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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Ready Player One (2018) Review 

Ready Player One (2018)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Based on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.

My Opinion:

Where do I start?? I really enjoyed this film and, yes, I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t realize so many people had a problem with the book until reading Twitter these past few months. What the fuck was with all the backlash?! Fucking hell, people. Get a grip. It’s a fun, harmless story that was written for nerds obsessed with 80’s pop culture. Not your kind of thing? Fine. Don’t read the book or watch the movie. Maybe just shut the fuck up and let people reminisce if that’s what makes them happy? I really enjoy Twitter but the self-righteous bullshit is very hard to handle sometimes.

Okay – I’m clearly in a bad mood! I’ll just talk about the movie now. If you’ve read and enjoyed the book, be aware that there are loads of changes. This normally bothers me but I kind of liked it this time. I felt like I was watching a whole new story involving the same characters and it was entertaining to watch & not already know what was going to happen every step of the way. I kind of feel like there are two completely separate Ready Player One stories now and both are enjoyable. I’ll stay spoiler free so won’t go into any details but the biggest things changed (completely!) are the challenges involved in finding each key. Being a big film fan, I loved one of these new challenges and I’m very glad that bit stayed a surprise for me. So try to avoid spoilers and watch this soon if you’re a pop culture nerd like me.

I’ll say this, though – the movie doesn’t stay as true to the “EIGHTIES!!!!” thing as the book. I understand this will have been done to please a more general movie audience but it’s kind of a shame. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still shitloads of 80’s pop culture but it’s not as in-your-face as the book. Which is good in some ways but I still feel that the 80’s kids are being a tiny bit cheated with the film version. And the movie goes more “movie nerd” than “game nerd”, which is definitely more my kind of thing so I’m not complaining. But I think the lovers of classic video games may be a little disappointed at them having a far smaller part in the film.

I’m still trying to sort my thoughts out on this movie. I know this is one where I really should wait a while before writing about it… Is it going to be an all-time favorite Spielberg movie of mine? Probably not but he has so many great ones that it would be hard for him to ever top his classic films. I did do my Top Ten Steven Spielberg Movies HERE and I can say that Ready Player One wouldn’t make it onto that list. But I’ll post an updated list sometime and it will probably make it into the ten since I’d count the Indiana Jones (trilogy!!) as one on my own blog.

Sorry – I know I’ve said very little in this “review”. I’m having to keep things short on the blog lately due to lack of time. Plus I think it’s important to avoid spoilers for this one, making it hard to discuss. Plus… I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed having a new Spielberg sci-fi thrill ride of a film. It was a lot of fun to watch and I’d forgotten it was 2 hours & 20 minutes long as it didn’t feel that way since there’s always so much going on. The characters, though changed slightly, are done as well as they need to be to keep the audience interested in their story and I think Spielberg improved things by focusing even more on their friendship.

Overall, the changes made for the movie were mostly improvements on what I realize isn’t exactly classic American literature. Yes, Spielberg “has done it again!”. I love Spielberg and I love him returning to this style of sci-fi. However, like the 80’s pop culture the story wishes to emulate, this movie will always just feel like a tribute to Spielberg’s best films as opposed to actually being one of his best. I really enjoyed Ready Player One, I’ll definitely watch it again, and I’ll buy it as soon as it’s released on DVD. But I’d still rather watch a genuine classic film from the Eighties instead.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: No, there’s nothing during or after the credits.

Darkest Hour (2017) Review

Darkest Hour (2017)

Directed by Joe Wright

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, Ben Mendelsohn

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, and is a fictionalised account of his early days as Prime Minister, as Nazi Germany swept across Western Europe, threatening to defeat Great Britain during World War II, leading to friction at the highest levels of government.

My Opinion:

I’m not a history buff. It was always one of my least favorite subjects in school. I wonder why? I just always found it boring. I like fictional stories set in the future. We were all wankers in the past. Of course, we’re even bigger wankers now so… I guess there’s not much hope for the future anyway.

But I liked this movie far more than I was expecting. Gary Oldman is probably the biggest reason. He’s brilliant! Give him the damn Oscar, Academy!!! And the story was intense. Okay, I’m no history buff but I at least have a very basic knowledge of WWII. I can’t imagine living in the UK during that time. I didn’t know just how intense it became during the “Darkest Hour”, though. UK kids should be watching this movie (mine did). They should have a better understanding of British history than they probably do. In my defense, I grew up in America so the only real focus in my history lessons was, of course, ‘Murrica. F*^k yeah!

Back to Oldman. Ahhh, he’s so good! To be fair, I can’t say I know much about Churchill’s look & voice. All I know is that it did NOT feel like I was watching Gary Oldman. I do like watching movies where actors play real life people but I always feel like I’m watching that actor playing make-believe. Like anyone Tom Hanks plays… He’s a good actor but I feel like I’m watching Hanks playing a role the entire time. You don’t have to suspend disbelief when it comes to Oldman and that’s what I love. I like movies & stories more than the actors themselves. I want to fully buy into the characters. Oldman has always been a true chameleon, though, as mentioned in My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies post (which I’ve just updated to add Darkest Hour). If he doesn’t win the Oscar this year, the Academy can go f*^k itself (Okay, I say this a lot. The winners often piss me off).

