Tag Archives: Marvel Movies

Link’n’Blogs – 9.21.18: Marvelous


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as fun or thought provoking as I have.

Sometimes something comes along that speaks for itself.

Welcome Marvel’s newest (greatest?) hero:

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Filed under Captain Marvel, Link'n'Blog, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Comics, Marvel Films, Marvel Movies, Marvel Studios, Movie Teaser, Movie Teasers, Movie Trailer, Movies

Avengers | Infinity War – A SPOILER FREE Movie Review


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Infinity War PosterEpic, engaging and emotional, building from moment to moment with intensity and a surprising amount of touching humor, Avengers|Infinity War is an astonishing achievement. Going into the movie, the question of how filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo were going to give each of the member of the sprawling cast a moment in the spotlight was paramount.

Somehow, they manage to do it.

Another concern was would the movie feel like a proper culmination of 10 years of Marvel films.

Check that one off, too.

Finally, there were worries that about the stakes of the movie: would they and their outcome justify all the strum und drang of the proceedings? Yes. They absolutely do.

This is a difficult movie to review while avoiding spoilers. A spoiler filled discussion of Avengers|Infinity War is justified and will follow after another viewing or two but, of this movie, suffice it to say, that the conclusion of the movie will likely leave audiences breathless and wondering what, exactly, comes next. And this is, perhaps, the greatest strength of the movie. For all of our collective familiarity with the characters and this Marvel Cinematic Universe, we are somehow uncomfortable and on the edge of our seats wondering about the fate of the heroes, their friends, families and world and how they will ever defeat the seemingly unstoppable Thanos.

Most superhero movies – and Marvel movies are no different – suffer from antagonist problems. That is to say, the antagonists are rarely as interesting as the heroes they oppose. They are often one note. And they usually are derivative of the hero himself (cannot write “herself” for Marvel movies yet).

In Thanos, Avengers|Infinity War presents a villain who rises above all this. He might be the most fascinating character in the movie. Josh Brolin has been appearing in stingers and brief cameos in Marvel movies for years to little effect. Sure, we have known Thanos was coming but what did we really see him do? Put on a glove? Here, he completely embodies the unthinkable, unstoppable force that is the character. Let us hand it to Marvel, again, on its casting. Brolin is wonderful and Thanos is no simple role to play.

Avengers|Infinity War has something for everyone. Fans of Iron Man get plenty of Tony Stark. Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy will spend time with Star Lord and the gang. Fans of Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther… well, you get the picture. Somehow, each member of the massive Marvel cast is given time to shine. Captain America? Check. The Black Widow? Yes. The Hulk and Thor? Without question. Does that mean every question about every character is answered? It does not. Are there some dangling plot threads that are left to dangle? There are. But it is both amazing and gratifying to see how many of our heroes are featured, and featured well.

Frankly, the only film of which I can think that does half as good a job of this is the Academy Award winning Return of the King and it took that movie about 13 different epilogues to handle its cast. Run to a theater right now and you can probably still catch the last one. Avengers|Infinity War juggles over 50 different characters and is a somehow brisk affair at an almost 3 hour running time.

One of the joys of the movie is the team ups. Want to see Iron Man and Doctor Strange (the Beard Bros) working together? How about Black Panther and Bucky? Rocket and Thor? It seems to have been a blast to write these scenes because they crackle with energy and the cast is clearly having much fun.  The entire film is surprisingly fun especially when one considers the stakes at hand and the carnage that is wrought… no spoiler there, I hope!

There are moments that will fly over the heads (catch the Drax reference there?) of many movie goers. There are some that will even challenge the most Marvel Maniacs in the audience. There may be a little too much fan service. Additionally, in the context of such a massive affair, something had to receive short shrift that here, and that is the Black Order, the villainous collection of super-powered beings Thanos sends out to confront the Avengers. They are, primarily, amazing creations of which the audience gets to know very little. That is too bad.

