Well, Marvel has done what many have said they couldn't do. Many scoffed at the idea of The Avengers. To pull this off, Marvel would need to introduce each character in their own film and sell the audience on that character from the beginning. There would be no room for error. Even ONE bad movie out of the bunch could sink everything that they've put together. Who could blame people for being skeptical? However, it is my proud duty to inform you that, with the release of Captain America: The First Avenger, they have succeeded. Every movie in this series, from Iron Man to Captain America, has been great; now all that remains is The Avengers (more on that later). For those that don't know, the film follows the origin story of the titular Captain. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a puny but patriotic kid from Brooklyn who wants nothing more than to sign up for the Army and kick some Nazi arsch. He is offered a chance to take part in a Super Soldier experiment that turns him into the perfect American hero, with amazing strength, endurance, and agility. The casting here is great; Evans is a perfect Cap, appearing very down-to-Earth and likable at the same time, despite portraying a star-spangled Boyscout. Hugo Weaving is quite good as the Red Skull, but there isn't a great Hero/Villain relationship (an prime example would be Batman (Michael Keaton) and the Joker (Jack Nicholson) in Tim Burton's Batman, or Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Darth Vader (Sebastian Shaw/James Earl Jones) in the Star Wars movies). Red Skull is a Nazi and Cap is an American soldier, so of course they're going to hate eachother, but there's nothing there that makes this Hero/Villain match-up especially unique. Hayley Atwell plays the beautiful-but-cunning Peggy Carter, Cap's love interest, a great departure from the "Lois Lane" we usually see in these kinds of movies. The standout for me (aside from Evans) is Dominic Cooper, who does a fantastic job playing Howard Stark (father of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) from Iron Man). The very second he steps on screen, you can tell, "yup, that's Tony's father." The special effects are, for the most part, quite good. There's heavy use of CGI, but there's only a one or two shots where it's BLATANT CGI (ie. looks especially bad). The makeup for the Red Skull is a standout here, combining practical effects and some digital tweaking to make something that looks really REAL. Also, whereas Thor's 3D seemed arbirtrary and distracting, the 3D here is actually done REALLY well, and is well worth the price of admission. As many before me have said, there IS one shot in 3D involving the shield that WILL make you jump. 3D that actually gets a reaction out of me is an impressive feat, and here it is used to the film's strength. It isn't gimmicky or overused (there aren't fifty "WOAH, LOOK AT THIS SHIELD, MRRROWWWWRRRRRR IT'S COMING RIGHT AT YOU!!!" shots), but it's not underused and distracting (like Thor's). The atmosphere is great, and it really works well as a period piece in the same vein as Indiana Jones or The Rocketeer. I'm not ashamed to say that I felt a bit patriotic during the montage around a quarter in when Cap is selling war bonds and socking Ol' Adolf in the jaw. Captain America is a great ride and the thrilling final chapter in the path leading up to The Avengers.
My Rating: SEE IT IN 3D.
