Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Starring Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Richard Armitage, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, JJ Feild, Bruno Ricci

Directed by Joe Johnston

Expectations: High. Thor was great, and I hope this can lead me into The Avengers in a spectacular way.


Ever since I heard Marvel was producing an Avengers film with a Captain America film leading into it, I knew exactly how it should end. The Captain America origin storyline has a built-in cliffhanger that could naturally segue the character into the team structure of what the Avengers film must be. So imagine my surprise when the first scene in Captain America: The First Avenger uses this cliffhanger, effectively letting the air out of the balloon before it even gets the chance to fill up, or even introduce the balloon at all. Oh man, this can’t be a good sign.

Captain America wasn’t always the super soldier he’s now known as. He started as Steve Rogers, a 4F frail weakling who possesses such a desire to fight for his country that he tries anything he can to get another shot at the recruitment process. One of these times he catches the eye of a defected German scientist (played somewhat poorly by Stanley Tucci) who has developed a super serum that can turn Rogers into a beefed-up, Nazi-smashing version of himself. Thus is born Captain America.

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Quick Takes: The Baxter, Burlesque, The Secret in Their Eyes

This is a new feature I’m trying out. Let me know if you think it’s a good idea or not. At certain times I end up watching more movies than usual and I don’t have time to write reviews for them all. This always nags at me, as these movies are seen but not weighed in on via the site, so I thought I’d throw them together in one Quick Takes post and leave it at that. Your thoughts?


The Baxter (2005)

Starring Michael Showalter, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Williams, Justin Theroux
Directed by Michael Showalter

Great acting and some funny writing make this take on the romantic comedy fun and heart-warming. Michelle Williams is especially fantastic here, as are Michael Showalter and Elizabeth Banks. I generally hate romantic comedies, but The Baxter won me over with its interesting premise, quality script and nice visuals.

Burlesque (2010)

Starring Christina Aguilera, Cher, Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci
Directed by Steve Antin

Burlesque isn’t a very good movie. It’s highly formulaic, it’s overlong, it’s derivative of every other film in the genre. But damn if Burlesque isn’t entertaining! The acting is surprisingly very good, even from Christina Aguilera. Cher and Stanley Tucci play off each other perfectly, selling the story that they’ve been friends for decades. Visually very pleasing and the songs are enjoyable, Burlesque is a good evening off for your brain. AND get this… it’s the directorial début from Steve Antin, Troy from The Goonies!

The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)

Starring Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino, Guillermo Francella
Directed by Juan José Campanella

This Academy Award winning film for Best Foreign Language film is a stunner. Slow-moving and methodical, it is more of a character study than the detective thriller it might seem to be from the back of the box. As a character study it is extremely competent, with every moment informed by the deep well of character motivations that each actor has to pull from. The last fifteen minutes are fantastic and take the old “Would this character do that?” writing argument to a masterful conclusion. Highly recommended, as long as you don’t mind a slow-burning film.

The Lovely Bones (2009)

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Rose McIver, Michael Imperioli, Christian Thomas Ashdale, Reece Ritchie, Charlie Saxton, Amanda Michalka

Directed by Peter Jackson

Expectations: Moderate. I heard bad things, but I love Peter Jackson so there’s no way I’m not watching this.


This is a tough movie for me to review. Emotionally, I loved it. It hit me hard and continues to resonate in the days following. Technically, I have some issues with it. Ultimately, for me, the emotional weight of the movie is far greater than any technical problems I had, and I am judging it a bit harsher anyway because of my Peter Jackson fanboy status. I’ve seen every one of his films and I enjoy them all. Yes, I even like Meet the Feebles.

Set in 1973, the film tells the story of Susie Salmon, a fourteen-year-old girl who blissfully walks home one day with the prospect of her first kiss consuming her mind. Instead, her neighbor rapes and murders her. Her spirit leaves her body and she continues to look down on her family from the afterlife. With The Lovely Bones, Jackson returns to a smaller type of movie similar to his 1994 film, Heavenly Creatures. My problem with some of Jackson’s choices in filming this movie is that instead of being in “small-movie mode,” he still seems like he’s in “big-effects-movie mode” having just come from Lord of the Rings and King Kong.

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