Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: The Winter Soldier before 2016 was the best Marvel movie to date. It was solid all around, had the best action, the biggest stakes, and was nearly perfect. Before that, Captain America: The First Avenger was probably the second most solid solo film of Phase 1, behind Iron Man and also behind The Avengers.

Despite the resounding success of Captain America films and the Russo Brothers at directing, I was worried about Captain America: Civil War. Like, really really worried.

First of all, it is one of the only full plot lines I have actually read the comics for, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Second, I had seen a few trailers and I was worried about a lot of things. If the trailers gave too much away. That the plot felt forced (unnatural) and the big fight between the two groups would be cheesy. That the previous films didn’t set things up enough for the resentment to be believable.

A huge list of worries. I only need to state them out clear so I am not shown to be a fanboy. Especially after Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, I was ready for disappointment.

Shield
And no matter what happened, I would be Team Cap all the way.

This movie will make more sense if you saw Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. I assume you did, because come on, Marvel.

The film actually starts out, after some flashbacks, in Lagos, Nigeria! Some current avengers (Captain America (Chris Evans), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)) are staking out important buildings, looking for Crossbones (Frank Grillo). Needless to say, not everything goes perfectly and some civilians get hurt. Namely, a group of missionaries!

Based on those events, the events in NYC, in Sokovia, and more, the world has decided to stand up in unity and demand action. Over 100 countries have signed the Sokovia Accords, which states that the Avengers will now only act if they have permission from a UN Panel, and of course, have to act if they deem it necessary. A few of the Avengers agree with these accords. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is feeling guilty and War Machine (Don Cheadle) is on his side. Hell, even Vision (Paul Bettany) feels it is necessary to avoid problems in the future.

But not Captain. He has trust issues with these sorts of groups now, and doesn’t want to be forced to step aside if he sees wrong doing, or be forced to do something he sees as wrong. So he doesn’t sign the papers. The papers are led by the King of Wakanda, T’Chaka (John Kani), who is especially pissed that their primary export was used to make Ultron. And sure enough, more bad things happen. Apparently The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is at it again!

Fuck, so much shit. Captain believes Bucky is just brainwashed and wants to protect his old friend and not let the government kill him. So yeah, there is some conflict here. Captain and a few others agree to help him out, to get to the bottom of all of this, while the other guys have to stop them for negligently doing bad things to the UN and other officers. Fuck, who is right, I don’t know?!

Also featuring the return of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp). And of course, introducing Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, and Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo. William Hurt plays the Secretary of State and Martin Freeman as the head of the UN Avengers Council thing.

Shield2
Shit Spider-Man, why do you gotta go and steal my boy’s shield like that?

Captain America: Civil War is two and a half hours long, but I found myself wanting more. I needed more. More of everything! I could spend the next 500 words just comparing it to BvS, but that wouldn’t be a review of this film, it’d just be a shitty comparison. So I will keep it short: Civil War did a lot of things right that BvS did not.

Civil War turns out to be a fanboy’s wet dream. The action is incredible throughout most of the film. For each and every spout of athleticism, you can understand the fight. There aren’t a thousand quick cuts or shaky cameras. You will not only see well choreographed fighting skill sets before your eyes, but each character fights true to their persona and powers, so no one ends up fighting the same. Of course, a lot of heroes end up fighting and battling with other heroes. We also get tons of team ups you haven’t seen before. All of this creates for some intense scenes with a whole lot of fan service.

Now now, I know what you are thinking. If basically everyone is a good guy with future films, the tension can’t be real. Well, for the most part you shouldn’t expect people to die. Because it is a comic book movie and all that reason. I am not saying people don’t die, but I am saying for sure a lot of people do get hurt, both physically and emotionally. This is not a movie that wraps up everything with a nice big bow, it changes the future landscape of the films…much like The Winter Soldier did.

On another note, Civil War doesn’t go the obvious route throughout the plot. It didn’t go the typical Marvel movie route. It didn’t just keep escalating the odds to ridiculous levels. It had emotional backing behind it, on every side and even on the villain side. Some can complain that the villain is too calculating, but when I compare his plan to someone like Lex Luther’s (fuck I did it again), his makes a lot more sense without ridiculous stretches.

Shield3
Thank’s Black Panther. You are clearly just aggressively giving the shield back here.

Now here, allow me to hype things.

Black Panther HYPE! What a great introduction to this guy. He was shown to be strong, agile, moral with conflicting issues given his royal upbringing. His inclusion in this film was well written and explained, along with why he chose to fight. He is in this film a bunch, more than most of the other Avengers. I am so excited for this eventual film and future roles.

