Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In Which I Discuss Thor 2 (While Mostly Flailing Over Tom Hiddleston)

EDIT: So a lot of my posts haven't been going through because of Internet problems, so expect a small flurry of slightly out of date stuff today, like the snow flurry outside my window this morning. In April. In the South. I was not amused.

-Bullet list. Or else we're not gonna get anywhere.
-For the record, and I'm totally biased, Thor is my favorite Avenger. Always has been, always will be.
-So this movie was definitely pretty high up on the list of "I'm going to watch this immediately and cry even if there's nothing sad".
-And thankfully, despite some flaws which I will pick at, it lived up to my expectations.
-My biggest concern for this particular expedition was Loki, as it usually is. How are they gonna deal with the fact that he almost destroyed Earth last summer? Will this create more Shakespearean drama? Does Tom Hiddleston still get to steal scenes if Loki is imprisoned? The answer is yes. And it works wonderfully. This is definitely a movie more about Loki, which is not to say that it's not about others too. Everybody gets a little more character development this time around. But it is a Loki world, and we're merely living in it.
-Love triangle? Kind of. No spoilers, but I was a fan of how it was handled. Don't worry, there's no catfighting between Sif and Jane, our two lady leads.
-Well, Kat Denning's hilarious Darcy doesn't count as a lady lead, but in terms of show stealing, she's up there with Hiddleston. The movie can be pretty dark, but Darcy and a few well chosen cameos keep it funny when it needs to be.
-Character death. Be warned.
-Hemsworth lends credibility to a role that pretty much anyone else would've played statically. He gets better with every movie.
-Special effects. I had issues. First of all, what looks to be a hasty post-filming 3D conversion darkened the colors in the 2-D version most of you probably went to see. Sometimes it's a little hard to tell what's going on. I really wish studios would stop doing that to make a bigger profit, it's getting annoying and detracts from the movie itself.
-No, but I really enjoyed it, and did cry (for the record, there were actual sad things in this movie, it wasn't just me being a total sap). Some will mostly likely have problems with all the rawr-elves-and-laser-beams-and-high-fantasy-elements, but I found this totally bonkers approach awesome for the movie. If this happens in Cap 2, I'll be less thrilled, but hey, it works for Asgard.


Friday, April 4, 2014

In Which Captain America Knocks My Socks Off

So I had a wonderful birthday yesterday, which included good food and a trip to the movies for some good ole fashioned patriotism.

Captain America at a glance is one of the more bland of not only the Avengers, but Marvel's super hero universe altogether. We've got Norse gods, eccentric billionaires that are way funnier than Batman, a talking raccoon with a machine gun, even a guy who eats planets (I'm not kidding).

So to have a movie that finally makes you take Cap seriously is pretty great. A lot of stuff has been tweaked, i.e. we switched out the red white and blue pajamas for something that actually looks like a secret agent who loves patriotism.

But Cap himself still holds to the same moral code evident in his first solo movie and the Avengers. And in this particular installment, that often means some clashes with S.H.I.E.L.D. head Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) over freedom vs. safety and some very post 9/11 political intrigue.

This was not the aforementioned good ole fashioned patriotism one would expect from a Captain America film. But that's okay.

The story is a perfect blend of political thriller, character piece, and action blockbuster. For every dark moment (of which there are many), there's a joke. For every explosion, there is a quiet dramatic scene that builds wonderfully on these already familiar characters.

Oh, and the characters in this movie are awesome. We've got Chris Evans back in the titular role, and there is nobody better for it. His Cap finally gets a little sass and perfectly conveys the everyman sensibility and morality of Steve Rogers without coming off as pretentious or annoying. Scarlett Johannsssoooonnn (I'm not even gonna try anymore) is spectacular as Russian assassin Black Widow, and has great chemistry with Chris Evans. But this movie also proves that any excuses for lack of a Widow movie are absolutely invalid. Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders are back as Nick Fury and Maria Hill respectively. My earlier qualm with very little screen time for Hill still stands, however awesome her scenes are. But Fury gets quite a lot of material in this film, something I've been waiting for, and it's handled very well.
Then we've got Anthony Mackie as Falcon, who also needs a little more screen time, but makes an impression with what he's got. It's a great role, played very well, with lots of humor and empathy. And of all people, Robert Redford joins us briefly in this installment as a twisted politician. He fares well as one of the movie's many villains, although his is shrouded in a bit more ambiguity than say, the Winter Soldier's.
By the way, I won't spoil anything. But the villain in this movie is one of Cap's greatest, for reasons other than his combat skills, which are impressive to say the least.
The action sequences in the film are cool too. There aren't a whole lot of set pieces until the flash bang boom final fight. There's a particularly cool car chase...thing with Nick Fury, and anytime Falcon gets a chance to show off is completely awesome. And Black Widow gets a lot of time to kick butt and fire off one liners.
The plot twists in here are particularly potent and game changing. This movie is probably a tonal shift point for the entire Avengers universe, what with some of the revelations. It's going to be really interesting to see how they continue from this point.

I was a little disappointed by one really minor detail, which is Coulson. I know we've got Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which I'm terribly behind on, but shouldn't they at least have mentioned his death? Especially since he was such a big Cap fan? I don't know, I feel like they really gloss over that little detail.

So obviously, I was really impressed by this movie. It was the perfect combination of Marvel's previous lighter movies with just enough of the darkness of the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. Do I want all of Marvel's movies to be like this? No. But this one was pretty sweet after the high fantasy/sci-fi of Thor 2, and the comedy action of Iron Man. You get a little bit of everything if you're invested in these movies as I am, and that's pretty genius.