The WWII story itself held my attention the whole time (it helps when you have very little knowledge of what happened). I actually finally watched The King’s Speech after seeing this and it was interesting to see some of the same events from the King’s perspective instead of Churchill’s (That’s a good movie too, by the way – Not sure why I never wanted to watch it). Now I’m just waiting for Dunkirk to show up on Netflix or Prime and that will fill in my gaps in knowledge on that, which is a big part of Darkest Hour. What would I do without pretty movies giving me nice, glossy history lessons?!

WWII history aside, though, Darkest Hour also shows Churchill’s relationships with various people and this is what I most care about in movies. We see him with his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), his young secretary (Lily James), and the King (Ben Mendelsohn, not Colin Firth), as well as many other political dudes (but the first three are the main focus). His interactions with the two women were especially good & gave you more insight into Churchill as a person instead of just as a Prime Minister.

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit despite not being big on historical films and highly recommend it to anyone who loved Dunkirk. It makes no sense to watch that one without watching this one as well. As for me, I just find Christopher Nolan overrated so that’s my excuse for waiting for that one to show up on one of my movie services…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Review

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

***SPOILER-FREE REVIEW***

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Rogue One follows a group of Rebel spies on a mission to steal design schematics for the Galactic Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star.

My Opinion:

This is going to be really short because a) I have a headache & want to go to bed and b) I’ve realized that no one actually reads anything that I write anyway. Ha! 😉 So I’m more interested in having a discussion about this movie with all of you in the comments instead of me rambling on about the movie for ages. So spoiler-free review but spoilerific in the comment section once you’ve all seen this. Here are my initial thoughts:

I might come back to this movie in a week and give some further thoughts on it here like I did a few days after my initial review of The Force Awakens (review HERE). With The Force Awakens, I wanted to re-visit it a few days after my excitement died down to see if I really DID like it as much as I seemed to (my initial reaction was right – I still love it). Rogue One is quite different in that I don’t instantly love it in the same way I did The Force Awakens. Not even close. I think it’s known by now that this is a very “different” Star Wars movie and I can confirm that that’s indeed an accurate statement. This one is going to take some getting used to. Will I like it more after some time has passed? I honestly have no idea. I hope so…

This isn’t your typical “family” Star Wars movie. This isn’t your straightforward black & white, good vs evil type of story. So many shades of gray to these characters, which is great & very grown-up. But that will also make for a much more divisive movie. And, no – your kids probably aren’t going to like this one very much. If at all. Do NOT let this one be their introduction to the Star Wars universe! FYI – the proper way to introduce kids is to show them in release-date order in my humble (and correct) opinion. If you don’t start with A New Hope, you’re doing it wrong! 😉

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is another strong female lead, which I’ll never complain about. I’m loving this current movie trend! She’s no Leia or Rey, though. I didn’t have the instant connection with her like I did with Rey. With Rey, I was shocked to find by the end of the film that I cared about her just as much as I do the original trilogy characters. Same with Finn & BB-8 – these characters ARE Star Wars to me and I absolutely cannot wait to see them again in the next movie. Unfortunately, I can’t say I felt any connection like this with any of the Rogue One characters. I enjoyed watching the story unfold and lead up to A New Hope, my favorite of all the films. But I just felt a bit empty by the end. I didn’t really care about these people. Oh man… I don’t want to say that about a Star Wars movie!

Okay – I did like two characters a lot. Don’t get me wrong – I really did like Jyn Erso but she wasn’t my favorite character in the end. The two who really stole the show were Donnie Yen as Chirrut ÃŽmwe & Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus. Actually, I loved these guys! Great characters, but they didn’t feel like “Star Wars characters” (not that anyone really did). I’d happily watch a standalone movie with these two characters, though – they were fantastic. They kicked ass, were super cool, and had great chemistry. Without them, I’d probably rate this movie quite a bit lower to be honest. I was thankful they were in it as the movie seriously picked up once they showed up.

Sorry – I said this would be super short. I’m going to end here & see how I feel about Rogue One a week from now. I certainly didn’t hate it but I also know I don’t instantly love it the way I did with The Force Awakens. I’ve not read any reviews yet to avoid spoilers but the one thing I kept seeing on Twitter was that it “feels like Star Wars!”. I’m not sure I agree with that statement. Sorry….

My Initial Rating: 7.5/10

The Place Beyond The Pines (2012) Review

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Seriously – this is a 2012 movie??

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Starring:
Ryan Gosling
Bradley Cooper
Eva Mendes
Dane DeHaan
Emory Cohen
Ray Liotta
Ben Mendelsohn
Rose Byrne
Mahershala Ali
Bruce Greenwood
Harris Yulin

Music By: Mike Patton. That’s right – of Faith No More! Cool. Noticed his name in the credits and wanted to make sure to mention him – love Faith No More. And… Anyone remember Mr Bungle?? Ha!