But this is a minor quibble. Avengers | Infinity War is a monumental achievement. Marvel has, once again, raised the bar for what a superhero movie can be in terms of scope and complexity and also in terms of themes and consequences. This one may leave audiences thinking long after the final reel. That is something most superhero movies do not do. Avengers|Infinity War leaves a mark.

And not just on the Avengers.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR receives SIX INFINITY STONES out of a possible FIVE.

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Filed under Avengers, Avengers: Infinity War, Comic Book Movies, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Comics, Marvel Films, Marvel Movies, Marvel Studios, Movie Review, Movies

The Final Countdown – Avengers: Infinity War

What does it mean that I re-watched or, in the case of Black Panther, watched for the first time ALL of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films in preparation for Avengers: Infinity War which The Cinnamon Girl and I will see tonight?

Marvel-Studios-10th-Anniversary-Shirt-

The More Than A Fan shirt I’ll wear to AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR this evening!

Nothing at all… but it was a lot of fun!

In case you missed one or want to review before you see the movie yourself, here you go!

 


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Countdown to INFINITY… Doctor Strange


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ONE A WEEK UNTIL Avengers Infinity War opens in May!

Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk| Iron Man II Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange | Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther

Week Fifteen: Doctor Strange

Strange

 

Okay, to be fair, Doctor Strange is, almost beat-for-beat, Iron Man. Rich, arrogant, watch loving scientist learns a lesson in humility when he almost loses his life. He had treated those close to him poorly. He is something of a rogue, but lovable. He is the smartest guy in the room. He is a cad.

One might imagine that, if Robert Downey, jr were not otherwise engaged, he would have been an excellent choice for the title role in this film. As it turns out, Benedict Cumberbatch does a great job with Doctor Strange. He continues Marvel’s terrific casting choices. And he promises to be a lot of fun in Infinity War. Rachel McAdams is great, too, but a bit wasted. I would like to see more of her. And the movie cannot be forgiven for wasting the terrific Michael Stuhlbarg. It also has one of the most lame Stan Lee cameos.

The plot is limited, the villain (this is an old Marvel story) boring and the conclusion typically “the whole world is at stake-y.” But it has some very trippy visuals, for sure. In any ranking of the Marvel films, Doctor Strange would likely chart in the lower third but, hey, the Marvel movies are pretty good.

Doctor Strange is unlike other Marvel films in one very important way: it opens up an entire multiverse of magic and it helps prove that superhero movies can be sued to tell all kinds of different stories.

 

I gave Doctor Strange FOUR EYES OF AGAMOTTO out of a possible FIVE when it came out. Though it is a bit reductive, it is also a lot of fun.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • Stephen Strange; Doctor Strange (though he was name dropped in Winter Soldier)
  • Kaecilius
  • Then Ancient One
  • Christine Palmer
  • Baron Mordo
  • Wong
  • Dormammu

CONNECTION(S) TO INFINITY WAR:

  • The Eye of Agamotto is, itself, an Infinity Stone, the Time Stone to be precise. As Doctor Strange wears it around his neck, Thanos may be as interested in the character as the character is interested in protecting it.
  • According to Wong, word of the Ancient One’s death will spread through the multiverse and folks, like Thanos perhaps, will know that the Earth has no one to defend it.
  • The idea of a multiverse in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is first introduced here. There are many concepts laid out in Doctor Strange that likely will be important to Infinity War.
  • The mid-credit sequence sets up Thor | Ragnarok in that it is a scene from that movie and that movie directly leads into the more cosmic portions of Infinity War.

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Filed under Avengers, Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Comics, Marvel Films, Marvel Movies, Marvel Studios, Movies

Countdown to INFINITY… Ant-Man


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ONE A WEEK UNTIL Avengers Infinity War opens in May!

Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk| Iron Man II Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange | Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther

Week Thirteen: Ant-Man

ant man

Take a few minutes to remember the flavor of Ant-Man:

In recent years, Marvel has mined its back catalog and made movies of characters with far less name recognition than Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Thor. The trend started with the smash Guardians of the Galaxy and continues with Ant-Man. What they have done is proven that superheroes sell if they are handled correctly.

Ant-Man is handled correctly from start-to-finish. Part caper, part family drama, part high-concept heist movie, Ant-Man has a terrific cast (Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas are all terrific) and propellant plot and a just the right touch of irreverent absurdity to make it a real delight.

This was a “creative tension” movie with original writer/director Edgar Wright bowing out and star Paul Rudd and new director Peyton Reed stepping in to finish the project. Rumor has it that Wright did not want to play in the Marvel sandbox and participate in the universe building that is now incumbent in these films. Frankly, it is hard to imagine Ant-Man without the Marvel Universe connections. They are part of what makes the movie such fun.

I gave Ant-Man  FOUR AND A HALF SUGAR CUBES out of a possible FIVE when I reviewed it upon its initial release.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man and SHIELD operative
  • Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp
  • Scott Lang, the new Ant-Man
  • Hope Van Dyne
  • Pym Particles
  • Luis, Scott’s good friend
  • Kurt and Dave, Luis’ associates
  • Ant-tony, Scott’s flying ant

CONNECTION(S) TO INFINITY WAR:

  • There are no overt, infinity stone connections, though the Quantum Realm may get some play in the upcoming movie
  • If we understand that Infinity War finds a fractured Avengers team following the events of Captain America: Civil War, we have to note that Scott Lang faces off and gains measured respect from the Falcon who, in both the end of the movie and the post credit sequence (lifted directly from Civil War) is looking for Scott to assist the Avengers generally and, later, Cap’s off shoot team specifically.
  • SHIELD and Hydra also get shout outs and Hank Pym references Sokovia which also ties to Civil War which ties to the war of the Infinity variety.

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Filed under Ant-Man, Avengers, Avengers: Infinity War, Comic Book Movies, Comic Books, Marvel Comics, Marvel Movies, Movies

Countdown to INFINITY… Avengers | Age of Ultron


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ONE A WEEK UNTIL Avengers Infinity War opens in May!

Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk| Iron Man II Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange | Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther

Week Twelve: Avengers | Age of Ultron

age of ultron mondo

There is a lot to like in Avengers: Age of Ultron from James Spader’s quirky line readings as the titular villain of the age, to Captain America’s problem with cursing to Hawkeye’s secret family. Throw in Tony Stark doing mad-scientist Tony Stark things, Black Widow and the Hulk’s star-crossed romance and not one, not two but three new Avengers in Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch and Vision and you have a very, very good Marvel movie.

If you only have time to watch one scene in Age of Ultron, please make it the post-party scene where the male Avengers, one-by-one, attempt to life Thor’s hammer. It is a great sequence in-and-of-itself, and it sets up a huge payoff at the end of the film.

Age of Ultron also continues laying the foundations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and does so with intentionality and with deft storytelling. Anyone seeing Infinity War will have to remember this movie and its plot points in detail to have any clue what the Infinity War is actually over.

Sure, there are a few misfires here. Women are not handled particularly well and there is an entire Thor sequence that, really, makes little sense. But, on the whole, it is a solid successor to Avengers. Not better, not far worse. Solid.

When I reviewed Avengers: Age of Ultron a few years back, I gave it FOUR AND A HALF “I BET YOU DIDN’T SEE THAT COMINGS” out of a possible FIVE.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • Quicksilver
  • Scarlet Witch
  • The Vision
  • The Mind Stone (the yellow stone in Vision’s head)
  • Ulysses Klaue (who will appear in Black Panther)
  • Wakanda as the home of Vibranium
  • Hawkeye’s family
  • Avengers Training Facility in Upstate New York

CONNECTION(S) TO INFINITY WAR:

  • Thanos dons the Infinity Gauntlet which has no stones in it during the post credit sequence.
  • “Fine, I’ll do it myself” Thanos says as he sets out to secure the stones.
  • The conflict between Iron Man and Captain America is boiling here. It will be a very big deal in Captain America: Civil War which has major repercussions for Infinity War.
  • Clearly, Thanos is coming after the Mind Stone. Hope Vision does not need it to live!

