Movies Reviewed: Captain America:The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, and X-Men: Days of Future Past
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Directed by: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, and Cobie Smulders
You can’t discuss the movie industry today without discussing the movie giants Marvel, and of course they kicked off the summer with the sure-to-be mega hit, Captain America: The First Avenger sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (I pause as I realize 3 of the 4 movies I’ve seen this summer are Marvel). I have a hard time enjoying Marvel products anymore, my excitement for Marvel’s new and ingenious multi-faceted universe, quickly faded as I realized these movies being churned out in almost factory like fashion. I couldn’t even tell you what happened in Thor 2, and the only memorable moment from Iron Man 3 was him blowing up his suits.
Well I thought I’d have to wait until The Avengers 2 before something really great happened with Marvel again, but I was wrong. I went into Captain America: Winter Soldier with low expectations, I think I watched the first one, once, while I was sick, and I barely paid attention. It definitely wasn’t that great. My wife and I were actually supposed to go see The Muppets: Most Wanted for my birthday that night, but we got the times wrong and missed it, so we settled on Captain America 2; and all in all, it was a good choice.
Captain 2 is an entertaining superhero movie, with a little bit of everything, mystery, conspiracy and of course action. Chris Evans isn’t bad as Cappy, but he’s definitely the least interesting of the Avengers. Luckily, Captain America 2 compensated for that by giving him the wonderful Scarlett Johansson and a good amount of Samuel L. Jackson, to play off of. Throw in Anthony Mackie as Falcon, and Robert Redford, and you’ve got a pretty great ensemble cast.
The cast isn’t the only good part of Captain America: Winter Soldier, it’s watching the Captain adapt to this new world he doesn’t know, and on top of that, he’s dealing with lies and deception amongst Hydra. It’s pretty awesome to watch the way it all unfolds, I can’t get into it to much without treading on spoiler territory, but it’s a pretty great little thrill ride.
The movie stumbles here and there, it makes the mistake of thinking we’re as emotionally connected with Cappy’s past as he is. It lingers to long on someone he meets from his past, the movie tries to play with our heart strings, when we clearly don’t care. It the obvious explosions and fights, cliches, and you’ll probably be able to guess the big reveals, but in the end, it all works, and it leaves a good taste in your mouth. It may even make you believe in Disney’s Marvel again.
My Grade: B+
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Directed by: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Colm Feore, and Paul Giamatti.
I don’t even want to write about this mess of a movie. That’s right. The only reason I am, is so that I can warn you all, just skip it. I was so disappointed in the first Marc Webb directed, Andrew Garfield starring Spider-man, I don’t know why I gave this a second chance. Well, I do know why, the first Amazing Spider-man treaded on such familiar territory as the Sam Raimi spider-mans, that it only managed to piss me off. I assumed, that they may be able to get it right their second time out, but I was wrong.
The amazing Spider-man squanders it’s wonderful young leads, who have great on screen chemistry, and are this movies only saving grace. It decides to take a page from two of the worst comic book movies in history. It decides to go a more cartoony route, like the terrible 1997 Batman and Robin, and then decides to over stuff the movie with villains, like Sam Raimi’s Spider-man 3.
I’m going to jump into some mild spoilers, nothing you couldn’t guess from the trailers, but Dane DeHaan ends up becoming The Green Goblin. DeHaan is probably one of my favorite upcoming actors, and a perfect choice to play Harry Osborn/Green Goblin. Unfortunately the movie squanders his talents, and makes his character a second thought. It ends up focusing most of its time on Jamie Foxx’s Electro, who isn’t a bad villain, but his reasons behind becoming a spider-man hating villain are plain silly. For good measure, they throw in Paul Giamatti as The Rhino, who is just free advertising for Marvels upcoming, all villain, Sinister Six movie.
The movie shines briefly whenever it’s just Peter Parker (Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Stone) on screen, and in the early moments between Harry Osborn (DeHaan) and Peter Parker. If The Amazing Spider-man was a romantic comedy/bromance movie, I would give it a pass. When it comes down to it, it’s the poor pacing, crappy editing and jumpy tonal shifts that make this movie a huge mess.
