Captain Marvel (2019)


My Name is Carol.

In a concerted effort to put out more content and make the end of the year easier on myself by having material to use to remember these movies I’ve seen throughout the year, I am going to try to review the new movies I see more often.  You’re welcome.  And since I saw so many damned movies at the end of the year, I could not imagine going back to the theaters until this movie released.  Obviously, I was super excited for today’s movie.  It should come as no surprise.  The word “Marvel” appears on the poster many times, as the company that makes it and the name of the character.  How would I not have seen it?  This movie is Captain Marvel, written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, written by Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Lashana Lynch, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Djimon Hounsou, and Gemma Chan.

Vers (Larson) is a Kree member of Starforce with amnesia typical of a RPG protagonist.  With Starforce and her commander, Yon-Rogg (Law), they undertake a mission to stop an invasion by the shapeshifting Skrulls, led by commander Talos (Mendelsohn).  The mission goes awry and Vers is captured.  The Skrulls try to sift through Vers’ memories to find the location of an experimental engine designed by Dr. Wendy Lawson (Bening), which they find to be on Earth.  Vers escapes and crashes to Earth, where she meets Nick Fury (Jackson).  Together, they try to find the engine – as well as Vers’ missing memories – and stop the sinister plot of the bad aliens.

On its announcement, I was very excited for Captain Marvel.  Closing in on when I would be able to see it, I started hearing a lot of negative reactions to the movie from the internet in general and from my friend Jordan, who acted like the movie was nothing special and I shouldn’t bother seeing it.  As if there were even the slightest chance I wasn’t going to see it.  And now that I have seen it, I think Jordan is out of his mind.  And that the internet is being the internet.  I assume the internet was mostly a bunch of angry guys who were somehow bothered that this was not another white, male superhero, even though this is the first female lead Marvel movie after 20 male lead ones.  So those people can go to hell.  Jordan, I assume, probably just expected too much.  This is an origin story.  Typically, the origin stories suffer because of how much they have to do to introduce us to the character and we don’t typically get to love that character until the second time we see them, which I imagine will happen very quickly with Captain Marvel.  I, however, already love her.  I thought this was a damned solid origin movie.  Maybe not as solid as the first Iron Man, but better than some of the other ones.  I also was indeed surprised as they intended me to be with the alien race swerve they pulled on us in the movie.  Otherwise, as a white male, I’ve seen plenty enough of me’s in Marvel movies already, especially given how uncannily similar I look to Chris Hemsworth, and I’m happy to see something different.  The movie was awesome, entertaining, and funny when it needed to be.  I didn’t feel too many heart string tugs during the movie, but I don’t think it was trying for too many.

But speaking of heart-string tugs, I burst into instant tears twice during this movie, and it warrants talking about.  Neither were because the story was trying to make me cry.  Neither were even really part of the story.  The first wasn’t even part of the movie!  It was the damned opening studio credit!  They changed the Marvel logo, usually awash with their heroes in action from their various movies, and they changed it to the biggest and best hero in the history of the company: Stan Lee.  Typing that gave me goosebumps right now and seeing it made my face well up with tears and joy as they showed proper respect to The Man himself.  I could’ve used a bit of a warning, movie!  The second was his cameo, and sadly probably one of his last.  He was just sitting on a bus talking to himself and reading something, but in the theater I missed it.  I was happy to see his cameo, but it wasn’t until later that I found out how beautiful it actually was.  The movie takes place in the 90’s and Stan was on the bus rehearsing for his scene in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats!  That was so damned beautiful and I felt a strange happiness for Smith that he got to see that shout out from his idol and friend months after losing him.  Well-played, Marvel.  You got me bad with those.

As for the action in Captain Marvel, I was scarcely disappointed.  In all of her fights, she seemed to be a real threat and a total badass.  If there is one criticism to be made of any of the fight scenes in this movie, it would be the “Just a Girl” fight scene, where she gets into a fight and No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” starts playing.  I get it; it’s the 90’s and that song was popular, and Danvers is indeed a girl.  It was a little too on the nose for my liking, I would say.  It didn’t take me out of it or ruin the scene for me.  It just made me laugh a little, but I did hear from others that they felt this was a little much, and I don’t necessarily disagree.  Otherwise it was badass, especially when she unlocks her true power and lays waste to all those enemy ships and scares off the rest by punching her fist into the palm of her hand.  That was fantastic.

