Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

In retrospect, “the worst of the Captain Americas” and “the best of the Avengerses” is exactly what somebody with my tastes in Marvel movies should have expected from Captain America: Civil War, and lo and behold, that’s exactly what it is. The first film in the much-ballyhooed Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is […]

A version of this review was published at the Film Experience Ant-Man is maybe the most typical film yet made in the now 12-picture Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is up to the individual viewer to decide if that’s a compliment or a vicious & lacerating criticism. But it’s really hard to think of it as […]

During the press tour for Avengers: Age of Ultron – a press tour marked by an uncommon number of wrong turns by the participants – writer-director Joss Whedon admitted almost in so many words that making the film was exhausting and no fun and he wasn’t happy with the final product. It helps to know […]

To begin with, Guardians of the Galaxy is the best film in the 10-film Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2008’s Iron Man started things off, or at least the most self-contained, and the one that feels the least like an airbrushed factory-made product. More unexpectedly, it’s also the best Star Wars film since 1980. And neither […]

For a solid 20, even 30 minutes, I was quite convinced that Captain America: The Winter Soldier wasn’t just the best movie in the now nine-film mega-franchise called, for want of something more attractive, the Marvel Cinematic Universe; I was quite convinced it was the best comics-related work of cinema since The Dark Knight in […]

Speaking as one to whom Thor represents the current nadir of the ambitious but increasingly samey Marvel Cinematic Universe, I am pleased to think that Thor: The Dark World represents a distinct step in the right direction. Though not, perhaps, a terribly large one. It fixes one gaping problem I had with the first movie, […]

Iron Man, I think, is never going to be bettered, even if one day one of its sequels or spin-offs ends up being genuinely better cinema, because Iron Man had a bit of good fortune that none of them ever will: it was unexpected, and you only get to have that happen once. Just like […]

Disclosure: I have some personal history – I wouldn’t say we were “friends”, but we were more than casual acquaintances – with one of this film’s executive producers. That is to say: we were in film school together, and I production designed a short he directed. I do not think this colors my opinion, for […]

Two things are immediately notable about Captain America: The First Avenger. One is that it has the most unnecessarily particular title of any comic book movie since X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The other is that it’s actually fun to watch, which shouldn’t be noteworthy at all, but in this age of darker, edgier comic book movies […]

Somewhere or another this week, I read a review in which somebody lightly dismissed the problem of casting superheroes the approximate sentiment “Robert Downey, Jr. can’t play ’em all, so take what you can get.” This seems wrong to me: why can’t Robert Downey, Jr. play them all? Why can’t the long-threatened The Avengers, finally […]

Two years ago, we got an unexpected treat in the form of Iron Man, which came from out of nowhere (movies based on Marvel comics had been sort of bad for quite a while, nobody involved on either side of the camera had a proven record in effects-driven action films, the trailers were completely awful) […]

On behalf of all those who bitched about Hulk back in 2003, I’d like to apologise to Ang Lee. His one and only foray into the comic book movie was undeniably flawed, but it had a surfeit of ambition, maybe even too much – not a sin that the subgenre commits all that often. Ambition […]