Category Archives: Movies

Captain America: Civil War Spoiler-free Review

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Captain America: Civil War has officially been released in theaters across America, and I, of course, grabbed a pair of tickets to see the very first screening I could find. My wife and I went decked out in geek-gear: me in Cap socks and shirt, and her in a Spider-Gwen hoodie that I’m convinced she plans on being buried in. We arrived at the theater early Thursday night and just watched in delight as people came out by the dozens to show their support for the First Avenger with t-shirts, jackets, hats, and all manner of Cap garb. Hell, one girl was wearing a full on Cap onesie. I’d say it looked ridiculous but I’m just being jealous- I wish I’d have thought to do that.

After two and a half hours of intense action, thought-provoking story and some serious twists that I did not see coming (and a few I did) I left the theater last night feeling somewhat conflicted- what I had just seen was probably the best Avengers movie to date, and I should have been jumping up and down with excitement, but instead I couldn’t help but feel a tad disappointed. I mean, following up a movie like Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a tough task. I constantly go back to it as the prime example of a movie doing everything right, and as a result any movie that isn’t so spot-on is a let down.

That’s not to say Civil War was a let down, don’t misunderstand me- from a cinematic standpoint this was a solid, entertaining movie. My wife, a casual Marvel fan and devout Cap-reader, absolutely loved it, and even if I didn’t think it was quite as strong as Winter Soldier, I still had a blast. The movie has all the working parts to make it the summer blockbuster it is, mixing serious issues with outlandish but brilliant fight scenes all interspersed with laugh-out-loud humor (thanks mostly to our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man). The story moves along at a fast pace, which works both for and against it as it has a lot to set up in a short period of time, leaving the first act a little rushed, but working flawlessly for the second and third acts. And while it does have a few too many moving parts, it does a much better job of focusing on the “right now” than Avengers: Age of Ultron did, which seemed more interested in setting up the next slew of Marvel movies than paying attention to its own story.

Also like the previous Avengers movies, Civil War is crammed full of superheroes who need to battle for screen time. However, unlike AoU, every character present serves the plot in one way or another despite having over a dozen costumed heroes running around. Joe and Anthony Russo do an outstanding job keeping us engaged in our familiar faces while simultaneously introducing some new friends along the way, assuring us that the next two Avengers movies are in good hands. This is one of the movie’s greatest strengths- being able to juggle so many characters without having anyone feel forced in or left out, but it’s also one of my biggest issues with the movie. With a so many characters pulled from all over the MCU, Civil War is as much a sequel to Avengers as it is to Captain America, maybe even more so.

A great deal of the film’s time is spent reminding us about Sokovia and the events that took place in AoU, even so much as to be the driving force behind many of the character’s motivations. Now, I have no problem with the Avengers, and if this movie had been titled Avengers: Civil War, I would probably feel very different about it, but I wanted to see a sequel to The Winter Soldier. Despite wrapping up the plot started in that movie, not enough time was devoted to developing Cap’s supporting cast (Falcon, Sharon, Crossbones) so the film could make room for the Avengers team members like Vision and Scarlet Witch (though Zemo is a truly spectacular villain worthy of his legacy).

So in that respect, I was disappointed with Civil War. Not because of what it was, but because of what it wasn’t. It’s a fun, action-packed Avengers movie that’s sure to please fans of the MCU, but Captain America fans may feel a little underwhelmed that it wasn’t quite the Cap movie we wanted.

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Captain America 1990 Movie Review

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Oh man, I’ve been waiting to sink my teeth into this one for a long time now, and seeing as we’re just a week away from Captain America: Civil War, I figured what better time than now to look back at the embarrassment that was 1990’s Captain America movie?

I was originally going to do a scene-by-scene breakdown of this crapfest, but after about 15 minutes of film, I just realized I didn’t want to write an entire novel. There’s so much wrong with it right away that I don’t even think I could cover everything if I tried.

The story is very simple- Polio stricken young man, Steve Rogers, undergoes a secret experiment in 1943 that turns him into an olympic-grade athelete with the codename Captain America. With little to no training, he is sent to stop a missile from destroying the White House, but in the process finds himself frozen in ice. Fast forward to 1990, where Steve awakens and has to take on the same villain that he fought in the 40’s, the Red Skull, an Italian super soldier turned mafia crime boss who has kidnapped the President of the US for reasons.