All of the performances in the movie were on point.  Brie Larson was great.  She can bring pathos and comedy and action in equal measure flawlessly.  I hope she’s around for a long time because I definitely want more of this character, and I’m very excited to see how she interacts with the Avengers next month.  A lot of the best moments in the movie were the chemistry between her and Samuel L. Jackson.  A lot of those scenes played like a fun, buddy cop movie that I would love to see.  I also liked seeing how Jackson changed the character of Fury to make him seem younger and not as experienced with these kinds of things.  I also liked seeing him interact with the cat.  I would say that I thought that how they showed Fury losing his eye was funny, but not exactly how I was hoping to see it happen, shall we say?  Mendelsohn was also great, able to successfully pull off both sides of his performance, both before and after the big reveal of the movie.  It was nice that he also got to play for a while without all the makeup that would probably hold him back in his performance, though you really couldn’t tell.  Jude Law was also great (did I mention all of the performances were?) but I can’t really think of anything in particular to say about his performance that I didn’t already say about Mendelsohn’s.  And lastly, Clark Gregg was great.  I would’ve liked more from Coulson though, just because I like him so much and he’s not in the MCU as much since Avengers.

Regardless of what friends and sexist idiots on the internet told me, I very much enjoyed Captain America.  It was fun, surprising, action-packed, and exactly what you’ve come to expect from the MCU.  Sure, all said this movie probably winds up placing in the upper middle of the MCU in terms of quality, but it’s got a lot of stiff competition, and I would say it places pretty high amongst the strictly origin film MCU, which is what you should compare it to if you’re being fair.  A strong opening for the character of Carol Danvers, keeps my excitement high to see her again both in Avengers and her own movie, and is hopefully a good start to other female-lead Marvel movies in the future.  Captain Marvel gets “I know a renegade soldier when I see one” out of “I have nothing to prove to you.”

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Sherlock Holmes (2009)


Cour, Petit Lapin, Cour.

Sherlock Holmes (2009)I’ve felt that my reviews have had a large gap in them for some time.  Not necessarily that today’s movie is such a classic or amazing movie that it was a shame I hadn’t reviewed it though.  It’s just that I’m a completionist.  I can’t have reviewed one film in a series without reviewing all of them.  Some people may refer to that as being OCD.  To that I say, “Shut up.”  I reviewed the sequel to today’s movie because I saw it in theaters, and never reviewed this movie because – though I was sure I purchased it at some point – I was never able to find it.  Eventually I repurchased it on BluRay, because I was obsessively compelled to have it since I also had the second movie.  Again, shut up.  After it sat around on my computer for a while, I eventually got around to reviewing Sherlock Holmes, based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, written by Paul Bales, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg, Michael Robert Johnson, co-written and directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Mark Strong, Rachel McAdams, Kelly Reilly, Eddie Marsan, Hans Matheson, and Geraldine James.

Detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his partner Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) prevent Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) from ritually killing a young woman, as he has killed five women before.  Three months later, Watson is preparing to move out of the flat he shares with Holmes to marry his fiancée Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly).  Holmes is not taking it well.  The two are asked to attend the hanging of Blackwood; Watson to pronounce him dead, and Holmes because it was Blackwood’s last request.  Blackwood tells Holmes that his death is only the beginning, and that three more deaths will happen after he rises from his grave.  Holmes scoffs at it and Blackwood is hanged.  Three days later, Blackwood seemingly rises from the grave.  Holmes resumes his search, and he even convinces Watson to join him so that his reputation wouldn’t be damaged.  After all, who would want to marry a doctor who can’t even tell if a man is dead or not?  To get them started, professional thief and former adversary of Holmes Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) sends them to find a ginger midget who was working with Blackwood.

