Archive for Marvel

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2021

Posted in Blog Series, Movie Board, movies with tags , , , , on January 14, 2022 by Paxton

Movie Report

2021 continues to be an odd year for movie watching.  I got to go to the theater for a few things, yes, but most of the movies I watched this past year were at home.

Anyway, I keep my list of movies watched (with some small reviews) in two places, similar to my books list.  The first is the usual Google Spreadsheet.  That list is easier to get an overall view of the year and pick out favorite entries because I have it all color coded based on rating and year released.  The other place I keep a list of the movies I watch is over on Letterboxd.  So check me out there.  I’ve been trying to keep up with my reviews on that site much better than I have previously.

So, on to my list.  Rules are like my books, only movies new to me in 2021 are eligible. So in 2021, I was able to see a bunch of “released in 2021” movies.  Not all of them.  Probably less than I really would have liked, but it was a good amount.  So I can go back to the original way I used to present this list, before having to abandon it last year.  So first I’ll do a list of my favorite movies released in 2021.  Then, I think in a separate article, I’ll do a list of my favorite movies I watched for the first time in 2021.  Those can be from any year.  But in this article I’m focusing on 2021 released movies and a few stats from Letterboxd.

So let’s see what my favorite things to watch in 2021 were. And like my books/comics, I’ll give you a “Baker’s Five” (which means 6).

I got most of my images and links from Wikipedia.

Old Henry
Old Henry (2021)
– This movie snuck in at the literal last minute.  I watched it on 12/31/2021.  I had heard a podcaster talk about this for their year end round up, and I was intrigued, so I looked it up.  It sounded interesting, so I watched it.  And WOW.  This movie was fantastic.  An old farmer and his son are living in the Oklahoma territory in the early 1900s when they discover an unconscious man with a saddlebag full of cash.  He claims to be a lawman.  But a group of men show up to the farm asking about the man and they claim to also be the law.  Go in knowing only that much.  I don’t want to give away any of the twists and turns.  Enjoy.  So happy to have a western on the list this year.

The Harder they Fall
The Harder They Fall (2021)
– What’s this?  A *second* western made it on the list this year?  Honestly, a third western could have also made it on the list here but it was made in 2020, not 2021.  Anyway, this western has a dynamite cast with Idris Elba, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, and Lakeith Stanfield.  They are all playing actual historical figures like Stagecoach Mary, Cherokee Bill, Rufus Buck, and Bass Reeves.  It’s a super stylish western, that reminds me of old spaghetti westerns, but it also has a more modern soundtrack with a super eclectic mix of music that sounds like blues, gospel, rock and rap.  It’s a revenge western where Nat Love is after Rufus Buck and his gang for something that happened when he was a kid.  Like I said, very stylish, great dialogue, wonderful cast.  Check it out.

Army of Thieves
Army of Thieves
– This movie is a prequel to Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead.  So I saw that movie last year and didn’t like it.  It was two half baked ideas smashed into one; an okay zombie movie and a not very good heist movie.  So when this came out, I was not interested in a Zack Snyder prequel to Army of the Dead.  AT ALL.  However, then I realized that Zack only produced this.  It’s directed and produced by the movie’s star, Matthias Schweighöfer.  And Schweighöfer’s character, Deiter, is the only one that shows up from the previous movie.  It’s about Deiter’s first heist job that puts him on the path to become the best safe cracker in the world.  Also in this is Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Ramsey in the last few Fast & Furious movies.  This movie was a lot of fun.  It was very stylish.  And most importantly, you don’t need to have seen Army of the Dead to enjoy it.

Shang-Chi
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
– I had a hard time nailing down the final three movies in this list.  Two of them are Marvel movies and one is a DC movie.  But they could have been three others.  But I’m sticking to my guns.  Shang-Chi.  I’ve been a fan of kung fu movies forever.  And comics books.  So I became a fan of Shang-Chi back in junior high when I discovered him in one of those Handbook to the Marvel Universe character guides.  I used to draw pictures of him for extra credit in art class.  Anyway, this movie was simultaneously not what I expected, but almost everything I wanted.  The lead, Simu Liu, is a great Shang-Chi.  I love Awkwafina as his comedic partner.  Michelle Yeoh.  The fight choreography.  The epic storytelling.  Tony Leung as Wenwu.  And Trevor Slattery.  I loved it all.  If I had to nit pick something, it’d be the end.  When the giant CGI dragons come out.  I didn’t need that.  It took focus away from Shang-Chi and his dad.  But again, that’s a nit pick, I loved everything else.

