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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Suicide Squad (2016) Movie Review



Overall verdict: 6/10

The Good: Amazing chemistry among cast, perfect portrayal of comic book characters, well written dark humour, intense action.

The Bad: Mediocre music, uninspired directing style, garish cinematography, erratic pacing, shallow narrative, never delves into deeper themes.

3D Readiness: Post production 3D conversion. Murky cinematography and frantic camera work do not translate well to 3D

*************Review*************
Villains get the spotlight in SUICIDE SQUAD, a movie which is in as much of a dismal situation as its protagonists with an almost bipolar personality caused by an indecision on a proper tone or themes. What could have been a gripping ensemble piece about camaraderie among unlikely companions forged in the fires of conflict becomes yet another loud, messy, superficial blockbuster affair. A movie about second chances and an exploration of the minds behind the monsters that are these supervillains dials back on all this potential depth in the name of making itself more “fun”.
From the get go, SUICIDE SQUAD had a tall order to tackle. It had to introduce not one, not two, but a whopping 9 characters into this cinematic universe called the DC Extended Universe or DCEU. Not only that, they had to go from bad guy to good guy and settle their individual character arcs within the span of 2 hours. This is a team movie but we had barely known the team members. In a flurry of disjointed flashbacks and flash forwards, we are brought up to speed on the history of our characters leading up to their current situation as patsies recruited by the ruthless Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to be a black ops task force in the service of the government. Marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), mutated strongman Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), self-blaming pyrokinetic gangster El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), master of ropes Slipknot (Adam Beach), crazy Aussie with a pony obsession (it makes sense in context) Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), crazier little psychopath Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), all led by the stern no-nonsense Captain Rick Flagg and his sword wielding assistant Katana.
Immediately apparent is the tremendous chemistry among the cast. Each role is masterfully played and feel exactly like the comic book brought to life. Of particular note are Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and veteran Will Smith’s Deadshot. The respective actors nail the various facets of these complex characters perfectly, portraying them as layered individuals hiding their inner brokenness behind a façade of bravado and false smiles. That being said, only Deadshot and Harley get any decent development. The others are relegated to being a supporting cast with barely an arc much less any character depth. A pity though, seeing as how colourful a cast it was, and how intriguing their backstories from the comics were.

For their first mission, the squad is sent into Midway City to investigate an apparent terrorist attack. Instead what they find is a supernatural invasion like something out of Ghostbusters. Faceless humanoid zombie things roam the streets while special effects mumbo jumbo continually pours out of a peculiar train station. Slowly it is revealed that there is more to this attack than meets the eye which seems to have a personal connection to one of the squad. But first, they would have to fight their way across the city in some of the messiest, uninspired fight sequences filmed in recent years all set to a bland generic score and shot in a haphazard manner with each frame saturated in garish purple, oily blacks and acid green.

Oh and the Joker (Jared Leto) is in this movie somewhere, appearing occasionally throughout the movie like a wheezing Wiley Coyote intent on saving his lost love Harley. We really do not get much about him other than he is a mob boss, kills people, and has a disturbing as heck chuckle.
SUICIDE SQUAD is muddled by erratic pacing for the most part, brought about by the sloppy editing that looks more like a music video and less like a movie. Perhaps that was the point when they packed the film full of pop songs from likes of Eminem, Rick James and Skrillex; it is a feature length compilation of music videos in which the characters actually stop for an intermission to get a drink right in the middle of a war.

Here is a movie that is unable to decide on its identity, no doubt brought about by the executive meddling that plagued its production. It feels like it was originally a much darker, sombre, character centred movie. Such a film would have been more in line with Director David Ayers’ style, having done the brutal war movie Fury. Instead, it is pumped full of dark humour which, though well executed, takes away any complexity or meaningful themes that the movie could have incorporated. It is so superficial that even the camaraderie comes out of nowhere. One moment they are complete strangers, and all of a sudden they are best friends. A character claims that the squad is his new family but nowhere do we see them truly bond.

