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Posts Tagged ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’

VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE – Marco Beltrami

October 19, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A slightly belated sequel to the fun but curiously overlooked original, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the black sheep of the Marvel Cinematic Universe family – although this is likely to be change as the characters are absorbed into the mainstream MCU going forward. The film picks up the story immediately after the events of the first film, and sees San Francisco journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) living his new life in the company of the wisecracking brain-munching alien symbiote Venom, who now shares Eddie’s body – and occasionally takes over control of it, giving Eddie super-human powers. The plot of the film revolves around Eddie’s relationship with the incarcerated serial killer Cletus Kasady, played by Woody Harrelson, who appeared in the first film’s post-credits scene. After some exposition backstory involving Kasady’s adolescence in a home for unwanted children, and his relationship with Frances (Naomi Harris) – a young girl who has the power to generate a ‘sonic scream’ – the main crux of the story involves Kasady being infected by a second symbiote, named Carnage, breaking out of prison during his execution, and rampaging across the city – with only Eddie and Venom able to stop him. The film co-stars Michelle Williams and Stephen Graham, and is directed by actor and motion capture pioneer Andy Serkis. Read more…

SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS – Joel P. West

September 7, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have now been 25 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s getting to the point where they are making films about superheroes that are incredibly niche, from way deep down in comic book lore. Such is the case with their latest film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. The film stars Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu as the eponymous Shang-Chi; Shang is the son of Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), a fearsome warrior who has been granted immortality due to his possession of the legendary Ten Rings, and now controls a powerful army of assassins and fighters who have been loyal to him for centuries. However, Shang has been estranged from his father for years, and now lives now an intentionally uneventful life in San Francisco’s Chinatown, working as a parking valet, and hanging out with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). Everything changes for Shang when his father’s minions come looking for him, and he is reluctantly drawn back into his old life when he learns that his father is searching for the gateway to the mythical realm of Ta Lo – and that, if he finds it, the entire Earth could be in jeopardy. Read more…

BLACK WIDOW – Lorne Balfe

July 13, 2021 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

After what feels like an eternity, the fourth phase of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has finally begun with Black Widow. Chronologically it’s actually somewhere around 20th in the series – it takes place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War – and examines the backstory of the superhero Natasha Romanov, and looks at what she was up to in that intervening period. Scarlett Johansson returns to play the titular character for the ninth time, and sees her getting involved in a globe-trotting adventure as she reconnects with her adopted sister Yelena, and her “parents” Melina and Alexei – the latter of whom is a super soldier known as Red Guardian, the Soviet Union’s equivalent of Captain America. The mission involves Natasha returning to the ‘Red Room,’ the shadowy organization which conducted the training that turned her into a KGB assassin, and confronting those responsible. The film co-stars Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, and Ray Winstone, and is directed by Cate Shortland. Read more…

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME – Michael Giacchino

July 17, 2019 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

With Avengers Endgame having smashed almost every box office record in existence, it was always going to be difficult for Marvel to build on that movie’s enormous success. The two-part Avengers finale was one of those rare things that is both a commercial and cultural touchstone; it also marked the end of the ‘Third Phase’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which the existential threat of Thanos was finally eliminated, and the circle of movies that began with Iron Man in 2008 ended with Iron Man’s death. Spider-Man: Far From Home, despite being officially the last part of Phase III and the 23rd Marvel film overall, is actually something of a coda, acting both as a rumination on the events of Endgame and as a bridge to the Phase IV series which is scheduled to begin in 2020; it also seems to have successfully maintained the interest that peaked with Avengers, enjoying huge box office takings and good critical reviews. The film is set 8 months after Endgame and again stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man; he is still coming to terms with Tony Stark’s death and longs just to be a normal teenager again. As such, he agrees to go on a trip to Europe with his high school classmates, including his potential girlfriend MJ (Zendaya); unfortunately, Peter can’t escape from his responsibilities even there, and is called upon by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to assist a multi-dimensional warrior named Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) in saving the world from creatures that wreak havoc by controlling the power of the four elements. The film is directed by Jon Watts and has an original score by Michael Giacchino. Read more…

AVENGERS: ENDGAME – Alan Silvestri

April 30, 2019 8 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE FILM, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER WAITING UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE DONE SO TO READ IT.