Black Widow
Black Widow
– Here we go, another Marvel movie.  Yes, I am 100% in the bag for most of these movies.  This one is no different.  We finally get the Black Widow movie we should have gotten back after the first Avengers movie in 2012.  I’m sad Hawkeye had virtually no part in this.  However, ScarJo and Florence are amazing as Natasha and Yelena.  We are introduced to Yelena here and if she’s becoming the “new Black Widow”, then I am totally on board.  She is awesome.  I love Rachel Weisz, and she’s pretty good in here.  I’m not a big fan of David Harbour, but he’s actually pretty funny as Alexei.  If I have any problem at all, it’s with how Alexei is written, not Harbour’s performance.  At the beginning of the movie he gives up the two girls to the Red Room too easily. He knows where they are going.  He should have said something. I get it, he’s Russian, he does what his gov’t says.  But he barely looked torn or upset at what was happening.  Just reserved.  Then, when he returns later, the character is all laughs and one-liners and it felt like they were trying to make you forget the fact he gave the girls up to the Red Room in the beginning of the movie.  I really didn’t like that.  But, that’s a small problem in a movie I loved so much else.  I also liked this movie’s version of Taskmaster.  Lots of fun action beats and a good amount of humor, especially between Natasha and Yelena, which is the heart of this movie.

Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad
– I had revolved through several choices for this last pick.  I’m going to go with this for several reasons.  It surprised me.  I saw the first Suicide Squad movie in the theater, and I watched it later on home video.  I liked it in the beginning, but it went WAY off the rails by the middle of the movie.  The Birds of Prey movie I saw on streaming and while it had a few funny moments, it was only ok.  So even though it’s directed by James Gunn, who I mostly like, I was not very interested in this sem-sequel-reboot.  But Michael May assured me it was good, so I gave it a shot.  And he was right, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  Idris Elba is a better version of Will Smith’s Deadshot.  Robbie’s Harley Quinn is awesome as usual.  John Cena’s Peacemaker is really funny.  And Joel Kinnaman’s Flagg is a character I *did not* like in the original movie.  He is *much* better in this movie.  He feels a little more loose, a little more natural of a character.  I actually reallly liked him in this.  So, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this movie and that’s why it made it here.  I’ll definitely give the Peacemaker show a shot.

So that was all movies released in 2021.  Like I mentioned earlier, I’ll do a second part of this list where I talk about movies made before 2021 that I saw for the first time in 2021.

Let’s take a look at some of my movie watching stats from my account over on Letterboxd.

2021 Films by Week

Here is a graph showing how many films I watched broken down by week. The week I watched the most movies was Dec 24-30. I saw 13 movies. Steph and the kids were gone for a few days and I did a Fast & the Furious/Paul Walker marathon.  The second biggest week was Mar 5-11. I was actually at my dad’s that week pretty much by myself. I saw 12 films.  June 11-17 gets third place for most movies watched.  I watched 9 movies that week.  All that led up to me watching 194 movies in 2021.  Which is 16.2 movies per month.  3.7 movies per week.  That’s just 6 away from 200.  SO CLOSE.

2021 Top Actors

Here is the list of actors that I watched the most movies of this year.  Scott Adkins had the most with 12 films. I have been exploring his filmography a lot this year.  He’s quickly become one of my favorite action stars.  In second place, surprisingly, but also not so surprisingly, is Paul Walker. If you look at the rest of the top 10, you will notice a trend. I did a full Fast & Furious rewatch this year; Fast 1 through Fast 9.  And this list clearly reflects that.  But I also went on a small Paul Walker non-F&F marathon, so that’s why he’s second.  Tony Todd snuck in there at the end because I did a full Final Destination marathon as well as watching two of the Candyman movies.  I love this top 10.

2021 Top Directors

This is the top 10 list of directors I watched this year.  Again, Justin Lin is in there because of my F&F rewatch.  Isaac Florentine is tied for first place because he directed 5 of the Scott Adkins movies I watched last year.  And James Wan directed Furious 7 as well as the Conjuring movies, which I watched this year.  It’s really interesting to see how these lists develop based on what you watched over the year.  I did a few full franchise marathons and you’re seeing that reflected in these lists.

