The Victor Garber-looking prosecutor is Jason Clarke – he ruins Oppenheimer’s career in 1954, sent by Atomic Energy Commissioner Robert Downey Jr, whose own career is then ruined by Oppenheimer-loyal scientists in a cabinet non-confirmation hearing in 1959.

Florence Pugh is here to have a steamy affair with Oppy, and Emily Blunt plays the steaming mad wife. General Matt Damon helps link to Nolan’s other film involving black holes. This inverts Interstellar by placing its avant-science imagery over the early backstory segments and saving the real-world tedium for the final hour – an extraordinarily talky movie. I’d willingly watch it again, but if I can spare three hours for Cillian Murphy movies, I might just watch Red Eye twice.

One of the better Disney/Marvel superhero movies (not counting the X-Men, which are almost all better than the infinity-stone saga, or whatever we’ll ultimately call these things). After a few civilian deaths are caused while saving the entire planet from certain destruction, everyone is angry at the superheroes and propose they be commanded by the UN instead of by an absent Sam Jackson (maybe he’s dead – someone mentioned the collapse of SHIELD?). While this is happening, Captain America’s old buddy The Winter Soldier (I missed the last movie, but he seems to be a Manchurian Candidate version of the Captain with an iron arm instead of a magic shield) is framed for killing an African king. The Captain wants to check in with his friend before antiterror squads kill him, but Iron Man says no, we have to let the UN tell us when/where to intervene, and an Avengers-rift is formed – a loud, punchy rift! These guys solve all of their problems through punching. Also it’s a three-hour movie with few interestingly-shot action scenes and no memorable images (no wonder it opened with a Bourne sequel trailer).

So, let’s see, UN Iron Man is joined by his buddy War Machine, Black Widow, Vision, the dead king’s son Black Panther, and a newly-recruited teenage Spider-Man

And the Captain is joined by his buddy Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Falcon and Ant-Man. So it’s six on six. No Thor or Hulk or Loki or Gwyneth Paltrow this time.

I guess the Captain’s team wins – it’s his movie, after all, and Black Widow defects at the last minute, War Machine is badly hurt, and Black Panther is pretty cool about accepting the truth that Winter Soldier didn’t really kill his dad, but in a weird twist, Iron Man is angry when it turns out Winter Soldier actually killed HIS dad. All this mayhem was somehow orchestrated by an anti-superhero crusader called Zemo, who despite his supervillain name is just a regular guy.

These Russo brothers made the last Capt. America and I guess are making the next two Avengers. Before all this happened, they were best known for You, Me and Dupree. I would’ve already covered most of these heroes in my Avengers 2 writeup but I apparently chose to make a point about how forgettable a movie it was instead. New (to me): Winter Soldier is Sebastian Stan (The Martian), Black Panther is Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson in 42), Spider-Man is Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z, Broadway’s Billy Elliot) and the evil Zemo is Daniel Bruhl (the nazi war hero/actor in Inglorious Basterds).

Jen Chaney:

[Civil War] doesn’t contain a moment that enables the audience to emotionally relate to the characters the way Spider-Man 2 did. It entertains, but it doesn’t transport to the degree that, say, The Dark Knight or even Superman: The Movie did … it’s a sign that the bigger the mob of infighting superheroes gets, the more difficult it becomes to leave a space in the crowd and let the audience in, too.

Simple, straightforward, obvious movie full of affable people, a pleasant diversion with some delicious-looking food but probably not even as great/interesting as something like Waitress.

Favreau’s smallest film in over a decade, but probably didn’t feel small since he was writer/director/producer/star/cook. Although it might’ve been ghostwritten by Twitter. His movie star friends come along – Avengers Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. play his restaurant hostess and ex-wife’s ex-husband. Sofia Vergara (vengeful brothel mistress of Machete Kills) is the still-friendly ex-wife, Dustin Hoffman the chef’s boss, Oliver Platt the restaurant critic who sends Favreau on a road-trip journey of self-discovery, starting from scratch and remembering what he loved about cooking (alongside longtime assistant John Leguizamo) and reconnecting with his favorite regional dishes and his 10-year-old son and ex-wife and finally making up with the critic (but not with Dustin Hoffman) and opening his own place and getting remarried.

I was so glad to see a high-quality big-budget comic movie for once, enjoying the story and the evil Russian with a whip and Sam Rockwell trying to outdo Tony Stark as a self-obsessed showman (the movie never lets us forget that Tony, despite his braggadocio, has humanity’s best interests at heart). Then Samuel L. Exposition came along and ruined it. Nothing against Mr. Jackson – he can be awesome – but why cast him in a momentum-killing non-awesome long dialogue scene in a donut shop? After this, the movie wastes a lot of time on Scarlett Johansson’s Avengers character, as if we know or care who the hell she is, plus gives Rourke a go-nowhere back-story, doesn’t punish Cheadle for stealing an Iron Man suit and giving it to the transparently evil Rockwell, and provides Downey with a happy-meal redemption from his so-called dark days (ooh, he’s drunk on his birthday) and a permanent cure for the illness that’s supposedly afflicting him (Katy and I forget some origin-story details from part one). It falls into fragments and never reattains its pre-Samuel-L innocence. Anyway, I liked Mickey Rourke’s electric whip and parts of the final fight scene. And the cockatoo. Katy likes Gwyneth Paltrow, but not as much as in the first movie.

