A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. (IMDb)
An engaging and hilarious whodunnit with one of its biggest twists being an early reveal and a shift in the point of tension that works wonderfully well and adds a good heaping of heart to the already whip-smart script (see the knife line tie-in at the end, the return of the mug in one of the best final shots I’ve ever seen). The final twist is well-drawn but a little drawn-out, but that’s the only misstep in this marvelously decorated, cleverly edited, and perfectly acted mystery/family drama.
A CIA special forces team are betrayed and left for dead by their superiors, galvanizing them to mount an offensive on the CIA. (IMDb)
Swing and a miss: it doesn’t get a hit but it sure tries hard. This mostly makes it all the more painful to watch (see the spastic “look how cool this movie is” editing and busy soundtrack), but occasionally it makes some contact (see Evans’ comic relief, especially his “Don’t Stop Believin'” moment). The well-paced action-adventure plot at its core keeps it watchable, but only barely, thanks to its generally unpleasant visual style, female exploitation, terrible SFX, and awful cheesy villain.
From the devastating opening scene to the goosebump-inducing climactic action sequence, the scope and spectacle here will blow you away. Rich with humour (Thor and Ant-Man are highlights but even stoic Cap hass his moments), emotion, and inside references, it brings the MCU to a remarkable climax and resolve. After the blockbuster-high wears off some issues emerge (the main plot concept is severely underexplained; some characters are–understandably–neglected), but it remains a monumental film.
Thanos’ villain still felt a little familiar with his twisted “for the greater good” motive, but he remained an intimidating presence-a good match for the huge cast of heroes which is balanced remarkably well throughout and contributes to plenty of amazing moments both of comedy (see Thor meeting the Guardians) and action (see the Titan attack; Thor’s arrival in Wakanda). With all the superpowers going around some snags in the plot arise but its massive stakes and solid execution overwhelm them.
A young man receives an emergency phone call on his cell phone from an older woman. The catch? The woman claims to have been kidnapped; and the kidnappers have targeted her husband and child next. (IMDb)
A great popcorn thriller: There’s the exciting central premise (admittedly dated, offering a few cringe-worthy moments–the final credits in particular), the goofy secondary characters (snobby Porsche guy is fun to love to laugh at), and hilarious well-timed one-liners (“It’s a day spa, you fuck!”), with an average plot boosted by a solid threesome of protagonists (Basinger’s resourceful victim, Evans’ good guy-turned-action star, and Macy’s kind-hearted cop–see his saving of the goldfish).
Great action? Sure. But the civil war premise behind half of it is terribly constructed. The initial point of tension was decent but certainly didn’t warrant an all-out brawl (the banter in the airport showdown just proved how dumb it was) and it developed into a misunderstanding that could’ve been resolved just with a good conversation instead of a near to-the-death fight (you were friends, right?). Like, the bad guy just said he wanted you to fight each other. Truly a stupid superhero movie.
Another healthy dose of enormous and entertaining action make this a fun film to watch in spite of its mostly lazy writing (see Wanda and Pietro’s weak antagonist motivations–and Ultron’s, for that matter–and correspondingly cheap turn; the half-baked Hawkeye development; the far-fetched and only vaguely explained bad guy antics), with the aid of one well-timed bit of self-awareness: “The city’s flying, we’re fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense.”
As Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with a fellow Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Black Widow, to battle a new threat from history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier. (IMDb)
Certainly more ambitious than the original, though not perfect: The titular character is given hints of nuance (“What makes you happy?” “I don’t know”), as is the mysterious Fury (finally) but both remain underdeveloped; The Winter Soldier is a formidable opponent and the SHIELD internal drama adds some complexity to the antagonism, but both the villain reveal and the Hydra twist feel far-fetched and a little dumb. Above criticism though, is the fantastic action choreography found throughout.
After a scattered first act, the film picks up as the Avengers gather; clashing egos (along with the welcome addition of Ruffalo’s mellow Banner) and growing feelings of distrust keep the dream-team motif grounded (though the Thor-Iron Man fight with Loki watching was dumb) while a jaw-dropping final action sequence (deftly managing to give each hero their shining moments) brings it to its apex of feel-good entertainment. A tantalizing epilogue and perfect after-credits scene end things well.
Steve Rogers, a rejected military soldier transforms into Captain America after taking a dose of a “Super-Soldier serum”. But being Captain America comes at a price as he attempts to take down a war monger and a terrorist organization. (IMDb)
The small (literally) beginnings of our hero (even post-serum, with his initial stint as a propaganda star) are uniquely compelling, and along with its gritty WWII setting, help create a welcome down-to-earth vibe for the first act. What follows is more of a mixed bag, with the villain throwing in some cheesy sci-fi, and the fantastic action sequences starting to ring a little hollow after he is never allowed any victory. A completely unexplained deus ex machina doesn’t end things well.