Posts Tagged ‘Clark Gregg’

Retro Intergalactic Superhero

Captain Marvel

Directors: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Annette Bening, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch, Lee Pace, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Djimon Hounson, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Rune Temte

Just before Avengers: Endgame hits theatres, Marvel had to introduce one more superhero to the galaxy of stars. It’s the Retro intergalactic Captain Marvel wonderfully played by Oscar winner Brie Larson also known as Airforce Pilot Carol Danvers who gets whisked into space to become indoctrinated by the Kree Civilization, an advanced alien race headed up by the mysterious Supreme Being icily played by Annette Bening in her Marvel Comics debut.

Audiences can be forgiven for thinking that they had bought cinema tickets to a Star Trek reboot as the first twenty minutes of Captain Marvel is entirely set in space. Until Captain Marvel miraculously escapes an intergalactic feud between the Kree and the Skrull tribes and lands up in Los Angeles in 1995 in a blockbuster video store of all places, the film effortlessly shifts its location from outer space to a particular time and place.

In California, Captain Marvel teams up with a youthful Nick Fury wonderfully played by Samuel L. Jackson whose screen chemistry with Brie Larson is electrifying.   

Like all the other Marvel films and particularly those that loved Avengers: Infinity War, then Captain Marvel is a fun mixture of superhero and Guardians of the Galaxy and fits right in with the current trajectory the Marvel films are going. More significantly it is the first entirely female centred superhero film, with Brie Larson doing a sterling job, although admittedly the film does not quite match up to DC Comics’s brilliant Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins.

There is sufficient plot twists, location changes as Captain Marvel and Nick Fury travel to Louisiana to discover her real human identity as Airforce Pilot Carol Danvers as they team up with fellow co-pilot Maria Rambeau played by rising British star Lashana Lynch.

Oscar nominee Jude Law (The Talented Mr Ripley) plays the arrogant Kree commander Yon Rogg who proves to be a worthy adversary to Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel is a fun filled retro intergalactic romp of a film engagingly written and populated with some witty one liners. Brie Larson pulls off the role of the latest female action superhero with credibility and nuance as she struggles to discover her real identity and where her role as Captain Marvel fits in to the larger Avengers scheme of things.

Flashy visual effects and some great onscreen chemistry save Captain Marvel from being just another superhero film and this gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

Audiences should definitely see Captain Marvel before watching Avengers: Endgame. Recommended Viewing for Marvel fans only and regular attendees of Comicon.

A Fallen World

Live By Night

Director: Ben Affleck

Cast: Ben Affleck, Sienna Miller, Chris Messina, Chris Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Remo Girone, Titus Welliver, Max Casella, Clark Gregg, Anthony Michael Hall

Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Argo, Good Will Hunting) approaches another passion project with the cinematic adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s riveting gangster novel Live By Night about the rise of Irish mobster Joe Coughlin.

Set in Prohibition era America in the mid 1920’s, Live By Night features Affleck as the main character as well as him adapting the screenplay and directing the film version. To his credit, Affleck assembles a fine cast including an unrecognizable Sienna Miller as the gangster’s moll with a strong Irish accent, Emma Gould who Coughlin first meets in Boston.

Also in the cast are Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) as Coughlin’s father Thomas who happens to be Boston police chief, Oscar winner Chris Cooper (Adaptation) as Tampa police chief Figgis, Elle Fanning (Trumbo, Maleficent) in a stand out role as a recovering heroin addict Loretta Figgis and Zoe Saldana as Cuban beauty Graciela whom Coughlin eventually falls in love with after he moves to Tampa, Florida after fleeing Boston.

If viewers have not read Lehane’s book they might find the film version of Live By Night drawn out with a screenplay which delivers but doesn’t elevate the film to such genre classics as The Untouchables, Casino or even Goodfella’s.

Whilst the gorgeous period production design of Live By Night can be applauded as well as some stunning sequences in Florida, where after the initial gloom of Boston, the film definitely brightens to show a much more diverse and fascinating world in the deep South, the overall effect of Live By Night is laboured but not exhilarating.

Personally I loved the film, but I had read the novel so knew ahead what was install.

Ben Affleck’s ambitious plans to write, direct and star in a big screen adaptation of the novel might fall short, although his effort in doing so is admirable. What does elevate Live By Night are the superb supporting cast including Sienna Miller who after Burnt and Foxcatcher has an ability to disappear into any screen role and certainly is one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood. Fanning as a bible preaching morally conflicted young woman comes across as sacrificial, yet her performance is brilliant despite the minimal screen time.

