Tag: Scarlett Johansson

Hail, Caesar!

by on Feb.19, 2017, under Movie Reviews

hail caesarHail, Caesar! is the latest offering from the Coen Brothers who brought us classics like No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo and The Big Lebowski. The film is set in the 50s during the golden age of Hollywood and centers around a “fixer” (which is kind of another name for producer these days) who is trying to keep a studio together while dealing with erratic talent, a kidnapping, and a plot by some disgruntled writers.

The film itself is fun enough but doesn’t quite capture the magic of some of their other releases. In other words, for a Coen film, it’s kinda average which makes it a decent regular film by conventional standards but not a home run. The story itself is ok, with some interesting nods to the paranoia of the entertainment industry at that time as well as to the eccentric behavior that talent is often associated with. However, the dialog and action are not super compelling or exciting but rather run-of-the-mill. There are the occasional unexpected elements here and there but nothing as captivating or surreal as The Big Lebowski. And quite frankly, the ending is sudden and boring.

The actors are fun to watch, George Clooney shows some range, especially when he’s getting pushed around by Josh Brolin. A couple other pleasant surprises include Tilda Swinton playing the smarmy twin writers modeled after Dear Abby / Ann Landers and Channing Tatum showing off his song and dance skills. The film has a helluva lineup featuring Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, and Alden Ehrenreich.

If you’re a Coen fan, you should probably give this a whirl and see what you think. If you’re not familiar with their work, don’t start with this one, there are better offerings from the Coens.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Lucy

by on Aug.14, 2016, under Movie Reviews

lucyScarlett Johansson plays the title character who finds herself in a wrong-place-wrong-time kind of scenario when she ends up as a drug mule for a gangster. The twist comes in when the container containing the drug in her system bursts and Lucy begins to absorb the drug which is designed to be a new form of meth or something similar. Said drug stimulates areas in Lucy’s brain that have never been used before by anyone.

In some ways, the film reminds me of The Matrix; not in some rip-offey way, but more in terms of feel and towards the end, in execution as well. The script is well written and feels fresh with an interesting resolution. The dialog and development of the characters flows nicely with Lucy’s arc being entertaining to watch.

Johansson turns in a strong performance showing some range early on from her vulnerable beginnings to her powerful end. Alongside her are Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked, Analeigh Tipton, and Julian Rhind-Tutt all of whom bring their substantial skills to the table. Luc Besson wrote and directed.

Overall, the film kept my attention, made me wonder where it was going at times and looked great visually too.

A sci-fi thriller with an intelligent twist, Lucy’s worth checking out.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Captain America: Civil War

by on May.22, 2016, under Movie Reviews

captain america civil warThis is the film that Batman v. Superman should have been. The contrast in terms of quality and organization is astounding by comparison when looking at the Marvel Universe, which is extremely well thought out and organized, against the discordant mess that is DC’s world. Captain America: Civil War is the film to see if you want to see a serious hero fight with a highly entertaining story…

The writing is fantastic. There’s political intrigue, some great character development and arcs, as well as other topical subjects like freedom and the cost of it. The main basis for the conflict between the heroes is an accord they’re asked to sign where they will need to answer to a special UN council that will decide if they are needed or not. Unfortunately for our heroes, there’s been a bit too much collateral damage as a result of their confrontations trying to save the world from certain doom. Overall, the story is compelling and interesting to follow without being muddied up, it has some unexpected twists here and there and resolves itself in a way that is familiar but a little surprising too. I’ll let the story speak for itself but suffice it to say, it’s a great script and is expertly executed.

Action-wise the film is going to grab your attention right away with The Avengers on a mission that gets them in trouble when things go awry with one of Cap’s arch enemies, Crossbones. The film is packed with action but not constantly and not in a gratuitous way, all the sequences moved the film forward nicely. The action sequences themselves actually SHOW you the action (cough, cough Zach Snyder and your bullshit shaky cam). The clash between Team Iron Man and Team Captain America is super entertaining! It was great to see them all tangling and seeing how they combat each other. One of my favorites is Ant Man penetrating Iron Man’s armor to dismantle him from the inside out, fun stuff! The action is peppered throughout the film that helps pace it nicely with the slower moments giving the audience a nice ebb and flow through the excitement and intrigue.

The introduction of new characters was also really nice to see. Marvel is gearing up for the next wave of heroes and of course retiring some along the way. Among the newer lineup of heroes in the film is Black Panther, Ant Man, and the introduction of the new Spider-Man! Spider-Man’s inclusion in here is a blast! Tom Holland does a great job as the webslinger and the way he’s written in here was one of the best moments of the film. He gets in on the fight too and goes up against Captain America and his brother Bucky.

