This is one of those movies where the trailer doesn’t do it justice. I went into this thinking there was going to be a corny forced humor that wouldn’t sit well with an overall semi-serious Marvel Cinematic Universe. I was proven wrong. Is that to say there weren’t some moments like that? No, of course there were, but those moments were done tactfully and worked for the moment.
There will be spoilers from here on out, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you can scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating.
A flashback to 1980 has us seeing a young Kurt Russell and how his character of Ego met StarLord’s mom. I can’t help but notice something here, and let me know if you think the same. In the 80s there was a movie called “Starman.” It was about an alien man who fell in love with a woman and drove cross country with her. At the end of that movie the Starman left and she was assumingly pregnant because of the sexual scenes in it. The movie to me was a good movie, but left too many open ends never to be addressed. The character in Starman was played by Jeff Bridges. Kurt Russell’s younger CGI self looked almost identical to Bridges in that film. I know they are two different universes, but could James Gunn have used this as inspiration to give answers to a film that never gave them? Who knows, but it made it that much more enjoyable for me.
Rocket, Star-Lord, Gamora, and Drax were pretty much spot on with how they were at the end of the last movie. Star-Lord realizing he is part Celestial was worrisome, but what was a risky maneuver of changing his comic book history, really played out well. Toddler Groot was a waste to me. I know it was done for the cute factor, and it made sense as he’s more grown than the end of the last movie. I don’t think any other way would have been good for him to be presented, but at the same time he just felt like he was there. There really wasn’t much for him to do. My main example is the battle in the beginning with the alien squid like creature. All Groot did was dance, like Star Lord did in the opening sequence of the first one, which to me was the worst part of the first movie.
Skipping back to Ego, who was my second biggest concern going into this, we get an actual comic book representation of the character plus more. Ego always fascinated me, and to see that they actually showed his full on form and gave him a good origin, made the film. He was easily my favorite part of the whole movie. Everything about Ego made sense and didn’t feel stale.
The true father figure in Yondu was heartwarming, and I think it was wise to have Yondu sent off that way. Michael Rooker is always enjoyable to watch, but his character’s death brings together what was a falling apart team, and then some. Oh, and he had his longer head fin, which was my gripe about his appearance not having it before.
The Gamora vs Nebula story felt strange in a way. I’m still not sure I believe that Nebula would have spared her sister, but the explanation worked. I just think that she’d have been better beside Thanos during Infinity War than against him.
Taserface was exactly what Rocket pointed him out to be. He was nothing more than that, but served his purpose for humor and the slight bump in the road that he provided.
Finally we get the other characters. A Cameo from Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster was only in the scrolling credits, which makes me wonder if he originally had a role in this and in Thor Ragnarok. It was strange placement. Cosmo the Space Dog also only shows up in the scrolling credits. Howard the Duck is present again in another great few seconds of appearance. I love that they do things like this for the fans. The quick spots by David Hasselhoff and Pac-man were silly, but for my generation were great additions.
The post credits scenes were quite a mix. 1) Yondu’s dart impaling Drax by accident was funny, but not really necessary. 2) The reveal of Adam Warlock’s cocoon is huge. Although it was in the last movie as a post credit thing, this time we actually get a good look and confirmation of who is inside. I’m assuming he will start off as a villain for Volume 3. 3) Teenage Groot, while unnecessary, showed purpose. While only a funny throw away, it pretty much confirms that from here on out we will see adult Groot. Teenage Groot was great, but I really think this was done to transition the character. 4) The Ravagers original team headed by Sylvester Stallone was awesome. This sets up a potential union between them and the Guardians for either Infinity War or Guardians 3. If you didn’t know who they were, then the characters (played by well known actors) were: Starhawk, Martinex, Charlie 27, Aleta, Kruggar, and Mainframe.
5) Stan Lee being revealed as one of the Watchers makes a lot of sense, but I feel ripped off. He should have been in Watcher form here like the others. So it begs to question… was he just an informant to the Watchers, or is he an actual Watcher. It’s something that will probably never be addressed again, but time will tell. At least they are tying this in. This also makes for an interesting thought. Watchers can see many realities. This basically says that anything Stan Lee has cameoed in could in some way be tied into the Marvel universe. This includes other studios, versions of characters, etc.
