Tagged: Marvel

Film review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I wasn’t going to watch this but it came highly recommended by some comic-loving friends so I checked it out.

This is visually stunning, has a great story, has a vibrancy and energy all of its own and must instantly go down as one of the great superhero movies.

I was completely blown away.

• Spare Cycles: Marvel Cinematic Universe: movie reviews Assembled

Mini review: “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman (audiobook edition)

For this audiobook Neil Gaiman reads his own work but in this case he is the “story teller” rather than the “narrator”. It is like he is recounting the stories he loves. They are made for speaking aloud and passing on to others.

They can come over as quite simple but I get the impression that he has chosen his words very carefully in the retelling – to get to the essence of the stories and make them accessible to people today.

I can imagine taking an evening to listen to this book from beginning to end, in front of a fire with a glass or two of red wine. In fact, that would be a perfect way to experience these tales.

Film review: Captain Marvel

I’ve managed to catch this at the cinema before it leaves the big screen – I was surprised to still find showings after a few months on release – but I guess there are still people like me who wanted to catch up after seeing Avengers: Endgame.

In my review of Avengers: Endgame I said:

The character Captain Marvel played a significant part in this film and I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to see her own film before Endgame came out. Not knowing Captain Marvel’s background story did not affect my enjoyment of Endgame but it would have been better to have seen it beforehand. Bear in mind that the Captain Marvel film came out less than 2 months before Endgame and was not getting stellar reviews so I did not rush to see it (opportunity is also a factor). Contrast that to the release of Black Panther, which was also released only a couple of months before Infinity War, where the reviews were excellent and I made sure that I saw it in the cinema.

A lack of buzz around the film meant that I overlooked it. I also thought that it was really late in the MCU series to introduce a major character.

However, after a bit of a muddled start, I really enjoyed the film. For staunch MCU fans there is a lot to recommend the film – it is as much a film about Nick Fury as Captain Marvel and answers a number of questions that I didn’t realise I had, such as how Fury lost his eye and how the Avengers got their name.

If you haven’t seen it – and especially if you haven’t seen Endgame yet – it is well worth checking out (it’s always best to see the series in order of release and, as ever, stick around for the credits). Is it up there with your “Iron Man”, “Infinity War” or “Black Panther”? No. Does it feature in the second rung of very solid episodes like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”? Yes indeed.

Film review: Avengers: Endgame

I was completely blown away by the ending of the last Avengers film – Infinity War – and wondered how they were going to follow it up given that half of all life in the universe had been wiped out, including many of Marvel’s main characters.

This is a suitable ending to this Phase – it ties up the stories of all the main characters (as far as I see) and it is certainly a spectacle. The big battle scene is truly astounding in its scale and if I knew that was coming I would have booked an IMAX showing. You also get your money’s worth – the amount of talent on-screen at any one time would bankrupt most movie studios.

I was disappointed in one aspect of the story line and that was the use of time travel. I knew going into the film that all the superheroes who had been erased in an instant could not possibly remain dead (there are sequels to make…) but having Tony Stark invent time travel at short notice left me feeling a little short-changed. If this was a possibility then why wasn’t it considered in an earlier film to prevent Thanos from collecting all the Infinity Stones in the first place?

I know that this is “just a superhero movie”, and I can’t really see any other way out of the situation where you have previously killed off a lot of the stars of your multi-billion dollar franchise, but still…

Overall, this is a really good film and a fitting ending to the “Infinity Saga”. I wonder if we’ll see any more Avengers-branded movies or whether Marvel will just carry on with the regular series (Spider-Man, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy etc) and mix in other characters, as they did in Captain America: Civil War?

There are a few other points I’d like to make:

With a running time of 3 hours, this felt like two films tacked back to back. That’s not to say that the movie dragged in any way – there was a lot of story to tell. The film took it’s time initially to deal with the emotional impact of the ending of Infinity War and I think that was right.

