Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Film Review

Rating 12
Length 2h04
Release 29.7.2011
Director Joe Johnson
About During World War II, Steve Rogers decides to volunteer in an experiment that transforms his weak body. He must now battle a secret Nazi organisation headed by Johann Schmidt to defend his nation.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix (until 14th August)

The Good

  • This film has a dream cast; Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell and Stanley Tucci to name but a few of the heavy hitters in this origin story.
  • At the heart of this film is the relationships. From the mentor, mentee to the best friends and the romantic. This is a film that strikes just the right balance.
  • The wonderful Neal McDonough always makes a film that little bit better. Add with him a team of soldiers that include Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes and you have an incredible middle act.

The Bad

  • I’m not a fan of Red Skull and the face. I think I perhaps would have preferred a later reveal. I often think this way when films have prominent actors hidden behind masks like this.

The Ugly

  • It’s has a very clunky first half as we’re introduced to all of the characters. Part of the issue is the back and forth between characters until the audience know who is involved.

Final Thoughts

One of the best origin stories out there on film and part of that is due to Chris Evans’ performance.

Thor (2011) Review

Rating 12
Length 1h55
Release 27.4.2011
Director Kenneth Branagh
About Thor is exiled by his father, Odin, the King of Asgard, to the Earth to live among mortals. When he lands on Earth, his trusted weapon Mjolnir is discovered and captured by S.H.I.E.L.D.
Moon: Full moon behind clouds as Jane and Thor talk outside.
Where to Watch: Disney+

The Good

  • The wonderful thing about this outing, or origin, of Thor is the Shakespearian richness of it all. There’s just something about Kings and heirs, betrayal and madness that lends itself to the tone of The Bard. If there was ever going to be a director that could accomplish this, it’s Kenneth Branagh. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and perhaps it hasn’t aged as well for how it stands out from the others, but I still have a soft spot for what Branagh brought to the MCU.
  • As with most of the Marvel projects, this is well cast. Doubly so when you consider your protagonist and antagonist. Both up and coming actors and relative risks. Both hold their own and make this film the joy that it is to watch. We know both are now capable of the humour too, from their long standing returns to the universe, however I’m glad we didn’t get their full range here. The story would not have fit the journey both Thor and Loki needed to go on.
  • This film’s strength is the emotional scenes. In particular those that contain whatever combination of Thor, Odin and Loki Branagh chooses to give us. Without the gravitas and the weight behind those words, this film could have been ridiculous.
  • Two of my favourite Marvel characters appear in this film: Agent Coulson and Erik Selvig. Both very much human, thrown into all of this and handling it all very well. The thanks obviously need to go to the men behind those characters, Clark Gregg and Stellan Skarsgard respectively. Their interaction together when Selvig goes to collect Thor is genius.

The Bad

  • Some of the camera angles made me a little motion sick this time. The asymmetry works on a big screen, but my eyes didn’t like it so much when at home.
  • I’m not sure I liked how the film opened. The sort of cold open is usually saved for episodes of tv shows once characters are established, so meeting Jane, Selvig and Darcy briefly to almost flash back. It didn’t work for me the first time I saw it and it never gets any better the more times I watch.

The Unworthy

  • I am not so happy with how Clint Barton aka Hawkeye is introduced. Yes, I’m sure comic book loyalists would have got it straight away. However, you have to play to your whole audience. I’m not talking about adding much, but I don’t even recall his name even being mentioned.
  • Why are Lady Sif and Darcy so unworthy?! Darcy needs her show with ya man from Ant-Man and give Sif everything! It was amazing seeing her in Loki, but we need MORE. I don’t know what it was about Phase 1, but our female characters get built up so we want more. But then nothing happens.

Final Thoughts

A comic book origin story of Shakespearean magnitude. Must admit this was the film in my marathon two years ago that stopped me watching any more. I really didn’t enjoy it and found it a slog. This time though, I found it charming and rich with Easter eggs.

The Big Year (2011) Film Review

Rating PG
Length 1h40
Release 2.12.2011
Director David Frankel
About Three avid bird-watchers pursue the winner’s title to achieve the world record of spotting the highest number of birds during the Big Year event as the title holds a special meaning for each one.
Moon: full moon spotting just before the closing of the film
Where to Watch: Disney+ (Star)

The Good

  • It is a charming film, from start to finish. For me, it’s on par with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014) and the wonderful Simon Birch (1998).
  • It’s so hard to describe, but there’s a sincerity in this film that I wasn’t expecting. This film surprised me, and that does not happen very often. I think part of that is having three men well known for their comedy and stripping that away while also putting the viewer in a position of uncertainty.
  • The biggest win this film has for me, is how you have the plot revolve around a competition, yet the plot does not go down the route of having them sabotage each other. I must admit, I put it on expecting Bride Wars (2009) of the birding world. Instead, what we get is a healthy competition, exploration of dreams, deconstruction and reconstruction of relationships and an uplifting feeling.
  • The music, while cheesy, is perfect. So many songs about birds; who knew? It wasn’t overwhelming; it fit the storytelling.
  • The cast in this film is incredible. You have the main three; Wilson, Martin and Black. I cannot tell you how much I loved these three together. Each had their moment to shine and they are the perfect example of an ensemble. However, it doesn’t stop there, the supporting cast is full to bursting with people that will have you reaching for IMDB.

