Captain Marvel (2019) Review

Captain Marvel (2019)

Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

Based on Captain Marvel by Stan Lee & Gene Colan & Carol Danvers by Roy Thomas & Gene Colan

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in 1995, the story follows Danvers as she becomes Captain Marvel after Earth is caught in the center of a galactic conflict between two alien worlds.

My Opinion:

I’m short on time & haven’t even done my February Roundup post of movies I’ve watched but figured I better say a little something about Captain Marvel. After all the weird controversy and all the whining and all the sad losers down-voting it online before even seeing it, I didn’t know what the hell to expect. I’ve really enjoyed all the Marvel films although I’d never call them personal favorites and I feel that they’re all the same story and follow the same formula. I’d happily live without more superhero movies for a while. However, the Marvel ones are thoroughly entertaining and have a fun sense of humor that I appreciate (they’re popcorn movies – superhero films should be fun!).

Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick review of Captain Marvel since it’s had such unfair treatment and I wanted another positive review out there in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and, dare I say, I liked it even more than several other MCU films. I thought it was actually stronger as far as story & character development than some of the other standalone origin films (it’s way more fun than Thor, for example, as much as I lust over Hemsworth). I’ve added Captain Marvel to My Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Ranking (HERE). I’m still on a high after seeing it so, yes, I may have it a little too far up the list but it’ll be obvious that my favorite movies are the “funny” ones and I’m happy to say that Captain Marvel has way more humor than I was expecting. Pretty ironic after all the “why can’t she smile on the poster?” idiocy, huh? Samuel L. Jackson was especially hilarious (I adore that badass motherfucker) and it was a delight seeing him with Larson: Their real-life friendship gives them a great on-screen chemistry.

Wait. No. Goose was the most humorous character! Who the hell doesn’t love Goose after seeing this movie?

Is Captain Marvel a perfect film? No. Does it break Marvel’s formulaic superhero mold? No, other than its superhero lead being female. The movie does drag at the start but I feel the same about most other origin films. I thought they could’ve done much more with the characters played by Bening, Law & even Lashana Lynch as they were very underdeveloped. The young girl was sweet – I’d like to see more of her if they were to ever do another film (Oops – I just Googled her character! We’re likely to see her…).


Larson was really good in this role so I’m happy she’s proven everyone wrong (not that haters would ever admit it). I’ll be honest & say that I wasn’t sure of the casting choice either as she’s so good in serious dramas such as Room & Short Term 12 and I couldn’t picture her as a superhero. And as I said earlier, the Larson/Jackson duo was great. Seeing SO much of Nick Fury was fantastic. It’s about time! I loved him and the de-aging thing was scary good.

Will this movie be speaking to me more, though, since I’m female and was a similar age in 1995 so of course loved the references and the music? Probably. (No Doubt! Garbage! Hole! Blockbuster!!). So what? We all like different things and this movie won’t speak to everyone in the same way. I get that. But to trash it (without even seeing it) makes no sense to me. There’s a bit of “girl power” stuff but it’s not over-the-top or annoying (there’s actually a good message about never giving up, which is a message for everyone). In fact, this film is far less “political” than a lot of other superhero films. It’s a typical MCU film but actually more fun than a lot of them. And as for DC, I actually sort of enjoyed Captain Marvel as an overall film a little more than Wonder Woman. Sorry! I do think Wonder Woman is a stronger character. I’m a total sucker for the Eighties more than the Nineties, though, so I’ll probably prefer the next Wonder Woman. Give me 80’s music over 90’s! It feels a little sexist to compare the two but it’s hard to not make a comparison. Both these female-led films are really good examples of the superhero genre and are undeserving of backlash. But I honestly don’t give a shit when it comes to the genders of a film’s stars: I just want a good, entertaining movie. That’s what I got.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Stan Lee Cameo: First of all, there’s a lovely Stan Lee tribute at the start of the film which I’m sure has left everyone very teary-eyed. Then his cameo, fairly early in the film, was easily one of my favorites (and so adorably 90’s!). They even made a very small change to this cameo after his death, which made it even more meaningful (you can read about it HERE but it’s obviously a spoiler).

End Credits Scenes: There are two end credits scenes. The mid-credits scene has me very excited for Endgame (and got a very big reaction from an equally excited audience in my cinema). Don’t miss this scene. There’s also a funny post credits scene that got a lot of laughs from the clued-up people who stuck around (seriously, people – how do you not know by now that there are scenes after the Marvel end credits start rolling?!). Oh – and not only did the mid-credits scene get a huge reaction, all the funny bits in the film got lots of big laughs from my packed audience. So much for the “predictions” that this film would be a flop & that no one wanted to see it…

Number of people using their phones during this movie: Three. STOP LOOKING AT YOUR FUCKING PHONES IN CINEMAS, PEOPLE! It’s a bright fucking screen in a dark fucking room! Do you really think that the eyes of everyone sitting behind you don’t immediately go to your goddamn bright screen when you look at your phone?! SO FUCKING DISTRACTING. So fuck you very much to the woman who ruined the Stan Lee tribute as well as a very important moment of backstory explanation during this film by flashing her stupid phone. *Rant over*

Here’s No Doubt’s Just A Girl. I’ve always loved this song.