So what did you think? The soundtrack to me wasn’t as good as the first, but is bound to be open to many more things from here on out. Overall it was a very funny, action packed, and visually stunning film that is worthy of being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I give it 4.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.
Another Marvel movie that proves relatively unknown mainstream characters can hold their own has arrived. Is this the best Marvel movie yet? No. In fact I wouldn’t say it is in the top 5, but that isn’t saying much. Marvel has gotten to the point where each film holds its own, and just because it hasn’t made a top 5 doesn’t mean it was not worth seeing. In fact, for this movie I think you almost need to see it in the theater.
I must warn you though… if you have vertigo or any type of motion sickness it is possible you’ll feel a bit woozy. Visually its stunning, but a lot to process. Okay down to the review. There will be spoilers, so if you don’t wish to know anything going in, then you might want to scroll down to the last paragraph to see my overall rating. As usual I’ll focus on the characters and how they made or didn’t make the movie… Here goes:
Dr. Stephen Strange – Benedict Cumberpatch is one of those few actors who really excels in all he does. While the movie itself dragged a little bit in narrative, the character of Dr. Strange made it interesting. This is a whole new type of persona in the Marvel Cinematic universe. Yes, Tony Stark has an ego, but Strange’s comes from a different background. It will be interesting to see the two meet for the first time. My only complaint is not knowing the timeline here. It seems that with all he learned while on his healing journey, he had to have been away for years. Despite time travel being involved we really don’t get an idea of how much the length of time is during this film.
Karl Mordo – Chiwetel Ejiofor was great in the role of Mordo. I was disappointed to see him as an ally, but it was set up for him to return as the big bad in a follow up. Because of this I can be forgiving. This film serves as an origin of sorts for him becoming the man who will be against everything Strange does. I look forward to seeing him again. His race here is a change from the comics, but I feel like we’re getting an updated version, so it’ll be interesting to see how he comes into play later.
Christine Palmer – Rachel McAdams had a supporting role, but one of much importance. She is officially the second Night Nurse in the Marvel film world. The first would be Rosario Dawson’s character in the Netflix shows. Both Christine and Claire had similar roles in the comics, and it’d be nice to see McAdams return again to serve that role for what’s to come.
Wong – I find it amusing that Benedict “Wong” is the actor playing this role. Surely that must have been on purpose. He was an almost direct interpretation of what I remember from the comics. His role was one crucial to the story, and obviously he will serve as a great ally to Strange from here on out. I liked how the Time Infinity Stone was incorporated into the Eye of Agomotto. It is a slight change, but one worth having. I only wonder how long Wong had been guarding it. His predecessor was killed, so having a slight back story to what Wong’s origin is would be a great idea for the sequel if we ever get one.
Kaecilius – Mads Mikkelsen is one of those actors that is the perfect bad guy. He’s so badass in this role, but I feel Marvel is following a pattern with their origin stories. It always seems the villains have a less than interesting reason for their actions. Maybe it’s just become redundant as to how the story progresses, but regardless Kaecilius was a decent henchman for the big bad here.
The Ancient One – Unfortunately going into this I already knew Tilda Swinton was playing the role. This isn’t a bad thing as I think she was easily a great highlight of the movie, but knowing the comics I was expecting an old Chinese guy. When Strange first appeared in Tibet Marvel should have done better at hiding the trailer giveaways. It would have been a good approach to have her as a shocker to the audience, just as Strange was shocked that the elderly oriental guy wasn’t the real Ancient One.
Dormammu – was a character that this movie needed, but I don’t like how he was portrayed. The CGI seemed a little off to me, but maybe that is because my focus was on everything else. Don’t get me wrong, the visuals were absolutely stunning, but I guess I didn’t see him being portrayed in quite the manner he was. Benedict Cumberpatch also voiced Dormammu, but questions are left open. If Strange used the Infinity Stone to loop time, then how long was he actually facing off against the dark creature? I read that it was implied Dormammu had killed Strange over 1,000 times, but we never get an accurate portrayal of that. On a positive note, this was one of the best final fight scenes in a Marvel Movie for the mere fact that it was so different from the rest, and really focused on the use of the Infinity Stone by a hero.
