Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Detroit (2017)

Image is property of Annapurna Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Entertainment One

Detroit – Film Review

Cast: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Hannah Murray

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Synopsis:  1967,Detroit, USA. With riots threatening to tear the community apart, Police enter a hotel on the hunt for a sniper, which leads to a horrifying ordeal for the residents.

Review: It kind of goes without saying that for a long time that in the United States of America, the issues of racism and police brutality have unfortunately been dominant in American society, and recent events in 2017 certainly indicate that these issues are very much prevalent in modern America, as relevant today as they were half a century ago. As such, to tackle such a tricky and emotional subject for a film requires a director whose previous films have shown she is not afraid to tackle such controversial subject matter, step forward Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow.

Her first film since Zero Dark Thirty, which focused on the hunt for Bin Laden, drew criticism for being almost pro-torture. Furthermore, controversy has arisen over whether Bigelow is the right director to tell this story, but given her immense directorial portfolio, this was never in doubt. However, right from the off, Bigelow throws you right into the heart of the riots and the tensions that were building right across America. With a screenplay from long time collaborator Mark Boal, the tension is there right from the first shot as you watch communities being torn asunder. There was a gritty, almost documentary like manner to which Bigelow told the story of Zero Dark Thirty, and here, she does replicates that method again to tell the story. The script is uncompromising and absolutely brutal when it wants to be. Yet the first act is a little choppy as we’re introduced to a lot of characters which means you’re unsure which characters to really focus on.

It’s at the film’s second act where things really start to get tense and scary. After a prank weapon is fired, the cops descend onto the Algiers Motel and several of the cops led by Philip Krauss (Poulter) begin to terrorise the frightened residents of the motel by demanding who it was that shot what they believed to be sniper fire. As time wears on and no one gives them any answers, the cops take matters into their own hands, and it is not pretty for those residents. The version of events displayed on screen are somewhat dramatised as it is not fully known what actually transpired that night, but Bigelow showed that when it comes to building tension, she is an absolute pro. This is unflinching storytelling and it makes you almost gawk at the screen in horror at what you are witnessing.

Everyone in the film delivers great performances but by far the most standout performance is that of Will Poulter’s Krauss. Right from the moment you meet this horrifyingly bigoted cop, you just know he is bad news for all who get in his path and that includes Algee Smith’s Larry, Anthony Mackie’s as Greene and John Boyega’s Melvin Dismukes a part time security guard who witnesses all of it. After that brutal second act, the film slows down to deliver a brutal gut punch in the third act, but the script could have done with a little bit of polishing to really hammer the point home as the third act does falter a little bit.

However, by the time the credits begin to roll, and the crux of the film reaches its audience, it really will make you sit up and take notice of the problems that have existed in America for the best part of half a century. In that time that you would have thought that humanity might have move forward from that point, that things are still far from perfect with innocent folk, quite often black people, losing their lives to severe unnecessary police brutality to this very moment. It will really give you plenty of food for thought. Though these events took place fifty years ago, there are messages in this movie that are incredibly still relevant in today’s society, and society needs to immediately sit up and take notice.

Uncompromisingly brutal, tense storytelling at its finest/scariest but told with authenticity and care that makes the film’s themes as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

civil war
Image rights belong to Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Captain America: Civil War – Film Review

Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Daniel Bruhl

Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo

Synopsis: With tensions between the Avengers high following political interference, this results in a rift that divides the team with Captain America leading one faction and Iron Man the other, leading to all out war.

Review: The number thirteen is considered by many to be a very unlucky number, well not for Marvel Studios. After two successful phases and twelve films of their cinematic universe that have enjoyed phenomenal success with audiences across the globe, their thirteenth entry into their MCU, sees the return of the Russo brothers directing the story that many fans have been hoping to see, this of course being Civil War.

The actions of the Avengers in places such as New York, Washington DC and Sokovia have taken their toll, and the world has decided enough is enough. The actions of these superhero folk must now be put into check, and for some of the team this is the step they must take. For others, this is a step too far and the disagreements spill out into a proper war between heroes that have been friends for the most part for several movies now. For the majority of the MCU movies, we have seen the hero, whoever they may be, fighting a villain who is all too similar to them, you think Ant Man VS Yellow Jacket, Captain America VS Red Skull, Iron Man VS Iron Monger. This isn’t to say these battles were boring, but it did begin to get formulaic, well not any more. The formula is thrown completely out of the window.

The story penned by Winter Soldier writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely does allow each character ample screen time. Each character is sufficiently fleshed out enough so that you understand why each character is on their respective side. In addition, while you may have picked your side before the film was released, the story does a tremendous job of making the audience conflicted. There is not a protagonist and an antagonist, the perspectives of both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are well realised and you fully understand where both of them are coming from.

