Samuel L. Jackson

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Director:

Anthony Russo

Joe Russo

Writers:

Christopher Markus

Stephen McFeely

Starring:

Robert Downey Jr.

Chris Hemsworth

Chris Evans

Chris Pratt

Mark Ruffalo

Don Cheadle

Benedict Cumberbatch

Tom Holland

Chadwick Boseman

Tom Hiddleston

Anthony Mackie

Sebastian Stan

Bradley Cooper

Paul Bettany

Vin Diesel

Scarlett Johansson

Zoe Saldana

Karen Gillan

Elizabeth Olsen

Danai Gurira

Pom Klementieff

Letita Wright

Gwyneth Paltrow

Plot:

The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

Review:

Thor, Chris Hemsworth, and the Asgardians that escaped from Hela have been decimated by Thanos, Josh Brolin. Well, half of them, I’m going to assume Valkyrie got away with the other half because she’s not seen in the movie. Thanos beats the shit out of The Hulk, Mark Ruffalo, and for what might be the first time The Hulk gets scared and for the rest of the movie refuses to come out which puts our heroes at a disadvantage. Bruce may be smart, but they needed brawn more than another brain.

Tony, Robert Downey Jr., is settling into life, still not really facing his fears, but wanting to make a commitment to Pepper, Gwyneth Paltrow, and become a family man. I feel like I think he’s got certain issues, but he believes he has other ones entirely, and that’s why I never get to see any movement on his PTSD and anxiety. Seeing him and Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch, interact was one of the highlights of the movie. I also really enjoyed how each group or individual still had their own style. It was very clear when you were with Strange or the Guardians or the others, which I appreciated.

Star Lord, Chris Pratt, is the real fuck up of this movie. Everyone else is heroic, but he decided to lean more toward his roguish nature. He reacted entirely in character, which is annoying, cause everyone else rose to new heights with this challenge, but he was an ass and ruined everything.

Is Thor the mightiest Avenger now? I think there’s got to be a strong case for him. The Hulk is hiding inside Banner and Thor withstood the power of a dying star, after surviving floating in space for an undetermined amount of time. He’s grieving but still did what was necessary, plus he’s a cross between an angel and a pirate, I’d read that romance novel.

The final battle takes place in Wakanda, but Black Panther and his crew probably have the least amount of screen time, with maybe Cap and his people coming in next. There are a TON of people in this movie so it’s not entirely unexpected but I’m hoping that they all have more of a part to play in Endgame.

So many people are “dead” but you don’t see a lot of them actually disappear on screen so who exactly is gone isn’t quite clear. I believe the directors may have confirmed a few people, but I refuse to believe that Loki, Tom Hiddleston, is actually dead. He’s died too many times and he had to know what Thanos was going to do, he’s alive somewhere in the universe.

This movie felt more inspired by the older movies, so some of the things I’ve loved in the last few movies weren’t here. Thor was still awesome, but apart from Gamora, Zoe Saldana, and Scarlett Witch, Elizabeth Olsen, the female representation was light. Scarlett Witch and Vision, Paul Bettany, and their relationship felt really weird, in my opinion. I’m assuming it was something in the comics. I guess it was teased in Civil War, but it came off as more Vision being kind of creepy and Scarlett Witch being polite about it in that movie. I don’t know, they’re probably my least favorite characters, so while their story plays a key part to the movie it’s my least favorite. It doesn’t help that this is the most we’ve ever really spent with them so there hasn’t been as much buildup.

The end credit scene is nothing but hype for me, especially after watching Captain Marvel. Seeing Fury, Samuel L. Jackson, and Maria Hill, Cobie Smulders, again was just so exciting!

Infinity War is technically a complete story, but not really. We all know there is no way all of those heroes are staying dead and that Thanos is going to win. It just can’t/won’t happen. It is basically a two part story with an excellent first part, but what happens in Endgame is going to make a huge impact on it and could completely change my opinion of Infinity War. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Original Review

4/5

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Director:

Anthony Russo

Joe Russo

Starring:

Chris Evans

Scarlett Johansson

Samuel L. Jackson

Cobie Smulders

Robert Redford

Anthony Mackie

Sebastian Stan

Plot:

As Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with a fellow Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Black Widow, to battle a new threat from history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier.

