Tag Archives: action

Review Aquaman by Jonathan Evans.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Of all the Superhero movies to come out in recent years I don’t think there is one I can point to where it’s appeal mainly goes to its star. To be fair there are co-stars and costume department and the director and the writers but without the special magic of Jason Momoa, who takes the concept of the character and fits it to his liking this movie would probably be dead in the water (pun intended!).

Opening the movie is a prologue of a man by the name of Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) runs a lighthouse and during one dark and stormy night, he sees a woman washed up onshore and un-conscience. He takes her inside and tends to her wounds, she is Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) who is the princess of Atlantis and has fled because of an arranged marriage. But this beautiful woman from a distant land, falls for this man of a different world and for a time love thrives and they have a son together named Arthur, but she has responsibilities and so her people come to take her back, leaving Thomas to raise Arthur alone.

Years later a submarine is being boarded by pirates, they take the ship but it’s hit by something, not a creature, or a missile, but a man. For his introduction, you will have a smile on your face. Jason Momoa is such a larger than life character that is so happy to be onscreen that his joy is sent through the screen and right into you. He looks good with his top off (which happens a lot), moves with swagger and confidence and is either given or writes his own witty repartee which is even accompanied with a few notes of an electric guitar (a fun peppering of fun for the audience).

Joining Arthur is Mera (Amber Heard) a red-headed Atlantian that comes from a noble house and tries to bring Arthur to Atlantis to restore order, he wants very little to do with it but tidal waves keep damaging the shoreline so he’s in for the ride. Mera has special…magic? Where she is capable of controlling the water itself. Heard and Momoa has good chemistry with witty banter that they sharply bounce off each other.

Director James Wan is most well versed in the horror genre, with movies like Saw, The Conjuring and Insidious under his belt but also directed Furious 7 so he’s also cut his teeth on mainstream blockbusters. He channels more of his Furious 7 muscles here though there two moments when he gets to flex those horror skills of his. He has good control of his camera, knowing when to move it and when it should stay still and there are a few neat wipes used within it (though they are just for flash). He and cinematographer Don Burges even make use of the underwater segments with allowing the camera to drift in a fully around, above and below the characters.

Setting the movie primarily underwater, for the most part, helps give the movie a unique look from the other Superhero movies. Atlantis itself is as a city is impressive visual realization with lights that strobe-like cuttlefish and other deep sea creatures and the building take the shape of shells, fins and the bones of marine life. As well as that there are many other locations that we are given because of how the plot is laid out.

This whole movie has a getup and go, waste to time mentality. This is to its detriment because we never get a few precious moments to absorb what’s been said, as soon as something has been explained Arthur gets up and goes to the place or fight someone (though he does seem to be that type of character). Same for other scenes with other characters, we are in a location and they spout their dialog at a fast passe and as soon they are don’t then the other talks and the scene immediately ends.

This is essentially a treasure hunt movie. With artifacts that need to be found and clues hidden in different locations around the world and one thing leading to another. These types of movies, like Indiana Jones, are good for keeping the characters and plot moving and allowing for different locations and action set pieces.

With all the incredible progress that’s been made with computer animation in recent years, it’s a shame that this movie looks so artificial. here are times when we are meant to be within a ship or an undersea castle of sorts or even have our heroes up against a creature from the deep and you will never believe it’s really there. Adding to it are very unconvincing capes that flow up and down and they are like flags of artificiality (I also have no ideas why you would need a cape underwater).

Music is used to heighten the emotion of the scene playing on-screen. Depending on the scene or on the tone of the movie itself it can be loud and aggressive or delicate and nuanced. Sometimes as well no music should be played and the image and the quiet are all we need. But during moments in this movie composer Rupert Gregson-Williams is as subtle as a sledgehammer. Especially during the second act where every emotion the characters express is accompanied by a tune, all dramatic images come with a BOOM and one moment where something dramatic is happening on-screen it comes with choir music. Such blatantly obvious as well as obnoxious use of music don’t enhance but obstruct and make us aware of how the creators want us to view the movie.