Chris Evans and RDJ have both owned the roles they have played since they first took them and here they once again both deliver excellent and sincere performances as the leads of what is a superb ensemble cast, each character is wonderfully portrayed by their respective actor. The new players making their debuts into this mad Marvel world are also outstanding with Chadwick Boseman excellent as Black Panther and Tom Holland’s portrayal as Peter Parker/Spider-Man is the best that has ever been put to screen. Marvel films certainly have an element of humour in plenty of them, as this comes from your friendly neighbourhood Spider Man and Ant Man, and it’s glorious. For many, there was a feeling that this was going to be Avengers 2.5, but fear not, because this is most definitely a Captain America movie, as it carries on themes that were present in The Winter Soldier.

The Russos certainly showed their hand when it came to action sequences with the Winter Soldier, and here once again, their work is excellent and shows that the Avengers: Infinity War movies are in very safe hands. Right from the very first sequence, the suspense is maintained throughout, and it’s helmed superbly. There is a little bit of shaky cam and some fast editing, but the directors manage to use them very effectively to get the heartbeat of the audience beating fast. Furthermore the airport battle that is shown in the trailers, can definitely lay claim to hands down, the best action battle that the MCU has seen to date, it certainly is a proper war between these guys and it’s just awesome to watch.

However, there are certain parts in which the story did play things safe but it is hard to deny the quality job that the Russos have done in making what are the two best movies of the MCU to date. Phase 3 has got off to the best start it possibly could have, and in this era of superhero movie dominance, Marvel for now at least, continues to lead the way over DC by a significant distance.

A thrilling ensemble cast with some superb performances from MCU veterans and the newbies alike, on top of some outstanding action sequences, the MCU is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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Image is property of Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Film Review 

Cast:  Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson

Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo

Synopsis: Taking place after the events of the Avengers, Steve Rogers continues to struggle to adapt to the modern world, and find his place in society. However, his allegiance to S.H.I.EL.D is called into question amid the rise of an adversary known only as the “Winter Soldier”

Review: Phase Two of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is now in full swing and with the second solo film featuring our favourite starred and striped hero, as he struggles to adapt to an era in which he knows nothing about. All the while he is working for an organisation that is holding some sinister secrets. All in all, what we have is one of the best Marvel films ever made and by far the best Marvel film of Phase Two of their cinematic Universe.

The film is set in Modern USA after the events of The Avengers with Cap living his life whilst working for S.H.I.EL.D.  It is soon realised that S.H.I.EL.D has some conflicting ideas to what he stands for, and of course this creates friction between Rogers and his employer. He is the patriotic, do it for your country superhero, but S.H.I.EL.D is not on the same wavelength as he is. This conflicting ideologies causes Rogers to question who he really works for, in doing so it adds real depth to the character of Captain America. While all this is happening, a new enemy appears and begins to cause some destruction. The ruthless Winter Soldier is out on a mission, to eradicate Captain America. The Winter Soldier was a terrific, deadly foe played brilliantly by someone who you may recognise, and ranks as one of the best villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, second only to the God of Mischief Loki.

winter soldier

Chris Evans was again superb in the role of Captain America, the character had almost unprecedented depth and he was awesome in the action scenes once more. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow was likewise superb. This is her biggest role in a Marvel film to date, and she gave an excellent performance.  Similarly, Samuel L Jackson gives his best performance in the role of Nick Fury.  There are a number of excellent newcomers also. Anthony Mackie as “Falcon” was an excellent addition to the case and provided some great moments in the film.  Likewise with Robert Redford playing S.H.I.E.L.D boss Alexander Pierce.

Along with some great characters, new and old, the film has some incredible action sequences. The first action scene at the start of the film was intense and enthralling, but as the film progresses they only get better. The scenes with the Winter Soldier are particularly thrilling, especially when he faces off against Captain America. Cap’s shield remains one of the coolest weapons in the Marvel universe.

By now, it is evident that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is all interwoven at this point, and this is particularly true. there are many expansions on what went on in the first Captain America film that are touched upon in this film. Thus you should ideally have seen the first film before going into watch this instalment as a lot of of the plot points will make much more sense, and the film will be much more enjoyable.

Nevertheless: Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a superb film and a definite step up from The First Avenger. There were improvements in every respect from villian, to action, to character development. It is the best stand alone film from Marvel since the first Iron Man film. It does not quite eclipse The Avengers, but  it sets the story up perfectly for next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel fans should rejoice as it is currently ruling the Superhero genre of films.  DC’s untitled Batman VS Superman film is still two years away, and if this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a success, there may be no stopping the Marvel Cinematic Universe from world domination, of the superhero genre of films.

A terrific story with some outstanding performances from Evans and Johansson, this is the MCU’s best movie so far, without a question of a doubt.

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