The Reviews Are In: Captain America Civil War

captain-america-civil-war-robert-downey-jr-chris-evansMost superhero movies (actually, most movies in general) are more than willing to do the ethical legwork for you. The bad guys (easily distinguished by facial scars, a dark color pallet, or customary bad attitude) are always wrong, and the good guys (identifiable by their steely-eyed commitment to the greater good and general dishy-ness) are always right. Even those films that dip their toes into moral relativism always eventually find their way to the safer, more solid narrative ground of Righteous Hero v. Dastardly Villain. But what happens when everybody looks like a good guy? What is expected of us as an audience when everyone’s actions, including the guy in spandex we came to see, can be understood as right or wrong? For once, maybe the question of morality is open to our interpretation.

Such is the case with the third Captain America stand alone, Civil War. The film opens like 3049303-56d4dc054b73ayou’d expect: good guys going after bad guys. But when the good guys (here represented by Cap, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Falcon) make a mistake with fatal consequences, there is a global outcry for a little accountability, in the form of UN sanctioned panel that would oversee the Avengers from here on out. Some, like Iron Man, Black Widow, and Vision, see this as a necessary compromise. Others, namely Cap, Scarlet Witch, and Falcon, see it as an undermining of what the Avengers are supposed to be- a group a super friends with the autonomy needed to keep the world safe from handsome alien conquistadors and shapely, artificially intelligent robots. The result can only be described as a, ahem, civil war.

1401x788-Captain-America-Trailer.jpgIf you’re worried that this movie sounds too much like a talky political drama, rest easy. Civil War has even more than the usual amount of ass-kicking. But what’s really cool about this movie is how the Russo Brothers managed to take out almost all the cartoonishness of superhero violence. There’s a scene, pretty early in the film, where Captain America falls from a ledge and gets beaten around like a rag doll before making an uncharacteristically graceless landing. And, even more surprising, he doesn’t immediately bounce back. Right away we get the feeling that, in this film at least, violence has consequences. And unlike many other action movies of it’s kind, it feels as though the fight scenes are built around the set pieces, and not the other way around. The characters have to adapt to and use their surroundings in a way that makes the idea of a super-soldier and a guy in a cat-suit going at it feel a little more grounded.

Also, I’d like to take this moment to mention Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, andbuc0410-trl-v0141027-173551 everything I want to say can be summed up in one onamonapia: meow. Seriously, don’t change a thing.

In fact, there isn’t one weak link in this cast. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is predictably wonderful, Robert Downey Jr. is invariably the coolest guy on screen, and Chris Evans
continues to give Captain America a depth and charm that has managed to turned one of Marvel’s most stoic (and frankly, boring) heroes into a surprisingly relatable  dude.

In this humble Fangirl’s opinion, Civil War is the best superhero movie we’ve gotten thus far. It’s beautifully made, and asks more of its audience than to simply Captain-America-Civil-War-Movie-Wallpaper-5go along for the ride. You feel obligated to choose a side, and for once, it might not be the same side as the guy with his name on all the posters. Right and wrong is a matter of perspective and actions have far reaching consequences. Does that sound a little familiar?

Whitney Weldon

 

 

 

The Reviews Are In (Late): The Jungle Book

THE JUNGLE BOOK

As much as you might like the recent string of Disney live-action remakes, I think we can all agree that none of them have improved on the original story. Even if you loved Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, it’s not about to dethrone it’s cartoon predecessor. That being said, if enjoyable but ultimately underwhelming Disney remakes are the rule, the The Jungle Book is the exception. The
story and visuals are so improved that I left the theater, not Jonesing for the original version, MV5BMTkyNTUxMDczMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTUzNDA4NjE@._V1_but wanting to buy myself another ticket for this one.

It’s surprising that a movie with the combined voice talents of Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken and Ben Kingsley could find a young lead with enough screen presence to balance the screaming star-power of the supporting cast. Luckily Neel Sethi is the living incarnation of Mowgli, right down to the little red jungle shorts. He’s as precious as a little wolf puppy, which, in the context of the movie, is the highest compliment I can give.

It’s worth mentioning that this movie is definitely scarier than the 1967 cartoon you screen_shot_2016-02-21_at_10_16627afe.jpegremember. King Louie (Christopher Walken) is genuinely horrifying, as the family who sat behind me in the theater can testify. Likewise, Idris Elba’s Shere Khan is equally impressive; it’s not the first time I’ve been attracted to an anthropomorphized cartoon animal, and unfortunately it probably won’t be the last. Point is… meow. Pun intended.

I originally wasn’t sold on Disney’s plan to capitalize on former cinematic glory by maxresdefaultremaking beloved classics. It seemed like a self-aggrandizing re-mix of the company’s
greatest hits. But if the films to come have as much heart and as much charm as The Jungle Book, it’s a stance I may need to reconsider.

Whitney Weldon

The Reviews Are In: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

fz-01350_01355_compThere are so many reasons why Ellen and I could never review movies professionally. Number one has to be the fact that objectivity continues to elude us. No one ever said “Oh, Ellen and Whitney? I know those chicks. They are straight-up dispassionate“. (If you read quote that in Tracy Morgan’s voice, then we are all on the same page). My point is, I walked into The Winter Soldier pretty much determined to love it. There honestly was no possible outcome that involved me not going gonzo over this movie. So you can imagine my relief when it actually turned out to be genuinely good.

Ok, yes it was kinda long and the ending had more set up than an Adobe update and some characters (COUGH Agent Thirteen COUGH) had no reason to be there at all, aside from the aforementioned set up. But honestly, unless you are  Aunt Linda that probably won’t bother you.

It’s hard to synopsize this movie because the potential for spoilers is pretty high.fz-03909_r In a nutshell, Cap learns that SHIELD may not be entirely on the up and up, even for a subversive spy organization. That’s his real conflict; the titular bad guy is more of a complication. A super, super hot complication.

This film also had some of the best character moments in the franchise so far. Early on there is a scene between Peggy Carter and Steve that will emotionally decimate you. I mean it. In other great news, we get see Black Widow do more than just kick and quip. The ex-KGB mama jamma gets to finally open up in ways that the other movies haven’t afforded.  She and Cap also punctuate the movie’s many action sequences with some bone-dry banter, most of which is about Steve really needing to get some. (Which begs the question: are we supposed to believe that Steve is still, umm, untapped, so to speak? Exactly how far are we supposed to suspend disbelief!?) Now that Winter Soldier is a record-breaking hit, we can only hope that Captain America is finally feeling the love. 65645c7d979a9234280f6294313ae050

Verdict: I thought it was pretty great. What do you think, Cap?

-Whitney