October 01, 2016

Tag Archives: scarlett johansson

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” prepares for an epic big screen fight

Sort of quietly and without nearly the fanfare of some other properties, Marvel has seen their Captain America series of films become some of the most popular in their cinematic universe. With the release this week of Captain America: Civil War, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU) might very well have their biggest hit yet. High praise, I know, especially considering how well The Avengers did, but this seems to have a groundswell of support. From the newcomers joining the fray to seeing basically every hero go toe to toe, it’s an event film in the very sense of the word. For all the ways that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice seemed not to satisfy audiences/critics, this one could be picking up the slack. It looks like a slam dunk blockbuster is coming our way.
A quick refresher for you all who might not be completely in the know about this one. The film, which is the third in the Captain America franchise (now a trilogy after Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and the next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, picks up following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. In some ways, this is essentially a pseudo sequel to that and basically an Avengers movie in everything but name. When government regulation of superheroes is proposed in the aftermath of a tragedy and the previous destruction caused by various heroes, as well as dealings with Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), our protectors take up opposing sides of the law. On one end, opposing regulation, is Captain America (Chris Evans), while supporting the act is Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.). All of the Avengers and other heroes take up one side or the other, with newcomers including Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who have their own agendas. The movie is directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (who previously did Captain America: The Winter Soldier and will be doing the next Avengers sequel), the screenplay is by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (who are Winter Soldier vets too), while the cast, aside from the aforementioned big players, includes Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, and Daniel Brühl, among plenty of others. The Russo Brothers are obviously helming their second Captain America flick and have […]

Jon Favreau is going to have a huge hit on his hands with “The Jungle Book”

There’s no question that the animated feature The Jungle Book is an all time classic from Disney. It’s also one of many that the studio has now adapted into live action films. There was obviously some apprehension going in, but it appears to be one of the most well regarded to date, getting raves from my colleagues at advance screenings. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that the buzz suggests a huge success, not just because of previous love for The Jungle Book, but also because it’s a Jon Favreau movie and those are almost always big successes. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a big time filmmaker, but he certainly is. This new outing hits theaters over the weekend and will surely print another mint for the mouse.
The film is obviously a live action retelling of both the Disney classic and also an adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling book of the same name as well. We follow the man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) as he tries to avoid the clutches of tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), while being assisted by panther Bagheera the panther (voice of Ben Kingsley) and of course the bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Favreau directs here from a script by Justin Marks, while the voice work is pretty A-list. In addition to Elba, Kingsley, and Murray, we have the voices of Emjay Anthony, Giancarlo Esposito, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Garry Shandling, and Christopher Walken, among others. Sethi is the live action presence, but the animals voiced by celebrities is where this one is at, talent wise. Cinematography is by the underrated Bill Pope, while John Debney handles the score.

Favreau seems to have a special ability to make epic entertainment that appeals to both adults and children. Just look at the first Iron Man for evidence of how effortless he can make this universal entertainment seem. Elf is another example, showing why he was probably the perfect choice for The Jungle Book. Just as exciting to me is that this project, initially seeming like an odd choice for Favreau, now probably makes his stock as high in Hollywood as it has ever been. I suspect that he can more or less make anything that he pleases at this point, and that is thrilling to someone like myself. He’s attached to develop a sequel right now, which was a foregone conclusion on the […]

