Gatsby's New and Improved Flick Critique

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Master of My Domain
Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Directed by: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johanson, Sebastian Stan

Black Panther, Black Widow, Iron Man, and Iron Patriot

Captain America: Civil War, during its entirety, can be described as a load of information, but mostly all I learned is that Marvel prioritizes Team Stark versus Team Captain America over telling a compelling story. The pace is swift, but every moment is a variation of the one before it that after a while, it all starts to taste the same. Emotions are exchanged in a serious tone, and then there are a handful of comedic moments to lighten it up. Unfortunately, by that point, your mind is too numb and too confused to trigger appreciation.

A lot of fight scenes are crammed in 147 minutes. In comparison, the first Avengers movie feels tame, which is saying a lot, since the entire third act is a seizure-inducing war. Thus the plot seems like it makes up itself as it rambles along in order to crank out shield throwing, fist-fights, and everything in between. Hint: unintended consequences, but exaggerated. I am a person that watched most Marvel cinematic universe films, yet I couldn't keep track of 4 or 5 different sub-plots inside one movie. One plot pauses while another resumes, therefore, they it takes a lot of time for progress to happen, and like I said earlier, it adds up to a flavorless viewing experience. A more accurate title is Avengers 2.5, aka build up to an even bigger conflict.

Thankfully, there are a few blows of fresh air that keeps this film from feeling like a ride in a stuffy train compartment. The best one is the newly introduced Spiderman, who is arguably the best one yet. Maguire's version had charm, but I felt a certain distance due to lack of likability. Garfield's version is watered-down and mediocre. Civil War's Spiderman, played by Tom Holland, is cheerful, humorous, and simply a joy to watch. I'do a lot to hang with this dude, even though he's definitely younger than me. Tom Holland has a natural screen presence that will guarantee him countless more opportunities, mark my words. A moment that stood out, and earned my eager nod was when Spiderman mentioned Empire Strikes Back. A common reference, yes, but it is mentioned with such a breath of innocence and charm that you can't help but grin as he swings around.

He's also part of the main attraction, the first battle between Team Stark and Team Captain, which is entertaining to watch. The Russo brothers direct the sequence with enough energy that can support everyone's various powers, and at the same time knowing when to be subdued when coming to camerawork and editing. Another reason why the sequence works is because the heroes do not put strenuous effort into harming each other. In fact, time spent punching and kicking each other into a wall or vehicle and time spent getting to know each other under a cheerful spirit are nearly equal. There's a sense of clear respect for each other, including a clear reason for why they are fighting on a certain team.

These moments are why you go to superhero films. Dozens of average moments, filled with fight sequences and arguments you know (and the filmmakers know) exist to serve as appetizers before you are served the entrée, are not. Sure, events need to happen before you can get from A to B, but the end justifying all means doesn't apply to the definition of great films. I'm not saying that all superhero films should be filled with a sense of camaraderie and jubilant fun. I'm actually against the modern view that everything should be awesome and sunshine-y. Instead, it's the complaint that these dramatic pauses, breathes, and facial expressions are backed up by "the-evil-we-must-defeat" suddenly thrown in all at once, without time to explain exactly how, why, and when. In terms of confusion, I was on the same level as the Avengers themselves. Or maybe because I don't care much about what happens to these characters, or the fictional version of our society they inhabit. These characters repeat themselves over and over again; constantly hitting the snooze button until someone finally destroys it as a wake-up call, so at least we have a decent conclusion.

I'll give credit for Captain America: Civil War differentiating itself from other similar superhero films. However, the twists are insignificant. Just like the decision to make location names appear on the screen center with big while letters. It's creative and partially self-aware, but ultimately underwhelming. For 2 hours and half I saw buildings getting bombed, cars being flipped, and super soldiers shootin' and slamin'. But I was unable to feel, like Bucky the cold-hearted winter soldier.


