chris evans

[Mega Movie Review] Catching Up on 2017

13886469_1267046413328617_7042198926381498825_nBusy time of year folks, so apologies to anyone who actually looks forward to my latest reviews. I didn’t want everything I’ve seen to fall by the wayside, so here are some brief thoughts on everything I’ve seen so far in 2017 but haven’t had time to sit down and put full write ups on. Sit back relax and “enjoy” some candid hot takes on these 2017 releases!

Kong: Skull Island – Come for the star studded cast then shove them aside for the awesome creature fights. Kong is visually impressive, but it lacks humanity in a pretty comical way. The characters very much feel like empty shells taking us from one place to another to be bait for the eventual breathtaking spectacle of the Kong fights. In spite of the lack of characters to hang your hat on this was still a pretty tremendous and crowd pleasing theater experience. Rating: B+

Gifted – Sort of let this one get lost in the shuffle. This is a very understated film. There was almost no marketing push and it just sort of appeared in theaters with little to no fanfare. If its still out there though, get out and see it. I could have used a little more closure for some of the relationships and perhaps a little more emotion out of Chris Evans’ character, but this has been the most affective dramas so far this year that also happens to have a pretty delightful sense of humor. Rating: A-

Raw – Coming out of the film festivals the press on this was touting how extreme it was and how it was causing audience members to faint or throw up. When the credits rolled I had one question: What kind of p****** were attending these screenings? I can’t fathom anyone watching this and feeling sick. The sound design is effective, but never to the point that I felt even the slightest bit nauseous. The film looks great, the central performance is quite good and the themes are intriguing…but color me disappointed that this is apparently what gets people worked up these days. Rating: C+

The Blackcoat’s Daughter – I have watched this film at least 4 times now. Each viewing has made it grow on me a little more each time. You’ll want to have been a fan of moody slow burns such as It Follows and The Witch for this one to be in your wheelhouse and if it is you’re in for a treat. Oz Perkins has a knack for creating an uneasy tone and depth to story without over explaining and hammering themes down your throat. Horror fans should quickly familiarize themselves with Perkins…that’s the moral of the story. Rating: B+ (inching ever so close to an A-)

The Devil’s Candy – When The Loved Ones FINALLY came out there was little that would convince me that Sean Byrne wasn’t going to be a horror breakout filmmaker and that his next film wouldn’t be my favorite one of the year. Get Out is going to make it tough for anything else to take that title this year, but even then I still don’t think The Devil’s Candy could pull it off. That being said, it is still pretty great. Byrne’s sophomore flick is tense and totally metal, but could have benefited from a more energetic sense of momentum. Rating: B+

Detour – If you don’t know the name Christopher Smith no one–including me–would blame you. If you haven’t seen any of the movies he’s made, shame on you. The director’s name is so plain that remembering it is understandable, but if you’ve seen and love his movies like I do you’d remember. Detour is just another road of twisty mind games to add to the road map of his career that’s also well worth your time–even if I don’t enjoy the acting chops of Tyr Sheridan. Rating: B+

The Girl With All the Gifts – Those clamorong for a The Last of Us film should know that you kind of already have one–and this is it. The storyline is not the same, but the film has so many aspects that mirror the game that it’s sort of surreal. The emotional resonance is lacking, but the thrills and mythology are more than enough to draw you to this one. It seems as if the creative team involved envisioned something even more ambitious, but budget constraints hold it back at times. Rating: B+

XX – The anthology genre over the years has been cluttered with some singularly focused male visions so it was about time we got some fresh female voices a space to shine. Sure, the final product ends up being about as mixed as most other anthologies, but there is some serious talent on display in each segment in some way shape or form and XX should definitely at the very least be on your radar when it’s released on DVD/Bluray May 23rd. Rating: C+