Under Zack Snyders creative reign these movies have had a washed out or, murky, dark look to them. All the color is faded down and black is not used as a contrast but dominated the frame, accompanied by browns, bronze, and variations of grey with only a few other shades being allowed in, it is a very unappealing thing to look at. Here we get vivid, lush colors as well and a few darker setting for contrast. Each character has their own main color so they can be easily distinguished from another and pop-out against the environment.

This movie does not have one but three villains from the Aquaman mythos. Primarily there is Ocean Master (whose title they find a way of saying out loud and not sounding ridiculous) Arthurs half Brother that want the throne for himself as well as to declare war on the surface. Black Manta, a deep-sea pirate that is geared with special Atlantian technology that gives him an edge in the fights. It’s a testament to the costume people that they took the original design of the large helmet and made it look good in the movie when by all means it should be hilarious. Finally, there’s The Trench, a race of water-breathers that live in the deepest darkest part of the ocean and have become savage. They are the most recent installment in the comics and are really just Piranha men though are a definite threat. Anyone of these villains is enough to provide fuel for one movie and all three are here, none of them is throwaway and get their moments, it’s just another example of the main problem with the movie, it’s rushed and cluttered.

In terms of DC movies, this is a much better step forward with recent debacles like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. It is not as strong as Wonder Woman and in terms of a Superhero facing a different culture, this is no Black Panther. Though it is still an everyone is doing an admiral job is all their departments, but the special spice is it’s star Jason Momoa that is able to take it on his broad shoulders and elevate it.

 

Review Ant-Man and the Wasp by Jonathan Evans

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

Another season another MARVEL movie. I remember a time when we might only get one Superhero movie a year (if that), or at least one MARVEL movie a year, now we are at the rate of two or three a year. What the studio has done which allows itself to be maintained is stuck to style and principles but allow the correct amount of diversity and identity among its many ongoing characters. This is a genre movie like any other, we already understand the basic flow of the narrative, we need just enough surprise, variation and high level of competence to execute the project so it is enjoyable and not stagnant.

The plot of this movie is based on events that are carried over from the previous as well as a little bit of the events of Captain America: Civil War. The original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly) are seeking to rescue Janet Pym (Michelle Pfeiffer) who’s been trapped in the Quantum Realm for years. However, there is a gear in the works because Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), the new Ant-Man is under house arrest.

The humor is the element that is most on-point in this movie. Not since the first Guardians of The Galaxy have I laughed so hard and consistently during a MARVEL movie. Yes, the movies have all had a generous serving of humor and none of them have been unfunny but this one especially tickled me. One particular joke about truth serum stands out.

As the title would imply in this movie is the inclusion of the character The Wasp. She is Hope Pym, she has the same shrinking powers as Ant-Man but comes with wings that greatly help in maneuvering and stingers, gauntlets that shoot paralyzing blasts and are able to expand and shrink objects they hit. She is pretty much superior to Ant-Man, but a job is always easier accomplished with more than one person so he’s along for the ride too.

Causing other problems for the heroes this time is a mysterious specter that is named Ghost. They are named so because they have the mysterious ability to phase through solid matter i.e. walls, cars etc. They wear a white costume with small red, glowing eyes, so they are mysterious and threatening and once we learn they’re the motivation they also become sympathetic. Ghost isn’t as deliciously overpowered as Hella from Thor Ragnorok, or tragic and threatening as Killmonger in Black Panther, but they are a solid character and obstacle for our heroes.

A few ties these movies have taken older actors and for the purposes of flashbacks reverse aged them. They have been working on this technique within a few movies and here we get to see it reach the pinnacle of perfection. We see Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburn look how they did twenty years ago with almost no sign of artificial tampering. Along with that are seeing fully grown adults be shrunk to three feet tall, a regular sized human next to a colossal sized human and even when they are shrunk down huge fat dust particles float around them. There’s also the right mixture of practical-camera effects and giant props.