Review:

Steve Rogers aka Captain America, Chris Evans, is no longer fighting aliens bent on taking over the world, so now he is a man out of time trying to figure out his place in the world. He buries himself in work and ignores Black Widow’s, Scarlett Johansson, attempts to set him up on a date.

When Nick Fury, Samuel L. Jackson, shares with him the next phase for S.H.I.E.L.D. he feels even more lost because it goes against everything he believes in. Cap is doubting himself, wondering if he’ll ever fit in, when things return to something he’s much more familiar with. Poorly shot action scenes, Hydra, and intrigue.

Winter Soldier marks the point in the MCU when I realized I was never going to get well shot action scenes. I’m a bit bitter about that considering I feel like the amount of work the actors put in and the skill of the stunt people involved means their work should be clearly showcased. Instead, we get shaky cam, quick cuts, and extreme close-ups. According to the Wikipedia for this movie”

“In contrast to the quick editing and moving cameras of modern action films, The Winter Soldier aimed to feature longer action scenes that felt more visceral and dangerous.”

I did not get those feelings from these scenes. Time and time again we’d be put in a situation where Cap was about to kick ass, he had great quips, and then boom, you couldn’t see shit. It was beyond frustrating.

Anyway…We got to see more of Cobie Smulders in this movie, which had me excited. She once again is ridiculously capable and acts as Fury’s right hand needing almost no communication from him to know exactly what to do. She takes care of business coolly and calmly and she was barely in the movie.

This might have my favorite Black Widow scenes. She is actually, sort of, human here, though, I have a hard time trusting it and wondered throughout if she was just giving Cap what he wanted to see. She had to come to terms with the fact that Fury doesn’t or didn’t full trust her, and that actually seemed to hit her hard.

Bucky, Sebastian Stan, and Cap’s scenes were easily the best. The flash back to before the super soldier program was emotionally impactful even with the bad scrawny Steve CG. So much emotion between the two and for the first time since he came back Steve seemed to realize he wasn’t alone.

Poor Falcon, Anthony Mackie, didn’t get to beat his bad guy in the end and had to watch his new best friend chase after another. At least he got to fly like a bird till his wings were destroyed.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier didn’t really set up much for future movies. It brought up a lot of history for Cap and did bring us Bucky, and eventually Scarlett Witch, but Hydra doesn’t play a huge role in future movies. You’ve got the little bit in Avengers: Age of Ultron at the beginning but the dismantling of Hydra is mostly handled by Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Ultron could have used someone else to do what he did. Cap did seem to get a purpose at the end of the movie, but it’s another short term one, find and help Bucky. Clearly, it’s not one of my favorites, but I know I’m in the minority with that opinion.

Original Review

3/5

The Avengers (2012)

Hulk Smash Loki

The Avengers (2012)

Director:

Joss Whedon

Starring:

Robert Downey Jr.

Chris Evans

Scarlett Johansson

Mark Ruffalo

Chris Hemsworth

Jeremy Renner

Samuel L. Jackson

Clark Gregg

Cobie Smulders

Stellan Skarsgård

Tom Hiddleston

Gwyneth Paltrow

Plot:

Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are going to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.

Review:

After forever in the ice Captain America, Chris Evans, has been found. Which works out beautifully because Loki, Tom Hiddleston, has come to Earth to exact his revenge against Thor, Chris Hemsworth. Naturally, Tony Stark aka Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr., is pulled into things because he’s super smart and they need his help. To round things out a bit we get Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson, and Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner, who both work for S.H.I.E.L.D. to join because they know the system the best, plus, you know, they’re super good at what they do.

It was truly incredible that they were able to get all of these characters in one movie and not once did I feel like someone was slighted with screen time. They each had their moment to shine, they each had their own thing, and it all came together seamlessly. The fact that they did that with the first Avengers movie speaks to the quality of writers working on this film.

Iron Man still very much has his issues, he’s got his attitude, he desperately needs to speak to a professional, and yet he doesn’t because he’s good. For some reason Pepper, Gwyneth Paltrow, is wearing cut off blue jean shorts the first time she appears on screen which is not like anything she’s ever worn before and is kind of weird, but apparently they didn’t want her to be taller than Tony and…yeah it was stupid, but whatever.

