Movie review: “Captain Marvel” (2019)

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“What is this?”

“It’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.”

“Does announcing your identity, with branded clothing, help with the covert part of the job?”

“…Said the space soldier who’s wearing a rubber suit.”

Captain Marvel, the latest but hardly last in the current glut of attempts to shoehorn yet another theoretically resonant new standalone superhero into our already righteously taxed moviegoing consciousness – bookended at the box office by DC’s Aquaman and, gulp, Shazam! – arrives at a precarious moment for the formerly sturdy Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), whose equally hyped and hype-worthy Infinity War event saw an unprecedented, slightly ridiculous number of Avengers assemble across multiple worlds in a last ditch effort to beat back the intergalactic threat posed by jewelry enthusiast/genocidal sociologist/city planner run amok Thanos. Sorry, but I think we’ve evolved well past spoiler territory here. Continue reading “Movie review: “Captain Marvel” (2019)”

Movie review: “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018)

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“All that for a single drop of blood…”

None of the a**holes showed up at my class reunion. Foiled yet again. Thus, my idle, childish daydreams of summarily nuking the place and spiriting off for reflective meditation to some scenic hillside with a four-pack of CBC Creeper Triple IPA and a phone full of Miles Davis, Rivers of Nihil, and Frightened Rabbit became, instantly, far more problematic. Thanos, dread purple bogeyman of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), suffers no such compunctions about ending life on an impossibly large or even planetary scale – it is both his modus operandi and, to hear him tell, destiny – and must therefore be stopped at every cost imaginable. Though it doesn’t come right out and state the obvious, Avengers: Infinity War is but the first of two chapters detailing that herculean struggle, and that’s a damned good thing for the hopeful. Continue reading “Movie review: “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018)”

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

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“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)

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“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: “Much Ado About Nothing” (2012)

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“Come, lady, come. You have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.”

“Indeed, my lord. He lent it me a while and I gave him use for it…a double heart for his single one. Merry, once before he won it of me with false dice. Therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.”

When presenting any adaptation of Shakespeare to a modern audience, the filmmaker has some tricky choices to make up front, and faces any number of potential hurdles, not the least of which is the Bard himself. Though many of his themes and much of the behavior he relates are universal and relatable across time, there comes along also the nagging sense that Shakespeare’s works now have an instantly anachronistic quality about them, as if in over their years of being so intensely studied and performed and regularly adapted anew, they have passed some weird sort of expiration date in the larger consciousness of the consumer class, that time has, in some cruel way, begun to decisively pass them by. Continue reading “Movie review: “Much Ado About Nothing” (2012)”