3 Best Marvel/MCU Villains 2008-2019

 

22 movies, Eleven years, hundreds of actors, dozens of bad guys, but only 3 stand as the very best Villains of kevin feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.

 

LOKI

 

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LOKI– In many ways the first AVENGERS movie stands as the most important of the MCU films, up there with the first IRON MAN movie. The IRON MAN movie proved these individual characters could work on the big screen, THE AVENGERS movie proved a super-hero team, wide screen Comic Book level action, could work for the masses; proved That this concept of long form story telling in film… could payoff, and should continue.

After 22 movies, THE AVENGERS is still the movie I saw the most in the theaters, a record three times (I almost never see a movie in a theater more than once), and the one I had the most fun with. And that is because Director Josh Whedon delivered the film of his career, the writing was brilliant, actors and effects phenomenal, and the characters… literally the stuff of Myth. And the most memorable scenes of a very memorable film revolve around Tom Hiddleston’s completely crowd pleasing performance as Loki, that sets up such memorable lines as ‘Mewling Quim’ and ‘Puny God’.

Like the best of all Villains, the two other names on this list; the Loki character while wrong, there is something compelling and seductive, and relateable in Loki’s mania. Driven by some hurt he seeks to fix, some reason that reason knows not of, that makes him more than a stock villain, but someone more complex, and someone that in moments… seen from some angle, is understandable, if not approvable.

There is a reason Hiddleston’s Loki ten years later remains… beloved. Because being more than a stock Villain, means at moments he resembles all of us, he is capable of good, as well as evil. And watching Loki navigate that line, grow as a character, makes him more than villain and more than hero… it makes him… interesting.

 

 

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KILLMONGER

 

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KILLMONGER – There were a lot of MCU villains prior to Michael B. Jordan’s acclaimed turn as KILLMONGER, in the brilliant and ground-breaking Ryan Coolger helmed BLACK PANTHER, but none of them, not Red Skull, not Ultron, not Winter Soldier, not even Loki, had me deep into the movie… unmoored about who was right and who was wrong.

To do that in a film, to bring the audience with you into a questionable grey area where there are no more heroes and no more villains, but just principles of better worlds that clash in blood, that is some deep and epic and personal filmmaking, and to accomplish that in a large scale blockbuster superhero movie, is the stuff that awards are designed to recognize.

Hats off to all involved, but particularly to the way Jordan chose to play KILLMONGER, just unique and disturbing and yet another memorable character, from an actor who has quickly become one of the best actors of his generation.

BLACK PANTHER is a film that I loved the action in, loved the fight scenes, loved the story, loved the scale, but what really sets it apart from every other MCU films before it (with the exception of THE WINTER SOLDIER, which did it in a smaller way) is the sophistication of how it is told. The murky grey areas where good and bad become… unsound. It’s a great film, that becomes stronger every time you watch it. Like leather curing in the sun.

At the film’s heart it is a tale of fathers and sons, kings and commoners, and a question of whose vision of tomorrow… is most right. And that hinges on Jordan’s KILLMONGER, a lesser villain or a lesser performance, and we would be talking about a much less successful film. Which is the case with any film, a great film seldom does so, without a great antagonist; and Jordan’s KILLMONGER is one of the greats.

 

 

 

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THANOS

 

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And now we come to the 1000lb Gorilla in the room, (it is an idiom used to call attention to an overwhelming or obvious  idea, finally being recognized – for those of you who may not be familiar with the expression) THANOS.

A CGI character that has been the big bad we have been building to in these 22 films. It is an unprecedented build up, the likes of which we will likely never see again. But boy did it pay off. Josh Brolin (son of the legendary actor James Brolin) has in the last two decades started forging his own legend, in films from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN to AMERICAN GANGSTER to TRUE GRIT to SICARIO (look forward to seeing him in the upcoming Villeneuve directed DUNE and Sean Penn helmed FLAG DAY) he has been solidly delivering the goods.

But I think it is safe to say his THANOS is likely to be the role he is remembered for above and beyond all others, just based on the cultural and historic imprint these 22 films have carved out. You have to go back to Universal Studios game changing monster movies of 1923 to 1955 to get a run as formative and impactful as this current run of MCU movies.

