Get Carter (2000, Directed by Stephen Kay) English 5

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Miranda Richardson, Michael Caine, Alan Cumming, Rachel Leigh Cook, John C. McGinley

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(5-Okay Film)

Tame. Misguided. Inferior.

The original Get Carter is a classic British gangster film: raw, relentless, bleak, and brutal. Michael Caine starred as Jack Carter, a gangster out for revenge on his brother’s murderers. As portrayed by Caine, Carter was nearly as ruthless as the “bad guys,” cold and methodical. Stallone’s Carter is a big softy. That’s not to criticize his performance. Stallone is quite good in this role, but the filmmakers or writers or whoever decided to water down the material. It’s as if Get Carter was remade by people who didn’t even like the original. Instead of raw, gritty filmmaking, we get polished, overly-stylized filming here, and instead of a morally ambiguous hero, we get a righteous mob enforcer. Maybe if they had just called it a different name, severed its ties to the original, this film might have had a chance. We know that Stallone is very compelling in these roles, but this Get Carter is wildly inferior.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(416)

Captain Marvel (2019, Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck) English 6

Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Gemma Chan, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Lee Pace, Djimon Hounsou

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(6-Good Film)

Uneven. Satisfying. Solid.

We are about a million miles away from what Roger Corman had in mind for his unrealized production of Fantastic Four back in ’94. It’s amazing how far the superhero genre has come in those 25 years. Captain Marvel arrives in theaters with a cast full of A-listers and Oscar nominees, led by star Brie Larson. She plays Vers, an inhabitant of a distant planet called Hala, where the race of Kree lives, at war with the shapeshifting Skrull. Captured by the Skrull and prodded by their leader, Talos (Mendelsohn), Vers has visions or memories of people that she doesn’t recognize. Escaping to Earth, with the Skrulls right behind, she teams up with a younger, visually non-impaired Nick Fury (Jackson) to fight back the enemy invasion and unravel the mystery of who she is really is. Brie Larson is not a naturally charismatic star. That’s okay. A lot of great actors aren’t. They need compelling characters and things to do on screen to be interesting. For that matter, Steve McQueen, a limited actor, is extremely charismatic, without doing very much at all. The point here is that for much of Captain Marvel’s first act, where the storytelling is basically setting up a dynamic second act, Larson is asked to carry the show. For this reason, Captain Marvel is rather dull in the beginning. Eventually, several characters join her in her adventure, and, with help from a minor but welcome twist, Captain Marvel becomes a much more entertaining film as it gets going. Much has been made about a cat named Goose. Much ado about nothing as far as I’m concerned. I am apparently not amused by the same things as everyone else. I was, however, impressed with Mendelsohn, who I believe gives the film its heart, and the friendships Vers acquires on her way to becoming the great and powerful Captain Marvel.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(399)

Captain America: Civil War (2016, Directed by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo) English 6

Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlet Johansson, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Chadwick Boseman, William Hurt, Daniel Bruhl, Elizabeth Olson

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(6-Good Film)

Tense. Exciting. Consummate.

The Marvel heroes are at war…with each other. I rolled my eyes at the idea, and yet still thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Basically, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers have different ideas about the direction of superherodom. They recruit other Marvel heroes/properties to join their side in the argument and they all face off 2/3rds of the way into the movie. There is of course a larger plot lingering that supersedes their battle and brings them back together eventually, but I don’t remember what it was about. I watched this film to see Black Panther and Spider-Man tangle; I can’t remember if this actually happened, but, in any case, it’s a fun movie. A beacon for DC to chase aimlessly.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(398)

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011, Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson) English 6

Voices of Jack Black, Gary Oldman, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, David Cross, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Michelle Yeoh, Victor Garber, Jean-Claude Van Damme, James Hong

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(6-Good Film)

Retread. Action-packed. Entertaining.

No longer a joke among his peers, Po (Black), the affable panda and kung fu master, enjoys his newly earned reputation as the Dragon Warrior. Troubles brewing once again, however, with the return of Lord Shen (Oldman), an evil peacock responsible for wiping out all of the kingdom’s pandas; all except Po. Kung Fu Panda 2 suffers from inevitable sequel fatigue. It’s not as fresh or exciting as its predecessor. It is, though, beautifully animated and the voice actors once again do stellar work; Gary Oldman, in particular, as Lord Shen.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(384)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010, Directed by David Yates) English 7

Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Warwick Davis, Rhys Ifans, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Jason Isaacs, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton

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(7-Very Good Film)

Incomplete. Adept. Solid.

Star-studded, big-budget spectacle and adaptation of J.K Rowlings’ seventh book in the Harry Potter series. Harry, along with Ron and Hermione, seek out Horcruxes and try to decipher recently deceased Dumbledore’s cryptic instructions to them. Since the filmmakers decided to cut the book in half and make two movies, this first part doesn’t have a very strong structure to it. Also, like other films in this franchise, many plot points don’t make much sense if you haven’t read the books. Still a very compelling narrative despite its problems; well-acted, with three excellent action sequences.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(382)

Police Story 3: Supercop (1992, Directed by Stanley Tong) Cantonese 9

Starring Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung, Bill Tung, Yuen Wah

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(9-Great Film)

Goofy. Action-packed. Amazing.

Jackie Chan returns as Chan Ka-Kui, a talented cop always ready for action. Here, he teams up with Interpol Inspector Hana (Yeoh), in an effort to infiltrate a powerful drug lord named Chaibat’s operation, and put him behind bars. This involves Chan breaking Chaibat’s brother out of prison in order to gain his trust, and later he and Inspector Hana are hired as Chaibat’s muscle. Slightly more serious in tone than some of Chan’s other work, there’s still plenty of room for comic misunderstandings and physical humor, but mainly this fantastic action flick comes down to its stunts. Chan and Yeoh are tremendous. The final twenty minutes is one jaw-dropping stunt after another including Yeoh barely holding on to a bus on the fritz, or driving a motorcycle up a hill and onto a moving train, or Chan falling from a helicopter onto a train’s compartment full of porcupines. The trademark end reel wherein all the goofs are shown only highlights how dangerous the work was and how incredible it is that they pulled it off.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(372)

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014, Directed by Bryan Singer) English 8

Starring Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Peter Dinklage, Nicholas Hoult, Ellen Page, Evan Peters

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Fresh. Thrilling. Cool.

A fresh spin on the X-Men universe, Days of Future Past imagines an apocalyptic future decimated by machines known as Sentinels. Designed by a Dr. Bolvar Trask (Dinklage) in the early 1970s, the X-Men along with Magneto team up on a plan that could change everything. With Kitty’s new found power, they can send Logan (Jackman), the only mutant capable of surviving the trip, back in time to alter the past and save the future, but he’ll need the help of a young Dr. Xavier (McAvoy), weakened by drugs, and a young Magneto (Fassbender), untrustworthy and incarcerated. After Logan (2017), this is the second best X-Men film and the best one that features all of the characters. It’s a great concept executed sublimely with much humor and suspense. How many superhero films can you say that you didn’t know how it was going to end?

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(371)