SUICIDE SQUAD is saved mainly by the amazing actors and actresses, bringing our favourite comic book villains to life in a way that makes us want to know more about them, their histories, and their stories. They bring a tremendous energy to the screen and snippets of the characters’ development and how the varying personalities play off each other are sprinkled throughout the film. Perhaps if it was not mercilessly butchered by editors, SUICIDE SQUAD had potential to be a great ensemble piece digging deep into an exploration of the criminal psyche and a tragic tale of loss and redemption. Instead it was re-cut into a shallow comedy filled mess with bland directing, murky production design, and ended up with the trailers being better than the movie itself.

*************Review End*************

Entertainment: B-
Story: C-
Acting: A
Characters: B-
Music: C-
Replay value: B-
"Brains": C-

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme (2007) Direct to Video Animated Movie


Overall verdict: 8/10

The Good: Focused story, ample character development, beautiful art, mature tone, relatable protagonist, does not pander to children, seamless incorporation of Asian martial arts influences

The Bad: Mediocre music, inconsistent animation, strays from the magical roots of the source material,

3D Readiness: None



**********Review**********

As we look forward to the live action Doctor Strange movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch, we take a look back at an alternate retelling of the marvellous magician's origin story: Marvel animation's DOCTOR STRANGE: THE SORCERER SUPREME (2007). Where the marvel cinematic universe's live action entry seems to bank on star power, trippy special effects and comedy, this 2007 animated movie presents a more sombre tale of a proud man brought low by unfortunate circumstances yet clawed his way from the depths to master skills beyond his wildest imagination. All this wrapped in a beautiful package that boasts unmistakable Asian influences.

DOCTOR STRANGE: THE SORCERER SUPREME tells of our titular Stephan Strange, an arrogant self-serving world-class doctor who left empathy in a tragic past. If it were not for well placed emotional flashbacks to his past, one would almost feel Strange deserved to get into that accident and deserved to have his hands crippled. 

Having exhausted all resources to cure his disability, Stephan Strange stumbles upon a  monastery in the mysterious Himalayas. There he is given a chance to heal physically, mentally and spiritually. Little did he suspect that the monastery is home to a secret cadre of sorcerers who hunt demons that venture into our world in an effort to prevent a powerful entity from invading earth. Finding a renewed purpose, Stephan trains alongside them and soon masters their magical arts in record time, much to the annoyance of their leader, Baron Mordo. Strange and Mordo soon become rivals but the jealousy boiling within Mordo would lead him to drastic measures in order to best Strange.

The whole premise of a group of magicians training in seclusion and secretly defending earth from demonic invasion hearkens back to many Chinese fairy tales and Japanese folk myths. Both the doctor's personal story of his fall and renewal and the epic extra dimensional invasion arc blend seamlessly into one another, creating a very well balanced show with strong action, interesting characters and a very emotional story.

The script fully fleshes out the good doctor's character, focusing on his development and painting both Strange and Mordo as "ying and yang" opposites: both were great men, humbled by circumstances, but while one overcame his negative emotions, another slid deeper into mad obsession. The rest of the characters are just stock characters there for the sake of being there and to showcase some very creative character designs and magical powers. Thankfully, the talented cast manage to make each voice unique and very professionally acted, even down to the Asian accents which could have turned out corny in less talented hands. 

DOCTOR STRANGE: THE SORCERER SUPREME boasts a distinct asian touch in not just the story, but also the art and animation. Character designs look like they had leaped from the pages of hong kong kung fu comics, characters adopt oriental martial arts movies while casting their spells. There is also an emphasis placed on the weapon duels which storyboarded like something out of Japanese anime.  

The backgrounds are lush and very intricately designed with attention paid to every single detail, be it reflection in puddles or light shining off metals in the background. Character designs retain their slightly stylized Asian look that was prevalent in the Iron Man animated movie but the level of detail has been taken up a notch. More heavy blacks and a greater contrast of colors are used for an overall more dynamic look and feel. 