And THANOS is the looming shadow that haunts these films, and in INFINITY WAR and ENDGAME Brolin’s Thanos gets to come out of the shadows and take center stage.

Again as buildups go, you will likely never see, in your lifetime the like again, a 22 film novel for television, that stuck the landing.

Much has been written on the character of THANOS and the sophistication he was written and performed with. following in the wake of Jordan’s KILLMONGER, here too is another villain where, to a lesser degree, you see the mercy in his madness, the humanity in his horror. He does and is going to do horrible things, but toward ends that we must all, at the end of the day judge as… understandable.  And it is the achievement of all involved from performers to directors to special effects to camera to makeup to lighting to sound, that in not one moment of INFINITY WAR or ENDGAME, not one moment of a CGI Thanos interacting with the other actors, do I question the fiction crafted. The vision is solid.

It is a 2 film culmination of a 22 film, 11 year unequaled and un-thought of cinematic achievement, and it sticks the landing. And Thanos quite rightly gets catapulted into the conversation of most iconic cinematic villains of all time, up there with Darth Vader, Dracula, Dr. No, Dr. Mabuse, Khan, Hannibal Lecter, Joker.

 

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So that is it guys, the 3 best villains of 22 movies, and 11 years of cinematic gold!!!

 

And for Honarable Mentions:

  • Ultron
  • Red Skull
  • Winter Soldier
  • Klaw

 

Thanks for looking, feel free to comment with your favorite villain or villains, and if you enjoyed this post give some love to this installment’s sponsor:

 

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Purchase Here.

Halloween Countdown – 7 for 7 – Seven Movies and Seven Reviews! Day 12!

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Dark House This film has intriguing visuals, Victor Salva creating another memorable movie boogie man in the Axe-Men, and the syncopated way they move.  However the movie gradually loses steam to a forgettable ending. Worth a look, but not a keeper.

 

DISCARNATE is another movie, where the monster/monster design is unfortunately better than the movie it is in.

The movie is ok, worth a look, but I feel the creature is the most interesting thing, and the surrounding actors and plot, while talented, have the definite feel of very rote and not particularly engaging. When not on the monster effects, it all seems a bit by the numbers.

 

 

Pikovaya dama. Chyornyy obryad (2015)

 

QUEEN OF SPADES – I have praised this movie before. A lot of other movies do the “kids daring each other to summon up things that go bump in the night” very few do it as competently, or intriguingly, or captivatingly as this film. Most of the time, it is just a bunch of stupid choices made by stupid people, followed by even more “lacking common sense” responses.

Yes we are entering the world of the fantastic, but even in that fantastic world, the responses have to be responses that we feel we would or could make in such fantastic situations.

And when the choices are even more fantastic than the premise, that is when suspension of disbelief breaks down, and we are done with the movie.

That is the problem with the vast number of horror movies. Not so here. You feel the path the characters are on, and the choices being made, are true to the constraints of the world and situation created. Huge fan of this movie. It’s a solid B/B+ of a movie. If you are a fan of LIGHTS OUT the short and feature (while this film isn’t to that level, it is not far off), give this one a try.

 

HELL HOUSE LLC- This has a bit of “people behaving not the way a rational person would behave in such a situation” vibe, it feels to me. However the movie keeps it moving, and slightly mollifies the protagonists stupid actions, by painting him into a corner, and when you feel you are in a corner, stupid decisions tend to trump rational ones.

Besides that, the movie is just well constructed, leading to the forewarned ending. Not a great movie, but a very good one. And one I can re-watch. One of the best Scare House movies (WAY better than the HOUSES OF OCTOBER movies)

Leaving D.C. (2012)BAD BEN series – I can not even tell you how many BAD BEN movies there are. IMDB list at least six, however there may be some tangentially connected films as well. I’ve seen at least 4 of the BAD BEN movies proper, and starting with the 1st (LEAVING DC) I have been a fan.

Just a great series that has fun with the haunted house and found footage tropes.

It is not Shakespeare, does not take itself too seriously (well the first one is the most sinister and ‘serious’ of them all), but isn’t just played for laughs, it is told straight forward, but like SCREAM the protagonist is aware of the movie tropes, so it is a bit “inside baseball” fun to it.  But it is fun, and is better than most horror movies out there that trod similar ground, and that have stupid, unlikable 20-something protagonists.

