Alice Through the Looking Glass is a Nonsensical Journey

Alice-through-looking-glassAlice has to travel through time while being chased by Time and his aggressively associated puns in order to save her friend The Hatter. He is literally fading fast and the only one who can save him is Alice.

Meanwhile, back at home Alice is faced with being deemed cray after Haymish takes over his father’s company and relegates Alice to the role of clerk, even though she had spent the last year captaining her ship Wonder.

If you were hoping for a movie true to the original Through the Looking Glass story, this is not it. However, if you were looking for a whirlwind adventure with overwhelming and beautiful detail, this is a good place to start.

Full disclosure, I loved the first one of these movies and I am a major Alice buff. That being said I love the feeling of Wonderland and the idea that anything can be possible.

The storyline of this movie wanders like an untrained dog and somewhere in the middle it gets a little lost, but it finds its way back to us by the end. In true Disney fashion all works out, which if that’s a spoiler I’m concerned for you. However, while the storyline is less than convincing the new places we discover along the way are mystical and combine everything we love about Wonderland. It’s one part fantasy and two parts madness, combining ideas from the first movie, the book, the original Alice animated film, and even a hint of Alice: Madness Returns in a steampunky-dark locale.

I can look past the slightly drunken storyline for how incredible the ideas, puns, and artistry are in this movie.

Sadly, our favorite side-kick characters serve as part of the artistry and not part of the real story. But, at least we have Time who is great and not at all what I expected.

Our main character Alice has really come into her own and when her belief in the impossible, something that has always gotten her through, is questioned Wonderland comes to her aid to remind her of what she is capable of. I love that. Believing in impossible things is a tenet of my life goals. I additionally love her transformation into a feminist icon. Alive at a time when women weren’t allowed to do anything, she’s fights against the establishment and makes me want to jump on top of a very tall rock and yell FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY!

But, Alice can still make mistakes and she makes several big one, but of course there are lessons to be learned in all this, just how every Wonderland story should be.

And thanks to Wonderland, there is love, adventure, friendship, puns, family and most of all wonder.

Procrastination and Giggles,
The Red Queen

P.S. FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY…Also, did I mention how much I love the puns in this movie?

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

sleeping-giantsYou know how sometimes you read the first chapter of a novel and you just know that you’re going to love the whole book?

I had that feeling with Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.

Sleeping Giants is a story about a giant alien robot and the people who struggle to piece it together and operate it. There’s Rose Franklin, who as a child fell into the hand of the first piece. There’s Kara Resnik, an Army pilot who joins the team to pilot the robot. There’s Ryan Mitchell, her partner, and Vincent Couture, the linguist brought in to decipher the alien symbols. There’s a psychopathic geneticist, and then there’s the mysterious interviewer.

That’s right. The story is told in a series of interview files, with the occasional newspaper article or other transcribed recording. That particular style can be difficult, but Neuvel handles it very well. It strains the limits of believability in some of the more action-heavy chapters, but it’s very effective on the whole. Generally speaking though, it lends the novel an aura of realism that brings everything closer to home.

And the characters shine through their recorded dialogue. Unlike some of the other books I’ve read recently, the female characters are fully realized with agency of their own, and the male characters are almost tragic. Each is highly unique; you’ll know from their dialogue which character is speaking even without reading whose interview you’re looking at.

The plot is really intriguing, one part science fiction and one part political thriller. It deals with the theme of how to responsibly use power and mixes it with a first contact story of sorts. We get the politics of the U.S. versus Russia versus the Koreas versus an assortment of other governments. And all the while, you experience the joy of scientific discovery as the team finds all the pieces, discovers how to turn the robot on, and begins meddling with the controls.

Neuvel handles it all equally well. He socks you in the stomach several times with brutal, horrifying screw-ups – and the book is all the more realistic for those gut-wrenching moments. This is not sunshine and rainbows, and each time you think it’s over, there’s another one coming.

