Captain America: The First AvengerAs a person who still reads Captain America comics on a monthly basis, and has sat through the awful 1990 adaptation, I may have had slightly higher expectations for the latest version of film than the average person. Fortunately this film did not disappoint on any level. Outside of the original Iron Man, I would argue that this is the best of the solo Avenger films. Captain America: The First Avenger stays true to the comics while still managing to create an engaging cinematic experience. Even the changes they make to the story, including what happen to James “Bucky” Barnes, worked. Some may argue that the film has more story than action but it is important that director Joe Johnston took his time to ensure all the pieces in the film were fully developed. Unlike Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger feels like an actual and not just a two hour commercial for the upcoming Avengers film.
ThorIt is always nice to see Kenneth Branagh in the directors chair, but it is even better when he nails the subject matter. Personally I think this is Branagh’s best directorial effort since Hamlet. I really enjoyed how he evokes a Shakespearian-style tragedy to the overall proceedings. Chris Hemsworth is the perfect choice to play Thor as he accentuates both the character’s larger than life ego and his short comings nicely. I also really enjoyed Tom Hiddleston take on Thor’s conniving sibling Loki. Some of the supporting cast, most notably Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard, are wasted in the film. I also did not buy Skarsgard’s protective father type character to Portman’s Jane, it came off as creepy instead of caring. The last act of the film turns into your typical action film overall I thought Branagh did a good job in making an entertaining superhero film.
Green LanternIn a year that saw four major comic book inspired films released within months of each other, Green Lantern is by far the dullest of the bunch. If you have seen the animated film Green Lantern: First Flight than you have pretty much seen this film…just done way better. Granted I have never been a huge Green Lantern fan, but I have read enough of the comics to understand the character and his motivations. Unfortunately this film is an origin story that feels like it is merely going through the motions so that it can set up the sequel, which is the film that we all wanted to see in the first place. Ryan Reynolds is decent as Hal Jordan and Mark Strong makes a great Sinestro. However the script and the special effects do nothing to elevate the film from being a sleep inducing mess.
Punisher: War ZoneThis may come off as a backhanded compliment, but Lexi Alexander’s film Punisher: War Zone is by far the best of the three Punisher films. It is the closest Marvel will ever get to having a commercially accessible Punisher film. If you really think about it, the Punisher is a psychotic hero who takes pleasure in disposing of his enemies in the most violent way possible. Alexander grasps this perfectly as she crafts a film that is both violent and morbidly entertaining. She understands that both the Punisher and his enemies, in this case Jigsaw (Dominic West), are essentially cartoonish characters in their own way. Ray Stevenson is solid as the Punisher and tries his best to bring some depth to the role. Of course, being a Punisher film, the movie is rather forgettable an hour or so after viewing. This is ultimately due to the fact that the Punisher is rather one note even by comic book standards.