Last Week in Movie News (02 May – 08 May)

alden-ehrenreich-could-be-the-star-of-the-young-han-solo-casting-wars-933815Here is some of the major movie news that dropped last week, along with links to the full stories:

Alden Ehrenreich will be playing the young Han Solo in an upcoming Star Wars spinoff film.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure had to stop production indefinitely because its lead actor, Dylan O’Brien, was seriously injured while filming a stunt.

Seth Grahame-Smith, who was set to direct the upcoming superhero film The Flash left the project due to “creative differences.”

A picture showing costumes for the title characters in the Power Rangers reboot was revealed:

prangersThe directors of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War Part I & II revealed the the films will be retitled and that the two films will be “very different movies.”

A Space Jam sequel is in the works, with LeBron James set to star.

It may have been accidentally revealed that Captain Marvel will make her first appearance in Avengers: Infinity War.

The upcoming Mummy reboot, which will star Tom Cruise, is looking to add Russell Crowe to the cast.

Star Wars star Daisy Ridley is set to play the title role in the upcoming film Ophelia, which reimagines the classic Shakespeare tale of Hamlet from the character Ophelia’s point of view.

Captain America: Civil War was the #1 movie at the box office this weekend, making $181.8 million, and becoming the fifth largest opening weekend of all time. However, this is still well below the $200-$210 million it was predicted to make. No official word yet from anyone as to why it made significantly less than predicted.

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Captain America: Civil War Review

Captain-America-Civil-War-main-posterThe following review contains NO SPOILERS.

tl;dr – I’m not sure if Civil War is a perfect movie, but it is a perfect comic book movie. I honestly believe that years from now, this will be considered the Empire Strikes Back of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Bold claims above, I know, but this movie packs an emotional punch. I really don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ll say that the state of the MCU at the end of this movie is about the same state that the Rebellion is in at the end of Episode V, hence the reference above. I’m still processing this movie, so I don’t know if I can definitively rank it with other comic book movies. But it might be the best MCU movie so far, and it might even be the best comic book movie of all time. Might. Like I said, I’m still processing.

Being a massive comic book fan, I personally consider the original Civil War storyline to be one of the best stories that Marvel has ever published. Saying that, I also have to say that I was extremely satisfied with this film. No, it doesn’t even come close to following the storyline from the comics (none of the Marvel movies really have), but it followed the spirit of the comic perfectly. Both Cap’s and Tony’s viewpoints have merit, and I feel the story will successfully create a divide among moviegoers, just like the original story divided comic book readers. While the marketing for this film has been pretty good, I know several people who are confused about why they are fighting. That will not be the case when you watch this film. Lines are drawn, and they are very clear, and everyone will pick a side for a specific reason. Everyone. Oh, and unlike a certain other superhero fight movie that came out this year (*cough* BvS *cough*), the title fight is a significant portion of this movie, and there may be more than one round of fighting.

This is Marvel’s most serious movie to date. Don’t get wrong there is some terrific and spot-on humor. It might actually some of the best-utilized humor in the MCU. Unlike some of the jokes in Age of Ultron, which seemed scripted (obviously they were, as it was a movie, but a lot of them felt very unnatural), my initial reaction is to say that all of the gags in this movie felt like they would actually happen in these given situations with these specific people. Especially the ones from Spider-Man.

Oh yeah, Spider-Man’s in this movie. I’ve heard a lot of people say that this is the best Spider-Man we’ve ever gotten in a movie. While I thought he was amaz-, nope, spectac-, nope, sensatio-, nope, um, really good, he’s only in the movie for like 10-15 minutes. I’ll need to see his full movie next year to determine whether I really regard him as the best (as am I a huge and unashamed fan of the both the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield iterations of Spider-Man). But he was really good, and I’m now even more excited for his movie next year.

Prior to this tangent, I was talking about the seriousness of this movie. As I said, just as Empire Strikes Back took a dark turn after the original Star Wars, this movie sees most of our favorite characters go down dark paths. It’s not as dark as say Marvel’s own Daredevil show or even something like the Dark Knight trilogy, but this isn’t your happy-go-lucky Avengers team that we’ve seen up until now. Bad stuff happens, and that bad stuff has consequences. Much like the original comic, the story goes past the point of no return, and I doubt that things will ever be the same for most of these characters.

