Movie review: “Captain America: Civil War” (2016)

capn

“Okay, anybody on our side hiding any shocking and fantastic abilities they’d like to disclose? I’m open to suggestions!”

Well, well, well…isn’t this conspicuous timing. Not even two months after DC Comics attempted to kickstart/defibrillate its own nascent cinematic universe with a wholly fabricated, varicose, mercenary, oft nonsensical apocalyptic grudge match between its two biggest stars, Superman and Batman – who, despite over a century of unparalleled name recognition, had a combined one film of sanctioned warm-up (2013’s grim, pulverizing Man of Steel) between them before the opening bell rang – Captain America: Civil War, the latest – which is to say the thirteenth – entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) lands with all the requisite bad blood and fists a-flyin’ one could possibly want, except, you know, also sane, and coherent, and almost singularly exciting. This, of course, assumes audiences are interested in those sorts of things. Continue reading “Movie review: “Captain America: Civil War” (2016)”

Movie review: “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)

age of ultron

“Does anybody remember when I put a missile through a portal, in New York City? We were standing right under it. We’re the Avengers. We can bust weapons dealers the whole doo-da-day, but how do we cope with something like that?”

“Together.”

“We’ll lose.”

“We’ll do that together too.”

Whereas comic book superheroes and heroines have a long-standing, time-tested, free-swinging tradition of either brokering guest appearances in one another’s pages or, occasionally, full-on intramural team collaborations against a common enemy and/or towards a common goal, superhero movies have generally operated in hermetically sealed bubbles all their own, using house money and fighting the simplest, most obvious threats. Marvel’s decision, circa 2006, to revamp its existing film studio into something more robust and thus shepherd its own projects, independent of the sort of uninformed, high level meddling that helped turn promising sequels like Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand into underwhelming, overstuffed disappointments, or worse, didn’t immediately signal a seismic shift in the superhero game, though it did strike most observers as a pretty good idea. Little could anyone then have truly realized the scope of Marvel’s master plan Continue reading “Movie review: “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)”

Movie review: “Not Another Teen Movie” (2001)

NATM

“And I’ll bet that you lose that bet…but that in doing so, you’ll learn an even more valuable lesson, and win. (pause) In life, I mean.”

The late Roger Ebert lamented, early and often, the inadequacies of grading movies on any sort of scale. Essentially, art is so subjective that it has a built-in natural resistance to easy criticism, and the labels we use to compensate can be obscure, imprecise or reductive, even with the best of intentions behind them. Ebert’s print reviews, which are absolutely required reading for anyone seeking more than a cursory knowledge of 20th Century film, followed a “star” model, with four being the highest possible awarded rating and zero the lowest. On television, of course, Ebert was never granted the ideal space or agency to regard a movie as much more than a simple up/down vote (cue his famous thumb), but in print his muse and talent ranged far and wide, requiring a more nuanced scale to render the final verdict. Ebert found the star format frustrating and limiting, a necessary evil of sorts, and since adopting it as the basis for my own grades on this blog, I’ve come to understand a bit from whence he came. Continue reading “Movie review: “Not Another Teen Movie” (2001)”