Sadly this attention to detail does make it fall into the same trap most Japanese anime do: the animation suffers. Some fight scenes devolve into a low frame rate, making for some choppy movements which should have otherwise been fluid in order to best convey the grace and agility of the martial arts. The 3D animation used for vehicles and otherworldly creatures also stood out at a times, looking very out of place and not blended as well with the 2D art. 

Overall Dr Strange is a very enjoyable movie. Complex and emotionally charged enough for the discerning adult who would appreciate a superhero origin story heavier on drama than comedy. Kids may not appreciate this though as the violent and often dark content, plus lack of levity, may turn them away. For the discerning adult and animation fan, DOCTOR STRANGE: THE SORCERER SUPREME is a likeable balance of believable characters, emotional drama and epic fantasy action with an Asian twist coupled with detailed art and impressive acting. 
**********Review End*********



Entertainment: A-
Art: A-
Animation: C+
Story: A-
Voice Acting (English): B+
Characters: B+
Music: D+
Replay value: A-
"Brains": B-

Saturday, June 4, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) movie review


Overall verdict: 7/10

A disappointing villain and lack of thematic depth overshadows the fun, action packed conclusion to the second X-men trilogy.

The Good: fantastic acting, top notch special effects, rousing soundtrack, paves the way for, easy-to-follow straightforward narrative, well written script with witty humour 

The Bad: lack of excitement in battle sequences, dated stunt work, shallow superficial characters, plot points seem repeated from previous movies

3D Readiness: None

*******Review******


The word "apocalypse" brings to mind an end-of-the world event of biblical proportions. X-MEN APOCALYPSE brings to mind some Japanese anime and a yearning for the better X-men movies of the past. The third in this "new trilogy" that began with X-MEN FIRST CLASS, the franchise reached its high point in the epic X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURE PAST but now tips back down to a rather typical tale of good vs evil intertwined with the usual hero's journey. Thankfully the masterful execution of dialogue and acting chops saves this film from sinking into mediocrity.

Our story begins Ten years after the mutant Magneto aka Eric Lensherr nearly murdered the president on national television only to be foiled at the last instant by fellow mutant shapeshifter Mystique and his former Friend and psychic Charles Xavier. Now Eric has settled in a life of isolation with his new Wife and child, Mystique has become a legend among the mistreated mutant populace Travelling the globe to free mutants from abuse, while Charles has his school for young mutants up and running. His newest pupils are the aloof Jean Grey, a powerful telekinetic who can barely control her abilities, and the lonely Scott Summers who has been cursed with equally uncontrollable powers that fire laser beams from his eyes. Mystique breaks up an illegal mutant fight club in Germany and rescues a young teleporter, cursed with a blue devilish appearance, named Kurt Wagner. So........do you follow me so far? Great, because into all of these plot threads comes Apocalypse, an ancient Egyptian mutant able to manipulate inanimate objects on a molecular level. He awakens after a Long sleep and seeks to re-establish his godlike status in the world.


That is a lot of plot threads. Fortunately or unfortunately it does not require much inferring or complex thinking to follow the story. It is very simple and it is in its simplicity that it loses out on the richness of character than past xmen movies had. Our characters are all reduced to two dimensional archetypes each with familiar story arcs. So familiar in fact that the whole movie is a pastiche of plot points taken from past xmen movies. Eric is the grief stricken blood knight who goes evil with vengeance when tragedy strikes, again. Scott jean and Kurt are the inexperienced loners who have to work together to overcome their challenges, a little like pyro, Bobby drake (ice man) and kitty pryde (shadow cat) in X-men 2. Mystique replaces wolverine as the badass wanderer who is thrown into a leadership position to guide our young loners. Xavier is once again captured and the X-men's home base is compromised, again like X-MEN 2. Powerful mutant with delusions of godhood and a gang of loyal followers is Apocalypse this time replacing magneto's role in the first 3 xmen movies. Call it homage or call it cliche, I feel that this story manages to toe the line between familiar and fresh. The familiar elements gives us a sense of the revolving nature of conflict, that history repeats despite the best intentions. The fresh elements of course add new facets to a film which could have otherwise been a complete bore, thanks to the slow burn nature of the plot which mostly sees both good guys and bad guys gathering their key players for the final showdown. Those who can appreciate a slow build up would love this while those who need their immediate action fix would be left disappointed.


