Prettiest Live Action Movies

Here’s a fun topic, a list of the “prettiest” ever live action movies. They have to be gorgeous on their own merits, plot aside. I’m looking for outstanding visuals. [pullquote]What qualifies as pretty? Lots of color, slick visual or computer generated effects that stand up through time, creative set-pieces, stylish direction, and lavish location scenery.[/pullquote] If you leave a theater thinking, “Wow! That was stunning,” then it’s a contender.

You’ll notice that most of the following are in sci-fi and fantasy genres, which is a viewing bias some of us at RunPee have. Help out in the comments so I may add more to this ongoing list. NOTE: Linked titles go to our movie reviews.
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Well, there’s our short list, ready for you to add your opinions to. What are we missing? Where do you disagree?

Mark Ruffalo Sneaks in a Hulk Movie

We’ve had two prior Hulk movies no one was happy with, and then Avengers rolled around. [pullquote position=”right”]Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk was the one we’ve been waiting for, gifting us with a charming, quietly surprising underdog in his version of Bruce Banner.[/pullquote] His friendship with Tony Stark enchanted, matching Robert Downy Jr.’s alpha male character unassumingly, while Banner’s tender, unexpected, and  tentative relationship with Black Widow was satisfyingly organic (if completely up in the air at this point).

Suffice to say Ruffalo could sell the big green goods in a way no one since the 1970s could, when the combo of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno touched us via small screen.

All well and fine. So, will we finally we get a proper Hulk stand-alone movie? Apparently there are rights issues. Spiderman had rights issues, and it worked out eventually with Marvel’s Civil War and Homecoming. But at this point in the MCU (Phase Whatever), I’m not sure a Hulk standalone would fit. He’s shown up in an outstanding co-starring role for Thor: Ragnarok, and Hulk’s story will continue through Avengers 3 and 4 (the Infinity Wars).

According to this quick interview below, Hulk gets a “mini-movie” snuck in, spread out over the course of other Marvel ensembles. I guess we’ll have to be content with that. If Ruffalo is fine with it, we can be too.

So…for Thor 3 – Ragnarok…Rotten Tomatoes has it rated among the highest-rated Marvel films yet. Our two RunPee Ragnarok reviews (here and here) rate it in the A to A+ range, and we agree it’s a magnificent addition to the MCU. [pullquote position=”right”]Thor’s Ragnarok is hysterically weird and beautiful, with a great plot and stylish characterization.[/pullquote] It’s also got a direct lead-in to Thanos’ big entrance. A must-see before Avengers – Infinity Wars!

Where the Hulk will continue his “mini-movie” is anyone’s guess, now that we know Bruce and the Green Guy are at dire odds in their uneasy connection.  We’ll probably see Bruce Hulk out again…but at what cost?

How would you continue — or possibly end — this story? And will a Black Widow romance be a part of it? We find out part of these answers during the first part of Avengers: Infinity Wars. Soon, friends, soon.

Read More Marvel-Related Articles on RunPee.com

 

Best Movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Up to Thor: Ragnarok)

Here’s RunPee Jilly’s list of the best-to-worst films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since so many of these movies are good, and there are so many of them, I’ve chosen to rank the films by “tier”. Top Tier, Middle Tier, and Bottom Tier. (And one that is simply Bad.) I’m not going to stress over exactly which ones are better than the others within the tiers.

Keep in mind this list only goes as far as The Black Panther at this point in time. This is pre-Infinity Wars. Keep mindful also: this is my personal opinion of the best/worst MCU films — I expect everyone will have their own list. Scribble down your top to bottom tiers in the comments below.

Top Tier

These are the BEST MCU offerings, IMO (of course). The most cohesive plots, solid connections to the through-story, best character pieces (whether solo or in ensemble form), prettiest filmation/scenery, and most enjoyable films that hold up to re-watches. [pullquote position=”right”]Notice that the ensemble pieces largely wound up on top.[/pullquote]

  • Avengers: Assemble — (Top notch; Joss Whedon got everything right. Including Shwarma, mmmmm.)
  • Captain America: Civil War — (Basically an Avengers ensemble piece, and perfectly executed. The airport set piece is as good as the hype surrounding it. More like this, please!)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1 — (My personal favorite movie in the entire MCU. And one of my new top five all-time films. I need this movie when I feel down. The humor, characters, music, and general story are everything I look for in a fun, feel-good, groovy film.)
  • Thor 3: Ragnarok — (I have to admit, I didn’t think anything in the MCU would approach the likability factor of GotG 1. Well…this one does. Chris Hemsworth is hysterical, for one thing. And while ostensibly a solo film for Thor, it’s more like an ensemble piece for the spacefaring MCU characters. I expect the Grandmaster’s ship  – nay, now Thor’s ship – is how we scoop up the Guardians in time for Infinity Wars.)
  • Spiderman: Homecoming — (Everything in this movie went right. And the villain, usually the sore spot in the MCU, just rocked it! <—- finally)
  • Black Panther — (Beautiful scenery, good characters, solid storytelling and a compelling connection to the larger universe).
  • Iron Man 1 — (The movie that kickstarted the entire decade’s-worth franchise…and rebooted the bank-ability factor to a personable, funny, and charismatic star that redefined how Superhero films could be writ. [pullquote]Can’t forget this moment: “I am Iron Man.” And the world leaned back in their seats, satisfied.[/pullquote])

