Civil War is the third entry of the Captain America trilogy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is perhaps the only MCU film to adapt a specific story from the comics, there was a story called Age of Ultron, but that story was completely different from the movie.

Here the Avengers tracked down an old foe in Lagos Nigeria. This scene is shot like a black ops Jason Bourne style espionage thriller. While the fight scenes are entertaining they are shot in that quick cut shaky cam style that makes them hard to watch at times.

Unfortunately there are civilian casualties during this mission, including Wakandans on a humanitarian mission. Meanwhile the UN has issued the Sokovia accords, which call for the Avengers to be overseen by the United Nations. Tony Stark/Iron Man agrees with the idea of government oversight, while Captain America does not. This philosophical disagreement split’s the Avengers down the middle, as something with the Winter Soldier arises that exasperates the situation.

One vast improvement with the movie over the comic book story it is loosely based on in the movie presents both sides fairly evenly. You can understand both Tony and Steve’s point of view, whereas in the comic book story the pro-registration side was made pretty villainous.

Casualties from the fictional nation of Wakanda allows the Black Panther to be introduced to the MCU. The Wakandan superhero puts himself into the mix, and I’m definitely excited to see a solo Black Panther movie after this.

Also introduced to the MCU is Spiderman. While only appearing briefly this is probably the best Spiderman seen on screen. He’s funny, cracks jokes during battle, makes pop culture references, etc. Ant-man is also brought in for humor. Honestly neither Spiderman nor Ant-man are really necessary to the plot, but they’re both so entertaining you don’t mind.

There is an interesting villain behind the scenes. Civil War takes a break from the take over/destroy the world plot. This villain’s motivations are personal and smaller scale, and if you think about it, the villain does succeed.

Captain America is possibly the best superhero trilogy, and another superb chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Eddie the Eagle is a bio-pic about Eddie Edwards, a British Olympic Ski jumper who did not excel at his sport, but captured the imagination of people around the world for his determination and spirit.

It begins with his childhood, as a young Eddie is fascinated by the Olympics, and is determined to be an Olympic athlete. Through a short sequence we see him attempt various sports that would be in the summer games, before deciding on the winter sport of skiing. It is not said outright, but it is evident that Eddie has some disability such as Autism or Asperger Syndrome. Perhaps because of this he is portrayed with a single mindedness to be in the Olympics, and his lack of athletic ability doesn’t waver him in that vision.

Eddie attempts to make the Olympic Skiing team. Falling short, he realizes that the British don’t have a ski jumping team. The next sequence has him training in Germany. We see his struggles with both trying to be a great ski jumper, and with other athletes around him making fun of him etc.

Hugh Jackman enters the film as a hard drinking disgraced American ski jumper who ends up reluctantly being his coach. This character has his own arc which is of redemption, including an appearance by actor Christopher Walken. Jackman’s character feels a little flat, not rising up much against his archetype. After viewing I learned Jackman’s character is fictional, so that is probably why.

After overcoming a series of obstacles Eddie makes it to the Olympics and becomes a celebrity after placing last in the 70 meter jump but simultaneously breaking the British Ski Jump record. Worried that he has become a novelty and wanting to be taken seriously, he enters the 90m event, leading to the climax of the film.

Approaching the final jump, he has a conversation with his hero, champion ski jumper Matti “The Flying Finn” Nykänen. This is an interesting conversation with a theme of the importance of doing your best, no matter how good your best may be.

The film ends with Eddie returning home to a hero’s welcome. His mother is portrayed as having always supporting him while his father did not. At the end his father tells Eddie he’s proud of him, but seemingly not out of any character development but rather because that’s how plots for these kind of movies work. They never have a movie like this where the father is encouraging and the mother is not.

Eddie the Eagle provides some feel good moments, but does not have the impact an inspirational story like this should. Parts of the film, like Eddie hurting himself a lot in his early ski jump attempts, are played for laughs when they should be seeking audience sympathy.

Just as Eddie the Eagle was not the best ski jumper, this is not the best inspirational film, but like Eddie Edwards, it’s endearing and pushes the right buttons enough to get at least some of the audience behind it.

The Witch film review

Posted: March 27, 2016 in Movies
Tags: ,

The Witch is a period piece set in 17th century New England. It opens with a man being excommunicated from his Christian Plantation and forced to live on their own in a forest. The family has a few children, including a new baby. However, after living in the woods for a while, one day the baby disappears mysteriously. It is thought a wolf took the baby, but supernatural forces are also suspected. Evidently there is a witch in the woods, and tension runs throughout the family, as various members are suspected of communing with the devil.

There’s a lot that The Witch does right. The cinematography and acting are very good. It asks a lot of, and is quite rigorous on its child actors. Unfortunately it misses some important marks as well. While there’s a few creepy moments overall it’s not very scary at all. The dialogue is hard to understand, partly because of the old English, and partly because some of it was just too soft spoken. This could perhaps relate to my third point that the story basically didn’t make any sense.

Lastly, in a movie called the Witch, the Witch herself only appears briefly. We basically know nothing of her identity, background, or motivations. In fact you could argue she’s largely inconsequential to the film, as the big bad of the film appears to be Satan himself. Perhaps this movie just should have been called The Devil instead of The Witch.

Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice is the second entry in the DC Cinematic Universe following Man of Steel. This movie, more than it’s predecessor, tries to expand the DC Universe, planting seeds for future movies to follow.