Spider-Man HYPE! Spider-Man was in this film a lot more than I expected as well. We got to see him as Peter Parker a bit as well for an introduction. His fighting was very spider like, along with his normal combat quips. They also showed his age really well, when compared to the old ass fuckers on the team, giving a clear and distinct gap in knowledge bases and general attitude.

Future films HYPE! I can’t wait for more. Like I said originally, I wasn’t looking forward to Civil War. After BvS, I certaintly wasn’t looking forward to Suicide Squad. All of my hopes were riding with X-Men: Apocalypse, which I don’t see as being good as the last two, and Doctor Strange, which I am pretty excited for. But now I have higher hopes for the future of Marvel films. Higher than I already anticipated.

On a final note, despite the large cast and significance of the plot, Civil War was worthy of being called a Captain America film. It wasn’t just Avengers 2.5. His characters was largely the focus of the film, but at the same time he wasn’t a simple protagonist. Chris Evans is GOAT, hooray movies.

4 out of 4.

Best Films of 2014

You’ve seen the worst, now prepare for the best.

I had a lot of movies that I really liked this year too. And unlike the worst list, everything on this list I gave a 4 out of 4 too. This is the cream of the crop.

Some films I didn’t get to see yet from 2014 that may have made this list. I have heard good things about A Most Violent Year, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, many documentaries, and Two Days, One Night. I won’t update this list either, just know it in case you think one of these should be at the top.

Honorable Mentions: Fury, Joe, Whiplash. There were probably more 4 out of 4s, but these would have been the next in line I think.

15) The One I Love

The One I Love is one of those surprises to make my list. This film flew by me completely under the radar, only found it because I was looking up Mark Duplass movies in boredom. And hey, it was an incredible indie flick that was also very simple in nature.

The entire performance is resting on the shoulders of our two main leads, and their performances are incredibly realistic for this situation. It is a Science-Fiction movie without outer space or rockets or gadgets. Just love, romance, philosophical debate, and many questionable situations after another in a very morally gray way.

The One I Love

14) Muppets Most Wanted

For those of you who read my The Muppets review, I thought the movie was okay. I didn’t grow up on the TV show, never watched it, but understood most of the pop culture references to it. I think I ended up watching more Muppet Babies, which I don’t think is canon. But the sequel? Muppets Most Wanted? I smiled from start to finish.

The music was basically done by Flight of the Conchords and it showed. Everything felt witty and original. I don’t think there was a single disappointing song in the whole picture. Which is why, awkwardly enough, this was my highest rated musical for the entire year. There were a lot of movies that should have been contenders, but some failed miserably, some were pretty good, but none made me this happy and excited.

Muppets Most Wanted

13) The Imitation Game

Now my list might start looking like other “real reviewers”, but I warn you not to get used to it. The Imitation Game was actually nominated for Best Picture and there are many reasons why. Benedict Cumberbatch is awesome, generally taken as fact. It is about one of the most exciting non combat parts of World War II, the solving of the German Enigma Code.

Now, I don’t care too much if a movie takes historical liberties with the past, as long as we get a good story, and I am pretty sure that is what occurred here. I think a lot of the drama may have been exaggerated or created, but the important truths are still in tact, and it sucks what happened to Alan Turing. I didn’t think it would make me cry, but sure enough, the drama always wins in the end.

ImitationGame

12) X-Men: Days of Future Past

Comic movies?! It is hard to imagine that the same studio who makes The Wolverine and other shitty X-Men movies can put out a masterpiece like Days of Future Past. On its own, it is an ambitious title, because time travel is always a tricky subject. First Class was a good movie and a step in the right direction, but I couldn’t have imagined the sequel jumping this many leaps and bounds to give an incredible comic book movie experience.

Although not my favorite comic book year, it did help give some faith to Fox Studios and pump me up for the next X-Men flick, Apocalypse. I hope this leads to even more ambitions films in the future and willing to break the mold of a typical super hero plot line.

X-Men DOFP

11) 22 Jump Street

Yes, back to the “what? really?” aspects of my list. 21 Jump Street surprised me, mostly because it seemed like such a bad idea, the cast didn’t make sense, and the reboot felt unnecessary. I was wrong. The idea for the sequel, 22 Jump Street, I also thought was terrible. And I was wrong again, but more.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller must have been completely bonkers to write this movie, as they took the idea of a comedy sequel, and went meta as fuck with it. Channing Tatum is secretly a comedic mastermind. That has to be it. I was cackling in the theater, almost to the point of pain. I am excited for the next 20 sequels they produce.

