I Don’t Know What To Make of Marvel’s The Eternals

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I mean it when I say I don’t know what to make of this movie. Marvel’s The Eternals isn’t a normal Marvel movie. It breaks the formula and is so different tonally you’d be forgiven for not getting that comfort dopamine of a Marvel movie. You can’t watch Black Widow and then watch this and say  “Oh jeez that Marvel formula at it again!” That’s both good and bad, and ends up making a totally average movie.

I’m not familiar at all with Chloe Zhao’s work as a director. But this movie very much doesn’t feel like Black Widow or Ant-Man. I appreciate the attempt to try and make something feel so different. Make something that is very much of its own and not just another in the list. There’s a focus on cinematography here that you don’t normally get in these movies. Almost every scene has a strong shot emphasizing silhouettes and colour palettes and vision of the scene to convey the emotion. And that’s cool!

But the movie is long and a bit boring.

Introducing ten characters is a lot. This isn’t like the original Avengers or Civil War, where you have a big team but you’re already mostly familiar with 80% of the cast. These are all newbies. I’m a comic dork and I knew nearly nothing about these folks, so it doesn’t even have the benefit of a Justice League where you might know not this The Flash, but you do know The Flash.

One benefit to the entirely new characters it that many of them steal names from history: Ikaris, Sersi, (a)Thena, Ajak and Gilgamesh are all names you should have heard and have some idea of what they’re referencing. I’m sure the others in Makkari, Sprite, Phastos, Druig and Kingo have basis in something as well though I’m just not familiar. 

When you have so many characters, it can be difficult to differentiate them but the movie does a well enough job to do that. You understand each individual power set and personality pretty easily. You could argue its reductive and simple, but it’s a 2.5 hour movie with 10 newbies, evil monsters and a Big Cosmic so it’s forgivable.

Characters do change in this film though and they do seem to hold to their convictions. There isn’t any “aw shucks okay I change my mind” scene just for convenience. Out of our cast of ten, there is only one or two that don’t really have a significant change. How much you care and sympathize though is up to you. I waffled and most didn’t grab me.

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The movie is on a timeline to an extinction event, which I get you need for this level of characters considering they’re basically angels or gods or whatever, but there also doesn’t feel like there is urgency until the very final conflict. The build doesn’t have to be frantic, but you don’t really get the sense of urgency or importance of a “the earth is going to explode by lunch time” level thing. You don’t feel that ticking clock. 

You also get to learn that these characters have been around and interacting/protecting humanity since way way way back when sharp sticks were the closest thing to weapons we had.

I am a sucker for when movies or video games or TV going back in time and adding little asterisks to history and filling in notes in the margins with new details. when they go back in time and weave themselves into history in a fun way. Gilgamesh the ancient warrior? He was an Eternal! These folks were hanging at Babylon. Icarus, Circe and Athena? They’re actually Ikaris, Sersi and Thena! Eternals! Hiroshima? The Eternals fault!

If you’re going to pull the “we were here all along” thing, then that’s a fun way to do it that helps add a bit of believability to your world. 

At the same time, there is a lameness to hidden characters that have been here all along and secretly being the guiding hand of history. Especially when you learn the reason they were sent, you can pretty easily say “hey, why didn’t you help with all the bad stuff?” and the answer isn’t particularly strong.

I don’t know if the movie is trying to make a religious point about any particular sect with that. You can have In The Shadows organizations, but the good ones have realistic limitations. Men In Black works because the world is totally normal outside of the weirdo nonsense in their direct jurisdiction. But this is a world with wizards and robots and and an unlimited supply of floating space ships and thousands of super secret agent soldiers and doomsday events every 3-4 years.

At some point you think one of those may have pulled them from hiding.

The conflict in the plot comes from the characters and what they’re purpose is, which again relates to their secrecy. The Deviants aren’t a great antagonist, though I thought they might build to something cool before they didn’t, and then you get to the big ending with the reveal and twist which is going to be mileage-may-vary for everyone.