Batman appears in the title first as he does in the narrative as well. We start with the climax of Man of Steel where Metropolis is getting destroyed while Superman fights Zod. Bruce Wayne rushes into the wreckage to save his employees that work in one of the demolished buildings.

In this universe, Wayne has been Batman for a long time, and it has taken a toll on him mentally. He doesn’t believe in the inherent goodness of Superman, and sees him as a threat. Hence he starts training to take him down.

Meanwhile Clark Kent is wanting to cover the Bat story in Gotham, against the wishes of his editor Perry White. Clark disapprove’s of Batman’s methods, saying they violate people’s civil liberties. I wasn’t as clear to why he would object to Batman so much, as both Batman and Superman are vigilantes.

There’s some great training scenes with Bruce, and we get to the final showdown that does have a definitive winner. However while the first half of the movie is pretty solid, things fall apart toward the end. There’s a plot point relating to the reason that they’re fighting that should bring a lot of tension, but doesn’t at all. Said plot point almost makes the fight seem silly anyway. Plus certain characters seem figure out certain things out of the blue.

Meanwhile Lex Luthor is lurking in the background and uses the corpse of Zod to create Doomsday. Doomsday at first looks across between the Incredible Hulk and Cloverfield, and is pretty much attacks the heroes because the plot tells him too.

Part of the problem with this film as a sequel is that you pretty much needed to see Man of Steel to understand this. Especially the opening scene, you’ll have no idea what’s going on without having seen Man of Steel. Also, in this film Lois and Clark are very much in love, which is nice, but I don’t see that progressing from the last movie. The emotional weight of their relationship does not rest in the previous movie, but the fact that the audience is probably familiar with their relationship from 70+ years of pop culture.

All the characters are played well. Affleck makes a great Batman. Eisenberg’s Luthor is basically Zuckerberg from Social Network just more mentally unhinged. Wonder Woman is great, but her absence would not have affected the plot at all.

Some big chances were taken with this movie. Batman in particular already has a long established history in this world that hasn’t been touched on yet. Evidently some big changes have already happened to certain things we take for granted about Batman. I also liked that the first time you see Batman on screen the horror aspect of his character is played up.

One of the potential problems I see down the road with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that they’re introducing all their big heroes at once. I like DC taking a different approach, having solo films spin out of the upcoming Justice League film, having their TV shows be their own thing. In this movie world the upcoming Wonder Woman movie takes place in the past. I would hope the next Batman movie would as well.

Batman vs Superman is not a terrible movie, but it falls apart at the end when it needed to be great. It does make me want to see a Wonder Woman movie and a Batman movie set in this world.

Creep is a short minute homage to the slasher films of the 1980s. The killer is not masked, as most characters like Jason and Michael Meyers were, but is menacing nonetheless. There’s only four characters in the story, the girl, who plays the “last girl” bit, her date, the neighbor, and the killer who simply is credited as ???? in the vein of some of the old monster movies. The other three characters don’t have names either. It’s a straight to the point, bare bones narrative about a girl running from a killer, complete with chase scenes through the streets, hiding in an empty house, and a few quick kill scenes. Worth checking out for any fans of the slasher genre.

Street Fighter G.I. Joe is a crossover from the famous Capcom fighting game and the Hasbro toy property. The first issue revolves around four one on one fights between characters of each property. Those fights being C. Viper vs Snake Eyes, Rufus vs Baroness, Hakan vs Roadblock, and Ryu vs Jinx. There are some surprises as to who wins each fight, they all don’t go as expected.

As the fights go on we get some background information on the overall story. M. Bison (the evil boss of Street Fighter II) is the dictator of Mriganka, and head of the Shaoaloo Crime Syndicate. Mriganka is hosting the World Warrior Tournament, (the fighting tournament that you play through in the Street Fighter games). In this story the tournament is sponsored by M.A.R.S. industries, which is the weapons company run Cobra’s Destro. Apparently there is some yet to be revealed weapon that is fueled by one on one combat.

There are some alliances between Street Fighter and Cobra characters, along with the Baroness scheming with and possibly against Destro. The over the top nature of the Street Fighter brawls is evident with this issue, as guns and knives are used during battle, along with the Hadoken energy blasts. There’s also a reference to the S.I.N. designed battle suits.

There are so many characters in both franchises that naturally a comic about a 16 person tournament was going to leave some people out. There’s supplementary material in the back of the issue where we’re briefed on qualifying rounds. Several preliminary fights are described in one paragraph each where it is explained how various fan favorite characters did not make the cut.

Also in the back of the issue is a list of the overall bracket for the tournament. It is also illustrated which fights will be in which issue of the comic. Looking at the bracket one can probably guess what the final fight will be.

The art style and the coloring is a nice blend between the 80s style animation of G.I. Joe and the graphics of the 90s arcade. This first issue is a fun read that leaves you looking forward to more fights and more of the background story.

Almost forgot to post this. Four years ago today I started the Great American Road Trip. With my now departed car (my Pontiac) I spent five weeks on the road traveling from Pennsylvania to California then to the Jersey shore then home. Saw both oceans on this trip. Some of it was a lot of fun, but some of it, specifically going back to South Dakota/the rez/Rapid City was real heavy for me. It was one of the best things I did in my life. My friend Tom encouraged me to write it out once I got home while I could still remember everything. So last year I self published this piece. I decided to do a 40% of sale for the 4th anniversary and in honor of my old car I just got rid off that made the whole trip.

You can buy the book here.

 

roadtripbook

 

 

 

-m