Weirdness: this was written by Justin Theroux of Mulholland Dr. He and Favreau (who cast himself as comic relief) must not have a thing for comic superhero names, since I didn’t know that Mickey Rourke was supposed to be called Whiplash (or Don Cheadle “War Machine” or Scarlett Johansson “Black Widow”) until IMDB told me. A post-credits scene sets up THOR, which we’ll watch some weekday night as soon as it’s free.

Found this on Videodrome’s Christmas shelf and couldn’t resist. Completely fun movie with Robert Downey Jr. as a thief playing actor playing detective and Val Kilmer as a gay detective playing acting coach. It’s an action-comedy with snappy dialogue, but since those were way out of fashion in 2005, it’s a meta-action-comedy with snappy dialogue, featuring pauses and rewinds and lots of narration and self-conscious movie-cliche jokes. Somehow this all works and doesn’t annoy the shit out of me, which is what I’d imagine it would do if I were reading this instead of watching the movie.

Anyway, Downey gets the girl (Michelle Monaghan of Mission Impossible III) and they collectively take out the bad rich guy (Corbin Bernsen!) and his henchmen (incl. Dash “Doll in Thin Red Line” Mihok and Shannyn “One Missed Call Remake” Sossamon). Katy liked it but didn’t think Val Kilmer was a very convincing gay detective.

A good comic superhero movie, completely predictable and without anything special to recommend it over all other decent comic superhero movie except having totally likeable lead actors with lots of light humorous banter. Turns out that’s a pretty big deal, because the movie is being very well received. I certainly wasn’t disappointed… it’s a good time at the movies.

Katy appreciated the bits of Lord of War thrown in, with RD Jr’s weapons company making higher profits by selling arms (with STARK INDUSTRIES proudly stamped across them) to evil foreigners under the table. This is the work of transparently evil company man Jeff Bridges, who’s pretty good as a bad guy, and who eventually builds his own iron suit for a showdown that I don’t remember too well cuz it was 2am on a weeknight by then. Gotta hand it to Gwyneth Paltrow, in her best comic role since Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Don’t necessarily got to hand anything to Terrence Howard, who is very good, but keeps appearing in thankless sidekick roles in big movies.

Jon Favreau gave himself a bit part (think he had a couple lines). Funny, I thought he directed Swingers, but that was done by Doug Liman, who also had a big sequel-spawning sfx-action hit this year with Jumper. That’s something nobody saw coming in 1996!

Has David Fincher settled down? After a longer wait than ever between movies, Zodiac is almost a classical Hollywood film, not as showoffy as his others. Only showoffy bits were a Grand Theft Auto 2 perfect top-down cab follow, and some text-in-the-scenery which is just repeated from Fight Club’s Ikea catalog scene. Not that I’m complaining – he’s gone and made a great movie without tricky editing or twist endings or cameras flying through banisters.

We see most of the suspected Zodiac killings as they happen, and see the newspaper’s and police department’s reactions to the letters he sends, but since Zodiac was never caught, the movie doesn’t stop, barrelling forward in time all the way to the 90’s (starts in summer 1969). So it’s long, but it has a lot to cover and never drags.

Movie’s not “about” the Zodiac events so much as three characters surrounding it… newsman Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr, using both his physical comic acting and his drunken depraved acting in one meaty role), detective David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo, harder to track without the Eternal Sunshine beard) and cartoonist turned Zodiac obsessive Robert Graysmith (Donnie Darko, our central character if the movie has one).

Most impressive opening credits since A Prairie Home Companion. The three stars, then Anthony Edwards and Dermot Mulroney, whoever they are, plus Chloe Sevigny as Donnie’s wife, Brian Cox and Philip Baker Hall as guest experts, Elias Koteas and Donal Logue as cops, and Mr. Show’s John Ennis in one scene. I was too distracted by seeing Ennis in this movie to even realize who he was playing.

Based on the book by Robert Graysmith himself – probably the only Zodiac movie you’ll ever need. Funny, this coming out within a year of The Black Dahlia, a movie that starts with the facts, follows the same trajectory of the cops refusing to let the case go, working on it to the point of their lives falling apart, but then goes into fantasy territory with them finding a ludicrous resolution to the still-unsolved case. De Palma’s boasts a more inventive script and more inventive shooting style, but Fincher’s, sticking close to the facts and presenting them straightforward, is at least that movie’s match. I think most critics far preferred the Fincher to the De Palma, because they have no imagination or sense of fun.

Yay, exactly lives up to expectations. Great adaptation of the book, great casting and animation and interpretation. Which means it gets fully depressing at the end, and makes me sad just to think about it. Sits inside the mind of a drug addict and tears his mind apart, turns it into not just a paranoid government conspiracy but a small-scale personal tragedy. Amazingly, unexpectedly, Linklater casts his jovial stoner hero from Dazed & Confused as the first addict whose mind falls apart… seems like a personal comment thrown into what is otherwise PK Dick’s vision (even including Dick’s list of dedications from the end of the book).

“We were all very happy for a while, sitting around not toiling but just bullshitting and playing, but it was for such a terrible brief time, and then the punishment was beyond belief.” “There is no moral to this novel; it is not bourgeois; it does not say they were wrong to play when they should have toiled; it just tells what the consequences were.” – PK Dick