Oh, and that “shocking” ending… it would have been slightly if we hadn’t guessed it in the first half hour. Because of that “Shocking” ending they’ve completely ruined any excitement that could have come with the third Amazing Spider-man. Fingers crossed they decide to scrap plans for a third installment…
My Grade: D+
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn and Juliette Binoche
I did not want to get my hopes up for this one, I did that last summer for Pacific Rim, and we all know what happened there. So I avoided trailers like the plague, I didn’t read any reviews or articles on the movie, and I don’t think I knew the full cast until I saw a movie poster a few days before. To boil it down, I love monster movies. I’ve seen many of the old Godzilla movies, and even though it’s a bad movie, 8 year old me still holds a special spot in my heart for the 1998 Godzilla. A godzilla reboot/remake made my heart leap for joy.
I sat down with high hopes, even though I tried to keep them low, and I left happy. The black and white back story played over the opening credits, we got our first glimpse of the gigantic creatures back and it was immediately thrilling. Director Gareth Edwards took a page from Cloverfield, tease your monster, scare your audience, add some mystery and leave us wanting more. It’s a great combination that works.
Godzilla doesn’t have it’s flaws, it’s 2 hours long, and it could have cut out about 15-20 minutes of human drama. I hated Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character by the end and couldn’t care whether he lived or died, he’s an unlikeable character played by an uncharismatic actor. I was also slightly frustrated by Elizabeth Olsen’s small and unimportant role. If the movie had only focused on Bryan Cranston and Ken Wantanabe’s characters, that would have been sufficient. I digress.
I’ve had friends comment on the lack of Godzilla himself, but I felt like Godzilla had the perfect amount of screen time. I don’t want to enter into spoiler territory yet again, but I will say the amount of “Monster” action in Godzilla was 100% sufficient for me. Anymore and it would have been bordering on overkill. The sense of scale and size in Godzilla was perfect, watching the monster walk through San Francisco sent a sense of dread through me. Something I haven’t felt from a monster movie in a while.
I salute Gareth Edwards on rebooting Godzilla wonderfully, and introducing us to a character all over again.
My Grade: A-
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Ian Mckellan, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Anna Paquin, Evan Peters, Omar Sy and Peter Dinklage.
The fanboy/girl in all of us screamed when we saw that the cast from X:Men: First Class would somehow be mixing with the cast of X:Men 1-3. How could they pull this off without it feeling like a jumbled mess, or a blatant cash grab? It was worrisome to think about.
I can easily say that this is Bryan Singer’s best movie since X2, and Its a pleasure to feel shades of X2 throughout. On top of that, Days of Future Past is easily the best X-Men movie since X2 as well. If you think about it too hard you may be able to pick apart the logic in XM:DOFP, but why would you when the story in front of you is so emotionally deep, full of multi-layered characters and a story that is engrossing and riveting.
Days of Future Past is a juggling act, the first thing it’s juggling is it’s many characters, many of whom are huge fan favorites. There’s Mystique (Lawrence), Beast (Hoult), Xavier (McAvoy) and Magneto (Fassbender) from first class. Then We have Old Favorites, Storm (Berry), Wolverine (Jackman), Magneto (McKellan), Xavier (Stewart) and Kitty Pryde (Page) from the original X:Men movies, and of course in attempts to keep things fresh we have new characters like Dr. Trask (Peter Dinklage), Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and a few other new mutants. It’s a juggling act, and if your worried your favorite mutant won’t get their time to shine, I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
I’m going to re-watch Days of Future Past several times, about as many times as i’ve re-watched X2, and I know I’ll get a little more out of it each time. I’ll look forward to the highlights of the movie, such as the scenes with new mutant Quicksilver, the amazing cinematography and set design of the futuristic scenes, the wonderful acting from James McAvoy for his portrayal of the emotionally and physically wounded Professor Xavier, and the unimaginable final moments of the film.
I’m excited to see what the future can hold for this franchise after Days of future Past, I have high hopes.
My Grade: A
Thanks for Reading,
Mitch Burns, The Hollywood Persona