would air the show and WB would distribute the film. This ambitious announcement was also met with an announcement that Javier Bardem:
the creepiest creep
that ever creeped) was originally set to play Roland, but that fell through and Russell Crowe was given the option for the role. That also fell through and everyone’s favorite weirdo actor, Matthew McConaughey was offered a role in the film, which many thought of him portraying The Gunslinger Roland as a given.
Well, WB backed out, and four years later, we’re staring down the sandalwood grip pistols of a joint Sony/Media Rights Capital/Columbia Pictures amalgamation filming right now! That’s right, the start of The Dark Tower film is happening as you read this. Directed by a relative unknown, Nikolaj Arcel, who’s most notable credit comes from writing the screenplay of the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This is an odd and bold move, but clearly Sony trusts this man and with Stephen King providing the bones, there is a lot that can go south, but let’s choose to ignore until the film is finished and we’re strapped in for a unique ride.
With all of that, the actual news of this story is, yesterday, we were given the first images of Roland himself, portrayed by Idris Elba, an actor whom Stephen King himself called “One of the Best Actors” Working Today. High praise from such a legend. So without further ado, see our “hero” for the first time:
All of these images come curtosey of Twitter (Mr. Elba’s I do believe) and if you’re familiar with the books or now intrigued by them, Idris Elba looks glorious as Roland, The Gunslinger. Now you cannot have a protagonist without an antagonist. This character first comes in the form of “The Man in Black” as mentioned above. And while he didn’t get the lead role in the film, none other than Matthew McConaughey himself was cast opposite Idris Elba.
I realize this post doesn’t give much for the non-reader, but please understand that there is a massive following for these books and I encourage you, if you enjoy dark fantasy, science fiction, and any novel Stephen King has ever written, The Dark Tower is for you. And as one of the main protagonists says: “Go then, there are other worlds than these.” -Jake Chambers, “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King.
A friend just mentioned to me something that rang true. It was something along the lines of: “I think it’s dumb that they made people ‘Pick a side with the whole #Team______ stuff’. Especially if people picked #TeamIronman when you come to find out Tony is running his suits off of puppies.”
That’s where we start this review, Iron Man grinding up puppies for energy, you know this will be a fun one. (A note from Future Darkmovienight, this review is our longest yet @ over 3k words. I talk a lot about other things than the film, so feel free to skip to the bottom and read my recommendation. -Sincerely, a man with sore fingers and bleeding eyes.)
After the disappointing combination of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in March, it was time to see what Marvel had to offer. Pretty much anyone who had been paying attention the last few years would have known that Marvel was likely to knock it out of the park. And honestly, they did. I will say, Captain America: Civil War, did showcase one of my tenants of films: expectations vs. actual reaction. The expectations were so high for this film, and it met those expectations. This results in just enjoyment of a film. Unlike Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when no one really knew what to expect and it blew the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe into smithereens and left the collective minds of all fans splattered on top of the theater ceilings.
I’m going to do my best to not spoil anything in this film, which might be a moot point since it did $181.8M at the box office this past weekend, so most of you have already seen it and wouldn’t be spoiled. For the rest of you, I really think you’ve either made up your mind to see this film, or you don’t like superhero films. Either way, I’m going to focus on a bit of the argument in general, the standout characters, and some absolutely beautiful effects.
There are a couple things I want to mention about the box office numbers that Civil War brought in this weekend. In May, Marvel movies have completely dominated. Last year, Age of Ultron opened the same weekend and beat Civil War by $10M ($191M opening), and before that, it almost doubled Winter Soldier‘s $95M opening. All gigantic numbers for kicking off the Summer Movie Season. However, I really would like to point out that in March, Batman vs. Superman drew in $166M, a mere $21M less that Civil War. This tells me two things, audiences have absolute zero superhero fatigue and if anyone tries to use that argument, take a used toilet plunger and cover their mouth with it as they don’t know what they’re talking about.
The second thing all these box office numbers tell me is that professional reviews don’t matter. For years, film advertisers have been using little tricks to make a movie look better than it actually is. For instance, if a film has ridiculously bad reviews, they’ll either take the one good review and quote it, or twist the words of a terrible review. Reading my review of Green Room from last week, you know I hated it, but as an example someone could have used this line to change the tone of my review: “Anyway … the movie was filmed well. That does show Saulnier’s talent.” All I had to take out was “…the only thing I can really establish was the movie…” You see how it’s a much different line without my qualifier? Well, that’s how promoters have done it for quite a while. Can’t blame them, they’re just doing their jobs. However, I have seen many a trailer with “Twitter Review” in the TV spots after a film has released. Check out the TV spot for this poor excuse of a comedy “Let’s Be Cops” from last year:
First review on screen is by a Twitterer?, Twittest?, Twit?, who goes by the handle @lanvinpierre. His “reaction is simple “Holy F****** S***”. Then we have the intellectual comments of a one @KKlarl, who has this to say: “Too Damn Funny”. Also don’t forget the amazing film critic @edgar leyva04 (who no longer has an account) which explains the nuances with “A Bada$$ Movie”. I really wish I had made up the “$$” for “SS”, but I didn’t. They go onto add two more to the list. Now let’s see what Richard Brody (Top Critic from the New Yorker) said: “The chillingly gung-ho darkness that Johnson lends his comic riffs would be the story, if only the director, Luke Greenfield, didn’t play the movie solely for laughs, which are few and far between.” I don’t know about you, but any comedy that has laughs “few and far between” is not a good start. Also, getting a 19% on the Tomato Meter and only 51% audience score gives me pause and hurts the immaculate review of @lanvinpierre and @KKLarl.
