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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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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The Suicide Squad: Rats Save The Day

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Taskforce X are back with another suicide mission to shave some time off their prison sentences, this time looking to destroy a research project being conducted by a non US friendly Southern American Country.

Some out there on the internet are trying to create a moral outcry about this film, whilst others are loving it, so, where do I fall? Closer to the latter but with notes.

Firstly and lets just get this out of the way, this is not a family film, this is not a film you can watch at a family party or all gathered round the TV; the age rating really should have given that away. Many people online seem shocked by what they are hearing about the content in this film, and clearly they have never red a Suicide Squad comic book in their lives.

Yes, this film is very true to the comics featuring all the death, gore and general unpleasantness that you would expect. However, in my mind it does go too far but only in one respect: that is of course the birds. This film does not like birds, in the opening scene we see one mashed with a ball and then later on we see a bunch of them set on fire, now obviously this is all fake, but still as someone who likes animals this was a little uncomfortable to watch and I felt like the film lingered on it for a bit too long each time.

In terms of characters Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2 was my favourite, I thought she perfectly embodied the hopeful silliness of the film down to the bone. Moreover, I liked the relationship between her and Idris Elba’s Bloodsport. I thought the surrogate father daughter dynamic worked well and helped to push both of their character arcs along nicely. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is better here, and less obnoxiously all over the place as she was in Birds Of Prey, I do think Harley works best as part of a team, rather than being the centre of basically a solo film.

Overall, a good film and certainly one of DC’s best, it would have been getting five from me if it weren’t for the birds; but that is a personal thing to me.

Pros.

Melchior

The jokes

The character moments/ growth

The violence

Cons.

I don’t like seeing a bird mushed by a ball and then having the shot linger on it

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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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My Super Ex Girlfriend: Deeply Sexist Hollywood

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Unassuming office worker Matt Saunders, Luke Wilson, begins a relationship with Jennifer Johnson, Uma Thurman, who would later turn out to be a superhero. All seems to be going well at first and then the two suffer a bad breakup.

This film hates women. Maybe that is a touch hyperbolic but there is more than enough proof to demonstrate this film’s negative opinion of women. Firstly, the lead is crazy and becomes aggressive and manic when she feels jealous of another women, which feels sexist to its core. It furthers the idea of the hysterical woman who is controlled by her emotions and who needs a man to keep her in check.

Moreover, there is a plethora of sexist jokes coming in from the supporting cast with Rainn Wilson’s Vaughn, being perhaps one of the sleaziest side characters ever and worst of all we are still supposed to like him despite the fact he only views women as sexual objects to use for this own pleasure.

Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson are fun to watch on screen and do have the odd funny line or smile inducing moment hence this film not getting lower, but that does not make up for the fact that this film is sexist in nearly every possible way, deeply and utterly.

Overall, proof of how bad the studio comedy can be when it is not worried of being called out online.

Pros.

Thurman

Wilson

Cons.

It is sexist

It pushes harmful stereotypes

The side characters are toxic as hell

The film’s jokes mostly don’t work

It is offensive  

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Ant-Man: The Hero Who Turned Thomas The Tank Engine Into A Weapon

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Cat Burglar Scott Lang, Paul Rudd, has his life change in ways he would never expect when he steals a suit that allows him to shrink down to the size of an ant on one of his jobs.

When I first watched this in cinemas years ago, I remember being unimpressed. This feeling is reflected on my ranking lists for best films of the MCU with this film always coming near the end. However, the other night I decided to give it another go to see if it was as lacklustre as I remember it being, and I found myself feeling entirely changed on it. I like this film a lot more now, it is no Ant-Man and the Wasp, which is one of my all-time favourite Marvel films, but it is good all the same.

I found this to be the beating heart of the MCU, the relationship between Scott and his daughter is touching and sweet and I also enjoyed the romance building between Scott and Hope van Dyne, Evangeline Lilly. There are enough warming character moments and interactions in this film to make it worth watching on its own without all the Marvel goodness thrown in as well.