Thought it was over didn't you? No, much like these movies, I've decided to hide a little Easter Egg regarding The Avengers at the very end, right after most people have aready left! So, right, The Avengers. In addition to a little bonus clip showing us what became of Cap after the end of The First Avenger, we actually get a full-length TRAILER! And oh my God, what a trailer it is. This thing left me hyped something fierce. The idea of it sounds incredible enough; Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, and Captain America, all in the same movie! But when you actually SEE these guys together... It got me excited, to say the least. Anyone who stayed after Thor should know the direction the story will be going in, so there's not much to talk about there. Sadly, we didn't get to see the Hulk at all... Pity, but of course Marvel's going to play up the Jolly Green Giant in the same way they played up the monsters in Cloverfield or Super-8; you have to see the movie to get a good look at him. In addition to the amazing Avengers trailer was the Amazing Spiderman trailer. I might write an entire article on this one (because I have a LOT to say about it), but for now I'll just say this; first person wall-crawling, on the big screen, in 3D. With The Amazing Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Avengers, 2012 looks to be The Year of the Superhero Movie. And it can't come soon enough.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
While this didn't get a theatrical release, I figured I would review it anyways. Batman: Under the Red Hood is an adaptation of the Death of Jason Todd/Red Hood storyline from the comics, in the same vein as other DC animated features such as Superman: Doomsday, which followed the Death of Superman storyline. In short, a new vigilante rises in Gotham City, known as the Red Hood. He deals out vigilante style justice and it's up to Batman to stop him. The voice work here is really well done. Neil Patrick Harris voices Nightwing, but he feels a bit underused. He has great chemestry with Batman, yet he only appears in the first half or so of the movie (please note that I have not read the Red Hood storyline, so I'm not sure if this is completely accurate to the original story told in the comics). The real standout preformance here is, as with most Batman-related media, the Joker, voiced by John DiMaggio. Anyone who's watched Futurama or Adventure Time knows theat DiMaggio always does great work, and this is no exception. Mark Hamill is still the best animated Joker, but whereas Hamill's Joker sounds very creepy, DiMaggio's sounds more tough, like he really COULD go up against the Dark Knight hand-to-hand and actually stand a chance. There's some great moments here, the best being a meeting between the Black Mask and the Joker (but I wouldn't DARE spoil what happens here). My only real grip here is the ending. It doesn't so much end as it does stop. There's at least one MAJOR plot point that is completely ignored, which was a huge mark against an otherwise solid film. But, disregarding the abrupt ending, the animation is nice, the voice acting is great, the action is intense, and this is overall a really nice treat for any Bat-Fan.
My Rating: Check it out!
My Rating: Check it out!
Posted by Mark at 10:18 AM
Friday, July 15, 2011
*CAUTION*HERE BE SPOILERS*CAUTION*
And so here we are, the final part of the final chapter of the epic tale of Harry Potter. To think that I was in Kindergarten when these movies began. And now, here I am 10 years later, reviewing the final one. Let's get this out of the way first; yes, this movie is good. Not just good, FANTASTIC. It was brilliant. Possibly my favorite of all of these wonderful movies. Part 2 picks up RIGHT after Part 1. It replays the scene of Voldemort stealing the elder wand and the movie begins, so it is HIGHLY recommended that you watch Part 1 before seeing Part 2. The acting, as always, is excellent. However, I'm afraid I must take ten points from Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort). Now don't get me wrong, he is a SPECTACULAR Voldemort. I honestly cannot picture ANYONE else in the role. However, there are times when he appears to portray the Dark Lord as severely constipated. Let me give you an example: the scene where Harry uses the Ressurrection Stone in the Forbidden Forest is a beautiful moment. I honestly teared up when Harry faced his mother, who said how brave her boy had been. Directly after this, Harry meets up with Voldemort, who, instead of simply saying "Avada Kedavra", screams "MYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVVVAAAAADAAAAAAAAAA KEDAAAAAVVVVRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!". I couldn't help but crack up at such a fantastic display of ham, and chuckling after such a wonderful and touching scene does not work in favor of the film. Occasional nitpicks like this are brushed aside however, due to just how wonderful this movie is as a whole. The pacing is excellent. There was not a moment where I wished the movie would move along or slow down. Potter-Purists like myself may have been a tad dissappointed at previous films changing scenes and even entire plot devices from the book (*cough cough* GOBLET OF FIRE), but there are very few changes this time around. Some of these changes are admittedly better than the book (let's face it, Neville probably wouldn't walk away from having his head lit on fire, at least not without Harvey Dent-Level scars) and some of the absolute best moments are kept ("NOT MY DAUGHTER YOU BITCH"). I got a tad misty-eyed several times throughout the movie, but mostly at the end. There's nothing particularly sad at the end. And it wasn't anything particularly sad that set me off. Just the sign reading "Platform 9 3/4". It was then when the full force of this movie hit me; this is the end. It's been a swell ride, but now it's over... For me and many others, the magical world of Harry Potter has been a major part of our lives. For me in particular, Harry Potter was a huge influence in my childhood. And now it was over. No more books, no more movies. It felt like I had lost a dear friend. The tale of Harry Potter has officially come to a close. But as Neville said, "Harry may be dead, but he isn't gone... he's right here..."
This movie is a proper close to one of the greatest series of all time.
My Rating: SEE IT.
Posted by Mark at 4:24 PM