John Wick: Chapter 2 – The fist installment of the John Wick saga came out of nowhere with its weird comic book hitman universe. The sequel just stacks on the crazy around every corner with some clever set pieces and a sh*tload of headshots. If you don’t walk out ready for Chapter 3 then maybe you just really really hate dumb stylish fun. Rating: B+

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – The Resident Evil franchise hasn’t been my thing for quite some time now. Each new film seems less connected to the actual video game than the next and instead opts to force in characters and foes from the game with little to no context. The Final Chapter is more of the same and the best part about it–assuming the title is a promise–is that it’s the last time we’ll have to endure any of it. Rating: D- 

A Dark Song – There are a lot of reasons why I don’t practice in the occult. A Dark Song just added one more pretty big reason–it’s friggin hard. Another reason on top of that–it takes a really long friggin time. A brooding character driven horror film that really swings for the fences during the finale which is as divisive as it is emotionally resonant. This is one that most will love or furiously hate. Somehow I was just on the outskirts of love. Rating: B

The Void – As a movie watcher I gravitate toward the horror genre. It’s a world I feel like I know and am comfortable in–in spite of having quite a few gaps in knowledge in the classics. When it comes to horror I’m a sucker for some crazy gore and awesome practical effects, both of which The Void has in spades. However, that’s about all it has. There’s a solid creepy villain near the end, the cult figures are cool looking and the idea is solid. Yet, there’s something lacking in the overall plot and the characters just feel flat. Still, you should probably check it out–at least once–when it hits Netflix this July (2017). Rating: C

Small Crimes – Speaking of Netflix, how about all the original content they’ve been churning out this year? Crazy right? When you tell me the director of Cheap Thrills has a sequel that came out via Netflix I couldn’t hit play fast enough. When it was all said and done, I probably could have waited a little bit and not rearranged my whole schedule to watch it. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s actually quite good. Not as good as Cheap Thrills though. The dark humor and sudden bursts of violence would make this a perfect middle movie for a Netflix Triple feature of Shimmer Lake (scroll down for that ‘review’), Small Crimes and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (which is fantastic and there might be a ‘review’ below but as of writing this I haven’t added it to the backlog). Rating: B

Free Fire – After High Rise my stock in Ben Wheatley took a mild dive. Kill List is still a work of bleak art so no one can take that away. Then Free Fire happened. Holy cow, you guys. This movie is a blast. It’s also mostly kind of a one trick pony. It’s a good trick, but the circumstances at which all the mayhem goes down is pretty petty and ultimately uninspired. That doesn’t change the fact that watching things escalate and turn to sh*t wasn’t some of the funnest nonsense I’ve seen this year. Rating: B+

Colossal – I go to the movies to have a good time. Sometimes I go to be moved. Sometimes I go to learn a little about myself. Rarely do I get all three. Colossal isn’t the most profound movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s one of the most unique. I got some chuckles, it has some moving realizations and it more than once made me think about my own actions and words with some reverence. For that it is well worth your time and money, even if it is a little weird for its own good. Rating: B+

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – I was tempted to just link to my review of the first movie and call it a day. Volume 2 is very much just a repackaged version of the original, but with a few more gadgets and upgrades attached. There’s sequences that I could have easily done without near the middle, but the end is enough to tweak everyone with a soft heart in the feels. Also, because it was so much like the original I couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t as fresh and surprising. Rating: B

Wonder Woman – Right in front street, Wonder Woman is hands down the best DC movie of the new batch–aka since the Nolan Batman movies. The bad news is that the bar was not very high–even I could limbo under that rotten stick. However, even that is undermining what WW accomplishes. The action is good, Gal Gadot is great as is her chemistry with Chris Pine on screen. The finale is dogsh*t. It’s so bad and unoriginal that it made me wonder if everything before it had tricked me. I don’t think that’s the case so in the end I think what we got was a genuine attempt at righting the ship at DC even if it forgot to drop some of its dead weight. Rating: B