According to these stats, the first movie I watched in 2021 was El Dorado on Jan 16.  The last movie I watched in 2021 was Timeline on Dec 31.

Okay, that about wraps up my 2021 movies list.  Stay tuned, I have a second movie list where I’ll go over the movies made before 2021 I watched for the first time last year, maybe I’ll also talk about some of my favorite TV series I watched, as well as some “honorable mentions” articles for books, comics, and movies.

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2020

Posted in Blog Series, Movie Board, movies with tags , , , , , on January 15, 2021 by Paxton

Movie Report

2020 was an odd year for movie viewing, to say the least.  Typcially I would’ve seen nearly 50 movies in the theater.  This past year I think I saw two.  And both of those were old movies; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on 2/16 and The Godfather on 2/23.  The theater by us was going to show all 8 of the Harry Potter movies starting in Dec 2019 through like May 2020.  I was going to take the kids.  Unfortunately I missed the first two movies in December 2019.  But I caught Harry Potter 3 right before the pandemic.  Then everything shut down and I won’t get to complete that marathon with my kids. Which sucks because they really connected with Harry Potter (books and movies) over the quarantine.  It would have been nice to take them to the theater to see them.  Anyway, that’s my 2020 sob story about seeing movies in theaters.

Anyway, I keep my list of movies watched (with some small reviews) in two places, similar to my books list.  The first is the usual Google Spreadsheet.  That list is easier to get an overall view of the year and pick out favorite entries because I have it all color coded based on rating and year released.  The other place I keep a list of the movies I watch is over on Letterboxd.  So check me out there.  Friend me.  I need friends.  I’m lonely.  SO LONELY.

But now, let’s dig into my list.  Rules are like my books, only movies new to me in 2020 are eligible. Normally, I’d start off giving you a list of my favorite “released in 2020” movies. But, surprise, surprise, things being how they are, I didn’t really watch a lot of “2020 movies”.  So I’m going to mix this list up and do ten of my favorite movies that I watched for the first time in 2020.  And they may not all be movies.  I may include mini-series as well.

So let’s see what my favorite things to watch in 2020 were. I got most of my images and links from Wikipedia.

Ip Man 4
Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019)
– I’m going to start with this one because it leads directly into the next one.  I love Donnie Yen.  I think I first noticed him in his all too brief appearance as Snowman in Blade II.  I’ve followed him ever since.  And this Ip Man series has been fantastic.  Yen is just *awesome* as Ip Man.  The first one is still my favorite, followed closely by the second.  The third one is still good, but not one I love.  However, Part 4, is amazing.  It might be my new favorite after the first.  But tied with the second.  And one of the reasons why is the villain, played by Scott Adkins.  He is brutal and amazing in this.  He has such a powerful screen presence.  I’ve only ever seen him in one movie before this and I remember being underwhelmed.  I may have to revisit that movie now because I was wrong.  This is a great capper to the Donnie Yen/Wilson Yip Ip Man series.  And Scott Adkins is now someone that I’m going to dig more deeply into his filmography.


Scott Adkins movies – 2020, for me, has been about watching movies with my dad. Things have been really rough this year for my dad and I’ve been going back to Alabama to help him with medical stuff and to just spend some time with him, which has been in short supply these last few years. Anyway, he and I watched a TON of movies together this summer. I caught up on a lot of stuff I’d never seen before and discovered a lot of new things. One of those things, thanks to Ip Man 4, is Scott Adkins. Now, being an action/martial arts guy, I’d totally heard about Scott Adkins. This guy is a machine and puts out a ton of movies every year. I’d always meant to catch some but never have. So, my dad being a lover of the action genre, was interested in also checking him out. Especially after I spoke so highly about Scott in Ip Man 4.  So we binged like 5 of Scott Adkins’ movies. And they were AWESOME. We watched The Debt Collector, the sequel The Debt Collectors, Avengement, Close Range, and El Gringo.  And Adkins delivers in every one.  Especially the ones where he gets to show a little personality.  Of these, my favorites may have been The Debt Collector, and its sequel, Debt Collectors.  Adkins and Louis Mandelore have such great chemistry and it was fun watching them get in over their heads in the debt collecting business.  Avengement is awesome because it’s brutal.  He starts off a normal guy and SO MANY bad things happen to him he’s pretty much a different person by the end of the movie.  It’s one bad ass revenge flick.  El Gringo felt like a Robert Rodriguez movie.  I mean that in a good way because I’m very hit or miss on Rodriguez’s output.  Oh, one other movie we saw had Akins in it, but it was a surprise.  We also watched American Assassin with Michael Keaton, Dylan O’Brien and a small but important appearance by Scott Adkins.  Very good.

