Robert Downey Jr.

Thoughts on… My Most Watched Actors

I have a Letterboxd account and it’s pretty great. Letterboxd is the movie version of Goodreads so you can log what you watch, write reviews, make lists and follow different users. If you get a Pro account (which is only $19 a year which is about £15 and I think that’s pretty good value to be honest) you get to see what your various movie-related stats are each year you log films and overall on all the films you’ve ever marked as watched.

I’ve been looking at which actors I’ve watched the most overall and there’s some interesting things there but it does make me want to try and change some of my viewing habits.

Out of my top twenty most watched actors, just two of them are women – Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson. Scarlett Johansson was someone I was surprised to be there as she’s not one of my favourite actors nor someone who I’d go to see a film just because they’re in it. Her being in the Marvel Cinematic Universe certainly helped give her a boost and for a younger actor (she’s 32) she’s been in the business for a while and has an eclectic filmography. Rachel Weisz is a new addition because I have been watching more of her filmography recently, trying to get her (and more women in general) into my top twenty. In comparison to Johansson, Weisz is an actor who I love and will seek out films just because she’s in them but she usually stars in dramas or films that aren’t so mainstream hence while she is someone I do really like, her filmography isn’t always to my taste. (more…)

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REVIEW: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is living his everyday life as a high school kid and as the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man but after fighting with (and against) the Avengers, Peter wants more than that. When Peter discovers alien weapons are being sold, he comes up against the Vulture (Michael Keaton) a threat bigger than he’s faced before.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fun film. It very much feels like a teen comedy that just happens to have superheroes and that’s no bad thing. Seeing Peter in school, going to class, having to deal with annoying kids like Flash (Tony Revolori) and having a crush on popular girl Liz (Laura Harrier) was all great and Tom Holland played Peter Parker so well. I loved Peter’s friendship with Ned (Jacob Batalon), they felt like proper besties and it was great having someone knowing Peter’s secret identity from pretty early on in the film.

The story is a lot more small-scale than the threat-to-the-entire-world type plots we’ve seen in superhero films over the past few years. This was a good move as it gave more time for the characters and when there were stakes you felt them. That being said, the villain is an intimidating one and one of the best the MCU has had in a long time. Keaton nails the role, bringing menace and a certain affable charm to a character that could have been a pantomime villain.

I also liked how Spider-Man: Homecoming fitted into the MCU. Yes, there’s appearances from Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) but they don’t overshadow Peter and his story. If anything, Peter conversations with Tony are equal parts funny and sincere.

The humour didn’t always work for me. Peter is a kid who’s a hero so he sometimes makes stupid jokes and doesn’t think things through, and while that’s so perfectly Spider-Man, it just didn’t always hit the mark with me.

I liked Spider-Man: Homecoming but I didn’t love it. Breaking the film down like this there were a lot of elements I liked but for some reason together they didn’t give me the wow factor. Still, Spider-Man: Homecoming is an enjoyable film that will at least make you smile. 3/5.

REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

captain america civil war posterAfter a string of dangerous and deadly missions that put the public at risk, the Avengers are told they must be regulated by the U.N. While Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) agrees with these measures, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) doesn’t trust them. This causes a divide between the team that’s only exasperated when Steve’s best friend and former assassin Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) resurfaces.

Anthony and Joe Russo return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe after directing Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the way they put together this film is great. The action sequences are well-shot, there’s only a few instances of shaky-cam and most of the time fight scenes are framed in a wide shot so you can see exactly what’s going on. Also the way they manage to film multiple characters fighting but you never lose focus of where each character is and what they are doing is truly commendable.

A big part of the film is obviously this conflict between Steve and Tony and the sides various characters choose. The great thing about Captain America: Civil War is that you understand why these characters disagree and as the viewer you can see it’s not black and white and there’s pros and cons to both sides of the argument. At the beginning of the film there’s a sit down discussion between a lot of the characters and you get why the stakes are so high and what these regulations mean to them all.

The tension builds between all the characters as the film progresses and in many ways it’s similar to a Bourne thriller as characters go on the run and try to figure out the truth. While I won’t go into any depth of the different characters motivations, I can’t not mention Prince T’Challa aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). He is a guy who has the weight of a country on his shoulders but he is still fallible. He isn’t particularly on anyone’s side, he is on his own side and it makes him an interesting third party to this conflict. Civil War gives Black Panther a brilliant introduction and there’s going to be many people excited about his solo film.

There are a lot of characters in this movie but thanks to a great script, they all get their moment in the spotlight though some may have that moment longer than others. Really while Civil War is in a way both a sequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, at the heart of it, it is a Captain America movie. It’s the relationship between Steve and Bucky that drives a lot of their character motivations, and the motivations of a lot of the characters around them. the two of them are the heart of the film and it’s a good job Evans and Stan have such a good understanding of their characters and give such great performances because if they didn’t, Captain America: Civil War really wouldn’t be as good as it is.

Captain America: Civil War is a phenomenal film. While there’s all this conflict and amazing action sequences, at the heart of the film is the characters and their relationships. It’s what drives the plot and makes the film so great. 5/5.

REVIEW: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

dwV6BZ2When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) want to protect the world with a peacekeeping program, things go awry when the program Ultron (James Spader), decides that the only way to protect the world is to destroy it and the Avengers must come together to stop it.

Age of Ultron is truly a global film (something that doesn’t always works but is admirable) as the action goes from America to Eastern Europe to Africa and Asia. It definitely makes Ultron feel more of a threat and he along with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are a real adversary for the Avengers.

The action sequences are amazing and it’s always great to see the Avengers team, acting and fighting as a team. The moments where they help each other out whether it’s Thor (Chris Hemsworth) hitting Captain America’s (Chris Evans) shield with Mjolnir or Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) being the one to take the team to safety when they really need it – it’s a delight to watch.

Each character gets their moment to shine (and there’s a lot of characters) and Hawkeye especially gets to be the calm centre that helps keep everything together – a welcome change to the character being side-lined in the previous film. Also many characters get more of a backstory or at least a bigger look at their personalities and fears which is mostly thanks to Wanda Maximoff.

Both Wanda and Pietro (or Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver as they’re otherwise known) are great to watch. They are truly believable as twins who have only had each other to reply on and who have been hurt badly. Another new addition to the franchise is Vision (Paul Bettany) whose introduction is sort of beautiful and Vision then went on to steal every scene he was in.

Probably one of Age of Ultron’s biggest failings that it really feels like a stepping stone to future films, especially Infinity War. It’s still fun and exciting but there’s an air of expectation that the film doesn’t manage to fulfil. That being said, there’s still the humour and quite a few emotional hits – some are definitely surprising – so it isn’t all bad. One element I wasn’t over keen on was the romance hinted at between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson), some may like it but it felt a bit forced and out of place to me.

Once again, every character has their time to shine, there’s some welcome additions to the cast and the action sequences are fantastic. The pacing is sometimes a little off but overall Avengers: Age of Ultron is a lot of fun. 4/5.


l will be posting a full-on spoiler review/word vomit with all my thoughts as a fangirl of many of these characters, and the MCU itself, later this week.