Review: Captain Marvel

In a time before the Avengers assembled, specifically the mid-1990s, Earth was unintentionally in the middle of a war between two alien races and needed someone to rise up and quash it. Earth needed a new kind of hero and when the time came, Earth’s Mightiest flew into the fray. Brie Larson flies into action in the newest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel.

Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck definitely do not disappoint with their take on perhaps the strongest hero the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever seen. They, along with Geneva Robertson-Dworet, wrote a story that is loaded with twists, humor, heart and enough clout to elevate Marvel’s first female-led superhero adventure into the stratosphere! I’m not going to say it’s a perfect movie but all-in-all, when the post-credits scenes were finished, I’m came away very satisfied and very excited about what is going to happen next!

Going in, I had a fair understanding of the title character’s origin story but the initiative they took in adapting the story so that it can stand apart from other heroes in and out of Marvel’s canon but also stand on its own while also allowing the audience to take part in, and invest in, Carol uncovering the mysteries of her past and coming into her own as a hero.

The plot has a lot of material to unravel, from how the Kree and the Skrulls play a part in this film, to how characters like Nick Fury and Phil Coulson fit in, to how she essentially is the inspiration behind the Avengers’ Initiative in the first place but all of it is not lost on the audience. Truthfully, I enjoyed the ride Captain Marvel had to offer and it was a very smooth ride entirely.

Brie Larson stepped into this role and took off with her toughness, wit, charm, humor and the rapport she had with a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson was really fun to watch. The rest of the cast were very good, including Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Benning, Clark Gregg, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Akira Akbar, Gemma Chan, Rune Temte, Algenis Perez Soto, Chuku Modu, Matthew Maher, Mark Daugherty and McKenna Grace.

The music under Pinar Toprak was eclectic and fun, Ben Davis’ cinematography is great, Debbie Berman and Elliot Graham’s editing is solid, Andy Nicholson’s production design is good, the art direction under Andrew Max Cahn is well done, Lauri Gaffin’s set decoration is good, Sanja Milkovic Hays’ costumes were very cool and the visual effects live up to the standards of a Marvel movie.

Suffice to say, I think Captain Marvel introduced Marvel’s strongest hero in the smoothest way possible at the very best time. Now that we know who Captain Marvel is and what she is capable of, I go into the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe satisfied and more anticipatory than ever because now Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are getting big time reinforcements for their next bout with the Mad Titan.

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Review: Free Fire

It has most certainly been a while since my last review but I had a good reason for not writing one: there was nothing of interest for me to see lately, so I passed the time by posting news articles. On Friday, I managed to see something interesting in theaters and I thought I think this might be worth a review, so let’s jump right into Free Fire shall we?

From director Ben Wheatley, who wrote this with Amy Jump, Free Fire is a rousing, absurd but moderately entertaining shoot-em-up set in 1978 Boston, where a transaction to procure firearms between two criminal organizations goes horribly, horribly wrong!

Basically, you take a collection of good actors in Arnie Hammer, Sharlto Copely, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Enzo Cilenti, Michael Smiley, Babou Cessay, Sam Riley, Jack Reynor, Noah Taylor, Patrick Bergen and Mark Monero, put them in a very volatile situation, put a gun in each of their hands, douse the situation with proverbial gasoline and have one gun go off to light the situation up. Then just sit back and revel in the carnage and let this one thought occupy your mind as you watch the bullets fly: “These people are the worst shots EVER!”

Free Fire won’t make a lot of critical noise, but it certainly isn’t a quiet picture because Wheatley allows the action and pacing of the simple plot to take center stage and the action is enough to keep its audience satisfied. These characters are all shooting at each other, getting shot, squirming around on the ground covered in glass, debris and one guy who is crawling around on the ground gets stuck with a used syringe at one point, but what’s happening and what develops is stimulating enough to keep you engaged with the picture.

I think Ben Wheatley made a very rugged and respectable film. The action is simple but welcome and the pacing of the film is also commendable. The writing is also very refreshing; this was my first time sampling something from Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley and I like what I experienced.

This isn’t exactly a movie to evaluate the actors since no one performance stands apart from the rest but the cast is definitely fun to watch.

