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REVIEW: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

April 27, 2016 1 comment
Captain America: The Winter SoldierDirected by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Edited by: Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt
Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch
Music by: Henry Jackman
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson, Hayley Atwell, George St-Pierre, Maximiliano Hernández
Based on the Marvel comics by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Year: 2014

 

While The First Avenger set off all sorts of alarms in my head while it was in production, nothing could’ve been further from the truth when it came to its direct sequel, The Winter Soldier. Sure, the film was being helmed by the untested duo of brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who had previously been better known for their work in comedy TV in shows like Arrested Development and Community, but Marvel Studios had earned my trust by this point. Having just come off of the incredible first Avengers, the fantastic Iron Man 3, and the lesser but still completely enjoyable Thor: The Dark World, I was ready for their return to a standalone film starring the hero who managed to surprise me most in the first wave and trust them to do what was right for the franchise.

And, man, did they ever deliver… Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Spectre (2015)

November 20, 2015 1 comment
Spectre (2015)Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Screenplay by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Story by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Edited by: Lee Smith
Cinematography by: Hoyte van Hoytema
Music by: Thomas Newman, Sam Smith (theme)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen, Alessandro Cremona, Judi Dench
Based on characters created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2015

 

It’s been three years since the release of the last James Bond film, Skyfall, but it seems as though a mere matter months have passed by the time Spectre begins, with Bond tracking down an assassin named Marco Sciarra, who is suspected of having ties to a larger organization that has been causing headaches for MI6 and, more generally, the world at large. Fans of the series, particularly those who have either read the books or seen the older films, will by no means have any trouble quickly knowing exactly what organization Sciarra is working for (hint: it’s in the title) as well as what this will likely mean for the Bond franchise going forward. Your enthusiasm for the film and the implications of this organization’s presence from here on out will largely depend upon one’s devotion to the series and whether you’re willing to accept that the more serious, grounded, and gritty Bond films that began with the Daniel Craig era of films were pretty much always going to build up to this from the very beginning. And even if you’re willing to accept this inevitable return to a refreshed but familiar form, what few surprises Spectre does have in store for audiences will actually be a far greater point of contention than the choice to continue moving these films “backward” in terms of tone and grandiosity. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Skyfall”

November 13, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Cinematography by: Roger Deakins
Music by: Thomas Newman (score), Adele (title song)
Editing by: Stuard Baird, Kate Baird
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Bérénice Lim Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Albert Finney
Based on the characters created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2012

 

One of the best things about Skyfall, Bond movie #23, is that, being released on the 50th anniversary of the film franchise means that it gets a bit of leeway for being a bit reverential towards its series legacy. Fans of the series from any era will find a few bits here and there to point at and go, “Hey, look!” A lot of franchises do this on their anniversaries, and the Bond franchise even went and did this ten years ago, when Die Another Day was released as not only the 20th Bond movie, but also on the somewhat less glamorous 40th anniversary of the film franchise.

Whereas that film felt more like an exploitation of the series history through a poorly assembled “Greatest Hits” compilation, however, Skyfall feels more like a reverential tribute that smartly takes these well known and celebrated elements (ridiculous stunts, expensive gadgetry, eccentric villains, and sweeping theme songs) and reworks them to fit into the new tone set in place by the reboot films, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. From the opening gambit onward, director Sam Mendes establishes this tone with a great mix of the old and new, as Bond is faced with not just physical struggles, but also emotional and personal struggles.

(Very mild spoilers ahead.) Read more…

Review: “Quantum of Solace”

November 9, 2012 2 comments
Directed by: Marc Forster
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Written by: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Cinematography by: Roberto Schaefer
Music by: David Arnold (score), Jack White and Alicia Keys (title song)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright, Gemma Arterton, Anatole Taubman, David Harbour, Joaquín Cosío, Rory Kinnear
Based on the character created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2008

 

After the considerable critical enthusiasm over the James Bond reboot, Casino Royale, it was probably inevitable that disappointment would have surrounded the followup. Consider the fact that the film’s production was affected by the 2007 – 2008 Writer’s Guild strike (with writer Paul Haggis reportedly completing the final touches just two hours prior to the beginning of the strike) and the fact that the film’s director, Marc Forster, was making his action movie debut. So, yes, the odds were stacked up against this already unusually named Bond entry (which is named after but not an adaptation of a collection of Bond short stories — in case you didn’t know). Read more…

Review: “Casino Royale” (2006)

November 8, 2012 5 comments
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis (screenplay)
Cinematography by: Phil Meheux
Music by: David Arnold (score), Chris Cornell (title song)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Simon Abkarian, Caterina Murino, Ivana Miličević
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming
Year: 2006

 

There are always going to be arguments about who did Bond best. I grew up watching the films but can honestly say that I don’t remember much of the 60s – 80s thanks to the films largely feeling quite… samey. As a kid, however, I did love the character and his world, and, for a while, Pierce Brosnan was my Bond — cocky, suave, witty, and boy did he have a lot of gadgets. Brosnan’s still just fine in my book, but there’s no hiding the fact that his Bond was saddled with the task of carrying a series of films that increasingly got more and more ridiculous and bland.

It was like the Batman film series all over again — a strong start (Batman / GoldenEye), a strong but bloated sequel (Batman Returns / Tomorrow Never Dies), a right turn into camp (Batman Forever/ The World is Not Enough), and then an ultimate downfall into a ridiculously gauche, almost satirical world that didn’t even resemble the first two (Batman & Robin / Die Another Day). Like with Batman, a fifth film to carry on the series was in the works, but, ultimately, the series was put on a brief hiatus for a restructuring. Luckily, Bond continued in the footsteps of Batman and went for a reboot for the “fifth” film, taking a more serious, thoughtful, and realistic approach to the character and his world and ridding the series of the excesses, and doing so by, for the first time ever, exploring the events that made Bond the hero that we know him to be today. Read more…

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