Short Reviews: Captain America, Tabloid, Beginners

Captain America: The First Avenger | Joe Johnston, 2011

I know that you really shouldn’t expect much action out of a superhero origin story. Time is needed to develop the character, set his motivations, etc. But there is always that one action scene in the end, and it has to be mind blowing. Batman Begins did it right. Iron Man did it right. But none of the other superhero movies have, and Captain America: The First Avenger is one of those. Just like Thor, although it is slightly better in just about every aspect, it feels like a two-hour preview for The Avengers.

The problem is the script. I’m not familiar with the comics so I don’t know how they handle the origin of the character, but the whole “I want to join the army because I hate bullies” is such a weak motivation. Later, for the big finale they try to give him extra motivation by killing off a character that is dear to him. That would have been fine, but their relationship was so underdeveloped that I honestly did not care.

The villain, here is also not menacing at all. I mean, you have Hugo Weaving playing a guy with a red skull and yet he manages to not be scary at all, then clearly there is something wrong in the foundation. And finally, the action is so disappointing. I mean, the big action scene is a montage, for pete’s sake! And the final scene manages to be as pedestrian as ever, and it is not helped by the fact that you already know how it is going to end.

But like I said, it is better than Thor in just about every aspect. The story and plot details are corny, and Joe Johnston embraces it and has fun with them and doesn’t take things too seriously. Just about every cast member is enjoyable, with Chris Evans being so charming, Hayley Atwell actually does stuff and is not a bumbling, helpless woman, and Stanley Tucci is awesome. Had there been more Tucci, the movie would have been much better.

But still, it was such a disappointment.

Rating: ★★


Tabloid | Errol Morris, 2011

Tabloid tells one of the most unbelievable and fascinating stories that I have seen in a while, and the fact that it is a true story made it so much more enjoyable. This tells the story of Joyce McKinney, a former Wyoming beauty queen. I don’t want to say much more since I feel that going into it without knowing anything works best. All you need to know is that it involves a beauty queen, S&M, and Mormon missionaries and their crazy theories.

As far as the craft goes, it is as great as you can expect from Morris. There are great and passionate interviews intercut with interesting footage or news clippings and fun visuals that illustrate the story perfectly (sure Standard Operating Procedure wasn’t fun, but you get what I mean).

Seriously, you should go out and look this up. It doesn’t cover the most important subject, but it’s kind of great.

Rating: ★★★½


Beginners | Mike Mills, 2011

Beginners was sold as an indie comedy in the vein of Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, (500) Days of Summer, etc. The highlight was on the quirky moments of narration, the moments that the hipsters could identify with, etc. But the thing is, the movie is much more than that. Yes, there are those kinds of moments, but there is a heart, a level of emotion that is not easily found in these kinds of movies.

I honestly don’t know how to gather my thoughts on this one, even a few  days after watching it. I just loved the story, how Mike Mills tells it in such a personal and identifiable way, the performances, and Ewan McGregor’s sweaters. It’s simply one of the best movies of the year.

Rating: ★★★★


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