Monday, May 7, 2012
Saturday, May 5, 2012
This week I went to the Marvel Marathon in a lead up to The Avengers. I know a lot of you where doing a similar thing. It was my first theater movie marathon and it was a real good time. They showed the 5 superhero movies that lead up to The Avengers in order; Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America. If you skipped some on these, I would probably suggest seeing them before you see The Avengers.
This movie was a lot of fun! The action was great, but with Joss Whedon (Serenity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dr. Horrible) at the director's helm the story in between is just as entertaining. Although there isn't much character development since that growth took place in the lead up movies, the chemistry evolution of the teammates in captivating. Tony Stark/Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr., does seem to have most of the spotlight, but the ensemble cast balance is done very well. Even Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson, and Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner, get a good share of screen time.
When I was a kid we had premium channels on our cable and usually that resulted in me and my sister watching hours of the same movies over and over each summer. One of those movies was My Giant. One of my movie quality markers come from that movie, "The size of the Villain determines the size of the Hero." Loki is played very well. He is conniving, clever, persuasive, and bit mad. As for the army he brings in, they are pretty faceless. We really don't get much of an understanding of them and who they are. They have the personality of the Battle Droids of Star Wars, but don't talk.
Although it is an action movie, it has a lot of lighthearted moments of humor. One of my favorites comes from Captain America, Chris Evans. When warned that Thor, Chris Hemsworth, and Loki are Gods Captain America responds, "There's only one God ma'am, and he doesn't dress like that."
I was pleased with the way this movie is appropriate for a younger audience. There was some mild language including the first half of Sh-, but it doesn't get finished. As an action film there was a lot of violence. Although our heroes seem pretty indestructible, a lot of civilians are not as lucky as New York become ground zero for the invasion.
The Avengers is a non-stop adventure. It has themes of loyalty, redemption, hope, and patriotism. Just writing this review makes me want to go see it again!
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Guest Post from the Mormon Movie Guy. He writes a great blog similar to ours reviewing movies from a Latter-day Saint Perspective. The review was written by him, but the star ratings were applied based on my interpretation of his review.
The eye for period detail is terrific, but contrasts poorly with the cartoonish nature of the villain, Red Skull, and the futuristic design of his weaponry. Though this is a superhero film, the villain lacks the sophisticated crusade of Magneto or the fascinating philosophy of the Joker; instead he's just another one-dimensional, power-hungry magalomaniac bent on world destruction and domination, as found in dozens of other superhero/fantasy/spy films. The lack of a compelling antagonist drags what could have been a great movie down to just being a good one. What's more, though true to the comics, Red Skull looks like he'd be more at home fighting He-Man than a WWII patriot and his faceless minions look like carryovers from that terrible G.I. Joe movie. Though he's harnessed the power of the gods (a nice nod to Thor), Red Skull's technology looks futuristic even by today's standards and seems jarringly out of place in a story set 70 years ago. Don't blame Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings); the fact that the villain holds any interest and displays any menace at all is due to the performance of this excellent actor doing the best he can with an underwritten character.
That said, there is plenty to enjoy here, both in the hard-hitting action scenes and in the performances. Chris Evans, in the title role, switches off his usual wisecracking routine and delivers an earnest and virtuous performance. The transition of a 90 pound weakling into a hulking behemoth is truly incredible. Captain America, refreshingly, eschews the imperfections that plague other superheroes. These imperfections, granted, make the others interesting as they grow and develop, but they're not always the best role models. Instead of the rock-star vanity of Iron Man, the conflicted torment of Hulk, or the bravado of Thor, Captain America represents a return to the good-natured wholesomeness of classic all-American heroes who represent humility and conscience. Perhaps our nation is more jaded now and we relate better to flawed characters; that said, it was nice for once to be treated to a character who's simply a good person. I've no doubt that it'll be great fun to see how his old-fashioned values interact with those of the just-mentioned superheroes in next summer's Avengers movie.
Evans' romance will a British officer (Haylee Atwell, in a strong, intelligent, and sweet performance) is nicely handled, taking the less-is-more approach. It was a wise move to show how, even before she was attracted to the him, she admired his courage and meekness. Though the ad campaign takes a "you're going to get so many girls" line out of context and the clueless hero briefly allows a female stranger to give him a kiss of gratitude, Captain America is ultimately a one-gal guy and the film is refreshingly chaste. Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada, Julie and Julia) continues to impress, giving a warm and funny depiction of a good-hearted German scientist. Rounding up the cast is Tommy Lee Jones, who gets the film's funniest lines. Jones hasn't been this enjoyable since The Fugitive and the first Men in Black, and it's good to have him back in form. Make sure you stick around until the end of the credits for a nice little surprise. All in all, Captain America is yet another solid entry in the Marvel film canon, and it sets audiences up nicely for what's sure to be a great time in next year's The Avengers.
Captain America: The First Avenger is rated PG-13. It has plenty of bloodless war violence and fighting and one incident of quick blood spray. Language is minimal, with only 2 mild and 1 moderate uses of profanity that I recall. Some characters drink alcohol. A villain kills unarmed persons. There is no nudity or sexuality apart from two kisses.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: True heroes do not enjoy violence or killing, but will forcefully defend liberty and innocent lives if necessary, even to the point of giving up their own lives. Parents may want to draw the attention of youth to the example of another patriot, Captain Moroni, who is described in the Book of Mormon: "And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding, yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery. Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood. Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives." (Alma 48: 11-14)
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