If you connect the dots of me having purchased this movie twice, it will probably come as no surprise that I enjoy this movie.  I found the movie to be pretty well-written with well-developed characters.  I’m not sure how much of any of this credit goes to the writers of this movie or to Arthur Conan Doyle though.  I know he developed the characters originally, but I don’t know how much of the stuff in this movie is from his stories because his stories were written and Homie don’t play that.  But it doesn’t really matter.  There are already 20 writers on this movie, so credit is already getting spread pretty thin.  My favorite thing about the movie is how well they keep the question alive about Blackwood’s magical powers.  When I first saw this movie, I was asking myself, “Is Blackwood immortal?  Are his methods supernatural?  Or cheap parlor tricks to conceal his true identity?”  Being almost completely ignorant about Sherlock Holmes (meaning that I had never read any of them, but I knew the name and that he was a detective) I couldn’t be quite sure if it would be out of the question for someone to actually have magical powers in them.  Do they do that?  How am I supposed to know?  Why am I asking you when you can’t respond?  I also don’t know if most of the stuff they use to conceal the things he does as magic actually hold up to real world logic, but I don’t care.  It’s enjoyable.

The look of the movie is also very nice, albeit a bit dark.  Dark is what they were going for, so it’s okay.  It also looks exactly like England looks in my brain.  England either looks like a foggier version of this movie or like Harry Potter in my brain, and I refuse to go there so that it can be that way forever.  Also, I heard a lot of talk about this movie about the fights.  And not so much the fights, but the visualization that Holmes does before he actually fights.  It’s very polarizing, from what I’ve gathered.  I’ve heard people hate it and I’ve heard people love it.  I’m in the middle.  I really appreciate the fights because they’re well-choreographed, but I definitely understand that I don’t really need to see the same exact fight twice in a row.  It didn’t bother me either way though.

The performances were all great in this movie because they got exclusively great people.  Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law work great together.  They have great chemistry and Jude Law plays an excellent straight man to Downey’s crazy and generally funny Holmes.  I had a problem with Watson’s wife, Kelly Reilly, though.  Not the actress or her performance, but the character infuriated me when she threw wine in Holmes’ face for deducing her backstory correctly.  First, he was right and wasn’t saying anything that wasn’t true.  Second, you asked him to do it.  Third, you actually INSISTED that he do it.  Perhaps this was done to illustrate the exact moment in time when the phrase “Be careful what you wish for” was created.  I don’t know of anyone who could take issue with Rachel McAdams though.  I really liked her character in this movie, playing a very intelligent and crafty woman who had once outsmarted Holmes, and also playing it very selfish but with definite signs that she cares about Holmes.  I may have liked her character much more because of her extreme hotness as well.  But it was more than likely both.  But for examples of over the top beauty, you need look no further than the English bulldog in this movie.  That was a gorgeous sumbitch.

I feel a sense of satisfaction based on nothing now that I have finally finished reviewing both Sherlock Holmes movies.  I like both Sherlock Holmes movies.  The writing is well done and the mysteries keep your brain occupied while still allowing it to let the mysteries play themselves out as you just enjoy the funniness of the interactions between Holmes and Watson.  The performances and the look are also well done, and the fights are interesting and exciting, though I can definitely understand some people being irritated by with the parts where they are telegraphed before they actually happen.  Either way, I really dig this movie and recommend both Sherlock Holmes movies for a purchase.  Sherlock Holmes gets “Begging your pardon, my lord, but I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time” out of “In another life, Mr. Holmes, you would have made an excellent criminal.”

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)


They’re Dangerous on Both Ends and … Crafty in the Middle

I was pretty excited to see today’s movie, but I got delayed in seeing it by almost a month because almost everyone I would normally ask to go watch a movie with me was out of town for the holidays or had already seen it.  It’s a sequel to a movie I enjoyed a great deal from a few years ago, and probably would have already rewatched and reviewed for you all if I had any idea where my DVD was.  But when my friend Greg came back to town, I saw this as my opportunity to get to the theaters and check this movie out.  This movie is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, written by Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, Paul Anderson, Rachel McAdams, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James, and Eddie Marsan.