It Comes at Night – Whenever someone asks me about this movie I always say simply this: good movie, sh*t marketing. Except to call out specifics of the marketing could spoil part of the movie for some, even if it would serve to align their expectations. It Comes at Night is a depressing movie. It’s misery porn at its most basic levels. The performances are great, the idea is solid and the director seems to know that less is more when it comes to making us scared and feeling dirty. However, the film shows us so little and tells us nothing that would make enduring the misery all that profound. Rating: C+

Rough Night – Have you seen Very Bad Things? Well, it’s that, but with a cast of women. The case could be argued that Rough Night is considerably less dark than VBT, but let’s face it, were taking about a comedy with a murder at its center. Once there’s a dead body it is tough to pick back up the funny and lets just say the cast tries very hard to do so with mixed to mediocre results. By mixed I mean mixed decent jokes that are still to easy to be considered that clever. All in all you’re money is best spent grabbing a bag of dick straws and having your own party at home. Rating: D

Shimmer Lake – Shimmer Lake, another in the growing line of Netflix Originals, is a weird little flick that for those patient enough to stick it out should feel at least a minicam of appreciation. For those like me, you’ll get a kick out of it. The film is a botched robbery told in reverse and if you are invested enough to not ask why it’s being told in reverse then you, like me, won’t feel like you guessed what was going on from the beginning. It’s certainly not perfect, but I found myself laughing and impressed by a first time filmmakers grasp on reverse storytelling from beginning to end. Rating: B

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore – I know, I’m not a fan of long bizarre titles either. But once you watch this movie you probably couldn’t think of a more appropriate title either. Fantastic performances end to end and a near perfect yarn of normal people in over their heads in a mostly realistic scenario. Macon Blair wow’ed everyone his performance in Blue Ruin, might as well let him do it with his directing chops as well. Rating: A

47 Meters Down – You can thank The Shallows for giving hope to the possible theatrical success of this one. Saved last minute from a direct-to-DVD release at zero hour this Mandy Moore vehicle’s most redeeming aspects come in the form of those who have a fear of being trapped underwater with sharks in nearly pitch black conditions. Bad CGI sharks and questionable twists hinder the movie’s ability to be all that effective, making it similarly pulpy when compared to The Shallows. Rating: C+

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Life in a comic book world and/or action movie would be pretty damn exciting I imagine. Superheroes running rampant, cool looking explosions and the constant threat of world domination every other week. Of course, there’s a certain lack of realism, but then again, what’s fun about that. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER embraces the slick action and special effects of THE AVENGERS but mixes the raw hand to hand combat of the first CAPTAIN AMERICA to create a more well rounded film experience, while still maintaining the comic book fantasy of it all.

Not that I was expecting some gritty real life superhero epic, but at times CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER loses itself in a bit of melodrama that doesn’t exactly seem to fit in with all the pretty special effects. It’s all in comic book fun, so I can’t get too curmudgeonly about it all, just something to mention. The film picks up after the events of THE AVENGERS (of course) at a time where Nick Fury comes to realize that S.H.I.E.L.D. as a whole might not have the best intentions after all. He confides in Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) to be the die hard soldier that he is to find out what’s happening and stop the threat in its tracks. I think that’s about all one really needs to know to keep a little of the mystery alive. (more…)

Brew & View: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

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The first edition of Brew & View, a post in which I pick a movie and suggest a beer for you to enjoy as you watch said film features 2010’s SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. I caught Edgar Wright’s video game/comic book film in theaters and was a bit apprehensive at first, but warmed up to over time. I gave it a pretty favorable review in spite of any issues I may have had on the first viewing and it’s become a film I love more and more everytime I watch it even though I still don’t think the romance angle is as effective as I’d like.

There’s an indie spirit to the approach Wright takes to the film, but some pretty awesome flashy sensibilities as well when it comes to the way the fights are choreographed and executed. The humor is what carries this film through along with the visual style and video game flare thrown in just for fun.