The Bad

  • This is a very personal thing, but I could have done with less Rosamund Pike. it’s not that I don’t like her, I just don’t like her playing an American. Her accent is okay, but because I know she’s English, my ears register it as a cringe-worthy fake.
  • On a similar note, I find it a travesty that Anjelica Huston and Jim Parsons were not used more.
  • There was a visual cue to any flash-backs that occurred early in the film, however it was discarded near the hour mark. This was a shame , as it was used so little that it felt less like an artistic choice and more of an error in filming.

The Ugly

  • There will be tears for those who leak at pulled heartstrings. Quite a few points in each of the three men’s lives will most certainly have a lump in the throat, if not a hand reaching for the tissues.

Final Thoughts

This is a lazy Sunday afternoon film that will leave your heart warm, your eyes wet and a smile on your face.

Scre4m (2011)

Rating 15
Length 1h 51
Release 15.4.2011
Director Wes Craven
About At the end of her book tour, Sidney visits her home town after ten long years. As she catches up with old friends, her return not only brings back memories but also beckons the return of Ghostface.

The Good

  • Emma Roberts has that ability to be believable in many forms. Perhaps that wasn’t as true back in 2011, but now that she has a chocked full CV, you can see that she’s versatile and creative. That final act is where she truly shines. In fact, its the final act that makes this film, almost, bearable.
  • Totally forgot Hayden Panettiere was in this movie and she was delightful. She pathed the way for the tv series character Audrey. The idea that there was a trilogy in which Panettiere continued to star sounds amazing and it is just a shame this bombed.
  • I love the concept they bring to the film about technology. The use of it, the commentary on it. Brilliant. Its execution in the plot is not fully invested so it feels more like lip service, outside of a few scenes.

The Bad

  • I still don’t buy Sidney Prescott as an actress. I always find that a bizarre conclusion, but she’s just too… internal and shy.
  • Mary McDonnell as Kate Roberts irks me. She seems to be in a completely different movie to everyone else.
  • How wasted was Adam Brody?! I kind of get the feeling he was cast when his character had a bigger role. I remember it being announced he was going to be in the film and then being so disappointed.
  • Those fake openings were bordering on Scary Movie territory. I sort of see what it was trying to achieve, but it didn’t quite get over the lampooning the lampoon to belong in this movie.

The Ugly

  • The film hasn’t aged well for me and suffers a similar fate to Ghostbusters Answer the Call (2016). It relies too much on the past and almost tries to belittle it in order to bring in a new audience.
    It’s not a ‘pass the torch’, so the focus upon the teens in Woodsboro feels a little contrived and shallow. Yet, its not really a film about the original characters either; we get too little about what they’ve been doing for that to be the case.
  • The bigger issue with this film is that it unbalances a trilogy and lacks enough to bring it into the franchise to make a quadrilogy.

Final Thoughts

Each time I rewatch this film, I kind of hope that it’s better than it actually is. Every time I end up disappointed and promising myself I won’t waste any more time watching it again.
My advice is to stick to the trilogy, or if you want to branch out, check out the tv series.

Christmas Movie Advent- Arthur Christmas (2011)

“Santa, we know we shouldn’t believe rumours, but we do.”

Watching on Netflix
Length: 1Hr 37

Santa’s clumsy son Arthur sets out on a mission with St. Nick’s father to give out a present they misplaced to a young girl in less than 2 hours.

The Good

What an adorable addition to the Christmas movie fleet. With an all-star voice cast bringing the Santa family to life, you can’t help but feeling charmed and warmed by the story of the youngest Santa, who doesn’t quite fit the traditional expectations.

Arthur is voiced by James McAvoy and is passionate, clumsy and everything you want in the Christmas spirit. The character reminds me of the comedian Kieran Hodgson and he’d made a perfect live action counterpart.

The story brings together the old and the new. Tradition and technology are at the heart of the story that truly is about bringing joy and truly caring. It’s a message that can sometimes get lost. Evie, the traditional sleigh and Bill Nighey’s Grandsanta prove that there’s sometimes fault in relying in new routines.

There’s so many wonderful touches in this film; from the user manual for the S1, the batteries inside the toy and next in line santa’s Christmas camo uniform. And on that note, Steve is a welcome addition to the Santa role call. A character that is slightly removed from the true message of Christmas has been given the perfect actor to voice it. Hugh Laurie’s distinctive tones fit well among a high hitter family that also includes Broadbent. It also took a curious turn by not making Steve an outright antagonist. So often his character would be so hell bent on gaining the power that he would not be redeemable (2011’s Hop comes to mind). Thankfully, this feel allows the character to realise his strengths and accept there’s someone else to embrace his weakness’.

The Bad & Ugly

Clutching at straws here brings me to the fact that this charming beauty of a film is lacking a sequel. I saw clutching at straws because I’m not certain a sequel is needed. This was a self contained, charming film and the only thing that has me wanting a sequel is the fact that its so good that I’m quite curious to see what Sarah Smith and Peter Baynham could offer us again.

That’s all folks

That’s it for today’s advent calendar. See you tomorrow when Bill Nighey and Martin Freeman will be popping back into the festive countdown.

Han x