It all moves along quickly due to the nature of the writing style, which doesn’t really allow for boring or unimportant chapters, and before you know it you’ll be through the book and hungry for more.

Sleeping Giants also leaves a lot of questions unanswered, especially around who the interviewer is and around the race who built the robot. We don’t know if we’ll make true first contact, or if a world war will yet break out. Even as it draws to a close, it keeps you hooked and curious.

The epilogue is yet another smack in the face which poses even more questions, and I absolutely cannot WAIT to get my hands on the second book in the series. Kudos to Neuvel on an excellent debut!

Grade: 4.5/5

Memorable Quote:

“I can’t see anything but metal. And the visor on the helmet looks completely opaque, so if there’s no screen, then I won’t see anything at all. Use the Force, Luke! Maybe that’s it. Maybe this is a really big Jedi training thing, to see if you can move a ten-thousand ton dummy around with your eyes closed.
I don’t think there’s anything else I can try before I put on the helmet. You know, this really looks like a helicopter helmet. I’m putting it over my head now. I wonder if…
AAAAAAAARRRRRRRHHHHHHH…”

— Sleeping Giants, pg. 76

-Regina

Originally appeared on Regina’s personal blog

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

the-emperors-bladesI have mixed feelings on The Emperor’s Blades. I want to love it, I really do – but I can’t bring myself to get past “like.” On paper, this book looks like a perfect fit for my tastes, but in practice I found it somewhat lacking.

The book focuses on the three children of the recently deceased Emperor of Annur. The eldest son and heir to the throne, Kaden, is training as a monk in some remote mountains and hasn’t seen his family in years. The other son, Valyn, is also training, but with an elite fighting force called the Kettral. Meanwhile, their sister Adare is in the capital struggling to bring their father’s killer to justice.

The book’s description leads you to believe that these three stories will be told in equal parts, but that is entirely not the case. Adare gets short-changed in a major way, and yet her story moves the fastest and is by far the most interesting since she is in direct confrontation with the emperor’s killer. Adare has far fewer chapters than either of her brothers, both of whose stories (but Kaden’s in particular) drag on for pages without much progress.

Kaden’s story takes forever to get moving, and for many chapters it’s a struggle to see what the point of his monastic training is. The reveal is pretty good – that Kaden is there to learn a particular set of skills that he needs to be emperor in case an almost-forgotten and half-mythic race comes roaring back to attack the present. Yet I couldn’t really bring myself to like Kaden, and slogged through his chapters only because I needed to in order to get back to Adare and Valyn.

Speaking of which, Valyn was at least interesting to read even if his plot moved slowly. The training sequences were good reading, and the big test to officially become a member of the Kettral was probably the single best sequence in the book. Born without the divine eyes of his father and two siblings, Valyn has the most interesting character arc as he discovers his own special abilities and function.

But, much like Pierce Brown in Red Rising, Brian Staveley seems to struggle with writing female characters that have agency. Most of the female characters in the book primarily function as sexual interests for other characters (and that doesn’t exclude Adare). I was so hopeful for Lin, only to have the rug yanked out from underneath me halfway through. I’ll have to peg my hopes on Gwenna for the next one, though Staveley has made me very leery.

On the plus side, Staveley has created a fantastic magical system that is wonderfully unique. His magicians are “leeches” – they each have a “well” from which they draw all their power. If they are separated from their well, they have no power. On top of that, leeches are reviled in Annur, so the leech characters in the Kettral jealously guard the knowledge of their wells and actively try to obfuscate where they get their power. It’s a really delightful concept that I savored throughout the book.

Despite that, the world feels…small. Maybe it’s because each character is so ensconced in their own setting and never really leaves, but overall the world felt very generic. I didn’t get the sense of strong worldbuilding that I like in a good fantasy novel. Many things were unclear or confusing, and we did next to no traveling.

As I said, I wanted to love this book. It’s got great plot elements that I really like, with a magic system unlike any I’ve seen and good political intrigue. On the other hand, there are major issues with the female characters (including undercutting of Adare), one of the main characters is pretty boring, and the world doesn’t have the expansive wonder it should.