Speaking of characters, they all get their moments to shine. Everyone, and I mean everyone, of the Avengers gets their own little storyline in this movie. The character that I was most surprised about getting a significant story was Sharon Carter, however. She was criminally under-utilized in Winter Soldier. And while she isn’t featured in this movie quite as much as I wish she’d be (she is one of the best supporting character from the Captain America comics), it was certainly a pleasant surprise to see her as much as we did. All that said, the comments that “this isn’t an Avengers movie, this is a Captain America movie” are totally false. Sure, almost everything that happens in this movie can be traced back to Captain America, but it’s in the same way that almost everything that happens in Age of Ultron can be traced back to Tony. If this movie needed to be called “Captain America: Civil War”, AoU should have been called “Iron Man: Age of Ultron.” Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a complaint, I loved this movie, but “Avengers: Civil War” would have been a more fitting title.

There is really so much more I could say. The acting was great. The action was mind-blowingly amazing. There were so many moments that made my comic-book-nerd heart happy. Spider-Man was wonderful. Black Panther was set up extremely well for his upcoming movie. There were so many great character interactions, especially between members of the same teams, and members of the opposite teams. (So pretty much all of the character interactions). Every character gets a moment to be cool. And, while I definitely have a side (Team Cap all the way), there is no clear-cut choice between who is right and who is wrong.

I don’t feel like I need to rant any more about this movie. If you haven’t seen this yet, stop what you are doing and go to the theater right now. If you’ve already seen this, you should probably go see it again (I definitely will). Let me know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to use spoiler warnings where appropriate! If you enjoyed this review, please consider sharing it on social media! 

 

Movie Club – Captain America: The Winter Soldier Discussion

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Welcome to McKoo’s Movie Club! For more info on how it works, click here. The movie that we are discussing this week is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead, so please return after you’ve watched it if you haven’t yet.

Two years later, and I still think that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of Marvel’s best movies. While I enjoyed The First Avenger, as well as Cap’s scenes in Avengers, this was the movie that really cemented the cinematic success of the character in my eyes (as well as in the eyes of many other moviegoers and critics). While those previous two films portrayed him as a morally upright character, this movie puts those aspects to the test when his opponents aren’t Nazis or alien invaders, they are his own countrymen working for his government. Winter Soldier takes him beyond his “boy scout” role portrayed before and makes him more like Edward Snowden meets Jason Bourne. In doing so, Marvel also began a trend that continued with films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man: mixing the superhero genre with other film genres (such as space opera and heist film) to diversify their movie offerings. Here, Winter Soldier combines a superhero movie with a political thriller.

The fact that this is a compelling action movie that stands up with some of the best action films becomes even more impressive when you consider that this is the first action movie and the first big-budget film directed by the brother duo Joe and Anthony Russo, who were previously known primarily for their work on TV comedies. Many people were skeptical when they were handed the keys to this movie, but after this success, they’ve also been hired to direct Civil War (which comes out today), as well as both parts of the upcoming Avenger: Infinity War.

The film also contains great acting all-around. As mentioned before, Captain America becomes an indispensable part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with this film, and that is largely due to Chris Evans’ portrayal of the character. Once again, I thought he did well in First Avenger and Avengers, but I thought he gave a fairly replaceable performance (in other words, just about any good actor could have played the role, and I would have been fine with it). It’s in this movie that he seems to start finally making the role his own. Additionally, Samuel L. Jackson also delivers the best Nick Fury scenes to date. While he was relegated to the role of a talking head for most of his other scenes in previous Marvel films, the car chase scene involving Nick Fury toward the beginning of the film is arguably one of the best films in the movie. Also, for all of those who have been clamoring for a Black Widow solo film, this is the closest we’ve gotten so far, and what makes the character successful is once again the acting. Much like with Cap, I enjoyed Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Widow in Iron Man 2 and Avengers, but I didn’t start to believe that she was a vital part of the character until this movie.

Being a fan of the comics, I loved the story of the film as it simultaneously took some cues from one of my favorite comic book storylines of all time (Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America) by bringing in characters like the Winter Soldier, but it also managed to keep me guessing. I loved the fact that this movie was able to successfully bring back Hydra, one of the best and most formidable terrorist cells in Marvel comics, and that it was able to do so while also providing social commentary on current events such as NSA surveillance. One of the most relevant lines from the film is delivered by Arnim Zola (whose presence in a computer was another great Easter Egg for comics fans) when he says “humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security.”

Lastly, as mentioned before, the action scenes in this movie are what makes it really shine. In my opinion, this is one of the best “one person awesomely beats up everyone he encounters” movie since The Bourne Ultimatum. Whether it’s the scene on the freighter, Lemurian Star, that starts the movie off, the scene on the causeway of Winter Soldier and Hydra versus Cap and company, or the final heart wrenching fight on the helicarriers, this movie is packed with amazing action.

