“Even If There’s A Small Chance. We Owe This, To Everyone Who’s Not In This Room, To Try…”
With the final season of Game of Thrones gracing eager audiences earlier in the month, April 2019 will always be remembered as the time in which pop culture exploded into realms of unprecedented greatness as society witnesses the end point of both TV’s most talked about show and of course, the enormously anticipated, Avengers: Endgame, the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the sequel to last year’s excellent and groundbreaking, Infinity War. Presented as the final installment in the Kevin Feige coined, “Infinity Saga”, which began all the way back in 2008 with Iron Man, Endgame sees our grieving band of OG superheroes come to terms with, and more importantly, attempt to revert the catastrophic damage caused by Josh Brolin’s (Deadpool 2) megalomaniacal titan, Thanos, in the previous chapter, and with the giant purple one’s tricky finger snap having gone down in pop culture loire for evermore, the bar is set impressively high for a sequel which Marvel themselves see as the one film the entire MCU has pretty much been leading up to. Bamboozling critics and audiences alike with a staggeringly long three hour run time, it’s fair to say that in terms of excess, Endgame laps it up completely, and whilst anything stamped with the Marvel branding tends to be absolutely critic-proof, what an absolute pleasure it is in being able to confirm that Endgame is everything that it should be and more, an emotional, bizarre and thoroughly engaging and entertaining cinematic blockbuster which manages to effectively balance spectacle with narrative payoffs, resulting in a closing chapter which beautifully reinforces the idea that what Marvel have done will never ever be executed quite as brilliantly ever again in the history of cinema.
Heading in, it’s quite important to note that Endgame is not in anyway Infinity War part two, and whilst expectations and fan theories always affect judgement on the final piece, the fact that I’ve now watched Endgame twice goes to show that the fourth Avengers piece is not just another movie, in fact it’s almost too much of a movie, a three hour long comic book dream which expects its’ audience to be synchronised with every in-joke, every knowing aside and be able to recount what happened where and at what time in each of the preceding twenty one MCU chapters. If part of this selective band of followers, then Endgame seeks to provide as much fan service to you as humanly possible whilst crucially still understanding the fundamentals of filmmaking by biding its time with an opening act which seeks to show the effects of Thanos’ snap, one which impressively highlights melancholic tales of loss, depression and guilt, resulting in some of the most impressive writing I can remember seeing in a superhero film since The Dark Knight. With the PR team for Endgame deserving their own round of applause for brilliantly being able to manage not spoiling anything at all, pretty much everything seen in the film’s trailers either occurs during the opening thirty minutes or not at all, and whilst particular narrative choices are expected from fans with more observant qualities to their Marvel addiction, the fact remains that in order to enjoy Endgame‘s many shocks and surprises you must simply head in not being aware of anything, with one of the film’s many joys is being able to gasp, cry and fist-pump your way through the action with an audience who are as dedicated to both the characters and the franchise as you undoubtedly are, if not more so.
At three hours long, the fact that Endgame did not feel as if it was testing any sort of patience at any point is a remarkable feat in itself, with both the pacing and the editing serving the action rather splendidly in a way that only the best filmmakers can successfully manage to balance, and whilst at times particular characters seem to be slightly wasted or criminally underused, such a complaint is particularly minor and in a way obsolete, with the primary mission of the piece clearly offering the chance to serve conclusions to characters who have been with us since the start and being well aware that for the new breed, the future is both bright and holds their own tales ready to be told and explored as we head into the franchise’s new phase come the end of the year. With enough hilarious dialogue and slapstick performances to put most so-called comedies to shame, Endgame deliciously plays into the Marvel mould we have both come to know and love, and whilst the balance between light and dark never fails to hit the solemn, gritty realism of Logan, the emotional payoffs of particular character arcs will leave even the most cold-hearted of sociopaths in floods of tears as they come to realise that characters in which their time has been spent with for just over a decade may not be ever seen again, in this universe anyway. When it comes to reviewing Endgame, what Marvel have ultimately achieved is unprecedented in the realm of cinema, twenty two movies across eleven years and all leading to a conclusion which is worthy of both the hype and anticipation laid upon it, and in some way, just being part of such a magnificent journey is reason enough to fall in love with a movie which will not only make it difficult to look at any future superhero movie in the same way, but is in some ways a love letter to fans whose dedication and desire have ultimately made such a dream come true.
