Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

It’s been a long time since we had a good Spider-Man movie, 13 long years in fact. Since Spider-Man 2 back in 2004, a masterpiece of the superhero genre that still stands up as one of the best of all time, we’ve had several attempts to keep the web-slinger going. Spider-Man 3 was a complete mess, overloaded with villains and led by a far-too-old Tobey Maguire, not to mention the horrific emo dance sequence, while the Amazing Spider-Man pair of films tried too hard to update the series for “modern sensibilities” (whatever that means) and the results were uninspired and extremely dull. I’d come to believe that as long as Sony still held the rights to the wall-crawler, one of my favorite comic book heroes, we’d be doomed to mediocre reboot after mediocre reboot, never again having a Spider-Man movie worthy of the name.

So imagine my surprise when a deal was reached between Sony and Marvel/Disney and Spider-Man wound up being one of the best parts of Captain America: Civil War. And now here we are, with Tom Holland’s first full outing in the famous red and blue spider suit, and the results are pretty impressive. Spider-Man: Homecoming is naturally the best Spider-Man movie in 13 years, although that’s really not saying much. It’s a lot of fun, one of the funniest movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it gets a lot of things right. It’s not perhaps the home run one might be hoping for, but it’s solidly in the top half of MCU films, getting a lot about the character of Peter Parker right, while managing to tie in cleverly with the larger universe of films. Oh, and Tony Stark is in it, getting a little redemption after his last outing in Civil War.

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Review: Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was perhaps my biggest surprise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. While Guardians of the Galaxy came out of nowhere with its unconventional style and Ant-Man managed to impress despite its troubled production, The Winter Soldier blew away all of my expectations. I enjoyed Captain America’s first outing, particularly because of its strong cast, but overall I was underwhelmed by its uninteresting plot. I loved what Joss Whedon did with the character in The Avengers, but I never imagined that The Winter Soldier would be so thrilling. The Russo Brothers brought a very specific cinematic flavor to Captain America, which combined with a witty screenplay, the best action sequences in the MCU, and a willingness to overthrow the establishment to give us a movie that works on many different levels. Following that success, the question of Captain America: Civil War became not “Is it any good?” (because with Marvel’s track record at this point, they have the benefit of the doubt) but “Just how good can it be?” What could the team that brought us The Winter Soldier do with a larger roster of heroes in what could just as easily have been titled Avengers: Civil War? The result is another excellent entry in the Marvel series that, while perhaps not reaching the top tier of what Marvel has to offer, shows that there is still plenty of fuel in Marvel’s tank. Civil War is an exciting, emotional ride with interesting things to say, that is willing to take our heroes in new directions, reshuffling the cards for the next hand that Marvel will deal over the next few years.

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Captain America: Civil War – Trailer Analysis and Screencaps

Captain America: Civil War

As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, Disney/Marvel debuted a new trailer for Captain America: Civil War yesterday in conjunction with advance tickets going on sale. The first trailer was an atmospheric and moody one, giving us quick peeks at a variety of what’s happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with an emphasis on the Steve Rogers/Tony Stark/Bucky Barnes triangle. We got our first look at Black Panther, as well as hints at the ultimate showdown between Captain America and Iron Man. This latest trailer expands on the first one, repeating a few moments but going bigger. It’s much more action-packed, it gives us a larger idea of the film’s plot without too many specifics, and we get to see many more of our favorite heroes. And to top it all off, this trailer also gives us a first look at a new character, although one with whom most viewers are probably familiar. So take a look at the trailer below and then read on for my thoughts and screencaps. Then be sure to let me know what you think in the comments!

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New Trailer for Captain America: Civil War!

A new trailer for Captain America: Civil War dropped today, conveniently at the same time advance tickets went on sale (seriously?!? The movie is still 2 months away! I don’t think most people need to hurry up and buy tickets just yet.), and you can check it out below. Hopefully I’ll have a more in depth breakdown of the trailer ready tomorrow morning, complete with screenshots, but for now take a look and let me know what you think. There’s definitely more action this time around, and a bigger focus on the central conflict between Team Captain America and Team Iron Man. We get a longer look at some new characters, and even a quick peek at one important newcomer. Give it a go, and then drop me a line in the comments telling me what you think!

Tony Stark the Mad Scientist – Avengers: Age of Ultron

Peace in our time 

This post is part of the Movie Scientist Blogathon, hosted by Christina Wehner and Silver Screenings. Day 1 is all about good scientists, day 2 is for mad scientists, and day 3 covers lonely scientists. 

The idea of “mad scientists” is probably as old as science, and it’s certainly been around since the beginning of cinema. There are countless iterations, from Victor Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll, and it’s easy to see why the concept makes for such compelling storytelling. They’re often tragic heroes in the classic sense, full of noble intentions but undone by their own ambition or shortsightedness. The mad scientist is of course distinct from the “evil genius”. Where an evil genius is typically the villain of a story, using their knowledge and ability for nefarious purposes, the mad scientist is typically a character with noble intentions who is subject to the tragic flaw of being unable to see the consequences of their actions until they’re too late. (Then there are good scientists who are just kind of crazy or reclusive, whom I wouldn’t typically classify as “mad.) To me, there’s no better use of the mad scientist trope than in last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

If there was one criticism that could be leveled against 2012’s The Avengers, it might be that the film was just a little too perfect.  I know that sounds like a ridiculous thing to say, but bear with me.  The second highest grossing film of all time was almost universally beloved and forever changed the landscape of the film industry with its success, but it was perhaps a little too polished.  The action was too slick, the one-liners too well-timed and well-written, the effects too impressive, the heroes too heroic and the villains too villainous.  For Avengers: Age of Ultron, the second Avengers film, the eleventh movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Joss Whedon’s second and final outing in the MCU, that perfection is intentionally avoided and the result is a film that’s messier, dirtier, more complicated, and ultimately a richer and better film than its predecessor.

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