The best scenes in the film are between Affleck and Chris Messina who is wonderful as Coughlin’s best friend and crime partner, the wise cracking Dion Bartolo, a role which he played against type. It is refreshing to watch Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) play in a period film as the gorgeous Cuban business woman Graciela although her role in the film is not as detailed as it is in the novel.

What Affleck does successfully is portraying America as a Fallen World, where as prohibition ends, there is nothing left except repression, bigotry and violence. Live By Night is a gritty, stylish and violent gangster film similar to Gangster Squad but not as brilliant as Bugsy or Public Enemies.

Audiences should only see Live By Night if they are ardent fans of gangster films, a genre which is difficult to get right at the best of times. Despite Affleck’s talent as a director, he is no Martin Scorsese or Brian de Palma. Although his evocative visual efforts should be commended.

Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Gangster Squad.

 

The Savy Super Anti-Hero

Iron Man

The superbly versatile character actor, Robert Downey Jnr has made a big screen comeback in the summer blockbuster Marvel comics’ film adaptation of Iron Man bringing a fresh twist on the superhero role. In recent years, we have seen numerous film trilogies about super heroes, from the X-Men to Spiderman become box office successes.

Downey returns to form with a Money Spinner

Iron Man opens promisingly with Downey Jnr playing Tony Stark a weapons manufacturer on a visit to Afghanistan. He is chatting boisterously with American soldiers in the back of an armoured vehicle, while sipping on a fine whisky, a decadent contrast to the passing landscape of the bleak Afghan province of Kunar. Stark poses for photographs and does not to take life seriously even though he is responsible for inheriting an empire that builds weapons of apparently mass destruction. Portrayed as somewhat of a playboy, as seen in flashbacks whereby Stark goes from gambling at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas while missing his own awards ceremony to seducing a blonde reporter at his immense Malibu mansion. All the while, drinks in hand, he casually races to his private Californian airstrip to board a luxury jet en route to Afghanistan, where he is due to present the latest product from Stark industries, Jericho, a rocket launcher with magnificent destructive capacities.

The self-indulgent Tony Stark is soon captured by a militant group of rebels, living in the Afghan mountains, certainly suggestive of the Taliban. There he is forced to build another weapon for this guerilla group, but aided by a mysterious fellow prisoner, he builds an iron suit, which is powered by a flashy blue battery that keeps shrapnel from entering his heart. The film follows similar superhero plots whereby the hero returns to his native California after annihilating his captives and finds that his very newly acquired powers are being undermined by those closest to him.

Besides the inconsistencies in storyline, evident of a group of screenwriters marrying diverging plot points, Iron Man follows most superhero storylines, from Spiderman to the more recent Ghost Rider, always ultimately rescuing the female lead, in this case, Stark’s efficient assistant Pepper Pots played with a surprising subtlety by Gwyneth Paltrow. What was so attractive in this film was this standard plot being treated with a subverted and ironically mature undertone, given that the hero is a middle-aged millionaire who draws on his own emotional vulnerabilities to eventually fuel his physical transformation from careless warmonger to conscientious saviour. Iron Man, the super hero, almost is an anti-hero, defeating the villain and saving the distressed damsel, while still retaining his own personal insecurities.

Thus, Downey’s performance fits perfectly with this subversion of a traditional superhero, as he smirks and delights in a clearly comic role, with significantly relevant undertones; especially enhanced by the fact that Iron Man doesn’t actually possess any supernatural powers, his ironclad flying suit is entirely his own creation.

From Flushing Meadows to Monaco

Iron Man 2

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Whilst it banks on the originality of the first Iron Man, the sequel is every bit as quirky, brilliant and action-packed with characters and fantastic settings. Robert Downey Jnr and Mickey Rourke rock!!!

The Monaco Grand Prix Sequence is spectacular and so is the wonderfully ironic script by Justin Theroux and of course a solid performance by Robert Downey Jnr. Watch out for Scarlett Johansson’s great transformation scene at the end – slinky in a catsuit!!! No more demure Girl with a Pearl Earring! There is a wonderful supporting cast including Sam Rockwell and Don Cheadle. If viewers enjoyed Iron Man and loved the anti superhero antics, then Iron Man 2 will definitely not disappoint especially with the ever charismatic Robert Downey Jnr back in the lead role as flamboyant billionaire playboy and arms industrialist Tony Stark taking on Mickey Rourke’s aggressive and slightly unhinged villain Ivan Vanko.

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