Tag Archives: Jonathan Evans

Review Captain America Civil War by Jonathan Evans

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When an irresistible force such as you, meets an old immovable object like me, you can bet just as sure as you live. Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give.
Frank Sinatra, Something’s Gotta Give

Captain America Civil War

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The reason Superheroes have been able to endure for so long is because they have always told the next story. Sure Superman will always wear a big red cape and fly, Batman will always don the cowl and punch muggers but there is still a long lasting continuity to these characters and in order to keep them going the villains need to find new ways of fighting them and the consequences of their action have to catch up to them. Civil War is a movie about two paths laying before superheroes, one must be taken, the problem is that the heroes are also people, ergo flawed. So they differ on which is the right path and truly believe they are right, so they will stand by their beliefs to the end.

Early on we get one of those sharply worded, briskly shot action scenes, we see a bad guy with a cool name and an equally cool outfit steal a biological weapon, he is stopped but at a cost of a hospital exploding. This is the event that gets the nations of the world to sit the superheros down and talk. All the events in recent years, The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Winter Solider and now this have had far reaching devastation with a lot of collateral damage.

The “Sokovia Accords” will be a special jury lead by multiple people from the United Nations that will determine what situation requires the superheroes attention. Tony. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is for it and understands that with such power as they wield there must be safeguards to keep them in check. But Steve, Captain America (Chris Evans) argues that such boards usually act with a vested interest, also what if they don’t get together and give them permission in time? He stands by the belief that “the best hands are still our own.” So it becomes a case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, Tony wants to go forward with this new system but Steve is unconvinced and does not budge in his beliefs.

Before this review goes any further I feel it’s important for my own feelings be known. Captain America has always been my favourite character in the MARVEL movies and I was on his team before the movie came out and was still on his side during it. But there still remains a valid argument for either side. This could have been a simple case of one are the idiots the others are smart, these are obviously the good guys and this is who we’re meant to root for. But no, they go the more adult and interesting route where each member on each side is there for their own reasons. Neither is the villain, just a clash of ideologies that either is willing to fight for. There is a villain that lurks in the shadows who sets-up all the pieces to fight, but I do question if we really needed it.

The writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely know how to write with clarity and engaging characters. This is a movie that’s over two hours long so there’s enough time for everything, but they operate on a method where every scene is necessary and we know everything, or at least enough going into each action scene. In the dialogue scenes there are no wasted words or moments so you understand the characters very quickly, then we are able to get invested in the action. It is on-par with Mad Max: Fury Road.

The cast of characters in this movie is immense. It has most of the per-established characters from the previous movies and introduces new players that will most likely get their own movie and other moments in later films. But it works on the level of the actual comics now. We see Ant-Man, understand him and then will probably want to go back and checkout his movie. Also in the short time they have with everything else going on we get characters like Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spiderman (Tom Holland) and are able to engage with them through very efficient directing and screenwriting.

As said we need to know the people fighting so we are invested, but good action is still essential. For a good action scene we need to know the layout of the environment and understand who did what when, if we loose track of the basics of what is happening on-screen then it simply becomes lights and noise. However if we keep seeing the same set-up it will become stagnant regardless, the Russo brothers know this so they don’t make the action tedious, they add unique twists or perspectives on their action set-pieces so that its something more engaging. For example a stairway fight, two combatants have enhanced body power so they can do more extreme movements, also one is willing to kill while the other isn’t.

And still, even with all these stakes and dark moments in the movie, we are still treated to comedy and moments of levity. Even here they understand that superheroes are meant to be characters where we can feel good and have fun. There are more than a few examples of movies that cram too much stuff in it just leaves the audience confused and frustrated. Batman v Superman and Jupiter Ascending come to mind. But Civil War is able to so efficiently explain and deliver the characters for the conflict, without necessarily needing to see the previous movies (though you will want to after seeing it) and keep you engaged at all time and with everyone.

Civil War takes out the villain aspect of these movies and puts hero against hero, not in a battle of good verses evil, but a fight for how to serve the greater good. And the drama of these two characters coming to blows isn’t from that mere fact it is happening, but that it was always meant to happen.

Review The Jungle Book (2016) by Jonathan Evans

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The Jungle Book was always a story structured around set-piece moments. We have a little boy as out fish-out-of-water protagonist that comes across creatures that he doesn’t know about and must overcome. What matters is that the world is defined and that characters that inhabit itare memorable as well as likeable and we must have a few moments of awe within the run-time.

This is still the classic set-up a small child being found in the jungle and, for whatever reason, a panther named Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) finds him and instead of eating him, takes him to a pack of wolves, that also decide to not eat him and raise him as one of their own.

Mowgli in terms of his design with his messy black hair and red pants is right out of the original Disney movie. The little boy playing him is Neel Sethi, who unfortunately just isn’t that good. He somehow is able to speak clear English with an American accent but also speaks it with that hammy way that you’d expect from a minor. How bad is it? Possibly in the range of Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace, however we should all keep-in-mind that acting requires concentration and intelligence at a level that we wouldn’t expect from youth. But he can traverse the jungle sets well and interact with the C.G.I. character convincingly.

Eventually there comes a very harsh drought, and a truce is declared among the animals and they gather at a watering hole. Both predator and prey drink, knowing that none can hurt the other. But one sits uneasy, the dreaded tiger Shere Kahn. He has his intense distaste for man and cannot abide having a man in the jungle, he abides by the law but vows that when the water returns, he shall take Mowgli’s life.

