Thor: The Dark World (2013) – 5/10 Marvel superhero action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Alan Taylor
Screenplay Writer: Christopher L. Yost
Screenplay Writer: Christopher Markus
Screenplay Writer: Stephen McFeely
Story Writer: Don Payne
Story Writer: Robert Rodat
Producer: Kevin Feige
Comic Book Writer, Executive Producer, and Himself: Stan Lee
Thor: Chris Hemsworth
Natalie Portman: Jane Foster
Loki: Tom Hiddleston
Stellan Skarsgård: Eric Selvig
Heimdall: Idris Elba
Christopher Eccleston: Malekith
Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje: Algrim/Kurse
Kat Dennings: Darcy Lewis
Ray Stevenson: Volstagg
Zachary Levi: Fandral
Tadanobu Asano: Hogun
Sif: Jaimie Alexander
Rene Russo:
Odin: Anthony Hopkins
In Memory of: Don Payne
Writer (Original Comic Book): Larry Lieber
Writer (Original Comic Book): Jack Kirby
Character Creator Malekith: Walt Simonson

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Thor’s been busy restoring peace throughout the universe but his heart still belongs to Dr. Jane Foster. She is currently applying her massive intellect to touching clearly alien artefacts that are clearly really, well, toxic at best. So, of course, she gets possessed by the Aether, this nasty black smoke that will be used by Malekith, a dark elf, to end the universe. Which makes no sense.

5/10

Adequate superhero sequel which is at it’s best when it’s trying to be fun (best moment of the film is SPOILER Thor hanging his hammer on a coat hook) and somewhat ineffective when it’s trying to be romantic, awesome or important. Or tell a coherent story with well-defined characters. Therefore, big sacrifices mean nothing, you’re not invested in shaky alliances and the baddie exists just to get super-punched for the last ten minutes so that the film can be over. There’s no peril, no build-up, no shape to the movie or any individual sequence. However, Chris Hemsworth remains charismatic and awesome as Thor and Tom Hiddleston is terrific.

This movie contains extreme fantasy violence, bad language, sensuality, nudity

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – 5/10 superhero action fantasy movie review

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Cast / crew
Actor, Director and Writer Maskless Sakaaran: James Gunn
Peter Quill / Starlord: Chris Pratt
Gamora: Zoë Saldana
Drax The Destroyer: Dave Bautista
Groot: Vin Diesel
Rocket Raccoon: Bradley Cooper
Ronan The Accuser: Lee Pace
Michael Rooker: Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan: Nebula
Djimon Hounsou: Korath
John C. Reilly: Corpsman Dey
Glenn Close: Nova Prime
The Collector: Benicio Del Toro
Producer: Kevin Feige
Writer: Nicole Perlman
Comic Book Writer: Dan Abnett
Comic Book Writer: Andy Lanning
Character Creator Rocket Raccoon: Bill Mantlo
Character Creator Rocket Raccoon: Keith Giffen
Character Creator Drax the Destroyer, Gamora and Thanos: Jim Starlin
Character Creator Star-Lord: Steve Englehart
Character Creator Star-Lord: Steve Gan

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Peter Quill, better known to himself as Starlord, has stolen an ancient orb but it quickly transpires that he isn’t the only one after it. Anyway, long story short, he ends up in prison but as he warily teams up Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket to escape, each discover that this orb has greater universal importance that they thought and that their begrudging friendship may be the only thing more powerful.

5/10

Guardians of the Galaxy enthusiastic contemporary reception is notably inflated. Thanks to poor action editing and ostentatiously dull villains (Ronan’s a Snoozer), the movie is largely forgettable. The extreme violence should also dampen how much fun you find things; one scene played for a mechanical laugh has the explicit sound effects of several enemies having all their bones broken repeatedly. That said, it is fun at times and there are chuckles to be had. The real surprise is the attempt at character development: each of the Guardians behaves differently at the end than they do at the beginning. For some, the change occurs because they were hiding their true nature at the start; for others, the enforced or enticed team-up leads to camaraderie. It’s sketchy and shallow but it’s unmissably there and highly welcome. I also like the colour, interior and design of Starlord’s spaceship, Chris Pratt is good and Zoe Saldana is clearly working her way up to being allowed to play a white person.

This movie contains bad language, adult dialogue, extended extreme violence, extreme fantasy violence

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – 7/10 superhero action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Anthony Russo
Director: Joe Russo
Screenplay Writer: Christopher Markus
Screenplay Writer: Stephen McFeely
Concept and Story Writer: Ed Brubaker
Writer (Original Comic Book Series): Joe Simon
Writer (Original Comic Book Series): Jack Kirby
Steve Rogers / Captain America: Chris Evans
Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow: Scarlett Johansson
Sebastian Stan: Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier
Cobie Smulders: Maria Hill
Emily VanCamp: Sharon Carter / Agent 13
Toby Jones: Arnim Zola
Jenny Agutter: World Security Council member
Robert Redford: Alexander Pierce
Nick Fury: Samuel L. Jackson

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Increasingly unhappy with his role as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s "furious janitor", Steve Rogers finds his unease increasing as he is clearly being left in the dark about something by Nick Fury. When Fury confides in him about Project Insight (making Rogers about the last to know after the 100,000 employees that must have been involved), his fears are confirmed and action will need to be taken.

7/10

Even though the title is never explained, this is a vastly more interesting super-hero movie than expected with the character of Captain America being forced to bring his ideals to bear when the organisation he works for demonstrates that it has failed to live up to them: he has to bring the American way of truth, justice and liberty to an America that has become the bad guy. Impressively, the character and drama of the movie is fine; what lets it down is the action. It’s all frenetic cuts just before your visual comprehension is complete and endless, meaningless, impactless super-punching (even when you’re not a superhuman). None of the action is resolved with wit (though the elevator scene shows wit before the action starts and Jenny Agutter gets a good moment), imagination or even any sense of tactics or expertise. Just super-punching. This is normal for Hollywood at this time and the action doesn’t spoil the movie; it’s more that the movie might have been a classic if the action was good instead of largely forgettable.

This movie contains extended extreme violence, extremely unpleasant scenes

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

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Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – 6/10 World War II superhero fantasy action movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Joe Johnston
Screenplay Writer: Christopher Markus
Screenplay Writer: Stephen McFeely
Chris Evans: Captain Steve “America” Rogers
Hayley Atwell: Peggy Carter
Tommy Lee Jones: Colonel Phillips
Hugo Weaving: Johann Schmidt / Red Skull
Producer: Kevin Feige

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Steve Rogers has the heart of a hero but not the physique. After failing numerous applications to join the US Army and fight against Hitler during World War II, a doctor in charge of a remarkable super-soldier project sees his potential but once the process completes, Rogers’ is only used in a valuable but demeaning propaganda role as Captain America. When his morale-boosting tour finally gets to the front lines, his disappointment at not being of more practical use brings out the inner hero once more.

6/10

Joe Johnston certainly gives the impression that he understood that characters are important, even (especially?) in an action movie, but off-the-shelf dialogue and plotting undermines the otherwise solid production. Most crucially, Captain America is introduced as an interesting character but then devolves into using his overwhelming strength to punch the evil out of endless henchmen. The shapeless presentation of most of the action doesn’t help but there is good work from Chris Evans and Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones gets all the best lines ("I ain’t kissing ya") providing a much-needed jolt of fun and the effects guys who made Chris Evans look small and skinny and Hugo Weaving’s head look red have done their jobs perfectly.

This movie contains mild bad language, Extreme fantasy violence, graphic gun violence

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

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