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Most of the story in the first act is explained via heavy-handed exposition- we only know what’s going on because some character, at some point, comes right out and says it. We never get to see anything play out, as if the first 20 minutes of the film is basically just a visual synopsis of the comic origin that does absolutely nothing aside from introduce the characters and plot. You know Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger) is a good guy because everyone has told you he is. Not once are we ever shown Steve doing anything heroic, nor do we know why it is he is chosen to be Captain America, or even why he would want to be. The movie just tells us “He’s the best candidate out of 600 men. That’s a lot of guys, and you should be impressed. Now let’s move on.”

What might be worse, though, is that even after he becomes Cap, we still have no reason to root for him. He gets a serious smackdown at the hands of the Red Skull before being strapped to a rocket and frozen. It’s his first (and only) mission during the war and he gets defeated! In, like, 3 minutes! To be fair, I don’t know what anyone was expecting when you send a guy with virtually no training, who even states at one point, “I just wish I had more time to practice”, out on his own against an entire army. Sure, he saves the White House by kicking the rocket he’s strapped to, but since he failed to stop the launch, and that WAS the mission, I’m still counting it as a wash. From there he does zero in the way of heroing. He kinda just runs around assuming everyone is a Nazi and puts others in the line of fire throughout his oddball international journey. Hell, I think he gets saved more times by Sharon than he actually helps anyone.

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The movie does a better job of giving us reasons to love President Thomas Kimball (played by Ronny Cox) and convincing us that he’s a great guy who should probably be our main character. We know he can’t be bought, he has the people’s best interest in mind when making his decisions, and he’s a national hero. I would have loved to have seen this movie developed into a new version of Cap where Kimball is President of the free world by day, but justice-serving costumed crusader by night. “Captain America: Vigilante President”. I’m game for that.

I don’t know why the movie decided it was necessary to spend time developing his character instead of the titular hero, but it makes him one of the only likeable people in the entire film. The downside to that is that it causes the movie to spend an absurd amount of time on his stupid B-plot with his childhood friend-turned reporter, Sam (Ned Beatty). In fact, the B-plot is the only thing that propels the story in any direction, giving Sam an awful lot of convenient exposition to help guide Cap towards the Skull and save the President.

And the Red Skull…geez. I don’t know where to start with him.

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The movie opens with a scene set in 1936 Italy where a young boy, Tadzio de Santis, is kidnapped by the Fascist government as part of an evil plan to create a world-conquering supersoldier. Before being dragged away, he is forced to watch his entire family gunned down right in front of him and then brought to a secret lab where he is strapped into a chair with a some sorta weird Halloween mask attached to it. The doctor in charge of the super soldier project, Dr. Maria Vaselli, objects to the use of this innocent child as the subject of her experiments, as any sane person would, but she can do nothing to stop the evil Italian army from continuing their mad plan and resolves to leap out a window as the boy screams in pain.

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the origin of this movie’s Red Skull. An innocent boy kidnapped by an evil government and horribly disfigured because he’s smart. I have a hard time hoping this tortured soul gets comeuppance.

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“It’s-a me!”

 

At least he’s somewhat entertaining to watch, even if he’s actually the Red Skull for only about 5 minutes of screen time. And most of that time he’s less like the comic book version of Red Skull and more like…I don’t know…picture Super Mario with a steamed tomato for a head. And with that visual in mind it isn’t hard to tell why the Skull’s 1943 scenes are entertaining- who doesn’t love Mario? I do have to ask this, though- if your enemy, who is tied to a rocket, grabs your wrist just before it fires, wouldn’t you cut HIS hand off before removing your own? Not that it matters since The Red Skull’s missing hand never really plays into anything that happens the entire film. Plot beats that lead to things? Maybe I’m expecting too much.

In addition to some underdeveloped characters, we get a really half-baked story that moves along clumsily from plot point to plot point. The entire story hinges on some random happenings coinciding to go anywhere. Why does the Red Skull send his goons after Cap? Why does the reporter decide Cap is the only one who can help him save the President? Why does Sharon tag along? Well, dear viewer, there wouldn’t have been much a movie to speak of otherwise, that’s why. And when that’s the reason things happen in your film, maybe you shouldn’t be making it.

