Posts Tagged ‘don cheadle’

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!

Movie Review: Flight (2013)

Posted: December 8, 2013 in Drama
Tags: , ,

flight

Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is an airline pilot with a complicated life.  He is divorced from his wife estranged from his son, and is in a sexual relationship with one of the stewardesses who he works with, Katerina Marquez. (Nadine Velasquez)  In addition, he drinks to excess and snorts cocaine, which he does on the morning of a particular flight.  He pulls the flight out of some tough weather, and then drinks while the plane is on autopilot.  The plane then starts to dive for some unknown reason and Whip Whitaker miraculously lands the plane, saving 96 of 102 people on board.  But the NTSB is doing an investigation and, and despite airline lawyer Hugh Lang’s (Don Cheadle) success in killing the toxicology report from the NTSB hearing, they still find out that there were two empty vodka bottles on the plane. Will the NTSB find out the truth about Whip’s drinking, or will a heroic act by a flawed pilot obscure the truth of his alcoholism and drug use?

I did not like Flight.  This is an example of a very good premise that goes awry, a hero pilot with very big personal flaws, must face his addictions or possibly face jail time.  This is an excellent starting point, but the movie gets so weighed down with its overwrought melodrama that it forgets to answer one of the basic questions posed in the film.  Why does Whip Whitaker drink?  In over two hours of what becomes a tedious morality play, the central question is never even addressed.  Many of the movies subplots are simply unnecessary, and add nothing to the central idea in the film.  Once again Hollywood has a strange take on religion, and the way down the plane clips a Pentecostal church, and the crash was somehow God’s will.  Instead the movie should be saying that all of us despite our many flaws are capable of heroic things, and that is through God’s grace.  The movie of course makes the co-pilot a fundamentalist Christian, whose wife’s every utterance ends with the phrase, ‘Praise Jesus.’  It’s sad that Hollywood wants to pigeonhole an entire religion as judgmental Bible thumpers , but they do. If that’s not bad enough, the ‘evidence’ that the movie hinges on is silly.  The plane is destroyed, people died, but two vodka bottles are unscathed.  Really?  Finally, this movie has an interesting take on alcohol detox, take drugs.  Not a good idea.

The acting is not great.  Denzel Washington, who I like, and think is an excellent actor, has gotten into something of a rut lately, playing a grizzled anti-hero a tough talking guy with all the answers. This take no-prisoners attitude was first and display in the movie Training Day, and it was eye-opening. Denzel could really play a bad guy with the face of a movie idol, but he played a similar role in American Gangster, Unstoppable and now Flight.  It’s time to put this character away for a while.  Don Cheadle plays a lawyer in the dullest, most uninteresting way, I’m really tired of seeing Cheadle give another lifeless, bland performance.  John Goodman was at the very least funny, but totally unnecessary . Goodman essentially serves  as Washington’s drug supplier.

Flight is very slowly paced and inexplicably long.  The director Robert Zemeckis, who made the very successful Back To the Future films and writer John Gaitains are responsible for the pacing and length of this film, a lot of editing was required to get to the essence of the film, but that was not done. The movie has nudity and numerous scenes of drug taking.  This is absolutely not a movie to watch with kids.

Flight.  Never takes off.

Iron man-3

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) reminisces about his early days as an inventor in 1999.  Tony wrote half a chemical formula on a napkin in 1999, and fellow inventor Aldridge Killian (Guy Pearce) wants Tony to join his fledgling company AIM, but Tony never does, he leaves Killian and one-night stand Maya Hanson (Rebecca Hall) behind to make oodles of money in the weapons business.  Tony has more pressing problems, he is having anxiety attacks from surviving an attack on New York (featured in the Avengers movie) and a terrorist named the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is wreaking havoc on America and the world with a series of random bombings.  Tony challenges Mandarin to bomb his house, Mandarin obliges, reducing Tony’s house to rubble. Another of the bombings seriously injures friend and former bodyguard Happy Hogan. (Jon Favreau)  While Rhodey Rhodes (Don Cheadle) tries to find Mandarin in Pakistan,  Tony is analyzing heat signatures from the bombings.

The analysis leads him to Tennessee, to an apparent suicide of a soldier. A little kid named Harley (Ty Sympkins ) escorts Tony through the small town in Tennessee.  Harley helps Tony with his anxiety, Tony helps Harley through some bullying issues, the more Tony investigates the heat signatures from the bomb that killed that soldier in Tennessee, the less he thinks it’s a suicide.  When he comes back home from Tennessee, who dos he see but Maya, who’s now a successful biologist.  Why is Maya back in her life?  The Mandarin is now threatening the President of the United States, President Ellis. (William Sadler)  Much to his surprise, Iran Man tracks Mandarin to Miami.  Can he stop The Mandarin before he harms the President?