“Captain America: Civil War” dropped a top notch new Trailer

Yesterday morning, Marvel delivered a powerful new Trailer for their upcoming blockbuster sequel Captain America: Civil War. Almost a pseudo Avengers film, this impending epic sees the beloved Civil War comic storyline adapted for the screen, another milestone/seminal moment for superhero cinema and its fans. The debut of the new Spider-Man in this Trailer would be big enough on its own for a post today, but the whole thing is strong enough to warrant a slightly larger read on it all. So, that’s just what we’ll be doing right now. It’s time to start getting excited for Captain America: Civil War in a real big way. It could wind up being something special.
The film, the third in the Captain America franchise (after Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and the next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, picks up following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. When government regulation of superheroes is proposed in the aftermath of a tragedy, as well as dealings with Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), our protectors take up opposing sides. On one end, opposing regulation, is Captain America (Chris Evans), while supporting the act is Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.). All of the Avengers and other heroes take up one side or the other, with newcomers including Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland). The movie is directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, the screenplay is by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, while the cast, aside from the aforementioned players, includes Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Frank Grillo, William Hurt and Daniel Brühl, among others. The Russo Brothers are helming their second Captain America flick and have the next Avengers movie on their plate (a two parter, no less), so this is a big title for them, to say the least.
What has me so interested in this movie is how it’s potentially so many things at once. Not only is it our third Captain America installment, it’s as close to an extra Avengers film as we can possibly get, while hopefully restoring some goodwill after Avengers: Age of Ultron underwhelmed some folks. In addition, we’re seeing the introduction of two new major characters in Black Panther and Spider-Man, while really building full steam ahead towards the two part Avengers: Infinity War epic that will […]

The Coen Brothers are back with “Hail, Caesar!”

Just about every other year, more or less like clockwork, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen unleash another film on audiences across the world. Fans of their work will probably be delighted by Hail, Caesar!, which opens this weekend and really resembles some of the most overtly comedic work from the Coens. It’s got an A list cast and an Old Hollywood setting, which will make some folks assume this is a prestige picture. In reality though, this is more of a romp and an example of the filmmaking brothers just having a grand old time. It didn’t thrill me like it will thrill others, but I suspect this won’t be another big Oscar player of theirs, regardless.
The film is a look at the day in the life of a Hollywood fixer. Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) works at a big studio in the early 1950’s, making sure that all of the stars stay out of trouble, and more importantly…stay out of the papers. When top star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) goes missing, Eddie is given his toughest assignment yet. For the most part, this movie is largely plotless, checking in on the Baird situation from time to time, but by and large just following around Eddie as he interacts with stars like Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), starlets like DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson), and filmmakers like Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). Obviously, Joel and Ethan Coen direct, with the rest of the cast including Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, and many more. Behind the camera, the legend that is Roger Deakins does the cinematography.
What works for me here with Hail, Caesar! is the feel for what the movie industry used to be like. In many ways, this has the tone and feel of a number of other funny flicks from the Coen Brothers, so if you’re down with something like The Big Lebowski, I suspect this will work for you as well. Those aren’t my favorites, so I can be hit or miss with the brothers Coen, but that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying. Certain members of the cast, like Johansson and Tatum, steal the show too, so there’s that as well. It’s a mixed bag, but not without its charms.
Awards wise, I think this will have a hard road ahead, though one or two categories might be promising. Still, with a decent box office haul, I have no doubt […]

Oscar Isaac and Scarlett Johansson: Who’s most overdue for an Oscar nomination now?

Continuing to feed off of last week’s Academy Award nomination announcement (as well as yesterday’s piece on the snubs found within those nominations, in one or two cases), today I want to look at who happens to be most due a nod at this point. An Oscar nom is certainly no easy achievement, but you can usually look around at the actors and actresses who have never been nominated and find at least one missed opportunity on the part of the Academy. As such, today I’m again putting out a list of who deserves a nomination the most, updated since certain contenders like Jennifer Jason Leigh finally have their citation…

Here now are ten actors or actresses overdue for an Oscar nomination:
10. Zoe Kazan – Anyone who doesn’t consider Kazan to be overdue for a citation just isn’t paying attention. Look at The Exploding Girl or Ruby Sparks and you’ll see performances that were among the very best of their years. Kazan is as talented a writer as she is an actress though, so it seems only like a matter of time before Oscar finally takes notice of her.
9. Michael B. Jordan – Twice now Jordan has come close to getting voted in by the Academy. Fruitvale Station introduced him to them and this past year’s Creed almost won them over. Jordan is on a speeding train towards Oscar glory though, so I don’t think he has much to worry about. It’s just a shame it wasn’t this year, as I wrote about yesterday.
8. Kristen Stewart – Some might laugh at this notion, but Stewart has done some excellent work outside of the Twilight franchise. Simply pop in Adventureland, Clouds of Sils Maria, or On the Road and you’ll see what I mean. Stewart is a talented young actress, so while it should have happened for her already, it will at some point in the future…
7. Paul Dano – Another contender who was absolutely snubbed this year (again, he features in my article yesterday), Dano has come “this” close to nominations both for Love & Mercy as well as for There Will Be Blood. Factor in his work in Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks, and well…there’s just no excuse. He’s going to no doubt win an award one day, so the nomination is just the first step. His wait likely won’t be much longer.
6. Emily Blunt – Blunt is a […]