The action scenes are inexcusably boring in part due to the bad camera angles, crummy editing, and poor lighting, but also because I think it would help things if the audience cared AT ALL about what happened to the main character. Again, hard to root for a guy who is as interesting as a stale slice of bread and makes a habit of abandoning important expositional friends in other countries.

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“When Captain America throws his giant plastic Frisbee…”

 

Watching Steve throw his mighty shield is like seeing a dad pass an oversized Frisbee to his kids. “Here, vaguely Nazi son, go long!” There’s no intent or power behind it in the slightest. Not only does it look ridiculous, but the shield has some seriously ill-defined abilities. In one throw it knocks a guy off a ledge and circles back in mid air to clock another person in the face, and then continues on straight back to Cap. As if it somehow decides it’s just time to go home. Physics!

I could really go on and on about just how bad this movie is all day long. How does the President know who Sharon is? What’s with the terrible soundtrack? Why are Captain America’s ears made of rubber?

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“Thanks, Mr. President!”

 

After watching this movie, it’s really no wonder it only got a very limited theatrical release, even after being delayed a few times. The studio had sunk a few million bucks into making this monster and they were probably trying to figure out if they should unleash it onto an unsuspecting populace or burn it in a windmill. Ultimately, in 1992, the movie finally saw the light of day via direct-to-video release and that was met with some less than stellar reactions. It currently has a 9% rating on Rottentomatoes.com, and those reviews were written years after the movie’s release- long enough time for it to go from “terrible movie” to “campy cult classic”. Yet somehow this movie is just so bad it can’t even garner the respect that Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four travesty receives (a movie which sits at a solid 29% on that same site).

Sadly this was not Cap’s worst cinematic outing, as the atrocity that was the 1979 made-for-TV movie starring Reb Brown was far more mind-numbing. Maybe I’ll go ahead and review that one day, but for now I don’t think I can handle much more abuse. I need some MCU to wash this taste out of my mouth. Bring on Civil War!

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Captain America Movie Marathon at AMC Theaters

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AMC Theaters Nationwide are celebrating the release of Captain America: Civil War with an ass-numbing movie marathon featuring the first two Cap movies, both Avengers movies, and finishing up with Civil War. For those keeping track, that puts us at over 14 hours of sitting in a chair!

Now I love Cap as much as the next guy, but let’s be real here- I can’t even do this marathon from the comfort of my home, so the idea of sitting in a cramped movie theater is beyond me.

However, should you have the sheer strength of will to undertake this outing, it starts at 7am in select AMC Theaters and tickets will not only land you a seat to 14 hours of Marvel goodness, but you’ll also get get some cool collectible Cap swag, too!

I couldn’t find any info on the pricing, but all the info that is currently available, including participating theaters, can be found on the official AMC website here.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes Captain America Civil War “Super Hero Airport Battle” Review

I was excited to see the new Lego sets for Civil War start to roll out, and I, of course, snatched them up right away.

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After assembling and playing with all 3 new Cap sets, I figured I would start with the biggest one simply because I had the most fun playing with it. There’s just so much to love here that the $80 price tag was a little easier to handle. This particular set, the “Super Hero Airport Battle”, has caused a lot of buzz around the internet due to what some people are calling a “Big” spoiler. To me, if you didn’t know this was eventually coming in the movies, it probably just means you’ve never read a comic. Regardless I feel the need to state that there are potential spoilers ahead from the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie, so read at your own discretion.

For starters, this is a MASSIVE set, which includes 807 pieces. These parts, spread across 5 bags, assemble into 1 building, 2 vehicles, 6 minifigures, 1 microfigure, and 1, uh, maxifigure? I’ve been buying Lego sets for years and I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen this much crammed into one set, or the last time I’ve seen an instruction manual this damn thick. Yowza.

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Seems I forgot Scarlet Witch. Oops.

The minifigs included here are Captain America (which appears to be the same one used in the Avengers: Age of Ultron sets), The Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Agent 13, Iron Man, and War Machine. Each figure aside from Cap features 2 faces on one head- a more happy “neutral” face and an angry face. In addition, each character gets a weapon or accessory, or in some cases like War Machine, they get both. His minifig is unique in that it gets a backpack that can fire a missle plus hold what I can only call a beating stick.

 

The microfig of the set is Ant Man, who is a tiny little statue with really detailed paint apps. Not much to say about him, but he does look great.