I’m interested enough to read the second book; I’ve already purchased it and put it on my list. Many of these problems can be fixed easily, and I’m happy to give Staveley the chance to win me over. I just wish I could have rated this one higher – it had such potential.

Grade: 3.5/5

Memorable Quote:

“Valyn stumbled to his feet, snatched up the rapidly dwindling torch, and wrenched a short blade from its sheath. Slarn didn’t make that sort of sound. The bellow came again, a hideous roar of rage and hunger that echoed off the hard stone walls, filling Valyn’s brain, reverberating inside his skull. He forced his legs into motion, lurched toward the nearest passageway a dozen paces distant. Again the roar. Closer this time. Valyn risked a glance over his shoulder and glimpsed, in the distant recess of the cavern, in the fickle penumbra of the torch, a monster carved straight from the bloody dark of nightmare: scales, talons, teeth, all black as smoke steel, a dozen unnatural joints flexing in the shadow. And the size of it…It made the slarn he’d fought in the tunnels above look like puppies.
The king, he realized, dread lurching in his stomach.”

— The Emperor’s Blades, pg. 232-233

-Regina

Originally appeared on Regina’s blog

Red Rising

red-rising

What do you get when you cross Battle Royale and Ender’s Game and then set them on Mars for good measure? Red Rising, that’s what.

This book sucker punches you with its opening (see below) and then just keeps running. It’s very much in the same vein as The Hunger Games, but with added class warfare. The main character, Darrow is a Red on Mars – the lowest of the low. But after his wife dies, he joins with a rebellious organization to take down the tiered society and creates re-created as a Gold. He tests in and gets sent to their elite academy, which pits the students against each other in war games to teach them hardship.

Red Rising is paced exceptionally well; the plot never drags, and it’s the kind of novel that you want to consume all in one sitting (which is totally doable). It zooms through the opening, the book-equivalent of a training montage, Darrow’s entry into Gold society and then dives into the meat of the book – the war games.

And Darrow is the kind of hero who is basically impossible to dislike, even when he does really awful things like straight-up murder Cassius’s brother Julian to make it through his initiation or bail on his House and let them fall under the thumb of a brutal leader. The story is written in first person, so you never forget that opening sucker punch, which sets up his motivation and thrums underneath the surface of the rest of the novel. He is, ultimately, sympathetic, because we all have to wonder what kinds of horrible things we would be capable of if we were in his shoes. On top of that, he doesn’t actively try to be a bad person, and he becomes a rallying point for many of his comrades.

The rest of the characters aren’t bad either. Cassius is a nice foil to Darrow, the light to Darrow’s occasional darkness at the beginning, which reverses as the novel progresses. Sevro and Roque were particular favorites as well; Darrow wouldn’t have succeeded in the war games without Sevro, who proves to be his truest and best lieutenant. And what’s a book without a good villain? The Jackal is pretty terrifying, especially when you learn how he earned his name, and he’s not out of the series by any means.

The world is fully realized and fascinating – I was drinking in the mentions of all the different color castes and all the different planets and moons that have been colonized. It feels bigger than the story, which is always the goal for a novel like this one. It’s also got a distinctly Roman feel, given the names of some of the characters (Cassius, Titus, Sevro) and the prominent usage of the Roman gods. Sure, it’s definitely very stereotypical dystopia (I mean, it’s called the Society, for heaven’s sake) and you’ve seen it before, but there are enough original twists to make it fun to read.

I’ve got to take points off for the treatment of women in this novel though. I was mad as hell that Eo died only to spur Darrow on and BEYOND angry that Mustang (who is a pretty cool character and takes care of herself for most of the novel) gets DAMSELED toward the end of the novel to once again spur Darrow on. And we’re not even going to talk about the rapes or the straight-up murder-for-no-good-reason of one of the other female characters. This book has no time for its females except insofar as they serve to motivate Darrow. It’s annoying as hell, because I liked this book SO MUCH and I would have liked it so much more if its female characters actually had some agency of their own.