Speaking of the actors, the powerhouse lineup in the film does not fail to deliver! Great performances all around with some profound emotional moments delivered by Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bethany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, and Emily VanCamp. Overall an excellent cast that worked well under the direction of Anthony and Joe Russo.

Clean the bad taste out of your mouth from BvS and go check out Civil War in theaters while you still can! Don’t forget to stay the whole way to the end of the credits! And I mean, until the VERY end!!

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

by on May.03, 2015, under Movie Reviews

avengers age of ultronAvengers: Age of Ultron picks up where the first film left off and after Captain America 2. Shield is still dismantled but our heroes are keeping busy. The movie starts with the team trying to retrieve Loki’s scepter from the first installment and more specifically the glowing orb that powers it. In a be-careful-what-you-wish-for type of scenario, the Avengers claim the orb and the AI power within it that emerges through Tony Stark’s Ultron program.

The film is nearly non-stop with plenty of action along with some dramatic moments, some funny moments (the contest to pick up Thor’s Hammer is worth the price of admission), and the exploration of new characters such as Vision, Scarlett Witch, and Quicksilver. War Machine and Falcon show up in here too. There’s a lot going on and it’s every bit as much fun as the first movie as this film shares the same magic touch of writer/director Joss Whedon. There’s some twists and turns to the storyline with some pleasant surprises and unexpected moments along with some set up for Infinity War.

The effects are amazing to watch on the big screen of course, I would highly suggest seeing this one in a theater (the first time anyway). One of the more gratuitous moments for me was the Iron Man vs. Hulk fight with Iron Man balancing the scales using his Hulk container unit, such a blast. As usual, the Marvel quality seal of approval is all over this, that company knows how to do it right. My buddy Paul put it best “I don’t know how you couldn’t like that film”.

In terms of the talent, it’s a major lineup including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bethany, Cobie Smulders, and James Spader as the voice of Ultron. Spader’s voice and demeanor make for a great AI villain hell bent on saving the world by destroying humanity. As for the rest of the actors, simply put, they all kick ass.

If you’ve seen the first one, if you appreciate fun, entertaining, action-packed popcorn flicks, this is right up your alley.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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The Avengers

by on May.04, 2012, under Movie Reviews

Yep, this is awesome.

From the get go, the movie doesn’t stop until the whole thing has played out before you even know it’s over. It’s assumed that you know who everybody is as there’s not a lot of backstory other than to fill in some gaps here and there, particularly between Hawkeye and Black Widow, although I have to admit I didn’t find their story especially interesting or necessary. Gratefully, they don’t belabor the point too much…

No, instead most of the story revolves around Loki, his quest for vengeance, and the army he’s bringing to Earth to carry out his plans for dominance and power. Luckily SHIELD has been preparing for such an invasion since Loki’s last visit in the Thor movie. Hence the Avengers initiative to unite the world’s heroes and save the planet.

I’ll let the story speak for itself from here on out. Suffice it to say that watching The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow alongside Nick Fury all kicking ass is much fun. Part of the good times is watching how the Avengers try to get together in the beginning but end up beating the crap out of each other in the process. Watching Thor vs The Hulk, Captain America vs Iron Man vs Thor, and so on is pretty much most comic book fans’ wet dream. I know I enjoyed it very much as these were all heroes I collected the comic books of when I was a kid. Watching them interact and fight both each other and together is something I’d never thought I’d see that life-like on a big screen. I was very happy to see this movie realized as it is a blast to watch.

The humor is there too and hits you unexpectedly at times. You expect Tony Stark’s quippy one-liners, so that’s a given, but some of the more subtle moments is where the more engaging humorous moments occur. I especially enjoyed the exchange between the Hulk and Loki.

The effects are of course, top of the line. The battle in New York is wonderfully epic. My only complaint is that some of the alien force and the Hulk look decidedly CG at times. I have yet to see anyone really nail down the Hulk in a way where he doesn’t look CG. I would like to see Peter Jackson’s WETA take a crack at it.

Overall, it’s a great movie with a great lineup of talent. Joss Whedon writes and directs and has turned out a film you really should catch in the theater if you can. Then there’s the actors: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyenth Paltrow, Powers Booth, Harry Dean Stanton and Paul Bettany as the voice of Iron Man’s AI buddy Jarvis.

Don’t forget to stick around through the credits and keep your eye out for Stan Lee.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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