22 Jump Street

10) Big Hero 6

2014 was also an incredible year for animated films. A lot of heavy hitters this year, definitely more than the last few years when there tended to be one film above the rest. Big Hero 6 was this years submission by Walt Disney Animation studios, who gave us Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled. But it was also partnered with Marvel Studios, given the ownership and all, to give us an incredible animated movie.

What I remember the most about this movie is the color and imagery went into creating this futuristic cross-cultured city. Oh, an the fun action scenes. And the humor. And yeah, it is just a wildly fun movie. The studio keeps putting out incredible work, and honestly, I can imagine this taking best animated film just as easily as any other movie nominated.

Big Hero 6

9) How To Train Your Dragon 2

Which brings me to How To Train Your Dragon 2. Me and Dreamworks have not been getting along, giving me mostly crap or only okay stuff for the last few years. For the first How To Train Your Dragon, I mostly just hate how lazy the ending riding conflict felt, and thought it could have done a lot better.

I actually don’t know what I like more, between this and the last movie. They are by far my favorite animated films of the year. The only reason I am giving HTTYD2 an edge is due to its vast improvement over the original. They both went to some dark places, both made me cry, and both were beautiful in every way. But a great story that wasn’t afraid to get dirty and wasn’t afraid to set the franchise up for bigger and more intense things.

HTTYD2

8) Locke

Look, if you had told me I had to watch a movie about a guy on the phone for an hour and a half, I would have been probably upset with you. I get enough of that by riding public transportation every once in awhile. Unless that film was Phone Booth, I probably wouldn’t care.

But despite the plot, Locke is about Tom Hardy on a phone, driving along the interstate, making the hardest decision of his life. And that is it. And I was floored by how invested I became in his story and the choices he made. This plus The Drop cemented Tom Hardy as a wonderful actor, but we already knew that from Warrior, right?

Locke

7) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The third and final comic book movie on my list, Captain America: The Winter Soldier started off the summer blockbusters right. And in April at that! Marvel is doing great things by making their different movies into different genres under the Superhero subtext. This one is spy/espionage/political action movie, with a few comedic elements as well to keep us guessing.

Before this movie, like most people, I would have said Avengers was the best Marvel film, but this felt like Avengers 1.5. Guardians of the Galaxy was a great movie, but not one that I thought was super great. Chris Evans is making himself the most important actor to the studios and I hope he gets a sweet ass pay check to represent what this film did to the MCU.

Captain America 2

6) Nightcrawler

At first I was upset that Nightcrawler wasn’t about the X-Man. And then I was upset that Jake Gyllenhaal turned down his role in Into The Woods to do this movie. Then I watched it and I smacked my past self right in the mouth.

Gyllenhaal is also doing the best work of his career and it is amazing what he did with this role. Probably the best portrayal of sociopath in a long time, this Thriller/Drama explored the dark side of human nature and how just an individual with no schooling and a lot of can do attitude can become a success. No matter what.

Nightcrawler

5) The Raid 2

I wouldn’t want to make a best list without featuring at least one foreign movie! And that same foreign movie is probably the best action movie in the last 10 years. That number is picked at random, I can’t think of a better action movie 11 years ago. I can only think of The Raid 2. You don’t even really need to see The Raid: Redemption to understand this one.

Admittedly, the plots of these films are a bit weaker. But if you want well choreographed and insane fight scenes, there is literally no better action movie to pick. Over two hours long, and slightly more plot, this movie has more action into its pinky than the entirety of Sylvester Stallone‘s last ten flicks.

The Raid 2

4) Gone Girl

David Fincher is probably one of the more celebrated actors of our generation, so whenever he has a new movie, you know peopl are going to rush and see it. I personally was more excited to see Gone Girl because of Ben Affleck. He was the bomb in Phantoms, he was the bomb in this movie. Hell, everyone was the bomb in this movie.

Rosamund Pike gave one of those terrifyingly creepy performances that don’t come along very often. Hell, the last time I saw anything remotely similar would probably be…Nightcrawler. Ah yes, the year of the crazy. But if a movie can feature even Tyler Perry and think he did a great job, you know something magical has happened on your screen. Ever twisting and turning, the wild book turned into a wild movie.

Gone Girl

3) The Grand Budapest Hotel

After I saw my first Wes Anderson movie, I was weirded out, didn’t get it, and thought I wouldn’t watch any more of his movies. Just like earlier, I was glad to be wrong, and I have definitely loved his last three movies. The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdoms were both top films the year they came out, but The Grand Budapest Hotel has to be the best movie he has ever made. He has always been great with his cinemetography and quirky characters, but he elevates his directing game to new heights with this picture.