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Beer Pairing: Tallgrass Brewing Company’s 8-Bit Pale Ale

The choice here is intentionally transparent as it plays with the video game theme that’s also present in the film. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD opens with the Universal logo and theme in an 8-Bit style animation and music which fits in perfectly with the name of the beer.

What I feel also links these two outside of the obvious name connection is the fact that Tallgrass’ 8-Bit Pale Ale is a beer that I wasn’t quite sure what to think of at first, but only got better as I drank it more. There’s a bit of a citrus taste that comes through on the nose and on the taste making it a light beverage at first but finishes with a bit of a bite- a perfect beverage counterpart for SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD.

Movie Review: The Avengers (2012)

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This movie is awesome! There you go that’s really all I have to say- but at the risk of wasting space with just a short sentence I’ll indulge further. THE AVENGERS isn’t just the best action movie of the year- so far- it’s better than all of the previous Marvel superhero movies released to date. So good in fact that it almost seems pointless to make any sequels to the previous films or spinoff hero films because people will probably just wish the rest of the Avengers showed up and wrecked shop. It’s also safe to say that I think Joss Whedon should be tapped to direct every superhero movie from here on out- maybe even every action movie from here on out. So hopefully his schedule is clear.

By now everyone is likely aware the film combines the heroes from previous Marvel films to form what are known as The Avengers. Thor’s brother Loki has conspired to bring an army, the Chitauri, to Earth in hopes of ruling the planet with the help of a cube of energy, the Tesseract, which opens a portal that summons the army from another world into ours. It’s up to S.H.I.E.L.D. to assemble a handful of heroes- Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Captain America and The Hulk to stop the threat from taking over the world.

Enough of that though, I’d rather just take time to go on and on about how awesome it was to see each of these heroes working together in all their unique ways. Each character is introduced perfectly, with the exception of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who comes and goes here and there till the end when he has a bigger role. The film doesn’t lean on any one of the characters specifically and instead does something even better by showing them together as a group as much as possible. What’s even better than that is showing them at odds with each other which makes them uniting to fight Loki and the Chitauri even more satisfying.

THE AVENGERS is extremely action packed and when it’s not its laugh out loud funny. The script is incredibly smart and clever in the set up for action but also with very funny jokes. During the action there are also moments of snarky comments from none other than Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man while he’s taking out enemies or funny physical gags- the best involving The Hulk and his massive physical presence and brutal strength. The relationships between the characters build so well that their chemistry by the end is incredible which is remarkable in and of itself with the star power involved and the amount of screen time it takes to get each character time to shine.

The special effects are top notch- providing several money shots within the action scenes themselves and often blending seamlessly with the environments. Good special effects being key for a movie with such fantastic ideas and out of this world characters, but the entire movie plays out like what a child would vision in their head while playing with their action figures, except maybe even more imaginative. Even the more intimate of action set pieces have elements of pure adrenaline and excitement- which comes across in large part due to how connected we are to the characters which is just another way to praise Whedon and company for how well everything is fleshed out.

We couldn’t have asked for a better cast- even if most were obligated to reprise their roles based on their previous appearances. Downey is hysterical as always as the billionaire playboy, Tony Stark/Iron Man; Evans is phenomenal once again as the soldier with a heart of gold, Steve Rogers/Captain America. I guess the only real question mark for me was bringing in Mark Ruffalo to play Bruce Banner/Hulk- but my worries were needless because his turn as the green beast with serious anger management issues was my favorite use of the character in film yet and his green Mr. Hyde side gets plenty of applause inducing moments.

I’d hate to sound overzealous, but the truth be told at the moment I can’t think of a single aspect of the film I didn’t like. I also hesitate to call it perfect because in all honesty I don’t believe in calling any film perfect. THE AVENGERS though is one of those exceptions I believe is rating proof as one I can give my full approval and not feel bad about it. Even as long as the film is it moves like a freight train and is always fun and exciting to watch. I fully expect the film to play extraordinarily well on multiple viewings even once it is released for home video consumption.