The character Captain Marvel played a significant part in this film and I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to see her own film before Endgame came out. Not knowing Captain Marvel’s background story did not affect my enjoyment of Endgame but it would have been better to have seen it beforehand. Bear in mind that the Captain Marvel film came out less than 2 months before Endgame and was not getting stellar reviews so I did not rush to see it (opportunity is also a factor). Contrast that to the release of Black Panther, which was also released only a couple of months before Infinity War, where the reviews were excellent and I made sure that I saw it in the cinema.

Finally, you have to acknowledge the achievement that Marvel has managed to pull off. Avengers: Endgame is the 22nd film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with more to come, and the vast majority have been really good films, with strong casts and excellent special effects. The regularity with which they have been able to release the films and the extent to which they tie in with one another is astounding, especially when you consider that this has been achieved in just 11 years. Not to mention the level of popularity – 5 of the current top 10 highest-grossing films of all time come from the MCU.

Film review: Black Panther


Without doubt this is up there with the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Good science fiction can allow you to reflect on the real world in new ways. This ties in some of America’s past sins whilst also offering some parallels with our current political climate.

The film has received glowing reviews everywhere, is a huge financial success (this could be the highest-grossing film of the year, out-earning even Avengers – Infinity War) and has elevated a little-known comic book character into the public consciousness.

If someone wanted to find out what all the fuss is about with these Marvel films, I’d recommend that they start here.

• Spare Cycles: Marvel Cinematic Universe: movie reviews Assembled

• Empire: Black Panther review

• The Guardian:  Black Panther review – Marvel’s thrilling vision of the afrofuture

• The Atlantic: The Game-Changing Success of Black Panther

• The Numbers: Top Grossing Movies of 2018

Film review: Avengers – Infinity War



Now that was off the scale…

Where do they go from here?

Also, as ever, stick around to the end of the credits.

• Spare Cycles: Marvel Cinematic Universe: movie reviews Assembled

• Empire: Avengers: Infinity War Review

Marvel Cinematic Universe: movie reviews Assembled

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I had a bit of a strange experience when on holiday in Spain earlier this year. In the town I was staying there was an advert for an open air screening of “Captain America”. Nice. It did not say which Captain America film, but a QR code took you to a YouTube trailer for The Winter Soldier (Captain America 2). I hadn’t seen it, so I went along.

In the end, I missed the first 30 minutes of the film, so I assumed it was The Winter Soldier.

When I got back to the UK, I watched The Winter Soldier, in English this time. It was not the film I saw in Spain. I then watched Civil War (Captain America 3) and it was awfully familiar.

I really enjoyed both films, so I decided to prolong my stay in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and watch a few more.

A few things to add:

1) I’m certainly no expert and I couldn’t explain all the intricacies of the plots.

2) Never stop watching before the end of the credits – there are twists and links to the next film(s) that you should not miss…

3) It’s best to watch these films in order. Where I have become confused, it is typically because something has happened in a previous film that I hadn’t seen.

4) I still haven’t seen all the films (I’m putting off  Thor: The Dark World as long as possible) …and there are several more still to be released.

So here we go, in the order that the films were released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

Iron Man: here

Iron Man 2: here

Thor: Crap

Captain America: The First Avenger:

Pretty good, not as good as the following Captain America films. Benefits from a re-watch after seeing the two sequels.

Avengers Assemble: here

Iron Man 3: here

Captain America: The Winter Soldier:

Up there with Iron Man as the best of the films in the MCU, we discover that S.H.I.E.L.D has been infiltrated by the enemy and that Captain America’s best friend has been turned into a brainwashed killer. It’s effectively part 1 of a story that concludes with the third film in the series, Civil War.

Guardians of the Galaxy:

A move away from straight superhero fare, this is an enjoyable sci-fi flick. You find out more about the Infinity Stones – these have appeared in some of the earlier films too. I look forward to seeing the sequel.

