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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some Mini-Movie Reviews

Greetings and felicitations to my fellow denizens of the warp! Old Man Chaos is back in action. I have another battle report that I have to write up, and I've got some freshly painted models that I have to take pics of pronto. However, I also promised some movie reviews. Now, these will be somewhat brief- I just want to give the gist of my thoughts on the movies I have seen this summer so far...

Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

If you have read other reviews on my site, you know that I think Captain America: The First Avenger, was one of my favorite Marvel movies. Well, I am pleased to say that Cap 2 blows that, and all the other Marvel movies out of the water. Possibly even Avengers. Why, you ask? Well, Cap 2 does a TON of things right.

First, like Nolan's Batman movies, this movie is a reflection of our War on Terror fears and how far are we willing to go to keep the world safe. The movie does a great job with this, actually making lots of links between this conflict and World War II. Here, Captain America stands for our best intentions, and he finds himself at odds with an America that values security over freedom. So, he is still a fish out of water, but this time it has a moral imperative. This is contrasted nicely with the "Winter Soldier", who basically does whatever his handlers tell him, with no moral qualms.

Then, there is a deeper idea, that evil can survive even decisive defeat by changing form. By becoming a different kind of evil. Less open. More hidden. And, worst of all, it can mascerade as something good. This evil is harder to root out. We all like to think that Totalitarianism is gone, but... it just looks better now. This is some deep stuff for a comic movie, and the film makes those connections by bringing in elements from Cap 1 and WW 2 so well and intricately.

But, even with great ideas, a movie could be flat. Not this one though. The actors are all superb- Chris Evans is just amazing as Cap. His scenes with Falcon are warm and realistic (this is not hero worship- its 2 soldiers bonding over loss). Black Widow and Fury are also at top form here, and Cap is constantly trying to figure out their true motives and loyalties. Finally, Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce is so morally slippery- and yet he never overplays it. In addition, the action scenes are a standout. The physicality between Cap and the Winter Soldier is just brutal. There's also lots of bullets flying- it gives the movie a grittiness and gravitas without becoming too grim.

Overall, the best Marvel movie. Period. Loved Avengers, but there was nothing deeper there. Cap 2 is both a fun action movie and a reflection of America at this moment in time.


This one I have mixed feelings about. I am glad to see Godzilla taken more seriously- I LOVE the 1954 movie- the perfect metaphor for the atomic bomb. The other Godzillas I could take or leave- I liked the monster fights as a kid, but damn those movies are bad. Then, the trailers for this one came out and I said YES- this is the Godzilla that needs to be seen.

The film is, as I said, a mixed bag. The monsters are very well done, with Godzilla himself getting all due respect in his appearance and strength. The problem is the rest of the movie isn't very effective at all. I don't mind slow deliberate pacing- but this felt off. They could have trimmed a good chunk and the movie would still be OK. They also kill the off one of their best characters fairly quickly. It doesn't help that the lead is fairly dull and un-involving. The monster fights are thrilling though- but these were all too brief compared to the rest of the movie.

Overall, I liked it, but didn't love it. That's too bad, as I think this movie could have been great.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Boy, did this movie have a ton on its plate. It was going to try to coordinate the older actors with the newer ones, somehow account for all the differences and inconsistencies (big and small) in the various movies, while trying to live up to one of the most famous X-Men stories of all time. Now, if that isn't a tall order, I don't know what is.

And, incredibly, the movie manages to deliver on all of these and then some. The story is part Terminator, part Empire Strikes Back, part ST IV: The Voyage Home, part comic book movie, and I mean that in the best possible way. To prevent a terrible future for both mutants and mankind alike, the xmen decide to send Wolverine back in time to prevent the murder of Bolivar Trask, inventor of the Sentinels. Problem is, Mystique is the killer, and how do you find someone who could look like anyone? Complicating matters is the fact that in the 1970s, Xavier has basically given up on his dream, living life in a druggy haze (a metaphor for how America seemed to have given up in the 1970s perhaps). Plus, Magneto is in jail for a crime he may or may not have committed. Only by working together do the three have any chance to avert the catastrophe- but can they?

I am disappointed in this costume... how he looked at the end of First Class was great...
The movie is a great race against time flick, and it also has a healthy sense of humor. It is buoyed by some great performers- the Xavier's and Magnetos are played so well, its fantastic. And of course Hugh Jackman is great as Wolvie, though he doesn't dominate the proceedings, which is good. The special effects are top notch, and the Sentinels are fantastic. The best part though is the juxtaposition between the hopeless future and the rough but not yet dark 1970s- it really adds weight to the whole thing, making the characters decisions that much more important. However, there are moments where it seems like they are juggling too much. Also, there are some rather odd dull spots too, as well as some lapses in logic. But, as they say in Austin Powers- time travel? Now I've gone cross-eyed.

Without giving away the movie, let me say that the last battle and ending are great. Indeed, the conclusion is so good- basically, IF this was the end of the series, I would be totally OK with that, as this ending is really special. It is especially noteworthy if you hated X3 or Origins, let's put it that way. Naturally, there will be another one, judging by the scene after the end credits-geeks only will get this, as I had to explain it to non-comic fans.

Ultimately, I think X2 is still the absolute best, and there is something really fun about First Class, but DoFP is really, really good- it is so ambitious and they accomplish what they set out to do. Cap 2 was a better movie overall, but DoFP is still excellent.

Well, that's it for my movie reviews for now. I plan on seeing Planet of the Apes, Sin City 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy at the very least. I'll be sure to review them (eventually). Hope you found this entertaining.

Until next time.


  1. Saw all three movies myself and loved all of 'em. ^_^
    Nice reviews.

    1. I loved Cap and X-Men. I just wish that Godzilla was better...

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