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Posts Tagged ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER – Michael Giacchino and Nami Melumad

July 15, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s interesting to see how the Marvel super-hero character Thor has changed over the years. When he first appeared in the titular Thor film in 2011 he was a mostly serious character, albeit with a ‘fish out of water’ quality that allowed actor Chris Hemsworth to engage in some light comedy; however, over the course of the subsequent Thor sequels, as well as his appearances in other Avengers-related films, he now has essentially become a parody of himself, a six foot man child with more muscles than brain cells. This has become especially apparent since Kiwi director Taika Waititi took over the franchise; the humor in the third Thor film, Ragnarok, was bordering on the sophomoric, and now in this fourth film Thor: Love and Thunder, the whole thing has hit an all-time low. The plot of this film involves Thor and his compatriots going up against Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale, who appears to have come in from a much scarier and more serious movie), an interstellar being with a crusade to kill all gods; the twist comes by way of the fact that one of Thor’s compatriots on the adventure is his former girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who has gained super-hero powers and become ‘the Mighty Thor’ by wielding the reconstructed remnants of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. The film co-stars Tessa Thompson, Waititi himself, and Russell Crowe as Zeus, while also featuring cameos from Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, and other members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Read more…

DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS – Danny Elfman

May 10, 2022 5 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.

Twenty years after having essentially kicked off what is now the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the original Tobey Maguire Spider-Man (yes, it’s MCU canon now), director Sam Raimi has come full circle with the 28th entry in this never-ending series of films: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s a visually mind-boggling, conceptually brain-melting, completely bonkers super-hero fantasy action extravaganza, and is the second film to focus on Dr Stephen Strange, the former brilliant neurosurgeon who, following the events of the first film, has become a master of magical and mystic arts, and an ally to super-heroes across multiple subsequent Avengers and Spider-Man films. Multiverse of Madness is essentially a sequel to both the original Doctor Strange AND Spider-Man: No Way Home, but is also critically linked with the TV series WandaVision, to such an extent that anyone with little to no familiarity with any of these predecessors will have no idea what’s going on. Read more…

MOON KNIGHT – Hesham Nazih

May 6, 2022 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest super-hero to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Moon Knight, is also the first one to be introduced via a Disney+ television series. Whereas this show’s small screen predecessors – WandaVision, Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Hawkeye – all had their roots and main characters in the big screen film franchise, Moon Knight is a brand new story featuring original characters, who are intended to move into the main MCU as the films progress. The show is a wonderful combination of action, drama, comedy, and fantasy, which stars Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant, a mild-mannered docent at the British Museum in London, whose life is turned upside-down when he realizes that he has a form of dissociative identity disorder, and actually shares his body with an American former mercenary named Marc Spector; even more amazingly, Marc is also the earthly avatar of the ancient Egyptian god Khonshu, and has the power to transform into the super hero Moon Knight in order to do Khonshu’s bidding. Before long, Steven/Marc are swept up in a grand adventure involving a religious cult leader who wants to purge the world of sinners, and a search for a mysterious artifact deep within the pyramids of Giza, while also conducting a deep exploration of the emotional trauma and latent mental illness that defines Marc and Steven’s relationship. Read more…

SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME – Michael Giacchino

December 24, 2021 2 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.

I feel like I spend an unusually inordinate amount of time talking about the ends of trilogies in musical terms. Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit scores, John Powell’s How to Train Your Dragon, John Williams’s Star Wars sequels, the various Avengers movies that lead into Infinity War and Endgame, and so on and so on. There’s a nice symmetrical quality to trilogies which allow for development and dramatic catharsis, and this is certainly the case with Spider-Man: No Way Home, the third film in director Jon Watts’s Spider-Man trilogy, which is itself a part of the enormous Marvel Cinematic Universe that now comprises 27 films and half a dozen or more live-action TV series. The film picks up almost exactly where the last film, 2019’s Far From Home, ended, with Spider-Man’s secret identity being revealed in the aftermath of his battle with the super-villain Mysterio. Now faced with being a public pariah, Peter decides that it would be better if he could find a way to change things – so he visits his old Avengers comrade Dr Stephen Strange, and convinces him to cast a spell that will make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man… but when the spell is cast it has some unexpected unintended consequences. Read more…

ETERNALS – Ramin Djawadi

November 12, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand and expand, it’s inevitable that the films will begin to introduce characters that are unfamiliar to mainstream cinema goers not as well-versed in comic book lore. With them having mostly exhausted Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and much of the rest of their core superhero complement, Marvel are now turning to a new group to fill the void: the Eternals. Despite me having never heard of them before now, they actually first debuted in print in 1976, and are essentially an alien race of immortal beings sent to Earth by their creators, the god-like Celestials, to protect humanity from a race of creatures known as Deviants, as well as to generally aid and guide human development. Over the course of thousands of years the Eternals eventually fought and defeated all of the Deviants, and having done so retired into anonymity; they were instructed to observe and gently guide the population from afar, but never become directly involved in human affairs – which is why they did not intervene during Thanos’s fight with the Avengers. However the ‘snap,’ which brought back the population previously destroyed by Thanos in the Infinity War, also apparently brought Deviants back to Earth, which forces the Eternals to emerge, re-form, and combat them once more. The film is directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloe Zhao, and stars an ensemble cast featuring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie, among others. 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 2 comments

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…