Thursday, July 28, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger – 124min – PG-13

Captain my captain; you have come into your own as a movie. MAN I loved this film; it was a perfect example of what a superhero film should be. It made the best of humor and action and told us a story of how a scrawny kid from Brooklyn with a huge heart made a difference in World War II. This movie is one complete origin film that makes a huge springboard for next summer’s The Avengers. The people at Marvel have an excellent crew of film makers who understand that humor, action, drama and excellent story telling are key points in film making. This movie gets a green light from me and is a great action ride that is a ‘do again’ just to let the movie wash over you. I am going to go see it again because it’s a movie that looks good on the big screen.

The movie is about Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a little guy, who does not know how to give up. He has tried several times under different names to get enlisted in the Army. He receives a 4F at every attempt. He gets into fights because he stands his ground for what is right and does not like bullies. He is observed by a Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanly Tucci) who is working on a secret project to make super soldiers. He gets accepted into the program and gets transformed into the Hero we know as Captain America. Hitler was also working on a same kind of project which spawned Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and resulted in the two titans fight over the fate of the world.

Some notable characters in the film are Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) he is an Old Military man who has a basis in practicality. Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is the Capitan’s Handler and confidant. Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) is the financial and technology master in this team. They were well cast and top notch performers.

Joe Johnson as the Director was a good fit, his films in the past have been over all good, but not really notable. I think this win will definitely make him a more notable player in movies. After looking at all of his films he has a very heroic flavor to his style. He did The Rocketeer, and I fell in love with that setting and the hero genre. This movie is set in the same time period and reflects some of the same quality work with the subject matter and era.

One of the biggest effects that were done in a seamless way was making Chris Evans a skinny guy. I have to admit it looked spot on and it was hard to pick out the digital effects. More importantly I stopped looking for the effects and was completely bought into the character. It did so much to add more appreciation for the character; you had to go from little guy with a huge heroic streak, to the big and bulky Captain America.

The one message in this film was that ‘good of spirit can show through’ and even though they changed the outside of Steve Rogers the same person remained in all of that new muscle.

Spoilers Warning: Top Secret Eyes Only!!

There are two scenes that made the movie for me. One is the scene where Steve uses his head to get the flag down. And the other is where he throws himself on the grenade. That right there was the best spots in the movie for me. Showing the depth of heroism in the little body of Steve really made me a fan of this character.

I loved Tommy Lee Jones’s character in this film; he added so much comedy at just the right moments. Both the actor and the character are a joy to watch. And the “I’m not going to kiss you” line was classic.

I also like how they brought him into the modern era. That transition was well done and good at leading right into the next movie. The end of the credits is worth a look. I can’t wait until next summer.

Another part that really struck home for me was when he took his war bonds show to the troops and they were completely unimpressed with him. It took him to actually act like a hero for them to get behind him. I liked how he had to prove himself before he was accepted.

Why do you think that Marvel movies are done so much better than DC movies? Yes, the recent Batman movies are an exception. Aside from them, why did Green Lantern just rate an ok while Captain America seemed so much better? Or is it just me? Tell me about it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Hangover Part II

The Hangover Part II - 102min – R

This movie was a pale rehash of the exact same story from the first movie. Yes, it takes place in Thailand. Yes, there are new shenanigans. No, it’s not original or clever or humorous. One bright note I did get to see this movie free of charge, but there was a high price for seeing this film, it was 102 min I will never get back again. I think I got gipped. I am at a loss for words on how bland this movie was. The only character I thought was entertaining was the monkey (Crystal). I think it was Penn Jillette who said it best “there is nothing funnier than a smoking monkey.” Unfortunately, this comedy gold is wasted on an extravagant waste of time. Don’t get me wrong: I truly enjoyed watching the characters get the tar beat out of them but I don’t think it was for the reasons that the filmmakers intended. If you liked the original, just re-watch it. Do not waste your time on this half-assed retread. I am obviously going to give this movie a red light, for failing to do anything more with the characters or the storyline.

The movie starts out with some friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan(Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) getting together to have a little bachelor party, things get out of hand and they have one wild night in Vega…excuse me Bangkok. They lose a member of their happy band and spend the next few days trying to find him before they have to get back to the wedding. After a long chance though the city uncover clues as to what happed, they gather the lost friend and get back to the wedding on time and then stumble on a camera that has pictures of what really happed on their wild night of fun. Oh wait did I just give you the synopsis of the first one or the second one? Meh it doesn’t matter.

I think the fault here lies in the fact that they thought they could skate the same movie by with a different set. I place the blame on Todd Phillips. He seems to think that this kind of churn and burn sequel will be fine. He has done some really good comedies in the past… well, ok, really he has done this kind of film before with different people and setting but it’s the same kind of thing. It might be a case of “hey guys, I just got a budget to take us all to Thailand, let’s go do The Hangover Part 2.”

It could also be the fault of the writers. Craig Mazin is known for his work on ultra spoofs like Scary Movie 4 and Super Hero Movie. Scot Armstrong who has worked with Phillips before also took part in the creation of this film. Todd Phillips also has a writer’s credit on this film. I can’t even cut him a break of, “look, he was just the director he did not know what he was doing”. Nope his hands where on this steamer from start to finish.

From a filmmaker’s perspective there was nothing wrong with this film. It did a good job of putting the film together and making it work as a travelogue. But the big problem that holds this movie back is that they seemed to be resting on their laurels and coasted in on the back of the success of the first movie.

Here are the only funny parts that got a few laughs out of me.


When they take the monk back to the monastery and the younger monk beats the hell out of them because they will not stop talking, I found myself laughing that that. It had a fairly reminiscent feel of the scene in Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe.

I did like how Teddy (Mason Lee) made sure that the monk was ok during the street riot, which stood out to me. Not a funny scene but it was the only connection I had with any of the characters that were of my species.

Stu’s rendition of Billy Joel’s Allentown was good, and it was well done where Alan did not realize how pointed the song was.

Did you see this movie? On purpose?(Gasp)is someone holding you against your will? I want to know if you really liked this film or not. Post your response. Why did you like it or why did you not.