Letterboxd Profile:

I think I mostly felt the same as you, yet rate it a star higher. I probably wouldn't like these movies as much if I waited to watch them at home. They have a charm to them that makes them enjoyable theater experiences for me.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is God

Master of My Domain
Been busy with a lot of things, so I didn't get to watch movies or just even casually hang out on Movie Forums - but I did watch Finding Dory, and miraculously rushed a review of it. Enjoy.

FINDING DORY (2016) - Review by Gatsby

Sequels such as Finding Dory.- they're bigger, bolder, and more exciting than their parent film. Or at least try to be. The good news is, Finding Dory, backed by Pixar the success machine and it's team of awesome writers, directors, and creative minds, is part of the group that succeeds to some degree. Unfortunately, it's no Toy Story, which has a climax involving an airport. That's a healthy amount of animated disbelief. Finding Dory involves a highway, which in my opinion is an overdose.

But I can't go into the details, because, spoilers. Let's just say that, there's a hell lot of unlikely events. The entire film can be summed up as a chain of consequences, not a sweep of events that keep adding up. The plot beings when Dory suddenly remembers her parents after discovering objects that remind her of her forgotten past. Dory eventually figures out that her parents must be somewhere somewhere in California. Sorry about that. Memory is not my strong point either, and I didn't take notes. Anyways Marlin, Nemo and Dory hitch a ride on the turtles from the first film and arrive at a Marine Institute with various facilities and aquariums. All seems to go swimmingly until Dory loses track of Marlin and Nemo, which gives us reason behind the title.

The following events would have lead to a lot of dead sea creatures if one of them went off track by a minuscule. Fishes of all sizes leap from one place to another while defying physics and a sense of gravity as if they are still underwater. That aside, the action is entertaining enough, we know why characters go from A to B. As a sign of respect, we forget to roll our eyes. Once again writing about how Pixar once again showed audiences how an animated film, or any film in general, should be is almost repetitive. It will continue to generate such a feeling as long as Pixar sustains its current brand of quality, which as a fanboy, sincerely hope for. Make jokes that come from the character's personality, not an idea pitched in to generate laugher. The crucial emotional moments should not be preachy, and even if the themes tackled have been used many times, find a way to infuse originality into the process and on the path. I could create a list of requirements, say that Finding Dory meets them all, and call it a review.

Finding Dory's strongest aspect, I'd say, is what can be learned from Dory. Personally, her simple-minded and straightforward attitude reminded me that it's okay to take risks, there's always another way out, and keep going (swimming). One perspective calls it naivety, my perspective calls it positivity and hope. There's a feel-good moment when Dory's optimism ultimately pays off, which is a highlight.

Yet it doesn't mean I'm satisfied. When I walk into animated films, I expect innovation, and imagery I haven't seen before. Animation is not a genre, it is a possibility for creating completely new worlds from scratch and do what was previously thought unachievable. The latest animated film I was impressed by was Zootopia, which boasted a metropolis and set an example of how messages regarding prejudice can be placed in a film. Finding Dory's purpose is being a good sequel. And I think it's intended to be that way: just listen to one of the interviews with people involved in production. The limitations are set up by them. We've already seen accurate depictions of ocean deeps and places part of regular human life, and quirky side-characters who act as comic relief at first, then be the deus ex machinas when our heroes need help.

Nonetheless, overall I had a good time. I appreciate that Pixar worked on Finding Dory first before starting Brave 2 or... Cars 3. Oh the horror. I need happy thoughts, happy thoughts! Uh, Ellen Degeneres' great voice acting! Cute little Dory with her adorable memory loss! Back to what I'm trying to say. Finding Dory is a great film that makes you feel better inside, and more joyful than two hours ago. What's the matter then, you might ask, but I'm just doing my job by being a grumpy critic.

Oh yeah, and Sigouney Weaver is in this film. No kidding, and don't ask how. One more reason for you to go the theaters.