Film Review: CAPTAIN MARVEL (USA 2019) ***

Captain Marvel Poster
Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

Directors:

Anna BodenRyan Fleck

Writers:

Anna Boden (screenplay by), Ryan Fleck (screenplay by)| 6 more credits »

CAPTAIN MARVEL turns out to be more a franchise moneymaker in the Marvel Comics Universe than a film.  At the end, the audience reads that CAPTAIN MARVEL will next be seen in the AVENGERS: ENDGAME film while a sequel is likely already in the process (the film ends with the Kree promising: we will return for the woman).  Exiting the theatre and immediate in sight are a row of empty ready to use buckets of popcorn with the Captain Marvel imprinted around its sides that tells it all.

The film opens with Carol Danvars, an ex-U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and member of an elite Kree military unit called Starforce.   Her DNA was fused with that of a Kree during an accident, imbuing her with superhuman strength, energy projection.   Danvers is a believer in truth and justice and a “bridge between Earth and space, who must balance her “unemotional” Kree side that is an “amazing fighter” with her “flawed” human half that is the thing that she ends up leading by.  This is tested by her mentor played by Judd Law, all buffed up and looking good for this role.

Danvars cannot remember her past but it is revealed later on in the film that everything she had believed in is a lie.  Even those she thought were the villains were not.  As such, the film suffers the lack of a true evil villain.

Though the film has a very weak storyline, the film puts emphasis on the relationship between Danvars and other characters – like her and her mentor and her and her best friend, Maria Ramveau  (Lashana Lynch) in the airforce.  Unfortunately, the result is still quite un-engaging.  

The film benefits from it its leading stars – Brie Lawson (from ROOM) and Samuel L. Jackson.  Larson took judo and wrestling classes before taking on the role.  Jackson lifts the spirit of the film with his comic and somewhat over-the-top portrayal of Nick Fury, the future leader of S.H.I.E.L.D.  He is seen here without his eye patch before he lost his eye.  Watch out for that part, which makes the film’s most hilarious moment.   This is where Jackson gets to utter his signature ‘motherf*****’ phrase.  (Jackson utters this phrase in almost every movie he is in.)
The big question then is whether the film is any good.  CAPTAIN MARVEL has a very thin plot and a story that really does not mean anything despite saving the earth and Universe in some form or other.  The special effects and CGI take over, and the film establishes the woman CAPTAIN MARVEL as yet another action super hero – and a strong one at that.  So, the film achieves its aim of establishing CAPTAIN MARVEL in the Marvel Universe while making lots of money, but the answer to whether it is really any good is debatable.  But the film should bring 2019’s box-office, currently in the doldrums up several notches after the film debuts the first two weeks.  And audiences will flock to see these action hero films, even when they are plain awful like BATMAN V. SUPERMAN or AQUAMAN.
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1BCujX3pw8

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TIFF 2018 Review: THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS (USA 20018) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

The Land of Steady Habits Poster
Trailer

Feeling trapped in the stifling, wealthy enclave of Westport, Connecticut, Anders Hill (Ben Mendelsohn) retires from his job in finance and leaves his wife (Edie Falco) in the hopes that it… See full summary »

Writers:

Nicole HolofcenerTed Thompson (based on the novel by)

THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS is another NETFLIX original and not a bad one at that.  The film is set in Westport, Connecticut.  One can only speculate the reason this one did not get made through the normal channels.  This is a story of a middle-aged man who has left metaphorically the land of steady habits. 

Anders Hill (Ben Mendelsohn) has quit his well paying job and divorced his life – the protagonist, like the film going against the natural flow of things.  He figures life will be more rewarding but things get worse.  When the film opens, he has just picked up a woman and having sex.  Besides not being able to get it up, his adult son Preston (Thomas Mann) rejects him.  Oddly enough, he bonds and smokes up with the neighbours drug-culled son Charlie (Charlie Tahan).  

When Charlie commits suicide, Anders is blamed.  Holofcener (ENOUGH SAID) is good at this kind of films.  She gets into her characters and keeps her film well paced, intelligent and smart.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbKDFMW8hGE

Film Review: READY PLAYER ONE (USA 2018) *** Directed by Steven Spielberg

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Ready Player One Poster
Trailer

When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.

Director:

Steven Spielberg

Writers:

Zak Penn (screenplay by), Ernest Cline (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »

 

At the promo screening of READY PLAYER ONE, the MC who introduced the movie said that if one enjoys gaming, special effects and CGI, this is the movie, and if not…..”  His words are so true, as Steven Spielberg’s latest venture, based on the book of the same name by Ernest Cline is just that – too much going on screen for the average moviegoer to absorb.  Half of the humour and logic are completely lost, but on the other hand, half of what transpires on screen might be appreciated.

The film is set in the future of 2045 in Chicago where people live in what are called ‘the stacks’ as their cramped quarters are stacked one above the other.  The hero of the piece is an orphan, Wade Watts (Sheridan Tye) a youth of 18 who lives with his aunt (Susan Lynch) and her abusive boyfriend.

