Monday, April 7, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Cast Headliners:  Chris Evans, Scarlet Johannson, Samuel L Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford

Original Release Date:April 4th, 2014

            In many ways Captain America is the face of the avengers and its central core of the Avengers. He is the moral center, he is a tactician, he is the person most like us; Steve Rogers is so many things.  One of the most beloved superheroes of all time, and one of the strongest parts of the Marvel films. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the second solo movie to feature him, and it’s one of those perfect sequels which refines and gives intricacy to its predecessor as well as expanding the horizons for the future. There is an incredible amount of awesome things in this movie.
            Steve Rogers/Captain America is played so well by Chris Evans, who gives more of the same nuanced performance as the patriot superhero.  The world is in a dangerous period of time after the past events of other Marvel films, and this is reflected in many ways through the film. The tone is possibly the darkest yet, and even the Captain’s costume carries no red white and blue but a solemn black. The best comic book movies contain deep themes, and on hand here are very relevant issues with its plot concerning the price of freedom, government surveillance, and corrupt leaders. Captain America will say things that resonate deeply, and the dialogue and topics are fierce and cutting.  One dark turn after another happens, since unlike World War 2 the enemies of the USA aren’t out in the open anymore. They hide in the shadows, in the blizzard of uncertainty.  The movie’s title of Winter Soldier carries many meanings, for after the fall comes the grey times
 is no need to worry that it has gone too dark however, as there is a lot of trademark Marvel wit and humor.  Nick Fury, played by basically our worlds Nick Fury Samuel L Jackson, is great as always and actually gets to be involved in the most action ever. That’s a great aspect of the movie, in that it both gives old characters new growth and screentime as well as introducing new ones.   We learn a lot about Nick Fury’s past, we get to watch him (in one of the most intense car chases) fight for his life, and he makes some smooth wisecracks. It’s everything that’s loved about him, and there’s more of it in finest form.    In that same pattern is Black Widow, the stunning Scarlet Johansson.   The movie could have just as easily been called “Black Widow: Winter Soldier” as she wrecks foes right alongside the Captain. Before they had not very much interaction in the Marvel universe, but they make a perfect cool combo.  Eventually in the film they are joined by heroic newcomer the Falcon, played pretty well by Anthony Mackie, who has a wing jetpack and mini-guns. Yes it is as awesome as it sounds.  These supporting characters kind of make it the SHIELD/Nick Fury/Black Widow full length movie that fans have always wanted too, and oh my it does deliver.  I can’t speak too much onto why Robert Redford is great Nick Fury’s boss Alexander Pearce, but his track record is well lived up to.
But what are they fighting? Well it’s certainly reccomendable that the film’s twists be experienced firsthand as there are some incredible ones. But suffice to say that Captain America and his comrades face lies, betrayals, and dangerous people who want to kill them and do evilll plots.  The pacing is top notch, with what seems to be a record high number of action sequences that will constantly leave one on the edge of their seat.  It’s surprising to see such sweet action and flashy visuals come from directors the Russo Brothers, who had previously made comedy television series Community and Arrested Development.  This movie proves they know how to entertain people, as like those series plots happen fast and furious but are excitedly digestible.
Remove Captain America, and this still would stand alone as an amazing political thriller action spy film.  But the movie is also about him as a hero, and the incredibly journeys he goes through.  Creator Stan Lee once said that the Cap makes up for a lack of powered armor suits or godhood or spider webs by just being the ultimate form of what a average person could be with enough effort. This makes him really special.  Every fight that happens in the movie feels extra visceral.  The Captain even meets someone who’s an equal fighting force, the titular Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).   Winter Soldier is amazingly fierce, scary, and awesome to see in action. He’s the modern antithesis of the Captain, with being more machine than man and able to slaughter without question. Their clashes are some of the most amazing parts of the movie, and Steve Roger’s past connection to this character make for some extreme emotional feelings.  Be sure to not have forgotten who Bucky was….
(I also wanna make a sidenote how this movie’s plot is TOTALLY LIKE THE METAL GEAR GAMES, SHIELD are the patriots,  Winter Soldier is dark Raiden/Ocelot’s beast unit, there’s even a Tanker opening. Fans will have just been spoiled but will love this, for it is probably a big influence)
This movie is an amazing thrilling tale. The characters are great both old and new.  The directing, acting, visuals, action set-pieces and score make for an treat of pure awesome.  An obvious effort of craft was placed into this film, and it’s ending makes HUGE changes for the future of the Marvel universe, possibly more than any before.  The last time I felt so excited for the future was when Captain America had his first adventure which led to the Avengers movie. This time, it leads to what will be the Avengers sequel, but also so much more.  Thanks Marvel, this was a gem of a gift.  9.15 out of 10 

Muppets Most Wanted Review

Muppets Most Wanted Review
Director: James Bobin

Cast Headliners: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Walter,  Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrel, Tina Fey

Original Release Date: March 21, 2013

(by the way....50th post!!)
Everything was great; everything was grand, when Muppets 2011 was in our hands.  The gang of lovable puppets is back with another, nother , nother movie in The Muppets Most Wanted.  This acts as both a sequel to that film due to it being made by Disney, and the return of Walter. But it is also a spiritual successor of some sorts of the film The Great Muppet Caper from 1981 due to its European locales and crime-based plot shenanigans.  What follows is a decent if slightly repetitive adventure.
The movie starts with the Muppets gang of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and the like all wanting to make a sequel to their last movie. Muppets 2011 was so great because of its musical nature, made by Flight of the Conchord’s Brett Mckenzie, but whereas there it felt really natural here the songs are not quite as catchy or fitting.  Only 1 or 2 songs are memorable, this “We’re Doing a Sequel” song being one highlight.   But there is still a mostly cheery tone. In what might be a big joke in itself, some actual surprising twists are introduced.
Sadly Jason Segel is gone, as he was one of the best parts of the last film. In his stead, the primary human actor is the character of Dominc Badguy(heheh) played by Ricky Gervais.  He serves as assistant to the “dark Kermit” character of Constantine, a frog and wanted criminal.  The two’s usage of the Muppets gang on their European world comedy tour is pretty good, and they are definitely better as comedic villains than Chris Cooper was in the last film.  Another prominent character is inspector Jean Pierre Napoleon played by Ty Burrel, who has some the funniest lines of the movie with the lovable Sam, the American Eagle.  Tina Fey is also very funny as a Siberian security guard where Kermit is sent after being framed.  These are joined by some other brief cameo appearances in classic Muppet tradition which I won’t reveal although they are nothing mind boggling.
There are a lot of goofy laughs and moments, but sometimes the writing isn’t very strong. After the clever wit seen in past films, I expected a bit more.  The whole Kermit-escape-from-alcatraz angle is pretty fun but seeing as how he’s gone for 2/3 the movie gives one a odd feeling. It’s a Muppets movie with the main star missing , and in place is this Constantine. Just as his ruse of running the show is entertaining to crowds but is off, so too does the movie feel a bit like that. A fan of the Muppets will find value in this, but it’s not the best ever by far. However, it is still a silly, pretty musical time and if it seems worth watching it basically is.  7.65 out of 10