Captain America The Winter Soldier: If A Government Agency Wants The Ability To Kill Anyone Anywhere Generally They Are Evil.

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Captain America, Chris Evans, is forced to question what and who he is fighting for, when Shield, the government agency he has been fighting for turns out to be overrun with nefarious forces hellbent on world domination.

Until Antman and the Wasp came out this was my favourite MCU film. I watched it several times when it first came out, but this is my first time rewatching it since. Whilst I still think this is one of the best films in the MCU, I can see that there are issues with it that I didn’t see the first time around namely the pacing.

I enjoyed the deeply personal feel of the film, and the great character work between Cap and those around him. I think the character interactions are at their strongest with Cap and Scarlett Johannsson’s Black Widow, with this really being the film for me where she really came into the character and established a firm presence within the MCU. Moreover, I like the set up and building friendship between Cap and Sam Wilson, Anthony Mackie. Evans and Mackie have strong chemistry together and this makes for a number of strong humorous scenes.

I thought the Hydra twist worked really well and is an excellent choice to reset the MCU status quo. Moreover, the return of Bucky, Sebastian Stan, now as a villain is a stroke of genius as it furthers the emotional and moral burden on Caps shoulders. Even when first watching I knew the film was going to bring back Bucky as I was familiar with the character from the comics, however for those who are not familiar with the source material this would have been quite a surprising reveal I am sure.

Chris Evans performance as Cap is even better than it was in the first film, and that is saying something. He plays the do-gooder who no longer knows how to do good so well, and I enjoy the morality of the character and his decisions this time around. I think Evan’s performance emotes this split in the character, and he does a lot without saying very much at all. Certainly one of the best performances in the MCU.

Overall, a strong MCU film that has a few slow scenes but on the whole manages to be one of the best films in the MCU.

Pros.

Evans

Johansson

The twist

The Winter Soldier

Cons.

The pacing is off    

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The Avengers: The Film That Changed Hollywood

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The phase one heroes finally assemble, and we get to see the birth of the Avengers.

Rewatching this now, all these years later the magic is still there. There is just something about seeing all these heroes interacting on screen for the first time that just resonates no matter how many times you have seen it. Each character and even the main supporting characters are all given their moment and it truly does feel like an ensemble, a team building activity.

The reason I didn’t give this a five as you might have expected me to, is because of Loki and the strange characterisation he is given. Up until this point the only other time we have seen the character is in Thor, so that is what I will judge him off, in that film he is villainous sure, but he is also redeemable and remorseful by the end, he is more along the antihero line. Here however, he is uncharacteristically evil, wanting to ‘crush the ants’ and basically make humans a slave race, and yes you could say it was Thanos messing with his head or the mind stone, but to me it seems like bad writing. Maybe originally a different villain was supposed to be used here, one that would make more sense as being a purely evil character and he was rewritten to be Loki as the character proved popular. A few comedic scenes thrown in here and there can’t distract from the noticeable change.

I think my personal favourite thing about this film is Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson. Coulson was always there is the background in most of the early films and yes here and there he got a witty one liner or had a memorable moment, but it was not until this film that he really came into his own as a character. He is the heart and soul of this film, and the choice to have him die here is simply a master stroke as it ends up with you feeling the same way the characters do which helps you to connect with them more and give greater meaning to the Avengers forming. Moreover, as a moment it is surprising as you quickly learn just how much you care about this fairly average background character.

Overall, a film that doesn’t nearly everything right.

Pros.

The character work

The set up

The character interactions

The final battle

The humour

Cons.

Loki

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Captain America The First Avenger: Lying On Top Of Grenades

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Little guy Steve Rogers, Chris Evans, is given a super soldier serum because he is pure of heart, once this happens he is sent over seas to be the US poster boy for the Western Front conflict.