Middle Tier

  •  Captain America: The Winter Soldier — (I know. This one is top tier for many. As a spy movie, it’s just not to my taste, and this is MY list.)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 — (I wanted to place this one in the top tier, but will concede it doesn’t hit all the marks it should have. If the first GotG is perfect, this one does show up and make the effort, in spite of not quite getting somewhere great.)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron — (Another one just shy of greatness. I wanted to place it top tier, but there are just better ones to choose from.)
  • Ant-Man — (not an ‘epic story’, but fun ‘small tale’ with decent humor and a strong likability factor.)

Bottom Tier

  • Thor 1 — (Not a bad movie; just not awesome. The MCU was still figuring out their formula.)
  • Thor 2: The Dark World — (This one is easily one of the least exciting Marvel films, but on a rewatch it’s better served.)
  • Iron Man 2 — (Dull.)
  • Iron Man 3 — (Dull again, bummer.)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger — (It’s okay. Like Thor, movies with Cap improve as his trilogy progresses.)
  • Dr. Strange — (I wish I could place this one higher. It’s just a bit derivative and…well…strange. Not likable or particularly exciting…but we HAD to have the Gem of Amarra in place for Avengers: Infinity War).

Just Bad

  • The Incredible Hulk — (Edward Norton’s outing is the bottom of the MCU barrel. I can’t even sit through this film in its entirety. I’m ashamed to admit it…but, well, there it is. I love Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, but anyone else falls flat.)

MCU Movie Rewatch – Thor 2: The Dark World

I was surprised at how easy Thor 2 was to re-watch. I remember it as “the boring installment.” It’s still not exciting on the level of the top tier of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Avengers, Civil War, Black Panther and Thor’s own 3 – Ragnarok). Making myself even more clear, The Dark World is still a bottom-tier MCU movie…it’s just not as excruciating as I recall it being. It’s really pretty (with a sort of Lord of the Rings “lite” essence), there’s a a lot more plot and humor than I remembered, and the story hangs together pretty well.

So it’s worth watching for more than just pretty guys in capes! And if you are doing a re-watch to get ready for the Infinity Wars (part 1) coming up April 27th, 2018, The Dark World is kind of unmissable. Want to know where the Infinity Gems are? This one’s crucial. Making a guess that we’ll see The Collector again? Again, you have to catch this one. You’ll learn more about the Aether (the singular, non-solid Infinity Gem) than any other “stone” in the series.

Another thing that stood in hindsight: [pullquote position=”right”]at this point in the MCU the directors clearly haven’t figured out just how FUNNY Chris Hemsworth is.[/pullquote] All the humor goes to Loki and Darcy in The Dark World. Which is a pity — we get to see Hemsworth’s wonderful comedic timing in the ensemble pieces, one-shot webisodes, and Thor: Ragnarok. I wish they could go back in time (Dr. Strange could help out) and tweak Thor 1 and 2 for more comedic beats and a lighter tone.

Loki stands out here, as he does in any scene that he promptly steals. Eric Selvig put in a lovely turn (he got some of the funny as well), and this seems to be the last we see of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, or Darcy (or her intern).

I’ve heard Portman didn’t like working on Marvel films, so writing her out is probably for the best, and this frees up Thor to date Lady Sif, or Valkyrie, or perhaps Captain Marvel herself. Hey, why not even The Grandmaster, with whom, last we heard, is now bunking with Thor’s old housemate, Darryl.

What’s the takeaway for The Dark World? The Dark Elves aren’t important to the grand sweep of the Infinity Stone Saga. Jane and Darcy don’t matter. Erik still has a place on the science team (and here we find out he thinks better without his pants on). Loki both can and can’t be trusted. Thor Odinson has extremely dysfunctional family issues. And the Aether is (safely?) in the storerooms of The Collector. That’s it.

Skip this film if you’re in a hurry and you’ll be fine with that bit of info, unless you’re fascinated by the Infinity Stones/intrigued by the unusual form the Aether takes (which looks like a red “Obscurial”, a la Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them).