Divisive might be the best word to describe this movie. When the action does come, it is a special effects spectacle of mutant powers on display where everyone.......pretty much stands around shooting things at each other. Oh look, the villain is getting the upper hand! Let's shoot more! Where physical stunts and fights come, they are a thrill to behold except the dated wire work which feels artificial. Interspersed between these divisive battles are particular scenes of movie magic. Quicksilver (last see in DAYS OF FUTURE PAST) returns and we get to see the full extent of his powers once again only on a larger scale. And at least this time he has a purpose in the story other than being a just a miraculous attempt. But as mentioned earlier his motivations are touched on but not explored. His character is simplified into yet another archetype.


Beneath the visual spectacle, the movie under utilises its cast of characters. Ty Sheridan's Scott Summers could have been great as the new audience surrogate, going from meek bullied loser to taking his first steps as confident leader of the X-Men. Instead he is also shoved into the background after his introduction. Kodi-smith mcfee's more feline looking Nightcrawler is also another intriguing character sidelined. Instead we get more Charles xavier and more Eric playing out their character drama like star crossed lovers. Don't get me wrong, they are fantastic actors, especially Michael Fassbender completely nailing the tragedy of Eric's character arc. But their story came to a decent close in the last movie and this one just feels like more of the same.

Apocalypse himself is a villain that is as equally divisive as the movie itself. On one hand, it seemed that the creators were going for the "all powerful but frail" type of villain ala emperor Palpatine of Star Wars. The snake-like menace that Oscar Isaac exudes through his sinister delivery is betrayed by a design that borders on corny. Oversized platform boots, plastic looking Armour and an ill defined set of powers all downplay the threatening presence of the villain. His motivations could have been much deeper. A commentary on modern commercialism replacing the religions of old perhaps as the new "cult following"? Or a criticism of humanity's arrogance and self glorifying nature? Maybe even a critique on how common folk are quick to idolise mortal "false gods" of the influential and powerful? No, no and no. None of that thematic depth here. Apocalypse is merely your Saturday morning cartoon variety villain who wants to destroy the world to rebuild in his image.

It is not a bad movie per se. Visually stunning, an easy-to-follow plot and well cast characters set to a script filled with witty dialogue that does not overdo the comedy. The acting is professional and the music by John Ottman is a grand thematic continuation of But for a grand finale it pales in comparison to films like X-MEN 2 by glossing over its deeper themes of social commentary especially, in the treatment of mutants as an allegory to prejudice against social minorities. It lacks the urgency, high stakes tension and emotional depth of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and the chemistry among the cast is no where near XMEN FIRST CLASS. I would place it as a middling entry into the X-men franchise that succeeds in opening the doors to a whole new generation of X-men movies.
*******Review End*******

Entertainment: A-
Story: C
Acting: B+
Characters: C-
Music: B+
Replay value: B+
"Brains": C+

Monday, May 30, 2016

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008) direct to video animated movie



Overall verdict: 6.5/10

Focusing on the avengers' kids has turned a potentially relevant and deep story into juvenile Saturday morning cartoon fare.

The Good: simple story, some night time scenes of intricate artwork, conveys relevant themes of growing up, excellent voice work

The Bad: Sub-standard animation, generally simplistic art, cliche ridden plot, juvenile writing, 

3D Readiness: None

********Review********* 

The Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes, have been defeated by the machine menace known as Ultron. Presumably the last survivor of that final terrible battle, Iron Man/Tony Stark takes it upon himself to hide the baby children of the Avengers in secret so that Ultron would never find them. He raises them hidden in a underground artificial paradise, constantly spinning them tales about the parents they never knew. Fast forward 13 years later and the children have grown up into fine youngsters, training their individual gifts but longing to find their place in the world. Following a surprise visitation by the Vision and an unfortunate accident, Ultron discovers the location of the Avenger's children and launches an all out attack. Separated from their mentor Iron Man, and on the run, these "Next Avengers" must live up to their family heritage while dealing with their individual inner turmoil and teenage angst.

