Chris Evans Weekend – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (Screenplay) Joe Simon, Jack Kirby (Comics)

Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders

 

Plot: 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.


Tagline – In heroes we trust.

Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Best Pure Action Comic Book Movie

 

Story: Captain America: The Winter Soldier starts as Steve Rogers (Evans) is recruited to help Natasha Romanoff (Johansson) on her latest mission, he being a soldier will help any civilian in danger, which does seem him cross paths with Nick Fury (Jackson) who he feels is using him for the dirty work to clean up SHIELD’s secrets.

When Nick is killed by the Winter Soldier (Stan), Steve must learn who he can trust as he looks for answers as SHIELD has become compromised, Steve is joined by Natasha and starts investigating SHIELD’s connection including Nick’s friend Alexander Pierce (Redford).

 

Thoughts on Captain America: The Winter Soldier

 

Characters – Steve Rogers is still learning to adapt to the modern world, he hasn’t been able to make any friends yet and is starting to deal with his own guilt from his time at war, he is getting used to help save people in need for Fury. He must investigate the murder of Fury only for to need to learn ho to trust and clashing with a friend from his own past. Nick Fury has been pushing the SHIELD’s latest plan to be pushed back, this sees him having the attention drawn to him and turning to the only person he knows he could trust, Steve. Natasha Romanoff has been working with Steve on mission, she still keeps to herself and is the only one that Steve can trust while searching for answers. Alexander Pierce is Nick’s connection to the world committee being the old friends, he has been going against the Nick’s wishes looking to use his own place of power for control. Winter Soldier is a new deadly assassin, one that even Steve can’t fight against, he does have a connection to his past too. Sam Wilson is a former soldier that Steve meets, he has been running groups for soldiers who have been struggle since returning from war and can related to where Steve is, while dealing with a friend’s loss.

PerformancesChris Evans gives his best performance in this leading role here, he gives us a character we believe is trying to do the right thing throughout the film. Samuel L Jackson continues to be the inspiration leader of the group. Scarlett Johansson shows us once against that she is wonderful in the Black Widow role. Robert Redford steps into becoming the villainous figure in the film which is unexpected and he delivers in it. Sebastian Stan returns, this time in a more prominent role and as a threat. Anthony Mackie is a welcome addition to the cast never looking out of place.

StoryThe story here follows Steve Rogers as he looks to learn about the modern world, unlock the truth about who to trust and investigate who has been working from within SHIELD to create more problems than they are meant to be solving, while dealing with an old friend. We get a much straight drawn out action story here which does deal with a political side of having superheroes in the world. we do get to see just how Steve will always put the people ahead of anything else in his life. The idea of how Steve learns to cope in the modern world is shown strongly here as he does have help, he does see similar problems people could be suffering from too. The return of Hydra is great to see because we see a more calculated villainous force that keeps everything human, showing that the heroes will need to deal with their own battles before worrying about ones coming from space.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in the film feels more like a pure action movie, with it including car chases, street shoot outs and more of a pure hand to hand combat, yes, we do get the big action set piece at the end, but we rarely look at explosions as part of the superpowers. We do dive into sci-fi once again by looking at a future we could face with technology being a major part of it.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings in and mostly around Washington, which helps play into the political side of the story that is going on.

Special EffectsThe effects are not needed as much as most of the other films in the franchise, the ones we do get work very well never taking us out of the set pieces.


Scene of the Movie –
Car chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Stephen Strange reference doesn’t make that much sense in this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily the best action film in the Marvel universe, it keeps most of the action grounded staying away from the big time explosions others have had in the past.

 

Overall: The action superhero movie we wanted.

Rating

 

 

Samuel L Jackson Weekend – Black Snake Moan (2006)

Director: Craig Brewer

Writer: Craig Brewer (Screenplay)

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, S Epatha Merkerson, John Cothran, David Banner

 

Plot: A God-fearing bluesman takes to a wild young woman who, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, looks everywhere for love, never quite finding it.


Tagline – To save his soul he must save hers.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Redemption Story

 

Story: Black Snake Moan starts as we see how God-fearing Lazarus (Jackson) who has his own problems with his family, he does always look after people who help him knowing the struggle they are going through and the support hard work deserves. Rae sees her boyfriend Ronnie (Timberlake) has gone to war and with her reputation around town of being a party animal that enjoys drugs, drink and sex with anyone until one night she gets left beaten on the side of the road.