Laurie Rose’s cinematography definitely lets you feel like you are in the middle of the action, the editing of Jump and Wheatley are precise; they don’t use any cut or jump to waste a moment, Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury’s music takes something of a backseat to the picture but the use of John Denver music is cool, Emma Fryer’s costumes are on point, Paki Smith’s production, Paul Frost and Nigel Pollock’s art decoration and Liz Griffiths’ set decoration all add to the rich mise-en-scene of the film.

Free Fire may be a low-budget movie, but the action is top-shelf and its overall value is worth the price of admission. I had fun watching Free Fire, and if you have an afternoon to kill and would like to see something silly and surprising, I’d recommend Free Fire to change your pace.

Captain Marvel Will Have Two Directors

The lineup for Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will lead to The Avengers: Infinity War, set for release on May 4, 2018. Captain Marvel, starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson figures to be a part of this lineup somehow but Marvel Studios has significant plans for the superheroine. It was announced that Larson landed the role late last year and Marvel Studios would search for a director to helm the film starring Larson and written by Meg LeFauve and Nicole Perlman. It was a widely held belief that Captain Marvel would have a female director since she would be the first Marvel heroine to lead her own movie but now the search has concluded and the film does indeed have a female director but with a twist. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck got the job!

Image by Vanity Fair

I confess, this has certainly caught me by surprise since I have no idea where these two came from but judging by Marvel’s hiring process, it makes sense.

Execs met with the duo many times before the studio decided to go with them and the pair impressed the studio time and time again with their vision for the heroine. The two have experience in both the TV and film world, which Marvel sees as a strength.

Best known for their character-study dramas like Ryan Gosling’s “Half Nelson” and Ryan Reynolds’ “Mississippi Grind,” Boden and Fleck directed episodes for such popular TV shows as “The Affair” and “Billions.”

Considering how Kevin Feige and Marvel have gambled and won on talents such as the Russo Brothers, Peyton Reed and James Gunn and trusted filmmakers like Jon Watts, Taika Waititi, Ryan Coogler and Scott Derrickson with leading productions on their pivotal heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Boden and Fleck follow a pattern that has served Marvel well in the past. I’m not familiar with their work together to this point but I’ll certainly have my eye on where Captain Marvel will go from this point forward. Captain Marvel set for release on March 8, 2019.

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Image by Marvel Studios

Review: Kong: Skull Island

For the fourth time in the history of American filmmaking, one of the all time great movie monsters bows into theaters to pound his chest, roar and reign supreme over an island not meant for man to tread. It’s director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ turn to give life to a beast some have dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World in Kong: Skull Island.

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Image by Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.

Fair warning: the plot for the film will be familiar if one is familiar with the mythos of Kong from the past. In in the early 1970s, a scientific expedition to an uncharted island in the South Pacific goes horribly awry, when a team led by Colonel Preston Packard, decommissioned SAS Captain James Conrad and researcher Bill Randa run afoul of Kong, the mammoth ape protector of Skull Island. Their first encounter with the beast results in seven soldiers dead and the research team separated and every single soul on the island is in grave peril, but not from Kong; the truth is that Kong is the island’s deterrent to creatures far more frightening.

I won’t go out of my way to tell you that Kong: Skull Island is a blockbuster worthy of a king or it should be rightfully crowned. I found the picture rather tame with a few original twists but I suppose I was just unsatisfied with the final result.

If Kong: Skull Island had any selling points, it would be that I thought Vogt-Roberts and the writing team of Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connelly did a nice job in adhering to Kong’s origins and island life/persona: a fearsome protector to those in need, always ready to aid a damsel, worshipped as a god on Skull Island. I felt that they recognized the scope and grandeur of the title character and did what they could to make him as big as possible but the film itself just couldn’t measure up to the enormity of Kong’s reputation. Seriously, take the giant ape out of the picture and what are you left with?

For starters you have a movie that is weighed down to the anchored to the homages paid to Apocalypse Now, which is excessive to the point of over-the-top. This movie could have occurred in any time period so, why at the end of the Vietnam War?

You also have a movie that simply wastes a lot of star power. Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Tian Jing, Thomas Mann, Will Britain, Richard Jenkins; there are many good actors in this movie and this cast tries to deliver good performances where they can but like Godzilla, they’re not why audiences show up! Whatever contributions they do make, go to waste because the material they are working with is shallow and the visual effects steals the show.

