Captain Marvel Review

Captain Marvel movie posterSynopsis
During a mission to rescue an undercover Kree operative, Vers (Brie Larson) is captured by the shapeshifting Skrulls. She manages to escape, crashing on Earth. On Earth, she discovers her hidden past with the help of SHIELD agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been waiting for Captain Marvel for a long time. For one, it finally brings a movie headlined by a female character. For another, and on a more personal level, it finally brings Carol Danvers into the behemoth film franchise. She is one of my favorite Marvel comic characters so I am ecstatic to see her on the big screen. But most importantly, it shows Nick Fury before he was director of SHIELD. OK, maybe that’s not the most important but it was still fun to see. Anyway, the big question is whether or not it was worth the wait. For the most part, yes.

At the center of the film is Brie Larson as the titular Captain Marvel (who was never actually referenced by her superhero name in the film). Larson brings some spunk and good amount of sass to the character of Carol Danvers. Much like what Robert Downey Jr. did with Tony Stark in Iron Man, Larson brings her own personality to the character. One thing she copies perfectly is Carol’s self-confidence.

One of my favorite aspects about Captain Marvel is that it has a buddy cop vibe. Larson and Samuel L. Jackson spend a majority of the film together, searching for a way for Vers (aka Carol) to get a message to her team. Buddy cop movies often succeed or fail based on the central duo. Since this is Larson’s and Jackson’s third film together, there was a clear rapport between them that gave them good chemistry and created a fun dynamic. This energy between the two of them prevented the film from becoming dull.

Nostalgia is all the rage these days. When a movie takes places in the past, particularly the recent past, there has to be references to events, pop culture, and technology of the time. This movie, set squarely in the middle of the 1990s, has its fair share of references that will make anyone who grew up or lived during the era are sure to pick up on and laugh at. Some were given in the trailers, like Blockbuster, but there were other references to Radio Shack, dial-up internet, and Mallrats, along with many, many more. Picking up on these are just as fun as picking up on comic easter eggs in other MCU films so I won’t go any deeper.

With how advanced computer animation is these days, many films would opt to motion capture the Skrull actors and use CGI in the final cut. However, I really appreciated the use of makeup and prosthetics to bring the shapeshifting aliens to life. It adds a hint of realism to an otherwise fantastical part of the film.

Speaking of CGI, it seems Marvel has taken a liking to de-aging. They first applied the process to Michael Douglas in Ant-Man to some successful results. However, that was just for one scene. This time, they applied the process to Jackson for the entire film. Like Douglas, it doesn’t look weird or enter uncanny valley territory. Clark Gregg gets the same treatment but his character of Agent Phil Coulson isn’t as prominent as Jackson’s Fury.

I have been on record saying that the Marvel formula doesn’t bother me. I’ve constantly referred to Iron man as the template of how to do a superhero origin film; it works and is a proven formula that I enjoy. However, I know it doesn’t work for everybody and others are getting tired of seeing the same structure over and over. While I was alright with the way the story was set up, I just wanted to give you a heads up if you are one of the ones who have had enough of the Marvel formula.

For the most part, Marvel films have had pretty crisp cinematography during their action scenes and sequences. However, this movie used shaky cam more than other MCU films have in the past. It seemed to get better as the film went on but it still caught me off guard at first.

I thought Captain Marvel was GOOD πŸ™‚ With a feeling more at home in Phase One, it offers nothing ground-breaking from a story-telling perspective. However, it still offers loads of fun and plenty of entertainment. Quickly becoming a massive box office, there’s no doubt a sequel is already in the works. With the success of this and Wonder Woman, hopefully the notion that female-led superhero films cannot perform at the box office is dispelled and we will see many more in the future.