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Time for some random one off thoughts: 

  • I like that the movie isn’t the same formula like building to a big dumb CGI ending divorced of the plot.
  • There is so much CGI in this movie though. It mostly looks good but at times it breaks and Angelina Jolie turns into gumby.
  • I miss practical effects in movies man. I’m watching the special features of Lord Of The Rings and its inspiring the lengths they went to. More movies need that 2003 mindset.
  • The flashbacks can be a bit long and uninteresting.
  • There appears to be no Disney+ tie in, and that rules.
  • Comedy takes a back seat to the movie. That’s good. The only real line that sticks out is “Fall catalogue. Ikea.” Barf.
  • There could be a fan edit of this that dials it back 15-20 minutes and might be more interesting. The bloat just starts getting to you at some point.
  • I want to see the characters again but just not for like 4-5 years.
  • The Bollywood scene was fun. I love how wild and crazy Bollywood is.
  • Celestials could be neat as a new Thanos.

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Ultimately, the movie was a chance and it was different and I like that. I’ll take this over another Black Widow any day. The movie isn’t bad but I’m not going to watch it again. Maybe if it’s on TV while I’m in a hotel room one day I’ll turn it on and scroll through my phone at the same time.

That just gets back to the problem with the movie though. I love seeing movies in the theatre and when I’m in the theatre I focus on the movie. But I did get bored at one point and thought “I wonder if anyone’s texted me…”

I get the feeling though that this movie will be on a bunch of lists in 5 years like “TOP 10 UNDERRATED MOVIES PEOPLE WERE WRONG ABOUT” in the inverse way now you get Star Wars: The Force Awakens on every “TOP 10 MOVIES THAT
SUCK THAT WEREN’T ACTUALLY GOOD!”

I want to like this more but I can’t because I just don’t care that extra bit.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Wonder Woman 1984 Is A Problematic Sequel

Wonder Woman 1984 is a disappointing sequel. It isn’t solely because the movie itself is just so basic, but because it represents a significant step backwards for a franchise. While the first movie is not perfect, it still scores itself well as a memorable, significant and quality film. WW84 ends up just being another movie that goes into that inoffensive and unmemorable pile of flicks where you’ll forget the bulk of it by the time you watch something else.

It’s a shame because there is a lot of the movie that could and should work. Actors are acting, characters are charactering, plot is plotting but nothing makes it feel more than that. It feels like a first draft kind of movie and they just rolled with it. Not that you need excessive focus group testing and 25 corporate writers to make your script, but I feel it would have benefited from some extra input and someone with the job title of “Hey wait a minute!” to flesh out the ideas while also bringing the focus in tighter.

The movie feels unwieldy like it is barely holding itself together due to chronic sequel-itis. So inoffensive it almost becomes offensive in how tedious it can be. I’ve said it before, but few things bum me out more than movies that waste potential.

Sometimes it feels like Suicide Squad. “Hey that part is good. Wow this part is boring. That actor is doing well. What’s going on here? Why are they doing that? That was a nice moment. Hey these actors have chemistry. Hang on, what did they just say?”

Then it ends and you go “Yeah okay I guess” and maybe that’s how it should leave you. I wasn’t even planning on writing this because I couldn’t make up my mind on the movie.

Now I’m fully aware I’m a CIS white male and all the stuff that goes a long with that. Not everything is made for me, I get that. A little girl or another person could like this movie and that’s great. Certain scenes I found lame could be inspirational and resonate with someone else. There’s no universal deciding factor on what can be formative on a person and what can’t.

I could see where the first Wonder Woman movie would resonate with people. I just can’t see anything in this movie resonating with anyone.

It doesn’t quite feel like a “DC Movie” in the sense of their big dumb action movies, with the dumb action with loud noises and constant grimacing but it also feels a bit slapdash like the DCEU movies have tended to feel.