Overall Score: 9/10
“When I’m Done, Half Of Humanity Will Still Exist. Perfectly Balanced, As All Things Should Be…”
Following the release of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man exactly ten years ago, the culmination of plot threads, narrative developments and vast array of characters which have encompassed the Marvel Cinematic Universe since then have all led in the direction of Avengers: Infinity War, the latest gargantuan superhero romp which sees each of the major Marvel characters of the past ten years come together and join forces in order to thwart the oncoming threat of Josh Brolin’s (Sicario) ominous Thanos, who vows to collect each of the Infinity Stones, six immensely powerful alien artefacts, in order to bend the universe to his evil and genocidal will. With the hype train well and truly steaming ahead, the anticipation for Infinity War is unprecedented within the realms of superhero cinema, and with a extensively star studded cast list and the directing duo of Anthony and Joe Russo at the helm, whose previous credits of course include Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, expectations from audiences and critics alike are resoundingly off the charts. Thankfully, what the Russo’s have manged to achieve with Infinity War is a staggering, operatic work of spectacle and heartbreaking drama, a film, which on paper had no right to succeed, but has somehow resulted in the most rewarding, magical and downright jaw-dropping Marvel superhero experience in the MCU so far.
With two and a half hours worth of plot to dissect, Infinity War essentially breaks down into a quartet of individual narrative channels, with Earth being the base for the character band lead by Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, space being the battleground for both the Guardians of the Galaxy subplot and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark own personal quest, and the entire universe being the backdrop for Brolin’s Thanos who travels from planet to planet leaving behind a cold, calculated and murderous path as he collects the all-powerful Infinity Stones. With the MCU struggling in the past to effectively conjure up groundbreaking and well-rounded villains, the introduction of Thanos follows in the footsteps of Black Panther‘s Killmonger by refusing to bow down to simply cannon fodder for superhero stardom and instead is the surprising central character of the piece, with the script superbly managing to highlight the character’s genocidal plan with some degree of purpose whilst at the same time introducing flaws and elements of empathy, particularly in the stand-out conversations between himself and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora. Of course, with purple CGI muscles, a band of merry followers known as the Black Order and the Infinity Gauntlet in hand, the real power of the character is evidenced to an alarming degree too, with surprising character deaths by his own hand and a dedicated reluctance to fail, resulting in explosive action set pieces which both never seem to outstay their welcome and a include too a perilous sense of threat for everyone involved which the franchise up to now was thoroughly lacking.
Of course, with so many characters and so little time spared on deep characterisation aside from the film’s leading antagonist, particular individuals do become somewhat by-products of a larger endgame, particularly those involved in the drama taking place on Earth and specifically, Wakanda, but with eighteen previous stories worth of backstory and development behind it, Infinity War isn’t designed to further character arcs and instead is there to tie up the development already achieved and offer long-awaited fan service for which it undenaibly achieves. Whether it’s the banter fuelled dialogue between Tony Stark and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange or the egotistical match-up between Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, amidst all the grandiose drama, Infinity War still manages to hold onto the razor-sharp comedic puns the franchise is renowned for without ever feeling cheesy or stupid enough to lose its’ dramatic edge, and whilst the best moments are undoubtedly in the other-worldly realms in which Downey Jr. and Pratt are present, the film as a whole balances its’ monumental premise with staggering ease. Of course, with Infinity War only part one of a much bigger design, there is a resounding sense of payoff not yet being ripely achieved, but with a ground-breaking, melancholic and brazen concluding scene which rips up the cinematic blockbuster rule book completely, the year long wait for the concluding chapter is of course undeniably agonising, but one which if continuing the success of Infinity War, will undoubtedly be an experience to savour.