On spectacle alone THE AVENGERS would have my full recommendation, but as a whole the film is a smart, funny, exciting and even dramatically engaging summer blockbuster- and one of the best in recent years. Anchored by an all-star cast that turn in fantastic work, amazing special effects and a script that is paced perfectly allowing for a long but always exciting runtime t and when it was over I was ready to plant myself in my seat and watch again. THE AVENGERS is a midyear marvel that is one of the brightest shining stars of an already promising year of cinematic adventures.

Rating: 10/10

Movie Review: What’s Your Number? (2011)

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With the number of movies being written, made and released on a year to year basis isn’t it just expected that more than just a handful will skate on familiar territory? Romantic comedies suffer far too often from being watered down for mass audiences just to pander to the crowds that want the mushy material to push out the vulgar. WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER at times refuses to hide its vulgar side but eventually sells itself out for a more conventional and poorly conceived finale that tries to overshadow its vulgarity with overdone romantic clichés.

Anna Faris stars as Ally, a young girl who happens to read a little too deep into the quizzes and factoids from popular feminine magazines. After being fired from her job, Ally reads that any girl with over 20 sexual partners often never finds that special someone and Ally is hovering on 19 sexual partners. After a drunken escapade leaves her with no wiggle room on the over 20 partners rule she decides that the only way to find her special someone is to sift through her former lovers to find chemistry without raising her number. With the help of her neighbor, Captain Ameri- I mean Colin (Chris Evans), she tracks down each ex in hopes one of them has improved over time and will want to marry her.

I usually really like Anna Faris even if the movie she’s in usually fails to move or entertain me on any spectacular level. The same goes here as I somewhat enjoyed WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER because Faris and Evans have enough chemistry and comedic timing to make the film funny- at least during the first half. Faris’ character has a cute personality but spouts lines that paint her as incredibly shallow which I find to be extremely unlikable. Then there’s Chris Evans, who doesn’t attempt to hide his obvious character flaws which are bad enough but at least he is honest about what he’s doing. Neither have much to work with as far as the script goes- except the filmmakers invent just about every situation possible to get images of Faris’ side boob, Evan’s covering his genitals and eventually both of them exposing their “assets.”

WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER attempts to be as R rated as recent rom coms like LOVE & OTHER DRUGS and FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS but the writing just isn’t as quick or as interesting as either of those two films which are not perfect, but better examples of the genre recently. There are times when the film and the actors hit a grove and can get a few good laughs but when we get closer to the end it gets more and more generic until it totally fizzles out.

Evans does a good job playing a cocky bachelor and his character mixes well with Faris who has always had pretty great comedic timing as far as female actresses are concerned. Together they offer enough good natured laughs and vulgar fun but as romantic interests they don’t quite fit. When they are sparring back and forth you can feel the chemistry, but when the mushy feelings start coming out it doesn’t feel as natural and the sparks just aren’t there.

With sparse romantic chemistry and somewhat weak jokes WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER comes off more generic than it ultimately is. Evans and Faris have on and off moments of charming and vulgar comedy and the supporting cast of ex boyfriends provide some decent laughs. The script sometimes relies too heavily on retreading its own jokes (Twitter being the source of more than a few) and often doesn’t try to push the boundaries enough to be truly memorable. There are worse examples of the raunchy rom com movies within the genre but with a decent cast and slightly above average jokes WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER could have added up to something much better.

10 Costume Ideas For Halloween 2011

Halloween is eerily close and if you like me wait till last minute to make plans for Halloween parties or just staying home to pass out candy then you also do not have a costume prepared. For those of us that thrive on last minute decisions the following list are ideas from recent movies to dress up as when you go out boozin or just to impress the trick or treaters when they ring the doorbell.