Stan Lee – Okay, so he was just a bus passenger in this movie, but we can’t ignore his cameo. He is after all “the Man”.
Thor – the first credit scene shows Thor consulting with Doctor Strange. This was probably one of the most significant credit scenes to date. Why? Well, we got a half answer to the aftermath of Thor the Dark World. We now know that Odin was missing from Asgard and that is how Loki got the throne. Details are still slim, but it gets rid of certain speculation and preps us for Thor Ragnarok’s events. Plus we seem to get confirmation that not only are Thor and Hulk teaming up for the movie, but Doctor Strange will be there in some way as well.
Speculation from here: as usual, I like to throw my thoughts out on where this will go and what can be done. Keep in mind, it is just speculation, but as an avid fan of these stories I have to let my inner geek out. Baron Mordo will probably be the villain saved for Doctor Strange 2. Perhaps it will have the subtitle of “The Sorcerer Supreme” because now that the Ancient One is no longer around, Strange can earn that title. Mordo bargaining with Dormammu would be easy to do because he could tell Dormammu that he doesn’t approve of how Strange is using his powers, so their “deal” can be broken (if even for a little extra boost of power.) The Time Stone will be taken at some point for Infinity War, but let’s look beyond that. After the showdown with Thanos there will have to be some sort of protection of the stone usage. Could Avengers 4 be subtitled “Illuminati?” Think about it. Vision would regain the Mind Stone. The Time Stone would remain with Doctor Strange. And the others could be scattered to different characters (one of which probably Adam Warlock). Add to all of this the fact that a “multi-verse” was mentioned and this is the way that you can bring in a Marvel/Fox studios crossover event. It’s well overdue, and could explain the difference between the universes interpretations. Finally, Stan Lee. His presence in everything should be addressed. I’d love to see him revealed as some sort of character. Is he the Beyonder? Is he Impossible Man? A Watcher perhaps? Who knows, but it would make his role that much more important to it all.
My rating: Doctor Strange was not the best Marvel movie, but it was a unique one that was done well. We now have a surgeon in the group who is well versed in magic. The ride was a visual rollercoaster of excitement, and while there were slow narrative moments, they were placed well with a build up towards the magic shown. To some it may be confusing, but for others its a highly well thought out story that introduces a whole new fun batch of elements to an already booming film continuity. Doctor Strange gets 3.5 out of 5 sCrypt coffins from me. What were your thoughts? Any speculation? Feel free to chime in with your comments.
At first I’ll admit (much like I did with Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy) that I wondered how they were going to make a movie from a background character and make it work. I have always loved the character of Ant-Man, but to stand alone in a feature film was another whole story. I had faith in Marvel, and was pleasantly surprised with one major problem in story writing. Here’s my breakdown:
Scott Lang / Ant-Man II: Paul Rudd did an amazing job. He was a criminal with a purpose. He stole in order to pay child support so he could see his daughter. Sure this seems like something a derelict would do, and does, but in this case you could actually see Lang cares immensely for his little girl. She’s his world. Once he is unexpectedly in this micro sized world of Ant-Man it takes a lot for him to become a hero. I like his struggles and lightheartedness despite the serious situation. It was also set up for him to become Giant-man later down the line because of the fact that he was able to make it to the feared micro-verse and come back. Supposedly there was an easter egg hidden in the microscopic world, but there was so much to take in I missed it. The visuals were absolutely stunning.
Hope Van Dyne / Wasp II: Evangeline Lilly played the part well, and I echo her words in the mid credits scene “It’s about time.” This is in reference to her becoming the Wasp, much like her mother before her but in an updated suit. I have no problem that this skips over the whole original Wasp for the most part. It makes sense in this movie universe.
Paxton, Luis, Kurt & Dave: The Paxton character made sense and was a welcome part, but Luis and Dave seemed a bit too goofy for me. Sure I know it was supposed to be (and IS) humorous, but I couldn’t take them seriously… especially Luis. Kurt also bothered me because his accent seemed off. They were fun supporting characters, but short of Paxton I could have done without the others. They DO work in the lightheartedness of it all however, so its less a complaint than it is an observation.
