Tag: Scarlett Johansson

MOVIE REVIEW | Captain America: Civil War (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I really wouldn’t consider myself a Marvel or comic book fanboy, but as I read my own gushing praise and geeky enthusiasm for this movie, I might have to rethink that.”

 Captain 1.jpg
“This job… We try to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn’t mean everybody.  But if we can’t find a way to live with that, next time… Maybe nobody gets saved.”

Marvel Studios really has cracked the code.  I read comic books for a few years as a teenager, but I’m in no way an authority of devotee.  To me, the already massive, ever expanding Marvel cinematic universe is filled with movies that are all basically the same.  The names of the characters might change, and the objects of desire they’re trying to keep from their interchangeable villains might be different, but strip away the surface level stuff, and there’s really no difference between a movie about The Avengers, compared to one about The Guardians of the Galaxy, or the latest offering starring Thor.  Yet for all of that, I can’t help loving the ride every single time I take it.  Which just happened once again, with Captain America: Civil War.

After the events of The Avengers: Age of Ultron saw an entire city ripped from the earth, raised to the sky and thousands killed, the US government, represented by Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), decides it’s time for enhanced humans like the Avengers to come under the control of the United Nations.  The two alpha Avengers are split on this, with Iron Man / Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), in favor, and Captain America / Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) firmly against. (more…)

***2015 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron

“I was designed to save the world. People would look to the sky, and see hope… I’ll take that from them first!”

It seems like we’re getting closer and closer to Marvel universe singularity.  Soon, there’ll only be two kinds of movies, solo superhero movies, and super hero team up movies.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti super hero movies.  The Marvel universe is just too reliably good.  But in the lead up to this latest installment, I was definitely starting to feel a little super hero fatigue.  You can have too much of a good thing.  But, I’m only human, so it was pretty much impossible to not get sucked into seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron.


With a James Bond style cold open, the Avengers, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are mid mission, raiding a compound of the evil organization, Hydra.   The baddies from Captain America: Winter Soldier, Hydra have managed to score the staff of Loki from Thor: The Dark World.  Once the Avengers secure the staff, Tony Stark decides to see if he can unlock its secrets. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron

“I was designed to save the world. People would look to the sky, and see hope… I’ll take that from them first!”

It seems like we’re getting closer and closer to Marvel universe singularity.  Soon, there’ll only be two kinds of movies, solo superhero movies, and super hero team up movies.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti super hero movies.  The Marvel universe is just too reliably good.  But in the lead up to this latest installment, I was definitely starting to feel a little super hero fatigue.  You can have too much of a good thing.  But, I’m only human, so it was pretty much impossible to not get sucked into seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron.


With a James Bond style cold open, the Avengers, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are mid mission, raiding a compound of the evil organization, Hydra.   The baddies from Captain America: Winter Soldier, Hydra have managed to score the staff of Loki from Thor: The Dark World.  Once the Avengers secure the staff, Tony Stark decides to see if he can unlock its secrets. (more…)

***2014 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-HD-Wallpaper1

When I was really young, I loved Superman as much as any kid of the male variety.  I assume it comes with the dude DNA.  But it didn’t take long before I grew out of it.  Everything about Superman was just too simple.  He was so all powerful that there were never any real physical threats.  And he was so pure, there was never any inner turmoil or conflict.  It was a strong assumption of the same attributes that made me never pay any attention to Captain America.


But in the lead up to The Avengers a couple of years ago, I thought I should watch the movies that all worked as its intro, so I churned through Thor, the Ed Norton Hulk and the first Cap movie in an intense binge, and was surprised by how much I liked them all, especially Captain America: The First Avenger.  But what I loved most about that movie, was the WWII setting.  And after finding Cap the least interesting character in The Avengers, I wasn’t in any hurry to see his next movie, set totally in present day.  So, how do you make the idealistic, honourable, always-does-the-right-thing, good guy interesting?  Easy, you turn the world against him. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-HD-Wallpaper1

When I was really young, I loved Superman as much as any kid of the male variety.  I assume it comes with the dude DNA.  But it didn’t take long before I grew out of it.  Everything about Superman was just too simple.  He was so all powerful that there were never any real physical threats.  And he was so pure, there was never any inner turmoil or conflict.  It was a strong assumption of the same attributes that made me never pay any attention to Captain America.


But in the lead up to The Avengers a couple of years ago, I thought I should watch the movies that all worked as its intro, so I churned through Thor, the Ed Norton Hulk and the first Cap movie in an intense binge, and was surprised by how much I liked them all, especially Captain America: The First Avenger.  But what I loved most about that movie, was the WWII setting.  And after finding Cap the least interesting character in The Avengers, I wasn’t in any hurry to see his next movie, set totally in present day.  So, how do you make the idealistic, honourable, always-does-the-right-thing, good guy interesting?  Easy, you turn the world against him.

On a mission with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Steve Rogers (AKA Captain America), begins to realise that his employer S.H.I.E.L.D, lead by Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury, might not have the same idealistic, honourable, always-does-the-right-thing, good guy intentions as himself.  This is where we meet Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a suit, high up in the World Security Council, who’s about to launch three massive air battle stations that will stop criminals and threats, before they commit crimes or become a threat.