Palm Springs
Palm Springs (2020)
– Time travel. Andy Samberg. JK Simmons. I don’t think I have to say anything else.  I’m a sucker for time travel movies.  Especially if they are doing something creative or different with the idea.  And this definitely does that.  Plus it has classic Andy Samberg and a hilarious appearance by JK Simmons.  This is great.  See it.

The Last Dance
The Last Dance (2020)
– This was a documentary produced by ESPN and Netflix. I’m a huge sucker for 80s-90s NBA stuff. Books, documentaries, game footage. This scratched every single itch I have for that kind of content.  It’s so good.  It mostly covers Jordan’s career and how he approached the game of basketball but it touches on so many other things like competiveness, drive, how much is too much, and what it costs to be the best.

Once upon a time...
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
– I’m always interested in what Tarantino’s next movie is.  Even if it doesn’t look good I’ll check it out.  This one totaly looked good and I finally sat down to watch it.  And loved it.  I love the atmosphere, I love the time period, I love the performances.  Leo and Brad are fantastic.  Margot is great, and beautiful, and plays Tate with surprising sadness.  I really felt for her.  And the ending, in typcial Tarantino fashion, goes bananas.  I loved it.  I’m picking up the novelization that Tarantino is writing later this summer.  What a fun movie.

Ford v Ferrari
Ford v Ferrari (2019)
– I’m not technically a “car guy”. I admire some styles of cars; especially mid-to-late 60s american muscle cars. But this movie caught my eye not because it’s about racing, but because of the cast. Christian Bale and Matt Damon in the 50s-60s tearing up race tracks and taking on the Italians? Yes. I’m on board.  And I loved every second of this movie.  Damon and Bale are fantastic as always and the action was packed.  There was also a surprising amount of humor which I love.  I was interested to see this movie, but I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.

Ready or Not Guns Akimbo
Ready or Not (2019) – I thought the premise of this sounded fun so I streamed it on a lark one night when I had nothing else to watch. And so begins my obsession with Samara Weaving. This move was so fun, but also unexpected at the same time.  Lots of crazy, kooky characters.  And a crazy cool premise.  Samara Weaving finds herself on the run from her new husband’s family in a series of deadly games due to a curse that they believe was put on their family.  It’s so much fun and Weaving is pretty great.  After watching Ready or Not, I jumped into another Samara Weaving movie, Guns Akimbo.  Which is even more crazy and over the top.  Guns Akimbo also has Daniel Radcliffe who is forced into a weird viral game against other crazy characters to kill each other.  Samara Weaving plays the top bad ass character and she’s so awesome.  Both of these movies are pretty over the top but in kind of the best way possible.

We also wound up binging a bunch of TV shows in 2020. So here are three shows we loved watching in 2020.

The Great
The Great
– I heard buzz about this, but I saw it as something like that dreamy and weird Marie Antoinette movie from 2006, which my wife loved.  And I didn’t.  Therefore I didn’t want to watch it.  However, being a good husband, I gave it a chance.  And I was wrong.  SO WRONG.  This is a period piece.  Yes.  But it has more akin to A Knight’s Tale than Marie Antoinette.  It weaves in so much grown up humor, lots of sex, lots of language, and backs it all with a modern music soundtrack.  People like to throw around irreverant, but considering that this movie is ostensibly about Catherine the Great’s rise to power in Russia, it is absolutely irreverent.  And doesn’t care one bit about the actual history (which sounds worse than it actually comes across).  Elle Fanning is amazing in this.  Nicolas Hoult as Peter is so awesome.  This surprised me to my core.  I loved it.