Sam Wilson / Falcon: Anthony Mackie’s surprise appearance in the film tied it in perfectly to the rest of what has happened so far. The fight between Falcon and Ant-Man was epic and a great tease to letting the fans want to see more hero vs hero… He not only setup Civil War in that way, but with Bucky and Captain America at the end it all fell in nicely. Mackie’s character was the perfect choice to take the role here.
Hank Pym / Ant-Man I: Michael Douglas said a while back that he wanted to be in a Marvel movie. I’ll admit at first that I was skeptical of him being Hank Pym. Not because of his acting, but because that meant the Ant-Man I grew up with was going to be much older. They appeased me however by doing some flashbacks. We saw Peggy Carter and Howard Stark in the beginning of the film, and even Pym working along side a costumed Wasp I / Janet Van Dyne. The passing of the torch was played well, and the reason for Janet’s absence was well written.
Darren Cross / Yellowjacket: I thought originally Yellowjacket would be the villain way back when this movie was still in development, but I figured it’d have been Scott Lang in the role with Hank Pym defeating him and making him realize the err in his ways. While I enjoyed the way the character looked in suit and the epic final battle between him and Lang, I was really disappointed. Here we got another repeat villain. A bald mad scientist who is trying to take over a corporation by his own means, and becomes the villain. We saw this in Ironman 1 & 2 practically. We see it in countless other superhero films as well, so why did they go this route? To me it felt lazy. Were the effects and both Ant-Man incarnations not in it, this would have ruined the movie for me. Darren Cross was too predictable and unoriginal for me.
Stan Lee: Probably the briefest cameo he’s ever had, but still fun to see his face. This was for me one of his worst cameos though. This is not a complaint at all. I’m just stating that it wasn’t the best use of such an icon.
All in all Ant-Man was a fun ride. Aside from the villain it felt like a fresh and original movie that still fit in with the rest of the Marvel Universe. I can’t wait to see him link up again as an Avenger in Captain America 3. Scott Lang is the new Tony Stark as far as wit and personality, and it’ll be good to see the onscreen interaction among them all. Marvel does it again! 7 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins for a fun and visually stimulating time.
Review season is just about upon us for TV shows, so I figured I’d kick it off with a review of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. If you haven’t seen it, then scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating… unless you want to be spoiled. Yes, there will be spoilers mentioned. You’ve been warned. 🙂
Let’s start with Robert Downey Jr as (Ironman) Tony Stark and Chris Evans as (Captain America) Steve Rogers. If you can’t see Civil War coming out of this, then you missed a lot. Tony and Steve don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but Stark’s actions in this movie put them on separate paths toward a common goal. RDJ was once again perfect as Stark. In the comics it was Antman who had created Ultron, but they changed it for the movie. Having Stark create Ultron made a lot of sense here. It was done well overall and it brought out the character flaws this team had. Tony had already created the Iron Legion robo police force and his reasons for wanting to go further were justified. Steve is still trying to adjust to modern times, so being left in the dark about such a bold move was not something he felt was wise. The dynamic here was less about Ultron and the threat than it was about setting up Cap 3.
Chris Hemsworth shined as Thor. More focus was put on the true power that he wields, specifically Mjolnir. Thor’s confidence is almost a cockiness in his abilities and if Captain America almost lifting the hammer wasn’t bothersome enough to THor’s ego, then certainly Vision’s actions were. Heimdall‘s brief cameo fit well and I like how they set up what looks to be Thor 3: Ragnarok. Thor’s role here was to inform about the power of the infinity stones and the role they play in the universe.
Hulk (Bruce Banner) took more of a back seat for me in this movie. Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal was spot on, and though the Hulk shined we got to see more of the struggle Banner has coping with his alter ego. He accepts it less and fears it more than in the last movie. So much so that he is solely responsible for helping Ironman develop the Hulkbuster (veronica) armor. The presence of both Banner and Hulk were equally important this time, but I feel as though he was bullied a bit by Tony. I was a little caught off guard by the sexual tension between him and Natasha, but I’m glad that they strayed from that. Who knows where he ended up in the end. Fury mentioned the craft MIGHT have crashed into the ocean, but you can’t help but wonder if it was all a setup for another Hulk movie (Planet Hulk). I hope not as I don’t particularly like that story.