Avengers: Age of Ultron:

This was a disappointment, especially as I had really enjoyed the first Avengers movie. The film looks like a video game, especially during the action at the beginning. The Hulk has to be included but there is little character there to develop and the idea of a romantic relationship building between Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) and Bruce Banner (Hulk) seems far-fetched, is unconvincing, lacks any spark and leaves me a bit queasy.

The idea of sowing discontent between the Avengers is a good idea and leads nicely into the events of Captain America: Civil War. It is also essential to see this before Civil War, as there are a couple of characters that appear here for the first time.


Another fun offshoot of the main series about a lesser known character. This explains how Ant-Man pops up (and down) in Captain America: Civil War – which comes up next. I think the film’s sequel – Ant-Man and the Wasp – could be better. The Wasp (who features here, in a way) is actually the more interesting character.

Captain America: Civil War:

This may as well be another Avengers ensemble movie given the huge cast that appear from elsewhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Some of the characters that appear in this film appear for the first time in other films and if you haven’t seen them you will be somewhat lost. I had no idea who some of the characters were because I originally saw this straight after Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Not having watched Avengers: Age of Ultron first meant that people such as Wanda Maximoff (the Scarlet Witch) and Vision featured heavily but were not introduced in any way.

Still, very good.

Doctor Strange:

It was going to happen at some point: Benedict Cumberbatch would appear in the MCU. Some things are inevitable.

It’s a shame that he is so miscast – why have such a prototypical Brit playing an American?  We all know he doesn’t sound like that.  Martin Freeman does it too but in a much smaller role in other films.

Whilst the film is visually impressive (lots of Inception-style folding environments), it lacks something.  Perhaps the main character just isn’t that strong or interesting.

Marvel has shown that you can make good or great films based on characters that are not so well known (Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Black Panther…).  This just isn’t one of them.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2:

Lots of fun but I got the impression that they needed to do a sequel pretty quickly and came up with this. This deals with the main character Peter Quill discovering who his dad is, only to find out that he is a) a god and b) an arsehole. It’s hard to see at this point how this integrates into the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe – maybe the next Avengers film?

Spider-Man: Homecoming:

This was better than I was expecting and was a lot of fun.  Spider-Man first made an appearance in the MCU in Captain America: Civil War and here the adolescent Peter Parker gets some help from Tony Stark, in particular a new outfit that has some rather impressive features.  New York looks great.  You can’t go wrong with this – it’s light-hearted, has a decent enough plot and serves as a good introduction of Spider-man into the Marvel Universe.  I’m looking forward to seeing how they use him in the next Avengers film.

Thor: Ragnarok:

Now this is how to do a Thor film – funny, light-hearted, non-stop. Preposterous, but who cares?

Black Panther: here

Avengers: Infinity War: here

Ant-Man and the Wasp:

I don’t get a lot out of these Ant-Man films –  there’s not really enough plot there to warrant the attention. In my view Marvel just needs to have the characters around for the Avengers ensemble pieces.  Having said that, this sequel is better than the original. The final scene is the best – a good bridge between Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.

Captain Marvel: here

Avengers: Endgame: here

Film: Iron Man 3


After the events of Avengers Assemble, Tony is having a few issues.  Add that to a new villan blowing the shit out of his house and he is not having the best of times.

Things have been ramped up nicely as a result of this being the three-quel, and it all looks great.  It’s a lot of fun… as good as the first film.

Roll on the next one (or Avengers 2).  Unfortunately the next Marvel film in the Avengers universe is Thor 2,  a shame as the first one was crap and I don’t expect much more from the new installment.

A couple of hints:  don’t forget to stay with it till the end of the credits…  and the DVD has some good features too, including Marvel’s One Shot: Agent Carter.

Also see:

• Spare Cycles:  Film: Avengers Assemble

• Spare Cycles:   Film: Iron Man

• Spare Cycles:   Film: Mini-review: Iron Man 2