In fact, Mr. Germain Lussier from Slashfilm had an interesting article regarding initial Twitter reactions. It’s not quite the same topic, but it does address writing a review so concisely. Let me ask our Bleary-Eyed fans, do you want us to give simple impressions of the films we review? I know I’m way to verbose with my reviews, but I do it to give you my opinion and to help you make up your mind if you’re on the fence. Would this be accomplished with a quick: “Dude, Civil War was awesome!” on Facebook? I honestly wouldn’t mind some feedback regarding this subject.
At any rate, the difference in box office dollars had about a million variables and depending upon how Civil War does next weekend, we’ll know if anyone cares about critics or others’ opinions. And I want to mention one more thing, I’m actually pretty excited to have seen a couple of trailers using the “Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomato Meter” as a function of success for a film. That’s cool because the producers are starting to realize where people get their news, the web or social media, and are following along instead of being pulled kicking and screaming into 2016.
How about I talk a little bit about the movie? If you’ve seen a trailer, well if you somehow avoided seeing a trailer, then the basic info about Civil War you’ll need is that Iron Man and Captain America have a disagreement over giving the United Nations oversight of the Avengers. Now I have my own opinion, but that’s something I really feel is interesting about Civil War, it was able to take a discussion from a film and bring it into real life. Just like privacy over safety was at the forefront of The Winter Soldier, this one was able to bring an argument over control versus freedom. In the film it is presented as a document called “The Sokovia Accords”, named after the city that got dropped from the sky in Age of Ultron.
The stipulations are that the Avengers are no longer a private organization and are sent in, or not, by a governing body within the United Nations. I find this interesting as it is eerily similar to the argument presented in Batman vs. Superman regarding Superman’s involvement in foreign and domestic affairs. And what is equally hilarious to me is that there are such devout fans of both franchises that will choose to ignore the similarities and denounce Superman as a reckless individual with little care for life or jurisdiction. However, when looking at the Avengers, they’ll spout on how the World needs them, yada yada. I’m not going to pick a side (wow, it’s amazing how that theme runs through a review regarding a movie titled Civil War).
Anyway, so both Captain America and Iron Man take a different stance on the Sokolvia Accords and along with the addition of a horrific, villain induced accident (courtesy of a brilliant Frank Grillo as Crossbones who is criminally underused in this film), a little bit of Bucky blame, and the death of Royalty (T’Chaka, the King of Wakanda), crap hits the fan.
After the cluster of terrible events and asinine decisions by both heroes, sides are taken and lines are drawn. The Vision literally draws a line at one point between the two sides. Like I said earlier, the argument at the heart of the movie is exacerbated by a whole bunch of people not listening to each other and a simple bit of idiocy (why the hell would Hawkeye attempt to take on Vision???) At any rate, the argument is a little silly and could have easily been resolved, but then we wouldn’t have amazing action scenes and it’d be a rather short film. So, in my opinion, the argument here, which is supposed to be central feature in the film falls a little flat, but what it kicks off, and what the directors, Anthony and Joe Russo choose to do with it is simply something spectacular.
As I said earlier, I’m going to talk about a few things in here, but I can’t begin until I dote over the Russo Brothers. Directing episodes of some of the best TV created (Arrested Development and Community) they went on to shock everyone with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and now have been given the keys to the Marvel Kingdom. This comes in the form of them being chosen to direct the “Official” next movies in the Avengers saga: Infinity War Part I & 2. Frankly, I’ve not seen films balance action and story as well as what the Russo’s have directed since another set of siblings directed the originalMatrix.
Having the Russo’s at the helm was pretty much the best move Marvel and Disney could have made. Put that together with the incredible cast, wizards with visual effects, and you know you’re going to have a successful film.
Talking about the cast, I have to give a few shout outs to some unsung hero (seriously this phrase is getting tossed around here too much) actors throughout Civil War. While the main focus is on Chris Evans’ Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, stuffing about a bajillion more superheroes in the mix makes it to where a couple get lost in the shuffle or even if they have an excellent performance, might not get the credit they deserve.
