Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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captain_america_civil_warCAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Bruhl, Frank Grillo

Reveiw by Gilbert Seah

Judging from the box-office successful but critically panned BATMAN V. SUPERMAN, audiences love to see their super heroes battle one another – never mind the reason, never mind who wins, and never mind anything else. In this latest Marvel superhero movie, there are lots more of the same. It is a dream come true for current action fans as there is a full 15 minute action fight scene during which two factions of super heroes battle it out with each other.

The film begins with establishing the reason for the formation of the two factions. It is a world disaster in which innocent people are killed in Nigeria following a criminal being pursued by the Avengers. As a result of the collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps, one led by Steve Rogers aka Captain America (the handsome hunk Luke Evans) and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s Ironman (played by Robert Downey Jr.) surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

This is an AVENGERS film despite the Captain America title. Other Marvel heroes on display here include Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Winter Soldier of the film title (Sebastian Stan), Falcon from the IRONMAN films (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye with his arrows (Jeremy Renner), Vision (Paul Bettany), Spider-man (Tom Holland) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) the latter two providing most of the humour in the film. But the script by a multiple of writers includes many one-liners that only Marvel fans will find funny, or whoever is in the mood. But the one-liners are quite mediocre and no match compared to those found in other action films like the DIE HARD or TERMINATOR films.

So there is one faction led by Ironman with Spidey, Faclon and Spider and the other by Captain America, Winter soldier and Hawkeye. There is an extended fight scene between the two leaders as well but no one really comes out the outright victor. The heroes use their powers like Spidey his web, America his shield and Hawkeye his arrows.

The film running at almost two and a half hours is surprisingly short on both story and character development. The script contains lots of repetitions on the need to control the Avengers i.e. to substantiate the rivalry between the two groups. All this tends to be a tad boring after a while, not to mention that the matter is never resolved at the end and the film set up for a sequel.

Not much is demanded in the acting department for an action film of this nature except for the actors to look good. And they all look very bulked up or pretty as the case may be. This reviewer never liked Robert Downey Jr. as an actor (in Sherlock Holmes, IRONMAN and other films) or in person for his wise-cracking smart-ass attitude. So, the best line in the film delivered by Black Widow to him: “Are you incapable of letting go of your ego for one Goddamned second?” gave me a big smile.

CAPTAIN AMERICA is a film that would delight action Marvel fans, but those serious in their taste of cinema – might want to take all this with a pinch (or rather, heap) of salt.

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Movie Review: GODS OF EGYPT (USA 2016) **

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gods_of_egypt_poster.jpgGODS OF EGYPT (USA 2016) **
Directed by Alex Proyas

Starring: Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Courtney Eaton, Chadwick Boseman, Elodie Yung

Review by Gilbert Seah

The Lionsgate blockbuster GODS OF EGPYT has been plagued by many problems the most notable of it being a totally white cast for its lead characters. But this is the least of the film’s troubles. Made by Lionsgate, the HUNGER GAMES company that desperately needs a big hit after their stock plummeted 30% in one day after the earnings announcement, this $140 million production is only expected to gross, by industry estimates only $15 million on its opening weekend. To Lionsgate credit, it claims that it only footed $10 million of the budget, the rest covered by pre-sales and tax credits. The Australian Government apparently paid half the production costs.

The director Alex Proyas (I, ROBOT, THE CROW) claims that the world of Gods of Egypt never really existed. It is inspired by Egyptian mythology, and therefore it would make no sense to attempt any historical accuracy because that would be pointless — none of the events in the movie ever really happened. So, it does not really matter that the film was never shot in Egypt but down-under.

The story of Gods and man is set in Egypt. At the film’s start, the audience is given the heads-up by voice-over of the film’s setting. Apparently God and man are co-existing side-by-side. The film distinguishes one from the other by the size. Gods are figures that appear much taller (or larger) than humans. The film opens with a common human thief, Bek (Brenton Thwaites) stealing an amulet to offer it as a gift to his everlasting love. They attend the coronation of the crowning of the new King, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), whose throne is stolen by Uncle Set (Gerard Butler with all the growling he can muster!) After that, it is the quest of reclaiming the throne.

Since when do Gods die or fight for a throne? And where does the idea of so many Gods living together ever come from? The main premise is as ridiculous as it looks and it does look even sillier in a big budgeted film. One best example is the scene of the coronation with the screen filled with thousands of spectators as far the the screen can hold. How then can they hear what is going on on the stage when the microphone was not invented then. The scene reminds one of MONTY PYTHON’S LFE OF BRIAN where the Monty Python group complain about being unable to hear what Jesus was preaching during the sermon on the Mount.

The film running more than 2 hours is CGI gone mad. The special effects, 3D and CGI are costly and look good on the screen. But the script meanders more than the Nile giving the impression that the writers are making things up as they go along. For a multi-million dollar epic, the one-liners could at least being funnier. “Run…”, “Run Faster”… are the best the film has to offer. The climatic fight is good enough, performed at the top of a pyramid, but the entire adventure turns out to be a totally boring affair.

Never has so much money been devoted to the realm of boredom.


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