Thursday, May 5, 2016

REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War

Civil War is what Batman v Superman is, only done right. Now granted, I didn't exactly see Batman v Superman (Superman isn't exactly one of my favorite heroes out there), but I think I can take the word of some of my respected critic colleagues out there on the consensus that it could have been better. A lot better. Personally with me, superheroes aren't exactly on top of my world. I don't know if they ever really were. They can be fun to follow, but every now and then, I'll come across that movie that will peak my curiosity. Guardians of the Galaxy did that, and I had a lot of fun with that. And that was the first marvel movie I'd seen since Iron Man. Well here I am, watching Captain America, haven't even seen Avengers, and I'm sitting here. Now I can hear some of you yelling at me that I should have seen the other movies, and I'll just say....continue reading.

Going into this, I had a basic idea of what has happened in the Marvel universe. Decently, and the movie was kind enough to give me a rough outline of peak events that had happened before this movie. Climactic events from the Avengers movies and whatnot. And despite my lack of knowledge at to the origins of characters like James Barnes (who o thought was literally James Bond at first...I mean come on that last name is too similar), I followed the story will enough to thoroughly enjoy myself. I said up above that this is likely what BvS should have been like. From what I've heard, the writing of that movie was atrocious, and the reasons for fighting were ridiculous. Thankfully, this film presents a clear, understandable, and genuinely good conflict of interest. The resulting conflicts make this one of the darkest films that Marvel has ever done, or likely ever will do. Coming from a studio that's never too sure whether or not to take their product seriously, or goofy, it's quite refreshing to me.

Now that's not a bad thing to say. Civil War may be dark, but the goofy moments are still there. Tony Stark's smartass persona hasn't gone anywhere, and there are a few lines that legitly had me chuckling. From characters all over the place. I honestly wish there was more of that, because the middle third of this film...drags. Maybe it's my fault for drinking too much coke, but in the middle of this film, the setup is painfully slow. I understand that you need buildup, and you don't just show fists, but there were times I felt things could have been sped up a little faster. Because there were times all I could do was ask myself how long I'd been sitting there.

When the action gets going though, everything just goes smoothly, and at a piece that will keep your attention fully.i must commemorate the studio for giving some of the coolest action I've seen in theaters. Watching two teams of heroes on both sides collide was easily one of the coolest things I've seen on the big screen this year.  It's the climactic, over-the-top, brawl fest that the fans could wish for, with some of the most iconic characters of the universe, and even some of the newer ones.  And yeah, looks like Marvel's got their hands on Spiderman now. Because the tease at the end of the movie might as well read "Sony is our bitch." So there's something for the fans to look forward to.  

The story was easy to follow, and the conflicts of interest I will say kept my interest.  There were a few times I scratched my head wondering why certain things were as they were when there were these other factors to take into consideration.  Without spoiling too much, the condemning of the Avengers seemed out of place. And I do feel that the vengeance side of Iron man seems just a bit off character, but then again, maybe I just need to rediscover the character.  My biggest problem with this movie however....ironically is the title.  I can't help but feel that marketing manipulated this movie ever so slightly.  The concept of a Civil War is a nation divided amongst itself. The thing is, not once is America, or any other nation divided, Civil War is just one big metaphor for the turmoil that the central characters face. But...with trailer lines that don't even appear in the movie such as "You just started a war!" Or "You chose the wrong side." (Though to the film's credit, that last one is at least part of a sentence), I can't help but feel that the conflict we were supposed to believe happened, never happened.  Or maybe it's to setup the next Avengers movie?  If that's the case, save it for the next damn movie. I'm not saying I didn't like the film, far from it.  But I will call marketing out for their BS moves...and I think I smell one.

All in all, Civil War has succeeded in something I didn't think possible.  Not only has my interest in Marvel been rekindled a bit somewhat, but after the movie, I found myself going to Target to check out prices of the Captain America, and Avengers movies.  Why?  Because I realized that I wanted to get invested in this universe more than I had before.  I don't think I'll find myself buying the Thor movies anytime soon, but I found myself at least wanting to look into Captain America, because though Iron Man seems to be the fan loved character, I think Captain America has a better background and is the more interesting character, It's making me want to look into his movies...and the Avengers.  These are movies I honestly didn't see myself watching in the near future, and now I'm looking for a decent price. When your movie makes me want to look into more of your universe, you've done something right, and Civil War did more than hit on target there.  Despite it's flaws that I did find, I had a lovely time,, and perhaps, I may just get more into Marvel than I thought I would.

Captain America: Civil War earns a three and a half star rating out of four. Dark, gritty, and full of risks not often seen in most Marvel movies, it was a ride I fully enjoyed from beginning to end, even if it dragged itself out a bit.  The action was stellar, the acting, spot on, the characters, fun, and though the clichés that were used now and then made to some predictable circumstances, and the musical score was nothing special, I won't lie that it's fun to watch the captain and Iron Man during it out.  DC should be taking notes on these movies, especially since the most anticipated comic book film of the year was such a letdown.  But all I can or will say is this. If you were disappointed by Batman v Superman...Civil War will give you what you want, and may just erase that movie from your mind.  

Please feel free to request any movie you'd like me to review.  Leave a comment down below telling me what your thoughts on the movie were, and as always, thanks for reading.

