Posts Tagged ‘chris evans’


Author and publishing magnate Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer has died in the bedroom of his palatial estate, police lieutenant Elliot (LaKeith Stanfield) is ready to label this a suicide, based on the blood spatter evidence, but private detective, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is hired by someone, possibly within the large family, and he thinks a murder has been committed, and everyone is a suspect.  Harlan’s son, Walt Thrombey (Michael Shannon) has just been fired by Harlan as head of Harlan’s publishing company , self-help guru daughter Joni (Toni Collete) has just been caught by Harlan pocketing the money for her daughter’s tuition.  Harlan’s son-in-law, Richard Drysdale, (Don Johnson) has been caught cheating on his wife, Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) by Harlan who has confronted him about it.  Even Harlan’s Latina nurse, Marta (Ana De Armas) who doses Harlan with morphine is a suspect. So was it a murder?  If so, who did it, and who hired Blanc?

Knives out is a very good film.  First and foremost it’s a very funny film, taking a poke at some recent newsworthy scandals and people, it has some weak and stilted dialogue about current politics, but it more that makes up for it with its subtly astute observations about white guilt among the well-to do.  The writing deftly leads the viewer to one conclusion and the viewer can’t be blamed if he/she thinks this is a movie not so much about murder, but blackmail or extortion, and the world renowned detective is a dunce.  But then the reveal comes in, and it’s not one of those wild reveals from out of left field, it makes total sense and the whole movie fits like a 1000 piece puzzle. This movie is reminiscent of a 70’s movie called Murder By Death, a 70’s murder mystery movie with a similarly star-studded cast including Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith and Estelle Winwood.  Knives Out has much better writing, Murder By Death’s comedy was a lot broader and more stereotypical in ways that wouldn’t work today.

The acting is superb, by a superb cast.  Ana De Armas carries this movie ,  Marta feels guilt at working for the wealthy Harlan, and shame that Harlan prefers spending time with her, rather than his dysfunctional family. And yet, Marta is a kind young woman, and that kindness shines through.  De Armas synthesizes all these conflicting emotions into one cohesive character. Daniel Craig is a good actor, he obviously wanted to do something completely different than James Bond, and he succeeded, but he does the WORST Southern accent in the history of film,  was it purposely exaggerated?  Only he knows, but the writer could’ve easily made the character British and saved my ears some pain. Toni Collete does a great job channeling Maryanne Williamson, kudos to her.  Chris Evans does a nice turn playing a totally self-absorbed jerk, a nice change from  All-American Captain America. This role shows he has range.  Don Johnson plays another self-absorbed jerk, this family was full of them, Johnson shows a little more range than his iconic Miami Vice role range too.  He was good in Watchman as well, in a limited role.

The direction is very good visually.  Rian Johnson focusses on the opulence of the house and also the idiosyncrasies of the house like secret passages, in this way it reminds me of Murder By Death, which spent a lot of time on the weirdness of the surroundings.  There’s really good pacing, it doesn’t seem like a 2 hour 10 minute movie. Johnson also makes excellent use of the cast, in both his script and direction.

Knives Out:  A cutting piece of satire.



captain america civil war

In Lagos Nigeria, while trying to prevent a terrorist attack and save Captain America, (Chris Evans) The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) inadvertently kill a number of Nigerians in an office building.  The Avengers have caused a great deal of collateral damage while trying to save people.  Towards that end, 118 nations have signed a treaty to have the United Nations regulate the use of the Avengers.  Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) gets lectured by the mother (Alfre Woodard) of one of his inadvertent victims.  He’s ready to hang up his suit, but Captain America doesn’t want to sign the treaty arguing that the Avengers should have the freedom to control their own actions. As representatives gather to sign the treaty in Vienna, there is a bombing, and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is the main suspect, but Captain America can’t believe his buddy from Brooklyn is responsible for such bloodshed.  Who is responsible for the Vienna bombing?  Whose side will the rest of the Avengers take on the treaty? Iron Man’s or Captain America’s?

I had reservations about this film, a film about the Avengers fighting each other could be very dumb if handled badly, especially in light of Batman vs. Superman. And when I saw they were fighting over a treaty, I thought, ‘Is that all there is?’  But happily, the reason they are fighting goes much deeper than the treaty, and that is the heart of the story.  The rest of the story is engaging and surprisingly funny.  The characters are nicely integrated, and there are new characters introduced and that’s nicely done too.  There is an element of “The Manchurian Candidate” a great Frank Sinatra film, in this film, which Iron Man mentions himself.  In all, Civil War takes what could have been tired characters and a hackneyed story and breathes new life into them.  The only criticism I have is that sometimes the fighting sequences go on for too long, and the story gets lost, but other than that, this was a thoroughly enjoyable film.