Overall Score: 8/10
“We Have To Stop Her Here And Now, And Prevent Ragnarok, The End Of Everything…”
With arguably two of the weakest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, the return of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor marks the seventeenth entry in the gargantuan comic franchise, and whilst the character is awash with charisma and undeniable charm, it seems Hemsworth’s God of thunder has been the recipient of being better served when mixed in with the collective Marvel characters rather than being free to fight battles on his lonesome. Inevitably therefore, Ragnarok, directed by New Zealand’s Taika Waititi, manages to follow in the footsteps of Captain America: Civil War by for all intents and purposes being an Avengers movie, just without the titular phrasing slapped across it, with Hemsworth’s character this time being surrounded by the likes of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and the return of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in his battle against Cate Blanchett’s evil goddess of death, Hela. With Waititi’s previous works including the likes of What We Do In The Shadows and last year’s critically acclaimed independent groundbreaker, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the Kiwi’s ascent into Hollywood stardom continues the MCU’s usage of interesting, promising directors after Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and Jon Watt’s take on Spiderman: Homecoming earlier this year, and what Waititi has managed to achieve with Ragnarok is undeniably create the best of the Thor standalone releases so far, but with a aching sense of inconsequentiality running through it, the latest MCU release is supercharged in style but lacking wholly in any sense of prolonging substance.
Faced with the passing of father Odin, Thor heeds the warning of the coming of Cate Blanchett’s Hela, the Goddess of Death, whose desire to overthrow the Asgardian kingdom could potentially lead to the coming of Ragnarok, a prophetic armageddon which eradicates the existence of Asgard from the face of the universe, but with the God of Thunder’s preoccupied exile onto the planet of Sakaar, Thor must first overcome the greatest gladiator battle of all time before returning to save his home planet from certain destruction. With the chugging riffs of Led Zeppelin and a colourful, sparkly tone which made Guardians of the Galaxy so joyous throughout, Ragnarok is a movie which soaks up the fundamental ridiculousness of Thor’s character and simply hands the audience an undeniably entertaining comic adventure on a multi-coloured plate, and whilst the rib tickling comedy and likeable characters, both old and new, keep the audience chuckling and the lengthy running time manageable, the latest Marvel adventure does suffer at times from having almost too much to say without any of it having any real consequence. With a emo-inflicted villain who is too camp to take seriously, strangely jarring cameos from particular Hollywood stars and a limited screen presence from the likes of Jeff Goldblum and Idris Elba, Ragnarok suffers where the likes of Civil War prevailed, with the latter working with each pieces of the chess board onto something of consequence, and considering the future which lies ahead for the fate of the MCU, Ragnarok is indeed a highly enjoyable addition to the Marvel universe but ultimately doesn’t seem exactly necessary.
Overall Score: 7/10
“We Are Going Out With A Show People Will Never Forget…”
Remember when the BBC had Hustle? Yeah, that’s right, that show about a gang of street-wise tricksters who would con rich bad guys out of a lot of dollar in order to give credence to their own illegal activities starring Marc Warren and that other guy who I haven’t seen since. Picture Hustle but made by Channel 5 and mixed in with a large percentage of post-2000 Scooby Doo and that is pretty much a solid summary of events that take place in Now You See Me 2, the sequel to the 2013 magic-come-crime drama which not one person wanted aside from the Hollywood machine who saw it as yet another chance to make a quick buck starring an unbelievable rafter of A-List stars such as Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and a whole lot more who are more than willing to pick up the cheque and walk out of the door, leaving behind a script in which I can guarantee not one person thought would be the next Citizen Kane and instead is the pinnacle of CGI-fuelled vileness in which Hollywood decides to keeps on churning out year after year. Seem harsh? I haven’t even started yet.