Lazarus finds her and takes her back to his house to help clean her up only for Rae to make things a lot more difficult than he first thought they would be, can he help her even if he is keeping her captured in his own home.

 

Thoughts on Black Snake Moan

 

Characters – Lazarus is the local God-fearing man, he has always been good to the people that help him around town, while having issues with he family. He wants to help Rae get back on the right path and end her destructive ways. Rae is the party animal, hooked on drugs, drink and sex with anyone and seemingly everyone. She is left for dead on the side of the road after a sexual assault, where she is rescued by Lazarus who tries to help her, she must learn to clean herself up to realise her own worth in the world. Ronnie is her boyfriend of Rae, he went to war leaving her behind and couldn’t make it there.

PerformancesSamuel L Jackson is wonderful in the leading role of this film, we can believe his characters struggles with and without his alcohol problems. Christina Ricci shows us just how she has transformed herself from the child star we knew to the grown woman with a risqué and brave role with the extra sexuality bought onto her character. Justin Timberlake is fine without being overly used in the film as we focus on the two main stars.

StoryThe story here follows an unlikely man helping an unlikely young lady that is on a path of destruction, both from the same background, though from different sides of the tracks, both are in need of saving in their own way and spending the time together they learn the lessons in life they have been searching for. The story does show us how two people who are on the last legs with the rest of the world giving up on them can fall into each other’s lives without needing a relationship just friendship to put their lives back on track.

SettingsThe film is set in the deep south where you can still see the divide between the white and black families, while we don’t see the racial hate between the two either. This shows the struggle both are having with lives in a dead end feeling town.


Scene of the Movie –
Performing live.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We learn snippets of the past, but not enough to make us truly understand the motives in the younger life.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good redemption story that shows the struggle of small town America, how two different people can come together to help each other through their struggles and showing the right path can come from an unlikely source.

 

Overall: Redemption is what we want to see.

Rating

 

 

Jon Favreau Weekend – Iron Man 2 (2010)

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: Justin Theroux (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby (Comic Book)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L Jackson, Clark Gregg

 

Plot: With the world now aware of his identity as Iron Man, Tony Stark must contend with both his declining health and a vengeful mad man with ties to his father’s legacy.


Tagline – It’s not the armor that makes the hero, but the man inside.

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining Sequel

 

Story: Iron Man 2 starts in the world where Tony Stark’s (Downey Jr) Iron Man has seen the world in peace for the longest time in modern history, the government however isn’t happy with the device and the world is trying to build their own versions of the Iron Man suit. With Tony’s device slowly causing more damage than it should, he is looking for a way to stop the affects being caused.

With Tony searching for answers, he must deal with new member of the law team Natalie Rushman (Johansson), giving Pepper (Paltrow) the CEO position, a rival inventor Justin Hammer (Rockwell) and a jilted victim of his father’s work Ivan Vanko (Rourke) better known as Whiplash, who has his own form of weaponised equipment and wants revenge.

 

Thoughts on Iron Man 2

 

Characters – Tony Stark revealed his identity at the end of the last movie, he has become even more famous as the man that ended conflict in the world, the government want control over the suit and worry that other parts of the world could develop their own version of the suit. He must deal with his own mortality when the one thing keeping him alive, is making him sick. He will also need to fight for his father’s mistakes, pushing his closest friends away. Pepper Potts has been given a promotion by Tony, to CEO, she already runs his affairs, she is now running his company, while trying to control him during his self-destruction. Rhodey is still in his role in the military, he is still challenging Tony, but gets to use his own suit the correct way, for guiding the military. Natasha goes undercover in Stark’s company, she is a member of SHIELD where she uses her skills in combat to keep Tony out of trouble. Justin Hammer is a rival inventor still trying to get ahead of Tony in the weapons business, he has been working on his own Iron Man suit, without much success, he hires Ivan to build him a suit. Ivan Vanko has built his own weaponised suit, he is the son of a rival of Tony’ father, which sees him want to take revenge on Tony for his father’s action, becoming whiplash, the one man that has created a suit that could rival Iron Man.