That was my only major quibble with the book though – otherwise, this book kicked ass. I can’t wait to readGolden Sun and Morning Star, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the author figures out how to write a female character properly somewhere in those two books – because if he can work that out, he’s got a bright future.

Grade: 4/5

Memorable Quote:

“The first thing you should know about me is I am my father’s son. And when they came for him, I did as he asked. I did not cry. Not when the Society televised his arrest. Not when the Golds tried him. Not when the Grays hanged him. Mother hit me for that. My brother Kieran was supposed to be the stoic one. He was the elder, I the younger. I was supposed to cry. Instead, Kieran bawled like a girl when Little Eo tucked a haemanthus into Father’s left workboot and ran back to her own father’s side. My sister Leanna murmured a lament beside me. I just watched and thought it a shame that he died dancing but without his dancing shoes.

On Mars there is not much gravity. So you have to pull the feet to break the neck. They let the loved ones do it.”

— Red Rising, pg. 3

-Regina

Originally appeared on Regina’s blog

Review of Game of Thrones S6E4: Book of the Stranger

game-of-thrones-s6e4

Image courtesy of Screencapped.net

Remember when I said that S6E2: Home was probably Game of Thrones’ best episode to date?

Yeeeah, I might be revising that opinion now.

After what felt like a down episode last week, S6E4: Book of the Stranger was just on fire – literally. (We’ll get to that.) Once again, the scenes were largely strong, with little to no fluff or filler.

We got what may have been the single most heartwarming scene on the show to date – Jon and Sansa’s reunion. I don’t think they could have chosen better when picking which two Starks to reunite first; giving us Jon and Sansa, who were never really close to begin with, was a lovely way to demonstrate how much pain both of them have experienced and how much they have both grown. Sansa insists Jon forgive her for her failings, but in light of everything since they last saw each other, those failings are so small that they can laugh about it too. Oddly enough, they are now closer than they ever have been.

They also needed each other, more than Bran or Arya (though not necessarily Rickon) needs their family. Jon needs someone to jolt him out of his semi-depression as he struggles with his feelings of betrayal and the pain of returning to confront his murderers. Sansa needs someone to help her take back Winterfell and get rid of Ramsay, and that cause is just enough to force an unwilling Jon out of his mood.

These scenes were so good it made me leery of the rest of the season, because good things NEVER happen to the Starks on this show, not without some kind of devastating payback later.

The other scenes happening in the North were equally fantastic. I am hardcore on board with the Tormund/Brienne shippers, because Tormund would have so much respect for Brienne that I’m not sure she would find elsewhere. Davos confronting Melisandre about serving Jon was a nice reminder of how mistaken and infallible Melisandre can be, but it confirms that she plans to serve Jon as she once served Stannis.

But the kicker, the WONDROUS kicker, was Brienne confronting Davos and Melisandre, reminding them that she witnessed Renly’s murder and then throwing it in their faces that she personally killed Stannis. (For a second I wondered if she was going to tell Davos that Melisandre burned Shireen, which definitely would have wedged a surprisingly friendly Melisandre and Davos apart, but alas – it was not to be.) The look of shock on Davos’ face…priceless.

I have never really cared for the North plotlines in the books, but damned if the show isn’t making a good run at turning them into my favorites.

Next up – Baelish is back! There were many cheers in my household when Baelish stepped out of that carriage, and even more cheers as he put the manipulation whammy on Lord Royce. Baelish looked like he was going to eat Royce alive when he accused Royce of treachery in front of Robyn, who is clearly wrapped around “Uncle Petyr’s” finger. It showcased the power that Baelish wields in the Vale very well, and it set up next week’s mission into the North to “rescue” Sansa.