11.22.63
– My wife and I read the Stephen King book back in 2012. And it made my 2012 year end favorites list.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Time Travel.  I’m a sucker for it.  But this series is really good.  James Franco discovers a time warp in the back of a diner that leads to the early 60s.  There are a whole bunch of rules to how it works but he agrees to a plan with the diner’s dying owner to go back in the time warp and try to stop the assassination of John F Kennedy.  But to do that he’ll have to survive and live for two years in the past.  And during those two years while he’ll be preparing to stop the assassination, time itself will do everything it can to stop him.  It’s a cool premise.  Great cast.  And loaded with suspense.  Just like the book.

Queen's Gambit
Queen’s Gambit
– Like The Great, this was another series I’d heard buzz about but wasn’t necessarily excited to start watching.  But again, I was wrong.  The cast in this is so strong.  Ana Taylor-Joy?  Are you kiddding me?  She’s awesome.  Set mostly in the 60s, it centers on Ana Taylor-Joy’s character who turns out to be a chess prodigy.  And in the 60s, chess was not considered a girl’s game.  But Ana Taylor-Joy has a few issues, mostly due to her unideal home life.  And it manifests in drinking.  And pills.  Can she maintain her high level of chess play while shoving booze and fistfuls of pills into her mouth?  Watch to find out.  If I was pressed really hard, I may even say that this was my favorite thing I watched this year.  But only if I was pressed.

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2019

Posted in Blog Series, Movie Board, movies with tags , , , , , on January 10, 2020 by Paxton

Movie Report

Yesterday, you saw my favorite books/comics I read in 2019 list.  Had lots of fun with it?  You agree with everything I put on the list?  Tough.  It’s my list, sucka!  And now it’s time for another list.  This time we are looking at my favorite movies list.

I keep a list of the movies I watched with some small reviews in two places, similar to my books list.  The first is the usual Google Spreadsheet.  That list is easier to get an overall view of the year and pick out favorite entries because I have it all color coded based on rating and year released.  The other place I keep a list of the movies I watch is over on Letterboxd.  So check me out there.  Friend me.  I need friends.  I’m lonely.  SO LONELY.

Anyway, I think it’s time to dig into my list.  Rules, like my books, only movies new to me in 2019 are eligible. I’ll start with my list of favorite movies released in 2019, then I’ll do a list of favorite movies I watched in 2019 that weren’t necessarily released that year.

But first, my favorite movies that were released in 2019


Avengers: Endgame (2019) – I started off last year’s list with Infinity War, so I’ll start of this list with the sequel. Again, what else can I say? This wrapped up the first 10 years of the MCU in a nice, tight, little bow.  I loved it.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – Yikes.  Well, I don’t think Star Wars will ever *not* be divisive again.  This movie had the unenviable task of not only following The Last Jedi (good or bad), but also fully wrapping up the Skywalker saga.  I don’t know that *any* movie could live up to that pressure.  I had fun with this.  They made a few decisions that I don’t necessarily agree with, but for the most part I had a lot of fun with the movie.  It felt good to have fun-loving Finn and Poe again.  They were not themselves in the previous movie.  And I again love Rey and Kylo and their whole relationship.  I’m *mostly* happy with how this went down.


Knives Out (2019) – I loved this movie.  It’s like a more quirky Clue the Movie mixed with Kurosawa’s Rashomon.  Great cast and everyone is bringing their A-game.  Lots of fun and the mystery is good too.


Happy Death Day (2017)/ Happy Death Day 2U (2019) – The second movie was released in 2019, so that’s why this entry is here.  I kept hearing how good the first movie was, and by the time I sat down to watch it the sequel had come out.  So I watched both, back to back, in 2019.  And I was pleasantly surprised how good these movies are.  The first one is like a horror movie Groundhog Day.  It’s very inventive and fun.  The second movie, is not really even a horror movie.  It’s a Sci-Fi fantasy adventure.  And you wouldn’t think that would work *at all* but it totally works.  I really enjoyed both of these movies.


Downton Abbey the Motion Picture (2019) – I’m a sucker for this show, so, I was a sucker for this movie.  I loved returning to this world, I loved revisiting these characters, I loved this movie.


Always be My Maybe (2019) – So. Much. Fun.  The leads in this are adorable.  I love the music Marcus makes with his band.  Keanu Reeves makes a scene stealing cameo that I just loved.  This is a great movie.  See it if you haven’t.

And now, movies from any year that I watched for the first time in 2019


Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018) – How great was this movie?  I didn’t get to see this in the theater, but I’d heard from everyone how good it was, so I rented it.  And everyone was right.  This gets it all right.  Miles is great.  I love the other versions of Spider-Man that show up.  Penny Parker in particular.  It’s really so good.  And the animation is terrific.