Ranking The Star Wars Films

Suffice to warn you now, there are spoilers ahead, through to Rogue One. NOTE as of November 2018: now this is current though Solo: A Star Wars Story…

  1. The Empire Strikes Back easily wins the top placement in the Star Wars franchise. It’s got everything: adventure, humor, romance, exciting space action that still holds up after all this time, and outrageous reveals. I never get tired of watching this film. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen it.
  2. A New Hope runs very closely to the number one spot — clipping its heels, as it were. It started off the whole mythology with a masterful, iconic adventure story. It’s an almost perfect movie.
  3. The Force Awakens – I wanted to cry with happiness when TFA premiered. It was Star Wars to me, finally! After decades of slogging through disappointment from the prequels, the joyous universe I first fell for was back. The new characters were fantastic, the humor worked, and everything was oh-so-pretty. I’m an absolute fan. While some say — correctly — that this is a rehash of A New Hope, I see it as a plus. The fun was baked in, and it felt like coming home.
  4. Solo – So sue me: I loved it. A sweet young Han, a sort-of young Chewie (he’s only 190 years old), an adorably charming Lando, and a spotless Millennium Falcon; what’s not to love? It’s a small stakes story that doesn’t bother with a Death Star/Starkiller Base/planet killing weapon (I think this is a first), and while Bad Things Happen, there’s an undeniable sense of joy and fun. Plus, it features the best villain this side of Vader himself. Watch it again, and “Let go, Luke.”
  5. The Last Jedi – Another divisive choice, but TLJ is undeniably pretty, absorbing, and provides a satisfying send-off for Luke. While the “casino” scenes and Poe Dameron mutiny subplots are lacking, the Rey/Luke and Rey/Kylo scenes are, for a better word, outstanding. I can only hope that the final film in the Skywalker series is worth the wait.
  6. Rogue One – Unlike some of the previous movies, Rogue One was not fun, joyous, or happy. I mean (SPOILERS….), everyone dies. Honestly, “I had a bad feeling about this” going in (of course no one makes it — we never see them in the Original Trilogy). The sad part is that I kind of didn’t care. Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, and Rogue One’s ragtag crew…we didn’t get to really know them. This story, however, works almost seamlessly in the Star Wars universe, providing clues that the rebels weren’t as squeaky clean as we’d imagined. Sarcastic, sociopathic K-2SO is the funniest droid we’re likely to see. I also liked the force sensitive “Space Husbands” (Baze and Chirrut). [pullquote position=”right”]The Vader fight scene at the end, the desperate pass-off of the data tape, the lead-in to A New Hope: worth the price of admission, right there.  The Death Star destruction sequences were extremely compelling, making that weapon truly frightening in a way the other movies didn’t.[/pullquote]
  7. Return of the Jedi – I wish I could place this higher. The opening rescue of Han from Jabba’s palace is pure gold. After that, it goes downhill fast. Han becomes an anti-version of himself; Leia is pensive and moody; Luke is inscrutable (and not in a intriguing way). It doesn’t really work, and the Ewoks still piss me off. The jokes are stale, the action sequences middling…but it’s still better than the prequels. Damning with faint praise?
  8. Phantom Menace – Many people probably rank this one last, saying it “ruined” Star Wars. I myself was hugely disappointed with this when it came out. Over the years, though, it’s taken on a nicer sheen. I love Qui-Gon; young Obi-Won was perfect, and there are some amazing set pieces. The Pod Race scene is great, Naboo is beautiful, the Padme/Queen storyline was compelling, and the Duel of the Fates climax with Darth Maul is the best lightsaber fight in the entire saga. As for the hated Jar Jar, the terrible Midiclorians, and that poor Anakin kid with the terrible Yippee lines: I learned to ignore them, and just watch the moments that had the right feel for the SW Universe. It’s a really pretty movie, and Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon is the best Jedi we see throughout the series.
  9. Revenge of the Sith – I honestly don’t remember much about this entire film. Maybe that’s a good thing. I never put it on re-watch. It played like a war documentary…and only felt like Star Wars in the last half hour. But it was a great last half hour, with the long-awaited payoff on the lava planet (Okay, good except for the wretched”Nooooooooo,” after “Where’s Padme?”). And the dying from sorrow bit? It doesn’t work that way. I think a lot of people felt RotS made the prequels better. I really don’t think they’re fixable. But then, I grew up with the Classic movies, so I’m just an old fart you can safely ignore. 🙂
  10. Attack of the Clones – This one is mostly dreck. I like the arena fight scene — great set-piece — and the stuff on Camino (the water planet). Coruscant is neat, and the early scenes of fighting on the flying cars — pretty darn cool. But the entire romance was bad. Simply, plainly bad. Bad like sand! I don’t get why Padme is interested in this whiny child. Who is Dooku, again? What is the plot about? There are clones, there are trade negotiations, and a whole lot of nothing.

I know everyone’s list will be different. Ultimately, any Star Wars is better than most sci-fi out there.

New Black Panther Trailer is Fantastic – Watch the Video Show Off Wakanda

wakanda and black panther
Wakanda – A utopia of peace, plenty, and magical high tech.

I saw the new Black Panther trailer when I went to see Thor  – Ragnarok, and it looks GORGEOUS. Sumptuous. Luxuriously detailed and kind of intense. Seriously, I could watch this preview all day.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe sure knows how to create anticipation for their constellation of movies. It’s all about the story, and the producers keep me wanting more, and wanting it now. I’m shocked to find I’m more into the MCU than the Star Wars films (I’m and a true geek who waited in line for hours back in 1978, to see the original Star Wars in the theater…at least a dozen times).

Anyway. Watch this Black Panther trailer and enjoy!

Movie Review – Black Panther – One Incredible Party

A Black Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther

All The Stars – End Credits Song from Black Panther – Video and Lyrics