Ben is a character you definitely like, and root for during his misadventures.

 

Hex (2017)HEXI enjoyed this film. Dire, and complicated, and horrible, and beautiful, and an ode to hatreds and conflicts… and the emptiness and wastefulness of those hatreds and conflicts. It is haunting, in the best and worst ways. Not a big film, or a great film, it is a small intimate film, yet there is something… great in it. Not as beautiful as THE WITCH but it, like that film, stays with you long after you see it.

With a title like THE SHE-CREATURE and being from the schlock days of 1956, especially with the poster art, you wouldn’t expect much from this film. But what people forget is even though the special and creature effects were in their infancy and it shows (that poster is everything that is wrong with this movie, selling the monster rather than the mystery), the acting and direction is actually very strong in a lot of these films.

And THE SHE-CREATURE is an example of real actors (past their prime in some cases, and in roles arguably beneath them, but still delivering that star power), beautiful direction and cinematography and an intriguing premise that includes (for 1956 and arguably even today) controversial concepts of hypnotism, past life regression, spiritualism,  and a palpable racial memory that lives on in our very genes, that hold up, despite the limitations of the creature design and affects.

The film would have been better served if it never showed the monster, or showed it only in brief glimpses (ala NIGHT OF THE DEMON) unfortunately selling subtle over schlock, was not an easy sell then or now.

So we have a movie that is actually engrossing, until the outlandish rubber suit monster at its core turns up. But despite the ludicrous of everything associated with the creature design, there is a brutality to the murder scenes that the monster leaves behind, that is ahead of its time.

And bottom-barrel rubber suit or no, the story and performances around it, keeps me intrigued enough to keep watching. That aside I still enjoyed my watch.

In-fact if you were to CGI in a credible monster, over the awful blonde haired sea-monster with boobies rubber suit (Those are words you do not expect to use together in a sentence. 🙂 . Even for the 50s that monster design is deplorably bad, and a bit inexcusable when people were able to do impressive creature designs such as CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON), or edit around those scenes, you would actually have a good little movie. So definitely not a must see by any means, but it is worth a look on a slow movie day. There are things to like about it, even in 2019 going on 2020. 

So… 4 solid recommendations, and 3 not quite ready for prime time films reviewed for Halloween. If you have Amazon Prime, all the films are available to view at no cost. Come back tomorrow to see what makes the list on Day 11, of our Halloween countdown.

AMAZON PRIME vs NETFLIX! Fun MONSTER Movies on VOD this Weekend!

AMAZON PRIME vs NETFLIX! Fun MONSTER Movies on VOD this Weekend!

For this comparison I’ve left out vampire, zombie, werewolf and ghost/possession films, concentrating on the more niche sub-genre’s that make up horror movies.

AMAZON PRIME HAS:

    

 

NETFLIX HAS:

 

 

EASE OF SEARCHING: Amazon wins. You can type in a generic term and Amazon will search for it. Netflix’s app by default just searches by title

RATINGS: Netflix previously did helpful star ratings, but since has replaced it with utterly useless percentage rankings. Netflix desperately needs to go back to star ratings and IMDB scores on films. Amazon is the clear winner here, offering usually pretty spot on ratings to help you locate your next obscure or recent find.

TRAILERS: Netflix except in a few cases, with mostly their produced content, does not offer trailers. And the few they do offer take multiple clicks to locate and play. I love watching trailers, they can save you a lot of time by, along with the rating, quickly helping you determine if a movie (or show) is worth your time. Another HUGE fail for Netflix, and big win for Amazon Prime.

A ‘VIEWERS ALSO WATCHED’ OPTION – Again it helps emulate the video store dynamic, by putting on your radar options and selections you otherwise would not have thought of. I spend probably 4 times longer on the Amazon app, because it offers this rabbit hole feature. One selection, leading to another, leading to another.

Add all the above, to Amazon Prime’s massive back catalog which dwarfs Netflix’s options, and you have the fun video store experience improved on and ramped up by a factor of ten.  Amazon may be producing the superior new content, and branded shows, but as a central distributor of all things VOD, how it made its name initially, it Is falling way behind.

