Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Review Phase 2

Movie Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Winter Soldier is perhaps the most complete and cohesive of all the Marvel Universe films thus far – while it might not have the box office draw of the Avengers, The Winter Soldier presents some major ramifications for the in-Universe continuity, pushing both Cap and Black Widow out of their relative comfort zones, and setting the stage for a massive showdown in the next Captain America film (due out after Avengers 2). There’s enough action to keep the junkies happy, plenty of plot, some nice character development (especially of Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow, surprisingly) and a few nice Easter Eggs paving the way for franchise expansion in the future. A rip-roaring adventure yarn with plenty of style to burn.

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Movie Review – Tokarev

What begins as an involving crime saga yarn featuring Nic Cage, rapidly comes undone once “retribution” is sought for Cage’s character’s murder. Cage overacts again, albeit in a restrained manner this time, while the characters, plot and pacing all lack momentum, energy or involvement. In the end, Tokarev becomes something of a chore to sit through. It never rings true.

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Movie Review – Pompeii

Blank-canvas epic devoid of either humor or dramatic heft, Pompeii is all build-up and no payoff. Basically a cataclysmic Gladiator riff, the film wavers between paying homage to the countless who perished in that disaster, and being a cheesy, cliched, out-and-out B-movie designed to do one thing – punish your home theater’s speaker system. If you can cut through the dire dialogue and rote, generic characters, Pompeii might entertain only in the most superficial manner. Expect much more than yet another summer destruct-o-fest, and you’ll be left wanting.

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Movie Review – I, Frankenstein

Not to be confused with Will Smith’s I Robot, this film is utter garbage. A C-grade action flick lacking nuance or subtlety, this rock-operatic fantasy clone punches legend into a cliche as it puts the famous monster – here played by an utterly un-monsterly Aaron Eckhart – into battle against the supernatural forces of Satan. On some level I guess there’s people who will find this entertaining purely on a sugar-rush level, but this reviewer is not among them. Trashy, pulp-inspired dreck at its worst.

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Movie Review – RoboCop (2014)

If you take away the fact that the 2014 edition of RoboCop is a remake, and squeeze your eyes tightly as this film shits all over the film it’s remaking, RoboCop is still an enormously unsatisfying film. It stumbles considerably with both its human and action elements, and lacks any kind of tense or exciting climactic moment in the third act; RoboCop is a bland, uninviting, unexciting modern-day actioner that strives for social and moral interrogation, only to come up seriously short. Once again, the question must be asked…. why remake a classic, especially if the remake is a dogs turd?

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Movie Review – Khumba

An exercise in tedious over-familiarity and generic, lifeless characters (save for Richard E Grant’s hilarious vocal turn as a vain ostrich) makes this Lion King wannabe an outright bore. Although definitely one of the most beautifully animated films of 2013, the story and characters just never resonate, leaving Khumba a hollow, lifeless affair that generates neither laughs nor excitement.

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Movie Review – Sorcerer

Tense, gripping adventure yarn has Friedkin’s stamp of auterism all over it, with nail-biting stunt sequences accompanied by the ever-present fear of explosive detonation. While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which character to get behind (in most ways, they’re all assholes of some kind) there’s a level of camaraderie and man-vs-nature to this exquisitely filmed story. While it will forever be haunted by the numerous production troubles it encountered, and wither in the shadow of being released less than a month after Star Wars stormed the box office, Sorcerer is a hidden gem of an action classic from an era where hard-as-nails characters, and uncompromising violence and context were the norm. Worth a look.

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Movie Review – Devil’s Due

Fairly standard “found footage” film actually delivers some minor entertainment by way of a spooky, Rosemary’s Baby-knock off in the form of a modern couple update. While much of what transpires is designed purely to shock or (more often) deliver some fairly freaky and unique visual effects, the clunky dialogue and poorly developed characters remove much of what potential this film had going for it. Filmed for under $10 million, Devil’s Due is a good B-level scare flick, although somewhat cliched and often derivative.

Alfred Hitchcock Collection Hitchcock's British Films Movie Review

Movie Review – Ring, The (1927)

A critical success (but box office flop) on release, Hitchcock’s The Ring remains a resolutely middling affair that offers neither excitement or thrills, but rather a tepid, almost inane love triangle between three people who should probably know better. While the story flounders here and there, the cast do their best to elevate the material (and largely succeed), but even by Hitch’s own standards, he can’t get this one into top gear. A curiosity that should be more widely seen, The Ring is technically excellent and emotionally uneventful.

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Movie Review – Nut Job, The

There’s a single word I can use to describe The Nut Job in its entirety. That word? Tedious. The Nut Job’s been-there, done-that story, flat, lifeless characters and cliched, and try-hard pop-culture savvy meander into stultifying, cloying inadequacy faster than the central character – Surly the squirrel – can collect enough nuts to fill his tiny mouth. Infantile scripting and humor running the gamut of half-assed and unfunny leave this film lacking almost any positive marketability whatsoever. At least the animation is worth a gander.