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Movies Review

Movie Review – Captain America: Civil War

note:  some spoilers

There’s a huge reason Captain America: Civil War works and Batman v Superman doesn’t, and that’s emotional investment.  I know Zack Snyder and DC/WB wanted to do thing their own way and not ape Marvel’s so far successful approach, but when you are rebooting two legendary characters and making significant changes, you need to get the fans used to these new versions.  We KNOW Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.  We’ve seen them overcome numerous obstacles, both separately and together.  They’ve fallen on hard times, been betrayed, beaten, come back stronger.  Mistakes were made, characters have evolved, things have changed.  It’s why we can believe Captain America, the guy who wears flag colors and beat the snot out of Nazis and HYDRA for his country, would now decide “the safest hands are still our own”.  Why we can believe Tony Stark, the rebel genius whose not a team player, admonished for his ‘ready-fire-aim’ mentality, would toe the line this time after never even looking for the line before.  Cap, since being unfrozen, was lied to by Fury, found out SHIELD was infiltrated by his greatest enemy, and then had to bail Tony’s ass out after one of his creations came within a hair’s breadth of destroying the Earth.  Tony for his part, finally has to come to grips with the fact that his first impulse may not always be his best.  And this time, it wasn’t just his own life getting torn to shreds, but the entire planet.

Batman V Superman just didn’t have that weight behind it.  WB wanted us to care about them fighting, and spent a lot of words during the movie hyping it up, and trying to tell us how important it was, but during Civil War?  Didn’t need a word of it.  I felt every punch in that final battle especially.  Tony, GUTTED by the horrific video of the Winter Soldier killing his parents, feeling the sting of their death again, the betrayal that Steve knew about it (remember in CA:TWS it was shown by Zola), lashes out.  The battle, which had so far been over an idea, becomes brutally personal.  I was enjoying the movie to that point, but at that point?  Riveted.

She's got her own fan art already! @marcusthevisual
She’s got her own fan art already! @marcusthevisual

Shifting gears a bit, it’s kind of amazing that I can be this far in and only now discussing everything else that happened in the movie.  We meet Spider-Man!  And it’s a poor, nerdy kid whose quippy yet awkward.  Tom Holland nails it.  BLACK PANTHER, I mean, come on.  His moves are unreal, he dismantles Bucky, but even in the midst of righteous anger over the death of his father, T’Challa can step back from his vengeance to serve justice.  What an example for the two sides fighting, eh?  The Russos made Florence Kasumba’s “Security Chief” (gotta be one of the Dora Milaje) more interesting in one scene with one line than BvS did for 90% of the characters in it.

If you are concerned this sounds too heavy, well, it’s got more weight than a lot of Marvel movies, but rest assured, it brings the funny.  Many of the best lines aren’t in the trailers, including the scene with Falcon and Bucky in the car, or Falcon fighting Spider-Man.  Or Ant-Man and the truck.  Even crazier, there was a character building moment or two for everybody.  OH, and much has already been said about the Vision and his dapper look – his relaxed home attire always slays me in his current comic, and I’m glad to see it here, but it’s his interactions with Wanda that are most interesting.  He isn’t yet to “even an android can cry” territory yet, but the groundwork is there.

Zemo, technically the villain since he really sets in motion the acts that get Avengers fighting Avengers, fares better than some of the recent Marvel villains.  Quite different from the comics but built with real, complex motivations.

As for flaws, I think the movie wasn’t as well paced out as The Winter Soldier.  Considering the sheer amount of content, that’s understandable.  With that, Captain America: Civil War can’t quite dethrone Iron Man and The Winter Soldier as my go-to Marvel movies, but it gets massive, Giant-Man sized points for being to pull off as many heroes and storylines as it did.

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Movies Review

Movie Review – Godzilla

Japanese kaiju (or giant monster) movies have been part of my pop culture since I was a kid, and my older brothers watched the various Godzilla and King Kong movies. Though I probably got the most enjoyment from the Gamera movies as they appeared on Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Even without Pacific Rim appearing on the scene, you knew there’d be a ‘reboot’ of Godzilla for American audiences, the question is, would it be better than the deplorable 1998 version?  For me, it’s a qualified yes.

The story focuses on the family of Joe Brody, played by Bryan Cranston.  Joe and his wife work at a Japanese nuclear plant experiencing some odd, rhythmic seismic activity.  Joe sends Sandra (criminally underused Juliette Binoche) and a team to investigate the sensors giving the reports when disaster strikes.  Joe is forced to seal his wife and her team inside to protect everyone else from an explosion.  Cranston and Binoche sell the heck out of this, and it works.

Fast-forward 15 years, and the Brodys’ son Ford is making a life for himself as a Navy man, in Explosive Ordinance Disposal.  That won’t come in handy or anything!  Unfortunately, his dad hasn’t been able to let go of what happened, getting pinched trying to sneak in to the quarantined area.  Joe convinces Ford to go back one last time to secure data he recorded that will prove his crackpot theory of what happened right…and they both get caught.  This time, they are taken into a secret facility where scientists (including Ken Watanabe, who I could listen to read the phone book) are studying a massive chrysalis.  Being movie scientists, they accidentally hatch the thing and the first MUTO lays waste to the facility (and Joe).  MUTO is an acronym, mind you, and not just something that sounds like what you’d name a monster.

The survivors at the base get taken to an American aircraft carrier which is trying to follow the beast.  But never fear, Godzilla is here!  Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) has a theory that Godzilla is nature’s way of balancing things out.  He rises from the depths to smack up anything that might wreck Mother Nature, other than us, I guess.  Maybe we’re next.  Here is where things go sideways a bit for me.  There’s two ways a movie like this can go.  One, you go full on MONSTERS WOOO mode, or two, you focus on the people surviving the crazy stuff.  This movie never made a choice.  It didn’t focus on the fights – more than once it cut away early from a fight or showed it small on a TV people were watching.  On the other hand, we didn’t feel much for our stalwart hero other than “Gee, it’s really lucky that a bomb disposal guy is just hanging out right where he’s needed”.  It did lead to one scene where Godzilla falls to the ground, and our hero Ford shares a look with him like “Ain’t this something?  Shoulda stayed in bed!”, which had me laughing out loud.

Anyway, this review is late, but I did enjoy the movie.  It certainly is a solid take on the classic Japanese version of the monster, and does well to ignore the American Godzilla of the late 90s.  Should be at your second-run theaters soon.