Speaking off, I found this to easily be the most fun to rewatch of the MCU films as its light and breezy tone made it fun to watch and it was okay if you missed something here or there as you don’t really need to pay attention. Moreover, I found myself laughing quite a lot at the jokes as well as at some of the more silly slapstick action such as the Thomas the Tank Engine fight sequence.

Furthermore in terms of acting everyone is on top form, and the only thing I would say critically in this regard is that Yellow Jacket, played by Corey Stoll, is perhaps one of the weakest villains in the MCU and the film gets just a little bit worse whenever he is on screen. Stoll is trying his best he just has nothing to work with.

Overall, a rewatch greatly changed my mind on this film and made me see it for the breezy, funny, charming film it is.

Pros.

Rudd

The back and forth between Rudd and Lilly’s characters

The emotion

The jokes

Cons.
It has some pacing issues and a very bloated first act

Yellow Jacket is an awful villain

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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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Loki Episode 1 : Glorious Purpose

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Though I enjoyed Wandavison’s first episode more so than most, I think this is easily the best first episode of a Marvel Disney + series to date; the reason I did not mention, Falcon And The Winter Soldiers first episode is because it wasn’t very good and proved no real competition to this.

This episode had everything you would want out of a Loki series and then more on top. It has humour, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Owen Wilson’s Mobius have great on screen chemistry together and provide us with quite a few strong comedic scenes. It has heart and depth, such as when variant Loki, who had never seen the events of Thor The Dark World, saw his adoptive mother die for the first time. It also has a promising mystery, and pits Loki against himself.

I thought one of the best things about this episode was the introduction to the Time Variants Authority and the widening of the MCU as this fills in some blanks and also changes how we see the events of the MCU as a whole. The one thing I didn’t like in this respect is that they basically confirm that Agents Of Shield is non-cannon: there is a moment where one additional line of dialogue would have confirmed the shows place in universe, but we never get that conformation.

Finally, outside of Loki and Mobius the rest of the characters are sparse and only really seem to exist to facilitate one purpose and are quite one dimensional: hopefully this will be fixed later in the show and these characters might get to see more exploration.

Overall, a very promising first episode.

Pros.

Widening the MCU

Owen Wilson

Tom Hiddleston, particularly during the more emotion scenes.

Cons.

A few annoying side characters

Even more signs pointing to AOS being non-cannon

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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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Spider Man 2: Spider-Man Forgets The Whole Secret Identity Thing In This One

Spider-Man 2

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Regarded by many as one of the best superhero films and certainly the best Spider-Man film there is something of an air of victory to this film. Whilst I agree it is certainly the best Peter Parker Spider-Man film, I would say Spiderverse is the best Spider-Man film of them all, I can’t say it is the best superhero film.

I enjoyed seeing the further developments of the awkward Spider-Man, who is very similar to the one we all know from the comics. His romance with Mary Jane, played by Kristen Dunst, his relationship with the Osbourn’s after the ending of the first film, etc- it takes them and ups them.

I think the reason why this film is so beloved is because it best encapsulates the Spider-Man spirit, the train scene when Spider-Man has his mask off and is almost broken, but he just can’t give up saving lives, shows the reason why the character is loved as he is: honestly it is a very powerful scene on a par with the best emotional moments from the MCU for sure.

I also enjoyed the film’s version of Doctor Octopus, played by Alfred Molina, and the tragic fall that this narrative takes him on, we see him as this great scientist driven to an extreme, and who ultimately pays a heavy price for it. The character is evil and loathsome, but also somewhat relatable and sympathetic and that is what makes him such a good villain; I am very interested to see what Marvel can do with him in the upcoming No Way Home.

Overall, a film that truly understands the Spider-Man character and is magnificent because of it.

Pros.

Tobey McGuire

Tying up the lose ends of the first film

Doctor Octopus

Developing Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship

Cons.

A little bloated.

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