I’ll try to get through them quickly, but it’s going to be tough since they’re all so good and don’t get near enough spotlight in Civil War. First up are the actors on Cap’s side: Anthony Mackie as Falcon, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch & Paul Rudd as Ant-Man. Anthony Mackie brings charm and comedy to his role and is easily one of the most likable characters in the film. While he plays second fiddle to Captain America, I really hope that at some point he gets to take over the shield and portray the Captain America/Falcon hybrid seen in the comics recently. As the only Olsen that got any talent in that family (yeah, the Ashley & Mary-Kate were cute as toddlers, but once you go for the coked-out Lindsey Lohan look, you don’t get to come back). Anyway, Olsen gets to show off her skills, both with invisible magic hand movements (I know Benedict Cumberbatch is going to have to do it soon too, yay for Doctor Strange) and the gravity of having kicked off this entire event along with the meaty scenes she gets with The Vision (Paul Bettany), it’s clear that she is a very talented actor. Attempting not to give into the guilt her character feels along with still getting back up to fight, mirroring one of my favorite scenes in Age of Ultron with her and Hawkeye, she exhibits such a wide range and as films are created (often out of chronological order), she nails every single emotion and ferocity you need from this character. It’s just so well done. Finally I have to talk about Paul Rudd. After being one of Judd Apatow’s personal finger puppets for years, he struck the comedy and heroic balance in last year’s Ant-Man, which Marvel needed to follow up the stellar Guardians of the Galaxy. While the MCU doesn’t lack in comedy, few characters are there to be the comic relief. While I won’t put him on the level of Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, I’ll tell you he gets some of the best parts in the film. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but his HUGE bag of tricks and clever dialogue really put him over the top and in the spotlight for the ten to fifteen minutes he gets on screen.
Next we have a few hidden gems on Iron Man’s team: Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as the all-new Spider-Man. Now it’s almost unfair that Boseman is in this film. Not only does his Black Panther steal the show every moment he’s in the film, but why does he get to play everysingleimportant African American figure in recent history? Boseman is just too talented, from using a brilliant African accent to kicking total ass in the film, he portrays everything wonderful about the character. Even in the end where he gets a chance for revenge for his father’s death (see above mentioned regicide), he takes the high road and delivers some of the most haunting dialogue in the film with complete ease. Hmm, where have I heard about peaceful resolution before?
Last but probably the most important behind-the-scenes aspects of this film is Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. After looking closely at Holland’s credits as an actor, I have no idea what he did to impress Marvel/Disney and Sony (aforementioned most important behind-the-scenes aspect), but the kid did not disappoint. As soon as it was mentioned that Sony had brokered a deal with Marvel and Disney to allow Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was a collective fan squee and also the silence of a million people not wanting another origin story or thirtyyear old actors playing High School Peter Parker/Spider-Man. While Holland is 20 now (Tobey Maguire brought Spider-Man to life in 2002 at the age of 27) he pulls off the awkward teenager better than any of those to come before him. I swear in the film you can hear his voice crack. Again, as mentioned earlier, once the Russo Brothers got their hands on the webslinger, they did something special with him. Not only giving Holland a brilliant scene with Downey Jr., making him a pivotal character in the most incredible action scene in recent years, but also allowing him to deliver the best line in the film. If you thought you were tired of Spider-Man, then the moment Tom Holland opens his mouth, you’ll be completely convinced otherwise. The future is bright for Mr. Holland and his solo film, Spider-Man: Homecoming which will also star Downey Jr. and Aunt Hottie… I mean Aunt May who is portrayed by the beautiful Marisa Tomei.
As an aside on the actors, Martin Freeman adds his charm and British-ness to the film with what looks like him taking over as a surrogate Phil Coulson. Even though you can see Coulson every Tuesday on ABC in Agents of SHIELD (seriously, this show is good, I promise). I guess they also needed someone to be Nick Fury-Like until Samuel L. Jackson gets back.
Other than all of the actors, and the standout ones I mentioned above, the real treat in Civil War is the action. In this golden age of Superhero Films, there was still skepticism that an Avengers movie could be made (let alone 2.5 of them, yeah counting this as an Avengers film) or the words “Terrigen Mist” uttered on TV (seriously SHIELD is good), no one could have ever predicted a battle and action sequence that was done in the middle of Civil War. The airport sequence cranks the “War” portion of the title up to eleven and then somehow goes to twelve. I know what you’re thinking, how did they top the NYC battle in the first Avengers? Without spoiling it outright, just think about all the characters involved in this movie and decide for yourself what could be so amazing. There just isn’t any way to describe it without spoiling something. Know it was easily one of the best action scenes concocted in film, period. After a sequence like that, you’d assume they would be out of fuel (and budget), but no, you still have the titular battle between the heavyweights Captain America and Iron Man.
Even with more visual effects that are so subtle they can easily be missed (like the de-aging of Robert Downey Jr. in the beginning of the film), it’s a testament to the power of Marvel & Disney together and an utterly towering bar for any effects team to hurdle in future films. There is nothing else to be said.
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:
It’s Marvel. You have either already seen Civil War, don’t want to see it, or so broke that you’d have to rob a liquor shop to get the money to watch it in theaters (seriously, ticket prices are nuts and will not stop inflating). Regardless of a dumb setup (just so easily avoided), Civil War shines as the best that Marvel has to offer, especially from extremely weak source material. It’s visually stunning and all the new characters added to the film simply push it to heights that I will go ahead and declare it Marvel’s best film to date. $181M worth of tickets sold last week domestically, let’s see what happens when you add your stubs to the mix. And believe me, it’s worth every penny.