Carrying straight on from the first film, Now You See Me 2 gives us another chance to witness our beloved thieves get up to no good whilst accomplishing feats of magic which look so out of this world and over the top you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that after all this time The Horseman are actually a band of Avenger-like vigilantes, each with their own special ability to enhance the ridiculousness of their acts. I mean come on, if the film wanted to embrace a sense of authenticity, then surely the unbelievable acts of so called magic in which CGI plays a major part of, should have been replaced for magic tricks that were kept in the realms of plausibility? Not only are the magic stunts ridiculous but so is the plot, with it one, not making any sense whatsoever (Just look at Morgan Freeman’s bipolar character swings), two, having the cheesiest of cheesy acting (Daniel Radcliffe, I’m looking at you) and three, taking home the award for most annoying screen character of the year in the form of Woody Harrelson’s twin baddie who is simply awful, awful, awful. Did I mention he was awful?
Adding to the elite awfulness of the movie is a sense of sanctimonious film-making, with the scriptwriters seemingly believing they are in fact the 21st century incarnations of Hitchcock himself, but when deciphering the movie’s twists and turns throughout the painfully long two hour plus running time, Now You See Me 2 really doesn’t make one bit of sense whatsoever. For example, if the world believes Daniel Radcliffe’s character is dead, how has no-one not seen him in his enormous, luxury ridden flat-pad in the middle of a thriving city? How does a key card that supposedly rips into the heart of every single computer system look so flimsy and easily mistaken for a fake? Why does Morgan Freeman’s character seemingly take a 180 degree turn towards the end of the movie? I surely can’t be alone in my criticism’s towards Now You See Me 2, a vacuous slum of a movie which will indeed test your patience from the first minute and leave you with a sense of injustice when you leave. The only magic trick accomplished in going to see Now You See Me 2 was when I paid money to see it but hey, at least it isn’t Gods of Egypt.
Overall Score: 3/10
Best Supporting Actor
Here we are once again… The 88th Academy Awards is upon us, swiftly bringing with it a rafter of talent, talent that has simmered and shone throughout a cinematic year in which bears have been fought, evil deeds exposed and Mexican drug-lords being dispatched quicker than you can whisper Sicario. Beginning Black Ribbon’s venture and exploration into the realms of Oscar Nomination goodness is the category of Best Supporting Actor, an award currently clutched onto by the majestic J.K Simmons for his electric portrayal of Terrence Fletcher in last years Whiplash, Black Ribbon’s favourite film of 2016. Aiming to steal the limelight from under Mr. Simmons’ shoes is a string of actors well accustomed to critical acclaim in the past with theatre legend Mark Rylance being nominated for his role in Steven Spielberg’s Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies, Christian Bale for Wall Street comedy-drama The Big Short, Tom Hardy for his role in the sublime The Revenant, and of course, Mark Ruffalo for the equally brilliant Spotlight. Oh yeah, and there’s Sylvester Stallone for Creed.
Looking at the bookies and by word of mouth on the movie grapevine, favourite this year for winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor lies on the shoulders of both Mr. Stallone for Creed and Mr. Rylance for Bridge of Spies, with both being successful at previous movie ceremonies; Stallone at the Golden Globes and Rylance at the BAFTA’s. As for those who may have been overlooked, both Benicio Del Toro for Sicario and Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation would have been potential winners for their roles in two superb films, whilst the fear of Oscar white-washing isn’t helped by the fact that the cast from Straight Outta Compton was completely ignored, particularly Jason Mitchell for his role as Eazy-E. It maybe just me, but the inclusion of any of these overlooked talents may have made this years’ ceremony a bit more thrilling. Anyway, here are the nominations:
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Christian Bale – The Big Short
Tom Hardy – The Revenant
Sylvester Stallone – Creed
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
Next Time: Best Supporting Actress!