The first Wonder Woman film is a better Superman story than anything made for live action cinema in my lifetime. That was one of the highlights to me. Wonder Woman can be a lot like Superman, and quite often is just considered a female version of the character, and that is not a bad thing. She’s typically an overpowered character who struggles more with upholding their ideals through adversity and keeping a strong moral compass than winning or losing a fist fight. That’s what makes “boy scout” characters most interesting. How far can you push them and how far can they be taken and still keep themselves on the right side of the line.

I liked that movie. I didn’t really like this one.

It isn’t to say there is no craft to the movie. It is shot on film so you do get that slightly grainy edge to the film which does help it look older and feel a bit like an 80s movie. However, and maybe I was expecting Stranger Things levels of 80s Porn, but this movie outside of a few scenes doesn’t hit you in the face with the 80s as hard as you might think. It can’t pass for modern, but you can forget you’re in the 80s pretty easily. I don’t know if that’s intentional. I both like it and dislike it. Use the 80s to trash up your film with 80s trash but then I’d probably be like “stop the 80s trash in the film.”

There’s also some fun schlock and I’m not going to pretend for even one second that I’m above that.

You have writing and characters that mirror the first movie. Maybe it isn’t obvious enough for a lot of people, but I saw it and your brain probably recognized it. The central theme around greed and power is a good one, but I can see how someone could know that theme is there without really consciously understanding full scope of it.

It’s just another part of the movie that feels like it’s only 75% of the way there.

Maybe the best part of the movie, one of the few parts that is 100% actualized, is Pedro Pascal. This dude rocks. Maxwell Lord really sucks! He gives it his all and really nails home that yuppie businessman conman character. He really nails the Gordon Gekko thing. When he speaks you believe he believes what he is saying. The execution of his character is really strong with the give and take of his powers. His dynamic versus Wonder Woman would have been enough for a movie on its own.

Kristen Wiig also does well. I temporarily panicked when her character felt like she might be doing Ghostbusters again, but she thankfully doesn’t go that far. She’s very measured and believable as Barbara Minerva and she’s easy to follow. Her design as Cheetah looks actually good unlike Cats. My only gripe is that I don’t think her character went far enough into the evil. She doesn’t quite fly off the handle to give you that breaking point moment where she really gets drunk on her new reality and revels in it. Maybe if she just happened to kill someone? Like one particular dickhole?

As an aside, I don’t think anyone dies in this movie which is a little weird. I’m not quite sure what brought this movie up to a PG-13 as it feels a lot more like a PG movie. I guess a few dudes hold some guns?

Chris Pine is back as Steve Trevor. It’s nice to have him on screen as I think he’s my second favourite Hollywood Chris and he has fantastic eyes. He and Gal Gadot have great chemistry and when they’re playing off each other it helps the movie a lot. It’s a great bit of role reversal this time where he’s the fish out of water and Wonder Woman is the normal one showing him about the world.

Gal Gadot is good again as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman, but the character this time feels less defined. I can’t quite put my finger on what notes she hit in the first film and what notes were missed here. She is still the same character. Maybe she’s more tired of humanity and the world is wearing her down, but that doesn’t exactly come across. Something is just missing and I am unsure of what.

Maybe it’s a general DC thing where the uncertainty of the overall universe has made things murky for how everything is to be handled and tied together. It kind of feels like this was more of the Justice League version of the character when that is, at least, two films away. It feels a little like the character arc has gone 1918-2016-2017-1984.

Part of it could be that Wonder Woman is still a relatively undefined character. Outside of her World War 1 storyline, she doesn’t have a particularly unified comic book character in ways that Superman, Batman and even someone like The Flash do.

Through the years the character has gone from 70’s feminist icon to naïve adolescent to weird alien who doesn’t understand earth customs to an acerbic pessimist that thinks humanity is doomed – from there splintering off into the “its hopeless but I’ll fight anyway for the 1% chance it works” to the rarer “humanity sucks and we should leave them” stories.