PerformancesRobert Downey Jr is still great to watch, he keeps the charisma required for his role, while bringing an emotional factor which is needed for where his character goes in this film. Gwyneth Paltrow does have a bigger role here and brings us a much stronger performance with her character. Don Cheadle is an improvement on Terrence Howard, bringing Rhodey to life more. Scarlett Johansson has the perfect look for this character which is only first jumping into the franchise. Sam Rockwell as another inventor arms dealer who is filled with the swagger required. Mickey Rourke as the villain has good motives he does everything he can even if he character does grumble a lot.

StoryThe story follows up the beginning of Iron Man dealing with the idea that the military would want control of the equipment and the rest of the world will be playing catch up, with their own versions of the Iron Man suit. This is a strong world building exercise to the Iron Man universe, we get to see how SHIELD are operating in the shadows watching over the potential threats. We have a villain that is competition and another one that is out for personal revenge. We up the stakes in this one, Tony does have to deal with his own problems by needing to improve the suit and we get to set up the position of who is one the good side with teases of the eventual Avengers team up.

Action/Sci-Fi The action in this film relies on a couple of big scenes, we have the racing introduction, the mid-life crisis sequence and the showdown, each has their own way to make an impact. The sci-fi side of the film continues to show the technology advances that Tony is dealing with.

SettingsThe film uses the settings more for the action with one of the most iconic action sequences in the franchise, we continue to see Tony’s lab which tends to get destroyed a lot too.

Special EffectsThe special effects in the film make each fight, drone or Iron Man suit look realistic through the film which is what needed for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Monte Carlo entrance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There is a small pacing issue.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun sequel that continues to build the universe we know now, Tony still needs to learn about his place and how to handle the suit which is important and shows the past could come back to haunt you.

 

Overall: Fun sequel.

Rating

 

 

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Director: Jon Watts

Writer: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers (Screenplay) Steve Ditko, Stan Lee (Comic Book)

Starring: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Samuel L Jackson, Jon Favreau, Angourie Rice, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori

 

Plot: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: An Entertaining Jumble

 

Story: Spider-Man Far from Home starts when Peter Parker (Holland) and his classmates MJ (Zendaya), Ned (Batalon), Flash (Revolori) and others head off to Europe for a scientific school trip, Peter’s plan is to finally tell MJ how he feels, but things don’t go to plan.

Peter finds himself recruited by Nick Fury (Jackson) to help new superhero Quentin Beck known as Mysterio (Gyllenhaal) fight a new threat that is attacking cities in Europe, trying to decide if he is ready to tackle the added responsibility of being a superhero.

 

Thoughts on Spider-Man Far from Home

 

Characters – Peter Parker has two main storylines going on in this film, one side of him is the high school student that wants to tell the girl he likes his feeling, nervous and social awkward. The second one sees him facing the reality that he was hand picked to step up and help save the world, a decision which sees him wanting to just take a break from. Watching Peter balance the two is interesting because the high school one was the weaker side, the superhero side is very interesting to follow. Nick Fury is also adapting to life after the snap, where he isn’t in the same level of control on everything going on in the world, he wants Peter to come and work for him and doesn’t like being told no. They did try to recapture certain elements of the chemistry he had with Captain Marvel too. Quentin Beck is the new superhero dubbed Mysterio because of his powers and ability to defeat the elementals that have started attacking the major cities, he offers Peter a chance to discuss his position with having powers like nobody else has since Tony’s death. MJ is the girl of Peter’s dreams, she is very different to both versions of MJ we have seen before, being very distant to the rest of the class, but always manages to capture Peter watching her.

PerformancesTom Holland does do a very good job in the leading role, if it was just the high school side of the film, he does struggle at times, but it is the human effect of being a superhero that completely makes you believe what he is going through. Samuel L Jackson does what we expect from him in a supporting role, as does Zendaya who does everything without standing out. Jake Gyllenhaal though, he was a joy to watch especially in the second half of the film, he just takes his role and runs with it.

StoryThe story here follows Peter Parker on his high school trip that gets interrupted to help try and save the world from a new threat, testing him to see if he is ready to replace Iron-Man. This like the character of Peter Parker can be broken down into two simple positives and negatives, the high school trip stuff, is there, most of it gets pretty boring quickly, it is here to help show a human life that he could have though. The superhero side of the story is the highlight because it does get to show how the once confident Peter is starting to question if he is ready to step up after seeing the consequences to what has happened to people in their lives. The villain is a surprise and while I won’t get into details, it is very entertaining to watch and could be one of the best they have bought to a stand alone film.