Ranking the films of Cameron Crowe

I’m a big fan of positivity, especially when it comes to the film industry, since it seems to be at a premium most of the time. Two weeks ago, filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s latest movie Aloha opened to rather poor reviews, some of which began to look back and degrade his canon on the whole. In an attempt to keep it positive, I wanted to look back on Crowe’s filmography and rank his work to date, especially since I’m one of the few who feel that he’s basically never had a true “bad” movie. Some of his films are better than the others, of course, but they all have value…
Here’s my ranking of the films from writer/director Cameron Crowe:
1. Almost Famous – Crowe’s masterpiece and one of the best films of the last 25 years (along with one of my five favorites of all time), this is basically a perfect piece of cinema. A passion project based on Crowe’s childhood, it’s just brilliant on every single level. Multiple scenes are forever engrained in my mind, and I know I’m not alone. As a bonus, this is one of the few films that only gets better when you see more of it, as the three hour “Untitled” extended edition proves.
2. Jerry Maguire – One of the more quotable movies ever, this is Crowe at his most crowd pleasing. Armed with Tom Cruise in perhaps his peak form, at least charisma wise, it’s impossible not to fall in love with this romantic dramedy. By the time you hear “You had me at hello”, the film already has you. It’s probably the outing of Crowe’s that I’ve revisited most, due to just how pleasing it is, on pretty much all levels.
3. Say Anything – A very good film on its own, it’s made even better by the now iconic scene of John Cusack holding a boombox over his head, to the tune of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”. Crowe was making his directorial debut here, after making a name for himself by writing the book and screenplay adaptation for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, so he was a work in progress. Still, this is an incredibly accomplished debut, full of hints that he was going to one day become the best in the business.
4. Elizabethtown – Here’s one that I love way more than almost anyone else. I have a soft spot in […]

Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” begins to roll out worldwide

All this week, we’ve seen Marvel slowly begin to allow reviews to trickle out about Avengers: Age of Ultron, in advance of the global release this weekend, followed by the U.S. next week. So far, the early word has been pretty solid, with some out and out raves and almost no outright detractors. After how big a smash across the board The Avengers was, seeing the sequel apparently continue the trend is a solid sight to behold. Marvel continues their perfect record and comic book fans get another top tier piece of entertainment to enjoy. The summer movie season is about to begin folks…
You’d basically have to live under a rock not to be fully aware what this film is about, but at the off chance you don’t, I’m more than willing to provide a quick primer. Continuing the Marvel Cinematic Universe and working not only as a sequel to The Avengers but also Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this flick sees the team of superheroes faced with a dastardly Artificial Intelligence named Ultron (voice of James Spader). As such, it’s up to Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemseworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), along with newcomers Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), to save the day. Hayley Atwell, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Colbie Smulders, and more return as well. Joss Whedon once again co-writes and directs. All told, it’s probably the largest scale comic book film to date.
What Avengers: Age of Ultron is doing now is setting up the next phase in Marvel’s giant plan, culminating in the next Avengers flick, which is a two parter. Sure, it’s a few years before Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 hits in May of 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 in May of 2019. Those films will basically result in a whole new direction for the company, or at least we assume. At the very least, they will mark Whedon turning over controls of the flagship Marvel franchise to veterans of Captain America: The Winter Solider and next year’s Captain America: Civil War, the Russo brothers, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. They’ll be the big shepherds from here on out, with Civil War upping the ante presumably from Age of Ultron and whetting the appetite for both parts of […]