When Marvel and Paramount Pictures made and released the movie Iron Man in the spring of 2008, I doubt anyone involved had any inkling of what would occur over the course of the next 11 years. To put it bluntly, Marvel and its controlling executive Kevin Feige revolutionized the movies, not only in terms of technical advancement, but in how movies are made and released. Over the course of the next decade the Marvel Cinematic Universe expanded into an interlocking series of 22 movies, most of which reference back to one another, and which follow a group of super-heroes as they defend the Earth from various threats, foreign, domestic, and inter-galactic. There have been hundreds of articles written about what this has done to the very nature of cinema, how potential ‘expanded universes’ are now designed into the development of every new franchise, and whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m not going to go into this here – but I will say this: I doubt I will ever see a storytelling effort more ambitious than this in my lifetime. The combined Marvel movies have grossed more than $18 billion worldwide, and this final one – Avengers: Endgame – looks poised to be the biggest of them all. Read more…

CAPTAIN MARVEL – Pinar Toprak

March 12, 2019 5 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Captain Marvel is being touted as a game-changing film in a number of important ways. As the 21st official entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of films that began with Iron Man in 2008, it’s the first to be led by a female protagonist, and the first to have a female director, with Anna Boden co-directing alongside Ryan Fleck. In an era where the promotion of woman-centric films and female filmmakers has been such a major issue in Hollywood this is encouraging, but it’s also sobering that this is such news, by way of the fact that this hasn’t been done before. Assuming that Captain Marvel is the gigantic box office hit that many expect it to be, going forward one would hope that male and female filmmakers are given the same opportunities to succeed as each other, in an environment where talent and creativity are more important than gender, and where female protagonists in films are just part of the norm and not rare events that need to be singled out for special praise. Read more…

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Alan Silvestri

May 18, 2018 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE FILM, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER WAITING UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE DONE SO TO READ IT.

Avengers: Infinity War is, essentially, the culmination of a 10-year project overseen by producer Kevin Feige, the likes of which had never been attempted before in the history of cinema. Of course there have been long-running franchises before – Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings – but the development and growth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is quite something to behold: it’s a series of 19 theatrical movies and 10 related TV shows, all of which feature the origin stories and subsequent adventures of a vast array of super heroes who come together periodically to face down an array of threats which jeopardize the future of the Earth and, in some cases, the entire galaxy. Each individual story is planned to fit within a specific timeline charting the development of each character, they all feature interlocking plot strands and cross-references, and they have all been leading to this film. Read more…

BLACK PANTHER – Ludwig Göransson

February 20, 2018 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The utter dominance of comic book action movies at the American box office continues with the success of Black Panther, the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s the origin story of a character who appeared for the first time in Captain America: Civil War in 2016, and explores the history of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, which is the most technologically advanced civilization on Earth thanks to its unlimited supplies of the metal vibranium, but pretends to be a poor third world country to hide its power. Chadwick Boseman plays T’Challa, the new King of Wakanda, who takes up the mantle of the Black Panther after his father’s death in Captain America: Civil War; returning home to begin leading his country, T’Challa finds himself facing a threat in the shape of Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a mercenary with ties to Wakanda, whose actions send the entire country into a civil war of its own. The film co-stars Lupita Nyongo, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown, and Andy Serkis, and is directed by Ryan Coogler. Read more…

THOR RAGNAROK – Mark Mothersbaugh

November 3, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Thor Ragnarok is, quite astonishingly, the seventeenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the fifth in Marvel’s Phase 3 series, and the third film focusing on the character Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. Chris Hemsworth returns to the title role, and in this installment finds himself having to escape from the clutches of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), the ruler of the planet Sakaar, who has enslaved Thor, forcing him to compete in a series of gladiatorial games. Meanwhile, the city of Asgard has been taken over by Hela the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett), Thor’s long-exiled sister, whose merciless rule is threatening to bring about the prophesized ‘ragnarok’ – the destruction of Asgard and the death of the Gods. The film co-stars Tom Hiddlestone, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins, and is directed by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi. Read more…

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING – Michael Giacchino

July 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been just fifteen years since Hollywood released its first big-screen movie about the popular comic book super hero Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire took the web-slinger through his first three iterations before the story was ‘re-booted’ and the Spidey suit was passed on to Andrew Garfield for The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. He only lasted for two movies as now, building from his cameo appearance in Captain America: Civil War, the character has now been re-booted for a second time in order to facilitate his full introduction into the Avengers universe. The new Peter Parker/Spider-Man is played by English actor Tom Holland, and the film is another “origin story” of sorts, in which Parker tries to prove his worth to the de-facto leader of the Avengers, Tony Stark/Iron Man, by battling with super-villain Adrian Toomes/Vulture, while simultaneously dealing with the usual high school issues faced by a 15-year-old kid. The film co-stars Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., and Marisa Tomei, and is directed by Jon Watts. Read more…

