It's been a record-setting year thus far at the box office, but not in a good way. January is always a slow month, but this year it was 15% behind that of 2018, and February fared no better. It looks like "Captain Marvel" has been sent to save more than just the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But there is some interesting counter-programming to the big superhero movie seeing release. Here are reviews for films opening this weekend, Friday, March 8, 2019:
She might be the last hope for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)...but if that's so, let's just let Thanos win and be done with it. That's because the long-awaited, highly-anticipated "Captain Marvel" is a jumbled, uneven mess, that follows the "Marvel Formula" so closely, you'll swear you've seen this movie before.
Brie Larson stars as the cosmic heroine, and it's as if they are so short on ideas back at Marvel HQ, that they couldn't even populate her film with original characters. Mixed in are Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou) and baddie Ronan (Lee Pace), both of whom appeared previously in "Guardians of the Galaxy." Then, just because, we get to see Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), as well as a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), shoehorned into the "fun." Taking place in the mid-90s, Jackson's face is digitally-altered to look younger, but it's this Cinematic Universe that is truly showing signs of aging.
Leaping off of the final scene of "Avengers: Infinity War" that gave us all a glimmer of hope, we are immediately made to wonder: Why didn't Nick Fury ever call on Captain Marvel before? When aliens attacked New York, or when a giant robot made an entire country levitate, that wasn't enough "danger" for Captain Marvel to be called on? This doesn't pass the eyeball or the smell test for even the most casual of MCU fans. By all accounts, Fury should have used his magic pager and called on Captain Marvel several movies ago. That truth underlies the whole premise of this movie, making the whole thing just feel...silly. And it might have helped if the character added something new, but instead, this is just a paint-by-numbers approach to the superhero genre. In fact, had Captain Marvel just shown up in the upcoming "Avengers: End Game" movie without this film’s backstory, most of us would have been completely OK with that and would have lost nothing. Instead, we have to endure over 2-hours of CG-explosions, exposition and dare it to be said, poor acting, to get to the end credits…where all of the real energy is focused anyways in these Marvel films.
With the MCU, it's always about what comes next – that next chapter – and rarely lately are we given the goods in the now. There was a nice touching tribute to the late Stan Lee in the opening credits of the film, and one of his best cameos ever appears about mid-way through. But just like Stan Lee, the “marvel” is gone right now, and these movies that take place in-between the Avengers films really need a dose of super-hero-strength adrenaline and creativity if they’re ever going to live up to some of the earlier films.
Captain Marvel? Hardly. It's more like “Captain Ho-Hum.” This is more of the same, and frankly, it’s getting boring.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi. Run Time: 2 hours 4 minutes.
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Djimon Hounsou.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck ("It's Kind of a Funny Story," "Sugar").
Just because a movie is released in the midst of Winter - the normal dumping ground for bad movies - doesn't mean that a movie is going to be bad. Sure, low expectations this time of year might play into it, but when it comes to the action-war-heist film "Triple Frontier," it's like finding a diamond in the rough, barren landscape that is early March. Yes, "Triple Frontier" is not just good, it's great.
Directed by J.C. Chandor ("Margin Call," "All Is Lost"), it tells the story of five military buddies that reunite to pull of a major heist, by ripping off a brutal, Brazilian drug lord. But "Triple Frontier" is a heist movie of a different breed, with a great ensemble cast led by Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal.
What works best about "Triple Frontier" is that it plays on audience expectations. We’ve all seen movies that seem like this one, yet nearly every time we think we know where the movie is going to go, it goes in a completely different and often exhilarating direction. There are underlying themes of honor, loyalty and greed, and it’s well-done as a character-driven action movie that really delivers more emotional punch than you may be prepared for.
"Triple Frontier" is in theaters now, and will be available on Netflix beginning March 13th.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime. Run Time: 2 hours 5 minutes.
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, Garrett Hedlund.
Directed by J.C. Chandor ("A Most Violent Year," "All Is Lost," "Margin Call").
"The Kid" has all the makings of a good Western, so why does it fall so miserably flat?
Dane DeHaan stars as Billy the Kid, with Ethan Hawke as his nemesis Pat Garrett, but "The Kid" that the title is referring to is not William Bonney. Rather, it's referring to a fictional young boy named Rio (Jake Schur), who crosses Billy the Kid's path and shares some unique bonds with the famous outlaw. A nearly unrecognizable Chris Pratt also stars, as does Vincent D'Onofrio, who also is the film's director.
But "The Kid" ends up shooting itself in the foot with a screenplay mired in clichés, and none of the characters or performances seems to gel. Even historians will tell you that there's nothing here worth watching that other films haven't already done, and better.
Genre: Biography, Drama, Western. Run Time: 1 hour 44 minutes.
Starring: Jake Schur, Dane DeHaan, Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt, Vincent D'Onofrio.
Directed by Vincent D'Onofrio ("Don't Go in the Woods").
Sorry moon-landing conspirators..."Apollo 11" is here to debunk your bogus claims.
The Apollo 11 mission of 1969 was of course an historic moment for all of mankind. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to ever step foot on the Moon, and in this documentary - for really the first time ever - we get to be there with them.
"Apollo 11" is a stunning documentary, devoid of any on-camera interviews or narration. It is told using strictly archival footage and audio clips, from TV recordings, to actual video and audio transmissions with NASA and its astronauts. It captures not only the launch, the ascent into Space, the Moon landing itself and the return home, but it also shows the reaction of the American people, who for one glorious day, stood side by side without care for creed, religion or color, to witness history.
The real achievement of this film isn't just the re-telling of this miraculous mission, it's how seamlessly it seems to sync all of this old material together. The result is really special.
"Apollo 11" will always be a benchmark for what humans can achieve, not just in Space but here on Earth. This documentary will fill you with a sense of wonderment, more than any superhero movie ever could. Of course, Armstrong and Aldrin are superheroes in their own right, and this is their origin story.
Genre: Documentary. Run Time: 1 hour 33 minutes.
Directed by Todd Douglas Miller ("Dinosaur 13," "Scaring the Fish").
All of these movies open Friday, March 8th, 2019. Check here for show times.
Movies opening next weekend include: "Wonder Park," "Climax," "Captive State."