So what are your thoughts on this movie? Please add to the discussion in the comments section below! And be sure to come back next week!

NEXT WEEK’S FILM: Captain Phillips. It is available for rent on Netflix DVD, Google Play, Amazon, and VidAngel

Last Week in Movie News (25 Apr – 01 May)

20th_century_fox-logoHere is some of the major movie news that dropped last week, along with links to the full stories:

It was revealed that 20th Century Fox will not be present at San Diego Comic Con, citing fears of piracy of exclusive footage (which has been an issue for several film studios at the last few Comic Cons). This means no first looks at movies like Wolverine 3 and Assassin’s Creed for Con-goers.

The first trailer for Snowden (the biopic about NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden) dropped:

Marvel released a statement defending their casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange.

Marvel’s “Inhumans” movie was officially removed from their release schedule.

Pictures were leaked that reveal that Nathan Fillion will cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as the character Simon Williams.

Disney announced new dates for some of their live action movies.

NBCUniversal (owner of Universal Studios/Universal Pictures) bought Dreamworks Animation (the owner of franchises such as How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda).

Alicia Vikander was cast as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot.

A Goosebumps sequel was announced to be in the works.

The Jungle Book was the #1 movie at the box office for the third weekend in a row, making another $42.4 million.

McKoo’s Movie Club Is Finally Here!

resized_all-the-things-meme-generator-watch-all-the-movies-d835bfSo you know those regularly-held book clubs that people go to? Where a book is picked and then everyone reads it and comes back together a little while later to discuss it? For quite some time now, I’ve wondered why such a concept isn’t more regularly utilized as a way to watch movies. So I figured, why not start my own? In fact, that was the inspiration for creating this blog, as well as what I hope will be its main purpose: as an opportunity for an internet community to watch films together and discuss them.

So how will this work? Each week on Thursday, I plan to pick a film and all those who are interested can watch it during the following week (I’ve chosen Thursdays because that gives you an opportunity to have a movie night during the upcoming weekend, if you so desire). Then on the following Thursday, I will make a post reviewing and discussing what I thought of the film. Everyone who watched it in the past week (or has watched it at any point in time, really), can feel free to join the discussion in the comments section of that post. At the bottom of that post, I will then tell what the movie is for the following week. Overall, I’d like this to be a pretty low-commitment opportunity for movie-lovers to discover new and old films to watch and rewatch, and to provide a location for us to discuss them. That said, if you’re not interested in a film that has been chosen for a particular week, that’s totally fine. Stop by the next week, scroll down to the end of that post, and check out what the film for that new week is, and hopefully it will be one that is of greater interest to you.

What kind of movies will we watch? All the kinds! Classics, recent blockbusters, award-winning films, and fan-favorites! The only kind of movie I won’t choose are the ones that are currently in theaters. I recognize that movie-going can be expensive, so I plan to choose only films that are available through various rental services, so that people aren’t spending a ridiculous amount of money on movies each week. I’m also completely open to suggestions! I can’t guarantee that I will choose every film that people suggest, but I will try to get around to many of them.

Now, the important question is, what movie will we start with? Well, with Civil War coming out next week, I thought I’d choose a relevant one:

THIS WEEK’S FILM: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It is available for rent on Netflix DVD, Google Play, Amazon, and VidAngel.

Jungle Book Review – SPOILER FREE (except where noted)

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tl;dr – Not only does this live-action remake far transcend the original, it’s also Disney’s best live-action remake of one of its animated films to date. Even if you didn’t like or have never seen the original cartoon, you can (and probably will) enjoy this movie. If you are a fan of the original, prepare to have your socks blown off, as this is arguably one of the greatest remakes ever made.

I should probably start by saying that while I grew up watching the original cartoon, it was never among my favorite Disney movies. It’s certainly enjoyable, but I wouldn’t consider it one of “The Greats.” However, in my opinion, this live-action version is Disney’s best “remake an animated movie into live-action” movie thus far.

Perhaps the most important discussion point: this movie is a technological marvel. If you didn’t know: this was filmed entirely in downtown LA on a studio set. With the exception of Mowgli, almost everything you see on the screen is CG. AND IT ALWAYS LOOKS COMPLETELY REAL. Unlike 2009’s Avatar (which I absolutely love, y’all haters can go ahead and start hating) which took us to an alien world that almost always looked “real” with completely fictional flora and fauna, this film transports up to the jungles of India, with realistic animals (albeit talking ones), and it ALL. LOOKS. AMAZING. This is one of the most visually stunning movies that I have ever seen. Last year the director said that this is the most technologically advanced film ever made, and after seeing it, I believe him. If you want to get the full experience of this movie, I *HIGHLY* recommend seeing it in 3D. Another brief comment about the visuals: I don’t know how they did it, but they actually somehow managed to make King Louie look like Christopher Walken and Baloo look like Bill Murray. I mean, they still looked like a real Orangutan and Bear and not some freakish hybrid, but I could see facial expressions from both of the two actors that I’ve seen them express in other movies when they are human. I feel this added an extra layer to their performance, and made the characters more expressive.