One of my favourite parts of the first Wonder Woman movie was how the character felt like she progressed and grew to be a hero over it. I really liked that. I was hoping for that to continue and maybe it does? I just didn’t really “get” Diana the same way this time.

The themes of the movie are solid but the delivery is to the driveway and not the doorstep. Which is weird considering the movie is 2.5 hours long but it could have used an extra line here and an extra scene there.

I wasn’t too big a fan of the Themyscira stuff in the first film and I’m less of a fan of it this time around. It feels more divorced from the rest of the movie this time and then movie gets doubled up on intro scenes with totally different tones – melodramatic to campy 70s wink-wink. Movies don’t need superfluous scenes when the run time could be better used elsewhere.

Mild-spoilers will be throughout the rest of the review but nothing should be experience breaking.

This movie has the Spiderman 3 and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice problem of having 2 different movies going on at once.

There’s a film here that is Kristen Wiig vs Wonder Woman and centers on that plot. Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman and its super easy to see there being people deeply jealous of that. Jazz that out and it’s a whole movie on its own.

Then there’s also a film here that’s Maxwell Lord (I almost typed Max Power) and that guy’s entire schtick vs Wonder Woman which is a lot like a Lex vs Superman kind of story, which is no bad thing.

Maybe people don’t want that kind of focused story because people are dumb and think that’s boring because the hero can’t punch the villain. That was the charm to the first Wonder Woman movie though. Maybe they just didn’t want to do that again so that’s why they didn’t go hard into that. However, it just doesn’t commit hard enough to Diana Prince vs Maxwell Lord and reduces Cheetah to his enforcer.

Cheetah is Wonder Woman’s Joker or Lex Luthor. Unfortunately, she felt like she was kind of just there so that there could be a fight scene, instead of something where Max could’ve been like “don’t you wish you were super tough?” to some soldier dudes or crooks and used them as goons.

The action was a highlight for me in the first movie. I can think of some really strong visual action scenes that felt visceral and had weight and mattered. In this one I feel like the action scenes are more there to be action scenes because it has been an hour since the last one.

If you’re like me, you’ll agree that the worst part of the original Wonder Woman movie was the big dumb ending. In a refreshing change, there isn’t an absurdly ugly big dumb loud CGI explosion fight for a climax. The end of the movie is basically “Just talk.” Wonder Woman is a “let’s talk this out” style hero instead of a “I’ll punch you until you don’t have a pancreas” hero.

You could argue this movie ends on a better climax but even that feels a bit undercut by the way you get there because it isn’t memorable. It’s so melodramatic but has no lasting power. There is no line or key phrase that sticks with you. This is the big Hero Inspires The World Speech, and its talking about how the life is beautiful and the truth is what matters?

The first movie was just directed by Patty Jenkins, and this one is directed, co-written and co-screenplayed by her. Her previous writing includes Monster which is so different from this movie maybe she didn’t quite know how to sew the stuffing in on a more fantastical plot and property. Probably wouldn’t hurt if someone besides Geoff John’s came in as a co-writer.

The movie tries to get by on heart more than sense. You can see a bit of the original if you squint. An issue that comes with that is, again, the movie feels like a first draft and didn’t get that extra attention to detail to stitch up the edges.

You can nit-pick any movie into oblivion. No movie is air tight. But when you’re movie starts lacking in quality of some smaller obvious details it becomes harder to hand-wave other elements as you might normally do.

The big thing is around Steve’s resurrection. It’s freaking weird when you go over it for more than a hot minute.

Steve did not need to even be in that dude. At all. Other wishes in this movie materialize out of thin air. In fact, most of them do. Steve being inside that guy didn’t need to happen. But it did. That’s fine that it did… until it wasn’t anymore.

I feel bad for Handsome Man that got replaced. Did he have no family or friends that bothered to check in on him? Did he have no job he had to go to? Was he a drifter?