I the Captain America movies are always the best or amongst the top tier of any MCU phase, certainly this is true of phase one of the MCU. What I enjoy the most about this film is the earnestness of Evan’s performance, you buy him as this guy who has been picked on all his life but who never gives in and who always stands up for what he believes in. Moreover, what separates Captain America from someone like Iron Man is the fact that he wholly just a good person that tries to see the best in people, whereas Iron Man is the loveable rouge, which can be grating.

I think of Phase one the Red Skull is easily the best villain; it is a real loss that Hugo Weaving does not want to come back. Weaving brings a lot to the role, he plays evil well whether it is through facial acting, subtle mannerism or line delivery. I thought his character was just as menacing before he took his face off and that is all on Weaving.

Furthermore, I liked seeing the formation of an early Shield team. I thought Hayley Atwell was superb as Agent Carter, I am glad that What If is bringing the character back there is a lot more there to explore and the series didn’t do her justice- though that is more the fault of the cancelation than anything else. Moreover, I thought Dominic Cooper was a strong Howard Stark, who I liked more than the other version we get. Additionally if you’re reading Disney executives you should make a young Howard Stark show with Dominic Copper back in the role, it would be fantastic to see him in the war setting and during the cold war, you could have him age into the later version of the character.

Overall, the best of the origin movies.

Pros.

Chris Evans

The likeability

Hayley Atwell

Dominic Cooper  

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Iron Man 2: Poison In The Heart

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr, has to answer the sins of his father and hold off the US Government from stealing his property.

So to many this is one of the worst films in the MCU, however, I enjoy it. I enjoyed it when I first watched it in cinemas, I enjoyed it when I first watched the DVD and I enjoyed it when I rewatched it recently. There are a plethora of reasons for this.

Unlike a lot of people I actually find Mikey Rourke’s Whiplash to be an interesting villain and Sam Rockwell is a lot of fun as Tony’s jealous rival. Are they the best written of all the MCU villains? No of course not, but I enjoyed Rourke’s cartoonish evil performance, and Rockwell’s pathetic yet trying to pretend not to be character. I found both amusing.

Moreover, I really like what they do with Rhodey, Don Cheadle, here. I am a big War Machine fan and I like when they have the final showdown with the two of them just going to town on all those drones. I think across the tapestry of the MCU Rhodey has been deprived of anything even close to a cool moment, and this is as good as it gets for him. I thought the final scene of Tony, Rhodey and Pepper, Gwyneth Paltrow, on the roof together was hilarious and a good indication of things to come.

However, something that does become more uncomfortably apparent when rewatching is just how much of a creep Tony Stark is. As a kid watching these films in the cinema Tony was my favourite character but watching them again now you notice how he is around women. Not only is he a misogynist, but he also literally only sees the women around him as sexual objects, for an example of what I am talking about one simply has to look at how he treats Natasha Romanoff, Scarlett Johansson, when they first meet, and he thinks she is just one of his employees. He is a creep.

Overall, I like it a lot more than a lot of other people, but I can see its flaws.

Pros.

Rhodey

The final fight

The roof top scene

Cons.

Tony is a creep

How they introduce Black Widow  

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Guardians Of The Galaxy: The Quest For The Ultimate Mix Tape

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Peter Quill, Chris Pratt, is abducted as a child and taken into space. Years later he has become a rogue of the galaxy going by the name Star Lord, this all changes when his quest for an infinity stone brings him into contact with a group of people who would go on to become his family.

I think the often complained about, even by myself, Marvel sense of humour really helps these films on a rewatch. This is my first time rewatching Guardians Of The Galaxy since I first saw it in the cinema all those years ago, and you know what it actually holds up fairly well.

I think the strongest element of the film is certainly the family dynamic between the characters with each having key emotional moments along the way that really help to open them up as characters and help us the audience relate to them. Each character is loveable in their own way, each has the potential to easily be someone’s favourite.

Sadly however, the same can’t be said for the films antagonists who are left fairly cookie cutter generic. I don’t think anyone will ever say that Ronan is their favourite Marvel villain because he just has no personality beyond being evil and wanting to commit genocide. The oversimplification of the villain’s motivations really is the issue here and with a lot of early Marvel films. To have an interesting film you need an interesting and compelling villain.