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Filed under Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, Comic Book Movies, Marvel Movies, Movies

Countdown to INFINITY… Captain America: The Winter Soldier


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ONE A WEEK UNTIL Avengers Infinity War opens in May!

Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk| Iron Man II Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange | Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther

Week Nine: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Untitled

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a wonderful movie, not simply a great superhero movie. Part political potboiler, part thriller, the movie only suffers form a bit of silliness with a time lock plot in the third act that draws things out a bit unnecessarily.

That, however, is a small complaint and the action and pathos of the film are complex and compelling.

All of this happens while a massive amount of world building is taken care of as well.

And it has Robert Redford in a tremendous role as the morally ambiguous Alexander Pierce.

Any list of the top five Marvel movies must include Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

When I reviewed Captain America: The Winter Soldier when it was released, I may actually have been too harsh only giving it FOUR AND A HALF SMITHSONIAN EXHIBITS out of a possible FIVEUpon further review, it may deserve five.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • Sam Wilson, The Falcon
  • Bucky Barnes reintroduced as The Winter Soldier
  • Brock Rumlow, Crossbones
  • Sharon Carter, Agent 13

CONNECTION(S) TO INFINITY WAR:

  • The destruction of SHIELD will leave the world all the more vulnerable to invasion by the forces of Thanos.
  • Stephen Strange is mentioned by Hydra agent Jasper Sitwell. He is, of course, Doctor Strange and he is featured in Avengers Infinity War.
  • The post credit sequence features Baron Strucker (a Hydra operative) and future Avengers Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. The Scarlet Witch, in particular, featured in Captain America: Civil War and will be a prominent Avenger in Infinity War.
  • Bucky is a MAJOR player in Captain America: Civil War and has shown up in… other places in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well. We also have seen him in the preview for Infinity War.

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Filed under Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America, Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Comic Book Movies, Marvel Movies, Movie Review, Movies

Black Panther – A Movie Review


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Black Panther

I will restrain myself from pronouncing Black Panther the best of the Marvel Studios movies. 

For now.

However, you can certainly believe the hype: Black Panther is a wonderful movie – thought provoking, beautiful, exciting, uplifting – and it deserves each accolade it is receiving. On its way to a massive and record opening, Black Panther will, like Wonder Woman last summer, likely serve as a touchstone that will change the way people think about superhero movies.

Actually, it is likely to change the way people think about movies in general. More on that later.

Black Panther does many amazing things, primary among them is passing itself off as a comic book movie. It simply is not or, rather, it is much more than that. Sure, there are the trappings of the superhero story: a young man receives special gifts and powers upon the death of this father and, after fighting through self-doubt and challengers, assumes the mantle of hero. Each-and-every box of that trope is fully checked. Black Panther (played by a very engaging and well cast Chadwick Boseman who premiered in the role in Captain America: Civil War) has a super suit, super powers and is super clear in his mission. He is also a wonderful hero. But he does not act alone.

Of the many surprises Black Panther has in store for its audience, one of the most delightful is that it is actually an ensemble movie. Perhaps even more delightful – and important – is that the ensemble is comprised almost exclusively of women. On hand and in roles which are just as prominent as Boseman’s are Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Leticia Wright as Shuri. Nakia is a secret agent just as competent as the Panther, Okoye is a member of the Panther’s royal guard who is clearly a superior fighter to him and Shuri is the most brilliant character on screen. I wanted to see more of these women that the movie (even at 2 hours and 14 minutes) had time to showcase. Each performance was wonderful and nuanced. Each was full of surprises. Factor in Forrest Whittaker and Angela Bassett in supporting roles as well and you have put together an amazing cast. Each of them, like the movie overall, exceeds expectation.