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Now the big guy, what I am calling a maxifig, is really the star of this set. Giant Man, who is our potential spoiler here, is absolutely stunning. He’s built out of a combination of standard Lego pieces and some technic parts, culminating in a 5.5″ figure, which in LEGOLAND means he more than earns his name. He has a head swivel, ball joint shoulders, wrist swivels AND pivots, and hip swivels- all of which help you get some really fun poses out of what is essentially a jumbo size minifig. His hands are even large enough to grab other minifigs and cart them around! I just love this guy!

If you can get over the coolness of Giant Man, and believe me, that took a while, you can move on to some of the other things this set has to offer. First up is the yellow luggage cart which has a “spill the bags” action feature. It’s a two-part vehicle with rubber tires that can transport your awesome decal-covered luggage to the plane that isn’t included in this set, so I guess can just be tossed around during the Super Hero Scuffle.

Next up is the incredibly cool airport control tower. The building has three floors all of which are accessible from the back. It has multiple action features like a break-away wall on the second floor or a stack of crates on the first the you can use your little Ant Man to knock over. Inside you will find computer terminals, chairs, and even a Lego coffee mug on a desk. It’s the little things, folks. It really is.

Lastly you get what I’m guessing is a new iteration of a Quinjet. It’s a fairly hefty piece and has a lot of detail. There’s an opening cockpit that can fit two minifigs, an opening tailgate (is that what they’re called on planes?) that has an escape rope, movable wings, and a crank on top that when turned will drop a cannon from the bottom of the jet which can fire to little Lego stud pieces. The only thing it’s missing is a flight stand, but the great thing about Lego is that if you want something, you can just rummage through you loose parts and make it. Go creativity!

In addition to all the basic Lego-y goodness the set includes, you also get a mincomic which shows some scenes you can reenact using the 3 different Lego sets. I don’t know if I’d count anything in here as a spoiler, as it doesn’t really show anything we haven’t already seen in the trailers, but I’m going to refrain from posting anything from inside just in case. The back of the comic shows all of the characters you get if you collect all the sets, which is cool to see, but it makes me hope that we get more Civil War sets in the future. We’re missing some players here like Hawkeye (that poor guy never catches a break), Vision, and Spider-Man, so I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

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Oh, and for those keeping track here, Tony’s team seems really outnumbered. Ha!

These new Lego sets should be hitting stores this week, and I highly recommend this set to anyone who is a Cap fan, a Marvel fan, or a Lego fan, as it has some great builds and features one of the best Lego designs I’ve ever seen. I never thought I’d say this, but Giant Man for the win!

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Hasbro’s Captain America Civil War Miniverse Captain America Bunker

It’s new toy season, and thanks to the new Captain America movie on the horizon, this means a glut of new Cap toys on store shelves. What’s exciting for me is that this means I get to buy Cap stuff that would never get made under non-movie year conditions, like this neat little Captain America Bunker.

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The Cap Bunker is in scale with Hasbro’s “miniverse” toys which popped up with merchandise for the second Avengers movie, and is a cool looking playset for your Team Cap collection. There’s also a fort for your Team Iron Man, but it’s hard to get excited about that one.

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Included with the playset is a single Captain America action figure, which is the exact same one that comes with the Target Exclusive Multipack (say it like Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element) and is pretty cool despite its 2″ size. The paints are kind of weak on it, so I’ve opted to use the one I custom painted from the aforementioned Multipack for the photos.

The playset itself comes unassembled (unlike the Avengers) and has a sticker sheet, which I have always loved. I dunno, something about putting stickers on toys takes me back. Probably the hours spent making sure the stickers lined up perfectly on the old TMNT Sewer Lair. Those were simpler times.

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Anyway, the set it cast in solid colors, mostly blacks, grays, blues, with some golds thrown around. The parts all snap together easily and seem to hold well, so it should be safe for kids to beat up with their toys. The background is made of cardboard, but it’s a fairly thick piece so I wouldnt worry too much about breaking it. Once it’s together it stands about 14″ tall and features several action features. Yes, it features features. I’m not going to get my thesaurus, so deal with it.

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You get a missile launcher which can
either snap onto a separate stand and be moved around freely, or it can snap into a spot on the second floor of the bunker itself. If it is clipped onto that second floor, however, it doesn’t leave much room for the figures, so I’m just going to leave it on the stand. The playset itself has this strange little section that, to me, looks like a seat, so I think that’s a good spot to set the missile launcher for now.

