Browse Tag: marvel

RECAP: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017): James Gunn

2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise hit for Marvel. Released in August, the film finished third in that year’s box office.

A team partly comprised of a raccoon and a tree, the Guardians could have flopped out of theaters in a week and been forgotten.

Marvel never let them have that chance. A sequel was already in the works before the first movie came out. Arriving a year before all the Marvel characters assemble to battle Thanos, the Guardians have two important pieces: two of Thanos’s daughters.

These daughters take their relationship to another level. Peter Quill, the leader of the Guardians, sorts out his own daddy issues, and Rocket Raccoon raises a young, reconstituted Groot.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: The Guardians sort out some family drama while a god tries to kill all life in the galaxy. Continue Reading

RECAP: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): James Gunn

Marvel took a chance in sending a team of total unknowns into theaters in August 2014. Chris Pratt was a bit player on a NBC sitcom, and the other actors were voices or covered in strange paint colors.

Producers injected humor and a great soundtrack to attract audiences likely tired of overly dramatic hero slogs. The Awesome Mix, Peter’s collection of his mother’s favorite pop songs, became the first soundtrack devoid of new songs to top the Billboard charts.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A band of galactic misfits protects a planet that doesn’t want them from a warlord who wants to kill everyone with a purple Infinity Stone. Continue Reading

RECAP: X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016): Bryan Singer

The ageless first class of X-Men actors advance to the 1980s in X-Men: Apocalypse. Mutants have many powers, but did you know they can age not a day in 20 years?

Consider that Sophie Turner, who plays Jean Grey, is 20. The events of First Class took place 20 years before Apocalypse shows up. So she was a wee baby when Xavier lost his walking ability and Magneto first donned his helmet.

These folks haven’t aged in the 20 years of this series. I can suspend the disbelief, because I like what the producers have striven for in setting the mutants in older times. Still, the idea seems to wane in public consciousness. This third film of the prequel series’ theatrical earnings will fall much behind Days of Future Past when it closes its theatrical run.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: The first, and most powerful, mutant tries to destroy the world right after he forms an awesome band of backup mutants.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War (2016): Anthony and Joe Russo

The 2014 sequel titled Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a taut political thriller that dealt with espionage and double agents. Were it not for a guy in a blue spandex suit, we might have forgotten we were watching a Marvel movie.

For Cap’s third solo turn, Marvel decided to cast Robert Downey, Jr. on the same level. The studio used a major plot line from the comics and maxed out the emotional stakes for the world’s greatest team of heroes (Justice League be damned).

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Captain America refuses to sign away his do-gooding powers and suffers the consequences.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Ant-Man

Ant-Man (2015): Peyton Reed

Before sneaking into theaters between and Avengers flick and a Civil War flick, Marvel’s Ant-Man was troubled. Its first director backed out. Then another, but he left his work on the script. Finally, the movie endured a phase shift, when Marvel moved it from Phase Three to Phase Two, which has got to be the most 21st century thing anyone has written about a movie.

Ant-Man was always going to be Marvel’s weak link in the phases. Turns out that the movie made a less-than-ant-sized box office, banking $180 million in the US. That puts it near the bottom of the list for Marvel, ahead of the debut of Captain America and practically tied with Thor’s. Those guys are mainline Avengers.

Ant-Man draws on Marvel’s expanded universe you’ve heard much about by now, leaning on other characters seen and unseen far more than any other character introduction movie yet seen.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A reformed thief returns to crime for one last gig, and his most important, in a shrinking suit.  Continue Reading

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War

There’s a moment in Captain America: Civil War when a bad guy narrates his evil plan. Yes, you’re right, every bad guy in cinema history has narrated his evil plan.

While he narrates, Captain America fights Iron Man. Their fight is titanic, nearly in the mythic sense of that word, because these two men are possibly metahumans.

Chris Evans‘s third solo headlining turn as the eponymous captain is his, and Marvel’s, most ambitious project to date.

2012’s The Avengers was a culmination of sorts, a party picture with each Avenger cracking wise when not cracking alien skulls. Their enemies were literally out of this world. It was an easy film to get behind, a movie made for the rah-rah crowd.

Civil War shatters all that good will. True, this is the second movie of 2016 to feature two Hall of Fame comic book heroes fighting each other. Unlike Batman v SupermanCivil War won’t allow the movie’s other plots to drown it out. The central superhero conflict IS the noise.

Cap and friends begin the movie united, fighting more baddies with the tested Avengers-style teamwork. Old demons are haunting them. Villains of movies past creep back, forcing the Avengers to choose sides–sign away their crime-fighting rights or not.

Central to the plot is, again, the brainwashed Bucky Barnes, childhood friend of Steve Rogers. A recycled plot disappointed this reviewer in Star Wars–The Force Awakens, but Civil War offers more than enough different side dishes to complement last night’s leftovers.

Robert Downey, Jr. earned $50,000,000 to bring Tony Stark to screen and nearly make this movie a dual headliner. Downey earns every dime with his Stark attitude and barely veiled despondency and anger about the bodies Iron Man and the other Avengers keep leaving in his wake.

Evans, time and again, nails Captain America. Always the stalwart of, not democracy, but “what’s right,” Steve Rogers takes the American ethos of individual choice to its logical extreme–answering to no one. Evans plays Cap as a man certain of his rightness and willing to accept the price of that certainty.

Civil War could be called Avengers Lite. Excepting Thor and Hulk, the gang’s all back, and two new guys replace those AWOL Avengers. Spider-Man, played by actual teenager Tom Holland, oozes with youthful glee, characteristics the movie, stuffed full of heavy theme, craves.

Spidey earns a long debut scene. Luckily, with five standalone movies behind him, the public needs little introduction to the character. It’s enough for the movie to say “Hey, here’s a new Spider-Man.”

Earlier the audience meets Chadwick Bozeman as T’Challa, a prince of the African fake-nation of Wakanda. When that nation suffers from a terrorist attack, T’Challa suits up in his alter-ego Black Panther, a terrific fighter who wears a suit made of vibranium (same as Captain America’s shield), crosses paths with some of the Accord-signing Avengers.

Throughout Civil War Panther’s motives remain unclear, but his martial skills are shown often. And that vibranium suit.

All this adds up to the longest run time in Marvel history. It’s worth it. The fight scenes and effects are stellar, possibly Marvel’s best, and the emotional stakes have never been higher for these heroes. Civil War is Marvel’s The Dark Knight moment.

Exploder viewing guide: FIRST RUN WATCH

RECAP: Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011): Joe Johnston

No one had ever avenged before Steve Rogers stepped into a Vita Ray chamber and became Captain America. Perhaps I should say that no had ever Avenged, capital A, before.

Long after the world learned who Iron Man was, Marvel introduced us to Captain America, and man red, white, and blue enough to make Norman Rockwell swoon, a guy as wholesome as General Mills adult cereals, not a do-gooder, but a do-bester.

What better opponents to do-besters than the Nazis? When you want a heroic character, make them stand against National Socialism and the hero comes up aces every time.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A scrawny, scrappy kid from Brooklyn transforms into Captain America, the only man strong enough to defeat Hydra, a sinister Nazi science organization, and its leader, Red Skull. Continue Reading