In YET ANOTHER oddly touching scene, Yara and Theon’s reunion was also well-handled. I actually prefer this version over the books, because here we have Theon straight-up recognizing that he is not the right person to rule the Iron Islands and putting his support behind his sister. It caught her off-guard and softened her, reinforcing that she does care about him still. It’s also another step to Theon picking up the pieces of his life and getting rid of Reek.

After a few weeks of languishing, the King’s Landing storyline is finally poised to deliver some action. This time Cersei and Jaime came armed with a common cause, and it’s a good one – getting Margaery away from the Faith. And we actually got to see Margaery and her brother this week! Margaery has been one of my favorites for some time, and it did me proud to see that she remained unbroken, at least until her brother begged her to give in. It sounds like the Tyrell armies will be in town next week or the week after, and I highly doubt that Olenna will back down until her grandchildren are free. (Additional pro to this week in King’s Landing – no mention of the Dornish Fiasco!)

Meereen was better than usual this week, not that that’s saying terribly much. Tyrion is actually trying to make some progress on fixing Dany’s mess, hampered and questioned along the way by Missandei and Grey Worm. The writers continue to put a lot of the show’s best quotable lines in Tyrion’s mouth, and this week was no exception, with his line about both slavery and war being evil and being unable to stop them both. If Dany would just stay away a bit longer, Tyrion might be able to get Meereen on stable ground.

Speaking of Dany, holy hell. Dany’s refusal to leave wasn’t necessarily puzzling in and of itself, though I was curious how she thought she could take over the Dothraki without Drogon, but once I saw her put her hand on that brazier in the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen…

This is what Dany is best at – fire and blood, her house’s words. She’s not good at governing, but she’s damn good at setting things on fire and using awe and fear to build a following that helps her seize power. And regardless of whether Book!Dany is immune to fire, the show is clearly operating under the assumption that she is. The image of her yet again walking out of the conflagration unharmed is a powerful one, and now she’s acquired yet another large army. It’s about to be bad news bears for the cities of Slaver’s Bay.

On the whole, this season has re-energized my enthusiasm for the characters and the story. I’m chomping at the bit again to get each week’s episode in a way that I just couldn’t muster for the last two seasons, and I have a feeling this will be my favorite season to date once it’s complete.

-Regina

Originally appeared on Regina’s blog

WE HAVE A TWITTER

If you couldn’t tell from the title, we are just letting all of our fans know that we now have a Twitter account @QueensNerdcraft

If you enjoy our blog posts you should check out our tweets. Not only will you get twitter updates when we have a new post but also some live tweeting of our favorite shows and books. Yes, our reviews are humorous and excellent, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve witnessed Amidala’s live tweets.

Hope to see you here and on the tweets.

Procrastination and Giggles,
The Red Queen

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Winter.jpg

Princess Winter is beloved and despite her scars her beauty is arguably greater than the queen’s. While the princess seems to be meek and tame, she fights back against Queen Levana’s reign of terror in her own quiet way. Winter doesn’t use her powers and it is driving her mad.

Cinder and her compatriots have finally arrived on Luna and are attempting to take down Levana’s empire from within. But in order to do so they need to enlist the Lunar people. This is where Winter comes to their aid as does her loyal guard Jacin.

In this final installment of the Lunar Chronicles we enter the last fairytale, Snow White. Here we learn more about Luna’s dark history, the powers that each Lunar has, and the limits of Cinder’s fury driven momentum.

While I think we have too many characters, I appreciate Meyer’s ability to balance them. Each character receives just enough pages for the reader to understand their motivations, backgrounds and role in the larger picture. Many of these characters could have been left behind and there would have been ways to still reach the finale, but Meyer at least tries to make each individual indispensable to the cause even if that requires some extra suspension of disbelief.

I enjoyed reading this book. I enjoyed the twist on the fairytale and Winter quickly became my favorite character.

“She was prettier than a bouquet of roses and crazier than a headless chicken. Fitting in was not an option.”

I love her fight, her agony, her passion and that she is trying to change the game from within, an attitude that I personally respect. However, I must echo a thought from reading Cress, I dislike that every character is paired up.