First off, the story is very intriguing and engaging. It is a whole new world and whole new rules as our Next Avengers step out of their artificial perfect world and into the dystopia that our earth has become. There is a good amount of mystery and tension in the first act as the tragic past is slowly unveiled through stories and flashbacks. But the second part taking place in Ultron City falls a little bit into futuristic cartoon clichés. Machines have dominated the future, an underground resistance movement is made up of a rag tag team of misfits who look culled from every single dystopian genre anime there ever was. The story isn't as intense as the previous marvel animated movies, nor as character focused, and the writing does tend to tip a bit into the juvenile side of things. Although the stakes are high with Ultron having taken over the world, we never get a sense of danger from this adversary. The story feels safe; safe in the fact that it is predictable that good would eventually triumph, safe in the fact that any character "killed" would be back by the end of the movie. 
The Characters are a little less easy to get into than the story. The children are typical kid hero character stereotypes. The irritating youngest brat(Pym), the hot headed slacker turned leader(James), the feisty girl with daddy issues(Toruun), the token African American for political correctness(Azari) and the cold aloof flirty one(Barton). Aside from the clichés their individual story arcs play out very believably. The inner turmoil faced by the heroes alludes to many common problems face by average teenagers nowadays, such as living up to one's parents' expectations and finding a sense of self-identity. These are very heart warming themes that can appeal to young and old alike. Some of the dialogue may be a little too "saturday morning cartoon" for the older teenagers like myself but these superficial shortcomings can be forgiven thanks to good voice acting. It is difficult to believe that they got actual kids to voice the Avengers' children but there you have it: child actors conveying nuance and subtlety like any professional voice actor. These kids may go far in life.

It is in the animation department where this film truly suffers. The animation is very inconsistent here. The art varies from an intricate level of detail  to flat and cheap looking crap with no other detail other than the basic outlines and features. The daytime shots are the worst offender with quality coming across very poorly, not even an ounce of effort in the shading. But some of the night time shots are breathtaking with amazing lighting effects and full use of shadows.

A number of animation short cuts are jarringly visible and the fluidity of the animation usually varies indirectly to the art detail. This leads to a lot of the action lacking the dynamic energy that one would expect from such animated superhero showdowns. Add in the rather generic sounding soundtrack and you get some very underwhelming action. There is one sequence near the end of the movie where quality takes a bit of a jump but it ends up being too little too late. The overall animation of the movie has a low budget look; more fitting for a TV series than a movie. The character designs had a strong American anime feel to them. Not as exaggerated as Teen Titans but more on par with Ben 10.


On a whole, Next Avengers was an enjoyable movie with themes that are easy to relate to and can be watched by an audience of any age above 7. It has themes relevant to those growing up in the shadow of their parents and peers but all this is buried under writing that is more juvenile that i had hoped for. The cliches, simplistic artwork and occasional corny humour do not do NEXT AVENGERS any justice. If it were not for all that and the sub standard animation, I would have given this a higher rating.

********Review End*******

Entertainment: B+
Art: C-
Animation: C
Story: B
Voice Acting (English): B+ 
Characters: C+
Music: C
Replay value: A-
"Brains": B

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ant-Man (2015) movie review




Overall verdict: 6.5/10

A novel concept with potentially grand ideas is belittled into bite sized simplicity, contorted into child friendly comedy and shrunk down to superficial super heroics with no sense of peril or tension.

The Good: Peyton Reed's cool visual style, Paul Rudd's portrayal of the lead character, awesome special effects, refreshingly stylish soundtrack

The Bad: wasted ideas that could have tapped its novel concept, cliche story of zero to hero, weak action, badly placed jokes, ill timed humour, some low quality special effects

3D Readiness: None

**********Review***********
At 11 movies into its interconnected series of comic book live action movies, marvel studios has cemented its fool proof formula since AVENGERS: lots of laughs, simplistic stories, superficial thrills, and more laughs. The deeper themes of earlier marvel movies be damned. Comedy sells and they have cranked that up for ANT MAN. Number 11 in the marvel comics series of movie adaptations. From the massive scope of countrywide destruction in AGE OF ULTRON, marvel tones it down and goes small. Way small. Small in scope, tone, depth and small in the way of fresh ideas.