Captain America is very much a man out of his time and is very easily pulled into saving the Earth because it’s the one thing he’s familiar with. His skill set transfers well and even though he clashes with Tony I don’t think he feels that they’re too serious clashes. While Tony reacts to him in a very juvenile way that really shows his short comings.

Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, Mark Ruffalo, is a harder sell. He doesn’t want to hulk out because he’s finally figured out how to control the monster inside, however, he’s a good man and does want to help save the world. When he’s assured they don’t want his green alter ego he joins them. His interactions with Tony are fun, they’re both super geeks, though, he is worlds more mature than Tony. I feel like if they’d done a movie together they would have worked fine together until Tony pushed him too far and The Hulk beat the ever living shit out of him.

Black Widow and Hawkeye are honestly just there because they’re the best S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. They’re really good at their jobs but I wouldn’t really call them superheroes. This movie really started the poor Black Widow fight scenes, there are so many quick cuts and close ups you honestly have no idea what’s going on and it’s disappointing to watch. Hawkeye is…well he’s a great shot, clearly smart, but I don’t really have anything else to add regarding him.

What I find interesting about the movie is you can pinpoint the exact moment when the general public’s opinion of The Hulk completely changed. He went from a character that people were bored with and didn’t really care about anymore to treating Loki like a rag doll and calling him a puny god. All of sudden people were again talking about another standalone movie for him, which thankfully Marvel has not done. In my opinion, The Hulk works as a great supporting character, but doesn’t work as well on his own.

We were introduced to another female character, Maria Hill, Cobie Smulders, that kicks a lot of ass, is basically S.H.I.E.L.D.S. second in command, and is promptly shoved aside and mostly forgotten. That makes how many characters now? Sure Black Widow has been in a lot of movies, but she is almost always a side character and about as interesting as a pile of rocks. What about Lady Sif? Agent Maria Hill? Jane Foster, Natalie Portman’s character in the Thor movies? Thank goodness Agent Carter, Hayley Atwell, got her own TV show, as short lived as it was.

The Avengers struck the perfect tone, there was just enough comedy to lighten up the potentially Earth ending consequences. The characters were each given their moment to shine, Tony proved that he can rise to the occasion and make the hard decisions without whining about it, he also proved that he can set his ego aside and acknowledge when someone else knows more than he does. It was really a great moment of growth for him, I just wish it lasted. Cap was, as always, incredibly amazing even while clearly struggling with his new surroundings. Thor needed a haircut and wash, it was too long and stringy. Mark Ruffalo was a much different Hulk than Edward Norton, but he filled the role well and worked better with everyone else than Norton could have done. It was a great movie and set the bar high for the following movies.

4.5/5

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Director:

Jon Favreau

Starring:

Robert Downy Jr.

Mickey Rourke

Gwyneth Paltrow

Don Cheadle

Scarlett Johansson

Sam Rockwell

Samuel L. Jackson

Clark Gregg

Plot:

With the world now aware of his identity as Iron Man, Tony Stark must contend with both his declining health and a vengeful mad man with ties to his father’s legacy.

Review:

Iron Man 2 starts with a giant celebration of Tony’s, Robert Downey Jr.’s, awesomeness. There are Iron Man Rockettes dancing, a massive adoring crowd, followed by him giving a speech about how truly amazing he is. The whole thing is outside because no building could hold his ego and that is ultimately why I don’t like Tony. He desperately needs therapy, he’s gone through some hugely traumatic shit at this point, on top of daddy issues, and yet he doesn’t seek help because who could possibly help him? His diagnosis of narcissism is not a surprise later in the film.

One of my least favorite tropes is conflict due to lack of communication, which drives most of this movie. Tony talks a LOT but it’s mostly without substance and refuses to open up to the people that love and support him. Eventually, Nick Fury, Samuel L. Jackson, forces his help upon him and Tony is finally able to solve the issues he’s facing. If there’s a lesson to be learned here it’s that you should talk to the people in your life, share your troubles, and maybe they’ll be able to help you. At the very least they could point you in the right direction.