“And they all lived happily to the end of their days.”

Continue reading

The Rose & the Dagger sacrifices exposition for style

TheRoseandTheDagger.jpg

Shazi is in the desert with her family but surrounded by people who hate the love of her life. Meanwhile, Khalid is fading fast and their country is on the brink of war. Tariq, Shazi’s childhood friend, commands the forces set to destroy the empire but darker forces, and cunning plots are at work. Shazi has to master her powers, save her king, stop a war, and protect her family before they hit the point of no return.

My relationship with book one (review here) was complex. I began with high hopes and then took a downswing and then by the end I loved it. I loved  Shazi’s journey and the love story.

I had a similarly complex relationship with this book. But it didn’t end on the same high note. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I respect that Ahdieh chose to stay committed to the storybook feel that she developed, but this story lacked a climax. I wanted the big battle, I wanted the training montage, I wanted Shazi kicking ass and taking names and I didn’t get it.

The dramatic  final moment lacked exposition. I should have cried, but I didn’t. I should have grieved, but I didn’t. I should have been shocked, but I wasn’t. I get that some of that was a stylistic choice. Decisions were made during the writing process and it allowed consistency between the two books and style. But, it also prevented me from falling in love with the characters and calling this one of my favorite books.

Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones S6E3: Oathbreaker

game-of-thrones-s6e3

This week’s episode wasn’t firing on all cylinders the way last week’s was, but it was still an okay episode overall.

In particular, I thought Jon’s storyline was well-handled. Kudos to Kit Harrington for that initial scene, because it really was one of his better pieces of acting. He did an excellent job of portraying how unsettling and unnerving it would be to return from the dead remembering your own murder. Likewise, Melisandre was also strong in that scene, with her desperate questioning of Jon about the afterlife and fervent urging that someone must be Azor Ahai (pretty clearly Jon at this point).

The concluding execution scene was probably my favorite of the episode. I really like what the show has done with Alliser Thorne; far from the straight-up jerk he was in the books, Show!Alliser has been portrayed in the last few seasons as a short-sighted but principled man who disagrees with Jon and acts on it. His final words were a perfect conclusion to that arc and very satisfying overall. I was scared for a moment that Jon was going to have mercy and cut Olly down. I’m glad he didn’t – we needed to see that death has changed Jon. And like many have speculated in the past few months, Jon’s watch has ended.

The next-best scene was the long-awaited (and sadly incomplete) Tower of Joy scene. I wish they had kept the dialogue from the books between Ned and the Kingsguard, but on the whole the scene was still satisfying. Arthur Dayne was fun to watch, and Bran’s commentary made the scene more enjoyable, in my eyes – there’s nothing this show does better than strip away innocence. I should have known better than to think that we’d get to see the inside of the Tower of Joy, but it was still enjoyable.

The rest of the episode was varying degrees of interesting:

  • I’m really over Cersei trying to be Tywin, though I did love Kevan just up and leaving her when she tried to force her way into the Small Council meeting.
  • Relatedly, Dorne got mentioned and now I’m terrified that Dorne is not over.
  • As much as I love Tyrion, the extended scene between him, Grey Worm and Missandei was wholly unnecessary.
  • After showing some promising signs of growing a backbone, Tommen almost immediately caved to the High Sparrow in conversation – I don’t see this ending well.
  • I asked where Sam and Gilly were last week, and now I regret it.
  • Poor Shaggydog. I’m sure I don’t like where the North is headed.
  • Arya is one “Eye of the Tiger” short of a training montage. But she has her sight back now, so that’s something.

Other than Jon’s scenes and the Tower of Joy, the only other scene I can say I definitely enjoyed was watching Varys in action. We’ve known for a while that Varys wields a lot of power and leverage, but I really liked him in action. I found him quite threatening and ominous in this scene, and I look forward to more like it.