Plot:

I’m not sure if I should go into the plot much. The way they are marketing this film, by only really focusing on Ryan Gosling, is a bit misleading. Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a motorcycle stuntman. While in town with a travelling fair he works for, he sees an ex-lover of his (Romina, played by Eva Mendes). Luke learns that Romina’s one-year-old son is his. Luke decides to stay in town and help to raise his son even though Romina has moved on & is with another man. He gets a job at an auto repair shop but, when that doesn’t earn him enough money to help his son, he turns to robbing banks. Luke soon becomes addicted to this “easy” way of getting money.

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This is all pretty much everything I read about before seeing the film. But there’s MUCH more to the movie than just this one story about Luke. So don’t go to it expecting the entire movie to just be about Ryan Gosling going on a bank-robbing spree. The movie is better than just that.

I really enjoyed this movie. My hubby didn’t so much. He thinks it’s because I have the hots for Gosling but I don’t think that has anything to do with it. He’s still hot, even with some really ugly tattoos and a Metallica t-shirt, but he certainly doesn’t do it for me as much in this film as in others. And he’s good in this, as always, but he doesn’t steal the whole show. His character isn’t quite as strong as in other films – he was much deeper in things like Lars And The Real Girl & Half Nelson and he was “cooler” and more mysterious in Drive. The director, Derek Cianfrance, also did Blue Valentine. I still haven’t fully decided if I prefer that or Pines but I do think Gosling’s character was more well-developed in Valentine & he delivered a better performance. But, overall, Pines is probably a more “entertaining” film with a better story as opposed to Valentine which is more about the performances than the story.

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If you love Drive, you MIGHT like Pines but don’t go to it expecting it to be anything like it. It’s very different. There was a bit of a hoodie at our screening – he did stay for the whole thing but he & his woman kept talking to each other about being bored. This is where I always get a bit snobby and say things like “people need to find a little something out about a movie before going to it!” but to be fair, although I knew what kind of movie it was as I’m a movie lover & do my research, I do think they’re making this movie look a little too much like another Drive. As to be expected as it’s the same director, it’s much more like Blue Valentine. It’s a drama. It has a slow pace. It IS a little overlong (as much as I enjoyed it I did feel it could have been cut down by half an hour). It’s my kind of thing, though. It’s not going to be for everyone.

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As for the stories (as I said, there’s more to it than just the story of Luke and this has been hinted at in enough reviews that I don’t think I’m spoiling anything), they were all good but I especially liked the first one & the final one. The final one was a complete surprise as I knew nothing at all about that one before seeing the film. I think I felt the most for the characters in the final bit & found my heart pounding a little when there were a couple of times where you really didn’t know what was going to happen to them. I thought all the characters in the whole film felt realistic as well – these seemed like real people because I thought they acted in ways that real-life people in the same situations may behave (not as common in movies as it should be!). As it’s marketed in that Drive kind of way, I thought it would be really violent. It’s not. There were a few times where I thought it might suddenly get crazy-Drive-level-violent but it thankfully didn’t. Not saying I don’t like Drive – I love it. But this film didn’t feel the need to up the violence or the action or to start acting all “cool”. It kept things slow & steady but it still had me on the edge of my seat at the end in a similar way to how I felt while watching American History X. Not sure why this comparison popped into my head while watching Pines – I think the tension I felt toward the end was quite similar (although American History X is definitely a better film).

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A quick mention of the performances: As I said, Gosling is good as always but it’s not his strongest role. Eva Mendes is good as is Mahershala Ali, who plays her boyfriend. I liked the character Ben Mendelsohn plays – the owner of the body shop where Gosling works. Ray Liotta is… sooooo Ray Liotta! So, you’ll be happy if you like Ray Liotta but I found it quite disappointing that he’s playing the same role here that he ALWAYS plays. In fact, that’s probably the thing I liked least about this film. Dane DeHaan also plays a very similar character to one he’s played before but he’s very good at that sort of role and I thought he was very good in this – he’s possibly one of the best things about this movie, actually. For me the most pleasant surprise was probably Bradley Cooper, though. He plays a rookie cop. This is also widely known about the plot (if there’s a bank robber there has to be a cop!) but they REALLY don’t focus much on him in the trailers & things I’d seen beforehand. It’s a big role! Honestly, the only thing I’d really seen him in was The Hangover so, naturally, I wasn’t overly impressed with him. (The Hangover isn’t really my type of thing). But then he was suddenly up for an Oscar! (I really do want to see Silver Linings Playbook). So, yeah – turns out he can act. I thought he was good as the rookie cop who’s a bit unsure of himself.

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Summary: I liked this a lot but it’s not for everyone. It’s a slow-paced drama with some very good performances but not any really amazing ones. It’s a little overlong but has a good sense of growing tension, especially at the end, which kept me very gripped. And I really cared about most of the characters. Good drama. I recommend it. But remember it is NOTHING like Drive. Overall, though, something holds this movie back from being excellent instead of just very good. No, I don’t know what that something is. If I knew, I’d be the one making the movies! 🙂

My Rating: 8/10

Mike Patton – The Snow Angel

The Ryan Gosling Project

My Top Five Metallica Songs