The is is the story’s premise.  The world is in the grip of many worries: energy crisis, disaster caused by climate change, famine, poverty, war, etc.  In this chaotic world, OASIS is a global virtual reality system ], accessible through head-mounted and haptic devices such as gloves and coveralls.  Originally conceived as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), it has become over time a true virtual society which all humanity uses as an outlet.  It is a place everyone wants to be in and where everyone gets to be whoever he wants.  The players win coins (shades of bitcoin) but lose everything if they are killed.  Its creator, James Halliday (Mark Rylance, who now appears to be Spielberg’s favourite actor), is one of the richest men in the world.  Immediately after his death, a video is released in which he appears, explaining that he decided to bequeath his huge fortune, 500 billion dollars, and his company, GSS, to the person who will find an easter egg hidden in the OASIS.  The goal is to find three keys scattered in the OASIS and which are the preliminary to the discovery of the egg.  

The villain of the piece is Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) who for the most part wears a suit and tie.  He was Halliday’s partner who wants to own the entire OASIS, though he is not that familiar with all the pop culture that comes with OASIS.  He, comically has someone who does, connected to him via headphones so he can impress whoever he wants that he knows all.  He tries to foil Wade and his gang from finding the three keys.  Yes, there is also romance between wade and Samantha (Olivia Cooke) amidst all going on behind the action.

The search for the 3 keys and the east egg (in a film appropriately timed to be released at Easter) takes our heroes though a journey that includes, of all things, Stanley Kubrick’s horror movie THE SHINING.  Those familiar with the film will be pleased to see the twin girls and the river of blood coming from the two open doors.

The film, despite dwelling on pop culture kitsch has a few sensitive moments – a story of soul to be found in a special effects soulless film.  The film looks stunning with cinematography by Oscar winner, Janusz Kaminski (SCHINDLER’S LIST).  The film costs a huge bundle of millions to make and it shows.  The film astounds as it bores, is soulful as it is soulless, a contradiction in entertainment but nevertheless, an successful failure.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSp1dM2Vj48

 

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Film Review: I AM HEATH LEDGER (Canada 2017)

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i_am_heath_ledger.jpgFriends and family of the late actor Heath Ledger remember his life and career.

Directors: Adrian Buitenhuis, Derik Murray
Writer: Hart Snider
Stars: Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, Ben Mendelsohn

Review by Gilbert Seah

Thunderbird Entertainment is releasing I AM HEATH LEDGER in select Cineplex theatres across Canada for a special event screening on May 4th, Thursday. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23rd, and takes an intimate look at the remarkable life and career of Heath Ledger, featuring interviews with Naomi Watts, Ben Mendelsohn, Ang Lee as well as his family and closest friends.
The big question is why would anyone but a true Heath Ledger fan want to spend 90 minutes of their lifetime in a theatre watching a documentary of his life.

Before dismissing the film, it should be noted that there are many things that can be learnt from the film, and from the life of Heath Ledger. Heath Ledger died from cardiac arrest after taking prescription drugs. He won an Oscar (posthumously) for his role of The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT and did a great job as a gay cowboy in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, his two biggest roles (clips shown). But there is a lot of the man that many do not know.

The doc on Heath Ledger begins with a musician who talks candidly about the late Australian actor. Ledger has no time for anything that has no risk. He lived on the edge.” And more important, these words, “He is one person that is too big for this world.”

These are other quotations describing Heath Ledger:
Heath lived life to its fullest.
He knew everything about the camera.
He was documenting everything. He never stopped.
Music was always in him.
He was big in sharing in success.
He truly was an artist.

He was a one-man force of nature (referring to his video direction).
The most engaging effect of Ledger is his energy. He would show up at the early morning at friend’s place for breakfast and never run out of ideas as a filmmaker. His constant proximity to a camera allows his doc to show many candid footage of the artist. A few of these show his limitless energy, which is indeed catching and admirable.

Offering insight are the interviews with the famous actors who have worked with Ledger in his other films. Among them are Mel Gibson in THE PATRIOT, Emile Hirsch and Naomi Watts in LORDS OF DOGTOWN and Djimon Hounsou in THE FOUR FEATHERS.

The film spends time on BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and with reason. Director of the film Ang Lee speaks of his performance how he would nail the acting target. This was the film which he, a top star of the time, plays a gay cowboy. It was a film that changed Ledger’s life for two reasons. It marked his maturity as an actor and he met future wife, Michelle Williams, who had a supporting role in the film.

The film is biased in that it sidesteps any bad characteristics of Ledger. His drug use is totally dismissed with nothing mentioned also of his partying and drinking. Unlike the doc on Amy Winehouse, AMY which shows both sides of that singer/songwriter, I AM HEATH LEDGER only shows one side, the good side of Heath Ledger.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PPTDsTnaPk
  

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Watch First Trailer for ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY #rogueone

The new Star Wars film is coming out in December starring Felicity Jones.

Watch Trailer NOW:

 

“Rogue One” will be a prequel to the events of 1977′s “Star Wars: A New Hope,” described on the official “Star Wars” website as “the story of unlikely heroes who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star.”

The cast also includes Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed and Forest Whitaker.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” arrives in theaters Dec 16.

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