Incorporating the most groan inducing aspects of the marvel formula, ant man is essentially the shrinking blue collar Iron Man. We have seen this story countless times. The comedic lovable loser down on his luck, trying his darnedest to be a good man and Father to his kid, he gets a godsend opportunity to turn his life around and sticks it to some big shot corporate dude. Meet Scott Lang, ex-master thief looking to turn away from a life of crime. His caricature of a friend tempts him for one more burglary to rob an inventor but Scott ends up discovering a secret invention: an incredible suit belonging to bitter inventor Hank Pym that is able to shrink its user to the size of an Ant. Where Scott sees a horrible mistake, The elderly Hank sees opportunity to outsmart a former protege Darren cross who had ousted Pym from his own company and created the weaponised "yellow jacket" mech suit incorporating pym's shrinking tech. Now Scott lang is given his second chance to be a hero. He breaks out of captivity using his shrinking suit, teams with hank and his Daughter Hope to master its capabilities, and attempts to take down the power hungry Cross who is close to perfecting the yellow jacket weapon.


Remember what I said about small stakes and scope? Ant Man is not about some international incident or some earth shattering invasion. It is a personal and very focused story and that's fine actually. But what causes a terrible dissonance is the way the humour is handled. True to such movies, we have characters in constant life or death situations but they seem to be treating their plight like a playground outing or a pillow fight. Jokes, snarky banter and badly timed comedy abounds without any sense of peril or desperation making it difficult to take the plot seriously.

Or perhaps one isn't supposed to take it seriously? After all, the plot in itself is a mash up of Honey I Shrunk the Kids with some Adam Sandler style comedy. I mean there is this one part where Scott enlarges a pre-shrunken tank and escapes from his pursuers. A tank! But even looking at it from an action comedy perspective still presents some problems. It's not Witty enough to pass as a comedy, Nor thrilling enough as an action movie.


To his credit, director Peyton Reed does some amazing work with the shrinking scenes and the fight scenes involving our pint sized protagonist are definitely a work of special effects genius. Paul Rudd successfully captures the plight of poor Scott lang with a very earnest performance, though at times overdoing the jokes a bit. The score by Christophe Beck is also of particular note, eschewing the increasingly cliched action Beats of past marvel scores for something closer to a 1960s spy thriller.

In the greater scheme of things, ANT MAN presents many intriguing concepts,l. Big ideas that were hampered by small minded execution and equally small minded reliance on cheap comedy belittling what could have been intelligent storytelling with cliche after cliche. A sprightly little movie that would be right at home as a family comedy if you took out the shrinking.
************Review End**********

Entertainment: A
Story: C-
Acting: A-
Characters: B-
Music: B+
Replay value: B-
"Brains": C-

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Captain America: Civil War (2016) movie review

 

Overall verdict: 8.5/10

The Good: Perfect acting by the main cast, touches on deeper socio-political themes, intense action, more serious tone compared to past marvel movies, good pacing that balances character development with action

The Bad: Relies heavily on past movie continuity and character development, some fake looking action that seems sped-up,  poorly placed humour that kills dramatic mood, Mediocre music, deeper themes slowly sidelined

3D Readiness: Post production 3D conversion. Quick cuts and shakey camera do not lend well to 3D or iMax viewing

******************************Review*****************************


Following a series of battles and a fatal error in a Mission that saw much collateral damage, the world finally calls for regulation on the superhero team known as the Avengers. Facing an uncertain future, the avengers are split on ideological grounds with captain America aka Steve rogers opposing regulation and iron man aka Tony stark supporting it. What begins as arguments soon morphs into rivalry, then escalates into conflict and ultimately battles. Into this conflict comes The Black Panther, a superhero from Africa who is after Captain America's Friend the Winter Soldier for involvement in an assassination attempt. As opposing sides deal with this new development, a young man gifted with the powers of a spider is recruited into the fight.