At this point in the article, I am running out of things to say without sound repetitive. GBH is funny and dark, and a great performance from Ralph Fiennes. I think this movie will inspire a whole generation of youths to become Lobby Boys and Hotel owning enthusiasts.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

2) Boyhood

Admit it, you probably figured out what the top two films were a couple movies ago. And that is because they have probably been the most talked about out of all the movies from 2014. I think Richard Linklater is one of my favorite directors. The Before trilogy is probably one of the best and most realistic trilogies ever produced. When I heard he was making a movie that took TWELVE YEARS capturing a boy growing up from 6 years old to 18, I could barely believe it. When I finally got to see Boyhood, the 2.5 hours seemed to flow by.

His journey was the audiences journey. I don’t know if I found it more relatable because I too am a white male or what, but it was like a nostalgia filled journey that I wish would never end. I demand a sequel, but from 18-35. Make this the closest thing I get to having a real life The Truman Show. A crowning achievement of film and directing and one that makes me feel like I gained a friend who I have known my whole life.

Boyhood

1) Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

Ah Birdman. What a movie. 2014 has some of the most unique films of the decade, and it is a shame that they all had to come out months of each other. When I first saw Boyhood, I thought there was no way a movie would top it for me. It was such a great concept and just felt like the epitome of the movie experience. And then Birdman came along.

Birdman had everything. Deeply dramatic monologues. Comedy. Beautiful visuals. Many ways to interpret the movie after seeing it. Fantastic fucking acting. A great story line. Very meta at the right time. I was blown away with the “single shot” feel of it. Single long shots are some of my favorite things in movies, so making the entire movie with that experience blew every ounce of my mind. ALL OF THE OUNCES. Not to mention making the actors really know their stuff. Having to actually act, like people in a play! Which is what the movie is about! Agghhh! Even the soundtrack rocked.

Even. The soundtrack. Rocked.

Birdman

And there you have it! The best of the best. Did I leave off anything you think should have been up here? Do you disagree with anything at all? Am I the stupidest person ever? Be sure to let me know and yell obscenities while doing it!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Ah, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I will be honest. I wasn’t really looking forward to this movie when it was first announced.

I like the Captain, sure. But the next two movies are Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron. This one was just giving me more of an already established character. Still, I was excited enough about it to make a fake review for April Fools Day.

Being a comic book fan is sort of a double edged sword with these type of movies. On one side, it is great experiencing the comics come to life with large enough budgets to make every fanboy cry out in glee. But on the other side, we know the stories they are inspired by, so most likely the bigger plot twists and turns won’t be surprises to us.

Unless of course they create new unexpected ones like Iron Man 3, but that is a different story.

Hand grab
“Hey, stop moving so the camera can focus on your backside.”

The Winter Soldier begins by showing us what life is like for the one and only Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a national hero and now high up in S.H.I.E.L.D. He is doing missions around the world! But S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) have their secrets and Steve doesn’t really like secrets.

So when things start to get a little bit feisty at the headquarters in DC, Steve isn’t sure who he can trust. Can he trust the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) who is known for half-truths and deception? Can he trust Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) head of the World Security Council? How bout Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)?

Yeah, he is kind of in a sticky situation. The spy game sure has ramped up its deception since the 1940’s, so if he is going to protect the world from a hidden threat, he will need all the help he can get. This movie introduces a few future characters as well, like the titular villain The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Sam “The Falcon” Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) and Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp).

Vulture? Falcon? Whatever
Holy shit the Vult-err.. Falcon. Sorry. Good Guy Falcon, Bad Guy Vulture. Got it.

Being the fanboy that I am, I have been trying to be more critical of Marvel movies lately. Just because I squeal in delight over almost every one doesn’t mean they are perfect. They don’t all deserve perfect marks.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier deserves perfect marks.

Everything about this movie is so spot on spectacular that I have a hard time believing it is even real. Captain America: The First Avenger was a good movie on its own right, but one I have never really been in the mood to watch again. I can see myself watching The Winter Soldier many times once it releases, maybe more than I saw the first Iron Man. It literally might be my new favorite Marvel movie.

It is hard to find something that is negative about the movie. It is over two hours, but never drags. There is maybe only one scene I thought was a bit pointless, but it doesn’t affect the overall movie. There is a lot of action and all of it is so well put together, from the choreography to sound editing. The movie itself is a lot more serious than other Marvel films, but it still has the nice jokes and references throughout it to keep you happy.

Did I know the big reveal? Yeah. But knowing it didn’t take away from my experience at all in the movie. This excites me because it means I will likely enjoy future viewings.

My last point I guess would be about acting. Evans gave a strong performance as the lead, but the side characters as well were all quite good. Mackie didn’t have too big of a role, but he kicked its butt and I actually enjoyed the Falcon. Redford was great, Jackson was great. Everyone was great.