With the introduction of the growing, it adds another element to the action sequences. The shrinking was also a rich element, two cars can be racing and when you shrink you can go underneath the other vehicle, now mundane objects and be thrown which become obstacles for others to traverse or even straight up block them. Also when the heroes grow the seemingly large threat is now an annoyance. Along with this Scott’s new suit was a rush job so it doesn’t work perfectly. All this abides with the “But and Therefore” mentality towards narrative and action mentality.

One of the key distinguishing elements about this movie is what I liked so much about the first Ant-Man, the smaller scale. Infinity War was such a massive project, with some genuinely dire tones that have a movie that takes place within one city, that is not at risk of being blown up and some funny humor comes as a nice change of passe.

Payton Reed has stepped into this world and characters and made it his. This is the playful, toy mentality chunk of the MARVEL cinematic universe. It is slick, inventive, colorful and fun!

Jonathan Evans

Review Solo: A Star Wars Story by Jonathan Evans

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

 

The problem with any long-lasting franchise is that eventually, all aspects of the characters will have a light shined on them. We have seen so many details revealed about Spider-Man and Batman, their school years, interaction with their parents, childhood memories and traumas. Other movie characters are exempt from this, they come, make their impression and their story ends without having to know every facet of their existence. Take for example the main character of Solo, Han Solo, he made his first appearance in 1977 with the first Star Wars movie and fulfilled an archetype as much as anything but was well defined.

He had his journey through the original trilogy and it ended. Now with the rebirth of the saga as well as making it a franchise get ready for all the details to be dished out for you.

Obviously, for the movie we have a younger portrayal of Han Solo, the role is taken over by Alden Ehrenreich. He reasonably looks like someone who could age into Harrison Ford and has his head of hair and strikes the iconic shooting pose but for a lot of it, he’s hard to buy. Possibly for years and years, our image of Solo has been purely Harrison Ford and to see another be the character is just too hard to wrap our brains around!  He becomes more buyable as the movie progresses, either this was intentional, Ehrenreich got better at the portrayal as they got further into filming or takes a bit of time to adjust to it all.

There are other familiar faces too. First is the large furry companion of Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), he’s the loyal muscle that always has your back. Then we meet the suave, smooth-talking Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover, who is easily one of the best parts to the movie, his dialogue is much like the original character as well as being fun in his own right and he matches Billie Dee Williams performance to a tee and makes it look natural.

Obviously, we get new characters for this journey too. Almost as soon as the movie starts we meet Qi’ra (Emila Clarke), a shrewd beautiful woman from Han’s past that is a survivor like him. There’s the robber Tobias Beckett (Woody Harelson) who becomes a mentor figure and there’s the sassy droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who tenaciously wants equality for all droid kind.

One of the problems with movies like this is that when we see the younger versions of familiar characters we know not only where they go but that they will make it out without a scratch, that really takes the tension out of the scenes. It’s the equivalent of watching someone play a video game and they have permanent invincibility, there’s no investment because there are no stakes. However with the new characters that we don’t see in any of the other movies, we don’t know where their story goes or if it ends here, so there’s still a bit of tension.

To get back to my opening statement, we were introduced to Han Solo and his large furry friend Chewbacca rather briskly in the original trilogy and there were hints of his past but it didn’t really matter because we had the present story to deal with. We could wonder and create our own ideas about the details of their relationship, of how exactly their first encounter went but it is something that is relevant to the individual, now this movie is here to solidify it.

The world of Star Wars is a recognisable one on a purely visual basis. It has incredible technology that is beyond us and that technology is not very well polished, it is a little rusted and has a layer of dust over it. There is plant life that grows in larger and weirder shapes, the clothing is practical but more stylish at the same time and the technology itself has an oldfashioned style in its plating and construction. For this movie, we do indeed see the Millenium Falcon but it is not the one we know, it is newer and shinier than we have seen in previous movies.

This is a very muted movie in terms of its color pallet. In the opening segment we are in a dingy city of nearly all grays, then we go underground and everything has a blue filter to it, then we get out and gray again, they were in a battlefield of gray and mud and then a snowy mountain range of whites and grays. There are a few more colorful environments in the movie but even then the color never really seems to pop. It seems like a strange choice being that it’s such a stylized world and known for its use of color.