The jokes I thought worked mostly well here, though I would say the film isn’t as funny as something like Antman, certainly there were more misses here and a few scenes that should have been played for laughs really weren’t.

Overall, a good Marvel film though one let down my a poor villain and not always hilarious jokes.

Pros.

The emotion

The family dynamic

Yondu

The soundtrack

Cons.

A weak villain

Inconsistent jokes

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Batman The Long Halloween Part Two: DC Animations Best In Years

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Part Two finally brings to light the identity of the Holiday Killer, as well as seeing many of Batman’s most well known villains take to the streets of Gotham to wage war on the Falcone crime family.

This is the best thing out of DC animation in a while, a long, long while. By this I mean both parts of The Long Halloween viewed as one complete piece, but still on merit this is a strong second half. Not only is it a compelling mystery that gives us quality time with almost all of Batman’s rogues gallery, but it is also a surprisingly strong crime film.

I enjoyed the world set up by this film. I thought it made several changes to the source material and comics cannon that work well in this new context and serve to better the film. The films make the Falcone’s so interesting that you are almost sorry they didn’t split the graphic novel into three films, so you get to spend more time with them.

Furthermore I enjoyed the animation style and thought it looked just enough like the classic cartoons of my youth to be fondly remembered whilst also having more than a little clear anime inspiration. Both elements work well together and create for an animated feature that is a delight to watch.

My one slight criticism of this film would be that Batman gets beaten a lot. Now this might be my own fault for not knowing the timeline, but surely this happens after Year One, so it makes little sense to have a Batman that is clearly still very green in a lot of ways. Batman gets beaten by almost every villain in this film and yes I get that the film is trying to show us an inexperienced Batman but instead he comes off as almost out of his depth.

Overall, one of the best DC animated films in years.

Pros.

The animation

The world

The character development of the Falcone family

The story itself

Cons.

Batman is a little too easily beaten

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Thor: Natalie Portman’s Second On Screen Stilted Relationship

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I am seemingly one of the few people that actually seem to like the first Thor film. I don’t mind the Shakespeare esque dialogue, or the forced romance between Hemsworth and Portman where both look like they hate each other; instead I actually enjoy it.

Firstly yes it is widely known and widely mocked that the chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman was not there during this film, however, I actually quite like them together on screen as a pair I think they work well together and could have been a lot more. Maybe Thor 4 can fix it.

I also think though not as zany as in his more recent appearances Thor is still a very likeable lead character and Hemsworth is very charismatic. I like the unworthy arc and the fish out of water style comedy, both work for me. Moreover, I appreciate the family drama between Thor, Odin and Loki I think it works well and makes for one of the best endings in the MCU. Try and tell me watching Loki float away into the void didn’t make you sad.

I also think that Lady Sif and the Warriors Three have huge potential in this film, sadly Marvel seems content on doing nothing with them. What a waste.

Overall, one of the better early MCU films that often gets overlooked in favor of Ragnarök and though I love Taika Waititi as much as the next guy, this film has a lot of stuff going for it as well.

Pros.

Hemsworth

Portman

Sif and The Warriors Three

Cons.

Darcy

A slow start

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Spider-Man 3: Emo Spider-Man Is Back

Spider-Man 3

3/5

Many people view this film as somewhat of a joke, the black sheep of the Spider-Man film family, if you ignore the Amazing Spider-Man sequel. I think the reason why this film is still so sore to so many people is because of just how disappointing it is, and just how badly it managed to screw up classic Spider-Man characters.

Now I don’t mind emo Spider-Man and I actually think the storyline gets a lot more hate than it deserves, is it bizarre? Yes, but is it also hilarious? Yes again. I even give this film a pass for the Sandman Uncle Ben plot because I think in the end the arc works and is actually quite powerful. However, it is Venom where this film really puts its foot in its mouth.