Cast & Crew
Anna Boden – Director / Screenplay / Story
Ryan Fleck – Director / Screenplay / Story
Geneva Robertson-Dworet – Screenplay / Story
Nicole Perlman – Story
Meg LeFauve – Story
Pinar Toprak – Composer

Brie Larson – Vers / Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel
Samuel L. Jackson – Nick Fury
Ben Mendelsohn – Talos / Keller
Jude Law – Yon-Rogg
Annette Bening – Supreme Intelligence / Dr. Wendy Lawson / Mar-Vell
Lashana Lynch – Maria Lambeau
Clark Gregg – Agent Coulson
Rune Temte – Bron-Char
Gemma Chan – Minn-Erva
Algenis Perez Soto – Att-Lass
Djimon Hounsou – Korath
Lee Pace – Ronan
Chuku Modu – Soh-Larr
Matthew Maher – Norex

The Incredibles 2 Review

The Incredibles 2 movie posterSynopsis
Helen Parr (Holly Hunter (voice)) is chosen by siblings Winston (Bob Odenkirk (voice)) and Evelyn (Catherine Keener (voice)) Deavor to help legalize heroes again. With Helen at her new job Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson (voice)), must stay home to take care of their kids.

Back in 2004, the superhero craze had barely just begun. Spider-Man 2 had just hit theaters, Ang Lee’s Hulk was in theaters the year before, the X-Men franchise was just two films in and we were one summer away from the Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Among these familiar heroes, Pixar jumped into the superhero fray themselves with their own, original family of heroes in The Incredibles. What we got was one of the best movies in Pixar’s library and a film that made the movie put as much weight on the characters being a family and dealing with familial problems as it did in the characters being heroes. It has been a long, fourteen year wait but the Parr family is finally back.

At the head of the Parr family is Bob, aka Mr. Incredible. The first film was about him dealing with trying to bring back the β€œglory days” and going through a mid-life crisis. In this one, the return of supers is just over the horizon. However, it’s his wife, Elastigirl, that gets to be one to don her superhero suit while Bob becomes a stay-at-home dad. Watching him struggle to balance between being happy for his wife and being jealous of her feels too real. My favorite part about the previous film was how accurate it portrayed the Parr family. Here was this family of superheroes who could do incredible things (pun intended) and yet they were arguing with each other, annoying each other, and supporting each other, just like a regular family. This film once again nailed those familial dynamics, bringing to screen one of the most accurate portrayal of family I have seen in film, animated or otherwise.

One of the best supporting characters from The Incredibles is Samuel L. Jackson’s Frozone. He gets an expanded part and much more integral role this time around and you won’t see me complaining! Besides seeing more Frozone, many more supers are introduced as well. The powers introduced are pretty unique and were fun to see interact with each other. Screenslaver, the villain of the picture, was good. If compared to the villain of the last film, Syndrome, I think I liked Syndrome better as a villain. However, Screenslaver felt fleshed out and had believable motivations behind their actions.

Of course I can’t talk about an animated film without bringing up the animation itself. The animation of the first didn’t feel as impressive compared to Pixar’s other films around that time and I feel the same way again about this film. While it’s great to see how animation has improved in the fourteen years between the two films, the animation didn’t wow me like other recent films.

I thought The Incredibles 2 was GOOD πŸ™‚ Once again, Pixar brings one of the most real portrayal of a family in cinema. While the animation wasn’t mind-blowing, the story and characters more than make up for it. Was it worth the fourteen year wait to get a sequel to The Incredibles at last? Absolutely.


Cast & Crew
Brad Bird – Director / Writer
Michael Giacchino – Composer

Craig T. Nelson – Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible (voice)
Holly Hunter – Helen Parr / Elastigirl (voice)
Sarah Vowell – Violet Parr (voice)
Huck Milner – Dashiell Parr (Dash) (voice)
Eli Fucile – Jack-Jack Parr (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson – Lucius Best / Frozone (voice)
Bob Odenkirk – Winston Deavor (voice)
Catherine Keener – Evelyn Deavor (voice)
Brad Bird – Edna Mode (voice)
Michael Bird – Tony Rydinger (voice)
Sophie Bush – Voyd (voice)
Phil LaMarr – Krushauer / Helectrix (voice)
Paul Eiding – Reflux (voice)
Bill Wise – Screenslaver / Pizza Guy (voice)