In 1891, in foggy old London town, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) delivers a package to some old guy at an auction house, but is headed off by an opium-adicted Asian guy … OR IS HE?!  No, it’s Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) in disguise.  It turns out to be a bomb, but Holmes takes care of it.  Adler disappears and the old guy is found dead outside, stuck with a dart in the leg.  Adler meets with Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), the mastermind behind this and other recent bombings, to explain her failure, but he takes the news about as well as she takes her poison.  Holmes takes his associate, Dr. John Watson (Jude Law), out for a bachelor party, but it turns out Holmes is actually just following a lead.  Watson gets drunk and gambles while Holmes goes to meet a fortune-telling gypsy named Simza (Noomi Rapace).  He thwarts an assassination attempt on her, but she leaves without giving him much information.  Holmes goes and meets with Moriarty who, in their verbal exchange, reveals that Watson and his fiancee, Mary Watson (Kelly Reilly), may be his next target.  After thwarting the attempt on their life, Holmes sends Mary to live with his brother, Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry), and he joins with Watson to try to discover and defuse Moriarty’s plans.

This movie shares a great deal of traits with it’s predecessor and so if you liked that one, you’ll probably like this one.  I really liked the original, and thus I really like this one.  The story is very solid (although it’s probably based somewhat on the Sherlock Holmes books).  The dialogue is original and the characters are charming.  Much like the first one, the dynamic between Holmes and Watson was very entertaining, as they constantly seemed like they hated each other and bickered like brothers, but there was a great deal of fondness there.  Also, I won’t spoil the end of the movie, but they dragged a surprise for so long that I started to believe it though I had originally thought there was no way it would happen, then gave a very satisfying ending.  I also like that they used a chess game between Holmes and Moriarty to contrast their actual plans unfolding simultaneously.  It made chess tense, and the conclusion was very satisfying.  Beyond that, it looks really good.  The settings are all very well executed, but none more than the super sweet castle where the climax of the movie takes place.  It was built into a mountain towards the top, with snow around it and a waterfall coming out of the side of it.  It reminded me of the castle Nate Drake goes through to get to Shambala in  Uncharted 2.  The biggest complaint about the look is that the movie is always so dark.  Few scenes actually take place in the daytime, and it occasionally gets a little hard to tell what’s going on.  But the scene you may have seen in the trailer of them running through the woods, trying to outrun explosions and bullets, was really well done.  It used a lot of cool, innovative camera movements and used the slo-mo expertly.  I also really liked the fight scenes in both movies.  I had heard people complain about the fact that Holmes would visualize the fight in his head before it happened, and then it would play out.  In the first movie, the only thing I didn’t like about it was that they always turned out like they did in his imagination, so they got to fill time by just showing a good fight twice.  In this movie, they play with that more so that they don’t usually turn out they way he imagined.  But I like a good hand to hand fight, and this movie has many of them.

The performances in the movie were almost entirely terrific.  Robert Downey Jr. proved himself as a fantastic dramatic actor a long time ago, but his movies recently also prove him to be a fantastic comedic actor.  He gets to use both talents in this movie.  Holmes is often pretty eccentric, but shows a great deal of emotion when he finds that the lives of the people he cares about may be in danger.  Jude Law was a perfect straight man to Downey, and got to be funny a couple of times when he got drunk or was frustrated.  Jared Harris was a good villain, playing Moriarty as kind of innocent and charming, but also did insidious very well.  Though Noomi Rapace was pretty and performed her part well, I felt she was a big step down from Rachel McAdams.  I didn’t find her too terribly attractive, with or without dragon tattoo.  I was a bit bummed out when it appeared she had been replaced for the sequel, but I did like that she was in this movie a decent amount, and a motivating factor for the rest of it.  I liked her character much more, and I think she’s much better looking.  Stephen Fry had a couple of good funny moments too, and I like seeing him in things.

I think both Sherlock Holmes movies are great fun.  They have a really good mystery story, with charming characters and funny dialogue, great performances, and cool fight scenes.  The only thing I disliked about it was that Rachel McAdams was hotter and the movie was a little dark.  But it is called A Game of Shadows, so I guess I should’ve seen it coming.  I recommend this movie for a watch.  I’m happy that I saw it in theaters, but you could wait for the rental if you’re not convinced.  From me, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows gets “Oh, how I’ve missed you, Holmes” out of “It’s so overt, it’s covert.”

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