“I Know There’s Things You Can’t Tell People, But I Also Know There’s A Story Here People Will Hear About…”
Before we begin, let us look back at the year of 2015 in film, a film in which Spotlight director Tom McCarthy decided it was best to embrace us with a continuation of one Adam Sandler’s career with the release of The Cobbler, a film so inept in quality and clouded with sheer hatefulness, one could argue it was set to ignite the downfall of McCarthy’s career, a career that so far had included critical successes with directorial credits on films such as The Station Agent featuring Peter Dinklage, and writing credits for being the mastermind behind the script of Disney Pixar’s Up, a film which generated similar critical acclaim. So the question remains, how on earth did the fundamental talent of Mr. McCarthy end up creating one of the real stinkers of 2015, a film so terrible it holds the distinction of being placed on this sites’ worst films of last year, pulling in at a wholly unremarkable third place? Do I have the answer? No, but thankfully with a new year there is always new surprises, and with the release of Spotlight, a biographical drama focusing on the investigation into the widespread cases of child sex abuse in the Boston area in 2002, it can be safely said that McCarthy is back in the good books. And some.
After being blacklisted in 2013 as one of the many unproduced screenplays around Hollywood, Spotlight attempts to portray the investigation from the Boston Globe’s titular Spotlight team into the seedy truths behind one of the worlds most hideous and horrific crimes within recent memory and with its’ core narrative based around the true-life tales of child sex abuse and rape, it is completely understandable why so many may have been put off by bringing such a terrible tale to the big screen. Within the hands of Tom McCarthy however, a man hell bent on cinematic redemption, Spotlight disregards the dramatic tendencies it may have resorted to and instead focuses primarily on the dying art of investigatory journalism, a decision that proves key when outlining the films’ many successes. In a similar fashion to Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, a film with a similar dark plot at its’ core, Spotlight refuses flat out to present dramatic representations of the many startling acts that took place within the Boston area and instead encompasses the point of view entirely from that of our characters within the Spotlight team, a cinematic trope that shares parallels with Room, a film in which we see the events of the film from the point of view of young Jack who unbeknownst to the terrible events that occur in the film, save the audience from a full understanding and instead leave the terrible events in a state of ambiguity, a key decision that ultimately has worked for both films, both of which share horrendous events within its’ DNA.
Of course, resting the films’ drama entirely on that of journalists, lawyers and other white collar characters as well as countless scenes of characters talking within office spaces, meetings, town halls and a wide range of other suit-and-tie surroundings, the film needed to have a equal balance between script and acting, and with acting pedigree such as Micheal Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams, it is unsurprising that that is exactly what Spotlight achieves. Spotlight is a film about something, something terrible, something that will stay with people for years to come, and the way in which each and every actor embraces their role on-screen is a true work of art. Never before have I seen a drama so powerful and startling it could be mistaken for a horror film, with one scene in which a priest completely confesses his crimes entirely straight-faced and without one shred of remorse particularly frightening, a credit to the films’ underlying stance on squeezing tension from the most remote of scenes without resorting to melodrama. If Spotlight brings with it a sense of redemption for director Tom McCarthy, then it verges on the level of Shawshank, with Spotlight being a highly intelligent, engrossing and fundamentally nightmarish cinematic experience that will no doubt leave viewers reeling from a wide range of emotions that the movie evokes. One week ago, The Revenant was top form for Best Picture at the Oscars. Move over Alejandro, Tom McCarthy has just made his masterpiece.
Overall Score: 10/10
It’s that money-making, mind-blowing, blockbuster time everyone and with the simply unbelievable performance of Furious 7 over the course of the past few weeks, where I believe it is now into the top ten of highest-grossing films EVER (Seriously?), it is time for Avengers: Age of Ultron to firmly push it, and many others in the top ten, out of its place. In terms of the money-making side of movies this year, one of the conundrums of 2015 is what will take more; Avengers or Star Wars? After watching the latest addition to the MCU however, I think the one true question is whether they will match each other in terms of quality. After returning from the midnight showing on Thursday morning, slightly knackered but still rolling on, I think it’s fair to say that Star Wars has a lot to live up to. Avengers: Age of Ultron is pretty fab.