Movie Quote of the Week – 10/2/15

Movie Quote of the Week bannerAnswer to MWL 9/30/15: Lucius Best aka Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson (voice)) – The Incredibles

There is no way simply transcribing this scene would do it justice, so here is a clip of the entire scene for your enjoyment.Β  Thanks for everyone’s submissions and a super suit for the following people for answering correctly:

Mark (The Animation Commendation)
Kim (Tranquil Dreams)
RK (Vocare Mentor)
Tim (Filmfunkel)
Jay (Assholes Watching Movies)
Rob (Movierob)

The Avengers (Avengers Assemble) Review

The Avengers move posterSynopsis
When Loki (Tom Hiddleston) comes to Earth seeking to enslave all of humanity, the Earth’s mightiest heroes, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) must learn to work together as a team to stop him and his invading Chitauri forces.

This is it. This is what everything since Iron Man leads up to. It was a huge endeavor Marvel took on bringing all these heroes together in one film. Nothing had been done like it before. The idea of a cinematic β€œshared universe” for any franchise was nearly unheard of. However, it makes so much sense looking at the source material. All these characters occupy one comic universe, why can’t they do the same on screen?

Right away it’s easy to feel how the movie is going to go. It opens with a SHIELD base exploding and a high octane chase scene, setting the expectations for the rest of the film. You know right away that the ride is going to be fast paced and exciting. The action throughout the movie was so much fun to watch. With this being a first time team-up between these heroes, they needed to flex their muscles and fight each other (naturally). The highlight being the fight between the Marvel Trinity: Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. Then they came full circle when they were working together as a team fighting the Chitauri at they end. The small things, like Iron Man reflecting his repulsors off Cap’s shield, were the most satisfying.

Joss Whedon is the definition of a fan favorite. He has been involved in beloved series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, one of my personal favorites, Firefly. I can’t think of anyone better Marvel could have picked to pioneer this ultimate team-up. Nothing is wasted. Every moment captured on screen is used efficiently and to progress either the story or a character. There is plenty of organic humor throughout the entire movie. It never feels forced or shoehorned. It’s all friendly banter or very in-line with the character. There is nothing worse than forced humor in a film (OK, I can think of maybe a few things but that’s high up on my list).

I really liked Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk. I wasn’t too happy to hear he was replaced with Mark Ruffalo. My disappointment had nothing to do with Ruffalo but stemmed from wanting to keep actors consistent. But man, am I glad Ruffalo did take over because he is probably the best Banner ever on screen. One of the reasons I think he worked so well in the cast is because he was able to occupy the background without being overshadowed. With actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans who have big personas, I feel Norton would have been another big personality and wouldn’t have meshed as well with the rest of the cast. Whereas Ruffalo is more mellow and can hang back without becoming someone who simply occupies the background. The whole situation was a good blend of personalities.

Another great thing about The Avengers is how seemingly infinitely quotable it is. It seems like every scene someone says something that stuck with me. The better lines mostly come from Stark but other characters get their time to shine, too.

Although this is an ensemble movie (and everyone gets a fair, balanced amount of screen time and development) I have felt Phase One has always been about Tony Stark. He is the one who has grown the most since meeting him in the β€œfunvee” blaring AC/DC’s β€œBack in Black” He was a self-centered egotist but become someone who was willing to sacrifice themselves to save the world. None of the others had as big character growths. I guess it helps, too, that he had two movies before this one.

One of the only complaints I have is Hawkeye getting mind controlled from the beginning. To be straight, my problem isn’t with him getting mind controlled. I feel that his mind control would have more of an impact if we were invested in him more. He had a cameo in Thor, then the next time he is scene he switches sides. It gave off the reaction of β€œSo? why should we care about this guy following Loki?” Of course people who followed the comic books knew why that was a problem but I’m not sure how non-comic book people felt about it.

The Avengers is everything comic fans had hoped it would be and more. The culmination of four years finally paying off in a huge way. It perfectly balances humor and action, as well as characters. The Avengers was a huge gamble that payed of in spades, forever changing superhero films.


Also check out my reviews for the other films in Marvel’s Phase 1: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.