Speaking of actors, Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli, deserves some kind of award. Not only did he make Mowgli an enjoyable and relatable character, he did it without virtually ANY of the visuals that you’ll see in the movie. Sure, he had some props and knew where to look and where to move, but none of the animals he interacts with are real. All of them were either puppets that got completely replaced with CGI, or were never there in any form to begin with. Unlike the original cartoon, where I felt like Mowgli was just the character that had things happen to him, Sethi’s portrayal of Mowgli is the irreplaceable center of this film and the instigator of most of the story, as opposed to the person that the story happens to. I especially liked how he was portrayed as a skilled problem solver, which emphasized one of his unique human characteristics.

Unlike Zootopia, which I felt repeatedly bashed the audience over the head with its (admittedly timely and relevant) message that accepting others for their differences is important, I felt that the message of this film was much more subtle, but just as present, which resulted in a significantly less preachy film. This movie recognizes that diversity is important and teaches that rather than trying to be something that you are not, you should just be you. This is shown especially when Mowgli realizes that he needs to stop trying to be a wolf, and accept that he is a man, and should embrace that part of himself (and quite literally is able to save the day when he does so). This movie is very much a coming-of-age tale, as Mowgli comes to learn exactly what it means to be human. However, the film also shows that though everyone may be different (in this case, numerous diverse species), it is only by overcoming our differences and working together that we can overcome the obstacles that threaten us. While this could have easily been expressed in a cheesy or preachy way, I felt that it was a completely natural part of the story, and at no time did I feel like the movie was delivering a sermon (which is something that Zootopia seemed to do multiple times).

The following section may contain some minor spoilers, but I’m just discussing two scenes from the cartoon that made it into this remake. If you don’t want to know anything about what was or wasn’t included from the cartoon, then you can skip to the next paragraph, but if you don’t care about knowing that some of the scenes from the cartoon are in this film, then read on: I feel I need to talk about the two musical numbers in this film. “Bare Necessities” felt like a completely natural part of the movie. It didn’t feel forced because it felt less like a scene from a musical, and more like two buddies just singing for fun (it felt kind of like the Misty Mountains song from the first Hobbit). I totally believed that those two characters would have sung that song at that time. Now, as much as I really really wanted to hear Christopher Walken sing “I Wanna Be Like You” when I went into this film, when the song finally happened, I felt like it didn’t really fit into the narrative. In isolation, I enjoyed the song, but within the context of this movie, it really felt shoehorned in. When someone who has zero familiarity with the animated film sees this scene, they’re probably going to be wondering why the heck King Louie is singing, and they’re right to wonder.

All-in-all, I feel like this is one of Disney’s best movies from recent years. I’d say it’s on the level with Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph (both of which I love), and it’s significantly better than some of Disney’s previous hits like Zootopia, Frozen, and Maleficent. If you are a fan of the family movie genre, then this movie is definitely worth watching. And if you are a fan of visually compelling cinematic experiences, I would say that you have to see this film and see it in 3D. I definitely plan on seeing this movie again, and I will probably buy it on Blu-ray when it comes out.

New SPIDER-MAN photos from CIVIL WAR are here, and they’re AMAZING

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Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland) Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2016

Marvel dropped a new set of photos of Spider-Man from the upcoming Captain America: Civil War today, and they are simply perfect. The full set of photos can be found here. My personal favorite is the somewhat stationary image of Spidey on the side of the building, simply because the pose that he takes looks as though is was ripped directly from a comic illustrated by Steve Ditko. Also, the Spider logo on the back in the fifth picture is much more similar to the comics than than I’ve ever seen (utilizing the very round red spider with stocky legs, rather than the more lifelike looking spider of the previous two iterations). This might be the most visually faithful adaptation of Spider-Man yet. (Is that a hint of web-pits I see in the third picture?) Lastly, while that last picture is mostly shrouded is shadow (pretty much only the eyes are prominent), the eyes almost seem more gold than white. Could this be a tease of the Iron Spider costume that fans have been hoping will pop up? Let me know what you think of these images in the comments below!