What comes across as amazing is the directors' way for tying all these plot threads together. You have the black panther situation, the growing differences between Tony and Steve, the overarching political debate on accountability, then you have Spiderman being reintroduced into the marvel cinematic universe. With all these characters and subplots, the film never lets us forget this this is primarily a Captain America movie. Steve Rogers is the main focus with Tony Stark as his foil. With a little thinking by the audience to connect the dots, the plot threads fall into place nicely and the stories fit along parallel themes. Our tale is fast paced, going from tense conversation to awesome action and back again.


The tone is, finally, more serious and more grounded, a much welcome departure from the increasingly comedic tones of most marvel movies. There is a true sense that the stakes are high, and the potential for loss is great.  The Russo brothers crafted a serious political thriller in CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER, and now they up that ante in writing, characters and action. Though some of the fights have that "sped-up-in-post-production" look, it is grittier, more brutal and less "dance-like" than most of other marvel movies. The final battle between Tony and Steve stands out as the best marvel movie fight ever not only because of the perfectly shot scenes but in the emotional aspect as well. Conflicts are framed in a "no nonsense" approach, rather than the cartoon-like quip filled play battles of before. Not that there aren't quips but these are from characters defined as such in their original comics, namely Tom Holland's Spiderman.


Easily the freshest aspect of the movie, Tom Holland embodies the youthful wall crawler that comic fans love. His introduction foregoes the usual overly long origin tale and gets him right into the action. Everything is perfect, the way he moves, the way he talks, his emotional journey through the movie that runs parallel to that of the Robert Downey jr's Tony stark and Chris Evan's Steve Rogers. Everyone brings their best to the roles both new and familiar, with the two veterans conveying the emotional anguish and turmoil of two brothers-in-arms forced to opposing sides.


This movie's emotional weight relies heavily on continuity and would be more effective if one had been following these characters from their first movies, through avengers and marvel phase two, right up till now. Without the 8 or so preceding movies, it is difficult to get a grasp on Captain America's or Iron Man's differing ideologies and unresolved interpersonal tension. Their motivations seem propelled by stubbornness and ego which would seem shallow without their relational context as provided by past movies.

Thankfully the magnificent chemistry between this cast who have co-starred together for so long, shines. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. And the rest all truly become their characters, drawing the audience into this fantasy world where secret Organisations, spies, superheroes and people with powers co-exist. There are some ill timed comedy, especially those that come in the middle of intense scenes. It kills the drama and the serious mood. Thankfully, these are few and lesser in number than previous marvel movies.


The big downside, especially as a fan of the comics, is how different this is from the original civil war miniseries. The original was a tragic tale of good intentions carried out in bad ways, it deconstructed super hero feuds, touched on politics, delved into the philosophical question of freedom or security; themes that resonate with the world deeply entrenched in the war on terror. The movie version downplays a lot of that. Message to marvel: if you are going to use a title, at least respect the source material. This does have a few fleeting similarities but all in all feel like a completely different story which had no business using the name of an existing one. The political themes, touching on the accountability of those in power, are present but never at the forefront. By the movie's end, it does not even feature within the climatic showdown. What could have been a physical and metafictional "fight" between two friends representing opposing sociopolitical ideologies suddenly descends into a weak excuse for revenge.

As a whole this is a tremendous improvement in every aspect over previous marvel team up movie AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON. Comic book movies will be hard pressed to match up to this standard set by CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR. Yes there is ill placed humour, yes they kill a certain amount of the drama with cheap comedy and yes the relatively generic musical score by Henry Jackman seems wasted on such an epic. But the few flaws aside, this is finally the kind of movie that marvel should be making. One that takes its superheroes more seriously, tones down the jokes, and delves into deeper themes both social and political. More focus could have been given to those themes, but this is a very pleasing start to what I hope is the maturing of the marvel cinematic universe.


*****************************Review End***************************

Entertainment: A
Story: A-
Acting: A
Characters: B+
Music: C
Replay value: B+
"Brains": B-