There had to be someone at some point who went “Hey wait a second. This is ghost rape. Should we have that in our movie?” It’s implied they get coitus-y together. There’s a gross scene in some Adam Sandler movie that is similar to this, where Adam Sandler takes over some guy’s body and then tries or does have sex with that guy’s wife who has no idea it’s actually Adam Sandler. Just awful. It immediately came to brain for me.

Beyond that, the characters also never really acknowledge that Steve Trevor is in this random guy after the first scene. That could have been its own subplot, replacing Cheetah, where they have to un-Freaky Friday this situation. Where the characters are trying to separate the two entities but also dealing with the fact they’re putting this guy into life threatening danger to do it. If that was played up, you can add a lot more tension to your action scenes as Wonder Woman has to protect him and it gets to a point where Steve also has to balance risking this person for Diana to succeed.

It’s never brought up during the bulk of the film though so you don’t really consider that as a consequence to manage.

Even his departure is kind of ambiguous. You feel like that scene should build to a “My time has passed. It’s okay” goodbye that leads into a glamour shot of the character, he’ll look off to the sky with a glint in his eye, etc. But I know some people who didn’t realize that was his goodbye moment due to it sort of happening off screen.

The movie struggles with some details that just would require a Google search. Just an extra level of detail you don’t get that keeps that first draft feeling. Flying from Washington to Cairo is 6000 miles but they take a plane that has like a 1300 mile range.

The movie talks about Egypt as this oil rich country when Egypt is one of the most oil poor nations on earth. It’s weird that the movie talks the country up as so oil rich that even the Saudis, the most oil rich place on earth, is after their oil.

The other implication is that every wish is selfish and greedy. Surely some people were like “I wish I didn’t have Alzheimers” or “I wish I could get pregnant “. Maybe some kid in Gotham wished his parents didn’t get shot in an alley.

The invisibility comes out of nowhere a bit. Just show the coffee cup. Going from 0-100 with a New Plot Power always annoys me. 1-20 is easier to believe, and so is 20-100.

I don’t really get how the final fight concluded and only one person got electrocuted there.

Maybe I did miss things as a side effect of at-home viewing. But I’m not an inattentive movie viewer. There’s a tech design saying that applies well to media too. “There’s no such thing as a user error.” I’m usually quite focused and I’d like to think I kept my focus on this film. A girl once got really mad at me on a date because I was too busy watching the movie to pick up on her signals and hints for some smoochy-smoochy.

The last nuisance for me when it came to this sort of thing was I don’t know if DC is respecting Justice League or Batman V Superman anymore as films in their franchise. Details from those films don’t seem to line up with presentation in this film. The main point of a cinematic universe is to watch all these films so you understand the threading of the spiderweb.

But in Batman V Superman it is presented as if Wonder Woman spent about 100 years not fighting crime, especially not petty crimes to globetrotting adventure crimes.

I’m fine with people not recognizing Diana as she lives her life. People aren’t observant. People don’t notice things if they aren’t paying attention, especially in small moments and flash instances. I love this scene from 1978’s Superman. Granted, I think Christopher Reeve does a lot more to change his physicality and entire demeanor, but his face doesn’t change. Lois doesn’t notice though because why would she? She has no reason to put the two of them together.

But you’d think there is some record of all these events. The USSR and the USA decided to go nuclear holocaust on each other. The entire world, for whatever length of time it was, had their every wish granted and then taken away from them with her very prominently involved. This is where the roadmap comes in handy.

The movie overall isn’t capital B Bad. But it just feels less like art and more like product. I was pretty neutral to Man of Steel, was neutral but have soured on Batman V Superman, I thought Justice League was a pile of crap, I quite liked the first Wonder Woman film, Shazam is the best 8/10 a movie could 8/10, and enjoyed the big dumb Power Rangers shlock-fest that was Aquaman. (Authors note, I forgot about Suicide Squad until after I posted this whole review so I think that answers that.)