This week’s clear WINNER…. AMAZON.

 

 

 

The masterful short films of Neill Blomkamp and Oats Studios!

Okay so it is Sunday 30 July 2017, and it has been a minute since I posted.

One of the things that has been occupying me (besides today’s POWER and ELEMENTARY marathons):

OATS STUDIOS

I do not like You Tube if I have to go to its web page, for the simple fact I hate its un-moderated comments and ignored idiocy and stupidity. But the YouTube channel on Amazon Fire or Roku is something else. I find it actually useful, and nice to view on my big screen TV. And no un-moderated comments to deal with.

The main thing I go to YouTube for is short films, followed closely by movie trailers.

But for short films YouTube’s Roku or Fire Channel, is a great boon. Giving a stage and platform for filmmakers who would otherwise go undiscovered to develop an audience and a name, through short films that wow you and stay with you far more viscerally than most feature length films can.

That brings us to OATS STUDIOS, a production company created by Neill Blomkamp of DISTRICT 9 and ELYSIUM fame.

I am not a fan of the feature films of Neill Blomkamp, they have wonderful core ideas, but tend to get lost under poor Hollywood casting or unnecessary backstory. However in the short film is where Blomkamp’s OATS STUDIOS shine.

Sporting cutting edge world class visual effects, great actors and performances, and big screen direction the films of OATS STUDIOS are, 30 minute or less, masterpieces of creativity and speculative fiction, of science fiction mixed with war, mixed with horror, mixed with a cautionary mirror tainted with pressing concerns, both moral and material.

 

FIREBASE

RAKKA

ZYGOTE

Those Oat Studio short films form a loose trilogy, united by a common theme of mankind pushed to the brink by powers unearthly. And the films are also united by being superlative and imaginative, and gems of 21st century short films.

FIREBASE (which I have also titled DREAMS OF THE RIVER GOD), the 2nd film released, is a little over 26 minutes, and set in Vietnam War era Vietnam… combines so many mind-blowing concepts, and creates one of the screens memorable creations, in the character of… The River God. I can see this spawning a lot of spin-off short films, set in this universe.

RAKKA, the first film released, moves several decades ahead to a world on the brink of extermination by a threat otherworldly.

and ZYGOTE, the last film released as of this writing, further still in the future, sports one of the most imaginative and horrific monsters since Carpenter’s THING. I like RAKKA but I love FIREBASE and ZYGOTE.

All this to say if you are looking for something to watch, then make it to the Oats Studios site and find the aforementioned films by Neill Blomkamp.

As of this writing they do not yet have a BLURAY up for these films, but I urge them to release one. Quality productions such as this deserve a quality Blu-Ray production with special features and director’s commentary, and not simply the ephemeral availability of websites and streaming.

Today’s Recommended short films!

 

First Great Theatrical Experience of 2017 — KONG : SKULL ISLAND in 3D!

It takes a lot to get me out to the theater these days. 2016 was one of my most anemic theater going years. Having only seen a couple movies in the theater (among them the excellent CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR).

The slow movie going year could be linked to several reasons, some personal and singular, and some endemic of larger more encompassing perspectives.

The rise of Netflix and Streaming options has brought cinema quality programming to your living room or bedroom, around your schedule. So no trying to make your schedule fit around a movie showing, and all the baggage of parking, and seats, and annoying crowds, and of course the expense.

So for those reasons and others the theater wasn’t top on my list in 2016.

2017 and I’m incentivized to see quite a few movies in the theater. One reason is the reopening of one of my favorite regional movie theaters, as an upscale adults only dinner and a movie venue.

Perfect for couples or close friends, I decided to check out a matinee showing of KONG : SKULL ISLAND over other available options at this theater (such as LOGAN and JOHN WICK II and GET OUT, all of which I intend to see) for the main reason I wanted to test out the spectacle and 3D quality of this new theater, and what better way than a loud, explosive, monster movie.

So I reserved my seats, picking the perfect seats of course, and quite impressed with their meal and drink menu. Forget the overpriced artery clogging Popcorn and Hotdogs and Candy that comprises the fare of your typical theater, this theater offered a full and quite impressive meal and drink menu, brought to your spacious clean, well kept seats, no less. We had the crabcakes, bistro burger, korean wings, with a Berry Blast drink for me and a Mocha Latte for her. And did I mention the excellent attentive service.