Upgrade (2018) – I expected this movie to be sort of a low-key update to the Bionic Man.  It’s not that.  It goes a different direction and I applaud the movie for going there.  It’s dark and intense, but I really liked it.  I’m not going to say much more than that except, give it a watch.


Staten Island Summer (2015) – I saw this while scrolling around on Netflix one afternoon and watched it on a lark.  And wow, it’s really good.  It’s one of those “one last summer before college” movies.  It just hit every single nostalgia button for me.  It takes place in and around a community swimming pool, which, when I was in high school, I worked three summers as a lifeguard at one such pool.  It’s a sweet, fun movie about friendship and moving on to the next step in your life.  This was such a fun surprise, check it out.


Uncle Drew (2018) – I love ragtag basketball movies.  This one has a great cast, it’s lots of fun, and it’s really funny!  I almost didn’t watch it because, while I thought it looked good, I was afraid they showed all the funny stuff in the trailer.  Nope, this is a solid roadtrip/basketball movie with some heart thrown into the story.

Those those were my overall favorite movies I watched in 2019.  Hopefully you can find some gems in this list.

Next week, I’ll put out some Honorable Mentions of things I thought were worth talking about, but not necessarily “listworthy”.

Countdown to Avengers 3: Thor Ragnarok review

Posted in comic books, movies with tags , , , on April 19, 2018 by Paxton

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. And here we are, along with Robert from To the Escape Hatch and CT on Nerd Lunch doing a third “Countdown to Avengers” series. AND, we are joined by a new blogger, Jay from Life vs. Film. You can check out the start of this series with Robert’s post about Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Robert, Jay, CT and I are all splitting the films up in anticipation of May’s Avengers: Infinity War. With this film and next year’s Avengers 4, the expectation is that we will be done on some level with this iteration of the MCU.  But I doubt it’ll go away completely. If you want to check out my last review in this series, it was for Captain America: Civil War. Now, let’s turn to my next review, Thor Ragnarok.

Like last time, let’s start off with my quick takes on the first two Thor movies.  First off, I read comics in the 80s and 90s.  I never really liked Thor as a character.  He just never honestly seemed to click with me.  That being said, I really like that first movie.  There’s not really a lot going on, but Hemsworth is great as Thor.  Hiddlesworth is good as Loki (he doesn’t become *great* until Avengers).  Portman is good as Jane and Kat Dennings is almost a show stealer as Darcy.  It’s fun to see Hemsworth playing “fish out of water” on Earth but we get precious little of Asgard.  The movie is mostly enjoyable and a good intro to MCU Thor.  If nothing else, the movie got me reading the Thor comics right about the time Jason Aaron started writing them and *that* has made me a huge fan of Thor.  Check out my full review of Thor for the very first Countdown to Avengers back in 2012.

thor_movies

Thor: The Dark World has its flaws.  It tries to do too much and in the process squanders one of Thor’s best villains, Malekith the Accursed.  Hemsworth is still great as Thor.  We see Hiddleston in his post-Avengers awesomeness.  Portman is a problem and obviously doesn’t really even want to be there.  Kat Dennings brings more Darcy and she’s a delight.  There’s a lot more humor in this movie than I remember whenever I see it, but ultimately the movie is cluttered, hard to follow and doesn’t really seem to go anywhere.  So while I was okay with the Thor movies they had put out so far, I was ready for them to try something new.  This Thor has lots of potential as he’s great in the team up movies, but his solo efforts have been only okay.

When announcements started coming out about Thor Raganarok it was clear they were going in a different direction.  A New Zealand director, Cate Blanchett as the villain, a bright color palate and a humorous tone that seemed to have been clearly inspired by the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.  I was okay with all of this.  Chris Hemsworth has proven he can be funny.  He has the timing.  And Thor can be funny.  The aforementioned Jason Aaron’s run on Thor is infused with lots of humor and takes Thor in a more cosmic direction which it looks like this movie wants to do.  So I was all on board with what they were trying to do.  And that first trailer just ROCKED.

thor-ragnarok-3

The movie 100% delivers.  They *nailed* the tone perfectly for me.  I know many people said there was too much humor, but I don’t agree.  The humor was great and *everyone* got to have their moments.  Not just Thor.  Hulk was funny, Valkyrie, Loki, hell, a brand new character, Korg, practically stole the movie.  I loved every bit of this lightened up Thor.

