Thursday, 28 April 2016

Captain America: Civil War

This instalment in the franchise is definitely more like an Avengers film, with the notable absence of Thor and The Hulk – although they are mentioned in passing. Captain America: The First Avenger annoyed me with its overly patriotic propaganda, but underneath all of that was actually a good story. Captain America: Winter Soldier was remarkable and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) stole every scene. Then, with the latest Avengers film, there was more destruction and collateral damage than ever. All of that gave a solid base from which to launch Captain America: Civil War in which Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) are at odds about how to coordinate the Avengers and then specifically deal with Bucky, who is capable of becoming a super villainous assassin. Each leader assembles his own team and the battle sequences are some of the best we have ever seen in a superhero film. It is such a thrill to see powerhouses fight against each other, using all their abilities but also not wanting to seriously hurt each other.

There are also some good laughs along the way, mostly thanks to Iron Man, Ant Man (Paul Rudd) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie). I was well and truly bored with the prospect of having Spider-Man in yet another film, but Tom Holland is a surprisingly welcome addition as a much younger and funnier Peter Parker. Chadwick Boseman is also intriguing as the Black Panther. The rest of the cast is also impressive, including Daniel Bruhl as the villain despite his character's dubious plan, which was all far too convenient. It is difficult to say too much about the plot without giving away spoilers, suffice to say there are a few holes that are frustrating. If nothing else though, Captain America: Civil War is worth seeing on the big screen for the action.  

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Mother's Day

If you liked New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day, you will probably like Mother's Day too. If not, you might as well stop reading now. Garry Marshall is back in the director's chair for this two-hour comedy/drama, which weaves several sub-plots together exploring themes of motherhood. Julia Roberts and Hector Elizondo again team up for one story about a career-driven woman who never had children, while Jennifer Aniston and Timothy Olyphant play a divorced couple trying to navigate a change in their dynamic when he remarries and the woman becomes the stepmother to their two children. Meanwhile, Britt Robertson's character has cold feet about marrying the father of her child and Jason Sudeikis plays a father raising two daughters after the death of their mother. Finally, two sisters, played by Kate Hudson and Sarah Chalke, are avoiding their judgmental parents who will never accept their respective partners. There are some sentimental and funny moments, but there is nothing really exceptional about Mother's Day. Still, if you like these types of films, Mother's Day might be worth seeing with your own mum or a group of female friends.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War

I do not want fans of 80s classics like Willow and The Princess Bride to get too excited, but The Huntsman: Winter's War feels like an homage to those types of films, only modernised for today's generation. With Cedric Nicolas-Troyan taking over as director for this prequel/sequel, the film depicts what happens to the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) before and after he meets Snow White. Hemsworth is even more charming this time around and Kristen Stewart's dull performance as Snow White in the original film is not missed at all. Hemsworth has far better chemistry with Jessica Chastain, whose character is an inspiring tough warrior for young women. Emily Blunt is also formidable as Freya, the ice queen, and Charlize Theron returns as the wicked queen Ravenna, obviously having a lot of fun with the role. The costumes, set design and effects are also vivid and help create the fantastical world. At its heart, The Huntsman: Winter's War is a sweet love story and a magical tale. It is easy to be critical of this type of smarmy film, but if you take it for what it is and let your imagination go along for the ride, you will enjoy it.