Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Blog That Took 20 Years To Write

Much to the surprise of box office analysts, Captain America: The First Avenger beat out the record breaking Harry Potter and the oh you know it’s the last movie by making a higher than expected $65 million, making it the best opening weekend of any super hero based film this year. In my last blog I talked about how much I love the character of Cap and that I had been waiting for over 20 years to see a great or at least good interpretation of the character on the big screen. Obviously the movie made money, but what did I think of it?


I found Captain America to be the most satisfying movie I have seen in a while. I felt director Joe Johnston found a perfect balance in tone that showed the intensity of war but was also an entertaining popcorn film in the vein of Back to the Future and Indiana Jones. Chris Evans was perfect as the noble and charming Steve Rogers and the heroic leader Captain America. Hugo Weaving made the Red Skull everything I hoped he would be on screen and already has me begging for his return in a sequel. There was plenty of humor, but it never felt like a parody, and there was plenty of action, but in a much more adventure style that we don’t see much of in today’s action movies. It was just pure fun, but never sacrificing story or character.

The writers made some changes here and there, like the Red Skulls origins and Captain America’s relationship with his sidekick Bucky, and I thought much, if not all of it was for the best. The origin of how small and frail Steve Rogers transforms into the star spangled hero was dead on, and the fact that they really took the time to tell it, not even showing him in the cap suit until almost halfway through the movie, made that moment along with the characters themselves, carry so much more weight. It could be my childhood attachment to the character, but I felt that Cap had the most emotion of any of the Marvel movies to date.

One of my big problems with Iron Man 2 was the fact that it felt like there wasn’t enough focus on its own story and it was more just a preview for the upcoming Avengers flick. Captain America had plenty of points that were working towards the Avengers, but it never felt out of place and it never took away from its own story. Even with the final moments that will segue in to the team up film, this movie was totally its own piece and had a solid story from start to finish that doesn’t require casual movie goers to see five other movies to know exactly what’s going on.

The movie is making money, and is getting solid reviews from critics and fans alike. I was so happy with the outcome of the movie I’ve waited 20 years and although I know I’ll see him in the Avengers just next year, I’m hoping they decide to move forward with a Captain America sequel. AMERICA!!! FUCK YEAH!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Blog About My Childhood Hero

Most people know I love Batman. Probably because most people have seen at least one batman movie and can have a conversation about batman so it comes up a bit more. But not everyone understands that on an equal level, I love Captain America. I remember being in kindergarten and getting my first Captain America action figure, saving every penny to get the vhs tape of the 1960’s Captain America cartoon, having a subscription in the mail of the Captain America Comic, and going to the video store every week hoping the one copy of the direct to video Captain America movie wasn’t checked out. I had a Captain America dress up set complete with a Frisbee shield and got my Captain America tattoo before getting one of the dark knight.

While Bruce Wayne was a man who had all the financial and physical means to fulfill his destiny, Captain America’s alter ego Steve Rogers was a man who had no way to become the hero he was meant to be. He was small, weak and too frail to even be allowed to serve his country during World War II. But Steve Rogers had the heart of a hero and was given the chance to fulfill his destiny. As cool as Batman was and still is, whenever I imagined being a superhero (when I was a kid of course), I always imagined being Captain America. I imagined being average, maybe even less than average, and being courageous enough to do what others were afraid to do, and fight a villain like the Red Skull who rather than being insane like the Joker, was an intelligent, calculated form of pure evil.

Unfortunately, like a pre super-soldier serum Steve Rogers, the legacy of Captain America on film has been weak and frail. We got that one movie that I tried to rent so many times at the video store 20 years ago. That was the same movie that got a theatrical release in every country EXCEPT AMERICA! Sure when I first saw it I loved it, but I was 6 and I was young and stupid, not to mention it was all I had. I’ve watched it since and it’s bad, and not in a fun or nostalgic way. Let’s not even talk about the made for tv movies of the 1970’s. I’ve had a vision in my head of true movie about Captain America, set completely in World War II and having a more period war piece feel than a spider-man type super hero flick, and for years I’ve voiced my aggravation about the fact that this movie was not getting made. I’ve been getting multiple versions of Batman, the Hulk, and the Punisher, but not one solid or even semi-solid attempt at the star spangled avenger?! What the F Hollywood?