The real winning formula of the first Avengers movie was that each and every character got their own decent share of screen time, and although Downey Jr. and Hiddleston as Iron Man and Loki respectively, were the stand out performers, not one of the actors and actresses in such a huge ensemble cast felt left out in any way. Fortunately for Age of Ultron, this formula is pretty much adhered to, even with the inclusion of a bunch of new characters, where, sloppy Russian accents aside, Olson and Taylor-Johnson as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are a fantastic addition to the MCU, whilst Bettany’s portrayal of The Vision was a wonder to behold, although there should have been a rain-check on that cape. No capes. Top marks for best newcomer however has to go to big baddie Ultron, magnificently voiced by James Spader, who walks away with the award for best CGI robot-thing in a MCU film so far, not only due to the stark realism of the characters’ presence on screen, but because Ultron felt like a proper character, someone who you could believe in, and someone you felt afraid to the bone of, something of which is rare in a lot of CGI characters.
With the first Avengers being one of the standout pictures in the MCU, Age of Ultron kind of needed to change direction, if only slightly, in order to sway away from the dreadful curse of being only “more of the same”, and the way in which Whedon and co. have decided to do this is to make Age of Ultron a much darker film than the first. Yes, the banter between the team is still rife as ever, but the darkness stemmed from Ultron himself, who came off as a much more cold and malevolent presence than I ever thought Loki was, as brilliant as he is as the bad guy of Asgard, to the whole sterialisation story of Black Widow, which was pretty damn depressing to say the least. In the case of Age of Ultron, the step into the dark-side worked and the threat of impending doom was always there, particularly in the final battle, cemented with the death of one of the supposed key characters of the Avengers, which although was teased throughout the film, had a sickening, yet cleverly finessed, twist to cap it all off.
Yes the film does have faults. The whole MCU cross-ins and cross-overs, mixed with interwoven stories and plot points would obviously be confusing to the lay movie watcher who just happens to have not seen any of the previous installments and decides to watch Age of Ultron, but my question to that person would be, why watch it without seeing at least the first Avengers previously anyhow? Even as a keen follower of the MCU (not the comics however), even I at times tend to get lost and confused regarding what Infinity Stone is what, who is where etc. etc. so the level of confusion for someone oblivious to the stories previous is going to pretty high. The film also had an awful knack or rushing certain plot points, with it sometimes just resorting to another jumping, action, blowing up scene, which is always good fun, but seemed a bit too much at certain points. I mean, don’t even get me started on what Thor did at the pond thing. I have no clue whatsoever. My usual moan of runtime however, cannot be adhered to this time, with the film’s 140 minute runtime surprisingly flying past, something of which hasn’t happened since last years’ Interstellar.
So in conclusion, yes, the film does have flaws, but the positives overwhelmingly outweigh the negatives, with a stellar cast being put to great use to continue the fun of the MCU which doesn’t seem to be in danger of crippling anytime soon. Is it better than the first? On first watch, probably not, but the beauty of a blockbuster is that there are a ridiculous amounts of chances to watch it again (I think it is showing 30 times a day in my local multiplex) and a second watch is something of which I am looking forward to already. Age of Ultron is a solid and spectacular farewell to the directorial duties of Joss Whedon too, who has supplied the Marvel fans with two of the finest superhero films of all time. Farewell Mr. Whedon. Its’ been emotional,
Overall Score: 8/10
Once again I’m back to feeling half my age, hyped up for the new Marvels’ Avengers: Age of Ultron movie where the cinema staff obviously did not want to calm me down when handing me a free action figure with my coke! But I digress, the film was amazing and was all I could want from an Avengers film, but that’s not to say there wasn’t a few disappointments. (SPOILER WARNING)
Let’s start with the first scene with the Avengers going against a Hydra base. I would have liked a bit of context on how all of the Avengers assembled (LOL), for example, at the end of Iron Man 3, correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Tony Stark blow up all of his Iron Suits? Yet here he is flying around! Don’t get me wrong, I love Iron Man but just a bit of context would have been nice, unless I missed something.
