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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

(2014)
15 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

WS has a really good running start, with great character drama utilizing the "man out of time" theme all over the place to create some very wonderful moments between Evans and the supporting cast. It's an oddly effective coming of age story, for a 95 year old man!

The plot soon develops to typical espionage fair if you're familiar with spy-films, using "big brother" themes on a global scale but loses a lot of its credibility as everything thickens, especially when explained posthumously through a digitized super-villain Swiss accent.

I mean the absurdity of the algorithm alone already raises eyebrows, let alone implementing them in some giant floating autonomous death machines that have no safeguard. Hopefully though you'll be so drunk on the beautifully choreographed action sequences and banter between Evans and Johansson that you just go ahead and accept everything happening is plausible.

This CA sequel possesses everything loveable about Marvel films and more. Great visuals, phenomenal action, quip humour, effective character drama...but the "more" this time is that it manages to capture the political tone and essence of espionage/conspiracy spy films while retaining itself as a fun, action packed adventure lead by a protagonist that clearly has depth. Kudos Marvel!

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men

(2013)
58 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I think critics just have ridiculously unreasonable expectations towards a star spangled cast for a film that's ALSO written and directed by Clooney. Or would actually jump at a chance to bash the guy.

The Monuments Men is rich in great comedic moments, a coherent plot with character driven points as well as a rounded score of dramatic turns. However things do get a little predictable to a point of formulaic embarrassment.

I found the light-hearted 90's stylistic approach (indicated as a "stiffly nostalgic tone" by RT) juxtaposed the rather grim, dreaded nature of the WWII setting very well. It created a welcoming contrast that alternatively gave the movie a sense of identity for a 2013 production.

The acting was great but again that's to be expected considering the cast. However what really stuck out was the subplot between Damon and Blanchett. It masterfully draws a line between romance, seclusion and trust through various nuances. Without going into details I just wanted to highlight how well crafted their relationship was.

Unfortunately by comparison similar elements of the film felt diminished, Murray and Balaban's friendship, Goodman and Dujardin's comradary, Bonneville's death... hell even Clooney himself seemed a little watered down by comparison but that's kind of expected considering all the screentime was filled with humor instead and c'mon, there's more than enough charm to deliver in that respect between these guys.

So between the dated stylistic approach (Hell, it even ends in them walking into a sun set) and loads of unsolicited humor it's hard to even consider The Monuments Men a war film. Does that necessarily make it bad though? Definitely not, I found the entire experience to be quite enjoyable and I'd surely recommend it to others.

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie

(2014)
2 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I was skeptical of RT's 95% for this movie, thinking maybe once again critics were going easy on an animated film but it is actually that amazing.
It's just incredibly smart with sharp humor, a relatively original plot with great ups n' downs, twists and turns and the phenomenal animation style that brings it all together. What's best though is all the themes and motifs explored pretty much embodies everything there is about the LEGO toys and the franchise.

Also lets not forget the amazing cast of actors involved. Some of my personal favorites like Charlie Day (Always Sunny), Elizabeth Banks (Scrubs), Alison Brie (Community), Will Arnett (Arrested Development), Nick Offerman (Parks n' Rec) and the list goes on!

If there are any criticism to be had I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe the whole toys coming to life can feel like a tired idea or the message of the film gets a little muddled (It's good to follow instructions, but then it's not?) but honestly to say such things is like trying to take down a dinosaur with a pebble.

The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street

(2013)
2 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

For a very high energy film the length can takes it's toll and by the 5th "omg I'm so high" funny scene things can get a little exhausting.

Nevertheless the The Wolf is quite good, with some amazing characterizations (Mconaughey? Perfect) and pretty enticing plot points. Unfortunately when all is said and done the life of Belfort is a little too sprawling to really come together in anything very cohesive. It's definitely the dynamic gags that keep our attention which in a way can just come off gimmicky taking the whole style over substance route.

That being said the underlying theme or message appears to be that "what goes up must come down." Whether it be due to character flaws (Dicaprio), the blundering mistakes of your loved ones or having loved ones (Hill and Robbie) or the world order just coming to right itself (Denham).

In the end the poor man's path to power and inevitable fall from it can be a pretty fun watch. Granted, I'd take this over any of "The Hangover" movies for sure.

American Hustle

American Hustle

(2013)
2 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

AH unfolds in a way that very few films can replicate. When character relationships are just as exciting or thrilling as its caper plot you know you've got something quite golden.

I mean Lawrence's hysterical performance is perfect, Bale's strained and complex relationship with her, Adams struggle between what is real and what isn't... Everything is written and acted with such finesse that none of the characters ever feel like a stereotype due to their varying complexities. To do all this character work AND have it come together with a cohesive, satisfying plot was really the icing on top.

If anything, the film just lacked accessibility. It's hard to root for anyone when you pass judgement on their inherent flaws and if you don't get the nuanced humor everything can seem quite dreary. A little more edge in direction style could have also helped the relatively mundane setting/genre that AH is pigeonholed in.

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