Favorite Quote
Steve Rogers: I want to know why Loki let us take him. He’s not leading an army from here.
Bruce Banner: I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.
Thor: Have care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason but he is of Asgard and he is my brother.
Natasha Romanoff: He killed 80 people in two days.
Thor: He is adopted.


Cast & Crew
Joss Whedon – Director / Screenplay / Story
Zak Penn – Story
Alan Silvestri – Composer

Robert Downey Jr. – Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Evans – Steve Rogers / Captain America
Mark Ruffalo – Bruce Banner / The Hulk
Chris Hemsworth – Thor
Scarlett Johansson – Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Jeremy Renner – Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston – Loki
Clark Gregg – Agen Phil Coulson
Cobie Smulders – Agent Maria Hill
Stellen Skarsgard – Selvig
Samuel L. Jackson – Nick Fury
Gwyneth Paltrow – Pepper Potts
Paul Bettany – JARVIS (voice)
Alexis Denisof – The Other

Jurassic Park Review

Review #81

Jurassic Park movie posterSynopsis
Archeologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and archeobotonist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are invited by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) to visit Jurassic Park, Hammond’s unique prehistoric wildlife preserve, along with choatition Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and Hammond’s grandchildren (Joseph Mazello and Ariana Richards). When systems start failing across the park, Grant and the other guests must survive on an island where dinosaurs are roaming free and causing havoc on the island.

Jurassic Park holds a special place in my heart. Not only because it was the first PG-13 movie my parents let me watch before I was 13 (rebellious, I know), but because it was one of the first movies I would watch over and over again. After viewing it more recently, I realized I had missed several of the finer points of the story when I was younger. I guess the kid in me just enjoyed watching dinosaurs come to life, like most young boys dream of. Even today that is one of my favorite parts about this movie, but now I appreciate more of the nuances of the story, as well as the fantasy of living dinosaurs.

At the time, computer-generated imagery (CGI) was still in it’s infancy. Several movies had dabbled with the it previously, but nothing really substantial. However, Jurassic Park completely embraced the up-and-coming technology, revolutionizing it, leading to the flashy and spectacular effects we see today in blockbusters like Avatar, The Avengers, Pacific Rim, and the recently delayed Jupiter Ascending. And despite being twenty years old, the effects don’t look dated. It looks almost as good as effects you would expect to see today. An amazing feat considering it is one of the earliest films to use CGI.

Before CGI became the predominant method for special effects, animatronics were used. I think this movie is a perfect example of how to use animatronics correctly, and is the pinnacle of the technology (which is funny considering it also ushered in the age of CGI). If the movie had been done completely with CGI, the dinosaurs would not have come life as well as they did. That is one of the reasons Steven Spielberg is my favorite director, because he understood how to use both CGI and animatronics side-by-side.

The Tyrannosaurus Rex is largely featured in the marketing for Jurassic Park. However, the β€œbig baddies,” if you will, are the velociraptors. From the very first scene, literally, they are set up as smart, cunning, and dangerous. First, a worker gets pulled into the cage and eaten. Then Alan Grant (Sam Neill) talks about how they are pack hunters. Later, the characters go to the raptor cage and they discuss how β€œthey don’t want to be fed, they want to hunt.” Then there is a break away from the velociraptors to focus on the T-Rex, but there is a mention about the character causing the power outages knowing not to shut down the power to the velociraptor cage. So finally, when the velociraptors appear on screen, it is well established how deadly they are. It was a fairly slow process, but it did well to establish the threat they possessed.

To me, a movie’s soundtrack and score is very important. It can almost tell you how to feel more than what is happening on screen can. John Williams, my all time favorite film composer, writes a great and memorable soundtrack. But honestly, what would you expect? Everything the man writes is fantastic. His score for Jurassic Park is up there as one of my favorite film scores. I mean, try not to become filled with emotion and wonder and awe when John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) says β€œWelcome to Jurassic Park” and Williams’ Jurassic Park theme starts playing. Go ahead, I dare you.