Now, I don’t know if any of my fellow reviewers here on Black Ribbon watch Marvels Agents Of Shield, but it was awesome seeing Dr List and Strucker, the Hydra Villains at the beginning, which have been seen in the TV show and now appear on the big screen. Having Dr List introduce Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch fitted well with the back story of Agents of Shield, with Hydra kidnapping people with powers.
The interactions, mainly the wit, between the characters were in my opinion top class. The cinema audience laughed at the characters’ banter and gasped at the shock of the Vision handing Thor his hammer which made the film all that more enjoyable to watch. I did enjoy seeing some back story into Hawkeye and Black Widow which was well deserved and did lead me to anticipate one of their deaths but was gladly mistaken. I would have liked some more scenes with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch where although you get a brief description of them telling Ultron about their past, it felt like there was very limited dialogue between them and the Avengers which I would have much preferred to see.
In terms of the fighting choreography, being an Avengers film I think we all expected some amazing action and I was not the slightest bit disappointed. All of the fights seemed original, well- paced and made full advantage of the surroundings. The combos between the characters were clever, however I would have liked if they mixed up the combination of characters. I lost count the number of times Thor did a combo attack with Captain America.
To me what makes a good action film is a good villain. In the case of Ultron, he is good and has character, despite being a robot. With an understandable motive and evil plan however I was slightly let down. In the trailers he seemed more malicious, giving off an evil Pinocchio vibe giving that awesome line “There are no strings on me” where just thinking about it gets me hyped up! However, in the movie he just felt less impressive but this could be due to him being out-shined by the Vision. I would have liked to see Ultron kill an Avenger with his hands or at least a bit more close quarters rather than random shootings with a helicopter. Sure he cuts off Klaw’s arm but who cares about Klaw? Hardly jaw dropping stuff!
Like every Marvel film there is always a teaser at the end of the credits and this time we see Thanos pulling out the Infinity Gauntlet saying “I will just do it myself”; F*!& yeah! This small clip has got me psyched up like a bat out of hell! I can’t even imagine the amount of carnage which is going to occur, however I am slightly worried about the new Avengers they showed at the end (War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Falcon) as they hardly seem like replacements for their predecessors but maybe I read that entire scene wrong.
I know I have listed many negative points throughout the review but believe me when I say this; I loved it and I’m very much tempted to go watch the film again which for me never happens. I loved seeing the character interaction between the huge roster of heroes with all of them getting a fair amount of screen time whilst the action scenes were creative and fast paced whilst showing constant humour, and all of this is setting up for another huge film in the future with Thanos. I’m sure most of you will go see this film regardless, however for those on the fence, go see this film!
Overall Score: 8/10
Oscars 2015: Best Supporting Actor
We are now on to the penultimate blog regarding this years Oscars ceremony, the focus of which is on the “Best Supporting Actor” category, featuring Hulk, Hamlet, J. Jonah Jameson, Tom Hagen and, oddly, Hulk again. In terms of bookies favourite, J. K. Simmons is the best bet to win the gong, and for the second time running, I completely agree with them. His performance as the ferocious Terrence Fletcher in Whiplash, transformed a film with a rather simple and, dare I say it, boring plot, into the most gripping cinematic experience I have witnessed in a long while. Hats off to him. As an added extra, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Edward Norton or Ethan Hawke, pick up the award instead, for their roles in Birdman and Boyhood respectively, highlighting the strength of the nominations in this particular category this year. In terms of overlooked, James Gandolfini for The Drop, and, i’m calling it, Dave Bautista for Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s right. Drax the Destroyer. Instead, we have:
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J. K. Simmons – Whiplash
Next… Best Supporting Actress
It’s award season everyone! On the day I am writing this, the Golden Globes is set to descend upon us with the majestic two-hour red carpet special lying in wait along with my pot of coffee and sugar-filled lemonade. Cheers time zones. Of the films listed in the “Best Films” category, Foxcatcher, Selma, and The Theory of Everything, are the only ones I hadn’t seen when the nominations were announced so I decided to catch up when they were released in UK cinemas, starting with Foxcatcher. Foxcatcher brings to life the true story of Jon Du Pont, played by Steve Carell, and his efforts in hiring the Olympic wrestling champions Mark and Dave Schultz, played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo respectively, to train under the “Foxcatcher” estate and ready a team for the 1988 Olympics. Although, from this short synopsis anyway, Foxcatcher seems to be primarily a sports film, the reality is that Foxcatcher is a different monster entirely.