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American Beauty (1999) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Steven of Past, Present, Future In TV And Film. Thanks for the review, Steven! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about American Beauty, IMDB rank 51 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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The American family. Such a mystery at times. This easily explains why films and television love to portray them in various ways. What we see in public, is usually just that, what we see.

The DreamWorks Pictures film “American Beauty”, seems to create a very dysfunctional family that aims to be perfect and outstanding to all those on the outside, but with more than just dramatic flare.

This drama stars Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”, “Horrible Bosses”), Annette Bening (“The Face of Love”, “Girl Most Likely”), Thora Birch (“Petunia”, “Pregnancy Pact”), Wes Bentley (“American Horror Story”, “Cesar Chavez”), Mena Suvari (“Chicago Fire”, “American Reunion”), Allison Janney (“Mom”, “Tammy”), and Chris Cooper (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, “August: Osage County”) and Peter Gallagher (” Covert Affairs”, “Whitney”).

The film was directed by Sam Mendes (“Skyfall”, “Away We Go”). It was written by Alan Ball (“True Blood”, “Towelhead”).

The film originally opened in theaters on Oct. 1, 1999 after a limited release on Sept. 8. The film would later go on to receive eight Academy Awards nominations; winning five including Best Picture, six Golden Globe award nominations; winning three including Best Picture-Drama, and four Screen Actors Guild nominations; winning three including Best Cast in a Motion Picture.

Surprisingly, there’s a lot of dark humor. Most of what makes this film absolutely fun too watch, is how there’s a level of satire throughout. It’s not just from bits of dialogue but more importantly situations that occur. One situation later in the film is when Spacey’s character is just lounging at home and playing with a toy race car, when in walks Bening. She’s surprised and as they move into conversation, Spacey’s trying to seduce her. When it seems like things will succeed, she notices that he’s about to spill his beer on the nice couch of hers. Much like many of his actions in the film he turns into some sort of antagonistic person just to spite her.

There’s also a scene involving Bentley and Spacey that’s misinterpreted completely by Cooper’s very conservative father character. Cooper see’s his son, Bentley, over at Spacey’s and believes that there’s some sort of affair going on between them. While I’ll argue Cooper’s character brought this on himself, as he’s too strict and intrusive, it’s a pretty funny set up and speaks so well to his character.

The characters are all so fascinating because of who they are behind closed doors. Which, let’s face it, is pretty much what this film is representing. Incredibly flawed people, but wonderful when out in public. One scene that sent me into fits of laughter was when Bening was preparing herself to show a house, the ridiculous ritual she went through to psych herself up. Everything was so specifically planned and executed that it goes beyond that of a perfectionist. Later, after being unsuccessful, she’s slapping herself and crying for the failure she sees herself as. She’s a perfectionist and cherishes this kind of ideal family, where everything’s perfect, so it’s absolutely hilarious. Even Bening’s look for this character, is perfect! Everything is in place and impeccable, definitely that of a perfectionist. In its own way, this film is like a modern day version of “Ordinary People”, but without the huge and incredibly dramatic story.

While everyone really shined, it was Cooper, that stole the show. His conservative retired Marine Corps Colonel, even all these years later, was a far cry from anything I’d seen him play before. When he came on screen and continued to show his dominance over his family, which was evident from the way Janney’s character behaved, as well as Bentley’s, there was something of a pull towards his character. For a man you could spend much of the film disliking, there was still enough to make him somewhat vulnerable and remind you that he too is human.

One thing that I definitely noticed was the score created by Thomas Newman (“Get on Up”, “Saving Mr. Banks”). For films that aren’t action films it seems difficult to capture the feeling of a dramatic film or a comedy. Here, Newman managed to balance both. He created playful tunes and dramatic tones to fit the moment, which was usually brought on by something the character was doing or feeling. The score helped to make the film a bit more satirical at times and whimsical. Either being its own character or enhancing the different characters in the film.