I won’t say the standard line about this film though it is true, the number of villains in this film is one of the main reasons it doesn’t work. If they had focused on one villain and had another a minor or sub antagonist then it could have worked, but this felt far too crammed together and like a desperate attempt by Sony to set up the Sinister Six.

In all honesty I can’t take this film seriously, and if I were to it would get a lower mark than it has, viewing it as a goofy almost comedic take on a serious superhero blockbuster is the only way I can enjoy this film.

Overall, perhaps given an unfairly bad rap, but at the same time ruined by corporate greed and iffy story telling decisions.

Pros.

The comedy

Sandman

The ending

Cons.

Too many villains

They get Venom so very wrong

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Justice Society World War II: I Think I Feel Asleep During This

Justice Society World War II

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

These days I am finding that a lot of the animated DC output is trapped in the meh zone, by that I mean it all just feels generic and samey, there is nothing to set one film apart from another. I used to love animated DC films when I was a kid, but recently I have been sorely disappointed, and this proves no exception.

None of the characters in this film felt likeable to me, and that is surprising considering that it is hard to make beloved superheroes unlikeable, yet they manage to find a way. The characters in this film range from boring and dull, to outright annoying.

The story feels uninspired also, are we not over the whole superheroes in history fad yet? Did Legends Of Tomorrow not entirely use up all the good ideas with the concept? Moreover, I felt myself getting so bored with this that my mind was starting to wander, and I was having a hard time paying attention.

Finally there are pacing issues galore here as well.

Overall, very meh, maybe if you were a DC diehard you might find something to enjoy here, but probably not.

Pros.

Matt Boomer is trying

Every scene with President Roosevelt

Cons.

The characters aren’t likeable

The premise is nothing we haven’t seen before

The animation feels samey

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Spider-Man Homecoming: Iron Man Jr?

Spider-Man Homecoming  

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This will be a review that a lot of you disagree with, but ah well let’s get into it.

Recently I have been on somewhat of a Spider-Man kick and have been watching, playing and reading a lot of related things, in that effort I rewatched Homecoming again, having not seen it since I first watched it in cinemas, and it doesn’t really hold up.

The main pro I will say for this film is the twist, when Michael Keaton’s Adrian Tombs reveals that he knows Peter’s secret it is impactful and is genuinely surprising. I take my hat off to the MCU for being able to bury the lead to the point where I did not see it coming.

Also John Favreau’s Happy Hogan is a delight.

Now to get into all the reasons why I think this is a weak film, especially within the widely strong landscape of the MCU- justification incoming.

Firstly, the focus on Damage Control is odd, yes it is only a minor thing that was supposed to develop out into a TV series, that may or may not be happening now, but seeing it feature in the film felt oddly jarring to me.

 Moreover, this film being in the MCU doesn’t actually help it, though most wont want to admit it, because they want Spider-Man and the Avengers to be together, having this film be in the MCU keeps it from really having an identity of its own. By that I mean rather than have this film focus on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man being Spider-Man, the film instead decides to spend most of its time focusing on him and Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark as a sort of father son comedy duo. Now I can understand why they did this from a business side of things, but it makes this film feel like less of a Spider-Man film and almost side lines the character within his own film, this has gone on to create the Iron Man Jr argument with regards to the character of Spider-Man

Adding to this, the film feels overstuffed with characters, not only do you have Peter and his high school friends, and family you also now because it is in the MCU have to have cameos from Avengers and other in universe characters which leads to the film feeling bloated and again not like a Spider-Man film.

Finally, in perhaps my most divisive statement in this whole review, I don’t like Tom Holland as Peter Parker, I understand this is a younger version of the character, but he feels too much like a goodie, goodie boy scout character, with the grit and tragic darkness that make up the character in the comics being gone. This blends into the MCU’s wider issue of favouring humour over everything else, and it feels like a watering down of the character. Garfield and McGuire were both better in the role.

Pros.

Happy Hogan

The twist

Cons.

Iron Man Jr

Too many characters

Tom Holland    

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