The Driver (Drive) – This costume sort of double dips because even if you haven’t seen DRIVE you can just say well I’m Ryan Gosling, however, the scorpion jacket might throw more than a few people off. Please try to refrain from random acts of violence and pulling off getaway drives if you get lost in playing this character, there’s no happy ending likely to come out of it.

Alien-wolf-gorilla-motherf*cker (Attack The Block) – Haven’t seen ATTACK THE BLOCK yet? What are you waiting for it’s currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray. If someone can replicate the stark black alien with glowing teeth costume they would automatically win any costume contest I was judging, unless of course the competition was a hot girl dressed as a nudist or should I say undressed. In my head though I’d be commending you on a job well done for the badass alien costume.

Kidnapping Ape (30 Minutes Or Less) – If you’re feeling lazy, like I usually do then you can always just run to the nearest costume store and pick up these simple masks that I’ve seen almost everywhere. You won’t win any points for originality but if you go the extra mile and have someone next to you with a FAKE bomb strapped to your chest I will give you kudos- and enjoy reading about it in the news on November 1st.

Captain America/Thor – I’m sure these will be popular amongst the kids this year with the release of their respective movies- that and the wave of Optimus Prime costumes. However, you might be able to woo a few of the ladies by dressing up as these costumed heroes…don’t be surprised if they are mistakenly calling you Chris on both accounts though.

Bridesmaid (Bridesmaids) – Can’t make a list of costumes without a suggestion for the ladies (or certain dudes that might be into this). I’m sure most ladies have a dress they were forced to wear to a friend’s wedding or a prom or anything that might require such an outfit, if not then get a hold of a cheap one, get some pink spray-paint and you’re good to go….brides you know you needed to reason to break out your dress again and what’s scarier to dudes than marriage- am I right?

Demented Ballerina (Black Swan) – Another for the ladies- you can let your imagination take over on this one but what better way to say “I’m crazy” than to dress in a tutu and glue black feathers all over your body. Also if you decide to bring in your beat girlfriend on this the Halloween after party should be a lot of fun.

Kevin James (Zookeper/The Dilemma) – Here’s an easy one for the husky fellas. Bonus, if you work for a zoo then it’s even easier. I find James to be pretty funny on King of Queens but his movie career is far from inspiring if not downright scary. Plus, there’s a fantasy element to this costume too, it gives you the allusion that despite being unfunny in movies you will always be cast with a significant other that is way out of your league.

Tranny (The Hangover Part II) – Here’s an idea for both them men and women and inappropriate to boot. Most joke stores are likely to have fake boobs for the guys to pull this off and ladies- well you may have to browse shelves at less than reputable places to find a prosthetic part of the male anatomy to complete the ensemble. This idea counteracts the number of people dressing as other members of THE HANGOVER entourage and anyone dressed as Stu might either be strangely attracted to you or try to avoid you like the plague- either way your costume will get some attention.

Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger) – The good news here is that even if people don’t know who Red Skull is, the actual makeup for this can double as a man with his skin peeled off his body. Once you bust out your incredibly fake German accent and start talking about genocide I think people will get there’s a deeper point to the costume and they’ll either ask who you are or assume you’re a skinless Hitler.

Old Woman/Darth Maul Demon (Insidious) – Here’s another idea you may end up having to explain to people. INSIDIOUS may have been one of the more successful horror releases this year but I still think people will not immediately understand what costume you’re trying to pull off. If I saw someone at the bar dressed as the old woman ghost I would put in a request to leave that bar that’s for sure. Also, it is your duty to sneak into every single picture someone takes that night- if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand. The problem with dressing as the demon is people will probably mistake you for the badass Sith from STAR WARS, which is not a bad thing in and of itself- he was the best part of THE PHANTOM MENACE.

Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Uncle Sam wants YOU- that is unless you are a short thin 90 pound wimp with asthma and many other debilitating medical problems. If that sounds like you then you’re in luck, because Stanley Tucci has concocted a super serum that will turn you into Chris Evans. There are little to no terrible side effects to the serum because you’re super strong, smart and handsome. However, here’s the bad news…you have super fast metabolism and self healing capabilities which means…you can’t get drunk. Thems the breaks.

Chris Evans of course stars as the world first super defender, CAPTAIN AMERICA, but before he was the Cap he was the puny weakling army reject, Steve Rogers. Rogers is rejected every time he tries to enlist in the military, until Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) sees Rogers spirit and commitment to serving and enlists him for the purpose of turning him into a super soldier with a serum he has helped develop. The serum also worked on the evil Johann Schmidt/Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), but it magnified his evil tendencies. Schmidt is hell bent on controlling the world and it is up to Rogers and a handful of soldiers to stop him before Schmidt unleashes his plan on the world.

CAPTAIN AMERICA works on a very stripped down and basic level. The flashy bombastic colors and explosions of Marvel films like IRON MAN, THOR and THE INCREDIBLE HULK are not the front and center here. Joe Johnston just focused on the heart and soul of a man completed dedicated to doing his part and willing to risk everything for his country and ran with it. The action is there and it’s not too shabby, but it’s not the bread and butter of CAPTAIN AMERICA. The focus is the origins of a plain red blooded American displaying nothing but heart and bravery.

Chris Evans is great as Steve Rogers and of course as the hero Captain America. Evans has a clear sense of humility, bravery and even innocence. What I really love about the character is that because he so grounded and down to Earth he’s not cocky and full of himself. In his eyes everyone is equal and just wants to give justice to anyone especially those who bully others around. His main target, Johann Schmidt played by Hugo Weaving is a very formidable foe. Weaving’s German accent is actually quite chilling and fitting for the part, even when he sheds his skin to reveal himself as Red Skull. The makeup effects for Red Skull are great as well, but soiled a bit when there’s an abundance of CGI on screen, mostly because the CGI is one of the weaker elements of the film.

Since CAPTAIN AMERICA is yet another vehicle to connect to the AVENGERS movie, Nick Fury shows up during the film as well as during the end credit sequence before the teaser for AVENGERS played. Also connecting it to the universe is a young Howard Stark providing all the cool technology for the military as well as Captain’s costume and shield.

The film runs just over two hours so there’s bound to be some lags in the action. The majority of it lies in the scenes immediately following Roger’s transition from the 90 pound weakling to the buff and powerful Captain America. Rogers is a very genuine and likable character, if you don’t like him then something is wrong. He’s a dedicated, loyal and humble man that is grateful for his new power so that he feels like he can make a difference. Evans has always been able to play a jerk or overly cocky hero as in the FANTASTIC FOUR movies, but watching him play the nice guy was definitely a treat.

The majority of the special effects are very clunky. There are moments where they fit in seamlessly, but other times the effects look extremely dated and fake. Aside from the effects the only other gripe I have is some of the cheesy moments that are not a major problem because they fit in with the tone of the film. The tone is all about fun; Johnston tried nothing more than to tell the origin straight forward without pulling any twists or tricks.

Once the flames have settled and the dust blows away CAPTAIN AMERICA stands as one of Marvel’s best films to date. The final product is nowhere near as polished and flashy as other Marvel hero movies, but the story and characters are some of the best they have to offer. Strong performances from Weaving and Evans are the anchor with great supporting roles surrounding them. For a film depicting Nazi’s and war CAPTAIN AMERICA maintains the ability to still be fun for the whole family despite moments of violence. There’s enough winking at the camera and even a little bit of romance amongst the fighting that everyone will find something to like. If you find yourself tired revisiting Hogwarts, giant fighting robots, bad bosses and Kevin James then some good old fashioned patriotism is the cure.