This movie finds itself on the bottom half of that list. That’s likely where the vitriol directed at this movie comes from. A lot of people LOVED the first Wonder Woman film. And they wanted something on that level again. Of all the things that this movie could have been, and maybe needed to be, for it to end up like this is disappointing.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but I don’t think expecting your super hero movie to be actually good is a bad thing. This feels very 2000’s super hero movie like it would fit in with Spiderman 3, Fantastic 4 and X3. I probably would have considered it a better film than a lot in that era but I expect more now.

I don’t want my time back but I also don’t expect to watch it again. If anything, it makes me want either a new Marvel flick or to see whatever Shazam 2, Black Adam, Green Lantern, Batman and The Flash are up to.

This movie isn’t a death knell for DC or for Wonder Woman, but it’s definitely the kind of thing that can have people go “eh, maybe I’ll skip the next one.” Because it feels like they somehow ran out of ideas for Wonder Woman already.

If you want to get mad at me or be my friend: @Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Brill-Ant: Ant-Man and The Wasp rules pretty hard

ant man and the wasp

They don’t appreciate my pun.

Who cares about Thanos? What’s an intifininininity stone? Why is Gamora? None of this matters in this movie and it makes the movie effing great. Legit.

You need an absolute zero sum of Marvel knowledge walking into this movie. Outside of a few “Captain America” name drops this movie exists on it’s own to the point this could be the first entry to Ant-Man and not the first Ant-Man film.

I love Infinity War as a movie. Its #actuallygood and it’s also nuts because I never thought I’d ever see something like that happen when I was a little Adam Junior playing Spiderman at the playground. But having side stories that aren’t part of the Thanos saga keeps this franchise fresh and enjoyable and worth seeing between tentpoles.

I wasn’t too hyped coming into this movie and didn’t even intend to see it until about an hour before I did. It was raining out and it felt like my only choice on Netflix was The Last Jedi and I noped out of that.

I liked the first Ant-Man movie just fine. It was good. It was basically the first Marvel movie to not be a big epic and you can probably credit it, and Guardians Vol 1, as the point where Marvel opened up to adapting other genres into their hero films and giving more agency to the director’s own vision.

The first film tried to be a heist movie and generally came close but for the goofy action ending. This film isn’t too far off being a “pure” heist movie featuring a shrinking-growing hero and a shrinking-flying hero and a ghost lady plus science talk with old science peeps. The action scenes aren’t so much fight scenes as they are chase scenes or not-get-caught scenes with action sprinkles and explosion icing.

The cast is great. The big names all have great chemistry and truly own some scenes. The little girl child isn’t annoying and is legitimately charming. Michael Pena rules. TI is TI. The fake Russian guy character acts the crap off being a character actor. Asian Jim (Randall Park) is a lot of fun as the FBI agent. The evil gangsters really make their screen time work. Ghost Out Of Her Shell does her part.

I basically watched the whole movie with a smile on my face. I was laughing out loud frequently. They make great use of pacing and tone to keep things fun. There is a lot more made of the fun you can have with shrinking and bigging for gags and creative action. Its refreshing to see things in a super hero movie that involve more guile and cunning than just punch punch super kick.

If we’re being entirely honest, I probably put this movie at or even above Black Panther in terms of Fun Watchingness. It doesn’t have any of the cultural weight or anything meta that Black Panther brought, but if I’m just looking to watch something for 2 hours and these are both on Netflix its a real coin toss.

Even if you’re like my vegan friend who hates everything fun if it involves a super hero because of the inherent dumbness, give this a try since its more along the lines of a Honey I Shrunk The Kids than The Dark Knight.

Stay for for the mid credits scene. The post credits is whatever because I don’t even remember it.