Action/Sci-FiThe action in this film is brilliant to watch, it blends with the special effects and doesn’t turn into anything as ridiculous as it could be when you see the fights. The sci-fi element of the film does address the dangers of technology being in the wrong hands once again, but it all works for the story being shown here.

SettingsThe film gives us the basic European settings, we have Venice, Prague, Berlin and London, you know well know locations that have large populations which could get destroyed.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film did seem flawless, we do have large scale, dust, water and fire monsters used for battles which all look like they could be real along with certain twists in the story which only add to the effects.


Scene of the Movie –
What is real?

That Moment That Annoyed Me Most of the high school stuff.

Final ThoughtsThis is a real mixed bag of a superhero movie, it could have been fantastic, only it gets too carried away dealing with the high school world which does drag things down.

 

Overall: Entertaining enough.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – X – XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017) Revisited

When I first reviewed XXX: Return of Xander Cage it got a 7.1.

Director: D.J. Caruso

Writer: F Scott Frazier (Screenplay) Rich Wilkes (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collete, Samuel L Jackson

 

Plot: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.


Tagline – Guns, girls, global domination.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Popcorn Film

 

Story: XXX: Return of Xander Cage starts when Gibbons (Jackson) is killed by a falling satellite, CIA know the one device which could have caused this, ‘Pandora’s Box’ a device capable of taking satellites out of the sky turning them into warheads. Xiang (Yen) and his team Serena (Padukone), Talon (Jaa) and Hawk (Bisping) steal Pandora’s Box right from under the CIA agent Jane Marke (Collette) hands.

Jane is forced to turn to long thought dead Xander Cage (Diesel) to return Pandora’s Box, with his own team of Adele (Rose), Tennyson (McCann) and Nick (Wu) to travel the world to even the odds in the fights that will go around the world.

 

Thoughts on XXX: Return of Xander Cage

 

Characters – Xander Cage has returned from the dead, the extreme sport lover is bought back in for a new mission which will see him take on the deadly Xiang as his team of elite fighters. He uses his connections to get the mission complete, with his extremes sports to escape the situations he finds himself in. Xiang has led a team to steal the Pandora’s box, he is highly skilled and went through his own XXX recruitment program. His plans might not be as evil as first thought. Serena works for Xiang, she has the same background as Xander, working on the rebellious good guy nature. Adele is one of Xander’s team, she hunts hunters with her sniper skills. Jane Marke works for the CIA and needs recruit Xander to return the stolen weapon, she isn’t as friendly as Gibbons as she knows the stakes. We get the generic side characters too, each having their moment to help the mission.

PerformancesFirst thing before we get into the complete conversation on performances, we must praise the international cast, which sees actors from around the globe join forces. Vin Diesel is the leading role does better than I first gave him credit for, this is every you would expect from him. Seeing Donnie Yen stepping into an American movie is great because we get to see his fighting skills in action. Deepika Padukone steps away from Bollywood for her first Hollywood role never looking out of place in the action heavy role. We do have a wonderful supporting cast that includes Tony Jaa, Ruby Rose, Rory McCann and Toni Collette each getting to show off their time on screen.

StoryThe story brings Xander Cage back from the dead as he must lead a team in an attempt to return a stolen device which could be used as a weapon against the world. let’s be honest, we don’t need the deepest story because this is a film used to showcase the combat abilities of the cast, needing to keep the story nice and simple, good guys need to get device back before devastation could happen. We have a few twists along the way and we do get to build upon the universe that XXX operates in. this is one you can switch your brain off and enjoy.

Action/AdventureThe action is massive with fights, stunts and chases going on through the film which is a joy to watch if you want to switch your mind off, physics might well be out the window, but extreme sports fans will enjoy. The adventure side of the film takes us around the world as the mission is put into play.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show different locations that the XXX team would be operating in, be it hiding or willing to fight in.


Scene of the Movie –
Plane ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Ice Cube’s role is mostly wasted.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the action films you can just switch on and switch off to enjoy the action unfold.

 

Overall: Pure popcorn action blast.

Rating