When I first watched the trailer to Foxcatcher, I was astonished at the transformation of Carell, whose unrecognisable performance as Du Pont is undeniably the best feature of the film, with his character’s eerie presence and ambiguous nature symbolising the tone I felt the film was trying to convey throughout its’ two hour run-time. Both Carell and Tatum portray characters that are undeniably against type, and I felt this only enhanced the film’s strengths, as it’s dark and grim tone was unexpected, due in part to the fact that I had no previous knowledge of the events surrounding the story.
Another strength of the film is Ruffalo’s performance, who, like Carell, is nominated for a Golden Globe, yet what stuck me most about the film was it’s clear emphasis on the notion of family, with themes throughout focusing on brotherhood, paternal and maternal instincts, as well as feelings of isolation, particularly in relation to Du Pont, whose Gatsby-esque wealth and fame, brings with it a sense of loneliness and despair, helped only by his unusual love for his very own Daisy Buchanan, in the form of Mark Schultz.
Overall, Foxcatcher is a dark and twisted tale of one man’s isolation which engaged me throughout. Its’ grim nature and rather depressing feel may be too much for some, but in my opinion, Foxcatcher is a solid and surprising piece of cinema. Roll on the red carpet.
Overall Score: 8/10
Now You See Me is the story of 4 street magicians who are brought together by an unknown source of power to rob banks like Robin Hood. With a large cast of well known actors, it was safe to say that a lot of money had been spent on the project. Yet it is safe to say that I was disappointed. The US received this movie just over a month before us here in the UK. A movie which I had to avoid all sort of news about it for a month and its safe to say that I was a little peeved on the exit.
The actual story is incredibly simple, with a few plot twists which aim too catch you out but are very easy to see through. I have to admit that there was one incident which I felt too be a good twist, but it doesn’t wow you. This is what I felt for the majority of the story, nothing got my blood pumping, nothing engaged me with the plot and the predictability of it made it tedious to watch.
As you may already know from my “This Is The End Review“, I do not like James Franco and I harbour much of the same dislikes for him as Dave making his character a spare wheel. As the story rolls on, he disappears for a portion of it and can be easily ignored with his predictable exit. I do have to give him credit for his fight scene between him and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk). His acting was fluid and fight scenes were done with precision and an element of style involved. Speaking of The Hulk, it turns out that he is our main character. We follow the action from his point and the process he goes through to investigate the bank robberies and the workings of the 4 Horseman’s magic. When looking back at Mark’s performance, its obvious that it isn’t his best work. For someone who played the Hulk, you would assume that he could show true anger or despair, yet his face can appear somewhat still throughout.
The actors I did get along with were, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and of course Mr Freeman! Harrelson was the most interesting of the characters. A man with the ability to hypnotise the public and get them to do as he chooses. His talent is quite interesting but its his humour that sets him apart from the rest, while Eisenberg is the brains of the group, he is the focal point in the group and seems like the leader of the four. So, with a huge cast, a few good scenes and general entertainment, I feel the movie deserves a 7/10. It’s lack of grip and the generic story can bore some and the way the story was wrapped up was very cheesy. I would have liked a lot more darkness to it with a bit more aggression to build the excitement.