Ranking rating: Double Thumbs Up Recommend. Go see. It isn’t critical to the Marvel Universe, but it doesn’t have to be and that’s why its so good. And as with any comedy, see it in a theatre with peeps.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Paging Doctor Mister Strange. Your Origin Story Is Here

Doctor Strange 4.4/5

I’m not sure how often I’ve mentioned it in a review here, but I really hate that all movies now have to be a minimum of two hours. When movies drag out it is super lame. What ever happened to the 90 minute movie?

What does this have to do with anything? Well, Marvel went and made themselves a two hour movie that felt like a 90 minute fast paced, tripping balls, action movie and it rocked. I’m positive that the 1h55m run time listed on IMDB is a lie.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent was not distracting. He was also good at being Doctor Strange because Doctor Strange is an asshole, self-centered, boastful, and a bit of a dickbag. He nailed it.

The supporting cast was interesting too.

  • Mordo was more interesting here than any time I’ve read him in the comics. He isn’t just the foil to Doctor Strange in the traditional mirror villain way most comic villains are
  • Wong taking more from the recent Way of the Weird inspiration as an army general was well served and executed. It sets up well for the future films if they continue down the WotW comic story.
  • The Ancient One and her monologues never took too long or felt too… “I’m so ancient and wise” which is so easy to do with the Grandmaster character. I liked how she wouldn’t take more than two or three sentences to ever make her point.

Was the villain a little underdeveloped? I suppose. But he was what he was and they didn’t try to do more. If I was more into spoilers I would go into more here. It’s hard to kinda get into what I want to say without letting it all hang out.

The tie-ins to the greater MCU? Fine. A shot of Avengers Tower with downtown New York? Good, in fact I would have loved to have seen the Oscorp tower too. Off hand mention of the Avengers? Cool. Blah blah Infinity Stones? Yeah duh.

I also liked things that were designed to be more character moments too. Complications around The Oath. The roller coaster of his status. Utilitarian vs Individualism was especially fun. I like to thing about the “What Ifs?” in a movie a lot. Like what if the character took the right path and not the left one. Make the renegade choice and and not be a paragon.

The action was well shot and smart. It was “magical” and manipulative. Creative and the use of the environment sets this apart from shoot-bang-kick-smash that most of the Marvel movies do.

The climax was great, smart and interesting on a few levels. I would have liked a little more fire, though (and you’ll understand that once you see it).

The trippy kaleidoscope effects were worth the price of admission. Same with the bright colours and tints and blurs and whatever else. I’m not one who does, but people who partake in certain psychedelics would have a blast about 30 minutes in.

The mid-credits scene was nice. I’m always of two minds on these. Part of me likes when these things are kept almost entirely to their self, but then the part of me who wants to see a 5 hour film of nothing but comic book crossover porn just loves it.

The end-credits scene plays into what we’ve seen from the character and sets up the sequel and maybe a small portion of Infinity War (if you make great leaps of imagination with fan theory that I do).

Would I like to have seen a little more doctor-ing? Sure enough. More Rachel McAdams being a Canadian sweetheart? Yeah. Some more cult time? Sure!

But at the same time, I really enjoy a movie that doesn’t bugger about too much and just keeps things going.

I will see this again. And probably again. Then once more. At least.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Ranking the Modern Marvel Movies, 6-1

UPDATED WITH GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY CLICK HERE

Into the best of the best. And quite honestly these movies are more or less interchangeable at the top.

6. X-men: Days of Future Past

Plot holes, shmot holes. It was so great as a turbonerd to see the entire cast, except Nightcrawler, all together. It also replaces all the poo taste left in your mouth from X3 and Origins: Wolverine. Hitting the rest button in such a way is really risky, but they did it in a very satisfying and interesting way while still leaving the door open for both sets of X-casts. I love timeline stories. Enjoyed how it made Wolverine less of THE super hero and more of a dude and put a lot of focus on the rest of the cast. The great layering of social commentary that is so important to Xmen was handled well and the scale/scope was really given its due.

