Sunday, 27 April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie
UK Release Date: 20th March 2014

My rating: 4/5

So I actually saw this before I saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which I have already reviewed but as I had plans to see it again I thought I'd wait to post so it was fresh in the memory.

It's nigh impossible to write this review without any kind of plot spoilers so *****SPOILER ALERT***** just in case.

What I'll say to start off is that I knew the identity of the Winter Soldier long before the film came out. Not to say it ruined the film for me because it didn't but being the keen fan that I am I read all about it months before the film was released. I just thought I'd mention it because I guess it means my viewing was maybe a little skewered? I don't know.

Anyway. As you've probably heard the film is great. It is the ultimate conspiracy theory and has possibly one of Marvel's strongest story-lines. Throughout the film we see Steve Rodgers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) struggle to acclimatise with modern society while sticking to his really rather strong morals. He is now a fully fledged S.H.I.E.L.D. agent but he's struggling with it; questioning whether being a superhero-for-hire is really for him. When he's left only able to trust the morally questionable, killer-for-hire Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson) it's no wonder he struggles and when the identity of the Winter Soldier is revealed to him in the midst of it all his world is well and truly rocked. Sam Wilson aka the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) is almost a flashback to when Steve Rodgers was just Steve Rodgers, just an ordinary man willing to do anything to make a difference and with the end of the film teasing that he'll be a relatively permanent fixture by the Captain's side I'm interested to see where his character goes (especially as his wings were destroyed and I'm sure he said they were the only ones left). 

There are the witty one-liners that are now a staple feature in the new phase of Marvel films and some not-so-subtle teasers of potential future spin-off films (Dr. Stephen Strange for instance) this gritty storyline really is one for both the comic fans and those who are just looking for a film to watch. It is one of the few superhero movies that is actually set in quite a recognisable reality. The freedom vs. security debate of S.H.I.E.L.D. is relatable to all. Obviously the film delivers on the action front and the Winter Soldier gives Captain America a worthy opponent. Their fight scenes are scrappy and (thankfully) relatively CGI-free! They're honest and gritty fights of evenly matched heroes that no one can really complain about.

The key role of Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow kind of made me feel sorry for Hawkeye who, outside of the Avengers, has only found himself in a cameo role in Thor. I'm sure thats just me and a love for Jeremy Renner but there's only so often I can hear Natasha/Natalia Romanov's I don't know and don't want to know who I am, my past doesn't define me, I'm going clean spiel before I start to stop caring.

There is only really one thing that I came out still questioning and its the character of Batroc. Now Captain America is a super-soldier, we all saw that happen in the first film, so we know that he is super strong and most people tend to go down after the first hit. Batroc however was really quite resilient, springy and remarkably good at avoiding death and I feel we weren't given a reason why or how that was possible. It's a small problem really but if anyone saw something I missed feel free to drop me a comment.

Marvel have a lot of clearing up to do before The Avengers 2 of both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Winter Soldier issue and I quite look forward to seeing how they're going to do it.

After a Quicksilver teaser in both the Captain America 2 (for Avengers 2) and the new Spider-man (for X-Men) credits I'm also intrigued to see how Marvel is going to handle this character-off. Personally I'm backing Evan Peters over Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Angus, Thongs. That's all I'll say.)

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment :)
Naomi Joy x

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan
UK Release Date: 16th April 2014

My rating: 4/5

So like the keen comic movie fan I am I went to see the Amazing Spider-Man 2 the day it came out and with the new trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past featuring before the start of the movie I was pumped for what Marvel had to offer this time. I'm going to try to write this review with as few plot spoilers as possible because I would've been heartbroken had I known all the twists before going in.

The film itself. Well. Where do I start? To be quite honest I felt distressed throughout the majority of the film. Several times in the major fight scenes I wanted to punch a couple of the spectators in the face for their stupidity but this I feel is a common feeling when cities get destroyed and superheroes lock horns in films to a rather large and rather entertained audience. 

I want to say something about Jamie Foxx as Electro as it was probably his character that distressed me the most. I think Foxx did a great job. His awkward, social reject Max Dillon character was believable and endearing so his transformation into a very misunderstood, confused and frightened Electro was actually a little heartbreaking. Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn was a wonderful casting choice and his seriously stylish array of sunglasses (honestly, keep an eye out they're great) was delightful. His cockiness as he took over Oscorp displayed some of that typical Marvel humour and possibly made him far more likeable (in a smarmy git kind of way) than he maybe should have been when he later proceeds to become the Green Goblin. The difficulty this series was always going to find is that, having made it so close to the Sam Raimi stab at Spiderman there were going to be comparisons as viewers are probably more likely to have seen this than have read the comics as in my case. This meant that by using the character of the Green Goblin and giving him an entirely different origin story to the one we're used to means things get a bit confusing. I got past that rather quickly so I could get back to enjoying the film though.

As expected (and as was pointed out in every pre-release interview and review) the relationship between Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker and Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy was beautiful and heart-wrenching and their chemistry was (unsurprisingly) believable and honest. Parker's struggle early on as he contemplates the promise he made to her father in the previous film to keep her out of trouble weighs on his and the viewers mind throughout the film.

One thing I will say is the film did feel a little rushed. A couple of hours into the 147 minute film and I turn to my friend and say “but don't they still need to introduce the Rhino?” He comes along and within minutes (after a tense moment when a kid wanders out into heavy gunfire) he's dealt with a gone. I understand that Marvel is trying to link in the sequel and the Avengers (so I've heard?) and so on but perhaps it was too much for one film. [I have to be honest, I feel this was very much an afterthought. It's only now that I'm thinking about it that I've come to this conclusion. I definitely didn't think this whilst watching the film]. 

One final note on the soundtrack as this cannot be ignored in a review of the film the same way it's quite impossible to ignore it whilst watching. You can pretty much rely on Hans Zimmer to deliver a stellar soundtrack but team him up with The Magnificent Six and we take it to epic proportions. I've heard the nu-metal nature of it didn't suit everyone but the electric, rocky, dubsteppy soundtrack really worked for me. So much so that I sought it out on Amazon and Spotify as soon as I got home. Some have said the soundtrack detracted from the story and while I agree that it is actually surprisingly noticeable as far as soundtracks go and at one point I stopped and looked at my friend in awe at the way the soundtrack took the film, I loved it. It's different, yes, but it works.

Overall, while I'm aware this film did split opinion, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is just another great film that Marvel have churned out in recent years with some great action scenes, beautiful acting and a witty but serious story line. I would definitely recommend! 


That's all I can say.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment :)

Naomi Joy x