Shere Kahn as a villain is probably the most effective element of the movie. He is convincingly rendered through the computer technology and is of course a tiger, which are naturally threatening. He actually has to do very little, most of his impact comes from what is implied, he has a few moments to establish he’s a physical threat and the rest is him being close and knowing that he can rip you apart at any second. And it’s all brought to life with Idris Elba’s vocals, both calming and manipulative and then moving to raging wrath.

So with a tiger that will no doubt carry out his threat Mowgli must leave and be taken the mans village. And of course the journey does not go smoothly, there are obstacles and distractions. The most prominent is the big lazy bear Baloo, played rather well by Bill Murray. Murray injects his classic dry sarcastic, layedback wit in this sloth bear and it is a match.

When we get to King Louie the movie honestly just stops. He is played by Christopher Walken who has such a distinguished voice that it is impossible to think of anything or anyone else. He has long fur that drapes down from his body like a fur coat and sits in his crumbled castle in the jungle surrounded by fruit, treasure and dark shadows giving him a feel of Colonel Kurt from Apocalypse Now. You really do stop thinking about this boy and the tiger that after him and ts all about this giant orange ape being voiced by one of the most unique actors ever to grace the screen.

There are moments in the writing where it just seemed weird and unnecessary. Most of it works as an adaptation, or at least to give us the same moments but in different ways. But others where it seeks to flesh-out the backstory of these character and the choices seem so odd. There were moments of exposition where they forgo and it seemed like a good idea, but they explain them later for some reason, as well as plot-hole I noticed immediately regarding how Baloo and Mowgli meet.

This is a much more dark, threatening interpretation of this story than we have seen before (I do also admit to having not read the book). These animals may talk but they most certainly do still have their teeth and claws. There is even a transition scene with the giant snake Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) which I genuinely think is inspired!

This is not a movie for the younger children that would have enjoyed the original 2D animated movie. This is a much harsher world with more obvious consequences. Is is too tough for any children? I would say that for children twelve or above. The story is still the story but told in a different way and with some very strong elements and others that don’t necessarily let the rest down but do noticeably weaken it. But either way, we still have a movie that has a classic story at it’s center with classic cinematography, good C.G.I. and strong performances from nearly everyone.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars

Review Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice by Jonathan Evans

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Could this movie ever live up to its hype? Did it ever stand a chance against all the expectation that the fanboys have built up in their own minds and have fantasized about for years? No it did not. But it did stand a chance of still being good. Any movie has that chance.

At numerous times during this movie you will either be confused or have to hold yourself back from laughing at the imagery that I can only attest to Zack Snyder believing he has artistic ability (which he does not).

The big deal that everyone has been talking about in anticipation, and will no doubt be thinking about while watching and shall discuss after viewing is that this is the first live action, cinematic depiction of a movie with both Superman and Batman on-screen at the same time. Most of the movie is build up to this and when they do interact (if you can call it that) they are just seeing who can be more macho, so we have two immature insecure males placed together. Ben Affleck was a unique choice to say the least, he does bring a dark stoic nature and presence to the character. You see how the years of brutal crime fight have worn away sympathy and the raw anger that bubbles under the surface. This is also the first time we are shown the grey and black Batman suit. Something we’ve seen plenty of times in the comics and animated universe but a first for live action so it helps to distinguish itself.

It is a staple for superheroes not to kill. It’s expected because they are made for children. I expect optimism while watching or reading anything superhero related. They can still be mature and deal with tougher subject matter, but they should always maintain their wholesomeness. At least with the established, long lasting ones. In Man of Steel Superman broke his most sacred of vows and killed his enemy. Now in this movie Batman is directly responsible for killing many of his enemies. Flat-out murder, without any regret or having to deal with any conflict that makes him a mass murderer. Those wholesome, optimistic days really seem to be long gone.

All the characterization has faults; some are more competent than others. But the greatest failure goes to Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Luthor is one of the most brilliant, controlling as well as enduring villains from superhero comics a character with a dark warped but also brilliant mind. This is a weirdo that only has people around him because he pays them and/or is important.

Ever since the MARVEL have been gaining all kinds of success with their line of movies DC has been trying desperately to replicate it. They want to have a series of movies that build-up to Avengers (i.e. Justice League). But they lack the patience and careful planning that made that work. MARVEL gave each member of the team their own movie to establish themselves and built to the story that would call for them to be united. This is a forced hodgepodge of references, characters and story elements that shouldn’t be in the same movie resulting in a deformed cluttered mess.

Included in the cast is the first big screen, live action representation of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). She has things to prove but I believe her as a competent warrior that knows how to navigate her way around a dance floor and a conversation with anyone. There is groundwork set-up and room for further development (within her own film)

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The action scenes lack all forms of investment, we haven’t grown to care about the characters that are bashing together like plastic toys so no outcome matters. There were clearly to moments Zack Snyder cared the most about, he obviously didn’t care about making them sympathetic or even believable. What we have is a juvenile boy that has been given hundreds of millions of dollars to enact his overblown playtime sessions that he would come up with while playing with his action figure on the carpet. With all the depth and nuance that comes with this i.e. none. They are loud, flashy and with no care for anything grounded or with emotion behind them. Just noise.

When the climactic scene comes and the two icons engage in battle you will have already abandoned any sense of caring. It isn’t even the last battle in the movie, when that finally rears its ugly head you might as well order take-out or message your friends. Hell, read what the person next or behind you is ordering for take-out, it will be more interesting than the barrage of lights and loud noises abusing your senses from the screen.

The hype was impossible to live up to. But there was always a chance for this movie to be competent and be well executed. The acting is fine, from some, the scale is grand. And from there on I fail to think of anything else redeeming about the movie. It is simply a juvenile, waste of time and resources. These characters are capable and should be used for much better entertainment.

Rating: 1/2 star out of 4