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It also comes with a…uh…big yellow barrel? At first I thought it was going to be an elevator, but since it doesn’t go up and down and all it can do is turn, well, I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to be. It can fit a figure inside, though, so I guess that’s something.

Several spots on the playset act as “hit points”, which, when shot with a missile from the opposing Iron Man Base, flip up small spots on the floor to send either figures or accessories flying. This, of course, means I now need to buy the other playset. Well played, Hasbro. There’s also a large Cap Shield on the back of the Bunker that can flop up and down, which I guess is a major target but as it doesn’t activate any “flip action”, so I assume it’s just the equivalent of burning an enemy’s flag.

The set also comes with four removable “set pieces” in the way of 2 silver barrels, a computer monitor and a…um…unexploded nuclear missile. Spoiler Alert! Civil War ends with apes taking over the Earth. I guess. The missile is cool looking though, and fits snuggly into the base. There’s even a little swivel arm that grips the top of the missile, stopping it from falling over and crushing Cap and friends. The barrels are cool too, but they have hollow backs, so you will want to keep them facing a certain way so they don’t look dumb. The computer monitor is a big screen. Exciting.

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I’m not sure how much, if any, of this set will make it into the movie, but it’s a fun little toy none the less. It retails for about $20, which given the size and playability of it, is a damn good deal. My local Target had this along with some little vehicles for it, so I’ll probably end up with a Miniverse Cap army pretty soon.

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With plenty of new Civil War toys creeping their way out, I’m sure I’ll be playing with more and more as we head into the final stretch. Hard to believe the movie is just 2 months away.

Captain America: Civil War Trailer Finally Relvealed!

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Last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. both appeared and with them came our first look at the newest entry into the Captain America movie franchise, Captain America: Civil War!

Unfortunately I can’t post the video (I’m embarrassingly bad at anything tech related) but you can view the video here on youtube!

Civil War was always one of my favorite stories from the comics, and it’s often recognized as (one of) the best cross-over events in comic history, so I’m naturally excited that this is the theme for Cap’s next trek into film. To be honest I would have preferred the Serpent Society or maybe a take on US Agent, but I’ll take what I can get, especially when it looks as cool as Civil War.

The trailer shows us a lot in the way of Steve and Sam, Steve and Bucky, Steve and Natasha, and, of course, Steve and Tony- clearly the idea here is that despite the ENORMOUS cast of characters, Steve is still the focus. Which is a plus since many of us were afraid the movie was going to be overcrowded with Avengers.

What the trailer shows us:
– Bucky remembering who he is (was)
– General Ross lecturing Steve (welcome back, Mr. William Hurt)
– Sam kicking ass with his new red wings (but not his new Redwing)
– Steve and Black Widow on opposing sides
-BLACK PANTHER! He looks amazing!
– The New Avengers (for about a second)
– A beaten down War Machine in the arms of a bruised Tony Stark
– Steve and Bucky tag-teaming Ironman
– Tony breaking our hearts with his “So was I” line

What we still haven’t been shown:
– Crossbones
– Agent 13
– Baron Zemo
– Redwing
– Vision
– Antman
– Spider-Man
– That funeral scene we saw being filmed

Clearly there are still plenty of surprises in store for us, since so much is left out of the trailer. I, for one, am glad they aren’t showing everything yet so we can all get some killer shocks along the way.

I hope the movie itself is as cool as the trailer, though we all have seen trailers that made horrible movies look amazing. Cautious optimism, people. It’s pretty much my life motto.

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Hot Toys MMS Avengers: AoU Captain America update!

Yesterday I posted about the new (and extremely cool) Hot Toys Captain America figure based on his appearance in the new Avengers movie, but now Sideshow Toys and BigBadToyStore.com have some new info on the figure. It retails for $224.99 on their websites and has an expected release date between SEPTEMBER and NOVEMBER of 2015! Yikes! Glad I’m a patient man.

There doesn’t seem to be a Sideshow exclusive version of this guy, or at least not yet, so I pre-ordered mine already. If one happens to pop up in the near future no one seems to have their standard non-refundable deposit on this one so it isn’t much of a risk if you need to cancel. If you are interested in grabbing this guy grab him from either BBTS or Sideshow now!