Michael B. Jordan is remarkable as Eric Killmonger, the protagonist in the film. He embodies Killmonger with complexity and pathos and overcomes some of the typical, villain must be connected to the hero plot devices that plague these movies. His rage is as believable as him being an equal to Black Panther and, when the final showdown comes, Boseman and Jordan are well suited for it and well matched.

The movie itself is unlike any of the others which have proceeded it. There is precious little world building or fan service here and Black Panther is the better for the absence. One part James Bond movie, one part mediation on race, one part celebration of all cultures and one part action movie, Black Panther is simply a terrific and captivating experience that will resonate far beyond the manner in which other comic book movies do. Black Panther wants to be what it is, yes: a Marvel Superhero Movie. But it wants to be – and IS – much more than that. It will have to be counted on any “best of” list of Marvel films and I wonder, way in the back of my head, if we will be talking about it when Academy Award nominations for 2018 are announced early next year. 

We should be.

It will continue to smash box office records and reasons it has struck such a note with the general public will be considered, written about and debated. And that is a good thing. The movie gives lie to the idea that a film starring a black cast, featuring black creators and discussing themes of race cannot be a hit with a broad audience.

And thank God for that.

I am looking forward to Boseman and many of the rest of the cast appearing this summer in Avengers: Infinity War and I cannot wait for Black Panther 2

BLACK PANTHER receives FIVE ARMORED RHINOS out of a possible FIVE.

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Countdown to INFINITY… Iron Man 3


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ONE A WEEK UNTIL Avengers Infinity War opens in May!

Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk| Iron Man II Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy \ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange |            Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther

Week Seven: IRON MAN 3

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 is one of my favorite Christmas movies. Did you forget it takes place over the holiday? It is also smart and fun and directly deals with fallout from Avengers. Though there are many for whom the big reveal of the identity of the Mandarin did not land, it absolutely worked overtime for me. Almost every choice made in Iron Man 3 works. It is a much superior sequel to Iron Man 2. 

It is surprisingly funny and it might be Robert Downey jr’s best performance in the role of Tony Stark which is surely saying something. The movie’s main antagonist, Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian, is a slight improvement over the typical villain. And the chemistry between Downey and Gwyneth Paltrow along with the dynamic between Downey and Don Cheadle is terrific, too.

Iron Man 3 is a very much self contained affair. There is very little world building here and the majority of the plot threads it introduces are not really revisited again. It also takes on some of the most “grown up” themes of any of the Marvel films.

And the initial segment of the closing credits – the Hart to Hart homage, the driving and super-duper theme song by Brian Tyler and the images from all 3 Iron Many movies – is too much fun.

Iron Man 3 plays like the final installment in Iron Man’s solo adventures, and so it has been.

 

Iron Man 3 premiered before I was blogging reviews, but it receives FOUR AND A HALF DORA THE EXPLORER WATCHES out of a possible FIVE.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • The Mandarin
  • Tony’s army of Iron Man suits (which are, of course, destroyed in the context of the movie)

CONNECTION(S) TO INFINITY WAR:

  • The kind of artificial intelligence that is seen in the new suits sets up a plot point of Avengers: Age of Ultron which will lead to Captain America: Civil War which will… you get the point.
  • Stay for the post credit scene which continues the development of the so-called “science bros” rapport between Tony and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner.
  • We know that Tony puts his armor back on before Avengers: Age of Ultron, but the audience is never actually told why or how.

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Link’n’Blogs – 2.16.18: Everything You Need to Know about Black Panther


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

If the hype machine is to be trusted (it isn’t typically, but I hope it is in this case), Black Panther is the best of the Marvel movies to date. That would be very cool as he is also one of the least known of the Marvel characters to receive a film. Get ready for the movie with Cosmopolitan’s all you need to know about the Black Panther by clicking T’Challa (do you know what that is?) below…

Black Panther Kirby

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