This is a little too ‘big brother’ for Rogers.  Soon, Fury’s being attacked, Rogers and Black Widow are on the run, and it turns out  that S.H.I.E.L.D has been steadily infiltrated by a group of baddies known as Hydra, for last few decades.  Also, there’s a bad guy named the Winter Soldier, who’s really just more of an annoyance than a formidable villain.  Buggers me why he gets his name in the title.

Without the WWII setting, without the support of Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk, without a big, famous bad guy from the comics, Captain America: The Winter Soldier really delivers.  Chris Evans as Cap nails the tricky balance of all American 40s hero, and modern day, super hero.  While the skin tight cat suit can take some of the credit, Johansson’s more than just a bombshell.  She makes Black Widow a really fun ass kicker.  New addition to this Marvel movie universe, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson (AKA the Falcon), bounces of off them both perfectly.  And as an unnamed World Security Council member, Alan Dale gives me a great excuse to link to my review of Houseboat Horror.

The brothers Russo, Anthony and Joe, seemed like a weird, out of nowhere pick to direct something this massive.  Before now, they had two movie credits to their names, the totally under seen and under appreciated Welcome to Collinwood, and the understandably under seen and since forgotten, You, Me and Dupree.  Their major successes had been on the small screen, most notably with the totally awesome Arrested Development and the totally overrated Community.

At first, I couldn’t figure out why a studio would take this chance on such an important, tent pole movie by giving it to these two TV veterans.  Then I realised it’s not such a wild choice.  Arrested Development and Community are both so heavily reliant on meticulous timing to make their jokes work.  The kind of meticulous timing that’s needed to pull off big, action set pieces.

The hiring of the Russo brothers also points to another decision the big studios seem to be getting increasingly right with comic book movies.  They’re less and less being given to big budget hacks like Michael Bay and Brett Ratner, and more and more being given to not to just comic book nerds, but real film nerds.  The kinds of film nerds who worship the 70s cinema of people like Scorsese, Coppola and Friedkin, and bring that 70s grit to these glossy, modern behemoths.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier is big, loud, dumb, fun, action.  But it’s big, loud, dumb, fun, action done right.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Directed By – Anthony RussoJoe Russo
Written By – Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

MOVIE REVIEW | Don Jon (2013)

DON-JON-Quad
Over the last decade, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has emerged as one of the biggest names in Hollywood.  And he did the right way.  He could have gone straight from sitcom kid, to dodgy teen comedy.  Well, he did do that, but luckily he learnt his lesson from 10 Things I Hate About You, then disappeared for years, playing small roles in small movies, earning his stripes and learning his craft.  Then he popped up as the lead in the ever growing cult classic Brick in 2005.  There were little seen things like Stop Loss, The Lookout and Mysterious Skin.  Until he hit the big leagues with Inception and The Dark Knight Rises.  He even built up enough goodwill for audiences to politely look the other way and pretend trash like GI Joe and Premium Rush never happened.  And now, his inevitable and total domination of Hollywood takes its next step, with his screenwriting and directorial debut, Don Jon.


Not content to just write and direct, JGL gives himself the lead role as well, Jon, a porn obsessed guido from New Jersey.  He spends his nights in clubs with his friends, rating women, before going home with a different one each night.  But only if she scores as an 8 or higher.  One night, he spots a perfect 10, Scarlett Johansson’s Barbara.  He works harder than ever before to bed her and even gives up his skirt chasing, casual sex ways.  But the one thing he can’t give up, is porn.

I’m sure their performances as Jon and Barbara are very true to life and authentic to the region, but the thick accents and exaggerated swagger of both Gordon-Levitt and Johannson veer close to being characters in a sketch.  Everyone in this movie is so over the top in their New Jerseyness, Paulie Wallnuts from The Sopranos, would say, “Madon !  Hey T, you want I should wack these bukiaks for making fun of the way we talk?  Forgettaboutit.”

Don Jon also takes us through the never ending weekly cycle of Jon’s life.  Gym, road rage filled car trip, church, confession, Sunday lunch with the family, night school…  Second verse, same as the first.  While taking night classes, Don meets Esther (Juliannae Mooore), a middle aged woman with a tragic back story who might just be exactly what he needs to grow up and take the next step in life.

The endless cycle of Jon’s life is a nice touch and a good filmic device for Gordon-Levitt to reiterate the dissatisfaction of Jon’s life and emptiness of his porn addiction.  But it’s a rookie director mistake to smash the audience over the head with as much as he does.  It’s like he kept coming up with different ways to represent this never ending loop, but instead of choosing the best one, he just piled them all on top of each other.  The church confession and Sunday lunch with the family already say everything he needs to say and make his point, all the rest is just unnecessary.

And when the big moments of emotional growth and character development predictably and awkwardly stumble out at the end like a new born foal, I have a feeling Gordon-Levitt thought he was saying something really deep about love, relationships, addiction and maturity.  But it all seemed slight, inconsequential and unearned.

On the plus side, the film making is very assured, confident and more than serviceable.  He knows how to frame a shot, block a scene and tell a story.  The only problem is, there’s not much of a story to tell.  Maybe next time, he should leave the screenplay to someone else.

Don Jon
Directed By – Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Written By – Joseph Gordon-Levitt