Larry Fong’s cinematography aims to be strong but reeks of inconsistency and the editing Richard Pearson follows suit, which is unfortunate. Stefan DeChant’s production design is striking, the art direction is commendable, the set decoration by Cynthia La Jeunesse is fine, Mary E. Vogt’s costumes aimed for authenticity; technically there was a lot to respect with this film and what did you didn’t like, you forgot.

Maybe I subconsciously compared Kong: Skull Island to its 2005 predecessor by Peter Jackson, even though I didn’t want to, but ultimately I couldn’t help but notice that Jackson’s Kong had the girth and dimensions to bring Kong to its Kingly status while this film felt cartoonish. Kong: Skull Island is fun, in it’s own way, but lacking.

Movie of the Week: Kong: Skull Island

2017 will mark the fourth year in which one of the most famous movie monsters of all time has ever graced the silver screen. In 1933, 1975 and 2005, audiences the world over has seen different takes of the enormously proportioned primate who reigned supreme over his domain only to be captured and felled in the domain of man. This weekend marks Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ turn to bring the giant ape to the big screen as a team of explorers ventures out into uncharted territory teeming with danger and atop the pyramid of Skull Island is a king whose reign about to be challenged by an unforeseen enemy: modern day man. Kong: Skull Island bows into theaters this week.

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Screenwriters: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connelly

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Tian Jing, John Ortiz and Toby Kebbell

What am I expecting to see?: The producers behind this movie have big plans for this film and I hope that this movie does enough to see these plans come to fruition. I want this movie to honor the Kong movies that came before it while doing everything it can to make a proper mark for itself. I don’t expect it to reach the epic levels that Peter Jackson’s King Kong reached in 2005 but I for one hope that Kong: Skull Island has its fun.

The King of Skull Island! Teaser Trailer

It is not wise to walk into another’s house and start a fight. That’s just extremely bad manners. It’s all the more unwise to venture into a monarch’s kingdom and drop bombs. That’s literally a declaration of war! A team of explorers and scientists embark upon an excursion onto a mythic island, where creatures never seen before call home and in their pursuit to study the island, they incur the wrath of the island’s protector! This team is caught in a maelstrom of chaos as they navigate uncharted terrain, evade exotic beasts and face unknown fears as they are in the grand presence of the King of Skull Island: KONG!

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy, Kong: Skull Island stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Tian Jing and Jason Mitchell. Treading upon Skull Island is forbidden but an excursion will take place on March 10, 2017.

Brie Larson Joins The Avengers as Captain Marvel

Fans have been speculating, wondering, and waiting to see who would take the lead in Marvel’s upcoming superhero feature led by a leading lady. Comic Con put the speculation to rest with an announcement of slam-dunk proportions. Captain Marvel has been cast and the role has been won by none other than recent Academy Award winner Brie Larson!

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Image By dorothy (Brie Larson @ the SXSW premiere of Don Jon), via Wikimedia Commons

Carol Danvers was created in 1968, appearing in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 — a Captain Marvel story — as an American security officer working alongside Captain Mar-Vell, an alien sent to study the planet Earth. She debuted as the super-powered character Ms. Marvel in the pages of Marvel Comics after her human DNA was fused with genes from the alien race known as the Kree. She went on to inherit the title of Captain Marvel in 2012-Entertainment Weekly

Like landing Benedict Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange and Chadwick Boseman for Black Panther, this is a genuine slam-dunk casting for Marvel. Larson is months away from receiving her Oscar for delivering one of the best acting performances of 2015 in the highly acclaimed Room, but she is, or will be, known for other notable roles.

She’s been doing excellent work for years, ranging from indies like Short Term 12 and The Spectacular Now to studio pictures like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Most recently she shot a co-starring role in the upcoming blockbuster Kong: Skull Island, and she’s currently filming another indie drama called The Glass Castle that reunites her with her Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton.-Collider

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Image by Marvel Studios

At present, Captain Marvel is scouting potential fits for director but a screenplay is in place courtesy of Meg LeFauve and Nicole Perlman. Captain Marvel will make it into theaters by March 8, 2019 but Larson could be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe sooner via The Avengers: Infinity Wars.