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 – Tyler Bates

May 9, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in which writer/director James Gunn blends epic space action and special effects with broad comedy and a whole host of unresolved daddy issues. In the aftermath of the events of the first film, the Guardians – Star Lord Peter Quinn (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and the newly-sprouted Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) – are now working as heroes for hire, saving planets for a price. Unfortunately for the Guardians, the aftermath of their most recent job results in them running from the haughty and arrogant High Priestess of the Sovereigns (Elizabeth Debicki), space pirate Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker), and Gamora’s vengeful sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), all of whom have different reasons for wanting to find the Guardians. Unexpectedly, the Guardians receive help from an omnipotent and powerful creature named Ego (Kurt Russell), who claims to be Quinn’s father… Read more…

DOCTOR STRANGE – Michael Giacchino

November 11, 2016 4 comments

doctorstrangeOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Doctor Strange is the fourteenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of super-hero films that includes the Iron Man, Captain America, and Avengers franchises, and is the first to depict the origin story of a completely new character since Ant-Man last year. Directed by Scott Derrickson, it stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, a brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon, whose life is shattered when he severely damages both his hands in a car accident. Seeking new and experimental procedures so that he can fix his hands and resume his career, Strange eventually finds his way to Nepal where he meets Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a student of the so-called Ancient One (Tilda Swinton); however, rather than simply fix his physical injuries, the Ancient One sees further potential in Strange, and begins to train him in various mystical arts which allow him to enter the astral plane, conjure objects out of pure energy, manipulate reality, and even bend time. Eventually, Strange’s proficiency in these new abilities bring him into conflict with Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former student of the Ancient One, who now seeks to use his powers in the service of evil. Read more…

ANT-MAN – Christophe Beck

July 30, 2015 2 comments

ant-manOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

A wholly unlikely new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man is the latest super hero film to hit the silver screen. Originally created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby for the comic ‘Tales to Astonish’ in 1962, this first big-screen adventure for the character focuses on cat burglar Scott Foley, whose efforts to put aside his life of crime are stymied by his inability to hold down a regular job, jeopardizing his relationship with his daughter Cassie. Talked into committing “one last job” by his former cellmate Luis, Scott breaks into a house to steal a safe, unaware that the house belongs to scientist and inventor Hank Pym, who has created a suit which will shrink the wearer down to the size of an ant, while simultaneously giving him super-human powers. Unbeknownst to Scott, Pym – who became the original Ant-Man in 1963 – has manipulated events so that he can convince Scott to become a new Ant-Man, and help him retrieve the shrinking technology from his former protégé, the ruthless Darren Cross, who has stolen it, and intends to it sell to agents of Hydra. The film is directed by Peyton Reed, stars Paul Rudd as Foley, Michael Douglas as Pym, Corey Stoll as Cross, and Evangeline Lilly as Pym’s daughter Hope Van Dyne, and has an original score by Christophe Beck. Read more…

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON – Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman

May 5, 2015 7 comments

avengersageofultronOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Avengers: Age of Ultron, the eleventh film in the series since the first Iron Man film in 2008, and the second film featuring all the main characters after the first Avengers movie in 2012. Directed by Joss Whedon, the film sees the six heroes – Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) – teaming up to take on Ultron (James Spader), a sentient robot created as part of an Earth defense system by Stark, which achieves consciousness and decides that the only way to save the Earth is to eradicate humanity. It’s a visual extravaganza, filled with spectacular special effects, complicated action sequences, and plenty of witty banter between the protagonists, as well as a host of cameos from earlier Marvel films, and the introduction of several new characters which will play larger roles in future movies. Read more…

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – Tyler Bates

August 5, 2014 12 comments

guardiansofthegalaxy-scoreOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I have waited for 15 years, ever since I heard his first major score for the 1999 film Rated X, to type the following sentence: finally, after all these years, here is a Tyler Bates score I enjoy quite a lot. I have made no secret of the fact that I have found the vast majority of Bates’s work over the past decade pretty underwhelming. Ignoring the controversy surrounding his work on 300, scores like The Day the Earth Stood Still, Watchmen, and Conan the Barbarian had the conceptual and thematic potential to inspire truly terrific music, but ended up being disappointments of the highest order. Guardians of the Galaxy, thankfully, is a significant step forward. While still lagging behind the upper echelons of the film scoring world, and despite still suffering from a curious lack of individual personality, it is nevertheless the best score of Bates’s career to date by a country mile, making use of a big orchestra, a big choir, electronics, and some rock and 1980s pop elements, all brought together under the banner of a rousing central theme. Read more…