Somehow, and this I find difficult to discuss most of the time, I love how brilliant the writing for this film is. The first moment I saw this film, and when I came back to it, I was hooked by all that was going on. The characters are each so different and well defined that it didn’t take much to decide how I should feel towards each one. One scene early on, that shows this is when the family is leaving the house and Bening and Birch are both impatient, but Spacey is going as fast as he can. Somehow it’s not enough. His briefcase falls open and that just manages to annoy both of them even more. Then you add in the general nature of the dialogue and you get so much clever, dark, and witty humor. It helps to define what stages they’re in in their lives and how they view each other. This writing makes for some pretty interesting situations throughout this film, that it’s hard to look away.

As a film lover I’m constantly aware of films from the past, especially those that earn widespread acclaim. However, there’s something that usually keeps me from seriously seeking out these films. Fortunately this film was just one of those films, otherwise, I don’t know if I could appreciate it for what it is and enjoy every aspect of the film. I can easily imagine missing so much of the humor or not being able to form my own thought on what I feel this film represents. Some things you can only appreciate when you’re older.

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The Great Outdoors (1988) Review

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The Great Outdoors (1988)

Directed by Howard Deutch

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Dan Aykroyd
John Candy
Stephanie Faracy
Annette Bening
Robert Prosky
Chris Young
Ian Giatti
Hillary and Rebecca Gordon
Lucy Deakins
Bart the Bear

Running time: 91 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
John Candy plans to enjoy a nice vacation with his family but his annoying in-laws show up & ruin everything.

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My Opinion:

I watched this the other day just in case I needed to review it. Then the lovely Smash reviewed it for me (she’s awesomely hilarious so you should just go & read her review instead of mine. seriously – I suck). 🙂 So I wasn’t going to review this. But then I remembered way back to December 2013…. You see, I started this blog at the end of 2012 & then kept a very anal list of EVERY movie I watched in 2013 (list HERE). Then, by December 2013, I suddenly went a bit mental & decided that I NEEDED to review every freaking one of those 2013 movies that I’d watched and I think I still had about 12 or so un-reviewed (that’s probably not a word). So I quickly cranked out 12 or so shitty reviews. So to save myself that same panic come December 2014, I better review this fucker now! (Yeah – I’ve started a 2014 list. Here it is! I’m already behind!)

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I’m glad Smash loved this movie. I can see why. It’s the type of movie where, if you saw it at the time and pretty much grew up with it, you’ll have fond memories of it. I did see it years ago but only once and I didn’t remember too much beyond the waterskiing scene. Having re-watched it again for the first time in years, I’m afraid to say that it hasn’t aged that well. To compare it to other Hughes movies, I’d say it especially hasn’t aged well compared to Planes, Trains & Automobiles or Uncle Buck, both of which I think many people would still enjoy today even if they’re watching them for the very first time. The Great Outdoors was 1988 but something about it makes it feel even older than that. I’d say that even the first two Vacation films feel a bit more “fresh” than this one. (Sorry – don’t hate me! It’s still a fun movie and, as I said, I can understand why some would be very fond of it).

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The characters: John Candy – loveable as always. Dan Aykroyd – fine. as Dan Aykroyd-y as always. The kids – fine, nothing special (but I did like how the twin girls were a bit like The Shining twins). The wives – fine. Annette Bening’s character was a little annoying. Umm… Oh! Lucy Deakins – She’s a cutie. I don’t know why she wasn’t in more stuff. Here’s an embarrassing confession (luckily, no one reads my reviews anyway. ha!) – I LOVE a little movie she was in called The Boy Who Could Fly. That movie ROCKS! And the boy in the title was played by Jay Underwood, who also played Bug in Uncle Buck with John Candy! There you go – six degrees of Kevin Bacon (who was in Planes, Trains & Automobiles with John Candy who was in The Great Outdoors with Annette Bening who is married to Warren Beatty who has had sex with most of Hollywood which will somehow also connect him to Kevin Bacon and where the fuck am I going with this?!).

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I’m tired. The Great Outdoors is dated but John Candy is in it and we all love him so who cares. The Vacation films are better. As is Planes, Trains & Automobiles. And Uncle Buck. And Home Alone. And all of the teen John Hughes movies. But it’s better than Baby’s Day Out!

My Rating: 6/10

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The Great Outdoors (1988) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Smash of Smashing Through Life!. Thanks for being a part of this blogathon, Smash! Now let’s see what she thinks of The Great Outdoors. 🙂

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The Great Outdoors

This is a great movie. Straight up, I can’t put it any simpler than that. This is one of those movies that makes me feel all warm and gooey inside because of the overflowing childhood nostalgia that comes with every viewing. It’s the kind of movie I watched once and then loved it so much that I re-watched it hundreds of times over the course of my childhood. And I’ll probably watch it another couple hundred times in the years to come.