Final Verdict: 3.5/4

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


My childhood was full of movies I can point out by name, each one having a bit of a special place in my heart.  Balto...was not in my childhood. Nope, Balto kinda came into my film collection about twenty years after its release. And I didn't even know it existed until a friend I have drew some art of it. I didn't really know anything about it, but finding it for about five dollars at Walmart?  I decided to check it out. So...what do I think of this movie? Well....I like it.  But let's just say it's got it's fair share of flaws.  But the pros outweigh the cons.  It's a simple story, that is stronger than I probably give it credit for. When an outbreak of diphtheria breaks out in the small town of Nome, Alaska, it's up to a team of dogs on a dogsled team to rush essential medicine to the town when extreme weather prevents other methods of delivery.  Based on the real serum run that occurred in 1925, the movie does a fun job of giving its own elements of story to make it a fun movie to stand out on its own, and that's a good thing as historically speaking, this movie isn't accurate at all. 

So how does the film hold up? I guess the first thing that I notice about this film that I don't particularly care for, is the amount of filler that this film can have.  Particularly between Balto, and the secondary character Boris.  While it can provide for some silly moments that I'll admit made me chuckle, they ultimately serve no purpose to the story.  And it doesn't help that in the beginning of the movie, there's a scene on a ship with the two that lasts three to five minutes which is just completely filler. We understand that Balto is a little down that the other dogs harass him, but was the sequence of Boris needed?  Or dancing?  It's just little sequences like this that kinda make this film slightly tedious to watch at times.  Those two polar bears don't exactly help the situation either. They serve only, and I mean only as comedy relief that is very hit or miss...and it misses most of the time. 

Another thing I don't particularly care for is the clichéd, and kinda forgettable villain in Steele. Now I understand that for this movie to likely have worked, some sort of conflict was likely needed, which meant transforming Balto into a hybrid of dog and wolf breed, that the other dogs don't exactly look favorably upon.  In a way, it actually gives off a similar, but more subtle message of acceptance in ways that Zootopia did, and we all know how much I loved that movie. But with Steele and some of the other dogs as well, the dialogue that is spoken is just silly.  There are scenes that aren't necessary where Balto is just bullied by these dogs.  And you can't help but wonder why these scenes were included when half the time, most of the dogs do a 180 and start talking about Steele behind his back. It kinda kills the message they're trying to convey because half the time you don't even know who's side the dogs are on. You'll also notice how I haven't mentioned their names, and that's because of the animal characters, I can name four off the top of my head. You have Baltor, his romantic interest Jenna, the Russian goose Boris, and the villain/jock dog Steele. Every other animal in this movie is entirely forgettable.

But when you are over the things this movie doesn't really get right, the movie is actually a very fun movie. Though limited, there is some action in this movie that not only is tense to watch, it's on the borderline of brutal. In fact I can't help bit feel that the central human dog musher and a few other dogs should have died in a few scenes (kids movie I guess). The animation of this film can be near flawless at times, with certain stances, or sequences that look damn near real. One sequence that immediately comes to mind is when Balto is fighting a bear about midway through the movie. Of course a bear has the upper hand, but watching the bear pressing down on his body into the snow, squeezing the life out of him, and seeing him so helpless in that situation is actually depicted incredibly well. It's these little things that make Balto one heck of a visual experience. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of one disappointing scene visually.  Even the Polar Bears, who seem a bit more....fluid than they should be are animated well enough to the point that I can't dock points for that. 

One thing I also found very surprising was just how dark this film could be. While it's not the first time we've seen a children's story in which someone was on the verge of dying, most films by Disney and other kids stories are pretty tame on the subject of death, especially when it comes to the deaths of younger characters. Yet in this movie, all sorts of children are on their deathbeds and lay helpless with their sickness, and we even see a scene of an adult building several child-sized coffins. The first time I saw that, it took me by surprise. Not too many films have guts like that. Now granted no one dies, but imagery like that can hit home with me in more ways than one. 

Another good thing I'll say about the film is the films subtle, yet central message of accepting who you are inside. While we see Balto ashamed to be a wolfbreed of dog, in the film, especially towards the end, he embraces that other side and uses it to the best of his advantage. But the film isn't in your face about it. It's just kinda nursing at you with this message, and I actually kinda like it that way. When Balto has that sense of acceptance, and does everything to get the medicine home, it can be a very powerful scene, combined with already gorgeous animation. As far as storytelling is concerned, it's got plenty of clichés that have been done a thousand times, such as the jerky villain getting left in the cold when the hero comes home, but by the time the hero returns, and the day is saved, you get a most happy feeling, and we even see the verbal human character as a grandmother, remembering Balto. While not the best scene ever written, it is good for the movie, and leaves you with a smile on your face. 

Balto is a solid three star rating out of four. Though I didn't grow up with it, it's safe to say that watching Balto, I could see why it had an audience, and I'm glad to be part of that audience. Despite the flaws in storytelling and character it can have, when it his the target, it can be one of the most fluid films I can think of in animation. The fast racing, the occasional action, and dramatic shots carry this film in ways no other film can. And even when it's off target, there's always something redeeming to find that will keep your interest. Pity I can't say the same for the bad sequels that would follow this movie. So if you're in the mood for a fun film in animation, and you can find this little gem? Give it a watch. Guaranteed you'll find something you'll like. 

Please feel free to request any movie you'd like to see me review. Leave a comment down below telling me of your own thoughts or feelings on this movie, and as always, thanks for reading. 

Final Verdict: 3/4