The movie makes no bones about this being a part of a franchise (one of the most recognizable and profitable of all-time). Through the viewing of the movie, you will hear and recognize things that you can connect back to the original saga. But the movie still works by itself in terms of never stopping to make those references and having other moments be there for legitimate plot reasons.

If you go seeking an energetic Science Fiction Action movie then you will get that and all that comes with it. If you go wanting to see and hear things that are connected to Star Wars because you love it, then this movie is for you. Whichever category you fall into (or even both) you will be satisfied.

Jonathan Evans

 

Review Deadpool 2 by Jonathan Evans

The first Deadpool movie was rude, crude and meta as all hell. It was juvenile but also revealed in how juvenile it was. It knew what it was and poked fun of itself as much as the Superhero genre, which made it hard to dislike. Now the sequel is here with more money and characters.

At the start of my review of the first movie, I made a point that Deadpool was not a hero due to his lack of moral center and just being a hired gun. It seems like this movies goal is to definitely make him a hero, one of the lewdest you’ll ever find, but a hero none-the-less.

The movie opens with Deadpool (Ryan Renolds) being a hired gun and killing all sorts of over-the-top villains, he makes it home to his beloved girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) when she is shocking shot down before him! What follows is a parody of a Bond opening that is just as shocked that they made such a decision. Deadpool then falls into depression and is pulled into joining the X-Men as a trainee, when they need to deal with a young rouge mutant Russell Collins/Firefist (Julian Dennison) this go very bad and both of them end up in Jail.

Things only elevate and complicated with the arrival of Cable, a gun-toting, robotic armed mercenary from the future. He is played by Josh Brolin, who also plays the antagonist in Avengers: Infinity War, this is a bit odd and they do indeed use it for material. Brolin himself is playing the role like he wasn’t in a comedy at all, he is playing this character as if this movie was a serious time traveling science fiction movie. This adds to the comedy greatly, he is the straight man that contrasts with the cast that are virtually living cartoon characters. He doesn’t really look that out of place with a glowing eye and robotic arm but through the interactions you see he’s is out of place.

Other players from the last movie return. Firstly there is the reliable taxi driver Dopinder (Karan Soni) that now wants to be an active member of Deadpool’s business. Weasel (T. J. Miller), the very snarky barman that get’s a little more wrapped up in the drama of the plot this time around. My favorite character throughout these movies Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who may have even less screentime than the last movie but like the last one every time she appears she makes me laugh, so I’ll take it. Then there’s the big, friendly Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), who continues to try and make Deadpool the best person he can be, it’s an uphill battle.

Along for the ride are also new characters. Most prominent is Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose superpower is luck, this lends itself to some well-constructed and creative action set-pieces that are well thought out and executed, and she is a fun character in her own right. There is also Bedlam (Terry Crews), able is dish-out large amounts of power, Shatterstar (Lewis Tan) is an alien who is apparently better than humans in every way, Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård) has the ability to spit acidic saliva and then theres Peter (Rob Delaney) he’s just a regular guy that showed up and they decided to take him along for the ride. There is also Vanisher, but the least I say about them the better so just go and see the movie.

I didn’t mention it in the last movie and it’s still present here so I’ll make up for it. Ryan Renolds costume in the movie covers his face completely and uses that limitation to emote through his entire body. From subtle head nods to iconic body posing and moments of energetic movements he brings the character to life.

I know that this isn’t the most sophisticated of comedy but sometimes that doesn’t matter and the results speak for themselves. I laughed during the movie, multiple times and somewhere rather big laughs. As did the audience at the screening so it seems to be hitting the right nerve.

This is an R rated action comedy that is meant for teenage to young men. It knows this and revels in who the character was made for and is still sharply shot and the script is solid. This is much more emotionall grounded than the last movie and I would say after the journey Deadpool is a hero, not the best example of one but there we are.