Loki returns and is awesome once again.  We even get some really nice scenes between on screen brothers, Thor and Loki.  Hemsworth and Hiddleston really work well together.  I’ll be sad if/when this particular pairing ends.

What about the big bad, Hela?  She is as awesome as I wanted her to be.  Cate is the best anyway, so to see her really chew up the scenery here I loved it.  Actually, I could have done with *more* Hela.  Like, this movie maybe could have been split into two movies, with the Grandmaster/Hulk parts in one movie and the Hela parts in another.  But that’s a minor quibble.  We get so much awesomeness throughout this movie….The Grandmaster!  What can I say about how awesomely weird Jeff Goldblum is as Grandmaster?  So good.  And I like *this* Hulk.  He can talk and have a bit of a conversation.  And he’s funny.  I can’t say enough how on point I think the tone of this movie was.  I think I liked it better than the Guardians movies.

Wrapping up the movie, we see the Asgardians leaving to start New Asgard.  Thor is king and ready to lead his people, sans hammer.  I’m hoping we get to see Thor wield his battle axe, Jarnbjorn, in Infinity War.  Even if only for a little bit.  Loki has made off with the cosmic cube again and it looks like Thor may be the first hero to actually have an interaction with Thanos, or Thanos’ people.  I can’t wait to see this Thor meet up with the Guardians.  So much fun potential coming up in Infinity War.  I can’t wait.

But I’m not the only one who had thoughts on this movie. Here are some quick thoughts from CT:

This movie was for Thor and Hulk what Civil War was for the rest of the MCU characters (sans GotG). It further alters the status quo and makes big shocking changes for Thor that will have to affect him in some way moving forward.

If this movie did anything wrong, it was how it wiped out the Warriors Three so effortlessly. It would have been nice to see them get a few more moments to shine. Hopefully Lady Sif’s absence means she’s still out there able to play a role in a future MCU installment someday.

Hulk finally advances to a level I’ve always wanted to see on screen–that of the talking brute who doesn’t want to become Banner. The TV show and previous movies have made a point of playing up that Banner doesn’t want to be the Hulk, but until now, we’ve really not seen that Hulk doesn’t want to be Banner.

Loki promises to be a big player in Infinity War having clearly saved the Cosmic Cube. This movie ends with a clear set up for an early encounter between Thanos and New Asgard. Hopefully these refugees don’t have worse luck after this meeting with the Mad Titan.

Countdown to Avengers 3: Captain America: Civil War review

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on April 6, 2018 by Paxton

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. And here we are, along with Robert from To the Escape Hatch and CT on Nerd Lunch doing a third “Countdown to Avengers” series. AND, we are joined by a new blogger, Jay from Life vs. Film. You can check out the start of this series with Robert’s post about Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Robert, Jay, CT and I are all splitting the films up in anticipation of May’s Avengers: Infinity War. With this film and next year’s Avengers 4, the expectation is that we will be done on some level with this iteration of the MCU.  But I doubt it’ll go away completely.

For now, let’s talk about what I came here to talk about…Captain America: Civil War.

Quickly, before we start, my hot take on the first two Captain America movies. The first one is a good, but not outstanding origin movie with lots of great performances including Evans, Atwell, and Weaving. I liked the movie more than I expected and I liked Chris Evans as Cap a *lot* more than I expected. Winter Soldier was a game changer not only for the MCU but for this version of Cap as well. We see Cap in a modern movie kicking all kinds of ass and being awesome. We also get the introduction of two more awesome characters in the Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson, aka Falcon. And while the movie is a great action movie, the political intrigue subplot is well played out as well. The Winter Soldier movie was an eye opener and made Chris Evans’ Cap my new favorite MCU hero over Iron Man.

Fast forward to Civil War. Some may even call it Avengers 2.5. The Avengers taking sides over the fate of Winter Soldier. The first appearance of several new characters. I was pretty excited to see it going into it. And it more than delivers. As these movies have gone on, especially the Avengers movies, I think one of my favorite parts are the cold openings. Usually we see the group in the middle of some mission, working together, bantering, being “The Avengers”. The teamwork and dialogue in these scenes are so fun and I love it. Civil War doesn’t disappoint. It opens with the current Avengers, plus Wanda and minus Tony, in Lagos trying to stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon. We get to see everyone in action, Falcon has Red Wing who gets to shine in battle. Lots of really fun stuff here. Then the drama starts with the thrust of the plot and the entrance (and return!) of General Thunderbolt Ross (shout out to The Incredible Hulk movie!).