It’s summertime, and that means family vacation for the Ripleys. Chet Ripley is excited to take his wife and their two boys vacationing at a lake resort in Wisconsin for some much needed family bonding. Unfortunately for Chet, his sister-in-law and her obnoxious husband show up at the cottage unexpectedly and totally horn in on his vacation. And they’ve got their creepy twin girls in tow, too. Like all family vacations there are ups and downs, so a whole bunch of petty bickering accompanies all of the ooey gooey sappy family moments to even things out. But in the end, they all have an unforgettable summer together. I’m not going to waste too much time on plot because I’m sure most of you are familiar with this one, so that’s the gist of it.

There are so many memorable scenes in this movie:
– The raccoons raiding the garbage bins chattering to each other about how hotdogs are made up of lips and assholes
– The grizzly bears climbing all over the cars because Chet put out candy bars to attract them
– The water skiing scene, c’mon. It’s John Candy on water skiis. Who can resist that! “You bastard! You bastard!”
– The guy that gets struck by lightening so many times that he’s a stuttering mess
– The epic steak eating challenge at the local bar, old 96’er a 96 ounce steak… and he does it! He’s got the free t-shirt to show for it
– When the bat gets trapped in the cottage and the men have to try and catch it, all bundled up in homemade armour
– When the teenager rubs his pool cue unknowingly between a cute girl’s legs and somehow it leads to a passionate summer romance
– And who could forget, the bald-headed bear who eventually becomes a bald-assed bear

I mean, this is a really freaking memorable movie. Even that great dance sequence that plays to the tune of Wilson Pickett’s Land of a 1000 Dances during the end credits, man I love that shit. Because of that dance sequence, this is probably one of the only movies that I actually watch all the way through the end credits. And I dance along with it too, because I have to. The power of Aykroyd compels me.

John Candy is/was a Canadian National Treasure. I mean, who doesn’t love John Candy to pieces? Assholes, that’s who. And Dan Aykroyd ain’t no slouch either. The guy is a freaking Blues Brother after all (and also Canadian, might I remind you.) It’s a double whammy of comedic awesomeness from two of the best Canucks to ever make their mark on the silver screen.

The characters are all very relatable, the story moves along at that wonderful never-a-dull-moment pace, and the by the end of you almost feel like you’ve been on the vacation too. Overall, The Great Outdoors is a really fun viewing experience and has endless re-watchability. If you haven’t yet seen this movie, then pop it on one rainy hungover afternoon this coming summer. It’ll be the perfect way to spend your day, I promise.

Ruby Sparks (2012) Review

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Ruby Sparks (2012)

Directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris

Written by Zoe Kazan

Starring:
Paul Dano
Zoe Kazan
Annette Bening
Antonio Banderas
Steve Coogan
Elliott Gould
Chris Messina

Running time: 104 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is a novelist who, while suffering from writer’s block, creates a character named Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan). Calvin starts to fall in love with her and, much to his surprise, wakes one day to find a very real Ruby Sparks in his kitchen.

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My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see Ruby Sparks for ages because I LOVE the idea. It’s such a simple idea for a plot, really, but there were so many ways they could have chosen to go with the film. What would you do if you could write a person into existence & have complete control over them? How many of us would do the right thing & how many of us would abuse that power? I like movies that explore the ramifications (that’s a big word for me!) of situations such as this one.

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Instead of one of my wordy reviews where I go on & on, I’ll keep this simple. I enjoyed Ruby Sparks. It’s a great story AND I even really liked how they chose to end it. There were many different ways they could have gone with the ending & I found it a satisfying conclusion (I’m often disappointed by how films end). The whole script seemed solid and was apparently written by the girl who stars as Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan). I don’t know anything about her but I think she shows huge promise as a writer based on this film. She was also probably the highlight of the film as far as the characters were concerned.

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I wasn’t crazy about the character of Calvin but that could be because Paul Dano just kind of rubs me the wrong way. I feel bad saying that kind of stuff because, you know, Paul Dano might read this someday & then I’d feel bad. Other characters such as his mother & her boyfriend (Annette Bening & Antonio Banderas) and his therapist (Elliott Gould) are just quirky enough in that indie movie sort of way without being annoyingly so. Calvin’s relationship with his brother (Chris Messina) is the most interesting one in the film (outside of his relationship with Ruby, of course). His brother has different theories on women & relationships and has his own opinions on how Calvin should deal with having the ability to control Ruby just by writing whatever he wants about her.

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Summary:

The movie asks a good question – if we could actually change our partners and make them exactly the way we want them, would we and, more importantly, SHOULD we? I loved the story & it’s handled very well but, overall, it’s not a movie I’d really feel the need to watch again after seeing it the one time. I didn’t fully connect with the characters (particularly Calvin, who is quite depressing – it’s clear why he’s had so much trouble with relationships in the past). Ruby is a good creation, though, and it’s a very good script – I’d watch another movie written by and/or starring Zoe Kazan.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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