To me, this movie is like an Avengers 1.5. I don’t expect Guardians of the Galaxy to have too much impact on the current Marvel universe, so this is the perfect lead up to next May. This movie has made me beyond excited for the Marvel future, and definitely for the third Captain America in 2016. Although, knowing the comic plots, I kind of already know what is likely to happen.

4 out of 4.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Yep, I am awesome. I got to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a special promotion over a whole week before it came out. They just told me I couldn’t release a review on it til April.

Fine by me, early movies are early. The first Captain America I really enjoyed, but didn’t feel patriotic enough. There was a severe lack of American flags throughout the movie and I just couldn’t accept it. There was a lot of Nazi stuff too, which is silly. I want America stuff, not Nazi German stuff.

Stare-ing
Uniform looks diluted. Patriotism failed.

This movie takes place dozens of months after The Avengers. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is living a sad life. Sure, he lives in Washington D.C., a patriotic city if any, but is bored. He is still working for S.H.I.E.L.D., but he isn’t killing Hitler, so what’s the point of it all?

Which is when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) comes back. What a shifty character. Fury has some information regarding Rogers and his family. Turns out Rogers’ brother had a son a few years after World War II. That’s right, the Captain has a nephew. But the weird way time travel works, the nephew, Alexander (Robert Redford) is of course now much older than him. Hah, how silly.

But Alex also helps run the council that oversees the world in the Marvel Universe. Pretty baller. He is the one that lets him know about The Winter Soldier (Jeremy Renner). He apparently just came out of Russia, another classic enemy, has some robot parts and really wants to fuck some shit up.

Good. Steve doesn’t understand technology much anyways, so he is happy to do battle. Of course, when he realizes his true identity, he might have some moral convictions.

Chatting
Or they might just stand there chatting about the good times a couple years ago.

Man, if people were upset by the changes to the lore in Iron Man 3, they would probably be even more furious at these changes. To change the identity of The Winter Soldier like that to Hawkeye? Man. Why do they keep making him the badguy? No one even really likes Mr. Renner.

There were far too many plot twists involving who was related to who. First Steve Rogers and his nephew, then Nick Fury and his son (Anthony Mackie) it kind of got ridiculous.

This movie was supposed to be a pseudo Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) movie as well, but if I had to guess, she probably had like 3 minutes of screen time, everything you saw in the trailer, all at the end too. Must have been too busy voicing sexy robots again.

I am pretty sure this is second longest Marvel movie too, after The Avengers, and a lot of it drags on. They kept introducing other side villains who got barely any screen time that it kind of took away from the overall plot, reminding me of Spider-Man 3. Hell, it even had a strange emo dance scene in it as well.

Overall, this movie feels like a big lie. Both to the Marvel continuity, through its advertising, through so much. I am glad I guess that they killed off Steve Rogers at the end, bringing in a different Captain America story. Can’t wait to see how they spin this for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. But that was about the only cool aspect.

1 out of 4.

Captain America

Alright! The long awaited Captain America movie that people would assume would not do well internationally. I mean, who cares about American Patriotism, outside of Americans and Terrorists who want to find its weaknesses? Most importantly for this movie is the last set up movie before every nerd boys dream, The Avengers, which if you missed, had a large preview at the end of Captun AMurrika.

Chris Evans plays the titular character, making this the 5th comic based person of his career. He was of course Johnny Flame in Fantastic Four movies. But he was also in The Losers, a graphic novel, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, a graphic novel, and the voice of Casey in the TMNT movie, originally a comic. This guy better love comics. The next closest person would be Ryan Reynolds, who is just trying to be in everything these days.

A lot of talk on the CGI used to display Evans before and after the serum. He looks weird scrany, but it wasn’t actual CGI but some other complicated method. It was actually his body the whole time though, so at least we get that. Movie was long enough with enough action in it to give the complete story, even his return to the present. It sucked knowing his relationship would never last. I liked how they showed his conquests throughout Europe, giving small detail, but leaving enough room for a Captain America 2 to take place during this time, pre Red Skull as well.

Speaking of Red Skull, how about that Hugo Weaving? How good is he at sci-fi, fantasy, action movies?

Red Skull /Hugo Weaving
Multiple personality disorder is serious business.

Also this film does a good job of tricking you. You think one thing will happen, and not only do they do the opposite, they kind of tease the fact that you just guessed wrong. See: kid being thrown in the water. We also have Tommy Lee Jones as a big army dude, Hayley Atwell as a love interest, and Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark.

3 out of 4.