The crux of the plot makes sense.  Honestly, even the split of the heroes makes sense to me, each hero going where their natural proclivities lie.  I love the return of Clint.  I know his character gets a lot of crap from fans, but you know what, I like Renner and I like his portrayal of Hawkeye.  How we haven’t gotten a Black Widow/Hawkeye team up movie is beyond me.  We also get the appearance of Scott Lang from Ant-Man (which CT reviewed a little while ago) and he’s great in several *almost* show stealing scenes (Giant Man!).  They continue to build out Winter Soldier’s character.  He gets better and more interesting every single movie he’s in.  And if I don’t get a Winter Soldier/Falcon buddy movie at some point, we will have words, Marvel.

There’s so much to unpack I’m not sure where I want to go next. How about the debut of Black Panther? I’ve read comics since the mid-80s, I’ve never really read Black Panther but this particular iteration of him made me a fan and the Black Panther solo movie further cemented that. The debut of the new Spider-Man? Amazing (pun intended). Tom Holland *nails* Peter Parker. And he *nails* Spider-Man in the suit. Again, the Spider-Man solo movie cemented *that* even further. There’s not much I don’t really like about this movie. The action set pieces are drop dead gorgeous. When Cap goes to confront Bucky while special forces are busting down the door to his apartment…fantastic. Perfectly staged. And the Berlin airport sequence? I don’t need to expend any more words describing how awesome that whole sequence is.

So I said there isn’t really anything I don’t like about this movie.  Let me amend that a bit.  I feel like, and this has been a progression since Iron Man 2, Tony Stark is more and more becoming a crazy asshole.  I mean, I know he was always an asshole but his heart was in the right place and he was still lovable.  Continuing that progression here, he seems to go off the deep end a bit with these Sekovia Accords.  He acts like if the team had been under oversight from the beginning, then the people who died in New York, Sekovia and Lagos would have been saved.  Like, if the UN had oversight over the Avengers, then that kid building sustainable housing in Sekovia (Alfre Woodard’s son) during the Ultron incident wouldn’t have died.  I posit that if the UN had been involved that not only would he most likely still have died, probably millions more would have died as well.  But I also get this progression as ever since New York, Tony has been on edge with PTSD, then he created Ultron, causing all that death and destruction.  I totally get why he’s overcorrecting here.  But it just makes me love it more when he goes to Russia to bury the hatchet with Cap, and then it completely breaks my heart when he sees the video of his parents getting killed and it starts all over.  Such a powerful ending to this movie that I really hope when we get to the next Avengers movie that these issues are addressed in some form.  I don’t want these things to be brushed aside easily.  They really need to address the ending of this movie HARD (they don’t at all in Spider-Man: Homecoming or Black Panther).

So, as it stands, this is very nearly my favorite MCU movie to date.  And that’s a loaded statement because this movie lives on the backs of almost the entire 10 years of history of the MCU to date.  But that’s what makes it so special.

But I wasn’t the only one with thoughts on this movie, here are some final thoughts by CT:

That 14 minute airport fight was something I had waited my entire life to see. Super heroes are notorious for fighting amongst themselves in the comics. And we got a few seconds of an Iron vs. Thor battle in the first Avengers, but here we have two teams, each at “Avengers-level,” facing off. Not only that, to see Giant-Man make his debut here was a nice added touch.
 
While I’m “Team Cap,” if it were real life, I think I’d be Team Stark. The beauty of this movie is the debate between the two is one worth having. The downfall is that the discourse breaks down quickly and devolves into fighting. Hey! Just like the internet!
 
It was also great to see William Hurt’s Ross again which again confirms the Ed Norton movie is a part of this. A fact that some Marvel fans need to be reminded of. Yes, it would have been great to have Ruffalo retroactively in that film, but recasting is a part of life (see also War Machine).
 
This is an MCU-changing film drastically affecting the status quo and leaving things in an interesting place for Infinity War. The family has been shattered. Now they have to work past everything again to take on Thanos.