But then Marvel decided to take control of what happened with the cinematic versions of their characters. They tested the waters with Iron Man, and made plenty of money from that, and began creating what they now call the Marvel Cinematic Universe, combining characters and situations from multiple films that are culminating next summer in Joss Wheddon’s Avengers film. So far in this ambitious and so far lucrative adventure, we have gotten 2 Iron Man films with a 3rd on the way, a rebooted Incrdible Hulk, and a Thor film with the 2nd already on its way. But before the Avengers hits, we got one movie left to piece it all together, Captain America: The First Avenger.

I was overjoyed with the first news of a real Cap movie getting made. It was announced early that the entire movie would be set in WWII, saving modern day for the Avengers film, and they got a great director who was experienced, credible, and passionate about the character in Joe Johnston. They got the always badass Hugo Weaving to play the Red Skull, but I had my doubts about Chris Evans playing the Captain himself. My mouth was shut as soon as I saw the trailer and have already forgotten he played the Human Torch in the soon to be rebooted Fantastic Four movies. He looks, feels, and acts the way I’ve always thought Steve Rogers to be, coming across as more of a soldier than a superhero. Could this really be the Captain America movie I’ve been waiting over 20 years to see?

I got my tickets for the midnight showing. Check back soon after that to find out

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Blog That's Too Long and Too Scattered

Everyone has an opinion about Transformers director Michael Bay. Most critics say he is all style and no substance and others say he makes the most visually exciting and entertaining movies today. I’d say I’m somewhere in between. Although I find almost all of his movies to be pretty iffy in the realms of acting, plot, and geography, I am almost always entertained by the visual effects, camera work, and explosions.

It was because of these opinions I had towards Bay that I was actually excited when he was announced as the director of the first Transformers live action film. I felt Michael Bay was the right choice to bring giant alien robots that changed into cars and trucks because the idea was both visually intriguing and lacking in true logic. So it seemed like a match made in heaven, and truthfully, the first transformers film was exactly what I wanted it to be. It had just enough story to hold itself together between giant action scenes with some of the best CGI I have ever seen (and I hate CGI in most cases). There was never a point that I felt like it was trying to be more than what it was supposed to be, a high octane popcorn flick.

Then came the second film. When I first saw trailers for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen I was pretty excited. Most of the cast and crew from the first one were returning and it looked like they were staying true to what had come before, but were going to amp it up even more. Apparently you can’t capture lightning in a bottle twice because I felt that the second Transformers was silly, inconsistent, way too long, and not particularly fun to sit through. It may have been my fault, but I was expecting a lot more from Michael Bay and co. from this one.

Despite my lack of affection for the second film, I was anxiously awaiting Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Both Michael Bay and star Shia Labeouf had expressed their feelings of disappointment over how the last film had turned out and were sure that the third,and until it makes way more money, last installment was going to be the best in the series. The early buzz was positive and even the first reviews were saying it had the strongest story and stunning visuals. I was ready to give the franchise another chance so I was going along for the ride.

And what did I get with Transformers 3? Well I saw the movie at the very first IMAX 3D showing on Tuesday and ever since then I have been trying to figure out how to answer that question. On one hand, the action scenes were better than ever, and the most developed character in the whole movie was Optimus Prime. Finally a transformer and not a human gets some substance. There was also the 3D which I usually find worthless, but it was put to proper use here in certain scenes. I got a lot of robots blowing stuff up, which is exactly what I wanted.

But on the other hand I can honestly say it was the most brainless movie I have ever seen. The script felt like it was written in crayon and the story pitch had to have been a 5 year old mashing his Transformers toys together. It jumped from character to character with no flow or rhythm and never really got any further than where the impressive first five minutes took us. People complained about the annoying, jar jar binks like, robots Skids and Mudflap from the second film, and the filmmakers said they took them out of this one. They did, but the neglected to mention they replaced them with new transformers that were just as obnoxious that took away any emotional weight the film might have had.

The human characters weren’t doing much either. Megan Fox’s replacement Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wasn’t any better, but she wasn’t really worse considering that all the actor’s were doing a pretty rough if not phoned in job. There were also the forced, annoying, and worthless cameos by the likes of John Malkovich and Ken Jeong that could’ve been cut and not missed. I don’t blame them though, since the whole film felt like a series of scenes that were filmed like a jigsaw puzzle, but not put together as a whole piece.

Even with all that, I still prefer Dark of the Moon over Revenge of the Fallen. But with an extremely abrupt ending that left me asking what the hell I just watched, and still trying piece together my brain that was turned to mush, I’m not sure it’s a movie I can say was actually good.