The acting was mostly very good.  Robert Downey Jr. again stands out from the rest with his usual witty, off the cuff delivery.  He really understands Tony Stark/Iron Man, I really wonder how much of his dialogue is ad libbed.  Chris Evans understands Captain America too, but I wish they would give his character a little more complexity.  Sebastian Stan was ok as The Winter Soldier, he’s not a good enough actor to play a bad guy, in my opinion.  Scarlett Johansson is great as Black Widow, and deserves her own Black Widow movie for crying out loud. The actors who play the new characters are also very good.  Don Cheadle, a very good actor, is not good as Rhoadey.  I preferred Terrence Howard. Elizabeth Olsen, who I liked in the last Avengers film, has trouble maintaining her Sokovian accent, so this performance is not as good as her last one.Jeremy Renner is very bland for this type of movie, he’s bland in every movie I’ve seen him in except for The Hurt Locker, where he was very good. Paul Bethany gives a good performance as Vision and Anthony Mackie adds some humor as Falcon.

The Russo Brothers direct again, and it’s better than their last Captain America effort, the pacing is fast, the action sequences are well staged, if a bit long, and they get mostly very good performances from a very large cast.

Captain America Civil War:  Aye Aye Captain!

captain america winter soldier

Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) is back working with Shield, despite having some reservations about the methods they use.  Steve has been asked to work on Project Insight by Shield Director Nick Fury. (Samuel L. Jackson) Project Insight seeks to link next generation helicarriers to targeting satellites.  But Shield has been infiltrated and compromised by Hydra agents, Fury asks Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) Secretary to the World to delay Project Insight.  Shortly thereafter Fury is shot by a mysterious assassin named The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) while at Steve’s apartment.  Fury’s warning to Steve:  Trust no one. Fury gives Steve a thumb drive, which is promptly stolen by Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow,(Scarlett Johansson)  Steve and Natasha decide to work together. They can’t decrypt the files, but the program was created in New Jersey, what do the two find in New Jersey?  Can Steve trust Natasha?

I like this movie, but there is a lot of plot to unpack and it’s quite complex, so the casual watcher of this movie could easily get lost in any one of the tangents that this movie takes.  There are several twists, only one is really not believable, and the movie is quite long, so it’s easy to give up on this movie, but hang in there, once the mission comes into focus, it’s an exciting film to the end.

The acting is first rate, except for one glaring exception, Robert Redford, more on him later.  Chris Evans does a great job playing the conflicted hero, he would like to live in the simpler time in which  he was born, but he has to live in the here and now, where the innovations in technology speed past discussions of the ethics of using this technology.  Scarlett Johansson does a fantastic job of playing the cryptically ambiguous Natasha, and she handles the action scenes quite nicely, thank you very much.  Also, she has great chemistry with Evans, their verbal jousting adds to the overall fun of the film.  Samuel L. Jackson is great as usual, and has a soliloquy about his grandfather in the elevator, that damn near knocked my socks off.  Poor Anthony Mackie, he gives a strong performance as The Falcon and seems headed for perpetual sidekick status, as in Ant Man. Now for the fly in the ointment, Robert Redford, gives another flat, emotionless, performance.  He really is overrated as an actor.

The directors are not well known, but they acquit themselves quite well.  The action sequences are well staged, the pacing is mostly good, there are some slow spots for exposition, but the film is mostly fast paced. The directors also get very good performances from a veteran group of actors.

Captain America:  The Winter Soldier:  A movie I warmed up to.


Seventy-nine world governments have sprayed the anti-global warming chemical CW7 into the atmosphere to cool the earth.  Everyone on earth has frozen to death, except for passengers on the passenger train the Snowpiercer. The train has been running for 18 years continuously. People in the back of the train are treated like chattel.  Soldiers protect Wilfred (Ed Harris) the creator of the train’s perpetual engine from the people in the back of the train Curtis (Chris Evans) and Gilliam (John Hurt) plan a revolution against Wilfred, and his minions.  Curtis is  joined in the battle by Tanya (Octavia Spencer) whose son Timmy (Marcanthonee Reies)  has been taken by the soldiers to the front of the train, under suspicious circumstances.  Curtis also bribes security expert Nam Minsoo (Kang Ho Song) and his daughter Yona (Ah-Sung Ko) with Kronole a hallucinogenic drug.  Curtis needs Nam to open the locks that separate the compartments of the train.  Do Curtis, Nam, Yona and Tanya make it to the front of the train?  What has happened to Timmy?