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

I am not familiar with the graphic novels that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is based on. I am not the world’s biggest Michael Cera fan, though I really loved Superbad. I am however, an Edgar Wright fan; I liked Sean of the Dead and I loved Hot Fuzz, so with all those factors I was on the fence of rather or not Scott Pilgrim was going to be my cup of tea. I’m happy to say that it fell well within my comfort zone even if it didn’t leave me feeling as enthralled as I would have liked.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is directed by Edgar Wright and stars Michael Cera as our hero, Scott Pilgrim, who plays bass in his band, The Sex Bob-Ombs. Scott is also dating a 17 year old, Knives Chau, that is until he meets Ramona Flowers and he immediately thinks she’s the girl of his dreams. He finds out she works for Amazon so he orders a package and waits for her to deliver it so he can ask her out. They go on a date and everything seemingly goes well, until The Sex Bob-Ombs next show is halted by a man claiming to be an ex of Ramona’s bursts in and begins to fight Scott. Afterwards, Ramona explains to Scott that if they are going to date he has to defeat her seven evil X’s; and if that’s not enough, Knives Chau, not to be ignored has her own plans to try and get Scott back.

For me the stars of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World are the tremendous visual effects, the comedic timing in the script and the fighting. The characters were all cast very well, and the film is very fast paced. There is almost never a dull moment during the film as even parts that would normally drag have a visual that captures your eyes, rather its the instantly melting snow as Ramona skates away, or the on screen narration of sound effects such as “Ring-Ring,” when a telephone rings, or “Ding-Dong,” when someone rings a doorbell. There is literally something going on in every scene that keeps you involved and interested even if it’s the smallest of details.

I made reference to my not being a huge Michael Cera fan before, and that being said I really enjoyed him in this movie. His presence adds a level of humor to the role, especially when you see him flying through the air and fighting the evil X’s in an arcade like style. One of the other highlights in the film was Scott’s gay roommate, Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin); his character is also involved in many of the more effective jokes throughout the film.

When mentioning the visuals of the film, most of them involve the fantastic fight sequences, which are often set up like a Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat style showing Scott and his current opponent across from each other and “VS” in between them. The film employs several videogame references throughout that simply a delight, from the score Scott gets for defeating an opponent, to people bursting into coins after they are defeated. However, it is not only videogame-isms at work from scene to scene; it also has many comic book aspects along with it, to the mundane sound effects being animated on screen to “Pow,” “Bang” etc also filling the screen during fights.

All of the aspects explained above regarding the comic book and videogame symbolisms have the potential to really fly above the heads of many audiences and that’s bound to be what affects its success at the box office over its life in theaters. Those not knowing what they might be in for will leave scratching their heads wondering what in the hell they just saw, but those knowing the source material or those that can just let their guard down and can enjoy the ridiculousness of the over-the-top fighting, quick cuts and fast transitions between scenes will laugh throughout the films run-time.

As far as any knocks against the film go, and mind you it’s not a deal breaker, but the romance/infatuation between Scott and Ramona was not nearly as sentimental or heartwarming as you’d find in “good” romantic comedies. Granted most romantic comedies are loathsome, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World does it marginally better than most, it just didn’t work quite as well as I’d have hoped. Other than that, everything else in the film mixes and flows well throughout the film. The characters of Scott and Ramona both play off each other well and are interesting, it’s just the attraction and eventual romance that doesn’t seem to mesh together as well as the comedic elements.

I was also impressed by the music used throughout the film. The opening 8-Bit Universal logo and theme was very cool along with the various choices used in the fights. One cue that made me laugh was the Seinfeld theme used in a scene along with a laugh track during the dialogue, which alone had me hooked and loving each second that passed.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a truly funny and original piece of work. The romance and the fantastical nature of the material make the outcome of the fights seem irrelevant, but it doesn’t harm the film overall as its all tons of fun. Edgar Write continues to impress as a director with this visually impressive adaptation that’s filled to the brim with laughs and exciting fight sequences.