I liked Iron Man 3 a lot, the reason is simple, this movie had a story, and several subplots, unlike the Avengers, which had no story or subplots, and as overrun by a juvenile overreliance on special effects.  This had interesting characters.  There is a twist to the Mandarin character, which I’m still deciding if I like or don’t, but at least it showed some complexity, as did the Killian character. Sure the relationship between the kid and Stark was manipulative and shamelessly tearjerking, but it showed that the character was just some guy in a metal suit.  Towards the end of the movie, the special effects do take over the movie and that bothered me. At times, Jarvis seemed to have more to do than Tony Stark. This is not a flawless movie.  Despite that, this is a much better movie than Iron Man Two.  It approaches the first Iron Man movie, but falls short.  It is still a very entertaining film.

The performance of Robert Downey Jr. makes this movie more enjoyable than it should be.  He gives a performance that is both comic and dramatic at once.  He is Tony Stark, he’s lived that life and the ease with which he plays the character shows.  Guy Pearce also gives a standout performance, burning with intensity.  Pearce is a very good actor.  Ben Kingsley is one of my favorite actors and he doesn’t disappoint.  It is disappointing to see Don Cheadle reduced to window dressing as Rhoadey Rhodes, but I’ve always said Terrence Howard was better as Rhodes, and this movie doesn’t change my mind.  Gwyneth Paltrow continues to annoy me in her role as Pepper Potts, despite being given more to do.

The writing is above average for an action adventure.  The direction is not spectacular, but keeps things moving along.  The 3D effects are worth the extra price of a 3D ticket.  This is one of the few movies I’ve felt that way about.   One continuing pet peeve, is the product placement.  Does the director have to make it so damn obvious? Can’t the producers raise enough money without turning the movie into a huge commercial?  It really ruins some shots, and nobody cares.  That annoys me.

Iron Man 3.  Still no signs of rust.

iron man 2

The world is at peace and Tony Stark (Downey Jr) is to thank.  There are no wars, no terrorism, so Tony should be on top of the world, right? But he’s got problems, a grandstanding Senator named Stern (Garry Shandling( hectors Tony about the proliferation of Iron man suits around the world.  Tony proves the suits In Iran and North Korea don’t work.  What Tony doesn’t know is that a nemesis named Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is working for a rival, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) to mass produce the Iron Man robots.  Vanko’s father was deported by Stark’s father and he now he sits in Russia and plots his revenge.  Vanko’s revenge involves making the robots drones, with no human pilot

Tony knows one thing for sure, he is dying, because the arc reactor he invented has begun to poison his blood.  He starts to become fatalistic about his future, turning over control of Stark industries to his assistant Pepper Pots, and racing cars in Monaco, as well as hiring Natalie Rushman (Johansson) an employee from legal to be Pepper’s assistant. In Monaco, Tony has his first brush with Vanko, Vanko is jailed by French authorities, but is bailed out by Justin Hammer to work at Hammer industries   Sick of Tony excessive drinking, his best friend , James “Roady” Roads, confronts Tony, fights him and takes one of Tony’s spare Iron Man suits to be weaponized by the military.    Toby’s downward spiral would continue, if he weren’t kidnapped, by mysterious Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and told to find and element for his arc reactor that won’t kill him.  Fury gives him an injection that slows down the poisoning and Tony begins to look for the elusive element, with the help of some old film of his dad.  But will Vanko and Hammer build those Iron Man drones and rule the world?  Who is Natalie Rushman, will she help Tony or doublecross him?  Will Tony find a new element for his arc reactor before the old reactors kill him?

This is a breathtaking movie, especially for a sequel.  This is an action junkie’s dream.  Sometimes, the action is too frenetic, but what keeps this movie together besides the action is the really large helping of comedy.  This was a really funny movie.  Justin Thoreaux  who wrote the very funny Tropic Thunder, wrote this movie as well..  Robert Downey Jr carries huge portions of this movie by himself.  If anyone understands the excesses of money and fame, it’s Downey because he’s lived that life.  Downey Jr was funny in a dry understated way, and really plays well off fellow 1980’s star Mickey Rourke.  Rourke could have played Vanko as a cartoon sort of Boris Badanov, but he plays Vanko as a quiet, understated villain, seething and smoldering, waiting for a chance to strike, like a coiled cobra.  And to hear him talk about his “burd” is hilarious.  Sam Rockwell  plays the smarmy, fast talking, thoroughly incompetent defense contractor Justin Hammer.  He personifies everything that is wrong with corporate America today.  Scarlett Johansson is great in this movie too, she fills a female action void that was missing in the first movie.  She kicks butt and takes names, I was impressed.  There was also a mystery to her character, I didn’t know where her loyalties lay until the last moment.  Samuel L. Jackson is just plain having fun, with his eye patch, and his cheesy one liners, he was clearly enjoying himself, and that kind of fun is infectious.  There were disappointments however, Don Cheadle didn’t really cut it as Roady.   Cheadle is more a quiet, contemplative, thinking man’s actor, the action format is not his best genre. Terrence Howard was  just as soft-spoken as Cheadle but he had a presence of strength and honor, he seemed more military than Cheadle.  The other disappointment is Paltrow as Peper Pots, all the chemistry between Paltrow and Downey is gone, she seems more like his mother than a love interest, chiding Iron Man to wear his clean undies before he beats up the bad guys, ok I made that up, but her performance was still disappointing,

Iron Man.  Ironing out his personal problems, and letting us watch.