To be honest, I was hoping for more Sansa/Brienne this week, but was disappointed. Thankfully, it looks like she’ll be back next week – along with Baelish (finally!). I’m ready to put this episode behind me as the first truly mediocre one of the season and get excited for whatever we’re about to see in episode four.

-Regina

Originally posted on Regina’s personal blog

Captain America: Civil War Takes on Another Adult Theme & Nails It

captain-america-civil-war

#TeamIronMan all the way!

The Captain America movies have really impressed me. They went from being my least favorite of the Marvel mini-franchises to my favorite in the space of two movies (even though Cap is still not my favorite Avenger), and they’ve done it primarily through the incorporation of much more adult themes.

The Winter Soldier tackled the problems with secret organizations, power and surveillance; Civil War takes a step beyond that to look at what happens after the earth-threatening events are passed. Once the world is saved, how do you deal with these superbeings? Who watches the Watchmen?

Yeah, it’s not a new theme. (The Incredibles did it too, actually). But Civil War does it really really well and frames it around the relationship and emotional turmoil of Cap and Bucky. Bucky is fighting to regain the identity and memories that were stripped from him by Hydra. After struggling with the loss of personal freedom inherent in the Sokovia Accords (supported by Iron Man), Cap defies them to strike out on his own and save a framed Bucky.

All of this is great, but the movie really shone in three subplots:

tumblr_nycz03pbqi1ufe918o1_500

#badass

  1. Everything around Black Panther. This movie served as his introduction, and it was a doozy. He was my favorite part of the film, every time he came on screen. He didn’t bother to hide his identity, and he spends most of the film trying to take down Bucky as revenge for his father. His suit is simply badass, and he has a quiet power that doesn’t need to be shouted from the rooftops like that of Iron Man and many of the other heros. His words serve as the framework for the climax of the film, and it’s in his words that we see hope for the resolution of the Civil War.
  2. The interactions between Vision and Wanda. I’m a HUGE fan of Vision and his dedication to peace. In my opinion, he is the most godlike Avenger (and I said that to mean not only in his power level, which is on par with Thor and Hulk, but also in his demeanor). His strong desire to help and protect Wanda, especially after she accidentally kills several people in the opening scene, makes for a beautiful subplot – especially when the movie spends a lot of time vilifying her. It’s almost reminiscent of Doctor Manhattan and Silk Specter in Watchman, except with the relationship going in the reverse direction.
  3. Spiderman. We got 30 minutes of Spiderman, and they were better than all the previous Spiderman movies put together. This Spiderman is an awkward, gawky teenage boy who just wants to do some good. He’s starstruck by the other Avengers, but he’s doing his best. And I SO cannot wait to see him return in another Marvel film.

The film’s not perfect. There are some obvious plotholes (like why didn’t Vision shut down Wanda during the big hero v. hero confrontation?) but this is definitely top three Marvel film material. The fight sequences are beautifully executed, particularly the climactic battle between all the superheroes. Each Avenger is paired with the perfect opposite number (e.g., Hawkeye & Black Widow), and there are several excellent team-up moments, not least of which was everything involving Ant Man. Between new Spiderman and Ant Man, you ought to be falling out of your seat laughing.

The final beautiful thing about this film is how well it gives you both sides of the story. Regardless of whose side you’re on, the film will give you a lens to view the other side with sympathy. No one is wholly wrong, no one is wholly right. Iron Man is haunted by the people who have died as collateral damage and wants to protect those people in the future, while Cap, spurred by Peggy Carter’s death and the possibility of rescuing Bucky, stands firm against the loss of freedom the Sokovia Accords necessitate.

I initially thought this felt more like an Avengers film than a Captain America film, but the core of it really does center on Cap. The final confrontation between Cap and Iron Man is brutal and gutwrenching, and even though I was fairly certain I knew the outcome, I still flinched at one moment.

You need to see this one. It’s a 5/5 star Marvel film, and you can make an argument for it being the best one they’ve produced to date. Oh, and obviously – don’t leave after the credits.

-Regina

Originally appeared on Regina’s personal blog