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner – Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer

Marvel Studios presents ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ the epic follow-up to the biggest Super Hero movie of all time. When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.
Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and Chris Evans as Captain America. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
Written and directed by Joss Whedon and produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a., Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series ‘The Avengers,’ first published in 1963. Get set for an action-packed thrill ride when The Avengers return in Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ on May 1, 2015.
Cast:Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård with James Spader and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

The films that will sadly be shut out on Oscar nomination morning

In less than two weeks, the mystery is going to be solved in terms of who and what receive Academy Award nominations (with some mystery going away earlier today with the announcement of the Producers Guild of America nominations, but I’ll chime in on that tomorrow). At the same time, we’re also going to find out about the films and performances that are going to be snubbed for Oscar love. In some cases, movies are going to be shut out entirely. Most of the time, it’s more or less deservedly so, but their are always contenders that should have fared better in the awards season. Today, I wanted to shed some light on the flicks that almost assuredly are not going to be cited in any way, shape, or form, by members of the Academy. Sure, Oscar voters could surprise you, but I wouldn’t hold my breath…
Here now are ten films that are unfortunately set to be shut out when nominations are announced:
10. Tusk – No Kevin Smith film has ever competed at the Oscars (though rumor has it that Chasing Amy was the number six in Best Original Screenplay that year) and this horror-comedy won’t change that run, only in part due to mostly poor reviews (even if I dug it). At the same time though, Tusk features old school monster movie makeup and a rubber suit costume that I would have loved the Academy to have noticed/recognized. It won’t happen, but I’d do backflips if a Best Costume Design nomination came through.
9. Draft Day – A theme you’ll see a few times here in this column today is unfairly maligned films, with this sports drama being another prime example. It’s got a good enough script to have at least competed in Best Original Screenplay, though that field is obviously stacked. Ivan Reitman’s flick was unjustly ignored, something his son can also sympathize with this year as well (more on that below). It deserved a better fate than it received, plain and simple.
8. Edge of Tomorrow – Now, there’s a small chance that a tech nomination could come through for this Tom Cruise vehicle, but in a fairer world it would be a lock for a Best Film Editing nomination. Doug Limon’s movie didn’t do quite the business most expected it to, but it was a critical favorite and one of the more satisfying blockbusters of 2014. It might […]

The best films and performances of 2014

We’ve come to the end of the line, ladies and gentlemen. 2014 is about to be put into the books, with 2015 upon us in mere few hours. To close out the year, I wanted to pile on to the seemingly never ending group of articles filled with Top Ten lists and the like. I don’t want it to just be my list though, so below you’ll see that, but also my thoughts on the year as a whole, along with my picks for the best performances of the year as well a few specific category awards. Basically, this would reflect sort of what my Oscar ballot would look like in the major categories, though I’ll perhaps save that full look at a personal ballot for a more specific piece when voting comes to an end in a few weeks. We’ll see. Anyway, time to get this show on the road!
The cinematic year that was 2014 has been considered by some to be a real high water mark of late, while others felt that it was a severe let down. Me? I’m stuck in the middle. I had less films that I feel completely in love with than usual, but at the same time I had more films overall that I liked than in many of the prior years. As such, the movies sort of feel on par with the last few years to me. The very best of 2014 was incredible to me, featuring a few modern classics, so I can hardly call it a down year. Perhaps it was just that a handful of the most praised titles were ones that I didn’t go as nuts over, so that contributes to an odd feeling about 2014? Whatever the case, there were plenty of flicks that I adored, despised, and just plain scratched my head over. That makes for a full meal of a film year, so I can’t complain. That’s the year in a nutshell to me though…more of the same.
Obviously, there are a ton of things to look forward to in 2015, so perhaps at this time next year we’ll all be remarking about how much better of a cinematic slate it was, but at the same time, there’s always the chance of a big let down. In that case, we’d be reminiscing about the halcyon days of now. It’s all a shot in the dark when […]

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