Some movies have one character who is just fun to hate. In this film, that would be Jeff Golblum’s Ian Malcolm. He’s annoying and obnoxious, but he has a charm to him that I don’t think many other actors other than Goldblum could portray so well.

One thing that surprised me about this movie is how funny it can be. It is by no means laugh out loud funny, but every now and then someone says something that made me smile or even chuckle a little. Even though it wasn’t much, this small amount of humor prevented Jurassic Park from becoming too serious or dark.

Here is your daily fun fact. Several times throughout the movie, Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards) refers to herself as a β€œhacker,” even correcting her brother (Joseph Mazello). Back in the day, the term β€œhacker” didn’t have the negative meaning it usually is said with today. Instead, it meant someone enjoyed exploring computers as a hobby. This included building, modifying, and creating either hardware or software or both. There is your little slice of knowledge for the day. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

Jurassic Park is special to me because it was one of the first movies I really go into. When I was younger, I enjoyed it because of the action and the fantasy of dinosaurs roaming the Earth once again. As I grew older, I started to appreciate it for the story as well. A mix of revolutionary CGI and amazing animatronics give this movie a unique look and feel, truly bringing prehistoric creatures back to life. From the beginning, velociraptors are set up as a dangerous threat, so when they are finally shown on screen, the danger they pose has already been established. John Williams’ Jurassic Park theme is very emotional and one of my favorite movie scores. Although not laugh out loud funny, there is still humor throughout the film that prevents the movie from slipping into a dark tone. No matter how old I get, I will never lose the sense of wonder I felt when I first watched Jurassic Park and believing that, despite this being a piece of fiction, dinosaurs once again roamed the Earth.



Cast & Crew
Steven Spielberg – Director
Michael Crichton – Screenplay / Novel
David Koepp – Screenplay
John Williams – Composer

Sam Neill – Dr. Alan Grant
Laura Dern – Dr. Ellie Sattler
Jeff Goldblum – Dr. Ian Malcolm
Richard Attenborough – John Hammond
Bob Peck – Robert Muldoon
Martin Ferrero – Donald Gennaro
Joseph Mazello – Tim Murphy
Ariana Richards – Lex Murphy
Samuel L. Jackson – Ray Arnold
Wayne Knight – Dennis Nedry

Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Review

Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith movie posterSynopsis
Three years after the start of the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) begins having nightmares about the death of his wife, Padme (Natalie Portman). Hoping not to lose his wife the same way he lost his mother, he searches for a way to prevent her death. He confides in his friend Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) who offers him a solution: learn about the Dark Side of the Force from the Chancellor.

This is it. This is what Star Wars fans have been waiting for since Obi-Wan and Darth Vader first dueled on screen in Star Wars: A New Hope : Anakin’s turn towards the dark side. This easily is the most action-packed of the Star Wars films. It starts in the middle of a dogfight above the planet Coruscant and ends with one of my favorite movie sword fights. The epicness of the large battle seen at the end of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones flows into this movie. Several scenes share the scale of that battle, but are broken up into smaller sequences. Although General Grievous (voiced by Mathew Wood) may not have a strong presence in the movies (The Clone Wars television show is another story), he is one of the most menacing villains, and one of my favorite Star Wars characters (he’s a four lightsaber wielding cyborg, how is that not awesome?). The relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan was built much more than in Attack of the Clones, which is where I feel it should have been built in the first place. Once again, Christensen’s Anakin is the weakest part of this film. Christensen is monotonous and Anakin acts like a child. Although it still has some flaws, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is the strongest movie in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.



Cast & Crew
George Lucas – Director / Writer
John Williams – Composer

Ewan McGregor – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Hayden Christensen – Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman – Padme Amadala
Ian McDiarmid – Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Mathew Wood – General Grievous (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson – Mace Windu
Frank Oz – Yoda (voice)
Jimmy Smits – Senator Bail Organa
Temuera Morrison – Commander Cody
Anthony Daniels – C-3PO
Kenny Baker – R2-D2
Peter Mayhew – Chewbacca
Christopher Lee – Count Dooku