So we are planted in front our huge curved screen, it’s a matinee showing so not only do we have our whole row free, we have our whole section free, with probably a total of less than 20 people in the large yet intimate theater. Meaning the theater and screen is large, but the number of seats are few.

So that’s the setup. What about the movie?

The best part of the Peter Jackson 2005 KING KONG movie, was the one hour period on the island (once we get past Peter Jackson’s annoying portrayal of Native Life as monstrous, evil and subhuman), that one hour was fantastic sequences of monster and Kong Mayhem, and should have been the whole movie.

Once that movie leaves the island it loses all interest and excitement, crawling toward a tepid ending.

KONG:SKULL ISLAND, 12 years after Peter Jackson’s mistake, learns admirably from the flaws of his film, crafting an entire movie on Kong’s home, the Island of Monsters, Skull Island, and it is absolutely kick-ass!

The idea to set it in 1973, at a pivotal time for America and the World, I thought was a stroke of genius and gives real motivation to Samuel L. Jackson’s Ahab inclined character, who see’s in the monster of Kong, this fight, a chance to win the war that he was denied, to change shame into glory. I like the opening, the setup to the actual Mayhem that is Kong, quite a bit, which says a lot about the quality of the filmmaker and the film.

Usually the least interesting part of any monster movie, is the prelude to the appearance of the Monster, when you have to endure boring cardboard characters killing time. That was the issue with the GODZILLA movie by the producers of this film, it was mostly setup and concentration on the human drama, but the humans and the human drama in that movie was as of much interest as watching paint dry.

Here, the setup and the characters feel fleshed out and earned, and part of that is grounding these soldiers in 1973. Survivors, but somehow not victors. Going from one barely war abroad, to a frightening barely understood war at home awaiting them, Skull Island, is very much a reprieve to Jackson’s Colonel. And the men under him, caught in the machinations of dreams of Glory, well they are understood to.

And all the characters are quickly enlisted for this obscure mission, all powerful, compelling actors, not a Jack Black insight. But actors all who can compel and own their time onscreen… their closeups. So I’m thoroughly entertained and into the movie, before Kong goes Ape, so to speak. And when he does go Ape… it is… EPIC!!!

This is why Theaters have value in an age of Netflix and Home Theaters, because a home theater is no match for a commercial theater when you have no annoying audience to deal with, this was the fury of Kong unleashed… this was spectacle, this was Blockbuster, and this was worth every penny paid!

Should you see it in 3D? I typically find 3D is a wasted expense in most situations. I think it is expertly done here, and is really the type of movie that cries out for really good 3D. KONG is really good use of 3D, and I think like AVATAR is a must see in 3D!

KONG is only the second feature film of Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, nothing in his filmography would indicate he could handle a big budget blockbuster of a monster movie, but much like the Russo Brothers of CAPTAIN AMERICA fame (who also came out of feature film obscurity) Roberts rises to the occasion, shattering expectations.

I loved this movie from beginning to end. It blows away recent failures such as GODZILLA and the aforementioned KING KONG, and bodes well for future films. Stay past the trailer for a nice Marvel style Easter Egg.

Grade: A solid and easy B+!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Movie of the Day: WOLVES (2014) by David Hayter

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David Hayter-‘s WOLVES- I really didn’t love the trailer for WOLVES, but being a werewolf movie, my favorite genre of horror movie, I thought i’d give it a try. Initially I thought this was going in TEEN WOLF and TWILIGHT territory, but thankfully it strayed pretty quickly from that path, becoming a far better and more satisfying film than the trailers hinted at.

Combining great performances, a compelling story, outstanding direction cinematography and editing, and a stellar soundtrack, and some of the best Werewolf makeup and transformations and you have just a home-run of a film. Jason Momoa is such a galvanizing physical presence and is perfect here in his role of crazed Alpha dog.

This one I saw for free courtesy of HULU, it is an easy MUST OWN. Grade: A-.

WOLVES (2014) aka: Les Loups-Garous, CANADIAN-IMPORT, UNRATED EDITION (+ Theatrical Version) REGION A BLU-RAY

Wolves