There are many familiar elements to this story, it’s a dystopian society on a train, people are given a mind altering drug to keep them content, much like Soma in the book Brave New World, and there’s a definite social strata where the poor are given questionable looking gelatinized protein bars reminiscent of Soylent Green, while the people near the front of the train dine on specially bred sushi.  The train is certainly a metaphor for society, but because the director and writer is Korean, I believe the train is a metaphor for North Korea.  The lower strata of society is left to starve while the upper classes enjoy the finer things in life, and the creator of the train is deified and followed with an intense, almost religious fervor. A lot of the story is far-fetched, how can a train run for 18 years, in a constant snowstorm?  How can plants and fish be grown inside of a train?  There are many plot holes, and the viewer must leave logic at the door in order to get to the ending, but the ending is worth all the suspension of disbelief that goes on beforehand.  It is an extremely violent film with a lot of close combat, so this is definitely not a movie for kids, or adults who don’t like excessive violence, but the metaphor is an interesting one, and there’s some global warming skepticism thrown in to boot, which will no doubt please some political conservatives.

The acting is good.  Chris Evans brings a lot of intensity to the role.  If I have a problem with Evans’ performance, it’s that his performance is a one-note performance which lacks nuance.  John Hurt and Tilda Swinton are wasted as Evans’ cohort and a mid-level conduit to Wilfred.  Octavia Spencer basically plays a mother whose grief for her missing son drives her forward. The Korean actors, Kang Ho Song and Ah-Sung Ko are very good as a pair of drug addicted wild-cards, the viewer never fully knows where their allegiances lie, and if their loyalty is up for sale .Ed Harris plays a role very similar to the role he played in The Truman Show, the train is his world and he likes being in control of it.  He’s good at these kind of roles and brings a certain serenity to the madness around him.

The movie is too long, director Joon Ho-Bong could have cut about a half hour out of his script to improve the pacing.  There is nothing visually arresting about this movie, and the actors are mostly veteran actors so I doubt that Bong gave them different readings on how to play certain scenes.

Snowpiercer:  A lot of tough sledding, but a nice payoff.


WWII is raging in Europe.  In Norway, Nazi soldier Jonathan Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) steals a powerful cube with untold powers.  Schmidt intends to take over the world.  Back in Brooklyn, NY, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a small, skinny runt, who keeps trying to join the Army.  He wants to emulate his friend, James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) who is already in the military.  Steve is so desperate to join the fight and fight the Nazis that he volunteers for an experimental program to design a super soldier, headed by Dr. Abraham Erskine, (Stanley Tucci)  British agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)  Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and Howard Stark (Dominc Cooper). After the super soldier injections are complete, Steve grows and becomes muscular, but a Nazi spy breaks into the lab and kills Dr Erskine.  Steve chases down and kills the spy, but then is woefully underused, and made a USO attraction, used to sell war bonds.

After Steve learns that his friend Bucky is missing, he flies behind enemy lines with Howard and Peggy.  Not only does Steve find Bucky but 400 other POW’s.  While Steve finds the POW’s,  Schmidt and Dr. Zola are trying to harness the power of the cube.  Steve and the 400 POW’s storm Schmidt’s HQ. Does Steve overpower Schmidt? Does Schmidt and Zola perfect the power of the cube?

I love this movie.  There are lots of reasons why.  This is a story of the underdog, the little guy who keeps on fighting to attain his dream.  He has a best friend, who he wants to be in the army with, he’s never danced with a girl, isn’t that everybody’s story?  And even with muscles and height, there are still obstacles in his way.  The villain is a true villain, he makes Hitler look like a boy scout and that is not easy to do.  The banter between Steve and Bucky sounds like two friends going back and forth.  The banter between Steve and Peggy sounds like lovers fighting.  The acting is great, and that makes the movie better.  Chris Evans is so good as Steve Rogers that I rooted him from the first scene on.  Hayley Atwell is one hell of a love interest, and she can act too.  Hugo Weaving is pure evil as Schmidt, he revels in being a bad guy and he does it well.  Tommy Lee Jones looks like he was meant to be in a military uniform.  Stanley Tucci is great in a cameo role as the scientist who really wants to help Steve. Dominic Copper plays Howard Stark, as a fun loving flirtatious womanizer, and adds a nice touch of comedy to the proceedings.  Then came the last scene, which looked like it was taped on, with Scotch tape, it was so sloppily done, all for the sake of a sequel.  But the tacked on ending did not ruin the movie.  OK so The Green Hornet, The Green Lantern, and Thor make Captain America look like Shakespeare, but that shouldn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter.

Captain America.  We all have a little Captain in us.