5. X2

For one whole year we had the gold standard for comic book movies. Now, we just have the benchmark for every Xmen film for eternity to aspire towards. I don’t think I can pick anything out in this movie that wasn’t excellent. Nightcrawler’s implementation was perfect. Still might be Hugh Jackman’s best Wolverine performance to date. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart could not have possibly done any better in their roles. And Brian Singer was able to nail the subtext/social commentary while balancing it with the action and avoiding some annoying and preachy movie with special effects. The expanded cast of mutants was great to see and even though many had only a scene or two, it was worth it and not at all cluttered. What a joy to watch.

4. Iron Man

This and Batman Begins are the holy grail of super hero origin stories. Just nailed it. One of the best parts is that the relationship with the villain is established early in the movie versus “meeting” them halfway through. This film launched Marvel into the universe they are in now and has launched Tony Stark as a character much the same way that Jack Sparrow became as big/bigger than the films. There is excellent chemistry between characters and they trade witticisms like real people versus comedy characters. Iron Man is as perfectly cast as any movie on this list. Robert Downey Jr nails the rockstar flippancy of Tony Stark, as well as the character arc from playboy to responsible playboy. Lastly, Iron Man is basically the only Avengers era movie where the hero kills and it isn’t cheap. That is an accomplishment in super hero fiction.  Jeff Bridges was an excellent cigar munching fatcat. The ending serves as an excellent contrast of motives. Best of all? They got the suit right. Nothing could have saved this if the suit was wrong. A++

3. Spider Man 2

Stop smashing your keyboard that this is not #1. From here up, its literally a case of 1a, 1b ad 1c. This stole the mantle from X2 as the gold standard and took almost a decade to topple/be met. It has every element from the comics that makes Spider Man so great. The angst, variety of emotions, goofiness, melodrama, romance, and intensity and has it all spun (like a web!) together expertly. Every scene is a perfect compliment to every other scene and fully reached and surpassed the potential that anyone could have forseen for the super hero “genre” of movies. The only thing, and this is minor, is that Kirsten Dunst still just isn’t up to par with the rest of the movie but she still holds her own well. Toby McGuire perfectly captured Peter Parker in this movie in a way I’m unconvinced Andrew Garfield ever will. I haven’t even touched on Doc Oc yet, which was masterfully done. The train scene, pictured, is my favourite scene from any Spider Man movie. The perfect Spider Man movie.

2. The Avengers

The fact that this movie didn’t crash and burn is unbelievable. Just think about the task at hand here, then realize that they pulled it off and the only crap scenes in the entire movie are when awkward dialogue about “red in my ledger” is brought up. The rest? Flawless, especially the smaller character dynamics that only someone familiar with the cartoons/comics would recognize. Such as the various bromances, who has animosity with who, character pairings, etc. It hits so well on so many little things. Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk steals the show and satiates a lot of the hunger for a solo Hulk film. I never understood a lot of the hype behind Joss Whedon but with this film I got it. The little things are done as well as the big things and the character interaction all seems so natural. Its long, but it never feels as long as it really is and everything in the movie, and other bits from other films, come around in a nice full circle here to make a completely satisfying and exhilarating experience.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

One of the things that is so impressive about this movie is how different it feels compared to The Avengers, Thor: TDW and Iron Man 3. There is a lot more plot and considering how heavy it is into espionage and thriller, versus CGI action movie, it had to be that way. You’ve got double and triple crosses, Nazi’s, a boatload of assassins and politics. You’re also taking a guy who’s only powers are incredible fitness, a shield and punching dudes really really hard and taking him so far and away from the ground-level hero that you’d expect the execution to fall apart. Except it doesn’t. The action is a great blend of CGI action (Falcon) and dude-punch-dude (Cap/Widow). Evans delivers Captain America so well, and the rest of the cast supports him and the movie in their unique way. Lastly, it established Cap as a moral compass globally and not just as America man fighting for America and the American Way for all of America’s interests of protecting and promoting America.

Marvel movies 28-18

Marvel movies 17-7