Scarlett Johansson has proven my initial thoughts on her in the role to be completely false. I love her as Black Widow (Natasha Romanov), though I do have one issue. Whedon could have corrected the lack of RUssian accent in the flashback to her ballet days, but he chose to ignore it. I was pleased that we got a little more of her background though and everything that was hinted at in her prior appearances. Her crush on Banner was strange to me, but then again I was blown away that her relationship with Clint was less intimate than I’d rightfully assumed.
Jeremy Renner really took the lead in this movie. Hawkeye (Clint Barton) was finally called his codename and it was fun how it was done and the reasoning. I was blown away by the reveal of his family but it was a welcome change. There needed to be someone with some kind of personal life and he being the choice made sense. While Cap was the leader and Tony the funding of the team, Hawkeye was the glue that held them together.
War Machine (James Rhodes) and Falcon (Sam Wilson), played by Don Cheadle and Anthony Mackie cameoed in important minor roles that by the ending you realize will become much more in the next installment.
Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff) and Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) were perfect. Aaron Taylor Johnson was a much better Quicksilver than the already likeable one that was in X-Men DOFP. My only regrets are that he had to die because of the dual studios usage of the character. In a battle like this however there are bound to be casualties, so I’m fine with the choice. Elizabeth Olsen was both sexy and creepy in her role, and I’m happy with the portrayal of her powers. The slight modification worked well and the hint at the twins’ past can be touched upon more if Marvel ever ended up with rights to X-men. The twins beginning as antagonists and becoming heroes was everything I wanted to see with them.
Vision is both the evolution of JARVIS and the creation of Ultron. His origin was similar to the comics and his presence and sleek look were a very welcome addition. He was to this movie as Hulk was to the last, and earned his place quickly. Although his solar gem atop his head was changed to the mind gem, the origin and use of that which was once in Loki’s scepter placed well. It was a primary reason why he became so powerful and heroic. As part machine with organic matter in him, he is able to wield it without being corrupted by temptation or control. They even gave a nod to the romance that will be eventual between him and Scarlet Witch.
Samuel L Jackson is always great to see as Nick Fury, and with him and Maria Hill back on the scene with SHIELD it will be interesting to see where this takes the agents of shield series.
Finally, on to the villains…
Baron Von Strucker while having a minor role was a good starting point for the film. Why not have a minor subplot with HYDRA before kicking into another threat? I’ve welcomed this with the Spiderman movies and any characters that have a huge rogues gallery.
Ulyses S. Klau played by Andy Serkis had a story element that will directly lead in to Black Panther. They mentioned Wakanda, he had his arm torn off, and he’d stolen vibranium. It is an excellent lead in that didn’t feel forced.
Ultron was easily the highlight of this film. James Spader gave off the vibe that this robot was like a child with a god complex. Designed to eliminate threats, the cliched “robot thinks it knows better by eliminating the human race” felt fresh here because of Ultron’s personality. There were hints of logic, and Tony’s personality that made him unique in many ways. So much so that it almost felt like Tony Stark was the villain at times.
Thanos had only a brief scene. While it was not anywhere near one of the better credits scenes, it was something that laid ground for the next installment.
What else is there to say? From the plot to the set ups of the next few movies and where the characters go personally, there is a lot packed in to 2 hours and 20 minutes. Stan Lee‘s cameo was my favorite of them all, and that says something right there. People have complained that Age of Ultron is not as good as the first Avengers movie, but it’s an unfair assessment. These movies are entirely different from one another. I feel that this tied up a lot of loose ends and opened the movie universe up to so much more potential. In my opinion it exceeded Avengers 1 in many ways while not surpassing it in others. It isn’t a perfect comic book movie, but it is damn close. I give it 9.5 sCrypt Coffins out of 10.
If you have anything to add, please comment below.