There are a lot more hints at what’s to come in the Marcel Cinematic Universe. We’ve got allusions to Captain America and Thor in one scene alone. S.H.I.E.L.D. is also more of a presence with Phil Coulson, Clark Gregg, and Natasha Romanoff aka. Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson, having more prominent roles. We’ve seen Coulson before, but Black Widow’s addition honestly shows just how far we’ve come. She is eye candy, Happy, Jon Favreau, is constantly making stereotypical assumptions about her, being demeaning and treating her as nothing more than a pretty face. Time and time again she proves that she’s a badass and each time he’s in shock, and yet he keeps doing it. Happy was really a creep in this, more so than the first movie.

I’m not a fan of Black Widow, mainly because of her action scenes. This movie probably had her best one, or at least one of them, but for the most part they’re always filled with lots of cuts and shaky cam because a stuntwoman does Johansson’s stunts. At least in this movie her hair is long so as long as it was in her face they were able to show more.

Anyway, Iron Man was a return to the Marvel superhero movie feel I’m used to, and it set the stage for everything that’s to come in a very solid way, but I believe it was a small dip in quality from the first movie.

3/5

Captain Marvel (2019)

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel (2019)

Director:

Anna Boden

Ryan Fleck

Starring:

Brie Larson

Samuel L. Jackson

Ben Mendelson

Lashana Lynch

Plot:

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.

Review:

So I have managed to see this movie twice in theaters, which is unheard of for me, now. I was not a huge fan of the Wonder Woman movie and ever since Black Panther I’ve been excited and scared for Captain Marvel. I hoped so much that it would be everything I wanted in a female superhero movie, but after years of disappointments I was afraid they wouldn’t be able to deliver. Oh boy did they deliver.

SPOILERS

Carol Danvers, Brie Larson, has her own sense of humor, which is a bit sarcastic and loveable annoying. She’s pushed the limits since she was a child, refusing to allow others to tell her she can’t do something, especially if it’s because of her gender. For most of the movie she is missing large chunks of her memory and because of that she has a moment of doubt unsure of who she is, but it doesn’t take much from her best friend to remind her. Even under the control of the Cree who she is shone through.

The fight scenes are always the scenes I’m most disappointed in with Marvel movies and sadly Captain Marvel wasn’t an exception. They were cut fast and shaky so it was hard to tell who was doing what, or just to see anything cool looking. It’s a common trend with the movies though so at this point I don’t expect anything else.

Nick Fury, Samuel L. Jackson, looked incredible. Based on quick math I estimate that Fury was around 51-54 at the time of the movie. I know that there was some CG done with him but it was so well done you could hardly tell. He was younger, and a bit more silly, but he was still very much the intelligent and quick thinking Nick Fury you expect.

Maria Rambeau, Lashana Lynch, was Carol’s best friend and the one that grounded her when she needed it. I was so glad that she had her own moment to shine and was not just a sidekick to Carol. Her daughter was precocious and the possible hints at Maria’s relationship with Carol were exciting.

Captain Marvel did not have a romance and I really appreciated that. I feel like there might have been a possibility with Maria, but since Captain Marvel has been missing for the last twenty-four years I’m not sure if that’s still viable in the current timeline. The main point of the movie was Carol becoming a superhero, answering questions about future plot points, and setting the stage for Endgame.

I know that more than a few people have complained that timeline wise they felt Captain Marvel should have been done at a different time that it slowed everything down, and to that I can’t roll my eyes hard enough. An incredibly common story telling technique is to take a step back, before the climactic conclusion, and do a flashback. Explain some things and maybe even introduce an element to the story that’s going to help in the final battle. It does slow things down, but it gives the viewer/reader a chance to breath. It answers questions that wouldn’t necessarily have been answered with the conclusion. It expands on character development. It gives everyone a small break from universal consequences.

We’re going to get Endgame very soon but I am beyond thrilled that we got Captain Marvel when we did. Finally, getting to see a female superhero movie done by Marvel was incredible and I am so excited for what’s to come.

4.5/5

 

HIGHER. FURTHER. FASTER.